2017-10-04 12:25:24 UTC
The recent discussion with Sid about his writing made me think about my
own writing which I did regularly around 2001. Umrats have been very
kind about my "William the OAP" pastiche in the past, so here I offer
another piece I wrote back then.
In the spritit of Krait (ObTA), I'd be very interested to know what
people think, whether the idea has merit at all and what in particular
needs improving. I have some ideas of my own reading it again after 16
years, but I'd like to know what umra thinks.
Geoff stroked his dragon. It lay asleep as always, draped over and into
the hillside, dreaming silently, drooling into the swollen stream. He
groomed it slowly and lovingly, working up the slope as usual from the
head to the tail. A shy smile spread across his face as he completed his
“There old girl, that’s put you straight for another day or two.”
Straightening up slowly, he wiped his face as he looked around. He heard
the rumble of thunder in the distance. The moors were still overhung
with thick cloud, the reduced light leaching the colour from everything
below. The subtle purples and greens were now just shades of grey, cut
through with slashes of black. Streams exposed the underlying peat even
in dry summers. This year with the seemingly endless rain, the erosion
had cut scars deeper than ever and it seemed that the whole world might
be washed away.
He let his gaze flow down the water courses that fed his dale,
lingering briefly to look at the house on the opposite side of the
valley. He caught a flicker of movement at the window and wondered how
his new neighbour was settling in.
“A new planting should always be watered in well” he said to himself. He
chuckled and then forgot about the stranger as he looked down at his
Most westerners think that Japanese gardens are always modelled on
rivers or the sea, but Geoff felt that there was enough water in his
life. So instead he had taken as his theme another great natural force
of the Orient. Or rather the dragon had taken him.
He had seen it lying there when he’d first looked at the house all those
years earlier. He knew immediately that he had to buy the property even
though it took everything he had then and would have for some time to come.
The dragon was well hidden as they always are. He had to get to know it
slowly, approaching it from various directions at different times of day
in the changing seasons, familiarising himself with its contours in a
variety of lights.
“Are you well my lovely ?” he would ask repeatedly over the months,
gently assuring it of his best intentions.
“You guard your hoard well, but it’s safe from me” he swore. Stealing it
was the last thing he was thinking of, having given up his own pile of
gold in the city he’d left, buried with all his early life.
As his courtship continued he gradually learned something of the wyrm’s
character and its feminine wiles. It would not reveal its name to him
yet, but he knew when it was time for him to coax some more of the shape
of the creature from the hillside. It was not a job to be rushed though
and that suited him. He had all the time in the world.
The tail needed little work, the barely exposed edge of gritstone was
already eroded and broken into serrations. Lower down, the fat, relaxed
body was covered in a layer of peat. He had enjoyed the rich smell of it
as he scraped it away and replaced it with dark gravel edged with larger
stones that he’d carried from a ruined dry-stone wall further up the moor.
The stone chippings had to be tended regularly and at first this had
taken hours each time. Geoff found that raking in two different
directions to form the diamond-shaped scales on the skin did not work.
The second pass of the rake partially blocked the troughs formed on the
first. Eventually he had devised a tool that would do the whole thing in
one go. First he levelled the stones and remove any debris, and then the
scaler would be brought into play. Its roller smoothed the gravel,
supported the head of the rake and drove an intricate system of gears
and cams that moved the individual tines from side to side to form the
pattern of scales. As it worked it always reminded him of a seismograph
lazily recording the tiny earth tremors that it was triggering below.
The one visible rear leg of the beast was hooked round a natural rock
outcrop to stop a gradual slide down the hill. The front legs were
hidden by more peat and had to be carefully freed to reveal how they
were supporting the head in the form of another natural boulder. That in
itself was gradually exposed to reveal a hint of the dragon’s features.
This had all been completed two years before at winter’s end and he had
been thanked for his efforts by a gift from the dragon. A small spring
appeared at the base of the head rock so that it appeared that the
dragon was giving its life fluid to the ground on which it lay. When he
saw this Geoff smiled for the first time in years and since then all his
happy hours had been spent in the garden.
He had made his own offering to the dragon in his turn. He had a small
silver cup made, rounded at the bottom and encircled with a thin ring of
gold. He concealed this in the pool fed by the spring and drank from it
during the hot days of summer. It refreshed him and over the months he
felt the power of dragon flowing into him and healing the pain of his