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       Frostbite, p.2

           Adrienne Woods
 

  The walls started to shake and the students who were inside the cafeteria made their way outside in total hysteria.

  “Elena, deep breaths, calm yourself.” Chef was in front of me with his hands up in defense. He had to arch his neck and he made his voice thick as he yelled the words.

  “Do as he says, Elena. Calm down,” Sammy was yelling from below on my other side. “Should I turn?” she asked Chef softly, but whispers were no longer soft to my sensitive ears. They sounded as if they had been spoken directly to me.

  “No, it might only rile her up more.”

  The opposite wall and roof came closer and I wished that I could stop growing. What was going on? I was big, but never big like this.

  The pain from the lightning burned my stomach and I had to release it.

  “She’s going to blow,” Chef yelled as Sir Edward stormed into the cafeteria. Suddenly, a purple lightning bolt hit the wall. Bricks spattered and more light from outside streamed in. For some reason the word “escape” played around inside my head.

  Students popped their heads inside the newly formed hole, nosy little brats. They flinched away fast as a second bolt exited my mouth. This was exactly what had happened the last time.

  It began with me not wanting to breathe lightning on them but the minute I started I couldn’t stop, or let me rephrase, I didn’t want to stop.

  I would see Paul in all of them and in less than a minute I was going to forget that my name was Elena and I would become her, destroying everyone in my path, even my friends. That last thought was barely through my mind when everything around me went black.

  FOUND MYSELF IN a very confined space. Little insignificant rodents on two legs scattered around me. An urge to scorch their asses developed deep inside my gut and I could feel my thunder coiling inside my belly.

  Two of them spoke to me, calling me Elena.

  Who the hell is Elena?

  I blew one with my lightning and growled as a pain so strong moved through my body. I looked down and watched in horror as my talons changed length and the scales on my paws turned a deeper purple, almost red.

  My snout burned like fire as a stabbing and tearing pain shot along my jaw line.

  I could hear the small rodents yelling out orders to put out the flames and I heard the sound of magic killing my thunder. I looked up as the pain vanished and saw the last bit of my purple thunder being destroyed. The only thing was, it wasn’t purple fire they were trying to put out, but a pink one.

  The small rodents on their two legs gasped and I saw that the one with pale long hair had gotten away from my earlier blast.

  I breathed another and a second pain tore through my belly. This time purple thunder didn’t come out but a fire so strong it felt as if it was going to disintegrate my core. I caught a part of my reflection in broken glass pieces on the floor and an ugly purple mutt with sprouts hanging from its chin was reflected back at me. That mutt didn’t belong to me, and the fear of what was happening became stronger than my revenge. The only thing I knew was that if I didn’t get away, they would trap me and destroy whatever I’d become.

  I took flight and more walls came crashing down. I pushed myself up through the roof and what I thought would leave a mother of a headache only left a small twinge as I blasted through the brick. It felt as if the change had made me stronger and my endurance for pain had grown larger. Still, the fear of what they could do to me was overpowering my being.

  I didn’t know that fire, I didn’t trust it and Momma always told me not to trust the things you didn’t know.

  Momma? What had happened to her? Where is she in all of this? Why have I been asleep for so long?

  The wind beneath my wings was unstable. I felt woozy as if I’d forgotten how to fly. Everything tumbled down and I couldn’t remember anything she’d taught me. Not that any of it mattered.

  I heard a shrill screeching sound behind me and I turned my gaze to see who dared to follow me.

  It was another dragon, brass in color, and it flew fast in my direction. It let out another shrill scream, and anger heated up the new flame that was burning my throat. I opened my mouth and breathed the pink fire again. The dragon missed it by an inch and froze in mid-air.

  Keep your distance was the thought that went through my mind. I didn’t want to hurt whoever that was but I was behind enemy lines and none of this looked familiar. I was far from home.

  I tried to remember what Momma told me about flying and dove forward, but I ended up in a tumble and couldn’t regain my balance.

  These weren’t my wings, this wasn’t my body, this was nothing like me.

  A deep sadness at the reality of not being able to remember anything crept into the core of my heart and I didn’t see the treetops. One hit me straight in the face and another connected with my entire body. I came crashing down as more trees fell, and roots and vines tangled in my talons and around my body. When I came to a stop I tried to move, but it was no use. I wanted to breathe fire again but I stopped as my instinct told me that I would burn this entire forest down with me trapped inside. I inhaled deeply and tried hard to control myself. With every breath I felt as though I could think more clearly. My heart rate decreased and the burning sensation that had coiled inside my body began to cool. An ache for someone was the only emotion that stayed with me, and then everything started to fade

  .

  Y EYES WERE closed and I could hear a deep, raspy breathing filling the silence around me.

  My body ached and the intensity of the sounds assaulting my sensitive ears told me that I was still in my dragon form.

  What the hell had happened and where I was, I didn’t know.

  My memory was all a blur after Amy pushed me against the wall and I began speaking to her in that horrible voice, releasing that first bolt of purple lightning. I tried to recollect my thoughts and it slowly came back to me in flashes: I’d changed.

  The picture that formed inside my mind wasn’t the Thunderlight that had been reflected back to me from the glass that lay on the floor; it was the face of another dragon, dark and dangerous.

  I turned to see the colored scales on my paw and found a deep purple-red reflecting back. The Rubicon.

  No, this can’t be. I tried to move but was trapped. I couldn’t turn or break free from whatever held me to the ground and that stirred more panic within me.

  I froze as I heard a voice. The beast inside of me wanted to take over again, and whatever it wanted to do, it wasn’t good. I’d known that from the beginning and nobody had wanted to believe me.

  I could hear three hearts beating, and even more voices spoke softly to one another.

  “What the fuck?”

  “Watch your language, Blake,” a man said sternly.

  “Just be careful. Sir Edward says that she is a Rubicon,” a woman said, frantically.

  “Oh, come on. Only one Rubicon can live at a time, Constance.”

  “I’m just repeating what Sir Edward said.”

  I growled as they came nearer.

  “She’s here,” the one who’d sworn yelled close to my side and I growled all the more.

  “Is she okay?” the woman asked. I knew I shouldn’t be afraid of them, but I was. It was such a strange feeling. This happened every time I became her. I wouldn’t remember anything and I didn’t know if they were friends or enemies. I knew that in another five minutes, give or take, everything would come back. But I didn’t have five minutes, they were here now.

  My heart was pounding a thousand beats a minute and I couldn’t calm it down. My belly warmed up and I could feel the lightning burning inside my throat once again. I tried my best to contain it as my dragon eyes took in the tall trees surrounding me.

  One blast of lightning would set this entire forest aflame and I would surely die, choking in the suffocating smoke of my own rage and fear.

  “She’s still in her dragon form.” The voice was right behind me again. “Elena.” He spoke gently.

  I
couldn’t turn around. My body was in a lot of pain and the lightning coiled inside my stomach like a viper begging for a reason to strike.

  Stop this, I yelled inside my mind but it just kept boiling.

  Trying to control it made it worse and the pain was so intense that it felt as if I was going to explode.

  The guy laughed near me but it wasn’t him anymore, it was Paul. For some reason I always remembered Paul. He came into sight. “Look at you, a dragon, and not just any dragon, another Rubicon. Goran is going to be pleased, Elena.”

  Another Rubicon? How can this be?

  The heat in my body rose a couple of degrees and I released my purple lightning. The only problem was, it wasn’t purple, it was a vibrant pink fire.

  Paul blocked it with an invisible force and the flames backfired onto my scales. It felt warm, familiar. He came closer and grabbed me by the whiskers that had suddenly sprung out of my chin.

  Whiskers I’d never had. Then he laughed again. I released another breath but he froze my fire. The features on his face slowly began to morph into the face I had seen before it had turned into Paul.

  Blake? Everything came back in a split-second wave crashing down over me.

  “I’m sorry,” I yelled and the green of the trees became brighter. I could feel my skin soaking up an invisible cloak.

  “Are you calm?” Blake yelled.

  I nodded my ugly head, but the whiskers he had a firm grip on hurt my chin. “I’m scared,” my deep voice whispered back.

  Constance and Master Longwei came into view, and my fear evaporated as I recognized them.

  “Why can’t I control her?” Oh no. I dug my head into my paws as Sammy’s figure jumped into my mind. I’d blown fire at her when she’d tried to follow me. I’d almost killed my best friend.

  A whimpering sound left my body, reminding me of the calls made between whales; a sound that always brought me to tears.

  “Are you sure you are calm?” Blake asked again.

  “She’s calm, Blake. We need to get her out of this,” Constance said, and for the next couple of minutes they spoke all sorts of incantations and I began to feel the grip the roots and vines had on me starting to weaken.

  When I was finally free, Blake’s spoke again. “Can you move?”

  I didn’t answer. They should just leave me here. I couldn’t face Sammy or what I’d done to the cafeteria.

  “Look at me,” he demanded.

  I didn’t do what he asked.

  “Elena, look at me,” he yelled this time.

  “No!”

  I could hear his steps coming closer.

  He grabbed my whiskers again, and turned my head by force to look at him. It didn’t even hurt this time. He stared at me for a short while. Then something I’d never seen in his eyes before emerged. It was as if he’d finally found the answers to all his problems.

  His mouth curved slightly upwards. He really was so beautiful. The slight curve of his lips transformed into his million-dollar smile. One I’d only seen that first day my eyes had fallen on him, the same one that resembled my father’s and the one that would make every girl turn to goop on the spot.

  Blake helped me like the last time I’d had to transform back into my human form. It still wasn’t easy as the shift was just as painful as the changing into a dragon part. It became a bit easier, though, to clear my mind when he was near.

  Constance covered my naked body with a robe the minute my human figure re-surfaced and all the scales and talons were gone. When I lifted my head slowly, I found Blake still sitting on his haunches in front of me.

  “Thanks,” I mumbled and clutched the robe tighter around my body.

  “You’re welcome,” he chuckled again, ending it with a huff. He looked down at the floor for a short second and the expression of what I’d seen earlier in his eyes became evident on his face. He stood up and walked toward Master Longwei.

  Constance helped me up and the woods that had looked so small before gave me the opposite impression now. Most of the trees around us lay flat, bent at their trunks in sort of a sad bow. We had to climb over them to get out of the woods and I closed my eyes to the destruction around me. This could never happen again.

  Constance stayed close to me and carried most of my weight as we walked. I felt drained and tired, as if I could sleep for a whole month. My eyes found hers and she gave me a soft smile and a squeeze. How had everything gotten so messed up?

  I wasn’t just a dragon, I was a Rubicon. Nothing made sense. How can there be one special dragon for the light that can turn into a dragon meant for the dark?

  “I thought only one Rubicon lived at a time?” I whispered to Constance.

  “That’s true, but ever since you came to Paegeia Elena, plenty of things have happened that we just don’t have answers for,” Constance said quietly.

  “Yay me,” I sulked.

  She giggled softly. “See, you’re almost back to normal.”

  It was silent for a while as we tried to find a way out of the woods. “It’s not so bad. You’ll get used to her,” Constance tried to reassure me.

  “I don’t think it’s the “getting used to her” part I should be worrying about.” I sighed and found Constance’s worried gaze on me again. “It’s hard to explain. Um, when I’m her…” I sighed again. “When she takes over, I don’t know what I’m doing.”

  Constance smiled. “Ever heard the term Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?”

  I nodded. “It’s exactly like that.”

  “It’s normal, Elena. You’ll remember more every time you turn and the procedure will come faster too. The rest, well there is only one dragon that can really help you with that,” she said and nodded toward Blake who walked right next to Master Longwei, speaking in Latin. He despised every hair on my body. Yet today he’d showed me some kindness, some sympathy.

  “Will I become evil too?”

  Constance’s eyes glistened but she looked away. “I don’t know, Elena. Only time will tell.”

  I bit the inside of my lip and nodded again.

  We finally reached the edge of the forest and I had to admit, my dragon form was really fierce and had taken a third of the forest down with her.

  Blake took his robe off and I looked away. The change came so naturally to him, and when I heard the tear and pop sound, I knew he’d transformed into a dragon.

  Constance looked at me.

  I shook my head. “I can’t.”

  “Okay.” She smiled, took off her robe and walked away from me to transform. She was such a beautiful dragon. Her silver scales shimmered in the last ray of sunlight, almost blinding me as they reflected at just the right angle. Her long neck made her look majestic and she had a small white beard right below her chin. Her Swallow wings were my favorite feature. She held out her paw and I grabbed it, using her talons to stand. She lifted off and as soon as the ground was a couple of paces below me I closed my eyes. My heart beat like crazy as she pulled me closer to her body.

  Her leathery torso felt warm, soft and she smelled clean, like the forest.

  I tried to listen for her heartbeat but could barely hear it. Funny how everything about them was so different from us. I took a deep breath.

  You are a dragon, Elena.

  We landed back on Dragonia Academy turf half an hour later. I gave Constance a hug after she’d shifted back into her human form, and thanked Blake awkwardly as he stood butt naked with his robes hanging over his arm, still speaking to Master Longwei.

  He had absolutely no shame when it came to his naked body, none of them did, and I doubted that it was going to be that easy for me.

  When I entered the room, Sammy grabbed me around my neck.

  My arms started to shake and I didn’t know if it was the reality of me almost killing her that had finally kicked in. “I’m so sorry.”

  “Shhhh, I’m perfectly fine, not even a hair was harmed.”

  “I could’ve killed you, Sammy.”

  “Hey, my brother i
s a Rubicon, he taught me well.” She had a huge grin on her face but for some reason I didn’t see the humor in it.

  “So, you’re a Rubicon?” Becky said right behind me. I turned around.

  “I didn’t try by any chance to zap your ass too, right?”

  She shook her head and laughed. “George and I are way too fast.”

  “Be careful, this room might be too small for that head of yours,” Sammy said.

  “Whatever,” Becky sang. The vibe that had emerged from their constant fighting ever since I’d turned into a dragon grew thicker with each silent second. It felt as if it was going to drown me.

  I shook my head slightly. “Can you guys just please stop?” I begged. “This has been going on for far too long. I’ll try to embrace this, if you guys just go back to normal, okay?” I looked at both of them.

  Ever since I’d become a dragon I’d struggled with accepting it. Sammy had given me space but Becky, well, she was being Becky.

  We fought a lot and she would tell me that I was a coward for not accepting it. To her, being a dragon was hot, and she would have given anything to be one.

  Sammy didn’t like Becky’s way of helping me to deal with this, and where she was usually soft and laid back, she’d changed and become a cat whenever Becky didn’t back off. It led to a lot of fighting and a lot of awkward moments.

  “Sorry,” Sammy said and gave Becky a hug, who in return grabbed me, pulling me into their embrace too.

  “I’m sorry too. I know I’m a hard ass, but I hate seeing you guys like this.”

  “It’s just difficult,” I said. “Sammy you know exactly who you are, I just found out. I don’t know how to be a dragon. I meant it when I said that I didn’t like the way she makes me feel…. how on earth did I became a Rubicon?”

  They both started to laugh.

  Becky let go of Sammy but kept her arm wrapped around my neck. “Ever since you came here, mystery was written all over your face. It’s time you just went with the flow girl.”

 
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