The Siege of Rome

Apocalypse Rome by Giampaolo Macorig from Flickr
Apocalypse Rome by Giampaolo Macorig from Flickr

I was nearly breathless when it happened. I watched from my window as a large shadow covered the sky. If you concentrate closely, the shadow appeared to be made up of little black dots and some other colors. I stood by the window, me and my ma and my sister and my brother and my grandpa and my papa. Everything went silent and the electricity went out. I leaned over the balcony to see the buildings on the Ponte Vecchio and everywhere else. The crowd were gazing at the sky and the traffic of cars had came to a full stop. Nothing worked. Slowly, the moon became visible only slightly, and out of nowhere the shadow burst into a million flying bugs like an erratic swarm of hell. It was then the revelation became clear. One of the ‘bugs’ that came at me was a dragon! I ran inside and shut the patio door but the ferocious dragon broke through the glass. This one had no arms but dangerous claws for gripping. It roared at us as we scurried away from it.

The front door broke open and another dragon, this one using its wings to walk, had tried to spray us. I guided my family to the other door and we ran down the stairs of the shabby apartment we call home. We ran as fast as we could and the dragon clumsily followed, hitting the wall and scratching at it just to try and climb on it and eventually tumbling into us. We all managed to hold onto the banister as the dragon tumbled past us and into the gaping. I swiped the long hair from my face and caught my breath. We continued down the stairs but as we progressed they became packed with other desperate people like us trying to reach the safe room. When we did manage to get to the safe room the door was already open and an old man was ushering the people in. my little brother made it in first, and then my mom and sister, my grandpa and papa. As I made my entry I was suddenly grabbed from behind by a dragon’s fore claws. My mama grabbed me by the hands, and everyone came to help. The old man pushed her out of the way and slammed the iron doors shut. The dragon tried to escape with me but its head was caught between the banisters. I stabbed it’s leg with my father’s pocket knife and it screamed shrilly and threw me against the wall. I took a quick glance at the creature and spun off downstairs to the furnace room. It didn’t dare follow. I know why the dragon sought out this building.
Many years ago, when I was a child, my father and his friends were dragging in a huge alien princess they caught in a net. They told me to never go near it. I didn’t listen. I visited the creature in the furnace room they held her in, and she revealed herself to me as ‘The Crotonian Queen.’ The chains were made of strange plasma-scientific stuff I couldn’t grasp. Touching it burned my fingernail off. Now I realize she is what they are here for.

* * *

For seventeen days we stayed in our apartment building. We boarded up the walls and doors and made a small hole in the cellar for escape. For days we ate nothing but oatmeal, polenta and canned vegetables. For seven days we heard them outside. They screeched, they roared, they yelled. On the eighth day it ceased. We heard nothing. I sat in on the bed in my mother’s room. She was brushing Narcissus’s hair. It was the first time I ever saw her look so distraught. I could read her mind and pick up her thoughts, but that would be an invasion of privacy. The extreme summer heat had us sweating profusely. Mother wore an old pair of jeans shorts that she found and wore a white tank top. Her long sandy-brown hair was slowly starting to frizz up. I used my (now deceased) Grandmother’s fan to cool myself. Ever since the war we had not heard any outside communication of any kind. On day three we were watching old episodes of Spongebob to calm ourselves. Then suddenly the TV station went blank and it started broadcasting that colorful visual that signaled the death knell for TV. Narcissus began to cry, and I saw mother hold her tightly. At that time the dragons were dousing the city with fire. My dragon, Kunell, hadn’t turned on me yet.
On day four we listened to a man’s news broadcast on the iPod dock radio. I remember it so clearly:

Today as I wake, I hear the creatures from above screaming as they douse the world’s major cities in fire. Who knew our dear dragons would turn against us? Have they no will power at all?
I went outside today. Yeah, shocking! I know. My intentions were to buy ice cream from the nearest gelato cart I saw. Guess what I saw: nothing!
The city wasn’t even on fire.
I explored around a bit and now I have come to a conclusion: only part of the country is under fire. So where is everyone? I’ll get to that part.
I took a stroll around and saw this huge huge HUGE castle in the center of Rome. I saw those weird humanoid-dragon soldiers taking people into the castle. These people were chained up like slaves. I wanted to get a closer look at it, but a dragon spotted me. You know I ran like hell. I have since moved from my old location, thus explaining why I did not come on at 4 o’clock as usual. You know what I miss? My quiet life. I have a makeshift map of this country and all it’s safe zones. There is a safe-zone in San Gimignano in Tuscany. If you see me and I don’t see you, shout my name. Or…errr…don’t shout.

I liked the way he talked. He wasn’t frantic, mopey or depressing. I bet you’re wondering why we haven’t made our escape to San Gimignano. The answer is simple: my cousin Laurel is in labor. My mother (whose name is also Narcissus, but to not confuse you I’ll refer to her as “mother” or “mama”) had visited Laurel earlier, and Laurel told her to leave. Of curse there was no easy agreement.
“Mama,” I said lightly, and she gazed at me with her sad eyes, “Ma, when can we leave?”
“We will leave, soon.” She said.
I sighed. She said that a lot. It seems she still didn’t age. The immortality was keeping her alive past her human years. To me it was astounding to see her as a young twenty seven-year-old when in reality she is just a few thousand years over that age. I felt calm for a while…
…and then everything started to shake. Kuvell ran into the room and jumped in Narcissus’s lap. I heard Laurel scream at he top of her lungs. We all rushed out of the room as the shaking became more violent. We ran down the flight of stairs, holding tight on the rails as everything shook. I saw Laurel’s husband, Armando, getting ready to open the boarded doors.
“What are you doing?!” I shouted.
“we have to get out of here!” he shouted back.
Mother shouted in a tone of desperateness, “No! We can’t!”
“We have to!” he said.
At this time everyone had come down. Mother turned her gaze to Laurel, whom lay on the gurney. Laurel nodded in reassurance. Mother sighed and did a head count of everyone in the room. When the final board was removed Armando opened the door. The first light I saw in days was brighter than the sun. I pushed the Gurney and Laurel and I were first to brace the bright light.
The black guy on the radio was right! It’s the same as before!
Only a few buildings were badly burned beyond recognition. Other than that, everything was the same. Everyone spoke in whispers as they saw the deserted buildings. Everything was quiet like as if time had stopped within itself. As I rushed the gurney to an alleyway I heard the rush of flapping wings.
Little Narcissus’s voice rang like a terrified shrill scream. Her warning was too late. A young dragon had taken me in it’s foreclaws. I saw Laurel’s pained face as I was lifted higher from her. I heard my mother screaming at the dragon. I’ll never forget what she yelled.

* * *

Armando rushed Laurel to the nearest corner. Laurel couldn’t refrain from screaming as she gave birth. Little Narcissus silently sniffed as her mind replayed the sudden moment like an iPod looping a song for constant replay. Her mother, Narcissus, walked in circles in the middle of the empty street as she thought of ways to save her son.
“He’s 21. He can be very resourceful.” Said one of the survivors, Davion.
“We have to try and find a way to save him.” Whispered Narcissus’s assistant, Juniper.
Armando wrapped the little child in a cloth and kissed it’s forehead. Laurel closed her eyes for a moment to fall asleep.
Narcissus swiftly turned around and saw her daughter running towards her. Chasing her were two dragons, both the same size of the one that took Jonathan. She ran to her child and in that same split second one of the dragons took them both. Juniper started heaving and sweating, and when a red dragon laid it’s eyesight on her, she broke into a run. Neither of them could avoid the dragons. They were hiding the whole time, waiting for Laurel to finish birthing her child. The dragons had been hiding and waiting patiently.
When I opened my eyes I knew I’d see him there. At the center of the castle was a dragon; definitely not the type you’d see in video games or on the cover of Fantasy books. I knew this dragon very well. I took one sweeping gaze at him, and then I spoke, “father?”

Author Notes: I wrote this long ago and revamped it many times. In the original, there was no radio broadcast and it picked up in the original version of Towers. I can’t remember the original ending, but it sure felt lackluster. Here’s what I wrote for the Stuffy Monologue in the 5th update of D&C: Don’t think Rome was spared during the war just because dragons live there. It’s as two-sided as two-sided gets. Sometime during the calm of the war, the dragons kept people inside their towers. I can’t remember why they did it. They said something about a project called Zenith. And there are speculations about who created the New York virus, Unyos.


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