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Part Ten - Daybreak

Tom woke out of his slumber enough to realize he was uncomfortable. He attempted to switch from his back to his side, but was surprised when he couldn’t. He tried again, harder this time, but there was a heavy object on top of him.

He sighed inwardly at the thought of opening his eyes. He reached his left hand to his forehead and scratched an itch that had picked this of all times to strike. After it subsided he put his hand on his chest as he fought over whether to stay as he was or open his eyes to see what was on him.

His thoughts, muscles, and breathing froze when he felt a short puff of wind on his hand. All of his energy was rerouted to his ears and sense of touch. The wind was warm and came in little three second bursts separated by six second pauses. The wind was accompanied by the sound of breathing.

Tom had never opened his eyes so fast in his life. He locked them on his chest. He screamed at the black shape lying on top of him. The scream dyed after only a second or so as he recognized the shape as Chaphar’s huge muzzle.

The muzzle didn’t stay still for long though. Chaphar woke up, lifted his head and said, “What? What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know, ask him,” Shehleg said from her corner.

Tom relaxed his muscles and released his breath in a sigh of relief. “Nothing, nothing. I just didn’t expect to wake up with two nostrils looking back at me.”

“I’m sorry,” Chaphar said putting his head near the ground, ears lying even flatter. “You laid down next to me some hours after you fell asleep. You were still getting warmth from me so I left you, but then you rolled away around midnight. I watched you for a few minutes and you started shivering. I moved over to you and put my head on your chest.”

“I know why you did it, I just didn’t expect it,” Tom said rolling onto his right side so he could look at Chaphar. “I’m sor…ry.”

Chaphar’s jaw dropped open, Tom’s eyes went wide and Shehleg, who was walking over, nearly fell to the ground. After she caught her balance she said, “I can’t believe it.”

Chaphar answered her comment by asking, “You can’t believe what?”

“That I am questioning my ears,” she said twitching them.

Tom thought he saw a slight smile on Chaphar’s lips as he said, “And why are you questioning them?”

“Because…” she said looking around the room in odd patterns. She eventually settled for a lowered head. “Because Tom actually apologized.”

Tom saw a sparkle in Chaphar’s eye. It was almost like something out of a cartoon without the actual flash of light. Chaphar turned to her and said, “I told you he wasn’t as bad as you made him out to be.”

“He might be putting on a show,” she said returning his gaze.

“Or he could actually be sincere,” Chaphar said standing up.

Shehleg nodded slowly. “Can you prove that claim?”

“Yes, look at his eyes,” Chaphar said touching his muzzle to Tom’s forehead. Tom looked to Shehleg and she looked into his eyes. Chaphar then added, “I would like to know if you can prove your claim?”

Shehleg closed her eyes. There was a long pause. “Well Tom,” Chaphar said again. “Want to go find some breakfast?”

“Huh? It’s not light—” Tom was cut short when the sun began shining itself down on everything. Tom forgot about how short the transition here was. It gave a totally new meaning to the term ‘day-break’. “Okay, yeah.”

“Great,” Chaphar said standing.

Tom stood too. “What we having?”

“Oh, I was thinking grass but,” Chaphar said looking up. “I forgot you don’t eat that again. I don’t know.”

“I, um,” Shehleg said stepping forward. “I know where there are some people who hand out…free wild berries.”

“You what!” Chaphar said wide eyed. “Why didn’t you ever tell me?”

“Because” she answered. “They have a limited supply and I wanted to be able to have some whenever I wanted. If you found out, others might find out.”

“You think I’d—”

“No, not you. Just that someone else could somehow find out.”

“Well, we are alone here. Tom needs to eat.”

“What if he tells someone?”

Tom raised his hand in a ‘stop’ fashion. “Now I have no intention of talking to anyone but you two. And chances are I won’t talk too much about this in my world either.”

“Why not?” Chaphar asked turning toward Tom.

“Because I don’t want to be thought of as insane,” Tom said waving his upraised hand.

“Insane!” Shehleg said stepping forward. “Are you saying you’re ashamed of us?”

“No, no not at all,” Tom said shaking his head. “In my world, animals don’t speak, dinosaurs are extinct and Dragons never existed. Assuming what you said about there being dinosaurs here is correct. I haven’t seen any.”

“Oh!” Chaphar said shocked. “I guess Shehleg would collect on her bet if I decided to try your world out.”

Tom nodded and looked to the ground. “Well,” Shehleg said walking up to Tom’s side. “I’m hungry, how about you,” she added touching her muzzle to Tom’s arm briefly.

“Yes,” he answered looking at her.

“Then let’s get a move on,” she said walking to the door and pushing it open.

Chaphar offered his back to Tom, who accepted it. They then followed Shehleg out of the barn. They found her already trotting away. “Hang on!” Chaphar said to Tom, who complied. Chaphar kicked with his back legs and the barn door slammed shut. Chaphar, without even flinching, took off at full speed. Shehleg did the same when they caught up.

Copyright © 2010 C. L. Richardson, All Rights Reserved; "Untamed Picture" © Nathanael Eisner