Saul is just a kid. He’s growing up out in the country, bit by bit, every day.
“I don’t want to do my chores,” he says.
“If you’re bad,” says his mother, “then the gibbelins will come and take you away.”
“Oh,” says Saul. So he goes and he milks the vampires. He collects the mummy eggs. He hauls hay into Barnface.
He doesn’t protest his chores again.
One day, Saul finds a puppy. It has three heads. Its mouths drip acid. It is very hungry because its last owner starved and beat it.
“Come here,” Saul says.
The puppy hesitates.
“Come on,” Saul says. He holds out a steak. It was meant for the river men. But they can go hungry for a day.
The puppy inches forward, low to the ground. Then it rips the steak from his hands. Its teeth and acid rapidly turn the steak to an ex-meal.
“I’ll take you home,” Saul says.
So from that day Saul has a puppy. They play in the fields.
“Mother,” he says, one day, “why do I have to work so hard?”
“If you’re good,” says his mother, “the sugar fairies will come and take you away.”
“Oh,” says Saul. So he goes and he fixes the tractor. He rebinds the limbs of the great round-bellied field demon. He leaves out some milk and his shoes for the cobblers to fix.
Saul goes to school sometimes. Just a little. His mother doesn’t hold much with education, but she wants him to give it a fair shot. Every time the grim white arms of the bus haul him inside, the puppy barks. It licks the bus. Then it sits down and waits patiently for Saul to come home.
When he comes home, the puppy is very happy.
“It’s your sixteenth birthday,” Saul’s mother says, one day. “Have you been good?”
“I have, mother,” says Saul.
“I thought so,” his mother says. So she gets up from their breakfast. She goes around the table. She hugs him goodbye. “Go on, son,” she says. “The sugar fairies are here.”
“Can the puppy come?” he asks.
“I’m sorry,” she says. “The puppy’s evil.”
He goes outside. The sugar fairies find him. They take him, two to each arm and three to his body, and they drag him off to the Land of Pleasure and Happiness.
The puppy is sad.