A Memorable Fancy

There is a room. It is dark and hot. Terribly hot, dreadfully hot, and darker than hot, but hot. Endless layers of steaming black earth are piled atop the room, separating it from the surface, and endless layers of thick harsh clouds fill the sky above, all but blotting out the sun. There is no hint nor shadow of light in the room, no, not even hope of it. This is the darkest place in all creation, where all good things come to die and all wicked souls come to rest.

But the heat! The awful, oppressive heat! If there is a hotter place in all creation, who could bear it? The torturous lakes of fire burn with an unimaginable intensity despite, no rather, because of their non-luminescence. They cast darkness and that darkness hangs heavy in the air, smothering, smoldering anyone who might attempt to enter. It is maddening, terrible. Utterly unbearable.

And yet, there are those who call such places home. This room is not empty. Just now! a massive, scaly beast lies asleep on the floor, asleep or dead. It matters not which, one is but a slice of another, a moment of one the same as the other. For now he is breathing and each breath heaves his hulking body up and down, up and down, up and down like the pendulum of a grand clock, counting down to eternity.

There is but one entrance to his room, one entrance locked; the great red dragon—yes, he is a dragon—needs his rest. Nothing should disturb the sanctity of his sanctuary.

He wakes, rises. Quick! what shall we call him? But we already know his name.

Ridley roars and shakes his fires in the burdened air, hungry clouds swag on the deep. His anger burns hot with the embodiment of draconic wrath, and his disposition is dark, dark enough that he does not stand out, even in a room such as this. The source of his feelings is not present, but he has brought it with him in his mind. Dreams and memories are tangible here and he knows it.

He sighs—the fire is gone—and sprawls flat on his belly, prostrate with dejection. He lies on the ground and to himself says, 'Nothing is wrong. I am neither vanquished nor injured.'

A groan follows this. A nonexistent headache flares to life once again. His jaw is throbbing, ribs sore, and if he moves his right shoulder, it will pop and send a wave of pain crashing onto his corporal shore. Tricks of the mind. Tricks of the mind and nothing more. A little injured, maybe, but only sore. Given time he'll be good as new. No, better.

He settles down, relaxes, breathes. The noxious fumes and heat and darkness would be hell to most, but he has made it his heaven. He would rather be nowhere else than here. 'Am glad,' says he, lying on the floor, forced smile on his lips, 'Am glad.'

He closes his eyes, relaxes, sleeps.