Falling Through Time
by Maryann Holloway
Word Count: 1485
Things are not always as they seem. For Michael Adler and his family, this was never as true as it was last summer. The story I am about to tell is true but you will find it hard to believe. I’ve known Michael my whole life and when he told me what happened, I too was skeptical.
It all began when Michael’s daughter was researching interesting things to do during the family vacation in Wyoming. Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons was going to be the family trip of a lifetime.
Shana happened upon a website about a dinosaur museum in Thermopolis, Wyoming. Thermopolis, known for its hot springs, was about a two hour drive east from the Yellowstone area and the museum offered a dig for the day activity. The Adler family could join paleontologists and other scientists on a dig cite in the mountains. Digging for dinosaurs sounded like a spectacular addition to the vacation itinerary.
A few weeks after school ended, Michael and his family stepped off the plane in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and soon were on their way to Thermopolis. After the two hour car ride, it was nice to finally reach their hotel, enjoy the swimming pool and have dinner. They decided to make it an early night since the next day was their dig.
The following morning after having breakfast at the hotel and dressing for a day in the rugged outdoors, the Adler’s arrived at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center ready for their dinosaur dig. They met their guide, Geology PhD student, Josh Beecher. He and the Adler’s gathered the necessary equipment and loaded up the truck.
After fifteen minutes, they arrived at the dig site. There were several other scientists and university students milling around. After parking the truck, Josh brought Michael and his family over to meet the crew.
“Gather around everyone. We have a family digging with us today and based on the conversation we had on the way up here, they are excited about helping us. Please meet Michael Adler, his wife Christa and their daughter Shana.”
Everyone made the family feel welcome as they headed back to their assignments. That is everyone except one man. Dressed in ragged khakis, a drab olive pocket t-shirt, work boots and a panama hat, the man came close in order to speak to Josh. He was speaking in low tones but Michael overheard most of what was said.
“Why have you brought them here today? You know it is risky.”
“Dr. Inkler you know that the activities offered by the museum are what keeps our dig cite open. Without the benevolence of the public, the time between government grants is very lean around here and that means cutbacks on your work.”
“We just opened for the season. I don’t want a repeat of what happened last year. These people are in the way. Keep them away from my area. I mean it.”
Josh wanted to say something but thought better of it. An angry Dr. Inkler made everyone miserable. Turning away from Dr. Inkler’s retreating figure, Josh caught the look on Michael’s face and knew they had been overheard.
“I am sorry you had to hear that. Dr. Inkler is fanatical about the work we do here but he doesn’t have very good people skills. I hope you won’t let his attitude upset you.”
“Don’t worry. We have his sort in my line of work too. I think we are too excited about this experience to let him bother us,” said Michael.
Josh turned to Shana. “Are you ready to get started?”
Handing each of them a chisel and brush, Josh lead them to an excavated area nearby. The sun was beginning to blaze overhead as everyone started digging and brushing debris. It was hot and thirsty work but Shana was learning so much from Josh. He showed her how to preserve the small bone fragments she was finding. After a few hours, it was time to take a break.
“I want to show you what a group of us have been uncovering nearby. It is a very exciting find. You’ll want your cameras. Afterwards we’ll break for lunch.”
They followed Josh to an area about fifty yards away. Six students were standing around a large whole in the ground; however when Michael and his family approached, the students stepped back to reveal a well-established dig cite. Shana couldn’t believe what she was seeing. She had only seen completely assembled dinosaurs in museums before and to see a six foot bone in the ground was beyond her wildest dreams. Everyone took several photographs.
After breaking for lunch, the work continued. As the sun was getting lower in the sky, Michael stood up to stretch. Realizing that his canteen was empty, he walked over to the truck to refill it from the cooler. He could hear voices raised in anger as he approached.
“Everyone else has gone and that family should go too. I’ve been feeling low rumbling all day. I’m going to camp here overnight; but you should get in the truck and get them out of here before it is too late,” demanded Dr. Inkler.
“You’re exaggerating as usual. Dr. Hamilton feels we don’t need to be concerned. You’ve been very paranoid lately Doctor,” said Josh.
“It’s not paranoia. It is knowledge,” said Dr. Inkler.
Josh noticed Michael near the truck and approached.
“What was that he said about feeling low rumbling? I felt it too.”
“Nothing to worry about Michael. Did you and your family enjoy the dig today? It is time to head back to the museum now.”
Michael went back to Christa and Shana. After packing up the equipment, everyone climbed into the truck. Josh started the engine and began to drive onto the mountain path. Suddenly the front passenger side tire dropped into a ditch and there was a loud cracking noise. Trying not to panic, Josh had everyone get out and move away from the truck. The tire was flat but worse, it looked like the front axle was broken.
“No worries. I’ll get on the radio and someone from the museum will bring up another truck for us.” Turning on the radio, all Josh heard was static. He tried various channels with the same results.
“I can’t reach anyone but when we don’t return, they’ll send someone.” What Josh didn’t know because he had been with the Adler’s all day was that everyone was going out for drinks to celebrate a 21st birthday. There was no one who will know they had not returned.
“Let’s walk up to the site to tell Dr. Inkler.”
As was expected, Dr. Inkler was not happy to see Josh and his guests walking into the clearing. After Josh explained what happened, Dr. Inkler sighed in frustration.
“The signs are all present. I have no doubts. There will be a fall through time tonight.”
“What is he talking about Dad,” asked Shana. Christa and Shana both looked at Michael. Michael turned to Josh and the Doctor and demanded an explanation.
“What do you mean a fall through time?”
“We have to tell them Doctor.”
Dr. Inkler dropped his chin and shook his head. “They’re not ready for it.”
Before Josh could begin to explain, there was a loud roar and the earth shook. Next the sky turned pitch black.
“Everyone do exactly what I tell you. Move quickly and get behind that large rock and stay absolutely still.”
Josh and the doctor hurried the group to the large rock and everyone hunkered down. The earth continued to shake and the roar became louder. Shana looked up from where she was sitting and if it had not been for Josh clamping his hand over her mouth, she would have let out a blood curdling scream. Towering twenty feet above them with massive teeth was the most infamous of them all, the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Not ancient bones buried more than 65 million years but an animal alive walking the earth.
The dinosaur moved away from the area and at least for the time being, the humans were safe.
“How could there be dinosaurs in the twenty-first century?” asked Michael.
“We don’t know how they are here and why it is just some nights. It started happening when the university first started to dig up on this mountain. We’ve learned to read the signs and usually clear everyone to safety,” said Josh.
“It only happens at night?” asked Christa.
“Yes. If no one comes for us tonight, our job will be to hide and survive until morning,” said Josh.
“You’re responsible for them Josh. I’m going to my camp,” complained Dr. Inkler. Dr. Inkler left the group and as it turned out, that was the last time anyone heard or saw him. You’re able to read this story today because Josh, Michael and his family survived to tell it.