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art by Billy Sagulo

21st Century Dragonslayer's Lament

Susan E. Connolly is an Irish writer who lives in Dublin near the mountains. While she holds a degree in Veterinary Medicine, her proudest achievement is still coming top in spelling when she was seven. Susan's first novel, Damsel, was published in 2009 by Mercier Press. A middle-grade fantasy, it follows the journey of Annie Brave, a damsel-in-training on a dangerous quest to rescue her heroic father from an evil wizard. She is currently working on a comic book with Atomic Diner, based on Grainne Ní Mhaille, the Irish Pirate Queen. She can be found on Twitter via @susanconnolly.
I am a Dragonslayer. My title is not Sir or Lord or Prince, but Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. My quest did not begin with a plea from a Queen or a charge from a dying adventurer. It began with a two-stage interview process and a yearlong contract with the Humane Society.
I am a Dragonslayer. My reward is not a princess' hand in marriage or a half a kingdom. Rather it is a set salary deposited to my bank account on a biweekly basis, with generous medical benefits and potential for overtime.
I am a Dragonslayer and I have dental coverage.
The dragons did not burst from a newly active volcano, or awaken from a magical sleep far below the earth. The dragons were created by Harald Jacobson, PhD, a geneticist specializing in commercial applications of genetic engineering for the residential market. The first battle against the dragons was not fought with wizards and sorcerers, or archers and knights. The battle was with the legal bill H.R. 3320 "To control and regulate the companion animal status of created life forms." The dragons were victorious and quickly colonized our homes.
My quarry was not curled in a mountain eyrie, sleeping on gold and gems. He was not guilty of stealing maidens or harrying townsfolk. The dragon had grown too large to be cute and easily adopted, and was found wandering the streets, eating from garbage cans and covered in parasites.
My lance is steel-tipped, sharp, and filled with barbiturates. It does not break when plunged into the dragon's skin and veins, but I must discard it anyway, due to Regulation 1.03 on safe disposal of sharps. The dragon breathes its last, and my work is done. I am not showered with gold or the praises of the king, but with Form 7.27 "Proper Disposal of Biological Waste"--which I must fill out in triplicate. I am a Dragonslayer and I weep.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, December 30th, 2013


I actually trained and qualified as a veterinarian before taking the plunge into freelance writing. It became quickly apparent to me that the thought process of "I love animals, I should be a vet" ignores the important fact that being a vet involves mostly spending your time with sick and unhappy animals, which can be pretty upsetting. I have immense respect for the many wonderful vets who are able to give care and treatment to animals despite the stress and emotional strain of the job. I firmly believe that some of the first applications of genetic engineering will be in the alteration and creation of pets--after all, who wouldn't want a pet dragon or gryphon? I do hope, however, that we are responsible dragon-owners and do not abandon our scaly friends! Spay and neuter your mythological creatures! [Given our track record with cats and dogs--millions abandoned to be "euthanized" each year in the U.S. alone--we fear the worst. -Jonathan and Michele]

- Susan E. Connolly

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