Do you remember Dragon’s Star from Red Rose press? Sci-Fi paranormal fourson with dragons? I am almost finished the last installment… I know, took me long enough! LOL Here is the introduction…
She trembled as she cowered in the corner, praying against all hope that the scabs chasing her would not see where she had taken to hiding.
Her back ached and her head pounded, but it was her overwhelming fear that overrode the physical discomforts and helped to make her so miserable. It was the fear of the knowing what was chasing her that terrified her so.
She was lucky to escape their first notice alive, and she knew it. What they would do to her if they caught her? The thought was horrifyingly unthinkable. So she huddled deeper into her corner, bending and contorting her feverish body so that it melded with the shadows, hiding all and offering her the illusion of protection. This physical camouflage was nothing new to her. She had perfected hiding in plain sight when she was but a youngling.
Out here in the desert lands, you either learned to conform or you were set out for the scabs.
Even hiding, the sound of the many scurrying feet heading in her direction caused her to panic. Her heart leapt in her chest, and her breathing rapidly increased to the point where she was in danger of hyperventilating and passing out on the rocky ground.
Remain calm, she thought to herself as she forced herself to calm down, to take shallow breaths, to use her mind and think. There has to be a way out of this.
But her mind went blank. She could do nothing but stare wide-eyed into the dark, listening with building terror as they drew closer and closer.
I don’t want to die, she thought as her trembling hands clenched into fists of impotent fury.
She was not ready to die! Death was so…so final! She was scared of that unknown more than anything else.
She forced her mind to stop spiraling down in that morbid cycle. It would drive her mad. If she had to die, she would face it honorably. But that was very cold comfort. Still, she would try to face it honorably, with a decided lack of whimpering and cowering. She knew she had to do this, but did she possess the strength?
As the clicking sounds of the inevitable drew closer, small whimpers began to unconsciously escape her mouth with each breath. Suddenly, she realized that she had no time to find her bravery. Suddenly, it was too late.
As she watched, paralyzed in sheer terror, a long muzzle and a pair of glowing yellow eyes peered into the shadows inches in front of her face.
Losing control, she opened her mouth and a scream of pure terror filled the air.
Through eyes so wide the whites dominated the pupils, she watched as the creature blinked twice then opened its mouth to reveal a gaping maw filled with razor sharp teeth.
She was going to die!
Fear created a metallic wash in the back of her throat and her heart felt as if it was sliding up her chest and out of her mouth!
She stared as that dark cavern of a mouth drew closer and closer and then…then…
Then it yawned.
The thing that was staring at her with those evil yellow eyes yawned as if it were bored!
Her shrieks stopped mid-echoing-scream as she realized that the thing was not tearing into her, rending her body to shreds.
She blinked, fascinated by what this thing was doing. Was it a scab? Was it here to feast on her still warm innards while she screamed in sour rending pain and begged for the release of death? Was it really yawning again?
“Are we through?” it hissed at her.
She stared wide-eyed as it peered closely at her, raising one eyebrow in her direction.
“Are-aren’t you going to…to eat me?” she stammered, her body still trembling with fear.
“Maybe…” it drawled. “But only if you ask nicely,” it replied and began to rise.
And rise, and rise, and rise!
“Gods!” she gasped as the thing towered over her.
It was as big as a house!
It snorted once, a plume of white smoke flowing from it’s left nostril as it again arched one eyebrow at her.
“Not quite,” it leered as it swiftly lowered its head to peer at her again.
With its long neck easily bent to her level, she could see its eye was easily as large as her whole head.
Gods, but she never even noticed it’s sheer size when she had first glanced at it.
Now she stood, watching this…this thing as it stepped back from the shadows and exposed itself in the dim light of the lowering suns.
It was white: blinding bright white that seemed to reflect the light around it.
It’s serpentine body looked scaled, yet soft as it again rose to its full height and shuddered. All at once, goosier wings exploded from its back and it lowered itself to its front…legs.
She blinked as she realized that it had been standing on its rear legs, balancing perfectly as it seemed to ready itself for something.
“Are you coming?” it asked politely, turning to look at her yet again.
“What…” she gasped as she slowly rose to her feet. What was this creature?
“You have wings?” it asked politely.
“Wings?” she stammered as the ache in her back increased, making her wince and clutch at her hips.
“I can smell you,” he hissed again, its brow wrinkling in…consternation? “You are almost ripe for the plucking.”
“Plucking!” she gasped. It was her total lack of interest in plucking that had gotten her cast out into the desert lands into the first place! She had never felt the desire to reproduce like the other women. Her refusal to let a man choose her for the ritual was what had gotten her into this nightmare to begin with.
Not that she was a stranger to trouble…after all, a little foundling child had to accept whatever lot life delivered to her. And usually she was quite good at obeying her adoptive father. But to mate with his first son? The barbarian? The bathless wonder? That was too much for anyone to ask of any female.
So she found herself pulled out of her sickbed and paraded before the council. Justice was swift and unexpected.
Because several men on the council had been refuted at her hands, they sought revenge the best way they could.
So now she had an aching back, no home to go to, the threat of scabs picking at her bones, and this…this thing wanted to pluck her!
“What are you?” she gasped as the pain in her back nearly bent her double.
“Have your people taught you nothing? Who is your family? Why must I need travel so far to find my mate?” it asked almost absently.
“Family? Travel? MATE!”
“Mate,” the thing sighed, as it seemed to look to the heavens for guidance. Shaking its head sadly, it said, “And the young ones used to be better trained than this. What is the world coming to?”
“Mate!” she shrieked again. “What are you?”
“Um…your mate.” he replied after a moment of thought.
“Your blood mate, woman! And I have searched long and hard for you! If I had not picked up on your distress, you would still be lost to me.”
“My distress?” Was this huge, walking, house-sized thing trying to be sarcastic? Was it playing with her? Was this all a big joke? “You are the one who is distressing me right now!”
“Well, I think that I am the better choice when it’s between me and those twelve legged creatures who are on your trail right now.”
“Twelve…” As her words eased off, she realized the she could hear the clicking and the shrieking sounds of the scabs. They were coming for her.
She stared at the creature, which although fearsome and quite large, had yet to show any desire to eat her, and then in the direction of that nerve wrecking sound. Which was the lesser of the two evils?
“Okay! Let’s go, mate!” she said as she looked around to see if the clicking things were within biting distance.
“So when the scavengers come calling, then you acknowledge me as your mate,” the thing huffed.
“Could we hurry this along?” she spoke swiftly as she stared over her shoulders, ignoring the sarcasm flowing from the…the Mate thing. “Argue later. Get me out of here now!”
With a sigh, the creature looked over her shoulders at the approaching menace and then back towards her.
“What is your name?”
“I don’t have one!” she cried, her voice rising in pitch, urgent with every word.
“They call me Girl!”
“Well, we have to do better than that.” it snorted.
“Please…” she cried. The scabs were getting closer!
“Okay! I’ll think about it as we travel to our new home.”
“Fine!” she shrieked, as the clicking grew louder. “Just get me out of here!”
“Gladly, Mate!” the creature snickered then lowered itself to the ground. “I think I will call you Shrill. Shrill… It seems to fit!”
But she said nothing as the first of the scabs rounded the corner; antenna waving, mandibles clicking, their many eyes shining like new death.
Too late, she thought. The hope she had felt growing in her heart swiftly dying.
And then the creature smiled.