I woke from a dream of shaking earth and sirens, and sat up, grumpy. The sirens didn’t stop. Somewhere, there must be a fire. I plodded into the kitchen in my underwear, then turned back to put on my slippers and a bathrobe. Thus armored against cold tile floors, I returned and filled an over-sized coffee mug with coffee. Sugar. Cream.
I looked at the curtained window, wondering what the ruckus was. I sipped my coffee, taking the time to indulge the bleary, half-asleep fog of early waking. Then, with another sip of coffee, I shook off my sleepiness and went to the window. I found myself looking at a red stone wall. Not brick, a kind of glazed stone. It wasn’t flat; the wall curved, and each fitted stone had a curved surface, almost like . . .
“Scales?” I leaned close to the window, peering up. The wall chose this moment to start moving. The thing outside was too big for me to make sense of what I saw until the eye came into sight – that provided my point of reference. This was the creature’s head, and its eye alone was bigger than the window.
“Master?” The voice was so deep that it resonated in my teeth.
I blinked and looked at the coffee. No, I had only just drunk some. This was too fast for drugs, right? Wasn’t it? “Hey, Google.” My phone bleeped. “How long does LSD take?”
“Here are my search results for ‘How long does LSD take.’ ” I looked at the screen. Ten to forty minutes. Too long. No acid in the coffee.
“Master, I see you. You summoned me here. I am here to serve.”
Emergency vehicles surrounded the creature. No, more of it was visible now, it could only be a dragon. The police had cordoned off the street. The fire department was checking the houses he damaged trying to navigate the neighborhood and getting people away. Two men from animal control looked ill-equipped to handle the situation, and stood around with a tranquilizer rifle and a plastic lasso on a stick.
“I didn’t summon anybody.”
“It was fourteen years ago. You called my star and wished for my service. You wished me into existence. I owe my life to you.”
“Fourteen . . . during the meteor shower? Dude, I was six. I don’t have room for you to spread out. How the hell can I feed you? I mean . . . well . . . what the hell do I do now?”
“That, master, is your problem.”
I put my hand over my face and sighed. “Okay, look . . . you’re incredible. I appreciate you, you’re amazing. Maybe we can travel, charge people admission to meet a dragon. Speaking engagements or something.”
“When I received your wish, I thought there would be princesses. And swords. Battle.”
“The world’s not what a six-year-old would wish it to be. Sorry to disappoint you. I’m Joseph. You?”
“Tahelial al te Niallus art Josenkin Sierthal the Brave”
“You know I’ll call you Tahel, right? That’s too much.”
“Tahel it is. I can fly about six hours without rest, and after a good meal, I can breathe fire for almost an hour before running out.”
“You breathe fire?”
I smiled. Transportation, my own dragon, and he breathed fire. Angela would love this. “You know . . . there is a princess. Only my princess. Does that count?
“Excellent. It counts, master.”
“Joe. You don’t get to kidnap her or eat her.”
“Ah. Joe. I will protect her for you.”
“Sit tight and try not to crush anything. I’m gonna go talk to those animal control people and see about getting us out to a farm and getting your meals sorted.”
I smiled to myself as I dressed. I had a dragon. I had a dragon! What the hell was I supposed to do with a dragon? How much did he eat? Following that, how much poop would I have to clean up? If I got him to a farm, I’d be able to feed him, and try to sell fertilizer.
I had a dragon!