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Ben Cotton Ben Cotton
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She had a friend.

Freddy was a frightful young boy who didn’t much like doing his homework. His fear of the unknown was only just eclipsed by his distaste for out-of-hours school work, so one day he decided to go exploring instead.

Out the door he went and across the street, round the bend and under the bridge, down the road and over the gate, through the field and into the woods. It wasn’t long before he was quite lost. It would be tea time soon, and Freddy was afraid that he was going to go hungry.

There was a rustle in the bushes nearby.

‘Excuse me?’ Freddy said, ‘I’m looking for my home, do you know where it is?’

‘Oh yes,’ said a voice from the bushes, ‘If you follow me I will show you where your home is.’

‘Thank you very much!’ said Freddy, but he jumped back in fright as out of the bushes emerged an enormous lion. Freddy looked at the lion carefully. ‘Are you sure you are going to take me home? I heard that lions eat little boys who don’t do their homework.’

‘Oh no,’ said the lion slyly, ‘Lions only eat little boys who get scared and run away. You’re not going to run away now are you?’

‘No, but I am very scared.’ said Freddy

‘That’s settled then, you will follow me,’ said the lion. ‘You ought to be more like us lions. Lions aren’t afraid of anything!’

Freddy had no choice but to follow the lion, who led him deeper and deeper into the forest. He had a feeling that they were not going home at all.

‘You must be afraid of something,’ Freddy said hurriedly as they walked, desperately trying to keep his mind off the fact that he was practically a walking lunch for the lion. ‘I’m afraid of everything! I’m very frightened of vultures with their big dark wings...’

‘Vultures don’t frighten me!’ boasted the lion, ‘Lions aren’t afraid of anything!’

‘What about crocodiles? I’m terrified of crocodiles with their big sharp teeth...’

‘No, crocodiles don’t frighten me either,’ laughed the lion, ‘Like I said: lions aren’t afraid of anything!’

‘Elephants, surely you’re afraid of elephants!’ squeaked Freddy ‘I’m really afraid of elephants, they’re so... big!’

‘Elephants! Ha! They don’t scare me in the slightest!’ snorted the lion.

It was then that Freddy noticed a shadowy cave at the bottom of a rock face. ‘What’s in there?’ he wondered aloud.

‘They say that a dragon lives there,’ the lion said, enjoying the terrified look on his young captive’s face, ‘a dragon with teeth sharper than a crocodile’s and wings darker than a vulture’s and so gigantically big and monstrous that it devours entire villages!’

‘But you’re not afraid of the dragon are you?’ asked Freddy

‘No of course not!’ said the Lion. ‘Lions are not afraid of anything!’

‘But... I don’t understand!’ said Freddy ‘How can you not be afraid of something that gigantically big and monstrous?’

‘You want me to show you how unafraid I am?’ snarled the lion, ‘I’ll walk straight in there and kick that dragon out! Come on!’ And he marched Freddy into the dark cave.

After a few echoed footsteps, there came a deep voice from out of the gloom.

‘Who goes there?’

‘I am a lion, and I am not afraid of you, dragon!’ the lion yelled back at the voice.

The dragon loomed up from the shadows. It was as larger than an elephant, with teeth sharper than a crocodile and wings darker than a vulture’s. Needless to say, Freddy was petrified.

‘And why not?’ questioned the dragon, ‘I could swoop down and eat you in two bites, after burning you to a crisp with my fiery breath! Now tell me, why you are not afraid?’

‘I am the most fearsome creature in these woods!’ screamed the lion, ‘It is you who should fear me! Now I order you to get out of this cave, this is my home now!’

‘You’re home is in my belly,’ said the dragon, and he swooped down on the lion and cooked him with his fiery breath, before gobbling him up.

Freddy let out a gasp.

‘Come here to kick me out of my home too, have you!’ boomed the dragon.

‘No!’ squeaked Freddy ‘I’m just trying to get to my home, but I’m lost and afraid and... That lion made me follow him and I think he was going to eat me! So I got him to come in here and... Please don’t eat me Mr Dragon!’

‘I’m actually quite full,’ laughed the dragon, ‘You seem pretty harmless to me. Tell you what, I’ll fly you high up in the sky so you will be able to see where you live, and then I’ll take you there. It’s the least I can do after you got me that tasty meal. Not afraid of heights are you?’

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