Sully Strikes Back
“Amy! Come put on your shoes. I have to run to the store!” Mom’s voice echoed through the house.
I huffed, flinging down my pencil. It bounced off my homework, sliding across the table. I shoved back my dining room chair and stormed through the kitchen. Our pet pseudodragon, named Sullivan, lay sleeping on the counter. As I passed, I glared at him. He’d better not touch my pencil—or my homework.
When I reached the foyer, I leaned against the wall, “Please, can’t I stay home? I’m doing homework.”
“You can do homework in the car. I won’t be that long,” My mother tied off her light blue sneakers, standing up.
“But Mom, I can’t focus in the car. You said that when I turned fourteen, I could stay home.”
My mother paused, “Well… I suppose we did. I don’t love making this decision without your father. But…” She bit her lip, “I suppose we could try letting you—”
“Whoohoo!” I pumped my fist, banging my elbow against the wall. I hissed through my teeth, rubbing my elbow. I heard the scratching Sullivan’s nails scratch the counter as he scrambled up.
He huffed, “Noissy Hoomanss,”
“But,” Mom held up a finger, “If I let you stay, you need to prove you can handle it. That means when I get back, your homework is done, your chores are done, and the house is just like I left it. If they aren’t, you lose dragon riding privileges for a week.”
“No buts! If you don’t like it, you can come with me.”
I sighed, staring at my mismatched green socks, “Yes Mom.”
“Good,” She grabbed her leather purse. “I’ll be back by seven.”
Pausing halfway out the front door, she added “Don’t forget, Sullivan started his new diet today. No treats. No snacks until feeding time. And absolutely NO red meat. It gives him gas.”
“Mom, I know.” I was tempted to shove her out the door. “The vet’s paper is on the fridge.” Sheesh. It was like I’d never seen a dragon before.
Finally, she left. Mom’s old Ford Explorer squealed to life and faded into the distance.
A few minutes later, I sat at the dining room table. The house filled with Sullivan’s snoring and my pencil’s scratching. Even the stables were silent as the dragons took their afternoon naps. I couldn’t believe Mom would threaten to stick me with that obnoxious dragonet hatchling again. Everyone else always got all the fun.
I huffed, turning back to my math. Just two problems left.
Sullivan’s eyes fluttered, he stretched, and yawned. His white teeth and red tongue contrasted with his light green scales and his arched past his pointed tail. Pseudodragons were smaller than most other dragons—about the size of a housecat. While all dragons understood human language, pseudodragons could often speak.
He opened his wings and flitted to the dining room table.
His large, green eyes studied me for several minutes, before he announced in his hissing, broken English, “Ssully Hungwy. Want tow.”
I rolled my eyes, “Sully, you know it isn’t feeding time yet. I can’t give you cow.”
“Want tow,” He insisted, scraping the table with his dulled claws.
I ignored him.
“Want tow!” He butted his head against my arm.
“Stop it!” I swatted him away.
He darted back.
Seeing the papers momentarily exposed, Sullivan snatched my homework and launched into the air.
“Hey! Give that back!” I pulled our spray bottle from the shelf and sprayed him.
But he simply dodged, using my homework as a shield. The ink started to bleed.
Sullivan cackled, “Sssstealed homwort! Hungwy Ssully! Eat homwort!”
“No! Stop!” I jumped to catch him, but he darted up to the ceiling, “Sullivan! Don’t you dare eat my homework!”
“Eat homwort!” the dragon gleefully danced across the ceiling midflight.
“Get down here right now, you stupid, scaly, mischievous ball of slime!” I screamed.
“Ssully hungwy! No give tow? EAT HOMWORT!” The small dragon swooped down to divebomb me.
I ducked, grabbing blindly for my homework. He swooped up again and landed on top of the kitchen cabinets, his talons holding the crumpled pages.
I tried scrambling up the countertops, but my slippery socks sent me sprawling, “Give me back my homework!”
I pounded the floor, “I can’t!”
Sully didn’t answer, he simply bit the first page. Riiiiiip! The paper gave way under his teeth, “Yuuuummm!”
“Stop! Stop! If I give you cow, will you give me my homework and leave me alone?”
“Tow! Give tow! Homwort for tow!” The small dragon flitted to the fridge, prancing back and forth.
A plan started to form. In the living room, Sullivan’s crate sat empty. If I could get him over there…
I quickly opened the fridge and grabbed a small ground beef package.
“Tow! Tow! Tow!” Sullivan swooped around me, grabbing at the package with both talons. I blocked him. My homework pages lay strewn across the floor, forgotten.
I pulled out a knife and opened the package.
Again, Sullivan dove for it, “GIVE TOW!”
“In a second,” I dodged away, inching toward the crate, “Sheesh.”
Dodging Sullivan’s frantic strikes, I made it.
Carefully, I tore off a piece of ground beef the size of my pinkie—not enough to give him noticeable gas—and tossed it into the crate.
“TOW!!!!” Sullivan dove into the crate and scarfed up the raw meat in milliseconds.
As he did so, I slammed the crate door shut, locking it.
He screeched, rattling the thin metal bars, “Out! Letsss out! Amy liesssss! Give tow! Amy PWOMISSSED!”
I ignored him, sighing in relief.
Sullivan continued to scream threats, pleas, and even a few curses.
Sealing the bag and washing my hands, I collected my homework.
The pages were crumpled and wet. The top, right corner was missing off the first page, but otherwise, they were intact. Nothing important was unreadable.
I dried the wet pages and set to work on the last two problems.
When I finished, Sullivan had resigned himself to captivity, intermittently grumbling about “Backssstabbing hoomansss.”
Glancing at the clock, I scrambled up. It was 6:45. Mom would be home in fifteen minutes. I scrambled to wash the dishes and tidy up. I organized papers for Sully’s diet, legal forms detailing our dragon-training “facilities,” and my dad’s various stable sketches.
Ten minutes later, I heard Mom’s Ford come down the road, her favorite Toby Keith album blaring for the cornfields—and dragons—to hear.
As she pulled in and unloaded the car, I raced to help, then froze at the door.
I couldn’t leave him in the crate. Mom would ask questions.
I would have to explain how I got him inside. And why.
Turning back, I scrambled to the living room and threw open his cage door. Screaming bloody murder, the two-pound dragon launched from the cage like a rocket. He zoomed around the room before settling atop the kitchen cabinets. He glared and muttered darkly.
Mom’s voice called from outside, “Amy! Aren’t you going to help with the groceries?”
“Coming Mom!” I bolted outside. The front door slammed behind me.
I returned lugging two bags of onions. Sullivan was perched smugly on the table, licking his chops. My homework was gone.
My stomach dropped, “What have you done?!”
Sullivan gave me a satisfied grin, “Deliciousss.”
“You good-for-nothing slimeball!” I stomped my foot. “You’ll pay for this!”
Sullivan gently folded his blunted talons, “If Amy tellsss, Sssully tellsss.”