The Jealousy of a Dragon

I can’t believe it. I’m actually posting a story on the first Friday of the month. *gasp* Let’s hope I can keep up with it. It’s one of my New Year’s Resolutions… Those typically don’t have much luck of being followed through on, but I hope with your accountability, I can do it. Thanks a ton for everything, guys!

Also, guess what? It’s another Venus story! Last month, you guys seemed to really enjoy “Venus,” the story about the college kid whose laundry money was being stolen by a mini dragon. So, I decided to write a sequel (hopefully one of many).

And this time… Drew embarrasses himself in front of a girl. It’s great. But also, poor guy.

You might want to read “Venus” first if you haven’t already, though you should be able to understand this story even without reading the previous one. Anyway, enjoy “The Jealousy of a Dragon”!


This is the best it’s gonna get.

Exhaling, I press the print icon. The printer hums to life, then spits out one sheet, another sheet, so many sheets of edited word vomit. Twenty pages about a planet I’ve never been to. Dozens of hours spent staring at a screen with bloodshot eyes, catching a few meager hours of sleep.

Sometimes I really hate college.

Something brushes against my leg, and I flinch. There’s a ghost. A rat. Something. I look underneath my chair to see a bunny-sized dragon, golden scales gleaming, expression unreadable.

“Venus!” I sputter. “What are you doing here?”

Yeah, I know, I named my mini dragon after my science paper. She looks like the planet, okay?

She flexes her claws, then scratches them against the metal leg of my chair with an awful screeching sound.

“Stop it! Someone’s gonna hear you!”

She looks up at me with wide, innocent eyes.

How did I get a mini dragon, you ask? I have no idea. She showed up under my bed and stole my laundry money. Now I’m stuck with her.

“Now is not the time for sharpening your claws, young lady.” Okay, I actually have no idea how old Venus is––she hasn’t gotten any bigger in the week I’ve had her––but I’m bigger, so I’m in charge. I think. “You’re going to wake people up!”

Her claws screech across the metal. Good thing she can’t actually damage the metal—oh wait, she’s making gouge marks. Just great.

“Venus, I swear, you need to—”

The door to the computer lab opens. Venus darts behind my leg. A girl walks in, her dark eyes landing on me. My mouth dries up. It’s Kitty McDowell, her shirt emblazoned with a dragon, her long dark hair in a low ponytail.

“Were you talking to me?” she asks.

“No,” I blurt. “I was, um, ranting about my paper. It’s about Venus, you know. It’s making me go crazy. If you can’t tell. Um.” Okay, I need to shut up now. Also to stop staring. Also to sleep.

“Oh, okay,” she says, a smile crinkling her round cheeks. Her eyes land on my cat-patterned pajama pants, and I flush. How was I supposed to know that someone else would be in the computer lab at 2:00 am? 

“Sorry,” I say, laughing even though there is no reason to laugh. It comes out squeaky and high pitched.

Kitty cocks her head. “Why are you apologizing?”

“I don’t know.” The awful, nervous sound keeps coming. Stop it, idiot!

She stares at me for a moment longer, her dark eyes huge behind her glasses, then slips into the chair next to me. I can’t think with her this close to me.

“I like your pants, Drew,” she says. “Um. Not just because of my name or anything. But, like, cats. They’re awesome. I love cats. I’m sorry. I’m rambling.”

“It’s fine,” I say, my face as hot as one of Venus’ flames. “I, uh, like your shirt too. ’Cause dragons. They’re awesome. Yeah.”

“Thanks,” she says, her perpetually-red cheeks glowing even brighter.

Venus’ newly sharpened claws dig into my pant leg, and I let out a yelp.

Kitty jerks toward me, a frown pulling her lips down. “Are you okay, Drew?”

“Yep!” I kick Venus, and she growls. “I’m fine! Just fine!”

“That’s good,” she says, laughing just as awkwardly as I did a few moments before.

Of all the times for Venus to sneak out, why does it have to be now?

As soon as Kitty’s eyes turn back to the computer screen, I glance down at my legs. Venus’ burnt orange eyes are in tiny slits. I shake my finger at her. She snorts a puff of smoke.

Great. Now Kitty’s going to think I’m smoking. Venus, I swear, when we get back to our room…

Oh, who am I kidding? I have zero control over this tiny animal.

Kitty wrinkles her nose. “What is that smell? Is something on fire?”

“Um, maybe.” I swallow hard. “It’s probably nothing to worry about.”

“But it could be a fire!” Kitty’s voice pitches high. “We should pull the fire alarm—”

“No! We don’t need to do that. Um.” Sometimes I think Venus came into my dorm room to ruin my life. Until now, she just stole my laundry money and my fancy watch, but she’s moved onto bigger and better thinks, a.k.a. ruining my social life––my love life. Not that I have one of those. But if I did have one, she’d be ruining it.

Kitty gets up. Her head whips around, slinging her ponytail from side to side. She yanks open the door, peering outside. I take the opportunity to glare down at Venus and hiss, “We’re going back to the dorm. Now.”

She preens her claws nonchalantly.

Huffing, I get up and grab the papers from the printer. How am I supposed to smuggle Venus out of the computer lab without Kitty noticing?

Kitty turns back to me, the door shutting behind her. “I don’t see anything. But I guess the smell was coming from in here. Maybe one of the computer wires is smoldering.” She kneels down.

I clench my teeth. If she looks over beneath my chair, she’ll see the mini dragon there.

Kitty crawls under her desk, peering at the wires. Breathing a sigh of relief, I scoop Venus up, who snorts a little too loudly. Swearing under my breath, I hold her behind my back in case Kitty can see me.

“Um, Kitty. I’m sorry,” I blurt. “I have to go. I need sleep. Lots of it.” Venus squirms behind my back, her claws digging into my hands. I bite back swears.

“Oh… but what about the fire?” Kitty asks, starting to crawl out from underneath the desk.

“I’m sure it’s fine. Um. Goodnight.” I turn around and clutch Venus to my chest, tripping over my feet out the door, wincing at each prick of Venus’ claws. Only when the door has shut behind me do I glare down at my mini dragon.

“Look what you made me do!” I hiss. “You completely embarrassed me in front of her! Now she’s going to hate me!”

I swear this dragon is smirking at me.

I narrow my eyes. “Did you do this on purpose?”

She stretches her neck languorously, like nothing just happened.

I scowl. “Are you jealous?”

There’s that innocent expression again.

“I can’t believe it,” I say. “I didn’t know you even cared about me, you little demon.”

Her eyes narrow. Oops. Probably shouldn’t have insulted her.

“Um. I meant that in a loving way.”

“Drew?”

I almost drop Venus, then whirl around, gripping her behind my back again. Kitty approaches me cautiously, my twenty-page paper clutched in her long-fingered hands. Venus claws her way onto my back, and I yelp, pain digging lines into my face. “Oh! Sorry,” I say quickly. “You, uh, scared me.”

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to. You just, um, forgot your paper. That’s all.” Kitty looks at the floor.

Biting my lip, I take the paper. She pulls her hand back quickly, clasping her fingers together. Her chipping nails are painted in lots of different shades, black and green and yellow.

I should apologize, but how can I? I can’t explain why I had to run away. No one can know about Venus, not even Kitty with her dragon shirt. Only Matt, my roommate, and I can know about my mini dragon.

Of course, I wouldn’t even have this dilemma if Venus hadn’t followed me to the computer lab in the first place.

My voice is strained. “So, was there a fire?”

Eyes still on the floor, Kitty shakes her head. “Have a good night, Drew,” she says, then turns to leave.

“Wait—”

But she’s already gone. 

“This is your fault!” Now Kitty thinks I hate her, which is definitely not true, but I can’t explain what happened, and I don’t know how to fix this. Stupid dragon.

Venus crawls up onto my shoulder, and I wince wherever her claws poke me. As soon as her snout is in reach, I flick it. Her jaws snap, almost closing around my finger. Oops.

“You can’t just follow me wherever, okay?”

She flicks her tail, whacking me in the head.

“Ow!” I hurry down the stairs. “That wasn’t nice.”

She grunts.

“Look, Venus. Your place is in our dorm. That’s it. Like, the rooms that Matt and I share. Under my bed is your domain. Not this whole hall.”

She curls into a ball on my shoulder. It’s hard to be mad when she’s this cute.

“People can’t see you, okay? No matter what.” I open the door, creeping into the dark room. My head spins. I really do need sleep. Kneeling down, I let Venus crawl off my shoulder. She peers at me with smoldering eyes.

“I don’t want people to hurt you,” I say softly.

She nuzzles my hand, her scaly snout warm and smooth.

“But also, you can’t keep taking risks. Also, you can’t embarrass me like that.”

Venus just blinks at me.

As she disappears into the darkness underneath my bed where her coin pile awaits, complete with my watch, my stomach sinks. I don’t think she’s going to listen to me. And if she’s willing to follow me to the computer lab… what if she starts following me other places? What if she follows me to class?

No, she wouldn’t. I won’t let her. I’d stop her.

I hope.


What did you think of my Venus sequel? Trust me, I’m planning many more. There are many more adventures Drew and Venus can have together—ahem, many more ways Venus can cause trouble for Drew.

By the way, if you didn’t get a chance to read my stories “Stealer of Secrets,” “Skinthief,” or “Walls,” Havok is opening the Season Two stories to the public for the weekend! (For those who don’t know, the Havok stories are typically only available on the day they’re published unless you’re a Havok member, but this weekend is special since they’re about to choose their anthology stories.) It’ll be open from 6 pm CST tonight (Friday) to 10 pm CST Sunday.

I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave a comment on there (and/or vote if you have a membership). The highest-rated stories could get into their seasonal anthology! “Stealer of Secrets” and “Skinthief” are currently some of the highest-ranked stories for this season, which is such an honor. I really appreciate everyone who’s supported me!

I hope you’re enjoying your new year, friends!

Highlights from 2019

2019 was a good year. Relationships were restored (praise the Lord!), I earned my degree and made awesome friends at my new church, and my writing life changed and grew. Now, I could elaborate for a while about all the wonderful things that happened, but for the purposes of this post, I’ll just talk about writing highlights. I’m really happy with where my writing went this year, and I wanted to celebrate with you guys!

Highlight 1: Prompted

I started this blog. That’s pretty important. It took me a while to actually get around to doing it, but I finally did in early August! And that’s all because of another important thing––I started using writing prompts for short stories.

Now, this may not seem like that big of a deal to you, but bear in mind that before January of this year, I had almost exclusively written novels. I just was never able to come up with ideas small enough for a short story. But that changed.

I decided to start utilizing writing prompts in my writing life. I’d saved so many of them on Pinterest, and one of my best friends ran Rooftop Writing Prompts, but I had never used a prompt. So, at the beginning of this year, I decided to try to use a writing prompt a week to stimulate my creativity.

I knew I couldn’t do this alone, though, so I asked someone to keep me accountable––my prompt buddy, Laura. We decided to write a prompted every week (which did not happen, but it’s the thought that counts, right?), and as we did, I realized that I really loved these stories and wanted to share them with the world.

I knew I needed some sort of platform like a blog, but I’d never known what to post on it before. But now I had lots of stories that I could use!

Thus, Prompted was born, and here we are now.

Highlight 2: Realm Makers

I attended an incredible writing conference called Realm Makers, which is for Christian speculative fiction writers––a.k.a. all the nerds. It was my second time attending and, as expected, was one of my absolute favorite weekends of the year.

I met some amazing writer friends, the most notable being Shaina Frantz and Hannah Robinson. (Unfortunately, my picture with Hannah is blurry, but at least we got one together!)

Plus, I was able to dress up as Yzma from Emperor’s New Groove at a fancy dinner. What’s better than that?!

This is Christine. I did not know Christine. Christine did not know me. But when we both dressed up as characters from Emperor’s New Groove for the banquet at Realm Makers, we knew our friendship was meant to be.

During the conference, I had a mentor appointment with Gen Gavel, who gave me advice on marketing, social media, and blogging, which were areas that I had previously been clueless about. My Instagram especially would not be what it is now if not for her. So, Gen, I am so grateful for you.

My other mentor appointment was equally important. I met with Janeen Ippolito. Initially, I’d wanted to talk to her about marketing, but since I was talking with Gen about that, I decided to ask Janeen about world-building and plot, which were some of her specialties. Because of her, I realized that I was trying to do too much with my unnamed novel, and I altered the story in such a way that it is less complicated and more powerful. Thank you, Janeen, for your much-needed advice.

Plus, I got to see some of my best friends, such as Gabrielle Pollack and Rolena Hatfield, both amazing writers and people. So, all in all, I’d say it was a pretty amazing conference.

Two of my dearest friends. I miss them a lot.

Highlight 3: Prompted Contests

I hadn’t planned to do any contests until I was well-established on my blog. But then, when I launched my blog, I decided to try an Instagram prompt contest in which I posted a prompt and people responded with a flash fiction story. It went over so well that I decided to do it every month. I even added a Facebook contest, though those didn’t go over as well. If you haven’t seen my contests, here’s a link to the latest winners.

Now, next year I’m going to cut back; the plan is to only do contests every other month. It’s hard to run contests and choose winners every month! I also plan to discontinue the Facebook contests because they weren’t getting enough participants to be worth it. Still, I’m so happy with the creativity my contests have spurred, and I’m so grateful to all the participants! You guys are what make my contests fun, so thank you.

Highlight 4: Short Story Publication

My writing was published in several different venues this year, which was very exciting!

Story Embers

I received second place in a short story contest! *throws confetti and drinks sparkling grape juice* I really love Story Embers, so being chosen as one of the winners of their contest was incredible! They’re a fantastic website. I’d highly recommend checking out their resources if you’re a Christian writer.

The story is called “The Will of the Sky.” It’s about a man about to become the elder of his tribe who has to decide whether or not to restore the honor of his son. I really enjoyed writing this one and was so happy to see it published.

Havok

I was published with Havok Publishing, a website that posts flash fiction daily, three times this year. Unfortunately, since the stories were published on days long gone, you can only see the stories if you’re a Havok member. That’s just the way the website works. But if you have a membership (or are planning to get a membership, which is super cheap, by the way), the stories were “Stealer of Secrets,” “Skinthief,” and “Walls.” They’re all based on songs, as that was the season theme.

101 Words

This website is exactly what it claims; it publishes short stories that are exactly 101 words. That’s a difficult challenge, by the way. It makes you use every word well.

My short stories “Ache” and “Welcome” were published on this site. “Ache” was a big deal because it was the first short story I’d had published on a different platform. Unfortunately, though, “Welcome” was often misinterpreted. It was based on a true story. During my freshman year of college, I came home for Christmas break to discover that my cat had passed away a week before. My parents just hadn’t told me because I was taking finals. Some readers thought this story was supposed to be malicious, but really, it helped me process my grief. That’s the thing about flash fiction; you have fewer words, which means it’s easier for people to misunderstand you. Usually I’m okay with being misunderstood, but in this case, I wanted to clarify that the mom did not kill the dog. Here is an Instagram post explaining more about the story behind the story.

Highlight 5: Shards

I completed a novella this year. Now, a novella is not as long as a novel, so that may seem like a lesser accomplishment, but I’ve always been long-winded, so the fact that I completed something under 100,000 words was a surprise to me. (This was before I really started getting into short stories, by the way.) Shards was published on Journey Online, an online ministry platform that I interned with during my final year of college.

Shards was one of the first non-fantasy stories I’d ever completed. Plus, I consider the spiritual journey and arc to be relatively not preachy, which is difficult to do. Lastly, Shards was the first story I’d written (besides short stories) that fully focused on one character. That may sound simple, but I’d always written stories with many main characters. It was fun, but I always had trouble focusing on one journey, and my stories suffered for over-complication and lack of focus. With Shards, I focused on Elisabel’s story, even though I could have added other points of view, and it really helped me understand plot and character arcs. I’m so grateful for the experience of writing Shards, particularly since they are on a website that could help people see who God is.

Highlight 6: NaNoWriMo

I won NaNoWriMo for the first time! That is a huge deal! If you don’t know, NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50,000 words in a month. Crazy, right?! Some of you may know that when I started the month, I said I would be aiming for 20,000. But the words kept coming, and before I knew it, I’d reached 50,000 words.

It was an exhausting but rewarding month. I look forward to next November.

On to 2020!

Next year, I plan to finish my untitled novel. I’d hoped to do so this year, but it ended up taking longer than I expected. Still, I’m almost there, so if I can just push through and resist the urge to tear the draft apart (which is very strong right now, by the way), then I’ll be able to do it. I then plan to write a draft of a different novel, one that some of you may know––it’s called Exotic.

As for this blog, I also plan to post a story every month, preferably on the first Friday of every month. I will be more diligent this year. That means there will be a new story on January 3rd.

2019 was a good year for me. However, I’m aware that it wasn’t for everyone. If that’s the case for you, my heart and my prayers go out to you, and I hope next year is better.

I can’t wait to see what God does in my life and in the lives of the people around me next year. Here’s to 2020!

Christmas Contest Winners

Who’s ready for Christmas?! I know I am!

This month, I decided to use a Christmas-themed writing prompt because why not? Here is the prompt:

This prompt does not belong to me. I have been given permission to use it by Gabrielle Pollack, creator of Rooftop Writing Prompts.

If you like writing prompts, you should definitely check out Rooftop Writing Prompts because they are fun and fantastic. I plan to use more in the future.

Here are the links to the varying contest posts, one on Instagram and one on Facebook. There were so many amazing entries, and Laura, my fellow judge, and I had a difficult time choosing.

Winners

Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for… who won?!

Instagram Winner

There she is.

Brown hair in two plaits, a springing step, sparkling green eyes. She flits closer. . . closer. . . My hand shoots out and grabs her arm, jerking her to me.

She gasps. “Jack!”

I clap my hand over her mouth. “Hush!”

“You shouldn’t be here. Papa will kill you if he–”

I’m not listening. My heart crackles as it thumps, growing warmer by the second. I shouldn’t kiss her. But my body has a mind of its own, and before I can contemplate it, my lips cover hers. Her mouth burns mine, my body thawing as I pull her closer. I’m melting, helpless to resist the fire of her heart.

Finally, when I’m certain I will turn into nothing but a puddle if I hold her for one moment more, she pulls back. Her lips are purple, tinged with pale blue. They fade back to red as she catches her breath.

“Jack, we can’t–”

“I love you.”

The words tumble from my mouth, shattering like icicles on the stones at my feet. No Frost has ever dared speak that word to a Claus. But the minute that I saw Holly, I knew we were meant to change the past. The feud ends here, if only I can get her to believe me.

“Jack.” My name trembles on her lips. Her fingers warm my own. I shiver.

“I don’t care what they say.” I lean closer, my breath leaving snowflakes glistening on her hair. “Forget the rivalry. Forget Christmas. Forget everything. Just tell me what you feel.”

She bites her lip. Her breath catches, a tear freezing on her cheek. “I love you too.” I hold her again, savoring her warmth. Some cold foreboding clutches my thawing heart. But her touch melts it. 

I have her now. Everything will be ok.

~ Marit Edwards-Ronning

What a beautifully written story by Marit Edwards-Ronning (@farmgirl4him). If you haven’t read Marit’s writing before, you need to. I’ve had the privilege of watching her grow as a writer, and she certainly is good at writing tear-jerkers. Laura and I loved the forbidden romance she wrote we’re both hopeless romantics. The element of how they’re kept apart because they might harm each other Jack might freeze Holly, and Holly might melt Jack was heartbreaking. They’re together, at least for now… but what if this is only temporary?! I guess we’ll never know.

Facebook Winner

Jack dove into a snowbank and waited for Chris Kringle’s guards to pass. He hoped the blizzard he’d used would erase any tracks. Eventually, he crawled out and looked around.

He froze as he saw a hand sticking out of a snow pile. Rushing forward, he pulled Eve free of the snow and into his lap. Her lips were blue, and when he put his ear to her chest, he couldn’t hear anything.

“Eve … I’m so sorry. I’m so … If I hadn’t … if I’d thought …”

Sobs choked out his attempted apology. Opening his eyes, he noticed that the vial of summer Queen Titania had given him had fallen from his pocket. It was practically full.

Picking it up, he looked down and whispered, “Don’t worry, Eve. I’m coming.”

He swallowed the vial’s contents. Steam immediately billowed from him like cumulus clouds while a bonfire roiled within his belly. He held Eve to his chest. It was all his fault, but he’d fix it. They’d finally be together. Nothing would separate them now.

“Jack?”

“Eve?!” he choked. Looking down, he saw her eyes open and widening.

“Jack, what’s happening?”

Tears fell from Jack’s eyes as he laid his hand against Eve’s face. “I swallowed the sun to go to you,” he said. Bending down, he touched his lips to hers and smiled. “I’m glad I got to do that at least once.”

Then Jack Frost became a cloud of steam.

“JACK!” Eve screamed. She fell forward to where he had been holding her only moments ago. Against her hand, she felt something cold. Lifting it up, she saw that it was Jack’s paint.

“If you can swallow the sun, I will swallow frost. Wait for me, Jack.”

And Eve Kringle became a statue of ice.

~ Ariel Jackson

*cue sobbing* This was a beautiful, upsetting entry. Ariel Jackson did an amazing job retelling Romeo and Juliet with Jack Frost and Eve Kringle, creating vivid characters, a doomed love, and strong emotions. Swallowing the sun?! Wow. Never would have thought of that. My heart breaks for the two characters. As always, Ariel, I love your writing, as does Laura.

Changes to the Contests

Due to low participation rates and the difficulty of the medium, I have decided to discontinue my Facebook prompt contests. From now on until I decide otherwise, all my prompt contests will take place on Instagram only. My apologies for any convenience that may cause you! Because of that, there will now be only one winner per prompt again. 

I have also decided that having prompt contests every single month is a bit too stressful for me. They’re fun, most certainly, but they can be a lot of work to prepare and announce and judge. So, next year, I will hold bimonthly contests during the even months. The next contest will take place in February, though I haven’t decided the exact dates yet. (It will most likely be romance-themed because of Valentine’s Day.) I plan to do three-prompt contests each month, however, instead of one-prompt contests, so I hope that makes up for things.

It’s been a fun year, friends. I’m so grateful to each and every person who participated in my prompt contests. I couldn’t run something like this without you. And I’m also incredibly grateful for Shaina Frantz and Laura Hammer, my two judges. You guys made my job so much easier.

There won’t be a prompt contest this January, but I am helping judge the Writer Games, a month-long flash fiction contest. See this post for more details. You guys should totally participate!

Also, watch out for a new post at the end of this month detailing my writing accomplishments of the year! As always, I’m so grateful for the support you’ve given me and the ways you’ve helped me grow. You guys are the best.

Have a merry Christmas! God bless you all!

Venus

This picture does not belong to me. I found it on Pinterest.

I toss the last sock into my laundry basket and turn back to my unmade bed, where four shiny quarters should be sitting. They’re not.

Frowning, I look under the rumpled sheets. Under my pillow. On the floor.

I swear I put quarters there two minutes ago.

“Hey, Matt?” I say. “You got any quarters?”

“I gotta do laundry tomorrow.” My roommate shoves a slice of pizza in his mouth. It’s cold by now, but they don’t allow microwaves in the dorm. “Get your own quarters, Drew.”

That’s the thing. I had quarters. Lots of them. But every time I turn around, they vanish.

At least it’s not my keys, I guess. But if I want to avoid smelling like an armpit, I need some quarters. Now.

“Look, man, I just need four. I’ll pay you back––”

“Like you’ll pay me back for all the other quarters?”

I guess I could ask my Resident Assistant, Nick, but seriously. This is stupid. And it hasn’t just been quarters; it’s been any coin I lay out. I look away and bam, they’re gone. “I swear I had them. They were just on my bed.”

“I dunno, man. I think it’s that Venus paper.” Matt finishes the slice with a loud smacking of his sauce-covered lips. “It’s frying your brain.”

He’s not wrong. For the past two weeks, every thought that has gone through my head––unfortunately for my other professors and my social life––is about the hottest planet in our solar system.

Note to self: college sucks.

Matt disappears into his room, probably to play whatever video game he’s obsessed with at the moment. I’m on my own.

I glance at my laundry basket, then at the bed. Okay, this has to stop. I’m gonna find where all this change is going, or so help me, I’ll go naked.

I scour our dorm room––my room, our kitchenette, even the bathroom. Just lots of laundry––now only Matt’s––strewn across the floor, food trash on the couch, pieces of former homework balled up in corners. No coins.

My bed. I didn’t look under my bed.

Let me rephrase that––I never look under my bed. Who knows what kind of crap is there?

Gritting my teeth, I kneel down, my knees aching––I swear I’m eighteen, not fifty––and peer into the blackness. Mostly dust, so it’s better than I thought, but there, gleaming in the dull light, is a pile of coins––and on top of it is a creature.

And when I say a creature, I mean a dragon. A tiny, bunny-sized dragon with golden scales and burnt orange eyes giving me the fiercest glare I have ever seen.

I scramble backward and rub my eyes. It’s that stupid paper. I knew it was going to be the death of me. It’s making me hallucinate that there’s a dragon the color of Venus’ surface sitting under my bed.

I stick my head under again. Underneath its tiny claws are all my missing quarters––and the other change too.

“So you’re the thief,” I hiss. Maybe if I touch it, I’ll find out it’s fake…?

The dragon snorts a tiny orange flame, and I bang my head on the bedframe. Right. Dragons breathe fire in all the stories. Better not get my hand close to that little demon.

Muttering swears, I scowl at the creature. It really does look like Venus, all molten gold and fury. “I need my quarters. Now.”

“Drew?”

I smack my head on the bedframe again. Rubbing my head, I crawl out from underneath the bed.

Matt’s wearing space-themed pajama pants dotted with stars and planets––yep, there’s good old Venus. I literally can’t get away from it.

“What’re you doing?”

“Looking for the quarters.” My voice cracks like a preteen’s.

He takes a sip of soda. “Just buy something with cash tomorrow and get some change for it.”

I stay on the ground. “I don’t have cash. I’m a broke college student.”

“Sucks to be you, man.” He shakes his head. “Look, if you want a break from your paper, you can game with me.”

“Just give me a minute.” I’ll straighten things out with this thieving dragon, and then I’ll electronically destroy my roommate.

“Whatever.” Matt disappears again.

I crawl back toward the bed. The dragon is still there. Maybe I should’ve asked Matt to take a look and confirm that I’m not crazy.

It’s kinda cool, though, hallucination or not. Its wings press tightly against its body, making it look like a golden lizard. Is it a boy or girl dragon? And does that really matter? I dunno, but its movements seem kinda feminine to me. Let’s just say it’s a female.

“Look, Venus,” I say. “You like shiny stuff? You want shiny?” I take off my watch. Mom and Dad gave it to me for my eighteenth birthday. Probably cost them a hundred bucks. But I need my quarters.

Venus’ nostrils flare. Her gaze flicks from the watch to me, then to the coins beneath her, then to the watch.

I set the watch on the floor near the edge of the bed, far enough away that she won’t attack me. I hope. “Go get the watch.”

Her orange eyes narrow. I hold my breath. Then she darts toward the watch. I reach out and snatch a handful of coins. She lets out a high-pitched roar and rushes back to her hoard, dragging her new prize.

My chest heaves up and down. For a second, I thought she’d attack me. But she just sits back on top of her pile of coins, now complete with my fancy watch.

“Holy crap, Drew, what are you doing?”

Third time. I hate this stupid bedframe. Gritting my teeth to hold back swears, I come out from underneath the bed.

“Found the quarters,” I say weakly, holding out my hand.

Wait. I only have three. I glare under the bed. Her orange eyes gleam back.

 “Is there something down there? Is there food? Do we have mold again?” Groaning, Matt drops to his knees next to me.

My eyes widen. “Wait––”

But he’s already looking under the bed. I know the exact second he saw Venus because he lets out an ear-splitting scream and bangs his head on the bedframe.

“Would you shut up? You want Nick to fine us?”

“Th-there’s a dragon,” Matt sputters.

“Yes. The coin thief. Her name is Venus. She took my quarters.” I slant an irritated glance in her direction.

“You named it?” His mouth gapes. “Or––don’t tell me––it talks?”

“No, no!” I grab Matt’s arm to keep him from running out of the room. “You can’t tell anyone.”

“Dude, there’s a––”

“I know. But…” I don’t even know why I’m hesitating. The thing took all my coins. “We’re not allowed to have pets in the dorms. They’ll freak out.”

His eyes bulge. “You’re saying this is your pet?”

“No! Er… maybe.” I mean, aside from coin stealing, dragons are pretty awesome. And this is sort of the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me. I mean, why am I the one who ended up with a mini dragon underneath my bed? Fate must think I’m a pretty great guy. Either that or it’s trying to get me kicked out of college.

“You have a mythical creature as a pet?”

“Um. Yes.” I guess. Maybe Venus is my pet now. Crap, how am I supposed to hide a dragon from my RA?

“And it steals your coins?”

“Yes.”

“And you named it after your paper?”

“Yes.”

Matt snorts. “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“Don’t judge my life choices!” I peek back under and try to convince myself that she’s softening toward me. She breathes out a tiny spark. “I gave her my watch.”

“You what?” Matt groans. “Your parents will freak, Drew.”

“Yeah, but I needed my quarters back.” Okay, yeah, I guess I could’ve sold the watch and gotten a ton of quarters, but it’s too late now.

“If she’s your dragon, why won’t she listen to you?”

Um… “Because dragons are hard to train.”

“If you have had a dragon all this time, why have I never known about it?” His voice is rising. People are gonna hear him.

“Sh! I just… uh… didn’t think it was the right time to say. We’ve been roommates for what, a semester?”

“Shut it, man.” Matt levels me with a stare. “You’re lying. You just found the dragon today.”

“Uh…”

“You can’t keep it.”

“But I named her!”

“Your fault.”

“But…” Okay, maybe I feel a tiny connection to this mini dragon. After all, she’s Venus. If she’s Venus, then I pretty much know her inside and out. “I need to at least free her, then.”

“No. I’m reporting it.”

“Wait! Please!”

Venus crawls out from underneath the bed, gripping a coin in her tiny claw. Both Matt and I skitter backward. Flame-bright eyes study us. Then she pushes a quarter forward.

My mouth gapes. Maybe it’s a trick to make me reach out so she can burn me.

Matt grabs the quarter instead. Venus snorts a trail of smoke. I try to pry his fingers open. “Hey! Gimme that!”

“You weren’t gonna take it!”

We wrestle, grunting and muttering swears, until we hear another high-pitched roar. I turn back toward Venus. I swear she is glaring at us like we’re naughty little children, like she had expected the coin to make us stop fighting.

“Hey,” I say. “I think that was a peace offering.”

“A what?” Matt rolls his eyes. “You’re an idiot. It’s a dragon.”

She spurts a flame that singes our carpet. Swearing, I watch the fire start to grow. Nick is gonna kill us. No, first he’ll give us a massive fine, and then he’ll kill us.

Matt lurches for the sink, turning on the faucet. Oh, yes. Water is helpful.

Venus sits on the fire, snuffing it out. We stare at her open-mouthed.

“I think that was a threat,” I say.

Matt just nods.

“Guess we’ve got a dragon now,” I say.

Venus lets out a purring sort of noise and shifts her body on the singed carpet.

“They always say college is weird, but not this weird,” Matt says.

I reach my hand out toward Venus––tentatively. She eyes it distastefully, then reaches her snout out. Her nostrils flare, but she doesn’t spurt fire on me. Instead, she sniffs me.

“Are you crazy?” Matt hisses.

Maybe so. She sniffs again, then rubs her nose against my hand, metal against flesh. Or at least, I think it’s some sort of metallic substance, but I’m not exactly an expert on dragons. Not yet, at least.

I would look over to see Matt’s reaction, but I’m mesmerized by this tiny dragon who I am becoming fonder and fonder of by the minute, despite her thieving ways and her threats. “Hey, Venus,” I say. “Good dragon. Nice dragon.”

She pulls her nose away and gives me a look of pure disdain.

I swallow. “Sorry. Uh… most esteemed Venus. We shall grant you shelter in our humble abode––”

“Why are you talking like that?” Matt says.

“––with one condition. You shall not, uh, thieve from us.”

“You mean steal?”

“I’m trying to be fancy here.” I meet Venus’ burnt-orange eyes. “Please don’t steal from us. I need quarters for my laundry. Also ’cause I’m broke.”

She lets out a world-weary sigh and then disappears back under the bed. Is she irritated? Does she even understand what I’m saying? She’s been acting like she has.

Matt lets out a low whistle. “This is the weirdest––”

Venus reappears and tosses another quarter at me. This time, I snatch it before Matt can. “Thanks,” I say. “Uh… can I have the rest of my money back?”

Her eyes narrow.

“That’s a no, then. Okay.” I let the quarter join the other three I’d managed to snag. At least I can do my laundry. “Can I have my watch back?”

With her mouth open and teeth bared, I can see the flame growing at the back of her throat.

“Okay. Nope.” Mom and Dad will just have to think I lost it. They’ll freak, but I’m not risking the fury of my dragon. “Uh. Nice doing business with you.”

Venus preens her wing, looking all royal and fancy, like she knows she’s the queen of this dorm, then goes back under my bed.

I close my hand around the quarters. Guess I’ve gotta keep better track of my change.

“Did this actually just happen?” Matt says.

“Yeah.” I stand on wobbly legs and grab my basket. “I think it did.”

Having coins for laundry is one thing. Hiding a dragon from my RA is another.

But hey, I heard one of the guys on the other floors hid a guinea pig for a year. So it can be done.

Challenge accepted.


I hope you enjoyed this fun little story. When I looked at that prompt, two thoughts went through my head. One thought was, “Heck yes! Mini dragons!” The other was, “How can I make the lack of spare change something important? Who needs spare change?” And then I realized… college kids need spare change.

Fortunately, my college didn’t require payment for laundry. (They just added the estimated cost to my school bill. Yay.) But I can imagine how frustrating it would be if you needed to do laundry when you didn’t have any quarters. Hence, Drew was born.

I my end up writing more about Drew and Matt’s struggles to hide Venus from their RA Nick and the college administration. Maybe Venus will escape from the dorm room one day and cause havoc. Who knows.

Want to see a different interpretation of the same prompt? Check out my friend Laura’s story here.

Also, my apologies for waiting so long to post another story! But during the new year, I’m going to try to stick to a regular posting schedule, which should still be the first Friday of every month. Thanks for sticking with me despite my lack of predictability!

So, what about you? Does this prompt inspire you to create something? Let me know in the comments!

One-Prompt Contest Winners

This month is NaNoWriMo, which means that I, like many other writers out there, am attempting 50,000 words in one month. Crazy, right?

I’m at 27,000 words currently. It’s been exhausting and stressful, contributing to a lot of late nights, but seeing the progress on my WIP and feeling the thrill of accomplishing so much has made it worth it for me.

However, it meant that I didn’t want to do a full prompt contest this month. Not only did I figure that most of you wouldn’t be contributing much, but also I didn’t have the energy or time for it. Instead, after receiving some feedback from you, I decided to hold a one-prompt contest.

The Prompt

This picture is from Pinterest. It does not belong to me.

The contest was supposed to be in celebration of my short story “Skinthief” being published on Havok. But due to some scheduling complications, I had to hold the contest after the story was already published. This was a problem because Havok only keeps a story available to the public for 24 hours; otherwise, you have to be a member to read it. So, if you want to read it, you’ll have to become a Havok member (which is really cheap, by the way, but I totally understand if not).

Now onto the contest itself! The word limit this time was 150 words (I just can’t help lengthening the word limit! We’ll see what the next one will be!).

I want to give a big thanks to everyone who participated. I loved reading all the creativity, and I wish I could choose more than one winner, but I can’t. (Unless you count the separate Facebook and Instagram winners.) So here are the winners!

Instagram Winner

It was his trademark. Green eyes, scrawled onto any crime scene where he rescued someone.

I had heard that there’s one thing in their appearance a shifter can’t change, and when they lose themselves, they hold tightly to that last vestige of their identity.

I remembered those green eyes. In a family of blues, there he was, screaming out his first breath into a world that didn’t deserve him.

When he was five, those green eyes were terrified when he accidentally shifted for the first time.

Those green eyes were solemn as they took him away to the war. The last time I saw him.

Until now.

I stare across the alley at him, removing my ski mask. “I know who you are, David.”

He freezes at the name he barely recognizes. “How… How do you know?”

I smile. “I’m your mother.”

~ Carrie-Anne Noble

Carrie-Anne Thomas (@carrie_anne.thomas) wrote a beautiful story told not from the perspective of the one suffering from this amnesia but from the perspective of his mother, and I loved it. I hope that she and her son stay reunited and that he can regain his memories.

Facebook Winner

Hands.

My hands.

They’re mine, move when I tell them to—but unfamiliar.

Everything is unfamiliar. The dark alley. The sounds of receding feet and approaching sirens.

From someone else’s blood on my hands, I think I won whatever fight just happened. From the dull ache to the right side of my head, I know I also lost.

Lost everything.

I try grounding myself in something solid. Like my body.

I stand, catch a glimpse of my face in the only whole pane of a broken window. Young, black, five o’clock shadow. Is this me?

Wallet. ID.

Yup. That’s me. Sean something. Still doesn’t seem familiar.

Spasms seize me. I double over in pain that sparks and stings.

When it passes, I see my reflection again. This time panic strikes.

It’s not the same face. It’s pale-skinned, red-haired, terrified.

No more familiar than the other.

Who—and what—am I?

~ Abigail Falanga

Abigail Falanga‘s story was so immediate and gripping, full of panic and terror. I loved the details she included that immersed us in his struggle, as well as the idea of how he couldn’t stop the painful shifting from one form to the next. It was so unique and upsetting.

What’s Coming?

I apologize sincerely for my lack of consistency in posting. From starting two new jobs to NaNo, I’ve been very busy. However, I will be posting a story for December. I will make sure of it. It is being edited right now.

So . . . watch out for a story about a boy whose laundry money is being stolen by a mini dragon. 😉