Monday, April 25, 2011

The Girl Who Talks To Dinosaurs

“Tell them we’re busy,” Levine said, and bent over the carcass again.

But the men kept shouting, and suddenly there was a roaring sound, and Levine looked up to see flamethrowers igniting, big red jets of flame roaring out in the evening light. He ran around the carcass toward the men, shouting, “No! No!”

But the men paid no attention.

He shouted, “No, this is a priceless—”

The first of the uniformed men grabbed Levine, and threw him roughly to the sand.

“What the hell are you doing?” Levine yelled, scrambling to his feet. But even as he said it, he saw it was too late, the first of the flames had reached the carcass, blackening the skin, igniting the pockets of methane with a blue whump! The smoke from the carcass began to rise thickly into the sky.

“Stop it! Stop it!” Levine turned to Guitierrez. “Make them stop it!”

But Guitierrez was not moving, he was staring at the carcass. Consumed by flames, the torso crackled and the fat sputtered, and then as the skin burned away, the black, flat ribs of the skeleton were revealed, and then the whole torso turned, and suddenly the neck of the animal swung up, surrounded by flames, moving as the skin contracted. And inside the flames Levine saw a long pointed snout, and rows of sharp predatory teeth, and hollow eye sockets, the whole thing burning like some medieval dragon rising in flames up into the sky.

from “The Lost World”
by Michael Crichton

When professors and students dig into the Badlands
on their knees, bending their whole body into the task
of rescuing from the rock another precious bone,

do they ever ask—do they ever look past their hands
and wonder, maybe just for fun—do they ever ask,
What if there’s a reason the creatures are in the stone?

There’s a girl walking in a parking lot.
Is she nineteen or twenty? I don’t know.
She’s a girl, she’s a young woman, walking
on the black asphalt of a parking lot.

There’s a dinosaur in the parking lot.

It’s a deinonychus and it’s longer
than a crocodile but standing upright
on its hind legs makes its body angled
and its head is level with the girl’s head.
The dinosaur looks shaggy. Are those marks
strange pigmentation patterns on its skin?
Does the creature have feathers? I don’t know.
More dinosaurs, other deinonychus,
are scattered around the fringe of the lot.
They are vocalizing, growling, grunting,
kicking at each other, running about
in small, jerking patterns outside the lot.

There’s music coming from somewhere nearby.
A nearby house or apartment building.
It’s not coming from a car’s radio
because the cars are smashed, lumps of wreckage
scattered around the parking lot, scattered
around nearby yards and sidewalks and streets.

The music is electric, a guitar,
or a synthesizer playing a sound
that emulates a guitar’s harmonics.
The music’s electric, but uneven,
playing to a rhythm that won’t keep time,
a rhythm that slows down and then speeds up.
It’s music being performed, not replayed.

The girl says something to the dinosaur.

The girl speaks softly. The deinonychus
moves closer to hear what she is saying.
The girl gestures with her right hand, pointing
toward the music, toward where it’s coming from.
She says something else, something quiet but
her words are a whispered imperative.

The dinosaur steps back, raises it head.
It roars. The sound echoes off surrounding
buildings. The creature drowns out the music.
The other dinosaurs outside the lot
stop what they’re doing. They look toward the roar.
Some lower their head. Others raise their head
and roar along in brutal harmony.

The dinosaur with the girl in the lot
turns away and runs across the asphalt
and out of the parking lot. It runs toward
the music, where the music’s coming from.

Now that the dinosaurs have stopped roaring
the music again is loud in the air.

The other dinosaurs turn and run, too,
taking up the form of a staggered line,
running in a dynamic formation
like a line of birds flying in the sky.

The girl watches the dinosaurs run off.

She’s smiling. She’s enjoying the music.
She’s enjoying watching the dinosaurs
run so beautifully away from her,
toward the music, toward where it’s coming from.

I know the dinosaurs are coming back.

Now the creatures have someone to talk to.

And she has wrecking she needs them to do.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Parking Lots

The Time Of The Dinosaurs

The Beautiful Parking Lot Without Mercy

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