Mozerika - Short Story

Mozerika: The First Journey

By: David Serra

It all began while I was writing in my electronic journal. Dad came home late that night with a new fossil. He placed it on the newspaper-covered kitchen table; I tried not to pay him attention and continued to write about my day.

“Hey, Andrew!” he called, “Check out what I found on my dig last week.”

I sighed and placed my laptop on the coffee table, slowly moving from the living room to the kitchen. The fossilized bone lying on the table looked more like a decaying baseball bat. I studied it with my eyes; Dad gently cleaned it off with a brush. My gaze went from the bone to the basement where he stored other dinosaur related findings.

“Wow, it’s…” I began, trying to find the words, “It’s, it’s… what is it exactly?”

“At first I thought it was the fibula of a young allosaur. Upon closer inspection, I realized this could be part of a new type of dinosaur we haven’t discovered yet.”

The excitement grew in Dad’s face; he examined the bone closer with a broad smile.

“Think about it, Andrew, we could go down in history,” he said in a giddy tone.

“Oh yeah Dad, that sounds… great.” I replied, fatally trying to sound enthused.

“Andrew,” Dad caught the tone in my voice, “This is exciting news! Don’t you find this exciting?”

“Oh, oh, oh yes. I do find this… interesting. It’s just, well… this is what you said last time when you found a shark’s tooth on the beach that you swore was a new type of shark and it turned out to be just a sand shark.”

Dad’s expression dropped. He could tell that I didn’t care for his profession and neither did Mom. I didn’t want to get into the reason why Mom left us to live with her sister so I changed the subject. I went up to him with a half-smile and gestured to the fossil.

“Want me to bring this to the basement?”

“No, no I’ll take care of it,” Dad said with a sigh.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m positive.” He squared his shoulders in an attempt at appearing less-disappointed. “So, what were you writing about?”

“Oh um, only about my day today,” I looked down at my hands, “I helped Carole at the library and worked in the garden a little.”

“Oh good, have you had dinner yet?”

“Yes, I had some of the leftover pizza from last night.”

“Oh, OK.”

Dad took the bone and went into the basement without looking at me. Guilt swelled up inside of me; I hoped I didn’t sound too unenthusiastic or rude. I started cleaning up the newspapers when thoughts of Mom came to mind. I shook my head in dismay and tried to block out the memory of her leaving. That’s when I noticed something rolling off the table towards the edge. I caught it before it hit the floor. In my hand was a red, tennis ball-sized, marble-like object. I hurried into the basement where Dad was putting the bone in a tank.

“Dad, what’s this?” I asked.

“What’s what?”

He turned towards me, his eyes widened when I showed him the ball-like object. He took it in both hands and examined it closely. Both of our gazes came to the bone in the tank where there was a round indent in the middle where the object fell out.

“What is it?” I asked again.

“Not sure. Wait a minute, I think there’s something written on it.”

Dad washed the object off in the sink and, with a sponge, wiped away the dirt and grime that stuck to it. We both examined the orb-like object and the strange lettering that was engraved into it.

“I’ll call Dr. Merek in the morning. Maybe he can shed some light on this.” Dad said.

“Dr. Merek?”

“He’s an archeologist, one of the best. I’ll shoot him an email right now.”

He handed the object back to me and ran to his office, shutting the door behind him.

I turned the object around in my hands, looking closely at the engravings. I stopped when I came to what looked like an engraving of a large tree house with a pteranodon, a type of long-beaked flying reptile, in it. Running a finger over it curiously, the object began to vibrate and glow bright reddish-orange. Before I had time to react a strange tingling feeling swept throughout my body, my vision blurred, and the object dematerialized in my hands… and so did I.

I fell to the floor with a grunt, dazed and aching. I laid there for what seemed like forever when I jerked awake. Sitting up I rubbed my head, my vision still blurry.

“Dad,” I groaned, “Something weird hap–.”

I stopped dead in my sentence when my vision cleared. I wasn’t in the basement anymore but rather in the middle of a huge tree house with different types of furniture, bookshelves, a telescope, and toys scattered all over the place. I shot up to my feet and wildly looked around; my gaze came to one of the windows. It was morning outside with an endless mile of flourishing jungle taking up the scenery. That’s when I noticed the heat in the air which felt sticky and humid. I rubbed my eyes and shook my head; I couldn’t believe this was happening.

“Where am I?” I asked out loud.

A loud screech from nearby startled me. I tumbled to the floor when a large gush of wind blew in from the entrance and knocked me down.

“Oh, hello there sir,” a sophisticated man’s voice said, “What brings you here?”

I looked towards the entrance to see where the man was. A massive pteranodon with glasses and a sweater vest was looking down at me inquisitively from the opening. I screamed and scrambled behind a couch, panting and frightened.

“Oh no, don’t be scared,” the Pteranodon said, “I won’t hurt you. I just want to know what you are doing up here?”

Shaking with shock I cautiously poked my head out from behind the couch. The Pteranodon smiled and settled on the carpet.

“Who-who-who-who, what-what-what-what, who what who what…” I tried to say. I shook my head and cleared my throat, trying to overcome my fright. “Who are you?”

“Wybert T. Pteranodon,” he said, “How about yourself?”

“Andrew Hawthmeyer,” I replied, still shaking, “Son of Dr. Joel Hawthmeyer. Tell me honestly, am I dead?”

“No, you must be new here. Would you like some tea?”

“No, thank you. Am I dreaming?”

“No, you are in Mozerika, the world of the prehistoric creatures.”

“Oh, that explains nothing.”

I slowly got up, my shaking progressively regressing and cautiously went over to a window to scan the scenery. The jungle that surrounded us was lavish and stretched for miles. Wybert came up to my side and followed my gaze.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” he asked.

“Yeah… I guess so.” I tried to sound modest but failed to hide my awe.

“You should see the whole place someday. So, where are you from, Andrew?”

“New Jersey, but my father usually travels all over the world.”

“Ah yes, you said your father was a doctor. What kind of doctor?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“Is it bad?”

I thought for a second.

“No, it’s just… OK, I’ll level with you; he’s a paleontologist.”

“Oh, that’s exciting.”

“Sort of, because, you see… no offense but where I come from you guys are–”

“We are extinct I know. That is very sad.” He interrupted.

I turned to Wybert in surprise. “You know about my world?”

“Oh yes, I have read a lot about it.”

“Read?”

I could feel my brain doing flip flops.

“Yes, I am an avid reader. I also teach geometry, astrology, and literature.”

“Oh… that’s neat.” I managed to reply, still baffled and shocked.

“Yes, thank you. You sure you don’t want that cup of tea?”

“No, no thanks. Look, how do I get home?”

“Do you have a spherikey?”

“What’s that?”

“Hold on one moment.”

Wybert went to one of the bookshelves and took out a large and thick encyclopedia. He flipped through the pages until he came to a picture of a red orb-like object with engravings on it. When he showed me the picture my memory was triggered.

“Hey! That’s the thing from my Dad’s fossil.”

“Your father found one?” Wybert asked, intrigued.

“Yeah, on his dig a week ago. It was lodged in a bone.”

“Oh, that is peculiar.”

Distant voices from somewhere in the jungle distracted me, they grew louder and nearer. From the window, I saw an Apatosaurus family, enormous dinosaurs with long necks and tails that were followed by a stegosaurus family, which were the size of buses with plates on their backs and spiky tails. Both dinosaur families approached the tree-house from below while Wybert put away the encyclopedia and looked around the floor.

“Do you still have the spherikey?”

“No, I don’t think so. One question, who are they?”

Wybert followed my gaze, the dinosaur families grew closer.

“My students, I almost forgot!”

He frantically started cleaning up the misplaced toys and picture books on the floor; I stood there as if rooted in place. That’s when I heard something roll across the floor; I turned around quickly and saw the spherikey roll towards the entrance. Without thinking I leaped out and grabbed for it. I missed and landed flat on my face, the spherikey rolled out of the entrance and fell down the stairs. I strained up and stumbled down the stairs to the ground level where I came face to face with a young stegosaurus.

“Hi?” I asked gingerly.

The young stegosaurus titled his head at me with a confused look. From behind me, I heard Wybert approach us.

“Dario, I would like you to meet Andrew,” Wybert said. “He’ll be joining us for class today.”

“What is that thing?” I heard another voice say from behind Dario. It sounded like a young boy’s voice. The young Apatosaurus was partway to us and stared at me intently.

“His name is Andrew, Lewis,” Dario said, turning towards the Apatosaurus. “I think he’s Mr. Wybert’s assistant.”

Lewis came up to his side and stretched out towards me, sniffing.

“He smells funny.”

“Lewis, what did I say about that?” Wybert warned.

“It’s OK,” I said. “I’ve been sweating bullets for the past few minutes.”

“Is this yours?” Dario asked and picked up the spherikey in his beak. He placed it in my hands, drool and all.

“Thank you.” I managed to say without hiding my disgust.

Dario snickered in response.

Wybert led us to a large classroom-like place next to the tree-house; I staggered over to one of the couches. I sat down and wiped the spherikey off with my shirt when I noticed a towering Apatosaurus staring down at me from the window.

“Are you Wybert’s new assistant?” She asked.

I stammered nonsensically before Wybert clarified, “Yes Mrs. Bronta, Andrew is here to help.”

“What is he?” she asked.

“He’s a human being.”

“Is he a safe creature?”

“Yes, I’m safe.” I got up towards the window, holding out the spherikey. “Do either of you know how this thing works?”

“What are you trying to do with it?” Wybert asked.

“I’m trying to figure out how to get home.”

“You need to figure out the code to do that.”

I continued to fumble with it, Wybert turned back to Mrs. Bronta to talk with her. My attention turned towards Lewis and Dario who were chatting with one another. They talked the way middle-graders do before the teacher starts the lesson, ecstatic and excited. I couldn’t help but crack a small smile; I sat back down on the couch. I closely studied the engravings on the spherikey, that’s when I noticed something strange. In the place of the tree-house, there was what looked like a door with an orb in the center of it. I stared at it when a shrill but pleasant female voice sounded off in my ear.

“Hi there.” the voice squeaked loudly.

I jumped and nearly dropped the spherikey. Turning towards the voice I saw a young parasaurolophus, a biped dinosaur with a crescent fin on top of her head, leaning on the couch’s armrest smiling at me.

“Hello, who are you?” I asked.

“I’m Polly, who are you?”

“I’m Andrew.”

She giggled cheerfully and said, “Nice to meet you, Andrew.”

“Same,” I replied with a cautious look.

Wybert came up to us, the dinosaur parents starting to leave. I noticed Mrs. Bronta casting me a suspicious look; it sent a shiver down my spine. She and the other dinosaur parents disappeared into the jungle, Mrs. Bronta reminded me of Mom. I tried not to think of that when Wybert spoke up. “All right students please take your seats, the class is about to begin.”

Dario, Lewis, and Polly all did so, Wybert gestured me to come to his side. I showed him the picture on the spherikey and he looked at it closely.

“Oh, that’s perfect,” he said, “You need to insert the spherikey into the door and you’ll be home in no time.”

“What door?” I asked looking around eagerly.

He led me to one of the windows on the right side of the classroom and pointed to a distant tree.

“Oh,” I muttered.

“Don’t worry I’ll take you there after class. In the meantime why don’t you help us with today’s lesson?”

“What if Dad’s worried about me?” I asked.

“I guarantee you will make it home safe and sound after today’s lesson.”

I fiddled with the spherikey in my hands, staring at the tree in the distance. I realized I didn’t want to go wandering out into unknown territory where I might become something’s lunch. I turned back to Wybert and nodded.

“What’s today’s lesson?” I asked.

“Come along and we’ll show you.”

Wybert led me back to the front of the class, the three dinosaur students staring at us.

“Class,” began Wybert, “This is Andrew. He’ll be joining us for today’s lesson.”

“Hi Andrew.” all three dinosaur students said in unison.

I tentatively waved in response.

“So before we begin, does anyone have any questions for Andrew?”

All three students raised their hands. (Or to be more precise Polly raised her right-claw, Lewis raised his right foreleg, and Dario raised his spiky tail.) Wybert pointed at Dario.

“What do you do for a living?” he asked.

“I… I…” I went through the thoughts in my head in trying to decide what to tell him. “I work at a library where I stock books all day.”

“Do you do anything for fun?” Dario asked. “Like play crack the coconut or drawing?”

“Well… I work in the garden and help my Dad prepare meals. I also like to write down what I did each day.”

“Boy, you sound exciting.” I heard Lewis mutter under his breath.

“Lewis!” Wybert said sharply.

That’s when it dawned on me that I was, in fact, a boring person. First, I show disinterest in Dad’s job and now this. I decided to change the subject.

“What about you?” I asked Lewis, “Lewis, right? What do you like to do for fun?”

Lewis straightened up from where he was seated and said, “I like to travel and play games like kick the log and hide-and-seek.”

“That sounds nice,” I replied trying to not blurt out that Dad travels the world in search of fossils.

“What about you?” I asked turning to Polly.

“I like to go swimming with my family and play games like fish out of water and tag.”

“That’s cool.”

Wybert patted me on the back with a grin.

“So, does anyone have any other questions?” I asked.

The dinosaur students shrugged in response and I took a seat on a nearby couch.

“Students,” Wybert began, “This lesson deals with these types of shapes.”

He brought over a chalkboard with a drawing of a circle, a square, and what looked like a cube with an orb inside of it. Intrigued I watched as he lectured to them about the shapes. I found myself gazing at the chalkboard and back at the spherikey, I was starting to see a pattern.

After a few hours of lessons it was time for a lunch break. Lewis munched on some leaves, Dario ate a bush, and Polly had some moss.

“Want some?” Wybert asked me offering some fish.

“No thanks, I just ate,” I replied, trying not to inhale deeply.

Lewis came over and took a seat next to me.

“Have you ever traveled anywhere?” he asked.

Again I resisted the urge to tell him about Dad expeditions. “I… remember a few vacations I took when…” That’s when I remembered I haven’t been on any vacations since Mom left. I turned away from him, not hiding my depressed expression.

“Something wrong?” he asked.

“Oh, just… it’s complicated.”

Lewis scooted closer to me and leaned his head on my shoulder. I could tell that he sense something was wrong. I gently patted him on the side of his neck, exchanging a glance with Wybert.

After a few more lessons it was time for recess. Wybert and I watched the three young dinosaurs play games in a secluded jungle area by the tree house. Lewis came up to me with an on-and-off smile.

“Want to play hide-and-seek, Andrew?” Lewis asked.

I exchanged another look with Wybert.

“Um, yeah OK.”

Lewis’s face lit up and he tugged me over to the others. I covered my eyes, counted to ten, and searched for them, Wybert watched me the whole time with a grin.

“Hmm, I wonder where they could be.” I said out loud while walking past Lewis’s obvious hiding spot behind a large tree. “I give up.”

The three dinosaur children came out from hiding and crowded around me.

“We fooled you.” Dario said with a laugh.

“Want to go swimming?” Polly asked.

“Maybe another time,” Wybert interrupted, “Time for our next lesson.”

We headed back to the classroom; Wybert started to lecture them about constellations. I noticed Lewis struggling to understand.

“What do you mean certain stars can make out pictures?” He asked, confused.

“Here it’s like this.” I said and went up to the board, Wybert handed me some chalk. “This is Polaris, also known as the North Star or Ursa Minor or better known as the Little Dipper. It makes out pictures if you connect the dots with these other stars around it.”

I demonstrated this on the board, Lewis perked up at the revelation of the different pictures that formed when I connected the dots.

“Thank you.” He replied.

“Well done, Andrew.” Wybert said with a wink.

I felt myself feeling content. I sat back down at the couch with the spherikey when Lewis came over. He gave me a gentle and affectionate head-butt; I patted his snout in response.

Finally it was time for the dinosaur children to go home. I watched their parents come back to gather their kids by the classroom’s entrance.

“Hope to see you again,” said Polly.

“Yeah sure, hope you had a great day,” I replied.

She giggled and left with her parents.

“See you later Andrew,” Dario said. Lewis came up to his side and nodded with a warm smile.

“See you both whenever.”

The dinosaurs left with their children, I could see Lewis say something to Mrs. Bronta who turned and winked at me before she left. I felt myself blush.

“I think it’s time for you to go home yourself.” Wybert said.

“Oh yeah, we should probably go now.”

Wybert nodded and scooped me up in his talons. Spreading out his wings we soared in the air for what seemed like a good 20-minutes before we arrived at the tree he was talking about.

“Well, here we are,” Wybert said, “Hope to see you soon. I think you’ll make a wonderful assistant.”

“Thanks, glad I can help.”

“I must warn you though there are dangers here; and not just predatory dinosaurs. Best to keep your wits about you next time you come.”

“I will thank you, Wybert.”

I stood in front of what looked like a door in the tree with an orb-shaped indent in the center. I was about to place the spherikey in the door when I stopped an inch away and turned back to Wybert.

“How can I come back?”

“Just do what you did last time, Andrew. We’ll be here waiting for you, take care young man.”

I nodded and placed the spherikey in the door. It vibrated in my hand and glowed reddish-orange once again. I felt a tingling sensation throughout my entire body and the spherikey and I dematerialized through the door.

I laid sprawled out on the basement floor when Dad came out of his office in a hurry. I strained up, the spherikey in my right-hand. Dad came over to me with a confused look.

“Andrew? What are you doing on the floor?”

“Dad, what day is it?”

Dad looked even more puzzled.

“Andrew I was just emailing Dr. Merek. I was in there for only a few seconds.”

I gawked at Dad and looked around the room. Somehow I was only gone for a few seconds in Earth years when I was in Mozerika for nearly a whole day.

“Oh right, sorry,” I began, “I was just asking because… are you free tomorrow?”

“Maybe, why do you ask?”

“Do you want to do lunch?”

Dad’s eyes lit up at the question. I staggered up and held out the spherikey.

“Sure, Andrew, I’d love to.” He replied.

“Great, let me know tomorrow.”

He took the spherikey from me and we both headed upstairs. I realized that I wasn’t sweaty anymore and that my clothes were dry. It was as if it were all a dream, though I knew it wasn’t because I saw the tree house marking on the spherikey and could still feel the heat of the jungle.

After we went back to the living room I sent Mom an email telling her about my day and that I’m still thinking of her. Of course, I left out the part about Dad’s findings and Mozerika, but I included it in my electronic journal that night before bed. I hope someday Mom will understand Dad’s work and return to us as I will return to Mozerika.

I am developing a fondness for that place as I have developed a fondness for my Dad’s job and expeditions.

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Thanks for sharing! Enjoyed it. :slightly_smiling_face:

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