The Field Trip 2
"Wow! Check out the dinosaur fossil!" Mandy enthused.
"You think that's cool? Wait til you see this!" Katlyn chimed in. She had been to this museum before. It was her favorite place to go.
The nineteen other eleven-year-olds rushed over to where their classmate was gesturing. Their excited chatter filled the room as they moved over to the next exhibit. The life-size interactive T-Rex. The other patrons eyed them caustiously, but they seemed to be well-behaved for a bunch of 5th graders.
A harried looking woman followed them, glad for the moment of respite from their enthusiasm. She smiled; it was good to see them excited by learning, though. The luminous T-Rex had several display screens in its large rib cage where patrons of the younger sort could touch and learn about how the dinos lived millions of years ago.
'This had been a good idea,' Miss Kathryn Holt thought to herself. Out of the corner of her eye, the blonde woman noticed an artist sitting in the corner sketching. The artist looked up at that moment and bluish-gray eyes met emerald green. Smiling again, she resumed her place in the group of children, taking up her place and beginning to tell a bit about the items on display.
The artist, a wealthy socialite named Shayla Toyan, continued her sketch. She'd look up every once in a while to make sure her subjects stayed within her line of sight. It was turning out better than the other sketches which had been darker and more scarry since her beloved Anna had died.
When Shay had looked up again, she noticed how the children sat listening to their teacher. The blonde with the emeralds for eyes was telling the children a story, Shay had guessed by the way the woman used over-exaggerated hand gestures and by the expressions of her face. 'This woman is a natural story-teller,' the artist thought.
"Once upon a time, there lived large mammals we call dinosaurs. The T-Rex was the most dangerous of all the predators..." Miss Holt told the children.
Katlyn sat with her friend, Mandy. Her eyes followed the teacher as the woman walked around the group. She loved listening to stories about the T-Rex. Her father always taught her to respect the creature but not to fear it. Mainly because it had died out millions of years ago; also, because most predators like the T-Rex only hunted and killed other creatures for food, not for the sport or for fun.
The young girl believed her dad because he had never lied to her before. Even when she asked him about Santa Claus. He told her that Santa Claus was real for those who believed. That the jolly old St. Nick was a spirit, who lived in your heart, and who brought out the wonderful feelings of Christmas.
He told her that even if she didn't get everything she wanted for Christmas, it didn't mean that Santa Claus didn't exist, because the spirit of Christmas was always there... "You just have to look deep enough in your heart to find it."
The girl was pulled out of her musings with a start. "Ma'am?"
"Would you mind telling the rest of the story? I was just coming to your favorite part..." Miss Holt asked.
Katlyn nodded and took her teacher's place at the front of the group. She began the tale while Miss Holt stepped to the back of the group. Katlyn loved to tell stories almost as much as she loved hearing them.
With Katlyn ensconced in the tale, Kathryn stepped over to the furiously sketching woman. "Hi," she said as she looked at the artwork in progress.
Startled from her sketch, Shayla jumped but the artwork went unharmed. "Oh!" The artist recovered. "Hi!"
"That's a beautiful sketch..." the teacher broke the conversational ice.
"Thank you," Shayla said as her eyes never left her art. "It's not finished yet but I think it'll be my masterpiece once it is."
"I noticed it's of my students and I," the teacher's word made the artist look up. The smile on her cherubic face told Shayla that she wasn't in trouble.
The teacher extended her hand to the artist,"Hi, I'm Kathryn Holt. My close friends call me Kate for short. My students call me Miss Holt."
Shayla took the offered hand and shook it. "I'm Shayla Toyan. My friends and family call me Shay."
With that last word the weather outside, which had been bad all day, turned worse... The lightning, that had been striking all around their building, hit with a very loud CRACK! It caused all to jump at that moment. Miss Holt found herself in the arms of a very good artist.
In the dark, screams were heard then silence...
'It's dark. Blackness dark,' her writer's mind dramatically intoned. Her eyes were open she knew, but she couldn't even see her own hand in front of her. 'Is my hand in front of me?' her logical mind asked. It touched her nose and she shrieked.
"Oh, what happened?" the artist's voice interrupted the quiet. She moaned as her body tried to get up and answer that question.
Miss Holt reached out for the artist, grabbing a soft breast in the process and illiciting a deep moan of a different kind from the taller woman.
"Oh, sorry," the teacher whispered. "Where are we, Shay? What happened?"
Shay's ever present lighter came in handy. She set it alight to reveal their surroundings.
The stalagmites gave evidence that they were not in "kansas" anymore. Actually they weren't in California anymore. "Where are the children?" Miss Holt asked. "Katlyn?!" she hesitantly yelled, knowing that getting too loud could cause the stalagtites and stalagmites to fall and crumble.
"Miss Holt?" came a faint echo of Katlyn's voice.
The artist and teacher looked at each other in consternation. The students were in another part of the cave. "Stay where you are, honey. We're coming to find you," the teacher paused, hoping against hope. "Are the others with you?"
"Not all of them. Mandy says we're missing Joe, Ryan, Danny, and Megan," Katlyn informed her teacher.
"How do you know this, sweetheart? Is there a light where you are? Is it the mouth of the cave?" the teacher asked as the two of them moved in the direction of the girl's voice.
The artist led the way. Having been a spelunker most of her life, Shay knew how caves could bounce the echoes, and having an uncanny sense of direction led them directly to the group of students with ease.
As the artist and teacher reached the children, Kathryn saw how they had made their own torch. Michael had ripped his shirt, tied it to a downed stalagmite and lit it with his own lighter. Michael was the troubled student and Miss Holt had been working on getting him to stop smoking but she could plainly see that had not worked out... yet.
Miss Holt gathered up her students and they all went in search of the missing four. As they searched the other rooms of the cave, they called out to the missing ones. After a while searching, Katlyn heard a faint noise. She told her teacher and the artist and as they turned in the direction all were surprised by a fierce roar. It shook the cavern walls. Mandy, clinging to Katlyn's hand, shivered out,"W... w...w... what w... w... was th... th... th... that?"
The roar got louder and was followed by two shrt ones. "Only one thing I know makes a roar like that. It's gotta be a pack of raptors."
"Velociraptors?" Mandy quietly asked.
Katlyn was suddenly afraid. "Yeah. But it can't be just one. They are pack animals. Where you may see one, there's sure to be more... probably surrounding you." Katlyn knew as Miss Holt had, they weren't in California anymore.
"Miss Holt," Katlyn stepped to her teacher and the artist. "I don't think we're in our own time anymore. I think that was a velosa raptor that made that noise. I've studied dinos ever since I was four and my dad took me to see Jurrasick Park more times than I want to count. It was my favorite movie and his."
"What makes you think it was a dinosaur, Katy? Other animals roar like that. Animals that are in our own time not just in the movies or in ancient times," Miss Holt told her.
"Not like that, Miss Holt. Not a long roar than two short ones. It's like it's their signal... their amazon bird call, so to speak."
The Artist quirked one eyebrow into her dark bangs,"Amazons?"
The teacher turned to her new friend,"We've been studying ancient Greek civilizations, Sapphic poetry and Homer's epics. Somehow the discussion turned to the amazons and why there aren't anymore formal tribes."
"That's a deep subject for eleven years olds, don't you think?" the artist asked with a bit of confusion as to the relativity Amazons would have in grade school study.
"Actually, we're the more advanced students. Our typical studies like reading, writing, and arithmatic were learned when we were four and five years old," Katlyn stated succinctly without seeming to take too much offense.
The Artist apologized for her assumption of their inferior knowledge just because they were young and they continued their search for the others.
"Sorry for Katlyn's outburst. She's my most genius of all my geniuses," the teacher whispered to Shayla. "You would not believe the topics on which we debate in class daily."
"Huh?" Shayla teased, understanding on a certain level, Katlyn's frustration since she grew up as an artistic genius. Her ability to paint, draw, sketch, play any musical instrument and do just about anything artistic better than just about anyone else, gave her the insight to these children. "That's okay. I completely understand. I went to art school as a child and frustrated all my fellow students and my teachers with my abilities without even applying myself. I could have been the prodigy to any one of the great artistic masters."
"So, can you sing, too?" Kathryn teased. For an answer, Shayla sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem... being the patriot that she was.
As she belted out the last of the song, all present clapped, hooted, hollered, and cheered for their nation's song. Which caused a loud roar in response from one of the adjoining chambers. The children screamed and huddled around their teacher and the artist. Katlyn chose to stand next to Shayla since, even at her young age of eleven, she was taller than Miss Holt. But the artist was a good ten to twelve inches taller than the youngster.
With the roar came another chilling sound. The missing children screamed their fear for all to hear, including the hungry dinos. A knowing glance crossed between the two women in an eerily mutual understanding. Though they had just met, Kathryn felt like she knew this woman inside and out. Emerald met Storm-Cloud gray as the taller woman moved toward the chamber where the other kids were placed from the museum incident.
Shayla found them huddled together, cornered by a pair of Velociraptors. The kids had noticed the direction the artist had appeared from and made for that chamber as Shayla knocked the dinos with a medium sized rock. It knocked one dino out while the other gave chase.
Shayla led it away from the kids and into a trap of her own. She had noticed several chambers while on their way to the first set of kids, that could be used, if necessary, to trap predators. Though she didn't think she'd be trapping dinosaurs in them... maybe a lion or a bear or two...
But here she was leading this raptor into a dead end... 'For IT!' her mind stated.
Just as she entered far enough for the raptor to enter, too, she ran up the wall to do a backwards flip over the raptor's head, knocking the loose rocks and stalagmites on top of it. This also sealed the entryway, but she was safely on the correct side to go and find her group. 'Now to figure out how we got here and get us all home again,' her mind mused.
Mandy found Shayla first. The young girl was pleased by her own ability to find things. She could find anything. If her mother lost her keys, Mandy would go right for the spot, find them and soak up her mother's praise of this ability... But that is not what brought Mandy to her current class. The youngster could read any language and instantly recall ninety percent of what she read.
The group found the cave entrance/exit and stepped out into a world untouched by man. It was beautiful, like the first of spring in the country. The trees were huge and very, very tall. They made for one of the tallest ones. As they began the hike a flock of birds flew over head. "Vultures," Katlyn whispered in awe. This was like meeting Santa Claus. She had read all about these animals and knew all about the vegetation. She could keep them fed properly and keep everyone from getting poisoned by the wrong plants for a long time to come. Then a thought hit her. "Miss Holt," Katlyn got the school teacher's attention. "I want to go home." This got everyone else's attention, too.
A chorus of voices gave the same sentiment. "Yeah, Miss Holt, what's going on?" another student's voice rose over the many indistinguishable ones.
"I don't know, Harry. I'm as confused about all of this as you are. But I have to say that i think you all are handling this new adventure very well. We will find a way home but it may take a while. So, let's find a place to sleep. Preferrably in a high tree or a cave somewhere," the teacher soothed her students' worried minds.
The artist was amazed by the teacher's self-control and optimistic outlook. What she didn't know was that it was mostly an act. Inside, Kathryn was so scared she was shaking.
Shayla led the group to a cave in a short mountain side. Between the three of them, Katlyn, Miss Holt and Shayla, they managed to help the other students get up the path in the mountain and settled into the cave. As Katlyn bedded down with her classmates, Shayla stepped away to allow Miss Holt to tuck each child in.
They had made it to the cave just before sunset. Shayla assigned each set of students, in groups of six or seven, a different task. One group found fire wood, another gathered leaves for bedding, while the third group helped Miss Holt clear the area and made a fire ring with the loose rocks around them.
Shayla, a lover of the outdoors, found herself hunting and fishing for their food. They had a nice meal of fish and berries. Katlyn, while on her firewood duty, located a bush of edible berries and surprised her teacher with the treat.
Now with full bellies and wrapped in comfortable leaf piles, the kids went to sleep but not before coaxing a story out of their teacher. Miss Holt told them one of her favorites about two orphans who set out together to find their families only to find each other at the end of the journey and realizing they'd been travelling with their true family all along.
As Miss Holt finished the story all the children were fast asleep. The young teacher joined her adult companion. The taller woman opened her arms and the teacher gratefully stepped into a much needed hug. "How are you doing?" the artist asked.
"Fine. I know we can find a way back but I'm afraid we won't," the school teacher voiced her concern.
"Kathryn, everything will be all right," Shayla soothed.
"How do you know this?" Kathryn asked with a bit of consternation in her own voice.
"Trust me, please. I will find a way," the artist said. She still had not let the smaller woman go. Kathryn felt safe in these arms. Safer than she ever felt in any person's arms. 'Anna, I'm sorry,' Shayla thought as she felt this young woman's presence fill her more completely than anyone every had. Then before they knew what was happening, Kathryn pulled back just enough to look into Bluish green-gray eyes and found them getting closer. As their lips met, Kathryn moaned at the rightness of it.
The Artist's tongue slipped out to touch soft lips and was welcomed into the sweet, warm haven of the teacher's mouth. The innocent kiss turned passionate as hands slid up sensitive sides and backs.
With the need for air, Kathryn reluctantly broke from the kiss. Breathlessly, the smaller woman spoke,"That was..."
"Magic," the artist finished in perfect harmony.
"Yeah," Kathryn agreed dreamily.
"I want to explore this further but not until we get us and the kids back to our time, safe and sound," the taller woman spoke Kathryn's thoughts perfectly. Their agreement, however, did not include sleeping in each other's arms for as many nights as they would be trapped in this time.
As the days went by, Kathryn realized that she could not live for very long without her technology. She loved her computer and it's information access. She now had to wonder how anyone ever lived without the internet. She was anxious to get herself, her companion and the kids home. She, also, wanted to get home so that she and Shayla could begin to explore their new relationship.
She was so very proud of the way her students were adapting to this life and wished she could adapt half as easily. The kids were learning to make their own fishing lines and other survival tool. They learned how to defend against predators without any modern tools.
Katlyn had found a long stick and carried it with her everywhere. It came in handy when she and Mandy got stuck in small quicksand bog. They had been walking a different route to the stream just a short distance from their hide-away cave when Mandy slipped, sinking to her waist in quick order. Katy stepped back from the edge and sent one end of her staff to her friend and pulled the girl out. They marked the area with rocks and warned the others of its existence.
Michael soon learned of the many dangerous predators in the woods as well. He used his lighter and made a torch to keep a Dilophosaurus at bay. Everyone learned to stay together in packs of at least two or more.
The evenings belonged to Shayla and Kathryn and it was time for them to get to know each other. "Are the kids settled?" Shayla asked.
"Yep. Snug in their beds," Kathryn reported. "That really scared me this afternoon. I can't lose these kids. I want to make sure I get them home to their parents... we need to do that. I know you didn't sign on for this but would you help me?" Kathryn sounded so needing that Shayla couldn't say no. She smiled and kissed the smaller woman.
"Now that that is settled," Shayla opened her arms to her lover-to-be. "Come over here, Miss Holt, and snuggle into your bed." The artist pulled her companion into her arms. As her head bent down for the kiss, a delightful clearing of a young throat caught their attention.
Katlyn stood just in front of the two adults.
Kathryn blushed at having been caught just about to kiss her friend. "What is it, Katlyn?" the smaller woman asked.
"I've been thinking about how we got here and why," she paused. "There has to be a reason. So, I think we should go back to the cave we were found in. I've watched a lot of movies where people travel back in time and it's usually the place they originally landed in is a portal and their best chance for a safe and quick return."
The artist and school teacher looked at each other in silent communication and it was immediately agreed that that was what they would do, tomorrow. "Are you tired of this world, Katy?" Kathryn asked bemusedly.
"Nah, I just want to go home. I miss my parents. and Jody and Lynn, too,"Katy added as she stood to leave.
When the girl was back with her agemates, Shayla asked,"Who are Jody and Lynn?"
"My most genius of geniuses happens to be my niece as well. Jody is my brother, her father's partner. And Lynn is my sister's and her mother's partner. We've discovered it's a family thing. All three Holt children are gay. It was not a happy surprise for a Bible-belt, Bible toting minister and his wife. We were all kicked out of the family at the tender age of sixteen when our parents caught us in bed with same-sex buddies. We were just exploring our sexual orientation," the teacher wound down before she really got going because she knew that if she let it, it would eat her up inside.
"I'm sorry," the taller woman said.
"It's okay. Let's get some rest. We've got an early start tomorrow so we can find that portal home," Kathryn sounded dejected and the artist picked up on it.
"May I give you a good night kiss?" the artist asked with her lips a hairsbreath away from the sweet ones she loved.
For an answer, Kathryn closed the distance and they spent a few minutes in gentle exploration. Pulling away breathless, Kathryn snuggled into the artistic arms and dreamed of what those wonderful fingers and sweet lips would be doing to her in a short day or two... 'hopefully ,' her mind stated wistfully.
The group rose with reluctance, but no more than their sleep-loving teacher. They broke camp and started the trek for home.
The cave was exactly as they had left it minus one Velociraptor. Shayla marked the entrance with a bit of charcoal she'd found on the way. her pens were just about all used up. For the last few days, her art had been inspired by the teacher and her students and several of the cave walls now sported many depictions of Miss Holt teaching, helping, and sometime just being with her students. Her artistic mind wanted to draw this woman forever. And Kathryn didn't seem to mind. On several occasions she found the teacher watching her sketch on the wall and stared in awe at her magnificient talent.
Katlyn, of course, reminded her that her writing on those walls may alter their reality. But Shayla assured the girl that she knew all about paradoxes and that her writing on the wall would not harm their future. Now as they moved through the cave she did feel a little different but it was more of a righting in her life than a bad shift, since it was she or in the very least one of her ancestors who had actually drawn those or similar pictures on that wall. It was how her great grandfather had amassed their family fortune, by staking a claim on her (that) art work.
All through her childhood she'd seen very faded and in some cases broken up versions of all the pictures she had drawn over the last few days. Although at the time she was drawing them, she hadn't thought about it. 'Everything happens for a reason,' Shayla remembered Anna saying as she lay very near death's door. 'Don't give up hope. We were meant for this short time but there is someone out there who will be with you for the rest of your life. Open your heart to find her, Shay.'
And for a long time Shayla remembered closing her heart to anyone and everyone. "Everything is as it should be," Shayla quietly intoned.
"What, Shay?" Kathryn asked as she touched her friend's back.
"Oh, nothing. It's just something that Anna once told me," Shayla tried to play it down but the small blond was having none of it and continued her hold on the artist's back. Shayla relented,"On her deathbed, Anna told me I'd meet you and that I should open my heart to you. And that she and I were only meant to be together for a short time."
"You must have loved her very much," the teacher said in a very understanding voice.
"Yeah, I did. When we first met, I thought I was looking into my soul."
"Oh," the disappointment in the teacher's voice was over-whelmingly evident.
"But," Shayla hastened to add. "I believe that some of us have more than one soulmate. I believe that Anna is your soulmate as well. You two are so much alike that when I first looked at you, I thought I was seeing her ghost."
"Really?" the teacher asked. The smile that was radiating from the blond woman was so illuminating that Shayla's torch paled by comparison.
"Really," Shayla stated then gave a quick kiss to her soon-to-be lover's lips. "Now, come on, we'd better catch up before Katlyn decides to leave us behind."
They reached the room where Shayla and Kathryn first appeared. A spiralling vortex took up most of one wall. It had begun to shrink but was still larger than even Shayla's statuesque figure. "Okay, kids!" Shayla's voice broke them all out of their awe induced trances and everyone began to move toward the portal to home.
Just as they pulled to an arms length of the vortex and could feel the pull for home, it's blocked... An large two legged dinosaur that just barely fit in the cave but had seen food go in, stepped in front of them. "Don't move!" Katlyn shouted. She was in awe but remembered what her father had told her... 'Don't be afraid of them, Katy, respect them but don't fear them.' But she also remembered that their eye-sight was based on movement. The Vortex was a great distraction but it wasn't food and T-Rex wanted food.
Suddenly their danger was triple fold... the vortex was closing, T-Rex blocked their way, and a third element came into view fanning out is rounded head and sounding like a rattle snake about to strike. All the kids screamed but the T-rex's roar took that over.
It was a battle royale... to carnivores... The Dilophosaurus spit it's poison out and T-Rex attacked. Everyone made for the portal as the two dinos fought for dominance. Katlyn stayed back a bit to see what would happen... "Come on, T-Rex, you can do it."
"Katlyn! Get your butt over here," her teacher in full Aunty Kathy mode yelled.
Katlyn sighed and joined her class through the portal of time...
T-Rex, of course, won. It was the larger, stronger ones that survived. And all was right with the world again.