By Matt Barone

Under any other circumstances, Stacy would be scared to death. Actually, she'd be dead. Literally.

Resting upwards of 500 feet in the air, she's in perfect striking distance for every missile and bullet that's presently traveling in her direction, but she's not the least bit uneasy. Jafara will keep her safe. That's what he does best.

Seated comfortably on top of his long, stretch-limousine-sized snout, Stacy has both hands firmly locked into two of Jafara's facial breathing holes. She holds on tightly, treating her newfound love's scaly, slimy nose as her very own magic carpet.

Ever since her father, General Stanley Porter, took her to see Disney's Aladdin when she a wide-eyed, curious 9-year-old, Stacy's always dreamed about riding high in the sky on the same kind of fantastic transportation that the hero and the beautiful Princess Jasmine flew on.

Sharing his delicious popcorn with her in the crowded movie theater, Stanley said, "Don't worry, sweetie. One day, you'll get your own magic carpet. It might not look like that, but you'll find your Aladdin. Because you're a princess, aren't you? Of course you are."

Daddy was right about one thing, thought Stacy: Jafara, as she affectionately named him, doesn't look anything like Aladdin. But he's just as heroic. She learned that firsthand when the green, over-sized lizard came to her rescue nearly an hour earlier. The memory of it replays in Stacy's mind: Like everyone else in Manhattan, she was watching the beast tear through Midtown, knocking down buildings and roaring with loud, intimidating fury. As the monster barreled down 37th Street and inched closer and closer to the Porter's high-rise apartment, Stacy couldn't help but press her hands and face against the all-glass wall, in unbridled astonishment. She never expected the beast's deafening, powerful roar to shatter the glass and send her falling to a splattery death. Nor did she anticipate that the gargantuan everyone in the city feared would catch her with its bare, bumpy, reptilian hand.

The more the soldiers' barrage of firepower whizzed past Jafara's head, the more Stacy couldn't help but feel comforted. If she were to lose her grip and slip off her speech-deprived but nonetheless emotive protector's snout, Jafara would catch her. She could tell by the way he looked at her with those dark, trampoline-dimensioned eyes.

Even if Daddy won't accept it. There he is, in a chopper that that's trailing Jafara. Through an extremely powerful megaphone, Daddy shouts: "Stacy, honey, please get it to stop! It's not your friend! It's a monster! You're going to die like this!"

Typical Daddy. He never likes any of the boys. But Jafara is different. He's like Aladdin.

At the top of her lungs, Stacy shouts for Jafara to hear, even though she's pretty sure he won't understand a word: "You've saved my life! That's more than any other man has ever done for me! Especially that bastard Todd. He would have just let me fall, but not you!"

Suddenly, Stacy feels Jafara's snout, along with the rest of his body, vibrate. The movements nearly shake her hands free from their grips. An ear-puncturing noise that sounds like massive helicopter propellers gearing up for liftoff fills the air. Looking past Jafara's enormous right eye, she notices what appears to be a wing ripping through a skyscraper. Seconds later, she and her special magic carpet are ascending into the air, high above the buildings and well beyond Daddy's chopper.

The view is breathtaking. Stacy can see all of New York City in the distance, and the Empire State Building up close as Jafara slows down for the approach. Like a dog sniffing a wall, Jafara sticks his snout against the roof, coaxing Stacy to crawl off and onto the building. She steps down, turns around, and makes eye contact with her hero. Squinting his snout, Jafara smiles, winks at her, and says, in a growling, hardly audible voice, "Stay here. Safe. Be back shortly. With present."

As Jafara flies away, back toward the military's nonstop blitzkrieg, Stacy yells, "And you can talk! This is too good to be true! I'll be here, Jafara!"

"Jafara? What kind of stupid name is that?"

Stacy turns around and sees an attractive, similarly young woman sitting near the other side of the rooftop. "And did he just wink at you, too? That bastard! Even the ones that aren't human are no good!"

Flabbergasted, Stacy shouts back, "Who the hell are you?"

"Don't worry about who I am! I'm pretty sure I know who you are: You must be my 'present.' That jerk has a lot of explaining to do when he gets back!"