Removing themselves from the tent, the three of them sat cross-legged on the sheet of tarpaulin, and looked skywards.
“Red sky in the morning, shepherds’ warning”, said Japheth.
“Red sky at night, shepherds’ delight”, added Shem.
“Baked potatoes on lamb, shepherds’ pie!”, said Ham.
Shem plucked a sod of grass and threw it at Ham. It struck the top of his head and bounced away; they all laughed at that.
Outside of the city, the sky appeared vast and overwhelming, its shocking redness increasing its imposingness; the broken plane of cloud resembled a sheet of bloody tripe.
“I imagine it’s like being inside the belly of a dragon”, said Japheth.
“Like a belly of fire?”, asked Shem.
“Do you think the dragon’s fire starts in its belly?”, said Ham, “wouldn’t it more likely start from its lungs?”
“Don’t be daft. If we were inside its lungs, it’d have a coughing fit. It’d cough us to the other side of this field!”, cried Shem.
“It’s commonly held that the dragon makes fire from its pyrotid glands, situated at the back of its throat”, said Japheth.
“Are they very big, these pyro whatsit glands?”, asked Ham.
Japheth shrugged in ignorance and said, “Dunno. Why?”
“Well, they’d have to be to get us, this tarp’, the tent, the field and all these trees inside…”
Shem plucked up another sod to throw at Ham and caught him squarely on the side of his face. Pieces of grit flew into his ear. Just then, the dragon coughed and expelled all three across the field and over the trees in a plume of flame. They screamed but Ham screamed the loudest.
He woke in the dim half-light of new day with Shem barking hotly into his left ear. A rasping, congested voice, something about his turn to light the fire, put the water on, and make breakfast. He’d been dreaming again. Outside it was raining; he could hear it softly pattering on the canvas overhead. It looked like another wet day ahead, like the six before; and how many more?
Removing himself from the tent, he crouched down and lifted a corner of the tarpaulin which covered the fire pit and the wood. The wood seemed dry but the pit was waterlogged. He looked skywards and cursed until the rain burned his eyes and he had to turn again to the ground. It was a good job they weren’t shepherds, he thought, because they sure hadn’t heeded the warning.
Inspired by and written for Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo #writephoto prompt – “Renewal”.
image by Sue Vincent.