"Too weird... frightening even...I don't like it.
Angelo, if you never chopped off his hand, who did?" Marco said, in
his thick Italian accent. "WHO DID?" The Mafia guy repeated louder
still, and sounding scared
When I entered the office he had tapped the national
'SUN' newspaper laid out in front of him. His face remained the
colour of alabaster as he looked at me. I scratched my head, trying
to maintain a puzzled look on my face. Years of playing poker
helped with the deception.
"Beats me Marco, I killed him like you said to, him
stealing cocaine from you, and all that. But I know nothing…about
the hand...and the blood thing. Maybe the police…they always know
more than we do. I tell you all I did was loop a rope around his
neck and push him out of the window. Only made him famous by being
on the news on television."
I left a worried Marco still staring at the
headlines; he was unaware I lied. Sure, I killed Cooper. I also
chopped off his hand because I needed it for my plans. Big
It was my underling, Joe from Oxford, who first put
the idea in my head. We'd been talking about making money-using
magic and then this scheme cropped up. I guess money is my god and
I wanted a bank balance to prove it. Like now.
"My witch-mother knows how to make a dragon claw
from the hand of a dead man," Joe explained. "All we do then is
light the candle stuck in the claw and everybody falls asleep. In
the old days thieves robbed houses this way. For money she'll make
you a dragon claw. It is just like the infamous 'Hand of Glory',
except around this part of the country we call it the 'dragon
claw.' Are you game to give it a try? It is quite safe to use. She
says you will be protected by witchcraft. Can you get the hand of a
Two months later the dragon claw arrived. It was
old, black and crinkle-cut looking after being treated with so
many mixtures and preservatives. I was fascinated and couldn't
take my eyes off the red candle gripped by the dragon claw. The
treated skin from Cooper's hand was stretched over persimmon wood
and smelt of pentatonic acid. I also smelt traces of tar and
"Light the candle, mutter the words; everybody
sleeps," Joe explained. "It always works and you have the umbrella
of witchcraft around you for protection. It's even safer than
I felt wonderful. Ten days later I flew Swiss Air
with Marco to transfer a Mafia bank account. Naturally I took the
On the return to London I took the claw with me to
the toilet at about 2 in the morning. I was brimful with nervous
energy as I lit the red candle.
Flames shot up followed by a strange aromatic smell
as I muttered the sacred words of darkness. Slate black images shot
with splinters of white whizzed by my open eyes, testing my
perception. So surreal! I saw content I'd only ever seen in a
nightmare before. Now I saw the images and remembered them, sights
straight out of Hell.
I came out of the toilet to find everybody acting
dead. I couldn't even wake Joe. So it worked. I punched the air
with delight. In minutes I opened Marco's briefcase taking out all
Excitement. So easy or what? I collected the dragon
claw from the toilet, returning it to my case. I knew now all I
needed to do was just wait until the plane landed in London.
I'm so scared; it's one in the morning. Why is
everybody still asleep? What's gone wrong? I can't understand how
we can have been flying for over 24 hours and not reached
Hours later I got more spooked; the money was still
in my case but now the claw had gone. I sweated, cold sweat,
wondering what might follow next.
I noticed it wasn't dark anymore outside the
aircraft. Now the sky was a mad fiery red. It was far too bright,
too vivid for sunrise. Then sweat sprouted on my hand and face, as
instinctively I knew I'd stirred up the spawn of Satan.
I tried to think. The dragon claw held the key to
the bizarre situation but it disappeared from my case. I needed to
find it even if it meant searching the whole aircraft.
I decided to look inside the pilot's cabin. As I
opened the door, I saw the pilot and co-pilot slumped in their
seats. In front of them was the red sky, quite visible through the
I was shocked. So much for the auto pilot taking
over from the airline pilot. Now there was the dragon claw gripping
the controls and moving over the complicated panels. It was flying
the Boeing onto some strange destination. It knew what to
The claw working the controls mesmerized me. And
then I recollected Cooper being a pilot in the Royal Air Force.
Marco wanted him killed because he creamed off some cocaine from a
My legs of jelly meant I was too frightened to think
straight. Where was this dragon claw taking me and why have I been
flying for so long?
I heard a cough behind me. It was the young and
very blonde air-hostess. She was gasping as if about to go into a
panic attack. Her blue eyes latched onto the dragon claw. She
screamed. I guess she was the first person to wake up. She
screamed again and bit the back of her knuckles.
I slipped an arm around her shoulder and followed
her gaze. Now I gasped at the huge circle of flames several
hundreds of feet high right ahead of us. The claw was taking us
there. To Hell.
Suddenly daemons shot out of the opening like black
dots and headed for us. Minutes later they were all around the
plane laughing and banging on the aircraft. They pressed their
faces up to the windows. Their faces distorted. Hideous. So
A moment later I saw it. A dragon circling the
aircraft and then as it hovered by the huge opening to Hell I saw
flames shoot from its mouth and rows of savage teeth.
Even as I said those words the dragon claw went
berserk. It flicked a switch and Cooper's voice boomed through the
speaker system telling us we were going to land.
The air-hostess shook with fright. I tightened my
grip on her and she seemed to draw on my strength. Then she sobbed.
I increased my grip on her as we braced ourselves for the
She started crying, started saying things. Then I
caught the words.
"The Dragon-don't let him get me. Please. I'm the
virgin the dragon wants. I know it. Do something-anything!"
Visions of St. George and the dragon tumbled through
my mind leading me onto a snapshot of a virgin tied to a black rock
in the centre of a lake. My imagination ran riot.
I realized what she was saying but how could I kill
her when I was a coward, too scared of dying alone.
I closed my eyes for a second and the air-hostess,
her lovely head on my forearm, now became a vicious skull biting
me; drawing blood. To cap it all Cooper was laughing. Laughing.
I screamed as the teeth bit deeper. I cried out with
the pain and the skull dropped on the floor to attack me once more.
Again, I lashed out but to no avail as Cooper kept urging it
Suddenly the Dragon appeared, right up against the
windscreen of the cockpit looking at me. It was so huge and
menacing. I'd never seen its like before.
Everybody on board woke up to
The last thing I heard was