Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Boy and His Dragon (Part 5)

(Here we go again...)

On the third night that the boy and his dragon were bedding down in the same clearing, he reflected on the day's events. Annabella had spent another morning with him and Ambernia. He enjoyed her visit, but was also leery of her. He felt that Annabella preferred his dragon's company to his, and that sparked a bit of jealousy in the boy, an emotion with which he was unfamiliar. Then there was that thing about her father being an ex-soldier. Although, she barely spoke about her father's military allegiance, she did imply he was a loyal Roman. He may have left his command to tend to his family, but there was no doubt that he preferred a soldier's life. And it was that soldier side of her father that caused the boy to worry. The boy regretted having revealed to Annabella how his family had ended.

When he learned that the men in Annabella's family hunted for a living, the boy wished he had not abandoned his archery equipment. When he set fire to his parents home, he had left inside his bow and quiver. It was his archery talents——since age five he could outshoot the best of adults——that caused the death of his loved ones. If he had only held his temper and not killed the Roman officers, his family would still live on. True, his mother and sister had been raped, yet he would rather have them alive and defiled than dead and avenged. He had not held a bow in two years, yet when hearing Annabella brag on her brothers skills, he longed to draw on a target, if only to show off his accuracy to Annabella. The boy was also skilled with a sling. It was the way he has hunted for the past two years. He had the same eye with a sling as he had with a bow, but a sling did not always provide a kill shot. Sometimes the game would recover from the slung projectile and scamper off before the boy could reload and take a second aim. This was alright with the boy, it felt like he was allowing the animal a second chance. Everyone deserves a second chance.

He thought about the killings less and less in the last two years. He had only been eleven when his life had abruptly changed, and he knew he would handle the situation completely differently now that he was the older and wiser age of thirteen. Yet, things being the way they were, he felt he had earned his second chance through his actions since that fateful day. He did not seek out the soldiers who killed his family. To be fair, if he happened on to them he still would demand retribution. He sought them naught, and if it be he that was still sought, he no longer warranted the attention. It was strange that the boy did not fantasize his revenge. It was the symbiosis between the boy and the dragon that created the boy's impassive regard to his past. Had it not been for Ambernia, the boy's thoughts would have tortured him to the edge of sanity; constantly reliving those last days on the olive farm. The boy only had an inkling of an idea on the effect of the dragon. He knew Ambernia had magically mended his broken leg. He did not know Ambernia had also mended his broken psyche.

He weighed his feelings towards Annabella. He was definitely attracted to the girl, yet she appeared not to have the return attraction. She seemed to be more interested in Ambernia than him. He wondered if he could win her over. That was doubtful. Even if he felt equal to Annabella, he believed she thought of his as a child. She was two years his elder. Two years would never be taken into account if they were in their twenties, but being thirteen and fifteen, their maturity was decades apart. At least, that was how Annabella acted towards him. On this second day spent together, she still had not asked his name. The boy felt slighted at this.

While the boy was thinking about her, Annabella was awake in her cabin. She listened to the snores of her brothers as she laid close eyed in her bed. She had told her siblings about riding the dragon that day. They congratulated her, but they did not share in her enthusiasm. They were more concerned about besting each other in their next contest. Quickly, the conversation turned back to which brother would outdo the other on the morrow. Unchecked by their father, the brothers argued for hours until bedtime. Annabella loved her brothers, but at times they could really get on her nerves. Falling asleep to their rhythmic snoring, Annabella began dreaming immediately. In her dream, it was her family who owned the dragon. As her brothers were arguing over which was the better flyer, she hopped on Ambernia's back and was at once soaring over the treetops. It such an exhilarating experience, flying high, free from the bickering of her siblings, high above her father's reign.

Meanwhile, Barnicus was aboard his raft. He did not have to fight the current for his return trip. The fourteen hours traveled to see Lionus, would be shaved down to nine for getting home. He estimated he would be there just around sunrise. He hoped his sons would not be off hunting when he arrived. He would have a different hunt for them tomorrow. His suspicions had been confirmed by Lionus. Either the boy with the dragon was the murdering farm boy, or knew who the murdering farm boy was. He was confident the former would be true. No matter, he would capture the boy and take him to the Roman post in Dacia for trial. Barnicus' reward would be more than just the praise of his loyalty, there may be a monetary reward but Barnicus did inquire into it, his reward would be the dragon. A trained dragon at his beck and call could earn his family more dinarii than his family could spend in their entire lifetimes. Plus, the fame and prestige the dragon would bring would open doors to the rich and powerful. Perhaps Trajan himself would have Barnicus share his table.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Boy and His Dragon (Part 4)

(There is still more of this story left. I'm not going to guess how much is left. I have been wrong three days straight.)

The boy asked Annabella, "Which way did you travel to get here?"

"Same way I came yesterday."

Puzzled, the boy asked, "Did you see me swimming?"

"Yes." Annabella looked at the boy's wet clothes and said, "I didn't know you were swimmming clothed. I was afraid to cause you embarrassment. I see now that I could have stopped and talked to you."

The boy tugged at his wet shirt. "I swim and wash my clothes at the same time."

Annabella shook her head in disbelief. "Well, I thought I would come up here to wait for you. Ambernia took it upon itself to entertain me. I hope you don't mind my riding your dragon."

He did but said, "No. That's okay." He decided to change the subject and asked, "You know, you never told me anything about yourself yesterday. You live around here?"

"A little ways upstream. Not too far."

"Did you grow up here?"

"No. My brothers and I have only been here a little over a year. We joined my father here after our mother died."

"Your father didn't stay at home?"

"When he could. He was a soldier with the troops that conquered the Dacia Kingdom. Once lands were safely under Roman rule, father would find a home and bring us to join him. The bad part was after a month or so of being was under control, father and the troops would move on for further conquests. So we would catch up to father, make a home together for a few weeks, father would leave, and in a few more weeks we would be moving again."

Worried, the boy asked, "So your father is a soldier?"

"Not now. When mother died, he left the service and stayed with us. This is the last place we lived with our mother. I think father wants to stay here because this is where she is buried."

"How did your mother die?"

"She got sick. I think she was sick when we first arrived here, but she kept it to herself. She just got weaker and weaker. Father had already moved on when she passed. He hates himself for not being here. The last couple days she hardly got out of bed. Finally she just went to sleep and died. It was strange when she died, she looked terrible the last few days but when she died, she suddenly had a peaceful look about her. It was like she willed her body to look at peace to make it easier on my brothers and me. I still miss her everyday."

"Yeah, I still miss my family."

"You had it much worse than me. Losing your entire family like that."

The boy shrugged indicating that he knows that the world can be cruel and he can only ride the waves of fate, not control them.

# # # # # # # # # # # #

Around dusk of the same day, Annabella's father approached the sentry. "Hail Trajan," he said and saluted the soldier.

"Who goes here? State your business."

"Am I that easily forgotten? Do you not recognize me, Draco?"

The sentry looked at the man and grinned. "Barnicus! Greetings, friend. Have you come to rejoin us?"

"I wish that was the case. I must tend my children. Perhaps when they can fend for themselves, I will rejoin the ranks. Tonight I am seeking out Lionus. Do you know where I can find him, my friend?"

"His tent is the fifth one to the left. But he may be at the bonfire center camp."

"Yes, it is still too early for Lionus to cease spinning his tales and drinking his wine. I shall find him at the bonfire."

Annabella's father, Barnicus, entered the Roman camp and headed to where the soldiers socialized at the end of the day, the mid-camp bonfire, a place they gathered to exchange conversations and indulge in drink. Barnicus walked up behind Lionus who was talking with another soldier.

Loudly, Barnicus interrupted the two men, "Is that Lionus boasting again of his heroic deeds? How does his mouth find room for the ale when all that bragging is pouring out?"

Lionus spins around to face the intruder. Seeing it to be his old friend Barnicus, he immediately smiles and greets Barnicus with a hug. "Barnicus, my old ally. You have returned to do battle at my side. I should have known you wouldn't keep away."

"Sorry, Lionus, I am here only to visit. Next year may be the time for my return. But right now, I need to talk to you in private."

Lionus lets loose of his friend and excuses himself from soldier to whom he had been talking. He and Barnicus walk off down the row of tents. When they get to Lionus' tent, the two enter and Lionus sparks a light in a lantern. The flame flickers giving an eerie quality to the faces of the men.

Barnicus asks, "Do you remember telling the tale about a farmboy killing officers?"

"Yes, it happened two years back near Neapolis. You were not with us on that?"

"No. I was on furlough with my family. What can you tell me about the farmboy?"

"We never found him. What more do you want to know?"

"Can you describe him?"

"Certainly..." And Lionus gave a description of the boy.

(Okay, it's bedtime for me. More tomorrow.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Boy and His Dragon (Part 3)

(Hope you ain't getting tired of this story. I now know where it is going. With any luck, I'll be able to wrap it tonight. Keep your fingers crossed.)

Annabella followed the river's edge. She walked two kilometers before she veered off onto a path that led back to where she was staying. Within minutes she was back to the cabin that she shared with her father and two brothers. She was pleased to find the cabin empty. The men had not yet returned from their morning hunt. She busied herself chopping vegetables. She placed the cut veggies into water-filled kettle, swung the kettle over the fireplace, and lit a fire. She seasoned the stew with salt and basil. All the stew needed was the meat her father and brothers would bring home with them. She let the stew simmer and went outside to wait for her family's return.

Her brothers were carrying a deer; the deer's legs tied together over a pole and each brother had an end of the pole on their shoulders. Her father, smiling proudly, led the brothers back to their cabin. He was carrying several rabbits banded together and tossed over his back. He also toted the hunting party's bows and quivers. Annabella greeted them under the tree they used to hang and gut game.

Father slung the rabbits on to the table next to the tree. "These," he told Annabella, "are your brother's spoils." He then swept his arm towards the brothers hanging the deer. "That is my morning kill," he boasted. "Your siblings are no match for your father."

Annabella looking at the rabbits said, "My brothers killed three. Father, you have only one."

The brothers quickly joined in to tease their father. "That's right, father. We shot three times as many as you."

Their father joked back, "Well, if you feel that you are the better, then you survive on your kill and I will on mine. We'll see who suffers hunger pains first."

The family jests with each other as they gut and skin the animals. Annabella uses the rabbit meat to add to her stew. After an appropriate cook time, the family sits down for their mid-day meal. In the after dinner talk, Annabella tells her family about meeting the boy and the dragon. Her father takes a particular interest in the story about the death of the boy's family.

# # # # # # # # # # # # #

The boy saddled up Ambernia. The saddle fit the dragon as a collar, it held tight above it's shoulders allowing room for it's back wings to spread out unhindered. Like a horse, the dragon could not be strangled, so there was no discomfort tightening a saddle around it's neck. The weight of the boy in the saddle was centered between the dragon's shoulder blades while the boy's legs wrapped the creature's throat. The horn of the saddle was what the boy held when flying. The dragon did not have reins. Instead, to turn the dragon right or left, the boy would apply pressure with his leg for the direction he wanted to go. To rise the boy would shift his weight backwards. To land he would give two quick kicks with his feet. Even with the commands, the boy would seldom use them. Ambernia would sense the way the boy wished to go, and would travel that way before the command was given.

The boy sat in the saddle. The dragon poised for take off waiting for the boy to decide upon a direction. All their gear and supplies loaded into the saddlebags. Ambernia knew the boy was thinking about the girl. Would he decide to seek her out? Or would they continue on their aimless quest? Finally the boy asked, "Ambernia, do you remember where you got the peaches?" Ambernia flew off towards where it had found the peach tree.

The peach tree grew at the west end of a small garden. At the east end of the garden stood a pear tree. The garden itself produced corn, radishes, carrots, turnips and onions. This garden belonged to Annabella's neighbor. In fact, the turnips, carrots and onions that she used to make stew had come from this garden. Her family exchanged meat for vegetables with the lady who tended this land.

Ambernia hovered next to the peach tree while the boy reached into its limbs to pluck the fruit. He stuffed one saddlebag to its limit with peaches. The boy loved peaches as much as Ambernia loved black olives.

"Let's head back to our old campsite," he instructed the dragon. Ambernia obeyed. It knew the boy was hoping to encounter the girl again. It was a rarity to keep the same campsite for two days in a row.

Back to the clearing, the boy removed the saddle and bags from his dragon. He ate a couple more peaches while Ambernia fed on raw turnips. To pass time, the boy took a couple rabbit pelts from the saddlebags and continued to sew them together to form a hat. The needle he used for sewing was made from animal bone and his thread was thin strips of leather. This would be the sixth hat he fashioned in the past two years. He enjoyed making them but despised wearing them. The finished product would be left behind when the two journeyed on. Unless the girl came back. The boy would be happy to present her the hat. He wondered if she would wear it. He hoped she returned so he could find out.

# # # # # # # # # # # # #

Annabella's brothers were throwing knives at a tree stump to see who had the better accuracy. They always found ways to compete with each other. They were a year apart in age; one eighteen, the other nineteen. Annabella, who was fifteen, was frequently called on to judge. Which brother was stronger, which was faster, which was more agile, which could hold their breath the longest, which could climb higher, which was smarter, which had the harder muscles, which could eat more, which was more handsome, which is the best swimmer... Their individual competitions never tied, yet when looked at in totality, one did not outshine the other.

Throwing out the dish water from cleaning their plates from the evening meal——venison steaks——Annabella shouted over to her brothers, "Will you boys stop that and go and get more water from the stream?"

The brothers agreed, took four buckets and headed to the stream. As they went out of sight, her father approached her and said, "I'm not going with the boys tomorrow. They can hunt without me for a day."

"Oh," said Annabella with surprise, "do you have chores to keep you home?"

"You may have replaced your mother to the boys, but don't start thinking you replaced her to me."

"What do you mean?"

"Do I have chores?!!" he mocked. "You are still my daughter and I do not answer to you."

Annabella hurt by her father's stern retort said, "I'm sorry, father. I did not mean to talk down to you. I was only being curious as why you are staying home tomorrow."

Her father, although quick to anger, was quick to regain calm. "I am not staying home. I have business elsewhere. Annabella, you are my youngest, and female, but I find myself confiding in you rather than my sons. Perhaps that is wrong. Ever since your mother died, it feels like you are the one keeping our little family together. I have a mission tomorrow and I will be gone before you or your brothers waken. I do not wish to tell them tonight about my plans. When the sun rises, you can tell them I went on a task. Tell them I wish them to go on the hunt without me. I should be back by the following morning."

"And you won't tell me more?"

"I will, but not until I return."

"Okay, father, I will send my brothers out by themselves in the morning."

# # # # # # # # # # # # #

The following day, the boy awoke to find Ambernia watching over him. This was how he greeted everyday since he first met the dragon. He said, "Good morning, Ambernia."

The boy went into the bushes to make his toilet. Returning to the camp, Ambernia held out the water canteen for him. He drank several gulps and then took a peach from the saddlebags to eat. He said to the dragon, "I hope we get some meat today. A boar would be tasty, but I would settle for pigeon." The boy sniffed his armpits and added, "I better bathe. Maybe I'll catch a fish while in the water. We haven't had fish in a long time."

The boy walked down the wooded slope to the stream. He removed his sandals and dove in the water. He tried washing his clothes while wearing them. Soon he was enjoying the water so much that he began to swim in circles. He dove to slap the rocky bottom. The stream was barely six feet deep at the center. He spotted a short overhang on the opposite side and swam to it. He climbed out of the water and onto the overhang. He cannonballed the four foot drop back into the stream. He liked it and did it several more times.

The boy spent an hour in the water before returning to his camping area. When he stepped back in the clearing, he found Ambernia riding Annabella on its shoulders without the saddle. Ambernia was staying low to the ground and Annabella was laughing, fully delighted with the ride. The dragon saw the boy and landed. Annabella hopped down and walked over to the boy.

"Good day, sir," she said. "Fine animal you have there."

The boy did not know how to react. He was glad to see the girl, but was also jealous that Ambernia gave her a ride without his permission. The thought entered his head like lightning: 'Is she trying to steal my dragon?' Ambernia, sensing the boys concern, shook his head, no, she would not replace the boy.

The boy smiled weakly and said, "Good day, Annabella. Yes, Ambernia is a fine dragon, one of the best." Behind the girl, Ambernia nodded his head in agreement.

(Looks like I did it again. I am stopping now. I will try to conclude again tomorrow. I hope someone besides me is enjoying this little yarn.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Boy and His Dragon (Part 2)

(If you thought I would leave you hanging, you are wrong. Hopefully, I will conclude the story I started yesterday. Let's pray I can work through any unanticipated plot twists.)

The boy had turned his parents home into a funeral pyre. The fire's shadowplay danced on the trees as he passed. He drove the olive cart and horse into the woods. He did not know or care where he was heading as long as it wasn't anywhere near soldiers. With tears streaming down his face, he disappeared among the trees, never looking back.

Over the next few days, the boy took a northerly zig-zag course always on the less traveled roads and paths. On the fifth day of his flight, the boy found himself on one of the most uneven, bumpy paths of his life. A snake appeared and startled the horse. The horse reared up, the wagon twisting up and to the side tossing the boy to the ground. The animal's halter snapped in two freeing the cart to overturn atop the boy. The boy's right leg received the bulk of the wagon weight breaking the femur. Black olives spilled out half covering the boy. Excruciating pain caused the boy to lose consciousness.

Some time later, he came to, covered in sweat. Any movement sent torrents of pain to his leg. The broken bone also upset his stomach. He retched up the olives he had eaten earlier. Empty of food, he threw up bile. The nasty taste and smell caused him to pass out again.

In the middle of the night, the boy woke up in a fever. He had the shakes which caused his leg to scream in agony. He had been trapped under the cart for over twelve hours and not a single person had found him. He cried because of the pain, because he was trapped under the wagon, but mostly because of the loss of his family. His mind kept showing images of his father and mother, his sister and her groom lying butchered on the floor. He cried and shivered with intense pain until he passed out one last time. Two hours after the dawn, the dragon found him.

Two years had passed. The boy still had occasional nightmares about the slaughter of his family, but for the most part, the boy was content traveling with Ambernia. They had not met any soldiers, Roman or otherwise, in all their journey. It was a rarity the boy thought about being wanted for killing of Roman Officers. He did not feel pursued. Occasionally, they would happen upon people, farmers or hunters, but no one paid attention to him. They were generally fascinated by Ambernia. When they did see folk, the boy would jump into Ambernia's saddle and have the dragon fly them away. He would smile and wave at the people who would return the gestures. This was as close as they had come to mingling with the human race. Now you see us, now you don't.

On the day that Ambernia flew the skies seeking food below, and the boy took his canteen to the stream to refill, the boy met a girl. As he approached the stream he noticed a garment thrown over the dry end of a log that laid half in the water. He looked at the stream and saw nobody, so he went to the garment and picked it up. It was a female dress. He looked back at the water in time to see a girl rise out of it. She was coming towards him, twisting the wet from her long hair. She was waist deep when she spotted the boy. Quickly she covered her breasts and lowered herself to shoulder level.

"Who are you?" she demanded.

The boy looked around for his dragon. This was the part where he would hop onto Ambernia's saddle and they would fly off. He had not spoke to another human for two years. He was at a loss for words. Embarrassed he turned and began to hurry off.

"Stop!" the girl yelled.

The boy halted in his tracks. He slowly turned back to the girl.

She said, "You put that back."

The boy suddenly realized he still had the girl's dress in his hands. He walked back to the log and put the garment back where it had been. He stuttered, "S-s-sorry." He was about to turn and go but he remembered his canteen. "Can I fill my water flask?" he asked the girl, his gaze cast skyward.

The boy was younger than her, a year, maybe two, still shy around girls. She knew he was not a threat, so she said, "Fine. Fill it fast and go away." She stayed submerged as the boy filled his canteen and walked back through the thicket. Not even a goodbye. Boys!

The girl waited a couple minutes after the boy had gone before leaving the water. She stood naked on the bank brushing water off her body. When she had dried as much as possible, she picked up her dress and pulled it over her head. As the dress shifted into place around her body, she spotted the boy partway up the wooded slope. His smiling face was visible poking out from behind a tree. When he saw that she saw him, he turned and hurried up the hill.

Back at the campsite, Ambernia sat in front of a pile of peaches, pears, corn and turnips. The boy rushed up to the dragon. He was excited and stated, "You won't believe what I just saw!"

The dragon cocked its head as if to ask 'What?'

"A girl taking a bath! She walked out of the water without a stitch on. You should have seen her. She was beautiful."

Ambernia understood that most species, including humans, have two sexes, male and female. But being neither, it could not understand why one sex would get so excited about the other. And the boy seemed very excited indeed.

"I think she caught me looking at her. I.. Hey! You got some peaches! I love peaches." The boy picked the fruit up and bit into it. Juice flowed from the sides of his mouth over his chin. The boy said through a mouthful of peach, "I saw her titties, I did. Boy, that was something." He swallowed and took another bite. "You should have seen her, Ambernia..."

"Are you talking about me?" came a female voice from behind the boy. The girl walked up to the boy and his dragon. "Are you telling the dragon about my... titties? Is that what you said? Titties?" she asked the boy but kept her eyes on Ambernia.

The boy choked a little and uttered a "Uhhh..."

Ambernia was amused at the situation. His master's face was so red. The girl was acting mad but Ambernia knew she was just having fun at the boy's expense. This was the first time the boy and Ambernia had been so close to another human, yet it felt right. Ambernia picked a pear from the food pile and offered it to the girl.

She took the pear and said, "Why, thank you. Its nice to see at least one of you has manners."

"I.. I'm s-sorry."

She turned to the boy and asked, "For what? For not being hospitable or for spying on my walk out of the water?"

The boy hung his head shamefully. "For both, ma'am."

She decided to let him off the hook. "Okay, I forgive you," she said and waited for the boy to look up at her. When he did, she gave him a smile. She then asked "So where did you get the dragon?"

"Ambernia? We been together for a long time. Ambernia saved my life and we've been together ever since."

The boy then told the story of the olive cart breaking his leg. When he finished, the girl asked him, "Where were you going when the wagon tipped over?"

"I wasn't going any place. I was trying to get away." Then before he could think it over, the boy was telling the tale of the soldiers and the killings. Once he had started talking, he could not bring himself to stop. It felt good to talk with another person after so long. He did realize how much he had missed conversation until now. He was willing to tell this girl, who he just met, all his secrets just for the privilege of being able to converse. A dragon may be a fun companion, but they cannot talk.

After about an hour, the girl got up and said, "My father may be starting to worry about me. I better get back. It's been nice talking to you."

They said there goodbyes and as the girl was almost into the woods, the boy shouted out, "Hey, you never said what your name is..."

"Annabella," she shouted back and then entered the woods.

The boy thought Annabella was a lovely name and then wondered why she hadn't asked his.

(Alright, I lied. This story does not end here. I'll have more tomorrow.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Boy and His Dragon (Part I)

(It's story time again. So put on your jammies, cuddle up in your favorite chair and be ready to embark on a journey through the surreal landscape of my inner mind.)

The morning sun exploded onto the sleeping boy's eyelids forcing him to awaken from his dreams. He squeezed his eyes shut tight craving the escaping serenity of his sleep. He did not wish to wake up. Instead, the new day encompassed his every being; he felt the sun warming his skin, heard the birds singing in the distance, smelled the dew covered grass upon which he had slept, and tasted the dry nastiness of his morning mouth. He squinted open his eyes to see his dragon obediently sitting on it's haunches waiting for the master to rise. The dragon had not slept; it did not need sleep. It had spent the night guarding the boy, vigilant for any intrusion to the boy's rest.

"Good morning, Ambernia. I need some water."

The dragon, Ambernia, turned to where their belongings were piled, grabbed the canteen from inside the saddlebags and offered it to the boy. The boy drank in quick gulps until the canteen was empty. He tossed the canteen back to the pile. He got to his knees and folded the blanket on which he had slept. "How we doing on supplies?" he asked Ambernia.

The dragon looked over at the saddlebags again. It wasn't necessary. Ambernia already knew they had to replenish their food. He looked back to the master and shook its giant head nay.

The boy stood up and placed the folded blanket in the saddlebag. He did a three-sixty, taking in the clearing, searching for the stream he had seen last night. Spotting it, he picked up the canteen and headed towards the water. Taking only a few steps, he stopped and turned back to the dragon. "How about getting us something to eat?"

Ambernia happily agreed, stood, shook out its massive wings and flew up to a height just above the treetops. It began circling in an outward spiral searching for edible vegetation or perhaps a tasty rabbit. The master loved barbecue rabbit. Ambernia could barbecue a rabbit to perfection with one fiery blast through its nose.

The dragons of the world were almost extinct. The last dragons could not reproduce. They were sexless, neither male nor female. They should never have had life. They were born of the abandoned eggs that had sat dormant for eons. The creatures that had laid the eggs were the prehistoric mix of Tyrannosaurus rex and Pterosaurs. A multitude of eggs were buried deep in the earth at Mount Vesuvius. When the volcano erupted in the year 79 AD, the eggs were pushed by lava to the surface. The intense heat revitalized the embryos into incubation and within weeks four hundred and seven dragons were hatched.

The dragons were as easily trained as dogs, but man initially feared the new creatures and killed over half of them before learning that the beasts posed no threat. By the time man was willing to befriend dragons, dragons feared man. Seeing their number so greatly reduced, the dragons shied away from any further contact with man. They broke off into packs of ten or twelve and took to deserted high grounds and desolate caves. The only time they came close to were men might be was when they needed food. They were herbivores with a preference for black olives. When scavenging for food, only one dragon would do so, bringing back whatever booty it found to share with its clan.

The day before Ambernia was named, it was its turn to gather food. It left its cave at dawn with the pack's watchful eyes following its flight as it disappeared into the distance. After two hours of flying, the dragon spotted an overturned olive cart on a remote road. It could not believe its luck; thousands of black olives spilled in one big pile ready to be gathered up and flown back home. It glided down to earth landing atop the overturned wagon.

"Owwwww," came a cry from below.

The dragon looked down and saw a boy was trapped under the cart; the boy's right leg was pinned by the wooden wagon and the dragon's weight had increased his pain. The dragon quickly jumped off the cart and pushed it upright freeing the lad. The boy was unconscious yet still moaned in pain. The dragon noted the unusual bend in the boy's leg. It sensed the bone broken, which was quite a remarkable trick for a dragon who had never studied human anatomy. In fact, it had never encountered a human close up before now. It felt a strange sympathy for the boy and knew it could not abandon the injured youth. The dragon sat down and watched the boy. While waiting for the boy to come around, it helped itself to the black olives, eating them a dozen at a time.

After an hour without seeing the boy wake, the dragon decided to straighten the leg. It took the leg in its hands and pulled and turned until the broken leg looked the same shape as the other leg. The dragon was so intent in the chore that it did not notice the increased sobs of agony the boy emitted. When the dragon looked at the boys face it saw the lad was drenched in sweat but his breathing was not labored anymore, a calm had come over the boy. The dragon took back its place watching over the boy and ate more olives waiting for the human to either rise or die.

The boy did not awaken that day. The dragon knew it was suppose to be back to its cave by nightfall, but it could not bring itself to abandon the boy. It stood guard throughout the night. At daybreak, the boy still had not stirred, yet he no longer moaned and he looked more at ease than the previous day. The dragon knew the boy would awaken, he would not die, so it decided it was time to leave, to gather the olives and bring them to the cave. It hoped the others would be so happy at getting the black olives that they would not scold the dragon for missing its curfew.

There was one thing that the dragon should have known. The pack would abandon their lair at first light. They would fear that the food gatherer who did not return had been captured and would divulge their location to the humans. They would take no chances and be gone at first light. When the dragon finally arrived at its home, its mates had been gone two hours. It then realized what had occurred. It did not have any notion in what direction or how far they may have gone. It would not see the pack again. The dragon cried.

By the afternoon, the boy was stirring. The dragon had returned and was watching him with curious eyes. The first words the boy spoke upon awakening was, "Ow, my leg hurts."

What few humans and dragons knew was the accelerated healing touch dragons possessed. In less than thirty hours, the boy's broken leg had mended as if two months had passed. Also, by straightening the boy's leg, a bond was created between the two. They could sense each others thoughts and emotions. Even though the dragon did not know the language of the boy, it could tell the boy had pain in his leg but it was insignificant, more like a phantom memory of the pain that he had slept through.

The boy was startled when he noticed the dragon. "Wow," he said, "you're huge!" The boy was not frightened in the least. He instinctively knew that the dragon had fixed his leg. He also knew that, even though the dragon was five times his size, he would have to be the one in charge, the protector of the creature. The boy was also struck by the golden coloring of the dragon. So beautiful a shade, a shine of yellow, a rich amber shade. "Amber," the boy said. Then, "Ambernia! That's the perfect name. Do you mind if I call you Ambernia?"

The dragon understood it was being named and readily agreed. It would have a name. How marvelous. It was the only dragon to have one. Ambernia. Yes, that felt right. It would be Ambernia from now until its days on earth were over. It never occurred that the dragon had a name but the boy did not. If the boy did have one, he never revealed it.

Over the next two years, Ambernia and the boy learned each other's story as they traveled across the backwoods of Europe and into Asia. Along the way, the boy, quite talented, made a canteen, a saddle, saddlebags, clothes and other supplies from the hides of animals that he had eaten. Ambernia never ate meat, but was more than happy to catch and cook animals for the boy. Ambernia survived on all sorts of vegetation. It was content to eat grass and leaves if fruit or vegetables were not to be found. It did miss the black olives when they traversed territories where the fruit did not grow.

The reason they traveled backwoods and entered Asia was because the boy was being sought for the murder of two Roman officers. Ambernia understood that the boy had committed a crime, yet it admired the boy for doing so. It wished the aftermath would have been different. The two officers had raped his mother and sister on the day of his sister's wedding. The mistake the boy made was killing the two in front of several soldiers. He had shot the one officer with an arrow through his heart. The other was shot in the neck and slowly bled out. As the soldiers decided to either chase the boy or try to save their bleeding superior, the boy escaped into the olive groves of his parents farm. He hid out for several days before the soldiers finally gave up the search. When he returned to his parents home, he found his entire family dead. His parents and sister had been brutally slashed many times over by the soldier's swords. So were his sister's husband and his brother. Remarkably the groom lingered on. His arms and legs cut off near the torso. They had been amputated with such force that the arteries were pinched shut in the remaining stumps. How he lasted three days was short of a miracle. The last words the groom told the boy were, "Run. Run as far as possible. Six soldiers did all this. They went to get more help to find you. Run..." Then, mercifully, the groom joined his bride in the afterlife.

The boy placed his parents into their bed. He put his sister and new husband in her bed. He put the groom's brother in his bed. The boy would no longer need it. He kissed his parents and sister and set fire to the home. He fled his home in a wagon pulled by the old family horse. The wagon was filled with black olives. His sister had filled this cart. She was fourteen years old and would never be fifteen. The boy was eleven.

(This story will conclude the next time. I need my sleep.)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Monkeying Around

A hand in the bush is worth two in the bird...

Or something like that. Not only do I enjoy mixing metaphors, I enjoy mixing up a metaphor. You can take a drink to a horse but you can't get him watered. A doctor a day keeps the apples away. Living fast in the life lane. Evil money is all the root.

Are those metaphors or idioms? Or could they be both? Taking a horse to water is worth two in the bush. Now that's a mixed metaphor. I think... Is there such a thing as a mixed idiom? How about an idiot's idiom?

The internet does provide the answers if I should look. But that would be cheating. When I tell the Jeopardy answers to my TV, I do not Google the answer first. I derive a smug satisfaction when I get the answer correct and the contestants do not. You should see the way I gloat and stick my tongue out at the Jeopardy players. I yell at my TV set, "You nimrods, I just told you the answer! What the hell is wrong with you?!!" For some reason I assume the people on television can hear me when I talk to them. I don't really, but yet I do. It's like I feel they should have some mental connection to me, even though the program was recorded weeks ago. It's kind of like when I watch The Godfather. I know Sonny is gonna get shot dead at the toll booth, but every time I see it, I warn him not to stop his car. I feel like maybe one of these times he will hear me and avoid the ambush.

Speaking of movies, I saw "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" this weekend. I must say it was well worth my time. I liked the way they reworked the explanation for intelligent apes. In the old 1970s movies, the intelligent apes of the future come back to our time and start the race of smart monkeys. This is a paradox. How can a creature give birth to itself? If time travel was possible, could you go back in time and kill your younger self? If you did, you would not exist to go back and kill your younger self. You would still live. So you could go back and kill your younger self. So you would not be alive to go back in time. Your young self will live on. Et cetera, et cetera...

Anyway, back to this new version of the ape movie. The explanation for creating an intellectual monkey is from pharmaceutical testing. Scientists working on a cure for Alzheimer, use monkeys to test experimental drugs. Thus we are responsible for giving smarts to the apes. That is a more plausible interpretation of how the future will be taken over by apes. Since the reason was reasonable, I was able to get lost in the movie. But why take my word, go see it yourself. If you don't enjoy it, you can put in a requisition to have your time reimbursed or compensated. Of course if choose to have your time given back, then you will have to wait until we complete a functioning time machine so we can send you back to moments before you shell out the bucks for your ticket. Of course, you will have to sign a waiver not to kill your younger self. I've already explained the complications that that could bring.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Spouting Off

The longer I don't write, the harder it is to start up again. Never say I don't challenge myself.

So what have I been doing? I've been wondering what would happen if the Chinese declared the U.S. in fault to the loans. If they evict us, what other country would be willing to take in over 300 million people. Knock, knock, Mexico... Now, how do feel about putting up fences?

Here is an interesting fact: In the last forty years, there have been only two Presidents that had a surplus of money; more money taken in than what was spent. From his fourth year until the end of his office Clinton enabled the country to run at a surplus and George W. Bush inherited that surplus and kept it going for the first year and a half of his presidency. The two Presidents who increased the national debt the most are Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. In the entire history of the U.S.A. there has only been one President to wipe out the national debt. Can you guess who that might be? Here's a clue: Certain tribes of American Indians hate this President so much that they refuse to accept or use the currency that bares his picture. Do not guess George Washington because this country started out in debt. The First Continental Congress had to borrow money from France to finance the American Revolution. The ONLY President to pay off the national debt is pictured on the twenty dollar bill. If you still don't know who I am referring to, go ahead and look at a twenty. I'll wait.

Would you like a solution to America's woes? I have one but you won't like it. Increase the tariff on imported merchandise so that foreign goods will cost more than the same product made in America. Walmart's may go out of business but so what. There will be more than enough job openings in manufacturing and related fields to take in those displaced workers. Sure you will have to pay more for your jeans and DVDs, but you'll have a bigger paycheck to even out the inflation.

Also, we have to quit making gasoline powered cars. Why do we keep manufacturing vehicles that depend on a very limited source to run. Come on, people, this planet only has so much oil! Electricity can be created through solar panels, windmills, waterfalls... hell, you can even hand crank a generator to recharge batteries. I'd rather pay Edison an extra ten bucks a month to drive my car a thousand miles, than five bucks a gallon for every twenty miles. California already has public recharge stations to plug in your car. Detroit also has started building battery recharging depots. I know, hybrid vehicles already exist, we are easing away from gasoline. But not quick enough. All 2012 cars, mid-size and smaller, should run solely on electricity. The technology has been there for decades. Watch the documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?" and shed a few tears.

The soapbox under my feet is starting to break. Guess I better get down before I fall flat on my face. I'll leave you with these parting queries: "Just how fast do hotcakes sell? Can I profit by setting up a pancake stand in front of my house?"