The Macabee And The Dragon

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Michael Marcus Macabee is dying, killed by the claws and breath of Joshua the Red Dragon. But Macabee is nothing if not resilient, and Joshua is curious as the brave, stupid, actions of one man against an unbeatable monster. Only their conversation will reveal why and what exactly he did.

A Tale From The Sphere, part of the short story collection After The Battles

Submitted: September 27, 2012

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Submitted: September 27, 2012

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Michael Marcus Macabee has been killed. Even now as he lays against the hard packed dirt of Joshua’s pit, he is breathing his last. His heavy, fire-resistant tunic was seared off, singed, and his flesh beneath is heavily burned. His head lolls to the left, where he sees his destroyed arm, torn nearly in two by the sharp claws of his foe. He cannot move his left hand but it still tightly clutches the second gigantic 4 bore slug. His weapon, a four bore reinforced twenty pound single rifle with slugs that weighed a quarter of a pound by themselves, and one that was forged explicitly for this purpose, lays at his feet, its breech lock still open, and the fired shell lay in the chamber, still smoking. Michael coughs, and blood spews forth from his mouth. His foot slips, slamming him further down on the ground of Joshua’s hard packed earthen pit, and he knows he will never rise again.

His foe lies a hundred yards in front of him, rolled over on his back. Joshua the Red Dragon, a name given to him by the humans he hunts and not by the pride he was born to, lay a full 30 yards from snout to tail, his white underside fully revealed to Michael. The wound- the single wound- Michael had inflicted, the shot from his 4 bore that had gone through the underbelly, squarely between the two immense front legs of Joshua, and had missed the dragon’s heart by less than a foot. Joshua is breathing heavily, the red blood is pouring from his wound. He knows he will survive, or else he would spend his dying moments enacting revenge on Michael, ensuring him a death far worse than the one he’s already received, and maybe go fly one last time, and crash on some village. But the wound is non fatal. So he rolls over on his back so he doesn’t get any dirt in the wound and he waits, enduring.

Michael glances at the pistol he carries- a .55 Magnum nitro gun, more powerful than most hunter’s long arms, and he considers drawing it with his right hand and trying once more. But he doesn’t. He is exhausted, worn out, dying, and he doubts he has the strength to even lift the six pound pistol. So he looks up at Joshua, and a broad smile breaks out on the old explorer’s face. One not many have seen. One generally reserved for his grandchildren and a long time ago a childhood crush. That is his gift to his greatest foe.

Joshua is intrigued. He was interested in the tiny man since he saw a rope cast down into his pit, and the small man with the giant gun almost as long as he was slung over his back climb down fearlessly. The man that now smiles. No one has done this before. The humans have tried time and time again to kill Joshua, they have thrown bombs down his hole, poured kerosene and torches down it, saved up two seasons of crops and bought a gigantic cannon, and they have fired hundreds of thousands of bullets at him, from ancient muzzle loaders to the cart drawn rapid guns. But always in groups, and always with some means of escape. Joshua rolls sort of half ways over, so that he can see the dying man a little more clearly, but props himself up with a scaly paw so that his bloody wound does not touch the ground, and his opens his long snout.

“Who are you?” Joshua asks.

“I’m Mike,” he answers. “And you-” he is interrupted by a heavy and painful stream of coughing, which brings up blood at each convulsion. “You’re Josh,” he finishes.

“Look what you’ve done,” Joshua moans. “No one has done anything like this to me since I was driven from my homelands by Az’rlgqia.”

“Well, I’ll pass your compliments on to Charles the Smith next time I see him. He’s a strong and a vain youth- it shouldn’t be long.”

“Why?” Joshua asked.

“Why?” Michael asked, struggling to show surprise in his labored breath. “You eat our people, like you eat the deer and the boulder lions and skinny bears,” he continued. He found talking was giving him one last spurt of strength, numbing his pain, though steadily it was getting harder and harder to keep his eyes open. His mind kept flashing back, to his earliest memories running on the steamer The Lady of Corswhite as he came to Brunowald, to the time he broke Harland Terro’s arm with a cricket bat the night at the barn when he danced with Margo Flint, to his first kill, a tree wolf when he was eleven years old. He shook his head to rid himself of these thoughts, to finish his conversation with his last opponent. “But we are no deer or boulder lions,” he said. “We dislike it when others eat our children and friends. So I was sent. So I could make an example of you.” Joshua gave a great rumble at this that might have been a laugh.

“And what an example,” he said. “Indeed. Such an example. There’s the example, bleeding in my pit. Once I’ve regained a little strength, I will eat you,” he said in a mixture of a growl, rumble, roar, and speech. Michael nodded and made a motion with his right arm- a twirling of the fingers, sure, sure, just get on with what you’re saying. “This is painful,” Joshua said after a beat. “I will kill many of your people for this, when I recover.” Another beat. “Where do you live?”

“You go on and do what you feel is best,” Michael told him. “But just try and flap those damned wings of yours without showing your chest.” He places his right hand to the wall to lift himself up, to stand once more and to say the next words with the booming voice he’s had all his life- but the effort again appears to be too much. He settles to give his final speech laying against the sloped wall of Joshua’s pit. “Because before today, you were an immortal. You were what kept everything but the hardest pioneers out of your woods. But today you’re nothing. Nothing that can’t be killed with a 4 bore forged at your local smith or sent away for in The Kaerkarl Times. So go ahead. Torch my village. It won’t be hard to find, it’s named after me. Just know that when I die, you’re squashing a bug. But that scar on your chest, that one you’ll have until you’re dying day- that was the day I touched a god. And gods don’t like being touched, Joshua. Once they’re touched, they stop being gods.”

Memories again, flashes through his life. The first gun he ever owned, passed down by his dying mentor. The expeditions to the wild, the contact with the wild men with bulging brows and hunched shoulders that were men but shared anatomical differences. Being shipped out to fight the Barata rebels in the name of King Albert XXIV, learning to cook a roast and fry eggs. He- or his brain, is searching. Looking through his past, looking for advice from his former self on what to do when one’s arm is dangling by the muscle and the body is burned and no one is helping. It zips through the significant moments he’s never forgotten, the Barat saber he pried from the hands of its last owner, when Margo broke her leg playing when they were eight and he carried her half a mile, and it revisits places he has long forgotten, the Iberian dance hall, his Saturday school teacher Mr. Telford, people and places, many of which he has forgotten on purpose, like the afternoons he would awake from a night or drink. But none of them can help him. For someone as experienced as he, this is something completely new, but it does not frighten Michael. He pushes all thought of self preservation aside, to listen and talk to Joshua.

“You are all nothing,” Joshua says. “Even if they see the scar, all it will tell them is that their champion came so close and still failed. That their mightiest took his chance and he failed. They are a easily frightened race, your kind. They will flee before my wings as they have in years past and will do so until my old heart finally gives. Even with a gun their mightiest failed and becau-” now old Joshua was cut off, but a rasping cough that spewed out flame fifteen feet from his mouth into the side of his pits wall. Apparently, the heavy lead slug had reached his lungs. It was no matter. What was a cough to killing man’s mightiest champion?

“In Skaney, there lives trolls,” Michael began, sliding a little further down the wall to get to a more comfortable position to die in. “One of them was mightier than all the rest, and he was named Greinnian Ironcoat, and he could kill all the warriors sent after him, for a wizard had cast a spell that turned Greinnian’s skin to iron, and replaced his weak heart with a powerful engine that couldn’t be stopped. All the heroes in the land came to battle him. Each time they arrived with their great swords and spears and shields, Greinnian forged an exact copy of the weapon but twice as big from hard mountain steel, and smote dead the challenger. And one d-” Coughs. Flashbacks. Marrying Ruth. Playing with Thomas, his first born. Burying Patrick Conrad. Now Joshua is waiting with patience, with enormous golden eyes, waiting, not to eat Michael, though he will still do that, but to hear this small man that has caused this much pain finish speaking.

“There came one challenger, then, from Frisia. His name was Rokus Gerlofs Eilert. He knew that the monster’s weapons were superior to his, so he did the only thing he could. He walked up to Greinnian and punched him. He was the first man to injure Greinnian, for the troll could not forge a spirit as mighty as his. They fought until-” Coughs again. More blood. Things are ending. Time is up. He dueled Ronald Terro on the banks of the Boundary River. He married his third wife, Lisa Marie. He kissed Margo Flint under a Juniper Tree. Nothing more. It’s over for the old and the proud, the man that dared to descend the depths of Joshua the Red Dragon’s Pit, that attended the funeral of his beloved before they ever had a chance, that took to the woods, The Wald, ever after, constantly seeking adventure. The man that now Joshua creeps up to, not meaning to kill and eat him, but just to hear the end of the tale of Rokus Gerlofs Eilert. Michael is dead now, he has been for sometime, and now he sees his prey coming towards him, and he eyes the still smoking breech lock of his 4 bore, the .55 nitro gun, and his old body, his old life takes over, forcing his hand to the pistol hilt, but there is no more struggle. Joshua is listening intently, trying to hear what happened, did Rokus kill Greinnian Ironcoat, or did his die in his attempt like his story teller, and does it matter? Does it matter whether he killed him or didn’t so long as the world knew that nothing was unbeatable, that God himself should probably shirk away if Michael Marcus Macabee came to his door with a 4 bore loaded and in hand?

The pain in Joshua’s chest burns anew.


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