Gentle Giants Petting Zoo

I do not own Ian Malcolm, Sarah Harding, Kelly Malcolm or the Jurassic Park franchise. I am not involved in the creation or production of Jurassic World, and I do not own any part of the movie. I do own this story and all of its contents. All rights reserved to all authors and creators.

Please note: This story takes place a few years before the movie Jurassic World. It utilizes details about the movie that have been released to the public (this does not include the characters involved). Do not read this if you don’t want to hear any spoilers about the film.

In typical fashion, Sarah Harding finds the triceratops in front of them beautiful, and Ian Malcolm finds it disgusting. She calls it sweet, and he calls it an affront to nature—not the animal itself, necessarily, but the entire concept of its existence. But, just like the first time they saw dinosaurs together, everyone else is on Sarah’s side, everyone else being the swirling crowd of children gathered around the animal, doing exactly what she’s doing—petting it.

Look at this,” Sarah says, inspecting the curves of its bony frill. “It doesn’t change too much, probably the frog DNA, but the color’s shifted. See? Much greener than it was before. I wonder if that’s a fear reaction, like it’s trying to camouflage or something.”

“Gee, I wonder why it would have a fear reaction,” Ian says, glancing up from his phone to eye a blonde kid curiously poking the animal’s thick tail. Kelly hasn’t responded to his text yet—”Still meeting in the Bamboo Forest at 3? Please be careful”—and he really, really doesn’t want to have to go to the T-Rex Kingdom to find her.

“Honey, get off your phone,” Sarah calls. “Come pet her. She’s friendly.”

“Y’know, I’d rather not.”

She gets up and gently grabs his wrist. “This is a petting zoo,” she reminds him. “It’s been open for fifteen years, and no one’s been eaten. You couldn’t be safer if you were in a hamster ball.” Ignoring his protests, she pulls him over to the mottled gray triceratops and puts her hand on its back. “See? I’m okay.”

Reluctantly, Ian lightly puts his hand on the bumps of the dinosaur’s spinal column, and the triceratops looks up at him with eyes not unlike a dog’s and a gaze not unlike an old philosopher’s, softly snorts and puts its head back down. “This is still a disgrace,” he reminds his girlfriend as he starts to cautiously pet the leathery back. “This is still, ah, major exploitation being—”

“I know,” she cuts him off, knowing well how long that particular monologue could go on; she heard it in full the day the first Jurassic World commercial aired on their apartment’s TV. “But there’s nothing we can do about it, is there?”

“Nothing we can do,” he repeats, sighing. After a minute, during which a child recognizes Sarah as “the girl with the lions, from TV” and asks for her picture, he gives a quirky half-smile. “You know, when I first saw one of these things, a few minutes later, I saw someone digging around in its—”

“And now you think about that whenever you see a trike,” Sarah says, partly to cut off the following expletive. “You must have told me fifty times.”

“Yeah, but what I don’t say is that Alan said it was beautiful.” Ian rubs the back of the animal’s frill. “And I guess—I guess he was right about something, for once,” he says, laughing a little. Sarah glances at him, smiling, and then goes to ask a nearby attendant something, presumably about the triceratops’ behavior patterns. Ian pets the trike a little more, ignoring strange looks from the other adults and looking at the frill—some splotches of color have, indeed, gotten darker—when a little girl with huge eyes taps his shoulder and asks what time it is.

“Twelve-fifteen,” he says, glancing at his watch. As the little girl runs off, he stands up and calls, “It’s twelve-fifteen, Sarah. We should leave for the mosasaur show soon.”

She says goodbye to the attendant and tells him, “Okay, we’ll take our time walking and make it to the show in time for good seats. Sound good?”

“Sounds good,” he agrees. They exit the triceratops’ grassy pen and, holding hands, make their way out of the Gentle Giants Petting Zoo and into one of Jurassic World’s bustling streets. Kids run around toting huge stuffed dinosaurs, people wait in line for frozen lemonade and hot dogs, families run and stroll, and operators of midway games advertise their games and prizes. One of them calls out at Ian and Sarah as they pass, as if two people in their fifties would be interested in winning a stuffed neon gallimimus. They step to the side when Ian’s phone buzzes. On his screen is a short text:

“Yep. And pretty sure I’m okay on my own. – Your 27-yr-old daughter.”

“How is she?” Sarah asks.

Ian shakes his head a little; that sarcasm is definitely his DNA at work. “She’s fine. She won’t get eaten.”

“That’s the spirit.” Naturally, he was a little nervous about Kelly’s decision to visit the T-Rex Kingdom exhibit, but she’s an adult now, and he didn’t have much of a say in the matter. She’s been so curious about it that she might try to take the two of them, too. And he might not completely disagree. It was her idea to go here, after all. And isn’t this entire trip about facing fears? If Kelly can go and stare at what terrifies her, than maybe he can, too.

Sarah and Ian chat as they walk, making a copious amount of bad dinosaur jokes and laughing their heads off. Sarah’s cracking up over a corny remark about stegosaur plates when she looks up and says, “Uh-oh.”

“Why does this always happen?” Ian groans. They’re definitely not in the main area of the park anymore; the tourists and bright colors are gone, replaced by chain-link fence and chipping white paint. Behind a fence that’s unusually high and apparently high-voltage is a road. “Great. Service road. Now—now we’re backstage. How did we even get here?”

“What are you folks doing here?” A tall, muscular man in a green uniform steps in front of them, arms folded.

“We took a wrong turn,” Sarah says as they both start to back up.

“This is a restricted area,” the man says forcefully. He steps toward them, and as they walk backwards as fast as they can, Ian sees a white semi-truck, a huge wooden crate on the back, rush down the service road behind him. He has just enough time to read some of the red letters stamped on the side of the crate before Sarah pulls him, running, through a few white alleyways and back onto a tourist-lined street.

They take a minute to catch their breath, leaning against the wall of a nearby restaurant. “I’ve, ah, got an idea. Let’s look where we’re going for the rest of today, shall we?”

Sarah nods. “What was that truck all about? It looked like animal transport. You’ve seen what it’s like when we have to move the gorillas around at the zoo, right? Didn’t it look like that?”

He nods, furrowing his brow. “Yeah, it did. Probably animal transport, then. Did—did you see what was stamped on it? Bunch of numbers and letters…”

“What did it say?” Sarah asks.

He closes his eyes and exhales; there are times when a photographic memory can come in handy. “Five four two, D, B, L, S, R, X, two… nine, seven.”

“Two nine seven?”

“Pretty sure. Yeah, two nine seven.” Sarah puts a hand to her forehead. “What? Does that mean something?”

“It’s a code,” Sarah explains. “Like we use in the zoo, for identification. The code says the animal in there is a carnivore, and a large predator. One that requires lots of safety precautions. And its name was… what were those letters again?”

“D, B, L, S, R, X.”

“Well, this is a dinosaur park, so they’re transporting a dinosaur, right? R and X. Probably ‘rex’. Something rex…” She starts to pace. “D, B, L, S. It’s the genus name without vowels. What is that? ‘Doubles’?”

“‘Doubles rex’?” Ian leans against the wall. “That sounds like a dinosaur that teaches kids multiplication.”

“Yeah, that’s not it. Huh…” She looks up suddenly. “Diabolus! Diabolus rex. Does that sound like a dinosaur name? I can’t think of any other word that would fit.”

“Yeah, it kind of does.”

“Diabolus rex…”

“Is that a recently-discovered species? I’ve never heard of it before.”

“That’s because it doesn’t exist. There’s no such dinosaur species. I would know. Either the species doesn’t exist, or it’s really new.” Sarah thinks. “Rex— like Tyrannosaurus. Definitely an apex predator. And that crate was tall. And wide. Whatever Diabolus is, it must be big.”

An idea strikes Ian. “Sarah… remember—remember this morning, when we saw the Creation Lab? Remember how that tour guide said something about, ah, innovation, creating original entertainment, developing something bigger and better than we’ve ever seen?”

She nods. “Yeah. That was when we saw the research and development lab, right? He said something big was coming, or they were working on something big, or something.”

The color drains from his face as the pieces of the puzzle click together in his mind. He puts his hand on his forehead. “Oh, hell.”

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