It was very bright daylight now. And there it sat. There could be no mistaking it.
Surely it must be an insect. Only cockroaches looked like that. Or beetles. No, cockroaches.
Y'know, not enough internal monologues let us hear the character arguing with himself. And I'm surprised that the word "alien" has been retained in Jonnie's tribe's vocabulary, even though an important meaning of it has not. They obviously haven't tried placing the concept next to the idea of God killing off most of humanity and formed an alternative theory or two.
But there were no cockroaches that big. Not thirty feet long and ten feet high and maybe twelve feet side to side.
I guess Jonnie went out and measured it... wait a minute, how does his tribe know what a "foot"is? Is there an ancient ruler lovingly maintained and reverently passed down through the ages, a master craftsman carefully making a precise replica of it every other generation?
A horrible brown color. And smooth.
Yet contoured "so that every exterior surface would make a hostile projectile glance off at an angle." Remarkable engineers, those Psychlos. And what's so horrible about brown? If there's any color a barbarian idiot like Jonnie should be used to, it's brown.
Jonnie realizes that the impression of life the "insect" gives him is due to something moving behind its "slitted eyes." Obviously out of his depth, he starts to back away slowly, but is startled when the bug gives an "earsplitting roar" and levitates three feet off the ground and begins to float forward, ever-so-slowly. So Jonnie runs for it.
The remarkable insect somehow blocks Jonnie's path by exploding and toppling a building, then circles around and cuts Jonnie off from the other direction too, leaving him trapped on a street between two ruins... or does it? Primitive daredevil that he is, Jonnie spurs his mount up the heap of rubble with a mighty "EEYAH!" while praying to the gods (but not God) that this doesn't hobble Windsplitter.
He makes it up and over the pile of debris, but wouldn't you know it but the Magical Floating Cockroach is still on his tail? Still stupidly trying to make it to open country instead of going to ground in an area full of hiding places, Jonnie keeps riding, but the MFC easily outpaces him and keeps cutting him off.
Jonnie's face tightened into determination.
He took the biggest kill-club from his belt. He put the thong solidly on his wrist. He cast off the lead horse.
Yep. After seeing this strange "creature" blow up a friggin' building, Jonnie charges and throws a stick at it. I think this speaks for itself.
Well, he makes a loud noise with the impact, hitting the thing square in the "eye," then he turns to see how the thing reacts. It doesn't. Instead of making the most of this window of opportunity, Jonnie decides to go for the other eye.
And then a great gout of yellow bloomed out from between the eyes. Jonnie was struck a blow like all the winds of Highpeak rolled into one.
Windsplitter caught the full force of it. Up into the air went horse and rider. Down they came with a shuddering crash against the earth.
And so the chapter ends, halfway down page 45, thus assuring us that no, our hero isn't dead. Pity. Next chapter: speculation on Psychlo attention to maintenance.
Back to Chapter Eleven