THE DRAGONS WOOD
By: Dempsey C. Oliver
Tears of salt filled sweat filled my eyes as I tore through the web like snarls that made up the underbrush biting deeply into my jeans before tearing loose as sheer adrenaline pushed me forward. As I sprinted through the woods I dropped into a creek mucking up my flight (literally) and causing me to fall. Whilst I was wasting precious seconds trying to get up I heard a slight giggling and a soft almost purr, spurring me into motion again. As I stormed through the brush my feet were ripped from under me, as I slammed to the ground my backpack blowing open like a crushed blueberry. As I tried to untangle my feet from the thin but tape like vines that grabbed me, I looked back and saw my hunter or rather my huntress padding up silently behind me. She seemed to be laughing at my predicament, for it seemed that my doom was upon me. The Dragoness stepping close to me carefully sliced through the vines that held me with a single swipe of a claw that I knew was sharper than any edge I could put on a knife. As she grabbed my legs and brought me up to the end of her snout I thought back to how this day occurred...
As my alarm clock squawked at me I reluctantly dragged the covers off of me and slowly crawled out of bed. The alarm clock still squawking demanded to be attended to, so I shuffled across my room to flick the knob. After shutting the alarm off I looked at the time, it was 6:00 am and I needed to get ready for school. I pulled on my last surviving pair of blue jeans, a plain grey tee-shirt, socks, my black boots in need of a polish, my glasses and my black field/ranger cap. After going outside to load the wood boiler, watched by unseen eyes, I grabbed my school backpack and hiked down my driveway to catch the bus.
School dragged on at a snails pace. The best part of the day was study hall when I could read about one of my favorite subject; Dragons. I always wondered how a dragon would behave around a lone human. Would it attack? Would it start up a conversation? Would it just eat me? I didn't have a clue but it seemed that the possibilities were endless.
The bus ride home was extremely dull and the heat was oppressive but it gave me some time to think about life, the universe and everything but mostly dragons. As I stepped off the bus and started up the driveway I felt like I was being watched. Unbeknownst to me I was...
In the woods a Dragon watched silently purring in anticipation. She was told that the chubby ones were usually quite salty in this heat. She moved silently like a ghost gliding to a spot where she knew the boy would go later on.
As I got to my house I decided that after I got a drink I would go for a hike. Finishing my glass of water I grabbed my old green L.L. Bean backpack, filled a few bottles with water sealed them tightly and Packed them into the bottom of my pack. I grabbed an apple as I stepped out the door strapping my buck knife to my belt and slipping one into my boot. For some reason having a knife made me feel a bit safer when I went on my hikes. As I hit the trail I felt the odd sensation of being watched.
As I strutted down the path I heard a rustling in the bushes and decided to take a peak. As I drew the knife from my belt I noticed something, everything was silent. Now when the woods go silent there is usually a predator about. Now normally when I go for a hike the squirrels chatter away and the birds sing their melodies, even when I draw a knife to remove some problematic brush or break the husk of a dead tree out of the way. But now it was dead silent like something had taken the desire to sing from the birds and the ability to chatter from the squirrels it was weird. I took a step back and heard a soft purr and when I did I laughed at myself and as I sat on my heels I called for my petite black cat "Here Buddy, come here big girl" I chided snapping my fingers trying to get her attention.
Then I heard something that chilled me to the bones; laughing. No one else ever came out here except during hunting season, and in the middle of summer no one was hunting. (Oh how wrong I was!) I called out, "Who's there?"
"No one you know." Came calling back in an extremely feminine voice. With that I saw the bushes start to shake and a large midnight black scaled snout thrust itself at me, causing me to back up and my hand to fly to my belt.
As you continue to back up the rest of the snout came through and so did the rest of her head (I assumed it was a her due to her voice). The first thought that blared through my head was what can I do? I'm two-hundred-eighty-seven pounds play football and write poetry. With that wonderful thought I unclipped my knife held it by the sheath and bopped the Dragon right on the end of the snout and ran right down the path.
I figured the best plan was to get off the trail as it was probably extremely easy for her to follow me when I was following the same track I always followed. With that in mind I hopped into the bushes and even though I was going a lot slower I didn't see or hear that Dragon any more. But as I kept marching through the woods I thought to myself; Wow. Either I'm dreaming again or that was a Dragon! I had to stop and get a drink, I pulled my pack off and pulled out one of the bottles of water taking a big haul off it I pulled off my glasses poured some into my hands and splashed some into my face. Wiping my face I put my glasses back on tucked the bottle away and pulled my pack on and continued on.
When I had heard a pronounced 'snap' I looked behind me and bolted as I saw she was not thirty feet from me! Thus sending me to my final doomed flight.
She held me in front of her with her tail then suddenly dropped me to the ground. I hit the ground and looked up she was staring at me! "I.. I.. I'm sorry" I stammered trying not to sound as shocked and afraid as I was.
"I won't forgive you" She stated simply as my stomach dropped. "But that was different" She seemed to be complimenting me!?
"W.. W.. What?" I said shocked.
"That was different. Is what I said because others would have tried to stab me."
"But that wouldn't work. Would it?" I was extremely confused.
She snorted and claimed "No it wouldn't have. But how did you know that?"
"Studying dragons is a bit of a hobby of mine."
"Oh? Why? Dreaming of becoming a Dragon Slayer?" She inquired.
"Oh! No, no, no! I would never harm such a beautiful creature!" I was shocked to hear such an accusation thrown at me!
"Oh really, an admirer." She seemed to purr as she said this and then for no reason she seemed to growl at me!
"What? You seemed happy for a moment why the hostility?"
"That wasn't me growling... It was my stomach rumbling." (Uh oh.) She looked at me and licked her chops. "This was a wonderful chat but I think I might let you get to know me a bit more than you planned."
With that I twisted around from where I was sitting and half jumped half sprinted away. Well attempted to get away. She grabbed me in her paw as I twisted around and then giggled. "You didn't think I'd let you run off again did you?" She hummed.
" I happen to have enjoyed your company but I'm not sure I want to know you that well." I whimpered trying to pull away, without success.
"Oh? Why not? I've been told I'm quite a warm Dragon, and besides you told me I was beautiful." It was true she was beautiful. Even with the twisted ebony horns crowning her head, the needle like spikes following her spine and razors for teeth. She was beautiful in a powerful, natural way.
"I think you are beautiful, but Dragon Chow is NOT what I want to be." With that she leaned in close and licked my cheek.
"You know you have a wonderful flavor. I think you'll be lunch." She said with a mischievous grin. "Now remove those or I will." Letting go of me and gesturing to my clothes.
I sighed knowing there was no escaping and started to undress; boots (and knife) first, followed by my cap, then my shirt, my pants and finally my underclothes.
"There happy?" I pouted. She nodded and opened her mouth wide gently grabbing me by the head and shoulders she lifted me off the ground. The first thing I noticed (other than that I was about to die) was that she was being surprisingly gentle. The second was that she was licking me a lot, but I figured that was to make me easier to swallow.
All of a sudden she tipped her head up and let go, dropping me further into her mouth. My head being in the back of her mouth, I had an excellent view down her throat. Except that I couldn't see anything, because it was pitch black, but it seemed warm and slimy. With that she swallowed hard sucking me into my hips and shoving my head into her throat. At this point it was getting hard to breath. She swallowed again licking all the while. With her teeth pressing against my legs I decided it was a good time to struggle. She just seemed to hum like it was enjoyable to her. She started to swallow quickly trying to finish me off. Soon I was just a lump in her throat as she sucked my feet in and swallowed for the last time. I felt like I was surrounded by wet latex while getting shoved down into her awaiting stomach. I landed in her slimy, kiddie pool sized, stomach with a wet splash, and tried to move, but all of a sudden she seemed to shake all over and start coughing. I was dizzy due to a lack of oxygen and being thrown around in the dark didn't help me figure out what was happening. All at once her stomach seemed to reject me. It seemed she was trying to pop me like a pimple, but I was being shoved back into her throat! Her coughing got harsher as I was pushed further up her throat. When I entered her mouth everything seemed to happen at once. I was thrown out of her mouth along with (it seemed like) twenty gallons of liquids. When I lifted my head off the ground she seemed to be trying to rinse her mouth out in the creek that mucked up my flight. It was hard for me to breath at first, because I think when I was being ejected that I inhaled some liquids. When she looked back and saw that I was coughing trying to clear my lungs, (I'm guessing) she was to be amazed that I was still breathing. We stayed like that for a long while, me laying in a puddle of bile and her coughing and wheezing beside the creek.
"What did you do?" She questioned, suppressing a cough.
"What did I do? You ate me!" I responded hoarsely.
"So? Your smaller than me your food!" She wheezed.
"Well I didn't do anything!" I said finally getting my voice back to normal.
"So why did that happen?" She retorted (apparently I wasn't the only one with their voice back).
"Has that happened any other time you've eaten a human?" Now I was curious.
"Well...No, but you're the first human I ever tried." She almost seemed embarrassed.
"Oh that's wonderful, I was your first and I turned your stomach." I replied sarcastically.
"Hey! Thats not funny!" She sounded mad... Or she almost sounded hurt.
"I'm sorry but you did just eat me and currently I'm still breathing. Wait what if... Well maybe... What if you're allergic to eating humans?" She seemed to go quiet at hearing this maybe she was contemplating. "You do know thats just a guess."
"But it would explain why I was coughing and wheezing from eating you. Maybe you're right."
"If you'll excuse me I'm going to try and rinse off some of your bile." I tried to stand as I said this but I wasn't doing very well.
"Here, let me help you. I did spit you up." She reached over and plucked me off the ground with one of her forepaws. I thought she was feeling better, being able to pick me up so easily. She placed me ever so gently into the creek, but it felt like she was putting me into a block of ice it was so cold.
"Well thanks Captain Obvious, I never would have guessed that I was shivering. What gave it away? Was it because I am shaking uncontrolably? Or was it the icy water that I'm sitting in?"
"The water's warm, and why is your skin so, uh oh."
"What?" I looked at my arms and chest they were so red and raw it looked like I was just burned. "What the hell! I'm burning!" With panic rising in my voice she pulled me out of the water and started licking me furiously. After being coated in slimy saliva from in between my toes to behind my ears (and everywhere in between) did she finally relent in her assault.
"I think the acid from my stomach was starting to work. So I figured that I should probably lick it off, because being digested after being thrown up didn't seem to be the most pleasant way to die."
"So you have scared me half to death, eaten me, thrown me up, accused me of poisoning you, and now saved my life. So should I be grateful or afraid?"
"Lets go with a little bit of both. So now what do I do with you?"
"Whaddya mean?" I was a bit worried.
"Well I can't just let you go, can I?"
"Well I would hope so but I'm supposed to be home alone for school break which is about seven days. So I could stay with you and then you can decide whether or not to let me go, or whatever the alternative is."
"You seem to be very accepting of this, but I like your Idea. What is your name because I cannot just call you 'you' or 'human' for a full week."
"My name is Dempsey C. Oliver, and what is yours might I ask?"
"My name in the dragon tongue would be unpronounceable to you but you may call me Rose-Heart."
"That Is an interesting name, How did you get it?"
"I was given this name from when I was a hatchling. There was a scale that was over my heart that was broken and shaped like a rose."
"That is quite interesting." I shivered. "Brrr. It's cold out here."
"Come here and put these back on, then stay next to me." She nudged my discarded clothes and boots. "Besides you look funny without them on." She seemed to be laughing at me, I scowled.
"I'm not the one with the wonderful idea to have me strip naked in the woods." I grabbed the discarded bundle and got redressed.
"Well don't be a stranger. Come here. You know I'm warm." She was right she was extremely warm, inside and out. I walked over to her and sat against her side. Her scales, black as night, were as smooth as bottles and seemed to radiate heat. Rose-Heart curled into a ball much like a cat and looked at me her snout mere inches from my face before saying "Is that better?"
"Much." I replied, feeling warm and safe, it was like being home with a fire smoldering on a rainy day. I yawned and asked "Do you mind if I take a nap?"
"I thought you would never ask." I slowly drifted into a restful sleep content to sleep against with my new friend.