Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Part 2, Chapter 2 - Jonnie's Day Gets Worse

Our P.O.V. returns to Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, who is in some discomfort. The sun above him is hot, his collar was put on while it was still cooling and is resting unpleasantly on burned flesh, and he's hungry and thirsty. He's got supplies in his satchels that could ameliorate this problems, but alas, since being collared he can no longer reach them.

Hey, you were trying to climb the bars earlier, yes? And your collar's attached to a loop over the top of one? Just shimmy on up and... oh wait, since you were hasty with your escape attempts, now you're under observation. Good one, Goodboy.

Still, you popped that car/tank's window out of its frame, eh? I'd call it a fair trade. Yes, you're in a cage and near death, but you mildly inconvenienced your attacker instead of running and hiding like a sensible animal.

Jonnie is forced to admit that there might be some truth to the elders' legends about monsters.

We get a human's description of a Psychlo - at least nine feet tall, a third that much wide, easily a thousand pounds (where did he get these measurements again?), booted feet, talons and furry claws, and glowing amber eyes behind its shiny "face." The monster also seems to have extraordinary perception, given how it spotted Jonnie's escape attempts despite being out of sight. In an amazing intuitive leap, Jonnie suspects the objects it installed in the cage, "like small detachable eyes," might have something to do with it. I guess believing in gods is one thing, but monsters with magical powers is just too much.

His captor shows up again, and it dawns on Jonnie that its skin isn't shiny and purple, but it's wearing clothes. Despite Jonnie noticing its boots earlier. Even when Jonnie does something smart, he still finds a way of reminding us that he's an idiot.

The monster throws some "soft, gooey sticks of something" at the ground in front of Jonnie, then waits expectantly. Then it makes gestures, pointing at the sticks, then Jonnie's face. And once it becomes clear that Jonnie isn't connecting the dots, the beast squashes one of the sticks against Jonnie's mouth.

"Jonnie got it. This was supposed to be food."

That bit of narration is hilarious if you imagine it as a deadpan voice-over accompanied by a shot of Terl cramming the food-sticks into a squirming, panicking Jonnie's mouth.

Unfortunately for Jonnie, monster-food makes him hurl, which does not help his dehydration either. He points at his mouth and begs for water. He doesn't try to mime drinking something, or anything like that. He just hopes his tormentor knows English.

Terl just stands there, his slitted eyes "glowing with an eerie fire." Huh, wonder why they didn't include that special effect for the movie Psychlos? They just got lame contacts.

"Jonnie composed himself stoically. It was wrong to look weak and beg. There was such a thing as pride. He drew his face into stillness."

Um... hmm. I guess this is to show that Jonnie's heroic? Beaten, but not conquered? Undaunted by the massive physical presence of his adversary? Unfortunately, Jonnie, sometimes - like, for example, if you're dehydrated and starving - your odds of survival are increased if you do things like indicate that you're in pain and need proper food or medical attention. You can try to break out later when you're not, y'know, dying.

Terl, who doesn't know enough about humans to recognize a defiant look, just checks to make sure Jonnie still has his collar on and leaves.

Way to show him, Jonnie! That'll teach him to... attempt to feed you.

And so, burning with thirst, hungry, and alone, Jonnie spends the night in his cage, miserable. He reckons Windsplitter is either hurt or dead, and that he'll die in a few days too. But hey, you'll have died defiant, so you get the moral victory.

"And then with a shock he realized that Chrissie's promise to find him would wind up in her certain death." Hmm? Well I guess that could happen, if she makes it to the Great Village and there's another Magical Flying Cockroach there. On the other hand, if she's smart she'll run and hide until the danger passes, evading the monsters that obviously outclass her until she can make her escape.

So yeah, I guess Chrissie's screwed.

"He caved in." I don't know what this means. Does he finally drop the stoic facade? Does he start digging? Does he start crying? Does his ribcage collapse, leaving him a heap of burbling flesh and bone? L. Ron knows, but doesn't tell us.

And so, as the unblinking camera at the top of the cage looks on at what might be a pitiful scene, depending on what exactly the author meant with the previous sentence, our chapter ends near the bottom of page 58. Tune in next time for geography, population data, and xenophobia.

Back to Chapter One

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