Sunday, November 28, 2004

Chapter 39

Seamus leapt up from the stone floor and lunged at Cluny the Scourge with his sword. The giant rat was unmistakably surprised, but his lightning reflexes served him well. He snatched his war standard from where it leaned against the wall and blocked Seamus' sword with the heavy staff. The ferret skull on top looked Seamus in the eye for a brief second before Cluny thrust Seamus away from him.

Seamus landed against the wall in the corner next to Gabriela and Cassidy. He saw that they had begun surreptitiously untying each other's hands while Cluny was focused on Seamus. He rolled away from them immediately, to keep Cluny's attention away from them, then came to his feet again, holding his sword at the ready.

Cluny flung his tail at him for a third lash, but this time Seamus swung his sword out to meet it. The blade sliced through and the last foot of Cluny's tail fell to the floor. Cluny howled in pain and hurtled himself at Seamus, still clutching his war standard.

Seamus tried to thrust his sword at the rat but it was blocked and wrenched aside by the staff, and Cluny's sharp claws raked his face. For a third time, the world disappeared around him.

Suddenly, Seamus found himself in a crowded train station, being jostled from all sides by people taller than him, strangers. He tried to shy away from someone brushing by his elbow but that only made him collide with someone else behind him. He recoiled again, crashing sideways into yet another person as the foot traffic continued to flow around him. A lady almost walked into him, her bright yellow jacket momentarily filling his field of vision. He absolutely detested yellow. It sickened him. He was beginning to panic.

"Hey kid," said a gruff voice, "watch where you're going, can't you?"

A hand grabbed Seamus' arm and tried to steer him out of the way. He screamed, yanked his arm free, and started running, shoving his way through the crowd. He tried to see where he was going but the crowd was like a huge, shapeless mass, and the signs around the station all seemed to blur and run together. Sweet Pastries Heathrow Airport Check-In Here Bagel Factory Paddington Station Tickets Taxis Toilets Position Closed Millie's Cookies Coffee Evening Standard. His brain was on sensory overload, he couldn't process everything that was going on around him. He felt terrified, and ready to vomit.

Finally he burst free from the crowd and collapsed onto a bench, shutting his eyes, hugging his knees and moaning. He squeezed himself as far to one end of the bench as he could, away from its other occupant, a middle-aged business man, who quickly got up and left Seamus alone on the bench.

His mind was still in an uproar. He tried counting to fifty and just barely managed to do it, but he felt a tiny bit calmer after he had. So then he counted to fifty, cubing each number as he went, and that helped a little more. After that he solved a few quadratic equations in his head, making the coefficients large so the problems would take longer. And then he recited to himself all the prime numbers from 2 to 233 from memory.

By now some time had passed, his heart was beating normally again and he had mostly blocked out the hustle and bustle of the train station around him. But something still wasn't quite right. He didn't feel like himself, and it was something more than just being frightened and confused in a new place. He tried to remember who he was and reassure himself.

"My name is Christopher John Francis Boone," he said to himself, "and I live at 36 Randolph Street, only I don't live there anymore because I'm going to live with Mother at 451c Chapter Road, Willesden, London NW2 5NG."

It all sounded right to him, only there was something not right about it also. He felt like there was someone or something trapped inside him, as if he needed to be somewhere else, or even someone else, but he couldn't make sense of it. Then suddenly he felt his entire body jerk, like a puppet pulled on a string. His vision blurred and he squeezed his eyes shut in fright.

Seamus opened his eyes, disoriented, trying to piece together the confusing sensations in his brain from the last few minutes. As far as he could tell, he had landed that time in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, but he hadn't been himself anymore. He had actually become the fifteen year old autistic savant whose story it was. That was why he hadn't been able to control himself or his mind, and it should have prevented him from getting himself out of it. So what had happened?

He looked up to see Cassidy standing over the body of Cluny the Scourge, holding in her hands a heavy wooden chair that had evidently been cracked over Cluny's skull. She and Gabriela had both freed themselves, and must have snuck up on Cluny as he flung Seamus into his most recent perils. Cassidy dropped the splintered chair now and rushed over to Seamus, with Gabriela close behind her.

"Are you alright?" she asked breathlessly.

"I… I think so," Seamus replied. Then his eye was caught by a movement over by Cluny's body. The other two followed his gaze.

A strange mist was rising from the body. The room began to tremble.


At 10:11 PM, Blogger Miriam said...

"The room began to tremble,"

and so did the readers. Wow, I think these are two of the best chapters you've written yet. They're just packed full of super stuff. A duel, not of wizards but of wakeful dreamers (has anyone else ever written a duel like this? I wouldn't be surprised if you are the first), including a return to an earlier adventure (only scarier this time), the likening of the reality-shift to an origamic act, a fantastic rendering of an autist's stimuli overload, victory through sheer will that reaches from the concious mind into the unconcious, and the phrase "normally digitized". Beautiful. I can't wait for the conclusion.


Post a Comment

<< Home