Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 6 –

– 6 –

How many scissors? I cannot count them. Many are flattened under the boot or battered away by the wave of reality-alteration that spreads from it, but uncountable numbers remain. They pour themselves down in a single metal sheet, indivisible, like the horn of a narwhal spiraling down, ten miles around at its narrow tip.

And half a wolf.

That is a terrible thing. Half a wolf, its guts spilling out behind it, but the magnet’s breaking has done some good for it, and the way the boot had shifted, just a little, by the shaking and the cutting of its tether, before Cheryl brought it down.

Half a wolf, whining and struggling, sickening, its eyes rolling, its tongues lolling, but it is not dead; and that wolf, that particular wolf, well, if it is not dead, then it should not be possible for it to die.

And there is a snake, and oh, how ungodly is that snake. It is rising, and it is rising, and it is pierced through over and over again by the scissors but the will of Vidar’s Boot commands that it does not die.

Its teeth close on the side of the wolf. The wolf snaps at the scissors, gulps them down. And the boot is shattering, fraying, leaving only Cheryl, standing there, with the hammer of science —

I probably shouldn’t call it that.

With the hammer of deciding what shall live and what shall die held and coiling with lightning in her hand.

And in the corner of the scene, over there —

You have to look at it from the right angle. If you’re too close, you won’t see him, and if you’re too far away, well, I guess, you wouldn’t see him either.

In the corner of the scene, there’s a man with a janitor’s cart, who begins to clean it. He starts at the top right corner of it all and he scrubs a bit of the descending scissors-horde away.

There’s a gap there. There’s a hole in the storm.

He works his way downwards.

Fenris is gasping, great gasps. It is trying to eat faster than the poison of the snake can spread through it; trying to consume enough of the earth and the falling stream from the scissors-sky to heal.

The guts of the wolf are cleaned away.

Cheryl sees him. She opens her mouth in a moment of panic; she tries to lever the hammer to point at him; but to keep the paper serpent alive amidst the scissors-rain takes everything she has. She has nothing left to address towards the cleaning man.

Bit by bit, he scrubs away all of it. From right to left, from top to bottom, he cleans it all away.

At the last there are only the great jaws of the wolf, closed on the serpent’s neck; and the scissors pierced through the brainpan; and green they have become from the poison of the snake; and rubble.

“That is a perversion,” says Jeremiah Clean, and he shakes a finger at it warningly.

And then —


Of all that moved on the surface of the world, and met at the Lethal Magnet School for Wayward Youth that day —

Little remains to be said.

They came down from the sky, or up from the ground; from over the sea, or from space; and they met.

If you went there now —

Where those things met — you would find ground that is polished like glass; and a handful of stones where one may grieve, and the flowers that people may come and leave; and the shining blue crystal waters of an artificial bay.

That’s all.

There is nothing that may stand against Jeremiah Clean, you see, because his heart is pure.

Even Lucy Souvante —

Even the evil prophet herself — she did well simply to survive. To scramble away. To hide and to wait.

And she the evil prophet of space!

The wolf is gone. The snake is gone. The scissors no longer fall. And if there is anything in you which can sympathize with the Fan Hoeng — and I will admit, freely, that I have never given you any particular in-story reason to, except, they are people, they are people, they talk, they think, they reason, they feel, like you or me —

Well, that’s gone too.

The boot that fell from space, no more. No more the Lethal Magnet School.

It was all quite messy. It was terrible. It was not a merry Christmas at all.

So he cleaned away, and that’s it; it’s all over.

They’re all done.



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