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New Heights
by KJ Hannah Greenberg


Jessica was neither pudgy nor bereft of scales. Her flame appeared as quickly as did those of other serpentine seafish. Besides, her claws were as sharp as was any rondel dagger and her venom was equal to that of any Blue Krait’s. However, her kin had ousted her to an uncharted island in Polynesia; they were ashamed of her height. The young chimera hadn’t even merited a berth on Compadre Rock, let alone a home on the reptilian paradise known as “Vigur.”

She had been sent far from her people simply for towering over them. Collective memory suggests that never before and never since had there been a wingspan as colossal as hers. Unfurled, she was an enormous freak among lesser fiends.

Whereas her kind had sufficient resources such that each of them could eat, weekly, the equivalent of a sheep or of a small person, unlike Jessica, other hatchlings successfully translated their calories into well-muscled limbs, glossy scutes, and strong organs. A minority among them packed on attractive adipose tissue, too. Jessica, regrettably, just seemed to morph food into additional latitude. Before achieving even two months of life, she stood much taller than all of her age-mates.

Little has been recorded by chimera bards about the shock, denial, and disbelief Jessica experienced when being taunted, but we know that she tried to binge eat as a means of relieving her distress. Unfortunately, on those occasions when she consumed two colts or an entire wild boar, she’d feel stuffed, and then, just hours later, swell perceivably taller.

Jessica also attempted both starvation and other, less extreme, routes to allaying her vertical gains. In spite of those efforts, when she ate less, the only corporeal changes she achieved were catching a respiratory infection and developing an intestinal amoebic ulcer. To heal from those, she had to, respectively, swallow fruiting citrus trees and indulge in afternoon naps. When she snoozed, the young dragon hid away from her colony, in general, and from her mother, more specifically.

Her mother, that same creature that had refused to yield to our species-centric prerogative to devour one’s young, found no fault in daily assaulting Jessica. Charles, a clutchmate of Jessica’s, posited that Mom had gone a trifle mad from the unrelenting mockery of Mom’s peers.

The laugh of a chimera is a horrid thing. Such derision begins with the scream of the goat-like head, continues with the bellow of the lion-like head, and crescendos with the slight sighing of the snake-like head. When several chimeras snigger simultaneously, the resulting sound is a cacophony akin to the unnatural voices of cursed beings being “rehabilitated.”

In other words, given her colony’s freely articulated response to her refusal to destroy her children, and to her odd child’s unnatural stature, Mom was irreproachable for regularly trying to chomp and claw Jessica in ways that might “accidentally” result in death. Had it not been for nearby woodland’s plentiful population of deer, Jessica would have died. Rather, she grew taller and taller.

Even so, Jessica, who was not only taller than Mom, but who was also faster, did not tolerate being bitten and lacerated. She continued to insist on staying alive, too. Those truths notwithstanding, the young chimera was hurt by Mom’s slashes and punctures because those acts meant her parent wanted to dismember her. Jessica was unprepared for such brutality, felt powerless to prevent it, and understood it as cruel. If Mom had tried, alternatively, to eat her, all would have been well, even socially acceptable.

Thus, months later, after Jessica’s wings had grown strong enough for her to be legitimately expatriated, she felt both grief-stricken and relieved. Being anathematized could translate into loneliness or it could translate into freedom from intimidation.

In her autobiography, Jessica claimed that she had not been ostracized to a small, uninhabited volcanic isle, but had been sent, along with Charles, the runt of their clutch, to an Australian hamlet. That she could have journeyed from their hatching site to the vast continent, given her physical prowess, was not incredible. That Charles, a normal-sized terror, could have also flown to Auz, though, continues to be unbelievable.

Jessica reported that in “Australia,” she continued to engage in counterproductive eating behaviors, which, in turn, led her to further irritability, mood swings, and interruptions in concentration. The young chimera wrote that she blamed herself for both imagined inconveniences and actual problems.

For instance, she attributed her ingrown claws to her inability to adapt to her new environment. She understood her bad breath as resulting from her reluctance to suck down sticky birdlime or odd-tasting fruited kou trees. Albeit, when suffering dysthymia, Jessica gobbled mouthfuls of koalas, pawfuls of iguanas, and as many Iriomote cats as she could catch, but those choices made her ill and indubitably made her taller.

Only when Jessica reached physical maturity did she stop toying with restrictive eating. The end of her adolescence brought the end of her increased height. Accordingly, Jessica took solace in her newfound ability to binge with immunity. She overate to fight muscle tension, insomnia, fatigue, and even agitation. No pleasure surpassed that of stuffing her craw full of fins and feathers.

Charles watched his sister’s horizontal growth. The colony where they had hatched was, according to Jessica’s book, thousands of kilometers away from “Australia,” but Jessica kept on reacting to her childhood trauma. So, Charles stayed to himself.

Jessica responded by telling her brother, more and more often, why he needed emancipation. For his part, Charles began to see the wisdom in seeking freedom from his sister’s fangs, claws, grammatical strictures, and freely offered axioms. He thought that he ought to flee the hamlet and that Jessica ought to give up both clinical solipsisms and colloquial proverbs.

Later, a human psychologist, who maintained a house in that homestead, attempted to relieve Jessica not only of her identity, but also of its associative memories and feelings. He also dallied with Charles. So, Jessica ate him.

That meal granted her, for a complete fortnight, ten centimeters of additional abdominal girth. Afterwards, she was again hungry, both emotionally and physically. Nevertheless, she eventually found a gym.

Subsequent to eating that fitness center’s employees and patrons, the chimera used the treadmill there that was dedicated to super-sized customers. Jessica’s body slowly transformed from fat to muscle. She felt motivated to work on other aspects of herself. She hired (and ate) tutors of math, of song, and of international affairs.

Sadly, those intellectual pursuits proved merely to be detours from, rather than improvements to, her psyche. What’s more, she found herself with no other chimera with whom to converse, as Charles had flown away. Had it not been for an acquaintance, a bright human named “Doris,” who was a master of persuasion, Jessica might have spent the rest of her life in a permanent sulk.

In her magnum opus, Jessica wrote that she allowed human affairs of the heart, particularly those of Doris, to amuse her and in that manner survived. She noted that she found fresh delight in tutoring Doris in revenge and in eating Doris’ nemeses.

From that odd friendship, the chimera “discovered,” too, that truth can be located in moments beyond those constituted by achieving a command of opponents’ languages or constituted by succeeding in consuming them in neat bites. She learned that heroes need to be familiar with enemies’ beliefs, and that killing mad scientists often incurs the need to also polish off their families. In other words, Jessica saw herself as having evolved into a being of great significance.

Perhaps, Jessica was not depressed, but delusional. It’s possible that she never met a friendly human, ate scores of nasty ones, or left the rocky atoll to which she was banished.

Perhaps, no sibling had ever lived alongside of her. Maybe her writings were wishful ideations, not facts and she attained a svelte size because she lacked foodstuffs. Logic dictates that she died prematurely, never contributing to any literary canon or to the greater cryptid gene pool.

Some of our scholars argue that Jessica and her brother did land within human civilization and did meet a young woman named “Doris,” but were befriended by her rather than befriended her. In that account of Jessica’s life, the acumen the she-beast gained from her travels, along with the insights she gained from her concessions, allowed her to finally feel fearless enough, proud enough, and sufficiently self-empowered to record her personal history and to do so as a “champion” adored by brutes and domesticated animals, alike.

A third possibility has been posited by those familiar with Jessica’s writings. Feasibly, Jessica was the runt and Charles the behemoth. It could be that the clutchmates made it to Australia, where no young human female rescued or was rescued by them. Possibly the mightier monster, Charles, wrote the story of his beleaguered sister to comfort her, signing her name, not his, to the volume. Words remain more powerful than tooth or talon in altering history.

No matter Jessica’s actual story, on both an atoll in Oceania and in the boondocks near a small Australian settlement, humans sighted an extra-large and a normal-sized chimera. We’ll let them puzzle it out as to why and how an eccentric scientist and many household pets went missing.



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