Leaves of yellow and orange filled the floor of the forest as a fall breeze swept them gently into the air. The ones that have rooted off their branches dried up quickly leaving a crunch with each step Martha’s scaley feet took. Martha walked in this spot of the forest every day for the last two years. There was no one to bother her- no elves, humans, or dragons like herself. It was calming to clear her mind from the world. Around her stood maple trees losing their blanket of colors to the ground around them. Families of squirrels ran around their trunks as mother birds nested in their branches.
Martha raised her stout to the wind and inhaled the sweet air deeply, letting out a long and relaxing sigh. The realization suddenly came into her mind.
Something in the air was different. She sniffed it quickly, hoping to pick it up again.
She took another breath in- Yes, there was something strange. She began to follow her nose which led her towards a patch of orange poppies covered in a ray of sunlight.
As Martha took heavy steps forward a noise then came out from the flowers- the sound of crying. Martha had never heard the flowers cry before and walked towards them cautiously. She suddenly realized what it was, and her large webbed wings behind her stretched out in defensive panic.
It was a human baby.
Immediately Martha looked around the forest using her dragon eyes to spot any form of movement around her- looking for humans nearby.
There was no one around- none in sight. No smell or noise for miles and miles. Why any human would travel this far out, was a shock to her. This was Dragon’s territory, and the nearest village was 50 miles away- the farmers wouldn’t dare go this far.
But here it was- a human baby.
The baby’s pearl-sized eyes looked at Martha which must have been a ferocious sight to it: A large blue scaled dragon with wings like a bat and four feet like a bear, each edged with sharp spear heads. Her snout would have resembled a bear and her teeth filled her mouth in rows like a shark.
The baby wasn’t afraid and didn’t cry, only continued starring with a curiosity.
Martha put her snout to the baby’s stomach and smelled it. What an odd smell human babies were, she thought. The air from her nostrils tickled the baby- causing it to giggle. The noise made Martha startle before waiting a couple minutes to smell it again. This time, the baby put its small paws onto her large mouth.
Martha smiled which made the baby’s expression suddenly change causing a screeching whine to come out of the baby’s mouth. Martha’s teeth must’ve scared the small human. It was time to go, she thought.
Martha turned around and began to walk away as the baby continued to cry behind her. Something in her struggled at the idea of leaving the baby in the forest. The human baby had no fur or scales to protect it, but only bare skin. It would freeze overnight, she knew, but perhaps the humans would come back before nightfall? She knew otherwise. How it got there was beyond her- she began to think a goblin or some creature might’ve taken it from the human village.
Martha stopped in her tracks. If that were the case then the baby was not safe at all.
Her eyes looked to the sky. This was not a good idea, she thought, but there wasn’t any other choice.
The baby felt the vibrations of steps come nearer and nearer. She saw the creature coming back and suddenly her crying stopped. The blue scaled face came up to her with something in its mouth- a bunch of twigs- which were used to rake her up from the forest floor and cradle her on top of them as the dragon carried her off into the forest.
The Day Before:
The streets of Oceana City filled up with animals of all kinds. It was a dome of a city that hovered in the air hidden from the view of all. It was a city that allowed a certain type of life- a life beyond those of their earthly counterparts. Filled with animals that weren’t afraid to learn more and evolve, to speak to each other, and to work hard for a greater goal.
One of the largest buildings in Oceana City was Baby Delivery Inc where a line of flamingo nurses managed thousands of babies who lay waiting in their cribs. There were babies of all races- humans, goblins, squirrels, hippos, mice, dragons- all sorts nesting in their crib waiting to be delivered to a family in need. These were considered amongst the world as Miracle Babies.
Within the crib numbered 315 lay a human baby who wiggled her hands and feet into the air as a flamingo nurse tickled her belly with her feathers. The nurse went the crib next to it and did the same. The human baby watched as the scaly tale next to her wiggled in the air in delight.
“Almost time, little dragon” the nurse said before checking some boxes off her clipboard.
The human baby began to climb up on the crib’s edge, seeing the tail still wiggling next to her and hoping to play with it. The dragon suddenly caught eye of the human crawling next to her. The skins of each other oddly fascinated them both as they began to touch and poke and play within the dragon’s crib. The human baby then realized there was a ball hidden under the sheets and pulled it out for them to play with it. The human baby accidently threw the ball into her own crib, having missed the dragon’s small arms and legs wiggling in the air.
The young dragon rolled over, desperate for the play thing and climbed over to the neighboring crib to grab it back. Before the human could follow, another flamingo nurse came over and compared the number on the crib to that on her sheet.
“It’s time to create a miracle, little one” she said as she took the human baby into her feathery pink arms.
The baby dragon watched them go, still playing with the ball in her claws.
Marvin, a Stork whose feathers hinted with lines of silver and white, stood in line waiting to clock in to work. The beaver in front of him stepped forward and it was Marvin’s turn to step onto the identification pad. He stepped on top and it highlighted green. It read:
Name: Marvin Tickens
Employment Role: Baby Deliverer
The door in front of him opened and he walked through, allowing the line behind him to clock into work.
Immediately he noticed something different as he walked past a reception desk. Some of his co-workers shot quick glances at him, but said nothing. As he walked down the hall, he began to say hello to some of the workers, but was only met with a nod of the head. He was now wondering if he did something wrong.
“Marvin!” an angry voice yelled out behind him.
He turned around and noticed his immediate Supervisor, a cheetah by the name of Zeek.
“Is everything ok, Mr. Zeek?” he asked as he walked back down the hall towards him.
The cheetah pressed his temples in frustration, “No its not ok, we are going to the Owls office, NOW” he said as he grabbed Marvin’s wing and led him through the labyrinth of halls.
Marvin walked quickly and began to sweat a bit through his feathers. His supervisor was angry, but couldn’t tell him why, and they were going to see the big boss Owl- the Director of Baby Delivery Inc. Something was definitely wrong.
They stepped inside the office and Marvin saw several managers, a crew of woodpeckers, and the Director Owl himself. The woodpeckers were a special ops unit meant for one thing- information and rescue. He now realized what this was now about.
A baby is missing.
Martha tossed the baby playfully with her tale, juggling the giggling human. She had collected some cat tails along the creek and mixed ash with green berries creating a colorful die. She was putting together a shirt like something she seen the adult human’s wear. She pulled her tail over as the baby playfully followed it towards her front feet. She gently laid the baby down and put the one-piece cloth over.
Martha smiled at the toddler which now was wearing an extra-long piece of cloth that was dyed almost the same color of her skin. This would keep the baby warm; she knew.
Another dragon set down a large pile of twigs and sticks which were later to be used for fire.
“You’ve dressed that thing up?” he asked, somewhat annoyed at the idea.
Martha ignored her husband and began to whistle air onto the baby causing it to giggle.
“Martha, you need to put that human back,” said Gregor, “It’s disgusting!”.
She ignored him again which now made him frustrated, “Martha!” he roared, “This is wrong!”
The baby began to cry at the outburst.
“Look what you’ve done, Gregor!” she said angrily.
Gregor walked up to her angrily, “This is NOT your child, Martha!” he yelled, “It’s NOT going to replace Orion!”.
Gregor immediately regretted bringing up their dead son.
Martha shot up on her feet and growled at her husband in anger, “How DARE you!” she yelled, “I was the one who lost Orion at birth, not you! Don’t ever think I’d replace anyone with him!” she screamed. “How about YOU get rid of the baby since your so disgusted!” she yelled.
Gregor tried to calm her down, but was met with an even angrier response. She walked off into the forest, leaving the baby with him.
Gregor sighed heavily. He knew he shouldn’t have brought up their son Orion, and was hating himself for doing such a stupid thing. It was her loss two years ago that made Martha walk into the forest every day. It was a wound that never truly healed with her, with them both.
The baby crying suddenly brought him back from thought.
What was he going to do about this, he thought. Maybe he should fly it to the nearest village. Martha believed that whoever dropped him off will be back for him and in the meantime to keep the baby warm and safe.
He went over to the baby and put his nose up to it, sniffing. The baby stopped crying and began to wiggle his hands over his nostrils.
Maybe she was right, he thought. Maybe they’ll come back. The baby began to giggle as he moved his nose back and forth across the pink belly. It made him smile for the first time in a long time. He sighed and finally understood what Martha was feeling.
She came back later that evening. Gregor went to her and wrapped his neck around hers, apologizing for his outburst. They both agreed that they’ll give it a week- if no humans show up in the area, then they’ll take it to the nearest village. Until then Martha and Gregor will be his parents.
Nearly two days went by before Marvin was called back to the Owls office. The wood pecker unit had traveled to the area of the drop off, but found no sign of the baby. After a bit of recon in the area they had finally found it.
“Dragons” began Sergeant Pecker, leader of the op’s unit, “We had found prints in the forest and my team followed it back to the camp. Seems like two dragon parents are holding the baby hostage” he said, “No doubt saving it eat later”.
The Sergeant filled his face with an expression of disgust and horror and Marvin had begun to think if there was some sort of trauma from the Sergeant’s past that was causing this.
“Poor child- This is now a rescue and replace mission” the Sergeant finally finished.
“Replace?” asked Marvin.
The Owl stepped forward, “Yes, turns out a dragon baby was intended for this couple, but the nurses later found out they had switched cribs” he said, “You, Marvin, will now aid Sergeant Pecker in this mission” spoke the Owl who motioned his head to the woodpecker in a decorated uniform.
Sergeant Pecker rolled over a board with a map on it.
“This area is where the dragons are nesting” he said motioning the red circle to Marvin, “You will carry the dragon baby to their camp to replace the human baby”.
“I’m going to bring the human back here?” asked Marvin.
“No” replied the Owl in somewhat of a delight, “turns out the human baby is to be delivered to a…” he stopped before checking his paper, “Mr. and Mrs. Flocks – two humans who own a farm.”
Sergeant Pecker then circled where the human parents are located on the map- it was the nearest human village 50 miles away.
“Never in my 75 years of working here, Marvin, that I’ve seen such an odd coincidence. Two babies destined to be so close.”
“My team will be nearby” said Sergeant Pecker as he checked his watch, “It’s nearly night fall. Time to go kidnap a baby” he said.
Marvin swallowed hard and nodded. He had to make this right.
Martha and Gregor were sound asleep as the little human baby cuddled around the nest of flowers and soft things around her. Within the darkness around them was a glimmer of white and silver- a tall bird carrying a bundle in its beak carefully coming closer.
Marva began to shift her body as she slept. Each night Martha dreamed of Orion, her son that passed away during birth. She couldn’t imagine his face in her dreams, but a blurry little dragon playing with his dad in the forest. It was a dream of loss, but also hope.
Marvin quietly carried the baby dragon nearer to the den. Luckily the bigger male dragon was snoring so loud to cover any other noise, he thought. It took him a moment to find where the human baby was. Marvin looked at it for a moment, hardly recognizing what he was seeing.
The baby was safe under a heap of flowers, leaves, and soft wool. It was even wearing some sort of garment over it. He realized the dragons weren’t neglecting it at all, but protecting it.
The sound of a twig breaking near him suddenly froze Marvin in his place. He turned around, but didn’t see any movement from the two dragons. He thought for a moment that it was the Special Op’s team surveying the area, and swallowed hard in hopes that it was.
Slowly he laid down the sack from his mouth and out rolled the baby dragon into the soft nest next to the human. Both babies suddenly began to cuddle each other in their sleep, before curling away. Marvin carefully tucked the cloth under the human baby and grabbed both ends with his beak and lifted it up and began to walk back.
A thought suddenly stopped Marvin as he looked down at the human baby and the dragons next to it.
After a few moments he left something tucked under the baby dragon before flying off into the night with a smile edged on the stork's face.
The next morning Martha was nudging Gregor to wake up.
“You have to see this!” she said excitedly.
Gregor lifted his head and even more slowly lifted his body up to see what the morning fuss was about.
His eyes suddenly widened with shock and excitement, “It turned into a dragon!” he yelled.
Martha nestled the baby dragon with her scaly tail. Her heart was pounding and she couldn’t stop smiling.
She handed the note to Gregor which read:
“My deepest apologies Gregor and Martha,
It seems I have made a mistake in your baby delivery. The loving heart and good soul you both possess have destined you a Miracle Baby- this little one you see before you. We at Baby Delivery Inc. will know you will be loving parents. In regards to your recent baby, we thank you for your kind heart in taking care of it. From what our records suggest, the little human actually will be neighboring you- the Farming family who lives 50 miles from your location. Their family will take great care of her, and I know you will take great care of yours.
Sincerely, Marvin of the Baby Delivery Inc.”
They both looked at the little dragon that was starting to dose off into sleep.
“What should we call this little miracle of ours?” asked Gregor who was now resting his nose near their baby.
Martha looked into the trees she’s walked through for so long and smiled, “Let’s call him Forrest”.
12 years later:
When he was old enough, Martha and Gregor showed their son Forrest the letter from Marvin, explaining what had happened when he was a baby. Mr. and Mrs. Flocks, the humans from the village, one day had visited the dragons and showed them their own letter they had received that same night. It was an odd start for these very different parents, but a friendship soon sprung and every year Martha and Gregor would fly to visit the Flocks. Forrest grew a strong bond with their daughter Rose, and would toss a ball back and forth until it was time to go home. Each of them, in their own time and place, would look up to the sky and say: “Thank you for my miracle”.