Contemporary Fantasy

Gods it was hot. Sweaty; humid; panting; hot. She huffed a breath in the dense air, surveying her surroundings briefly. There were trees, trees, and some more trees, with the added addition of moss, rocks, rotten and fallen trees, and shrubbery that would've scratched at her ankles if she weren't wearing her favorite hiking shoes. It had rained recently, which made every step squelching and the air chilled enough that she seemed to breath like a dragon.

The world wasn't the Winter wonderland that it usually was in December, but if it had snowed heavily then she would've had to cancel her trip. Erin - the short, brown-haired and brown-eyed, all around average person - had planned for a week up in a nice cozy cabin, allowing her silence and a getaway from the common bustle of the city.

Erin groaned, starting to walk up the hill again. Her backpack was so heavy, it might've been filled with rocks for the weight and strain it put on her back and shoulders. Even if it was her own fault for packing such heavy things, she knew she would be thankful for it during the long week with no access to internet or electricity.

By the time the sun was setting on her first day of the week, she had finally made it.

Erin trudged up onto the porch, slid the keys into the lock, and dropped all of her things carelessly to the floor. She set about unpacking only the necessities for the first night before starting a small fire in the woodstove.

Of course, being as much of a busybody as she was, she poked around in the cabinets and drawers and closets to see if their was anything interesting. She came up only with a single pressed flower, which had been left in the nightstand of the bedroom. Erin almost smiled at it before setting it in the pocket of her yoga pants so that it stuck out nicely.

The rest of the night, she curled up by the fire and read off of the flickering light, which made it very difficult to read. Years ago, this had been the only way to read at night - so she was determined to not give up, if only for the aesthetic feeling it gave her.

The bed was hard and cold when she slid in for the night, sleep claiming her tired body quickly.

The next day, she was far too sore to do anything. Conveniently, there was a window above the bed she slept in, so for the rest of the day, she only read and snacked on various foods she found in the pantry.

By the third day of her stay, she was already getting bored. Reading was nice, of course, but doing it constantly in the quiet was too strange for her. So, despite her reservations for being nothing but a hibernating bear, she set out on a hike around the cabin.

She went with nothing but herself this time, however, and the walk was relatively pleasant and relaxing. Erin took lots of pictures whenever she could, finding it calming to sit and find the best angle, the best filter, and the best backgrounds for the items she chose. She'd never known that photography could be fun, but perhaps it was just her boredom making everything seem interesting.

Erin slid close to a spiderweb, one with water droplets glistening on the silken strands. She took the picture, and was flipping through filters when she noticed something in the background of the picture - behind the web.

They were so small, she had thought they were nothing but more raindrops on the web; but they were a maroon color, and she wasn't wearing any red.

Erin glanced up with a frown. And made eye contact with the other being.

Its eyes flickered as it realized she was looking straight at it, and she scrambled away in panic. The thing that stepped out...Erin gasped.

It was both dragon and lizard, with smoky gray scales, tiny wings, and a curled snout that made it look like it smiled constantly. It made a screeching sound, the deadly-looking rows of sharp and tiny teeth on full display as it did. However, its scales flickered between colors as it slid along the forest floor towards Erin with another screech.

She kicked up dirt as she pushed herself away and stumbled into a standing position. Before she could run, the lizard-dragon-thing was on her leg, the claws digging into fabric and skin. Erin screamed and tried swatting at it, dancing around crazily to try and shake it off.

It hung on tightly and only let go once it grabbed ahold of the pressed flower in her pocket. Then it simply...flew down on small wings that flapped gracefully like any pixie or faerie.

Erin froze as it did, watching in disbelief. What sort of creature was it?

She didn't care; she was getting out of there and quick.

The cabin was a once-more welcome sight to see as she scrambled inside and locked the door, closing any and all windows she had opened that morning to get some fresh air.

She was shaking, she realized. Adrenaline still pumped through her blood and made her heart skitter uselessly, her pants shallow and short. All Erin could do for several minutes was stand and think about what had just happened. A lizard - or dragon - had just...taken a flower from her? She couldn't even say that it had attacked her, because it hadn't even hurt her besides the brief moments that its claws had dug in too far.

She changed into warmer, cozier clothing, and noticed small puncture wounds along one of her legs as if in answer to the thought. Erin wasn't sure she wanted to stay anymore; not with the chance of encountering that thing again.

"I've already paid," she said, perhaps her first words in days. Yes, she had already paid. She couldn't leave now, for it would be a waste of her hard-earned money.

Determined to be okay with her surroundings, she lit a fire and made herself a cup of cocoa before settling in front of it. The drink pooled in her stomach nicely, the fire warming her crisp skin.

When she awoke the next morning, the fourth day of her week, she found herself staring into a pair of dark red eyes, a heavy weight on her chest.

Erin screamed the same time the lizard thing screeched, and both jumped away in panic. She accidentally dragged the bedsheets with her, and she held them up protectively as she cowered in a corner.

"Back off! Go! Now! Go!" she shouted sharply, gesturing to the window that was now open above the bed. The lizard only flew up onto the bed and settled down with a huff, eyeing her suspiciously.

"No no no no no no no!" Erin dashed forward, blankets in her hand, and captured the lizard thing, wrapping it firmly in the folds of fabric before rushing to the window. She dumped it out before shutting the window firmly and wedging the latch so it couldn't open.

She stared only for a few seconds to make sure it was gone before she went into the kitchen with a strangled sigh.

Now, feeling more frustrated then scared, Erin made the bed and set about getting her breakfast going and a fire started from the coals of the night before. The thing was only a small lizard that hadn't hurt her and didn't seem to want to hurt her, but she knew that it might be very capable of doing so if she angered it enough, she realized.

Erin shook the thought from her mind ruefully, setting into a book with furtive glances to all the windows every once in a while. She was finally settling in when she heard a creak from somewhere in the cabin, and she jumped to the offense with a vase full of fake flowers.

She crept around the house before finding the source of the noise, and the culprit.

The lizard sat on the kitchen counter, curled snout smiling at her as if this were all one big joke to it. Its tail curled before the wings set it flying towards Erin.

She screamed and held the vase up protectively, feeling the impact of the reptile as it latched onto the lip of it and collapsed against the fake flowers. Erin opened her eyes slowly, watching for what the lizard would do.

It chewed on the petal of one of the fake flowers before letting it go, the leftovers shredded and covered in saliva. The thing went from petal to petal to petal, but it spat all of them out.

Erin frowned. It ate...flowers?

It had eaten the pressed flower she'd had, one she had picked up from the previous renters. Had they known about it? Was that why it had been left behind?

And of course, in Winter, hardly any flowers grew in the area.

"Are you hungry?" she asked it, and it blinked at her before screeching and flying to another vase full of fake flowers. Erin crept around the house as it tried to digest the plastic, searching for anything real and alive to give it so it'd leave her alone.

She finally found a much smaller pot of flowers in her room, and she plucked one of the flowers carefully before going back into the main room.

Palm flat and open, she made beckoning sounds. "Here. C'mere little guy. Look what I got," she said.

The lizard darted towards her, startling her even as it landed smoothly on her hand and gobbled up the flower. Before she could stop it, it climbed up her arm - slapping her in the face with a wing as it settled around her neck like a snake. She glared at it even as it made a soft cooing sound, so at contrast with its unearthly shrieks from before.

When Erin tried shooing it outside for the night, it had only screeched that she called it lizard and then obliged grumpily.

However much relief she felt that it was gone was short lived when she awoke the next morning, her fifth day, to it scratching on the door like a dog. She let it in, showed it the pot of flowers, and set about her day like usual.

Erin soon started calling it Spring because that was when all the flowers bloomed and when the lizard-dragon-thing would have the best feast. She walked around with it on her shoulder, let it sleep on her lap, and fed it flowers from the small supply she had in the flower pot. When they ran out - Spring seemed to eat a lot, or at least want to eat a lot - Erin went out hiking and managed to show it places to eat while also gathering some for the remaining days she had in the cabin.

And, on her last day at the renting place, she almost walked out with Spring on her shoulder and her backpack of things on her back. In fact, she was well on her way down the mountain when she realized that Spring wasn't hers to keep, and she shouldn't take the lizard to the city.

Erin took a break, setting her stuff down before managing to lead Spring away.

She crouched down and let the lizard eat a flower. "Spring, it's time for you to go home."

The lizard blinked red eyes at her, scales shifting in colors as it slipped along dirt and rock towards her. It screeched.

"Oh c'mon, don't say that," Erin replied playfully. "I'll be back next year, maybe sooner. I'll see you again."

Spring screeched again and set off into the trees, wings humming with sound. Erin watched it leave with a small smile before heading the rest of the way down and climbing into her car.

January 17, 2021 02:50

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22:12 Jan 23, 2021

"Spring in Winter" was very well done, I found that your story held many similes within it, all of them used in ways that helped to bring the story to life. I have got to say that I was surprised by Spring, you did a wonderful job leading us in one direction, a spider, and then abruptly turning another way, with whatever it is that Spring is. I also found that you used a wide range of descriptive words, but at times I feel as if there were one too many in specific sentences. Kind of continuing with my last statement, your transitioning/conne...


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J. Storbakken
04:18 May 29, 2021

How lovely. Reminds me of all the great books with those memorable animal characters.


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Creed .
21:11 Jan 23, 2021

Cool! The creature was an amazing twist. Good job!


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