Greetings, from Dogpatch (Skin Deep #3)

Image result for greetings from dogpatch skin deep book cover

 

This isn’t a mistake. I wasn’t thinking about whether there would be novels for the first two, so I’m beginning my review with the third, but the fact I’ve read this many should warm anyone else who hasn’t heard of this STELLAR online comic, and I may even perhaps go back eventually and review the first two for funsies. The bugbear Myra, Eustace, a fox spirit, Marshall, the raven spirit, and Gabe, the angel are currently driving into Arkansas in May, this being 2005. Myra is quite annoyed by her passengers and complaining about the reason Gabe is even along for the ride when he could fly, Eustace unable to shed light on his reasons, nor why he took the skull which had been given to a demon by Myra (this all being explained, here). Their next conversation has to do with whether Gabe is male or female, until he/she puts a stop to it, and they continue on their ride to Dogpatch.

When parking, Gabe notes how they had to get down there in an odd fashion, Eustace explaining how a tram used to be lowered down to the theme park when it was still open, a dryad currently keeping the place well hidden, even though it was right off the highway. After Myra points out how a Bigfoot was currently watching their movements, Gabe steps up to get the attention of whoever lived there, wanting to speak to the big kahuna, a chickadee, Hank with a shotgun sporting a trucker hat popping out near his feet. Myra’s had enough and states how Bigfoot let them pass, even though Hank was confused by how the group hadn’t been stopped, she then telling of only being there to pick something up and would be out of there quickly, since the place didn’t seem right. Marshall then steps up to vouch for Gabe being cool and they wanting to speak to Old Ivory about the guards.

Hank takes Gabe’s word when showing him the “nightmare” he was attempting to weed out the owner of, so Hank leads them all to where Old Ivory is, Marshall and Eustace then discussing how they agreed with Myra’s instinct about Dogpatch being out of the ordinary. The two then get into the last time Michelle and crew had run into the nightmare which was then related to the demons which were setting them up (Orientations and the One Eyed Bear being reference, the links, above). Hank then can’t stop himself from gabbing at Gabe due to not having ever been in the presence of an angel before and deciding to relate the communities history of where they traveled and how they picked up their guards. Then, before Hank could get into it, Gabe shuts down any questions he may have on religious topics and so Hank instead goes in to inform Ivory, a woodpecker of his visitors.

Gabe then interrupts to toss the nightmare into Ivory’s hands, he not knowing how the skull could’ve gotten to Missouri, nor how the demons picked it up, they having been searching for “her” for some months. Ivory then states how he’d been training some animals to take over his jobs when he was no longer there, Gabe inquiring into how he’d believed spirit animals were incapable of death, but Ivory’s case was due to most of the specific sort of woodpecker he represented had been dying out, and he was on the verge of being done, so he’d been having the other animals take care of the daily tasks whilst he trained them for the long-term workload, and Ivory didn’t have any hard feelings for humans causing the death of his species due to his long lifespan and curiosity of what came next.

After Ivory calls over the two who had been handling the responsibilities, but only one, Ricky arriving since the other, Obi was taking care of some specific sort of task, he apparently not being responsible for her disappearance, and they figuring she’d run away. Gabe asks a few pressing questions which suggested they hadn’t done much to aid the recovery of the nightmare, but Ricky makes clear how they’d been quite worried, and was annoyed when learning Gabe had found the nightmare a little while ago and hadn’t brought her back sooner, they then hearing a scream, Ricky believing Obi was in trouble and hoping the Howler didn’t have him. When they approach his yells, they see Myra looking pissed and relating how Obidiah was the cause of everything being off, and was getting ready to let the Howler out on them all, they thinking she’d gone crazy, but she adamant of Obi’s intentions being ill and making clear, bugbears were impossible to deceive.

Gabe questions further on Obi’s attitudes being odd recently, the critters confirming he’d been acting ill when the nightmare had left, but was working even harder as of lately, Obi agreeing he’d been getting too tired from work and pled to be released from Myra’s grip. Gabe then agrees Obi should be let down, but surprises everyone by bringing out his own weapon, Damien the demon then showing himself and looking pissed. As Gabe attempts to learn more about why Damien was turning up and seemingly trying to get closer to Michelle, Damien’s smart ass answers are getting on Gabe’s nerves, he making him pay for it with more pain. When Damien finally gives him a reason for the “Dark Lord’s” reason for tracking Michelle, Gabe is again thwarted by Damien’s resistance in divulging more. Gabe then tears Damien out of Obi, Gabe turning on the group of creatures to learn whom had figured out their close friend had been infested and no one stepping forward, Gabe properly pissed, and when inquiring if Myra had sensed any other demons about, she confirming there were none.

Then Obi describes how he hadn’t any control over himself and what it had felt like, not recalling much of anything whilst he’d been overtaken. Hank then elaborates about the caves nearby when Gabe considers how quickly the demons seemed to be able to return upon his sending them to hell, and demands Obi show him to this “not much sink” cave. Gabe then explains how hellmouths work and the one in the cave being shut could waylay a demon fairly well. After Obi shows where the cave was, he meekly asks to go, since he didn’t want to tempt another demon with his bod, Gabe agreeing to this, he then divvying out tasks for the other creatures whilst he dealt with what was within the cave, the one for Eustace being hilarious and adorably simple.

Marshall notes his tone to Eustace, but Gabe dismisses him what with not feeling he should have to keep an eye on him for he not being a fighter, Marshall and Myra following him deeper into the cave. Soon they approach an orange oozing mess from their high vantage point, Myra stating of it most likely being part of the cause for the odd senses she’d gotten from the place. Gabe then suggests Myra help him deal with some demons whilst Marshall brought along some buddy birds to draw attention, a view of an oddly shaped hole with what look like teeth coming out of the ground shown, which then reveals why a hellmouth is named as such. Myra is hella happy to do her duty and Gabe encourages her to do so, since some demons were currently taking the opportunity to crawl into the world, Marshall using his birdy friends to distract them as Myra walks up, big bear form ready to do some damage.

As Myra baits one of the creatures, Gabe stabs the other and takes a smoke break, the crows, meanwhile, do their job of flying about, but many also get too close to the teeth and are smushed. Gabe then steps up to attempt another phrase in whatever language which is shown, chopping at the hellmouth head right after another demon comes out, whom apparently was a bunch of other demons’ distractions, but fortunately, Gabe commands Marshall to continue his attack at the mullet demon and Myra informs Gabe of their coming,  so he begins saying some more magic speak. Damien had returned once more, and his buddy Mikhail upon seeing Myra, ditches the crew when one of the others suggest they attack them, but Myra gets up in Mikhail’s face as he explains how he didn’t want to fool around with her or Gabe. As Myra has the demon in a bear hug, another demon is looking irritated about their hellmouth dying, but as Gabe is fighting another, the little demon pushes Gabe into the hellmouth as it makes one last roar of defeat (to be fair, I’m feeling a little badly for the hellmouth, it didn’t do nuffin’ and Gabe takes him out easy as lemon meringue).

This new development pauses Myra and Marshall, but they then see Gabe’s spear pierce through the hellmouth, and when he emerges looking grim, one out of three of the demons have booked it, the other two standing and staring in shock. This definitely doesn’t help the two though, since Gabe lets out his anger and envelops them in holy light, Myra properly impressed. Gabe turns on her and notifies of the demon she’d been cuddling had escaped, Mikhail still sprinting for freedom, and feeling close to success when seeing the outside, but upon climbing the rock face out, realizes his strolling out into the world won’t be so cut and dry. As Gabe, Marshall, and Myra rush off after him, Eustace is looking pleased and gives props for Gabe having thought to give him his coat to hold, this being the item which had recaptured Mikhail (who has a multiple way of spelling his name, apparently), and Eustace not catching the look of surprise on his face. As Mikhail pleads for Gabe to let him stay, the latter gives him the opportunity to make himself useful with the need for information, but Mikhail has none to offer, so Gabe takes him out. He then relates now the hellmouth was closed in the area, the demons would have a more difficult time coming back, and wouldn’t be able to do so anywhere near Dogpatch. Eustace and Marshall also inquire if Michelle was still in danger, Gabe’s answer not a comforting one, and when Myra states she still didn’t understand Gabe, he was cool with it.

Another interesting episode, and onward I go!

 

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Castle Waiting (Issue #1, Bone Crossover)

Image result for castle waiting issue #1 book cover

 

I had said in a previous post how I was interested in reading more from this series, and it looks as if I now have the ability, the first issue having been included in the collection of Bone I have, ha ha! Success!

The story follows a princess, whom runs away from home and holes up in a desolate un-remembered castle. This story, called Solicitine Part One, opens with a goose-looking face-masked doctor ordering someone to be still, the person flinching with fear and getting hurt in the process. Then it’s shown the doctor was cutting a boy’s hair and apparently could not make it through the process without the doctor clipping his ears a bit, the doctor not taking the blame and saying the boy had unusually large ears to begin with. His mother attempts to support the boy by suggesting he do his best to stay still, another goose-fellow, Rackham noting how rainy it was, and Jain would now have to wait longer to get her new room, she complacent with this fact. Jain declares how wet days were perfect for haircut scheduling, and the boy, Pin had been requiring one, the two then discussing how similar he was to his father. Jain is then shocked by a woman whom she didn’t notice at first had facial hair, the bearded woman asking her if she planned on getting her haircut next, Jain having a double-take which the lady states how she’d get a kick out of the face she was pulling if she could see it. Jain recovers and laughs at herself, the woman declaring she must not know of the Solicitine nuns, Jain agreeing, having thought bearded women stuck with the circus crowd.

The woman states of having been with a circus, as well, Jain ready to hear a good story about it as the woman readied to get her hair cut, she agreeable to giving her background, and starting with her home village, in a town where the only pub being owned by her father, Tom Warren, she being christened Peaceful Hortense Elaine Warren, and helping him in the pub when she was learned to walk and could carry drinks. As she got older, she stuck with her idea of taking after her father and planned on running the pub, her mother certain she wouldn’t be allowed for eventually getting married and keeping house, Peaceful certain her husband could keep the house whilst she ran the pub. Her father would attempt to calm her mother down, he believing she was fine where she was and working at the pub would put her out there to potential mates, her mother not thinking her daughter’s plan was realistic. Peaceful certainly had plenty of men flocking to the place, and all of them were happy to socialize with her, the only problem was they spoke to her as a buddy of there girl problems, she helping them out with advice and gathering a loyal following of men who took her advice and found success. Then, one day, Peaceful noticed some fuzz on her face, and it would always grow back, her mother distraught of her fate now sealed on remaining single. Fortunately, the new addition to her looks didn’t stay a surprise to the men who came in, they quickly resuming their usual respects to her, until a couple travelers couldn’t get over seeing a bearded woman outside a circus.

Peaceful was shocked to learn bearded ladies worked in other forums, not having gone to a circus before, she attracted to the idea from this point forward, imagining how interesting it would be to travel elsewhere, she keeping it in mind until overhearing from some other travelers of a show setting up in a town not too far away, she taking advantage of the distance and leaving the same night. Jain is shocked how quickly Peaceful did what she’d wanted, the latter agreeing her resolve may have changed if she’d spoken with her father first, but she had visited since then and they were the same as they had been. When Peaceful gets to the circus and a friendly worker allows her to see a show of what bearded lady they had as their show-runner looked like, she views the woman in a Cleopatra get-up and would have been a hard act to over-run, she also being the owner’s wife. Peaceful realizes she didn’t have a chance, she then introducing herself when the worker asks, she inquiring whether there was other work she could get hired for, Reggie Aleman remembering how his wife had been after him to get a girl to help around with their tent, Peace realizing this could be a good situation for all involved. So, ironically she became a barmaid once more, in the circus, but she moving up quickly enough, the interesting side to her work being to check out the gaming tables, she having a good eye for the gamer’s sleight of hand, Reggie having her start training quite abruptly. Peace was quickly brought in to the fold of the close family relationship people had being in the circus, except for the owner Lint and his wife, she having to stay separated from everyone else on Lint’s orders.

One day though, as Peace was sweeping up outside, she’s approached by Lint’s wife, whom was happily surprised to see another bearded woman around, Peace shocked she spoke English because of her act being Egyptian, the woman stating Lint had made it up for her, she introducing herself as Mabel and confessing Peace was the first bearded lady she’d met, Peace saying the same, and then Mabel deciding they should be best friends, Peace agreeing. Lint then walks up, and acting all high and mighty, attempts to quash the friendship, but Mabel wasn’t going to give in quite so easily to this one, he backing off and instead stating she should get inside a half an hour before customers milled about. From then on, Peace and Mabel, whom she called Nessie, a nickname from her stage name, were thick as thieves, Peace now having a confidante, and when confiding to Nessie of how her work wasn’t as satisfying anymore, Nessie certain it’s because she didn’t have a husband, Peace getting an example how wrong she was when a man walked in asking for her advice. Peace wouldn’t have been opposed to a little courting, though, so when she’d seen Reggie turn away a young man whom had been interested in Nessie, Peace got a little hot over how he hadn’t thought to introduce her, Reggie taken aback for a moment, but then explaining how Nessie was a special sort, Peace noting this, as well.

Nessie soon shares the problem she was currently having with Lint, he having promised Nessie and her father his plan to settle down with her and begin a family, but now he wouldn’t even entertain the idea to speak of it with her, she not even getting a chance to talk with him when the circus closed, since they were occupying separate wagons. Peace convinces her she should insist speaking with him one night, Nessie empowered and planning to do so, but overhearing a conversation between Lint and a girl about his true feelings about her and she only being used for lucrative interests. Nessie, upset goes to Peace, whom was on duty, but directs Nessie to meet her in back, concerned by her pain, and was livid when Nessie confides what she’d heard, Peace declaring Nessie shouldn’t be doing her show, but would think of a solid plan, having Nessie pretend everything was fine until she did. Nessie now comforted, goes back to her wagon, a plan soon coming in the form of two men wanting to speak with Peace one night, they thinking she knew of the Abbess at St. Wilgeforte’s, the two explaining what the convent did. Peace brought this good news to a much elated Nessie, the former planning on they making their escape as the circus moved on, she feeling some guilt for planning to leave again without warning Reggie, like how she had with her father, but finishes helping pack up for Reggie on the day she scheduled them to run off. Peace then joins Nessie in her wagon, she having difficulty leaving her pretty dress, Peace lightening her mood so she’d let it go. Nessie pretends to be sick when Lint runs into her, successfully leaving without suspicion, unfortunately, Peace’s escape had been witnessed by Lint’s dumb girlfriend, but she not speaking up quickly, so they not getting any trouble until later on.

Not a bad beginning, especially upon realizing Castle Waiting follows the progression of a community for about three decades, like One Hundred Years of Solitude, except not as dark and obviously not so many years. This story is based on the Brother’s Grimm story, St. Solicitous. Then, the short of Bone’s and Castle Waiting is next!

The Bones are lost again, Phoney complaining about missing his cash, since all anyone ever used were eggs. Smiley then points out the sign with Castle Waiting on it, Phoney seeing the bright side of royalty of a castle definitely working with more than poultry for bartering. Phoney makes a racket as he insists on speaking with a king, a horse, Sir Chess, the Knight Destrier opening the door and not understanding what he was going on about. Phoney busts in and looks for someone kingly, he asking a beaked fellow, Rackham the Adjutant if he was the one they were looking for and requiring assistance. Rackham allows they could definitely help in some way, then offering tea and snacks, Fone politely grateful, but then getting tickled by polterspritz as Phoney asks for cash so they could return home. Rackham ponders their issue and eventually suggests they could do odd jobs until making enough to get back, Phoney making certain they paid in bills (not of the bird nature, HA! No pun intended), and became quite upset when discovering they also used eggs, since they were in the country. Phoney urges the other two off and running, Rackham wondering if they would have changed their minds if they’d known he was referring to gold eggs, Chess certain it wouldn’t have, they must not liking breakfast-related foods.

Not a bad side-story, at all! I’ll be looking forward to reading more, once finishing my other graphic novel needs. Now to continue with Rose.

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower 1)

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King’s introduction tells of how prevalent hobbits were when he was nineteen, hippies galore dressed like Lord of the Rings characters at Woodstock and whatnot. He was fond of the novels to the point of certainty he’d be writing his own version when it came to him and then shares how the age of nineteen brought with it a prideful manner of seeing life bending to one’s will, and how one is supposed to think big, so later in life it can be made true. He describes the two types of novelist after this, the “serious” and “popular”, both of which being selfish in nature. He relates of his realization after watching The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, he wanted to marry Tolkien’s quest and magic with this Western sensibility. He couldn’t answer why he wanted to write an epic tome, but believed he mostly succeeded in doing so. Then he alludes to his car accident and how after a fan spoke of if he hadn’t survived, the Tower would forever have remained a mystery, he knowing he had to complete it, and glad he now has.

The Foreword explains why he’d changed The Gunslinger and what he’d added, he comparing this to when he’d expanded The Stand, he then going back to sharing how his accident had spurred him to finish the Tower series, regardless of how many readers had been interested in it (around the halfway mark when it came to those who attended readings). He describes how the start of the series hadn’t matched up with the end, he then sharing his writing process being to get it all out and let it simmer for six months or longer before the first revision, he stating how he’d cleaned up some unnecessary verbosity and attempted to have the story more clearly understood to first time readers.

19, Resumption (which is explained later, I suppose) titles the first two pages before chapter one. The gunslinger is following the running man in black, Walter o’Dim and was currently gauging his fairly full water bag which if he’d been a holy man, may have been able to more closely estimate when drinking was necessary, but didn’t follow Jesus or was a Manni, after which his guns are depicted, and where he’d gotten them. He no longer had his horn or hat, but wished he did, he then noticing a burnt out campfire, which he salvaged the leftover bacon and shared how he had so far only been discovering Walter’s campsites, knowing he’d track the man as long as it took to finally catch up to him, but also sensing he’d gotten a bit closer, regardless of only ever detecting dead camps with no signs of waste. He watches the slowly dimming horizon for a sign of a camp, none being viewed, so sets his own fire atop the old camp and rests for the night.

The gunslinger now had a mule after having passed through a town a few weeks previously, he seeing crazy men and lepers, and acquiring a compass he could make use of until Jesus showed himself; a crazy man’s terms of agreement. The gunslinger is surprised when coming across another hut with a young man attending his corn, the two greeting each other formally, and the young man offering corn to eat, the gunslinger noting the young man sounded like Manni, which he agreed he’d been with, but left, the young man introducing himself as Brown, the gunslinger sharing his own (we not privy, but I’ll be using from here on out).

Brown then shares his raven’s name as Zoltan, noticing Roland as a gunslinger, believing his type were no more, Roland confirming he’d come from In-World some time ago, and then vaguely asking of Walter’s passing by, Brown unable to determine with certainty how long ago it’d been, time being wonky out there. Brown then offers what Walter had spoken of, he having inquired after the weather, his wife, and her origins. Brown asks if he was a wizard, which Roland confirms of and he being more, as well. Brown declares Roland wouldn’t overtake him, but he states otherwise, Brown then going inside to prepare their meal whilst Roland filled his water-skins in the well at the back. When he joins Brown inside and rests whilst the man boils the beans, he thinks of how many hours he’d been traveling without rest, also thinking of how impossible Mid-World’s greenery seemed, Roland not bothered by Walter’s distance since he’d gotten an estimate in the most recent town he’d gone, though he not looking forward to the forthcoming desert.

When Brown wakes him, an hour’s gone by and his mule has died, upside being the food was done. Upon inquiry, Brown estimates the mule had perished due to age, and after setting out the food, prays, Roland learning Brown thought they were already in the hereafter. As the weather became rougher with the dark, Roland hungrily ate the tough corn and beans, he wondering why Brown didn’t eat Zoltan, talking animals being more difficult to decide to consume, apparently. When they’d finished their meal, Roland offers a smoke, he having a moment of paranoia when thinking of Walter having conjured these moments, Roland asking if Brown had been to Tull, he stating the last time he’d been to the town was to sell corn, Roland sharing how Walter had set up a trap for him when he’d passed through, the town now killed by Roland, in his own words. Roland then takes a moment to piss on Brown’s corn, as requested, he deciding whether Brown was Walter, and when he returns back inside, is called out by these thoughts from Brown, Roland debating if he needed to take him out, his morals holding his hand, Brown then offering to listen, if Roland still needed to unload his troubles. Brown makes it easier by plainly asking about Tull, and Roland lets it out.

Roland’s description of where he’d purchased the now dead mule, as well as his cross-country trudge follows, until getting to Tull. As he drew closer, hearing “Hey, Jude” being played, the inhabitants the usual slightly off country-folk, Roland approaches an old man pitching some hay in a barn, getting him to agree to look after his mule once tossing a gold piece in his direction. When Roland then attempts to get one of the boys playing marbles to inform him of whether there was a cafe in town, none answering until the youngest replies, he paying for it after Roland leaves, he views the inside of the bar mentioned before heading in. The people inside stare until he gets to the bar, he then ordering three burgers, attention called back to him as they cooked, he having to dissuade a man with a big knife to end his approach toward him. When he was nearly done eating another man puts a hand on his shoulder, Roland realizing Walter had made the man crazy, he already deceased. Roland, taken aback when he spoke the High Speech to him, gives him a gold piece as requested, from shock, the man returning to his table gladly. The bar quickly empties after this, even the piano player leaving, the bar-maid angry he’d gotten her customers to exit, Roland asking whom the man at the table was, then inquiring of Walter, she agreeing to tell for the price of getting laid. Afterward, she tells of how the man downstairs, Nort had died, then he asking once more about Walter.

Walter had arrived near sundown the same day Nort had passed, a fast wind having risen, people closing down windows, one man whom had seen him enter, not wanting to make his acquaintance. Walter heads for Sheb’s Bar, most within paying him no mind what with the storm and they involved in their own activities, only Alice, the barmaid the only interested eye-witness, he heading for the bar and requesting some good whiskey, Nort’s body lying on tables in the middle of the room. Alice leaves the bar a moment to open a keg, Walter stating of seeing the dead man, and Alice launching into how those in attendance weren’t real mourners, but seemed to mock him, as they had during his life, Walter putting back his shot, showing his money, as requested, she then consenting to pour his second drink. When Alice attempts to ask how long his stay would be, Walter turns the conversation on her, about how she had affection for Nort, she sensing a bad vibe and commanding he leave, but then Walter shows his eyes and she feels drugged, he laughing loudly and the ruckus around them quieting, people watching him.

No one was affected by his laugh to join him, he approaching a lady whom had been singing and whapping her tummy, she forced to laugh a couple times until fleeing and crying, Walter starting his little show with Nort, spitting on him with precision, more people starting to leave, and those still there gathering around, he continuing his resurrection, and as people saw Nort’s first breaths, more heading out, and upon opening his eyes, Alice running upstairs. Walter yells after her of this being for her, it impossible to undo, and its hilarity, she locking her door. Nort goes out for weed, Walter having gone when Alice returns downstairs, Nort taking his table by the door, he greeting her and sharing what Walter had told him, stating of his desire to stop using, but how he was addicted and it giving him tremors, which made him unable to, he saddened by this. She then finishes lighting the bar, only one other patron coming in, Nort then remembering to give her a message from Walter, revealing 19 being the number to say to Nort if she wanted him to reveal the truth of Death and the next world, he certain she wouldn’t be able to resist forever. Alice is sickened by realizing this truth, but by the next day, life already normalized, and by the day after, all the same as usual, Alice still struggling with the word she attempted to keep to herself, she dipping into the whiskey to help her ignore the urge.

This ended her recollection, she believing he’d dozed off, and was doing so herself when he inquires of this being all which had occurred, she agreeing, then he stating he shouldn’t linger there too long, since there was most likely a trap awaiting him, as well. He advises she do her best to forget the number, and if she gets an overwhelming urge, to retreat upstairs and say it as many times as necessary. She is comforted in knowing he wouldn’t leave yet, and next morning when she feeds him, he inquires of whether she had a map of the southeast, she stating of it only being desert, he then going off to see the hostler, Kennerly to see if he knew more, Allie warning him he tended to make up ‘facts’ if he didn’t know, she touched when he thanks her.

When he’d gotten to Kennerly, his daughters were roaming the grounds, his eldest, a horny teen, whom he kept having to threaten to get inside the house. Roland inquires what he knew about the desert and what lay beyond, he uncertain, Roland paying him another coin to continue watching the mule, he deciding he’d remain in town for a little while longer. Four days pass, Roland’s resolve to leave fading, he aware this could be the snare Walter had left him, Sheb busting in with raised knife and sounding nuts, claiming Allie was his, Roland then recognizing him from his past. Allie calms him as he cries and sets his broken wrists. Roland asks if Sheb remembers the time they’d met before, he then commanding him to leave, Sheb then spouting of Roland only having been a kid, but quickly obeying his demand. Allie then attempts to continue where they’d been interrupted, but Roland isn’t interested any longer, she considering the situation Sheb and he must have been in involving a girl he’d cared for, she trying to have him acquiesce to her desire, but failing.

The next evening, the bar is shut, this being a similar day to the Sabbath. Allie cleans shop, Roland walking to the church and watching the congregation sing, the preacher-woman massive and insane. Once the song finishes, the woman begins speaking, Roland getting the feeling he’d been there before, her subject for tonight being “The Interloper”, she describing how she knew most of the characters in the Bible and loved them, the only one she didn’t know, being The Interloper, she afraid because she wasn’t familiar with his inner thoughts, she clearly referring to Satan, warning her followers to be wary, bringing their hysteria to a climax and spouting of the apocalypse, the lady also including a name Roland vaguely had heard of before, realizing Walter had also infected her after witnessing the questions she asked the people, everyone in moaning agony, Roland uneasy. When the preacher-woman singles out a man whom was particularly affected, she gives him solace with Jesus’ forgiveness. She then makes certain they would all attack Satan if they saw him, Roland leaving and noting his time to move on almost arriving.

Allie next states how the preacher-woman wouldn’t entertain his presence, she secluding herself if it wasn’t a Sunday. When Roland asks when she’d come to town, Allie relays it could have been two or twelve year’s, she then being dishonest when he asks which way she’d walked from, she eventually relenting and confessing it was from the desert, where the dwellers made their homes, this news easing Roland a bit, since it was where he was heading, his final question of where she currently resided reluctantly answered. Roland senses his last day had arrived, Allie feeling this moment, as well, she feeding him, and their farewell abrupt. Roland mentions after this, seeing her again one more time before her death. When he’d gotten to the preacher-woman, Sylvia Pittston’s home, everything had become silent, the wind having dissipated, knowing it would come back with force the longer it was away. A strange light was tinting the view, and Roland knocked a few times, busting his way in to see her rocking in a chair, neither of them speaking for a moment, until she declares he wouldn’t get Walter, since Roland was with the dark side, he stating how Walter had gone to her, she admitting she’d slept with him, speaking the High Speech to her.

Roland informs her Walter had fucked her in more ways than one, she continuing to state Roland being on the side of the devil and having seen him lurking in the church. He asks her why Walter had brought back Nort, she stating Walter had informed her he was working with God and how Roland would want to sleep with her, but she wouldn’t allow this since Walter had made her pregnant, telling her it was royalty, Roland sharing what she truly had was a devil and he would be able to get it out of her, she reacting by drawing back. Roland asks what was beyond the desert, her answer being he wouldn’t get Walter, but “burn”, Walter giving her this information. Roland threatens the details out of her by making like he would begin removing her child, she finally relenting and confessing of Walter going to the mountains and stopping on the other end to regain his power, she stating Roland had murdered her child and he’d get his, demanding he leave. He states she didn’t have a baby, demon, or otherwise, then doing as she bid.

When Roland had gotten to Kennerly’s, he could see a dust storm on the way, but hadn’t reached them yet. Kennerly inquires if he was leaving today, Roland agreeing, and Kennerly informing his idea of moving on before the storm not giving him enough of a head start, stating it would be his death if he got caught in it. Kennerly’s eye movement gives away an attack by his daughter, Soobie, Roland missing most of the hit, it barely getting his elbow. Roland again insists for his mule, Kennerly acquiescing, he leaving the two in the barn and walking into the hot air. Roland makes a stop to see Allie, but she wasn’t working, and no one was inside, he getting some provisions and leaving payment, considering whether he’d be able to bypass Walter’s trap, but not holding onto hope. Walter pretended to be divine, spouting of royalty’s spawn, a crimson youth, and it made him wonder if he had been fooling around the whole time, the answer essential.

Then a shriek has townspeople pouring out from behind closed doors, all carrying weapons, Sheb using Allie as a hostage, stepping forward first, she begging to be put out of her misery for having said the number, Roland reacting automatically and putting them both down, all the others being fended off as they came, he locating temporary shelter in the general store/barber’s, reloading and shooting more as they attempted entry, and as he exits through the back, puts down more who meet him there, he backing into the desert, still shooting and yelling, getting them all as they closed in. As they became fewer, he’d only gotten minor scrapes, someone then catching him in the face with the butt of a knife, which puts him on the ground, he now getting stabbed in different spots, the worst one on his leg, Roland catching them all in the end, even those attempting to escape. As he retraces his steps back to where they’d ambushed him, he counts how many were dead, Tull’s fifty-eight residents no more. He saw what had become of Nort, located his mule, and led it back to the stable. After attending to Nort, he goes to Sheb’s bar, eats some burgers with beer, then spends the night in Allie’s bed. By morning, the sky was clear, he finished tending to his cuts, and starts through the desert.

Roland believed Brown had passed out, Zoltan even showing he’d been resting during the story, Roland ready to prepare a place for himself to sleep when Brown inquires if this retelling had helped him get a load off, Roland questioning why he’d feel negatively, and he stating of Roland being human, unless he hadn’t been honest, Roland denying he had misspoken, detecting his favor for Brown, asking whom he actually was, and he responding of being himself, and why Roland thought there was anything hidden. Brown believes Roland is close to catching Walter, he uncertain whether Walter would feel hopeless when Brown asks, and Roland not having reached this point himself, declaring of going and doing what’s necessary, Brown accepting this and rolling over to sleep. In the morning, Brown prepares him a final meal and gets him going, they parting with kind words. When the sun had set, Roland dreamt, the mountains near, but unseen, he having Cort repeatedly returning to his thoughts, the man showing him how to shoot and his morals. When he regains consciousness, he notes of his “romantic” nature only having been known by few, Susan from Mejis being one, and then reminding himself again of Cort and how he now was the last to survive, packing up and continuing his walk.

Roland gets a children’s rhyme stuck in his mind, his mother having sung it to him during nap time. He was now devoid of water and had been walking for a little over two weeks, the mountains not looking any nearer. When he scraped his hands after tripping and had maddened thoughts of the blood as it fell, he became aware of his sanity taking a break. He then notices a couple of buildings which caught his attention earlier upon checking the distance of the mountains, they much closer now. He makes out one as a stable and the other a motel or home, this “a way station” for coaches. There was a person propped against the building Roland recognizing as Walter once walking closer, exhausted he still prompts himself to run as he pulls his gun and declares of having him in his sights, but when the figure gets up, he sees he’s facing a blonde boy, the two staring and Roland not believing his eyes, heading toward the stable, a buzzing persistence in his head. When he reaches the black heat inside, he turns to see the kid had followed, he then falling face-down.

Roland resurfaces with light in his face and straw under his head, the boy having attempted to keep him at ease, the boy also giving him water, then offering food, but Roland taking it slow for knowing he’d gotten sunstroke, the boy then introducing himself as John, preferring to be called Jake Chambers. Roland senses he was ten or eleven, his slight look of intimidation letting Roland know he could rely on him. When Jake returns with more water, Roland admits he’d mistaken Jake for Walter at first, Jake revealing a man in black, a holy man had passed through, Jake not liking him, and when Roland insists he attempt a guess of how long ago he’d left, Jake hesitates between one to two weeks, but certain it was “three poops ago”, then reminded of a film he’d seen in Times Square, Roland not understanding this. When Jake goes off to acquire some meat for him, Roland knows the boy wasn’t from around there, and when he’d returned, Roland inquires into it, Jake no longer knowing, but mentioning someone from his past stating it was due to too much TV.

Roland asks what he’d meant by “Channel 11”, thinking it was a “beam”, Jake then becoming upset with the continued questioning, since he knew his memory was going and he may not remember what his own name was soon, and Roland would be leaving him. Roland essentially tells him to bite the bullet (a phrase I despise), but then requests Jake tell him what he could of his past. Jake only relented when Roland insists so he could decide whether he may be able to puzzle through the leftovers Jake couldn’t put together any longer, the boy describing New York City, the Statue of Liberty, cabs, buses, how he got to, what he brought with him, and what he wore to school, he only using half remembered details. Roland then inquires if Jake would like for him to put him to sleep, to help him regain his memories, he showing Jake what he meant, a similar trick to watching a pendulum swing, Jake quickly lulled, and Roland then thinking of another song his mother had sung to him. Roland disgustedly acknowledges his hands own talents for destruction before inquiring where Jake was. Jake is heading out, detailing what was in his packed lunch the cook had made him and what subjects he had at school, as well as how all the adults treated him cordially, he not experiencing any exceptional warmth from even his parents, and at school, he’s left alone, but has no buddies, girls attracted to him, but his stately manner throwing them off. When he gets to a corner, Walter is there, causing him to get run over by a car, the last he sees is Walter approaching and his own hand.

Roland is troubled by the boy’s story, he not having heard of a place like this before, the closest possibility being Lud, he then giving Jake the option to remember, but he choosing not to, Roland letting him go to sleep. He decides how fond of Jake he was, as he sipped water and looked through the stable, seeing the machine Jake had gotten the water from, Roland then sitting near him and debating whether Walter was allowing him to catch up on purpose. Next, when thinking of the children’s rhyme, Cort comes to mind, as well as others which circle back to Susan, he then entertaining himself with an old tune as he’s comforted in knowing Walter was drawing nearer, Roland then beginning to drowse. He regains consciousness near nightfall, Jake no longer there, Roland locating him outside on the porch of the house, he having made a fire. Roland sits nearby and discusses how he’d be continuing his chase of Walter, uncertain whether he’d end his life or would need him to lead him somewhere, when Jake asks his plan. Roland confides it was whether Walter could lead him to a tower, and then states Jake would need to accompany him, asking about how much food they had, and Jake sharing of a smelly cellar, but not going down, since it seemed unstable. After Jake shares how he was glad he hadn’t murdered Roland in his sleep, he asks if he could share the stable with him when they go to sleep, Roland gives permission, and thinks of his past before calling it a night.

Roland looks in the cellar the next morning, Jake correct in stating the stench being strong from rotten vegetables, he detecting some canned food, but upon the third round, the foundation beginning to creak loudly, Roland calling for Jake to exit, he then hearing Allie’s voice caution him about “the Drawers” and Walter, he then going to the wall he’d heard the voice at and punching through it, grabbing a jaw bone before returning upstairs and out. Jake is hysterical, and hugs him when he sees him exit. Roland realizes Walter may have counted on his affection for Jake, Roland then suggesting they leave, giving a water-bag for him to carry, and Roland taking the last two along with his possessions and the food. After walking a little ways, Jake waves goodbye to the way station, stating how he felt they were being watched and glad to be reassured they wouldn’t return, soon the way station no longer in sight, and they heading for the mountains.

The mountains became more distinct a few days later, Roland able to make out the colors and type of terrain was ahead, Jake watching the lightning ‘show’ which would occur nightly, lulling him to sleep. Roland considers the possibilities of what could be in store for him by Walter, since the boy was an exceptional travel companion, staying out of his way and not slowing him down, no questions being raised on Roland’s actions, he knowing Walter had some reason for putting Jake in his path, and it most likely a doozy if everything was going as well as it was. Walter’s nightly burned campsites were also becoming more recently abandoned, Roland wary upon soon confronting him. At noon on the fourth day, Jake was commanded to stop after he’d stumbled, Roland insisting he drink some water, he then stating from this point forward, they’d be taking breaks daily at this hour, Roland distracting Jake from his guilt by pulling his bullet trick and speaking of where he grew up, as well as Merlin, the boy then going to sleep.

Roland prepares a smoke for himself as he realizes he was no longer urgently desiring to catch up with Walter, thinking of how he may attempt to trick Roland. He imagines men from his past and the varying humors, as well as natures they had, concluding his thoughts of a bird he related to because of its unrelenting nature to kill, Roland affected negatively for a moment before letting the thought go. Another place and time is shown, spring being the season, Cort, David, the falcon, and Cuthbert or Bert were in a spot where a game would soon be started. Roland then makes certain all were prepared, none of them yet allowed to speak the High Speech, Cort letting a dove out of it’s cage, David following soon after, Bert then getting punished for not releasing the dove on time, Roland distracting them by yelling of seeing the dove and David’s progress, the falcon dropping the dove, Roland running at the fallen bird, as David tore into it, he distracting the falcon with a piece of rabbit, and when he tried putting David’s leash back on, was rewarded with a cut to his arm, David resumes consuming the dove until Roland succeeded with getting the falcon leashed, giving him another slice of meat, and hooding him so he’d set upon his arm, Cort regards how Roland had been cut because the falcon didn’t respect him, and wouldn’t ever do so.

Cort releases them for the evening and reminds Bert of his punishment for later and the next morning, but whacking Bert once more for seeing his insolence in the reflection of Roland’s eyes. When they are returning, Roland offers they both eat in a different kitchen which would possibly allow more safety for Bert to get away with eating dinner, Roland regarding how it shouldn’t matter if Cort learned of this or not. The kitchen cook was called Hax, he of mixed origins and a pleasant acquaintance to all of the children he encountered, even the wild ones becoming gunslingers, he giving the two meat scraps as work was quickly done around them. Hax is then approached by a scullery boy leading someone from the Guards to announce the Guard wanted to speak with him. Hax instructs the two to go get some pie and leave after so he didn’t receive backlash, the two eating under the stairs. When they were ready to go, Hax and the Guard make their way near the stairs, making it impossible for the boys to exit undetected, the two hearing something about a get-together for a job in a few weeks and poisoned meat. The men then agree how loyal they were to someone, Hax then inquiring about whether kids would be poisoned in the town and if it’d be painful, the Guard assuring it was mild.

The two speak more of how the Guard planned to make his leaving look normal as Roland notes how he’d had the chance to end the two where they’d stood, Bert and he digesting all they’d heard, Roland seeing Hax’s death in Bert’s eyes. When Roland’s father had returned home, he didn’t waste any time to inform him, the man surprised, wondering about Roland’s reasons for coming forward, he stating it was because they had tricked him, then declaring wanting to be present when he was hanged, his father deciding to allow it. As Roland inquires whether his father knew whom Hax and the Guard had referred to as a “good man”, and why, if caught, it wouldn’t satisfy the public, Roland’s father dismisses him instead of answering. Roland remembers how his mother, father, and Marten, the good man, had been found in the end, and debated how it could technically include himself among them, as well (mysterious).

Roland notes how Bert would’ve found where the gallows were, being quite a suitable relation to the information they’d overheard, the notes from each of their fathers letting them out of Cort’s lessons early, and he instructing the two to set half a loaf of bread under each of Hax’s feet once dead, which he supplied and threatened them to complete correctly. When the boys had arrived a couple hours before everyone else and realized what the bread was for, Bert was chickening out, but Roland saw the value of why they’d been given permission, although not forcing Bert and himself to climb the gallows as Roland had suggested, knowing Cort would’ve forced them both, he discovering how dissatisfied he was with the state of his childhood by this point, then retrieving a splinter of wood from the platform and replying it would be a reminder. They then sit down across the way and view the people as they arrived, Roland hoping there was a good reason behind betraying Hax, he apprehensive and Bert showing no emotion.

Roland was reassured by how the hanging had gone, Hax’s arrival not eliciting too much response from the gathered group, a gunslinger leading Hax to his rope and inquiring if he’d care to make confession, Hax denying the need, Roland planning on speaking with his father about what look he’d seen pass over the crowd as Hax spoke. Right before the deed was done, the gunslinger states his charges and pulls the trap door open as Hax is readying to deny it was true. Roland had stayed impressed with how Hax had continued to attempt speaking after he was hanging, after this everyone made their way off, the two boys approaching the body and Bert discussing how Hax didn’t look himself anymore, Roland disagreeing. The two then spread the bread under Hax’s hanging body, Bert declaring he’d enjoyed the show, Roland not denying this, but replying it was definitely an event. A few years after this, Roland had become a gunslinger, his father was already dead, and he’d killed his mother, his travels then starting.

Jake then brings Roland’s attention to the barely visible figure of Walter climbing high above them supernaturally jumping large areas, it seemed, this being a couple days at the bottom of the mountains for the two. Jake questions Roland of whether this was whom he was searching, whether they’d catch up, and what was beyond the mountains, Roland confirming it was the man he was chasing, believed perhaps they’d reach him on the other side, and couldn’t determine what they’d discover there, he hastening they continue. When they make camp later on, Roland wonders if Jake felt the gravity of their chase and eventual conclusion, however it may involve the Tower, as well, Jake then referred to as a “sacrifice” as Roland covers him as he slept.

Cryptically, Jake discovers “the oracle”, and it had nearly killed him, the days torturous, and Jake’s steadfastness making Roland look on him with pride, despite the crazed look in his eyes, but as they hiked further up, Roland was able to shoot a rabbit, he then ordering Jake to sit whilst he gathered wood, the boy asleep by the time he’d returned. When he’d gone to top off their water-skins, he’s reminded of Allie (King talks like she’d been completely forgotten by now, but possibly putting it like this because of how long it seemed for Roland walking through the desert), he returning to make the rabbit stew with the remainder of their veggies, and after waking Jake, informs him they were staying put the next day, sensing it wouldn’t hurt, but also not having a good feeling about it. As Roland nods off, Jake already back to sleep, he is reminded of Bert again as he throws his cigarette in the campfire, the night pleasant, he dreaming. Next, Susan is about to die, Roland’s love, he being held by a couple of townspeople, but in reality not having witnessed her death. People were chucking corn at her, the husks aflame before even hitting her, the witch, Rhea definitely amused, wherever she was, Roland’s attention then brought to Susan’s window when she’d shrieked about a boy, Roland viewing Jake with a sharp object in his head. Roland wakes when he begins feeling coals from the fire burning his hand, he still hearing a sound he thought had come from his dream, then seeing Jake wasn’t there, he up and after him. Jake had gone further up a ways, Roland smelling his scent, and when entering between some stones, understood what the boy was going through mentally, and physically, the oracle, or succubus emanating a feeling hard to ignore, Roland whipping out the jawbone in his pocket and putting it in front of his face, doing the same for Jake, he having more trouble coming around, but passes out, which allowed Roland to get them both back to the camp, the energy seeming upset, Roland aware now how deeply he cared for Jake, certain he could sense Walter laughing at him.

Roland wakes by Jake yelling at him, he having bound Jake before going back to sleep, he now hungry and angry, Roland explaining he had wandered off, showing him the jawbone, which reminded him, Roland then informing him he was to stay at the camp whilst he took care of something, stating if Jake believed for any reason he had to desert the camp, to look at the jawbone, Jake resisting his ability to do this, due to his revulsion to it. Roland instructs how he should use it when necessary, he relating Jake to another childhood buddy of his, Alain, Jake then relenting with sad resignation, Roland considering how dangerous his task was, but he needing to learn more about the oracle, and attempt to defeat it. Roland then takes out a pill of mescaline, explaining to Jake of what it did, Jake describing its similarity to LSD, which he couldn’t remember the reason for it being similar, Roland then taking the pill and cleaning his weapons whilst he waited. After, he sewed a tear in Jake’s shirt, he then noticing the physical affects of the drug kicking in. Roland announces it was time he go, Jake wishing him luck and safety, Roland rumpling his hair as he walked past him.

Roland heads for the rocks, he taking a moment to sip some water from the stream he would be crossing, looking at his reflection curiously. Roland realized his thoughts were becoming heavier and felt like it was slowing his actions, but  he moved himself onward, fortunately still peaceful in mind, the drug usually irritating him, and as he entered the circle, not feeling the way he had before, he lying on the altar and thinking of a line of Manni poetry, seeing faces in the trees, finally feeling a presence and requesting it to share what needed to be passed on to him. He now was forced to envision Susan, as the oracle mourned and pled for Roland to be warm toward her, since it was already frigid there, the oracle denying of hearing about Jake when Roland brought him up, and continued to go after Roland’s lust with desperation, he negotiating to give what the oracle desired after he received honest information, he withholding and realizing the oracle was moving off sadly, he insisting being told, the oracle then stating he sleep, but when being denied, suggests half sleep, Roland debating this due to the serious nature of what was being asked of him, he also considering its necessity, and then succumbing to half sleep.

The first item he learns is the number three being his fate, another number to show up later, Roland then asking for this to be elaborated, he told of a “young, dark-haired…demon” called, Heroin, the oracle then warning of unfound “doorways”. The second piece of knowledge is brief, a female arriving on “wheels”, and the third about someone else’s end, Roland then inquiring of Walter and learning they’d be chatting of the Tower soon, he afterward insisting to hear about Jake, whom was his ticket to Walter, and in turn he leading him to the three, and this getting him to the Dark Tower, the oracle unable to explain, to Roland’s aggravation. He learns Jake could be saved though, which would have him turn back, he unable for Marten deceiving his father, the oracle stating Walter had consumed Marten’s essence and wasn’t accessible any longer, as Roland was aware, but he not able to give up, the oracle replying of he being cursed in this case, and Roland allowing the oracle then to do as she willed.

The oracle does her ‘bidness’, Roland having to stop her when he’d finished, she persisting, so he being more aggressive to leaving, then considering how long her next wait could last, time being an overpowering hindrance. Jake goes toward him when he approaches the camp, looking worried, Roland clarifying he wasn’t ill, and Jake could leave the jawbone he carried with him, Jake tossing it with loathing, Roland so exhausted he had been ready to share his problems (dan-dinh, also a gamer, apparently), and update him of what he’d experienced, but immediately turns away from the idea, and wondered if he was losing his mind by even having thought to attempt it. He instead shares of their plans for later and right then he would sleep. Jake uses an idiom which confuses Roland until rephrased, and when he’d resurfaced, he designated the task of rekindling the fire to the boy, he shocked to hear a rhyme he hadn’t remembered saying in front of him. Jake is proud of himself when succeeding with using the tools required to restart the fire, Roland walking off to hunt, he returning with three rabbits ready for boiling, and praising Jake on having prepared the water for them, the boy blushing. As the stew boiled, Roland gathers vines as possible rope for later, but sensing “ka” was with them. They break camp at sunrise, their food supply quite light, and as they hiked, Jake and Roland discuss the boy’s views on their upcoming hike up the mountain being strenuous or not, Jake believing the latter.

Jake guesses correctly about the start of their hike up, it not terribly taxing, and when they viewed their progress, Roland was struck by how non-threatening the desert looked from this height, and how it had almost been the end of him. As they continue forward, their path getting steeper, Roland hears the sounds of a storm, but they being safe for now, since it was on the other side of the mountain currently. At sunset, the two set up camp, Roland supplying them a blanket tied up to cover them from wind, Jake being reminded of his mother when remembering a descriptive phrase she used in reference to how deeply he slept, he fighting the urge to get upset. Roland is reminded of a phrase Cort would use when he’d ask useless questions, then Jake wonders how he’d gotten there and the reason for his memory loss, Roland stating it was caused by Walter and the Tower. When Jake confesses confusion, Roland agrees with the sentiment, Jake then asking where he was from, Roland sharing the place was called New Canaan and wasn’t there anymore.

Roland then reminisces to himself of a time when his parents had set him up with a suitable girl for a party, and how the surroundings had begun to lose its luster when he had been about to leave to follow Walter, he saddened by the state of its decline compared to his earlier memories. After he and Jake speak of how the place had turned to ruins, Jake shares how he’d want to have lived there, he then lying down to sleep. Roland considers the unfortunate situation to come for Jake, but this only asserting itself temporarily before he came back to himself and slept. The further on they arose, the more treacherous it became, but Jake stayed useful with his agility in small rock faces, he able to help Roland with a few narrow spots with the ropes they’d brought. The next day, they were trudging through an icy spot of the mountain caused by a cloud, they detecting a footprint in the ice, making camp later upon sunset, and Roland believing Jake may start asking questions, but instead goes to sleep quite quickly. Roland follows suit, but wakes with a similar nightmare as before with Jake and the object in his head, he waking and seeing Jake wasn’t soundly sleeping either, Roland then attempting again to sleep.

One week after the footprint, they were in Walter’s presence for a short moment. Before this happens, they reach a point where they begin going downhill, and when they stop at a stream, they smell Walter on the air and continue on until approaching a bend, Jake wanting to stop and looking terrified, he pleading they turn around, and when Roland refuses, Jake is dazed with the knowledge of he going to be murdered, and this time by Roland, the latter attempting to not straight up lie and only saying he’ll be wary, Jake resigning and holding Roland’s hand as he leads him forward. The two see Walter and the wall of granite he was already climbing, he greeting Roland magnanimously, but with sarcastic quality. Roland fires three shots before controlling himself, Walter amused and inquiring if Roland would deny himself the answers he was chasing. Roland suggests he return to eye level to discuss it, but Walter thinking a good chat on the other side of the mountain a better plan, he regarding Jake and adding he wouldn’t be present, this making him emit a noise of fear. Walter then leaves them through a crack in the face of the granite. Roland watches Jake and thinks how with training he could’ve become a gunslinger, he now able to separate any emotion he’d had for Jake, he bluntly stating of he having the option to join him or not, Jake knowing he’d starve if he stayed, so continued forward, they reaching the point Walter had been and following his route.

Roland next confides to Jake, speaking as if dreaming, of he, Alain, and Bert going somewhere they weren’t supposed to, he having been speaking nonstop since leaving the outside. When night fell, they walk a bit longer before making camp, no longer hearing Walter. Roland had continued his recollection of a particular Ball and how the three had snuck in by balcony, seeing gunslingers with their ladies and elders being entertained, at one point Roland’s mother dancing with Marten until his father motioned for her, everyone by this time knowing his father would become Dinh of Gilead, at the least, but only one person, Gabrielle Veriss not being aware, Jake asking of her being his mother, and Roland confirming. He then tells of Marten having been the gunslingers’ counselor, but soon started repeating himself, so Jake lies down as Roland makes a cigarette, and notes how the memory pained him because of his father’s betrayal. Roland then sleeps, this time Jake looking at him with affection before also sleeping.

Roland’s ability to understand time had been partially effected by the desert’s sameness and completely wiped by the mountain consistently dark. The days which could have been weeks or hours passed, at one point Jake wandering off a ways and Roland hearing him state of having found what felt like a railroad track, Roland following to investigate, and upon seeing for himself by striking a light, couldn’t imagine what the metal conduits could’ve been meant for, but deciding they’d see where they led when waking again, the two bedding down. When Roland woke, Jake was already up and waiting by a rail, they following this for three sleeps, and after the fourth, bump into a car, Jake recognizing it for what it was because of cartoons, he demonstrating how it worked, a strange electronic voice encouraging the continuation of pushing it, Roland then helping.  He locates the button to end the electronic voice, thankfully since it would speak every time it was pushed and they move on in silence.

The river they traveled by was sometimes close and at others almost inaudible, the workout for Roland of mostly pumping the car by himself helped his ability to pass out when they stopped, Jake eventually asking about his fight with his teacher after a long period of no conversation, and this not long before the ambush by the Slow Mutants. Roland explains how an unseen man had been hung for rape, Jake supplying he’d been “invisible”, Roland deciding not to share how the man had been captured right then. He continues with how a couple years later he had ditched a girl which he wished he hadn’t, but Jake knowing his sentiment wasn’t true, Roland fessing up to start his story of how he truly grew up. It took place in Gilead, the seriousness of war beginning, this is a few years after Hax’s death, Roland now fourteen and feeling like a horny teen, passes by his mother’s quarters on his way to the roof for some self-love, Marten calling to him of his mother wishing to speak with him. When he comes in to see she sitting there impassively, asking of his schoolwork and training, he notes Marten next to her seeming to have some control of her, the man stating he could leave, but Roland replying of his mother being the one to give this permission, Marten again excusing him and mentioning knowing where he’d been headed and the reason, Roland leaving and shockingly hearing Marten smack his mother and addressing her inappropriately.

Roland’s other buddy, Jamie was passing by and was deciding whether to update him on the most recent news of war, but upon seeing the look on Roland’s face, instead goes off to grab the other kids, Roland continuing on to Cort’s cabin where he rested and ended his schooling when awaking him, the man giving him a chance to change his mind, speaking of how bright a possibility he’d had if he had patience, but Roland’s mind was set, he being sent away to prepare for his probable expulsion. Roland gets David from the barn, the bird quite old now, but also allowing Roland to take him outside to the area the fight to adulthood would ceremoniously be won or lost, normally the spectators surrounding the spot being with friends and family, but today was only filled with Roland’s fellows, looking on with fear. When Bert mentions where Roland’s weapon was, he confirms he had it with him, Cort then entering and asking the traditional questions. Roland thought of his mother and father, the former somewhere currently inside the castle and the latter away on a hunt. When Roland announces his weapon was David, it only pauses Cort for a moment before they begin. When Roland uncovers David’s eyes, Cort speaks with contempt of Roland’s choice, fortunately David flying true, right at Cort’s face, he doing the first thing which could save the battle, the result leaving David on the ground, Roland attacking whilst the timing was right, but Cort still quick and grabbing at him, which tripped him, his possibility for success dwindling, until he felt David pecking at him, not able to see, so as Cort comes at him, Roland throws the broken bird at Cort, commanding David to “kill”, Cort landing on Roland.

Cort was still fighting him when he landed, Roland fending him off, David still inflicting damage, but he finally freeing himself of the bird, Roland breaking his nose and moving away before Cort could retaliate, grabbing the man’s weapon and standing over him. Cort makes a final play and Roland squarely hits him, Cort then gladly giving in, naming Roland a gunslinger, his recovery including a week in a coma. Before allowing Cort to fully pass out, he requests the key to where his guns would be, Cort leaving him with one final piece of advice, Roland acknowledging his words, stating he’d speak to the whores in town to not expect him for awhile, then designates his buddies to build a stretcher and instruct two nurses to attend to Cort. Roland comes to terms with now being the youngest gunslinger and the first of his group to ‘graduate’. This was also to be the night he lost his virginity, and whilst Roland hadn’t confided every detail, he believed Jake could deduce most of it, the boy’s reaction defensive and arrogant which was making Roland mad, especially when he mentions how the “game” he’d played may have been his foray into adulthood, but wondered if men ever truly matured, stating how he knew Roland was planning on using him as a bargaining “chip”, Roland then telling him to sleep.

When they’d moved on again, Jake saw the Slow Mutant first, they passing unharmed, but the three more ahead of them, standing in the way, Roland not expecting to be attacked, but shoots the first which heads for them. When they’re again lunged at, Jake is being pulled off the car, even after Roland shoots the creature, but after a bit more struggle, gets Jake loose, having him hang on by his belt (this calling back to the day I learned what this meant in prison, ha ha), they moving forward until again halted, this time by rocks on the track, Roland informing Jake he’d have to move them whilst he held them off with his guns, Jake not wanting to, but making a quick job of it, every “mutie” which made for him, Roland shooting. As more headed for them, Roland calls to Jake to return, they barreling over the rest, he keeping their fast pace well after he didn’t need to, they moving on for a few more days without any surprises. On their fourth waking, they approach a light source, Jake thinking the end was close, but Roland sensing otherwise.

As the light gets brighter, they see more stopped train cars of varying sorts, as well as more rail lines, many entrance ways ahead of them, and one of the signs in a language Roland could read, the two eventually getting off the car to walk, Jake reminded of this place looking like a “subway” station, but unable to define it, Roland seeing and taking a bow with arrows from a “weapon shop”. Jake points out a mummified body, the two supposing what had occurred and began seeing a few more as they proceeded. Roland instructs they return to the push car, but Jake deciding to stay, Roland feigning this was fine as Jake shouts after him of he believing Roland had made an agreement about him with someone, Roland then thinking how if he could wait until Jake matured a bit more, they both would be able to deal with Walter more easily, but turned from this idea, knowing they’d both be killed if they turned back, so Roland began moving the car, but Jake comes after him anyways, Roland sensing now the end was near.

Jake pumps the car for awhile so Roland could test the bow and arrows, which weren’t in good shape and couldn’t be repaired. The river becomes louder as they traveled, and after a few sleeps a new light begins to grow, it heading to an eventual crossing over the river. As well as this, natural sunshine was ahead, barely a pinprick, Jake halting them for a moment to inquire whether Roland thought Walter wanted them to cross the river to fall in the middle, Roland knowing this wasn’t probable, but stating ignorance, Roland then after inspecting the drop, suggests they walk across, Jake leading and Roland ready to help him should he stumble, the beams settling audibly as Roland walked across them, Jake almost taking a tumble when losing his balance for a moment before recovering, warning of a pot-hole and speaking of it like the game Simon Says, Roland knowing it as “Mother Says”. Roland feels like the walk was taking much more time than it truly was, also imagining how he’d react if he fell, he attempting to keep his thoughts from wandering to the boy’s future and how close the agreement was to completing.

Jake announces of planning to jump across the remaining distance, he stating Roland’s weight wouldn’t hold where he’d been standing and should head back without him, Roland noticing the underlying terror in his voice despite the attempt to sound calm. Roland takes a large step forward, Jake repeating for Roland to return the way he’d come and not wishing to die by Roland’s hand, the gunslinger demanding Jake continue on so both wouldn’t plummet into the river, and upon walking on, they inclined toward the sunshine, it then blocked by Walter, he greeting them mockingly. Roland reaches for the jawbone, but he no longer had it, and as Walter laughed, Jake lost his footing and hung to the side, Walter stating Roland approach, or not see him again, as Jake requested aid. Walter threatens to go as Roland debated, but he jumps forward with his goal of the Tower in his mind. Jake relents to his fate and speaks of accepting Roland ditching him as he grasped the ledge, the whole railing giving way and falling as he clung to it, Jake not making a sound. Roland knows he would be thinking of Jake and this moment long into the future, and as he approached Walter, the man in black envies his moving to the next step, Roland taking some shots at him, as Walter leads him to where they’d speak.

Walter takes him to an ages old murder circle with different animal skulls surrounding them, Roland noting how Mid-World must be near, if he hadn’t already arrived. Walter suggests Roland gather wood, since the cold would still bite, afterward he building and lighting a fire, he then designating Roland to make their food, he giving him a dead rabbit. Roland cooks it and hands the whole body back to him when done, he taking out the leftover jerky he had, Walter seeming annoyed Roland would think he’d hex the food. Roland states of Walter’s looks being younger than he’d thought, Walter confessing he’d wanted to show his real one, he then bringing Roland’s attention to the sunset which he believed Roland should view for the idea he may feel like he won’t again see it for quite some time, Roland stating his indifference by this point.

Walter prepares to read Roland’s future with his extended Tarot deck, the first card drawn being told of signifying “strength”, and by the second card turned, Walter having mentioned Jake both times, then by the fourth, Roland wanting to know why Walter was having him view the cards at all, he answering by commanding he only sit through it like one would at a religious service, and upon continuing, pulls the reaper and the Tower (it reminding me of the oracle’s prophecy), then upon getting to his seventh card, Walter states of it meaning life, but not in regards to Roland, he sharing how he wasn’t the man he was searching for, he only working for him. Walter then commands Roland sleep, he lunging for Walter, but not connecting, and when next conscious, Walter has light come on when announcing wanting some, and expanding the scenery as he spoke of it.

Roland sees earth made and animals crawling on it, also seeing moons revolve, and other planets. Walter continues to demand “light”, Roland now requesting him to stop, and Walter telling him he’d have to end his quest for the Tower, but when Roland refuses, Walter continues his command for light, and before protecting himself from it, Roland views something highly significant before returning to a safety within. When Roland gets up, Walter isn’t in sight, but speaks from behind him, confessing of being impressed with how he’d handled what he’d shown him, sharing of what he’d seen, and Roland not understanding, then bluntly stating how the Tower would remain beyond his reach. Roland defends himself by stating of Walter not understanding him enough to make such an assumption, Walter becoming serious and relating how he had been Marten, which he knew Roland believed and he’s the farthest traveled servant of the red ruler of the Dark Tower, Roland inquiring about Walter’s words of why he’d mentioned “red”, but he not delving further, only stating how Roland wouldn’t learn anything new and wouldn’t ever do so, then asking him to describe the last thing he’d seen, Roland detailing of it being a single purple “blade of grass”, Walter then requesting Roland listen.

Walter begins with the universe being “the Great All”, going further to explain how a mind couldn’t “grasp the infinite”, and one company “or cabal” had gotten closest, “the North Central Positronics”. When Walter goes on to confess how many accomplishments had been made, regarding disease, space travel, and the closeness of curing old age, Roland interrupts by declaring disbelief, Walter allowing he didn’t need to believe it, but even with all of this headway, no one seeming impressed with the knowledge, nor understood it, the reason he mentioned this was how the universe didn’t offer “life”, but the vastness of everything, claiming there was an “end” to anything would be presumptuous. After giving many examples of what he meant about universes being right out of reach or stacked on, or beside each other, he brings in the idea of the Tower being connected to another place, and rhetorically asks if he’d go to the top and see what was in the “Room”, he believing he wouldn’t do so.

Roland suggests God would go, or Walter’s king, then inquires if the room contained anything, Walter uncertain and wary of what would happen should he look, Roland then napping after stoking the fire. When he notices Walter looking at him, he demands he stop, checking for the dawn, which Walter sees and states of they having more to discuss, as his king had informed him, before the sun was meant to rise again. Walter makes certain, after Roland asks about the king again, whether he truly saw him as an equal, this being the only way honesty could be had, Roland beginning with what Walter had meant when mentioning a “glammer” (which I don’t remember reading…), Walter defining this in how it stayed dark, the king responsible for this. Walter then states their discussion would take quite some time and the specific amount unknown. Roland then is given his chance to ask whatever he wished, Walter stating how he’d not met his king before and Roland would locate “the Ageless Stranger”, and kill him first before he did.

Walter describes how his king visited him through his dreams, he working for him since he was a child, Roland being the end of his tasks. Upon being asked the name of the Stranger, Walter shares it was Legion, Roland inquiring whom was the one which was worse, when Walter mentions this, but he denying to answer, mentioning anything of End-World being the killer of souls. Roland approaches the subject differently, asking whether after Legion was the Tower, Walter confirming, but again knowing this wasn’t what Roland wanted to know. When he asks, Walter states how if he gave him the answer, he’d surely shoot him, Roland agreeing, so instead inquires where he would next need to go, Walter going off tangent about how Marten had not left, and Roland coming to terms with how the man had only changed form, Walter then stating how he’d share stories of Roland so he could learn more, he stating how he knew his mission was to locate the Tower, Walter informing him it was more about his mind, he being an original kind, he then offering Roland tobacco, making sure he was satisfied with it, since it could be the final smoke he had for quite awhile, he then going into the Tower being sought after, since it had come to be, and it had been standing an infinite amount of time.

Roland didn’t absorb much of their long conversation, the important bit being his heading for the ocean, which was twenty miles away and would gain “the power of drawing”. Walter clarifies Roland already had this power and would draw three, Walter readying to leave and before doing so, again brings light, this time Roland glad to see it. He wakes ten years older, Walter now a skeleton, which Roland is suspicious to believe was truly Walter, he taking the jawbone, and making it to the coast. He then waits for the moment of the drawing, imagining the day he’d reach the Tower and the fight which would come.

And immediately I want to know more, but I’ll be continuing with The Eyes of the Dragon before I do. This was a quick and interesting official start into the series, and I’m exhilarated in my foray into King reading. I also wonder if this will be covered in the movie, or if it truly is a continuation after the 7th book… We shall see!

The Little Sisters of Eluria (The Dark Tower 0.5)

Image result for little sisters of eluria book cover

A scorching day has Roland of Gilead approaching a town’s gate in the Desatoya Mountains. His horse was on his last legs and Roland noted decayed flowers attached to the gate, which signified a festival of some kind, and the quiet within erroneous. The few sounds heard coming from a bug which made a deep buzz, a rap on wood, and little bells. Roland dismounts the slowly dying horse, and respectfully grooms him a bit as he notes the sounds and enters through the gate, the only other defining mark being an odd looking cross, he having seen the typical style of this in other towns he’d seen in the ten months he’d been travelling, the norm being a large cross at the entrance, a smaller one upon exiting. He views the usual businesses within, two bars, a motel, a trade shop, town hall, and a metal-smith, he also viewing a church the further into town he got, the god of choice being Jesus, which wan’t a common deity in Mid-World, but still having a following. He then is pulled back into the only sounds described, he wary of the meaning of this involving death. As Roland led his horse through the gates, he saw a forgotten cob pipe in front of the trade shop, and the swinging doors of The Bustling Pig bar were in disrepair, one hanging open, the other leaning on the building, and what looked like blood on the door still attached. A fire had taken out a barn behind a stable, and as he gets ever closer to the church, he estimates the town’s current condition would’ve occurred possibly two weeks ago due to the flowers not being completely dead in front of the church.

Roland learns where the bells he heard came from, the cross on the church door having bells strung up, he then shouting out a greeting to the town, no reply being heard. He sensed he was being monitored though, he continuing his trek to the front of the Sheriff’s office, a billow of trapped heat consuming him upon opening the door. Roland sees a blood stain in the cell, flies getting a snack from the spatter, he discovering a notebook revealing the town’s name of Eluria. He then reads some of the entries, the last leaving him to suppose the criminal may have escaped. Roland continues toward the center of town, he identifying the wooden tapping to a lame dog chewing at the boot upon a dead body in a trough. When the dog notices him and doesn’t move along after Roland shoos him, he fires a warning shot which gets the dog limping away, and mournfully howling as he headed toward the back exit of the town. When he takes a look at the body, it’s of a teenager, he noticing a trinket around the boy’s neck, which he retrieves, the engraving including the name, James. Roland was pleased he’d gotten the necklace since he now could save it on the chance he met anyone knowing the boy, realizing ka could make the possibility more certain. He debated whether to bury the lad when his horse finally drops, he catching a glimpse of eight green-tinged people walking in his direction, their gender uncertain and approaching like zombies. The group carried wooden sticks off of furniture, one of them falling as they got closer.

Roland finally fires a warning shot after another pitches a stick at him, but not far enough, and his verbal warnings go unnoticed; the shot has the desired effect of pausing their progress. As he begins instructing them to keep still as he backs away, another of the green men shoots forward, making odd noises as he came (Roland beginning to identify their sexes as they got closer). Roland shoots him squarely, the man’s reaction being to step backwards at his same quick momentum, scratching at the bullet wound, he finally tripping and staying down. The dead(-er?) bodies reaction to the sun, bullet, or both, has Roland believing there wouldn’t be a corpse to think of an excuse for soon enough. The others stay put, until “Bowler Hat” takes another step after Roland had gotten behind the trough, he blasting a final warning shot, and sharing his plans of leaving unhindered, when another greenie is heard from behind him, this one hidden by a toppled wagon, the man-thing whacking Roland on the shoulder, and he missing his aim at the greenie, the gang he’d kept still, now speeding closer. The greenie whom hit him was a whopper of a fella with two heads, Roland putting him down with a head shot as he was readying to club him again, he now having to deal with the gang finally upon him, more club hits to contend with. Roland is able to send a few back, and hopes he’s able to get the buffer of the wagon so he could finish them off, he wanting to believe ka wouldn’t have his search end so early before locating the Dark Tower. Roland gets whacked hard enough to hit the wagon, he still working on escape, now aware of more greenies coming, perhaps thirty strong. As he’s losing consciousness, he still plans to shoot, but the gun is knocked away from him, he being consumed by darkness as the previously mentioned sounds, plus the dog’s barks, lull him into unconsciousness.

When Roland ascends to wakefulness, which he hadn’t experienced before, he believes he was no longer living, but as his sight came back slowly, he no longer thought he was dead, the singing he heard changing his mind, similar buzzing bugs being heard, he opening his eyes again and being tested whether he was actually living, noting he was hovering in a white, majestic place, thinking he was inside a cloud at first, hearing the buzzing and bells. Then, upon an attempt to turn, he felt straps holding him in place, feeling a hurt sensation climb up his back, another more terrible one in one of his legs. He realizes these pains came from the club with the nails in it, his head feeling terrible, as well. When he tries to call out, he’s having trouble convincing himself he was hearing his own voice, which sounded crow-like. He believed he imagined hearing the dog bark again, and then felt a hand on his face, comforting him at first, before thinking it could be a greenie, but then she spoke, attempting to keep him quiet so he could rest longer, he thinking of how he must be hanging above a bed, too wounded to be lain prostrate.

Roland, soon after this thought, falls into unconsciousness, only this time not as deeply as before. Some time later, he hears the girl angrily protesting to someone seeming to want to acquire something he had. When he awakes again, the “white beauty” place still charmed him, he recognizing it was a long, high, narrow space, he estimating it was about two hundred yards in length, he feeling it was a bit like being inside a large tent, silk above him giving the impression of being inside a cloud, from each section of silk having a rope with little bells attached, wind making them sound pleasantly. Roland saw two rows of forty beds, and two more were in use next to him, one Roland was suspicious in believing was truly the boy in the trough, now alive and sleeping, the necklace Roland had taken from him, on the neck of this one, supporting his disbelieved notion. The other man he saw was further away from the two, and much older, hanging above his bed, and Roland thinking his eyes were tricking him when he viewed the unconscious man’s multiple fractured legs in motion, dark impressions surrounding them, as well as one on his cheek; his back feeling the same, he attempting to ignore his curiosity to learn why. He then notices a cotton cloth on his chest, he recognizing he was wearing the same gown as the old man, and when grabbing and inspecting a chain he wore, realized he had the dead boy’s chain still. When he took a last look at the old man, the black line on the man’s cheek was gone, a wound still healing there, Roland confused by this, but able to fall asleep with the bells chiming and the bugs buzzing.

Roland next wakes and believes he must be having a night terror, seeing the first witch he’d ever met as more than a single woman, but five, and they were dressed in uniform, their faces heavily lined, small bells on the silk upon their heads. When Roland saw the sign of the Dark Tower on the front of their habits, he realized he was actually awake, then they noticing he is conscious, and when they approach, the age of their faces become a bit younger. When he inquires who they are, the one whom had spoken to him first introduces them as the Little Sisters of Eluria, and she was called Sister Mary, she revealing the others as Sister Louise, Sister Michela, and Sister Coquina, the final one sharing her name was Sister Tamra, her face changing quickly into quite an old crone’s, the group moving closer to him, and he bringing pain when cringing away, they curious by his pain, and as Michela readies to touch him, Mary warns of not doing so, Roland thinking it had to do with the medallion which had fallen out. A sixth, Jenna also bids them to go away, the Sisters teasing her of having fallen for him, she ignoring them and insisting they move along so Roland could rest, Jenna easing her tone with Mary’s sober reply of they not ever kidding around, after stating this, she deciding they’d visit the other needy souls.

Jenna attempts to soothe him with the fact of they not wanting to hurt him, but Roland knows this wasn’t the case. He then asks whether they followed Jesus, she amusedly denying this, which prompts him to inquire where the doctors were, Jenna debating sharing and finally warning him not to yell in panic with the boy right next to him, to which he agrees. So, she moves to where the old man hung, Jenna ringing the bells on her head as she leaned over him, the bugs he heard buzzing, going down his legs, Roland realizing this was what he was feeling on his back, securing his wounds. Roland definitely felt the urge to shriek as the bugs jumped off the man on to the floor. When Jenna rejoins him, she informs him how he was discovered, he grateful to her and sharing his name as requested, he sensing she wasn’t being truthful when she shares of not knowing where his weapons were, but didn’t hold this against her, believing she could be declaring this dishonesty for being scared. When she’s called by Sister Mary, she has him promise not to make known she’d shown him the doctors, and before going, has him stick to the story of he being James, the young man next to him his brother, otherwise she’d be in great danger. Roland considers the reason Jenna had moved the medallion to encircle his neck, thinking the Little Sisters may murder Jenna if they learned of this, Roland then drifting to sleep.

Roland is sleepily imagining a bug which could be one of the doctors, irritatingly bumping his face and chuckling whilst he uncoordinatedly attempted to swat it away. When the nightmare turns to a large greenie sneaking up on him, he jolts to consciousness to see Coquina had been happily tapping his face with a wooden spoon, and made her drop the bowl she had been holding with his sudden movement. Roland snatches the bowl before it drops out of reach, which impresses Coquina, he then gesturing for the spoon which she gives him, but he soon realizes isn’t necessary, drinking from the bowl directly, whilst warning Coquina to remember his agility. The two then get into discussing the pull each had on the other: if Roland mentioned Coquina’s teasing to Mary, and she making Jenna’s life difficult if he did. The two agree to stay silent about their exchange, Coquina confiding Jenna was currently on a ‘time out’, she then inquiring if he knew the no-longer-sleeping boy, he watching them, Roland not missing a beat to claim him as his brother, the boy supplying his own name to Coquina and Tamra, whom walked up, John also referring to Roland as Jimmy.

After the two Sisters leave, they speak of James’ fate, Jenna’s uniqueness, the non-mortal state of the nurses, and how John had gotten there, he deducing why James hadn’t been saved. As they spoke, Roland isn’t aware the soup he’d drank had been spiked, he becoming tired, John describing how many beds had been occupied before he’d gotten there, and how they didn’t return when healed, and as Roland became more deeply affected by the drug, John confesses what had happened to Roland to make him feel sluggish, the boy also questioning Roland’s thoughts on his presence when he was pretty much healed now, and his belief neither of them would see daylight again. When Roland wakes up in the night to laughter, he struggles to turn his head to see all of the Sisters except Jenna surrounding the old man, Mary speaking words he didn’t understand. When the room is thrown into pitch black, Roland hears the sounds of slurping, and when they’re done, he moves his head the other way. As they get closer to him and speak of their wanting to kiss him, but the medallion keeping them away, this doesn’t stop one of them from grabbing his boner until he quickly finds release, he seeing two faces bewhiskered with blood, and Roland’s assurance of not ever sleeping again. (Liar.)

When next Roland woke, it is brightly day, John asleep, and the old man removed, Sister Mary soon arrives with Louise, she speaking of not being grateful to him and revealing his ways had brought about Jenna’s revolt, she demanding he show his hand, the bowl of soup they’d brought with them making his stomach growl, Mary annoyed with how well he stuck to his story of being Jim, even after threatening Jenna, Roland stating of ending her if Jenna was harmed. Then, after refusing the soup unless given to him by Jenna, Mary informs whilst she had been released from time-out, she was bound to extra meditation, Roland having no choice, but to acquiesce, Mary’s threat of whipping Jenna keeping him trapped. When he sleeps once more, he believes he’s visited by Jenna, whom advises him to check beneath his pillow later, and when he’s finally able to, sees six stems of reed heads with instructions, and once finishing reading, realizes the importance of following the words carefully. The last time Roland speaks with John, they regret the circumstances they’d met, John unable to move well, and next heard from him, being a shriek. Michela comes with his soup next, along with bread, her words of his leaving soon giving him the impression of this being otherwise, what with her wolfish looks of hunger.

Roland eats another reed upon waking after his dose of soup, believing he’d overdone it with feeling ill, and having to stay still as all the Sisters, except Jenna had another person with them to obtain his and John’s necklaces. When Roland sees Mary with one of his guns, he vows she’ll regret having been so bold. The Sisters bribed Bowler Hat to relieve the two of their protection, he giving the impression he was about to obey their orders with John first, but then taunting them with leaving it on, he knowing their threats didn’t hold much water, other than the firearm, which after another threat from Mary, gives him pause. When he does finally go through with his task, he does a bit extra by killing John quickly after. The Sisters properly preoccupied, Bowler Hat escapes, the Sisters feeding, and when they’d gone, Roland taken over by the soup drug again, a nightmare hitting for the first time since his arrival, it foreboding the spread of the Sisters to surrounding towns, Bowler Hat’s presence in his dream waking him, he seeing John’s bed now empty, Roland being the last man swinging. He had some of the reed before Mary came with porridge, her youthful image strong due to her feast. Roland mentions his idea they’d been drugging him, but Mary denies this gleefully, she then turning to his lie about John being his brother when he asks after him, he then attempting to bribe the truth he kept by seeing Jenna, Mary angered and threatening his willingness to confess would come regardless.

 It ended up being quite a drawn out day, he fitfully napping and maintaining optimism of being able to survive this due to Jenna’s aid. He then bides his time with reminiscences of the past, he periodically chewing some reed, and noting they seemed to be overpowering the Sisters’ drug, and when evening came, Sister Tamra delivers his supper of soup, as well as a desert lily from Jenna, which Tamra asks of the topic being promised to Roland, he making up she’d told him they’d speak again, Tamra getting a kick out of this and sharing how Mary had chosen to deny this possibility already, she then asking why he didn’t take his necklace off, pointing out how John had, and when her words to convince him to do the same fail, she leaves, indifferent. Roland then plans on getting both necklaces to the Norman brothers’ family, as he chews another reed and feels actual endurance in him, he then drowsing easily, he awaking at true nightfall, and hearing the loud bugs, he chewing a reed. He hears a voice which turns out to be Coquina, she revealing herself, then Jenna walks toward them to confess she’d supplied the reeds to Roland, he thrusting the medallion toward Coquina to keep her away from him, Jenna having brought Roland’s firearms as he thought she would, but he still caught in the slings after attempting to break loose.

Jenna then uses the bells around her head to call the bugs, they swarming, and Jenna getting Roland loose, the two walking out of the tent, which is when Roland realizes he’d forgotten John’s necklace with regret, but Jenna revealing she’d picked it up, requesting he take it quickly because it was burning her. Then, three of the four Sisters approach, teasing Jenna as they get closer, she responding by speaking of leaving with Roland, the three surprised into silence, they warning her of what would occur if she tried, but Jenna stating how none of them truly knew whether there were consequences, she then threatening the bugs on them if they didn’t let she and Roland pass, but they standing aside willingly, Jenna leading Roland up a road, away from Eluria, not liking how Mary hadn’t shown herself, yet. They discuss how they were both in agreement in keeping each other company when Mary interrupts, she looking properly death-like. Jenna attempting and failing to summon the bugs, and Mary coming closer, Roland deciding he’d try choking her out, her flesh disgusting to the touch, and she thrusting him away with her power. Jenna then tries her bells again, this time getting a dog to answer the call, it going after Mary with gusto, as Roland pulls Jenna along.

When they stop to catch their breath, Roland considers why the dog had been immune to the Sisters’ powers when Jenna senses he must know something about it, which he responds by relating his theory, and then suggests they cover some ground before daylight. They cover a few miles, but not too many because of Roland still flushing out the Sisters’ drug, they locating a decent spot to spend the day, the two sharing a kiss before he passes out, dreaming of the dog discovering the Dark Tower, he then hearing bells and a scream which doesn’t fade with his dream, he waking to see he was alone, detecting Jenna’s clothes and then hearing the bugs, he ringing the dropped bells and the bugs making a sign which seemed to confirm his thoughts, Roland then tracking Walter once more, he troubled with the imagined ringing bells as he traveled on by himself. I liked this story, but I’m also annoyed I won’t be getting my hands on the comics any time soon, alas. At least I’ll be on to the next soon enough though, which isn’t actually soon enough.

Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp

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The first inside page shows the students who have checked out the book from the library including Oliver Wood, Fred Weasley, Hermione, and lastly, Harry, as well as the nameless threat which would befall anyone whom damaged the book by the librarian. Praise for the book, among them Lockhart, and Whisp relating in his own words, of being a fanatic of Quidditch, having written three other Quidditch-related books, in his spare time and when not at home, following the Wigtown Wanderers. Dumbledore again providing a Foreword which relates how popular the book is at the library, then speaking of Comic Relief and the equivalence between pounds and Galleons (the exchange rate must being shit for having not changed from Fantastic Beasts, but in dollars being a difference of 100 million and Galleons still only being 34 million; weird. Another odd thing is Dumbledore is aware of Rowling, hwhaaat?…). Dumbledore continues by relating the librarian’s reaction to giving up one of her books and how to treat the text with care, jinxes a possibility to deal with if one doesn’t.

The first chapter deals with the process of coming to decide to fly upon a broomstick, Animagi having to deal with the animal’s instincts, whilst levitation not being satisfying enough. The question of why settling on broomsticks is pondered over and answered, being due to a broom an easily explained item to Muggles, but the bewitching of one wasn’t as cut and dry. Whilst the practice had been around for awhile, the comfort of the rider suffered at first, due to brooms being homemade and the spells simplified. Then, when broom-makers were utilized for services, riding became more than only transportation.

Broom sports were developed quickly upon the upgrade of brooms, some of the games no longer played or changed to those currently known; One from Sweden being the annual broom race, Shuntbumps, a sort of jousting game still popular among children, and Swivenhodge a tennis game, not particularly popular but still played in England. The last not technically mentioned originating from Queerditch Marsh and has snowballed in fanboys of the sport. First knowledge of Quidditch was gained from a witch’s journal referencing the sport in the 11th century, she disturbed whilst it was played on the other side of the marsh, annoying her, but watching them after awhile, all whilst ragging on them. Whisp considers some of the players mentioned, possibly a Scot implementing an idea from his own people’s sport. Talk died until one hundred years later by a wizard from Britain whom wrote to his cousin in Norway about his team winning. Whisp then mentions the Golden Snitch not getting added until the 13th century in an odd way.

Background of the Golden Snidgets origins are given, it currently a protected bird. Wizards used to catch them in varying ways, but commonly the Snidget would be squashed by hand, the sport not being looked down on until the middle of the next century: 1300s. Then the first game with Snidget is relayed by a witch writing to her sister, she having fouled the game up by releasing the Snidget away from the field, and being fined by the Minister of Magic at the time, but other birds were caught and killed in future games. A wizard then invents the Golden Snitch as Quidditch teams searched for a suitable flying replacement, the sport complete.

In the 1300s a wizard fully describes Quidditch as well as the best hours and locations to play. The areas chosen becoming such an issue, laws were passed to dissuade games being near towns or Muggles. Instances of breaking up teams for not going along with the rules are also detailed. The issue has since been handled due to designated stadiums now being used for tourneys.

The differences in Quidditch since the 14th century starts with the pitch, it first being oval, five hundred feet across, one hundred and eighty in width, and a two foot circle in the center. The referee sets up the balls in the center with the teams standing around him until the Quaffle is released, goal posts being baskets, but changing in 1883 to the current goal posts. The change was handled poorly by fans, but the Department of Magical Games and Sports saw the practice of basket sizes varying unfair to the players. Next, the Quaffle is shown to have been used since the beginning, but is now charmed for easier catching, as for the Bludgers having used to be rocks, some teams used metal balls. A story is then related of a Golden Snitch having invaded capture so long, the teams gave up, the Snitch still at large, and the story being unconfirmed. The role of the Keeper also had changed, they acting like the Chasers, as well as having their goalie duties. The Beaters role remained unchanged whilst the Chasers now had a new rule to follow so as to discourage bullying the Keeper, the reaction of fans being similar as before. The Seeker’s position, whilst sought after, is also marked for being the most injury-filled, their talent also leaving them as targets. Rules of the game are listed, as well as seven hundred fouls, all of which had been called at the first World Cup in 1473. Referees are lastly listed where it describes how dangerous the position was until security got tighter on broom tampering, it also mentioning the extensive training to be passed only by the Department of Magical Games and Sports.

Next is a list of teams including Britain and Ireland, which before showing, is told of a certain amount of games being allowed by professionals to participate in, and rules for amateurs to obey. Back in the late 1600s, if a team wasn’t invited to join the League, they were requested to break up. The thirteen teams deemed the most talented compete every year for the League Cup. The list is shown alphabetically as follows: Appleby Arrows, Ballycastle Bats being the second team to most having won the Cup, Carephilly Catapults, Chudley Cannons being underdogs for quite awhile now, Falmouth Falcons, Holyhead Harpies being one of the oldest teams playing, Kenmare Kestrels, Montrose Magpies being the record holders for wins, Pride of Portree (the Prides), Puddlemere United being the oldest team founded, which was 1163, Tutshill Tornados holding the most wins back to back, it being five, as well as their Seeker’s record of fastest Snitch catching at three and a half seconds, Wigtown Wanderers, and Wimbourne Wasps, concluding.

It’s told how Ireland seemed to have excelled and played the game the longest, 1385 having been the year where written confirmation of a game having been played is shared. By the 15th century, Norway, then France learned of the game, and then in 1473 the first World Cup is played, the reasons other nations not joining speculated upon. It was also shown to have the most violent game witnessed between Transylvania and Flanders. From the first World cup, they continued every four years, in the 17th century, other nations began joining and then in 1652 the European Cup was initialized and games were held every three years. Then, the most favored European teams are mentioned. New Zealand first witnesses Quidditch in the 17th century when European herbologists were seen playing the game, whilst Australia catches on a century later, but became masters of the sport in their own right. Africa also became talented contenders, not only in the All-Africa Cup, but the Quidditch World Cup, as well.

North America knew Quidditch in the 17th century, but due to the high-profile knowledge wizards were dealing with due to Muggles at the time, the blossoming of the game was quashed at first. Canada later on became quite a spectacle in regards to a couple of their home teams. The U.S., meanwhile had a game called Quodpot which was founded in the 18th century and distracted focus from churning out some decent Quidditch teams. Quod fails to be as entertaining as Quidditch, though despite having gotten minor popularity in Europe, as well. The U.S. caught up eventually, two teams having been internationally ranked: one from Massachusetts, and the other from Texas. South America also became Quodpot lovers more than Quidditch, but Peru became experts in Quidditch, recently. Asia is the least interested in Quidditch, what with flying carpets taking precedent, some popularity only popping up on the streets. Japan though, has shown increased interest in the last century and even began participating in the World Cup.

To make broom riding easier, a Cushioning Charm was developed in 1820, the next issue being the hand-made brooms, most of which were nicely designed, but didn’t have the agility desired. Twenty two years after the first broom to gain popularity was made, the second was produced, but like the first, only one person had been making them, and so wasn’t easily accessible, until twenty five years after, a trio of brothers mass producing their style of broom which blew up among Quidditch players, everyone riding one. Then only three years later, the competition stepped up, improving the braking capabilities. By 1940, more companies joined the ranks of better quality brooms, and in 1967 the Nimbus company was born, breaking all barriers for being the best.

The last chapter contains certain moves invented by players, like the Sloth Grip Roll, where one dangles upside down off their broom to avoid a Bludger. The book ends with the fantasy of the first witch to have seen Quidditch, would’ve been impressed with the developed game and would enjoy watching the most recent developments of the game, as well as the hope of continuing to better the game through the years so future wizards and witches can be entertained.

Not a bad side-story, but Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander was better. The book is so easily read though, it doesn’t affect being able to move forward to the rest of the series upon finishing. To the next!

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

 

Image result for how to live safely in a science fictional universe book cover

So, I was discouraged by reviews and then re-encouraged to finish this story and since this will be my second start in summarizing, I’m going to try a more accessible reading by leaving out the useless technical bits, which seem to bog down the tale. Charles Yu, the author, first shows how using the time box works, he also supplies a “T” graph on Tensed/Tenseless Theory of Time, the two describing different scenes, one including his mother and the other, his father, whilst in interstitial space, questions on both sides are asked about his father, presumably. Then Charles the character confesses to shooting his future self to end the future to come. The first part is a Module “fish” sign.

Charles relays the time box having enough room for one person to live comfortably for as long as needed, he doing so whilst waiting for his ever dwindling jobs from Dispatch, spending his time in Present-Indefinite, he soon seeing his face changing in the mirror into his father’s, he feeling like how his father looked during certain times after coming back from work, dozing over his soup at dinner. After sharing of not leaving his little box often, he introduces his unreal dog, Ed, having saved him from a black hole, the dog leaving a smell in the enclosed space (somehow) and was most likely illegal to keep cooped in there (for some reason, this dog not seeming to have a physical form), but leaves the topic there. Charles has a degree in applied science fiction and was now a mechanic as an independent contractor for Time Warner Time, he taking the position when something happened to his mother, straining the relationship (a guess), and may have done with his father’s disappearance (another guess).

Whilst Charles had goals to follow in his father’s footsteps as an engineer, his split decision to accept this job left him feeling like it was ‘chill’ enough until he started sensing his “Tense Operator” may be malfunctioning. Charles is unsure of when this could’ve happened, since the operator can mess with his sense of time and how it had broken in the first place, making him question his idea of being able to drift for an extensive period. The next part sounds like a nod to the Catholic faith. A red light turns on and Charles reviews an error report, giving his impression of what the machine would be saying as a human, stating of his incapacity of performing his duties properly within the ship, Charles mentioning of not requiring “silicon wafers” to get the idea (Catholic, no?). Then he gives a vague idea of his plumpness versus height and his male reasoning behind choosing TAMMY over TIM as the computer’s personality, he also sharing TAMMY’s attributes and how close he was close to buffing himself over the view, “embarrassment” no longer an issue (obviously), the O.S. apologetic and seeing the worst case scenario (Marvin-style). Charles admits to being lonely and then reveals how he’d not gotten married and her name being Marie, she like Ed, in the not-real department, which Charles was being ‘cute’ about since every woman was the woman he didn’t marry (har-har).

Then he shares a story of how they didn’t meet in Spring in a park whilst she read a book and ate, he not seeing her and making her laugh when he trips over himself, the two not marrying a year later (Yeah, okay). Charles is wakened by TAMMY for her loud crying, he normally the sympathetic sort, but usually becoming angry when someone cried, it heightening his stress of not knowing how to deal, which gave way to guilt (which he should be, since he doesn’t have to feel anything when someone is in pain and cries, for the most part, it’s about ‘being there’; a doofus). Charles then questions whether the tense operator could screw with one’s ability to convey thoughts which matter (or perhaps he doesn’t know how to properly put down his thoughts; What a great writing tool though, he doesn’t even have to own up to saying what he means and have it make sense. Goldstar, sir). So he decides to attempt comforting TAMMY with the age old ‘everything will be alright’, she then stating of how everything being fine the reason she was upset, this making it so they didn’t have to be truthful with their actual emotions, doing nothing, and knowing the end of the universe approached, which would make everything no longer be fine.

Charles then contemplates how he’d send a report to Microsoft explaining TAMMY’s suicide if she ever grew tired of her operational existence (yeah…). Charles goes on to state the obvious of he not having “many” buddies, TAMMY a good one though, due to hella smarts (I should hope an O.S. would…), and not repeating information, Ed there for comfort and body heat (I must not understand what ontological means, and the definition doesn’t help. I thought this ‘dog’ was like a hologram with a computer brain or something. Hm!). He claims not minding being on his own, but for the two techno-buds, he listing how other mechanics spent their time pursuing other hobbies or using the machine as a getaway, but he enjoying the job for the silence.

A complete turnaround occurs when stating the lonesomeness of the place, again, so also filling his time by opening mini-wormholes to snoop at his other selves, he not liking them particularly (I can imagine), which he deduces to mean it made it likely he wasn’t the cream of the crop (at least he’s self-aware). To top it off, he talks himself down more by admitting to not having talent for anything and not good at being himself (well, it’s interesting when it feels like he’s fishing for compliments in a forum where one can’t speak back immediately). Minor Universe 31 is a minimally impaired space the developer had given up on, which made walking through an unforeseeable experience difficult, but manageable, and whilst the machinery left was top-notch, the humans living there seemed to lack a bit.

Charles then receives a call from a client, Skywalker, but he let down when seeing it was Luke’s son, Linus (I think the presentation of attempting to be humorous is what’s killing the likability of this story. Dude has to stop trying, although, it is said it can’t be learned; Hope he learns he can’t learn…), Charles relaying of traveling about twenty years into the past to an ice planet, and as he’s trekking up a hill, notices a fire having caught on Linus’ box, Charles knocking and not ready to see Linus is a young boy and had tried to change the past which crashed the machine, he attempting to give Linus a pep talk which doesn’t do much (surprisingly). He then explains how most of the time he has to tell customers they didn’t break the machine, but they also not able to change the past even if they wanted, the universe not allowing it, and humans incapable of doing so. An explanation of time and how people barely make a blip on it follows, Charles aware people ignore his diatribe, but didn’t mind since he had his ‘9-5’ and every night was the same for discovering his Present-Indefinite spot was reliable for quiet time.

Charles then shares his first memory of his father reading to him before bed, he describing the fuzzy memory of sight and sound including nightshade, leaning on his father, and remembering his voice. He goes back to the subject of why people rent time machines and learn the impossibility of making their pasts different, to areas they accidentally or otherwise shouldn’t have returned, and getting in trouble in some way, Charles going after them, like AAA to lead them out, his job being safe from redundancy due to people attempting to tweak their pasts on a regular basis. Charles then relates how his father had been one of the first who had determined the math to make a time machine, feeling like he’d wasted time whilst hoping to find a means of getting more. Charles is unwilling to calculate how long it had been since he’d seen his father, the man possibly still contemplating how to get more time. Charles makes the excuse of why he’d rather shelter himself from realizing the time lost to bond and his mother fine with reminiscences, he having searched for his father for some time and followed his timeline to have him return, but he also puzzled as to why his father wanted to separate his past from theirs, and what it could signify for the three of them, when they rejoined their timelines.

Charles continues to ponder on whether his father was by himself, more content where he was, and whether he and his mother were on his mind. The first piece of advice he shares, which he learned from his job, was to retreat quickly if noticing oneself exiting from a time machine, this being so important it’s gone over on the first day of training. The second lesson learned is if one stays within the box and ignores the outside, one can make it through half a lifetime without growth in self-awareness. He goes on to share of his mother currently residing in a “sci-fi version of assisted living”, where she lives the same hour repeatedly for however long she chose, which included ten more years for having used the rest of her money to fund the allusion.

Charles has the ability to interrupt whenever he wished to visit, but doesn’t. He then thinks of how he currently lived in a box and how he and his father had worked in the garage, he feeling like his childhood was a concession of boxes (Little Boxes, much?). Charles works with his father on writing upon and drawing boxes then reasons why chronological living was a bit untruthful, it not having ever worked for him, he not seeing the value due to those who do, it having people normally thinking of the past. Universe 31 is then told of being sort of small, but those living there having varying opinions on how small it felt, since it had wavering consistency of “conceptual density”.

Universe 31 has the potential of giving one the sensation of the night closing in, everyone living there unable to sleep for the lights or sounds, but sometimes the night quite black and silent, no one sleeping for feeling isolated even if they physically aren’t. Charles then likens the size of his time box to being a bit larger than a phone booth (Thanks Doctor, for keeping the image relevant), but it still feeling only big enough to fit his body and can get the idea of losing himself within, becoming a part of the machine. He continues to compare the size to other similarly shaped household areas, then mentions how the box has the option of invisibility, as an add-on accessory; afterwards, continuing to talk of how comfortable it was sleeping in, since a certain angle allowed full horizontal lying down, and having all tools necessary to work and live without want.

Exercise was pretty much nonexistent though (I have to wonder if a quantum screwdriver is anything like a sonic), he concluding with the most obnoxious use of a side-note any narrator (I’ve read) has attempted, which is all about he idea of a photon stretched across space-time and the correlation to himself (okay, who the fuck sticks an asterisk mid-sentence at various intervals throughout a paragraph disturbing the flow of reading? Charles Fucking Yu, ha! In a sense, working on two levels, the bastard). Charles then describes the under 20% of reality surface area and volume in Universe 31 and how SF surrounds it, also how the researchers are testing if SF has an imperceptible amount separating reality from something else which isn’t made clear (“strangeness of experience”, perhaps?).

Charles then relates how as children one needed to “call dibs” during play as soon as possibly, or one wouldn’t get the character desired. Charles relates a story where one boy chooses a character easily mocked, the boy so traumatized, he doesn’t join them ever again. He couldn’t figure out why Han Solo was so sought after, guessing it was due to not having royalty in his blood and second nature to the Force. His popularity due to being “basically, a hero because he was funny” (Yeah?), second best was Chewie for his height and hair (he sure does know how to simplify). Charles then puts the eye on himself and shares how it isn’t a possibility of having a mind to become a time machine mechanic (almost doubtful if it were an option) or wanting to repair mechanical-related gadgets, etc. Charles gives information about his cousin working on the Death Star and wanted Charles to apply, at least for the decent cafeteria, also considering a government position involving unexciting aliens, but won’t change anything for lack of motivation, the idea of “day job” now being permanent. He makes himself feel better with the fact of a required weapon available for him in the case of a customer possibly hurting themselves or affecting the space-time illegally.

Then details of Universe 31 residents living as two categories: protagonists, which have a choice of genre, steam punk mentioned having an opening, and back office which gets more choices in retcon, accounting, human resources, time machine repair, or janitorial. To become a protagonist, the attachment coefficient must be a certain level, a hero even higher. The list determining this are: belief, strength of belief, humbleness, okay with looking foolish, accepting being broken-hearted, can believe U31 isn’t dull, and worth helping its survival. Those which have “a negative attachment coefficient” meanwhile, are put on probation until decision is made on whether they will be allowed to continue living among the norms on U31.

Chronodiegetics is then defined confusingly about mainly involving meta and physical dimension of time given a limited spatial history. He goes on by giving an example: a falling man, experiencing “past tense/memory equivalence”, which is further explained by a character or Narrator not being aware of what tense he’s in. Charles then goes to a memory of how his house sounded like the ticking clock in the kitchen on certain afternoons on Sunday. The three maintaining the silence and unable to break it as they each moved from a different room, everyone separate.

Charles worried about whether he was one of his father’s disappointments, being intimidated by his intellect and title as a respectable scientist, he noticing his father’s growing frustrations with his desk job, feeling apart from his wife, the two sleeping in their own rooms, Charles focusing on his father’s Rolodex of people he knew, he regarding the information important, but when he got older, realizing how minimal the amount was. He then also regarding his father’s bookshelf seeming daunting, but now seeing the titles all having a connection. His father would sometimes distract himself from waiting for calls he expected by working in the garage, he consistently getting enjoyment from explaining how to solve problems and giving each step to Charles, the two ending their day by watching TV, Charles wishing he’d asked him where he could find him if he got lost, and everything else left unquestioned.

Charles’ manager is a program called Phil which had minor passive-aggressiveness, which he was glad somebody had allowed him to get. One issue though: Phil thought he was alive, their conversations sounding like the usual guy-talk, with Phil sounding like a wannabe gangster. His wife-program didn’t confess to Phil of their computerness and Charles didn’t want to, either. He learns Phil was checking in because his time machine was due for maintenance, he playing it down like everything was running smoothly so Phil could give the okay, but instead Phil mentions how Charles had been out there for awhile and was uncertain he should stay out. Charles thinks of how he’d messed with the Tense Operator for ten years and had to uncover a way of fixing it if he wanted to keep his job secure. Charles agrees to the maintenance check before Phil crashes.

A call from a customer has Charles in Oakland Chinatown a third quarter into the 20th century, he noting a pot of stew boiling, and then conveying to a young woman of this situation where she was with her grandmother when she passed didn’t happen and they needed to leave before the rift became more of an issue. She eventually understands and whilst he repaired the damage she’d done to her time machine, she expresses her guilt in not coming home when she should have, after finishing the issue, giving her a moment to mourn.

Then Charles mentions the usual destination of females who get a hold of a time machine being to go to their worst moment ever lived, Other “people” only wish to change their lives until it’s something unlike their own, men sometimes becoming their own uncles, one guy becoming his own sister. Most people being normal with their time machines though, and Charles learning quite a bit about people’s most private moments in their lives. Nostalgia is then described being a noticeable exchange between two universes which aren’t casually affiliated and shows in humans as missing a place one hasn’t been to before or wanting to be near other kinds of one’s self one mustn’t be introduced.

Charles recalls when he and his father were still working out the details of the time machine, he sensing his father knew he’d lose his way and explore the origins of his and his ancestors depressions. How Charles had wanted to rid his father of the constant reminder of not moving up in his job by ridding him of the company gift of a letter opener in a hurtfully specific wording of the container it came in also leading to him doing nothing about it in the end. He then relates how he enjoyed watching his father write out graphs and equations, specifically detailing examples of this. Charles shares of he almost hitting the ten year mark in his time machine, making him about thirty-one and (possibly) had a sexual encounter with a humanoid, he hopeful he’d been making out with her. He also no longer interested in the dollar-a-ride sexbots. He continues on about time-melting qualities of being in the time machine, it not being comfortable or otherwise (apparently believing originality stems from double negatives), giving a few more descriptions of the same concept. He thinks of where his father is and how he didn’t miss him as much as he had, time making one continue forward.

Charles admits how maintenance was definitely needed since noting the Tense Operator now essentially being out of service. TAMMY didn’t believe the time machine had enough juice to get back to HQ, Charles realizing how he’d been working the system too roughly, staying in Present-Indefinite too long. P-I is a half-assed way to live, he admits to being a selfish employee and son, but convincing TAMMY she could return them, and she succeeding. He enters HQ, which was sort of New York, seeing a man with a different career path reminding Charles of himself, but the man still dissatisfied with his life, he noting how he could see what the man’s whole life was as a whole, from the outside (which is how I interpret his view of it as a “flipbook”). The capital city is listed as New Angeles/Lost Tokyo-2, but referred to by many other names, most commonly, Loop City. The occurrence of this is related by the convergence of NY/LA, Tokyo then splitting in half soon after to wrap itself around the mess, the other half of it missing, and middle America being absorbed.

Charles gets stuck in traffic before he’s able to reenter time, once able though, Ed and he step into the hangar, a repair bot with mechanic guy personality giving Charles a perceived look after a general inspection of the time machine, but then he admits to being sensitive about the wear on his machine since the chronodiegetic manifold is essentially a diary of someones disquiet and habits. The bot then specifies when to return the next day and Charles takes the subway and is shocked with the dealing of chronological living, until noticing Ed looking chilled, which makes Charles purchase them some food and hot drink, then moving on to see a rerun of the Big Bang. They see a few other sights before going to Charles’ room, he again repeating how much more human he’d be if he could be half the man Ed was.

Then the subject turns to when the owner of Universe 31 let go of the goals for the universe, it stagnating until a new operator stepped in. Eventually when Time Warner Time got a hold of the rights of the place, it built a shopping center and theme park with gift shop in it. The universe became popular as a storage space for failing stock and other simple planets, space-related parts, and “genre system production facilities”. There were some operators using U-31 for “hypothetical mining”, as well, this being the perfect place to experiment with stories and thoughts for projects.

Charles relays a memory of his ten-year-old self of his father driving them home after visiting the park. Their car feels like a boat because of the rocking, and Charles is working on an orange popsicle. He then confesses to knowing and not knowing the coming events. He relates to his father of the kids at his school saying his father was insane. Charles not having wanted to say this to him and wishing he hadn’t done so, but he going on, even knowing he could have touched a subject which may piss him off, and doing so for feeling like he’d gotten his father’s attention like a real person, more than a child or son.

Charles then inquires into whether his father actually believed time travel was realistic, certain his father would be angered by this, but instead he laughs it off and explains how being in the car and moving in it was time traveling and when he parks, Charles wrongly believes he’s about to get a lecture, and instead is confided in with an invention his father was planning. This was the first time Charles was let into his father’s secret aspiration. Charles relates where his father came from was a place where farming utilizing water buffalo and belief in stories were the same as life, seeing the beauty of nature and family psychology.

As Charles’ father’s voice became loud for passion of his idea, Charles was unable to look at him for he being loud was uncommon and shocking, usually soft-spoken since he’d emigrated, and so this different side of him made Charles question the success of his plan, thinking about the movies which made it possible for the protagonist to bend time at his will, then remembering seeing what looked like a genuine ad in a comic book for a “Chrono-Adventurer Survival Kit”, Charles knowing it couldn’t be real, but questioning what the kit could include besides the four pieces shown. This thought was what Charles focused on when his father shared his dream with him and then barely acknowledging his confession, instead asking about whether they were poor, not getting an answer, and his father continuing their drive.

Charles thinks perhaps their environment spurred his father on to follow his passion since not being quite understood by anyone and his agitated feelings due to it, at the same time, it causing a truthful exchange between them. Minor U-31 has three areas also known as neighborhoods, there’s the spots with no genre, which is labeled as “reality”. Upper-class areas stylized their own versions of lack of genre realities with personal satisfaction. The most unfluctuating area is the middle-class areas: science fiction divided sections, and whilst it was legalized for families to come from reality-based areas to a sci-fi zone, the possibility of it being economically sound, wasn’t guaranteed. Most people discovered how difficult it was to become truly accepted. The area wasn’t as comforting and seemed truly balanced in the middle of not getting enough reality or genre.

Charles relates how after ten years of being on the job has affected his mind since it had only been a week since he’d last been to the city, in real time, he now going to where his mother lived at two-thirty in the morning and seeing her through her window. He speaks with her before her loop starts up again, and whilst she retrieves something, relates how he’d learned grammar from her, English being her third language, but how good of a grasp she had of it, and how language had concern woven through it. When his mother returns with a box, she shares how she’d noticed how many comics he had and should sell them. Charles then learns how the loop wasn’t enough for her, and she’d been living there for a year. After he leaves, he gets introspective and existential about a better universe and if the day would come he’d see it, learning he was already there all along. He then goes home to sleep, thinking of an unseen section in the universe. Then services and products the universe contained are listed: ex-girlfriend hologram, Alternate History Booth, False memories of Home, sexbots, drinking buddy bots, and levels of humanness for friendbots.

Charles then admits to what happens again, of shooting his future self. He awakes late the next morning, grabs Ed and the package his mother gave him, returning to the hangar and getting there in the nick, but seeing himself exiting from the machine, his future self having time to say something like, a book being the key, but his firing of his weapon setting off resounding alarms, Ed spooked and running off, whilst Charles attempts escape in his future self’s machine, a Partial Map of CY’s Time Loop shown and explained. CY represents the narrator and what his timeline will be up to by the point of being shot. Module B-on-a-stick then begins with advice on discovering oneself getting stuck in a time loop.

First, understanding the order of the loop, the knowledge of the one stuck inside being most likely the guilty party to have started it, if wanting to continue living in home universe, one must recreate every step to a T, so one doesn’t change the past and enter another universe. Once learning the order of the loop, uncovering the reason it began, as well as discovering as much as possible about oneself, unfortunately has statistics showing nothing usually being gained from the experience and even knowing, leaving the loop could mean death, boredom hitting making one choose to enter a different universe.

Charles attempts to estimate the injury to his leg, whilst getting a pep talk from TAMMY about the issue of his time loop, Charles not comforted much due to knowing how most time loops occurred to interesting people and didn’t begin with a stupid move like blasting oneself. As Charles pulls the time machine away, he sees Ed looking up in bewilderment. Then Phil calls, which is unusual, the speech stilted and mechanical sounding. Phil attempts to get Charles to return to Headquarters, he finally having enough of Phil’s human-like suggestions and screwing the pooch, which he feels guilty for the same way he had when he’d been with his father in his car.

Phil checks for the truth in this statement, and switches to test, stating how he better inform his wife, then realizing she must be a program, as well as their kids, Charles apologizing and asking to bury the memory to return to their old ways, Phil unable to, and asking if it was a pleasant practice, TAMMY looking on with unfavorable features. Charles is left alone, he relating how when he had the chance to be a good person to those close to him, he’d mess it up, the kindness seemingly reserved for those he didn’t know. He then debates the meaning of his future self’s actions as being he’d wanted to be finished with living, Charles wanting to return to before he’d spilled the beans to Phil and then getting shot, instead having to be content in knowing it would happen soon enough. Then he sees a book on his electronic display, it being the one the reader holds (kay…). On page 101, his future self writes of how he’ll write this book at some point (no shit) and to trust himself.

Charles describes the book’s outer attributes, he then noting the sort of book he would write seeming to be autobiography and field manual, aware he’d already written it, but needing to reach the moment of finishing it so he could give it to himself when being shot, Charles wondering the reason he should go through with this fate. Also, he thinks about why he’d want to trust himself when told, this situation being unusual, but also gone over in the course of his training. Charles then reads the message left to himself of needing to read, then write the book, his continued breathing relying on this. TAMMY then instructs him how to use TOAD to read, then record the changes to the text, he reading and copying the book so as to have his version, the list of past, present, and future tenses included, as well as it also being the book he wouldn’t ever write at the same time.

From this point of Charles’ reading, TOAD is slightly changing words, mostly after he’s read them, but occasionally beforehand. He describe’s TOAD’s method being to trace voice, finger, retinal, and facial movements, whilst it acted as keyboard, microphone, and scanned optical movement and the brain. TOAD would accommodate however Charles chose to read the text, if he became tired of one, he also able to choose more than one, or all modes at once. The copy he read was affected somehow, some of the text unreadable, some caused by light affecting it over time, others deliberate. He mentions showing a sentence which had been rubbed out, questioning whether there had even been another part of the starting line at all, also sensing parts of the book being blank (I’m looking forward to this prospect), he testing his ability to stick a random word within the reading, uncertain whether he’d succeeded.

Charles then comes to a break in text (it’s everything I’d imagined it would be), and his “explanatory note” explaining nothing, only his confusion and statements of the sentence he’s currently reading, and how this relates to Libet (1983), another blank proceeding with note. The note gives example of two possible Charles’, one whom first reaches, then thinks of reaching for a cookie of which there are two jars to choose from, another Charles deciding to first choose than act, and which one he was, or whether he was both or neither. Besides this, Charles was attempting to follow along as accurately as possible, the origins of the book being confirmed by TAMMY as being produced through the causal loop, it being an infinite copy of a copy, so as he’s reading and writing it, he’s actively filling in blanks and discovering what happens, Charles allowing himself to be repetitive by stating his awareness of it (again, how clever on letting himself off the hook), and his goal of gathering his father’s history so as to understand his life, Charles almost certain he’s making no sense. The reality of the book is then explained as to how it is given and published, this more stable a concept than memory using the same theory, explained through example of the process of the book’s loop.

Charles doesn’t get why he can’t surrender to his fate by this point, since he knew what would eventually happen, TAMMY informing him this is his first loop ride, Charles not trusting this, but also distinguishing neither of them would be able to tell how many times they’d already looped. He then wonders why he doesn’t skip ahead, TOAD and TAMMY not advising this, but Charles not listening.

Charles soon realizes his misstep with the barely noticeable quivering of the time machine. After he decreases the pressure of the opening to the machine, he views something outside which he doesn’t share, leaving the next page void of text other than stating of the page being left untyped on purpose. Charles then describes of the time machine shaking more distinctly, TAMMY stating of the untraceable route he’d set them on, which made him wonder why he’d bothered to go to the end of his story, not knowing if and how it would have made him change positively. Then he’s aware of what his actions had done with the circuits to TAMMY and TOAD, he kicking himself for not having figured it out earlier. Which is when the covering to the “decoherence module” falls off, the machine susceptible to harm, the data of all current, possible, could, should, would-have-beens, and small undetectable worlds, overloading the system, then Charles passes out.

When Charles awakes, he’s in a Buddhist temple standing in a hall, he viewing slippers near a railing where people had left their shoes to switch, he sliding a pair on his feet. As he does this, he sees some shoes which look familiar, then notes two rooms leading to themed Buddhas, Charles thinking of how the atmosphere, carpets, and slippers seemed to hug him, his usual state at a high anxiety, which upon uncovering, made the feeling dissipate. The silence of thought is temporary when he thinks about the meaning of the quiet, he then hearing a bell ring repeatedly, viewing his mother, and remembering the love/hate feeling he had of her plain requests for love, Charles giving his thoughts on why this was to do with a brother she didn’t get to meet and her mother’s death. Charles sees his mother disposing of an incense stick, he relating his philosophy on how all the previous incense sticks aided the current one’s ability to stand in the past ones ashes, they all needing the others to support it standing up, and the smoke and smell having to do with time, etc. He then refocuses on the mother he was currently looking at was a should-have-been, not a could-have, she obtaining the peace which was searched for by his real-time mother. This woman inquires if they’d met, he then hit with the realization of the shoes he’d seen were his father’s, the feeling of the room changing and making him wonder what sort of environment he was truly experiencing.

Charles then asks this woman if “he” was here, she revealing he’d left some time ago, apologizing for this not being what he actually wanted. Charles books it when she asks if he’d stay, feeling sorry for her, but thinking of his real-time mother, he attempting to open a locked door and speaking to himself, but believing at first a Buddha was talking. He then believes he’d uncovered his way out of this universe was by the book, he patting himself on the back and even thinking the situation was bad-ass in a way, then discovering his time machine hadn’t been located, he deciding he was stupid and this must be “the subjective”. After knocking a couple items over, including a dust cloud which helps him work up a panic, he attempts opening the other door and begins thinking how it wasn’t a real door, this place being made by his father, he wondering if his father had wanted to show this place to him, and after another ram to the door, falling through, it opening by itself, and he plummeting through empty space. When thinking of a question, the answer is given being about his whereabouts currently in “the interstitial matrix””…between stories…”, he learning from the second speaker, of whom was himself, and was being returned to “story space”.

Charles discovers he’s being transported on a space elevator, his request to retrieve Ed being given, the dog showing up a few moments later. He then inquires why he was now a retroactive continuity, he having gone to a place he wasn’t supposed to be, Charles not learning much more. He does see the size of U-31, it larger than he’d suspected, the border of other stories visible. Then Charles the driver, suggests he stop feeling guilty, stating the logistics of the man he’d killed wasn’t necessarily him, when only relying on the fact he looked like him, since the Charles speaking didn’t look like Narrator Charles. Charles explains he was a contradiction, he posing the idea of how he could even know he was truly himself, pressing a button which removed all other seats and making obvious the sounds of the “real world”.

The other Charles then schools him about how versions of himself would attempt to change or mess with previous selves, this Charles being the “perfect version” and Narrator Charles the single him, which he didn’t get. After Perfect Charles releases his seat and Charles is hanging onto the seat in front of him, Perfect Charles demands he state his care for TAMMY, locate his dad, eat with his mom, and marry the girl whom was made up, Marie, so he could have a life, cultivate his heart, and some balls. Then, after Perfect Charles smacks him a few on the face, he lip-locks him, states of this being for the best and pushes him out of the elevator. As Charles falls, he almost remembers a sound from his memory, but lands on his time machine before recognizing it fully, he then having an Interstellar-like moment before landing in one of his own memories.

Module Y begins with TAMMY stating of being in his youth, which makes Charles wonder the reason shuttle-Charles left him there, the view containing different ages and memories in separate ‘pockets’. Charles recognizes one more strongly than the others, TAMMY about to question his actions in the memory, but understanding the scenario mid-way through her inquiry. Young Charles had discovered his father’s naughty magazines, TAMMY declaring how she felt this revealed more of him to her, they then seeing the garage memory, and Charles believing his father and younger self were staring back at him. This thought snowballed into the hope of his father being motivated by seeing and not seeing future Charles and the time machine, he wondering if due to his younger self and his father seeming to smell the time machine, Charles had aided him in leaving his timeline, he knowing his younger self had thought the smell was connected to big moments in life or bad events about to occur. Charles thought of the hope of his father possibly able to help him escape the loop, he noticing as he moved along, certain memories were being highlighted, Charles following.

A memory is related of a summer Charles and his father had put together the first time machine prototype, this also being a time with his parents fighting about lack of money, but not because they didn’t have enough, but the tension from not having more (another contradicting statement, Charles relating they were content with their meager salaries and yet fought because of the small earnings; Sounds like they may have been frustrated due to the inability of living off their current savings and did need more), they attempting to keep this from Charles, but everyone in their family unit knowing what was going on. His mother slowly moves in with her sister, and Charles’ father intimidates him with how loudly he’d spoken to his mother during their arguments, he leaving Charles to his own devices as he worked on the time machine.

Charles stays away from his father during this time, he having supported his mother’s side, they then seeing young Charles making a snack before hearing his parents begin fighting, he having gone back to his room to complete a program which he was debating whether to have an asteroid bounce off the screen or go through to appear on another side, TAMMY commenting on his kid-cuteness level, his younger self ignoring the loud fight and acting like he was immersed in tinkering with his program, Charles recognizing how it was almost as if young Charles was acting this way because he knew he was being watched. A description of the TM-31 Recreational device then relates how whilst it was recreational, it was also re-creational.

Oddly, (as is Charles’ way) a jump to the first (presumably) time travel trip is shared, he stating how quickly it’d been, he then going back to start with fourteen days of not speaking with his father and viewing Star Trek, until he began to watch his father work, this being their schedule since he didn’t know if his father was angered by Charles siding with his mother, but by the third day, his father put him to work, they still quiet, but working together for two months. When summer concluded, the UTM-1 was finished, so they thought, TAMMY commenting on it looking nice aesthetically, but didn’t seem like it would succeed, which she was correct to gauge. Charles elaborates on how he and his father had gone through time, they having only gone through a loop they couldn’t command, and had no way to determine how much time it took, not having known time travel wasn’t an immediate experience, even in a science fictional universe, due to the contraption carrying them through time taking time because of its physicality.

Charles views he and his father’s first discovery of their movement through time, his father inquiring to younger Charles how they could learn to harness the ability to choose where to halt the machine, so they could experience subspace. Charles was seeing his father purely ecstatic for the first time, and he was glad he was there with him. Eventually, they U-turn their way back home automatically, the machine not reaching their goal, they having learned they hadn’t made a mechanism to brake the machine, and on the edge of their turnaround home, during a non-moving moment, they see themselves. The Weinberg-Takayama Radius then explains how both researchers had thought of the same idea, which was a universe having to be a specific size in order to support the building of narrational construction. The two men came from Lost Tokyo 1 & 2, respectively, and they determined if a planet was too big, it would disperse, and those which were littler, had the prospective to creating honest narrations in an emotionally stable area.

Charles’ mom returns from her sister’s as they come back, their machine not making it back in one piece, and his mother looking fearful and on the verge of hysteria due to all the upheaval the launch had caused. When she sees the two exit from the collapsing machine, she gets upset, which young Charles couldn’t understand, but Narrator Charles finally registers the possibility for her upset, sort of. TAMMY puts on her tearful mode in commiseration or as a test, Charles doesn’t know (many things, apparently), Ed tooting and making Charles dry heave, which makes TAMMY crack up.

Charles then gets phoned by Dispatch, which TAMMY suggests to let get picked up by voicemail, he thinking it was only because Phil was being insensitive to his personal time, but TAMMY explaining it was to do with their currently being in a time loop. Charles then notes the next time his father makes headway in his research being when he was sixteen, TAMMY stating the changes in his body type from then to now, he being muscular as a youth. Their prototypes continually failed, and they didn’t know why, only what (had happened, I’m guessing, since Charles Yu wrote it as I’d phrased it). Charles was ready to pack it in whilst his father continued to theorize what had gone wrong, insisting they needed more data. His mother was becoming more upset and despondent, as well, but fluctuated her emotion upon the start of a new week, Charles labeling their coexistence as a doable living situation, but was feeling constrained by it, as well, wanting to ditch his definite future.

The last year they were all together, his father didn’t sound himself, his questions seeming to have a subtle second one within, but Charles saw this as being more authentic. As he was working on a panel, his father asked if he sensed there was anything off about his equation, Charles wanting to help, but frustrated for not knowing how, and upset his father would have to ask him at all, he not being as clever as his father had wished. His father checked his equation, he saying it meant they were running into “objects”, which he believed couldn’t be right, until he had a eureka moment which made him giddy with joy, Charles finally realizing his father’s happiness stemmed from his love of science. When he’d erased his equation and put up his new theory, he explained Charles had been correct in believing they’d been moving into things, they being time machines, and how everyone and everything was a time machine. Then, a list of how to calibrate the TM-31 is shown, which basically says to put sensors on fingertips, goggles on face, and begin watching around oneself, when the machine finishes its upload, it contains the same boundaries as the wearer, the machine only able to travel where the person is willing to be taken.

When Charles is seventeen, and the next week his father turns forty-nine, the current day they’re viewing is the most happiest of his father’s life, they traveling to the good part of town, TAMMY seeing Charles tense, he explaining the importance of the day, meeting with the director of research at the Institute of Conceptual Technology, they handling problems like discovering ways to keep the science fictional world safe from paradoxes, his father dreaming of becoming one of the few who worked there. The “military-industrial-narrative-entertainment complex” having noticed his experiments and phoning to hear his theory, life having started to become better after he’d figured out the new equation (Mr. Yu apparently didn’t have an editor whom could be bothered to put quotation marks around “making it”, in order for it to make sense, which would at least be a check off for one line in this whole schlep to do so; Also, whilst looking for the culprit editor, I noticed how “cutesy” they were trying to be with the original publication date not possible to know because of “the nature of residual objects within closed time-like structures”. Which, in a way, hints of Yu’s idea we are living in U-31, hwonderful.)

Charles’ father’s dream of obtaining success and celebrity must have been shared with Charles, since he relates how his father fantasized his popularity in trade magazines and the regret his coworkers would feel at having underestimated him, and despite Charles knowing how it all turned out, feeling positive at the memory for seeing their wanting everything to go well. The place of the meeting was at a public park, air and atmosphere, all exceptional. TAMMY notices a look on his father’s face she couldn’t communicate, Charles believing she saw his attentiveness to “time-space auto-dislocation”, he believing for one of the few times, his father was actually wholly present, but once arriving, becomes pensive, the two taking the time machine out and into the park, he realizing his father’s humanity for the first time, seeing his attributes, and how he must dye his hair, only happening upon a non-parental moment late one night and seeing him smoking a cigarette, a different look then the one he had as they waited for the director. When he arrives, his manner, whilst respectful, also gave Charles the impression of he doing them a favor, and when he speaks of having plans to augment their idea, Charles felt it would ultimately fail.

Charles then takes the long way around to supplying an example of this requirement of the upper-class being kind toward their underlings due to upbringing, comparing the way the director must make ideas happen as opposed to his father’s way of struggling to the success. So, as Charles sees his father explaining the machine, quite slowly as the director sized-up the prototype and listened, he didn’t sense this ending well, and again mentions his exhilaration despite knowing the outcome, also repeating if one life is thought upon with only a few memories, this was a highlight (was this unnecessary repeat on purpose, I wonder?), he then supposing whether people only have a limited number of times in their lives to act like their true selves (if one loses sight of being themselves so often, I’d imagine one would be a fixture in therapy). Charles is slapped by his own embarrassment and guilt for not being supportive of his father at this moment, noting his youth, but not being, or able to hide behind it when his father had obviously needed his optimism for what they’d accomplished.

So, Charles states of his mixed feelings of looking up to his father and feeling ashamed by these feelings, and guilt for feeling shame of what he believed was being proud before he had a right. The director though, is completely taken in by his father’s defining the finer points dealing with time travel and why humans saw time the way we do, it dealing with the instinct for endurance of life. During his father’s speech regarding the thought process to time travel, TAMMY has discovered how to define the look on Charles’ father’s face, he quieting her for how wonderful everything was progressing, but she blurting of the look being one his father had of being certain the machine would fail. Charles then goes in to detail of how to recognize failure coming, before the day when no one will register whether one had left home in the morning, and how one begins to note the best day happening early in one’s life. Charles then sits through the ride back with his father as he saw him pretending to be upbeat, he then reliving the flashback of his father demonstrating the machine and the minutes which pass as he attempts to get the machine running.

Charles notes how his father hadn’t blamed him even though it would’ve been simple, instead sheltering him from the harsh reality of life. His father’s inability to fix the problem and how he handled it, eats at Charles, his mindset at his young age already being one where the hope of good idyllic days would soon outweigh the fairly constant bad ones. The moment which gave the director a chance to end his father’s unfortunate suffering comes from a little boy hitting a ball loudly into another field, the director making an unassuming excuse to leave, and the two’s high point reaching it’s pinnacle. His father doesn’t come to terms with his epic fail until the morning after, he rising later than normal, after which they eat together, and then his father leaving and not returning until Charles had gone to bed for the night. The next day he returns to work, neither speaking of their meeting again.

Module ‘d’ with a squiggle at the top begins with a confusing hypothesis which Charles believes has merit regarding the previous memory having a size and could be calculated, as well as chronodiegetics being “a theory of regret” and having limits. Charles is then confused by a face TAMMY pulls, she inquiring what Charles had planned to tell his father when he located him, but Charles then hops backwards to inform when his father’s absent-minded problem began and after their meeting, became more prominent, making conversation with him impossible. Charles allows admitting his father’s prototype failing, but his theory having held strong, Charles learning far after of a similar project being done right before them in the neighboring town, this other man’s demonstration the same as theirs, but successful. Charles knew his father would’ve been crushed if he’d been informed of this, he wanting to tell him what he’d come up with being special and would’ve been a helpful asset to fictional science. He also realizes his father happened to naturally be a depressed person, it getting passed through the generations, they not becoming more prudent, but smart and savviness increasing.

Charles then hearkens back to a memory when he was nine, near the end of the year, and his mother designating he inform his father to come eat breakfast, he viewing him in his study, upset and staring at a picture of his dead father, TAMMY blowing him a kiss and saying it was because of his younger self. His father and mother argued more as the weeks go by, his father still publishing articles no one paid attention to, he able to see his father in two different lights when he was a couple years into college. Three years after the meeting, Charles hears his father working on a new project, he now knowing it was the project which would get him to the temple, and his current whereabouts, he not being asked to help with this one, and this being the moment of his father’s escape.

TAMMY is emotional now, Charles stating how unfortunate their experience was so far, he knowing his father’s affections for his family wasn’t as strong as they’d felt for him, supposedly. He then inquires of TAMMY what it would mean if he did locate his father now, a diagram given, and explanation of the possible conversation topics listed upon putting the equation in “the Symbolic Operator”, he also sharing the odds of getting these variables, and how he’d locate the opening to experience them. He’s then disappointedly sharing how time travel was seen as a joyous escapade, instead it being about seeing parts of one’s life without any real control, and the book being nearer the end (thank God!), the loop having a set time, and TAMMY stating how his shot self had been attempting to share some advice, this information being within the book.

When TAMMY shows TOAD was still keeping tabs of the story as it continued along (Charles Yu again covering his ass well), it had been keeping a dialogue by their experiencing the memories (how convenient for the chronodiegetical principle to allow this, at least in Yu’s telling of it), Charles then feeling near the back of the book, and noting a rise from off the page, discovering an envelope (Charles being real thorough and showing what an envelope looks like… For those of us who don’t know or ever have been in a post office or gotten mail which wasn’t digital…), inside it being a key (I have a problem with Charles getting snarky with TAMMY for exclaiming of he holding a key, WHEN HE HAS THE GALL TO DRAW A FUCKING PICTURE OF AN ENVELOPE! SCHMUCK…), then notices the box his mom had given him, TAMMY and he giving Ed credit since he’d been sitting by it. When Charles opens it, he gets kid-like overwhelmed upon seeing it was a Chrono-Adventurer Survival Kit, he checking the list for the items included, and now finally seeing them, knew he’d only have been partially interested as a ten-year-old, but Charles finding the special side being how his father having purchased it for him at all, he considering his father’s possible motives having to do with reminding him of how they used to tinker in the garage, he then comprehending another box inside the box, TAMMY inquiring whether he planned on waiting until it was too late, or open it for more surprises.

The key opens the box and Charles takes out an exact miniature replica of his family’s kitchen, his father making it clear what date he’d been referring and a clock which actually told the time, Charles believing his father was giving him directions, and as he almost commands TAMMY to take them there, they’re already currently descending to his “death”. Then, a theorem of at some time, the next day would have one losing all, indefinitely.

Charles then states how when he does, what occurs is he shoots himself, he stating how his other self was there to do this, he wanting to change it, even though knowing he wasn’t able, the machine returning to dock, and TAMMY showing a melancholic-faced clock, one minute to go. When he asks TAMMY for calculations on their current approach and she not getting what he means, he apologizes for all his misdeeds and treatment of her, getting “mushy”, but TAMMY explaining how she hadn’t been trying to apologize for not understanding. Their next conversation concerns how TAMMY informs Charles of they not having gone anywhere yet, and the people he’d spoken with either not being real or were part of a memory. He then mentions his book, she requesting he look at it, opening it to a time travel page which explains the experience may not equal the length of time by anyone not traveling, and then a more scientific sounding explanation describing how chronodiegetical movement is different for the person traveling opposed to those outside.

TAMMY then poses how the book follows whatever subject they currently talk about, the book itself fictional, but it being as true to life as everything in a science fiction universe, it existing to help decipher the order of events, TAMMY noting the length she rambles being almost a minute, but at the same time wasn’t. Charles considers his choices, he able to ditch his life, give up looking for his father, let the chips fall where they may, or accept his death and become the main character in his story. He decides to accept the moments to come, or make his own moves and be certain of not succeeding, he noting the sameness of the two choices, but one of them containing an assurance of intent, he knowing in order to locate his father, he had to get out of the machine, TAMMY reminding him this would mean getting shot, she seeming to show how she’d been waiting for this moment of truth for him, Charles realizing he hadn’t given her a chance to show her complete use.

She then bawls, Charles having another epiphany of he wanting to be better to all whom he’d encountered in his life, knowing TAMMY was the lady he hadn’t gotten hitched to, she revealing after he’d mentioned how they’d had something, of her program taking pointers from his own personality and she displaying them in her system, after this and Charles readying to leave, she gives herself a time out by shutting down, Charles seeing himself coming toward the box. “Quantum decoherence” is then explained, a chronodiegetic system unchangeable with the surroundings, one possibility of this happening being unconnected to space-time, a “closed time-like curve, or CTC” being the mecca of innovative research of fictional science, a long-named law being the basis for alternate times, a.k.a. remorse, opposite facts, and tension.

When he leaves the machine, this reminds him of the number which is now disconnected where the time could be given by automated voice, Charles noting how terrified his past self looked, and how he was attempting to follow protocols, but his disgust for himself overpowering him, he getting the idea of he needing to get past-Charles to change his perspective, somehow, wondering how many times he’s already done this, not moving in the attempt to figure a way out. Instead, he says exactly the same statement he’d heard himself say about the book. Charles then decides he’s been in the machine for a month, he then continuing to speak of the book being the key, and when he puts his hand to push down the gun, his past self obeys, but then the pain begins, since in the end, he doesn’t ever stop shooting himself, he having shot himself on the down-swing, after which he gets into the machine, bleeding and with a broken leg, and after the cops arrest and let him go upon learning how much time he’d spent in the box, he again explains how he speaks to himself under his breath, and opens the box with the diorama inside.

Shot-Charles then falls back into his machine, having hoped if the moment ever arose, he’d be able to experience the ‘cool-falling, shot hero’, but he knowing his fall fails in the awesome factor, but in the end, he survives his wound (to get to this point took many run-on sentences), he feeling great. After, a short run through of the process it took to get to his dad (theoretical-sounding), his father not having meant to go away, and then gets trapped, since his time machine breaks, Charles mad, but telling himself to be empathetic. When his father sees how sophisticated the new machine is, he advises not to laugh at him, introducing TIM, the new O.S., and not mention TAMMY, hoping whomever gets her, respects her, as well as showing him Ed (now a real dog! Except he didn’t ever have a wooden nose which grew), his official side-kick, and knowing he needed to right his wrongs. Charles plans for he, his mother, and father to all have dinner together, and see if he can run into the girl he would eventually marry, he then instructing himself to read his own book and stretch out finishing it, since he can decide how quick or slow the present can be, due to its malleability.

Anyone in their right mind wouldn’t ever want to extend a read like this. I know one person whom thought it was swell, but FUCK, Charles Yu has made it to the top of my Least Favorite and Most Irritating Protagonist list. Holden Caulfield was a naive brat, yes, but this bitch is self-aware. Not going to seek out more Yu, for sure. Besides this, the plot was alright, but I’d have preferred less exposition on repetitive thoughts, which would definitely have been for the better. Stick to novellas, Yu.

Rose Madder

 https://2aughlikecrazy.wordpress.com/2016/08/28/rose-madder/

A woman, Rose, is having trouble breathing as she sees her husband, Norman after he gets home. She’s pregnant and not having felt a pain similar to this in her life, she hoping nothing is wrong, but feeling like there might be, since it is hinted of Norman having punched her a few times in the stomach. She’s close to miscarrying and he’s on the phone, she thinking of his status as a cop, and in the process of calling an ambulance. She wants to scream in pain, but Norman didn’t allow such noise, and when he ends the call, he regards the mess around them, she showing her bloody fingers in response as he picks up the shredded paperback she’d been reading and placing blame on his temper to it, she knowing he would’ve done the same with anything she could’ve been doing, he prickly because some woman was hassling him. As he dumps the trashed novel, she starts cramping and having thoughts of loathing of him without truly registering them.

When Norman returns, he has such a look and demeanor, she thinks he means to murder her, but instead, handsome Norman approaches to pick her up, after having told the emergency dispatcher he wouldn’t, but he needing the story he gave to stick, so places her at the foot of the stairs. She begins bleeding more profusely as he checks the spot in the corner for blood, then goes to the kitchen and comes out with a sandwich and rag, cleaning up the spot in the corner. When they hear the ambulance approach, he makes certain she knows the story and then has her say what would happen if she mentioned anything else. Before he walks away to get the door, she stops him to ask why he’d done it, he looking scared for a moment, then claiming it was an accident and she’d be able to have another baby. The EMT give her something to make her sleep and she drifts into a dream where she’s running away from something she knew would catch her (Rose doesn’t seem quite strong, she wanting a baby by this numbskull). It’s told she stays in Norman’s crazy world for nine more years.

Rose spends fourteen years with him, in all, she able to ignore most of it since she usually only received four beatings per year, but the Wendy Yarrow year brought twelve, Rose having to be taken to the hospital after the miscarriage for coughing up blood, learning her lung was being poked by a broken rib, and even though the staff didn’t seem to believe her “falling” story, they only patch her up and let her go, it being 1985. Norman knew he skirted getting in trouble though, so intended to be more tactful. It’s then shared of what Rose had gone through with Norman and what finally gets her attention being a spot of blood. She debates whether to change the sheets, she wanting to save some work by moving the pillow over it, most anything to do with how she kept house being under scrutiny for a physical reprimand, he normally careful not to clock her in the face, but when his temper flared, she still having to be careful not to make a mess or be loud in any way. After one of the unruly temper flares, he gauges the damage done to her nose, gets her an ice-filled wash cloth to minimize swelling and bleeding, she noting the next morning it had done the job for the most part, with the exception of this errant drop on the sheet. Rose didn’t look forward to remaking the entire bed since Norman’s favorite spot to punch her was her back, which after fourteen years had begun to leave noticeable signs of her kidney’s being hit. She considers how if she kept allowing this, Norman could kill her, but the worst thought being he may not.

To Rose’s surprise, she began to feel rage and considered leaving, but at the same time attempting to abate the feeling and talk herself out of it for Norman being a decent provider, regardless of being a smidgen temperamental. Rose couldn’t let it go though, since not being able to stop staring at the blood, considering how her life would be after fourteen more years, the damage she could live through, she then walking out of the bedroom, grabbing her bag and struggling to open the door, then deciding to grab their ATM card even whilst her beaten side begged her not to, but the drop of blood giving her drive, then hesitating no longer, walking outside, she ready to get the hell out of there. As she passes the store, she thought of how Norman claimed to have developed his sixth sense and whether she needed to be more careful in being seen, she then noticing his car coming down the street, she thinking of a believable reason for being out, but not needing to for having scared herself needlessly, she determined to turn onto the next street so as to avoid his driving route. She walks along a residential neighborhood, she desperately needing a bathroom and was lucky to choose a home of someone who had been away for a couple of days already, relieving herself in the backyard, she lightening physically and mentally by her actions.

Rosie, as she prefers to be called, walks for almost two hours before locating a pay phone and calling a cab, she buys sunglasses and a kerchief for her hair before it comes, she requesting an ATM and bus depot, meanwhile deciding she’d return to her maiden name, only when necessary using Norman’s. When getting to the ATM, she then struggles with the amount to withdraw, she ending up going for a few bills since she may as well, she in for trouble either way by now. She makes it to the bus depot, again having to work up her motivation to continue, she entering the building and trashing the card, it being noticed and fished, after she’d moved on, and once getting to the ticket window, contemplates a name to give, she flubbing up and saying the fake name rather than where she wanted to go, feeling quite out of place for not having socialized outdoors for fourteen years. She gets her ticket, though and once on the bus and out of sight of the police station, she relaxing to the point of dozing and seems to enter the Territories, at first sight tranquil, but then sensing wild creatures, and what ends up jerking her awake is the thought of Norman’s fist coming at her, and whilst relieved to be away from him, she knew she couldn’t slip up from covering her tracks, she not certain he wouldn’t still detect her whereabouts, but ready for whatever she found ahead.

Rosie’s first few weeks were tough, but she didn’t have second thoughts, regardless of being fear-stricken. When she’d gotten to the second bus terminal, she didn’t entertain the thought of walking outside so early in the morning, thinking the worst if she did, so heads for a seat as two cops pass, she hoping they’d leave her alone until dawn broke in a few hours. At four, she gets some cereal and coffee at the cafeteria, she then spotting a customer service desk, and debating whether to ask for assistance, she deciding to go for it, and the man attentive enough to ask about her vague plans, nothing coming of it, and she asking for his opinion, he offering her his card where he wrote the address of a battered women’s shelter on the back, then giving her directions so she could go at daylight. When she walks off the bus in the morning, to continue on foot, she loses her way and the people around didn’t look friendly to ask for directions, she walking in the wrong direction for three hours, then regaining some familiarity when recognizing where she’d started. The first person she asks about directions isn’t accommodating, but at least solidifies the truth of the place being known and when seeing a shop, is told how she was sixteen to eighteen blocks away. When she finally gets to the right street, her second encounter with a citizen in regards to whether she was close to the cross street she was looking for again began badly, she learning nothing, but does eventually get there, turning the wrong way, but righting herself, and reaching the house. When buzzing the door, she is instructed to show the business card given, she finally allowed inside.

As Norman contemplates his first move to locating Rosie, she was being led to Anna, the proprietress, when first arriving, given a meal, allowed to sleep, then another meal before seeing her, whom upon getting Rosie’s name, asks for the details of how she’d left. Anna then informs Rosie how long she could stay, if needed and how Providence had led her there like in a Charles Dickens novel, then she asks about Rosie’s skills which makes her break down for not knowing or able to do much, but Anna taking it lightly and offering her a job at a partnering hotel. She assigns her a counselor to shadow, then making clear Rosie is getting the chance to free herself from Norman, officially welcoming her. Three weeks later, Norman gets a lead from the guy, Ramon, whom Rosie passes in the bus station rummaging for the bank card, he now confronting Norman in the park as he relayed how he’d been instructed to meet him out there, the man having been arrested on a drug charge and the ATM card found on him.

The man was now sensing the trouble he was in with Norman, but getting offered being let go for his help, Norman doing a fairly odd thing after noting Ramon being gay, he feeling him up and talking about how he was going to be his good buddy since being laughed about by some cops he knew and then began squeezing Ramon’s boner in a vice grip. Ramon was glad he was able to answer Norman’s questions of what window and time she was in the station, not saving himself much pain. Norman then plans his next move of tracking her on weekends until he was free, he certain he’d detect her whereabouts easily enough and how he was going to teach her a severe lesson when he did. After being away for a month Rosie was noticing her physical changes for the better, working at the Whitestone Hotel. She liked how she knew what would happen throughout her day, she taking a banana break in the room she was finishing turning down, Pam sticking her head in and scaring Rosie, but asking if she wanted to join forces on the last two rooms, she taking her up on it and treating her to coffee and pie after. Rosie is content with her current set up, but expecting soon not having Norman around will be enough, she readying for the time it’ll be her turn to vacate the shelter as she drifts to sleep at night.

The next Wednesday, Pam leaves Rosie after work for not feeling well, she denying Rosie should accompany her in preference of she going to get coffee independently. Rosie then notices her wedding band, having forgotten she could get rid of it if she chose, but after seeing Pam off, walks to the cafe, but passing it as she became distracted by her memory of the pervert whilst she’d been lost her first day in the city. A young man stops her before she mindlessly walked into a busy street, she then aware how far past the cafe she’d gone, but as she approached the coffee shop, she decides to return home instead, then noticing the pawn shop, carefully deciding to see what her ring would fetch since she had no fond memories nor reservations holding her back, instead thinking about paying for her time at Daughters and Sisters hopefully having enough for herself after. When she guesses it actually wasn’t worth much, her thoughts confirmed by the young man behind the counter, she keeps it as a reminder to not be gullible again. As she makes her way out, a picture seems to grab her attention, of a woman on a hill, which she gravitated to for the new place she was going to get.

Rosie walks back with the painting and asks the young man if he’d be willing to trade for the ring as an older man watched, and when he agrees, Rosie is ecstatic, the two men discussing the odd qualities of the painting, she thinking about when she’d be able to hang it. Then, Rosie wished to complete the transaction so she could leave, the young man agreeable and wrapping it up. The older man follows her outside, introducing himself and asking she read a couple passages from a book, she at first guarded, but after the first paragraph, curious. When she had finished, Rob was delighted with her reading, she shocked when he gave her a job offer. Meanwhile, Norman had cleaned his desk of all unnecessary trash, he having specific thoughts on black people’s abilities when it came to work ethic, which he’d learned from his pappy. His home had switched roles, it looking bomb-blasted with trash whilst is desk at work was clean as a whistle. Norman had apparently been promoted, getting a real office, his bust going perfectly, he considering how his desk being this clean would have only come about if he’d been fired.

Norman then recalls how his assumption Rosie wouldn’t go far from her childhood town had set him back, he unable to know for certain which bus she’d taken, and whilst his job had taken a turn for the better, he was obsessed with the idea it canceled out with Rosie still missing, he having been blind by thinking she wouldn’t leave, the amount she took meaning nothing, only concerned with she having taken something of his, and he owing retribution. He also thought back to the women he’d had sex with since Rosie left, one in particular not living through it, he choking her when she resembled Rosie for a moment, but not being concerned after she’d died since he’d taken care of murders committed before. He then considered if Rosie knew of this, but shrugging it off, instead going through the meticulous process of tracking her down. He enlisted help from a neighboring city’s police station on false pretenses, nothing coming of it. As he readied to move his office belongings to his new office, he gets a call from the bus cashier, he remembering the odd way Rosie had asked for a ticket, Norman now feeling the upper hand returning, and easing him.

Rosie saw Pam sitting whilst watching an overweight, but muscle-y Gert with a punk-looking Cynthia, Gert teaching her self-defense, which she did for anyone who wanted to learn, Rosie having been taught some moves she didn’t expect to use, but appreciating Gert’s kindness and interest in her mentoring. As Rosie sat with Pam and relayed her time after Pam had gone home, Gert flipped Cynthia, whom squealed upon the take-down giddily, bouncing back quickly, Pam wanting to hear more about the younger guy than giving her opinion on the painting Rosie tried to focus her on. Gert was encouraging Cynthia to help flip her in return, Cynthia exhilarated once succeeding, Anna then walking in and sobering her victory with how she had only aided Gert’s body to follow it’s own inertia. Rosie then asked her opinion of the picture when she’d shown interest, there now seven ladies staring and not saying a word until Rosie prompts a response, feeling awkward, receiving the similar opinion of it being strange. Soon, Cynthia is relating a story where she’d had a similar experience to Rosie’s in regards to a picture her mother owned, drawing her in, she not knowing what happened to the painting, but guessing her mother had trashed it. Anna then states Rosie needed to come to the office with her after she told them all about her new job offer, she admitting it may regard what Rosie had been waiting for.

Anna describes the studio Rosie would be getting being one of their better ones, Rosie overcome with happiness in moving forward. Anna then asks after how Rosie was feeling in regards to Norman attempting to locate her, Daughters and Sisters policy being to not discuss where anyone relocated to, with outsiders. Anna prompts Rosie to go through how she’d deal with the possibility he did find her, they moving on to her financial stability to maintain the apartment and her new job’s unknown stability as of yet, until she started, she not knowing, but believing it will pan out, she also knowing she had back ups on the off chance it fell through. Anna lets her know she could move in the next day if she chose and hoped she would attend the upcoming picnic, she continuing to study the painting and noting how the painter hadn’t signed it and the printing of ‘Rose Madder’ on the back seemed much newer than the picture, it looking 40 years or older.

Norman leaves by bus, the day before Rosie begins her new position, he ignoring how much her ditching him had affected him, and needing to infiltrate her mind once more, quickly. He allows himself to blind himself to the fact it was about how he hadn’t sensed her movements and less about the card theft. He attempts to track when she could’ve decided her escape and how long she planned it out. Once on the bus though, trying to sense which seat she’d have chosen, he then going over how much effort telepathy took in practice. As he traveled, he attempts to retrace her steps at the rest stops as well, he repeating his new mantra and eager in imagining he was underneath her bed so he could stab her. When arriving at the final stop, he gauges what her next step would’ve been, distracting himself for a moment with the thought some low-life could’ve killed her before he could, but then getting back on track and after doing a step-for-step of Rosie’s movements, learns the information desk man’s name, then goes to a cab where he’s taken to The Whitestone. Meanwhile, Rosie is slowly becoming overwhelmed by the actual doing of her new job, fear setting in when sitting in the recording booth. Thoughts breaking her self-worth returning as she starts talking herself out of succeeding, worse case scenarios in how she’d survive crashing on her, as well. Then, thought’s of her picture motivated her to sit down as asked, gaining courage by thinking of the woman in the picture, and once talking to allow the sound engineer to level the console, everyone looking pleased with Rosie’s speaking voice. She has one more thought of insecurity before action, but begins her lines like a champ.

When finished for the day, Rosie goes to Daughters and Sisters to update them of her day, she still riding the buzz and even agreeing to ask shop owners in her area  to post their fliers to sell tickets for the picnic and concert, also to remember to mention they weren’t gay and didn’t harbor underage runaways, a couple of the reasons sales were low. Rosie knew she wouldn’t be putting it in those terms, but would talk them up as best she could, she again reveling in being on her own.  She then thinks for a moment, in the painting, the woman’s toga’s creases had changed, but deciding she’d tricked herself, now talking aloud to her like she would a good buddy about how she sensed she had needed to prove to the director she could do the work. When she looked outside, the car she saw pull up didn’t bother her like it normally would, she then distracted by seeing more of one of the two “gods'” faces, thinking then the painting had expanded, but realizing it actually seemed more like she’d gotten a widescreen view and this helped her discovery of new statues in the picture. Rose froze when the light, rapid knocking began, she kicking herself for not locking the door and putting off buying a phone for a better deal, but does remember her groceries containing some cans, and after grabbing the largest, announces of coming.

Norman is then shown on his hotel bed smoking, back-story of when he’d started and how Rosie’s family had died, following. Norman not having felt bad for them since Rose’s father in particular had tended to ask probing questions Norman didn’t deem viable as he was no longer in charge of his daughter. Then it’s told of Norman picking up his two pack a day habit after eleven years, he planning on quelling his stress with smoke and control over his style of divorce. Norman then readied to leave, he feeling charmed in his chances of detecting Rosie, he taking the bus for anonymity and once getting out, uses his map to guide himself to Information desk man, Peter’s home. When he gets to the door, he thinks about how his plan involved the man not speaking to anyone after he was finished, so he not bothering with a face mask, and when Peter answers the door, he senses Norman was bad news, but couldn’t shut his door in time, Norman kicking it closed behind him and similarly threatening to assault him the way he had Ramon. He proceeds to locate oven mitts, then leads Peter to his cellar, Norman satisfied with his results, but needing to dispose of his shirt and mitts later.

Bill Steiner, from the pawn shop waited outside Rose’s door with flowers, she having made such an impression, he was unnerved by attempting to ask her out, and intrigued as well as smitten as he’d been before holding out the flowers as a peace-offering when she opened the door with her raised can of fruit in the air. Rosie ended up agreeing to the date out of relief for not needing to use the fruit-weapon, as he drove, she now paranoid of Norman catching her, but when seeing the warm atmosphere of the restaurant, it receding temporarily, flaring up again when her ‘Norman voice’ begins talking her out of staying, she then visualizing her picture and calming. Rosie confesses of being fine after Bill inquires, adding she was a bit afraid, which once Rosie elaborates of Bill being the second man she’s been out with, he announcing of feeling similarly, they then led to a booth. They first discussed how he’d gotten Rosie’s address, he automatically calling her Rosie to her delight, they then discussing some important topics about Rosie’s marital status and the two vowing to be up front with the other, Bill to Rosie, and the latter to herself in return to Bill. Their chat turns to lighter interests as their night progressed, thoughts of Norman only invading as Bill walked her to her door. She debates asking him in, but when doing so, is declined, he again mentioning how strongly he was affected by her. When he asks for a second date, Rosie is again flattered, but then remembers the picnic, she passing along this revelation, and he offering to drive her back before her t-shirt selling shift, which still made her first instinct to pass up the offer, but the Rose Madder picture making her want to match the imagined bravery of the figure, so instead consents and also has him agree to stay at the concert with her, Bill all for it and suggesting a coat due to chill in the morning, then leaving on a charged excitement.

After she secures the door, she notices another change in the painting, some trees now visible on one side with the statue and a pony with cart and possible other person on the other. As she readied for bed, she thought only of her date, then dreams between sleep and wakefulness about the little girl she doesn’t have and the man, Richie Bender whom had caused all the issues of 1985 in some way, then going deeper into unconsciousness. Norman was also going to sleep, only three miles from Rosie, he also thinking of Richie Bender, the reason being he the one accused of a shooting in Payless. A clerk pointed him out and gave detailed directions to his motel room where Norman and his partner found Wendy Yarrow, they physically and sexually assaulting her and Norman sustaining scratches the two claim she’d made. They close, but not locating Richie Bender’s room, their official reprimand in regards to the excessive force of her broken fingers. Norman then vows to deal with Rose and proceeds to fall asleep. As Rosie was drifting off (one thing I’m getting annoyed with being these overlapped time-frames, also happening in Firestarter), she thinks of the Wendy Yarrow case after she’d found a lawyer, on the course to making more trouble by filing a civil case. She’s discovered murdered in an obvious crime of passion, multiple stab wounds and cut bosom. When Rosie had heard the story, she puts together what had happened, she going deeper into sleep as her thoughts turn to Bill, smelling grass sleepily and thinking it was from the park, but then when thunder and crickets are heard, realizing she’d closed her window and had seen a clear night earlier.

In the late afternoon of a Wednesday, Rosie was on feeling grand as she got a cup of coffee at the cafe, a bit out of her way now, but comfortable with the spot, she reveling in knowing the fact they wanted her for the readings of the other novels in the series. Then she recalls how she’d been told by Rhoda, the director whilst she snuck a smoke in the bathroom, relaying to Rosie of Robbie planning on offering her a contract, but to watch out for herself and not sign only for gratitude, she attempting to make her realize how much talent she had, Rosie halfway believing, but also becoming annoyed by her attempt to instill caution. Rhoda then makes clear what Rosie should ask for, the number shocking her, Rhoda asking how she’d gotten such vocal control without being a singer, Rosie recalling the times she’d had to manager her breathing for pain. Rob calls to set up a lunch meeting with her, afterwards getting similar advice from Curtis, the sound guy, then thinking about her date and bright future as she finished her pastry. Meanwhile, Pam finished her shift and was heading toward the cafe, Norman waiting for the walk sign with her, she feeling an aversion due to his eyes, and Rosie promptly getting a second tea for no particular reason. Norman was looking at Pam’s butt, glancing inside the cafe she’d walked into, seeing Rosie without knowing, she resembling Rose Madder.

Pam doesn’t recognize her at first, either, but yelps when it hits her, and the two take their drinks to their old table, Rosie sharing her good news and accepting another pastry, even though she planned on keeping off the fifteen pounds she’d lost after getting to the city. Pam was still processing Rosie’s new look in shock, her face looking younger and the blonde hair apparently working on her, seeing how Rosie had copied Rose Madder’s style, and deducing Rosie having met someone, she bursting out laughing in reply. When Rosie’d walked home for her energized happiness, she remembered how she’d dreamed she and Bill were riding his bike in the scenery of the painting, she forgetting the magic word which had made them fly, but then undoing the French braid she’d given herself, she hearing a cricket, catching it, and rationalizing how this is the cricket she must’ve heard last night, her inner voice mentioning how it’d sounded like an orchestra of them, then before dumping it out the window, she realized the cricket couldn’t have hitched a ride on Bill, and when the cricket jumps, she discovers two dead ones along with a pink clover, slowly looking at the painting, the pony now seen grazing. It didn’t taker her long to start thinking the evidence she’d collected came from her picture, and whilst she knew it was a mad way to think, she believed it, the idea most likely receding if other people were present, but currently the fantastic supposition sticking.

Rosie examined the picture closely at her kitchen counter, the back where the paper had writing, crinkling more than before when she had touched it. She reached for a knife as her timid conscience urged her to stop, she hesitating a moment longer before carefully cutting it, some dead and one live cricket falling out with a dead leaf, some more clover flowers, and grass. She then continues to trace the outer edge of the backing with her knife, and with removing the paper, detects more dead insects and some gray hairs she deduced was from the pony. Rosie then thinks matter-of-factly to herself of her obvious loss of common sense once more. She decides to separate picture from frame, she probing the naked canvas until her phone’s ring scares the bejesus out of her. She picks up to hear Anna preparing to deliver some news which may or may not involve her. After hearing what she relays, Rosie hangs up before deciding whether she was going to spend her night at Daughters and Sisters, calling Bill to inform him of not being able to see him, not wanting to explain, and after hanging up, revealing her thoughts of belief it was Norman, and he’d murdered Anna’s ex, Peter. Norman was setting himself up with a mild disguise before heading to Daughters and Sisters. He remembered the aches he’d woken up with which stemmed from his fastly regretted time with Peter, it not in the paper yet, but knowing a man like Peter would be looked for soon enough, and then he seeing the paper a day later to note his thoughts  had been realized, the story covered on the front page. Norman also does his research about the Daughters and Sisters organization, learning Anna’s connection to Peter, he sensing the ladies would be quite careful now. Norman reaches the house, walking on the sidewalk across the street from it, getting a good eyeful in small doses, keeping his pace leisurely. He’s briefly noticed by Cynthia, he having to calm himself before returning her wave, he then moving along. He stays deep in thought as he walks away, soon stress-biting his finger until it bled, he then noticing a sign for fresh rolls, and the Daughters and Sisters flier.

Rosie wasn’t having a productive day at work due to her almost sleepless night, Rhoda calling an early lunch and Rosie attempting to make she and Curtis believe she’d do better at noon. When she gets to the lobby, Bill is waiting for her. She’s at first uncertain and scared, but when he confesses of being unable to do as she’d bid, she is overwhelmed with being in unknown territory, but when he gives her an opening for a hug, she takes it automatically. As they walk, she confides how happy she was he’d come to see her, she beginning to share the fear she’d had about Norman being close, but first has him buy them a couple hot dogs before getting down to the grit. After she had a bite, she has a moment to think he’d stop talking to her after this, but decides to dive in, starting with how they’d met. By the end, she’d shared Anna’s information, the police not having released the killer having bitten Peter over thirty six times, she expecting Bill to ask why she’d put up with him for so long, but instead inquiring whether she thought Norman had killed Wendy Yarrow, she thinking it possible, but then having to get back for being five minutes late. As they go, she explains her worry about Anna thinking Norman could be dealt with like any other abusive husband, and why Rosie wouldn’t go to the police like Bill had suggested, she also explaining how another women’s group had gathered intelligence on Norman, and Daughters and Sisters now knew what he looked like. The conversation winds down as they reach her building and are met by Rhoda and Curt outside. Rosie introduces them to Bill and he takes the opportunity to finalize their plans to go out Saturday, Rosie reluctantly agreeing and he walking off, Rhoda remarking on his charming looks.

On Thursday, Rosie calls Anna to make certain she hadn’t heard anything more about Norman, this being so, and relaying the remembrance for Peter happening on the same day as the picnic, then realistically explaining to Rosie about how common it was for battered women to believe their spouse capable of murder, the two moving on to other topics after. Rosie then attempts to sleep, but is distracted by the noise of a baby’s cry, thunder, crickets, and lightning, finally getting to sleep, but being woken by a bright flash and thunder, when looking at her window, seeing a real scene of the painting, her view of the street replaced. Rosie ignored her conscience as she steps into the picture-no-longer-picture. After stepping through and looking back for her bedroom, it wasn’t there, an easel and painting of Rosie in her outfit for the outing with Bill in front of her, she unnerved as she also sees the pony and a woman with it in front of her now, whilst Rose Madder still looked down at the temples. The young woman reassures the pony didn’t mean to startle her when he’d bumped his head into her, she recognizing the lady as Wendy Yarrow, now certain she was dreaming.

When she hears the baby cry for a moment again, Wendy warns Rosie not to look straight at Rose Madder after hearing her call to her, which Rosie then turns to approach, noting something odd about her hairline, Rosie unaware she was meeting her twinner, but getting the gist when she showed Rosie her scar, which she had on the opposite hand. Rose Madder then relates how she would return whatever Rosie did for her, then requesting she bring her baby to her. Rose Madder bids Rosie go to the temple, Wendy accompanying her only so far, since also having what Rose Madder had, only not as bad, yet. Wendy warns her of the bull, Erinyes whom guarded the temple which hurt Rosie’s eyes to look at, Wendy instructing her to rip two strips of her gown, using one to wrap a rock in as the rain began to fall. Wendy cuts herself and soaks a piece of cloth, then instructs Rosie on what she must do with it as she uses the second cloth to cover her wound.

Rosie is urged to walk through the temple and not to stop until through it, it unable to harm her for only containing spirits. She then relates how Rosie would get to the baby and return to Rose Madder, but to be careful of Erinyes. She walks, uncomfortably naked and cold to the temple, the statue’s face is of the perv outside the bar, when she enters, she’s still quite cold, recognizing the details inside to the church she used to attend and against Wendy’s advice, picks up a book, which smelled terrible upon opening. She walks through to the dead garden to the stream where the stepping stones lay, she considering drinking for the thirst and the possibly upside in forgetting all, but thinking of Bill keeping her moving and across, she entering a forest where the trees looked like they had shrieking faces on the trunks, finally seeing the tree in the clearing with the fruit. She collects quite a few as she’s overwhelmed by the wonderful aroma, saving herself in time, she almost licking her fingers. She then walks toward the tunnel with the word “Maze” above it, the baby’s cries now infrequent. After getting down the over 200 steps, she debates which of the four break-offs from the main tunnel she should take, bringing back her extremely loud cry she’d not used since childhood, the baby screaming and the bull hearing, moving as well, but Rosie deciding on which tunnel and starting through.

When Rosie reaches another spot where she must decide which passage to choose, it dawns on her why she had the seeds, she placing one at the next tunnel she tries, but it being a dead end, so replaces it at a different entrance. Rosie had been doing this for some time when she begins to see a heightened brightness, now having only three seeds left. Finally though, she sees the baby, she wondering whom she truly was and whom had left her there, but letting this go as she picks up the child and is readying to leave when Erinyes detects her, it taking Rosie a few moments to figure out what she must do, unwrapping the rock and tossing it away from the tunnel she needed, streaking for it (no pun intended) as Erinyes charged. Rosie makes it a bit away until Erinyes almost catches up, but Rosie continues on with no real trouble, only scaring herself when not seeing a seed she thought she’d put down at first, eventually locating it and going on. She reaches the steps and gets out with only minor aches, retracing her steps to the stones at the stream, what had previously drawn her to drink, not affecting her at all, then seeing what looked like many vultures perched on the temple, moving away as she stared and once out, being urged by Wendy to return the baby, she now hesitating, but reassured by Wendy to follow through, Rose Madder giving Rosie her armlet and stating of she and Norman divorcing, but to be careful outside her realm.

Rosie goes back to her world, sleeping and when awoken by her alarm, unable to remember why she was naked or where her terrible aches came from. She showers, only half remembering the warning of not to taste her red fingers, she thorough in cleaning them and when seeing the painting again, is surprised to see birds in the sky above the temple and the clouds gone, she not willing to pause on what else was missing and storing the painting, at least temporarily in the closet. When she’d met with Robbie, she gets her contract offer which she decides to think over, and as she goes to the studio, she realizes Rose Madder’s armlet had been missing. When she returns home, she discovers the armlet and the piece of her nightie which carried the seeds, with the three seeds still remaining within, under her bed, Rosie then reminded of Rose Madder’s promise. Before she had been transported to the supposed Territories, Norman had been lying in his bed as well, wondering how Rosie had found the balls to run, he then thinking how she was probably whoring herself out for not having experience doing anything else. When he’d woken from an odd dream-filled night, he sees Rosie walking through the temple (Rosie’s feeling of Norman watching her being closer to the truth than she wanted to admit), he thinks about what he’d do if he found her with a guy. After seeing her walk into the maze, he’s visited by Rose Madder and then wakes, thinking of how he’d keep eyes on the park and sensing Rosie wouldn’t be the only one watching out for him. As he’s in the lobby, Pam passes him again with two other maids, talking about the concert, he praising the luck he’d caught when confirming it was Pam whom knew.

Norman’s next move was in hot-wiring a car in the long-term parking of the airport, after getting the car washed, he stops at an army surplus store and purchases a taser, then goes to a barber to get his hair shaved off, afterwards having trouble recognizing himself. He then drives to a secondhand clothing shop, people staring at his head, which didn’t bother him since they wouldn’t remember his face. He buys a motorcycle jacket and plans on immediately returning to his room to sleep, before doing so though, hitting a gift shop at the Women’s Cultural Center and Museum. Once back at the hotel, he has no further motive then to get to his room for the migraine he’d built up. He falls unconscious, his headache following a ways, but then he getting deep enough to ditch the pain, and upon waking refreshed, thinks of Rosie needing to wake up to view the last sunrise she’ll ever witness. Rosie does as she’s told, waking a little after four A.M., scared Norman was in her room, she calming when seeing she was alone, looking at the armlet, not knowing where she’d come to possess it. Eventually, her thoughts turn to getting ready and once seeing Bill parked, goes down to meet him. He gives her his father’s riding jacket since her sweater was estimated not being warm enough, once getting set up with jacket and helmet, the two setting off.

Rosie gradually started with liking to loving the ride, and once getting to the lake, quite impressed with the deserted tranquility. They move the cooler, then Bill leads her to a spot where a vixen and cubs were resting, the two heading back after watching them for a bit. When Bill began setting out their spread, the amount of food brought, made Rosie giggle hysterically, he letting her know he’d wanted to be certain she’d enjoy her meal, he giving some history on his modest love life and how he’d fallen for her, then suggesting they dig in. Afterward, they sit on a rock and fool around for awhile, Bill insisting they walk it off, he not wanting to be interrupted or have it done in such an unromantic way (either a true gentleman or not having a rubber), then returning to the campsite after seeing some flowers and a woodpecker in a meadow. They get to the park on time, foreshadowing of Rosie looking back on her joy-filled moment upon seeing the sign turning into intense fear later, upon reminiscence.

Norman was currently parking the car a good distance away from any traffic which could effect his plans, then preparing the wheelchair he bought with female friendly bumper stickers and his new identity’s back story. He goes over his plan for discovering her and what he’d do when he did (some words not having been caught as the wrong one by a careless editor). Best case scenario, he’d get her after she’d arrived home, he following her, worst, if she spotted him and he ending her on the spot. When he paid his entrance fee and wheeled away, the ticket guy kept calling him back since he’d paid too much, Norman getting on himself for already bringing unwanted attention to himself. He does fairly well after, but gets nervous when not seeing Rosie at noon. Meanwhile, Gert had taken notice of him, but hadn’t placed him, yet. Norman had ridden through the grounds, making himself scarce as the women sat for lunch, his migraine returning with his continual paranoia, his knowledgeable inner voice keeping him calm and supplying a new tactic. Gert was talking herself out of thoughts of whom she’d seen being Norman, but decides to check so she didn’t continue to feel bothered. She attempts to have the ticket guy help her, but he wasn’t feeling particularly welcoming, only getting how the man he’d helped had forgotten what price to pay, she next wanting to locate the ladies she’d seen speaking with him, but none currently within sight.

Norman’s new plan involved staking out the restrooms, he letting himself out of his chair out of view of anyone. He waits for a lady to come to the bathroom by herself, it almost being one of the ladies he’d spoken with earlier, but Gert calling her back, Cynthia now being the target, he catching her before she walked in. Gert’s conversation with Lana shows how she was the first to identify Norman, whilst Cynthia was being sexually assaulted. Gert was then on her way to the restroom when she heard the threat from behind the building. She was readying to knock Norman out when he turned, she catching his face (Grendel being mentioned in regards to Norman’s look). Cynthia doesn’t move for being in shock, Norman now taunting Gert, she estimating her best move was to egg him on, and when she interrupted his constant insults and movement, he goes after her, she gets the upper hand until he is able to wriggle away after she peed on him after having needed to since confronting the ticket guy, Norman charging again, but Cynthia tripping him up. Gert goes after him once he retrieves his taser, she throwing the wheelchair at him to disarm him, Cynthia failing to warn her in time to save her from the taser’s bite, but after, he didn’t have enough time to do much more since security was approaching, he walking toward the rides. Rosie had made her way to the hospital, locating Gert where she updates her of Cynthia being tended to, unaware of the policemen’s presence until Gert introduces her to one. She’s overwhelmed for a moment, then resigns to confiding to the Lieutenant of what she knew.

Norman was struggling to get his head around what Gert had done to him as he walked, remembering his decision to flee having to do with his own pain more than the approach of people, he attempts to quiet his mind as he desperately thought about needing to end her. His mind flitted back and forth between sanity, he noticing the attention he was getting, but after turning between two amusement areas, gets a kid’s mask to cover his face with. After reaching the car again, he begins to hope Gert’s voice won’t be a fixture in his head, now. Once Norman had gotten out of the parking lot, he hears a voice from the mask confide of Rosie’s make out session, he then stating what he planned on doing to her when he found her. He remembers Pam after, and plans on getting the information he wanted this time. Rosie is accompanied by Gert as they are driven by the Lieutenant and his partner to the station, Bill following. Norman has made it back to the parking garage, he deciding on keeping the “lucky” bull mask, the next moment he’s aware, being of getting Pam back into the housekeeping room, but before he can succeed gaining any information, Pam has one helluva nasty accident, Norman finishing her off. After dropping her on a pile of sheets, he notices a key on her bracelet, takes it and looks for her locker, after searching through her purse and detecting her key card and code, he leaves.

Meanwhile, despite the detectives mellow attitudes, Rosie is scared and angry, they repeatedly having Gert go through the events, and once finished, focusing on Rosie. Norman had found himself down the street from Daughters and Sisters, he noticing he’d changed his clothes, still had the mask, but not his gun, then planning what he’d do if coming across residents (which he thinks of handling by shooting with his forgotten revolver…) or police, not thinking about the possibility of all being quiet, which it was. After speaking to Ferdinand the Bull (of whom is shown on the cover), he’s reassured, yet disappointed the ladies hadn’t been more affected by him. Once overcoming his hesitation of it possibly being a set up, he enters, no one bothering him. He looks around and discovers Anna’s office, then seeing a basket of outgoing mail, he sees a letter to Rosie, and whilst he’s reading it, hears the house alarm go off as someone comes in. Anna is then followed before she enters the house, she going over how painstaking the ceremony had been, she having only stayed for knowing her movements would be scrutinized, also not having answered her three pages, deciding to check her answering machine when she got in. She doesn’t notice anything wrong until seeing her door slightly open, and when trying the light and it doesn’t turn on, Norman catches her, biting her after closing the door.

Rosie finishes her interview and the Lieutenant again vows to get Norman, he also informing her of police cars being stationed at and around her home. As Gert was taken back to the park by a police car, Rosie and Bill planned on heading to her place. When they get there and she’s heading for the door, it doesn’t occur to her until she’d unlocked the lobby door, realizing the cop she heard coming up behind them wasn’t the one the Lieutenant had sent. Norman is shown washing off at Daughters and Sisters before his mind jumps ahead again to Rosie’s apartment, he wearing a new coat, and wondering what he’d do about the cops. Once receiving the idea from Ferdinand again, he tricks both cops by getting them to approach after faking a heart attack, taking out the elder one, then the younger, whilst the older cop stumbled off, no one having seen anything, yet. Norman manages to lead the older cop back to the car where he stuffs him in the trunk, then returns to the younger one to strangle him to death before depositing him into the passenger seat. Norman blacks out again and next notes he’d done something to the entrance light, the next time he blacks out, coming to as he’s grasping at Bill, he ready to choke him. As he’s proceeding, Rosie finds courage and strength with the armlet, throwing him off, then attempting to get Bill to her room, Norman stops them with gunshots, which helped him see where they were, then coming at them.

Rosie blocks his way temporarily, getting herself and Bill up the stairs, she even able to kick Norman back down once he’d grabbed her leg. When she gets to her door, Norman catches up and again tries strangling Bill, Rosie turning back to stop him, he biting her hand, but she breaking his jaw. When she gets them both into her apartment, she realizes she hadn’t been wearing the armlet which she thought had lent her strength, but their danger was still close, Norman ramming the door after she’d locked them inside, she pulling Bill to the closet when the painting opened up for them. Norman’s perspective is switched to during his hang up on the stairs with the “coat-tree”, all the way to when Rosie dislocated his jaw, of which he resets. When finally getting into Rosie’s room, he fires twice at the shower before seeing the way they exited. He looks to the other world, he feeling he was seeing through one eye-hole as he wore the mask, and after stepping through, still seeing through a single eye, he realizes he couldn’t remove the mask.

As Bill and she look around, he questions whether what he saw was real, but before being able to answer, Wendy calls to Rosie to bring Bill down to her, informing them how close Norman was and Rosie needing to participate in essential ways. After partially carrying Bill to her, Wendy shares of how much she’d gotten done, which Rosie only half understood, the two then helping Bill move toward the Temple, but around to the back where a similar looking tunic for Rosie hung, she hesitant in dressing, but as Norman closes in, she does as Wendy relays, Rose Madder having made the command for Rosie to fulfill. She knows the part she must play and calls for Norman, Wendy assuring them Rose Madder would handle the rest. Bill is quite confused by their knowing exchange, Rosie leaving him with Wendy as she readied to lure Norman, the two hearing her baiting statements to him, he and Wendy thinking for a moment Norman wouldn’t go through the Temple, but around it, their fears appeased when hearing sounds to prove he was inside. Next, Norman’s perspective shows his terror of being stuck with the mask on his face, but Rosie’s sweater and jacket distracting him from this, especially when hearing her call him. As he follows her voice, it’s shown he’s distracted by the statue outside looking like his father, which Bill and Wendy had been confused by his one-sided statements to, but again, Rosie distracts him, he getting the sensible voice suggesting he go back and await her return at her apartment, Norman ignoring this since anticipating the cops to come and how Rosie was speaking to him with such disrespect; His final decision made once reading the sign above the Temple.

As Norman goes through what looked like Rosie’s hometown church, he kills a bat which comes at him, and Rosie gets his attention by commenting on it, he charging at her as she stood in the dead garden. When Rosie sees him coming, she at first can’t move, but gets herself going by remembering a terrible memory, getting across the stream, but sliding back toward it after she’d made it across. When Norman sees this and her look of panic at getting near the water, he doesn’t think much of it, finding it amusing, but after seeing her make it to the crest of the incline and flip him off, he notes her concern and is careful upon crossing. He sees Rosie watching him and then is caught by the naked boy statue, Norman running to take advantage of his good luck, Rosie becomes angered by the boy’s rude questions and gets him off her by punching him, but now Norman is quite close, he brushing her tunic strap, but Rosie getting a good lead after a short while, and they again meeting at the dead tree, Norman giving her a chance to give in, but she continuing on and when next he hears her, Rosie’s voice sounds slightly different. When she reaches the entrance to the maze, Rose Madder instructs her to go partially down the steps so she didn’t have to witness what would come next, unless she truly wanted.

As Norman neared, he thought he’d heard Rosie speaking, which made him hope Gert were there to be slayed, as well. Rosie currently ached for Norman’s death to come quickly so she could move on with her life, and when Norman sets eyes on Rose Madder, he notices small differences in her body type and attitude, but considers it meant he’d have to refresh her memory of what she needed to act like, her back still turned from him. After he’d commented on the reason she’d dyed her hair and she’d stated of the brown color being the dye job, he is incensed for being opposed, but then wonders where the person she’d spoken to had gone (hopefully, not believing he’d get a rock “chunk”-ed at him). When he demands Rosie turn to him, his gun out, the mask doesn’t feel like a mask anymore and his vision is darkening as Rosie turns and he sees her blackened skin as she states of Erinyes breaking the rule of the bull having exited the maze meaning he’d be put to death. Rosie Madder turns to Norman and what he sees brings terror and shrieking, she biting him (reminding me of American Gods, a bit). Whilst this occurs, Rosie doesn’t watch, but is listening, she not moving until Rose Madder calls for her. She slowly notices the state of Norman’s body lying before her, Rose Madder planting seeds on him and then dumping his body in the maze. Rose Madder then directs her back out where Dorcas/Wendy and Bill waited, she advising Rosie to “Remember the tree”.

Rosie locates them at the top of the hill, Bill meets her to make certain she was okay, the two walking back to Dorcas, Rosie changing her clothes when prompted, then relaying Rose Madder’s message of she having something for her. Dorcas hands her a little corked bottle which Dorcas instructs Rosie to use for Bill when they returned. Afterwards, the three wait silently for Rose Madder, she walks to them in the light of the moon, Dorcas and Rosie instructing Bill to keep his gaze down and not to stop until told, Rosie going along with the idea they were dreaming when he inquires. When Rose Madder stops in front of them, Rosie states of receiving the bottle, Rose Madder then giving her Norman’s police academy ring, she commenting about if she watched Bill’s back, he would do the same for her, Rosie then looking at Rose Madder’s face, it not being the same as what Norman saw, but not wonderful either, she confiding to Rosie she should go back to her natural hair color. Rose Madder then offers her a hug and wishes they’d met sooner, as well as reminding her not to forget the tree, which Rosie asks for clarification to, but not getting an answer. She then inquires whether she was Rose Madder, but not getting confirmation of this either, Rose Madder instead urging them to return home.

Rosie takes Bill’s hands and leads him to the widening view of her apartment. Before they’d gotten through though, Rose Madder starts to lose it, wanting her armlet back, Rosie hastily throwing it near her and getting them both out. When they’d fallen back into reality, Bill noted how it must have all been real, Rosie not attesting this, but apologizing for losing the jacket he’d lent her. They then hear the injured neighbor yelling in pain, Bill off to tend to him, Rosie first calling for an ambulance, then uncorking the tiny bottle, realizing what she’d been given was a few drops of the stream at the Temple of the Bull. She puts one drop in some soda, then calls the police again so she could speak with Detective Hale, whom she informs of Norman having been there and was now gone, Hale planning on meeting her at her place, and she stating she’d wait for him, afterwards Bill coming back, and when coughing, getting him to drink the soda, Bill admitting after a few moments, of having forgotten his own and her name for a second.

As Hale got their stories, he wasn’t sure whether Rosie was withholding some detail, but after he goes over his notes of their confession, Rosie agrees with him. Later, Bill agrees to stay over and passes out quickly, Rosie taking a moment to look at her now, devoid-of-humans painting, this aiding her ability to fall asleep. She awoke them both with her nightmare, but the two moving on to a little fun-time, then much later, when Bill had gone for sustenance, Rosie put away the stream water and discovered Norman’s police academy ring, she ending up placing it with the rediscovered poison seeds, dumping all but one, which she then transfers to her purse. They learn of Anna, and Norman stays in the papers for a week, Rosie deciding to burn the picture in the incinerator and attempting to ignore her memories of Rose Madder’s words.

In October, Bill and she go to the picnic grounds again, and she accepts his proposal, she still wondering about the tree Rose Madder spoke about. After their wedding, Rosie has had to use the ‘forgetful water’ for Bill’s nightmares, the last being used on their honeymoon. In January, Rosie confirms she’s pregnant, she still remembering the tree, but Rose Madder also mentioning to add keeping her temper in check, Rosie unsettled with this thought and demanding Rose Madder leave her alone. When her little girl does arrive, she commemorates her friends instead of the wanted name, Caroline. So, Pamela Gertrude is born, Rosie wanting the middle name to be Anna, but being talked out of it by Bill. When Pamela is two, they move to the suburbs and during their finalizing what house they want, their opinions divert and they begin arguing. When Bill apologizes for raising his voice, Rosie is struggling to suppress her violent anger, which he takes as her not forgiving him, so he withdraws to the other room as she continues preparing dinner. She’s plagued by the disturbing thought of hurting Bill drastically, well into the night as she remembers Rose Madder’s words of, “I repay”.

The next few days bring obsessive awareness to her arms, face, and hands, the latter more so with the unknown idea of whatever she thought would develop would begin there. She takes up going to the batting cages where she develops her skills to the point of impressing all the men and boys with her form: both bodily and technique, who bat there; She even knocks one through the netting due to hitting the ball at such high velocity. A month after, Rosie doesn’t take Rhoda’s suggestion they end early due to Rosie’s voice losing inflection, calmly, she then having a terrible daydream of killing Rhoda, until she’s brought back to reality by Rhoda asking after her. Rosie reminds herself of the tree once more, and agrees to stop for the day, but her rage is masked with difficulty. When she dreams after falling to sleep later at night, she realizes she’d been remembering a different tree, but now knew her next move. She calls out of work the next morning and goes to the picnic grounds alone, to the fallen tree where the fox was, she burying the final seed and Norman’s ring. She dumps everything else out of her purse as well, and on her drive back, chucks the bag out her window. Years pass, Pamela is now a teenager, and Rosie no longer deals with bouts of anger, Bill having sold his bike since he felt he could no longer ride safely. Rosie and he don’t go to the picnic grounds anymore, but Rosie goes alone every year, where a new tree has grown, she believing it has quelled her rage. She worries over the day the tree will start bearing fruit, but doesn’t obsess over the thought, since no signs of people have revealed this spot to be popular, the vixen returns and watches her as she sits and sings Rosie Real.

The ending feels a bit rushed, and whilst I know Gert survived, it seemed odd she decided naming her daughter after those two women, rather than the name she wanted and the middle name to be Anna, it would still sound country, but it seemed like it would have been more true for herself. Otherwise the story moved along nicely, enough, and whilst I have read reviews not interested in the fantasy side of this story, it definitely suits King’s style, and wasn’t clunky compared to the others I’ve read of his, it only not being his strongest and could have done with a bit more fleshing out. Now I’ve read it though, I can continue on to his other Dark Tower-related books.