I had no idea what to write for this week’s story, at least until I saw an image on Jason H Abbott’s blog. It’s a gorgeous skeletal dragon under water. Yup, I’m writing about dragons again!
This week’s top tip is:
Practice makes perfect. Write lots, read widely, and your writing will improve!
Onto the story!
A large house loomed straight ahead, and two people exited a muddy sleek black car. A sharp businessman, Mike Crown, and a short brunette with glasses. The brunette pulled her hair back into a tie and looked up at a large wooden cabin, stood on stilts by a glistening lake.
‘It’s more run down than I expected.’
Mike tossed a fantasy novel onto the back seat beside his briefcase and grimaced. ‘My grandfather abandoned this place years ago. Lucky me.’
‘You said it had potential though, right?’
‘It’ll be the shining diamond of Crown resorts.’
The woman glanced around at the tall trees which hid the rustic wooden house and sparkling lake from view of any road. ‘Seems a shame. To ruin it that way.’
‘Ruin it? Natalia, it’ll be enjoyed by thousands of people a year. Come on, let’s get it over with.’
Natalia sighed as her boss approached the house. He stopped short of the door and took a left onto the balcony overlooking the lake. She joined him and leaned against the wooden railing, wind ruffling her hair. ‘I’d keep it for myself.’
‘You would too. Sentimental fool.’
Natalia grinned. ‘It’s why you keep me around. Fresh perspective.’
Mike’s answering smile was sheepish. ‘You know that’s right. You’ve saved me thousands. Heck, if it weren’t for you I’d have lost me flagship resort to those con artists.’
‘Takes one to know one,’ Natalia replied with a shrug. ‘I’m just grateful you gave me the opportunity to work with you. No one else would.’
‘And I’m grateful to you. Can’t lose my millions.’
Natalia gestured to the house. ‘Grateful enough to give me this?’
Mike laughed and gestured to a dock on the other side of the lake. ‘Dream on, girl. Dream on. Come on. Help me check that out.’
‘First? What about the property?’
‘I already know that’s falling down. Make a note to schedule the bulldozer.’
Natalia frowned, but she jotted down a note in the organiser on her phone. When she looked up, Mike was pointing at a rickety boathouse covered in vines the other side of the house.
‘Maybe we can find a boat in there. Don’t fancy the walk.’
They followed the path around the back of the property and stopped in front of the boathouse door. Mike grasped the handle with soft hands and yanked hard. The door barely moved an inch before it got stuck, and he toppled over backwards.
Natalia stifled a laugh behind her hand. ‘Do you need a hand, boss?’
‘If I can’t open it, you certainly won’t. You’re a secretary, not a bodybuilder.’
‘Budge out the way,’ Natalia said with a roll of her eyes. She grabbed the door handle, worn hands grasping tightly, and pulled. With one hefty tug the door shuddered open. She gestured inside. ‘After you.’
Mike raised an eyebrow as he stepped into the boathouse. ‘You work out?’
Natalia shrugged. ‘Not much else to do in prison.’
‘Right.’ Mike looked away. ‘Bet you’re glad to be out of there.’
‘Wasn’t till you came along. People ain’t lining up to offer jobs to people like me. Let alone one this cushy.’
Mike ran a hand through his hair and huffed a nervous laugh. ‘Surprised you weren’t tempted to go back to it. Conning people.’
‘The good ones don’t get caught. I did. I’m not suited to prison.’
‘Right. An’ I’m glad of it. Plenty of benefits in having someone with your skills on board.’ Mike folded his arms and eyed a nearby boat. ‘Come on, Supergirl, shove this out onto the water.’
Natalia eyed the boat with a raised eyebrow. ‘Are you sure it’s seaworthy? It doesn’t look safe.’
‘No water in the bottom,’ Mike said with a shrug. ‘That’s good enough for me.’
‘I suppose you want me to row too?’
Natalia smirked. ‘Fine. I don’t want to end up going round in circles anyway.’
She shoved open the boathouse doors and the boat onto the water. By the time they were seated, the wind had dropped and the waters were calm. Natalia grabbed a pair of oars from beneath the worn wooden bench of the boat and used one to shove away from shore.
‘Yo ho!’ Mike said with a grin.
Natalia rolled her eyes and dipped the oars into the lake. They parted the crystal clear water and splashed little drops up and over the edge as the boat moved forward. Mike shifted in his seat, and water sloshed into the boat as it rocked. He grinned and rocked the boat again.
‘You tryin’ to sink us?’ Natalia asked with a glare.
‘It’s just a bit of fun, Nat.’
Right. Just a bit of fun. For a rich party boy like Mike, a bit of fun was a lavish party full of music which shook the floor, beautiful women dressed as sexy mages, and free flowing cocktails with odd names like ‘Cobra’s Fang.’ Wild parties where Natalia stuck to the shadows and listened as they boasted of their wealth, power, and how untouchable they were. One by one, she’d show them how untouchable they really were.
Mike settled back into his seat, still now, and they drew closer to the middle of the lake. Suddenly his eyes widened, and he gasped.
‘Woah! Stop the boat! What in the world is that?’
He leaned over the edge and peered down through the crystal clear depths. Natalia smirked and rowed backwards a few times to slow the boat to a stop. She maintained a firm hold on the oars as she followed Mike’s gaze. Her own expression held no such surprise when she saw it.
‘Is that a dragon skeleton?’
‘Maybe.’ Mike’s eyes were wide, and a grin split his face. ‘It’s just like the descriptions in my books. All the fantasy writers were so, so right! Do you know what this means?’
Natalia turned to look into his bright, excited eyes. ‘You’ll sell the place and be done with it?’
‘What? No! Of course not.’ Mike glared at her, but it was softened by his greedy glee. ‘We’ve found proof dragons existed! I’ll make millions.’
He stripped off his coat and stepped out of his shoes.
Natalia’s arm shot to the side in protest. ‘What are you doing? It could be dangerous!’
Mike scoffed. ‘It’s just a dragon skeleton. It can’t hurt us.’
‘Said every character in every horror movie ever,’ Natalia muttered.
Mike ignored her and leapt into the lake with an ungraceful splash. Natalia cursed as water sloshed up over the edge of the boat, and she raised a hand to shield her face. When she lowered it, Mike was cutting through the water with slow strokes. She glanced between the dragon and her boss and bit her bottom lip, but relaxed when, as he neared mid depth, bubbles erupted from his mouth. His limbs twisted frantically as he made for the surface.
Natalia rolled her eyes and pulled out her phone. She glanced at the lush mountains and clear waters and sighed. It would be a shame to disturb the peace, but it was necessary. She accessed an app, pressed a button, then pocketed her phone to offer Mike a hand.
He spluttered as his hand clasped hers, and he pulled himself up onto the boat. Hair plastered to his forehead and clothes dripping wet, he shuddered and pulled on his coat and shoes.
‘Can’t reach the bottom. We’ll have to authenticate it later, but it looks promising. We can open a resort: Swim with dragon bones! We’ll have to protect it first and-‘
He took a step forwards, but lost his footing and toppled to the bottom of the boat as the ground shuddered. The water began to bubble. Natalia turned away from Mike and smirked. Waves crashed out from the centre of the lake as a giant wing pierced the surface.
‘What the hell’s happening?’ Mike asked.
Natalia gestured to the skeletal dragon. ‘It’s alive. Told you it was dangerous!’
Mike shook his head and pointed towards the shore. ‘Get us out of here!’
Natalia swung the boat around and urged it back towards the boathouse. As they neared the shore, a large wave swept them up. Mike lost his footing and tumbled from the boat to land in a heap on the grassy bank of the lake.
The boat washed up beside him, and Natalia leapt onto the damp grass and cursed as water sloshed around her ankles. As she turned back to the lake a large skeletal head emerged, and she glanced at Mike to see his reaction. It was priceless.
His eyes were comically wide, and his jaw dropped open. Shimmering bony wings beat impossible gusts against the crystal clear water as the dragon emerged fully from the lake.
Natalia backed away towards the house. ‘What should we do?’
‘I pay you to think!’ Mike snapped, with a gesture at the un-dead beast.
Natalia shrugged, and, at the press of a button on the app on her phone, the dragon let out a roar. ‘We can’t stop a dragon. I suggest we leave and pretend it never happened.’
Mike frowned. ‘But what about my plans?’
‘Sod your plans!’ Natalia yelled. ‘You got this place for free. You’ve lost nothing if we abandon it.’
Mike grimaced. With a final glance over his shoulder at the dragon above the lake, he sighed and headed for the car. ‘Fine. Let’s go.’
Natalia leapt into the drivers seat and gunned the engine. They sped away from the lake and towards the nearest town, three miles away.
When they arrived Natalia got out of the car and escorted her shivering boss to his hotel room. He stripped and grabbed a towel to dry himself off.
Natalia turned away with a grimace. ‘You get back to the office, I’ll stay here and deal with this.’
‘By deal with this you mean…?’
‘Get rid of the property by any means necessary without links to you or the company. Just in case the dragon hurts somebody.’
‘Right.’ Mike sighed and ran a hand through his hair. ‘Did you bring the deeds to the property?’
Natalia rummaged in a briefcase on the bed. ‘Right here.’
‘Good.’ Mike tied the towel around his waist and reached for a pen. ‘I’ll sign the property over to you. Call it a bonus.’
‘Mmm. Gets my name off it. I’ll stay in town a few days and hit the clubs, then return home. Deny all knowledge of the dragon if anyone asks. If it hurts anyone the scandal would ruin my company.’ He signed the deeds with a flourish. ‘Make it someone else’s problem.’
‘Thanks luv. Dunno what I’d do without you, and it’s only been three weeks.’
Natalia nodded and stepped towards the door. ‘See you back at the office.’
She pulled the door shut, headed for the elevators, and pressed the call button. Her foot tapped as she waited, and as soon as the doors opened she slid inside and pressed the button for the lobby. Alone in the elevator, a smirk crept across her face. She pulled her phone from her pocket and hit speed dial number one.
‘Set up the meeting,’ she said, as soon as it was answered.
‘Understood,’ was all the reply she needed to hear.
Natalia hung up and stepped out of the elevator to hail a cab, giving the driver the address of the lake. Outside the cab window leaves fluttered in the wind, but she paid them no mind as they sped through the countryside. Her sharp eyes were focused within.
When she arrived, she clambered out and told the driver to wait. A familiar elderly man stood appraising the house by the lake. Natalia smiled, strode forward, and shook his hand.
‘Your methods are interesting,’ he said with a glance at the dragon. ‘But did it work?’
Natalia nodded and patted her briefcase. ‘Let’s get down to business, shall we?’
‘Of course.’ He sat on the steps leading up to the house and gestured to his car. A man stepped out, dressed all in black and carrying a briefcase. ‘Show her the money.’
The man nodded and opened the case. Natalia stepped forward and checked the notes. ‘Good. I’ve got the deeds here. I’ll sign the house over to you, and that’s all you need.’
She scribbled her signature on the paperwork and exchanged papers for a briefcase of cash.
Her buyer glanced at the dragon. ‘What about that?’
Natalia pulled her phone from her pocket and handed it over. ‘Keep it. It’s mechanical, controlled by an app on there. You won’t have to feed it, and it’ll keep people away just like you wanted.’
‘I like it.’ He grinned and held out a hand. ‘Pleasure doing business with you again, my dear.’
‘Likewise,’ Natalia replied. She waved as she strode away, briefcase in hand.
He called after her. ‘Try and stay out of prison this time!’
‘Oh I will,’ Natalia called back. ‘This time no one will catch me!’
As she walked away her thoughts drifted to Mike. She may have saved him thousands when she put off those other con artists, but she’d cost him millions today and earned herself a fortune too. She donned her sunglasses and stepped into the waiting taxi. She was back.
Thanks for reading!
I have no idea where the ex-con angle came from, or the robotic dragon. My ideas are getting stranger and stranger!
Why not write a short story based on a prompt yourself? The prompts for March are:
One word not enough? I post expanded prompts weekly on Pinterest:
If you use one of the prompts, feel free to share your story links below.
Feeling creative? I also run a weekly hashtag game on Twitter, #sunscribbles, where you can share one off lines or quotes from a #WIP around the weekly prompt!
See you next week!