November 5th, 1945
Many thousands of feet above the Bermuda Triangle, the TBF Avenger disturbed the blue sky’s silence. Captain Edward Johnson, aged forty, and his friend, Sergeant Conor MacCall, thirty-seven, crewed the dark-blue Torpedo bomber. They flew without a bombardier because they did not expect any action. This was a routine patrol for the naval air station in Fort Lauderdale, near Miami.
“It’s a good morning for flying. The one thing I haven’t missed these last two years is the miserable weather back home,” said Conor in his strong Glaswegian accent.
“I agree with you on that one,” Edward replied in his Oxford drawl, his brown eyes surveying the area around him. He had dark-blond hair and a blond moustache.
Sitting in the rear of the plane, controlling the turret gun and radio, Conor pushed back his carroty hair and turned his green eyes towards Edward.
“Do you ever think about home?” Conor asked.
“All the time,” Edward said with a slight trace of loneliness.
“What do you miss the most?” Conor pressed further.
Edward thought for a moment before answering. “I miss my parents. Every Sunday, Sandra and I would take the kids and visit my folks, staying for a few hours. Sandra loved my mother’s baking. Mum always fussed over the children.”
“I suppose you miss her baking too, sir, eh?” Conor chuckled as he asked this.
“Well, I suppose I do. But there’re better opportunities over here, so we had no choice but to move.”
“Aye, I’ll second that. I miss meeting the lads on a Saturday for a wee game of footie and then the few pints after. I’ll tell you this much, one thing I don’t miss is shooting down Germans over London.”
“True, true,” Edward agreed.
He scanned the area once more, satisfied that there was no present danger.
“I suppose we’ll head back,” Edward said. “Radio the station to all-clear the area.”
“Aye, sir. I’ll get right on it.”
Twenty minutes from base, a brilliant white light exploded out of nowhere, engulfing the sky as far as they could see. Sound burst around them, ricocheting with memories of bombing raids, flak and fire, the uncertainty of survival, deafness isolating each man in his real and recalled fear, never knowing if they would make it back. The light intensified, burning their retinas.
Shielding their eyes didn’t help much.
As suddenly as it arrived, the light disappeared.
“What in blazes just happened?” Conor said, blinking.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” Edward replied.
Both Conor and Edward’s headphones suddenly burst with static as they received a transmission from base.
“Fort Lauderdale to FT-4, do you read me?”
“This is Fox Tare Four to Fort Lauderdale; we read you loud and clear. What’s the problem? Over,” Conor replied.
“You got two unidentified bogies closing in on your position. Three o’clock.”
Conor shook away the last of the retina burn and looked again. With a second glance, he saw them approaching.
“Roger that, Lauderdale. Bogies spotted. FT-4, out.” His headphones crackled as Lauderdale was cut off.
“Sir, I know this may sound strange,” he said, turning to Edward, “but they don’t seem to be planes coming towards us.”
“Of course they are. What else can they be?”
Conor shut his eyes and squinted, focusing harder. As he looked again, he became slack-jawed.
“I think they’re …” He swallowed the unreality of the thought. “They’re … black dragons. And there’s someone riding them.”
“This is no time for jokes,” Edward barked.
“I’m not joking. They’re gaining on us. Break left!”
“Don’t be daft. There’s no such—” Edward stopped as he, too, saw what Conor had seen.
“My God!” he exclaimed in awe. “Bloody hell, how’s this even possible?”
Edward snapped out of his momentary, shock-induced paralysis. “Hold on!”
The TBF Avenger swooped down. The dragon followed. Opening its large mouth, it belched fire and narrowly missed the TBF Avenger’s tail.