Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 6 –

– 6 –

Under most circumstances Peter would not have had time to get into his spacesuit and prep himself for a fight. Under most circumstances it wouldn’t have even been in the lift at all; but he is under the sway of the Saint-Speeding Turbo-Device, and, more than that, of the purpose of his life.

From the moment he entered the lift he understood what must take place there.

When the lift explodes behind him, when he goes tumbling off towards the scissors-swarm, he is clothed not in cold and void but in a spacesuit all of red. He has congealed it from the depths of Hans’ wardrobe. He breathes an aerated red mist. He wears great shining red saint-blades on each of his wide-spread arms.

Perspective skews for him as he tumbles.

The scissors spread before and around him like a great curving wall. They are not charging him, nor he them; he is falling into the bowl of them.

He bends sideways to skirt the Fan Hoeng death rays.

They are of no interest.

He is falling towards his own private apotheosis. He is descending towards the awfullest of storms. His smile is bright. He spreads his arms as if to say, “This is the moment.”

This is the moment. At last it has come to him: Peter’s chance to smush scissors, at last!

Only, it isn’t.

There is something wrong.

They are focusing their attention on him. The light of scissors is glinting in all around him. And he feels small.

He feels small.

He tries to fight it off, but it impinges; under the withering glare of the scissors-swarm, the great and solemn purpose in him becomes as the errant daydreams of a child. He falls and he is surrounded by them, but instead of slaughtering among them he is passing no closer than five yards to any of them; he is slipping through the holes in the swarm like a crumb through a loose-knit blanket or a drop of waste water through a sieve; and as he falls among them, as the swarm swirls about him, he understands himself suddenly as nothing more than the tiniest speck.

He casts the mood off with a shudder. He rejects the light of the scissors with his eyes. He steps through an airless ninja-space; he turns sideways; he appears behind a pair of scissors. They cannot dodge him. He reaches for them. They cannot cut him. He looms over them, he seizes them through their safety handles, and they are made as a lamb to the slaughter, as a child before great wolves: his fingers curl through them, and they are become his prize, and he readies himself to smush;

And he feels small.

He looks around him. His face contorts and his saint-blades fade. He can see the light of them, all around him, the great cold scissors-will of them; and he weeps, because he understands it then, in its full awfulness.

He cannot kill them. He cannot smush them. He never could.

Not since the moment Tom bound him. Not since the moment Tom hatted him.

He scissors the safety scissors helplessly in his red right hand. He looks around him.

“Cheryl,” he says, over his intercom. “I have a problem.”


“I, um,” he says. “I, um.”


“I seem to be,” Peter says, “um. A saint.”



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