Jolyn shook the dead flashlight in the
vain hope that it would enlighten her
world once more. But of course the
damn thing remained as dark as ever.
She tucked the light back into her bag
and stroked her hand over the rough
wall of the cave. She was only about ten
minutes into this “spelunk” and could
still go back if she had to. And if she
had been with anyone else, she would
But she really didn’t need the flashlight
to continue. She blinked slow and hard.
Think of the need. She needed her wild
eyes. Others had less kind names for
her odd glowing eyes that she could use
at will. When she needed to walk among
the humans, she could put away her
differences and blend in, never to be
noticed at all. The past had shown her
camouflage was her best means of
If the humans didn’t notice her, then they wouldn’t hunt her.
When the humans grew fearful or blood thirsty, people got hurt. Their pain would be hers and that wasn’t a thing she ever wanted to experience again. Her closest friend, Edith, once called her memories of the last hunt a “magnificent tale”. No matter how Jolyn tried to explain, her friend never understood the evil that lurked within Jolyn’s pale body. Under the ivory skin burned cold, glittering scales. Behind her silver eyes was the face of a monster. And under her ice blond hair waited the mind of a calculating killer.
And all of it was barely controlled during the best of times. She’d found a small niche in the current world as a geologist. She had poured very little blood on the ground in this century. But in previous ones, she hadn’t been so lucky.
Maybe she shouldn’t continue into the cave. Using her wild eyes would give the beast a stronger hold within her body.
No, she would continue. She was alone and unlikely to hurt anyone. She’d held good control for a couple centuries now. The beast should be easy to control here within the earth, where it was most content. For some reason this cave system called to her and to the beast. There was something here that held meaning. Maybe even a clue to her past or a reason for why she was bound to the beast.
Her fingers caressed the stone, asking permission to move within the belly of the earth. She asked then waited. If there was one thing needed to speak with stone, it was patience. Lucky for her, she had that in great quantity most days. She hadn’t always, though. She’d learned patience from the monks in Tibet. She would still be there if not for the beast.
That had been in the sixteen hundreds or so. Something had angered that evil and drawn it out with vengeance. She’d forced the beast to flee, so that it wouldn’t turn her friends into monk-ka-bobs. Sometime after that, when the beast had once again been reined in, she’d returned to Tibet only to be turned away. Brother Ling said she had completed her training, but the flash of fear in his eyes betrayed him.
From there, something called her to the new land to the west. South America had been lovely and warm. Familiar as if, she’d been there before. Whatever had called her left a hole of emptiness.
Whatever dream the beast had been chasing deserted them both there in rainforests of Brazil, and with the dream gone, all that was left was a deep loneliness. She clearly remembered the day she had collapsed in the ruins of an ancient civilization and sobbed out all her pain. Each tear had fallen and been taken in by the stone. Something in the temple had welcomed her sadness and echoed it out to the world. The storm, that came and drove her deeper into the ruins, was the blessing that had led her to this cave.
Inside the ruins she found proof of others like her. Great symbols carved into the walls and ceilings. Worn statues showed the beast that was within her, the same and yet not the same.
She wasn’t alone.
The thought of others like her was both a comfort and a new terrifying reality. One thing she was certain of was that the temple was a starting place for her search. For almost a century after that, she researched the people of the area and their language. She did it all so that she could decipher the meaning of the temple carvings.
The information had led her here. If she and the beast were right, then another like her claimed these caves as its den. Her body tingled with the need to move forward, to seek out this other.
Yet, Jolyn waited.
The beast tore its claws into her, demanding she move on toward the source. She too felt the summons. It was far different from the one that had drawn her to South America. That call had been no more than a whisper. This one was a demanding growl.
The stone vibrated under her palm in welcome. Jolyn opened her glowing eyes and moved deeper. Her ears roared while her more powerful senses burrowed to the surface. The cave flooded her mind with a jumble of sensation. The textures and colors fluttered before her. The time for hesitation was past. Soon she would have answers.
The beast sank its claws deeper, pleading for release. It cried out for the freedom that it was so often denied. Would it be safe to let loose here beneath the ground? Could she maintain control and force it back if there was danger to anyone? This expedition like so many others was for the beast as much as herself. All it wanted was to find the source. There would be no hunting, no killing.
Jolyn relaxed the bars of her control.
Usually, the moment she relaxed, the beast jumped to claim its powers, surging outward and reshaping her womanly body into its own. This time was different. It did surge into her mind and outward with all its overwhelming senses, but it lingered back without claiming her body.
Air whooshed from her lungs. Reprieve, even if brief was always welcome.
Jolyn and the beast moved through the caves. At some point she dropped her pack. The beast’s senses made the cave more than manageable without man-made equipment. The walls and floor were rough but fairly even. Each divided hallway offered a choice that the beast quickly answered.
Without doubt, they moved toward the source of energy. If right, what would she find? What did she even hope to find?
Jolyn let the beast lead her body forward. She wanted family. Always she had been without and that was the only thing that continued to cause her pain. Family would understand her differences. Family would help her find ways to cope with the beast at its less manageable times.
One day she had awakened without memories. Those around her said she’d been found naked in the woods. They thought her family must have been attacked by the raiding party of another group. She stayed with them for a couple months until they decided she was old enough to marry. She tried to tell their women that she wasn’t yet grown. She hadn’t even started what they called moon blood. But the elders insisted.
And the beast within had burst free, resisting in fear and anger. It had been wild and deadly, leaving none alive. And it hadn’t given her back her body for some time after that.
The memories of that horrible day no longer had her on her knees choking on bile, but they still pained her. They were the reason she struggled to control the beast and always hesitated to let it free. There were other times that the beast tore free and killed, but those first deaths were the ones that haunted her.
Up ahead, she heard the rush of running water. She could feel the vibrations through her shoes and almost see the waves of energy in the air. Water held a power to it. Moving water energized all around it, releasing its energy for any to claim.
The thought that this beast had sought out water concerned her. If it was another like her, was it perhaps injured or ill? Either way, her feet carried her on.
A new sound began to thud through her mind. Although less overwhelming than the pounding water, it held another importance. And obviously spoke to the beast as well. Thud, thud, thud. The steady beat grew louder as they approached. Her own heart tried to match the rhythm, but instead found a double beat to each of the other’s. Each corresponding crash sent waves of awareness through her.
The beast shuddered within.
Another growled back in answer. A gust of breath nearly shoved Jolyn from her footing where the cave flared outward into a wide chamber. One side of the chamber was the focus of the rushing water which fell from above into a large pool then flowed out to the other side in an underground river.
On the other side awaited the source.
Jolyn’s thin frame shuddered once more then burned and surged as the beast formed her body into its own. The burning faded as she became a spectator in this meeting. Her beast stepped them forward toward the source, toward the greatest of beasts. More than her mind could ever have imagined. The beauty of his serpentine form and glorious wings stunned her. This beast dwarfed her forty foot golden body. Where she had always felt her dragon body ungainly, this one shifted its enormous size with grace.
“Jolyn?” The voice whispered into her mind. His great head snaked forward. “You live or do I only dream?” The giant beast’s glittering eyes focused on her across the distance of the room.
She tried to form the words but her dragon lips refused. The beast that carried her shivered in anticipation. Although she had no memories of him, her beast must have some instinctive connection. Whoever this was, his opinion mattered greatly.
“Do I imagine you before me? Has the last vestige of my sanity slipped away?” His words slipped through her painfully.
Jolyn focused on projecting her thoughts like this other did so easily. “I come, but I don’t remember.” How could she explain to this one who obviously knew her, that she had no memories of him. The beast was male, of that she was sure. But how was she bound to him?
He shifted closer, his great wings unfurling above him. The creature’s wing tips nearly scraping the fifty foot ceiling. “What do you remember young one?” His tone filled with a deep longing.
Did he search for companionship as she had? Why was he here? Were they alone or could there be more of them? The questions flooded through her. “I remember nothing of you. Who are you? How do you know my name?”
He projected a flare of bright emotion that hit her and took her breath. His pain and loneliness and menacing rage shoved any thoughts of her own away. Then it all passed with a wash of infinite patience. “You truly do not remember?” The longing filled his tone once again along with something deeper, like resignation.
What was it that she should remember? She thought back to any possible memories of other beasts. In her dreams she often saw a great bluish white beast soaring high above. In nightmares she saw the black one. But this great one before her was neither. He was the burnished red of the long burning flame. In some places he was darker like blood long dried.
“Come closer child. Come here and I will tell you who I am.” His voice beckoned her, summoned her obedience as well as welcomed her deeper into the lair. “Come closer and I will tell you who you are.”
Jolyn tried to emulate the great one’s smooth motion as she crossed the river and settled before his opaque, sad, blue eyes. Whatever ancient truths this one held were not ones of kindness and easy love. “Please, I wish to know who you are.”
“Rest, child. It will all be revealed in time. Now that you have come, I will tell you all about myself and any other answers you wish to know.” A surge of energy flashed and she suddenly was drawn directly to the great beast’s side. His will embraced her, taking away hers, leaving fear, leaving her without any control.
She fought against his domination for one futile moment. Panic engulfed her as his blood-red wing lowered over her, shutting out the quiet world. Then the panic faded leaving only a sudden, almost empty feeling of peace. Jolyn’s beastly body sprawled to the cave floor as her mind yielded to his will.
“My dear little Jolyn... Much has come between us. You will have to tell me all about where you have been these many centuries.” His enormous body settled to the floor, raising a small puff of dust as evidence of his long occupation. His body shifted and curved, encircling her with his length. His wing brushed gently in a caress. He turned his head around and rested it before her. One of his glittering eyes shining back at her.
“But who are you?” Her whispered thought came forth unbidden. And with it broke the dangerous tension that told her she was trapped here and helpless. Instead of imprisoned, she finally understood, she was being protected and cherished. And just as suddenly she knew who this was. “Father?” The word was unfamiliar, but his answering flood of affection was a blessing that warmed her.
Jolyn had found family and a place to rest.
The end for now...
you can read more about Jolyn at her father's blog,