February 2024: Storytime Bloghop

Since I missed out on the Bloghop in autumn for the first time ever, you’ll get not one, but two #free #stories on my blog today. You’ll find even more if you follow the links below the stories.

As to my writing, I haven’t done any aside from this short story. However, I have turned one of my short stories into a comic. It’ll still take a little while but I’ll be publishing it soon, hopefully before Easter. After all, it’s about the Easter Hare. I’m contemplating publishing it as a bilingual comic with the original short stories added. If this sounds like a good idea to you, please let me know in the comments.

And here’s my story:

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What If

“What if there really were dragons?” Sitting on the ground in front of her French windows, Jane looked into the summer sky that dwarfed the grassy plain beneath where her father’s horses grazed. The sun was sinking rapidly. Another day nearly over. She sighed and tried to focus on something else. “Would they come and eat our horses?”

“Of course.” Her older brother Tom lifted his hands over his head, curling his fingers into claws. “And they’d eat you too!” He raked her back with his claws. They didn’t draw blood but they still hurt.

Jane knew better than to cry, but she couldn’t suppress a moan.

“Oh, little sissy, did that hurt?” Tom kicked her. His shoes were hard and they touched old bruises.

Jane fought her tears valiantly and didn’t make another sound. She watched Tom strode through her big pink and green room. The friendly floral wallpaper, the white feathery light fixture hanging from the ceiling, and the meticulously made bed were such a contrast to his nastiness.

Tom went to her writing desk, grabbed her diary, and grinned. “One day I’m gonna add something that gets you into real trouble with Dad.”

As if she’d ever put anything into that diary that didn’t align with Mom’s and Dad’s rules. And she’d trained herself to write so sloppy that he hadn’t yet figured out how to emulate her writing. So that rendered his threat useless.

For now.

Jane lowered her gaze, blinking away tears. Staring at the fluffy white circular carpet on the parquet floor with a sad expression often convinced him she was sufficiently subdued. Today too.

With her diary in his hands he turned to leave. “Room control is in ten minutes. I’d clean up if I were you.”

The door slammed behind him, and Jane looked around in panic. Was anything wrong? Did he bring in dirt? There wasn’t even a grain on the ground, so that wasn’t it. But there had to be something. She got up and searched the room in greater detail. Her heart raced as she examined every square millimeter of the room. Why couldn’t it be smaller? What had he hidden that didn’t belong?

When she lay on the ground, she saw two red lights in the darkness under the bed and let out a relieved sigh. He’d brought one of his robots. Well, she’d put it into the corridor and leave it there. That way he wouldn’t get her into trouble. Mom and Dad didn’t ever scold him for being untidy.

She shimmied forward and reached for the red eyed thing under her bed.

It hissed. Keep your fingers away from me or I’ll bite them off.

The voice sounded right inside her mind. Jane sat up and bumped her head on the bedframe. “Outch.”

Her gaze shot to the door. Had someone heard? Despite her fear of whatever sat under her bed, she peeked again. “Look,” she whispered, trying to add urgency to her voice. “I don’t care who or what you are. You need to leave right now. My parents will inspect my room in just a few minutes.”

So? They can’t hurt me. The voice sounded sullen and a little defensive.

“But me.” Jane forced the words out. Of course it wouldn’t mean anything to the creature under her bed. After all, they weren’t friends and only friends stood up for their friends, she’d heard. She couldn’t tell. She’d never had friends.

Well, it’s not like I want to be in a human’s dwelling. The scratching of claws on wood seemed to fill the room with a noise so loud that surely her parents would hear. Only inches away from her face, an emerald snout with countless gleaming white teeth grew out of the dark. It was big but not scarily so, and the red eyes seemed to look at her without malice. And Jane was good at detecting malice.

Someone chucked my egg under this, the head jerked toward the bed, so I hatched here. Are you stuck too?

“In a way.” Jane heard voices coming up the stairs and looked around frantically. “You need to hide.”

I need to leave.

“Good idea.” She jumped to her feet and ran to the French doors. They were a little hard to operate in summer, but they’d allow the creature, whatever it was, to flee before her parents reached her room. She pulled with all her strength and the right hand wing slowly eased open.

The creature was roughly the size of a grownup. A scale covered lizard with a tail, a teeth studded snout, four stumpy and clawed legs, and skin dangling from its shoulders. It rushed past her, spread emerald wings, and took off into the last rays of the sunset, just as the door to her room opened.

Had that really been a dragon? A real dragon? Jane’s heart thumped in her chest, as much from the surprise as from the knowledge that there was no way she could explain that to anyone. Least of all to her parents.

“Why is it so dark in here?” Despite her words, Mom didn’t switch on the lights. She seemed to be in a bad mood. A bruise had formed on her forehead. The usual. “And who said you could open the window?”

“I guess, you need some disciplining.” The belt slipped from Dad’s trousers with a swish that made her legs wobble. Not again. She stepped away from the open glass door as he stepped forward, rolling most of the belt around his hand, leaving the buckle to dangle.

“I just needed some fresh air,” she whispered, knowing fully well that there was no way she’d be able to escape his wrath. Already tears were running over her face.

“Don’t you remember the rules?” Mom pointed to Dad. “You have to ask your father for permission!”

Dad took another step forward, and Jane backed away some more, crying silently the whole time. “Please. I didn’t mean to. I just … I’m sorry, Dad. Please don’t hit me.” Sometimes, if she cried badly enough and begged enough, he stopped before she passed out.

Something dark shot through the open door, low to the ground and as black as night. Dad screamed as the shadow flew over his body with barely a hand-width of space between them.

The belt fell to the ground and the air suddenly smelled of urine and rust.

A bright flame shot into the air, catching the ceiling right where the light was. The feathers caught and a few seconds later, the whole ceiling was beginning to burn.

The shadow circled gracefully around Mom and came at Jane from behind. She closed her eyes, waiting for the end.

Spread your legs, the voice in her head said. Hurry. Or do you want to burn?

Although extremely surprised, Jane did as she was told. As she spread her legs, something warm and smooth and scaled slipped between them, lifting her off the ground. She opened her eyes, just as the dragon turned toward the open window. The fire was eating rapidly into the house’s wood. Tom stood in the door, staring at her and the dragon like he’d seen a ghost. Mom was dragging Dad toward safety. He seemed too stunned to realize his arm was badly mangled. Blood dropped from the hand that hung limp at his side and his trousers were wet, but he was walking.

As the dragon carried her into the mild summer night, Jane was sure her family would get out before the whole house burned down. She had no idea what the future would bring, especially with a dragon as a rescuer—or friend—but she was more than ready to face whatever the world had to offer, It couldn’t be worse that what she’d lived through already.

She did not look back.


Visit the others:
First Real Assignment by Bill Bush
A Whole New World by Barbara Lund
Eye of the Beholder by Chris Makowski
Subject: If You Don’t Hear From Me Again by Gina Fabio
Percival’s Bane: The Demon and The Void by Juneta Key
Rabble Rouser by James Husum


7 thoughts on “February 2024: Storytime Bloghop”

  1. Christopher Makowski says:

    This one went to good places as far as I see.

    1. Cat says:

      I thought so too. At first, when I started writing, I feared it’d go down the dark lane like many of my stories right now.

  2. Bill says:

    I wish all kids had a rescuer like that. Wonderful story!

  3. Barbara says:

    Poor kid – so glad her ending is a new beginning!

    1. Cat says:

      Yes, me too. Recently, way too many of my story ideas go places I do not want to go. So they remain unwritten. It’s part of why I’m currently struggling with writing.

  4. James, F.E. says:

    Caliwandalous story!

    And you made a comic? Cool! Making it bilingual sounds good too.

    1. Cat says:

      It was so much fun!

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