Dragonfly

Things went immediately wrong. That was Adam’s first deduction. He had lost his way in a forest that, as far as he was concerned, was barely two miles wide. He was a twenty four year old man, with a not-too-poor sense of the direction, and he was lost. He would have called for help if it didn’t go against the very reason he was in the forest in the first place: he was running away.

At least, he was trying to. Previous evidence taken into account, Adam was failing spectacularly.

He did not expect that he would ever see another living creature again. He was mostly right, the way things appeared. When he did eventually find something that moved, it certainly wasn’t living, and it wasn’t a creature by any definition he understood. It was a dragonfly, and it was moving, but it could not have been alive.

Though its wings fluttered and its legs moved, it was not made from flesh. It did not have the translucent wings he had seen on other dragonflies. This dragonfly was made from metal, and engraved with jewels, and it was most certainly growing before his very eyes.

Adam was sure he had lost more than his way, and almost as soon as he had decided upon that, the dragonfly swept underneath his feet. It was definitely real, and he was definitely sitting on top of it. Rather than get squished into the ground, however, it just continued to grow. It stretched out ahead of him and behind him, raising him up off the soil and into the air, and that was all before it had even begun to beat its wings.

The dragonfly was at least five times as long as he was tall, and hollow though its wings were, they still lifted both man and metal off the ground, and up over the treetops.

He was definitely far from home. The forest ran as far as the horizon, in every direction he looked. It wasn’t until they had climbed high above the expanse of trees that he could see anything else around him. Even despite riding on the back of a giant, metal dragonfly, Adam still couldn’t believe that he was seeing a castle floating in the sky. It seemed to come out of nowhere – or it grew as the dragonfly had – but now it was a destination.

The dragonfly zipped towards it, bopping up and down and riding the wind through clouds and just over the trees, cutting up a gust of leaves and branches snapped loose by the metal wings. It flew with little regard for its passenger, whose stomach turned and twisted and became increasingly unsettled the longer he flew.

The castle drew closer – he was sure it was moving as well – and began to shine off bright lights of every colour imaginable. A rainbow lightshow filled the sky, and every time the dragonfly flew into one of the streams of light, Adam felt a strange warmth rush through his body. He felt his stomach settle for a moment, until they left the stream and his nausea returned.

He closed his eyes, afraid to look at the castle that shot out light, afraid to look down, clinging on to the metal dragonfly as tightly as he could. He didn’t even realise that the dragonfly had landed until his feet touched the ground. He found himself standing still before the castle keep, the dragonfly zipping about him, shrunk down to a couple of inches in length. It landed on his shoulder, and he walked towards the castle, and he was sure he was losing his mind. He thought he might have hit his head.

Those niggling doubts about his sanity did not stop him knocking on the front door to the castle. They did not stop him walking in when the door opened on its own accord. They did not stop him as he approached a throne at the far end of the room, and they did not stop him from sitting in the throne.

His doubts did not get in the way when he readjusted himself, to be more comfortable. His doubts did not stop him closing his eyes.

Adam felt calm and sure of himself, and began to wonder why he had even left home in such a hurry. As much as he now wanted to return, however, he couldn’t. He could not move from his seat, and he refused to open his eyes, and as music began to play all around him, he felt that he should not move, for fear of interrupting what sounded like an orchestra.

It took Adam ten minutes of sitting quietly to take a peek, and it made him feel both nervous and humble to see the musicians, all staring at him with broad smiles on their faces. They continued playing songs he had never heard before, and once again he closed his eyes. Adam felt welcome, and then he felt strange.

His doubts could not stop him finding the throne, and equally they could not stop him falling through the floor of the castle. They could not stop the cold wind whipping his face, and they could not stop his descent through clouds and rain and a storm like he’d only seen on television.

Thankfully, Adam had a bed, and it seemed sufficient enough to stop him. With a bounce.

He landed painfully on the floor of his bedroom, the chill leaving his body almost immediately. He scrambled to his feet as his mother opened the door, and when she told him that dinner was almost ready, he realised two things: she had not noticed he had even left, and he must have been dreaming.

He shook his head, laughing at himself as he washed his hands. A dream made sense. Of course it did. There was no way he would get lost.

Logic said he had been dreaming. But of course, the dragonfly on his shoulder said otherwise.

***

This story was written using the following photo as a prompt: http://writingpromptphotos.tumblr.com/post/78123812375/a-metal-dragonfly-photo-copyright-2013-paul

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About Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is a writer, born, raised and still living in Dublin. By day he's a student and bookseller, by night he writes fiction and uses social media.
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