The Dragon's Flight
“Don’t eat any candy while outside, you’ll get chocolate on your costume.”
He bobs his head, grinning toothily, and scampers off.
The houses are small and quiet. A couple of children dressed as zombies and ghosts skip down the other side of the street clutching vibrant baskets, and the occasional burst of laughter rings down the neighborhood. The lights along the houses outline a trail into the distance. He goes from house to house, ringing the doorbell, watching the shadows behind the door glide towards him until the door opens and a candy is deposited into his expectant hands.
The end of his street connects to a larger, more populated street. Reaching the point between worlds, he stops. He giggles to himself, and carefully unwraps a candy and devours it. In the long shadows of the overhanging trees with nothing but the chirping of crickets and the faint crinkle of wrappers, the fragile secret is burned into the grasses and skies watching him. He presses a finger to his lips, Shh! he demands the witnesses of his crime.
Too late. The night awakens. Bright! The fiery torches burn into his eyes. How did he not notice them before? Crickets chirp like the shrieking of broken violins. Toothy, wide ginning faces bore into him through the dark, cackling and flickering on their orange faces. A wild, inhumane scream breaks through the sky and sends his heart running. Candy wrappers spill from his overstuffed pockets and scatter across the road as his feet take off on their own. He knows the voice of that call, a call demanding that he bring it a sacrifice.
Might the Ruler have mercy! Would she be mad?
Quick; he sprints. A time limit is set on his game—now a quest. He scampers through thick spiderwebs and flashing lights, past headstones and hanging skeletons, stealing a single sweet from the lairs of each creature and escaping with his treasure gripped between his claws. Orcs and ghouls spring from the ground and jerk towards him; he ducks and keeps running.
His bag of loot grows heavier and his riches fill it in a glimmering, colorful, mound. He reaches the end of a few more streets, and finally deems his collection enough. His adventure must have turned him around at some point, because before him stands the lair to the Ruler.
He walks wearily to the door and it swings open. His pulse jumps, and if his skin was not already soaked in sweat then it certainly is now. The Ruler stares at him. In a moment of nervousness, his hands twist around his bag of treasures and he prays there is enough.
“Well, at least you didn’t stay out too late this time. You can count your candy tonight, but don’t eat more than ten, or you’ll get a cavity.” the Ruler says.
The Ruler is letting him keep his candy! He goes inside with crushing relief. The lair is soft and warm, even with thick spiderwebs on the ceiling and pumpkins in every corner. In the comfort of his nest, he snuggles into his favorite blanket and curls around his loot like a dragon in a cave, pushing at each candy and counting in whispered breaths, and slowly the darkness sinks behind his eyes.
She knew what happened the moment her son showed up on the porch an hour past his bedtime with brown chocolate smears down the front of his dragon costume. Neil never did have any self-control. She sighs heavily and pinches the bridge of her nose, and feels immeasurably grateful that the next day is Sunday; she would not have to wake him from his sugar-induced stupor for school. She picks up the blanketed, snoring lump and deposits it on the bed, flicking on the nightlight and off the room lights, before closing the door.
And behind that door, in the sanctuary of his shelter, a dragon sleeps over his treasure—the only treasure that can truly bring its scales and wings to life.