The Last of its Kind
A lizard with glittering fuchsia scales scampered across the leaf litter, searching for tasty bugs. An azure-blue flower bloomed on the tip of his tail. He was one of a precious few- a flower lizard. Little did he know, disaster was coming. Little did he know, death was approaching.
Growl. The flower lizard turned his head. Growl. Murderous eyes glared through the leaves. The flower lizard bolted away, hiding under a bush. Behind him, vicious teeth devoured the remaining flower lizards with greed. The monster turned its fiery eyes towards him. He darted through the undergrowth with lightning speed, thrashing his tail vigorously. But the monster still loomed behind him.
PLONG! He took a flying leap. A flying leap that would save his life. The monster was gone. All he could see was lush rain forest. All he could hear was the harmonious chirping of crickets. All he knew was that he was alone.
“Look!” Max said. Max’s head was buried in a book. He was looking at a picture of a lizard with vibrant purple scales, and an azure-blue flower blooming on its tail.
Caramel, his dog, just laid slackly outstretched on the floor. Caramel had tawny brown fur with an icy white left ear. She was sort of weird in that sometimes she was lazy like a cat, and other times she jumped really high, as if she was flying. Max held a treat up to Caramel’s nose. She sniffed it, then walked away.
“Flower Lizard,” Max read aloud, “Only one remaining. Lives in tropical forests near Splunk City.” Excitement spread across Max’s face. “We live in Splunk City, Caramel! Isn’t this exciting?”
Caramel came back for the treat, her copper-brown fur glinting in the light. She barked while Max handed her the treat. “Good dog,” He said. Caramel glanced at Max, who was lost in thought. Finding it will be hard, Max thought. What if the last one dies before I find it?
Caramel barked. Max turned his head towards the walls of his room. A calendar hung on it. “Perfect,” Max said, marking a square on the calendar.
The next day, Max got packing. He wrote a list of things he needed: his book about flower lizards, bug spray, bandages, a compass, a tent, water, blankets, and a toy dolphin to sleep with. Once packed, he thought of what he should tell his parents. “My friends invited me to camp this weekend, I’m taking Caramel,” said Max to his Mom.
“Sure, why didn't you tell me before?” his mom replied. “I forgot," Max said. "But thanks, Mom!” Max grabbed Caramel and rushed out the door before his mom could change her mind.
Max and Caramel walked along what seemed like a never-ending sea of houses. After a couple of hours, houses got sparer and finally, nothing but green surrounded the pair. Rainbow flowers hung on branches, as birds with kaleidoscopic colors soared above the trees. They were in the jungle.
Wow! Max thought. A flamboyantly colored snake draped itself on a branch, its iridescent scales gleaming in the sun. The jungle was full of noise. A cacophony of birds chirping and frogs croaking filled the forest.
Abruptly, a gush of rain poured down from the sky. Caramel barked at the raindrops while Max dragged him under a palm tree for shelter. As the rain stopped, Max suddenly felt scorching heat as dew from Caramel’s fur boiled and steamed. We're either being roasted or drenched in the jungle, he thought. Eventually Max decided to keep trekking.
The trees grew taller while birds squawked louder than loud can be. Caramel took flying leaps above shrubs, as Max struggled to walk through the undergrowth. Then out of the blue, two blood-red eyes poked out from the forest. Low growls rattled the trees.
The monster’s snakelike face teared out of the trees. It glared maliciously at Max. Max gingerly stepped back as Caramel barked. Without warning, the monster hissed then dashed towards Max, its serpentine body straight and ready to attack. Max leapt back as Caramel flew backwards. The monster hissed, “You won’t, won’t survive.”
A long, staff-like stick lay on the leaf litter. Perfect. Max thought. He grabbed the stick and jabbed it at the monster.
“Useless.” The monster growled, its scales gleaming malevolently. Suddenly, the monster lunged forward at Max’s stick. SNAP! Now Max had no clue what to do next.
“I was a human once, a poacher.” The monster hissed. “I ate flower lizards, tons of them, I became a monster, a snake monster, I ate every last flower lizard, all but one. A clever one, he escaped. Now I’m left hungry, and I must eat, eat you.”
Now I know what killed them all, Max thought, that horrifying beast. Caramel barked at the monster menacingly.
“Barking isn't, isn't gonna scare me, scare me off.” The monster said.
Caramel kept at it, but the monster did not budge. Then suddenly, Caramel's fur melted away, replaced by shimmering scales. Wings sprouted from her back as reptilian features spread across her face.
She’s a dragon dog! Max thought. That's why she jumps so high.
“More, more food.” The monster said. It lunged towards Caramel. Max jumped and grabbed the monster by the neck. It rocked wildly as Max struggled to hold on. Caramel turned to the monster, her mouth open. A crimson flame flaring wildly from her mouth, hitting the monster. The creature screamed in agony.
Max fell to the ground. “Good dragon dog.” Max stroked Caramel’s scales in relief.
Suddenly, blue and purple flashes streaked through the grass.
Then the flashing stopped. Max saw iridescent scales, shimmering a vibrant purple.
The flower lizard, it's here! Max thought. He put his hand out, but the flower lizard cowered under a shrub, then dashed underground. Caramel started to dig, but Max said, “Let’s give him some time.” Caramel didn't listen, and instead dug vigorously. Suddenly, blue petals and a reptilian face poked out of the soil, but they disappeared in an instant.
Caramel searched through the leaf litter. She started to dig again, this time sluggishly, but Max caught a glint of purple in the corner of his eye. The flower lizard peeped his snout out of the dirt.
Eventually, it came out. Max put his hand out. "Don't worry, little guy," he said. "You have nothing to be afraid of."
The flower lizard took a small step, his tail wiggling in fear. He took one small step at a time, eventually into Max’s hands. He glanced around, all he saw was Max’s hands, and the greens and browns of the forest.
Nothing to be afraid of. The flower lizard thought. He felt Max’s soft fingers on his back. Nothing to be afraid of. But he couldn't shake the feeling that something was out there, something dangerous, in the midst of all that green. Something was out to get him.
(The flower lizard’s perspective)
I saw danger in the bushes, I tried to tell the boy holding me. I waved my flowered tail vigorously. He paid no attention.
The danger reappeared, camouflaged with the mottled greens of the forest.
This time I tried signalling to the dragon dog, opening my mouth, my teeth sticking out. She took no notice!
The danger got closer. My scales burned with anticipation, ready to run.
Did I have to protect the boy and the dragon dog? Or did I have to save myself? Did I have to use my powers?
The danger got even closer. My scales burned like I was on fire. This was it. I had to protect them.
“Uh oh.” The boy said. They finally noticed them. We started running.
I started working my powers. Indigo flames caught my body. My eyes turned milky white. I was ready to strike.
The danger turned out to be two armed men. Poachers. One shouted murderously, “Looky here... a boy, a dragon dog, and a flower lizard... looks like we just hit the jackpot!”
It was time. I channeled my powers. Sapphire flames flew at the enemy. Well, at least I thought they would. Instead, the flames vanished as if they were never there. My eyes returned to normal.
The dragon dog turned to the men and opened her mouth. A coral-red flame burst at the poachers. “Useless!” one of them said.
“Don’t take Caramel or the flower lizard!” the boy yelled. But the men dashed towards him. I knew this was the end.
I had to protect the flower lizard, but how? I knew I had no time to think.
The poachers were coming for us. It was now or never. I dashed as fast as I could.
Caramel followed, her lime-green scales mixing with the emerald forest. The poachers were gaining on us.
All of a sudden, the flower lizard leapt onto the ground. What was he doing?
Only then did I know about its powers. Sea-green flames lit its scales, and its eyes changed to an opalescent white.
I had to help. I grabbed a piece of bamboo. We got ready to strike. The poachers would learn not to mess with us. It was time. Wrong. The flames vanished into thin air as the poachers got ready to attack.
POW! The next thing I knew, I was on the ground. Blood trickled down my leg, and it felt like it was on fire. The poachers grabbed the flower lizard. Oh no! I had to save it.
I had to save the flower lizard.
Max would be hopeless at saving it; a deep gash ran through his leg. A flame raged in my mouth.
I opened my mouth in a menacing way, showing them the raging flame.
Max decided to help, grabbing his pine-green bamboo staff.
All at once, I shot the flame at the poachers.
The radiant flame and smoke smothered the poachers as the flower lizard jumped to the ground.
Now we had to escape.
I bolted away.
All that was left of the poachers was a pile of dusky-black ashes, but we were not out of danger.
The malicious monster I burned was back and ready to eat us.
(To be continued….)