When she was younger, Sammy’s mum had told her never to get into a stranger’s car, so ordinarily she wouldn’t have got into a stranger’s giant egg – or pair of eggs – on top of a dinosaur, but she figured it would be much safer travelling with Mehrak than staying out in the mushroom forest. As odd as he was, he was nowhere near as scary as that figure in black had been. And the egg house on Louis’s back did look pretty awesome. She should at least see inside, check it out. Why couldn’t her house in Sheffield be on the back of a dinosaur? Everyone would notice her rocking up at school on the back of a T-Rex. The only thing missing was a couple of laser cannons on either side. If Mehrak got those installed, his house would be perfect.
“Are you hungry?” Mehrak asked. “Can I prepare you some food?”
“I am hungry, I suppose.” Sammy smiled, or rather tried to. Getting a lift out of the forest was probably the right thing to do, but it felt wrong. What if her mum or Esther turned up looking for her?
“Don’t be upset,” Mehrak said. “You’re going to be okay now.” He smiled. “I’ll show you round the cottage then rustle up some soup. It’ll be nice to have some company.”
Louis turned to Mehrak and his ears flapped, rotated and held three or four different poses. Then he crouched down to lie on his stomach.
“What did he say?” Sammy asked.
“That he’s taking a nap. He’s been walking all day and he’s tired. Come on, we’ll go inside.”
Sammy followed Mehrak around the side of Louis and Golden Egg Cottage. The mushroom light reflecting off the caravan made Mehrak appear sickly and yellow.
“How do you know what he’s saying?” Sammy asked.
Mehrak stopped at the back of the main egg. There was a small, circular brass door, like a submarine escape hatch, at the bottom. Sammy watched Louis’s tail sweep from side to side along the ground. It was as thick as a two-person canoe, and several times the length of her mum’s hatchback. It almost didn’t look real, like one of those giant anacondas on a late night, made-for-TV, sci-fi movie.
“You really haven’t heard of a giant gastrosaur before, have you?” Mehrak said.
“No. I really haven’t.”
“Gastrosaur voices are too high-pitched for us to hear, so they communicate with their ears. Their voices are used for navigation because they don’t have eyes. Echo location, they call it. It allows them to build a mental three-dimensional image of their surroundings.”