It was a cloudy night in the middle of summer. Emil had trouble sleeping: it was so hot, the sheets kept sticking to him. He opened the window to let in some cool air, but the room was way too hot to cool down. An hour later, a storm came. Thanks to the balcony upstairs, raindrops didn’t come in through the window, though he could hear it pattering in the background. The sound would have been soothing but for the occasional thunder. Emil tossed and turned, still unable to sleep. Every time he was about to doze off, the thunderclap woke him up. Suddenly, a loud burst of thunder made him jump up. His heart beating, he looked at the dark sky.
A small ball of blue light flew into the room and soared above the bed. It illuminated the whole room with a bright blue light. Emil watched it, his mouth agape. This had to be the ball lightning phenomenon he heard of as a child. The lightning continued through the room and hit a painting of a dragon Emil had finished a month ago. The lightning vanished into the picture frame and the room turned dark again. The painting, as if by a miracle, survived.
Suddenly, to Emil’s astonishment, the dragon blinked and looked at Emil. Emil’s jaw dropped. The dragon tilted its head and started to pant like a dog, drooling slightly. The tongue hung out of its mouth on the right side, slowly creating a puddle by its paws. Emil watched the dragon in shock, unable to fathom the sight. They watched each other for a moment and then the dragon stood up and walked to the edge of the picture. Emil watched in horror, as the tiny creature put its front paws over the frame and jumped to the floor. It was no longer a painting. It had become a real, tiny dragon. Emil craned his neck and watched the dragon walk around the bed. It stopped by the nightstand and jumped onto the sheets.
“Hi,” Emil tried to say, but no sound came. He had completely lost his voice. The dragon started to wag its tail. Cautiously, Emil patted the dragon’s head. The dragon happily sat down, watching Emil intently. Emil hesitated and then scratched the dragon’s ear. The dragon made a strange sound and lay down on the sheets. At first Emil was at lost, but then he realised that this was how dragons purred.
Not believing his eyes, he scratched the dragon’s ear, until dawn came. He didn’t dare to close his eyes or lie down. The stormy clouds vanished by the morning and a pink light from the rising sun replaced the darkness. The dragon suddenly lifted its head, looked at the window, and jumped to its feet. It hurried off the bed, jumped onto the floor, and then climbed up the wall towards its painting. It staggered into the painting and resumed its original pose. The alarm clock on the nightstand started beeping and Emil turned it off without even looking at it. He still watched the frozen dragon in the frame.
Slowly, he climbed out of the bed and approached the painting. It was just a painting. He went to the bathroom and when he came back it was still just a painting. He changed his clothes, watching the frame all the time, but the dragon didn’t move a muscle. He left for work and returned in the evening, but the dragon was still there, frozen in the pose Emil had painted a month ago. The evening turned to night, but the dragon still didn’t move. Night fell and Emil went to the bathroom to take a shower. When he returned, the dragon was still in the frame; still just a frozen painting.
Emil wondered if he had hallucinated before. He sat on the bed and watched the painting nervously. He wasn’t sure whether he wanted the dragon to come to life or not. He sat there, watching the painting, his brain racing.
Suddenly, he felt something warm and wet on his face. Everything was dark. He opened his eyes and his gaze fell on the dragon. He must have fallen asleep. His head was on the pillow and the tiny dragon stood on the sheets, watching him. It was wagging its tail and panting. Emil smiled and stroked its head. The dragon obviously took this as a greeting, because it jumped onto Emil and started to lick anything it could reach. It was like being licked by a steam iron. Emil tried to cover his face, but the dragon managed to find his neck. Emil was very ticklish and he started to laugh, fighting to get free. He suddenly hit the floor, taking the sheets with him.
He looked around befuddled. The dragon was in its frame, frozen as the painting it was. The window was open and the sun was mounting above the horizon. The sheets were on the floor along with Emil.
Emil stood up, kicked the sheets aside, and walked over to the painting. He grabbed it from the wall and was about to take it out of the room when he froze. Maybe it was just a dream, but it was nice to have a pet dragon. He hung the painting back and stepped away.
“I’ll call you Draco,” he said with a smile. “See you in my dreams,” he added and hesitated: “or in a psychiatric clinic.”