After a four-year hiatus, Primeval Stories is back with a fresh look. Professor Cutter and his team are dealing with a series of losses but nevertheless have to crack on as new anomalies appear, alongside new recruit Sam Dunbar.
1: The Revival
1: The Revival Written by MarthaJonesFan
9:50pm. Sam Dunbar was finishing off his training session with a young girl in the gym. Sam’s 28, tall and fit with dark hair. He was a personal trainer, something he’d wanted to be for a long time. Now he in his late twenties, more than qualified and he wasn’t sure the training lark was all it cracked up to be. His hours were generally in the evening, pretty unsociable because he started work whenever his friends finished. He was looking forward to getting home, putting his feet up and watching a movie on Netflix. Another boring night, before rinsing and repeating tomorrow.
Next door in the staff locker room, unbeknownst to Sam and his client, a white light opened, with what looked like shards of glass floating around it. Two feet stepped through, with three toes each and sharp, pointy claws for nails…
Tap tap tap. Jess Parker was busy finishing off some work at the Anomaly Research Centre (or ARC for short). It was pretty deserted at this time, most people had finished their shifts, but Jess had always been a hard worker. She sat at the anomaly detector in the centre of the main control room, taking pride of place at the heart of the ARC both literally and figuratively. The team, headed up by Professor Nick Cutter, had been through a lot in the past few years, losing a chunk of their team to budget cuts, while co-leader Danny Quinn was viciously killed in a future predator attack less than a year ago. Jess was the glue that held the team together throughout all this, from her smiles first thing in the morning to bringing the team cups of tea throughout the day. She was just about to sign off from the computer and go home, when an alarm sounds, ringing loudly through her eardrums – a total contrast to the peace and quiet she had in the deserted ARC beforehand.
“Of course this happens now” Jess laughed as she began furiously tapping. The sound was that of an anomaly being detected, the first one in over a week in fact. The issue now was that the team were all at home, so she had to summon them all to the nearby gym…
“Connor! Connor!” Abby Maitland repeated as she tried to wake Connor Temple up. He’d fallen asleep on the sofa in front of a movie, lying in her lap. Eventually Connor stirred and smiled at Abby, while she glared back.
“We’ve got an anomaly, let’s go” Abby informed him as she stood up, getting herself ready. Rex flew down and perched himself next to Abby, staring at Connor as if to say “hurry up!”
“I thought we were having an engagement celebration” Connor slurred, still half asleep.
“You obviously weren’t so interested, you fell asleep” Abby responded.
“You can blame Lester for that, he’s the one making me work unreasonable hours” Connor joked as he went in to kiss Abby.
9:57pm. Sam had just finished the training session with his client and was about to get ready to leave the gym, before closing time at 10pm. He approached the staff locker room door and noticed the metal handle rattling. Sam was confused, and a bit sceptical about opening the door. What was making it rattle? His hand touched the cold metal handle, pushed it down, and the door swung open. Right in front of him was the shining light, a couple of metres into the room, between two rows of lockers. Sam was awestruck, his eyes wide with shock. He didn’t know how to feel; nervous, scared and excited all at the same time. He stepped inside the room, one step at a time, and reached his hand out to the light.
A black car pulled up outside the gym, and out stepped Professor Nick Cutter and Jenny Lewis.
“We need this place evacuated” Cutter stated.
“I’ll get on it” Jenny replied. Cutter then took out his mobile phone to reach Jess.
“Hi Jess, we need the perimeter sealed off, all doors and windows need to be locked”
“Already on it, the gym’s closing in a minute anyway so it should be pretty deserted” Jess efficiently informed Cutter. “Mind you, this would be a bit easier with your black boxes, I could speak directly to you that way.”
“We didn’t have time to stop by the ARC, we could have a creature incursion already, there’s no time to waste. I better get going” Cutter ended the call just as Abby and Connor pulled up, followed by Sarah Page, the team’s archaeologist.
Sam continued to walk forward towards the light, when he heard a sound at the other end of the room. He stopped in his tracks, startled, hairs standing on end. The sound was like nothing he’d heard before, almost like a barking sound, but it certainly didn’t come from a dog.
“Hello?” he called out, in hope it was someone playing a trick. “Shane is that you? Come on, joke’s over” he continued, not sounding entirely convinced by his own words. Suddenly Sam heard an almighty crashing sound, he looked over and saw the rows of lockers were falling, one on top of the other, like a row of dominos that had been pushed over. Sam reacted quickly and jumped out of the room, heaving the door shut. It appeared to be just in the nick of time too, as something started banging on the door, letting out shrieking sounds that could not possibly have come from a human. Sam held the door shut with all the force he could, but his hands were shaking with fear and if whatever this was could knock down the lockers like that, he knew the door wouldn’t last much longer.
Cutter’s phone was beginning to feel like a hotline. He’d spoken to Jess on three occasions in the past five minutes, arranging someone to drop the tranquiliser guns, the black boxes and the anomaly locking device at the gym. Until they had this equipment, the team were basically helpless. They simply had to ensure the place was empty and nothing could get out. Furthermore, Jenny had been gone a while now. A few people had walked past Cutter on the way out but no word from Jenny, and he was starting to feel worried, especially as her phone went straight to voicemail.
“She’s been gone too long” he said.
“No time to waste, let’s go” Sarah replied. The others shared the sentiment, having lost enough team members in the past already.
“Can someone call Jess and let her know? I’m really starting to miss the black boxes…” Cutter requested.
“On it” Connor reacted promptly, whipping out his phone.
The door was starting to be torn apart now, and Sam was realising that holding the handle shut was becoming increasingly useless. In the spur of the moment, he decided to make a run for it. His legs had never moved faster, all he could think about was getting out alive, his plans for a quiet evening at home were now a distant memory. He heard the door being smashed down just seconds later, then looked behind, and saw the most terrifying creature. It was a mix of black and white in colour, stood on two legs, and covered in blue feathers that were stood on end. It noticed Sam running, widened its mouth as it eyed up its prey, and began running after him. Sam ran round the corner, not really looking where he was going because he couldn’t take his eyes off the creature chasing him. He ran into someone, almost knocking her over.
“Excuse me, you need to get out…” she started to tell Sam, but he cut her off.
“Listen to me, we need to run, NOW!” he shouted and took off again. The woman followed him, knowing full well what he might be running from.
“Name?” she asked while they ran, still managing to remain matter of fact in the situation.
“Jenny” she smiled.
The team stood in the lobby of the gym. There were two corridors leading past the reception area – one to the pool and one to the main gym area and staff locker room.
“We need to split up, Abby and Connor, you head upstairs, Sarah and I will check down here” Cutter ordered, and the team parted ways in order to find Jenny. Sarah and Cutter started walking towards the pool.
“You do think she’ll be OK, won’t she?” Sarah was worried for her friend. Jenny had been there for her in tough times in the past, she couldn’t bear the thought of losing her.
“Jenny’s a grown woman, she can take care of herself” Cutter calmly answered.
“True, I mean, she’s seen off enough terrible choices in men over the years to deal with a dinosaur” Sarah laughed.
Jenny and Sam were panting for breath while they ran. The creature was closing the gap rapidly. Sam spotted a fire extinguisher. He stopped running and picked it up and chucked it at the beast. THWACK! Right in the face. It stopped for a second but ultimately it just made it angrier.
“Come on!” Jenny yelled. The two of them ran into the main gym area and shut the door, barricading themselves in.
Sarah and Cutter were walking along the poolside, looking for any clues that might lead to them finding the anomaly and/or Jenny. For what felt like the eightieth time today, Cutter’s ringtone began playing.
“Got any updates Jess? Where’s the anomaly?” Cutter immediately asked.
“It’s on the ground floor, in the staff locker room. Any sign of Jenny?”
“Not yet, we’re working on it, are the tranquilisers on their way?”
“They left ten minutes ago, should be with you any second”
“Thanks Jess” Cutter smiled as he ended the call, genuinely appreciative of Jess’ efforts. “Let’s wait outside for the equipment.”
Abby and Connor were carefully investigating the upstairs area. There wasn’t much there, just a coffee shop and a couple of larger rooms to accommodate kids’ parties. Connor found a party popper on the floor and popped it, with Abby giving him a glare afterwards.
“What? Think of that as a practice run for the confetti at our wedding” he joked.
“Wasn’t your wedding to Mia a practice run?” Abby smiled.
“I guess the entire relationship was a practice run of sorts”
“Have you spoken to her since the divorce?” Abby asked, the tone becoming more serious.
“Nope, I think she’s found a new fella. Good on her” Connor was sincere in his words, his break-up with Mia had been a long-time coming by the time it happened just six months ago but he’d hoped to remain friends with her.
“Let’s hope she’s a bit less jealous this time, for her own sake” Abby was also sincere, recalling the days of when she and Mia used to fight. They had resurfaced in more recent times, as it became apparent that Abby had more of a connection with Connor than Mia ever had.
Their heart to heart was interrupted by the sound of a crash behind the coffee counter. The duo looked over and saw a mess across the counter, but nothing else. Abby started to walk over but Connor stopped her.
“It could be Jenny, she might be injured” Abby explained.
“Yeah… but what if it’s a dinosaur? How are we gonna deal with it? Party popper-it to death?” Connor worried.
“We’ll think of something, we normally do” Abby reassured him, and continued to move slowly towards the coffee counter. She spotted the top of a creature’s head side-on behind the counter, one eye looking directly at her. She stopped in her tracks, and looked over her shoulder, hoping Connor could offer some advice, but he was nowhere to be seen.
Sam and Jenny had locked themselves in the main gym area, with gym equipment lumped in front of the door. Finally they were able to catch their breath back, so they sat down on the floor.
“What was that thing?” Sam queried.
“Nothing for you to worry about” Jenny remained professional, remembering that her job within the team was public relations.
“But it was a creature… It almost killed me, don’t you think I have a right to know?” Sam pushed for an answer. Jenny sighed, realising he was in it too deep now. Sam continued, “I saw a light, in the locker room, a glowing white light”.
“An anomaly” Jenny gave in and explained, “it’s a portal in time, this creature, called a raptor, came through from a prehistoric time”.
“Do you think I’m stupid?” despite everything, Sam didn’t believe her.
“Believe what you want but I think the visual evidence is pretty hard to deny” Jenny retaliated. She took her phone out of her pocket. “Phone’s dead. Great.”
“How are we gonna get out of here?” the worry was taking over in Sam’s mind.
“I’ve got friends here, they’ll find us, don’t worry”
“Who actually are you though? Why do you know about all this?”
“Sam, just trust me, we’re gonna be fine” Jenny smiled. Sam felt strangely reassured despite not actually getting an answer to this question.
“Hold on, where’s the raptor gone?” Sam asked, only just realising that it wasn’t banging on the door.
Abby started to back away from the coffee counter. She took small steps, one at a time, knowing that any sudden movements would ensure the raptor sees her as a threat. Abby was focusing so much on being quiet that she wasn’t looking where she was going, and tripped over a chair leg that was sticking out. CRASH! Abby fell to the floor. The raptor noticed this instantly and jumped over the counter. It stood over her, its huge mouth getting closer to Abby. She was terrified and frantically thinking of her way out, when she heard a familiar voice from the other end of the room.
The raptor turned around and hissed. Abby looked over and saw Connor, holding some of the coloured balls from the kids’ ball pool round the corner. He pelted one right at the raptor, hitting it on the head. Abby stood up and noticed her phone ringing. She saw it was Cutter and answered it, while Connor continued to chuck the balls at the Raptor.
“Abby, the equipment just arrived, the anomaly’s in the staff locker room” Cutter explained. Connor was running out of balls to throw, so Abby ended the call, picked one up off the floor and threw it at the raptor again. It turned around to face her.
“Come on then” Abby said before she ran down the stairs. The raptor followed it in hot pursuit, with Connor trailing behind. Abby continued to run. She knew exactly where she was heading – the locker room. When she got there, she saw the door had already been basically destroyed, so she climbed through what was left of the door and hid at the other end of the room. The raptor followed her in and went straight through the anomaly, gone. Connor arrived seconds later.
“Where’s it gone?” he enquired.
“Back through. Let’s just hope it doesn’t turn back around and come running. Let’s get the anomaly locker from Cutter” Abby answered.
Sam and Jenny removed the barricades from the door and opened it a fraction. They both peeped out through the gap, and there was no sign of the raptor.
“Let’s go” Jenny added. They made a run for it towards the exit. This alerted the raptor, which was just hiding around the corner. Sam and Jenny made it out into the lobby area, just as Abby and Connor walked back to meet Cutter and Sarah.
“Run!” Jenny yelled at them, as they turned around to see an angry raptor approaching. They all sprinted for the entrance.
“That door is automatic, it won’t hold it in” Sam panted.
“No worries, we’ve got reinforcements” Jenny replied, just as Cutter came into view, holding a tranquiliser gun. BANG! He fired it at the raptor, but it missed. BANG! A second shot fired, but the raptor was moving too fast for the shot to be accurate. BANG! Once again, the dart missed, but the raptor was beginning to realise it was in danger, and turned around in a flash, running back towards the main gym area.
“Are you all OK?” Cutter asked.
“No broken bones” Connor replied. He then turned to Abby. “So the raptor came back through?”
“What do you mean?” Jenny was confused.
“It attacked us upstairs, I got it back through the anomaly but it obviously wandered straight back here again. No surprise, we couldn’t lock the anomaly after all” Abby added.
“No, that can’t be possible, it’s been on our scent the entire time” corrected Jenny.
“So there’s more than one?” Sarah was taking all of this in. Sam on the other hand was feeling a bit overwhelmed. He stood quietly, nobody really taking any notice of him.
“Must be. But why didn’t our one come back through? It seemed pretty hungry, raiding the coffee shop” Connor queried.
“No idea. We can investigate but we need to equip ourselves first. Everyone grab a black box and a tranq gun. Connor, you take the anomaly locker, we need to stop any further creatures coming through” Cutter showed his authority by giving directions to the others. As he did this, he noticed Sam stood there, on the verge of tears. “What’s your name?”
“Sam… Sam Dunbar. I work here” Sam stuttered on his words as he spoke.
“OK Sam, I’m gonna need you to stay here and keep quiet. You’ll be safe if you do this” Cutter tried to reassure him.
“I want to help” Sam replied, more defiant and sure of his words. “I looked that thing in the eye, I don’t want to sit back.”
Cutter reluctantly agreed, knowing he could do with all the help he could get. The team were about to start walking back into the gym to the anomaly when Jess started speaking to them via their black boxes.
“Hold on, the anomaly signal stopped about five minutes ago, must’ve been right after yours went through Abby” Jess explained, straight to the point. They ran to check it out, and sure enough, as they reached the locker room, there was just an empty space.
“So what do we do with the other one?” Connor worried.
“Catch it and keep it safe until a new anomaly opens to the Cretaceous. Although that would be too easy” Cutter smiled.
The team regrouped outside the gym, quickly learning their way around after the amount of times they’d been back and forth by this point. Sam sat on the floor next to the set of automatic doors. Jenny went and sat next to him.
“You tried to save my life in there. I should be grateful” she started.
“Should?” Sam questioned.
“Well you did risk your life when you stopped to throw the fire extinguisher. One false move and I’d be up to my eyes arranging a clean-up operation” Jenny joked.
“Sounds like I saved your life in more than one way” Sam was perking up.
After five minutes of discussion, Cutter had devised a plan.
“OK, we need to try and corner it. Raptors are incredibly fast and agile, and we’re gonna need to use the highest dose of tranquiliser we have. Equally, that means we really cannot miss if we fire” he explained.
“If we see it, where do we try and lure it?” Sarah asked.
“The staff locker room is the smallest room in the building, there’s less space for it to move around” Sam chipped in.
“Nice one, staff locker room it is” Cutter smiled, knowing Sam could prove to be an invaluable asset going forward. “Now we need to split up again, the same teams as last time would be great – Abby and Connor, you head back upstairs, Sarah and I will check out the pool, and Jenny and Sam, you can check out the gym. Jess, keep an eye on the CCTV and guide us.”
“Will do, although it’s hard to track when it moves this fast and the CCTV coverage in the gym is pretty weak” Jess replied via the black box communication system.
“Oh, they’ve been meaning to improve that for ages” Sam added, almost sounding apologetic.
“Right, let’s go” Cutter terminated the conversation and everyone moved into place.
It was starting to get late at this point. The clock was ticking past midnight, and Sam was getting tired. He was normally tucking himself into bed at this point, not chasing a prehistoric creature. He yawned, politely covering his mouth as he did so.
“I know how you feel” Jenny commented. They were hovering around the main gym area, and not much was happening. The raptor wasn’t anywhere to be seen.
“Do your family know what you do?” Sam questioned.
“My sister does. Well, I say sister, it’s complicated, but yes, she knows. She used to work with us, but she was asked to step in as a permanent emergency replacement at the Home Office. My other sister runs another ARC further north, so you could say it’s in the family” Jenny was opening up to Sam, for what felt like the first time she’d done so in ages.
“Do you worry about them? I mean, this has to be pretty dangerous” Sam interrogated further, keen to know more.
“All the time. You’re right, it’s very dangerous. That’s why you need to keep it a secret. We’re doing everyone else a favour by keeping them away from the anomalies and the creatures” Jenny was speaking both from PR and personal perspectives.
“I don’t really have many family anyway” Sam opened up too, “and I don’t see much of my friends, my job is quite all-consuming.”
“Perhaps we can find you a new job” Jenny smiled. Sam knew exactly what she was hinting at.
Sarah and Cutter were back at the poolside. They were walking along to the opposite end, where the changing rooms were located. The changing rooms led back through to the main lobby area. The lights remained off, and the only light came from the reflection of the moon onto the pool itself.
“Is it me or are swimming pools really eerie when they’re empty?” Sarah pondered aloud. She changed subject after a few seconds of silence. “What do you make of Sam?”
“I think he’s a bright young man, confident, and very determined” Cutter replied.
“We could certainly do with an extra pair of hands” hinted Sarah. Just as she finished that sentence, they heard a tip-tap along the cold tiled floor. They stopped in their tracks, slightly scared.
“Cutter, Sarah, the raptor just went the swimming pool” Jess informed them. Slowly, they both turned around, and the raptor was staring right at them.
“We need to take it through the changing rooms” Sarah whispered.
“Slowly move towards them, we need to get off the slippery floor” Cutter was wary, the floor was wet of course and if they slipped when the raptor was that close behind, it would be bad news. He then spoke into the comms, “we’ve found it Jess, tell the others to meet at the locker room.”
The duo slowly backed away, the changing rooms were a matter of metres away. The raptor moved slowly with them, not wanting to make the first sudden move. The second they got round the corner of the changing room, they picked up the pace. The raptor followed them and gave chase when it spotted them running. Past the showers, past the cubicles, and straight down to the front entrance. Sarah tried pushing on the door, but it wouldn’t shift. Cutter noticed there was a keycard pad next to the door.
“Jess, the door is locked, you need to open it for us” Cutter spoke quietly but firmly.
“Give me two seconds, I need to get past the system” Jess replied.
“As fast as you can” Cutter was starting to panic. Sarah was continuing to heave on the door but it wasn’t any use. The raptor was approaching the corner. Cutter looked it straight in the eye. It was hungry and approaching them more slowly now, eyeing up its prey. Just as it was within touching distance, the keypad flashed green and the door came loose. Sarah and Cutter ran straight out and towards the locker room, with the raptor just a couple of metres behind. When they arrived at the locker room, the others were already there.
“Get back!” yelled Cutter. The others stood away, and he alone ran into the locker room as bait to capture it. Once he was in, Connor chucked him a tranquiliser gun. Cutter caught it and got ready to fire. He was stood against the opposite wall, with the others watching, blocking the door and giving the raptor no room to escape. It was panicking a tad, in the confined space, and was moving around like crazy. Cutter was about to fire when THWACK! The raptor’s tail hit Jenny’s head as it flew around. She collapsed to the floor, knocked out. Sam dropped to his knees next to Jenny and checked her out.
“Get out, it’s panicking and I can’t shoot it when it’s this erratic” Cutter commanded to his team. Everyone evacuated the room apart from Sam, who was tending to Jenny. The raptor started to eye up Sam.
“Give it here” Sam confidently shouted to Cutter. Cutter understood and slid the tranquiliser across the floor. Sam picked it up in an instant and fired it at the approaching raptor. BANG! Straight in the mouth. The creature stopped in its tracks for a couple of seconds, unsure of what had happened, before collapsing on the floor. Cutter breathed a sigh of relief but Sam wasted no time before tending to Jenny.
“She’s alive but unconscious” Sam informed Cutter as he walked over to them.
“The tail was moving erratically, I should’ve seen it coming. I’ll call an ambulance” Cutter was calm and collected, the opposite of Sam who was shaking a tad.
“I’m first aid trained, l can save her” Sam spoke confidently but deep inside he was worried. He hadn’t had to use his first aid training before, and the training itself was several years ago. Nevertheless, he knew he had to help Jenny, and tried recalling the recovery position in his mind. Cutter stood back and made the call to the emergency services, the wheels ticking over in his mind as he did so…
Sam spent the next few days at home. The gym was closed while the clear-up operation took place, and Cutter told him that he had to be debriefed on the situation, so he was awaiting the details. Jenny was taken to hospital and spent the night there as a precaution, before returning to work two days after with nothing more than mild concussion. He’d spent the entire time pondering the whole situation and everything that happened, sometimes even questioning whether it even happened. Six days after the Sam got a text from Jenny. It was the de-brief details, ready for 11am the following day.
Jenny met Sam at the gates of her workplace the next day. She allowed him security clearance past the barriers and once he’d parked his car, she escorted him through the building.
“You saved my life again. You’re making a habit of this” Jenny joked as she walked.
“Why am I here?” Sam’s mind was in overdrive and wasn’t in the mood for small talk. They both stepped into an escalator and Jenny pressed a button.
“Like you were told, to be debriefed” Jenny wasn’t giving anything away. They remained silent until the lift stopped. Jenny walked out first, and Sam followed. His nerves and scepticism stopped as he walked out and saw the room he was now in. He saw a glass both for an office to his left, and straight ahead, down some about four steps, was an area bristling with scientists and researchers.
“This is the Anomaly Research Centre, or the ARC for short” Jenny explained.
“It’s...incredible” Sam was amazed. He looked all around, seeing the workplaces filled with research, and a super-computer of sorts at the tail end of the room. He smiled at Sarah, Abby and Connor who were positioned at the workplaces. He then noticed a young girl spin round in her chair at the computer and daintily run up to them both.
“Hi, you must be Sam! I’m Jess, nice to meet you” Jess smiled, being as friendly as possible. Sam tried to formulate a reply but was stopped dead in his tracks.
“Samuel Dunbar. 28 years old, personal trainer, average GCSE results” came a deep male voice from behind. Sam spun round and saw a man in his early 50s dressed in a smart suit holding a clipboard with a sheet of paper attached. He continued “I’m James Lester, head of the anomaly operation here at the ARC. I hear you saw everything that happened at the gym last week.”
“Yeah, I saw that creature right in front of me. W-when is this debrief happening?” Sam stumbled over his words.
“No need to be so worried. I’ve heard good things about you Sam, not least from Jenny. They’ve all been singing your praises for the past week” Lester explained further. Sam blushed as he looked at Jenny, and Cutter who had just arrived.
“We’d love to have you join our team here at the ARC” Cutter continued. Sam was speechless, he didn’t quite know how to reply.
“I must stress, pay is little above minimum wage and you’ll need the patience of a saint to be dealing with Connor on a daily basis” Lester chirped in. Cutter and Jenny smiled, while Connor remained oblivious at his workplace a few metres back.
“Will it always be this dangerous?” Sam asked.
“Yes” Cutter was firm and honest with his answer, “but with your first aid skills and courage, lives could be saved. Are you in?”
Sam took a couple of moments to think. Jess looked at him with a friendly smile, nudging him along.
“OK, I’m in” Sam finally answered.
“Excellent! I’ll show you to your workplace, and give you your ID card, and your computer login” Jess wasted no time in stealing Sam away and dragging him by his arm towards the anomaly detector.
“You realise we can barely afford another team member right now?” Lester spoke privately to Cutter and Jenny.
“It’s not about the money. He was excellent in the field and we need someone like him” Jenny explained.
“I trust you won’t let me down” Lester waltzed back off to his office at the top of the stairs.
Cutter and Jenny were left in the middle of the main operations room.
“Finally, it feels like we’re getting back to normal” Jenny commented.
“When are things ever normal around here?” Cutter laughed, before walking off. Jenny smiled to herself.
2: Intrusion Written by MarthaJonesFan
Janet loved the
sight of her kids having fun. It was a joy to live just across the road from a
recreation ground where her son and daughter, aged five and three respectively,
could run around and have fun, without trashing the house. Occasionally it gave
her a chance to have a gossip with her friends too – they’d take their kids to
the park and have a catch-up. Today it was just her, and Janet liked that too.
She was alone with her thoughts, which didn’t happen often. Once the kids were
in bed, she began preparing lunches for the following day. As a single mum,
there was little time for rest.
Unbeknown to Janet, just metres away from the park, in a small woodland section that partitions the recreation ground and a larger sports field, a shining portal of light spun open, met with a high-pitched squeaking sound that could not have been human…
at his work desk in the central ARC area, Sam Dunbar was getting to grips with
everything. He’d only been at work a few days, and the entire concept of the
Anomaly Research Centre was crazy. Everyone seemed pretty nice and he was
welcomed with open arms to the team, but quite how he was supposed to do his
job, he wasn’t sure. He’d seen one anomaly so far, and that was before he was
even employed. How would he work in a dynamic with a team that had been doing
this for years? They all knew loads more about anomalies than he did. On the
bright side, one thing on his side was his first-aid training. Sam sighed.
“Hey” Jess perked up beside him.
“Hi” Sam replied, pretending to look more comfortable than he actually was.
“How are you finding everything?” Jess keenly asked. She saw it as part of her job to make sure that everyone felt completely comfortable at the ARC, seeing herself as their resident ray of sunshine. And boy, did Sam look like he needed it.
“Fine, yeah” Sam brushed the question off. Jess raised an eyebrow, not believing a word. It would’ve taken a lot more effort than that to fool her.
“Alright it’s not fine. I feel out of my depth” Sam confessed. He liked Jess, and she only ever meant well. He knew he could trust her.
“Don’t worry. The first few weeks are strange, you don’t have to tell me” Jess began, perching on the edge of the seat next to Sam as if she were about to have a good old gossip, “Technically I’m still the new girl. But I started working here four years ago. You get used to it once you’ve been out and about a few times.”
“I hope that’s the case” Sam replied, still sceptical, “Thanks Jess.” He smiled, and she smiled back. Jess bounced back off to her workstation, knowing her work was done.
“I’ve told you before, no chocolate until after lunch!” Sarah stressed to Emily, her niece. She was sat comfortably on her sofa, with her laptop on her lap. However, no matter how hard she tried to get on with her work, it was impossible with two seven-year-old kids running around her house. She loved both Emily and Ben to bits; she always did, but more so now because they’re all she has left of her sister Rachel. Sarah was their legal guardian, and what would always be a tough job was made ten times harder by the inconsistent working hours of the ARC. Showing he wasn’t always heartless, Lester allowed her to work from home when there wasn’t an anomaly alert, but it left her feeling a bit detached from the rest of the team.
“Guys, why don’t you go outside for half an hour before lunch?” Sarah suggested to the twins. As most kids would be, they were excited by the mere mention of the garden, so out they went, giving Sarah a moment to chill out. She checked her phone, hoping to see a message from Cutter for an anomaly alert, but there was no sign.
DING DING! DING DING! DING DING! The familiar sound of the anomaly detector rang out across the ARC. Sam almost had a heart attack. He’d never heard the ear-piercing alarms before, so was unprepared. He looked up, hoping for some form of direction. Professor Cutter came sprinting into the main operations room and stood next to Jess’ desk.
“What have we got?” he queried. Sam sheepishly joined them at the detector.
“It’s nearby, less than a mile away” Jess read, her chirpy nature fading away into a serious, professional tone, “It’s metres away from a park.”
“In half term” Sam added, with a notable tone of worry in his voice.
“Let’s go. Send me the details as we go” Cutter ordered, picking up two black boxes from the desk next to the detector. He chucked one to Sam.
“You’ll need this to communicate” Cutter explained. He sped off to the car, with Sam following behind.
Sandwiches ready, at last. Sarah was about to call the twins inside from the garden, when she heard the delightful sound of her phone vibrating. Even more relief was felt when Sarah saw Cutter’s name on her notifications. He’d texted her the co-ordinates of a new anomaly. Immediately, Sarah had to make another call.
“Hi Mum, sorry to do this but I’m gonna have to drop the kids off, work have called” Sarah explained. Her mum attempted to protest on the other end of the phone, but Sarah ended the call.
As the cars pulled up in the car park, Cutter was bemused to find a crowd of people outside the park. He gave Jenny a knowing nod, signalling that her expertise would be required here. Jenny immediately got to work and spoke to one of the calmer people she saw – a woman in her late thirties. She looked like she’d been crying, which immediately rang alarm bells in Jenny’s mind. What had she seen?
“Are you here to help?” the woman asked immediately as Jenny approached.
“Help with what?” Jenny responded, wanting to find out more information before she revealed too much.
“My son” she responded, “He’s gone missing.” Jenny’s eyes widened in shock, feeling compassion for the lady but also guilt, because she knew there were two possible options as to where he might be, and couldn’t divulge either of them.
“I’m sorry” Jenny responded, “I promise we’ll do everything we can to find your son.”
“That’s what the other people said. Almost word-for-word” she responded. Jenny was intrigued.
“What other people?”
“They arrived a few minutes before you and evacuated the park, they said they couldn’t tell us why” Janet explained, “What’s going on?”
“I’m going to have to take your name” Jenny ignored her question.
“Janet” she replied.
Cutter had overheard every word of the conversation. The idea of other people being here worried him immensely. Lester hadn’t mentioned sending anybody else, and everybody reported to him. These people almost certainly weren’t from the ARC, so who were they?
“Let’s go” he ordered to the team. Sam had joined him in the car on the way from the ARC, while Abby and Connor came in a separate vehicle. There was no sign of Sarah yet, but he trusted she would be joining them soon. Once Jenny had finished ensuring the area was clear, she joined the group of four and they proceeded to enter the park, much to the confusion of the onlookers. From the car park, the recreation ground was just a few metres away, while the woodland area was to the back and mostly sheltered thanks to the volume of trees.
“Who do you think they are?” Sam asked Cutter.
“I’ve got no idea, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t worry me” Cutter responded. It didn’t fill an anxious Sam with much confidence. His first mission and they had to deal with people as well as dinosaurs. People on their own are difficult enough.
“Are we sure they’re not just innocent bystanders?” Abby wondered.
“I think we’re beyond that. They evacuated the park. They’re in the know” Cutter mentioned.
“If they’ve got access to the anomaly, it means they could’ve gone through” Connor added.
“And we’ve got a missing child” Cutter worried.
As they approached the woodland area, it wasn’t difficult to tell that other people had been there. The first thing Abby noticed was footprints in the mud. It had been raining the day before, so the mud was in perfect condition to trace marks left by intruders’ shoes. Getting clearer and clearer as they approached, Abby was mesmerised by the sight of the anomaly. It never failed to take her breath away. She first saw an anomaly over ten years ago, but they still blew her mind. Nobody knew why they existed still, but they did and she was one of the few to know. Having said that, it seems it wasn’t as exclusive a pool as she thought.
“Where are they?” Abby queried. There was no sign of anybody around the anomaly, so it seems Connor’s fears had come true – they had indeed gone through.
“Couldn’t resist a peep” Sam added. He couldn’t blame them either – he hadn’t been through an anomaly yet and had no idea what to expect.
“The anomaly should be right in front of you” Jess noted via their earpieces.
“We’ve found it, Jess, but we’ve got a problem. Suspected intruders, back-up needed” Cutter ordered.
“Back-up should be with you within 20 minutes” Jess replied, “By the way, I’ve done a check of the CCTV cameras in the nearby area and there’s no sign of an incursion.”
“Cheers Jess” Cutter responded. He took his earpiece off, so Jess couldn’t hear, and more importantly, report back to Lester.
“20 minutes is too long” Cutter began.
“Are you suggesting we go through and get them ourselves?” Abby connected the dots.
“Well we can’t lock the anomaly yet” Connor noted, “If we leave it open, the risk of an incursion gets greater.”
“I agree. Abby and Connor, you come with me. Sam and Jenny, I need you to guard the anomaly. Sarah will help when she arrives” Cutter gave his orders. Sam nodded, although he was disappointed he didn’t get to go through the anomaly.
Back at the ARC, Lester was doing his usual round of snooping to ensure everyone was on task. He didn’t pay them to sit around daydreaming, after all. Jess had noticed that he did this every day after lunch, as if it were some sort of ritual. A reason to complain, almost certainly. Jess kept tapping away, bringing up CCTV cameras in the area surrounding the anomaly as she heard the tip tap of Lester’s expensive shoes nearing her desk.
“Everything alright desk?” he asked innocently, as if he was genuinely interested in how she was.
“All good” she responded, shrugging him off and not taking her eyes off the screen. Then she remembered what Cutter had told her, and spun round in her posh, comfy red chair.
“Actually, there might be a bit of a problem. It seems there are intruders at the anomaly site” Jess informed.
“Please tell me I’ve fallen asleep for two months and woken up on April Fool’s Day” Lester expressed his annoyance in the way he knew best – sarcasm.
“I’ll keep you updated” Jess ignored his response and remained professional.
“Oh, the Minister will be pleased” Lester moaned. His attention being focused on Jess allowed the main entrance to be unobserved and unguarded for a few moments. For anyone who knew the ARC, it was the perfect chance to sneak in an unwanted guest. Sure enough, a girl in her mid-20s, wearing a black leather jacket and dark denim jeans arrived in the lift. She was greeted by one of the ARC’s soldiers, who gave her an ID badge to clip onto her jacket pocket. Together, they made their way to the corridor and out of sight before Lester could suspect a thing…
we ready?” Cutter asked, facing Abby and Connor.
“As I’ll ever be” Connor replied.
“The air pressure around the anomaly is normal” Abby added, looking at her handheld detector.
“We should be fine to breathe then, but we won’t take too long just in case” Cutter noted.
“Good luck” Jenny wished them, before Cutter led the way into the shining light of the anomaly. Each of them had a tranquiliser gun in their hand, ready just in case of an attack. In front of Sam’s eyes, the trio vanished through the portal, and it stood there afterwards like nothing had even happened.
“You said “good luck”, like they needed it?” Sam noted, turning to Jenny.
“You’re new here, you’ll learn quickly” Jenny responded, without wanting to sound patronising.
Immediately, Connor was breath taken by the sight he saw on the other side of the anomaly. He’d been through several in his time at the ARC, but each time was like the first. The anomaly had opened in the middle of a forest, with greenery all around and a shining blue sky visible above the tree tops.
“Where are we?” Abby queried, noting her surroundings.
“At a quick guess, it looks like the early Jurassic era” Cutter detailed.
“Life never makes it easy for us, does it?” Connor remarked as he stared upwards, the trees making it difficult to see any humans around, particularly a small child.
“Keep your voice down” Cutter warned, “Any sounds we can pick up will be vital. Human or otherwise.”
Continuing his sweep through the ARC, Lester took a glance into Cutter’s office. Oh, he hated Cutter at times, but even he couldn’t deny that he was a genius. In his own way. He saw the mess of papers on his desk, feeling slightly repulsed by the messiness. His own desk would never be such a state. He glanced over at the filing cabinet, and much to his horror, he saw one of his own security guards ruffling through the papers, as well as a woman he certainly had never seen before. He hid himself out of view from the office window. Thankfully, they hadn’t seen him. As another security guard walked along, Lester discreetly caught his attention.
“Intruder in Cutter’s office. Order a lockdown, immediately” Lester instructed. The soldier nodded and relayed the command into his wrist communicator.
Sat at the detector still, Jess was confused as the doors slammed shut all around her. On her screen, a large red announcement saying “LOCKDOWN” popped up, flashing intermittently. Around her, everyone else was just as confused. They’d all been trained to remain calm in the event of a lockdown and wait for commands. However, there was no sign of Lester yet, so Jess knew to take matters into her own hands. Tapping away at her keyboard, she brought up the ARC CCTV cameras. Cutter’s office camera was the most revealing. Jess watched as a couple of soldiers reprimanded two intruders, with Lester stood watching. She knew she had to hear the gossip.
“Surely one peek won’t hurt?” Sam had a cheeky grin on his face as he looked at Jenny.
“We shouldn’t” Jenny responded, being sensible.
“Oh, come on, I just want a quick look” Sam continued. He was acting like a spoilt child, but Jenny knew how he felt. He hadn’t been through an anomaly yet, and the opportunity was directly in front of him.
“Alright, but only quick. I don’t want the anomaly closing and chopping you in half” Jenny gave in. Sam smiled a grateful smile and took a step towards the anomaly. He braced himself, taking a deep breath, and stepped into the anomaly. He didn’t allow himself to go too far, just enough for a peep. Sam was amazed as the white light of the anomaly gave way for the greenery on the other side of the anomaly. Whilst he didn’t doubt Cutter and the team, it was satisfying to see the evidence for himself. Unfortunately, his happiness was short lived. Emerging from the trees into the clearing where the anomaly was situated was a large reptilian creature. A dinosaur. Sam’s eyes widened in fright and he backed through the anomaly.
“Danger, think we’ve got a friend incoming” Sam warned Jenny. They both stood back, bracing the arrival, and sure enough, it followed Sam through. It was a similar height to them both, but much longer. Sam was closer to its reptilian scales than he ever wanted to be and was getting ready to sprint.
“Don’t move” Jenny whispered harshly. Sam composed himself, standing as still as possible. He focused on how heavy his breathing was. In and out, quicker than usual thanks to their new friend. The dinosaur stood facing then, eyeing up its prey. It opened its large mouth wide, causing Sam to tremble with fear. It was only a few days ago that he was stood face-to-face with a raptor, and now there was an actual real-life dinosaur staring back at him.
Eyeing me up for lunch, he thought. However, Sam’s prayers were answered as the dinosaur’s eyes lost their focus and collapsed to the ground. Both Sam and Jenny breathed a huge sigh of relief as they noticed Sarah standing behind the now-sleeping creature, tranquiliser gun in hand.
“Talk about good timing” she commented, as Sam let out a nervous yet relieved laugh.
Cutter led the way as the group explored the Jurassic era. The forest seemed to be never-ending, and still there were no life signs. Cutter’s ears were primed, ready to pick up any crucial details to help locate either their missing boy or the intruders. Finally, he heard something more familiar.
“Shush” he ordered to Abby and Connor, as they stood still to stop the rustling of leaves against their shoes.
“What?” Connor whispered back.
“Can’t you hear that?” Cutter responded, checking his ears weren’t deceiving him. Both focused, listening out.
“People” Abby recognised, “They’re near.” Cutter resumed walking, pushing away a branch. He was met by a group of three adults, startled by his arrival, as well as one young boy…
Stood outside the interrogation room, Lester was getting ready to question their mole. Jess bounced up to him, looking as keen as ever. He couldn’t help but notice the innocent, butter-wouldn’t-melt expression on her face.
“What do you want, Jess?” Lester pre-empted her question.
“I was just thinking” she began.
“A first for anyone in this place” Lester interrupted.
“…how important it is to have loyal members of staff” Jess chose her words carefully, “As one of the most loyal, I assume you’ll be extremely grateful for some assistance from myself in the interview process?”
“Err, well” Lester tried to argue.
“Great! When do we begin?” Jess refused to take no for an answer. She knew exactly what buttons to press at this stage. Besides, she suspected Lester had a soft spot for her. Somewhere.
“Right away” Lester gave in, “With our mole. Have you noticed any suspicious activity?”
“None at all. I guess he’s good at his job” Jess commented.
“Also a first for anyone here” Lester remarked.
“Who are you?” Cutter asked the intruders. Abby and Connor kept quiet and let Cutter do the talking, but they were taking mental notes of the intruders. Of the group of three, two were female and one was male. All seemed to be in their twenties and were dressed casually. There were no weapons in view, although they each had a heavy-looking backpack. Before they had the chance to respond, they heard a hooting sound, much like that of a swan. Approaching from inside the trees, a dinosaur stuck its head out into the clearing, eyeing up the visitors.
“On the count of three, we run” Cutter whispered his order, “3…2…1.” Everybody ran their separate ways, with Abby leading Connor and Cutter back to the anomaly. However, as he was running, Cutter remembered the young boy. He had to go back for him – he owed it to his mum. Abby and Connor kept running, but Cutter turned back. The young lad had fallen over, so Cutter sprinted to him and scooped him up before the dinosaur could react.
“I’m gonna take you home to your mum” Cutter gently explained, as he helped the young lad to his feet. Together, they ran towards the anomaly. The dinosaur was hot on their heels, as it followed them through the trees and bushes. The anomaly inched closer and closer, as Cutter’s heart was beating faster and faster. The crunching of twigs below their feet was the only thing he could hear over his loud heartbeat. He sprinted through the anomaly, holding the boy’s hand and helping him through too.
“Lock it” he ordered to the group on the other side. Sarah had almost finished setting it up already, but had to add the last part.
“Sarah, now!” Cutter was impatient, knowing the impending arrival. Sarah pressed the enter button, and a zap of electricity sparked out at the anomaly. It shrunk into a closed ball shape, blocking the creature from following them just in time. Cutter let out a deep breath in relief.
“Who’s your friend?” Connor panted, he and Abby similarly out of breath.
“Tommy” the lad replied, “Can I see my mummy?”
“Come on sweetie, I’ll take you to her” Jenny responded, preparing a pep talk to give such a young boy about what he had just seen.
“What about the intruders?” Sam questioned.
“We saw them, but didn’t get a chance to interrogate. They could be anywhere by now, we don’t know how much they know” Connor mentioned.
“Back-up has just arrived, I’m sure they can retrieve them” Sarah noted.
“That’s not my worry. It’s the damage they might cause to history as we know it” Cutter reflected.
“I want to speak to a lawyer” the ARC soldier complained. His name was Johnny Edwards, he'd worked at the ARC for just over six months. Jess and Lester sat opposite in the interview room, while the CCTV cameras recorded every move and every word that he did.
“As an employee at the Anomaly Research Centre, you’ll be aware that what we do is above and beyond matters that the police deal with. You helped a stranger break into a top secret government facility” Lester diplomatically informed.
“Top secret might be pushing it” Edwards responded with a hint of arrogance.
“Something you want to say?” Lester prompted.
“No comment” he responded. Jess rolled her eyes. Lester had given her strict instructions to leave the talking to him, but she was prepared to speak up as and when necessary.
“Who is your friend?” Lester continued the interrogation. Edwards remained silent. Jess sighed. They weren’t getting anywhere.
“Interview terminated. Take him back to his cell” Lester gave in. One of his former colleagues escorted Edwards out.
“Well that went well” Lester commented once he’d left the room.
“He’s been instructed not to comment. This is more than just amateurs” Jess pointed out.
“Agreed. Anyway, we better interview our other special guest. I assume she’ll be just as fruitful” Lester rolled his eyes as he spoke.
With the unconscious creature sprawled on the grass in front of him, Connor was sat down. He had his laptop open and placed on his lap, looking through his highly detailed creature encyclopaedia.
“I think we’re in luck” he announced to the group, who were waiting patiently, “It looks like he’s a dilophosaurus. You were right, it’s from the Early Jurassic, and it’s pretty bad news as one of the largest carnivores of its time.”
“I think we’d better shift this guy back through” Cutter mentioned.
“Will it be safe? What if his friend is waiting on the other side?” Sam worried.
“We’ll cross that bridge if we come to it” Cutter responded, as cool as a cucumber. Almost on cue, the dilophosaurus opened one eye.
“Um, guys” Sam tried to warn as he spotted the eye observing him, “Time to think fast.” The dilophosaurus began to move more aggressively, standing itself up and letting out a loud hoot, as if to signify its arrival. Immediately, the team moved out of the way as the back-up soldiers began firing at it. Tranquiliser darts bounced off its reptilian skin, the right shot not arriving just yet. However, it was enough to scare the dilophosaurus off, and it sprinted off in the other direction. Cutter watched on, horrified, as he realised the potential damage this creature could do in a field that is open to the public...
The joy in Janet's face was heart-warming for Jenny. She had reunited with Tommy, and felt very overwhelmed. Tears of happiness slipped down her cheeks while she hugged her son tightly and warmly.
“Mum, it was so cool! I was in a jungle...” Tommy was explaining excitedly. Jenny had suggested he didn't tell all his friends about his experience, but he knew his mum would struggle to believe him anyway so opted not to intervene. Janet simply looked at Jenny, while Tommy was talking, and mouthed “thank you.” Jenny smiled a sincere smile, admiring the mother and son bond, just as she heard a loud hooting sound from behind her.
Oh dear, she thought to herself, before rushing back to the woodland area.
Round two of the interrogations, and Lester and Jess were now sat opposite the woman they had never seen before. This was more interesting for Jess, she was keen to know exactly who she was and where she came from, but considering Edwards' lack of co-operation, it was likely to be much the same here.
“Please state your full name” Lester began. Silence followed. She didn’t respond.
“What were you looking for when you broke into this government building?” Lester continued. Still no reply.
“Fair enough, you do indeed have the right to remain silent, but the sooner you start talking, the sooner we can get the ball rolling. You won’t be leaving until you start speaking” Lester spoke gently with a harsh undertone, as if he were threatening her.
“No comment” she replied arrogantly. Jess sighed. It was obvious that she’d been instructed not to say a word.
“Interview suspended” Lester concluded, feeling the same frustration as Jess. They both left the room, closing the door behind them.
“I guess it wouldn’t have taken a psychic to predict that outcome” Lester commented. Jess had a brainwave in that moment.
“We said they were professional, but just how professional? Maybe this is part of their plan? They haven’t lost yet” Jess pondered.
“How could they possibly do anything further? They’re under lock and key” Lester mentioned.
“They are, but how many more are there?” Jess queried.
“We’d better keep our eyes peeled” Lester agreed with her concerns. They glanced at the other soldiers positioned down the corridor. Any one of them could be a mole too. Lester was certain, though, that it would not be long before they expose themselves if so…
Puffing and panting, Connor sprinted in the opposite direction to the dilophosaurus. As strange as it felt to be moving away from the creature, he was running towards the car park. Jenny met him halfway.
“It’s woken up and on its way to the field” Connor notified her as they passed. Jenny nodded and pressed on her earpiece as she ran. He continued running until he reached the ARC jeep. He’d never opened the car door and slammed the key into the ignition so quickly. Starting the car up, Connor reversed out of the parking space and drove off.
“Jess, I need you now” Jenny panted, speaking into her earpiece as she reached the group.
“I’m here Jenny” Jess replied, as she arrived back to her desk.
“I need all flights cordoned off and all routes along the back entrance diverted. The creature is on the loose” Jenny commanded.
“On it now” Jess responded, as efficiently as always. Jenny reached the rest of the group.
“We need to evacuate the rest of the park” Cutter was straight to the point.
“I think it might be a bit late for that” Jenny noticed, as she peered through the branches of the trees that made up the woodland area. The creature was sprinting towards the large double gates that made up the back exit of the field. Thankfully, it was a large field, so they had time for Connor to reach it, but just in case, a contingency was needed.
“It was tranquilised, right?” Sam began to brainstorm, thinking and talking as fast as he could.
“Yes” Sarah responded, “Although I must have underestimated the dosage.”
“Side effects of being tranquilised include not thinking straight and confusion” Sam continued, putting his first aid training to use.
“What are you saying? It’s out of its mind?” Cutter was confused himself.
“It’s flustered. We need to calm it down” Sam explained.
“It needs a taste of home, this isn’t its natural habitat” Abby added.
“How do we go about getting that?” Jenny pondered.
“The anomaly” Sam added. I’ve got an idea. Sarah, can you unlock it?”
Speeding through red lights, Connor was in a state of panic. He tried his best to focus on the road in front of him, but adrenalin was racing through his body like never before. He knew he had to reach the gate on time, and the idea of a traffic jam was not remotely appealing. Annoyingly, the route he had to take was mostly made up of a busy main road. However, Connor used his so-called “government official” status to ignore the highway code. Either that, or Lester would have to pay the fine for him. He turned a final left, and was now just metres away from the gate. Diversion signs had been put up at the top of the road, so it was a clear path for Connor now, whizzing past just before the final cones were placed to block incoming traffic. He zoomed through the road, cruising along as the looming open gates came into view. The car grounded to a halt just outside as Connor slammed the brakes with a whirr from the car. He leapt out, just as he saw the dilophosaurus making eye contact with him. Connor sprinted to the gate, his legs barely touching the ground as he moved as fast as possible. He yanked on the metal bars that made up the tall, black back gates that securely sealed off the park from the main road adjacent. Connor pulled half of the gate shut, and reached for the other half. Closer and closer, the reptilian scales became clearer in Connor’s eyes. Connor slammed the gate shut and secured the chain linking both halves of the huge barrier. Just seconds later, the dilophosaurus slammed itself into the secured gate. It shook with its strength but did not budge.
While this was occurring, Cutter and Sam had stepped through the anomaly. All they had to do was find another creature – it wasn’t all that long ago that Cutter had ran away from one, so it had his scent. Hopefully it would sniff him out again and come running.
“What if this doesn’t work? What if it takes too long?” Sam worried, doubting his own plan.
“It won’t, be optimistic” Cutter reassured his teammate. Cutter led the way, knowing where he heard the creature before. Sam was in charge of the most important part. In his hand was his mobile phone, primed and ready on the record function. Dodging branches and greenery all around, Sam was amazed. It was the first time he’d set foot through the anomaly, and it was incredible. The idea of stepping into the past through a portal sounds ridiculous, and he hadn’t fathomed how it would feel to experience it. He was overwhelmed.
Impatient. Jenny paced around on the other side of the unlocked anomaly. Abby and Sarah were waiting with her, although their attention was focused more on the gate situation. As the dilophosaurus soared towards the gate, Abby’s heart raced as she willed Connor to reach it in time. Jenny was willing Cutter on in a similar way, hoping he returned sooner rather than later as there would only be so long they could contain such a creature.
Leading the way to the clearing he saw earlier, Cutter was both relieved and disappointed to find it empty. Relieved because any intruders would slow them down, and time was of the essence. Disappointed, however, because he wanted to know more about them. He hated the unknown, all questions needed answers. Part of being a scientist, he supposed. Even then, he’d been living with one of the biggest unexplained phenomena every day for the past ten years – the anomalies. Still he had no idea how they came to be. He worked daily to find out, but progress came at a snail’s pace. Disrupting his thought, he heard a familiar hooting sound. He was, for a change, relieved to hear such a noise. Usually it would terrify him, but not today.
“Now” Cutter commanded. Sam’s finger instantly pressed on the big red button on his phone screen. He had plenty of practice recording from his mobile phone, often when his favourite songs were playing in clubs and his drunken self couldn’t resist sending it on Snapchat. After a few seconds had passed, Sam stopped the recording and gave Cutter a gentle nod. Cutter began turning around, but was met with an angry looking face blocking the way. There the dilophosaurus was. Standing smugly across the pathway, eye-to-eye with Cutter.
“Cutter” Sam whispered. He was stood to the side of the creature, out of its eye-line, so he thought he’d better be quiet. Nevertheless, he had to get an important message across, “The anomaly’s closing.”
“Go!” Cutter commanded, “I’ll be fine.” Sam wanted to argue, but he looked back to his way home. The anomaly looked to be expanding and shrinking, faster and faster. He had to get back. Not only for his own sake, but for the sake of everyone else. This was his solution to the problem of the dilophosaurus on the other side of the anomaly. He had to go. Sam took his chance and sprinted to the anomaly, not looking back for a second. He pounced through, landing with a thump on the muddy ground on the other side of the anomaly. Just seconds later, it snapped shut. The doorway was closed. Any hope of returning the creature had gone, for the time being at least.
“Where’s Cutter?” Jenny asked, with a horrified look on her face.
“He told me to run” Sam responded, in shock too, but he turned his attention to the task at hand, “I’ve got the recording.”
Connor stood watching the creature through the heavy metal bars that separated them. He was in awe of its beauty. Every time he had the opportunity to see an extinct animal, he saw it as a privilege. Even if they did often try to eat him. The dilophosaurus was angry too. It kept bashing itself against the gate, and Connor knew it would only be interested in the gate for a limited period of time before it began looking for other routes out. It wasn’t calm, and if any of them wanted a perfect shot of tranquiliser, they needed it to calm down. He took his phone out and tapped on Abby’s name. She was at the top of his contacts lists, of course.
“It’s done” he confirmed when she answered the call.
“We’re on it, keep an eye out” Abby responded. She hung up after without a goodbye. Time was too precious for small talk. Throughout the call, Connor noticed the loud sound of engines whizzing and whirring. He took a glance beyond the creature, and saw the other large black ARC vehicle soaring across the field, skidding mud left, right and centre from underneath its chunky wheels.
Slamming his foot down on the accelerator, Sam was driving like he’d never driven before. Soaring across the large football pitch, he didn’t care about the damage he was undoubtedly doing. Abby was sat to his left, with the largest tranquiliser gun they could get in her hand, while Sarah and Jenny sat in the back. Sam kept going, feeling the adrenaline of the high speed bubbling in his veins. Metres away from the creature, he ground the car to a sudden halt. It was so harsh that Jenny and Sarah had to hold on for safety as the car screeched to a stop. Wasting no time, Sam sprung his car door open and plugged his phone into the auxiliary system. The dilophosaurus’ behaviour continued to be erratic. The arrival of the car unsettled it further. However, Sam’s quick fingers tapped on the play button of his recording, and he slid the volume dial on the car all the way up. Now blaring out of the car was Sam’s rough recording of the dilophosaurus’ hooting. Immediately, the creature calmed itself down, recognising the familiar sound of one of its own kind. It moved much less erratically, and stopped its sudden movements. Abby took her chance and fired a shot straight into its neck. Its movement slowed down entirely as the tranquiliser dose filtered into its system, and it collapsed into a heap on the floor, much to the relief of the team.
Within half an hour, the creature had been scooped up by the ARC soldiers and taken to the menagerie located within the ARC building. The team made their way back too, but their mood was not one of celebration. All of them were thinking about Cutter, or more specifically, worrying about him. None of them could stop themselves fearing the worst. Sam felt especially bad. He blamed himself – Cutter wouldn’t have gone through the anomaly if it weren’t for his recording idea.
As the team slumped back into the ARC, a cautious Jess approached them, sensing the mood.
“Hey, is everything alright with Cutter? I noticed his black box went offline right next to the anomaly” she naïvely asked. The team simply stared back, none of them knew the right words to use.
“Oh joy, one less person to pay” Lester remarked, emerging from his office.
not funny” a solemn Abby scolded.
“You’re right” Lester acknowledged, becoming more serious, “I’ve got the park on twenty-four-hour supervision in case the anomaly reopens. In the meantime, Jenny, you’re in charge.” Jenny nodded, acknowledging her new job but nevertheless not feeling happy about it.
“We will find him” Sarah said to Jenny, a source of comfort.
“I hope so” she responded, as a tear slid down her cheek.
“Also, we’re looking into our intruder situation, I assume Jess has brought you up to speed?” Lester continued. The team were muddled, sharing glances with each other.5
“We caught one of our own assisting an intruder in breaking in” Jess clarified, “No leads yet.”
“That’s funny, cause we saw three strangers through the anomaly” Connor noted. He’d almost forgotten in the craziness of everything else.
“Did you not reprimand them?” Lester interrogated.
“We didn’t get a chance, we were interrupted” Abby added.
“We need details right away, this rings major alarm bells. Jess, I demand a statement from everyone who stepped through the anomaly, I trust you can fulfil this for me” Lester ordered. Jess nodded, springing into action.
Meanwhile, in a barren warehouse, abandoned tools began to shake on the ground, as if there were an earthquake. The magnetic attraction caused by a newly opened anomaly, that had just sprung open, attracted them. The force overcame a wrench, which shot through the portal like a bullet. Emerging from the anomaly was a young man, with dirty blonde curly hair which was longer on top than on the sides. A woman followed him through, with loosely wavy long blonde hair which travelled half way down her back. A second woman pushed another man through. She had her dark hair tied up into a bun, and was in charge of looking after their prisoner – a man in his 40s, wearing handcuffs. She turned around once she’d stepped through. Holding a small black device in her hand, she pressed a couple of buttons and the anomaly snapped shut, calming the abandoned tools once again.
“Any news from Edwards yet?” the first girl interrogated.
“No sign” the man replied, checking his phone now he had signal back.
“If they’ve failed, at least we have plan B” the second woman noted. She looked at their prisoner.
“What’s your name then?” she queried.
“I’m Professor Nick Cutter” he replied in his thick Scottish accent, “Who the hell are you?”