Meet Cute Dragons

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As she pulled off the highway onto the exit ramp, her bladder shouting displeasure after six hours on the road, Chloe very firmly refused to think about why she was there.

She coasted along the ramp, braking sharply as the rest stop came into view through the trees. There was a shaded section of parking not far from the building, obviously intended for those seeking a little shut-eye, and she pulled into it without hesitation. She didn’t think there was much chance of sleeping inside the building, and with the way the summer sun was beating down already, she didn’t want to risk cooking herself alive in her car while she slept.

Her bladder rolled another wave of discomfort at her as she pulled the keys from the ignition, and she quickly unbuckled and shoved open the door. Hopefully the toilets weren’t absolutely disgusting? Maybe the building would have vending machines as well, she thought, walking quickly past an RV and a few other cars.

Relief washing through her, Chloe made a beeline for the sink to wash her hands and rinse sweat from her face. She noted with interest that the rest stop actually appeared to have showers- she’d never seen that before. Perhaps she could take some time to wash up after her almost assuredly sweaty nap to come? She might as well take advantage while the option was available.

Walking up to her little blue car, she took quick stock of her sleeping options. She’d packed rather hurriedly, but by grace she’d had the foresight to at least bring a pillow and a thin sheet. She opened the back seat, climbing inside, and set about throwing things into the front passenger side until she had a more-or-less acceptable spot to sleep. The car was already starting to get warm, so she cracked the front windows a bit, but modesty and a very plain desire to not get perved on led her to roll the back windows down a hair and hang a shirt in each, blocking the view—and sun!—from the outside.

She stifled a huge yawn at that, and curled up at last. This wasn’t necessarily ideal, but setting out as she had, this wasn’t all that bad. At least she had a shower to look forward to.

A few hours later, drenched in sweat, Chloe jerked awake. The car felt like an oven, unsurprisingly, and sunlight streamed through the trees and straight through the rear window. Grumbling about the heat, she levered open one of the doors and gasped at the unexpectedly chill breeze that immediately flooded through the gap. Tumbling out the door, she shivered not uncomfortably at how much nicer the air was. It was absolutely shower time.

Popping the trunk, she rummaged through for a towel and a change of clothes. Her foresight hadn’t stretched far enough to pack any kind of soap, but she’d manage. She always did, in this kind of situation. Anna was the one who-

Quashing that thought sharply, the girl walked back towards the rest stop. It still amazed her to think there was a shower at all, but she wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the eye. In the mouth? She puzzled over that one for a minute, pushing open the door. What was one supposed to do with horses?

She was so absorbed with this inane thought process that she walked headlong into another girl, soaking wet, obviously fresh from the shower herself. Both of them rebounded sharply, Chloe putting up her hands in surprise, the other girl nearly dropping her towel as she windmilled for balance on the slick floor.

“Oh, fuck!” she exclaimed, and then promptly lost her footing. Chloe darted forward to catch her, but slipped as well. Both of them crashed to the floor in a heap.

Chloe pushed herself up to her knees quickly, mortified, as the other girl rubbed her head ruefully. She immediately began apologizing, averting her eyes quickly as she realized that the towel definitely wasn’t covering much of anything anymore. The other girl rolled to the side and staggered to her feet, mumbling apologies as well. Chloe caught something about cautioning her to be more careful, and blushed furiously, but then the other girl was gone. She got to her feet quickly and darted toward the now vacant shower.

Twenty minutes later, her nap’s sweat washed away, Chloe exited the building with a furtive glance around the parking lot. She didn’t recognize any of the cars from before, not that she’d paid any particular sort of attention, but she sighed in relief regardless. She definitely didn’t want to accidentally run into that girl from before again, no matter how cute she was. Blushing despite herself, she clambered back into the front seat and fired up the engine. It was definitely time to leave this embarrassing rest stop behind.

She switched on the radio, pulling out onto the highway, and as she picked up speed she tried to find a station playing music rather than some bland talkshow host. Snappy lines about politics, sports games, or missing persons reports fell on deaf ears as she sorted through the chaff determinedly, finally settling on an inoffensive classic rock station. She still had thousands of miles to go, miles she intended to spend doing as Kartal Sınırsız Escort little thinking as she had to.

The engine singing, she barely noticed the road signs as they passed by. The sign proclaiming her entrance to “the Empire State” came and went with hardly a thought, so busy she was singing herself. There was something about Queen that she simply couldn’t resist singing along, and the radio supplied handily. She rolled the windows down on a whim, her coppery hair streaming in the wind, and for an hour or two of 70s and 80s music she genuinely forgot why she was driving.

The roads grew cluttered the further south and west she drove, but she was nearly in the Bronx before she realized her mistake. She’d been following the coast all through Connecticut, thinking to head as far south as possible to dodge the Appalachians, but doing so had nearly taken her straight into New York itself. As traffic began to slow to a crawl, even the radio betrayed her, switching into some kind of inane talkshow babbling about the local news. More missing persons reports, even this far south. It seemed like there was nothing else on the airwaves these days, she thought, switching away to another station. Maybe there would be one playing in Maine about her, soon. She pushed that thought to the back of her mind.

An hour or so of ugly traffic later, Chloe’s stomach began growling. She realized with a start that her gas tank was running dangerously close to empty, and so reluctantly she pulled off the highway and pulled into a seedy-looking gas station. There was a road map pasted on one of the inner walls, and she took a moment to glance over it before walking up to the register. There was a game she and Anna had played, whenever they happened upon a gas station with food. Anna was a firm believer that gas station food was among the finest cuisine pioneered by humanity; big ‘corporation-stations’ were “obviously” excluded on account of their impersonal nature. But any mom-and-pop type station? That was where the good grub could be found.

Chloe shook her head, realizing where her thoughts had led. This wasn’t Anna-time, this was Chloe-time. She just wanted to get whatever garbage was hot and put ten in the gas tank. No uncomfortable thought processes here, thank you.

Back on the road, the post-city traffic finally clearing to the point that she only spent half of her time stuck behind assholes driving semis, Chloe started considering the merits of sleeping through the night this time around. Last night obviously hadn’t had that as an option, seeing as how she’d hit the road at nearly three in the morning, but maybe tonight she ought to try to avoid the sweats of sleeping in the sun. The sun slowly drifted down the horizon, and finally at about eight she decided it was time to look for another rest stop. Even despite multiple wrong turns and only vaguely having any sort of idea where she was headed, she’d still reached nearly the outskirts of Baltimore. Soon she’d be far enough south to skim through the mountains without passing through the switchbacks that had given her so many nightmares as a child, she thought happily. Avoiding those was an absolute priority- her mother had driven their shoddy hatchback through them once, when she was nine years old, as part of a cross-country move, and the nerve-wracking process had nearly traumatized her for life. For this move, she was entirely unwilling to repeat the experience. Adventurous driving like that was Anna’s bag, not hers.

Chloe shook her head, grimacing. It was only a day out, she reasoned unpleasantly. It was going to take time before she stopped thinking of things in terms of her. It would be easier to just keep ignoring those- there! A rest stop, two miles on. Chloe floored the accelerator, eager to park and stretch her legs.

Rolling into another shady spot—fortune clearly smiling on her, she thought happily—she let out a satisfied sigh as she unbuckled. A glance in the rearview only showed her a few trucks and another RV. Maybe camper vans were making a comeback? She frowned thoughtfully as she walked up the path to the rest stop. She supposed she could see the advantage- bringing your bed along for the drive definitely added sustainability to a trip. Not to mention how nice it must be to be big enough on the road that some jerk in a shitty Ford F-150 wouldn’t think he could bully you out of the fast lane for not going three hundred miles an hour. Especially as big as the one in the parking lot- Chloe reckoned that monster was almost the size of a school bus, with terrifyingly huge wheels. It was probably a nightmare to maneuver something that big, though, now that she thought more on it. Certainly it wasn’t something she could just pick up on the fly.

She abruptly lost her train of thought as she entered the women’s restroom. Another public shower? She could hardly believe it, but sure enough there was definitely a working shower here, too. Someone was using it already, but from the outside it looked to be much bigger than the last one. Kartal Suriyeli Escort She hurried to the toilet, wondering if the lady currently inside would be much longer.

She was washing her hands when she realized the woman had begun singing, a deep, husky sound that nearly shook the walls with its power. She shivered, drying her hands, and then nodded firmly. She had to meet whoever was in there, and there was only one way to do it without seeming a complete creep. Chloe bolted outside, almost running to the car in her urgency to get a change of clothes and a towel. It was only after she’d returned to the restroom, clouds of steam causing her to break out in a light sweat, that she remembered she still hadn’t any soap. Her sudden consternation was cut short by the water cutting off, and the still-singing woman exited the shower while wrapping herself in a towel.

Chloe’s breath caught in her throat as her eyes met the other woman’s. A crush of realizations flooded her mind: it was the same woman as before, she obviously recognized her as well, the gargantuan RV outside was definitely the same, her exposed breasts were exactly as beautiful as she’d remembered, and the other woman was absolutely saying something to her. Wait. What?

“I’m sorry, what was that?”

The woman frowned slightly, her perfect jawline exposed as she tilted her head to the side. “I said, were you listening to me sing?”

Chloe shivered at the sound of her voice, and nodded quickly. “Yeah, I uh, I couldn’t help but overhear you.” She gulped, the woman’s eyes boring into hers like green lasers. “I’m sorry, I-“

The brunette shrugged, even the casual gesture seeming flawless and graceful. “I hope you did not mind. Excuse me,” she said quietly, starting to walk past and out of the room.

Chloe whirled, eyes locked on the woman’s back. “Wait!”

She flushed even brighter red as the lady looked back curiously.

“I’m, uh, I’m Chloe. I really liked your singing.” This was going terribly, she realized, mortification crawling down her spine.

But Lady Luck must have taken pity, for the beauty favored her with a slow smile. “I am called Arlene,” she said strangely. “Enjoy the shower.” And with that, she left.

Chloe exhaled a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. She hadn’t felt so nervous in years; her pulse was still thundering in her ears. All she’d wanted was to compliment a singer! But here she was, acting like an absolute fool. She spun on her heel and ducked into the shower stall, yanking the door closed behind her.

There was a small alcove at head level, obviously meant for removed clothing. She stripped quickly, pausing briefly to check that the door was actually latched shut, and crammed her clothes into it before turning to the showerhead. She twisted the knobs expectantly, and was rewarded for her troubles with a shockingly cold blast of fucking icicles. She shrieked, jumping back and nearly slipping to her death, but the water quickly shifted to the opposite end of the spectrum and a new cloud of steam began to form. The hot water seemed to sluice straight through her skin and into her bones, washing the fatigue of the road from her muscles. She sighed dreamily, the water beating down on her scalp and back, and her worries about embarrassing herself in front of Arlene seemed to melt away.

Her reverie was interrupted when the floor suddenly rocked underneath her, the water flow cutting off immediately. She lost her balance, dropping to her knees, when suddenly the ground shook a second and stronger time, throwing her prone on the tiles. She yelped, the tiles suddenly as cool as concrete, and with a wince she rolled into a crouch.

“What the hell was that?” she mumbled, starting to her feet. Was that some kind of earthquake?

It was at that exact moment that what seemed like a solid wall of sound ripped through the building, like the roar of a tornado bearing down on her. She screamed, dropping back to her knees, covering her ears in vain as the sound came again, the walls of the building shaking in time. Loud yells from outside the building came as the world-filling noise passed, and she staggered back to her feet. She yanked her towel from the alcove, scattering clothes, and wrapped it around herself before gathering her things in a heap and bolting out of the restroom heedless of her nudity. Whatever the fuck was happening, she fully intended to get away from it without any further delay.

The RV was just leaving as she ran outside, rumbling furiously, but the sound was nothing compared to whatever had just shaken the building. She spared the setting sun a glance as she pelted toward her car, and was greeted with a view of something huge but indistinct blotting out the sun itself. She fumbled with the car door, realizing belatedly that her keys were somewhere in the bundle of clothes she held. She started to rifle through with one hand when another titanic sound rolled through the sky, and dropped it all in terror. What the fuck was that?

She looked Kartal İranlı Escort up at the thing blocking the horizon again. It was immense, nearly three hand-spans wide despite the distance, a shape almost like some kind of immense bird. Eyes locked on it, mind screaming a word she couldn’t even begin to articulate, she resumed digging for her keys, yanking them free at last as again came an earth-shaking roar, though mercifully muted in comparison to before. Chloe scrabbled at the door, unlocking it at last and hurling her things inside before leaping in herself. Her little engine roaring to life, she flung it into reverse and floored it. She hadn’t the faintest idea where she was going, but she certainly wasn’t staying where she was. The car skidded as she pulled off onto the highway, but she whipped the wheel around and regained control. Focus, girl! She thought furiously. Panic later, drive now! In the distance she could see that now-familiar RV, speeding down the highway almost as fast as she.

She had almost caught up to the RV when finally she spoke.

“That was a fucking dragon,” she mumbled. “An actual goddamn motherfucking dragon.”

It had arced away to the north almost twenty minutes ago, fading from view as the sun set completely, but she hadn’t even considered stopping. Saying it aloud only seemed to deepen the ridiculousness of it, but her eyes and ears had screamed testament to the facts. Where before a mountain had broken the horizon, there had been a gap plainly in view. A massive shape had departed there, and the motherfucker’s shout had rattled the building and her senses. There wasn’t any other possible explanation; something—that fucking dragon, her mind insisted—had thrown down a mountain and then promptly flown the coop. The impossibility of it all seemed poised to overwhelm her idiot ape brain, but the cold logic gripped the tenuous edge. There simply wasn’t any other explanation possible. She had seen a fucking dragon.

The RV loomed over the passenger side, and she craned her neck to look up towards the driver’s seat. Sure enough, the girl from before was behind the wheel, waving when she saw Chloe looking. Arlene, her name was. She made a complicated sort of gesture, only half-visible through the swiftly descending gloom, and pointed towards a sign up ahead; Chloe glanced at it, seeing gasoline and food advertised. She frowned, and then looked down at her dashboard. Her tank had about a quarter left, but seeing Arlene’s eyes still on her, she braked sharply and merged into the lane behind her. She supposed absently that there was no harm in filling up, before remembering the shape in the sky. Why wasn’t the other woman as rattled as she?

Parking at a pump near the RV, a sharp horror filled Chloe as she realized she hadn’t gotten dressed. In the panic following the dragon’s appearance, she’d been too focused on getting the hell out of dodge! She hurriedly yanked her blouse on over her head, scrambling to wiggle into her jeans under the towel. Throwing open the door, she leaned down to shove her feet into her boots, not a moment sooner than she saw Arlene leap down from her monstrously oversized vehicle. The woman was tall, but even her height seemed dwarfed by the beast. The brunette immediately strode over to her, and Chloe got out of the car nervously, brushing dirt from her jeans from when she’d dropped them.

“Are you hurt?”

She shook her head, wondering. “No, just scared shitless. You?”

The other woman seemed far less shaken for how quickly she’d fled the scene, she noted curiously.

“It is not every day that I see something like that, but I am unharmed,” came her reply. If the sight of her beauty hadn’t scrambled her brain, Chloe might have been pissed. What was this chick’s deal?

“Have you eaten today?”

The question threw her off-guard, and her stomach rumbled loudly at the thought of food. “No, I uh, it’s been a few hours I guess-“

“Come with me. I have supplies enough to share, and you seem too shaken to simply turn loose.”

As if she expected to be obeyed, Arlene spun on her heel and swept off toward her vehicle, skirts whirling behind her. Chloe’s brain caught up with her, and she sprang after the woman, wondering in the back of her mind what the hell she was wearing. Arlene had on some strange kind of laced vest, billowing skirts, and what had to be custom boots- she looked like some kind of bizarre escaped cosplayer. Was she following a crazy person?

Skirts McCrazy looked back as she pulled open the side hatch, beckoning again with that bizarre confidence before disappearing inside. Chloe gulped, but in spite of her racing thoughts she climbed in as well.

If Arlene’s attire shocked her, the interior of the RV was a lightning bolt to the face. Far from a cramped space, the cabin seemed like an apartment, a full-sized table on a raised platform to the right, a refrigerator and sink bracketed with cabinets in front of her, and an entire bed to the left, an open crawlspace underneath leading straight into the front cab of the RV. As she stepped out of the stairwell, she realized there was an actual fucking shower built into the cabin as well. She looked wonderingly to Arlene, who had opened the fridge and was busily pulling out boxes in search of something. What kind of bourgeoisie company had she fallen into?

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