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Submitted by Dave Free on 10 May 2007 - 2:46pm.

After Jeremy and Fuji shared the final granola bar, Fuji walked over to his nest and settled down for a nap. Jeremy found the flashlight and took inventory. In addition to the lacrosse stick and helmet, he had two sets of shoulder pads, two right hand gloves, one left hand glove, one black jersey and one white jersey, a half used roll of white athletic tape, and some socks that reminded Jeremy of cheese--stinky and full of holes. He also had his snorkeling gear, the flashlight, the pocketknife, and the half empty water bottle.

Jeremy spread everything out and looked at it. Not much to take on Putts and his crew, but he did have Fuji and he knew the ranch better than anyone. Putts also didn’t know where he was, so if he could surprise them, he might just be able to rescue his family. Jeremy looked over at Fuji who was snoring peacefully. Jeremy was very tired but he didn’t trust himself to go to sleep. What if he didn’t wake up till morning? He needed the darkness for his plan to succeed.

His biggest concern was getting out of the pool on the other side undetected. Where were Putts and his men right now? He thought for a moment then picked up the lacrosse stick and the pocketknife. Using the little pliers on the pocketknife, he unscrewed the bolt holding the net on the end of the stick. The lacrosse stick was a hollow metal tube. The net had been on one end and on the other end was a rubber cap. Jeremy pulled off the rubber cap and blew air through the tube to make sure nothing was in it. Then he retrieved his snorkel and pulled the curved mouthpiece off the end of the extension tube. Picking up the lacrosse stick he fitted the snorkel mouthpiece over the end of the stick. It fit nicely.

He dug out his mask and fins and quietly made his way down to the water. He didn’t want Fuji with him on this mission. The extended snorkel worked fairly well. He had to use both hands to keep the free end up out of the water, but it allowed him to stay deeper and still breath. After trying it a few times, he dove for the tunnel. Not wanting anyone on the outside to see a light in the water, he only used the flashlight to find the tunnel and then shut it off as he swam through.

The moon was full that night. After being in the darkness of the cave, the moon gave plenty of light for Jeremy to see as he approached the open end of the tunnel. Cautiously he extended the end of the lacrosse stick up out the water and took a few silent breaths. He strained to see any movement around the edge of the pool. He waited for several minutes breathing though the lacrosse stick but didn’t see anything move. Finally convinced, he surfaced slowly and quietly. He stayed in the shadow of the wall and made his way to the edge of the pool. Carefully he lifted his head above the edge of the pool and looked around. Nothing. He breathed a sigh of relief and pulled himself up onto the edge. He tossed his mask, fins and the long snorkel on the grass next to the pool. Then he set out in his bare feet to climb to the top of the bowl. There were sharp rocks and thorns everywhere and his feet were already sore from his run through the desert earlier, but he had no choice. He had to take a look from the top.

As he neared the top, he got down on his stomach and crawled the last few feet. Slowly he lifted his head and looked around. The desert was bathed in moonlight. There wasn’t enough light to reveal colors but there was plenty to make out shapes. Jeremy scanned the horizon, nothing seemed out of place or unusual. He stood up, took a deep breath of the fresh air, and was just heading back down the slope when the THWACK, THWACK, THWACK of a helicopter suddenly shattered the silence of the desert.

The chopper appeared directly over him as it came over the edge of the wall. Jeremy ducked towards the wall then tripped and rolled two or three times before smashing into the wall. His arm stung from the fall but he didn’t dare move to look at it. He pressed himself up against the wall and hoped the roving spotlight of the helicopter couldn’t find him. The chopper was flying low and going slow, it’s bright light moving back and forth across the desert floor. The light stopped and focused on the pool at the bottom of the bowl for a time then began working its way towards Jeremy. They must have seen his snorkel and were now following his wet footprints!

Jeremy was trapped. If he ran they would see him for sure. If he stayed where he was the light would surely find him. He looked down at his body. His wet swimsuit was caked with mud. That’s it! he thought and began scooping handfuls of loose dirt and gravel onto himself. He rubbed dirt on his hair and face. He wiggled into the dirt as far as he could and willed himself to become a part of the earth. The circle of light was getting closer. He grabbed dirt in both hands, closed his eyes and rubbed the dirt on his eyelids. Then he lay perfectly still.

The THWACK, THWACK, THWACK of the helicopter continued. Jeremy didn’t dare open his eyes. Were they stopping? Was that the light he could feel on him? He could feel the dirt and debris kicked up by the choppers rotors but he didn’t move. THWACK, THWACK, THWACK! The noise seemed to be moving. Jeremy opened his eye just a crack. The helicopter had passed him and was now following the road along the edge of the wall.

Jeremy jumped and ran for the pool. He jumped in feet first, ducked his head under to wash off the mud, and then grabbed his gear and began pulling it on. The sound of the helicopter was growing louder again! He grabbed the long snorkel, took a deep breath and dove for the tunnel.

Jeremy couldn’t remember every swimming so fast. His lungs felt like they would burst before he could surface. Even so, he used his first breath of air to scream for Fuji when he surfaced inside the cave. Not waiting for a response, he swam for the beach again at top speed. He was so anxious to get to Fuji and get out that it wasn’t till his feet hit the sand and he pulled off his mask that he noticed an eerie green glow lighting the cave.

He looked up at the cracks in the cave’s ceiling trying to find the source of the green glow. Only bright, white moonlight streamed in. Where was the green coming from? Jeremy was torn. He had to get them out of the cave now, but was the green glow? Where was it coming from? Was there another way out? Fuji snorted in Jeremy’s ear and he made up his mind.

“We’ve got to get out of here!” he said to Fuji. The dinosaur sensed Jeremy’s fear and pawed the sand.

Jeremy ran to the lacrosse bag. He pulled the snorkel end off the long stick and put the lacrosse head back in place. Then he pulled on the shoulder pads, arm pads, and the black practice jersey. He strapped his sandals back on and retrieved the helmet from the back of the cave where Fuji had last whacked it. He pulled it on. It was a little big, but it would do. He grabbed the rope halter and started toward Fuji.

Fuji backed away. “C’mon boy, it’s me!” Jeremy said. Fuji still shied away. Frustrated, Jeremy took the helmet off, got Fuji’s halter on and then put the helmet back on. He pulled on the gloves, picked up the long stick, and taking Fuji’s reins in his hand walked into the water. When Fuji was deep enough, Jeremy swung up on his back. Once they were out in the lake Jeremy looked to the far end of the cave. A bright green glow was emanating from high on the cave wall. What was it? Jeremy could resist no longer. Fuji was heading for the tunnel but Jeremy pulled him the direction, toward the glow.

Within a few minutes they were at the far end of the lake. The green glow was much brighter. Jeremy looked up and could still see the white of the full moon through a crack in the ceiling directly above them, but the green glow coming from high up on the cave wall was brighter than the moonlight.

Jeremy looked to the source of the glow. It seemed to be coming from a small cave or hole in the wall about twenty feet above water level. From below, the hole looked to be about six feet in diameter.

Jeremy eyed the rock wall below the hole looking for a way up. There was a small ledge about eighteen inches wide a few feet above the water level. Above that he could see a few handholds and some cracks that he might be able to follow to the cave above. What about the helicopter and Stutts? a small voice in his head said, but something drew him to the green light. He sensed it might some how be helpful.

Bringing Fuji up to the wall, he laid the lacrosse stick on the ledge then carefully took off his gloves, helmet and arm pads and put them on the narrow ledge as well. Climbing off Fuji’s back, he stepped onto the ledge.

“Wait right here boy,” he said to Fuji. “This will just take a minute. I have to see what it is.”

Jeremy turned to the wall and began ascending. He had climbed with his brothers but never without ropes. He looked down at the water. If he fell, he hoped he could push out enough to miss the ledge and make it into the water.

There was a trickle of water running down the wall, just enough to make it slippery. After climbing several feet he wished he had taken off the shoulder pads. They restricted his arm movement, but he was too high now to go back down. He shoved one of his sore feet sideways into a crack and grimaced as he shifted his weight onto it before reaching up to feel for another grip. The arm he had fallen was scraped raw by the dirt and sand. It now stung as sweat and water mixed with the blood. He had almost convinced himself this was taking too long and he should give up when his left hand finally reached the opening of the hole. He pulled himself up with a groan and immediately forgot about his aches and pains.

The little cave he sat in appeared to be carved out of the solid rock of the wall. Its floor was nearly flat and was in the shape of a large half-circle. At it’s deepest point the little cave extended six or seven feet into the rock. In the center of the floor was a small pool, about two feet across. The moonlight from the crack in the main cave ceiling entered the small cave at just the right angle to fall directly onto the pool. The pool was filled with a substance that glowed fluorescent green. Jeremy held his hand over the pool to block the moonlight. In the shadow of his hand the liquid looked like ordinary water. He removed his hand and it began to glow again. The glow of the substance was brighter than the moonlight that caused it to glow. Jeremy was so mesmerized by the liquid that it took him a few moments to notice the reflection the pool threw on walls of the little cave.

There were figures, like hieroglyphics, but they weren’t painted on the walls. They were formed by the reflections from the little pool. Jeremy held out his hand and blocked a portion of the moonlight again. Part of the drawing disappeared.

“Amazing!” he whispered. He studied the drawings. On the far left there was a pile of bones. Jeremy could make out a skull in the pile that looked just like Fuji’s. Next to the bones there was a picture of a pool of water. In the middle of the pool, there was a small tree or plant that looked like it was growing right out of the water. Next to the pool, on the opposite side of the bones, there was a picture of a mountain that rose several feet up the wall of the small cave. Jeremy tried to move further into the cave to take a better look and inadvertently kicked a pebble into the pool.

The pictures on the wall began to shimmer as the ripples of the pebble spread through the little pool. The bones began to move!

As the ripples of the pebble subsided, the bones stopped moving. Had they really moved? Jeremy wondered. They looked closer to the pool now. Jeremy looked around for another pebble and tossed it into the pool on the floor. The ripples were bigger this time and the drawings came to life.

The bones lifted off the ground, floated toward the drawing of the pool with the tree growing out of it, and then settled into it. A moment later a dinosaur that looked just like Fuji emerged from the same pool. A tingle went down Jeremy’s spine. Then a man emerged from the pool, climbed on the dinosaur’s back and the two of them began climbing the mountain. Jeremy rubbed his eyes, not trusting what he was seeing. When the little dinosaur and man reached the top of the mountain, they approached a lone tree. The tree had no limbs or leaves. In fact, it was just a stump. Reaching the stump, the dinosaur stopped and the picture again became lifeless. Jeremy tossed several more pebbles into the pool in an attempt to make the drawing move again. Nothing happened.

He sat back and stared at the drawing trying to figure out what it meant. Fuji snorted below. Jeremy shook his head like he was waking from a dream. “We’ve got to get out of here,” he reminded himself. He took one last look at the drawing attempting to memorize every detail. Then he turned and looked down at the water. It was a long way down but there was no choice. He stood up, pinched his nose closed, then leapt out of the little cave. He was glad he still had his sandals on when his feet slapped the surface of the water. Swimming quickly he made his way back to the ledge, donned his equipment, and climbed on Fuji.

“We’re going to have to come back here boy,” he said. “But right now, we’ve got a family to save.” He pulled the reins around and Fuji headed for the tunnel. Fuji sensed the urgency and took off so fast Jeremy had to drop down on his back and wrap one arm around his neck. Just before they dove for the tunnel Jeremy took one last look over his shoulder at the green glow.

As they approached the outside world, Jeremy pulled back on Fuji’s reins and slowed him to a stop. Though he didn’t have a mask on, he wanted time to look up through the water before they surfaced. Fuji resisted but Jeremy continued to pull back on the reins and tried to hold him down till the last possible moment. A shadow passed over them. Jeremy looked up and caught the beam of a flashlight flitting about. There was someone there! Now was the time! Jeremy pulled up on the reins and tapped Fuji on the sides. The dinosaur’s muscles bulged under him. He had to hold on with both hands to avoid being torn off as they shot up through the water and out into the air. There was no falling back into the water this time.

Fuji landed on the ground three feet from the pool’s edge and within striking distance of a very surprised and terrified thug. With water still gushing from his helmet and pads, Jeremy slashed down with his lacrosse stick and knocked a gun out of the man’s hands. Then he pulled Fuji quickly to the left. The man bent down to pick up his gun and Fuji’s tail caught him in the head knocking him back four or five feet. The man landed on his back and didn’t get up. Jeremy slid off Fuji’s back and walked cautiously toward him, his stick ready. He poked the man hard in the side. There was no response.

Quickly, Jeremy retrieved the gun then ran over to the hay. He pulled the bailing wire off one of the bails before running back to the man. He rolled the man over and tied his hands behind him then tied his feet. He pulled off the man’s shoes. One of his socks had a huge hole in it and the man’s big toe stuck out.

“Your mom would be so disappointed!” Jeremy muttered as he pulled the sock off and tied it around the man’s mouth to keep him quiet. He attempted to drag the man to the hay to hide him, but could hardly budge him. Fuji came to the rescue. He grabbed the man with his claws and tossed him into the hay like an old lacrosse bag.

“Wow!” Jeremy exclaimed in admiration, “we might pull this off yet.” He moved the bales to hide the man and sprinkled loose hay over the top of him.

“That dude is going to wake up with a big headache and nasty breath!” Jeremy said, and then added, “Hopefully it will be in the Lincoln County Jail. C’mon boy, let’s go get the rest of ‘em!”

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