Free-Range Fiction: Dragons Dressing Down

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Ya missed me, right? I know you missed me. I missed doing this. Trying as part of 2013 to get back into the swing of posting some flash fiction at least once a week. Like Myke Cole told me on his AMA Reddit, you have to keep moving forward. This is part of my moving forward. 

This photo below was part of Chuck Wendig‘s near weekly flash fiction writing challenge. There were 31 to choose from. I chose number 17. She spoke to me. I feel like I’ve been her — whether it was in DC, Frankfurt, Paris, or Moscow. People stare. They want to know the truth. But…do they really?  Also if you’ve traveled the globe like I have — there are a lot of feral animals out and about. Those photos didn’t speak to me.  There were a couple of others I might use for future stories…but for now, our little goth trick or treater peaked my interest and let the words come pouring out. 

Here’s my Dragons Dressing Down. It comes in right at 999 words. I could have written more and I may take this idea and run with it down the road. We’ll see.  Do comment below and let me know what you think of the story. Should I write more?

P.S. I did not know there truly was a war on Halloween in Russia. When I was telling a friend about the story I was writing she said, “Oh yeah, I heard that they are trying to outlaw Halloween in Russia.” I had to look it up. Looks like people have fun with it. I’d go to their parties. Everything I wrote was before I knew about the recent developments in Russia. No, I’m not psychic — I just sometimes make stuff up that actually appears to be true near 7,000 miles away. 

Dragons Dressing Down

In Russia, Dragons dress like Halloween party goers and inspire fiction.

I hope I can find Hector. I have not seen him since last year. This year we will be in Moscow, much to my objection. There is a war on Halloween here. Imagine what the peasants would think if they knew this night hid dragons?

I truly would rather fly than take the subway. But, there are no dragon wings for me tonight, All Hallow’s Eve. The modern world gives me one night a week to walk among them. Unfortunately, I fear I may be losing even that. I stand here, a dragon now made human by the strong magic of this one night.

My beautiful horns look like horns still, but they shine of plastic to merge into the 2012 world. My magical white and black scales are smooth and juxtaposed against each other, white skin against black eyes and lips. This hair I get in this human form – I’m always fascinated by it. My true nature holds no hair. It’s long, black, and very shiny. I hold a basket decorated with skeletons and jack-o-lanterns, in case anyone thinks that my mostly black translucent, spotted with crystals wings are anything but a costume to ward off evil spirits and ghosts. Although, for near seven decades, this holiday means less about crossing between the two worlds and more about procuring all the sugary treats that the spoiled children of the west and now developed east can.

I hail originally from Mongolia. But, I make sure that I transform closer to the urban areas on this eve. The Keepers make sure we have large buildings to hide in – barns in the country, warehouses in the cities. What, do you think vampires are the only creature that has human allies? Vampires are babies compared to the dragons. In Moscow, on this night, I can hide amongst party goers. Not so much in the outer reaches of Mongolia.

I can smell the drug addict behind me. He’s not so different after more than one thousand years of living amongst mankind. There is always the drunkard, the opiate addict, those seemingly possessed of the head and hunched in corners or lying about the streets in a heap of disheveled discontent. I’m always used to the stares and whispers, even on this night. My costume is so elaborate – I hear the same thing every year: “How long did it take you to come up with that?”

One year, I had to meet Hector in a night club and the manager was upset when I wouldn’t enter their dress-up contest. I told him I had an unfair advantage – that I was part dragon and that just didn’t seem fair. He said, “Da, da, that is why you must enter.” Hector made us leave.

In the last decade there are fewer and fewer of us who meet. There is a new order, descended from the Orthodox Church Guard. They hunt us on Halloween. They have campaigned hard to get their followers to disallow their children to participate in Halloween festivities. They planted criminals and hooligans to make the streets unsafe. Our last bastion of safety is in the raves and nightclubs.

But Hector and I just want to be together. The two of us together with the last of our kind; there is but 13 of us left – unless pairs like Hector and I can bare offspring. All we wish is to spend our one day together without being seen or heard in our dragon forms. There is a strange peace to be among the humans with some anonymity.

The man besides me acts like he doesn’t want to look at me. But I can tell he’s looking at me. A book and headphones, how obvious do you have to be to give away that you are a voyeur, an interloper, and likely a dragon hunter? I distrust anyone unless they smell of a Keeper or are dragon. I find it funny that the woman to my left is telling her child to be fearful of me. The child has keeper blood running through her – only a halfling, but it’s still there. I turn and give the child a crystal from my wings. It will be a scale tomorrow. It will act as a homing device for the Keeper recruiters. The child should be brought up in the appropriate environment. Not by some ignorant human woman. Many of the Keepers were lost when the dragons were killed for sport so many centuries ago. But, the earth is in need of the dragons to be leaders again; but, we must up our numbers. The armor the Keepers create for us can do very little against some of man’s weapons any more.

I have to change trains. I can feel the book-carrying man following me. There are many people, thankfully. He won’t do anything here. I see more young people dressed up for the festivities. A few more stops and I will be at the night club.

My spine, now covered in taffeta and satin tingles. I can feel Hector close. I think I sense Raul and Sophie, too. Sophie lost her offspring ten years ago; I hope she is not sour and silent any longer. We dragons hold onto our delight and depression even longer than some humans. A decade of grieving, in my mind, is enough. Sophie, however, is a century older than I; she doesn’t find my opinion to be much.

The train stops. The man does not follow me, but I sense other trouble around. There is a woman walking in front of me, I keep up with her step.

The nightclub is not yet open, but there is a cafe next door. My human body wants sustenance. There, there is hector. I can see him through the glass; He, in all his horn-riddled and red and orange brilliance. He smiles. I smile back.

I open the door, the scent of coffee soothes the brain of my human form. Huzzah for All Hallow’s Eve.

 

 

tommia

I love this! The idea of dragons enjoying human form, even for a little while, is a fantastical idea you captured well. Curious as to how you would have/might continue this.

Kris

You could definitely run with this, and expand it into a novel. So many possibilities. I read the story, then went back to the (awesome) picture, which melted perfectly to the story. Well done!

Carl Bussler

I agree with tommia and Kris: You have some very interesting hooks on which to hang other stories, or even a longer story. My favorite? Passing the wing-crystal to the child with Keeper blood, knowing it will become a scale the next day and act as a beacon to other Keepers. That’s a strong hook. I could see all sorts of conflict arising from that. Perhaps the child is the protagonist. Well done!

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