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Zhu curled into a ball, and her body became water, pooling into a puddle around my feet. Two eyes appeared on the surface. “Will this work?”
Kyle fished a bottle out of his backpack. “How do we get her in?”
Suddenly, the pool of water jetted up into a stream that neatly poured into the bottle in Kyle’s hand. He gasped in wonder. “Wow!”
When the water was inside, Kyle dropped in a chewy worm for our guest to munch on. We pedalled to our destination: City Hall. A massive glass pyramid towered over the main square. Just in front of the shiny building, kids splashed in a wading pool and danced around the fountain. Across the street, a juggler entertained a large crowd. We had arrived in the middle of a summer festival.
The water swirled and formed a tiny dragon head. Zhu’s jade eyes stared at the scene of kids playing in the fountain. She burbled, “Amazing! So much water that they can afford to splash in it. What place is this?”
I held up the bottle. “Don’t you have water where you come from?”
“Not this much. I am the seeker of water, and I spend most of my days searching for enough to help the farmers grow their crops. Oh, what is that sound?”
Kyle glanced at the food truck parked behind us. “I’ll bet she hears the mini donuts in the fryer.”
“No,” Zhu said. “The sound is coming from further away.”
“Which way?” I asked.
“Past the fountain.”
We rode our bikes in search of the sound. We pedalled behind the glass pyramid, wheeled by the museum behind City Hall, and headed north. From inside the bottle, Zhu gave us directions in her sing-song voice. “To the right. Straight. Now left. No, right. Keep going straight now.”
We rode past downtown apartments, an empty warehouse and an auto repair shop before old houses started to line the street. We were near my neighbourhood.
No sound came from the shop or the cars parked on the street. “Are you sure you hear something?”
“Stop!” Zhu said. “We’re here.”
Ahead of us sat a railroad crossing for the city’s passenger train. I looked left and right for the source of the noise. Nothing. Then the warning bell at the crossing began to ring and the zebra-striped barricade lowered in front of us. The water began to slosh so much the bottle vibrated.
“It’s getting louder,” Zhu said.
The bottle shook harder.
“One of my kind is here!”
Kyle scratched his mop of red hair. “Is she talking about the train?”
The train rolled past the crossing and headed into the tunnel on the other side of the street. The bottle’s lid popped open and a stream of water shot out, forming into a dragon. Zhu flew after the speeding vehicle.
“Wait!” I cried. “That’s not a dragon.”
She planted herself on the tracks outside of the tunnel. “I hear another one coming.”
Kyle clutched my arm. “We have to get her off the tracks!”