November 7, 2028
Bridge knelt dumbfounded behind the fence for a long moment. Nothing moved. The crowd had frozen where they crouched, fell or stood, staring in awe at the impossible sight towering over them. The only sound was the torch flicker crackle of the dragon’s fiery body and the flaming car. “Well, are you just going to stand there holding your dick or are you going to say something?” the dragon finally said rudely.
Bridge inspected the creature from head to tail. It stood a good twenty feet, the bottom of its barrel chest an arm’s length above Bridge’s head. The flames that made up the dragon’s body were shaped intricately into various hues, making the beast appear frighteningly solid even though its form shifted chaotically in a constant rhythm. Unnoticed at first, it finally dawned on him that the wind, which was busily tossing snow around them in a lazy swirl, never seemed to affect the flames. They burned where they would in conspicuous indifference to the environment in which they existed. Stonewall nudged Bridge out of his staring stupor. He finally responded with painful uncertainty. “What is it you expect me to say?”
“Thank you would be a good start.”
“Umm, thank… you?” He walked warily towards the mythical beast, his hand reaching out to touch the thing, to feel the reality of impossibility, to ensure he wasn’t just fucked in the head. “What am I thanking you for?”
Noticing that Bridge was close to touching its leg, the dragon barked, “Don’t do that.” Bridge withdrew the hand as if he’d been slapped. “Driving off those soldiers so you can go on to where you’re supposed to for starters. We’ve been waiting.”
“Come with me and you’ll find out.” With a graceful shrug, it pulled its wings in towards its body then stretched them to full extension. Its wingspan was massive, spreading a shadow over the entire roadblock. Some of the crowd lost their nerve and bolted, while most could only stare glassy-eyed with whispered incredulity. The cars underneath its talons crunched and sighed as the beast propelled itself into the air with one swift motion.
“Wait, where are we going?”
The dragon had already flown a good twenty feet ahead. It banked back to hover in the air above Bridge. Though its face expressed little emotion, its voice dripped with pissy irritation. “To the dome, you nob. That’s what you came out here for, isn’t it? You weren’t just harassing the National Guard in the freezing ass cold for shits and giggles, were you? Do you want to go or not?”
“Of course I want to go,” Bridge replied with equal peevishness. He motioned to Stonewall and Aristotle. “Come on, guys, let’s move it.”
The dragon shook his head. “Uh uh. Just you, Cochise.”
“These are my bodyguards. You expect me to follow a flaming dragon without bodyguards?”
“I don’t expect anything. But if you want to go with this flaming dragon, you lose the man-muscle. Your safe passage is guaranteed. Scout’s honor.” The dragon raised its front talon and crossed its claws while placing its other arm over where a heart might beat within its massive chest. Bridge returned a puzzled look.
“Scout’s honor? What is this, summer camp? Who the fuck says Scout’s honor?” He muttered as he turned to his friends.
“What about us?” one of the crowd shouted at the creature. “Can we come?”
“No,” the dragon said. “And if you try to follow, I’ll nuke you where you stand.” His eyes burned in threatening red pulses.
Ignoring the crowd, Bridge pulled Stonewall and Aristotle into a close huddle. “Ok, guys, I’m going to go with him… it… whatever.” Aristotle started to protest. Bridge cut him off. “No, I’m going. I’m going to look for your grandmother and I’m going to try to find out what the fuck is going on. But I want you two to follow me. Get as far back as you can without losing me. Don’t even get within eye sight but you know where we’re going so either get there before me or after me, but make sure that fucking thing doesn’t see you, you feel me?” Stonewall nodded.
“You’re going to go alone… with a dragon?” Aristotle asked incredulous. “I can’t even believe I’m saying dragon. Have you taken complete leave of your senses?”
Bridge fixed him with a cold stare. “That ain’t no dragon. Ok, maybe it looks like a dragon and flies like a dragon and has flame breath, but something ain’t right. Where’s a dragon going to pick up a phrase like ‘scout’s honor,’ huh? That may impress the rubes but I ain’t no rube. Just come up behind us and don’t get seen, got it?” Aristotle agreed hesitantly.
“All right, Mister Dragon, let’s motorvate. You gonna carry me or do I have to hoof it?” The dragon turned and flew off. Bridge tossed a Sicilian salute at the creature’s back. “This dragon is a real dick.” Stonewall couldn’t help but chuckle. Bridge just shook his head and started walking in the path of the monster.
Go to Chapter 12.5
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
November 7, 2028