Saturday, February 26, 2011

Damson Dragon Moved

I created a new blog just for Damson Dragon Diary - http://damsondragon.blogspot.com/

If you're looking for my favorite scaly amethyst superheroine, that's the place to go.

Paige

Friday, February 25, 2011

Paige Post - Got hit by a .. well, just a fender bump actually

Busy week at work. Still feel like I'm running a hundred miles an hour and falling further and further behind. The stress level is very wearing.

We went out to Golden Corral for dinner tonight, and got bumped in the parking lot by someone in a big pickup who couldn't see my little blue car behind them. Minor fender damage, no big, but annoying.

So glad it's the weekend, but not sure that means I can slow down any. Epic is pushing toward opening day. Final dress is day after tomorow, and we'll have audience there. Freaky stuff.

Puppy wakes us up every night, can't remember the last time I got a night's uninterrupted sleep. Really, amazingly, bone deep tired.

Paige

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dinner with Dracula

I had dinner with Dracula today. Or, breakfast, I guess, since it was after my shift was over in the morning, but my brain tends to think of that as dinner since I eat it after work and before going to bed. Working graveyard shift can really mess with your biological clock.
In any case, Jack and I had just finished cleaning up the bodies at a motorcycle-meets-18-wheeler accident on I35. The couple on the bike were way past saving when we got there. I was feeling tired, and a little depressed. Jack hugged me in the parking lot just before he got in his car and that helped a little.
Right after Jack drove off, this guy came up behind me all quiet and wearing black, and invaded my personal space. I spun and hit him in the chest, an open palm strike since I didn’t intend to kill a random mugger. It was enough to take him off his feet and land him on his back on the hood of a parked car, but he didn’t seem hurt at all. He laughed.
Now, I did pull the punch, but generally, when I hit someone, they don’t laugh.
He apologized for “startling me” and offered to buy me dinner at the Omelettry. I asked him who he was and he did this old fashioned bow. “I am Vlad Dracul” and he had the accent, too, that eastern European accent that folks always use when they pretend to be vampires.
I told him he was a little late for Halloween.
He grinned and showed me fangs. Not movie quality fakes. Fangs like mine, long and needle sharp that fold back beside the top teeth when not in use. He was a dragon.
More precisely, he was the guy in Houston that Fafnir told me about. He said the guy’s name was Vlad and he was young, “only” 700 years old or so. Fafnir has some funny ideas about what qualifies as young. But aside from that, we hadn’t really talked about the other dragon in Houston much. I was too busy asking him questions like “Will my scales cover my whole body eventually, even my face?” (Fafnir said yes, probably, but that I should be able to master the “turn into a normal human” trick before then. I sure hope he’s right.)
So, Dracula bought me dinner. He seems like a nice enough guy, not really what I would have expected from someone most famous for impaling hundreds of people to death in his younger days. He said he and Bram Stoker got drunk together one night, and he blabbed some stuff he shouldn’t have, and that’s how the whole Dracula legend thing got going. (There are good reasons why I don’t drink, aside from the fact that alcohol smells vile.)
Vlad’s not bad looking in a sort of Euro polished, well-dressed, slightly gay kind of way. Not that I think he is gay, he just sort of has that vibe, but he flirted with me unrelentingly all through the meal, so pretty sure he’s not gay. He looks about 25 and has really pretty dark eyes with thick lashes. Reminds me a little of Johnny Depp.
I didn’t let him kiss me afterward. Jack’s my guy, and I’m no two-timer. He kissed my hand instead. He said he’d call me. I think I just had my second date, at least he seemed to think it was a date. Not sure how I feel about this guy, but he is a dragon, and the way Fafnir figures things, we’re sort of the same age.
He’s got me all confused about things I thought I was finally getting straight.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chaos Inside and Out

Sometimes I think that writing things down in my diary is the only thing keeping me sane. I’m going to have to send a thank you letter to that shrink with the broken leg who recommended I talk things out with a blank page if I couldn’t talk to people about what was stressing me out.
It’s not Jack stressing me. He’s been great. Things are a little less casual and easy between us at work, but it’s because there’s always this little flutter just under the surface. It’s kind of awkward and nervy, but in a good way. Him knowing my secret has made my job a lot easier, too. I don’t have to remember to try to pretend I can’t lift heavy stuff. If we need a big piece of equipment, Jack just assumes I’ll grab it, and he grabs the other stuff. If we get a patient who might not make it with conventional help, Jack keeps watch for me so I can bite them without being seen. He even distracted a conscious patient with a crushed leg for me last shift, and convinced the guy I was giving him an injection. Thanks to Jack, that guy will walk again, on both legs. I may have taken a while to get around to picking a guy to date, but I seem to be pretty good at picking them.
I guess work might be part of what’s making me want to put my fist through a wall. Lord Vile’s goons went on a rampage and half the city looks like a war zone. I saw the White Knight in the thick of the fight a few times while Jack and I were on the sidelines trying to keep the civilian casualties to a minimum. I know the Knight’s a Georgian and he’d kill me if he knew what I was, but seeing him fight Vile’s red-shirted, black goggled minions and protect bystanders, I don’t know. I just kept thinking that if I had let Fafnir kill him, those bystanders would be dead, and the Protectors would be short one front line soldier. I may not like the guy, but this city needs him.
Jack and I have been working double shifts all week because of the chaos, so no chance for a second date yet. The flowers he brought me are still bright and beautiful on my dresser. And they remind me that for once in my life, I’m not alone. There’s one person I can really talk to.  More than one, even.
I called Fafnir the other morning when I was too wired to sleep after my shift. He has a heavy Norwegian accent that makes it a little hard to understand him, but he’s been really helpful. Fafnir treats me like an indulgent uncle with a five-year-old who is constantly asking questions like “Why is the sky blue?” He answers, but laughs at me a lot for asking things he thinks of as kindergarten basic. I’m just starting to get an inkling of how incredibly old he is, so I guess it’s normal for him to think of me as a kid. Annoying, but normal.
So, if working every day with my new boyfriend, a supervillain mob attack on the city, and being treated like a baby by the only other member of my species that I know isn’t stressing me, you might wonder what is? Ma. She’s making me nuts. She’s a nervous wreck and it’s contagious.
She asked about my date when I got home the other night, and I made the mistake of telling her what happened. All of it. It was pretty hard to tell her about Fafnir falling through the ceiling without explaining what knocked him out of the sky. Now that she knows the White Knight is a Georgian, she has all her things packed and keeps harping on me to pull up stakes and leave town. She’s already contacted our usual guy to get us new ID’s and such.
I think it’s the first time in our relationship that I’ve put my foot down and just said, “No.”
I’m not moving.
Ma is way too old to deal with all the hassles of losing our trail, finding a new place to settle and establishing new identities. She won’t admit it, but her health isn’t the best and another move might finish her. But even if that wasn’t true, I don’t want to run again.
I like it here. I’ve got a job where I get to use my special abilities to save lives on a daily basis. I’m not wearing a costume and getting medals and endorsement deals like the Protectors and the All American Alliance heroes, but there are a lot of folks in this town who are breathing and whole because of me, and I’m proud of that.
And those flowers over there on my dresser are another good reason to stay. Guys like Jack who can take my differences in stride don’t grow on trees. For the first time in my life, there’s one person I’m not related to that I can be myself around. I’m just starting to appreciate how much that means.
Ma says that if one Georgian knows who I am, then they all do, but I don’t think the White Knight saw my scales or my wing, either at the theatre, or when we were fighting that fire thrower. He was pretty preoccupied with Fafnir, and the fire guy. I’ve told her that, but since I’m only 90% sure, Ma doesn’t think that’s good enough. I think if the White Knight knew I was a dragon, he’s got enough info about me, from the ambulance itself, to find me. And he hasn’t come after me. So, I figure I’ve got an edge. I know what he is, but he doesn’t know what I am. As long as it stays that way, I’m not going anywhere.
And, if he figures it out, well, then, we’ll see. For the first time, I’ve got something worth staying and fighting for. It’s going to take a lot to make me run this time.
D Dragon

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Paige Post - Roller coaster day - Beware day job rant

So, I went to work this morning, and forget to eat breakfast. Pulled in to park, looked down, saw Joe's wallet sitting beside me. Called him, said, hey, get me some breakfast tacos, and come get your wallet. Oops, hard to buy tacos with no wallet. But he figured it out.

He had other fish to fry, though, and it was 2 hours before I got breakfast. Made tea somewhere in there, but running like a madwoman, didn't get to drink it. Trying to get an advertising piece done by today, for the German market. Arguing about what kind of content, who's in charge of it. My work blog has only had one post the last 2 weeks, both by someone other than me. Got 5 other blogs wanting me to send them posts, got about 30 videos that need editing, gotta rebuild website from scratch in dot net nuke, ... Basically, I'm going freakin bananas.

Oh, and it's quarterly ops review today, the day when everyone gets in a room with the top execs in the company and talks about what they did this quarter to earn their paychecks. This did not help my stress level. Got everything done the other day, so no prep for it, just a long day of nerves, especially when the previous departments ran long, and we got started an hour and a half late. So, really long day. But, when it was all over, CEO said, "That is the best marketing report I've heard, ever, since I started here in 1994. I've been here for 9 hours, and I'm listening more intently now than I was at hour 3 or 4."

We're all doing some pretty amazing stuff. My only real complaint is that I'm trying to do way too much at once, and everything is top priority.  I keep juggling, trying to do everything, trying to get whatever is topmost priority at that moment out the door and running to the next thing. I'm a good juggler, but people keep throwing me more balls, it really stresses me out knowing that eventually I'm bound to drop something important.

Paige

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dragon's First Date

He kissed me! Or, I guess, I kissed him. It doesn’t really matter, does it?
A whole bunch of other stuff happened first. I guess I should start at the beginning.
Jack picked me up. He brought me flowers, purple and white striped lilies and red roses mixed together in a square glass vase. He nailed my favorite colors and scents, and he even brought chocolate-covered strawberries for Ma. She grinned and hugged him, and told him that she knew her girl would pick a smart man.
I’ve seen Jack face supervillains, gang fights, and 6 car pileups without missing a beat, but he took one look at me in my new purple dress and forgot how to close his mouth. I guess I look pretty good for sixty-three.
He promised Ma he’d have me home by 1 as if I were a high school girl going to prom. Kinda felt like it. Or, at least how I imagined it. I never got to go to prom, or high school.
We were supposed to have dinner at Outback Steakhouse. Unfortunately, the wait was like 2 hours, and that was with us getting there at 6. We’d have missed the movie. So, we went to Big Bite instead. The wait was only 15 mins. Not exactly a romantic atmosphere with the shiny steel tables and all, but they have great fried cheese, steak and chicken wings.
It was a little weird. Jack and I talk together all the time normally, and it’s easy and comfortable, but it felt really awkward. Same guy, same place that we grab lunch at 3 AM all the time, but I suddenly felt incredibly shy. I kept worrying that my dress would shift and some of my scales would show, or that I had bits of chicken in my teeth. He kept asking me about where I went to school, my childhood and stuff that I just don’t talk about. I guess that’s a normal date thing, to ask about your date’s past.
So, I got him talking about his childhood instead. That helped. Apparently, his branch of the Nguyen family used to be Vietnamese royalty. His mom and dad were refugees from the Vietnam war. His parents had to leave when things heated up for fear of reprisals.
Without thinking, I told him I protested the war. Talk about foot in mouth. I covered it by saying that I meant that I would have protested the war if I’d been around then, but it didn’t sound too convincing.
It was a relief when we finished dinner and went to the movie. Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It had been out for a while, but I hadn’t gotten to see it yet. I loved the books when they first came out when I was a little girl. Dad used to read them to me. Jack and I had the theatre completely to ourselves so we got the prime seats with the railing in front, just behind the front section. Seeing Reepicheep on the screen was super cool. But I hate the thing with Eustace turning into a dragon because he was greedy and petty. It’s such an ugly stereotype. I mean, I like jewelry as much as the next girl, maybe a bit more than some, but seriously, I know a lot of humans that are a lot greedier. Greed is not only a dragon specific trait.
I tried to explain to Jack why it pissed me off that dragons were always portrayed as greedy and vicious, and he actually seemed to agree. Apparently, in Vietnam, legends of dragons are all noble and beneficial. He said he just didn’t understand why western dragons seemed to be prone to eating virgins and burning villages.
I knew I liked him.
Then he put his arm around me and I flinched away and pushed him off. He could have felt my scales under the thin fabric of the dress. He looked really rejected, and I just didn’t know what to tell him. I stumbled all over myself apologizing, but there wasn’t much I could say.
He asked me again why I asked him out, and I had to wonder myself what in the world I was thinking. How did I expect to have a date like a normal person, when I couldn’t even let a guy put his arm around me? All I could think was what a huge mistake this was.
And then the roof just fell in. I don’t mean figuratively, I mean literally. A chunk of the roof collapsed and crashed into the rows of seats. A good sized beam headed straight for me and Jack. I threw up my left arm, the one with the solid scales and threw my body over Jack. I caught the beam hard on my forearm and deflected it behind us. I mentally wrote off the pretty new dress and unfolded my left wing. It ripped through the delicate fabric and I draped it over me and Jack like the roof of a tent.
My wing bones are slender but strong as steel and covered in fine metal scales that almost nothing can penetrate, and the wing skin is a lot tougher than normal skin, more like really tough boot leather, only thin and stretchy like a trampoline. Big chunks of plaster and concrete fell on my wing, but under it, Jack was safe. Our eyes met for just a second under that shelter, and I knew there were no more secrets between us. I was horrified. Now that he knew what a freak I was, I’d have to find a new job, maybe move to a new city, and Ma was getting too old to pick up and move again.
“It’s okay,” he said. “It’s just me.”
Then a huge red and black dragon fell through the roof and landed, panting in pain in the space in front of us between the rows. He had a few cuts in his scales. I’d never seen anything that could cut through dragon scales.
A dragon.  An actual member of my own species. He was the first dragon I’d seen since Dad died. I was dumbfounded. I said something really brilliant like, “You’re a dragon!”
The dragon said, “No shit, Sherlock,” and scrambled to his feet. Then he actually spared a glance to look at me, saw my wing still partially extended over Jack, and did a double-take. “You’re a dragon!” he said, and I didn’t feel nearly so stupid.
I folded my wing up, since no more chunks were falling and jumped over the railing. “You’re actually a dragon!” Okay, so it was even more stupid to say it twice, but cut me some slack. It had been a long time since I saw another dragon.
“I think we’re passed that, milady. I’m Fafnir Drage, and you are?”
“Damson Dragon. Most people just call me Dee.”
I shook his huge clawed and fully scaled hand, or at least one finger of it. “I didn’t know there were any women of our kind on this continent. The Georgians are quite, um, efficient, here.”
“Yeah, they got my dad.”
“Speak of the devil,” Fafnir said, and down dropped an all too familiar figure in a white tabard and silver scale armor carrying a shield with a knight skewering a dragon. White Knight. I so should have known that guy was a Georgian. He slid down a rope belayed around his waist and landed in the aisle, cast the rope aside, and drew the big sword that I’d always seen him wear on TV, but never seen him actually use.
He said, “And now you die foul beast,” or something really clich├ęd like that and charged down one of the aisles straight at the big red and black dragon, right past Jack.
Fafnir bared his fangs and started to push me behind him. There was a loud crackling sound, and White Knight suddenly spasmed uncontrollably and fell to the ground unconscious and twitching.  Jack stood behind him holding a taser and grinning.
Fafnir boomed a laugh, and asked Jack who he was.
“Nguyen Phuc Jack” he said, the way he told me his parents said it.
“Ah, one of the dragon lords. Thank you for the assistance, although I think I could have handled one lone Georgian. It’s when they come in numbers that they’re really dangerous.” Dragon lords? What the heck?
Fafnir shifted then. He did the switch to fully human thing that my dad used to do. One minute, dragon the size of a Winnebago, the next, a man, although not much smaller, actually. He had to be nearly 7 feet tall, blonde and blue-eyed and built like Arnold Schwarzenegger before he went into politics. I really have to learn that trick.
He picked up the sword and hefted it over the unconscious White Knight like he was going to chop his head off. I stopped him with a hand on his telephone pole of an arm. “You can’t just kill him.”
“What do you think he intended to do to me, fledgling?” Yeah, he called me fledgling, like a baby bird who can’t quite fly. I guess it sort of fits.
“I know.” I get it. White Knight's a Georgian, the guys who killed Dad, the ones I’ve hated and lived in constant fear of my whole life. But, it just didn’t seem right. I pulled the silver scale coif and half mask off his face and looked at my enemy. The supple metallic scales in my hand felt all too familiar. Dragon skin. He was wearing the skin of a murdered dragon. But he was just a man, about 30, maybe, with a scar on his lip and another across his eyebrow. I’ve seen this guy pull kids out of burning buildings. He just fought that fire-throwing bad guy a few days ago in front of me, the one who burned the cops. He’s one of the Protectors, a nationally recognized hero. And he murdered dragons.
I’ve never felt so confused in all my life, but I spend my nights saving people. I couldn’t just stand by while someone stabbed this guy to death while he lay there unconscious and helpless. Jack stood beside me, and I told the big guy, Fafnir, that I wouldn’t let him kill the Knight.
Fafnir looked as confused as I felt, but he let it go. He just shrugged and said he would no doubt have another opportunity to kill Georgians. Good thing, too, because if he'd insisted, there was really no way I could have stopped him.
I asked him how I could find him, or if there were any others of our kind in Texas.
He said he knew of one other dragon, another male, who lived in Houston.  Fafnir gave me his own cell phone number, and the number of the guy in Houston, and I gave him mine. He said to be sure and destroy my cell if it looked like a Georgian was going to get me, so it couldn’t be used to track them down. Cheery thought.
I have other dragons I can talk to now!
Then, Fafnir shifted back to dragon form, leapt to the roof through the hole and flew away.
Leaving me with Jack, and an unconscious Knight who was starting to groan and stir.
I grabbed Jack’s hand and we ran for the emergency exit before the White Knight woke up.
Jack drove me home. We didn’t say much on the way back. My mind was going a mile a minute with everything I’d learned about others of my own kind, and about the White Knight being a Georgian.
When we got back to my apartment, Jack walked me up the stairs to my door, and stopped to say good night, and I remembered something else I learned. “What did he mean, dragon lord?”
Jack said it was what Nguyen Phuc meant, that he was one of the dragon lord clan who had been the last emperors of Vietnam before it became a republic.
He stood kind of a little way from me while he talked, and carefully didn’t touch me, like he wasn’t sure if he could. I told him I was sorry about pushing him away earlier. I just didn’t want him to feel my scales and know I was a freak. Of course, now, with my dress ripped, they were showing every time I moved.
He reached out kind of hesitantly to touch them, and I let him. No one else had ever touched them. He stroked down my left arm, across the solid sheet of scales that covered it, and it felt amazing. Fire doesn’t hurt me through those scales and I can stop a roof support beam with them without so much as a bruise, but I could still feel his light touch.
He said something in Vietnamese then, and I asked him what it meant.
“Sons of dragons, grandsons of gods. It’s what they say about my family line, that we were descended from a dragon.”
“So, you’re not freaked out?”
He gave me this exasperated look. Then he told me he’d worked with me for a year, seen me lift a gurney with a 300 pound patient on it with one hand, seen me jump over the gurney long ways just the other day, and he had known for months that if he left me alone for a few seconds with the most critically ill patients, they would recover completely, miraculously fast. We had a 70% higher survival rate than any other EMT team in town. That was the real reason why the boss would never fire me, no matter how often I was late.  And besides, Jack said he looked down my shirt a time or two and saw scales.
He’d known for months that I was different. He just wished that I would have trusted him sooner.
“You looked down my shirt?”
He shrugged and looked at his shoes. “I am a guy.”
And that’s when I kissed him. Or, he kissed me. Or both, maybe. But it was sweet, if a little clumsy.
I just hope our second date isn’t quite this … exciting. Maybe we could stay in and rent a movie.

D Dragon

Sunday, February 13, 2011

You Don't Know Jack

Jack didn’t say anything to me about what happened the other night, except to ask if I was okay. Then, he was really quiet for the rest of the shift, barely spoke to me. Jack and I have been working together for nearly a year under some pretty intense circumstances. He didn't give me shit about my weird "high protein" diet at lunch like he usually does. He didn't tell me about the latest super-robot he'd beaten on that new XBox game he's into, "Enslaved." So, I knew he was upset with me, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why.
I finally gave in and asked Jack what was bugging him. He said that it didn’t matter, and generally kept his lips buttoned. I threatened to buy a badly written torrid romance novel and read the worst parts out loud until he gave in. Finally, he surrendered to my dire threats. I made him laugh a little anyway, so it was hard for him to keep being mad at me.
He said he was just disappointed that I didn’t trust him. I didn’t really understand what he meant. I mean we watch out for each other all the time. There was that time when we got called to a gang shooting in the worst part of east Austin. I trusted him to watch for more shooters while I tended to the kid with the gut wound. I trusted him all the time to cover for me with the boss whenever he could.
He wouldn’t give me any more information, no matter how much I cajoled or threatened, so I had to let it go. But it bothered me. The way he seemed kind of sad, and the distance he kept. Getting the cold shoulder from Jack was far worse torture than purple prose. I’d thought he was going to ask me out before the craziness with the flame throwing robber. I bought a new outfit, even. A gorgeous outfit that I was dying for him to see me in.
It’s an asymmetrical dress with a full sleeve on the left side and off the shoulder on the right. It looks sexy, but covers all my scales, and it’s this deep vivid purple, just like a damson plum, exactly my color.  I went to 6 different shops looking for something that covered what I needed to cover but still looked good on me. I hit the jackpot with that dress.

I got some cute little suede ankle boots to go with it. Can’t wear sandals, of course. I’ve got an extra toe on the inside of each heel, sort of like a thumb on a hand. It’s handy for picking up laundry and such from the floor when I’m barefoot at home, but looks way too freaky for sandals.  I tried on the whole outfit, along with the amethyst pendant that Ma gave me for my birthday about 30 years ago in front of the full length mirror. I looked downright hot if I do say so myself.
No way I was going to let that outfit go to waste. So, when our shift was over, I asked him out.
I can’t believe I really did it, but I asked a guy out on a date. Me. The world's oldest virgin. Not just any guy, of course. It’s Jack Nguyen, my partner, the closest thing I have to a friend. As he pointed out, he’s the one guy I can trust not to do anything I don’t want him to.
He looked pretty surprised when I asked him, then kind of suspicious. He actually asked me “Why?” Are guys supposed to ask you “why?” when you ask them out? I mean, I thought it was okay nowadays for a lady to ask out a man. Isn’t that part of what we got from all that bra burning and free love nonsense I marched over back in the ‘60’s?
I didn’t know what to tell him. “Um, because I like you?” was the best I could come up with. I know, lame, but I didn’t know what else to say. I wonder if I blush purple because if I do, Jack probably got a really good look at it about then.
He got the cutest little half smile on his face, and he said, "That's a really good reason." He said that he was afraid I had asked him out just because I didn’t want to be alone on Valentine’s Day.
I’ve gotten so used to ignoring that stuff that I didn’t even notice that tomorrow was Valentine’s Day. I just knew it was our day off.  He’s going to think this means something way more than just that I wanted a chance to wear my nice outfit and I didn’t want him mad at me anymore.
Maybe some supervillain will attack the city tomorrow causing mass devastation and I’ll have to cancel. Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be that lucky.
D Dragon

Friday, February 11, 2011

Heroes

I gave Ma a huge hug when I got home early, still wrapped in a blanket and smelling like smoke. I just held on tight for a while.
Ma patted my back and asked me what happened.
My partner, Jack, and I got called to a building fire, at least that was what the call said. They didn’t mention that a nutcase in flamey red spandex tossing fireballs caused the building fire. For once, I kinda wish we didn’t have the fastest response rate of any EMT team in town.
The guy apparently robbed a jewelry store, and when the cops showed up, he started flinging fire at them. There were two cops down with bad burns when we got there, and the fire guy had set the apartment complex across the street ablaze.  Fire trucks were trying to fight the building fire while cops and a couple of superheroes tried to subdue the robber.  
Takedown was there, a local guy who Jack and I had seen before a time or two. He’s good people. He does a lot of the educational outreach stuff with kids, Stranger Danger, that kind of thing. It was pretty obvious that he could hold his own in a fight, too, from what I saw. But he's not fireproof, so he couldn't get near the robber. The other hero was actually one of the Protectors, a nationally famous hero that I’d only seen on TV before, getting a medal for saving a bunch of kids. White Knight.  That guy makes my jaws tighten every time I see him. He dresses like a refugee from a Renaissance faire and has a sword and shield, but what pisses me off is the image painted on his shield: a guy with one foot on the chest of a dying dragon, holding a spear through it.  Asshole. But that shield seemed to be a good defense against fire.

Jack and I went to help the cops who were down. One cop just had burns over his forearm. We cut away his uniform, laid some burn sheets over the worst of it, and sent him to sit in the passenger seat while we took care of his buddy. The other cop was burnt bad over nearly 50% of his body, screaming in agony. The smell of it choked me, and made my stomach turn. Jack called it in, and got permission from the doc on duty to shoot him up with morphene. The cop went out like Jack had flipped a switch. The cop was in for a horrific few months in the hospital, and had a high probability of not making it. And even if he did, he’d be scarred and probably disabled for life.
I sent Jack back to the unit for more burn sheets, cleared my mind till all I felt was empathy for the cop’s pain, checked to make sure no one was looking our way amid the chaos, and bit him on his uninjured arm. I made sure the fang pierced the median vein, and gave him a full dose of venom.  My venom doesn’t heal instantly or anything, but it vastly accelerates and augments healing, even to the point of helping him regenerate burnt skin. The cop was going to make a miraculous recovery, and probably would be back on the streets in a week or two. In six months, he wouldn’t even have scars.
Jack and I got a drip going into him, got him on a gurney, and headed toward the unit. We were paying so much attention to the injured cop, we didn’t notice that the fight had come our way. In like a second, a bunch of stuff happened. The White Knight shouted a warning. The fiery bad guy was headed straight for Jack, and his body had flames licking all over it. If he touched Jack, my partner would be in as bad a shape as the cop or worse.

I jumped over the gurney longways from a standstill and landed in front of the fiery guy who ran into me instead. I stumbled backward into Jack. My uniform shirt caught fire instantly, and I shoved the burning man hard away from me with my left arm. Right into the shield of the White Knight.  The force of my shove knocked the Knight down, and dazed the bad guy.
The flames flickered out for a second and Takedown put both gloved palms on the villain’s back. I heard electricity crackle, and the fire slinger went limp. The White Knight yelped at the same time, and I have to admit, I chuckled. TakeDown’s tazer gloves took out the bad guy, but apparently the knight’s shield and scale armor conducted the electricity a little too well. Take that, big bad knight.
I wasn’t laughing long as I realized half my uniform was burning away, and the scales on my left arm and shoulder were showing. Yikes! I hunched over the arm, trying to cover it before anyone saw, jumped into the back of the unit, grabbed a blanket and threw it over myself. Jack was right behind me.
He kept asking how bad I was hurt and trying to pry away the blanket. We had what I can only describe as our first fight. I had to practically throw him off me to keep him from looking under the blanket. He kept saying things like, “This is no time for modesty,” and “It’s okay. It’s just me.” like I was being overly shy.  I told him I was fine, but he didn’t buy it. He wouldn’t leave it be until I reminded him we had two patients to get to the hospital. He wasn’t happy about it, but he drove.
I bailed on the rest of the shift, went home sick officially. Jack gave me a look as I was leaving, not like I expected. He didn’t look pissed. He just looked kind of, disappointed, I guess. 
Ma said she was proud of me.
But I can’t shake this feeling, like I did something really wrong. I just can’t figure out what it is.
D Dragon

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

40 years of puberty

I think my partner, Jack, likes me.  I mean, really likes me, likes me. He almost asked me out when our shift was ending. I managed to escape before he could, but I still have to face him tomorrow, and the next night, and the next. What the heck am I going to do?

Don't get me wrong. Jack's a nice guy, even kind of cute. When I told Ma about it, she smiled and said she approved, that he was “a very nice young man,” and it was about time.

She doesn’t get why I’m having conniptions. Jack’s not the problem. It's me. I am a walking disaster when it comes to men. The world's oldest virgin. I'm damn near old enough to qualify for social security and there are 25 year old nuns who have gotten more action than I have. I’ve never even been on a real date. Who is a girl who is 60 and looks 20 supposed to date? I’ve always moved away whenever a guy got too close, but Ma’s getting too old to start over again with new identities. I’m here in Austin to stay, for a decade or two anyway. Jack’s like 28. What do people that age talk about on dates?

Geeze, this is embarrassing even to write, but see the deal is that dragons live for centuries, sometimes even millenia, assuming some self-righteous jerk with a sword doesn’t come along and decapitate them. Sounds great, right? People who think living for centuries would be great never seem to think about some of the fun realities of having that long a lifespan. Like 40 years of puberty. So far. Humans get a few years of living hell in high school while their voices break and hair grows in weird places and they get their periods and the boob fairy visits, and bam, they’re all grown up. There are times when I’d kill to be human.

I couldn’t even go to high school. I looked like I was 12 until I was 20. Managed to get through college by stuffing a bra with socks and using a lot of makeup. Took twenty years for me to fill out a bra enough that I could stop using the socks, and not long after that, I started getting scales. We’re not just talking slightly hard spots on my skin, I mean shiny, metallic, bright purple scales the size of nickels. And eventually a few brilliant green ones, too, and bigger silver ones the size of half dollars on my spine and one shoulder.

On the one hand, I keep thinking, when these cover my whole body, I’ll almost look like my dad, only with the reverse of his color scheme. I’ll have deep purple as my main color and green tiger stripes. That would be so cool.

On the other hand, I’ve got freaking scales on my body! And let’s not talk about the underside of my arms and my sides where my wings fold up. I don’t know how Dad did the, I’m perfectly human, thing.  I can’t even let a date get to second base. If he so much as cops a feel, he’s going to know I’m a freak. And what would I wear? I can’t wear anything form-fitting or low cut. All my clothes look frumpy. I don’t have anything date worthy in my closet at all.

I’d better go shopping. I’ve got to find something to wear.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Got hit by a damn car

Some nights, it doesn't pay for a dragon to get out of bed.

Got up, and couldn't find my keys, anywhere. I always put them in the same place, on the hook by my light switch, but they weren't there. Ma was asleep, so I couldn't ask her. I turned the apartment upside down. They were nowhere, just vanished.

I was going to be late, again. One more ding on my record and I'd be looking for another job. Not good. I like this job. I know it's weird, but I do. At least I can help a few people, sometimes.

I was running out of time. With 20 minutes left, I realized I'd never make it even if I found my keys. So, I gave up, and slipped out my window to the fire escape. I live in the tallest apt building in town. Went straight up to the roof, doing my best to avoid the railing section that screeches when you lean on it, right next to Mrs. Del Conte's window. She's my landlady, and she's got the loudest, yappiest Pekingese in Austin. I'd hate that dog if it wasn't so darn cute.

As soon as I hit the roof, I unbottoned my uniform shirt, and took it off so I could get my wings unfolded. Tucked my shirt into the back of my pants so I wouldn't lose it. It was well after 11 at night. The street lights keep everyone blind to the sky in the city, so not much danger that anyone would see me.

I'm not my dad. I can't do the full dragon thing, or I don't know, maybe I just can't do it yet. I'm still pretty young the way dragons count things. I can't quite fly. Can't just, you know, jump up and flap and lift off from the ground, although I can jump a couple stories with wing assist. I can also glide better than any hang glider ever dreamed, even gain some altitude if I catch the thermals right.

It felt so good to stretch my wings and catch the air, cold as a well-digger's ass this time of year, but the cold's never really bothered me much. It's just a different kind of swooshy feeling as it flows under my wing membranes. It's beautiful up there in the sky, and so perfectly peaceful. Everything pauses and the world takes a deep breath. I wonder sometimes why dad ever came down.

There's a little park right across from the hospital. Should have been empty that time of night. I tilted my right wing and circled to shed air speed, then flapped backward hard just before my feet touched grass. Light as a feather. Dad would have been proud. I was grinning, all pleased with myself for the perfect landing, and looked up ... right into the eyes of a homeless guy, sitting leaned up against a tree. He was huddled under every piece of clothing he probably owned until he looked like part of the landscaping.

"Uh, Hi." I snapped my wings closed and waved at him.

He looked dazed, but he waved back.

Hopefully, he'll assume the half naked, slightly scaly winged girl he saw was a result of whatever he had to drink before camping here.

I had bigger problems. The cell phone in my pocket read 11:57. I had three minutes to show up to work on time. Threw my shirt over my shoulders and ran, buttoning as I went.

Realized half way across the road that I got the buttons done wrong, stopped for a second to undo them. Dumb, really dumb to stand in the middle of the road, looking down at my buttons. Don't know what in the world I was thinking.

Some guy in an F150 pickup going way faster than he should have been going right in front of a hospital clipped me hard with his right front bumper. Threw me about 15 feet, clear over the sidewalk and into the wall. That really hurt. I was bruised for hours. And my uniform pants got ripped. Who goes that fast in a hospital zone anyway? I mean, besides us. But we have flashy lights and sirens and a good excuse.

The guy slammed the brakes and jumped out to come check on me, but I ran for it before he got a good look at me. Made it into the building, but the boss still dinged me for being late. And, for showing up looking like I slept in my uniform, and rolled in the dirt.

Some days, it just doesn't pay. Boss said they're too short-handed to fire me. Got that going for me, I guess.

Here's the kicker. After my shift, when I got home, I went to grab a couple slices of leftover ham out of the fridge, and found my keys next to the milk.

D Dragon

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Damson Dragon

I watched a man die today, when I could have saved him.

When I got home at the end of my shift at 8:30 AM, Ma was up, making breakfast, scrambled eggs with bacon bits and cheese mixed in. She made toast for herself, and sliced tomatoes from her balcony garden, but I can't eat bread, or vegetables. Dragons are pure carnivores, and I inherited that trait.

I told her about the man who died over breakfast. I've already forgotten his name, which bugs me. Some middle-aged, overweight middle manager who clearly spent too much of his life working hard to make his company wealthy. Somebody should remember his name.

He had a heart attack. Our response times are the best in town, I'm proud to say, so we got to him fast. Some secretary had done CPR on him till we arrived. My partner paddled him, and he had a rhythm. He was breathing. If I'd bit him then, he'd have made a full recovery. My venom has some pretty remarkable healing properties when I'm in the right mental space. But I couldn't very well pop out fangs and bite the guy in front of his secretary and half his office. They were all hovering around, no matter how much I tried to get them to go back to their computers and status meetings.

The rhythm faltered, and he gasped right there while all his co-workers gawked. A second attack. It happens sometimes, like aftershocks after an earthquake. We couldn't get him jump-started again. He just ... stopped. And I watched it and did nothing. Well, not nothing. I did everything a human could have done to try to save him. But it wasn't enough.

I could have saved him. Right then, I was the only one who could. But I didn't.

Ma made comforting noises at me. "You know you have to keep your head down, Damson. I know how hard it is on you."

She doesn't though. She has no idea. What's the point of being so different. I've got all these abilities, but all I do is hide them. I should be using them to make a difference, like Dad did. Ma doesn't see what I see, night after night.

That guy, he was about my age, early sixties, time when humans start to die pretty regularly. I still get carded in bars, or I would if I drank alcohol, but still, he and I were the same age.

Ma and I ran through the same old argument a little. I pointed out that lots of folks who were different were running around in costumes saving people nowadays. They made the news, got endorsement deals from Nike, got medals from the president. They didn't have to keep their heads down and blend in, even when it cost a man's life.

She got all teary-eyed, and scared looking, and made me promise I wouldn't do anything crazy. It was that kind of thinking that cost my dad his life. Georgians got him before I hit puberty, and if they'd have known about me, they'd have taken my head, too. Might have killed Ma, too, just for consorting with dragons.

Ma's the only family I've had since then. It's been just the two of us most of my life, moving from place to place whenever folks started to notice that I didn't seem to be getting any older, or if they got a glimpse of my scales or wings. She's spent her whole life looking out for me. I promised her I wouldn't do anything that would bring the Georgians' attention.

Not Georgians like people from Georgia. Knights in the order of St. George. Dragon slayers. It's a secret society that's existed since just before the dark ages. But they're not ancient history, they're still around. Or at least, they were, about 50 years ago, when they chopped my dad's head off and left his skinned, headless body in the field at our farm for my mother and me to find when we got back from town.

Yeah, I'll keep my head down, and keep it on my shoulders. For Ma's sake. For now.

I guess if I'm going to write down my thoughts in a diary to keep from going nuts, I should probably sign them, but I'm not sure how. My full name is Damson Diane Drake. Ma named me Damson after the plums. My hair was brilliant purple when I was born. It's black now in most lights, although you can see shimmers of eggplant in bright sunshine. I try to avoid sunshine.

I mostly just go by Dee, because the name on the fake birth certificate I use changes every few years. Currently, it says Diane Emerson, my mother's maiden name.

Drake just means dragon, and it was the only last name my dad ever gave. He was the real deal. He could look as human as anyone one minute, and fly over the house in full scales the next, double in size till he was big as a plow horse. He was beautiful, too. Scales the color of emeralds with purple streaks in a pattern like a tiger, with heavier silver scales on his spine and chest. He used to take me flying over our farm and the woods behind it.

Now, I'm getting all teary-eyed. It's been a long night. I'm just tired.

Ma's settled in her rocker with her knitting and her cane close by, and her soaps on the TV. She can wake me if she needs anything. That's enough for a first shot at this diary thing.

D Dragon

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow Day

It snowed today. Yes,in Austin. Like 2 inches. Schools closed. My company closed. The whole freakin area shut down. We central Texans do not deal well with snow.

I stayed home, worked on an article for work that I very nearly missed my deadline for. Squeaked in, got it done at 4:30 when deadline was 5:00. Sent it in, and found out deadline was actually 5:00 Monday. Aw, well, one more day for revisions and polishing. It could use it. Not every day I write a data integration article that features Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner. Gotta keep it interesting somehow.

Son, dog, puppy, and husband all played outside in the snow while I worked. I only hate them a little. Took a cute video of them. My baby put it to music and posted it on Facebook. We come from the land of ice and snow.

Tomorrow is the EPIC! faire. I will bellydance, and MC. Will dance for food. Should be interesting introducing myself.

There will be gaming and jugglers and magicians and food and such, too. No ticket price, just whatever you want to donate to support our intrepid improv troupe. It's indoors, but weather looks like it's going to get nice, so we may spill out onto the porch. You should come. It will be fun.

Paige

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Too Much Life

Too much to post about, so I'll summarize:

Day job: Big announcement simultaneously at events in the UK and in CA, time zone mess, no way to keep up with Twitter stream. I stayed up till 1:30 Mon night transcribing an interview between a prominent analyst and one of our guys, so he'd have the material to write me a good post on the new cool technology. No post yet, but hopefully first thing tomorrow.

Went to dentist yesterday afternoon. Been having nasty toothache for days. He cleaned my teeth and said he couldn't find anything wrong. It would probably get better. Useless. I so miss my fabulous dentist in south Austin. I may have to just take time off work and drive across town, if this thing keeps causing me pain every time I eat.

Half day Blogwell event I attended today had no wifi for half of it. Def of Irony: A social media conference with no wifi, so it's tough to blog or tweet. Wasn't really their fault, rolling blackouts all over town due to the extreme cold snap and massive increase in power consumption. It killed the network all over the UT campus.

This weekend, I was working on the shores of Lake Austin, helping at Rchard Garriott's land to clean up the shore, wearing a tank top and sandals. Today, I had 4 layers on top and was still freezing my backside. Texas weather, gotta love it. Expecting snow on Friday.

Came home this evening to find my daughter and her girlfriend visiting, with their great dane, and the tiny Pomeranian fluffball we're adopting. My baby had to frantically run to the pet store, get stuff, set up a pet gate, etc. while we tried to keep the tiny black ball of fluff, named Kuro, the unbearably cute, from getting stepped on by a great dane, eaten by our old man of a blue heeler, shredded by the cats, lost under the furniture, or otherwise out of harm's way.

I got roped into cooking dinner, chicken and dumplings, which Joe has decided I make better than anyone. I didn't put in enough pepper, and it wasn't as thick as I like it, but everyone seemed pretty happy.

So, in the half hour left of my day, I took the puppy out to water the lawn, am writing this blog, then I need to put away the leftovers and fold a load of laundry.

The heater has decided that now, the coldest night of the year, it should stop working. So, my baby is in a foul mood, and trying to troubleshoot the issue. He's on the phone with the repair guy while I'm writing this.

It's funny, but when I try to explain to folks why I never seem to have any spare time, they don't get it. One friend, who frequently gripes about being bored, suggested I buy a book on time management. I'd have been tempted to hit him with it.

Gotta go, food to put away, laundry to fold, and some time tonight, I'd like to sleep.

Nothing earth-shattering really, just a normal day,

Paige