Dragonfury 02 - Fury of Ice

Dragonfury 02 - Fury of Ice by authors_sort

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as though it waited to shake her hand. Angela grazed it with her fingertips as she moved past, brushing rust chips from the cold metal, making sure it was real.
    Hallucination had never been her style, but she was beyond cold, way past tired. So yeah, checking seemed like a solid plan. Especially with fatigue setting in, blunting her normally sharp senses.
    Rubbing her eyes, Angela forced herself to focus and—
    “Oh, thank God.”
    A cabin. Nestled between two ancient pines.
    Small with crooked eaves, moss had moved in like it owned the place, growing between chinked logs, rambling over old shingles, making a meal of the wooden porch steps. The signs of neglect were everywhere, and as she scanned the terrain, she picked up other details. The crumbling chimney top. An abandoned, weed-ridden garden. Another old car, built in a long-forgotten decade, sat beside it. The cabin’s roof looked solid, though, and the windows? Unbroken.
    Within seconds, Angela was halfway across the clearing, her footfalls silent on the compacted dirt of the little-used trail. Reaching the steps, she slowed down. Rotten in places, the treads were slick with recent rain. She tested each board, taking the steps one at a time until she reached the narrow landing. Her breath caught as she reached for the handle: hoping, praying, making all kinds of impossible bargains with God if only…
    Metal squawked as the knob turned.
    Angela nearly fell over and, after sending a thank you heavenward, wedged her shoulder in tight and pushed. It cracked open, wood groaning, hinges squeaking, the door bottom scraping against the cabin floor. One, then two inches grew between the warped frame and the door edge. Not nearly enough for her to slip through. Angela thrust again, bloody feet sliding on slick boards, her strength disappearing as fast as the setting sun.
    “Come on. You…” Angela pushed harder. “…stupid…” With a curse, she hammered the door again, putting all her weight behind it. “…thing.”
    The last shove did the trick, and her feet left wood. She had an instant of “oh, crap” before she hit the floor. Pain arced, stealing her air as the body slam rattled her bones. Facedown in the dust, she wheezed, seeing spots, the threat of unconsciousness nanoseconds away. As her vision dimmed, self-preservation kicked in. She couldn’t pass out. Refused to give in, but…
    Goddamn. She hurt…everywhere.
    As the agony expanded, the urge to close her eyes and stay down came with it. Man, it was persuasive, murmuring in hushed tones, tempting her so softly she wanted to listen. To relax into oblivion and let herself fall. To sleep and forget about the wide-open door, wild animals, and asshole dragon guys. The problem? Her body might be fried, but her brain was still online, working well enough to know succumbing to exhaustion was a bad idea. So, yeah. Much as she yearned to cop out, she needed to get up.
    Right now.
    Gritting her teeth, Angela pressed her palms to floor. One minute. She just needed sixty seconds to catch her breath, and she could get up, start moving, make her tired body work.
    The water wasn’t far. She heard it lapping at the shoreline. From the sound alone, Angela guessed the river snaked past the cabin’s back side. With a groan, she pushed into a crouch and raised her head, forcing her mind to work. A boat. Maybe whoever owned the place kept a canoe out back. Something sturdy enough to float her down river and into civilization.
    Now all she needed was some luck. She was sick of running, tired of looking over her shoulder. People. She needed to find someone to help her. No matter how tough, she wouldn’t last much longer. The thought got her moving.
    Shivering in the dark, Angela struggled to her feet and searched the shadows. Nada. The place was empty but for a single chair sitting kitty-corner in front of a shallow fireplace. From its shape, she guessed a wingback. From its smell? She knew it had seen better days.

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