Chapter II: A (forced) Decision
I entered my room and looked at my bed. It was a mess. I stole a glance at my clawed hands and then again at my bed. 'Something tells me it won't be a good idea to accuse.' I thought, and shrugged. Suddenly, my stomach rumbled. 'Hmm... as far as I know, dragons eat meat. RAW meat.' I shuddered at the thought. I started to walk out of my room but I tipped too much to the left and fell over. I glared at my paws. 'What's wrong with you four?' I had walked before without thinking, but now the knowledge to do so escaped me.
On my numerous researches on draconology, I found out dragons use their tails for balance. 'If I lift my left foreleg, my center of gravity will shift slightly to left. Therefore, to compensate that, I will have to move my tail to the right. However, when my left leg hits the ground, I will be unbalanced, for my right leg is behind the left one and my tail was on my right. I'll offset it my swinging my tail to the left and moving my right leg forward, which will shift the center of gravity to the left. This cycle will repeat itself until I stop walking. Simple.'
'Hmm... how do I move my tail?' It was a weird feeling to have seven limbs and even weirder to have one behind me. I tried to locate the muscles that moved my tail. There. Just behind my hind legs. I tried to move those muscles and watched as it swished wildly from side to side. 'Better stop before... ow!' I recoiled from a sharp pain coming from my tail and whipped my head to see it hit one of the edges of my bedside table. Suddenly, I felt an urge to lick my rear member. I was curious so I didn't resist. I craned my neck towards the injured spot and started licking it. It felt good, and soon the pain started to die away. A drop from my vast pool of knowledge on draconology made my way to my mind. Dragons' tongues contain moderate antiseptic agents. It made sense. Although such an injury wouldn't require disinfecting, it probably was the pain that triggered the urge. Wow. And I thought I knew everything about dragons. This is where being cocky takes you. There will be always something to prove you wrong.
After absorbing this new piece of information, I returned to the task at hand. 'Lift my left leg and swing my tail to the right' I reminded myself. I lifted my left foreleg and swung my tail to the right, but I accidentally put too much strength on it and fell over with a thud. 'Easier said than done...'. I tried again and this time I managed to take a step. The hard part was done. Now it was pretty much as walking as a human. Hopefully.
My hopes proved correct and I was soon happily walking on circles, when suddenly, a thought tugged at my mind. My wings. I looked at them as they hung limply by my sides. I continued staring for a minute, not knowing what to do with them. 'Wait. On Istaria: Chronicles of the Gifted, dragons tucked their wings to their sides to avoid dragging them on the ground.' Could I do the same now that I was a real dragon? I located the muscles that moved my flight appendages and attempted to fold them. I bent my wing elbows and then slowly lowered my wings until they rested at each side of my chest. They fit comfortably. I started to walk towards the door, careful to lift my left foreleg and swing my tail to the right, but something didn't feel right. I was confused. I mastered my legs, my tail and wings; I... mentally slapped myself. Dragons hold their heads high, they don't droop like a scolded child. I raised my head and then hummed contently, not really sure how I did so. I was complete. I started walking out of my room, but suddenly, a thought came to my mind, one which drowned all my happiness: 'What am I going to do now?' I considered waking my parents, but when they saw my new body, they might freak out and do something they might regret. On the other hand, I mean, claw, I couldn't leave my family behind; nor my friends. On yet another claw, I liked this new body. Thoughts of flying filled my head, and I found myself humming happily. I always wondered how it would be to fly by my own power. I sighed. 'What a dilemma.' I made my way for my bedside table and stood on my hind legs to look at my watch. It was 6:35 AM. There was more light than it should be now. Why was that so? I started thinking of elaborate and farfetched explanations for this. 'Could the greenhouse gases somehow increase the intensity of the sun's rays reflected on the moon?' 'Wait. This never happened when I was human.' Something clicked on my mind 'Of course! Dragons have better night vision than humans!' I almost clawed myself for not finding the answer sooner. It was so simple.
My thoughts snapped back to my quandary. 'Leave my life behind or tell my family?'. I left my room and turned left to the staircase. 'I'll be able to think better away from my parents.' I looked at its length and let out a strange growl, once again not sure how I did so. At my current size, which was a little bigger than a fully grown house cat, each step was almost as tall as I was. Fortunately, I was longer than that, the main reason for that being my tail, but it was still somewhat dangerous. I took a careful step, but slipped, causing my forelegs to slam hard onto the stile below and my stomach to hit the edge of the one above. I groaned and growled at the pain and at the precarious situation I was in. 'How will I get out of this?' I tried pushing with my forelegs but they weren't strong enough. I looked around for anything to get hold on. 'The rail. But how can I reach it?' I looked at my forelegs and then again at the rail and quickly found I couldn't reach it that way. Not even close. 'My tail'. I looked at it. It was longer than the rest of my body. It could easily grab the rail. Hopefully. I moved my tail towards my left and attempted to make contact with the it. I groped a bit but after a few tries... Success! Now for the harder part. 'Does a dragon's tail have enough flexibility to wrap itself around that?' I had to try. I searched for muscles further down, finding many. I commanded each one to contract or stretch in order to wrap. After a few moments of giving orders my tail was tightly envelopped around the rail. I prepared myself to pull. '3...2...1...' I pulled with as much strength as I could muster with my forelegs and pulled just as hard with my tail. The combined efforts from the three limbs hoisted me up to the top of the staircase. I sighed with relief. 'That was close.' I started to turn to my left to enter my room, but suddenly, I stopped. 'Why not gliding all the way down?' I thought. I hummed and let another weird growl at the prospect of flying, even if for a few seconds, but the remainig human in me was scared of leaving the safety of the ground. I sat on my haunches in thought. 'What if I land wrong?' I imagined myself grounding muzzle-first and shuddered. My tail started twitching. 'What if my parents wake up with the noise if I do?' I was starting to become scared. 'What if I hit my wings on the rail? They might break and I'll never be able to fly again!' That did it. I whimpered and whined with fright and turned away from the stairway and into my room. Once there, I tried to climb onto my bed but quickly found that I couldn't heave myself up, for I was too small and couldn't get a firm grip on the cloth. I sighed and laid down on the cork-tiled floor.
Looks like I had no choice. I had to tell my parents, but my previous worries about that choice made their way back into my mind. 'Wait. What if I hid from them?' I asked myself.
'Don't be silly, they'd find you sooner or later.' I answered.
'I'm very good at hiding.'
'They'd still find you.' I growled, this time on purpose.
'I don't care. I can't let them find me in this state.' I pointed at myself with a claw. My second self paused.
'Have you considered they might have already woken up? It wouldn't be surprising, considering the noise you made two minutes ago.' That caught me off guard. I felt my heart starting to beat faster and harder and my tail began wagging nervously from side to side as fear threatened to overtake me. I took several deep breaths to calm my nerves, with some success. I listened to my father's telltale snoring and sighed with relief as I heard it clearly. My mother didn't snore though. 'I will have to enter...'
Suddenly, I heard an ear-splitting scream coming from my left. I growled with discomfort and my earfins twitched at the piercing sound. I managed to take a look to the cause of this horrible noise and found out it was my mother. 'Oh crap.'. She had a distaste for anything with scales and more than four legs, particularly snakes and spiders. She rarely screamed when she saw one, though, so I guess this was pretty serious. I couldn't be that ugly. Could I? She stopped screaming, but I wish she hadn't, for she slammed my room door shut and called for my father.
"Mom, it's me, your son, George!" I tried to shout, but only a series of growls and squeaks exited my mouth. 'Great, now I've lost the ability to speak.'
My parents barged in my room and stared at me warily, seemingly expecting me to bite or claw them at any moment. I backed away, but stared back at them, although fear had a firm grip on me.
"What do we do with that?" My mother asked her husband. I growled quietly at being called 'that'. "I never saw... this before." She pointed at me. My father thought for a few seconds and then answered.
"Hold it here, I'll grab my axe." Oh no. They were going to kill me! I squeaked with dread and backed away further. My tail was swishing madly. Now I know how a spider feels when I'm about to squish it. My parents looked at me strangely. I was feeling a strong urge to claw my way out of here, despite the overwhelming fear; it reminded me of what an animal does when cornered. Instinct, perhaps?
"Wait, where's George? He might want to see this. George!" She called. My father had already left the house.
"What?" I tried to say before I could stop myself. Only a squeak came out of my mouth.
"George!" I squeaked again. It couldn't be very long until she recognized me. "Where did he go?" I squeaked and pointed at myself with a claw, careful to swing my tail to the right so I wouldn't fall over. She didn't seem to notice the gesture. "George! Where are you?" My mother's voice had gained a twinge of worry. She gave me one last look and slammed the door shut, leaving me alone in my room.
'I have to get out of here!' I thought in a panic. I looked around for an escape route. 'The window!' I dashed towards it. It was too high for me to reach. 'The curtain.' I stabbed my claws into the fabric and tried to heave myself up. Desperation and fear gave me the strength to climb and I was soon on the window sill. 'Now to unlock this.' I pushed the handle as hard as I could and the window creaked open. I looked down at the floor outside with worry. Could I glide all the way down? Suddenly, my room door was opened and my parents came in. They started shouting when they saw me. The fear of getting killed made the decision for me and I jumped into the air in a random direction, opening my wings. Thankfully, I was going towards my neighbor's extensive and, best of all, open backyard. I looked around in awe as the wind rushed past my wings. I was flying! Well, not exactly. I was slowly losing altitude, for I wasn't flapping. I watched as I glided above the fence surrounding my no-longer-mine home and onto the grassy fields just next to it. I heard distant screams, probably from my former parents, but I paid them no mind. I had made my decision and I was leaving everything and everyone, without a chance of turning back.