You trip in front of a puddle and fall. Straight through it. To another dimension.
It’s been one hell of a day. I woke up late and I missed my train. I ended up having to wait 30 minutes for the next train making me an hour late for work. In my three years of employment I’ve never been late, today was just the wrong day to run into bad luck. They were making an example out of everyone that came in late today. We were fired, immediately. I packed up my things and got on the train back home. I was carrying the box with my office stuff inside which made me an easy target. I knew better, and not following my gut instincts cost me when they took off with my purse. Now I was broke and had no job to replenish what the muggers took from me. On the way home from the train it started pouring. I was carrying this stupid box with no umbrella and getting soaked to the bone. I dropped the box and all its contents into the garbage. I was disgusted with the fact that I brought it with me at all. There was nothing there worth all this aggravation. I blew out a frustrated breath as I took cover from the downpour on one of the covered benches.
When the rain finally stopped, I got up and started walking. There were puddles everywhere which was to be expected. I smiled as I jumped from spot to spot avoiding the puddles but nearly falling in the process. I laughed out loud when I landed on my feet successfully after a particularly huge jump. Feeling exhilarated and a little bold, I saw my next puddle jump, though it looked a little different. The puddle looked like the water had a slick layer of oil on top making it ripple with a rainbow of colors. I didn’t think much of it and jumped anyway. I almost cleared the jump landing on my toes. I teetered back and forth before I finally lost my balance and fell backwards into the water. To my utter surprise, I didn’t hit the ground, I fell through it.
I fell for what felt like ten minutes but was probably only seconds. It was bizarre the strange swirling colors that I saw as I fell. At first I thought I must’ve hit my head hard and was hallucinating, but I was suddenly thrust through the earth. I flew through the air briefly before landing on my butt, in a puddle of murky water. When I looked up I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t know where I ended up, but I knew it was not my Earth. I wondered if perhaps I had fallen into another dimension because we didn’t have dragons on my Earth and here they were everywhere. I was mystified as I stared up at them. They were more beautiful than I could’ve ever imagined. There were dragons of every color and size and they were freely roaming and flying around. As I took it all in I realized there were no people anywhere, nor were there any tall buildings. Any existing buildings lay in ruins. As I struggled to get up I was noticed by a beautiful amethyst dragon. It’s body and tips of its wings seemed to glow a bright fuchsia. I was so caught up in it’s beauty that I didn’t realize how much danger I was in. The dragon opened its mouth as the fire started to ignite, but before I could become a barbequed human I was tackled to the ground just as the fire came down upon us.
Whatever it was that was holding me down was covered in a fire retardant suit because there was no intense screaming or melting going on by this person. I could tell they were trying to shield my body with their own so that I wouldn’t get burned. They must’ve done a decent job because as I felt the heat flow over my body, but I didn’t feel pain. As soon as the fire receded the mystery savior scooped me up in their arms and ran. I looked around as they ran, completely bewildered by all of this and wondered where would we go that would be safe from dragons? I saw it not a minute later. There was a small building up ahead that looked like it had taken a few hits from dragon fire. We walked inside and it was tiny. Barely enough room for three people to stand and he was about as big as two. I was guessing it was a he anyway. It was then that I finally took a good look at my savior. His suit was made of some kind of heavy black material. It had fins and spikes coming off if it in odd places. It also had streaks of fluorescent red that seemed to glow the way the dragon did. He even had a solid helmet on with long horns coming off the top. Honestly, I didn’t know how he could even see in there. It must’ve been to camouflage against the dragons and it worked because they didn’t come after us. My savior was facing my direction and I was wondering if he was staring at me. He pointed down at my legs as I stared at him trying to figure out what he wanted.
Just as I was about to ask what was going on he stomped on a metal plate in the floor. Ten seconds later it was swinging open and I was directed to climb down. As I descended into the unknown, I started smelling somewhat familiar smells. They were strangely mixed together. Lavender and cooking meat, bread and grease, cotton and dirt. The closer I got to the floor the stronger the mixes were. When I stepped away from the ladder I realized why. All the humans were here, underground. There was a city here larger than I would’ve ever imagined. Everywhere I turned there were people. They had shops selling all kinds of things from clothing to weapons. There were little shacks all over the place selling different kinds of food. I even spied a bar where people were drinking and singing merrily. This was all so very bizarre. I was given a not so subtle push as my savior guided me in the direction they wanted me to go. I could tell he was angry with me. Given that I had no idea what I was doing here, or where I was supposed to go, I walked without hesitation. As we walked down what I could only assume was a makeshift road I couldn’t help but notice all the little homes and activities going on down here.
We reached a building that seemed a little more official than everything else I’ve seen so far. It was cleaner and in pristine condition. When we walked inside it smelled sterile like antiseptic and was completely white. Not a speck of dirt to be found. This oddly disturbed me as much as the dragons. Everywhere else in this underground city seemed a little gritty and dirty. This place was way too clean. There was some mumbling going on ahead of me. The two people standing in front of me in all white with their hair pulled back severely from their faces wearing gloves and hairnets surveyed me as I waited. The three of them kept staring, whispering and gesturing to my legs. They were arguing with my savior, who still had not taken off his gear. I looked down at myself to see what all the fuss was about. I was disgustingly dirty. Falling through two muddy puddles didn’t help that. My hair was still dripping down my back and there was dirt everywhere. As I looked over the condition of my clothing I was a little taken back to see that my pants were half gone and the edges singed. What started off this morning as solid black slacks were tattered shorts that fell just above my knees. You could tell they had been through fire. That was odd since I didn’t get burned myself. I remember feeling the heat, especially over my legs but it didn’t hurt. It was oddly comforting. I shrugged as I continued looking over myself. The dirt and soot seemed to be sticking to my skin making it feel stiff and hard. I couldn’t wait to get clean.
I was brought out of my internal assessment by someone clearing their throat. When I looked up my savior had finally taken off their helmet and was watching me with a smoldering intensity that made me nervous while blushing at the same time. I was not expecting someone so ruggedly handsome under there. He had long black hair that clung to his face from the helmet. His grey eyes were framed with long lashes. There was a long scar that ran down the side of his face that somehow made him even more alluring. He had stubble growing in thick that framed his strong cheekbones and square jaw. The sterile people seemed to respect him and his authority and quickly moved out of his way as he pointed me to the door. I sighed audibly as I walked through the door and down the hall to a room with a table and two chairs. It was an interrogation room. I was promptly cuffed to the table after I sat down and wondered why they felt the need to cuff little ole’ me? I was a little thing. I was never taken seriously because I looked more like a teenager than a grown adult. I was only five feet tall and 110 on a good day. At 26 years old I still got dirty looks when I bought an alcoholic drink because they always assumed I was a teenager.
When he walked in, I could feel the power radiating off him. I didn’t even need to turn around to see him. I knew it was him. He slammed his helmet on the desk to intimidate me. It kind of worked. He slowly but gracefully sat down in his chair and proceeded to stare at me. He didn’t say a word. He didn’t even blink. It was making me extremely uncomfortable. What the hell was his problem? I started fidgeting unconsciously not knowing what to do with myself when he finally spoke.
“What the hell were you doing out there, alone?” His voice was deep and husky. It matched his brooding personality, but the tone of his question rubbed me the wrong way. It was an accusation. Like I did it on purpose. It pissed me off and made me want to be snarky. Which was strange because I’m wasn’t that girl. I was the quiet one that did what she was supposed to do, day in and day out without getting noticed.
“I was in the mood to become dragon barbeque.” I sassed right back at him as I stared him down. I couldn’t cross my arms over my chest because of the cuffs, so that was the best I could do. His eyes widened slightly and his eyebrows went up a bit at my sass. He wasn’t expecting that. I almost laughed because it was funny. This man didn’t get people who talked back to him, but I didn’t want to die, so I kept my laugh to myself.
With a deathly serious tone he asked again. “What were you doing out there little girl. Answer me honestly this time or I will drop you back where I found you.” He had a certain air of authority and smugness to him this time. It wasn’t helping to endear me to him at all.
“First off, I’m not a little girl. I’m 26 years old. Secondly, what the hell do you think? Do I look like any of the people here? Am I dressed the way your women are dressed? Did I react the way someone who’s grown up around dragons would? The answer to your question is quite obvious but I’ll spell it out for you since you’re being such a gentleman right now. I fell through a puddle in my world and landed here in your world. That’s about all I can offer you.” There were equal parts of sarcasm and agitation in my answer. I could give a shit if it pissed him off. I was grateful that he saved me but unhappy at being treated like a prisoner and a child.
He sat in contemplation for a moment taking in my answer. He kept looking me over and really staring at my person. “What do you mean you fell through a puddle into our world? What world did you come from?” His brow furrowed as his eyes squinted a bit.
“One that is completely different from this world. There are no dragons in my world. They are just a myth. We live above ground and are free to roam about without fear.” I said in a monotone voice.
My smug and cocky savior gaped openly at me. “What do you mean free to roam without fear? What hunts you?” He asked incredulously.
“Nothing, well, I guess just bad people.” I watched his face as he watched me in disbelief.
“I don’t believe you.” He said with venom in his voice. I shrugged carelessly. Not sure what he wanted from me. “If that is the case why don’t you seem eager to return?”
I thought about it for a moment. How do you explain this to someone who’s had to fight their entire lives for what they had. To constantly live in fear over something you had no control over. “I guess when you grow up in my world you take your existence for granted and you stop appreciating things. We don’t have to fight to stay alive the way you do. The world and the people in it become obsessed over materialistic things and we lose sight of what’s really important. It can be a very lonely existence when everyone is only looking out for themselves.” I was pretty sure he didn’t understand, but I honestly didn’t know how to explain it better. So I didn’t add anything else.
“Why didn’t your legs burn? I tried to keep them covered but I know I wasn’t able to cover them completely. Your pants were burned off and part of shoes have melted, but your legs are unscathed. Would you care to explain that?” There was an open curiosity in his question. He honestly just wanted to know.
I looked down at my legs again, confused. Did they get hit with fire? He was right. I didn’t notice before but the whole bottom layer of my shoes looked thinned out and fused with the rest of the shoe. I had already noticed my pants. “I don’t…I…I don’t know.” I stammered out as I looked down at my legs again. I had the overwhelming urge to touch them but my cuffs wouldn’t allow it. I was distressed about this information. If it was true what did it mean? Was I fireproof?
He must’ve sensed what I needed to do. I looked up and he was unlocking the cuffs so that my hands could be free. I dropped off the chair and pulled my legs to my chest. They felt like my legs. Nothing different. I rubbed my hands up and down my legs in a soothing manner, as I rested my head on my knees. I was lost in thought when he crouched in front of me. There was a tenderness there that I didn’t know such a hard man could possess.
“Are you alright?” He asked with concern in his eyes. I nodded briefly but didn’t speak aloud. After a few beats of silence he asked what I knew would come next. “Would you be willing to help us here?” There was a hopeful glint in his eyes. Maybe I was crazy for considering staying. I thought about my life on my earth. I thought about my sad and lonely apartment, about my lack of employment. I thought about how my parents were no longer around and how I felt utterly alone most days, but mostly I thought about how if I really was fireproof maybe I was meant to be here to help these people. That gave me hope and a purpose.
I looked up into that handsome face and smiled. “Yes, I think I would.”