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The Monster Within
My mind came out of the fog. The lights above me were bright, almost enough to hurt my eyes. I tried to cover my eyes with my hands, but it was impossible because I was strapped to the table. I started to thrash around and try to get out. The people around me tried to control me, but they kept their distance for some reason. I moved and noticed that the sheets that covered me felt different. The lights looked brighter than they did before they put me under to do some kind of surgery. My hand finally broke free. I stared at it, the realization sinking in almost immediately.
My skin was brown and green. I only had three fingers: one large and the other two smaller. I had large claws instead of fingernails. I didn’t know what to think about it. People around me just stared, waiting for the moment to knock me out again. I thrashed about some more and the bands that held me down snapped. The humans went into a panic. I stood up and noticed that I had feet that had a killer middle claw. How nice. I looked for an exit. There was one, but it was blocked by the humans. I ran towards it, pushing away humans with my muscular tail at the same time. They flew back like some invisible force was cementing them to the wall. I finally got to the door and ripped it off its hinges. Siren bells reverberated down the hospital hallway. I knocked down a few more doors and started to head towards daylight. As I stepped out into fresh air, something took down the revolving doors. It was a twenty-foot dinosaur out of the Cretaceous Period. Three more followed it. I made a beeline towards some woods near the door. After I got far into it, I stopped. There was loud crashing behind me, and I saw humans. They stopped dead as soon as they saw me. They were both hunters and equipped with guns. Before they could shoot, I pounced. My sheer weight crushed them. As I looked down at them, I had the sudden urge to bend down and open my jaws as wide as they could go. I gave into that sudden urge, and I bent down and started to eat. I was gorging on an animal that I used to be . . .
I woke up with a start. As I looked around the room, my heart slowed down. It was just a dream, I thought to myself. It wasn’t real. I knew that sleep was impossible, so I went down to the kitchen. As I opened the fridge, I saw that I wasn’t alone. Someone was sitting on the kitchen table, staring out at the starry night. He was tall and muscular, a deadly combo. His brown hair looked like it hadn’t been cut in a long time.
“Hey, Micah,” he said, not taking his eyes off the sky. “Couldn’t sleep?”
“Yeah,” I replied. I grabbed a carton of milk. I was too lazy to get a glass, so I drank it out of the carton. It was gone in a few seconds.
“Gotta go to the store and buy more milk,” I muttered to myself.
“Same dream as last time?” he asked, ignoring me talking to myself.
“You read my mind. Why are you up, Tyler?”
Tyler looked at me. His eyes were a bright green that shone in the darkness like a cat’s. “You know me. Ever since the operation, my sleeping pattern has been way off.” I leaned on the table and sighed. Our whole family had the “magic surgery” and we all suffered in our own ways. Here, let me explain it to you. A few years ago, paleontologists found perfectly preserved dinosaurs somewhere in the mountains of Montana. And I really mean perfectly preserved. They looked like they had died just yesterday. The dinosaurs had skin, muscle, organs, and everything else. The paleontologists dug them up and sent them to a research lab in southern Wisconsin, where scientists examined the bodies. They wanted to see if they could get part of the brain to start functioning, so they could . . . reanimate them. They tried everything, but nothing worked. So they got the sick and twisted idea to take children with mental disabilities like autism and Down’s syndrome and took part of the dinosaur brain and put it into the children’s brains. But hey, they were really desperate. Their specimens escaped, though. So, that’s why my nightmare was so twisted. We’ve been on the road for over three years, and finally, we were able to find somewhere to stay, if not permanently. It was a small cottage on a lake.
“At least the worst part of winter is over. And that’ll mean a lot more prey,” Tyler said, snapping me out of my daydream. For some reason, we can change into dinosaurs whenever we want to. But we also need to eat. We all go mentally unstable after only two days without food on either side. It’s weird, I know.
“Oooooh, I can’t wait to see all those rabbits and deer,” I said. I stayed in the kitchen until the others woke up. I knew that I would be cooking. Being eighteen and trying to juggle taking care of your family and having half a dinosaur brain can be very stressful.
“Mornin’,” I said as Kayla, the youngest, came down the stairs. “What do you want?”
“Eggs and bacon,” she replied. There was a smile playing on my lips. That’s what she always asked for.
“We always have eggs and bacon. Why not broaden your horizons and try something else?” I asked.
“I want pancakes!” Lizzy squeaked. She was ten and she was insanely bossy. She would sometimes talk back to me, which was a big no-no.
“Let’s just get McDonalds. We don’t have to do anything except go though the drive though and order food.” The suggestion came from Justin. I looked at Tyler and raised an eyebrow. He shrugged. I sighed and gave in.
“Fine. I’ll go. What do you guys want?” They bombarded me with requests. I grabbed a pencil and started writing orders down. After everyone was satisfied, I took off. With my old blue truck, I blended in fairly well. After I got the food, I came home. Everyone was bursting with happiness. It was a rare occasion that we got fast food.
“Thanks, Micah,” Kayla said, hugging me.
“No problem,” I said over a mouthful of breakfast burrito. After everyone was done, I let them go outside. It was one of the first warm days of spring. The snow had already melted and the grass was muddy. I sat on the porch, reading a book. Tyler was sitting next to me.
“Look at them,” he mused, “they’re having fun even though they’re not all human.”
I shrugged. “They’re young. I’m eighteen and the leader of our family. I have fun when I want to.”
Tyler looked at me with his bright green eyes. “Whatever you say.” He wasn’t taking me seriously. I watched Lizzy, Justin, and Kayla. They splashed in the water, laughing whenever they got wet. I smiled, remembering that Justin had part of an aquatic dinosaur brain, so he was at home with the water. I looked back at Tyler. He was smirking.
“Dare you to swim to the middle to the lake,” he said.
I was already sprinting towards the beach. I felt the ground under me change. I was in my dino form. I started swimming as soon as I couldn’t touch the bottom. I did sort of a doggie paddle, but my back legs propelled me forwards. I looked back. Tyler was right behind me, gaining fast. I put on a fresh burst of speed and won the race. I touched the fallen tree that was right in the middle of the lake. I held onto it as Tyler came towards me. He was in his dino form also. His giant T-Rex face was bobbing up and down in the water.
“No fair! You had a head start,” he said.
“Too bad, so sad.” We broke out in laughter. I looked at him. I was thinking that he was touching the bottom of the lake.
“Are you touching the bottom?” I asked.
He looked quite amused. “Sequoia Lake at its deepest is 100 feet. I’m twenty feet tall. Yeah, I can’t touch the bottom.”
“Oh, I didn’t know.” If I could blush, I would be. I looked over towards the beach. The little ones were on the grass play fighting. Kayla, the stegosaurs, had Lizzy, the triceratops, pinned down. Both of the girls weren’t fully-grown, so they looked like what they would grow into. They weren’t that far yet. Justin, who was an aquatic dino I can’t remember, was in the shallows cheering the girls on. We swam back to shore. We hadn’t taken off our clothes, so they hung to our scales. Tyler’s clothes had ripped off because he was such a big dinosaur. That was something he had to deal with. At least I only grow two feet taller than when I’m a dinosaur. I shook myself and looked up at Tyler.
“Well, we’re in dinosaur form. Why not take the chance to get fed?” I suggested.
Tyler shrugged his T-Rex shoulders. “Sure.” I took my soaked clothes off and headed towards the woods. When we were at least a mile away, we split up. Tyler went to the right and I went towards the left. I soon picked up a trail from a small herd of white-tailed deer. A few minutes later, I caught up with them. I waited for the right moment . . . and pounced. I pinned one down and used my middle claw like the blade on a guillotine. The deer died almost instantly.
“Yum,” I growled to myself. I managed to take down another deer and dragged them towards a clearing that Tyler and I usually ate. He was there and already starting to eat the large buck that he had caught. I laid my two does down and dug into one of them. The warm blood flooded my mouth and I started to feast. When I was done with it, I looked up at Tyler. He was done with his catch and was now staring at the other deer that I had caught.
“Want half of it?” I asked.
Tyler shrugged his large T-Rex shoulders. “Sure.” I took the doe and split it in half with my middle claw. I threw the front of it to Tyler. As soon as it came close to him, he dug into it. When we were done, we looked at each other.
“Were you a scavenger or a predator?” I asked.
“Both,” Tyler replied. “Some days I scavenged for food while others I took down live prey.”
“Oh, nice.” I looked at his small arms with two fingers/claws. “What were your arms for?”
“They’re not very strong but they can leave very deep cuts.” He looked at me. “And why do you have feathers?”
I looked at my arms with the green and pale brown feathers. “Females didn’t use them, but the males used them to attract mates. They were red and white. The darker the colors, the older the velociraptor.” We started to walk out of the forest. One of the drawbacks of having half of a dinosaur brain is that you usually have to relearn things, like how to write or read. Gladly, I didn’t have to relearn things, but I don’t have many memories from when I was a human. Even if I remembered things from my past, they were really hazy, like trying to watch a movie while there is thick fog in the room. And if I can get a good mental picture on the memories, I can’t remember anything before I was thirteen.
“I wish I knew who I was,” I muttered.
“I do too.” Tyler had the same problem with trying to remember his past. I jumped over a fallen tree and landed with a muffled whunk. I looked up at Tyler. His head brushed the tops of the trees, and his amber, dark green, and muddy brown scales melted in with the trees every so often. When we got back to the cottage, Kayla, Lizzy, and Justin were back in their human forms, glancing around nervously.
“What happened?” I asked. I changed back to a human. For some odd reason, if we’re not wearing clothes, our dino side will provide us with some. I was wearing a blue and black flannel shirt with tan cargo pants. I was barefoot, since the dinosaur side of me didn’t like to wear shoes for some apparent reason.
“I’m not sure,” Kayla said, out of breath, “but I think that someone may have seen us. There were cars on the road, and I know that some of them had their windows down.” I stared at the road. It was empty now, but that would really be bad if someone saw five dinosaurs in northern Wisconsin.
“They’ll probably think it was a trick of the light. Don’t you think?” Justin’s dark black hair was messy and wet.
“Uhhh . . . Sure?” But I wasn’t so sure myself. If they told someone, like the police, then we were totally screwed. I didn’t have time to ponder that question because Tyler’s watch beeped on the patio.
“It’s time for school,” he said with a hint of a smile.
I had all five of us enrolled in an online school that didn’t ask questions about your identity. It was pretty awesome, since we could still learn, but we didn’t have the things normal kids had, like actual flesh-and-blood teachers, sports teams, homecoming, and prom, and so on. Since I was the oldest, I got to go on first. I was in a senior writing class, and there were five other people on the server when I got on. We didn’t have to use our real names, so we could use usernames, and I was called night-eyes.
Hey night-eyes! MuchoMachoMan said as soon as I logged on. We’ve been waiting 4 u for a while now.
Sorry, my sister got in my room and was going through my stuff, I replied. When our teacher came, we got down to business. We were doing a story on something that happened during World War II. I had chosen Josef Mengle, and I actually enjoyed writing in his perspective, even though most of what he did was very disturbing.
This is what I got so far:
I looked down the road, where the new arrivals would be coming from. Adolf had said they were Gypsies, and there were going to be many twins in this load. I was practically jumping for joy, but I kept my face solemn as the truck appeared. The driver stopped the vehicle a few feet from the barbed wire fence and unloaded the passengers. I was in charge of deciding who would go into Auschwitz, who should die on the spot, and who would come with me so that I could experiment on them.
“General, there are six sets of twins,” the driver said after a moment’s silence. “But only four of them are identical twins.”
I shrugged. “That’s fine. I’ll take all of them.” So the six sets of twins were led off to the side as I decided the Gypsies’ fates.
“Take her to the gas chamber,” I said as an old lady stood in front of me. She could barely keep her head up and she was shaking all over.
The guards signed to me, with their right hands poised inches above their eyebrows. “Yes, sir!” After the others were led away, I turned to the twelve twins, who raged in age from three to nineteen.
“Hello,” I said, making my voice as calm and sweet as it could be. “I am Josef Menelge, and you will be coming with me.” I beckoned them with a finger. They followed me without a word. At least they couldn’t see the smug smile on my face. They didn’t know that in twelve hours, they would be dead, and I would be examining them.
But I’m the Angel of Death, and who denies an angel?
Wow, the_phoenix said. That was really good.
I smiled as I replied. Thanx.
After that, I let Tyler go on the computer, so that he could have his school time. He looked at me with a critical eye.
“You have a way with words,” he said. I smiled and leaned my head on his shoulder. We were the same age, give or take a few months, and I have to admit that Tyler was cute in his own way.
“Thank you,” I said and walked off, my cheeks burning. I walked back up the stairs and into my room. Gladly, I didn’t have to share it with anyone. I jumped onto the bed and grabbed a battered notebook off my nightstand. It was something of mine that I had used before the surgery. It was sort of a diary, but at that time I didn’t know what a diary actually was. I had a severe case of autism before the surgery, and it would be shocking to people if I showed them a picture of myself before I got half of a velociraptor brain and said that used to be me. I stared at the cover of the notebook in shock as I remembered something very clearly. It was when I had first come to the hospital.
My mom had taken me to a very large building that I had never seen before. Mom had said she was taking me to therapy. Did they change buildings?
“Micah, you’re going to have to be strong,” my mom said. She gripped my hand just in case I wanted to run off somewhere.
“Therapy?” I asked.
Mom shook her head. “No sweetie, this isn’t therapy. You’re going to have some surgery. It won’t hurt a bit.” I hated going to the hospital, let alone the doctor. I always freaked out when we even got close to a hospital.
“No hospital, no hospital, no hospital!” I cried, trying to desperately go back to the safety of the car. My mom tried to coax me in the doors, and I put up a good fight. Sadly, she won. A few minutes later, I was in an examining room with four other kids. One of them, a dark haired boy, stared up at the ceiling fan and tracked it with his eyes. Two girls stared at each other and talked. Both of them were like me, and most of their conversation was in choppy sentences. The last person in there was a boy my age. He had spiky brown hair and eyes that looked like a cat’s.
“Hi,” he said.
I nodded hello. I preferred not to talk. I fiddled with a strand of hair, nervous. Why was I here? What were they going to do to me? Will I ever see Mom and Dad and Ben and Tiffany again?
“You know why we are here?” the boy asked me.
“Don’t know,” I replied.
The boy swallowed nervously. “My name Tyler.”
I smiled. “Micah.” He seemed nice. I knew that he was like me, but wasn’t as bad as me.
Tyler looked over at the door. “What they going to do to us?” he asked no one in particular.
“Not sure,” I said. Tyler was nice. People at my high school always laughed at me, and I didn’t know why. Just then, a doctor in a white lab coat entered the room. A few nurses followed him.
“Hello,” he said in a calm voice. “I am Doctor Varra, and I will be operating on you. Do not worry; it won’t be painful.” My heart was beating like a rabbit’s. I wanted to scream when I saw the nurses were carrying shots. I hated shots. I struggled with all my might as one of the nurses plunged the sterile needle into my arm. After a while, I started feel tired, and I sank down in the chair I was sitting in.
“Sleep,” I murmured. After that, the world went black.
I blinked. That was the clearest memory I’ve had since the surgery. It was like I was actually remembering it instead of just watching it. I flipped open my old notebook and skimmed though it. Most of it was gibberish, but there were some things that I could make out. Unlike my speech, I could write very well. I’d have ideas of stories and I’d write them down and make sure no one would see them. I always thought that the stories would loose their “magic” if someone saw them. I was suddenly itching to go on the computer. I wasn’t planning to go on the Internet; I wanted to go on Microsoft Word and write. I didn’t have the luxury of a computer, so I wrote in a different notebook that I reserved for stories. I started writing under a sketched version of Edward Cullen from Twilight. It had taken me over two hours to get him just right. His shaggy hair reminded me of Tyler’s and his eyes had a strange, burning feel to them. I usually didn’t color any of sketches, but this was an exception. He was wearing a dark navy shirt and torn-up jeans. I must have stared at the drawing for a while, because someone pounded on my door.
“Can I come in?” the voice asked. It was Tyler.
“Sure.” He opened the door and I moved over on my bed so that there was somewhere he could sit. He sat on my bed, making the springs squeak. I noticed that he was sitting very close to me.
“Who’s this?” Tyler asked, pointing to the picture of Edward Cullen.
I smiled. “Edward Cullen from Twilight. He’s a vampire.”
Tyler snorted. “Figures.” He suddenly looked at me with his eerie green eyes. His pupils were slits, probably because he had been in his dinosaur form recently.
“Is there something bothering you?” I asked.
He nodded. “Justin had put the Today show on this morning, and when I was hunting, I thought I head something.”
My eyes widened and I put a hand on Tyler’s shoulder. “What did you hear?” My voice was stringed with worry and fear.
Tyler took a deep breath. “They were talking about an experiment that had gone wrong about three years ago. The doctor, Steven Varra, said that there were some specimens that had escaped. Doesn’t that name ring a bell?”
I nodded, my blood turning to ice. “Yes. He was the one who operated on us.” My eyes went wide. “What does this mean?”
“We could be found.”
The mere thought made me shiver. If we got caught, it would mean more surgeries, more tests, more pain and suffering. “Is there anything we can do?” I asked.
Tyler bit his lip in thought. “We can’t be seen. They probably showed pictures of us. Also?”
I cut him off. “But what about food and essentials? We are not going caveman.”
“I know, I know. If we have to go to the store, we have to act like we’re homeless.”
I frowned, confused. “What do you mean?”
“I mean wear a coat in the middle of summer and have a small amount of cash. Is there anything we need right now?”
I chewed on a fingernail, thinking. “We need milk and eggs. Oh yeah, and bread.”
Tyler nodded. “I’ll go to the store later today. So . . .” He tried desperately to switch the conversation to one that didn’t include the very real danger of us being found. “Can I tell you something?”
I cocked my head. It was a habit of mine when I was confused. “What do you want to tell me?”
The room suddenly became unnaturally warm. “Uh, Micah, I kinda like you.”
I blinked twice in shock. “You do?”
Tyler nodded. His cheeks were a bright scarlet. “Yeah. When I first met you, in the hospital, I was fascinated by you. And now, having half the brain of a dinosaur, it’s multiplied by ten.”
“I understand.” With having a half of a dino brain, one of the many crazy instincts is to survive and make sure your blood gets through to the next generation.
Tyler looked down. “So . . . uh . . . do you want to be a couple now?”
A slow smile spread across my face. “I thought you’d never ask.” I then pulled him close and our lips met with firm recognition. Tyler sighed and pulled me closer to him. I smiled and wound my fingers through his messy hair. A few minutes passed, and we weren’t done yet.
“This is only the beginning,” Tyler murmured. We fell down on the bed together, and it soon unraveled from there. I don’t know why, but I don’t really want to creep you out with the gruesome details. Let’s just say that most of the time, the dino sides of our brains were definitely in control.
“That was . . . interesting,” Tyler commented after we had regained most of our humanity.
I nodded. “Definitely.” I glanced at the clock. Last time I checked, it was about nine in the morning. Now it was past three in the afternoon. My mind started to wander, and I suddenly wondered about Kayla, Lizzy, and Justin.
“Hey, what about Kayla, Lizzy, and Justin? Do you think they heard us?”
Tyler shook his head. “No, I don’t think so. They kinda knew what was happening, so they swam out to the island and played there for a while. They’re swimming to shore as we speak.”
“Oh . . .” I said, my sentence drifting off.
We lapsed into silence. After a few moments, Tyler picked up the conversation. “So, ah, do you think we could do it again? In the future, I mean.”
His question stunned me. “Wha—what?”
Tyler rolled his eyes. “Do I have to repeat myself?”
I shook my head. “No. Sorry, I was just dazed. You took me by surprise. But, yeah, I will do this with you again.”
Tyler smiled and kissed me on the cheek. “Maybe we should get dressed now. And we probably should make lunch. I think they’ll be pretty hungry.” He smiled as a loud awwwwrrrrrrrrr came from outside. It was Justin, and he sounded really hungry.
“Yeah, yeah, I know!” I cried out the window. Tyler and I were still stifling laughs as we got dressed and headed down to the kitchen. Kayla, Lizzy, and Justin were sitting at the table, waiting patiently for their meal.
“So, what do you want?” I asked.
Kayla shrugged. “I dunno. Tacos?”
Tyler reached into the cupboard and brought out a box of Old El Paso taco mix. “Got some right here.”
I checked the fridge to see if we had ground beef. We didn’t, but we had ground chicken. “Hey, guys, we don’t have any ground beef. Would chicken tacos be okay?”
Justin shrugged. “Tacos are tacos.”
So after thirty minutes on the stove, the chicken was done enough to stuff into flour tortillas.
“This is really good,” Kayla commented between bites. After we had finished all the tacos, we stretched on the couch to relax. Tyler had control of the remote, and we were watching this year’s “Punkin Chunkin,” which was entertaining and at the same time, funny.
“I think Hormone Blaster is going to win,” I commented.
Justin snorted. “Of course you would. You’re a girl and Hormone Blaster is an all-girl’s team.”
I was going to say something back when we all heard something in the front yard. We heard the sounds of wings flapping, tree branches being ripped from trees and a loud wham! as something hit the ground.
We rushed outside to see what had caused all that noise. Outside on the front lawn, a boy that was about eleven or twelve stared at us with wild, fearful eyes. I could tell he had been on the run because he didn’t look like he had showered in a while, and his honey-blonde hair was full of leaves and twigs. He was wearing a battered white t-shirt, ripped jeans, and he was barefoot.
He pointed a shaky finger at us. “You . . . You’re like me.”