“You’ve lost your sand dragon?” the park ranger repeats.
“Lost. Your. Sand. Dragon.”
“Yes, sir.” Eager to be helpful, I hold up a picture on my phone. “This is him. His name is Scaley.”
The ranger looks at the photo and laughs. “Son, that’s a sand lizard.”
“No, sir.” I hate to contradict people, especially my elders, but the ranger is clearly confused. “Sand lizards are little things, less than twenty-five centimeters long. Scaley is like forty times bigger than that.” I check the math in my head. Yeah, I got it right.
“Uh-huh.” The ranger folds his arms. “Where are his wings?”
My face scrunches in confusion. Wings? “Sand dragons don’t have wings. You may be thinking of storm dragons?”
“Ah. I see. And why did you have this creature in the park?”
“He’s part of the family, sir!” I shrug. “Plus, we needed him to get here. It was too far to walk.”
“Of course. But you lost this huge wingless creature that brought you here?”
“Yes, sir.” Putting the phone into my pocket, I point at the ridge to the south of us. “We camped up there last night. Scaley was there when we went to sleep, but he slipped his harness and was gone when we woke up.”
“And did you have a permit to have this dragon in the park?” the ranger asks, sounding amused for some reason.
“No, sir. We searched the website and couldn’t find anything saying we needed a permit for him, just that we needed one for camping.”
“And do you have one of those?” His eyebrows rise with the question.
“Yes, but my dad has it. He’s looking over by the lake, although I don’t think Scaley would have gone there. He doesn’t like water much.”
“Right.” The ranger nods sharply. “Because he’s a sand dragon.”
“No, our old sand dragon loved water. I think Scaley may have had a bad experience as a hatchling.”
A movement from the northern sand flats catches my attention and I move around the ranger to see Scaley barreling toward me. He waves his tail merrily and lets out a little roar of recognition.
“Scaley!” I beam at him as he approaches.
The ranger looks behind him. Then he screams. And he runs away. What a strange person.
Image provided by Bliss Morgan at part of her Nightmare Fuel Project