Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 8 –

– 8 –

Saul screams as he hits vacuum, but nobody hears him. He rockets out into space —

But the magnet loops him back.

Tom is sitting on a bench. Tom is crying. He is crying unashamedly and with no self-consciousness because he is alone, alone save for scissors, in his 101% security Vault of Forbidden Things.

It is lonely but it is safe to cry there. That is what 101% security means.

But even 101% is not 100%; and this one time, of all possible occasions, Tom is interrupted.

His precognitive heart monitor flutters startlement. He looks up.

Even with that warning, he is extremely startled and his heart beats fast.

Saul strikes the pseudo-glass window of his Vault of Forbidden Things; shatters it; and he comes through.

He lands hard. He is rolling. He crunches into the buttered vulture’s cage.

Tom has a gun in his hand.

Tom shoots him. Saul gulps back the blast, leans back his head, swallows. The pseudo-glass window seals itself shut. The buttered vulture shrieks and flails. Saul lunges forward.

Tom fires again.

Saul twists aside. There is a scent of sizzling butter. A slick of it spreads out under Saul’s feet as he scrabbles for leverage; he slips. He sprawls.

Tom has seized the scissors out of the vacuum containment chamber. He hurls them at Saul. Saul leans his head to one side. The scissors clip off a hank of untidy hair. Saul actually looks better this way.

Then he has Tom by the neck. Then he’s holding Tom up.

“Break it,” he snarls. “Tell me how to break it. The boot must not come down.”

Tom flinches. He looks at the Never-Pull-This Lever. He tries to look away.

Saul shoves Tom to the side.

Saul pulls the lever.

You shouldn’t do this! You shouldn’t ever do this!

Tom burps.



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