Columns - 2005

    Harry Plotzer and the Chamber of Shpilkus

    Not for the first time, an argument had broken out over breakfast. To say that Harry Plotzer's aunt and uncle disliked Harry almost as much as they disliked caring for him was to say nothing at all.

    Harry's first summer after his first year at the Hogschwartz School of Mystics and Kabbalah was a lonely time. No messages from his friends. No visitors in the house, until Harry was sent to his room only to find an unannounced guest.

    "I am Daveni," the diminutive, elfish intruder said. "Harry Plotzer must not go back to Hogschwartz. There is a plot to make terrible things happen."

    Late that night, Harry awoke to a loud rumbling. It was his friend Ron Wiesel and his brothers, using their father's car to rip the bars off his bedroom window. The Wiesels liberated Harry, the second year in a row he'd been freed from his dreary life on his birthday, and took him to their home until the school year began.

    After returning to school, and getting into the regular amount of trouble along the way, the tenor of the school year abruptly changed for the worse.

    The halls were filled with whisperings about mudbloods: those who weren't pure mystics, who had one or both parents who weren't of direct lineage. Much of the whisperings were started by Harry's nemesis, Malgoy, and directed at Harry's friend, Harzione.

    Add to that, Harry was hearing voices that nobody else did. In following the voices, Harry and his friends came upon a message written on the wall in blood: "The Chamber of Shpilkus has been opened. Enemies of the heir... beware."

    The wise old headmaster, Professor Dorledor, sent all the students to their towers, warning everyone to use extreme caution.

    Harzione asked Professor Magilgulim to explain the Chamber. The Chamber was legend, being built when the school was founded. It could be opened only by the heir to Slithering, a school founder who left because of his preference for the company of purebloods only.

    During a practice duel with Malgoy, he sent a snake after Harry. Harry talked it down, which revealed to him and everyone else that Harry had the rare gift of speaking ParshaTongue -- a language that most people could not master or understand, but recognize when they hear it.

    This proved Harry was a direct descendent from Eden, the location of the first recorded instance of a person speaking to a snake. This was why Harry could hear voices that nobody else did.

    As several students, including Harzione, started turning up petrified into pillars of salt, blame turned to Harry. And to his friend, the groundskeeper Haggid, who was also accused of opening the Chamber when he was a student. This time, Haggid was sent to Ashkenaz Prison for it. But because attacks continued, there was a danger that Hogschwartz would close.

    The Chamber was home to a giant mythical creature, the Mazelless. There was nothing good about it. It speaks ParshaTongue, and people who it looks in the eye indirectly are petrified into salt. And people it makes direct eye contact with die.

    The Mazelless had taken Ron's younger sister into the Chamber. Ron and Harry pursued it. They discovered the secret entrance, and restlessly entered the Chamber of Shpilkus.

    Ron got cut off, so it was up to Harry to find the girl and the monster. He found them both, and found himself in a struggle for their lives. The Mazelless had been set loose by the evil mystic who had killed Harry's parents after his birth, Voldybbuk.

    Harry battled the Mazelless in the Chamber, without making eye contact to avoid being petrified. Though Harry was petrified in an entirely different way.

    When the battle was won, it was won by Harry. The Mazelless was defeated, Voldybbuk driven away, the girl rescued, and Harry left with little more than a wound to his posterior from the Mazelless's fang.

    Later Harry was reunited with Ron, the liberated Haggid, and the unpetrified Harzione in the infirmary.

    "Harry," asked Ron, "that's not exactly a needle you got in your tush in the Chamber of Shpilkus, is it?"

    "Of course not, Ron," interjected Harzione. "But he will never sit still."

    Doug Brook is a senior technical writer in Silicon Valley. Watch this space for future installments: Harry Plotzer and the Prisoner of Ashkenaz, and Harry Plotzer and the Gabbai of Fire. For more information, past columns, and other writings, visit his website at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.