Dragon University


Photo: rafaelsoares on Flickr Edit: Grace Li

Alexandra Stassinopoulos, Writer

Read writer Alexandra Stassinopoulos’s flash fiction piece, based on a Young Writers’ Club prompt:

I tightened my legs around my dragon’s leathery back in an attempt to keep her in line. All dragons were nervous when someone they didn’t know rode them; I just wished that I hadn’t been told to ride a different dragon on the day of the final test.

Our instructor pulled her dragon to face us. Behind her, the wide corridor came to an end at the door to the indoor arena. My heartbeat raced as test anxiety raced through my body.

“Okay people, this is the real deal now. All the training we’ve done in the past year has led up to this moment. Don’t embarrass me.” She glared at my training class before she continued. “These are not colored lights any more; if the fire hits you, it will hurt. A lot. If the water hits your dragon, they will hurt you.”

My instructor paused and for a brief moment the only sound in hallway was the powerful whoosh of our dragons’ wings.

Then she smiled. “Let the fun begin.”

Our instructor pulled her dragon out of the way as the doors behind her opened. A black emptiness stretched out before us; the training room lights would not turn on until someone flew inside. They would have an immediate disadvantage.

Without saying anything, the boy to my left spurred his dragon forward and they shot off into the dark room. The rest of us followed closely behind him as the powerful lights turned on.

I swooped and dove and twisted through to air; new dragon or not, my ride and I were in perfect synchronization. And then, she got wet.

I barely avoided a stream of fire that a sadistic instructor shot at me, only to be doused with an ice cold stream of water jetting out from the ceiling. My dragon roared in annoyance and immediately dove. I was just able to grab the rope in my gloved hands before she threw me off.

As my dragon twisted roughly and bucked in mid-air to get the water off of her “sensitive” scales, my grip began to slip. When she twisted upside down, I was left clawing desperately at her slippery skin.

A second later, I could hear myself screaming as the training room floor zoomed towards me. And then, everything went black.
Two Years Later

I feel the heat of the dragon’s flame next to my check. I pull sharply to the right and yell back to my partner. “Go left, Cassidy!”

In my peripheral vision, I see Cassidy’s copper colored dragon twist through the air to avoid our opponents’ fire. She pulls up next to me and we dive so fast her hair becomes a streak of black behind us.

The other teams’ guards come towards us and she shouts, “Distract them! I’ll go for the flag.”

She pulls to the left and I fly straight towards the flag. One of the guards flies in front of me and zigzag at the last moment. “Inferna, now!” My dragon roars and the guards is forces his dragon to drop out the sky to avoid her flames.

The other guards come after me and I flip my dragon backwards and we fly straight down. My pursuers go into a spiral formation and suddenly there are four green jerseys surrounding me. It’s too bad that they’re chasing the wrong person.

That being said, it would sort of ruin my summer plans to get full body burns the last week before break. With the four guards on my tail, it’s all I can do to avoid the four streams of flames aimed at me.

Come on, Cass. Hurry up…

Suddenly, a streak of copper flashes ahead of me and I make a mad dash for our safety line. Cass crosses the line just ahead of me, looking more like a copper bullet than a third year dragon rider.

The second she’s in safe territory, Cass lets go of her dragon’s ropes and does a victory lap around our area of the arena, the green team’s flag glittering out behind her.

On the other side of the line, the other team is more subdued. They are clearly pissed at having lost the exercise to the youngest riders in their class. Again.

The captain of the other team catches my eye with an icy stare and my stomach burns with anxiety. Here, on the field, Cass and I were invincible riders. Anywhere else we were just two other students, smaller than almost everyone else.

I nudge my dragon over by Cass, who is talking with another member of our team. Her cheeks are flushed and her grey eyes sparkle when she throws her head back and laughs. I steel myself to shatter her happy moment. Then, I tell her to put the flag away.