Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Dragons Eye - Part Two


The dragon dusted off some rocks and stopped.  It looked up at the rainbow.

The cats firmly fastened themselves to my legs. Waylander still had a grip on the two dark alfs. Below, almost out of reach, was a small bag – the sort of bag gold should be in, but was not. I gave the cat a sharp look, and dropped two very cross dark alfs into my pocket.

At that moment, the rainbow let go of the ground and we started to move upwards, slowly at first, but rapidly accelerating. I saw the dragon leap towards us. By the time it got to where we had been, we were long gone.

I was looking for something to hold onto when I blacked out.

A properly shaped rainbow is curved, has two ends and a top.  Sort of like a handle on a port or travelling case. I think I dreamed about airplanes and suit cases. I woke up slowly, like I had been travelling. 

The first think I noticed was the smell.  It smelt like a hospital. I rubbed my eyes. There was something over my eyes. There was mist everywhere. Something was trying to get my attention.  But no immediate signs of the dragon so I went back to sleep.

The mobile was ringing. I tried to open my eyes but they were not opening. I reached into my pocket and something bit me. I shook it out, shouting out loud in surprise.  I heard the cat Waylander give a surprised yelp.

The mobile kept ringing, so I reached into my other pocket looking for some chocolate. I don’t normally carry chocolate. I had a bit to celebrate getting the gold or to distract the dragon.  But only the wrapper was left. Something to one side laughed, a high delighted laugh that sounded like it knew where the chocolate was.

The day was not starting off well.

The mobile kept ringing. Risking another bite, I fished the mobile out

Putting it up close to my ear, I made one of those sounds that conveys the impression that everything is under control even though I needed a cup of tea. And chocolate.

Instead I hear your voice coming from the mobile.

You said - I just had this very strange conversation with a woman on your mobile.

I said something non-committal, none of the bits connecting. 

You said –  The woman said she is a nurse, name of Kathy or Tethy. She has a strong accent. 

My brain started to kick in at that point. Partly survival instinct – when one woman starts to talk about another woman, I quietly shift into flight or flee gear.

I could hear the sound of a scuffle off to one side, the cats were up to no good. I reached out and touched the surface I was lying on.  Soft and smooth, like a bed.

I said, calmly – I don’t know anyone called Kathy. (Which was not quite true.) I certainly don’t know anyone called Tethy. Look, I hit my head really badly and I am, I might be, a little confused, and I am, you know, really really busy. Can I call you back tomorrow?
You said – Kathy, the nurse, said you are very sick. She says you are strapped to a bed in a hospital in Christchurch with head injuries, and that the hospital had recharged your mobile in case someone tried to get in touch with you. 

In a slightly different, faster voice, you said - You told me you were from Australia.
The hospital smell was gone.  I reached up to my head and touched the bandage. It was soft and very sticky. I wiped it away from my eyes but when I tried to wipe it from the wound, someone said firmly “No”.

You asked – Is someone else there?  Is that you Kathy?

I sat up on my elbows and looked around.

I said – No one else. Just me.

I did not say anything about the dark alf sitting with her arms folded on my chest.  And I thought it sensible not to say anything about the other one riding in the distance on top of Waylander chasing small scuttling things. Or the massive beams of light that spread out like the centre of a dandelion seed a way away. Or the transparent surface I was resting on.

On second thoughts…

I said – Look, I might be in a hospital. My head is really sore. I think they must have given me drugs or something.

You said – She asked for a lot of personal information.

I said – Umm… What did you tell her? That I was looking for gold and got chased by a dragon?

She said – Be serious for once. If I told her that you would be a skun squirrel.  She was also asking for information about ME.  MY real name and stuff like that.

Ok, maybe you didn’t say “skun squirrel”. I can’t remember the exact words.  You said something like that which inferred that I would be cactus. And that you might be held partly to account for associating with someone who was off with the pixies.  I looked briefly at the Dark Alf.  She looked at me, sniffing like she smelt something bad.  It didn’t help.

I couldn’t let the reference to “skun squirrel” go.

I said (perhaps with a little too much sarcasm) – Did she ask you for your credit card details as well ?

There was a pause.

You said – You are not being serious. Mate.

I thought that was a little low.  I call everyone “mate”, but this had an ugly overtone, like I might have been pretending to be a New Zealander.  I have no problems with New Zealanders. I once went to the movies with a cute girl from the North Island. But I would never pretend to be a New Zealander.  I would eat my own arm first.  It was almost as bad as someone saying “Whatever”.  I hate that. There is no answer to “whatever”. It generally happens at exactly that point in a relationship when you should pack your bags and run, but you both keep working it into a far worse mess.

I said – Look, I am sorry.  I banged my head really hard running from the dra… cave.  I am pretty sure I am not in New Zealand.  I am definitely not a New Zealander.  I can’t even speak like them, well, not convincingly. I don’t know where I am.  I will ask Kathy or whoever when she comes in.

There was a bit of a pause. I thought, a little late, that maybe the “whoever” was perilously close to a “whatever”.

You said – They couldn’t look at your mobile because of the password.  I am the only one that called. (She paused to let that sink in a bit as well.)  They didn’t know if you would wake up.  She asked me for my date of birth and where I worked. She sounded worried about you.  She said you nearly died.

I missed the bit about almost dying until a day or so later.  

I said – I hope you didn’t tell her your age.

Sometimes I should just shut up when I am ahead.

You said – You are not being serious again. Maybe it is the drugs.  I don’t tell anyone my age.  But I did tell her where I work.

I waited for a moment.  To let her fill in the details. But it did not happen.

I said – Well, um – where do you work?

It was a fair question. Why should the nurse know and not me?

You said – I am not telling you that.

My head suddenly felt very sore. I put my hand up to my head again. The sticky material had hardened.  It was going to hurt when I pulled it off.

You said – You are the one that pretends to go hunting dragons.  So, find out which hospital you are in will you?  I have to go to work. Maybe call later.

I said – my phone will be almost out of charge.

I looked at the charge indicator. It should have been almost empty, but it was full.

I said – never mind.

You said – It should be fine. The hospital said they charged it up – remember.  Tell Karen to look after you.  Please do not tell her you were hunting dragons.  They will take away your phone and lock you up.

You didn’t sound too unhappy about that prospect. You hung up.

The surface I was sitting on shook a little.

I looked at the dark alf sitting on my chest.  If she stood up, she would have been the size of my hand. 

I asked her – Are you Karen?

She looked at me, shook her head and went back to texting. That was just wrong. Dark alfs do not text.

I turned and watched the cats.  Both of them were in full flight with the second dark alf directing the cat Waylander keeping the perimeter around me clear of the small scuttling spider things.

I lay back down, shut my eyes, and let all the bits fall into place.  A hospital in New Zealand with some pretty effective drugs. A place to rest for a bit.  Fresh air, crystal clear water, free health care, great cross country skiing. I don’t know why New Zealanders come to Australia. 

I suddenly knew everything would be ok.

Except the vibrations in the floor. And then the little dark alf started pulling my beard and jumping up and down.

I told her I was going back to sleep and shut my eyes again. 

Then she bit me hard on the nose.

“You stupid human!  Get Up!  They are coming.”

I opened my eyes wide.  The beams of light were everywhere. I rubbed my eyes.  Some of them were vibrating.  Not beams of light, but bits of web.

I don’t like spiders. 

I jumped up, and fell out of the bed, scattering dark alfs and cats.

Peter Quinton
February 2015

> Part Three

Image - Molonglo High Plains, after a storm, yesterday

(No dragons or cats were hurt writing this part. Lots of small spiders were squashed – about which I am very sorry.)

An index to the parts of the story is here.

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