Zulie Dragon and the Magic Cricket

Submitted into Contest #143 in response to: Write a story involving a friendship between two different species. ... view prompt


Fantasy Friendship Adventure

(Friendship between two different species)

This is the story of a dragon and a cricket. The dragon's name is Princess Zulie. Now Zulie is not your typical dragon. She doesn't breathe fire and she can't fly, because she doesn't have wings. She is really more of a large lizard (but don't tell her I said so.)

Zulie is called a "bearded dragon." Yes, she really does have a beard! It looks like a collar around her neck. Whenever she feels frightened or angry, she puffs out her collar to make it look like a black beard. In the wild, this frightens away other animals. (Long ago, her kind of dragon came from a place far away called "Australia." But most bearded dragons now are tame pets, and they love to cuddle with their humans.)

Princess Zulie lives in a comfortable home with rocks and blankets to lie on all day. A bright light shines down on her to keep her warm, and another light gives her special sunshine. She has a human servant who serves her fresh salad and water every day. Zulie is a very pampered dragon indeed. Not only that, Zulie is not a real princess either (but don't tell her I said so.) Her human named her after a warrior princess who was very brave. Zulie the dragon thinks she is very brave too.

Our story begins one day when Zulie's servant brought a bag full of crickets as a special snack. Now bearded dragons love lots of foods, and crickets are one of their most favorite of all. But the little creatures are hard to catch. They hop everywhere, and Zulie has to run very fast to catch them all. (Usually she does not like to run, because it is too much work.)

After Zulie had eaten five large tasty crickets, she climbed upon her rock to rest. But there was a cricket in her nest!

"Little cricket," Zulie growled. "You don't belong here in my bed. I am going to eat you up!" And she opened her mouth wide.

The tiny creature folded its front legs and begged in a tiny voice, "Oh Great and Terrible One, please do not eat me."

Zulie was so surprised to hear the cricket talk that she closed her mouth. She'd never heard a cricket talk before! (Dragons can't talk either, but don't tell her I said so.) Finally she asked, "Why shouldn't I eat you? That's what dragons do."

The cricket replied, "Because I am very special. My name is Queenie, and I am a magic cricket!"

Zulie shook her scaly golden head and fluffed her spiny black beard. "There's no such thing as a magic cricket," she said. And she opened her mouth wide again.

But Queenie was gone. Zulie looked everywhere - under her rock, in her food bowl, and under her plants. No cricket!

Just then a little voice called, 'Looking for me? Here I am!" Zulie raised her head. Sure enough, Queenie had hopped to the very top of the green tree. "You can't catch me," she said. "So stop trying. Now here's a good reason not to eat me. In fact, there are three good reasons."

Zulie was still hungry, but now she was getting curious. "What?"

Queenie rubbed her back legs together and chirped, "I can grant you three magic wishes."

"Nonsense," said Zulie. "You've been reading too many fairytales." She shook her head. "What am I saying? Crickets can't read!" (Neither can dragons, but don't tell her I said so.)

Queenie said, "I can make your wishes come true, if you promise not to eat me."

"Is this a trick?" Zulie crept close to Queenie again. She had a trick up her sleeve too. (Now dragons don't have sleeves either, but don't tell her I said so.)

"What is your first wish?" asked Queenie. She climbed to the highest branch above Zulie.

"How about a dish full of crickets?"

Queenie wagged her feelers and scolded, “That's no good. Try again."

"Oh all right," sighed Zulie. "How about a dish of food that never goes empty?"

"You sure think about food a lot," said Queenie. She waved her feelers and poof! there appeared a great big bowl full of fresh green salad and plump, juicy blueberries on top.

"Wow!" exclaimed Zulie. Her fluffy black beard went down and she smiled. (Dragons can't actually smile, but don't tell her I said so.)

"What's your next wish?" asked Queenie.

The dragon princess said, "I wish for a nice soft blanket that never gets cold at night." There was another poof! and a pretty blue blanket appeared on Zulie's bed. She nearly fell onto the floor. "How did you do that?"

"Ancient cricket secrets," chuckled Queenie. "What's your last wish? And remember, you promised not to eat me."

Before Zulie could answer, the door to her room opened. In came her servant, carrying a bucket of water and a brush. The servant came up close and looked into Zulie's tank. "Hey girl, all done with your crickets?"

(Now Zulie didn't like being called "girl." She was a princess! But she put up with it, because the servant brought her food, shelter, clean water, and sunshine.) The servant took away Zulie's bright lights and reached into her tank.

"Where'd you get all this food, your Highness?" She picked up Zulie's magic dish. Zulie tried to hold onto it, but the servant took it away. "Let me get you some fresh stuff." Down came another dish of salad and watermelon. "Now for some clean water." And the servant took away Zulie's magic water.

"Don't worry," said Queenie. "It's still magic water."

Zulie looked up at the little cricket. "Thank you!" she said with a dragon smile.

The servant came back and said, "Time to clean your tank, girl." She picked up the green plant where Queenie was hiding. Queenie fell onto the floor. "What! There's one last cricket. Here, Zulie." The servant pushed Queenie along the floor towards Zulie.

 "Zulie, help me!" cried Queenie in her little cricket voice.

Now on any other day, Zulie would have just snapped her up without a thought. But today was not like any other day.

"Quick!" she whispered. "Hop onto my tail." Zulie had a very long tail. It was twice as long as her body, and she could whip it around like snake.

"Do you promise not to eat me?" Queenie squeaked.

"I promise. Now hurry up!"

Queenie climbed up onto the dragon’s tail. Zulie raised her up, up, up to the top of the open tank. "Go!" she whispered.

Queenie jumped from the tank and landed safely on the floor. She turned and waved her feelers at Zulie. "Good-bye, Princess Zulie" she cried in her tiny voice. "Thank you for saving my life."

Away she hopped. And from that day on, Zulie refused to eat another cricket. Queenie had been a good friend. And who knows, she might come back to say hello!


April 26, 2022 16:21

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Cindy Strube
21:04 May 08, 2022

Aww, this is so cute! I think you could easily publish it as a kids’ story. Love the repeated “Don’t tell her I said so”! We must keep Zulie’s self-esteem high! Guessing you have/had a beardie? My daughter was in a natural history museum program in high school, and she really enjoyed the bearded dragons. I could just picture the “princess” talking to Queenie!


Mae Stroshane
03:36 May 10, 2022

Thanks for your kind comments, Cindy! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Maybe I should send it out to achildren's publisher. Yes, I had a beardie who thought very highly of herself (I think they all do, and I'm not kidding! They're picky eaters and like their blankets fluffed just so!) Your daughter must have enjoyed her natural history program. They're so good for making us aware of our precious Earth.


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13:03 Apr 27, 2022

Nice story, sort of a fable. the tension really built up with the 3 wishes. I think i only counted Zulie asking for 2 wishes though. Your choice of animal got my interest as I saw a few bearded dragons in australia recently and they are impressively big.


Mae Stroshane
13:42 May 06, 2022

Thanks for your kind comments, Scott. I'm glad you enjoyed my little animal "tale." I don't see too many children's stories in the contests but I thought I'd take a chance!


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