Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sylvia’s Sweet Slumber Swiftly Seems Awfully Scary

By Anne Sullivan

Sylvia snored and snorted on. As she twitched and twisted in her sleep it was obvious that she was dreaming.
Sylvia was hungry. It must be the journey, she thought. I know I had breakfast with biscuits before I started the day’s digging.
Besides hunger, Sylvia felt victorious, if somewhat tired after her journey down the Great Hole. She knew she was in China, in Shanghai. Where in Shanghai, she had no idea. There seemed to be a river by the street where more people than Sylvia had ever seen before were busy heading quickly in both directions.
Strange, it was getting dark and many colored lights were coming on, all reflecting in the river, changing shape as they blinked on and off. How could it be dinnertime already?
She spied a large black dog ahead of her attached by a leash to what looked like a policeman. My mother always taught me to ask a policeman for directions if I ever got lost, she remembered. Not that she was lost but her food was.
Sylvia approached the large dog and asked, “Can you please tell me where I can get something to eat?”
The large dog had an equally large bark. “Where’s your leash? Where’s your person?” He interrogated her. “Do you have a license? What are you doing here all by yourself?”
“I’m hungry. I need chow,” said Sylvia in what she hoped was Chinese.
The big dog bared its teeth and laughed. “You don’t look like you need anything to eat. You’re fat. You need to get out and do some Tai chi.” With that, he lunged at her and broke loose from the policeman. Choosing the better part of valor, Sylvia ran. The black dog chased after her and she ran and ran until she was puffing so hard she had to stop. She looked back to see that somehow terror had made her swift and she’d managed to outrun the big dog.
She ducked into an alley. No bright lights here. She almost tripped over a bench so she decided to wait until she could see properly. She sniffed. Something was cooking. Maybe it was her dinner.
A man wearing a dirty apron and a peculiar tall hat stepped out of a door, a cigarette drooping from his lips. The light from inside made it easier to see. The man smiled at her.
Sylvia sat down and wagged her tail in her most appealing manner. The man, still smiling, motioned her inside.
Eagerly she entered a small room which she deduced was a kitchen. She inhaled cooking smells, not of anything she could recognize, but definitely food. An enormous pot of something was bubbling away on top of the stove.
The man reached down to pet her. Sylvia’s tail wagged faster and faster. Then the man hugged her. How nice. No one had hugged her since she’d left Swingle Canyon.
Suddenly the man’s arms tightened around her. The smile left his face. He picked her up – all 70 pounds of her – and with no effort at all tossed her into the soup pot on top of the stove.
Sylvia screamed as she threshed around in the hot liquid.
“Help, help”, she cried.
“What’s the matter, Sylvia?” I asked. “Did you have a bad dream?”
“Oh, oh, where am I?” she screeched.
“Silly dog, you’re in your bed. Where else would you be?”
“I was in China and I was hungry.”
“Was that why you woke up? You’ve been asleep for quite some time. You were dreaming and it must have been some dream you were having.”
“It was. I was actually in Shanghai and it was time for supper there. Speaking of supper, isn’t it time for mine?”
“Not a chance. It’s not even noon yet. I thought you were eager to do more digging in your Great Hole.”
“I think I’ll fill it in,” she said, stretching.

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