The five ducked into a cave and went as far back as they could go. They knew that if it had seen them that nowhere would be safe. This cave would be either their burial tomb or a dinner pale. Just outside they saw a shadow cross over the opening. The shadows of the trees moved with it showing that the form was above them. Lars was the youngest among them at fourteen. He stepped out to see if it was clear. Lars wore a mismatched mix of armor, cloth and animal skin. The armor was many years old as was the cloth. It was passed to him by his older brother. The places where the dragon ripped him in half was sewn together and patched with the animal fur. Out in the wild, they had to use everything they found. Hester was the oldest of them at forty-three. His armor was stitched together with leather made from the skin of his long-dead father.
Cheap and easily lost
The two waved the rest out, and soon they were on their way again. Val watched the skies. She was seventeen and on her way to meet her new husband in a safe village about three days walk from their old home. Her last husband died defending their home while the others tried to escape the dragon. That was a year ago. She married him in a ceremony when she was nine, but she didn’t live with him until her sixteenth birthday. A week later he was dead along with everyone else not traveling with her. A nearby village offered them haven if any childbearing age women would agree to marry when they arrived. The other two were twenty-two and thirty-one. Helena and Ester watched as their husbands and children were eaten alive by the dragon. They understood that life was cheap and easily lost.
Territorial and Vicious
As they walked, they found themselves near an old road. Most people knew to stay off the roads. Large open places attracted the dragons. They passed a large strange structure the elders of their village called an overpass for something once called a freeway. It was said that mechanical contraptions rolled on wheels on these places along the open roads back when there was a larger civilization. Back then this place was called Tennessee. It was said that someone developed a way to make dragons using something called cloning and DNA. The dragons eventually fought back and took over. Over time, most of the dragons died off due to a lack of food. The few that were left were territorial and vicious. Most of the stories about the places that were known collectively as the modern ancient world were dying off. Old stories about the people that killed off humankind didn’t keep the dragons away or any of the other beasts that seemed to want to kill and eat what was left.
It was suicidal to travel at night, so they found refuge in an old structure in what was once called McKissack Park in Nashville. The ruins of this once great place were laid out in front of them. The Village of Music City was one of the last places where people lived in this parts for hundreds of miles. Their old village was known as Memphis. It had been spared from the dinner plate for many years. People grew a custom to be able to go out until a year ago when a new dragon came around and killed the dragon whose territory they lived. One person that found them after the attack was from this place they were traveling. He was one of many that went from village to village trading in goods and information. He traded his information for an hour with Val. To her surprise, he spent the entire time just talking to her. He spent so much time either alone or being forced to sell information that being able to just talk to someone was a relief.
They made it to the Cumberland River and saw something that just ended all hope. A stadium was nearby. Many of the dragons took over these large arenas as nests. To prove this the dragon’s head popped up just over the wall. A sign on the stadium gave the dragon a name. They called it Nissa. Lars figured the sign said Nissan Stadium, but he had no idea what a Nissan was. Everyone took cover. They could hear other dragons. Smaller ones. Everything around the stadium was leveled. Ancient bridges were in the river. The remains of the village were just a smoking char. If they stayed here, then they were either dragon food or food for the feral dogs that traveled the ancient highways.
A Mythical City
That night they traveled along the river until they found a building that was still smoking. The heat helped them keep warm. That night Val went to Lars and made him a man. He was the closest to her age, and she didn’t want to be alone anymore. They set up camp in a place called the Grand Ole Opry. In a sea of destruction, it was the only place left standing. Inside one of the buildings, they found a map. In that map, they found the location of a mythical city that was said to stretch for miles. They decided to travel that day to this place called New York. They just hoped they could make it there.