“What’s particle physics?” asked Bod.
Scarlett shrugged. “Well.” she said. “There’s atoms, which is things that is too small to see, that’s what we’re all made of. And there’s things that’s smaller than atoms, and that’s particle physics.”
Bod nodded and decided that Scarlett’s father was probably interested in imaginary things.
“You’re brave. You are the bravest person I know, and you are my friend. I don’t care if you are imaginary.”
One grave in every graveyard belong to the ghouls. Wander any graveyard long enough and you will find it- waterstained and bulging, with cracked or broken stone, scraggly grass or rank weeds about it, and a feeling, when you reach it, of abandonment. It may be colder than the other gravestones, too, and the name on the stone is all too often impossible to read. If there is a statue on the grave it will be headless or so scabbed with fungus and lichens as to look like a target for petty vandals, that is the ghoul-gate. If the grave makes you want to be somewhere else, that is the ghoul-gate.
There was one in Bod’s graveyard.
There is one in every graveyard.
Mr. Owens had an expression for two things he found equally unpleasant: “I’m between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” he would say. Bod had wondered what this meant, having seen, in his life in the graveyard, neither the Devil nor the Deep Blue Sea.
I’m between the ghouls and the monster, he thought.
The Hounds of God
he read. It was printed in purple in, and was the first item on the list.
Those that men call Werewolves or Lycanthropes call themselves the Hounds of God, as they claim their transformation is a gift from their creator, and they repay the gift with their tenacity, for they will pursue and evildoer to the very gates of Hell.
Not just evildoers, he thought.
“…And there are always people who find their lives have become so unsupportable they believe the best thing they could do would be to hasten their transition to another plane of existence.”
“They kill themselves, you mean?” said Bod. He was about eight years old, wide-eyed and inquisitive, and he was not stupid.
“Does it work? Are they happier dead?”
“Sometimes. Mostly, no. It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. If you see what I mean.”
He reached in, and took out a card, only slightly larger than a business card. it was black-edged. There was no name or address printed on it, though. Only one word, handwritten in the center in an ink that had faded to brown: Jack.
“Be whole, be dust, be dream, be wind
Be night, be dark, be wish, be mind,
Now slip, now slide, now move unseen,
Above, beneath, betwixt, between.”
Bod shrugged. “So?” he said. “It’s only death. I mean, all of my best friends are dead.”
“Yes.” Silas hesitated. “They are. And they are, for the most part, done with this world. You are not. You’re alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you’re dead, it’s gone. Over. You’ve made what you’ve made, dreamed your dream, written your name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished.”
Fear is contagious. You can catch it. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to say that they’re scared for the fear to become real.
“That’s the difference between the living and the dead, ennit? said the voice. It was Liza Hempstock talking, Bod knew, although the witch-girl was nowhere to be seen. “The dead dun’t disappoint you. They’ve had their life, done what they’ve done. We dun’t change. The living, they always disappoint you, dun’t they? You met a boy who’s all brave and noble, and he grows up to run away.”
“I don’t actually need to win her heart. She’s not my true love,” said Bod. “Just someone I’d like to talk to.”
Silas went first, followed by the grey hugeness of Miss Lupescu, padding quietly on four feet just behind him. Behind them was Kandar, a bandage-wrapped Assyrian mummy with powerful eagle-wings and eyes like rubies, who was carrying a small pig.
“Where are you going?” asked Scarlett.
“This is my home,” said Bod. “I’m going to protect it.”
“People want to forget the impossible. It makes their world safer.”
“About fifteen, I think. Though I still feel the same as I always did,” Bod said, but Mother Slaughter interrupted. “And I still feels like I done when I was a tiny slip of a things making daisy chains in the old pasture. You’re always you, and that don’t change, and you’re always changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”