As soon he opened the door of the shop, Saba was blasted by music playing inside. It was loud enough that Mr. Parnorsham didn’t hear the bell ring, and as he was stacking up cans of butter biscuits behind the counter, he didn’t realize that he had a customer until he turned around. By that time Saba had made his way all the way to the back of the store. Mr. Parnorsham jumped a bit when he saw the young militiaman.
“Oh, hello Saba,” he said over the sound of the music.
Suddenly a high-pitched female singer chimed in along with the music.
The afternoon was lazy,
Everything was still,
The skies were blue and hazy,
When you gave me a thrill.
You said you were looking for Sadie,
Without her you would be blue,
You said you would never forget her,
I said I’ll be Sadie for you.
“That’s a bit scandalous,” said Saba.
“Yes it is,” said Mr. Parnorsham with a sly smile. “I’ll turn it off if a lady comes in.”
“Can you turn it down a tad?”
“Right-oh.” And once the volume had been adjusted. “What can I do for you, young corporal?”
“Do you have a cold Billingbow’s?”
“Of course.” The proprietor retrieved a frosty bottle of the soda water from the icebox behind the counter. “Twenty-two p with the bottle deposit.”
“You don’t send all those bottles back to Brechalon, do you?”
“Oh, goodness no. Billingbow’s sends its soda water in airtight casks. I have to fill the bottles. I’m going to have to order a new shipment of bottles though. People keep forgetting to return them. You would think that two pfennigs would be encouragement enough.”
“Remind some of the local kids that they can bring the bottles in a get two p each. That could add up quick.”
“Yes, that’s a good idea,” said Mr. Parnorsham, taking out a cloth towel and absentmindedly wiping his counter.
Outside, Saba leaned against the side of the building and swigged his soda. There wasn’t much going on that he could see. Most people had gone home for their tea. He strolled over to Mr. Darwin’s shop and looked in the window. There was quite an array of dinosaur skin belts and bags and an umbrella stand filled with very large colorful feathers. Saba recognized some of them as utahraptor feathers—bright turquoise colored fading to a lovely green. Turning around, he saw one other person outside in the square. Aalwijn Finkler was staring at several tables and chairs set up by his mother’s bakery.
Saba strode across the gravel square and walked up to the boy.
“Can’t figure out how to arrange them?”
“Sorry? No. This is fine. Um, I’m just lost in thought.”
“Thinking about anything in particular?”
“I was just wondering if I should let my mother pick out my clothes.”
“Well, um yeah. That and girls.”
“Oh, well, that is quite a topic…”
At that moment the most horrific sound that Saba had ever heard rent the air. He knew that it was the tyrannosaurus, but it wasn’t its normal cry. It was a scream that was filled with more rage and hate than a human being could possibly understand. It was like something escaping the pits of hell. He felt a shiver running down his spine.
“Kafira’s Cross, that’s right behind this building. Get inside.”
“We’ve got to go down there!” said Aalwijn, pointing down the road to the west. Saba thought that he must be scared witless. He would walk right into the giant dinosaur.
“Not bloody likely. Not without a squad of men, and a really big gun.”
“Senta just went down that road!” yelled Aalwijn.
“You stay here!” called Saba, and throwing down his half empty bottle, he took off at a full run.