That day had been like any other Monday in the small town of Hickory Spring. Old Mr. Holden had opened his shop exactly at eight on the dot. Mary Ann Murphy opened the library ten minutes past eight, always late as usual. Beatrice Miller sat on her front porch with her ten-year-old Chihuahua on her lap. Twenty-five-year-old Michel Andrews pulled into the gas station parking lot for his shift at fifteen minutes pass eight. Like clockwork at eight thirty former home coming queen and now mother of two, Libby Smith walked out of the town’s only gas station to head home after her shift. Mayor Ben Sharp walked into city hall at eight forty, holding a pile of papers in one hand and his phone in the other. The mayor’s secretary, Amanda Elis opened the city hall door for him like she did every day. Amanda Elis got to city hall at seven a.m. every day, but the weekends and didn’t leave until after six p.m.
I sat at the front desk of the Hickory Inn where I had sat since seven a.m. I had a hot coffee sitting on the desk while I read a book. I slowly snacked on a bowl of dried cereal. My black hair done in a braid down my back, and I had kicked off my flats. My grey eyes too focused on the book.
Had I been looking out the inn’s window at nine thirty, I would have noticed the odd man riding into town on a white stallion. He was dressed in what could only be described as something out of a fairytale with poufy sleeves the color of rubies and pointed shoes that looked to made from fine leather. He wore a hat with a single feather sticking out the top. His blonde hair hung long down pass his shoulders. If I had not been so inserted in my book, I would have noticed Mr. Holden walking outside his shop to see this strange man.
It was only when the man walked into the Hickory Inn and rang my desk bell did, I looked up. I was startled at first, but the feeling of surprise turned quickly to confusion as I looked over the man.
“Welcome to the Hickory Inn voted best inn ten years running. How can I help you?” I asked slipping a bookmark into the page I was on and closing the book I had been reading.
“I was wondering if you could give me directions to the dragon. The one terrorizing the town of Hickory Springs.” The man spoke with a strange accent. “I was told it was grey and about as tall as this building, if not bigger. I also heard it can shoot fire half a mile long.”
“You are in Hickory Springs, but we don’t have a dragon. Dragons after all aren’t real; unless you mean those big lizards, they have out in Asia. I believe they are called Komodo dragons. We do have one or two of those in the zoo, but that would be over in Murrayfield, which is a good thirty minutes away. Not to mention those dragons would not be as tall as this building since they only grow to about 8 feet.”
The man pulled out a worn old paper and showed it to me. “No, this right here says you have a dragon in this town.”
The man was right about the paper was claiming a dragon was here, but when I took a closer look at the paper, I noticed it was dated 1400s and that it was Hickory Springs all the way in Europe. I tried pointing this out to the man without even mentioning the most important fact that fire breathing dragons were not real. The man would not listen.
By ten I had just given into the man’s logic. I was too tired to argue anymore and the crowd outside was only getting bigger. “You know what, now that you mentioned it a dragon was spotted right outside the town. To find it you should walk until you see a red barn and at that barn you take a right until you get to a bridge. Cross the bridge and then turn left and you walk until you see the cave that houses the dragon.”
“Thank you, um miss… I don’t believe I got your name.”
“Prince Henry of Qunrir.” The man said his name with such confidence that for a second, I thought maybe he was one of those actors we got every so often in the park, but I had met a few of them when they would check in at the inn and he didn’t act quite like them.
“Well, you better get on your way.” I told him, opening my book again.
Beatrice Miller had gotten off her porch and was now looking in the inn’s window. Behind her I could see Jenny Lewis who must have been on her way to the grocery store and stopped to see what Beatrice was looking at. Michel Andrews had left his post at the gas station and was standing over with Mr. Holden.
“Thank you again Miss Ameillia Brown. I shall hopefully return victorious.” The prince gave a nod and walked out of the door. He then turned in the doorway. “One last thing, do you have a good black smith in town who could help fix up my sword?”
I thought for a moment and considered directing him to Mr. Jameson who did metal work for a hobby, but I thought against it since I knew Mr. Jameson would not have the patience for this odd man. “No, I’m afraid not.”
This Prince Henry looked disappointed but only said, “I understand. Well thank you anyways for the help.” He climbed onto his horse, while a crowd of spectators watched.
I turned back to the book I was reading and nearly dropped the book when I read the name of the hero of the story, Prince Henry of Qunrir.