Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Year Five)

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Harry’s been attempting to keep an eye and ear out of word regarding odd deaths in relation to Voldemort all summer, he not having any luck. An interaction with Dudley gets him in enough trouble with the Dursleys and the Ministry of Magic where he’s first automatically expelled for using the patronum spell against a couple of dementors. Soon after, he gets word from Sirius, and 2 of the Weasleys, as well as Hermione as to how he should proceed. After which, he gets another official letter condemning him a bit more lightly in only being suspended until a hearing was held as to his reasons for applying magic outside the wizarding community. Throughout all this mess, his uncle officially kicks him out only to be swayed by a letter which Petunia was the only one to understand, so Harry is again “lucky” in having his back up “home” still being an option.

When Harry does finally get the chance to ditch the Dursleys, it’s with the newly introduced Nymphadora Tonks, as well as Lupin, Moody, and a few other wizards who would escort Harry by broom to their new headquarter for the Order of the Phoenix, Sirius’ family home. Hermione and Ron soon get a huge bitch fit from Harry, since he’d felt so alone and left out of being told anything and having been tailed all summer and everyone seeming to know. He receives updates on Percy and his new position having him fall out with the family because they feel he’s being used solely for information about his family and Dumbledore, whom was now a bad word in the Ministry of Magic. Kreacher is the elf of the house and was touched in the head, he attempting to periodically lift family heirlooms which Sirius was in the process of dumping, one of the portraits in the main hall of Sirius’ mother, whom continually shouted expletives against him and held similar views to the Malfoys.

Sirius decides to answer some of Harry’s questions despite Molly Weasley vehemently against it due to Harry still being a child, regardless of how the men in the house felt, which was he was old enough to hear what they thought was necessary for him to be safe. Later, Harry learns from a portrait of Sirius’ family tree, he was related to Tonks, a cousin, and also the Malfoys and Weasleys. After this, Kreacher is still on a rampage after more family items whilst talking shit about everyone under his breath, but not enough for it to be discreet. The night before his hearing he is updated of Arthur accompanying him and Sirius would sit this one out by Dumbledore’s order, Harry a little miffed he hadn’t wanted to speak with him personally after learning he’d been over the night before. He and Arthur walk to his office today, they entering by broken phone box. After a little runaround, Harry is only late by a few minutes, Arthur not able to join Harry inside, but the room shocking him, since he’d viewed it from the pensieve.

Harry sits in the chair with chains in front of the panel of about 50, Fudge in the center and Percy at the far end taking notes, Dumbledore arriving as introductions of the panel were made, to Harry’s surprise and Fudge’s displeasure. The change of venue and time seemed to have changed so abruptly being to keep Dumbledore out, but he’d prepared by arriving early. Fudge begins his damning questions when another wizard asks for Harry to elaborate after mentioning the dementors, Fudge cutting him off again making it seem he was lying, since Dudley couldn’t see them, but Dumbledore jumps in to state of another witness being available which puts Fudge off, so Dumbledore makes certain it’s within Harry’s rights to be allowed outside witnesses to testify on his behalf.

Figg is called in, Fudge attempting to make her sound un-credible. Bones seemed to take the story more seriously and Dumbledore admits the dementors wouldn’t have been there by chance and if Fudge wouldn’t admit to what Dumbledore had previously stated to him, then the Ministry would have to be responsible for releasing the dementors and ordering them to a Muggle city. Fortunately, even though Fudge kept attempting to throw Harry under the bus, Dumbledore had the answers and after stating the forum should make their decision, Fudge isn’t happy in having to announce Harry being cleared, Dumbledore not acknowledging Harry and leaving swiftly.

Harry tentatively exits and shares the verdict with Arthur, they seeing Malfoy speaking with Fudge, being a dick and then the two finally deciding to hold hands and skip to Fudge’s office to finish their important, gold-filled sharing conversation (not quite the way as describe, ofc). Arthur gets Harry back before returning to work, he sharing his good news again and they getting lunch. Sirius, apparently was happy, but also a bit aggravated, since Harry wouldn’t be staying with him now, in the trio’s opinion, anyways. After a few days, they receive their book list letter, Ron getting an extra surprise of also being prefect, Harry struggling with feeling truly happy for a bit, getting through it after reminding himself Ron is a friend (ffs). After, everyone meets for dinner and they also celebrate Ron and Hermione’s prefectdom, Harry feeling warm toward the group after reminding himself his papa wasn’t ever a prefect, either.

Harry helps Fred and George complete a deal with Mundungus for their shop, mentioning Moody possibly watching. Harry feels a bit guilty when imagining what Molly would think of him if she found out he’d helped the twins with their low quality dream. Harry’s good vibes at the party swiftly souring and feeling antisocial. When Molly bows out, Harry planned on following, but is side-tracked by Moody, whom shares a pic of himself and many people Harry knew, including the Longbottoms and his parents, he finally getting a reason to leave when Sirius interrupts them, Harry off after Molly. He also thinks about how unsettling Moody’s thoughtful photo share had been, when he heard crying, and seeing the dead bodies of some of the Weasley sibs and himself, Molly having trouble with the boggart, Lupin then assisting. Molly asks they keep her fears from Arthur, Lupin quelling her anxiety a bit, Harry awaying to his room and realizing how dumb he’d been feeling like shit over helping fund the twins and not making prefect.

Harry has odd dreams, waking to Ron in mid-sentence about his mother freaking out at the twins for almost killing Ginny with a trunk transporting method and being late for the train. Sirius joins them in dog-form despite Dumbledore’s opinion, everyone arriving as usual and no weirdness occurring. They get on the train, but Harry soon learns Ron and Hermione had to report to Head Girl and Boy in the Prefect carriage, he and Ginny finding a compartment. Neville joins them, Ginny suggesting they sit with Luna Lovegood, an odd owl-eyed girl, she responding to Ginny, then identifying Harry, and admitting she didn’t know Neville. The boys were unnerved by Luna’s flighty socializing skills, Ginny entertained.

Neville doused the group with stinksap when Cho decides to greet Harry to his and her severe embarrassment, an hour after the food trolley passing before Ron and Hermione are able to accompany them and share who were the other Houses prefects, one of Slytherin being easy to identify. Ron makes a joke at one point which completely overtakes Luna, everyone soon laughing at Ron’s reaction to Luna’s overreaction Harry then distracting himself with a politi-comic about Fudge wanting to buy Gringotts and an article on Sirius being an alias for a lead singer of a band. The lady whom identifies him believed Sirius would soon be pardoned from his crimes, since he couldn’t have been there at the time. Hermione makes an assertion about the magazine which Luna takes offense to, since her father was editor, Malfoy then dropping in, briefly to provide some paranoia about whether he knew about Sirius’ dog form. When they get to the station, Harry doesn’t hear Hagrid’s usual greeting, a female rounding up the first years. Another odd thing was how the horseless carriages now had creatures pulling them. Ron didn’t have a clue what Harry was talking about, but Luna confirms Harry’s vision, this not quite comforting.

Luna gives her opinion on how Ravenclaw students saw Hagrid’s teaching skills, Hermione’s response being the only one without loyal heat. When they’d gotten to the banquet hall and still didn’t see Hagrid, Harry suggests it could be due to the mission Dumbledore had given him, the Sorting Hat next doing its First Year division, but including a warning for the Houses to stay strong, together. When Dumbledore makes his introduction speech after supper, he’s interrupted for the first time, by Umbridge, the new Defense teacher, she having been a judge at Harry’s trial. She gives one helluva boring speech about being open to change where needed and keeping only the good rules in place. Hermione deduces the meaning simply for them: the Ministry had plans to mess with Hogwarts rules. As Harry and dorm boys readied for bed, there’s a bit of an upset between himself and Seamus, whom decided to believe his mother, whom thought the news written about Harry, the 2 quickly falling out and Harry wondering how many more people he’d lose before Voldemort made his presence known.

Next morning, Hermione sees Fred and George’s notice on the Gryffindor bulletin board for part-time workers, Hermione taking charge by stating they’d have to speak to the twins about their ad. When they enter the banquet hall, they are again greeted by a Hagrid-less room. Later on, Harry is made a fool of by Snape in class again. He was still so butt hurt, he takes it out on Ron and Hermione again, since they were still tiffing with each other. Then, in Divination Ron shares Hermione’s thoughts of Harry treating them unfairly, but the 2 also having stopped their little arguments. When they get to their first class with the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, she declares they’d be filling in their gaps of knowledge due to their teachers never staying past a year.

Umbridge decides to have them begin with a reading assignment, Hermione soon making a scene with her silent hand raise. The class is soon paying more attention to her as Umbridge ignores her for a few minutes until finally regarding her question about application of defense, Umbridge soon receiving more raised hands and Harry costing 10 points after suggesting Voldemort could be a danger to anyone outside, she maintaining this was untrue and they wouldn’t have to practice for their O.W.L.s, since reading should be enough. By the end of Harry’s insubordinance, he’d gotten detention for the rest of the week and sent to McGonagall’s office, she making certain Harry understood what was required of him and to watch his step around Umbridge.

At dinner, the trio leave early with all the loud retellings of Harry’s confrontation, Hermione incensed on how Dumbledore could’ve allowed Umbridge be their professor. The day of his first detention, Harry’s Quidditch team leader angrily demands he get Friday off for their tryout. Harry does ask, but it’s clear Umbridge planned on having him suffer, especially with his standards which cut and healed on his hand after each being written. He decides not to share this part of the punishment with his buddies. It does come out to Ron by the 3rd night, though, he having been practicing for Quidditch tryouts, Harry still attending detention, but viewing part of the tryouts from a bit of a distance, by the end of his session, he getting a shock from his scar and a weird feeling from Umbridge and how she responded to his pulling away from her, Harry leaving and busting in on Ron celebrating becoming Keeper.

On Saturday, the boys put off their other homework to practice for Quidditch before actual practice, it not going well in the proper practice, especially after Fred and George give a teammate a wrong pill and her nosebleed gets worse. As the boys get to their homework, Ron receives a message from Percy which has him promoting Ron to ditch Harry and to see what role Dumbledore would soon have listed in tomorrow’s paper. Sirius visits by flame, they learning what Fudge thought Dumbledore could be teaching and why they’d only be studying from text. Sirius also notes how Dumbledore wasn’t worrying about Hagrid’s absence, so they should do the same, but when the idea of he perhaps meeting up with them again at a Hogsmeade outing goes against him, he pulls a Harry and reacts petulantly and declares Harry was being unlike his father after he and Hermione noted the risk what with Malfoy and the news.

The news certainly showed how Umbridge’s position had doubled in title and power, since she also held the newly stated position of “High Inquisitor”, as well as professor, she now taking notes on the professors and sitting in on classes. Harry also gets himself a second week of detention after talking back in Defense again and getting an extra night in Care, etc., since Umbridge was rating the temporary professor and Harry butted in on Malfoy’s injury story. At night, Harry’s given the suggestion of he teaching his buds Defense, since he was the best at practical use, but it slowly descending into Harry getting upset, he frustratedly agreeing to think about it, at least.

Hermione waits a couple weeks before asking again, Harry a bit more flexible to the idea, Hermione even suggesting they hold an open meeting the weekend to Hogsmeade in case other students were interested. Harry’s only other concern was the possibility of Sirius turning up. Upon the day, they go to the Hog’s Head, so as to stay from under Umbridge radar, the group which Hermione expected to being more than a couple, a baker’s dozen, at least. Hermione warms the crowd up, since she’d set all this up and master-minded it, making sure those students understood it was for only those who actually wanted to know how to practice what they read. One kid seemed to want to make trouble, but the twins with Ron defending Harry and what he’d been explaining to them about half of what he’d done being good luck, the group wanting Harry to teach them, anyways. Setting time and place was a bit difficult, so Hermione had a parchment ready for people to sign and be given the details later, this also being an agreement to keep their lessons to themselves. After, Ron learns Ginny had a boyfriend and Hermione had seen the constant looks Cho was giving Harry, which left him in the clouds again, whilst Ron blustered.

The trio spend Sunday finishing homework and sitting outside whilst doing so, Hermione knitting magically. Harry stayed in happy spirits all the way to Monday morning, when on the “notice” board, Umbridge had posted all types of clubs canceled and those wanting to apply could only be approved by her, and any outlaws would be expelled. Ron shows Hermione, she believing no one from their meeting had done it, since she’d jinxed the parchment and they’d see. Harry didn’t realize until Angelina, the Quidditch leader reminded him, they’d have to behave themselves if they wanted Umbridge to allow Gryffindors team to re-form. Hedwig next interrupts Harry’s history class due to an injury, he leaving her with Grubbly-Plank, reading Sirius’ reply on meeting time and place. Hermione and Ron note how hopefully no one’s been reading his messages, a possibility for how Hedwig became injured.

In the meanwhile, at Potions, Malfoy is loudly sharing how Slytherins team had been reinstated quickly and bashing Harry indirectly until mentioning he should be sent to St. Mungo’s, Hermione attempting to warn the boys of keeping a cool head, but Neville being the first to react, Harry and Ron holding him back, Snape then coming out to see the 3 struggling and wresting 10 points from them. Today also happened to be Umbridge’s sit-in, Harry quite nosy about how Umbridge would display her stepping upon Snape’s toes. It not being worth the 0 credit he receives for his botched potion in class plus essay on how he fucked it up. In Divination it’s obvious Trelawney was sent her sit-in results, she quite aggressive and only a little bit passive toward the class in response. The trio learn later of how Gryffindors team would be on hiatus until Umbridge made up her flabby-assed mind, Hermione noting how Harry had time for Snape’s extra essay now, at least…huzzah. When Sirius shows up, he mentions how he’d heard about their rebel training and whom had spotted them, since Harry was still being tailed.

The trio also got a message from Molly about not continuing the group. but Sirius’ opinion opposing hers, he giving suggestions for meeting spots, but they being interrupted by Umbridge’s hand in the flames attempting to catch Sirius, the conversation quickly ending and the trio retreating. Hermione is now almost certain Umbridge has been the reason Hedwig was injured through her attempts at reading Harry’s mail. During free time, Angelina updates Ron and Harry of getting their team approved, so practice would resume in the evening. Hermione is considering how good an idea it was to keep their secret group active, what with not quite finalizing everything, yet, she noting how Sirius was preoccupied with his isolation (Boosh) and perhaps wanting the trio to do as he and James would’ve done, rebel; the boys don’t take reality well.

During Quidditch practice, weather was still at downpour level, they trying to play for an hour before the session ended, Harry’s scar hurting again due to Voldemort’s mood. Harry tries to do more of his essay late into the night, his mind wandering on Voldemort, before sleeping for a short while, Dobby visiting him in the common room when he wakes up again, he sharing how Hermione’s knitting endeavors was affronting most of the elves, so Dobby had been collecting them for himself and Winky, he even having a decent spot for the Defense group to practice. During the day, Harry tells Angelina of their practice area and time, she passing it on and Hermione agreeing once learning Dumbledore had spoken about it, as well, since Dobby’s word alone was similar to Sirius’ in quality. They have their first official group meeting by voting Harry leader and naming themselves Dumbledore’s Army, Harry then having them start with the disarming charm. The first practice goes so well, there is agreement to meeting more often, but it’d wait until next week for confirmations.

This turns out to be difficult with opposing schedules, but worked for their needs to deceive obvious patterns to be caught. Hermione did come up with a convenient way for everyone to be updated on when their next sessions were by using a coin to present date and time when Harry set his, this soon being put on hold with the game soon to be had. Snape and McGonagall also decide to refrain from homework, so their teams could practice, the day of. Ron is extremely nervous, and Slytherin kids are wearing a crown badge, saying “Weasley is our King”, because of how shit he is, sometimes, when nerves get him; They even have a flipping song!

By the finish with Gryffindor winning, Harry and George both get sent to McGonagall’s office for fighting with Malfoy. Umbridge steps in and bans the 2 from playing Quidditch for life. Harry and Ron have shitty feelings later on, respectively when Hermione sees Hagrid was home.When they see him, his ass had got beat! By giants, which Hermione guesses and it being the obvious choice, after all. Hagrid is then baited with deets from Harry’s summer so they could hear about his secret mission with Madame Maxime. They’re interrupted by Umbridge, Hermione not seeming to stress enough how serious Umbridge’s sit-ins were to Hagrid, he too tired for this shit.

They go to Hagrid’s first class back and Umbridge wasn’t there, Hagrid having his class in the Forbidden Forest to “see” Thestrals, Umbridge locating them, giving her usual spiel on having sent a message, etc, Hagrid continuing admirably, even whilst Slytherin kids shared insulting opinions of their time in class, how he spoke and whatnot, Umbridge relating similarly and talking to him like he wasn’t an English-speaker and slow. Hermione rages a bit after, Malfoy taking another hit at Ron and Harry, nothing of note happening up to the talk of holidays, Harry spending it with the Weasleys, Hermione skiing with her folks, and poor Sirius all alone. Upon their final D.A. meeting, Harry gets selfish when Cho breaks down after class and Harry having wanted it to be a sweet moment rather than being about Cedric, but then she gives him a happy Christmas, for a 15 year old, but his thought on whether to share or take it to his grave, is puzzling.

Hermione completely guesses, though, so she doesn’t care much after, but Ron getting a decent Q&A, Hermione rejoining the chat when the boys need some insight on why Cho may be conflicted about liking Harry. Afterward, Harry yearns for advice from the one fella whom probably had almost the same capacity of knowledge as Harry, emotionally. He does have one fairly forward-thinking thought, which was to have the school teach teen girl psyche (not a bad idea, if one wishes to be empathetic). He then wakes from a violent physically-ill-causing dream, he trying to have Ron believe his father had been in danger. When McGonagall hears his story, she decides to take him to Dumbledore, whom has orders given out to available wizards. He then has the other Weasley kids sent for so they and Harry could wait at Sirius’, Harry feeling some exorcism-hateful kind of thoughts toward Dumbledore, and when getting to Sirius’ before Umbridge had come, Harry retells his vision slightly differently to offset possible accusation for having let it happen.

Sirius soon has to convince the Weasley twins to stay put until they could get Molly there, he settling by giving all butterbeer, Harry shaken and guilty about his first-person-snake vision and his murderous feelings toward Dumbledore earlier. Molly sends a message with instructions to stay put, the kids not liking her choice of words, implying Arthur was only hanging in there. Everyone stays awake and wonders what was happening, until Molly arrives before dawn, confirming he’d be fine. Harry and Sirius both getting her grateful thanks, especially when he invites them to stay through the holidays. Harry has a not-so-fruitful heart-to-heart with Sirius when he admits his dream and feelings toward Dumbledore after reaching Sirius’ home. Harry doesn’t sleep, unlike the rest, caught up with his snaky feeling, they being escorted by Tonks and Moody to hospital later, it being through a closed shop front. The Weasley kids learn about Harry’s possession by snake whilst eavesdropping on Molly, Arthur, Tonks, and Moody’s chat after they’d had seen Arthur themselves.

Harry begins believing he was the weapon Voldemort was using which was why he was being guarded. In the end, he believes he’d be saving those around him if he stayed at the Dursleys, but Dumbledore sends word by one of the paintings to remain where he was, pissing Harry off again. Feeling teen loner angst, he falls asleep, doesn’t go down for supper, and when awaking again, comes back to his thought of going to the Dursleys due to thinking everyone was afraid of him again. He wastes the day sequestering himself away from everyone, Hermione showing up due to making an excuse and not being a great skier, as it was. When she leads Harry back to his and Ron’s room, Ginny also there, Harry acts stuck up and angry until Ginny reminds him she’d been possessed by Voldemort and would know better than most, he finally calming down, apologizing to her, and eating a sammie.

Christ Day was pleasantly begun, minus Percy returning his jumper and not speaking with his parents, still. Molly being cheered up by Lupin before breakies and they all going to visit Arthur again, she noticing new bandages and Arthur making light over his trainee healer giving him Muggle stitches. Molly’s reaction is so palpable, half the Weasley kids bow out for a cuppa, Harry and the rest soon following once she realizes what it meant. The bunch see Lockhart looking through a window from a floor below the tea room, he still memory-damaged, and wanting to provide them with autographs, until being collected by a healer, whom unfortunately ropes them into visiting him, since he hadn’t gotten visitors before, and he was in a locked ward for permanent residents.

Harry hears the healer speak to Mrs. Longbottom when they reach the ward, Ron noticing as well, and calling out to Neville, his grandmother asking about them in return, and recognizing them, also revealing who they were visiting, Ron being a bit of a ditz about it, until Neville’s grandma explains why his parents were there, giving Neville a bit of a hard time upon learning he hadn’t shared with his friends, yet. Before the 2 leave, Neville’s mother gives him a bubble gum wrapper, which apparently she did frequently, his grandmother stating how he had so many he should dump this one, but he keeping it. Lockhart impatiently waits for the kids to return so he could take advantage of his “joined-up writing” skills.

As vacay ends, Sirius’ mood becomes darker, Harry not wanting to leave him, ofc. Kreacher finally is discovered and acts oddly more content. Harry also wasn’t as keen on returning to Hogwarts with Umbridge awaiting them and no Quidditch, Mrs. Weasley begins the process of Harry receiving worse news from Snape, firsthand, he soon learning between jabs from Snape and Sirius, Dumbledore wanted Harry to study Occlumency (the study of defending one’s mind from outside violence) in secret, Snape being his teacher, as well, Harry’s early evening on Monday now scheduled. Before Snape leaves, he and Sirius continue getting deeply bent over insulting each other, until being interrupted by all the Weasleys and Hermione welcoming Arthur back. He’d been cured with a magic antidote, Molly making sure he wouldn’t mess with Muggle cures in future. In January, the kids were set to return to Hogwarts, Sirius giving Harry a package which he could use if he needed Sirius, Harry set on not giving him a reason to frolic off from Grimmauld Place.

The bunch go by Knight bus, the conductor, Stan remembering him and the other bus riders staring as he joined and departed. Lupin gives him the piece of advice to learn well, regardless of it being Snape, Harry still not looking forward to it, ofc., esp., since now he’d have to plan the next D.A. meeting accordingly. When Cho turns up, Harry is obv. too immature to be handling a girl like her, since she’d brought up the Valentine’s Hogsmeade day and he talking and thinking about D.A., but with a few missed beats he’s not dumb enough to not invite her, they sealing the date, fortunately for him. In the evening, Snape describes the power Voldemort has of essentially reading minds, so with Occlumency, one could lie “without detection”, if skilled. Snape impressively shares some deets on why Harry was learning this form and directly after decides a defense match was in order. Harry had hexed Snape as a knee-jerk reaction, he continuing to strengthen Harry by pointing out his weakness, which in turn made it difficult to resist Snape’s assault. He did have a Eureka moment about the door he’d been dreaming of periodically, and upon sharing with his buddies what he’d learned, he decides to got to bed for scar pain and tiredness, he getting a sense of Voldemort’s pure happiness which puts him through he ringer of pain.

Hermione gets her paper next morning, an article startling her about a group of Death Eaters in Azkaban escaping and Sirius being their leader according to Fudge, she also catching another terrible article about a resident at St. Mungo’s being strangled by a gifted plant, Harry recognizing the fellow being an employee in the Dept. of Mysteries. Hagrid was put on probation, and Harry had other students relating to his celebrity due to the Azkaban escapees relatives being noticed, now. Umbridge had also made more rules regarding what was said to students regarding anything other than their class subjects from teachers, another student being punished the same way Harry had been for stating a loophole in Umbridge’s new rule. Since all of Harry’s positive reinforcement at Hogwarts was being taken from him, he and his students focused more on D.A., Neville making great headway with the news of the Death Eaters.

Harry’s new practice course was making his scar hurt worse and gave him bipolar mood-swings from Voldemort. Hermione considering he’d feel better the more time he spent mastering it, but Harry becoming stubborn in his idea of all this being worse because of the practicing, Ron suggesting the idea Snape might be attempting to make it easier for Voldemort to enter Harry’s mind, but Hermione maintaining if Dumbledore trusted him, they ought to, as well. Harry’s day with Cho begins awkwardly and only gets worse as they go, some in-between moments going temporarily well. In the end, Cho, becomes tearily upset, and making a scene, the both not communicating to each other well or the feelings they were having being way off balance from the other, so Harry stops thinking about her and goes to the Three Broomsticks to await for Hermione to show up, he chatting to Hagrid.

Their conversation is mysterious and his cuts being explained away with his job being a difficult one, leaving quickly and Hermione soon after calling him to her table to join she with Luna and Rita Skeeter, oddly. Skeeter still attempts, but is turned down with her idea of writing down Harry having been chilling with another girl by Hermione’s comment. Rita is allowed to speak to Harry, though, but she only asks Harry whether he stuck to Dumbledore’s story about Voldemort being back. Harry confirms and Rita gets down to business with Hermione’s blessing to take down Harry’s list of Death Eaters, but properly and without making Harry sound nuts, Hermione confirming The Quibbler would publish it properly, regardless of the magazine’s reputation. Rita begrudgingly takes the interview, since she couldn’t argue what with the position she was in.

They wouldn’t know if it’d make the issue most recent to come out or the one after, but one of Harry’s roomies did point out the interesting reaction Umbridge would have. Later at dinner, Hermione explains the drama Harry had with Cho, Ron coming in after practice and stating how Hermione could write the manual for boys to understand easier. Gryffindor lost Quidditch by 10 points and Harry dreamt of the door again, Ron’s snoring this time preventing him from glimpsing inside. Harry receives post, surprisingly the next morning from a few different birds. His Quibbler story had been published and he was already receiving fan mail, some believers and some not, but people mostly accepting his version. Umbridge takes it horribly, ofc making a new rule of Quibbler possession = expulsion and Harry receiving more detention and 50 points from Gryffindor, Hermione over the moon about Umbridge’s ban, since it’d only have every student read it asap.

They see this to be true, since they keep overhearing students talk about it, Harry even getting points back for Gryffindor, teachers showing their support in varying fashion, Seamus and Cho even coming around, Luna learning her father had to make a reprint for selling out so fast. Later in the evening, Harry dreams of being Voldemort speaking of info Rookwood had acquired. Harry shares this nightmare with Ron and Hermione, she deciding they should ignore it and Harry should focus more on Occlumency. Harry does make headway with Snape after this, he seeing some of his memories for once. They soon interrupted by Trelawney’s screams for having been fired by Umbridge, McGonagall showing empathy and Umbridge challenges on whether Trelawney was allowed to stay by Dumbledore, he having authority on whether a teacher had to leave the grounds, he also already having replaced her with a centaur, Firenze.

Hermione expects Umbridge would be zeroing on Dumbledore for revenge by appointing a half-human professor, their first class being held on the first floor now and the room mirroring the forest. Firenze shares how he’d been kicked out of his herd upon agreeing to teach at Hogwarts. He certainly teaching them how leaving most predictions with a grain of salt was best, since it was difficult practice even for centaurs to be accurate. After class Firenze asks Harry send a cryptic message to Hagrid, which was not explained further other than Hagrid needing sound advice and Firenze receiving help by Hagrid and he wished to keep Hagrid on the right path. Hagrid doesn’t receive the advice open-heartedly though, and Harry bustles along, D.A. meetings keeping his brain occupied, the students starting practice for their patronuses.

Dobby interrupts with the almost too late warning of Umbridge having found out about D.A. and was coming for them, most everyone escaping except Harry, whom gets caught by a jinx from Malfoy, Umbridge taking him to Dumbledore’s office. They find Fudge, Percy, some other fella along with Dumbledore already waiting, Harry denying knowing what was wrong, Umbridge getting their witness, she being Cho’s buddy and showing the signs of the jinx, which prevented her from wanting to speak further. Umbridge soon crosses the line when she attempts to physically force the girl into responding, Dumbledore stopping this hastily. When Umbridge then provides the list of names with the D.A. title, Dumbledore confuses Fudge by offering to confess, and then states Fudge’s plan for him to await trial in Azkaban didn’t suit him, a hex being set on the 4 Ministry employees, and Dumbledore vowing Fudge would regret ousting him.

Notice of Umbridge taking over for Dumbledore was quite immediate, the students learning more than Harry expected, and Malfoy being promoted to a side project of Umbridge’s so he could take points from students. The twins turn up to confide of giving Umbridge a reason to expel them, not worrying anymore and wanting to give Umbridge a run, for Dumbledore’s sake. Harry is escorted by Filch directly after this, to Umbridge, whom required his presence and attempt to secretly have him drink a truth magic drink, she asking about Dumbledore and Sirius’ whereabouts, not getting any answers and then being interrupted by an explosion the twins had been warning Harry about. When Harry sees the sparkly mess the twins had created, it was impressive as it gained energy, not dying out past night. As he retreats, he discovers the twins hiding spot, the 2 quietly in hysterics as they shared what would occur if Umbridge attempted certain spells to make them stop.

Tonight Harry got even closer to Voldemort’s goal of seeing inside the Dept. of Mysteries for a glimpse of the weapon, but this time some late fireworks wake him. His upcoming training with Snape would be extra dreaded, but they end up postponing with Umbridge requesting his help elsewhere by Malfoy, whom was sure to spread the word of Harry’s remedial course. Before biffing off himself, however he sees Snape had left his Pensieved memories just hanging out, so thought he’d have a little perusal. What he sees is 15-ish Snape and his pops along with Sirius, Lupin, and Wormtail taking their Defense O.W.L.s. Harry witnesses his father’s bullying arrogance and the early reactions of his mother toward him. Eventually, he is caught in the memory and thrown out forcefully by Snape, not wanting to see him return again, he understanding the bullied Snape’s feelings.

Hermione can’t believe Harry had somehow finished his lessons with Snape for good, but focuses on scheduling their studying for the O.W.L.s. Harry can’t help, but be absorbed with the thought of his parents personalities and how this memory was affecting his non-memories of his most prized family members. Ginny helps him out by getting the twins on the case for diversion, so Harry would be able to use Umbridge’s office fire to speak to Sirius about his troubled thoughts regarding his father. His first Potions back with Snape was unusually and pleasantly quiet, until Snape breaks his classwork so as to continue his zeroes. When he has his occupational and coursework discussion later with McGonagall and Umbridge sitting in, the two argue about Harry’s chances on becoming an Auror and then McGonagall straight up offering to tutor him through if it was truly his dream, despite Umbridge’s every attempt at shutting this path down.

Before having him sit through more of Umbridge’s nonsense, she allows Harry to conclude and leave as the 2 yell at each other. Harry truly struggles whether he still wanted to continue the plan, deciding he couldn’t pass up a good diversion and proceeding to Umbridge’s office, invisible cloak and pick-locking knife ready. As he has this conversation via floo with Sirius and Lupin, he isn’t calmed by the information they give him, one being to continue Occlumency at any cost. He scurries to get to his invisible cloak again before Filch walks in. Harry leaves after him and witnesses the best school quitting to get out of punishment performance, ever by the twins. They had students tumultuously cheering at the end, the students from then on making the moment the stuff of legend, and becoming troublemakers, themselves and exacting revenge on Umbridge daily. Ron is currently concerned about his mother being outraged he hadn’t stopped them, but Hermione considers how long they must’ve been planning it if they already had a physical address for their shop.

Harry confesses he’d given the twins the money, Hermione soon reminded to ask if Harry had inquired about his training to Snape, he not glad of having shared this information from Sirius’ chat. (These periodic grammatical nonsensical sentences are hard to ignore, esp. when not much is driving this humungo story, other than narrative statements and updates of what’s happened.) Meanwhile, Ron has Quidditch to ‘look forward to’ and during the game, Hagrid steals Harry and Hermione to accompany him into the forest, they learning a bit more about what happened to Firenze and Hagrid’s falling out with the centaurs. This long trip into the forest though, had to do with Hagrid sensing his dismissal coming and he having to take care of Grawp, his half bro, whom wasn’t quite friendly. What he’d want from Hermione, Harry, and if Ron agreed, was to only chat with him, get him used to English society. As they’re about to leave, a bunch of centaurs interrupt. This interaction proves intimidating further to the 2 kids, whilst Hagrid makes note of the centaurs not hurting children. This isn’t a comfort to them, and they decide to save telling Ron, since Gryffindor finally won a Quidditch since he’d joined.

When Ron is told of Grawp, he only hopes (NOT against bloody hope, the dumbest Bible reference, ever) Hagrid sticks it out til summer vacay. When O.W.L.s weeks arrive, everyone becomes frenetic, focused, and quieter, Harry seeing the exam set up to be the same as the one witnessed in Snape’s memory. All 3 take their first week of exams well enough, esp. Harry in Defense, getting a bonus point for his patronus. Harry’s astronomy exam is punctuated by his noticing Hagrid being visited and eventually fighting against Umbridge and a few Ministry workers, they stunning Fang and McGonagall, before Hagrid concusses all but one and Umbridge. During the final exam for history, Harry struggles to remember what he’d studied, he soon dreaming of the door and upon seeing a conversation between Voldemort and Sirius, wakes by falling out of his chair.

Harry is soon absorbing whom he’d be able to share his vision with, since McGonagall had been sent to hospital, he settling on relaying his vision to his buddies, they not as ready as he is to jump after Voldemort to save Sirius. Hermione however, receives the brunt of his fuming anger, since she was attempting to make sense of what Harry saw, he becoming louder and more frustrated as they continued until Ginny and Luna come in to offer to help. This gives Hermione the momentum to have Harry at least chill the fuck out until they confirmed Sirius wasn’t at home, Kreacher giving away the information after some slight withholding, then Harry’s caught by Umbridge. When Snape’s called in to help have Harry reveal why he’d been there, Harry takes a chance by yelling a veiled message to him. To save time before Umbridge hit Harry with a curse and after she’d confessed to sending the dementors, Hermione fake breaks down, in preparation to share what Harry’d been doing, Umbridge eating it up. By the end, Hermione had convinced her they had been wanting to contact Dumbledore to confirm the finishing of a weapon, she having Hermione and Harry lead her as Malfoy and some Slytherins held Ron, Ginny, Luna, and Neville in her office.

Hermione leads them outside, Umbridge nervous when she shares it was in the Forbidden Forest, she leading them down a different path than the one to Grawp, they eventually stopped by centaurs, Umbridge making an arrogant dumb ass out of herself, she retaliating by binding one of the centaurs after a warning arrow flies past her head. She’s soon restrained and taken away further into the forest, Harry and Hermione still in trouble with the 50 strong centaurs, being interrupted by Grawp before they’d decided what to do with them. He apparently was out looking for big brah and in his attempt to pick up someone or other, the centaurs attack him for having knocked one of them down, he chasing them further in, and the 2 soon joined by the other captured kids, everyone arguing on who would accompany Harry, the thestrals soon making it easy for all of them to ditch, Harry annoyed, but wanting to biff off already.

They all arrive quickly and wearily, they getting their visitor badges no problem and without seeing anyone, including security, they proceed to the Dept. of Mysteries. After some time looking for the right door, they don’t discover Sirius, but do detect a jar with Harry’s name labeling it, Lucius soon having him pass it to him. More Death Eaters surround them, Lestrange taunting him as Malfoy continues to demand for the prophecy Harry held. He hoped the others were coming up with a solid plan, since all he had was killing time. Soon, though he helped relay to Hermione to have them all smash shelves as he continued talking with Malfoy, he learned his prophecy had the answer to why he’d been scarred. They take their chance, losing half their party on the way to the 2nd room, Harry, Hermione, and Neville fighting some Death Eaters. They soon do worse and it’s down to Neville being tortured and Harry wasting more time until Sirius and the group of 4 from the Order show up to help. By the end of it, Dumbledore had appeared, but not in time to save Sirius from falling through the veiled archway after being hit with a spell.

Harry is at first in denial, then upon seeing Lestrange attempt escape, follows her and has a one on one until Voldemort turns up, he ready to kill Harry, but Dumbledore protecting him and fighting the 2. Which upon Harry collapsing with scar pain, Voldemort and Lestrange escape which Fudge sees and can no longer deny. Dumbledore then begins giving instructions as to how Fudge shall proceed, he regaining his headmaster-ship. Harry is then sent back to Hogwarts to await everyone’s return by Portkey.

It lands him in Dumbledore’s office which he couldn’t leave, he overcome with having gotten Sirius killed. When Dumbledore arrives, he updates Harry on his buddies temporary condition, as well as Tonks. Harry soon loses his shit though, chucking Dumbledore’s breakables around, he verging on threatening Dumbledore, whom refused to let him leave, he wanting to confess why it was actually mostly his own fault Sirius was dead. This revelation stops Harry, Dumbledore starting again with Harry’s scar, but regarding why he’d been ignoring him was to calm the beast, so to speak, Voldemort possibly possessing Harry to get to him, or like in the Ministry of Magic, see if he’d kill Harry to get to Voldemort.

He goes on to confide how Kreacher had been able to lie to Harry about Sirius, and had revealed everything to Dumbledore, since it was a direct order, but also by truth jinx or whatever. He also regards Snape’s choices and how he’d actually helped, Harry not caring much, Dumbledore taking responsibility for not doing more with Harry’s training. After, he reveals a piece which he’d kept from Harry for 5 years, this stemming from the ancient protection charm his mother gave him through their shared blood, which was locked when her sister had taken him in. Dumbledore recaps his feeling to reveal the truth through each year Harry’d been at Hogwarts and eventually comes upon the weapon being the knowledge of how to kill Harry (which isn’t revealed), this within the prophecy (not) and the prophecy given by Trelawney. Harry soon also absorbs how someday, one or the other would have to die before the other could live, Dumbledore confessing his reason for not choosing him as prefect being due to the loads of responsibility Harry already bore.

Fudge gives the press update on the Ministry’s opinion of Voldemort being the correct one, now. Umbridge is rescued by Dumbledore, somehow unscathed, but she was quite shell-shock, clopping noises putting her on edge. Harry refrains from sharing the prophecy with Hermione and Ron, currently still on bed-rest and is waylaid from seeing Hagrid by the Malfoy trio, they interrupted by Snape, whom he loathed worse now. McGonagall interrupts by giving all the students at the Ministry of Magic points, so Snape could withdraw his measly 10 for almost cursing Malfoy, Harry then continuing to Hagrid’s, but soon leaves when he brings up Sirius.

Umbridge leaves the day before school ends and Harry opens the package Sirius gave him in case he wanted to talk. It didn’t work of course, it being like a telephone, Harry then getting no good answers from Nearly Headless Nick in regards to coming back after death, either. Also, even though he now knows why he must spend time at the Dursleys, it didn’t make the going there any easier. Cho had moved on with Ginny’s ex, she now dating Dean Thomas, this news not treating Ron any better than the first. The D.A. curse the shit out of Malfoy and his goons when they were readying to attack Harry on his way back to his carriage, the 3 remaining oozy messes. When the kids go through the station barrier, they’re greeted by some of the Order, who had the idea of speaking to the Dursleys before Harry began summer vacay with them to make sure they understood, they wouldn’t tolerate any misconduct against Harry, he not knowing how to thank them, so simply allows for all to bid him farewell til mid-end of summer.

The most uneventful, but easy read of a thick-ass book. I know I won’t be a re-reader, like so many others, but I’m glad to be finishing this series, since I’ve gotten through the movies a couple times and I still enjoy seeing the, hopefully fleshed out version in book form. This doesn’t particularly include this story, only because it meandered, which is great for beach reading, but only one spot near-ish to the end of the book being exciting; I referring to the Dept. of Mysteries fight against the Death Eaters. I am most definitely looking forward to the next, more slim book in the series.

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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.

Bone Vol. 7: Ghost Circles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thief of Souls

thief of souls

Following Scorpion Shards (which was by far the least biased and more entertaining of the two) the kids have grown, meta-physically and otherwise. Their powers have developed in a different way than the first novel showed due to not having their “leaches”. The development of the characters has made some of their dynamic change the relationships between them and we learn the origins of their powers are closer to home than we think. The second book’s villain is beginning to remind me of those in The Lightning Thief series, and while we get a taste of a smattering of folk-lore, I wouldn’t focus too much on the accuracy if you’re in it for the adventurous drama. Plenty interesting, with the exception of being more gruesome.

And since I only reached up to Chapter 22 of this book I’ll start from the beginning. It leaves off pretty much where the second novel ended, but what becomes glaringly clear is there are parts which show Shusterman’s short-comings in the terminology which society and teenagers would normally use when talking about gay couples and the inner-workings of a relationship or friendship. To this reader, he sounds like he needs to start reading some gay literature. Maybe then he might be able to sound more natural having his teen-age characters broach the subject. Until then, we must suffer through those moments and his conspicuous need to throw in the word “queer” to describe what Shusterman thinks is an overtly gay movement perhaps; Or referring to one of his teenaged character’s as a faggot through one of his antagonists which I now realize might come from a strictly ignorant Christian “faith” upbringing; Because since this point, I’ve started to notice repetitive statements supporting my claims the more I read and it also supporting Okoya’s character being his “devil”. At least Ian Fleming has more entertaining flare when it comes to his sexist comments which for some reason, doesn’t hinder the skew of the reality he imagines.

Despite those issues, he does let the protagonists have the final laugh. As for the author, Shusterman has a way of making a violent act a bit more detestable which I still find surprising, even though I’m not one to shy away from extreme fictional situations. I believe this will be the first and last series I read from this author and he’s certainly not doing anything for g.l.b.t. fiction; He’s quickly become one of those writer’s I can’t bring myself to like due to their narrow-minded views. I now understand why Heinlein is a fan of his.