This is based on a lovely picture sent to me by Jet, courtesy of the ladies of the Phade. So, ladies, what do you think of the Dragon you inspired?
(Archives are on the website, if you want to read the offerings of past weeks)
(c) 2008 by Maura Anderson
Maolmuire, you are summoned.
Mal attempted to ignore the mental summons and drift back to his peaceful sleep. Surely another could answer the summons instead.
Maolmuire, you are needed and are sworn to answer the call. Arise and report to the Council chambers.
With a gusty sigh of resignation, Mal cracked his eyes open. His eyes gradually focused on the stone wall of his lair, dotted with quartz and pyrite. The glittering minerals sparkled in the low light, easily visible to his sensitive eyes.
With a groan, he forced himself off the low platform. So stiff. How long had he slept this time? Even in his dragonskin, the extended immobility had taken a toll. A heavy shove moved the huge stone sealing his lair’s entrance to one side. Bright sunlight assaulted his eyes and he could feel his pupils contract down to a slit in response.
He sniffed the fresh air that rushed in, cool and wet with the scent of the salty ocean nearby but also overlaid with a faint taint of chemicals. Pollution had even reached here. Damned humans.
With no smells that would indicate a threat nearby, he squeezed out the doorway and past the boulder. The rough abrasion of the rocks felt so good he couldn’t resist pausing for a moment to rub his shiny black scales on it. Too bad he couldn’t just take a quick dip in the ocean and then sun himself for a while. He would be a lot happier for it.
Report now, Maolmuire. This is no time to indulge yourself.
Mal snarled and gave a last good scratch to his right wing in defiance of the Council’s lackey. Let him dare try to stop him. Wrapped in the illusion of a cloudy sky, he launched himself into a long glide off the high ledge.
Caleb bailed from his bed, jolted awake by the motion of the bed. Was he being shelled? Who was firing on him? Where were they? He rolled to take cover at the base of the wall near the door, the pistol he’d grabbed even before fully awake cocked and ready.
He froze and gradually realized the only sounds he heard were his own thundering heartbeat and the distant sounds of the morning traffic. He wasn’t in Afghanistan anymore.
Caleb sat up, slowly, unable to stop himself from examining every corner of the small bedroom, assessing every shadow.
Once reassured that there was no threat in the bedroom, he stood and made his way to the bathroom. The adrenaline was wearing off and he needed a shower to clean off the soured sweat coating his body.
How the hell had it come to this? Was he even capable of becoming normal again? Well, according to some people he’d never be normal because being gay was already abnormal. He just couldn’t go on like this.
Setting the .45 on the back of the toilet, in easy reach, he stared at himself in the mirror. Scruffy and unshaven, his blonde hair way too long and the still-fresh scars on his face and chest shiny and bright red – he was a mess. Maybe he should just be done with it all. Not like he had shit to live for anyway – the Marines wouldn’t send him back to his team unless he was able to convince the psych he was okay.
Hell, he knew he wasn’t okay.
But he wasn’t a coward. He’d never been a coward. Caleb fought the temptation back. If he really had wanted to die, he could have left that job to the Taliban. According to the guard he’d later killed, they were all set to film his decapitation but he’d refused to beg or grovel. Refused them anything beyond his name, rank, service number and date of birth. It infuriated them and they redoubled their efforts to crack him.
Heart pounding again, a sudden wave of dizziness washed over him. Caleb grabbed the bathroom counter to steady himself but it didn’t help. Earthquake. Another in the weird spat of earthquakes that were shaking through Southern California since he got back.