Walking away from a very angry predator dinosaur and thinking you're going to survive it -- no, not that easy. I kept looking over my shoulder as I rode at the base of Job's neck. Edmond, draped across my shoulders, looked back as well.
"It worked," he finally said.
"Yeah," I agreed and didn't mention that I'd been insane to listen to him. "Can you hear him?"
"I think he's still stuck in the muck there. I suppose you're worried that he won't get out."
"Yes," I said. "But I'm more worried that he will and come after us too soon."
"Sanity at last," Edmond said. "But so far we're fine. I heard him munching on some snakes."
"Yeah, well -- better them than us. And if the snakes aren't smart enough to get clear of the guy, then it's not our fault. I'd like to get out of the jungle now, though. Nothing personal, Job, but I am just not a jungle animal."
"Yes," Job agreed. "Best to get you both out of here. But it has been nice to have someone sane to talk to. There aren't enough sane people passing through here."
"You think I'm sane," I said. "How did I give you that impression?"
Edmond was the one who laughed first.
We stopped later and took turns napping. Even Job was worn out. The area was clear -- and dry. We'd picked fruit along the way and Edmond went and found his own food. He made disparaging remarks about the plants we ate.
"Well, our food didn't bite us on the ear," I pointed out.
He flicked the wounded ear twice. "It's a sign of hunting ability."
"Carnivores are odd creatures," Job decided.
Edmond did not argue.
I laid back on the ground. Birds flew by in brightly colored flocks. Was that a pterodactyl flying higher above the trees? For a few minutes I watched the odd world around me. I had met -- and talked to -- dinosaurs. How cool was that? Well, as long as we continued to survive it!
Lately I'd been thinking that I wanted out of this madness. And I did -- but you know, I think I had to start thinking about how much I'd learned. I was calmer than I had expected to be. I was so calm, in fact, that I could finally feel the power of magic in me, which I had not noticed since it was awakened. This was the last place I would have expected to 'find myself' with such strangeness all around me -- but I think it worked.
I slept for a little while, then woke up and took over from Edmond. His ear was clearly bothering him now. I brushed my finger over the wound and wished for it to heal.
And it did.
"Wow!" Edmond said, startling even Job back awake! "You found your magic!"
"A touch of it," I agreed. "Sorry we woke you, Job."
"S'all right," he mumbled and dropped his head back to the ground and closed his eyes again.
Edmond climbed into my lap, turned around three times, and curled up purring. I'd done well.
But we were still in the jungle and it wasn't safe. I heard things moving in the trees and woke the other two. Job looked worried and we quietly made our way out of the lovely glade and into the shadowed area opposite of the way we'd arrived. I hoped whatever was out there hadn't actually been tracking us. I wanted a little bit more of calm. I even considered trying to use magic again to send them away, but that didn't seem wise.
The jungle came to a rather abrupt end. We stepped to the edge of a cliff and down below stretched a wide, golden beach on the edge of a shore. I looked out at the water and saw nothing at all but endless blue.
"Uh," Edmond said.
"Oh good! There is a boat!" Job said. "I feared one wouldn't be here. There's no telling when one might show up."
I looked down at the shore and saw a small rowboat sitting on the sand.
"Uh," Edmond said again.
"There's the path down to the beach," Job said. He had already started backing away. "It was really nice to meet you two. You're reasonable. Good luck."
He turned and moved -- a bit more quickly than I thought necessary -- back into the jungle. Edmond turned to watch and then looked back at me. "You know, I liked the big guy, but I get the feeling that he wasn't really telling us everything."
"You think?" I said.
So, we had a choice. Back into the jungle and all the way to the other end of it -- wherever that might be. Yeah, I knew where the bridge began, and I remembered looking down and seeing Bog Bob's place . . . But then there had been jungle and I hadn't really thought much about it.
"Oh hell," I said. I leaned against a tree.
"We've been going through doors, Edmond. We've been passing through to other dimensions without even realizing it and now I don't know where we are or where the others have gone. I don't know if we'll ever get back to Elsewhere, or if we can find my father --"
"Calm," Edmond said. "Calm down. We're still alive. We can figure this out. Do you think going back would help? Can we find the bridge again and then follow the others?"
I looked back the way we came but it still looked no better to me. "No," I said. "I don't think that's safe at all."
"Yeah." He turned and stared out at the ocean. "You know, the fact that the boat is down there makes me think there's more to this than it looks."
"So we go with it?"
"Well, we go look at the boat, at least."
So, yeah, the cat had the best idea again. We headed down to the shore.
To Be Continued. . . .