The Missing Unicorn in the Land of the Zombie Fairies—Part Six
By: David K. Montoya

DEDICATED TO MY GIRLS, ZOIE & LILY

Olivia smiled happily as she watched the wonderful beast while it swooped in the multicolored sky. "Are you truly a swamp dragon," Olivia asked in amazement.

It is child.

The luminescent creature landed and Emma was awestruck at the enormous size of the firedrake, as its head was twice the size of either sister and the wingspan was at least a full city block. The Swamp Dragon smiled at the girls and said in a cheerful tone, "If I may… Perhaps, I may be of help."

"Can you get us out of here?" Olivia asked.

Of course.

"Mister Swamp Dragon, sir…Do you know where our friends are," Emma asked, while she stood directly in front of the creature's gargantuan black eye. "We have yet to see them."

I saved them already.

"Are you talking to us in our heads?" Olivia asked.

Yes, it is called telepathy. The Dragon answered.

"WOW!" Olivia said in wonder.

Indeed, child.

"You mean to tell me Mister Swamp Dragon, that you already rescued our friends?" Emma questioned. Something did not sit right with the older sister, there was a pulling in her stomach that told her that perhaps more inquiry was needed before the sisters fully invested their trust into a mythical creature that they had never met before.

The swamp dragon laughed.

I can hear your thoughts child, the swamp dragon said. Your friends the centaur and the small annoying gnome.

"Yep, that's him," Olivia said to her older sister. "Did you eat him, because it is okay, and quite understandable, if you did."

"Olivia!" Emma exclaimed to her sister.

"What? It's a fair question," Olivia said which followed with a shrug.

I did not and would not eat him the swamp dragon answered with a chuckle.

Emma was still not completely convinced of the dragon. "How did you save our friends?"

I scooped them up in my mouth and dropped them off back on the surface world., the beast explained to Emma, who now shifted with her fists resting on her hips. I can do the same for you girls, all you have to is get inside of my mouth and I will fly you two back to the top.

"Okay! Let's get out of here. Em," Olivia said excitedly and motioned to walk toward the creature's mouth.

"Wait, Livi," Emma told her younger sibling.

"What's the matter, Em," Olivia asked with a puzzle expression.

"For some reason, I know Yoon told us a story about swamp dragons, but I cannot remember it," Emma explained. "In fact, I am having a hard time recalling any of Yoon's tales."

Olivia paused and stared at her sister.

What do you mean, child? I can take you home, the swamp dragon said still smiling. All you have to do is get inside and I will take you up.

"Fire," Olivia said softly.

"What," Emma asked as she turned to face Olivia. "What about fire, Livi?"

"I'm not sure, Em," Olivia said, with her tiny fingers to her chin and head tipped to one side in thought. "I don't remember, but I remember that Yoon said something about Swamp Dragon's Fire."

Nonsense, little one, the swamp dragon quickly said. I don't breathe fire.

"I believe you are correct, Livi," Emma said. "But I cannot remember…I know it was an epic story and lesson, our dear Yoon told us."

Don't be silly, children, now before it is too late, get inside my mouth and I will take you home, the dragon said in an almost agitated manner.

Emma studied the dragon's large coal black eye. There was no emotion, blank, heartless…

"Not real," Emma said softly, then turned to her sister. "Livi write your name in the dirt."

"Why?" Olivia questioned. "I can't spell yet."

"But you know your ABCs," Emma said. "Trust me."

Olivia nodded and lowered herself to her knees then begin to write her name like her older sister requested. While she did that, Emma walked the Swamp Dragon's eye. It did not move nor blink, it stood still like a stone that was fastened to a clasp of a ring.

Olivia stood up and clapped the dirt from her hands and said, "There all finished."

Emma walked over to her sister and then looked down at what she wrote, it was a bunch of squiggly lines and Olivia looked back at her sister perplexed.

"Swamp gas," Emma said. "None of this is real. We must all be asleep. Which means…"

Emma walked over to the dragon and touched it and with a poof disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

"You're not real."

She then walked over to the field of sunflowers and ran her hand across them and with the touch of her tiny fingertips the entire surrounding disappeared which left the sisters standing in a swirling void of color.

"None of this is real," Olivia asked.

Emma shook her head and said, "No. I don't believe so. I remember Daddy reading me a story about a man being trapped in his dreams and not being able to read the words on the walls."

"Oh?" Olivia squeaked.

"What I am guessing, Livi, is that at some point while we were traveling through swamp world," Emma explained. "The toxic fumes of the swamp gas knocked us out."

"What about me Em?" Olivia asked softly.

"That is the part that I am struggling with, Livi," Emma confessed. "I think that you are a part of this dream. I remember Yoon telling us stories about Swamp World and how it would cause the travelers to fall asleep and it would consume them while they were unconscious.

But you are what I love the most and losing you to be trapped here alone or the idea of hurting you somehow scares me a lot."

"Even if I am a figment of your imagination," Olivia said with her big blue eyes wide and a tender smile. "I love you, Emma."

"I love you to, Livi," Emma said and then hugged her younger sister, which caused the image of Olivia to also disappear into thin air.

There was a momentary sense of panic as Emma stepped back from the cloud of smoke that was once her sister, but she remembered that everything was simply a dream and Olivia was most likely right next to her fast asleep as well.

"Okay, how do I wake myself up from this weird dream," Emma asked herself while she looked around the void, fighting a strong sense of loneliness. Finally, she closed her eyes and concentrated. "Wake up…Wake up…Wake up…w–a–ke–u–p…"

Emma opened her eyes and found that her, Olivia, Kén Tauros and Theo the Gnome Prince were asleep on the path which lead through Swamp World. They four were covered in a black tarry goo, the stuff that Yoon warned them to get away from as it was dangerous.

With that in mind, Emma ripped the tar from her body and then from her sister's while she exclaimed, "Livi! Wake up! Wake up! You fell asleep! Livi, please wake up!"

Olivia sat up and stretched.

"What's going on, Em," Olivia asked in a sleepy voice.

Emma leaned forward and hugged her baby sister and said, "Oh thank goodness, you are okay. Thank goodness, I was scared there for a minute. I love you, Livi."

Confused with what was happening, she knew one thing was true. "I love you too, Em."

To be continued…

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