Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dinosaur Ghost Chapter One: They're Real!

This story has been revised.  For the latest version, see below.
Dinosaur Ghost is now available for free as a pdf!
“Aigggh!” Herman screamed. He sat bolt upright before his eyes had time to open. His pajamas were drenched in sweat.
Lita leaned over, put a hand against his chest. “What is it, Honey?” she asked.

“Aigggh!” Herman Bainbridge screamed again.

“It’s OK, Sweetie. It was just another dream.”

“It wasn’t. It was real. I saw it.”

“It wasn’t real.” Lita’s voice was soft and soothing. “There are no such things as dinosaurs.”

“But what about all those bones in the museums?” Sweat continued to pour down his forehead.

“You know that’s just liberal propaganda.”

Herman nodded. “And ghosts?”

Lita could tell he was struggling to gain control of himself. “Well,” she thought about how to put this delicately. “Of course ghosts are real, but we had the house exorcised three nights ago.  That plus a double dose of prayers before bedtime is guaranteed to keep us safe.”
Herman began taking in and releasing several deep breaths. Slowly, his heart rate returned to normal. He continued to sweat profusely, but that was just a side effect of an unrelated condition of the endocrine system. “You’re right,” he said. “It was just a dream.”

"Just a dream,” Lita repeated. She was already drifting into La La Land.
“But it seemed so real.” Herman’s voice was eerily cold and hollow. It marked a strange contrast with Lita’s buzz saw-like snoring.

The rest of the morning was uneventful. Herman went about his normal routine. He showered, dressed, and gobbled down the microwaveable hotcakes and bacon Lita had lovingly prepared. He took one last swallow of hot coffee as Lita met him at the door with his brief case. She took the empty mug and kissed him on the lips.  He, in turn, kissed her on the belly button.  “I love you,” he whispered to his unborn son, Tom Selleck Bainbridge.

As he strolled into the driveway, he felt safe and comfortable. His nightmare was long forgotten.  He was about to climb into his own private fortress, The Leviathan, the biggest SUV ever manufactured outside of a military factory. It got only two miles to the gallon, but it more than made up for poor gas mileage with its ability to intimidate other drivers. He unlocked the truck with a beep of his electronic remote and began to sing a happy tune. “It’s fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A. La da de doody da Y-M-C-A.”

“Hello, beautiful,” he said as he settled into his plush seats made from the skin of a small herd of Italian cattle. He leaned forward and kissed the steering wheel. He loved this car, the powerful engine, the luxurious interior, and the capacity to physically crush almost any other vehicle on the road. He caressed the dashboard and then kissed the steering wheel again. He was in the process of adding a little tongue when the car hit a bump. Maybe I should stop making out with the car while I'm driving, he thought.  He shook his head dismissively. A minor accident was of no consequence. He knew his behemoth would escape without so much as a dinted fender. The neighbor's mailbox, on the other hand, was completely destroyed. He would have to remember to blame neighborhood kids at the next barbeque. 

A flashing red light on the control panel snapped Herman back to reality. “Dannon Yogurt,” he mumbled. “I just filled up two days ago.” He was already late for his day job as a professional pundit at a cable news channel.  Life as a talking head was more difficult than most people thought.  Sometimes you had to talk, listen, and think all in the same day.  Luckily, he was a good thinker.  Recently, he'd suggested one of his ideas to Gas-Arcola, the petroleum development company where he moonlighted as a paid spokesman.  

The Mobile Gas Station, or MGS, was going to make him a gajillionaire. The idea was simple. A MGS would be positioned along the interstate, and whenever there was a traffic jam, it would roll up to whoever needed gas and fill them up. It would completely eliminate the need to “make it to the next exit” in order to refuel. Unfortunately, the idea remained stuck in the developmental stage.

Herman switched on the radio to take his mind away from his worries. Nothing calmed his nerves like the mindless jabbering of radio disc jockeys. To his disappointment, every button he pushed produced nothing but static.“Dominoes Pizza,” Herman said. He always substituted the name of one of his sponsors in place of a curse word. It was a standard clause in any contract with Newscorp.

He was still trying to place the prehistoric background noise when, ahead of him on the freeway, he saw a chain of break lights come on. “Land O'Lakes.”Herman said. Now he really was going to be stuck in traffic. He began to feel that old familiar anxiety that comes with a flashing fuel light. Where was an MGS when you needed one?

Herman dutifully checked the rearview mirror and did a doublt take. A large pair of scaly yellow eyes was staring back at him. They had jagged black diamonds for pupils and were filled with reptilian hatred. He recognized them instantly from his dream. He wanted to stop—stalled traffic was flying toward him at a fantastic rate. He tried to ease off the brake, but his foot remained glued to the gas pedal.

“What the Frito Lay?” Herman gasped as he looked down and saw, to his absolute horror, the transparent outline of a clawed foot superimposed against his own. It held his helpless appendage pinned to the floorboard. Herman gasped as he looked up and saw the approaching rear end of a tractor trailer. He knew then that he was about to die, but he was wrong about how. Later, after the remains had been extracted from the wreckage and then examined, a confused coroner would suggest, only half-jokingly, that Herman had been bitten in half by a dinosaur.

Dinosaur Ghost: Origin Chapter 2
The Zombie Bocephus
The Oiliest Secret: Chapter 1