This story is now published as part of the anthology ‘Loyal and True’.
Their names might have been Georgette and Harriette, but absolutely no one called them that, not if they expected to live a long and happy life!
George and Harry, as they preferred to be called, had been friends since before they could spell ‘friends’, and that’s a long time because George has been able to spell since she could walk. Which is not as impressive as I’m making it sound; she could spell ‘cat’ not long after she started walking but cat is still a word and so is hyperbole.
The girls were excited about a well earned holiday in Scotland.
I say well earned because they had endured working every weekend for the past two years in a sleazy cafe on the outskirts of Melbourne. They probably could have gotten better jobs at a better cafe but they wanted to stay together and to find one job was hard enough, two jobs at the same establishment seemed a bridge too far.
Instead of flying to Europe they went by oceangoing Freighter. [They read somewhere that this was still possible and their uncle, who worked on the docks, arranged it all for them]. The sea voyage took about two weeks as the Freighter had many stops along the way. The crew were very friendly and very protective of the girls. When they went ashore, a couple of the seamen would go with them and look out for them. Most of the seamen had families back on shore, and some even had daughters.
The girls arrived in Scotland toward the end of summer and decided to hike and camp wherever they could. This way they could save money and prolong their adventure. When the money ran out they would have to go home, so saving money meant a few more precious days of freedom.
While walking through Argyle, they stopped at a place called Gallanach, which strangely, did not appear on any of the maps.
The town had a castle and a strange mystical atmosphere.
In the hills around Gallanach, there were large mounds of different sized rocks. The girls thought they were probably left over from some ancient religious practices but Prentice McHoan, a young man who befriended them, told them the story that his father had said to him.
A long time ago there were fierce creatures that lived in Scotland.
The scientists called them Beliocloptus Arily but really, they were Dragons.
Despite what people believe about Dragons they very rarely ate other creatures and instead they preferred plants and even small trees.
To help them digest their food they would swallow stones and even small rocks to grind up their meal.
When a Dragon became too old, it would climb onto the hill, lay down and die. With time their bodies would be absorbed into the soil and all that would be left would be the stones that they swallowed to help them digest their food.
Generation after generation of Dragons would come to this spot and lay down to die, and the stones piled higher and higher until they formed these strange mounds.
Some people believe that the dragons died out because they chose to support the wrong side in a famous battle.
Others believe that they flew away from areas that were inhabited by people and went to find a safer place to raise their young ones, but one thing is for certain, they were once in this location for a very long time, and the stones are the remembrance of them having lived here.
Eventually, the money ran out, and George and Harry had to return to their lives in Australia. The going home took less time than the coming.
As time went by, as time is wont to do, that haunting story told by a handsome young man stayed with them, and they told it to their children as soon as they were old enough to understand.
Credit must go to Iain Banks and the story contained in his book ‘The Crow Road’ as the inspiration for this ‘George and Harry’ adventure