Holy Mackerel, Too Many Raptors


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Also featuring:

and the cast of Jurassic Park

Scene Title Holy Mackerel, Too Many Raptors
Synopsis Being a hero is a job you do even if dying once almost stopped you, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Helpfully, Francois can do it in his sleep.
Date November 23, 2009

Ryazan, Russia — The Spektor Home

Or is it really? 8(a

Fog presses up against the windows, denser and more consuming, it seems, even than the worst of the blizzard's flurries. It's oppressive, eats the light itself out of the algid Russian air; the Spektor home's antique glass and genteel curtains barely seem capable of holding whole against the fracturing savagery of cold, never mind holding back the enemy that walks its taloned feet through the flurrying weather outside.

The front and back doors are barred with a bookcase full of encyclopedias and equally heavy, dusty fictional tomes, their gilt serifed titles sitting in serenity deceptively alike to their previous home in Ivan's library space. Teacups sit abandoned to cooling on the table and the fire respires in the hearth like a domesticated demon, limning huddled figures, a precious few genuine contemporary weapons, and the poker steadfastly gripped in Sam Neil's hand.

The children don't keen, but you can hear them breathing louder than the adults put together.

Francois had already warned them to stay back from the windows, though, and this wisdom is tenuously clung to as they herd further into the house. "We should make a break for it," Dr. Malcolm decides, finally assenting to remove his sunglasses from his face: due homage to the gravitas of the situation. A beat's pause, and his gaze squares firmly on Francois. "You're the soldier. Maybe you should go first."

The modèle 1935 pistol in his hand is both satisfyingly heavy as well as too small to feel as though its spitting bullets would have any use against reptilian hide. Still, it's better than nothing, and calls for authority that Francois is close to regretting as Dr. Malcolm levels that burden towards him. Robert Muldoon is lost somewhere outside, and no doubt he would be here if he was not dead.

"«I will go»," Francois responds in French they all understand, without particular affectation of sarcasm, doubt, anger. "«If I can provide an adequate enough distraction, you can see the children to safety in that amount of time, yes»?"

Out in the falling snow, there's a sudden birdish bark that cracks through the silence, muffled by brick and glass - three times, a call of some kind. There's the sound of breathing being drawn in in a gasp - the girl, older to her brother, crowds closer to Alan Grant. "«Come»," Francois says, restarting fervent talk once it has stalled out from the demonic cry outside, before he's moving for where they'd barricaded the door, intent to shoulder the furniture aside through the portal they'd deemed the least dangerous.

Dr. Malcolm's proposition gleans a frown of certain distaste from Dr. Sattler, and it is difficult to tell whether or not Jeff Goldblum is being Dr. Malcolm or Jeff Goldblum based off the quizzical big-armed shrug and eyebrow he directs at her. 'What? Are you a soldier? No? I didn't think so.' They haven't any of them mentioned Muldoon in the past fifteen minutes, except for Tim, who asked once then knew better to repeat the query. The gamekeeper hasn't come back.

"I think we can get into the van, yes," Sattler speaks up, her boots tocking up behind him with resounding certainty that she can't possibly feel, under the circumstances. Her ponytail is clinging to the back of her neck and plastered across her forehead like the residue of a haystack rolled in from the rain. She shows car keys in the splay of one hand. "We'll throw open the trunk door for you to dive in. Lucky for us," lucky for us— "the vehicle takes a lot of passengers. Do you think you—?"

Are ready? This is really going to work? It's impossible to tell what inherently pointless but reassuring question she is hedging on, the pink of her mouth tautening pale as she steps aside.

She makes way for Sam Neill, also known as Dr. Grant, and the gift he comes forward to offer Francois; free hand: a long shaft of firewood held by the end opposite the on that burns with stubborn incandescent heat. "They're highly intelligent creatures," he says, "but you may be able to take advantage of some hard-coded instincts, like pyrophobia. Whenever you're ready."

There's doubt in ocean-green eyes for Dr. Grant's suggestion, if only thanks to the blizzard outside guaranteeing very little fire in general. Of course, that's assuming Francois even makes it outside. They had determined that one of the portals leading into the storm had already been levered open. The raptors had long since learned to open doors. He nods once, and takes the iron implement with a careful trade of steely grasps, fire burning and sputtering orange light, turning all eyes amber.

They're waiting for him to move, and Francois knows only giddy anticipation, himself. Ellie Sattler's hair is golden and her legs are long, and despite Russia, she still wears shorts, in— maybe not exactly the same way Ian Malcolm dresses in black, and Sam Neill peers out from under his wide-brimmed hat.

"«I am ready»," he tells Ellie. "«Once you are clear of the house, I will be right behind you.»"

The door is shouldered open, dressed all in civilian clothes save for the tattered, dirty camouflage jacket, universally identifiable as military if outdated some seventy odd years. It didn't belong to him, as didn't the pistol in his hand. There weren't many handouts, for the French Resistance. Francois hits the darkness of the hallway running, as if leading some kind of charge. The home is all quaint angles, in reality, but here they dip in and out of a field of depth.

He crashes into the dining room around the time he can hear adult footsteps muffling smaller ones as the group make their escape. There's a swipe of a long tail, snakelike, crashing into shelving when the raptor turns with too much dexterity for its size. A dining table goes end over end, but it's not quite as loud as the sound of the pistol going off.

The clash of noise snap the predators' collective attention to. The nearest creature looks up, muzzle already smeared from the oily residue left after he'd embedded it for the past few chompy minutes in the pantry store full of cured meats. The mushrooms that were not used in the other night's dish are rolling around scattered like loose bolts around its razor-hooked toes, and one shoots straight across the floor at an accidental intersection with the kick of the raptor's foot as it begins— to—


—over. Startling only a fractioned instant when the discharge of the pistol zits a tiny hole in the hide of its cohort, nostils flaring, its teeth baring, an energetic shriek keening out as its sweeps its head low, agile as you like under the doorframe, shoving leather-shouldered past its injured brother and its whinging screech of complaint. The hallway is wide enough for two people (or two-point five, if you count the skinny boy dashing with eyes popped from terror abreast of the man gripping his arm) but only one raptor may be admitted at a time.

This one whaps endtables over, bears along upon Francois with lurid hunger, its mind already calculating the course his meal is making toward the door and its legs impossibly long, impossibly strong and swift, each step hacking in the floorboards under the brunt of Mother Nature's deadliest pedicure. It makes a leap.

If Francois were to wake up and Google about raptors, he'd be disappointed to find out that these majestic reptile warriors are only about half the size, in reality. They have feathers, too, and scavenge from kills made by nobler beasts. Thankfully, technology isn't worth it. It leaps, with squat pointed teeth in its delicate row that goes forever, right along its snake-grin towards a flashing golden eye with its split iris. It makes a sound, a bird call. In less than a second, he'll be eviscerated.
The flaming log arcs around with more strength than he'd fathom having. Burning end hits the blunt end of the raptor's nose, sparking up and hissing like a nudged campfire, flaring as the creature screams and twists away, its head low and eyes glinting in paranoia for the still flickering flames.

He pitches it at the creature, and doesn't stay to watch in satisfaction when it draws even further back, towards the kitchen, which isn't where the doctors and the children are. Gun in hand, Francois runs, free hand coming out to brace against the dining table — suddenly upright — and allowing him to skid over the top, knee catching enough to roll, landing on his feet without threat of falling as he continues to run. He can't remember how many Muldoon had said there were— three? four?— only that they should have shot them before.

Out of the other wing of the Spektors' stately home, the others make their exeunt, their shoes drubbing a tribal rhythm of stately panic, snow flying particle by particle in through long hair and against khaki-bared lady sticks, faces moving grim through the darkness, the trees in their sonorous wind-whipped sway, the van lurching up to meet them from the darkness.

There's a flash-burn of realization: that their protector is gone, and Dr. Sattler turns to look over her shoulder, mid-stride, even as the dinosaur reels from the scorching on its muzzle, canines roostertailing a stray drop of saliva, taloned fingers snarled in the air. Francois recovers his feet like a cat, his beaten jack boots rolling their soles flat to the ground in an excruciating detail of rubber treads.

Teo starts to get worried for a moment there, how slowly the dream is weaving. Not trusting the accuracy of his use of the ghost's ability, he is needled by the concern that Francois asleep has been ambushed by sudden neurological illness. He cranes his shaven head to get a better look at the Frenchman. Frowns, sidles a step to the left, tries to peer around the muscular rotation of the raptor's flank. This is to say, he does not recognize the warning signs: that suddenly he has a head that he has to crane, perception limited to a single point of perspective, his easy, omniscient spectatorship shredding like a plastic sky and dropping him squarely into the stage of participation.

So Teo doesn't see it coming at all, when the world picks up its pace abruptly, succinctly, and the raptor's tail belts him into the wall like a squash ball. He bounces off expensive paper, dents wall, takes a painting rattling down to the floor with him.

On the bright side, if it is that, the raptor didn't see that coming either. Its tail whips back, coils its point toward the ceiling in almost delicate distaste; already pitched back from the burn that Francois had raked into its fucking face, it turns to train liquid amber eyes on the astonished Sicilian on the floor. The fire in Francois' hand hisses bellicose encouragement.

Francois' break for the front door is stalled when he knows something has gone wrong, like he knows Muldoon is dead. Whipping around, gun in one hand and fire in the other, his eyes are almost as wide as Teo's as he confronts the dinosaur hissing and baring teeth towards the downed younger man, scaled tail stiff like a log in bridled, coiling tension. What Sicily is doing down here, Francois doesn't know, and immediately wonders— where is Abigail, and also Cat and Elisabeth, and Holden, and the Russian—

The dream doesn't break apart, but both can feel it, that it almost does when lucidity nearly slams Francois out of this place as neatly as the raptor's tail had put Teo into the wall. Teeters.

Instead, gunshots ring out, one, two, three. A bullet buries into the raptor's lithe, muscled neck, its eyes rolling when she twists with injury. The second buries in her flank, and the third directly into her head, making it whip around with a cut off ungodly screech before the beast is lying prone on the floor with a meaty thud.

"Teo!" The former Resistance soldier's eyes are bright with the flames he's still wielding, dancing orange light through the dark Skeptor home. "«We must go, now!»"

'Dude hollering him in French while he's already down' is not a theme Teo thought would propagate itself through his lifetime and he didn't particularly want it to. Disappointing, much? He reaches up to find handhold, finds his digits closing on the vine carving of the painting's frame. Good enough. He pushes himself onto his feet, feels fragmented glass pieces topple off his pants as he rearranges his legs into some semblence of standing up.

He finds himself stilting hastily across the floor toward the Frenchman, hurdling an unsteady step over the dinosaur's prone tail and circling around the legs splayed bys dying kicks. He unholsters the Glock under his arm and proffers it, handle-first, trying not to stare at the unmistakable deadly contouring of its head. Its mouth is tipped open, mandibles gleaming in slick enamel relief against the orange-rind dullness of the wooden floor. It may be to the benefit of the fantasy, that Teodoro Laudani has never bothered Googling raptors. The carcass not sprout feathers.

Nor do the living specimens that shoves their heads out of the doorway in sinewy syncopation, like a hydra, except drawn to the scent of blood and noise of chaos— like a shark. Primitive senses draw their eyes to the glare of fire in Francois' hand, even as they recoil slightly, whickering gutturally then fluting a shriek at the recognizable reek of burnt skin.

"Zut alors, trop des prédateurs!" Teo jumps, skids half-turned, his eyes big in his head: he finds himself simultaneously abruptly surprised and unsure of why he is, that there were more of them. Three, altogether. Maybe four, depending on what Francois' amygdala decides it's doing. He backs into Francois. Curtains judder from the swooping soundwaves of a horn blast outside, a scintillation of headlights in the window across the room.

Dr. Sattler rounds on Jeff Goldblum, her fingers taloned bloodless on the steering wheel. "We drive when we see running raptor, and not a moment sooner." The expectant glance she pins to Sam Neill settles his wide mouth into a sigh of agreement, his arm tightening around Lex's quaking shoulders.

Francois' boots scrabble against floor at the sudden explosion of hissing raptor heads— four! Three? Three. The fourth one, with its burned face, is lying dead, and if he recalls correctly, at least one of the trio is already bleeding. "Foutre le camp!" is hissed right back at the beasts, teeth biting around vulgar French, and his attention steers whip-quick towards the sound of the car. "Merde."

How many bullets does he have in his gun? He doesn't remember, but knows there's only eight to begin with, and three hard headed monsters. One is fired off, arm extending passed Teo's shoulder and the crack of the pistol going off loud close by the Sicilian's head, before the gun is swinging around again and—

The two bullets go blessedly into the snowy forest greenery beyond, perhaps, or maybe they disappear into nothing upon achieving their job of shattering the window. Hands occupied, he can only hook his gun-wielding arm around Teo's, dragging both of them back towards the window when snow blows in briskly. The heat of the burning log sears the air as Francois holds it out as if it were a shield.

"«Quickly, go.»"

Harrison Ford was never Teo's type, but this has a certain appeal to it: as does jumping out of the window to escape the sawtoothed fury of ravenous dinosaurs. Snap-snap; jaws close meatily in empty air behind him, even as the Sicilian's tangle of limbs is dragged past CERTAIN DEATH and thrust into the window. His boot scrapes the remains of the broken glass off the red meranti window frames like he's caving weakened teeth in, and then an awkward crippled-kangaroo hop-skip as he fumbles his way out of it.

Not to say that Teo doesn't, at times, exhibit utmost grace and athleticism in real life, but he's caught up between recalibrating and a certain awareness that he isn't the main character in this dream. It was one of the things they started teaching dream manipulators as of the Evolved Education Charter in 2016, following the model of Freudian catharsis. It makes him a good guy.

Falling into snow. Teo twists in time to save himself from literally rolling into the drift snugged up outside the door. The fog has been beaten back, now, perhaps by the heat of battle. It hangs gauzily translucent over the Spektor residence and the van parked ten yards off, unlit, the bodies inside sitting tense and staring.

Both of these circumstances change very quickly and suddenly when the first raptor finally jarrs its way past its companion and in through the door, the lithe aerodynamism of its silhouette leading the charge snout-first toward the soldier's so quick the adults don't even have time to blink, never mind hide the eyes of their younge counterparts. Silhouette and silhouette clash behind the embroidered curtains and Lex stifles a scream.

The high-beams lance the snow, and the engine guns.

Holy mother, Teo is the worst dream manipulator ever. "Francois!" he hollers, reaches to jerk curtains aside with a gloved hand. "Francois, they're leaving— are you okay?"

There isn't really a direct translation for 'clever' in French, but the word for girl is fille. An unfortunately pragmatic streak in Francois' imagination is stubborn to the concept of wrestling a raptor and walking away alive, at least for the first few seconds in which the scaly beast lunges at him, all claws and teeth. Three hundred pounds, probably, of pure muscle, and Francois goes down as claws bear down on him.

The fire spills sparks, forcing the Frenchman to cringe away even as the log is thrust up into gaping jaws which snap closed over ruined wood, sending flaming splinters and ash every which way. The creature gives a high pitched keen, paws up to claw at its mouth and face and shaking its head like a dog that got stung. It's enough to having Francois driving a knee up to propel it away, raptor hissing and scrabbling its claws against the wooden floor as if it were on ice. Teo is yelling at him, and Francois is getting to his feet.

"«Wait— »"

Not that those in the van could possibly hear him, but being left behind with a house full of giant man eating lizards is definitely CERTAIN DEATH. When the third one leaps, the '35 pistol is dropped in favour of Francois gripping onto the tall shelves lined with porcelain, books, tokens. Katarina will be so mad, but maybe she'll understand when the shelves come crashing down on top of the beast.

A moment later, Francois' boot finds purchase on the angle of wood while the raptor squirms madly beneath it, to get its footing and lever it up with an effortless toss of its head, but not before he can pin down one loping step onto the wooden back and dive for the window.

The Sicilian had twisted the curtain far enough out of the way that it merely snags on Francois' shoulder as he comes careening through, ripped off its rings and flaring in the gust of his passage like a half-cloak. The Sicilian feels the stiff canvas of the other man's uniform collar whisper inches by his ear even as he ducks himself down, moves himself out of the flying Frenchman's path. Francois goes down, tumbles out in a somersault of snow and spinning boots.

Teo pops back up, meerkat-like in his wake, just in time to see a leathery ox-sized shoulder bump up underneath the bookcase and hear the liquid blast of the raptor's snarl. He doesn't wait around any longer to appreciate the spectacle. Twists on his boots, kicking through sugar powdered snowdrift on his way over to Francois.

He yanks at the other European's shoulder, exclaiming unintelligible encouragements. He begins to vault a sprinting retreat in the wake of the van. Its trunk doors are burst agape and jounce metallically on their hinges, tantalizing them from up ahead. There are grasping hands within.

"Hurry up!" Lex's voice zithers thin and high with terror.

Even Jeff Goldblum seems to have momentarily left behind his saturnine and ironic observer's perspective, his gestures frantic, as if he were pulling them along with an invisible rope. "Get in, get in, get in—"

This would probably be going a little easier if they would actually stop, but this seems understandably ill-advised to those therein. After all, Francois and Teo are up and running, but so it seems are the raptors, one of them balanced parrot-like dexterity between the book case squashing its cohort and the other long-toed foot clung to the window-frame, gradually working its long body through and into the night air. Its cohort is moving swiftly for the door, ticking drops of blood on the hardwood floors as it goes.

Truck > raptors > two Europeans, in terms of speed, which is incredibly unfortunate for Teo and Francois as they bolt for the departing vehicle, snow not making it any easier as soles slide slick through ice and dirt. The forests out here are denser than the reality, because it's the Russia Francois knows better, the impossible expanses of trees and greenery that turn pitch black in the night, allow for thoughts of of folk tales and monsters.

The monsters here are in plain sight, anyway, one slithering through the window and another busting hinges as it bursts with a muscled scaly shouldering shove out into the snow.

There's theories about how the imagination is merely an assortment of memory and experience, jumbled together to create the pretence of something new. Certainly, they've both seen this movie before, but Francois has been here too, the panicky run for a vehicle on its departure with comrades inside urging him and others on and on, get in get in get in—

In reality, he never made it. In fiction—

One last burst of speed has Francois leaping forward, hands out to grasp as one of the doctors grips a fistful of his jacket and hauls him inside. There's no real time to sprawl with heart thudding relief on the bouncing, jostling floor before Francois whipping around, reaching out a hand to drag Teo in in kind, his hand rough with ash from spilling fire.

Then Teo is aboard, too. Safely ensconced in this optimistic fiction-world, jailbait's arms wrapped around his neck and his left leg flailing haphazardly two or three times in the whistling air of the van's wake, almost a mocking salute for the raptors. The injured one slows first, stops, slithers heavy in the white particulate left by some blizzard or other. Clamps its toes down and pushes its neck out, opening its jaws so wide they can see all the way down the fleshy red of its throat when it screeches in vicious defiance, red dripping down its lead-punctured torso.

The other is not quite as quick to give up. Keeps pursuit for another hundred yards, steam blowing columns from its maw, tail snaking left, right, left, right in heavy ligamented syncopation to its driving steps. One adrenalized burst of speed almost closes the gap between the van's shouting inhabitants and its dagger-rimmed face but it slips. A bend in the road gets it. Under its feet, frosted asphalt gives way to desiccated roadside grass and densely wadded snow. Dinosaur slides gracelessly into tree.

Ivan Spektor's beautifully maintained family ride lurches on its springs and keens toward Ryazan's lights. It's left quiet in the back of the van. Dr. Grant is asking if everybody is okay, whether anybody is injured, reminds them that l'Armée de Terre holds its lines not a mile south of here. Dr. Sattler scans her rearview for signs of velociraptor, at first, before shifting pale eyes to find Francois' in the darkness.

Teo's breath is exaggeratedly loud in his ears, despite his efforts to follow the conversation. After a moment, he gives up, merely pulls his toes in so that Malcolm can haul the doors shut.

Francois slumps still, regaining composure, heart thudding hard enough that he's almost convinced the steady sound of it fills the cabin of the truck that bumps and jumps down the snowy road with as much speed as Sattler is willing to negotiate at this hour, in this weather. No more ungodly bird-monster cries. Ian Malcolm has his glasses clasped in hand, rubbing his eyesockets with grinding fingers before he shakes his head briskly, and pulls the shades back onto his face. One of the children laugh, giddy that they got away with it, and Sam Neill is finally satisfied enough that everyone is uninjured, climbing up towards the front seat of the van to sit and whisper with Ellie.

He catches that fleeting glance in the mirror, and holds it for as long as he likes before swiveling a look back towards Teo. Sitting up, Francois shakes his BDU jacket down of ash and melting snow, sharing a bright, vivid smile. He speaks French over the sound of his own still racing heart. "«We will not always be so lucky. Are you hurt, Sicily?»"

Goldblum isn't in the van anymore, and Tim and Lex have also vanished. The shapes of Alan and Ellie remain in the front seats of the truck, although they seem great, vast distances away. It's the unraveling of a dream, spaces coming apart without real concept of geography, filling with darkness in between.

"Ah non," Teo shakes his head. His shoulders had buckled up against the wall of the van's cramped space before, but now the curl of his spine looks nothing more or less than fetal, floated in a darkness that becomes less and less substantial as the vehicle's physical being becomes less and less relevant. Victory is claimed. The skin-of-one's-teeth sort, that films adore and youths admire and so, apparently, do filmophile old men. He struggles to sit up, gets his rump underneath him and pulls his back out of its cowering configuration to some improved sense of dignity. At least here, there's no pain. Sometimes, in some dreams, pain is the most detailed and convincing mechanic of the artificial reality. Something Teodoro manages to remember, in an objective and distantly factual way even with the fictitious muscle caged in his own chest crashing panicky. "«You saved me.

"«How can I repay you?»" cries out the damsel clinging wetly to her hero's leg, though Teo only has half the role down right. He squints up at Francois despite that there's no glare steeping the Frenchman's face into silhouette and the darkness itself is representational at best. Scrapes callused forefinger along thumb, realizing or merely reminding himself that his Glock's gone, no longer necessary, as danger fades with distance and safety comes in the lassitude of sleep.

"«No payment,»" is a predictable answer from the hero of this piece, spoken glowingly, no longer jostled by a truck that no longer drives, because there isn't a truck anymore. His own '35 pistol was lost somewhere back in the house, but remains now in his hand, all black metal and cold from his roll through the snow. Francois stows it away inside his jacket, collar pulling back only to allow for the brief minute flash of the twin black marks that even in dreaming he still keeps to his form, a part of him, mysterious now as they were before even if he knows now what they mean.

Just another tattoo, really, he has at least one more. "«Except, perhaps, that you do the same for me sometime. Yes?»" You know, the next time the electricity goes down and the killer lizards are loosed from their cage. In the end of the movie, there was a Tyrannosaurus Rex at the end, but there's no time for that as Francois is pulled into a shallower sleep. In the cold of the Spektor household, within the shared room, the Frenchman turns over when he mutters these words too quiet for vowels to be heard between sharper consonants.

Oui. The answer doesn't have to go heard by Francois for Francois to know what is said, the predictable answer and as true here as it is in the world where it holds water. Teo blinks awake with the image of two dashes inversed, in negative, superimposed behind his eyelids.

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