The year Caleb Mitchell was born was the year that everything changed. It was the year the dragons had come out of hiding.
It was only a month after his birth that brilliant blazes of coloured flame lit up the cloudless night sky of Brisbane City as giant reptiles began a great battle. As their fight ensued, destruction was wrought upon the city; buildings toppled, streets burned, screams filled the hot, dry air. The world stood still as a once-proud city was quickly brought to rubble and ruin. After the attack on Australia’s Eastern coast, the world quickly agreed that there was no place for dragons amongst humans. Elite military factions were formed specifically for dragon hunting so that the new threat might be eradicated.
All continents except Asia were a part of this movement, for, even though Asia agreed that dragons should not reside amongst humans, they still respected the ancient creatures for the magical beings they were. Instead of adding their military forces to the ones that would slaughter the dragons, Asia kept their military to themselves and protected the dragons and provided them with safe haven.
Because of this course of action, the other continents deemed Asia as traitors to the human race and all ties were cut off from them in under a month due to the demands of the people. There has been no trades, no communication, no radio or satellite contact since that fateful day, fourteen years ago.
As he sat on the park bench, staring at the crystalline sky, Caleb wondered again if his mother had managed to escape the burning city and not died amongst thousands of others as his father had told him time after time. Letting his mind wander, he imagined his mother, tardy-looking, but beautiful all the same, trudging from city to city, searching for her husband and their two sons.
“Daydreaming again, are we?” Rubin, Caleb’s older brother, was looking at him with conversational, brown eyes, only shades lighter his sibling’s. Caleb met his brother’s eyes and smiled.
“Do you ever think that maybe she survived?”
“Think maybe who survived?”
Rubin’s eyes went downcast and his expression sad. Caleb always had mixed feelings whenever he talked about his mother out loud, especially when it was witch either his brother or Pa. He’d always felt happy when they talked about her, but it always hurt to see the look of sorrow and loss sweep over faces. “I want to say yes. But we both know that’s not what happened.”
Caleb’s heart dropped a little. “I know.” He knew that holding onto a hopeless pretense wasn’t good for him, but when it came to their Ma, he couldn’t help himself. He knew deep down, Vivian Mitchell was alive and out there somewhere, searching for her boys. But he could never say this to Pa or Rubin. It would only cause them pain. Changing topic slightly, he asked, “What about the dragons, though? Do you think they’re even real?”
Seeing the hard look in his big brother’s eyes as he stared at the ground, Caleb realized he had just made a terrible error. “Of course they’re real. If they weren’t, Ma would still be here.” Caleb stared at the ground and kicked the dirt. He’d never been good at cheering people up. “If it weren’t for those heinous reptiles, our family would be whole and normal.”
Caleb frowned. That was a comment often said by everyone that never sat still with him. “What if it wasn’t what we thought it was, though?”
“What are you rambling about this time?”
“Just hear me out. What if half the dragons were bad, and the other half were good and the good dragons were trying to protect the city from the bad dragons but were defeated? And the bad dragons won?” Caleb had thought a lot about this for the last couple of months.
Rubin frowned. “What are you trying to say?”
“What if there are good dragons? Ones that want to live peacefully but people keep hunting them?”
Caleb was slightly afraid of the glare his brother was giving him. “You listen to me, Caleb. There are no good dragons, and if there were, they certainly wouldn't want peace. Yes, we hunt them, but they slaughtered and entire city of our kind. The slates will never be even with that loss of life.” He stood up stiffly, hands in fists. “I’m going to Toby’s. I need some time to calm down. See you back at the house,” he said, and left, walking at a brisk pace to the edge of the park.
Caleb groaned. Nice going, little bro. Unlike Caleb, who had no memory of their mother, Rubin remembered her clear as day. He also remembered the night she was taken from them, and as such, was highly touchy about the subject of Ma, but even more so the subject of dragons. It wasn’t every day that they had talks like that, but when they did, they usually ended up with Rubin needing to hit something. It wasn’t surprising that this one ended no different.
“Looks like he could’ve used a nice chill pill.”
Caleb jumped as a lady was suddenly sitting on the park bench next to him. She had short, spiky hair that was coloured like a rainbow and wore a long, ocean blue beach dress. Her eyes were jade green. She smiled kindly at him, and raised her legs off the ground, crossing them in front of her on the bench, like a child sitting at kindergarten. “So, I overheard your crazy idea that there might be some good dragons around.”
Caleb frowned. “It’s not a crazy idea. It’s the same as there being good people and bad people.” The rainbow-headed lady grinned.
“Exactly,” she said, and Caleb raised an eyebrow at her response. “If there can be good people and bad, why can’t it be the same for dragons? I think it’s a bit unfair to be honest.” Caleb couldn’t believe his ears. This woman couldn’t really be agreeing with him, could she? No-one had ever agreed with him when it came to his views on dragons. Most of the time it was because he had never even seen a dragon before, let alone, guess the nature of one.
“Here,” the woman said, and sliding her hand into an invisible pocket on her dress and pulled out a piece of feint-lined paper, folded into quarters. “If you want to make a difference with how the dragons are treated, call us, and we’ll tell you where to go.” She held out the folded page to Caleb like a friend sharing sweets. Cautiously, Caleb took the paper, and unfolded it. Etched in the top, left hand corner, in blue ink, was a mobile phone number. He turned to look back at her, only to find that she has disappeared as easily as she had appeared.
He looked back at the number again.
0459 774 894
Curiouser and curiouser.