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A Birthday Story - Mark & His Dragons

I'm not even sure how I got the idea for this (probably some wacky idea to overcome writer's block), but I thought it'd be fun to write a short story as a birthday gift for my friends. It's going pretty well! This is the first one I wrote, for one of my oldest friends, Mark. He loves dragons, and his dogs, and his wife. I figured he'd get a kick out of this and he did. We're thinking of starting up a writing collective in which each participant contributes a piece of the story... I think it would be a blast. Enjoy! :-)

Mark & His Dragons

Mark awoke from a deep slumber to the sound of his beloved dog, Eli, shaking and barking with uncharacteristic urgency. “Quiet, Eli… Go back to sleep.” Mark mumbled at the agitated creature, pushing him off the bed and trying not to wake Jessica beside him. But the loyal canine would have none of it. Bleary-eyed and disoriented, Mark arose from the warmth of sleep, eager to tame the beast.

“What’s wrong, boy?” Mark inquired halfheartedly. To him, this day was like any other: another Wednesday of work awaited him in only a few hours.

But this day was not like any other day...

Eli continued his urgent shaking and barking, eager to command his human friend’s attention. He trotted toward the glass door in their dining room, then back to Mark, then back to the door again. Mark was confused and worried. What could be wrong with the persistent pooch? Eli bowed down and whimpered, staring purposefully out the glass. Finally, Mark relented and followed the creature to the door. What awaited him there would change his life.

In the distance, a fireball erupted and through the trees, a massive shape stirred. There were screams. There was chaos. And in the breaking light of dawn, the silhouettes of winged creatures took shape above the tree line. What on Earth was happening? A thunderous roar echoed throughout the land and Mark knew. Dragons!

Not a moment later, a legendary creature burst from the heavens to touch down in the yard with a monstrous thud. The grass Mark had so lovingly trimmed just the day before was ruined and singed beneath the creature’s great clawed feet. Its barbed tail scraped the ground, tossing clumps of dirt and sod into the air. Ancient trees cracked and fell beneath the gusty assault of its incredible wingspan and the air was burned by the fiery breath exhaled from between its fanged jaws.

No, today was not like any other day. Today was a day for which he’d prepared all his life. This was the day he would finally put his skills to the test. “Happy birthday to me…” Mark whispered to himself, a wide, satisfied grin spreading across his lips.

The scaly beast noticed him then, and stepped toward the house. Growling now, Eli would have none of it. He stared at the invader and as the enormous creature’s hot nostrils approached the glass, it melted toward the floor. The flimsy barrier gone, Eli barked at the dragon with unmatched ferocity and Mark knew it was time to move. A furious roar exploded from behind them as they fled, shaking the house to its foundation.

Mark scooped up his beloved friend and made for the house’s basement, screaming, “Jess! Basement!” again and again with all the energy he could muster. In a moment, his wife was beside him, racing down the steps into the dark space below their home. They tried the lights, but flicking the switch did nothing. Jess lit one candle after another as Mark toppled a pile of cardboard boxes and kicked them aside. They looked at each other as Mark uncovered a large, black case, as tall as his thigh.

“Is it time?” Jess asked. The unmistakable flap of gigantic wings shook the house and the mythical creature roared again. Jess did not flinch. She simply raised her eyes to the ceiling.

“It’s time.” Mark replied, eyes blazing with serious purpose.

Mark unlocked the case. Within awaited their most prized possessions: two sets of majestic silver armor, inscribed with runes from a time long past; two silver spears, their shafts bound by blackened leather; and two broad silver shields, each illustrated with the visage of a dragon’s skull and scorched around their edges.

Mark and Jess locked eyes again and smiled. Happy birthday, indeed.