Friday, 19 October 2018

The dragon egg (short story)

It was an ordinary Monday morning. There was a morning lecture that I was bound to be late to. Everything was normal, until I stepped outside into the balcony for the first time, and found a dragon egg.

Let me elaborate. It was a rather large, 25 cm long, and ovoid in shape. It's skin resembled that of a reptile. I didn't touch it at first - it was a suspicious object, after all. I considered talking to my roommate about it, but by then, the person is question was in the bathroom, so I decided to lie down for a couple of minutes until it was free. I'll spare you the details and say I underestimated my capacity to fall asleep.

In any case, when she decided to check up on me (probably under the impression that I had passed away in the course of the night), it was late, and I didn't remember any of it. I didn't recall it until I was actually in the lecture, but by then, I had no idea where she was.

I remembered it again when I got back to my room that evening. I was almost sure it was a figment of my imagination, but I had to check. I ran out to the balcony, and voila, there it was. It was glowing now. What on earth was it?
I had to decide whether I was going to call the police. It could be something explosive, after all. It didn't look man-made, and no one had any reason to harm me, as far as I knew. I decided to ask my roommate. Of course, I made the mistake of assuming that she was in touch with reality.

"That's a dragon egg, of course!" she said, the moment she clapped her eyes on it, "maybe it'll hatch if we take care of it."

She probably realised that I didn't buy any of this by the look on my face. She took it as an invitation to elaborate on her position.

"The mother dragon probably couldn't take care of the egg herself, so she probably left it in the care of a human who could. Dragons are reptiles, so I don't think you'll have to sit on it, but you should probably take it inside and take care of it."

"If it's a bomb..."

"That's clearly natural. As far as I know, there are no creatures that lay exploding eggs - that would be counterproductive if you want to..."

"Alright, then you can take it in."

"It's meant for you. You have to take care of it. The mother might not like it if someone else handles the egg."

"If it's a surveillance..."

"It's not artificial. Take it in. cover it with a towel or something if you're afraid of being spied on."

"Why are you so set on this?"

"I'm not set on it, I just think you're being an idiot."

She probably knew more about this than she let on. She had no particular reason to hate me (other than the usual frustration with a roommate, but she was the furthest thing from a psychopath), so if it was from her, at worst, it would be mildly annoying. I decided to play along.

"Alright. I'll set it on the ground here and cover it with a towel. That'll be good, right?"

"Yes, that should be good. Good luck!"

With that, she turned and left the room with suspicious speed. I was curious about it, but also dead tired. I still had a lot to study, as the exams were due to start in two days.

I had no lectures the next morning, so I decided to sleep in. It was a restless sleep, and I was woken, fairly early, by a sort of chirp. It took a little while for my sleepy brain to register it. When it did, I almost fell off the bed. The sound was coming from the corner of the room where the egg was. I went to it, and pulled the towel off. It still looked exactly the same. It wasn't glowing anymore. As I watched, it made a single chirping noise, and then went silent.

I tapped the shell lightly. There was no response. I stared at it for a while, but I was too sleepy to process anything. I put the towel over the egg again, and went to get dressed and have breakfast. After this was done, I returned to my room. The egg was still silent. I settled down to my studies. It made no noise after that, until about 5 pm when I was about to go join a group study session. That was a single chirp, and after that, it went silent. I was starting to suspect there was an alarm clock inside the thing.

The study session went on until quite late. We had a break for dinner, and settled back into our studies. Some time later, my roommate called. She wanted me to come back, since the dragon egg would miss me.

My plan was to stay and study overnight, sit for the exam, and then go sleep in the morning. I refused, point blank. My roommate accepted that, at least for the moment. Then, half an hour later, came another call. The egg was making noise constantly, so she wanted me to come home. I was almost done with my studies anyway. Besides, I was quite tired. I decided to do a bit of cramming in the morning. I went back to my room.

She was right, the egg was chirping constantly. By now, I was starting to have serious doubts - like, did dragons chirp in the first place?  Anyway, it stopped as soon as I entered the room. I went to sleep fairly fast.

The next morning, I was woken by the alarm clock. It was chirping again when I came back. It stopped again when I entered the room. I couldn't help saying goodbye to it when I left the room that day. It didn't exactly respond, but I assumed it was asleep. I went to the exam in a strangely positive mood as a result. There was a paper in the afternoon as well. Afterwards, we had another group study session.

My roommate called again that evening as well. The egg was chirping again, apparently. I was considering the alarm theory again, or perhaps, that it was planted by my mother. Again, I ended up giving in and going back to my room. Again, it stopped once I entered the room.

The next morning was the same as the previous one, except for one difference - when I said good bye, the egg chirped.

That evening was the same as the last. The last two papers were on the next day, and I hadn't had a lot of time to study for them. I was annoyed about being disturbed, and took half an hour extra during which my poor roommate had to listen to the egg, but I ended up spending that night in my dorm room as well.

The next morning was also the same. It chirped quite a bit in reply this time when I said good bye.

That evening, we were planning to go out and celebrate the end of the exams, but as it turned out, everyone was sleep-deprived and declined. I went back to my room earlier than anticipated as a result.

Only, when I went back, the door to my room was wide open. My roommate was there, with a friend of hers.. He was holding a hammer, right over the dragon egg. My blood ran cold. It took me a second to get the linguistic part of my brain operational, but when it finally kicked into gear, I was finally able to express my thoughts.

"Don't kill it!" I screamed.

My roommate jumped, and so did her friend. In fact, it startled him so much that he dropped the hammer, on top of the egg. I lost the ability to scream. My roommate and her friend both tried to catch the hammer, and both failed, as it miraculously landed in the best possible way to crack the egg in slow motion. The shell made a dull sound, and then cracked.

I think I need to elaborate on what happened in more detail. By 'cracked' I meant that some sort of hard shell inside the egg definitely cracked. The outer, leathery layer stayed intact. Then, it started leaking.

"Looks like it punctured the plastic,"said the friend.

I immediately put two and two together. My roommate immediately realised that the had deduced that much.

"Let's discuss this after you get your results," she said.

"Fine. In exchange, if you tell anyone..."

"It's strictly between the three of us," said the friend.

"So, how long did it take?" I asked.

"A couple of weeks, between the two of us," said my roommate, "do you want to know how it was done?"

-------THE END --------------------

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