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Charlie MacDuff and the Test of Time
by I. MacPenn

Chapter 1: Tug-of-War

"You're scared," taunted Claude. "You're too chicken to even try to climb on it. It's just like a giant cow - I bet you're scared of cows, too. I bet you can't climb up to its head. If you do, you can be in our group." There was a round of snickering when he said that last part. Charlie was humiliated, but he forced himself to smile. "Of course I can," he said.

Charlie, Claude and all the kids from their class at school were watching a Brachiosaurus eat leaves from the top of a very tall tree. It was about 20 feet away from where they stood. The Brachiosaurus was at least 40 feet tall - it had a long, snake-like neck, a tiny head, a huge body, a long tail, and bumpy, gray skin that looked like it was peeling off. Altogether, this huge dinosaur was the size of a big building, but its head was only 2 feet long.

The Brachiosaurus wasn't moving at all, except for its head. It was stripping leaves and entire branches from the treetops. As it ate, the kids were getting showered with shredded bits of leaves and twigs.

The Sun was blazing overhead and Charlie was sweating, but not entirely from the heat. He took a very deep breath, gritted his teeth, and started running toward the Brachiosaurus. As he neared the middle of the tail, he jumped up and hung onto it. He swung one leg over the top, and started crawling up to the body. Charlie was surprised how rough and sandpapery the skin was. He moved up the tail to the huge body and then up to the shoulders. He stopped for a moment when he got to the neck - it was almost straight up from there.

Climbing up the neck was a lot like climbing a giant rope in gym class. He had to dig his heels into the dinosaur's tough skin and push himself up slowly, grabbing handfuls of skin to hold onto. The Brachiosaurus didn't even react to Charlie. He finally got to just below the head and heard a few of the kids cheer. He was about to go back down triumphantly, when the dinosaur started to move. A large branch almost knocked Charlie off, and he yelped, but he managed to stay on. This was not part of Charlie's plan.

He heard some of his friends yell, "Get off, Charlie, hurry," but their voices faded quickly as the Brachiosaurus walked away. Charlie had a great view from his perch and saw that the Brachiosaurus was heading for the river. He immediately realized that if the Brachisaurus was going to get a drink in the river, he had better get down from the neck really fast, or he was going for a swim. The river was only a few hundred feet away, and that was just a few steps for this enormous animal.

There were dozens of other dinosaurs drinking along the banks of the river, and the Brachiosaurus went between two of them, another Brachiosaurus and a Stegosaurus. Charlie caught a glimpse of them, but he was too busy shimmying down the Brachiosaurus' neck to notice much of anything. When they got to the river, the Brachiosaurus began to lower its neck to the water, but Charlie wasn't down all the way yet. He had to scramble backwards and uphill to get to the body, and he just made it before the animal's tiny head was in the water.

Charlie was now sitting on the Brachiosaurus' shoulders. It was drinking, making loud, slurping sounds, and the neck moved slightly up and down with each gulp.

The Brachiosaurus had pushed the Stegosaurus over to make room for itself along the river bank, and the Stegosaurus swung its spiked tail at the Brachiosaurus and whacked it with its thagomizer (the spikes at the end of the tail). After a delay of a couple of seconds, the Brachiosaurus jumped slightly, stopped drinking, and turned its head around to the left to see what the irritation was. When it jumped, Charlie was knocked a few feet in the air, and when he landed on the Brachiosaurus, he started to slip down its back.


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