Day 312: Pterodactyl Ride

After a fifty-two minute wait, Danny Gleason climbed into the Pterodactyl rollercoaster car. He’d looked forward to this ride more than any other, even padding his shoes to make sure he’d make it over the height requirement.

“Hope you don’t have to pee,” teased his brother, Jesse.

“Stop it,” said Danny. He hadn’t noticed he had to until just then.

The chains pulled the line of cars up to the first drop.

“Look how high we are,” said Jesse. “We’re going higher than the Destroyer.”

“I’ve been this high before.”

“When?”

“Before.”

They reached the top and the cars slowed, the ones in the front starting to pull them forward, and for a terrifying moment it seemed they would tip over and fall to their deaths from the peak. They went over the top and plunged nearly straight down, fear turning to exhilaration. The momentum took them to the next rise, much faster up, and another plunge that straightened, then corkscrewed them through several twists ending in a turn with such G-forces that Danny’s vision started to turn white.

Up another incline, they slowed nearly to a stop, then sped up slightly over the hump, picking up speed, and the world went dark, then turned bright and hot. Instead of a rollercoaster car, they sat on a pile of sticks on the top of a breathlessly high mountain, the valley below a lush jungle.

“What…?” Danny couldn’t finish the sentence.

“I don’t know,” said Jesse.

A rustle made them turn to face two pterodactyls almost as big as themselves. They opened their mouths and squeaked. One nipped at Jesse, but he was just out of reach.

“Come on,” he said. He pulled Danny with him out of the nest onto solid rock. The pterodactyls peered over the edge, but didn’t pursue.

“Those are real pterodactyls, Jesse.”

Jesse grabbed Danny’s hand and scanned the sky. “I know. I think they’re the chicks. Stay with me.”

They explored the peak of the mountain, a flat area about as large as a tennis court, every side impossible to climb down.

“What do you think happened?” asked Danny.

“I don’t know. I keep thinking of the movies where people fall through holes in the space-time continuum, but it seems too babyish now.”

“Yeah—why would it only take us?”

“That’s right!” Jesse cupped the back of Danny’s neck. “That means there must be something special about us that made us come here.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know, but if we figure it out, maybe it will tell us how to get back.” Jesse grabbed Danny by the shoulders. “Stay close. Here comes mommy.”

Danny followed his eyes. A pterodactyl flew toward them, and as it approached it let out a screeching roar.

“It’s almost like a cartoon,” said Danny.

“Except it’s not.”

The reptilian bird alit on the rock and ducked low, examining them with cold, cruel eyes.

“Get behind me, Danny.”

“What are you going to do?”

“The only thing I can—”

The pterodactyl lunged toward them, and in his mind Danny saw his brother get snapped up and eaten.

“No!” Danny yelled and jumped to the side, screaming his lungs empty.

The pterodactyl flinched toward him and Jesse wrapped his arms around its neck, then kicked up, wrapping his legs around it, too. The bird lifted its talon to claw Jesse off.

“Jesse!” Danny ran and jumped, grabbing his brother and kicking at the talon.

The pterodactyl squawked and took flight, taking the boys up with it. It flew high, circled, then went into a dive, gliding just above the nest. Danny buried his face in his brother’s back. “Hold on, Jesse! Hold on!”

The rollercoaster jostled him and he pulled back from his brother. Down they plunged, faster than before. The boys grabbed the brace and smiled at each other.

The rollercoaster car pulled them into a long incline, sending them up for the final plunge.

“Why did we come back?”

“I have no idea, Danny.”

The roller coaster finished, and the dazed brothers walked down the exit ramp.

“Did that really just happen?” asked Jesse.

Danny smiled and shrugged. “Can we find a bathroom?”

“After that should we do it again?”

“Nah. I’m good.”

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