XANTH 09 Golem in the Gears by Piers Anthony

XANTH 09 Golem in the Gears by Piers Anthony

Author:Piers Anthony
Language: eng
Format: epub


Chapter 10. Coming to Terms

Tired from the rigors of the night, they lay on the bed and slept. There was plenty of room for both of them, as Rapunzel remained golem-sized. She slept at one end, and Grundy at the other.

At noon Grundy woke and got up. He peered under the bed. Snortimer still lay without moving. Yet he was not dead; Bed Monsters dissolved into dust when their ends came. There was still hope.

Grundy went outside the cave to forage for something to eat. He found a patch of sugar sand, and a puddle of reasonably fresh water. Those would have to do.

Rapunzel was up when he returned. He explained about the sand and water, apologetically. To his surprise, she seemed pleased. “I've never eaten directly from the real world,” she said. “It will be a new experience.”

Some experience! But he took her to the sand and puddle, and she ate and drank and expressed satis- faction.

“Is he going to get better?” she asked.

Grundy spread his hands. “I just don't know how bad it is,” he confessed. “I'm hoping that rest is all he needs.”

They returned to the cave, but Snortimer was no better. They sat on the bed and worried. "I promised to help him

search for romance,“ Grundy said dispiritedly. ”What have I brought him?"

“Romance?” she asked, combing her hair with a little silver comb she had with her. As she got her shorn hair in better order, it looked nicer; she was still the prettiest creature he had seen.

“He was lonely, under his bed. He wanted to find a female of his kind before he—well, you know that Bed Monsters usually don't survive after the children on their beds grow up and stop believing.”

“Yes, of course. I was brought up to be rational, so I never had a real monster under my bed. I really missed that. But—”

“Wait,” Grundy said, realizing. “You're not a child now. How is it that Snortimer was able to hide under your bed?”

“It's not age that decides it,” she explained. “It's atti- tude. Most children think it's grown-up not to believe in Bed Monsters, so when they grow up, they don't. But since I didn't have a Bed Monster, I never had the expe- rience of truly believing, and so never grew out of it. You have to experience something fully, before you can leave it behind. So I'm retarded in ways like that; I'm still ready to accept a Bed Monster, and my bed showed it.”

“If you're retarded, I hope you never grow up!” Grundy exclaimed.

“I mean that I haven't had the experience of the real world,” she explained. “I know about it, but I haven't experienced it. So I know a lot about Bed Monsters, but Snortimer is the first I have actually encountered. I'm so sorry he came all this way for nothing.”

“For nothing?” Grundy asked blankly.

“He can't find romance. There is no female of his kind.”

“What?” Grundy asked, appalled.

“Bed Monsters don't breed the way other creatures do. They don't reproduce.



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