Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dragon Hunt

Around noon, Micah heard a very particular sound. It sounded like distant thunder, but he knew it wasn’t thunder. It was the flapping of gigantic wings, a sound that had bode ill news for a long time now. Micah immediately started hearing the sounds of panicked people outside family’s slum house. The sound of people screaming and running would only draw what was coming closer. A thunder of dragons was on the hunt, and Micah knew that their favorite prey was humans.

Fifteen year old Micah’s parents had been killed by dragons only the year before, leaving him and his ten year old sister Dylan. But Dylan was out of the hut, probably wandering around the slum with her friends. Micah immediately knew that he had to go out and find her. If something would happen to her, Micah would never be able to live with himself. But he could imagine the scene outside as everyone struggled to find some place to hide among the scattered ruins of the town and makeshift plywood and sheet metal huts.
Micah rushed over to the corner of the hut, where he opened a trap door that would lead to a tunnel made for times like this. There were several entrances within a hundred foot radius from this one, and Micah could already hear the sound of people coming in and trying to settle down their young children. Dylan knew to head into the tunnel should a thunder be detected.
At that moment there was a knock at Micah’s door. Micah rushed to it and opened it to see his frightened neighbors outside. Two other teens and a little girl around Dylan’s age rushed inside as Micah beckoned. Micah had known these kids since he was very young. The two teens were Adam and Mary, and the little girl was Dylan’s friend Rachel.
“Thanks, Micah,” said Adam gratefully.
“Where’s Dylan?” Rachel asked.
“She went out this morning with you,” Micah said. “I haven’t seen her yet. Do you know where she is?”
Rachel’s eyes were wide with terror as she shook her head. “We were playing in the ruins on the other side of the street when we heard the wings. We cut through the big one building but got separated, and I don’t know when.”
“Okay,” Micah said, trying to hide his own growing fear. “You guys go on down. I’m going to try to find Dylan. Maybe she went down another entrance.”
“Mary,” Adam said, “take Rachel down. I’m going to help Micah.” Mary nodded and picked Rachel up and carried her over to the tunnel as Micah and Adam rushed back outside.
The scene was calmer than before as less people were on the streets, but by this time the tunnel would be almost full, and there were many people now having to hide in what was left of the original buildings. The burned out husks of buildings were all that was left of years of previous dragon hunts. Micah wasn’t even sure of the town’s original name, but the remains of huge buildings were peppered with burn marks and giant holes as dragons repeatedly smashed through them to get to their prey.
The thunder sounds stopped and three very solid thumps shook the ground, signaling that the dragons had landed close by. There wasn’t much time left as the last few people silently ran toward the buildings in search of hiding places.
“C’mon,” Adam beckoned toward some of the larger ruins, “I know where the girls probably went.”
“Yeah,” Micah said, no longer able to hide his fear.
They ran down dead silent streets in the heat of the day. No sounds of humans or dragons could be heard. The silence was almost deafening, but fear kept his mind on finding his sister.
“Dylan!” he called out, but the only response he got was his own echo. But he kept calling her name, at the same time just praying that she had gone down an entrance and was with Mary and Rachel in the tunnel.
“DYLAN!!” he called out even louder, and this time he was replied with a loud roar. Micah and Adam froze in their tracks as the ground shook in a rhythmic thump…thump…thump. Micah and Adam looked at each other and bolted in opposite directions. Micah ran for what was left of what looked like a moving truck. It was burned to a crisp and there was nothing left of the tires, but there was just enough space for Micah to squeeze himself under and out of sight. His vantage point allowed him to also see down the street where the source of the roar rounded the corner.
The dragon was like a dinosaur. It walked on its hind legs and large three toed feet. Its scaly hide was brown and red, and the whole creature stood about twenty feet tall and from head to tail was probably close to thirty feet. Huge wings were folded tight against the dragon’s back and sides, but at full length, Micah would guess they were close to fifty feet at least, which is why a group of dragons is called a “thunder”. The forelimbs were very muscular, and the hands actually had five fingers, each digit ending in a deadly curved claw. The dragon’s head was about six feet long alone, and the ancient looking shape of it incorporated features of lizards and birds. Teeth as long as Micah’s hand appeared from the top jaw like an alligator, but the whole jaw structure ended in something resembling a beak. Its eyes were slits like a cat’s eye, and as large as Micah’s palm.
The dragon walked down the street toward Micah and Adam’s respective hiding places with its head toward the ground, sweeping side to side as it searched for a scent occasionally spewing fire into the buildings it passed by. Micah’s burned out truck smelled of rusted metal, which he hoped would be enough to mask him. Micah also made sure to keep as still as possible, for he knew that dragons also came with amazing hearing.
The dragon finally got to Micah’s hiding place, and luckily the truck was too low for the dragon to peer under it. Even still, the dragon spent an uncomfortable long time in inspecting the truck. Micah could do nothing but pray that his hiding spot would be enough to protect him. He buried his head in his arms and squeezed his eyes shut as the dragon continued its investigation of the truck. Micah shook uncontrollably after daring to open his eye enough to see the dragon’s giant nose poke as far as it could to smell. It was close enough that Micah didn’t even need to fully outstretch his arm to touch it. He could see individual scales and the muscles in its nose flex as it sniffed for a scent. Micah thought he was a goner until the dragon pulled out, snorted a puff of flames from its nostrils and moved to investigate the other side of the street.
Micah had to stifle his sigh of relief, for the dragon was still close enough to detect him if he made the wrong move. Even still, he dared enough to shift around to where he could see what the dragon was doing. It seemed to be moving on, not finding anything on this street. Micah crawled out of his hiding spot as the dragon turned a corner and was out of sight.
Micah and Adam quietly made their way to the building Rachel had indicated. It was a five story building at one point, but most of the inside was completely collapsed. The floor was absolutely covered in rubble, but somehow what few pillars that remained held what was left of the building up. All the way through the other side of the building Micah could see two more dragons rooting around, both bigger than the one they just dodged. Both of these looked at least twenty-five feet tall, and while one had the same coloration as the smaller, the other was covered in pure black scales.
Micah and Adam kept very careful to remain out of the dragons’ sight as they searched. Micah dared not call out to Dylan, but their parents had always taught her to stay still and quiet when dragons are around, so she wouldn’t have answered anyway. Micah kept low, sometimes crawling on his belly, and avoided every loose piece of rubble that would give away his position. Praying was all he could really do. It was bright outside, so enough light came in that all it would take for one of the dragons to spot him would be to just look in his general direction.
Micah was still crawling around the front wall of the building when he started to hear a quiet whimpering. “Dylan,” he whispered as quietly as possible. At once the whimpering stopped, and Micah heard his sister’s voice call out, “I’m over here.” She poked her head out from behind a large pile of rubble. Micah could see the terror in her eyes, and looked around to make sure the dragons were not watching before he stood up and rushed over to her. He immediately snatched her up in a tight hug, whispering in her ear, “Are you alright?”
She hugged his neck and whispered back, “I think I twisted my foot. It hurts a lot. I’m sorry I scared you.”
Micah thanked God, Jesus and all the angels he could thank of that she was just alive. “You don’t worry about me; it’s my job to worry about the both of us. You did good,” he reassured her. Without letting her go, Micah inspected her little hiding spot. Surrounded on three sides by piles of rubble, it was pretty good, but it probably would’ve never worked for someone larger than Micah or Adam. Dylan was super lucky this time.
Now the issue was getting out. Micah peeked out to make sure he could still see both dragons, but by now the third had rejoined the two larger ones. Also, Micah could not see Adam anywhere, but he had to get Dylan out. She obviously couldn’t walk well, and it wasn’t like Micah could just stroll out with his sister with three dragons sniffing around for food.
Micah’s thought process was momentarily interrupted as a commotion erupted outside. Micah ducked him and his sister back into their hiding place as the telltale sounds of the dragons unearthing some people echoed through the ruined building. Screams of people were drowned out as the three huge monsters converged on them. Micah and Dylan buried their faces in each other, and Micah held his sister all the more tighter as he imagined the scene outside. Those poor people were gone in mere seconds, just showing how little of a chance they stood once found by these terrible beasts.
It was hard, but Micah had to tell himself that he would get them both out of this, and prayed that the dragons had found enough to eat and were almost ready to move on.
When it was quiet, Micah peeked out again. The two brown and red dragons were walking away. Micah only had a second to wonder about the black dragon before it burst through a wall not ten yards from where he stood. Micah ducked, Dylan screamed, and the dragon roared as it stormed through the building, spewing fire all over the mess of rubble. It must’ve not heard Dylan, because it immediately started rooting around the piles of rubble. The dragon was almost too large to fit in the tight remains, but sections of the second floor were gone, allowing it enough room to navigate a few more yards into the building. Its back was to them, and Micah began to think that he could sneak them out though the hole the dragon just made. It was risky for sure, but it was his only chance while the dragon didn’t know they were there.
Micah had to move. He stood up as slowly as he could, carrying Dylan and keeping his eyes on the dragon. He slowly backed around their hiding spot toward the gaping hole in the building, carefully stepping over every little piece of rubble.
He was practically at the hole when the dragon all of a sudden stopped moving and sniffed the air. Micah’s knees almost buckled but he remained standing. Too scared to move, he just stood there watching the dragon as it tried to pick up a scent. Micah dared one more step, but kicked a piece of rubble, causing it softly clatter against the concrete floor a few inches.
The dragon stopped and cocked its head to the side. Micah just shut his eyes and waited to be eaten as he heard the dragon start to turn around.
“HEY, OVER HERE!!!!” came a voice. Micah opened his eyes again to see Adam yelling, waving his arms and throwing pieces of concrete at the dragon, trying to get its attention from the other side of it. To Micah’s horror, it was working; the dragon must’ve forgotten about him and turned its attention to Adam. The dragon lowered its body and head as it prepared to charge Adam, ignoring the rocks that actually found their target.
“Micah, get out!!” he yelled. “Get Dylan out! I’ll buy you as much time as I can!”
At that moment, Adam ran, causing the dragon to follow him. Micah, with Dylan in his arms, ran the opposite direction outside and just kept running. When he deemed that they were safe, he turned around to face the building they just escaped from.
He could hear the dragon smash through the rest of the building, and watched as it grew more and more unstable until it finally collapsed. The two brown dragons flew off spooked by the building almost falling on them, but Micah couldn’t see the black dragon escape from the cloud of dust. Micah covered Dylan from the dust cloud as it rolled over them.
After a few seconds, everything was quiet. Micah turned around to see the old building now just a huge pile of rubble. Setting Dylan down, he said, “Stay here. I’ll be right back, I promise.” She nodded and he rushed off to inspect the scene.
“Adam!” he called out as he climbed what was left of the building. When he got to the top, he found the body of the black dragon half buried and dead still. Its wings were half spread but crushed and torn by the falling debris. Sitting on its gapping head was Adam, battered, bruised and gasping for air, but alive.
He looked up at Micah, and a smile spread across his face. “Well, that was easy,” he jokingly said.

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