Smoke fog smog screams terror violence death crashing crumbling climbing-
The air is heavy and thick and cold and warm and thin - there is no oxygen - and the screaming is loud but quiet and this is not a drill, not a drill, not a -
A mighty roar, a deep inhalation, a breath that shakes the earth and makes the bricks split and shatter and scramble to the earth, bouncing off the solid, dirt covered ground and leaving no trace, returning from the dust from whence they came when crushed under foot by the heavy, scaly, three clawed-
Everything goes numb. The air freezes. I am chilled to the bone. My feet are frozen solid; trainers clinging to the ground with a force akin to superglue, or gorilla glue, whichever brand is stronger, I don't know, I don't care, but I can't move because my feet are stuck they are literally stuck, not even metaphorically I physically cannot lift them or even pivot ("Pivot!" a voice yells in my mind, repetition, thrice called, it's Ross Geller, he's yelling at me, the vein in his forehead is pulsing, his entire face red, a tomato, cherry vined- I am afraid.)
The air trembles. Can air tremble? I don't know, but it does. Breathing is as much a struggle as moving. A shadow looms overhead, a blob, a dark and foreboding morph figure that bulges and sways (is it drunk? Am I drunk?) and draws ever near.
I wait with baited breath - part in anticipation, part in struggle - as the shadow begins to lose its silhouette like quality and enter the coloured spectrum of my eye. I must be drunk. What is it? I hear a voice ask. I turn my head, the only part of my body that I am able to move, to the left, where I see a girl - young, wolfish in looks, with wispy hair of shoulder length and eyes that match with incredible accuracy. I have seen her before. I know her. But from where? The freckles, the dainty nose, the slight furrow of the brow and the slightly parted lips I know this girl-
I am that girl. That girl is me. But how can that be? I am me. I am me and she is me but she is her and I am her and- she points up at the bulging figure, lips parted in a faint 'O' shape. My eyes dart from her face to her finger tip to the sky. My face falls. It is an under-reaction, if anything.
"What is it?" She repeats. I don't recognise her voice; but, then again, I don't remember what I used to sound like.
"What do you think it is?" I feel myself saying, sans permission, lips moving with their own agenda.
"But they're not real." My young self insists. I tell her to look around; around at the blackened sky, the burning embers floating down, the crumbling buildings, the ash and dust. "What are you talking about?" She says to me. I squint at her, confusion evident on my face. "All of this is real," she continues, either ignoring or ignorant to my lack of cohesion.
"No, it's not."
"It is," she insists, once again. The wind picks up around us as, overhead, the dragon circles. A short burst of fire erupts from its mouth, followed by the distinct cracking of timber and the rumble as yet another building loses its structural form. I watch in fascination; never before has a dream felt so real. "Over there," she's still talking but I am no longer giving her my full attention. I am wrapped up in everything around me - the golden vulture above in the corner of my eye, "is Martha's bakery. Well, was." She corrects herself. She's right; under a thick layer of soot and ash is the pale blue sign - I'd recognise that shade of blue anywhere.
***I wake up, sheets pooling around me, rain pounding the windows like running feet do to a pavement. It sounds heavy enough to be hail. I am soaked. The window is open. It is part rain and part sweat, but whether they are equal in value I cannot tell. You will get ill, I hear in my head, the voice of my grandmother that is both sympathetic and slightly admonishing. It's your own bloody fault, a second voice chimes in; my mother, this time, scornful and absolutely right. I should have shut the window before I retired to bed.
In record time I shower, eat, and dress myself. I don't quite understand the urgency myself but I just know that it. Has. To. Be. Done. I'm out of the door within seconds of all these tasks being complete. I manage to walk perhaps half a mile before I notice. What I first assumed to be the gross, slush aftermath of snow mixed with rain (it is December, after all) I realise is not that at all; but, rather, a soggy concoction of rain and ash and blood. I stop in my tracks. The rain is still coming down hard and fast but I can still see the immediate area surrounding me. I am alone. There is no one around. Not a bird in the sky, a person on the road. Not a structurally sound building. The rain has erased any trace of the fire, leaving just the faint trace of rising smoke. All around, I begin to see the evidence. Broken bricks that could only have been damaged in such a way by a force that had to have been almost unrelenting, superhuman in origin, if even human at all; I know the creator of this destruction. Odd, large, three pronged prints in the ashen ground. A glistening golden scale not even ten metres in front of me.
At the end of the street stands a girl - young, wolfish in looks, with wispy hair of shoulder length and eyes that match with incredible accuracy. The freckles, the dainty nose, the slight furrow of the brow and the slightly parted lips. I know this girl. I have seen her before.
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