7 comments

Fiction Urban Fantasy American

A pale sun rose over the New York City skyline on that cold, blustery day in February. The clouds of smoke-steam billowed from beneath the city through the sidewalk grates warming a dozen houseless men from the depths of The Dragon’s lair. The Dragon himself was snaking his way through his maze of tunnels toward the morning’s destination. He preferred the underground. It connected him to the pulse of the city, whose heart he held in his grip. The exotic Ethiopian espresso drawn from his La Marzocco Strada frothed into a luxurious latte by his personal chef was being choked by his long, bony claws. One sip could fuel a jet engine. He drank the whole thing. His throat was hot and ready to burst forth flames. 

With dark purpose, The Dragon slithered coolly upstairs undistracted and undeterred by the uncouth underlings parting their way for him. A dragon is hard to miss. He carried people’s attention without realizing it. He was aloof as he pierced the earth and rose from the underground, the glint of lemon yellow sun bounced off his shiny slick-black head. The chilled wind whipped around the corners of the buildings, and turned his ears a bright red but could not budge a single hair. 

The Dragon slithered through the winding streets of Manhattan’s finance district, traffic pausing cautiously for him whenever he passed by on the crosswalks. The obsidian glass building that housed his perch towered ominously over the city. He ascended to his corner office without a word, striking fear into the hearts of every person who dared not attempt eye contact. The buzz of morning conversation ceased as he approached. He towered over them, majestic, thin, lithe, and strong. His huge eyes flickered with a fierce fire and his nose angled firmly downward from his forehead. His thin lips didn’t part unless necessary and only curled at the ends when a new treasure had been secured. But when they did part, his gleaming, greedy white fangs always snuck out. 

“I need today’s pre-market trading numbers on emerging tech!” he snarled at his assistant as he flung off his black Naval overcoat. 

“Yes, Mr. Dracarys.” Dany responded. 

“Now!” 

Dany leaped to his feet as his trembling hands scrambled blindly through the papers around his cluttered desk looking for something that wasn’t there. He spun around and began to walk away frantically in no particular direction only to realize that what he needed was on his computer. That epiphany grabbed him by the shirt collar and arrested his momentum. Inertia kept his legs and blonde hair moving in the original direction. His right leg flung outward as he turned back around, causing him to stumble clumsily onto the back of his roller-wheeled chair. The chair dutifully obeyed the laws of physics and twisted up and out from under him, crashing loudly into the desk. 

“What the hell is going on out there?”  

“Nothing, sir! Sorry!” 

“Hurry up!” Dracarys fired back. 

With a few nervous keystrokes and mouse clicks, Dany pulled up the raw data, collated it into a usable document and hit print. He swung out from behind his desk, snatched the warm paper off the machine, collected himself with a deep breath and took three steps to the heavy oak smoke stained door guarding Dracarys’s cave. He knocked softly. 

“Mr. Dracarys, I have the information you requested.” 

“Bring it here.” He huffed, smoke from his morning cigar billowing from his lips. Dracarys held a folded Wall Street Journal in one hand and a Cuban in the other. His pointed nose nearly piercing the page as he studied yesterday’s closing numbers. 

Dany approached the hundred-year-old walnut roll top desk. He quietly placed the sheet of deftly curated information in the middle of the empty desktop. Without looking up from the newspaper, Dracarys tapped his cigar in the ashtray and set it down. His arm moved slowly to the middle of his desk and grabbed the one-sheet, pulling it close. He took one more lingering glance at the closing numbers and then shifted his gaze to today’s pre-market trading numbers. He set the newspaper down and picked his cigar back up, pulling heavily on it as he inhaled the numbers. 

This was his language. This was his game. This was his treasure, his hoard. Stocks. Bonds. Options. Shorts. Currency. Numbers. The Dragon of Wall Street. Dracarys sifted and collected them all. He had amassed enough to topple an empire. Some said he was an Empire. Whatever the case, he was untouchable. No longer did he try to figure out which way the market was moving. He made the market move to his will and whims. Others had long since stopped questioning The Dragon. To do so only ever resulted in getting burned. They followed and made money along the way, which of course also served to exponentially increase Dracarys’s wealth. 

Dracarys stood up slowly from his Fratelli Bazzi designed leather armchair, cigar and paper still in hand. He walked slowly to the deeply tinted windows of his corner office. The Dragon’s perch above the city. The sun was barely allowed to seep in. He kept the overhead fluorescents off and used only a single lamp by his desk to illuminate his cave. He lowered the page to his side and puffed on his cigar as he looked down upon his city. He felt as if he owned it all. He breathed fire and smoke came forth. In this moment before the opening bell ring, he used to smoke and smile. He would smile a miserly smile. 

He stood there for that moment. 

That moment turned into a while. 

A while turned into what seemed like an eternity. 

The bell rang. 

The smile never came.  

Without a sound, a thought entered his mind. What was this all for? All the trades, all the backroom deals, all the consorting and hoarding. What was the point? He had gained the whole world, but lost his soul. Another thought followed the first one. He thought of his childhood and his family. 

They had been happy in Romania. They dreamed of flying through the skies. He and his older brothers loved to torment the great stag beetles in the woods outside their hillside village. His older brothers imagined themselves to be the kings of the Peles Castle and it was always his job to protect the kingdom like a dragon, breathing fire on their enemies. But then the economy collapsed and Father Dracarys moved the Family Dracarys to America, to New York City, to look for work. Little Dracarys didn’t understand any of that. All he knew was that he had traded his friends, hills, trees, mountains and the smell of peonies for strangers, highrises, skyscrapers, artificial turf and the smell of marijuana. It was a foreign world. It seemed unconquerable. There were no castles here to command. There were no hills and valleys to protect. 

Those early days were tough. Learning English as a second language was not easy. He was picked on relentlessly for his accent and bony stature. It created a well of animosity and verve in him that had not been there before. It would serve him well. He learned to snarl back and began slowly growing thick scales, which no arrow, barb, or word could penetrate. He developed a resilience that could withstand anything, or so he thought. 

Near the holidays, when he got home from school it was such a relief to speak his native tongue and be greeted by the tantalizing smell of sarmale and mămăligă, minced meat cabbage rolls and corn flour polenta, respectively. It would melt his scales away. For a few moments at least, he was back on the hillside overlooking the glassy river. 

Every day, he rode the subway under Queens with his brothers to their respective schools. PS 122 was the last stop: Astoria/Ditmars Blvd. The darkness and the predictable chaos of those tunnels grew to become a comfort to Little Dracarys. As he got older, he became so familiar with the underground that he knew all the subway routes by heart and even knew several of the subway operators’ names. As he walked to school he would stand over the belching sidewalk grates and imagine himself as The Dragon, who lived and owned the underground tunnels. As The Dragon, he was imperturbable, immense, and impressive. He adopted this persona and the nicknames soon followed. He went from being picked on to being feared. 

But now, The Dragon stood. Alone. Looking out the dark window into his past and into his future. Tired of being feared. Tired of being resilient. Tired of conquering. 

His oldest brother had died of cancer the year before. His other brother had moved to Oklahoma after high school to work on the oil rigs out there. They never heard from him again. Father Dracarys had worked himself to the bone at the shipyard and was in a nursing home, unable to care for himself and unable to be cared for by his family. His mother still cooked sarmale and mămăligă at Christmas, but it wasn’t the same anymore with only the two of them at the table. The family for whom he had tried to build a kingdom was gone. The brothers whose castle he was supposed to guard were gone. What was a dragon to do? 

The massive hoard no longer served a purpose. 

“Dany!” Dracarys called.

“Yes, sir.” Dany said, leaning his head into the doorway. 

“Please transfer all of my accounts to yourself.”

“WHAT?” Dany slipped and stumbled into the cave. “I mean, excuse me, sir? What are you talking about?”

“Dany, how long have you been working for me?” He asked, already knowing the answer. Dany walked toward him, confused. 

“Eleven years, seven months, three days? I think.”

“Dany, you have always been a faithful, hard-working employee. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t trust that you would get something done and do it well. Look, I’m done. I’ve had enough. I’m retiring and I want you to take over my accounts. I’ve got plenty socked away to live like a king the rest of my life.” 

“But Mr. Dracarys…” Dany’s mind was reeling like his clumsy self. 

“No. I’ve made up my mind. I’m going home.” 

“Home, sir?”

“Back to Romania. Transfer the accounts.” He said, the fire in his belly coming back to life. 

Three days later, The Dragon found himself looking down over a silver wing through the dotting of clouds onto the kelly green hills and sparkling crystal rivers of his homeland. His mother was seated next to him with baited breath. His father was seated next to her, with an oxygen tube snaking up from a green tank sitting in the aisle, his nurse on the other side of the aisle. 

There they were. Flying like free creatures over the land, just as they had imagined all those years earlier. A content smile grew upon Dracarys’s face. 

They were home. 

February 16, 2023 19:28

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

7 comments

Elaina F
19:17 Feb 23, 2023

Hey Adam! This is great! I love the coffee imagery!

Reply

Show 0 replies
02:41 Feb 19, 2023

Very good Adam definitely kept me intrigued!

Reply

Adam Young
21:13 Feb 19, 2023

Thanks appreciate it!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
David Bulkeley
21:50 Feb 18, 2023

“A dragon is hard to miss.” Nice.

Reply

Adam Young
21:13 Feb 19, 2023

Thanks for reading!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Tarnisha Tull
15:11 Feb 18, 2023

I absolutely love this. The most excellent blend of fantasy and reality. The imagery and the story are captivating.

Reply

Adam Young
18:33 Feb 18, 2023

Thank you so much!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.