A real dragon? Surely not. Really?!? thought Lem as he ran over to the group of boys. Joining the group, he had to stand on his toes and crane his neck to see through the crowd. Sure enough, it was a dragon. Well, a komodo dragon. At least, Lem assumed it was a komodo dragon. What other kind could it be, really? But it didn’t look exactly like he thought komodo dragons were supposed to look. Its neck was longer and more serpentine looking. Its legs were longer, too. It seemed to be injured, though. It had a deep gash on one of its back legs.
He stared at it in fascination. Suddenly, one of the boys yelled, “kill it.” Shocked, Lem blurted out, “Why!?!” before he could stop himself. No one had heard him though. The yells from the group drowned him out. Frustrated, he didn’t know what to do. This was it. His first impression. He could go along with them and make friends, or he could try to stop them and doom himself instantly.
Nothing stupid, he thought. He watched as someone grabbed a large rock and threw it at the poor dragon. The rock hit its leg with a loud crack, and the dragon hissed and drew back. The circle of boys around the dragon widened a little as they stepped back in fear. Dragons were dangerous. Some of the boys ran around picking up the rocks that lay littered about. Lem didn’t understand. Why did they want to kill it? He was fascinated by it. A real dragon. Another rock hit the poor creature. It looked really mad now. The circle widened even more as it lunged forward in anger, but the boys stood firm and held up their rocks in defense. They weren’t going to let this fun escape.
His head felt like it would burst with questions. Were there more dragons? Where did it come from? Why did it look different from the pictures he had seen? Why had it come so near the school? He wanted to stop them. He wanted them to let it go, so he could follow it and see where it went. He looked around at the boys nervously. He couldn’t say anything. He had to make a good first impression. Didn’t he?
The dragon made another pitiful cry of pain. He looked down at the poor creature. It looked like one of its legs was broken, and it had several wounds that bled profusely. That’s when he decided. This wasn’t about scientific curiosity anymore. This was about doing the right thing.
“Stop!” he yelled out loudly. The cries of the excited boys made it impossible for them to hear him. He started pushing his way between the two standing in front of him. In the middle of the circle, he stood between the dragon and the boy who seemed to be the leader of the group (allowing a lot of room between him and the angry dragon).
“Stop!” he yelled again.
“Who are you?” the boy asked harshly.
“I’m Lem Xandiver. I’m new here.” Actually, his full name was Rupert Lemuel Xandiver, but he didn’t feel like they needed to know that.
“And just why should we stop, Lem Xandiver? Are you a dragon lover or something?”
“Well, I don’t know,” Lem replied a little unsure. “I’ve never seen a dragon before today, but I’ll not let you torture this poor thing. It’s not right.”
“It’s not right, is it?” the boy said with a rough laugh. He looked around at all the other boys, and they laughed too. The big boy had a rock in his hand, and he stood there throwing it up and catching it, looking menacingly at Lem. He looked like he was going to throw the rock at him. Lem really got scared when his laugh took on a sinister quality. When the other boys in the group began imitating their leader, Lem thought he was really in for it.
Suddenly, one of the teachers came out of the school door and rang the bell for class to begin. The boy threw his rock down on the ground viciously and snarled, “saved by the bell, Lem. At least, this time.” He pointed at him threateningly. “I’m going to be watching you.”
The other boys threw down their rocks with varying attempts to emulate their leader’s nasty look as they followed him into the building. Lem watched them leave and noticed one of the natives standing alone by the tree staring at him. Lem couldn’t tell what he was thinking behind his expressionless face, and it made him feel even more nervous. He forgot everything, though, at a sound from on the ground. The dragon was limping back into the woods. Lem took one quick look at the school building. The teacher had gone back inside, and there were only a few students (not counting the native by the tree) still in sight meandering toward the building. He knew he would get in trouble if he didn’t follow. He didn’t have any doubt that the boys he’d just met would make sure his teacher noticed his absence. But he couldn’t resist. This could be his only chance to ever see a dragon. He had to follow it.