Monday, February 8, 2010

Part 6, Chapter 6 - The Riddle of Numph: Bovine of Time

When Terl drops Jonnie off at the cage for the night, he tells the human to say his goodbyes, 'cause he's about to go on a trip next dawn, a journey of five days or so. Luckily Jonnie had just bagged a "fat young bull" that day... wait, when? Last chapter he and Ker had been shuttling gear to the airbase since early morning. This chapter doesn't open with "days later" or anything, so it presumably comes right afterwards. I guess there must have been a cow living in the ruins.

Anyway, Jonnie carves up the bull and orders Chrissie to smoke it, letting the girls know he'll be gone about a week. They're sad and scared and weepy that he'll be gone, since without him their lives have no meaning. Jonnie reassures them that he'll take care of himself, advises Chrissie to smear tallow on her sister's neck to help with the chafing from the collar, orders Pattie to "take care of your sister," and asks his girlfriend not to worry while he's gone and they're at the mercy of monsters.

That's about it for dialogue, which is refreshing. Many authors would be tempted to make the separation of two characters, one imprisoned, the other about to go off on a dangerous mission, into a dramatic and heartbreaking scene. Fortunately L. Ron knows that Jonnie and Chrissie's love speaks for itself, so he doesn't have to waste time on it during the story. This gives him space to mention what gear Terl wants Jonnie to bring the next morning, which is what readers are interested in. "Wear decent clothes and boots that won't stink the ship up. Bring your air pump and plenty of bottles and an extra mask." See? That's the good stuff.

That night Jonnie picks berries and flowers, but when he tries to toss them through the cage bars the electricity fries them. This would imply that after the first one turned into toast, Jonnie kept trying anyway, hoping the same action would produce a different result.

Oh, and Blodgett is on the mend, able to walk now! Remember? The horse Terl shot?

Next time, another plane ride.

Back to Chapter Five

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