Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 4 –

– 4 –

In those days gods walked among us courtesy of Konami Corporation.

One of them stood right there —

Right over there, in that blasted pit that not even the repavers can heal.

It happened like this.

There’s a cat curled up on old Mrs. Parson’s porch.

There’re crows croaking raucously on a nearby power line.

Melanie Cook walks up from the west. She doesn’t look around. She finds a square of sidewalk and she sets up her Konami Thunder Dance pad.

The crows go silent as death.

She plugs her pad into a PlayStation 6 and an uninterruptible power supply. She kicks off her shoes. She steps up onto the pad.

The cat uncurls. It stretches. It lopes away.

There should be someone else.

The world hurts that there’s no one else. It’s not supposed to happen — dancing the Konami Thunder Dance alone. But it’s way too dangerous, what Melanie plans to do.

So there’s no one else.

There’s just an echo — through time, maybe; through the looking glass, maybe; something come crawling up out of the depths of Melanie’s mind.

A distortion. A shimmer in the air. A shadow.

It walks down the road. It wobbles. It sets up something that isn’t a dance pad. It does something that isn’t plugging it in.

And smugly, because it is permitted under the poorly-translated rules of the American localization of the Konami Thunder Dance, it rotates its not-head on the top of its not-neck and it looks her full upon in the eyes.

She shudders at what she sees then. For a long moment, she loses her groove entirely.

That’s when it presses its power button with its toe.

Like God had allegedly done in that sacred vision that inspired Hiro Matsuda to make Konami Thunder Dance, it presses the power button; for both Melanie and the thing that will dance against her, the Symbols of the game begin to flow.

There’s no turning back now!

Melanie shudders. She attempts to shake off the weird that has fallen upon her. She recovers a bit of her composure, moves with a frantic haste, and starts wiring a hacked Furby into the open console of her PlayStation 6.

The Konami Thunder Dance pad divides into eight regions of twenty-one keys. Eight-key sequences, properly timed, combine to form a Symbol. Even allowing for a certain redundancy — most of the sequences have four to seven redundant versions — there are more Symbols available than even the best Dancer could possibly learn in their lifetime; more than they could ever dance, even by accident; more, to be honest, than they could ever even conceptualize.

She is reaching, nevertheless, for something more.

She is pushing the frontiers of Konami Thunder Dance science — well, practice — and if her work succeeds, if she can push it through, then she will Dance the impossible. A ten-step Symbol, maybe. Maybe even a twelve-step. Maybe — and this is her darkest and most twisted dream — sixteen.

Sixteen, she is certain, and she could recover the world; make it over in her image;

Take all that is shadowed, dark, and suffering; bring it to its crescendo; and then end it there, crash it there, and tumble all the horror and folly down.

Take all that is shadowed, dark, and suffering; redeem or end it; make it bright.

In the meantime, as she wires, she is missing the steps of the dance; her score is plummeting; and the shadow, the film in the air, the strange horror that regards her, dances HATE.

Its hate is bubbling in her. It is ripping through her.

Her joints are melting into glass spheres; they are the holders of candles, there is fire in them. This is uncomfortable and inconvenient, but she will not die of it. She grins ghastly at the shadow that is opposing her. She looks both ways before crossing streets. She eats her vegetables. She always wears her seat belt when she’s in the car.

A girl like that —

She can survive two and a half minutes with candle-joints, and she’ll only need two minutes fifteen.

It’s not enough to kill her.

If she hasn’t died, in fact, she is living yet.

The shadow dances BLOOD at her.



These it dances, of course, to Daikenkai, while she fails Time after Time.

If she had a dance meter, it would be red by now. If she’d had stars, they would have dimmed to gray. She is dying, in the sense that she is playing Konami Thunder Dance without a safety, and her joints are full of fire, and she will die within seconds when she fails out.

She is dying; but she is also winning, because the last connection is suddenly in place.

And suddenly the world is still and waiting. Even the sliding dance arrows of the song seem to hold their breath. Suddenly her opponent is not dancing; the heat shimmer that is facing her is not moving but simply regarding her, watching, waiting, and Melanie takes a step.

And another.

And another two.


Her Furby’s eyes burn with an alien malice. This is why you oughtn’t hack Furbies. There’s data thick and heavy in the air.

Nine-ten. Eleven.

She dances the twelfth step; she can take it no further. Further than that she cannot go.

With a snap, the world resumes its motion. It shakes, like an image on a pane of glass that is wobbling; like a shaman’s drum, struck by a shaman’s stick.

Her enemy dissolves; is revealed as nothing.

Her joints clean, and her body cools, and her score inflates.

She dances the symbol ITSERBANI, that has never been seen before; has never been known before; it is a concept new and never previously experienced in all the world.

It does not satisfy her.

She dances another: this one SCITTERFISCE.

These, and others, there, until at last the thing that lets her dance the Thunder Dance gives out inside her; until it is gone from her, burnt out within her, and she is sagging, weeping, and the road where she’d been dancing is nothing more than a blasted pit.

If she’d managed fourteen!

If she’d managed fourteen! If she’d only managed sixteen!

But the Furby was not designed for interfacing with a PlayStation, nor with Heaven. The Furby was not enough for it; the PlayStation 6 was not, I think, enough for it; and in the end, well, neither was she.

And the Symbol she dreamed of, the perfect Symbol, the Symbol


It never got actually danced.



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