Friday, January 22, 2010

Part 5, Chapter 5 - Hope They Don't Hit a Bump, Jonnie Might Fall Out

The laughing planet Psychlo of Jonnie's dreams segues into a laughing Terl, who is looking through what the narrative continues to refer to as "man-books." Terl and Jonnie have a morning chat, which is to say that the former asks the latter questions that Jonnie ignores. Actually, there's a lot of ignoring going on - Jonnie spots another recon drone roaring about (a sonic boom, apparently) and wonders out loud why it's paroling each day, but Terl doesn't answer.

Instead he offers to take Jonnie up to the miraculously-preserved library in the ruins of Denver for more books, and also because he wants to show him something. Jonnie is, as always, suspicious, but doesn't want to turn down a good escape opportunity. He packs his things, including his new pistol.

Their transport isn't the Mark III tank from last time, but the Psychlo equivalent of a pickup truck - Terl doesn't want Jonnie stinking up the cabin, so he has an open-air back to ride in. Jonnie realizes this means he can't zap or club Terl while in transit, but gets in anyway.

"The truck skimmed away. It was slower than the tanks and it was not as well cushioned against the ground, for it was now running very underloaded..." hang on...

Four paragraphs ago: "Its only similarity to a tank was that it had no wheels but skimmed a varying distance up to three feet above ground."

So... it hovers? But somehow rides rough because nothing's weighing it down? What? That doesn't-

Screw it, the chapter's almost over. Jonnie's taking cover from the 80 mph winds - though how he knows that's how fast they're going, since he's in the back away from the speedometer and educated with Psychlo units of measurement anyway, I can't guess - and wondering if he could somehow hijack the vehicle in his escape attempt.

What a relief it would be to get rid of this collar. His heart was thudding expectantly. Once again, if he made no mistakes, he would be free!

I like the "once again" part. Your last attempt was a miserable failure despite your precautions, but surely this one will work out different! (Hint: it doesn't.)

We end at the bottom of page 163. Next chapter, Terl's illiteracy dooms his species to extinction, similar to how Terl's stupidity and Terl's arrogance and Terl's incompetence have done the same, and will continue to do so in the future.

Back to Chapter Four

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