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In my book, Wandering Time, when Zoe and Alison wander, strange things can happen. In the Tower of London, Alison begins to sing this song she learned in camp. Suddenly, they are in a different reality with the ghost of Anne Boleyn.
Princess Pru and the Dragon
In a far-away land live a king and queen whose only daughter is brave but not especially beautiful. She has too many freckles, her teeth are going to need braces, and her hair sticks out like a dandelion puff. Her name is Prudencia, but when the royal parents are not around, which is most of the time, the village children call her Pru.
Pru is not the sort of princess who would wait for a prince to wake her from a hundred years sleep or rescue her from danger. She usually wears a frayed sweat-shirt and jeans. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book about magic or dragons, she can be found running around with the wildest of the children over roof-tops and through alleys, in and out of secret entrances and passages in the castle and the town.
The day a real dragon flew in from the west, the villagers stared up at the sky, at the golden, glinting shape getting larger, until they could tell it was no bird, and larger still, until its shadow in front of the afternoon sun covered everything like a cloud.
Of course, no one these days believes in dragons. But the curls of smoke that rose from the creature’s nostrils, the flapping of leathery wings, and the scorching smell caused people to abandon the square and hide inside their houses. Everyone except Pru. She was sure it was a dragon. Watching from behind a dumpster, she saw it land on the flat roof of City Hall, smooth its scales, and blow a blast of fire into a row of poplar trees beside the building. It spoke in human language, in a voice that rang like a bell and could be heard all over town.
“Bring me the princess! I’m hungry!”
Pru paused and took a few deep breaths to keep from shaking. Then, crouching low, she sneaked up a back stairway to the roof of City Hall. From behind a shed, in a voice that trembled only slightly, she called to the dragon.
“Pardon me, oh mighty dragon, we are honored by your visit to our humble village.” She never paid attention to princess manners, but the fairy-tales she read had taught her how to speak to dragons.
“What century is this?” thundered the monster, rattling the roof and causing her insides to shake.
“This is the twenty-first century,” she answered, a little steadier.
“Bother!” groaned the dragon. “I’ve overslept. No wonder I feel so bad. I ate a cow and some sheep, but I need a princess!”
Pru peeked around from behind the shed. She noticed the dragon’s metallic scales were tarnished. Several had fallen onto the roof. The creature’s color, which had seemed golden in the sun, now looked pale.
“You do look poorly,” she said. “Do you really eat princesses? What for?”
“That’s how it’s done!” The dragon roared, but this time only a few sparks shot out. “Drat! It’s getting worse,” it grumbled. “First the knight in armor fights me. When he loses, I eat him and the princess, and I feel much better.”
It sniffed. “You smell like a princess, but you don’t look like one. What are you?”
“Things are different now.” Pru avoided the dragon’s question. “There aren’t any knights or dragons. I didn’t think there ever were real dragons.”
She stepped out from behind the shed and took a good look. “Maybe it was the armor you needed, not the princess. I was anemic once and they made me take iron pills. Iron is metal. I bet you need a lot with all those scales!”
“Hmm,” rumbled the monster. “No knights and no dragons? How could I have slept that long? Tell me where I can find metal.”
“That’s easy,” answered Pru. “If I climb on your back and show you, will you promise not to eat me?”
“I’m sure you’re not the right sort of princess. You’d probably give me a stomach ache. Climb up behind my head,” it said, stretching out a front leg for Pru.
The dragon’s smile made her nervous, and it wasn’t exactly a promise. But it was a chance to ride a dragon. Pru scrambled up the leg and seated herself on the dragon’s broad neck, wrapping her hands around one of its jutting spines.
Lifting its wings, the dragon rose into the sky. Pru watched her village get smaller and smaller below. “Yipee! I’m flying!” she yelled.
As they flew over the highway, brakes squealed and cars screeched to a stop.
“That’s metal, isn’t it?” roared the dragon, veering downward.
Pru could see the frightened faces of people inside the cars.“Not those!” she screamed. “Look over there.” She urged it past the highway to the edge of town where a field was strewn with abandoned cars. They landed in a litter of paper and trash.
The dragon’s long curved claws tore chunks from a rusty Volkswagen. Its teeth, like spears, crunched the metal. Soon it had devoured the whole thing, and Pru could see golden color return to its scales. Belching, it shot a plume of flame, setting fire to a patch of dry weeds.
“Much better,” roared the dragon. “I won’t eat you.” It turned its great body and lunged, shining, into the sky. Arching its neck at Pru, it flew west, where the sun had begun to set.
Princess Pru walked back to town. People stood in groups around the square, arguing about what they had seen. Some said it was a flying saucer. Others claimed it was a large bird. Some even said it was an illusion, a trick of the light, or a solar flare. Only Pru knew.