Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fear - Chapter 8, Part 1 - Replica

Last time, on Fear!  The Entity, Jim Lowry, got curbstomped by the leader of the others, Tommy Williams.  Tommy stole another batch of Jim's essence, which is not homosexual innuendo but the theft of the motive force that allows Lowry to animate the puppets around him, thereby creating the illusion that he is not the only true human on the planet.  Other than Tommy, evidently.  Anyway, the stakes are high, because if Tommy manages to defeat the Entity, then... well, Lowry would be all alone in a world full of lifeless not-people.  Who would he talk to?  Who would cook his supper?

After his nap beneath a bush, Lowry wakes up at dusk, feeling cold, stiff and somewhat confused - and before you even ask, it isn't the malaria.  If this story started blaming things on some tropical fever it'd be one chapter long and Lowry would spend the whole time in bed.

For a moment he could not recall the events which had passed, and he came to his knees, aware of a thing he must do but not quite able to place it.  This lethargy!  Was it affecting his brain as well?

But no, his brain was all right.  Yes!  Tommy and Mary and the world of the apparent dead!

And what a tremendous amount of good that rest had done him.  Or else- 

His train of thought derails when Lowry sees some people walking by, and quickly realizes that this must mean that Tommy is nearby, motivating them with Lowry's own stolen essence.  And if Lowry can take advantage of that essence, he might have a shot at taking down Tommy.  Y'know, since the last attempt went so well.

So Lowry lurks in the shadows by the street, waiting for his nemesis, wondering whether, if Tommy succeeds in stealing all of Lowry's essence, Lowry himself will march along with all the other puppets as they go through their "make-believe lives."  He spots a man on the corner and goes up to ask him if he knows where Tommy is, but Lowry finds that it is Tommy, mocking smile and sly look in the eye and everything!

Lowry wastes no time and springs into action, leaping toward his foe and - oh.  Uh, he doesn't do that.  Instead he spins around and runs away as fast as he can.  Well.  Guess he can look forward to being a puppet.

He only stops fleeing when he doesn't hear any sign of pursuit, and Lowry turns to sees the man on the corner looking back at him, to the sound of "light, cheerful laughter."  The author doesn't specify whether the man looks like a normal puppet or still has Tommy's face, which I think is a bit of an oversight.

Anyway, Lowry wonders if he should try a different approach, maybe turn the tables by sneaking up on Tommy when he's sneaking.  He inexplicably feels the urge to consult a random stranger about this plan, even though of course such a stranger is merely a puppet motivated by Tommy, which sounds like a bit of a security risk.  Whatever, Lowry walks up to a guy watering his lawn and "It was Tommy!"

And then he runs away again to the sound of "light laughter."  You could say that we have a running gag on our hands.

Lowry forces himself to slow down, and the narration claims that he is "stubbornly refusing to be panicked" despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

There was no use losing his head, for he still had a chance.  Not everyone could be Tommy.

I may have a new favorite line from this book.  "Okay, so two of the people I tried to talk to turned into my best friend/nemesis, but surely not everyone out there will do that."

To maximize his odds, Lowry decides to run up to a woman next, and indeed she doesn't turn into Tommy - she turns into Mary.  For a moment Lowry thinks he'll be able to plead with her now that she's alone, but Mary only looks at him with scorn, turns her back, and walks away.  "It took Lowry some seconds to get over that," poor guy.

Unwilling to admit defeat - at least when it comes to talking to people, Lowry has been quite happy to turn tail and run from his enemies - our hero walks up to a group of students to talk to them about how he's gonna sneak up on his friend and steal his essence back.  But confound it, they all turn into Tommy too!  So Lowry once again bravely runs away.  He sees a woman, Mary of course, sitting nearby, but Lowry is so defeated that he only "pulled his hat ashamedly down over his eyes and slouched by and then-"


When did Lowry get his hat back?

He was hatless just a few hours ago, in the last chapter, when the sexy little four-year-old taunted him about it.  His wife nagged him about leaving home without a hat at the start of the day.  The missing status of Lowry's hat has in fact been a crucial component of this book's, for lack of a better word, plot.  And he can't be wearing his hat now because Lowry will... well, we'll find out soon enough.

So wow.  Hubbard wrote a story about a guy missing his hat and accidentally put it on his head during the search for it.  The one detail it'd be pretty important to keep straight, and whoops!  I guess Lowry's hat was on his head all along!  No wonder he never found it!  No wonder everyone thinks he's crazy!

Tune in next time for the exciting conclusion to I Want My Hat Back.

Back to Chapter 7, part 3


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    1. [Took a moment to figure out italics & then facepalm.]

  2. I Want My Hat Back...But Not Those Four Hours; Those Would Kill Me--or So I've Been Told: Now a minor in-motion hallucination!