Another morning, another hangover, another tree.
Every time I go out these days, I end up paralytic and convinced of the need to rest on high ground. Urban warfare does that to you, along with flatlining your circle of friends and getting you acquainted with the local police. On first name terms, in my case. At least nobody got hospitalised this time – I’m in a tree, not in a cell.
A ‘large’ noise on my six makes me start. Something big just moved. Really big. I’m just contemplating staying still when the big thing sneezes like an A10 letting rip. What the bloody hell sneezes like that? And what replies in a language that sounds like a cat being drowned in a water-butt?
I roll over carefully and freeze. Just like the ‘be a rock’ my instructor drilled into me, except this is paralysis, not choice.
That’s a dragon with saddle and barding, with a cat-headed amazon standing with an arm in its flank, like it’s what she does every morning! Maybe she does. But not around here.
Last night must have been a serious bender, because the residual alcohol is still damping my emotions. Otherwise I’d be trying to imitate Road Runner, and we all know he’s slower than a coyote.
She’s looking my way. Oh, not good. It’s looking my way. Oh, crap.
“William Degeneres of the Seventy-Fifth?”
The accent is almost Somalian, but crisper on the sibilants. I nod.
“Clive Nugent sent me.”
That’s not possible. Clive got vapourised in a nameless Iraqi compound.
She sees me shaking my head: “He told me to tell you ‘I will never leave a fallen comrade’.”
I cannot help myself. The words come unbidden: “To fall into the hands of the enemy.”
The dragon nods and growls at the catwoman. She nods: “Clive did not die. The queen’s sorceress plucked him from certain death to aid us. He is a deadly soldier. The ‘rangers’ he trained are leaderless now that he has been captured. He always said that his rangers could rescue him, but they would need leading by someone from the Seventy-Fifth. You were his choice.”
I have a shaking fit and move from tree to ground smoothly, and without preparation. As I lie there, trying to get air into my lungs, she intrudes on my vision of branches and sky.
“You smell like a warrior lost in the peace after war. Clive said you would become like him.”
So that’s why Clive re-upped.
Her smile reveals a lot of silver-white teeth. “My queen offers a life of danger and excess. You will fight things beyond your present comprehension and enjoy rewards beyond your wildest dreams.”
I grin. This one I know. “I have very wild dreams, lady.”
The dragon head pushes her out of the way. The brown eyes start to glow. “Then you better come and see if we can meet the ticket, Ranger.”
Oh, that was slick. I’ve been played.
“I’ll come. Just so I can tell Clive that he’s a bastard to his face.”
Another morning. Another hangover. Another world. Much better.
Was a little confused about what was happening at first then I just rolled with it. The narrator's thoughts and observations were witty I thought. Made me smile for sure.
Oh, that's ... unexpected and very, very nice