A Rough Day at Work, Hunting Dinosaurs
By Brent A Harris
Brent wrote this piece especially for us here at Working Title Blogspot – we put it out today to help celebrate the launch of Brent’s new book ‘A Time of Need’.
The creature, quick and birdlike, darted beneath the underbrush. My eyes swept toward it. I took a restrained step closer. Even as a juvenile, my prey was lethal. Just under waist high, flat brown and green mottled feathers blended in and around the bushes and foliage of the late Mesozoic. A perfect camouflage.
My eyes trained forward, not looking for my prey but eliminating where it wasn’t. While this was my first-time hunting Tyrannosaur, it wasn’t my first-time hunting dinosaurs. I’d tired of setting lazy traps for Triceratops and snares for Stegos. I’d chased down the faster ostrich-like creatures and outwitted packs of raptors – movies made them out to be far more fearsome than the overgrown turkeys they turned out to be. In fact, most of the ones I’d brought back to Earth Prime were no bigger than the young Tyrannosaur I was currently tracking. A disappointment to say the least. I wanted something bigger.
Oh well. I’d bag this one, head back to my beat-up transport truck. Punch in the dial for my return trip home, and try another Mesozoic-era Earth in the morning. Dinosaur hunting wasn’t as lucrative as it used to be. Too many of us out here doing it now. Most folks back on Earth Prime could order a Bronto-burger at their local drive-thru. But it paid the bills, and it was interesting Earth-hopping, seeing all these other Earths in their infancy. We could do whatever we wanted to them. It wasn’t going to mess up our timeline.
The juvenile Tyrannosaur let out a noise somewhere between a choked chirp and a roar. I suppose it was transitioning from weening off its mom to learning how to be a little dinosaur. But it must have gotten caught in something, because those stumbling cries sounded like the creature was in distress. It needed help. Luckily, I was there.
The Rex’s calls lured me on, beckoning me closer. Brushing branches from my face, I followed the pleas into the foliage. She was laying on her side, entangled in roots and branches, feathers flapping wildly. Females had almost no color to them. And they were larger, fiercer than their male counterparts. She ripped and tore at her bindings. I almost felt bad as I raised my rifle and prepared to call it in. Dinosaurs required special transports. I thought better of it; the cost was prohibitive. It bit into my profits leaving me with even little after the taxes for time-travel and earth-hopping. It’s hard making an honest living. I thought I could probably jam this juvenile into my transport and save a few credits.
I probably should have kept a closer eye to my surroundings. But I was tired and distracted. It’d been a long day and I wanted to go home, crash on the couch, and watch my hometown ball players give lessons on how to lose badly. So, it was the smell of decomposing meat that made me question where I was. At first, I thought it might mean we were near the little creature’s nest. That made sense. She sensed danger and was running home to mommy.
No. If I was near the nest, the smell would permeate the air with a sickly, sweet aroma of raw meat and decaying flesh. Instead, the foulness came in waves, hot and sticky. The branches still except for where the juvenile thrashed about. There was no wind.
The creature settled down and hopped easily and effortlessly out from the plants and then scooted behind them. Not a feather was ruffled. The little bastard tricked me. It turned out I wasn’t the only hunter here. I hit my emergency button as hard and as quick as I could and breathed a sigh of relief when I felt the reassuring buzz signalling that the message had been sent.
My message would go back to Earth Prime, and a team of rescuers would track my location and arrive five minutes before my stupid, stupid mistake to prevent me from making it. Sure, it would cost a fortune, and I’d have to pull in twice as much for awhile to stay afloat, but at least I’d be alive. I wouldn’t be watching ballgames anytime soon. I grunted in disproval. It was my own fault.
But that timeline didn’t exist yet. For now, I’d have to see this one through. The large tyrannosaur poked its pink snout out, exposing teeth long and sharp and jagged enough where I hoped it would be over soon, yet I knew I’d feel everything in the first few terrifying moments until I finally died of shock or exsanguination. The mother dinosaur had been so still. So peaceful. It was a good arrangement. Let her helpless daughter lure in the food, and then momma would share in on the spoils. And I had fallen right for it. I guess when there are fail-safes like time-travel, it tones down the human instinct to survive. There’s little need to be careful. But I should. Oh, I should be very careful next time. This was going to hurt. This was going to hurt so much.
The tyrannosaur lunged.