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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

Subconscious Actualization Is A Bitch

Nine billion, nine hundred and ninety-nine million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and sixty-two bottles of beer on the wall... Nine billion, nine hundred and ninety-nine million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and sixty-two bottles of beer...

Jack Paris, he was remembering slowly, really hated space.

Ebreth backed up in slow motion, staring at the huge reptilian monster. His first instinct was to bolt into the hallway; there was no way the thing could fit through the door to follow him. That would leave Brett trapped on the other side of the dragon, though, and even if she wasnít really Brett, that couldnít be good. The dragon ate my destiny, he imagined trying to explain himself tomorrow. Ebreth felt light-headed.

He tried to will a sword into his hand, but just then the dragon lunged for him and he had to dive out of the way of its snapping jaws. It was unbelievable how fast the thing could move. When he came back up what was in his hand was a bullwhip. Well, that was close enough; Ebreth Tor had a weapon proficiency in that too. He lashed at its eye, hoping he might blind it, but at the wrong moment the dragon blinked its scaly eyelid and the tip of the whip caromed uselessly off.

Not the best weapon to be facing an armored monster with, Ebreth conceded. How in the Hell a dragon had crawled out of his subconscious mind was beyond him; heíd never seen one in his life. The thing was at him again before he could pull the length of the whip back around for another attack, and scrambling away from its foot-long teeth left him in an even crappier position. By the time he finally got another shot off the dragon was practically on top of him. He struck at its snarling mouth this time. It bit reflexively. One thing going his way in this combat, finally.

Ebreth pitched the grip of the whip away from himself underarm, sending it slingshotting up around the dragonís snout. It reared at that and Ebreth had to leap a couple of feet up in the air to reconnect with his dangling weapon, but he did, and the weight of his body pulled the whip good and tight around the monsterís snout. It made a muffled roar and strained its jaws, but Ebreth was a good 230 pounds and even a dragon wasnít going to be able to get its mouth open against that kind of counterweight. It shook itself like a gigantic dog as he hitched up the length of the whip, sparks hissing out of its nostrils and the sides of its muzzled maw, but the pirate held on.

This time, what materialized in his right hand was a sword.

The first thrust pierced the monsterís hide all right but went wide, spraying hot blood all over him. The dragon made a horrible screaming sound through its nostrils and battered him frantically with its claws. Ebreth gritted his teeth and tried again, burying his arm up to the elbow in the monsterís throat, and severed its spinal cord entirely. It reared one more time, dizzily; fire jetted improbably out of the first neck wound, which must have punctured whatever windpipe it used for its breath weapon, and scorched the hell out of one of Ebrethís feet as he swung there. He let go of the whip. Twisted in midair like a cat as he dropped, a pretty good landing on one foot, still holding the bloody, smoking sword. Seven minutes, he estimated it had taken. Not bad if he did say so himself.

Then the body of the dead dragon came crashing down on top of him.

Nine billion, nine hundred and ninety-nine million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and forty-four bottles of beer on the wall...

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