Short As Fictober #12: “Early Dragons, Part 2: Ash”

Feeling tired again, so it looks as though I won’t be able to put a cap on this dragon story tonight. Hopefully, I’ll be able to conclude this tale with tomorrow’s prompt of “Overgrown” (perhaps our protagonist will have to contend with what happens when the dragon you’ve kept as a companion grows too big to keep in the house. I know this month is supposed to be 31 different short stories, but I’m going to break the rules, because I’m still getting words on the page every day.

(Continued from Short As Fictober #11, “Early Dragons”) 

I was playing in the backyard–something both grandparents had warned me against many times  on account of the big dragons being heavy in the area–when a flopping green mess came scrambling over our property’s cement barrier, and landed in the oleander bushes. Squawks and croaks emitted from the bush, chased by plumes of fire and smoke. I wanted no part of this dragon. I might have been bold enough to defy my grandparents’ orders against going outside, but I wasn’t stupid enough to get close to a dragon, no matter how small. My hand was on the backdoor when a murder of crows landed on the barrier above the oleanders. A couple of them were missing huge chunks of feathers, and one even had an entire leg gone. The crows kicked up a racket of their own, cawing back at the dragon’s croaks. They looked agitated, kept leaning forward, like they wanted to dive into those oleanders and rip the little fire-breather apart. But those flame spouts kept them back. 

I stepped away from the back door and crossed the dirt and gravel yard, then pulled up one of our lawn chairs. I wasn’t sure who to root for. I hated dragons for what they did to my parents, but I wasn’t especially fond of crows either. Besides, it was the whale-sized dragons who killed my folks. The creature in the oleanders couldn’t have been bigger than Mrs. Garcia’s over-indulged cat.

The fire and smoke quit–maybe the dragon was catching its breath–and the crows took their shot. Three dove into the bushes, while their friends waited above and cackled at the sky. The dragon’s screeching croak revved up again, followed by the caws of its assailant. An explosion of feathers flew out of the bushes with a crow chasing them. Then the dragon was out of the oleanders and on the ground wiggling his way toward me. I got out of the lawn chair and began retreating toward the house. I didn’t know what the dragon had planned, but I knew that it was scared and angry, and willing to do whatever it could to survive.

Two crows pushed from the bushes and their cement wall hype men joined them. Once assembled, the murder closed in on the fugitive lizard. 

I’m not sure what compelled me to do what I did next, but before I could even consider whether or not it was a good idea, I’d picked up and folded the lawn chair and swung on the advancing birds. I caught one on the wing and the rest scattered to the yard’s edge, yelling at me all the way. They were plenty pissed, but not enough to rush me. I crouched down next to the tiny, green dragon, ready to jump if it tried to attack. It pressed its body into the dirt and gravel. Its chest heaved in and out, and I saw an orange and yellow glow pulsing through the skin at its belly. Up close, I got the chance to see how small it was. Just a baby. It couldn’t have been more than a week old. I lowered the lawn chair, and the dragon heaved itself into the center. Carefully, I picked up the chair and walked toward the house. In my periphery, I spotted the crows gathering and advancing, so I put a move on it, and got myself and the dragon inside just as the birds swooped.

Once inside, I looked around at all the furniture and curtains, and realized bringing something that breathes fire into the house might not have been the smartest move. I double-timed it downstairs to the laundry room and set the lawn chair and its dragon passenger on top of the washing machine. I wasn’t sure if dragons really got thirsty, but to be safe I found an empty utility bucket and filled it with water. I set it on the ground and stepped back.

The dragon lifted its head and sniffed at the air. It gave a little croak then hopped from its perch to the edge of the bucket and began to drink. When it had its fill, the dragon–who I was thinking of calling Ash–found a laundry basket full of clean towels, curled up inside, and went to sleep. I wasn’t sure how long the dragon was going to stay, but just in case it liked it here, I started scheming ways to keep it hidden from my grandparents.

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