Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 2 –

– 2 –

Mr. Gulley wakes from a nightmare. He staggers downstairs. He gets himself a cup of coffee. He toasts a delicious strawberry Pop-Tart, ignoring his distant dismal knowledge that the rain of scissors killed off strawberries along with a good portion of the biodiversity of the Earth.

What is actually in his Pop-Tart? He does not know.

He puts it on a plate.

He takes a sip of coffee. He turns around.

There is a wolf.

“Oh,” he says. “I had thought that was the nightmare.”

The wolf stares down at him.

He looks at it. He thought that he’d be frightened, but he isn’t. He’s smiling instead. He says it. “I’m smiling,” he says. “Why am I smiling, love?”

The wolf hasn’t said anything.

“I’m going to kill you,” he says, “you know.”

The wolf licks its lips. There is drool on the carpet. Mr. Gulley remembers promising Helissent that there wouldn’t be wolf drool on the carpet, but that was a long time ago.

Starlight falls on the world, from Sirius, from Barnard’s Star, from Wolf 359, and most certainly from the sun. Plants grow. The ocean surges, rises, falls.

The Agency is marshalling, he assumes.

They wouldn’t have missed the freedom of the wolf. Surely they wouldn’t have. Most likely the armies of the world are readying as well.

There are children being born. There are children playing. There are children who have grown old and grey.

He touches it. He leans against its fur. He loses himself in the softness of it.

He tries to remember what his cool, awesome parting line was going to be.

“I’m sor—” he starts.

With one great snap it eats him, and Mr. Gulley’s done.



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