Monday, January 22, 2007

Against the Blog: 3-8

Les Chums were in Brussels for a memorial service for General Boulanger--an annual occurrence, apparently. I'm sure there are political implications here that are going right the hell over my head. This depressed them, so they applied for and received ground leave in Ostend, where they are now. Piet Woevre is intrigued by the presence of this skyship, which he can't see but knows is there. He's looking into rumors of some mysterious quaternion superweapon, and imagines that the ship has some relation thereto.

Someone has been sneaking aboard the Inconvenience and spying, maybe. But what about Pugnax? Randolph wonders. Pugnax, it seems, is evolving into some sort of ferocious cyber attack dog, "with a highly developed taste, moreover, for human blood" (550).

Miles is feeling more and more distant from the rest of the crew, what with his visions. It seems that he has encountered one of the Trespassers (you know...the people allegedly from the future), Ryder Thorn, and arranged a meeting with him. They're both ukulele players, we learn, so they have that in common.

So the two of them bicycle along for a while. Thorn wants to know how much Miles knows, but Miles is evasive. Thorn gets agitated: "You think you drift above it all, immune to everything, immortal. Are you that foolish?" (554). He predicts, in a veiled manner, the carnage that is to ensue in this very spot in ten years time, in (I assume--I'm not a WWI historian) the Third Battle of Ypres, but in a broader sense, the carnage of the twentieth century in general. "And that is not the most perverse part of it. They will all embrace death. Passionately....League on league of filth, corpses by the uncounted thousands, the breath you took for granted become corrosive and death-giving" (ibid). Miles is curious but skeptical.

Thorn claims that the Trespassers aren't exactly masters of time, but rather are controlled by it; they can't go back and forth at a whim. Miles reaches out to touch him, and realizes that he's not fully manifest. Thorn, enraged at all this, curses the chums and "your pathetic balloon-boy faith" (555).

Back at the ship, he tells Chick that the Trespassers have lied to them--they can't provide eternal youth or anything of the sort--and that he knew this from the start. "You ought to have shared that" (556), Chick suggests. Miles replies, poignantly:

Overcome as I was, Chick, I knew I would get through it. But you fellows--Lindsay is so frail, really, Darby pretends to be a weathered old nihilist, but he's hardly out of boyhood. How could I have been that cruel to any of you? My brothers?



Post a Comment

<< Home