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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chapter 6 - To the Dragon

What the hell is she doing???  Get back in the cellar you crazy Iraqi woman!!!


6 – To the Dragon (don't you mean AWAY from?)

            The woman darted around him before Jonathan could get an arm out.  She sidestepped a rack of sweaters and t-shirts and darted out to the street, running as fast as she could, lifting the long hem of her abaya just enough to reveal a few inches of denim and a pair of sneakers.
            Jonathan lost his grip on the bawling wife and the now limp form of her husband.  He nearly lost his balance, he turned so fast to watch the woman.  Hirsh nearly knocked him down in a sudden dash for the cellar door.
            “Help me get this open!” the captain shouted, bending down to try his luck with the handle.  But he couldn’t get it – he had his nine-mil in one hand, and the other had been burned like Higgins’s face.
            “Help me get this open!”
            Jonathan heard, but he didn’t respond.  His eyes were fixed on the girl.  He watched her darting out into the street.  She couldn’t even have a decent stride, the abaya was so long.  And she was headed straight for it – the dragon.
            A dragon.  Realization hit Jonathan fast.  Al-Taneen, Hakim had been saying: the dragon.  These people hadn’t been talking about a jet or a rocket or terrorists – they’d been talking about a flying fucking lizard.  And now it was coming in for a second pass.  Jonathan could barely make it out in the distance.  The sun glinted off the thing, making it sparkle like some kind of enchanted bat as the wings leveled with the ground.  And the girl was flapping her arms over her head – almost like she was waving to it.  Like she was drawing it in.
            And it hit him what she was doing.  She was doing what he should have done.  She was giving her life for – shit, he didn’t have time to think about that.  He shoved back the barrel of the machine gun to get it out of the way.  He held his hands out to the captain.  “Sir!  Your grenades!”
            Hirsh just stared.  He was on his knees, one hand on the bolted door, the other resting on his pistol and the floor.  His eyes were on the street – or on the girl, or on the dragon.  And Jonathan didn’t know if the captain was carrying grenades or not.  Did they trust officers with grenades?  Because they sure as hell didn’t trust Jonathan with any.
            He looked back out to the road.  She had stopped running.  She had only one arm up, now, but not waving.  And she was lowering to her side as the dragon began to pick up some real size.  Like watching a cargo plane coming in for a landing.  Except the wings were shiny black, and he could just make out the dark curled spikes emerging from the flame-red face.  By God the thing was big.  And it was still so fucking far away.  He could see the shimmer of the desert heat distorting the thing, it was still so far away.
            He was moving almost before he realized what he was doing.  One foot forward, then another, and he was trampling dresses and dress shoes to get out the door.  He had to lean forward to keep the assault pack on his back, and then the two-four-nine barrel was hitting the backs of his legs as he tried to worm the thing back around his body to fire.  Knock her down – all he had to do was knock her down.  All he had to do was keep the thing from licking her off the ground with its tongue.
            And of course he was too late.

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