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Of Kaiju & Dinos

by Juan-Pablo Pina

New York City…


The jungle buzzed with the sounds of animals while mist hung low over the mossy undergrowth. Howls, roars bellows, and screams split the air, creating a chilling atmosphere along with the hum of insects. Ferns, cycads and horsetails were covered in little drops of dew while the giant trees, reminiscent of redwoods, turned the understory a world of shadows.

A little Procompsognathus (anterior elegant jaw), covered in short green feathers, hid in a hollowed-out log, its green eyes scanning for whatever might be approaching. But it was as still as a statue.

Crashing through the undergrowth, their low honks and hoots creating a strange ambiance, was a small herd of Hadrosaurus (bulky lizard), a type of hadrosaur related to Edmontosaurus. Their pattern of deep mauve, orange, and brown allowed them to blend into the forest as they migrated toward their prairie feeding grounds. But they were as still as statues.

Not far away in a lonely glade, a single female Triceratops was nesting. Like sea turtles, she had dug out a large crater and laid many eggs in it. Her frill, like the rest of her body, was dull and brown. However, male Triceratops have frills with red eye spots. She watched over her eggs, her horns ready to spear any enemy that dared to steal her unborn young. But she was as still as a statue.

At the edge of the forest, at the shore of a shallow lake, was a large herd of Apatosaurus. Every step of their elephantine feet shook the ground while the offspring stayed next to their colossal parents. The bulls stayed on the outside while the cows created an inner ring, both working in tandem to guard the youngsters. But they were as still as statues.

High above the rest of the forest, on a cliff shrouded in fog, was a small flock of Cearadactylus (Ceara finger). They huddled together like penguins, their wings folded up, providing shelter from the wind for their spindly bodies. Their long, toothy bills were bright orange, their heads were pink and their bodies were a dull grayish brown, similar to a vulture. They occasionally squawked or honked, some even willing to stretch their wings. But they were as still as statues.

At the base of the cliff, just waking up from a short nap, was a huge Tyrannosaurus. His body was crisscrossed with scars and was a bright red and adorned with dark red spots like those of a jaguar. He walked out into the jungle, the patterns on his scarred body providing excellent cover in the low light of the forest. But he was as still as a statue.

“Dude! That’s so cool!” said Eddie.

He craned forward and looked at the tank, eyes wide and a smile on his face.

“I guess. The animals are references to the ones in Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. Things like Cearadactylus and Procompsognathus and stuff,” said Nick.

Nick and Eddie were two dinosaur-obsessed high school freshmen living in New York City. And they were best friends to boot.

“So that explains the books and sticky note,” said Eddie as he stood back up.

Leaning against the tank was a single copy of The Lost World and Jurassic Park while a little sticky note, written on with red pen, read, “When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth.”

The tank used to be home to Nick’s pet fish. After it died, the tank was cleaned out and made into a terrarium of sorts. He put in soil, rocks, plastic plants, and even a custom irrigation system that made the environment rather humid and mimicked small tropical storms. Once that was done, Nick used old Christmas lights and, with the help of his uncle who worked at an electric company, created a system that mimics a day and night cycle that alternated every three hours. Finally, Nick bought tons of toys from the shop in the American Museum of Natural History, painted them to match the depictions in Crichton’s books, and put them in, moving them around every so often. But that wasn’t the only sign that Nick was a fan of dinosaur and science fiction films. The walls of his room were adorned with posters of Avatar, Dracula, Godzilla, How to Train Your Dragon, Jaws and Jurassic Park.

“You could say I’m a fan,” said Nick matter-of-factly.

Eddie turned to look at him with a raised eyebrow and a smile. “Could I or should I?” said Eddie.

Nick shrugged. “Meh, whichever you want,” he said.

He looked at his watch. Immediately his eyes widened.

“Uh, should we get to work? We need to set things up for the sleepover,” said Nick, jerking a thumb toward the door of his room.

“Yeah, sure,” said Eddie as he walked out, Nick right by his side.

“Attaboy, Goji!” said Ian.

The black and gray screen displayed a scene of pure terror as the dinosaurian titan blasted its white beam at the power lines, turning the metal to a searing hot glowing liquid. The monster’s roar was a raspy and grumbling bellow that just reeked of pure terror and rage.

Nick had invited his friends over to a sleepover/movie night to watch the original Godzilla (though Eddie had voted for the American 1998 Godzilla). Eddie, Ian and Sarah (Ian’s girlfriend) had all managed to come over. They all sat on bean bags in their pajamas, eyes wide as the nuclear monster tore through Tokyo, turning it into a sea of flames.

As Godzilla burned down buildings with his atomic breath, Nick’s eyes widened while a smile was spread across his face, the classic Akira Ifukube theme playing in the background.

“See, Eddie? I told you the original was better than the one from 1998!” he said.

Eddie looked at him with a glare.

“Look, 1998’s version of Godzilla ain’t that bad, okay? It’s just not as overpowered as Final Wars or Heisei Godzilla,” barked Eddie.

“Yeah, sure, he looks like a dinosaur but he got taken down by missiles and cocky Americans, mate,” said Nick.

“I, er, well,” stammered Eddie, trying to make a comeback.

“Dude, even friggin’ Varan or Gorosaurus could beat him in a fight! And don’t you get me started with his atomic breath because that’s just a flammable burp. Besides, it was one of his kids in Godzilla: The Series that managed to have a heat ray,” snapped Nick, silencing Eddie for good.

Sarah, shocked by the verbal onslaught, looked at Nick with a sly smile and a glaring gaze.

“You really are a nerd, aren’t you?” she chuckled.

Nick shrugged with a smile on his face.

“Being a nerd about anything is a badge of honor,” he said as he grabbed the can of Coca-Cola that he had next to him.

Sarah turned back with a haughty smile and, along with the rest of the guys, watched as the god of destruction continued to pulverize anything and everything he could. Birds in cages tweeted and chirped in terror as the tragedy with a roar was silhouetted by the flames, screaming into the night.

Nick looked on, wide-eyed and a smile plastered on his face as the atomic dinosaur rampaged through Tokyo, turning it into a sea of flames.

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