Stupid, Stupid Rat-Tails (Issue 1-3)


So I said I’d be continuing the Bone series immediately, but it turns out there’s a side story to read, which apparently involves the Founder of Boneville, Big Johnson Bone (great name). Big Johnson, before he discovered Rolling Bone River on his adventures as a frontier hero, is currently happy to be on the road, his companion bringing to light of he having been kicked out of town, so not having much choice, the other speaker being a monkey, Mr. Pip whom was riding atop a donkey, and had won him in a card game, Mr. Pip accused Johnson of having cheated. Johnson denies this, stating it was luck which had made his hand a winner, but Mr. Pip had seen a card fall from his sleeve, Johnson clarifying by relating a rambling story of why this had occurred, but by the time he’d finished, the monkey and donkey were asleep. The next day, Johnson is relating another tale of asparagus, when Mr. Pip notices Johnson seemed to be drawing a map, he explaining of how he could draw a map of somewhere they hadn’t been yet rather than helping them return to where they were, he being a great explorer and when being accused a liar, makes one of those statements which one would demand retribution from a higher power to strike them down, Johnson asking for a twister, and actually getting one. Johnson makes himself useful, though when they’re caught up in the twister by getting a hold of a tree trunk and grabbing hold, commanding Mr. Pip and donkey to do likewise and ride out the storm. They soon get spit out of the twister, Johnson claiming to have been done with the ride anyways, and the three landing near some rat creatures. They run off, with the rat creatures in hot pursuit, Mr. Pip in woe to his fate (I am noticing the change in writing since it isn’t Smith this time, it’s only slightly annoying, but since the story moves along, it’s fairly ignorable). The rat creatures lose the group though, and the two decide to go back to wait for more mammals to fall from the sky. After realizing the creatures were no longer chasing them, Johnson attempts to orient himself to his surroundings, and is blown away by the beautiful sight of a place unknown. Mr. Pip hears something rustling and gets scared, but Johnson, being sick of running, whips out a dagger to defend them with, but uncovers a family of mice whom talk a lot of breakfast and whether Johnson had appeared because of Lily’s wish. Johnson is soon bombarded by many questions, starting with whom Johnson was and then repeating whether he was there to save them like Lily had wished, Johnson asking what they could need saving from in a beautiful place like their home, they all leading him to someone called Stillman, whom would explain the situation. They soon meet other creatures of the forest, everyone asking about where he’d come from and whether Johnson would save them when Stillman makes his appearance known by dropping a rock on Johnson’s head and commanding he leave, the creatures of the forest sticking up for Johnson, he asking why Stillman was throwing rocks when he could be breathing fire, Stillman explaining of the fire reflux he had upon trying, making himself ill. Johnson empathizing the unfortunateness of Stillman’s situation and then learns why the forest critters needed saving, Stillman relaying it being caused by the rat creatures attempting to expand their territory and eating the younger animals parents. Johnson then considers if these rat creatures were one and the same to those who had chased him and his companions, Johnson deciding to peace pipe for a moment and have a think on a way to help everyone out of the rat creature problem. A view of the rat creature Queen conversing with one of her subjects of being groomed and the loss of her husband to bad pork. Then the two rat creatures who had run into Bone and group came in to inform their Queen of the creatures falling from the sky and their escape, she commanding a party to be made to discover them and bring them back to her. As the rat creatures searched, Johnson was telling another yarn about trapping critters and being the best, which was similar to what the rat creatures were doing, but he explaining the main differentiation between himself and the rat creatures was he was going to help the animals defeat the rat creatures, they watching on the group around their campfire. Stillman then makes the point of the group being better off waiting for the dragon council to restate a new protector of the forest before Johnson brought them to war with the rat creatures, but Johnson being adamant they needed to act first, the rat creatures agreeing and stepping into the light, Johnson relating this experience to be like another with mountain lions, this issue ending. So, it moves along, but it does get repetitive with the rambling anecdotes of Johnson; I prefer Jeff Smith, thank you, but as a completist, I will be finishing due to the series only including three parts. So away on to the next!



Big Johnson is relating his story of mountain lions as he begins to kick rat creatures’ booty. Other creatures who have cornered some of the young critters, before closing in further hear cries of pain, which stops them, they looking around to identify where the sounds are coming from. They see what’s happening to their comrades, they being tossed around by their tails, the critters shouting to Big Johnson words of encouragement. Stillman is struggling with not doing anything to help and so decides on dropping a rock on the rat creatures, but it backfires by hitting Johnson on the head, freeing the rat creature, and all deciding to retreat, but not empty-handed, grabbing two critters of the forest before leaving. When the rat creatures relate what had happened to them, the Queen decides to recruit her son to deal with Johnson. Meanwhile Johnson was coming to his senses, sort of, and talking of the handy uses the rat creatures bodies could be used for to make some cash. Johnson then describes a plan where everyone would be able to help rescue the two young animals, Mr. Pip thinking he’d cracked how Johnson had a story for everything, including how he’d lost and regained his sanity, which he did, but Mr. Pip’s idea was a bit different from the real story. The animals were quite scared of going to fight the rat creatures though, so Johnson tries to remember the last time he’d been afraid, unable to do so, but knowing at some point he had, and attempted to comfort them with encouraging words. One animal gets motivated, and decides to go along, back to Queen Maud for her speech to her people and how she was going to need their assistance is then shown. The rat creatures run off to do her bidding, the Queen’s son, stuck somehow and trying to struggle loose so he can come along too. In the forest, another animal is now bent on tagging along, as well, stressing Stillman with the madness of the situation. Johnson decides Mr. Pip would stay with Stillman and the other animals to relate his story if anything happened which wasn’t planned, Pip agreeing. As Johnson and group walked, they inquired of his other adventures, Johnson obliging, and whilst he continued to describe a scary story, some rat creatures had begun trailing them and gave themselves away with getting spooked by the story. The rat creatures run off, Johnson after them, but he runs into the Queen’s son, he a big’n, asking if they were the creatures his mama had told him about which were giving her headaches. Meanwhile, Stillman was still beating himself up about being a failure at his job, Pip trying to quiet him for not being able to do anything about it now. Stillman has grown some courage though, and decides to attempt to do his job properly, leaving the camp, the donkey going after him with Pip complaining of breaking the promise they’d made to Johnson to stay and relate his story, he riding atop the donkey. Back to Johnson whom was convincing the big rat creature, Tyson of they not being mammals, Tyson believing him and leaving the message if they were to run into the mammals to let them know of he coming for them. Johnson and group are almost home free when some other rat creatures rat them out. Tyson grabs them, but then Stillman has caught up and actually makes his aim when he lobs another rock at a rat creature, but not in time before Tyson consumes Johnson and the rest, Mr. Pip trying to interest the rat creatures in a pet: himself. This installment was a little less annoying, so I’m glad to report I’m not as hesitant to finish the last.


Tyson is currently having some issues with a tummy ache and being scolded for not chewing before consuming. The rat creature guards were then leading the captured, Mr. Pip, Stillman, and donkey to having a word with the Queen before they shared the same fate as their friends, Stillman again giving himself a hard time, and Mr. Pip contemplating a position as cook for the rat creatures. When they meet the Queen, she shuts Mr. Pip down on the front of he being another servant, so he plays to her ego, but all it does is help her decide in which order she would eat them, then scolding Tyson some more about he needing to learn to chew if he was ever going to be king. What’s happened with Big Johnson and the others is given, they being in the throat hole still, and Johnson deciding the only way out was down. Mr. Pip and gang were in the pantry, of course, they a bit disappointed by Stillman not being able to save them, he again accepting his failure wholeheartedly. Pip was stressing how he hadn’t won the Queen over, the rat creatures advising them to stop worrying, for tainting their meaty flavors, and what they had in store for the rest of the forest being similar. This prospect must have made Stillman ill, since next is the rat creatures crispy and in shock Stillman could breathe fire, Pip being faced away from them and complaining of the noise for attempting to figure a way out. Meanwhile Johnson is relating another story of how slippery another experience he had was in comparison of their current surroundings not being as bad, the area rumbling, and Tyson announcing of not feeling well, still. The doctor is sent for, whom gives guesses as to what could be ailing Tyson, seeing inside his stomach again to view Johnson and kids still falling, until hitting the juicy bottom and being met with more creatures on the “shore”, they being the parents of the orphaned children, a happy reunion ensuing. Stillman is now going off to confront the Queen, viewing she is still pleading with the doctor for a diagnosis, then being interrupted by one of her minions. He reports of Stillman escaping, he coming right to them, but then realizing how many rat creatures he was soon to be dealing with, the doctor trying to coax out any wood elves which may be causing Tyson’s problem. Johnson is now trying to rally the group into building a fire, due to he being chilled, they making a honking bonfire, one of the kids even locating a musical instrument, Johnson ready to rock. Tyson is feeling the heat and the doctor then hears singing, thinking the culprit is fire sprites, Tyson now becoming sick to his stomach, he hurling Johnson and group out, Stillman being urged to blast some fire at the Queen, Tyson then attempting to defend her. Johnson has the idea to have the donkey run up Tyson’s tail, the same idea as before, to use Tyson’s “rudder” in his favor. When Tyson passes out from his doing a partial removal of his own body, the Queen believes Johnson wouldn’t dare to do anything similar to her, Johnson admiring her fur coat. The group leaves and they inquire of where Johnson would go, they wanting him to stay as their protector, but he reminding them of Stillman’s usefulness, and he needing to see more of the world. As the animals discuss how events could have turned out without Johnson having been there, Stillman then defends himself after hearing another downside, upon turning around, realizing it was the dragon from the high council, Red Dragon. Red Dragon then decides Stillman was doing a fine job and appointed him his position again, officially, Stillman ready for the challenge. The Queen is then speaking with her subjects of how the new decree of tail-cutting-off day would be implemented and the reason being caused by Johnson and his usage of them. Johnson is relating his tale to a visitor in his trade shop, and discovering how he’d purchased it and had Mr. Pip running it, the man seeing his new head wear, and Johnson saying farewell to continue adventuring. A fit ending since we now know why the rat creatures go around without tails, this shaped up to be a fairly decent story.

We then get the Bone: Holiday Special Premiere Edition, which is a fun one. Now, back to the main story!


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Year Two)


Harry’s Uncle is woken from sleep by hooting sounds from Harry’s room, his Uncle complaining in the morning and Harry explaining Hedwig wouldn’t do so if he could let her out at night, Vernon knowing what it would mean if he allowed this. Dudley states his indifference to the subject, as well as hunger through belch form, he then requesting bacon by demanding Harry to pass the frying pan and Harry responding for Dudley to say the magic word, everyone reacting with surprise, fear, and anger, Vernon having been treating him like a ticking time bomb whom could activate at any time. Harry missed Hogwarts with an aching passion, Vernon having locked up all of Harry’s magic-related belongings, being unable to practice Quidditch or do his homework. We are then recapped of Harry’s past and physical descriptions of he and the Dursley’s, we also learn of Voldemort mysteriously losing his powers after being unable to kill Harry. Vernon then mentions again of the dinner party to come which was supposed to help him land a deal for his business in drills, Harry realizing no one seemed to remember it was his twelfth birthday. Vernon proceeds to run through the plans for the night, Harry’s job being to stay in his room and pretend to not exist. After, Vernon goes to pick up his and Dudley’s dinner-wear and Harry goes outside, missing his buddies.

We then recap Harry’s last year at Hogwarts and his run-in with Voldemort, Harry realizing he was zoning out and looking at a bush which was staring back, Dudley then appears and taunts Harry with the knowledge of he knowing it was his birthday and asking why he was gazing at a bush, which prompts Harry to make up the reason being to decide what spell was best to set it aflame, startling Dudley to trip back and after egging Harry with the start of another unkind comment, is scared when Harry makes up magic words, his Aunt setting him chores after chucking the half clean frying pan at his head with the extra threat of not being fed until his tasks were complete. Exhausted after finishing, it takes him until early evening, Harry getting a disappointing dinner and is commanded to go upstairs. After one more unfinished threat by Vernon, Harry silently enters his room to fall on his bed, but sees it being occupied by a guest.

Harry is almost startled enough to shout out, but resists, he knowing this was the creature he’d seen in the bushes. The creature formally bows, Harry noting the pillow-case he wore, he greeting the creature, and the elf in return speaking in normal-squeaky pitch, Harry sure it would be heard below, the creature stating it had been wanting to meet him. Harry tries to convey of the inconvenient timing for the visit, he being glad to meet Dobby, but attempting him to cut to the chase for his visit, Dobby unsure where to start and Harry offering Dobby a seat, which brings the elf to a loudly bawling state, Harry attempting to calm Dobby, he making light of how wizards must not have been kind to him often, Dobby almost agreeing and so having to punish himself with a few head butts into the window, Harry grabbing him and setting Dobby back on his bed, the abrupt reaction waking Hedwig, whom screeches. Upon further inquiry, Harry discovers Dobby has come without informing the wizard family he serves and would be punishing himself severely later for this transgression. Harry attempts to offer his assistance in escape for Dobby, but it’s useless, Dobby relating of his visit to Harry being to warn him not to return to Hogwarts, this after gushing over Harry’s kindness in wanting to help him. Harry attempts to learn more about the dangers Dobby hints of, but Dobby obviously has rules to which he can’t overcome in regards to the details.

Dobby hints at whom it could be, but begins beating himself again which brings Vernon to the room with more threats, and afterward Dobby confessing to having stolen Harry’s letters and would only give them back upon his word of not going back to Hogwarts. Harry refuses, so Dobby apologizes regretfully for what he was about to do, he running out of the room, Harry following quietly. Dobby releases the cream pudding in the kitchen, (unlike the movie where it lands atop the guests), Harry getting caught and made to mop up immediately. What gets the guests out of the house is a barn owl delivering a letter to the female guest’s lap, she deathly afraid of birds and fleeing out, the husband not amused. Vernon enters the kitchen with the letter, it being about the non-use of magic by minors and in front of Muggles. Vernon then goes about sequestering Harry in his room, only allowing bathroom breaks twice a day, food to be given through a door flap, and his windows barred. Harry descends into a troubled sleep, awakened by rattling bars, he seeing Ron outside his window.

Harry opens the window, unable to communicate his confusion of how Ron was there and what was happening. Ron takes over with questions of why Harry hadn’t answered his letters and then relating how his father had heard about Harry’s warning letter since he works for the Ministry of Magic, Harry attempts to convey the complexity of his situation when Ron interrupts with how easily they were going to liberate him, Harry having digressed of Ron giving a message to Hogwarts about his incarceration for him. George and Fred then help Harry get his gear, stored under the stairs, with lock picks to aid them after they wrench the bars off the window with the car, the Dursleys undisturbed by the noise, so far. Whilst Harry passed the belongings he needed within his room, Fred and George retrieved his Hogwarts trunks downstairs, all going accordingly, until Hedwig screeches for being left behind and waking Vernon whom crashes through the door and seizes Harry’s ankle, the brothers pull Harry into the car, they shooting off into the night as the Dursleys watched, Harry finally able to release Hedwig so she could fly with them, then Harry explains what he had gone through during the summer break. The boys considered Dobby’s message and honesty, Harry and Ron instantly thinking of their main enemy, Draco when provided with the idea of who could have it out for Harry. George and Fred then speak of their father having brought up Draco’s father, Lucius and his involvement with Voldemort. The twins then profiling the kinds of families who own house-elves, they being rich, and usually manor-owning.

After seeing the likelihood of Malfoy being behind Dobby’s visit, Harry questioned whether he should’ve believed Dobby. Ron then explains his concern and the lengths he’d gone to when Harry didn’t answer his letters, they then discussing Percy’s strange behavior lately and how they’d successfully swiped the car, now hoping they could return it before their mother noticed. Harry also inquired of the Department their father worked, it involving the “misuse of Muggle artifacts”. The twins share of how fascinated their father was of Muggle items, the illegality of his hoarding of non-magical items driving their mother up the wall, they almost home by this time, and it nearing dawn. Harry then lays eyes on Ron’s family home for the first time, it looking like it was held together with magic due to the angle of its standing. Ron was excusing the state of the house, but Harry returned with how great it was, the boys then discussing how they’d explain Harry’s presence when they’d sneak him in and up to the second floor, so they could go down for breakfast when the Weasley boys’ mother is seen marching right at them, she not happy for her worry, the boys not having a chance to explain, since she was still in the process of sharing what she’d witnessed of their being gone, and all which could’ve gone wrong, the threat of she bringing all this to their father’s attention when he returned from work, she then greeting Harry and inviting him in for breakfast, he nervous, but reassured by Ron, he experiencing his first wizard home. As Mrs. Weasley cooked breakfast she still muttered her disbelief and displeasure of the boys’ actions, but lost steam when George mentioned the Dursleys weren’t feeding Harry regularly, Ginny then stepping downstairs and retreating quickly when seeing Harry, Ron introducing her and how she’d been talking about him a lot during break.

After they ate, Fred attempts nonchalance of going to sleep, their mother nixing the wishful plan with chores, she offering Harry welcome to sleep, but he quite awake and curious of Ron’s de-gnoming chore. As the boys walked to the garden, Ron shows Harry a real gnome, the little fella sounding adorable with his demands to “gerroff” him. Ron then shows the simple process of de-gnoming involving a lasso motion as the boys chucked them out of the yard, making them dizzy so they wouldn’t know how to return. When they hear their father enter the house, they return, Mr. Weasley looking worn out. He begins to share what his night had consisted of when his wife accuses him with the enchanted car, he acting guilty. Mrs. Weasley gains momentum especially when he halfheartedly shows disappointment of the boys taking the car, Ron having Harry retreat with him to his room, they passing Ginny’s room on the way, she quickly shutting her door, and Ron remarking how odd her quiet, withdrawing behavior was, they reaching Ron’s room, Harry surveying his belongings and posters of Quidditch players plastered all over his walls, Ron shy about Harry’s opinion being unimpressed, but Harry blurting of his room, and his home being the best he’s experienced, Ron going flush.

We then share the other oddities Harry experiences at the Weasley house, from ghost in the attic to periodic explosions in Fred and George’s room, all of these happenings normal for the household. The main strange occurrence being how everyone treated him well: Ron’s mother overfeeding him, his father wanting him to sit by him so he could relate all kinds of Muggle appliances and government jobs: post workers, specifically. Ginny still had trouble keeping it cool when Harry was around, he kindly ignoring her clumsiness due to her severe embarrassment. One morning the boys receive letters from Hogwarts detailing the place and time they’d be going back, Harry also having the list of required textbooks, most by Gilderoy Lockhart. Harry then learns Ginny will be starting Hogwarts this year, and the group talk about how expensive Lockhart’s books were, Ron then getting a letter from Hermione about meeting up at Diagon Alley. The boys then practiced Quidditch later, Percy still keeping to himself which had Fred wondering what was going on with him. On a Wednesday they get up early, Mrs. Weasley waking them for their shopping day in Diagon Alley. Harry was offered to use the Floo powder first, but didn’t know how to go about it, Mr. Weasley becoming sidetracked upon knowing Harry’s route last year, but interrupted by Mrs. Weasley, and Fred showing him how it’s done.

When Harry does get his turn after tips from Mrs. Weasley and Ron, he still ends up in the wrong place, a strange shop, the view outside not Diagon Alley, and as Harry attempts an exit, he sees Malfoy walking in with his father, he hiding in a cabinet and viewing the two waiting for the clerk. As they stand there, Draco finds a way of complaining about Harry which his father was apparently used to, advising Draco should keep his dislike in check due to Potter’s celebrity. Then the shopkeeper appears, assuming Lucius was there to purchase, he setting him straight about his visiting to attempt to sell due to some possessions he didn’t want to be caught with if the Ministry raided his home. When Draco chimes in about a possible gift for himself, it leads to a conversation about Hermione being the reason he didn’t get good grades: teacher’s pet. As Lucius and the shop owner haggle, Draco gets unnervingly close to opening Harry’s hiding spot, but being called back, Lucius ready to leave. When they do, Harry times his moment to exit, and views his surroundings, all the shops Dark Arts related, he “hoping against hope” he’d make his way to Diagon Alley (I’m disappointed in Rowling for joining the ranks of Dan Brown to make one of her characters hope against hope).

Harry is surprised by an old witch talking to him which he’s glad to be interrupted by Hagrid, and the two easily getting to Diagon Alley whilst Harry related how he’d gotten lost and why he hadn’t responded to Hagrid’s letter, they then being spotted by Hermione. Soon the Weasleys had found him, the boys jealous of Harry having gone to Knockturn Alley, and Hagrid bowing out, having business elsewhere. Harry spills on who he’d seen whilst there, Mr. Weasley wishing to catch Malfoy with contraband and Mrs. Weasley warning him to watch himself, the group going into Gringotts where Hermione’s parents were exchanging some money for the proper currency for Hogwarts, Mr. Weasley delighted with meeting some Muggles and seeing their ten pound notes. As Hermione stayed with her parents, the Weasleys and Harry are taken to their vaults, Mrs. Weasley taking everything inside theirs and Harry embarrassed and attempting to hide the amount inside his own. Percy goes off by himself upon the group leaving the bank, Fred and George off to greet a buddy, Mrs. Weasley taking Ginny to get a secondhand robe, and Mr. Weasley inviting the Grangers for a drink at the Leaky Cauldron. Harry, Hermione, and Ron go off window shopping, Harry buying them all ice cream, seeing Percy with his nose in a book, then going to the bookshop to discover Lockhart would be signing his autobiography, Hermione squealing with excitement.

The line out the door consisted of women Mrs. Weasley’s age, she also further up near the front of the line, Harry, Hermione, and Ron meeting her there. Harry is then spotted by Lockhart, whom saw the celebrity photo-op and jumped at the chance of getting front page coverage, plastering a smile on his face and suggesting Harry do the same, not letting him return to the Weasleys though, upon he attempting this, instead being steered by Lockhart to stay with him as he made a speech to his fans of how he was presenting his autobiography to Harry, as a gift and announcing his post as teacher of Defense of the Dark Arts. Harry then gets all of Lockhart’s collection of books, he walking off and giving them to Ginny, Malfoy then piping up how Harry must’ve enjoyed the attention, Ginny sticking up for Harry and Malfoy embarrassing her by stating how Harry had what looked like a girlfriend, Ron walking up and getting a bit of talk-back from Malfoy, as well, he ready to throw down, but Hermione and Harry stopping him. Mr. Weasley walks up and suggests the group go outside due to the crowd, before being able to, caught by Lucius whom couldn’t resist but take a dig on Weasley’s obvious struggle with financing his children’s school books and the company he kept, the Grangers also present. Mr. Weasley doesn’t take his words lightly, body-checking Lucius and knocking books on top of them both, Hagrid breaking their fight up, they leaving for the street, the Grangers heading for the pub to get to Muggle territory, the Weasleys and Harry off using the Floo powder, Harry knowing now it wasn’t his preferred traveling choice.

Summer ended in a flash to Harry, whom was having the most idyllic vacation, but he had conflicting feelings since he also loved Hogwarts, only tainting this with the thoughts of how the Dursleys would welcome him when the next vacation began. Mrs. Weasley made the children’s final evening home a memorable one with a wonderful dinner menu, the evening topped with indoor fireworks and hot cocoa before sleepy-time. Next morning the family rushed about at dawn, getting ready for the trip to the station. Mr. Weasley having magic-suped the small car to fit all luggage and comfortably seat the clan, Mrs. Weasley none the wiser. The group didn’t make it to the station quickly, since three of the siblings had to run in the house for last minute forgotten items, everyone’s frustration rising. Mr. Weasley attempted to convince his wife to allow him to fly the car with invisibility, but she refused, they making it to the station with five minutes to spare to get to their platform. Harry and Ron were last to go, and didn’t make it, the carts crashing into the wall. They get attention from many Muggles due to the resounding ruckus, but discuss their options, having missed the train. Harry didn’t have any “normal” cash, Ron wondering how his parents would return from the platform. Since the barrier remained closed, Harry suggested they wait at the car for Ron’s parents to return due to still getting stares, Ron now excited since they could use the car to follow the train to Hogwarts, his parents able to teleport themselves home.

Harry now more eager by the idea, they return to the car, shoving luggage and Hedwig quickly in, Ron starting the invisibility device and have them in the air when the cloaking fails, Ron gunning the car into the clouds. He dips them below cloud level to locate the train, Harry detecting its whereabouts and Ron noting the direction as they follow above the clouds. The longer the ride though, coupled with the heat and thirst, begins to wear down the fun, the car even whining which added to their nerves, but when darkness comes, Harry spots Hogwarts, the car crapping out whilst they were over the water, Ron maneuvering the car as well as possible, until letting go of the wheel to attempt using his wand, Harry taking after George of the Jungle when the car was aimed at a tree. Harry grabs the wheel to steer them clear, but they hit hard, Ron’s wand suffering damage along with Harry’s head, the abuse not quite over when blows to the car begin. Ron suggests fleeing, but the tree opposed this, the car starting up, allowing Ron to back the car away from the tree, the car then ejecting them and luggage out on to the lawn, before driving off, Ron shouting after it for its return, knowing his father would be angry with him, but the two walking off with their luggage to the front door, Ron noticing by peering through a window the Sorting Hat was placing new students.

Harry then notices Snape was missing from his seat, the two considering aloud whether he resigned, Snape speaking up of he being curious as to why they hadn’t been on the train. Snape then leads them indoors to his office where he shows them a newspaper stating of the car having been seen in flight. He then declaring he would be summoning those who were responsible for deciding the boys expulsion. First McGonagall arrives, Ron and Harry getting the chance to explain, Dumbledore entering after. Harry explaining to him his side, the boys safe from being expelled for now, but they needing to be aware of how serious they were of receiving it with any other troubles which could arise, both of their families being sent letter of their bad deed. Snape attempts to impress Dumbledore with the fact of the rules being broken which would support expulsion, but Dumbledore reminds Snape of the boys being in McGonagall’s house, making the decision hers, he then relaying of returning to the feast, Snape in tow, whilst McGonagall looked at the boys sternly. In the end, they each receive a detention, and wouldn’t be joining the feast, McGonagall magicking sandwiches and iced pumpkin juice to be dined upon there, before going straight to their dorm. They discuss the good fortune they had, but also needing to be careful what with the odd closing of the barrier at the station. When they arrive at the portrait for their dorm, they realize they hadn’t gotten the new term’s password, but Hermione arrives just in time.

Hermione launched into questioning where they had been and the talk of what had happened, surprised to learn they having flown to Hogwarts not being a rumor, she ending with a tone similar to McGonagall’s, so Ron cuts her off so they could learn the password, but she wouldn’t have been able to continue her questioning anyways, since as soon as the portrait had let them pass, it seemed all of Gryffindor house was waiting in the common room for them, cheering and giving kudos to Harry and Ron, only Percy looking annoyed. Ron was made aware of this by Harry, so they begin to make their way to the dorm rooms, marveling at the greetings they had received, and happy when their other roomies, Neville, Seamus, and Dean came in, still showing disbelief by their one of a kind arrival. The next morning, the boys met Hermione in the Great Hall, she still a little cold due to their bad behavior, Neville showing up to wait for owl deliveries of items he’d forgotten at home, Ron properly dreading opening the letter he’d gotten upon realizing it was a Howler, Neville urging him to get it over with since it’d be worse if he waited, Harry wanting to know what it was, but Ron instead working up courage to open it rather than answer, Harry understanding by witnessing it. After it was over, Ron was quite embarrassed, and Harry ashamed he’d helped in Mr. Weasley now having an inquiry from work for his magicking Muggle items.

Meanwhile Professor McGonagall was passing out schedules, Harry seeing their first class was Herbology, and when the trio had gone out to the Greenhouse to be met by Professor Sprout, she was accompanied by Lockhart, she seeming unusually annoyed as she instructed the students to Greenhouse three, they not having been inside the more interesting and dangerous greenhouse. As the three begin to walk with the rest of the class, Lockhart blocks Harry from joining and gives him a lecture on how he understood why he had flown the car being caused by his front page picture in the paper, Harry was shocked by how off he was, but joined his friends as Sprout spoke of the class preparing to re-pot Mandrakes, Hermione getting Gryffindor ten points for answering what they were for, as well as the next question, they then getting a demonstration of what they’d be doing, Harry surprised to see a green baby attached to the fronds of the plant, the three friends making up a third of their group, being joined by a Hufflepuff boy, Justin, as he shook their hands and offered individual knowledge of each one of them, he then speaking of Lockhart being quite impressive. The class had quite a time attempting to re-earth the little suckers, but Harry wasn’t exactly at ease in his Transfiguration class either, his previous year’s knowledge having seeped out over summer.

Harry didn’t do well, but Ron was worse off with his damaged wand, after class his mood not improving despite it being lunch, since their next class after was Defense Against the Dark Arts. When they’d finished eating and walked to the courtyard, Hermione read whilst Harry and Ron talked Quidditch until being stared down by a small boy, Colin whom finally got the nerve to ask for a signed picture when Malfoy walks up behind him to scoff. He again insults Ron to the point of getting him to draw his broken wand, but Lockhart interrupts with the nose for someone asking for signed pictures. Lockhart offers to jump in with Harry and sign it as well, Malfoy withdrawing, and everyone going off to classes. Harry is leached upon by Lockhart giving more unwelcome and off the mark advice since they were both heading for his class, Harry choosing a seat in the back before Lockhart gave out his lengthy personalized quiz, ridiculous questions relating to himself and spanning three sides of paper. Hermione was the only one to ace the quiz, she also scoring another ten points for her house. Lockhart then reveals the Cornish pixies as their study subjects, he letting them loose and they immediately having Neville in the air by his ears (memorable scene in the movie), other pixies throwing out books through the back window, and everyone taking cover, Lockhart playing it cool by instructing the class to capture them and showing them how, his spell doing nothing, so takes cover like the rest until the bell for next class rings and everyone hastily leaves, Lockhart commanding the three to handle capturing the rest before shooting out the door, himself. Ron was enraged by his ineptitude, Hermione trying to stick up for him, but Ron declaring the great deeds Lockhart spoke of in his books seemed to only be stories.

Harry now spent much time avoiding Lockhart, he not so readily able to do the same about Colin. He was pleased to make it to the weekend, the trio planning on a visit with Hagrid, but Harry was unexpectedly awakened by Oliver, the Gryffindor Captain. He found out they had practice, Oliver explaining this was a new training plan since no other team would be training this early in the season. He writes a note to Ron, then Colin runs after him with a picture he’d taken of Lockhart whom was talking about Harry, this time when asked, is bluntly rebuffed to autograph it. After Harry attempts to leave him, Colin puppy-dog’s his way after Harry, since not having seen a Quidditch game before, and only left him alone from his incessant questioning to locate a good seat whilst Harry changed. Oliver launched into a tactical speech when all were present, but few, if any were truly absorbing his words for sleepiness, George asking a smart-ass question which Oliver responds to by informing how terrible their defeat was last year, Harry feeling responsible for having been unconscious and unable to help their team to victory. The team finally gets to the field, Harry spotting Hermione and Ron in the stands, he informing them of practice only having now gotten started. Fred was first to hear a loud clicking which was coming from Colin’s constant picture-taking. Harry denies knowing him, but admits the boy is in Gryffindor when Oliver gets suspicious of what House he’s from. George then shares how Slytherin didn’t need spies since some were currently walking on to the field, Oliver going off to meet them to learn why they were there, the opposing team captain deciding there was enough space for both. The boy then hands a note written by Snape for the Slytherin team to be allowed to practice so they could train their new seeker, Draco. The team also shows the latest model of Nimbus they’d received as gifts by Draco’s father. Tensions heighten when Ron and Hermione join them and Malfoy calls her a Mudblood, everyone responding with rage, and Ron hitting himself with a wand blast when aiming at Malfoy.

Hermione and Harry decide to guide him to Hagrid’s, for being the closest, Colin getting in the way once more when attempting to get a shot of Ron belching up slugs. They had almost arrived when Lockhart was seen exiting Hagrid’s, Harry deciding to hide until he was gone. When they get inside, Ron is given a bowl since it was about waiting for the slugs to stop being regurgitated, Harry and Hermione learning how terrible a name Malfoy had used, Hagrid also taking it seriously. They discuss Lockhart, as well, his reason for visiting Hagrid being to instruct him on how to remove kelpies from a well, Hagrid then showing them what he’d been growing: humongous pumpkins for Halloween. Hagrid had obviously been helping the growth of his pumpkins illegally, since he’d been expelled from Hogwarts for unknown reasons and wasn’t supposed to use magic. After the trio return inside for lunch, McGonagall approaches Harry and Ron to give them their detention tasks, Ron polishing silverware and Harry getting stuck with Lockhart to answer his fan mail. Lunch is tainted by their news, and soon enough it’s time to do their time, Harry goes to Lockhart’s office, immediately being put to write the addresses for envelopes. Later in the night, as Harry is still writing addresses, he hears an odd voice speaking death threats, Lockhart not hearing, but surprised four hours having passed, dismissing Harry. A half hour after, Ron is back and Harry describes what he heard, Ron confused as to how it could’ve been overlooked by Lockhart.

In October, certain students and teachers visited Madame Pomfrey, the nurse for her immediate remedy for colds which left smoking ears for awhile after, Ginny among them. It would rain days at a time, but practice wasn’t postponed in these instances, so Harry was covered in mud and water, it seeming pointless due to the effortless speed the upgraded Nimbus gave to their opponents. During his walk back, Harry speaks with Nearly Headless Nick, whom was dealing with his own injustices for being denied entry into the Headless Hunt, since his head hadn’t been completely detached. Harry was in the middle of explaining his reason for being down, upon request, when Mrs. Norris makes an appearance, Harry not having time to retreat before Filch saw the mud he’d tracked through the hall, he leading Harry back the way he’d come to Filch’s office where Harry saw Fred and George’s file cabinet of mischief along with other cabinets of various students. As Harry awaited Filch to write his punishment on the official form, Filch is distracted by a loud bang from above them which gets him out of the room before finishing, he believing the poltergeist Peeves was making the ruckus, Harry not fond of the ghost, but relieved by his good timing. Harry does the honest thing though, and waits for Filch to return, he noticing a letter on his desk which seemed to be a beginner’s guide to charms. Harry quickly returns the letter to envelope when he hears Filch returning, but forgets to put it back close enough to where he found it, Filch noticing and putting the letter in his desk, Harry denies having read it, but Filch shows his anger and embarrassment, letting Harry go without reprimand, Harry taking the opportunity and dashing out. Nearly Headless Nick stops him to learn if his plan had worked, he having convinced Peeves to drop the cabinet they’d heard, Harry thanking him and wanting to assist with Nearly Headless Nick’s problem with the Headless Hunt, Nick realizing Harry could by attending his 500th death-day party and relate to the man in charge of the Hunt Admissions, Sir Patrick, of Nick’s scary magnificence, Harry agreeing even though the day coincided with Halloween.

Harry then mentions the trio’s invite, Hermione intrigued with the prospect, Ron not as impressed since he was overloaded with homework and had other unfavorable tasks to deal with. Harry then plans on sharing the letter in Filch’s office, but is distracted by Fred and George’s experiment with a fire lizard and some fireworks. When Halloween arrives, Harry is second-guessing his hasty decision to attend Nick’s death-day after seeing and hearing the festivities for the school feast, but Hermione insists on they keeping their word, walking past the Great Hall, to the dungeons. The path was lined with black candles with blue flame, Nick greeting them at the entrance and the group hearing strange music and then seeing through guests dancing and chatting. Hermione spots Moaning Myrtle, relating to the boys the trouble she’s been making in one of the girls bathrooms, it now being out of order, they instead checking out the buffet, which consisted of rotten or charred food. When they were turning to walk away, Peeves gets in their way, having overheard what Hermione had said about Myrtle, calling her over, and Hermione making nice, but Peeves egging on a disaster, Myrtle not taking Hermione’s hopeful compliment well, especially when the boys halfheartedly agree, Myrtle crying her way out as Peeves antagonizes her. Nick approaches after, the group having to lie about having a good time and he preparing for his speech, when Sir Patrick makes his lively entrance, Harry doing as Nick asked and being called out by Sir Patrick, Nick then attempting to give his speech, but being overshadowed by Patrick’s flash game of Head Hockey, the trio taking this moment to ditch, but as they return upstairs, Harry hearing the death-threatening words again and has Hermione and Ron following him up to the Great Hall, and then to the first floor, where Hermione is first to notice a message written on the wall, and Ron spotting a stiff and unmoving Mrs. Norris, Harry tentatively suggesting they should help, but unable to retreat like Ron wishes when the feast had obviously ended, students heading their way and noticing the message, Malfoy spouting of Mudbloods being next and looking exhilarated by the scene.

Filch is next to view Mrs. Norris, he horrified, and spotting Harry, believes he’d caused her death, spouting threats, but being cut off by Dumbledore, whom has Filch, Harry, Hermione, and Ron come with him to Lockhart’s office. Dumbledore starts studying Mrs. Norris along with McGonagall, and Snape, Lockhart not helping with his idle chatter of his ability to help if having been there sooner to apply the counter-curse, Harry hoping Dumbledore didn’t believe Filch’s accusation for knowing his education at Hogwarts would be over. Dumbledore though, seemed to be testing different spells on Mrs. Norris, and interrupts Lockhart sharing another story of his bright, helpful ideas when they learn Mrs. Norris wasn’t dead, only Petrified. Filch was still convinced Harry caused her fate, Harry having to defend himself even after Dumbledore shares it was far too advanced for a student. Snape piping up with asking why he hadn’t attended the Halloween feast and after not at least going in to eat, Harry struggling with a good excuse since he had led Hermione and Ron upstairs because of a voice only he heard not sounding applicable, he deciding to answer with they being sleepy, but Snape seeming dubious to they going to bed without supper. Snape then offers a punishment to Harry which would make him be forthcoming with the truth (I grew up with people of similar model), but Dumbledore, even if believing Harry wasn’t confessing all, wouldn’t punish him unless he were proven the culprit, Snape quite displeased. When Filch was ready to melt down again, Dumbledore reminds him Professor Sprout could get the ingredients necessary to make a potion to revive her, Lockhart offering to make it, but Snape stepping in with he being the Potions master, Dumbledore then allowing Harry and friends to be dismissed, they hurrying out, Harry asking if he should have been truthful and discussing what the message on the wall could mean, Ron supporting Harry’s decision and the message about a chamber sounding familiar, but the group ending it there once Ron explained what a squib was in reference to Filch, they not wanting to run into Snape in the hall, and going off to bed.

The next few days, students were still gossiping about it, Filch not helping by standing vigil at the scene of the Petrifying, the message not succumbing to cleaning. Hermione was acting oddly by reading constantly and not being receptive to conversation anymore, Harry learning why the next week when Justin, from Hufflepuff acts strangely by walking back the way he’d come rather than greeting Harry, the latter going into the library and asking Ron if he’d seen Hermione, she making herself known and seeming ready to speak with them, albeit not looking pleased at the moment. She begins by stating her frustration over the book Hogwarts: A History being unavailable and she having to leave her copy at home because of all the Lockhart books, she needing it for the bit on the Chamber of Secrets. Ron changes the subject when asking Hermione for a look at her homework, the two squabbling over it as the trio walk to their only ghost taught class. Everyone who attended was consistently bored stupid, but Hermione came up with a decent idea by asking their history lecturer about the Chamber. Professor Binns skirts the answering by replying he only entertaining (except not to the students, ha-ha) definite truths, but Hermione again interrupting with how the “legend” could be based on truth, Binns finally giving in once he saw how much interest the class was showing for once. Binns goes over the general history of Hogwarts beginnings before sharing how the legend began with Slytherin supposedly adding a hidden chamber none of the other founders knew about. After the telling, Binns reiterates its nonsense, Hermione asking of the sort of “horror within” mentioned inside the Chamber, Binns responding of it supposedly being a monster only the heir to Slytherin can control and would be the cause of expelling all unworthy students from Hogwarts. Once Binns had enough of the theories on how Slytherin could have hidden the Chamber though, he continues his mind-numbing lecture.

Harry sensed a rumor must be going around of he possibly being the Slytherin heir. When they reach the corridor where Mrs. Norris was found, Harry decides a quick looky-loo couldn’t hurt, he spotting some scorch marks, Hermione noticing a clutter of spiders fighting their way through a crack in the wall, Ron relating a story of why he hated spiders, Harry then remembering the water on the floor before, and the group then entering Moaning Myrtle’s territory after Hermione reminds them of no one likely being inside for the Out-of-Order sign, once within, noting its somber atmosphere. Hermione goes to speak with Myrtle whom doesn’t take the boys’ presence sitting down. Ha,ha. She gets more upset when she thinks they’re talking behind her back when Harry was mouthing for Hermione to ask about if Myrtle knew anything about the Chamber, etc. When Hermione does finally get the question out, Myrtle hadn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary the other night due to being upset over Peeves, she again getting worked up over being reminded she was dead, leaving the three wet with toilet water from her exit. The three are heading out when they’re found by Percy, he not amused at all and taking on his mother’s tone. Ron and Percy argue over how upset all this is making Ginny and they should be currently at dinner, when Percy ends the fight by taking five points from them, thinking it would be a good incentive for not getting a P.I. state of mind. When they were back in the common area, Ron was annoyed over his homework igniting by his wand, and Hermione frustrated over whom could be causing all of the trouble. Ron passive-aggressively mentions Malfoy, Harry supporting the possibility. Hermione then shares an idea which would give them the proof, it being to charm themselves into looking like Slytherin students and get Malfoy to confess without knowing. Hermione then admits getting the recipe could be difficult since the book was most likely in the Restricted Section of the library. The three then discuss how they’d manage obtaining permission, it not ending in agreement.

Lockhart stuck to reading aloud and acting out the more “exciting” scenes since live examples didn’t work out so well for him, Harry normally getting dragged in to play the minor roles. The latest call up would’ve been met with firm refusal if Harry didn’t have an ulterior motive this time, so he played along and when the bell rang to end class, Hermione, Ron, and Harry wait for everyone to leave before approaching Lockhart, Hermione asking for him to consent permission for she to be allowed access to the restricted book, Lockhart readily agreeing when she mentioned it regarding one of his books. Lockhart then offers Harry his vast knowledge on Quidditch if he so chose, essentially making it seem Harry was inept at the game, Harry not responding other than a vague growl. The three spoke of how lucky they were Lockhart hadn’t noticed the book they were after, Ron bad-mouthing Lockhart, and Hermione vehemently defending him again. They head straight to the library, Hermione having trouble letting go of the celebrity professor’s note when the librarian reaches for it, but Ron has her let it go, knowing another autograph would be a dime a dozen for Lockhart. The librarian retrieves the book for them, and they head out, trying to look nonchalant. They set up in Myrtle’s bathroom, knowing no one would bother them, the book’s illustrations and spells immediately made clear why it was only upon request. Hermione discovers the page they needed, Harry attempting optimism the artist was exaggerating the looks of pain during transformation. Hermione began listing off the items they needed, some easy to acquire, others not so much. Harry voiced his doubts on the amount of ingredients needing to be nicked, Hermione stating her views on not ever wanting to break rules, but believing uncovering the culprit threatening the Muggle-born an important issue, and if they wanted to back out she’d return the book. Ron was surprised Hermione was basically giving permission to be bad for once, and would go through with the acquisition as long as the part of the people they took wasn’t toenail related. Hermione, pleased with Ron’s decision, then calculates how long it would take to ready the elixir, it being a month, Ron complaining how terrible acts could occur in such a span, but supports the plan when Hermione gives him a scathing look, he then suggesting Harry could make this easier if he could set up a fall for Malfoy during their game the next day.

On the morning of the match,Harry thought about how Oliver would take another loss which made Harry uneasy, as well as the prospect of facing off with a team on speedster brooms. He gets up and goes to an early breakfast, seeing the other members of his team already there, everyone quiet. the student body and staff beginning to take seats on the field, Harry receiving wishes of luck from Ron and Hermione as he entered the locker room, and everyone getting ready, Oliver making his speech, talking up their team’s talent and relentless practicing, he then ordering Harry to stay on top of getting the Snitch “or die trying”. They go onto the field and the game begins, Harry quickly getting higher than the others, Malfoy mouthing off and humming-birding around on his broom. Harry then quickly maneuvering around a Bludger which barely misses him, and when George whacks it at a Slytherin, it again re-aims at Harry, this continuing to recur, Harry flying off in another direction where Fred gives it a whack, but it still going after Harry. The Slytherins were in the lead now, Fred and George sticking to Harry to swat at the Bludger. The twins finally get Oliver’s attention to call a Time-Out, they sharing why they weren’t able to back up another team mate, they believing someone had tampered with the Bludger, but Oliver knowing the Bludgers had been in a professor’s office locked up, and nothing was amiss with them before. Harry insists Oliver command George and Fred to let him deal with the Bludger himself since he didn’t have a chance getting the Snitch with them hanging about him, Oliver eventually agreeing and the game continuing. Harry shoots off, dodging the Bludger and presumably looking ridiculous whilst doing so, after awhile of this, Malfoy makes a smart remark and laughs so hard he doesn’t notice the Snitch by his ear, but Harry had, he not moving in time to dodge the Bludger, and feeling his arm break, but then lunges at Malfoy, fighting the pain, Malfoy looking scared for the quick confrontation, swerving out of the way, Harry feeling his grasp on the Snitch as he balanced on his broom, no hands, and heading for the earth, close to unconsciousness, but realizing Gryffindor had won before passing out, awaking on the ground with Lockhart above him, he moaning and protesting loudly, Lockhart conveying his conviction on fixing Harry’s arm, Harry firmly stating his not wanting this, and shouting at Colin of not needing “photographic memories”Eduardoof this moment, but after Lockhart did his worst, Harry didn’t feel his arm anymore, and Colin was on a picture-taking rampage. When Harry looks, he slowly understands his bones weren’t there anymore, Lockhart playing it off like this sometimes occurred, Ron and Hermione taking him to Madam Pomfrey’s hospital wing, she enraged by they not having come to her as soon as it happened, the growing back of bones taking more time, and painful, he having to stay the night, and Hermione still sticking up for Lockhart’s mistake. When Pomfrey leaves, Ron brings up the look on Malfoy’s face when Harry had caught the Snitch, Harry saying they’d have to remember to ask him how he set up the Bludger in response to Hermione wondering this out loud. Then the Gryffindor team busted in with refreshments and good times to drown out Harry’s upcoming pain when Pomfrey kicks everyone out so Harry can go through his pain alone. Harry awakens in the night, startled by what he thought was the splintering pain in his arm, until he realized Dobby was sponging his forehead and looking upset. Dobby then not only admits his disappointment in Harry getting to school, but also being the cause for the train station barrier locking them out, Dobby surprised Harry had still been able to get to Hogwarts. Harry angrily threatens Dobby with physical violence unless he left, but Dobby made clear this was a usual occurrence in his day, Harry losing some steam for Dobby’s unfortunate appearance. Harry then asks why he wore a pillowcase, Dobby explaining the terms of his enslavement, and then revealing he being the culprit of the Bludger, Harry’s anger renewed. Dobby attempts to explain the reason for he trying to get Harry sent home being due to the hope Harry brought to Dobby’s kind, but then lets loose with mention of the Chamber of Secrets, Dobby immediately reprimanding himself. Harry attempts to coax Dobby into divulging who had opened the Chamber, Dobby unable to, and only repeating Harry should leave for the extreme danger. Dobby is interrupted by noises outside, Dumbledore and McGonagall carrying a statue to a bed, McGonagall fetches Pomfrey whom was surprised and asking what had happened, Dumbledore announcing it was a second attack, the boy presumably attempting to sneak up to see Harry, and Harry getting a glimpse of Colin, McGonagall having various questions of what could be happening, and whether Colin had captured his attacker with a snapshot, but when Dumbledore checks, the film is destroyed, Dumbledore relating of this being a sign the Chamber was open again and how this could be.

Sunday morning, Harry’s awakened by bright sunlight, his arm not flexible, but all bones accounted for, he noticing Colin’s bed was blocked by curtains, Pomfrey bringing his breakfast and testing his arm’s mobility. He was allowed to leave when he was finished eating, Harry going off to Gryffindor Tower, but his buddies unfound, disappointed they didn’t seem to care about how he was, but also wanting to share what he’d learned about Colin and Dobby. Harry runs into Percy coming out of the library seeming to have a lighter step than recently apprised. Percy mentions the points Harry had gotten for his win, the latter then inquiring if he’d seen the duo, Percy responding to the negative and hoping they weren’t hanging about anymore girls restrooms, Harry making light of this and going straight to Myrtle’s spot, immediately hearing his friends chattering in a stall, and upon announcing himself, still surprising them, and once entering the stall, viewing they had a cauldron set over the toilet, a waterproof fire inside, Hermione’s forté, he also finally able to answer about his arm being in working order. Hermione shares how they’d heard their hiding spot was being uncovered so figured they’d better get a move on with the potion, Harry also sharing his story about Dobby, the group now even more curious about the Chamber and Malfoy’s possible relation to its opening.

By Monday the school had heard of Colin’s state, people more cautious, Ginny shaken since she sat by him in one of her classes, and Neville buying charms to ward away danger. After, during the second week of December, Harry, Ron, and Hermione were signing the sheet to stay at school for the holidays, seeing and suspicious of Malfoy also being on the list, they thinking it’d be an apt time to implement the potion and also swipe the remaining ingredients from Snape’s office, Harry not looking forward to the adventure. Hermione first to suggest a plan where they would supply a diversion so one of them could get into Snape’s office, Harry and Ron looking apprehensive, since Hermione then adds she needed to be the one to pillage since the boys already were so close to severe punishment, Harry thinking about the difficulty this raised when it came to intentional acts of havoc in Snape’s presence, but when the day arrived, Harry awaited Hermione’s signal nervously, when it comes, readying a firework to drop inside Malfoy’s lackey, Goyle’s cauldron, making his target, and the potion covering most of the class, Hermione in and out with no problem, Snape addressing all who had been hit, then vowing to expel the trouble-maker if ever discovered. Harry certain Snape knew he was guilty, Ron attempting to ease his mind with the thought of Snape unable to prove it, and they watched Hermione complete their potion when class let out, it now going to be two weeks before they could test it.

A week goes by when a flyer for a Dueling Club was posted, many students excited to check it out, the trio deciding to go, as well. Hermione wondered whom the instructor would be, they getting double the fun when Lockhart and Snape step forward. Lockhart begins with how Snape would assist him before class began, he allowing Snape knowing “a tiny little bit” about dueling, the demonstration starting. Lockhart gave a play by play until Snape’s first spell left his mouth, leaving Lockhart in a heap at the wall. Lockhart recovers and explains how transparent Snape’s choice had been and allowed him to go through with it so the students would see what it could do (It’s so sad I have family this bumpkin-like *sigh*), Snape not taking kindly to this, so Lockhart and he begin setting up couples of students to practice, Snape reaching Ron, Harry, and Hermione first and pairing Harry, of course with Malfoy, whilst the other two got forgettable students. When everyone began, Lockhart had unleashed mayhem by having all the students start at once, everyone taking down the other, Harry and Malfoy among them, Lockhart stopping all vocally, but Snape allowing this by disarming everyone’s spells, Hermione last since her partner had taken to physical combat, Harry struggling to help Hermione get out of a headlock with a Slytherin girl. Lockhart had picked two students to demonstrate how to block hostile fire, but Snape vetoes by offering the better choice of Malfoy and Harry, Snape instructing Malfoy, but Harry having the moron show him what to do, he gesturing with his wand seemingly in a meaningless way, so when Malfoy fired, Harry did nothing, but watch as a snake exploded from the tip of the wand, Snape offering to get rid of it, but Lockhart stepping in, he only angering it, and it turning to another student, Harry then yelling for it to leave the boy, Justin alone, he upset about it, and storming out. Ron urges Harry to get down and leads him out as students whispered and Snape looked intrigued, Hermione and Ron sharing what the name of a snake-talker was, and Harry sharing his first experience doing it, thinking others must have the gift, as well, Ron explaining the rarity of it, and this being bad news. Once Ron mentions how Harry seemed to be urging the snake to do its worst, Harry explains what he had said and didn’t even know he was speaking Parseltongue, Hermione divulging how it seemed Harry was somehow related to Slytherin and it would be difficult to prove otherwise.

Harry was having difficulty sleeping because of how little he knew of his father’s family. He then decides he’d explain to Justin when he saw him in class the next day, but class was canceled due to a blizzard, and Hermione urged him to go locate him if it was vital, so Harry goes, checking the library, he seeing some Hufflepuffs from the canceled class and was ready to ask them where Justin was when he began overhearing parts of their conversation and stayed out of sight in the Invisibility Section (ha-ha, Rowling), he learning the boy speaking, Ernie had advised Justin to stay in their dormitory if Harry was after him, Ernie hard-pressed to believe Harry was a good snake-talking wizard. Harry heard all he could take after Ernie began supposing what had happened with his run-in with Voldemort, and made his presence known, pretty mad, but asking after Justin, he sort of explaining what happened in the Dueling Club, but getting more angered the longer Ernie made excuses in support of Harry being a dark wizard, Harry leaving and running into Hagrid, whom was on business to ask permission to charm the hen coop so no more chickens could be attacked by an unknown creature, Harry then playing off why he was upset and instead going off to retrieve his books for his next class, a darkened corridor robbed of light because of a windowpane and wind getting through, a torch going out, Harry tripping over Justin, and seeing Nearly Headless Nick with the same shocked, expression, also immobile, Harry now debating whether to get someone to help or flee, knowing what people would think. Peeves then turns up and plays with Harry until he notices the bodies, belting out a wallop of an alarm, classes emptying, McGonagall restoring order, and Ernie again, literally this time, pointing the finger at Harry, McGonagall putting a stop to it, as well as Peeves’ wonderful little song about the trouble, Ernie fanning Nick presumably to the hospital wing and McGonagall escorting Harry to a hidden passage where he soon guesses Dumbledore stays.

When they reach the top, McGonagall knocks at the door, the two entering, then McGonagall advising Harry stay where he was, he viewing the place as quite interesting (Q.I. shout out! Harry…Daniel Radcliffe is a fan, too), and would’ve been happy to take a closer look if he didn’t believe he was about to be kicked out of school. Harry caught sight of the Sorting Hat and learns a bit more of the Hat’s insight on the choice of Gryffindor over Slytherin, he taking it off before he hears anymore due to not wanting to discover the reasons why he would’ve excelled in Slytherin, the puss, but then he hears a noise and discovers a sick looking bird, what startles him is when it goes up in flames. Dumbledore details the bird’s breed, Fawkes rising from the ashes, Harry temporarily side-tracked by this before being brought back to reality by the steady gaze of Dumbledore, before either can proceed though, Hagrid bursts in with his dead rooster, and immediately speaks on Harry’s behalf about the boy found having no connection to Harry since he’d been speaking with him so recently beforehand, he not allowing Dumbledore a word until he rose his voice to state they having the same opinion, Hagrid feeling foolish and returning to wait outside the room. Dumbledore inquires whether Harry had anything to admit, he going over all the troubling thoughts he’d had since the start of school, and declining anything was pressing. Next is the reactions to everyone to Nearly Headless Nick’s condition, most people leaving for the holiday, Harry content with this since being a pariah. Fred and George had fun clearing hallways on Harry’s behalf which didn’t amuse Percy or Ginny, she not liking the dark humor. Ron mentions how Malfoy not being pleased with Fred and George’s jokes was due to his jealousy for Harry getting the credit, which Hermione then changes the subject to the Polyjuice being almost ready for use.

The Weasley’s, Harry, and Hermione were able to mess about with a game called Exploding Snap, only Percy above joining in. Then on Christmas morning, Hermione wakes the boys with presents and the good news of the potion being done, they trying it out when evening came. Harry then gets a visit from Hedwig with a package consisting of a toothpick and note inquiring if he could stay through Summer, as well, by, guess who? Harry also receives fudge from Hagrid, a Quidditch book from Ron, an eagle feather quill from Hermione, and a hand-knit sweater and plum cake from Mrs. Weasley, her card bringing back guilt about the car, which hadn’t returned from the woods. Fortunately, Christmas dinner eased any anxiety they would’ve had in relation to using the Polyjuice. Dumbledore starting the group in singing carols, Percy’s badge being changed to read “Pinhead”, and Harry not bothered by Malfoy attempting to put down his sweater, since boy, did they have plans for him. Hermione started the planning after third-dessert, what with needing Crabbe and Goyle items, plus a way to keep them preoccupied, she seeming to have set them up what with already having sleep potion-laden chocolate cakes ready for the Neanderthal team to discover, she planning on using hair left by the Slytherin girl during her close proximity in Dueling Club. Ron was unsure how much this plan had a chance for success, but first part of acquiring hair had gone well, Harry and Ron booking it to Myrtle’s, Hermione nervously going over the instructions, they each taking their potions to separate stalls for size-changing reasons, then all drinking at the same time.

Harry’s transformation definitely wasn’t a sleigh ride, he and Ron ready to go, but Hermione insisting she couldn’t join, the boys going off and having difficulty locating the Slytherin common room. They go down some dungeon steps, eventually running into Percy, Ron speaking to him familiarly, and Percy responding by demanding they get to their common room, Harry glad to see Malfoy approach them, he also asking why Percy was down there, Percy taking offense, again, the three walking around the corner, and Malfoy gossiping about how Percy had been snooping around a lot, Malfoy thinking he was trying to catch the Slytherin heir by himself, he then saying the password to the Slytherin common room where he motioned for Harry and Ron to sit whilst he got the item his father had sent which he thought was hilarious, he coming back with an article about Ron’s father and how he’d been fined for bewitching the car, and Lucius having asked for Mr. Weasley to resign. After Malfoy gives his own opinion about the Weasley’s, he moves on to Dumbledore and how he’d have to catch the cause of the trouble soon or he’d get fired, he making fun of Colin at his expense, and then leaving no doubt he didn’t know whom was doing these deeds or opened the Chamber, only knowing how long ago it had last been opened, and hoping for a Muggle death like last time, he happily mentioning Hermione being victim. He then also reveals where his father had hid all their Dark Arts memorabilia, Ron making a noise of surprise and Harry noticing how he was changing, the two dashing out with Ron giving the excuse of an upset stomach, they returning to Myrtle’s. Ron was planning on sending word to his father about the one piece of good news, he then rapping on Hermione’s stall to share the details, but she didn’t want to come out, Myrtle sounding way too gleeful, and when she does finally show her furry face, the boys urge her to go to the hospital wing.

Hermione is sequestered in the hospital wing for some weeks, when students return to realize she’s missing, they think she’d been another victim, Pomfrey soon having to put a curtain around her bed since she didn’t need to be embarrassed by her fuzz face every time someone decided to rubberneck, during these days Ron and Harry come to visit each night to drop off homework, she asking if any progress had been made, no reports available, Ron spotting a book under her pillow, and reading the inscription by Lockhart, to Ron’s distaste, Pomfrey then interrupting with medicine, and the boys leave, hearing a loud angry voice sounding like Filch, the boys wait to hear more, and when he’d gone, they view a flood at Myrtle’s bathroom, they investigating, Myrtle sounding more upset than usual, she explaining of a book having been thrown at her, she directing them where it was in the bathroom, Harry ready to retrieve it when Ron discourages him for all the horror stories he’d heard from his father of worst case scenarios. Harry feigns he wouldn’t, but grabs it, learning it was T.M. Riddle’s diary from fifty years ago, Ron recognizing the name for the student having been honored for good deeds, and when looking inside, was disappointed when discovering no entries, but still keeping it. Hermione was released in February, Harry showing her the journal and sharing the same speculation of timing between the Chamber being opened and the age of the journal, Hermione then attempts a spell and using a Revealer as her last resort, neither working. Harry meanwhile, couldn’t place why he felt a connection to Riddle, the three looking at his awards in the trophy room the next break, only learning he’d been a Head boy, Prefect, and had a Magical Merit medal. As the weather became brighter, no more attacks had happened and the Mandrakes would soon be ready for stewing, but Harry was still getting accusing looks from Ernie, and Lockhart explains to McGonagall his imagined role in stopping the attacks as class let out. He also hints of a “moral-booster” to be revealed later, and on the 14th of Feb., as Harry was making his way quickly to breakfast a bit late for not sleeping well due to a late Quidditch practice, was met by the confusing sight of big, pink flowers, and confetti-shaped hearts, Ron looking nauseous and Hermione amused.

Lockhart greets the room with a “Happy Valentine’s”, and promises more surprises, McGonagall and Snape not looking overjoyed by the decorations. The other “gift” Lockhart had planned, walked in with harps and wings, he introducing his Valentine card-giving dwarves making deliveries for the rest of the day, Harry getting trapped by one whilst walking to his next class, to his shame, and as Harry attempts to escape when the dwarf grabs his bag to make him stay, it rips, all of his school items falling out. The dwarf then sang the telegram, Malfoy one of those to hear it, Percy attempting to help get the group of students to keep moving to class, Malfoy spotting Riddle’s diary and believing it was Harry’s, but before he could take a look, Harry disengages the book from Malfoy’s grasp with a spell, Percy now having to report it. When Harry and Ron had gotten to their Charms class, Harry detects how everything but the diary had been ink-soaked, Ron too preoccupied with his wand oozing big, purple bubbles. When evening came, Harry retires early to examine the diary, as well as escape hearing the Valentine tune sung at him by Fred and George. Harry then tests the diary with an inkblot, it getting sucked into it and disappearing, he then writing a greeting with his name, it also being sucked in, and a reply coming from Tom Riddle, asking how he’d gotten his diary.

As Harry continued with this chat, Riddle revealed how his diary held dark memories about Hogwarts, Harry learning more about the first time the Chamber was opened and why Riddle had received his medal, Harry then informing of the Chamber’s reopening and when asking whom had opened it the first time, Riddle offers to show Harry the memory, the book flipping to June 13th, and as a picture formed like watching a movie, Harry is thrust into the scene of Dumbledore’s office, Harry apologizing to the man sitting at the desk for bursting in, but he taking no notice, allowing a knocker at the door to enter, Riddle coming in and sitting, Dippet regarding Riddle’s letter he’d written in hopes of staying at Hogwarts over Summer, since he lived in a children’s home, he sharing some of his origin. Dippet states it may have been possible if not for the attacks, they still not knowing who is causing it. After Riddle was dismissed, Harry follows, he sensing Riddle had made a decision, rushing off, and running into Dumbledore whom advised him to get to his dorm, Riddle continuing on to the dungeons, and going to the room Harry had his Potions class, Riddle waiting for what seemed an hour to Harry, then hearing someone in the corridor. Riddle following quietly, then going around the corner where Harry struggles to identify Hagrid attempting to coax, what they soon learn, is a large spider into a box, Riddle informing Hagrid he’d have to report it, then trying to kill it with a spell, but Hagrid overpowering him, Harry then returned to his room, Ron coming in, asking what was wrong when he saw Harry’s face, and he confiding whom he believed had opened the Chamber the first time.

Due to the three knowing Hagrid’s penchant for unusual and dangerous pets, they didn’t put it past him wanting to reign in the ginormous spider, but Harry also was aware Hagrid wouldn’t want to cause any innocent’s death. After sharing the story of what he’d seen repetitively, he became tired of having the same conversations about it, Hermione attempting to reason of Riddle potentially getting the facts confused, but Harry reminding them they knew Hagrid had been kicked out for some reason. Hermione being the one to suggest they go to Hagrid to see if he corroborates the story. They decide to wait the awkward exchange until another attack was made, but four months down the road, all was quiet, the song Peeves had made up getting old, even Ernie becoming cordial, and in March, Sprout happy some of the Mandrakes were quite close to maturity. Then, during Easter holiday, the second years were given the list of choices for classes during their third year, Hermione checking off everything, Harry getting advice from Percy to choose according to his strengths, but Harry not feeling certain about anything other than Quidditch, so follows Ron’s lead, taking the same classes. Quidditch practice resumed nightly, but Harry was confident with their ability to win against Hufflepuff. As he goes toward the dorms, Neville looks frantic about showing Harry what had happened to his belongings, everything strewn about, Ron noting someone was searching for something, and Harry realizing Riddle’s diary was taken, and when they share the news with Hermione in the common room, they contemplate whom among the Gryffindor’s would want it.

The next morning, Harry sat with his Quidditch team wondering if he was in the room with the thief, he not wanting to report the theft like Hermione suggested due to the delicate details involved. As Harry returned from breakfast to gather his Quidditch equipment with Ron and Hermione, he yelled when hearing the voice speaking death threats again, Hermione coming to a realization and dashing to the library, Ron reminding him of the time, and Harry retrieving his gear, getting ready for the match as everyone was taking seats and warming up on the field, McGonagall with a megaphone, then announces of they cancelling the match, amid boos, and everyone returning to their common rooms where the Heads of Houses would dictate further instructions. McGonagall then had Harry follow her, she not turning Ron away when he tagged along, they being led to the hospital wing to discover Hermione and a Ravenclaw girl, the next victims, a mirror found with them, the boys confessing nothing, and McGonagall escorting them back with plans on speaking with the rest of the Gryffindors. She lists the new rules and earlier hours to be spent in common rooms, hoping anyone with information will come forward, otherwise the school would be closed, she visibly upset. When she exits, everyone was disgruntled by the news, Harry announcing to Ron it was time to go to Hagrid. Harry determines his Invisibility Cloak would need to be utilized, they having to navigate through corridors busier with staff and prefects patrolling in pairs, Harry and Ron making it to Hagrid’s door undetected.

When the door opened with Hagrid aiming a crossbow at them, Harry inquires about it, he dodging an answer and setting up tea, but becoming visibly to be parting at the seams when serving them boiling water with no teabags, a knock interrupting them, Harry and Ron moving to a corner of the room, back under the cloak, Dumbledore entering with Ron’s father’s boss, Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, Hagrid collapsing in a chair, and Dumbledore backing Hagrid up on his innocence, but Fudge insisting Hagrid had to be detained, if found innocent, released, regardless Fudge needing to show some action being done, Hagrid worriedly asking if he’d be taken to Azkaban, but an answer not given for another knock at the door, Lucius Malfoy entering, Fang and Hagrid bristling at his presence, but Lucius there with a suspension for Dumbledore, Fudge protesting due to the timing, Hagrid making the oath Dumbledore would be the only one capable to stop whatever the monster is if it began taking lives, but Dumbledore acquiescing to the suspension without a fight, only noting those who favored him would make it seem like he hadn’t left, and Dumbledore saying something else which seemed aimed at Harry and Ron, Hagrid doing the same with his advice to follow the spiders, everyone exiting, Hagrid also loudly stating someone would need to feed Fang, Ron mentioning how their dark days would soon be darker without Dumbledore.

Even though Summer was settling in, the school was thrust into a feeling of unease, Ron and Harry now no longer able to visit Hermione since it was banned for the thought of the attacker returning for them. Dumbledore’s presence, as well as Hagrid’s were severely missed, Malfoy again using his fat mouth to talk loudly about his thoughts of Dumbledore and Hermione in Potions. When they’d gone to Herbology, Harry received an apology from Ernie, Ron and Harry noticing the spiders again, the gaggle heading for the Forbidden Forest, the two discussing it on their way to Defense Against the Dark Arts. Ron had reservations, but Harry gave him the positive sides of the forest being the centaurs and unicorns, Lockhart rushing in like he was providing sunshine and rainbows, the usual attitude of the teachers being subdued. Lockhart then states how the grim looks were unnecessary since believing Hagrid was guilty, this annoying the two, Ron consenting to go for Hermione after sitting through his nonsense. The boys had to wait well past midnight before the common room emptied, they retrieving Fang, leaving the cloak at Hagrid’s since it was dark enough in the forest, and Harry soon spotting two spiders leading them into the forest and eventually off the path.

They walk for at least a half hour as the denseness of their trek thickens, until Fang barks, scaring the boys, but something big ahead of them. After a little time passes, lights turn on at them, startling them again until Ron realizes it’s his father’s car gone native. After Ron approaches it, and sees what the car was illuminating behind Harry, his unbridled fear was plain on his face, Harry, Ron, and Fang all picked up and carried deeper into the forest. When they enter a clearing, Harry sees an army of gigantic spiders, they dropping them to await Aragog, and Harry recovering his voice to share they knew Hagrid, as Aragog commands their deaths when learning it wasn’t Hagrid, himself. Aragog thought the trouble with the Chamber had resolved years ago, once Harry related Hagrid’s trouble, Harry also learning how Hagrid had gotten and cared for Aragog. When Harry suggests he and Ron would leave them alone now, since Aragog refused to confide what the monster was, Aragog denies the idea, but the boys saved by the car, it leaving them at the edge of the forest, retreating back to whence it came. Ron is sick, and Fang’s under his doggy covers when Harry gets his cloak, one upside to their trip was in knowing now Hagrid wasn’t responsible for the Chamber opening. Later, Harry realizes whom the girl which had been killed all those years ago could be.

Whilst Harry and Ron waited for the right time to go see Myrtle, a shock of exams still coming up leaves their whole Transfiguration class in irritated grumbles. Good news was coming though, when McGonagall shares of the Mandrakes ready for plucking, so they may soon know more on the monster and or the one who opened the Chamber. Then an encounter with Ginny, whom was searching for the courage to share something which seemed to have frightened her, gets scared off by Percy, asking for her seat, he waving off the news she could’ve been about to share as something he’d hoped she’d keep to herself (the boys alluding to Percy wanking). Then Harry and Ron get their moment to see Myrtle when convincing Lockhart they were fine to walk the rest of the way to their next class, they home free until McGonagall runs into them, Harry making a quick excuse of they wanting to see Hermione, McGonagall surprisingly receptive. So instead of going to Myrtle, they go see Hermione, Harry noticing she was gripping a piece of paper in her hand, when reading it, he understanding why he’d been hearing the voice, also learning what defeated the creature. The two lay out all the missing pieces, they going to the teachers lounge with plans to confess what they’d found, but when hearing a message from McGonagall informing the students to return to their dorms, and teachers to the break room, Harry decides they’d hide in the closet, hear what was going on, and then share their news.

When the teachers arrive, they learn the monster took a student, a new message left, and the one taken, Ginny. Lockhart pops in, missing all this, but Snape mentions how it was his moment to shine, all the teachers having something to say about his boastful and arrogant comments, Lockhart off to his office to ‘ready’ himself, then McGonagall noting the Head of Houses should instruct the students on preparations to go home the next day, in the afternoon. Everyone was silent and solemn, the Weasleys the most, Ron suggesting they go to Lockhart in the evening and share with him what they knew. They catch Lockhart mid-flurry of packing up, the two getting more angry when he finally admits to stealing the credit of all the true stories he wrote about. When he was ready to leave and planning on using a Memory Charm on the boys, Harry disarms him and commands him to join them in their next move. They go to Myrtle’s, she gladly sharing her death story, and where she saw the eyes. Upon closer inspection, Harry sees a snake symbol, he able to speak Parceltongue for the moment necessary to open it, Lockhart unsuccessfully excusing himself, the two allowing him to go first, they all landing deep below the school. As they walked further, Harry sees what ends up being a giant snake skin, Lockhart then lunging at Ron, taking his wand to attempt his memory spell, it backfiring so hard the ceiling collapses and separates Ron and Lockhart from Harry. Ron decides to move rocks whilst Harry attempted to locate Ginny. He gets to another daunting blocked passage with two snakes with emerald eyes adorning it, Harry speaking snake once more to get it open, he nervously entering.

More serpent carvings within the room, plus the dimness of the place made it difficult to see the “monster” or Ginny, the place not giving off any defining sounds other than his footsteps, when he got further into the space, he sees Ginny at the feet of a statue depicting a wizard. When Harry shakes her to see if she’ll wake, it doesn’t work, and Riddle voices the reality, Harry seeing a fuzzy-around-the-edges body. Tom then points to the diary as the reason he was there, Harry upon lifting Ginny talks of they needing to leave before the basilisk came, Riddle replying it wouldn’t until summoned, Harry then looking for his wand, noticing Riddle had it, but still not putting together why Tom wouldn’t hand it to him. Riddle having been waiting to speak with Harry for some time, he sharing of how tolerant he’d been in biding his time with Ginny, how he’d set up Hagrid, Dumbledore not trusting him from the beginning, and wanting to know how Harry defeated Voldemort, Riddle finally revealing his connection. Then once Harry denies Tom being greatest wizard in relation to Dumbledore’s talent, Fawkes appears with the Sorting Hat, Harry’s courage bolstered, whilst Riddle was amused by the seemingly unthreatening additions, he instead allowing Harry to confess how he could have defeated Voldemort. Harry shares what he’d learned the year before about the part his mother played in his survival, as well as the state of Voldemort, Riddle then deciding to see what Harry could do to defend himself only with Fawkes and the Hat, Tom calling for the basilisk. Harry shuts his eyes and attempts to run, but realizes after hearing the snake, but not being harmed by it, Fawkes had distracted it, plucking it’s eyes so Harry had a chance to survive. Riddle commands the snake to focus on Harry, the basilisk swinging the Hat with its tail as it turned for him, Harry puts it on, gets conked on the head with a sword inside the hat, and on the snake’s second thrust forward, Harry stabs it good, but also gets punctured. Riddle is certain Harry will die, but doesn’t “remember” what tears of a phoenix can do, he watching as Fawkes heals Harry, then deciding this way was better. Fawkes drops the diary right into his lap, Harry using the tooth to pierce the book, successfully having Tom disappear, he retrieving the sword, Ginny coming-to soon after, confessing her part and worrying about expulsion, he guiding her out. Ron had made a large enough space for the two to get through, they postponing explanations for when they fully exited the Chamber, Fawkes being their way back up the tunnel. The bird then leading them to McGonagall’s office.

Inside, the four viewed Mr. and Mrs. Weasley with Dumbledore and McGonagall, Mrs. Weasley overcome with emotion and asking how they’d saved Ginny. Harry begins with the voices he’d heard, he attempting to avoid any mention of Ginny’s manipulated part of the Chamber, to spare her any repercussions, but Dumbledore saves him from implicating her, by announcing his knowledge of she being taken over, but not uncovering how until Harry supplies with whom the diary belonged, Ginny admitting how she’d found it in one of her school books. Dumbledore then sends Ginny to the hospital wing, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley accompanying her, he then sending McGonagall to alert the kitchen staff for a feast in celebration of the danger being over, he dealing with the boys on all their rule-breaking, he giving the impression of the severity of the issue, and instead awarding their house points as well as awards for assisting the school, and once learning Lockhart had charmed himself, he has Ron show Lockhart to the infirmary so he could speak with Harry. Dumbledore states his idea of why Harry had similarities with Tom Riddle, but also the reason why he belonged in the House he chose, the sword he’d pulled from the Sorting Hat not appearing if he didn’t belong to Gryffindor House. Harry was on his way out, having been advised to go to the feast when Lucius Malfoy burst in with a bandaged Dobby following. Lucius demanded to know why Dumbledore was back, he being made aware of the members of the board having confessed of being threatened to put Dumbledore out, Dobby meanwhile, was signalling Harry, which he finally understands, and asks Lucius about when he’d slipped the diary to Ginny in the bookshop, they not able to prove it, but Dumbledore warning what would happen if Mr. Weasley discovered one of his family with a Riddle possession again, and being able to connect it to Lucius, the man leaving with Dobby, and Harry figuring a way to help the elf (it being slightly different from the film), he taking his sock off and stuffing the diary into it, and when Lucius disgustedly throws the sock down and commands Dobby to follow, Dobby states of his freedom in disbelief, since catching the sock he’d thrown away, he then protecting Harry when Lucius goes after him, Harry making Dobby promise to not save him again. At the early morning (three am-ish) feast, Hagrid shows up, McGonagall announces the cancellation of exams, to Hermione’s newly awakened horror, and of Lockhart leaving to regain his memory. When the school year ends and Harry, Ron, Hermione, Fred, George, and Ginny are on the Hogwarts express, Harry remembers the secret Percy had made Ginny not speak of, she confiding he’d been snogging with the Hufflepuff girl whom had been Petrified with Hermione, Fred and George promising they wouldn’t make fun of big bro (yeah, yeah, sure, sure) Harry giving Ron and Hermione his phone number, they going through the barrier to begin their vacations once more.

I notice how many offices of professors the boys were taken to in this one, it not being a necessarily interesting fact, only something I noticed upon review of my notes. Definitely read through quickly enough what with cycling four other books in the process, as well as my lengthy blawg entries, still enjoying the story, though so I’ll immediately begin the third!



Charlie is conveying to her father, Andy of she being tired and whether they could stop, he responding to the negative, they practically running through New York. He notices they are still being followed by a car, and decides to pick her up after she pleads to stop and seeing her exhausted condition. He was feeling like giving up, but continued on for Charlie’s sake. Andy thinks back earlier in the day when he’d attempted to withdraw from his bank account to learn it didn’t exist. As they approach a stop light, Andy considers whether he had enough power for one more “push”. He becomes desperate when he sees men vacate the car, and heading toward them, he then working his way through the waiting crowd and spotting a taxi, the men running after and claiming to be cops, he using his power of persuasion on the driver to make him believe the men were after someone else, the cabby driving away. A bit more is then given on the sorts of people which were easy “pushes”. Andy tries once more to push the cabby to believe the dollar he handed him was $500, to get them to Albany, this push giving Andy a severe pain in body and head. After placating the cabby with only enough story to keep him agreeable to driving the long distance, a flashback of how their day started is shown, learning more of Andy’s career (mirroring King’s), he being in his mid-30s, where he used to work, and what had happened to Andy’s wife, Vicky, he thinking of how she must’ve been tortured into talking.

Andy is now in a lecture at his college twelve years earlier, his future place of work. Andy’s reasons of why he had decided to take part in a Psychology experimental project held within the college is shared, he having heard about it from his roommate. The project revolved around hallucinogenic drugs being tested for the Shop. His roomie also makes clear if Andy agrees, he’ll make sure he’s picked, knowing a grad assistant working on the project. Andy decides to apply, and when going to the room for further questions needing to be filled out, he meets his future wife, whom asks to borrow his pen. After turning in his paper and receiving the day and time he’d next be scheduled, he leaves the room, but remembers his pen and waits for the girl to exit, they chat about what sort of drug they could be testing, Vicky talking of how she heard about the experiment, she having a boyfriend, but Andy offering to buy her a soda despite this, she agreeing, and the two ending up spending the day together, Vicky revealing she and her boyfriend weren’t actually “on”, they not agreeing on Vicky going through with this experiment and he not being specific as to why she shouldn’t. After Andy offers to accompany her to the appointment on the day and reassuring her it’d be fine, learning later, he’s wrong.

Andy is then awakened by the cabby, they having arrived at the airport at 12 am and Andy sporting a serious headache. He wakes Charlie so they can exit, going in to the airport so Andy could sit, an employee outside being the only witness, forgetting them after they left, but remembering when the men from the green car question him. Meanwhile Charlie is resisting the idea of having to get money, Andy attempting to explain the concept of the lesser of two evils again, he then confirming his headache being pretty bad when she asked, agreeing to look, Andy praying she’d be safe. Charlie is wandering through the airport, unnoticed, having some idea where she was going to attempt the acquiring, she knowing the “bad men” could be coming, and her dad needing quiet so he could get better. So she picks up a paper bag from a trash can and heads for the pay phones, an idea of Charlie accidentally hurting her mother with her powers being sensed, but not how, and also of her pyrokinesis along with telekinesis. She makes her way to the end phone booth, two people occupying a couple down the line, she then using her power to get the money to eject from the change slot. As she goes along, one of the callers had left, she continuing and thinking of how easy and exhilarating it was to use, needing to stay in control. Perspective of the man whom left and was walking away is shown, noticing Charlie walking off with her full paper bag, he getting some literal hot feet as he thought of literally screwing over his disgruntled girlfriend as he contemplated his good time in the Big Apple, he running for the ladies room (closer of the two choices) to put his feet out, and being followed by security.

Charlie makes it back to her dad, crying and explaining how her power had gone wild. Andy sees the commotion and states of the man being alright, Charlie explaining how she’d heard a part of the man’s conversation to suggest he was tricking his girlfriend and her power gave him rightful, but unexpected retribution. Andy convinces her of the power not going as much out of control as it had before. I then remember what had happened to Charlie’s mother in the movie. Andy gets a large bout of pain, transferring the money to his coat pockets, Charlie only having gone to a few booths for the bag getting heavy and afraid it would break, Andy deduces where they could go, landing on a place a couple miles away, they walking rather than cabbing it, for the possible trace. They begin their trek, Andy in significant pain, but walking manageably well. The men from the Shop question the security cop, and upon confessing having seen the two being chased, would have a debriefing at their headquarters along with a more induced-replay of the events from the man whom had gone aflame, destroying any hopes of carousing. The security cop, not having seen the two leave, gave suggestions as to where they could be, after the two agents had checked the airport, they figured the two could be walking around somewhere nearby and leg it back to their car. Charlie and Andy’s trek so far is given, Charlie sensing the men were close, Andy deciding they’d try to go down an embankment where the road they wanted was, but Charlie slipping and Andy following suit when trying to grab her arm.

A flashback of Andy and Vicky’s first injection for the experiment is next, Andy soon noticing the high, Vicky following suit from Andy’s perspective (but, I question). Andy then views another student’s violently bad reaction to the drug, which Andy was able to witness calmly. After carting the kid out, Andy had a conversation with an assistant, whom he began to know informational and terrible details about, seemingly caused by the drug, Vicky and he having seen this happen, but the assistant denying their vision, the two soon realizing they were communicating with each other telepathically. Due to the drug, they soon couldn’t remember what they’d seen, but vaguely, also witnessing another experimentee’s death, the two telling each other about the tragedies in their lives, Vicky giving more detail behind her breakup, but Andy not certain whether they had the conversation aloud. The two then slept, Andy awaking first with his realization of loving Vicky, then noticing his surroundings of more empty beds, except for five, and of an assistant speaking with a subject, they having a quiet conversation. When Andy is approached, he learns he’d been there two days, asking after the odd assistant and the current assistant claiming he’d hallucinated him. After Andy makes sure of the horrors he’d seen didn’t happen, being convinced by the assistant, he answers the assistant’s questions, feeling uneasy of the honest manner of the man, Vicky then waking. The two compare their visions later, Vicky having one with a man whom set up dominoes and requested her to knock them over without touching them, she obliging. Andy then confides his love for her and she reminding him of her hang ups, sometimes getting scared, he promising not to forget, they kissing and embracing one another.

Andy comes to, still sliding and seeing Charlie further down, close to the traffic, but safe, Andy hitting bottom, hard (his and the highway). They get up once more, not knowing how close the green car was to them, Andy attempting to hitch-hike to town, he thinking of when his route had taken him past the Hall they had been experimented in and stops in front of the building. He then remembering the horrors he couldn’t decide were real, he nervous to check if the doors were unlocked, but when knocking, being met by an old security guard, he paranoid it would be one of the men they were told were hallucinations. After making up a story about leaving his watch inside, the security man already attempting to turn him away, Andy gets his first taste of pushing someone, he not quite understanding what he did, but getting a headache lasting him a half hour, he then going upstairs and debating whether to drop the idea and get out of there, instead trying the knob and comforting himself with the thought of it being locked, but it opening, he going in and noticing the cots were removed and the blackboard erased, he heading for the rolled up chart, and the stain still there, he then thinking he’d heard a shoe squeak, but being interrupted by nothing, he having enough, though and bolting for the door. Andy exits out of the building without running into the security guard again.

Andy is now having to convince Vicky to join him once more in the Hall, she wishing to forget, but succeeding in getting her to the room to show her the chart, but it having been changed by then, the two leaving and not returning. In the present, the man Vicky had “hallucinated”, driving the green car, he and another of the men having worked together on the same experiment all those years ago, learning more about the victims who’d gone crazy and the fatalities. The men then discuss their plans on how they’d catch Andy and Charlie, plus back up plans in case they had found a place to stay, having deduced what the two had already done as possibilities, but testing their luck of driving and seeing them walking. Charlie and Andy catch a break when a van stops for them (the exact scenario the men knew would screw their ability to detect them), Andy managing to get the ride they need to get two towns down, their driver being a kindly young man whom Andy felt able to open up to a little, the man even offering to give them five dollars, but Andy declining, agreeing he was doing his best to look out for Charlie. When they reach a motel, the man again offers the fiver, Andy reluctantly agreeing and becoming slightly emotional with the man’s kindness, he departing some comforting words (the kind of people one hopes to meet in current society), Andy getting Charlie and he waving to the man as he drove past, Andy then having sleepy Charlie wait for him outside. He goes in, gets the room, has a scare after hearing a couple cars pass outside and not seeing Charlie where he’d left her, only to hear her snoring behind the bushes, hoping this would be the last time he’d have to wake her up, but relaying the good news of bed time. Charlie passes out quickly, but Andy, near sleep, still was dealing with his pounding head, and thoughts of how long they’d been running (a year), where the Shop men were (deducing airport), and how long before they’d reach the town they were near (possibly morning). He then has a passing paranoia of his lie to the night worker of his nonexistent car, but it passes and get a flashback of Vicky and Andy, newly parents and dealing with a smoldering baby (Jack Jack Attack, much?).

One day Andy insisted Vicky go shopping with her friends for looking worn out whilst he stayed home with a crawling Charlie, she entertaining herself by going up and down the stairs, but tripping over her teddy bear, Andy calming her, but feeling the warmth pass him as Teddy burst into flames and on the verge of spreading to the carpet underneath, Andy grabbing one of the undiscussed, but multiple purchases of fire extinguishers, putting out the fire and giving Charlie her first lesson about the Bad Things she shouldn’t do, Andy comforting her and then calling his old roomie, Quincey, he now a V.P. of an aircraft corporation. Quincey hesitantly relents to speaking of the experiment like he’s telling a fairy tale, knowing of four people left and what was going on with them, Andy now knowing at the least, they were being periodically surveilled. Vicky also having slight signs of oddity, but it being uncommon. Quincey goes on to hint, a bit obviously, of the interest a child by two of those experimented on would be, Andy catching on, and then he pondering where they could go to be safe, the green car still searching not far from them.

The Shop headquarters in Virginia and the history of the property is given and of the security being quite tight, seeing a man riding a bicycle toward the headquarters, having been identified by fingerprint at the gate. As he began passing people, the man on the bike is called Cap, and when he enters one of the homes on the property, the secretary fails to mention Wanless, the teacher in charge of the college experiment was waiting for Cap. As Cap enters his office and gets himself some coffee, he intercoms one of his employees and she mentions Wanless’ name, Cap immediately knowing the man was there waiting for him somewhere on the property, he deciding he’d make him wait all morning and if he was stubborn enough, would see him before lunch, Wanless’ competence is marked as waning and his contributions unimpressive. He makes sure of his scheduled appointment with another man was still on and then is given paperwork on a certain project, more depth on the experimentees fates through Wanless’ notes being listed, the two who had gone mad being held on a compound for the rest of their lives, four to five of the others committing suicide, and now three left, one showing no signs of abnormal behavior (other than the marked disgust of being gay).

Wanless had been made useless by a stroke he had and was aware of the possibility of Andy and Vicky having a child would need close looking after. The experiment was only given once and the results were a resounding failure, the project essentially dying and any funding given to it, being used for the surveillance, now having noticed an interesting pattern, it being more useful to them. As Cap looks at a picture taken incognito of Charlie a few years back, he thinks about the fates which could occur for her and her father, his appointment then arriving and he planning on sending the agent to the search around the airport. The agent Al, then briefs Cap on the sort of business Andy had before, the buyers of his program satisfied, unsurprisingly. Al comes to his main point of Andy’s ability making him ill and wouldn’t have gotten far without a ride, and once information about him was entered into a computer, there was a good probability he was dead, since pushing too hard was doing possible physical, and permanent harm. Al then shows Cap the dollar Andy had given to the cabby, Cap being startled by the face on the bill flickering a change to Ben Franklin, they again discussing how the sweep was going in the city and Al wanting to leave so he could be a part of the capture. Cap then receiving an update of Rainbird, another agent, after which giving his consent to send Wanless in. The back-story on Wanless’ stroke and how it had happened is shared, his body and perhaps his mind as well being permanently affected, his obsessive need to know everything about the experiment being one sign. Wanless immediately asks after the progress of the Shop’s search of the two specials, he getting the turn away answer of “it’s classified”.

Wanless continues with his same ole conversational piece, it seems, of winning over the vote to kill Andy and Charlie, plus anyone else having been a test subject, Cap listening patiently as he spoke of the little girl’s mysteriousness when it came to her powers. He goes on unceremoniously about how Charlie’s parents must have trained her young to control her powers, and also of her breaking through her trauma especially when being urged by her father. He trying to supplant the idea of they needing to be rid of Andy, before he reversed all the groundwork of Charlie believing her power was bad, and most likely needing to kill her before puberty turned her into an atomic nightmare. Cap agrees to consider his words, he having to end their meeting for a phone call which updated him of the phone booths being emptied and it would be an extra point to look for the two among the hotels, after which Cap learns Rainbird had arrived for their meeting. Before having him sent in though, he speaks with the current leader in the field for updates on their progress, it being of their expanding the search to surrounding towns, Cap giving the order of “extreme sanction” for Andy. Rainbird then coming in, a man whom could enter a room without anyone noticing, Cap happy the man was working on their side for being quite intimidated by him. Rainbird was severely scarred by a landmine, his scariness partly physical. After some pleasantries, Cap cuts to the point of a voluntary mission if Rainbird was interested, and upon his leaving, Cap being drained and calling for lunch. He then considers how they could use Charlie especially if she was willing, the scrambler phone then ringing, he picking up.

Meanwhile Charlie had woken and was feeling better, she seeing her Dad still asleep and thinking of how he’d consistently attempted to make good, whether it be food or their well being, she coming first. As he slept, she showered, soon thinking of the man she’d burnt the shoes of, struggling with the morality. She then has a memory of when she’d burned her own hair and her mom and dad having discussed seeking help. She then remembering the night her mother died and she taken. Before this happened though, her daddy sharing a bedtime story different from the ones she was used to, he stating the importance and truth of these stories, she being old enough to hear them, but they potentially scaring her a little. Since he was right about this, her mother had told Andy to stop before getting to the pyrokinesis case study, Charlie relieved, she having remembered the titles of the books mentioned for having been so startled by their contents.

Details of some popular ones being listed, one of the classic lady spontaneously combusting in her chair. Charlie then remembering a friend, Deenie informing her about confession and how it related to another fire story she was told. After hearing a few of these, Charlie becomes upset and asks her parents if those incidents would happen to her, Andy informing her they wouldn’t as long as she remembered to be careful, Charlie promising. They then reveal and attempt to explain what the power was, they also advising her on what to do if she couldn’t stop the fires, but her mother telling her the reality of what could happen if she didn’t maintain control. The reasons why the two had shared these stories are imparted, the pain of the memories being washed away with the hot water, and Charlie being comforted with knowing her father could be trusted to know what’s best. Charlie then considers the men of the Shop and how they’d react if she unleashed her power on them, but immediately recoiled at the idea after, and punishing herself with cold water, being taught to punish herself like this from Deenie.

Andy’s perspective is given next, which is of he slowly surfacing from a dream of a memory from his childhood which was instigated by the sounds of the shower running. He also slowly realizes where they were and the strength of his headache receding, Charlie coming in and informing Andy of the need for clean clothes and being hungry, he regarding of they hitching another ride for food and dealing with the clothing situation later. Charlie then lets Andy know of how odd one of his eyes looked, he noticing the white part being extremely blood shot and his eyelid drooping. He then detects three spots on his face which worry him for Charlie being alone if something happened to him. He then has to play off his concern when Charlie senses the upset, his excuse of needing a shave working. Whilst they horse-played, the men of the Shop (one of them having the nickname, O.J., aka The Juice, oddly enough) were at a diner, they four miles away from Andy and Charlie. O.J. spoke of his nearby hometown and how glad he was to escape. They were among many agents in the area, searching for the specials and waiting upon the agent expected to lead them all forward in their search. O.J. considering his hope for a far destination when he finished this job, believing this one could conclude by the evening. O.J. and his partner go into the diner, the former aggressively asking questions of their waitress when she responds unfavorably to his first inquiry. He finally getting the attention of a hoodlum nearby, whom immediately backs down once O.J.’s partner speaks up. I’m also noticing some odd choices of grammar, “jd” for juvenile delinquent, for one. 

The two agents now garnered more attention, but no action against them was made, the two leaving and discuss the number of hotels needing to be searched, they noting of it not going to take much longer to expose Charlie and Andy. Two other agents riding to Charlie and Andy’s motel when they get a flat is shown, one agent staying to change the tire since the motel was close enough to walk to, the farm truck seen at the diner passing them. Charlie and Andy are now standing near the highway, Charlie mentioning her bad feeling still and stating they should go to “Granther’s”, reminding Andy of his dream. They then agree this would be a fine next stop, Andy hitching a ride from the farm truck and they getting ten more miles further from their pursuers. As Andy and Charlie made conversation with the farmer, the man invites them for lunch, Andy not comfortable, but Charlie taking the lead of accepting the invite, Andy too tired to argue, but he being uneasy with the possibility of how close the agents could be.

The agent whom walked to the motel was currently annoying the attendant whom wasn’t enjoying his waving a picture close to her face, but she admitting to seeing the man, not the little girl, the other walking in to inform his partner of the recently lived in condition of the room, pissed about the flat tire, but his partner keeping the perspective of the two hitching and most likely catching a ride from the farm truck, he getting them on their way and stating of staying in touch with O.J. and the recently plane-landed Al by walkie-talkie. Charlie and Andy’s ride had gone off the highway by then, they taking a nondescript road. When they park, Charlie is mystified when hearing a cow, as well as the prospect of seeing one later. Irv, their driver soon introduces his wife, Norma, whom was a bit confused by the presence of their guests. Charlie having a lapse in answering her fake name which concerns Andy, but waits to see what the afternoon will bring.

The two agents were coming to the conclusion of having lost them, one reassuring the other of it still being possible of catching the duo. After Al receives the details, he is able to track the truck’s information to Irv and his address. Charlie and Andy were eating ravenously and after, Norma invites Charlie outside to feed the chickens after she makes another ignored slip with their story, Andy accepting an offered beer and admitting to understanding Irv must’ve guessed the name he gave wasn’t real, he confessing Irv was better off knowing as little as possible. Irv then shares of the cops blocking the highway and how odd the man and little girl looked hitching in the area with no travel gear, Andy becoming serious and asking why he hadn’t passed them by or driven them toward their demise, Irv confiding it was caused by intrigue. Andy goes a little further and shares details of the men after them, how they aren’t connected to the FBI, but the DSI, Scientific Intelligence, and goes on to confess he, Vicki, and Charlie’s involvement in an experiment run by the Shop, plus how it is now suspected by Andy of they only coming for Charlie, he even divulging her talents, Irv now disbelieving. Charlie then running in happily, but stops after realizing what her father had done, no provocation from either man to tip her off. Charlie then senses the Shop men were close, a look of fear washing over her face.

Al and his men turn onto the unmarked road toward Irv’s farmhouse, he stating their plan and backup plan which he hoped wouldn’t be necessary since it would mean keeping Andy alive longer, they continuing forward. Meanwhile, Charlie was becoming hysterical for realizing the men planned on killing Andy, the room steadily rising in temperature, noticed by Andy, and Charlie realizing it was now too late to run, Irv now believing what Charlie was capable of as Andy discussed with her the possibility of using her power against the Shop men as their only other resort. Charlie walks out onto the porch, her father following, she admits her fear as the first car pulls up and two men get out. Al is one of them, he attempting to convince he and Charlie to go with them for questioning, Charlie screaming for them to leave, but not using flame until after the rest of the cars emptied with men and three rushed at them with their guns drawn, Charlie setting their hair on fire, Andy seeing the look of dreamy pleasure on her face, and realizing with terror her enjoyment of her power which was also why she feared it, as well.

Andy was first to be tugged at whilst Al attempted to yell for the men to desist as shots continued to fire too close to Charlie. Al was next in line to feel flame, though, he taking more than the first three, everyone stopping their attack once their leader was down, Andy stating to the men to back off since not knowing if Charlie could stop, not having used her power to such an extent before, Charlie answering insouciantly of being alright, then cars starting to explode, Andy yelling for her to stop, but she unable to do so. Areas all about them began bursting into flame, Andy still struggling to yell for Charlie to end it, she so far into her daze, she no longer speaking, he resorting to slapping her face, which does the trick, she coming to herself with terror, then fainting. Andy picks her up and had begun walking toward Norma and Irv, he having been shot, but Norma demanding he leave with his daughter, she now afraid and angered.

O.J. is running off, terror-stricken by the sight of all the bloody carnage, he losing his gun in his haste and promising himself upon stopping, he’d refuse to return to New York. Abruptly moving back to Andy, whom is offering his help to move Irv, Norma insisting he leave, but Irv now coming around enough to discourage her, defending Andy, he moving Irv out of the soon-to-be burning house, and Irv asking after Charlie, then offering his jeep for them to escape. Irv then mentions of the firetrucks soon to arrive, and also knowing the Shop men would return, Charlie then coming around, uncertain of what was happening, Irv demanding to speak with her, and trying to give the advice to not say “never” when something may need to be done later, Charlie not comprehending, but Irv believing she would someday, Charlie still vowing not to unleash her power again, inaudibly. Irv then draws a map in the dirt with a stick, of off-roads to Vermont, Andy thanking him and Charlie apologizing, Irv not blaming her, they then retreating to his jeep upon hearing sirens. Andy makes it to the first off-road track and the highway connecting it. O.J. is speaking into his walkie, Cap listening to his message, he disturbed by the disaster and of the issue they could have with the civilian shop owner, he ready to expose his story of injustice. Cap realized the terrible situation they were now in and gave his next orders to his secretary of whom she was to contact to relay priority messages and wanting to speak with O.J. when he arrived, as well as wanting to speak with Rainbird about another mission. Cap then begins pondering on how he’d contain Irv’s story, and his promise for revenge for what was done to Al, he considering how he’d contain Charlie, then wondering where Rainbird was at this moment.

Rainbird was at a hotel waiting for the early hour to kill Wanless, he in a room upstairs from where Rainbird was staying, he knowing he’d ponder Wanless’ words before he completed his mission, and then would sleep for a little while. Rainbird is related in being content with most everything around him, himself included once his journey ended, the discovery of his addiction for shoes, even though, when by himself, he went barefoot. Rainbird’s other interests included death, which he hoped he’d be able to experience in a complete way, with time to prepare, and Charlie, curious of her powers and wanting to see for himself, he knowing almost as much as Cap, of whom would most likely extreme sanction him if he knew this. Wanless is awakened from the cause to the tickling of his nose, seeing Rainbird and readying to scream, Rainbird pinching his nostrils and covering his mouth, he then advising Wanless to calm down and stop fighting if he wanted to live. When Wanless stops struggling, Rainbird lets him go, and Wanless asks if Cap sent him, Rainbird confirming this, Wanless then attempting to offer Rainbird money, he not interested, only wanting to hear Wanless’ knowledge on everything about Charlie, Wanless agreeing, but after Rainbird still suffocating him, hoping to see the point of death in his eyes conveying awe or realization of some kind, it instead being the usual confusion. Rainbird reviewed what he learned from Wanless, wondering if Charlie’s powers were as he’d been told, considering how the act of killing a child would feel, thinking perhaps Charlie’s death would show a different look, since being a child, Rainbird then deciding Charlie would be taken by him (presumably, kidnapping style).

Andy and Charlie make it to Tashmore Pond two days later, the drive being a weary one for both, Charlie sleeping so much Andy worries she was using it to forget her troubles, believing she needed to face them. Andy also noticed the worrisome numb spots on his face had gone, when Andy stops for the night near a brook, Charlie breaking down and pleading to not ask her to use her power again, Andy unable to, but promising to try, this not comforting her, but the next day the two making it to Granther’s, Andy physically easing with the knowledge. They arrive at a chained off road which Andy takes out the key for, unlocks after some memories about his other keys on his chain which reminded him of Vicki, and the Shop men, then drives through, locking the chain behind them. After some driving, and confirming there wouldn’t be electricity to Charlie, but they having kerosene lamps and oil, if they hadn’t been taken, Andy sees a tree blocking the bumpy path and they walk the rest of the way, he planning on cutting the tree later, since the jeep was too out in the open for comfort. They get to the roomy cabin and Andy has strong memories of the place, Charlie asking if Andy missed Vicki, he agreeing and she commiserating as she goes on to wonder if all would be normal enough for her to attend school again, Andy responding with the honesty of not knowing.

Andy is relieved to discover Granther’s tools still in the shed, he going back to cut the tree enough for the jeep to be driven through, he also seeing their pantry was blessfully stocked enough with soup and canned veggies, as well as sardines (yum), and as a side-note, dog food from when Granther had a dog, Andy hoping it didn’t get bad enough to consider it as possible meal options. As Charlie looks through the books in the living room, Andy checks the basement where he uncovers what seems to be home brew and some cash which Granther had shared the location of with Andy before he died a year later, Andy keeping it there for emergencies. They then dine on tomato soup and sardines, after tucking Charlie in for bed, she confesses she felt safe, which Andy believed meant he could feel good, she being the authority on these matters. Andy then relaxes on the deck with a snifter of Granther’s moonshine and remembers the time of his wife’s demise and how he’d gotten Charlie back. He also comes to terms with how lightly he’d taken his conversation with Quincey, and then seeing people in his small neighborhood he didn’t recognize, and not informing Vicki, or doing anything at all about it. Andy retires to bed soon after, but doesn’t have pleasant dreams.

Andy’s sense of certain possibilities coming true is noted, a flashback giving example to this when he had been at work and had the feeling of something wrong at home, it getting worse the longer he sat. Finally, he asks one of his professor buddies to cover his class, he not feeling well, and quickly driving home after calling and no one picking up. As he gets closer to home, his feeling gets worse, he even thinking of leaving after he found his front door locked, but looks for his key and goes in, noting a chair had been upset in the kitchen, he proceeding to call for Vicki, and checking the rooms, ending up in the laundry where he notices a few droplets of blood on the washing machine, and more on the floor, Andy continuing his search until detecting where Vicki had been stashed, Andy then terrified and nauseous by the sight, scrambling away back to the kitchen where he muffled a couple more screams, after which shock sets in, and then the thought of Charlie, it becoming more insistent as he lingered, Andy calling the house where Charlie was staying and learning she had gone with two “teacher” friends, Andy still staying calm and asking how long ago it had been, the only other useful detail being the type of car they were driving, Andy hanging up and going back out, on the watch for the van Charlie was currently traveling.

Andy gives a push to one possible viewer of the van and then receives more detail from a car wash worker about the van heading toward the airport, he following, but then attempts to push a sense of which way they had gone on himself, he not having done this before, but after a few minutes of sitting and waiting, he gets something which makes him convinced they must be driving to Virginia and would stop for food and a bathroom break for Charlie. Andy drives almost an hour before running into a couple of false alarm vans and then believing he saw the right one parked at a rest stop, he parking and looking around, the van empty, Andy finally noticing Charlie walking out of a restroom with the two men who had killed his wife, Charlie asking for water, and the three walking back to the fountain. As he views this and stands next to the van, unsure of his plan, he steps into view, Charlie calling for him and being pulled back by one of the men, he sleight of handing a gun from somewhere on his person, and aiming it at Charlie’s head. The other agent circles over to Andy and eventually gets his gun out, he not as smooth as his partner. Andy then disables both agents with his pushing, taking care of the witnesses after by going to them and giving mini pushes of everything being fine, returning to Charlie in the car, his head throbbing and driving away, but one thought staying with him, it being he needed to locate a place to rest quickly, the road looking oddly to his overused mind.

They take the next exit, Andy getting them a quiet room with instructions for Charlie to wake him upon nightfall. When Charlie does this, the room is quite warm for Charlie not figuring out how to work the air conditioning, but after Andy calculates the cash he had and how far it would get them, Charlie asks about her mother, realizing once not getting an answer, something terrible had happened, the room becoming hotter, Andy aiming her heat at the bathroom, and trying to comfort her. The return to Andy on the deck is next, for some reason, as he’s thinking about the order of events from the Shop Removal team coming to clean up the body and the reasoning behind they not pinning her murder on him, he forcing himself to stop for the futility. Instead vowing to himself, everything would work out for Charlie. The overview of the two’s winter including Charlie getting sick, Andy suffering mild frostbite, the two celebrating each other’s birthdays, Charlie turning eight, and Andy noting how she’d be even more beautiful when she got older. It’s given how Andy got them through the winter with minimal regularity of hitting town. Andy would think of the next best move for them, still struggling with his blindness toward the seriousness of their situation and thinking the Shop men would leave them be at some point.

Andy was also beginning to come to terms with Charlie’s unique status, he wondering of the possibilities once Charlie got older and the affects of her powers becoming stronger or not changing at all, also having the idea the Shop men could decide to end their pursuit of her only to have another outside power take over the containment of her. Andy believed Charlie may have to succumb to the eventual possibility of being safely monitored in her future. Andy also faced the real eventuality of his powers causing his death and the use of them already having shortened his prospective lifespan. Andy then began thinking of ideas for Charlie’s safety in regard to his being unable to protect her, his conclusion paining him, but the idea considered better than the Shop men confining her. Andy chooses to write letters including some choice journalistic prospects, as well as areas of the government, describing their story and where it began. Andy shows Charlie one of the letters and his plan of sending them the next day, hoping it would force the end of their running. When Andy goes to town again and the semi-entertained curiosity it brought to the locals is related, their guesses to whom he was and where he came from being shared, Andy goes inside a shop for stamps and a birthday card for Charlie. When Andy leaves again, the shop owner’s connection to the Shop is realized as he reports in.

The results of this call seemed to connect to O.J. and his partner holding the mail carrier up so as to recover the letters, the postman aghast and disgusted by the disrespect to the U.S. mail system. After speaking with his postmaster though, he didn’t share his experience with anyone, including his wife, for the fear the postmaster himself conveyed. The letters are then shown having been delivered to Cap personally by O.J. and his partner. On Charlie’s birthday, Cap was uneasily looking over her files as he waited for Rainbird to show, he doubting whether Rainbird actually knew as little as he made it seem, and considering whether it’d be smarter to “let him go” when the case was over. Cap hadn’t taken these months lightly, he showing his age and stress more since last October, as well as losing his wife and secretary to cancer. He looked through the newest additions to the McGee file, including all of Andy’s letters, along with pictures taken of he walking to, and at the town, as well as Charlie with him at the cabin, the realization of Cap’s passion lay in capturing them. He also didn’t like how Andy had made fools of them when fairly easily retrieving his daughter, the conditions he’d left the two agents being shared. Cap knew his position was being questioned, but realized he regaining the location of the McGees definitely helped his staying in command for a little while longer, his goal being to see this mission to the end. Cap thinks about how lucky they’d been Andy hadn’t tried to send his letters sooner, since they would’ve gotten past them during winter, Cap also knew if he wanted Charlie, he’d need her father, so kept the agents at a distance. His plans being to drug the two with different sedatives, Charlie being captured only to map her brain for her abilities which he could then entice the government’s interest for soldiers. When he’d pondered thoroughly on these thoughts, he receives word of Rainbird having arrived, he having him sent in.

After Rainbird sat, Cap begins by mentioning another job for him, after relaying his plan, Rainbird agrees, but mentions having a condition which Cap shuts down before even hearing, Rainbird sharing how much he knew and it having been given to him willingly, he then offering his services in exchange for taking Charlie’s life when they were through with her, Cap angered and scared to learn of the information Rainbird had squirreled away over the years. Rainbird confides how he would become a close friend to Charlie, Cap shocked by Rainbird’s idea, but the latter sharing how Charlie would jump at the chance to have a friend, she having a child’s ability to be unbiased by appearance. By the end of Rainbird’s longest speech with Cap ever, the latter decides to agree to his terms, Rainbird getting dreamy eye with the prospect of befriending Charlie.

A few days later, after receiving no word from his letters, Andy decides it’s time for them to leave, and when informing Charlie, she looking afraid, but not asking anything which unnerved Andy, the two packing up. Andy babbled of where they were going being back to New York to the Times newspaper offices. Twelve agents are shown having been set up around the cabin, and also get Rainbird’s speech to the others of their minimalist roles, only one other man there to take down Andy, Rainbird having picked his team carefully. Meanwhile Charlie and Andy share the dreaded feeling of they being trapped, Charlie saying again she wouldn’t start a fire, Andy agreeing it was alright, and the two acting as if it was their final moments together. Andy steps out and still feels like something was amiss, the birds not singing as usual, nothing moving though, so he urges Charlie out with him. Rainbird was currently readying his position in a tree, aiming his rifle filled with drugs at Charlie.Andy’s perspective is shown when the shot is made, Charlie dazed at first, Andy realizing something was wrong with her before she passed out, he catching her, and screaming at the woods for whomever had shot her to come out, he readying to get her inside when Rainbird’s secondhand man gets Andy, he going down too.

The events leading to the path to more destruction began five months after Charlie and Andy were abducted, it was August, and people working on the Shop compound didn’t believe it would rain, except for Rainbird, whom drove in at noon, he readying to begin work, wearing an eye-patch he didn’t like due to it being a reminder of his missing eye, but doing so for Charlie’s sake. Rainbird was pretending to be an orderly, Cap not trusting it would succeed since neither she nor her father had shown any signs of remarkability since arriving. Charlie was at first not eating, but started when she realized how painful intravenous nutrients felt. Doctors then noticed she exhibited signs of misspeaking certain words or not finishing sentences at all, caused by the drugs they were testing on her. They experimented with their options, but ended up where they started, and monitoring the aphasia becoming prominent. Rainbird came to the conclusion none of this would make the girl use her powers, he sensing she didn’t for being strong-willed. Rainbird was attempting to get Charlie to laugh, he sensing if he could accomplish this, he’d be able to get her to bond with him, but she having yet to do so, he admiring her for her careful nature.

Rainbird goes to the break-room for coffee, and considers how much longer the doctors would use “kid gloves” to deal with her before going to an extreme, he already noticing signs of this in some of the doctors’ reports. Late afternoon brought the storm, the power going temporarily out. This storm also marked a resurfacing of power in Andy and Charlie, whether they were aware or not. Andy is currently watching a Jesus station, noting he’d gained about twenty pounds. Andy was also tested, albeit seemingly more frequently than Charlie. He didn’t attempt to throw the tests though, he believing they’d keep Charlie unharmed. Andy was watching TV when the blackout hit, he becoming more unnerved as time passed. Eventually he decides to journey to the fridge in the blinding darkness, his thoughts of being left there and his lack of calming medication, forcing his fear to deepen. He runs into the coffee-table, then a picture on the wall, he tripping over it to bang his head hard enough to bleed, which ignites his fear more, but he does eventually locate the fridge for his ginger ale, only to think with paranoia everyone had evacuated and left him there because a fire had broken out, he collapsing to the floor to spill the remainder of his soda. Andy’s gone bonkers.

Rainbird, meanwhile had gotten his opportunity to bond with Charlie because of the black out. Charlie’s dose of medication had been reduced to the point of barely being felt, but she acting high, sitting on the floor, yoga-style. As Rainbird did his household chores, Charlie withdrew to the bathroom, Rainbird used to this, but waiting for the possibility of this day being one of those when she’d come out and watch him. Charlie’s perspective in the bathroom is imparted and how when she first had arrived, they had a woman stay with her, as a “motherly companion”, but she made a deal to only speak with the doctor if they had the woman removed. Charlie had decided her fate in captivity was deserved for killing the men at the farm, and whilst most people she saw, faded from her mind, only the doctor, Hockstetter, and Rainbird, whom she knew as John, stood out to her.

Charlie remembered when he’d given her a note which she had almost laughed at, but resisted, also refraining from asking questions about his scars, she sensing the danger in this. She also remembered her experiences with Hockstetter, she knowing he was trying to play her. As Rainbird vacuumed, the lights go out, Charlie staying inside the bathroom until Rainbird began to sound frightened when she didn’t respond to him. He attempted to leave the room for fear of the dark, apparently, when he fell over the coffee-table and pleaded for help pathetically, Charlie finally giving in, since Rainbird had seemed genuine. Rainbird’s point-of-view confirms of he acting the part of a scaredy cat, he nervous of blowing it since he knew she was sharp, and her intuition sharper. He eventually maneuvers his words so she agrees to sit by him, he getting her to talk longer than he ever had before. Rainbird makes good headway with her especially through his sharing a partially true, but mostly made-up story on how he’d been scarred, he then imagining again of his final love act to her being in killing her, and if she had the look he’d been searching for, would consider following after.

Andy was still in despair in the darkness when he had an obvious premonition of Charlie being in some sort of trouble, but not knowing what it was. He gets another can of soda, his fear for Charlie replacing his fear for himself, he then getting up to change his clothes, his trek through the living area more easily navigated, and after getting fresh clothes on, considers the fear he’d been having about Charlie, and what it could mean. He then considering whether he still truly believed he had lost his power, uncertain now, he also understanding his irrational fear was caused by his late refill of medication, knowing he was an addict, and since also realizing Charlie’s danger, he only saw the futility of attempting to free her. So instead he reminisces, first of their most recent moments, then going back to when Andy was helping people with their troubles, which then lulled him into a content sleep. Andy dreamt an odd scenario, not remembering the details other than he’d been searching for something. The dream is detailed more thoroughly, he seeing Charlie with a pirate acting similarly to Rainbird. By the end of the dream, a headache had taken hold like the ones he got from pushing. When he awakens, it takes some time for him to be certain of his consciousness due to the absolute blackness still, but he does soon notice he’d pushed himself whilst asleep, he no longer craving his medication, which reinvigorated his goal of saving Charlie. When the lights go on, he acts how he believed he should, and yelled to be given his pills.

Charlie is revisited again, after she spilled, everything, to Rainbird. They make a deal not to tell anyone, and Rainbird again thought he loved her, after which she dozes, he awaking her with the terrible opinion of if she had her power perhaps she should use it, she reminding him of all the horrible events she’d caused, Rainbird replying of it sounding like self-defense. By this point Rainbird was actually impatient to leave to think over how to use the information Charlie had shared, so he stops digging and they talk of inconsequential topics, Charlie truly sleeping when the lights come back on. He tucks her into bed and kisses her goodnight, she responding with “goodnight, Daddy”. He then goes out, Hockstetter opening the door and speaking to him familiarly, Rainbird putting a true fear in him to not treat him anything other than an orderly again, or he wouldn’t live long after. Meanwhile Charlie had the best sleep she’d gotten for quite awhile.

After the storm dissipated, three weeks passed and Summer was still heating everyone up, but school was beginning, and Charlie would have a tutor, Rainbird talking her into it after Hockstetter suggested it. Rainbird having become her confidant and had supposedly been passing notes to her father three times, he also not bugging her about fires for a little over a week, and then giving her an idea of how she practicing to control it may not be a bad idea, but Charlie sensing if she did, the Shop men would continue to escalate their demands, Rainbird proud of how intuitive she was about the truth of what they wanted, but also knowing he’d have to be careful with the part he played since the repercussions could be dire in his case. Rainbird confides the idea she do the demonstrations for a price, he listing normal life ideas, she thinking of the possibility of seeing her father, Rainbird agreeing, but knowing due to the lies he’d told her, this couldn’t happen. Rainbird had seen Andy through the surveillance camera and had noticed his complacency toward watching TV and wanting his pill, no longer asking after Charlie, Cap planning on sending him to another compound soon due to his inability to push anymore, but definitely hadn’t been passing the notes along and knew Charlie would figure out his true role if they were allowed to see one another. After letting these ideas sit for about a week longer, Rainbird changed tactic, playing down his knowledge on the subject of knowing what would be right for Charlie to do, she sticking up for him when he mentioned how useful a college education would’ve been to him, comparing himself in relation to Hockstetter, and she quoting her dad about how anyone can buy a diploma, Rainbird ecstatic within. A few days after, Charlie confesses to Rainbird of attempting the tests, Rainbird reminding her to not give them a free show. She planned to mention her cooperation when she saw Hockstetter the next day. When Rainbird met with Hockstetter and Cap later, Hockstetter was enraged, but may have still overstepped by yelling at Rainbird in Cap’s office, especially when he called him a fool, Cap trying to alleviate the tension. Rainbird reminding them of the positive being Charlie planning on giving them a little taste, he then having to explain how their job was going to see how long they could get Charlie to perform without noticing her ultimate request wouldn’t be fulfilled.

Rainbird states the manageable first, going outside, perks of riding a horse, going to town to shop, or even to the local theme park with himself. He ending the conversation with the mystery of what their last big “carrot” would be to make Charlie continue to play their game. How far Andy had gotten in his plan is noted, he finalizing how he’d execute it when he had a walk outdoors with Pynchot, his doctor. His plan was to push him, he having gotten quite clever with his disposing of the pills, he also thinking they’d stopped watching him so closely. When Pynchot came for Andy to walk and talk, Andy played stoned, he acting like he wasn’t paying attention to their surroundings closely. When they reach the outdoors, Pynchot reminds him of the length of time he’d been with them and if he’d like to go to Maui to their other compound for “a rest”. Andy plays like Hockstetter didn’t like him and wouldn’t allow it, Pynchot assuring him this wasn’t the case and having Hockstetter sign off was merely a formality, Andy pushing Pynchot into thinking one more series of tests for him couldn’t hurt, the constantly smiling doctor for once losing his incessant grin to look drugged himself, to Andy’s gratification. The look passes though, and Pynchot agrees a few more tests would be a good idea, Andy then learning where this Shop compound was located. He would’ve asked after Charlie, but he was suspicious of Pynchot’s reaction, and their security tail, so leaves the question unasked. The memos between Pynchot and Hockstetter about the request for a last series of tests are shared, and when Hockstetter replies, it’s about how they’d all agreed already to send Andy off, but having him around for conceivably two more months could be useful what with starting on Charlie the next week, and would eat Pynchot’s shoes if he got results from Andy in the time allowed. Pynchot wasn’t satisfied Hockstetter hadn’t agreed to his request of three months, but was also feeling the effects of the echo Andy had created, which would ricochet, whenever thinking of Andy, getting distracted with an obsessive thought, which reminded him of his transvestite college years, he seeming to be attempting to ease his fears of not being gay since he had a wife and kids (the “mutual masturbation” he took part in with his fraternity brothers to not share with anyone of his dressing up, seeming to bother him).

Meanwhile Charlie was dealing with Hockstetter’s ignorance to her wishes on how they’d proceed in getting their show, he angered, but willing to meet her demands since realizing she was now truly ready to show them; He not realizing how much she’d give them. As they prepare a different room, she sleeps and has a filling lunch, when waking, being shown the new room, Charlie giving her consent, and commanding Hockstetter to leave the room so she didn’t have to look at him, as well as the possibility of something occurring to him if he was in fire distance. The technician in the room hooks Charlie up to the EEG monitor and is given permission to begin when ready. Charlie was getting in the right state of mind, not wanting to go through with it, but at the same time annoyed they hadn’t supplied her with something more difficult to set on fire, the tech noticing the warmth of the room rising through his protective gear, getting nervous. Cap is now getting excited with the visual, Charlie having explosively set the wood chips on fire, the technician running out of the room, she slowly regaining control after throwing the push toward the tub. Hockstetter was ecstatic, Rainbird still watching the room, the former forgetting their opposition and shaking Rainbird’s hand, the latter sharing of Hockstetter needing to send someone for Charlie, since she’d wandered out of the room, no one moving when Hockstetter made the command, Rainbird having seen Cap leave when she had, and having fun knowing everyone was intimidated by her. Charlie and Rainbird at the pond where her father had been a few days earlier is next, Rainbird offering they go look at the horses, he having volunteered to take her since the others had been spooked by her display. The scientists are noted on how they had reacted with innovative ideas, but also struggling to come up with any thoughts to keep Charlie under control, the tech whom had left the room being shipped away to another country. When they walk to the stables, a man is there grooming a black gelding, Charlie getting the chance to pet him, but when looking back at Rainbird, doesn’t like the look on his face, he smiling, but her feeling getting drowned by the horse’s beauty.

Next Rainbird mentions how she should ask to ride the horse next time she’s asked for another demo, he then asking how she felt about her powers now, she having the introspection of knowing the strength and control had changed. Hockstetter was currently at home indulging one of his pastimes and dreaming of his goal to get Charlie to do a dozen or so tests for his career to be locked, whilst Pynchot dazedly regained his desire to adorn himself in his wife’s underwear, his family all busy outdoors. After getting off, his mind clears and he is disturbed and worried why he’d risked such an act in the open. Meanwhile, Cap and Rainbird are having drinks and discussing Rainbird’s idea on how he planned on stringing Charlie along, Cap having figured it out, but warning Rainbird the risk he took in having Charlie discover his true motives. The two then speak of the theories Wanless shared could have some merit. Cap warns of how Rainbird’s idea could be dangerous for all involved, not only Rainbird. The way Rainbird thinks to ease Cap’s fear is to mention how he planned on ending Charlie’s life, Cap letting slip how he thought Rainbird mad and he not getting angered by the offhand comment, only calmly agreeing. Andy was still struggling with his show of being stoned, and how he was going to escape with Charlie, he learning the information of what highway they were near, etc. a week ago, the blackout now a month behind them. Andy worried about how he’d succeed without being found out he still had his powers, but like the blackout, the reprieve came in surprising fashion.

Andy’s surprised and terrified by two guards coming for him, he thinking they’ve discovered his game, he getting led and introduced to Cap, whom was breaking “bad news” which at first Andy thought related to Charlie, but soon is told it involves Pynchot, Andy shocked, but gladdened to hear of his fate. Cap then supposed Andy could’ve been fooling them about his powers being gone, Cap believing Andy didn’t cause Pynchot’s death once speaking with him and planning to draw the paperwork to send Andy to Maui. Cap was about to end their talk, when Andy pushes him to stop, knowing this could be the only time to get some unrecorded free time when the intercom goes off, he pushing Cap unnecessarily hard and then learning of Charlie starting fires again and how they’d baited her with outside time. Andy also gets Cap to divulge more about Rainbird when Cap mentions him, Andy coming up with an idea of using Pynchot’s funeral as a way to brainstorm with Cap alone of a way for he and Charlie to escape. He then lets Cap go, having made it so he wouldn’t remember their talk and would believe he came up with it himself when the time to chat about it arrives. Cap comes back to himself and Andy asks to go back to his apartment. He puts on a show using the natural tears brought on by his headache, and outright cries in front of the guards and secretary outside, he using his emotional distress over Charlie. A confusing dream Charlie has is described where she sees a figure whom at first she thinks is her father, (but the reader can only guess is Rainbird) Charlie awaking and not remembering, other than the unsettled feeling.

Cap had Charlie’s tests done in a newly built chapel, he approving all requests Hockstetter asked. Now when Charlie complied with the testings, they had a digital temperature monitor and in color video to record her. Charlie has the cinder-blocks in flames, the temperature reader breaking when hitting seven thousand degrees. A memo from a man whom had viewed the video to Hockstetter about the latter needing to be more than ready when he met with the Senate subcommittee to ask for time renewal on the Lot 6 experiment is shared, he then going over Charlie’s body readings for blood pressure being normal, and out of the ordinary alpha waves which showed Charlie may be learning to control the power now. He also wonders if the heat is coming from or through Charlie (we don’t get an answer), noting if Hockstetter figured it out he’d definitely be formally recognized. He then questions whether Hockstetter should want to continue testing, he knowing his mind would be put to ease when she was “neutralized”. Charlie asks Hockstetter for her father, he about to deny her, but thinking of the memo, he properly paranoid of how Charlie could make him and perhaps the whole state fear her. The only one having a leash on her being crazy ole Rainbird. Hockstetter attempts to blow smoke by saying perhaps a visit could be arranged when she performed another test, Charlie becoming visibly upset and making her single demand clear, Hockstetter nervous now. Charlie wasn’t taking the bribe of going to the theme park, either and pointed out Hockstetter was visibly sweating, she giving him the task of relaying to the others if she didn’t see her father perhaps she would cause something to happen, Hockstetter leaving, and knowing Rainbird would be no help since he’d warned them of this eventually happening.

Charlie is conflicted and upset, knowing she needed her father’s guidance now on how to proceed and unsure of whether she could ever stop using her power. Andy wasn’t impressed with Pynchot’s funeral, but did realize the futility of being spiteful toward such an underling. Andy noted how usually he had time to capture the echo before it ricocheted, the opportunity not having presented itself in Pynchot’s case, but he having perfected it during his mind-changing classes. How the echo effect put the brain in an o.c.d. loop is also noted. Andy was then listening to Cap drone of the shocking suicide, but when the funeral began, it being the start of Andy’s bad experience. He and Cap stood apart from the main friends and family members, Pynchot’s wife and boys looking numbed, Andy feeling conflicted in knowing Pynchot as an ego-driven failure and how he died being so embarrassing for the family, Andy getting a surprise boner and asking Cap to leave, they heading back for the car, and Andy asking after the family, Cap stating they’d be cared for, but the boys wouldn’t be open to a bribe, Andy then getting hit with guilt. He staves this off by thinking of Charlie, they starting their drive back. Andy then questions his ability, but manages to lead in with his conversation, knowing the time he had to voice his commands, but starting with a question he was plagued with, he wanting the details of how they were using Charlie, and Rainbird’s plan once she showed no cooperation. Andy then asked after his scheduled time to fly to Hawaii, whether it could be pushed forward a few days, this plan presumably being best case scenario so Andy wouldn’t need to confront Rainbird, even though on one level, he did want to meet his daughter’s nasty leech.

Andy lays out his plan so only he and Cap would be passengers, two Shop men to meet them at the refueling point, Andy having to push hard so Cap would agree to Charlie accompanying them, hurting himself in the process, but having no issues when he stated Cap was to send Rainbird away. He has Cap sum up his orders, then makes it so Cap wouldn’t remember until the proper time, Andy unsure of he again causing an echo for pushing him multiple times, but as Andy regresses into his pain and is looked upon with revolt as he gets out of the car, he thinks only of Cap needing to play his part well, and of how he’d get his revenge if he and Charlie succeeded in their escape. Andy goes straight to bed, and upon waking discovers the numb spots had returned and were larger, learning what was happening in his brain. Andy only hoping Charlie would find safety, if he didn’t survive his overuse of the push, and before going back to sleep, thinks of Charlie most likely having gotten his note by now. Cap had requested to speak with the man setting up the flight arrangements when he read a memo from Hockstetter which confirmed Charlie had reached the point to stop their game, which led to Cap’s golf echo, he rediscovering his train of thought once more about next steps for Charlie, his echo taking more of an unsettling turn, but he easing the thought, confirming the new arrangements when his call is on the line, only asking one out of character question regarding snakes, then completing the call, deciding he’d go visit Charlie after feeling for the note Andy had passed him.

Charlie recaps her visit with Cap, he allowing her demand to see her father, she not trusting him, but then noticing how he was exhibiting a similar odd behavior she’d seen before on another man Andy had pushed, she understanding what could be happening. Cap was in a daze, but did manage to pass the note, he advising Charlie to be careful of snakes next time she rode the horse, after he goes, she reading the note and everything becoming lit differently. Andy’s note to Charlie listed what she was to do Wednesday, what to do with the note, and the truth of Rainbird and what they would do when they were together to take down the Shop. Charlie struggled with the warning, questioning her time with Rainbird and what could have been lies, her buried feelings over his lack of emotion, etc. When she slept, she had the same dream from the previous night, but the dark figure blocking the light, in focus.

Hockstetter is called into the compound on his day off after receiving a call about a “problem with the…girl”, when arriving, learning of what was happening by the monitor. Charlie was having a nightmare and the temperature of the room had increased a bit, the monitor believing they needed to wake her, but after a few degrees more had been achieved in the temperature controlled room, Charlie had woken, walked to the bathroom, the monitor switching to the bathroom cam, saw the water in the toilet steaming, Charlie using the facilities, getting a drink of water, and going back to a more content sleep, Hockstetter making certain the monitor made the note, and he writing a memo of his concerns about choosing more carefully their test requests. The next morning Charlie had remembered little of her dream again, but knowing enough to vow if Rainbird got in the way Wednesday, he’d pay for it. When Rainbird came at his usual time, Charlie had acted a little off, still giving him a smile, but claiming her behavior was caused by a bad night, he knowing this was true, she withdrawing to her room to lie down, Rainbird now anxious if this had more underlying meaning. By Monday, the Fall had begun, Andy watching a show and hoping Charlie got his message and was able to meet him at the stables on the day.

Cap was currently at home and had retrieved his golf bag from his basement, the sport nor snakes having left his mind. He began to become paranoid of snakes being in the bag, he attempting to maintain logic. The fear passes once he returns the bag to its home in the basement, the next morning feeling better, temporarily. The same day, Rainbird had requested to view the video of Cap in Charlie’s room, he even more bothered with Cap’s behavior and the note passed, which at first looked like a piece of gum, Rainbird toying with the idea Cap had a plan he was playing, but questioned this due to his unstable demeanor and odd conversation. Rainbird researches the possibility for Andy having been involved in the slightly abnormal behaviors of Pynchot and Cap, his discovery leaving him with little doubt. Tuesday brought a phone call from Rainbird to Cap, the latter informing of his new mission, and when Rainbird attempts to get out of it, realizes Andy’s hand in it, deciding not to put Cap over the edge, playing along, but knowing he wouldn’t be making his flight, instead formulating his own plan. Rainbird began by logging into a computer under Cap’s pass-code and cancels his assignment. Rainbird was correctly deducing Andy’s plan and knew he could thwart him now, but preferred the fun and possible mess of doing so whilst it was attempted. Rainbird considers the possibility of even letting Andy succeed, but his loyalty laying with Charlie, coloring his decision. Rainbird puts his affairs in order for the possible expectation of his demise.

Charlie gets ready early Wednesday morning, she having dreamt of her mother for the first time, she usually not thinking of her as much as she used to, the dream bringing her back into focus. Charlie then uses her call switch, speaking with a monitor about she requesting to go to the stables at noon, the monitor making a note of it for Hockstetter, and Charlie wishing the man a nice day, hesitantly to his taken-off-guard pleasure,Charlie then sitting down and turning on Popeye. Charlie thought of how she’d handle Hockstetter not giving his permission, she planning on making it happen regardless (it not mattering since Cap makes the call). Andy’s sleep wasn’t as refreshing as Charlie’s, he having nightmares and light sleep, he awaking not long after Charlie, and learning he’d been requested to sign a paper of inventory of his personal property before being sent to Hawaii, he also having an itinerary of their schedule, he slowly packing his belongings as if drugged, thinking now he didn’t need to meet Rainbird, even though he’d enjoy pushing him, but preferred no deviation from his plan, soon he too awaiting one in the afternoon. Rainbird hadn’t slept and was awaiting a phone call which finally came, confirming the cancellation of his mission, he then lazily thinking of the Prayer for the Dead. Cap had been uncommonly an hour and a half late due to snake-searching his car, he then getting caught up watching some golfers play on a course which was on his way to the Shop, he having pulled over and trance-like looked on. When he did reach the office, he didn’t skim through his pile of messages like usual, the new secretary making sure he was feeling alright before mentioning Charlie’s request, he giving the O.K. before noting the drawer which remained slightly open due to the firearm within, should be shut for snakes being able to get in, he walking into his office. Cap waited for one, as well, he believing Andy would make his next steps toward feeling better realized, and whatever came after being welcome. Rainbird made his way to Charlie’s monitoring room, the man inside stating how he’d expected Rainbird to be gone. Rainbird then ordering the man to keep his mouth shut about having seen him until after five, otherwise he’d hurt him, the man realizing Rainbird’s reputation was accurate, he then detailing Charlie’s plans for the day when asked, and the man escorting her to the stables being told to leave her there by Cap. Rainbird then headed out, Charlie being led out by her escort, Rainbird waiting for her arrival happily, after sending all the workers out of the stable.

When they get inside, Charlie reports the man could leave her there, but her escort had been told to leave her with a stable-hand, so ignores her, Rainbird readying to shoot him, but Charlie seeming to take care of it herself by what looks like burning his hand when he tries to take her wrist, and then making the gun he was reaching for hot, as well, and dropping it, after a few more threats from Charlie, he leaves, Rainbird then announcing himself quietly, but hidden by some bales of hay in the loft, Charlie angry and confessing what she knew he’d done, the barn getting warmer, and the horses starting to sound scared. Cap is on his way to see Andy, his appearance having again changed to he looking much older and more dazed and twitchy, his echo having ricocheted. Andy thought about how his experience at the Shop would continue to allude his reasoning, he also held no guilt for the state he’d put Cap into. They walk into Cap’s first issue when Andy uses a push to get him to pick up one of his bags (wasteful), the second when Cap slips up with a worker detailing their next destination when Cap mentions nonchalantly Andy’s plan to escape with Charlie, Andy pushing the worker to write down the Air Force Base. They go to Cap’s car, put the suitcases in the trunk, then Cap drives to the stables. As they get closer, they see Charlie’s escort run back to the house, Andy getting an uncomfortable feeling, he then having to push Cap into believing their aren’t any snakes in the stable so he’d walk with him, Andy first noticing the fear of the horses, calling to Charlie, and soon after realizing her voice had fear in it, as well, she cautioning him to not enter, but Rainbird saying it was too late. Charlie’s point of view shows she’d been searching for the whereabouts of Rainbird and her fire was much more easily accessible, right under the surface. Rainbird warns her to stay back, and once she threatens to use her ability, reminds her of the horses, her fire too close, she only having a bucket of water to aim at, and a faucet above it shooting off, water pouring out. Charlie eventually had it under control, and Rainbird continues talking about how he sensed her father didn’t actually think they’d be able to go free, regardless of Charlie’s responsibility, Rainbird confessing his care for her, she not believing him, Rainbird then sitting down above her, his gun visible, he confessing his truth about what he’d done, Charlie worn out and wanting to trust his words, to the point of starting to climb the ladder after Rainbird invites her, she sensing the truth he was after would end her, but her father entering. When she sees him, after noticing his weight gain, Rainbird’s draw for her was eased, Rainbird points his gun at Andy, ordering him to come in and stand a little closer.

Charlie goes to Andy, but Rainbird insists she come back so they could complete their moment, Andy voicing his differing opinion on his request, but Rainbird threatening to shoot him, allowing Charlie to decide. She wants to protect her father despite he commanding her to stay by him, realizing he’s going to have to push her when the forgotten Cap starts screaming. Meanwhile, Charlie’s escort had raised the alarm, all available Shop agents readying to head for the stables, except O.J., whom quietly refused to move. Insight to what Cap had been thinking of before he screamed being his first fear-stricken moment with a snake in his childhood home’s barn then related, he currently ready to bash the imagined one with a rake, but switch perspectives to the agents closing in on the stables, hearing the scream, as well as the silenced gun shots, pausing only a moment before resuming to move forward. Then Rainbird is shown being distracted by Cap long enough for Andy to push him to jump, this being the one which finally puts him over his limit, the left side of his body going numb, and Rainbird jumping, breaking  a leg, but not letting go of his gun. He shoots, Charlie screaming for her dad, he then calling Charlie to look at him. Another switch back to the agents outside with the escort about to inform the other agents the plan to take out Charlie, when she screams “No!” from inside, before the stable doors open with smoke and sparks of fire blowing out. Charlie is rushing to her father, but does look at Rainbird when he requests, he getting his second shot off, and being certain to see her eyes, but the bullet not reaching the target before melting, it not being the only subject to lose its form. Charlie then remembers the horses, similar to her dream, also reminding her of her ability to push, getting the stables unlocked. The blast which opened the stable doors had effected many agents standing nearby, one left whom hadn’t been hit so far, the stable itself mostly blown out except for the back which was slowly being consumed by flames. The agent decides he wasn’t about to press his luck, and retreats.

Charlie was still in shock inside and yelling for her father, searching the smoke-filled room as some horses ran out, a drum of gas being ignited, she locating him after a horse hits her, she then confirming for herself he was gone, and thinking of how the Shop had taken both her parents from her. She feels his stomach, not being able to move her hand from the wound, until she hears a faint response from Andy, and requesting she come nearer his face, he then urging her to take no prisoners and get herself out, so she can out them, she not wanting to leave him, but a simple and amusing death motivates her to escape. Charlie’s escort waited with a few others, believing she’d come out where they were, and when it didn’t occur, moved forward before the men had time to think better of it. Two men shoot when movement is seen, the horses coming out in terror. Once they started, the rest began, the escort shouting for them to stop, but failing, horses being killed, few able to run away. As the men were distracted by this, Charlie had time to exit, the men noticing only in time to know an onslaught of heat was coming their way. Some attempted to escape, but Charlie aimed a line to catch them, she doing as her father had bid, especially after seeing what they’d done to some of the horses. Charlie’s escort shot and grazed her wrist, she making him a flying flame going forty feet away. The rest of the men able, she allowed to run away, her view being she’d kill them only if obstructed. She then calmly walks to the houses, she setting one aflame, all other employees within, rushing out, Charlie resisting the urge to set them up, as well, aiming for the security fences, and shorting out the electric system. A smaller building had an armored limousine emerge, a man seemingly sticking out of the sun roof and firing a machine gun at her. She takes care of the vehicle and shooter quickly, aiming the rest of her flames at the second house she and her father had been kept, along with the betrayal she experienced by Rainbird.

The power still had trouble dissipating until Charlie remembered the duck pond. O.J. is shown timing his break for safety when Charlie had turned to the houses, he dealing with the Dobermans, losing a chunk of his butt-cheek in the process, but then when he noticed the other agents and house-workers were near him, he began ordering them to climb, one woman being example to the others with O.J.’s instigation, everyone else following suit, but one man getting hold of a still electrified portion, another being attacked by a dog, O.J. and those climbing hearing and seeing the pond steaming, O.J. getting the hell out of there. Charlie is then shown struggling to control the urge, her grief helping, she then seeing how the sun had changed for all of the fog, she realizing she probably would be able to change the sun someday. She breaks down for her dad, even Rainbird on some level, and also herself. When she comes back to herself, she surveys the scene around her, the pond had been turned into a mud hole with some puddles, and the grass surrounding it, blackened. She then noticed the remainder of the buildings, limo, and fence, the last being worst, dog and human bodies scattered about, Charlie then climbing over the fence where some dazed workers milled, and was numb to her first taste of freedom in six months. She approaches the woman O.J. had helped, she having broken her arm on her way down from the fence, she deathly afraid of Charlie and lashing out at her by saying she should have burned herself up, Charlie finding her voice and how this wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t forced her, she walking off, not knowing where she was going, but not worrying about the Shop men coming after her ever again.

On Wednesday a blurb was covered late at night, the full story covered the next morning, it being said a terrorist group being the cause of a bombing at a “scientific think tank”, three groups vying for credit, so the blame was up in the air, but Rainbird was given the special role of rigging the bombs due to being a double agent. All those who had survived were taken by government officials, the story tying up for the most part and the Shop barely mentioned, only one small detail hanging in the wind. The new Head at the Shop was attempting to regain Charlie, of whom had been missing longer than ten days, and wanted her found and killed. The status of Lot 6, as well as what should be done if Charlie talked before they found her is spoken of, the Head believing if she wanted to, she would’ve done so already, also going by good statistics from the computer of the likelihood they would be able to bag and tag Charlie due to suicide, the man listening stating the probability of it after how it reported wrongly about Andy, taking the steam out from the Head a bit. The same day, Irv is doing some log cutting, he barely recognizing Charlie when she spoke of the block he was using to cut the wood, he then asking after Andy, but Charlie too malnourished and dazed to respond, she falling to the ground unconscious, Irv yelling for Norma. The doctor was called and as they waited for news, Irv flashbacks to when he was in the hospital and a government agent came to see them, pretty much having to force them to take hush money, the agent having to threaten them with files kept on them first, which included their many family members.

On top of this, Irv also happened to have Jewish blood, some of his relatives still in Poland being threatened since Jews weren’t beloved at the time. Irv having much to think over, but then the doctor looking in on Charlie breaking the reverie, he relaying Charlie was conscious, and not in great, but not too bad of shape, what with two infected cuts, as well as a fever, but Doctor Hofferitz explains short of bringing her to a hospital, she needed rest and liquid, he then asking more deeply what the story was, Irv having known him for over two decades, giving him as much as he dared, so he doesn’t call the police. Hofferitz agrees to keep it to himself, but advises on how small the town was and a little girl not meant to be caged. As they chatted in the front, Charlie was semi-aware of they talking of her, but sensed nothing to worry about, she then going back through what she remembered after her encounter with the lady with a broken arm, she having hitched a ride and being picked up by some hippies, but after, couldn’t remember anything more until the day before with the hog attack (contact high?), and not sure if she’d planned to go to the Manders’ farm, her sleep deepening until dreaming back to when she’d woken terrified and her mother coming in to comfort and play off the “funny” dream of her parents having died. Irv and Norma discuss their next course of action, Irv unable to see beyond waiting for Charlie to get better and ask what happened to her, Norma worried the Shop men could return, Irv believing they would think they’d silenced them and wouldn’t bother. When Norma wonders aloud what could’ve happened, Charlie fills them in having walked in the room, she pleading for their help. Then for the next week Hofferitz periodically visits to see Charlie was getting better with each visit, until deeming her well again.

When Irv is asked if he’d figured out his plans for her, he still didn’t know. On Sunday Norma goes to church, making an excuse for Irv, he watching Charlie, whom asked if he wanted to know what had happened since they last saw her, Irv stating he would wait until she was ready, Charlie asking if he feared her because of her power, Irv making the correlation between any kid Charlie’s age, if half bright knew how to use matches, but didn’t go wild with it, Charlie overcome with ease, she going straight into the last six months of her life, Norma walking in during the tale, and listening as well, the two then realizing how large Charlie’s problems were. Irv picked up schoolbooks for Charlie to study with, but the two were struggling with their new role as teacher. Months pass, Charlie’s birthday coming around again, she content, Irv still torn by what to do, knowing he couldn’t keep Charlie under lock and key forever, even if she was currently fine with it. One day Irv had trouble lighting some kindling due to the last couple days being wet, Charlie helping him safely start the fire and hoping it was alright, Irv accepting the help if she had control, but to refrain from doing so in front of Norma, she mostly likely scaring the pants off her. Charlie was seemingly still improving, but dealt with bad dreams and light appetite.

One night Charlie awoke from a worse dream about Rainbird, only having been asleep an hour, she overhearing the Manders’ talking about her, and this time whether they should go to the papers, Charlie reminded of her father’s words. Irv now hesitant of what could happen if confronted by the Shop men, how it would affect Charlie, but also the people of New York. Norma debates how even a small paper could be found noticeable depending on the story, they also discussing how dangerous it could’ve been when Irv had taken her out sapping, she knowing Charlie needed fresh air due to her peckishness, but also aware of how easy it is to run into people. The two then go over what they’d been threatened with to keep quiet (writing tactic for Charlie’s sake?), Charlie guilty for the trouble she was causing them, Irv knowing if they were going to get her story out, they needed to do it right, he wanting to be sure the paper they chose had no government ties, Charlie thinking of her parents deaths, the two also planning on hiring a lawyer, they believing Charlie was still safe, but someone already knowing and of the news spreading.

Hofferitz, is mentioned as being technically single, but had a relationship with his housekeeper of many years, he spilling the information about Charlie’s existence after a bit longer than three months due to the help of wine, which after a month and a little over a week, much of the town knew, then someone whom they wouldn’t want to know, knew, agents converging on the farm again, only to see the Manders’ who had received a note from Charlie, whom had a plan. Charlie had stopped at the New York Public Library to locate a paper with Irv’s list of requirements in mind, the librarian getting her the address, Charlie making it to the Rolling Stone magazine office and speaking with the receptionist of wanting to speak with someone she could share her story with and show them something she’d been wanting to share for quite awhile. THE END

The story was fascinating, can’t say I care for the abrupt end, I believe few parts were also in the movie, but I’d need a re-watch to be certain. The Irv character was quite personable and strong, but there were some obvious kinks with the story-line, nothing too damaging though. Regardless of its few faults, it was a breeze to read. King notes the true bits including the government testing where subjects didn’t know they were taking dangerous drugs, also of certain countries experimenting with psychic powers including levitation and telepathy, but mentions reports of pyrokinesis and its connection with spontaneous combustion, also making certain to be clear he isn’t pushing belief in such phenomena, but only there being interesting reads on the subject. This is definitely quite indirectly related to the Dark Tower, the only similarity being Char-lie.

Bone Vol. 7: Ghost Circles

For the 6th volume. We begin with Ted waking Jonathan to learn what has been going on, Ted realizing the news Jonathan had, wasn’t good and learning Lucius had done something which endangered Gran’ma Ben and Phoney Bone. Ted then discovers Jonathan had seen something questionable happen which made him think this, and Ted reasoning there must be a viable answer for it, the bug then easing Jonathan’s mind on he telling the Stick-eater Headmaster of what he’d seen. We then see Wendell being summoned to the main gate by the Headmaster due to tremors getting more noticeable, the Headmaster noting how he spoke, his conduct disclosing his obvious feelings about the Stick-eaters and how Lucius wasn’t one of them, the orders of the monks not coinciding with his own goals and being too hung up on Rose and devoted to her and her sister, Briar. This leads into Wendell discussing  with the Stick-eater about the disappearance of Gran’ma Ben and Phoney, the reason for the war beginning, and their disappearances lying on Phoney’s head, to which the Stick-eater discusses why his notion is ludicrous. The Stick-eater then shows Wendell the crest of the Harvestar family, he not recognizing it but being told of the purpose of the current keepers of “the source”, Wendell then uncovering how serious the legend of the Lord of the Locusts actually was. When they hear an explosion, the attack begins, Wendell being told to go and lead the villagers whilst the Stick-eater Headmaster took care of business on his end. We then get a close up of the destruction occurring at the mountain, seeing Gran’ma Ben leading Thorn and the Bones through the exploding rocks. When Fone almost gets crushed by a statue, he realizes they are going the wrong way, even though they were heading down, but then they are confronted by Kingdok, Thorn looking straight at him until Gran’ma Ben pushes her and Fone out of the way, Kingdok trying to bite them and getting a mouthful of rubble. They all get behind another statue and Gran’ma Ben uses it to throw at Kingdok, he busy spouting death threats.

They all retreat as Kingdok continues his pursuit, Fone looking for a secret passage which will get them down the mountain safely, Phoney thinking he’s crazy and Smiley the one to discover it, everyone piling in before Kingdok can lunge at them again, Gran’ma Ben offering to hold off Kingdok, but Phoney hearing something in the tunnel, they having no choice but to continue, and Fone remembering and warning everyone of how the tunnel had made them hallucinate the first time around, Gran’ma Ben knowing this for having been there before, as well. Thorn is first to speak up about leading them deeper through the tunnel, Gran’ma Ben advising the Bones to get ready to run, she grabbing them as she let Kingdok’s face push through. Another explosion gets Kingdok’s attention and then we see the fighting amongst the rat creatures, villagers, and Stick-eaters. The Stick-eater Headmaster is ordering one of his men to deal with a gathering of enemies when they see the explosion on the mountain, his orders changing to get as many villagers and men into a cave, knowing there won’t be time for proper refuge from the danger to come. We then see Briar being revived by the Lord of the Locusts and learning she had configured their powers incorrectly, losing part of them and being told to fix her mistake. Meanwhile the Bones are continuing down the stairs of the passage and wondering if they’d missed a turn for having been walking awhile, Fone starting to notice he and his cousins were starting to take on the personalities of the characters in Moby Dick, soon realizing he’s sharing the hallucination with the other Bones. Gran’ma Ben then calls them further down where Thorn has collapsed and is ice cold despite the extreme heat they were all feeling and we find she had seen Thorn being invaded by the locusts and confiding in the Bones of this.

When Thorn revives and shares of speaking with the Lord of the Locusts, Gran’ma Ben relates to this story by confessing of how she had the same experience many years before (the details of which are in Rose and isn’t needed to complete this volume). She relates of following her sister to the cave and being confronted by the Lord of the Locusts, Thorn finishing for her by supplying what he’d been searching for, she being saved by Fone before the Lord of the Locusts had found her dreaming power source. Thorn then shares with Gran’ma Ben of a mistake regarding her sister’s abilities, they heading for a light source up ahead which turns out to be the end of the tunnel, they thinking it was snowing until realizing they are seeing ashes in the wind and everything’s gone. Thorn then speaks of only some of the destruction being real, Briar having used many ghost circles to give the illusion of everything being destroyed, sharing with them of she able of seeing where they must walk, but having to follow her exactly, failing to do so would mean the walker being gone forever. Fone asks how Thorn would reverse the changes, she unsure, but knowing it’s possible for how Fone had given her the charm necessary to repel the Lord of the Locusts and she having the missing powers Briar is searching for. As the Bones follow Gran’ma and Thorn, they argue about whether they believe the ladies about the ghost circles and all the fantastical creatures mentioned, Fone not interested in rocking the boat, especially when he and his cousins were attired like his Moby Dick dream. Phoney then lays into Fone about how he consistently seemed to come up with a reason why they couldn’t escape and go home, he making Fone promise the next time he figures a way out, he’ll drop everything and come with him, Fone reluctantly agreeing.

Meanwhile Gran’ma Ben reaches the spot she’d left Lucius and is becoming upset about not seeing him there, Thorn trying to calm her by speaking of the possibility she may still be able to help him, she attempting to see if she could sense him, but when it fails, has a vivid vision with Fone there, he seeing a new place and Thorn warning him to stay close to her, they finally returning to the others, Gran’ma Ben is relieved to hear of the trees surrounding them since she had left Lucius elsewhere. They then go toward the spring Thorn had noticed and stop for the night for Phoney requesting desperately for a break. Smiley then speaks frankly to Fone about whether he was feeling homesick and how they didn’t have to listen to Phoney all the time due to his usually being wrong, Fone seeming to be surprised by Smiley’s insight. Smiley going on to mention how even though Fone believed dreams didn’t mean anything, Smiley saw Fone react as if he’d dreamt something and told the others of Thorn being alright when she’d still been lost. Fone dismisses this and goes to sleep, dreaming of being in the middle of the ocean on a casket, and sinking under water. Fone then sees a large body, it coming into focus as being the Red Dragon, Fone attempting to get his attention and failing, the Dragon opening his mouth to yawn and inhaling Fone, we soon only seeing a spark.

Fone awakens to everyone gone, but is called to by Smiley whom was bathing, then mentioning Phoney had woken without his pirate look. Fone then has a bad feeling of Thorn being in danger, but Phoney trying to calm him, mentioning where she was and how she and Gran’ma Ben had argued about where they should head, Thorn thinking back to Old Man’s Cave, it having less ghost circles than going south, Gran’ma Ben wanting to head south. Neither Gran’ma Ben nor Thorn could pick up anything from the veiled world, Thorn only noticing the ghost circles seemed to be spreading. She then describes what the ghost circles signified, it having to do with the dreaming and the real world getting mixed. Fone then asking how the piece of the locust inside Thorn could be removed, which leads into why Gran’ma Ben wanted to head south to Atheia, where help could be found. Gran’ma Ben is still attempting to discover signs of life from the villagers, but soon hears sounds on the other side of a ridge, everyone seeing it was a slew of rat creatures. Due to where they were headed and they not having noticed Thorn and gang, they would now have to head south, Phoney agreeing, and assuring Smiley it didn’t matter if it took them further away from Boneville (giving the sense the little grifter had a devious plan), Phoney sharing quietly what he was thinking with Smiley.

As the group then discusses whether the rat creatures may have actually noticed them, they run right into them. As they attempt escape, Thorn and Fone get separated from Gran’ma Ben, Phoney, and Smiley, but Smiley then sees someone whom makes him smile. We then seeing Thorn and Fone trapped at the edge of a cliff, Thorn threatening to kill the Hooded One, she of course dead already, but sharing of how two would be needed to help the Lord of the Locust, Thorn not wanting to take part, and Briar attempting to convince her of the good she could do with the power it would give her, then confessing how her parents were responsible for her death and how they had actually died, then confiding when they would perform the ritual. As Fone defends Thorn though, it is revealed he also had a piece of the Locust within him which meant she no longer needed Thorn, but as Briar seemed about to do something terrible, she’s bum rushed by Smiley on a rat creature. The group now reunited, Thorn is thrown on Bartleby with Smiley as the rest ran after, Thorn stating she’d be able to lead them through the ghost circles as the herd of rat creatures again headed towards them.

As they traveled down a dune, Thorn describes their current route being filled with ghost circles and would need to slow down so they could navigate through them, which they implement as they see rat creatures disappearing due to stepping in the wrong spots. They stop after some distance, Thorn wanting to take a break, but Phoney eager to push on for thinking they weren’t quite safe yet, the group moving once more. We then see Wendell picking up robes nearby a bunch of dead, then being called since the group had found Lucius, he being carried and they describing how and where they’d found him. Wendell wakes Lucius, whom’s memories are hazy after the blast, after deducing Jonathan not being as fine as Wendell made it seem, they then being approached by the Stick-eaters, the Headmaster wanting to know if Lucius knew where Thorn and Rose were, he not knowing, but did know where they’d go if they had survived, the Headmaster not seeing the logic behind it, regardless of it being the place of their throne and believing Atheia was deserted, then stating Lucius was an enemy of the royals and to place guards outside the infirmary.

We then see Thorn and group still on their trek across deserted land, Thorn stopping them for the ghost circles getting thicker, she thinking it would be the opposite as they got closer. Phoney decides they were breaking, and it soon leads to him accusing Fone of being the cause of the trouble, the rat creatures not even going after the others anymore, only Fone, Smiley shocking the two with his electric fingers, then Gran’ma Ben interrupting Phoney’s revelation of they being chased because of what the Hooded One had said of only needing Fone for the ritual, to let them know of the new path they would walk. Gran’ma Ben deciding she’ll bring up the rear, for now being suspicious of Fone’s part which could be played, and everyone walking a longer, but safer way around to Atheia. Bartleby then informs Fone of Smiley falling, Thorn warning him to be careful not to fall into ghost circles already avoided as he rushes to aid him. When they reach Smiley, he indicates his fall was due to “taco”, he being hungry, of course. Phoney then comes up with the idea of Thorn and one other should go into a ghost circle to search for food, she considering the idea, Fone offering to go with her again and the two going in before logic set in, they near a farmhouse and Thorn sensing a family within, not alive but moving, they grabbing fruits, but then Thorn hears a sound, she figuring it was the family, which spooks her and drags Fone away, but too quickly since he dropped their loot.

Thorn continues to hear the dead call to her for help, then relaying a message from her mother, also warning her of how to extract the locust piece from Fone and of the Hooded One being close. Thorn and Fone escape before the Hooded One gets near, and then we see Lucius getting a visit from Wendell, they discussing the Headmaster being stubborn on moving the camp and whether the villagers were willing to travel to meet the Atheians. Wendell then begins asking Lucius of his connection to Rose and her sister and whom he’d been with when he was found by Jonathan. Lucius admits his story from his youth when he’d fallen for one of the sisters, and after Wendell spoke of his concerns, Lucius decided they were going to leave. We then hear from Bartleby speaking of the rat creatures superstitions about their tails and other parts of them which were medically altered, Fone inquiring what had happened when Bartleby had returned to them, the rat creatures shunning him due to believing he wouldn’t eat the Bones and group when it was necessary, he admitting the truth to the statement, Thorn then collapsing and Gran’ma Ben reassuring of they finally reaching where the ghost circles thinned. Fone is ready for them to go through Tanen Gard in order to reach the people who can help Thorn, then being more wary when Gran’ma Ben mentions of  the trespassing penalties if caught; it being of a serious nature.

Thorn is becoming weaker as they journey on, Fone mentioning to Gran’ma Ben of what he felt when Thorn had returned them, Gran’ma Ben trying to push them more quickly, especially after Thorn mentions of the Hooded One coming. As Phoney and Smiley struggle to follow Fone, Gran’ma Ben, and Thorn, Smiley mentions how he felt ill at ease and likening it to a story of their youths when Phoney had prompted Smiley to steal pies off of windowsills, they going through the dragon graveyard feeling similarly wrong. Fone then runs to them to share the news of discovering a way across the possibly bottomless crevasse, when the ground begins to shake. Bartleby recognizes the smell first and shouts of dragons coming from the pit, everyone rushing to the slim way across, Fone being the first to slip, but being caught by Thorn, whom at first had to be carried by Gran’ma Ben, but she relaying how she was starting to feel better due to Tanen Gard, they continuing across. When they get across, which is also the end of Tanen Gard, Thorn mentions of they being clear of ghost circles and the hope of the villager survivors making their way to Atheia since she still couldn’t sense Old Man’s Cave. We then see Wendell leading the villagers toward the Stick-eater guarding Lucius, they disarming him. The Headmaster meets Lucius as he’s walking out of his cell, he again mentioning of only destruction anywhere else and they being safe there. After Lucius shares how he can’t understand why they were protecting their brotherhood when everyone was going to die anyways, the Headmaster shows his face, and finally agrees to accompany them to the Old Kingdom. We then see Kingdok surrounded by darkness and walking somewhere. Gran’ma Ben is guiding the group to higher ground for a better view of where they were heading. When they reach the top, Gran’ma Ben breaks down how long it would take them to reach Atheia and what they could have in store with two days out with no cover. Smiley and Phoney have a little quarrel which Bartleby concludes by confessing of Smiley being “aces”; this volume coming to a close and making me start the next, immediately! If my statement isn’t a testament of the staying power and greatness of this series, then I’ll be blunt: It’s quite good and if other readers have made it this far there’s no sense in stopping now.

Bone: Trilogy Tour II – Rose


For the sixth volume. I found this story should probably be read after the 7th volume, but doesn’t really hurt anything, only makes the flashbacks of Rose flow a little better. This seems to be a background story for Rose which has us start with seeing her coming back for her dogs who are glad to see her, she being pleased they’d obeyed her orders to stay where she left them and giving them a treat, the Red Dragon appearing to tell her she must get back to what she’d been originally meant to be doing with her time. Rose gives in after defending her reason for being out, the dogs sad to leave their bones behind, but the three going off, Rose wondering why she was sent on this quest by her mother, she then seeing Briar, her sister going up the side of a mountain and deciding she should follow her to see where she was going, even though Briar was supposed to be attending a class with Rose. Rose is noticed before long and chases after her despite the terrifying omen of shouting for her to flee which she ignores and is soon overcome by locusts, deciding she’ll continue forward to discover what was going on and this being where the story ends, but most likely will continue in another volume. Before completely finishing the side-story, we get a two page throw-away of Phoney Bone and Smiley in which Phoney asks why the townspeople don’t like him and Smiley believing it had to do with his unabashed love of greed and Phoney and Smiley coming up with ideas of how they could get the townspeople to admit they either loved greed or at least could warm up to it, the two believing a political party or religion centering around greed would work, but abandoning the idea in the end leaving us with the idea of the irony of their plan.

Castle Waiting is a separate comic, beginning with a nun on a picnic visiting a grave and being interrupted by an imp from Hell masquerading as someone she’d known, until she’d figured out it was a trick, the little demon going on to argue how similar they were, and she shouldn’t be so up in arms around him, whilst she offers a type of cookie not common in his fiery home. After being certain there wasn’t anything holy in the ingredients, he munches gladly and then offers to walk her to her vehicle, the nun then wondering how the creature could be walking on hallowed earth, the imp stating how it wasn’t as off-limits as it seemed and could even foot through her church if he so desired, she wondering why he didn’t then, and upon the imp learning he wasn’t barred, getting a wink as she bikes away, he calling it “a date”, and poofing into nothingness. Iiiinteresting, I may have to look further into this.

Scary Godmother begins with a little girl, Hannah Marie, her scary godmother, and the two hosting a tea party, a little boy, Orson, spying on what they were up to with a bear called Harry. Orson wanted to join in, but Harry holds him back for believing it was only for the females, since his mother had stopped him from eating the finger sammies she’d been preparing, Harry left to fend for his own tummy. Then, upon Orson hearing about the best shrimp puffs and the one man allowed to attend having arrived, he insists they figure a way to get invited, Harry not wanting to miss the “boo-fay”. Hannah Marie is then prompted to share a story as Mr. Pettibone grabs the door, Harry and Orson masquerading as exterminators and offering a limited time offer to dust the bugs, but Pettibone declares it’s unnecessary, due to another attendee having already taken care of this. The two resort to attempting to get through an outside window, but fail to make it, Orson greeting his father as the two sat, forlorn under a tree to admit their want. His father suggest he ask, Orson going for it, and Mr. Pettibone immediately allowing them entry after sprucing up their outfits, Orson now more interested in the party games then the snackies, but Harry staying focused on the plentiful variety of yum-yums. As the two sit and listen to Hannah Marie’s story though, their resolve fades a bit with boredom along with the constant story-telling and chat, but Harry finally gets his mouth full, which keeps him content. Orson is bad mouthing the state of the stories he’d had to listen to, not realizing until too late Scary Godmother was listening, she unphased and offering he share the next story, Orson down for this, but then walking in to Harry getting into the story of a series, and starting with the first one, since Hannah Marie hadn’t heard of them, Orson dreading how long this would take, Harry successfully boring everyone to sleep, then contemplating his plan for pizza and if Scary Godmother had a running bill he could take advantage of, since the party hadn’t covered what they would do for supper. Weeks later, Scary Godmother is asking Skully if he remembered ordering a multi-hell-layered pizza, he denying able to stomach it. Entertaining, but not my cuppa, which was also covered at the tea party! Har Har!

Akiko was mentioned being a stand-alone, so those who didn’t know of it could be properly introduced to the main characters (hooray for me!) It begins with a child, Kiko and an oddly looking super-hero whom looks like Neil Gaiman, called Spuckler, in search of a Mr. Beeba, they discovering a path of books where he’d been, a robot, Gax bringing this to their attention. Kiko is certain he’s been kidnapped, but Spuckler isn’t sure Mr. Beeba had the foresight to unload such a perfect plan for them to locate him so easily, Kiko not arguing, only certain they needed to get to him quickly, running off. Mr. Beeba is then shown caught in a web and attempting to sweet talk a “monster” out of harming him. Kiko and Spuckler arrive outside a cave where the book trail ends, Spuckler insisting they needed a game plan before rushing in to a place where a large creature was mostly likely lurking, he having seen massive footprints. Spuckler relieves Gax of a sharp looking implement upon his robot-hood (near his neck, pervs!), and leads them inside, he warning them to hang back a bit, and rightly so, as he’s attempting to threaten the big fella into releasing Mr. Beeba, but instead getting entwined in the creatures tongue. Mr. Beeba confesses how much entertainment he’d gotten from Spuckler’s failure, they fortunately saved by Poog, a round face which sings unintelligible words, the creature lulled to sleep and everyone returning outside, Spuckler grateful, but relating how he’d like to discuss further a way to implement Poog’s talent upon requirement, so he didn’t look a fool next time. Not bad, I believe I’d read more if I had the means or was quite bored.

Usagi Yojimbo is about a ninja rabbit, Usagi, whom also guest appeared on The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show. Usagi is in this episode called, The Guardian, and immediately has to choose which path he will go down, allowing a butterfly to make the decision, and he following complacently. He walks on to see a samurai, he greeting him pleasantly, but when the fully armored samurai stays in his way, he learns of his leader preventing any “enemy” entry. When Usagi denies being an enemy, the guard relates of anyone not under the rule of his master was an enemy, and Usagi properly disgusted by this, decides to announce of locating another way to cross, unfortunately, the guard denies him this idea, since he could be going back to inform his friends of his leader’s defenses, Usagi confiding he was a ronin and traveled alone. This guard was on guard though, and declared of all enemies dying, Usagi backed into his metaphorical corner to the point of having to teach this fool a lesson, readying to fight. Usagi pulls a fast one, and jumps over the samurai into the water, believing his armor would prevent him quick pursuit, Usagi correct and slicing him, but as he’s retreating, the samurai returns a blow and states of not failing his leader again. Usagi next wakes to a couple of monkeys (literally a couple, they referring to each other as “husband” and “wife”) wondering if he had survived, soon learning this to be so as Usagi opens his eyes. He’s shocked to see he hadn’t been killed, and then can’t believe the bridge which had been guarded was years older and broken, the couple sharing how the civil wars had brought the bridge down, a samurai having caused enemies to get through and gave the general such a good fight, he almost lost, and in his rage, trashed the bridge and the ghost unable to leave his failed mission after death. The couple then asked why he hadn’t taken the newer bridge across the way and must have gone down the wrong path, Usagi blaming the butterfly and attempting to cut it down in anger, the two monkeys regarding him with confusion as he continued to attempt to split the butterfly. Now this is entertaining, I could definitely see myself reading more of these, if I can find them.

The final comic is a two-page Bone throwaway, Smiley and Phoney discussing why Phoney was so despised in the village, Smiley figuring it was because of Phoney’s blatant selfish greed. Phoney doesn’t buy this though, since in his mind, people understood greed and only couldn’t come to terms with it. The idea of if they were able to convince people they truly did love greed, they’d have them wrapped around their little finger, Smiley building on this by suggesting he turn it into a political party, so the people would love him because they’d be voting for him, Phoney taking it a step further and thinking a religion would work much better, then almost drooling with the thought of combining the two and having an uber-greed dual politico-religion. In the end though, disbelieving it could work and going back to washing dishes whilst Smiley dried. I loves ’em! Next is the cross-over of Castle Waiting and the Bones!

Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines

This story was inspired by Little Nemo in Slumberland, the comic. We begin with Ahmed who falls off of his camel and loses the caravan he was following and notices a bird, wondering where it was going and if he or his father would fly one day, his father replying it would be another year; In this sense the story is already strange, this conversation with his father occurring before he’d fallen and been left behind, asleep and getting covered by sand until morning, when he realizes he’s now alone and thinking of what he could have done wrong to be living with such a dire fate he expects will come from his current situation. Ahmed soon uncovers a figure under the sand and prays for direction and hope his life won’t end so young, not getting and answer until he wept upon the face. Ahmed doesn’t notice the first movements of the god though, until he speaks, surprising Ahmed, the two then introducing themselves and we learning the god is named Gonn-Ben-Allah. Gonn requests Ahmed to finish digging him up, stating he shouldn’t fear death any longer if he finishes releasing him. Soon Ahmed is seeing darkness surround them, asking Gonn what it was and getting the answer of it being the “Enemy” as the other half was the “Savior”.

We then learn what the enemy is, Gonn needing Ahmed’s help as strength to the cause. Soon Gonn is making it so Ahmed’s wish of flight will come true, speaking the words which would give Ahmed the gift of flight and upon getting his first taste of this, he then learns Gonn had the plan of needing to go to a place called Yestermorrow. Ahmed soon discovers what Gonn had in mind for him to see, which would be a place both in the past and future. When Ahmed soon believes he sees his father, it becomes a bad omen to Ahmed and brings both he and Gonn, falling to the sand. Gonn disappears beneath the sand and Ahmed tries to dig him out and only being able to again uncover him when he lets the thought of his father go, then being told he must dance and sing upon Gonn’s “grave”. When Ahmed had done enough, Gonn was able to burst out and take them both back into the air; This is reminding me a little of the Peter Pan way of thought, one needing to let go of their family: the past, in order to live freely for themselves in the future. With Ahmed properly letting go, he then sees the scenery has changed and creatures he hadn’t seen before soaring off of cliffs. The two then see recognizable characters from Greek mythology, a boy and his father and a set of golden wings about to be tried out and teaching Ahmed the value of trying everything worth experiencing, at least in Gonn’s words.

As Gonn explains his reasoning for this, they are distracted by an airship made of such delicate materials it’s blown away by Ahmed’s sneeze, they then seeing a hot-air balloon, one of the balloon’s not staying in the air for long, again giving Gonn the opportunity to remind Ahmed not to refuse any sight for they all will teach a lesson. Then they see another man trying to feel the gift of flight by attaching himself to a home-made kite, which takes him up in the air, only not for long; This part reminds me of a short story in The Flying Machine which is from the Emperor’s perspective, since the man on the kite is shot down by arrows with an Emperor’s sign on the darts. This gets no response from Ahmed this time and he then confides in Gonn of how he wishes he could see his father, the god then advising him he must be patient to help give him life, since he was more like a dream in this current state and Ahmed could help him become “real”. Gonn then shows Ahmed tall buildings which men would build so high as to touch the sky and saw men who wished to fly so badly as to fling themselves off buildings with carpets under them and shouting words of flight which didn’t help their cause. Ahmed then sees the sky fill with machines Gonn dictating what words Ahmed must say to insure their forever existing. Ahmed continues to be coached by Gonn to get those asleep in bed to see the grand sight of all the machines in the air, this being the moment Gonn is horror-stricken with the idea he was going to fall out of the sky.

Ahmed soon understands why Gonn has thought this, it having to do with the sleepers who won’t awaken or won’t believe the sight to be seen, the gluttons and lazy people who will only sleep. Gonn soon is noticeably thinning to which Ahmed then decides he’ll be the one to save him, being the only one awake and powerful enough, he “proving” this by informing Gonn so and he taking his former girth. Ahmed then shares how he wished to learn more from Gonn about how he can make those who don’t, hear what he would shout to them, in essence, to be able to fly higher, faster, and longer. Gonn then confirms Ahmed had learned enough to take over where he’d left off and to return them to where he’d found him so he could cry happy tears to let him move on. Gonn confessing how he’d left his thumbprint on Ahmed when he was born and going into deeper symbology as he explains. Before Gonn goes back the way he’d come he makes an agreement with Ahmed for when he can return to see him once more, then Ahmed cries to allow Gonn back into the sand. Gonn helps Ahmed remember how to fly once more from within the sand and Ahmed then sees the caravan, his father the only one awake and mourning Ahmed, who bumps into him and praises Allah he was found. When Ahmed is about to go to sleep he makes certain Gonn is still with him who wished to be called by another name, then giving Ahmed a dream of his future.

This story was an odd, but entertaining, definitely a learning tool for children still wondering why certain days are tough and how to get through hurt feelings. Worth the read.

Bone Vol. 6: Old Man’s Cave

For the fifth volume. We discover Fone climbing a tree to get bearings as to where they were in the woods, Smiley waiting below. They’d been lost for days already and Fone still wasn’t familiar with the area, meanwhile Smiley is having trouble watching for Fone’s climb down due to a groundhog getting mad at Smiley for stepping on his home’s entrance, Fone having a moment to break his handhold and falling directly onto the groundhog. Ted the bug then finds Smiley as he’s trying to extricate Fone from his fall into the groundhog’s hole (ha ha) and Fone is as happy to see Ted, as well. The groundhog then overhears their happy reunion and who Fone was, getting scared since the rumor was Fone had killed Kingdok, he retreating inside, Ted then catching the Bones up on what had been going on, Fone getting angry with Phoney and they both being led by Ted back to where the village was.

We see Phoney in cover of the trees spying Thorn helping a family escape the burning village, meeting the rest in the brush before two groups of rat creatures approach from two sides of the clearing and everyone hiding in the darkness of the trees hoping not to be seen. The two rat creature group leaders speak of the news about Kingdok, one group leader not knowing the most recent news being of his death. The two group leaders then digress into another language which gives Wendell time to threaten Phoney for being the one with the star mentioned by the rat creatures and wanting to give him hell for getting them in this mess, Phoney cowering and knowing his words bore truth. Thorn then divulges she understood the language the two groups were speaking in, not knowing how but then giving orders as to where to take the new family and getting Wendell and a couple others to do what they had already done before, everyone having their tasks and Phoney surprised Thorn believed in his innocence. When Thorn and company get back, they don’t see the town, she making it clear they were in it already. Wendell gets newly enraged at the thought of everyone’s home being obliterated and chasing imaginary dragons because of Phoney, Thorn having to come to his rescue yet again, but not succeeding so Phoney lets out with Thorn’s secret which at first they have trouble believing.

Thorn then tries to get everyone’s attention on a trail she wanted to follow, with or without the group which she believed may lead to the other Bones. Jon, one of the group then encounters a note Thorn had written to Fone Bone and discovered it wasn’t in the place she left it, Lucius most likely having put it in the known spot for trading messages, the group, other than Thorn and Phoney deciding to check Gran’ma Ben’s farm in the morning. The two then go off in search of Fone, but the men in the group notice hooded figures, the Stick-Eaters heading towards them. When Thorn acknowledges them, one confides a message from her grandmother and where she wished Thorn to meet her, Thorn than asks what they know of Fone and they recount the latest news as to his whereabouts, she still struggling with what to do first, deciding she’ll make her final decision in the morning. We then see a dream Thorn has which shows her looking like Snow White and speaking to her younger looking grandmother who urges her to cut the vines around her, younger Lucius advises her to disobey, another young grandmother coming from behind Thorn, but not being able to see her. The younger “evil” grandmother tries to take Thorn’s sword and Thorn wakens clutching Fone’s spiked club, she walking off into the darkness.

The four left in Thorn’s group, being deserted by her during the night, end up walking in the dark trying to uncover Old Man’s Cave. The biggest in their group is still steaming about Phoney’s trouble-making ways and is about to take it out on him again when Wendell tries to hold him back, enforcing Thorn’s order to leave him alone. Gran’ma Ben soon shows up and enquires where Thorn is, stopping the two from fighting amongst themselves. They escort them back to the cave, Lucius going after Thorn. We then see where Fone and Smiley have gotten to, they soon finding themselves amongst rat creatures and when they begin threatening them with death, Thorn comes out to defend them, but upon seeing the club she brandished and giving to Fone, they truly show fear and run off for believing they were the ones to kill Kingdok. After greeting each other warmly, Thorn then figures out which direction will take them to Old Man’s Cave, then promptly heads in the opposite direction, believing they can’t be helped by anyone there, looking for shelter instead. We then see the Hooded One speaking with the Lord of the Locusts who was concerned with his interest in the one who bears the star, the Lord of the Locusts making it clear if the Hooded One’s idea failed, he’d pay for it.

We then see the Bones and Thorn spitting cherry pits at each other in the tree hollow and they getting so loud as to bring Ted back to inform them to keep it down for having to try and keep them hidden. Thorn then shares their plans to confront and over-power the Hooded One, Ted then voicing his opinion they should be going to Old Man’s Cave. Thorn still denying this to be a suitable plan and the three discussing what more is known of the Hooded One and where the Lord of the Locusts came from. Thorn then confides why the Lord of the Locusts was showing such interest in herself and Phoney and how it will aid his release from bondage, going on to confess why she doesn’t trust Gran’ma Ben at the moment and it having to do with the knowledge of a nursemaid Thorn had come to realize didn’t exist. We then see Roque Ja confronting whomever is in his presence, it turning out to be the Hooded One asking for a favor, Roque Ja turning him down before he can continue, taunting him with how he probably wouldn’t have been able to get the information from Kingdok who is now lacking an important appendage needed to speak, he coming out from the darkness as well and the Hooded One having to hold him back.

The Hooded One goes on to mention needing Roque Ja’s help in capturing the Bones once more and what state he wished the princess to be in, he accepting once he gets an agreed upon reward for his efforts. Then we see Phoney being wakened by Jon, he revealing how long Phoney’s been asleep since he’d been ill and now they all residing in Old Man’s Cave. Jon explains some of the cave’s history and Gran’ma Ben comes to see Phoney as well, he realizing her status and thinking he’s going to pay for his bad behavior, she agreeing to judge him lightly. Gran’ma Ben then takes Phoney to a part of the cave which shows drawings on the walls implying the beginning which started with a dragon queen and how the Lord of the Locusts became involved, including an ancestor of Gran’ma Ben’s and in extension, Thorn. Phoney then learns what role the rat creatures believed he would be playing in all of this, Lucius interrupting by coming to update how he hadn’t found Thorn due to her excellent training from the dragons and how they were getting boxed in by the Hooded One and rat creatures setting up camps around them. Gran’ma Ben then defends Phoney from getting decked by Lucius since he was only worried about the well-being of his cousins and when Lucius departs, he asks Gran’ma Ben who the Hooded One was, she not knowing either, but being able to clarify what would occur if he succeeded in releasing the Lord of the Locusts, the outcome not a good one.

Fone and Smiley meanwhile, are gathering water at the barn to prepare for a bath whilst Thorn was within, looking through her grandmother’s belongings. They continue to discuss what the next item of business will be for their group, they not knowing and figuring Thorn would be the leader. Thorn meanwhile is hearing their conversation and interjects what her plan is and reveals why she hadn’t told them until then. Fone puts in his two cents and Thorn expands on why she doesn’t want to go to Old Man’s Cave, but then Fone with Smiley’s help, convinces her it’s the best idea for now and they head in the same direction instead. Lucius is then shone giving command to the group following him in order to keep the rat creatures from completely surrounding Old Man’s Cave. Lucius then sees a woman who introduces herself as Briar and we learn who she’s related to, he in denial it could be her and Jonathan overseeing their conversation from within the woods, also noticing rat creatures approaching. Jonathan then shouts of their closing in and Lucius breaks away from Briar to help defend the cave. We skip to where Gran’ma Ben is updated on what was happening outside the cave, the scout not learning much and then continuing conversation with Phoney in relation to his soul and as she’s explaining she again gets the “gitchy” feeling and Phoney feels a rumbling around them. When they get outdoors they see the place where the Lord of the Locusts is trapped has a dust cloud rising up around it and then Gran’ma Ben learns of what’s happened to Lucius, he coming to inform what had happened to them, she hoping Thorn is alright. Then Roque Ja comes out from behind Gran’ma Ben’s farmhouse sniffing around and seemingly stalking Thorn and co.

Lucius reports back to Gran’ma Ben of who he’d seen as the Hooded One to which she has trouble believing for the one mentioned was thought to be dead, after only seeming to feel pity for her. Gran’ma Ben goes on to share no one else coming to help them and they would most likely be fighting among their own, alone. Wendell then walks up demanding for Phoney to be given to them since he’s the one the rat creatures are looking for and being in this mess because of him. Gran’ma Ben tries to appeal to Wendell and those with him they shouldn’t hand over the one thing they were after if they believed it would help release the Lord of the Locusts, but whilst they were being held off, Phoney takes off and so Gran’ma Ben spreads everyone out looking for him so he doesn’t get caught by the enemies and lose the war inadvertently because of his absence, she going off in search of him on her own and being seen by Roque Ja. Gran’ma Ben notices Phoney and stops him before he made matters worse, Lucius coming up behind the two and Roque Ja looking ready to act, Lucius warning her and Roque Ja pouncing, getting Gran’ma Ben, Lucius jumping on him and the three falling off the cliff. Gran’ma Ben starts by punching the lion though, showing her strength isn’t only rumors, Phoney continuing his ditching of them.

Roque Ja ignores them after and mentions his targets being Phoney and “the princess”, we then seeing Phoney run straight into Fone, Thorn and Smiley walking close behind. Phoney explain how he’d been to Old Man’s Cave and it not being safe anymore and then of Gran’ma Ben’s run in with Roque Ja, which makes Thorn want to go and defend her, Phoney and Fone trying to stop her, but not getting far since Roque Ja had followed Phoney and swatted Thorn out of the way. Fone gets swatted down some boulders and Roque Ja picks up Thorn and Phoney to finish his mission, Smiley trying to get Fone to wake up, but he’s gone into his dreams and sees the Red Dragon there stating for him to wake up and of Thorn’s condition, needing him to follow her. After the Red Dragon conveys how he won’t be able to go with him, Fone wakes and Smiley tells him which direction they’d gone, the two running after Roque Ja.

We then see Gran’ma Ben tending to Lucius who had been hurt, but advising her to make haste for Roque Ja so she can try and divert the lion from succeeding in catching Thorn or Phoney, he assuring her he’ll be going back to Old Man’s Cave and so Gran’ma Ben follows their trail. Smiley and Fone are then shown running over some rocks to where they witness Kingdok, some rat creatures and the Hooded One, Phoney having been bound on a flat stone, the Hooded One remarking how he may have evaded them for some time, but he was caught now and his mystic powers must not be as strong as he thought, Phoney denying knowing anything about this and admitting it was a big misunderstanding and refusing to take part in the Hooded One’s ritual to release the Lord of the Locusts, but she warning Phoney if he didn’t help her willingly she’d accept him as a sacrifice, Bone trying to reason with her, but the Hooded One then showing how the foretelling of Phoney’s coming had been known, an obvious sign, appearing through the thick smoke behind her.

Phoney then realizes what they’d seen and how Fone would definitely be mad if he knew, Fone and Smiley putting two and two together and the balloon shaped like one of the Bones being the cause of them being run out of Boneville. Gran’ma Ben then tries to stop the Hooded One from continuing the sacrifice, after Bone had tried to explain what the balloon had been for and the message beneath, it having a banner at the bottom which was ripped, partially. Gran’ma Ben then speaks of the mistake the Hooded One had made and how the balloon wasn’t the one needed to free the Lord of Locusts but Thorn, who the Hooded One said was dead. Kingdok then goes on to berate how the Hooded One had disgraced his people with the mistake made and then we see what happens to the Hooded One due to the incompetence allowed to play out. Fone goes to Thorn and gives her the necklace the dragon had given him whilst he’d been unconscious, meanwhile locusts having covered her, but when he gives her the necklace, she awakens and Gran’ma Ben and the Bones all try to make sure she can walk so they can escape the area due to it’s instability. Thorn stops only for a moment to put up her hood, giving the impression they haven’t quite saved her yet and this volume ending. I won’t like pausing in the story, but there’s a side-story to be read: Rose, but this volume and the whole series so far is definitely worth the effort.