A dragon is no idle fancy.
-J.R.R. Tolkien, Beowolf, the Monsters and the Critics, 1936
Joey, Chad, and Patrick stood indecisively at the top of the staircase, looking down into the darkness below. Drafts of air rose to stir their hair. Patrick and Joey looked at Chad like soldiers to their commander, ready to jump into action.
“That dome overhead is dangerous,” Chad began, unconvinced that they should risk descent into the dark well.
“But we need to see what’s goin’ on,” Patrick urged. “We might be able to prevent more damage.”
Joey reached for his flashlight. “I’ll go. You both have kids. I’ll stay against the railing.”
Chad rubbed both hands over his face as if an answer would appear like a genie out of the top of his head.
“Listen!” Joey put his hand up. Other than the soft croon of Maggie Jane’s voice singing an uplifting old spiritual to a gasping Caroline, the only sound was soft rain.
“Okay. Scout with the flashlight. Don’t do anything—just report what you’re seeing,” Chad ordered.
Chad and Patrick scarcely dared to breathe as Joey nimbly descended the stairs, slinking along the railing. His flashlight flitted on an off his surroundings like a lightning bug on a summer evening.
An incoherent cry of suffering from Caroline took Chad's breath away. He clenched the balcony railing, knuckles white. Maggie Jane’s voice calmly sang, soothing his jagged nerves. Tony said something encouraging that Chad couldn’t make out.
Joey shouted from the bottom of the stairs. “Chad, Patrick! Get down here. Hurry!”
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