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From the valleys in Peru to the mountains in Patagonia, from the deserts of Australia to the icy plains of Antarctica…every man and every woman…every tribe and every nation…from the youngest to the oldest…has told legendary tales of great and awful flying lizards.  In hushed voices, they tell stories of great winged creatures that breathe fire; creatures that battle courageous warriors; creatures that terrorise villages into sacrificing their women and children; creatures known to spend wayward hours picking their teeth with the bones of anyone foolish or unlucky enough to cross their path. 

However, it is also common knowledge that such dragons are mythical creatures.  These flights of fancy are just nothing but traditional folk lore handed down from one generation to the next, and fashioned in such a manner to amuse and scare children into behaving. 

Dragons aren’t real…everyone in the whole wide world knows it for a fact. 

Pity someone forgot to tell Girard…the dragon that lives in a deep dark cave lost within the mists of the Uitna Mountains. 

 

*        *        *

 

Girard removed his hands from in front of his face, opened his eyes and quickly shut them again.  He then opened one eye, hopeful the awful sight nestling against the wall the other side of his cave had been an apparition.  The brown scaly dragon wished with all his heart that the things he saw were nothing but strange shadows caused by the light effects of the electrical storm raging outside.  He opened his other eye and slumped in resignation when it seemed to him that his worst fears had become realised.

There, no more than ten feet away, in a crevice of his cave was not one, not two but something that appeared to be a family of small brown and pink mice. 

The large dragon shuddered involuntarily at the thought of little brown mice with pink beady eyes, staring at him and waiting for their moment to crawl all over him and attack.

While Girard was deciding if it was possible for him to hide in the dark from the nasty rodents, bright lightening flashed again and his scales were caught in the light and glittered like silver.

The dragon didn’t quite know what to do.  He couldn’t leave the cave because of the fierce storm raging outside and he couldn’t go to sleep because the mice might come and decide to chew on a part of his body. Those horrid rodents might not be able to reach most of his body, but Girard knew that they could still reach his toes.  The dragon lifted one foot and rubbed his toes on the back of his other leg, as he attempted to scratch an imaginary itch.

Girard decided the best thing to do in such an emergency was to cover up his scales.  If they couldn’t see him then he would be safe.  He climbed onto his bed and covered himself with a blanket. The dragon then pulled his feet up; bending his knees, he wrapped his wings around himself as best he could under the blanket.  Girard then leaned on the wall behind his bed and started to think back to his first close encounter with one of these dreadful creatures. 

It happened over 750 years ago, when he was just a young dragonet.  Back then, he and his sisters had a couple of pet bats named Fangs and Jaws. Each day Girard’s father would go out and hunt for small rodents to feed the dragonets pet bats and that night they would all gather around the animal cages and watch the bats eat.  It was quite interesting for the girls, but Girard found it all tiny bit grisly. 

One day at bat feeding time, a little brown mouse escaped and made its bid for freedom.  Girard watched in fascination at the mouse’s antics and quite rightly thought any smart mouse would quietly and quickly scuttle out of the cave and away from the family of dragons as quickly as its little legs could carry it. Inexplicably, however, the mouse ran straight towards Girard, jumped up onto his tail, scampered all the way up his Girard’s back before perching itself on the top of his head.  And then, even more inexplicably, the nasty little thing started to scratch and bite Girard’s head, making him all itchy.

Even years later, just thinking about a mouse on his head made Girard’s scalp start to itch, and the dragon reached up and scratched the spot automatically.  Obviously, Girard knew there was nothing on his head but nevertheless; he shuddered involuntarily at thought of that horrid little creature on his skin.  Of course, Girard was now a grown up dragon and, as such, he had numerous  hard and shiny scales to protect his skin, but the unpleasant sense memory was still around in his subconscious and most likely it would be there for the rest of his life.  That thought alone made the dragon sigh.

Girard stared at the mice nestled together in the darkness.  They seemed to be asleep and so he started to relax.  Poor Girard couldn’t really settle down and relax properly because every now and then the lightening outside would illuminate his cave and as always, it was soon followed by a loud clap of thunder. Girard would then tense up again, and he would continue watching and waiting for the mice to wake up and start their vicious attack.

Suddenly, a large wet mountain lion came rushing into the cave.  The unexpected intruder made Girard’s heart jump because a large cat rushing into his cave was not something that the dragon was expecting.  For the first moment, he wasn’t sure what to do.  He quickly ran through his options in his mind and the only two choices he could come up with were either greeting the large yellow cat or staying quiet. 

The mountain lion shook itself all over, and water droplets landed on Girard and the mice.  Girard looked over at the mice, hoping they hadn’t woken up.   When there was no movement from the little rodents, Girard let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding.  He then rolled his shoulders to release the tension that was building in the top of his wings as he made his decision to greet the lion.

May I help you?”  Girard started.  He wasn’t used to visitors…at least not the nice kind of visitors.  The mice weren’t visitors, he decided.  They were intruders.  The dragon really hoped this cat was going to be a nice sort of visitor, or at least one who left his home without gnawing on any of Girard’s body parts.

The big cat turned its eyes to the dragon.  Girard saw a variety of emotions in the golden cat’s eyes. First he saw fear, followed by anxiety and then settling on interest. 

“Hi,” the Mountain lion simply replied. 

“Umm, I’m Girard,” the dragon introduced himself, “and this is my home.”

“My name is Jasper,” the cat sat, raised a paw in greeting and then glanced around the cave.  “I hope you don’t mind me dropping in like this, but I’m in a spot of trouble.”

“Trouble?”  Girard anxiously pulled the blanket tighter around himself.  “It’s not mouse sort of trouble, is it?”  The last thing Girard wanted was a horde of vicious dragon eating mice invading his home.

“Mouse trouble?”  Jasper tilted her head.  “No.  My trouble is much bigger and meaner than that.”  The lion opened her eyes to emphasise her next statement.  “I have a bear chasing me!” 

“Oh.” 

“Can I stay here for a little while, until that bear decides to stop looking for me?”

“Of course you stay.”  Girard lowered his voice to a whisper.  “But I have to warn you about something.” The dragon took a great deep breath before continuing, “I have mice.” The dragon wrinkled his nose in distaste at the thought of the rodents in the corner.

“I noticed,” Jasper replied, looking directly at the mice in question.  “Are they your pets, or maybe your lunch?”

“Eww!” Girard thought he might be sick at the very idea of mice as pets or even worse, food.

“I can get rid of them for you, if you want.” The big cat licked her lips at the thought of an easy meal

“You can do whatever you want with them, if you can get them out of my home,”  Girard replied earnestly.

Jasper turned and started to stalk over to the mice in the corner of the cave, her mouth already beginning to salivate in anticipation of her next meal.

Suddenly, a loud clap of thunder shook the cave, startling the mice awake.  When the small rodents they saw the big cat heading towards them, they lay still, almost certainly in some form of shock, but then quickly gathered their wits and ran out of the cave, almost in a blur of motion.

“Darn it!” Jasper exclaimed.  “I lose more dinners that way.”

“I’m sorry you lost your dinner.” Girard said sympathetically.  He then climbed off his bed and walked the few paces over to Jasper.  “Maybe you can catch them if you hurry,” the dragon suggested.

“You might be right; they may not have gotten too far away.  And besides, I was getting kind of hungry,” Jasper mused.  She walked to the entrance of the cave and cautiously poked her head out.  “Do you think the bear has gone far enough away by now?” she asked nervously.

“I don’t know,” Girard shrugged his winged shoulders.  “Would you like me to come with you?” he offered.  Girard didn’t mind thunder storms or bears.  It was just mice that gave him the heebie geebies.

“That would be very kind of you, Girard,” Jasper purred her appreciation. “I’d really appreciate your help.”

Girard dropped his blanket, climbed off his bed and walked over to where Jasper was standing.  They two grinned at each other before stepping out into the dark rainy night.

They walked along quietly together.  Both Girard and Jasper had excellent night vision, so they could easily see the terrain in front of them.  Jasper stopped and sniffed the air.  She hoped to catch a whiff of the mice or something else that could be equally delicious to eat.    Girard usually ate lizards, bird’s eggs and an occasional small fox, but in this sort of weather it would be impossible for him to find anything decent for him to eat.  Good thing he had eaten earlier in the day. 

Even though he wasn’t hungry, Girard just hoped they would find the mice before the mice found them.

“Shhh…” The big cat stood completely still, no movement what so ever except for a slight swish at the end of her tail.   Slowly Jasper crouched down, clearly she was planning on pouncing on something that was hiding in the undergrowth. 

The lion was so focussed on whatever was in the scrub, that she didn’t see the bear coming towards her.  Quietly the bear crept closer, all the time keeping his eyes on the big cat.  Just as he was close enough to reach out and grab Jasper, lightening shot an arc through the sky, lighting up the area. 

The bear saw Jasper clear as day, but just behind Jasper stood Girard, with his wings spread out and eyes on fire.

The bear turned quickly and ran as fast as he could away from the pair.

Jasper hadn’t even noticed the bear, but stood up straight when she heard the noise of branches breaking and grass rustling.  The sound became fainter and fainter as the bear ran further and further away.

“Wha…?”  Jasper questioned, knowing something had happened, but didn’t know exactly what it was that actually happened.

“There was something here, but it is gone now,” Girard answered as if it was nothing.

“What was here?” the big cat pressed on with her question.

“Your friend the bear was about to say hello to you,” Girard shrugged, “but I don’t think he will be bothering you again.”

“Are you sure?” Jasper asked warily.

“Yeah,” Girard nodded before changing the subject.  “Hey, did you find those mice after all?”

“Well they were here a second ago, but something scared them off,” Jasper added glumly.

“Never mind.”  The dragon reached out and patted the big cat on the shoulder.

Jasper purred in response.  “I might be able to find them tomorrow, if I’m lucky.”

“Yeah, maybe.” Girard agreed. “Ummm… do you want to come back to the cave?   I might be able to find you a crunchy lizard to eat,” he offered.

“Yes please on the cave, but no thanks on the lizard.”  Jasper shook her head.  “Lizards give me gas.” 

Girard laughed at the thought of a Mountain lion with gas, but he was glad of the company for the evening.  Maybe he could even talk Jasper into staying for a bit longer.  He could always do with someone to talk to and to protect him from those pesky mice.

 

*        *        *

 

From the valleys in Peru to the mountains in Patagonia, from the deserts of Australia to the icy plains of Antarctica…every man and every woman…every tribe and every nation…from the youngest to the oldest…has told legendary tales of great and awful flying lizards.  In hushed voices, they tell stories of great winged creatures that breathe fire; creatures that battle courageous warriors; creatures that terrorise villages into sacrificing their women and children; creatures known to spend wayward hours picking their teeth with the bones of anyone foolish or unlucky enough to cross their path. 

However, it is also common knowledge that such dragons are mythical creatures.  These flights of fancy are just nothing but traditional folk lore handed down from one generation to the next, and fashioned in such a manner to amuse and scare children into behaving. 

Dragons aren’t real…everyone in the whole wide world knows it for a fact. 

Pity someone forgot to tell Girard and Jasper…the dragon and best friend yellow mountain lion, who happen to live together in a cave, high up in a deep dark cave lost within the mists of the Uitna Mountains.

 


I'd like to thank the amazing Rob Hawes for editing this piece and making it much more readable. His encouragement and enthusiasm for me is never ending and he makes me look so much better than I am. I can't thank him enough for who he is and all he does for me. Thank you Rob!!


 

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