This week’s Chuck Wendig flash fiction challenge is to take two different pop-culture story worlds and mash them together to write a new story. It’s not necessarily a fan-fiction challenge, but that’s sort of how mine turned out. I got World War Z and Jurassic Park. There’s really only one place that combo could go. I hope you like it.
World War V
excerpts from an oral account of the ongoing Velociraptor War
[Trevor Holman grew up in the Southwest, the only child of itinerant parents who did nothing but drink and gamble. He found stability after striking out on his own and worked for many years as a hand on a cattle ranch in Pima County, Arizona. He thought he had seen everything that the world could dish out. Then one day, he realized that the world could still surprise him.]
Cattle were dying, more every day. We thought it was coyotes at first, but the more I looked at it, I realized it couldn’t be. The killings were too…too organized. I guess that’s the word I‘m looking for. It was like they were planned out. Like someone knew what they were doing. Coyotes don’t work that way. They hunt, but they don’t hunt, you know what I’m saying? Humans hunt.
So you thought it was people killing the cattle?
It didn’t seem like people had done it either. It just felt wrong. I didn’t know what else to think, though.
You didn’t know about what had been happening in Mexico and Central America?
We were isolated, man. This was before cell phones and the Internet got real big. When we were out in the grass we didn’t know anything that was going on in the world. All we had was a payphone back at the ranch. Most of us went weeks at a time without talking to anyone or watching TV or anything.
[The Federal Bureau of Investigation began receiving requests for aid from citizens in the Southwest. Special Agent Gwen Siebert was a member of the first team to respond. She is now Assistant Director of the Atlanta office.]
The first call we got came from the Fort Apache reservation. We were stationed in Phoenix, so they sent us up to investigate. There were a couple of field agents and some forensics support. We had forensics with us because a couple of people had been killed on the reservation. One of the FBI’s functions is to enforce the law on federal land, so we get called in on reservations all the time.
What we found was pretty grim. We had two bodies covered with slash marks and their throats torn out. From the accounts of those who found the bodies, it appeared that at least one of them had been attacked from behind. The locals thought it might have been wolves, but we weren’t so sure. Actually, hold on a second…
[Director Siebert picked up her phone and placed a call to Dr. Marcus Davidson. Dr. Davidson was one of the forensic specialists who accompanied her team to the reservation. After she explained to him who I was and what I was doing, Dr. Davidson agreed to talk to me as well. The interview continued, with Dr. Davidson on speakerphone.]
[Siebert] I was saying that the locals seemed to think it was wolves but…
[Davidson] I wasn’t buying it. I had seen the results of a wolf attack, and this didn’t match up. There had to be something else at work. I was pretty sure it wasn’t a human killer, because the markings were the wrong shape and size for a human mouth and teeth. I examined the bodies closer and looked at the slash marks. They were made by claws, but again, they didn’t look like marks that a wolf would have made.
[Davidson continues] It wasn’t until we were back in Phoenix that I made the connection. There had been mysterious attacks all through Mexico and Central America, mostly cattle and other livestock. Humans had been left alone for the most part, but had been killed on occasion. These seemed to fit the pattern. Whatever it was, it was moving north.
EAST ST. LOUIS, IL
[United States Army Lt. Colonel Stephen Bridges is a household name in the early 21st century. His exploits on the front lines over the last few years are well known and need no repeating. Not as much is known about the early days of the war, when Lt. Col. Bridges was a second lieutenant freshly minted from West Point and Arizona was still a peaceful place known for grasslands and the Grand Canyon.]
I’ll never forget the first time I saw a raptor. Cattle had been dying all over Arizona, and people were starting to be attacked as well. There was never any sign of the attackers. It happened at night, and there was no sound, no indication of anything in the area. The sun would rise, and another six head of cattle would be dead, throats torn out, flanks scratched all to hell.
The ranchers were going ballistic, and the local police couldn’t seem to do anything about it. Not their fault, but we didn’t know that at the time. We just thought they were piss-poor excuses for law enforcement, and that they had probably served in the Marine Corps before joining the force. [chuckles]
So what finally changed your mind?
Well, they brought in the FBI. They couldn’t figure anything out, either, so a bunch of us who were training at Fort Irwin volunteered to make patrols through the area to see if we could at least help protect the ranchers and their property. The brass thought it would be a good training opportunity. It was, I guess, so off we went. We had no idea what we were in for.
We were in western Arizona when we were ambushed for the first time. We were making our way across the desert in a pair of Humvees. We came across a couple of freshly killed animals. We stopped to investigate. When we got out of our vehicles, they attacked us.
What was it like, that first time?
Just like it’s been every other time since then. It was the most frightened I have ever been in my life. They were so fast. I had only stepped out of the cab when one was on me. I didn’t even get a close look at it. All I could do was raise my arm up to protect my face, and I barely managed that. That’s when I got this. [He folds up his sleeve and shows me a scar running down his forearm from elbow to wrist.]
They didn’t take the time to kill us that time, they just overran us and knocked us down, then were gone. We got back into the Humvees and got the hell down the road before they could come back. We had cameras running and when we looked back at the footage, we saw what they looked like. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing.
We were the first to get pictures of them. Not that it’s done us much good.
[Dr. Debra Tyson is one of the world’s foremost geneticists. Over the last few years she has become an expert on velociraptor physiology and psychology. Working with survivors of the Isla Nublar disaster, she has been able to build profile after profile of raptor behavior. None of the profiles last for very long, however, as the raptors seem to change their pattern of behavior at regular intervals.]
We had no idea what was happening at Isla Nublar. We knew InGen was performing experiments of some sort, but nobody knew exactly what they were up to. The Hammond Foundation kept everything quiet. They wanted a big surprise when the park opened. I guess they got one.
When did you first know for sure what was happening?
After what we now call the Incident, everyone from InGen dropped off the face of the planet. We didn’t see or hear from anyone from that group for years. I still don’t know what happened to them. I had a couple of old colleagues and a student who had been feeding me rumors and tantalizing me with bits and pieces of information for months who were suddenly just…gone.
There were rumors about cloning dinosaurs, but who’s going to believe that? Even when the killings started in Central America nobody made the connection. It wasn’t until I saw the Humvee pictures from the Bridges Expedition that I even remotely considered that dinosaurs might be involved. And even then, really? Dinosaurs? In Arizona?
Once the pictures came out, the InGen people started trickling back into existence. John Hammond had his big press conference, gave his famous “Mea culpa” speech, and everything that InGen knew and had done and had learned made its way into the scientific mainstream. I couldn’t believe it. The scope of their achievement was staggering. I still wish it could have happened the way they had wanted it to.
They knew there had been raptors loose in Costa Rica?
They say they didn’t. They had suspected, I think, but there was no proof until the Bridges pictures showed up.
And here we are, fifteen years later.
That’s right. It took the raptors almost seven years to get from Costa Rica to Arizona. They took their time. They built a population. An army. And they planned.
You really believe that, don’t you?
Of course I do. Anyone who doesn’t is a fool. Velociraptor is the most intelligent animal on this planet aside from us, and I think they have us beat on some scorecards. They stalk, they surround. They hunt.
Someone else put it to me that way. They hunt.
It’s the truth. It’s not like other hunting animals—wolves, lions, cheetahs. Raptors have the intelligence to learn from their mistakes and to change their behavior because of it. It’s why I can’t pin down a solid profile. Every time I do, they change it. There’s a reason this war has lasted fifteen years. There’s a reason we are losing.
EAST ST. LOUIS, IL
[After talking to Dr. Tyson, I called Lt. Col. Bridges back to ask him some follow-up questions. I told him what Dr. Tyson said. He agreed with her on every point.]
Do you really think we’re losing?
Ask the people of St. Louis if they think we’re winning. Ten thousand velociraptors just crossed the Mississippi River. Ask the people of Chicago, Louisville, or Memphis if they want to be next.
Can you stop them?
I honestly don’t know. They don’t fight like we do. We smash their eggs when we can find them, but they have learned to take them along as they move. They fight at night, they fight in close quarters in the cities. They are guerilla fighters who have learned to use our architecture and our reliance on technology against us. We’ve forgotten how to fight their way.
It took the raptors seven years to get from Costa Rica to Arizona, but fifteen to get from Arizona to St. Louis. They slowed down.
That doesn’t mean anything. They overran Arizona in less than a year, then they went to ground. Do you remember when they came out of the Grand Canyon? I do. I was there. I’ll never forget it. We had been patrolling the rims for years. Next thing we knew there were thousands of them coming over the edge right at us, and we scattered. We couldn’t do a thing to stop it. Not a damn thing.
[We sit in silence for several minutes.]
What’s it going to take to beat them?
The only thing we haven’t tried yet is nukes. We’ve tried guns, missiles, biologicals, anything else we could think of, and it just hasn’t worked. All we have left is nukes, and I’m not convinced that’ll work, either.
You think we’d use nuclear weapons in our own territory?
If we don’t, it’s probably not long until Russia or China or someone else will. It’s been fifteen years. That’s too long. The raptors got off the island by figuring out what a boat was. God help the rest of the world if they figure out planes. It’ll make Planet of the Apes look like My Little Pony.