Readers Gazette Short Stories


Short Story The Fiery Sneeze

The Fiery Sneeze by Lynne North Childrens short story

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‘Go on, then!’ the villagers encouraged, pushing Ned forwards. ‘Go ON.’

With no choice in the matter, Ned shuddered, but did as he was told and edged forwards to the gaping mouth of the cave.

‘C...C...Cedric?’ he all but whispered. There was no reply. ‘He’s not in,’ Ned told the villagers, still using a very quiet voice.

‘Call him properly!’ yelled Tom, the blacksmith.

Ned heard movement from inside the cave, a heavy slithering sound. He turned to make sure he still had the support of his friends. Clearly he didn’t. Tom the strongest man in the village threw himself to the ground to hide behind some rocks, and the rest of the group soon followed. Ned swallowed hard. Before long all that was visible apart from him standing out in the open was a pile of boulders with the odd arm, hand, foot, part of a leg or top of a head sticking out from behind them. Ned began to shake, staring anxiously at the space where his friends had stood a few minutes before. He then stared back at the black hole from which echoed the thump of heavy steps getting ever closer.

Ned considered running, then heard the rumbling deep voice from within the cave.

‘Hello? Is someone there? Who is it? Ah, ahhhhh...’

Ned flattened himself to the ground, his hands covering the back of his head, just in time as the huge, bellowing ‘choooooooooooooo’ rang through the opening with a ball of flames that narrowly missed him.

Ned lifted his head slightly and saw the huge, scaly head appear through the flowers bordering the cave. The fearsome dragon stared down at the young man, his body still shaking from his nostril explosion. Ned remained still, not taking any chances.

‘Oh dear,’ began the dragon in his deep voice, ‘I’m so sorry, but what can I d,d,dooo?’ he bellowed, sending sparks flying over Ned’s head and narrowly missing Tom who had taken that unfortunate moment to peer over the boulders wondering what was happening. Ned saw him duck down again rubbing at the ends of his singed hair.

As the heat passed, Ned lifted his head and looked back at the anguished dragon, standing with a huge paw clasped over his quaking nostrils.
‘We must do something, Cedric.’ Ned muttered from his place on the grass. ‘NO!’ he continued, ‘don’t speak, Cedric. Please just listen.’

‘Mmm,’ mumbled Cedric the dragon through his scaly paw.

‘We’ve always welcomed you living so near to our village. You are a great protector for us,’ Ned continued, ‘but since your sneezing began in Spring our trade has almost stopped. Jack the baker arrived with a wagon full of charred bread after passing your cave. The horses run so fast when they hear you that visitors either leave town before they know they’ve entered it, or arrive head first! Cedric, what can I say?’ Ned asked, rising to his knees now. ‘We can’t go on.’ He spread his hands in a gesture of apology, his face and tone showing the sadness he felt in being chosen the spokesperson of the village.

‘Do you want me to l.l.leave? Ahhh CHOOO’ sneezed the dragon, narrowly missing Ned with a ball of flames as he threw himself flat on the ground again.

Cedric gripped his snout, tears clear in his eyes.

Ned couldn’t bear to say yes. ‘Leave it with me’, he replied. I’ll talk to the others.’

Sliding over to the boulders, still on his stomach just in case Cedric was overcome by another series of sneezes, Ned reached the tight pile of villagers. ‘I can’t do it! Could any of you?’ He stared them all in the eyes, which were about three inches from the ground, one by one. No one spoke up. ‘Right,’ decided Ned. ‘We can’t make him leave, so our only alternative is to cure him.’

‘How?’ asked Sam the stonemason. ‘Cut his head off?’

‘That kind of talk won’t get us anywhere,’ replied Ned. ‘Where’s Meggy?’ he suddenly announced, noticing someone missing from the pile of bodies.

Everyone stared over or around their hiding place in horror. While they had been discussing the dragon, the little girl had slipped out from behind the boulders and ambled over to the dragon! She was now stood singing to herself as she picked flowers from around the mouth of the cave.

‘Meg!’ yelled Ned. ‘Get back here!’ If Cedric sneezed now, anything could happen!

The child returned to them, unaware of the danger and still sniffing her small bunch of red and blue flowers.

Ned began to speak again, but was cut short by a high pitched ‘Atishoo!’

All the village folk buried their heads in the ground, before they realised that the air was not blistered with heat. The sneeze had come from Meggy.

‘Bless you,’ spluttered Ned through a mouthful of earth. He then stared at the flowers, a thought forming in his mind. ‘Wait, yes. That could be it. I’m sure it is...’

The next day Ned stood at his full height before Cedric, staring at the cleared cave mouth. Not a flower was in sight.

‘Thank you, Ned,’ said the dragon. ‘I haven’t sneezed once since the villagers moved all the flowers. I had no idea I had an allergy to them and they were making me sneeze!’

‘Glad to help, Cedric.’ Ned replied with a smile, patting the dragon on his scaly paw. ‘And if you see any more flowers start to grow there, breathe on them with your fiery breath. When no one else is around, of course!’


To see more of Lynne North's work, click the link to her website or scroll down to the bottom of the page to view her member details Visit Lynne North's Blog

Images used for the story are
Visit Pixabay Cave Mountain.

Visit Pixabay dragon Sitting.

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‘Go on, then!’ the villagers encouraged, pushing Ned forwards. ‘Go ON.’ With no choice in the matter, Ned shuddered, but did as he was told and edged forwards to the gaping mouth of the cave. ‘C....

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