NINE

Page 25

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Esther had told her not to mess with the Midnight Emerald Dial by herself. But she had and now she’d been transported to another world. This place definitely wasn’t the Garden of Eden Esther had spoken of. It had to be somewhere else. She hoped Esther would be able to figure out how to get her back. What if there were hundreds of combinations on the dial? Her chest constricted. She had to calm herself. Getting upset wouldn’t help. Be positive like Mum. Mum… She really needed one of Mama’s pep talks right now. Keep positive, keep smiling. Sammy sniffed and wiped a tear from her cheek. Time to move on. She’d lost the creature but it would be looking for her. It might even be in the area. She was like Arnie against the Predator. He hadn’t given up. He’d fought and triumphed and managed to ‘get to the choppa.’ But Sammy’s nervous energy had gone and in its place was an all-encompassing weariness. She lay back on the boulder. She’d get going in a bit. She just needed to close her eyes for a minute.

She sat up with a start, bleary eyed and groggy. Something was coming! A faint thudding, getting louder. She got up, her legs stiff. She wasn’t moving quick enough and now the thuds were vibrating the rock underneath her, large ripples bouncing back and forth across the surface of the flowing water between the boulders. She hobbled down, sloshed through the water and stumbled up towards the forest, head reeling. She needed to hide, a bush, something. But she wouldn’t make mushroom cover in time.

She turned to see two towering mushrooms on the far side of the stream bend then snap at their bases as a dinosaur-chicken with a shell on its back, shouldered its way between them. The mushrooms splintered as they hit the ground, firing spongy chunks of fungus into the air. The dinosaur kept coming, blasting water from the stream with its feet as it crossed.

Sammy tripped and fell. She scrabbled backwards on all fours.

And the creature stopped. Sammy lay where she was, staring up, her chest heaving. A real-life dinosaur. That was the only thought in her head. One that looked nothing like the ones she’d seen in movies or killed in video games. It had no eyes, just a bulging forehead like a dolphin’s and two leaf-shaped ears the size of car bonnets on either side of its head. Its skin was covered in tan mottled scales, but on its cheeks and down the length of its flank it had white fur-like feathers that transitioned to red and blue around its thighs. The dinosaur stood horizontal, like a T-Rex, with small, feathered arms at the front and big, muscular legs that it used to carry a golden shell, the size of a terraced house, on its back. The shell was egg-shaped with a pointed apex and had another, smaller, golden egg two-thirds the size of the first joined halfway up its side.

And the creature wasn’t attacking her.

 

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