THE DRAGON’S AWAKENING
Written by: Radmilo Anđelković
Translated by: Mihajlo Stojković
The membrane shatters and Kordon slams onto the dirt beneath the cliff. He shakes it off, and memories begin to meander through the nerves. Somewhere to the side, there must be the stone which he slammed onto last time. It’s there where he moved it. Traces, a couple of drops of blood, are still on it and are entirely black. The last kid was a plain jerk, he had set it before he summoned him. The new one could be much worse. His memories tell him that the Awakener had never been better.
Then he starts to look back, to listen, to rummage through the recorded vibrations to recall whether there was some sound before he plummeted. Something did break the membrane, but it wasn’t a summon. There is no summon this time. What kind of scheme did they think of now? He shrieks a couple of times and illuminates the darkness. The cave is still his, all the niches in which his kin once lived are empty,excrement removed. He is the last of his kind, spared in order to protect the destroyers. When they realized that only his kind inherits the gene which foresees disaster, the others were of no more use to them. There was no more use for guano either, no one cultivated anything.
Then doubt begins to set in where curiosity turns to hope. It was a simple thought, but it instantly disturbed him: Who was removing the mess I defecated during this sleep?
Then came another thought: How long did I, in fact, sleep?
And finally: Well then, where’s that end of the world since I’m already awake?
Kordon always wakes up before the end of the world and It is surely that way now too. That’s why he suppresses all thought, flaps his wings a couple of times, and fracts to the roof of the cave. The outside light could be glimpsed from there. And there was light, but somehow more blush than he remembered. In a swift dive, squeezing through a couple of stalagmites he remembered as markers toward the open space, he swooped though the darkness, shrieking and calling out to the ow of blush. When he flies out, he will molt the hindering skin and have offspring for the first time.
In an instant, he noticed, at the very mouth of the cave, something that reminded him of Gorgon’s locks, of serpentine ambushes, but he knew well that his memories were not his own and that kind of thing had never been in his cave. It was, however, in the memories of those who skinned him for generations in order to prevent the end of the world, and it was indeed a whip, with a noose at the end, which tangled his wings. As it pulled him somewhere outside, he heard a voice, a happy one, almost cheerful:
“What’s the matter? You hoped that we completely forgot about you?”
He did, he hoped. But he also hoped that they had completely vanished, that the end of the world had finally happened, and that they hadn’t summoned him, brought him to the daylight and scoured him as a signal to the underworld that there was no need to destroy their world. Also signaling was the light outside with its reddish glow, the outer membrane shattered on its own accord, and yes, he could’ve peacefully fractaled had the Awakener of this generation not readily waited for him at the mouth of the cave and wrapped him like a spider bundles a fly.
“Actually, we don’t need you. We’ve not been coming for you for three generations now. You’re superfluous. Scientists have solved the problem of the planet’s destructing waves, and they are no more.” The kid gabbled as if Kordon could understand him. He untied his bundle on the rock before him and pulled out two poles and a long piece of vine. He tied them together so that the poles, like rims, supported the vine frame. “I too could’ve left you, but today we race paper kites1 and it’s my turn to win. Your wings will endure the winds of height, and I’ll leave a couple of wings unbound, so flap away to your heart’s content.”
Kordon is watching him through his eyelids. If he lifts them, the kid will see that he sees him. It doesn’t hurt much while he’s binding his fore and hind wings. He thinks that the boy forgot the middle pair. It hurts, oh how it hurts when he hammers a metal spike in between his talons. He had never experienced this kind of skinning before. This one must’ve thought of something special, he is thinking and calculating what he could perturb with only one pair of wings.
The boy finally finishes what he started, he gets up off the grass and puts his bundle over his shoulder. Finally, he lifts his contraption with Kordon crucified on it. A reel with string is attached at its bottom end. He’s holding it in his left hand. He slowly leaves the cave, towards the steep hillside at the base of which is another group of children scurrying, and in the sky, far above the hill where he is, a dozen kites are circling. Slowly at first, then faster and faster, he runs down the hillside, unwinding the string until his kite with Kordon on it yankes out of his right hand and propels upwards.
He climbed up so fast that he soon reached the height where the other kites were circling. Then the kid reeled the string in and led him in wide circles, parallel, but still a bit above the rest. He was still running down the hill, but was already hollering with the other kids, promising that he would lift his kite to a greater height than any one of them. As if he had heard him, Kordon finally quivered,then flapped his unbound wings. He felt them scooping air, and immediately following his pulse doubling, then increasing tenfold, only for his whole body to start ringing with vibrations after a few more flaps. He wasn’t carried by the air currents anymore, he was creating them himself, all the while pushing the other kites out of the plane of gliding, in the end to remain the only one, generating a vortex that slowly extended to the ground.
At one point he felt the kid, somewhere far beneath him, trying to slow him down and pull him downward, but the slow skin had already seriously swelled, so much that the binds on the fore and hind wings tore, only the feet were now painfully stretched, resisting the tugging. The unbound wings were more important. Never,over the countless awakenings in which the kid’s ancestors skinned and bequeathed him to their descendants as a live trophy, had he experienced such vibrations, the power with which he could lift the boy up, but, rather, he shook him off. He saw him, with the corner of his eye, rolling in the grass, and the other children gathering around him. However, everything was somehow getting colored in the redness which was, like scarlet dew, descending from the sky into the valley, shimmering in the rhythm of his vibrations which already caused tears on the slow skin.
He recognized what was going on even though it had never happened to him before – he was swelling up so as to disperse the billions of his cells in a fractal firework, which will, each on their own, shatter a part of the planet’s surface and fertilize it for some new lifeforms. As he was dispersing all around, he wished to tell the kid that his scientists weren’t worthwhile, and that he has nothing to regret, but that thought too fractaled off on its own way.
Radmilo Anđelković was, during his working age, engaged in scientific research at the Military Technical Institute in Belgrade and his research is unavailable to the public. He has been a supporter of fiction and fandom for the last thirty years, and his work there is somewhat more available. He has published eight novels and about forty short stories. Being a passionate cook, he has also published a book on indigenous spices in cookery. He works on essays in literary fiction only when someone gets on his nerves.
Translator Mihajlo Stojković – was born on the 20th of March 1998 in Pozarevac where he graduated from the High School of Economics and Commerce. Despite the fact it being a vocational school, he decided to continue his education at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade, where he is currently a third-year student of the English Department. He participated and was a finalist in the English Department Short Story Competition. Upon finishing his studies, he wish to become an English language teacher and eventually write a book.
Translation edited by: Dejan Mujanović.