The Raptor Twitched: A Dinosaur Halloween Ghost Story
An eerie, red haze bled into the night sky. A deep red flowed across the lower portion of moon as well, giving an appearance of pooling blood. An ongoing storm rained down only lightning, sparking fires indiscriminately. The heavy night wind whipped along the desert plain, unleashing an uncontrolled blaze. Despite the sparse vegetation, everything that could burn in this part of the desert was on fire. A pair of young protoceratops siblings crashed headlong through the fiery landscape, pursued by a very disturbing velociraptor.
The raptor was covered with shades of deep crimson. Most disturbing were putrid, festering blisters that covered patches of missing feathers.
This raptor was swiftly closing the distance between them. The young female was barely a few paces ahead of her brother. She jerked her head back when she heard him cry in pain. The velociraptor had dug its claws in her brother’s back. Blood began dripping down his sides, and the raptor’s mouth rapidly snapped and tore at the delicate flesh behind his crest. She turned to intervene, but nature struck first.
A bolt of lightning came down, striking the raptor and the young male ceratopsian. The female was safely away, but the intense flash of light had rendered her temporarily blind. She defensively began to move backwards, away from the predator’s last known location. She shook her frilled head frantically in an attempt to restore her vision. As her eyes recovered, she looked to see how both predator and prey had fared. Slowly she crept towards her brother, but watched the raptor closely for any signs of movement.
The combatants lay motionless, smoke rising off of their singed bodies.
The raptor twitched.
It’s head lurched up, then slammed back onto the ground. The raptor continued to flail it’s way to a standing position. Instincts quickly brought her to a full charge, lowering her head and slamming the raptor hard in its side. The sound of bones snapping could be heard. The decrepit animal went airborne, landing a short distance away. Lifting her head, she only saw a flash of movement before the raptor disappeared into the night. A quick glance back to her brother found him unmoved. Pained, angry velociraptor calls started to emanate in the area, even over the sounds of burning brush. The raptor was still nearby, and didn’t seem to be leaving. The protoceratops soon began to recognize these calls. They were calls for help. She had to go now.
As she began to turn, movement caught her eye. Her brother started to twitch. First a leg, then two, and slowly her brother stood on all fours once more. The wounds on his back dripped steadily, the sand where he had lain was soaked with crimson. Another vengeful howl triggered her instincts, and spurred her to flight once more. Her brother’s head crept slowly in her direction she moved. He began to follow.
The female ceratopsian had always been faster than her larger sibling, but he seemed more sluggish than usual. She attributed this to his wounds, and purposely kept a less hurried pace. Keeping in her brother’s sight required her to slow occasionally, but she dared not stop. He stumbled on one occasion, and she could see a trail of blood leading all the way down his abdomen to his tail. The loss appeared significant. She considered leaving him behind more than once as the velociraptor’s screeches continued to haunt her, but there was strength in numbers.
As they trudged on through the night, the fires died down. They approached a stream, and a heavy mist began to shroud everything. The female slowed her pace dramatically, but still did not stop. As she moved into the fog, a gruesome secret was revealed. Piles of bones were scattered throughout the area. Skeletons of animals great and small werein various states of decay, each pile of remains embraced by swirling mist. This was some large carnivore’s feeding ground, and it was a warning that there was something monstrous here. At that moment, another warning came from behind her. The wretched cries of the wounded raptor had multiplied. Now there were two. She resolved to plunge forward into possible danger, instead of facing the certain danger she knew was approaching. Her brother continued to follow, steady and focused. Focused on her.
Bones cracked beneath her feet, and that of her brother’s, as they trotted onward. There was no disguising their trail. The nearby water softened the ground, leaving elaborate footprints. A track that even the most inexperienced hunter could follow.
Suddenly, a low bellow could be heard. It was the sound of an unhappy predator warning its uninvited guests. Adrenaline began to surge through her, and once more she broke into an all out sprint. She was no longer concerned about the gap between her and her brother. Self preservation was paramount now. Looking back she saw a large, tooth lined head part through the haze. A louder, more clearly challenging bellow was given as the mouth gaped wide, just before being swallowed by the mist again.
The second the muzzle disappeared, it grew deathly silent. She looked back to see her brother trailing farther behind. Deafening footsteps started to pound after her. The unnaturally silent carnivore could be heard again, loudly thundering after them. This time as its head parted the haze, two small arms with razor sharp claws followed. It was gaining on both her and her brother.
Then once more, quiet fell as the fog overtook the giant predator. No steps, no bellows, only the sound of her and her brother rushing across the rocks. Her brother still plodded along behind her. His gaze neutral, unconcerned by the jaws of death edging so close behind him.
Out of nothingness, an open maw abruptly appeared, flashing rows of wicked teeth that loomed through the dense fog towards her brother. Small claws reached forward, already moving to rip and tear through their victim. This time two enormous legs could be seen too, matching the thunderous sound as they stomped into earth and bone. She saw her brother knocked to the side by the predator’s maw, sending him sliding out of sight. Blood stained the monstrous specter’s lips as it returned to the mist. Another terrifying silence followed. She never stopped running.
Moments later she broke through the edge of the fog. A rocky outcropping blocked her immediate path, but it curved and opened back into the desert away from the mist. She was exhausted though. Not once had she stopped moving since the wildfires, and every muscle in her body ached and screamed for mercy. There were no howls of velociraptors, no bellows from ghastly predators. There were no signs of her brother either. The only sound was of a heavy wind beginning to pick up. She collapsed into a heap at the base of the rocky outcrop, unable to move any further even if she wanted to. As sleep began to overcome her, she saw her brother push through the fog. The glimmer of happiness was fleeting.
As he neared, she could see lifeless eyes fixed on her. In addition to the wounds on his back, a chunk of flesh was now missing from his rear quarter. Entrails spilled out and dragged along the sand. He appeared to be moving painfully slow now, limping badly. She mustered all her strength to stand as a gesture of encouragement. As she got to her feet, a familiar but unwelcome sight slipped through the fog. The murderous raptor from before exited the haze, and a pair of raptors followed behind it. One of the newcomers was missing an arm, and the other was missing part of its upper jaw. All of them emanated the smell of rotting flesh, and shared the same putrid sores. The trio hissed in unison as they began to approach, and all three were looking right at her.
Her brother finally shambled his way next to her, unresponsive to the danger so close behind him. She hadn’t been this close to him since the beginning of their ordeal. Without warning, her brother lunged for her stomach, sinking his beak deep into her side. A large section of flesh tore from her soft belly, leaving her in shock and confused. The remaining strength drained as fast as the blood left her body, pouring out onto ground creating a thick, sandy mud. Only then did she noticed the familiar festering sores on her brother. The lead raptor lowered his head in preparation for a killing pounce. The two other raptors maneuvered to cut off any escape. She knew her end was near.
A storm started to roll in, raining down only lightning.
As the raptor made that final leap, the young protoceratops had no more to give. She simply stumbled backwards instinctively. This was enough to cause the raptor to miss, stumbling and lying on its back beneath her. Seizing this final moment, the ceratopsian found the raptor’s right arm, and snapped it with her powerful beak. The raptor responded by using its leg claw to deliver a slash to her throat from below. The last of the female’s blood began to pour onto the raptor.
In that instant, a bolt of lightning came down and struck the fighting dinosaurs.
The combatants lay motionless, smoke rising off of their singed bodies.
The raptor twitched.
All mine, Copyright © 2017, All Rights Reserved
Protoceratops by Emily Willoughby CC BY-SA 3.0
Velociraptor by Fred Wierum CC BY-SA 3.0
All images altered from originals.