Sunday, October 28, 2007

The beginning of Chapter 3 of Odd and the Frost Giants

This is how Chapter 3 of Odd and the Frost Giants begins...

Odd had imagined that the side of salmon would feed him for a week or more. But bears and foxes and eagles all, he discovered, eat salmon, and feeding them was the least he could do to thank them for seeing him home. They ate until the fish was all gone, but only Odd and the eagle seemed satisfied with their portions. The fox and the bear both looked like they were still hungry.

“We'll find more food tomorrow,” said Odd. “Sleep now.”

The animals stared at him. He walked over to the straw mattress, and climbed onto it. It didn't smell like his father at all, he realised, as he sat down on it, as he placed the crutch carefully against the wall, to pull himself up when he woke. It just smelled like straw. Odd closed his eyes, and he was asleep.

Dreams of darkness, of flashes, of moments, nothing he could hold onto, nothing that comforted him. And then into the dream a booming gloomy voice that said,

“It wasn't my fault.”

And a higher voice, bitterly amused, that said, “Oh, right. I told you not to go pushing that tree down. You just didn't listen.”

“I was hungry. I could smell the honey. You don't know what it was like, smelling that honey. It was better than mead. Better than roasted goose.” And then, the gloomy voice, so bass it made Odd's stomach vibrate, changed its tone. “And you, of all people, don't need to go blaming people. It's because of you we're in this mess.”

“I thought we had a deal. I thought we weren't going to keep harping on about a trivial little mistake...”

“You call this trivial?”

And then a third voice, high and raw, which screeched, “Silence.”

There was silence. Odd rolled over. There was a glow from the fire-embers, enough to see the inside of the hut, enough to confirm to Odd that there were not another three people in there with him. It was just him and the fox and the bear and the eagle...

I wonder if they eat people, thought Odd. Whatever they are.

He sat up in the bed, leaned against the wall. The bear and the eagle both ignored him. The fox darted him a green-eyed glance.

“You were talking,” said Odd.

The animals looked at Odd and at each other. If they did not actually say “Who? Us?” it was there in their expressions, in the way they held themselves.

Somebody was talking,” said Odd. “And it wasn't me. There isn't anyone else in here. That means it was you lot. And there's no point in arguing.”

“We weren't arguing,” said the bear. “Because we can't talk.” Then it said, “Oops.”

The fox and the eagle glared at the bear, who put a paw over his eyes and looked ashamed of himself.

Odd sighed. “Which one of you wants to explain what's going on?” he said.

“Nothing,” said the fox, brightly. “Just a few talking animals. Nothing to worry about. Happens every day. We'll be out of your hair first thing in the morning.”

The eagle fixed Odd with its one good eye. Then it turned to the fox. “Tell!”

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