Challenge #02547-F357: Now There Be Dragons
Waking up in the forest with a splitting headache, they realized something hit the car at tremendous speed. They awakened to finding in their lap a large, greenish-blue, egg. They had no idea where it came from but they carefully held it while scrambling out of the car and fleeing into the forest. They'd smashed the cell phone they'd been forced to carry, stolen the car, and fled from their very abusive foster-parents knowing that the foster-mother had probably called the cops by now. Hiding in a cave, a place that was very hard to get to so no one else knew it was here, they sat to catch their breath. Tears flowing down stained cheeks from eyes blackened from the most recent beating dripped onto the warm egg and, suddenly, there was a strange popping noise. The shell shattered and into their lap a young dragon rolled out. The pain lasted only a moment as an almost tribal pattern formed on the upper arm and the dragon looked up at their chosen friend and gently nuzzled the tear-stained cheek. In their mind they heard the dragon's soft voice whisper "It's alright, you're not alone anymore, it's been a long, long time, but we're coming back." -- DaniAndShalli
This is yours and it ain't got no credit. You answer in three rings no matter when I ring or I'll kill whoever you're with when I find you. Those had been Uncle's words. Lee didn't doubt it. She kept it in a special pocket next to her skin so she could feel it even when it was too noisy to hear anything. Uncle would kill anything Lee got close to. A dog, a cat, a little bird that came for table scraps. If he caught her talking to it, it was dead.
She hadn't been allowed to speak to anyone for anything else than business or school and school was a dangerous grey area. Only Uncle was allowed to know her phone number. It was an old-model push-button thing with barely an LED screen and she caught hell from the Popular Girls for owning it. She had had plans to make Uncle actually kill Maisy Hanbury by not answering when they were hanging out together, but Uncle had only threatened them with death if he caught them trying to "lesbo her up" again.
Nothing ever worked in Lee's favour, so she had run. Not to a boy, not to any girls. She just packed what she knew wouldn't be missed and waited until Uncle got good and drunk before she stole his third-best car. The one he usually used as a marker for his games. She could drive it until the gas ran out and then just leave it wherever and run. Lee had no plan, no money, and no clue what to do next. She had the clothes on her back, the stuff she'd crammed into a garbage bag, and the phone strapped to her arm. Oh shit! The PHONE!
She stopped at the next bridge and smashed it to pieces with a rock. Scraped every last piece up and threw it into the water in the pocket of her hoodie. The one he told her he could track her by. Lee got twenty more miles before something hit the car. Lee couldn't remember what it was, but she woke up in a ditch with something heavy and warm in her lap. She thought it was Uncle and, scooping up the warm thing, ran heedless into the darkness.
The cave she found was shallow and stank, but at least it was out of the sleet. Her eyes got used to the darkness and her fingers explored the warmth. It wasn't alive, but it was warm. It wasn't a rock. It was rounded, but it wasn't smooth. Lee ran her hands over it as she huddled in the shelter, listening to the night. The soft patter of sleet on leaf litter was almost relaxing. There was no hiss of other cars. No howls in the night. No rage-filled bellows of Uncle trying to track her down. Tears she didn't know she was shedding fell from her face. Some smacked into her bare arms. Some splattered on her hands. One sweep of her hands confirmed that they had hit the egg, too.
It had to be an egg, because it was hatching. As the shell cracked, some motes of blue light swirled out. Around her. They lit where her tears had fallen and... it stung, but the pain was over almost before it started. The light swirled out from the stings in celtic knots and spirals, joining up to form the figure of a dragon. Just like the one that the first, watery light of dawn was showing her was in her lap.
It was long and sinuous, much like a Chinese dragon, but it was also scaly and had wings. It was wet with egg stuff and licked at her arms, then her face. She smelled... she smelled like all the best things she knew. Baking cinnamon or the bakery down the road or the quiet corner in the library. She smelled of a coming storm and purred like a cat and wriggled like an excitable little puppy in her arms.
She spoke without speaking. It will be all right from this day on, said the voice in Lee's head. She knew with that voice that the dragon in her arms was indeed female, and her name was Elation. You are not alone, any more. It has been a long time, but we are coming back.
There was a vision, too. Other kids like her who had nobody to love them. Kids who were punished just for being alive. Kids who were doomed to a sad end and a "How could this happen?" piece on the news. Kids who had been previously assigned to a lonely grave and maybe having their remains discovered by hikers at a much later date. Each and every one of them had an egg hatched by their tears. Each and every one of them got a mark when their egg hatched.
The dragons were little, like they were little, but they would grow. They would fight. They would fly. They would end tyranny in all its forms because they knew -intimately- what it looked like.
In another world, a little girl named Lee would have died of exposure in a cave that wouldn't be found for years. In this world, Lee stepped out into the dawn's thin light and collected her things before setting out in a new direction. She had seen a safe place in Elation's vision. A place she and the other Chosen would build together. A place that would never allow tyranny to settle.
Her name was Lee. She knew no other name. She had all her things in a garbage bag that she carried over one shoulder. She had a place to go, she had hope, and she had a dragon.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / paulfleet]
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