Eana was awakened harshly by Puffball doing a cannonball on her shoulder. She rubbed it while PrettyPaws chased him away. Eana groaned, pushed back the blankets, and dressed hurriedly. She shot one last smile at the kittens before she shut the door. Carlos was sitting in the living room reading the Sunday News.
“Can I go out for an hour or two?”
“Since when do I get a say in what you do?” Carlos smiled. “I am going to a golf match with a friend.”
“Golf?” Eana raised an eyebrow.
“I know you would rather fight with a club than hit a ball with one, but you are not playing the game.”
“Point taken.” Carlos tugged lightly on her hair when she turned to leave. “Hey!” she cried.
“Hay is for horses.” His smile deepened. “Would you pick up a book at the store for me? They should have it on the counter. Give them this.” Carlos handed her a ten dollar bill. “And get some new things for your backpack.”
“Yes, Sir!” Eana mock saluted. They walked out and headed separate ways.
After picking up the book for Carlos, Eana wandered around some more. She found nothing interesting and walked across the street to a hardware shop and bought thread, waterproof matches, and some dried fruit. She dumped her new objects in her bag and sat down by the curb.
All of the sudden a hand grabbed her shoulder and yanked her into an alley. Two members of the Rattlesnake Gang stood before her and another held onto her arm. The one hold her snatched her backpack and began looting through it. He came out her flute.
“Give it back!” she demanded. “It’s not yours!” She started forward with her fists raised, but he tossed her backpack to another member and twisted her arms behind her back. “Didn’t your mom ever teach you to keep your hands to yourself?” she scowled.
The remaining one in front of her grinned and cracked his knuckles. “Not again,” she sighed. As soon as he came within range, she kicked his shin; hard. She knocked the back of her head against the one pinning her arms, and he let go to hold his nose. She slammed a garbage can lid over his head and hurled it like a Frisbee at the others.
“Thanks for behaving like perfect gentlemen,” she spat as she took her bag back. “This is your last chance. If you try that again, I’ll come after you with my sabre.”
Late that evening, Eana snuck out of her bedroom toward the mudroom near the backyard. Light flooded through the kitchen window and Eana ducked until it was gone. She adjusted her backpack straps, her backpack felt heavier than normal, and evaluated her sabre, foil, and epee; a debate went on in her head.
The epee seemed more suitable then the foil or sabre, since it was not as flimsy, but the tip had, in place of a point, three prongs meant to snag clothing instead of penetrating the skin. The foil had a point only on the tip, and only then if she removed the protective covering. The sabre had a sharp tip and edge, more bendable then the epee, but sturdier then the foil. Eana chose the sabre.
Eana planned on finding the creature in the lake. If it was friendly, good, if not, she had her sword. If she defeated it, good, if not, she could always run. She had her backpack just in case. She sat on the dock, pulled out her flute, and played Dancer of Dreams while she waited.
A splash came from somewhere near the middle of the lake and she stopped. As it came closer, she tucked her flute into her backpack and stood, sword at ready. The hump slipped nearer and climbed onto the dock.
An alligator? No, they can’t live in
! This creature was a fleshy blue color, not scaly, and the snout was too short to be an alligator’s. It was smaller, or younger, than the pictures she had seen. It opened its mouth. Teeth definitely sharper than an alligator’s, she thought. Washington
The creature lunged forward and Eana dodged, but a long, thick tail caught her in the stomach, knocking her to ground. She blocked the slashing teeth with the flat of her blade, and turned it in a swipe, drawing a long line of black blood along its jaw. It screamed eerily and leaped at her, but she rolled under it, slicing into its belly as she did.
It turned and rushed forward again, and she leaped out of the way and stabbed at its tail. Suddenly, in one swift movement, it spun around and caught Eana’s sword in its jaws. To Eana, it felt like slow motion and they just stood there, staring at each other. Then the creature flexed and the sword broke in two.
Eana dropped the hilt and ran up the dock, cut across the backyard and sped into the woods nearby, frantically trying to recall all she knew about alligators and crocodiles. They’re just as fast on land as they are in water, she remembered. “Wonderful.” she said breathlessly and gritted her teeth. Zigzag, she thought. Maybe his tail will slow him down!
Indeed it did, and she heard a snapping sound as its momentum hefted its tail side to side in to tree trunks. The moon was full that night and the sky was cloudless, and every twig and leaf was visible. Eana ran quickly, but even running zigzag didn’t slow the creature enough. She tripped over a root and her shin snagged on an upright stick. Her hand went to it instinctively; it was just a small cut.
She pulled herself to her feet, but she was knocked to the ground as the creature hurled itself forward. She managed to roll out of its reach and stood, and it turned to her with its mouth open wide. She spun as it charged and knocked her elbow painfully against a tree trunk.
A bright light surrounded her and Eana remembered her dream.