Dinosaur Boy Saves Mars

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Authors: Cory Putman Oakes
of white cheese. My stomach gave a displeased lurch, but my tail twitched automatically at the scent of food.
    I motioned to the chair next to me, but my grandfather shook his head and set his plate on the closest kitchen island.
    â€œI’ll stand, thanks,” he said and leaned against the countertop.
    I picked up my fork and tried to look excited. But as I glanced back and forth between the plate of eggy, cheesy fungus and the partially unwrapped turd, I could think of only one thing: I would have given anything for a nice, crisp salad.
    To cover up the fact that I wasn’t eating, I motioned to the other kitchen island. My grandfather had set up a temporary laboratory there. Complete with test tubes, a Bunsen burner, and a couple of gadgety things with wires sticking out in all directions.
    â€œWhat’s all that?” I asked.
    â€œThat is how we’re going to find Sylvie’s dad and Sunder Labs,” my grandfather answered, spearing three mushrooms onto his fork at once. “The things with the wires are devices that track people based on their DNA signature. In theory anyway.”
    â€œDo you know how they work?” I asked, picking up my fork and poking cautiously at my omelet.
    â€œI should hope so. I invented them!” he snorted, with a note of pride in his voice. “Actually, they’re still in the beta-testing phase. Only the short-range one is working at the moment. I’m hoping to get the long-range scanner working by this afternoon.”
    â€œWhat do we do until then?” I asked, still picking through the omelet with my fork, delaying the inevitable first bite.
    â€œOh, I should think you’ll be busy enough today. If I know the Martians, and I think I do, I’d say it’s about to get very crowded in here. How’s the omelet?”
    Unable to avoid it any longer, I took a bite. I had intended to swallow it quickly and then tell my grandfather it was “great.” But my body absolutely refused to comply with this request. I ended up spitting the whole mouthful right back onto my plate. Eggs had never been my favorite. And these tasted like no eggs I had ever had before.
    â€œWhat is this?” I heard myself ask, as Venetio snorted with laughter from the floor.
    â€œOh, you mean the Bruno eggs?”
    â€œThe what?”
    â€œBrunos,” my grandfather explained patiently, “are a species of lizard native to the underground caves of Mars. What? You didn’t think there’d be chicken eggs here, did you?”

Razer No More
    My grandfather was right. By the time I had eaten the Nutri Nugget (which, to my relief, tasted more like chocolate than Venetio had led me to believe) and woken up Elliot and Sylvie, there were ten Martians in the living room.
    They were all surrounding one lone, blue figure. At first, I thought it was Venetio. But then I saw him lurking unhappily in the far corner of the room.
    The other blue figure raised its hand and gave me a small, almost shy wave.
    â€œMs. Helen!” Elliot and I both exclaimed at once.
    â€œOh, that’s right!” my grandfather exclaimed. “I forgot you guys already know Helen Tombaugh.”
    â€œHello, Sawyer,” she said, shaking my hand warmly. I smiled in return, trying to cover up my shock at seeing her without makeup. She was as blue as Venetio. And she was here . I was used to seeing Ms. Helen sitting, more or less permanently, behind her desk in the frigidly cold front office of our school. She always wore sleeveless shirts and had a large fan blowing directly in her face. But now she was standing upright. And wearing a black bodysuit like Venetio’s.
    â€œWhat are you doing here?” Sylvie asked her suspiciously.
    â€œI’m here for the summit,” Ms. Helen answered. “I took a leave of absence from my office job at your school in order to represent Pluto. May I introduce Chancellor Fontana, my Martian escort?”

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