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Toxic #28: This Ain’t No Grocery Store Horsey Ride

Aug 6, 2014

Fairies. Pissed at me? It almost sobered me up. “It’s because of the crap Damian gave me to drink. I don’t normally shoot lines out of my, well, out of my anything.”

“Now isn’t the time to discuss the how and why. Now is the time to get airborne.” Arabus wrapped whiskers thicker than a cat’s tail around me and helped me stand. “We’re going to go for a ride until this wears off. If no one can lock onto your position it should be all right.”

“I’m going to ride you?” How was I supposed to hold on? Heck, how was I supposed to get on his back? He wasn’t exactly wearing a saddle. As a city girl, it wouldn’t have helped much if he had been anyway. I’d never ridden anything even vaguely animal, unless grocery store horsey rides counted.

The whiskers descended again and lifted me up, and then I was sitting on a slippery pile of scales. Given their fluted edges, as sharp as a razor, I resisted wiggling. A more comfortable position wasn’t worth blood loss.

“Ready?” He stretched his wings and gave a sinuous flap. “Stick your hands under the scales of my neck. It won’t hurt me.”

It might not hurt him, but what about me? I did as he told me, though, and managed not to slice off a finger. “This is weird.”

“You’re hardly one to talk.”

It only took two flaps of those jetliner-spanning wings to lift us up. The web pulled with us, but not entirely. They seemed anchored to the ground at the outer edge. From my new vantage point, I could make out differences among them. Some were darker. Some were wider. A few were so massive they looked like giant pipes.

“What are the big ones?”

“Ley lines.”

Ley lines. I knew a little about them from movies, but not a lot. They were some kind of weird energy field, and in horror fiction bad witches loved to use them to raise hell. Not literally most of the time. They were a power source, not a path to the undead.

Whatever they were in real life, the whole town was covered in a perfect starburst pattern of them. The center point originated over the lake. “What do they do?”

Arabus banked us to the left, heading away from town and over the dark stretch of lake below. “They’re areas of increased energy in the earth. Most of earth’s holy places and sacred monuments are built on them.”

“People built churches on ley lines? On purpose?” I wasn’t Catholic or anything, but that didn’t seem to be up organized religions’ alleys.

“Not intentionally. Throughout history, humans have built on them without truly being aware of their existence. Some believe that to be on a ley line allows you to tap into the spiritual energies of the universe directly. Humans may instinctively feel that, even if they don’t recognize it.”

“Do they? Tap into the spiritual energies or whatever?”

“That subject is too complex to discuss with a girl drunk on griffin tears. Human or not.”

He took us into a dive, leveling out so close to the surface of the lake that I could have reached down and skimmed the water. It was too close for my phobia’s comfort, drunk or not.

To distract myself, I focused on the fairies. “So why exactly don’t we want the fairies finding out it’s me?”

He lifted us higher, rising to meet the hills at the end of the lake. “I told you that most humans are unable to access the lines. And yet you not only did, but did it to an usual degree. It takes a rare power to do that, regardless of the creature. Unless you’re a dragon.”

“Dragons can use them?”

He swiveled his head and grinned. “Dragons made them.”

I blinked, really hoping it had been with their claws and not their teeth.

Arabus turned back to face front, which was good since we were quickly approaching a very dark, very dense forest. “The fairies don’t like anything rare. Or powerful. They want to keep control, and that’s harder to do when something can fight back. The good news is that the community has no idea who’s doing it. They can’t rat you out when the fairies arrive. Which means if we keep you hidden, you’ll be okay.”

“Oh.” I chewed my lip. “Damian might figure it out. He knows what I was drinking.”

“Yes. He probably will.”

Arabus avoided the forest, banking us again so that we were flying back over the lake. Lights twinkled like stars below. Wineries. And then some houses. I wondered which one of them was mine.

“Damian won’t tell anyone. It wouldn’t be to his benefit.”

“Did he give me the stuff knowing it would cause trouble?”

Arabus laughed. “Damian has a curious mind. I have no doubt he wanted to see what would happen.”

“Great,” I muttered. “First he slips me a dhampir mickey and then he gets me drunk to see what hell I’ll cause. And he wants me to go on a date? I’ll probably end up in leprechaun jail.”

Arabus circled over the water, a slow loop that made me weightless. “Leprechauns don’t have jails. And whatever Damian’s weaknesses may be, he is honest about his nature. He also doesn’t lie. You could do worse.”

“You like him.”

“As do you.”

He had a point. And I’d gotten drunk willingly. Damian had tried to slow me down.

“The lines are starting to fade. Do you see?” Arabus swiveled his head to inspect me. “As I thought. The tears are wearing off. It will be safe to take you home soon.”

Home. To a pissed off ghost and probably a million messages from Scott making sure I was okay. “Oh, crap. Scott. He’ll know, too.”

“He won’t put this together with you because he is a friend, and because he believes you’re human.”

“Aren’t I?”

“Only you can figure that out.”

I was too tired to think about his non-answer. I rested my head on the dragon’s neck, letting my eyes droop as we approached town. “Arabus?”

“Yes?”

“Why did you help me? You just met me.”

Arabus chuffed. “Unlike Damian, I am not so honest about my nature. But suffice it to say that dragons live for thousands of years, and our actions—even the small ones—are part of something too large to explain to shorter lived creatures.”

“Answers like that make me tired,” I sighed. My eyes closed and I drifted off to sleep.

© A.M. Schilling  2014. All Rights Reserved.

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Toxic

Toxic: Installments