Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 6 –

– 6 –

Lucy is just sitting up there where Bethany used to hang out.

She kind of misses her, though she wouldn’t ever admit to it.

She’s casting the runes, mostly just to hear them clicking, and she frowns at the way they keep coming up blank.

There’s a whisper of sound behind her.

She stands up ready for fighting, her eyes at roughly goat-level —

It’s bad to be attacked by a goat when you’re sitting at the edge of the roof of a building! —

But as it happens, it’s not a goat.

It’s Linus Evans, instead.

He has his palms up and he’s wearing a white hat. His eyes are white and adrenaline has him trembling but he isn’t there to fight his Housemate Lucy Souvante.

“I heard you’re good,” he says.

“No,” she says.

“I mean,” he clarifies, “Good at.”


She nods.

“My people are coming,” she says. “To avenge my sister, whom you Earthlings killed.”

Linus puts it together.


Lucy is on her feet. “What?”

“Maria Souvante?”

“. . . yeah.”

“Oh, man,” says Linus. “That’s a blast from the past.”

Lucy’s hackles settle again.

“I suppose that it must be,” she says. She looks at her hands. “They are coming. They will raze this world. And I keep wondering if they would taste better than the humans. But I tell myself repeatedly: that is wrong.”

Her face twists suddenly. She is on her feet. She has Linus by the collar.

“I should kill you,” she says. “You knew her. Maybe you were the Earthling that killed her, ‘antichrist.’”

She is shaking her fist. She is counting off one, two, three

A pair of scissors shears down from the sky. It lands quivering on the rooftop.

Lucy blinks.

Lucy decides to take a short break from playing rock-paper-scissors. She yawns and stretches elaborately. She pushes Linus back onto the roof and she sits down.

After a while, she says, “Can you tell me about her?”

“She was a heck of a nanny,” says Linus. “There weren’t many people, you know, who didn’t mind my being the antichrist. Mom, and Tom, and Jane, and Edmund, and that Mouser — that was pretty much it, really. And then Maria.”

“She was your nanny?”

“Sometimes,” Linus says, “when you’re trying to kill people, I mean, for money, you need to infiltrate their house and teach them marvelous songs about — hope, and living. I guess. Teach them to love their life and not just stare down the endless eons into the eyes of bleak damnation. First.”

Lucy is silent.

He wrings his hands.

“I liked her a lot,” he says, “until she tried to kill us. And took my mittens. Then I didn’t like her so much. But I think that in the end she was happy.”

“Was she?”

Linus makes a face. He looks away.

His white dog appears. He pats its head. She blinks. The white dog isn’t there.

“She did it to herself,” Linus says. “We couldn’t have killed her. She just — I think she didn’t want to live as an assassin that didn’t kill anybody any longer.”

“I tried to tell her,” says Lucy.

He puts his hand on her shoulder. She knocks it away.

“Blockhead,” she mutters.

So he doesn’t say anything for a while.

Then: “I need a favor,” Linus says.

“You killed her,” she says.

It’s unfair but he elects not to deny it. He lets her believe it; except she doesn’t actually believe it, in the end. “I used to believe in things,” he says. “I used to think there was hope for the world. And then the cleaning man took that away.”


“I want to find him,” Linus says. “I want to kill him. He hurt Tom. I think he hurt my mother. He’s a monster. I’ve just been reminded, I want to kill him. But I don’t even know where he lives.”

“Why would I help you?” she says.

“I’m just asking.”

“You’re a goat, ain’t ya?” she says. “Antichrist? Goat? Right? You’re my big enemy, aren’t you?”

“I’m sorry,” Linus says softly. “I’m not.”

“I could eat you,” she says, “and —”

She shakes her head.

“Fine,” she says, “whatever.”

She tosses the rune stones. They’re blank. She drinks tea. It is leafless. She stares with her white eyes out at the cosmos, she reads the signs, and there aren’t any. They’ve been scrubbed. They’ve been cleaned.

But she’s not just anybody. She’s not just some random prophet-beast.

She’s Lucy Souvante.

She’s the evil prophet of space.

She casts her gaze over time and space and possibility; she bats aside the falling scissors and she flattens out her hand and she feels the shape of worlds.

Her white eyes find the one name in the phone book that is invisible to her; the one place in all the world that she cannot see.

Gotterdammerung approaches. The world shudders and writhes.

She spells it out in unwriting. She speaks it in unwords. She writes it down backwards and she looks in the mirror and says, “I have an address for one ‘Jeremiah Clean.’”



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