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Snakebitten Dragon

by Ronald Larsen

The first dragon sighting was reported to my office (county sheriff) by a logging crew working on The Captain’s Peak up in the Stammish Mountains. One of the crewmen insisted he’d seen a dragon flying over the mountain, but the foreman overruled him and reported, “A large unidentified flying object was seen flying erratically near the logging site.”

Over the next three months, several reports trickled in from citizens reporting a large, black bird-like object in the area of The Captain’s Peak.

The department secretary duly took down the reports and did her best to assure folks that we would follow up as appropriate. At first, about all we could do was to file the reports. Here in the Stammish National Forest, the sheriff’s office gets very busy during the summer with tourists coming through on scenic drives, plus hikers and campers going up into the mountains.

We’ve only got five men to police an eighteen-hundred square-mile county. We get our share of heavy traffic, fender-benders, and domestic calls; handle a few medical emergencies; deal with Saturday night brawls; issue camping permits and try to keep track of the campers; plus attempt to nab people farming pot out in the forest.

I did send two men up to The Captain’s Peak to check things out after the first few UFO reports. They reported, “We talked to several hikers and campers who hadn’t seen anything out of the ordinary. There’s an old fellow with a foreign accent who’s taken up residence in the old shack up on Three Forks Trail. He claims to be a writer who is getting away from his nagging wife and a miserable job, trying to get his head together up in the mountains. Seems harmless enough. No sign of UFOs.”

The following week, a pair of hikers reported seeing a “huge bird” in the Stammish mountains. They were sure it wasn’t an airplane because they saw the creature flap its wings. Then a couple days later, a commercial pilot made a similar report, being careful to avoid using the word “dragon.” What capped it was a young student pilot, Violet Vasakos, who hasn’t fully learned the subtleties regarding UFO reports. She stated, “I followed a black dragon for a couple of miles, and the beast turned, giving me an excellent side view before dropping down to earth and disappearing into the forest.”

Violet’s father, Christofer Vasakos, is the head of the Second Division Forest Service Department, headquartered down the street from the sheriff’s office. Christofer told me, “Violet is adamant to the point of near hysteria about seeing a dragon, so I’m requesting your office to investigate. I’ll loan you a forest service helicopter for the next four days.”

I’m the elected sheriff so, even though I had serious doubts about the validity of the dragon and related UFO nonsense — I mean news — it was incumbent on me to pay attention to the concerns of my constituents. Therefore, I accepted Christofer’s offer. He assured me he didn’t really believe the dragon stories, either, but I knew there had been enough concerns raised by enough people that something needed to be done to settle the populace down.

I assembled a team, including my young gung-ho deputy, Harry Mithgow, a crack shot army vet, toting a high-powered rifle and scope; myself with my trusty shotgun; and Dan Stack from the forest service. Whitey Nelson, a ten-year veteran forest service pilot flew the chopper.

I asked Christofer for Dan because Dan has an uncanny rapport with animals and a greater knowledge of the forest than anyone I’ve ever met. I offered Dan a sidearm, but he said, “No thanks. I have no use for guns. Hate the things.”

We crisscrossed The Captain’s Peak and several nearby mountains for three days and saw nothing unusual. The fourth day started off rainy and foggy, keeping us grounded. The weather cleared in the afternoon. I decided we should make one last attempt while we still had the chopper.

Late that afternoon, Dan spotted a large black object at the edge of an area that had recently been logged. He said, “Might be an animal, might be wreckage of some kind. I can’t be sure.”

The chopper couldn’t put down right there, so we landed in a meadow a quarter of a mile away. Whitey stayed with the chopper, but the rest of us hoofed it up to the sighting area. As we cautiously approached we realized it wasn’t airplane wreckage, but a huge black beast of some type.

Dan said, “I’ll be darned. That looks like a black dragon lying on the ground. It looks just like some of the drawings I’ve seen in novels.”

“I’ll take care of it,” Harry declared, swinging his rifle to his shoulder.

“No!” Dan exclaimed. “I think it’s injured. I want to check. I’ve never encountered anything like this before, but I should be OK.”

“Don’t get trigger-happy, Harry,” I cautioned. “Stay here with me, keep your rifle at the ready, but do not shoot unless I order you to or the dragon attacks one of us. Got it?”

“I got it, boss,” Harry grumped.

Dan cautiously walked up to the motionless beast.

The dragon opened one eye. It said, “I won’t hurt you and wouldn’t even if I could. I was bitten by a large serpent just before your machine flew over and the venom is acting quickly. I believe I’m dying.”

Dan said later he got a mental picture of a large rattlesnake.

“Can I help you?” Dan asked.

“Is there an antidote for the poison, and do you have any?”

Dan replied, “Antivenin exists, but the closest is at Doc Pritchard’s clinic over in Crossville. There’s no way we can get you there, and you might not survive in the time it would take us to fly over and bring Doc back.”

The dragon said, “I have enough magic in this world to take on human form temporarily. I found an old shack where I could live as a human. I go back to my dragon self once in a while, especially late at night.”

Dan asked, “Can you take on human form now? If so, we can get you to Doc Pritchard’s.”

The dragon form faded out and an old bearded fellow faded in, lying on the ground where the dragon had been. He was very thin with the haggard face of someone in severe pain.

“Okay, guys,” Dan called to Harry and me. “Come on over here and help me take this guy to the chopper.”

I handed Harry my shotgun and helped Dan load the old man up in a fireman’s carry. We headed back to the chopper and hoisted the old fellow in. Harry wasn’t any help. He looked shocked almost beyond belief by what he’d just seen, and followed us into the chopper, tightly clutching his rifle and my shotgun.

“I was in my dragon form hunting for food when I heard you coming,” the old fellow said weakly. “I dropped to the ground as quickly as I could so I could transform and avoid being seen. But I wasn’t being careful enough to sense where I was going, and landed right on a very large serpent. It bit me in the sensitive membrane right between two talons — two toes in human form. The venom is acting very quickly, and my magic in this world isn’t strong enough for me to heal myself without some help.”

Dan used the first aid kit in the chopper to do what he could during the trip. But it was obvious his patient was in bad shape and quickly getting worse.

We landed next to the clinic. I sent Harry ahead to alert the doc that we were bringing in a snakebite victim, but cautioned him not to go into detail. No problem there. Harry could barely talk.

Doc Pritchard came out on his veranda and said, “Bring him in here.”

The old fellow said very weakly, “Don’t take me in there. If I slip much further I won’t be able to hold this form, and you’ll have a dead dragon filling up the building. Ask him to treat me out here.”

Doc objected to that.

The old man said in a whisper, “Have him put his hand on my forehead. Then we can communicate mind to mind.”

Doc did as I asked. I saw his face go though several phases: astonishment, fear, back to astonishment. “Well I’ll be damned,” he said. “Thirty years in these mountains, but now I’ve heard and seen it all. OK, I’ll get a vial of antivenin and inject it out here. But I need to check first to see if you’re allergic to it. It could kill you. Takes a few minutes.”

The old man said, “I’ll be dead in less than ten minutes. I’ll take my chances. Do it now. Three vials.”

Doc said, “Okay, but one vial is enough for a man.”

The old man replied, “I’m still a dragon. Three is the minimum.”

Doc rushed back into his clinic and came out with three vials, a syringe and a couple of alcohol wipes. He cleaned a spot on the old man’s arm and injected the antivenin. In about twenty minutes, the old fellow was able to sit up on his own.

“Damn,” Doc said. “I wasn’t sure about that dragon stuff until now. I wouldn’t have believed anyone could recover from a rattlesnake bite that fast. Most men would be down for a couple of days and take three weeks or more to fully recover.”

The old fellow said, “Dragons mostly heal with their minds. I just needed something extra to work with.”

I said, “Old timer, I need a lot of explanations. You up to talking?”

The old man/dragon explained, “I came to this world because of a freak accident. There are warps in the fabric of time and space in this universe which can be used to travel from one star system to another. They must be utilized very carefully, and even then accidents sometimes occur. I was going halfway across what you people call the Milky Way, but I wasn’t careful enough and blundered into a warp near this planet. It’s a very small point in space and opens for just a few seconds when your moon is full.”

“I got pulled in several months ago and have been trying during every full moon to get back to my own time and place. Up to now, I’ve missed my opportunities and have been living in a shack in the woods waiting for the next full moon.”

“So you’ve been going back to your dragon form to fly out to look for food,” Dan observed.

“Yes. Mountain goats mostly. It’s difficult for a dragon to maintain human form, so I’ve been going back to my true self to hunt and to get a break from this human body.”

“Tonight is my next opportunity to find the warp. Can you take me back to where you found me? It will be easier for me farther away from human settlements. I don’t feel up to transforming and flying right now, and it probably would be better if I didn’t. Fewer people to see me and fewer questions for you to answer.”

I agreed. Best for everyone concerned if the dragon could move on out, and the sheriff’s department could go back to dealing with crazy tourist drivers and hunting for pot farmers.

“I’d like to go with you,” Doc said. “It’s about time to close shop, and I’d like to see a real dragon. And I can bring a case of beer.”

I couldn’t refuse a request like that, so we piled back into the chopper and off we went.

Light was starting to fade, but Whitey expertly set the chopper down in a high meadow. We threw a tarp on the grass and talked and had a few beers until about midnight. By then a full moon was high in the sky over The Captain’s Peak. Even Harry loosened up enough to laugh at one of Doc’s jokes.

“It’s almost time for me to go,” our guest said. “I’d like to thank you for your help. It was way more than I expected and maybe more than I deserved. I guess there’s hope for dragons and humans after all. I can’t pay you, but I can help you heal your ailments.”

Doc perked up at this. “What kind of ailments? Cuts and bruises or more serious stuff?”

“Pretty much anything,” the old fellow said. “Doc, I sensed when you touched me that you have a lot of aches and pains in your knees and elbows. Arthritis, I think it’s called. You want it healed?”


“I’ve got to transform in order to do that,” our guest said. He walked about twenty yards out into the meadow. Then his human shape was slowly replaced by a black dragon. He had a reptilian head, brilliant yellow eyes, long neck, double row of armor plates along his back, 20 foot wings and a long serpentine tail. Moonlight glistened off his black scales.

“Doc, please stand in front of me, close your eyes and visualize your body as healed.” He blew some sort of light blue energy over Doc.

Doc opened his eyes, took a few steps and swung his arms high over his head. “Man, I haven’t been able to do that without pain for several years. Thanks.”

I was next. I’ve been a diabetic for thirty years, but not anymore. Whitey admitted he recently stopped smoking after twenty years. He had been starting to develop emphysema, but his lungs are clear now. Harry got an old football injury fixed up and said, “That’s the first time my back hasn’t hurt since high school.”

Dan had been sitting watching us, then he asked quietly, “Can you do anything about cancer? I haven’t told anyone here, but the doctors over in White Falls said I have advanced liver cancer, with about six months to live.” Like the rest of us, Dan stood while the dragon blew blue healing energy over him. Later on, the doctors in White Falls were amazed to find Dan’s cancer gone.

“Okay, time to go,” the dragon said. “Thanks, guys. It was nice meeting you.”

We all said thanks.

He leaped into the air, beat his huge wings and climbed towards the brilliant white moon. We watched the shape of a dragon fly up the mountain and halfway across the face of the moon, then it disappeared.

As expertly as ever, Whitey flew us back to town. Nobody said much on the flight back and about all we said to each other on the ground was “good night.” What can you say when you’ve seen a man transform into a dragon, seen man’s worst nightmare healed, then watched a dragon fly across the moon and disappear?

I reported, “The sheriff’s department located a snakebite victim and obtained medical treatment for him, which was quite effective. The gentleman has returned home. Nothing else out of the ordinary was seen during our search.”

Chances are good NORAD tracked another UFO that evening. Nothing odd has been reported over The Captain’s Peak since that night. And we still haven’t found those pot farmers.

Copyright © 2020 by Ronald Larsen

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