On the verge of collapse, the gentle bumbling triceratops squinted into the setting sun, hoping desperately that her eyes were deceiving her. The grey expanse sparkled in the soft light, an innocent beauty that belied its endlessly barren nature. Optimistic by nature, it was difficult for the gentle bumbling triceratops to fully realize her predicament. In fact, her optimism may have been a contributing factor to her current reality, although in her state it can be forgiven if her mind was too preoccupied for such introspection. Her brows furrowed over her dry eyes as she lowered her gaze from the horizon. Another hour, at most, of light, and warmth, and easy navigation.
"I know I am not dead," she remembered the menacing tricycle of prestige calmly proclaiming.
"How is that?" She had stopped, half out of curiousity and half from boredom, to question the menacing stranger.
The tricycle of prestige blinked as if awakened from a dream, and slowly turned to answer, "Through the eucalyptus and the beetles of tomorrow." Disappointed by the nonsensical and unamusing answer, the gentle triceratops nodded and turned to bumble on through the tree-lined path. The menacing tricycle of prestige continued her calm babblings behind her, her voice rhythmic and soothing like a rushing spring, a thought that brought her mind back to her present predicament.
"If only I had pockets on my totally awesome neck shield thing, I could have brought an emergency beacon, some flint, and a compass. Damn," thought bumbling triceratops, a little too late. Interrupting her useless browbeating, the falling light had lengthened the shadow of an object in the distance, catching her attention. With a renewed burst of energy, she bumbled towards the stray object in the, not caring what it was so much as that it simply was.
"A lamp?!" She asked aloud to no one in particular. With nothing better to do, she began to examine the ordinary object, made unusual by context. With surprising dexterity for a bumbling triceratops, she flipped the switch, only to jump back in astonishment when it flicked on. Her exhaustion forgotten in the puzzle of the moment, she pulled at the lamp and, when met with resistance, began to dig at its base to uncover the hypothesized cord. Digging with abandon, she almost didn't notice the thickening consistency of the material she was so feverishly digging through until the wet sand gave way to fresh cool water. In the joy of this glorious discovery, she forgot for a moment the mysterious instigator of it all: the single brass wire that could now be seen delicately draped along the side of the hole and forming a coil just below the surface of the dark liquid. The triceratops swooped down to the water, even more bumbling than usual in her hurry to quench her dry throat, and touched her long tongue to its seductive surface.
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAvast!!!" she would have yelled if her tongue had not been paralized on the surface of the dark liquid. Instead, she only gaped in wide-eyed fear, her more mobile limbs uselessly flailing in the mud, causing her to sink deeper in the mysterious abyss. As each bumbling body part touched the surface, it too became immobile. The stillness after the paralysis of the body and before the paralysis of the mind...was deafening. With her body useless, and after attempts at telekinesis proved futile, she tried to silence the screaming building inside her mind. Then...left shoulder. Coolness. She felt the mud as it oozed down her leg, her entire mind now keenly focused on the new sensation. Because she knew what it foretold.
The mud so carelessly tossed aside while digging had begun to ooze back into the hole, sliding down the sides, covering the water. Covering the gentle, now paralyzed, triceratops. Back on the surface, the grey expanse sparkled in the lamplight, an innocent beauty that belied its endlessly barren nature.
As the mud condensed around her, her breathing began to slow. She tasted dirt in her mouth, felt it clogging her nostrils. With the dirt came another sensation. A faint whisp of life perked her senses. Her acute sense of smell focused on identifying the scent. Eucalyptus. The fresh, tantalizing smell of eucalyptus. Now that she could identify it, the scent filled her nostrils. It filled her ears and neck shield thing, her hooves and her thick, previously impermeable skin. Freed from the dirt, she swam through the scent, following it as it grew ever stronger towards its source. Pushed forward now, as if by a current, she sped forward uncontrollably. Suddenly pushed free and away from the current, she sailed weightless through the air before slamming into a hard surface. First she felt her breath. Then the warmth on her skin.
"Am I alive?" She wondered aloud. The sound of the voice, not her own, jolted her to consciousness. She squinted in the midday sun and tried to assess the situation. Her body felt small, not as bumbly. She looked down and saw a wheel. She looked back and saw a leather seat and shiny red body sloping down to two rear wheels. Behind the seat she noticed she was carrying a cardboard box, with writing scribbled on the side.
"Beetles. For lunch tomorrow."
"It appears I am not dead," said the gentle bumbling tricycle.