Insult to Injury
Would he be fast enough? Could he get away? What if he didn’t? The thoughts in his head were not nearly as fast as his feet upon the forest floor, but both were moving alright. Every step was agony. Every stride hurt, but he couldn’t stop, even when his muscles ached to stop. If he did stop, he was finished. He saw a large trunk on the ground, and he knew that he had no choice but to jump it. Each moment, he got closer and closer, and, trying his hardest, he jumped. It might have been enough, had there not been a solid branch just above it. With a quick, fluid motion, he leg was broken, caught by the branch and twisted. He fell to the ground, screaming out in agony. It was shattered, and he, unless he found something to hold him up, he wouldn’t be walking. And even if he found something suitable, he was easy pickings anyway. Slowly, he waited, clutching his leg, crying lightly, awaiting the face of his killer. While the movements were nearly silent, the boy’s adrenaline was pumping like crazy, and he could hear each footfall as it approached. He just lied on the ground, waiting. Sure enough, the head of the dragon appeared over the log, looking at him with extreme interest. The boy screamed and began to attempt to crawl away, always watching the predator. In turn, the dragon jumped the log gracefully and walked up almost casually to the boy. He couldn’t stop struggling, fighting to keep himself alive. But the dragon seemed to almost stop paying attention to the boy. Or, at least, most of him. The dragon was staring at the broken leg, watching it as the boy limply dragged it along the ground. Suddenly, it reached out and set a foot out onto the boy’s leg, and he yelled out in pain, once again attracting the dragon’s attention to the boy. Gently, it moved towards the boy’s body and pinned his underfoot. While the dragon wasn’t much larger than the kid, he was much stronger, and the boy was too exhausted to try and free himself. The dragon had a curious aura about it, and they stared at one another for a little while. Then, cautiously, the dragon began to move its head towards the boy’s. In response, the boy covered his face, most specifically his eyes, and awaited the feeling of sharp teeth impaling into his skull or neck. He began to cry, wishing that he hadn’t decided on a stroll just a little while ago. But, instead of anything sharp, he felt something warm and scaly brush up against his hands. Slowly, he uncovered his face to see the dragon, smiling down on him. “Shhhh…” the dragon’s voice was calm, “It’s okay. You’re okay. I’m not going to hurt you.” The boy felt a bit better by this reassurance, but he wasn’t positive. “You aren’t? Or are you lying?” The dragon smiled. “I’m not lying,” he said flatly, “Your leg is broken. If I was going to hurt you, I could have already done it.” Relief began to flow through the boy’s body. “What’s your name?” the dragon asked, smiling slightly. “Ilbv.” The dragon cocked his head. “I’ve never heard a name like that before.” The boy nodded, and the dragon simply smiled. “My name is Alex.” The dragon slowly relinquished the pressure it was exerting to keep the boy still, and Ilbv relaxed as a result. Alex, however, once again turned his attention to the broken leg. “Shattered,” he said gravely, “Sorry about that. I never meant to hurt you.” “How…how long do you think it’ll stay broken?” Alex sighed. “Probably a week or so, if I brace it.” Acting fast, the dragon took a large, sturdy branch, and pulled down so vines from a nearby tree. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but it was enough to retain the leg’s shape. Then, for the tricky part, Alex covered Ilbv’s eyes. With his other hand, and a careful hesitation, he set the bone back into position, more or less. Ilbv’s screams shook Alex to his core, and he was beginning to wonder that was a good idea. After all, he probably didn’t come from far away. But he had acted, and even if there were others close by to help, they’d have something to work with. Tears were streaming down the boy’s face, and empathy began to well up in the dragon. He now desired to keep the boy safe, at least until his injuries had healed. Alex gently stroked Ilbv’s forehead and sighed. “It hurts?” The boy nodded, and the dragon sighed. Maybe he could find someone human to help him, but who knew how long that would take. And the boy would be in tremendous pain the entire time. But, as Alex continued thinking, he came up with an idea. But he knew it would probably scare Ilbv. I just had to assure him of his safety, and maybe I could help him. He gently patted the boy’s head. “It’ll be alright, little one. I…I have an idea…to help you get better…but I’ll need you to trust me.” Without hesitation, Ilbv nodded. But little did he know what Alex had planned for him. The dragon licked him across the face, both as a gesture of affection and also as a taste-test. Ilbv, who was still oblivious, laughed as he wiped a bit of the saliva off, before remembering the pain. Alex decided that it was now or never, so he gently pinned Ilbv down. “What…what are you doing?” the boy was becoming nervous. If he panicked, he could risk injuring himself. Alex wasted no time as he placed the boy’s head in his mouth and began to swallow him. The boy’s body began to try and retaliate, but as Alex progressed past his shoulders, both of them knew that there was little that could be done. Ilbv was very much scared of what was happening. The dragon had promised him that he was safe, yet he was eating him. The muscular esophagus was tight around him, and he winced, wondering how his leg would feel once it entered the throat as well. Alex got down to the boy’s hips before relaxing his pace. Only one leg could flail, but it was limp. Poor guy. He’s given up. He thinks this is the end. Pushing his thoughts aside, Alex took once more to the now extremely delicate task at hand: swallowing the remainder of the boy. He had to make sure not to injure the leg any further. So each gulp was exaggerated, slowly bringing in the boy. But, each swallow left less and less of him, and soon only his feet were left. Alex brought them into his mouth and closed his jaws gently. Then, deciding to show benevolence, he began to tickle the boy’s feet. While only one foot could feel anything other than pain, Ilbv started to giggle. But he tried to stop himself. He didn’t want the dragon to know that he was laughing. He felt hurt, betrayed by his newest, and possibly last, friend. Then, suddenly, he felt his journey begin to shift left, and he was quickly pressed into a large, muscular sac. The dragon’s stomach. Upon entering, Ilbv was blinded for a second, before his eyes adjusted. Inside of the dragon’s gut was something he never expected. A glowing blue slime was lighting up the belly around him, almost like a cave filled with glow-worms. A few seconds later, and the rest of him entered the stomach as well. Ilbv closed his eyes gently, terrified that this would be the end. Then, he opened his eyes in shock as the fleshy walls around him compressed in on him. Alex, in turn, belched happily, before he lied down on his back, stroking his gut...
...The boy hadn’t responded when he had been tickled, and he wasn’t really moving. Alex was actually starting to get worried. He was in his storage stomach, but maybe the boy didn’t know. Of course the boy doesn’t know! I just ate him without any explanation! He was actually feeling a bit sad now. “Ilbv,” he called out softly, “Ilbv. Are you okay?” No response. The dragon sighed, but he felt like he had some time to explain himself. “Don’t worry, Ilbv. You’re safe. I promise you that you’re safe. I…ate you…in order to protect you. You’re in my storage stomach. You’re safe so long as you stay in there. Please, I just wanted to put you to sleep so that you wouldn’t hurt anymore. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. I’m sorry.” There was silence except for the occasional gurgle of his tummy. Tears began to form in Alex’s eyes. He had truly betrayed his new friend, and he was almost certain that this experience had caused significant trauma to the young boy. But then, he heard a gentle sigh. “You…you just wanted to keep me safe?” Ilbv was feeling bad. He hadn’t trusted Alex, and he was afraid now that he’d just lost his new friend. Not to mention the fear that Alex may end up deciding that he wasn’t worth the trouble. Ilbv shuddered at the thought. “Yes, little one.” Alex pressed his snout into the belly gently, hoping to comfort Ilbv. The boy felt the gentle pressure on his head, and he sighed. “I’m…I’m sorry I didn’t trust you. I was…just afraid you were going to kill me.” Alex smiled to himself. “You don’t have to be sorry. I should have told you what I planned to do. I just didn’t want to scare you anymore than I had to.” Another silence erupted, but it was filled with happy feelings. They both knew that they were friends still. Ilbv yawned slightly and rested his head back. “I’m getting sleepy. Can I…sleep in here?” “Of course,” Alex assured him, “When you wake up, you’ll be in good hands. I bet humans are better at healing humans than dragons are.” Ilbv chuckled. “Maybe. Well, thank you, Alex.” Alex sighed. “You’re welcome Ilbv. Sleep well.” And, as the boy fell asleep, covered in blue slime and snuggling up to the fleshy stomach walls, he was content to have made a new friend. Maybe going on that stroll hadn’t been so bad after all.