I leapt lithely into the air, and aided with a single beat of my wings, I landed on the window's edge. My head fit neatly through the gap between the bars, and after slipping one wing through first, I eased the rest of my body out afterwards. As I was still very young, my bones were still soft, making progress easier on my way to freedom. Then I hesitated and slowly looked back down into the prison. The girl was gazing up at me and I felt a pang of guilt.
In the shot space of time I had come into this world, I knew what it was like to be trapped. True it was thanks to creatures like her I had been put in that mess, but who was I to judge a species I didn't know? Who was I to talk? She was just as mysterious and frightening to me as I must be to the entire human race.
She gasped as I squeezed my way back through the window, dropped to the floor, and trotted up to her. To make my resolve perfectly plain, I sat down, with purpose, on the floor before her.
We're together on this.
"Wow, thanks little guy." the girl murmured.
We waited until a guard came to check on our present status, before bowling him over and with our combined weight and strength and running, flat out, for the exit.
Of course, nature never allows things to be as simple as that, it always has to throw in a surprise. Our surprise came in the form of the alarm being triggered as we burst out the door, alerting prison guards that an escape attempt was being made.
I skidded to a halt, and turned back. Ahead, the girl whipped round, gesturing madly as me to follow - "WHAT ARE YOU DOING! LETS GO! LETS GO!!"
A burning resolve was in my heart that we both get out of here unharmed and alive, and now, that wasn't the only thing that was burning. An ancient instinct in me smoldered deep in the pit of my stomach, like a sleeping volcano waking up to start erupting again. And erupt I did, with orange and yellow flame that spewed from my jaws and nostrils, scorching the prison door.
On the other side of it, the guards jumped back in shock and terror. There was no coming through there for them in a hurry.
The girl cheered me on, for I'd bought us more time, but we had to go now. I closed up my throat and nostrils, stopping up any access to oxygen so that my fires dies out. Then we were running again and soon disappeared from sight.
Soon we were both hiding in a grotty alleyway, thinking the same thing. What now?
"Ok, so listen." the girl told me, "I know you can understand me but we need some way to communicate. Firstly, you need a name."
I huffed impatiently through my nostrils, this was no time for talking. We weren't safe yet. The girl was suggesting names to me but I wasn't paying attention, my eye was on a scruffy-looking stray dog that was dozing in the alleyway, seperated by us by a metal fence. My spirits fell.
I'm going to end up like that, I thought, and I just had to tell Carla.
I concentrated hard, focussing all my energies on a point buried deep in my brain. It was difficult to access, but after some mental 'tweaking' I got it. It was the gift of tongues.
"Ca ... Car - Carla." I stuttered, my growl clearing in my throat until I spoke in English human dialect. Carla blinked and goggled at me, unable to move.
"You can talk?" she faltered. "Why didn't you speak before?"
"I can't talk long, and there are too many questions about me that I have to find answers to. Thankyou for rescuing me, and for being my friend, but I don't want to cause you any more trouble. Goodbye."
I made to leave but she stepped in front of me, barring my way with hands on hips.
"And just where do you plan on starting?" she asked, sternly.
"There was another cage back inside that facility. It might have been for another dragon, an older one, if not intended for me as I grew bigger." I added, bitterly. "I must look into this."
Carla looked dumbfounded.
"You want to go back inside the science lab after I went to all that trouble to get you out? No way, dragon!"
"I have to know how I got here and what my place is in this world."
Carla drew in a breath like she was about to say something, then she fell silent and fiddle with her fingers, looking deeply uncomfortable.
"What's wrong?" I asked, then I suddenly grew suspicious. "Do you know something about me?"
"Don't you know what a science lab's for?" she asked, quietly.
Then the silence was shattered as there came a loud barking and snarling beside us. We jumped out of our skin and skittered away. The dog had woken up; it looked terrified at the sight of me for it didn't know what I was. Its hackles bristled, its tail was low, and its message was only too plain:
Get the hell away from me, you monster!
I didn't even look round, instead running at fill speed across the road, causing complete panic and chaos as gliding metal beasts ("Cars" my telepathic mind told me) screeched diagonally away from me. I heard terrific bangs and crashes as the cars collided with each other behind me, and saw that there were dozens more ahead.
This wouldn't do at all.
I raised my wings from my body, bunched my muscles together and launched myself into the air, wings billowing as they caught the air-currents and beating rhythically as they soared me up above the buildings.
My head and eyes darted this way and that as my inner compass, aided by my telepathy, sought out my destination. The crowds of human minds below were a jabber of alien conversation, many of them talking about strange machines I didn't understand. I phased them out and focussed - Surely one of them knew where the -
"-lab. That animal is classified information, forget the govenment, we don't even want the Prime Minister knowing about this one."
I jerked my neck round and spotted a single stranger far below, speaking into a "public phone". I flashed down from the heavens and landed closeby, careful to stay hidden behind a large, white building. I peered round the corner, and watched as the man entered the white building.
Keeping my body low to the ground, and eyes open for any more panicking people (and dogs), I followed.
Upon sight of the building, and its giant logo boasting 'LOGIC' to the world, I froze.
I had found the science lab after all and immediately set about drinking up theactivity that went on in there.
An onslaught of grizzly information filled my senses: The piercing of surgical needles, the cries of frightened animals, the mingling and manipulation of DNA, and heartbeats of tiny unborns, and DRAGONS.
I tensed and grit my fangs as I homed in on the Dragons.
Blind, wriggling ones slick with mucus from their eggs. But they were not my family. They were not anyone's family. Wait a minute ... They came from no one, they were ...
I snapped out of it and went perfectly still. Shocked and heart-broken. Vaguely I heard the sound of running feet accompanied by a familiar breath and smell behind me. Carla had caught up.
"Don't you ever do that again!" she gasped, breathless and bent-double. I was quiet for a long time, in which litter sporting the 'LOGIC' logo fluttered round me. This place was a mess and so was I.
When Carla's breathing came back to normal, she cautiously approached me.
"We're experiments." I said, very quietly. "We weren't born, we were made. Remade. Our DNA samples were left behind centuries ago and now these scientists have started our race again."
"But that's a good thing, isn't it?" Carla asked, timidly. "You've found more of your kind. You're not alone."
I gave her a look that made her back away.
"We're all alone." I told her, darkly. "We're born alone, we die alone. But us Dragons are far more alone than you. Our time is not now, it ended a long time ago, and you had no right to bring us back so you could play with us like pets."
I was advancing on her now, scattering litter in my wake.
"Stop it!" she told me, angrily. "Your fight isn't with me, it's with them!"
"You? Them?" I fumed, jetting steam from my nostrils in time to the words. "You are them, you're a human being!"
"STOP IT! Pull yourself together! You're not racist, and you're more, so much more than just an animal. You're smarter than I could have ever imagined, and you know that I'm on your side."
I had stopped advancing but was still deeply untrusting.
"How do I know?" I barked, eyes narrowed into slits. "Just who are you, Carla? How do I know you aren't another scientist?"
"Look," She was waving her hands in desperation, "We will have this argument but we can't have it here, someone is sure to see us."
"I'll take that as a 'yes'."
I began whipping my tail around, catching up the surrounding litter, particularly the tin cans, and whacking them in her direction.
She shouted and dodged them, hands in front of her face.
"Enough! Alright, I get it, you're angry! But this isn't helping!" Carla shouted, and I relented, snarling and taking out my rage on a 'LOGIC' tin-can which I crushed in my jaws and threw aside. I yelped as one of the edges cut my lip and I wiped it with the back of my fore-foot.
Carla watched me, apologetically, and waited for another outburst. But quite abruptly, my head drooped, sadly, quite a different dragon from a moment ago.
"I can't stay here." I murmured.
"What do you think I've been trying to tell you the past ten minutes?" Carla cried, "We've got to get away from here."
"No, I don't mean the lab. I mean ... everywhere. This time. This world. Now."
"What are you saying?" Carla asked, turning white. "You sound like you want to die."
I hesitated, neither denying nor confirming her statement. When she started to look more scared I decided to soothe her.
"No, I don't want to die. I want to belong."
She still looked white in the face.
"Carla, it's ok-"
"No, it's not you - It's them ... RUN!"
A metal ring snatched round my neck and tightened like a choke-chain. I gagged as I was pulled round, and spotted my captives:
The scientists had discovered us, one of whom held the metal pole with the ring on the end round my neck (Usually used for catching stray dogs, I read, incredulous at the irony). Only then did I notice the security cameras on the sides of the buildings.
Carla was right, I was a dumb animal!
"Carla, it is one thing to abandon your life's work." The Head Scientist growled, "It is quite another to be so insulting to bring it right back when you feel like it again. This business will not tolerate your behaviour."
I snapped my head round and stared at Carla speechless.
"And I know it all now to be the biggest mistake of my life!" Carla was screaming. "I always presumed these were going to be simple, cold-blooded lizards, but circumstances have changed, Godfrey! They're infintely full of wonders beyond anything we've seen or understood in science - They defy its very laws!"
I could still only stare at her. She had been the one who invisioned all this! But listening to her now ...
One might have expected me to rage and scorch them all where they stood, putting myself in a one-being war against all humanity, but I couldn't.
I looked deep into the eyes of the people around me, and I searched the crazy modern mind of the planet with its blinking machines, multi-coloured medicines, melting ice-caps, and chemical-laden seas.
It was no place for me ... and I had made my choice.
Carla did her best to reason with her colleague as the dragon did anything but fight its restraint as the scienists closed in on it, holding cages and wearing fire-proof suits.
"Please, Godfrey. If you just let me communicate with it and watch!"
Godfrey raised a sceptical eyebrow. The nerve of him after what was before his very eyes!
Then, she felt a strange energy force building behind her and whirled round. She couldn't believe her eyes.
The dragon was glowing, and drawing in something around itself, causing a weird distortion in the air round its body.
The ring round its neck burst away, the pole melting along the end, which the scientist dropped.
All the humans backed off, afraid, but only one of them was wonderstruck, fascinated for what was going to happen next.
"Yes!" Carla whispered, "Escape! Be free! Make yourself so no one here can hurt you!"
They were forced to cover their eyes as the dragon blazed a blinding, white light, and when they looked back ...
He had completely vanished.
There was a moment of silence and total confusion as they all blinked stupidly at the spot it had stood. Then-
"SEARCH THE PLACE!" Godfrey bawled.
Carla didn't move an inch, she only watched with a slight smile as the scientists panicked and ran hither-and-dither. Of course, she too was curious where the dragon had gone.
And all the others as it turned out: The other creatures in the lab, the baby dragons, the mermaids, the unicorns, and all the other medieval creatures they had reincarnated had vanished too.
Carla strongly suspected he had taken them with him. As a brilliant scientist, she could only suspect they had travelled through time, likely back to the dragon's rightful century. Her evidence to back up this theory was that dragon and all had not teleported, as further search for them via helecopters and rador proved unsuccessful.
It was a sad ending to an extraordinary and ground-breaking discovery, but a bitter-sweet ending to a wonderful adventure.