Stop Dragon my Heart Around

by Beth Lock

 

Camping! There is nothing in the world that I dislike more than camping. I love nature and the outdoors, I just don't like sleeping in it. "What is it that is so disagreeable about a nice soft bed in a comfortable motel room?" I grumbled to myself.

I was following my current lover, Thomas, down a steep hill into a canyon. This trip was his idea. We'd get away from the lights and brights of the city, and spend time alone for a couple of days. When I suggested we just hike around and explore during the day, then go find a nice cozy motel, with a nice cozy bed, and nice restaurant food, he disagreed. "Look," he said, "you can really get to know a person when you are with them out away from civilization . I want to know all sides of you. If you don't like camping, OK. Maybe you just never had the right camping partner. At least give it one more chance." Now how could I disagree with that? Of course, that was back in the city, before I had this 30 pound pack stuck to my back, blistered feet, and a sunburned nose. And I was not being a good sport about it. "And then, once we get down there, I'll have to build a fire, and cook dinner, and scrub the pots with sand. Oh,yeah, this camping is great fun." Grumble and moan was the attitude of this day, for sure.

Once at the bottom, with the packs off and fire built and a nice pot of stew going over the fire, I began to feel a bit better. It was kind of pretty out here, and the canyon walls acted like a telescope, seeming to bring the stars and night sky closer. Thomas seemed to know what he was doing, camping wise, and found a nice comfortable spot for the sleeping bags.

The day had been long, and after we ate, I dozed by the campfire. I was in that half-dream, half-awake state; when I was a kid I called it "coasting." My coasting state ramblings were unusual for me. I'm a pretty modern girl, but these dreamlets had me in a medieval castle, locked in a tower. I jolted awake, suddenly knowing that something was wrong. I looked around and found myself alone. Now it's one thing to be talked into the dreaded activity camping by someone, another thing entirely to be alone in the desert. "Thomas," I called. No answer. Now I was panicked. I yelled again. Nothing. I began to wonder if this was really wise. After all, we had only known each other for a couple of months. What did I really know about this guy? Was this some kind of weird trick he was playing on me? What if he was an axe murderer?

I spent a very uncomfortable night, huddled by the fire. My mind was racing a million miles a minute, and every small sound terrified me. I deeply regretted getting myself into this situation, with a man I had known for such little time. Physically, Thomas was unlike any man I had ever dated. Tall in stature, he had a long slender face with a slightly pointed chin, dark, dark eyes and hair, and a beautiful patrician nose. His mood at times could be aloof, and he rarely smiled. I would catch him in contemplation, and he seemed to have a longing about him, as if he were not of this world. As dawn approached, I fell into a deep, troubled sleep.

I awoke slowly, and rubbed the dark haze from my eyes. The desert air was cold today. It should have been daylight, but instead a black shadow hung in the air. Looking up, I saw that the sky was almost completely blacked out, crawling with thousands of swirling shapes. As I focused and my vision cleared, I could make out the unmistakable silhouettes, and my heart stopped... Dragons! In all my life I had seen only one, and that was a quick glimpse while exploring the cliffs as a child. I also remembered old legends and descriptions of the dragon, a fierce powerful creature who could appear suddenly in our reality, and with a single thought, bring death, life, order, or chaos. Dragons were rarely seen by people unless one of these events was about to take place. As I thought about this phenomenon, and now multiplied it by thousands, a hideously helpless feeling began to come over me. The dragons had now aligned, and were gliding together in a large circle overhead. Half in fear and half in awe I watched, as inside the circle, a huge dark rip began to open in the middle of the sky.

I couldn't tear my gaze from the sight above me. The dark mass of shapes continued to circle, opening wider and wider. Despite my terror, I knew that I should be seeing the blue of the sky. Instead, I was seeing a deeper darkness, that slowly evolved into a giant shape. As that shape began to take form, I could see that it must be the leader of the dragons. Larger than the others, it swooped through, and the other dragons lined up behind in formation.

The shapes began drawing nearer. My vision was clearing to the point where I began to recognize something familiar about the lead dragon. His face, his eyes...Thomas! I fainted dead away.

Once again I awoke. I was in semi-darkness...a cave...a dungeon...? No, it was a round, stone room with slits for windows. I ran to the window to look out, and found myself looking 30' down to the ground. I was in the tower of a castle! Just like my coasting dream of the night before. This was starting to get really weird. Was I living my dreams? Was that really Thomas who was leading the dragons? I was too perplexed to cry. Then I heard the creaking of a door. I spun around, and in walked Thomas.

"My dear, I owe you an explanation", he said. "Many years ago, the dragons had a terrible misfortune. All the female dragons got weary of our rude and uncaring ways. Life! death! order! chaos! they were tired of it all. So they took the most gentle of the males, and went to live on the island of Lesbos, in the Mediterranean. Since that time, they have not allowed the rest of us to associate with them. In order to preserve our species, we had to learn to shape shift, and live part of our lives as human beings. We also learned how to preserve our genetic base by mating with human females. Unfortunately, we can only produce male dragons, but at least the species goes on! We live, with Life! death! order! chaos! Bwahahahah." He grinned evilly at me. "And once a year," he continued, "we all bring dates to the desert, to 'camp'. It is our annual mating ritual. And you, my dear, have been chosen to produce the next prince."

Camping! There is nothing in the world that I dislike more than camping.