Chapter 11: The Lagoon
Anne made her way through the jungle. It was clear, easier to walk, and large trees with roots sprouting from the ground stretched up around her. Above, the branches laced and intermingled, creating a web of wood and leaves that formed the canopy.
She had lost her sense of direction again after coming out of the tree, not knowing which way she was headed. Occasionally she could hear birds and the drone of cycads. Once, she thought, she had heard the distant trumpet of a dinosaur.
She had seen none since the encounter with the rex, and she had been walking for at least fifteen minutes.
Maybe not seeing any is a good thing…
She stepped over a fallen log, listening to the soft crunch of leaves as she stepped onto the other side.
She continued on, hearing a faint thump. She shook it off, taking another step.
She spun around, her eyes scanning the jungle around her. She could see nothing.
“Go…It could be the rex…”
Anne turned, breaking through the jungle, still seeing nothing. Another thump, and Anne curved her way around a tree.
She stopped, breathing heavily. She listened carefully to the sway of the canopy above, pushed to and fro in the breeze.
The crack of a branch and the crunch of leaves came from somewhere to her right, followed by another thump.
What…What is it? Where is it?
She stepped away from the tree, moving cautiously toward the sound of movement, coming from behind another of the large, thick trees.
She quickly climbed over the upturned roots, making her way around the tree.
Anne stopped, as the next thump filled her ears.
Four long, brown legs rose up from the ground ahead. They were thick, with muscles rippling as they moved. They squished into the ground, pressing down on the leaves and dried mud.
They supported a large belly of more rippling flesh, which swayed in the air. At the end of this big belly, a thick tail slowly whipped side-to-side.
Atop the thick body was a long neck, which tapered up to a suitable-sized head that didn’t seem to match the size of the rest of the body.
The dinosaur opened and closed its mouth as it ground up the leaves is had just ripped from a lower portion of the canopy.
The whole animal was just short of ten meters tall, and as she watched, another Brachiosaurus came from beyond. It was much larger in comparison, standing at over twelve meters tall, and its head was bowed down underneath the canopy.
It called out: a sweet, yet almost haunting sound. The younger Brachiosaur turned away, moving one of its massive front legs towards Anne.
If they’re here, then I’ve got to be close to something…A water source maybe…Anything…
As the smaller dinosaur began to eat at a new spot, the bigger one let out another slow, haunting call. In the distance, Anne could see what she had thought for tree stumps begin to move.
She was in a jungle of giants, and each one was slowly replying the call.
The larger Brachiosaurus stopped, raising its head up through the canopy and out of sight. She saw the leaves sway, and the neck made a backwards motion.
The Brachiosaurs in the distance of the jungle were moving away. Slowly, but progressively, they were moving.
She pushed away from the tree, trudging cautiously between the two Brachiosaurs, as several leaves fluttered down from above. The tail of the larger one loomed ahead, and she quickly passed underneath it in case of sudden movement.
Getting hit by that thing would be lethal…
Following and surpassing the giants led to her discovery of a small river. It was only several feet wide, and less than a foot deep. It trailed through the open jungle, and Anne decided to trail it.
Eventually, the sounds of the Brachiosaurs faded to all but a distant rumble. After they had diminished, Anne had been walking several minutes before reaching an open, grassy area.
The river continued on, stretching off alongside the green valley before it came to one of the large, perimeter fences. The valley to her left ran down into the jungle on all sides. Where it intersected the fence, it continued on the other side, stretching and widening far off into the distance.
The grass on that side was longer, and she could the blades moving harmoniously in a breeze she could barely feel.
The sun lit the open area, and she made her way to the fence. Like the previous fence, she knew she would have to climb it, but fortunately it had excluded the moat she had seen.
She scaled the fence, coming down into the valley on the other side, her shoes sinking into soft earth hidden underneath the ongoing that rose above her knees.
The valley replaced the jungle on both sides gradually, widening several hundred feet away to a much larger section of valley, which covered beyond her sight, rising in gentle hills. Here and there in the distance were trees, and in the closest section to her were several scattered boulders.
The land she was on now veered onward, passing underneath the boulders that lay on it before sloping downward to join the rest of the valley expanse below.
She began crossing through the grass, nearing a boulder as she made her way to the slope that would lead her to the base of the valley.
As she passed it by, her view of the valley grew larger, and she could see it was more expansive than she thought, while still surrounded by jungle far away.
But in all her view, she could not see a road or even a fence. The only thing that she could see that once represented mankind’s presence was another feeder station in the shade of a tree, sitting smug in the valley.
Passing alongside another boulder, she heard a growing rumble. It was thunderous, and she stopped, squinting. The jungle nearby prevented her vision to the right side of the valley before ending at the slope, and she watched, as whatever was making the noise was coming into view.
Within moments, a herd of animals broke over a hill and into view, moving left along the valley. She could see them from her vantage: ostrich-like dinosaurs moving together, their long legs pounding against the ground. They squawked, opening beak-like, round heads to do so.
They were moving quickly, and she soaked in what she saw. The animals varied in length: two or three meters to five or six meters, juveniles and adults, but they kept together.
Their herding had sparked the attention of another dinosaur. Just several yards ahead and off to her left, a small, beaked head rose above the grass. It had large eyes, and they simply observed the herd, unmoving.
Several more heads rose above the grass, several of which quickly acknowledged the herd before disappearing back underneath.
One rose above the grass, standing at complete height. Its lower half was still hidden in the grass, and she guessed it was around two meters in height.
It moved over to another location in the grass, lowering its head. The animal was brownish-green, with two large hind legs, which it walked on. Its tail was stiff and balanced out behind it.
The animal was a Hypsilophodon, and just one of a number resting in the comfort of the cool grass or lazily grazing.
Anne, unable to recognize or identify the dinosaur, deducted that it was a herbivore. As she watched, another dinosaur rose from below the first. It stood up, slightly larger than the first, and turned, looking at Anne.
It won’t hurt me…It’s just curious, that’s all…
The two animals stood motionless, studying her with their big eyes.
They were staring through her, as if to ask, “Who the hell are you?”
Don’t worry guys, I’m just passing through…
She began moving past them, keeping her space less than fifteen feet away. Their eyes followed her, and as she neared the slope downward, she heard a startled grunt.
She jumped, letting out a small shout, as one of the animals popped up form the grass next to her. It jumped away, as several heads rose up amidst the grass around her.
She watched the startled animal leap in the direction of the way she had came, before turning, watching her. After a hesitant moment, it dropped down into the grass.
She hurried on, not disturbing any more of the dinosaurs, before making her way down the grassy slope to the rest of the valley.
It stretched on around her, and she could see the herd of fast-moving creatures making another route around the plains, moving near the feeder station off in the left.
Within moments of having turned back in the direction they had come from, the herd spun around, passing in front of her view of the feeder station, as they once more returned to their original route.
Now…Where do I go from here?
From a watchful location in the jungle surrounding the valley, a predator watches its prey. It had lost a lone creature earlier, but the Gallimimus herd had often proven to be a reliable source of food if she could catch them.
Often she would hunt them.
Nearly every time she would catch them.
As she watched the herd break away across the valley, rolling over a hill in the direction of a lagoon, the female Tyrannosaur continued to watch.
Its head barely stuck out from the perimeter, and only someone looking closely enough and high enough would have been able to spot her at first.
Her tail swung quietly between the trees, and her muscled legs were prepared to get moving.
She planned to get ahead of the herd, downwind, and attack as they stopped running at the lagoon. Her head turned back, her massive body lumbering through the jungle.
Anne decided to follow the herd. They were already moving over a slope far ahead of her, but she figured it wouldn’t be that hard to keep in their direction if she slowed her pace.
Instead of making a direct beeline after them, she slowly arced her way out in order to pass the feeder station.
It was somewhat like the first one she had been in, but by just passing around it to look in through the wall of bars, she could see their was a larger vent system to spread more food out at the base of the bars.
Seen this already…Time to get going again…
After a walk that last nearly ten minutes, Anne came over a gentle hill that rolled down toward a crystalline lagoon.
The water sparkled, and it was fairly wide. A giant river broke off from it, flowing off to her left and disappearing behind jungle. The far right of the lagoon—her right—was connected with several smaller rivers that trailed off into the jungle. On the opposite side of the lagoon was more open, grassy area that was backed by the jungle. The area was spotted with several shady trees, and surrounded the lagoon perimeter as well as the large river.
On her side, a fair-sized building stood in the shade of the jungle, seemingly hidden if it hadn’t been for the dock that rolled across the grass and over the lagoon shore several feet.
The herd of fast-moving dinosaurs had made their way here too, and Anne could see their numbers were quite large. But even their numbers didn’t diminish the size of the lagoon.
They lazed on the ground ahead, some sleeping while others playfully ran around in circles, into the water and back out, before repeating the cycle. Others remained in the water, bobbing out for a short distance before returning.
Several had strayed to the right of the lagoon, following the shore and had reached the far grassy area, remaining in the shade of the trees.
As she watched, several more took off along the right shore, making their way around the center of the lagoon.
It must get pretty deep then…
She stared at the shed, which was painted green. She remembered the visual scan of the island she had seen in the control room. There had been a large river that had traveled through the island, but she couldn’t remember if it came close to the Visitor’s Center.
She could barely remember much about the island, since she had soon been focused on the moving jeep.
I’ll take a chance here…Maybe there’s a raft or something…Something to get me moving down the river…
She figured giving it a try wouldn’t hurt, and she carefully hurried around the dinosaurs lying on the ground to get to the camouflaged shed.
When she reached it, she saw that a lock had already been broken on it, and pulled open the door. Inside, she saw nine hanging life vests, three of which had been removed from the remaining empty hooks and were nowhere in the shed.
Along with the vests, rolls of coiled mesh and rope were bundled up along the walls. A small shelf indicated the presence of a rubber, orange-yellow cube. It was the only one, and she could see where a second had once had a recessed spot to sit in.
She picked up the cube, fingering the dangling inflation cord. A pair of paddles hung on the wall over the cube, and she took off one. Turning around, she snatched a vest off one of the hooks, the orange jacket seemingly suitable enough to fit her.
Maybe your luck’s improving, girl…
She set down the paddle and cube, slipping the vest over her head and strapping it up across her chest. She grabbed the paddle and the cube in either hand, before turning back outside.
She gently closed the door, beginning to head down the dock to the lagoon when one of the dinosaurs on the far bank squawked.