Monday Excerpt

Here is the prologue for my latest draft of my book. Enjoy:

It was night. Clouds shrouded the moon and no stars shone in the thick blanket of black. Beneath the sky, a figure raced, the icy wind buffeting against his skin. Jumping forward, he reached the rocky hillside. He grinned, freedom surging through him. On nights like this he wondered why he didn’t stay away for forever. Then he remembered and began to climb up the cliff, grin slipping off his face.

As he struggled up the hillside, he could hear screeches and growls above him. Pausing, he clung to the cliff ledge, panicked thoughts racing through his head. What if they catch me? He thought. Even just the idea was dangerous. Peeking over the edge, he spotted two large shadows curled up in the cave. Between them was a slipshod nest, constructed of the fallen branches and leaves. Within the nest, a single egg rocked. It glowed a fiery red underneath the thick coat of brown dust that covered it. He reached out as three cracks formed on the side. On either side of the nest, the two parent dragons bolted up and roared fiercely. Albie backed away, slowly being corralled into a corner. They drew closer to him. It was time for back up.

“Help!” He yelled.

A head popped up, barely visible from the mouth of the cave.

“Albie Donahue, what are you doing, boy?”

The thief, indeed a boy of fourteen, turned to look back, jumping out of the way of a long stream of flames.

“Where’s my egg?” The man asked.

A dozen other men appeared at the mouth of the cave, heavily armed. Seeing the attacking dragons, they rushed forward to attack.

Behind them, the egg split open revealing a gooey white sack. Albie crept closer to the nest and withdrew a knife from his belt, slitting the sack open in one swift stroke. Out of the nest burst an infant dragon, head rearing towards the ceiling of the cave. It was about the size of a large dog and about as clumsy as one. Albie reached forward, trying to grab the baby dragon. It squealed defiantly, suddenly stiffening in horror as the men plunged their swords into the adult dragons. Albie’s eyes widened, feeling as if his heart might stop. He never got over the guilt of seeing the men do that.

With a savage cry, the dragon broke free of Albie’s grasp. The boy pulled fumbled with his pockets, finally managing to pull out a tiny figurine about the size of a nickel. It was molded in the shape of a dragon, head thrust defiantly forward, wings outstretched. Concentrating, Albie thrust the totem forward and yelled:

“Come back!”

The dragon’s eyes glazed and it twisted back to plow into Albie, knocking the figurine out of his hand. The dragon, now free of whatever power was held over him hissed and tried to claw at his captor. Albie held on, screaming in pain as the dragon’s claws raked across his upper-arms. Fresh lines of red stained his arms and shirtsleeves scarlet.

“A little help?” He called.

The men turned from the dead bodies of the adult dragons and shot a tranquilizer dart into the membrane that stretched across his wings, not yet mature. Stumbling back, Albie watched as the dragon collapsed with a defeated sigh. The men calmly picked the dragon up and hoisted it into the cage they had brought.

“You should have been able to do that,” the tall man snarled.

Albie looked at him.

“I tried, Mr. Drake,” he offered half-heartedly.

Drake sneered down at him, black eyes glittering with malice.

“Trying is not good enough, Donahue.”

Albie followed Drake down the hillside, the climb much more depressing. As they neared the carnival train, the dragon moaned in its sleep. Albie surveyed the bars that held it ruefully. The men loaded the cage into one of the cars while Drake boarded. Albie followed more reluctantly, watching as they closed the door, obscuring the view of the infant dragon. Sighing, he stepped onto the train and found a seat in the boxcar just as the whistle sounded and the train pulled away into the night.

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