Roxy: Open to random page.

"i think you were supposed to just tackle him," beatrix said looking all kinds of put off.

wizardy herbert reached down to the body of the fictional camper he just shot and picked up the flag. "same difference."

"IS it?"

"this is some lame magical version of capture the flag. the book wanted me to capture the flag from him. the flag has now been captured. anyway, hes just a kind of brainless puppet."

"then what are we?" she asked.

"i dunno. brainless puppets whove spent a few years in the real world. kind of like everyone else, i suppose."

"jeez thats cynical. anyway, youre the one who said we should let the story play out the way its supposed to. im just pointing out your own rules."

"ehhh." herbert made a dismissive gesture with his smoking gun. "these punks were starting to get on my nerves. we're making progress anyway. see? listen to that. russets scene is coming up. if i remember right this is the one that introduces his recurring love interest. also i guess the chief bad guy. i mean, sorta."

she listened. there was yelling through the woods. it was coming closer.

"help! herb! bea! where are you?!"

"herbert - OW - will you do something? OWW! sunuva. this cant be right!"

herbert aimed carefully with his beretta at the head of russets assailant. he was way serious and stone cold about it. he was not going to miss.


he missed. beatrix was grabbing his arm redirecting his aim. "herbert you have to stop!"

"why beatrix" he said with a super sly smile. "if i didnt know better, id say you were taking some enjoyment from watchin your dear pal russets smackdown."

"what? no!" she didnt let go of his arm. but he wouldnt quit his douchey smile. she went on. "you cant just keep offing fictional characters. its... i dunno. irresponsible."

"yeah yeah."

"besides you know the scene is supposed to play out like this. russet is supposed to get rescued. how is he supposed to get rescued if the bullies are dead? you cant just go around changing things."

"i guess youre right."

herbert holstered his gun admiring a few more choice sucker punches to russets midriff. OOF. that onell leave a mark. beatrix regained her calm. "so whos this guy thats supposed to save him?" she asked. "you say hes the villain?"

"here he comes now."

beatrix squinted at the serpenook boy. she didnt know why she couldnt see it coming. "grant??"

"a favor?" russet said. but he was barely listening. the resemblance to his real life friend was uncanny. he was sure it was him. but here in this dumb prison he was no more than a soulless mannequin dreamt up to recite insipid horseshit.

actually he said it like a zombie. "never. ill never betray my friends."

"russet" he whispered.

the guy paused to remove his glasses and polished them on his sash. it came off as a seriously dramatic gesture, just as intended and also as explicitly stated in the text.

> Roxy: Jump ahead a little.