In Those Sunlit Meadows

Chilson and Murphy came to the top of the hill through a half-hearted rain, dry enough under their weatherproofing but damp in spirit and dismal in outlook. The chill that went along with the rain had wormed its greasy fingers into their collars and settled in the joints of their hands and in the spaces between their ribs. They creaked when they moved, like trees in a high wind. At the top of the hill they paused to catch their breath. Chilson looked out over the sodden valley that unrolled on the other side of the hill and shifted his shoulders around inside his sealskin coat. “Pissin’ sort of a day,” he said.

Murphy made a noise in his throat that might have meant anything. “No sort of luck today. Nothin’ with any sense’s movin’ around today.”

In the sky off to the southwest the clouds broke up and sunlight spilled through. Chilson and Murphy stared across at the light through the rain and watched a dragon break free of the clouds and draw them in its wake. Its neck was stretched full out, as through the head were hauling the lissome body along behind it through sheer grit. As it flew across the sky the clouds came trailing after, moving northwest.

“Well, damn,” said Murphy. “No wonder.”