Dragons Again

sketch 12

Here’s a concept sketch for the MC in my dragon book, who, in this scene, was caught in a fight between a couple of the beasts. His middle got torn open and his wife is off looking for a doctor. The red dragon is Sance, who used to be a horse.

Sample

Afterwards

Diana was fourteen and Stuart was seventeen years old, and the first big issue in her mind, aside from the unraveling sense of disgust at having her old tormenter kissing her, was that he was way too old.

Diana couldn’t see her way into breaking off the exchange without essentially telling the aliens she wasn’t willing to play along anymore, and Stuart was only kissing her. To Diana’s enormous frustration, he was also very good at kissing.

Stuart drew back a little, his hand around her cheek and his eyes doing a sort of downcast shy business that Diana thought must look incredibly charming to the aliens. She told herself that Stuart had finally figured out how to play along in a way that would placate the aliens, and she really hoped that he was going to maintain some sense of balance in this whole building-a-fake-relationship scenario.

“Will you come to bed, sweetie?” Stuart asked.

Diana was in an odd fix. What she wanted to do was stand up on the roof and say, ‘Ew, no!’, and then do her best to shove Stuart off the house and hopefully give him a few broken bones. However, she was not yet willing to escalate the situation, and Diana was completely sure, from her interactions with the aliens so far, that they would react really badly to her becoming violent.

Her relationship to the aliens, such as it was right now in her mind, rested on the basis of her being more interesting and civil than the majority of the humans they’d interacted with. She had no idea how the aliens had lit on her as a piece of entertainment, or if they had other isolated human pairs scattered over the neighborhood or the world, but she was completely sure, based on how they had reacted to different things she’d done, that the aliens found her moral composition enlivening and possibly admirable.

Diana, therefore, saw any descent into cruelty or outright vicious behavior on her part as a kind of red flag to the aliens. She as pretty sure they’d either kill her or put her into those experimental tubes Stuart had mentioned if she stopped being positive and exciting. Diana kept herself from shoving Stuart away, though the nearness of his mouth and the very familiar touch of his hand was  making her body crawl with anger.

She hadn’t been able to think of anything she was willing to say in response to Stuart’s question, and he leaned in and kissed her again.

Stop, Diana wanted to say. Go away, you disgusting old man, she would have liked to shout, but he was being awfully respectful in the way he was touching her, and Diana found the balance between the threat of the aliens, and whatever they might do, and the known entity of Stuart to weigh heavily on Stuart’s side.

“Come on, Di. Let me take care of you,” Stuart said, doing a sort of nuzzling motion that made Diana’s heart flip over.

Diana examined her options. As she saw it, she had three choices. One, she could respond the way her body and soul wanted and attempt to murder Stuart. She was quite sure she would get nowhere with such an attempt, and knew from experience that Stuart would be able to physically stop her before she hurt him at all, and she was equally convinced that the aliens could come down again and break up a fight that she started.

Diana was pretty confident that the aliens would give up on this little social experiment if she attacked Stuart, and that she would find herself in whatever plight the rest of humanity presumably now suffered.

Two, Diana reflected, she could go along with Stuart and try to get him to lose his temper badly enough for the aliens to remove him again. If this happened, she thought, the aliens would bring another companion, and Diana found, when she remembered the very brief visit of the boy named James, that she really preferred the familiar Stuart to anyone else. She knew his limits and his buttons, and he cooperated with her far better than James had. Diana didn’t want to get caught into a one-sided exchange and have the aliens discard her out of boredom.

The third option Diana saw, as Stuart touched his lips very gently against her cheek, was that she could trust Stuart. Let me take care of you, he had said, and his voice, Diana thought, had sounded strangely sensible.

Maybe he’s woken up to the danger of our position, and decided to align with me because I’m human, Diana thought, and she chose the third option, as it seemed the most likely to give her more time to think.

Diana didn’t try to answer Stuart’s question about going to bed with words. She had no intention of engaging with him beyond this sort of light, innocuous kissing, but she figured she could turn ugly and draw down the aliens if Stuart got ideas about being handsy. She let out a slightly exaggerated sigh, as if she’d been pining secretly for Stuart all the time, and moved over into his lap.

Yes, that’s it, Diana thought, the second her body got up against Stuart, who cradled her in a protective sort of way and then picked her up.

Diana could feel success, and taste it. She knew she’d just won a huge victory with the aliens; she could practically feel their approval singing through her veins as Stuart carried her down the roof and back to the bedroom window.

A pair of hideous aliens were waiting in the dark bedroom when Stuart helped her climb through the window.

Diana stared at them as Stuart climbed in after her and put his arms around her from behind.

Diana was too distracted by the shadowed forms of the aliens to tighten as much as she normally would have against Stuart’s body. He was being, Diana thought, awfully respectful, and acting more like a protective big brother than any kind of lover, though he made sure to nestle his cheek against her in a good approximation of affection.

The room was very dark. One of the aliens lifted a hand, and a white, burning script began to appear in the air. Diana wondered why they weren’t speaking this time as she and Stuart read the words.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Simon’s wife is asking the dragon queen to read the future for her.

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