The council hotline number rang all day. The recent campaign hadn’t been the success it seemed after all. All that money and all those adverts, all wasted. People still insisted on feeding the dragons.
It was the babies that attracted people, the cute little ones that didn't breathe fire but just spluttered out a few sparks and a puff of smoke. Word got round that they liked kitchen leftovers and that sometimes they found it hard to compete for food against the fully grown dragons, and feeding baby dragons became ‘a cause.’
Groups met together and sought out places the babies were most likely to be, and laid scraps for them. And when they came more often, people started to cook things for them specially. Whole roasts, turkeys and sausages, legs of pork and game pies were left for them, and the babies came every day.
At first, when it was just the little ones, the visits were manageable. There were occasional scorchings and burning bushes, but nothing that vigilance and a few bucket of water couldn’t sort out. But the babies grew into young adults, and in time older adults, and they still expected to be fed by the local people.
In time, flocks of dragons were circling the town almost constantly, in search of food. Dozens of full-sized dragons were no longer cute and local people began to complain. The skies were dark and smokey and fires blazed every day destroying homes and businesses and forests.
So the council started the ‘ban dragon feeding’ campaign and slowly people realized if they stopped putting out food, the dragons would go hungry and move on. Mostly people stopped leaving out food and mostly, things got better.
And when all but the scrawniest dragons had moved on, barely visiting the town, someone remembered how sad a hungry baby dragon looked. How big its eyes grew and how its lip seemed to quiver. How loud dragon tummy rumbles were and how pathetic such a fearsome beast could become.
Then it began again. Scraps, joints, birds, even pigs left out, with everyone thinking just a little won't hurt. The dragons returned to feed. And this time they wondered what people might taste like.