Dragon Zoo - Londons hottest new tourist attraction in the making!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Dragon Zoo - Chapter 2 - Hatchling Havoc!

We finally got in from school, and I threw my bag and coat down in the hall as usual. I was so tired, there is never a better feeling than shutting the melee of London out behind you when you get back home again. I began to tackle the stairs, the last challenge for my aching legs before I got to my bedroom. Ben had already got his loaned DVD playing in the living room by the time I had reached the landing. You could already hear the loud American accents yelling “oh my god!” at some exaggerated wrestling manoeuvre. It made me laugh most of the time, and even Mum would join in and watch it with him when it was on, but this afternoon I wasn’t in the mood. I just wanted peace and quiet and my bed! I reached my bedroom door and opened it. I didn’t even have time to take in what was going on, something sprung from my bed and flew towards my face. I instantly screamed and jumped straight back out of the bedroom slamming the door shut as fast as I could. My heart was racing and I was scared witless as I heard whatever that thing was thud into the other side of the door. (It would have been quite funny if I wasn’t so terrified!) I didn’t know what the hell it was, but it certainly wasn’t our cat Tammy, who hadn’t moved that fast since I was in playschool! Maybe it was a rat? Can they jump that high? Like, at your face? I had no idea. Spending the evening stuck on the landing wasn’t an option. There was nothing for it, I would have to risk it and look inside. I grabbed the handle of the door and turned it slowly, trying to keep the gap as small as I could, but still allow enough space to see what had just flown at me from inside. It was no use; all I could make out was a thin slither of my bed and the posters around it. Above the sound of my heart banging away furiously in my ear drums I couldn’t hear any movement or any noise from the other side of the door. Maybe whatever it was had hit the door so hard it had been knocked unconscious or was even dead? I would have to find out one way or another. I took a deep breath and swung the door wide open in one fast movement. The thing on the floor was certainly still alive but I had no idea what it was. It sprang back up onto its feet and ran towards my bed emitting a little shrieking noise. It was tiny, about the size of my pencil case and covered in red scaly skin from its head to its long tail which ended in a red point. To my horror, it even had wings like some kind of bat. (Bats really freak me out) As it jumped from the floor it spread its wings and rotated in the air to land neatly on the bed facing me. Its little black eyes were looking me up and down inquisitively. I’d seen enough! I slammed the door shut and slumped down to the floor on the other side, completely out of breath from shock. What was that thing? It looked like a tiny dragon, but that couldn’t be possible! Had Ben put it in there? Was it dangerous? I had no idea but I did know that I had to do something; I sprinted back downstairs to get supplies. I could hear the sounds of the TV blaring and what sounded like Ben doing a pile driver on the sofa as I ran down the hallway towards the kitchen. (It couldn’t have been him then; he’d have been upstairs waiting for my reaction if that thing in my room had been his idea of a joke) I stopped to listen before going into the kitchen; thankfully there were no noises from upstairs, I would have to sort this out somehow in case the situation changed, and quick!

My parents were control freaks, especially my Mum. She couldn’t stand animals (except Tammy) and she would make sure I didn’t have my ears pierced next month as promised if she found out about the thing that was in my room upstairs. I’d have to sort it myself, and before my parents got back if I was planning to stay out of trouble.
I didn’t pause to think where it could have come from at the time, and in hindsight I guess I realised straight away what it was I was dealing with. In emergencies you don’t really do much thinking, you just sort of act on instinct. That’s why I went straight for the oven gloves – they were heat proof - and the welding mask from the garage (flame proof). Oh, and the spatula. I know! You must be reading this thinking spatula?! But what’s worse than finding a dragon in your bedroom? Yeah. Running up stairs with a kitchen knife. So spatula it was. There I stood, armed and ready to deal with this tiny thing probably wreaking havoc in my room, left arm held aloft in the air with the spatula in a suitably threatening position, oven gloves on my right hand and welding mask protecting my face.

I made my way back upstairs, still caught in two minds about whether I should really be doing this. Maybe I could call the RSPCA? What would they do though, except think I was a prank caller and hang up on me? Same goes for London Zoo, and anyway, I didn’t think they did a call out service. So it was totally up to me. I opened the bedroom door. All my limbs seemed to be shaking with a horrible cocktail of fear and exhaustion. (The kitchen weaponry was doing little to steady my nerves.) There it was, waiting for me on my desk, clear as day. A dragon. Its little red face looked angry and its whole body was moving up and down as it drew deep breaths. I could almost make out my reflection in the little beady black eyes that were monitoring my every movement unblinkingly. This was far beyond my brain’s ability to comprehend and digest. I was acting on pure instinct as I moved slowly into the room, my left hand still held high, my knees bent and the oven glove on my right hand. As I took my first step towards the dragon, it instantly took a step closer too, its clawed feet clicking to a halt on the smooth wooden surface. It was dangerously close to my brand new GHD’s on the edge of the desk and I was going to go crazy if it touched them. The anger at the thought of my potentially broken hair straighteners gave me a boost of confidence as I took another step towards it. The little thing held its ground this time, it spread its wings and its nostrils started flaring. I didn’t have time to react, I knew from pure animal instincts what was coming. It squeaked and exhaled, I closed my eyes and uselessly thrust my gloved right hand in front of my face, knowing I was about to be incinerated where I stood. My whole body was frozen with fear but nothing had happened.

I opened my eyes and through the welding mask I could see the dragon standing there on the desk looking slightly confused. It was just looking at me with little wisps of smoke rising from its mouth and nostrils. With all its body it inhaled deeply, squeaking loudly as it opened its mouth again. I raised the oven glove and spatula once more in one of the worst forms of defence imaginable but I had to do something just in case. Fortunately all that came out were little smoke clouds. I took my chance before it could try again, I jumped towards it and pinned it to my desk with my right hand, covering its body completely with the oven mitt. My straighteners were knocked to the floor in the struggle, as I dropped the spatula and used my free left hand to grab it fully. With the dragon now firmly secure in my hands I turned, scanning the room. I could feel the little body wriggling and trying to get free, both its wings trying to force my hands apart. I would have to be quick. Where could I put it? The window was shut. Dammit! It would have been so much easier to have thrown it out the window and pretend I’d never seen it. The thing was struggling like mad, squeaking as it writhed about in my hands. It felt like it was only a matter of time before it would get free of my grasp. I ran downstairs and through the hallway to avoid Ben, the dragon’s little squeaking efforts to escape easily masked by the ongoing mayhem from Ben’s DVD. I scanned the kitchen; there was literally nothing about that I could use to store this shrieking writhing animal. (The kitchen was too clean; Mum never left anything lying about!) What about the washing machine? That did have a lock on the front, but I was looking to safely store the dragon not drown it! Where else? Then it dawned on me, Tammy’s cat carrier in the hallway cupboard! As I turned to run to the cupboard the little animal’s wings caught me off guard and managed to spread to their full extent, forcing my hands completely apart. The dragon was free! It thrust its little wings through the air trying to fly away from me. It was barely moving forwards, all its effort seemed to be used to just keep it airborne, but I had to stop it; I really didn’t fancy my chances of managing to capture it twice in one afternoon. I lunged desperately, both of my feet leaving the floor and arms outstretched. I must have looked like a rugby player as my hands came round each side of the dragon’s body, its wings folded like a concertina under my grip. I landed on my chest on the cold kitchen floor, but when I opened my eyes again the dragon was there, still in my grip! (Ben was missing the real life drama; I reckon my stunt would have looked pretty impressive!) I quickly got to my feet and used my elbow to awkwardly open the hallway cupboard door. I found the cat’s pet carrier and threw the dragon in, locking the door of the cage as the creature flopped down inside, defeated!

I looked inside the cage through the welding mask; the dragon was sitting with its little legs stretched out in front of it with its wings wrapped around its upper body as if to protect itself. They were like a thick leather blanket covered in red scales. It wasn’t moving at all, just sitting motionless looking almost sad in a way. Where had it come from? Was it even real? I didn’t have time to consider these questions however, as the sound of my Dad’s keys in the front door shocked me into action. I picked up the cage and ran into the garage with it, the welding mask falling off behind me as I did so. I couldn’t think where to put it, but I knew I had to hide it. What on earth would my Dad say if he caught me with this? I scanned the garage; Dad’s architecture model occupied most of the available space on a huge wallpaper pasting table in the centre. There were some shelves and also a tool cupboard running the full length of the garage wall. The tool cupboard was the only viable option! Eventually, after much banging and shoving I managed to fit the cage inside the tool cupboard, just about getting the doors closed to fully hide the captured dragon. A little protesting squeak was all that came from the cupboard as I quickly ran back into the kitchen. My Dad called out as he entered the house, “who’s been doing some welding then?” (he’d obviously spotted the mask I’d dropped behind me,) “And why on earth would they be doing it in the hallway?”

What was I going to do? If my Dad found out there was a dragon in the house I’d be in some serious trouble. He was livid with Mum for getting Tammy the cat without asking him first, imagine what he’d be like with me if he found the little red thing in his tool cupboard! What’s worse is I had absolutely no idea where it had come from. I didn’t even contemplate the existence of dragons. I mean, aren’t they just story book fantasy creatures? What if I was going crazy and I’d just shoved a cat carrier into my Dad’s tool cupboard with one of Mum’s red bras inside? What was more likely at this point, me being insane and imagining something or the actual existence of dragons? I was truly exhausted from the walk and probably dehydrated too. If it was all in my head then the last twenty minutes had seemed pretty damn real to me!

My Dad entered the kitchen and smiled at me as he pushed his glasses up his nose. He looked pretty awful in all fairness, probably exhausted from all the walking on the weekend and then a full day at work. Imagine how I looked now! I didn’t have to wait long for the confirmation.

“You look dreadful honey!” he beamed at me as he said it. It was almost as if he was happy to see that he wasn’t the only one suffering.
I tried not to look at him in case my face somehow gave away the fact that I was hiding a dragon in the garage, so I ended up talking more to the kitchen tiles when I retorted, “not as bad as you Dad. Those thick frames on your glasses don’t do a good job of hiding those bags you’re carrying under your eyes. They are so big they’re like suitcases!”

It wasn’t one of my best retorts, but it was a good enough response given the circumstances. Seeing as my Dad was pretty vain I knew it wouldn’t be long before he’d be out of my hair and checking his face in the mirror. Whenever I wanted a peaceful ten minutes to myself, or I needed some girlie time with Mum, it was always guaranteed that we’d be on our own in seconds if we mentioned we may have spotted another grey hair on his head!

He walked over to the sink and poured himself a glass of water. “I’m off for a bath honey; make sure you put that welding mask away before your Mum gets home. I don’t have the energy to invent an excuse as to why that would be left lying around!” He gave me a cheeky school boy grin and began walking back down the hallway to go upstairs. As he went I could hear him mimicking my mother under his breath. “Stephen why would you leave that out? Stephen why are the kids still in their school clothes? Stephen what exactly have you done since you’ve got in from work?”

Mum and Dad didn’t really argue but they did bicker pretty much constantly. I think my Mum likes her own way (as most Mums do) but he never let her bother him and she was pretty forgiving considering all the time he spent in the garage with his architecture models. Oh man! That reminded me, Dad had been working on his model of the Canary Wharf each weeknight for the past two months now. There was nowhere else I could hide that cat carrier. I’d have to make sure he wouldn’t be going in the garage otherwise it would be time for some serious explaining when I had no idea where to start on the answers. (I couldn’t even think of an excuse for the welding mask for Gods sake!) I sprinted to the end of the stairs and shouted up to him, “Dad, what are you up to tonight? Are you working on the wharf model again?”

His voice came from the other side of the bathroom door, muffled over the sound of the running water and difficult to hear over Ben clapping at the wrestling match where I think some poor wrestler was bleeding.

“No chance! I’m not touching work until 9am tomorrow morning. If I’m still in the bath when your Mum gets in tell her we’re watching TV tonight and having a take away.”

Normally take away would be a treat but I was too tired and too stressed to get excited about a curry. I yelled confirmation back up to him as I sprinted back down the hallway, scooped up the welding mask without breaking my stride and jumped back into the garage. I popped the mask back on and opened the tool cupboard once again, peering cautiously inside. The dragon was lying down in the cage and appeared to be sleeping. I got up and ran back into the kitchen, if the dragon was going to stay there all night it would need something to eat and drink. I grabbed a small bowl and began to fill it with water. Suddenly the kitchen door swung open and there was Ben, walking towards me. He didn’t even acknowledge my existence as he made a pre-planned return journey to the fridge to grab a can of Coke. Just as he was walking back past me he suddenly stopped and looked at me. I looked back at him through the dark blue tint of the welding mask. He blinked at me a couple of times with a look of confusion, as If trying to simultaneously figure out what I was doing whilst think of a question. Before he could ask anything however, more screams from the commentators on the TV prompted him to carry on back into the living room. He gave me one last weird look before closing the door behind him. (I had no idea what I would have said to explain the welding mask, so thank goodness he’s a little slow sometimes!) With the bowl now full of water I made my way through to the garage, trying to be as quick as possible but not spill any water as I walked. The dragon was still asleep as I carefully put the bowl of water in, keeping my hand as far away from the sleeping little body as I could. When I returned with a handful of ham from the fridge the dragon had moved to the other side of its temporary home but luckily was still sleeping. He lay in the furthest corner of the cage (I assumed the creature was a he, but at this point I wasn’t keen to double check!), barely taking up any space at all. He was now lying on his back with his little legs in the air, both of his wings were covering his belly like a blanket and his mouth was open with dragon spit coming out. (Good to see even dragons dribbled and I wasn’t the only one!) I left the ham in the cage near the water bowl and closed both the cage door and the cupboard door. It was looking like my impromptu hiding place was going to work for the time being. Thankfully, the tiny creature had barely made any noise since I’d discovered it.

Ok then, with the dragon hidden and fed it was time to try and find some answers. I went up to my bedroom and sat down on my bed, finally! My legs were absolutely killing but I’d stopped noticing for the last hour with all the madness that was going on. It’s so weird that you don’t notice if something is hurting until stop and rest! I pulled my laptop onto my knee, powered it up and started typing away, dragon, dragons, dragon facts, dragon help, dragons exist? Nothing was coming up with anything useful, just the usual expected results of board games, movies and fantasy books. For once it didn’t look like Wikipedia was going to have an answer for me; if the internet didn’t provide results I’d have to figure it out myself. Think! Where on earth could the thing have come from? My window was closed when I left for school this morning as it always was when I was out. But the dragon was in my room waiting for me when I got home. How? I looked around my room ignoring all the usual mess, the random shoes and yesterday’s clothes spread over the majority of my floor. The GHDs were down there still as well, they didn’t look broken thank god! I looked up at the desk to where I thought I’d seen the dragon first fly from, toward my face from not forty minutes ago. That’s when I noticed that the rock which I had kept for myself from the walking trip had completely vanished! I jumped up off the bed almost breaking my laptop in the process as it thudded to the floor. I left it where it was and scanned my desk for clues; the mass of magazines, Ordnance Survey maps and school books covered almost the entire desktop except for one area where the rock had been. I dropped down on all fours and starting checking frantically on the floor under the desk for the missing rock. That’s when I found it. I could see what was unmistakably the rock that I had brought back from Snowdon only with one small difference; it was in about ten pieces.

I picked up some of the bits and checked them out; it didn’t really much resemble rock anymore. Each piece was about a centimetre thick and broken into random shapes. A bit like when it’s Easter and Ben does his party trick of head butting the chocolate eggs whilst they are still in their foil. He would then open it up to get big chunks of chocolate egg to scoff on. One year he did it so hard he got a piece of chocolate egg stuck in his forehead, it was disgusting. I remember them rushing to get the piece of wedged egg out before it melted. (I don’t think he does it anymore!) More importantly though was the revelation I’d just had. It was an egg! I had just inadvertently found and brought home a dragon egg from Wales. Oh my god, I must have a Welsh dragon in my Dad’s garage tool cupboard! It was all starting to sink in, I’d found a dragon’s egg and when I was at school it must have hatched on my desk. It was crazy! Dragons exist and I had one! What was I going to do? It was sleeping in a cage downstairs this very second, and I was holding some actual pieces of dragon egg! Suddenly I was blinded with utter panic as my brain was filled with one unifying horrific thought; I’ve just given my friends dragon eggs and they could be hatching right this second.

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