RED ROVER, RED ROVER

“Damn fracking,” mumbled McAllister. He stared at the red water in the little creek. “First they cause an earthquake, then they pollute the groundwater. Now something’s using my farm as a fast food highway.”

After the quake last year he’d been thrilled to have a new creek bubble up across his farm. Not anymore. The weird noises grew louder every night. Livestock vanished with increasing frequency.

Sweat dripped down McAllister’s back, but not from the sun. Last night he saw something slither up this creek bed, leaving a trail of feathers. A dozen of his best layers, gone. The unearthly prints around the hen house were the only clue something wasn’t right.

The bushes rustled. High pitched chirping echoed around him. He tightened his grip on the shotgun and kept moving. The air felt charged, pricking his skin. His heartbeat quickened. Maybe it wasn’t the fracking after all. Maybe it was something else.

Wind and darkness swirled around him. He leaned into the tempest and continued forward. The storm vanished as quickly as it arrived, leaving McAllister in a still and barren landscape with a red stream. He blinked in the bright light and scorching heat. Large and small leathery wings filled the sky. Their screeching and chirps made his hair stand on end, but the golden eyes that studied him nearly made his heart stop.

“Mmm, a human,” said the dragon. “I wonder if it tastes like chicken.”

“Looks old and tough. Not enough meat for the children. Throw it back in the portal and try a different opening.”

The dragon flicked a claw at McAllister knocking him back into the whirlwind. A moment later he landed on his farm next to the now dried creek bed.

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About A. L. Kaplan

I am a writer, artist, and parent.
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