(This is chapter five of a children’s book I’m serialising on here. Chapters one through four can be read here).
Holly was very, very careful with her investigation. She didn’t know if she’d gone into the past or the future — although she thought it was probably the past, because that was the way she’d gone with her first little trip in her own bedroom — and she wasn’t sure if she could change the past. The last thing she wanted was to get back to her own time and find out she’d never been born because she’d stepped on the wrong snail. Cleaning the squished remains of what would have been your great-great-great-great-great and ten million more greats grandmother off the sole of your shoe is not a fun way to spend a day.
So, since she’d found herself in a forest, she decided to clamber through the trees rather than on the floor. She convinced herself that this was entirely to stop the past from being changed in horrible ways, and not at all because it was a lot more fun. The trees, though, weren’t like the trees near Holly’s house, they were all prickly and full of things that looked like pine cones but weren’t. Holly eventually decided that rather than climb from tree to tree like she’d planned, she’d just climb up to the top of one and see what she could see.
Holly got to the top of the tree fairly quickly, and looked out. Over to her left, she could see a big white dome with the letters T.I.A. written on it and a few cars outside. That settled it — she was in the future, not the past, and she could step on as many bugs as she liked.
She climbed down again, and started walking further into the forest, looking around curiously. She must be very far into the future indeed, as she didn’t recognise any of the types of trees she could see, and it was much hotter than she would expect even on a summer day. Clearly the global warming people kept talking about had happened, but surely trees couldn’t change this much? Holly decided to pull a couple of leaves off some of the trees, to show her teacher when she went back to school, in case he could tell her what type of trees they were.
Holly had just tucked the leaves of three different types of tree neatly into her pocket when she felt a rumbling and heard a thumping noise, coming from the edge of the forest, near where the Tempus had landed. She ran back to the Tempus, to make sure it was unharmed, but it looked fine. The noise was louder, though, and there was a strange honking sound coming from the same direction, so Holly continued on to the edge of the forest, where she saw the scariest, most exciting, thing she’d ever seen.
Towering above her, taller than many of the trees, and feeding on one of them, was a gigantic apatosaurus. The dinosaur was even bigger than the skeletons that Holly had seen at the museum, and was a lot scarier in real life, even though it was paying Holly no attention.
But how could a dinosaur be here, in the future? Holly had seen for herself that there was a human building not too far away. Maybe it was like the films they showed on TV on bank holidays, and it was a clone that had been brought back to life, or they’d found it in some hidden region of the jungle.
Holly hid behind a tree and looked at it for a long time, stifling a giggle when it did the biggest, smelliest, poo she’d ever seen in her life. This was the best day of her life! First she’d built a real working time machine, and now she was looking at a real life dinosaur. This would be something to write about in the “what I did in the holidays” essays the teachers always made the class write every year, and it would be a lot better than smelly Phil Jobling writing about going to Disneyland again.
Holly was just starting to wonder if she could get in the Tempus, go home, get a camera, and come back, when she heard another noise, one she recognised a lot better than the dinosaur noises — it was a car engine.
She stayed hidden behind the tree as a Jeep drove up, and four men with guns got out and shot the dinosaur. It was the most horrible thing she’d ever seen, and she screamed.
As soon as she screamed, the men started running towards her, and so Holly ran herself, as fast as she could, back to the Tempus. She jumped in, and turned the handle back to its original position, closing her eyes as tightly as possible so she wouldn’t feel dizzy again, as she had in the journey to the forest.
When she opened her eyes again, she was back in her bedroom, but something was different. The Tempus was making a high-pitched whining noise. She quickly jumped out of the machine, and not a moment too soon — the second she was out of the Tempus, the engine shook and disappeared, leaving the rest of the time machine without its most important part. The machine collapsed into a heap, reduced to its component parts.
Holly had no time machine, and no-one would believe her about her trip — after all, she was in her bedroom, and had had to close her eyes to get anywhere, so they’d probably say she was just dreaming. It would take her months to be able to find replacements for the missing parts, and until she did, she couldn’t tell anyone what had happened. She had no proof at all.
Except for the three leaves in her pocket…