Searching For A Myth. Short Story.

So on Friday I went to a seminar type thing called The Do’s and Don’ts of Getting Published (at least, it was something along those lines!). It was interesting enough but I found that most of the things they talked about were things that were common sense, things that wouldn’t have even occurred to me to do, for example: You shouldn’t threaten the publisher.

You know what’s really scary about that? It must have happened often enough that they need to say it. Let that sink in. Yeah. I do not know why anyone would think that is a good idea. At all. Ever.

Most of the things followed that kind of vein of “Don’t be psychotic. Use common sense.”

The weekend itself was pretty ok, watched some TV, hung out at home, did some work blah, blah.

On with the show!

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Searching For A Myth

Everyone said that dragons no longer existed, but he knew they were wrong. There had been no sighting of one in a long  time, the last mention of a living dragon was over six hundred years before, that however, meant very little. After all, dragons hibernated, some for thousands of years, there were records of some of them disappearing completely for the area they hunted in, then the same ones reappearing briefly to eat and pillage before they would again disappear. There were leads, people just didn’t want to follow them. He was certain he had tracked a dragon down to a specific cave system. It might be a little difficult to find it, but once he did he was in business. Of course what he would do once he found it was a little unclear. He could attempt to kill it, or steal some of its treasure. Most likely he would try take a picture then flee before it woke. Even if it had died, he would find its bones at the very least. That might be better, he could bring a bone back as proof, you could claim a photo was edited, but you couldn‘t claim the same with a bone.

The caves were dark but easy to traverse, the system didn’t seem the confusing, there were no turn offs, it just continued on looping around itself, twisting but never branching off. Outside there had been large holes in the mountainside, ones that seemed overly large to be natural formations, there were no rock falls beneath them either, the paths underneath were surprisingly clear. He walked slowly and carefully, fearful that he would trip, but there were no rocks, the way was clear. Even the walls were smooth, he ran his hand along it, it felt as though it had been worn away. The torch he had brought was strong, but he came to a cavern where even its beam couldn’t reach the edges. He moved even more carefully here, fearful of what he might stumble across. There was a dull roar in the distance, at first he was fearful, frozen in place, until he realised it was a waterfall. He moved towards the sound, crossing the cave easily.

He found himself in a cavern, a few stalactites and stalagmites dotted around the place, but it again was mostly clear, at the far end there was the waterfall, a small river twisted around the room, he wondered where it led to, he didn’t think he saw a river or stream outside, it must come out on the other side of the mountain or it just continued underground before bubbling up somewhere else. It was still shallow here, though the water seemed to be steadily cutting a groove into the rock, it was wide, despite its lack of depth, he estimated it was about five feet across, too far to jump. Carefully he stepped into the cold water, pausing momentarily as the shock wore off, then he took small steps across. When he got out on the other side he realised he could have taken off his shoes before hand, or rolled up his trousers. He had spare clothes in his pack, when he camped out later he could dry out his shoes, but for the moment he would have to suffer with the cold. He continued to through the cave.

Every so often the cave would seem to shake slightly, as though the entire mountain shivered, it was followed by a light dust falling from the ceiling. Each time he paused, fearful of rock falls, but after there was always silence. It seemed as though there were no real rhythm to the shaking, it happened at random. Though he had a watch, he was unsure of the time, he would glance at it, expecting an hour or two to have past to find it had only been ten minutes. He had been in the caves for about five hours, he decided that he should continue on for another half an hour at most, then either turn back or set up camp. He had enough in his pack to keep himself going for another two or three days along with food that was back at his main camp, but he was hesitant to leave it alone outside. He continued onwards, figuring it would be easier to decide at the time rather than now. He considered just turning back, but he felt as though he was about to come across something, he didn’t want to turn around and just miss it.

He stopped three hours later, feeling slightly tired. He sat on an outcrop of rock, thinking he should probably turn around soon, he glanced at his watch and decided that he would have to camp in the mountain, at least for one night. He drank some water and had a little food, then continued onwards. He would continue on, then sleep for the night and turn back. He was getting a little freaked out by the lack of turning points, there seemed to be no branching off at all, the tunnels just kept going in one direction. He wondered if it was in fact natural, the walls seemed unnaturally smooth, though rough spots were starting to appear. He thought that perhaps the dragon created it, when it was younger, assuming it had lived here at some point.

The cave shook again, this time it was stronger than before, he stopped, waiting for it to pass. While he waited, he wondered if he should continue onwards, if it was a good idea, what if there was a cave in somewhere? If his return path was blocked, there would be no way for him to get out.

There was light ahead, not much, but a little, the longer he walked the brighter it became, it was shimmery and slightly blue, as though the light was being filtered by something. He turned and entered a large cavern, larger than the one before, the path had been sloping down for a while, so he assumed it was in the depths of the mountain, already he had decided that the path had to twist back upon itself, it was the only way to explain the length of time he had walked. The light was stronger in the cavern, a bright, aqua blue. He froze. There it was. The dragon. He was completely unprepared for it. It shifted slightly and breathed out, long as slow, as it breathed in the room shook slightly. The scales were a deep blue, seemingly emitting their own light. The scales rippled as the sides of the dragon moved. He stepped further into the dragons lair, moving carefully and slowly fearful that it would wake. It snorted and released a geyser of flame, it too was blue, he felt a wave of heat ripple over him as the blue flame dropped, landing on the ground with a faint patter. He realised it wasn’t fire, it was water. Burning water. It was incredible. Around it sat mounds of gold and silver, some of it appeared valuable, though most of it seemed to be junk. Twisted scraps of metal. He took out his camera, his hands shaking, and turned it on, the beep seemed thunderously loud. He turned off the flash and started taking pictures, the camera case glinting in the light. There seemed to be a thin, milky layer over the dragons eyes, he tried to see its wings, though it didn’t appear to have any, maybe they were retractable, like a cats claws, or perhaps they just blending in with the surrounding scales, it was hard to differentiate parts of the dragon. It shifted slightly. He began to move towards the exit slowly. He wanted to grab some of the debris the surrounded it, but it all appeared precariously balanced, as though removing one would send the rest crashing down. He didn’t want the creature waking. He had a gun, but he didn’t think it would be enough to bring down the dragon. As he reached the exit, the dragons eyes opened, they were a deep violet, its eyes roamed across the room, he was frozen, unable to move, his heart thudding wildly. The creature looked over him, not  registering his presence. Its head swung past, slowly, it yawned, massive jaws opening revealing rows of teeth, its tongue curling upwards. He shifted slightly, getting ready to move. It stretched its forelegs, looking as though it was about to stand. He wondered if it was going to leave this place, go scavenging for more metal, perhaps sate its hunger. He stepped back into the tunnel, out of view of the dragon. As he moved further away from the dragons lair, the mountain shook and rumbled as the creature stirred, getting ready to return to the world.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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