Johnny stared glumly out the window of the small box in which he and Tracy were encapsulated. Just outside were other boxes containing people, most with the same bored expression that hung on Johnny’s face. Each box had a large metal hook arm that sprouted from the top and clung tightly to a long cable suspended a few hundred feet in the air. The cable was stretched across the entire park and each box slowly traversed the length of the cable, carting along it’s passengers.
“This isn’t what I expected when I heard they had ‘Flying Cars’,” sighed Johnny.
“Oh, c’mon,” said Tracy. “It’s not so bad.”
Turning to her he said, “And that ‘Matter Transporter’ was nothing more than a conveyer belt. Talk about false advertising!”
“What did you expect from a theme park called ‘Future World’?” she asked. “Not actual future tech, surely?”
“Well…” said Johnny as they stepped off the ride and headed for the park exit.
Spying a small booth near the exit gates, Johnny noticed that it seemed rather beat up and didn’t follow the same color scheme as the rest of the park. Despite his disappointment, curiosity got the best of him and Johnny felt himself drawn in. As he approached, he saw a short, white-haired man behind the counter. The fellow had a pair of large goggles strapped over his eyes and he appeared to be fussing with what looked like a small, electronic Howitzer.
“Whatcha got there, old timer?” Johnny asked.
“What? Oh!” said the man, looking up and noticing he had guests. “Right, uh… So what I have here is a transmogrifier. It can change any living being into another type of creature.”
“Oh really?” inquired Johnny. He winked at Tracy.
“Could you turn me into a dragon?” he asked.
“Certainly!” said the old man, his eyes lighting up. “You’d really want to give this a try? No one ever seems to want to volunteer.”
“Why not?” asked Johnny with a grin. “This whole park has been a sham. I’d love to see if anyone has anything really amazing.”
“Oh, I assure you, young man. This is quite real and quite effective. You certainly won’t be disappointed.”
“Hey uh… maybe you shouldn’t,” said Tracy, grabbing her boyfriend’s arm. She regarded the old man with a furrowed brow.
“Oh why not?” asked Johnny, feeling his excitement return.
“It could be… dangerous,” said Tracy, whispering the last word into his ear.
“In this place?” asked Johnny, waving his arms about. “Yeah, I don’t think so.”
“I’ll need you to stand right over there,” said the old man, pointing to a platform with a conspicuous bullseye painted on it.
As Johnny placed himself in the center ring on the platform, the old man began flipping switches and turning dials on the big gun-shaped device.
“Dragon… dragon…” muttered the old man. “Ah, yes, I think this is it!”
Johnny grinned and waved to Tracy, who stood nearby wringing her hands.
“Johnny, I really don’t think this is a good idea,” she pleaded one last time.
“Stand perfectly still,” instructed the old man, aiming directly at Johnny’s chest.
A humming emitted from the device. It grew louder and lights began to dance around some of the circuitry. The humming increased in volume and other park visitors began to take notice. A small crowd formed behind Tracy.
She opened her mouth to utter another warning but before she could speak a word, a brilliant beam of light shot out of the tip of the gun and hit Johnny, bathing him in a glowing blue radiance. The light was so intense, Tracy threw up her hands in front of her eyes to shield them.
The humming stopped. Tracy slowly lowered her hands, but it took a moment for her eyes to adjust. Behind her, she heard a collective gasp from the crowd. In front of her she heard the old man cackling.
“It worked, it worked!”
Tracy turned to the platform, not really expecting to see a dragon standing there, but still wondering what was causing the commotion.
She squinted her eyes. Johnny was gone!
“Where is he?” she screamed. “Where did he go?”
“Oh fudge!” replied the old man, turning back to his machine.
“What did you do with my boyfriend?” Tracy yelled at the old man.
As she approached the counter, stomach in knots, there came a loud buzzing around her face. She swatted with her hand and saw a large winged insect hovering in front of her. It then landed on the counter between her and the white-haired man.
The old man regarded the insect and shook his head.
“Oh dear, it seems I had the wrong setting on the transmogrifier. It wasn’t set to dragon after all. Looks like it was ‘dragonfly’. Such a shame. I would have loved to have seen a real dragon.”
Tracy stared at the long-tailed insect before her.
“That’s Johnny?” she squawked.
“I told you that my machine was real,” shrugged the old man.
The dragonfly took wing and buzzed around Tracy for a moment before flying off into the sky. As she watched her boyfriend disappear, she realized he finally got the future tech he had been searching for.
[This was my first story for Sunday Photo Fiction, but since I went way over the word limit, I’m not offering it in the challenge, but still publishing it here because I rather like how this story turned out.]