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The Dragon's Greatest Treasure

by Edd Vick

The dragon caught up to Prince Ibis at the Wal*Mart store on the north side of town. The prince was buying toilet paper, aspirin, and hypoallergenic pillows for his castle three dimensions over. Peeling up the roof, the dragon quickly scanned the crowded store and singled out the prince, the only one not screaming or running.

"There you are," rumbled the dragon. "Return my treasure or die. No. Wait. Return my treasure and die."

"That doesn't leave me much choice," said the prince, wishing his dimension skipper wasn't outside in his Volvo.

The dragon squeezed through the minivan-sized hole in the roof. "Fine," he said. "It's fine with me if you want to do this the hard way."

"I don't want to do this at all." Prince Ibis rolled under a table of blue jeans as the dragon took a quick breath and puffed a ball of flame that set the entire section of DVDs ablaze.

I forgot what a horrendous aim he has, thought the prince. I wonder if he needs glasses.

The dragon glided down to a tall display showcasing baby strollers, which proved not to be as stable as his preferred mountain ledges. The shelving unit rocked, scattering strollers, then fell into the shoe racks. Slippers, moccasins, sneakers, and loafers flew in all directions.

While the dragon recovered, Prince Ibis jumped out of his nook and ran for the front of the store. He'd barely taken four steps before stumbling over an errant stroller that carried him into a display of two-liter Coca-Colas.

And there was the dragon, on him. Before he could move, one leathery wing knocked him down to be pinned by a heavy forepaw.

"Your treasure," the prince gasped. "I can take you to her."

The weight lessened slightly. "The princess?" said the dragon. "The princess with the golden hair?"

"Of course," he said. "She's here, waiting just outside." He gestured toward the exit.

The dragon picked him up and undulated on three legs to the doors. A crowd of people watched, and beyond them the prince saw approaching police cars. He didn't fancy being in the middle during a fight between bullets and balefire.

Then he saw it. "There she is," he yelled, pointing toward the women's clothing section. "There!"

The dragon turned and saw the mannequin. The blonde mannequin. Pouncing, he caught it up in his other forepaw. "At last, my beautiful princess," he crooned. His grip on the prince loosened.

Ibis wriggled, then dropped to the floor. He scooted to one side, then froze next to a pair of male mannequins sporting cableknit sweaters.

"Where did you go," asked the dragon. "I promised to kill you, you know."

The glass in the front of the store caved in under two dozen rifle butts. "Hold it right there," said an amplified voice.

"Oh bother," said the dragon.

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