Not seeing the confusion, I said “Yeah? On the last world we were at.”
“But how did it go from night to day so fast? Did it happen when we traveled between worlds?”
“Okay, let me try to explain. It’s a different time of day because the placement of passages on this world has no correlation to the placement of passages on the last world, and that’s even if we assume all worlds follow the day/night cycle we’re familiar with.”
She frowned. “So . . . I get it that we’re in a different place, but now we’re in a different time too? Is that like time travel or more like jumping time zones?”
I hadn’t thought about the possibility of passage based time travel prior to her mentioning it. “Jumping time zones. We’re not in the same spot on this planet relative to its star as we were on the last one.”
Heather sighed. “Well, whatever time zone it is, I’m hungry. We should have packed a lunch.”
“They fed us back at the jail, you know.”
“You call that nasty stuff they gave us ‘food’? More like boiled frog tongues. Yuck.”
“Boiled frog tongues are delicious.”
“Let me guess; they’re a Renolian delicacy.” She rolled her eyes and looked around. “There’s gotta be something decent to eat around here. Aren’t there supposed to be bananas and fruit and stuff in rainforests? I’m of half a mind to go look for some.”
I sat down next to the nearest tree, leaned back against it, and said “Don’t let me stop you.”
“You’re just going to sit there? Fine, I’ll be back when I’ve found something. But don’t count on me sharing.” Heather walked away between the trees, pushing through foliage as she went. I thought she’d never leave. I needed to be alone with my thoughts.
First on my mind was my original self. If nothing else, it would be interesting to see how our differing environments have changed us. Nature vs. nurture, as it were. I wondered what he would think of me. Would he be proud that I had started an adventure without him, or maybe disappointed? Should I have even cared about his opinion? Am I less of a person because I am just the magical clone of a preexisting human? Is the original less of a person for no longer being unique?
There was no use being philosophical at a time like this, so I turned to the matter at hand. Specifically, the Crusher of Worlds. I momentarily mused about how it was a cool name for a villain, but quickly dismissed the thought and moved onto something more serious. I wondered how we were going to fight him. I couldn’t use magic, and to the best of my knowledge neither Heather nor I could fight.
One possibility burned in the back of my mind. I kept pushing it away, but it kept coming back. What if I taught Heather magic? It was a horrible idea. Giving her that kind of power would only encourage her dangerous “let’s have an adventure” kind of attitude. On the other hand, if I didn’t teach her, we would be defenseless.
Before I could continue that train of thought to any sort of conclusion, Heather came running back. She was out of breath. I asked “What’s going on?”
She said nothing, merely pointing at something across the lake. I said “That’s too far away, I can’t see it. What’s over there?”
She had finally caught her breath, but rather than simply telling me like a sane person, she grabbed me by the wrist and took off running again. When we were about halfway toward where Heather had pointed, I stopped. I saw what she wanted me to see.
Heather said “Do you see them? Tell me I’m not seeing things.”
I said nothing. I wasn’t sure if I was seeing things. My eyes couldn’t have possibly seen what my brain told me they saw.
Heather said “Let’s get closer.”
“Are you insane? There are dinosaurs over there!” It was only after the word had left my mouth that I fully comprehended the situation. Dinosaurs. Real, live dinosaurs! It was like a childhood dream come true. However, being that my childhood was over, I now understood that “dinosaur” meant “giant monster that could kill me easily.” I could’ve spent all day admiring them... from afar.
Heather identified the creature with all the knowledge of a skilled paleontologist. “I think they’re Parasaurolophus. Herbivores. We can get closer; they won’t eat us. Though we’ll need to stay out from under their feet. They’re plenty big.”
“That’s an understatement. They must be thirty feet tall! And besides, the scientists who said they were herbivores had nothing to go on but some bones. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to test their theories personally.”
“Aw, come on. We’ve come this far and you don’t want to go the extra few yards to say you were next to a real live dinosaur? You’ll regret it ‘til the day you die if you don’t.”
“I’d rather regret it ‘til the day I die than have today be the day I die.”
“Aw, you’re a total party pooper. I seriously thought if there was something that would get you excited, it would be dinosaurs.”
“I am so excited right now, you don’t even know. But I’m excited from here. Any closer, and my excitement turns to fear for my life.”
“Well I’m going to have a look. I’m not passing up a chance to see my favorite dinosaur up close.” Heather began making her way toward the distant creatures. I, of course, stayed back where it was safe. I wandered back towards the forest’s edge. Up in the branches, there appeared to be a Quetzelcoatlus. I watched it for awhile, and it eventually returned to a nearby nest. This was a much safer kind of creature to be near. At least it wasn’t on the ground where I was. I got as close as I could without climbing anything, but it was fairly high up.
After awhile, I realized that I hadn’t heard anything from Heather. That was the first time I had gone that long without Heather saying something. I decided to check up on her. I couldn’t see her by the Parasaurolophus. I walked along the shore in their general direction until I stumbled across a tree with Heather in it. I said “Heather, what are you doing up there?”
“Shhh! There’s a nest over there. See?” She pointed at a tall mound of branches and mud.
“Get down from there! I can’t see the eggs, but if the nest is that big...”
Heather reached for a higher branch. “I can’t see them very well either, but if I could just get up a little higher then maybe...”
In the distance, the Parasaurolophus trumpeted and ran off in the opposite direction. I said “Do you hear that? That’s a warning! We don’t want to be around when Mama Dino comes back!”
Heather sighed, but began climbing down slowly. “Fine. I just wanted to see the babies. But you’re right, we should go before Mama Dino gets back.”
No sooner had Heather’s foot touched the ground than a forty foot tall Spinosaurus came barrelling out of the forest. After our initial shock, Heather and I started running for our lives. Without stopping, I said “There’s a spell I always wanted to try but never had the chance to due to the very specific requirements necessary. I think now is a good time. Say the words stego nommus.”
“Okay already! Stego nommus!”
At first, it appeared as if the spell did nothing. After a few seconds, however, a stegosaurus emerged from the forest. Heather and I got to the other side of it before we stopped to catch a breath.
“I think we’ve overstayed our welcome. Can we go now?”
I laughed. “That’s the first sensible thing you’ve said since we got here. Let’s go.” I took out the amulet and decided on a passage to aim for. With one last look at the epic dinosaur battle happening behind us, we headed off for another world.