There had been a sound—a small sound—before the books tumbled to the floor. Something like silk sliding over marble, fast, delicate, smooth. Like a fragile spell-cast.
There had been movement too. On the other side of the room, near his toy province, something had stood. Something with eyes. But could he admit that to anyone? Even himself? Could he trust his own senses? Only seconds before he had wished a human would make itself known to him, prove once and for all that humanity existed. Nothing prepares the mind for misinterpretation like wishful thinking. By the Angorians! He was a professor. He should be logical. Rational. For him, proof should rest solely on research and analysis. How had he become so enamored with the idea of sensing the Other? He let a low growl escape his lips. It was the human C.S. Lewis’ fault. But then Lewis didn’t exist, so…it was his own fault.
Wait. The clump of books on the floor; that was a hard fact. Several hard facts, really, if one wanted to be accurate. One book in particular stood out from the jumble. It lay open and apart from the rest, as though it wanted to be picked up and read.
The thin slits of Prestor’s reptilian pupils widened as he searched the dark reaches of his study-cave once more for a culprit. Finding nothing, he blinked, letting both sets of eyelids moisten his eyes. He then cast his glowing gaze down at the book. A short perusal of the thing wouldn’t be out of order. Research, and all.
He stuck out a claw and dragged the book toward him till it lay under his snout. The book wasn’t written by or even about C.S. Lewis. Still, it quoted him:
“In all my life I have met only one person who claims to have seen a ghost. And the interesting thing is that that person disbelieved in the immortal soul before she saw the ghost and still disbelieves after seeing it. She says that what she saw must have been a trick of the nerves. And obviously she may be right. Seeing is not believing…What we learn from experience depends on the kind of philosophy we bring to experience.”
The rest of the paragraph went on to talk about the ghost dragons of the Red Water delta and then on to the book’s main subject, “alluvial living”. But Prestor had stopped reading. He felt as though a flood had hit him in the stomach. Did Lewis—did humans doubt their senses? He had always thought of them as intrinsically sure creatures, with eyes that never deceived and therefore minds that never doubted. He realized now that that had always been an assumption. Could humans and dragons share the same struggle of Doubt? Maybe.
Prestor flipped to the bibliography and found that the quote had been pulled from a book written by Lewis titled Miracles (A Preliminary Study). He had never heard of this volume. He must borrow it from the library at once. He shelved How to Live Your Best Life in a Delta as his heartbeat quickened and his mind leapt from question to question. Did humans study dragons? Did they study magic? Did they even believe in magic? What if the secret to understanding Lewis’ toy garden lay in the fact that humans had their own Doubt? It may not be a failed experiment after all.
Prestor unfurled his wings and flew out his study in a rush of wingbeats. He soared down the hall of Recognition, past the statues of the great dragon scholars and thinkers, to the old Humanities hall, but he landed hard when he reached its entrance, for the doors were barred shut. Nailed to them was a note of explanation:
The Humanities section has been closed unexpectedly for reasons of health and safety.
A re-open date has not yet been established.
We apologize for the inconvenience.
The Dragon Academy of Remedial Knowledge (D.A.R.K)