This was the first WritingPrompts I had done in 2019 on Reddit. I definitely fell in line, hook and sinker for the plot; write a story about being polite to the dragon, rather than defeating it for the goal. I decided to use an idea I ad from something I was writing in 2009, with a sort of OC based on me and a girl called Jennifer (whom you might’ve seen art for here in the past), going together through various settings like time travelers. I used the Reddit prompt to formulate a sort of “intro” story to that idea, which I’ll be springboarding off with in the future.
This is the second part of a two-part post, which the first part was posted a few weeks ago.
This version is also slightly edited, as I didn’t like how rough the first part was written on-demand when posting. This was done as my on-the-fly typing for the prompt had plot holes, and things wouldn’t match up from the edits I did for the first entry.
Done in April 21, 2019.
Note: My writing for Reddit writing prompts is different for brevity. While this is a good example of my writing, I often omit backstory and several details to create a concise post. Please look at my other works if you’re looking for my more regular style of writing.
For me loving Queens, I had no idea this cafe existed. It was closer to the residential block near Merrick, and was strangely upkept in comparison to the older and rundown establishments on the same block. Why it wasn’t covered in graffiti or looked like it was a cheap knock-off smartphone shop was beyond me. It was set apart from the others, its clean red brick exterior clashing with the violet and gray painted shops around.
I was in street clothes, though I still sported the flight jacket. I didn’t want NYPD busting me for toting around space-age weaponry or looking like something out of a comic book. It felt odd walking around the street like this; while I wanted to live here before I got all mixed up in this multiverse stuff, it was something I never bothered to consider or pursue. As much as a more remote lifestyle suited someone of my occupation, I was always a city person at heart.
I double-checked the info that was given me, on the back of a Chinese take-out receipt that was handed to me last night. This was the place I was supposed to be, apparently. So much for anonymous tips.
Bells jingled as I pushed the cafe door open, greeted by soft lounge jazz and a wooden interior, classic red brick walls in the classic New York style. The place was in pristine shape, looking much like an Irish pub that had collided with Starbucks. Few people were about, with just a handful of patrons at the tables.
An old guy dressed up to the nines with a waistcoat and a bowtie greeted me. I could tell he was from New Jersey, being a bit heavyset and a little shorter than me.
“Window see good for ya?”
“Sure, that’ll do fine.”
I got plopped on a small booth only one seat big, underneath a nice black can light. The night streets of Queens didn’t seem that menacing anymore, as if I was in some alien biome looking out into another dimension, quite literally.
There should be no way a place like this is in Quee-
“What would you like?”
My line of thought was interrupted, looking up at my waiter.
“I’ll try that pecan caramel brûlée coffee, along with the blueberry scone. I think that’s it.”
“Good choices. I’ll be out with your order in a second.”
He walked off, leaving me to my own thoughts.
My eyes wandered to artwork on the wall. A few were a few shots of some of the bridges, with a real nice one of the Brooklyn bridge at night. But at the end of the wall, there was a big ten by four spread of canvas. On it was an ornate Chinese dragon, painted in flats as a giant print. It looked almost exactly like the one I had encountered.
At this point I figured this was definitely not a coincidence anymore.
Before I could figure out my next course of action or determine if it was a trap, my waiter came back.
“Here you go, enjoy.”
He carefully put my drink and dessert out on the table, standing back.
“Thanks,” I looked at him a bit closer than usual. I couldn’t determine if there was anything suspicious about him, or if I had seen him in passing.
With a small bow he was off.
People from New Jersey didn’t bow as far as I know. I took note at that and turned my attention to my food.
I took a whiff of the coffee. It smelled right at least. I hoped it didn’t decided to drug or poison me. Staring into the cup I took a small sip.
There was a soft flop within arm’s reach of me.
“So, you’re more not what I expected. I never met a Tomcat pilot before.”
I almost spat out my drink. A redhead woman had slumped into the opposite seat, leaning forward over the table and resting a hand against her cheek.
I put the cup down, trying to decide if this woman walked up or appeared out of thin air.
“Aye, such a shame they sent ‘em to the scrap yards because of a botched political deal. You’d think the blummin’ Tornado would stand toe to toe with it, but that’s not the case.”
Well, she was definitely Irish; or Scottish, I couldn’t quite tell. It was definitely someone from the other end of the globe, much to my pleasant surprise. And knowing the Tomcat’s service history? A possible plus.
I eyed the spectacle of a girl before me. She was definitely out of place; looking somewhat from a century ago, but having a modern touch to tailoring. Her big but simple skirts spilled off the seat, blouse unbuttoned to reveal a cleavage mark and a bit of corset. Flour was smudged on her cheek, this pleasant gaze in her eyes as her dark red locks spilled down her shoulders, half tied into a ponytail.
“How does someone like you know about fighter jets?”
The girl scoffed, eyebrows furrowing in insult.
“Why shouldn’t I?! I’m a smart lass like any other! Is there something that makes you think I don’t?”
I glanced down at her.
“Well, the attire didn’t give me that idea. Unless it’s like one of those Doctor Who TV show things.”
An amusing pout formed on her lips.
“You’re a bit too observant for your own good, I see.”
“Being observant saves my bacon.”
I decided to take a swig of my drink again. She coyly started to reach for my scone.
“So, do I get a name before you start devouring my food? It’s common courtesy, you know.”
“Katie if you must know. Yourself?”
So she was an Irish lass, I see.
“Well, aren’t you the two-faced character.”
“Yeah, well I’m to the point.”
She knew what my name meant; very interesting. Somehow, I doubted her being the one that orchestrated this meeting. It was very possible that someone set it up from her, but the way she carried on reminded me of someone on a first date that did some homework. It was time to pry about that.
“So, tell me, Miss Katie. What did you want to meet me for, now that introductions are out of the way?”
The woman looked thoughtful for a moment, her head making this small turn to convey this.
“I wouldn’t be the one that wants something from you. That would be my benefactor; she’s knows you in a way, and sent me to talk to ya.”
Just as a thought, a set up of some sort. I did a sweep of the cafe to see if there was anybody I needed to be aware of. Fortunately I didn’t see anyone suspicious…yet.
“Do you want to talk business, or does she need something taken care of?”
Katie chuckled, taking her finger and spinning a paper napkin around on the table.
“Oh, I wouldn’t quite say it’s business. Maybe a partnership if you want to call it that.”
“That’s a pretty bold statement for someone I’ve not met before. How does she know me? Why not talk to me directly?”
The redhead blushed some, looking at me in a soft and rather non-business way.
“Because part of her arrangement is for me to your partner, maybe more.”
I blinked, really not sure how to take that. She continued.
“Weren’t you in some Asiatic land a week ago, matching wits with a dragon to save a princess? And weren’t you hoping to take the lass with you? Make her your partner, girlfriend, what have you? Tag her along in your plane wherever you went, and through whatever adventure you went through?”
The words stung for a moment, as it was the truth. She was right, down to a T. I nodded.
“I suppose so, yeah.”
“All right then. You can regard the same of me if you like. That’s basically what I’m proposing to you. I know you’re probably suspicious and rightly so; but don’t discount me because I might not look the part, but I can help you a lot more.
I hung naked in a liquid tank for days, with wires glued to my forehead. I was pumped information that would’ve taken me a decade to learn, all in four days. Physics, history, aeronautics, a smattering of stuff in-between.
So I may not seem like a polished lass, or wear trendy clothes and look classy. But I have a near lifetime’s worth of information in my head, to match up and complement what you’ve been through. I might’ve come from some quiet Irish town a whole era ago, but can use laser guns and know what an apogee motor is. Heck, I can tell you even when the Galileo Satellite Station was built.
Now, do you think she could do any of that right off the bat?”
Katie crossed her arms across her chest, leaning back into the seat with her lips in a half-smug smile.
I took another sip of the coffee, pushing it aside a little as I focused my attention.
“Is it cynical of me to say that it sounds too good to be true?”
She scoffed, the smile turning into a pout.
“I know you have questions, lots of them. But you have to stop looking a gift horse in the mouth.”
“I want to make sure the gift horse doesn’t shoot me in the back in the head when I turn around.”
“You’ve not had a lot of goodwill with people, have you?”
“No, not really.”
My eyes wandered back to the up. Her voice had flared up temporarily, the accent more prevalent than ever. She sighed in resignation, looking back at the now-claimed scone.
“Okay, answer this above anything else. What’s in it for you? I find it suspicious that someone so “compatible” willingly wants to tag along, much less have interest in me.”
This did hit a nerve. Her face went blank for a moment, voice taking on a different tone.
“I don’t have any life anymore. You could say my benefactor gave me a new lease on life, so to speak. I wasn’t supposed to be alive another day if she didn’t intervene; but that could only happen if I left everything I knew behind pretty much. Parents, friends, most of my memories. So you could say I don’t know any better, and don’t know what to do with myself in this new world.”
She resumed her posture upon first arriving, in an attempt to start over.
“You can see we have the same fate in a way. We have forgotten lives, nobodies thrust into great responsibility, and our empty lives like a derelict shed.”
At that point I figured she sounded honest to some degree, if not more. She didn’t feel off, at least as far as I could tell. I leaned forward just a little, carefully judging my gut and what I saw for anything off. My curiosity was piqued.
She broke the scone in half, bringing it to her mouth.
I glanced back towards the wall, getting a small jolt as I realized the dragon print was missing. The entire art piece was removed, in fact. In its place was a lineup of some folks in front of an old establishment from New York somewhere.
Reflecting on the dragon’s words that I last heard, I was pretty sure he had a hand in this setup. I should be thankful, I suppose. He at least provided me with a new face to talk to rather than leaving me dry.
I guess being polite did pay off.