If this had been a movie, there would have been a camera focus on the girl, a moment when out of courtesy for the death scene the Dragon would fail to lunge at me again, staying still so we could share our words of dialogue, our final farewells.

Life comes at you fast.  I heard the crunch as Doloise and Nellie both hurt each other, and I think I went crazy for a moment.  I don’t remember if I was punching or slapping Nellie’s draconian face, I just know I went in and started yelling and hitting.

“You stupid stupid Dragon!  I didn’t want a fight!  I just wanted my fairy back!  You stupid selfish mythological creature!  You fairytale monstrosity!”  I was just ranting.  I don’t remember exactly what I said, only that there were a lot of exclamation points, a lot of shouting, and no crying.  I was too bleepin’ mad to cry, and it was a roar inside me that was getting out through words.  I remember saying, “Stupid,” a lot, though.  I know I was swearing.

Something about Doloise was paining Nellie, and the Dragon thrashed, and roared, and when she lifted up her head to try to spit the Realm out, I just went in deeper, and now I was punching at the Dragon’s neck and belly and my knuckles were bleeding, and I didn’t feel them, I didn’t feel anything but the rushing in my head and ears and the absolute fury that I didn’t even know I had inside me.

Lots of philosophers have said that it’s how you act in moments like these that show you your true self.  A lot of smart philosophers have had moments like these.  Well, actually, I really don’t think a lot of them have faced off bare-handed against a Dragon after their friends had been bitten by said Dragon, but maybe in a metaphorical sense.  We all have our crosses to bear, our Twinkies of psychokinetic energy, our Dragons to face, and while maybe not all of them are 35 feet long and 9 feet high (just an estimate) they’re still our personal obstacles and while some of us prefer to slink around them, some of us take out our swords (or fists, or unlicensed nuclear accelerators) to slay them.  

That’s actually one of the reasons I’m a gamer; I want to put myself (or the characters I make) into that wringer to better know what and who I am (or they are) under more simulated pressure, yes, but before real life takes a swing at me.

Doloise wasn’t screaming.  She hadn’t made a noise.

The bleepin’ Dragon hurt her so much that my fairy, my friend didn’t get to make a noise.  Not even a last defiant squeak!

I think I was screaming at this point, and kicking at the Dragon’s talons.  I ducked as the Dragon brought her head swinging back down, trying to dislodge Doloise from her mouth.

Actually, if I’d seen it in a movie it would have almost been comedic.  It would have been the biting of something too hot to handle, and there would be steam coming out of the Dragon’s ears, and tears welling in her blue eyes.  She was scrabbling with her claws and I backed away, tripping over Artur and then I think I squeaked and levitated for a moment as Artur winked at me, and I scrabbled backwards until I knocked my own breath out of me as I hit a wall.  Or a stalagmite.  Either one.

That gave me a moment to focus my thoughts, and Nellie managed to get Doloise pulled out of her jaws.  Doloise was bleeding flowers, daffodils and dandelions, yellow ashes like sulfur, a golden glow of light against the bronze darkness.  They both bled gold.  Neither of them were human – was I surprised?  Doloise slapped against the ground with the sound of a wet slab of meat, but she wasn’t meat.  She was from Beyond my reality, Beyond what I knew.  She wasn’t my fairy, she was a shape for some magic and surveillance.  A camera and a wand.

I remembered who I was, and where I was.  I remembered Artur opening the door. 

I stood up.  I could do this.

 “Stop this,” I shouted at Nellie, who was still making whimpering noises.  She spat in my direction, a mixture of slime and thorns and blood of a Realm.  I dodged it, and moved in front of her.

She said nothing, only leaned towards me with her slavering mouth and her mad blue eyes.

I did not flinch, but I did close my eyes.  I needed to find that place, that one spot inside where things got quiet.   I reached out and inwards at the same time.

I felt her breath, and it smelled like Doloise.

“What did you just do?” the Dragon asked, quietly.  I thought I had seen her angry, but that quiet question did scare me more than anything I had yet experienced.

I did it again, and I could feel it closer.  My one trick, magnified.

“What did you just do?” the Dragon screamed, repeating herself, and I felt the blow first as pressure against my ribs, and then pressure inside.  I kept my focus, trying to breathe.  Something had broken, and I felt myself curling up in pain against the wishes of my brain.

I did it again.  The noise got quieter.  And again.  There were so many open doors, and I could close them all.

“Stop it!  Stop it!” 

I didn’t care how many places a Dragon existed in, because they were just doors to me.  Doors I could pull, push, slam or kick shut.

I felt her move towards me, and I opened my eyes.  Artur lifted his sword, the forest not piercing Nellie, but getting in her way, vines pulling at her feet, trees crashing down as she moved towards me.  Artur bled green blood, swamp, and sap, but he was only barely mortal.  Nellie was not, Doloise was not.  They had rules, and one of them was that they did not function well without connections to their place of origin, without open portals.

And I was the Portal Doctor.