Milton shifted uncomfortably among the ferns, moving his weight from one haunch to the other. Pooping in an unfamiliar spot was always stressful, and the noise from the playground tightened him up even worse than usual. His hams were prickly from the heat and pins and needles brought about by a long squat. I really should be doing more yoga, he thought.
But going to class meant that other herbivores would see how inflexible and fat he was, and Milton always felt he was the poster child for Doing It Wrong. Maybe he could just stream yoga videos on his iPad and practice alone at home.
He pushed a little. Nothing. Pushed again. He could feel the first pellet six inches from freedom, stone-hard, stuck, and blocking its comrades from exit. Dehydration, probably, or possibly too many gingko nuts. If he could just get this plug out the rest would come easy, he was sure of it.
Fixing his brow, he pushed too hard, and strained a suprised warble from his crest by accident. Oh, God, if the children heard the sound they’d be on him in seconds.
Some of the other Parasaurolophus on the island loved the humans, but Milton preferred solitude, especially while pooping. The Settler children always begged him to toot little songs while they danced around him like a maypole. The children were cute, but Milton knew his songs weren’t any good and that was why none of the adults ever danced around Milton, the inflexible and fat maypole dinosaur.
Perhaps doing downward-facing dog would move things around enough to shake the pellet loose. He licked his beak and tried again. Mid-pose he contemplated his tail, which reminded him of the time he had knocked over the velvet ropes at the bank with it. Everyone looked at him (everyone was always looking at him) and then the ropes fell and made a tremendous crash, which only made everyone look at him some more.
The sound of crunching leaves told Milton that he was no longer alone. He looked up into the face of a little human, caked in slop and burrs. Milton couldn’t tell the males from females when they were this small, but he did notice the muddy turnip the creature held in one paw.
A turnip. Goodness! Eating a turnip might be just the thing to loosen up the sluices. He sniffed and clicked his beak hopefully. The child made a little warble of its own. “Toot!” it barked. “Toot!”
Milton reached forward and nipped at the turnip but the child pulled it out of reach and frowned. “Toot!”
Several other children had taken notice from across the schoolyard and started running towards him. The turnip bringer turned towards the approaching pack and shouted something in its chirpy stacatto language.
The child turned back to Milton, joined by a dozen similarly filthy companions. It beckoned towards the dinosaur, waving the turnip under Milton’s nose. It whispered slyly as its cold blue eyes met Milton’s gaze. “Toot.”
The ring of children began to chant. “Toot! Toot! Toot! Toot!”
Very well, thought Milton, a performance, then.
He inhaled deeply, expanding his ribcage as far as he could. The children fairly rippled with excitement as Milton’s mighty diaphraghm flexed in preparation for an epic bellow.
A chill suddenly swept over Milton’s body. Every scale from crest to shoulders seemed to prick up on its own, and, with a sickening slurch, something terrible shifted inside his gut.
Oh no. It was coming. Milton turned to run, but was blocked on every side by the tiny humans. He had no desire to trample the little brown creatures but perhaps if he could just nudge one of th–
A grapefruit-sized mass of moist fiber shot from between Milton’s legs and struck one of the children in the neck. The child collapsed, shocked, and Milton thought he saw a fragment of gingko nut stuck to the child’s lip. The other children burst into raucous laughter.
Milton whirled to apologize and the rest came forth in a torrent. Smaller lumps splattered the turnip bearer with chunky filth. A green liquid ribbon arced and danced as Milton turned, dousing a semicircle of children. The laughter turned to shrieks as the little humans fled, slipping and stumbling in the pool of waste. The turnip, long rendered inedible without a good washing, was mashed into a broken patty by panicked feet.
I’m sorry, Milton thought. So sorry. Forgive me. His knees trembled as the last trickles left his body and dripped onto the leaves below. With the children now silent, the pitter-plops were the only sounds left in the world.
The dinosaur turned and slunk away towards his swamp, keenly aware of the angry mob’s hot glare from the relative cleanliness of the schoolyard pond.