I chose the image of the field viewed from inside a ruined castle in Wales for my twenty-minute prompt this week. It was going well, so I ended up writing for more like 30 minutes on this one.
Welsh Dragon Tour:
Kyle crouched against the crumbling stone castle wall, the weathered surface rough through his t-shirt. He had not just seen that, had he? He lifted his head just a little, craning his neck so he could see over the wall while hopefully not being noticed.
There was a little grove of trees just below the wall, and then several green fields of sheep on either side of the stream. Beyond that there were more trees and the farm buildings and then the rolling hills, or maybe small mountains. He saw the mountains first, then the farm buildings, then the fields as he slowly inched upward out of his crouch.
It was still there.
There was a dragon in the field.
It was eating sheep.
The river seemed to be turning to steam, leaving a hazy cloud of water vapor around the dragon. It didn’t seem to care, but Kyle figured if it was causing the river to turn to steam by standing in it, then it didn’t mind heat or humidity.
Kyle wasn’t sure how big the dragon was, since he was so far away, but it was eating the sheep whole, so it’s head had to be at least three times the size of a sheep. It had a long sinuous neck, letting it turn to look a full 360 degrees around itself. Its legs were short, so its belly almost touched the ground, but they were thick and strong looking. It turned, facing away from the castle to get more sheep, so Kyle chanced grabbing his phone to take a picture. No one was going to believe this even with a picture, but he wanted to remember, or leave some evidence behind if it ate him.
He snapped a few quick shots and then zoomed in to get the best image he could of the full dragon up close. Its big leather bat-like wings were spread out wide, and seemed to be glistening slightly, like they were wet maybe. Its tail was long and shifted back and forth as it moved, like it was using it as a counter-weight or something. The end looked like it was a ball with spikes. As if the giant jaws weren’t scary enough, Kyle was pretty sure one hit from that tail would kill just about anyone.
Kyle crouched back down again. He looked over at the other people on his tour. One of the guides, Melody, was holding Rachel, the French girl, who was still crying. The other guide had gone down the other side of the ruins to see if it looked safe to get to their bus. Ryan, the Kiwi, and Ellen, the Canadian were hugging each other.
“What did you see?” Ryan asked.
“It’s eating sheep,” Kyle said. “It’s still there and it’s eating sheep.”
“What do we do?” Ellen asked.
“Gary called 999,” Melody said. “If it looks like it’s safe for us to leave, we’ll leave.”
“The bus would be visible from the field if we drove off, wouldn’t it?” Ryan asked.
“Probably,” Kyle said, peaking up again. “Yeah, definitely.”
“I’m sure the emergency response folks will let Gary know what they want us to do,” Melody said.
“Are we safe here?” Ellen asked.
“As long as it’s down there eating sheep, probably,” Melody replied.
“Let’s hope it doesn’t run out of sheep then,” Ryan said.
Kyle whole-heartedly agreed. He peaked back up, doing a quick count. There were at least a few dozen sheep left in the closest field. Maybe ten in the two further out where the dragon had been eating. It didn’t seem to be eating anymore. Kyle hoped it didn’t get full either. But maybe if it wasn’t hungry it wouldn’t be a danger to them? They were probably small and insignificant to it.
Gary came back, moving in a crouch along the wall. He came to a stop next to Kyle.
“Alright, there’s a back way out we can take that should keep the bus from being visible from the fields,” he said. “They’re sending people to check out what’s going on and figure out how to keep everyone safe, but right now, they just want us to be away from here. Pretty sure they only believed me because the farmer down there had already called in a pissed off panic because he’s losing sheep.”
“We can get to the bus without being seen?” Melody asked.
“There’s a short stretch were we might be visible, but I figure if we run it in pairs we’ll be fine.”
“It’s looking the other way right now anyway,” Kyle said, peaking up again. “We should go before it turns around.”
“Agreed,” Gary said. “Let’s go.”
Kyle followed Gary. They stayed in crouched until the walls got high enough to run a little more upright. When they got to the entrance, where they’d have to run across the gap to the bus, Gary stopped.
“Melody, take Rachel across first. Be ready to start the bus and drive off as soon as the rest of us are on.”
“Understood,” Melody said, getting a good grip on Rachel’s hand. “Ready?” she asked.
“Yes,” Rachel said, not sounding confident at all as she held onto Melody’s hand.
They ran across the space and up into the bus.
“Who’s next?” Gary asked, looking at the rest of them.
“You two go,” Kyle said. He was on the track team, so if anyone had to run faster, then he should be the one.
“You sure?” Ryan asked.
“I’m fast, I’ve got this,” Kyle assured him.
“Okay,” Ellen said, grabbing Ryan’s hand. “Let’s go.”
Ryan nodded and they ran the whole way and right up the steps onto the bus. Kyle could see them move down a few seats and then disappear, probably crouched in the foot space rather than actually sitting.
“Ready?” Gary asked.
“Ready,” Kyle said.
Gary started off and Kyle kept close behind him. They were half way across when he noticed movement in his peripheral vision.
“Oh, crap,” Kyle said as the giant, clawed, four-toed foot came at him.
Kyle tried to speed up, but he just wasn’t fast enough. That foot wrapped around him, pinning his right arm to his side as he was lifted off the ground.
“Go!” Kyle shouted as Gary looked back.
Gary made it onto the bus and the door closed behind him.
Kyle’s stomach lurched every time he was jerked higher, the heavy beats of the dragon’s wings taking them upward. He watched the bus drive off without him as the castle came into view below them. This was not the kind of Welsh Dragon he was expecting when he booked this tour.