Other items were so precious that the children clung to them even as they rowed. Fiona kept a pot of wormy garden dirt pressed between her knees. Millard had striped his face with a handful of bomb-pulverized brick dust, an odd gesture that seemed part mourning ritual. If what they kept and clung to seemed strange, part of me sympathized: it was all they had left of their home. Just because they knew it was lost didn’t mean they knew how to let it go.
Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
‘One… two… three…’ Four hundred Viking voices screamed as one: ‘GO AWAY!’ and added for good measure the Viking War Cry. The Viking War Cry was designed to chill the blood of Viking enemies at the commencement of battle. It is a horrifying, electrifying shriek that begins by mimicking the furious yell of a swooping predator, which then turns into the victim’s scream of pure terror, and ends with a horribly realistic imitation of the death-gurgles as he chokes on his own blood. It is a scary noise at the best of times, but shouted altogether by four hundred barbarians at eight o’clock in the morning it was enough to make the mighty Thor himself drop his hammer and blub like a little baby.
I’m not going to stand here and tell you war is bad or wrong, we shouldn’t do it, and we should work for peace instead, because it would be too easy for people like General Branigan to say I’m naïve, I’m just a kid. To blow me off and act like nothing I say could be important. But if you think about it, I have more right than anyone to talk about what’s going on here, to have an opinion about it. I think if I’m allowed to stand up here and talk at all, then I’m allowed to have an opinion that matters.
“All armies, be they mechanized or mountain guerrilla, have to abide by three basic restrictions: they have to be bred, fed, and led. Bred: you need warm bodies, or else you don’t have an army; fed: once you’ve got that army, they’ve got to be supplied; and led: no matter how decentralized that fighting force is, there has to be someone among them with the authority to say “follow me.” Bred, fed, and led; and none of these restrictions applied to the living dead.”
“That is the nature of human warfare, two sides trying to push the other past its limit of endurance, and no matter how much we like to talk about total war, that limit is always there…unless you’re the living dead.”
“…thing about the army, they always promise to teach you “marketable skills,” but they never mention that, by far, there’s nothing more marketable than knowing how to killsome people while keeping others from being killed.”
“That was the attitude among a lot of the hired guns, the reason I hadn’t fired a shot all night. We’d been paid to protect rich people from zombies, not against other not-so-rich people who just wanted a safe place to hide. You could hear them shouting as they charged in through the front door. Not “grab the booze” or “rape the bitches”; it was “put out the fire!” and “get the women and kids upstairs!””
“We are having rather a difficult time this year. This horrible war is reducing all our stocks, and in so many countries children are living far from their homes. Polar Bear has had a very busy time trying to get our address-lists corrected. I am glad you are still at home!”
“I am so glad you did not forget to write to me again this year. The number of children who keep up with me seems to be getting smaller: I expect it is because of this horrible war, and that when it is over things will improve again, and I shall be as busy as ever. But at present so terribly many people have lost their homes: or have left them; half the world seems in the wrong place.”
“My messengers tell me that people call it “grim” this year. I think they mean miserable: and so it is, I fear, in very many places where I was specially fond of going; but I am very glad to hear that you are still not really miserable. Don’t be! I am still very much alive, and shall come back again soon, as merry as ever.”