“But you’ve studied the procedure. You know it backwards and forwards. I know you do. You can do it, Doc. I know you can.”
Doc looked down at Jamal’s bleeding body, then quickly turned away. “I know the theory. But I’ve never done it.” Her eyes turned to me. She was trying to hide behind the role of doctor now. “It’s not a good idea to try something for the first time on a living person.”
“Well, if you don’t, he won’t be living much longer.” I knew it was harsh when I said it, but it needed to be said. I didn’t like talking to her like that, but I had no choice Jamal was dying and she needed to get over her fears. She needed to get over her reluctance and realize we had no other choice.
Jennifer nodded, surprisingly not angry at me. “OK. Let’s say that I agree to this. Where are you going to get Jamal another body?” I pointed into the jungle. “There are no human bodies in there. There are no MAMMAL bodies in there that are anywhere near big enough.”
“I know. That’s why I wasn’t planning on getting him a mammal body.”
She did a doubletake. “You want to put his brain in the body of a dinosaur?”
“You’ve got a better idea?” I asked. “Or ANY alternatives for that matter?”
“No,” she replied sourly. “And just how do you expect to get a dinosaur? They’re not exactly going to volunteer.”
“Easy.” I raised my pistol. “I’m going to shoot it.”
Doc stared at the gun as if it were going to explode. I didn’t wait for her to reply and I didn’t have the time. Jamal didn’t have the time. As I neared the treeline, she called out, “Remember to bring it back alive.” I nodded, but the way she looked at me gave me the impression she wasn’t a 100% behind this plan.
Because of my current body’s bulk, stalking prey was not an option. My best choice was to make myself a blind and use the T-rex as bait. It took more than half an hour for the first dinosaur to appear, but they were much too small, little chicken-sized things, so I had to let them go. After a while, I saw a pack of triceratops and considered taking one of them, every second I waited counted, but I chose against it. Jamal would want something with arms. But if something viable didnt come soon, I wouldn’t be able to be so picky. I would have to just go with whatever I could get. Jamal can just be mad at me that I chose to save his life.
I was getting anxious, ready to just give up. It was taking much too long, but then I saw it. It was perfect: a raptor. As it came into my sights, I fired, the gun did most of the real work. Just like the T-rex had, the creature collapsed instantly. I had adjusted the power levels because I didn’t want to kill it. I had been worried I might have lowered it too much. Now, I was worried I hadn’t lowered it enough. I rushed out to retrieve it before any scavengers could get to it. I immediately got to my knees and tried to check its vitals. I didn’t have time to be cautious. If the raptor had just been stunned, I would be open to an attack. I know that, but I didn’t care. For once things seemed to be looking up, the dinosaur didn’t move and it still seemed to be alive.
I grabbed the raptor by its tail and started dragging. It was a heavy bastard and I was not at my strongest. It took all my effort to make the body move, that’s why I wasn’t paying attention. That is why I didn’t notice the rest of the animal’s pack. The first jumped out of the bushes, surprising me. I tripped over my own feet and fell to the ground, causing the raptor to narrowly miss me as it ran past claws extended. The second one didn’t run. I was already on the ground. All it had to do was walk up to me. It hissed at me as it came closer. I instantly thought of my gun, but I had lost it when I tripped. The raptor was standing over me now, showing its teeth. I desperately looked for my gun. It slowly leaned over, ready to snap, when I finally located my gun. it was just inches away. I dove, twisting as I fell.
The raptor’s first bite was of nothing, where my head no longer was. It’s second wasn’t going to miss. I fell on my back. The raptor moved quickly, making sure I wasn’t going anywhere, but the gun was in my hands as I raised it. The dinosaur bit down on it and I pulled the trigger.
The raptor collapsed a across my legs. I yelped from the pain, then caught my breath as I saw the first one return. The gun was still in my hand, but it was also in the raptor’s mouth. I pulled at the gun, but it was stuck. The dinosaur’s jaws were locked on it. The raptor was over me now. I couldn’t move. The unconscious dinosaur had me pinned down. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t fight. There was nothing I could do!
Suddenly, there was a loud thump. The creature looked up to see what the strange sound was. I had no idea, but whatever it was must’ve scared the raptor because it ran away. What could scare a dinosaur? I wondered. The answer seemed obvious: a bigger dinosuar. Well at least this way I’d be eaten faster. One big bite and then it would be over.
But it was no a dinosaur. Of course, it wasn’t. Nothing in my life could be so obvious, not even my death. Trapped in the prehistoric ages, I was somehow being stalked by an evil looking robot. As it extended its hand toward me, I knew that this was the end. There was nothing I could do to stop it.
But instead of crushing my skull or frying my brain, the robot grabbed the prone dinosaur and moved it off my legs. I laid their, confused but cautious as it reached for me. This wasn’t a death blow either. Instead, it raised me to my feet.
“ALAN?” I asked.
The vaguely human-shaped robot nodded.
After scanning them, ALAN picked up the raptor he thought was best. With the dinosaur in his hands, I hopped on his back and we flew us back to where Doc was waiting. While I was away, ALAN had been able to reboot the Jotun body and transform its metamorphic metal into a makeshift intensive care unit. Jamal’s broken orangutan body was lying on a bed, hooked up to a lifesupport machine. Jennifer was watching the monitors carefully. She didn’t look happy when I arrived. “He’s not doing well. I don’t know how much longer I can keep him alive.”
“Then you need to operate,” I told her. “I brought you a new body. Now, you need to put his brain in it.”
Jennifer glared at my angrily. Then slowly she let it slip. “You really want to do this? Put him in that body? Without asking him?”
“Can we ask?” I replied. “Can we wake him up? Do we have any other choices?” Jen shook her head, sadly. “Then,” I said, “we have to do it.”
Jennifer nodded. Under her instructions ALAN created a sterile room for her to operate in. She in and Jamal disappeared with it, as I sat outside and waited. It was a long arduous process, but when it was done it appeared to be a success. Jennifer had transported Jamal’s brain into the raptor’s body. “Now all we can do is wait.”
There was nothing else to say, so I moved on to the next issue. I pointed to the dead orangutan body. “What are we going to do with that?”
Jennifer shrugged. “Bury it?”
I had been able to think of no better idea. Using the body in any manner seemed obscene. Though it wasn’t the body Jamal was born with, I had grown to think of it as his. To treat it as just meat was impossible. Burying it seemed like the only other choice, so that was what we did.
While we dug, ALAN searched the area for a safe place to set up camp. He found a nearby cave and we all relocated over there. Jamal did not wake up. As Jennifer watched over his new body, I took ALAN with me to get food and water. ALAN used his sensors to locate a stream. When we returned, I checked in with Jennifer to see how Jamal was doing. “I don’t know,” she replied. “We won’t know anything for sure until her wakes up. But that’s not what’s worrying me right now.”
“No?” I asked, wondering what could possibly be concerning her more than Jamal. “What is?”
“You, Frank. What are we going to do about you instability out here?”
to be continued…