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An Excellent Stretch

A dragon interacts with his worshippers.

By Joe MorelandPublished about a year ago 8 min read

I emerged from my slumber a new dragon. I have no real clue as to how long I'd slept. It was a substantial amount of time, however, because outside my ancient cavern a forest had sprung up where none had been before. I don't know much about trees (except that they burn very nicely), but these looked to be hundreds of years old. At least. Perhaps a thousand years. I don't really know.

Well, the one thing you really want to do after awakening from a very long sleep is get in a good stretch. I wasn't quite ready to try flying as of yet. That takes a lot of energy and for that I'd have to find something to eat. I was craving one of those four-legged creatures that were always running around all over the place.

They are very fast though. As I said, I didn't have a lot of energy, so I figured I might have to settle for something a bit slower. The good news is I now had a forest. Forests are filled with slow-moving animals that make excellent meals.

Something about those fast ones, though...

I shook the thought out of my head. No sense in dwelling on it. I'd eventually get enough energy to fly and then I'd catch one from the air and roast it on the run and eat it while it was still burning. I shook my head again.


You'd think I'd had enough dreaming for the next hundred years.

A sound began to pierce my ears. A kind of wailing that started low and gained in pitch until it was nearly like poking a sharp stick into my brain. Only one creature made that sound. I had been walking steadily amongst the trees, stretching my legs (as I mentioned), not really paying much attention to the ground as I stared at the trees and open sky, smelling the fresh air.

Sure enough. One of those two legged animals I had run into from time to time. Although, this was the first time I'd seen one all alone. Usually, they were in large groups that came to worship me. Their worship was very strange. They would offer me huge piles of sticks that they would toss to me. What was I going to do with sticks? Maybe they thought I wanted them for my nest.

This was one was very small. He must be one of their young. I almost didn't recognize him as one of the two-legs because of how he was clad. The last time I saw these creatures they were just covered in fur. This one, however, was almost bald (except on top of his head) and he was wrapped in various kinds of materials that obscured his arms, torso and much of his legs. How odd.

There was no mistaking that howl, though. It alone marked him as a two-leg--even if I couldn't see most of his legs. Abruptly, he turned and ran off on those two legs, howling the whole way.

I let out a long breath that had just a tinge of smoke. Clearly, he was going to alert the other worshippers and now I was going to be beset by their offerings (none of which were edible) and delayed in getting my much-needed nourishment.

I continued my walk in the direction he ran. Might as well get it over with.

It did not take long for me to run into the rest of his pack. There were an awful lot of them this time. When they saw me, several of them made that horrible wailing sound and turned and ran back the way they came.

Were they off to get even more two-legs?

The ones who stayed, as typical, began tossing sticks at me. They must have been waiting for me to reappear with great anticipation because they had developed some sort of new contraption that delivered their sticks at a higher velocity than before. Previously they just threw them at me, but now they had a string of some sort tied around a curved stick. They set the offering stick onto the string, pulled it back, and, when they let go, it was sent soaring towards me, much higher and faster than before.

They really wanted me to appreciate their effort because now they were shouting and howling at a whole new pitch and waving their arms around in between throws.

Ow! One of the sticks caught me on the end of my nose and stuck there. That stung a little. They were going to need to be more careful.

I started to give them a glowering look, to let them know that wasn't appreciated, when I saw it. One of the two-legs came forward from the group. He was completely encased in metal. From his head to his toes. On one arm he had another square piece of metal attached and yet another shiny, stick-like piece of metal appended to the end of the other arm.

Honestly, he looked pretty ridiculous. But none of that was what really got my attention. What really got me to perk up was what was underneath him.

He was perched on one of those fast little four-legs I had a hankering for. I got really excited. So excited that I snorted a small burst of heat that turned the stick protruding from my nose instantly into ash. The pack of two-legs howled even louder.

The one on the four-leg was whirling around like a loose vine in a storm, waving the shiny piece of metal back and forth. Clearly, he was trying to get my attention. The rest of the pack had fallen back some and quieted. As I looked closer, it came to me what was going on here. I felt stupid for not realizing it sooner. It was as plain as my, now stickless, nose.

He needed my help. He was stuck in some sort of cannister. The thing he kept waving around must be some kind of opener for the can but, trapped head to foot as he was, there was no way he could see to get it open.

Carefully I reached out and plucked him off the ground, four-leg and all. I looked closely at the metal he was encased in to see if there was an opening I could use to free him. It was difficult to focus because the whole time he kept flailing the metal stick around, constantly banging it against my talon. Poor thing. He must have been practically hysterical with being enclosed in such a tight space. Probably could hardly breathe in there.

The only thing that made any sense at all was the cannister of top of his head. It looked like it should just pop right off. So I gave it a little pull. Apparently, the two-legs are far more delicate than I realized. As the cannister came off, his head remained inside.

For such little things, the two-legs are sure filled with a lot of juice. It went everywhere. Oh well. You try to help. I tossed the rest of the two-leg aside and promptly ate the four-leg. It would be an awful shame to let the first decent offering they sent me go to waste over one little accident.

The rest of the pack started those horrible, piercing sounds again and began to run off back where they came from. Thinking they might have more four-legs to offer me, I decided to follow them. When properly motivated, those two-legs could move at a pretty decent speed. I had to lengthen my stride to keep up.

This was turning out to be an excellent stretch.

Soon enough we came into a clearing and I was stunned at what I saw. The two-legs had indeed been busy over the last however-long-I'd-been-asleep-for. They had used wood and stone to construct their own caves to live in. Very, very clever. Some of these caves were quite large. One, in particular, which had a stone wall around it, was almost as tall as I was. All of the two-legs were running through an opening in the wall.

As I started to approach a ball of something on fire came flying at me from behind the wall and struck me right in the chest. It kind of tickled. Soon more and more balls of fire entered the sky and flew towards me. I couldn't help myself--I laughed like a youngling again and began catching the fire in my mouth and swallowing it whole, feeding the fires in my belly, bringing them to life.

How did these odd little creatures know? My mother used to play this game with me and my siblings daily when we were just barely bigger than the four-legs. Later, when we had our own fire, we'd play it with each other. Firing back and forth in a very hot game of tag.

Oh, how this brought back my youth!

I swallowed up ball after ball of fire. When I was properly heated, I began to fire back. Letting loose torrent after torrent of flames on their wall, their buildings, and the two-legs themselves. I even had enough energy now to take to the air and hit them from above. I daresay I tagged nearly all of them. I think I got a little over-enthused with the game because I continued long after they had stopped sending up their fireballs.

As the smoke began to clear I could discern no sign of life anywhere in the clearing. Bodies of two-legs lay unmoving on the ground everywhere--smoldering husks.

Huh. Why would the two-legs play the fire game when they were clearly not fire-proof? I guess they weren't as clever as I thought they were.

Oh, well. It was a beautiful day for flying. I headed off towards the water for a drink.


About the Creator

Joe Moreland

Joe Moreland is an award winning writer who is an experienced script and short story writer as well as an aspiring novelist. He worked for many years as an actor/writer/director for several theatrical companies/touring shows

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insight

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (1)

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  • mark william smithabout a year ago

    really well done. great humor.

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