Alan spared one last glance at the rock pile before turning around. He had done all he could. Now he had to turn to his own affairs of survival. This man's death was proof enough he did not belong in this world. Alan was quite certain a similar fate awaited him in the near future. All he could do was postpone it for as long as was humanly possible.
Alan did not get very far before he noticed something that caught his attention. He had just crossed the stream when he saw a strangely shaped puddle. It was not a natural puddle; he could tell that almost immediately. He approached it and kneeled down. It was a shape that just about anyone would be familiar with, as it had been featured in just about every dinosaur movie ever made. It was the large, long-digit three-toed footprint characteristic of almost every large tyrannosaurus-like dinosaur. This one looked a little small to be a tyrannosaurus, but then Alan figured it could always be a young one. As it was, he did not even know if tyrannosaurus rex existed in this time period or location he was in. That did not matter too much to him though. All he cared about was that there was a very large, very dangerous dinosaur which was so big that it left footprints much larger than his head.
Alan stood back up and gave one last glance to the massive footprint before heading on his way back to the open plains. Nighttime was approaching once more, and he wanted to get to a tree he spotted on the edge of the forest which looked like it may have been a really good place to sleep.
As he walked, he thought of the man he had just buried. He wondered who he was and why he was here. He also wondered if those gunshots he had heard earlier had been the doing of the man or someone else with him. He had looked the entire time he had been gathering rocks, but he had seen no sign of a gun or bullet casings. Alan doubted the dinosaur would have eaten the gun, so it seemed strange that it was missing. He hoped someone else was out there, carrying the gun, and he especially hoped he would find that person soon.
By the time Alan reached the clearing, the sun had already set below the horizon. The sky was a bright, orangey-red, but the east was already becoming black with night. Alan's stomach complained bitterly about him skipping dinner, but he ignored it as he looked for a suitable tree. He spotted a berry bush as he searched and grabbed a few. He threw them away almost immediately though, as the first one he tasted was horrendously bitter. It was bad enough to make him wince from disgust,
Note to self: don't eat the blue, cherry-sized berries, he thought. He spit several times to try and rid the taste from his mouth. Unfortunately, the flavor persisted in his mouth for much longer afterwards. It was not until after he had found a decent sleeping tree and was getting settled in its branches that the disgusting taste finally began to fade. They're probably not healthy if they taste that bad, he thought.
The air was cold this night, despite how warm the day had been. Alan tried to gather loose branches and wrap them around him for extra shelter. They helped a little bit, but not much. As the night progressed, a calm, steady breeze came up that only served to make the cold more chilling.
At some point, Alan did finally fall asleep, albeit many hours after dark had settled. His dreams were a constant ream of gory visions of people being torn limb from limb by voracious tyrannosaurus-type dinosaurs. They never reached the vividness that they scared him awake, but they did serve to leave him feeling nervous and shaky when he finally did wake up.
The sun was just barely peaking over the mountainous horizon in the distance when his eyes fluttered open. The air was still cool and moist, and a thick fog covered the ground, making it difficult to even see the bushes down below. It gave Alan the impression that he was much higher above the ground than he really was.
He could see very little of the plains due to the fog, though he was able to pick out a few indistinct forms hobbling around in the grassy plains. They seemed to be a herd, and he figured it was the gigantic herbivores he had seen the day before.
Something barked below Alan, causing him to look down. Much to his displeasure, he saw the feathered raptors had come to the meadow. The whole group was on the ground, with their heads just barely poking out of the thick ground fog. They chirped and barked back and forth and were all staring out to the open plains. They must be getting ready to hunt, Alan thought.
The group of raptors all stood at the edge of the plains for several minutes, all watching the herd of large dinosaurs that were barely visible in the fog. Alan was able to spot about sixteen of them that kept peering above the ground fog for brief periods and then ducking back down underneath the mist. They kept chirping to one another, as if to sound their locations to one another.
Alan wanted to get down from the tree, but not while these raptors were in the vicinity. He decided to start getting them angry, in hopes that they would move away to another spot to watch their potential prey. After a moment of thought, he grabbed a few twigs and broke them up into little pieces. He aimed for the nearest raptor and chucked the handful of broken twigs at it. They struck the raptor, causing it to look up and hiss angrily at Alan.
"Get lost!" Alan shouted at them before chucking another handful of broken twigs at the raptors. This time he hit two raptors which were right next to each other, and like the first one they looked up at Alan and hissed angrily at him. Each raptor had the same reaction and would stare up at him for a few moments before looking back at the herd of dinosaurs hidden in the mist. The more he threw at them though the more irritated they got, and one finally came to the base of his tree and jumped up at him, flapping it's wing-like arms to try and get to him, all the while hissing and spitting like an angry cat. It did not come near enough to him however that he even really felt threatened by it.
"Stupid reptile!" he shouted down at it before chucking another handful of twigs at it. He wished he had some rocks rather than a bunch of harmless pieces of wood.
However, they seemed to achieving what he wanted. The raptors were getting more and more irritated with him the more he pestered them, and after a while they began to move off. They especially seemed to dislike the noise he was making, as it was giving away their presence to the herbivores. They stood their ground for another minute before finally deciding to move to another area where Alan would not be a problem. As it was, he had probably ruined their hunting here for quite some time, since the herbivores were aware some kind of predator was watching them.
Alan waited several minutes after the last of the raptors disappeared before he felt it was safe to drop to the ground. By then, he could see the fog was beginning to break up, making the giant dinosaurs grazing on the plains visible to him. He dropped down to the ground and looked around cautiously for any predators, but when he saw none he began making his way back into the forest to look for berries and fruits that could serve as breakfast.
He found a large tree bearing a strange fruit which looked like two bulbs stuck together, and after trying one he found they tasted decent enough to eat. Their flavors were indeed strange, but not horrible. After eating a couple of them, he gathered several more and brought them back to the tree.
Now he turned to a new task, one which would hopefully enable him to begin eating meat again: creating fire. He knew what he needed and what he needed to do. Unfortunately, he had never been able to make fire without matches or some kind of lighter. Even as a boy scout, it had been one of the few areas he had never been to accomplish anything in. He had put off fire so long simply because he knew it would be too difficult, and that the chances of it working were too small for him to rely on it for survival.
Alan gathered the driest pieces of wood he could find and brought them back to his tree. He cleared a spot on the ground so that there was nothing else flammable before setting everything up. He put some dry grass on the wood he was going to try and light, and then took the dry, straight stick he had grabbed. He positioned it on the dry grass and piece of wood and then began spinning it back and forth, as fast as he could.
It was no easy task, just as he remembered. His arms got tired quickly as he spun the stick as fast as he could. Each time he stopped to rest his arms, he knew he was losing precious heat which he needed for the combustion. As it was, however, he did not seem to be getting much heat on the wood itself. Whenever he put his finger on the spot he was trying to heat, it was only fairly warm. By no means was he getting anywhere close to the temperature he needed.
After a while, he gave up with spinning the stick and moved to a different method: pushing and pulling the end of the stick along a groove in the wood while pressing down as hard as he could. Back as a boy scout, he remembered that this method had been no more successful. But, he figured it was worth a shot, since spinning the stick was yielding no results.
This method was just as tiring for his arms, but when he checked the temperature of the wood, he found it was working better than spinning the stick had been. The groove that he was driving the stick up and down on became much hotter much faster than the previous method ever did. After feeling this, it renewed some hope in Alan that maybe this time he would be successful. He kept at the process for a while longer. But when, five minutes later, his arms just could not handle the difficult task, he stopped and glared at the piece of wood. It hadn't even smoked.
Piece of shit, he thought angrily. He threw the stick on the ground and stood up. "Just have to make my life more difficult, donchya," he said bitterly. He took a deep breath and turned around. He intended to try again, but he needed to let his arms rest.
The fog had cleared up by then, with its only remnants hanging low far off in the distance. The day was already beginning to warm up once more. In addition to the heat though, Alan could feel the air was especially humid as well. It was going to be a miserably muggy day it seemed.
After a few moments of planning, Alan decided that, since he was not going to be trying to make fire for a little while, that he could turn to making a decent bed for himself. He still wanted it in the tree, so that meant he was going to need to construct it much as the great apes did.
He looked around for a tree with massive leaves. Unable to find any, he decided to go with the ferns that were lying low to the ground instead. He began yanking the ferns out of their trunks and carrying them in big bunches over to his tree. It took him about ten minutes to gather what he thought would be a decent amount of ferns to offer enough padding. Then he began carrying as much as he could up into the tree.
Unfortunately, his lack of a fit physique once more failed him, as climbing and down the tree became too tiring to continue, even though he had many ferns still on the ground. To get into the tree, he had to grab onto a low hanging branch and haul himself up, a task he was not suited to and had not been suited to since he had gotten out of college. Considering that he was thirty-two now meant that it had been nearly ten years since he had been in well-enough shape.
Alan sat down on the ground and rested against the tree. It could not be any later than ten o'clock, based on the position of the sun, though he had no idea if a standard twenty-four hour clock meant anything here. Still, he was already tired from the intensive work he had already done. So far, other than traveling, he hadn't really done anything that required a lot of effort on his part.
Once his arms were feeling like they weren't tied down with lead weights, he decided to get back to making fire. He stood up, and then instantly heard a chirping noise behind him in response. He spun around, and instantly the blood ran out of his face. Standing behind him, with their eyes all locked on him, was the raptor pack. Their jaws were all hanging open as they panted, revealing the rows of pointed teeth they carried. Alan's eyes flashed back and forth between the teeth and the raised, sickle-like claws on the insides of their feet.
Alan forced himself to break out of the paralysis that forced him to look at the raptors. He looked behind him, where his makeshift club was sitting against the tree. He reached for it and raised it, ready to strike at any of the raptors if they grew aggressive.
As it was, they did not seem as if they were going to attack him. Their jaws and their bald heads, he realized, were painted in fresh blood, indicating they had just eaten. He almost wondered if perhaps they had just been passing by when he stood up. Still though, the sight of blood on their heads was not entirely reassuring. It was still a grim reminder that these creatures were carnivores. Despite being less than four feet tall, they were still a formidable sight to behold less than twenty feet away from him.
"G- get lost!" he said, trying to force his voice to sound menacing. He stomped his feet and bared his teeth at the raptors, but they did not seem particularly disturbed by his show. He raised his arms and began yelling at them, as he had always learned to do so as to make himself appear larger and more threatening, but for some reason he doubted that had much affect on these animals. He had, after all, seen these raptors take down one of those elephant-sized herbivores. It seemed doubtful to him that he could make himself appear at all threatening to a pack of predators that were skilled at killing much larger prey.
During his whole display, the raptors did not move but only continued to stare at him. When he began swinging his club at them andagainst his better natureadvancing on them, they finally began to move as group. Rather than away from him though, they just followed the raptor at the head of the group, who turned and walked around Alan. It gave him a wide berth of about fifteen feet, but otherwise it just walked calmly around him, sparing him a glance from time to time but otherwise disregarding his noise. Alan continued to yell at them until they were walking out into the plains, away from him. Once their long, stiff tails were turned to him, he put his arms down and shut his mouth.
He wondered where they were going, for if they had already eaten he doubted it was to hunt. He did not care too much, so along as it was away from him, but he was still surprised and pleased that they had ignored him for the most part.
He had gotten a good look at the sixteen-member pack though. Obviously the one at the head was the leader, or the alpha as he had always heard it called. It was the tallest raptor of the group, and it seemed as if each raptor's position in the group was based on strength or age, since the ones in the rear were the smallest by a considerable amount. The alpha was nearly four feet tall, whereas the ones in the rear weren't even three feet tall.
Alan kept an eye on the raptor pack as they traveled out into the plains until they were nearly out of sight. Wherever they were headed, they weren't in a hurry that was for sure. As soon as they had gone far enough, he kneeled back down to the wood he had been using to try and make a fire and resumed work.
He used the last method he had been employing, to press the stick up and down along the wood. He moved it as fast as he could, doing his best to ignore the growing burn in his shoulders. The longer he kept at it he knew, the better the chance it would start smoking.
He finally had to stop the back-and-forth motion, as the burning in his arms and shoulders wouldn't allow any more work. He gasped in pain as he put the stick aside and slumped back against the tree. After a moment, he touched the spot on the wood he had been trying to light, and had to withdraw his finger almost instantly. It was very hot. For all he knew, it could be quite close to combustion. Forget the pain, he thought as he grabbed some more dry grass and packed it onto the wood. I'm almost there. Just got to give it one more go. He picked the stick back up and attacked the wood with it once more, trying even more fervently to raise its temperature.
Smoke! he thought with glee as he suddenly saw a wisp of it rise from the dry grass. He doubled his efforts, and a few seconds later he saw more smoke. Come on, come on! he prayed. Light damn it! The smoke became thicker, and after a few moments he thought he saw an ember. Yes! Come on! Flame up!
When the flame finally did appear, he almost didn't notice it because it was so small. As soon as he saw the little finger dancing on the dry grass though, he cheered. "Hah! Yes!" he exclaimed. He grabbed more dry grass and fed it to the flame, as it was suddenly growing fast and consuming the grass quickly. As he added more and more fuel to it, the flame grew larger and larger, eventually spawning multiple fingers as it used more fuel. Once it was large enough, Alan began adding new pieces of wood to it.
In only a few minutes, he had a roaring fire going. He had to widen the dirt circle he had cleared around it just so that it wouldn't cause a grassfire. As he added more and more fuel to it, he could barely contain his excitement. He moved quickly and joyously, hopping up and down every now and then simply because he was so overcome with triumph.
He finally stopped adding to the fuel supply, but only when the stack of sticks, bark, fallen branches, and grass he had gathered was well over two feet tall. The flames themselves were soaring to the height of his head, and he had to keep his distance because of the intense heat.
Alan could barely contain his joy as he gazed upon his bonfire. After a moment, he realized he had accomplished something else with his fire: he had lit a signal. If there were any other people in this world, they would hopefully see the smoke and come straight to it.
Now that he had a fire going, he suddenly had a craving for meat. Now that he had a way of cooking his prey, he knew now was the time to go hunting. He cleared the area around the bonfire even more so that some stray spark wouldn't light everything on fire while he was gone. Once the clearing's radius was about ten feet, he added a little more fuel to the fire since it had gone down significantly in the time he took to clear the radius and then grabbed his club. He peered out to the plains to see if he could spot any small dinosaurs. After a few seconds, he spotted a pair of the little brown lizards with the feather-like fur on their arms. They weren't big and probably didn't have a lot of meat on them, but as he had seen before when he tried to catch one, they were not threatening.
Alan moved out into the plains towards the little lizards. With his stature, they saw him almost instantly, but they did not seem to care much about him. He was, after all, an unknown creature to them, and they had no idea that he was out to eat them. They kept an eye on him though, and as he got closer they started to move away slowly from him. Once he was close enough, he stopped and reared his club back. God, don't let me miss, he prayed. With a grunt, he threw the club forward at the lizards. They barely had time to react before the club struck one of them, knocking its legs out from under it.
Alan ran forward at the injured lizard, which got up almost instantly even as the other one was already far away, running as fast as it could. The injured one ran too, but Alan's club seemed to have hurt it far more than the other one he had tried to kill days before. This time, Alan was able to reach the little lizard and grab it, despite its attempts to dodge him. As soon as he had a grip on it, the lizard tried to bite at his hand, but he knocked its head away. He then grabbed its long neck and squeezed as hard as he could. The lizard struggled desperately, thrashing in his grip and trying to bite at him, but it was unable to escape. After a few seconds, Alan felt something pop in the lizard's neck. The lizard stiffened up and seized for a brief moment and then fell limp in Alan's hand.
Alan breathed a sigh of relief. He had done it; he had killed his first prey. He had a fire going back at his tree and he had food to cook it on. This was a good day. Maybe I can survive, he thought. Maybe I just have a chance.
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The only thing wrong is that raptors wouldn't be able to take down prey as big as the one mentioned in the story. But its still a great piece none the less.
You think so? I was under the impressions that raptors used their large claw for stabbing jugulars or holding onto large prey. I know there's still debate on whether they're even pack hunters, but their jaw strength, the use of their sickle-shaped claws, and the benefit of hunting in a pack (if they did indeed do so) would enable them to finish off a weakened tenontosaurus. That's at least what I figured, and if I remember right there has been evidence on tenontosaurus fossils with deinonychus bite marks. Of course, that could be scavenging, but considering how well-equipped raptors were for hunting I would not be surprised if they were indeed capable of taking on prey so much larger than them.
Anyways, thank you for the feedback. I always love anything that can get me thinking on how things are going.
Anyways, thank you for the feedback. I always love anything that can get me thinking on how things are going.
Eh, but Tenontosaurus isn't as heavy or big as an elephant, it's a little bit bigger than an unusually large horse. Something as strong as African elephants would almost certainly be too tough even for skilled pack hunters like raptors, as many paleontologists believe.
Yeah, they're smaller than I originally though. Quite a bit less mass, now that I really look between the two. The long tail the tenontosaurus has made me think they were bigger than the description gives, but now I see they're considerably less massive. They're just very, very long.
wow! That was great. Keep it up.