(Again, this is my flatmate’s fault. All. Hers.)
The worst thing about having been transformed into a T-Rex, Chess reflected, was not being able to make tea. If she twisted her reptilian body just so, she could just about manage to flip the switch on the kettle, but adding fresh water, picking up the kettle, fetching a mug: impossible.
The worst thing about having been turned into a small sauropod, Pudu reflected, was the inability to get into pyjamas. She missed pyjamas. That and getting into her flat. And not having her flatmate attempt to eat her. She remembered that that was quite pleasant. And normal. She missed normal.
All in all, this dinosaur lark was a bore.
By his count, it’s the fourteenth pine nut to fall on his head. There may have been more while he was still asleep, but even the fourteen is enough, in his estimation, to justify a bit of a roar. Not a “you’ve stolen my mate and thereby threaten the extinction of my species” roar, but a more minor “if you don’t cut that out I’m going to eat you and enjoy it even if I am a vegetarian” roar. As he looks up, he sees an Archaeopteryx sprawled out on a tree branch. The Archaeopteryx hops up, shaking its head as if to clear it and jumping back up to the tallest branch on the tree that will hold its weight. With a head-to-tail ruffle of its feathers, the bird takes a running start off the branch and flaps its wings as hard as it can. He can’t seem to produce enough lift to stop his descent and he lands on the same branch as before, knocking off another pine nut. Douglasaurus watches it as it falls, opening his mouth and catching it delicately between his teeth.
“Hullo there,” he calls as he chews. “What are you doing?”
Another ruffle of feathers as the bird runs down the branch again. “Try…ing….to” huge gust of air as he leaps off his perch “FLY!” His efforts are met with just as little success as before.
Douglasurus laughs at the look on his face as he falls. “Well, you’ll never do it that way,” he says. “You have to wait a bit to build up enough lift.”
Another dull thud. “What does a Stegosaurus know about flying?” the bird asks.
“More than you, apparently” he replies with a laconic swish of his tail. “I’ve been around the volcano once or twice. I know whereof I speak. When you jump, hold your wings straight out to let them catch the air a bit before you start flapping. You have to have a cushion before you’ll get anywhere.”
The Archaeopteryx looks doubtful. “All the principles of flight say that flapping is necessary. And if I do it that way, I’ll fall. “
“You’re already falling! Flapping is necessary, but only after you have enough to push down against. So, you have to catch the air and then shove it down with your wings so it pushes against the ground and lifts you up.” All he gets in return is a dubious glance. “Look, I’ll stand right here. If you fall, you can land on me. I would recommend avoiding my plates; they’re a bit pokey for a landing.”
With a quick glance down at Douglasaurus’s considerable bulk, the bird seems to come to a decision. “Alright, I’ll try it. What have I got to lose anyway?”
“Exactly. Now, when you’re ready…”
Martryx hops up to the tallest branch, squares his shoulders and with one deep breath of air, leaps off. There’s a moment when Douglasaurus is sure he’s going to plummet again, his wings are still tucked close to his body, but then he seems to gather all his courage and extends them as far as they’ll reach. They catch the air and he falls somewhat more gently than before. When he finally starts flapping, it’s enough to push him up in small bursts, slowing his descent until he lands quite neatly between Douglasaurus’s neck between his third and fourth plates.
“Well done!” the Stegosaurus says. “Now just keep practicing and you’ll be flying with the pterodactyls in no time!”
The grin on Martryx’s face is wide enough to split his beak. “Thank you, thank you, thank you! That was exhilerating!”
With a gentle shake, Douglasaurus deposits him on the ground. “Now that I’ve imparted the secrets of the air to you, I wonder if you could do me a favor.”
“What is it? Anything, anything at all!”
Douglas looks at him, lowering his massive brows. “Find another tree to practice in. You’re interrupting my nap!”