Hailey had a problem. It was no big deal. She had faced worse problems and they had all worked out. She was Hailey Addison – record holder for the world’s oldest turd. She had disregarded all of Rhoda’s stupid time-travel rules and somehow managed to change history so awesomely that there were now dragons in colonial America. Still, it was very inconvenient to lose your phone in the middle of the Salem Witch Trials.
“Rhoda can not know about this,” Hailey said.
Sarah Proctor shook her head and continued to wipe the bar. “I don’t think I can trust you,” she said.
“I told you, I’m not a witch!”
“That’s not it. It’s hard to see you hiding important information from your best friend and not think that you’re probably doing the same with me,” Sarah said. “I don’t care if you’re a witch. I think witches are great.”
Hailey stared at Sarah. She was not cracking a smiling or showing any indication that she was joking.
“What are you looking at?” Sarah asked, picking up a rag and a glass.
“Are you… a witch supporter?”
Sarah shrugged. “I know this is Salem, the most witch-hating village in the colonies, but I don’t buy into that. Witches can do a lot of great things with their magic.”
That was not something Hailey had ever expected to hear from a Puritan. She thought she had known everything about Sarah, but clearly, the history books had glossed over this.
“I didn’t even know there were witch supporters in Salem,” Hailey said.
“So, you admit that you’re a witch?”
“No. I’m not a witch. I wish I was. I’ve always wanted to do magic. But that’s besides the point. I need to get my phone back before Rhoda finds out and freaks out, but I don’t even know where it is.”
“Do you mean the little magic box? The thing that the judge called ‘the devil’s book?’” Sarah asked. “Stephan Sewall has it.”
“He’s the court secretary. Stoughton gave it to him and told him to guard it as if it were his only child. He’s serious about finding witches, Lieutenant Governor Stoughton is,” Sarah said.
Hailey drummed her fingers on the bar for a minute while stewing on this information. “I’ve got an idea, but I’ll need your help.”
“No chance,” Sarah said. “Interfering with the court will just lead me to Gallows’ Hill. I’m not going there.”
“What if I promise you won’t get caught?” Hailey asked. “Trust me, no one will have any idea that you helped me. They won’t even know we were there.”
Sarah wiped the glass thoughtfully.
“What did you have in mind?”
Rhoda stared at the dragon – just another part of the tour. Constance Irons, a dragon rancher who was maybe in her mid forties had been delighted at Rhoda’s interest and agreed to let her see the animals. One of the magnificent creatures lifted its head in a defiant roar, stretched its wings, and attempted to fly free. Fortunately, the chains on its back legs held it fast in place. The best it could do was hover slightly off the ground.
“This is amazing,” Rhoda said. “How did you get into raising dragons?”
“I’m just meeting a demand,” Constance said. “I used to hunt dragons when I was younger.”
“You’re a dragon huntress?” Rhoda asked. Constance was her new favorite person.
“It’s not as exciting as it sounds,” Constance said. “Well… maybe it is exciting sometimes – when things go catastrophically wrong, but it’s not glamorous. It was a baby step up from being a hunter-gatherer. We’d find eggs and harvest them before they could hatch and kill us. The thing is: that wasn’t sustainable, and the demand was increasing. Witches can’t live without dragon eggs… Well, they can, but they don’t like to.”
“Wait,” Rhoda said, pausing to consider that. Did she mishear or misunderstand? “Sorry, did you just say witches?”
“Yes, of course. They’re my best customers.”
“You’re telling me that witches are real?”
Constance gave her a ‘there is such a thing as a stupid question’ look. “Up until a minute ago, I thought you were smart,” she said. “Of course, witches are real. How can you have spent any time around the witch-hating Salemites and not know that witches are real?”
Rhoda felt an ache in her gut and felt like throwing up. They really had screwed up history. For a few moments, she had convinced herself that it was OK, because she had gotten to pet a dragon. It was not OK. This was a serious alteration and they needed to fix it, but how? How did messing around in the Cretaceous make magic become real?
She didn’t have time to think about that because someone was yelling out on the road. She and Constance rushed to the gate to see who it was.
It was Hailey. Of course it was Hailey and she was being chased by half the village!
“Sanctuary!” Hailey yelled. “Sanctuaaaaaaaaaary!”
“I’ll handle this,” Constance said. She put two fingers in her mouth and whistled, inspiring all her dragons to attempt flight. They couldn’t go anywhere with the leg chains, but it was enough to frighten off the villagers. “They don’t dare come onto my farm,” she said.
Hailey reached the gate and rested against it. “We… have to go… save Sarah,” she panted. “She’s… been arrested for witchcraft… and it’s all my fault!”