Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

Categories Navigation Menu

– 3 –

– 3 –

Edmund goes to Tom. He stares at him with whitened eyes.

“I’m so tired of this, ” he says.

“I’m so sorry,” says Tom. His face twitches, once, twice.

“I am so tired of wanting to eat people,” Edmund says, “And you are the House of Dreams. Help me.”

“There’s no help for you,” says Tom. “This is you, Edmund. This is who you really are.”

He is pinned against the wall. Edmund is holding him there casually.

“This isn’t me,” says Edmund. His face twitches. “This is how your hat saw me. This isn’t even all of how your hat saw me. This is one strand of how it saw me; one piece of me, one moment of me, one perspective; and you took your hat and you made me something to be afraid of, because I trusted you unwisely, unaware of the treachery of meat and hats.”

“No,” manages Tom.

“Did you really think I wouldn’t notice?” says Edmund. “Do you really think I’d look back on my past and look at my present and think, ‘wow, what an amazing refinement to my Edmund Gulley?’”

Tom makes Tom-wroth gestures of his neck to indicate that Edmund should put him down.

Finally, Edmund does.

Tom smoothes himself down like a ruffled cat.

“I worried,” says Tom. “I worried that you’d turn into this. Of course I did. But I said to myself, ‘you know, Tom, you don’t have to be afraid of your old friend Edmund just because some people think his existence is evil.’ So I offered you my hat.”

Edmund’s teeth grit. “I did not ask for inspiring speeches or a guilt trip,” he says. “I asked you to change me.

“Did you think,” says Tom, “That my friend would start eating people and I would . . . wait for his permission before I turned him back? I’ve looked into it, Ed.”

Edmund makes a disdainful noise. “You can fix me.”

“Of course I can fix you,” says Tom. “I can strap you to a gurney and put bolts in your head and you can stagger around like some overmedicated puppy drooling and pissing and yapping at the trees. I can paint your eyes red and make you a star athlete while I twiddle the remote control that sends signals up and down your spine. But I can’t — it turns out that I don’t even know what ‘fixing’ a person would mean.”

“Shatter me,” says Edmund. “Take the one thing that I am and shatter me. I cannot do it. I am a knife that can only cut outwards. But you can shatter me. Or make me that which can free Fenris, but without the hunger for flesh. Or — anything. Make me anything else.”

“Did you know,” says Tom, his voice rasping like there’s a dead mouse in his throat —

There isn’t.

I mean, I wanted to clarify that. There’s not an actual mouse there. There could be, because he’s Tom, but there isn’t

“Did you know that when we chain things up, we call them hungers. And when we let them go, we call them dreams?”

“No,” says Edmund. “That is nonsensical.”

“I can’t fix you, Ed,” says Tom. “I can’t help you. I can barely keep trusting you. To fix you — I think I’d have to be God.”

Edmund stares at him for a while. Edmund’s right eye twitches. Then he turns aside.

“Be God, then,” says Edmund, and he hunches his shoulders, and he walks away.

“Haha,” laughs Tom. “Hahaha.”

It trails off.

He closes his eyes.

He doesn’t weep.




Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *