A young reporter finds the perfect story
All things move toward death. It is part of the pattern that is our universe. You can find this pattern in the turning of the seasons, in the waves that make their final break upon the shore, in the eyes of those about to die.
Vern Pennon was a hack reporter for the National Enquirer, and most of his time was spent like a cockroach scuttling blindly through a lightless sewer. His only friend was a fat tabby cat that tolerated his companionship and glared at him with viperous eyes as yellow as egg yolks.
When the day came that Vern saw the enormous winged-beast take flight over the tips of the shadowed pines, he knew his life was about to change, all his dreams were about to come true.
Looking up at the horizon through his windshield, he immediately pulled his car over to the side of the mountain road. The night sky was diamonded with stars. "What the hell was that?" he asked aloud, craning his neck about. He turned off the engine and jumped out of the automobile. As he left the warmth of his car, his breath smoked from him as if a covey of ghosts, long in possession of his body, were being exorcised. This isn't Sasquatch, he thought, but it could well be the next big thing to hit the newsstands.
But he could see no beast in the sky, no gigantic creature flying through the forest. Nothing. Dejected, he walked back to his car. To Vern, life was sometimes like a giant machine designed to crush dreams as effectively as a junkyard hydraulic press crumpled cars into compact cubes.
As unforeseen as being struck by a bus as you stepped onto a busy downtown street, Vern was knocked over by an extraordinary gush of wind and the swishing sound of leathery wings. As he lay face-down in the graveled roadside, he saw the dragon. It swooped back and forth through the blackening sky, and then rising to its pinnacle of flight, hovered with the flapping of its great wings and looked down at Vern.
It was emerald green with a long barbed tail, two spindly legs that were birdlike, and its widespread toes had sharply curved talons. "It's a small dragon," Vern whispered to himself. "No, not a Dragon . . . a Wyvern."
Vern stood to get a better look, and then the Wyvern dropped its long neck and plummeted downward, wings folded, like an eagle toward its prey. "Oh, shit!" Vern yelped, and then again threw himself down on the ground and quickly slid under his car. The Wyvern did a quick loop-de-loop, hovered, and then landed on the roof of his Prius with a heavy thump. Vern could hear it scratching the car with its talons as it moved around. Its tail slapped the hood several good whacks, and then it took flight again.
After a time as the storm finally moved in and the snow began to fall, shedding flakes as big as flowerheads, Vern figured it was safe enough to crawl out from under his Prius and did so hesitantly. His car was a wreck: the roof smashed down with deep claw marks on it, and the hood all bent to hell and caved-in. To Vern this was proof of his encounter. He just needed pictures. Immediately he whipped out his phone and called his editor.
"Who is this?"
"It's me, Vern . . . Vern Pennon."
"You still work here?"
"Uh . . . yeah, Boss, of course. I gotta story. It's absolutely amazing."
"You're breaking up. I can barely hear you."
"I'm in the mountains, the Shantor Woods, above Glenview."
"I'm in the Shantor Woods."
"The enchanted woods?"
"No, no, no, the Shantor Woods! Can you hear me? Hello? Hello?"
The call dropped and Vern feverishly punched in the number again. Nothing. He walked around holding his phone up in the air trying to get more than one bar. Still nothing. "Dammit!"
He stared down at his snow-caked shoes and worked his cold toes to keep them from getting stiff. Looking around he saw the trees garlanded with snow like those on Christmas cards. What he didn't see was that his dragon-friend had returned and was hovering high in the hidden sky, watching. Off to his left and away from his car, he found two bars of reception, and then dialed again.
"Hello? Yeah, it's me Vern again."
"Why, Vern? Why are you calling me?"
"You gotta get some photographers up here to take shots of this."
"Because it's a dragon! An honest to goodness dragon!"
"A dragon. In the enchanted forest."
"Yes! You gotta get some shots. A real dragon!"
"Yes! Yes! A Wyvern!"
At that moment the small dragon attacked and hit Vern so hard from behind it instantly broke his back. Its long talons dug deeply into his shoulders but he couldn't feel it. He couldn't feel anything. As he was picked up and flown high above the snow-clad pines, he could see his smashed car, he could see for miles and miles, he could see farther than he could ever see before.
All things move toward death. It is part of the pattern that is our universe. You can find this pattern in the turning of the seasons, in the waves that make their final break upon the shore, in the emerald eyes of a sleepy Wyvern, now fully fed, and ready to take a long winter's nap.