In the hope of doing something different, I decided today to share a scene from my novel MEGAN. In 2009 it was honored in an international novel-writing competition which led to its publication with a new press out of Canada. It can be found on amazon.com here. It is also available as an ebook and audiobook by contacting the publisher or as an eBook from GooglePlay here.
MEGAN is the story of Megan Wane, an imaginative soul who lives in two different worlds. In the real world, she is an event planner at a large firm, dealing with a micromanager and angry fellow employees; in her imaginary world she is a princess and secret superhero who is on a mission to save her world which was turned to blackness. Sometimes her real world slips into her imagination. In this scene Princess Megan and her two companions meet a terrifying and strangely bureaucratic dragon.
“Greetings. Hello? Over here. Hi!” The great green dragon was standing in the middle of a large open field. The field (situated where the woods once were) was surrounded by yellow torches. All of the torchlight seemed to coalesce on the dragon, making the beast look larger in the contrast of shadow and the brightness. It was the first dragon Princess Megan had ever seen and it astounded her.
The dragon really didn’t need to direct their attention to itself. The beast was hard to miss, no matter how much the trio might have wanted to pretend that they didn’t see it. It was standing on its hind legs and was wearing a pair of thick reading glasses and a red sweater-vest. It was also holding a clipboard in its right claw and a pencil was positioned behind its left ear. “Are you Princess Megan and her two servants?” the Dragon asked when they had approached closer.
“Well, I wouldn’t say ‘servant’.” the High Summoner said, annoyed. “I have a more important title than that.”
The Princess did not take notice of the High Summoner but responded to the Dragon. “Yes, that is who we are.” She tried to not sound scared, but still her voice seemed tentative to her own ears.
“I mean, I do get paid quite well,” the High Summoner sighed and then looked at Orion as if to convince him of his importance. “Quite, quite well.”
Orion frowned at the High Summoner and turned his attention back to the beast. “And I’m a shoemaker,” Orion said. “I’ve my own business and I sell my own wares.”
“But he only makes the left shoe,” the High Summoner pointed out.
“Yes, that’s right, I—why is that important?” Orion demanded.
The Dragon smiled a wide, toothy grin. “Good, I’ve been expecting you.” It looked down at its clipboard and began to read. “Welcome to the trap. I have some points I need to go through with you. This will only take a minute, I promise.” It coughed out a little flash of flame, and a corner of its clipboard caught on fire, but the Dragon promptly put it out). The creature smiled again and intoned, “This is the Valley of Doom.”
“Not a nice name,” the High Summoner mumbled. “Not at all.”
“Valley? I thought this was the Forest of Doom?” Orion asked, raising his hand in question.
“I’ll explain that in just a moment, if you will give me a chance.” The monster cleared its throat and resumed, “It will be here that you will meet your death.” It glanced up, smiled, and then looked back down at the clipboard. The Dragon paused as it studied the sheet to find its place. Once it had, it continued, “As you may notice, to the left and right of you there are no trees.” It waved its arms dramatically, first to the left and then to the right, to emphasize the vastness and emptiness of the field. “They have been carefully removed and replanted elsewhere to allow your death to be as easy for you as possible.”
“How does that make it easier?” Orion asked.
“It removes the potential for protection and hiding,” the High Summoner replied. “Now please don’t interrupt anymore.”
The Dragon nodded at the High Summoner. “May I continue? Okay then, please be assured they will be properly replanted in the Valley of Doom upon the completion of your destruction.” the Dragon read from its clipboard
“Well, I guess that’s good to hear,” Orion moaned to himself.
“Do you mind?” the Dragon asked. It was resisting showing its annoyance. “I have a series of points I must go through before I can kill you. If you keep interrupting, you will just continue to delay the inevitable end to your lives, and, really, who wants that?”
“Is it seriously asking us that question?” Orion asked his two companions. Neither responded.
Megan stayed silent. She had not spoken since they had found the dragon in the middle of the Valley waiting for them and had acknowledged to it who they were. She believed she could beat the dragon—she had taken on mighty foes before, though only as the Great Defender, and where could she safely change into her magical outfit? There were no trees to hide behind, and she really could not ask everyone to turn around. The words of the dragon only flew past her ears as she raced to think of what she should do.
“As the bringer of your death, I, the evil dragon, will do my best to make it as un-painful as possible.” the Dragon continued. “But I have been known for eating my victims alive.” It looked up from the clipboard and clearly spoke off-script. “Actually, burnt a little, and still squirming…well, is quite lovely.” It smacked its lips and then went back to the clipboard. “We’re sorry for the inconvenience your death will bring you. It is not our intention to make your life more difficult, just to end it.”
“We?” Megan spoke up. She spoke loudly and clearly. “Who are we?”
“I’m sorry?” the Dragon asked. It removed its glasses. “I don’t understand your question, Princess.”
“You said ‘we are sorry.’ Who are ‘we’?”
The Dragon smiled falsely and put its glasses back on. “Please save your questions for the end of the presentation and death. All questions can be answered then. That is the scheduled Q & A, okay? Okay. ”
“But what if it’s an important question?” Orion asked. “I think the Princess has a great question. It’s not as if we can really ask after we’re killed.”
The High Summoner tapped Orion on the shoulder and whispered to him. “The Great Book of War is very strict on this. You don’t interrupt anyone with questions while they are talking to you about future battle. Especially after they’ve asked for no questions.”
“Even when they are planning your death?”
“Well, it doesn’t go into detail. The Great Book of War can be vague at points.”
“Sounds like a smart book to me,” Orion grumbled.
“Can we at least have a moment, to prepare ourselves?” Megan asked.
The Dragon’s face fell into a frown. “Well, I am on a schedule… I guess I can award you a few minutes when I’m finished talking.” It coughed out a little red flame again and turned back to its clipboard. “Remember, victims, that death is only an ending and part of the chain of life that…” It looked up and smiled. “I think we can skip this part without getting in trouble.” It turned over the page. “While your physical remains will be eaten, please be assured that your goods and supplies will be returned to your home along with a letter to your families apologizing for the problems that this might cause them.”
“That sounds nice,” Orion sarcastically replied. “How long do we have to deal with this?”
“Just a few more minutes,” the Dragon sighed. “And, might I add, I would get through this much more quickly if there were fewer interruptions. Ahem, we’d like to remind you that dragons are almost indestructible and have incredibly long lives. The dragon (me) has been chosen from an employee pool of numerous great candidates. We believe it to be the best trained fighter, the most ruthless and brutal in our organization.” It looked up. “I’m sorry I had to read that. I’m embarrassed by flattery but they requested it be stated. It’s very nice of them, don’t you think?”
“Congratulations to you,” Orion mumbled.
The High Summoner elbowed Orion to hint that he should be silent.
“No, I won’t be quiet, it’s planning to kill us!”
“Yes, that is true, but that doesn’t give you the okay to be rude.” The High Summoner sighed.
“You don’t think killing us is rude?”
Megan stepped forward. “Do we get our minute to prepare now?”
The Dragon smiled awkwardly and looked down at its clipboard. It scanned through a few more pages and then looked back up. “Yes, I think we can move ahead now to stage two. The rest isn’t mandatory. It mostly has to do with the legal ramifications of this transaction and the limitations on suing in the event of such a death since I’m classified as either a wild beast or monster depending upon which jurisdiction you choose to present your case. Unless you want to hear the information?”
“No, I think we’ll be fine.” Megan replied.
The High Summoner gasped. “Princess, it could buy us some time.”
“Could we have five minutes?” she asked the Dragon.
The Dragon looked at its watch. “Okay, it shall begin now.”
Megan quickly grabbed her two companions and pushed them together in front of her.
“What is this?” the High Summoner asked. “If you are trying to get me to hug Orion, I will not.”
“Quiet,” Megan whispered, “I need you to block me from the Dragon.”
“You’re going to use us as a shield?” the High Summoner exclaimed. “Princess! I…I am… speechless.”
“That would be a first,” Orion grumbled.
“No, not a shield from the dragon’s flames,” Megan sighed. She got on her knees, pulled off her bag from around her shoulder and began by withdrawing her sword. “I need to change.” She pulled out the Great Defender’s mask, cape, and sword.
“Princess!” the High Summoner exclaimed. “Wherever did you get those? Won’t the Great Defender be upset?”
“I’m the Great Defender.” Princess Megan sighed, and as she tied the cape around her neck, her clothes magically changed into the Great Defender’s uniform. She put the mask on her face. “I have always been the Great Defender.” With the application of the mask, her voice quickly deepened to become that of the famed hero.
The High Summoner exclaimed even louder than before at the change.
Orion only smiled. “I knew it!”
“If the Dragon knew I would be changing into my disguise and getting my magic sword, it would never have allowed us this time. Please act like you’re crying while blocking me from its sight.”
The High Summoner and Orion both looked at each other and immediately started to pretend to weep in each other’s arms.
“Ah, you have two minutes left,” the Dragon said loudly and with a hint of concern. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but please try not to cry too much. It has a bad effect on the meat. I don’t know why, it just does.”
Megan pulled her singing sword out of its sheath and gripped it firmly. She looked up at her companions. “When I start to fight it,” she said in her deep voice, “I want you both to run to a safe distance. If I die, I want you to try and escape. Get back to the Kingdom and tell the King. He will need to send out some of his best knights to take our place. Prosperity must be saved! Always remember the mission. Do you both understand? You can’t take revenge on the Dragon, you must think of the kingdom and bring additional forces.”
The High Summoner nodded. Orion looked upset at the idea. “I…I won’t leave you,” Orion stammered out.
“You won’t be leaving me, my favorite shoemaker.” She smiled and got up from her knees. She place her hand on his shoulder. “If it kills me, I’ll already be gone. My body would be nothing more than an empty shell. If you work to save the kingdom, you’re doing what my heart desires and that would mean more, much more than a wasted death, which is what it would be if you were to try to take my place. Do you understand?”
Orion was shocked by the change the magic had on her. She looked so much bigger to him now, so different. He reluctantly nodded. A tear was starting to run down his cheek.
“Don’t worry about me.” She looked into his eyes and winked. “Now get ready to run.” She bent down, poised to jump. “One…two…three!”
The Great Defender hurdled over her two companions with sword ready and drawn and Orion and the High Summoner immediately took off running. The Dragon gasped. “The Great Defender? How did you get here? I didn’t see you on my agenda. This is quite irregular. I don’t know if I have room in my schedule for this battle. Could we try to schedule something for a later date?” the Dragon paused and looked at the two running away. “Just a moment, where is the Princess?”
Orion stopped once he’d reached a good distance and turned to watch. The High Summoner pulled at his sleeve to urge him to continue running, but Orion was not going to move any further. He couldn’t leave his princess alone.
The Great Defender smiled at the Dragon and ran forward. The Dragon threw down its clipboard and began to shoot fireballs from its mouth at her. “This change in the schedule, you must understand, I will have to report!” it said between fireballs.
The Great Defender did not reply. Instead, she just continued to run as she dodged, flipped and rolled out of the way of the flames directed at her. When she made it closer to the dragon she bounded up, up, up into the air and was about to swing her sword at its neck when the dragon pushed her back with its right arm.
She landed with a thud on the ground.
The Dragon smiled wickedly, and instantly exhaled a giant blue stream of fire at her.