If Stan Pollux had known he would be spending his summer holidays in the outer reaches of our solar system, he would have put on different underpants.
But when he gets kidnapped by the Planet Dragon Mercury, most things suddenly seem small and insignificant. Stan finds himself in a universe of dragons who had once ruled the skies as gods: Mars, Venus, Saturn and even Uranus way out back. This is shaping up to be the best summer holiday in the history of the cosmos until Stan discovers his stupid sister is missing and that Pluto (AKA Hades) is trying to use her to destroy the Solar System. And it will be all Stan’s fault if he doesn’t get Poppy back.
So, all Stan has to do is learn how to fight like a hero in space armour, defeat the dragon god of the Underworld, Hades, rescue his sister and save the world. All before his parents realise she is missing.
If Stan Pollux had known he would be spending the rest of his summer holidays in the outer reaches of our solar system, he would have put on different underpants.
Right now, he had other things on his mind – namely his telescope which was broken thanks to his little sister, Poppy. Either it didn’t show anything when he tried to focus in on stars or, much more alarmingly, the night before he’d seen a huge eye staring back at him from Space.
The following night, he plucks up his courage to look again …
Idly, Stan swung the telescope towards the Moon that had risen to just beyond the tops of the trees. The complicated and delicate lenses were definitely loose, because even the silver-grey brightness coming from the nearest body to the Earth didn’t show up so much as a smudge. All Stan got was the reflection of his own pupil, jerking this way and that, and his lashes blinking back at him …
Without warning, he saw a shape, like a huge black wing, flick across the telescope’s point of focus. He looked again; it was gone.
Forgetting his fear, Stan swung the scope around in all directions, black, black, nothing, black, nothing … then … there! A pair of wings, ragged and huge, arced and went out of focus. It was hard to move around in the cramped room and he could only see out one side of the house, so Stan shoved away the scope and looked out of the window with his own eyes. He could see nothing here, but what if he went outside?
His heart thumped in his chest, but more with excitement: he’d forgotten his previous sense of fear as he grabbed the telescope and ran down the back stairs. The whole point of being serious about having a telescope was to discover things. But what had he just seen?
His mother was watching TV with the living room door half closed, so it was easy to slip out.
Racing into the warm night air in the back garden, Stan set his scope up and looked. This time he was more methodical, looking at one section of the night sky for a few moments, then moving on, turning slowly clockwise. He felt a fizz of excitement; sure, he would spot the wing again at any moment. What was it? It looked like it could belong to a bat, but Stan had focused the scope far beyond the flight of anything that flew. This was out there, beyond the Earth’s atmosphere … but that was impossible!
It was warmer than expected in the garden. In fact, Stan felt positively hot, even more so than he had during the day. Sweat had begun to trickle down the back of his neck as he shifted the lens around another few inches. He went to wipe it off with his hand when he felt warm air ruffle the hair on the back of his head, then stop.
Then it came again.
Regular gusts that were getting stronger … before he could turn around, a sound like a bellows went HUMPHRRR! and the air that had been pleasantly warm suddenly felt unpleasantly hot as the hair on the nape of Stan’s neck parted. Stan froze, looked away from the viewfinder and saw his shadow thrown out across the garden by a light coming from behind his back.
He turned … ever so … slowly.
A mass of silver scales, two black wings and two eyes like car lights.
Before Stan could embarrass himself by screaming, a plume of white hot flame shot up into the night sky, knocking the scope over, and Stan felt himself being wrenched up, as if caught in its stream, past the roof of their house and the tops of the trees, and with a sudden burst of unimaginable speed he burst through some wisps of cloud and into the upper atmosphere.
And, just like that, Stan Pollux was gone.
Back in the garden all was still again, as if nothing had happened with no one at all to witness it. All, that is, except for a small pair of bright eyes that watched from her bedroom window. Little fingers held onto the coloured crystal she’d taken the day before from Stan’s room.
Poppy had no doubt in her young mind that this was somehow all her fault.
About Robin Bennett
Robin Bennett is an author and entrepreneur who has written several books for children, adults, and everything in between. Listed in the Who’s Who of British Business Excellence at 29, his 2016 documentary “Fantastic Britain”, about the British obsession with fantasy and folklore, won best foreign feature at the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards, and his first book for young adults, Picus the Thief, won the Writer’s News Indie Published Book of the Year Award in 2012. Robin is also a director at Firefly Press.
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