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May 17th of 2011 was my finals week. I was quietly working on a study guide in the Earth Sciences department. Being surrounded by the fossils somehow made me feel less stressed about finals. Many of them were simply beautiful, with their natural curves set in stone. All of them, from ammonite shells to mammoth teeth, were arranged in a chronological fashion, from oldest to the youngest. On the middle display shelf were the Mesozoic Era fossils, which held the dinosaur remains. Each were in exquisite detail and I could hear them speak to me about the rich knowledge they contained. I could easily identify each of the specimens and what kind of dinosaur they were. Sitting there in the lounge next to the displays, I could easily get lost in the sweet music created by the ancient bones. I was getting distracted, so reluctantly I returned to my studies.
A couple of hours later, I had finished the assignment. However, I remained there for a little longer to hear the old fossils speak. They told me of their lives, from the massive migrations to the perilous hunts. The voices told me in graphic detail about the battles between predator and prey, fights for breeding right, the nurturing care of the young, and so much more. In the center of this display, and by far the most extraordinary fossil here was that of a complete, unaltered Velociraptor skull.
As I got up to leave the musing session with the old bones, the hollows of the skull stared into me, like an old friend who wanted you to stay a while longer. Out loud I said, “No worries, my friend, I will be back tomorrow.” I proceeded to leave the building to head back to my apartment.
In the dark and humid night, it was almost unbearable to walk across the campus. The summer heat had not yet quelled itself. Then I came across a horrible sight. Surrounding a large bonfire were several fraternities and sororities, celebrating the end of the semester. Many of them were intoxicated and mad with lust. I powered my way around the crowd, hoping to put as much distance between the manic group and myself in the shortest amount of time as possible. My path was blocked however. A large and overbearing figure stood there, chanting in a sloppy, “Wooooo, yeah!"
I stopped and analyzed the drunk. I made no reply to his overzealous remark and simply walked around him. The next obstacle was harder to get around.
A group of the football cheerleaders were handing out school spirit ribbons and other cultish objects to the students that passed by. Once I came into to view, they immediately locked on to my presence.
“Do you have school spirit!?” the siren screamed at me.
I was frightened by her suddenness and, in anger, replied, “No.” Apparently, this was the wrong answer. They surrounded me, trying to encourage their pathetic notion of brainwashing me. I just stood there in silence as they continued their banter. Fortunately, a friend came up and pulled me away from the scene. This friend’s name was Roxanne; she was a Physics major and the only human friend I had there.
“Leave him alone, you fucking sluts!” she roared, as she gently took my arm to take me away from them. The entire experience left me quite shaky. I don’t do well in crowds and, fortunately, Roxanne knew this.
“I’m glad I ran into you, but I’m puzzled as to why you were there, Roxanne,” I said quietly as we headed into the darkness.
“I was on my way back from the library when I saw them assaulting you,” she said smugly. True to form, Roxanne was a very confident person. As if to reinforce her fierceness, she had medium-red hair and green eyes. However, I couldn’t help but find it adorable and attractive. Yet, I was too afraid to say such things to her. We continued our walk to the apartments. Our discussion shifted to post-finals plans. Neither her nor I had any plans to go home or to do anything special.
“Want to hang out this weekend?” Roxanne asked me. Thanks to the faint light provided by a street light, I could tell she had a slight blush.
Struggling to agree, I said, “Y-yes,” weakly. We parted ways to our separate apartments.
I underwent my nightly rituals of preparing for bed. I am very strict on how I go about this. I begin with a fifteen minute shower, followed by shaving, brushing my teeth, and, lastly, I turn in. Tonight was different. I don't like different. As I laid down, I heard a bone-chilling scream from outside. Jumping from my bed I grabbed my keys and phone in a rush to investigate. Luckily, I live on the ground floor of the building and it didn’t take me long to find the source of the scream.
There on the ground, I found Roxanne unconscious, in a small pool of blood. I called 911 and tried to stop the bleeding. Twenty minutes later, the paramedics arrived and the head RA came out to examine the situation. Even a few hours later, I was too upset to sleep. I answered all of the questions I could and there were no clues at the crime scene.
My mind was racing and I needed comfort. I returned to the Earth Science department lounge in the hopes that the fossil voices would allow me to clear my mind. Being a paleontology major, I had a keycard to access the building after-hours. Once inside I went straight to the lounge and took a seat. The voices were quiet. They said nothing to me. I got up and stared into the display case. My eyes became fixed onto the Velociraptor skull. After what seemed to be a long silence, I heard the skull cry out.
“You!” it said to me. I jumped upon hearing this. “Remove me from this case!” demanded the skull. I did as I was told, and removed the skull from its perch.
With gentle hands, I picked up the fragile skull and stared into the hollows of its eyes. A magnetic force drew me in. An intense hunger overtook me. I placed the skull back in its proper place and sat back down. The hunger became increasingly painful. I grabbed my stomach and cried out. In the height of the moment, I blacked out.
I regained consciousness, but it was very surreal. I was in the middle of the woods outside the apartment complex. The air was cool, and a fresh mist made it seem to be quite peaceful, adding to the comfort of laying on the moss laden ground.
When I rose, I found that my clothes were ripped to shreds, my glasses were missing, and my hands and feet were cover in congealed, dried blood. In a small, clear puddle near by allowed me to examine at my reflection. There was dark red blood around my mouth and cheeks. Rather than being horrified, I just stood up and decided to return to my apartment to clean myself up. It was early in the morning. The golden orange sky illuminated my surroundings. There was not a soul to be seen on the campus grounds. However, there stretched out across where the bonfire was being held, was varying length of police tape.
As I passed by, I started to remember what had happened last night. It was like an odd dream. I was on the hunt in a prehistoric forest. I had quietly stalked a group of five small, herbivorous dinosaurs into a clearing. Each of the morsels were chattering away with chirps and birdsong. In the shadows, I watched them intensely I remembered. Followed their every move until they went quiet. My heart was pounding. My breathing became heavy. My mind was racing.
In a superhuman leap, I jumped the largest herd member with a tremendous crash, sticking my sickle claws deep into its flesh. I continued to deliver kicks into the animal’s backside. The creature fell on the spot in shock. I turned around dashed after the others, in a fury that would have scared gods. The herbivores tired quickly, making them easier to pick off. I bit one’s neck and ripped out the throat. Another, I disemboweled with my hands and slashed its innards into a bloody mess. The last two ran in terror. My hunger was satisfied.
I went inside my apartment and took a quick shower. After getting ready, I went off to the hospital to check on Roxanne. On the way there, I continued going over what I remembered from last night. I couldn’t dismiss the event as a dream considering my hands were blood soaked. To any normal person, I’m sure, this would of been a horrific experience and they would surely feel guilt-ridden.
Not me. I felt it was completely natural and a newly found sense of pride engulfed me. Upon entering the hospital, I saw two of the annoying cheerleaders from last night in straight-jackets. They were screaming in a panic that a dinosaur was out to murder them. The orderlies were trying to sedate them as I approached.
They flinched in terror at the sight of me and silently fell into a deep sleep. I left them to their nightmares with a small laugh and entered Roxanne’s room. Fortunately, she pulled through and was happy to see me.
I sat next to her bedside and took her hand. I told her about my unusual "dream". She just smiled and looked back at me. "Let's go get something to eat after I get out of here." I agreed with her. It seems we have a mutual feeling of primeval hunger. After all, raptors hunt in packs.