Tag Archives: escape

Sapphire Eternity

FF155 Sandra Crook

Copyright Sandra Crook

The sea was calm and empty in the way a Twitter feed wasn’t.

Jake sat on the edge of the cliff, looking out into sapphire eternity.

He reached for his phone, realized he didn’t have it, realized that was the point.

What time was it?

The funeral was probably over.

They were probably furious with him.

How could he, of all people? they’d say.

He’d finally posted about her death, but couldn’t bear to change his relationship status.

He had to go back soon, he knew.

But for now he sat, letting it all drain out into that sapphire eternity.


Endy and the Office

Endy was a baby enderman. In that way, he was an enderboy, if such a thing existed. Endy didn’t know; he couldn’t even remember his parents, except that they were tall, shimmery, and had purple eyes. Just like him, minus the tall part. But Endy had teleported away from them one night and couldn’t find his way back. By morning, he had sought refuge in an office building and had gotten stuck in an office.

All Endermen can teleport, but for some reason Endy couldn’t teleport through things. He didn’t know if it was because he was young or if there was something wrong with him. This particular office had had the door open but usually it was shut and Endy was trapped. When the professor who worked there was in, the door was always shut and Endy did not dare move while it was open, in case he was spotted.

When he was alone, though, he could do what he wanted. He quickly made friends with the computer mouse.

Endy and the Office

“Let’s go for a ride!” Endy said. He teleported to Mouse’s back

“Okay, here we go!” Mouse said and reared up like a horse and slid over the mouse pad as far as its cord would allow.

“Go further! More! More!” Endy had said the first time. Mouse stopped and his scroll wheel blushed deep red.

“I can’t,” he said. “I’m not wireless. If I were, I could anywhere, but I’m stuck here. My dream is to leave and scroll across the world, double-clicking on everything I see.” Mouse was a little weird, but he was a good friend.

Endy tried to make friends with the keyboard too, but that was harder. The keyboard could not talk like Mouse but it could push its keys down and spell things out. Endy couldn’t spell well, but with the help of an elderly electronic dictionary that lived in the top drawer, he soon learned all the keys.

“Hey, this one says End!” he exclaimed. “That’s almost like my name.”

“What does the one above it say?” the dictionary asked.

“It says Home,” Endy said. “Does it work? When I push it, can I go home?”

“Only if you live at the beginning of a line,” the dictionary said, which did not make any sense to Endy.

Endy and the Office

The keyboard was a little gruff and would sometimes put down its Shift key and burst out with a series of *%$#@ expletives if Endy got too rowdy, but it was usually protective. Endy would play around the keys, especially near the End and Home keys, which he liked the best.

At night, Endy slept on top of one of the speakers. It played soft music for him to fall asleep or occasionally, if Endy was feeling homesick, parody songs about his people that it found on Youtube.

Endy and the Office

One day, the professor got up to go to class. He was late and in a hurry. Endy looked up and saw that the door was still partially open.

“The door’s open,” Endy told Mouse. “What should we do?”

There was a furious clacking from the keyboard. It was repeating pushing down it’s uppermost left key.

“What’s it saying?” Mouse asked.

“It’s saying ‘Escape,’” Endy said.

“Go on,” Mouse said. “You deserve it. Go find your family.”

“No, we’ll do it together,” Endy said. He jumped on Mouse’s back. “Come on, try! Try to break free.” Mouse strained and pulled and then there was a pop and his cord popped out the USB slot. They were free.

“Good bye, Keyboard! Good bye, Speakers,” Endy said. “If I can, I’ll come back and say hello again. Good luck.”

Ctrl-C, the keyboard typed. With that, Endy and Mouse rode out the door.


Salt Flats Terror – Friday Fictioneers

This is by far the longest Friday Fictioneers story I’ve ever written, although don’t worry: it’s still 100 words exactly. It’s experimental, as many of mine are. I think it’s pretty clear, but please ask if you don’t understand it.

copyright Dawn Landau

copyright Dawn Landau

Salt Flats Terror

Salt flat


Just One Step Ahead – Friday Fictioneers

Well, this week I’m on the road again, hiking by myself in rural Korea. I was planning to write this one on my phone, like last week, until I walked into my hotel and saw a computer. Nice serendipity.

copyright Bjorn Rudberg

copyright Bjorn Rudberg

Just One Step Ahead

Bankruptcy is for losers, even when you owe Visa $153,221.

“We just gotta stay one step ahead,” I told my wife. “I know this place in Sweden. The rent’s peanuts.”

“Run away?”

“Escape.” I grinned, all Prince Charming. “Just one step ahead.”

“If you take that step, you’ll do it without me.”

I called her bluff. And she . . . well, it was probably for the best. We only had enough money for one ticket anyway.

I survived, somehow, until the landlady came knocking. Peanuts are still more than nothing.

“Is a check okay?” Full-on Prince Charming.

Just stay one step ahead.

 


The Prison Key – A thought exercise

There was once a prisoner named Harry. He did not like prison (of course), but had gotten used to it. He stayed out of trouble and was mostly liked by both the prisoners and guards. One day, one of the guards retired and stopped by Harry’s cell.

prison cell

“I got a present for you,” he said. “You know that door at the far end of the cafeteria that’s always locked? It leads to E Block, which has been closed down for years. The far end of E Block is open to the outside. If you go through that door, you can escape.” He handed Harry a key.

“Why are you doing this?” Harry asked, taking the key in amazement.

The guard shrugged. “You’re a nice guy and I don’t care anymore. Just don’t tell anyone I gave it to you.” He told Harry how to evade the guards and leave without being noticed. Then the two shook hands and the guard left.

The next day, Harry thought about escaping. But, it was raining so he put it off until the next day. The next day as well he put it off. Finally, he hid the key in his room. Ten years later, he was released. On his last day, he handed the key to his roommate and told him the story.

“Are you crazy?” the man asked when he’d heard the story. “You could have left at any time in the last ten years and yet you stayed here? You suffered the bad food and the loneliness when you could have seen your family or eaten home cooked food? Why would you remain in captivity?”

Harry smiled. “But I wasn’t. From the moment the guard gave me the key, I had the ability to leave and so I was free. You’re only in imprisoned if you can’t leave, but I could have left at any time.”

keys

Do you agree with Harry? Is freedom being out of captivity or can it be simply having the option to leave captivity? Let me know what you think.


One Last Ride – Friday Fictioneers

copyright Indira Mukherjee

copyright Indira Mukherjee

One Last Ride

“Take your glaucoma medicine,” they said.

“Don’t overexert yourself,” they said.

I say, nuts to that! What golden future am I saving my strength for? I’m well over the hill and coasting fast towards the finish line, etched with a cold, hard epitaph. This is my car and I’ll take it for one last ride, damn it!

Only one good hip? Who cares! That’s one more than a cobra has and it’ll bite you in the ass if you don’t watch it. Don’t underestimate me just because I’m older than you.

Sirens. “Pull over!” they say.

Nuts to you, copper!

 


A Night of Loss and Grief – Fantastic Travelogue #14

Sometimes you have some amazing adventures you just have to tell everyone about. Read the rest of this account here.

Synopsis: I was hiking in the mountains of Korea when I got lost at night and came out in a strange valley. I couldn’t understand anyone, but I found out they knew Chinese characters. I met a young woman name Ain-Mai, and later, her brother Sing-ga. While I was there, a creepy woman appeared. Ain-Mai and her brother told me that the creepy woman was named Hengfel and came from another world. Hengfel eventually captured all three of us and brought us back to her world. They separated us, but Sing-ga and I got out and rescued Ain-Mai, although I got quite injured in the process. We took shelter in the air vents. Sing-ga went to find water, while Ain-Mai bandaged me and took care of me. Sing-ga finally came back, bleeding badly and very injured.

Night of Great Loss

I had never seen anyone die before, but I was there, kneeling next to Sing-ga when he died. I heard his breath catch, as if he were choking on something and then it just stopped. I kept waiting for him to breath again, but he didn’t. Ain-Mai, on his other side, was starting to become frantic. She was hyperventilating and shaking him, calling his name. Finally, I reached out and touched her arm and she wilted, her arms falling down to her sides.

In the faint light of the moon and stars that was coming in through the opening, I could see that Sing-ga’s arms and face were covered with circular bites. If he had been attacked, how had he gotten away? And could there be things that were still looking for him? I wanted to get away, but I wasn’t sure where to go and I was in no shape to travel.

A light, skittering sound came from up the tunnel. Ain-Mai didn’t seem to notice. She was smoothing back her brother’s hair and crying softly.

“We should go,” I said. She paid no attention.

Something the size of a dinner plate flew out of the darkness at me. All I saw were thin, clawed legs outstretched towards me before the thing wrapped itself around my arm and I felt the sharp pain of it biting into my flesh. I shouted in terror and ripped it off, hurling it savagely out through the grating and into open space. More came leaping at me and I fought them off desperately, pure adrenaline overcoming the pain of my injuries. From what I could tell, they were like huge spiders, with clawed legs and a sharp-toothed mouth in the middle of their body. Even now, I sometimes have nightmares about those horrors jumping out of the darkness at me.

Mouth spider

One got caught in Ain-Mai’s hair. She screamed, but it roused her to action and she fought back, lashing out at the monsters when they jumped at her.

“We have to go!” I shouted, not caring that she couldn’t understand me. I started to move in the only direction that was open to us, out the opening and onto the sheer outer side of the tower. I hesitated when it came to actually stepping out of the opening and onto the rough plates of the outer wall, and it was Ain-Mai who took the lead and held out her hand for me to come out.

I had just taken her hand when one of leaping spider-mouths latched onto my shoulder and bit in deeply. I writhed to get it off and felt myself slipping. Ain-Mai pulled me back to the wall and reached down to rip the vile creature off my shoulder. It gave a thin cry as it disappeared into the darkness far below us.

I did not wait to see if more were following us but gripped Ain-Mai’s hand and followed her along the ridges of the wall. They stuck out at an angle from the wall and were easy to hold onto, but they were also irregularly shaped. My right foot was bandaged and extremely sore, so I hopped along on my left.

The spider-mouths didn’t follow us out. I thought this was strange until I remembered poor Sing-ga’s body lying just inside the tunnel. I was sick with horror, but it came out as anger. I shuffled along, swearing under my breath, spitting out profanities with every hop. I’m not even sure who I was angry at: at the spider-mouths; at Hengfel for bringing us to that terrible place; at myself for getting Sing-ga and Ain-Mai caught with me and in doing so, causing his death. I was thankful for the calming effect of Ain-Mai’s hand in mine, which kept me from doing anything stupid.

We came to a hollow in the outer wall a minute later, which was fortunate because I could not have gone on much longer in my condition. It was probably a dragon nest at one point, but it was deserted and we collapsed into it. I put my back against the stone wall and tried to regain my strength and calm my mind. Ain-Mai slumped down by my side, sobbing. I put my arm around her and she drew closer.

Night of Great Loss

Ten minutes later, she had quieted and lay still against me. I had my eyes closed when I felt her stir. The next thing I felt were her lips on mine. She was kissing me in a quick, breathless way, not romantically, but as someone desperately needing comfort in the midst of despair.

For a moment, it was as if time stopped and the Choice stood in front of me. We were alone together in an alien world. Ain-Mai had just lost her brother and was overwhelmed with grief. She needed me. As for myself, I was lonely and tired and she felt so good next to me that in that moment, I wanted nothing more than to abandon myself to her kisses and caresses.

But then I thought of my wife–by herself and worlds away from me. I imagined her going about her daily life, wondering where I was, hoping I was safe, and I realized that she was the only one I really wanted. Still, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done to pull away from Ain-Mai’s embrace. “I,” I said, and then took her hand and drew out the character for “married” on her palm. I guess she understood my meaning one way or another; she nodded and then put her head back down on my shoulder. She started crying again, very softly, and I put my arm around her again. I didn’t know what else to do.

The next thing I remember was opening my eyes to see the sun breaking over the far horizon. Ain-Mai was sleeping with her head still on my shoulder. Then I noticed with a start that a large bird-like creature was perched on a wall plate next to the hollow. It had wings folded behind it and small arms in front, each with a large golden bracelet on it. We looked at each other for a moment until it put its hands over its eyes and bowed deeply to me.

(to be continued…)


Ain-Mai – Fantastic Travelogue #13

Sometimes you have some amazing adventures you just have to tell everyone about. Read the rest of this account here.

Synopsis: I was hiking in the mountains of Korea when I got lost at night and came out in a strange valley. I couldn’t understand anyone, but I found out they knew Chinese characters. I met a young woman name Ain-Mai, and later, her brother Sing-ga. While I was there, a creepy woman appeared. Ain-Mai and her brother told me that the creepy woman was named Hengfel and came from another world. Hengfel eventually captured all three of us and brought us back to her world. They separated us, and gave Sing-ga and I a drink to subdue it, but it had the opposite effect on me. We got out and I rescued Ain-Mai by fighting off dragons by punching and kicking them. We escaped into the air vents where the potion wore off, leaving me in terrible pain. Eventually we collapsed and slept.

13 Ain-Mai

I woke up, thinking that my wife was calling me, but instead I saw Ain-Mai bending over me, her long hair forming a curtain around my head. I tried to struggle up and almost screamed at the blinding pain that erupted from all over my body. I had never been in such total pain in all my life. I fell back, gasping and trying not to cry.

Ain-Mai took my hand and caressed it, murmuring soothing words like a mother over a child. It worked, at least enough to calm my mind. It was frustrating to have to lie there, when only hours before, I had been doing feats of superhuman strength and endurance. There is a price to pay for everything, it seems.

The light was greater than before and the tunnel was brightly lit. I noticed Sing-ga wasn’t there.

“Sing-ga?” I asked.

She pointed back down the tunnel and said slowly, “Govre hilisru swai Sing-ga.” I recognized the word swai as “water” from hearing them talk before and I nodded. He had gone to get water, I assumed.

We sat there in silence for a while. The floor near the open end of the tunnel was covered with a dusting of fine, brown powder and I pulled myself onto my side enough to write in it with my finger. “Do you have a mother?”

“I have a mother and father,” she wrote in Chinese characters. “I have two siblings, Hi-Run and Sing-ga.” She read each character as she wrote it so I knew the pronunciation of the names.

“Are you married?” I wrote after a moment. She shook her head and gave me a radiant smile that made my chest hurt a little, it was so beautiful.

“Do you have a mother and father?” she wrote after a moment. I told her about my mother and father and my sisters and as much about my life as I could back in Korea and when I was young. But I did not tell her I was married. It’s not that I was planning on cheating on my wife; the thought had not even entered my mind, but I remembered the smile she had given me and perhaps I thought she would act differently towards me if she knew I was married. I’m ashamed to say it now, but that’s what happened.

My throat was dry and screaming in pain for even the least amount of moisture. I had been holding out, hoping Sing-ga would be back at some point soon, but finally I mentioned it to Ain-Mai. She nodded and put a hand on my forehead for a moment, then stood up and said something. Then she was gone, down the tunnel, leaving me alone, in pain and dire thirst.

I must have dozed because the next thing I remember was warm, but blessedly refreshing water trickling into my mouth. I opened my eyes and saw Ain-Mai leaning over me. She had removed her outer shirt and had soaked it full of water. She squeezed it slowly into my mouth. Normally this idea would have seemed rather disgusting, but I gloried in the water and thanked her over and over again.

Next, she took off my boots and washed my right foot that had been scraped and torn by the dragon’s teeth. The right boot was barely there at all; pretty much all that was left was the upper part, still laced together, and a few scraps of leather. Ain-Mai torn thin strips from the bottom of her long skirt and wrapped them around my wounds. She had the gentle touch of a born nurse and I reveled in the comfort that her ministrations brought. She moved next to my hands, which were a brutal mess of dried blood and bruises. I couldn’t have made a fist with either hand if my life had depended on it. She washed them gently and wrapped them with more strips of cloth from her skirt. I stopped murmuring thank you and just closed my eyes and let her work. Later, I felt her washing my face, her delicate hands running gently over my skin. I remained still, hoping she didn’t notice my heart beating faster.

I woke up suddenly. The light outside was fading into black night and through the steel crossbars, I could see bright, blood-red stars hanging in the evening sky. I moved my hands and found them totally bandaged with strips of cloth. A deep scratch on my arm that I don’t even remember getting was also bandaged.

night window

There was movement beside me in the dark and I realized that Ain-Mai was lying curled up next to me, her back against my side. I looked around for Sing-ga but there was no sign of him. I forced myself into a sitting position, ignoring the protests of pain from my body. I heard Ain-Mai wake up suddenly as well.

“Sing-ga?” I asked her. “Sing-ga? Where?”

Ain-Mai jumped up with a start. “Sing-ga,” she said—the worry evident in her voice—and started down the tunnel. I sat up, trying not to groan, and listened. The world had gone quiet; even the wind seemed to be holding its breath.

The next sound I heard was a distant scream that stabbed at my heart like a needle. I tried to stand, but fell down with a fresh burst of agony. Still, I struggled down the tunnel until I reached the intersection. In the cold light that filtered down into the tunnel system from behind me, I saw Ain-Mai appear, trying to support Sing-ga, who staggered and fell with almost every step. He was covered in blood and my heart seemed to freeze when I saw how much blood he was leaving behind on the stone floor of the tunnel. I took his other side and the three of us struggled back up to the opening.

(to be continued…)


Like Rats in the Air Vents – Fantastic Travelogue #12

Sometimes you have some amazing adventures you just have to tell everyone about. Read the rest of this account here.

Synopsis: I was hiking in the mountains of Korea when I got lost at night and came out in a strange valley. I couldn’t understand anyone, but I found out they knew Chinese characters. I met a young woman name Ain-Mai, and later, her brother Sing-ga. While I was there, a creepy woman appeared. Ain-Mai and her brother told me that the creepy woman was named Hengfel and came from another world. Hengfel eventually captured all three of us and brought us back to her world. They took Ain-Mai away and put Sing-ga and I in a room with a bunch of other men who all looked drugged. It looked a bit like a harem. They gave us something to drink, which made Sing-ga very sleepy but had the opposite effect on me. We got out and found Ain-Mai in a cage, hundreds of feet above the floor, in a room with thousands of cages. I rescued her, fighting off dragons as I did. We got away, but they tore my right foot up a bit.

Rats in Air Vent

I have never been on drugs, so I don’t know what it’s like to come down from a high, but after my experience in that cavernous, dragon-infested fortress, I think I have some idea.

Ain-Mai, Sing-ga and I were moving as fast as we could down the corridor we had come from, away from the room with the cages. I was in the lead and was at first thinking of going straight back to the round transporter room—just powering through everything and risking everything to get back right away. Then the pain started. This was troubling, since I hadn’t felt any pain since they had forced that potion down my throat, even when I was punching dragons in the face.

It started as a dull ache in my foot and hands and just kept growing. I looked back and realized I was leaving bloody footprints from my right foot where the dragon had ripped off my boot. After that, it only took a few minutes for the pain to grow to the point where I could barely walk. Sing-ga was still lethargic from the potion they had given him, and Ain-Mai was shaken up from being in the cage and being attacked by dragons, so none of us were in great shape.

The pain was starting to overwhelm my senses. I felt Ain-Mai take me by the arm and lead me to the side, into darkness. We were walking through a small, fetid passage, barely big enough to stand up in. The floor was rough and bolts of pain shot up through my injured foot with every step. After a while, we were in total darkness and felt our way forward with our hands outstretched. The air was moist and warm and smelled like mold.

I don’t how long we went like that, but it was probably about an hour. Before long, I was crawling on hands and knees. We passed shafts cut in the walls with water pouring down through them and even drank a little. The water was hot and tasted metallic, but it quenched our thirst. Ain-Mai was leading us now. I don’t know where she thought she was going, but we followed her instinctively, going further and further into the dark labyrinth.

We seemed to be in a system of air vents. They criss-crossed at intervals and strong, warm wind blew in from some. We heard snatches of sound from cross-tunnels: rumbles and roars as of huge machinery, and screams and yells of monstrous beasts, or something worse. The sounds rose and then faded and died away, like the turning of a radio dial.

At last, when I thought I could go no further, we saw light ahead: warm, tan daylight. It was coming from a cross-tunnel and a strong, dry wind blew out of it. We pushed against the wind until we came to the end of the tunnel and looked outside.

Rats in Air Vent

The opening was barred with a cross of metal, but we still could have squeezed outside if we had wanted to. We were very high up—at least 5000 feet, I would guess, and I looked out over a wide, desolate landscape. Far below were the remains of towns and cities, dry riverbeds still crossed by bridges, and roads bordering dead fields. Everything I saw was brown and withered.

As I watched, a dragon floated into view far beneath me. I craned my neck to see where it was going and saw that we were in some sort of monstrous tower, with walls that fell away almost straight down. The outside surface was covered with plates that stuck up, just like the cage room. Here I could see dragons hanging off them and I realized that was what they were for. The dragons used them to hang on and rest, like birds perching on a branch.

Sing-ga was already lying down on the passage floor. I mimed sleep to Ain-Mai and she nodded. She lay down in front of Sing-ga and motioned for me to lie down in front of her. I lay down on the hard floor and felt her warmth behind me. Just before I drifted off to sleep, I felt her hand on my shoulder. With that simple act of human contact, I realized how much I had missed it. Ain-Mai’s hand on my shoulder filled my mind with peace and helped to soothe some of the throbbing pain that wracked my body. Still, when I finally fell asleep, I dreamed of my wife standing far away, across an abyss that I could not hope to cross.

(to be continued…)


Cage Jumping and Dragon Punching – Fantastic Travelogue #11

Sometimes you have some amazing adventures you just have to tell everyone about. Read the rest of this account here.

Synopsis: I was hiking in the mountains of Korea when I got lost at night and came out in a strange valley. I couldn’t understand anyone, but I found out they knew Chinese characters. I met a young woman name Ain-Mai, and later, her brother Sing-ga. While I was there, a creepy woman appeared. Ain-Mai and her brother told me that the creepy woman was named Hengfel and came from another world. Hengfel eventually captured all three of us and brought us back to her world. They took Ain-Mai away and put Sing-ga and I in a room with a bunch of other men who all looked drugged. It looked a bit like a harem. They gave us something to drink, which made Sing-ga very sleepy but had the opposite effect on me. We got out and found Ain-Mai in a cage, hundreds of feet above the floor, in a room with thousands of cages.

Cage Jumping Dragon Punching

I leaped, straight out over two hundred feet of empty space and landed on the top of the nearest cage. It was a crazy thing to do, but luckily my confidence in that accelerated state was equally matched by my ability. The cage started to swing as it reached its apex, I leapt again, bounding from cage to cage, towards the cage where Ain-Mai was trapped.

As I was jumping from cage to cage, I began to notice details about the room and cages. The ones I had landed on were empty and the bottoms were open on all of them, as if the bottom had split into four parts and fallen open. There was a wide lever on top of the cage that I could see was connected to the cage floor. The floor of the room far below was stained and splashed with red and tiny white bones were scattered wantonly around. It didn’t take long to put all these implications together.

This was the dragons’ feeding ground. People were kept in the cages until a dragon pushed the cage’s lever and the prey fell and died on the hard floor, far below. Then the dragon went down and ate them.

They’re like vending machines, I thought with horrified fascination. I am still glad that I never saw one in operation.

empty cage

I was getting closer to Ain-Mai’s cage. It had stopped descending about ten feet above my current level, just five cages away from her. I couldn’t tell if I had been spotted or not, but I couldn’t turn back now.

Ain-Mai saw me just before I leapt onto her cage. The look of hope and amazement on her face was clear. I jumped and landed on the side of the cage, my fingers clinging to the bars. I tugged at them, but even as strong as I felt, I couldn’t tear steel bars away.

“Hold on!” I said, miming for her to hold onto the bars with her hands and feet. When I saw that she had, I climbed up to the top and stomped on the iron lever. The floor of the cage collapsed and Ain-Mai gave a little scream.

I was still just working off adrenaline and drug-induced bravado, which was probably good, since otherwise I would never have had the nerve to do what I did next. I climbed down the side of the cage until I was hanging from the very bottom. Then I reached inside, through the pieces of the collapsed floor, and grabbed onto the bars on the inside. I swung down and started climbing up the inside of the cage, next to where Ain-Mai was clinging on for her life. She was crying and holding onto the bars with a death-grip. It took me a lot of coaxing to get her to take her hands off the bars and scramble onto my back. Then she was on and death-gripping me around the neck instead.

She was pretty light, thankfully, but going back was much slower. There was a very tricky moment at the bottom of the cage. I was hanging on by one hand on the inside and reached out to grab the outside of the cage. However, with Ain-Mai on my back, we couldn’t fit through the triangular pieces of the floor that were now hanging straight down. I yanked and jerked us back and forth, scraping her back and my front pretty badly against the metal floor plates. Finally, what I had to do was relax and let myself hang down as far as I could go, all our weight on four of my fingers. Then, finally, we slipped through and I could start to climb up the outside again.

I had been too busy to notice before, but we had definitely been spotted now. People were shouting above us and I could feel the cage start to rise. I leapt off, just making it to the side of the next cage. My hands didn’t hurt, but I could see that they were pretty badly scraped and both were bleeding.

Then as if that wasn’t enough, here came the dragons. I guess they didn’t like me running off with their food. The first few just flew nearby, but then one came straight it us and I kicked it in the snout. I couldn’t jump as far now with Ain-Mai on my back so I had to get the cages swinging and wait until they were close to each other to jump across. It was slow going.

They were a bit like this, except with no ridge on the back and their legs were shorter. Source.

They were a bit like this, except with no ridge on the back and their legs were shorter. Source.

On the fifth cage, two came at me at once. I punched the one under its jaw and tried to kick the other one, but it bit into my hiking boot and ripped most of it off, tearing into the sides of my foot with its teeth. This was how things went for another five minutes or so. I fought them off as best I could and slowly, cage by cage, moved back towards the wall. I was mostly worried about Ain-Mai, that one of the monsters would come up from behind and snatch her off my back. I kept whirling from side to side, keeping them all in sight.

I looked ahead to the wall and saw that Sing-ga was climbing up the plates on the wall. Idiot, I thought. There was no way he could do anything except get himself killed. He was moving painfully slowly. The dragons were still intent on me, but if they saw him, it would be like a drunk geriatric fighting a tiger.

I made a leap to the last cage, only to see a dragon rushing at me from below with jaws open wide. I manage to twist in the air to avoid getting my legs bitten off, but then I was falling. I reached out blindly and grabbed the dragon’s body as it went by.

There wasn’t anything else I could do, but this was danger of an insane level. The dragon responded by snapping its body violently like a whip, trying to shake us off. Ain-Mai was gripping my neck so hard it was cutting off my air. I reached around the dragon as far as I could reach and started squeezing it with all my strength. I heard a few bones crack and the dragon gave a roar. It slammed us against the nearest cage and then headed to the wall to scrape us off there.

It turned towards the wall, and there was Sing-ga, clinging to the wall and swaying like a drunk. The dragon seemed to forget about us for a second and went straight for Sing-ga, jaws open. Just as he got there, Sing-ga stuck out his hand and I saw for the first time that he had a piece of broken spear in his hand.

When had he picked that up? I marveled at the presence of mind he had to pick a weapon on our way out of the room. His hand was shaking as he held it but the dragon did not have time to turn away. The spear went straight into the dragon’s mouth and out through the back of its skull. I managed to leap from its back and grab the wall plates as it crashed down.

I learned something about dragons that day: they are cannibals. As soon as the dragon we had been clinging to plummeted to the floor below, the rest of the dragons sped straight down, fighting each other to get at the body first. Apparently dragon meat tastes delicious.

Ain-Mai slid off my back and onto the plates on the wall, but she was shaking so hard I had to keep an eye on her, as well as Sing-ga. Somehow we all got back down to the corridor. I was bleeding from my foot, my hands and several other places and the other two were exhausted and Sing-ga was still not doing well. My dizzying self-confidence was starting to dim a little, but there was nothing to do but go back down the corridor. So that’s what we did.

(to be continued…)

 


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