“Terry,” I say, while I run after him. He leaves the Grief Room, dragon charm shoved in his pocket. “Terry!” I slide between the door and the frame before he shuts it. He stares at the door. There’s nothing special about it. A regular Mainstay doorway. He rushes down the hallway and into the bright but foggy morning air.

“Terry,” I say, catching up to him. “Why the hell are you scratching the faces off the wall? And what do you mean you wish I could smell the lilacs?” I stumble over a rock and grab his arm to steady myself.

“You’re really going crazy,” I say.

“Yeah,” he says, running his hand through his hair. “I’m definitely crazy.”

We walk in silence to our secret spot. Once we both settle in, legs dangling off the mountain, feet sweeping through the mist, I say, “I found a path and I’m going to try it out today. What do you think?”

He leans back on his hands. “Woah,” he says, taking his hands off the ground and shaking them. “Did you feel that, Odon?”

I close my eyes. What do I feel? I feel the breeze on my face, Terry’s warmth next to me, and vibration on the rock below me. My eyes fling open. “Oh my gods. Do you think that’s –“

“The infamous dragon of Grandma’s tales?” he says with a smirk.

“Yeah. What if,” I say, “she wasn’t lying. What if your grandma was telling us the truth.”

“Has to be a lie,” he says. He leans back on his hands again and lifts his chin towards the sky. “But what if it isn’t, Odon?”

“Right,” I say. I pick a lilac and breathe it in then tuck it in my shirt pocket. My version of perfume. Also, when I go to the goat herd, I don’t smell their dirty selves, just this.

Terry is out of it today. He’s pretty quiet. I push on his shoulder. “That’s exactly what I said.”

He chuckles under his breath. “I think you would say to go and see if there’s a way off the mountain.”

My brows furrow. “Yes,” I say. “That is a summary of what I’ve been saying the last two days.” I lean over and press my lips against this cheek. I whisper in his ear. “But I know you’d say to try it so,” I say, “since you clearly missed sleep last night and sound like a lunatic, I’ll go explore the path the green-eye goat goes and I don’t know. Maybe I should take a weapon?” I stand and shake my head. “Not that Chief lets us have that kind of stuff. Eh,” I say, ruffling his hair. “I’ll tell you what I find tonight, okay?”

It looks like he nods so I take that as a yes.

To the goat herd, I go. You know, I like to put verbs at the end of sentences sometimes. I don’t know when I picked that up – might have read about it somewhere. But I like it.


Oh, green-eyed goat, how horrifying is that noise you make.

“Let’s go old thing, let’s go.” I pat her back hock and she leads me to the path again but this time, I push her back so I can go first. Lead the way, if you will. The ledge is narrow, fog dense at my feet. Probably for the better. I don’t particularly want to see how far the fall is. I inch my way to where the goat turned around yesterday. It’s right where the fog gets to eye level. I can’t see in front of me at all. My fingers on one hand find crevices to shove into and hold me to the mountain side and the other flails in front of me, not sure of what’s there. It’s nothing, if you’re wondering. I kneel down, not that the path is wide enough for two knees but I feel for the ground in front of me. It’s there.

Standing back up and using both hands to hold tight, I inch further down the path. I’m not sure if it’d be worse to see all the way down to the ground or if this fog is worse, disorienting the senses. The path narrows. Balls of my feet it is and I dig my fingers into the stone. Damn. One of my fingernails peeled back. Hangnail. Definitely bloody and maybe a hangnail isn’t the right term but I can’t look at it since my fingers are the only thing keeping me safe. I tiptoe a few more inches. And finally, absolutely finally, the ledge widens and I get below the fog line. I can see.

Seeing straight down is worse than the fog. Hands down. So sure. I can’t wait to tell Terry about this. He’s going to lose his mind hearing about this ledge. He’s hates heights. I mean, I’m no fan either but I don’t mind a little bit of adrenaline here and there. Terry? He keeps me dancing in the sky and I keep him grounded. We make a wonderful team. And you know a secret? I’d tell him I love him, like in love with him, but I’m not sure he’ll care like I want him too. I don’t think I’m his type. Herding goats, talking and talking and talking, and apparently, scaling mountain sides.

The path behind me disappears into the fog but in front of me seems to go on forever, wrapping the length of the mountain and disappearing around the curve that has to be miles from me. Green-eyed goat hasn’t followed me. I’m not sure when she stopped but I guess that’s a good thing. What if she pushed me?

Dark clouds blow in above me. Way, way above me. Terry probably has gone back to the Mainstay or maybe he’s working the fields. A raindrop lands on my shoulder. Wind starts to whip around me. There looks like there’s an alcove a few feet away. If I can make it to that, I can wait the worst of the storm out and then get back to Terry.

A few more feet should do it. I duck into it but it’s not an alcove. It’s more like a cavern. It goes back a ways. Of course, I have to follow it. Wouldn’t you? I can’t tell Terry about this but not actually explore it. It’s wide and the ceiling is high up. Boulders are scattered throughout. They shine like diamonds and rubies. Terry will love this. He loves rocks and minerals. It’s one of the books he never put in the room at the Mainstay. Stalagmites jut every so often. Ruddy and jagged. The tips are sharp and have brown stains running down. It gets darker and darker and the ceiling gets closer and closer. Finally, I kneel and finally, the light from outside can’t penetrate any farther. I feel around in front of me and find a narrow passage.

I’ll have to crawl through it. But I’m not doing that because there’s no light –

I take a few crawling steps in and there is a light. An orange glow is at the end of this passage. Guess what I’m going to do?

On my stomach, I go. My knees and elbows are going to hurt after this. The rock around me squeezes against my back and stomach but I’m almost there. I snake out of the passage and tumble into a vast room. The light is even brighter and the source is behind the corner. The smell of rot washes over me. What could possibly rot inside here? I take a step in and a breeze from somewhere smells like burnt hair.

I peek around the corner. The source of light.

It’s, I can’t believe I’m saying it. It’s sleeping. An orange ball of light in it’s chest or throat or sternum, maybe. It expands and contracts with every breath.

If I described it as a dinosaur from the Triassic period, I’d say it has the body and neck of a Nothosaurus and folded wings and long talons of a Eudimorphodon. I’m going to coin a term and write it down later but this is a sleeping Nothorodon. Jaws big. Teeth jutting from its mouth. Eyes flickering with a double eyelid opening and closing.

How’d it get in here? There is one narrow passage and no other passageways.

I step lightly. Carefully. Blood drops down my arms and legs from crawling. But the Nothorodon doesn’t smell it. I think. It’s nostrils tremble. Maybe if I could just touch it. I could touch it and tell Terry –

No, bad idea.

It stirs, nostrils twitching more. The double eyelids, they aren’t closing anymore. It’s staring at me. The pupils look just like a damn goat’s. Of course, it does. I take a few steps back until my back against the wall. It stands and shakes its whole body, stretching it’s wings from wall to wall. A step towards me. I take a step towards the passage. Step and step. Step for step.



I press myself as much as I can against the wall. It’s face so close to mine, heat radiates and sweat beads from my pores. It sniffs me. Strings hang from its teeth and nose and the smell, it churns my stomach. With every breath from it, more staggering heat touches my skin. This must be the dragon. The Nothorodon.

Terry’s grandma was telling the truth.

I keep inching towards the passageway. But I stop. The Nothorodon doesn’t like that, I don’t think. It takes a deep breath in. The orange glow grows and grows and grows. So does the heat in here. It stands on its back legs, wings stretching as far as the cave will let them. It looks towards the ceiling and the orange glow in it’s chest flickers.

Fire pours out of the Nothorodon’s mouth, straight towards the ceiling. The heat, the heat, the heat. The entire cave is as bright as a sunny day on top of the mountain which is the first time I’ve ever wished to be there in my life. I look for the passage way and sprint towards it. But then, something catches my eye.

The heat, I have to wipe the sweat from my eyes to see clearly.

There’s a rock in the wall. A perfect circle. It stands out in here. A circle amongst jagged walls and boulders of irregular minerals. I push it. Just to see if it’s top view of a fossilized Favosite coral from maybe the Ordovician period, long before dinosaurs or –

It’s a button. It slides in.

A noise so loud, I cover my ears, shakes the entire cave. The Nothorodon stops the fire and watches above it’s head. The ceiling is opening. Dust and rocks tumble in but so does daylight. It looks to me and back up. Then it takes off. A gush of wind knocks me down but I scramble to my feet and stare above me.

It’s the top of the mountain. It certainly is. And the Nothorodon is high above it, wings spread so wide now that the cave isn’t restricting it.

It screeches and the noise vibrates under my feet.

I scramble back through the passageway, through the cavern, and up the side of the mountain.

Terry is standing outside the Mainstay, staring like every other villager at the beast above.

“Terry,” I say, catching my breath. Chief stands right behind him. I pull on Terry’s hand and he follows me a few feet, far enough away to whisper in his ear. “Terry, I found the Nothorodon. I mean, I made the name up but what I'm saying is your grandma was right. A dragon was trapped in a cave down there. I released it.”

He looks right at me. Eyes a little glassy and a smile on his lips.

“You did it, Odon,” he whispers. “You did it.”



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