No, I don't dislike Rose...She's so sweet and loving...Maybe that's why she broke away from Cal...He would've drained her of everything good and true... But she's been so secretive about her past...Was she really on Titanic? Then she must have run into my great-uncle Joseph...he's Alan's great-grandfather...Did they really find the skull? This drawing is amazing...Wonder who did it?
Finding a quiet moment within the cramped confines of the trailer she shared with Ellie, Carson dug out the worn leather portfolio that contained writings and drawings more than eighty years old. There they were, great-uncle Joseph's notes on the skull, his theories, and other musings. Tucked within was the many drawings, most done by Joseph Grant's hand, but one drawing captured Carson's attention more than anything. It was a skillfully rendering of an aged styracosaur, obviously modeled after the lost skull. It was female, so noted Margaret Grant in a hastily scribbled letter dated April 20, 1912; that letter was attached to the drawing. Apparently Meg found out from an as yet unnamed source that the animal was female. Carson surmised that it had to be Rose who revealed this information.
She studied the drawing closely. The yet-to-be-known early 20th Century artist captured the dinosaur so perfectly – so unlike the stilted, clumsily rendered portraits of the time. Portrayed was a dinosaur of dignity and strength. Within the deeply wrinkled face and smallish eyes there was also a spark, a great deal of spunk and spit that made Carson smile every time. This was a wise woman, Carson thought as her eyes traveled to the signature and date: "JD, April 13, 1912."
"And, who," asked Carson under her breath, "is 'JD'? Did this person go down with the ship?"
"Mumbling to yourself again, Carson?" This was Ellie Sadler, the premier paleobotanist who befriended Carson a few years ago. It was on a dig with cousin Alan, in the Badlands, where she met Ellie. Alan and his team had just uncovered raptor remains, and that dig was heavily funded by John Hammond, a wealthy elderly industrialist. Funny, thought Carson, that Hammond showed up that day with a proposition for Ellie and Alan. Something about a new cutting edge venture that needed their stamp of approval. Carson didn't press either one about this highly secret mission, as she, of course, was not included. So, Alan and Ellie left that weekend, leaving the dig on hold.
But when they returned, odd and unsettling stories filtered back about that island...
Neither Alan nor Ellie would tell me a thing...Three people lost their lives on that island; then my cousin, and my friend, were sworn to secrecy. Wonder what happened?
Shortly after that ill-fated weekend, Alan took some time off; so did Ellie. Carson vividly remembered Ellie experiencing horrible nightmares. Even Alan, always the calm and cool one, became jumpy and irritable. Whatever happened, it profoundly changed two people who Carson loved and cherished so deeply. But that was all in the past...
Funny still, thought Carson, that when the news of the skull came, they discovered that one of the principal underwriters of Brock Lovett's Titanic salvage expedition was none other than John Hammond. All three scientists received direct communiqués from Hammond, and he also expressed interest in the skull – and finding out the identity of the mystery artist. Carson greeted Ellie as she closed the portfolio.
"Ellie, it's this news about the skull that intrigues, and unsettles,
me. I haven't seen Rose in years, not since that time we ran into her on
the way to my first dig..."
Ellie said no more other than, "Carson, Hammond is due here shortly. We'll have to close shop for the weekend before taking that trip to the Keldysh. For what it's worth, even I'm intrigued with Lovett's discovery. Whatever secrets that skull held remained buried at the bottom of the Atlantic for more than eight decades."
Carson then said, "I wonder what it was like?"
"What what was like?," asked Ellie.
"The styracosaur, silly. I wonder what kind of life it led, what kind of stories it would tell us if it was here today..."
If only she hadn't shared those frightful visions then everything wouldn't be all topsy-turvy. None of this "seeing and hearing things" nonsense. And Eema wouldn't have to fret so...
What a time for Eema to disappear on us! And for what? So she could see for herself what the distant future holds for her? The great flying reptile glanced about the gathering of dinosaur and lemur families, those who had just witnessed a profound vision. Seems Baylene, the aged brachiosaur, was the first to "see" it – that thing Sarama drew in the mud just yesterday. Only this time it appeared in the clouds above, and Eema's image appeared with it. Couple that with what the pteranosaur saw on the way back to the Nesting Grounds. Flying over the sea, she saw "it" – the very foreign looking structure gliding across the smooth water. She saw creatures on it, and Eema was with them! Now, with Eema missing, there was call for alarm.
What if it was, as Yar so gently put it, Eema's time? What if Eema went off to die? That's what was on everyone's mind the moment Baylene called everyone's attention to the odd cloud formation – the clouds took the shape of the very thing Sarama described seeing in one of her prophetic dreams. Then again, as Aladar put it, what if we all have the ability to foresee events of the far-off future?
Eema took a wheezing breath as she settled within the dense shrubbery. It was quite a climb to this special place within the Nesting Grounds. She showed it to Aladar those few years ago, after Baylene broke through the cave wall thus uncovering the alternate route to the Grounds. Old Gotoma, a legendary dinosaur who discovered the Nesting Grounds long before Eema was even born...
Eema told Aladar about Gotoma's belief that the Nesting Grounds held rejuvenating, revitalizing powers. However, in subsequent generations, especially those who survived the Fireball, most of the Herd lost faith. Eema herself lost that faith and spirit until Aladar's timely arrival that fateful year. What wonderful things Aladar brought to the Nesting Grounds, and to the Herd. The spirit, camaraderie, the joy of life itself returned with renewed vigor and passion under Aladar's leadership. And now, in the face of unsettling visions and unanswered questions, Eema felt that it had to be Gotoma's very spirit calling out to everyone. Maybe, somewhere within the great beyond, Gotoma foresaw those tragic events himself and came to Sarama in that dream. Perhaps, in some way, he is giving everyone a hint of the everlasting legacy yet to come.
"But why did I hear them screaming? Why did I feel the icy waters closing
in on them? Why did I hear that young boy tell that lovely girl not to
let go?," Eema said out loud to the old dry bones enshrined upon the rock
wall. Her voice quavered as her mind conjured images from a dream she had
last night. In that dream she saw herself there among the 1500 souls
Sarama described. Eema saw the young couple who would in truth be the catalyst
to her lasting legacy. She met and spoke with the man who, in the distant
future, would become so obsessed with the skull's secrets.
Then she spoke to the girl, Rose, who, on that fateful ocean voyage, would carry with her the bittersweet memories of a love lost. But, in the end. Rose promised Jack she would not ever let go...But she's letting some of Jack's, along with my, legacy fall by the wayside...I felt that in my dream...Why would she hold back? Both Jack and I have a chance of letting the world know us as we really were...
"Eema," called an aged voice, which shook the old ceratopsian out of her reverie. At first, Eema thought it was old Gotoma calling out to her – something that only Sarama, the clairvoyant hadrosaur, would experience firsthand. But no, it was Yar the lemur patriarch, and one of Eema's best friends.
Yar, a grizzled old primate, ambled forth, expressing gratitude that he found Eema alive and well. "Whew," he said with halting breath, "that climb is tougher than I thought...Hey..."
Catching his breath again, he continued, "Eema, we were worried about you. We thought – Well, what with Sarama's visions, then Baylene and Delsie experiencing strange apparitions and voices..."
"They saw and heard things, too?," asked Eema, by now concerned that perhaps old Gotoma's ghost was actually haunting the Nesting Grounds. Perhaps he is here after all, with us, giving us a glimpse into the far off future...
Yar glanced up at Gotoma's enshrined remains and said, "You know, old girl, I thought you'd be here. Sometimes I wonder if old Gotoma's presence is still felt, eons after he first arrived here. You told us the legend of Gotoma..."
"And," Eema finished, "I believe his presence is very much alive, in all of us...Why else would all of us – not just Sarama who has the gift – be experiencing something that won't happen for millions of years to come?"
Then, to Yar, Eema finally said, "I hope, in that distant time, the
girl Sarama and I keep seeing in our dreams, the one who spoke to Baylene
this morning, comes to her senses and brings this whole tragedy to an absolution..."
GO TO CHAPTER 6
Copyright©2002 by P.R. Parker ("Sarama")