J.S. Burke, author of bit.ly/TheDragonDreamer
This is a Young Adult tale of terror beneath the sea, an extract from The Dragon Dreamer by J.S. Burke: Attack by an angry giant squid! Scree is an undersea shape-shifter octopus healer. She can change her color, texture, and shape to match almost anything in a heartbeat.
Scree passed through her quiet, twilit village. Everyone was asleep and she was too tired to notice the deep, unnatural silence of the sea. A huge, dark shadow moved silently across the sands, slipping over the caves, following behind her. Scree reached her cave and glanced back. The twilit sands had disappeared beneath a huge black shadow. The shadow grew larger, devouring the light, covering the caves like an unnatural shroud. What could it be? She shrank into her cave and froze. Her body instantly camouflaged.
The sea exploded. Long, powerful arms smashed down. Rocks and bodies flew. Two caves were torn apart by a living force of nature. Bright amber lights flashed along its monstrous arms, like lightning. A giant squid! The terrifying creature captured two octopi. They struggled frantically, writhing and twisting, desperate to escape. The giant shook them until they hung limp. Then it swallowed the captives. Scree watched, stunned, as the living nightmare killed.
Her frozen horror changed to a burning anger. She flowed deeper into her cave and felt around, checking her stores for something to use against the squid. Scree ran arms across her shelves, feeling the bandages, boxes and odd pouches. She stopped at an unusual bottle carved from bright orange garnet, fitted with a tight stopper. This carefully stored container held blue-ringed octopus venom, a deadly nerve poison.
A skilled healer knows that what can heal, can kill. The venom was useful in minute doses to sedate a patient. Larger doses brought paralysis or death. Scree sucked venom into a long, hollow needle. Then she attached it to the fishing spear that Arak had given her. Anger barely overcame her terror as she moved stealthily out of her cave.
The monstrous squid suctioned its powerful tentacles onto the rocks of another cave. A violent storm of rubble erupted, and random debris replaced the orderly home. The sea felt unnaturally gritty. Scree watched in horror as a long, snaking arm plucked up another octopus and shook it senseless. Her friend disappeared into its beaked maw.
Trembling with fear and anger, Scree crept ever closer to the living horror. She slid from one cave shadow to another, creeping across the sand, maintaining her camouflage. Finally she was right behind the monster. She focused her mind and stilled her quivering arms. Scree jetted up and plunged her spear into the back of its huge head.
The monster spun around, but there was nothing to see. It stretched a long, probing arm behind its head, reaching for its tormentor. Scree held onto her spear for dear life, plunging the needle ever deeper into her foe. She stretched her body flat, almost too thin to feel. She shifted quickly from side to side, trying to avoid the deadly arm as it searched for her. Would the poison work?
A powerful swipe dislodged Scree. The monster grabbed her and pulled her closer . . .
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