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Submitted by Dave Free on 20 March 2007 - 9:54am.

Jeremy calculated he only had fifteen, maybe twenty minutes before Ellie got back then he might have to start all over again. Somehow he had to show the dinosaur that the apples were coming from him without scaring the creature back into the water. He lifted his head enough to see into the bowl again. The Dinosaur was now standing over the pool drinking. Jeremy thought to himself, It’s now or never. He stood up and tossed a piece of apple toward the dinosaur. The apple landed with a small thud about ten feet closer to Jeremy than the last one he’d thrown. Jeremy ducked before the dinosaur could see him. This time he counted to seven before looking up again.

The dinosaur was already within a few yards of the apple. Jeremy waited, waited, and then just as the dinosaur was scooping up the apple he stood and tossed another one. This one fell on the ground half the distance to where the dinosaur was now standing. Jeremy ducked again and this time counted to three before looking again. The dinosaur had taken the bait and was approaching the second apple cautiously. It was close enough now for Jeremy to hear it sniffing.

Just as the dinosaur bent down to pick up the apple, Jeremy stood and tossed another piece toward it. This time he threw it under-hand and then instead of ducking down he remained standing. He held his breath and held out his hand with the fourth piece of apple on it.

The dinosaur looked quickly from the apple on the ground to Jeremy. It snorted, turned and ran for the pool at top speed. Jeremy had been right. This dinosaur could run! Jeremy stood still and kept repeating under his breath, Please stop!, Please stop, Please stop! The creature reached the grass surrounding the pool in a matter of seconds, launched itself into the air with a giant leap and crashed with a loud splash into the pool.

“Darn it!” Jeremy said out loud. He was tempted to run down to the pool to see where the creature went but something told him to stay put. After waiting for a few moments, he made a deal with himself to count to one hundred before he moved. By the time he reached sixty the surface of the pool was again still and calm. At ninety-two the snout of the dinosaur broke the still surface and the long skinny head of the dinosaur came into view studying Jeremy intently.

Jeremy forgot about his counting and froze. The single piece of apple in his outstretched hand suddenly seemed to way a ton but he resisted the temptation to put it down. Slowly the head of the dinosaur rose out of the pool as it came toward the edge. Reaching the edge it snorted loudly and then leaped out of the pool still staring straight at Jeremy.

Though Jeremy’s only thought was to befriend this dinosaur, it began dawn on him that the dinosaur might have other ideas. Without moving his head he looked out the corner of his eye at his four-wheeler. It was twenty yards away. He figured if he started running right now he might make it to the little machine before the dinosaur could get to him, but he would have to go right now! His legs wouldn’t move.

Jeremy looked back at the dinosaur. It was looking at the last piece of apple that he had thrown. His courage returned. That’s it, he said to the dinosaur under his breath, come and get the apple.

The dinosaur turned from the apple and looked back at Jeremy cautiously. It ran a little to its left, snorted and shook its head. Then it started scraping the ground with one of its big, three-toed claws, almost like a bull preparing to charge. It looked from Jeremy to the apple and then ran to its right snorting, shaking its head and clawing the ground.

Jeremy stood perfectly still and watched. The dinosaur was clearly tempted by the apple lying on the ground near Jeremy. Cautiously it began to step forward, it’s head nervously moving from side to side.

That’s it, keep coming, Jeremy thought. His nose started to itch. He wiggled and sniffed just a little to try relieve the itch. It just got worse. The dinosaur kept coming, it was only ten feet from the apple when Jeremy sneezed.

The dinosaur jerked its head up, snorted, spun and headed back for the water.

“No! Don’t go!” Jeremy yelled and took a few steps toward the bowl.

The dinosaur was nearly to the water when it heard Jeremy’s voice. It stopped and spun around eyeing him warily.

Jeremy held out the piece of apple. “Here you go! More apple,” he said softly and began walking slowly toward the dinosaur talking calmly. “It’s okay, I’m not going to hurt you. See? I have more apples for you. Doesn’t that look good?” Jeremy kept his eyes focused on the dinosaur and kept walking. When he reached the piece of apple lying on the ground he scooped down and picked it up. The dinosaur snorted and dipped its head forward and then tossed it back. It clawed the ground and walked from side-to-side watching Jeremy nervously.

“It’s okay, boy. I’m not going to hurt you.” Jeremy was now down the steepest part of the bowl and was within twenty yards of the dinosaur. For a minute he thought about how he would escape if the beast came after him. Not finding a good option, he chased the thought from his mind and kept walking.

The dinosaur continued to snort and bob its head, as Jeremy got closer. It backed up a few steps until it was right next to the pool and couldn’t go any further without jumping in. Jeremy continued to talk calmly. He was now close enough to see the bright yellow eyes of the beast.

“Here you go. See, more apples. I’m not going to hurt you.” Jeremy was walking through the grass just ten yards from the dinosaur. At five foot two, Jeremy was a good-sized, ten-year old. Now as he looked up into the penetrating yellow eyes, he wished he were even taller. He also wished he’d been nicer to his mom’s chickens. Not that the dinosaur knew anything about his mom’s chickens, but as it bobbed its head and scratched the grass with its claws it was easy to imagine that this was the great chicken king come to punish chicken chasers like Jeremy.

About ten feet from the dinosaur Jeremy stopped. He had two pieces of apple in his hand and a few more in his pocket. Without making any fast moves, he tossed one of the apple pieces into the grass. The dinosaur looked down at apple and sniffed.

Jeremy cooed gently. “Go ahead boy, you can have it.”

The dinosaur quickly looked back at Jeremy and shifted its head from side to side studying him intently with each of its yellow eyes. It bent down, stretched out its neck, and picked up the apple with the tip of its beak. Pulling back quickly it tossed the piece of apple into the air, opened its beak wide and crunched down on the apple as it fell into its mouth.

Jeremy smiled. He held out the other piece of apple in his hand. “Here you go fella, you can have this one too.”

The dinosaur stretched its neck and sniffed toward Jeremy. It then started bobbing its head and snorting. “I’m not going to throw it to you this time boy. You have to come get it.”

Jeremy took a small step toward the dinosaur. It cocked its head to one side and stared intently at Jeremy with one of its bright yellow eyes.

“It’s okay, I’m not gonna hurt you.” Jeremy took a step forward and then another. He was now nearly to where the dinosaur had snatched the last piece of apple. Jeremy took one more step then held the apple on the flat of his palm up toward the dinosaur. It snorted a few times and clawed the ground, and then slowly stretched its neck toward Jeremy’s hand. It sniffed at Jeremy’s hand and snorted. Jeremy could feel the hot moist breath of the dinosaur on his hand. He stood perfectly still. The dinosaur leaned a little closer, opened its beak and was just about to snatch the apple from Jeremy’s hand when Elena screamed from the rim of the bowl.

“Jeremy!”

The dinosaur jerked back. Jeremy looked towards Elena’s scream and saw her come crashing over the edge of the bowl in the Rhino. He turned back around to try to calm the dinosaur but it was already spinning toward the pool, its massive tail came flying directly at Jeremy. He thought about ducking for an instant but could tell it was too late. Instead he jumped as the tail came toward him, wrapped both arms around it and held on tightly.

The dinosaur leaped into the pond and Jeremy went with it clinging tightly to its tail. As they hit the water, Jeremy took a breath and closed his eyes. Down they went, the warm water rushing around them. Jeremy held tight to the tail as it swished back and forth propelling the dinosaur through the water. He opened his eyes but could see little as the dinosaur’s movement stirred up the loose silt and sand on the bottom of the pool. The light faded as the dinosaur headed for the darkness of the overhang.

Jeremy began wondering how long he could hold his breath. He figured the dinosaur would be stopping any moment as it ran up against the wall but it didn’t stop and it got darker and darker. Jeremy began to panic. It was an under water cave! How far did it go? What if there was no air?

He was just about to let go and attempt to swim back, when the dinosaur pushed off the bottom with its massive legs. Jeremy’s grip slipped. He tried desperately to hold on. The water rushed all around him, his lungs were about to burst and his fingers were slipping. Just when he was about to give up hope, his head broke through the surface of the water. He let go of the tail and took great gasps of air. Wherever he was it was dark. It took his eyes a few minutes to adjust.

There were a few streams of light coming from somewhere above him. He could hear the dinosaur splashing behind him and turned to see it walking out of the water onto what looked like a little beach. Jeremy swam that direction until his feet hit solid ground. He stumbled out of the water and lay on the sand of the beach breathing heavily.

He could see they were in a large cave. The few streams of light were coming from cracks in the ceiling high above. The lake took up most of the cave with the exception of the little beach where Jeremy now lay. The dinosaur snorted at him.

Jeremy rolled over and looked at it. “How did you find this place?” The dinosaur just snorted and eyed him warily. Jeremy sat up on his knees, jammed his hand into his pocket and pulled out a wet piece of apple. He held it out for the dinosaur on the flat of his hand. The dinosaur sniffed at it, stretched out its neck and snatched it from Jeremy’s hand.

“That a boy!” Jeremy said. “See? I’m not going to hurt you.” He stood up, and took another piece of apple out of his pocket then walked toward the dinosaur. It cocked its head to the side. Jeremy could see a yellow eyes glowing in the dim light.

The dinosaur was backed up against the cave wall and had nowhere to go. It jerked its head nervously but always came back to sniff at the apple in Jeremy’s left hand. Jeremy didn’t hold it out this time. Instead he walked right up to the dinosaur before slowly opening his fingers. Then he reached up with his other hand and touched the dinosaur’s neck. The dinosaur snatched the apple and pulled back at Jeremy’s touch but didn’t move out of the way.

Jeremy talked to it quietly. “It’s okay. It’s okay, I’m just going to rub you, see?” Jeremy stroked the coarse skin of the dinosaur’s neck while the dinosaur munched on the apple. “What are we going to call you?” Jeremy said as he continued to move his hand over the dinosaur’s hide. The dinosaur finished its apple and began sniffing at Jeremy.

It sniffed his hair, then down his back. “What are you looking for?” Jeremy asked, “Maybe this?” He reached into his pocket and pulled out the last piece of apple. It still had a little white sticker on the skin that said Fuji. Jeremy tried to take the sticker off but the dinosaur was too quick and snatched the apple out of his hand.

“That’s it!” Jeremy said, “I’ll call you Fuji.”

The dinosaur munched happily.

“Glad you’re enjoying it!” Jeremy said, “Because that’s it. There are no more apples.” He pulled his pockets inside out to prove his point. “See? No more apples!” Fuji sniffed at Jeremy’s pockets. “They’re gone. No more.”

The dinosaur snorted and bobbed its head. “Sorry,” Jeremy said, “but you are going to have to get me out of here to get any more.” He turned and walked back toward the water wondering how he would find the opening to the tunnel. “Elena is going to have the sheriff and everyone else here if we don’t get back out there fast.” Jeremy felt hot breath on his ear. He turned and Fuji snorted right in his face.

“Gross!” Jeremy said. He bent down and was splashing water on his face when something broke the surface of the water farther out.

“Jeremy!” It was Elena’s voice.

“Elena! Is that you?” Jeremy called back.

“It’s me. Are you okay?” Elena gasped between breaths.

“I’m fine. Come this way! There’s a beach.”

A few minutes later Jeremy could see Elena and rushed into the water to help her out. She was wearing a mask and snorkel and stumbled out of the water tripping on her fins. Fuji backed up a little and snorted. Elena took off her mask and jumped behind Jeremy. With a trembling voice she asked, “Is it, you know--okay?”

Jeremy walked over to the dinosaur and rubbed its neck. “Yeah, it’s fine. See? He’s just a big baby that loves apples.”

“Apples?” Elena asked incredulously.

“Yeah, he loved those two apples you gave me. That’s how I got close enough to touch him.”

Elena peeled her feet out of the fins and cautiously walked toward Jeremy and the dinosaur. The dinosaur snorted and bobbed its head. Elena froze. Jeremy rubbed the dinosaur’s neck and said, “It’s okay, Fuji is just shy. Aren’t you boy? Come over here by me.”

“Fuji?” Elena asked as she walked cautiously forward.

“They were Fuji apples,” Jeremy explained shrugging his shoulders.

“It fits,” Elena agreed. She was now next to Jeremy. She held out her hand and touched its skin. “Cool,” she said then turned and slugged Jeremy’s arm.

“Ouch! What was that for?” Jeremy protested.

“You promised you wouldn’t get in the water with the dinosaur!” Elena said.

“I promised I wouldn’t do it while you were gone. You were clearly back when I got in the water. In fact, you were the whole reason I ended up in the water!”

Elena shook her head as she continued to stroke the dinosaur. “You’re crazy! What if this thing had been mean?”

The dinosaur had now turned its interest to Elena and was sniffing in her ear. She giggled.

“I knew Fuji wasn’t mean,” Jeremy replied as he ducked under the dinosaur’s neck and stroked the other side. “Thanks for coming in after me,” he added knowing how scared Elena must have been searching the dark water for him.

“Somebody has to look after you,” she smiled as she rubbed the top of Fuji’s snout.

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