A WonderCon short story

Dragging the Dragon

I attended WonderCon! There were three workshops specially geared for writers. I swallowed all three of them with a pen and a notebook. In one of them we were prompted through a guided imagery to create a story.

This is my story that followed a one-minute guided imagery, it starts with 100% reality, then slowly twists into fiction. I think the shift will be pretty evident.

Johann and I are walking in Tecolote canyon. What you don’t know about Johann is that although I like to believe he’s mine by letting him sleep, goober and snore on my bed, he’s not mine. Not on paper at least, he may be mine in my heart, but this half Rottweiler and half Bassett Hound belongs to Keita, my violin playing roommate.

So, back to Johann and I exploring Tecolote canyon… I try as I might to ignore the signs warning me of rattle snakes, and how dogs must be kept on a leash at all times. All I know of rattle snakes is what I learned from watching The Bugs Bunny Show. No words can describe how little I know to compare to my large fear of these rattlers. Although I’m keeping a firm hold on the leash with the little flashing light switch, I keep him close to me, constantly saying “heel.” The beauty is I don’t need the fancy leash to keep him at my feet. This is how I know for a fact that Johann is not truly mine. I could never train a dog to be so obedient!

I can’t hide my paranoia. I jump every time a leaf flutters on the ground. I have a near heart attack as a jogger crosses my path. She apologizes “No need to be sorry!” I tell her as I laugh at myself. This happened in a half a second? A fraction of a second? A mere flash where I laughed with this woman. An accidental moment where I’m not thinking of Johann who’s no longer at my feet, but at the end of the outstretched leash. This short moment of laughter that comes to a sudden halt when I hear this flickering and rattling sound. And then I smell it. Something bitter. Rancid. Mixed with something oddly fruity.

Johann howls. I’ve never heard him howl. I’ve heard him bark. I’ve heard him talk as my other roommate likes to boast “I can make Johann talk!” and I’ve heard him growl out of sheer and utter happiness. Howl? Never! It’s scary. He freezes and looks at me. If dogs could talk… I know exactly what he would say at this very moment.

“Don’t worry Johann,” I coo him. Shit, why did I have to bring him out here? I’m at least a mile into the canyon. My dog, who isn’t really my dog, is limping. I’m not sure if his mixed breed says anything to you, but imagine a full-bodied Rottweiler hobbling around on short Bassett Hound legs. With paws opened up like duck feet. Limping. The snake must have bit him on his front left paw. He’s whimpering, licking his paw, and trying to be the well-behaved dog that he is. All I can think of is my landlord telling me “It’s bad-bad karma and bad mojo to not have someone else’s dog on a leash and have him get hit by a car,” the day I told him how proud I was of Johann’s exemplary behavior on a walk.

I’m encouraging him to keep walking as I try to drag him back to the parking lot. I’m scanning my brain trying to remember the last time I spotted a vet clinic nearby. The dragging becomes absolute yanking on the leash. “Come on Johann, we’re almost there!” Try as I might, there’s no way I can force him any further. I stop and look behind me. He’s curled down on the ground. Saliva is puddled by his mouth. Sand, sweat, dirt and god-knows-what is covering him. I drop to my knees “Johann, NO!”

I’ve killed my roommate’s dog! This is the end of good karma for me. I drop to my knees, and plop my face on his belly. I’m crying uncontrollably. All that keeps running through my mind like a broken record is “I killed the best thing ever. I killed the best thing ever. I killed the best thing ever.”

Johann’s stomach starts to gurgle and make popping sounds. He’s trying to get up. I jump up to give him space. He coughs. I catch sight of something weird. He coughs again. Is that fire? Johann is still laying on his side, snoring, coughing. With every breath – smoke comes out his nose, with every cough – flame right out of his mouth!

I turn to try and see the rattle snake that bit him, on the ground where it laid coiled up is a ring of burnt grass. The snake is gone. 

The guided imagery was: the story ends with “something or someone turns into a dragon.”


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