Read Choke: 2 (Pillage Trilogy (Pillogy)) Online
Authors: Obert Skye
Text © 2010 Obert Skye
Illustrations © 2010 Owen Richardson
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher, Shadow Mountain®. The views expressed herein are the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the position of Shadow Mountain.
This book is a work of fiction. The characters, places, and incidents in it are the product of the author’s imagination or are represented fictitiously.
Visit us at ShadowMountain.com
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Choke / Obert Skye; illustrated by Owen Richardson.
Summary: Using his renowned lack of common sense, sixteen-year-old
Beck Phillips gets himself and his friends Kate and Wyatt embroiled in
more dragon adventures, as they discover and hatch the last remaining
ISBN 978-1-60641-653-2 (hardbound : alk. paper)
1. Fantasy fiction, American. 2. Children’s stories, American.
[1. Dragons—Fiction. 2. Magic—Fiction. 3. Blessing and cursing—Fiction.
4. Eccentrics and eccentricities—Fiction. 5. Uncles—Fiction.] I. Richardson,
Owen, ill. II. Title.
Printed in the United States of America
Malloy Lithographing Incorporated, Ann Arbor, MI
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Under Great Pressure
Really White Man
I’m Going Slightly Mad
It Is Late
In Just Seven Days
Don’t Lose Your Head
Don’t Stop Me
Life Is Pretty Real
Father to Son
Rain Must Fall
The White Queen
She Makes Me
Is This the World They Created?
Action Right Now
Put Out the Fire
Waiting for the Hammer to Fall
Stone Cold Wacko
Keep Yourself Alive
The Dragon Attack
Another One Bites the Dust
Was It All Worth It?
“Oops?” he said, repeating what I had just said. “Oops?”
“Sorry,” I tried.
“It was done,” he mourned. “It was over.”
“I didn’t mean to,” I apologized. “Honest.”
“You didn’t mean to what?” he asked sternly, towering over me, the ends of his long nightshirt billowing lightly. “You didn’t mean to find the stone among the millions of stones?”
“Well . . .”
“You didn’t mean to then plant the stone?” he continued, not even giving me a second to answer.
“I . . .”
“It was by mistake that you harvested it?” he said scornfully. “And then, quite by accident, that you raised it and let it loose?”
“Well, when you put it that way, it does sort of make me look bad.”
My dad massaged his forehead as if there were a tattoo there he was hoping to rub off.
“Beck,” he sighed.
“Dad,” I said manipulatively.
“This is on your head,” he whispered. “What the queen pillages will be the work of her talons and your hands.”
I looked at my hands, marveling at all the trouble they were capable of getting me into.
The field on the edge of Callowbrow was filled and students of all shapes and sizes milling around, trying not to look as self-conscious as so many students often did. Callowbrow itself had been torn apart by the dragons, but now many of the repairs were well underway or completed. The school was beginning to look like itself again—the dark bricks jutted out of the green fields and pushed up into the misty sky like scaly beasts. Low clouds crowned the roofs and the high-climbing roses that peppered many of the walls and towers.
I walked quickly through the milling students, holding one end of a very heavy duffel bag. The other end was being carried by Kate. She had reluctantly agreed to help me with what I was calling an “experiment.” I had invited Wyatt to join us, but he had to stay in the library and do some make-up work.
Kate and I pushed through the students and up to a free-standing shop shed. The door was unlocked, and we slipped in unnoticed. I closed and bolted the door behind us. I could still hear students doing student-like things outside. I set the weighty bag on the ground and unzipped the long zipper.
“What is it, Beck?” Kate asked.
“I think it’s some sort of huge ball.”
“Someone gave it to you?”
“Kind of,” I answered.
We pulled it out of the bag and unfolded part of it.
“We need to lift it up and spread it open,” I said, tugging at the thick material.
“It’s huge,” Kate said with awe. “Not to mention incredibly heavy.”
“Baby,” I replied, slightly out of breath. “Listen, if you wanna leave, have at it. The door’s right there.”
I flipped my head back, pointing to the door.
“No way,” Kate whispered. “Someone needs to keep an eye on what you’re doing.”
I smiled, unfolding the thick material further.
“Wyatt should be here,” she added.
“I know. I feel bad for him, missing all this fun.”
“You’re crazy, Beck, you know that,” Kate added. “Abso-lutely crazy.”
I looked down at my hands and thought about what Kate had just said. My hands didn’t look crazy. They looked like normal sixteen-year-old-boy hands. And I didn’t feel crazy. I mean I should have known better, but that was usually the case.
It’s sad, really. You’d think that a sixteen-year-old boy with brown eyes, dark hair, and a mischievous smile, who had lost his mother, been shipped across country to live with his crazy uncle (only to learn he could make things grow and bring dragons to life), and practically ruined an entire town, would know better than to go messing around with things that could cause further amounts of trouble.
“What’s the matter?” Kate asked.
“Nothing,” I said, looking up. “Here, give me that air hose. There’s a nozzle here.”
Kate handed me the thick black hose with the large metal tip. I shoved it into the dusty plastic hole on the bottom of the material. The air hose slowly slipped into the opening, chirping like a sick dolphin. Once in, the two plastic parts seemed to bond, making it impossible for me to pull it back out. I tugged as hard as I could.
“Cool,” I said, smiling. “It fits perfectly.”
Kate continued to unfold the large cloth ball. “You’re going to blow it up in here?”
“There’s plenty of room,” I assured her.
We were in the small shop shed that our school used to teach shop. It was old and sat at the far end of the neatly groomed soccer field. It was one of the few buildings that had not been damaged by the dragons as they had picked apart the town of Kingsplot and, more specifically, the campus of Callowbrow. The shed was relatively empty, with tools lining the walls and a welding tank in the far corner. Near the door was a large air compressor with two silver tanks.
It was the air compressor I had come for.
Two days ago, while searching through a dusty room in the manor I live in, I found an old wooden trunk. After accidentally breaking the lock on the trunk, I stumbled upon what I thought was a massive folded blanket. I was wrong. It wasn’t a blanket. It was a huge folded ball. It was made of red velvet with orange stripes running down it and a valve at the bottom. I thought it was a pretty interesting discovery, but I felt like it would be an even more interesting find once it was blown up. I figured I would blow it up, roll it out of the large doors of the shed, and then all of us at Callowbrow could mess around with it. It seemed like it would make for a fun-filled afternoon. So, I had smuggled the ball to school in a huge black duffel bag. At that point, I recruited Kate to help me fill it with air.
“This is dumb,” Kate said. “This is another one of your dumb ideas.”
I smiled at Kate—she didn’t smile back. I was okay with that. She still looked just fine, what with her long, red hair and deep blue eyes. Her skin was pale—like two-percent milk—and she was wearing her school uniform, which consisted of a plaid skirt, white shirt, and white knee socks.
She was pretty, but I was in no mood to tell her that.
“I’m not doing this,” she insisted, but still making no move to leave.
I smiled. “I think you are. Besides, it will be cool. The school will talk about this for years.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of.”
“It’s going to be fun,” I said with my most convincing voice.
I flipped the switch and the compressor began to whirl and moan. It was loud and pulsating, the thump of it bouncing off the shed walls and pounding my ears.
“It’s loud!” Kate yelled.
“I know,” I hollered back.
The thick fabric of the ball began to puff up. A large fold pushed out, doubling the size of the material. Like a fat wad of velvety dough, the velvet ball began to swell.
“It’s really big,” Kate said needlessly.
She was right, but that was becoming a rather obvious detail. My heart started to race as the ball swelled. My life had been way too calm the past eight months. I could barely remember my life before Kingsplot. My mother, who had really been my aunt, was a memory I had to work on to bring into focus. Her death still hurt, but the sting wasn’t as sharp or as clear as it had once been. And I was thrilled to have discovered my father, but, to be honest, the relationship had a lot of growing to do. He still lived on the top floor of the mansion and came down only when I pestered him. He claimed he knew nothing about raising a son. I agreed with him, but I was willing to help him learn. Two nights ago we had argued over bringing a TV into the huge manor.
“Just one,” I had argued.
“Noise,” was his clipped reply.
Truthfully, the gigantic manor I lived in could use a little more noise. It was still a huge, dark home with hundreds of locked rooms and winding halls with no one to walk its halls but me, Millie, Thomas, and Wane. But, as most adults do, my father had put up a wall and insisted the discussion was over without ever hearing me out. It was later that night that I discovered the ball. I think that’s why I wasn’t too worried about what was happening now, seeing how I could always argue that I never would have even found the ball if I had been safely watching TV.
The material of the ball pushed out again, a long fold popping open like six sleeping bags. My excitement began to feel like fear.
“I don’t think it’s just a ball!” Kate hollered.
The expanding ball was as wide as the shed and rapidly growing taller. I could only see Kate from the neck up now. I watched her scoot back to provide more room for the ball.
“Open the doors!” I yelled.
“I can’t reach them,” she yelled back. “Just turn it off!”
I reached down and hit the switch. The compressor began to scream even louder.
“Off,” Kate yelled, as if I had misunderstood her the first time.
The ball sprang open three more folds making it as large as the room. I couldn’t see Kate. Actually, I couldn’t see anything besides the material of the ball pushing into my face as it expanded even faster. I could hear Kate’s muffled scream and the sound of someone violently rattling the doors to the shed trying to get in. I reached down to hit the switch again, but I could no longer reach it.