‘The Squashbuckler Diaries’ are the daily tales of Joy Shelley’s Life in the Dream. The ‘Lost in Dreams’ books will tell the story of what happens to her at ages 6, 9, 12, 15, and so on. The diaries tell us what happens before, after, and between the books.

#37: How Joy Wins

I had believed that coming to assist Dragon Little and Dragon Father would be easy. I am more formidable than any monster or villain they have fought that I have seen. But I had not taken into account that Dragon Father thought the same, and that he would add to his dream things that were too much for a dragon.

I had fallen into a vat of acid that even now ate through my hide. I was writhing on the floor of the Flying Flies’ floating capital city. And Dragon Little, a five and a half year old human girl living in a dream, comforted me, and told me she would save me.

I was afraid that, separated from the Dreamer, separated from her father who trusted me to save her, it would be an end to both of our lives.

Dragon Little turned her back to me and looked at the swarm of powerful Flying Flies coming at us. They were joined, as before, in a way that can cause more wind that even I can handle.

Even through the pain eating at my skin, I could see her stop to think. She sheathed back her sword and pulled out her laser pistol.

“Okay. This is what we’re going to do,” she told me. “I’m going to shoot the floor and you’re going to fall into the ocean.” We were a few kilometers above the endless ocean of Dragon Father’s dream. “The water will clean you up. I’m going to distract them by jumping after you and floating the other way.”

“What? No!”

“Then you’ll fly back behind them and burn them with fire.”

“Little one, that will never work! I’m in too much pain!” I couldn’t tell her that the lived in a dream. I couldn’t tell her that hers and her father’s crazy plans only worked because they were inside his dream, and that his subconscious was protecting her.

But there was nothing else I had time to say. She fired at the floor beneath me, saying, “You’re so funny! Trust me!”

She created a small hole in the floor that immediately collapsed under my weight, and I fell. I could not even fly for all the pain of the acid still burning me.

“To get Red you have to get through me!” I heard her shout.

A few seconds later, I heard a “Yeeee haaaaaaw!” The last part of which was carried by the wind: She had jumped.

Still falling, I looked up.

She was a few kilometers above me. She had spread her arms and legs and aimed herself away from my fall.

My heart beat faster. Joy! I thought. Joy Shelley! You can’t die so young!

Then I saw her turn around in the air, and begin to fire at the swarm chasing her.

I hit the water as if it was a brick floor. All I could think about was Joy, no longer ‘Dragon Little’. Now she was the girl I needed to save.

She was right: The water took away the acid. The pain of it burrowing through my tough skin was gone. Now only the pain of the damage remained.

I couldn’t hear anything above water. I flapped my wings, wanting to save her, needing to save her.

It hurt, but the wings moved. In a few seconds, I was above water and breathing. Then I was flying.

I spotted her.

She had been right. The swarm now had its back to me. But she had only about twenty seconds before she hit the ocean.

With dragon speed, flying through the pain, I was behind them. One fiery breath and they were gone.

“Ha ha! You did it!” She laughed while falling.

I swooped under her and picked her up softly, placing her in the groove at the back of my neck. Just above the water, I climbed up.

I breathed a fiery sigh of relief. She was safe!

“Look, Red! Look!”

I turned to look at the floating city. It was exploding, one building after another.

“It’s Dad! He defeated the King! We won!”

I sighed again. Her father’s dream logic worked after all. Everything turned out fine. And she was finely in tune with it, since that ist the only thing she had known since birth. And, indeed, she was so finely tuned she knew what would come next.  

“He’s going to jump, Red! We have to pick him up!”

Almost immediately I saw Dragon Father leap off the top of an exploding building and away from the city.

I picked him up, just as I did her. But unlike his daughter, he was never in danger. Dreamers never are. They can just wake up and go to that other world that I have never seen.

I brought them back to Bonny’s Revenge. We had to say our goodbyes, for that had been too much for me. But I need to rest. I will tell you the last of it tomorrow.

—Told by The Red Dragon

See how I came up with the idea for this post:

#38: Goodbye, Red Dragon!

#36: The Red Dragon, Defeated!