In the Catskills there's a small lake at the head of a stream. The lake didn't have a name as far as I knew. It was perfect for fishing. It didn't have many fish, which made it all the better for drinking a nice, cold beer.
Fishing in the Fairy Tale Realms wasn't as peaceful. The fish insisted on biting entirely too much. Why couldn't they understand I wanted a nice nap along with my cold beer. If I actually had a cold beer. Igloo coolers didn't exist in the Realms, so I took my beer coolish after sinking bottles into the water around my little rowboat.
I had just reached that blissful stage of dozing off when the pole clacked against the railing. I ignored it even when the boat began to turn. Fishing in the Realms was too easy. The fished loved to bite, and could be as big as some game fish in the Atlantic.
The wind gusted, threatening to flip my straw hat up. I caught it before the sun hit more than my cheek. A violent tug on the pole, and then it went slack. That was odd. Must have cost the fish to tear free of the hook like that.
Another gust, and the hat flew off, but the sun didn't hit my face. I opened my eyes to see what had eclipsed the sun. Red-bronze scales covered every inch, including the bat-like wings. Four legs, each tipped in claws the size of a Harley, a long tail that trailed behind with some sort of spikes on the tip. At the other end, a serpentine neck ended in a head far bigger than my boat. Fangs, the same color as the scales extended past the lower jaw while sharp horns jutted straight up from its skull. The eyes, each bigger than me and glistening like black bubbling tar pits, regarded me.
Fear kicked in, but there was no escape, not this close. If I had my 38, I'd have wasted the last two shots in a panic, but it rested in a box underneath my bed.
The dragon slowed its descent, beating its wings more quickly, then sank into the water. The waves rocked my boat. The entire beast sank below the water save for its monstrous head, which came right up to the side of my boat.
Those eyes stared at me, and I could see myself reflected in their black depths. "You are the outsider; the one," its voice at a reasonable volume for its size, "they call the detective."
It wasn't a question, but I nodded anyway.
"I wish for you to help me."
"You've got to be fucking kidding me."
Friday, September 2, 2011
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