Microsoft Word Neil Gaiman Coraline doc



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Coraline
miserable. She raised the stone with the hole in it to her eye and looked through it. Nothing. The 
pale thing was telling her the truth. 
“Poor thing,” she said. “I bet she made you come down here as a punishment for telling me too 
much.” 
The thing hesitated, then it nodded. Coraline wondered how she could ever have imagined that 
this grublike thing resembled her father. 
“I’m so sorry,” she said. 
“She’s not best pleased,” said the thing that was once the other father. “Not best pleased at all. 
You’ve put her quite out of sorts. And when she gets out of sorts, she takes it out on everybody 
else. It’s her way.” 


Coraline patted its hairless head. Its skin was tacky, like warm bread dough. “Poor thing,” she 
said. “You’re just a thing she made and then threw away.” 
The thing nodded vigorously; as it nodded, the left button eye fell off and clattered onto the 
concrete floor. The thing looked around vacantly with its one eye, as if it had lost her. Finally it 
saw her, and, as if making a great effort, it opened its mouth once more and said in a wet, urgent 
voice, “Run, child. Leave this place. She wants me to hurt you, to keep you here forever, so that 
you can never finish the game and she will win. She is pushing me so hard to hurt you. I cannot 
fight her.” 
“You can,” said Coraline. “Be brave.” 
She looked around: the thing that had once been the other father was between her and the steps 
up and out of the cellar. She started edging along the wall, heading toward the steps. The thing 
twisted bonelessly until its one eye was again facing her. It seemed to be getting bigger, now, 
and more awake. “Alas,” it said, “I cannot.” 
And it lunged across the cellar toward her then, its toothless mouth opened wide. 
Coraline had a single heartbeat in which to react. She could only think of two things to do. Either 
she could scream and try to run away, and be chased around a badly lit cellar by the huge grub 
thing, be chased until it caught her. Or she could do something else. 
So she did something else. 
As the thing reached her, Coraline put out her hand and closed it around the thing’s remaining 
button eye, and she tugged as hard as she knew how. 
For a moment nothing happened. Then the button came away and flew from her hand, clicking 
against the walls before it fell to the cellar floor. 
The thing froze in place. It threw its pale head back blindly, and opened its mouth horribly wide, 
and it roared its anger and frustration. Then, all in a rush, the thing swept toward the place where 
Coraline had been standing. 
But Coraline was not standing there any longer. She was already tiptoeing, as quietly as she 
could, up the steps that would take her away from the dim cellar with the crude paintings on the 
walls. She could not take her eyes from the floor beneath her, though, across which the pale 
thing flopped and writhed, hunting for her. Then, as if it was being told what to do, the creature 
stopped moving, and its blind head tipped to one side. 
It’s listening for me, thought Coraline. I must be extra quiet. She took another step up, and her 
foot slipped on the step, and the thing heard her. 
Its head tipped toward her. For a moment it swayed and seemed to be gathering its wits. Then, 
fast as a serpent, it slithered for the steps and began to flow up them, toward her. Coraline turned 
and ran, wildly, up the last half dozen steps, and she pushed herself up and onto the floor of the 
dusty bedroom. Without pausing, she pulled the heavy trapdoor toward her, and let go of it. It 
crashed down with a thump just as something large banged against it. The trapdoor shook and 
rattled in the floor, but it stayed where it was. 


Coraline took a deep breath. If there had been any furniture in that flat, even a chair, she would 
have pulled it onto the trapdoor, but there was nothing. 
She walked out of that flat as fast as she could, without actually ever running, and she locked the 
front door behind her. She left the door key under the mat. Then she walked down onto the drive. 
She had half expected that the other mother would be standing there waiting for Coraline to 
come out, but the world was silent and empty. 
Coraline wanted to go home. 
She hugged herself, and told herself that she was brave, and she almost believed herself, and then 
she walked around to the side of the house, in the gray mist that wasn’t a mist, and she made for 
the stairs, to go up. 



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