Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 2 –

– 2 –

Cheryl sets a small fleet of paper boats on the water. They float out into the ocean as the sea serpent eddies towards her.

“ ‘Too attached to it, ’ ” she mutters disdainfully.

Her boats become waterlogged.

They sink.

Waterlogged, they fold themselves into mines. They land against the rocks. They belly themselves down.

The serpent comes closer.

“I’ll show you attachment, ” she says.

And she does.

The serpent is blasted. Its head is nothing but burning chunks of paper. The sea is groaning where her weapon has cut; but she herself has unintentionally folded snake-wroth, folding-wroth, and even origami-wroth into the substance of her attack.

The bits of remnant paper burning flutter to the sea.

They get mushy.

They spiral around one another. Her heart is in her throat, metaphorically at least (it’s in her chest actually), and she pleads that the raw chaos of the ocean’s return to the emptied space will disrupt the pattern that she and the serpent together have lain down; but it does not.

The bits of paper swirl. They stick to one another. The waters of the sea fold up. The atoms of it twist, connect in an unorthodox fashion; the serpent howls as it becomes one with the drink that enfolds it, as it raises its head, fire, water, and paper all, shakes itself, screams with the burning of its brain, its tail, its brain, its tail, its brain —

Its pain is worse now. Its durance is worse now. Its flesh is sea, paper, and fire.

It stares at her through smoldering dank eyes.

The impact of its sudden hatred strikes through her. It transfixes her. She pleads: I am sorry. I am so sorry.

But her enemy is no longer her friend, her ally, her beloved; it no longer looks to her as a savior. It plunges towards her as if to kill her, and it is the waves of the sea itself, it is rising with the waves of the sea itself, a sheet of water and fire plunges down towards her and it drowns the island of Little Ganilly, and it is only the one-use matter transmission device attached to her left heel, crushed when she stomps the ground in utter screaming panic, that saves her from its unremitting wrath.

The water laps at where she had been.

It coils up.

It hungers in its agonies for its enemy, Cheryl’s, death.



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