The Last of Her Kind

Chapter Three

Alone in the cave, Baylene discovers she's NOT alone! Who is this?

The brachiosaur was stunned the moment she laid eyes upon the imposing form before her. How can this be? Impossible! She scrutinized every inch of this approaching creature; she reminded herself that this had to be a figment of her imagination. Baylene's eyes took in every detail of this strange apparition. If this is my mind playing tricks on me then what I see is so real, so lifelike. 
The elderly brachiosaur wanted to say something but the creature spoke first. "No, Baylene, you are not dreaming or imagining. I am here for you, to comfort you. For you see, Sarama has fulfilled her promises, but she has yet to fulfill her destiny. You have already fulfilled yours, Baylene, but the best is yet to come..." 

The creature drew closer into the light. Baylene craned her head downwards, saying in a hushed voice, 


Adah, Sarama's grandmother, the old parasaurolophus who so many decades ago prophesied trials by fire and pestilence. To Baylene, Adah appeared as in her prime -- soft brown eyes, graceful carriage, the long headcrest arching to the sky. Adah had been dead more than three decades, yet here she was, in the flesh. No, thought Baylene, she is here in spirit...There was always something different about her family...

 "Baylene, there is a reason why you didn't go back with Neera...There is a reason why you came here last night," Adah began. "You felt that power calling you in the night...That same power that guides us all. Baylene, my good friend, I can reveal only this...What awaits after this life is so beautiful..." 
Adah fell silent as she guided Baylene through the cave's exit. The brachiosaur became somewhat alarmed as she noticed, from a distance, the gathering of dinosaur and lemur hanging onto Sarama's every word. 
"They know everything, Adah," she said, turning back towards the cave's interior, but Adah wasn't there. 

It's as if she vanished into thin air; but wait, someone else approached Baylene. The brachiosaur blinked again. What exactly is going on here? Another creature, this one looking very much like Baylene, picked its way through the cave, ducking every now and then to avoid stalactites. Baylene stared at this entity; her jaw dropped in disbelief, but there she was, as fresh and vibrant before the epidemic... 

A thunderstruck Baylene stood motionless as the tall graceful brachiosaur began to speak. "Mother, don't you know me?"
 "Gemma? But you are...."
 "Dead? I assure you I am NOT alive, at least not physically..." 

Baylene, now near tears, stunned beyond all reason, couldn't quite fathom the things happening to her. O how she wanted to run to Gemma, to embrace her only daughter once again. Fighting back tears, and in a voice quaking with emotion, "But...What is...Why is this happening to me? Gemma, Adah was here..."

 "And she was here last night, Mother. So was Father...and Aunt Ember, and Aunt Amber..." 

Gemma, a young high-spirited green-eyed brachiosaur, not quite as tall as her mother, finally said, "Darling Mother, it is not your time, but it is a chance to reflect upon a life well-lived. We never had a chance to tell you how much we loved you, and to thank you for everything you sacrificed...." 
Noticing her mother's uneasiness, the expression of utter shock and bewilderment, Gemma instead turned Baylene's attention to a past event, when the entire family met a little parasaurolophus named Sarama. 

"You and Father were drinking at the stream. I went off with Aunts Ember and Amber...The Herd just returned from this very place, and a little one broke loose from her family..." 

Baylene, still fighting back tears, smiled and said, "The poor thing was nearly trampled...Always, Quivier had to warn our neighbors to look out for the young ones..." 


Now, let us travel back about forty years. Ah, the warm lush southern lands await the weary travelers...and a fateful meeting...
"Hey, Sarama! Race ya to the river!"

The little parasaurolophus children, upon seeing the river up ahead, sprinted from their parents' sides and bolted towards the water. Not that it was a particularly toilsome journey from the Nesting Grounds, rather the long trek south made the youngsters restless. All that traveling, having to stay close to the adults, watching for predators. Sarama and her playmates literally itched for that bit of freedom, a chance to let loose all that youthful energy and curiosity. At last they found that freedom once Mother Adah gave them permission to play. 

"Watch where you're going, children!," Adah called out to their now-vanishing forms. "Say 'Excuse me' and 'Thank you'...." 

Adah smiled as her mate, Japhet, and her daughter Ola, joined her on the way to the river. "Ooh, I can use a nice cool drink myself," said the family patriarch. Papa Japhet, as all the children called him, ambled alongside his mate of more than fifty years. He surveyed the rich green beauty of the southern lands. Ah! How refreshing is this place, with its endless meadows, tropical forests, and clear river meandering from the more expansive lake further upstream. 
That is where the brachiosaurs gather, he thought, which reminded Japhet of his social obligations. He said to Adah, "Come, my love, for we must pay a visit to Quivier's family. You said on the way here that...." 

It was Ola's turn to speak. "That Momma had a flash...Another vision concerning Baylene and her sisters....O Papa, what if it is true? That Kenric is coming home...?" 

The trio neared the riverbank and watched as the youngsters sped further upstream. From this distance, Japhet could see the brachiosaurs' heads rise amidst the tallest of trees. "O, they raise their heads so majestically, so reverently, as if they can touch the heavens, reaching for that unseen power that sustains us...," he said before Adah dropped back and let out a gasp. 
"Momma," asked a suddenly alarmed Ola, "what it is?" 

Once again, Adah, the prophetic parasaurolophus, had a flash of foreboding. This she would only share: "My dears, there are troubling times ahead....Baylene, Quivier...Oh, our darling Sarama..." 

Then, "Our little girl's, and Baylene's, future is about to unfold..." 


Meanwhile, further upstream....
The lake, while not as large as the one in the Nesting Grounds, teemed with activity. Herds of dinosaurs of all kinds -- styracosaurs, triceratops, hadrosaurs, iguanodons, gallimimus -- gathered around the lake and flowing river. They grazed in the meadows, fed upon the myriad conifers, ferns, and something new: flowering plants. Enormous pteranadons soared overhead while down by the riverbank, several dinosaurian youngsters darted under gigantic brachiosaurs' pillar-like legs. 
One of the children, a little parasaurolophus named Sarama, somehow became distracted and chose to fall behind her playmates. She became fascinated by the reflections in the water. Sarama splashed about, laughing at the distorted images before her. Soon she saw something in that water distressed her, something that she remembered from a dream she had several weeks ago. 

But Mommy said it was just a bad dream; Grandma said that I might have the gift... 

Without looking where she was going, a frightened Sarama made a mad dash upstream only to hear a booming voice call out sharply, "Baylene! Watch your step! We have young ones afoot." 
Sarama stopped in her tracks and looked up in that voice's direction. Her jaw dropped as she beheld two of the most beautiful creatures she'd ever seen. Their towering, massive forms reached the sky; the ground trembled with their every step. The little parasaurolophus froze in her tracks and continued to stare up these magnificent creatures. They literally filled Sarama with such awe and wonderment. Just like Papa Japhet said, the brachs are only ones who can actually touch the stars... 

"Oh my dear, I'm so sorry; you seem a bit lost," softly said the female in a voice so cultured, so refined. Sarama thought that this was a very grand lady indeed! And she's so beautiful! The child stammered and apology but was so dumbstruck to say anything. "Uh...I...I'm sorry...."

 Sarama took a few steps back just to get an eyeful of the massive sauropod addressing her. But the fear melted the moment the brachiosaur spoke again; at once Sarama hopped up on a nearby rock and strained her neck to meet the brachiosaur at eye level. But the brach read the child's mind as she craned down her head, peered into the girl's eyes, and said, "My child, my mate always looks out for the little ones..." 
She stopped herself as she detected something in Sarama's face... Her eyes widened in amazement as she proclaimed, "You must be Adah's grandchild, Sarama." 
She turned to her mate and said, "Quivier, this is Sarama..." 

The gentleman brachiosaur nodded to his lady, "Ah, yes, Baylene, so she is...I say, one can detect the family resemblance." 
He bent down to a still-silent Sarama, laughed good-naturedly and gently told her, "Not to worry, dear little one, for we shan't allow our less-than-noble brethren trample you! " 
Still Sarama said nothing as her attention was momentarily distracted by even more brachiosaurs. This time, three females approached, one of which was decidedly younger than the others; she greatly favored Baylene. 

"Ah, Gemma, come and meet Mother Adah's darling grandchild ...," announced Baylene. Sarama only smiled politely as Baylene completed the introductions. She didn't know that brachiosaur had such a beautiful family. She met Baylene's mate Quivier; there were the sisters Amber and Ember, the twins as Baylene explained because they hatched at the same time. Then there was Gemma, Quivier and Baylene's sole surviving offspring; her parents doted on her for good reason. 
"We originally had six children. It was a difficult time for our kind," explained the sauropod patriarch. "So many of the young stricken ill; some died only hours upon hatching..." 

Quivier, remembering that merely mentioning the tragic loss triggered utter grief for Baylene, and the fact that he was explaining all to a mere child, quickly changed the subject the moment he espied three familiar figures approaching. 

"Ah, my dear," he said to Baylene, "it seems the weary travelers have returned..." 

Tender greetings and warm words were swiftly exchanged the moment Adah and her family met up with the brachiosaurs. It was Papa Japhet who noted, "I trust Sarama wasn't a bother."
 "Not at all, Japhet," replied Aunt Amber. "Your little bundle is the sweetest, prettiest child I've ever seen, and such polite manners!" 

Sarama only looked at the towering adults as they exchanged pleasantries and news from the Nesting Grounds and beyond. Oh what news! Another baby boom for the parasaurolophus, corythosaurs, styracosaurs, pachyrhinosaurs, and iguanodons; there were so many little dinosaurian children scampering about. 
Baylene's heart sank as she watched the little ones at play; her heart sank again as she watched her own kind age before her eyes. No, no more, for Gemma, lest she finds a mate, is the last generation... 

Her attention was brought to the present as Ola, after glancing about the grounds, inquired, "Quivier, where's Kenric?" 
Sarama's mother did not have to wait for an answer. The look of utter contempt in Baylene's eyes conveyed it all. Only sister Ember ventured, "He's gone, Ola. To where we don't know. Our brother said he needed to get away, and then he left us." 


Fast forward to the present...
"Whoa! Baylene's brother left the family! Why?" 
"What about the Great Sickness? Isn't that what killed Baylene's babies?" 
"And when did your grandmother predict the Fireball?" 

The questions came fast and furious as Sarama took a break from her recollection. She glanced up towards the cave and could see Baylene's regal form standing just within the cavern's mouth. What could be going through her mind, the parasaurolophus wondered. Sarama shuddered as she continued the story. But what Baylene is experiencing now will determine the elderly lady's ultimate destiny. 

Baylene will simply have to face her inner demons...Or die with all her pain buried within.

Come on, Baylene! Let it go! Let it ALL out! Someone will visit you yet today, and that entity will cause a flood of pent-up anger and bitterness to break free...

As she resumed her bittersweet recollections, Sarama's heart ached for Baylene. Oh yes, it's happening now.... 


To Chapter 4! 

CopyrightŠ2000 by "Sarama"

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