Deep within a lush jungle, it was peaceful. The sun streamed overhead through the trees, illuminating the cool ground with the rays of the beckoning morning. Birds and crickets chirped their merry lives, hardly bothered by any of the surrounding sounds of the bigger residents of this fresh paradise.
From out of the bushes, a creature appeared, slowly plodding its way through the jungle, sniffing out the best possible plants to eat. This creature had been known to exist millions of years back in time, and even now, amazingly, thanks to the unknown existence of this very jungle home where it lived, its kind still flourished with all the many others that too had existed since such a long time ago.
This was a dinosaur.
A male juvenile Stegosaurus, to be exact.
Sniffing out a nearby bush, it walked over and glanced around for a moment, expecting any sounds or signs of a predator. But when nothing was evident, it turned back to the bush and began to chew at the green breakfast that would satisfy its stomach.
As it ate, another creature walked out into the clearing from behind the Stego. It was a Triceratops, a grown female. It too curiously looked around for any signs of danger, yet there was no sign of such a probability. Content, the Triceratops walked up to a nearby tree, and began to run its sharp-pointed horns against the bark, sharpening them for preparation against attacking predators.
The Stego turned its head to look at the Triceratops, hearing the scraping of the horns against the tree bark. The Stego had earlier smelt the Triceratops, but knowing it was simply a neighbouring herbivore, it simply accepted its presence and minded its own business. The Stego continued to eat, and the Triceratops continued to sharpen its horns upon the tree.
Then suddenly, from a far distance off, a bellowing roar echoed through the jungle.
Both the Stego and Triceratops looked up upon hearing that roar, and then, in the distance, another familiar sound was heard. It had been a few times now hearing this strange sound, but whatever it was, it made them uneasy.
Close nearby, a small little figure hid within the bushes. It had been spying upon the Stegosaurus and the Triceratops. Clearly these two dinosaurs were too big for a little thing like that to take on straight up. It would take brains, not just brawn, and a lot more others to take down such big herbivores.
The little figure was clearly not able to hunt on its own.
Now, however, upon hearing the sound of the horrible roar in the distance, and the strange sound that followed it once again, the small being’s mind was pulled away from taking on the delicious meat of plant-eaters. The figure sneaked back quietly into the jungle, making enough stealth within its footsteps to prevent being heard. It ran within the direction of where the roar had come from, ploughing deep through the jungle brush and keeping an eye out for any other predators that might be lurking about.
A few minutes later, the little figure came running out of the jungle scrub and onto a beach, where the big blue waters lapped gently upon the sand, beckoning the little figure to come closer. As she emerged from the shadowy jungle of her home, the figure was illuminated by the bright sunlight shining overhead.
Upon this island infested with creatures dated back to millions of years in time, it was a strange thing…a very strange thing indeed, to see a young human girl, about the age of twelve. Her skin was fairly pinkish-white though slightly tanned, and she wore a strangely-fashioned array of jungle garments, covering from her legs upwards to her chest. Dark-blonde hair streamed down from her head, although it didn’t seem to get in the way of her cute face, with sparkling blue eyes equipped with the stare of a determined predator.
But the most interesting aspect was her posture. She was bending forward a touch, her arms slightly out in front of her, as if she were in a bipedal position. If one were there to study her correctly, her posture might mimic that of a predator in question…that of possibly a T-Rex or a Velociraptor.
This little human girl, strangely jungle-dressed and dinosaur-posing, inquisitively sniffed the air, as if checking for anything out of the ordinary. Perhaps the roar had come from Jawline again, the merciless Tylosaurus (1)that lived out in the open seas around the border of her island home. Had he perhaps claimed another of those strange metal objects that floated upon the sea?
Over a number of years, the jungle girl had learned that the destructive dinosaur often attacked these strange metal objects, as if Jawline were a guardian to anything that tried to invade their island home, fuelled by his gnawing hatred to everything but himself. She remembered once seeing him attack a metal object close to the beach, which had been robbed of some strange lifeforms she had seen trying to scurry away and escape into the island; most of which had lost their lives to Jawline’s cruelty. Of the rest, no one could tell…either death by other dinos, or starvation. Either way, they were never seen again.
Some of the metal objects had survived the merciless attacks of Jawline, and as such had ended up stranded upon a close part of the beach near where she was now. Perhaps she would see another one wash up today. The jungle girl was just about to go and investigate when she heard a sudden sound from behind her.
She immediately whipped around. Coming out of the jungle curiously was a dinosaur that walked upon two legs, a bipedal itself. Its strides matched that of an ostrich. It had a black and white crest upon its head with a bird-like beak, and compared to its body covered with a pattern of black, blue and purple feathers, its paws carried even bigger black and white-tipped feathers.
It was an Oviraptor. (2)
It was a young one; a kid, just like the young jungle girl watching it.
The Oviraptor let out a curious chirp as it took careful steady strides towards the young jungle girl, until they were practically face to face. The two simply glared at each other.
The jungle girl smiled, and chirped herself. She held out her hand, and put it upon the Oviraptor’s beak. The dinosaur chirped back in a curious tone, and then relaxed into the hand, accepting the girl’s gentle petting. It was evident then that the girl and the dinosaur knew each other, and were content with each other’s company. True, it seemed that the girl and the Oviraptor in fact were best friends upon this island that they called home.
Done with their greeting, the Oviraptor chirped to her human chum, communicating in its strange, foreign dinosaur language that was native here to the island. The girl responded in kind, having learned this mysterious dialect over the years since she had come to live here in this dinosaur-infested paradise.
Turning towards the beach that led out towards where Jawline’s menacing attack had come from, the girl communicated clearly that she wanted to investigate. The Oviraptor showed a little concern, but also curiosity. Another quick chirp and then both of them were suddenly pelting across the beach; the girl running at an amazing speed whilst kicking up the loose sand under her feet; the Oviraptor striding at a perfect speed to match the girl’s. Together, they ran side by side, human and dino chums.
Finally, they came across the terrain where the metal objects lay strewn upon the beach. The human civilisation had a word for such objects: boats. They lay strewn in different angles, some still standing straight, others laying on their sides, some not even complete and laying in pieces but evidently in the shallow waters.
The girl and Oviraptor approached carefully, keeping an eye out for trouble. The open waters in the distance were very calm, and the scent in the air made it clear that Jawline had indeed been close and had engaged in battle, but had by now left the vicinity.
Sure enough, upon the side of the boat graveyard, a new vessel appeared to be evident by the plumes of smoke rising up from it and a fire raging somewhere inside. The vessel appeared to be strangely shaped, showing only a slight similarity to other boats in the graveyard, being part military, but it was altogether different.
The jungle girl and her Oviraptor pal sniffed carefully for any new scents, though the smoke bothered them. The young dinosaur pecked at the ground for a moment before the girl then wandered close to the new wreck, and then noticed something suspicious.
There appeared to be indents in the sand, something that she could vaguely remember as footprints. Whatever had made them, it must have gone straight into the jungle. Calling her friend over, the girl had a suspicion that these ‘footprints’ had probably been made by some more of those strange creatures that walked on two legs, much like the rare survivors from Jawline’s rampages.
Were they what the local dinosaurs often called…humans?
Perhaps the jungle girl did not know much about humans, but one thing was clear to all life upon the island…they were all wild, capable of riding upon these strange metal derelicts over the open seas and coming to invade her island home, only to perish either from Jawline or any other predators living here.
Her Oviraptor friend sniffed the nearby air, and from its chirping, the girl could tell that the scent was fresh without having to smell it herself. Wherever the wild humans were, they were not far off. Perhaps if she followed them, she would be able to see a wild human up close, before they ceased to live.
Chirping to her friend, the jungle girl immediately turned away from the derelict graveyard and pelted into the darkness of the jungle. The Oviraptor immediately followed.
Meanwhile, elsewhere further down the beach…
The gentle sound of the waves slowly stirred him into consciousness.
Eugene’s eyes blinked open. He was lying on his side. He felt like he had only slept a short while, a diluted sleep that had brought no rest and no dreams. He turned over to his other side, expending as little energy as possible in doing so.
Then the sound of water rolling and gently slapping him in the face knocked him to his senses.
He groaned, and then, straining to move, he was overcome with coughing. The aftermath of the attack on the ship and the fight for survival was finally getting to him.
Looking up, he thought he could see trees in the near distance. But he did not move. Perhaps it was all just a chimera, a play of the mind, even if it seemed so comforting, to take in the colour green, after so much blue ocean.
But the trees remained in his sight, even after blinking his eyes a few times. In fact, they began to look more like a jungle.
Until then, he hadn’t noticed he was lying on the sand. He wondered why the ground he was lying on felt so grainy; so dry…shouldn’t it be wet and cold, with no depth? Was this heaven or something? It certainly didn’t seem like it.
Then finally, the scent that came to his nose became the judge. It hit him hard; the smell of vegetation. After nothing but salt-water-bleached smells, this reek of vegetable organic matter was intoxicating. It was then that Eugene suddenly realized he wasn’t going mental.
Oh my God, he thought. Oh my God! The world wasn’t going to fade away; it was real!
He stretched out his arms and spread his fingers through the soft sand where he lay, cupping it into his hands and watching it cascade through his fingers, dropping back to the ground.
“I’m on land! I’m alive!” he managed to shriek out. Feeling a comforting rush of energy boost through him, Eugene started to pull himself up…and then… “OW!”
An unexpected pain suddenly blasted through his left leg like the explosion of an underground bomb. He tipped off balance and fell onto his back. For a moment, he lay like that, whining as the pain forced its way through him until finally it started to calm down. His left leg was aching badly. He lifted the top half of his body up using his arms for support, and he looked down at his twitching left leg. It looked badly injured; mostly around the kneecap. It wasn’t going to move easily without a struggle.
Looking back at the jungle, he slowly started to drag himself towards it, towards the world of green. He took it carefully, making sure not to move his left leg too much, to prevent too much pain from occurring. After a couple of minutes, he finally reached it. Heaving himself up to a sitting position, he looked over his injury. If he was able to bind his injury enough, he would at least be able to walk.
Looking over at his shoulder, he saw a torn fragment of his lab shirt hanging loose. Taking hold of it, he pulled hard and tore it off. The piece was just big enough for him to wrap around his knee. Eugene placed the fabric over it, pulled down a nearby vine and wrapped it around a couple of times, tying it only tight enough so that he would only put so much pressure on his knee, and it would be enough to keep his bandage on.
When he was finished, his leg felt a little bit better. Then Eugene reached up, and took a good grip of a nearby tree. Putting his arms around it, he carefully started to pull himself up, making sure not to stand on his hurt leg too much. He took it carefully, bit by bit, even though blood rushed from his head and the ground shook. Though dizziness and the possibility of fainting lingered in his mind, he kept himself focused to reach his goal of getting onto his feet.
Finally, after a bit of effort, Eugene managed to stand up, with most of his weight leaning on one leg. His injured leg still felt like a hundred hot-white needles, but it still wasn’t as bad as it had been when he had just found out about it.
Looking up at the tree, he noticed a branch that he was certain he could break. He took hold of it, and pulled it, easing it this way and that, until it finally snapped off. Then placing the branch under his arm, he used it as a crotch to hold up his injured leg. That would keep the pressure off it and keep the balance on his good leg too.
Taking a deep breath, he inhaled deeply, and blew out, feeling strangely better, perhaps rejuvenated by the organic scents of the jungle world he had found himself at.
Then feeling a bit more sense return to him, he finally checked himself over and assessed the state he was in. His clothes were soaked right through and stuck to his skin. His hair was matted down, and the sand stuck to his face. He felt sick right to his stomach; it was a miracle he was alive at all for that matter.
Eugene stared out towards the ocean, thinking that all of this sudden trouble had left him here on this unexplained, undiscovered island, without the crew of US Squad Five Ten, stranded here alone, wet and seasick. For a moment when he thought he would die the moment the aquatic monster attacked the boat, and he had fallen overboard, choking on gallons of seawater, he had accepted his death before losing unconscious.
But it seemed that this wasn’t his day.
The only thing he had left now…was salvation.
I’ll find a way to survive, he thought to himself. I’ve got to.
Leaning upon his branch-crotch, he turned to the side of the beach on his left, and decided to try and follow the coastline that way. Maybe he could find some help…if there was any. It was a long shot, but he had to try. Eugene began hobbling across the beach, his eyes kept balancing between the beach ahead of him and the sea, possibly looking out for another sea monster that might suddenly attack.
There was no sea monster watching the young scientist from the sea.
But it didn’t mean he wasn’t being watched either.
From hidden deep in the shrubbery, a pair of narrow fiery orange eyes watched with a slight hint of curiosity. It wasn’t often the creature saw wild humans still alive on the beach for this long. It could tell by the scent of blood that it had been injured, but somehow, it had managed to improvise and was still able to move…weakly, yes, but undoubtedly moving. It seemed this one had a bit of willpower to survive.
It had mostly been through curiosity though, that the owner of the eyes hadn’t just attacked right then and now, and struck the wild human down.
Letting out a slight growl, the eyes slipped back into the jungle, creeping through without much sound as it continued to follow the human adjacently across the beach from the jungle.
Elsewhere, somewhere in the jungle…
“Calm down, Brooks. Stop beating yourself over it!”
“But I could have saved him…honestly, why did you hold me back?”
“Brooks, there was no way you could have just dove in to save him and then somehow magically gotten back onto the boat. That monster could have eaten you too!” Private Lenny Joels tried to comfort the distraught zoologist. He knew how much Carla Brooks had gotten along with Eugene Kalypti; they had known each other since college. After all those years they had become equals in the study of both flora and fauna; whereas Eugene was the botany guru Carla was the animal expert.
And the last thing she had expected when the boat had been attacked was to lose her old friend so suddenly. It had been a pretty bad bombshell that hit her.
Joels looked over his shoulder to see Halley approaching, his AK-825 automatic at the ready just in case. They were all deep in the jungle, and since they were all in unfamiliar territory, they couldn’t afford to take chances. Anything could happen; maybe something even worse than the boat getting wrecked, but they silently prayed that something like that wouldn’t really happen.
“Come on,” Halley told them. “We’ve gotta keep moving.” Joels nodded and turned to help pull Brooks to her feet. The zoologist was at first resistant, but finally gave in and went along with them, as they went to re-join the rest of the group.
US Squad Five Ten hadn’t physically suffered too much from the attack though. Private Lawley had only gotten a sprained ankle which Medical Officer Rudic had treated already, and Trieste’s arm was broken, but other than that there were hardly any other injuries.
Even the high-ranking soldiers were okay, including Lieutenant Grove. Upon seeing the privates return with Brooks, he nodded. “Let’s saddle up, Malay,” he told Sergeant Malay. “If we find a good place to take cover before dark, we’ll at least survive the night.”
“Aye, sir,” Malay nodded, and turned to the privates. “Okay, let’s head out people. Take up positions on both flanks…we’ll need all the cover we can get.” The privates immediately began scouting around as the group continued to push their way through the jungle, while Halley and Joels escorted Brooks with them.
Then suddenly, there was a shout from nearby. “Sarge! SARGE!”
Malay turned his head. “What is it, Yallin?”
Yallin shouted back. “I think you’ll wanna take a look at this!”
The group immediately turned and dashed towards where Yallin was shouting. But as they approached, something came to their noses that definitely didn’t smell right. It smelt like there was a carcass or something nearby.
It didn’t take them long to find Yallin standing right in front of it. “Geez, Harry,” Joels held his nose with a free hand. “Did you really have to show us this?”
“Shut up, Len,” Yallin snapped at him. “Have you even seen what this is?” He indicated to the carcass. The group came in a bit closer, and took a better look at it.
While most of them just stared with confusion, one of them seemed to twig. “God, you’re saying that this is…” his voice trailed off.
Corporal Levin looked up. “Brooks, what do you think?”
Carla came over, and while holding her nose, she examined the carcass. Her eyes were as wide as saucers the moment she hit her verdict. “No doubt,” she took a step back. “This is a juvenile Hadrosaur, probably male…but it’s a bit hard to tell.”
Lieutenant Grove stared at her. “You mean what I think you mean, Brooks?”
“Sweet Lord!” Private Gonte muttered. “You’re saying we’re looking at the carcass of a bloody dinosaur?”
Anderson looked at him. “Yeah, Trev. That’s exactly what we’re bloody looking at!”
“But how?” Now questions were beginning to be pointlessly asked around the group. Even the hard-case Sergeant Malay was showing confusion. Suddenly finding a dinosaur carcass in this jungle on an island they didn’t even know was obviously raising questions amongst the group.
This is, until suddenly…
“Uh, guys, I think this means trouble,” Owen suddenly spoke up above everybody.
“What you mean, Roy?” Yallin asked. “This dino’s dead…and even if it wasn’t it’s not a flamin’ carnivore at least.”
“No, that isn’t…” Owen suddenly pointed above them. “But that is.”
Everybody turned and looked up…suddenly seeing a huge head rising up from a hiding spot within the tall grass. It appeared to be a young, juvenile T-rex, just simply staring at them with a fixed expression upon all of them. Its sharp cold gaze seemed to freeze the group, as if they all were suddenly mesmerized by the sight of the meat-eating hunter.
For a slight moment, all remained quiet between the group and the very alive dinosaur.
Then a small growl escaped from the T-rex’s lips.
From amongst the group, Brooks thought, Dear Lord, is this for real?
Then the juvenile roared. A deep, booming roar that sent a huge, hot, rancid whiff of breath upon all of them. The moment it hit them…
The group immediately turned and ran. They knew too well that it had already seen them and had been watching the whole time.
“Bloody run for it!” Halley shouted out, and the group, without even needing to hear that, obeyed without question. They stuck together as they ran in the other direction from the juvenile and the carcass.
But then, suddenly, in front of them, an even bigger form began to emerge from the trees. It was a much bigger T-rex, (3) possibly the parent to the juvenile, staring intently at them as it began to walk in their direction, letting out a roar of its own.