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art by Seth Alan Bareiss

Draconic Motivation

Donald S. Crankshaw has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from MIT, which was more useful for writing fantasy than he had expected, though less helpful for writing science fiction than he had hoped. He has previously had stories published in Black Gate and Daily Science Fiction, and has an upcoming story in Nature Futures. Donald lives in Boston with his wife and fellow writer, Kristin Janz, and can be found online at www.donaldscrankshaw.com.
"What's my motivation?" George asked.
"Your motivation?" Susan said. "Your motivation is that you don't want to be eaten."
"It must be more complex than that!" George complained. He probably just didn't like the fact that he was running away in this scene. George made a peremptory gesture, and some young girl in his entourage rushed to bring him a bottle of expensive mineral water. He had at least twenty sycophants catering to his every whim when the camera wasn't actually rolling.
"No it doesn't! Big scary monster!" Susan gestured to the dragon, who slavered obligingly. "Innocent victim!" She tried not to invest too much sarcasm in the word "innocent." The man had slept with half her interns, but she couldn't hold that against his character, could she? Nor could she hold it against the interns, not really. He was a good looking man, square-jawed, muscular--even dressed in rags, he looked like the champion his character would become. If they ever managed to film the damned movie. "Go!"
"But a dragon is never just a dragon," George insisted. "It must represent something."
This dragon was just a dragon, and getting a real dragon out here cost more for each minute on set than George did. Why couldn't George have his motivation crisis when Susan wasn't paying more to listen to his feelings than Hollywood's most expensive therapist charged? It'd be cheaper to cover his therapy bills, no matter how high the tabloids claimed they were.
Susan swallowed a sigh--his contract had a clause exacting a penalty for excessive sighing on her part. "I take it you're not going to run through this forest screaming until we resolve this?" She didn't wait for him to answer--he probably wouldn't notice, but the two lawyers in his entourage would be sure to invoke the rhetorical question penalty clause. "What do you think the dragon represents?"
"Well... in Medieval literature, the dragon represents the devil." The dragon snorted at this, but George ignored her. He probably loved the chance to show off his otherwise useless literature degree. "But the modern audience no longer thinks of evil as something external. Instead, evil is internal, the struggle of the conscience. The dragon represents that part of a man which he most fears, the propensity for great evil, the lust for power, the monster within himself. He fears it and hates it, true, but he's also drawn to it, for in it is his capacity for greatness. He--I--might flee from it, but at heart, I want to be consumed, to become one with that power--"
CHOMP
"Millie!" Susan yelled.
The dragon hastily swallowed her impromptu meal, while George's entourage fled in panic. "What are you complaining about?" she said. "He wanted to be eaten. You heard him."
"Not literally!" Susan told her.
Millicent just looked puzzled. They could grow a dragon intelligent enough to act, but the end result was still frustratingly literal minded. Susan groaned, wondering how much the studio would have to pay out for the "Eaten by Dragon" clause in George's contract.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, January 21st, 2013

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