Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 5 –

– 5 –

Edmund straggles his way there eventually. He’s slower than Saul.

He gets there and his eyes are bloody and his face is gaunt and he looks at Fenris for a very long time. Then he gasps and he throws himself down for the wolf to eat.

Fenris licks him thoughtfully.

Edmund closes his eyes.

“You’re not ripe yet,” Fenris teases.

Edmund shudders. Then he shakes his head, vigorously. “No,” he says. He pulls himself to his feet. “No. You have to eat me. That’s what makes it OK.”

“I’ll eat you later!” Fenris assures him. “Or I won’t. That’s up to events and circumstances!”

“But —” says Edmund.

He discovers that you cannot actually make giant wolves eat you. Fenris utterly ignores him.

The wolf is feeling friskier now. Wolves like him, they heal fast.

He’s been hopping from roof to roof and chewing around in the houses.

“I found a Setter,” he says. This is pretty exciting for the wolf, since there are hardly any people around after the initial breakout and the bombs dropping. “It was all sad because its family had left and you didn’t eat all the bombs properly, Saul, but then I ate it and now it’s happy.”

“Don’t eat Setters,” says Saul. “It might be catching.”

Fenris gives Saul an eyebrow.

The wolf is coming to eat the world.

There are armies marshalling. Edmund can feel them. There are missiles coming, bombs being loaded, hard men prepping their weaponry for a fight.

Edmund can feel it.

The wolf is coming to eat the world.

There are children being born. There are children playing. There are children who have grown old and grey.

The wolf is coming to eat the world.

Starlight falls on the world, from Sirius, from Barnard’s Star, from Wolf 359, and most certainly from the sun. Plants grow. The ocean surges, rises, falls. Birds sing. Animals rustle in the brush.

The wolf is coming to eat the world.

Saul hops down. He nudges Edmund.

Edmund rolls over. He sits.

He looks at Saul.

“What have I done?” he asks Saul. “I let it free. I let it free, and it won’t even eat me. What have I done?”

And Saul holds out the miracle to him.

Saul presses it to Edmund’s mouth. Saul rubs Edmund’s throat. Saul makes him swallow it down.

“You’ve set a hurt thing free,” says Saul.

Edmund’s tears are falling now. “I am a monster,” he says. “I am the worst of monsters. I couldn’t control it. I ate people, Saul.”

The wolf is coming to eat the world.

“You’ve set a hurt thing free.”

Fenris suddenly turns its head. It looks far away. Its ears are practically straight up.

“They’re coming,” he says. “A whole army. Oh, thank God. I didn’t get to eat the last one, Edmund. Saul was so greedy! I didn’t get to! I fell asleep, and when I was awake again, he’d et them all!”

The world is ending.

You’ve set a hurt thing free.



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