"Could we not talk this through?"
Sir Marlon the Quite Polite (King Robert VI had run out of good titles for his knights some time ago) was sure this wasn't the way dragons were suppose to talk. Especially to people who looked like proper knights, with the regulation flowing white cloak (recently laundered), gleaming sword (it was new), and manly and rugged hairstyle (he was a tad confused by this, but had tried to grow his out a bit nonetheless). Admittedly his trembling hands probably didn't help his case, but all dragons, especially enormous ones with evil amber eyes, should know the rules around this sort of situation.
Hoping it was just a misunderstanding on the dragon's part (anything that big was bound to be a little thick), he resolved to try again. "Halt, foul beast," he cried, placing an iron-clad foot on a convenient rock and striking what he hoped was a heroic pose. "I have come to rid the kingdom of your--of your--" he struggled for a word, "--pestilence!"
I was doodling a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. Just like the planes my dad flew. The wings were looking nice, and it was the best sunset I had ever drawn. You should have seen those rudders. Amazing rudders.
And then she smiled at me.
At first, nothing. I was lost in the sky, right along with my Cessna. Its wings spread across the college-ruled notebook paper, the propeller blazing toward my algebra homework.
But there was a double-take. Again, I looked up. She was still smiling. Smiling with those massive green eyes. At me? Of course she was smiling at me, I was the last seat in the back row. But I said nothing. It would have been okay to stay silent, but I stared. At least three, long seconds. I imagined these were like the last three seconds of a kamikaze dive bomb.
The next time Don's really, truly awake again, it's in the early hours of the next morning. He must have been out for the whole day.
He supposes he'd walked back to the hotel, but he doesn't remember. He can sketchily recall, though, stepping into the lobby and being hit by a sudden crippling wave of exhaustion despite the few hours of sleep he'd gotten, stumbling into the lift while the television buzzed loudly with the report of a gang shoot-out on the bayou
He pops out into the dark and silent corridor and buys a few packets from the closest vending machine. His first thought, when he enters his room again and looks over the small amount of luggage that has somehow managed to fling itself everywhere, is that there's no reason to stay anymore.
It takes a long time to pack. It doesn't have to, but Don finds himself putting things in then taking them out again, refolding and rearranging. It almost feels like reluctance.
He wonders if it's all another dream. If what he heard and saw was nothing more than one last flashing nightly vision. If everything will go back to normal once the daylight comes again.
He makes it to the bayou in less than half an hour. The run is done on rote.
There's not even a moment of doubt before he spies the glow on the waterfront, a few hundred yards from where the St John's University back gates open out. He twists his arm to see his watch, and subtracts the hour he's still yet to set.
In the distance, he hears the first beat of a drum. It's deep, resonating, pounding in a steady rhythm that matches the rush of blood in his ears. But it's not loud, not very. It probably can't be, in an urban area like this. A chant starts up, sibilant and undulating, though he can't make out the words.