Excresence, noun: a distinct outgrowth on a body or plant, resulting from disease or abnormality.
The shadow sped past the drunken guard and crept into the lighted hallway, slipping past the night watchman on duty like the flicking of a leaf.
Inside one of the wards, snores could be heard, as well as a tiny handheld radio blaring Corinna, Corinna to a sleeping ear of an octogenarian.
Thankfully none saw the deepening shade invade their space, and slip to the balcony, where it took on man-shape, large, broad-shouldered and monstrous.
It was watching the moon, through fist-sized globular eyes, luminous like those of an undersea fish, and crying – huge drops rolled and splashed like rainwater. For a moment it hummed a few bars from the song vibrating the panes, but then spread its wings wide and flapped noiselessly and huge into the night, seeking, and waiting.
Finally, after twenty minutes of gliding against the sulphur-lighted clouds, the creature – or excrescence – flapped down, and alighted on bannisters framing the balcony of a sleeping girl as though it had been called. Bulbous incandescent eyes peered between opened curtains, fixed atop a shape too colossal to be man or bat. Suddenly they blinked and reappeared inside the room, mounted on a tall and black moving along the wall like the shadows cast by passing cars – except it moved to an internal rhythm, stopping and then starting again, with a stare like incandescent fungi that illuminated nothing on its face but a square jaw sheathing sharp inverted fangs.
It paced until it was in front of the bed, and could see the small shape sleeping unassuming beneath covers, one arm thrown across a stuffed toy.
It crept closer until its face was above hers, and lowered it, opening and widening its hideous mouth. Fangs in the four corners of its mouth stretched wide its paper-thin lips, exposing a double set of teeth – molars that ground vertically and horizontally, framed by the quivering fangs of a viper or giant spider’s.
Without warning she awoke.
The phantasm vanished in an instant and barely registered in her vision. Anyone else in the room would have merely seen a flash in their mind’s eye, and the vibrating smoke that rippled the beast into non-existence.
She showed no sign of surprise and lay back down, tears staining her pillow.
Her mind was on her granddad in hospital, listening to his favourite song Corinna, even as he lay dying.
And she felt, and felt, deep down that it would soon be her turn, when he went.
About that time she thought this, he did go. The radio blared on through twenty-seven more cycles of 60s hits before he was discovered by the morning shift.
And poor Sanqua Maria only found out about this the next day, about noon. By this time, she barely shed a tear.
An update: The story of George and the dragon (“Bill” and “Grill” so far) will continue, just not yet. Next chapter will be the dragon’s backstory.