Friday, April 19, 2013

Prompt: Steampunk Dragonmaker

Thanks to Shadows of the Dark for sharing this beautiful image!

Jeela peered down from her high perch on top of the stone shelves. The girl lay across the big table that took up most of the room. Her head rested on her outstretched arm, and she made the noises that meant water was leaking from her eyes. The monster had come in and stormed around the room, yelling at the girl and pushing papers off the big table. When he picked up a glass jar and smashed it on the floor, stinky blue smoke filled the room. He yelled louder and slammed his hands on the table.

But the girl didn’t cry until he left. When he slammed the heavy door shut and slid home the lockbar on the other side, she sank down and rested her forehead on the table. Her dark hair was bound up in the red scarf she wore draped around her neck. Jeela didn’t like to see the angry slash marks that lay under it. Her green dress had long sleeves that fit tight on her arms, baring her shoulders and hands. The brace on her left arm went from the tiny cage around her fingers all the way up to her elbow. The cage made her fingers move. Jeela knew it was heavy, because the girl sighed and rubbed her hand and arm every night when she unstrapped it. The skirt that draped around her legs hid more slash marks. Jeela knew they hurt the girl, even though they didn’t leak red any more.

The girl was so much braver than Jeela. Even lying there crying, her caged fingers twitched a mark maker over one of the big pieces of paper the monster had thrown across the table. Where they passed, they left marks, and sometimes pictures. Jeela liked the pictures, but she could not make any sense of the marks. Now Jeela felt bad that the girl was leaking eye water all alone.

She crept to the edge of the top shelf and stretched out her arms. The gears clicked as she fluttered her wings, but then she felt them drop into place and she could stretch them out full length. She launched into the air and swept her wings back and forth to lower herself slowly to the girl.

“Jeela, are you okay? It’s all right, little one. He won’t be back again tonight. He hates the smell of sour cabbage water, and the smoke will stick it in his clothing all night.” She smiled a little as she wiped her eyes. Jeela fluttered her paper-thin red wings and lashed her delicately jointed tail. She clicked her slender jaws together in a quiet laugh. She landed on the table and walked with careful steps across the paper, twitching her head back and forth and examining the girl’s marks.

The girl reached out with her good hand and gently stroked Jeela from her head all the way down her back to the tip of her tail. “What do you think, sweet Jeela? If I give him something for his builders to work on, perhaps he will let us out of here. They’ll never tell him when they realize it won’t work. I would never build a full-size dragon that could actually fly!”

Jeela ducked her long neck and looked up at the girl. It was her fault the monster had smashed the girl’s hand. He wanted more like Jeela. Bigger. Destroyers. She crept over and touched the girl’s finger cage with her snout. The gears clicked like her own wings as the fingers twitched up along her neck. Jeela liked that they had something in common. Besides being broken by the monster. He had pulled Jeela’s wings off, broken her tail, and thrown her to the ground when the girl refused to make big destroyer dragons. The girl had leaked eye water the whole time she put Jeela back together, whispering, “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! I shouldn’t have made you. I was so lonely, and I thought I could hide you.”

Jeela wanted to tell the girl her secret, but she didn’t know how. She clicked her tiny claws against the table in frustration. Suddenly, she had an idea. She reached out and picked up the girl’s mark maker in her jaws. The girls sat still and watched her, waiting to see what she would do. She held it up and tilted it up and down, getting the feel for its weight. Then she walked across the table to another piece of paper that didn’t have many marks on it yet. She flapped her wings gently, thinking. Then she touched the tip to the paper and watched the spot appear under her snout. She began to move the mark maker, pushing it across the paper. The girl watched, wide eyed. Suddenly, her lips stretched wide and she bared her teeth, but Jeela knew it was a happy face, not an angry one.

“Jeela, you’re so clever! I can’t believe it! Yes! I think it will work!” The girl looked around for another mark maker and picked it up in her good hand. Soon, she and Jeela were furiously drawing across the paper. Jeela clicked her jaws and flexed her wings with pride. The girl liked her secret. The girl understood. Soon they would have even more in common. Soon, the girl would be a dragon, too.

Dogs in house:
Houdini, Bacon, Brindle

April word count:


  1. No fair. You stopped too soon. I want more!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Hampton! This is a story I would like to continue, so perhaps Jeela will return with more adventures!

  2. Prompt: Steampunk Dragonmaker

    Jeana balled her fist against the resistance of the myriad of wires running to the wrist control. The tiny copper dragon curled on the table in front of her. She grinned. They said girls couldn't be mechanicers. She opened her hand. The dragon stretched up on his hind legs, wings out wide.

    Da-shealladh is strong in you, Grandmother had said. Stay away from mechanicals. Well, she had made her very own mechanical, and it worked just fine, thank you.

    The dragon began preening. Jeana started, then realised she had been tapping her fingers in agitation. She laughed. Her hand stretched with her laughter, and the dragon shook vigorously. She wondered if she had been a little too ambitious with the control mechanism. Father used a bodysuit to control his digger, which is where she had gotten the idea. But many mechanicals just used a simple control box.

    She leaned forward and rested her chin on clasped hands, and the dragon preened again. He picked at his foot with his mouth, then tilted his head. Jeana froze. She had not thought she had moved. The dragon curled his tail around his feet and lifted a clawed wing to her face.

    Her stomach flip-flopped. She definitely had not moved this time. Da-shealladh affects mechanicals, Grandmother had said. Jeana had assumed 'affects' meant 'disrupts'. But perhaps she had been wrong.

    Can you fly little one? she thought. The dragon launched himself into the air. Jeana pulled off the clunky wrist control. The dragon landed on her shoulder and nuzzled her ear.

    1. Ha! I love it! Love when the dragon starts to move on its own and she is not sure. Great ending! It would be interesting to know if Da-shealladh was only in women, hence why they "couldn't" be mechanics? I'd like to see more of this story! :)

  3. Awesome! I love that the dragon is the POV.

    1. Thanks :) POV tends to be my weakness, so this was fun to write. Lots to consider if I continue. First and foremost, I would have to name the girl ;) I was getting tired of calling her that. It wasn't clear to me how much Jeela actually understood speech, etc - no, I'm not entirely sure what she drew for the girl!

      I really liked your story on this one, too.