The Supernaturalist, Chap. 8: But Wait, There’s More!

This is the one. The one we’ve been waiting for since Cosmo first escaped the orphanage and joined the Supernaturalists. After all the twists and turns in this adventure so far, it’s all about to come to a head. The gang has located the Parasites’ nest, and it just happens to be in the basement of Clarissa Frayne, the place that Cosmo spent most of his life trying to get away from. He does consider, briefly, not returning with Stefan to plant the EMP, but the thought doesn’t last long. After almost floating off through space for all eternity, he’s unquestionably one of the group now, no longer an outsider.

The two get inside Clarissa Frayne easily enough, and sneak down to the basement with no problem. For once, things are going their way. However, the tracking beads in Cosmo’s skin haven’t entirely shorted out, and his faint pattern alerts our favorite marshal, Redwood, that someone’s sneaking around. Someone who’s supposed to be dead, and who Redwood would love to catch. After the crash in the first chapter, he was demoted to security guard, which sees him watching CCTV for most of the day, alongside his idiot coworker.

We don’t know too much about Redwood, but we know that he’s not dumb, and is pretty sadistic. We also know that he’s probably married, as he mentions someone named “Agnes” a few times. Even though we don’t know anything about her, it’s probably a fair guess to say that he’s not as cruel to his wife as he is to the orphans. Redwood’s not a particularly deep character — really, just a one-shot villain, but I’ve suddenly found myself more intrigued by him than ever before, and it was this line that piqued my curiosity:

He needed to get back on the streets, where he had some real power.

By “the streets”, he means becoming a floor marshal again, and dealing with the orphans directly. It’s already been established that Redwood doesn’t think of the orphans as people, which isn’t all that surprising. My question is just why Redwood is so sadistic. I figure that he’s a monster to the orphans because they can’t fight back, at least, not without serious repercussions. He’s cowardly in that regard, no matter how tough and frightening he thinks he is. I just want to know why he’s wired this way, we he won’t pick on someone his own size. What does he get out of tormenting these orphans?

It’s a pretty pointless question to ask, especially at this point in the book. Like I just said, Redwood is a one-shot villain, whose point in the story is to menace Cosmo. That’s really all we need to know about him.

The mission is going smoothly, unlike every other mission prior, that something has to happen. From the three paragraphs I’ve just dedicated to Redwood, it won’t be any surprise when I tell you that, yep, Redwood shows up right after Cosmo and Stefan plant the EMP. The sleeping Parasites wake up when Redwood attempts to take Cosmo hostage, and ends up painfully smacking the butt of a lightning rod into him.There are thousands of them, and Stefan is left with no choice but to detonate the EMP, knocking out all the Parasites, and Redwood, for that matter. This is such a great scene: a massive amount of Parasites just got wiped out Redwood gets his comeuppance, and the power surge shorted out the tracking beads on the orphans, so they can escape from Clarissa Frayne without being traced. Cosmo and Stefan know that the EMP works, and they can finally do some real damage.

‘Time to go,’ said Cosmo. ‘Now or never.’

‘Now,’ decided the diminutive Fence, leading the no-sponsors into the night, like a modern-day Pied Piper.

Seeing the orphans escape, an effective way to fight the Parasites, and a bully getting what’s coming to him. There’s still some loose ends to tie up, but finally the characters – and the reader – can breathe easy and relax. There’s just one problem: that’s not the end of the book. It’s not even the end of the chapter.

Cosmo and Stefan aren’t able to savor their hard-won victory for long. That’s what kills me about this chapter. Just as soon as something goes right, and they finally getting the break they deserve, they get thrown through another loop, and then another. Three loops, in fact.

With books set in the not-too-distant future, characters usually gizmos which, at the time the book comes out, seem really cool and top of the line. However, after enough time goes by, real life technology is going to surpass whatever neat gadgets those characters have. Mona’s phone is a perfect example of this:

Mona’s phone was a pretty old one, without much in the way of technology. But it did have picture capabilities. Sixty seconds of video or a hundred stills.

The Supernaturalist came out in 2004, when cell phones were becoming more widespread. Reading this when I was fifteen, I would’ve been over the moon to have a Trak Phone, never mind one that can take pictures and video. Now, pictures and video come standard on even the simplest cell phones, and let me tell you — the phone I had in 2007 could take more than 60 seconds of video in one sitting. Saying that Mona’s phone was cheap let Colfer get away with it for a bit longer, but not in 2015. Funny, the small things that wear on my suspense of disbelief.

Mona uses her sub-par phone to capture a video of what appears to be Ditto helping a weakened Parasite, and then all hell breaks loose. Here’s Loop #1: Ditto is in league with the Parasites. Confronting him about this, Stefan suddenly falls through Loop #2: that Parasites take pain only, not life force.

This was another part where fifteen-year-old me wanted to throw the book down, because if it was true, then it was completely mind-blowing. The only reason I didn’t take a couple days off the book then was because I needed to see what happened next, which takes us to Loop #3.

Instead of having the happy ending they deserve, all four of them are captured by Myishi paralegals, and Colfer delivers another throw-away line that I would read an entire book about:

Abracadabra Street was no great challenge for a squadron that had broken into several foreign banks, two crime lords’ strongholds, and a private kindergarten.

Colfer, please make your next book all about high-tech brutes breaking into a kindergarten. Why a kindergarten? These are things I need to know.

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