Thursday, November 27, 2008

Friday Fiction for November 28, 2008

Welcome! I'm privileged this week to host Friday Fiction, and at the end of this piece, you'll find the Mr. Linky widget with links to other terrific works to read on this long, Thanksgiving weekend. Be sure to check out the other submissions, and leave comments. We all enjoy those comments!
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This week's submission was a column I wrote for Collector Times some four years ago, and in keeping with my promise of lighter fare this week, I wanted something humorous and fun. I had originally planned on composing a new piece for this week, but ran out of time with everything else going on.
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Interview with a Dragon
A Collector Times Exclusive
By Rick Higginson

We here at Collector Times go out of our way to enhance your gaming and collecting experience, even if it means we have to make stuff up. This month, I journeyed to the deep forests of Mooselvania to find the lair of a dragon to interview. It was a journey fraught with discomfort, danger, lousy food, and hostile natives, and that was just getting through the airports. No sacrifice, however, is too great to bring the readers of Collector Times an exclusive, so without further ado, I'll transcribe for you this exclusive interview with a dragon.
Collector Times:
Hello?
Dragon:
Over here. Let me light a few lamps for you. (gout of flame strikes and lights up several torches on the walls) You humans have notoriously poor night vision.
CT:
Yeah, but we compensate for it by overconfidence. Anyway, it's a pleasure to meet you. My name is Rick, and I'm with the online magazine, "Collector Times".
Dragon:
(extends a large scaly paw) Kilroy, and the pleasure's mine, I assure you.
CT:
Kilroy? I thought dragons had names like "Vermithrax" or "Smaug".
Dragon:
Hey, at least it isn't "Puff". It's bad enough when every time you run across someone, they say, "Don't tell me, let me guess: Your name's Puff?" It'd be even worse to have to tell them they're right. Besides, having a non-descript name is always better. Fame isn't always a good thing for a dragon.
CT:
Well, anyway, nice place you have here, though I was really expecting a much larger and more, er, decorated chamber.
Dragon:
Decorated?
CT:
You know, treasure, jewels, all that "dragon's hoard" stuff.
Dragon:
(snorts back a laugh) What would I do with treasure? It's not like I can stroll into some mercantile somewhere and spend it.
CT:
I thought you dragons like sleeping on huge piles of treasure?
Dragon:
Listen, there are a lot of myths out there about dragons, and that's just one of them. "Sleep on a pile of treasure"? Think about it. Would YOU want to sleep on a big pile of gold and gems? The dense, cold metal would suck the warmth right out of a body, and the gems would poke into you every time you moved. Just because we have scales covering our bodies doesn't mean we enjoy pain, you know. (lifts up his body a bit) You want to see a dragon's "treasure"? Check out what I'm laying on, here. Go ahead.
CT:
Looks like, what? Rotted hay?
Dragon:
Compost. Who cares about gold and jewels?
CT:
But I thought dragons liked the shiny gold and gems?
Dragon:
Do I look or sound like a simple minded ferret to you, that I should be distracted by something shiny? This lair is dark better than 99% of the time. How is something supposed to be "shiny" in a dark lair? No, I'll take some large hay bales anytime over gold or gems. See, we dragons like our comfort. We're reptilian, so we spend a lot of time relaxing after a meal so that it can digest properly. To do that, we need someplace warm to lay, not a hard pile of cold metal and stone. Feel the ground beneath you here.
CT:
Huh. It's soft and warm. Is there geothermal action beneath this mountain?
Dragon:
No, little man. It's compost, like I already told you. I take organics like hay and straw, work them into the soil of the lair, and let the composting action produce a steady source of heat, not to mention a softer, more comfortable place to sleep. It might not smell as pretty, but a quick dip in the lake will wash away the compost smell. Muscle aches from sleeping on hard metal are much harder to get rid of.
CT:
Ingenious.
Dragon:
Of course.
CT:
You mentioned having to digest after meals. Tell me about your diet?
Dragon:
We dragons tend to be opportunity feeders. Catching a deer or mountain goat unaware makes for a quick meal. Sometimes a dip in the lake brings me near a school of fish which I can snap up some of.
CT:
Deer? Goats? Fish? No young virgins?
Dragon:
Is that old line still floating around? Let me tell you about that one. If we were into eating humans, do you really think we could tell the difference in flavor between a virgin and someone who had already indulged in conjugal relations? You know how that myth got started?
CT:
Well, no. But I'd heard it, and read it in books so often, I figured it must be true.
Dragon:
It was started by a man, trying to wear down his girlfriend's resistance to his advances. Once he convinced her that we dragons have this odd, marked preference for virgins, he was able to offer her a "solution" that would keep her "safer" from our predations. You human males; the extents you'll go to in trying to satiate your mating drive. Of course, once it worked for one man, the story got around and the line was used by large numbers of amorous males. Eventually, even they started believing the line.
CT:
So, if you don't have a marked preference for young virgins, what do you have a marked preference for?
Dragon:
Cantaloupe.
CT:
Cantaloupe?
Dragon:
Did I stutter? Cantaloupe. I love cantaloupe.
CT:
But I thought dragons were carnivores?
Dragon:
No, like you humans, we're omnivores. I already told you; we're opportunity feeders. When game like deer or goat is plentiful, we'll take those. When the produce is ripe, we'll feast on that as well, though we've learned to not get greedy. Landing in some farmer's field in the middle of the night and eating half his crop is a good way to get an angry mob storming up to your lair. Angry mobs can be such a nuisance when you're trying to sleep and digest a stomach full of cantaloupe. Er, not that I'd know that by experience, mind you.
CT:
Of course not. I notice that you're here alone. Are dragons primarily a solitary creature?
Dragon:
Only by necessity. One dragon feeding in a given area can be easily overlooked, but when more than one starts frequenting an area, it draws more attention than we care to endure. A dragon passing through my territory will be welcomed to feed and rest for a short time, but we tend to respect each other's territory and security. We always enjoy a short visit, though.
CT:
So, what do you do when another dragon visits?
Dragon:
If it's another male like myself, we'll discuss current events, debate philosophy, maybe go out and hunt together, and often play games. We especially like playing "Dungeons and Dummkopfs".
CT:
"Dungeons and Dummkopfs"?
Dragon:
It's a fantasy game where dragons get to fight against foolish warriors who think they're going to come into our lairs, kill us, and take our "treasures". It's loosely based on what used to happen many centuries ago before most humans quit believing we existed. It's quite a fun game, you should try it sometime.
CT:
I'll keep that in mind. You said that was if another male dragon showed up. What if the visitor is a female?
Dragon:
Let's just say we dragons don't need lame lines like "humans prefer killing virgin dragons" and leave it at that, shall we?
CT:
Oh, Okay. So, how long has it been since a female dragon visited these parts?
Dragon:
Not so long that you're looking good, as if that were any of your business. Next question.
CT:
Er, right. So, dragons are very long lived, I hear?
Dragon:
That much is true. I am many of your centuries old.
CT:
You must have witnessed quite a bit of human history, then.
Dragon:
I have.
CT:
What would you say is the greatest human invention, to date?
Dragon:
Catsup.
CT:
Ha, ha! Take your time; I'm sure that there must be many human innovations to consider before you answer seriously.
Dragon:
I am serious. Catsup.
CT:
Catsup. Humanity has developed instantaneous electronic communications. We've gone to the moon. We have supersonic flight. We're discovering new medical advances almost daily. Yet, you picked catsup as our greatest invention?
Dragon:
What good are all those other innovations to dragonkind? Catsup, however, can do wonders for an overcooked or undercooked meal. If I get a little too zealous flaming a mountain goat, I can cover up the charred taste with catsup. Old and tough? Catsup. Flame ran out a bit too soon and it's still mostly raw? Catsup. Chased it too long and it got gamey? Catsup. Check with the warehouses. From time to time, they'll end up losing a carton or two of the big restaurant sized bottles of catsup. They always chalk it up to either a miscount, or an employee pilfering some. It's really one of us dropping in at night and resupplying when no one is looking.
CT:
Catsup . . . huh. So, are there many of you dragons about?
Dragon:
Enough of us to be a viable, self-sustaining population. Whether your governments would put us on an "endangered species" list or not is debatable. I'd be surprised if our prospects for long term survival are better than humanity's.
CT:
So how is it that most people don't believe in dragons, and never see you?
Dragon:
I'm sure you've noticed that you humans have a remarkable capacity for willful ignorance and denial. If you think something cannot be so, or you want it to not be so, your minds will tend to ignore any evidence to the contrary. That suits us dragons just fine. If humans don't believe in us, we don't have to worry about people trying to prove how brave they are by hunting us down. CT:
But what about this interview? If you prefer to remain unknown by the bulk of humanity, why did you agree to this interview?
Dragon:
This interview will be received as a joke; a work of your imagination. Humans love fiction. They'll gladly believe in an honest lawyer or a politician that cares, while all the while denying that dragons exist. The few of you who will get past your petty biases to see us are not only no worry to us, you're welcome in our world. Wizards were almost always welcomed in a dragon's lair.
CT:
Wizards?
Dragon:
Oh, wait. You probably have the mythological view of a wizard still. You see, a real wizard wasn't some odd worker of magic. The word itself derived from the Old English, "Wizened". Wise people who realized that we dragons had much to teach humanity would come to our lairs with offerings of food, in exchange for the things we could tell them. Because they came back from our lairs with ideas that seemed almost magical to the common people, and because they not only associated with dragons, but even appeared to have somehow enchanted us, the superstitious among the people thought that the wizards were delving into deep magic. Well, in a way they were. They were actually using their brains to approach problems, instead of simply trying to solve everything by hacking away at it with some crude weapon. By the way, you owe me a large basket of cantaloupe. A few honeydews mixed in might be nice, too. Maybe a carton or two of catsup.
CT:
I'll see to it that it gets delivered here promptly.
Dragon:
Thank you.
CT:
You're welcome. So, wizards were welcomed into your lairs. Anyone else who was particularly welcomed in?
Dragon:
Children.
CT:
Children? Wouldn't they be afraid of you?
Dragon:
No, that's the beauty of it. Adults are the ones who have decided either that we don't exist, or that if we do, we're evil. Children simply see us as big scaly adults who tolerate their endless questions without complaint. Besides that, they see our bodies as big living jungle gyms to climb on. We listen to them, we talk to them, and we're fun to climb on. We're like a grandpa who lives forever. What more could a kid want? It isn't until they start to get older and the adults start convincing them that we're either just a figment of their imaginations, or that we're going to eat them that they quit visiting.
CT:
But that sounds a lot like the song?
Dragon:
You got it. "Puff the Magic Dragon" has a grain of truth in it. Oh, sure, the whole song is a romanticized retelling of it, but the basic plot of the boy who befriends the dragon, only to grow out of it, is true. It's happened many times in most dragons' lives. The only thing we hate about the song is that now everyone thinks we're all named "Puff".
CT:
And I think that brings us full circle back to where we started. Kilroy, I'd like to thank you for your time, and for your patience with my questions.
Dragon:
You're welcome. Just don't forget the groceries.
CT:
This is Rick Higginson, for Collector Times, with Kilroy the Dragon, wishing you another happy month of gaming and collecting.
Dragon:
Drop by sometime for a game of "Dungeons and Dummkopfs". I'm told I run a great dungeon.
CT:
You heard it here, folks. Next time you're in Mooselvania, be sure to bring your dice and drop by. I'm sure you'll find Kilroy as gracious a host as I have.
Dragon:
Bring cantaloupe, too.


5 comments:

Yvonne said...

Ha, Ha, Ha...I loved this! I haven't gotten into scriptwriting. I think I might try it sometime. It looks fun...no worry about settings, only dialogue.

Catrina Bradley said...

I'm glad this was posted as Friday FICTION or I'd be attempted to believe Kilroy. Great entertainment, thanks Hoomi!!

Patty Wysong said...

Oh, now this is a fun one!! I loved it! (and I'm not even a dragon fan!) LoL--gonna have to show this one to my kids--who love dragon tales. *grin*

Thanks tons for hosting this week!! We would've been in trouble if it'd been my turn! LoL.

BethL said...

I had to laugh at the "yeah, but we compensate for it by overconfidence." You have so much fun and many great lines in this!

LauraLee Shaw said...

This was so GREAT!!!! I love this style, and you're brilliant at it! Gonna show it to my kids FOR SURE!