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It was a typical Friday afternoon, complete with a fight for love — to the death, of course. The stout Italian plumber hurled himself at the dragon-turtle, catapulting through the air to land a swift kick right between the beast’s eyes. Stunned, the dragon-turtle fell over backwards with a heavy thud, his eyes closed in peaceful slumber. The plumber let out a yelp, pumped his fist in victory, then snuck a glance at his wide-eyed princess on the balcony, who was trembling in what he hoped was desire. Suddenly, she unclasped her white-velvet gloved hands. The blue gem at the very center of her chest started to pulsate, then gleam with an unnatural light. The princess grew exponentially by the second until she was the size of the arena itself and towered over the two figures in the dust, who were now tiny by comparison. With a deafening high-pitched shriek, two gargantuan gnarled, scaly arms pried open the princess’ demure figure from the inside, then split the skin-suit, still soft pink and yellow and glistening, cleanly in two. What emerged was a dark purplish-grey behemoth with pulsing veins and a head comprised only of 3 stacked sets of sharp teeth, its elongated jaws distended and set in a frozen, gruesome smile. It let out another curdling shriek that reverberated around the arena. At this point, the dragon-turtle on the ground woke up, gazed at the monstrosity before him, and immediately shrank back in horror, clutching the Italian plumber to his chest like a rag doll. The behemoth princess still had a tiny crown perched on the tip of her monstrous head. Hungrily, she cocked her head, reached down, and popped both of them into her mouth.


There was only darkness accompanied by an overpowering smell of blood and sulfur. The two were alive. The Italian plumber fumbled around in the pocket of his overalls and was shocked to find his trusty flashlight. He flicked it on and let out a nervous “Wa-hoo”! To his far right, the dragon-turtle wheezed and glowered and stomped towards him, still salty from the head injury. He seemed unaware of these new, dire surroundings. He didn't seem to notice

the now-acidic spit that pooled from the sides of his mouth in sticky blobs, eating away at his lips or the massive blood cells burgeoning from each of his massive stomps that bounced around him, halo-like. "Bwah hah hah!" the dragon-turtle roared, eyes gleaming. He took another lazy, massive lunge closer. Flaming mohawk and eyebrows bristling, he flexed his spiked metal cuff-clad biceps and swiped one meaty paw at the smaller guy. The plumber leaped backward deftly, but suddenly lost his footing and tripped over a heavy fold in the princess's intestinal wall. The force popped off the left button of his overalls, and the sharp end of the overalls strap caught him squarely in the jaw. Smart tears welled up immediately and he tugged at his mustache in distress, the faint taste of iron at the back of his throat. "Hui hew! Just what I needed!" his lament echoed from his dear princess's cavernous body cavity. Try as he might, he couldn't budge his leg, and his entire body sunk into the realization that he was pinned. Frantic, he held up both white-gloved hands in surrender and warily eyed the dragon-turtle, whose nostrils were still flaring out steam. Each spike on his shell was large and sharp enough to send the plumber into the realm beyond this. He needed a new plan, and fast. “Buddy!”, he called out in a jovial tone. “Work with me here. Look around you. We’ve been swallowed alive by none other than the woman of our dreams. She was never gonna choose one of us-ah!” The dragon-turtle snorted in irritation. The plumber continued, trying to keep his voice as soothing as possible. “She….was merely hungry. Look how she turned us against each other and made us fight each other. She just wanted to play with her food-ah!” The dragon-turtle winced, realizing that his adversary was right. With his own hunger growing, he realized that he needed the plumber’s smarts and tools to get out of here. He would eat him afterwards. He had always preferred Italian food the most.



The idea is that a dream’s

subtle meaning will emerge, filtered


through the noise to scoff at   

altruistic gestures that never quite land


on the backs of the sturdy. They flounder

and drown in weathered milliseconds.


Through it all, the delicate message squirms 

like a helpless aged mouse snatched up


to dangle from the jaws of the stronger being 

gorging on its favorite meal of plump regrets —   


to settle with a sigh into the space

between this realm and the next


Melody Wang currently resides in sunny Southern California with her dear husband and wishes it were autumn all year ‘round. She can be found on Twitter @MelodyOfMusings. Her debut chapbook "Night-blooming Cereus" was released in December 2021 by Alien Buddha Press.

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