A flurry of black, brown and pink burst from behind a bush off to the left, and Jasper bounded at Kluber like he’d not seen his master in months.
“Jasper!” Kluber fell to one knee again, relief washing over him. He grabbed the dog and rubbed his head all over, happy he was okay and glad it wasn’t a beast to tear his stomach open. Maybe this was all bullshit anyway, he rationalized, some gigantic ruse or something that Masty cooked up. Probably hired an actor, probably stunned him somehow, brought him to the swamp. That was probably a crane that flew over before. He was always –
“What do you have there boy?” Kluber noticed Jasper had dropped something when he leapt into his master’s arms. It was an egg, a big off-white speckled one, bigger than an ostrich’s. How the dog got it here is a testament to his jaw strength and single-mindedness, but all that shot though Kluber’s head was Oh shit. Some things you just don’t mess with.
“Jasper, come. Now.” He grabbed the collar and half-led, half dragged the dog toward Blix and the time machine. You don’t just hang around a stolen egg. Not one that size. Not here.
Somewhere behind him, a crashing and crunching rattled through the trees.
Hey!” Kluber shouted as he breached the clearing. The horologist was standing in front of the chair, pressing buttons on his handheld and nodding. He turned.
“Ah, Mr. Kluber, good. We’re just about ready, and we can be off. Just let me calibrate for the proper geosynchronous location and solar spacing. Shouldn’t be too long.” Another crash and a primal bellow cracked the air, and Blix’s eyes shot behind Kluber. The faint smile vanished. “What was that?”
June 5, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) pitches against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Yankees won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
“No time, doc, we gotta get moving. My lovely dog here got himself into something he probably shouldn’t.” He strode toward the machine with Jasper in tow. “Sit,” he commanded the dog, and by some miracle, he did.
“But if I don’t calibrate, we may not find the right wormhole to bring us back to your home, I can’t much rush it.” Kluber was about to respond when a massive tree fell into the clearing, smashing down and raining leaves behind it. THe two ducked and the dog shied away but stayed. Kluber looked up at a familiar, triangular head he’d seen the skull of at the Field Museum when they were playing the Sox last year. A Tyrannosaurus Rex, and it looked pissed. Forty or more feet in the air, It’s head jutted into the clearing. A pair of beady black eyes stared soullessly at the two, jaws dripping with menace. Those tiny arms didn’t look quite so funny when their owner was looking to gobble you up. The beast’s maw opened, unleashing a deafening bellow and spraying the clearing with saliva, the stench of death rich on its breath. Kluber looked back to the scientist, urgency pouring through his eyes. .
“Right, off we go then,” Blix said, leaping into the seat and pressing a series of flashing buttons. A bellow from behind them, and another loud crash as the great beast smashed its way into the clearing, slamming into the great branches and trunks around it. The trees were acting as a temporary barrier. “You don’t have to be in the chair, just get inside the ring and grab close.” Kluber did so, eyes flashing back to the Tyrannosaur. The familiar hum kicked in, the ring spinning faster and faster as the white light filled the air. Another crash and the dinosaur had a foot through, mere steps from making a meal of the two men.The light got brighter, the ring spinning faster and faster, Jasper howled a keening call, and Kluber screwed his eyes shut, arms wrapped round his dog. Everything went white.
Kluber sat and waited to be eaten, the whiteness filling the world beyond his eyelids. He waited, as the hum of the machine wound down, as the light faded, until something tapped him on the arm. He squinted open, and looked first to his dog, curled into a ball as small as he could, then back to the scientist, that faint smile back on his face.
“Well, that was rather exciting, wasn’t it?” Blix said, patting the pitcher on his shoulder. “That displacement bubble is quite something.” He gestured behind Kluber, who turned. The most of the head and one foot of the dinosaur sat disembodied about eight yards away, not bleeding, cauterised.
“Jesus,” Kluber said. He stood, walked over, marveling at the dinosaur pieces. His nose wrinkled. “Man, these things stink.” Then he looked around, and his heart sank. Sand. Rocks. Brown and red hills.
“Where the hell are we?” He started hard at the horologist, who looked down at a control panel.
“It appears – “ a squint, and some button pressing, and a look at the sky – “we are in the 11th century BC in your measurements, or thereabouts.”
“Biblical times?” This drew a quizzical look from Blix. Kluber smiled and shook his head, bemused, and looked down at his dog, already fine, forgetting the terror of a minute ago and enjoying the stench of the ancient beast. He looked up, first at the scientist again busy fiddling with the machine, then at the desolate world around him. It was hot and dry, not a cloud in the sky. The land was rough, all tumbledown hills and uneven valleys. No vegetation like had surrounded them a moment ago, though some bits of brown on a nearby hill could be some scraggly grass. Off in the distance, he spied a long-horned goat at the top of a rise, surveying the land. A soft kick sent a small rock bouncing and skidding down the hill they’d landed on. As he watched it tumble down the hill, Kluber’s eyes were caught on another movement – at the bottom of the hill four figures in dark cloaks were headed quickly in their direction.
“Doc.” The scientist turned and saw what Kluber pointed at. “Hope they’re friendly.”
TO BE CONTINUED…..