The chapter starts with a flashback to Annie's days in Good Hope Hospital. She drops a glass on the floor and it shatters. She apologizes to her mother who, after making sure she didn't cut herself, says that it's okay. "Sometimes things fall and break." The chapter cuts back to the present and a falling Annie thinks "Well... Now I know how the glass felt."
Surprisingly, a flock of TicTocs come and grab her arms, cushioning her fall and saving her from certain death. They drop her in the middle of the Annan waters, and she swims safely to the forest-side shore.
She dries her jumper and lets her eyes get accustomed to the dark. She sees a white light in the distance. As she looks around, she finds a dead TicToc, who must've been fatally wounded during her fall. Upon closer examination, however, she realizes something isn't right about it, and autopsies it with a pair of forceps she was apparently carrying. She discovers the TicToc, and apparently all TicTocs, are mechanical, as there is machinery under their feathers. She thanks the corpse for saving her and moves on.
She is suddenly approached by Shadow 2, who followed her into the chasm. Annie, angry at him, tells him to go away, claiming he did something to Robot and won't let him to the same to her. An unseen voice calls her a big fat meanie. She turns to see two fairies, (Red and Blue). Red yells at Annie, saying "Can't you see he's upset?" The fairies can apparently understand Shadow2's noises, and Red says that it was a different Shadow Person on the bridge with Robot, not Shadow2. Annie is relieved to hear this. Blue urges Red to move on, but Red says "She could help us", to which Blue agrees.
Annie asks what they need. Red says to grab a rock and squish them flat, to which Annie simply walks away in refusal. Red, Blue and Shadow2 follow her. They harangue her to kill them, but Annie angrily asks why they'd want to die in such a way. Red replies that it's for "the test" (and calls Annie a "Dumbotron", to boot). When Annie asks why they don't just take their own lives, Blue says that would be cheating. They give up on her and turn their suicidal pleas to an owl-faced man just ahead. Annie recognizes him as Muut, a psychopomp who carries the dead to the afterlife. She asks if he is here for the bird, but Muut says that they don't deal in electrical appliances. He says he wanted to drop by and see how Annie was doing. He also brings a gift from Mort, who appreciates her help during the events of Chapter 4. He gives her Mort's gift, a luminescent jewel, saying it could help in her current situation, as Muut can do nothing to help her. Annie says she will thank Mort when she gets out. She also asks if the white light on the other shore belongs to "any of you".
Muut only looks gravely at the light, who is in fact a spirit, the Ghost of Annan Waters, and says "Someone beyond even our reach. Be thankful she cannot cross the river." Muut leaves, turning down the suicide fairies' pleads. He mutters "Still such anger.." to himself as he looks at Annie and disappears.
Red asks Annie if she's going to use Mort's gift, which she calls a blinker stone. Blue tells Annie to put it on the ground and imagine a fire. She does so, and what looks and feels like a real fire erupts from the stone.
The chapter cuts to another flashback. Young Annie is cleaning the remains of the glass. "You should not be doing that," Surma says. Annie isists that she should clean it, since she dropped the glass. Surma says "You might hurt yourself" to which Annie replies "I'll be just fine," even as a drop of blood comes out from a cut in her finger. It then cuts back to Annie looking grimly into the distance, reminiscing, surrounded by Shadow2, Red and Blue.
A sleepy Annie asks Red about the test she mentioned. Red says they have to pass it so that they can get new bodies. When Annie asks what's wrong with their current bodies, Red replies that they need new ones so they can go to "the Gunner's Crag". Annie realizes they mean Gunnerkrigg Court and says she's from there, to which Red is shocked (and jerks Blue out of her sleep). Red explains that she and Blue are the only ones left in "their class" who haven't passed the test yet. They ask her about the Court, and Annie wishes she can come back soon.
They fall asleep and the artificial fire dies. The ghost from across the river suddenly appears in front of the sleeping Annie. Annie wakes up and asks how she crossed the river, but is interrupted when the ghost raises the sword she was carrying. The ghost slashes Annie's cheek and starles the fairies. The ghost then lunges at Annie to finish her off when a bright light drowns her out. A familiar voice says "I'll save you, little girl." (The same thing Annie said to Kat in Chapter 6.) Annie looks up to see Kat in a hovercraft. Kat joyfully hugs her, saying she knew Annie was still alive though everyone in the Court had presumed her dead. Annie asks how she got down here, and Kat replies she made her anti-grav unit (see Chapter 5) into a ship with some help from her dad.
She asks Annie if she's alright. Annie feels her cheek and discovers the cut from the ghost's sword is now gone. She says she's fine and bids farewell to Red and Blue. ("Take care of yourselves... or don't... whichever you prefer.") She lets Shadow2 hide in her shoe, grabs her blinker stone, and she and Kat take off. Kat says now she knows how it feels to lose a loved one, and says she never wants to feel like that again. They fly above the school, and see it isn't just a school. Gunnerkrigg Court is a giant industrial complex the size of a city. Kat says that they should find out what the Court really is. Annie falls asleep as they sail away in the sky.
Characters introduced in this chapter
|Gunnerkrigg Court Chapters|
|Volume 1|| |
The Shadow and the Robot • Schoolyard Myths • Reynardine • Not Very Scary • Two Strange Girls • A Handful of Dirt • Of New and Old • Broken Glass and Other Things • Questions and Answers • Doctor Disaster Versus the Creepy Space Aliens from Outer Space • Dobranoc, Gamma• Mainly Involves Robots • A Week for Kat • The Fangs of Summertime
|Extra Comics||Bonus Pages • City Face (comic) • Annie in the Forest • Traveller|