By Susan Lyttek
I’d been studying the atmosphere for years now. Years. All in the hopes of establishing the data to corroborate the impossible.
But I should explain, I suppose. Over forty years ago, I was born under a perfect dragon storm. According to the experts, that happens only once every hundred years. But I knew it happened more often than that.
The problem was proving it.
Since the first time Mom told me about the night of my birth, something awoke in me. I swore I could feel a change come through the air. From then on, the approaching warm fronts would reach out to me. I experienced, shall we say, temporary alterations. But scientists, as a rule, are not prone to believing the experiences of kids, and Mom got so tired of my claims that she refused to tell me the story anymore. But I knew.
As soon as I was old enough, I pursued meteorology. I did my thesis on unusual weather phenomena. I didn’t mention the dragon storms. If I could prove their frequency, that would be enough. I earned tenure, wrote papers, taught classes, and bided my time gathering data.
But any genius is bound to have a nemesis, and I am no exception. We officially met, only once, at a conference in Tucson. I gave a presentation on what creates a weather sensor. He approached me afterward.
“You’re a nutcase, Dr. Wayne. You’re like those water dowsers who swear they can feel a source with a stick. Only you claim people can use their whole bodies.”
I took a deep breath. I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of letting him know that he irritated me. “Dr. Floyd, even you can’t argue the years of study on the existence of weather sensitives. Just last year, you cited one such study in a paper.”
He shook his finger at me. “Shame on you for seeing one reference of mine and using it to support your ludicrous position.”
People had started to assemble to find out what we were discussing. I wanted to end it. “All I’m saying is that we don’t know what the human body is capable of. With training, certain people will be able to detect storms—probably better than any of our software.”
Dr. Floyd scoffed. “Don’t go coloring personal opinion and calling it research.”
He proceeded to make it his mission to belittle me. I would write a paper, and he would argue against it. I would speak at a conference, and somehow, he would find out my topic and speak on why it wasn’t valid.
Floyd’s opinion irritated me, but I wouldn’t let it faze me. I could wait, after all. I had seen his claws. In time, he would see mine.
Over the next year, the weather fluxes intensified. Lightning strikes did more damage, and thunder practically roared across the globe. By my calculations, the next dragon storm would be on October 16th in the Yucatan.
Having witnessed so many failed messianic date claims—and their resulting fallout—over the years, I didn’t announce a thing. I wrote my paper. In it, I explained the timing, the results, and what I expected to occur based on my research. It was date sealed to prove when I had composed it and attached to an email that would distribute to all the journals in the field on October 17th.
I did, though, invite Dr. Floyd to meet me atop Nohoch Mul in Coba. I had no doubt that he would show up. To cover my tracks, I took a vacation cruise with a stop in Cozumel. I would, by all intents and purposes, stay with my tour group.
Late afternoon, the sun still lit the sky, not even hinting at the weather that approached. That meant nothing. Any expert knew rainforest weather was unpredictable. Still, I think only Floyd and I expected what front was coming in.
The warm breezes fed me. They nourished me in a way food never had. This, I was sure, would be a more intense front than any I had ever experienced. My predictions would come to pass. They had to.
Watching the sky with growing anticipation, I made it halfway up the pyramid before he arrived.
“Are you sure you want to go through with this, Dr. Wayne?”
I glanced down at him and detected the smirk on his face.
Instead of taking the bait, I turned, faced the steep slope, and continued to climb without looking back to see if he followed. I knew he would.
“You’re being a fool!” His voice bellowed suddenly. “You have no idea what you are getting into.”
He was wrong, of course. I could feel it. The sky blackened, and the storm coursed through me.
I heard his talons clinking on the stone as I changed.
If anyone saw two dragons battling over the treetops that night, they said nothing.
My report made me famous. It contained nothing about actual dragons, of course. That would be ridiculous.
And when reports identified a sulfur-burnt corpse in the Mexican jungle as Dr. Floyd, I acted appropriately shocked.
I look forward to flying again soon.
The air is changing.