Hidden Chapters 21 & 22

Chapter 21

We join Zoey pissing away her morning, worrying. She’s worrying about Grandma and worrying about Aurox. There’s a reason the useless character who frets until their hair falls out are the focus of a story. And it’s not just because you can’t help but imagine them with the voice of piglet. Just because she has the backing of god, doesn’t make Zoey and more useful.

We’re told that Aurox is hiding out in tower number one until later that evening. Is that tower in the school or at the depot, PCK? Because I don’t have time to comb over the extensive maps you’ve drawn of each location and find out. They figure if anyone of the undeadlings saw that Aurox was there and not beaten half to death, they would know he must have switched sides.

We also get a status update on Zoey’s intestines. She confirms that, yes, she’s working up a case of IBS. Does Zoey actually have IBS, PCK? Because that’s really the only thing that would explain her constant whining about her gut. Also, if it doesn’t impact the story, like maybe an emergency shit prevents her from escaping Neferet, then stop talking about it.

We’re reminded that Aphro drinks because she’s doing champagne for breakfast. I remember back when Zoey criticized Heath for drinking. Though that was only because he would get fat. As Aphro isn’t in Zoey’s selection of love interests, she could probably give a shit if Aphro puts on some weight or gets cirrhosis of the liver.

They get on the bus, Zoey whines about Aurox waiting in the tower and we find out it’s there at the depot. Krammy appears and PCK decides now is the best time to drop a paragraph on Krammy’s outfit. Krammy says she has something for Zoey. Krammy says she has to talk to Zoey alone and tells Zoey Stark is controlling when he delays walking off.

Krammy reads her craptstic poem and her voice has power in it. Krammy thinks it’s more of a spell than a prophecy. She hands it over to Zoey who then says she’s scared. Then Zoey comments on Krammy’s shoes which remind her of the Wizard of Oz. Somehow Zoey feels like she’s following the yellow brick road. I don’t know how waiting for dark to go to a hotel is anything like seeking out the advice of a huckster wizard but sure.

Skipping forward, Zoey is shocked when she sees Beavis. She’s evil and talks and laughs evil. They ignore her and Shayling then tells Zoey that Nicole’s aura is almost completely gold and red now while the “brown sandstorm stuff” is almost gone. Because color is the easiest way to tell good from evil, right PCK?

They get to class where Thanatos is and she does more questions and answers. Nothing like an approaching climax further derailed by an irrelevant class. Erik asks who started the stable fire. Thanatos says it was an accident and the undeadlings say this means no one will get in trouble for it.

Damien then volunteers to help out with the stable. Thanatos says that’s very nice of him. Yes, especially since the damage wasn’t that bad. It’s kind of like offering to help someone pick up their books an hour after they dropped them. Thanatos then mentions a charity she found and tasks Dallas and Beavis with setting up the lights and tables for it.

This is all part of a plan to distract the undeadlings. Aphro chimes in saying she should be in charge. Thanatos says she has a different task, to try and get her parents to come to the charity event. Damien asks to come along, gets accepted, then Thanatos asks Zoey about her grandma. Zoey says Grandma isn’t answering her phone but that’s expected for bullshit reasons. Thanatos tells her to focus on her work with the cat house.

There’s some more bullshit where Thanatos then assigns more people tasks. With that setup, Zoey figures they can save Grandma and catch Neferet unawares. At least, Zoey tells us, that was their plan.

Chapter 22

I think what bothers me the most about the auras is that the colors don’t gel with the author’s target message. Through the whole series they do the damnedest to tell us that dark isn’t always evil, overall saying that our normal prejudices are wrong. Yet the evil auras are all “ugly” colors like pea green or sand brown. So you can judge a book by it’s cover when it’s convenient.

Anywho, Aurox is hanging out and relaxing up in the tower. He’s pretty certain that he’s on the right path because he feels so good. He makes a prayer to Nyx and thanks her for giving him the ability to be more than what he was created. Which, if it was true, would violate free will. Though maybe it’s okay to take away Aurox’s free will by stuffing Heath’s soul into him to make sure that, though he has free will, he’s willing to do what Nyx wants.

Now PCK wants to show Aurox experiencing inner turmoil. How best to do that? Maybe subtly weave it throughout the entire narrative using restraint? That wouldn’t leave a lot of room for pop culture references and brand name dropping. Instead, let’s just have Aurox fall asleep and face the soul of Heath inside of him.

Aurox ends up dreaming about fishing and thinking about how weird as he’s never been fishing. Which is incredibly stupid considering he’s been alive for what, a week? That’s like saying he’s never spent a birthday beating a piñata while crying out his step dad’s name with tears streaming down his cheeks. He hasn’t exactly had time.

Of course PCK obliterates any gentle symbolism in favor of the sledgehammer. Aurox looks in the water and sees Heath who talks to him. Heath says Aurox is just getting by on Heath’s “choice” and needs to be watchful if they’re to save Grandma. He warns Aurox to be vigilant and the dream ends. Aurox then begins to pace around nervously now that he’s woken up.

Over to Zoey who’s watching him march around the tower like the worlds worst beefeater. They all meet up and we’re reminded that Thanatos split them up under the pretense they were doing errands. Apparently they’re pretending to study geometry, a subject PCK has made a big deal about Zoey loathing. Though I don’t think Zoey has ever mentioned exactly what she hate about it. I guess we’re just supposed to go with it because there’s a shitty stereotype that girls hate math.

Aurox is pale, so sayeth the aura reader, but just in a general sense. Thanatos then says they need to keep their head for the coming battle. You know, the one that won’t turn out to be an actual battle. Everyone shows up, finally, and they get in position. Of course we have to sit through them going over their positions and they emphasize the part about pretending while acting casual.

And once more over details that mean little to nothing. Kalona will only be able to carry Grandma. Zoey worries about what will happen to Aurox and asks if he can survive a fall. He says it’ll probably work better if he is more the beast which is tougher. That’s good to know because I’d become so invested in the not-Heath who’s only been alive for a week. Him and his many character flaws are endearing.

Aurox then asks what it means to be “coat-tailing” which was the term Heath used in the dream. I ignored it because I figured only an idiot would say that and it wasn’t worth commenting on. PCK wanted to prove my instincts wrong though and decides to tear apart an old saying and smash it back together like a four year old putting their pants on backwards and declaring it to be a whole new bit of clothing.

Zoey explains what she thinks it means and Stark asks who Aurox is “coat-tailing”. Aurox says no one and then does another short recamp of his parting the plan. Then he heads off to his waiting spot. Stark says this night will suck for him. Aprho says that, correction, this life will suck for him. Not if it means he gets to duck out of this series for real this time.

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