This is a short story I’m working on in pieces. Figured I might as well post it here. It’s rough, I apologize in advance.
Everything below is Copyright 2007 Aaron Evans
A young man stood pacing on his porch. He and his wife had fought over something he didn’t quite understand. Fighting with her was a torturous experience for him. They’d never fought when they were dating and it wasn’t but six months after they’d been married that she started picking fights. He didn’t like fighting with her and he didn’t understand why she got so angry at the slightest provocation. His father had told him that she was probably trying to make him angry with her.
“She’s never seen you angry with her, or anything else for that matter. You know how her father is,” he said to him weeks ago, “That’s why she keeps picking at you. You’re not very emotional, she just wants to see it, that’s all. She’ll probably stop after she does.”
Samuel didn’t understand a bit of it. He ran his fingers through his hair and tried to recall his psychology classes, he didn’t understand much of those either, nothing useful was coming to mind. He could hear her frustrated screaming coming through the window, directed at him for dropping a glass. People were something he just didn’t get, women least of all. He figured men in general didn’t get women, and was pretty sure women didn’t always get themselves much less each other.
He grew up with Matira, and knew her pretty well, or so he had thought, he was uncertain now. Pacing back and forth and feeling more then a little miserable he wondered if it would just be safer for him to sleep outside. It was a warm, cloudless night and his outside chair was fairly comfortable and a nice breeze picked up. He had a feeling she’d sleep on the couch tonight anyway and he didn’t like sleeping in their bed alone. It was punishment for him and he didn’t care to go through it again.
He sat down in his chair and looked out towards the highway, a few cars passed, going home from work in Amarillo to a little town to the north. They were far enough out the headlights rarely disturbed his sleep, even out on the porch and his father in the house across barely noticed them anymore either. Only the rare eighteen wheeler’s horn disturbed the silence, and his father had ceased reporting them years ago.
That porch was his only real peaceful place these days and he contented himself rocking in the chair trying to think of ways to appease his wife in the morning. I’ll cook breakfast, she likes it when I do, he thought. After a few moments his eyes started to close, the drone of the cars was hypnotic.
Then a flash woke him up and he saw a fire on what he supposed was the edge of the highway, and heard the screech of tires as a car tried to speed off. The fire went out and there were no street lights out this far. He figured it was a cigarette someone threw out of the car. That didn’t account for the flash and there were no clouds. The power line must have went down, he thought and looked inside. He could see his wife in the kitchen glaring angrily out the window at him. The lights were still on. He looked towards his father’s house and he could see his dad and his cousin sitting in front of the television.
He looked back out to the highway and saw another flash, a gout of flame shot down from the air at a vehicle passing by, catching it on fire. Samuel stood up, “What the…” he mouthed. In the sky about one hundred feet in the air he caught a glimpse of something circling over the flaming mini van. Another gout of flame slammed into the vehicle and in the flash Samuel could make out what he saw.
It had two large bat like wings that were flapping rapidly, allowing it to more or less hover in one spot. Four powerful legs hung limp below its body and a great barbed tail extended below it. Without thinking he sprinted across the lawn to his father’s house and burst inside.
“Elanus get your rifle, the big one with the scope, and your goggles. Dad I need you to drive the Jeep,” Samuel said calmly, making his way to the back door of the house.
“What’s going on?” his cousin asked
“There’s a dragon outside tearing things up,” Samuel said trying to hold back the panic in his voice.
“I’m not shooting your wife,” Elanus said jokingly, his British accent contrasting sharply with Samuel’s Texas drawl.
“No a real dragon, hurry up,” Samuel said, trying to ignore the comment, as he came back into the house with a heavy pointed steel pole in his hand.
“What?” his dad asked getting up.
“Move!” Samuel said going back out the door towards his own house. The two men jumped up and Elanus retrieved a case from his bedroom and his uncle grabbed a set of keys off of hooks near the door. The two ran outside and saw a fire near the highway, what looked like a wreck of some kind. Another gout of flame sprayed down onto another car and the two men looked up at the sky dumbfounded. Elanus fumbled in his case for a pair of goggles, he put them on and switched them on. Muted colors filled his sight as the night vision goggles powered up. In the sky he could clearly see a large flying lizard circling over the highway. He thought it might be black but the night vision did not always show accurate color.
“He’s not kidding,” Elanus mumbled.
Samuel ran across the lawn back to his own house and stuck his head in the door. “Matty,” he said. She looked up at him, tears running down her face, “I’ll be back in a little while, don’t be afraid, just stay here and get in the basement.” He ran off before he could see the angry sneer she directed at him.
When he got back outside his father had forgotten what he was doing, and just stared up at the sky, watching the dragon in the intermittent light. “Dad!” Samuel said, and his father looked down at his hands, and remembered then they took off for a jeep that sat under a tin car port. They got in and started out in the direction of the dragon, and Elanus quickly loaded his gun and hooked his goggles into the scope. A small semi-transparent display appeared in his field of vision, showing what the scope saw, which was the floor of the car.
Instinctively Elanus loaded his rifle, and started pointing it around himself while looking in another direction. It was a hard skill to master, watching two sets of eyes at once but Elanus was good at it. He was pretty sure the dragon was the only problem but it never hurt to be careful. Normally the gun was part of a much larger system, employed by the British SAS to render their people practically invisible and at the same time provide a sort of all around vision. Elanus was only able to liberate the gun and the headset upon his retirement though, even though the suit that went with it was tailor made and not particularly easy to recycle on another operative.
As expected, he didn’t see any other suspicious activity around so he focused in on the dragon. He flipped one of the lenses on his goggles up and looked directly into the scope. It focused in on the dragon and gave him distance, wind velocity and several other key pieces of information such as estimated size of target. The dragon was huge, over twenty five feet from head to tail, and an enormous wingspan. He wondered silently how they weren’t feeling the down draft as the thing flapped.
A gout of flame shot out of the dragon’s mouth to the ground below, and the light filter on the scope turned black for a moment before readjusting, the ranged temperature read out on his scope skyrocketed to twelve hundred degrees before settling back down to the ambient temperature of seventy three.
He decided the dragon was too big a target to take down in one shot, he’d have to treat it like a piece of machinery and divide it up into several smaller targets. Elanus zoomed in on the dragon trying to find a likely place to shoot it. The head was out of the question, bony plates and scales covered it and it’d probably hurt it to get shot there less then it would an elephant. His rounds were magnums but he didn’t think even they had the force to penetrate the scales and skull. So he searched the dragon for a weak spot, getting it on the ground seemed like a good idea. He had a fair idea of what Samuel planned to do with the rod he was carrying.
Then he saw it, a joint in the middle of the wing. It looked like a elbow and was covered with fine little scales and he could see bits of flesh as the dragon’s wings pumped. They were well within range but Samuel would have to rush the thing as soon as it hit the ground. He noted that all four of the dragon’s powerful legs had pronounced Achilles’ Tendons and they were also not as heavily armored as the rest of the animal.
“I think I see a couple of weaknesses Samuel,” Elanus said, still looking the dragon over.
“Anywhere I can place this rod?” Samuel asked, tapping the rod.
“I can ground it and keep it from moving, but all the vital areas I can see are covered in thick scales,” Elanus replied, “I might can crack a scale on it’s chest or neck somewhere but I doubt these bullets could penetrate the hide. It’s like a flying tank. I wish I had liberated some exploding bullets, or armor piercing at least.”
“They’re always weaker on the underbelly, that’s what the stories say,” Samuel’s dad, Gene, commented as he turned the Jeep’s headlights off.
“I’m sure whatever lab this thing was engineered in thought of that,” Samuel replied.
“Good point,” Gene said, “Still I bet it weighs quite a bit, if you could just get it to fall on that pike, it’d do the work for you.”
In the distance the red and blue flashing of police car lights and the distinctive silver strobing of ambulance lights could be seen. Someone had called the police and the dragon’s attention was caught by the flashing lights coming toward him on the highway. Elanus reacted instantly, not wanting the beast to get away, and fired a shot at the dragon’s wing joint. The bullet pierced the protective scales and lodged itself in the joint, not the effect that Elanus had hoped for but it would do.
“Now or never!” Elanus said as he watched the dragon spiral to the ground, roaring and desperately flapping its good wing. Gene slowed down and Samuel jumped out of the Jeep and hit the ground rolling with his pike. Elanus squeezed off another round at the dragon’s other wing, this time the bullet took a good portion of the joint off and the dragon plummeted to the ground like a rock. There was no time for Samuel to get under it with the pike.
Samuel ran towards the dragon, which had fallen a nearby field. He jumped over the barbed wire and cursed as his feet sank into the freshly plowed and irrigated dirt, it wasn’t quite mud but it was soft enough to slow him down. The dragon though didn’t seem to have that problem, and was charging straight for him. Samuel cringed as he saw a dull orange glow begin to illuminate the inside of the dragon’s cavernous mouth.