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Vincent quickly turned his head around, looking towards the direction of Walter’s gaze. What he saw was a very gruesome scene.

A large dinosaur carcass.

Vinny felt bile rise up his throat, but he managed to keep it in. This wasn’t the first time he saw a dinosaur carcass, but not one like this.

The animal was about twenty-eight feet long, and judging by its size, it was probably two tons when it was alive. Now, however, the carcass was bloated and it had a foul stench. Vinny could hear the buzzing of flies.

What the hell? he thought.

Naturally, curiosity got the better of him and he inched closer to the remains. Vinny could hear Walt follow him, obviously wondering what exactly was the dead animal in front of them.

They walked around the animal’s head. Vinny noticed a long snout with ridges along the sides, as well as a pair of tiny horns located above the front of the eyes. Half of the skull was charred and black, the other half, to Vinny’s disgust, was maimed horribly. There was no skin, hardly any flesh, only the bones of the head were left, pale white with faint red spots that seemed to have been where there was once blood.

Vinny also noticed that half of the animal’s body was black, while the rest of it appeared to be a shade of bronze yellow. He also realized that the carcass was partially eaten. The whole side of the creature had been ripped and torn, exposing deep red ribs that stretched into the air. Vinny could see some of the muscles and even a few massive organs that were damaged or untouched.

A cloud of flies buzzed above the corpse. As they lifted off, Vinny could see a few burned feathers on the creature’s back and neck. He also noticed numerous bite marks on much of the corpse. Some of them were small, but there were also huge puncture marks, obviously left by some sort of large carnivore.

“What do you think it is?” Walt asked.

 Vinny squatted down, not taking his eyes off of the animal. “It’s hard to say, but I might be able to identify it.” His brain began to work, the cogs meshing together. He pushed his big-lensed glasses up the bridge of his nose. He took in the carcass in full detail, his eyes darting left and right, up and down.

“It was obviously a medium-sized theropod, over eight meters or so,” he observed. “Weighing probably two tons. Short neck, a typical trait. Reduced forelimbs.Three fingers on each hand capped with claws, the middle claw being the biggest. Long snout, prominent ridges and small horns above and in front of the eyes covered in keratin.” Vinny then stood up straight once more and shifted his gaze to meet Walt’s. “I’d say that this is the remains of an Allosaurus fragilis, a medium-sized carnivore from the Late Jurassic Period.”

Walt looked at the carcass for a brief moment, taking in all the details, hen nodded. “It makes sense. There can truly be no doubt. But what really bothers me is the fact that half of the body is burned. How did that happen?”

Vinny returned his gaze back to the dead Allosaurus. From where he stood, he could see some of the red muscles along the neck and back that had yet to be eaten. Walt was right about the burns. The whole front of the body was charred and black, as if a fire was thrown at it.

This makes no sense, he thought. There are no signs of a forest fire anywhere around here. All the trees and undergrowth are perfectly intact. So how did this thing die?

To many scientists of the age, paleontology was like a murder mystery. A body is found, they identify it, and then they try to find out how it died. The trouble was, though, fossils never told the story of the animal’s life or death, so it was up to the scientists to try to figure it out by looking at clues on the remains and by researching the environmental as it was at the time of the animal’s age. There were many factors that could have led to the inevitable death of the dinosaur, such as injury, sickness, starvation, even getting caught in a flood that drowned the animal. But even then it was all speculation. There just wasn’t a smoking gun. There was no sign somewhere saying “This is how I died”.

But here, Vinny had the remains of one of the many species of dinosaurs found. The trouble, and the irony, is that he still had trouble trying to find out how the Allosaurus died.

Vinny studied the body more closely, looking for any clue he could find. He looked at the bite marks on the remains, but he thought it was safe to assume that these wounds were inflicted long after the dinosaur died. Plus, there was the fact that the corpse was bloated, so it has been lying around for some time. There is no way that the Allosaurus was killed in battle by another dinosaur.

Suddenly, something caught Vinny’s eye. He peered more closely and saw something embedded in the dinosaur neck shine.

What is that? Vinny thought. He turned to Walt. “Hey,” he said. “Reach into my back and give me a pair of gloves and a knife. I think I found something.”

Walt nodded and Vinny turned around. He heard Walt zip the bag open and felt it move against his back as Walt rummaged through it. A few moments later, Walt zipped the bag shut and handed Vinny a small surgical knife and a pair of pale blue latex gloves.

Vinny snapped both the gloves on his hands, wiggled his fingers, then took hold of the knife in his right hand. He inched closer to the body and got down to his knees. He placed his free hand on the sickly warm, red flesh of the neck, looking down at the object. It was small and made out of some sort of metal. It was wedged into what Vinny believed to be the spinal cord. The rotten smell of death whacked his nose.

Phew, that stinks! he thought.

Taking a deep breath, he drove the blade of the knife directly beneath the object with a soft moist slap. Blood rolled warmly on his gloved hands, dripping off his fingers and soaking the gloves. He then wiggled the blade around, attempting to shake the object out, but it was stuck in the carcass like a vice. Still, he continued to shake the blade. He listened to the sharp cutting sounds as he knife wiggled around.

But the object had a very stubborn grip. All he got from trying this was a lot of blood on his gloves that was now rolling down his arms.

Vinny grunted as he pulled the knife out, a tiny spurt of blood slashing. Okay, so that did nothing, he thought. That’s a lot of muscle tissue.Looks like I’ll have to cut it out instead.

He jabbed the knife into the spinal cord, carefully avoiding to damage the object. He then began to cut beneath whatever it was. He grunted with effort, biting his lip; the muscle tissue was thick and hard to penetrate, not to mention the fact that it was so close to the vertebrae. Vinny had to use almost all his strength to keep cutting at it. Sweat rolled off his face.

And just when he thought his shoulder would give out, the object fell to the ground, now severed completely off.

Vinny sighed, exasperated. Finally.

He reached down, picked up the object, and brought it close to his face, inspecting it carefully. Whatever it was, it was definitely broken because he saw the transparent layer of plastic was snapped open, the tiny gleaming, silver wires hanging out. He believed that it was the top part of the small item. It was roughly half the size of a pen cap and had tiny red droplets of blood. He noticed that it had a tiny light inside, but of course it wasn’t on. On the bottom, he saw two long thin, needles stained with blood that were broken off.

“What is that thing?” Walt asked.

Vinny stood up, looking at Walt. “I’m not sure, but I’m sure that it isn’t a biological part of the dinosaur. Yet I have a feeling that this is important.” He shouldered off his pack, unzipped a pouch, and slipped the object inside. Zipping it shut, he placed it back onto his back. “I think we should hold onto it and try to figure out what it is first chance we get.”

Walt nodded, his face grim. “Well, while we put that on hold, I think we should try to figure out what ate the body.”

Walt stood beside Walt and got down on his knee. Vinny took his spot next to him, inspecting the wounds. “Well, we can rule out dinosaurs from the dromaeosaur and spinosaur families. The bite marks aren’t deep enough to be a tyrannosaur, and the jaws aren’t the right shape to belong to a carnosaur.”

Walt looked at Vinny. “You think this might be the work of a dinosaur in the megalosaur family?”

Vinny put a finger under his chin. “No doubt about it. The question really is which one is it?”

That was when the ground trembled. A soft thump. The sound of heavy footfalls.

Walt and Vincent stood up quickly, alert. Vinny looked around, his heart pounding, his mind racing. What is that? Where’s it coming from?

Vinny’s eyes caught a flash of gold and he looked back. His heart paused, then pumped an explosive beat.

The animal was huge, roughly as big as a killer whale. It was pale gold with navy blue dorsal markings. Muscles rippled under its scales. It’s long, narrow jaws bristled with sharp teeth, ropes of drool dripping. It’s three-clawed fingers curled. Two red eyes glared down at Vinny and Walt. A long tail swung side to side.

Torvosaurus tanneri, Vinny thought with a shiver.

“Oh, crud,” Vinny heard Walt say.

The dinosaur lifted its head and roared an earth-shaking cry.

“Run!” Vinny cried.

The two of them turned their backs to the dinosaur and ran. Judging by the shaking of the ground and the roars of the Torvosaurus, it decided to chase them.

Great, Vinny thought. He’s hunting us!

Vinny ran alongside Walt, pumping his legs. Sadly, he and Walt weren’t exactly the most fit people, their limbs thin and bodies like toothpicks. Naturally, the dinosaur would catch up to them. Still, fear drove Vinny to run faster.

He rushed past bushes and trees. He listened to the dinosaur tearing through the branches and crushing fallen limbs under its feet. He could hear its hot, snorting breath. He could smell its foul scent.

Vinny felt sweat roll down his face, his head bang, and his heart pound. Fear was spreading throughout his body, his blood was frozen. He glanced at Walt. Normally, Walt was calm and collected, except of course when he made exciting observations.

Or when being chased by a dinosaur.

Walt’s whole face radiated fear, his mask completely unable to hide it.

For Vinny, the feeling was mutual. He and Walt had always been so careful, they rarely had to deal with being chased by predators. They had followed all the rules; stay downwind, cover your scent if you can’t, remain hidden from view, and never interfere with nature taking its course.

This time, however, they were careless. Vinny and Walt hadn’t considered that the predator would return to the kill. Because of that, they were left completely vulnerable. With no weapons to protect themselves, they had no choice, but to retreat.

Vinny looked back over his shoulder. The Torvosaurus was quickly gaining on them, only twenty feet away. Vinny watched as it clamped its jaws around a branch, still running. With a savage jerk of its head, it snapped it clean off with a loud crack. The creature then spat the branch out and hissed, its indigo tongue slathered with spittle. Dust kicked up from under its three-toed, clawed feet. Its finger claws flexed with a menacing curl.

Vinny then turned to look forward. “He’s getting closer!”

“How close?” Walt screamed.

Suddenly, a pair of sharp, deadly jaws clamped shut on air between Vinny and Walt. Vinny tried to jump out of the way, but stumbled on his own two feet. He lost his balance and fell onto the ground. The air in his lungs surged out of him in a huff as he crashed. He rolled uncontrollably, leaves scraping his face and dirt sticking to his lips, his glasses threatening to fall off of his face.

“Vinny!”

Boom! Boom! Boom! went the footfalls of the pursuing dinosaur.

When he came to a stop, Vinny coughed and squeezed his eyes shut. He curled into a tight ball. He heard the terrifying cry of the Torvosaurus. It sounded like a call from the underworld. It sounded so close, like it was right above him.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

This is it, he thought. I’m going to die!

Another few steps, a searing flash of pain, and it would be over.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

And yet, nothing happened. He heard the dinosaur. It was still running, its breath huffing and snorting.

Vinny heard Walt scream.

A cold realization hit Vinny like a hammer.

It’s not me he’s after! he thought. He opened his eyes wide. It’s Walt!


Submitted: October 28, 2018

© Copyright 2022 Tyrannos Senpai. All rights reserved.

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Sylvermyst

Great chapter. I hope that Walt's going to be ok.

Mon, January 21st, 2019 7:16am

Author
Reply

Glad you enjoyed it.

Tue, January 22nd, 2019 9:20am

Megan Fox

Exciting time for Vinny and Walt. I agree with Sylvermyst - I hope Walt is okay
Megan

Tue, January 22nd, 2019 3:28am

Author
Reply

Thank you.

Tue, January 22nd, 2019 9:20am

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