After their morning shift, Nathanial and the two girls had a surprise for Marc and Joel. When the two boys finished cleaning up, they found their three companions waiting with all their belongings ready to leave.
“Well we found some transportation,” informed Lily, “but we’re not sure that you’re going to like it.”
“What do you mean, you’re…” started Joel.
“What Lily is trying to say is that we decided, in your absence, in what direction we’ll be going,” interrupted Meribah. “And we have already paid for the transportation by helping to clear a field for the owner.”
So Marc said fairwell to Robert, and thanked him for all the help and lodgings, and gave him his and Joel’s snowshoes, and the five of them were off. Marc and Joel were a little thrown off when their friends lead them away from the ocean and further inland.
“You see,” said Nathanial, “when the snow fell the other night, we decided that we should follow the birds and go south.”
While Marc and Joel sported baffled looks, the other three shared chuckles from some private joke. “Actually,” explained Lily, “We’re going to follow the birds and fly south.”
They climbed up a hill at the edge of town, which turned out to be a plateau. People were still labouring at removing stumps and large rocks from the field, which Joel deduced must be a runway. At the far end of the runway a small mountain rose up, and its sheer face was hollowed to make a cavern. Which was obviously being used as a hanger.
The companions walked towards the hanger and a few of the workers took time to wave at the three conspirators of the group. The ground was fairly hard and packed and would make a good runway when it was finished. Marc could not imagine any plane taking off from it that day. It became bumpy half way down, and the bumps gave way to holes where rocks and stumps had been removed, which in turn gave way to existent stumps and rocks and even trees.
A large form started to leave the cave. “Oh!” said Meribah. “There’s the pilot now.” She pointed toward the cave and everyone followed her stare.
From within the cave came a large form that had hardly any resemblance to an airplane. It had rabbit’s feet, but with long toe nails, and a lizard’s body and head, arms, hands, and tail of a kangaroo, eyes of a doe, and wings of a butterfly. Its whole body was painted green, and the end of its long tail was shaped like a metal tipped spear. All of these mismatched animal pieces fitted together to reach an amazing fifteen meters. Its wings were patterned all shades of lovely green, but they seemed too thin and much too small to allow its owner to fly. What stood in front of the five companions had to be a dragon.
“Verdant,” introduced Nathanial, “meet Marc and Joel.”
“Pleased to make your acquaintance,” said Verdant. “Your friends speak highly of you, and I’m sure that in time I too will speak of you thus.”
“Charmed!” uttered Marc poking Joel in the gut.
“Oh! Yes,” greeted Joel, “Pleased to meet you!” Joel took a deep breath and recomposed himself. “So Verdant, have you offered your service long?”
“Oh not long!” explained Verdant. “Actually this is the maiden flight of Dragonair. But worry you not, conditions are fair and I’m in top shape.”
“How long will it take us to arrive to the mainland?” asked Nathanial.
“Well it all depends on the wind currents, but I expect by tomorrow morning you will be in warmer territory. Is this to your liking?” asked Verdant.
“Oh yes!” said Nathanial. “I’ve never flown before!”
“Well then, let’s be on our way, without further delay, Dragonair is open today,” rhymed the dragon.
Marc looked and Joel, and he at him, and both fainted.
When Marc awoke, they were seated and tied to saddles on the dragon’s back. There were six saddles paired off down Verdant’s back. Nathanial sat in front with no one at his side, Meribah and Lily sat in the middle, and the two boys in the rear.
Well, thought Marc, maybe we can call off this foolishness before he takes to the air. He looked over at Joel, but he was still fast asleep. He was just about to say something when he heard Nathanial yell “CONTACT!!”
Verdant began walking, his steps covered about three meters each. He then switched to jogging, his steps covered five meters. Finally he started running, his steps were impossible to measure as the ground ran in the opposite direction.
Marc looked up and mentally measured how far they had come. They were past the halfway mark, and were near the holes in the runway.
“Uhhh. Ow! That smarts,” shouted Verdant as he stubbed his toe in a rather large hole.
The ground kept racing by. They were about three quarters down the runway now. Stumps, rock, and trees, thought Marc.
Verdant hopped over a rock, then skipped over a stump, then swerved to miss a tree, began to fly so that he would clear some bushes that had not been removed as yet, landed on the other side of the bushes and continued to run, jumped to miss a runway worker, swerved again to miss a large rock, reached the end of the runway, jumped up into the wind, and turned around.
Marc took a deep breath, then looked over Meribah’s shoulder and saw that they were still low to the ground.
Verdant travelled on the air current back down the runway, lifted his feet to clear a tree, started to sink toward the ground, flapped his wings but to no avail, lifted his feet again, but this time they scraped along the bushes that still had not been cleared, sank closer to the ground, then seeing a large rock sticking out of the runway, lowered his right foot and pushed himself higher into the air.
“Boy! Was that ever exciting,” hollered Nathanial.
Towards evening, everyone had become accustomed to dragon-back flying, and had begun to relax and enjoy the sights. They had left the cold current they had be riding on some time ago, and now flew in a much warmer one.
“Verdant,” Joel shouted. “Can you here me? Ver..”
Verdant’s long neck bent around and he brought his head a few feet from Joel. “Yesss?” prompted the dragon.
“I was just wondering, from which planet you came from. Was it earth?”
“Planet? Oh, I thought you knew. No I didn’t come from a planet, I came from the world of dreams. I never existed of substance before I came to heaven. I was only a dream,” giggled Verdant.
“But how can that be?” asked Joel. “If you’ve never lived, then you’ve never died, and if you’ve never died then you shouldn’t be here.”
“On the contrary my dear Watson,” amended Verdant. “I’ve lived a million dreams and I’ve died a million deaths. And as you know, dragons usually play the villain, so I thought I’d never get here. But one day, a young boy had a dream that I was good, and I saved people, I was a hero. And when the dream was over, I found myself here. And God said unto me… Do you like ‘unto me’? I think it sounds poetic. Now where was I? Oh yes. And God said unto me, ‘You who have had the ill fortune to play the role of the villain without any control of your destiny, you have more than earned a place in my kingdom.'”
Joel thought for a moment and asked, “So when people dream of dragons now, who do they dream of, if not you?”
“Yes, that poor soul,” exhaled Verdant in a sorrowful voice. “I wonder how long he will be out there before he is allowed to rest.” With that Verdant turned back to his flying.
After the sun had disappeared, Meribah and Marc traded places in midflight, so that each could be with their mate. Marc laid his head on Lily’s shoulder, and they mentally spoke sweet nothings to each other. Joel and Meribah held hands and both looked up at the stars as if daring them to split them apart. Nathanial sat alone and occasionally looked over at the empty seat. Feeling his loneliness, Verdant talked with him and helped him get through the quasi romantic flight.