User:Leasara/Free Solo Dragon

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This was done early in my Story-a-Day exercise that I did for a week late December 2006 or early January 2007. Just a quick transformation Vignette detailing a dragon change while falling, one of the scenes I've had in my head on and off again over the past ten to fifteen years.

Free Solo Dragon

Author: Shannon Robertson

No one knows the true length of a second like a person realizing they're about to die. Erin was gaining a sudden education in this fact. She gazed through her splayed, chalk-lined fingers at the small town at the base of the mountain and wondered how long it would be before she was found. The surge of adrenaline and fear she had felt when her foot hold had broken lose had settled to somewhere just above her stomach, where it seemed to be igniting her diaphragm. This wasn't the first time she had felt the sensation, but it was the most intense. Her brother would say she had fallen victim to her instincts again.

As far back as she could remember, she had been drawn to heights. Because of this inexplicable draw, she had washed windows on sky scrapers when she was younger, and had become a sky diving instructor at the age of twenty-three. She had followed the friends she had made along the way through roller derby, and street luge, snowboarding, and bungie jumping, but nothing gave her the thrill of seeing the arc of the horizon like flying and skydiving. Now she remembered the first time she felt this fire as it infused her chest, it was her first solo dive. In the moments between her primary chute's malfunction and the opening of her reserve chute some five seconds later. That experience was now fresh in her mind as was the feeling of wasted potential she was just remember having felt. Her iPod changed songs to The Delgados, The Light Before We Land, and she started laughing.

She took a moment to estimate and was surprised to see she had only fallen ten feet or so. It had obviously been a poor decision to chose such a technical, 90 foot face for her first free solo climb, and turning on the MP3 player for the last 10 or 15 feet of ascension had turned out to be a terminal mistake. She was also surprised at how rational she seemed to be, given the circumstances and wondered what other memories would bubble up unbidden in her final moments. As her focus moved from the town to her splayed fingers, the thought crossed her mind that something new might also occupy that time.

Some trick of the light played along the line where the white of the chalk gave way to the deep tan of her skin to make it look like her fingers had doubled. As she pondered the optical illusion, the fire in her diaphragm leapt to her sternum and ignited her breasts. In that instant, time seemed to be stretching for her benefit, and she lost the feeling of falling as she became absorbed in this second hand sprouting from her wrist. It seemed to be pulling her skin behind it as her arm began to separate. The skin stretched between the new hand and her old one finally pulled free, leaving a thin membrane connecting the four new digits, leaving her new thumb out on it's own and looking for all the world like a small deformed bat's wing. turning to check her right hand, she saw it had undergone the same mitosis, and her pseudo-wing was starting to look more like a bat's wing as the digits elongated and rotated into a more recognizable fashion. The flesh on these wings had a metallic bronze sheen, with a dusting of iridescent sea-green on the webbing.

Where her rapidly forming wings had pulled out of her arms, a stripe of the same bronze colored skin was spreading, and had already consumed her hands. As it spread, she recognized the same flame she was feeling in her chest, she looked down just to confirm what she already knew. In place of her breasts, she now had a sack of the bronze flesh, similar to a dove's crop, sitting on top of her sports bra. Where she had expected to see more bronze flesh, below her crop and spreading down her belly and the inside of her arms to her palms her skin had taken on a silvery-white glow. As her ribs began to expand, the fire crept it's way up her throat and sat in her sinuses. At the same time, the separation had reached her shoulders, where were now pulling themselves apart.

This was the first touch of pain in the process. The separation of her wings from her arms and the changes to her breast had been accompanied by a warm surge of power, but this was the initial caress of a white-hot brand. Screaming, she felt herself wretch from her new crop. The flame that she belched consumed her, and she lost herself in the agony.

Epilogue: In the park, a man was testing his new telephoto lens, focusing on a Cardinal, he composed his shot with a dark cliff face in the background to accent the bird's vibrant plumage. He snapped a couple quick exposures before he noticed the climber that seemed to be resting a moment in preparation for their final push to the top. Deciding to capture the climber's triumphant moment, he took a moment to refocus on them. While he was still getting the shot sorted out, the woman on the cliff started moving again. He got what could have been a great shot of her reaching for a hand hold, cursing his short-sightedness all the while for not having brought any bigger lenses. Once she was happy with her hand position, she brought her right leg up, but her left foot slipped before her right could find purchase. Sensing the tenuous situation of the climber, he quickly switched to continuous shot and held down the shutter release as if it were the only lifeline he could throw her.

He captured the moment she lost her grip, a moment of the bicycle kick that pushed her away from the cliff's face, a moment of her rolling over to spread her self out like a sky diver, a moment where she clutched her chest, the moment a fireball erupted in front of her, the moment the fire had completely engulfed her, the moment the fire started to die, the moment the dragon burst from the fire ball, and three frames of the dragon flying before it was too far out of focus. Eleven exposures, spanning almost four seconds of an event that he still can't get anyone to believe.