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Posted on 2007.11.04 at 22:46
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4702 / 50000 words. 9% done!

Okay, I'm still behind on the word count. It's the fourth day, and I'm not even above 5k words yet. Noooo...

By the way, take a look at my profile. It contains some rather... well, not exactly vital things to know about, but it would help to read it just the same. If you want a summary, it's the closest you'll get to it. The profile will be added to from time to time.

Anyway, the next segment, in which the plot pretends to advance, but really doesn't.



“You aren’t exactly being the model perfect guest, you know,” she retorted. “What kind of guest takes over a host’s pillow without asking?”

“My apologies, my dear. But, you see, I’m very tired, and it is physically impossible for me to remove myself from the vicinity of your pillow.”

Ariel wrinkled her forehead and took a long sip of wine. Her head felt dizzy, but it was only the sting of a mind heavy with a clear alertness that she only developed after a few drinks. Whistling, she mentally opened her doors and swallowed back clots of nausea. Her center felt at peace, and Ariel felt ready for anything the dragon throw at her, and ready to shoot back at him.

“You could have just said, ‘I am unable to get up,’ but instead you were long-winded. (“You should talk,” he taunted, but she ignored him.) I should let you know, it’s not very late. Not even midnight. I’m prepared to argue for the property of my pillow for a very long time, if necessary,” she announced. “And, I don’t believe you. I think you’re just lazy.”

“That is true, as well. But unfortunately, I am not trying to spite you.” The newly known male creature dipped his head back in what Ariel realized was a sophisticated, elongated stretch.

“I don’t understand,” Ariel admitted.

“I apologize.”

“I think you’re a liar. No an obnoxious one, but an inconsistent bender of truth.”

“How poetic. A bender of truth? You aren’t the first to call me that splendidiferous title.”

“I think you just made up a word.”

“Maybe.”

There is too much sarcasm in my bedroom, Ariel decided. It was tempting to contribute to the level of sarcasm, but she remembered to calm herself, and recessed back into a state of calm.

“You’re rather small for a dragon, aren’t you?” she couldn’t resist asking.

“Do you think so?” the dragon responded in a mellow, honeyed tone.

Well, Ariel thought. It—I mean, he—is quite considerate in any case.

“Aren’t dragons supposed to be at a little more… fearsome sort of size?” she wondered. “Excuse the personal question. I’ve never met a dragon before, much less one on my pillow.”

“How many dragons do you know if? How many have you seen in person?” he asked.

“I don’t know. I’ve lost count of the ones I’ve seen in movies.”

“I see.”

“I know, I know. I don’t have any right to make assumptions when I know nothing about dragons. But can you blame me for relying on stereotypes? I have nothing else to work with,” Ariel said guiltily.

The dragon said, “Hm,” but in a rattling crow.

“I don’t blame you,” he said.

With that, Ariel took a deep breath and attempted the dangerous. With a hop, she stood up and walked to the head of her bed. The dragon didn’t move at her sudden positioning, not a flex, not a stiffening of the limbs or a flutter. If Ariel still had suspicions of drunken hallucinations or clandestine druggings, they were pushed away now. His body heat radiated off in sheets of warm fuzz, tickling her bare skin and rolling across the cloth of her garments. This was a very real body, one that appeared to be a dragon. Perhaps it was an enchanted, mutated lizard of some sort? That would explain the vocal chords and the unusual appearance. But what kind of lizard spoke like this? It was an intelligent being that Ariel spoke to.

“Aren’t you worried about being stepped on? Or, do you have the ability to fly? I confess, I know nothing about your kind.”

“I’m so portable in this size,” he retorted with a sign. “It’s convenient.”

I think, Ariel thought, that this is the most absurd conversation I’ve ever had. If this is a dream, I wonder what my morning tomorrow will be like.

She moved to sit on her bed, her hips parallel to the edges of her pillow and her legs dangling over the edge of her queen sized mattress. This time, the dragon turned his head along with her course, oval pupils pulsating and irises glowing with specks of gold. A purple flash shimmered down his tail.

Settling herself, Ariel had a realization and dared another question. “Were you following me today?”

“Why do you ask that?” the dragon gurgled.

“You’re as good as anyone else to ask. I think I was being followed by flashes of light as I came home from work, today. And,” Ariel pondered aloud, “Now that I’ve spent so much time in your infinite and wonderful company, I’ve noticed that your scales, if that is what they are, gleam in a rather similar way. It would add up, in a very fictional, novelistic way. I, the unsuspecting heroine, am followed by a mystical being, who comes to warn her of her destiny and the dangers ahead in her life. Does that sound about right?”

“It sounds utterly silly.”

“Well, so what’s the real story then? What’s the reality of our little situation?”

“At the moment, it’s none of your business.”

Ariel pouted, against her better judgment. “I think you sitting on my pillow makes it my business.”

“Then you’ll have to figure me, my dear.”

“But were you following me? Were you?”

“It would be convenient for me to say yes, so shall we assume that I was following you?”

Ariel thought, I shall be angry tomorrow, in the morning. For now, it is the weekend, and I need to rest, to relax, to stay calm. It’s my job to be calm, to stay centered. Work now, even though you’re not being paid.

“I’m going to go get a cup of water,” Ariel told the dragon. “I want to go to sleep as well, so after I finish my cup of water, I will go to the bathroom. When I come back, I will want my pillow back, and I would greatly appreciate it if you would please relinquish my pillow.”

Perhaps Ariel was just drunk, but the dragon seemed to smile. His nostrils flared up, but in the shape of amusement, and bladed teeth sparkled in the electric light.

“All you needed to do was ask politely,” he replied, wrinkling her pillowcase as he stretched out his claws.

“Thank you,” Ariel said politely.

Clutching her glass, she scooped up the wine bottle neck. She took a quick glance back at the dragon, who had laid his head down on his hunches, looking for all purposes and appearances like he was preparing to fall asleep.

The short walk to the kitchen was too ordinary. There were no quick bursts of light, no sparks of color, and no sudden epiphanies of destiny as she half-hoped for. Duza’s paintings along the living room walls were stationary; the furniture merely stayed in place. The apartment floor boards creaked a little, but then again, they always did. Duza waited for the dream to follow her out of her bedroom, but the apartment persisted in its reality, in its stubborn insistence on remaining normal. (Even personifying the apartment and its intentions didn’t make the experience of walking any less lacking in magical atmosphere. Imagination fails Ariel tonight.)

She downed two mug-fulls of water, and the walk back was just as uneventful as the one away from the bedroom.

When she crept back into the room, the dragon still lay on the surface of her pillow. She changed into cotton, striped pajamas, wondering vaguely if stripping in the presence of a mystical, but very male dragon would be deemed improper but too tired to care. Tossing her clothes on the floor, she turned around, and only to face a dragon-shaped imprint on her pillow. Ariel blinked, and felt the radiating body warmth coating the top of her head and rolling down to her hair tips. Looking up, Ariel’s mouth gaped slightly as the dragon winked at her from the ceiling, his limbs curled along the painted panels and his neck extended at a perfect right angle from the ceiling. It was a peculiar experience, staring at the reptilian, angular face, upside down. Two rose of shark teeth glittered, and the head rose, curling away in between two front claws.

In the end, Ariel ended up sleeping in her own bed, her head cradled by her very own pillow, her blanket kept warm by a dragon whose tail swished back and forth along the ceiling, soft sparks of fire trailing with each movement, like shooting stars along a white cloud.

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