You are on vacation, driving across country. You are a couple days into the journey when you stop in the small desert town of Ever Springs. The town was named after a magic spring that no longer flows through downtown.
Ever Springs is a quiet town of about 5000 people. It has a downtown area built in the 1850s with a general store, a post office, hotel, mom and pop restaurant, a couple bars and a court house. It’s a typical idyllic American town. The little town is at least 100 miles from any other city. It really wasn’t well marked on the map, but it was the only place for another 100 miles to sleep, and you just wanted to stop and rest.
You have stopped here on your way to your real vacation on the West Coast. You want the beach, and you know your friends are waiting for you. Your excitement keeps you up. It’s 3 a.m. and you can’t sleep. (You can have a family, be with friends or be on your own, whatever is best for you in your writing. You can also be male or female, pick one). You decide to go walking. You are pretty sure there is little to no crime in this little quiet town out in the middle of the desert.
You walk downtown. When you leave your hotel there are 3 little stoplights all flashing, but the buildings are so stuck in time, you are enjoying yourself just look. You walk for 5 mins to the edge of town, where the high school is, and the road travels out into the darkness of the desert. Little communities of houses can be seen behind the buildings of the town. No one is out. The small stream of occasional traffic passing through the town has even stopped.
You stand and look out at the desert thinking of the rest of your trip. Soon you will be with your friends, suddenly you hear something whoosh by overhead. You look out into the desert night and see a large bird flying away from the town. It is very large. After a minute it turns, flies up, and back toward the town. You feel odd about it, so you turn and decide to go back to your hotel, walking a little faster than before.
The large bird passing 20 feet your head, and it casts a large shadow. About 100 yards away, right in the middle of the quiet little down, it lands and turns toward you, and for the first time you realize, it is not a bird, but a very large dragon, something you have only seen on tv and in story books. You freeze.
The dragon, leans low, moving toward you. You are frozen with fear. You think maybe you are dreaming. At he comes close, he stops and begins to speak…
You can write your story below in the comments, or just write it for yourself….please leave me a comment and tell me what you think of the prompt. I wrote this one late and quickly, so if you see mistakes, leave THEM in the comments. I’ll correct them, thanks!
Johnny Peters says
You’ve put an extra “s” in “desert” up there somewhere.
The prompt is fun. Sounds like something that would start off a Gaiman story.
Every Writer says
It’s been changed. I like dessert a lot more desert.
Johnny Peters says
“You’re out past curfew, you know? I can by all rights eat you.”
I’ve always had good survival instincts. They kept me out of detention in high school, employed after countless late arrivals to work, and just holding onto a tenuous relationship with Margaret. I think in this case they would have gone right out of me but for the fact that the dragon had the voice of an English Bobby straight out of central casting. “I’m from out of town.”
“So you say,” said the dragon. He drooped his head down and narrowed his eyes. “Out with the ID then. Hold it up, I’ve got fantastic eyesight.”
Blessed by laziness, I’d left my dirty pants with everything in them, and chosen them rather than any of the spares crammed into my overstuffed duffel. So I had my ID by dint of irresponsibility. I pinched it out from among the other plastic. Library card, union card, student ID (expired, useless but for student discounts if I covered up the date and the cashier wasn’t vigilant), credit cards (not quite maxed), Social Security card (laminated illicitly), Starbucks gift card, Museum membership, and held it up. The dragon studied it. He moved his head a little, glanced from the card to my face, then back again. “So how’d you get here, Mr. Slight? Especially when you can’t read a plainly marked sign.” He gestured with a long claw towards a sign mounted to a post holding up the awning in front of Bill’s Sundries. It read
“None out past Mid-night under penalty of consumption by order of Deathwing”
“Rough translation. Marshal Deathwing to be precise, but that seemed too formal.”
“Look,” I said, “I got here late, and the only sign I saw was the motel sign. I was wiped, pretty lost, and then I couldn’t sleep so I went out…”
“They didn’t tell you at the desk that you can’t be out after midnight?” he asked, clipping me off with obvious cop skepticism.
“He might have said something about a curfew, actually. I really thought he was kidding.”
The dragon made a harsh roar. Somewhere between an airhorn and a monster truck being murdered by a buzzsaw. I couldn’t have run if I’d wanted to. I had a moment of zenlike calm I’ve never felt since. Just before the dragon started talking again, I’d come to terms with my imminent death. “Oric joke? I don’t think I’ve seen him smile in seventy years!” My keen survival instincts kicked in and I joined the dragon in laughing. “So that’s your Blue Camry in the lot then? The one with the expired inspection.”
“I’d been meaning to fix that. It’s got an oxygen sensor issue.”
“It’s three months out. Don’t they have mechanics in Austin?”
“They do,” I said, hanging my head, “It just got away from me and I hadn’t thought of it. If there’s a mechanic in town I’ll take care of it tomorrow first thing.” I patted my wallet, wondering if my cards could handle it.
The dragon rumbled, “Ray can fix you up. You have gold?”
“Visa will also do, but he’ll add a convenience fee.”
“That’s fine,” I said. It was looking like I might not be arrested or eaten. “I’ll take it over first thing in the morning then.”
The dragon shook his head. “No, that won’t work. You’d never find him. He’ll come to you, or, most like, he’ll just snap up your car and bring it back when he’s done. Leave the keys and the card under the driver’s seat. If you’ve got any food in it, you best take it out now because he’ll assume it’s an offering. Of course, it might be wise to leave some in there anyway. He’s fond of offerings. Couldn’t hurt.
“Well,” he said after a beat. “I guess I will let you return to your room. Please observe the curfew if you’re still here tomorrow night.”
“I will. Sorry.”
He waved off my apology with a claw that momentarily blotted out the moon. “It happens. We get people wander in from time to time and they forget. Luckily I catch most of them before something bad happens.”
“Wargs, mostly. Used to be a witch roaming about. Rowed about in a great big mortar. Said her home country was too cold for her bones, anymore.” He shook his head. “But ain’t seen her in some time.” His voice trailed off thoughtfully. I felt it best that I didn’t move. “Well,” he said, “Back to bed you go.” He moved his head to indicate the motel behind. I started off, involuntarily making a wide berth around him.
“You know,” he said from behind, his voice suddenly raspy, “Just one more thing.” I turned, and the dragon was hunched over , his neck curved in a hump that left his head nearly on my level. He peered at me now with one eye. A whisp of smoke rolled up from one nostril, lit murky white by the moon. “How did you find this place?”
“It’s on my map,” I said.
The dragon’s eyes narrowed. “Where did you get that map?”
I shrugged. “My dad. We took it on all the family trips.”
He stared at me. The cop stare that makes you give up more information. School principals have the same stare. “It doesn’t feel like a family trip unless I use the map. I’m so familiar with it that I can fold it up how it came.”
“Ah,” said the dragon. “Triple A, then?”
I laughed. “No, as a matter of fact. Dad said they were a scam. This was some other company. Smaller. I think they went out of business.”
“Your father still around?”
I hesitated. I wasn’t sure how to answer that. I shook my head, and the dragon took that as an answer. “Sorry about that, but it seems like he was a right clever man.” He drew in a great breath through his nose, and held it. He stared.
“He had his moments.”
“I bet he did,” he said slowly, his voice thoughtful again. I felt I was getting the hang of dragon speak. He had something on his mind. Then it flew away, and he did that popping awake thing again. “Well, off to bed. Don’t forget to leave your keys and card. You can lock your door if you’re worried about it. It won’t give Ray trouble.”
I wondered why he needed the key at all, then. “I’ll do that then.” I had decided to get something from the vending machine by way of an offering, as well. I had no road snacks to speak of. Not everything my dad taught me about travel had rubbed off.
I gave the dragon cop an awkward salute and walked back to the hotel. There was a sound like someone violently shaking out a massive bedsheet, a gust of gritty wind, and when I looked back the dragon was launching skyward.
I went to the vending machine, chose a honeybun, and placed it under the seat with the key and credit card. I checked the sky, looking for the dragon, but it was clear and cloudless. I decided it would feel pretty good to have the sensor finally fixed.
My stomach rumbled. I checked my phone, counted on my fingers and realized it had been ten hours since I’d eaten. There was another honey bun in the machine and fifty cents rattling in my pocket. I started over for it, but from somewhere came a low, lonely howl. I ran for my room and threw myself under the covers without bothering to even take off my shoes.