Arach’s shout shocked me into moving and I bolted away from the burning wreckage of what used to be an armored wagon. I just hoped there hadn’t been any people inside. The idea that people might have been killed inside when the explosion of blue flames engulfed the wagon sickened me. I damn near vomited as I tried to run, tears blinding my eyes.
Gotta get away. Gotta get away.
The problem was I didn’t know where I would go. Heck, I didn’t even know if going was the best path. I wasn’t a nature-lover by any stretch of the imagination. Safety had always been found inside where there was running water and heat.
Now I headed out of town toward a forest swathed in misty fog with nothing but the road beneath my feet to indicate my path. The air smelled wet and dank, like the laundry room in my apartment building back home, and I shivered with distaste. Glory, will I never be warm and dry again? I hated winter in western Washington for that reason. It seemed to go on forever and I feared I’d never be warm again.
I entered the trees and an eerie silence enveloped me. I stopped and froze, the only sound my harsh breathing. I spun, looking back the way I’d come, but the only sight I found was more road, more mist, and more trees.
Good glory, it’s like the road from Lord of the Rings and the Nazgul rider. I half-expected some huge cloaked guy to come riding up on a horse bleeding from nasty festering wounds. I tried to listen for pursuers, but my heartbeat had grown so loud, it took all my attention.
Where was Arach? For that matter, where was I?
I gotta get off this road.
If movie magic had taught me anything, no one should be in the middle of a road cutting through a misty forest. Too many things would find and hurt me.
Voices and a silhouette sent me back into motion perpendicular to the road’s path and I leapt down the berm into the leaf detritus left from last year’s fall. I ducked down and tried to make myself as small as possible. Hopeful the mist would hide me well enough to let me escape their notice.
I hid my face in my arms and held my breath. Please don’t find me. Please don’t see me. The clothing I wore had been dark – I hadn’t looked at it too closely – and I hoped it would help keep me concealed.
Seconds passed and my heart thundered, but I kept my face pressed into my arms. Eventually, when nothing happened, my panic receded and I was able to lift my head. The air had grown warmer and the mist had thickened. I could see less than I had before. Sound seemed muted and the light grew dim.
I swallowed hard and strained to see the road above my hiding place. Swirls of fog showed movement, but I couldn’t tell what was there. I bit my lip and wrapped my arms around myself as I watched for danger, hoping I’d been forgotten by whomever chased me.
“She can’t have gone far. Keep searching the woods, but don’t kill her. The Master says we must bring her back alive. Roughin’ up ain’t a problem, but definitely alive.”
Well, that answered if they were after me or not. I tried to decide if hiding was the best course when a whistle grew louder in the chilled air. It reminded me of the sounds of the old World War Two bombs as they dropped on ground targets, and I shot a look at the sky.
“What in the gods’ names is that?”
“Holy fuck! DRAGON!”
Fire bloomed on the road, lighting up the world and throwing shadows among the trees. Men in armor went up like tinder and the screams competed with the roar of the flames.
I watched in horror as they burned, unable to run or heck, even scream. I stood, stupefied at the carnage. Which was why I didn’t see the dragon come back for me and did nothing but shriek when its talons closed around me. It yanked me off my feet and carried me into the misty sky.
That's it for me this month. Check out the flash from the other authors in our crew: