Dude, Is That a Dragon or am I Just High?
This Can’t be Real....Right?
"There weren't always dragons in the valley."
“Dude, stay off the acid! That’s a lizard.”
"No, Josh. It’s got wings. It was flying!”
“Jesus, Nathaniel. Have you never seen a draco before? Those are not wings, they’re just skin flaps. It uses them for gliding. What the hell is wrong with you? Are you sure you're not on something?"
“No man, just that doob we smoked. That’s not gonna make me see imaginary dragons.”
"It does make you listen to Imagine Dragons, though" Josh replied with a wink.
"What's wrong with Imagine Dragons, man?" My grandpa says they were a big hit back in his day."
“You’re grandpa always was a bit weird. C'mon, man, let's go."
“Hey man, don’t talk about my grandpa like that. He's great. You know he took real good care of me after my parents got killed."
Joshua apologized to his lifelong friend Nathaniel. He knows how close his buddy is to his grandfather and sincerely didn't mean any offence.
"Sorry, man. I'm just joking with you. C'mon, let's go exploring," Josh suggested as he headed off the path and deeper into the forest.
“I don’t know, man. Grandpa always told me to stay on the path."
"Oh, come on. Grandpa this, grandpa that. C'mon Nate, live a little. He'll never know if you don't tell him. Besides, isn't he busy plowing the field or something?”
Against his better instincts, and fully aware of the tragic history of his parents being lost and eventually found dead in that very place, Nathaniel reluctantly decided to follow his friend into the forest.
He doesn’t really remember his parents well, as he was only two when they passed. His grandfather, who raised him, told Nathaniel stories of how much they loved him and what great parents they were to him. He wasn’t given much detail on their deaths by his grandpa, only that they got lost in the forest and were caught in a fire. The charred bodies, when found a few weeks later, had to be identified using DNA.
Nathaniel always wondered if there was more to the story. He had heard some tales of wild animal attacks during the time of the Great War and rumours that his parents may actually have been victims of some winged beast, but every time he questioned his grandfather about it he was told they were just that – rumours and fairytales.
"Come on, Nate. Let's go” Joshua yelled from about one hundred feet ahead. He had been eager to explore the forested area of the valley forever and was excited that he may have finally convinced his best friend to join him.
Nathaniel was nervous, though. His grandfather had warned him numerous times not to stray from the well-worn path to the lake. Fear of disappointing his grandpa, combined with an ominous feeling that there was more to his parents' deaths than he was told, left him with a knot in the pit of his stomach. Against his better judgement, teenage curiosity won out as he jogged ahead to join his friend.
When Nathaniel caught up to Joshua a few hundred yards into the forest, he was shimmying up the trunk of a mango tree.
“I got the munchies, man. You want some?”
The best friends sat at the base of the tree enjoying their snack, then decided to smoke another joint before venturing further. Nathaniel felt his concern about his grandfather’s possible reaction fade as naturally as the cloud of smoke he was surrounded by. He jumped up from his seat, eager to get the adventure started.
The boys travelled further into the forest, careful to map a route through the trees using Joshua's pocket knife to leave notches on the bark. They climbed over fallen branches and through bushes until they came to a clearing where they saw something that made them wonder just how stoned they really were.
Near the base of a tree laid the carcass of what may have once been a warty pig. Stripped bare of flesh, with singed bones that seemed to have been burnt with a blow torch or barbequed, the boys wondered how someone could have had a pig roast in the middle of the forest without catching the whole place ablaze. It just didn’t make sense.
Nathaniel’s soothing calm was receding as fast as it came, so he suggested it may be time to turn back. He turned to speak with Josh when his attention was caught by small flickering lights surrounding his friend. Small, winged creatures with a glow of fireflies were flitting around his friend, whose mouth was agape in awe but too frozen to speak.
They weren't fireflies, though. They were much bigger, at least a couple of inches long, and they seemed to have scales.
“I told you I saw a dragon,” Nathaniel chirped excitedly. “Do you see them, Man?”
"Ok, Nate, what the hell was in that joint?”
"So, you do see them? You see the dragons."
“Man, seriously. What the hell was that stuff we smoked? Dragons aren’t real, man. What did you do to me?
“Nothing, Josh. I swear it was just weed. This is friggin’ wild, Dude. Where did they come from?”
The boys stood in joyous awe, surrounded by a band of tiny flying dragons. Still unsure if this was real or if they were just too stoned, they laughed and danced as their wee playmates pitched on their heads, tickled their hands, and pecked at their shoulders, before momentarily flying off and back on again.
Their euphoria was soon interrupted by the sound of crackling branches and the smell of burning brush, when suddenly there appeared a giant winged beast with leathery scaled skin, threatening yellow eyes, and sharp pointed teeth.
MAMA’S HOME! And she’s smoking mad.
Nathaniel grabbed Josh, frozen in fear, and dragged him back towards the forest edge. Joshua felt a wave of heat rising on his jacket, which he tore off and threw to the ground, and could smell the sulphurous odour from his own singed hair as the boys were making their escape. They ran, and ran, and kept running until they reached Nathaniel’s home at the top of the valley, where they threw themselves into the grass and passed out in the field from exhaustion.
“Boys! Boys! Wake up. What are you doing here?” Nathaniel’s grandfather yelled as he stood over them.
The two best friends looked at each other and burst into laughter. With their realization that it was indeed just the weed, they were convinced they had dreamed up this ridiculous happening.
“Where’s your jacket Joshua, and what the heck happened to your hair?” Nathaniel’s grandfather demanded.
Maybe this wasn’t a dream after all, the boys wondered as they stared at each other in silence. Joshua ran his hand through his singed hair, trying to invent a reasonable explanation of how that could have happened, other than what he actually remembered as the truth. He remembered dragons but knew that was impossible.
“How did you get your hair burned, Joshua?”
“Nathaniel, where did you boys go?”
Nate's grandfather was getting angry and demanding answers.
The boys continued to stare at each other in silent trepidation. Fearing his grandfather would be furious with him for disobeying the order to stay out of the forest, and knowing he certainly would not believe the outrageous dragon story, Nathaniel scrambled to come up with an excuse, any excuse. Before he had a chance to form a somewhat credible lie however, Joshua blurted
“Sir, did you know there were dragons in the forest, down in the valley?”
Grandpa's legs buckled as he fell to his knees on the ground. His face turned the whitest shade of pale. His eyes darted in circles. Seemingly overwhelmed with long-buried, unwanted memories that were rushing to the surface; it was a long few moments before he spoke.
“Again?” he murmured barely above a whisper.
Nathaniel picked his chin up off his lap and reattached his jaw with a loud clack before helping his friend squish his protruding eyeballs back into their sockets - splurt. The boys were in shock. Was it possible what they saw was real and not just hallucinations from smoking a couple of ridiculously powerful joints?
“What do you mean AGAIN, Grandpa? Are you actually saying there were dragons in the valley? Are you telling us that what we saw was real?”
"Yes, boys. There used to be dragons in the valley," Grandpa responded. "We thought they all died in the Great War.”
“But how, Grandpa? Dragons are not real. It’s just folklore. I don’t understand.”
"You're right, Nathaniel. But some mad scientist who worked at the university created them by genetic engineering voodoo, and they became real. Don't ask me how he did it. I heard something about bats with lizard DNA and such. Really, I don't know, son.
All I know is that he succeeded and that he was completely nuts. I heard he even tried to turn himself into a cat. He spent the last years of his life in the mental hospital where he died of a broken neck from trying to lick his own ass.”
"Stop laughing boys. It isn't funny," Grandpa admonished. "They even had to bring in a chiropractor to extract the guy's head from his ass before they could perform the autopsy."
“Ok, maybe it is a little funny," Grandpa conceded as the boys were rolling on the grass holding their sides."
"The dragons however are not funny. They didn’t seem like a big deal when there were only a few,” he continued, “but once they learned to mate, they took over the valley and destroyed the ecosystem. There were constant fires in the forest, no fruit on the trees, and all the wildlife eaten or burned. They even started attacking humans when they ran out of food.
That's when the villages decided we had to come together and do something about it. We lost a lot of good people in the Great War, including your parents. When it was over, we thought we had killed all the dragons off. From what you're telling me, it seems we were wrong. It seems we have another war to fight.”
About the Creator
Canadian family girl with a recently discovered love for writing. Other loves include animals and sports.
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
Original narrative & well developed characters
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Expert insights and opinions
Arguments were carefully researched and presented
Hiiii, it's meeee dropping by for a reread, lol!
I love the notion of dragons as a new development.
Ah, this was so much fun!! Loved the humor but also the great suspense. Well done, Cathy :)
I love this interpretation of the prompt! Hearted, liked, subscribed etc 😁
A very fun take on the prompt! I agree with the comments about Grammarly and the talking heads intro but I like your humor a lot!
Thank you. Fun!
Great story Cathy, unique and funny. Left me wanting more
HILARIOUS! I loved this story. Great writing.
That was great, it was funny and interesting. Would love to read more of your stuff.
Funny and unique. Some great story-telling there! Just keep an eye on your grammar. Other then that, loved it! Made me giggle and sorry there wasn't more. You def have talent. :)
Loved this story!
Absolutely love this take on the prompt, Cathy! The humor and the story around it take this in such a fresh, exciting direction. I read this thinking, "I wish I could comment on this," not remembering that Vocal has enabled comments! Wonderful and above all FUN - I love it!
This was creative and funny. Maybe you could run it through Grammarly (to make it even better) as there were some technical issues. Talking heads at first, so be sure to add notes of description. I enjoy your humor. Keep up the good work.
Love your story telling. Thought it was going one way, then was pleasantly surprised by the humor thrown in. Great job!
Way to go Cathy! Mammas home slayed me. lol
Very fun read
That was fun!
Lol, love the title and story gave me a few chuckles! Nicely done
Excellent.. Great flow with twist of good laughter.. 🦋
This is just perfect. Laughed my ass off at how the scientist died.
Well deserved Top Story Cathy , really enjoyed that
Very well done. Now I am not so sure about mine. I need a redo.
I just CANT! Hilarity, heartbreak, and intrigue, action! THIS IS A WINNER!!