The weight came crashing down on him and in the end it was only the cross guard of his longsword that held the huge body up enough to prevent it from crushing him completely. The pommel ground with a screech into the flagstone beneath him. Ascalon had saved him but not for long. George lay in the space between the stones and the huge weight of the beast laying over him. He breathed quickly, the acrid smell and fuge of the dragons breath and blood would suffocate him unless he could get from under the dragon and the only way to do that was to shift the dead beast. At the moment, the only thing keeping him alive right now was his sword. George calmed himself and took stock, his legs were trapped though he could feel them which was good so the problem was the huge mass of the dragon suspended on the quillons of Ascalon, inches from crushing his chest and the air from his lungs. The dragon was so big he was effectively smothered, the air in this pocket was running out and it was so hot he could barely breath. It was not supposed to end like this, he was a hero of the order, whatever else, it could not possibly end like this. George felt a moment of fear as the reality of his situation became clear and he felt the presence of death beside him once again. He had ignored Death all his life, just a figment of his imagination, his deepest secret. Death had been with him since it all began in Lod all those years ago, never far and since then, so long ignored. Now he felt Death close by once more. Death had came to lay alongside him with a smile, black cloaked arms folded. They lay together like two brothers in a strange bed.
George tried to ignore him and focussed on trying to bring his knee up enough to lever it under the dead dragons underbelly. He shifted as much as he could but his legs were trapped by the enormous weight.
It’s a big one. Looks like you bit off more than you could chew this time George.
George did not look to his right, death was always on his right. Instead, he looked straight in front of him at the huge bronze scales inches from his face. Anger overtook his fear, he growled and tried to lever his knee up again, every muscle in his body straining to make the move, his hand gripped the huge hilt of Ascalon holding it upright as he tried to use his raw strength against the dead weight. His growl became a roar and he felt his leg shift an inch and the sweet taste of hope. Yes! Again he screamed with renewed vigour and his leg shifted again but suddenly, the sword also shifted and tilted by half an inch as the pommel scraped sideways across the stone beneath him. The weight above him sagged and pressed down upon his chest.
Don’t move, don’t move. don’t move, don’t move. He gripped the sword more tightly, all his strength now being used to keep the blade upright and the body of the dragon off his chest. The air became thicker. Beside him, Death shifted slightly too.
This is it George, the end of the life you knew. Time to take a look back.
George closed his eyes, he did not want to look back on his life, it was not time to die and yet! Once again he paused and then the realisation came to him again, he was running out of strength and air, each sapping the other, this really could be the end. He had not spoken to Death since Lod, had not so much as looked at him or acknowledged his existence, at least never when it came to his own life. To do so now, would be to give in. He knew one day he would go but he believed that it would be quick, too quick for Death himself to even notice the event, that he would slip past by him to the next world. He had always believed this would be true and victory would be his in the moment of death too, perhaps he would not even truly die in the normal sense. The order faught against the unknown, the mysteries and the magic of the world and George, one of the orders greatest, had dedicated his life to the eradication of the magical. George, knew that death was the greatest mystery of all and had fought all his life against it in all it’s forms and if that failed, he simply ignored it. For his part, Death had greatly enjoyed George’s endeavours.
Death laughed beside him with genuine humour.
I always liked you George. You have truly entertained me and even now, despite the reality of your situation, you still cling to the ludicrous notion that you can escape me somehow. Brave, stupidly brave most of the time and stubborn like so very very few. Come now George, what have you got to lose?
George breathed with small painful breaths and closed his eyes. “Never!” He whispered.
There was a moment of silence. Death had been acknowledged and nothing more needed to be said. Death waited patiently. George felt like a child again, a child who had finally acquiesced to his parents demands and given up fighting. He felt small. He did not look at Death beside him when he finally whispered. “Is this the end?”
Death answered slowly and though George missed it in his moment of acceptance, he answered with compassion. Come George, lets take a look together just like the first time.
George closed his eyes tightly and a tear rolled down his grimy cheek before it evaporated in the heat. Then he was back in Lod, a child of 12 again.
Copyright Faramond Frie © 2016