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Strung along ropes going between the antennae and the chimneys. Strung between all the chimneys, too, even the one just there for show. Everywhere you could imagine a flag, a body part. And right at the world’s throne, his head. All four parts of his head, put back together again, with some sloppiness. Jone had spent hours on this and he was finally satisfied.
“So much for a shine in knighting armour,” he said, brushing some hair out of Oliver’s face. “Now time to find his friends.” He walked tiptoe past a crowd of scared people – some of them rich, some poor, some inbetween, a motley bunch. Lined up nicely, not allowed to switch position or so, that’d make escaping easier. Jone walked past de Gille, who leaned against a certain umbrella, looking bored and suave, and like he could bite your head off. As Jone did so, taking his place behind the draconic man, his eyes gave a yellow glow, in addition to the shine. No-one took mention of it.
“You!” Edwardth de Gille pointed at a little boy. “The owner of this umbrella. I want you to track her.”
Mark, the other henchman, leaned in to whisper something into de Gille’s ear.
“Oh, I see.” Disappointment, but not aimed at anyone. “Well, they can’t have gotten far.”
No-one moved. Jone looked to be a bit out of it. His eyes were only half open. Mark stood wide-leggèd, arms crossed, just staring at the crowd. Morrissey was gazing at the sky. All of the crowd either had their eyes closed or faces focused on the quartet of men keeping them all detained. Four men, was that all that was needed? No, just one man. No-one spoke, but these were the words floating around in their heads. Just those eyebrows, and voice, and the way he just told someone to decorate the ship with the body parts of a man he just killed. A sworded man, if one were to believe his posture, a knight. All that, and the rumours of dragons.
“I said they can’t have gotten far,” de Gille repeated. If anyone were to move, they would be killed. Their captors could see all of them, any shuffling of the feet, they had been informed, and the punishment would be severe, medically speaking.
Jone turned his head toward de Gille, tilting it a little, as if not grasping the meaning of his statement. As if to say “well, order me to do something about it.”
“So go and FIND THEM,” the dragon roared and the three henchmen stumbled away, down into the bowels of the ship, fine-combing it without much rigour, like scrubbing yourself clean after a lice infection and not reaching all parts of your body.
Inside the Titanic guts, below the dragon’s crowd, Elaine hid with Arth in a cupboard, forcing him to breathe through his nose and not make a noise. They were on some sort of shelf that sort of led into a ventilation system but not really, as there was nothing in there after two feet, and they both stopped breathing at all when the henchman threw the door open. He looked around the room and even stared at Elaine for a few seconds before slamming the door shut and walking along. The eyes, it must have been the eyes. She let go of Arth’s mouth and he took a deep breath and puffed and groaned.
After a few seconds he resumed silence.
“Okay, man, you have to tell me one thing,” Elaine started. “In case we die I want to know.”
“Er. Okay. Ask?” Arth moved his leg away a bit so it didn’t touch Elaine’s. While he hadn’t really been there she’d torn most of her skirt to ribbons and wrapped them around her legs so she looked a bit like some pastel pharaoh.
“What happens when you go limp and your eyes go glazy? Why did you shake your head back and forth hard enough to hammer in nails this time?”
Arth swallowed some air. Tried not to think of how cramped this space was, how the shelves weren’t built to support him. Then he tried to think of something like the sea, because focusing on not something was sure to make a pink elephant appear in one’s head. His head. It was muffled, slow-motion and sped up like crazy. He tried to answer the question, one of them at least. “I see things. I think I see them backwards.”
“What kind of things?”
“I saw the sky, when I writhed about. I felt the floor and everyone’s looks, I smelt the sulphur, but I saw the sky. And I couldn’t stop looking at it. Closing my eyes didn’t help, writhing … didn’t help. I wanted to get on my feet and tell Oliver to run, but my tongue was completely frozen in my mouth, like it wasn’t mine. I tried to tell him but …”
Now he’d moved away from Elaine completely. She didn’t remark upon it. Someone threw themselves at the door outside, then got a better idea and opened the door.
“If you’re in here we’ll find you!” Jone screamed. His eyes were dark like an unlit room, glazy like polished leather. He was flapping his arms, but paused to put on a pair of goggles. He’d donned some sort of contraption that made a few tubes hug him like an octopus and run along his arms like veins, ending in some sort of … gun.
Arth mouthed the words “oh fuck” at the same moment Jone pointed the flamethrower at them.
“There you are!” he said. “You’re going to burn!” There was a smile on his face. It showed teeth. The flamethrower was apparently some sort of pump; Jone started making ridiculous terrifying motions, filling the bladder with oil. A hand stretched out from inside the cul-de-sac ventilation duct and they followed, choiceless.
Everything inside the cupboard was soot.