The Dark and Forbidding Land – Chapter 12 Excerpt

“Good morning.”

Saba turned around to find Eamon Shrubb.

“Oh, it’s you.”

“Well that’s a fine good morning.”

“Good morning then. What do you want?”

“Sergeant Clark requires you.”

Saba quickly finished his meal and followed. The two men walked past the warehouses and up Seventh and One Half Avenue to the militia base and into the office of Sergeant Clark. Militiamen, like everyone else, were enjoying the sunshine, rolling around in the snow and building snowmen and snow forts. A snowball narrowly missed Saba’s head as he walked into the building.

“What’s up,” asked Saba, brushing himself off inside.

Clark yawned and rubbed his eyes.

“I promised Mrs. Government that I would have someone meet with this hunter.”

“Haarhoff?”

“Yes, that’s him. He’s anxious to go out and shoot a dinosaur, so she wants someone to make sure that he has everything that he needs. And you know who her favorite soldier is.”

“You?”

“Not me.” Clark leaned back in his chair. “You.”

“Alright. Where is he? Building six?”

“Yes.”

To say that Haarhoff was anxious was an understatement. He and six other men were crowded into his room, leaning over a table with a large map spread across it. Lined up along the wall was a mountain of packs and equipment, ready to be carried into the Birmisian wilderness.

“Ah, young Corporal Colbshallow,” he said. “We are more than ready to set off. Will you be coming with us?”

“That remains to be seen. What I need to know right now is whether you have everything that you need.”

“We have tents, equipment, supplies, cold weather gear, and ammunition. All we need is a native guide to get us to this Iguanodon Heath, and of course some bearers to help carry all the equipment.”

“That won’t be any problem. There are always plenty of lizzies ready to work. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather wait until the snow is gone, at least.”

“We have been waiting long enough. We have all been hunting in the snow before. Collinghouse here was with me when we hunted gharhast apes in the Daglars.”

“That’s right,” said the man on the other side of the table. “It was so cold that the bullets froze as they were coming out of the gun barrels.”

The other men in the room laughed.

“Alright,” said Saba. I’m sure that I can have a guide and thirty bearers ready by tomorrow morning. Will that be enough?”

“That will be enough,” said Harhoff. “But we will want to leave at first light.”

“Fine.”

Saba left the barracks apartment and crossed the militia base to find Private Woodrow Manring sitting at the admissions desk, waiting for new lizzies to be brought in and registered. Standing near him was Private Willy Cornish.

“Hello boys. Do we have any short timers standing around?”

“Sure,” replied Manring. “You finally going to get started on your house?”

“You know I wouldn’t let lizzies build my home. No, we need about thirty to carry supplies for the hunting expedition that’s heading out to Iguanodon Heath. I expect it will be about three or four weeks work.”

“Looks like we’ve got about thirty over with that lot,” said Cornish, pointing to a group of reptilians waiting for prospective employers.

“You want old Kendric as a guide though,” said Manring. “Or at least one of his crew.”

“I wouldn’t mind going out to Iguanodon Heath, just to look around, you know,” said Cornish.

“I’d go,” said Manring.

“Me too,” said a voice behind Saba. He turned around to find Shrubb standing there.

“Fine.” Saba rolled his head around to release the tension in his neck. “Shrubb, you go pick out thirty strong looking lizzies and tell them they’re hired. Have them meet Haarhoff’s team before first light. The four of us will go out to the Heath with the hunters and then come back on our own. Of course, we’ll all have to get Clark’s permission. Now, I’m going to go see Kendric.”

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