Stories

The Crystal Dragon, Part Seven, by Edward King

#crystal dragon

The hooded figure crouched on the hill watched the company recruits stream down the path towards Educational Building Two, the blocky warehouse in the Oilberger facility.

He watched them stream into the hall through his binoculars.

His recruits. Fresh from college, all still clothed in dreams. The women (poor things!) banding together early, or else drawing a group of boys around themselves.

All still clinging to their dreams. No, not clinging–holding them like the branded tote bags we handed them at orientation.

He smiled.

Fresh meat, fresh meat, fresh meat for the machine!

%%

The recruits walked down the path to the meeting. Hammer had dreamed he was walking in a strange city. No one had spoken the same language as him. The architecture and food was unfamiliar, too, and enticing.

He had only slept for a few hours after the dragon had appeared in the hallway of the dorms, taking on, for a moment, the face of his ex-girlfriend from back home. Alex. It was telling that he was unable to even picture her any more, so focused was he on his own feelings of loss since arriving in Siberia.

He hadn’t even seen the outside. It had been airport, bus, bus, gate, dorm. The facility was meant to train them to work as oil services contractors, but so far he hadn’t been to a single class. There was nothing to occupy him in the present, and so most of his soul resided back home, in the past.

In his dream, in the city of cities, not knowing where to sleep, he had wandered around looking for a hotel. He found one where downstairs, a cafe was filled with office workers drinking espresso. Outside, the sun was going down over the square. It was still warm. Wasn’t it far too late for coffee?

Just as he went to order a coffee himself…

His dream cut to a grey facility above the town.

It was some kind of broadcasting station… locking his brain… keeping him in silence!

%%

Dartle mopped the sweat from his forehead. He was in the classroom behind the stage of Educational Building Two, trying to organize his speaking notes. Orientation beginning… class schedule… W2 forms… dragon attack in the dorms. This wasn’t going to be easy.

His wife had been talking to that man on the phone again. She barely even hid it. She hated it here, he was sure.

Who was it? Was it Johnson?

A fresh wave of panic hit him as he checked his watch. Seven o’clock: time to get on stage.

This wasn’t going to be easy.


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