Biological Hallucinations in the Coming Century

Whether dragons were real or not, is it possible we might be able to create them? I think it would be great fun to build a dragon manufacturing facility. The dragons would be crafted from one hundred percent biological components. No plastic, no metal, no ceramic sheathing; nothing lacking a living cellular structure. I want no part of creating artificial dragons; it’s the real thing or nothing. That is not to say I insist on replicating creatures that may (or may not) once have wandered the Earth. I require only that the beasts emerge from biological structures. Cells and the like. Hell, even if the cells are plant-based. I just want biology involved from the get-go. Because I am a purist.

My interest in bio-mechanical beasts is non-existent. Carnivorovegan creatures, though, I can deal with. Yes, I realize it’s not a word and that, furthermore, it wouldn’t make sense even if it were. If that’s a problem for the reader, so be it. I may adopt carnivorovegan as a descriptive term for flesh-eating creatures arising from a crop including vegan “parents.” I use the term parents somewhat loosely, inasmuch as a creature may have as many as several thousand components, each coming from a different biological source. For example, eyes derived from root-eating rodents, livers from koalas, tongues from horses, stomachs from cows, and so forth. And, of course, vegetable-based elements: skin from potatoes, reproductive systems from tomatoes, bones from California redwoods, lips from vegetarian fish, and so on. Not stitched together, by the way, but grown in laboratory media and “bio-melded” in facilities as clean and as meticulously organized as operating-rooms. It’s clearer in my head than in my fingers, hence the difficulty you may be having in understanding what I am attempting to describe. Bear with me; you will understand it fully before you reach your 248th birthday, I promise.

I wonder, is there a word for plants that get their sustenance not from soil but, instead, by digesting other plants? A vegetarian cannibal, as it were. Vegetable has already been used, but we know the English language tends to use words without regard to previous copyright or trademark protection. But how about words in other languages? Might there be a seed-bank equivalent to linguistic lineage? If not, there should be. Every known word from every known language recorded on magnetic media and stored in mountainside ice-caves. Temperatures in the caves must be maintained at zero degrees Celsius; once temperatures reach 100 degrees, the words vaporize, never to be written, spoken, or read again.

Flesh-eating dragons formed from plants and animals whose sustenance came entirely from plants. That’s it. A bizarre carnivorovegan hybrid that reproduces through pollen fertilization, leading to seed pods that form on the dragon’s scales.

Seed pods drop to the ground and burrow into the soil. The seeds inside the pod are fed by a fleshy substance surrounding the seed; the pods act much like a womb, protecting and feeding the embryonic dragon. When the tiny beast is sufficiently mature, it cracks open the seed pod (which looks much like an egg and, when it breaks, acts like one) and emerges into the air. The baby dragons immediately take to the sky, searching for their parents (male and female dragons participate in this process, but it’s too involved to describe at this moment). As it happens, the parents also are searching for their offspring. Once they connect, they form family units that stay together for between six weeks and four hundred years, depending on the baby dragons’ speed of development. Needless to say, it’s a long story.

The truly interesting part of this process is the fact that the original parents were manufactured, as described. Yet all subsequent dragons evolve and reproduce like animal-plant hybrids, as described above. The process was described in painstaking detail in notebooks maintained by Charles Darwin. Unfortunately, those notebooks were destroyed during the Gemenids meteor shower in December 1862. He had published On the Origin of Species just a few years earlier and was preparing to publish the seminal When Dragons Return: A How-To Guide when his notes burned in a celestial conflagration the likes of which no one had seen before nor has anyone seen sense.  Darwin was crushed by the loss of his dragon notebooks and was in no mood to try to reproduce them. Consequently, we have had to feel our way in the dark in pursuing this deeply intriguing subject; we could not depend on Darwin, nor on his notebooks. Because, as I said, they were burned in a meteoric inferno of epic proportion. That situation, by the way, should serve as a lesson to us all: notebooks about dragon development and reproduction should be kept in subterranean vaults, safe from raining meteors. Of course, care should be taken to ensure that the vaults are not subject to flooding, infestation by animals, mold, and other potentially destructive hazards.

Dragon milk contains capscaicin concentrations equivalent to between 100,000 and 500,000 Scoville Units. That is to say, it is hotter than Hades by a factor of about 1000. The capscaicin is the reason dragons often are pictured with flames erupting from their mouths. It’s actually not the capscaicin that causes the flames; it’s the combination of capscaicin fumes with methane in the presence of a spark. One of the oddities of dragon physiology is that they do not fart in the traditional way that animals do. Instead, their belches accomplish what our farts do; they expel enormous volumes of methane created during the digestive process. When combined with capscaicin, dragon belches can be literally explosive. The first “human-created” fire came about when a cave-dwelling human threw a flint rock at a dragon that was poking its head in the cave the human occupied. The flint rock struck another rock, causing a spark and, BAM! Flames like you’ve never seen. The cave dweller, anticipating the discovery of fire, had accumulated about six cords of firewood, fuel to provide heat during the coming winter. It went up in smoke in thirty seconds. By the way, that was before the more recent redevelopment of dragons. Just in case you were confused.  At any rate, dragons have been assumed to breathe fire since that very day. And perhaps they do.

If I could share with you my conversations with dragons over the years, I would. I think you would find them (the conversations) interesting and you would find them (the dragons) tender-hearted and deeply intelligent. Copernicus learned almost all he knew from a dragon named Stetson Myers. Stetson took a liking to Copernicus from the moment they debated heliocentrism. Ah, but you didn’t come here to read about Nicolaus’ interaction with Stetson Myers. So, I’d better stop writing. Otherwise, you might be subjected to more information than you want to fill your head.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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