It was one of those nights. A night that Frost described most accurately, "…and miles to go before I sleep." I had been working on my new paper concerning the reality, or root in reality, that is contained in the ancient myths and folklore about vampires. I had interviewed Transylvanians, read all the tales, and looked into extensive and annoyingly complex and long accounts of supposed "attacks," but so much more remained ahead of me before I was prepared for Friday's deadline.
It wasn't easy being an esteemed scientist with a Ph.D. and working in a field that half the scientific community thought of as a joke, but it was my field. I was determined to prove that if you dig deep enough into myths and legends, you will find some remnant of truth, and this was my life.
It was on one of those long, boring nights that I first glimpsed him. I was staring out my window over the not-too-distant city of Seattle, when I noticed a dark figure slinking along a brick wall, which ran past my building. I looked again, and as if reacting to my gaze, it broke into a run, scurrying along the wall. Fearing the worst, I opened my desk drawer and withdrew a black handgun. I'd never had to use before. In fact, I had never even shot it, but I had kept it around to make me feel comfortable and it looked like it might come in handy.
I pulled my white lab coat tight around my body and exited to the cold night air on my porch. The figure continued running away on the wall. The wall curved around out from behind a small grove of trees that had been obscuring my vision of the man. As he ran he came out from the protection of the trees and entered the bright light from the red full moon.
He was a shadowy figure that could hardly be distinguished against the night sky. He wore a straw cape that surrounded his body billowing in the wind as he ran. A large round wood Chinese hat covered his head hiding his face in the darkness, and still he ran. And as he did, I saw him produce a great sword from his cloak. It was gray as if it were stone. On the hilt the head and neck of a Chinese dragon were intricately carved. The hand on the hilt was as normal as could be expected from this strange character. It was smaller than mine and it looked as if it had never seen the sun as it was dark and consumed by shadows. Suddenly, he stopped, but he had advanced just beyond my view from the porch. My body was tired and cold, but my mind was hypnotized, absorbed by this mysterious person. I had to know more. Against my better judgement, I found my self running after him from my porch, but I did not call out. My movements were as silent as his quiet running along the wall had been.
I came up over the hill and stopped dead in my tracks. The Chinese man was standing, body erect, on the top of an old telephone pole. He seemed to be whispering some ancient incantation that was lost in the night sky while waving around a large piece of paper with strange Oriental writing on it. A ward! My mind snapped back to my studies. The Oriental cultures used wards to call forth evil spirits in their exorcisms and religious ceremonies.
The ward began to glow red and a puff of smoke rose up from the mountain in the distance. It was Mt. St. Helen's. Now my curiosity was at its peak. What was going on? Was he trying to draw a demon out of the volcano? But that was just the scientist in me asking questions, the sane, or perhaps it was insane as well, part of me said to just wait and watch.
The smoke increased, filling the air, but there was something strange about it. The haze surrounded me but it didn't smell the same. I even began to doubt it was smoke. I didn't have long to contemplate this, however, as another figure could be seen writhing around in the night.
Suddenly, it burst into sight. I gasped. It was…a…dragon in every sense of the word. It was everything the legends had made it out to be. It had a long neck protruding from a dinosaur-like body but less lanky. It was majestic and dangerous. Its entire body was covered in spikes and hard green scales that resembled chain mail. The long neck ended in a lizard-like head covered in tiny spiky protrusions. His talons looked sharp enough to take a human head from its body without a second thought. The most unbelievable part about it was its wings. This giant body broke all laws of physics as it was held in the air by gigantic paper thin, off-yellow wings.
The two enigmatic beings stared one another down, circling, the dragon hovering above the ground, the China-man moving soundlessly along the grass. Their eyes locked in what seemed to be a more heated battle than what was about to ensue. The man broke the lock and lunged at the dragon, sword drawn. I was tired, but entranced. I had read about so many epic battles with the supernatural, but I was about to witness one in front of me.
The dragon swiped at the small man with his huge claw and then dropped down to the ground, his wings folding back over his torso. He inhaled, and I held my breath anticipating what would happen. Then, flame engulfed the small field. Flame of a thousand colors. White, red, orange, yellow, all swirling in a single wrathful motion. The Asian turned his back to the dragon.
"He must be crazy," I whispered to myself, but as the flames and smoke cleared, I could see him, unhurt, standing tall in the field. His cape, though it looked to be made of straw, had deflected the attack. I was stunned…so was the dragon.
The man leapt into the air using the dragon's stunned state to his advantage. He twisted around in the air making his cape swish up and slice the dragon with its edge. A large bloody gash appeared where the dragon had been hit.
"What a cape," I thought. "It deflected fire and its razor sharp." The dragon was unamused, though. It snarled and the wound closed back up leaving not a scratch. The pair continued on like this for I don't know how long. I watched, silent, as they danced around one another, each desperate for victory. Suddenly, the dragon had had enough. It snorted sending smoke from its two large nostrils. The man jumped up to attack him but hit the monster's chin. He was deflected back onto the ground where he lay, immobile. The dragon's expression was of triumph, as much as a dragon could have an expression. He lifted his right paw and started to move it towards the shadow man.
A shot rang out as the bullet bounced off the bottom of the beast's paw. I held the gun in my hands still shocked that I had pulled the trigger. The dragon's head snapped over to stare at me, but he was cut short. The shot had given the man the needed opportunity. He drew his sword and plunged it deep into the sensitive, bare skin on the dragon's under-paw. Its tormented screeches could be heard for miles around. It lay down over the hill trying to force the wound to close as it had before.
Then the Oriental man did something very strange. He arched his fingers back and moved his palms around in a circle in front of him. His hands left an outline in the air which quickly materialized into a semi-transparent plane with the yin-yang formed over it in black and white. The dragon moaned and seemed to flicker in the air. Then it slowly moved towards the yin-yang like it was being drawn in by it. Then, without warning, it seemed to consolidate itself into pure energy that was sucked right through the floating symbol. The yin-yang flickered in the air a couple times, like it was getting bad reception from an antenna, and disappeared as well.
I would've been surprised, but I wasn't. After all that had happened, I wouldn't have been shocked if a giant robotic man munching on an unripe, green banana fell from the sky and started preaching about Jesus. I looked up to make sure and sighed with relief when nothing happened.
The Asian man stood up and slipped his sword back into his cloak, then took his hat and flung it into the air. He jumped straight up and for a moment our eyes caught each other. His eyes were perfectly white against a dark shadowy face. His gaze was constant and it bore into my soul…searching for something. His hat blew around him in a circular motion and stopped directly above his head. Our connection was finally broken as his head and then entire body disappeared into the hat the way the dragon had disappeared into the symbol. The hat was picked up by the wind and blown away.
It was over, but somehow I knew deep inside me that it was only beginning.