Dino Walk
by Xander Opal

1997


I tripped my fingers across the keyboard, entering my name, Mark Theron.

Password.

Four hours later, at about ten pm, I logged off.

The depression was hitting me again, and I didnt know how to deal with it, other than to go for a walk. I start the days of just as any other person, but by the end of the day I'm usually in tears.

I walked out of the building, and headed off down the sidewalk towards my apartment. It was a few miles away, but I didnt mind, terribly... I needed the time to ease myself.

My sneakers crunched along on the concrete sidewalk... my body on automatic as my mind drifted along.

I guess I have a problem dealing with, well, problems. Things just seem to pile on my soul more and more, until I break down, and I just cant let myself open to another person.

When something went wrong, or I was put down... the words, or the action, or the event just sinks into my soul, and drowns me a little more in despair.

I'd gone a ways, ten blocks or so, and was so wrapped up in myself that I didnt realize until now that my feet were now bare... my shoes had been left behind a ways back. I stared at my feet... they were large, and scaly... I couldnt tell the color from the meager street-lighting, but by the trademark claw, they were the feet of some relative of the infamous Velociraptor...

I suddenly went up on my toes... my feet elongating, pitching me forward... then my shins grew, and altered, shredding my jeans from the bottom up. I watched, horrified, yet fascicnated, as it seemed as if my body were slowly being run through a shredder, or something like it, stripping away my humanity.

A long tail blew my the back of my pants apart, stretching behind me, and the pubic bone removed the front. When my hips shifted, my dragon belt-buckle's tap snapped, fortunately, the belt falling away.

The back of my jacket, and T-shirt split open, as my torso shifted, ribs growing further back, my breastbone becoming more keel-like. My arms came down, my shoulders set more forward/downward. I suddenly realized my stance was now such that I was holding my body parallel to the ground, almost, balanced by my long tail. My arms shifted around a bit, my fifth finger merging with my fourth... soon my hands had only four digits, a thumb and three nearly equally-sized fingers, each tipped by a very nasty-looking claw.

My neck stretched, and thickened. I couldnt see what was happening anymore, but I could feel it. As with the rest of my body, more powerful muscles moved under my now scaly skin, my strong neck, my whole body feeling like a well-oiled machine.

My head altered... with the rest of my body changed, I was half-expecting the feeling of my mouth pushing out into the powerful, crushing jaws of a predator. My nose was now part of my muzzle, a large shape in my view.

Before this... change altered me, I had medium-long hair, but now my head was covered in scales... running my hands over it, feeling what I couldnt see, I found my ears gone, just a pair of holes in the side of my head. My eyes had moved apart a bit, sliding towards the sides of my skull... but not far; I still had stereo vision.

My sight was just as good as before, and my hearing a tad reduced, at least... but the smells! I detected the trees lining the walk... houses, cars, the dog that was here half an hour ago, the fire...

An alarm went off in my head... someone might need help!

Off in the distance, ahead, I saw the source of the smell of fire, several blocks off. I ran to help.

Check that; I ran. This body was built for speed, and I flew in a sprint.

When I got there, I saw a car had lost control, and had crumpled its front into the wooden side of a house. Bright flames licked out from beneath the sprung hood. Inside the medium-sized car, a frenetic raccoon was trying to escape, along with a mouse-like woman, and a pair of little still-human kids. Some separate part of my mind compared scales, and noted I had to be around fifteen feet long or so.

I bent over, and looked at the door of the car... and saw why they couldnt get out: The impact had twisted and shifted the frame and body of the car, so that the doors were jammed shut. The kids were screaming and all... it was horrible.

I tugged at the door handle, but that didn't work... None of them did.

I tried pulling the door off, but that didnt work, either... my talons just put deep rents into the side.

I felt a pushing in my mind... something powerful, and logical, a forceful thing shoved my self aside, and I suddenly felt my body, at one remove. Everything was felt, but it was dimmed. I watched as I took a bite out of the top of the door, and roof on the driver's side.

I swallowed the metal, and bits of glass... and bit again, eating away the door, swallowing more and more. I saw my scales begin to glow a ruddy color, and a hellish light leak from my mouth when it was opened... and the edges of my bite marks were molten.

The door cleared, my body stood back, a bit, watching the flames... they didnt get worse... much. Yet. The family scrambled out, and got away from the vehicle.. or me? My body moved towards the hood, jaws agape, about to do something, when the fire hit the fuel cell. A pillar of fire blew the hood away, and sent me tumbling head over tail... the last think I knew was the impact of my skull on sidewalk.

I found myself human again, standing on an endless plain, a grid of absolute black divided into squares by white-silver lines.

Everywhere I looked, it was like that. Overhead, more absolute black, though it was filled with stars, or something like stars... I'm not sure how to explain it; they were more starlike than stars. There was air, but no wind.

There didnt seem to be any point in just standing around, so I walked... and no better direction to go than the one I was facing. I dont know how long I walked, or how far... I didnt get thirsty, or tired, or hungry.

All of a sudden, I came upon a Bolo, a science-fiction supertank I'd loved to read stories about. It was sitting there, dead, lights off, its eighty-meter long hull unmoving. Even more, it gave off the air of a dead hulk, as if it had been that way, there, for centuries.

I cautiously approached it. The machine gave no sign of movement... its main gun was still, as were its nine secondary guns along the side I was on. It didnt even seem to be aware of me. The access hatch was open... I entered.

I went up a ramp, through a passage about twice as big as an almost-tight fit. The walls were beige armor, a few conduits along the ceiling. Just before the inner hatch to the Command Center, I looked up, to where a laser-weapon should be. The gun port was there, but it was closed.

The command Center was strange... instead of a comfortable chair, there was a quarter-tube, at an angle, mounted before the controls; a totally alien 'seat.' The controls were strange, too... the keys on the keypad were in the familiar QWERTY style, but they were larger, made for a bigger scale than the human. The switches, and all were oversized, too, and set somewhat oddly, making their use uncomfortable.

I explored around the room... all the cabinets, and all, were locked... I came across a slot in the wall, from which protruded a yellowed piece of paper. On it was the word, 'find other half.'

A cryptic clue...

When I passed by the hatch again, on my circuit about the room, I smelled... jungle, of some sort. I went out the hatch, and looked around... to see that the plane had been replaced by a jungle.

It was like the stars, more real than real, but false at the same time.

I strode down the ramp, and began walking again, marking my trail. I soon came across the unmistakable prints of a utahraptor, and turned a little, following them.

The jungle was very strange; there were no insects; the air was absolutely still, and of no discernable temperature. I followed the tracks, and followed them, like when I had walked the plane, not knowing how far it was...

I began to hear faint noises... shrieks, and other sounds, including those of fighting. Eventually, I came to a small clearing... and saw a horrid scene, that drove me to my knees, eyes squeezed shut, cowering.

In the middle of the ring was the Utahraptor, holding at bay all my fears, doubts, pains, and imps that tormented me into depression.

The Utahraptor saw me... and tried to break out of the ring, coming at me, to join me... but it was driven back. Already it was bleeding from many wounds... again it tried to break out, but it was driven back again, and the circle tightened, and I felt something in my heart constrict.

I ran at the ring... there was just enough room for me to squeeze between two of the horrors. I felt an icy chill blow through me when I brushed one of them. Somehow I felt it right to swing up on the dino's back... I suddenly noticed my right arm was shredded, from contact with the horror.

An opening, a little bigger, had appeared, for apparently my entrance had somehow shoved the thing aside... the 'raptor bolted for it, and slipped thorugh, though its tailtip was bloodied.

We ran, and the things ran after us... after a bit of it, I began to feel the creature's exertion. I tried to will my strength into it; that seemed to work.

I never noticed that I had merged with the Utahraptor, until I realized that I was looking through its-my- eyes. It seemed to be me, and I seemed to be it, a complete merge, and I was like I had been changed to, before I had found myself on that plane.

A timeless time later, I/we got back to the Bolo. It was still dead, but it was a refuge. Up the ramp I flew, and clanged the hatch shut behind me.

I realized what the 'chair' was for, now... it was made for me to half-lie on, positioning my arms for comfortable reach to the controls.

They, too were made for my form. I flipped switches, and levers, and hit buttons... finally, I did something right, and the main screen before me lit up.

I heard vague sounds about me, as the machine powered up, returning to life. The fears, and all, were clustered about the machine, unable to get in through the closed hatch.

As the thing went up to full strength, I saw a bank of lights flip on, and a short hum from a speaker.

Suddenly, I was dumped back into the real world.

Hospital-smell-manacle-feel-muzzle-constrict-touch-taste-smell-feel-hear...

I was in some sort of pen, in a hospital-like place. I saw, outside of a reinforced window, people in white moving about. Inside, the room I was in had barely enough room for me to turn around, without scraping my tail- if I stood in the middle of the room. To one side of the window was a door, and on the adjacent wall on the other side of the window, was a trough with some sort of meat in it, and a water trough.

Peering carefully through the glass-and-bars, I saw the sign:

Central Military Medical Research
West Wing
Section 11
Cell 38



WoC ArchiveTop Page