The Writings of Michael J. Bowler

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        A BOY AND HIS DRAGON

 

Bradley Wallace Murphy just turned thirteen, and he’s not happy about it. His life is lousy, with no relief in sight. He doesn’t fit in at school, he’s no good at sports, a bully torments him, he’s a disappointment to his parents, and his only “friends” are fictional characters on a TV show called “Dark Shadows.” He’s on the verge of manhood - and wants no part of that, either.

Then he finds the egg.

And everything changes.

From this egg hatches Whilly, a supposedly mythological dragon that bonds with him physically, emotionally and spiritually. The sudden responsibility of hiding and feeding and caring for a rapidly growing dragon in a small California city in 1970 forces Bradley Wallace to grow up whether he wants to or not. 

Through their adventures together, boy and dragon  learn the true nature of their symbiosis, and Bradley Wallace comes to understand that  he is not just a misfit kid who happened to find a misfit creature from some other time.

He is something far more dangerous.

More dangerous than anyone in history.

So dangerous that he’ll be killed if the truth comes out.

The boy who doesn’t want to grow up comes to realize that it might actually be better if he didn’t.

“A Boy and His Dragon” excerpt from Chap 14


     During that night, the wind kicked up again, howling

fiercely. It rattled the house so severely that Bradley Wallace woke

several times fearing the structure would be viciously torn from its

foundation and whisked high above a writhing funnel of spinning

air, just like Dorothy’s house in “The Wizard of Oz.” The Murphy

home, however, remained earthbound.

     By morning, the street outside looked as though a battle had

been raging all night long. Broken, splintered tree limbs, and several

of the uprooted trees from which they came, were scattered sadly to

and fro across the pavement looking lost and forlorn. Plants of every

description had been torn from the ground, fences ripped from their

foundations, garbage cans rolled and clattered up and down the

street, and thousands of leaves blew in every direction, whipping

constantly off the asphalt into mini-tornadoes. And the wind

continued unabated. If anything, it increased in sheer force, and

Bradley Wallace found it difficult even to walk outside - it felt like

he was trudging through three feet of snow during a raging blizzard.

But there was a good side to this weather, he noted to himself - it

wasn’t raining.

     The tempest continued to grow in strength throughout the

afternoon, with winds being clocked at over one hundred miles per

hour, and threatened to rip the mighty Golden Gate Bridge from its

moorings. The TV news had live cameras at the sight, and Bradley

Wallace gazed in fearful awe at the swaying span, which looked no

more solid than a hammock in a blustery summer breeze. The wind

was reportedly getting stronger, the newscaster said, adding that

bridge officials feared this could mark the end of the world-famous

landmark.

     Katie desperately wanted someone to drive her out to the

bridge just so she could watch it fall and then call all her friends to

tell them about it. But neither parent would consent to go with her,

as it was too dangerous and too crowded. The TV newscasters kept

telling people to stay away. Angrily, Katie stalked off to her room to

sulk, muttering about what she’d do when she was old enough to

drive on her own. Jack finally changed the channel to the golf

tournament, and Marge went back to her room to read a book. All of

which left Bradley Wallace on his own with nothing to do except

homework, and he just didn’t feel in the mood. Not with all that was

happening at the bridge and everything.

     On impulse, the boy donned his heaviest jacket and gloves

and dashed out the front door into the street. The wind nearly

knocked him down, and he could barely open his eyes against its

force. He summoned Whilly, and the two rendezvoused deep within

the Gully. The aged warehouse in which he’d first found the dragon

stood naked and exposed against a stark background of weeds and

dirt, and the old, familiar rope swing twisted frantically in the wind

like a snake in its death throes.

     *I want to go look at the Golden Gate Bridge,* he said

telepathically once the dragon had landed beside him. It was much

too windy to talk out loud without shouting.

     *Do you think it will fall?* Whilly asked, reading the

thought behind the boy’s request.

     *I don’t know,* Bradley Wallace answered truthfully. But

he knew he didn’t want it to fall. *Let’s go see.*

     When they arrived on the scene, all roads onto the bridge

from both directions were closed off and barricades had been set up

along the perimeters to keep the hundreds of milling spectators back

away from the danger zone. The bridge creaked and groaned in pain

as it was stretched and buffeted about like an old piece of string. One

of man’s greatest engineering achievements was clearly no match for

the awesome power of Mother Nature, and looked close to

collapsing at any moment.

     Whilly set down atop a ragged bluff overlooking both the

highway and the dying bridge, and instantly made himself invisible

so no one below might look up and spot him. Bradley Wallace

slipped down to the rocky surface of the precipice and gazed in

amazement at the sight before him. He couldn’t believe that mere

wind, something he couldn’t even see, had the power to sway such a

massive steel structure with so much ease. The grating and twisting

sounds of struggling metal rose to his ears, and a wave of sadness

came with them. The bridge had existed long before he was born,

and should remain long after he died. It was special, almost a living

being unto itself, and he didn’t want to see it die.

     Whilly hesitated before delivering his next thought. Even

though he’d been told it was now Bradley Wallace’s time, still he

hesitated. He knew the boy had to find out, but was this the right

moment? Would Bradley Wallace be able to handle such a

revelation, or would it destroy his rather fragile mind? He knew the

boy better than anyone else, and even he didn’t know the answer to

that question. But then, he believed in this child, didn’t he? Yes, he

decided, he did.

     *You can save it, Bradley Wallace,* he finally said, hoping

his judgment was correct.

     Bradley Wallace gave him a sharp look. “Don’t kid around,

Whilly,” he chastised out loud. “This isn’t funny.”

     *I’m not joking, Bradley Wallace,* the dragon assured him

seriously. *You have the power to save that bridge if you choose to

use it.*

     A sudden chill, like the realization of impending death,

curled slowly around the boy’s heart, and he felt exactly the same as

he had with Mr. O’Conner and the unspoken matter of the pictures -

afraid. “What are you talking about?” he asked uncertainly.

     *If you concentrate hard enough, and I help, you can stop

that bridge from swaying,* Whilly explained simply, carefully.

     “You’re crazy!” the boy scoffed, unable to hide the quiver in

his voice. “No one can control the wind.”

     *Not the wind, Bradley Wallace, the bridge. You can create

a force equal and opposite to that of the wind with your mind, a

force that will cancel out the effects of the wind. And the bridge will

stop swinging.*

     “That’s impossible!” Bradley Wallace insisted, refusing to

meet the dragon’s probing eyes. He gaped instead at the Golden

Gate below.

     *It is possible, Bradley Wallace. And if you don’t do it, the

bridge will be destroyed. It’s your choice.*

    Bradley Wallace was silent. He knew Whilly well enough to

know the dragon didn’t joke, but he also knew that what his friend

suggested was simply impossible for any human to accomplish.

Especially him. And yet, that little subconscious voice tickled at the

back of his mind, assuring him he could do it.

     Another wailing banshee-like shriek from the tortured bridge

painfully pierced his eardrums, like fingernails scratching across a

blackboard, and he knew he just couldn’t stand there and watch the

Golden Gate plunge into the ocean.

     *Just concentrate, Bradley Wallace,* Whilly told him

quickly, while the boy’s feelings of compassion were strongest.

     *Focus every part of your mind on the image of that bridge

as it should be, stationary and unmoving. Your will must be

unbending, Bradley Wallace. You must want it from the heart

before it will come from the mind.*

     Almost robotically, Bradley Wallace obeyed. He

concentrated, emptying his mind of all images save that of the bridge

as he’d always known it - solid and eternal, untouchable by wind or

rain, a lasting tribute to man’s ingenuity, strength, and artistry. But

the image wasn’t pure. Something crept in, traces of fear, droplets

of doubt telling him what he was attempting was impossible and

foolish.

     Whilly knew he had to awaken pleasurable memories the boy

associated with this structure, for Bradley Wallace’s mind was

fighting him, setting up barriers that only strong emotions could

break down. He searched back into Bradley Wallace’s past, and

plucked out an incident that might serve his purpose.

     *Remember, Bradley Wallace, the time you and Mr. O’Conner walked

across this bridge? It was a bright summer day and you were six years old. You carried an ice cream cone, and you were so excited about being

up so high that you threw the cone off the bridge into the water

below. Remember how much you laughed at that?*

     Bradley Wallace smiled. He did remember, and with the

memory came the feelings of joy associated with that day so many

years ago, feelings that unlocked the power within him.

    Without warning, the roaring floodwaters that signaled its

release pounded through his head like a whirlwind, and he felt

himself in touch with everything around him - the water, air, plants,

rock, everything. It felt as if all those things were part of him, and

he them, and the power was his to command. His eyes blazed bright

red, and his body coruscated with pulsating energy, the energy of the

earth itself. He felt ablaze with power, and locked his eyes and heart

on the swaying Golden Gate Bridge below.

    And he commanded it to stop moving.

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