Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 2 –

– 2 –

St. Bethany sits on a rooftop and she stares out at the campus and she is in despair. She is a girl for whom there is no happy ending. She is a girl for whom there cannot be hope.

After Bethany’s been sitting there a while Lucy flows out of the darkness.

Lucy stands there in silence.

She wears a pale hat.

“I wasn’t really trying to make friends,” Bethany says. “When I talked to you earlier.”

They had spoken earlier.

“I mean, I loathe you,” St. Bethany explains.

“I know,” Lucy says.

She sits down.

“I don’t want to talk to you,” Bethany stresses, in case Lucy had misunderstood this. “You’re not a nice person. Thing. Person-thing.”

“I don’t have anyone else that I can talk to,” says Lucy.

“It’s amazing,” says Bethany.

“Please,” Lucy says.

Bethany puts her head in her hands. After a while, she says, “Fine.”

“Do you know rock-paper-scissors?” says Lucy.

“I know it,” Bethany says.

“Not trissors,” Lucy clarifies.

“I know it,” Bethany says.

“Not hobbit-Spock-spider, either,” Lucy explains.

“I was old enough to know rock-paper-scissors,” Bethany says, “before the scissors fell.”

People mostly stopped playing rock-paper-scissors, when the scissors fell.

“I guess it wasn’t as weird for you,” Bethany realizes, “if you were living out there, in space.”

“Okay,” Lucy says, after a while.

“So?” Bethany says.

“So I used to play it,” Lucy says, “in space. Rock-paper-scissors. At the evil academy. I became very good at it.”

“You can’t be good at —” Bethany starts.

“I became very good at it,” Lucy emphasizes. “Better than Cyber-Merlin. Better than the Luck Witch. Better’n practically anyone. Like, if we were to play right now, what would you throw?”

“Rock,” says Bethany.

“So, I’d win,” says Lucy.

“That’s amazing,” says Bethany. “Truly a victory worthy of an evil prophet of space.”

“But there are intimations,” Lucy says. “Hints. Shadows.”


But Lucy shakes her head.

“I don’t . . . think so,” says Lucy. “I think — I think your stupid planet has the rock-paper-scissors player that will be the death of me. And I think he is a goat.”

Bethany blinks.

She looks over.

“OK,” she says, “You’re way losing me. Why would you play rock-paper-scissors with a goat?”

“Pride,” says Lucy.

Bethany hesitates. “And . . .why would that kill you?”

Lucy shrugs.

She points over at the chapel. “Chapels always throw rock,” she says. “Because they’re chapels. Right?”

“. . . right?” Bethany guesses.

“So,” says Lucy, “one, two, three.”

Don’t do this to a chapel! People pay good money for those things.

“Wow,” says Bethany, looking between the chapel and the paper that Lucy Souvante has thrown. “That never happens when I play.”

Lucy shrugs.

“I just get, like, Leonard Nimoy appearing out of nowhere to sing about hobbits or whatever. At most.”

“You are a degenerate, sub-human species,” says Lucy, inaccurately. “You have lost the true game, given to you by God.”

“No,” says Bethany.

“Well,” says Lucy, “I suppose that a saint might know more than a prophet.”

Bethany sighs.

“The Church doesn’t actually acknowledge us,” she says. “It turns out that there is this whole process that doesn’t rely on having somebody put a magic hat on you at all. At most we are officially cardinals.”

“That’s the spirit,” says Lucy, who is, after all, an evil prophet. “Look upon the meaninglessness of the world and despair!”

They do this for a while as the last few bits of chapel sift slowly to the ground.

After a while St. Saul comes and joins them.

“Despairing at the meaninglessness of the world?” Bethany asks him.

“Stomachache,” says Saul.

“Have one or are one?” Lucy asks. Sometimes she eats people.

Saul raises an eyebrow at her.

“Just asking,” Lucy explains.



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