By the time I stepped outside, the leaves were on fire.
Now, thinking about it ‘leaves on fire’ doesn’t exactly sound too bad. Could be that someone had swept a bunch of leaves off their front lawn and set them on fire. Not too risky and perfectly legal.
‘Leaves on fire’ could also be some kids mucking around with a lighter, definite potential for trouble there. But nothing some piss pot do-gooder couldn’t sort out with a pair of boots and a good stomp. Again, not so bad. Not legal, but not too bad either.
Stepping outside to the leaves being on fire could also be a bit of artistic license if you get my meaning. Something poetic, make the ladies go “Aww!” picture it: Sunset, in the autumn, last beams of light hit the trees just right. Leaves on fire. Perfect. One of those fleeting moments that pass in an instant but would make a smashing picture.
This was not what we were dealing with.
What we were dealing with was in fact, a rather large, winged, reptilian fellow, some might say reminiscent of a cross between a crocodilian creature and a rather big bat, who had never missed a meal and always drank a glass of milk before bed (healthy bones) so was somewhat on the large size.
Some may also say that this large, crocodilian-bat creature was also talented in the pyrokenetics field, if you catch my drift. And some might even say that this crocodile-bat, (which, some, some mind you, might label “Dragon”, but we don’t want to jump to conclusions) with the amazing talent of wielding fire in spectacular manner, was currently in the process of setting an entire woodland, nay, an entire village community alight as it gently snored. And with each snore it launched an ember and each ember skipped playfully over to a nearby bush or tree, stray twig or even, occasionally, a small squealing animal, and proceeded to set them alight (bearing in mind a gentle dragon snore sounds a lot like a wounded bear).
The presence of said Dragon and its spectacular fire capabilities was definitely illegal, definitely risky, definitely not just a bit of fun and definitely not a metaphor for an autumn eve (though whatever kind of evening could be described in metaphorical terms as a snoring, forest burning, dragon, I personally would not want to be going for a walk on).
“How’s about we all went away,”
Todd was snapped away from gazing at the Dragon for a moment. “What?”
“Well. Say we got everyone in the village right? Even the old ones. And the sheep, yeah. And we just went away for a couple of days. Then when we came back, he might just have finished his nap, might’n Ee?”
Todd looked long at his large friend. What tree had he fallen from as a child?
“Well. What do you think?”
Todd leaned his tall frame against a tree, letting his friend sit for a moment looking at him earnestly, waiting for a response. “About what? Oh, you mean that utterly absurd idea about moving everyone and just hoping the Dragon will be done when we come back? No. I think not. Aside from the obvious fact that the Dragon will have burned everything up with it’s snorting so there will be nothing for us to come back to. There’s nothing to stop the beast from getting up, having a little stretch, making itself a full english and a nice cup off coffee, and then flying, say, a few hundred feet and roasting us all alive, don’t you think?”
Wiltshire stopped and thought about that. It looked as if thinking was hurting him real bad. And then, with an expression of extreme constipation, he produced another idea.
“Say, what if we got some of those knight fella’s? They’s go round killing Dragons. It’s, It’s erm, their -" The expression of extreme constipation was back on his round face.
Todd considered Wiltshire with some amusement. “Their?” Todd repeated back to him.
“Ob-li-gay-shun. Obligayshun!” Wiltshire’s face lit up. “They aft to do it coz it’s what they’s do ain’t it?”
Todd often enjoyed bursting Wiltshire’s bubble, but today he could find no joy in it.
“Except my cognitively challenged friend, knights wouldn’t come out to help peasants like us. Their main Ob-li-gay-shun as you put it is to serve king and country. Not scuzzy peasants like you and I. No, the only thing for it is to get it away from here. Let the stupid, fire sneezing beast be some other buggers problem.”
Todd struggled with the pantyhose.
“Damn! How the blasted do women do this? So many hooks and fastens! The moon’ll be out by the time I’m dressed!” Todd managed to get the pantyhose on, though the right knee wrinkled and the left leg kept drooping down to his ankle, causing him to fidget.
“How did the Dragon get here anyway?” Todd grunted as he fidgeted at the back of his gown.
“Whatcha mean?” Wiltshire asked.
“What I mean is – and for god’s sake stop averting your gaze I’m not a bloody girl! - What I mean is when did it get here? I sure didn’t see a Dragon this morning when I had my oats and yesterday’s grease that’s for sure!”
“It just showed up.”
“Dragon’s can’t just ‘show up’ they’re Dragons! Giant shadows! Big! Swooping! Wings go flap, loudly!” Todd mimed with the petticoat he’d just wriggled into. “How does anyone miss a bleeding Dragon?!”
“We did, Todd.” Wiltshire said, no longer looking away but markedly abashed.
“I know we missed it and now it’s our bloody job – mine actually seeing as you’re doing bugger all! - to get rid of it. Where are the others? Bloody cowards!” Todd adjusted his wig and bonnet as he got into full swing. “Leaving us – me! - to it without so much as a ‘Good luck Todd!” or ‘Sorry you’re about to get roasted mate!’ I mean, it’s really unfair! Give us a hand with the fastens man, can’t bleedin’ reach it! Don’t know how girls get anything done it takes so long to get dressed! Does my make-up look good? Suitably bangable?”
“Err, Not sure I’s can answer that Todd, you’s an’ I both being blokes an all.” Wiltshire said awkwardly, averting his gaze again.
“God’s sake man! Do you think Mr scaly fire bum will go for it?” Todd demanded, giving a twirl to put emphasis on his point.
“Lets just get this done!”
The clearing had grown in size since they were last outside. The grass, the trees and the sky were all orange and it was growing particularly hot.
Wiltshire nudged Todd forward. Being in heels Todd stumbled. He threw a dirty look back to Wiltshire before nervously approaching where the Dragon lay.
The Dragon was now on its back, big scaly belly pointed to the sky and its snoring was now so loud twigs and dirt shook underfoot (picture an elephant, a bull elephant even, with a trapped nerve in its leg, located near a microphone).
In his best panto voice, Todd attempted to get the Dragon’s attention.
“Oh dear! Oh deary me! I, A PRINCESS, have found myself lost! Whatsoever shall I do?”
The Dragon snored on, deep in slumber. It rolled onto its side and scratched its belly in its sleep. It’s large tail twitched and raised in the air before slamming down, narrowly missing Todd and Wiltshire. Wiltshire started and shuffled away, glancing back towards the cottage.
Todd began to walk around the Dragon. Calling out his panto cry as he passed belly and claw and a large, powerful head full of sharp teeth.
“I, the VIRGIN PRINCESS, hand promised to a PRINCE, am ever so lost and vulnerable!”
The Dragon began to whinny in its sleep, a surprisingly high pitch noise (coming from a Dragon) that caused its lips to flap and its wings to flutter in its sleep. It’s eyelids fluttered also, threatening to open before snapping tight shut again.
Todd, never being someone known for his virtues, lost his patience.
Wiltshire, who had been watching with open mouth, jumped.
“Hymen! I have a HYMEN!! UN-BROKE-EN!! Because I am as PURE as a VIRGIN PRINCESS can be!!”
The Dragon was unmoved. It snorted and launched fire past Wiltshire’s head. His rag cap was on fire a total of eight seconds before he took notice.
Todd had lost the plot.
“HYMEN!!” “HYMEN!!” He yelled. And with each yell he punctuated it by kicking the Dragon’s tail in his baby pink silk slippers.
Wiltshire managed to get his cap (mostly) put out and put it back on his head, still smoking.
He watched Todd yelling and kicking the dragon for several minutes (gradually becoming hoarser with each yell) before carefully picking up a rather large stick and inserting it into the Dragon’s left nostril.
That did it.
While Todd was still yelling and kicking, the Dragon rose up from where it had lain on the forest floor, its shadow stretching far over him, extending over bushes and trees, frightened animals and threatening to reach up into the hills.
The Dragon took a deep breath.
This action launched the stick into Todd’s abdomen, flooring the young man in drag. It also coated him in a dark greenish-yellowish slime, which in addition to ruining his dress and slippers, also made it rather difficult to see.
While winded, it took Todd some time to notice the Dragon looming over him. He wiped the slime from his eyes and flicked it away to the earthy ground. He then searched around for a leaf to wipe the rest of his face up. It was only when he felt the breath of the Dragon on his face, the heat of brimestone, firestorms and questionable barbecue, it dawned on him.
Todd ran as fast as he could, which was considerably slow in petticoat, pantyhose and slippers.
Skirts hitched up around him, Todd was almost at the end of the woods when the Dragon grabbed him in its claws.
From where Wiltshire was standing, Todd had high tailed it into the woods, appearing for all the world like a cake topper brought to life. The Dragon coming to from its sleep, groggily glanced around, looking for whoever or whatever had disturbed it from its rest. It had also made a gesture that looked to Wiltshire, for all the world, as if the Dragon had wiped its nose where the stick had been shoved.
Then the Dragon had spied Todd, drawn to him by the sounds of bushes rustling and mixed tears, swears and prayers. At this point the Dragon had shaken its leathery wings out and had leiuserly beaten its wings, once, twice, three times, until it had taken flight and drifted over after Todd, vanishing from view. Then, a minute or so later, he had heard Todd yelp. And a minute or so after that he could see the Dragon flying off in the distance.
A smile broke out on Wiltshire’s face like a slow moving rash. “I’d best tell everyone the good news!” Wiltshire trotted out of the flaming woods to the nearby village. They’d be so happy to hear him and Todd had gotten rid of the Dragon.
About 5,000 feet in the air (an approximate estimation based on the inhabitants on the ground below being the size of gnats and the icy wind pushing its way towards his derriere in time with the Dragon’s wing beats) Todd was held in the Dragon’s open claw.
Todd made an assessment of his situation. Glancing to the earth below. Nope. There’s no going anywhere that way. He then looked up at the Dragon. It’s giant head loomed forward, not looking down at the world, but looking out towards the sky. A low rumbling came from its chest, causing vibrations that Todd could feel where he was perched in its claws. So, at this point, Todd did the only thing he could do. He lay back, arms folded behind his head, and enjoyed his success.
That’ll show everyone who made fun of me for doing panto! A finer starlet there never was! He smirked to himself. And now to wait for a brave knight to rescue me! Knights were never far behind damsel’s in distress after all! And apart from a few minor details I fit that description pretty well. Hopefully the knight who’d come after me will like his girls with a little more Adam’s apple than usual.