Friday, September 08, 2006

Under the Pondweed: Sam 1, part 4

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Sassy heard screaming and clattering and looked out through a crack under the seat. A giant gull with a wingspan six or seven times that of Sassy's arm span was diving at one of the soldiers. He, in turn, lashed at the gull with a double-bladed sword. Several other soldiers had ridden up beside the beleaguered one and were attempting to ward off the huge bird.
"That's no dragon," Sassy whispered to Lonnie, "that's a gull."
"Just another type of dragon," Lonnie responded, "They eat you alive, tear you limb from limb."
Sassy studied the gull. There was something familiar about it. It had a bright blue leg ring with etched red letters: SAM 111, just like her Sam. Sam was the gull she had rescued and cared for and released. But Sam was a normal-sized gull, not a gigantic monster gull. Still, what if it was her Sam?
"Sam," she shouted. The bird looked up. One of the soldiers slashed at its foot and the bird screeched and flew up. Blood poured from the wound.
"Sam," screamed Sassy, and pushing Lonnie aside, she scrambled from under the bench. "Sam," she screamed again. The bird dove toward her and snatched her in his beak. Lonnie grabbed Sassy's legs, but he wasn't strong enough and the gull swept skyward with Sassy in his beak and Lonnie dangling from Sassy's legs. His hands were locked around her ankles.
"Sam," Sassy screamed, "It's me, Sassy! Remember me?"
"What happened to you?" Sassy heard Sam say. Or thought she did. "You're so small."
"No, you're big."
"Put us down somewhere, Sam, carefully. Let me look at your leg."
"It's nothing, Sass, just a scratch." Sam swooped down and set Lonnie and Sassy on a rock in the middle of a lake. Sassy bent to look at Sam's leg. It was still bleeding in the center of the cut, where it was deepest, but the ends had already started to scab up. It was more than a scratch, but it looked as if it would probably heal quickly.
"Get on my back," Sam said, "just behind my wings." Sassy climbed on. Lonnie hesitated and then climbed on behind her.
Sam stretched his long white wings and flew, up, out over the lake. Sassy could see a castle. It was a fairy-tale kind of castle, made of stone, with turrets and ramparts and a moat with a drawbridge. And there, down the road from the castle, was the carriage with its entourage of soldiers milling around.
Sam headed not for the castle or the carriage, but for the mountains beyond the castle where a tall cataract plunged in a narrow plume over a sheer cliff.
"Where are you going, Sam, where are you taking us?"
* * *
(Story: Under the pondweed installment)

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