Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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Principal Goethe pleads on the TVR for assistance. He warns of the impending freedom of the wolf.

For political reasons, relating to funding and potential liability, he does not explain that the wolf is currently in the basement of the owner of his school.

He simply begs.

He isn’t dead yet. He isn’t half-eaten yet. That happens later.

He’s still alive when this happens.

And shoe leather begins to flow in from all around the world.

“Bombs would not stop the wolf,” explains Mr. Gulley, in an international broadcast. “We will gladly take bombs. We will gladly integrate them into the fabric of our grand design. But this is only because I personally rather like bombs.”

He does not explain his awful wound. He lets the press imagine. They come up with many theories. “Attacked by a savage ex-President who wants the wolf’s power for America” is probably the best.

“I have dim and distant hopes for bombs,” he says, “And the scientists of my Lethal Magnet School, well, they enjoy them, but bombs will not stop the wolf.”

A crack team of astronauts would not be able to stop the wolf.

Principal Goethe explains this with a flip chart on his amazing televisual radio broadcast.

He illustrates how a crack team of astronauts might fly to the wolf, carrying a nuclear payload. He shows how they would use digger robots to make a shaft deep into the fur of the wolf. They would drop the nuclear arsenal under the wolf’s skin and fly away.

But this would not stop the wolf.

“What of Bibury?” asks a nosy reporter, but Goethe just shakes his head.

“Skoll was young,” says Goethe. “Skoll was new.”

“But the bombing of Bibury still killed hi—”

Skoll,” says Principal Goethe, “was just a puppy. Fenris is cunning, sharp, and ruthless. Fenris is older than the hills.”

MacDuff the Crime Hound — actually, MacDuff III, the original Crime Hound having died in the incident with the fire bees, and his daughter having retired after facing a relentless slew of sexist criticism over the course of her career — teaches children wolf safety.

“If a wolf comes to eat you,” he says. “Tell the wolf NO!”

MacDuff the Crime Hound, III, isn’t really expecting that this will stop the wolf. Not even a small one!

He’s just trying to give the children a sense of power over their own lives.

Against the wolf the prayers of the world are futile. No one hears them, except maybe St. Saul, St. Peter, and St. Bethany, and they have no real idea, even if they can hear them, what they could possibly do.

Threats are useless too.

The post office occasionally tries to deliver hate letters, threat letters, and anthrax to the wolf, but here the post office is helpless. They deliver some to the north pole, but this is an error. They visit to the places below Lemuria, where the post office ought not go; this proves equally incorrect. They do not know where the wolf lives so they cannot deliver.

They only know that one day the wolf will come.

A special subsidiary of the Lethal corporation finally perfects a wolf-killing virus made out of the ashes of dead camels and the phoenix. It is administered by remote injection while Mr. Gulley stands back, face drawn tight with a mix of emotions. In the end it only makes Fenris hiccup, smolder, and sulk.

So people rely on their shoes.

“I’ll depend on our shoes,” says Mr. Brown, of Sussex.

“That’s right!” says his daughter Susan.

She takes off her shoes. She brandishes them at the sky in defiant fury. “SHOE!” she yells. “SHOE!”

She is very young.

It is a young person’s yell, in the face of a world of wolves.

And bit by bit people send their shoe leather in to help with the construction of the boot. All across Europe; even Asia, Africa, the Middle East — they send their shoes to the plucky children of the Lethal Magnet School for Wayward Youth.

Only in America — where the signs of trouble and apocalypse have been oddly few and patriotic reverence for hypothetical ravenous ex-Presidents runs high — is the project seen as a special interest and greeted with disdain.

He builds a giant boot, does Mr. Gulley, on the Lethal campus he has made; but he faces the same problem that Hans had lain out for Joffun, so many years ago:

But who could stomp such a boot?

The shoes pour in.



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