After the breakneck pace of Stevie’s death, PCK decides to slow things down and let us catch our breath. We begin with a dream sequence which is the laziest and dullest way to start things. Dream sequences are both overdone and, too often, badly done. What’s worse is that you just know we’ll be forced to sit through Zoey telling her friends all about the contents and how they react in amazement that she didn’t die because dreams are actually dangerous or something.
And look, PCK and Chris, I understand why you turn to dream sequences. It’s the one time you can start going a little wild because dreams don’t have to obey anyone’s logic. The problem is that half the time they’re dull, exposing you as less than imaginative, and the other half they’re just prophetic which is just spoiling your own work. Neither of which serve to do anything but pad the plot and bore the reader.
It was snowing in my dream. At first I thought that was cool. I mean, it really was beautiful … it made the world look Disney-like and perfect, as if nothing bad could happen, or if it did it was only temporary, because everyone knows Disney is all about happily ever after .. .
Take that Disney. Allow me to gripe about this sniping at purveyors of family friendly and children’s entertainment. I get sick of angsty kids and adults taking pot shots at them because none of the characters die of unrequited love and/or a heroin overdose. Yes, people like happy endings. Probably because their lives don’t actually have a lot of them and not because they’re deluded sheeple. On the upside, that’s exactly the kind of attitude I expect from Zoey who seems to have just discovered the font of cynicism and wants to trumpet it loudly.
Zoey is walking slowly as happens in dreams though it doesn’t seem to be inexorable. She’s just sort of shambling along like an idiot in her dream, while it’s snowing. Her dreams are just as dull as she is, it seems. She spots a wall and it gets its own paragraph.
The east wall.
I didn’t say it was a long paragraph but it does get its own indent and everything. And what the hell does it matter that it’s the east wall? Is this supposed to be set during the seventies in Eastern Germany? Are there hundreds of Soviet guards standing around, demanding to see everyone’s papers as Zoey approaches? Look, PCK, there’s no reason the east wall in particular should hold any terror for Zoey. Sure she saw the dead girl after she hopped down from it but she actually encountered Elliott and saw he was real in the middle of the courtyard.
Zoey can see some cloaked and hooded figures hanging out. Once of them is Stevie but she’s pale and thin and looks wrong. You mean like a super model? Stevie says they shouldn’t be there and should leave and the “Elliott creature” hisses at Stevie that she’s not in charge “of ussss”. Because lower tier bad guys all have speech impediments. Stevie counters that because earth obeys her that “she” said she was in charge. Then a wild Heath appears and PCK reminds us he’s from Oklahoma.
“Hey, do y’all know Zoey Redbird? I need to tell her I’m here and—”
The four undead rush at him because he’s stupid, fleshy and won’t stop talking about Zoey. So they start dragging him towards the trapdoor. Elliott says “she” said no more but Stevie says that he’s seen them and can’t be allowed to run around. Look, PCK, we already know Neferet’s in charge of the undeadlings. You don’t have to play coy with us anymore. Heath screams as they drag him underground and then Zoey wakes up.
I sat bolt upright in bed, breathing hard, sweating and trembling. Nala grumbled. I looked around the room and felt momentarily panicked. I was alone! Had I just dreamed everything that had happened yesterday? I looked at Stevie Rae’s empty bed, and at the lack of any of her stuff around the room. No. I hadn’t dreamed it. My best friend was dead. I let the weight of the sadness settle into me, and knew I’d be carrying it around for a very long time.
PCK suffers from the same problem that afflicts Chris in that so much of their characters come across like machines trying to wear human faces. ‘I was sad and so I felt emotions that were brought upon by sadness. I would probably be sad for awhile as the research indicates grief of a close friend is expected to last, on average, two point six years. Commencing grief expression protocol.’
Zoey wonders why all her friends are gone. Probably because they couldn’t stand the sight of you or because your ego forced them out of the room. She sees she’s slept late and then looks outside, assuring us Stevie would have loved it. Then Shaunee cracks open the door, tentatively for some reason, and asks if Zoey’s awake. She tells Shaunee that she’ll be down soon and then lets her “happy façade” go. Because there’s no in between. It’s either gnashing teeth, tearing hair and wailing for days or wiring your jaw into a smile and singing show tunes.
So everyone downstairs is watching the Mummy Returns and being much too quiet. Zoey greets everyone and they return the favor cheerfully. She rolls her eyes, because she’s a snot, and plops down next to Erik. She feels good and guilty when Erik puts his arm around her because he’s hot and what she did with Heath. Then they start talking about watching a marathon of Star Wars and being geeks and blah blah blah I can’t hear you over the grinding of my teeth, PCK. I can safely say they’re not hardcore fans of the series because they’re watching the DVDs and we all know those are the edits where Lucas shoehorned in crap from the prequels.
Then Erik brings everyone down by saying he wishes Stevie was there. This makes everyone talk about her like she’s been dead for years rather than ten hours or so. Then some random guy that Zoey claims was looking at Stevie asks if he can sit with them and doesn’t mind watching Star Wars. Someone offers to make popcorn, because doing this beforehand would have taken planning, Zoey says she’ll do it and get something to drink. They all say “brown pop” together like it was a question. It’s supposed to be funny but it just comes across like Zoey punished one of them for bringing her a clear citrus soda. It was probably Stevie, who’s sentence was to be whipped one hundred times in the school courtyard while calling out “brown pop” every time Zoey asked what she was to bring.
Zoey goes into make popcorn and thinks everything will be alright. Then she wonders if she should cast a circle and ask Nyx for help on the “gross Elliott issue”. Because it’s his fault that there are undeadlings running around the place and not Neferet’s. Then Erik yells for Zoey to come back because it’s the news and she’d better come see this. Gee, could it be that grandma finally won the lottery? Perhaps a news anchor is reading a press release about the planned charity work of the vampires?
Of course not, this is PlotNews we’re talking about. And this update is, of course, merely confirming that Zoey is in possession of psychic dreams. How did they end up on the news anyway? They were just watching a movie which means they were either on a channel that shows movies or they were watching a DVD. Modern TV’s don’t default to a local channel once you stop a DVD player, opting instead for a blank, usually blue, screen.
You know how this would have made more sense? Have Damien get the news via an alert sent to his phone. He’s already been played up to be a gadget/tech guy so it would make sense. He could have set up alerts for missing teens in Oklahoma to come to his inbox because he felt something was up. Then he could have interrupted them while the opening title crawl of A New Hope starts, ruining Zoey’s positive outlook and setting up the next chapter. Plus then these look like actual teens who aren’t scared of using the internet and only get their news from “that nice young man on television”.
The anchor says that Heath’s truck was found outside of the vampire school but Neferet says that he didn’t enter the school grounds. Erik comforts Zoey and helps her to the love seat because there’s no better time to make his move. Now that her human suitor is out of the way it should be smooth sailing for him. Then, perhaps one of the most improbable scenes in the entire series thus far happens.
“Someone get me a bowl, I’m gonna be sick!” I managed to yell over the humming in my head. A bowl was thrust into my hands and I promptly puked my guts into it.
What? A bowl? You sure you don’t want a trashcan, Zoey? And since when is Zoey a roman emperor? ‘Someone fetch me a fan, I am feeling warm. Also, tell the slaves not to jostle my sedan chair so unless they wish to be covered in secondhand caviar and wine.’ And that’s where PCK chooses put the cliffhanger, with Zoey vomiting into a bowl. This is why she gets paid the medium bucks.