She found you near the brook. You had as many scars on the inside as on the outside. The old lady enlisted the help of a draught horse and a makeshift frame. They slowly dragged you up to the farm house.
She made up a cot next to the fire, and slowly rubbed life back into your arms and legs. With your head cradled in her arms, she fed you warm broth and kept you mouth moist with the crystal clear water. She bathed away the tears and rips in your body.
You woke with a start on the second day. Delirious, you told stories of running and flying. Gradually, you started to hear yourself talking. The soft touch of a cat curled at your side and the clatter of the old woman around the house. You healed slowly – it took a week before you were able to move around unsteadily. You moved into an old armchair that caught the warm sun and overlooked the brook. Here you drifted in and out of sleep.
The old lady asked – Anthem, more broth?
You nodded awake and smiled – I dreamed I was on a boat. High in the sky. An ocean below.
She said – What a strange dream. You have been raving for days, of all sorts of evil: men, spiders, dragons, sky boats, wolves. You are safe here, none of those are allowed on my farm anymore. Perhaps you are ready for something a little more substantial. Perhaps some stew, eh?
You smile – Maybe.
You feel the sun on your skin. You watch high clouds build in the skies. Twisting into impossible shapes. A ship. Wings - a bird? A whisper in your head - I wonder if you think about me, in your wildest dreams.
You shake your head. The little cat beside you stirs and starts to purr as the old lady returns with two bowls. In one a thick stew while in the other a scoop of handmade ice-cream. She smiles – One for both of you. I will be nearby – call if you need me.
One spoon-full was followed by another until you and the cat were comfortably full and your head dropped back to the cushion rest.
You drift back to the sky-yacht. Curled on the deck with friends. Watching high clouds build in the skies. Twisting into impossible shapes. In the distance wings. You watch the wings rise and fall. There is a man there – standing on the wings. The picture becomes clearer, the man is balanced on a small craft with wings being towed by the sky boat. You watch as the small craft dives to just skim above the waves and then climbs into the sky. You know you know how to do this.
He is pulled back to the sky-yacht. You see yourself help the landing and watch as you jump onto the craft. You feel the little craft straining in the wind, wanting to rise. You strap yourself to it and gradually you are let out, the wind streaming you hair as you hold the craft level until a safe distance from the sky boat is achieved.
And then you let it go, diving to the surface in one steady fall, leveling out just above the surface. Feeling the surface tension on the water break into small droplets and watching for dark shapes under the surface. Then gliding up until you are high above the sky boat. From here you watch the horizon, looking for storms and other ships.
You feel the chill of the sun setting in the western mountains and a call to come inside to the warmth of the fire.
The little cat is already inside sitting on the old lady’s lap as she knits. She tells the kitten – Stray cats like you wander in from time to time. Some stay and grow old with me.
She turns to you - This kitten arrived a little before you. She loves ice-cream.
She settles the household, heating milk and malt into a night-time sedative.
You think of the spiders and ask – Did they follow me here?
She says – We are here alone. Just you and me – and the kitten. No one is coming. This world has plenty of problems without you inventing more.
You stare into the fire. Listening to the hiss and whistle of green wood and pine cones starting to burn. A whisper in your head – Do you think of me?
In the fire you see a spider shape shriveling as you and a man fly together to the surface of a sky-platform, throwing fire at anything that moves. He turns to you, an angry smile – Almost there.
Then the world starts to phase. The old sky-platform filled with spider signs is overlaid with a green Christchurch park. A brood mother turns in your direction and with frightening speed moves in your direction.
You flinch in pain, your side crying with a spiders stab.
The old lady smiles – Spiders again, eh? None here. Drink this and rest. In the morning we can talk about what we are going to do with you.
She sees the emotions flash across your face – Nothing to worry about. There is no rush.
She remembers something – You did not bring much with you. You did have a couple of mobile phones. I don’t know much about such things – would you like me to get them?
You smile uncertainly, wondering what other traps you have set yourself – No, I am sure they are safe with you.
The old lady says – Your bed is made on the settee near the fire. The doors are closed and I have set the wards. The warm milk should help us sleep.
You snuggle into the warmth of the old woolen blankets breathing deep the smell of old straw and dust. The coal from the fire pulses with a quiet rhythm. It casts shadows from a posy of wildflowers onto the ceiling. A whisper in your head - Think about me.
The boat is docked in a large port. A sky-port that stretches into the horizon on every side. Teams working along the docks. Your party is in conference with the local district. The leaders tell Belle of boats that have not returned. A withdrawal back into the underwater cities is being planned. Belle seeks agreement that we stay here.
After the meeting, we wait for half a cycle before the decision comes. All can stay, and fish from the port. However, you and Pete are to be studied and efforts made to reverse the genetic tampering.
You are awake in the old lady’s house. Watching the shadows shorten and lengthen on the ceiling. Trying to remember. The wraith scientists were patient. This had happened before. It could be reversed. During the days you fished. In the evenings, tolerance tests.
When they were finally ready to start in earnest, goodbyes were said. Pete told Kathy that, no matter what, he would get us all home. Bob protested that he was home.
They left you on a deserted sky-tower, a week’s journey away, warning that the results could be unpredictable. On the tower, while you waited for the ship to get out of harm’s way, you argued with Pete. Why hold out false hope about a return? He said that he wished to return to his normal life. You asked him what about your life, and how he had so carelessly ruined it.
With the argument simmering, you and Pete strapped yourselves to the tower to prevent the risk of a mishap and waited for the drugs to take effect.
It did not go to plan. The constraints were torn apart and then you and Pete erupted into the sky, hungry and aware of the voices of other dragon-kin. You wrought destruction on everything you could find. It took days for the rage in Pete’s eyes to dim. Your anger was deeper, pursuing him through the ruins of the tower, hitting, slicing and biting him. You could hear yourself shouting.
You are covered in cold sweat.
The old lady was standing by the settee - Go to sleep girl. Try to leave your demons outside this place. Here, let the kitten sleep with you, maybe you can settle with her warmth.
You start to apologise. She smiles – Everything will be fine if you let me sleep. We will find a way through.
She paused - Your injuries. Was it a boyfriend or partner?
You pause, unsure.
She says - I don’t mean to pry. Try to sleep. Goodnight.
You shut your eyes tight. The little cat climbed under the blanket and settled under your chin. This time, your eyes started to droop immediately, but the little cat started to knead you, pushing its paws, one after the other into your shoulder.
You open your eyes. The fire coals had died to a dull glow. Through the small paned window you can make out moonlit trees, rising mist and stars in the sky. You think of your ruined life. Two years wasted. A career thrown away.
Your anger grows as you think of emerging into the Christchurch park, suffering the flame of the spider’s bite but wanting to start hunting for those who had tried to hurt you.
Momentarily you see red. You think how easy it would be to unleash destruction on the old farm house. How the house would burn bright, and that would just be the start. But your anger is being drained as quickly as it builds. The kitten is continuing to knead you.
You remember fighting with Pete as he took you about the clouds, falling deeper into anger.
But in that anger, suddenly a single clear idea. A plan. You disengaged and fall away. You hear Pete calling for you. You respond – I just need time.
You just need time.
You remembered the road to the old wooden barn. That continued to a small brook, across a stone bridge and an old two storey stone house. The whiff of smoke from the chimney and a glint of early sun off the windows.
You remembered the old dragon woman’s instructions - I will light a fire and we will watch the stars rise. I will give you something to help you dream. A pathway to the future. One for us to explore together. We can fly to the end of time and back. We can go to any point in the past and force a new path, with the slightest breath, one sweet kiss, a single drop of blood. I can restore your life.
So you had turned, poisoned and enraged, towards the Blue Dragon. You hit the unseen barriers built to help constrain the dragon above the brook. You see yourself falling spider poisoned and broken to the brook.
The kitten licks your face.
You shut your eyes and quietly touch the minds around you.
A flight of fey orange dragons, sweeping low and fast above the ground, ready for battle. A flight of cruel green dragons, ready to drop from high on prey unwary, holding fast in high castles. Plagued red dragons, ready to burn and ruin villages and forest, whole cities to flatten. Sleeping quietly, one blue dragon, capable of traveling fast the web and timelines, willing to blur the past with talon.
And in the distance a black dragon. Awake and alive. Pete comes into your head softly - I am sorry I was not there to help you. I am sorry about the past. But now I need your help. We need to go get our friends. The alfs have opened a gateway near you. Come now.
Eyes wide, the kitten is standing in front of you with a determined look in her eyes.
This is the conclusion of a story (a "braided yarn") that started on an earlier G+ post. Details and story at: