I started to stand. The dinosaur watched me, eyes blinking. I couldn't tell if he was brown and green or if that was only the shadows. He was huge and if we could get to some place with a lot of trees --
"You aren't going to run, are you?" he asked and sighed.
"I am considering it," I admitted.
He sighed again. "Well, at least you said something to me. The last one yelled 'Jerk Ass Park!' and took off running. I'm still not certain where he ended up."
"Jurasic Park," I corrected. "It was a movie."
"Ah. And what's a movie?"
Oh, this was going to be a long conversation. I needed to cut it shorter or I'd be spending months bringing the dinosaur up to speed. "Just something related to human culture. I'm afraid they've painted the dinosaurs as rather blood-thirsty sometimes."
"Some are." He lifted his head and looked around, higher than I could see. "But I'm an herbivore. Jobaria species. And no, real dinosaurs didn't talk back then but . . . Things are different here, you know."
"So what now?" I asked. I felt calm. And hell -- a dinosaur! That was kind of neat, as long as I believed it wasn't going to eat us. I got a look at some of the teeth. They did look rather blunt. No teethy-daggers to tear us apart.
"Now, since you didn't run, I can help you out!" He sounded pleased. Good.
A glance at Edmond showed he wasn't quite so assured. I suppose it paid to be cautious but right then I think I had gone numb. Talking dinosaur will help us. Right. Why not?
"What should I do?" I asked.
"Get farther away from the swamp," Jobaria said with a glance back the way Edmond and I had traveled. "It gets crazy here at night."
"There is night?" I asked. "The light just seems even all the time."
"Up on the bridge it was just light," I said. I stood carefully.
"It's a different place up there. Grab your companion there and let's go. Listen -- you can hear the snakes coming out."
I held still for a moment and could hear things in grass and leaves. I looked down and saw another huge snake winding his way towards the pond.
"Oh, no, no, no," Edmond said. He sounded panicked.
"Your companion does talk. Good. I like conversations with others. Come on, I'll give you both a ride." He moved closer and lowered his long neck. "Just sit there at my shoulders. You don't have to worry about the snakes while you're with me."
"If you're an herbivore --"
"Doesn't mean I don't have big feet. They've learned not to bother me."
"Let's go," Edmond said. He stood on his back legs so I could pick him up and then draped over my shoulders.
I didn't have much trouble climbing on the dinosaur. It turned out to be a good place to sit, too. Job asked me about our adventures and I gave him the rundown on what had happened.
"Wow. You've had quite a journey. Wish I could help you out more than I can, but I'll get you to the shore, at least."
"The water," he said. "There's usually a boat there. We'll see."
"I'm not the only human here?" I asked.
"A few wander in, along with a few other creatures now and then. Mostly they want to avoid the bridge."
"Is it dangerous?"
"Everything is dangerous. I think they don't like the idea of the unknown. I don't know where the bridge goes. It just sort of disappears, you know. Everything around here does. Oh, don't panic. It goes somewhere. People have come back and said so."
Worry had started. It eased back to a bit of a flutter instead of pounding fear. But hey, I was riding a dino. Life couldn't be all bad. And even Edmond seemed to have relaxed some. He walked back along Job's wide back and looked the way we had come and came back again.
"So," Edmond said as he settled in my lap. "Many other dinosaurs in this area?"
"A few. We try to stay out of each other's territory, you know. Be polite and all. I don't want to eat all my neighbor's berries. Though, to be honest, they do have some really nice bushes right at the edge of my land and I sometimes do nibble a bit. Grass is always greener, you know?"
"So you have an understanding, everyone in their own place," Edmond replied. He stood up with his paws on my shoulder and looked back again.
"Mostly, yeah. There are a few of the predators who -- did you hear something back there?" Job turned his huge neck until it had almost doubled back on his body. "Oh. Well."
"What is it?" I asked.
"Afrovenator. Nasty little beast," Job said. "And fast. I didn't expect him to show up. I think he must have scented you and your friend. I'd run -- but not a good place to go charging off. Muck and ponds and traps you don't see until too late. Maybe you two might want to climb up a big tree. There's one up a head. Get up high. They don't like to climb much. And if we're quick, he won't see you go. I can lead him somewhere else."
He started moving a little faster. I saw smaller creatures darting out of the way. Edmond still watched behind us and I suspected the high-pitched squeals I heard were the creature coming for us. Jerk Ass Park for sure.
"There's a good tree!" Job said. He was bouncing along now. "Grab it as we go by!"
"What?" Job and I chorused.
"No. I think we can take him."
"Trust me," Edmond said, looking into my face.
"We go with the cat's plan," I said.
Maybe I should have heard it first. . . .
To Be Continued. . . .