The Amethyst Dragon

Leah was bored.  She chewed on her fingernail absently, watching as the lone customer sat at the counter leafing through an actual, old-fashioned newspaper.  It had gigantic pages covered in black ink and they rustled as he turned them.  It was archaic.  He couldn’t even see his coffee cup, hidden as it was beneath the classifieds section which was spread out before him.  

She tugged at her apron and glanced through the plate glass windows that lined the diner’s front and side walls.  They were in a corner building and the gray streets beyond were filled with leaves blowing in the wind.  No vehicles traversed them, and scant few pedestrians.  It was as if they were at the end of the world.  

“See here,” the man said, folding the paper in half.  He removed a felt tip pen from his shirt pocket and carefully circled one of the adverts.  Then he slid it across the counter towards her, nodding for her to take a look.  

Leah shrugged and picked it up.  Whatever.  It wasn’t like she had anything else to do.  

LOST:  Amethyst dragon, last seen near Windmoor Forest, liberal reward.  

There was a number to call and nothing more.  Leah shrugged and passed the paper back to him, twirling a lock of her pale blonde hair around her finger.  She glanced towards the kitchen where the fry cook was busily preparing for the lunchtime rush.  If you could call it that.  

The second hand on the clock above his head trundled slowly along in precise increments, pausing briefly at each stop as it wound its way around the face of the timepiece.  

“Are you going to go after it?” the man at the counter asked.  

Leah was sure she’d misheard, but the man’s eyes bore into her and he tilted his head slightly, raising one eyebrow.  

“Yeah, sure,” she muttered.  She slid her apron over her head and tossed it beneath the counter.  She didn’t have time for this.  She normally took an extended break between the breakfast and lunchtime patrons and this strange man had been nursing the same cup of coffee for nearly an hour now.  

She slid his ticket across the counter to him and said, “It’s on the house; let yourself out.”  And then she headed for the door.  

The bell jingled overhead as she stepped out into the street and she shivered slightly in the wind.  The town of Windmoor sat on the edge of the strange, shifting phantasmagoria that had appeared just three short weeks ago.  It wasn’t the only one – they had appeared all over the world, sometimes in rural areas and just as often in heavily populated areas.  No one knew the fate of those who had been caught inside the boundaries, and no one who had gone in to investigate had come back out.  

It was the reason for the diner’s lack of business.  Sometimes the edges, the boundaries of the strange phenomenon, shifted slightly.  A surge forward of this one and the diner would be swallowed up within its periphery, and then what?  No one knew.  

There had been a forest beyond the town, before the thing’s arrival.  Leah had no idea if it was still there or not and she didn’t much care as she headed across the street towards the bakery where her friend Jasmine worked.  But halfway across something caught her eye in the shifting vortice.  It was just a flash of wing, sparkling in the muted haziness of the boundary, and she turned towards it to get another glimpse.  

She took a hesitant step toward the boundary.  Just last week she’d watched as a group of boys had dared each other to get closer, laughing as they jostled each other.  She’d seen the bravest of the group stretch his hand out, and then he had vanished.  The other boys had turned and ran.  

And now she was doing the same thing.  

There!  Another flash of light, glinting, and the sound of … purring?  Leah took a step closer.  It sounded like a cat, only much louder.  But it wasn’t an unpleasant sound.  

The boundary shimmered in the gray morning air, everything beyond it hazy and vague as if she were looking through opaque glass, and she stepped closer still.  

“Leah!  What are you doing?  Get back!”  

Leah turned to see Jasmine standing in the door of the bakery, her eyes wide with alarm.  She motioned frantically with her arms.  

The purring grew louder and Leah turned back to the boundary, straining to peer through it.  She saw the shape of the dragon, gliding on wide outstretched wings as it soared in circles beyond.  It shimmered like ripples in a pond and its scales glittered with hues of lilac, violet, and indigo.  

She took another step closer and stretched out her hand.  The boundary undulated at her touch.  

“Leah!” Jasmine screamed, but she did not leave the doorway of the bakery.  

Leah glanced back.  The strange man stood outside the diner now, with the newspaper folded and tucked beneath his arm.  Its pages fluttered in the wind as he watched her.  

She turned back to the boundary as the amethyst dragon beckoned. 

THE END

Thanks so much for reading! I hope that you enjoyed it.
~Kyeli

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