Castle Waiting (Issue #1, Bone Crossover)

Image result for castle waiting issue #1 book cover

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Little Sisters of Eluria (The Dark Tower 0.5)

Image result for little sisters of eluria book cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rose Madder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Year Three)

 

Harry is revealed to loathe the summer holiday, he studying undercover, to attempt writing an essay about witch burning in the 14th century. He listens for any movement would definitely be punished if caught. Harry smuggles some of his locked up school books from the closet to his room, he being extra careful to stay out of his Aunt and Uncle’s way for Ron having called one day and Vernon answering. After the trouble made from Ron’s loud call, Harry didn’t receive anymore correspondence over the phone. After ending his studying for the night, he realizes it was his birthday (he claiming he’d never gotten a birthday card before, which I forget whether is accurate), Hedwig having been gone a couple nights since Vernon had given in to Harry letting her out at night due to the noise she’d make if sequestered for too long. A recap of Harry’s history with Voldemort is mentioned, then he sees three owls heading for his window, the one being carried belonging to Ron. Harry read the article accompanying the letter, Ron and family visiting his eldest brother, Bill in Egypt. The present with this was a Pocket Sneakoscope, he then opening the letter and present from Hermione, her gift a Broomstick Servicing Kit, Harry impressed. Hagrid’s gift was a snapping monster book (he expecting a book from Hermione, the monster-related part definitely making sense from Hagrid, though), which he had to bind, then opening the letter from Hogwarts which included a permission slip to go to the wizard-town, Hogsmeade on certain weekends, he contemplating how he’d get it signed, but going to bed, to worry about it in the morning.

When Harry goes down to the kitchen next morning, the Dursleys were watching their new TV as they ate, the news detailing an escaped prisoner, Black, Vernon then sharing he’d have to leave soon after having shared his opinion about what should be done to prisoners, he off to pick up Aunt Marge at the airport, Harry reacting with horrified discomfort. As Vernon readied to leave in the hall, Harry attempts to bribe him to sign his permission slip, Vernon agreeing (but it falling through, quite conceivably), Harry then sending a note with Hedwig for Ron to allow her to stay for the week of Aunt Marge’s stay. During the time he endured with her, he had a slight accident whilst she spoke of Harry’s mother in comparison to dogs, but the last day arrived, and Harry took all he could bear before ballooning Marge, and making a hasty exit after gathering his belongings.

Harry contemplated on how screwed he was, with nowhere to go, no means of contacting Ron and Hermione, and most certainly expelled from Hogwarts. Then when Harry felt as if he was being watched, he raises his wand to illumine the area, he inadvertently stopping the Knight Bus, whatever Harry had attempted to see, no longer there. He then gives the young conductor-like man Neville’s name due to the suspicious look he threw at Harry, and as they traveled Harry recognizes Black on the front of Stan, the young man’s newspaper, he letting Harry read the story. Sirius Black is mentioned being crazy, armed, and Fudge informing the Muggle Prime Minister for precaution, Black’s history of having killed over a baker’s dozen of people with a curse. Stan mentions Black’s support of Voldemort, the details of how he’d killed the people, and his capture. When the previous riders all left the bus, Harry asks to be dropped at Diagon Alley, and when he exits the bus, he’s met by Minister Fudge, he giving away Harry’s identity to an excited Stan. When the two are seated in a private room, Fudge shares how they’d handled his blown up Aunt, and happy Harry wasn’t hurt. He then suggests Harry stay in a room at the Leaky Cauldron for the remainder of his vacation, Harry sensing this suggestion odd, Fudge not normally involving himself in underage magic rule-breakers. When Fudge returns with the news of which room he’d be staying in and his curfew, as well as not to wander in Muggle London, he leaves. Harry then is led to his room by the owner, he surprised by Hedwig waiting inside for him, then going to sleep.

Harry made good use of his free time, also enjoying the ability to sleep-in and choose his own menu. He would spend time people-watching in the Leaky Cauldron, and studied at an ice cream parlour with the help of the proprietor whom also supplied free sundaes for him. One item which tested Harry’s spending skills was the latest broom at the Quidditch store, instead he buying replenishments for his potions supply, a better fitting robe, and school books. When entering the shop, he realized Hagrid had taken care of one of his required books, the next one he needed being pointed out by the book keeper, but Harry becoming entranced by a death omens book which depicted a large black dog which seemed familiar, but continues with his requested reading selections, afterward dropping everything off in his room. Soon enough, it’s his last day of vacation, he being spotted by Ron with Hermione at the ice cream parlour. Soon Hermione talks of getting her own owl, whilst Ron dealt with his rat Scabbers’ pallid state at the pet shop. As Ron was getting his rat tonic, a cat jumped on his head, scaring Scabbers out the door, Hermione coming out of the shop with the orange fatty, completely content with her buy of Crookshanks. They go back to the Leaky Cauldron where Harry is greeted first by Mr. Weasley, then Mrs. Weasley as she returned with Fred, George, Percy, and Ginny. Everyone had their dinner together, and when returning to their rooms to finalize packing, Harry hears Percy and Ron arguing about missing items, Harry helping Ron out by retrieving Scabbers’ tonic, down in the bar, he overhearing an argument between Mr. and Mrs. Weasley over Black coming after Harry. He hears them settle the argument and return upstairs, Harry locating Scabbers’ rat tonic, giving Ron the remedy and learning from Fred and George what had become of Percy’s badge. Harry then also realizing he would have no chance visiting Hogsmeade with Black on the loose.

Harry is in the process of getting ready the next morning when Ron enters, sharing the new accusation he’s now suffering from Percy, Harry about to share his news when interrupted by the twins who were giving Ron their kudos for his irritating Percy. The boys go down where everyone else is waiting, their rides arriving soon after. Mr. Weasley sticks close to Harry, even walking him through the barrier when they arrived early for a change. As everyone was being given a sandwich by Mrs. Weasley, Mr. Weasley was about to inform Harry privately of the danger he was in, Harry making it easy on him by confessing he’d heard the two talking and not to worry, since he wasn’t. Mr. Weasley then attempts to have Harry promise him, no matter what he heard about Black, not to go looking for him, the train by this time about to leave, so Harry having to rush on board. Harry then insisted on speaking with Ron and Hermione alone, the three going to the last compartment, which had an adult passenger dozing, it uncommon to see anyone but students on the train. Hermione was first to mention the man’s name on his luggage, Professor Lupin, Harry then confiding the information of Black after him, the two taking the news gravely. Ron then notices a noise which they soon connect to the Sneakoscope, Harry having to deaden the sound by smothering it with socks from his luggage. As the group switched subjects to Hogsmeade, Harry informs them of he not allowed to go, the two considering whom Harry could ask for permission. When no ideas stuck, they passed the time idly until the food cart came, Malfoy showing up later with Crabbe and Goyle, but the three backing off when seeing the professor. Soon they notice the train was slowing, but they weren’t yet at Hogwarts.

The lights go out once the train fully stops, Hermione leaving the compartment after Neville joined them, planning to ask the conductor what was happening when she runs into Ginny, Ron seeing people entering the train and Lupin finally waking. He lights the compartment with small flames when a figure wearing a hooded cloak walks in, Harry noticing the hand protruding from the covered figure not looking plump with life. As the figure breathed in, Harry could no longer take in a breath and felt cold. When he comes to, the train is moving, Harry asking whom had screamed, no one else having heard, Lupin giving everyone a piece of chocolate and sharing what they’d seen being a dementor. After again insisting Harry eat the chocolate to make him feel better, he exits to speak with the driver. Ron and Hermione then relate to Harry what had happened to him and how Lupin had made the dementor leave. When they reach Hogsmeade station, they go to the awaiting carriages, when they reach Hogwarts, Malfoy accosts them once more to ask if Harry had actually blacked out, he being turned away once more when Lupin gets out of his carriage. When they enter, McGonagall calls for Harry and Hermione to follow her to her office, Harry then learning it was related to his reaction to the dementor on the train, he irritated by the attention and insisting he was alright. He was then sent outside to wait so McGonagall could speak with Hermione about her schedule. After, they all return to the dining hall, Harry in the process of updating Ron, but Dumbledore standing to make a speech, Harry shutting up to listen. After noting the dementors presence, he introduces the new professors, Lupin getting a look of hate from Snape, the next professor mentioned being Hagrid, whom would be teaching Care of Magical Creatures to the trios shocked delight. After the feast they give their congratulations to Hagrid, then go to their dorms, Harry quite pleased to be back.

The trio enter the dining hall to Malfoy reliving his own version of what happened to Harry on the train with a group of Slytherin youth. Fred and George cheer him up with schooling Malfoy at Quidditch this year as a consolation for his big mouth, and Malfoy’s reaction to the dementors being quite embarrassing, as well. Ron then notices Hermione’s full schedule, a few starting at the same time. The three then quickly finish breakfast so they could locate their first class, Divination, getting help from a knight in a picture. When the class begins, Professor Trelawney appears slowly, speaking how this class would be difficult to pass without the Sight. She proceeds to freak the class out with upcoming events, one foreboding statement of someone leaving forever near Easter, she then giving the first assignment of reading tea leaves. Ron and Harry get a kick out of attempting to read the other’s cup when Trelawney comes to look at Harry’s and what she sees eventually makes her swoon. Harry’s cup had the Grim omen of death, which is a large ghostly dog which haunts churchyards, Harry recalling the book he’d seen at the bookshop and seeing a similar dog on a cover. After the ill-fortune being told, the class ends early and they’re off to Transfiguration where McGonagall soon notices how distracted the class was to be unphased by her turning into a cat, Hermione explaining why, and McGonagall calming them with Trelawney’s penchant to choosing someone to die on every new term, it not having happened yet.

Ron is still spooked by lunch, Harry sharing how he’d seen a Grim already when he caught the Knight bus, but it soon falling to Ron and Hermione bickering over psychic reliability. They were then off to Hagrid’s for their Magical Creature’s lesson, Harry soon spotting Malfoy and goons, but no time wasted on them, Hagrid anxious to have the class see what he had in store for them. After leading the group to an empty paddock, Hagrid learns his students hadn’t figured out how to open their books yet, showing them how easy it was to coax the buggers to be complacent. Then he goes to lead their study subjects to the group: Hippogriffs. The animals looked, and were quite intimidating, but Harry offered to be first to approach one, he going through the formalities Hagrid coached him through, and the Hippogriff allowing Harry to touch him, then ride him, the rest of the class following suit, but Malfoy ruining it by insulting the Hippogriff, and getting hurt. The class disbanded to their common rooms as Hagrid took Malfoy to the nurse, Harry and friends still not seeing Hagrid at dinner, but noticing his light on after, they off for a visit. Hagrid was drowning his sorrows and the group attempts to convince him it was Malfoy’s stupidity and was acting more hurt than he was. Hagrid overcome with their positive reinforcement, and after calming down, realizes Harry was outside at night, he switching to getting mad and escorting them all back.

Malfoy returns to classes late on Thursday, during Potions class, Harry and Ron soon to be put upon by Malfoy needing all chopping and busy-work to be done for him, and since he’d decided to set up right by them, they are the slaves. Malfoy also lets on he was milking his injury for the pleasure of getting Hagrid fired, and of course to be waited on. Then they learn through another classmate of how Sirius Black was spotted nearby, Malfoy partially letting on to some knowledge of why Harry should look for him, but leaving them wondering. Another confusing moment happens with Hermione disappears and reappears, she making an excuse, but Ron still wondering what she was hiding from them. They then have Defense Against the Dark Arts, Lupin taking the class out of the classroom for their first subject, Peeves and how Lupin deals with his insubordination by not removing gum from a key hole, they then moving on after viewing the useful spell, to the teacher’s lounge where a boggart awaited them in a closet, Lupin instructing them to picture their worst fears in a ridiculous way so as to complete the spell he teaches them, they doing this with no problem, and Harry not having needed worry since he didn’t get a turn with the boggart. Harry and group left, he wondering why he hadn’t gotten a turn, but also learning Lupin had a fear of crystal balls, mysteriously (at least, according to a student).

Defense Against the Dark Arts was soon many students favorite class, whilst Potions with Snape was fast becoming the worst since he’d found out about the boggart and Neville’s dress choice, he receiving the brunt of abuse, but Harry not enjoying it either.  As for Divination, Harry was losing patience with the classwork and Trelawney, Care of Magical Creatures taking a dive, as well since Hagrid had seemed to become timid, and so the class now were learning of a kind of worm. Harry was then saved by the Quidditch season nearing, their first team meeting being scheduled. After returning to the common room after first practice, Harry learned the first visit to Hogsmeade had been determined for the end of October, so Harry was convinced by Ron to ask McGonagall for mercy, he then settling to do his Astronomy assignment. Ron then gets a scare when Crookshanks attacks his bag for a resting Scabbers, he retrieving the rat physically unharmed, but this fueling him to insist Hermione get a handle on the cat. The next day, Harry was set on asking McGonagall after Transfiguration class about his fate on going to Hogsmeade, but his request didn’t work in his favor.

The day for Hogsmeade quickly arrives, Hermione and Ron having made up over their pets not getting along what with feeling bad for Harry, promising him souvenirs, Harry attempting neutrality on his stay. He walks the two to where everyone was readying to go, then goes to the common room where Colin spots him quickly. So as not to get stuck with him, Harry excuses himself with going to the library to get some assignments done, leaving, but as he’s on his way, changes his mind to go elsewhere, and runs into Filch, he commanding Harry return to his common area, he deciding he’d visit Hedwig instead, when Lupin calls to him, wondering why he was wandering alone, then showing him what creature the class would study next. When the two sat having a cup of tea, Harry asks about why Lupin hadn’t allowed him to take a turn with the boggart, Lupin confessing it was because he thought Harry would conjure Voldemort. Harry confides he’d actually been thinking of the dementors, to Lupin’s surprise, but impressed with Harry’s logical fear. Snape drops by with a requested potion for Lupin, then exits, Harry divulging Snape’s history with the Dark Arts and ambition about teaching Lupin’s subject, he paying no mind, and then dismissing Harry so as to get back to work. Later, Ron and Hermione return with sweets for Harry as they promised. After hearing about all the interesting places they’d visited, Harry told them of Snape, the group walking to the Great Hall as they discussed this. The feast was magnificent and couldn’t even be spoiled for Harry by a comment from Malfoy. As they walk back to the common room, there was a holdup at the portrait, Percy calling for Dumbledore, and the trio seeing someone had slashed the painting. When Dumbledore had ordered Filch to go locate the Fat Lady, Peeves comes by joyfully and spills where he’d seen her last, and of Sirius Black being the one whom had attempted to enter.

Dumbledore has the Gryffindors wait in the Great Hall, soon being met by the confused other houses, everyone soon learning they’d be spending the night there whilst the castle was searched, Head Boy and Girl designated as guards and Dumbledore magicking everyone a sleeping bag before exiting. The students talk with fervor over how Black could’ve gotten in, Hermione rolling her eyes to most suggestions since knowing the grounds were charmed, and the dementors having all entrances guarded. At three in the morning the chatter quieted, Dumbledore returning and speaking with Percy near Harry and duo, they listening about how no one was found and Gryffindor would be allowed to return to the dorms the next night, Snape also approaching to inform all other areas had turned up nothing, then speaking cryptically since Percy was still present, but letting on how he thought Black could’ve gotten help from within the castle, Dumbledore not believing the validity and dismissing the idea, off to relay to the dementors of the search being done, Percy then asks if the dementors had wanted to help, and Dumbledore stating how of course they had, but having vowed not to ever let one inside. The three separate, leaving Harry and crew wondering the finer details. Over the next days, Black was main chat topic, Gryffindors not happy with their replacement portrait of Sir Cadogan, whom when not challenging people to duels, changed the password too often, complaints to Percy being met with the information of Sir Cadogan being the only taker brave enough to accept the duty. Harry was more affected by the reaction of teachers and Percy, the latter Harry sensed was caused by Mrs. Weasley, all keeping a close watch of him, McGonagall summoning Harry to her office to discuss the issues with his late practices of Quidditch, she deciding a chaperone would be given.

As the match got closer, Oliver breaks the news of Gryffindor now playing Hufflepuff since Slytherin had backed out with the excuse of Malfoy’s arm having not healed, but more likely due to the damp weather, Harry pissed since knowing it was a fallacy, but Oliver relating they couldn’t prove it. The couple days before the match had Harry dealing with Oliver giving him pointers between classes since Hufflepuff had a new captain, and he was a seeker, but the chats making Harry late for Defense Against the Dark Arts one day, and instead of seeing Lupin, Snape waiting and deciding Gryffindor would lose ten points, in the end losing fifteen in total for not complying with commands to sit and asking after Lupin, Snape making remarks to Lupin’s disorganization and the class defending him. Snape disregards this, deciding they’d learn of werewolves, giving them a hard time when no one, but Hermione knew how to spot one from an actual wolf. When she interrupts twice to answer, Snape takes away more points and announces the cause being for her “know-it-all”-style, upsetting her, and Ron defending her, getting a detention. The rest of the lesson silent with note-taking and Snape’s criticisms on past test scores given. Ron had to stay after class for his detention details, Snape giving homework on the subject gone over. When Harry and Hermione go outside to wait for Ron in the hall, they complain of Snape and hoped Lupin returned soon, Ron coming out to meet them with his task being bedpan cleaning in the hospital wing without the aid of magic.

The next morning Harry is woken by Peeves so early it’s still dark, but unable to return to sleep with Quidditch in a few hours, Harry dresses and takes his gear, on his way out, having to stop Crookshanks from going in the boys dorm, making Harry suspicious, knowing how many mice were up for pouncing in the building. Harry waits in the common room until he thinks it’s breakfast time, Crookshanks making a few more tries to get into the boys’ dorm. Harry was finishing his meal as the rest of the team came in, Oliver obviously nervous, the team discovering how much when he didn’t even give them a pep talk, the game readying to begin in the windy storm. Harry was soon drenched and stiff with cold, he almost getting hit by a Bludger twice with the scene difficult to view, Oliver calling a time-out, and Harry explaining the trouble he’s having spotting the Snitch, Hermione helping him with a spell to repel rain, he now able to see, and the game starting back up, Harry prowling for the Snitch and being distracted with the vision of a large black dog in the stands, disappearing with another lightning flash. Oliver warns Harry to watch out, Cedric, the other captain, heading at him with his eyes on the Snitch. Harry goes after it, as well, until noticing a swarm of dementors below him, he again hearing screaming, and the impression of seeing his mother protecting him, he blacking out and next hearing voices speak, he coming to with his team, Ron, and Hermione around him in the infirmary, they speaking of how Harry had plummeted to the ground. He then learns he’d outrightly lost the game this time, Fred and George attempting to make him feel better with their odds of still being in the tourney. When the team is told to leave, Ron and Hermione share of Dumbledore helping Harry to fall slower, shooing the dementors out, and having a floating stretcher take him off-field, Harry’s broomstick being destroyed by the Whomping Willow.

Harry had to stay in the infirmary over the weekend, but he not minding, only insisting on keeping his Nimbus remnants despite Pomfrey wanting to dispose of it, Harry affected by losing his loyal broom. Many visitors came and went, but none truly helping Harry for not knowing his true trouble, the Grim seeming to follow him, he unable to speak to Ron and Hermione about it, and the dementors also worrying him. He slept fitfully, but content with returning to normal class procedures on Monday, despite Malfoy making impressions of his fall, Malfoy’s arm fully healed…now. When he didn’t let up in Potions, Ron loses Gryffindor fifty points for chucking a crocodile heart at Malfoy’s face. Lupin returns after this and is greeted by everyone breaking out into complaints of Snape and their homework, Lupin deciding they could disregard it, but Hermione already having it finished. The lesson was a good one, Harry being asked to stay after class because Lupin asked after the damage of his broomstick, Harry taking the moment to ask why he was affected by dementors so strongly, Lupin supplying it was because most kids Harry’s age hadn’t experienced anything close to trauma like his, Harry confessing what he hears, then Lupin discussing with Harry why the dementors had trespassed onto the field, he believing it was caused by their hunger, Harry then stating of how the prison must be, Lupin agreeing it’s depravity, most prisoners losing their minds shortly after entering. Harry then remembers how Lupin had fended the one dementor off, hoping he could teach him, Lupin agreeing, but needing to wait due to his illness hitting at an inopportune time.

During winter, Harry’s mood took a turn for the better when the next Quidditch match had determined Gryffindor still having hope to win, Oliver grinding the team down for practices with renewed vigor. Harry was also grateful Ron and Hermione were staying at Hogwarts over vacation, but wasn’t so happy to hear of another trip to Hogsmeade being set before term ended. When the day came, Harry borrowed a book on models of brooms from Oliver and planned on spending his day learning of what style of broom would suit to replace his Nimbus, he waylaid on his walk back to the common room by Fred and George giving him his Christmas present early, to Harry, only looking like a blank piece of parchment. Fred and George explaining how they’d come by it, then showing how to use it, they having met Harry at the last unknown entrance into Hogsmeade, the two going off with plans of seeing him in Honeydukes. Harry weighed his options on whether to go for a moment, then taking the passage to Hogsmeade. The trek took what seemed a long time, ending in a couple hundred steps, but making it to the basement of Honeydukes, where he edged past one of the owners, backing out from behind the counter, and blending in with the swarm of Hogwarts students, Harry imagining how Dudley would automatically get Diabetes looking at the place. Harry spots Ron and Hermione in the unusual taste department and surprise them as Ron searches for a good choice for Harry, he then sharing of the Marauder’s Map, Ron annoyed why it hadn’t been bequeathed to him, Hermione believing Harry would turn it in to McGonagall, and then Harry stating how useful it could be, also reasoning how Sirius Black couldn’t know of the open passage, plus dementors crawling all over town being a big deflector. Hermione still worries for Harry, but Ron and he have moved on to other sweet wonders after getting begrudging approval.

The trio head out into a blizzard, Ron suggesting the Three Broomsticks for butterbeer, Harry fully agreeing for not having dressed for the weather. Then, as they’re enjoying the refreshment, McGonagall, Hagrid, Flitwick, and Fudge walk in, Harry getting dunked under the table, Hermione moving the Christmas tree in front of them, and the teacher’s sitting down right next to their table. Soon, Fudge is discussing the possibility of Sirius Black’s whereabouts still expected to being close by with the group and the proprietress, Rosmerta. He continues to share Black’s worst deed not being the one most known, he explaining how Black and James Potter had been besties way back and troublemakers which Hagrid believed were only barely topped by Fred and George, everyone going on about Black being Harry’s Godfather and how the friendship had lasted for years, he being chosen to keep the location of the Potters secret since Voldemort was after them, Black suspected of playing mole for him. Rosmerta, surprised since knowing Black from his youth and didn’t believe he’d have been a Voldemort supporter. Hagrid then gets quite angry over how he’d been fooled by Black right after he’d saved Harry, going on to describe how Black had given him his flying bike (and there begins Book 1). Then it’s told of another friend of Lily and James Potter, Peter Pettigrew having died attempting to capture Black, discussing how it had ended and Fudge’s encounter with him being in quite sound mind despite the constant dementor guard. The group soon taking their leave after this, Ron and Hermione uncertain how to break the silence after all they’d heard.

Harry’s shell-shocked by the conversation, he not remembering how he made it back to Hogwarts so easily, Ron and Hermione only looking at him worriedly at dinner, Harry secluding himself to his bed and looking at the photo album from Hagrid to end his night. He finds a picture of his parents with Black on their wedding day, he thinking of how Black was unaffected by dementors despite what he’d supposedly done to betray his parents, he not getting to sleep until dawn, and when getting up, is told how bad he looked, he having forgotten it was the start of their holidays, Ron and Hermione then broaching the subject of Harry hopefully seeing reason and wouldn’t go after Black, Harry confessing the screams he heard when around dementors, he not certain how he wanted to handle Black, but having to do something. Harry then discusses what Black’s role to Voldemort could’ve been, Ron then suggesting they should visit Hagrid, he hoping it’d lighten the mood, Harry agreeing, but only to learn more about why Hagrid had kept so much information about Black from him. When they get there, they hear odd noises from inside, Harry yelling and knocking, Hagrid finally appearing, and looking distraught. When Ron and Hermione help Hagrid to sit, Harry is offered the letter Hagrid received which had caused his pain, it regarding his innocence to the hippogriff incident, but Buckbeak and Hagrid required to go to a hearing concerning what would become of the bird by the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures, the odds not in their favor. Hermione attempts to show positivity by the need for building a defense, but Hagrid knew the committee had been strong-armed by Lucius, and upon more talking, Ron making tea, Hagrid calming, and the subject of Azkaban coming up, Hagrid confiding the sorts of memories he’d suffered. By the end of the visit, Ron and Hermione had gotten what they’d wanted out of their chat with Hagrid since Harry now had another focus, the three borrowing books next day from the library which could help Hagrid with his case.

Then Christmas arrives with Ron waking Harry ceremoniously with a pillow hit, the two discovering their Christmas sweaters and hearty foodstuffs from Mrs. Weasley, he locating a slimmer present under them all, the two marveling at the Firebolt broomstick by an anonymous gift-giver, Ron suggesting Dumbledore, then Lupin, and when Hermione comes in and hears about the mysterious gift, is first to sense danger, but all being distracted when Crookshanks jumps on Ron, he hurting his foot when accidentally hitting Harry’s chest. Hermione finally listens to Ron and takes the cat out when Harry’s Sneakoscope falls out of his sock and whirs. Harry then seeing Scabbers for the first time in a while, noting how scrawny and patchy the once fat rat had become. The three move to the common room where Ron and Hermione are now freshly aggravated with each other, Harry also getting on Hermione’s nerves for bringing the Firebolt with him. At lunch, one table was set and shared by the teachers and six students including the trio, Dumbledore wishing them a happy Christmas, giving Snape a cracker where a witches hat pops out, Snape giving it to Dumbledore, whom immediately dons it. As Dumbledore then bids everyone begin, Trelawney (of whom I’ve started to make notes calling her Tre, making me think of Tre Cool) floats in, she having planned to dine alone, but her crystal-gazing telling her otherwise, but after Dumbledore magicked a chair for her, she refuses to sit, for making the table thirteen. McGonagall convinces her to sit, she then noticing Lupin not being present, Dumbledore sharing of his being sick again, McGonagall giving Trelawney a hard time what with supposedly having the ability to see what was happening, Trelawney sharing she acted like she didn’t so it wouldn’t make people feel weird, she then professing of Lupin leaving them soon, Dumbledore dismissing the statement when confirming with Snape of having made the same remedy. Trelawney acts fine throughout, until the end of the meal when Ron and Harry get up first, McGonagall downplaying Trelawney’s shrieking reaction, and Hermione sharing of staying a bit longer to speak with McGonagall.  The boys return to the common room where Harry brings out the Firebolt once more, the two gazing at it in wonderment until Hermione comes in with McGonagall, the former sitting and blocking her face with an upside-down book whilst McGonagall confirmed Hermione’s story of the Firebolt not coming with any personal identification from Harry, then informing him she was going to confiscate it until it was tested for jinxes, Ron exploding at Hermione when McGonagall leaves, she confessing rebelliously of how she suspected the broom was from Sirius Black.

Harry was upset with Hermione despite knowing she had good intentions, he convinced the Firebolt wasn’t sabotaged, and wondering how the tests would affect its riding capabilities, Ron was infuriated by the thought of the Firebolt’s dismantling, Hermione sticking unapologetically to her belief she’d done rightly, but leaving the two to themselves for the rest of vacation. When the other students returned, Oliver came to speak with Harry about his dementor situation, Harry interrupting him before he got kicked off the team, Oliver also then learning how Harry had gotten the Firebolt and lost it, he vowing to speak with McGonagall about the issue, unable to accept the stripping down of it, either. The first day of classes brought the caring of salamanders whom dwelled in flames, palmistry in Divination, and Harry setting up his dementor spell training, Ron wondering what Lupin had been sick with and Hermione baiting him with knowing, but Ron not falling for her attempt at getting them to speak with her and deciding it was the reason since she didn’t go through with sharing. Harry meet up with Lupin at the designated time and place, Lupin having a big case, he having found a second boggart to practice with, Harry attempting to hide his nerves. After learning the spell, Lupin releases the boggart-dementor, but Harry doesn’t succeed and must take a break before trying again with a different happy memory. The second time failing as well, Harry confiding hearing his dad this time, Lupin confessing he’d known and was friends with him, Harry then attempting the spell one last time, he succeeding, then asking if Lupin had known Sirius Black as well, he admitting this and then ending the session, to be continued next week.

Harry soon became bogged down with practices five times per week for Quidditch, he having one day to complete school work, but Hermione was overrun with assignments, she no longer socializing for all her work. Ron wondered aloud how she was doing it, Harry not answering for doing his own essay, but then being interrupted by Oliver, whom had spoken with McGonagall to no good effect, Harry refusing to order a broom like Malfoy’s. Harry had started to take learning about the Firebolt’s condition in his own hands as the Quidditch match neared, McGonagall updating him and making it clear from here on, she’d locate him if his broom was ready, hearing from him every day taking toll on her patience. He also stagnated progress with the Patronus spell, he unable to get the silvery cloud to push the boggart-dementor back. Lupin stays positive about Harry’s progression, even though Harry was giving himself a hard time, Lupin deciding a treat of butterbeer could lighten his mood, Harry asking about what was under a dementor’s hood, Lupin stating how no one with sanity would know, depicting of they only revealing their mouths for a Dementor’s Kiss, Sirius Black in the running for one, now as incentive to the dementors. They end the practice upon finishing their drinks, Harry so overcome with the terrible information, he runs straight into McGonagall with her good tidings, as well as his broom, he immediately brightening and Ron showing up looking gleeful, they returning to the common room where everyone had a chance to pass it around, Hermione staying out of it, but the three talking again, Ron taking Harry’s broom to their room and giving Scabbers his tonic, but returning with a sheet with blood on it, and red cat hairs.

From Harry’s viewpoint, Ron and Hermione’s friendship was taking its last breath, the two not considering the other’s side of why they were mad, Harry not making it any better when attempting to have Hermione see how obvious it looked about Crookshanks’ guilt. Ron was moping over Scabbers, Harry offering a ride on the Firebolt to cheer him up, it succeeding. Harry practices with the team first, it being their best, yet, Harry owning the field and catching the Snitch easily, Oliver so pleased, he didn’t criticize anyone for once. After Ron has his ride, Harry gets a scare when seeing eyes which belonged to Crookshanks staring at him, thinking it was the Grim, again, the two returning to the castle. In the morning, Harry officially brings out his Firebolt, everyone admiring it at breakfast, afterwards the team readying for the game, Harry secreting his wand in case a swarm of dementors reappeared. When they start, Harry gets a bit unnerved by the other Seeker’s beauty, but when seeing the Snitch, is able to go so fast, he ditches her, but loses the Snitch due to a Bludger getting in his path. The opposing Seeker continues to tail Harry rather than go after the Snitch, so Harry attempts to teach her a lesson by feigning a dive and pulling out of it, she going down, he then seeing the Snitch at the Ravenclaw goal-post, but upon noticing a few dementors on the field looking at him, he does his spell effortlessly and catches the Snitch, everyone going wild. Lupin gets a chance to commend Harry on his spell-casting, also revealing the dementors were actually Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, and the Slytherin Captain, Harry scaring them with his silvery cloud creature, McGonagall taking points from them, giving them detention, and awaiting to report to Dumbledore. Harry and the team leave to have a victory party in their common room, Harry trying to get Hermione to join in, but she studying and Ron making it clear he hadn’t forgiven her by shouting into the room of Scabbers not being able to eat his favorite treat anymore, Hermione becoming upset and leaving for the dorms. Ron explains how if she’d at least show some sympathy for him, he’d let it go, but she resisting due to not feeling responsible. The party continues past midnight, Harry falling asleep quickly when it was broken up, and having an odd dream, then being woken abruptly when Ron shouts of seeing Sirius Black slashing his curtain. Many return to the common room, Percy attempting to talk him down for it being a nightmare, but Ron insists, McGonagall showing up and he persisting on she asking Sir Cadogan if he had let anyone in, he confirming he did since the man carried a paper with the week’s passwords, Neville upon hearing, is horrified.

Everyone in Gryffindor stay up to hear the update by dawn of Sirius Black again escaping. The staff makes Hogwarts even more secure by boarding up any possibly entrances, training inanimate objects to facially recognize Black, and the Fat Lady coming back with body guards. Harry still battled informing a school official about the Honeydukes passage, Ron easing his mind, by reasoning of they hearing about if the shop were to be strong-armed. Ron was reveling in his newfound celebrity, and wondering why Black had fled instead of taking the boys out. Neville was having a pretty bad time with his punishments from McGonagall, but to top it off, his granny sent him a Howler, and Harry got a letter from Hagrid to meet up later. Ron and Harry go to the meeting spot, and once inside Hagrid’s hut, had forgotten how Buckbeak’s trial was coming up and their agreement to help Hagrid, but he wanting to talk about Hermione and her ever more frequent visits due to the boys freezing her out, and whilst she was upset, had still helped Hagrid with his case, Harry apologizing for not doing so, as well, but Hagrid not holding it against them. He attempting to speak on Hermione’s behalf about her good intentions, Ron explaining his side having to do with Hermione needing to see his side about Crookshanks. The rest of the night dedicated to Quidditch conversation, and upon getting back to the castle, seeing the next Hogsmeade trip. Ron plans to have Harry join again, but Hermione shows up to confide if he goes, she’d out his map, Ron ignoring her, but angrily confronting her when she insisted, Crookshanks popping up, and making her withdraw, Harry agreeing to join, with invisibility cloak. When he was preparing to go, he’s interrupted by Neville, then Snape, ditching them both and going through the passage after a detour. He meets Ron outside and they go to the Post Office first to see all the sorts of owls. They move along to Zonko’s for trick items, then to a haunted shack where no one, not even the twins could enter.

Malfoy and goons then turn up and when seeing Ron, give him a hard time as usual, so Harry takes the opportunity to make them regret it, chucking mud at them, but being found out when getting Crabbe and Goyle, the former being tripped and taking a part of Harry’s cloak with him. Malfoy sees and dashes off, Harry retreating and hoping to get back before Malfoy, then hiding the cloak in the passage, but being met by Snape as soon as he comes from behind the statue. He is led to Snape’s office again where he’s interrogated about what Malfoy had seen, he soon pushing Harry’s buttons about his father, Harry getting out of line and mentioning his father having saved Snape’s life, hearing this from Dumbledore, Snape asking if he was also told the reason behind this, Harry not knowing, Snape figuring he didn’t when he gave no reply, and he sharing how Harry’s father had caused the need for his saving, so wasn’t as valiant as being made out. He then commands Harry to empty his pockets, his Zonko’s buys and Marauder’s Map being shown, Snape looks over the parchment after Harry explains away the Zonko’s items had been a gift from Ron. After Snape attempts a few spells to test the map, a message appears, insulting Snape and telling him to back off, he then calling for Lupin, whom comes through the fireplace, Snape asking about the map, Lupin quickly thinking of the most likely scenario being Harry getting it from Zonko’s, Ron arriving and corroborating breathlessly. Lupin sees this as viable and excuses the two along with him on the reason of speaking of the vampire essay, Lupin then sharing how he knew what the map was and wasn’t interested in knowing where he’d gotten it, he also admitting to knowing the men who made it, he keeping the useful tool and also imparting Harry with the advice to not squander his life away by being so reckless. Lupin’s words successfully worked to make Harry feel terrible about his actions, leaving the invisibility cloak for now, the two seeing Hermione, whom informed them of Hagrid losing the case and Buckbeak’s impending death.

Hermione shows the letter Hagrid sent her with the details of what he was going to do next, Harry in denial the committee could vote in favor of such an inhumane verdict. Hermione reminds them of Lucius Malfoy’s hold on the men and whilst an appeal would happen, she didn’t see much hope coming from it. Ron defends the possibility and volunteers his help, Hermione so overcome, she smothers him in a hug, and after hearing her apology about Scabbers, is so uncomfortable, he automatically gives his forgiveness. The next time they see Hagrid is in class, still numb by all which had occurred at the hearing, but Ron lets him know they still had a chance, Hagrid not relying on the slim hope, but making certain Buckbeak had the best time with what he had left. As Hagrid withdrew to his hut, Malfoy again makes a smart remark, but before either Harry or Ron can make a move, Hermione bitch-slaps him. Everyone is so surprised, Malfoy and goons back down as Ron and Harry stood watching. After Hermione demands Harry win the Quidditch cup against Slytherin, they all hurry to Charms, Hermione disappearing and not turning up at lunch. They discover her fast asleep in the common room and when Harry wakes her, she’s aghast at the news of missing Charms, she promising to meet them at Divinations after speaking with Flitwick. When they meet up, Hermione is disappointed she’d missed the Cheering Charm lesson since it was possible it’d be mentioned in the final, they then taking their seats and noticing they were learning crystal balls earlier than planned. As they stared blankly at their orbs, Hermione was starting to feel her time could be better utilized, she making her thoughts perfectly clear when Trelawney is in mid-reading of Harry’s orb, she interrupting impatiently about having heard enough about the Grim, then stating how she was over learning about Divinations after Trelawney called her mind unremarkable.

After she’d left, a classmate enthralled with the class reminds Trelawney how she’d predicted one of the students would leave, Trelawney feigning she’d known it was Hermione from the start. Easter holiday wouldn’t bring relaxation to the third years due to the workload given, Hermione having it worse even without Divinations, she starting to show signs of exhaustion. Ron had picked up the slack for studying the laws for Buckbeak’s appeal, Harry dividing his time between school work and Quidditch practice, Gryffindor and Slytherin at each other’s throats, and Malfoy still aching to get Harry back for the mudslinging at Hogsmeade, but the Gryffindor class making it quite difficult to get to him since they clustered about him everywhere per Oliver’s orders, in case Harry was injured before the game. The night before the match, most were attempting to distract from the pressure, Hermione and Ron trying to keep positive for him, but Harry glad when Oliver commanded curfew for the team. Harry slept badly with all the nightmares, he grabbing some water and noting the weather looked fair. Harry then sees an animal, quickly grabs his specs and sees Crookshanks, but then also seeing the cat walking with a big black dog. Harry tries to wake Ron, but the two images being out of sight before Ron had woken and fallen back to sleep. Next morning the Gryffindor team enters the Great Hall to applause, Oliver coaxing everyone to eat, but also ushering them out before finishing to survey the conditions of the field. When the school begins to fill the bleachers, the team goes to dress and when back on the field, the most defensive game begins, Oliver saving the team with blocking most of Slytherin’s attempts at scoring. When they reach 60 points ahead, Harry begins his search of the Snitch, it high above him, Malfoy fouling him by grabbing the end of his broom, everyone so agitated, the Gryffindors miss a shot, but they get another when Harry makes a path straight for the goal. Harry then notices Malfoy already in mid-dive, Harry doing the improbable, and catching up, then snatching the Snitch before him, everyone overjoyed. Dumbledore presents the cup to them, and Harry notes how strong his Patronus would be for this wonderful memory.

Harry rode his winning high for about a week, the weather becoming mild, but the students needing to stay focused for exams, Fred and George even getting serious for their O.W.L.s, Percy studying for his N.E.W.T.s (Fink-Nottle), and was severe about keeping the common room quiet. Hermione beat Percy for stress-level though, Ron and Harry unable to stop from commenting about her schedule, Harry then getting a note from Hagrid brought by Hedwig, the news shared about how the appeal was set at Hogwarts and would be attended by the executioner, they all not happy about the presumption it made, Harry and the two unable to even see Hagrid for the security measures, and Harry not able to regain his Invisibility Cloak. When the week of exams start, Hermione had the minor concern of her tortoise looking like a turtle in Transfiguration, and Charms goes a bit rockily for Harry, everyone having dinner after and going straight back to studying for Care of Magical Creatures, Potions, and Astronomy. Fortunately, Hagrid made his exam easily passable and the three took the time to speak with him, since he was obviously overcome with Buckbeak’s appeal date. In Potions, Harry was worried about Snape’s look of happiness in his inability to perform the necessary needs of the potion and thought he saw Snape give him a zero. They then had Astronomy, History of Magic, and Herbology. Finishing up the week, Defense Against the Dark Arts being second to last, and Divinations at the end. The former consisted of an obstacle course made with all the creatures they’d learned to defend themselves from, Harry getting a good grade, whilst Ron and Hermione struggled with certain parts.

As they returned to the castle, Harry sees Fudge, whom shares he was there to witness the execution and also to get an update about Black. Two more wizards come out and were obviously a part of the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures Committee, Hermione ushering Ron inside before he said anything which could get his father in trouble, and she keeping positive to the bright side of Hagrid remembering all information necessary to help Buckbeak, she not too hopeful, though. Ron and Harry go off to their Divination exam whilst, Hermione goes to Muggle Studies. Trelawney was doing one-on-one exams with the class, and when Ron and Harry were next, Ron began to consider Hermione being right about Trelawney’s talent after hearing why Neville wouldn’t share how his exam had gone. Ron goes first, making Harry last to go in the class, Ron supplying how he’d made up what he’d seen and Harry making plans to meet in the common room. He takes a lesson from Ron and makes up a vision, he readying to leave after not impressing Trelawney when she speaks in an odd voice about the Dark Lord rising before midnight to rejoin his servant, she then regains consciousness and denies what he’d heard, he rushing back to the common room to confide what she’d said, but Ron informing him of Hagrid’s note sharing Buckbeak’s doom at sunset, Harry wanting to disobey Hagrid’s request of they staying away, but Hermione deciding she’d get the Invisibility Cloak for them, Ron stating how impressed he was becoming with her rebellion, she pleased by his words. The three get to Hagrid’s, he again saying how he hadn’t wanted them to come, his nerves shot and breaking his milk jug, Hermione taking over tea-duty. As they discuss the futility of saving Buckbeak now, Hermione discovers Scabbers in the second milk jug, still looking worse for wear, Hagrid then seeing the group coming for Buckbeak and escorting them to the back door, they getting back under the cloak. Ron stops as they walked back to the castle due to Scabbers struggling to get loose, Hermione becoming faint when hearing the ax come down, in shock it had actually happened.

Harry and Ron were also in shock, the former ready to turn around when hearing Hagrid’s cries, but the two keeping him still, reminding him of the trouble they’d get themselves and Hagrid into if he returned. They continue to the castle when Scabbers makes a getaway after biting Ron, Harry spotting Crookshanks, and Ron running after the pair, Harry and Hermione pausing in dread for a moment before following, then Harry is knocked down by a large black dog, Ron protecting Harry from a second attack, but getting dragged to the Whomping Willow and breaking his leg when resisting, Harry unable to follow. Then Crookshanks stands on a spot making the Whomping Willow freeze, allowing the two to follow, they getting to a tunnel under the tree and when reaching the end, see a room with broken furniture. Hermione realizes they were standing in the Shrieking Shack, and noise could be heard upstairs. The two discover Ron on the floor, in pain and warning of the trap they were running into, Black showing himself once Ron had shared of he being an Animagus, Harry soon livid and trying to attack Black once he’d magicked his and Hermione’s wands away. Hermione and Ron attempt to help, but when Harry gets his wand back and Black was knocked against a wall, Harry states of Black’s transgressions against his parents and Black wanting to share his side, but Harry ignoring him, Crookshanks lying atop Black’s chest. Harry was psyching himself up, when noises downstairs were heard and Hermione shrieks of where they were and whom they were with, Lupin busting in. He disarms Harry and Hermione, whom was holding the other two wands, then asks Black, where “he” was, Black pointing to Ron, and the trio confused. After saying a few more incomplete thoughts aloud, Lupin hugs Black, Hermione shouting her disbelief and how she’d been helping him, Harry yelling about how he’d trusted him, and Hermione confessing how Lupin was a werewolf. She states how Snape’s essay had helped her discover it, Lupin then returning their wands so they’d listen to his side. Lupin also admits to having helped write the Marauder’s Map and saw the three accompanied by a fourth when exiting Hagrid’s, he asking to see Scabbers, and naming him Peter Pettigrew.

Ron calls madness on this statement, Lupin wanting to explain, but Black wishing to take care of Pettigrew whilst he could, Ron deciding he would leave, but Lupin taking initiative in making him listen, Black responding to Harry’s comment of so many people seeing Pettigrew’s demise. Hermione then speaks up about how she would’ve seen Pettigrew’s name on the Animagi list she’d looked up, Lupin confessing there were three not listed. Lupin began the explanation at the behest of Black for impatiently awaiting to kill Scabbers. Lupin admits when he’d been bitten, Snape’s potion allowing him to keep his human mind whilst turning, plus the origin of the Whomping Willow and the Shrieking Shack, he also sharing how Black and James Potter had helped Pettigrew become Animagi with them, he having struggled to confide the truth to Dumbledore, whom had helped him for so long, Lupin letting out how Snape was teaching at Hogwarts when Black asked why Lupin had mentioned him. Lupin was about to go on about how Snape’s life had been endangered by Black when the latter interrupts with how Snape had deserved it, for continually looking for ways to get them expelled. Black shares with Snape of how to get past the Whomping Willow all those years ago, and when James Potter found out, stopped Snape before he was attacked by Lupin, Snape then revealing himself from underneath the Invisibility Cloak.

Everyone reacted defensively, Snape holding Lupin off with pointed wand and explaining how he’d found them, Lupin again going through the process of getting the chance to tell all, but Snape isn’t as open and restrains him with a gag, then focuses on Black. Hermione attempts to reason with Snape to listen to the other side of the story, but he is far too emotionally unstable to consider this and snaps for her to be quiet for once. Snape begins to have everyone start back to the castle, Harry blocking the door to try and reason with him, as well. After Snape insults Harry’s father, he, Hermione, and Ron all attack at the same time without meaning to, and knock Snape out. Harry states he still didn’t know if he believed Lupin’s story, after Lupin had been freed, offering to share the rest of the story, Black first telling how he’d found Scabbers with help from Crookshanks, and then what Pettigrew had done before transforming into a rat on the day so many people had died. Lupin attempts to have Ron hand over Scabbers again to show the proof of his story, Harry declaring how Black was the reason for his parents’ deaths, Black not denying this for having passed off the responsibility as Secret-Keeper to Pettigrew, he getting upset with guilt. Ron finally hands Scabbers over when Lupin admits to planning on having Pettigrew show himself, the spell doing so, Pettigrew looking rat-like and speaking squeakily, all the while eyeing the door.

Lupin informs him of wanting his side of the story, Pettigrew maintaining of Black’s guilt and his imminent death if left with him. Pettigrew tries to keep Black looking like the bad guy, but Black brings up how Pettigrew had made many enemies of the supporters of Voldemort since it seemed he’d doubled-crossed them, Lupin replying how much sense Black was making since Pettigrew had decided to spend so many years as a rat. Black then begins listing the order of events and how perfect it must’ve been when Pettigrew had knowledge of the location of the Potters to pass on to Voldemort, Pettigrew looking more nervous. Hermione then asks a couple questions which made Pettigrew latch on as if she would support his side, Black responding reasonably to both, the first question dealing with Pettigrew not trying to kill or capture Harry for three years, and how he escaped Azkaban having to do with his Animagi power, then speaking to Harry of his innocence, which Harry finally accepts. Pettigrew immediately pleads for mercy to Black, Lupin, Ron, Hermione, and lastly Harry, which Black explodes with rage by his tenacity, then he and Lupin forcing him to confess (bad, editor! “terribly fury…” makes sense to you? Tsk). As the two ready to dispatch him, Harry steps forward (which, I believe he wanted to step “…in front [of] Pettigrew…”, editor getting tiwed?), he believing Pettigrew should be taken to Azkaban and not be the cause of Black and Lupin’s hands getting dirty. Lupin then binds Pettigrew and then splints Ron’s leg, Hermione reminding him of Snape and he making it so he’d float along behind them, Ron and Black then volunteering to be manacled to Pettigrew, Crookshanks leading the way out.

As the procession came through the tunnel, Harry, Hermione, and Black last, the latter brings up how this development of Pettigrew being brought to justice meant he may soon be free, and if Harry wanted, he’d be able to move in with him since he was his godfather, Harry keen on making it happen immediately. When they made it to the outside of the Whomping Willow, Lupin is first to stop, moonlight hitting them, Hermione first to state Lupin having not taken his potion, Black then urging them to run as Lupin changed. Pettigrew moved next as Lupin and Black struggled with each other in canine form, he grabbing Lupin’s wand and striking Ron and Crookshanks. After Harry disarms him, Pettigrew changes, Lupin takes off toward the forest, Harry alerts Black, and he chases after him. Harry and Hermione readying to get Ron and Snape inside, when he hears yelping, running toward the noise and Hermione following, the two seeing Black changing back as he’s swarmed by dementors. Harry attempts to perform the spell, encouraging Hermione to say the words with him, but doesn’t succeed, Harry trying to stay motivated, his useless Patronus keeping one dementor at bay, but it revealing its disturbing-looking head which killed his Patronus for pure fear enveloping him. The dementor was going to suck the life from him when he was saved by an animal giving off a light, at least it seemed this way to a slowly blacking out Harry, the animal returning to someone he recognized, but disbelieved could be present, then falling unconscious.

Snape is then shown in mid-conversation with Fudge whom was praising him for his bravery and listening to his story of what he claimed happened, Black being allowed to escape once more if he hadn’t stopped him. He then shares how he’d found the dementors returning to their posts, binding Black, and magicking stretchers for all, Harry then popping his eyes open to first see Pomfrey aiding Ron, Hermione motioning him to stay quiet as Snape and Fudge spoke in the hall. Pomfrey approached and noted Harry’s consciousness as she broke a block of chocolate. They learned Ron would be fine and they would be staying under observation, but Harry was moving quickly when hearing Black could be getting the Dementor’s Kiss as they were speaking, but he nor Hermione getting far, Fudge and Snape entering, the former’s attempt at soothing Harry only succeeding in angering him, and Pomfrey able to get him back in his bed. Fortunately, Dumbledore walked in and stated of his need to speak with Harry about Black’s story, Snape getting in the way again with stating of its nonsense, but Dumbledore making all three leave due to their interruptions, wanting Harry and Hermione’s versions of events. The two fire him with facts until he stops them to explain how regardless of he believing them, they had no proof, but he making clear to Hermione what they should do with their time and making sure they weren’t viewed, he then stating of locking them inside, giving the hour, and what Hermione should do next, Harry bewildered and asking her about the hinting instructions, but she immediately doing as Dumbledore had bid, they going back three hours and she leading Harry to a cupboard as she listened to the three of them in the hall going to Hagrid’s, she wondering what Dumbledore expected them to change. Harry comes up with the idea of Buckbeak saving Black later, so they head out, running to the forest and wait for the right moment to free the bird whilst Harry suggested ideas about capturing Pettigrew, Hermione explaining the laws they were already breaking.

Harry then offers to untie Buckbeak as Fudge read the court papers to Hagrid inside the hut, getting Buckbeak hidden as they were stepping out, and Hagrid crying for joy when Buckbeak was nowhere to be found, Harry and Hermione attempting to keep Buckbeak there as he tried to return to Hagrid, the two then quietly leading Buckbeak to a spot where they could see the Whomping Willow as everyone exited, he and Hermione settling in until they emerged once more. Hermione ties Buckbeak up and asks about what had happened when the dementors surrounded them, Harry finally confiding whom he thought he’d seen. The two then wait, Hermione first to notice them come back from the tunnel under the Whomping Willow, Harry again wanting to get Pettigrew right then, but remembering Lupin would be heading their way soon, he suggesting they go back to Hagrid’s and when all three were safely inside, Harry nonchalantly suggesting he go out to be certain what was happening, assuring Hermione he wouldn’t meddle, but then noticing the other Harry and Hermione would be chasing after Black about then, he considering getting a view of whom had sent the Patronus, instinctively dashing off, arriving to realize he was the one whom had sent the Patronus, and the animal, a stag. Hermione then comes after him riding Buckbeak, he explaining what he’d done, then the two seeing Snape retrieve their other selves, Ron, and Black. They prepare to time their rescue of Black and upon seeing the executioner coming out of the castle most likely rounding up dementors, Harry and Hermione fly Buckbeak to Black’s window, Hermione getting it open and the three splitting up after they get to the top of a tower, Black attempting to thank him, but he and Hermione desperate for him to escape, he and Buckbeak flying away.

Hermione then warns Harry of they only having ten minutes before Dumbledore would lock them out, they going downstairs, but stopping when hearing Snape and Fudge speaking of Black. When they pass, the two run onward until needing to hide from Peeves, then speeding on in time to see Dumbledore ready to lock the door, he seeing them and glad to hear the plan had gone well, then locking them in the room after they’d left. They return to their beds, Pomfrey coming in to be certain they ate their chocolate, after awhile hearing Snape losing it and bursting in, Fudge and Dumbledore following as he accused Harry of setting Black free, Dumbledore quieting him as he furiously walks out, Fudge not looking forward to dealing with the press when they learned of Black as well as Buckbeak, Dumbledore making certain the dementors would be leaving, as well. The two then leave to continue their tasks elsewhere, Ron then waking to ask questions about what he’d missed, Harry passing off the relaying to Hermione. When they are released the next day, the three decide to stay on the grounds rather than go to Hogsmeade, instead walking to the lake, Hagrid walking up to them, happy as a clam as he told of his celebrating Buckbeak’s escape, and Lupin having given notice, Harry immediately off to see him and informing he’d meet them back at the lake.

Harry confronts Lupin on why he was leaving, Snape having blurted of his werewolfness, Harry attempting to think of a way to get him to stay, but Lupin asking about his Patronus, he proud of Harry’s progress. He then returns Harry’s cloak and the Marauder’s Map since he was a professor no longer, Dumbledore arriving to announce of Lupin’s carriage waiting for him. Lupin exits with a smile and farewell, Dumbledore regarding Harry’s look of disappointment since Pettigrew had escaped, he reminding Harry of the lives he’d saved. Harry then remembers Trelawney’s prediction, Dumbledore pleasantly surprised of her second time succeeding with the Sight, Dumbledore calming Harry with the thought of Voldemort not being glad to have a servant indebted to Harry. Dumbledore then relates to Harry in how easily he could mistake himself for his father (except for the eyes), Dumbledore leaving him to ponder. No one except for the trio and Dumbledore knew the truth of events concerning Black and Buckbeak, Harry looking let down as the school year ended, he knowing he would have to return to the Dursleys.

The three learned they’d all passed their classes, Snape looking even more peeved when Harry was in his presence, but when they sit on the train, Hermione shares of dropping Muggle Studies in order to have a normal schedule, then noting Harry still looking serious, Ron offering to have him stay with him since the Quidditch World Cup was approaching and his dad got tickets through work, this getting Harry out of his funk since thinking how the Dursleys would be glad to be rid of him, Hermione then noticing a small owl outside the window with a letter, Harry letting it in, and happy to read it was from Black, whom confesses a couple of things and gives Harry a nice present of a permission slip to Hogsmeade. Black also gifts the small owl to Ron in replacement of Scabbers, he allowing Crookshanks to sniff him to be certain the little fella was actually an owl, satisfied with the cat’s results. When Harry splits from Ron, whom confirms getting in touch with news of their scheduling a get-together, Harry speaks to Vernon after he’d noticed the letter in his hand, he sharing of it being from his murderer escaped-convict Godfather and how he’d be writing to make certain Harry was happy, he now believing this summer would top the others.

Still enjoying myself, fortunately and the next one I read will be a side-story; Fun!

Firestarter

 

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.