What’s in the Drain?
Gurgle, gurgle, gurgle. That’s the sound the water made as it ran down the street into the drain. Every year, all the neighbours cleaned their pools on the precisely the same weekend. In fact, this ritual often was held on the same day of the same weekend year after year after year.
The gurgling got louder and louder while I walked past. I had to keep reminding myself exactly what it was I needed to pick up at the grocery store. The gurgling kept getting louder and louder. That was odd. It didn’t make sense to hear this much gurgling. It wasn’t possible that there were that many backyard swimming pools. Was it?
I looked at each of the driveways as I passed. I noticed the noisiest gurgling right at the driest driveway. I stopped and looked up the street. No water came from any of the other driveways, but the gurgling continued. How could this possibly be?
My feet felt cold and damp. How they could be cold and damp when it was so hot outside was beyond me. I looked down. I froze. I could not see my feet in my spaghetti sandals. Silver sparkles where my feet should have been glittered in the sun. I went to move my left foot. Were my two feet were tied to each other? Panic filled me.
I pulled my left foot fast and hard. It lifted minutely. Then it went back down with a thud. I bent over to grab my ankle; it hurt so much.
Hunched over, a chill came over my back. I turned my head behind me ever so slowly. I was barely able to breathe.
A cold wind blew in my face. From the corner of my eye, I saw that there was no wind blowing on any of the flowers or trees on the lawns nearby. That wind was only in my face.
I wasn’t sure if I should scream, lie down, or try to straighten up. It didn’t matter. I had no time to choose.
Something pulled on my feet. I fell over. I was dragged several feet along the sidewalk.
Suddenly, there I was, hanging upside down and flying higher and higher. The claws held me tightly. If I stayed calm and didn’t resist, I would be okay. Probably. Maybe. Hopefully.
I looked at the scenery below me. The pools were all empty. No blue hoses ran out from them to the street. Yet the gurgling sounds continued.
I realized that we—whatever that creature was and I—were going down. It flapped its giant wings more vigorously as it approached the ground. It hovered. The ground was just within my reach.
I stretched my arms a bit. It lowered itself a bit. I stretched a bit more. It lowered itself a bit more again. I stretched even more. It lowered itself a tad.
It lowered me bit by bit until it realized I was safe and sound. It wound its great body around me. It lifted one of its great wings and held it above me as if to shield me from the sun’s blinding light. Then it blew softly in my face.
“We need the water,” it whispered.
“Why?” was all I could muster.
“Drain dragons need water.”
I had never heard of drain dragons. Dragons breathing fire, yes. Dragons stronger than rock, yes. Dragons spewing ice even, yes. But drain dragons? That was new to me.
It wrapped its tail snuggly around me. It skipped on its heels, keeping its claws from touching the ground. It opened a drain grate in the road with one of its front claws. It squeezed itself down, pulling me behind it.
It was dark and damp. Actually, it was quite disgusting down there.
“You see,” it started, “the water in the drain used to be of quite good quality. Look at it now. Dark. Filled with horrible smells.”
“Yes, I see,” I answered because I had a hard time handling the stench down there.
“Once there was a time plants would grow in these drains.”
“What?” That would have been a problem. Can you imagine a tree growing from inside a drain? Can you imagine the damage it would do to the streets above it?
“Drain dragons used to eat those plants. They kept them calm and healthy. Now those plants cannot grow here.”
“Can you grow them somewhere else?” I asked.
“Yes, we have found a new place to grow drain plants. There is only one thing.” It looked at me with a frown upon its face.
I looked back at its face hoping it would continue, hoping it would explain. Instead, it sighed and shook his head. He let go of me and started walking further down the drain pipe.
I stood there and watched.
“Wait!” I shouted when I could barely make out just the end of its tail. “What’s up with the drain plants?”
“Yes, the drain plants. You said you could make them grow somewhere else, but that there was just one thing.”
“Really?” it answered, its face brightening, his eyes growing wider.
“No, really, what’s the one thing?” it asked as if I knew the answer to its question.
“I don’t know,” I replied, confused.
It nodded its head in agreement and started walking away. I ran to catch up to it. I put my hand on its damp, scaling skin. It stopped and looked at me.
“Oh, hello,” it said with a toothy smile.
“Hi,” I replied. “Where are the drain plants?”
“Drain plants. Yes. There are a few growing over this way.”
And followed some more.
Then it lay down.
I walked towards its head. It had fallen asleep.
I tried shaking it awake. It turned its head away from me.
I tried yelling in its ears. It covered its ears with one of its wings. This dragon was fast asleep.
I sat down and stared at it in the dark, stinky drain.
I turned to look who was yelling. The splish-splashing of water grew along with two green eyes. I crawled backwards, towards the sleeping dragon.
“No! You are not to be in our drains. Oh no, no, no, no, no,” it screamed as it got closer.
I thought I was a goner. I closed my eyes and braced myself for an untimely, yet inevitable, death.
“Whatever you do, please, please don’t tell anyone,” it panted at me.
“Tell anyone what?” I asked.
“Exactly.” It shook its great head up and down.
“Exactly?” I replied unsure of what was to be kept secret.
“Yes. Don’t tell anyone.”
“You mean, about the drain plants?” I asked.
“Drain plants? What drain plants?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” I shrugged my shoulders. “I mistakenly heard something about drain plants, that there was something with them.”
“Mistakenly so,” it replied still nodding its head, but now with its eyes and mouth wide open.
I nodded my head along with it for a few minutes.
Without warning, it spread out one wing and rolled me into it. It tucked me under its wing like I was a football.
“There’s nothing here,” it screamed as it ran down the long drain.“Nothing at all.” It ran faster and faster. Then it shot straight up.
I heard the clang of metal as we shot up to the sky. It unfurled its wing. I was sent flying solo. The grate banged shut while I landed in a nearby tree.
I sat in the tree for a bit, listening to the gurgle gurgle gurgle in the neighborhood, looking at the very dry streets.
I sat there thinking: drain dragons, drain plants, there was only one thing. What was that one thing the drain dragon was talking about?
I climbed down the tree. What was that one thing?
I walked past all the houses. What was that one thing?
The gurgle gurgle gurgle continued, softening as I reached home. What was that one thing? I went in and wondered what had happened.
I sat at the kitchen table. I thought and thought and thought.
What was I supposed to do today? There was that one thing. What was that one thing?
Witness: Amanda Olvide