Extended Memory: SimAnt
Stark Reviews: Grim Prairie Tales (1990)

Fiction: "The Time-Traveling Mystery-Solving Teens in... Murder on Dinosaur Island!" by Benjamin Blattberg

Dinosaur Island

“Oh my fucking god,” said Jerome, “the dinosaurs are going to kill us all!”

“How did they get out of their pens and find us in the control room?” said Kelly. Even with all her weight, the door she leaned against bucked just like the Medusoid Bull they’d buffaloed on Rigel back in Episode 13: “The Time-Traveling Mystery-Solving Teens in… A Bullish Meat Market!”

“Maybe they’re genetically-altered to be smarter than fucking dinosaurs!” said Randolph, as he tapped away at his watch-computer. If he could only discover what was blocking their time-tunnel from instantiating a time-gate at this time-location! He typed furiously on the tiny keyboard of his watch-computer, which seemed like a nifty interface when he invented it in the Time-Traveling Mystery-Solving Teens’ Clubhouse and Dinner Theater. But - remembering his mother who died in a time-crash intersecting 1907, 2008, and 3071 - he began to tap in his time-equation melancholically.

“I will avenge you, mother,” Randolph hissed under his breath, only loud enough for the readers to hear.

“I’m sorry, ‘Randolph,’” said the computer, “I can’t do that - and you know why!”

With that, the computer winked out of hyper-spatial existence, the slight vacuum pop of its quantum dis-entanglement leaving behind the lingering smell of cinnamon.

Centaur Bob whisked his tail as he sharpened Aeron chairs into Greek throwing stars. There’s not any such thing as Greek throwing stars. In fact, Centaur Bob wasn’t really a Greek centaur at all. Funny story actually: The horse part of him was from Kentucky and the Bob part of him was largely of Pacific Island descent and had only recently found his vocation as a jockey after moving from Hawaii. But after they were fused together in 2008 as a half-man-half-horse-half-Jewish-on-his-father’s-side, Centaur Bob kept adding the word “Greek” before everything he did or came into contact with.

Including throwing stars that he was making from top-end office chairs. The Aeron chairs ($689 each) were the only thing he had found in this control room that could possibly be turned into a weapon. With those - and the chain gun that had been installed after he lost his front right leg in the great Derby Explosion of ’012, when anti-Centaur protestors bombed the race with nanite-stuffed hats programmed to self-replicate - he hoped to give those dinosaurs a… wait for it… run for their money. Get it? Because he used to be in the business of actually running for money? I’m so tired of Centaur Bob and his elaborate backstory, I’m going to have one of those sandworms eat him as soon as everyone else is safe.

But can you ever be safe on Dinosaur Island? Note to self: possible tagline.

“Randolph!” said Jerome coolly, ignoring the punctuation, “why did the computer just bug the fuck out on you? Is there something you want to share with the rest of us about your backstory?”

Randolph gritted his teeth at the implicit accusation. “What about you, fuckface? Where are the fairies that you said were going to help us? You said they’d show up before sundown and it’s almost fucking sundown out there. Are you secretly working with the dinosaur cartel?”

“You fucking Kraut!” said Jerome, launching himself at Randolph, leaving Kelly to hold the door against the dinosaurs on her own. I guess he was helping her up to that point and I just forgot to mention it before.

Jerome took a swing at Randolph, which was very exciting. Maybe one of them hit the other and they ended up on the floor, rolling around in the pieces of Aeron chair that Centaur Bob wasn’t using. Punch! Counter-punch! Jerome grabbed a hank of Randolph’s hair. Randolph yelled out in German.

“Boys,” said Kelly, shaking her head. “Boys,” remonstrated Kelly. “Boys,” verbed Kelly.

“What?” asked Jerome, his hands buried deep in Randolph’s hair and in Randolph’s pants.

“This is no fucking time for you to fight!” said Kelly--

(“Yes, fighting, right,” said Randolph, as he zipped his pants up and tried not to imagine Jerome’s hands, his chest heaving, his swarthy skin lit up like an ocean at sunset with the light glistening off his sweat, their sweat, slicking his own lips with the salt tang of their languorous exertions, the pang -)

- “Because I’ve found those fairies,” said Kelly, as she looked through the little window in the door, even though I’m not going to tell you what she sees yet, as a method of building suspense.

Jerome and Randolph rushed to the door, bonking their heads in well-timed physical comedy as they tried to look out the little window. They shoved each other playfully to get a view.

“Fuck, you two have to stop fighting over me,” said Kelly, who had forgotten for a moment that she and Jerome were actually Time-Traveling Mystery-Solving Twins. Oh boy, yet another romantic triangle plus incest subplot. To avoid this, I’ve just given Jerome an incurable time disease called Merlinism, where he continually gets younger and younger. Wait, won’t that just add a pedophile aspect to this triangular, incestuous love affair? Goddamnit, Jerome.

“So where are those fucking fairies?” asked Randolph, trying to peer around Kelly’s golden hair, which is the only description I’ll give her, unless she looks into a mirror later and thinks about her breasts.

“Oh fuck me with a metal spatula,” said Jerome, “the fairies are riding the dinosaurs! Something has gone terribly wrong with my plan!”

Something had gone terribly wrong with his plan. Earlier, Jerome tried to lure the dinosaurs into a fairy ring so that the fairies would be insulted and destroy the dinosaurs. But apparently, off-scene, the fairies and dinosaurs had made common cause against the human interlopers. You ever use “interloper” in casual conversation with people? They look at you strangely, as if you’re clad in the fine-wrought raiment of exalted weirdness.

I won’t describe the dinosaurs with fairies riding them. For a visual of what this would look like, look up Dino-Riders, or half of everything on DeviantArt.

“They’ve made common cause against us all!” opined Randolph, who is being such a doll about keeping this story on track that I feel bad about the fact that he’s a clone of Adolf Hitler who everyone suspects of being the original Adolf. Maybe I’ll give him a big sacrificial moment and then everyone will be nice to him, now that he’s dead. That’s never been done before.

The Tyrannosaurus who led the dinosaurs outside the control room bellowed, cleared her throat, and then - given speech by fairy magic - said, “We have made common cause against all of you. That is an important part of the plot that will be repeated several times. Now, working together, we will kill you all.”

The Time-Traveling Mystery-Solving Teens looked at each other. “Uh oh,” they all said in unison.

Cue commercial break.

“Or,” the Tyrannosaurus continued, “we will let the rest of you go if you give up Jerome, who we do not like for reasons that are either already clear or will be an amazing twist: he killed me in a past life! Yes, I have been reincarnated as a genetically revived dinosaur only after I died in a time-crash intersecting 1907, 2008, and 3071. For I am… wait for it… Randolph’s mother Klara!”

"Hold the fucking phone,” said Centaur Bob, who, goddamn, is still in the story. Where are those sandworms I ordered? “Jerome was responsible for the time-crash that both killed Randolph’s mother and turned me into a centaur?”

“Look,” said Jerome, “sometimes things get out of hand when you’re a Time-Traveling Mystery-Solving Teen.”

“We’re sending him out,” said Randolph. He opened the door, letting in the soft light of sunset, which is an amazing bit of mood-setting that has no plot connotations at all.

Jerome held onto a desk as Kelly and Centaur Bob and Randolph tried to pull him towards the door. “Look,” he said, “I’m sorry if you took that time-explosion the wrong way. Do you have to be so sensitive?”

Centaur Bob helped pry Jerome’s fingers away from the desk with one of his Greek throwing stars, which worked better as a Greek crowbar. They pushed Jerome towards the open door.

Jerome pushed away from them, a Steely Dan-look in his eye as he made up his mind to save the rest of the Time-Traveling Mystery-Solving Teens with his sacrifice, etc., etc.

He fixed his golden tunic that marked him as a member of the Time Corps, Teen Division, and nodded. “It’s a far better thing-“

“Wait,” said Kelly, running to Jerome who stood next to her the whole time. She threw her arms around his neck, then kneed him repeatedly in the groin and stomach area. “I never really liked you all that much. Half the times you ‘rescued’ me, I had already solved the problem.”

The dinosaurs reached for Jerome with their stubby arms, which were scaly when I was young, but I guess now might be feathered, except for that one raptor who has full-sleeve tattoos of Chinese characters that he cannot read.

Tyrannosaurus Klara lowered her head to Jerome and opened her mouth wide.

“Wait,” said Jerome, “I’ve never left a mystery unsolved. Before you kill me, can you at least tell us who killed the scientist inside the control room on Dinosaur Island when the door was locked and he was all alone?”

(“This door locks?” said Kelly, examining the handle that had bruised her significantly when she tried to hold it closed. “Fuck.”)

The steampunk fairy who rode Tyrannosaurus Klara said, “The butler did it.”

The Time-Traveling Mystery-Solving Teens looked over at the butler who stood in a dark corner of the office, waiting for a command. He had been such a good butler and so darn cute in his little half-cape that they had never suspected him of the murder. Also, due to class issues, they ignored working people generally.

For a moment, the butler didn’t react, his face a mask. But it wasn’t a mask! Then, he smiled, showing his vampire fangs, still crimson with the ichor of the alien scientist.

With tropical suddenness, the sun slipped below the horizon of Dinosaur Island and night came and the screaming began.

Also: sandworms.

THE END? 

The Time-Traveling Mystery-Solving Teens will return in…

The Mystery of the Moving Island

That’s Really a Giant Turtle

Because Moving Islands Are Always Giant Turtles!

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Ben Blattberg is a software developer, improviser, and writer currently living in Austin, TX, as long as there are no follow-up questions on any of those facts. He loves roleplaying games and sestinas, but has conflicted feelings about Batman, which he tweets about often at @inCatastrophe.

Art by Sarah Anne Langton.