Shelter is sought. Safety in their new world is bound to be temporary.

The Swamplands

The Cretaceous (Modern: May 4th, 2013)

"Best quote"

After travelling a short distance back the way they came, to regain their bearings, and separate themselves from the heard the clearest way to turn became left – their previous right. In the not-so-distant-distance, the giants’ footsteps can still be felt, trekking their own path in the same general direction. Better to go with the flow than face the land of giants from whence the dinosaurs came and risk being trampled once more.

The swamplands seem vast, unconquerable.

Time feels as slow and heavy as the muck that fills much of the way. Their journey has only begun, in earnest. It’s barely past dawn and the air is already becoming more humid; each round of breath seems to suck in moisture and force it right back out through the pores. The trees thicken, blocking out every sliver of misty sunlight. Perhaps they have chosen the wrong direction. Perhaps they’re journeying into the heart of the swamp where there is no escape, no shelter.

Perhaps they should have listened to the camel.

“ – I don’t think it is… purgatory, ma’am,” Iris picks up, polite but insistent to Harriet. “I don’t remember dying. I remember, one second, I was in the hospital, lookin’ after Foster, he’s the one that’s in a bad way since the war and everything— I was just getting up to say goodbye and the next second I’m here with you all.” How utterly unlikely their reality is really starts to strike the young woman all over again as she says it out-loud, and her voice starts to become unsteady. She adjusts her grip around Avery, still holding the girl safe—safe as she can. “W-where’d you all come from?” Uncertainly taints her voice further. “Do you think … those things were really dinosaurs? Pastor McGillicutty said they didn’t really exist.”

It’s difficult to tell, as perpetually dark and damp as the swamplands are, but the geography has begun to change ever-so-slightly; mossy rocks protrude more often from the earth, which feels, under their feet, as if it’s starting to slope down.

The first to pipe up after Iris is the little girl nestled in her grasp. "Well— I was eating my froot loops and watching Denver, the Last Dinosar. Which is why I'm in my pyjamas," not that anyone can tell thanks to the mud that has collected all over Avery's clothes. And body. And hair. Generally her entire person. She smiles. "And they looked like Little Foot. He wasn't my favourite. I like Ducky better." Her nose wrinkles.

Harriet casts Iris and then Avery sidelong glances. "I did not understand a word she said." Froot loops? Her eyes narrow before flitting back towards Iris, focusing there instead of the child. "Anything can kill you, my dear," Ruggles pulls out her school marm voice— matter-of-fact, authoritative, and downright insistent. "Perhaps you do not remember dying because God had the good grace of allowing your soul to cross before your body fully died. For this one should be thankful…" As far as what she was doing, "And I was doing something very different than the rest of you. I was at market. Admiring Mister Stonewall's wares— "

Travis snorts in base amusement at something in Harriet's words and then does a poor job covering it. With the back of his hand, he wipes across the sweat on his forehead. "I was— what does it matter anyway?" But as he scrunches his nose and mimics his face into a facade of Avery's to soundlessly mock her talking, he abruptly changes tunes, "No, wait!" A snap of fingers and he jogs lightly to get ahead of the others, turning around to walk half-backwards in order to stare at all their weary, jungle-wasted faces. "I know where we're are. I've seen this. We're in the Congo. W-w-w-w-we— didn't that Egyptian lady say we got taken? Maybe it's aliens!"

To this, even Niel sputters in boredom, plodding on in otherwise relative silence, his lips grabbing at greenery every once in a while. Of them, he's the only one seemingly utterly unaffected by the weather; well-suited and sure-footed. The rocks he takes amiably, but carefully, eager to go forward and not at all back.

Fresh off of crinkling her dark eyes at Avery — and exchanging a look to Harriet that concurs; she hasn‘t a clue what the child is talking about either — Iris gives an even more muddled stare to Travis. “Aliens!” The notion seems ludicrous to her — more, even, than that of purgatory. Fearing the rise of her voice might attract— something— she lowers it immediately. “What, that— that sounds like something out’ve a picture,” she says, sparing an arm from around Avery to swipe across her sweat-beaded forehead. “It looks like we’re in a jungle,” she thought they saw a parrot earlier! “but what does the Congo have to do with Martians, anyway?”

"Yup, yup!" Avery says in her best Ducky impression. Her nose wrinkles at the notion of aliens though and she clings just a little tighter to Iris. "Aliens are scary…"

"Poppycock," Harriet observes. "Aliens." Her eyes roll as she steps a little more sure-footed forward. "Indeed, I assure you if there were aliens they would have better things to do than move around an elderly woman." Her eyebrows raise expectantly only to have her paces slow.

Sore about being shot down, Travis huffs, "Oh yeah? How else would you ex— " and then suffers the consequences of walking backwards in an unfamiliar, and highly unpredictable, environment. Hitting a root with his heel, he windmills and then plummets, smacking into the ground hard enough to no longer be relieved that it's potentially becoming less muddy; it's not a soft landing. With a grumble and grunt, he picks himself up and, crossing his arms, stomps ahead like that, ignoring everything and everyone with a teenager's fervor.

Travis is marching straight ahead down a suddenly sharper slope.

A flat, mossy stone — threatening to crumble at its edge — gives way to a small human-width crevice in the ground, over which a tree has recently toppled. It's roots still vein into the earth nearby; it's been sheared in half by lightning, huge, fresh, fissured splinters pointing up toward the sky … where the sky must be, past the green ceiling. A few of the surrounding trees are charred and dead. Beyond, they can glimpse a shallow pool, lilypad-dusted water collecting in the minuscule valley at the base of the slight hill.

The stony hollow beneath the roof made by the fallen tree appears to be an ideal hiding spot — or an ideal trap.

Teenager bargery does not often include looking where one's going. The sudden yelp from Travis, however, is less than it could've been. Rather than tumbling into some precipice, he's merely stubbed his toe, slowing him enough as he hobbles to see what it is they're heading towards. A glance back at the others shows the indecision of his face as he hovers between them and charging—

A sharp whistle-like noise pierces through the trees, stirring some small creatures whom manage to stay invisible so that it appears as though the noise itself blows the leaves.

Iris breaks into a careful jog as Travis yelps and halts, eager to look down into the would-be hiding spot; her arm windmills and she grasps the splintery new timber to stop from tumbling over an edge she didn't expect to be so close, giving Avery quite a little ride. 

It's as safe as a furrow in the ground in the middle of a terrifying swamp can look, empty but for leaves and a rain puddle.

The whistle's memory rings in her ears; she halts everything, a game of freeze-tag. Iris returns to action all at once, gently setting down Avery— "Careful!" she says with quick, soft warning over the edge as she digs her hands into her dress pockets. All she comes up with is the pink wallet from Travis and hospital odds and ends. "The whistle— "

Avery's eyes widen as Iris chases after Travis, and her arms, quite instinctively tighten around the woman's neck. There's no sense in falling off. When she's put down, she hesitantly releases her grip, and looks down before turning her gaze back to Iris skeptically. "Wile E. Coyote would fall— "

Meanwhile, Harriet isn't quick to follow after the others, not that she's anxious to lose them. She traipses after, not in a jog, but certainly at an appropriate pace for a lady to move. Her feet squish in the mud as she approaches the fallen timber and lingers from whence they came. She will wait here. For now. There's certainly no way she intends to shimmy down the log twice…

With an inappropriate aggression, Travis shoves his hands beneath his armpits, shoulders prodding up at odd protective angles as he sways between one step and the next. "Whistle? What about the whistle?" He snaps, throwing looks over both his shoulders and then into the grassy mud of the jungle floor where his so recently stubbed toe sinks. "You don't know that's what it was."

Iris blinks off of Avery, whose reference she misses another time. "It sure sounded like a whistle!" she insists with glowing determination, optimistic in nature, but solid; practical, too. "We have to use ours, to tell the others where we are! They might never find us otherwise! But I don't— have it…" The boy's aggression has her looking outright suspicious at him, but her big brown eyes are more pleading than anything. They're all scared. They all have to work together. "I— I must've…" She looks down, forlorn upon the items in her hands. "I don't know how I could've lost it…"

"Yes," agrees Harriet with a disapproving wrinkle of her nose. "The whistle is well worth exercising." A wry eyebrow is arched at the notion of having lost their sole device for communication. "Well, then. That is indeed a problem." Her lips thin into a tight line before her head cants to the side, "Do any of you know how to whistle without such an apparatus? I believe the school once had a rather colorful," she eyes Iris expectantly, "gardener who knew how."

"Oh! Whistlin's easy!!" annnnd Avery is now chewing a piece of grass as she walks. She spits (disgusting Harriet and perhaps others), expelling the blades of plant from her mouth before firmly putting a thumb and index finger into her mouth. The little girl inhales a deep breath and then emits a sharp sound around the two fingers. "Daddy taught me that!!! Mommy hates that I know…"

It's a good whistle out of the small statured girl — not the same noise as they heard heralding to them, and with fewer creatures left to react in surprise, it seems more swallowed by the jungle somehow.

Travis' hands have begun to shift, squirm, wrangling each other as though each wrist were the mortal enemy of the other and he might strangle the weaker. "I took it!" he spits out at a volume that surprises even him, rocking him back a step and almost into regretful silence. But it's out there, and a second later, the rest spills, "I took the whistle, okay. I nicked it off of you cause— cause— well, I don't know who the heck you are! But when I tried to use it when those things came at us— I— it…" beginning to lose steam, Travis can only gesture lamely in front of him, indicating, poorly, an unfortunate tumble.

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