Chapter 3; In Which We Learn About Particle Accelerators, and the Playing of “Battleships”
I’m introduced to two scientists who, when slightly bored, aren’t very scientific and play battleships when things get a little dull (how anything can be dull at the Large Hadron Collider is anyone’s guess), while unbeknownst to them, evil things are afoot in the LHC. Lurking and waiting.
The LHC was a particle accelerator, the largest ever constructed: a device for smashing protons together in a vacuum, consisting of 1,600 electromagnets chilled to -271 degrees Celsius (or, to you and me, “Crumbs, that’s really cold! Anybody got a sweater I can borrow?”), producing a powerful electromagnetic field.
There’s quite a decent overall of what happens in a particle accelerator and why anyone would want to use one, should the reader be interested. Written in the same layman’s manner injected with humour, as before.
The LHC has to be a rather unique setting for a story. When it was first switched on last year, there was a Torchwood radio play on BBC Radio 4 to help commemorate the event, but apart from that, the LHC has become largely ignored.
At this point, it’s a good idea to mention the Might-Cause-the-Destruction-of-the-Earth-and-the-End-of-Life-As-We-Know-It issue. It’s a minor thing, but you can’t be too careful.
As the operating of the LHC has not created a black hole large enough to end our existence, more authors should involve this magnificent feat of engineering in more fiction. Even if it is “just for the heck of it”.
There’s a bit of a panic in the control room and the two scientists have to abandon their game of battleships. It seems that “The Great Malevolence” has made his move against the universe.
“The Great Malevolence” is now introduced, along with the place where he lives and the demons that also reside there. It’s a bit brief but the “Great Malevolence” shouldn’t need much of an introduction really.
Chapter 4; In Which We Learn About the Inadvisability of Attempting to Summon Up Demons, and of Generally Messing About with the Afterlife
Doesn’t sound like Samuel is one of the popular people at school. He sounds altogether too sensible and thoughtful to be in such a classroom. His teacher, Mr. Hume, ought to be paying attention to the boy but instead chooses to ignore Samuel’s thoughtfulness as it’s obviously too much trouble for the teacher to actually try to understand the young man. Samuel, on the other hand, has a few interesting observations concerning his fellow classmates & his teacher, it all sounds a little familiar to me, as if an old memory is resurfacing. I particularly liked Samuel’s deductions about Helen Kim’s volcano at the class “show and tell”, I found myself nodding & agreeing with him, “hmm, he’s probably right”.
Samuel’s pin was not very interesting, but his arguments regarding the pin & the possibility of there being an infinite number of angels on it’s head, quite enlightening.
“I read it somewhere. Theoretically, you can fit an infinite number of angels on the head of a pin.”
“That doesn’t mean that they’re actually there,” said Mr. Hume.
“No, but they might be,” said Samuel reasonably.
“Equally, they might not.”
“You can’t prove that they’re not there, though,” said Samuel.
“But you can’t prove that they are.”
Samuel thought about this for a couple of seconds, then said, “You can’t prove a negative proposition.”
From this I can also see why Mr. Hume chooses to be condescending towards the poor fellow rather than celebrating his debating skills. Mrs. Johnson may right that Mr. Hume is a little sensitive.
It is while Samuel is ruminating on this event, his mother’s date tonight and the annoying babysitter waiting for him at home (who is interested only in boring reality TV shows and her boyfriend), that Evil makes it’s move in Crowley Avenue, accompanied by a bright blue flash and the smell of rotten eggs.
To which our heroes delay their return home to investigate. And what eleven year old wouldn’t!
In the basement of number 666, a rotten eggy smell heralds the arrival of a blue light and Mrs. Abernathy is either brave or stupid. I’m going with the latter, as she approaches the light, seemingly without fear. See, stupid. If a blue light suddenly appeared in front of me I’d be off. There’s having a healthy curiosity about our surroundings and then there’s just begging for trouble. Blue lights hovering about could be ball lightening, a natural phenomenon, but a person should have a healthy respect for nature, a small amount of fear is also good. Keeps me out of harms way at any rate. So all things considered, I don’t think Mrs. Abernathy is very sensible for peering into this ball of light, I don’t care what kind of gates she can see, there could be Merlin’s castle for all care, the whole situation screams don’t do it!
Now Boswell the dachshund is showing more sense than all the humans put together, his boy included. I love how the author describes what Boswell would have done had he have been a larger dog. What a noble canine.
Samuel, being one of the heroes, must of course witness this rather peculiar event, otherwise he would know the jeopardy the world is on the threshold of.
It should come as no surprise to anyone reading the book that Mrs. Abernathy is dragged into the dreadful land of the gates by something not of this world, but it seems the occupants of the basement are, although Mr. Abernathy has at least some unconscious scrap of self-preservation in him that prevents him willingly following his wife into “the light”.
Mr. Abernathy ran toward the glowing circle, then seemed to think better of whatever he was planning to do and settled for calling out, plaintively, his wife’s name.
What transpires is the beginning of a body snatchers type plot, in which the occupants of the basement are replaced by four human shaped something else’s, if you’ll pardon my grammar.
Samuel, being the hero, has seen enough to be set on his quest to stop them and smartly runs home as fast as humanly possible for a character in a (e)book. But not without the not-Mrs. Abernathy to glare at the spot Samuel once occupied and can’t you just see the old movie-serial/TV trick of next episode on…
Same bat-time, same bat-channel!
Chapter 5; In Which We Meet Nurd, Who Is Not Quite As Terrifying As He Would Like to Be, but a Great Deal Unluckier
Nurd, of course, being the “Scourge Of Five Deities” don’cha-know.
Who is a deity that has been banished to a very dull, flat, grey and thoroughly boring kingdom, along with his servant Wormwood.
There’s a humorous and quite cultured description concerning what a deity is at the back of the book, and I highly recommend reading any of these. The benefit of having the ebook version (other than saving trees) is that there’s a hyper-link to each note that can be accessed by the click of a mouse button, returning back to the story in a similar manner. Handy that.
Back to the Nurd’s kingdom known as the Wasteland, which is exceptionally dull and quite a boring place to be. The author makes me feel very sad for poor Nurd to be in such a desolate & grey place. The same kind of bored sadness I feel when I’m in any kind of waiting room without anything sensible to occupy myself with. Poor Scourge.
It gets better, Nurd was a scourge to five demons in all, and from their Titles, they deserved to be irritated by someone.
Schwell, the Demon of Uncomfortable Shoes;
Ick, the Demon of Unpleasant Things Discovered in Plug Holes During Cleaning;
Graham, the Demon of Stale Biscuits and Crackers;
Mavis, the Demon of Inappropriate Names for Men;
and last, and quite possibly least, Erics’, the Demon of Bad Punctuation.
I myself have been the victim of teh, the keyboard demon (something I made up long ago during my irc days) and I’m very definitely adding these five previously un-named demons to my list.
So applaud Nurd for his services to humanity. Hurrah!
Of course, Nurd is not without his faults. His servant Wormwood for instance, seems to get bashed about for no other reason than to relieve Nurd’s boredom, but then, Nurd is a demon so I wasn’t really expecting saintly behaviour, having said that, it must really bite to be a minion on any level.
The next paragraph explains the plans of the Great Malevolence and how he inadvertently let Nurd escape his tedious boredom. Reminds me a phrase from “The Sound of Music”
When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.
Or something like that. Wonder if that was what the author was thinking of when he wrote Nurd’s (brief) escape, who seems to be feeling somewhat dizzy, slightly disoriented and has a vacuum cleaner on his head (eventually).