I’m drowning. I’m slowly sinking down into the stone-cold depths of the sea. No! This isn’t right. I struggle upwards, swimming towards the surface of the water, kicking as hard as I can. My heavy waterlogged clothes weigh me down, but finally, I break the surface of the water.
I tread water, gasping and coughing up saltwater. I blink the water from my eyes and look around for shore. I see it, just a little way off, a small stretch of beach. I begin to swim. I need to find a way to get back home! I don’t know how I got here. One minute I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep, and the next minute I was drowning in the middle of the ocean.
I reach the shore and drag myself up onto the warm, sandy beach. I look around. the landscape is picturesque, with the beach, a couple of palm trees, a field of grass and wildflowers a little way off. The sky is blue and cloudless and a light breeze rustles the leaves of the palm trees. However nice it is, I should still find out where I am, and how to get home.
A clue to where I am reveals itself just a little ways away. I see a small, wooden sign reading: “Welcome to the Island of Adventure. This is Alligator Bay.” I only have a minute to puzzle over the name, when I hear a splashing sort of sound coming from the water like something swimming fast towards me.
I turn to the water and see a big, green creature swimming through the water to shore. I am no longer wondering why this place is called Alligator Bay. I begin to run, heading towards the field of grass and wildflowers. I look up to see a huge alligator emerging from the water and chasing me towards the field. I run faster and enter the field.
As I hurry in, I have just long enough to read another sign and I enter the field. This one says: “Beware; you are now entering the Plains of Hidden Fears.” The moment I pass the sign, I trip over a root and fall to the ground. I try to get up but my foot is stuck under the root! The alligator is coming closer and closer!
I desperately try to yank my foot free, but it’s stuck fast! I close my eyes, waiting for the clamp of the alligator’s jaws around my neck. But it doesn’t come. I open my eyes and look up. The alligator has stopped a few feet away, right next to the sign. I think of what the sign said: “Beware, you are now entering the Plains of Hidden Fears.” Maybe the alligator is afraid of the plains. No, that doesn’t make sense. Why would the alligator be afraid of the plains? What fears could possibly be hidden here? Besides, alligators can’t read! But then why would the alligator chase me, then stop when it reached the plains. Then I hear a shuffling noise and see the alligator slowly lumbering back towards the water, it’s tail dragging dejectedly on the ground.
I hear another noise then, a noise that strikes fear into my heart. A noise that makes me shiver with fright. Slithering. The sound of a snake slithering through grass. I know it’s silly, but I’m terrified of snakes. I know I should get away, but I can’t. I’m frozen with terror. Finally, I see the snake. It’s long and green with a triangular head and long fangs. I can tell just by looking at it that it’s poisonous. Now I do get up and run, as far away from the snake as possible. I’ve only gone a few yards when I hear hissing from in front of me. Another snake! I turn to run in another direction and hear more hissing. I hear the snakes, now from every direction like they’re closing in on me. I close my eyes, cover my ears and run blindly through the field, trying to get away from the snakes! Stumbling and tripping I finally make my way out of the field of snakes and collapse onto the ground.
I just lay there for a minute, breathing hard, trying to calm down. Eventually, I sit up and look around. I’m sitting next to a glistening pool of crystal clear water. I crawl over and dip in my finger. It feels cool and soft. When I touch it, a ripple spreads out from my fingertips and spreads outwards across the entire pool. When the ripple fades away, an image appears in its place. It’s a picture of a wooden sign, like the ones at Alligator Bay and the Plains of Hidden Fears. On it is written: “Welcome to the Pool of Distant Thoughts.” The image lingers for a moment and then disperses, to be replaced with more pictures. Pictures of everything I’ve ever thought about. Pictures of things I didn’t even know I thought about. Pictures of things I’ve tried to forget. It’s wonderful and horrible at the same time.
I don’t know how long I stay in front of the pool. It could be days or mere minutes. But finally, I am jerked back to reality by a feeling of something cold and hard closing around my middle. I wrench eyes away from the pool and look up to see what has got hold of me. Above me, flapping upward with its powerful wings is a real, live, Dragon! It’s huge and green and scaly, with two small horns on its head. Its claws are sharp but gentle. It’s magnificent and terrifying. It scoops me off the ground in its claws and carries me higher and higher into the sky. The wind rushes past my face and blows back my long hair. I see the island getting smaller and smaller beneath me. I, Ella Plansky, am flying.
As quickly as we flew up, we begin to descend. The dragon swoops down towards a mountain. As we get closer I see that on the mountain there is a cave. It is into this cave that the dragon takes me, dropping me on the floor next to a sign reading: “The Dragon’s Cave. Enter at your own risk.” The dragon lands gently beside me. I can’t help thinking that it is very graceful for such a large creature.
The cave is not as I would have expected a dragon’s cave to be. There was no gold or jewels or other treasure. Just one big fireplace with a log the size of an entire tree in the back of the cave. The dragon lights the fire with one fiery breath, then turns to look at me. Is it going to eat me?
“I’m not going to eat you.” Says the dragon, as if reading my thoughts. “In fact, I brought you here to rescue you from the enticement of the Pool of Distant Thoughts.” “Oh,” I say. I guess the pool was a sort of enticement. It was alluring and bewitching, and without the help of the dragon I probably would of stayed at the pool forever.
“What are you going to do with me?” I ask.
“Well,” replied the dragon thoughtfully, “I can tell you’re not from the island. Would you like to go home?” I nod. “Well then, I will show you the way. Climb onto my back.”
This is no easy feat. The dragon’s scales are slippery and hard to climb, but eventually, I make my way up onto the dragon’s back and grab hold of a large scale jutting out from the dragon’s neck. The dragon lumbers to the edge of the cave, spreads its wings, and takes off into the sky.
It soars high and fast across the island. When we begin to descend I see that we are landing near the ocean. I smell the salt and hear the waves lapping the shore. We land with a bump next to a wooden dock. A wooden sign like so many others around the island announces that this is the boat landing. At the end of the dock there is something bobbing in the water, but I’m too far away to see what it is.
“Go,” whispers the dragon. “Walk down the dock and tell the ferryman you wish to go home.”
“The ferryman?” I ask.
“The man in the boat at the end of the dock. You’ll know him when you see him,” answers the dragon.
I begin to walk down the dock. When I get to the end I see that what was bobbing in the water was indeed a small rowboat. There is a figure sitting in it covered in a brown tattered old cloak. He can only be the ferryman.
I clear my throat and say, “I was told you could give me a ride home.”
The ferryman nods and gestures to the only empty seat. I step in and sit down, and it is only then that I realize how immensely tired I am. I shift in my seat and lay down on the bench. The ferryman pushes away from the dock and we glide gently thru the water. I hear the water lapping softly against the side of the boat. Splish splash, splish splash, splish splash……..
I wake up. I’m in bed It’s 7:30 and my alarm is ringing. It was all a dream. I get up, throw on some clothes, and go downstairs for breakfast.