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Lester D. Crawford
Completed 2016 Write-a-thon. See:
Excerpt from The Dragon Universe Book 5
The Dragon followed me into the clearing and said, “Let us fly.”
He growled again, but I ignored him and the frustration I felt through our bond as I put my Dragon Blade back into its scabbard, dropped my backpack, and removed my hat to wipe the sweat from my brow before putting the hat back on.
The Dragon blew out a series of quick breaths.
“Stop chuffing at me.”
He made one more puff and said, “I have had enough of walking through these plants. We are going to fly.”
With emphasis for having to repeat myself, I said, “For the last time —.”
The Dragon lunged and snapped me up in his jaws.
For a moment, I was lost in a swirl of confusion as my mind labored to understand what had happened. At the end of that delay, which felt like minutes, but was probably milliseconds, my pulse leaped into the triple digits, and I did something I did not often do: I screamed.
I heard pops and thuds but my only thought was getting out of the Dragon’s jaws. His teeth painfully stabbed my abdomen and back, and my left arm. His rough tongue grated my skin through my clothes. I could not reach my Dragon Blade because my left arm dangled outside and my right arm was lodged above my head toward the dark, pink passage of his funnel shaped gullet. I had thought nothing could make me fear the Dragon as I once had, but that sentiment had now changed.
“Put me down.” I beat on his tongue with my fist.
He took flight, the sudden acceleration jabbing his teeth deeper into me and causing me to cry out in pain. The view past the spikes of his teeth showed us ascending to above the trees.
“Put me down.”
Near the top of my list of bad places to be was being inside the jaws of a Dragon. All of his teeth angled back to keep food going in that direction. Even his tongue’s raspy ridges angled back. His lower jaw and the parallel rows of pharyngeal teeth in the roof of his mouth slid backward to force food down his throat. The upper jaw and tongue then held the food while the lower jaw and pharyngeal teeth moved forward to grip and pull again ratcheting the food down.
Everything about the Dragon’s jaws had evolved to keep food from escaping and to force it down his throat, and it was trying to do that now. His jaws shifted backward digging his teeth into my flesh causing me to cry out again. Slick, slimy, and dreadfully hot Dragon drool drenched me. The Dragon made slurping sounds by sucking on the drool. The tunnel of his throat was the perfect size for a person and it pulsed in peristalsis waves eager to do its job. When my hat came off and slipped father in, my pulse raced even faster pounding in my ears, vertigo swirled my head, and my stomach threatened to heave. I closed my eyes and tried to perform my calming routine to regain clear thought so I could deal with the situation, but I was in a state beyond terror and could not calm myself. Instead, I screamed again, the sound bubbling through the slobber running down my face.
My feeble struggles did little to help my situation as I watched between the Dragon’s teeth while the treetops flashed by. After what felt like forever, we descended through the trees and the gusts of wind coming through the partially opened jaws ceased. The jarring stop knocked the breath out of me in a pain-echoing grunt. I gagged and wiped my face trying to clear the hot saliva so I could gain another breath.
With his hands, the Dragon grabbed my hips and pushed me in deeper. His teeth dug in to keep the food from escaping. I screamed. He then opened his jaws wide, pushed me even deeper, making me scream yet again, but this time he succeeded in unhooking his teeth from my flesh. He pulled me out of his jaws and stood me in the grass next to a murmuring creek in a clearing different from where we had been.
I sank to my knees, and then fell over, coughing, sputtering, making little eep sounds, and my body clinched from the pain. After a moment of terror induced catatonia followed by intense shuddering, I pulled myself into a sitting position, grass, twigs, and leaf litter sticking to me, activated my vambrace shield, the panels extending and energizing, and pulled out my Dragon Blade. The viscous saliva spread down the blade. When I activated it, the blade glowed blue and hummed in my hand. The spittle sizzled and turned to dust that drifted away like smoke. I waved the blade at the Dragon.
The Dragon backpedaled a Dragon’s length, and hacked up my hat, which landed at my feet with a spit-soaked splat, and said, “Put away your pointy-stick.”
With the hand of my vambrace shield arm, I wiped at the slime on my face and said, “You tried to eat me.”
“I was protecting you.”
“In your jaws?” I shook the blade for emphasis.
“Taking you into my mouth was the quickest way to protect you.”
“Not mouth, jaws, you have jaws. Jaws are terrifying. For the rest of my life, I’m going to have nightmares about your jaws.”
Disgusting drool dripped down my body and I was bleeding from multiple, throbbing puncher wounds. The more I thought about what had happened, the more my arms and hands trembled as I held the shield and blade before me to fend off the Dragon. Losing my fear of him had taken a long time. Now that fear was back and all I could think about was what he might do next.
“I am sorry I damaged you,” he said while taking another step back and dropping into his meek pose that made him look smaller by crouching, tucking his feet under him, wrapping his tail tightly around him, folding his wings as tightly to his body as he could, and lowering his head. “Put away your pointy-stick.”
Terror thwarted my thoughts as I hesitated, confused and unfocused, not knowing what to do, trying to catch a decent breath through the slime dribbling down my face, trying to wipe the slime from my eyes, trying to will my pulse to slow. Then our bond brought me the Dragon’s emotions.
Fear. He was terrified of the Dragon Blade and in my anger what I might do with it.
Worry. He was concerned he might have irrevocably damaged our friendship, our partnership.
Remorse. He regretted having injured me.
Concern. He was anxious about my well-being.
Love. He cherished me with all his heart.
The last emotion erased my fear of him. I still felt frantic, and upset, and in pain, but my trust in him had been restored. I was the Dragon’s friend, his partner. And, I cherished him with all my heart.
I write science fiction/fantasy. My current project is The Dragon Universe, a multivolume adventure about a Hero and his Dragon.
Goal for Clarion West Write-a-thon 2016: Complete drafts of the next two chapters of The Dragon Universe Book 5.
Fundraising goals are for whatever I am fortunate enough to have donated in my name.