[For the October 15th highlight, click here.]
Most of the players are called into Constable Terence’s office for questioning concerning the missing officer. Meanwhile, Snuff continues his fitful quest to drag the murder victim’s body toward the Thames (“He kept catching on brambles and getting knotted up in fallen branches and stuck between hillocks. He may have lost a few pieces in that area but I was too tired to look.”). The effort is exhausting for Snuff, but he’s still faring a lot better than Quicklime. Snuff comes across the snake lying in the road, paying the price for his master Rastov’s revelry the previous evening: “The master was sick right here,” Quicklime explains. “I took advantage and got out. I want to die.” Rastov sometimes keeps his familiar contained within his stomach, and all that alcohol he consumed the night before has left Quicklime with a killer hangover. Zelazny’s allusion here is to the mithridatism of Rasputin–the mad Russian monk’s alleged practice of deliberately consuming small doses of snake poison so as to build up a tolerance against assassination attempts by such means. As if populating his novel with talking “animals” weren’t fantastic enough, Zelazny also thrusts these unusual characters into wonderfully outré situations. I raise my glass here to Quicklime’s contact high, the highlight of the October 16th chapter.