Sorry this is late. But it means you get to have a Dragon Monday instead of a Dragon Friday this week!
The Dragon, The Wench, and Her Wardrobe
© 2012 Sheila McClune
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I jerked out of my doze. “What?”
“You fell asleep again.” The dragon craned his neck down to look more closely at me, his eyes glowing a deep red.
“Sorry. It’s been a long day. I’ve been up since six, and it’s now…” I squinted at Max’s cell phone, “just after two, and I’m tired.” I was also thirsty and needed to pee, but I wasn’t sure what I could do about either of those things. I moved to kneel at Max’s side again. “Max? Still with me?”
“Yeah.” He sounded more alert than I did.
I counted his pulse, felt his forehead. Still fast and clammy, in that order. “How do you feel?”
He took so long to answer that I wondered if he’d fallen asleep. He finally cleared his throat and said, “Scared.”
I stroked his hair back from his forehead. “I know. Me too. But hang in there. They’ll have checked the passenger lists by now, figured out that we’re missing. They’re going to send someone for us. They will. I know it.”
He snorted softly. “Would you?”
“Would I what?”
He thrust his chin in the direction of the train. “If it were your decision to make, would you send someone through that portal thing, just on the off chance that we’re here and need help?”
“It’s a Fae gate,” the dragon corrected him from over my shoulder.
I tried to ignore the awful feeling in the pit of my stomach, the one where it felt like I’d just swallowed something the size, shape, and consistency of a cinderblock. “Of course they will. Rescue personnel are trained to deal with unusual situations–”
“Not like this one, they’re not. There’s no way they could prepare for something like this, because we’ve never freaking had a situation like this before.” The edge of fear had crept back into his voice, making me shiver. “We have to face the fact that they might choose not to deal with it at all, that they might just decide to brick up the tunnel and forget this ever happened.”
My fingers turned to ice. “They would never do that!”
“Wouldn’t they? Then why aren’t they here already? This is the airport. How long do you suppose it takes for emergency and rescue crews to get here? Ten minutes, tops. If they were coming at all, they’d have come within the first half hour.”
“Maybe…maybe they just can’t get to us. Maybe other parts of the train tunnel collapsed, and they’re having to dig down to the portal–”
A rumble came from behind me. “Gate.”
I looked over my shoulder at the dragon. “Gate. Whatever.” I turned back to Max. “Give them a chance, okay?” But when I reached for his good hand, he yanked it away and turned his face as far away from me as he could.
“Fine.” I stood, stretched, and went back to my rock. Perching on the edge, I drew up my knees, wrapped my arms around them, and tried not to cry. Dammit.
Minutes passed. I heard the dragon shift, then felt his warm breath on the back of my neck again. I found it oddly comforting, like a caress.
Finally, Max spoke, his voice cold with fear. “Maddie? I-I can’t feel my fingers anymore.”
The cinderblock in my stomach rotated a hundred and eighty degrees. I let go of my knees and sat up straight. “Oh, God. How long?”
“I dunno. Half an hour. Maybe a little more.”
Pulling Max’s phone out of my pocket, I pressed a button to light it and moved to his side. Even in the dim, blue-tinted light, I could see that his fingertips weren’t the right color. “Why didn’t you say something?”
“I kept hoping….” He sighed, squeezing his eyes shut. “Never mind.”
“So what do we do?” I was afraid I already knew the answer.
He groped for my hand, and I gave it to him. “I think…oh God….”
He opened his eyes and looked up at me. “It might be too late already, but…I think you’re going to have to try to set my arm.”
Yep. That’s what I was afraid of.
* * *