Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 10 –

– 10 –

She doesn’t want to fight it.

It suddenly occurs to Bethany that, as a girl with no hope, a girl who doesn’t want to inflict pain on other creatures, she doesn’t actually want to be fighting a gigantic civilization-destroying storm. It isn’t a very good life move.

Her heartbeat is so terribly loud.

She skips back as the lightning rises; moves her hands. She cuts it, positive left, negative right, and it drives her upwards. She climbs the column of lightning to a gasping height of space.

She isn’t entirely sure how to explain things to the nithrid —

“I don’t want to fight —” she starts.

The nithrid strikes her down.

It is the nature of Tom’s hat to grant a certain kind of perfection. From the moment she’d crowned herself with his kether-hat, Bethany has been one thing exactly; as a light shining from the past to the future, unbowed, unbending, and perfectly straight.

The wind blows and the lightning lashes, and it moves faster, and she is turning and turning and the clothes of her are woven with red and lightning, and the nithrid does not stop, for day after day it drives her and it does not stop; but neither, in those conditions, will or, for that matter, can she.

She throws aside the thousandth bolt as she threw aside the first one.

The nithrid’s four thousandth attack, just the same.

She touches ground for a moment in Glasgow, one-footed. Not long after she is tumbling across Madrid. She is a world-spanning movement; she is in Dunsbury, then Cowbridge; Tondern, then Alagir; Suzhou —

It is not until she reaches Tokyo that she does anything that might be considered a mistake at all; and even that is because she has lost her own perfect hat, her own millinery invention. Even that is because the ultimate hope of a happy ending has been stripped from her —

And it may have been intentional, nevertheless.

She doesn’t think so! Even in the private corners of her soul, she doesn’t think so!

But there may be a deeper and more private corner of Bethany, where even Bethany herself is not allowed to go —

She concedes this —

That has always thought being the one to destroy Tokyo Tower would be cool.



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