Like The Dinosaurs

Like The Dinosaurs

Like The Dinosaurs by Patrick Nilan

Like the Dinosaurs is my sample entry for the Summer Fun Writing Contest. It is an emotional story about a mother navigating the end of the world with her son. If you enjoy my writing style feel free to read some of my other short stories. You can also follow my writing journey by subscribing to my email list or following my writing account on Instagram. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think about Like The Dinosaurs! I appreciate all feedback, even if it’s negative.

“Everyone, please return to your homes. The bunker has been sealed. There is no refuge for you here?”

The crowd gathered around the entrance to the underground bunker roared. This was madness. The military promised there would be enough space for everyone in the bunkers. For the crowd gathered around the barrier this was their only hope. There was nowhere else to turn.

Sally gripped her four-year-old son tight in her arms as he rested his head on her shoulders. This had to be a mistake. Her husband David was a soldier at the base and he promised she and little David Jr. would be allowed in. All soldiers were allowed to reserve spots for their families. Something was wrong, and she needed to figure it out fast. The asteroid would be making an impact on Earth’s surface within two hours. Unless she made it into the bunker she had no chance of survival.

The crowd was getting rowdier by the second. People were pushing and shoving as if trampling their way to the front of the line was going to win them a spot in the bunker. The quiet chatter amongst the crowd had become loud and boisterous. One man climbed up on a light post and began to taunt the soldiers. Others began to feed off that energy. The crowd became more hostile by the second, and Sally could not help but clench her son even tighter.

She checked that David Jr. still slept on her shoulder. It may have been the end of the world, but she did not want him to hear the awful things the crowd had to say. David Jr. was young, but the child showed a great deal of perception. It would break the boy’s heart to hear these people shouting all these slurs about his father, who he idolized.

Someone in the crowd shoved her in the back. She fell on one knee but she was able to pull herself back up, struggling to stabilize herself while holding on to . Sally had too. She had not come all this way to get trampled to death with her son in her arms.

“Selfish scum,” she heard a man scream. His words were followed by gasps. That surprised Sally. Compared to some of the other insults shouted, that one sounded relatively mild. Only when she turned did she see what had happened. The words themselves had not shocked the crowd.

One of the soldiers stationed amongst the crowd stood stunned holding his hand near his ear. Blood was dripping from underneath his helmet and onto his cheek, his fingertips, and the street he stood on. Sally stood too far away to see a wound, but seeing blood from a few dozen feet away showed the severity of his injuries. If it had been her husband she’d probably break down crying. This situation grew more dangerous by the second, for both the citizens and the soldiers alike.

She had no time to hold her hand over her mouth in shock like the other citizens. This momentary shock was her opportunity to get close to this soldier. If not incapacitated by the rock a chaotic citizen threw at him he could help her.

Wiping the blood from the side of his face the soldier stood tall once again and lifted his weapon. “Everyone stand back,” he hollered. “I’m armed and will defend my life .”

With those words, much of the quiet crowd erupted in anger towards the soldier. They saw a monster who would not hesitate to take innocent lives. 

Watching his hands shake as he held the weapon with his eyes darting back and forth across the crowd with fresh blood coating the side of his face, Sally saw a different picture. She saw a younger, more terrified version of the man she loved trembling in his uniform. These soldiers were not evil, they were doing a job. More importantly, it was a necessary job. More people were surrounding the barrier for the bunker than she had ever seen in her life. It would take an absurdly large underground bunker to fit them all even if they all stood back to back, and that did not even put resources into consideration. If the bunker became overwhelmed with people surely everyone would meet their demise when the asteroid hit.

Reaching the soldier she found a five-foot radius separating him from the rest of the crowd, and that radius appeared to be shrinking fast. Aggressive citizens began to step forward, pointing towards the soldier and daring him to fire upon them. “Do it you pussy,” one man hollered making a fist at the young bleeding soldier. “You can’t kill us all,” a woman screamed. 

Sally stroked her son’s head. “Sir,” she called out to the soldier in a tone that stood out from the rest. “Please, sir. We need your help.”

“Everyone stand back,” he called out again. “There is nothing I can do. You heard the Major. The bunkers are full.”

A dime struck the soldier in the helmet. “There’s no space for us, but there is plenty of room for your pigs and your friends,” the man who threw it shouted.

“Please,” the soldier cried out. “There is nothing for you here. Please look for refuge elsewhere.” It would have been better if he’d kept his mouth shut. Every word the young soldier spoke only agitated them further.

A woman trying to get in the soldier’s face threw an elbow that hit David Jr. in the head. He abruptly awoke and began to cry. His cries were loud enough to catch the soldier’s gaze. It was the opportunity Sally needed. “My husband,” she hollered. “He is a lieutenant. I must find him.”

Now she had the young man’s attention. He reached into the crowd and pulled her towards him. The jerk forward upset David Jr. further as he began to scream, but Sally began to rock him gently up and down with what strength she had left to soothe him. “I need a name ma’am,” the soldier cried out, shoving an extremely aggressive man from the crowd forward with the muzzle of his rifle.

“Lieutenant David R. Shultz. I am his wife and this is his son David Jr.” she hollered. Even inches away, it was hard to project her voice over the crowd. “We were told the families of the soldiers could seek shelter in the bunker.”

The soldier looked at her for a long moment. She could not tell if he was searching his memory for Lieutenant David R. Shultz or if he was judging her face to sense a lie. It did not matter. He nodded, and she knew he would help.

“The bunkers are almost at capacity,” he shouted back. “You two should have been lowered in already. I can escort you to the vault door now.”

Before she could thank him a man threw his cellphone at the soldier, clipping him on the breastplate. It seemed like a strange item to throw, but at the dawn of the apocalypse, a cell phone did not hold the same value anymore. The only thing worth anything was a spot in the bunker. “You liars said the bunker was sealed.” He must have overheard.

The soldier turned towards the bunker and stepped towards the crowd, gesturing for Sally to follow closely behind him. “We need to move, now.”

The soldier took a wide stance and began to lead Sally and her son through the crowd. “Step back,” he hollered. “Clear a path, now,” he hollered as he worked through the crowd like a drill.

With each step, the crowd became more dense and difficult to penetrate through. An elbow flew high at the soldier, but he kept moving forward. A rock the size of a fist flew at them missing short and hitting a poor woman in the head. She instantly fell to the ground with a thud, collapsing down into a pool of her blood.

Sally looked away and focused on the man’s back straight ahead. She wished she could stop and help the woman, but she had no choice. The world was ending and this was her son’s only hope of survival. 

They were about twenty yards away from the barrier when a man stood tall in front of the soldier. “Please clear a path,” the soldier commanded. For most of the people crowded around that was enough of a warning to back off. This man, however, stood tall. When the soldier stepped forward he pushed him back. 

“Sir, I will not ask again,” the soldier warned. This time the man stepped forward and cracked the soldier in the face with his fist. Everything after that seemed to happen in slow motion. First she noticed the blood dripping from the soldiers nose. The soldier raised the gun and the muzzle lit up, spitting bullets into the man’s chest. The life instantly left the man’s eyes as he collapsed to the ground, almost floating in his own blood.

It was chaos. There were shrieks from the crowd. There was no turning back now.

David Jr. began to sob. Fortunately, he had faded away from the murder but the sound of the gun must have pierced his ears. Members of the crowd charged at the soldier, who opened fire. Several other shots rang out and with that, Sally saw her and her son’s final chance of survival fade away.

She darted away from the gunfire as the mob closed in. The crowd lunged at the soldier who had tried to escort her and her son to the barrier. After a few moments, the gunshots stopped, but the roars from the crowd were as loud if not louder. Sally refused to look, but she had a strong gut feeling the soldier had been beaten to death. If this mob did not settle down he would not be the only one.

Trying to shield her son from the boisterous crowd she tried to stand up on her toes for a glimpse of her husband. She reached for her phone to send a desperate message to him, only for it to be swatted away by a wild forearm from the crowd. Within seconds of the phone dropping to the floor, it had been trampled. She did not even consider bending down to recover it. David Jr. and her merely would have been trampled with it. 

“Step away from the barriers immediately,” a soldier in one of the watchtowers called out in a microphone. The desperate crowd shook the barricade back and forth with so much force it was about to crumble. Then, when the moment could not get any more tense a citizen fired a firework at one of the soldiers. 

The fireworks were met with a wave of gunfire. Hundreds of guns fired bullets into the crowd, with bodies falling in waves.

It was a horrific sight, but no news helicopters would be flying in to take pictures. Why would they? The end of the world had begun.

Within moments the area around the bunker has devolved into a war zone. Everywhere people were screaming, bleeding out, and crying for help that would not come. Sally’s ears had gone numb from all the gunshots and shouting. Teargas and smoke filled the air, making it almost unbearable to breathe. Just keeping her eyes open burned.

Some extremists in the crowd pulled out weapons and began to wreak havoc. These people never intended to reach the bunker. Nobody with a weapon would have been let in. Sally held her son’s head tight as she watched a man pull out a pistol and violently shoot a woman point-blank in the face for no logical reason. The apocalypse was upon them.

It would have been easy to stay amongst the chaotic crowd and just wait for death there, but she couldn’t let that happen. Sally knew her only option for survival now that the bunker could not be reached depended on the scientist being wrong. Any hope of that faded when the sky went up in flames. 

Momentarily everything stopped, as everyone took a second to look up above. Even though the smoke you could see the red streak illuminate the entire night sky. 

The burning sky acted as the perfect distraction. As some people stopped to look up at the sky and pray or just marvel at its fiery beauty, Sally worked her way out of the crowd. With no hope of getting into that bunker, they had no reason to stay around that horrific scene. This bloody riot was no place to die. 

Escaping the crowd was so much easier than pushing towards the bunker. Once she and her son maneuvered their way out the night instantly felt cooler. The crowd had been packed so tight it felt like an oven. The flaming sky only made it hotter, but she was almost certain that was in her head. 

As she ventured away from the bunker, she did not see another person. Everyone remained hopeful, crowding around the bunker for a desperate hope of survival. They would tear each other apart, fighting to be the last person to earn a spot. 

“Mommy, where are we going?” David Jr. asked. 

Sally cradled him. “I want to show you something,” she said. “The place where I and Daddy had our first date.”

The walk was only a few minutes. Despite the reaction of the crowd when the sky turned red, there was still some time before the asteroid hit. According to some of the scientists, the fiery sky indicated the impact would occur within the hour.

Living with the knowledge that certain death was a mere hour away felt surprisingly dull for Sally. Perhaps the months in advance from the initial sighting of the asteroid lessened the blow, or maybe she simply did not care about her fate anymore. While shorter than she once hoped she had lived as a child, she had lived a great life. It may not have been perfect, but she built a beautiful family with a man she loved and gave birth to the perfect little boy. A boy that would never receive the chance to grow up and build a life of his own. A boy who would meet his end before he reached his fifth birthday.

She put that boy down as they arrived at the cliff by the beach. “Here we are David,” she said. He must have been restless from hanging over her shoulder for so long because the moment she put him down he began to run around and play. 

“Careful baby,” she called out as he went to pick up a rock by the ledge. Even as the apocalypse loomed minutes away, she could not help but watch out for the well-being of her son. 

With a sigh she kicked off her shoes and sat on the ledge, hanging her feet off the cliff. The cool summer breeze almost let her escape the thought of what fate awaited them in a few minutes. She took a moment to look up at the burning sky, and gaze upon the twinkling stars beyond it. Sally wished she had spent more time looking up at the stars. While cruel, the universe also held much beauty. 

It also puts the end into perspective. The vast size of the universe can make humanity feel insignificant. It was a perspective that she wished she could bestow upon her son, but at age four he was not ready to comprehend a complex idea like the universe. He had begun asking about the finality of death around the time the news started covering the asteroid. He must have heard it on the news. Minutes before the end it put a smile on her face to see there was no sense of worry on his face.

He ran up to her and held up a clamshell. “Look Mommy,” he exclaimed. “It is for you!”

“Thank you, David,” she said, smiling as she picked up the shell in her hands. White with smooth edges and no cracks, the shell reminded her of everything of beauty on Earth. If only he would reach the day where his kids could find him seashells at the beach.

“Do you like it,” he asked, throwing himself down beside her. 

She quickly pulled him a bit further from the ledge of the cliff. “I love it,” she said with a warm voice. “Thank you, baby,” she added, kissing him on the forehead. She kept her arm around her boy, holding the shell in the other.

He looked up at the sky in wonder. “Where is Daddy?” he asked. “I want him to see the sky too.”

Sally looked out at the horizon, watching how the burning sky reflected off the ocean’s waves. How could something so destructive be so beautiful? “Daddy did everything he could to be with us. He is thinking about us right now.” She held back a tear. There was no need to cry in front of David Jr. 

There was no way for her to know if her husband lived and entered the bunker. That one soldier had died, and events back by the bunker were trending in the wrong direction. She wanted her husband to be in the bunker. He deserved the chance to live and carry on their memories. Still, she could not help but wish he was beside her. She would do anything to embrace him one last time. Perhaps they would meet again in a few minutes as they entered the next life.

David Jr. tugged on her shirt to take her attention away from the fiery sky’s reflection over the ocean. “Mommy, what is happening?”

His eyes sparkled as he looked up with confused wonder. How could she lie to that face?

She looked back up at the warm night sky as she thought of her response. How could you brace a four-year-old for the end of the world without frightening them? 

“You see how the sky is all red sweetie,” she said pointing up. David Jr. looked up and smiled. “It is because a big rock that is falling towards us. Bigger than any rock you have ever seen.”

David Jr. thought for a moment, playing with a pebble with his little fingers. “Like the Dinosaurs,” he exclaimed.

Sally nodded, taken back by the response. She had raised such a smart boy. “Just like the dinosaurs,” she said, affirming him, trying her best not to let out a tear. He loved dinosaurs. They were all over his last Christmas list. “Do you know what happened to the dinosaurs when the big rock hit the planet?”

He scratched his little head. “They went distinct.”

She ruffled up his hair. “The word is extinct, silly,” she teased. He made it so easy to forget what was coming.

“Are we gonna go, extinct Mommy?”

The question was tricky to answer. David Jr. probably meant are we going to die by that question. In that sense, the two of them would go extinct. However, this asteroid did not necessarily mean the end of humanity. It could, however. The bunkers provided hope that humans would emerge from this disaster, but it was only hope. The odds predicted they too would crumble. This asteroid would hit the planet hard enough to sculpt new continents and evaporate oceans. It made atomic bombs look like mere sparks. All humans could do was hope. Hope one bunker somewhere on Earth would survive and continue the history of mankind.

If not perhaps a new species, millennia later would discover their fossils just like the dinosaurs. This species children would wonder about humans, just like David Jr. marveled over the dinosaurs.

Before she could answer David Jr. there was an ear-piercing boom, which made the gunshots she had heard earlier sound soft. She held David Jr. tightly as the ground began to shake. It took all her strength to keep them from falling off the ledge. It was the most powerful force of nature she had ever felt. Ledges of the surrounding cliffs crumbled into the ocean as if they were made of crackers.

“Mommy, I’m scared,” David said, gripping her tight.

She tightened her grip around him. Looking up the once calm summer waves now loomed over them like a skyscraper. “Me too,” Sally admitted as the tsunami wave crashed down on them.

Author: Patrick Nilan

Just a young writer looking to take the mistakes I've made to aid the next generation.

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