The smoke rolled from his mouth and out into the heated city air. His light hazel eyes followed the wisps of smoke until they were no more.
“You gonna help us out or what?” Chuck asked. He stood there with his arms crossed trying hard to look at tough as possible. To Connor he looked like a clown, complete with the oversized pants that often fell down around Chuck’s ankles.
“I said I was in.” Connor pushed the cigarette against the wall and put it out. “Besides, I run faster than the rest of you jerkoffs.” He snorted. Connor pulled his ball cap off and adjusted his jet black hair. Usually he took the time to stile and spike it but today was a lazy day.
“Yeah which is why we need ya.” Frank piped up. “I’ll be look out and you be the runner, Chuck can be the muscle.” Frank had their rolls rehearsed.
They were known by the locals in the neighborhood as the odd bunch. Chuck was a tall and lanky with dark skin. He tried hard to dress and act more gangster than he really was. Frank was a Polish, Italian mix. He was the mouth of the group. He was able to talk his way into or out of all sorts of situations. Connor was the stereotypical emo kid of the group. He spent more time painting his nails and messing with his hair than anything else. He felt looks were more important than his school grades. He was also the one the others referred to as the crotchety old man. Connor had a habit of acting far older than his years.
“After this I’m done. You two clown s can find another runner.” Connor grumbled. Even with a smoking habit he was still the fastest of them. “Well let’s get this over with.” Connor placed his cap back on his head and grabbed his tattered backpack and tossed it on.
Chuck helped toss Connor over the gate as Frank took his perch on lookout duty. They gave the signal as both Chuck and Connor raced to the old warehouse by the river. Chuck grabbed the edge of the door, counted to three, then gave a hard yank, popping the door open with a loud snap of metal. The two froze in place for a moment and looked back to Frank. He gave the all clear signal.
Chuck turned to Connor and nodded. It was go time.
Connor bolted inside and darted into the darkness. His hazel eyes narrowed as they scanned the room. He spotted the cargo they were after and began to sneak in deeper. Connor slid along the wall with his ears and eyes open for any signs of human life, or guards. Finding all to be clear, Connor darted toward the cargo stacked in the center of the room. He pulled the back from his back and started to load up with the small boxes of brand new video game, hand held consuls into the bag.
“HEY!” Came a loud booming voice from Connor’s left.
Connor didn’t bother to look or turn his head. He darted toward the door only to find his entrance was blocked. He skidded to a near stop only to be grabbed at by another guard. Connor spun around and headed for the nearest exit. The open loading doors that faced the water. Connor could hear the guards coming at him and drawing close. They were fast but he was faster. Connor jumped over a crate and raced out the door. He could hear in the far distance, Frank yelling something.
Connor felt someone grab the bag on his back and gave it a hard tuck. He slipped one arm free and felt the strap snap off at the other. The cargo was no longer important. They were just handhelds. Sure they could be sold at school for some primo cash, but it wasn’t worth the time in jail, and being 17, Connor would do real time.
Connor saw the gates in this direction were higher and covered in barbed wire. Not so good for jumping over or climbing. He cut right and felt another hand reach out and brush his arm, but didn’t grab him.
“Get back here you little shit!” The guard yelled. Connor saw the storm drain ahead. It was large enough for him to fit through. He could just see the conversation with his uncle now as to why he was dirty. Connor darted for the drain and in true baseball player fashion he slid feet first into the drain, only to find it opened up into a run off pipe that no doubt fed into the river.
Connor fell for a while before landing hard into cold water. It was dark and smelled bad, but he was still free. Now to find his way out of the drain and get out to the river. From there he could climb back onto shore and find his idiot friends and verbal tear them apart for this.
Connor felt along the walls as his feet moved cautiously through the dark water. Occasionally his foot would land on a rock and it would slip. He stumbled along like this for what seemed like forever, until he saw daylight ahead.
“About damn time. Those two are so going to get it.” Connor grumbled.
He had to shield his eyes as he made it out at last. After a moment his eyes adjusted and he looked around. This wasn’t the river, this wasn’t the city, and this wasn’t Chicago at all. Connor was eye to eye with a horse. His hand reached out slowly toward the large animal to touch it. He had to be sure it was real. The horse reared back its head and snapped its teeth at Connor. He drew his hand back quickly.
“You’re not a troll.” Came a soft female voice from behind the horse.
Connor leaned to the side and looked past the creature to see a girl with long blond hair and bright green eyes looking at him.
“I’m not a what now?” He asked.
“A troll.” She repeated. She stepped closer to Connor. Super close, like invading personal space close. Her nose pressed to his for a moment before she backed up with a shocked look on her face. “Oh my.” She gasped. “You’re not a troll at all.” She gasped.
“Duh lady. I might not be the hottest dude around but I’m not butt ugly. Where the hell am I?” Connor glared at her. “I smell like crap, I’m cold and wet, and my friends are idiots.” He growled. Connor noticed the girl had not only backed up and pulled the horse back with her. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to snap.” He held up his hands in surrender.
“You really do not know what you are?” She asked.
“Uhm. I have no clue what drugs you’re on girl but.”
“I have never seen one of your kind in such a convincing skin before, and to have no recall as to what you are. That is a strange enchantment.” She smiled.
Connor stared at her dumbfounded. “Did I wander into a SciFi convention or something?” He grumbled.
“I read about those.” The girl smiled. “I read literature from the human realm sometimes. Even though it is forbidden.” She nodded. “Can you tell me of that realm?” She clapped her hands together happily. “Please. I wish to know about this thing called glitter, oh and why humans feel the need to drive large metallic carriages without a horse?”
Connor began to look around. He was waiting for Frank and Chuck to pop out as if he had been Punked or something.
“My name is Dinah.” She waved. “And this is Gale.” She patted the horse. Gale stared at Connor as if she wanted to eat him. He had never met a horse but he was sure they weren’t supposed to be hostile creatures.
“I’m Connor.” He waved back. “Now tell me how to get back home so I can forget this all ever happened.” Connor ran a hand over his face. He needed a bath bad.
“You must have fallen through a portal.” Dinah said.
“Good. Find me another and I can jump through it and head home.”
“It doesn’t work that way.” Dinah said. She pulled her hair back and Connor noticed her ears were pointed and covered in random earrings that looked like they had slipped into this world from his. None of them matched. “You must find a magic user to open a portal specifically that leads into your world and your time. If they mess it up you could end up time traveling or in the wrong content or country.” She explained.
“Well then find me the right one.” Connor threw his hands up.
Dinah bit her lip nervously. “Easier said than done. Most of magic users in this realm have gone into hiding. At least the portal wielders have. They are sought after for great evil.” Her voice cracked slightly.
“For what reason?” Connor asked.
Dinah shook her heard. “No need to frighten you. You will only be here a short time. I will find you a magic user who can tap into portals. You will forget this place soon enough.”
Connor noticed the sadness and disappointment in her face. It seemed she was already growing attached to him.
“Well for now, can we go someplace where I can dry off and change my clothes?” He asked. He shot her a small smile. “I’ll tell you all about glitter. In fact.” Connor dug into the pockets of his jeans. He had fingernail polish with black glitter in it. He held it up. “I’ll teach you how to use this and you can keep it. A gift for helping me.” He added.
Dinah’s eyes lit up and she jumped up and down happily. “You have a bargain.” She squealed.
“You mean deal. You have a deal.” He corrected her. Connor handed over the nail polish and followed her and Gale.
Connor took a seat next to Dinah on the floor. She already had her toes and fingernails painted.
“This is amazing, but it smells terrible.” She wrinkled her nose. Her eyes then went wide again and she lunged at Connor. Her hand instantly touching the tattoo on his chest. “That is amazing. You are marked. No wonder you are cursed!” She looked up at him.
“Cursed?” Connor laughed. “It’s a tattoo.” He said. “It’s a tribal design of a dragon.” He shrugged his shoulders.
Dinah looked at the tattoo then up at him. “It is no wonder you chose that mark then.” She said.
“Why do you say that?” Connor noticed she hadn’t pulled away from him yet. She was really pretty. Scratch pretty, she was stunningly beautiful, and not a hint of makeup.
“You are a dragon.” She whispered softly. “You are an endangered species. Like myself.”
Connor looked into her eyes. They were amazing up close.
“And what are you?” He smiled. He would play along. He didn’t mind her invading his personal space any more.
“I disguise myself as an Elf, but that is not my true form.” Dinah gazed up into his eyes. “I am a unic..”
A loud explosion cut her off. It rattled the tree house that Dinah called home.
“What the hell?” Connor got up and looked out the window to see three horses clad in dark armor outside. There were three men dismounted from the horses, in matching armor. They were approaching the tree house.
“They found me!” Dinah sobbed. She pushed a leather vest and light gray tunic at Connor. “Dress quickly. We must escape.” She urged.
Connor began to dress as Dinah darted off into a one of the rooms. She raced back out with a sword tied to her hip. “You must arm yourself as well.” Dinah handed him a sword as well.
“I don’t know how to use this.” Connor gasped.
“You will learn quickly.” Dinah smiled. She charged at the door just as the first man in armor kicked it in. Dinah swung at him with a loud cry.
Connor froze in place. He watched as Dinah’s blade sliced through the man’s arm and cut it clean off. She booted the man in the chest and turned to yell at him. Connor snapped back to reality and darted off toward her.
On the ground Dinah took a running charge at another guard. The two were locked in battle. Connor didn’t know what he was doing. He didn’t belong here. This was all a weird dream. He heard something zipping through the air at him. On instinct his hand flew up and grasped the air. He looked at his hand, stunned to see he had caught a small arrow shot by a crossbow. Connor snapped the arrow in half and tossed it on the ground. The guard who shot it at him was already rushing at him with a sword.
Connor found himself struggling to stay upright. He could dodge the attacks easily. The man in the armor was weighed down by the stuff and Connor was already faster than most. He heard Dinah behind him scream out in pain. It was the distraction the guard was looking for. The man in armor sliced at Connor’s side with the blade. The sharp pain laced through him setting off an adrenaline rush Connor had never had before. In all his years he had never been so injured that it triggered this reaction.
Connor’s eyes flashed a bright yellow as a loud deep growl rumbled up through his throat. He swiped at the guard closest to him. His fingers felt heavier and more powerful. He watched as the long black claws at the ends of his fingers tore through the armor like a hot knife through butter. He grabbed the guard and whipped him toward his comrade. The two collided in a jumbled clash of metal.
Connor moved quickly at Dinah’s side and lifted her up. She had a nasty cut across her chest. She looked up at him and lightly touched his face.
“You need medical attention.” Connor heard the change in his voice. It was deep and gravely.
“There is a village to the east.” She said softly. Her eyes kept sliding closed. “I am not healing fast enough.” She whispered.
“Hang on.” Connor growled. He lifted her up in his arms and began to run. He ran and ran until he saw buildings in the distance. His only thoughts were to save Dinah. He didn’t think of how he looked at all.
He could hear villagers gasping as he rushed into the village square.
“I need a medic!” He growled angrily. He could see the fear in the eyes of the villagers. He didn’t know how he looked, and he didn’t care.
A woman pointed toward a building at the edge of the village. “The healer is there.” She said softly.
Connor gave a nod of thanks before rushing toward the building with Dinah. He kicked the door in startling the old man inside.
“She needs a medic, or healer. Whatever!” Connor growled.
The old man walked over calmly. He didn’t seemed phased by Connor’s appearance at all.
“Set her down there and take a seat before you explode son.” The man said. Connor noticed the man had a strange accent. Unlike Dinah or the woman that showed him where the medic was. This man’s accent was strangely familiar.
Connor set her down and watched as the man pulled out a medical bag filled with modern medical tools. The last thing he expected to see here. Connor looked up at the man. “You’re not from here too?”
The medic examined the wounds and pulled out a stethoscope. “I’m from Ohio.” He said plainly. “Now take a seat and calm down. You don’t want to break that skin in here. You’ll have all the kingdoms in an uproar.” He grumbled. ‘Dragon’s haven’t been seen in quite some time. I can play you off to the villagers as a demon for now, but sooner or later, someone will wise up.”
Connor took a seat as told. He felt his body easing up already. He began to feel lightheaded. He looked down at his hands and watched the large black claws retract into his fingers. Connor looked at his side where the sword had struck him and found barley a scratch there now. He felt sick and dizzy. This was too much. Connor looked up in time to see the medic threading a needle and that was wen everything whent black and he passed out.
© Copyright 2016 Damian Aniela. All rights reserved.