I wanted to give a glimpse of what I’ve been working on. But I REDACTED a few parts of it to keep from giving away the ending of WoP for anyone who hasn’t read it yet. You’re not missing much, just the summarized portion of the narrative.
Anyways. Here’s the opening two chapters with an update on general things at the end.
Four miles north of Granite Falls, Wyoming.
The hot summer sun beat down on me as I watched the massive dinosaur feasting on the rancher’s corpse.
Hunched over on all four legs, the top of the dinosaur’s back was eight feet high and from blood covered snout to the tip of tail was easily sixteen feet in length. A scarlet fin rose between its eyes, increasing in height over a sloping skull before running down the neck and fading away between the beast’s shoulder blades. The rest of its body, corded with thick muscle and sinew, was a light green, with smudges of brown for added camouflage.
It was the biggest dinosaur we’d found yet on this side of the tunnel. So, of course it had to be a predator.
The beast raised the mangled remains of the man with both front claws and crunched the man’s skull between blood stained teeth. Even from this distance, the sound was sickening. The dinosaur shook the corpse and a severed arm fell. The torn limb landed amongst scattered remains of the man’s ill-fated herd of sheep that he’d apparently died trying to protect.
Carbine stomped his hooves impatiently. He was anxious to be away, but I knew the soldiers needed more time to prepare, so I watched and waited as it ate the rancher.
Wrapping my fingers on the black Allosaurus claw that dangled from its leather cord around my neck, I leaned forward on the saddle pommel and thought about the events of the past couple months.
Battle of the Apes.
That’s what newspapers across America called it.
At the time, we just called it survival. And the only reason I was there at all was because I was hiding from my vengeful outlaw past. I was just trying to make a fresh start. Then an Allosaurus killed one of my horses and tried to kill me. I barely survived by filling it full of lead and finishing it off with a crate of dynamite. Then I ate it, and now I wear its claw as a memento of the occasion.
After that some prehistoric, triceratops riding, giant apes visited my ranch and tried to kill me. I back tracked them to their home and saw their leader ritualistically rip a man’s heart out of his chest. That ticked me off, so I killed a bunch of them in return, possibly sparking a war in the process. But the apes didn’t seem fans of peaceful coexistence anyways.
Sighing, I arched my back to work out a kink.
I must have moved too quickly, because the finned beast whipped its fearsome head in our direction and snorted loudly as it tried to get my scent.
Carbine tensed beneath me, and I took a sharp breath, realizing my mistake.
Apparently still hungry, the dinosaur growled and charged. Dropping onto all fours, the clawed feet sent tuffs of prairie grass into the air as it raced towards us. It moved faster than I’d have thought possible for an animal of its size.
Whipping Carbine around, I kicked my heels to his flanks and he surged forward into a dead sprint towards where we’d left the soldiers.
My name is Jedidiah Huckleberry Smith.
This is my story.
My mustang stretched his legs out, black mane and tail waving in the wind as we raced across the rolling plains.
“Good boy,” I told him fondly while resting a hand on the grip of one of my twin Colt Peacemakers. Twisting about in the saddle, I considered trying to put a.45 caliber slug into the dinosaur chasing us. At this distance, the chance of hitting was slim, but just running and not shooting seemed foreign to me and I’d have felt better if I could wound it a little.
Because it was gaining on us.
The large reptilian head opened its mouth wide, exposing jagged teeth and let loose an ear-piercing roar as it closed the distance between us.
Carbine responded by stretching his neck out and giving his all as he charged up a grassy hill towards a waiting pair of Gatling guns on the crest. Groups of soldiers stood by the weapons under the watchful eye of Lieutenant Carson. The young officer stood between them, sword raised, waiting to give the order for the multi-barreled guns to open fire once I was clear.
The dinosaur was dangerous enough, but worrying about a man getting fearful of the charging beast and firing before I reached safety certainly didn’t help the situation any. I crouched lower over Carbine’s and urged him on with a rebel yell.
With less than a hundred yards left between us and the angry dinosaur, I raced between the Gatling’s. It was close. Too close.
Sunlight glinted off the Lieutenant’s blade as he swept it down and screamed, “FIRE!”
Before the blade dropped past the man’s waist, the gun on the left began firing.
A steady pop-pop-pop-pop erupted from the bottom rotating barrel as the gunner cranked the handle, sending bullet after bullet towards the red crested beast.
Bullets hit the dinosaur, causing it to stumble to the side and the other rounds to miss. Swearing, the soldier fought the traversing mechanism to line the gun up on the rapidly approaching predator as the rest of his team dumped more cartridges into the gun’s hopper to keep it firing.
The monster roared in pain and anger, circling away from the loud contraption. The gunner twisted the weapon after the dinosaur, struggling to catch up to the moving beast.
The other Gatling remained silent. A soldier jerked the handle back and forth, but it was jammed and not rotating the firing mechanisms.
Without that weapon, we were in for a world of hurt.
I pulled my Eighty-Six from the scabbard. Racking the lever, I sent a large .45-70 cartridge into the chamber of the custom 1886 Winchester rifle.
Dinosaurs never go down easy. Ever.
“Get that gun operational!” Carson shouted as he rushed over to the crew served weapon. Soldiers manning the gun worked feverishly to fix it. The officer shoved a man aside and slid underneath the wheeled carriage, jamming his hands inside the gun from below. His young face contorted as he worked to free the gun.
The beast slowed, hesitating, and a jagged row of bullets stitched into the beast’s chest and hind quarters. It roared fearsomely and rushed further to our right side, circling around our position to flank us.
Tucking the polished wood stock into my shoulder, I fired into the creature’s chest at twenty yards away. The bullet hit, sending a splash of blood across the green pebbled hide. The finned dinosaur didn’t seem to notice and charged directly towards us.
“Oh hell,” I muttered as I slammed the action open and close, sending an empty brass shell spinning to the ground.
Soldiers working on the malfunctioning gun grabbed stacked rifles and began to open fire with their small arms. Frantic at the distance remaining, most of their bullets missed the dinosaur.
Several large strides later, the monster was upon us.
With a swing of its red finned head, the working Gatling was knocked aside and the soldier operating the weapon snatched up in its teeth. With a savage twist of its sloping head, the shrieking man was bitten in half. His legs fell beside another soldier who scrambled away and ran for the picketed horses fifty yards behind us.
Another followed, throwing down his weapon to flee the monster amongst us. The rest, braver, and perhaps more foolish, stood their ground and fought. They circled around the beast, firing rifles upwards into its large body as it twisted and thrashed, ripping men apart with tooth and claw.
The young Lieutenant crawled out from under the malfunctioning gun and was immediately flung a dozen feet into the tall grass with a slap of the dinosaur’s tail as it twisted about on the small crest.
Claws swiped across the front of another soldier to my right. Blood sprayed in an arc and splattered Carbine. My horse jerked his head, and fought the bit to get away as I hammered the beast with large rounds from my rifle. Bullets cracked past me as soldiers missed from the other side of the dinosaur. I swore and ducked involuntarily before firing again.
Behind us, two fleeing soldiers leapt onto horses, whipping them frantically with reins as they rode away.
Kicking my heels against Carbine, I put him into a trot, moving in a circle to maintain distance away from the beast as I concentrated on putting as many bullets from my expensive rifle into the dinosaurs finned head as possible. It was difficult with the thrashing, roaring, biting dinosaur raging among the few remaining soldiers. Only a couple shots connected, and while the beast seemed to be weakening and slowing, it still contained enough life in it to kill us all.
The dinosaurs tail smashed into the other Gatling, sending it tumbling over a pair of disfigured corpses. It rolled, crushing mutilated bodies under the wheels before bumping down the hill and toppling over.
Rifle empty, I thrust it into the tooled scabbard and drew my matching Colt Peacemakers. Not the stoutest of fire power against such a large beast but they were faster than a reload and this dinosaur needed to go down fast.
Carson burst from the tall grass armed with only his sword. Bleeding and limping, the young Lieutenant raced towards the beast, slashing and hacking at its back legs and tail. The blade did minimal damage, but the temporary distraction did allow the two remaining soldiers time to flee to the horses and mount.
“Run dammit!” I yelled at the officer and kicked Carbine’s flanks, sending him rushing towards the dinosaur and wounded Lieutenant. Firing both pistols, I screamed at the beast to distract it from the officer standing before it with bloodied sword raised.
Ignoring me, the dinosaur raised a clawed foot and stomped down. Thick talons sliced through the Carson’s face, chest, and stomach. Loops of intestines fell as the officer grabbed at his mortally wounded body and collapsed.
The beast viciously bit the officers face and savaged his body with front claws.
Screaming in rage, I let Carbine race us away from the gruesome scene.
The dinosaur didn’t seem interested in pursuing us, and we stopped on the next ridge by the remaining staged horses of the dead soldiers.
From where we’d set our ambush, there was nothing but broken Gatling guns and mangled corpses. Dismounting, I kicked a rock and swore. All those men, dead, because one of our two guns malfunctioned. Lieutenant Carson had been a good man as well. Smart, funny, filled with the youthful enthusiasm that I barely remembered having… also dead.
Raising its blood covered face towards the sky, the wounded beast roared its dominance over mankind, then took two steps, and fell. It struggled to rise, pulling legs beneath the large body, but only managing to raise its head off the ground.
I looked after the other soldiers who’d escaped, trails of dust showed they were riding towards town with no intent to come back. Cowardly, but I couldn’t blame them. Only four of them survived and their commanding officer was dead.
The remaining horses were uneasy. They could smell the scent of blood and death in the air. We’d picketed them away from the shooting, but their masters were all dead now. I pulled up their stakes and gave them a gentle slap on the rump to send them on their way. They’d wander back to town in a day or two. Unless something ate them, or they were caught by the Indians. After the battle, the local Shaynee tribe had so much U.S. Government marked equipment that another half dozen horses wouldn’t be noticed. They got away with a lot now, because REDACTED. Also, they were no longer our main concern. Apes and dinosaurs were. For the moment, we were at peace with the Indians.
Picking a spot that looked relatively comfortable, I crawled into the prone position with the Eighty-Six. Laying on my belly and cradling the gun in my hands, I flipped the peep sight upright and squinted at the bladed front sight. The working Gatling and soldier’s bullets had done their job, the beast was dying. But until it stopped breathing, it was dangerous.
I waited for a clean shot. The Lieutenant and his men were going to be avenged by my bullet. REDACTED wouldn’t like it, she’d want the head as unmutilated as possible. But we’d already shot the creature to rags and it still didn’t quit.
The dinosaur struggled again, thrashing its tail against the ground. This time it managed to stand. Blood oozed from puckered wounds along its chest and side. It took one careful step and halted, swaying slightly. The finned head swung towards me and glared.
I squeezed the trigger, letting the break of the hammer be a surprise and sending the large 200 grain 45-70 bullet into the dinosaur’s skull. It staggered to the side, the large toothed head dipping as the creature wobbled side to side. It clawed a front leg at its face, then toppled over. The beast spasmed, legs and claws tearing up chunks of prairie dirt in death throes.
Racking the lever, I waited, much longer than was probably necessary, to make sure the beast was dead. The skull was thick, probably a half inch of more, and I wanted to make sure I punctured it instead of just knocking the dinosaur out. The risk of being eaten wasn’t worth the time saved by impatience.
After fifteen minutes passed, I put another bullet into the dinosaurs head. This time it didn’t so much as twitch. Ejecting the shell casing, I stood and rested the heavy rifle over a shoulder.
All manner of dinosaurs had made it through the tunnel before the fort was built. Most of them were relatively harmless. But some, like this strange red finned predator, were menaces that needed to be put down.
And put them down we did.
So. Hows the writing going?
Not at all. I’m burnt out. I’m taking a break, I haven’t written anything but blog posts for the past two weeks. I’m struggling with chronic fatigue/breathing issues, for reasons we haven’t figured out, and it makes me exhausted by 8:30 pm. Which means I have the awake hours of a toddler now. Except without the opportunity to nap.
Also we are buying a mansion.
Well, I call it a mansion because it’s 2x the size of the house we are living in now. But Google tells me that a mansion is 5,000 sq feet or bigger, and ours ain’t that. So I guess we are just buying a nice, big house. With lots of bathrooms. I don’t know why we need 3.5 bathrooms, but the house came with them.
I think one of them should be turned into an armory with a vault door. -sigh- Speaking of which, I need a bigger gun safe. I can’t fit everything in mine. Add that to the list of new furniture the new house will require.
Anyways, that’s been a huge time suck. But, historically speaking, I tend to write very little during Nov/December and jump back into full swing in Jan. That’s how the past two years of writing have been and it appears this year will be no different.
And we will have to sell our house AFTER we buy this house, so that will be a huge time suck also once we close on the mansion. I’m exhausted just thinking about everything we have to do for the rest of the year.
Oh yes, I’m doing another Spartan Race this weekend.
But no worries, I’m just in the absolute worst shape of my life, plus dealing with the fatigue and breathing issue that are making everything difficult. And of course, we are doing a Beast, which is a 13-15 mile obstacle course. Yay. Generally speaking, we have been doing the Trifecta (All 3 Spartan Races) every year for the past three years. But this year I had a lot of health issues and we put it off until pretty much the final race of the season… and it’s supposed to be around 45 degrees. So… awesome. Just… awesome. That means the water obstacles will be barely above freezing.
I’m cold and tired and hungry just thinking about it.
But hey, if I survive I get a free beer at the end!