RETURN TO DINOSAUR LAND
(A DINOSAUR TRAIN STORY)
As he walked up the steps of the HP Pavilion-otherwise known as the Shark Tank- in San Jose, California, he took it all in. Never in his wildest dreams had he ever imagined that his beloved Montreal Canadiens would've made it this far in the hockey playoffs! The series against the Washington Capitals was tough, the series against the Pittsburgh Penguins was tough, and the series against the Philadelphia Flyers was even tougher; but NOW, it was the Stanley Cup final against the mighty San Jose Sharks! The BIG SHOW! And here he was, part of if all! Luc smiled to himself as he entered the arena ready and eager to take in the game and cheer his beloved Habs on to victory.
He wore the same thing he always wore at every Canadiens game he attended since the start of the playoffs: His red coloured "Sainte-Flanelle" shirt bearing the team's logo; as well as his hockey idol's name: Guy Lafleur; a pair of blue jeans, a red Canadiens ballcap also bearing the team's logo; and a pair of black sneakers. Since the weather in San Jose was sunny and absolutely gorgeous, he decided to leave his Top Flite golfer's windbreaker at the hotel. Since it was a Sunday, it was a rare matinee game with a scheduled puck drop at noon sharp. Since it was also the Stanley Cup finals, he knew the major Canadian TV networks would be on hand to broadcast the game: the CBC, RDS, and even TSN! He thought he'd better make a point to try and get himself on live TV and say "hi" to the family back home, whom he knew would be watching. He'd hope to find RDS, because it was the French Canadian sports network; and that's the station they'd most likely be watching from back home in New-Brunswick.
It has been a long journey for Luc, and it all started more than two years ago when he won that big jackpot in the Canadian 6/49 lottery! A jackpot totalling 15 million dollars! The first thing he said he'd do was take a sabbatical from work and attend every Canadiens home and away game from beginning to end! He had more than enough money to fulfill this lifelong dream, but he knew from the start it wouldn't be easy! For the past year, he'd been literally living out of hotel rooms and airport terminals, but it was worth it!
He kept in touch with his family from time to time just to let them know where he was, how he was doing, how his beloved Habs were doing; but most of all, what kind of places he saw and people he met along the way.
It wasn't the first time he'd walked into the HP Pavillion, neither. Last time he came here was back in early March. Has it only been three months ago! Time flies when you're having fun! He thought to himself. Back then, the Canadiens were on a west coast swing. After their one game against the Sharks, the team had to head out to Los Angeles to face the Kings two nights later. Back then, Luc didn't get a chance to see much of San Jose; because he had to hop on a bus after the game to head out to L.A. and get to his hotel room and relax before heading out to the arena for the game. But now, the Canadiens will be in town for the next three days; since they're playing two games in San Jose, with a day off in between, before both teams had to head out to Montreal to play the next two games at the Bell Center. This time, he will get to take in more of the sights and sounds of San Jose; and he already planned an itinerary for his off day tomorrow.
As he walked though the ticket gates of the HP Pavillion, he saw that the place was already crowded. It was a half an hour before the start of the game, and there was a literal sea of teal blue jerseys- the Sharks' team colour- wandering around. Some of the Sharks' fans stared or glared at him as he stood out in his red Canadiens' jersey. Some of them even taunted him by shouting out at him "You're gonna go DOWN, man!" or "No way your HABS are gonna beat the mighty Sharks!" Luc simply ignored them. He was sure there would be more Habs fans present at the game tonight. He figured they would all be gathered behind the Canadiens' team bench, which was where his seat for today's game was located.
The memory of how the arena was laid out came back to him as he worked his way through the crowd in an effort to find the right section; and eventually, his seat. Just in front of the entrance he was supposed to take, he saw that the Sharks' team mascot, S.J. Sharkie, was there entertaining the crowd; and posing to get his picture taken with kids and adults alike. Luc already knew of Sharkie's reputation of being a prankster, and was quite aware of the antics he sometimes performed on fans of opposing hockey teams; which was why he never sought out to meet him, and hoped that Sharkie wouldn't approach him to pull one of his tricks on him. During the one regular season game, he saw Sharkie on the scoreboard's huge screen do his thing during breaks in the game, and during period intermissions. He even saw him entertaining in the stands here and there in the arena! But he was glad that Sharkie never came anywhere near him, and he was quick to leave the arena when the game was over. The Canadiens had lost that game 4 to 3, but Luc was not sorely disappointed. Matter of fact, the score was way better than what he expected! He knew that the Sharks had a powerful offense, and that it would practically take a miracle to beat the Sharks that night; but it was a close game right up until the last 5 minutes of the third period when Danny Heatley, the Sharks' star player, scored the goal that would end up being the game winner.
Sharkie sensed that he had to look towards the approaching Canadiens' fan. He didn't know why, at first, but as he saw this 5 foot, 9 inch, roughly 200 pound guy approach in his direction, and saw the aura that surrounded him, he got a vision of the magical being behind the human facade he projected to the outside world. His eyes went wide with astonishment, and the first thought that came to his mind was "I've gotta MEET this guy!"
Luc tried his best not to draw attention to himself as he hurried past SJ Sharkie. "Excuse me!" he heard from his right. He rolled his eyes as he stopped, for he knew that SJ Sharkie had spotted him and called out to him.
Luc slowly turned around to face Sharkie and pointed at himself as if to say "Who, me?"
"Yes, you! Stay right there..." Sharkie said as he turned to pose with a couple of eager kids while their father took their picture. They thanked him for his time before he turned his attention to Luc.
"Now, I was..." Sharkie stopped mid sentence as he noticed that Luc was adopting a defensive position. "What?"
"At least let me know what it is you plan to do to me before you do it..." Luc said in his French Canadian accent.
Sharkie looked confused. "What are you talkin' about?"
"Come on! I know you! You're S.J. Sharkie, and I know how much you like to play tricks on fans like me..."
Sharkie laughed. "Oh, THAT! Hey, I only do that to fans who are willing participants. It's all for show, trust me! I just wanna talk to you..."
"Actually, can we go someplace private, like my office?"
Luc looked at Sharkie questioningly.
"Come on! I'm not gonna hurt you!" Sharkie said reassuringly with a pat on his arm. "I just wanna talk! That's all! C'mon!"
"Oooooohhhkaaaaayyyy..." Luc said as he followed Sharkie to his office.
A few minutes later, Luc was lead inside Sharkie's private office. Located right beside the souvenir shop! Typical! Luc thought to himself. Sharkie closed the door behind him and went and sat down behind his desk and put his feet up.
"SO..." Sharkie began. "I guess the first thing I should ask you to do is change back into your real form..."
"Don't play innocent with me, buddy!" Sharkie said rather forcefully. "I know that that human shell you're projecting is meant to hide your true dragon form! There's nobody else here! No security cameras! Nothin'! So why don't you change back into your true form, huh?"
Luc smiled slowly, stood up and did exactly as Sharkie asked. The towering pillar of light slowly dissolved to reveal his true identity of Karkovice the weredragon.
"That's better!" Sharkie smiled with some satisfaction.
"I just have one question: How did you know?" Karkovice asked.
"My Sharkie sense told me..."
Sharkie nodded. "Yeah! You know how Spider Man has his 'Spidey' sense?"
"Well, I have my 'Sharkie' sense... It starts tingling every time I'm in proximity of a magical being, like another team mascot... and like YOU... I felt it the moment you came within 20 feet from me..."
Karkovice placed his hands on his hips and chuckled. "Amazing..."
Sharkie smiled momentarily. "I'm guessing your friends with Sparky?"
"Yeah... I am..."
"Does he still go to Dinosaur Land from time to time?"
Karkovice was astounded. "You know about Dinosaur Land?"
"SURE! Every mascot knows about Dinosaur Land! We like to go there with kids who hold a particular interest in dinosaurs... sometimes their parents come, too... I've personally taken SEVERAL kids and their folks there over the years... I take it Sparky's taken you there himself?"
"Yeah... Well, he didn't actually COME with me; but when I was in New York back in April, he left me everything I needed to spend the day there... I must say, I've never met so many interesting dinosaurs in my entire life!"
"Sounds like you had a great time!"
"I have a friend who lives there. His name is Jake. He's a stygimoloch. Would you like to meet him?"
"Uhh... Sure... I've never met a stee-gee... whatever..."
Sharkie smiled. "All right! Say... After the game?"
Karkovice thought about it a moment, then smiled and nodded his head. "Okay. Sure!"
A knock was heard at the door. "Yo, Sharkie! It's almost time!" came the deep voice of a guard.
"Okay! Be right out!" Sharkie called in response. "You'd better go find your seat, and I gotta go do my bit on the ice..."
Karkovice made sure he changed back into his human form and assume his identity of Luc before both he and Sharkie rushed out of the office.
Midway thought the second period of the hockey game, Sharkie came down to where Luc was sitting behind the Canadiens' team bench. He found Luc cheering his team on. "LET'S GO, BOYS! WE CAN BEAT 'EM! WHOOOOOOO!"
"Glad to see you're enjoying yourself!" he said to Luc over the din of the crowd.
"I ALWAYS enjoy myself at these games!" Luc admitted.
"Well, that's good! Listen, I just wanted to make sure that our trip to Dinosaur Land after the game was still on..."
"Oh! Well..." the groan of the crowd cut his sentence short. "OH OOH! Excuse me... ALL RIGHT, LES BOYS! BEAU BUT! BEAU BUT! WHOOOOOO!"
The Canadiens had just scored another goal, and he was celebrating.
"AH, MAN! I can't believe they scored ANOTHER one! They're up 3 to 1! That was a fluke!"
"HEY! Speak for yourself, shark boy!" Luc said as he shared hi fives with his fellow Canadiens' fans sitting next to him.
"So... about that trip to Dinosaur Land?" Sharkie asked after the noise had died down.
"Yeah... I still wanna go..."
Sharkie smiled. "All right! I'll have some loose ends to tie up here, then I'll meet you at your hotel about a couple of hours after the game. Sound good?"
Luc nodded. "Sure!"
"Okay..." Sharkie happily said as he patted Luc on the shoulder. "See you then!" He got up as if to leave, then turned to face Luc. "OH! And one more thing..."
Sharkie then unleashed a can of silly spray on Luc, who screamed as he was covered from head to toe with the stuff. When the can was emptied, Sharkie laughed evilly as he raced away.
"AAAARGGHHH! I'LL GET YOU FOR THIS, SHARKIE!" Luc growled at him while the Sharks' fans around him laughed and said "Got you there, Habs boy!" while the Canadiens' fans booed Sharkie while he raced away to the cheers of the crowd around him.