It started a few days before the eclipse, with cats.
Cats and I are positive and negative magnets meeting. My ex-wife claims felines have secretly marked our house as a place for a nap and a meal. They’re always coming around, and often stay. But, two days before the eclipse, the cat count increased from seven to ten. The next day, the congress of cats doubled. Another eleven arrived on the day of the eclipse.
All were healthy and none fought, spooky, given how my four boys typically war with interlopers. The situation fed my imagination that cats knew something was happening. Sure, something was happening; it’s called an eclipse. Humans had been talking and writing about it, but none of my floofheads seemed concerned about the impending event.
That would be weird enough, but it wasn’t the weird, scary aspect of the post-eclipse day. Afterward, actually, that night….
I was in my study, as is my habit, imbibing a glass of tawny port, and watching a television show. Noises outside caused me to mute the sound, and then pause the show to investigate. Grabbing the flashlight, I turned on the front porch light and slipped out. It’d been a hundred and five degree day. Though we were slipping past ten P.M., the temp still shouldered eighty. Yet, it felt refreshingly cool.
The cats were on the front porch and yard. Every foot seemed to hold a cat. None watched me, or moved, but a few made soft mewling noises. They all stared outward. I turned my light in that direction.
Something was in the street past the rock rose.
The something stared back with large amber eyes. They narrowed as they watched me.
Not a raccoon or deer, I decided. Wolf? The shape behind those eyes were uncertain. Sweat dripping down my face and body, I crept forward with the flashlight. The amber eyes rose higher. I realized they were in a head on a neck as thick as my torso.
I realized it was a fucking dragon.
I realized that was fucking impossible.
I realized I was completely motionless.
I realized the fucking dragon was moving toward me.
I realized that I had no fucking idea of what to do. Some part of me seized the situation by the balls. I said, “Well, aren’t you a pretty dragon?” My tone suggested seeing a dragon was as common as seeing a cat.
Crawling forward, the dragon issued a creaky growl in response. The creature was bigger than my circle of light. My testicles climbed up into my body for protection. I tried swallowing, but there wasn’t anything there.
The cats all began meowing. The dragon shuffled forward, parting the rock rose like it was grass. My light revealed wings, scales, claws, a snout, and teeth. Yes, those were the primary dragon parts. I didn’t think running would do much good. I figured a dragon could probably take me, and that if it wanted to, I’d already be gnawed on like a bucket of chicken wings at a bar.
Stopping, the dragon thrust its head toward me. Taller than me, it lowered its head until our eyes were at the same level. Then it looked me over like a John sizing up a hooker. I did nothing but sweat and breath. I’m not positive about that latter, but I felt the sweat dripping off my hair onto my neck.
The dragon snorted. I jumped. I think I pissed myself a little. Realizing it was moving, I stumbled backward. With the cats meowing more loudly and intensely in a way that I’d never known, the dragon crawled forward into their midst on my front yard. Stopping, it curled up, drawing its tail around its body, and folding its wings against its sides. The cats swarmed over it. Many sniffed and licked the dragon.
He or she allowed it.
Finding body control and reasoning, I went into my house, brought out my cell phone, and took a photo.
The photo showed nothing there but the yard. Not even the cats were visible in the photo.
The felines were all settled against or on the dragon. All, dragon and cats, were looking at me. A chorus of purrs thrummed the air. Uncertain of what the fuck else to do – call animal control? – I stole back in the house. I left the front light on, opened the blind, and spent the night hours alternating between watching the dragon, searching the net for news about dragons, and trying to get a photograph of it.
It was still there in the morning, as the first people began their daily routines of biking, walking, jogging, and driving to appointments. None made it past my house. All drew up to stare, as I did, and try to photograph the beast and the felines on my front lawn. Dogs seeing the dragon, though, turned and fled.
I think this might be the beginning of a new era on Earth. Or maybe it was the return of an old cycle. You know.
Round and round.