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Helen found Eric in his office, boxing up his things.
Helen found Eric in his office, boxing up his things.
“Oh Eric, I’m sorry you lost your job.”
“Are you kidding me,” Eric said. “I’m sorry about your boyfriend.” He gave her a hug.
“It was the ghost, Eric,” Helen said. “It was the dinosaur ghost. I don’t understand why it would want to hurt James.” She crossed her fingers. “He was such a sweetheart.”
“Is there anything I can do for you?” Eric asked.
“There is one thing,” Helen said, wiping tears from her eyes with a wad of used tissue she found in her pocket. “You have to help me figure out what’s going on. We have to figure out how and why the dinosaurs have come back from extinction, so we can stop them before they kill again.”
“Okay, I’ll help you,” Eric said. He tossed his award for outstanding Paleontology into the cardboard box. “It’s not like I have a job anymore. When do we start?”
“I was thinking about this in the car on the way over here,” Helen said. “Can you do a web search of recent suspicious deaths in the area?”
Eric sat down at his computer and began tapping away at his keyboard. He scanned text for the next few minutes.
“Here it is,” he said. “I’ve got two suspicious deaths in the last month. Herman Bainbridge, a conservative syndicated columnist, was killed in a freak car accident, and Rock Benson, the TV pundit, was killed when his hot tub exploded. Hey!” Eric said. “I know that guy. He’s the conservative blowhard and pitchman for gold and reverse mortgages.”
“James was a blogger for Red State,” Helen said. “That’s the connection. They were all members of the conservative media elite.”
“But why would the dinosaur ghosts target republicans?” Eric asked. “It doesn’t make sense.”
“That’s a good question,” Helen said. She paced in front of his desk. “Why would they do that? Why come all the way back from extinction after millions of years just to target people with a particular political affiliation? What is it about republicans that they hate so much?”
“Maybe they hate white people.”
“No,” Helen said. “There are still plenty of white liberals, and as far as we know, they aren’t being targeted.”
“Rich white people, then?”
“Ever heard of George Soros?”
They sat quietly contemplating the situation.
Gradually, they became aware of an argument taking place down the hall. Dr. Watson was yelling at someone. Eric and Helen exchanged glances and then followed the voices. The door to Dr. Watson’s office was slightly ajar, and they could see him standing there, stroking his beard and pointing his pipe at someone.
“Come now, Samson. Don’t be ridiculous.”
“I’m telling you it was a dinosaur. It’s eaten three of my elephants so far this month. Hell, it tried to eat two of my custodians. My security guard took one look at the thing, and dropped dead of a heart attack.” Dr. Sampson (the zoologist from chapter 2) stormed into view. “That man only had three days left until retirement.”
“I think maybe those fraternity boys you told me about went and spiked your zoo’s water supply.”
“I thought about that,” Dr. Sampson said, “but I checked. The water’s clean.”
“I’m sorry, Old Boy, I simply haven’t got time for this. My bloody TA lost my stegosaurus.”
Helen ignored Eric’s frantic hand gestures and barged through the door.
“Now, see here, young lady,” Dr. Watson sputtered. “You can’t barge in here like that.” A spark of recognitions passed through his face. “Wait a moment, I know you. You’re Thompson’s harlot. What are you doing here?”
Helen ignored him. “Dr. Sampson, do you know if that security guard was a democrat or a republican?”
“He was a founding member of the John Birch society,” Dr. Sampson replied, “but I don’t see what that has to do with anything.”
“Oh, it matters a great deal,” Helen replied. “Dinosaur Ghosts are real, and they’re eating republicans.”
“You’re mad,” Dr. Watson said. “Thompson, escort this woman off the premises immediately.”
“You forget yourself, Dr. Watson. I don’t work for you anymore,” Eric said. “Besides, you should listen to her. She’s been right about everything so far.”
“Why would dinosaurs eat republicans?” Dr. Sampson asked.
“That’s what we want to know,” Eric said. “But it’s definitely true. We did a Google search and everything.”
“I’ve heard quite enough,” Dr. Watson said. “I want all of you out of my office.”
A few minutes later, Helen, Eric, and Dr. Sampson walked through the parking lot, each carrying a load of Eric’s belongings.
“No one will ever believe us,” Helen said.
“I believe you,” said Dr. Sampson. “I know what I saw. And I know two custodians in a mental hospital who will vouch for your story as well.”
“That doesn’t really help,” Helen said. “I only wish we had some idea where the dinosaur ghosts were going to strike next.”
Meanwhile, across town, the annual meeting of the Association of Gun Rights Advocates was coming to order. President Wade Lafollette stood at the podium, situated beneath a large banner featuring Yosemite Sam firing his pistols into the air.
Lafollette banged his gavel. “This meeting will come to order.”
Noise in the convention center gradually subsided.
“It’s such a fine thing to see so many fine Americans strapping heat,” he began. The audience roared its approval.
“I want to say this in front of all the proud members gathered here today. Guns have rights. Guns deserve rights. They have a right to be owned by every red-blooded American. They have a right to be fired by those Americans. And we’re about this close to getting the supreme court to declare that guns are people, with equal rights and full protection under the law.”
Massive applause followed. A couple of celebratory shots rang out. Someone screamed.
“You guys be careful,” Lafollette warned. “And everybody make sure to turn off your cell phones. The media has a field day every time one of us accidently shoots himself.”
There was grumbling of approval. The gunshot member was carried away on a stretcher with a gushing leg wound.
Lafollette continued. “Don’t get me started on the liberal media.”
A chorus of boos emanated from the crowd.
“They treat every mass shooting as if it was the gun’s fault. Well, I say if people weren’t shooting up movie theaters and elementary schools with guns, they’d be doing the same thing with crossbows.”
The audience cheered.
“You know, people tend to forget all the good things guns do, like bringing food to the tables of our forefathers, and maintaining our hand-eye coordination. How come the dang media don’t report that?”
A mixture of cheers and boos came from the audience. It was unclear to them whether they were supposed to boo the media or cheer the guns.
“And why are they always out trumpeting statistics showing that people with guns are more likely to kill a family member than an intruder, no matter how many times you tie a string to a hundred-dollar bill and use it to lure neighbors through the front door? Do you know what I say to that? We need to stop listening to statistics and math and start listening to our trigger fingers. That’s what we need to do.”
The audience applauded wildly.
Another member accidentally shot himself and was wheeled away.
“Dang it,” Lafollette said.
Suddenly, the great double doors at the front of the auditorium flew open. A cold wind rushed into the room. A string of eerie looking mist swirled in the air above the crowd.
“What the?” Lafollette said, just as a pair of terrible lizards appeared in the miasma.
One stood on two legs. It had a large head and ferocious teeth. Along side the monster stood a four-legged stegosaurus, whose tail cut through the air with spikes as sharp as swords.
Instantly, everyone in the room pulled out their guns and began firing in the general direction of the two dinosaurs. The room filled with gunshots and thick gray smoke, blood and spattered curses. The dinosaurs shrieked, twisted in the wind, now heavy with lead.
“Take that, you son of a bitch,” Lafollette shouted as he emptied both chambers of his trusty derringer into the side of the Tyrannosaurus. “And that’s just the one I hide in my underwear.” He pulled back his suit jacket to reveal a pair of six shooters.”
Men on both sides of him dropped in a hail of gunfire.
The stegosaurus turned at him and hissed. A spike flew just over his head, tussling his hair, but leaving him no worse for wear. “You call that a draw.” Lafollette sneered. He drew both revolvers at once and emptied both barrels, all twelve shots in rapid succession.
Across the stage, he heard the sound of people screaming.
A bullet whizzed past his ear, and then another. A third grazed his elbow.
“Dag nabbit,” he shouted. “Don’t shoot me. Shoot the dang dinosaurs!” He pointed one of his pistols in the direction of the two dinosaur ghosts. With his chambers empty, his guns useless, he felt he had no choice but to defend himself the last way he knew how; he threw each gun in the direction of the Tyrannosaur, hoping to knock it unconscious. Instead, the pistols sailed through the dinosaur’s head without it even noticing.
The next bullet caught him beneath the belt, dropped him to the floor.
“It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” he said, his voice a hoarse whisper. Another bullet caught his shoulder, knocked him flat on his back.
His last sight was that of a pair of floating dinosaurs looking down at him, looking down at all of them, all those men with guns, now lying bleeding and riddled with bullets, while they--the dinosaur ghosts-- remained, unharmed, and towering above them.
Both dinosaur ghosts roared at once, but it wasn’t the roar of anger, or pain, or terror; that would have been more satisfying to Lafollette. Instead it was a mocking sound that would follow him into the grave: it sounded like they were laughing.
go to chapter 8
go to chapter 8