The door swung open easily and Wulfa immediately tried to back into the corner as he saw an inferno of raging flames. Julian looked at the flames in shock and coughed loudly before covering his mouth. Wulfa looked out the window. The ground window was billowing with flames as well. A piece of roof collapsed sending a shower of sparks near him and he rushed towards Julian scooping him up and stared at the inferno. The fire was frightening to him, even more so then getting hit by lightning again, the child coughed loudly again and Wulfa breathed in the air and snorted out the smoke. The scent of ash filled his nostrils. He looked at the raging fire and then at Julian who was huddled in his arms, he knew the stairs were made of stone and would still be there, he had seen houses on fire before, the stone was always the last to burn. Wulfa whined as he made his decision and sprinted through the fire to the stairwell.
As he rushed ahead floor collapsed underneath him billowing flames coming in his wake as he rushed to the stairs. Fire billowed at the bottom as he made his way down to the second floor. He rushed and weaved through the rooms avoiding all fire he could and leaping through the stuff he couldn’t avoid. As he reached the top of the stairs that lead to the first floor he stared in horror at the raging wooden beam that laid on it and then the floor underneath him splintered and he and the child he was holding collapsed onto the ground floor.
Wulfa got up slowly everything was painful and hot, he was sweltering in the heat. Julian stood coughing nearby as he tried to avoid the licking flames. Wulfa whined and scooped him up coughing and snorting smoke himself as he looked for the passage way to the back door. He spotted it through the smoke and noticed the roaring file that was in his path. He whined loudly and wheezed as he turned around, he hadn’t ever gone through the front door before, but through the smoke he spotted a path to it. It shined through the smoke with the promises of safety and Wulfa rushed for it, ignoring all the fire and falling timbers he could as he clutched Julian to him and reached the door.
He stumbled outside panting heavily, as he tried to breathe in all the air he could. Gingerly he looked at Julian who was coughing loudly and he placed him on the ground, and then finally he looked up. A crowd of people stared back. Voices muttered through the crowd as they all stared at him and he stared back. He looked at them all fearfully as a sharp crack echoed in the air and a support beam splintered behind him blocking his way back into the house and showering him in sparks. Instinctively he huddled down to protect himself but as he a number of burly men pushed their way through the crowd. As one made his way to the front of the crowd he looked at Wulfa eagerly as more pushed their way past.
“Halt monster!” One exclaimed as he drew a sword. Wulfa did the only thing he deemed smart. He ran.
He fled from the crowd and the men followed, throwing comments at each other. They were fast, but not nearly as fast as Wulfa though. The rain continued to pour and lightning crackled in the air, striking around the house. Wulfa turned a corner treacherously, he was used to hiding in the house so he had only one other option, the tree. He turned another corner and saw the tree. He had gained some distance on the men. He skidded to a halt in the mud and scampered up the tree as far as he could. Saving the child through the fire had taken it all out of him. He was burnt, he was sore, he was exhausted, but that wasn’t the least of his problems. Lightning slammed into the tree and Wulfa flew off. The last thing he remembered was the burning house and tree.
Wulfa didn’t know how long he had been asleep for, or if what had just happened was all a dream. Wulfa tried to stand up but realized he was covered in a net. He struggled against it to no avail and whined as unpleasant noises echoed. A pair of feet clomped in front of him and he was hauled up.
“The magic academy is going to have a field day with you.” A frightening figure laughed as he looked him over. Wulfa struggled against the net. “You’ll fetch a fine price to any wizard or-.” He continued to only be stopped by a thunderous amount of thunder. “Damned storm.”
Wulfa struggled against the nets as the man turned and returned to his chair. Another roar of thunder echoed and the door slammed open bringing rain and a number of men inside.
“Something got that old man stirred up.” One muttered as he took off a cloak. “He came down to the house to have a look around himself. Did you know that it was his grandson that the beast had with him?”
“Maybe that’s why he was so angry last night?” another chuckled, “He looked pretty cheesed off at what happened to the house though.” The man shuddered. “Even though it’s being rebuilt stone by stone. Are you sure we should have-” a knock on the door interrupted him. “Who could that be in this storm…?” He muttered and swiveled on his foot and opened a hatch on the door. A muffled curse echoed and he leapt aside.
The door shattered and showered the room with splinters. Wulfa closed his eyes as deafening thunder echoed and then slowly dulled. When Wulfa managed to gather the bravery to open his eyes again, there was silence. The silence was much more frightening for him then the men had ever been. Thunder didn’t just appear, it only happened when it rain. Wulfa began to struggle against the net anew in hopes of escaping until he noticed the smell of rain in the air.
He looked up to see three figures silhouetted against the back of the glaring sunshine outside, two large, one small, the tallest one stooped down a shine of metal glinted in the light as the net fell down around him. Wulfa slowly got up and looked around him. The shadowy figures watched him. Wulfa sniffed the air, amongst all the ash that was still in his muzzle and the smell of rain, he sensed a smell that was familiar. He gingerly looked up at one of the figures and focused. A vastly older man stood there looking happily around him, satisfied with what he had done. He knelt down next to Wulfa and placed a calm hand against his brow and ruffled his hair slightly. He smelt of rain Wulfa noticed as the figure made a gesture the other who merely nodded and disappeared out of the room.
Wulfa looked at the old man who merely smiled and lifted his palm. He looked unfamiliar but smelled the same as the child did. In order to confuse him even further the child rushed to him and enveloped him in a hug. The old one smiled as he patted the child on the head happily and pulled something from his clothes. To Wulfa it was something known but it what it was escaped him. In reality it was a loaf of bread, the old one tore it into three chunks and passed one to the child and offered another to Wulfa. Wulfa took it gingerly unsure with what to do with it until the young child began to eat it.
“Bread?” Wulfa struggled hesitantly as he remembered something like it; his friend had used to bring him it. The old one smiled and nodded, Wulfa looked slightly relieved as he gingerly took a bite. It was tasty. “Good.” He struggled and the old one smiled before producing a piece of fruit. Wulfa recognized it immediately as the fruit from the tree outside his home. The old one smiled as he snatched it eagerly and began to eat it along with the bread. It was by far the tastiest fruit Wulfa had ever gotten.
“Nice.” He announced and the child nodded happily and continued eating the bread and fruit in unison. The old man merely watched as he ate a vague look of sorrow in his eyes as he did. Wulfa finished what was left but the minute his hands were free the child tackled him with a laugh and began to wrestle. Their laughter painted the room as they began to play. As they did the old man silently sidled out of the room.
Outside the sun shone brightly as a well armored man rushed towards him.
“Father.” the man began as the old man nodded at him. “I’ll be billing you for the door you understand…” thunder echoed softly and the skies darkened the sounds of laughter from inside drowning out his muttered reply. “Is my s-“
“He’s fine.” The old man retorted harshly. “Wulfa is in there with him and their playing.” The man’s eyes grew wide and he rushed past the old man and a very audible gasp exhaled. “Still think I’m senile?” the old man chuckled mirthlessly “That I was trying to get my grandson to believe that he was real for my own amusement? No. Wulfa has always been here, ever since I came into the gift. Why do you think I let him run free in that house? Everyone needs a familiar face… It’s just mine also happened to be my imaginary friend…”
About the Dreamer
Chris Ashworth is an accounting superstar and web enthusiast who lives in Adelaide. He has no previous publications but he organizes the local Adelaide NaNoWriMo chapter.