Digital Destiny

The creature was a mismatched thing of many parts, sitting alone at the edge of the lake. Dragon wings hugged its sides while bird wings hung drably behind it. A thick tail, lizard-like, twitched across the grass. The rest of it was something between a rabbit and a dragon, all fluff and teeth and serpentine eyes.

It stared at its clawed toes, hanging over the still black water. Its head was bowed.

She approached it cautiously, wonderingly.

She’d never thought to see such a fantastical creature outside a story, or a cartoon. This was an encounter for a little girl, not a woman grown and tired.

As she approached, its long ears twitched. It glanced at her, then back at the water. ‘Oh. Hello,’ it said dully. Its voice was nasal and a little child-like.

‘Uh. Hi. What’re you doing … here?’ The words were too small for the questions inside her.

It dipped a claw in the water. ‘I was supposed to meet my human today. My special partner. But when I hatched, he screamed and ran away.’ Its ears drooped.

‘I’m sorry,’ she said. The creature didn’t reply, so she continued, ‘Maybe I can help you find him?’

The ears perked up and the creature spun around, clapping its large, clawed forepaws. ‘Would you? Oh.’ It sagged. ‘But he doesn’t want me. I thought we had a destiny, but …’

She studied the creature. It was about half her height, and strange and patchwork, but also beautiful. It hurt to see something so young so forlorn.

‘I’m sure he wants you really. He was probably just overwhelmed.’

‘Do you really think so?’ The hope in its voice made her heart ache.

‘How could he not?’ she said. ‘I’ve only known you for a few minutes and I can already tell that you’re wonderful.’

The words hurt a little to say. For how many years had she wished for a magical companion of her own? But she was no main character, no-one special. It was a miracle just to be part of this little thing’s story.

The creature sniffled and wiped its nose on its arm. ‘You’re such a nice lady. Thank you!’

She offered a hand to help the creature up. Its paw was warm in her hand. For a moment, it flickered and pixelated, as if it were a digital illusion, but it felt real enough to her touch.

She startled as it hugged her around the waist, burying its muzzle in her stomach. ‘Thank you, thank you!’ it said again, its voice muffled.

She laughed and pet its head. ‘It’s fine, really. So what do you know about this boy?’

‘Well, he has really amazing hair …’

It held her hand as they walked together, enumerating all the strange and wonderful qualities of the child it was destined to. Every now and then, it would glance up at her, as if puzzled by her existence, and if she caught its eyes, it would smile in delight, all fangs and cheer.

Me too, she thought. Me too …

Written for Mastodon in a series of toots, inspired by the Digimon discussion there. Not actually a fanfiction but more a homage. 😀

Image by Quang Nguyen vinh / Quangpraha, used under CC0

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