Hinweis zum Wettbewerb um den Drachentaler:
Hierbei bitte die folgenden drei Stories auch als drei getrennte Stories betrachten,
nicht als eine; trotz der ähnlichen Inhalte und Titel.
Danke :-)
On My Way Home . Drei Kurzgeschichten von Peter Laessig
On My Way Home I

A rainy day in September and I was on my way home from work. It has been a hard day of work at the office and I was glad to sit in my car: Soon I would be at home and after taking a nice bubble bath followed by a  small dinner, I was going to spend the rest of the evening relaxing with a good book.

A traffic jam brought my mind back to the road. I realized several cops forcing a group of young people (all of them were around 15 and 17 years) into two waiting police cars. An ambulance car just was leaving. And there were many people there, watching and waiting.

The moment I changed the tape of my car stereo, a boy knocked on the car's left sidepane.  This boy was approximately about 14 years old and not exactly that kind of boy girls find very attractive.
He asked: "Excuse me, Mister, which direction are you going to drive?" „Towards Hamburg, why?" "Well, can you take me with you a while?" „Where do you wish to be brought?" The boy looked at me and sad simply: "Home. Please, bring me just home. Home, to the sea, where I belong." 
I must admit, I really was puzzled but then I got an idea. "So, you want to go 
to Schelfheim?" Schelfheim was the only village at the shore on my way to Hamburg. 
A  beautiful region of the Northern Sea, a coast with cliffs and rocks, barely tourists and the fresh ocean breeze all through the year. 
As the boy nodded in response to my question, I motioned him to get into my car.

We drove for a while and although we were together now for nearly one hour, I even still didn't know his name. "You seem to like the movie "The Last Unicorn?", he suddenly asked as my car stereo played that song from my motion picture soundtrack. Glad to have at least a little bit of conversation, I replied: "Oh yes, I really do. Indeed, it is my second favourite movie." "And your absolute favourite movie?" "Well, I think it is "Dragonheart".
"Do you believe in the existence of dragons or...unicorns?" 
This question hit me like a shock and after a short pause I said: "Well, I have never thought of that question before. Why do you ask?" "Oh, I am just curious. I only wondered because you are listening to the movie soundtrack so I thought, you enjoy the movie "The Last Unicorn" as well."  "I was a child when I saw that movie for the first time at the cinema", I replied. "It meant much for me, as well as the movie "Dragonheart". But for answering your question: No. No, I do not believe in the existence of such mythological creatures. But I must admit, as child I have always hoped to meet a unicorn or a dragon."
"And now?" After a little bit of silence, I sighed: "Still I do wish them to be real." "Would you kill a dragon or a unicorn if you ever are going to meet one?" I smiled at my strange passenger: "No, I suppose not. Why should I kill such a creature? I...aaahhhhh! Damn! Shit! My hand!", I started to curse as a terrible itch broke my concentration. I tried to reach for a little jar somewhere in the car for putting on a little bit of Cortizone on my itching hand. "Some damn eczema. I don't get rid of them, although I try to fight it for almost five years now", I said as I noticed the boy's gaze. "Only the maximum strength of Cortizone can bring me some relief." 
"May I?", the boy simply asked and laid a hand on my own. He muttered something I didn't understand and the itching disappeared. "How did you do that?", I asked. But instead of answering my question, he asked me to stop the car. "I am at home, thank you very much for taking me there." "But, here is absolute nothing, no house...only the shore and some rocks. To Hamburg is still about 10 km ahead and we also haven’t reached Schelfheim yet.. "That's right. But it is my home." He took my hand and before I was able to say any further word, the boy disappeared into the night.

Very puzzled I continued my way home. 
At home, I took my bath, thinking about the day's events and especially about my strange encounter with the boy.  It took me some time to realize my eczema on my hand was gone - completely. There was no scar left and it seemed if I have never suffered from that disease, which tormented me for years.
It was about 7 p.m. and I switched on my TV for the local news. One of the headlines between all that stuff about corrupted politicians  was the death of a 14 years old boy.
"Some witnesses have heard the hooligans calling him ’Satan' and ‘Dragonscum'. Without warning, they attacked the boy with rods, bars and two empty bottles. He died before the ambulance arrived. About the victim only his name is known: Eric Oddball. His comrades know him as a quite silent but very kind boy who was very engaged in role-playing and magic. The parents of the killed boy but also the parents of the arrested hooligans are shocked. Noone is able to explain why the boy was attacked. One of the hooligans told the police that they wanted to slay the dragon inside him. So far the meaning of these words is not cleared up yet."
I remembered his pale face and I looked at the photo they showed: the paleness, the eyes, the nose. The boy I had sitting in my car...they claimed he was dead before the ambulance arrived? Nonsense. It must be nonsense.

I switched off my TV and went to bed. It became a sleepless night. Who was the boy? Was he really the same one they killed the day before?

It was a rainy morning in September and I was on my way to work. As I had to stop on a traffic light, something glittering on the empty seat next to me caught my eyes. It looked like a large coin. I took it in my hand and viewed it: It was a silver medal, showing a gorgeous dragon leaping from a cliff somewhere at the sea. 
I turned the coin and read: "Thank you, dear human friend. I am at home now. I hope, your hand is better now , at least, you do not need Cortizone anymore. May be the dragons be with you. Love, Eric Oddball, a.k.a. 'Starshadow, the Sea Dragon.' "

* * * * *
On My Way Home II

I left my office a little bit later than usual and now I was on my way home. It was yet dark outside when I arrived at the Highway. Soon I would be at home, maybe 20 minutes or so. I planned to spend a nice, lazy evening at home, probably reading a nice book or watching TV. The day at work was boring but hard and my only wish was only to be left alone.
I coursed when I realized the cars in front of me slowing down and after a few meters I had to stop. How I do hate traffic jams, especially when I am on my way home. Unfortunately I had no chance but to wait patiently.
I switched off my car-stereo as the music on all channels was terrible. 
I sighed and looked at my watch. Now I am waiting here for about half an hour. 
Very slowly, the cars started to move. 
I decided to leave the Highway at the next exit and indeed, a sign announced an exit only 500 meters ahead.
Although I didn’t know this exit - actually, I have never noticed an exit here before - I left the Highway.

The area looked very deserted and lonely: There was no house and no light to be seen, only a slight mist which enveloped my car like silk. Somehow, this place looked unrealistic.
I watched out for any traffic sign showing me the direction, but the road seemed to be too new for any signs. I drove on for several kilometres and during all the time my car was the only one on this road. „Maybe the road is still under construction?", I wondered. 
I stopped my car and took my map. Indeed, this road must have been brandnew as it was not recorded in the map which I bought about one week ago. I frowned but I decided to go on as it was the correct direction. Only the fog, which became thicker now, made me a little bit nervous. „Come on, boy", I said to myself. „Don’t be silly. It is only a new road, it is a foggy evening, but soon you will be at home. But the next time I will stay on the Highway even if there’s a traffic jam."
Suddenly, the road narrowed and I slowed down the speed. 
I switched on the radio, but instead of any music there was only this static rustle on all channels: No reception on any channel. Was it just by accident or not? 
I felt my hands getting moist and also my heartbeat grew faster. I looked on my watch: Although it seemed to me if I were on this road for more than an hour, actually only five minutes have passed since I left the Highway. And still no other car, no house, no light to be seen...

The very moment I decided to turn back, there was this little girl on a child’s bike before my car. She was about 7 years old and her face was quite pale. Happy to see at least one living soul out there in this solitude, I even didn’t wonder what such a little girl was doing out there alone in the darkness in this area. But something wasn’t right at all, I only was not able to figure it out. 
An autobus without any panes passed by, its driver gave me a very strange look.
I started to feel very uneasy now and I was close to panic.
And then I saw them: A stream of old people along the road, most of them were walking alone, but some of them also hand in hand.

Suddenly there were traffic signs flashing in front of me: „Last exit: Death".
In panic I screamed and I braked abruptly. I lost the control over my car and it hurled along the street. The only thing I was able to do was to make the sign of the cross.

My car came to an abrupt halt as it crashed against something large and black. „Over", I just thought. But nothing happened to me, even the car was not as damaged as you should expect after such a crash. 
I heard a rumbling like thunder and terrified I realized the black thing moving. 
I couldn’t believe what I saw: Before me there was ... a dragon! A huge, black dragon with softly glowing, iceblue eyes. It was the most beautiful creature I have ever seen: Its scales like ebony in the headlight of my car. The dragon’s dorsal crest consisted of a ridge of curved plates, which were like shark’s fins and ran the length of its spine, getting smaller as they near its tailtip where they vanished all together. Its wings were configured just like those of any classic western dragon. The dragon also had a beautiful mane which ran from the top of its head about half the length of its long, powerfully muscled neck.

I felt a sharp pain in my head as I realized the creature was talking to me using its telepathic abilities. „Ssshhhh!!! Calm down, my human friend. There’s nothing to worry about." 
Strange enough, sensing these words, my body started to relax and indeed I calmed down. The dragon continued to talk: „It is too early for you to enter The Realm Of The Dragons as you have always wished. You have your life to live, my friend."
Suddenly, understanding dawned on me: I just have been on the Highway to Eternity.

The horns of the cars behind me brought me back into reality. The traffic jam was gone and I continued my way home on the Highway I am using every day. Soon I would be at home and enjoying a nice, beautiful evening. 

* * * * *
On My Way Home III

It was a foggy night and it was quite late when I was on my home. One of my best friends celebrated his 35th birthday and gave a big party. I would have stayed longer but as I had to go to work the next day, I left short after Midnight. Of course, since I had to drive, I had only softdrinks. I don’t need alcohol to be happy. Just a good music, nice people and a good humour and the party is perfect.

As usual, the road was deserted at this time and it had begun to drizzle. Everything was quite, only the music from the car-stereo was to be heard. As usual I was listening to my favourite CD from my favourite musician.

The shadow glided over my car. I only noticed it, because I expected it. Every time I drove along this road at night, I saw this shadow. Night for night, now for about five years. I never have been able to figure out what it was. Only a shadow. Or, was it just an illusion? 
Sometimes I had passengers in my car, friends or coworkers and they never realized this shadow. One of them told me that it was just a trick of my mind after a hard day at work. Another one just laughed when I asked him if he had seen that shadow as well: „You read too much thrillers, boy".
But tonight there was it again. And it seemed to come closer.
The scenery was nightmarish: The drizzle against the windscreen, the moonlight breaking through the clouds and mists conjures bizarre shadows on the asphalt. Some of these shadows looked like crosses.
And the circling shadow above my car came closer like a bird of prey.
I looked into the mirrors and I also looked back over my shoulder, there was nothing to be seen, but I felt it coming closer. I speeded up my car, my heart started to beat like a drum. This was so weird – and still 10 kilometres until home!

I felt the shadow engulfing my car, the crosses on the road’s asphalt became more frequent, the drizzle against the windscreen more dense.
Although I drove at highest speed now, my car slowed down and two red lights surrounded by a golden shimmer burned through the windscreen right into my soul.

It was in the early morning when they found the car. The two police officers called for an ambulance which arrived immediately. But although the medics did their best, for the driver every aid arrived too late. There were no signs of any accident or any crime.

„Now come on, my dear friend", a soft yet powerful voice whispered. I felt the warmth of its breath on my naked skin as I was not allowed to bring any of my personal belongings, my cloths included, to this place. „What do you think will they write in their reports?", I asked and looked into the red reptilian eyes of my new friend. „I don’t know", my friend replied. „And now let’s go, there’s no more to watch for you." „What about my car?" My friend chuckled: „Well, I guess, from now on, there’s no need for a car anymore." With this, the huge creature gently scooped me up in his massive arms and placed me on its scaly back. 
„Welcome home, dear friend! And now, hold on tight!" shouted the gorgeous golden dragon, spread his huge wings and leapt into the air. 

The END.