An extract from The Temptation of Dragons by Chrys Cymri.
‘Vicar arrested for drunk driving’ is not the sort of headline my bishop wants to read about his priests. So I slowed down my Ford as I saw the flashing lights of the police car ahead. An accident. I hunched low over the steering wheel, hoping to hide the tell tale sign of the dog collar around my neck. My wine-sweetened breath wafted back into my face, reminding me of the reason I must not stop to offer any assistance. I was pretty certain that I was not over the drink drive limit, but possibly very close.
I risked a guilty glance as I passed the accident site. The black Mercedes had come to rest on the hard shoulder, right up against the traffic barrier. The front was caved in, although I couldn’t see what had caused the damage. No other car was nearby, and as far as I could see none of the trees had wandered across the dual carriageway. Two people stood near the police. Neither looked injured. I let out a sigh of relief.
I pulled back into the slow lane. A moment’s inattention made me drift onto the hard shoulder. The car’s front wheels and rear wheels bumped over an obstruction which shuddered and crunched. My throat closed and my heart pounded fast and quick in my chest. I slammed to stop, pulled up the hand brake and ripped my keys from the ignition. The car lurched against the clutch. I stumbled out and hurried back, terrified that I’d run over some animal or, please God Almighty no, a human.
My foot tripped against something solid. I staggered, and my hand slapped against scaly hide. Hide? The shape solidified under and around me. A tail. I was touching the base of a tail. I looked back at the webbed red tip, the scales, the thin spines. Then I lifted my eyes to see a thick body, two legs splayed back towards me, long leathery wings flung away from the road and over the traffic barrier. I forced myself to walk towards the front legs. My mind kept trying to reject the word forcing itself into my consciousness. Dragon. I was looking at a dragon.
For some reason a sense of disappointment crawled over me. The dragon was smaller than any I’d ever held in my imagination, about twice the size of a large horse. From the amount of blood that was pooling around the heaving chest, it was dying. The blood was only a shade darker than the bright red scales.
I stopped beside the narrow head. One large eye opened and looked up at me. Even in the dying light of a summer’s evening I could see that it was reptilian, the narrow pupil black against a wide iris of shimmering green. For a moment I saw myself mirrored on the clear surface, dark hair askew around my frowning face. The jaws cracked open, and a blue tongue slithered from the rows of small sharp teeth. ‘Father?’
I swallowed against my automatic correction. This was not the time to discuss the best way to address a female priest. ‘Can I help you?’
‘I could call an ambulance…’ I stopped. Had someone slipped something into my wine? Was I really thinking of arranging medical care for a dragon?
‘No time.’ His voice was fading. ‘Father, will you hear my confession? And give me the last rites?’
Chrys in her own words: Priest by day, writer at odd times of the day and night, I live with a small green parrot called Tilly because the upkeep for a dragon is beyond my current budget. Plus I’m responsible for making good any flame damage to church property. I love ‘Doctor Who’, landscape photography, single malt whisky, and my job, in no particular order. When I’m not looking after a small parish church in the Midlands (England) I like to go on far flung adventures to places like Peru, New Zealand, the Arctic, and North Korea.
You can find Chrys Cymri on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and her own website.