“I’ll do it!” said the soldier as he grabbed his rifle, donned his battle gear, and headed to the Land Rover.
No one wanted to do the battle. The soldier was left all alone to decide if he would join his platoon, or to defect in order to fight the dragon behind the mountains.
He managed to hot wire the Land Rover and commandeered it away from his platoon. He was surprised that no one gave chase, except from the incessant shouts from his sergeant to come back. The soldier had driven so fast that the voice of his sergeant faded away quickly, but probably because he was no longer paying attention to it.
The Land Rover made several miles across country road. The soldier had always been looking out for the opportunity to enter dragon territory. Although it was never the platoon’s mission to engage the dragon, the soldier secretly harboured the desire to defect should credible reports of dragon sightings surface.
The road became more bumpy and began to fade into the increasing encounter of rocks. After an hour of driving, the presence of grass began to diminish.
It had been the soldier’s childhood dream to meet a dragon. He loved dragons more than he loved to kill one, but he knew that in order to fulfil that lifelong desire thirst to encounter a dragon, he had to really kill one.
The hour drive turned into three, then four, then five. There was still fuel left, but the terrain had become impossible for driving. The soldier reluctantly stopped the Land Rover, slung his rifle, and started hiking.
The soldier started imagining how the dragon would look like. Others who had seen a dragon had described them as extremely fearsome and dangerous, but very majestic and beautiful. For those who had survived and slain a dragon described the feeling as extremely invigorating. They return home with a body part of the dragon, and especially with photographs if their camera was not broken, and are hailed as heroes. The soldier wanted to be a hero too.
Hours turned into days as the soldier pressed on. There was now no signs of life where he was. There was no insect, no blade of grass, and certainly no water. The soldier carefully rationed his water and food, but it was clear that it was running out. He started to realise that even if he had successfully found and slain the dragon, he would have to think of surviving the journey back.
The hike started to feel like an eternity with no dragon in sight. The soldier started to wonder why he was doing this in the first place, except that it was a goal.
The temperature became hotter and hotter. The soldier’s throat was now parched dry. He was not sure if he could actually survive the terrain, let alone the dragon.
Just as the soldier sat to take one of his much needed rest, he heard a rumbling thunder in the distance. The soldier looked up at the darkening sky. It looked like it was going to rain. The thunder became closer and a thought had crossed the soldier’s mind. Was that actually a dragon’s growl?
The soldier propped himself up against a rock and got into position, aiming his rifle towards the top of the mountain that he was on. At last, the time had come to face the beast. He mustered whatever strength he had left. He had come so far, there was no turning back.
Suddenly, a large and dark shape flew out of the top of the mountain. It gave a loud flap as it flew above the soldier. The soldier looked up. It was the dragon.
The soldier turned wildly around and saw the black mass of the dragon make a turn behind him. The dragon had obviously spotted the soldier and was now surveying him. The soldier was extremely weak, but he was now excited that his goal was before him. He pressed his back against the rock, and feebly raised his rifle at the now approaching beast. The soldier could not take aim as his arms were too weak. His rifle aimed at the general direction of the dragon. The soldier fired.
Loud bursts of gunfire rang out. Bullets cut through the air towards the dragon. The dragon was too far and the bullets already started falling to the ground even before it could touch the dragon.
A little closer now, thought the soldier, a little closer.
The soldier’s rifle rattled fiercely, and suddenly, it stopped.
“Not now!” screamed the soldier. It was the most unfortunate time to have a bullet round stuck in the rifle’s chamber.
The soldier desperately discharged the stuck round. He gave aim again and fired.
The dragon was now within the rifle’s range. Bullets rained on its hard body armour. Some bullets managed to pierce into its leathery wings. The dragon was superficially hurt, but still hurt. It gave an angry roar, and began to inhale very deeply.
The soldier knew what that meant.
“Just a little more,” the soldier muttered, “Open your mouth to papa.”
The soldier’s plan was to fire into the dragon’s mouth just as the it was about the blow its flames on him. He mustered all his remaining strength to steady his rifle, raising the cross-hairs to the approaching monster.
The dragon had inhaled enough. It pushed its head towards the soldier, stretching its neck. The inner walls of its throat pulled back, mixing its flammable venom with phosphorous sparks triggering just behind its tongue.
The soldier knew it was time. He squeezed the trigger.
Bullets from the rifle were unleashed. The soldier’s aim was great. Some of the bullets drilled painfully into the dragon’s gums, some grazed its tough leathery tongue. One headed directly to its throat.
The sparks in the dragon’s mouth caught onto the spraying venom. A combustion occurred and an explosion is ignited. The bullet that was approaching the dragon’s throat melted in a flash.
A burning liquid hell began to spray out of the dragon’s mouth. The soldier’s rifle went silent as the last bullet round flew uselessly towards the flames. Didn’t bring enough ammo, thought the soldier. A million thoughts went through his mind in that one millisecond, like the fact that it did not matter even if he had brought the entire platoon’s ammo because he would not have enough time to change the magazine anyway.
What else came to mind? One of them was that he should have aimed for the dragon’s eyes, which would have cut its vision and hurt him very badly. He already realised a split second ago that the idea about shooting into the dragon’s mouth was not a good idea at all.
If only the soldier had planned his attack better. If only he had studied his enemy better. If only he came with an army. If only, if only.
Tears filled the soldier’s eyes as the flames sped towards him. One might think that the soldier was crying because he was defeated, but one would also think that those were tears of joy because he got to see what he had always wanted to. He lived to see a dragon, and now that he did. Was not that all that mattered?
The soldier was not sure, because he was entirely transfixed on the glorious fire. He used to hear that before anyone dies, their lives would flash before their eyes. He did see a flash though, but that was something else.
It did not matter now.