Saturday, August 4, 2018

Magnum Thrax: Future Fossil, Part 5 of 5



Thrax saw the killer-chickens coming and doubled his pace up the dinosaur’s back. It charged about wildly, trying to throw him off. 

It slammed sideways into the wall again. 

Thrax kept his grip.

A raptor leapt at him from the ledge above, raking claws extended. Thrax flattened himself against the Tyrannosaur’s flank, and the raptor soared past with a squeal of frustration. 

He reached the neck of the Tyrannosaur. Working fast, he detached a sticky grenade from his belt and adhered it to the back of the Tyrannosaur’s thick bone brain casing. Then he jumped off and rolled. 

POUM! 

The explosive took the Tyrannosaur’s head clean off. Flesh and bone spewed everywhere; it was completely disgusting and Thrax found himself showered in brain and bone. 

The headless torso wavered. 

“Booyah!” shouted Thrax, exultant. He pumped a fist in the air… then noticed three raptors charging right at him. Before he could react, lasers from above cut them down. “Booyah!” he cried again.

Kal ran over to hug Thrax, but Thrax brushed him aside, in favour of Sally who leapt into Thrax’s arms. He spun her in a circle. “Thank God you’re safe!” he gushed, and squeezed her tight.

“Yeah,” said Kal, looking awkward. He scratched the back of his neck. “See? No need to worry. Honestly, I don’t know what all the fuss is about, she was perfectly safe…” His voice trailed off.

“What are you doing here, Sally?” Thrax asked his little sister, checking her for injuries.

Sally pointed at Kal. “Uncle Kal said it’d be a good learning experience. He showed me how to play craps and five stud poker an’ drink shots!”

Thrax looked at Kal. “I’m so going to kill you.”

“Mom called first dibs,” said Sally.

There was a high-pitched whine that caught Thrax’s attention: the blood and guts of the Tyrannosaur’s former head shimmered, including the guts on Thrax, which became quite warm. The remains of several raptors also glowed. While Thrax gaped, the organic material streaked through the air and smacked back into the ragged neck stump of the headless beast. The organic goo bubbled and squirmed as more raptor guts flew into the seething mass. 

A moment later, the mass congealed and the beast was more than whole again: a now two-headed Tyrannosaur roared pure rage, and in stereo. 

Kal and Sally both breathed, “Cooooool.”

“I call bullshit!” swore Thrax, setting Sally down and drawing a laser gun. “I killed you fair and square!” 

Bullets sent up gouts of sand around them and Thrax danced to avoid getting drilled. What was going on? Then he saw it: incredibly, several of the raptors were armed with old fashioned pistols. Thankfully, they fired awkwardly, and poorly; their claws were not designed for human weapons. 

“Mammalian dexterity, suckas!” shouted back Thrax, wiggling his left thumb at them. “Can’t be beat!” He turned and ushered Kal and Sally towards the Tyrannosaur’s lair. “Quick!” he shouted. “Into the tunnel, before it’s too late!” He pulled out his laser pistol and shot a couple charging raptors in the head, then unhooked another grenade. 

Skipping backwards after Kal and Sally, he waited for the Tyrannosaur, heretically named Big Jesus by faux-Protestant faux-raptor giant chickens, to roar again. It closed in. Mouths shut. Both of them. 

Five meters. 

Three meters away the twin maws opened wide to swallow him up, presumably a half for each. He tested the grenades’ weight, then whipped it straight into the beast’s left throat, and ducked.

WHAM!!

Goo and guts splattered him again as the head blew apart. The shock wave threw him roughly to the earth. His ears rang. He climbed back onto his feet and raced into the Tyrannosaur’s lair, where he found Kal waiting.

Alone.

“What the? Where’s Sally?” shouted Thrax, drawing close. “So help me, Kal–” 

Kal looked about wild eyed. “What? How should I know? She was here a minute ago!”

“Here!” shouted Sally. Thrax looked about wildly, then spotted her as she stepped out from a rock grotto. “I found a stairway up, Thrax! Through the crevice!”

Thrax felt an odd tingle. The guts and muck that covered his body quivered once more and streamed away as if vacuumed, strands of blood streaking through the air as if poured sideways. Even more raptor remains were sucked up this time, liberated from gravity, and gathered in the Tyrannosaur’s still steaming head stump. He could see it out the cave entrance. This time the entire body was growing larger.

“Aw, crap,” groaned Thrax, shoulders slumping forward. How many times did he have to kill the stupid thing?

“It’s gathering up organic material,” gushed Kal. “Damn, that’s amazingly well coded!” 

Thrax punched him in the shoulder and shoved him into the grotto. “Get going!” He sandwiched himself against Kal and squeezed into the narrow gap. Raptors raced into the cave. Thrax fired repeatedly, taking down one after another. But there were too many. They began to slash and claw at him. He parried as best he could with a knife, but he couldn’t block them all. Slashes on his arms healed quickly at first, then more slowly as his store of organic matter was depleted. He was a battle enhanced human, but he wasn’t invincible. 

Thrax wished he’d had a bigger lunch.

He changed tactics, aiming his laser pistol at jagged rock outcrops above. He sliced them off with a sweeping motion. Chunks fell in and piled up, cutting off the raptors. 

The weapon barrel glowed red. Not a good sign. In fact, it was a very, very bad sign and usually happened right before the weapon exploded.

“Keep moving!” he shouted. They emerged onto the floor of the chamber, by the river. The egg net was before them. Andromeda was on the far side. 

“Untie it!” she called. “Raise it up and tumble them my way, sir!” She pointed at the eggs. As she did, a bullet thudded into her chest. Then another. Thrax winced in sympathy. But Andy just grunted and remained standing. She expertly threw her hunting knife, striking the raptor marksman in the throat. 

The creature flopped forward, into the river, and was swept away into swirling foam.

“We can’t gather them up in time!” shouted Kal, racing after a rogue egg.

Thrax looked back towards the arena. Raptors were chasing down escaping Utans and ripping them to pieces. Smoke obscured the pit itself, thanks to the work of his team. The air was becoming hard to breath and stank of cordite. 

Thrax heard a triple bellow: the Tyrannosaur was back, angrier and more multi-headed than ever. They wouldn’t have much time. He checked his laser pistol’s power pack: twenty per-cent. Not much against a mad hydra-Tyrannosaur. 

And he was all out of grenades.

“Hey! Where’s Eastwood?” he yelled at Kal, who was coming back with the egg coddled in his arms. “What’d you do with my magnum?” He could do with the magnum’s nanite packed deconstructor dum-dum shells.

“Who?”

“Eastwood!”

“What? You mean the magnum?” said Kal, caressing the textured egg. “I think Red has it. The head raptor priest.”

“On first name basis with him, are you?” Thrax swore and untied one of the net’s corners, then activated his wrist and ankle jets and hovered in the air. He gestured at Sally, who’d already untied the other corner. “Pass it to me!” 

“It’s not like we were hanging out.”

Sally slipped Thrax the rope and he flew over to the south side. The glittering eggs tumbled to the bank in a pile, then began to roll. The floor of the chamber cracked and popped and then subsided. Rock creatures were guiding their young along, channeling the eggs into a deep depression. Stone arms extended out from the edges and formed a solid canopy over the eggs. 

At the last second, Kal rolled his egg into the collection.

“Keep them locked in!” shouted Thrax at the rocks, although he felt kind of stupid doing it. “Air tight!” 

“This is all happening too fast,” said Miss Jade, rushing up to Thrax. “I haven’t had the chance to establish relations!”

“Next time!” said Thrax. “Everyone make for the lift!”

Miss Jade hesitated a moment. She looked wistfully behind her, then followed after Thrax and the rest of the team.

The ground shook. The three-headed Tyrannosaur charged after them, flecks of drool flying from its great maw. It was now twice its original size. Maybe more.

“Scatter!” shouted Thrax. He ran like the devil himself was after him. In fact, he’d have preferred the devil to the triple-headed T-Rex.

Jade bumped into Thrax and yanked the neural interface out of his belt, almost tripping in the process. “Sorry, I signed this out, I’m responsible for it!” She recovered her balance and ran ahead. Crazy android, thought Thrax.
The team assaulted the rock face leading up to the exit tunnel, with Thumper bringing up the rear. Sister Cinnamon was out ahead of the others, by far. She reached the top first and hauled herself over. 

“Oh shit!” she cried.

Thrax grabbed the cliff ledge and peered over. Arrayed before Sister Cinnamon, a dozen deep, were dull brown feathered raptors, jaws agape, fore-claws spread wide, ripping toes cocked. 

Thrax looked back. Colourful male raptors and the triple-headed Big Jeez were nearing the foot of the cliff. 

There was no escape. They were caught between the males below and the females above.

Andromeda stood at the base of the cliff, and was firing into the oncoming mass.

“Cinnamon, jump!” Thrax said, reaching out with one arm for her. “There are too many! Jump!”

“Someone has to stand up for the brand!” Sister Cinnamon shouted back at him. She snapped her necklace off its gold chain. The cross emitted hosannas and the sound of trumpets. “Damn Rexutherans!” she spat at the raptor mob, and charged out of Thrax’s sight.

“What’s going on up there?” demanded Thumper, catching up to Thrax.

“Cinnamon!” shouted Thrax. “Don’t do it!”

There was an explosion of blue light. The powerful shock wave dislodged Thrax, who fell back onto the sand with a painful thud. Sally, Thumper and Kitty fell after him, arms flailing, expressions of incredulity on their faces.

As Thrax got up, the raptors fanned out, creating a semi-circle against the cliff face, hemming in his team. A moment later they parted to let the Tyrannosaur through. Red was perched upon its back, legs straddling the middle head. The raptor priest waved about a golden cross with a red ruby set in the centre, and a .357 magnum.

The red raptor wasn’t a happy camper. “What you do?!? Sick rat-mammals ruin planet!” barked Red, seething. “Now you ruin big blood-baptism! You hateful! Bad rat-mammal!” The top of its headdress had been burnt off. Blue flame danced along the burnt edges. “Now… you die!” Red tapped the Tyrannosaur with the cross and it lunged at Sally with three gaping maws. 

Thrax tried to move, to block, but wasn’t fast enough.

Thumper was. 

“Watch out, Sally!” she cried as sabre-like teeth sliced through her soft pink flesh. She screamed and thrashed and went limp. 

But Sally was saved.

“Thumper!” gasped Thrax, both horrified and awed by her sacrifice. He grabbed Thumper’s dropped rifle and hefted it up, levelled it at Red. He fired just as a wave of raptors leapt. A burly one blew apart in an explosion of superheated guts. But he missed Red. Total bullshit! 

To his left, Thrax saw Sally crawl between Andromeda’s legs. His little sister kicked madly at slashing raptor claws. They gouged bloody chunks out of Andromeda’s powerful thighs. She stabbed back with her glowing red-hot bayonet.

“I knew something like this would fucking happen!” shouted Kitty from above, still on the cliff face. She pressed herself against the rock. Stone shards burst around her as bullets struck.

Thrax traced the fire back to raptor musket men in the rear. They growled in frustration and reloaded their primitive firearms. He blew a couple of them apart with well placed shots. 

“Covering fire!” shouted Thrax. “Sable, Kitty! Get down here!” 

“We can help more from up top!” yelled Kitty, and began to climb again. “Hold on!”

Raptor bodies piled up around Andromeda and Thrax. Two raptors climbed up on the rock face behind them and launched themselves at Andromeda’s back. Thrax blew their heads off with the rifle, then it beeped and went dead: out of power. He tossed it aside and drew his hunting knives. 

“Hold on Sally! I’m coming!”

“Gimme a weapon!” shouted Sally from between Andromeda’s legs. “Lemme kill’em!”

Thrax laughed and hacked his way over. “You can use my lil’ carving knife…“

BLAM! 

Red shot him, blowing off the upper section of his left arm. He spun in the air and fell into the raptor discard body pile. 

Through blood shot eyes Thrax watched Red ululate a victory call, only to have it cut short by Miss Jade’s boot. The two became entangled and toppled down the Tyrannosaur’s back.

Up above, laser shots were pouring down. Kitty had reached the top and was providing covering fire. 

He saw Kal beside her, leaning over the cliff. “Don’t let them bite you!” he shouted down. “Their mouths are diseased! Like Komodo Dragons. Bacteria.”

Andromeda groaned to his right. Raptors tore her rifle away and flooded over her body. She fell backward atop Thrax. Raptors swarmed and slashed and bit at her, so numerous and tightly packed at first they prevented each other from getting in a killing blow. Finally, a large one with white streaked feathers settled atop her and ripped her open from neck to belly. “To die… in battle…” She shuddered and went still as a smile crept across her face.

“Farg-dross!” swore Thrax. That was not just his favourite sergeant, she was his friend. 

He saw Kal and Kitty draw back from the cliff, above. 

Black specks flitted out of Thrax’s arm and settled over the nearest raptor corpse. The ravenous nanite fog stripped away flesh and transferred the organic material to Thrax’s shattered limb. His fingers crawled towards Andromeda’s abandoned weapon. Sally had wriggled somewhere underneath him, through the twisted, tangled limbs. “What are you doing, Thrax?” asked Sally, peeking between raptor bodies. She saw the gun. “I’ll get it!” 

Teeth flashed as mighty Tyrannosaur heads pecked at them, but raptors got in the way. Big Jeez flapped its tiny forearm wings in frustration, then bashed a raptor off using its powerful snouts. 

Then Thrax saw Jade, clambering up the beast’s back, out of nowhere, wielding the neural probe. She jammed it hard into one of the dinosaur’s tympanic membranes. The triple headed Tyrannosaur bellowed and waggled its mighty heads, but Jade held on tight, her legs straddling the central neck. As soon as she attached nodes to her temples, both she and the Tyrannosaur froze. 

The raptors noticed immediately. They slunk cautiously back, staring in fear at the pair. Red chirped, a questioning note in its voice, but the Tyrannosaur did not respond. Red chirped again. More insistent this time. Like it was dealing with a disgruntled pet at dinner time.

Thrax saw Jade’s eyes roll over white as her head lolled back. Immediately the Tyrannosaur swooped round. The triple jaws opened and snatched up raptors, three at a time. A bite and then they were swallowed whole, whisked down powerfully muscled gullets. 

The raptors shriek-barked alarm and ran about like chickens without heads as the Tyrannosaur drove them back.

It swirled about and leaned over Andromeda and Thrax. The jaws opened. It paused. The stench of its breath was overwhelming.

Thrax struggled, but couldn’t lift his arm to shoot it. “Sally!” he called, “Help me!” 

“Wait,” said Sally, gently pressing his arm back. “I think it wants us to get in.” Sally looked at the Big Jeez’s open maw, then back at Thrax. 

He shook his head emphatically. “Oh, I don’t think so!”

“Don’t be such a pussy,” admonished Sally. She hauled Thrax into a waiting jaw. He tried to fight her to no effect. The smell was making his gag reflex go bananas.

“Get in the mouth, you idiot!” screamed Kal from above. “Miss Jade’s jacked into Big Jeez’s brain!” 

“That’s fucked up,” muttered Thrax, his butt against the Tyrannosaur’s wet tongue.

As soon as Sally climbed in the adjacent mouth, the hydra-Tyrannosaur ran along the edge of the cliff until it spotted a gradual enough incline to assail, then charged up. Its legs made great pounding WHUMPFS as it charged after Kitty and Kal, who had already set off for the elevator. 

On the beasts heels came the raptor horde, led by Red and the colourful leadership cabal. Thrax kept an eye on them. 

Red egged on its fellows with relentless ferocity. Red had some skin in this game, that was for sure. Probably lose all credibility if its demi-god joined up with the rat-mammals. 

A few moments later they arrived at the lift. Kal was leaning against it, breathing heavily. Kitty wasn’t even sweating.

Androids, thought Thrax, could be annoying. “Lemme down!” He slapped the rex’s snout.

Kitty pulled open the lift gate and examined the platform. “No way we’re getting that T-Rex in this thing, boss. Too big.”

“Unh,” huffed Kal, “unh.”

Big Jesus lowered its multiple maws. Sally slipped out of the first, and hauled Thrax out of the second. In the third, unbeknownst to Thrax, lay Andromeda. He was glad they’d recovered her body.

“You got Andy!” Kitty smiled and ran over. Sally helped her pull the android’s body over to the lift. “We gotta get her memory chip out.”

“Get the grenade bag,” urged Thrax, still unsteady on his feet. He nodded at the north wall. “Jade said there was a river behind that rock. I’ll detonate the remaining grenades, flood the place. Cover your retreat.”

A Tyrannosaur head roared disapproval. It lurched forward. 

The sound of the raptor mob grew louder. They were close.

“Okay, okay,” said Thrax, holding up his hands at the big rex. “You take the grenades.” He dropped the sack into the dinosaur’s middle mouth. 

Tiny forearms flapped with enthusiasm.

Sally grabbed his hand and pulled him back into the lift. 

“We have to go, Thrax! They’re coming!” 

Thrax looked up at Big Jeez and Miss Jade. He mouthed ‘thank you’ and closed the gates. Hit the switch. 

The lift machinery clanked to life and the platform rose rapidly. Thrax watched the Tyrannosaur. Just as it receded into the dark, far below, it charged the north wall.

There was a massive explosion and the lift shuddered. There was a rush of water, then shrieks and high-pitched barks as raptors were swept away into oblivion, along with their triple-headed, man-eating faux-prophet. 

Finally there was just the clanking of the lift.

Once up top, Thrax instructed the team to carry Andromeda back to their bright pink tank. As they neared, Thrax noticed it was surrounded by charred and blackened raptors. 

Candy sat atop the vehicle, smiling happily. “Hey you guys!” She waved and squealed. “Oh, you found Kal and Sally! Hey you!” She hopped off the tank and ran over to them. Kal held out his arms. She ran past him and swept up Sally in her arms, giving the girl a big hug while Thrax looked on with approval. “So good to see you, lil’ Miss!”

“What happened up here?” asked Thrax.

“Nothing” said Candy with a shrug. “Just some big chickens. Say, did you know the hull of the tank can be electrified? That is so, so cool!”

“Yes. Yes it is.” Thrax looked at Kal, who seemed a little distraught. And unloved, standing away from the group. He went over and placed a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “It’s good to see you safe and sound, too.”

Kal turned around and gave him a big hug with unexpected enthusiasm and intensity.

He hugged Kal back until he had a sudden thought, then grabbed Kal’s arms and pushed him back. “Hey! Where the hell’s the zinc, man?”

“Ooh, yeah, that,” replied Kal. “I sort of gambled it away.”

“You gambled our zinc away?”

“Yeah, to Big Purple Dixie. But I swear the dice were fixed!”

Thrax paused. “You say Big Purple Dixie?” He thought about the abandoned rig they passed on their way in.

“Yes.”

“He drive a big purple rig, yeah?”

“Yeah,” said Kal, smiling. “You seen it?”

Thrax nodded. “You, my friend,” he said, tapping Kal on the chest, “have some unloading to do. And you owe me a new gun!”





*****




For more Magnum Thrax, see the novel, Magnum Thrax and the Amusement Park of Doom

Available on Amazon. 

starsIt's Mad Max on crack – Glen Conley

"Underneath this outlandish story’s brash exterior lies astute social commentary and sharp, unapologetic humor." – Kirkus Reviews











Saturday, July 28, 2018

Magnum Thrax: Future Fossil, Part 4 of 5



Down below, Kal shivered and snuck a look up at the raptors. The birds didn't like you looking at them, he’d noticed that, but then, he'd never seen them close up before. He’d never been this far out of the safe embrace of the velvet lined Pit before. It would have been a fabulous opportunity to study raptor culture and customs, if they weren’t so intent on eating him.

A squeak of fear behind him brought him back to more practical concerns: Sally. She couldn't be more than four or five, by his best guess. Maybe six. Kal had a hard time judging ages. Her presence had become a real problem, considering their impending sacrfice. 

Who knew a bunch of raptor religious fundamentalists would seize the mine during their visit? He’d calculated the odds several times, and they were infinitesimal. He could hardly be blamed for such an unfortunate and unlikely turn of events. Besides: education went hand in hand with adventure, and what was adventure without danger? 

Might as well stay home and sit on the couch. Of course, Thrax would blame Kal anyway. Call him reckless, get mad about losing his pistol, endangering his sister, gambling away the zinc, blah blah blah. Life was so unfair sometimes, thought Kal bitterly. He meant well, after all.

He'd noticed earlier that the Red Raptor seemed interested in his appearance, and he'd been right: his red hair and freckles had whisked him to the front of the sacrifice line. Maybe the raptor felt some kind of cross-species ginger kinship with him.

The raptor chief paused in his celebratory dance. 

Yes! Kal saw a chance to finally engage in dialogue. He cleared his throat. But what to talk about? Quick! Improvise!

“You're not dinosaurs!” he blurted.

A hush fell over the raptor crowd. Their eyes went wide. Heads cocked to the side.

Red stiffened and focused an eye on Kal.

He had their attention!

“You’re not dinosaurs,” repeated Kal evenly. “You’re chickens.”

In a blur, Red swept in front of him. “Liar!” Red snapped, jaws inches from Kal’s face. Moist, fetid breath washed over him. “What you know, stupid rat-mammal! Sacrifice not supposed to talk!” It angrily swept a fore claw through the air for emphasis. “We dinosaur! We dread reptile!”

“Oh, no, you aren’t,” said Kal matter-of-factly. “You were built from chicken DNA.”

The raptors gasped in horror. It was like he was saying something heretical. Maybe this wasn’t a good avenue to go down after all…

“We not chicken!” shrieked Red, growing angrier. “Our blood pure! We king lizard! We God’s Chosen!”

Kal shook his head. “No, sorry. Look. Some DNA jockey stimulated chicken hox genes, spliced in a few bits of amphibian code, maybe some frog, and poof, nasty raptor chicken. That’s you, see? I don’t know what the hell they were thinking, or why they’d need a mean chicken, but there it is. You’re a bunch of genetically altered, oversized poultry. See, amber wouldn’t help. Now stay with me, this is complicated: DNA deteriorates over time, so…”

“We dinosaurs! We restore Eden. Last hundred million years!”

“Two hundred forty-seven million years actually, but you’re a little late. By about sixty more million years.” Kal grinned as a realization hit: “Saaay: you can't kill me, can you, Red? Not yet, I mean. I’m your sacrifice, right? I have to die in some special way down there, so I can say whatever I want, for the moment,” he mused, then inspiration struck. “Bawk bawk bawk!” he taunted. “Bawwwwk bawk baaaawwwk!”

“Lower rat-mammal in pit!” screamed Red as it swooped about the platform in an apoplectic frenzy. “Death to rat-mammals! Rat-mammals ruin everything! We God’s children. So say Holy Bible Book. Praise be to God!”

“Have you even read the Bible, Red?” asked Kal. “You’ve got it all wrong!”

“God try to kill you rat-mammals many time: flood! War! Disease! Bugs! Space rocks! God hate you!”

Raptors awkwardly worked the winch and lowered Kal and Sally into the fossil-lined arena.

“Whoa,” said Kal, growing alarmed. This had gone a bit off plan. Never get sidetracked, he reminded himself. “Wait, Red! Let's talk about this! I know stuff. Give me a splicer and I’ll weave in some alligator code in for you, eh? No? Wings? You’d like wings, wouldn’t you? Or gills? Gills! I bet that’d get the attention of all the chick raptors, eh? Better voice boxes? Natural deodorant? You kinda stink. C’mon! You're making a big mistake here! I'm a valuable resource… Let the girl go, at least!”

The raptors ignored his pleas. 

Bunch of jerks.

“Release Holy One!,” commanded Red with a theatrical flourish. “Release Big Jesus! Let him feast upon flesh! Eat bad smell rat-mammal and show us the way!” The raptor hoot-barked triumphantly. It pulled a pistol out of its harness and fired it into the air three times. 

It was Thrax’s magnum! So that’s where it’d gotten! Now all Kal had to do was escape, save Sally, and get the gun back so Thrax wouldn’t kill him.

Kal turned to the little girl. It broke his heart: she’d never have the chance to grow up, not now, which made Kal feel bad on the kind of emotional level he generally preferred to avoid: “Sorry, kiddo. You can't reason with raptors. If I wove some human brain cells into their craniums, maybe things’d be different. But some beings are afraid to change…”

“You're a computer programmer,” said Sally matter-of-factly. 

“Huh? So?”

Sally gave him a cross look and folded her arms. “You don't do genetic engineering. My mom is a DNA-Jockey, and she says you don't know your ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to splicing. You’re just a big mouth that–”

“Kid,” admonished Kal, “If a lie can get you out of being sacrificed, you go with it. Besides, I'm sure I could pick it up in six months or less. How hard could it be?”

“Harder than you think. Like gambling.”

There was a screech-rumble. Rusted metal doors were jerked back, revealing an enormously upsized raptor. 

Kal gaped: it was a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Impossible!

Sally took one look at it and softly breathed, “Cooool!”

The beast let out a roar that reverberated throughout the chamber.

Raptors barked and hooted in approval. “Big Jesus! Big Jesus! Big Jesus!”

“That’s just not right!” shouted Kal, waving a finger at them. “I know Jesus! Jesus is a kind of friend of mine. I mean, I went to church and all. And that,” he said, pointing at the Tyrannosaur, “is no Jesus!” 

He was met by another ear-splitting bellow.

Kal’s stomach sank like a gold brick. “I admit, technically, pretty impressive,” he squeaked and swallowed. “I hope the DNA-jockey signed the code… love to get a look at that.”

“Kill rat-mammal! Kill rat-mammal! Kill rat-mammal!” chanted the raptors.

“Cultural appropriation!” yelled Kal back at them. “The real Jesus was a Semite!”

The Tyrannosaurus Rex didn’t react to Kal’s stinging rebuke. Instead, it charged. Or maybe that was the reaction. What happened to turning the other cheek? Lost in translation?

“Split up!” shouted Kal, and he shoved Sally to the right while he sprinted left. 

Caught off guard, Sally yelped and fell, hitting hard and sprawled onto the sandy floor. She lay immobile, helpless.

Kal looked back and saw Sally look up in horror as the Tyrannosaur loomed over her. Time seemed to slow. Details leapt out at him. Downy feathers around the dinosaur’s eyes. Drool glistening on sabre like teeth. The bumpy pink tongue covered in gooey saliva.

Then Big Jeez veered off, its attention caught by Kal’s still fast moving legs. The dinosaur’s huge muscles flexed. It angled to cut him off. Damn smart! The torso swept down and the maw opened wide. The stink of rotten meat hit Kal full on as it closed in.

Desperate, he did a hard turn, spinning in mid-step, then set off at a right angle. 

Big Jeez wasn’t as agile and flew past, ramming into the arena wall with a resounding crunch that sent a vibration through the rock. 

The raptor crowd let out an ‘aww’ of sympathy-pain.

A chunk of stone gave way, and a raptor toppled in and landed atop the enraged Tyrannosaur, while Kal watched from a safe distance. The smaller, lithe predator thrashed about, flipping itself off the dinosaurs back, only to be caught mid-air and get bitten in half. Kal cringed. So no loyalty between dino-kind. Blood squirted out and spattered the surprised raptors above. They hooted in awe. What on earth possessed them to worship a leader who cared so little for their lives? Crazy raptor-chicken! Kal was so grateful to be human.

Kal scrambled up the rock face, prompting raptors to pelt him with rocks, just not big ones because they had such lame little arms. He taunted them. Then one struck Kal in the forehead and he toppled backwards.

He got back to his feet–the Tyrannosaur was closing in! 

He rolled. 

The dinosaur slid to a halt and swept round, snapping at his legs, missing by mere inches. 

Kal looked up and saw a vision: Thrax flying through the air, arms flailing, hunting knife in each hand. As puffs of gas spurted out of his wrist and ankle jets, Thrax hit the back of the Tyrannosaur, slamming a blade into its back. It roared in pain. Thrax’s legs swung out past, then snapped back. Only the blade’s molecular grip kept him from losing hold. Scrambling, Thrax struck the other blade into the beast’s flank and proceeded to mountaineer his way towards the beasts head, using the knives as anchors. 

Big Jesus spun around, biting air, spinning in circles but unable to reach him. 

The raptors roared in outrage at this affront to their holy ritual. They looked to their plumed leaders for guidance. Before any could be given, explosions burst among them as plasma grenades began to go off in their midst. Laser beams sliced through the crowd, cutting raptors into steaming chunks of BBQ chicken. 

Pandemonium broke loose.

Kal pressed himself up against the wall of the pit and tried to think like a rock. 

The raptors scattered. 


Except for the ones that leapt down into the pit and raced after Thrax. 


*****




For more Magnum Thrax, see the novel, Magnum Thrax and the Amusement Park of Doom

Available on Amazon. 

starsIt's Mad Max on crack – Glen Conley

"Underneath this outlandish story’s brash exterior lies astute social commentary and sharp, unapologetic humor." – Kirkus Reviews