Be Careful

by Marilyn Schwan


It was December 31, 1999 and I decided that I would avoid all the excitement that seemed to gather around this date and go camping in the desert. I did not want to be bothered with the hysteria that seemed to be gathering around me in Los Angeles. I packed up my gear and headed out to the area around Death Valley, leaving my laptop computer behind. I wanted complete isolation so I went to an area in the low hills above the valley that I knew would be empty at this time of year. I set up camp near a rocky outcrop and lay down with my rifle beside me. I had awakened several times here with rattlesnakes in my tent looking for warmth, so I always prepared for these unwelcome guests.

I awoke slowly, and rubbed the dark haze from my eyes. The desert air was cold today. It should have been daylight, but instead a black shadow hung in the air. Looking up, I saw that the sky was almost completely blacked out, crawling with thousands of swirling shapes. As I focused and my vision cleared, I could make out the unmistakeable silhouettes, and my heart stopped... Dragons! In all my life I had seen only one, and that was a quick glimpse while exploring the cliffs as a child. I also remembered old legends and descriptions of the dragon, a fierce powerful creature who could appear suddenly in our reality, and with a single thought, bring death, life, order, or chaos. Dragons were rarely seen by people unless one of these events was about to take place. As I thought about this phenomonen, and now multiplied it by thousands, a hideously helpless feeling began to come over me. The dragons had now aligned, and were gliding together in a large circle overhead. Half in fear and half in awe I watched, as inside the circle a huge dark rip began to open in the middle of the sky.

Within my mind I felt a connection with all the thoughts of mankind, as if we were but one brain as we watched this amazing transformation of our skies. The rip in the sky widened, turned to a bright aquamarine, streaked with blood red, and a white hot pinpoint of light in the center. A deep voice, heard within, but not aloud, said "People of the world, I come to bring you what you have yearned for in you heart of hearts. Each of these dragons is a deeply held desire of your race. Each can grant this wish for you, all you need to do is ask and it will be granted."

At first there was only stunned silence, then, almost as one, the word "Peace" was breathed aloud. "You shall have peace. As of now all weapons of war are destroyed and none can ever again be made." I looked down at where my hunting rifle had been, but it had disappeared.

Again the voice spoke. What is your next wish?"

Now our unified voice spoke with more assurance, "An end to hunger and famine"

"Done, your harvests will be bountiful and all your crops will fufill all the needs of your people. What next?"

"End all disease, Let our people be well and strong."

"There will be no more pestilence among you or your animals. What more can my benificient dragons do for you?"

There was a pause as our collective conciousness considered our next request, then again we spoke, "Clean our air and waters of pollution and restore our forests."

"It is done, Your forests are restored to their original places and the air and waters are cleansed. I have 3 more dragons to ask of, choose carefully."

"Clear our atmosphere of tornados and hurricanes that spread such havoc among us."

A gentle breeze sighed the answer.

"The air is now pacified and only the gentlest of breezes will waft across your earth. What next?"

"Settle our earth and eliminate earthquakes and volcanoes."

"Your crust is now stabalized. Now you have one request left, my dragon is ready."

"Can you stave off death so that we can remain immortal?"

There was a pause, and then a great sigh, "Alas, that is beyond my poor dragon's power. Only one greater than he can grant that. Choose something less."

"Then control our population so that we will not outstrip all this good fortune." "That has been accomplished. Now my dragons and I must leave and go elswhere, where we are needed. Farewell, you have chosen wisely."

The sky started to fade and the dragons flew toward the pinpoint of light. I felt the connection with my fellow beings snap and I was again alone with my thoughts. Before the last dragon disappeared I shouted toward the sky, "Wait, how have you achieved the goal of population control?" The pinpoint of light brightened again and a large laugh boomed out across the world. Then the voice spoke one more time, "You are all now Sterile."

(be careful...)

...what you wish for,

you might get it.