The Dangers of Free-Range Dinosaurs

Terkerkue’ walked across the yard and peeked between the metal slats of the electrified fence, making certain not to touch it. Designed to keep things out and not in and it left her feeling restless.

She had reclaimed her ancestral name, the one meaning Quail, that her Grandfather had given her as a newborn. Terkerkue’ felt it was fitting, seeing as how she was facing a new beginning.

Furthermore, she wanted to hunt some fresh vegetables, not the canned and condensed stuff they shipped all over the galaxy – but the real, have to fix yourself kind. Because of this she had decided to take her house cat, Marauder, her shot-gun and stock her personal pantry.

“Beyond the fence is dangerous,” her eldest son warned, “I wish you’d let me go with you.”

“Marauder and Betsy, here,” she lifted the shotgun slightly, “are all I need.”

She walked to the large gate, waved to the far lookout tower and the heavy metal door began grinding open. Terkerkue’ didn’t allow it to open fully as she and Marauder slipped beyond the safe confines of their village.

The multi-dee-ni’ reservation, ‘Native American One,’ held the distinction of being one of the first territories the World Federation had annexed following a worm-hole jump of more than four-light years. Proxima B as the planet was officially known had few inhabitants as far as anyone could tell. In fact, researchers were fairly certain that the planet was moving through a late Cretaceous period, putting it about 77 million years behind planet Earth.

It pleased Terkerkue’ that there were so few people populating the blue-green orb. She wouldn’t have decided to help her country colonize the planet had there been people displaced and land stolen.

“It jus’ wouldn’t be right,” she told her daughter, “especially being Yurok.”

Quietly, she tread through the overgrown forest, trees, much like the one’s she grew up admiring as a child along the Lost Coast. She felt as if she belonged to this land, the new territory and all the creatures that dwelled here.

Suddenly,  Terkerkue’ found what she’d been looking for; wild articulated zucchini. Marauder paused and pointed his nose in the direction of what he felt was the best angle to shoot, knowing she had only the one chance and that if she missed they’d scatter in all directions and she’d have to spend another two-hours following their sign.

“Boom, boom!”

The two blasts, back to back dropped 18 of them as they broke for cover. Terkerkue’ smiled as she began the task of collecting and readying them for the transport drone, she had requested the evening before.

As she waited, she resupplied the old-fashioned weapon with two more shells to replace the one’s she had fired. She also picked up the two spent casing that she’d ejected a couple of minutes ago.

That’s when she noticed Marauder, his ears were laid back and his back hairs bristled. The usually diminutive house cat had caught sense of something moving slightly beyond the brush line.

Terkerkue’ slowly and as quietly as possible racked a shell into place and then stood still. There was no telling what sort of something was hiding jus’ out of sight and she instinctively new to be on her guard for the worst possible outcome.

Then – there it was – a new species of free-range dinosaur. They had only recently been discovered and not much was known about the chicken-sized, feather-covered reptile.

“Kinda cute,” Terkerkue’ stated to Marauder, whose tail was twitching back and forth in a natural rhythmic fashion. Then she added, as she raised her shotgun, “I bet they taste like chicken, too.”

She squeeze off a round, dropping the tiny lizard. But that’s when all Hell broke loose as nearly two dozen of the damned things swarmed out of the brush line, attacking ‘ Terkerkue’ with the belligerence of a T. Rex.

She eventually awakened after nearly three-weeks in a drug induced coma. Her head hurt as did her right arm and amid all the pain she found herself confused about her surroundings.

“You’re in hospital, dear,” a smiling latex-covered nurse, which looked more like a ‘70’s porn star than an artificially intelligent medical robot, stated.

Terkerkue’ looked at her right arm, the stitches and grafting visible, “Holy crap, that’s gonna leave a scar!”

Then she looked up and saw her reflection of the plasma flat screen on the wall at the foot of her bed. She had a series of staples holding the top and side of her nearly bald head together.

They ran down the side of her face as well, “Holy, shit! That’s gonna really leave friggin’ a scar!”

Terkerkue’ felt a lump well up in her throat and the strong wish to cry. Then she remembered something else, “And my car?” she asked, sounding more panicked than she liked.

“A what, dear?” the AI asked, not understanding.

“My car — what about my car?” she asked again.

The Automaton stopped what it was doing, becoming expressionless. It then looking at her, answered with a smile, “There is no car. A flock of Hesperonychus elizabethae attacked youYou barely survived, dear.”

Terkerkue’ looked around the sterile white room and attempted to sit up, “I must’ve been dreaming or something – I thought I had slammed into a Redwood tree.”

“A what, dear?” the AI asked.

“A Redwood…oh, never mind,” Terkerkue’ answered, miffed that something supposedly much smarter than she, could actually be so damned stupid.

Right then, Marauder jumped up onto the foot of her bed and mewed loudly. As Terkerkue’  looked at the compact little house cat, she thought for sure she’d seen him smile at her, then wink like the Cheshire Cat from ‘Alice in Wonderland.’

“Whoa – must be some really good drugs,” she mumbled, as she drifted to sleep.

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