Gork, the Teenage Dragon

A Novel

Look inside
A TODAY Show Summer Pick
 
“Hilarious. . . . Gork is less Game of Thrones and more The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
Rolling Stone

 
Gork is the nerdiest dragon at WarWings Military Academy. He has a giant heart and tiny horns. His nickname is Weak Sauce. Today before his high school graduation, he must ask a female dragon to be his queen. The result is a rollicking quest for true love on the most madcap day ever known to a high school senior–dragon or otherwise.

Along the way, Gork gets help from his best friend Fribby, a fierce female robot dragon who is brilliant, snarky, and totally obsessed with death; and Athenos II, his sentient spaceship who carries a shocking secret from his childhood. Ultimately, Gork will have to lock horns with his evil grandfather, Dr. Terrible. Can a quest for true love make a hero out of a dragon?

“In the spirit of Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams. . . . To be sure, each peer group needs its silly fix, its revenge-of-the-nerds outsider triumph, its conquering dragon-Harry Potter mashup.”
—The New York Times 
 
“Outcast cyborg dragons, underworld demons and Gork's mad scientist grandfather, Dr. Terrible, all get involved in a plot as bizarre as a Vonnegut novel.”
—Rolling Stone

 
“The fun is in the gonzo, sci-fi fantasy details. . . . Hudson seems to be taking cues from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels and Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, with perhaps a smattering of Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Campbell and Mark Twain.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

 
Gork, the Teenage Dragon follows the titular monster about to leave his military school behind. He's always been a misfit: nicknamed "Weak Sauce" by his classmates, he has a small pair of horns and a tendency to faint at inopportune times. Gork plans to ask a female dragon to become his partner, and the stakes are high.”
— Los Angeles Times

Gork, the Teenage Dragon combines so many things I count on in fiction I love—great expansive humor, a big-hearted optimism about all that’s possible in the world and in fiction, a very clear moral purpose and a sense of social responsibility—plus a willingness to experiment with the form of writing, to push the art of writing further, and with passion. In the long and august tradition of literary masterpieces about sentient adolescent dragons from outer space, this is no doubt the greatest of the genre. Gabe Hudson has crafted a very sensitive and very funny book from the most serious of subjects: interplanetary acceptance for giant lizards.”
—Dave Eggers, author of The Circle

“A dragon version of Ferris Buehler’s Day Off. . . . Readers cheer for Gork.”
—New York Journal of Books

 
“Charming and wildly imaginative. . . . Gork, who immediately establishes himself as one of the most lovable characters of the year, is an orphaned 16-year-old dragon with a tremendous heart.”
—BuzzFeed

 
“Big-hearted and gawky, Gork gives us a lovable loser sure to win the hearts of sci-fi readers and fans of offbeat comedies.” 
Shelf Awareness
 
“Hilarious, satisfyingly fun. . . [as] if John Hughes wrote a Game of Thrones dragon comedy. The story's whimsy and humor keep the plot moving.” 
The Chicago Review of Books
 
Gork, the Teenage Dragon is jam-packed with outrageous storytelling and soulful humor in the tradition of Kurt Vonnegut. Who knew a dragon’s coming-of-age story could be filled with so much humanity? Gabe Hudson may well be the funniest writer working today.” 
—Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

“A coming-of-age story and a love story….Gork, the Teenage Dragon is like nothing you've read before — a quirky, wildly fun ride of a debut novel about a 16-year old dragon with a big heart.”
BuzzFeed
 
Gork, the Teenage Dragon is a hilarious ride through the mind-bending and capacious universe, a one-of-a-kind coming-of-age story for the big-hearted and beleaguered. Mostly, it’s a reminder that, now especially, we on planet Earth need a whole lot more dreamer-poets, a whole lot more gentle peace-loving fools.”  
—Tracy K. Smith, U.S. Poet Laureate, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Life on Mars and Ordinary Light
 
“It's hard not to love a story about a dragon with a spaceship that cribs its plot from a John Hughes movie…If it all sounds a bit crazy, it is, in a weird and kind of wonderful way that combines immature humor with a heartfelt coming-of-age story. The hyperkinetic teen-dragon comedy-romance you never knew you wanted.”
Kirkus Reviews

 “Fantasy readers will enjoy this playful romp that pays homage to popular literature and movies. Gork is a dragon version of Andrew Smith’s Austin Szerba in Grasshopper Jungle. VERDICTGive to fantasy fans who appreciate dark comedies, dorky dragons, or feel-good first romances.”
School Library Journal
 
“If you are in need of a charming, funny, just very good read right now, may I suggest Gork, the The Teenage Dragon by Gabe Hudson? It’s helping.”
—Erika Swyler, author of The Book of Speculation
 
“Gork possesses the madcap invention and strange genius of Alice in Wonderland.“
—The Paris Review Daily
 
“Like some of its unforgettable inhabitants, Gork, the Teenage Dragon is a cyborg: a fusion of whiz-bang sci-fi with earthy, bawdy, heartfelt fantasy. Gabe Hudson’s imagination never quits.” 
—Chandler Klang Smith, author of The Sky Is Yours
 
“Cleverly plotted and executed. . . . Gork’s amusing growing-up story unfolds in vignettes of encounters with various kooky fellow dragons. Throughout, Hudson makes generally witty and occasionally brilliant reflections on humans’ often reptilian behavior.”
Publishers Weekly

 “Gork’s got it going on. His secret weapon? Poetry! This wonderful, big-hearted, crazy novel is a testament to Gabe Hudson’s ingenious imagination.” 
—Elizabeth McKenzie, author of The Portable Veblen

“Smart, subversive, funny and fun, Gabe Hudson has created something special—something soaring. It’s Catcher in the Rye spiced with Anne McCaffrey, Eragon by way of John Irving, with a whiff of Douglas Adams for good measure.​” 
The ​Maine Edge​
 
“Gabe Hudson’s fire-breathing, page-scorching creation, Gork the dragon, is more human and big-hearted and generous than most people I know. This book is as sly and smart as it is hilarious.”
—Ben Marcus, author of The Flame Alphabet


“Genre-bending, age-defying appeal. . . . Gork has one thing going for him: a big, generous heart. Seriously, literary sentimentalists, can you resist?”
—Library Journal
 
Gork, the Teenage Dragon induced in me such madcap, heartfelt delight and joy, like getting drunk but WITHOUT impaired faculties and PLUS dragons.” 
—Alice Sola Kim, 2016 Whiting Award Winner

“Like a mad scramble to find the right date for prom, complete with nerds and jocks—but mainly dragons. Recommend this one to fans of offbeat science fiction and fantasy, such as the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series.”
Booklist
 
"Gork, the Teenage Dragon is on fire! It’s magnificent and exhuberant and ferociously funny, and it’s also one of the most moving coming-of-age stories to appear in a long time."
—Paul La Farge, author of The Night Ocean
 
“An epic love story that is wondrous, enchanting, hilarious, and heartrending.”
—Akhil Sharma, author of Family Life
 
“An instant dragon tale classic…Resembling the very best John Hughes films, Gork has a memorable group of unique characters.”
—Brief Take
[3]

THE FIRST TIME I MEET DR. TERRIBLE,
IT HAPPENS ON PLANET EARTH

We were deep into winter and the forest was beset with famine.
I spent my nights staggering around, desperate with hunger. The snow was thick on the forest floor. The effort of flapping my wings made me dizzy and when I tried to fly I instantly fell to the ground. Then came The Night When Everything Changed.
That night, I happened upon a big buck deer hiding in some undergrowth. I remember there was a full moon in the sky, and I had walked near some brush when all of a sudden this big buck deer exploded out of there. And I looked up in surprise to see its brown hindquarters bounding off through the snow under the moonlight. Anyway, I bolted after it and even in my weakened state, I just managed to chase it down.

Well, I still remember how I was poised there over my fresh kill in the snow, and I was eating ravenously from it. Because for the last couple weeks the hunger pains had been gnawing at my insides. And that’s why I didn’t do what I would have normally done in that situation, which would be to take my fresh kill back to the shiny chamber and eat it in peace. Behind the safety of that clear door.

So I tore into my feast with my beak right there in the little snowy clearing, and I was chowing down under the moonlight like the starving beast that I was. And I figure that’s the only reason I didn’t notice the big gray wolf until it was too late.

Because normally my horns would’ve started tingling to warn me of an imminent threat. But unfortunately my horns were starving too. My little scaly green ass had been delirious with hunger for so long and now I was eating with my whole body. Plus I was only three years old at the time and nowhere near a fully grown dragon and still technically in my infancy.

But the instant I looked up and saw that big gray wolf standing there in the moonlit snow and growling and baring its fangs, well I knew I’d made a mistake. I should’ve known the scent of fresh blood would go out on the night wind like an alarm bell.

Then the wolf suddenly glided in closer and studied me with his piercing yellow eyes. He snarled and crouched low on coiled haunches. You could tell the wolf was going to pounce any second. My black heart was hammering away in my chest and my fool horns were tingling like crazy.

Thankfully, by that point the fresh meat in my belly had not only cleared my head, it also gave me a massive boost of strength. So I just looked that fool wolf in the eye and ripped a thunderous belch and a restream flashed out my beak and blasted that thieving wolf in its furry haunches. Or it would’ve anyway, if that wolf hadn’t anticipated what I was going to do and leapt and danced away right before my flame zapped the spot on the ground where he’d just been.

Then I heard a terrible sound coming from behind me, and this sound made the scales on the back of my long green neck stand straight up. For as long as I live, I will never forget that terrible sound. Or the fear I felt when I heard it.

Because this sound was the deranged bloodthirsty howls of an entire wolf pack rushing in to attack me from behind. I realized only then that the first wolf had merely been acting as a decoy, something to distract me.

I was suddenly knocked off my webbed feet from behind. And in a flash I was pinned down there in the snow under what felt like a mountain of fur, and those wolves’ hot breath was all over me. Their jaws were snapping and I could feel their fangs sinking deep into my soft belly, over and over and over. These beasts were mad with hunger. Now one of those fiendish wolves snarled and plunged its fangs into the flesh of my right wing, and this same wolf wrenched its jaws and savagely ripped my wing in half and I felt the hot cutting pain explode all over my body.

I howled. In agony, but also in terror. Because in that instant I knew with my ripped wing I couldn’t fly out of there, and now my only hope of escape would come down to a footrace in the snow.

So I fought like a bastard, buried under that pile of thirty or so giant wolves. I tapped into my rage. I clawed and bit and blasted fire. I managed to get in a couple of good licks, too. I tore fur and flesh with my fangs. I felt my claws slice to the bone. And I savored the sweet taste of wolf blood in my beak. Yes sir.

But by and large I was getting the worst of it. And I knew if I didn’t do something quick then I’d be dead. I was bleeding from all those puncture wounds in my belly, and my right wing was hanging off my wingjoint in tatters. And I was still suffocating under all that fur as they tore me to shreds and it dawned on me then that these bastards wouldn’t stop until they’d gnawed every last bit of flesh off my bones.

So after blasting countless rebolts to the point where my throat was raw and shredded, I finally managed to twist out from under and leap away from the pack and start running through the snow on my hind legs. I lit out of there in a flash.

The pack of wolves instantly set off after me. As I ran I could feel their hot raging breath closing in and could hear the terrifying clack sound of their jaws snapping shut right on my heels. They were howling and snarling and lunging at me and yet still I kept running with no thought in my head but that of sheer terror.

My little webbed feet were flying.

This was all new to me. I was bleeding out of the dozens of puncture holes in my belly and could hear my tattered wing flapping behind me as I ran. I left a bright red blood trail right there in the snow under the moonlight, and my lungs were heaving so hard it felt like they were going to pop.

And then there it was.

The clear door.
I don’t know how I did it, but I’d somehow managed to race all the way back to the shiny
chamber with the pack of wolves hot on my heels. I could see the clear door right there in front of me, maybe twenty feet up ahead, and I was shooting toward it at full throttle. But as I raced forward I realized with a sinking heart that there was just one problem. I couldn’t afford to stop and open the door, on account of even that one split second it’d take to stop and slide open the door would mean certain death. Because the wolves would instantly be upon me and tear my scaly green ass to shreds.

Well I was scared out of my mind and didn’t know what to do. I figured for sure I was done for. As I flashed forward I decided right then and there that I’d rather die on my own terms than those of these beasts snarling at my backside.

So without much hope I lowered my head and kicked in the after- burners and launched forward, a green blur shooting right at the door. I reckoned it’d be better to die by ramming my head straight into the clear door. Because at least that way I wouldn’t be alive as the wolves gorged themselves on my flesh.

But at the last second, as I prepared to meet my maker, well that clear door suddenly slid open in a flash.

I shot across the threshold. The door flew shut. And I crashed into the far wall of the chamber. Suddenly there were thirty enraged wolves howling and repeatedly lunging at the clear door and slavering foamy drool all over it. I leapt up off the floor, still not quite believing I wasn’t dead.

Then as I crouched there gasping on the far side of the chamber and watched the wolves attack the door, a loud noise exploded inside the chamber.

Poof!


I watched in shock as two gigantic green webbed feet materialized out of thin air right in front of me. And these two webbed feet had deadly-looking toe claws protruding out of them. My nostrils instantly flared. Because my snout detected a new foreign scent there in my lair.
 
 
 
 
© Linda Peters
Gabe Hudson is the author of Dear Mr. President, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and winner of the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. It was one of GQ’s Ten Best Books of the Year, The Village Voice’s 25 Best Books of the Year, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch Best Book of the Year, and a New York Times New & Notable Paperback. Hudson was named one of Granta's 20 Best of Young American Novelists. He was a recipient of the Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, the John Hawkes Prize in Fiction from Brown University, and the Adele Steiner Burleson Award in Fiction from the University of Texas at Austin. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, BuzzFeed, The Village Voice, McSweeney's, Black Book, and Granta. He was a contributing writer to Six Feet Under: Better Living Through Death, edited by Alan Ball. For many years, he was Editor-at-Large for McSweeney's. He attended The University of Texas and received his MFA from Brown University. Hudson taught in Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program and was founding Chair of the Creative Writing Program at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea. He died in 2023.
 
Twitter: @gabehudson
Instagram: @gabeghudson
www.gabehudson.com View titles by Gabe Hudson

About

A TODAY Show Summer Pick
 
“Hilarious. . . . Gork is less Game of Thrones and more The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
Rolling Stone

 
Gork is the nerdiest dragon at WarWings Military Academy. He has a giant heart and tiny horns. His nickname is Weak Sauce. Today before his high school graduation, he must ask a female dragon to be his queen. The result is a rollicking quest for true love on the most madcap day ever known to a high school senior–dragon or otherwise.

Along the way, Gork gets help from his best friend Fribby, a fierce female robot dragon who is brilliant, snarky, and totally obsessed with death; and Athenos II, his sentient spaceship who carries a shocking secret from his childhood. Ultimately, Gork will have to lock horns with his evil grandfather, Dr. Terrible. Can a quest for true love make a hero out of a dragon?

“In the spirit of Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams. . . . To be sure, each peer group needs its silly fix, its revenge-of-the-nerds outsider triumph, its conquering dragon-Harry Potter mashup.”
—The New York Times 
 
“Outcast cyborg dragons, underworld demons and Gork's mad scientist grandfather, Dr. Terrible, all get involved in a plot as bizarre as a Vonnegut novel.”
—Rolling Stone

 
“The fun is in the gonzo, sci-fi fantasy details. . . . Hudson seems to be taking cues from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels and Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, with perhaps a smattering of Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Campbell and Mark Twain.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

 
Gork, the Teenage Dragon follows the titular monster about to leave his military school behind. He's always been a misfit: nicknamed "Weak Sauce" by his classmates, he has a small pair of horns and a tendency to faint at inopportune times. Gork plans to ask a female dragon to become his partner, and the stakes are high.”
— Los Angeles Times

Gork, the Teenage Dragon combines so many things I count on in fiction I love—great expansive humor, a big-hearted optimism about all that’s possible in the world and in fiction, a very clear moral purpose and a sense of social responsibility—plus a willingness to experiment with the form of writing, to push the art of writing further, and with passion. In the long and august tradition of literary masterpieces about sentient adolescent dragons from outer space, this is no doubt the greatest of the genre. Gabe Hudson has crafted a very sensitive and very funny book from the most serious of subjects: interplanetary acceptance for giant lizards.”
—Dave Eggers, author of The Circle

“A dragon version of Ferris Buehler’s Day Off. . . . Readers cheer for Gork.”
—New York Journal of Books

 
“Charming and wildly imaginative. . . . Gork, who immediately establishes himself as one of the most lovable characters of the year, is an orphaned 16-year-old dragon with a tremendous heart.”
—BuzzFeed

 
“Big-hearted and gawky, Gork gives us a lovable loser sure to win the hearts of sci-fi readers and fans of offbeat comedies.” 
Shelf Awareness
 
“Hilarious, satisfyingly fun. . . [as] if John Hughes wrote a Game of Thrones dragon comedy. The story's whimsy and humor keep the plot moving.” 
The Chicago Review of Books
 
Gork, the Teenage Dragon is jam-packed with outrageous storytelling and soulful humor in the tradition of Kurt Vonnegut. Who knew a dragon’s coming-of-age story could be filled with so much humanity? Gabe Hudson may well be the funniest writer working today.” 
—Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

“A coming-of-age story and a love story….Gork, the Teenage Dragon is like nothing you've read before — a quirky, wildly fun ride of a debut novel about a 16-year old dragon with a big heart.”
BuzzFeed
 
Gork, the Teenage Dragon is a hilarious ride through the mind-bending and capacious universe, a one-of-a-kind coming-of-age story for the big-hearted and beleaguered. Mostly, it’s a reminder that, now especially, we on planet Earth need a whole lot more dreamer-poets, a whole lot more gentle peace-loving fools.”  
—Tracy K. Smith, U.S. Poet Laureate, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Life on Mars and Ordinary Light
 
“It's hard not to love a story about a dragon with a spaceship that cribs its plot from a John Hughes movie…If it all sounds a bit crazy, it is, in a weird and kind of wonderful way that combines immature humor with a heartfelt coming-of-age story. The hyperkinetic teen-dragon comedy-romance you never knew you wanted.”
Kirkus Reviews

 “Fantasy readers will enjoy this playful romp that pays homage to popular literature and movies. Gork is a dragon version of Andrew Smith’s Austin Szerba in Grasshopper Jungle. VERDICTGive to fantasy fans who appreciate dark comedies, dorky dragons, or feel-good first romances.”
School Library Journal
 
“If you are in need of a charming, funny, just very good read right now, may I suggest Gork, the The Teenage Dragon by Gabe Hudson? It’s helping.”
—Erika Swyler, author of The Book of Speculation
 
“Gork possesses the madcap invention and strange genius of Alice in Wonderland.“
—The Paris Review Daily
 
“Like some of its unforgettable inhabitants, Gork, the Teenage Dragon is a cyborg: a fusion of whiz-bang sci-fi with earthy, bawdy, heartfelt fantasy. Gabe Hudson’s imagination never quits.” 
—Chandler Klang Smith, author of The Sky Is Yours
 
“Cleverly plotted and executed. . . . Gork’s amusing growing-up story unfolds in vignettes of encounters with various kooky fellow dragons. Throughout, Hudson makes generally witty and occasionally brilliant reflections on humans’ often reptilian behavior.”
Publishers Weekly

 “Gork’s got it going on. His secret weapon? Poetry! This wonderful, big-hearted, crazy novel is a testament to Gabe Hudson’s ingenious imagination.” 
—Elizabeth McKenzie, author of The Portable Veblen

“Smart, subversive, funny and fun, Gabe Hudson has created something special—something soaring. It’s Catcher in the Rye spiced with Anne McCaffrey, Eragon by way of John Irving, with a whiff of Douglas Adams for good measure.​” 
The ​Maine Edge​
 
“Gabe Hudson’s fire-breathing, page-scorching creation, Gork the dragon, is more human and big-hearted and generous than most people I know. This book is as sly and smart as it is hilarious.”
—Ben Marcus, author of The Flame Alphabet


“Genre-bending, age-defying appeal. . . . Gork has one thing going for him: a big, generous heart. Seriously, literary sentimentalists, can you resist?”
—Library Journal
 
Gork, the Teenage Dragon induced in me such madcap, heartfelt delight and joy, like getting drunk but WITHOUT impaired faculties and PLUS dragons.” 
—Alice Sola Kim, 2016 Whiting Award Winner

“Like a mad scramble to find the right date for prom, complete with nerds and jocks—but mainly dragons. Recommend this one to fans of offbeat science fiction and fantasy, such as the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series.”
Booklist
 
"Gork, the Teenage Dragon is on fire! It’s magnificent and exhuberant and ferociously funny, and it’s also one of the most moving coming-of-age stories to appear in a long time."
—Paul La Farge, author of The Night Ocean
 
“An epic love story that is wondrous, enchanting, hilarious, and heartrending.”
—Akhil Sharma, author of Family Life
 
“An instant dragon tale classic…Resembling the very best John Hughes films, Gork has a memorable group of unique characters.”
—Brief Take

Excerpt

[3]

THE FIRST TIME I MEET DR. TERRIBLE,
IT HAPPENS ON PLANET EARTH

We were deep into winter and the forest was beset with famine.
I spent my nights staggering around, desperate with hunger. The snow was thick on the forest floor. The effort of flapping my wings made me dizzy and when I tried to fly I instantly fell to the ground. Then came The Night When Everything Changed.
That night, I happened upon a big buck deer hiding in some undergrowth. I remember there was a full moon in the sky, and I had walked near some brush when all of a sudden this big buck deer exploded out of there. And I looked up in surprise to see its brown hindquarters bounding off through the snow under the moonlight. Anyway, I bolted after it and even in my weakened state, I just managed to chase it down.

Well, I still remember how I was poised there over my fresh kill in the snow, and I was eating ravenously from it. Because for the last couple weeks the hunger pains had been gnawing at my insides. And that’s why I didn’t do what I would have normally done in that situation, which would be to take my fresh kill back to the shiny chamber and eat it in peace. Behind the safety of that clear door.

So I tore into my feast with my beak right there in the little snowy clearing, and I was chowing down under the moonlight like the starving beast that I was. And I figure that’s the only reason I didn’t notice the big gray wolf until it was too late.

Because normally my horns would’ve started tingling to warn me of an imminent threat. But unfortunately my horns were starving too. My little scaly green ass had been delirious with hunger for so long and now I was eating with my whole body. Plus I was only three years old at the time and nowhere near a fully grown dragon and still technically in my infancy.

But the instant I looked up and saw that big gray wolf standing there in the moonlit snow and growling and baring its fangs, well I knew I’d made a mistake. I should’ve known the scent of fresh blood would go out on the night wind like an alarm bell.

Then the wolf suddenly glided in closer and studied me with his piercing yellow eyes. He snarled and crouched low on coiled haunches. You could tell the wolf was going to pounce any second. My black heart was hammering away in my chest and my fool horns were tingling like crazy.

Thankfully, by that point the fresh meat in my belly had not only cleared my head, it also gave me a massive boost of strength. So I just looked that fool wolf in the eye and ripped a thunderous belch and a restream flashed out my beak and blasted that thieving wolf in its furry haunches. Or it would’ve anyway, if that wolf hadn’t anticipated what I was going to do and leapt and danced away right before my flame zapped the spot on the ground where he’d just been.

Then I heard a terrible sound coming from behind me, and this sound made the scales on the back of my long green neck stand straight up. For as long as I live, I will never forget that terrible sound. Or the fear I felt when I heard it.

Because this sound was the deranged bloodthirsty howls of an entire wolf pack rushing in to attack me from behind. I realized only then that the first wolf had merely been acting as a decoy, something to distract me.

I was suddenly knocked off my webbed feet from behind. And in a flash I was pinned down there in the snow under what felt like a mountain of fur, and those wolves’ hot breath was all over me. Their jaws were snapping and I could feel their fangs sinking deep into my soft belly, over and over and over. These beasts were mad with hunger. Now one of those fiendish wolves snarled and plunged its fangs into the flesh of my right wing, and this same wolf wrenched its jaws and savagely ripped my wing in half and I felt the hot cutting pain explode all over my body.

I howled. In agony, but also in terror. Because in that instant I knew with my ripped wing I couldn’t fly out of there, and now my only hope of escape would come down to a footrace in the snow.

So I fought like a bastard, buried under that pile of thirty or so giant wolves. I tapped into my rage. I clawed and bit and blasted fire. I managed to get in a couple of good licks, too. I tore fur and flesh with my fangs. I felt my claws slice to the bone. And I savored the sweet taste of wolf blood in my beak. Yes sir.

But by and large I was getting the worst of it. And I knew if I didn’t do something quick then I’d be dead. I was bleeding from all those puncture wounds in my belly, and my right wing was hanging off my wingjoint in tatters. And I was still suffocating under all that fur as they tore me to shreds and it dawned on me then that these bastards wouldn’t stop until they’d gnawed every last bit of flesh off my bones.

So after blasting countless rebolts to the point where my throat was raw and shredded, I finally managed to twist out from under and leap away from the pack and start running through the snow on my hind legs. I lit out of there in a flash.

The pack of wolves instantly set off after me. As I ran I could feel their hot raging breath closing in and could hear the terrifying clack sound of their jaws snapping shut right on my heels. They were howling and snarling and lunging at me and yet still I kept running with no thought in my head but that of sheer terror.

My little webbed feet were flying.

This was all new to me. I was bleeding out of the dozens of puncture holes in my belly and could hear my tattered wing flapping behind me as I ran. I left a bright red blood trail right there in the snow under the moonlight, and my lungs were heaving so hard it felt like they were going to pop.

And then there it was.

The clear door.
I don’t know how I did it, but I’d somehow managed to race all the way back to the shiny
chamber with the pack of wolves hot on my heels. I could see the clear door right there in front of me, maybe twenty feet up ahead, and I was shooting toward it at full throttle. But as I raced forward I realized with a sinking heart that there was just one problem. I couldn’t afford to stop and open the door, on account of even that one split second it’d take to stop and slide open the door would mean certain death. Because the wolves would instantly be upon me and tear my scaly green ass to shreds.

Well I was scared out of my mind and didn’t know what to do. I figured for sure I was done for. As I flashed forward I decided right then and there that I’d rather die on my own terms than those of these beasts snarling at my backside.

So without much hope I lowered my head and kicked in the after- burners and launched forward, a green blur shooting right at the door. I reckoned it’d be better to die by ramming my head straight into the clear door. Because at least that way I wouldn’t be alive as the wolves gorged themselves on my flesh.

But at the last second, as I prepared to meet my maker, well that clear door suddenly slid open in a flash.

I shot across the threshold. The door flew shut. And I crashed into the far wall of the chamber. Suddenly there were thirty enraged wolves howling and repeatedly lunging at the clear door and slavering foamy drool all over it. I leapt up off the floor, still not quite believing I wasn’t dead.

Then as I crouched there gasping on the far side of the chamber and watched the wolves attack the door, a loud noise exploded inside the chamber.

Poof!


I watched in shock as two gigantic green webbed feet materialized out of thin air right in front of me. And these two webbed feet had deadly-looking toe claws protruding out of them. My nostrils instantly flared. Because my snout detected a new foreign scent there in my lair.
 
 
 
 

Author

© Linda Peters
Gabe Hudson is the author of Dear Mr. President, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and winner of the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. It was one of GQ’s Ten Best Books of the Year, The Village Voice’s 25 Best Books of the Year, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch Best Book of the Year, and a New York Times New & Notable Paperback. Hudson was named one of Granta's 20 Best of Young American Novelists. He was a recipient of the Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, the John Hawkes Prize in Fiction from Brown University, and the Adele Steiner Burleson Award in Fiction from the University of Texas at Austin. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, BuzzFeed, The Village Voice, McSweeney's, Black Book, and Granta. He was a contributing writer to Six Feet Under: Better Living Through Death, edited by Alan Ball. For many years, he was Editor-at-Large for McSweeney's. He attended The University of Texas and received his MFA from Brown University. Hudson taught in Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program and was founding Chair of the Creative Writing Program at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea. He died in 2023.
 
Twitter: @gabehudson
Instagram: @gabeghudson
www.gabehudson.com View titles by Gabe Hudson

Books for Women’s History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month in March, we are sharing books by women who have shaped history and have fought for their communities. Our list includes books about women who fought for racial justice, abortion rights, disability justice, equality in the workplace, and more, with insight on their remarkable lives that inspired others to

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