Chapter 2: Going to the Mall
That night, Alex, my dad, Theian, and I sat at the dinner table, waiting for Z'haer, Eig'nia, and Girido to return. My stomach was growling at me. It was telling me that it wanted food and it wanted food now. Dad had a chicken cooking in the oven that felt like it had been in there forever. I moaned as I slammed my head down on the table, feeling lightheaded.
"Jakol, head up." Dad commanded.
As soon as I heard him say that, I immediately swung my head up. My dad looked at me with an angry kind of look for a few seconds then turned his attention to Theian.
"Theian, how did their first day of training go?" Asked dad.
"Rather well. Alex shows a lot of promise. His strength should become a valuable asset to you in the future. Jake, however…While he shows potential, he's uneasy about using his powers. I hope to be able to change that." Theian said.
"Oh? And how do you plan to do that?" Dad asked, sounding interested.
"I'm not sure yet. But I'll think of a way." Theian answered.
"Hmph!" Dad smiled. "I admire your enthusiasm Theian. I will continue to leave their training to you."
"Thank you sir." Said Theian.
Just then, the oven timer dinged and a knock came from the door both at just about the same time. The door opened and into the kitchen walked Eig'nia, Girido, and Z'haer. They sat down at the table just as dad was pulling the chicken out of the oven. Dad brought the chicken to the table and sat it down. Then he took off his oven mitts and set them on the kitchen counter. I put my hand over my mouth, smiling, trying to keep myself from laughing too loudly. The thought of a dragon wearing oven mitts just seemed so funny to me. I didn't even know if dragons who were in human form could handle a tin just out of the oven with their bare hands. I guessed not if dad had to wear those every time he cooked.
Dad brought out seven plates and gave us each one. He took a knife and cut into the chicken, giving us a piece each. As soon as we were given our food, we immediately started eating, but before I started to eat, I got up and grabbed myself a glass of water and then went back to my seat.
"So how did things go? Did you find a good place to start?" Dad asked Eig'nia, Z'haer, and Girido, taking a bite of his chicken.
"Not yet sir. So far all the places we've inspected were much too big to begin the operation. We will be moving our search further out west tomorrow." Said Eig'nia, setting her knife and fork on her plate.
"Excellent. I look forward to your results Eig'nia." Dad said, smiling.
"Yes…" I heard Eig'nia say quietly. Strangely, she sounded a little sad.
For a few minutes, we were all quiet. No one said a thing while we concentrated on our food. Suddenly, Girido sat his chicken leg down on his plate as he chewed. Once he swallowed, he placed his fork in his plate next to the chicken leg and leaned forward in his chair.
"So boys, how did your training with Theian go? Was he yelling at you the whole time?" Girido asked in a mocking voice.
"N-No, it was fine." I answered him, unsure of what else to say.
"Really?!" Girido said, pretending to sound surprised. "Goodness me! I guess Theian isn't such a bad guy after all!"
Theian jerked out of his chair, knocking it over, his left hand tightly clenching his fork as he looked at Girido angrily.
"Girido, how about you shut your goddamn mouth before I shut it for you!" Theian roared, looking like he was about to pounce on Girido at any moment.
"Ohh hoo!!" Girido laughed. "I'm SOOOO scared! Just sit down. You're embarrassing yourself in front of Lord Saulstrance."
"That's enough children." Z'haer butted in, sounding irritated by their fighting. "We're all working towards the same goal. So as long as we're working together, we might as well make nice."
"I can agree with that." Eig'nia replied, biting off some chicken skin.
Without saying anything else, Theian shrunk back into his chair and continued eating. For the rest of dinner, no one said anything. Once we were done, we just went straight to bed. I said goodnight to Alex who said goodnight back. Then I told Theian goodnight but he didn't say anything. He made his way to the door, followed by Girido, Eig'nia, and Z'haer. I closed the door to my room and went over to my window and watched as Theian opened a portal that he and the others went through.
I laid down in my bed, putting my arms behind my head, looking up at the ceiling as I thought about what happened at dinner tonight. I felt pretty bad for Theian. Girido knew how easy it was to make Theian angry and whenever they were together, he'd always try to make him mad. I didn't think Theian did anything to deserve that. Sometimes I wished that Girido would just leave him alone.
As I continued to think, there was a knock at my door. The door opened as Alex walked into my room. He sat down on the side of my bed and turned towards me.
"Hey man. Sorry Girido had to go and ruin your birthday." Alex said.
"It's okay, he didn't ruin it. It's just…I don't know…I think he's just a real jerk. I don't like him very much." I said.
"Just be glad dad didn't make you too work together." Alex added.
"I know right?" I said, sitting up and laughing. "It would've been worse if dad made him and Girido work together! Just think!"
"They'd end up killing each other!" Alex exclaimed.
"Yeah." I agreed.
Alex stood up and walked towards the open door. I laid back down and was about to close my eyes before Alex said my name.
"Oh! And, Jake?" Alex said.
"Yeah Alex?" I responded.
"Happy birthday, lil' bro."
I smiled. "Thanks, big bro."
Alex left my room and headed to his. I heard him say goodnight to dad as he passed him the hall. Just as I was about to turn off my light, dad came in, standing in the doorway. I turned over on my stomach and saw him looking over at me.
"So did you have a good birthday son?" Asked dad.
"Yeah. It was okay." I answered.
"I see that Alex got you a pretty neat birthday present." Dad said as he walked over to my PS5 that was still in the box.
"Hmm…Playstation 5…" Dad said as he picked my PS5 and studied it, turning the box over every few seconds and reading out loud what was on each side. Being old and a dragon, I guessed that he didn't know much about video games. I wondered, if I was able to get dad to play some games, would he be any good? …Probably not.
Dad placed my PS5 back on the ground and took a seat on my bed.
"Sorry that Theian and Girido ruined your birthday dinner." Dad said.
"It's okay. They didn't ruin it." I said, telling dad the same thing I told Alex.
"In addition to your video game, Alex and I also got you a chocolate cake. We were going to have some after dinner but…Well, maybe we can all have some tomorrow."
Dad stood up and walked to the door. He looked back at me one last time before leaving my room.
"Get some good sleep, Jakol. You have another big day of training tomorrow."
"I know." I said, shutting my eyes immediately after he said that.
"If training goes well tomorrow, I'll let you stay up until midnight so you can play your video games."
"Really?!" I said a little loudly, my eyes bursting open in excitement.
Dad shut off the lights and closed my door. I closed my eyes again and started to feel sleepy. I opened my eyes one last time so I could get a look at my PS5 once more. I blinked several times and then fell asleep.
The next day, Theian woke me and Alex up at around 9:00 in the morning so that we could get to the mall sooner. Our training went until about 1:00. By then it was time for us to head to the mall.
Theian changed into his dragon form and instructed us to climb on. He crouched down so that me and Alex could get on his back. Once we were aboard, Theian stood up and opened his wings.
"You know, I really don't think this is such a good idea." Theian muttered, lowering his head.
"Aw c'mon Theian! It'll be fun!!" I said in an excited voice, smiling widely.
"Fun for you kids! What am I supposed to do if some humans see me in this form?" Theian asked, sounding testy.
"Don't worry about it Theian! We'll cross that bridge when we come to it!" Alex said, sounding like he didn't have a care in the world.
"You kids are just trying to annoy me now, aren't you?" Theian sighed. "Oh well."
"Hold on tight!" Theian said and before we knew it, we were flying at superfast speeds straight into the air. First we were thirty feet in the air, then fifty, one hundred, soon we were more than three hundred feet above the ground. I looked over the side just to see how high up we were. My body started to shake in fear as I closed my eyes and wrapped my arms tightly around Theian's neck. I knew I had wings and that if I did fall off, I could either fly back up or try and fly to the ground but I didn't know just how long my wings would be able to carry me and I wasn't about to try.
We flew through the air, soaring high above the many houses, apartments, businesses, we were soaring over everything! I looked down again and saw all the people walking below us. They didn't even look like people, they looked more like ants. Even though I was still a little scared, I had to admit, I was having a lot of fun. Me and Alex, we were the only kids who ever got to ride on a dragon's back. I smiled at that thought. I thought it made us pretty cool.
"YEAH!!! WHOO!!! WHOOOOOOO!!!" I shouted and cheered at the top of my voice, pumping my fist in the air a couple times.
"Isn't this awesome Alex?" I asked, turning around to face Alex and pushing my bangs back.
"Yeah! You havin' fun too Theian?" Alex asked, sounding excited, pushing his hair back too.
"It's not bad." Theian answered.
"Now hold on tight. I'm gonna show you kids something cool." Not sure what Theian meant but following his instruction anyway, I grabbed hold of Theian's neck and Alex wrapped his arms around my waist. Theian flew slightly higher and did two backflips. My legs pressed tightly against the sides of Theian's neck while Alex's dangled off the side. I screamed, fearing thatmy arms wouldn't be able hold on and I'd fall off.
Once Theian stopped, I put my hand over my chest, taking as many deep breaths as I could. My eyes were wide and my heart was pounding.
"You okay Alex?" I asked.
"Ye-yeah." Alex responded, panting almost as badly as I was.
I shut my eyes, taking in one gigantic breath and exhaled. I looked down and saw that we were almost directly above the mall.
"Ooh, Theian! That's it! That's the mall!" I said, pointing ahead of us.
"Alright. Now the question is: Where can we land?" Said Theian.
"There's a parking garage built underneath the mall. We could fly through there." Alex said.
"Are there people in this parking garage?" Theian asked.
"Nah! Usually they're upstairs buying stuff." I said.
Theian flew around the mall, looking for the entrance to the parking garage. Once he found it, Theian swooped down into the garage, coming in for a rough landing as he collided into a car and me and Alex fell off of him. I looked at my knee and my elbow that had been scrapped. Although they weren't bleeding, they still hurt quite a bit so I rubbed them, trying to take some of the pain away. I saw that Alex was rubbing his arm and leg too. When I looked over at Theian, who had changed into his human form, I noticed that the car he crashed into was squished so it looked like one of those little box shaped cars. Two other cars had their backs destroyed and almost taken completely off by Theian's powerful tail.
"Umm…Oops?" I said nervously as the three of us stood up.
Panicking at the thought that one of the owners would come down and see what we did to their car, I looked around, hoping to find the escalator leading into the mall. I noticed it at the far end of the parking garage so I ran towards the escalator with Theian and Alex following behind me. We rode it up and a few seconds later, we were standing in the mall.
"Huh…Sure are a lot of people here." Theian said, walking forward and looking around in amazement.
"Haven't you ever been to the mall before Theian?" I asked.
Theian shook his head. "No. In fact, until now I never even knew what a mall was."
"Seriously?!" I asked, finding it hard to believe what he was saying. "Geez just how much time HAVE you spent in our world?"
"So Alex, you ready to buy me those games you promised?" I asked, smiling as I turned around and walked backwards.
"Yea-Yeah, sure…" Alex said dully.
"You okay Alex?" I asked, stopping in front of him.
"I asked if you're okay." I said.
"Oh, yeah, sure I'm fine!" Alex said. "Well, come on Jake! Let's go get you some games!" Alex said, marching ahead of us.
Even though Alex said he was okay, I knew he wasn't. He always acted like this whenever we were around humans. When it was just us he was usually pretty happy but whenever we'd go somewhere like the movies or Gamestop, he'd always become really angry. I didn't really know much about what happened to Alex before my dad adopted him. He never wanted to talk about his past. All dad ever told me was that Alex's real dad, a human, did something terrible to his mom, a dragon, and that's how he came to live with us.
Theian and I followed after Alex as he made his way towards Gamestop. As I walked into the store, I bumped into a boy about my age who was just leaving, knocking his game out of his hand.
"Aw man I'm sorry!" I said as I bent over to pick up his game for him.
I handed the kid's game to him. He was about my height and had slightly tan skin and dark brown hair. He wore dark grey shorts and a white shirt with nothing on it. He thanked me and ran out the door, saying goodbye to the guy working at Gamestop who he called Billy.
As I walked over to the PS5 games, Billy asked me if I needed help finding anything. I told him that I was just looking right now as I kneeled down and glanced over the games. Not finding anything I wanted on that row, I stood up and browsed another row. This time I came across two games: One was Street Fighter 10 and the other, which was also a Street Fighter game was DC Heroes Vs Street Fighter, both of which were about $49.99. As badly as I wanted both games, I knew that was a lot of money so I'd probably only be able to get one. The question was which one? Both games sounded really good but eventually I settled on DC Heroes Vs Street Fighter since that one not only had the Street Fighter characters but also characters like Batman, Superman, Green Lantern and all the other DC superheroes.
With one game picked out, I figured I could probably get one more. This time I wanted to get a game like Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy. I remembered hearing that a new Final Fantasy came out a while ago that was kinda like Kingdom Hearts called Final Fantasy Versus 13 so I glanced around the middle shelves, looking for the "F" games. After searching for a little bit, I came across the game. As soon as I spotted it I picked up the game and placed it on top of my Street Fighter game. With my games picked out I took them over to Alex who was standing by the counter. Alex took the games and gave them to Billy.
"This it?" Asked Billy.
"Yeah." I responded.
Billy rang the games up. They ended up being about ninety dollars together. Alex reached into his pocket, pulling out only forty dollars. I reached into my pocket to see if I had any money I could give Alex. I pulled out all of my money which was only thirty dollars. I didn't have enough to get both games.
"I don't have enough…" I said, disappointed.
"Well if you want, I could hold onto this for you for a couple of days." Billy offered, patting his hand on the game twice.
"That's okay." I said as I grabbed Final Fantasy Versus 13 and put it back on the shelf. I walked back to the counter.
"So just this today?" Billy asked, holding up Street Fighter.
"That's all." I said.
"Alright, then that will come to $51.10."
Alex handed all his money to Billy and I gave Billy two of my tens. He gave me my change and put my game in a bag which he handed to me.
Once we left Gamestop, I started to think about how badly I wanted to play that new Final Fantasy game. Of course DC Heroes Vs Street Fighter was cool enough but I thought it would just be awesome to get both games.
"Hey man, sorry I couldn't get you that other game." Alex said.
"It's okay Alex." I smiled to him, handing him the change Billy gave me. "I'll get to play it…someday."
As we strolled through the mall, my stomach growled.
"Hungry?" Theian asked.
I really was. After all, I didn't get to eat much today. All I had to eat was some breakfast and that only lasted me during training. What I really wanted to eat right now was a big, juicy cheeseburger, some French fries, a malt. Just thinking about all that food made me even hungrier. Then I realized: Disco Burger!
"Hey guys! Wanna eat at Disco Burger?" I asked.
"Disco Burger"? Theian asked, not understanding what I was talking about.
"Yeah it's a restaurant. Follow me, I'll show ya."
And so I led Theian and Alex to Disco Burger. When we got there, Theian stood a couple feet in front of the entrance, looking up at it with an amazed look at his face.
"Come on! Let's go in!" I said
The three of us went into the restaurant. Inside, we had to wait in a line of five people. We waited for about a minute before we were seated. We sat at a table next to a window. Alex and Theian sat together in the booth on the left side of the table while I sat in the booth on the right. Alex and I grabbed ourselves each a menu while Theian continued to look around, still intrigued by this place. I grabbed a menu for Theian and handed it to him.
"What is this?" Theian asked.
"It's a menu. It shows you what kind of food the restaurant has." I explained.
"Huh…" Said Theian, sounding a little interested.
Theian opened his menu and looked through it. After a little while a waiter came to our table.
"Hello my name is John and I'll be your waiter for today. Can I get you anything to drink?" The waiter asked.
"Can I get a coke?" I asked.
"Okay, a coke. And you?" The waiter asked Alex.
"I'll have what he's having." Alex answered.
"Another coke…And you?" The waiter asked Theian this time.
"What are these 'beverages'?" Theian asked.
"Umm sir, beverages are what you drink. You know, water, soda…That kind of stuff?"
"Okay…and what is 'soda'?" Theian asked again.
"You…you're joking right? You really don't know what a soda is?"
"I'm sorry!" I said, laughing uncomfortably. "He's my uncle! He's a bit weird. He's not from this world."
"Clearly…" The waiter said, rolling his eyes.
Theian growled, looking angry at the waiter. He turned his head to the window.
"I'll just put him down for a coke too." Once the waiter was done taking down our orders for what we wanted to drink, he went to go and get our sodas. A little while later he returned with three cokes. I grabbed my coke and gulped it down until there was only half a glass left.
"Aw man! That's good!" I said, sighing loudly.
"Whoa!" Alex said, amazed at how much I drank in such a short time.
Theian brought his glass to his lips. He took a sip of his soda, smacking his lips together a few times.
"Hmm…It's like water…but it's got a flavor to it. How's it made?" Theian asked, taking another sip.
"Umm…Umm…Well…" I said, not knowing the answer to that myself.
"Uh…" Alex stalled, also not knowing the answer.
"Well.., I don't…really know." I finally said.
"But…do you like it Theian?" I asked.
"It's not bad." Theian replied, taking another drink.
It was about another five minutes before the waiter came back to take our order. By then, me, Alex and Theian had finished our sodas. Much to my surprise, Theian somehow managed to finish his soda before I could get done with mine. I was watching in shock as Theian finished his soda in one gulp without even stopping to breathe. I ordered a cheeseburger with a side of fries, Alex ordered the "Disco Double", a burger with twice the meat and twice the cheese, and Theian, not knowing what anything else on the menu was, just ordered the same thing I did. The waiter took our menus and our empty glasses and went into the kitchen. He returned a little later with our glasses refilled. He told us that our order would be ready shortly. A little while longer, he returned with our food
I ate several fries while Alex took a big bite of his Disco Burger. Theian, however, held the burger in his hand, looking at it like he was trying to figure out what it was.
"Theian, you gonna eat your burger?" I asked.
"Of course! It's just…I wonder what these are made from?" Theian said.
"They're made from cows." Alex said with his mouth full.
"This? This was made from a cow?" Theian asked, pointing at his burger.
"Well yeah." Alex said.
"This isn't a cow. I've eaten cows much bigger than this." Said Theian, setting his burger in his dish.
"Wait, you've eaten cows before? Like, cow cows, not burgers?" I asked, having a hard time believing what Theian was saying.
"Of course. I've eaten live cows, dead cows. I've also eaten stuff other than cows." Theian answered.
"Like what?" Alex asked, becoming interested.
"Hmm…Snakes, foxes, rabbits…I've even eaten bears before."
"What!" Alex said, smiling in disbelief. "No way! You haven't eaten a bear!"
"And what if I have? How would you know if you weren't there?" Theian replied.
"Do other dragons eat animals?" I asked.
"All dragons do. There are some dragons who will go only after small animals like rabbits or foxes. They are normally children or dragons who aren't necessarily the best hunters. There are also dragons who are against eating live animals. They will only take the carcasses of animals that are already dead. But then you have the dragons who like to hunt bigger targets. These are the dragons that will go after prey such as lions, tigers, bears. They're the risk takers.
"Whoa!" I said in amazement. "There are dragons that hunt lions?!"
I couldn't believe it. It sounded so awesome and yet so unreal. I knew I'd never be brave enough to try and take on a lion or a tiger or a bear. I'd be way too scared. But if Theian was strong enough to beat a bear, then he was even cooler than I thought he was.
"Theian! The next time you go hunting, please, take me and Alex with you!!" I pleaded.
"No." Theian answered quickly.
"What? Why?" I whined.
"Because it's too dangerous, that's why! If something happened to you boys, what would Saulstrance do? Besides, what good would a kid who's too afraid to use his own powers be on a hunt?"
Hearing Theian say that really hurt my feelings. I grabbed my burger, turned away from him and started eating it again without saying anything else to him. Theian just didn't understand. None of them did. It was my powers that made people hate me. It was my powers that kept driving friends away. I didn't want to use my powers because I was sick of them hurting people. Deep down, I didn't want people to see me as a monster. I just wanted them to see me as a normal kid.
When we had finished eating, our bill came to $18.75. I payed for all our food, leaving me with only a dollar and twenty five cents left.
Our flight back to the house was a quiet one. I didn't have anything to say to Alex or Theian. I just couldn't stop thinking about what Theian said to me. Over and over I kept hearing in my head, "What good is a kid who's too afraid to use his own powers?"
"Jake?" Theian called to me.
"Yeah?" I said in a slightly sad voice.
"Look, what I said at the restaurant…I'm sorry. That was a terrible thing for me to say."
"It's okay." I said, accepting his apology.
"But I still stand by what I said. I don't want you or Alex coming with me on my hunts. The kind of animals I hunt are too dangerous for you boys and I don't want anything happening to you. Saulstrance put me in charge of you two and that means I also have to watch out for your safety."
"I understand." I said, smiling.
While I was still a little hurt by what Theian said, his apology made me feel a little bit better. And even though I still thought it would have been pretty neat to see how a dragon like Theian hunts, I knew I shouldn't keep arguing with him. Besides, right now it was time for something just as neat.
It was game time!