Authors: John Booth
This kind of power they don't teach in school.
Being a teenager is tough enough. Growing up different, with a secret that no one will understand, gets Jake noticed by the cops. Jake finds missing people, most times too late and the cops are suspicious.
Jake discovered his secret by accident—a hopscotch court that takes him to other worlds and other times. He uses that power reluctantly, feeling confused and out of his depth. But one good thing comes of it—he discovers a new best friend, a dragon. And his girlfriend, Jenny.
But nothing’s ever simple. Evil wizards, kingdoms at war, chases, rescues, an offer he can’t refuse… and a princess who seems to know his every move. Princess Esmeralda has an agenda and his girlfriend does not approve.
Jake is a wizard and his life is about to get complicated.
Copyright ©2010 John Booth.
First electronic edition published by Pfoxmoor Publishing
Digital ISBN: 978-0-9829791-4-3
Published in the United States of America with international distribution.
Cover Design by Sessha Batto
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the copyright owner except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the authors’ imaginations or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
To my wonderful wife Rosie,
who has to put up with a lot.
luffy, my pet dragon, was pacing the Bat Cave irritably. There are absolutely no bats in the Bat Cave. I simply called it that because it sounds cool. Nor was Fluffy a good name for a fifteen foot tall scaled dragon with a wingspan of at least thirty feet.
However, you have to understand that dragons are born with feathers, little white fluffy ones that fall out about the same time as their eyes open, and that I was a pretty ignorant wizard when I stole Fluffy's egg from his mother's nest.
That was over ten years ago and Fluffy had grown pretty big in the intervening years. Not, you understand, that Fluffy is not beautiful in his own right.
All dragons have colored scales and Fluffy's were iridescent as well, predominantly orange, but with patches of yellow that could be easily mistaken for gold. Perhaps that was where the legend about dragons having hoards of gold came from.
My name is Jake and I am an eighteen year old wizard. I discovered my powers when I was seven and have done a good job of keeping them a secret from my parents ever since. Fluffy is from another world, dimension, planet, whatever, that I got to by world hopping.
Hopping was the first talent I discovered as a wizard, how to move between the worlds. Of course, I didn't know I was a wizard then. All I knew was that my solitary games of hopscotch tended to a little on the weird side. If the stone I threw disappeared when it landed, my last hop onto that square would take me to wherever it had gone. It was easy to get back, provided I had chalk with me, as the stone would always return to the square it had disappeared from if I marked up another hopscotch court.
I met a wise man once, in one of those other worlds that told me that was what hopscotch had been invented for, to travel easily between the worlds. Before it had been invented, wizards had needed to draw complex mazes and then walk them carefully. The man had talked a load of bollocks though. According to him, groves of trees could be used for the same purpose, provided the plantings had been properly spaced. How absurd is that?
The other worlds were much more interesting than ours, at least they always seemed that way to a bored child who was never supposed to leave the back garden without permission. I suppose they were safer when it comes right down to it, as I have never come across a ten-ton lorry or a tired commuter in a SUV on any of my travels away.
Hopscotch took me to the top of canyons encompassing fast running rivers, to mighty cliffs with the seas battering against them, to white sand beaches with azure oceans just beyond and to granite mountains whose pinnacles were shrouded in mists. Okay, I admit it, when you travel to other worlds you always end up at an interface point, where land meets the water or mountains break into the clouds. It is part and parcel of the magic.
I rarely saw another human in those early days. Mainly because these places were a little on the inhospitable side (except for the white beaches, and they were remote from any habitation) but also because as a shy seven and then eight year old I was prone to sit close to where I arrived and spend my time watching the sea, mists, rivers and so on.
By the age of eight, I had seen sea serpents at sea from the white beach and giant birds flapping their way across said canyons, but the mountains seemed devoid of life. It seems funny to me now, but I never questioned the existence of the sea serpents or the giant birds. They were just like the pictures in the storybooks my mother bought me, so I just assumed that they were a normal part of real life.
One day when I was eight years old, I hopped and skipped myself to the mountains and it suddenly started to rain. It was a heavy cold downpour and I ran for cover rather than hop myself home. I ran into a nearby cave entrance. It was a little smaller than I was and I had to duck my head to get inside. I considered hopping home when I had time to think, but the rain had washed away my chalk marks outside and it was too dark to draw the court in the cave.
After a while, I got tired of waiting for the rain to stop and walked a little further into the cave. When my eyes had adjusted to the gloom, I realized that there was a faint glow coming from even deeper inside. Thinking that this might lead to a bigger entrance where I could draw my hopscotch court away from the rain, I walked deeper into the cave.
Turning a blind corner in the cave, I found there was a massive natural entrance that looked right out over the canyon. I became scared when I got close to it, because the entrance ended in a sheer cliff wall. Strong winds from the outside buffeted me as I walked closer. The winds were strong enough to make me stagger from side to side, and I felt that if I opened my arms wide I might rise up into the air. I decided to turn around to walk back and that was when I saw the eggs.
There were six of them, packed into a small nest lined with dried grass and sticks. The whole nest was only about two feet across and I never suspected for a second that they were dragon's eggs. For one thing, they were only a little larger than a normal hen's egg. Now I am older and more experienced I would say they were the same size as goose eggs, but I had never seen a goose's egg at that point in my life. The eggs had a rubbery shell, rather like those hard solid rubber balls you can buy.
What drew my attention to them were their many colors, the outside of the eggs swirled with red and blue and green patterns. I don't suppose any eight year old boy could have resisted touching them and I certainly didn't, resist that is.
Fluffy owes his life to the fact that his mother chose that moment to return. I had his egg in my hands and was about to throw it at the stone floor to see if it would bounce like the ball it resembled.
Now it must be said that dragons fly exceptionally well, though they prefer to jump off cliffs to get their flights started. However, landings they are not so good at. Fluffy's mother landed like a major airliner with only twenty feet of runway. She had aimed her body towards the other side of the cave, presumably to avoid any danger of crushing her nest and the cave shook as she bounced against the wall.
This was all too much for my eight-year-old self, and I shot across the cave and back down the narrow passageway I had entered by. I have never been sure whether the bellow she gave at that moment was of rage that I had stolen Fluffy, or whether that was always the sound she made on landing. Even after seeing Fluffy land a thousand times, I’m still not sure; he does tend to give a cry on a safe landing. I suspect because it’s such a surprise to him when it happens.
My eight-year-old self did not even realize he brought the egg with him until he put it down to redraw the hopscotch court. Even then it was only a fifty-fifty chance that I brought Fluffy back with me. In the end, it came down to the pretty colors on the egg.
I hid the egg in my special hiding place. Our house was a small bungalow in Wales and my bedroom was up in the roof space. Only half of the loft was converted. The part of the loft where the water header tank and the hot water tank resided was still little more than a few boards loosely placed over rafters. You could get to that part of the roof from my room. There was a little door at the back of my wardrobe with a big padlock on it.
My parents did not know it, and I never told them, but if I squeezed the padlock really hard, it clicked open. My eight-year-old self never questioned this strange fact, but I now know this is a magic talent that most wizards possess. It is very difficult to lock a wizard out of anywhere we really want to go.
The roof space had become my special hiding place. It was where I lined my plastic soldiers up for their many battles and hid my most treasured toys. Therefore, it was natural for me to place Fluffy's egg on the glass wool insulation right next to the hot water tank.
Fluffy took two years to hatch and I had almost forgotten about the egg when he did. It was a warm night a few weeks after midsummer when I heard a scuffling sound coming from the roof space. I immediately assumed a bird had got inside and tumbled out of my bed to rescue it.
I didn't need to find a torch. By the age of ten, I had learnt to create a ball of light that hovered just above my head as I moved. I had also learnt some caution and carefully locked my door in case my parents came to investigate the noise. I had had some narrow scrapes at school where I had shown off rather too much of my abilities and then had to deny them to the teachers. I did not have any friends left by my tenth birthday, they all hated me and some of them feared me, and not without reason.
The scuffles in the loft ceased the moment I entered. Fluffy had hidden in fright as the door had opened. I moved the ball of light forward and to Fluffy it looked as though it was coming out of my mouth. I had, by total accident, created the bonding signal between mother and infant dragon. Fluffy ran towards me in joy, he was only a little bigger than the egg he had just come out of as his feathers had dried out, and he jumped straight for my head, wrapping his little lizard like hands tightly around my face.