Dragon Zoo - Londons hottest new tourist attraction in the making!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

More story...Chapter 7 sneak peak!

I've been working on my story for some time now and have been very careful to only reveal the first drafts of my first two chapters. (Which I hope you like) But you know when you write down something and you just can't wait to share it? Well, I was writing down some of my exploits when I thought I'd share with you a bit of the action from chapter 7. I'm currently well into chapter ten and approx. half way through my story.

My book will recount the events of how I found dragon eggs, how I rescued my friends and how I survived my encounters with dragons face to face! You will have to buy the full book to read what incredible things have happened to me, but for now, enjoy this snippet...

The jet of flame came a fraction of a second before the ear piercing shriek. I’m not sure which I reacted to first; I physically jumped, ducked and fell to the floor all at once. I felt part of my unlit flashlight make contact with the animal in the air right above me as I covered my head with my hands. The animal had come from right in front of me, it was definitely an attack. You don’t breathe fire at something you want to make friends with. This thing was out to get me! I was on my hands and knees on the cold wet floor and all I could hear was the sound of dripping water in the darkness nearby otherwise it was silent. There were no sounds from the animal. The dragon would be right behind me if it had flown in a straight line but I couldn’t be sure. Was it worth turning the torch back on to check? Maybe stay still in the dark again and listen? I steadily rose back onto my feet, thinking that it would be a more agile position to be in. I tried to control my breathing, desperately trying to keep my location in the dark room unknown to the animal. As I stood there with no light and no clue to the dragon’s whereabouts I was suddenly struck with a very scary thought.

Maybe it can see me even without my torch on.

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Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Dragon Zoo - Chapter 2 - Hatchling Havoc!

We finally got in from school, and I threw my bag and coat down in the hall as usual. I was so tired, there is never a better feeling than shutting the melee of London out behind you when you get back home again. I began to tackle the stairs, the last challenge for my aching legs before I got to my bedroom. Ben had already got his loaned DVD playing in the living room by the time I had reached the landing. You could already hear the loud American accents yelling “oh my god!” at some exaggerated wrestling manoeuvre. It made me laugh most of the time, and even Mum would join in and watch it with him when it was on, but this afternoon I wasn’t in the mood. I just wanted peace and quiet and my bed! I reached my bedroom door and opened it. I didn’t even have time to take in what was going on, something sprung from my bed and flew towards my face. I instantly screamed and jumped straight back out of the bedroom slamming the door shut as fast as I could. My heart was racing and I was scared witless as I heard whatever that thing was thud into the other side of the door. (It would have been quite funny if I wasn’t so terrified!) I didn’t know what the hell it was, but it certainly wasn’t our cat Tammy, who hadn’t moved that fast since I was in playschool! Maybe it was a rat? Can they jump that high? Like, at your face? I had no idea. Spending the evening stuck on the landing wasn’t an option. There was nothing for it, I would have to risk it and look inside. I grabbed the handle of the door and turned it slowly, trying to keep the gap as small as I could, but still allow enough space to see what had just flown at me from inside. It was no use; all I could make out was a thin slither of my bed and the posters around it. Above the sound of my heart banging away furiously in my ear drums I couldn’t hear any movement or any noise from the other side of the door. Maybe whatever it was had hit the door so hard it had been knocked unconscious or was even dead? I would have to find out one way or another. I took a deep breath and swung the door wide open in one fast movement. The thing on the floor was certainly still alive but I had no idea what it was. It sprang back up onto its feet and ran towards my bed emitting a little shrieking noise. It was tiny, about the size of my pencil case and covered in red scaly skin from its head to its long tail which ended in a red point. To my horror, it even had wings like some kind of bat. (Bats really freak me out) As it jumped from the floor it spread its wings and rotated in the air to land neatly on the bed facing me. Its little black eyes were looking me up and down inquisitively. I’d seen enough! I slammed the door shut and slumped down to the floor on the other side, completely out of breath from shock. What was that thing? It looked like a tiny dragon, but that couldn’t be possible! Had Ben put it in there? Was it dangerous? I had no idea but I did know that I had to do something; I sprinted back downstairs to get supplies. I could hear the sounds of the TV blaring and what sounded like Ben doing a pile driver on the sofa as I ran down the hallway towards the kitchen. (It couldn’t have been him then; he’d have been upstairs waiting for my reaction if that thing in my room had been his idea of a joke) I stopped to listen before going into the kitchen; thankfully there were no noises from upstairs, I would have to sort this out somehow in case the situation changed, and quick!

My parents were control freaks, especially my Mum. She couldn’t stand animals (except Tammy) and she would make sure I didn’t have my ears pierced next month as promised if she found out about the thing that was in my room upstairs. I’d have to sort it myself, and before my parents got back if I was planning to stay out of trouble.
I didn’t pause to think where it could have come from at the time, and in hindsight I guess I realised straight away what it was I was dealing with. In emergencies you don’t really do much thinking, you just sort of act on instinct. That’s why I went straight for the oven gloves – they were heat proof - and the welding mask from the garage (flame proof). Oh, and the spatula. I know! You must be reading this thinking spatula?! But what’s worse than finding a dragon in your bedroom? Yeah. Running up stairs with a kitchen knife. So spatula it was. There I stood, armed and ready to deal with this tiny thing probably wreaking havoc in my room, left arm held aloft in the air with the spatula in a suitably threatening position, oven gloves on my right hand and welding mask protecting my face.

I made my way back upstairs, still caught in two minds about whether I should really be doing this. Maybe I could call the RSPCA? What would they do though, except think I was a prank caller and hang up on me? Same goes for London Zoo, and anyway, I didn’t think they did a call out service. So it was totally up to me. I opened the bedroom door. All my limbs seemed to be shaking with a horrible cocktail of fear and exhaustion. (The kitchen weaponry was doing little to steady my nerves.) There it was, waiting for me on my desk, clear as day. A dragon. Its little red face looked angry and its whole body was moving up and down as it drew deep breaths. I could almost make out my reflection in the little beady black eyes that were monitoring my every movement unblinkingly. This was far beyond my brain’s ability to comprehend and digest. I was acting on pure instinct as I moved slowly into the room, my left hand still held high, my knees bent and the oven glove on my right hand. As I took my first step towards the dragon, it instantly took a step closer too, its clawed feet clicking to a halt on the smooth wooden surface. It was dangerously close to my brand new GHD’s on the edge of the desk and I was going to go crazy if it touched them. The anger at the thought of my potentially broken hair straighteners gave me a boost of confidence as I took another step towards it. The little thing held its ground this time, it spread its wings and its nostrils started flaring. I didn’t have time to react, I knew from pure animal instincts what was coming. It squeaked and exhaled, I closed my eyes and uselessly thrust my gloved right hand in front of my face, knowing I was about to be incinerated where I stood. My whole body was frozen with fear but nothing had happened.

I opened my eyes and through the welding mask I could see the dragon standing there on the desk looking slightly confused. It was just looking at me with little wisps of smoke rising from its mouth and nostrils. With all its body it inhaled deeply, squeaking loudly as it opened its mouth again. I raised the oven glove and spatula once more in one of the worst forms of defence imaginable but I had to do something just in case. Fortunately all that came out were little smoke clouds. I took my chance before it could try again, I jumped towards it and pinned it to my desk with my right hand, covering its body completely with the oven mitt. My straighteners were knocked to the floor in the struggle, as I dropped the spatula and used my free left hand to grab it fully. With the dragon now firmly secure in my hands I turned, scanning the room. I could feel the little body wriggling and trying to get free, both its wings trying to force my hands apart. I would have to be quick. Where could I put it? The window was shut. Dammit! It would have been so much easier to have thrown it out the window and pretend I’d never seen it. The thing was struggling like mad, squeaking as it writhed about in my hands. It felt like it was only a matter of time before it would get free of my grasp. I ran downstairs and through the hallway to avoid Ben, the dragon’s little squeaking efforts to escape easily masked by the ongoing mayhem from Ben’s DVD. I scanned the kitchen; there was literally nothing about that I could use to store this shrieking writhing animal. (The kitchen was too clean; Mum never left anything lying about!) What about the washing machine? That did have a lock on the front, but I was looking to safely store the dragon not drown it! Where else? Then it dawned on me, Tammy’s cat carrier in the hallway cupboard! As I turned to run to the cupboard the little animal’s wings caught me off guard and managed to spread to their full extent, forcing my hands completely apart. The dragon was free! It thrust its little wings through the air trying to fly away from me. It was barely moving forwards, all its effort seemed to be used to just keep it airborne, but I had to stop it; I really didn’t fancy my chances of managing to capture it twice in one afternoon. I lunged desperately, both of my feet leaving the floor and arms outstretched. I must have looked like a rugby player as my hands came round each side of the dragon’s body, its wings folded like a concertina under my grip. I landed on my chest on the cold kitchen floor, but when I opened my eyes again the dragon was there, still in my grip! (Ben was missing the real life drama; I reckon my stunt would have looked pretty impressive!) I quickly got to my feet and used my elbow to awkwardly open the hallway cupboard door. I found the cat’s pet carrier and threw the dragon in, locking the door of the cage as the creature flopped down inside, defeated!

I looked inside the cage through the welding mask; the dragon was sitting with its little legs stretched out in front of it with its wings wrapped around its upper body as if to protect itself. They were like a thick leather blanket covered in red scales. It wasn’t moving at all, just sitting motionless looking almost sad in a way. Where had it come from? Was it even real? I didn’t have time to consider these questions however, as the sound of my Dad’s keys in the front door shocked me into action. I picked up the cage and ran into the garage with it, the welding mask falling off behind me as I did so. I couldn’t think where to put it, but I knew I had to hide it. What on earth would my Dad say if he caught me with this? I scanned the garage; Dad’s architecture model occupied most of the available space on a huge wallpaper pasting table in the centre. There were some shelves and also a tool cupboard running the full length of the garage wall. The tool cupboard was the only viable option! Eventually, after much banging and shoving I managed to fit the cage inside the tool cupboard, just about getting the doors closed to fully hide the captured dragon. A little protesting squeak was all that came from the cupboard as I quickly ran back into the kitchen. My Dad called out as he entered the house, “who’s been doing some welding then?” (he’d obviously spotted the mask I’d dropped behind me,) “And why on earth would they be doing it in the hallway?”

What was I going to do? If my Dad found out there was a dragon in the house I’d be in some serious trouble. He was livid with Mum for getting Tammy the cat without asking him first, imagine what he’d be like with me if he found the little red thing in his tool cupboard! What’s worse is I had absolutely no idea where it had come from. I didn’t even contemplate the existence of dragons. I mean, aren’t they just story book fantasy creatures? What if I was going crazy and I’d just shoved a cat carrier into my Dad’s tool cupboard with one of Mum’s red bras inside? What was more likely at this point, me being insane and imagining something or the actual existence of dragons? I was truly exhausted from the walk and probably dehydrated too. If it was all in my head then the last twenty minutes had seemed pretty damn real to me!

My Dad entered the kitchen and smiled at me as he pushed his glasses up his nose. He looked pretty awful in all fairness, probably exhausted from all the walking on the weekend and then a full day at work. Imagine how I looked now! I didn’t have to wait long for the confirmation.

“You look dreadful honey!” he beamed at me as he said it. It was almost as if he was happy to see that he wasn’t the only one suffering.
I tried not to look at him in case my face somehow gave away the fact that I was hiding a dragon in the garage, so I ended up talking more to the kitchen tiles when I retorted, “not as bad as you Dad. Those thick frames on your glasses don’t do a good job of hiding those bags you’re carrying under your eyes. They are so big they’re like suitcases!”

It wasn’t one of my best retorts, but it was a good enough response given the circumstances. Seeing as my Dad was pretty vain I knew it wouldn’t be long before he’d be out of my hair and checking his face in the mirror. Whenever I wanted a peaceful ten minutes to myself, or I needed some girlie time with Mum, it was always guaranteed that we’d be on our own in seconds if we mentioned we may have spotted another grey hair on his head!

He walked over to the sink and poured himself a glass of water. “I’m off for a bath honey; make sure you put that welding mask away before your Mum gets home. I don’t have the energy to invent an excuse as to why that would be left lying around!” He gave me a cheeky school boy grin and began walking back down the hallway to go upstairs. As he went I could hear him mimicking my mother under his breath. “Stephen why would you leave that out? Stephen why are the kids still in their school clothes? Stephen what exactly have you done since you’ve got in from work?”

Mum and Dad didn’t really argue but they did bicker pretty much constantly. I think my Mum likes her own way (as most Mums do) but he never let her bother him and she was pretty forgiving considering all the time he spent in the garage with his architecture models. Oh man! That reminded me, Dad had been working on his model of the Canary Wharf each weeknight for the past two months now. There was nowhere else I could hide that cat carrier. I’d have to make sure he wouldn’t be going in the garage otherwise it would be time for some serious explaining when I had no idea where to start on the answers. (I couldn’t even think of an excuse for the welding mask for Gods sake!) I sprinted to the end of the stairs and shouted up to him, “Dad, what are you up to tonight? Are you working on the wharf model again?”

His voice came from the other side of the bathroom door, muffled over the sound of the running water and difficult to hear over Ben clapping at the wrestling match where I think some poor wrestler was bleeding.

“No chance! I’m not touching work until 9am tomorrow morning. If I’m still in the bath when your Mum gets in tell her we’re watching TV tonight and having a take away.”

Normally take away would be a treat but I was too tired and too stressed to get excited about a curry. I yelled confirmation back up to him as I sprinted back down the hallway, scooped up the welding mask without breaking my stride and jumped back into the garage. I popped the mask back on and opened the tool cupboard once again, peering cautiously inside. The dragon was lying down in the cage and appeared to be sleeping. I got up and ran back into the kitchen, if the dragon was going to stay there all night it would need something to eat and drink. I grabbed a small bowl and began to fill it with water. Suddenly the kitchen door swung open and there was Ben, walking towards me. He didn’t even acknowledge my existence as he made a pre-planned return journey to the fridge to grab a can of Coke. Just as he was walking back past me he suddenly stopped and looked at me. I looked back at him through the dark blue tint of the welding mask. He blinked at me a couple of times with a look of confusion, as If trying to simultaneously figure out what I was doing whilst think of a question. Before he could ask anything however, more screams from the commentators on the TV prompted him to carry on back into the living room. He gave me one last weird look before closing the door behind him. (I had no idea what I would have said to explain the welding mask, so thank goodness he’s a little slow sometimes!) With the bowl now full of water I made my way through to the garage, trying to be as quick as possible but not spill any water as I walked. The dragon was still asleep as I carefully put the bowl of water in, keeping my hand as far away from the sleeping little body as I could. When I returned with a handful of ham from the fridge the dragon had moved to the other side of its temporary home but luckily was still sleeping. He lay in the furthest corner of the cage (I assumed the creature was a he, but at this point I wasn’t keen to double check!), barely taking up any space at all. He was now lying on his back with his little legs in the air, both of his wings were covering his belly like a blanket and his mouth was open with dragon spit coming out. (Good to see even dragons dribbled and I wasn’t the only one!) I left the ham in the cage near the water bowl and closed both the cage door and the cupboard door. It was looking like my impromptu hiding place was going to work for the time being. Thankfully, the tiny creature had barely made any noise since I’d discovered it.

Ok then, with the dragon hidden and fed it was time to try and find some answers. I went up to my bedroom and sat down on my bed, finally! My legs were absolutely killing but I’d stopped noticing for the last hour with all the madness that was going on. It’s so weird that you don’t notice if something is hurting until stop and rest! I pulled my laptop onto my knee, powered it up and started typing away, dragon, dragons, dragon facts, dragon help, dragons exist? Nothing was coming up with anything useful, just the usual expected results of board games, movies and fantasy books. For once it didn’t look like Wikipedia was going to have an answer for me; if the internet didn’t provide results I’d have to figure it out myself. Think! Where on earth could the thing have come from? My window was closed when I left for school this morning as it always was when I was out. But the dragon was in my room waiting for me when I got home. How? I looked around my room ignoring all the usual mess, the random shoes and yesterday’s clothes spread over the majority of my floor. The GHDs were down there still as well, they didn’t look broken thank god! I looked up at the desk to where I thought I’d seen the dragon first fly from, toward my face from not forty minutes ago. That’s when I noticed that the rock which I had kept for myself from the walking trip had completely vanished! I jumped up off the bed almost breaking my laptop in the process as it thudded to the floor. I left it where it was and scanned my desk for clues; the mass of magazines, Ordnance Survey maps and school books covered almost the entire desktop except for one area where the rock had been. I dropped down on all fours and starting checking frantically on the floor under the desk for the missing rock. That’s when I found it. I could see what was unmistakably the rock that I had brought back from Snowdon only with one small difference; it was in about ten pieces.

I picked up some of the bits and checked them out; it didn’t really much resemble rock anymore. Each piece was about a centimetre thick and broken into random shapes. A bit like when it’s Easter and Ben does his party trick of head butting the chocolate eggs whilst they are still in their foil. He would then open it up to get big chunks of chocolate egg to scoff on. One year he did it so hard he got a piece of chocolate egg stuck in his forehead, it was disgusting. I remember them rushing to get the piece of wedged egg out before it melted. (I don’t think he does it anymore!) More importantly though was the revelation I’d just had. It was an egg! I had just inadvertently found and brought home a dragon egg from Wales. Oh my god, I must have a Welsh dragon in my Dad’s garage tool cupboard! It was all starting to sink in, I’d found a dragon’s egg and when I was at school it must have hatched on my desk. It was crazy! Dragons exist and I had one! What was I going to do? It was sleeping in a cage downstairs this very second, and I was holding some actual pieces of dragon egg! Suddenly I was blinded with utter panic as my brain was filled with one unifying horrific thought; I’ve just given my friends dragon eggs and they could be hatching right this second.

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Tuesday, 20 April 2010

It was all up to me...

I still had absolutely no idea what I was dealing with or what these animals were truly capable of. Somehow I’d just managed to find myself in this crazy situation where I had two fire breathing mythical creatures that weren’t supposed to exist. Both of these were presumably extremely dangerous and there was still the potential that I would have another three by tea time! I just had to hope that the rocks from Mt. Snowdon were still rocks by the time we got there. With one dragon already holed up in my Dad’s tool cupboard and the other secretly (safely?) contained in the bag between my feet I knew I was in one heck of a predicament. Unfortunately I was also very aware of the fact that no one else could find out about the dragons and there was certainly no one else in a position to ensure my friends would remain safe from harm. It was all up to me.

Sample from Chapter 4 of Dragon Zoo

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Tuesday, 30 March 2010

On getting those eggs back from my friends...

In Nic's house...

I quickly opened the door and sort of hopped inside, trying to stay low whilst simultaneously shield my face with my empty rucksack. This time there was no lethal unforeseen flying dragon attack, just a normal vacant 13 year old girl’s room. The unmade bed, the Barbie Mansion in the corner covered in dust but still embarrassingly present, the heels and sandals in a pile by the wardrobe. The presence of her school bag wasn’t immediately forthcoming and a quick scan of the room didn’t reveal the rock to be on her desktop or bed.
“Sit down! Chill out, I got you a coke.”
Nic’s sudden appearance right behind me made me jump an absolute mile. My heart instantly pounding, furious at the fright I’d just had.
“Whoa Lucy! I said chill! Are you OK?” she asked, handing me the coke glass and walking into the room.
“Yeah sorry, you scared me that’s all” I sat down on the bed, still discreetly searching her room for the schoolbag with my eyes whilst I took a sip of coke. She sat down next to me and brushed her blonde hair out of her eyes needlessly as it fell right back in them again.
“So what you doing here then? You’re not here to talk about Scot are you? Or are you freaking out about your choices? I know Stacey was, I just told her to ditch IT and do Drama like she obviously wants to.”
“Oh, right” I looked up, finally seeing the bag propped up against her desk behind her. I needed to get to it right this second and get outta here and to the next house. “No, I’m not freaking out, I just wanted to come round and er...ask if” I stopped my sentence short as I could have sworn that her backpack had just moved slightly behind her.
Nic glanced behind her at the stationary corner of her room and looked back at me quizzically. “Lucy what is up with you? How did you even get here anyway, you still haven’t even told me why you’re visiting and to be fair, you’re being a bit weird.”
I tried to ensure I made eye contact and look calm when I replied “Sorry, I’m really sorry. OK.” I breathed in deeply and huffed all the air back out of my lungs before continuing, “Right. I’m here because I need to ask you something” as I said it my heart skipped a beat. Was I imagining it or had that bag just rocked slightly where it sat propped against her desk leg?
“Go on, what is it?” Nic replied, impatience beginning to creep into her tone.
The school bag suddenly slipped completely from its supported position against the desk leg and landed on the floor with a thump. I jumped up onto my feet with panic, what was I going to do? There is a dragon in Nic’s bag, I had no doubt now, she couldn’t find out. It was definitely dangerous. I need to get out of this house with that thing now. Quick Lucy think!
“Nic can you quickly go downstairs and ask your mum a question? I’m here because my Mum asked if your Mum has any oven gloves she can borrow. You see we were cooking and she found there was a hole in hers.” Lame excuse! I took my eyes off the bag for the smallest amount of time possible and looked at her almost apologetically, praying over and over she’d take the bait. Say yes and get out of this room as quickly as possible.
The bag moved again. “I guess so” Nic replied, “Is that all you came over for, couldn’t she just buy some?” Another scuffling noise within the school bag, she was going to notice if I didn’t get rid of it soon.
“Sorry Nic, I’ll visit properly soon. Can I hurry you if you don’t mind?” the sentence came out louder than intended, making me seem more than a little unhinged. More movement in the corner, my eyes darted again back to the bag unwillingly only to see it stationary once more. Nic was thankfully still unaware; my outright friendship ending weirdo behaviour was more than enough to distract her.
Nic looked at me with sheer disbelief before leaving the room, “yeah sure, whatever...I’ll just go check.”
I waited until I was sure Nic was going down the stairs before I made my move. I didn’t want to risk opening the bag here in fear that the dragon might escape in my friend’s house and cause even more destruction than I’d managed to achieve with my freakish behaviour. I grabbed a cushion from the bed and shoved it into my rucksack to make it look full like Nic’s. I set it down against the desk leg and quickly exchanged it for hers. She was sure to notice that her bag was missing; I’d have to remedy that later. For now I was just grateful that both bags were black so she might not spot it straight away.
I swung Nic’s rucksack onto my back and instantly felt the weight difference through the shoulder straps. I knew now for sure, it wasn’t my imagination, there was definitely something squirming in there. I still couldn’t, and really didn’t want to check, my main priority right now was to get it out of this house and to somewhere safe and hidden.

This is a passage from Chapter 3 of my Dragon Zoo Story. You can read more when the full story is released.

Friday, 26 February 2010

On Discovering that Snowdon "rock" was a dragon egg

That’s when I found it. I could see what was unmistakably the rock that I had brought back from Snowdon only with one small difference; it was in about ten pieces.I picked up some of the bits and checked them out; it didn’t really much resemble rock anymore. Each piece was about a centimetre thick and broken into random shapes. A bit like when it’s Easter and Ben does his party trick of head butting the chocolate eggs whilst their still in their foil. He would then open it up to get big chunks of chocolate egg to scoff on. One year he did it so hard he got a piece of chocolate egg stuck in his forehead, it was disgusting. I remember them rushing to get the piece of wedged egg out before it melted. In fact, I don’t think he does it anymore! More importantly though was the revelation I’d just had. It was a damn egg! I had just inadvertently found a dragon egg in Wales. Oh my god, I have a Welsh dragon in my dad’s garage tool cupboard! It was all starting to sink in, I’ve just found a dragon’s egg and when I was at school it must have hatched on my desk. It was crazy! Dragons exist and I have one! What was I going to do? It was sleeping in a cage downstairs this very second and I was holding some actual pieces of dragon egg. Suddenly I was blinded with utter panic as my brain was filled with one unifying horrific thought, I’ve just given my friends dragon eggs and they could be hatching right this second.


Monday, 8 February 2010

The Hatchling



We got in from school, and I threw my bag and coat down in the hall as usual,and then ran upstairs to my bedroom. Ben had already got the DVD playing in the living room by the time I had reached the landing. You could already hear the loud American accents yelling “oh my god!” at some exaggerated wrestling manoeuvre. I reached my bedroom door and opened it, I didn’t even have time to take in what was going on as something sprung from my bed and was flying towards my face. I instantly screamed and slammed the door shut as fast as I could. My heart was racing and I was scared witless as I heard the thud on the other side of the door. It would have been quite funny if I wasn’t so terrified! I didn’t know what the hell it was, but it certainly wasn’t our cat Tammy, who hadn’t moved that fast since playschool! Maybe it was a rat? Can they jump that high? I had no idea. I’d been waiting for my bed all day, there was nothing for it, I would have to risk it and look inside. I grabbed the handle of the door and turned it as slowly as possible trying to keep the gap as small as I could but allow enough space to see what had just flown at me from inside. It was no use; all I could make out was a thin slither of my bed and the posters above it. There was no movement and no noise from the other side of the door. Maybe whatever it was had hit the door so hard it was knocked unconscious or even dead? I would have to find out one way or another. I just went for it.

I swung the door wide open in one fast movement. The thing on the floor was certainly still alive; it ran towards my bed emitting a tiny shrieking noise. It was tiny but still scary at the time! It was about the size of my pencil case and covered in red scaly skin, a long tale ending in a red point and wings much like a bats. As it jumped from the floor it spread its wings and rotated in the air to land neatly on the bed facing me. Its little black eyes were looking me up and down inquisitively. I’d seen enough! I slammed the door shut and sprinted back downstairs to get supplies. My parents were control freaks and Mum would make sure I wouldn’t have my ears pierced next month as promised if she found out about this. I’d have to sort it myself.



I didn’t think where it could have come from at the time, and in hindsight I guess I realised straight away what it was I was dealing with. In emergencies you don’t really do much thinking, you just sort of act on instinct. That’s why I went straight for the oven gloves – they were heat proof - and the welding mask from the garage. Oh, and the spatula. I know! You must be reading this thinking spatula?! But what’s worse than finding a dragon in your bedroom? Yeah. Running up stairs with a kitchen knife. So spatula it was. There I stood, armed and ready to deal with this tiny thing probably wreaking havoc in my room, left arm held aloft in the air with the spatula in a suitably threatening position, oven gloves on the right hand and welding mask protecting the face.

I opened the bedroom door. All my limbs seemed to be shaking uncontrollably with fear, the kitchen weaponry was doing little to steady my nerves. There it was, waiting for me on my desk, clear as day. A dragon. His little red face looked angry and his whole body was moving up and down as it drew deep breaths. I could almost make out my reflection in the little beady black eyes that were monitoring my every movement unblinkingly. I moved slowly into the room, my left hand still held high, my knees bent and the oven glove on my right hand. As I took my first step towards the dragon, it instantly took a step closer too. It was dangerously close to my brand new GHD’s on the edge of the desk and I was going to go crazy if it touched them. The anger at the thought of my potentially broken hair straighteners gave me a boost of confidence as I took another step towards it. The little thing held its ground this time, it spread its wings and its nostrils started flaring. I didn’t have time to react, I knew from instinct what was coming. It squeaked and exhaled, I closed my eyes knowing I was about to be incinerated where I stood. Nothing happened. I was still alive!

I opened my eyes and through the welding mask I could see the dragon standing there on the desk looking slightly confused. It was just looking at me, little wisps of smoke rising from its mouth and nostrils. With all its body it inhaled deeply, squeaking loudly as it opened its mouth. I raised the oven glove and spatula again in one of the worst forms of defence imaginable just in case. Fortunately all that came out were little smoke clouds. I took my chance and jumped towards it, right hand covering its body with the oven glove and pinning it to the desk. My straighteners were knocked to the floor in the struggle as I dropped the spatula and used my now free left hand to grab it fully. With the dragon now firmly secure in my arms I turned, scanning the room. I could feel the little body wriggling trying to get free, both its wings trying to force my hands apart. I would have to be quick. Where could I put it? The window was shut. Dammit! It would have been so much easier to have thrown it out the window and pretend I’d never seen it. Instead I ran downstairs, found the cat’s pet carrier and threw him in, locking the door of the cage as the little dragon flopped down inside.



Inside the cage the dragon was sitting with its little legs stretched out in front of it, its wings wrapped around its upper body as if to protect itself. They were like a red scale covered leather blanket. It wasn’t moving and was just sitting there looking slightly sorry for itself. I must have sat there looking at it through the welding mask for ten minutes as it sat there before the sound of my dad’s keys in the front door shocked me into action.

I picked up the cage and ran into the garage with him, the welding mask falling off behind me as I did so. I couldn’t think where to put it, but I knew I had to hide it. What on earth would my dad say if he caught me with this? Eventually, after much banging and shoving I managed to fit the cage inside the tool cupboard, just about getting the doors closed to fully hide the captured dragon. A little protesting squeak was all that came from the entrapped animal as I quickly ran back into the kitchen. My dad called out as he entered the house, “who’s been doing some welding then? And why on earth would they do it in the hallway?”



For more on my story check back here soon!



Story by Lucy Arnold - February 2010

Thursday, 28 January 2010

How to find a Dragon's Egg - Dragon Zoo The Beginning

It’s amazing to think that the majority of the 6.7 billion people that live on this planet could recognise a dragon if they saw one. An animal which has never been seen by anyone with their own eyes is so readily accepted and unmistakable when seen. How can this be? It is of common opinion, especially with the sane inhabitants of earth that dragons don’t exist and never have. So where do they come from? Why do they keep appearing in our popular culture? Why do they always look the same? Dragons are legendary, fantastical creatures that have traversed the globe. They have appeared in stories from ancient Greece, China, and Europe. These animals have been so prominent in literature over the centuries. They have descended from the skies and left ancient civilisations in piles of smouldering ash. Saint George managed to capture one in Silene, converting people to Christianity with his show of power over the gigantic mystical beast. Bilbo has outsmarted one to get the treasure; Mr Potter has used spells and brooms to escape from one. But we’ve never truly seen one. So why does something that never existed continue to be so popular? How has it survived for so many years without being lost in the story books of old?

I have a theory. I think that most of the ancient civilisations probably were attacked by dragons at some point. I reckon Saint George did defend a princess from a dragon that burst out of a lake in a savage attack. What I’m saying is I think that they probably did exist. Well, actually... I know they exist.

I suppose before I continue I better tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Lucy Arnold, as I write this I am 16 years old and have just finished my final year at school. I have a nice family (most of the time) and live near Camden Town in sunny London. I only have one brother, Ben. He is surprisingly cool in all honesty. I know that you’re meant to fight with, steal from and agitate your siblings but for some reason we just get on. He’s one of my best friends which I guess is a good thing. Ben still goes to South Hampstead School but regularly helps me out with my daily chores. He’s in his last year now and is 15. My mum used to work in a library any my dad works for an architecture company (Furster or Foster & partners, something like that. He helped out with that gherkin thing in London) but both are now spending a lot of time working with me to see if we can get our project up and running. (I can’t tell you how old they are or my mum would kill me!) So that’s us, we’re pretty normal really. In fact, you never would have heard of us if it wasn’t for a weekend break we took 3 years ago.

It was my 13th birthday weekend in March and as a present my parents had bought me new pair of hiking boots and a weekend break to Snowdonia, Wales. Ben was utterly bored with the idea and had managed to wangle himself a weekend at his friend’s house instead. So it was just the three of us with dad named as the designated driver. I was very proud of my new boots at the time and had been wearing them to school all week to break them in before the walk. (It was also a great way to get my birthday present early!) I loved walking, especially in the countryside. As a rule, if the scenery is green, it’s better. So I was thoroughly excited to be doing my first ever mountain walk. None of my friends at school were into the idea at all, in fact, I had to tell them I’d asked for a new dress from New Look too just to make sure I wasn’t going to be ridiculed for my real present.

The journey there was a total non-event. For me it was reading my new magazine until I felt sick, then sleeping. Then repeating the process again! After what seemed like days (it actually only took us about 5 hours) we eventually arrived at our campsite. It wasn’t cold fortunately, but it was wet. At 6am in London the weather had been fine but true to tradition, the closer we got to Wales, the more rain we encountered.

It was getting close to midday when we set up the tent. My dad had paced around the entire field whilst mum and I waited in the car. He’d spent ten minutes looking for a space in a completely empty camp site but mum assured me it was something to do with a “dry spot”. To me, everything looked wet. The tent we have is a rival to the Millennium Dome (O2 arena or whatever it’s called nowadays). It was huge! I had my own bedroom with inflatable air bed and indoor heater. My parents had their own room with double air bed, heating and even a light stand so Dad could put his glasses on it. Once we’d claimed our place in the camp site we set off to the nearest pub for some grub. I had a huge burger, with greasy chips and a pint of coke for a birthday treat. The one of my five a day came in the form of the slice of lemon they put in the coke. (That counts right?) I remember clearing that plate before my dad had even touched his first chip! They were lenient though and didn’t tell me off which was nice. Normally I get lambasted by my parents at the dinner table for eating too quickly. I reckon if it tastes good and you eat it real fast then it should be taken as a compliment to the chef, but I never win with that argument!

In the evening we got our stuff ready for the big walk the next day. The weather was supposed to be rainy again tomorrow which wasn’t looking good, but after a 5 hour drive you can hardly turn around and drive home because of a bit of water. (Especially with a moaning daughter claiming birthday rights to make sure they wouldn’t!) I was in my bedroom readying my backpack with all the things we’re told to take on walks. I had a Twix and Mars chocolate bars, a torch, a whistle and some water. Dad had the important stuff like the laminated route map, flare gun (no joke!), satellite phone with mountain rescue on speed dial, emergency rations and even survival foil blankets. I think he feels more comfortable when he’s designing the latest sky scraper on his computer or working on his models in the garage! After packing we sat in the living room of the tent playing cards. You could hear the sound of the never ending rain hitting the canvas dome. God I love that sound. Falling asleep to that noise is really therapeutic. It’s just unfortunate that it means your next day’s walking will probably be that little bit more difficult. Oh, and it makes you need the toilet.

Before bed my parents had one last present for me, s’mores! Ben would have been really jealous. We had the little gas stove sheltered from the rain under the veranda of the tent and had some milk chocolate digestives as a substitute for the crackers. It was gorgeous. (Right now I know you’re probably reading this thinking ‘get to the dragon eggs!’ but seriously... go make some s’mores, enjoy them. Then come back and we’ll get to the dragon eggs part!) After that amazingly simple but effective last surprise it was time for sleep. I got in my sleeping bag, let some of the air out of my bed to make the mattress soft enough so my bum just touched the floor and I was set for the night. Perfect.

The sound of the zip opening on the tent door woke me up in the morning as mum and dad left the tent for the washrooms. I scrambled on some clothes and chased after them up the field to get ready as soon as possible. Surprisingly the rain had stopped and even in the dim early morning light it looked like it was going to be a clear day. We washed and changed and returned to the tent to collect our things. I’d put my hair into a pony tail and put a woolly hat on to keep my head warm. I got my boots laced up and my backpack on and was ready to go. I used the reflection in the car’s windows next to the tent to check my appearance. With the pony tail and backpack combination I thought of myself as a young Lara Croft, Tomb Raider type ready to explore lost temples and defeat mystical creatures. (I’ve done a lot of growing up in the last 3years and obviously no longer think that)

Once dad had finally finished itemising his entire backpack contents we were ready to start walking. We were camping in Nant Peris and it was mum that had decided our route for the day. We began our ascent to the top of Snowdon by using the Pyg Track. The well defined path and large number of fellow walkers sort of made a mockery of dad’s survival kit. I think judging by the beads of sweat on his brow he may have been beginning to regret packing the rather large and heavy flare gun and god knows how much other useless pap he had in that bag. It was the size of me! Despite dads early plundering pace we were making good time and the day was turning out to be a belter. The air was crisp and clear and almost tasted clean as you breathed it in. Such a difference from London. We had planned to make it to the summit and have lunch atop the mountain before making our way back down the Miners Track. However, when we noticed dad trying to sell the flare gun to a young couple walking behind us, like a captain of a sinking ship desperately trying to offload excess weight, we knew that we should probably stop for some lunch.

The area that we stopped in was really nice. Despite how clear the day was you still couldn’t make out the summit of the mountain. The thick cloud was permanently shielding our destination from view. We stopped a little way off the path about two thirds of the way up the mountain. Above us and to the right we could see the slightly more extreme mountaineers tackling the Crib Goch, a knife edge walk with mammoth life ending drops either side if you put a foot wrong. (Not for me!) We sat down and ate some sandwiches that mum had been carrying in her pack. I grabbed the Twix and ate one of the fingers, leaving one to eat as a celebration when we reached the summit. By the time I’d had some water I was ready to go again. My feet weren’t hurting, my pack wasn’t heavy and the boots were just getting warmed up. I jumped up ready to go but having noticed my dad only one mouthful into his first sandwich I gathered we weren’t going to be carrying on anytime soon.

“I’m off to explore. I won’t go far!” I shouted behind me as I skipped ahead up the path. I wasn’t the patient type who could sit around waiting for boring dads to finish their lunch.

I didn’t even notice if they’d replied. I was off to find some souvenirs for me and my friends. I never believe in gift shop presents, shelves filled with tacky cups and t-shirts with “I beat Snowdon” scrawled across the chest. I always preferred real items from the real location, something money can’t buy. I still have sand from every beach I’ve been to in little bottles on my desk. What could I get from Snowdon to take back? I suppose some rocks would be good, real pieces of mountain stone from this huge extinct volcano I was climbing. I began searching around looking for any small stones that were particularly cool in shape or colour. Nothing was particularly amazing, the Rhyolite and Dolerite rock types found on Snowdon are a dull grey, meaning a dull present! I continued my search as I carried on upwards and to the right of the path. I climbed atop of a large boulder and sat down looking at the valley below. The view was amazing, you could see the walkers some 300feet below making their way up the Miners Path and if you looked left you could see the path that we had climbed snaking its way downwards and disappearing behind a peak. It really was great to be able to sit and look at these surroundings rather than the classroom walls or the inside of London buses I usually find myself staring at. After I’d taken a picture I began to climb back down off the boulder. As I did so I accidentally slipped and landed flat on my chest knocking the wind out of me. For such a small fall it really did hurt. I lay there stunned for a few seconds thinking what an idiot I was and grateful that no one had seen me being so clumsy. As I began to get up I noticed a collection of smallish rocks in a circle underneath the boulder that I had just fallen from. These would make cool gifts! There were five in total, odd shapes and colours but nothing you’d really notice unless you were rock hunting like I was. One of them in particular looked beautiful, an odd shape with swirling bluish patterns on it. It almost looked like marble. I chucked the five small rocks in my bag which thankfully weren’t too heavy, and skipped back down to where mom and dad were just finishing up lunch.

The rest of the walk was really beautiful, the rain had stayed away and the scenery was never short of breathtaking. When we made it to the summit we had our picture taken by a nice man who had just finished the three peaks challenge. As I’d promised myself, I ate the remaining Twix finger which had been mashed up by my bag of cheap gifts, but still tasted good. Oh, and we sort of cheated and I had a coke and mum and dad had lattes in the cafe at the top. (How did that get there?) After our little escape from reality in the coffee shop we started our walk back down. The wind was starting to pick up so mum suggested to walk a bit quicker in case the weather closed in. We made our way initially back down the way we had come before splitting off to the right, away from the Pyg Track and onto the Miners Path for a sharp descent down to the lake at the bottom. It all looked wondrous to me. Waterfalls, lakes and mountains born out of volcanoes. Why didn’t Ben come? Sometimes he’s a bit of an idiot, favouring computers and movies over life, adventures and fresh air! I hope he grows out of it. I’ll just have to show him the pictures when we get back if he’s interested.
We had almost made it back to the car before the heavens opened and gave us a shower. Rather than finding this annoying dad relished the chance to try out his new waterproof trousers which some cockney salesman had made a killing on. Literally five minutes later the rain had stopped again and we were back at the car. Dad was incessant though, “if it wasn’t for those trousers I’d have a hell of a time driving back to the site soaked through” he was grinning proudly like a child so I let him have his moment. I think he was probably more proud of his water proofs than he was of making it to the summit with his wife and daughter! Oh well. I was very proud of my achievement. In my world I’d made headline news, “13 year old adventurer tackles Snowdon summit!”

The remaining nights stay was nice enough. We played more cards, dad managed to sell his flare gun to a man in the pub who worked for mountain rescue. The man, I think, had showed sympathy for dad as another clueless tourist but insisted in a cute Welsh accent, “you can never have enough of these”. With the funds from his impromptu sale dad treated us all to Burger King on the way home for lunch the next day, which made the journey for me. Not that I’m counting but it was the second burger I’d had in two days so it was a good job I’d just spent the entire day climbing a mountain!

Getting ready for school on the Monday morning was torture. I just about managed to drag myself out of bed and pull some clothes on before it was time to leave the house. I was exhausted as me and Ben stood at the bus stop before our ride into school. I had packed my bag the night before like I always did before bed. Taking the cool blue stone out for me and putting it on my desk, leaving the others in the bag for the girls. This time of the day was always a test of patience. I hated it on the mornings when mum was working and couldn’t drive us both in. Classic Fm was worth enduring for the chauffeuring! Today was going to be a challenge and there’s nothing worse than realising it at 8AM.

After the hiking I’d returned to my normal attire, my battered black sandals from Clarks that weren’t worth the polish that was put on them and my tired looking tights which no doubt had a ladder in them somewhere. The uniform was the usual, no short skirts and sensible ties. The lurid cotton jumpers were the mouldy cherry on the minging cake, everyone had to buy but no-one ever wore. My hair was in its normal pony tail and rested on my shoulder; I noticed all the split ends and shuddered. I thought mountain air and the countryside were supposed to be healthy and rejuvenating? All I felt was cold and knackered and I looked a complete state! The bus was still not planning on turning up anytime soon and I realised that Ben had been speaking to me for the last five minutes and I hadn’t heard a single word. He was looking up at me inquisitively “so?” he said, “are you going to or not?”

I just agreed with him regardless to spare his feelings, “of course I will” I replied confidently, hoping it was nothing too taxing I was signing up for. With relief he confirmed what I had assumed it probably would be about.

“Cool! If you’re player 2 all you have to do is literally press the A button like, I dunno, 300times.” Ben gestured in the air with his hands miming a controller button being bashed. He looked like a lunatic. “Once you’ve done that, and whilst I’m player 1 and steering we should definitely get the achievement. Liam showed me last night and...”

“OK! Yes fine!” I cut him off and smiled at the same time. “Just, show me tonight ok?” For once in my life I was relieved to see the filth covered school bus coming around the corner.

As expected the day at school ranked amongst one of the worst Mondays in recorded history. Well, my history anyway. The girls all smiled politely when given their rock souvenirs from Snowdon. I made up some bumf about friends forever and as long as we all had a rock; blah blah blah. It seemed to make them appreciate them a bit better. They got altogether more excited when I lied about getting the dress from New Look. (I would have to actually buy it at some point. Preferably before the next party otherwise I’d be in trouble) So I didn’t even bother showing them the pictures of the mountain or explaining rock types, I’d save that conversation to have with the geography teacher who was also a keen walker. The morning dragged and I still felt like poo. My legs were aching, me head was aching, my back was aching but my feet were fine. So I was still really happy with my boots! Lunch came and went with an undercooked plate of chips and a big serving of juice free beans which I barely touched. By the afternoon I was still aching all over and starving so I couldn’t wait to get home. Eventually home time arrived after an English lesson that even I could have taught. Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet on VHS was meant to be an English lesson? Another unplanned lesson from a teacher that must have had a busy weekend like me. If in doubt, put a video on! (and make sure its vaguely about English) At least it meant I got to switch off for the last hour.

I met Ben outside of school and we caught the bus home. He was still chatting about this damn computer game he’d obviously been glued to all weekend whilst we were away. Luckily his friend had lent him a wrestling DVD so I would have at least two hours of peace before being summoned to perfom button bashing duty.

For more on my story and Dragon Zoo check back here soon!



story by Lucy Arnold - January 2010

Check Dragon-zoo.com for the brand new proposed zoo map!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Dragon-Zoo.com

Hi there,

my name is Lucy Arnold and i've been working really hard the last few days to kick start this new project of mine. Three years ago I made a huge discovery which changed my life. Now me and my family are on the verge of getting the go ahead to create a brand new tourist attraction in the heart of London which will change the world! Keep checking back here at my blog, on the home page www.dragon-zoo.com, you can follow me on Facebook (search Lucy Arnold) and Twitter.

Over the next few months I'll be working hard to make sure the zoo gets the go ahead and also start work on writing my story. I'll leave you with this that's on my website.



Dragons Exist, and we have them. Soon, if our plans are accepted, we will be able to show the world what we've kept secret for the last 3 years. Dragon Zoo will set the world alight!

This is the website for Londons hottest new tourist attraction! Check back soon for more updates as the project progresses.

Come and visit the Dragons in London soon...