Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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Tom squints at her.

“I have speculated,” says Amber, after a moment, “that the world is as it is because of the passing of some . . . sense-making figure, right? Some entity or entities that held all of time and space into a single coherent shape?”

“That fits,” says Keith.

“We crawl within the warped lens of our existence,” says Amber. “We strive to reach things —”

“Space,” says Cheryl.

“Meaning,” says Harold.

“A happy ending,” wryly observes Tom.

“But they are projections of our reason onto the space that is no longer accessible from here. It is like believing that we live in three dimensions, when we in fact dwell on the surface of a warped space-time frame — a sort of a sheet of cling-wrap stretched over the image of a world.”

“That’s too bleak!” Tom protests.

“Not at all,” says Amber. “The solution is obvious. It is staring us right in the face. To escape our boundaries, we must turn at right angles from our own thinking.”

“Think,” says Tom, “as we are not thinking. Act, as we are not acting. See, then move tangentially to ourselves?”

“Exactly so,” Amber says. “Though, I do not know how it may be accomplished.”

Cheryl is grinning. She is waiting.

Tom pores over Cheryl’s plans.

“I can’t actually,” he says, “make head or tail of these papers. Cheryl, there are two major problems with this amazing boot-based space station.”


“Well, first, it appears to me that your space elevator pulls itself, and the boot atop it, up into position.”

“Yes,” she says. “It’s a bootstrap.”

“And second,” he says, “the explanation for this is ‘a miracle occurs.’”

“Oh!” says Amber. “That makes sense.”

“Does it?”

“Well, of course,” says Amber. “The House of Saints is at a right angle to our thinking, and the House of Hunger is at a wrong one. We just have to model ‘what would Peter do?’ or ‘what would Edmund do?’ any time we want to exceed the scope of our ordinary thoughts!”

“I’ll smush scissors!” says Keith, who is very familiar with Peter.

“I’ll complain about wolf dander?” suggests Tom, who knows Edmund quite well.

“Seriously?” says Cheryl.

“It is what Edmund would do,” Tom says, soberly. “Ask him to build a giant boot in space, and he’ll be all, ‘this one time, I went to put on my shoes, and they were completely full of loose Fenris fur. It was exceedingly squishy.’”

“Gah,” says Amber.

“That is a pretty wrong turn,” establishes Keith.

So. Squishy,” Tom emphasizes, in the fashion of Edmund Gulley, of Hunger’s House. Then he shrugs. “Then,” he says. “Do I take it we have access to miracles?”

Cheryl grins. She looks at her watch. She counts seconds.

“Oh, God,” says Keith. “This is going to be showy.”

“Seven,” mutters Cheryl. Then some other numbers, which you can probably extrapolate, like seventeen, eight, and five. “Two. One!”

She thumps the door hard with her elbow. It dilates open. An eavesdropping boy stumbles in, backlit, and shining with the glory of a saint.

“Lo,” says Cheryl, spreading a hand, as if she had created him from nothing.

“I wasn’t skulking and listening,” St. Peter clarifies. “I was just trying to figure out whether you guys could get me into space.”

“Haha!” says Tom, understanding. “Hahahaha haha! I think that we very well can.”

After a while Harold wonders where they can possibly get a boot large enough to use as the core of their space battlestation, but he is quickly hushed; because, seriously, Harold, how blind do you have to be?



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