For a change of pace I offer a little tale for your reading pleasure.
An Encounter With a Dragon
It was a bright, hot summer day for a hike in the foothills of the Cascades. My friend Brandy and I had been hiking for some time and decided to seek shelter from the heat. We discovered a wonderful cave hidden amid a grove of pines and happily put our packs down.
In time we grew curious about the opening and with flashlights in hand, entered the mouth. To our surprise it was quite deep. The cool dampness was a relief but it went on -seemingly endlessly. I stopped in hesitation but my curiosity and Brandy's insistence got the better of me and we pushed on.
Never listen to your friends.
The passage widened and soon we were in a huge cavern. Instead of being cooler it got warmer with a tinge of sulfur in the air. We rounded a corner and stopped in our tracks, dumbfounded by the sight.
Ahead was a very large pile of -stuff. Shiny things of every imaginable size and shape. Coins, vases, hubcaps, several car bumpers, silverware, canteens, goblets, all in an absolute mess of silver, gold, brass and chrome. On top of this large mass was a large dragon sound asleep.
He was at least fifty feet long from head to tail with iridescent scales of green and black; most very sharp and jagged. His wings were folded back against his back as he snored, letting out a prolonged rumble with each breath. The legs were neatly tucked under his voluminous girth like a cat- a huge scaly well armored cat.
“Wow, look at all this cool stuff. “ Brandy practically shouted and I frantically gestured for her to lower her voice. I told her that dragons were very protective of their horde and they don’t like to be disturbed.
“Like you’ve had experience with dragons before?” she narrowed her eyes at me suspiciously. I motioned that we should leave quietly and we started back. Just then a large chrome trophy was knocked loose from the horde and woke the dragon. His tail slid in front of our escape route. He spotted us as we stood stock still.
“ What are you doing here?” he growled, his voice rumbling thru us.
“Uh ...nothing. “ I offered timidly. He shifted his tail closer to us, emitting a steaming hiss as he did. Sweat rolled down my back.
“ Trying to steal some of my horde?” he directed one golden eye at us. The vertical pupil widening slightly in the dim light.
“ The what- oh this, we didn’t even notice.” I turned to my friend who nodded vigorously in the same dumb attitude. The end of the tail twitched as he scrutinized us carefully. It wasn’t too close but it was a deadly looking appendage.
“ How could you have not noticed such beauty?” was that a condescending sneer on his face?
“ With that big fat butt of-” Brandy started but I jabbed her in the ribs with my elbow . One simply doesn’t joke with a dragon.
“ How could we possibly notice or care about this glitter compared to your sheer magnificence?” he hummed in pleasure. Brandy raised an eyebrow at my hyperbole.
“ You know I don’t think I have ever seen such stunning scales before. The way they shimmer is breathtaking.” I went on. The stench he produced was far more breathtaking. A combination of sulfur and rotting cabbage or being downwind of a pulp mill on a particularly humid day.
“ Yes they are beautiful.” he purred and stretched out some more, causing the metal under him to clatter loudly. Brandy gestured to me, noticing that his tail had moved a little from the doorway and we took a few steps in that direction.
“But you have not satisfied my question. Why are you here?” he eyed us again, suspicious as ever.
“We got lost. “ Brandy answered honestly. I was about to silence her when I had a sudden inspiration.
“ Yes, and I fear we will never find our way out of this labyrinth and it’s such a gorgeous day outside.” I sighed dramatically hoping the dragon would take the bait. The dragon pondered the information as his tail whipped around like a scarf in the breeze. I had the feeling of being uncomfortably close to the spinning blades of a turbine, waiting to be julienned at any moment.
“ Oh come on Alisa, of course being outside on this sunny day is better than staying in this stinky place, “ Brandy added in the same obsequious tone. The dragon shot her a disapproving glare at her critique.
“I would enjoy the summer air after my pleasant -though interrupted -nap.” he glanced back at his horde contemplating a decision.
“Thank you so much.” I offered as he turned and in one lightening fast movement headed down the passageway. We followed a safe distance behind the the sharp tail, barely visible
as the beam of our flashlights reflected off his scaly form.
Following behind I hope he didn’t poop right now and cringed at the image of having to step over dragon dung. We finally emerged from the cave, squinting at the sharp light. I took a deep breath and realized just how suffocating the air inside had been. The dragon lumbered out toward the pines, his wings brushing the lower branches as he fluttered them. He turned to face us as we retrieved our backpacks.
“ What a lovely day, now isn’t this better than sleeping? Aren’t you glad you came out?” I asked gaily.
“ Hmm it is acceptable weather although I prefer fog so that I may fly over the mountains unseen and rain helps to clean any dirt and such from my scales.” he complained with a yawn. The dragon sat down, crossing his front claws as he stared down at us.
“ Now what will you give me in payment for letting you go?” he demanded imperiously. We looked back at him in shock.
“ Pay? You want us to pay you for getting us out of your-- “ Brandy started, aghast, but I cut her off.
“ -Of course we should repay you for your kindness. “ I said calmly enough but inwardly panicking. What could we possibly give a dragon? I hoped he didn’t eat people. I was a little on the fatty side but Brandy was good eating I decided as I looked at her athletic figure.
Shiny things of course! I thought in a flash and got an idea. I reached into my pack and pulled out a space blanket. It was just a sheet of metallic fabric but it shimmered like reflections off water. The dragon rose to his full height with his eyes wide open.
“ Oh a pretty.” reaching out he snatched it from my hand so quickly I didn’t have time to react. He held it in his sharp claws playing with it gleefully. Brandy took me by the arm.
“ Let’s get out of here before he wonders if we have any more shiny things. “ she said urgently. I nodded assent and grabbing my pack raced down the trail behind her. I could not resist one more look and glancing back, saw the dragon still enthralled with his new toy.