Chapter Four – The Second Sleeper
Chapter four opens with Crusoe warning everyone to be very careful, because apparently they’re going to be right next to the Temple of the Sanhedrin. They spent a week preparing for the journey, and everyone except Volka is on a horse, and each one of them is leading a packhorse, which means that this group of travelers has access to nine horses. How they came by them is never explained, but the number is important.
There’s a bit of description about how all the trees have been “twisted into strange shapes by some unbelievable force” (page 47). I suppose this could have been a reference to the nuclear bombs, although if a nuke went off, I rather think it would kill the trees, instead of just twisting them into weird shapes.
They travel through the woods and eventually stop to make camp. Morris, apparently, thinks that all of his readers have suffered brain damage (which, considering that to get this far we’ve already had to read three chapters, is likely), and introduces the next segment as such:
“It was then that Josh made a serious error” (page 47).
Josh goes to collect firewood, and sees something that looks like a deer. He wants to bring home some game, so he whips out his bow, “cocks” an arrow (I thought you cocked a gun and nocked or strung an arrow, but apparently not), and shoots it. And immediately it starts screaming. In English. He bolts back to camp, where Crusoe yells at him for making noise, and helpfully explains that it’s a look-out hart, which the Sanhedrin use as an alarm system.
Which makes me ask, not for the last time, what is wrong with these people?
The previous chapter was a month-long training montage, and Crusoe was very explicit in the fact that Josh needed to learn how to survive in this harsh and unforgiving new world. Considering that they are right next to the Temple of the Sanhedrin and Crusoe obviously knows about the alarm system, why the hell didn’t Crusoe tell Josh about the harts?
They hastily begin saddling the horses to flee the area, and then suddenly Josh realizes that they’re completely surrounded. The people around them are tall and menacing and the air grows cold and there’s an obvious sense of Evil. Which means two things: one, the Sanhedrin reached this spot in the middle of the woods roughly 45 seconds after the alarm went off, so either they just happened to be walking past, or they have teleportation devices. Two, the Sanhedrin are Nazgul.
One of the Sanhedrin introduces himself as Elmas, the Chief Interrogator of the Sanhedrin, which makes me wonder why he’s traipsing around the countryside with his minions. He asks them why they’ve chosen to forfeit their lives by entering the Forbidden Land. Crusoe immediately falls to the ground and starts crying and wailing about how they were trying to avoid this place and are lost and are just poor folk trying to get somewhere….poor folk who own nine horses.
Elmas turns to Josh and immediately notes that he doesn’t look like a Nuworlder. I guess the silo didn’t have disguises. Josh stands there for a moment, and then suddenly he hears a voice come out of nowhere telling him to be a half-wit. This voice is going to make a lot of appearances at crucial times throughout the series, so get used to it. Josh falls down, starts frothing at the mouth and screaming nonsense.
Elmas falls for it, which means he’s a pretty lousy Interrogator. But he tells them that they will appear at the Tower of Truth tomorrow for Questioning. And he touches Crusoe in the forehead and Crusoe falls to the ground. Even though Crusoe was already lying on the ground. And then he leaves.
They get back on their horses and take off, riding for hours. After awhile they stop to rest and Crusoe asks Josh how he everthought of acting crazy. Because that was a stroke of genius and if he hadn’t done it, they were all screwed. Aww, isn’t Josh Speshul?
When morning rolls around, the dwarves get out some rope and tie Crusoe to a tree. Crusoe tells Josh it might be a good idea to go away, because Elmas told him to go to the Tower of Truth…and he’ll have to go, if he can.
This means that Elmas can safely be categorized under “Incompetent Dark Lord”, since it would have been perfectly easy to just take them all to the Tower back when he had them surrounded.
Then there’s a scene where Crusoe tries to convince them that he’s alright now…and then starts cursing and screaming and blaspheming and twitching wildly around. It’s very reminiscent of the scene with Prince Rilian in The Silver Chair, except Lewis writes this scene about a thousand times better.
Finally it’s over and Josh cuts Crusoe loose. There’s hugs all around, and they start discussing where they are. Crusoe reveals that actually, this spot that they’re currently at is the spot indicated on the map for the Second Sleeper. Well, that’s convenient. I do wonder how Crusoe knows this land so well, considering that the map isn’t any good, but maybe it’s best not to question his logic too much.
Josh sings the song again, which indicates the Sleeper is in the belly of the whale. They split up and search for hours, and finally find a giant steel tower that sticks out of the sand twelve feet. Because that’s really hard to miss. They dig around for a bit and find another spot that says U.S.S. Narwhale. So Volka picks everyone up and sets them on the top of the tower, and they immediately find that they cannot open the steel hatch. They struggle with it for a bit, and start to argue, when suddenly Josh strains to hear a far-off voice. People hear voices once or twice a chapter in these books, and no one seems to think it’s weird.
Josh says that he remembers something his mother wrote in his journal, about solving a problem, just by speaking to it. And he thinks that might work here. Because submarine hatches are voice-activated. Grumpy tells him that he’s an idiot, but, armed with the power of his mother’s Deus Ex Machina journal, Josh starts to sing. And…the hatch opens. Of course.
They go down inside, find the coffin, and….Josh presses the button.
Chapter Five – Trust the Heart
The Sleeper is Sarah. Show of hands – who was surprised?
Josh is. He’s also disappointed, because he was hoping that the Sleeper is going to be a strong leader. See, this is Josh’s big conflict which will last for the entire book. He keeps on wanting the Sleeper to be some sort of leader and no one else is capable of doing the job, for whatever reason, and eventually Josh will realize that HE has to step up to the plate and lead their group. See, he’s a Reluctant Hero. And Sarah is his Designated Love Interest, so she needs to be found second.
Sarah wakes up, sees Grumpy, Happy, and Crusoe staring at her, screams, and leaps into Josh’s arms. This makes Josh feel extremely masculine, so he starts ordering everyone else around and acting like he’s in charge, carrying Sarah up to the hatch and barking commands. Happy, of course, starts saluting him and calling him sir. They reach the top and Josh – who, according to the narrative, feels “a great deal like some romantic sea captain” (page 56), throws Sarah off the side of the tower. Where Volka, the giant, catches her. Without warning her beforehand.
This is the leader of the Seven Sleepers, who will restore peace and happiness to the land.
Sarah begins screaming like a banshee. Morris even mentions here that if any of the Sanhedrin were within two miles, they’d have heard her. Which, since there seems to be Sanhedrin everywhere on this planet, and since Sarah was at least as loud as the Alarm System Deer, makes me wonder why they don’t hear her.
As soon as they get under cover, Sarah begins giving Josh a piece of her mind, until Crusoe interrupts and asks if she’ll take a short walk. Sarah agrees and they take off while Josh stews and calls her a stuck-up snob. Which I can totally relate to, because only snobs have a problem with being thrown off buildings.
While Crusoe and Sarah talk about life, the others make dinner. You’d think they should vacate the area, because the Sanhedrin might be coming to investigate the screams, but no. Instead they build a fire, and cook dinner. Recall that they’re out in the wild. And they have steaks. And potatoes. And bread. With butter. Lots of butter.
Crusoe manages to convince Sarah that she was in the wrong, because when she returns she apologizes to Josh for acting “rotten” and begs him to forgive her. Because it’s rude to yell at someone, even if they did throw you off a building. Josh says okay and doesn’t bother apologizing. I get the feeling that since Josh is both our Hero and the Leader, he’s always Right. Therefore, if anyone disagrees with him, they’re Wrong. Let’s see if this holds up, shall we?
Apparently, during their little talk, Crusoe also explained to Sarah that her parents were dead, all her friends were dead, and the world as she knew it no longer existed – and Sarah is completely fine with all of that, because she does not even mention her parents or feel any sorrow for them, at all. I wonder if she’s a sociopath. Josh also doesn’t even think of the fact that she might feel sad about them, which makes me wonder if Josh is a sociopath as well.
They spend the next three weeks traveling, and Josh starts making more decisions. Like whether to go forward or to camp. Because he’s the Leader. And then one day Crusoe announces that their food is gone. Maybe you should have packed craminstead of steaks and butter, it would have lasted longer. But they should be at the location of the third Sleeper that day. And then he notices there’s something wrong with Sarah, and asks what’s wrong. She doesn’t want to say, but Josh reassures her:
I think we’ve come far enough to tell each other anything,” Josh said (page 58).
Location-wise? Because so far, I haven’t seen any character development. Maybe this is because Morris skips over that stuff. But Sarah explains that the previous night a man came into camp while they were all asleep. And she wasn’t afraid at all. Because she had a Feeling that he was Safe. And he told her to trust her heart, and that soon she would know his name. And then he vanished. And she didn’t bother waking anyone else up – I guess because they haven’t bothered to explain what might be dangerous in this land to her, either.
Everyone believes her, of course, even Grumpy, who makes a show of disbelief, but then winks and pinches Sarah on the arm, which doesn’t sound creepy, at all.
They begin looking for the spot where the next Sleeper is, and search for hours and find nothing. Finally they’re about to give up, and Sarah suddenly has a thought. She explains that maybe the guy she saw that night was speaking literally about trusting her heart. Because when she woke up she had a golden heart-shaped locket on a chain around her neck. Which she didn’t bother telling anyone before. And awhile ago, while they were searching, she noticed that the heart was glowing. And as they were walking back to their horses, it got duller and duller. Crusoe says that maybe an inventor could make it sensitive to the metal in the capsules. Yes, and maybe it’s just a Helpful Plot Device, like the songs, the map, and the journal, designed to keep our heroes from actually having to use their brains to solve their problems.
They head back towards the spot Sarah mentioned, and the heart starts getting brighter. Josh asks Sarah to tell him when she discovers the name of the man she saw, and the chapter ends.