Dragons, the fire-breathing beasts of old, have been resurrected.
Their fires burn all night, all day. Their smoke and ash residue collect in our throats, gagging us, and in our eyes, making them smart and water. Until we can neither see clearly nor speak intelligibly. In the end, neither can we think, as the rancid dragon-breath fills our lungs and circulates to our brains, eroding the delicate circuits there.
Having lost our senses and our way, we stumble back to our walled cities and shut the gate. But even in the safety of our homes, we fear the gate will give way and the wall crumble. And so we draw on our collective imagination, our collective memory, and our collective fear to erect a creature sufficiently abhorrent to keep the dragons at bay. And when we succeed, we mortar our gargoyles into the city’s outer walls and over its gate.
They are so grotesque that we cannot bear to look up at them, like the shapeless figures that move through our nightmares. Still, we must speak of them in daylight hours, so we invent a coded language with a vague and veiled vocabulary to soften the sound of their sinister names, to mask the reality of their hideous faces. We tell ourselves: it is for the best; after all, the truth would scare the children playing beneath the city’s walls.
Now we might rest. Might. We are kept from our well-earned rest, our well-earned confidence, only by a niggling thought, a suspicion, an outrageous but probablistic reality that the gargoyles will one day turn on us.
Suspicion grows into certainty: the dragons we feared lived only in our imaginations, but the gargoyles we erected against them . . . these are real. To confront them, we must confront ourselves.
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