The dragon was waiting for George as he came up through the pass, waiting like a mountain or the slow erosion of the tide. George stopped in front of it and raised his hands to its face and shouted his name and the name of God. The dragon shook its eyes into life and rolled itself around to face him.

In town it is gray and raining and they move from lighted doorway to lighted doorway, collars turned up against the weather, shoulders hunched to meet the rain, hands deep in steaming pockets. Behind their windows they stamp and shake and rub themselves warm, watch the storm lashing the glass, watch the others dash from cover to cover, count themselves lucky to be inside and dry and listening to music slow and regretful.

George drives his knife into the craggy roof of the dragon’s mouth and closes his eyes against the hot rush of blood. It burns him, scalds him with its poison, but he hangs on; the dragon dies now or not at all.

In town thunder shakes the windows into shards, sends splinters of glass into their faces, lets the storm and wind inside and drowns out the pleasant sorrows of the music. They are cold and shaking and there is no safety anywhere.