It

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I'm still Bill Denbrough. You killed my brother and you killed Stan the Man you tried to kill Mike. And I'm going to tell you something: this time I'm not going to stop until the job's done


-the Turtle was stupid, too stupid to lie. he told you the truth, Little Buddy... the time only comes around once, you hurt me... you surprised me. never again. I am the one who called you back. I.


You called, all right, but You weren't the only one


-your friend the Turtle... he died a few years ago. the old idiot puked inside his shell and choked to death on a galaxy or two. very sad, don't you think? but also quite bizarre, deserves a place in Ripley's Believe It or Not, that's what I think, happened right around the same time you had that writer's block, you must have felt him go, Little Buddy


I don't believe that, either


-oh you'll believe... you'll see. this time, Little Buddy, I intend you to see everything, including the deadlights


He sensed Its voice rising, buzzing and racketing-at last he sensed the full extent of Its fury, and he was terrified. He reached for the tongue of Its mind, concentrating, trying desperately to recapture the full extent of that childish belief, understanding at the same time that there was a deadly truth in what It had said: last time It had been unprepared. This time... well, even if It had not been the only one to call them, It sure had been waiting.


But still-


He felt his own fury, clean and singing, as his eyes fixed on Its eyes. He sensed Its old scars, sensed that It had truly been hurt, and that It was still hurt.


And as It threw him, as he felt his mind swatted out of his body, he concentrated all of his being on seizing Its tongue... and missed his grip.


4


RICHIE


The other four watched, paralyzed. It was an exact replay of what had happened before-at first. The Spider, which seemed about to seize Bill and gobble him up, grew suddenly still. Bill's eyes locked with Its ruby ones. There was a sense of contact... a contact just beyond their ability to divine. But they felt the struggle, the clash of wills.


Then Richie glanced up into the new web, and saw the first difference.


There were bodies there, some half-eaten and half-rotted, and that was the same... but high up, in one corner, was another body, and Richie was sure this one was still fresh, possibly even still alive. Beverly had not looked up-her eyes were fixed on Bill and the Spider-but even in his terror, Richie saw the resemblance between Beverly and the woman in the web. Her hair was long and red. Her eyes were open but glassy and unmoving. A line of spittle had run from the left corner of her mouth down to her chin. She had been attached to one of the web's main cables by a gossamer harness that went around her waist and under both arms so that she lolled forward in a half-bow, arms and legs dangling limply. Her feet were bare.


Richie saw another body crumpled at the foot of her web, a man he had never seen before... and yet his mind registered an almost subconscious resemblance to the late unlamented Henry Bowers. Blood had run from both of the stranger's eyes and caked in a foam around his mouth and on his chin He-


Then Beverly was screaming. "something's wrong! Something's gone wrong, do something, for Christ's sake won't somebody DO something-


Richie's gaze snapped back to Bill and the Spider... and he sensed / heard monstrous laughter. Bill's face was stretching in some subtle way. His skin had gone parchment-sallow, as shiny as the skin of a very old person. His eyes were rolled up to the whites.


Oh Bill, where are you?


As Richie watched, blood suddenly burst from Bill's nose in a foam. His mouth was writhing, trying to scream... and now the Spider was advancing on him again. It was turning, presenting Its stinger.


It means to kill him... kill his body, anyway... while his mind is somewhere else. It means to shut him out forever. It's winning... Bill, where are you? For Christ's sake, where are you?


And somewhere, faintly, from some unimaginable distance, he heard Bill scream... and the words, although meaningless, were crystal-clear and full of sickening


(the Turtle is dead oh God the Turtle really is dead)


despair.


Bev shrieked again and put her hands to her ears as if to shut out that fading voice. The Spider's stinger rose and Richie bolted at It, a grin spreading up toward his ears, and he called out in his best Irish Cop's Voice:


"Here, here, me foine girl! Just what in the hell do ye think ye're doin? Belay that guff before I snatch yer pettiskirts and snap yer smithyriddles!"


The Spider stopped laughing, and Richie felt a rising howl of anger and pain inside Its head. Hurt It! he thought triumphantly. Hurt It, how about that, hurt It, and guess what? I've GOT ITS TONGUE! I THINK BILL MISSED IT SOMEHOW BUT WHILE IT WAS DISTRACTED I GOT-


Then, screaming at him, Its cries a hive of furious bees in his head, Richie was whacked out of himself and into darkness, dimly aware that It was trying to shake him loose. It was doing a pretty good job, too. Terror washed through him, and then was replaced by a sense of cosmic absurdity. He remembered Beverly with his Duncan yo-yo, showing him how to make it sleep, walk the dog, go around the world. And now here he was, Richie the Human Yo-Yo, and Its tongue was the string. Here he was, and this wasn't called walking the dog but maybe walking the Spider, and if that wasn't funny, what was?


Richie laughed. It wasn't polite to laugh with your mouth full, of course, but he doubted if anybody out here read Miss Manners.


That got him laughing again, and he bit in harder.


The Spider screamed and shook him furiously, howling Its anger at being surprised again-It had believed only the writer would challenge It, and now this man who was laughing like a crazy boy had seized It when It was least prepared.


Richie felt himself slipping.


-hold eet a secon, senhorrita, we ees gain out here together or I ain gonna sell you no tickets in la loteria after all, and every one is a big winner, I swear on my mamma's name


He felt his teeth catch again, more firmly this time. And there was a fainting sort of pain as It drove Its fangs into his own tongue. Boy, it was still pretty funny, though. Even in the dark, being hurled after Bill with only the tongue of this unspeakable monster left to connect him to his own world, even with the pain of Its poisonous fangs suffusing his mind like a red fog, it was pretty goddamned funny. Check it out, folks. You'll believe a disc jockey can fly.


He was flying, all right.


Richie was in greater darkness than he had ever known, than he had ever suspected might exist, travelling at what felt like the speed of light, and being shaken as a terrier shakes a rat. He sensed that there was something up ahead, some titanic corpse. The Turtle he had heard Bill lamenting in his fading voice? Must be. It was only a shell, a dead husk. Then he was past, rushing on into the darkness.


Really steaming now, he thought, and felt that wild urge to cackle again.


bill! bill, can you hear me?


-he's gone, he's in the deadlights, let me go! LET ME GO!


(richie?)


Incredibly distant; incredibly far out in the black.


bill! bill! here I am! catch hold! for God's sake catch hold


-he's dead, you're all dead, you're too old, don't you understand that? now let


me GO!


hey bitch, you're never too old to rock and roll


-LET ME GO!


take me to him and maybe I will


Richie


-closer, he was closer now, thank God-


here I come, Big Bill! Richie to the rescue! Gonna save your old cracked ass! Owe you one from that day on Neibolt Street, remember?


-let me GOOOO!


It was hurting badly now, and Richie understood how completely he had caught It by surprise-It had believed It had only Bill to deal with. Well, good. Good "miff. Richie didn't care about killing It right now; he was no longer sure It could be killed. But Bill could be killed, and Richie sensed that Bill's time was now very, very short. Bill was closing in on some large nasty surprise out here, something best not thought about.


Richie, no! Go back! It's the edge of everything up here! The deadlights!


souns like what you turn on when you drivinn you hearse at midnie, senhorr... and where is you, honey chile? smile, so I can see where you is!


And suddenly Bill was there, skidding along on


(the left? right? there was no direction here)


one side or the other. And beyond him, coming up fast, Richie could see/sense something that finally dried up his laughter. It was a barrier, something of a strange, non-geometrical shape that his mind could not grasp. Instead his mind translated it as best it could, as it had translated the shape of It into a Spider, allowing Richie to think of it as a colossal gray wall made of fossilized wooden stakes. These stakes went forever up and forever down, like the bars of a cage. And from between them shone a great blind light. It glared and moved, smiled and snarled. The light was alive.


(deadlights)


More than alive: it was full of a force-magnetism, gravity, perhaps something else. Richie felt himself lifted and dropped, swirled and pulled, as if he were shooting a fast throat of rapids in an innertube. He could feel the light moving eagerly over his face... and the light was thinking.


This is It, this is It, the rest of It.


-let me go, you promised to let me GO


I know but sometimes, honeychile, I lie-my mamma she beat me fo it but my daddy, he done just about give up


He sensed Bill tumbling and flailing toward one of the gaps in the wall, sensed evil fingers of light reaching for him, and with a final despairing effort, he reached for his friend.


Bill! Your hand! Give me your hand! YOUR HAND, GODDAMMIT" YOUR HAND!


Bill's hand shot out, the fingers opening and closing, that living fire crawling and twisting over Audra's wedding ring in runic, Moorish patterns-wheels, crescents, stars, swastikas, linked circles that grew into rolling chains. Bill's face was overlaid with the same light, making him look tattooed. Richie stretched out as far as he could, hearing It scream and yammer.


(I missed him, oh dear God I missed he's going to shoot through)


Then Bill's fingers closed over Richie's, and Richie clenched his hand into a fist. Bill's legs flew through one of the gaps in the frozen wood, and for one mad moment Richie realized he could see all the bones and veins and capillaries inside them, as if Bill had shot halfway into the maw of the world's strongest X-ray machine. Richie felt the muscles in his arm stretch like taffy, felt the ball-and-socket joint in his shoulder creak and groan in protest as the footpounds of pressure built up.


He summoned all of his force and shouted: "Pull us back! Pull us back or I'll kill you! I... I'll Voice you to death!"


The Spider screeched again, and Richie suddenly felt a great, snapping whiplash curl through his body. His arm was a white-hot bar of agony. His grip on Bill's hand began to slip.


"Hold on, Big Bill!"


"I got you! Richie, I got you!"


You better, Richie thought grimly, because I think you could walk ten billion miles out here and never find a fucking pay toilet.


They whistled back, that crazy light fading, becoming a series of brilliant pinpoints that finally winked out. They drove through the darkness like torpedoes, Richie gripping Its tongue with his teeth and Bill's wrist with one aching hand. There was the Turtle; there and gone in a single eyeblink.


Richie sensed them drawing closer to whatever passed for the real world (although he believed he would never think of it as exactly "real" again; he would see it as a clever canvas scene underlaid with a crisscrossing of support-cables... cables like the strands of a spiderweb). But we're going to be all right, he thought. We're going to get back. We -


The buffeting began then-the whipping, slamming, side-to-side flailing as It tried one final time to shake them off and leave them Outside. And Richie felt his grip slipping. He heard Its guttural roar of triumph and concentrated his being on holding... but he continued to slip. He bit down frantically, but Its tongue seemed to be losing substance and reality; it seemed to be becoming gossamer.


"Help!" Richie screamed. "I'm losing it! Help! Somebody help us!"


5


EDDIE


Eddie was half-aware of what was happening; he felt it somehow, saw it somehow, but as if through a gauzy curtain. Somewhere, Bill and Richie were struggling to come back. Their bodies were here, but the rest of them-the real of them-was far away.


He had seen the Spider turn to impale Bill with Its stinger, and then Richie had run forward, yelling at It in that ridiculous Irish Cop's Voice he used to use... only Richie must have improved his act a hell of a lot over the years, because this Voice sounded eerily like Mr Nell from the old days.


The Spider had turned toward Richie, and Eddie had seen Its unspeakable red eyes bulge in their sockets. Richie yelled again, this time in his Pancho Vanilla Voice, and Eddie had felt the Spider scream in pain. Ben yelled hoarsely as a split appeared in Its hide along the line of one of Its scars from the last time. A stream of ichor, black as crude oil, sprayed out. Richie had started to say something else... and his voice had begun to diminish, like the fade at the end of a pop song. His head had rolled back on his neck, his eyes fixed on Its eyes. The Spider grew quiet again.


Time passed-Eddie had no idea just how much. Richie and the Spider stared at each other; Eddie sensed the connection between them, felt a swirl of talk and emotion somewhere far away. He could make out nothing exactly, but sensed the tones of things in colors and hues.


Bill lay slumped on the floor, nose and ears bleeding, fingers twitching slightly, his long face pale, his eyes closed.


The Spider was now bleeding in four or five places, badly hurt again, badly hurt but still dangerously vital, and Eddie thought: Why are we just standing around here? We could hurt It while It's occupied with Richie! Why doesn't somebody move, for Christ's sake?


He sensed a wild triumph-and that feeling was dearer, sharper. Closer. They're coming back! he wanted to shout, but his mouth was too dry, his throat too tight. They're coming back!


Then Richie's head began to turn slowly from side to side. His body seemed to ripple inside his clothes. His glasses hung on the end of his nose for a moment... then fell off and shattered on the stone floor.


The Spider stirred, its spiny legs making a dry clittering on the floor. Eddie heard It cry out in terrible triumph, and a moment later, Richie's voice burst clearly into his head:


(help! I'm losing it! somebody help me!}


Eddie ran forward then, yanking his aspirator from his pocket with his good hand, his lips drawn back in a grimace, his breath whistling painfully in and out of a throat that now felt the size of a pinhole. Crazily, his mother's face danced before him and she was crying: Don't go near that Thing, Eddie! Don't go near It! Things like that give you cancer!


"Shut up, Ma!" Eddie screamed in a high, shrieky voice-all the voice he had left. The Spider's head turned toward the sound, Its eyes momentarily leaving Richie's.

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