Flash Fiction: Dinosaur Hall


This week the Chuck Wendig challenge celebrates the release of Dinocalypse Now with the theme of DINOSAURS!  It’s the typical 1000 word cap, must include dinosaurs in one way or another.  Check out the links others are putting up for their stories back at Terrible Minds.

And do check out The Memory Eater on Kickstarter.  Just over a week left, and we’ve still got a march ahead.

Dinosaur Hall

Patrick led his daughter into the next hall of the museum.  His arm went taught as she stopped, staring with eyes plastered wide, awe mingled with fear of the giants that stood before them.

“It’s okay, Bess.  They can’t hurt you.”

The crowd streamed around them, their voices and footsteps mingling in the echoes until they became a rush like water, the babbling of the stream that split around daddy and daughter, two rocks in the current.  Bess took a tentative step forward, her eyes darting between her father and the things beyond.  Patrick scooped her up and walked slowly towards them, stopping when she tensed and buried her head in his shoulder.  He shushed above the crowd, and she pulled her head out again.

“What are they?” she whispered.

“Those are called dinosaurs,” he said, carrying her around the massive central display, not getting any closer or farther away.

“Dinosaurs?”

“Yes.  They existed a long long time ago.  Longer than even daddy’s been alive.  Longer than even grandma and grandpa!”

Her tension slipped away and she looked at her daddy in surprise.  “Really?”

“Oh yes, I bet you didn’t think anything was older than grandpa, did you?”

She didn’t answer, she only looked at the dinosaurs, darting her head to and fro as he continued the slow pace.  She looked behind her, then hugged his arm tight as they passed close to a reproduction.  They reached a ramp.  Children ran up and down, not seeing anyone else in the museum.  Patrick carefully weaved around them, then found a place along the guard rail.  They were halfway up, and from here could see the tops of some of the dinosaurs, and were looking right at to others.  Bess leaned forward, Patrick tightened his grip.

“What happened to them?”

He took a deep breath, finding the right words.  “They all went away.”

“They died?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

He knew all the stories, all the reasons.  Complicated strange reasons.  He looked out at them and said, “They were around for a long time, but they had to go away.  It came time for something else to have a turn.”

She gave a deep and snotty sniff, then her face was back in his arm, this time wet with tears, not trembling in fear.  She burned through emotions so quickly it was a wonder she didn’t get whiplash.  “It’s okay, it’s okay.  They had a long time.”

“Are they coming back?”  The words were choked around gentle sobs.

“No.  That’s why we have museums.  So we can see what the world used to be like.  But let me tell you a little story,” he bounced her gently and continued up the ramp.  “Things are always changing.  Just a little tiny itty bit at a time.  But given enough time things can look so very very different than they once did.  Sometimes they get smarter.  Sometimes they get faster.  Sometimes they get smaller.  That’s what happened to the dinosaurs.  They got so much smaller, you’d hardly even recognize them.”

The rapid emotions of youth shifted again, and she giggled.  “You’re silly daddy.”

“No, really.”  They were at the top of the ramp, and he again held her next to the guard rail so she could look down.  “You see them every day, but it’s not these dinosaurs, it’s their great, great, greatgreatgreat,” he scrunched his face up in a way that always drew a laugh and rattled off a string of rapid fire greats before closing with, “grandchildren.”

They stood in silence for a moment, Patrick looking at Bess looking at the dinosaurs.  One last tear hung on her cheek, and he wiped it off.  She turned back to him.  “Do they have names?”

“Do they!  They silliest names you’ve ever heard!”

She pointed excitedly at the biggest one.  “What was that one called?”

“That one?  That’s ENIAC.”

“En-ee-ack?” she said slowly.

“That’s right.”

“That’s a silly name.”

“Very silly.”

“Eniac,” she repeated and giggled.  “Daddy?”

“Yes?”

“I love dinosaurs.”

“I hoped you would.”

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  1. avatar

    #1 by Day Al-Mohamed on May 4, 2012 - 4:16 pm

    Don’t laugh but I was expecting some sort of reveal that we’re the dinosaurs and they are evolved cockroaches.

    I thought that right about when you were talking about the bigger and smaller and taking turns.

  2. avatar

    #2 by Louise Broadbent on May 4, 2012 - 5:05 pm

    This was so sweet. You captured the little girl really well.

  3. avatar

    #3 by Donna B. McNicol [@donnabmcnicol] on May 4, 2012 - 6:10 pm

    You do realize that not everyone is going to “get” this. I did and LOVED it!!!

  4. avatar

    #4 by alreadynotpublished on May 5, 2012 - 6:43 am

    Just wonderful, thank you. I have a little boy, his approach to dinosaurs is obviously so very different but I just loved this

  5. avatar

    #5 by Andreas Kjeldsen on May 5, 2012 - 6:50 pm

    A very sweet and well-done scene.

(will not be published)


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