Tomorrow Belongs to the Dragons
1543 words long
There's nothing particularly unusual about dragon skeletons.
Notes from the author:
A common assumption made in speculative fiction is that magic and technology don't coexist. They can't. You either have magic, in which case you're reading fantasy, or you have technology, in which case you're reading science fiction. There are exceptions, of course--the Star Wars universe juxtaposes space travel with a particular form of religious magic, and the Mageworld series by Doyle and Macdonald takes that juxtaposition even further--but they are very much outnumbered. Besides, their inclusion of magic is enough to get critics sneeringly labeling them "space fantasy" anyway.
Another assumption, built off the first, is that the development of technology causes magic to die off. We gain telephones only to lose telepathy. As automobiles evolve, so must unicorns go extinct. The fae exile themseleves to the summerlands, declaiming as they go that there is no room for wonder in the scientific mind.
Yet a third assumption is that this is a one-way process. Magic fades away, science takes its place, and technology advances toward the singularity and beyond. I think it's supposed to be a metaphor for growing up. In order to gain knowledge and become an adult you have to give up your childlike imagination. Some depressing nonsense like that, anyway.
But you have to be careful about making assumptions. They often turn out to be wrong. And metaphors don't define the things they point at.
Back when I moved into the Oceanview condominiums, Mary was the first of my new neighbors to officially welcome me. She swept in, set a fresh pie on my kitchen table, and sat down to chat. She stayed for the next couple hours, despite having begun to rub me wrong only five minutes in, because I couldn't figure out how to send her home again without seeming ungrateful. She kept coming over after that. She turned up one morning when I was just leaving to walk my dog, and she invited herself along. Thirty-three years and a change of dog later, she was still joining me for the morning walk and continuing to get on my last nerve.
My current dog was a Yorkshire Terrier, as yappy and enthusiastic as any of his breed. My previous dog, Phil, had been a greyhound, sweet and gentle and disconcertingly intelligent. But greyhounds need to run, and by the time Phil died, my knees had put too many years on to make that kind of effort anymore. Small yappy dogs being the traditional province of old ladies, I yielded to the inevitable and adopted Jaeger.
Jaeger was dumb as a brick and ornery as a diaper rash, but he was good company and hella entertaining. He liked to investigate the tide line for interesting things that might have washed ashore. But some mornings, like today, I wanted to be the one to investigate interesting things. That's when I'd steer us up the beach toward the rock cliffs that were the current resting place of the king of the reptiles.
There's nothing particularly unusual about dragon skeletons. Manticore are uncommon, and the discovery of a sphinx will make the news, but dragon bones are common as muck. Still, the Oceanview Dragon was mine, and that made it special. I like to visit it. It made me feel part of a bigger world. Besides, at my age it's a comfort to look at things that are that much older than me.
The beach route had been Mary's idea in the first place--she'd conceived of a feud with a family on the next block and insisted we stop going past their house--but she preferred to stay well away from the cliff face. She had an irrational and irritatingly performative distrust of all mythofauna. When she saw today was going to be a dragon morning, she sighed hugely and made an exasperated humming noise in the key of "if you insist." That was pretty restrained for Mary. But as we got closer she got less restrained. "Oh, Hannah, look at how worked up Jaeger's getting. You can tell he senses something's wrong...."
This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for March 9, 2018. Subscribers can download the full-length fictionette (1543 words) from Patreon as an ebook or audiobook depending on their pledge tier.
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