Dragons Among Us
C. L. Kraemer
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Aleda crawled from her sleeping bag and, individually, stretched her muscles. She’d always enjoyed camping. It was the only time she slept well. Something about the unpolluted air, the nights sounds of nature and knowing there were no other people about produced a sleeping potion no doctor could recreate. She dressed warmly against the morning chill and meandered to the stream to get water for coffee and cooking. Not having done much the day before, her ravenous hunger puzzled her.
“Must be the good mountain air.” She made coffee, scrambled eggs, and toasted bread with a slender wire camp toaster, which she held over the fire. As she sat in her chair enjoying the taste of food and quiet of the surrounding woods, hair on the back of her neck began to stand on end and her skin tingled. She shook off the feeling and poured another cup of coffee. The sensation of eyes observing her movements overpowered her senses and her amulet began humming, the sound increasing in volume with each passing minute.
“Enough!” Aleda tossed her plastic plate to the table with a clatter, stomped to her tent and retrieved a heavy coat. “I’ll nip this foolishness in the bud, right now!”
She hesitated as she started to storm from the camp. Camera. Quickly returning to her tent, she stomped away from her personal sanctuary, Nikon in hand, stomach complaining. Half a dozen paces from the camp, after wreaking a rushing flurry of birds into flight, Aleda realized, if she was to find out what was inducing her amulet to hum and her hair to stand on end, she would need to slow her pace—think before she stumbled into trouble. She proceeded into the stand of trees serving as the backdrop for her camp. Sauntering to nearest the evergreen, she placed her hand on the bark and felt a buzzing sensation tickle her palm. Aleda stumbled backward, dumbfounded by the commotion stirring within her. Logic and reason said she shouldn’t be sensing anything by touching the tree.
“This whole trip is turning out to be totally illogical.”
Aleda narrowed her eyes and concentrated on the skin of the tree. She began to see small creatures scurrying up and down the grooved surface of the bark, the scene recalling the Marquam Bridge merging into I-5 at rush hour. She pulled deeply of the air surrounding her and discovered she could taste ponderosa, yellow pine and western larch trees tinged by intermittent bursts of avalanche lily, trillium and huckleberry. Another deep breath captured faint blackberry and raspberry sensations. Standing very still and concentrating with an intensity she’d never utilized, Aleda began to recognize the buzz of life around her. In her ears, insect sounds whispered from every direction, her skin reverberated with the movement of air caused by birds flying and bees busy with spring activities. When the scene before her began to waver and tiny flashes of white light popped in her vision, Aleda realized she’d quit breathing. She pulled air into her lungs and crumbled to the soft pine needle and moss covered forest floor.
"All in all I was very impressed with this author’s imagination and the ability to bring the story to life for me within the pages of her book. It held my attention and kept me wondering what was next throughout the pages." Courtney Rene for Rogue's Angles
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