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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Fantasy · #2256851
Puff, the magic dragon wasn't just a made up old song. The reality sang a different tune.
2264 WC. for August’s "The Lair Contest (Mythical Creatures): prompt: graphic of a dragon landing from flight.

“Puff, the magic dragon, lives by the sea.” Amy Potter dodged another jellyfish washed up on the shore. One lash of the things barbed stinger suckers would send her off the beach for days.

“You are too young to be a Peter, Paul and Mary fan.” The long haired figure of a surfer figure climbed out of the water, a look-a-like for a youthful Poseidon.

“I’m on vacation. Spring break. I caught a starfish yesterday and look.” Amy held up the Conch shell, raised it to her ear and smiled at the sound of ocean waves.

“Nice. Ever surf? You are missing out if you haven’t. Name’s Cory Strane.” He stuck the end of his board in the sand. “This is a private beach, you know. If you get caught, there’s the embarrassment of a fine and possibly jail.”

Amy regarded his slim muscular body, comparing it with her’s needing a few pounds removed. “What’s that tattoo on your arm?”

“What? This?” Cory brushed driblets of sand and water away. “It’s my dragon.” His smile was filled with perfect teeth.

“Why ruin your body that way?” Amy said it a little teasingly, more than half envious he had a body like that to put it on. It was too late to hide the skimpy two piece swimsuit she wore and the curves struggling to hide within it.

“It is not just for show. Watch.” Cory struck a pose, flexed his muscles and held his breath tensing in concentration.

“Oh. My. God.” Amy couldn’t help herself. The dragon was moving. It’s tail curled. Its wings fluttered. The thing actually looked alive. “May I touch it?”

She knew it was a come on. That didn’t matter. She was hooked. Without waiting for permission she found her feet were moving forward, her palm reaching out to stroke the green tinted rippling scales. “It’s beautiful.”

“That tickles,” Cory said, stopping himself from staying a statue.

Amy couldn’t believe what happened next. “It’s sliding off your skin onto me. That’s impossible.”

Cory caught her before she fell. “It likes you.” He stroked the three inch three-dimensional figure resting on Amy’s palm with relaxed fingertips, as if this was the most common thing in the world. “It’s name is Puff, like in the song you were singing.”

“This isn’t happening,” Amy almost dropped the little creature. It hopped on her hand, fluttered its wings and hovered up to fly, landing on Cory’s shoulder.

“Believe what you want. Puff, say hello to the girl.”

Puff’s long neck stretched into an arc, twin tipped tongue flickered between snaggle toothed lips. Flame flickered. Smoke poured out in the shape of letters puffing out ‘hello’.

“He’s smart as a whip, isn’t he?” Cory said, reaching to help Puff slide down back in place.

“You are a magician. How did you do that trick?” Amy’s fingers reached out to touch Cory’s arm and jerked back.

“It won’t hurt you. That is, unless I told it too. Puff the magic dragon is just that. He doesn’t have to obey the physics of our natural world. I found him when he came visiting. Want to see some more magic?”

Before she could pull her jaw back up from her feet and answer, there it was. Puff had landed on her shoulder. It slid down bouncing onto a shivering hand reaching up to grab it. Puff spun a triple somersault, flame surrounding it as shooting stars shot like fireworks out into the air.

A seagull, swooping down looking for a handout, shrieked, did a hasty u-turn and returned to the ocean breeze. Cory was talking. Amy heard the last few words he said. “Hold your hand out. Puff wants to rest and give you a gift.”

Stunned into startled obedience and fearful of not doing just that, Amy did. Puff settled, curling its tail up high above it while settling the rest of its scaly green body down. “Gift?”

‘Yours’ floated up in smokey letters. Puff turned his head looking bashful and proud.

“What is it?” A marble sized golden ball covered in sunlit scales rolled out from under Puff.

“An unfertilized dragon’s egg. Worth money if you knew where to get it.” Cory motioned. Puff sighed. A flicker of lightning broke from its mouth and it flew back to the space Amy first saw it. “Told you Puff likes you. Never seen him take to anyone like this. You must be special.”

Cory winked one blue eye. Amy noticed, coming to her senses, the other one was green. He turned, pulled his surfboard free and began walking away. “So long.”

**************

“Puff. Come back,” Amy called.

As if by magic, there Puff was. “Hey.” Cory shouted, scaring more seagulls away from hopeful tidbits. His feet spun up sand as he made his way to Amy’s side.

“Puff likes me for a reason.” The dragon was playing with the golden highlights in Amy’s hair playing with the breeze. “Let’s find out what that is.” No-one else was on the beach as far as Amy could see. How easy it had been to go from feeling she was hallucinating to facing a magical alternate reality.

“I guess. Not up to me.” Cry looked saddened by not having Puff’s complete attention. “Put out your arm.”

Amy nodded, smoothing the light golden down on her tanned skin, encouraging Puff. ‘O.K.!’ Puff breathed out a smoky breath, flew up in the air and darted full speed at her arm.

“Close your eyes or it may hurt,” Cory encouraged.

There was a twitch like a bee sting and then it was gone. Amy opened her eyes. Sure enough. The tattooed version of Puff looked permanently inked on her arm.

It was none too soon. Other surfers were headed from the parking lot down towards her. “Hey. This is private property.”

“Oh, oh.” Cory flinched. Another van load of husky angry, well muscled surfers erupted in his direction. “I can’t protect you unless Puff is on my arm. They look mean.”

“What do I do?” Amy asked. It was too late. The first of the mob was already pushing at Cory. A second hulk seized Cory’s surfboard, laughing as he headed with it out to the curling waves.

“Hey. That’s mine.” Cory struggled to get free from more hands grabbing at him.

“Puff?” Amy shivered as men surrounded her. She reached up to rub the dragon alive. Her golden egg dropped from her hand into the sand at the surf gang’s leader’s feet. “That’s mine. It is priceless. One of a kind.”

“Well. Thank you. Payment for services in advance.”

Cory managed to kick the guy in the butt as the dude leaned over to get the free treasure. It sent the surfer face first into the sand. The distraction allowed Cory to break free. “Run.”

Would be tackler’s bounced off each other as Cory danced and wove, feet churning up spitting sand into faces. Amy got the message and her dragon’s egg flying up to greet her. “Which way?”

There was only one way left. The broken circle of attackers hemmed her in. “Poseidon’s waves. Help me, Puff.”

A hand clamped onto her wrist. “Sorry, darlin’. You are mine.”

There was a roll of thunder echoing up and back from the cloudless sky, followed by a flash of lightning from where Puff’s tattoo’d snout wiggled on Amy’s arm. She broke free at full speed, running so fast she couldn’t stop, aimed into a perfect dive at a large wave aimed at her.

Smoke rose in a question mark above the sunburned hand of the stranger. “Jesus. She’s made of static electricity. She could have killed me.”

Instead of following Amy, he danced and hopped his way to a pool of brackish left over ocean to bury his hand in it. The others followed to see what all the excitement was about. None seemed interested, now that Cory and Amy had been scared off the private beach. Only the surfer riding Cory’s board remained a problem. He aimed himself at Amy’s head.

“What do we do now, Puff? Where’s Cory?” Amy dog paddled in place, not being much of a swimmer. It took all of her lagging energy to open the key pouch in her swimsuit and add her dragon’s egg there.

The surfboard coming up behind her almost bounced off her head. “Going under.” She heard as a hand grasped her long floating hair, twisted it into a knot and pushed her head under the salty water.

Amy thrashed, gargling bubbles as she let her breath out trying to scream. She came up for air only to be pushed down a second time and then a third. The surfboard floated above her head. The rider’s feet hung over each side, waiting to push her under again.

It wasn’t Amy’s hands that brushed one of them. It was the arm with Puff the magic dragon tattooed on it. Water boiled as if struck by lava, sending steaming tendrils of riverlets bubbling up around the board.

The board flipped, pulling Amy up to the surface as its rider rode the air out further to sea. She found herself laying face up on Cory’s surf board, sliding on a cooling current of soothing water with Puff settling back on her arm.

Amy coughed, spitting out water, not daring to sit up. “Thanks Puff. You saved me. How do we get back?” She had no idea how to use a surfboard other than to stand on it (impossible) and ride a wave where it was going towards shore. That’s where the mean guys were. No way.

She bobbed up and down on gentle ripples of current while she thought things out. Puff had helped when needed, without asking but was an unknown regarding her predicament. “Oh, Puff. I wish Cory were here.”

**************

With a tired sigh, Amy prepared to doze and regain much needed strength. A wary part of her balanced on the edge of sleep, making sure she didn’t slide back into the deep. “Puff the magic dragon, lived by the sea…” Her lips whispered more disjointed words from the childhood song, “...And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff”.
The tug on a strand of her wet golden hair brought her eyes open. “What?” It smelled like her hair was burning.

It made her sit up, her body balanced back and forth on the board. She felt the small weight of Puff adjust to her shoulder. “You could have burned me.” The strand of her smoking hair lay in the dragon’s paws.

Puff blew on the smoke, making it churn and dance into letters before her eyes. “Thank you for the gift. Look. There.”

A small boat changed direction. Cory waved from behind the wheel, standing up in excitement now that he could see her. “Been searching for you. Hey. You saved my board. What a friend.”

Amy fiddled with the burned off end of her strand of hair still on her head. “I’m ugly.” She could feel tears growing in her blurred up eyes. Too much had happened too fast. Too much had gone wrong. “I’ve had enough of you and your dragon. Take him back.”

“Oh, come on. Let me help you into the boat. To me you are beautiful.” Cory didn’t wait for her to reach out. He leaned over the edge of his craft and levitated her up against him, sealing the event with a hearty kiss. “Boy, am I glad to see you. I got really worried. How’s Puff?”

“Why are there stars in your eyes?” Amy asked, near breathless with having felt Cory’s lips remain a tad long where they’d touched. It was her first kiss.

“Looks like some of my stars escaped into your eyes, Amy. Let’s try it again.” This time the kiss was returned by Amy with eager measure.

“Oh. Oh. Something important. Puff is making smoke signals.” Cory edged himself down to sit beside Amy in the boat. The burbling engine sputtered and quit. “Out of gas? Out here?”

Puff slid off Amy’s arm, uncurling his wings and tail to fling a dart of fire into the sky. Smoke clouds collapsed into letters. “Mission completed. Raise my egg with love.”

It was Amy who asked, leaning her head on Cory’s arm where Puff used to be. “I love you, Puff the magic dragon.”

“And Cory,” puffed the dragon.

It was true. The two could see love reflected, at least its birth, in each other’s eyes. “Your dragon’s egg is fertilized? You want us two to take care of it?”

“Safer here,” smoked Puff. “Be a good nest.”

“You’ll be back?” Amy asked, knowing the answer would be yes but not when.

“He’ll be in touch,” Cory smiled, rubbing where the tattoo had been. Love has a way of connecting across alternative realities as well as in our own, I think. Isn’t that right, Puff?”

Cory grasped and held Amy's hand, curling it like Puff's tail, making her fingers his own. "He's a good egg. I wonder how dragons pro-create?" He shuddered and said, "No I don't. Some mysteries should remain just that." Cory had a feeling the dragon would be there when needed, both for them and for the dragon egg. Perhaps there would be future tales to be shared.

Instead of blowing smoke, Puff the magic dragon nodded his snout, lit the sky up with a spear of lightning and sound of thunder, after which disappeared in a cloud of smoke.


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