Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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Cheryl descends into the depths of the station. She holds two mugs of svart-drink in her hands.

She drops one of them.

It spills svart-drink. The svart-drink floats out gently into the infinitive splitter and splays across the buttered vulture’s corpse.

“Tom,” she says.

He doesn’t say anything. He’s dead. He’s scissored to pieces. Her mouth twitches and she stares. She looks at Saul like she wants to blame him, but he’s pretty dead too, so that doesn’t work.

She screams. She stuffs her fist in her mouth and she screams again. She turns and she pounds her bloody fist against the wall.

Then she leans there. She waves a hand at Tom. She folds him upright; sets him against the wall; stacks his pieces one atop another without touching them or even really looking before she dares to look at him again.

Softly, she says, “You broke your promise, Tom.”

She drinks her svart-drink. She tosses the mug aside. (You shouldn’t do this.)

“Fine,” she says.

She turns. She turns in circles. She surveys the vault of Forbidden Things.

A dream-wroth takes fire in her eyes.

And if you were watching from afar, if you were swirling in the maelstrom of the scissors-swarm, you would have seen her silhouette reach into its eye, and pull one eye out; take up the pointed shaft of an unfinished hammer, and thrust it into its side; and wire itself, in those two places, into the shadow of the boot.

And perhaps, if you were percipient, you would have felt that chill that scissors always feel when they are witness, suddenly, to rock.

She has laced herself into it.

She hangs upside-down there, in Tom’s upside-down Vault of Forbidden Things; and one wire goes into her brain, and one into the circuitry of the hammer, and both wires are connected to the boot.

Dream-wroth flows through the entirety of Vidar’s Boot.

The clicking component is clicking. The beacons of fire light themselves, two by two. Vidar’s Boot is waking; it is stirring, that boot which is born to smash the world into a desirable shape.

And the laces of the boot are lashing; and cold though space might be the scissors feel a chill;

Only, they needn’t have worried.

There is something very important about Cheryl that, in fairness, the scissors could never have known.

She extends a hand, as if in a dream, and a snake-severing hat flows to her. She flips it inside out. She stares down at it.

This is the wrong desire, she reminds herself.

Of all things in all the world, this is the one ending that will sorrow the scissors least.

Then she laughs. It hurts her side. She tries to adjust herself but there’s only so much adjustment you can do when you’re wired into a giant boot by your side and head.

Don’t do this.

“I am a prisoner of my dreams,” says Cheryl, and she unfurls them:

Takes the snake-severing hat, which she has inverted, and pulls it on over her hair and ears. Wakes inside her a snake-wroth that had been dead; a paper-wroth that had been lost; a folding-wroth that had been killed inside her, scrubbed free from her by Jeremiah Clean.

She binds together the loose circuits in her, where Jeremiah Clean had cut them.

She is heedless of the scissors-swarm that has come for humanity.

She is heedless of the wolf that will eat the world.

She doesn’t even really care about her own nascent divinity.

She says, instead,

LET THERE BE SNAKES.

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