Red Dragon

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Rush Hour

It was too late for Francis! He didn’t make it to the chopper! The predator in the jungle didn’t wait for him and killed him on the couch. He was out before it even became a threat. As he usually was when his dad put it on. Before his father allowed him to watch any of the movies, any mature piece of work, he always made sure that Francis understood that none of it was real, it was make-believe and no one should try to recreate the violent, gruesome, or scarring scenes shown. Being so young, Francis agreed, thinking it was just delaying the inevitable blood and guts and boobage that would often be downplayed.

But, after living on the street, he realized that the scenes in those movies were fictional. They were blown out of proportion because the true scenes, the true acts are far, far more terrifying. After meeting Eve, he had a further revelation: Those scenes, as bombastic as they were, weren’t as far-fetched anymore in a world now filled with humans with super speed and a hunger for flesh; giant, leathery bats that suck the insides out and wear the skin as a suit; slimes that can strip someone down to the bone in seconds if they are irked enough; sirens that can lull desperate men into depths of both pressure and pleasure; shark people that can walk on land and STILL bite someone in two (if they are lucky); and, of course, the grand daddy of them all:

Dragons.

Francis snorted, stirring, and smelled bacon. He was still on the couch, but had a blanket thrown over him. The TV was on and wrapping up with a mummy movie from the 90′s that had nothing to do with the source material save for their being a mummy. He wasn’t sure which one it was, but, because of the lack of a bad video game boss, he assumed it was the first one.

The drachen sighed as he settled back... but the memory of that woman from the “morning” was still on his mind. And wouldn’t leave him alone. Sarah... Eve warned him that, because of his blood, it was only a matter, “sooner rather than later”, that he would be approached by one of Them.

“There will be three kinds,” Eve elaborated. “The first, and most dangerous, are the Grand Dragons- what’s so funny?”

“Do they transform into pointy white sheets?”

“Ah. A reference to human history. I should have seen that coming... but this is no joking matter. Grand Dragons are the oldest bloodlines of dragons, and the ones told through history. For almost four teraseconds, Grand Dragons held dominion over all commerce and goods. There’s a reason in many stories they are shown as the epitome of greed and corruption.”

“Really? Just for a couple seconds. Man, they must have really fucked them good to be remembered that well. Just like their pointy-hatted retarded brethren.”

“Yes, well, they share one trait with those humans that ranked themselves as such: They believe they are above all others. In the case of Grand Dragons, however, for good reason. Even my Kind weren’t safe from their ire.”

“So why would they bother with a half-breed like me?”

“Because you, my dear, have the blood of a Grand Dragon in your veins. Even if watered down, they would want to maintain that lineage.”

“Great. So I’m going to attract scaly Hitlers... And the other two? Are they at least a step down from Pol Pot or Mao?”

“A historian, I see-”

“Nah. One of my homies just really loved dictators and watched them all the time on TV. History junkie, and I don’t mean actual history. SO, the other two?”

“They are the wyverns -or wyrms if you prefer-”

“I really don’t. I do not appreciate the idea of worms lusting after me, thanks.”

“Are you going to ‘wordplay’ all of this? Are you going to take any of it seriously?”

“Why would I?”

“Your very life is at stake if you don’t.”

“Yeah! That’s why! Because, hi, I was introduced to this world, to all of this, just A WEEK AGO... And now you’re telling me there’s a good chance I’ll be responsible for helping make an Antichrist!”

“I wouldn’t worry too much about Wyverns. They tend to be envious and afraid of Grand Dragons. They, also, stay to the eastern side of the world –the ‘old world’ as they say. They love the Netherlands.”

“Peachy... and the third?”

“They are drakes. Out of the three, they are the most common, but they blend in to himan society. At a glance, you couldn’t tell them apart from a lizan unless you were looking for the folds on their arms. They are weak, so they covet the prestige of a Grand Dragon, but have nothing of note to truly make them stand out. As far as I know, none have been accepted to Vereor Nox this year, so you have nothing to worry about when you attend-”

“I’m gonna stop you there. There is no way in Hell, in any of its rings, I am ever stepping foot into that freak show.”

“Francis! Darling! Breakfast is ready,” Bridget called from the other room, and tittered as she skipped in. She rounded the couch, holding two plates, both loaded to the brim with more than the food but words to eat. She set his plate in his lap, kissed his forehead, and plopped beside. “Sleep well?”

“As best as I could,” he grumbled... but couldn’t stay sullen. There was bacon, after all. And none of that coffee. That, alone, was enough to be elated as the credits rolled on the movie. It was squeezed off to the bottom left as the next one started- turned off. Francis whined, pointing at it with a broken half of bacon before aiming it at the witch. “Turn it back on! There’s still time before we need to leave.”

“There really isn’t,” she said, chuckling sheepishly. “You see... the truth is...”

Francis sprinted up the stairs, panting hard. He lost Bridget back in the parking lot, left to lace her heels up. Why she chose those over a simple pair of slips that day he didn’t know- but why would she care? She was on detention duty that day while he was almost four hours late!

He rocketed into the entry, the doors crashing, the glass to each side shattering in his wake, and he slid as he looked up. And crouched. The tile cracked as he leaped, catching the second floor- before it, too, crackled under his feet. He flipped over the next landing’s rail and finally needed to halt a moment, turning around to face the hall. His black tank was shredded by his sails, opened as wide as they could, trying so hard to pump as he raced down the hall, and wrenched at Johnny’s door. Tearing it completely off.

The poor, steel barrier clanged then hissed down the hallway while Francis strutted into the class. He held his head high, marching gallantly to his desk, cutting off Johnny’s fake lecture as he knew the incubus could “hear” him coming from at least the parking lot. In truth, he didn’t want to know how far he could read his mind and would prefer to remain ignorant to that fact.

He took his seat... and pushed Carl out of his as he pulled his notebook from under the Fang’s. Left there since day 1, and still pristine. Why ruin perfection? He simply wanted to look upon its virginal splendor once more. Carl clambered back onto his seat, finishing his note that was plastered behind Johnny, whom was smiling at Francis... a bit creepy, if he was being honest.

“There’s the man of the hour. At long last,” the incubus said, chortling. “The others asked about you.”

“I bet,” Francis said, hooking his thumb to Mordred. “King Richard in disguise over there must have been a real chatterbox. I can only imagine he’s been needing his dragon to slay.”

“Round two?” The black knight said.

“Not right now, babe-bee. Maybe during lunch. God knows I’m not having anything else today; I forgot my phone and wallet. I’m thankful I at least had these still on, but was dumb enough to empty my pockets before I konked out.”

“What’s stopping you from running home?” Lucas said. “It would be done in a shake of my fine tail.”

“Nah. I had a late breakfast today, so I’ll be fine until I get home. So what have I missed, Johnny?”

“Nothing that’ll wow you, I can tell you that. Essentially, they are going over questions 16 through 26 of your test-”

“The ones I flunked? Marvelous!”

“That you missed because of technicalities. The packet I gave you -which made it home this time thank God- has all of this already in it.”

“So that’s why you weren’t having Lilith go DEFCON 5 on my ass for ‘missing’. I’m surprised Penny didn’t break down my door.”

“Yes. About that...”

“She considered it, didn’t she?”

“Wholeheartedly.”

“Once more I guess I need to thank you for mind-fucking people.”

“Lil usually does it, but she knows you're grateful. Consider it a... reward for what you did to the wolf pack. You heeded my advice and learned to say ‘no’.”

“It was hard for me to. So very hard. Especially with the idea that passed around everyone h-”

“Almost everyone,” Captain Kidd objected.

“That passed around everyone here... Sadly, I think I already know the answer. Dragons are immune to almost all diseases, which lycanthrope is technically a disease.”

“Which means you would have whelps,” Johnny finished. “Little quarter-dragon babies.”

“Come to think of it, what would happen if you tried to conceive with a Fang,” Carl asked. “Sanguinus Vampirus Nox alters hows the body creates mRNA and tRNA due to how quick it creates proteins. Because of this, the body needs greater plasma intake than what it can generate, leading to the thirst for blood.”

“Did you miss the part where I said most diseases?”

“But that’s just it. Since it is a mitochondrial-based pathogen, wouldn’t it supersede your immune system, leading to a vampire dragon? Wouldn’t you have the fear of becoming a Fang yourself-”

“Why would that be a fear? Are you coming on to me, boy! Just because we share a booth doesn’t mean I swing that way... What? Nothing from you, jelly bucket?”

“Did you expect me to say something?” Olen said.

“Yeah. Usually you pipe in with a ‘hah! Gay’.”

“Ah, but you remembered it. Rent-free.”

“Touche... But yeah. No way in Hell, Carl.”

“But what about that one Vreshen bitch you were bragging about wanting relations with?”

“Who- oh! Tiny. Right. I keep forgetting that’s her last name –which should tell you how much I truly ‘value’ it. Especially after she ghosted me. I don’t have time for wastes like that –speaking of, you going to continue the lecture, Johnny, or can I go back home?”

“Do you really want to, given who will be w-”

“No! No I don’t. Please don’t send me home.”

He would have felt a shred of shame for how pitiful his voice sounded, for how they laughed, but they didn’t understand. How could they? Not a single one met... that’s it! He knew what he needed to do. It simply required the right prey- sacrifice- pawn- person- bait... person.

“Why don’t you want to go home?” Ben said. Perfect.

“Because there’s a four-foot even goblin GILF waiting to try all sorts of dirty things on me.”

That received another round of laughter, but he didn’t feel shame. They didn’t know. They didn’t know... but... if lucky, Ben would.

“Why are you trying to make that sound like a bad thing?” The centaur implored, grinning from ear-to-ear. “I thought you were a chad like me, bruh. You can’t handle a sexually starved goblin?”

“Oh, I can, but even I have my limits.”

“Then you aren’t as chad, because every real man knows there aren’t limits. Just challenges to overcome.”

“Tell you what. After school today, swing on by and I’ll introduce you.”

“W-wait. You’re s-s-serious?”

No. No! Don’t pussy out on me, you bastard!

“Dead serious. I’ll gladly welcome you to her. Her name’s Nicole, and, got to warn you now: She strives to be in charge. And she will not take ‘no’ for an answer. Trust me; I screamed it enough.”

“N-no. That’s o-o-okay. N-n-not my type-”

“What happened to ‘there are no limits. Just challenges to overcome’? Are you backing out?”

“Yes I am, but not because it’s my limit. Short-stacks were never my thing.”

I doubt ANY girl was ever ‘your thing’. Francis shot Johnny a glance, and fought to keep his laughter down as the incubus rolled his eyes... but nodded his head. But the Drachen jumped as Carl cleared his throat, rolling his wrist towards Francis.

“Might I be introduced,” he asked.

“No- in fact, I’ll give you the long answer: HELL NO. Do you want the longer answer- too late. I’m giving it to you: FUCKING HELL NO- oh, but why be stingy? Here’s the longest answer: FUCKING HELL NO; NOT EVEN IN YOUR WILDEST FUCKING DREAMS YOU NO-GOOD, PIN-HEADED, LIMP-WRISTED, EDGY SON OF A WH-”

“I’m not following,” Carl interjected. “You are denying me... to intervene in your torment... and be tormented, instead. Am I understanding you correctly?”

Francis opened his mouth, ready to fire back... but clacked them shut- only to open again... clacked shut once more... What was his logic behind that?

“You know what? You have a point. Consider yourself invited.”

“Splendid, though you will forgive me if I don’t thank you. From the sounds of it, I am welcoming more pain into my life.”

“Look on the bright side: It’ll go great with your music as you cut fresh lines. You do know you are meant to go down the road. Not across it.”

“I do not self-mutilate. There’s no reason to outside of ripping my own heart out, but even that seems moot at this point. With the loss of my family, I am but a hollow, a husk forced to traverse this world.”

“I’m starting to doubt my own choice to let you come along. Even the shade in this room isn’t as edgy as you!”

“Wish to come along, as well,” Mordred stated. “Hang out again.”

“You know what? That’s fine. That’ll give the two lovebirds a bit of time to themselves. We’ll make it into a double-date-”

“I thought you didn’t swing that way,” Lucas chimed in.

“For Carl. Mordred? Have you seen those pauldrons? They can whoop my ass anytime they want.”

“Sounds good,” Mordred said, and her purples flashed. “I feel the same.”

“It’s a date, then- oh no. Why did I use that word. Why did I say the D-word-”

“Relax,” Johnny said, pulling out his phone. “You still have another... fifteen minutes before that’s an issue.”

“Oh thank g- wait. Fifteen? Does that mean lunch already started!”

“It has,” Bridget said, leaning against the arch of the doorway. She held up... Francis’s wallet and phone, giving him a warm smile. “I grabbed these before we left.”

“You are my savior,” Francis said, walking around the desk. He took them from her and gave her a kiss on the cheek- wincing as that spike went through his head again. “What the Hell is that?”

“What’s the matter, darling?”

“N... nothing. Nothing.”

“If you say so... Hi, Johnny.”

“Professor Deckard,” Johnny said. Flat, but not offensive. “I’ve been hearing talk of you going after one of my students.”

“Not really ‘go after’. It just sort of... happened.” She giggled, and bumped into Francis, leaning against him. “He was out with Cassidy at the time. We met at the bowling alley, and I started seeing him in the mornings to chat. Like we used to.”

“And you bring him your ‘coffee’, don’t you?”

“I did... Sadly, I’m out of it until after the holidays.”

“Hallelujah!” Francis blurted... looking down at her. “Did I say that out loud?”

“A touch, darling-”

“Only a touch? Then let me repeat it: HALLE-FREAKIN-LUJAH! I was being nice, but I’mma be honest: It tasted like shit!” He sighed, and patted the top of her head. “So glad I got that off my chest... Look, if you liked it that is fine. I prefer your other blends over whatever... that was.”

“It’s fine,” she said, though her tone wavered and hinted otherwise something fierce. Even her smile shuddered, twitching to stay held as she looked up at him... and her hand was far rougher on his hair as she ruffled it. “I thank you for being... kind as long as you did. I don’t think I’ll be needing that blend anymore-”

“Prepare to be disappointed,” Johnny muttered.

“What do you mean?” Francis said.

“Nothing! Nothing... You have fifteen for lunch, by the way. And not because you talked the time away. I want you back so you can get caught up on some of this.”

“Fine... We’re just going for fast food, right?”

“Yes,” Bridget said, and laced her hand through his. “Let us go... It was nice seeing you again, Professor Brimst.”

“Professor Deckard.”

It was faint, but Francis heard a bit of metal meet metal in that exchange, forgotten as Bridget lead him down the hall. Her gait was a bit quicker than normal, and maybe it was the chandelier’s rattling but he could have sworn her hair was flashing. A lot... But no reason to dwell on it. He had less than ten minutes to order then cram as much junk food down his gullet as he could before returning and finishing the rest of the day... and, hopefully, ending his misery. And adding to his favorite Fang’s... It was a good day.

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