Dragon Snot and Chosen Ones | Audio
By Therese Arkenberg
Therese Arkenberg is a student from Wisconsin, though she studies only in the most extreme circumstances, and many of her works are penned in the classroom. Her fiction has previously been published in Kaleidotrope, The Lorelei Signal, Everyday Weirdness, the Thoughtcrime Experiments anthology, Things We Are Not, an anthology of queer science fiction, and the anthology Sword and Sorceress 24. Several of her short stories are also available at AnthologyBuilder.com.
"I'm not like all the other dragons," it sniffs.
I sigh and lower the point of my spear. Seems like this one wants to talk. Over the years I've realized that dragons, like humans, will gladly unburden themselves on anyone they think is listening. Unlike humans, they include among this number people coming to kill them.
"I know hu-humans call me a mindless brute, but really I'm not." The dragon sniffs again and checks with one red-rimmed eye to see if I'm listening. "I'm the Chosen One of dragons."
"Oh really?" I say. This year, humans alone have had twelve different Chosen Ones, thirteen if you count each of that pair of twins, and rumor tells of an Elvish one in the north. But a draconic Chosen One?
"And what exactly are you chosen to do?" I ask. As I speak, I begin to raise my spear again, ever so slightly. In my career as a dragon slayer, I've learned to take advantage of their penchant for talking. It distracts them.
"I'm supposed to be the one wh-who kills all the humans," the dragon says. "To end the dragon-slayers, once and for all." It sniffs again, and I barely resist the urge to retreat at the thought of the dragony mucus moving up dragony nasal passages. That stuff is flammable, you know. It's the whole reason dragons breathe fire. Some say dragons are like snakes, and have venom, and that venom catches fire on contact with the air, but don't let them fool you. It's really just dragon snot.
But it does catch fire on contact with the air.
The dragon is still watching me with eyes raw with the beginning of crocodile tears. Or draconic tears, which are the same thing.
"You've done a pretty good job of killing humans," I say. "That's why I've come here." And I take a small step closer, spear raised a little high, to do what I've come here to do.
"But you don't understand!" It sniffs again, the greatest sniff yet. Trying to hold back slimy dragon tears, if I know my thing. Which I do. "I defy my destiny! I don't want to be the Chosen One! I want to be friends with humans! I try, and sometimes I come down and talk to humans in their little villages and, well, it's just sometimes, I, I, Ió" Its voice breaks. The miserable thing is about to start bawling like a baby. Its eyes close, and I step forward, spear raised...
The world around me bursts into flame.
"I think I have allergies," the dragon confesses to the pile of cinders before it. "I always sneeze."