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Typhoon - Chapter 3(2)

by DougalOfBiscuits


A/N: Okay, so, if you can get through my love of flashbacks to flesh out the world and characters in maybe not the most relevant way, I can promise promise promise that there is danger at the end.

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Callum MacKenzie really hadn’t been certain that would work. He’d noticed from the friends Josie made – loud-drunk artsy types who always strolled around campus after the pubs had closed singing joke songs about various members of staff, or other education establishments in the country – that she valued confidence in the people she associated with. Asking her out straight up had been a risk – you never knew when a young woman would take offence to forwardness – but it had paid off.

He had wandered around the West End, scoping out which restaurant to take her to, which one would be most to her taste, for hours. Of course, this had included a fair amount of skulking in side streets whenever he spotted anyone who might take offence to his presence. He didn’t want any more drama.

He sighed as he pushed open the door of a small Italian place on Byre’s Road. It hadn’t always been this way.

***

When Callum was young, his imagination had brought him friends. Kids had come to him with their hopes and dreams and he’d drawn them pictures, or written them stories, all about what their lives would be like when they one day achieved them. This had been a small business, with lunch snack based profit margins, that had been established one day after a potential bully asked why he was sitting with his nose in a book rather than playing football with all the other boys. Luckily, the questioner had caught sight of Callum’s current drawing, become entranced, and asked if he could draw him winning the world cup. Callum happily obliged, and for the next term of primary school, he could barely go a break time without a new commission coming up.

The novelty had worn off eventually, of course, but by this time he’d had enough friendly, or friendly adjacent conversations with his clientele that he was on at least decent terms with most of the school. This was how he learned for the first time that people liked them once they got to know him.

Drawing was central to his life by the age of fourteen, when it came time to figure out what he’d do with the rest of his life. And his by-then friend Adam, the boy who’d asked him all those years ago why he didn’t play football, had suggested that maybe he should apply to art place in Glasgow. Callum’s parents hadn’t been willing to fund him drawing pictures of dragons for four years on end, but he’d found a course in graphic design at Glasgow University, enrolled, and found during the first semester that there was plenty of time for sketching between classes, and plenty of people in the city who appreciated his work.

But halfway into his course, the War had begun. He’d tried to keep himself entertained in the mess halls and the barracks by drawing what he saw around him, but it was all too grey, too olive. This was useful pragmatically speaking, since all he had access to was a small amount of charcoal with which to shade in any shapes he drew. But a black and white dragon was better than even a properly coloured in soldier anyway.

Callum’s obsession with dragons had begun after the end of the period drawing his classmates and their dreams. At the age of eight he figured he’d drawn human beings in every situation there was to draw them – ballerina, knight, three different kinds of lorry drivers for some reason – so he’d moved on to fantasy. He drew fairies, witches, centaurs, satyrs, griffins. But even these were grounded to some extent in reality. They were human shaped – or half human shaped. Or their two halves were one real animal and another real animal.

Dragons were of course a bit lizard-like, but they were far too enormous to be confused for a gecko, as long as he included the dragon flying over a stormy mountain for scale or something. Yes, he answered when people asked, they were also quite similar in idea to dinosaurs. There were four different classmates he had to inform that nobody had ever seen a dinosaur for sure, as they were all dead. That made dragons the furthest removed creatures from real life in existence – or sort of existence.

Callum remembered a night right in the middle of the misery. One of the privates, Josie’s brother Eric, had just been promoted, and was now sitting apart from the rest of them. Two of the remaining privates were getting in a food fight with each other, so Callum figured he could get away from them and cheer up Eric at the same time. He slid down the mess hall bench and tapped Eric on the shoulder.

“Alright, man?” Callum asked. “How’d you score this gig?”

Eric’s eyes darted towards the guys having the food fight, who’d lowered their spoons and were glowering at Callum, who was now officially fraternising with the enemy – their superiors.

“I, uh, I think they liked my attention to detail. I take orders well,” Eric said, taking a spoonful of his gruel. It was the first spoonful Callum had seen him take all lunch time.

Callum twisted around so that his back leant against the table and he was able to stare out of the tent towards the soldiers training in the field. He extended his legs and crossed them over, lounging with his weight on one arm on the table.

“Fair enough, fair enough,” he said. He lowered his voice. “Look, I know you’re sad about the other guys not wanting to talk to you anymore, so I have something to show you. Have you ever considered ways to keep yourself entertained?”

Callum reached into the breast pocket of his thick woollen army coat and pulled out a folded piece of paper, his faithful ticket to friendship since primary three. It was a picture of just a dragon, no background, and he was halfway through shading it in with the most detail he’d ever managed.

Eric’s eyes widened. “Very realistic.”

“You think so?” Callum asked, turning to face him.

Callum was sure Eric squeaked, but he covered it up with a cough. He stood and said, “I, uh, have to go. Those men are holding their rifles all wrong.”

Callum gaped at him as he jogged off, dawdling around the soldiers whose rifle holds were perfectly fine. He stuffed the drawing back in his pocket, betrayed finally by its power after a thirteen-year-streak of reliability. With his brows furrowed so far his head hurt, he shunted himself back down the table to the other privates, who took one look at him and walked away.

But he didn’t abandon his dragon drawings, or start taking commissions to earn the favour of his colleagues. This wasn’t school anymore; nobody but the Germans would beat him up and they’d all just have to get on with it. He slept every night thinking of dragons, thinking of the way their wings folded and their eyes gleamed. He thought about the rumours of telepathic communication with their riders during the Great War. Everyone knew one of the history lecturers had ridden a dragon in the Great War, but nobody knew which one. He’d look out for that when he got back.

***

Callum found he had wandered right into Kelvingrove Park with his head in the clouds. He found his feet on the soft grass of a steep hill before he knew what was happening. The path zig-zagged back and forth across the hill, a much less steep climb, but sometimes thinking about dragons, or the war, made him want to move, get his blood pumping, tire himself out.

He found himself in a thick cluster of trees, and decided to wander around between these for a while. He took note of the branch layout of each tree; he’d challenge himself to draw them from memory later. But his concentration was broken by the sound of voices.

“Sorry again,” a female voice said.

Callum whipped his head around, glancing from tree to tree, but didn’t see where it was coming from. A moment later, Josie bloody Alexander popped into sight, right from thin air, and her brother Eric beside her. Callum darted behind the nearest tree just as some other shape appeared, but he was so determined not to get caught stalking again that he kept his body plastered to the other side of the tree, not moving a muscle.

“It’s fine,” Eric said, “There’s nobody around. And it’s happened now, okay? Calm down. We’re better off down here than up in the sky. And hey, I lost track of time to. And didn’t you as well, Dragon? Just so excited to be out and ab- Oh, God dammit!”

“Don’t let Dragon hear you swear, Eric,” Josie teased. “And okay, it’ll just be five minutes to recharge then we’ve got a whole other half hour of invisible flight. Admittedly after that we really ought to get him home for the night.”

They were both silent for a few moments, during which time all Callum could hear was his blood in his ears. He thought about poking his head out, but he had no way of knowing if they’d be looking his way. If he was right about what he thought was around there, it wouldn’t matter. They’d be so desperate for him not to turn them in that they wouldn’t even ask if he’d been following them. But he could be wrong? It could be a nickname for their dog or something. Or a small personal bi-plane or something.

But… dragon.

He took a deep breath, realising a moment too late that deep breaths tend to be quite loud. But when his left eye emerged around the side of the tree trunk, they were facing away from him. They were facing a dark green dragon. Goddam stupid Josie bloody Alexander had a dragon.


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274 Reviews


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Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:40 pm
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Dossereana wrote a review...



Hi @DougalOfBiscuits I have come here to do a quick our long review for you, to just kick this thing out the green room at last. So lets get right into it shell we.

Callum MacKenzie really hadn’t been certain that would work. He’d noticed from the friends Josie made – loud-drunk artsy types who always strolled around campus after the pubs had closed singing joke songs about various members of staff, or other education establishments in the country – that she valued confidence in the people she associated with. Asking her out straight up had been a risk – you never knew when a young woman would take offence to forwardness – but it had paid off.
This is an amazing start to the chapter to get things rolling. You always make things so interesting to read. I can just see great images start to fly by with the way your describing things. Oh and one thing I think that you spelt offence wrong, I think it should be offense instead of the c its a s I hope you see the difference there. Other then that one thing this line is pure fact o mind do. Lol sorry.

He had wandered around the West End, scoping out which restaurant to take her to, which one would be most to her taste, for hours. Of course, this had included a fair amount of skulking in side streets whenever he spotted anyone who might take offence to his presence. He didn’t want any more drama.
Here is offence again witch should be offense. I packed out laughing here because this is just the tip a call thing that guys should do when it comes to stuff like this. I really think that your putting some really funny bits here. I am happy with the way this story's going at the moment.

So that is all that I can say. If I was being to harsh then I am really sorry pleas will you forgive me. So keep up the great work. I think that you did a really good job here as always. :D

I hope you have a great Day/Night

@Dossereana Out In The Sky Of Reviews

Happy Review Day!!!!




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Sun May 26, 2019 7:20 pm
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Panikos wrote a review...



Hi, Bisc! Happy Review Day!

Small Comments

Of course, this had included a fair amount of skulking in side streets whenever he spotted anyone who might take offence to his presence. He didn’t want any more drama.


Hmm, I wonder what this means. I hope you explore this further.

Luckily, the questioner had caught sight of Callum’s current drawing, become entranced, and asked if he could draw him winning the world cup.


I'm just wondering if the timing matches up here. Callum is about the same age as Eric, right? And Eric was twelve as of the late 1920s. But you mention that this happened in primary school, so we'd be looking at a few years earlier - the mid-20s, at the latest. However, I just did some checking and it looks like the World Cup was only established in 1930, so that's probably too late for this reference.

Callum whipped his head around, glancing from tree to tree, but didn’t see where it was coming from. A moment later, Josie bloody Alexander popped into sight, right from thin air


I was a bit confused about how they ended up in the same place until I looked up the name of the park and realised you were talking about the West End in Glasgow, not the one in London. The more you know!

Overall Thoughts

This chapter has definitely taken the story in the right direction! Finally we have some tension - Dragon has been sighted, by a long-term dragon obsessive, no less. How will he react? Will he confront Josie? Or will he keep quiet about it, and try to get closer to her so as to learn more? The second option sounds more interesting to me, but I don't know enough about Callum's character to be sure which is more likely.

I must admit, I did balk slightly when I realised we were getting another POV, and while Callum's backstory is pretty interesting, I feel like I'd prefer not to receive it all at once. We're being given a lot of characters to invest ourselves in. I see now that his love of dragons is going to be important, and I suspect he's going to be a recurring POV as well, so I understand the choices. However, I wish we'd been introduced to Callum more organically. I'd actually have liked it if he'd attended the secret lectures with Josie, because that would've been a more natural way to show us his fixation on dragons.

Just a thought, but I think the dialogue from Josie and Eric towards the end of the chapter is a little too obvious - it feels like they're going out of their way to mention Dragon, purely for the purpose of tipping Callum off. I don't feel like it's necessary. If Callum only heard snatches of what they were saying, he could go to investigate and just see Dragon. I think that would make the moment more succinct and natural - and possibly more dramatic, because it would unite Callum's revelation into one moment.

Overall, though, I did enjoy this chapter. I think it's a bit heavy on the exposition and could be trimmed down a bit, but I'm really glad to see some stakes and conflict entering the plot. Now things are going to get really interesting.

Keep writing! :D
~Pan





Reading is one form of escape. Running for your life is another.
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