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The Next Big Thing

Scales, tails, and social clout

By Vanessa GonzalesPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 5 min read
The Next Big Thing
Photo by Andy Wrights on Unsplash

There weren't always dragons in the Valley.

For ages after the turn of the millennium, the preferred pets were purse dogs, all fluff and eyes, yapping and snapping at people in the line at Starbucks. Hairless cats were en vogue for a bit, with yellow goblin stares and fuzzy sweaters to keep their naked skin warm. They could have fit in a purse too, but you know what cats are like.

It wasn’t until 2025 that the first dragon popped up on someone’s feed.

She wasn’t even a major influencer, at least not at the time. Just a girl called Jordan, who had 11k followers and lived in a rented house in North Hollywood, with three roommates, a French bulldog and, apparently, a miniature death lizard. It looked harmless, like a skink or something. Cute, even. Then one day it spread its little wings and breathed out a puff of smoke right there on TikTok, and the Internet went wild.

Jordan wouldn’t say where she’d gotten it at first. Who wouldn’t want to be the only content creator with her very own #tinydragon? But as her follower count hit 100k, then 500k, then 1M, her thoughts inevitably turned to monetizing the situation. To celebrate her account blowing past Kylie Jenner’s, she posted an affiliate link to an exotic animal breeder—all right, technically a UCLA zoology student who’d been experimenting in his garage, but did it really matter?

Not long after that, everyone who was anyone had a dragon. Then so did anyone who wanted to be someone, and a large contingent of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings fans who were finally living their dream. People got dragon tattoos and bought padded gauntlets and participated in long, vitriolic Reddit threads about the ethical considerations of dragon keeping. It was your basic fad, like succulents or charcuterie boards.

The problem with dragons, it turns out, is that dragons grow. And they do it in spurts, when you’re not looking. On Monday, you say goodnight to your dragon, who is about as big as a small loaf of bread and snugly tucked up on her perch for the evening. On Tuesday, you wake up and find a hole smashed in the living-room wall and something the size of an SUV in your backyard, eating the French bulldog for breakfast.

#Badvibes all around.

By the time anyone realized what was happening, it was already too late. Too many people had acquired dragons, and some of them had escaped, or had been set free when they got too big or their owners got tired of them. They found each other in the wild, and they started mating, and…well, if you’ve seen Jurassic Park, you can imagine what happened next.

Everyone you met had a #dragontale to tell in those days. Fresh blood puddles and scorch marks on the pavement outside Starbucks. Charred, mangled bodies in trees, dropped there by bored dragons on their way back to the nest. Dragon shit falling out of nowhere and hitting the windshields of drivers stuck in traffic at the 405-101 interchange. And let’s not forget the religious weirdos who took it all as a sign, decided their new god was a massive green wyvern called Firewing the Mighty, and started trying to offer their sisters and nieces to him.

The content possibilities felt endless. Never mind those first few reels of Jordan’s pet flapping around the room or toasting a marshmallow on a fork with its breath. A dedicated creator with a halfway decent camera could capture hours of epic dragon video–and the epic sponsorships to go with it.

But here’s a strange thing: Like all other trends, even dragons become commonplace after a while. People get used to them. Interest fades. Before you know it, dragons are just part of living in the Valley, like smog and traffic and earthquakes.

And now here we are.

It’s really not so bad, this balance we’ve achieved. The dragons seem to like the canyons for some reason, and so most of them live there, in caves they’ve hollowed out so they won’t be disturbed by cars or hikers or LAPD helicopters trying to shoot them out of the sky. (The police did attempt that, early on. It was what you might call a #clusterfuck.) They only come out to hunt and sun themselves on warm days, so as long as you stay inside when the temperature goes over 75F, you’ll be fine. Probably.

So if you decide to visit the San Fernando Valley, welcome. Be sure to download the dragon forecast app to your phone. And take it from me, there’s nothing to the rumors you might hear about dragon attacks increasing in the last few weeks. If there were, I wouldn’t be filming this special live vlog for all my Patreon subscribers from the top of 10 Universal Plaza. It’s the tallest building for miles, so maybe it’s a little risky, but in a saturated market you’ve got to keep coming up with new ideas, am I right?

Let me pan around so everyone can see. That column of smoke off to the east? That could be a brush fire, or it could be dragon activity. Hard to say. And down there, a few streets over, that’s definitely the aftermath of some sort of incident. Look, I’ll zoom in on the emergency vehicles–not too close, wouldn’t want to be disrespectful, but just enough to give you a better view. There.


No, it’s all right, I just thought I saw something overhead. No worries, it’s probably a cloud passing over the sun. We do get clouds sometimes, even here, haha.

There it goes again. You know, I might start heading towards the door back into the building, to be on the safe side, but it’s fine. No need to run or anything dramatic, just a nice fast walk, and I’ll keep an eye out as I go.

Thanks for being a subscriber, by the way. Your support makes it possible for me to bring you this type of exclusive content–okay, maybe I will run just a little. Not a run, really, more of a light jog.

See, I’m halfway to the door already. It’s totally fine, I promise. I checked the app before I came out and this afternoon is set to be clear.

Not even a ten percent chance of dr–


About the Creator

Vanessa Gonzales

“Rule one, you have to write. If you don’t write, nothing will happen.” - Neil Gaiman

When I'm not writing, I take photos. You can see them here.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

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    Well-structured & engaging content

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Comments (2)

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  • No Real Balance2 years ago

    Such a fresh, entertaining, witty read which also provides real social commentary. Well done!

  • C Ramsey2 years ago

    Great read, different, funny, entertaining

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