It took a second or two to adjust to the bright light emanating in front of the group but soon the three looked in wonder at what they where seeing.
What they saw was something nobody in the future could have seen a long time.
Right in front of them was a vast perfectly preserved Jurassic jungle. The very site of it made the groups eyes go wide with excitement.
In the distance they saw brachiosaurs and a herd of iguanodons in a meadow. With them were triceratops and stegosaur-like dinosaurs with pointed plates that looked like spikes.
In the skies were flying pterodactyls that swooped and cawed under the ice ceiling that was supported by rocky pillars that stood as high as skyscrapers. And it looked like there were several more in the distance in the vast underground world.
There were waterfalls and forests full of cycads that were similar to the appearance of ferns and palm trees, which were common in the Jurassic period.
The light coming down on the jungle was caused by the sun that shone through the thick layers of ice up above. In other words, it was as bright as daylight. It was also very warm. Like a mild rainforest.
“This is unbelievable,” Said Ken in awe. “My god! We’ve discovered the secret world beneath the ice!”
“And not a moment too soon,’ said Shelly.
Josiah stood at edge of the ridge and spread his arms out wide. He then let out a yell of victory that echoed around the rock outcropping.
At first, Shelly and Ken could not understand Josiah’s sudden outburst but knew instantly that this was how he expressed himself.
He calmed down and turned to his friends and saw the look of bewilderment on their faces. He chuckled a bit, embarrassed.
“Sorry about that, guys,” he apologized smiling. “I got caught in the moment.”
“That’s okay, clover,” Shelly said nonchalantly. “I’d yell like that to if I was that excited.”
Ken rolled his eyes and snorted.
They followed a trail into the dense jungle foliage. There were no insects or pests in the jungle flying in their faces and the jungle sounds seemed to be everywhere around them. In the distance they heard the trumpeting of dinosaurs. They soon stepped out of the dense foliage into a lush field filled with brightly colored tropical plants.
Ken stopped to catch his breath. ‘Hold on, guys,” he called.
“What now?” Shelly asked, irritably to her brother.
Ken looked around. “I’ve got a funny feeling we’re being watched.”
“When don’t you have a funny feeling!?” Shelly declared frustrated. “I don’t sense anyone or anything watching us!”
Suddenly, the earth under their feet rumbled.
‘Oh-no,’ Josiah thought, watching a pack of compsognathus scattered into the brush.
Ken clung to Josiah’s shirt as the ground continued to tremble.
“It’s okay, guys” Josiah tried to keep his team together. “It’s probably nothing to worry about.”
The kids looked around anxiously.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
A long shadow unrolled along the clearing. The kids looked up and felt their jaws drop open in fright. Towering over them was an enormous tyrannosaurs rex! The dinosaur looked to be about 20 feet tall and 41 feet long from snout to tail. It had four ridged bony plates along its muzzle. Along its head, neck and above its eyes were 10 short black spikes. Its talons and claws were black-brown and its scales were burnt-orange with a cream underbelly
But it was the golden eyes that caught Josiah’s attention. They where alert and scanning the clearing for prey.
Josiah heard Ken gasp in fear from behind him.
“Don’t move,” Josiah whispered. “A rex tracks motion. It won’t see us if we don’t move.”
Josiah, Ken, and Shelly stood perfectly still as the rex moved its head from side to side. The gigantic predator sniffed the air and growled low in its throat. Josiah knew that a rex could pick up a scent from miles away. He had read the books about dinosaurs. The three of them smelled of soap, deodorant, and human sweat.
Theses were alien scents in its environment. It didn’t understand the bizarre smells in the clearing. So long as no one moved-
The rex sniffed the air. Then it let out another huge bellowing roar that echoed through the clearing.
Ken had heard enough. He turned and ran into the jungle.
That was something the rex saw. The predator swiveled its head in their direction. The golden eyes blazed.
The rex roared. Then it stomped towards the humans with earth-shaking footfalls.
Josiah and Shelly turned and ran after Ken, with the rex right on their heels.
They darted between the heavy trees, back down the path they had come. The rex squeezed through the spaces behind them. Smashing branches and growling in rage and aggravation, the predator was slowed in its pursuit of its prey.
Slowed, but not stopped.
Josiah and his group leap over low-lying branches, darted around muddy potholes in the earth, and headed straight for higher ground. Behind them, the rex was gaining on them with every step.
Ahead, Shelly and Ken were breaking through the cluster of heavy trees. But they suddenly stopped. Breathing hard, Josiah joined them, wondering why they had come to a stop.
Then he saw why.
A sheer cliff was blocking them from escape. They were trapped like rats in an ally. There was no place for them to run now.
They turned back and saw the tyrannosaur stomping toward them. It stopped a few feet in front of them and growled down at the three showing its razor sharp teeth.
Josiah stood protectively in front of Shelly and Ken. If the rex wanted to eat them, it would have to go through him to do it.
He turned to Shelly and Ken and whispered to them. “I want you guys to run when I say ‘run’, you understand me?”
They both looked at each other then at Josiah. They nodded.
Josiah turned back to the rex and glared at it.
The rex growled, advancing towards them.
Josiah growled back. “If you even try to eat my friends, I swear you are going to get it!”
It came closer, snapping its jaws. But just before the rex reached them, Josiah stepped between the rex and his friends. He took out his stun pistol and pointed it at the rex’s face. The rex looked at the pistol in surprise then at Josiah. Then, to Josiah’s bewilderment, it stepped back. Josiah grinned. He felt like dirty Harry. “You’re smart tyrannosaur. You may not know what this thing is in my hands, but you know its dangerous to you.” He turned to Shelly and Ken. “Run!”
They didn’t need to be told twice. They took off running in one direction up the cliffs paths. As soon as they were out of site, Josiah tuned to the rex and fired his pistol. A blue bolt of electricity shot out and struck the rex right in the shoulder.
The animal bellowed in pain and stumbled backward. Using this as a distraction, Josiah turned and ran to join the others. When he caught up with them, they were standing in the path waiting for him. “Come on!” Josiah yelled. He led the two through the underbrush as the tyrannosaur bellowed again.
After reaching a safe-looking spot, Josiah stopped. Grabbing the front of Ken’s shirt, Josiah slammed him against a tree.
“Why did you run?!” Josiah demand furiously. “When I tell you to don’t move, you don’t move! You almost got us killed!”
Shelly took a step forward, but Josiah held her back with a look.
He was tired of Ken and his complaining about time travel. He wanted the kid to just give it a rest.
Ken didn’t say anything. He kept his eyes averted from Josiah’s.
With a hurt in his voice, Ken said. “I didn’t want to die,” he choked. “I knew what I did was stupid. I know that. I just want to tell you that I’m sorry.”
Josiah shook his head, disgusted.
“I ran because I was afraid,” Ken implored.
“Some of the worst things are done out of a fear, man,” Josiah said. “You rushed off with no thought of the consequences, to yourself, me, or Shelly.”
Shelly stared speechlessly, stung by the force of Josiah’s anger.
“You shouldn’t have come here, Ken. You should have stayed at home in the future.” Concluded Josiah. Then he let go of Ken and turned away, leaving him to consider his words.
As they continued to walk, Ken lagged behind still feeling the guilt from Josiah’s words. He felt sick. Sick from being worthless on the team. He had let Josiah and Shelly down and worse he had put the team in danger with his lost nerves. He shook is head to get rid of his fear. ‘You’re afraid.’ He thought. ‘Very, very afraid.’
And it was at that moment that he was overcome with self shame.
All his life he’d been afraid and lonely and that he would never be like his sister. She was fearless when it came to facing danger and never hesitated to tell their mother or father about it. He wished he was more like Shelly, too. She acted more like a fearless tomboy with that short light-brown hair kept down with that green bandanna. Her three freckles on each side of her face. And that good humored smile she shone around that got plenty of laughs.
He had none of her looks. Short blond hair and brown eyes were common in school. They were the only things he had from his fathers’ side of the family. He was even shorter then Shelly, by a foot. He was neat and tidy all the time at home and a good swimmer at the y.m.c.a. during the summer. All these things he was, except for being brave.
‘If only I can be brave like them’ he thought to himself. ‘I Guess I’ll never be like them’
He rejoined the two up the path but kept his distance from Josiah.
That anger towards him was unforgettable. But Josiah was right. He probably shouldn’t have come. But, it was too late to go back to the future now. He was here, the watch needed recharging, and he didn’t want go back up to the surface alone. He’d might as well stay with his sister and Josiah.
Hours later, the small group arrived at a jungle clearing. Josiah did a quick scan of the area and found no hostiles within the perimeter.
“We’ll rest here for the night,” Josiah to the two while taking off his pack. “Let’s get our tents setup.”
The tents were setup within five minutes, just as darkness enveloped the underground world. The moon shone a brilliant bluish shade in the darkness of the primeval world. In the distance Josiah saw a bit of a red glow that radiated in a vast field.
‘Those must be lava fields,’ he thought while rubbing his goatee.
‘Best to stay away from those until we know the layout of the land down here a little better’
A bonfire was lit for warmth and the group sat around the warm embers as they danced and flickered in the steady night.
By 11:05, the group went into their individual tents for the night and slept.
All but Ken. He was still wide awake, but eating some of the cookies he’d packed in his bag. After he was full, he turned off his battery powered lamp and stretched himself on his sleeping bag and went to sleep.
The tent flap was open because he was a bit humid and didn’t want to get too hot. This was also why he wore his blue rubber swimming Speedos to bed along with a gray t-shirt.
Unknown to the newcomers, a pair of golden eyes were watching them from the trees. Those eyes belonged to momma dino the tyrannosaurus rex.
Below her were her hatchlings, Shelly, Egbert, and Yoko. They too were watching the newcomers. Not with fear, but with curiosity and wonder. They had never seen creatures like these before and they were egger to know more about them.
But their mother had told them not to go anywhere near them.
When she had retuned to lava falls, she had a burn on her shoulder from something they couldn’t identify. Whatever it was, it made her made. The burn had gone away but the image of that creature holding that weapon stayed in her mind for the rest of the day.
Momma didn’t like the look of those creatures. Not one bit. The smell that came from them was alien and unknown to her.
She didn’t know where they came from or how they got down here to her home world, but she was going teach them a lesson not to mess with her or her babies.