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He belched, a long, resonant belch that rolled out like thunder and left him with a satisfyingly meaty taste in his mouth.

Grinning, the dragon patted his belly and heaved himself to his feet to make his way home. After a big meal like that, he had to walk home, slowly. Very slowly.

He staggered back across the now-empty fields, dragging his feet, breaking through hedges and fences until he reached his cave. He was getting sleepy, and was ready for a nice nap as he crawled towards his pile.

Abruptly, he stopped crawling. His back feet scrabbled ineffectually at the ground as he tried to force his swollen belly through the entrance to his cave.

He was stuck.

He panicked. He roared. He wriggled, he wiggled, he struggled and strained.

He only got himself more stuck.

He looked out into the darkness of his too-small cave, and a little sulphurous tear started to trickle down his cheek. He was stuck, with his vulnerable bottom sticking out into the air, and there was nothing he could do. He struggled until he was worn out, and he collapsed into a miserable and uncomfortable sleep. He woke up, remembered he was stuck and roared again; struggled again and slept again.

Sounds from outside woke him up. Shouts. Human voices. It was the men from the village. They had come to take revenge on him for eating all their sheep.

He roared, hoping to scare them away. Instead it seemed to encourage them. They started poking at him, from all directions.

He roared again. They started pulling on his tail. Oh, the pain! The indignity! He took a breath to roar again but suddenly, with a whoosh and a pop, he found himself shooting backwards out of the cave.

He landed on his back with a thump, the breath completely knocked out of him, and silently blinked in the bright sunshine.

He waggled his feet and flexed his wings until he managed to right himself, and looked around. He could just about see the humans running off into the distance, and he cocked his head and watched them go.

With a sigh, he turned and looked at his cave. It had been comfy when he moved in, but that was many years and a lot of sheep ago. It was time to look for something bigger.

Maybe something near a cattle farming town.

© Kari Fay

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