by Mike Brotzman
part 4
 2 3 4

  I planned to touch down upon a gravel parking lot near some recreational lake. As I circled around for a landing Edward gave me a big hug around my neck.
  "Thank you."
  This was it! This was my purpose. Sharing the joy and freedom that I had found with others. It was just so perfect. Landing suddenly became the farthest thing from my mind. With renewed strength I flapped up higher and higher. Screw the FAA, I wasn't going to let this ride end on a whimper. When I began to find myself short of breath at felt I had gone far enough. Executing a perfect wingover I went from a full climb to a plummeting free fall.
  "Here we go!" I yelled back to Edward.
  "Wheeeeeee!" he screamed.
  I tucked my wings back and streaked through the sky. I had only done what I was about to do one time before, but I was confident that nothing would do wrong. As the ground raced up at me something in my brain clicked and I unfolded my wings into the air. The strain was enormous and my muscles screamed in protect, but my wings held. My descent leveled off, but I didn't stop there. Angling my great silver membranes I cut into the wind and shot up and over into a perfect loop. I leveled off and starting laughing in big dragon guffaws.
  "Hey Eddie, how'd you like that!?"
  I began to circle the parking lot again and swooped in for a barely controlled landing. My flying muscles were on fire and I was panting heavily, but it was the best I had felt in ages.
  "Oh man, wasn't that exciting?"
  There was no answer.
  "Hey, Edward, you there? Eddie?"
  I undid the straps that help him to my back, but instead of climbing down, I felt the mass slide off and impact with a plop. I twisted my neck around to see Eddie lying face down in the gravel.
  I flipped him over with my talon. There was a smile on his face, but his body was limp like month old lettuce. I put my ear in front of his mouth and listened for a breath. Finding none I began to panic.
  "Ohmygod Ohmygod Ohmygod."
  What was wrong with this kid? I mean he looked ok when we started. Not knowing what else to do I fell back on my CPR training. I was a couple seconds into it when I heard his ribs cracking.
  "Shit shit shit. Ohmygod Ohmygod Ohmygod."
  There just had to be something I could do. I was a fucking dragon. I had to have some sort of power. I could bring him back. I just knew I could. I grabbed him in my talons and held on tight, trying with all my strength to will him back to life. It started as a whisper and then progressed until the voices sounded like they were talking right into my ear. For a second I listened, but they said nothing. It was just gibberish.
  "Not now!" I shouted back. "This is not the time for stupid hallucinations. Leave me alone! Go!"
  The voice left and I felt a cool liquid on my hand and saw that instead of holding a living breathing human all I had was a corpse, leaking fluid from several claw marks. Yet again I had failed. Yet again I had only managed to destroy. I dropped what had been Eddie as if it were a hot brick and curled up into a little quivering ball.
  I had killed him.
  I had killed him.
  Oh my god. What was I going to do? They were going to cage me or shoot me or throw me in jail. I was a murderer. No! It was worse. I was a monster. There was no denying it anymore. First it was just property, then that doe and now a human... Edward. Everywhere I went I destroyed. Everything I touched I destroyed. I didn't feel much like living let alone getting up. I heard the crunch of tires as several vehicles pulled up. Maybe they would just put me out of my misery and shoot me here. I didn't even bother to look up and just waited for the bullet to crash through my skull.
  "Mr. Brotzman, are you alright?"
  "Stay away from me! I killed him."
  "What are you talking about," said the man, "you knew this might happen before the flight."
  "I don't know what you think I am, but I don't plan to go around killing people, it just happens. Just leave me alone."
  "But you knew about Edward's condition before you agreed to take him flying."
  "I took him flying because I liked him. He made me feel better about myself and I just wanted to return the favour. Fat lot of good that did him."
  "You mean nobody told you?"
  "They told me I was a monster all the time. I just didn't listen."
  There was a short pause.
  "Oh shit. There must have been a screw up somewhere. Oh boy, this went really wrong. You see Edward wasn't just some kid. He had a terminal genetic condition and the Make a Wish Foundation had arranged with the convention promoter for Edward to get a flying ride on your back. We knew that the shock might kill him, but it was all he wanted to do in what little time he had left."
  "I killed him." I stated again.
  The man started to say something, but stopped and walked over to a group of people who were just getting out of a van. Their generally sad faced were replaced by shock and horror as the man related the situation to them. An older woman left the group and walked over to me.
  "Hello, um, Mr. Brotzman. I am Eddie's mother. It's okay, you don't have to feel bad about this. He could have gone at any moment; I honestly think he was hanging on by sheer willpower alone, just so he could be with you. You made it so that his last moments on Earth were filled with joy instead of pain from a terrible illness. I just wanted to..."
  Whatever the mother said next was lost as the voices came roaring back into my head, louder than ever. I grabbed my head again and fell screaming to the ground.
  "Shut up! Shut up! All of you just shut up!"
  The mother backed away and everyone else dropped what they were doing and stared at me. I started beating the side of my head into the ground.
  "Shut, up. Shut, up."
  The voices didn't go away. In fact, they got louder. With a final roar I leapt into the air. I didn't care how tired my wings were as I just wanted to get as far from that place and that corpse as I could. I flew on in a blind haze. The next thing I knew I was standing at the entrance of my lair. I looked down at me bed, ripped it apart and grabbed all the cash I could fit in my talon. I then picked up a large net and jumped down to ground level. Now, until this point I had that friends physical plant guy pick up all my alcohol, but I just didn't care any more. I walked downtown and into the parking lot where the multiplex was located. I then went and thrust me head through the doors of Metro Spirits, throwing a large ball of loose cash at the attendant.
  "I want as much as that will buy. The strongest and cheapest stuff you have," I glanced toward the Everclear and the cheap Vodka. "Give me a nice selection and I want it now."
  I growled that last part and it seemed to really motivate the attendant. Summoning help from the stock room they proceeded to fill my net with enough rotgut booze to kill an entire fraternity. Using the last of my strength I flew back to my rooftop lair and dove into my bundle.
  "Let's see you try to talk to me now."
  I sat there and drank until I passed out.
  I woke up and it was still dark out. As always the previous night's alcohol was fueling an early morning energy rush and I felt like I was going to explode. As soon as I cleared the sleep from my eyes I felt the whispering start up again. I reached for the bottle and shut it up. I had to get out of here. In a few hours my door was going to open and a bunch of men in white lab coats were going to either cart me off to some zoo or some loony bin. Without thinking I grabbed my liquid hoard and took off into the early morning. With all the energy I had to burn I just jetted. I didn't even know where I was going. I just sort of picked a direction and went. I stayed low to avoid detection or tracking and every so often I would take a drink to keep the voices at bay. By the time the sun came up I was far away and quite a bit drunk. I don't remember the much about that day, or the next, or the next, or the next. In fact I don't remember anything for about the next week and a half. The next thing I knew I was lying in a forest, my mouth was burned by vomit, I was surrounded by empty liquor bottles and the voice was whispering non-stop in my head. This whole time was sort of fuzzy for me. My day consisted of waking up and then huddling in a ball for several hours, beating on my head and moaning in an effort to drown out the voices. The voices were so bad that I couldn't concentrate on anything else. Hunting was out of the question so when I got desperate enough I would just eat bark or saplings. Needless to say it really didn't work and I got thinner and thinner. Of course one doesn't need much muscle tone to spend all day in a quivering ball. Some of my scales started to fall out and due to the lack of metals in my diet they didn't usually grow back. If they did they were deformed or discolored.
  As the weeks wore on I continued to live my pitiful existence. When I wasn't hiding from human discovery I was trying to deal with those voices only I could hear. There was no maybe about it, I was slowly going mad and in all honesty my load had become more than just a few bricks short. In addition to the voices I started seeing things. I think this was because of the prolonged malnutrition more than any "real" mental problem. Finally one day I just snapped and I went on a full-scale tantrum. I roared and rampaged through the forest ripping out shrubs and pushing over trees.
  I even tried to freeze things, but my breath weapon had dried up some time ago. My rampage took me to the edge of a small ridgeline that overlooked the rest of the forest I was in. For some reason the view made me remember my wings and I decided to take my fury to the sky. Roaring loudly in defiance of the voices, I charged headlong at the drop off. I leapt into the air and roared a challenge to the clouds. However my wings had become far to weak and frail to support what remained of my bulk and I watched with a strange detachment as I plummeted to the forest canopy below. I crashed through the branches and felt some sharp stabbing pains in my wings. A fraction of a second later I felt myself impact with the forest floor and everything went black.

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  It's strange. I can remember the blackness, the complete blackness. Granted I was unconscious, but you don't usually remember being so. Then, just like some creation myth, the blackness was eaten away by a whiteness of equal (opposite?) intensity. As my mind untangled itself from the fog that covered it like a thick wool blanket, I felt around mentally and was shocked when I couldn't feel my body. I was just a hovering awareness floating in a sea of white. I was just about to panic when the signals abruptly changed and just like that, I had a body again. So now I was a hovering body in a sea of whiteness. I blinked my eyes and rubbed my face with my hands in an effort to dispel the grogginess. It took a second for that to register. I had hands! I snapped wide awake and began to look around. I had legs, human legs! With shoes... and socks... and I was standing on something. I was still surrounded by whiteness, but now I was definitely standing on something and in a human body! All the parts of my body that I could see were covered in frail pink flesh, not hard scales. I was wearing clothes again. Actual clothes! Jeans, t-shirt, sweat shirt, everything I had been wearing when I had changed. I was admiring my new old body when the whiteness dimmed slightly and I looked up to see another figure coming into focus, an unmistakably draconic figure.
  The dragon walked to within about 20 feet of me, stopped and then began to stare at me, tilting its head every so often. It was a silver dragon and it looked vaguely like my dragon self, but there were some noticeable differences.
  "Who are you? Where am I?" I sputtered in an all too terrified voice.
  The strange dragon tilted its head at me again.
  "Am I... am I... dead?"
  The dragon tilted its head back and said something. At least I thought it said something, for the words were completely unintelligible. It sounded just like the voices in my head, the voices that had driven me to the point of madness. I started to back away. The dragon took a big step forward and said something else, louder and more urgent. I took another step back.
  "Please, just tell me who you are."
  The dragon began to hiss the growl again, but stopped short. It reached out a talon and picked me up from the nothingness I was standing on. I was far too scared and confused to do anything. With its thumb it twisted my head first one way and then the other. Finally, sitting back on its haunches, the dragon reached out with its other talon, positioning its thumb and foreclaw on either side of my head. Then, without warning, the creature drove the two claws into my ears and the world went on mute as I heard and felt the black claws destroy my hearing organs. I could feel their sharp points grinding against my skull as a warm liquid ran down my cheek. Then, as suddenly as it began, the claws were withdrawn and my hearing magically returned. I could see blood on them and I reached my still free hands up and felt the side of my head. It was perfectly intact. I felt some dried blood on the side of my face, but there was none on the ground and none on my shirt.
  "Can you understand me now?" the dragon clicked. "Was I successful at correcting the defect in your hearing?"
  I hung there for a second with my mouth agape. The only thing I could think to do was repeat my initial question.
  "Where am I? Who are you?"
  The dragon blinked and then tilted it's head again.
  "I cannot understand a word that you speak. I fear that your voice has somehow been damaged as well. I will try to correct that."
  Without saying anything further, the dragon again reached out a claw and quite casually slit my throat. This time the blood rushed out and I felt the sharp appendage literally rearranging things inside my neck. I tried to breathe and all that came out was a bloody froth. Before I could start to thrash around in panic the dragon removed his claw and all feeling of violation ceased. I wiped the blood from my mouth and looked down at my still unstained clothing. I repeated my question for a third time.
  "Who are you? Where am I?"
  I didn't even realize I wasn't speaking English any more.
  "Me?" the dragon looked quite surprised. "Why, I am you. Which is odd because quite incidentally, you are me."
  "Am... I dead?"
  "Oh I most certainly hope not, for if you are dead than I would be dead as well and I would find that most unappealing."
  "Then where am I? Why did you bring me here?
  "You are where you always have been."
  The dragon tapped on my forehead with his talon.
  "I brought you here because you would not come on your own. I brought you here because I wanted to talk to you."
  "Talk to me about what?"
  "I want to ask you why to continually try to silence me with that foul liquid you drink. I want to ask you why you are always so sad. I want to ask you why you never come to talk to me and most of all I wanted to see what I look like."
  "Wait, just exactly who are you?"
  The dragon was looking more hurt by the second.
  "I am your first and last friend. I am all that you know at the moment of your hatching. I am the silent voice inside you that speaks the loudest. I am everything your species is and was and I am their gift to you. Can you truly deny knowing me?"
  He started to talk around me.
  "Ah, but how can I lay blame. I am almost as ignorant of you as you are of I. I have never seen a dragon shaped thus. You are quite small and I can see no scales or claws. There are no wings upon your back. How ever do you fly?"
  "This isn't my true form," I snapped back, "my real body looks much like yours."
  "Your true form is not defined by the area your body takes up in the physical world. We now stand within our mind, and what form is truer than the ones we give ourselves?"
  I looked down at myself. He was right; I was no dragon. I might look like a dragon, but deep down I was just a pathetic little human who went and got himself a new body to play with. No wonder my life had fallen apart. A loud hiss caused my thoughts to come back into the waking world.
  "How dare you insult yourself so! You are not weak, you are not pathetic."
  At that point I realized that he was telling the truth when he said he was a part of me as he seemed to share in my thoughts.
  "You and me, we are the same. If you are weak then I am weak as well. Do I look weak to you?"
  The dragon ended his last in a snarl as he thrust his muzzle to within inches of my face. However, instead cowering in fear I became enraged. Every injustice and hardship I had faced over the past six months rushed up to lend strength to my words.
  "I don't want your pep-talk! What, you've brought me here to make me strong? You're going to make me a better dragon? I haven't killed enough people? I haven't stolen enough gold? I don't care how strong you say I am. All I really am is a monster, a freak. An instrument of death that lives to rend, rip, claw, kill, scare and frighten. You know, I thought this was something I would want, but it's become hell. It's become pure hell. I'm locked out everything I held dear in life and I don't think I can stand another day of it, let alone the next several millennia of my 'glorious' existence."
  The dragon just stood there in shock. Large tears welled up in his green eyes and rolled down his muzzle. His legs began to tremble and he fell to his knees as if someone had just struck him a mighty blow, all the while emitting a pitiful wail. After a few moments of sobbing the dragon looked back at me.
  "Why.." its voice started as a whisper, "Why do you continue to say such things about yourself... about me... about, us. I just wanted to talk to you. I would never try to get you to change who we are. I would never try to bring you pain. The merest thought that I might have done so brings me the greatest agony."
  I instantly began to feel bad about what I had said and I think the dragon sensed this as he rose himself up from the whiteness that formed the ground.
  "You are not a creature of death, but a creature of life! Your claws defend life from evil. Your scales protect life from harm. Your breath cleanses life of the foul stench of corruption. Your wings... your wings are for you, to live life in complete and total freedom."
  The dragon paused for a second and smiled.
  "As for the gold, well, that is just pretty."
  Still smiling the dragon reached out his neck and gave me a friendly nuzzle. I was the one who was crying now.
  "What about that kid, Edward. I killed him. You can't deny that."
  "Of course I can deny you killed the youth -- particularly because you didn't! If only you had listened to me. What greater honor is there than to die whilst riding atop a dragon? That young man was caught by death's icy grasp and you freed him. You freed him from his sickness and allowed him to live again. Probably more life than he had experienced in all his prior years as a human. He departed this world with a smile on his face instead of alone in some hospital bed."
  "I couldn't even save him. What kind of dragon am I? What kind of creature that is made of life can't even restore it to others."
  "All your worries will be answered if you would just talk to me."
  "But every day I get up I am faced with that," I pointed to his horns, "and these," I rubbed the scales on his face, "and those," I pointed to his clawed talons. "How can I not see these things? How can I ignore the fear in someone's eyes when I try to talk to them? The fear in a deer's eyes just before I rip her throat out? How can I ignore the fact that I am left outside while the others scurry around inside talking about me in hushed tones?"
  "You do because you are a dragon."
  "But I'm not. I'm just some human kid who happened to be on the wrong mailing list at the wrong time."
  There was a longish pause while the dragon seemed to contemplate something. I wondered why I couldn't hear his thoughts.
  "Then I think we have discovered the problem."
  The dragon walked around me again, sniffing some parts, prodding others with an inquisitive claw.
  "It is your form."
  "My form?"
  "It is this strange form of yours. That is causing the problem. If nothing is done it will tear you apart. You mind will shatter like an old pot and we shall both be unmade. There is only one thing I know to do."
  The dragon bent his head close and touched his forehead to mine. After a second he broke the link and whispered something in my ear.
  "Forgive me."
  Quick as a snake the neck reared back, the jaws sprang open and once again I found myself bathed in darkness. The jaws snapped shut around my thighs, razor sharp teeth piercing flesh and shattering bone. It was then I began to scream. I felt myself plucked off the ground, the teeth released for a moment, but it was only so the dragon could position me better in his maw. I began to flail as teeth tore my thighs apart and my scream turned into a blood filled gurgle as my crushed ribs punctured my lungs. The dragon started to shake his head back and forth. I felt a crack in my neck and my whole body went numb, numb that is except for the pain. It was at that moment I became aware of a completely different sensation altogether. While one part of me felt it was being chewed apart, another part was chewing on something of it's own and was excited by the thrill of the kill. I don't know how I remained conscious, but I could feel my joints giving out and my body parts beginning to flop loose. Just when I think things couldn't get any worse I felt a massive tearing. My head had been torn from my body and as my life faded I was dimly aware of being massaged down a long, warm and slippery passage.
  Flash! I was back. I opened my eyes and I was once again standing in the vast whiteness of... wherever. For the second time that day my body felt different and the sensory input from two extra membraned appendages strongly hinted that I was a dragon again. A long silver muzzle caught my eyes' attention and they followed it down, past the snout to a blue jean covered leg and a brown hiking boot covered foot that was sticking out at an odd angle.
  I started to lose it. My limp jaw began to flop open and the entire leg plopped out onto the whiteness, body not included.
  I was quivering all over as it was the only movement I could manage. A wave of nausea swept over me and I bent my neck in preparation to hork my guts out. Suddenly a pair of strong talons grasped my head and held it level. It was the other dragon.
  "No! You need to do this. Finish the job."
  I could only sit there and shake. My stomach heaved. The dragon tightened his grip.
  "Finish it! Now! It is the only way."
  His grip softened and he began to stroke my neck.
  "Know that I would never harm you and do this for us. Please."
  The nausea subsided and I began to chew again. The meat in my mouth was raw and the taste was strangely exhilarating, but I still shuddered every time my tongue encountered a scrap of clothing, my clothing. After the meat had been sufficiently masticated I closed my eyes and swallowed. I felt the tears begin to flow as the lump traveled down my throat.
  "You forgot a piece," the dragon said.
  I looked down at the leg and, after some hesitation, picked it up in my mouth. I took my time to savour both the taste and the last vestige of my humanity. As I felt that final chunk travel down to be digested the other dragon patted me on the back.
  "Now, this body is more what I expected."
  For the first time since my change I felt complete and total contentment. All of my human based concerns and fears were resting in the acid of my gut. I turned to the other dragon.
  "Thank you," was all that I could manage.
  "There is no need for thanks; this is what I am here for. Any time you need anything, any time you feel bad, any time you need someone to talk to you, just come down here and see me. You know how."
  "No I don't, you never told me."
  "I am a part of you. I do not need to 'tell' you anything. You will find that there are many things you now know. I would talk longer, but you need to return to the world of the waking. Just never forget who you are and what you are," he put his talon on my forehead, "in body," he moved to his own head, "in spirit," he then locked horns with me and brought both our heads together, "and in mind. And for now I bid you farewell."
  The whiteness faded to black and then black faded back to colour. It was the colour of a forest. I was laying in a small pool of my own blood, surrounded by shattered tree limbs and in quite a bit of pain, the real, physical kind of pain that doesn't just suddenly go away the in next instant. There was some movement and I could vaguely perceive some sort of small animal poking around and sniffing at the blood. I slowly lifted my head up. The little critter made a run for it. Was I depressed? Did I feel rejected? Did I feel like a monster? Nope, the first thing that popped into my mind was laughter. That silly little critter thought I was going to eat him. Stupid thing. Hmmmmm, actually that wasn't such a bad idea. I tried to stand to go after him, but I was so weak I could barely move. I was definitely going to have to solve this problem. Fortunately I didn't seem to be encumbered by those human emotions such as panic, hopelessness and depression. I was going to get out of this or I would die trying, there was nothing more to it. I gritted my teeth against the pain and began crawling out of the forest. I found I was able to put my slow painful crawl on autopilot and think about other things. First of all I realized that my thoughts were still not in English. As far as I could tell I now knew how to speak Dragon, and somehow it had become my default language. However I did sing a few English songs I knew just to make sure I could call a cab or order pizza when I got out of the forest. I took this language switch and the very sudden change in attitude to be two key signs that I didn't have a human mind any more. It looks like my little friend had used some abstract symbolism to re-install my operating system.
  Ok, I have to take a time out here. This is exactly why I resent having to write this stupid journal. I know you just want to help me, but the truth is that you can't help me, even if you wanted to. You've spent years and years learning how to fix broken human minds, but guess what, my mind ain't human. It's like trying to run PC software on a Mac. You might even be doing me harm. Ever think of that? I think that right now the most qualified person to deal with my mind is me and currently I feel perfectly fine. Well I'd feel more fine if I was out flying, sunning myself or casually observing humans as they go about their daily tasks. If I did need any help my spirit would be more than able to provide it. Yeah, I am aware of how that sounds, but lately the opinions of little ape creatures really don't go as far with me as they used to.
  Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, crawling through the forest all bloody and broken. I finally reached a road where I was soon able to flag down a passing vehicle (I guess lying across a road counts as flagging). The wheels were put in motion and I was rushed via flatbed truck to a local hospital where my wounds were staunched and my stomach was filled. Two weeks later I was back at school recovering from the last of my injuries. Everyone was of course frantic. My parents were called, etc, etc, but I just couldn't see what the ruckus was about. I will be the first to admit that I have changed since my ordeal. All those fears and worries I had once had, those 'human' worries and fears have just melted away. I don't care that some animals might fear me. I don't care that I can't fit in buildings and that I can't participate in 'human' society. Those are trivial worries. I can see so far past them, into the long run. There is so much I have to do with my life that I can't take time out to worry. I have so many places to fly, so many things to learn, so many books to read and so many different animals to eat.
  I remember it was just after I got back. Most people had blamed my breakdown on the death of poor Eddie riding on my back. There were no cages or restraints or even medication, as the doctors how not yet mapped out my neurochemistry. When I came out of the woods I just said that it had been a long brewing problem what with the alcohol and all and the Eddie incident had just broken me. I had simply run away and spent some time in the woods to work it all out of my system. I apologized for my not telling anyone, but I maintained that I couldn't, as it would have interfered with my 'recovery'. Yes it was a flimsy story and it all fell apart after most of humans who worked with me noticed a definite change in my personality and after they discovered my other 'secret'. One night in the hospital I felt the need to talk with someone and so I did what came naturally. I slowed my breathing and focused, opening my mind to the spirit within. After a few minutes there was a blur in my vision and I came to see another silver dragon sitting in the room next to me. Granted I could have held an entirely mental conversation, but I was curious to try it the conventional way. We talked about several things; my life, my recovery, when I would get to fly again. I noticed that I seemed to do most of the talking, and my spirit would just say something completely appropriate at the end of the conversation segment. The last topic involved Eddie's death. Yes, I knew what had really happened, but I still couldn't help feeling just a little bit responsible. I was cursing the event staff for forgetting to tell me when my spirit spoke up.
  "They did tell you."
  "Three days prior."
  "Why didn't I remember?"
  "I don't think you were in a condition to remember much of anything."
  "You mean I was..."
  "Yes, quite in fact."
  That made me feel really bad. My weaknesses were directly responsible for the boy's death.
  "I thought you were supposed to make me feel better."
  "No, I am here to guide you and provide you with the truth. To pander to your emotions and to give you a false sense of well being would do you no good. Given this, let me tell you again that you are not responsible for Eddie's death and yours was the most honourable action that could have been taken. That poor human's days were numbered and his dying wish was to be with you. How do you think it would have made him feel if you had pulled back on your flying just to cater to his needs."
  "He would have felt betrayed."
  "He would have spent his final moments on Earth filled with pain. Instead, you filled him with the greatest happiness. That is the truth."
  With those words my spirit faded and disappeared leaving me staring at a blank wall. Needless to say the doctors had installed a video camera in the room to monitor my condition and they had recorded 2 hours of me having an in depth conversation with a potted fern. Faster than I could blink there were all these psychiatrists and psychologists running around, all saying how I've gone insane with little voices in my head. I tried to explain to them what had happened, but oh no, I was most certainly going insane. Yeah well, what suddenly makes them experts on dragons? Then it got worse when the magnitude of my drinking problem came to light when they the worker guy who bought my booze for me. They wanted to put me on powerful medication. They wanted to enroll me in 12 step programmes. They demanded non-stop interviews and round the clock observation. What they would simply not do was listen to my assertions that I was perfectly fucking fine. They would not believe that I could have actually cured my drinking problem on my own. Oh that's just not possible, you need professional help. Well maybe humans can't cure a mental problem by themselves, but that's probably because they have weak fucking minds that have a tissue paper grasp on sanity. I am a dra-gun, not some fucking ape. I can do nothing but stare at a dot on a wall for a year and then get up and deliver an award winning speech at an Ivy League institution. If my mind were a automobile's transmission it could do duty on a rental van and emerge unscathed. Stop trying to change me, leave me alone and just go away and write some research papers somewhere. That's all that you seem to be good for anyway.
  Alright, alright, it takes a big dragon to admit when he's wrong. Yeah you guys do help me out from time to time. Like that time I got caught up contemplating that big oak tree next to Shanklin Hall. If one of you hadn't talked some sense into me I'd probably still be sitting out there. I still maintain that it did not feel like four days. I have noted a tendency to put things off for, you know, the next year or decade or so. I keep forgetting how quickly the human world moves. Jeez, just imagine all the reading I'd have to catch up on. Or then there was that time when that guy in the pickup knocked over that REU student in the crosswalk and I wanted to pull him out and stomp him flat into the asphalt. You guys did make it clear to me that I was not the embodiment of Justice on Earth.
  In case you were wondering the old Michael did not die and was not replaced by some new draconic entity. I basically feel like I am the same person. I generally talk and act the same way, but I just had a few attitudes and emotions flip flopped. I remember everything from my old life and how it felt to be human. I even still have dreams where I am human and I sometimes wake up having forgotten my new form. I guess I consider myself a dragon who spent 20 of his most formative years training as a human. Everything that made me me happened during those years, and none of that has gone away. The event I just described with my spirit and the death of my old self was just the final act of a change that happened almost exactly 8 months ago. It wasn't the death of me, but merely the death of my humanity.
  Hoo boy, now I've gone and said it. That's worth about 10 PhD topics right there.
  Also for the record I really don't think in English anymore. Well sometimes I do, but it is clearly the subordinate language. I don't have a name for what I think in, but I guess I'll just call it Dragon. It has its own alphabet, and if you're interested I wrote it on the back cover of this notebook. Each character represents a specific draconic sound, the total set of which consists of grunts, clicks, growls, snarls, whistles and some of the more common mammalian sounds. I successfully taught the physical plant guy who was re-doing my wiring to adequately reproduce all of the sounds so it is possible for humans to speak Dragon, albeit with an accent. You don't even need to have your tongues removed, which I heard can be extremely painful, although the guy did start to complain about a sore throat. My draconic vocabulary is quite extensive, but I have had a problem with making up new words. I'm not really good with languages and I would hate for Dragon to go the way of Europe and Asia with stuff like "Gr'nack hoorush cellular phone." That's just unprofessional and it sounds like Americanized trash. I am going to have to work with some real linguists regarding this issue, as I am not able to just make up words. If anyone reading this would care to learn Dragon I am working on setting up a class. Give me some time to hash out the price schedule.
  Well I guess that's it. Classes start on Tuesday so I guess my summer vacation has come to an end. Yeah it's been a wild 8 months since the change, but I have seemed to come through it all right. As far as I can tell I have gotten over the hump and it's downhill all the way from here. Ah, nothing beats the life of a dragon. No cares, no worries (all cares and worries being quickly squashed or eaten), just a long life in which I can lay back and collect stuff. Stuff's nice. I like stuff. You can never have too much. Anyway, before I have to get back to studying humans (you that it was the other way round didn't you, mu ha ha ha) I think I'll spend a satisfying night sleeping on the field, under the stars.

part 4
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