Fire Rider

18 Oct

By Emily Turner
6th Grade

Off in the distance, a fire caught hold of a tree and was viciously crackling as it crept upward until the tree fell over as easily as snapping a stick in half. It slowly moved through the undergrowth, steadily eating up everything in its path. And who had made this fire? A dragon of course. The whole country was swarming with them. They were all shapes and sizes: fat ones, skinny ones, tall ones. So many dragons! They were pests. They stole sheep and other livestock and loved to burn things. I have always admired the dragons, but other people thought I was crazy.

The dragons were pests and that was all there was to it. The city was slowly dying because of them. I kicked a rock into the stream and dug my hands in my pockets as I watched the glow of the fire get dimmer until it was gone. I stood there until I could see blurred shapes whipping across the night sky, covering up the moon. This time of the night you don’t want to be out. This is the time of the dragons. You don’t want to be seen by one of the dragons. Bad things can happen…

***

Bang! Bang! Bang! My eyes opened at the ridiculously loud noise echoing through the house. I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to shut the sound out. The banging got louder and the house started to tremble. I got to my feet and lumbered toward the door, tripping over my own feet. The house was rattling violently now, and my hand shook as I reached for the doorknob. As I slowly turned the knob, I thought, “Could a person possibly have made the house shudder just by knocking on the door?”

The door slowly creaked open, and there I was, face-to-face with a dragon, no higher than my hip, but still looking vicious with his glowering red eyes narrowed to slits and his teeth as sharp as pointed glass. He wasn’t the prettiest sight, with jagged black wings and horns making him look like a devil. I stood there in shock, my mouth making a perfect O. He must have smelled our blueberry pancakes and maple syrup that my mom was making, the smell wafting out the door.

I started to get dizzy. I didn’t know if it was because a dragon was on the front porch or because I was just scared. My legs started to sway, and I guess the dragon could see that I was not going to reach for my sword or dagger, because he leapt over my head and into our house. My legs buckled to the floor and I passed out.

I regained consciousness five minutes after the dragon left. The house was a mess. Books were strewn everywhere, along with other objects, including broken lamps, toys, and a cat who was hissing and ruffled. My mom was sweeping away at the mess, her face red with anger, and she was repeatedly cursing under her breath.

When she saw me her face softened, but her voice was still stern as she said, “I have told you over and over again, Meg, not to open the door.”

I hung my head and muttered a painful, “Sorry.”

I walked outside. The world was all white. A powdery sheet of snow had covered everything. It was like an empty coloring book waiting to be filled in, except color did not come. The snow crunched under my feet as I made my way forward into the pitch-black forest. This was a place people were forbidden to go. This was the land of the dragons. I wasn’t thinking when I started to walk there. I wasn’t that stupid, to go where a bunch of wild, untamed, vicious dragons lived, but my feet just plodded along like they were taking me to the safest place in the world.

All of a sudden the world went black as a huge shadow cast over me. A huge dragon towered overhead. He was a lot bigger than most dragons, with his wingspan the size of large trucks and a head the size of me. He was a fiery orange with horns and curving black claws that glistened in the sun. All of a sudden I had an urge to reach out and touch him, but I held myself back, fearing what would happen.

The dragon did not seem the least bit affected by my presence. Not the least bit scared or mystified. He actually seemed curious. Slowly, inch by inch, he came closer to me. As for me, I was trying to hide behind a rock, my eyes glazed with fear. All of a sudden, he was next to me, cocking his head like a puppy that had done something wrong. I had to laugh, for that looked ridiculous. The noise that came from his victim made the dragon take one step closer. He crept forward, closer and closer, like a snake approaching a mouse. And then I could feel  his breath against my bare skin.

I couldn’t hold back any longer. The temptation was too great. I slowly reached my hand out to touch the dragon’s nose. He didn’t react, just looked at me calmly. His flesh was rough and leathery against my fragile skin. Then the dragon let out a crackling howl. Before I could do anything, the dragon lifted me up by the front of my shirt and flipped me onto his back. I felt the ground disappear under my trembling feet as the dragon shot up toward the sky with a breathtaking leap.

My eyelids peeled back, and my head went into my toes. Since I had nothing to hold onto, I scrabbled for his neck and held on tight, squeezing my eyes shut. I finally had the courage to open one eye to look around. We were soaring above the green-blue sea. The waves quietly lapped against the shore as we flew over. Off in the distance, I could see my city, pale gray houses and dull shops and buildings. The only bright colors were the trees and the dragon’s flame as he moved through the city. The flame ate everything in his path until it came in contact with water. Then it died.

The dragon effortlessly glided through clouds as he made its way back to land. Suddenly, an idea popped into my head. It was a stupid idea to even think about, but it was worth a shot. First, I had to get control of the dragon. I managed to do this by hanging onto the dragon’s horns and steering him whatever way I wanted to go. It was like a living car with wings. Second, I had to go to the city. I quickly steered the dragon in that direction. I needed speed. We weren’t going to get there before dark if the dragon kept going at this pace. I tried to get him moving by kicking him in the sides like a horse.

It worked, except the dragon gave an ear-bleeding howl that could be heard from miles away. Instinctively I reached for my ears, but there was one problem with that. I had nothing to hold onto and we were going fairly fast. Soon enough I was in the air, falling past the dragon. I was quick enough to grab hold of his tail. The dragon, however, was startled by the sudden change of the weight from his back to his tail. He started to sway his tail, back and forth, faster and faster, enough to fling me off.

Down I fell, closer than ever to my death. I could imagine myself falling on the rocks below, my life seeping away as I hung there, torn apart. It was a gruesome image to think about, but I couldn’t help it. I closed my eyes, ready to crash down among the rocks, but I never did. The dragon was under me in a flash, and saved my life. He knew it, too, as he soared along to my home, my city.

As we neared the city, I prepared for the worst. Most people there hated dragons. They would scream and shout and throw their fists in the air until the dragons flew away in fright. Some even had guns. There were few people who did not really care that the dragons came and destroyed the city. None actually liked the dragons. Except me. We were over the city now, flying through the crevices and around towering buildings. People noticed the fiery orange flame zipping along the roads and sidewalks, circling around and around the city. It was a fairly small city, small enough that everyone in the city could see the bursting orange color.

People stopped what they were doing, dropping their belongings and gazing upward toward the sky, at the one little speck of bright color around. And the commotion began. Yelling, screaming, stomping, kicking, honking, and more. The dragon flinched at the sound and kept on darting through the sky as fast as the speed of light, or faster.

Then suddenly it was like the world stopped. Dead silence. You could hear a rat scratching against the sidewalk from miles away. Everybody in that little city of mine could see that on the dragon was a person. A girl. Flying a dragon. Everybody was speechless with shock.

Finally somebody spoke up. “Help her! The dragon’s going to eat her alive!”

After that last word, there was a flurry of feet and people, bumping into each other trying to get their weapons to save the girl.

“Stop!” I yelled at the top of my lungs, but my voice was drowned in all of the other loud noises. “Stop!” I screamed, but the words disappeared.

A brilliant idea popped into my head. I kicked the dragon in the sides with my heels, hard. The dragon let out an ear-splitting, crackling howl as he had done before. Of course, this caught people’s attention, and I was able to sneak in a loud, “I have something to say.” People turned and listened, muttering and cursing under their breath. And then I rambled on about how I encountered the dragon and what we had done. My voice rang through the city, loud and clear. As I got deeper into my story, people started to stare at me like I had gone mad.

When I had almost finished, someone butted in, “Why are you lying?”

Was that what everybody was thinking? I was just wasting breath. Somebody marched over and carefully yanked me off the dragon without touching him. I shouted and struggled to get free, but the man had a hard grasp and clung to me, not letting me get anywhere near the dragon.

The dragon, hearing the screams of his rider, started to get restless. He whipped his tail and growled, showing his fearsome teeth.

“Kill the dragon!” someone shouted.

Someone close by reached for his knife in his pocket.

“No!” I screeched, ripping away from the man who held me and running toward the lonely, tamed, friendly dragon.

The dragon, still in search of his lost person, burst into flames of rage and fear. Small fires burst into full-grown flames and whipped through the city, gobbling up sidewalks and houses, and turning them a charred black. People ran in fright, bumping into each other as they tried to clear the city.

I whistled, trying to calm the fiery orange flames. Hearing the sound, the dragon leaped and almost squashed me in his ignorance. I gave a soft chuckle, but I was still pondering my decision: should I help the people or fly away?

I made up my mind and hopped on the dragon, and we flew to the stars in the night sky. We whipped across the moon and spiraled to the forest I had once feared. I was part of them now, I was free, and I was feared. I was finally me.

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