"Small" writing challenges for my small writing talent. Hotel note pads are the only space allowed. Let's see if I can strip it down and tighten it up to learn something. Improving my skill of weird fiction.
When Ray stokes the coals, someone gets hurt. Every. Time. He looked over at that great big creature. Straining the ropes, it looked back at him. It knew. The branding iron glowed a bright cherry red in the fire, gripped by Ray’s meaty gloved hands.
Holding back a lump of chaw with his teeth, Ray said, “Ready boys?”
“Yep!” Yelled Remus, in the unlucky bunch of hands holding the beast’s ropes. His white cowboy hat tipped with nodding as he told the others to lean back and plant their feet.
Ray picked up the iron. The company mark. Once trained and ready, each and every animal received it. Remarkably, they understood. The breed on this ranch are tribal in nature and stick together with those they trust. They pretty much know what a human says but with a look they can tell you they don’t understand something. They remember everything. Cross one and an apology will take serious time. This big fella, Clifton, knew what was coming. The others from his clutch have the same mark. He wanted it too. His bumpy tail whumped the ground slowly and the group of men felt it up through their boots. Ray pushed forward and roasted the grey speckled scale good above the hindquarter.
Clifton’s big head pulled on the ropes with a guttural moan and the ranch hands slid across the dirt on their heels, trying to dig in. Ray backed away and put the iron in the water bucket, hissing cold. Clifton raised up on his legs to find comfort. Folded wings adjusted a bit and his neck came back down, pushing Remus and his men over each other. All groaning, one yelling. Hats rolling in circles. Clifton hopped once to the trough and took in a few gulps of water, then spraying some toward the new brand on his behind.
Ray laughed, “Cliff! Your mark’s over there! Gosh darn it,” and he shook water off his hat and sleeves. Jeans soaked.
Clifton, the mountain Gyo, equal parts snake and alligator, got his brand today and would begin working the hill country soon. Remus’s gang brushed off the dirt but Billy, strong and young, won a whiskey double in the office for a newly twisted ankle. Clifton watched him hobble away and gave an apologetic nasal grunt. No sprains or breaks tonight at the dragon ranch.
(Author’s notes: ) January 4, 2016. Dallas, TX.
My previous entry on inspiration and dragons represents some of it’s work here. Frankly, I never wanted to read about dragons, they always seem to be way too fantasy for me, or I felt I was past the D&D game phase of my life. Putting them on a level of alternate history, and not as a far out otherworldly fantasy tale, makes the idea not just palatable, but extremely interesting given a proper setting. I want to treat all of my subjects as plausible. Assuming dragons are real, how would the world have lived with them? There’s mythology and creation of story by thousands of writers old and new. I won’t go literally by the book but I will treat mythology fairly. Like my previous entry said, I will take myth as exaggerated suggestion of the reality. Like any American tall tale. I went down the list and I characterized every type found with an eye to their general temperament/intelligence/ability. What we have here is a Gyo dragon which was a Korean mountain dragon. I ditch the nationality and keep the type as the name of dragon and put it in the American landscape like many of our animals introduced here long ago, such as Arabian horse, or Appaloosa. Mustang. So, I find a mountain Gyo is good for mountain work, smart like a horse and empathetic like a cat or dog can tell how you feel. Other dragons, not so much. I’m finding their legends to portray some as not empathetic at all and selfish, or the Persian dragons are completely malevolent. So here’s a story where they breed and train them for work in rough terrain. Enjoy.