A soul in tension that's learning to fly
Condition: grounded - determined to try
Can't keep my mind from the circling skies
Tongue-tied and twisted just an earthbound misfit, I.
Mick had to admit it: he was lost. No! Damn it, he can't be lost! The trail was here a few seconds ago!
Don't panic. He's been lost before, and he got out of that mess unscathed. He just needs to keep his head
if he can.
It was starting to get late: his watch read a little after 6. A moment later, a miracle! The low clouds split, and the colors of the sunset were burning into Mick's skin, a rare feeling for a February day in Vermont. For what felt like the first time today, he could see the landscape around him through the thick, stubborn clouds: the beautiful slopes of Camel's hump, coated with endless dew-covered trees, greeted him, but they were farther downhill, waiting for him behind sharp, rocky inclines. Damn it! He was still near the top of the mountain, and safety was at the bottom.
It was Mick's first day of his two-week spring vacation and he decided to spend it traversing his favorite environment: the wilderness. Earlier this morning, he planned to hike with a couple of friends and camp out illegally (shhhhhhh!) at the peak of Camel's Hump. Those plans were thrown out when the friends became "sick." An experienced climber like Mick should call it a day right then and there: never go hiking alone, it's just inviting something bad to happen. But no, he just had to persist. He did decide that camping out was too risky, and decided that a full-day's hike was satisfactory: leave at sunrise, eat lunch on top of the world, maybe a nap, and then come home at 5 to watch some sports.
Well, he could miss the sports anyway: the Revs were having a horrible season as usual. He should worry more about the fact that he's stuck, lost, at the top of the highest undeveloped mountain in Vermont. Well look on the bright side: you're not hungry, you can see where you're walking, for now, and there should be a trail just down the mountain. He could do this; he just had to keep going downhill. Shouldn't be too hard, right?
Of course, right as the words entered Mick's head, the gods laughed at him and the thick, low clouds surrounded him once more. They were so thick, visibility was literally inexistent: how can you see where you're walking when you're unable to see the ground 3 feet in front of you? Mick cursed his luck once more: it started to snow. Snow! This weather was just too weird! Well, look on the dark side of life: you're cold, you're blind, your cell phone's power is dead (surprise!), you forgot your flashlight at home, and you have no idea how far away the trail is.
In other words, he was screwed.
Still, Mick was never the person to give up, and he trudged on downwards. While climbing over the rocks, he tried to remember his surroundings: not many trees around him, they were all down the slope, the simple rocky features and facets around him, and that large rock structure up the slope behind him. Wait? There aren't any large rock features up here.
Mick looked back, a fatal mistake, and he fell forward onto
Mick kept going downwards. Time started to slow for him, but his life didn't flash before his eyes. He wasn't thinking of falling. He wasn't thinking of death. He wasn't thinking anything. He was in a state of pure panic. So, of course, he started to scream. For what felt like minutes, hours, an eternity, but in reality less than two seconds, Mick hit rock bottom. His head took the brunt of the impact. Idiot! He has arms; they're a pretty good form of headgear! Luckily, he's somehow still conscious after the fall and he lies on the rock face. His head is in excruciating pain and other parts of his body were in minor pain as well. He tried to lift his head and, looking at where he landed, realizes the rocks stained red, before discovering the effects of blood loss.
He blacks out and falls back onto the now deep-red rocks.
Mick came to about - how long has it been? He doesn't jerk himself up, but opens his eyes slowly to see: rocks. Rocks? Rocks! At least they weren't stained dark red. They were lit up by
a ceiling fan? Where the hell is he? The fan was spinning slowly as Mick noticed it bolted into the rock ceiling. He followed the electrical wires running from the fan, down the wall to his left, where they met a desk. A normal desk, equipped with a laptop, a chair, and other normal
things. He's sleeping in a cave, that's also a house, for people. He was even sleeping in a normal, heavily-covered bed.
He sat up and quickly regretted it. His head was aching tremendously, but it wasn't bleeding. It was wrapped up! But by who? Who could've found him at the top of - what mountain did he climb? He pulled the covers off and discovered that his jacket and ski-pants had been taken off, and looked around to find them sitting on the nightstand next to the bed. His backpack was also leaning against the wall next to the desk, apparently ripped open by the fall. Whoever saved him deserves his endless gratitude.
Mick stood up and was rewarded with an extremely light head. The room was rock on all sides but one, which was made of wood. A door sat in the middle of the wall and Mick walked over and opened it. He couldn't see anything on the other side of the door, except for a dim red light down a tunnel. An extremely large tunnel, it seems: the ceiling was probably 50 or 60 feet above his head and the tunnel seemed wide enough to fit an interstate in it.
He stepped into the large cave and closed the door quietly behind him. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he noticed the floor to be almost perfectly smooth, no tripping over sharp rocks here! As he started walking towards the light, he noticed a smaller tunnel protrude into the rock wall to his left. It was still a huge tunnel, spanning some 30 or 40 feet in diameter and height; as Mick walked to it, he didn't see any light inside it, and proceeded to keep walking to the dim glow at the end of the larger tunnel.
The tunnel turned and he could see a large cave room up ahead. Sorry, a huge room. It was lit with varying colors of yellow and orange; there must be a fire set up in it somewhere. As he walked towards the large room, he could see the entrance to the cave: a wide, 30 foot high hole in the cave wall. It was pitch black outside and it was still snowing. Maybe he was only out for a couple of hours? As he kept walking forward, he could see some objects in the cave: an extremely large bedding of straw, maybe, a great indent in the wall where a large fire was quietly burning, and another pit with a large black object in it.
He kept walking forward and was walking into the massive room when he saw another object next to the immense fire. He stopped walking and looked at it, wondering what it was. It was dark grey and dark blue in coloring and it glittered. Glittered! Maybe it was a giant gemstone adornment? Mick kept looking at the weird object and realized its glittering surface was actually scales reflecting the fire. To be honest, it was quite beautiful. That's when the object moved slightly; it wasn't an adornment or decoration, it was an animal!
As Mick kept watching the animal, his amazement turned into disbelief. He could see the head, probably as large as him, had reptilian features and two giant horns protruding from the back of its skull. As it breathed, Mick could hear the light rush of wind through its nostrils. Looking at the beast's back, he noticed a pair of weird appendages above its arms, ending in large membranes wrapped around beast's back. It didn't take a genius to realize they were wings. The animal's tail was long and curved around to the beast's head.
Mick recognized the creature. What was it called? He knew he should've taken Mythology that semester of college! All he knew about the creature was that it's not real. It's fantasy! They don't ex-!
His trail of thought was broken by a whooping sound, a sound much like a slowly-spinning helicopter. The animal apparently heard it also as its eyes shot open. Mick, thankful that it wasn't facing him, quietly stepped into the shadow behind a clump of the bedding material (which turned out to be bags of pine needles.) Through the cave entrance flew in another one. A bigger one! It was gold colored with white details running along its torso. Its gigantic wings, white with shades of red, somehow fit through the mouth of the cave and allowed the beast to hover in the middle of the room. Mick had to look away due to the dust it was raising. When he looked back up, he noticed it was holding in its front arms a large amount of wood. It dropped the wood next to the fire and Mick finally remembered what these amazing animals were called:
Dragons. Fricking dragons! Sitting right in front of him! They were probably sentient; Mick thanked the lords for that. But then who lived in the bedroom-cave he woke up in, and bandaged his head, and removed his winter clothes
"It's about time you came back." Even though nobody could see him, Mick's mouth was fully ajar. The deep, masculine voice came from the grey dragon, which appeared to be grinning at the other dragon. Yep, they were sentient. And they spoke English! What luck!
"You have to go farther away every day; there's just no more wood," the golden dragon replied sullenly. Mick noticed that, even though it was larger than the grey dragon, the voice was higher. It was probably a female dragon, so maybe they were partners?
The other dragon chuckled of a sort, before saying, "Don't we live in the forest?"
"Ha ha. Hey Zack," the larger dragon said.
"Yeah?" the grey dragon, called Zack, replied.
"Do you smell something
off, in here?" Zack started sniffing the air and looked down the tunnel. Mick knew he was going to be found, but if he tried to run he would most definitely be heard. Maybe if he crept away? His thoughts were intruded by the larger dragon gasping, before almost screaming at Zack, "Zack! Did you bring somebody in here?"
"Then why do I smell a human in here? You know very well we can't be seen!" The dragon was apparently in a rage aimed at the grey dragon, apparently called Zack.
"He didn't see me."
The large dragon looked confused; "You took a sleeping man into our home?"
"Not exactly. It's tough to explain."
"Well, I have all night, and you aren't getting any supper till you tell me." Zack looked visibly defeated before mumbling out a soft "Yes, mom." No wonder he was smaller than the other dragon, he was its son! Mick blamed the lack of blood in his brain for his slow mental processes.
Zack sighed, before lying back down next to the fire. "Well you remember how cloudy it was today, before it started snowing?"
"Yeah, after you left, I thought it a textbook day for flying. Why, what about it?"
"Well, I thought it would be a perfect day to sunbathe above the clouds on, well
" Zack stalled and looked up at his mother, who already had a disapproving look on her face. "Well, on Camel's Hump." His mother didn't react, but was still glaring at his son. "Unfortunately, the sun wasn't out for maybe 2 hours before I was enveloped in cloud. Nobody would be stupid enough to hike up to me in the dense cloud cover, so I thought it a good place to take a nap. So I took a nap until when, at around six p.m., footsteps woke me up, and I mean this guy was literally twenty feet away from me, yet he didn't see me! I was literally this close from saying 'Boo!' but he started walking down the mountain, so I fell back asleep. A few seconds later though, I heard a scream; the guy apparently fell off a ten-foot cliff and I found him unconscious. I couldn't just leave him there!"
"Where is he now?" his mother asked quizzically after a long pause.
"He's sleeping in the guest room, last time I checked."
The mother sighed. Mick, even though full of curiosity and fear, chuckled inside for her: motherhood had its twists. "You could have called 9-1-1 or somebody else to help him."
Zack shook his head before saying, "Forgot to charge my phone." Mick chuckled again: how he could relate. But wait? A Dragon
having a cell phone? And using it? To call humans? This just doesn't add-
The mother dragon sighed, before mumbling, "Earthbound misfit. Well, let's take him to the rangers, I'm sure they can take care of him," the mother said, as she got up and started walking to the tunnel. As her son got up and followed her, she said, "Let's hope he didn't wake up yet."
With the two dragons behind him, Mick saw his chance to escape. Yet he didn't move. Instincts immediately told him, "You can't survive out there you idiot. You don't even know where you are!" Mick nodded to himself and admitted it: his instincts were correct. But what to do; what to do? He decides on sitting down in front of the great fire, its warmth burning him more than any sunset ever could.
He didn't have to wait long to hear the dragons' reactions of shock and surprise, and just a bit longer to hear their quick footsteps coming his way. When they entered the room, they stopped, their mouths hanging open. The moment of silence that followed had to be broken, so Mick ended it as nonchalantly as he could.
"So what's for dinner?"
Mick gleefully took the bowl of broth, surprised that the dragon who handed it to him was able to even hold it. He laughed inside: what an interesting situation! He's sitting in the middle of a giant cave and having dinner with a couple of giant, scaled lizards! He wasn't expecting this when he woke up this morning.
After the dragons found him, they really had no choice but to keep him in their cave and, luckily for the now-hungry Mick, it was dinner time. While Mick sat next to the fire, the smaller dragon, Zack, went deeper into the cave and came back with a bag full of silverware. The other dragon, his mother, placed the wood she brought into the cave around the black object in the ground: a cauldron as large as a SUV, which was already filled with water. The dragon stripped the skin off some giant pigs and submerged them in the water.
Nothing to alarm Mick, right? Just two dragons doing
normal stuff. Until Mick saw how the dragon lit the fire; all the stories about dragons breathing fire were true! The fact that Mick's eyebrows were gone and the light smell of sulfur were sufficient evidence. To the laughter of Zack, Mick sat up to the mother dragon's apology for her bad aim. Now that the broth was cooking, Mick could study the cave in detail. The room was well-lit by the fire but there were electric lights in the ceiling if need-be. The fire pit was man-made, or dragon-made, and set into the side of the cave wall with a small hole in the ceiling directly above it; even with the hole though, the ceiling was black with years of soot. Across the room from the fire was a pool of water with access to a stream. Next to the pool was another little cave set inside the wall which contained a giant container. When he asked what was in it, Mick learned it was a cooling container, which served as a sort of refrigerator. Other objects, like a giant digital clock which read "22:31", the pile of bedding material, the cauldron, and a large tarp hanging at the top of the cave entrance made up the cave's interior.
He could also study the dragons closer now: the smaller one, Zack, was still gigantic next to Mick. He had to be 20 feet tall and who-knows how long. Mick decided against guessing the other dragon's size; let's just say she was big! Her white and red wings, while covering her back, looked smaller than Zack's wings; Mick remembered how big they were when she flew into the cave, they must've been 200 feet wide! There's no telling how big her son's wings must be. What struck Mick the most was how silent the two dragons moved: they were almost completely silent when they walked; only when their scales rubbed against something did they make any amount of noise.
The broth took almost no time to cook and before he knew it a little bowl of the thick soup was given to him. The dragons both had bowls the size of bath tubs, of which they filled and started drinking out of.
"So I never learned your name," Mick said to the gold-scaled dragon.
"My name's Khryseis, but you can call me 'Kay.' That's my son, Zacomeneus, or 'Zack' for short. Who are you, if I may ask, and why were you on top of Camel's Hump on such a bad day for hiking?" the dragon, Kay, asked curiously.
"Mick Jackson. There were no clouds when I started climbing the mountain; only after I took a nap did visibility hit zero. I live in Burlington, currently going to the university there. May I ask: where are we?"
"Canada," Kay replied, to which Mick gagged on his dinner.
Zack chuckled and said, "We're only twenty miles away from Vermont, it's not that bad."
"Why do you live in a cave? And how is a cave this big undiscovered yet?" Mick asked.
"Well, if you can find a house large enough for two dragons, please tell us. As for the cave, it's big, warm, and hard to see from the air." Mick couldn't understand that last bit: a hole in the earth 30 feet high and who-knows how wide must be pretty easy to spot! His confusion must've been apparent on his face, for Kay said, "We camouflage the hole with that tarp over there and another tarp on the outside of the hole. It works, but there have been hikers who could see it wasn't natural."
Mick didn't feel safe asking "What happened to the hikers?" so instead asked about the cave.
"It's a giant network of ever more giant rooms," Zack answered. "It goes down for endless miles, but all we really ever need are the top half-dozen or so rooms." About the rooms, why is there a room made for humans? "We do get visitors every once in a while, so we turned a couple of the smaller chambers into guest bedrooms."
"So humans know about you?" Mick asked. He wondered how long two dragons could go undiscovered. How many dragons were there? Could there be hundreds, or even thousands? That could account for the large amount of dragon stories and some UFO sightings (after all, a UFO doesn't have to be a little green guy in a spacecraft).
"Friends, yes. We have family across North America, so we've met quite a number of humans on our travels," Kay answered. So they aren't a complete secret! But what kind of person would make friends with a pair (or family, if Kay spoke the truth) of giant, flying reptiles? Well, Mick was exactly that kind of person right now. That still doesn't explain how, out of "quite a number of humans," not one of them ran away to tell their crazy story. They had to be discovered at least once!
"I don't see how you could go so long undiscovered
" Mick said after he finished off his bowl of broth, but he couldn't finish the sentence after looking up at Kay. Even though his experience of facial expressions includes only humans, Mick could see Kay was obviously uncomfortable. He wondered if dragons could blush.
The dragon gulped, before saying, "Well, it's a long story, and it will have to be told tomorrow, as well as deciding what to do with you. Zack has to go to bed now."
"But mom!" her son said, "My vacation just started!" Kay was about to counteract her son's protests when a thought hit Mick: today was the first day of his vacation. The University of Vermont is the only school, institute, anything whose spring break started in February.
"You go to a university?" Mick asked Zack. Zack didn't answer but stared at him. His mother also seemed shocked and an improper moment of silence followed.
Kay grinned, before saying, "Mick, why don't you clean yourself in our mineral baths down inside the cave." That seems odd: not that they had a mineral bath, this cave never seemed to amaze Mick, but the fact that she so gleefully, and randomly, told him this so late at night. Not enough to set any alarm bells off. That's when Zack smiled before pushing Mick into the thought as well. Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! There was definitely something off in this picture, but Kay didn't give him enough time to think about it before telling him to follow Mick down the tunnel while she cleaned up. He always wondered later why he agreed to follow Zack; maybe just out of courtesy, or maybe because to disagree with a giant, fire-breathing beast didn't seem so appeasing.
When Zack entered the great tunnel, he flipped a large switch on the rock wall, turning on some electrical lights in the ceiling. What was almost completely dark earlier was now well lit. "The lights are for you by the way, I can see perfectly fine without them. Do you want them on?" Mick nodded: he wasn't going to walk blind again that day! Zack continued walking down the tunnel while Mick hurried on behind him.
They walked down the cave system for what seemed like half an hour. Mick reflected upon going to the Carlsbad Caverns; this cave structure rivaled it in both size and complexity. As they passed by pitch black room after pitch black room, Mick grew ever more worrisome. Would he be left down here to die? Unlikely. It would have taken less energy for Zack to eat him, and the dragon would've gotten a free snack. But he still couldn't understand why he was being brought to some strange underwater lake. Or even how there are electrical lights this far down.
"You'll enjoy these baths, they really are something special. They're called 'El Agua Azul.' My family first discovered them shortly after they arrived in America in the 17th century. Did you know that? Dragons were often stowaways on ships coming from Europe, where it was becoming quite hard to hide." This didn't seem possible; Mick looked up at the 20-foot tall dragon and remembered the size of a normal-sized carrack. No: it wasn't possible, but Mick didn't argue the point. Zack continued, "If you're wondering why the rock around us isn't cold, there's a magma chamber 2 miles under our feet. When I was born, this tunnel was actually 5 feet lower here, but the magma pushed it up. The heat also created the mineral baths, which should be around this corner. Ah! We're here."
Mick looked at the room in front of him. It was
unbelievable. Simply put it: it was otherworldly. In front of him was a large cave; stalactites of all sizes hung from the ceiling while the cave floor was unnaturally smooth. Embedded on the other side of the room, taking up much of the room's space, was a collection of perfectly round, overlapping pools, fed by water trickling down a wall. It was an unbelievable sight, but what interested Mick most that the water was glowing. Actually glowing! "El Agua Azul," Zack repeated, "The Blue Water. When they were first discovered, my ancestors thought they were made of ice." The dragon softly chuckled while he, too, gazed in wonder at the almost-magical room.
"What makes the water glow blue?" Mick asked.
The dragon stalled for a moment before saying, "Bioluminescent bacteria in the water. They can make you sick if you swallow them, so I advise you keep your head above the water. Also, take your clothes off before entering the pools."
Mick looked back to see Zack walking out of the room. "Wait, where are you going?" he said?
"To bed! It's getting late. If you need the lights to get back to your room, there's this big switch right here," Zack said, and flipped a giant switch on the wall, turning the lights off. Mick wondered if he could even move the switch. "You can stay in the water all night if you want, but don't go into that small pool on the left, there's a hole on the bottom where the water leaves the cave. Just think of it as the 'pool of peril'. Nighty night." With that, the dragon walked out of the room and became one with the black of the tunnel.
Wait! Damn it! He didn't even know how to get back to his room! He didn't move, wondering if Zack was actually gone or if he was still there, watching him. He picked up a small stone sitting next to him and threw it down the tunnel: the sound of rock on rock was all he could hear. He was alone: was that a good or bad thing? Either way, how many chances do you get to skinny dip alone in a glowing mineral bath, miles underground a dragon's cave?
Mick took his clothes off and placed them on the rim of the nearest pool. The water cascaded from the rim of a higher pool into this one, which emptied via a small waterfall into the "pool of peril". He sat in the pool, which was only two or three feet deep. The water was hot, hotter than any hot tub Mick's ever been in. It didn't have a searing touch, but more of a soothing sensation. The dragons were right: it felt amazing. He looked down into the pool and noticed the water itself was glowing. Maybe these magical bacteria were suspended in the water? He scooped some water in his hand and, low and behold, it was glowing in his hand! He noticed that even though his arm was out of the water, it was still glowing much like the water itself. That better not be permanent!
He laid his head on the pool's rim and started to doze off. What a magical place; it was extremely relaxing, Mick had to admit it. He wouldn't mind coming back here again. He started becoming dozy and, soon after, quietly fell asleep.
Mick jerked awake. He was dreaming, if he could call it a dream; it resembled more of a jumble of meaningless thoughts and feelings. Of course, as always, he couldn't remember any of it and was left knowing he had a dream. That doesn't help. It was a weird dream anyway: something about flying, trees, and-
Dragons. Mick remembered where he was: in a glowing mineral bath under a cave inhabited by
dragons. It could be worse. But something's not right. Mick moved his hands and feet: everything worked perfectly, except for the fact that his whole body was numb. He touched his face: nothing, it felt exactly as if he had inhaled two lungfuls of laughing gas. That can't be good. He looked down into the water to see it was still glowing, but now the water around him was glowing much brighter.
The bacteria! They must be why Mick is so numb. He has to get out of the water, now! He stood up in the water and noticed his entire skin was glowing with the same iridescent blue light, even his shoulders, which were never underwater. He hopes it'll go away once he dries himself off. He stepped out of the water and red flags lit up: for some reason, something inside him screamed: "Don't get out of the water!" But he had to get out these damned pools! If these bacteria caused the numbness, he should feel normal after drying himself off.
He stepped completely out of the water and learned a valuable lesson in life: always trust your instincts. What was once completely numb was now replaced by a ripping pain. There was no way to describe it. He later compared it to having his skin ripped from his body while a cheese grader rubbed against his flesh and bones. This pain quickly combined with panic and confusion; maybe he accidentally drank the water. But holy hell it was still painful.
Mick stood up, or tried, but was quickly forced onto his knees. He had to get help, but who could - Zack! He remembered the switch on the wall; perhaps turning on the lights would wake Zack up. But the switch was on the tunnel wall: probably two-hundred feet from Mick. He tried running over but met little success; 20 feet was all he could muster before his body crumbled beneath him. The pain became ever more excruciating and Mick blacked out.
For only a moment. He regained consciousness due to the same pain that cause him to black out, a thought so comical that Mick actually laughed; a maniacal, masochistic laugh. He was now on his hands and knees as blood started coming out of his mouth and nose and the rock floor below him became an all-to familiar color. All comical relief was replaced by horror as Mick looked at his hands.
They were still glowing blue, just like his arms, legs, and every square millimeter of his body. But his hands looked - different. Mick could swear his pinkie fingers were shorter and his hands looked bigger. He watches his hands in horror as his pinkie fingers slowly shrink until they are completely absorbed into his palms. He looked at his feet which had undergone the same process, but the other toes had lengthened.
He looked back at his hands and arms and realized his skin was changing colors. His skin, still glowing, slowly morphed from its normal, beautiful tan coloring to a shadowy black. It happened all over his body: it looked much like full-body frostbite. It was disgusting. What kind of bacteria was this!
Another wave of unheeding pain hit him like a sledgehammer, accompanied with numerous popping noises; his bones were changing. His actual bones! Mick felt as if every bone is his body fractured over and over again. He looked on in horror as his body started to swell up and enlarge. His arms and legs grew in mass as his torso elongated. A loud pop came from his back as his shoulder blades exploded, or that's what it felt like. He looked over his shoulder and discovered the source of the noise: an arm had popped out of his back! He discovered another arm had popped out the other shoulder blade and watched the two alien appendages quickly grow in size and length.
Mick still didn't understand what was happening to him. He had grown tenfold in size and there was no sign of slowing down. More excruciating pain, this time in the pelvic region as Mick hears ever more popping noises. He looks down his body in horror to yet another appendage growing between his legs. It didn't take a genius to figure out what it was. What the hell was happening to him? He looked back at his two new arm-things and noticed a hand and four fingers had formed; the fingers were growing, and growing, and growing. Before his eyes, the fingers, now longer than the arms themselves, were connected by thin webbing, the blue light reflecting from the baths easily visible through them. They looked awfully familiar, a lot like-
Wings; he was growing wings! Realization hit him: Mick was transforming into a dragon! Those damned dragons; they must've known this would happen to him! When he gets his hands on them - he looked down at his now gigantic hands, and noticed his fingernails had fallen out and larger, claw-like nails started pushing out of the raw fingertips. Even more painfully, his toes underwent the same changes, producing giant, black claws. More popping sounds followed suit as his torso twisted and turned, a gut-wrenching feeling.
He was still growing, now almost a tall as the ceiling was high. Too weak to keep standing, his arms and legs crumbled beneath him and he landed into the pool of blood beneath him while his tail landed in the baths behind him. A massive migraine hit him and for the first time that night, he screamed. The resulting sound was alien to him, resonating almost as deep as Zack's voice, and it echoed limitlessly down the tunnel. Please, those lizards must've heard that. The pain in his head increased and before his eyes his face expanded outward. His eyes moved to the other sides of his new morphed skull, forcing Mick to close his eyes: it was nauseating. He also knew his depth perception was probably now shot.
The pain at the back of his head intensified, a fact Mick thought impossible, as his head is forced to look upwards from his new, long neck. His skull now morphed beyond recognition, the aching pain subsided and was replaced by a stinging feeling along his skin. He opened one eye and looked down at his body, where the skin was hardening and cracking into scales. He realized he wasn't truly black but a dark green. The scales lining his underbelly were a lighter shade of green and formed into large breast plates that ran the entirety of his body's length.
The scales were quickly completed, for the stinging pain subsided. Apart from feeling like his organs were being scrambled, his body became numb once more. The transformation took less than 3 minutes but he could still feel a remnant of its pain intertwined with the emptiness of being numb. This feeling never subsided as the new dragon lay there, wondering what the hell just happened. He still couldn't move and his new wings now lay limply on his back. Mick wondered if rolling on his back would crush them; they looked so fragile.
An electrical feeling then hit him; at the same time, his eyes, nose, and mouth simultaneously closed, as if sucked close by a vacuum. He tried to breath but nothing happened. Unable to expand his lungs, he panics and tries to force his lungs open, but again met with failure. Unable to scream, he silently blacks out, but not before hearing the sound of claws on the rock floor.