Climbing down from the train’s caboose, Benny Markham turned and politely offered Senta his hand as she stepped down onto the station platform. She was followed by Shemar Morris. The station platform was empty except for them and the train’s fireman who stepped off with them, though a couple of station employees could be seen moving around in the office building. The train from Mallontah wouldn’t arrive for several hours. By then the station would be crowded with those getting on or getting off, and those meeting passengers.
“Remind me that I never want to sleep in a caboose again,” said Shemar.
“I slept very nicely,” said Senta.
“That’s because you had the bed.”
“I slept fine too,” said Benny. “I think it was the rocking.”
“I think it was the aftermath of an adrenaline rush,” said Shemar. “I’ve never seen someone so afraid for so long.”
“I wasn’t afraid. I’m just a cautious man.”
“There’s nothing wrong with being afraid,” said Senta, “if you have something to be afraid of.”
“I think gorgasauruses and achillabators qualify,” said Benny.
“When do we need to report in to M&S Coal,” asked Shemar. “I’ve got the map marked with where you found the coal. Here.”
Senta accepted the map. “We should probably take it right over.”
“Let’s do it then,” said Benny. “I want to get home, get something to eat, take a bath, and then sleep.”
“A man after my own heart,” said Senta.
The three young people made their way across the growing town. Lizzie workers were thick. On Bay Street, not only were they paving the way with red brick and pouring cement sidewalks, they were also laying down gas lines and putting up gas streetlamps. The general impression was that the town had grown while they had been gone, even though they had only set out the day before. They saw the triceratops, Harriet, pulling the trolley down Pine Street, but at the moment, she was travelling in the opposite direction they were.
“You know it’s about tea time,” said Benny when they approached Town Square. “We could stop at the Bakery Café on our way to M&S.”
“I could eat,” said Senta.
The three headed for the entrance to the bakery but were intercepted at door by Gaylene Finkler. She held up her hand like a cop directing traffic.
“Sorry Senta, you’re not allowed in.”
“What? Why not?”
“You may have gotten the Justice to drop the charges, but we can’t have you assaulting our customers.”
“What the hell are you talking about Gaylene?”