Surprisingly, Rhoda wasn’t angry. Sure, Hailey had ignored all her warnings and screwed things up in the most epic way possible but seeing Hailey at the gate of the dragon pen, berating herself for what she had done, just made Rhoda want to hug her and make it right.
Constance’s reaction was different. She had become quiet, stroking one of her dragons idly. Rhoda wished she could do the same but thought she might lose a hand, so she just listened as Hailey described the situation. She had lost her phone in the Salem Witch Trials of all places and times and instead of coming to Rhoda, she had recruited a local teenager to help her steal it back. Now, Sarah Proctor had been arrested months earlier than she should have been and would certainly be hung.
Rhoda wondered if they could just go home, refuel, and then make another trip to fix everything. But time travel was too weird and uncertain. If things were going to be fixed, they needed to be fixed now. Unfortunately, they were not up to the task.
“Constance, we need your help,” Rhoda said. “The villagers are terrified of you. If you demand Sarah’s release, they’ll do it.”
The older woman shook her head sadly as she adjusted the dragon’s harness. Rhoda waited patiently for a reply, but Constance focused on her task. Rhoda looked at Hailey for help, but she just shrugged.
“Constance? Did you hear…”
“No,” Constance said. “I can’t”
They stood quietly and awkwardly for another few minutes until someone else approached the gate – John and Elizabeth Proctor, Sarah’s parents. They weren’t quite running but were definitely walking briskly.
“Constance!” John blurted. “You’ve got to help us!”
Constance sighed, “I can’t help you. I’m sorry. Right now, the Salemites tolerate me because they fear me, but if I push too far, they’ll come to my door with guns and torches to burn this place down.”
Elizabeth shoved the gate open and stomped towards Constance. “But you’re a mother too,” she snapped. “What if they had taken your son?”
“If anyone ever dared to touch Tenacious,” Constance hissed. Her face contorted. “My dragons and I would ride against that pathetic village – burning, crushing, and destroying everything that stood between me and my son.” She sighed and shook her head. “But they haven’t taken Tenacious. They’ve taken Sarah. As fond as I am of her, I will not trade my family’s well being for yours.”
“But she’s my baby!” Elizabeth sobbed.
“She’s in no real danger,” Constance assured her. “I’m not supposed to tell you this, but some of my customers have had their eyes on Salem and they don’t like what’s going on. They’ll be here within the week to put an end to the trials.”
When she heard this, Elizabeth’s face changed starkly. The creases in her brow smoothed out, making her look much younger. Hailey, on the other hand, now had the creases Elizabeth had lost.
“Who are your customers?” Hailey asked. “How do you expect them to stop the trials?”
“Witches, of course,” Constance said. “Who else would buy dragon eggs?”
Hailey immediately started bouncing in place. “Real witches in Salem?” she asked with a giggle. “That is the most awesome thing I’ve ever heard!”
“Don’t be so excited,” Constance said mournfully. “Once they get here, terrible things are going to happen.”
Hailey blushed and looked away. Then, her head perked up and she squinted at something down the road. Rhoda followed her gaze and noticed Constance’s son, Tenacious hurrying towards the dragon pen.
“Mother!” the teenage boy said as he approached. “You need to do something! Sarah has been arrested!”
“Yes, Tenacious,” Constance said. “We were just talking about it. I know how much you like her, but don’t worry. The witches will be here within a week.”
“That’s to long,” Tenacious moaned. “Stoughton thinks Sarah is the ringleader. He’s hanging her tomorrow!”
The wrinkles returned to the Proctors’ faces and tears formed. Constance covered her face with her hands. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “I can’t do anything.”
Hailey put a hand on Elizabeth’s shoulder. “I’ll save her,” she said. “I’ll get Sarah out and keep her safe until the witches arrive. Don’t ask questions though. It’s better if you don’t get involved.”
“Nonsense!” John spat. “How could we not get involved when it’s our daughter at stake. Whatever you’re doing, we’re going to be a part of it.”
“And I’m coming too,” Tenacious announced.
“You most certainly are not!” Constance snapped. “Why do you have to act so much like your idiot father?”
“He was a hero,” Tenacious protested.
“He was,” she agreed. “And he’s dead because of it. I’m not losing you too.” She looked Hailey in the eye. “Whatever dangerous and stupid thing you’re about to do, I hope it goes well, but please do it somewhere else, so my idiot son is not tempted to get involved.”
Several hours after the confrontation at Constance’s dragon ranch, Hailey sat in the back of the VW Time Machine, contemplating the situation. Thinking about what might happen to Sarah because of her made her sick – legitimately sick as in she could feel the fish and the corn moving around in her stomach, threatening to come back up. This was all her fault.
The Proctors were so focused on saving Sarah, they had only hesitated briefly to enter the flying vehicle. They believed it was witchcraft but didn’t care. In fact, Elizabeth told them that she didn’t mind Hailey and Rhoda being witches. If that was how they chose to live their lives, no one should be allowed to tell them otherwise. Neither Hailey nor Rhoda bothered telling them that they weren’t witches. It seemed easier to let it slide than to explain time travel. It also seemed easier not to tell them that it was Hailey who had gotten Sarah arrested. They needed to survive the rescue first.
By extraordinary luck, the night was cloudy and moonless, meaning no one could see their flying van. They flew up to the second story of the jail, where Sarah was being kept and found her in the fourth window they peeked into. She was chained to a wall and gagged. Hailey peered through the window but didn’t see any guards which meant they wouldn’t need to use the tranquilizer gun. That sucked because Hailey had spent ten minutes explaining to the Proctors how to use it before they left. She slid open the side door, so she could get at the brick wall.
“Pull up closer, Rhoda. I don’t want to fall to my death,” Hailey said. “Perfect. Now John, push that button I showed you.”
The sound of Korean rap filled the air, coming from the speaker Hailey had hidden high in a tree. Hailey ignored the impulse to do the dance that went with this song and fired up her angle grinder. It whirred and buzzed loudly, especially as it cut into the brick, but hopefully, the guards would be too distracted by the strange music to notice.
“Hurry up,” Rhoda complained. “I hate your music.” She had no appreciation for the YouTube classics.
Hailey ignored her and continued to work, pausing as the song ended. Another song followed it, this one a philosophical opus about the humble woodland fox and its mysterious sound. She cut through quickly and was kicking the remaining bricks out of the way as the next song began – a beautiful piece that described a family of sharks engaged in a noble, but unsuccessful hunt.
They found Sarah struggling against her chains and trying to yell through her gag. It looked painful, but at least she was safe.
A door swung open and a man strolled in carrying some bread and a water pitcher. For a moment, everyone froze and stared at each other. The guard dropped the food and turned to run but stopped and swatted his neck as if he had bitten by a mosquito. He pulled out a small tranquilizer dart and studied it for a moment before he collapsed to the floor.
“Tenacious!” Rhoda shouted. “What are you doing here?”
The teenager stood at the hole in the wall, holding the tranquilizer gun in his shivering hands.
“I s-snuck out and f-followed you.” he said pointing to the time machine. “I d-didn’t know it would f-fly here. I clung to the b-bars”
“Thank you!” John said. “If he had alerted the rest of the guards… Go in there and warm up. We’ll have Sarah out in a minute.”
“Yes, b-but if you need me, yell. I came to help, not h-hide.”
Hailey quickly cut the chains, freeing Sarah, who immediately ripped the gag from her mouth. “This is a trap!” she shouted.
On cue, a dozen men with flintlock rifles burst into the room. They were followed by Lieutenant Governor William Stoughton, Chief Justice of the Salem Witch Trials. He grinned and leered at Hailey and her friends.
“Tomorrow will be a great day,” he said. “Five witch hangings – this will set an excellent example.”
As Hailey backed away from the guards, she bumped into Rhoda. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “This is my fault.”
“Now’s not the time for sorry,” Rhoda whispered back. “Now is time for one of your ridiculous ideas. Got any?”
“I have one, but I don’t think it’s ridiculous enough for you.”
“I’ll just have to be disappointed,” Rhoda said.
“Hey kid!” Hailey yelled. “If you want to help, the best thing you can do right now is surrender.”
Tenacious sighed loudly and dramatically as he stepped out of the time machine and held up his hand. He looked Stoughton in the eye and smiled. “You’ll have to answer to my mother,” he said.
Stoughton smiled maliciously. “I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
Hailey whispered to Rhoda, “And I’m looking forward to seeing why everyone is afraid of Constance.”