Friday, March 25, 2016

Flash Fiction #191 --Escaping Somewhere Else, Part 26: Crazy

So there I stood, out in the middle of an open glade, daring a ravenous, annoyed dinosaur to step into the ring and have a go at me.
Birds sang around the water, dipping down and grabbing insects, but quite a few still came at me.  I slapped them away and snarled, waiting for the next step in this crazy journey.  How had I gotten into this mess?  Oh, I knew the basics.  But still. . . .
This was insane.  I was so ready to be done with this entire Alice down the Rabbit Hole stuff. 
There was that moment when I thought about how I'd gotten here -- from killing Tommy Creston (who had, literally, become a monster) to running for the border to Elsewhere where I met up with Maggie, a cousin who had crossed the border long before me.  Of course, at least now I knew my father was a High Elf and not Japanese, like my mother had always said.  Now I was a sanctioned protector, too -- and that did mean something to me.  I even had a little magic, which hadn't helped much yet, ut I had hope for it in the future.
Providing I survived.
Maggie had told me to come to Elsewhere.   Maybe I should have blamed her for all this insanity.  After all, she's the one who introduced me to Edmond, a small black talking cat.
Yeah.  Edmond the talking cat was the reason I was standing here looking at the creature that prowled around the far edge of the opening.  He wasn't as big as Job, the friendly dino.  The herbivore dino.   But you know, size is relative, though.  He might not have been as large as a house, like Job.   Garage sized, maybe.
I saw his yellow eyes staring out of the darker shadows.  The dino moved, shifting left and right.  His head was on a longish neck, though not some long as Job's neck.  I saw the flash of teeth and I could tell they were sharp, even though he hadn't come out into the open.
Canny.  Wise enough to study the situation rather than race in for me. That was unfortunate, but not unexpected.  It's just that sometimes you'd like something to go the easy way.
"So, do you talk, too?"
"Not with dinner."
That told me two things I really didn't want to hear.  First, of course, was that he had every intention of having me for a nice light meal.  The second, the one that bothered me more at the moment, was that he was a thinking animal.  Job hadn't been certain.  It's harder to trick a thinking creature than it is to lead something driven by instincts.
The ground shifted slightly beneath me.  I looked to the right and saw another huge snake moving along with a soft undulating whip of his body.  Another one followed and then one to the left of me as well.  Did the snakes talk, too?  I didn't stop to try and have a conversation with them.
This was Edmond's plan, me standing out here all alone.  No, I'm not certain why I agreed to it.  Maybe it even made some sense when he told it to me, but actually standing here --
The Garage Dino stepped out into the light.  Yeah, he was far larger than I could fight.  I brought up my hands, though, and even managed to call some fitful magic to my fingers.  It wasn't easy.  Magic and I were only newly acquainted.
"You think you can take me down with that?" he said with a contemptuous toss of his head.
Great. Dinosaur with attitude.  Probably should have featured him in Jerk Ass Park.
"I know that's a swamp," he said.  He stood on four legs and his tail twitched.  Why did I think I had met the ancestor of all cats?  But they had to be mammals, right?  Well, maybe they borrowed the attitude.  "I'm not going to step out there and dragged down to my doom.  So I guess I just walk around until I find the spot you used to get out to the stone.
I watched him for a moment.  He moved carefully along the edges.  He'd find the solid part without much trouble.  I wanted out of here as quickly as possible, so I took a step that way.  Garage Dino bounded that way with a sneer -- dinos can sneer really well, it turns out -- and took two leaps along the solid path.
On the third leap he sunk hip deep into the muck.  The snakes were already turning his way.
"What --" He looked at me with absolute shock.
"Move slowly backwards and you should get free.  I don't think the snakes will be much of a match for you."
"How --" He flailed for a bit, looking panicked.  "You can't  have --"
"Calm down and move slowly," he said again.  "And I didn't walk across.  Job?"
The other dinosaur ambled over from the other side of this patch of swamp.    Edmond sat on his head -- yeah, highest spot -- and they both grinned.  Job leaned down like a giant, living crane.  I climbed up on his neck.  He stepped back.
Garage Dino stared in shock, but at least he'd stopped flailing.
"You know, I've met smarter dogs, " Edmond said as he looked back.
"You shouldn't insult an enemy when they're defeated, Edmond," I said.
"What?  Am I supposed to insult them before they're defeated?  What kind of idiocy is that?  It's a wonder humans ever survived."
I started to say something, but you know -- he kind of had a point.
"Move slowly.  You'll get free.  Don't try to come after us again."
So we walked away. 
To Be Continued. . . .

Friday, March 18, 2016

Flash Fiction #190 --Escaping Somewhere Else, Part 25: Job

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!"
"Ready, Edmond?"
"What?" Job and I chorused.
"No.  I think we can take him."
"Edmond --"
"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. . . .

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