Traffic that Drags-on

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Dragon Driving

“There’d better be a seven-car accident or so help me…”  Alan didn’t finish his threat.  He sat behind the steering wheel of his mini-van and thought of the daycare that charged an extra twenty dollars per kid for every fifteen minutes he was late.  He stopped himself from adding up the bill, knowing it would only anger him more.  He tapped his fingers rapidly on the steering wheel and heard his wedding ring resonate against the imitation wood material.  Right then he heard the Capture Copters fly overhead and he knew what the cause of the delay was.

“Mother flappin’ dragons”, Alan cursed.

He remembered back to simpler times.  Once there was a cool, confident Alan.  That Alan did not have to shave his head every week to hide the fact he was going bald.  The Alan of years past worked out and was an excellent climber, not the guy who still had to pay off this eight-seat gas-gulping glutton.  It was true that the man from ten years ago didn’t have the lovely wife he had now.  Leslie was always kind enough to rub his back just right when he needed, (which he certainly would tonight) but ten years ago he also didn’t have to worry about the scaly predators ruining his evening commute.  He gripped the steering wheel with his thin fingers and yearned for simpler times.

The scientists were to blame.  If those flappin’ eggheads had left the volcanoes alone, none of these creatures would be plaguing society.  Alan understood the need for tapping into geothermal energy.  He even thought that those cool cyber-enhanced suits that the nerds put on to survive the extreme heat were pretty slick.  He could have used one of those to change diapers back when Amy, a.k.a., the unending pooper, was younger.  But why couldn’t they have tapped into the other side of the volcano?  Why did they have to go into that chamber and find those perfectly preserved eggs in the sealed off cave?  Stupid avalanche maintaining a stupid incubator for stupid dragon eggs, Alan thought.

Trying to bring extinct mythical creatures back to life never seemed like a good idea to Alan.  He thought it was a bad idea then and his declining gas tank and the stop and go traffic only confirmed it.  However the public at large had disagreed with him.  Crowds like to cheer for the underdog and there is no greater underdog than a species that had been extinct for thousands of years.  When scientists in different countries took the DNA and either hatched or grew their own animals, the general public was fascinated.  Soon, every major country had an established area for the dragons.  London had the most famous preserve, well known for its foggy and eerie setting and location near fresh ocean water.  Alan had heard from friends in Los Angeles that the dragons seemed to breed extremely fast there.  He didn’t know any details, but had heard something about the smog in the air providing cover and warmth.

For all the fascination that the scaly creatures invoked, Alan was shocked at how little they talked about the downsides of the humongous pests.  First off, the dragons never actually stayed in their flappin’ preserves.   At first, the hippies and the pet-huggers had tried to create open-air zoos.  They thought dragons wouldn’t leave the next.  Morons, Alan thought as a car whizzed by him at twelve miles an hour.  No, the dragons had quickly disproven that notion when they escaped quickly and frequently from the London Zoo of Mythical Creatures, the San Diego Dragon Dome, and the Australian Great Outback and Giant Creatures Exploratorium.  All three had tried to let the dragons fly free and all three spent month recapturing the dragons after almost all their creatures escaped.

Alan had honestly believed that the craze would have died down after that.  He figured that having several small towns entirely torched and thousands of people killed by hungry reptiles or the napalm-like flame would have diminished people’s affinity for them.  He was wrong.  If anything, people became more intrigued.  The dragons became even a bigger part of global culture.  After The Terrible Escape, a new word that had previously been harmless had universally been accepted as a swear word.  Now, every day, Alan heard how, “Fred is so scorched” or “The dentist says I have seven cavities.  Scorch me.”

And of course, like all ill-behaved things that are famous; the dragons got their own television show. The first, and still the most popular, DragonWorld had acquired ratings like no one had ever seen before.  The first season was watched by ninety percent of the viewing public.  It’s spin-off, complete with people who suffered accidental attacks and behind the scene footage, Scorched, was the show that everyone shared clips from.  The censors had tried to block the name from appearing in public, but since it had been a perfectly legitimate word for thousands of years their attempts were jeered and mocked.

A car behind Alan honked in annoyance.  Alan waved him off without looking.  He turned on the radio and listened to the news.  It was exactly as he had expected; a dragon had escaped its enclosure.  Dirigibles; slow moving balloons with floating labs attached beneath them, were kept in constant patrol around dragon enclosures.  The blimps had a special light-weight multi-weave Nomex fabric that was resistant to the dragons’ flames and most of their clawed attacks.  There was still the report every now and then of a blimp going down, but it seemed that as long as the dirigibles didn’t challenge the dragons, they were left alone.

The Capture Copters were a different matter altogether.  Even Alan was impressed by them.  The CCs were fast; amazingly fast.  When a dragon was on the loose, CCs flew straight towards them.  Early attempts to use vertical take-off jets had failed miserably because they simply couldn’t match the dragon’s maneuverability.  Helicopters seemed like a better fit, but they were too slow.  Until they created the CCs.  Using sound-cancelling waves, the machines flew almost silently.  They also had very low emissions, meaning the dragons couldn’t actually detect them unless they saw the CCs.

These frightfully fast choppers were loaded with equipment.  There were metallic nets with weights and hooks fired out of high-powered cannons, there were sedative darts thick enough to pierce through a block of concrete (twice the approximate thickness of a dragon’s scales), and of course, fire-suppressing foam that adhered to any surface and extinguished most flames in seconds.  These tools worked great; assuming the dragons didn’t veer off unexpectedly, which they did quite often.  There were rumors of more powerful weapons on the CCs, but officials had chalked it all up to urban myth.  Alan laughed at the press releases.  He had heard plenty of stories of powerful missile-like devices and massive bullets being fired from the CCs.  He knew that even something as popular as dragons had to have something secretive about them.

To Alan, dragons were just one more hazard in life.  Open air pools were quickly abandoned due to their attraction for escaped dragons looking for an easy meal.  If a dragon was high enough in the air, their scales were shed and sent to the ground at terminal velocity, threatening those below.  The perching on suspension bridge supports, the diving attempts to pluck food trucks from highways; and that was all ignoring the fact that the monsters spewed fire.  Alan simply didn’t get it.  He liked life back when he knew he wouldn’t go to a baseball game and find a dragon trying to eat the players of both teams.  (Professional baseball just wasn’t the same after that summer.  The dragon ate the season’s MVP; why couldn’t it have gobbled the other team’s guy?)

With a lot pffft, Alan saw a net shoot through the air and hit the dragon on the left wing.  It was hardly a bull’s eye, but the dragon starting falling to the ground.  The arc of the creature took it over the highway and then towards the lake.  Right before the dragon hit the water, darkness hit Alan’s windshield along with a loud liquid sound.  He quickly yanked his emergency break with one hand while shielding his face with the other.

A few moments later, Alan slowly uncovered his eye and looked to his window.  He was still alive and the window had held, even though it was covered in cracks and green-brown material.  Oh no…, Alan thought as he got out of his car.  No sooner had his feet hit the pavement when the powerfully pungent smell slammed into him.  The dragon had been so terrified by its capture that it had panicked.  That terror had resulted in it leaving Alan the biggest “present” he had ever seen.

“Well, crap”, he said as he surveyed his car.  He looked and saw the drivers around him.  Half of them were horrified and rolling up their windows, the other half were bursting with laughter.  Alan pulled his phone from his pocket and sighed out of resignation.  Hopefully Leslie’s mother could pick up the kids.  Alan wasn’t going anywhere.

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About anecdotaltales
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

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