Okay. Now that I’m done with my epic-length editing project, maybe our dragon and his friends can go back to making regular appearances here. Worth a shot, anyway.
The Dragon, The Wench, and Her Wardrobe
© 2012 Sheila McClune
As soon as I touched his wrist, Max screamed. A lot.
I’d expected that.
He threw up again. I guess I’d sort of expected that. (At least he didn’t get any on me.)
And then he passed out, which I hadn’t expected. But it did make things easier.
While he was out cold, I tightened my grasp on his wrist, grabbed his elbow with my other hand, and pulled as hard as I could. The bones in his arm made a wet, grinding sound, one I could hear all too clearly now that he was no longer screaming. But at least his forearm was more-or-less straight again. Gingerly, I tried to trace the bones beneath his skin. I couldn’t really tell if I had them properly lined back up again. When he stirred and moaned at my probings, I decided it was close enough, at least for now. I grabbed the metal bars from my suitcase and slapped them up against his forearm, one on either side, tying them in place with my belt and scarf. Then, for good measure, I wrapped one of his t-shirts around it, tying it in place with most of a roll of dental floss. I figured the extra padding wouldn’t hurt, nor would keeping the arm warm.
“Is he better now?” asked the dragon.
“I don’t know.” Max’s forehead felt as clammy as ever. And if anything, his pulse was even faster and threadier. “I may have killed him.”
Within a few minutes, though, Max groaned and came to. “Oh, God. What happened?”
“You passed out. But I straightened your arm out, and splinted it. How does it feel?”
“Hurts like hell.” He shifted it a little, and I was afraid he was going to scream again.
“How about your fingers? Any better yet?” In the light of the cell phone, they still looked pretty bad.
He shook his head, lips clenched tight.
“Damn. I’m sorry.”
His mouth worked, but he didn’t say anything. Finally he whispered, “So thirsty.”
I’d been trying not to think about it. “Me too. But I don’t have anything to drink. Sorry.” Damn TSA anyway.
“There is water nearby.” The dragon thrust his head down next to me. “There is a pool two caverns over. The water is cool and sweet. I could take you there.”
I didn’t need to see the panic in Max’s eyes to know how he’d feel about that. “Umm, I don’t think we can move Max yet.”
“Then I could fetch you some. Have you a bucket?”
I snorted. “Yeah, right over here with my hacksaw and cordless drill. Dragon, you’ve seen my luggage. Where would I have kept a bucket?”
He poked at my suitcase with a claw. “You had metal sticks hidden in there. How can I tell what else there might be?”
I pulled the suitcase over to me and unzipped it. “Nope. No buckets. I’ve got a spare pair of shoes, but while my feet are big, they’re not that big.” I pulled out the plastic bag I’d tucked in for laundry and shook it open. “There’s this, I suppose.”
The dragon cocked his head at it. “Hummm. What is that stuff? Some kind of silk?”
“Plastic. It’s made from…umm…petroleum.” Which came from dead dinosaurs, but maybe he didn’t need to know that. Dinosaurs being kind of like dragons, after all.
“It looks flimsy.”
I remembered how easily the dragon’s claw had sliced open my hand. “Yes, it is. Maybe it’d be better if–”
A loud clang from the direction of the tunnel interrupted me. We all turned to stare at the train.
“What was–” Max started to say.
Then we heard more sounds: Thumpings. Bumpings. And a loud, male voice, shouting, “Move! Move! Move!”
I jumped to my feet just in time to see a stream of fatigue-clad figures pour out of the train’s open door, brandishing firearms.
I turned to the dragon, waving my arms. “Get out of here, now!”
“They’re armed. And they’ll hurt you. Go!” Not waiting to see whether he listened, I turned and started running toward the uniformed figures, my hands in the air. “Don’t shoot! Please!”
I hadn’t gone more than about six steps when the dragon’s paw swooped down out of nowhere and scooped me up. He whirled and began running away from the soldiers. Shots rang out, and shouts echoed in the cavern, but the dragon kept going.
For the first few moments, shock kept me from realizing that two of the dragon’s razor-sharp claws had gone right through the flesh of my thigh, and that another pierced my upper arm. But then the pain hit me, searing through me with each of the dragon’s jolting steps. I couldn’t even draw breath to scream.
I struggled to make some kind of noise, any kind, to let the dragon know of my agony. When that didn’t work, I tried pounding on his claws with my other hand. But my feeble attempts only made the torment worse as my body twisted against the claws that stabbed through me.
And then, just when I wondered how much more I could endure, the world went abruptly away.
* * *