The dragon was on the beach. Dill knew this because although he couldn’t actually see it, he was too far away, he had been reliably informed by Shem that the twin plumes of smoke rising in the darkening sky came from the dragon’s terrible nostrils.
Dill’s ma and pa had gone with the rest of the elders, shining in their golden ceremonial robes. Dill had only seen them like this once before and he had been too little to understand. He had remembered the lottery though, and felt his ma’s tears of relief on his face when his name hadn’t been called out. After the sacrifice, there would be a celebration and dancing, which all seemed pretty callous to Dill, when you thought for a minute about the girl who was being offered up for the dragon’s dinner.
‘It’s supposed to be an honour,’ said Shem, chewing on a strand of grass, looking all solemn, like he cared.
‘Some honour,’ said Dill, and shivered. ‘Can you imagine it?’