Helium Chameleon just appeared. Conjured from the dream of a slumbering spirit, the chameleon dropped into the physical reality and marvelled at his creation. Before he could ponder the existential nature of his form he received a latent message from the spirit – “You are my sense of adventure, my conduit of discovery. Journey to the farthest reaches of the Earth. Look upon all things and document their qualities. Show me the world as it now is.”
“How?” asked the chameleon.
“The monatomic elements of the air will facilitate communion,” the spirit replied, and was then silent, leaving the little lizard scratching his head.
For a night and a day the chameleon scurried hither and thither and experienced many spectacular things. He watched a waterfall in Wales, tasted toast in Towcester and saw the sun set in Somerset.
During a visit to a shopping centre he met an unusual individual with huge feet, baggy trousers, multicoloured hair and a big red nose, who offered to give the chameleon two things if only he bought one thing.
What strangeness, thought the chameleon, then agreed to buy one of the unusual fellow’s hovering spheres.
“These are promotional balloons,” said the unusual fellow, “the shop is over there,” he added, pointing yonder. “You can have a balloon for free.”
Curious, thought the chameleon, and took the string from the unusual fellow. The balloon seemed to want to go up into the air, and the chameleon had little choice but to follow it. He quickly tied the string around his middle and rose a few feet off the ground.
Using a particularly innovative method of air-swimming he was able to propel himself around and about. A gentle breaststroke had him drifting pleasantly forward, a quick backstroke put on the breaks, and a furious crawl, with much puffing and panting and twisting this way and that allowed him to outrun small children with sticky fingers and maniacal grins.
Although the chameleon very much liked drifting about in the air, balloon sailing was, unfortunately, a rather unpredictable method of travel, and having narrowly escaped the melted ice lolly clutches of one small child, he crashed right into another – a little boy with somewhat stubby fingers but a surprisingly quick grasp.
“Wizard!” The boy gasped, squeezing the little creature very tightly. The chameleon started to panic. His bulgy eyes bulged even more. His tail fwipped this way and that. Then his head went wonky as the boy, sporting an expression of curious wonder, began to shake him up and down.
Something went pop in the chameleon’s head. At first he thought it was his brain, and was prepared for things to get messy when it began to dribble out of his ears.
Instead, a thousand possibilities of escape flashed into his consciousness. He became one with the elements. He was electricity. He was fire. He was light. He was dust.
As fast as thought he became ink. He ran quick as mercury round and around the boy’s hand and wrist and up his arm, a tattoo with a mind of its own.
The boy lurched back, his arm outstretched and a look of horrified disgust on his face. The chameleon scurried back down the boy’s arm, wound himself round and round the string and ran onto the curved surface of the balloon.
The boy stood, staring, turning his arm this way and that. Nothing. Just skin. Did that happen? he wondered. He looked up and saw a big red balloon drifting up into the air. A balloon with a lizard on it. A lizard who was poking his tongue out.
The chameleon chuckled to himself as he rose up above the heads of the shoppers. But then he wasn’t rising anymore, he was sinking. Down and down, bit by bit.
He looked down to see the boy reeling him in by the string of the balloon. He looked a very cross little boy. The chameleon gulped.
The boy snatched the balloon from the air. “You’re weird,” he declared, jabbing at the picture of the chameleon. Suddenly his eyes widened – the lizard had disappeared.
The chameleon felt the balloon being turned this way and that. He had fallen through the membrane of its surface and become himself again inside the balloon. The air seemed odd in here.
Peering through the skin of the balloon he could just about see the little boy. He was fumbling with his little coat. A moment later he brandished a little badge, with the little pin bent out a little.
The chameleon’s eyes widened. The boy’s eyes narrowed.
“Charlie! There you are,” a woman said, suddenly appearing from the bustle of people, “stay close to me, I don’t want you getting lost again.”
For a moment everyone froze. The woman looked expectantly at the boy. The chameleon looked apprehensively at the boy. The boy turned his eyes back to the balloon and grinned.
A quick jab. A loud bang. People jumped. The woman squealed. “Charlie!” She chided. The boy’s eyes flicked about, then his grin dropped.
In the air, slowly rising, the chameleon chuckled. He rolled over and over, clutching his sides and laughing in a high pitched giggle. Far below, the boy stamped his foot. The chameleon tipped his head back and laughed uproariously.
“Hello again,” said a voice. The chameleon looked over, sniggering. “Hello Clown,” he giggled. “What’s in these balloons?” he asked. “It’s helium, chameleon,” said the clown.
“Helium Chameleon,” the reptile repeated, “what fun!”
“Chameleon!” came a voice.
“Oof!” said the chameleon as he drifted into a wall. “Yes sir?” he said, rubbing his head.
“You have used the elements of the air to initiate communion with me.”
“I have? Oh. Ahem. Yes. I have.”
“Er. Well. Let’s see. Shopping centres are extremely busy.”
“……Okay…..Not really sure how that helps me, but thanks. What else?”
“Beware of little boys – some of them are little monsters.”
“Hmm, I see. I’ll watch out for those. Good work chameleon, off you go again.”
“Bye sir!” said chameleon and swam off towards the exit, chuckling and giggling.
“That chameleon,” frowned the spirit. “If I’d wanted him to fly everywhere I would have made him a bat!”