Landsquid was tentacle-deep in flour–it was Thursday, his weekly baking day–when his doorbell rang.
Most of his friends knew not to disturb him while baking was in progress, so it was either a stranger, or it was important. He didn’t bother de-flouring before tromping across his house to the front door.
It was Turtleduck. Landsquid looked down at her. A pile of flour gathered on the doorstep.
“Have you heard?” she said.
Turtleduck twisted her head one way, then the other. She leaned in. Landsquid was forced to lean in as well. “They say,” she whispered, “that the Alpaca is getting out soon.”
Landsquid had not seen his neighbor and arch-nemesis since the scone/knitting incident, as he called it in his head. How long had he been in his house now, alone except for his knitting and the ceiling turtles? What had happened in that time? What had happened to the poor ceiling turtles? Landsquid had a momentary terrible image of the Alpaca roasting them over open flame. Or knitting them into a sweater from which they never escaped.
“Is that a good idea?” he said.
Turtleduck shook her head so violently she almost overbalanced from the action. “What should we do?”
Landsquid rubbed one head fin before he remembered the flour. What should they do? They could go visit the Alpaca, he guessed, though the last time had been bad enough. Who knew what horrors lurked next door now? “Maybe we should go see the Future Dinosaur,” he said finally.
They went inside. While Landsquid de-floured, Turtleduck managed to roll several muffins into a basket as an offering for the Future Dinosaur. Landsquid had never personally seen the Future Dinosaur before, but it was said that she was infinitely wise, being a product of both the past, and the future.
Landsquid locked his house on the way out, just in case the Alpaca got out before he returned. The last thing he needed was to be ambushed by a probably insane arch-nemesis, possibly wielding scarves and gloves. Then he and Turtleduck walked down to the bus stop, caught the number 5, and took it all the way downtown.
The Future Dinosaur was usually found in a small out-building on the grounds of the city/county municipal building. Landsquid and Turtleduck left their names with a nervous platypus out front and sat down under a tree to wait to be called. Apart from the basket of muffins, Landsquid had also brought some Cheez-Its and cocoa in a thermos.
Though no one else came or went, it was half an hour before the platypus called them. Landsquid steeled himself outside the door. Hopefully the Future Dinosaur would have some advice for them, or would be able to help in some manner. Otherwise, this was going to be a waste of perfectly good muffins.
The platypus pushed the door open deliberately slowly. It was dark inside. Landsquid went in first, Turtleduck following less enthusiastically. Once inside, the door was shut behind them, and a low glow appeared, backlighting a table and whomever sat at it. The Future Dinosaur, if that’s who it was, was smaller than Landsquid had expected.
“Oh, great Future Dinosaur,” he said. “We have a problem that we desire your help with. Please accept these muffins as an offering of our sincerity.” Hopefully that sounded okay. Landsquid wished he’d looked up Future Dinosaur etiquette before, but there had never really been a reason to. He shuffled over to the table–the glow was increasing–and deposited the basket.
Up close, the Future Dinosaur was small. And very feathery.
“Cluck CLUCK,” said the Future Dinosaur.
Landsquid glanced at Turtleduck. Was that an invitation to continue? Landsquid explained the situation with the Alpaca. The Future Dinosaur was mostly quiet throughout, though she offered an encouraging “Cluck!” whenever Landsquid paused.
“What do you think?” Landsquid concluded finally.
The Future Dinosaur was silent for a moment, staring at the basket of muffins. Then she jumped on the table with a flap of her wings, knocked the basket over, and declared, “CluckcluckcluckCLUCK bawk cluckcluck,” and pecked the table four times.
Then she snagged a muffin and, with a ruffle of her feathers, disappeared.
Later, on the bus ride home, Landsquid mulled over the Future Dinosaur’s cryptic message while Turtleduck chattered on about how awesome the Future Dinosaur had been, and what an honor it had been to be in her presence, and how wise she had been about everything. Despite the wisdom of the message the Future Dinosaur had given him, he did not seem to be smart enough to be able to decipher it.
What would he do when he got home?
Well, maybe it would be obvious. Landsquid could only hope.