The prompts for this story came from the writing group that Orion started in her building. They had the word bounty. Since Kyros hates just having one prompt, they grabbed, extra prompts from a cool little thing he found on Amazon called Storymatic. The prompts that came from there were: shouldn’t have touched it, nobody is watching, trespasser.
The way we got into this story was that we wondered “what was it that the person shouldn’t the person have touched.” Orion suggested a dragon egg. Kyros liked that idea and thought it would be funny to steal it from a museum. That’s why she hides out in a museum in the middle of the story. That’s where she stole it from in the first draft of the story. It wasn’t until we were writing the very end of the story that Kyros got the humorous idea about who the father of the baby dragon should be. That caused us to go back and re-write our protagonist stealing it from the White House instead of a museum.
Orion used to sell stone eggs as dragon eggs at medieval fairs. When children asked if they would really hatch a dragon, she told them, “Of course, in two hundred years or so. If the egg doesn’t hatch, they should bring it back to her for a refund.” Behind the children, their parents were usually trying not to laugh and spoil the fun.
Now she collects stone eggs for herself. They live in a woven basket on her countertop where visitors can handle them while she regales them with the origin story of each one. She hopes they don’t hatch anytime soon. Though maybe the cat would like a new playmate.
When she went looking on Google Images for a picture of a stone egg for this story, she found herself drooling over pix of eggs she didn’t have…yet! The picture she settled on is a dragon septarian stone egg from Madagascar and she wants one!
“Excuse me, miss,” the man in the ebony suit called to her. “We need to check your bag before you can leave the White House.”
Icy panic raced through her veins. Did they see me take it? I thought nobody was watching. Did they catch me on a camera? I shouldn’t have touched it, let alone taken it. But I had to have it.
“Oh, sorry… sorry. I’m just absent-minded today.” She waved a hand around her at the elegant decor. “This place is so lovely.” Don’t notice it, she thought desperately, hoping the Jedi mind trick would work for her. It’s just an ornate stone egg. I’m not stealing some priceless artifact that once belonged to Thomas Jefferson from the White House.
“Okay, everything looks fine. Have a nice day.”
He’d no sooner said those words then she flew out of the building.
Just as she got to the street, alarms rang out from inside the building. She heard a voice call out. “Stop! Miss, come back here!” Glancing back, she saw several dark-suited men chasing after her.
Crap! Someone noticed the egg was missing!
Thinking quickly, she dodged into a crowd of tourists boarding a bus. Once inside, she took an aisle seat beside a large man who would keep anyone outside from seeing her. As the bus pulled away, she saw one of the black-suited men stare after the bus, then write down something in a notebook.
She rode the bus for a couple of hours before her fears quieted. Finally, she disembarked on the Capitol Mall and slipped into the Hirshhorn Museum. She wandered through the exhibits until she heard an announcement that the museum was closing.
Where do I go now? I sure they’re still searching for me. A couple of the guards keep looking at me funny.
As luck would have it, she found a maintenance door in the sculpture garden that hadn’t fully closed. Opening it, she found herself facing dimly lit stairs heading down.
Perfect! I can hide in here and sneak out after everyone has gone. Hopefully, after the museum closes, they’ll give up looking for me and I can go somewhere else.
Perching on a step toward the bottom, she waited. One hour, then two went by before she felt safe exiting her hiding place. She opened the door and peered around the sculpture garden. Ghostly shapes loomed in the near darkness. One shape separated from the rest, walking toward her. In the dim light she could see that the figure was wearing some kind of utility belt with odd shaped items hanging from it.
Oh, she thought with relief, it’s just a security guard. I shouldn’t have trouble getting past him in the dark.
Rising from her crouch, she stuttered, “I’m…I’m sorry for trespassing, sir. I’ve had a very bad day. Some mean-looking men have been chasing me. I thought I could hide out here until they gave up. I’ll move along now. Sorry.”
The man continued walking toward her. Fear danced along her nerves. Does he know what I did? Is he one of them?
In a gravelly voice, the stranger broke the silence. “I could care less that you’re trespassing here, but I am going to have to take that egg from you. The owner put a pretty hefty bounty on your head. I aim to collect it.”
Fear trumped whatever compulsion had made her take the damned thing in the first place. Pulling the egg from her purse, she was startled at how warm it was.
“H…here,” she said, her voice wavering as she held it out to the man. “Take it.”
Just then, there was a loud crack and the egg wobbled in her hands.
As the man sprinted to grab it from her, the egg split in two, stone half-shells shattering on the cement. In her outstretched hands stood what could only be a small dragon.
“MOMMY!” it shrieked.
What the hell? she thought. I’m imagining things. There’s no way that I have a tiny dragon sitting on my hand. I’ve got to be hallucinating. The stress has finally gotten to me.
A gunshot echoed off the walls, bringing her attention back to the man in front of her. “Just hand over the dragon and you won’t be hurt,” the man growled.
The small dragon in her hand let out a tiny roar. “You’re not going to hurt my mommy.” And with that, it jumped into the air, took a deep breath and belched a searing cloud of steam at the man.
The man screamed and dove into the nearby fountain. He floated there unmoving, face down in the water.
Terrified, she backed up until she was plastered against one of the support pillars.
A low chuckle reverberated around the space. Another shadow detached itself from the far wall and approached them.
The tiny dragon caught the movement and jumped at the figure screeching, “Daddy!! I saved Mommy.”
The figure moved into a stray beam of light.
She gasped. That face! She recognized it from the two dollar bill as well as gazing down at her in the nearby monument.
Thomas Jefferson! The third president of the United States stood before her, fondling the fantastic creature that had hatched from the stone egg she’d stolen.
He spoke to the little dragonet seriously. “That’s not your Mommy. That’s a thief who tried to take you away from us.” He smiled cruelly. “And one who is now going to pay dearly for that indignity.”
With that pronouncement, his shape exploded outward into a humongous version of the little dragonling. It leaned over, fished the burnt bounty hunter out of the fountain and flipped the body into its mouth.
“No need for loose ends.” The thing roared, then turned to glare down on her cowering form.
The last thing she saw was it’s gaping maw as the beast lunged for her.
“WJLA News Special Report: Several early morning joggers reported hearing screams from the Hirshhorn Museum Sculpture Garden early this morning. Extensive searches by Capitol Police failed to find anything out of the ordinary. Officials speculate that the sound was just migrating birds reflecting off the curved walls.”