Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. A story, about delusional thinking, begins after the photo.
Genre: Speculative Fiction/Humor
Efrem, my boss laid the news article before me on my desk. The header read, “Man Sees Dragons!” Efrem said, “I realize the Health Department doesn’t normally make house calls, but I’d like you to visit with this guy and assess his psychological health. If he’s dangerous to himself or others, we need to bring him in for help.”
I scanned through article the quickly. One paragraph caught my attention:
I was terrified. I could see the winged creatures in the distance. They were coming for me! I was weaponless, helpless to stop the approaching force of nature. But these were no natural things.
I promised Efrem I’d get right on it. Within hours I drove through the winding roads of Oregon near the city of Bend East of the Cascade mountains. Jackson Palmer’s house was rather humble, yet quaint, made from field stone and rough hewn wood. Mr. Palmer answered the door pleasantly enough. He invited me in and offered me a beer. Though his hair was wild and unkempt and his beard long, this wasn’t unusual in the wilder parts of Oregon, although it was a possible sign of neuroses.
In short order it was clear he was delusional, imagining attacking dragons. I put on my professional demeanor and said, “So, tell me about your mother…” We chatted amiably for perhaps 30 minutes before a rattling noise drew us outside. Dark clouds had formed and winds blew. On the roof, the weather vane pointed West to the mountains as it shook and rattled even though the storm clearly approached from the South.
While I puzzled over this, Jackson said, “It’s Them. They’re coming again.” He looked toward the West, clearly distressed. “I’m not even prepared!”
That’s when I saw, Them. Winged creatures of scale and horn flying low over the house. They were dragons, real ones, scales glittering in the light. “We’ve got to get ready,” Jackson shouted as he ran into the house.
I followed him, still shocked at seeing living mythical creatures. I ran through the house shutting and locking doors and windows. “Do you have a gun?” I called.
He pointed me to the gun case. He spread a table cloth across the long dinner table and laid out china and silverware. I ran, making preparations for attack. I found a heavy leather jacket and tied assorted pots and pans to it to protect myself from the bite of dragon’s jaws. Meanwhile, Jackson placed a roast in the oven. He was in shock, I realized. Though he was right about the dragons, he’d still lost his mind from the stress of the encounters.
Soon, a pounding sounded at the door. I dashed upstairs with the gun, expecting Jackson to follow. But no, the fool actually answered the door! I expected to hear the sound of shredding flesh, but instead I heard quiet voices and the door closing. What is happening down there, I wondered. I waited, hearing nothing untoward. I crept to the upstairs balcony and looked downstairs. There they were, three reptilian winged creatures stood encircling Jackson. Thinking of his helplessness, I dashed downstairs, shouting and waving the gun, intending to save him from the vicious beasts.
As I arrived, screaming, the creatures turned to me with bemused expressions. Jackson spoke to the dragons. “Ah, this is Holden, the fellow I mentioned. He’s come to us regarding psychological health.” He turned to me and said, “This is Bobby, Timothy, and Gordon.” Jackson winked meaningfully and pointed to the bluish creature. “Gordon is a psychologist.”
I stammered. “But in your article you said you were terrified by the creatures.”
“Yes,” said Jackson. “And later in the article it says we had dinner together, just like today. Didn’t you read the whole thing?”
“You said you weren’t prepared for them today!”
“Right. I wasn’t ready, so I quickly put in a roast for dinner. They love roast beef.
Gordon eyed me and my makeshift armor, complete with colander on my head, and muttered something about paranoid delusions. He took my hand and placed an assuring wing across my shoulders. “Let’s talk, shall we? Tell me about your mother…”
Each week, Alastair Forbes shares an original photo for those lucky ones of us to use as a flash fiction prompt. Wouldn’t you like to get lucky too? Share your story, or read lots of other wonderful stories right here: http://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2014/05/25/sunday-photo-fiction-may-25th-2014/