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Spring 2011 Writing Contest Winners
"A Touch of Spring"
by Paya (#2473)

The winter was brutal for the escaped dinosaurs that roamed the island's high plateaus and mountains. Lacking the enclosures that kept their domestic cousins comfortable in the snow and howling wind, they scratched for shelter in exposed rock. The farm-bound dinosaurs grew fat on newly-engineered herds herbivores. The wild dinosaurs starved. They hunted small birds and mammals and, failing that, each other.

It was a hard life. Many of them died as the cold and snow deepened. But it was their life, and they clung fiercely to it. No longer would they be fed when they'd prefer to hunt, or forced to run circles in a show ring. They were free, and freedom tasted of cold and hunger, hot blood in the mouth, the feathered warmth of a mate pressed close while storms raged.

The escaped pair of red-banded black Deinonychus were too large to burrow after hibernating rodents the way the smaller carnivores did. Their sickle claws, perfect for tearing the hides off larger beasts, were useless for digging. Their coloring worked against them, making them highly visible in a featureless white landscape, easy prey for a hunting Allosaurus. To survive, they had to adapt.

They learned new hunting techniques. One would flush game toward the waiting other. They never slept at the same time, or in the same place twice. They were fast enough to outrun the big carnivores who hunted them; they ran often. Their coal-black skins tightened around their bones. Muscle, tough and scarred by the accidents of daily living, rippled through hide with no fat layer to soften it.

The male's feathers were longer, his tail banded with red from base to tip. The female was darker overall, with short, dense feathers and a tail that looked as if she'd dunked the tip into a bucket of red paint. As they hunted in the night, the male followed her tail like a bloody beacon. During the day, he curled around her for warmth beneath the bole of a snow-laden pine or a shallow cave. His head rested on her flank when it was his turn to watch. When it was her turn, she did the same.

They were smart, they were free, they were together; wild things in a wild place, as happy as such creatures could be.

In early February, there was a brief thaw. The mountain slopes filled with the sound of water. Hibernating animals awoke briefly to scrounge for food. For a few days, hunting was good. The Deinonychus caught a lone deer and dragged it to to the ledge of a shallow cave they'd found, high above the treeline. The deer was thin and tough, but its hot flesh filled their bellies for the first time in weeks. Licking blood from his lips, the male glanced up over the carcass and saw her silhouetted against the stars. She turned her head to regard him, eyes large in her fine head. He went to her, sickle claws clicking on stone. They made the night their own, surrounded by the trickle and roar of life-giving water.

All too soon, the weather turned bitter and deep. The joys of the thaw were forgotten in the urgency of survival. The pair were forced to risk raiding garbage dumps in the valley. One night, a bullet nicked the male's hindquarters. He left a trail of blood in the snow as they escaped back into the hills. They did not go into the valley again.

The male's wound healed but left him with a limp. They moved to steeper places where the footing was too precarious for the bigger dinosaurs to climb up after them. They were always hungry. The female grew irritable and restless. She scratched deep grooves through ice and rock, and snapped at him whenever he came near. Then she hunkered down in her trench and refused to move. He watched her in silence. Every night, he limped down the slopes to hunt. On a good night, he brought back game. Good nights were rare. He let her eat first. She left him the stinking entrails.

Days stretched to weeks. One night, he didn't return. She waited, a motionless dark hulk, enduring the fitful wind. Daylight came, cold and grim and lonely. She ate snow to quench her burning thirst.

He came back on the fourth day, staggering over the rise. She rose from her trench and went to him. His black hide was shredded by claws larger than his own. Blood mixed indistinguishably with his red banding. But there was a rabbit in his mouth, which he dropped at her feet. He touched his nose to her cheek, tenderly, before he died.

She stood silent over him. Hunger was a gnawing that consumed her. She picked up the rabbit and carried it over to the trench she'd made. Then she curled around her mate, as he had so often done to keep her warm that winter, and allowed loss and starvation to carry her after him.

True spring came less than a week later. Snowmelt rushed to spread green among the valleys. Sun and warm air kissed the mountain's flanks. Moss grew out of crevices. Most of the wild dinosaurs that had survived the winter were recaptured.

A man came alone to the Deinonychus' ledge one morning, clutching a bouquet of wildflowers for his wife. He stopped when he saw the entwined corpses, their devotion apparent even in death. A swath of wildflowers grew in a trench near them. The man knelt to pick some and saw, nestled amid the blossoms, three mottled eggs. The man glanced behind him at the ruined bodies, then back at the nest. Without picking a single flower or disturbing the eggs, he rose and went quietly down the mountain.

He wasn't long out of sight when the eggs began to stir in their fragrant bed. A wet crack hailed the appearance of the first tiny, fierce head, coal black and streaked with red, just like its parents.
Post: #133907
Fluffy white clouds drifted lazily across a blue sky. A warm spring breeze whispered across Exhibited. Everything smelled fresh. The grass was beginning to perk up and turn greener. Buds were forming on the spindly branches of trees. Soon they would no longer look like gnarled fingers, but leafy fans. The ground was soaked with mud and puddles, but at least the snow was gone. The road was very quiet. On the mucky shoulder, there were little indents. Three toes, each with a curved claw on the end. But they were very tiny. Probably from nothing big.

An enclosure on the opposite side of the road loomed, casting a shadow from the sun at its zenith. The metal door was swung out and gaping. In the distance, there was the happy chatter of a young dinosaur.

A Velociraptor was trotting along the side of the dirt road. She was a dark navy blue with brown-pink markings. Her elongated snout turned this way and that, blazing gold eyes darting around. There was so much to see. She'd never been outside her enclosure before. She knew she shouldn't be. But as long as nobody caught her, then what did it matter? Birds were perched in the bare looking trees, screeching alarm calls at her. They knew what happened when dinosaurs got too close. But the young Velociraptor didn't care. She was drinking in the scents, trying to figure out where to go next. A tattered brown leather collar was clasped around her neck by a faded yellow buckle. A worn circular tag hung off the end. Scratched into the metal was the name 'Miss Reaper'.

Miss suddenly jolted upright. Wind played with the feathers along her back and head, making them dance around. Her pupils had shrunk to fierce little slits. A small growling chirp rippled up from her throat. Something smelled strange. Sweet and musty at the same time. Long arms brought to her chest in a classic raptor pose, she began to jog forwards, straying off the beaten path and into dense forest.

She followed the smell for a while. It was getting stronger the deeper she went. She was locked into the hunt now, sure that whatever she was tracking must be food. Finally, reaching a silent and shrouded glen, she saw her prize. A little animal was snuffling around, too engrossed at digging something up from the earth to notice her quiet presence. It had mocha brown fur that seemed to give off a warm glow, and from what Miss could tell, beady eyes. Was it edible? Its shape resembled that of the delicious meat her owner would toss into her enclosure. So it must've been food. Dipping her head, she began to creep forwards, eyes never wavering from the rabbit. She was very close, just about to pounce, when her clawed foot snapped a twig. The rabbit's long ears pricked to alertness as it rose onto its hind paws, looking around cautiously. The Velociraptor's cover was blown. Miss gave a snarl of annoyance, lurching towards the rabbit. It saw her just in time, turning tail and streaking away. Miss hared after it with a cry.

The rabbit went bounding along the dirt road as soon it reached the edge of the forest. Miss came exploding after it, her body shattering fragile twigs and crunching on delicate stems of new flowers. She lowered her big slashing claw to the ground and dug in for traction, racing after the rabbit. She felt angry, letting it get away like that. The rabbit seemed to be toying with her, somehow managing to go even faster. It continued along the road. When Miss was starting to wonder where it was going, they both suddenly emerged in a bustling area. There was a river and many buildings. Humans were walking around, several of them leading older raptors on leashes. Some of them turned to look at Miss, muttering, but the Velociraptor didn't care. She continued to follow the rabbit. It started to make huge leaps, clearing large patches of ground easily. Miss had to be careful not to hit humans as she was running. The rabbit led her on a chase. Winding between buildings, running under humans, zigzagging and changing direction suddenly. Miss was starting to feel tired and was amazed the rabbit wasn't feeling the same. Of course, she didn't know it was a rabbit. Just food.

They soon left civilization behind, trekking through a smaller forest and coming out on another dirt road. Miss was really feeling sluggish now, and thirst burned her throat like a lick of fire, but determination overpowered her brain telling her to stop. The rabbit, miraculously, was still buzzing with energy. It finally slid to a halt, turning to face its raptor pursuer. Miss was overwhelmed with hunger and willpower. She coiled her back legs and sprung at the rabbit, extending her hooked claws to snag it. Last second, the rabbit shuffled right. Miss landed awkwardly on the slippery grass, stumbling forwards a few steps and then faceplanting in the mud. She sat up indignantly, shaking her head with vigor and blinking her eyes to clear them. Wait a second...

That ball over there looked familiar. So did that crooked tree. And come to think of it, once she snorted the mud out of her nostrils, it smelled familiar as well. There was a thunk behind her, then a metallic clink. She craned her neck and turned around. There was a human standing there, looking very amused.

"Had fun, did we?" She asked the young Velociraptor.

Miss chirped and tried to look innocent, tipping her head sideways. This human was her owner. That four-legged furry thing had led her back home. She walked towards the side of the enclosure, casting a worn out glance through the metal bars, being careful not to let the electricity coursing through them zap her. The brown rabbit was standing there. Its whiskers twitched in what might have been a smile.

By Puzzling #1692
Post: #133908
A brilliant sun, fiery and orange, slowly set across a vast sea who's beach she slowly ambled along. It's sands were pleasant under her three-toed feet and she left a tale-tale record of her passing. Darkness would soon come upon her world, a world she'd known all her life. One thing she could always depend on was the sun setting, the waters lapping upon the shore and a touch of spring. Tharonyx wasn't always sure of the sun rising, her one fault which gave her pause to reflect. Even though she was one of the more brilliant minds of this dinosaurian world she didn't reflect for long, other pressing matters needed her attention. It had been nearly twelve settings since she set out in search of a mate, hope of a continuing future. Tharonyx was in her prime and it was time.
Suddenly there was a flash of light, not brief, but brilliant, dare say even more than her familiar sun. The light was blinding and all enveloping, but like the sun made no noise. Tharonyx could only stand there blinking madly to the south. Everything in her being told her to hide, but her brain wanted answers. So she stood transfixed, until the shockwave hit and then a sharp pain followed by instantaneous, total blackness.
"Strange, her mind raced, I'm in my egg. I think this is my egg?" Tharonyx fought to understand. "But how can that be?" The sensations she experienced was that of floating, and surrounded by a dim but familiar fiery orange. Memories began flooding her consciousness. Fear should have ruled the moment, but not for her. She felt safe and warm, likened to the time of her hatching. So she tried to hatch, but Tharonyx's efforts were for not. This was not an egg and she didn't have an egg tooth. In fact, upon close examination within her dim confines she discovered she was quite developed. She flexed her three clawed hand in front of her face.
Again there was a sudden flash of light followed quickly by sounds of explosions. Her containment burst, spilling Tharonyx, fluids, and tangle of veins, upon a cold floor. Looking back for but second, she saw the oddest of eggs, shattered but clear, with symbols upon it "Subject: RR Exhibited TROODON", but this meant nothing to her. Another explosion triggered Tharonyx into immediate action, no time to think, just move. Everywhere was smoke, heat, and a continuous wailing. She prepared for darkness but instead escaped, bursting into daylight, blasts continuing behind. Ahead lie a dense stand of trees and short brushes, she made quick use of the situation and disappeared within its shadows. There in its cover she would learn quickly of her new world.
A brilliant sun, fiery and orange, slowly set across a vast sea. Tharonyx stood upon the beach which she discovered just beyond the forest. It's sands were pleasant under her three-toed feet, familiar, comforting, yet she was aware of the differences. The air, heavy, took sometime to get use to, and the plants, strange, flowering, but beautiful. Darkness would soon come upon her world, a world, she'd had know for only a short time. She could always depend to the setting sun, the waters lapping and...and...her mind went blank. "Something..." Tharonyx applied her brilliant mind to the task, but got nowhere. Reflecting upon her memories only made things worse. She felt something inside drawing her out of her contemplations, she had to complete something, something important.
Tharonyx was just about to leave the beach when a bizarre creature appeared moving toward her. It's eyes glowing and voicing in low tones. Odd, it carried three other creatures. She watched, unmoving, as it approached. The beast stopped, a long continuous line of tracks behind. She should of retreated but it was too late, the three creatures, large, upright, and smelling of mammal, pounced skillfully and ensnared her. What soon followed Tharonyx could hardly keep up with. It was a blur of being crated, transported, poked with lightning-tipped sticks, crated again, long confines in darkness. She was stabbed numerous times, probed, weighed, and then forced into an enclosure with other of her own...kind?
Tharonyx was not welcome, she was different, and the other Troodons made sure she knew this every chance they got. Especially hard on her were the other females which she seemed to fight with constantly. She was paired off with a rather fit, handsome male, a companion she could work with. Had it not been for this, a rigorous training schedule and metered feeding, she probably wouldn't have survived. It was only when she discovered she was more wild and brighter than the others that she began to press her advantage. Her handlers noted this and encouraged it especially in the battle arena, but her wild rage caused battles to be cut short just at the moment she went for the killing attack. A jab of lightning her reward for winning a battle.
She was back in the paddock brooding, licking her wounds, when she made her mind to escape. Tharonyx had watched the mammalian handlers operate the main gates and feeding doors. It was easy to mimic them and in the darkness two Troodon would go missing. Only the shadows of the forest knew them and they keep secrets well. Within the canopy the two spent their days, hunting, stealing, constantly on the move. She was in her prime and her companion made good his advantage. However, it was only a matter of time when they were discovered. Tharonyx was brilliant, strong and fast. She had learned not to dwell when handlers were about, but her mate hadn't learned these lessons and died accidently while avoiding capture.
Tharonyx was alone again, in a strange world. A brilliant sun, fiery and orange, slowly setting. Within a hidden nest, she lay down upon her clutch. Left with only a hope for the future, and a touch of spring.

By PostWarSalvage #146
Post: #133909
A Touch of Spring
by CB #1978

Frolicking among the flowers, an Utahraptor and Graciliraptor raced. Expertly they jumped through the meadows, calling back and forth to each other. Their bright colors matched the flowers surrounding them. Soon they began to speed up, racing through out of the meadow and into the dark trees. Their calls became fainter and fainter as they drifted apart. Finally, they couldnt hear each others calls at all.

Suddenly a loud snap sounded through the entire forest, followed quickly by a loud cry of distress from the Graciliraptor. Alarmed, the Utah paused in his flight. As suddenly as hed stopped, he took off again, this time in the direction of the Graciliraptor. Caught in a cage, she paced. Upon seeing the Utah, she called longingly to him.

Using every ounce of strength he had, the Utah rushed the cage, his large middle claw on his foot striking the metal again and again. But to no avail. Sensing there was no hope of getting his friend out, the Utah pressed his nose against the bars of the cage, touching noses with the Graciliraptor.

Laughing voices called out through the forest breaking the silence, and the Utah turned rapidly from the cage to face them. Out of the dark confines of the forest came a group of four men, approaching the trapped dinosaur with tranquilizers.

Oh man, looks like she brought a friend. One of the men mentioned, staring with fear at the mighty Utah in front of them. With one step, the Utah placed himself between the men and the cage, roaring furiously at the men. The men flinched. Shakily, one of the men put his tranquilizer gun to his shoulder, aiming it at the mighty beast in front of them. As he stared down the scope he looked into the Utahs eyes. In there, he saw all the fear and love this Utah had at that moment. Love for his friend, and fear of man. Slowly, he dropped his gun to the forest floor.

What are you doing? His friends called as he walked up to the tall dinosaur in front of him.

Im not going to hurt you, he whispered, as he raised his hand to the Utah. Warily, the dinosaur stared at him, his eyes searching the mans for truth. Sensing it was there, the Utah lowered his nose, gently pressing it against the mans hand. Knowing that he now had the Utahs trust, the man slowly withdrew from his pocket a key. The Utah moved back, and the man approached the cage. Confusion swirled amidst the men behind him. Taking the key, the man unlocked the cage, backing away as the Graciliraptor jumped out.

Before anyone could say anything, the Utahraptor pressed his nose firmly against the mans forehead, his breath warming the mans face. The sun shone brightly at that moment, accenting the love that passed through this one touch. Then the two dinosaurs raced off, back into the meadows they had come from, theyre colors a stark contrast to the darkened forest.

Great, now we have to reset the cage and hope another dinosaur comes along so we can take it back to the farm. One of the men complained.

Ignoring his group for the moment, the man touched his forehead where the Utahraptor had, and closed his eyes. Silently he relived that touch. Yes, in that moment, there had been a touch of spring.
Post: #133955
OMG that is wonderful. 16.gif
It's everything you ever want It's everything you ever need And it's here right in front of you This is where you wanna be This is where you wanna be This is the greatest show!
Post: #135095
Wow, the winning story was just beautiful!
Post: #137534
Thank you! I loved reading all of these--you guys are so inspiring, and so different from my own style. I kind of wish we had the chance to read all the entries, just like we can see all the art entries.

Yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery; but today is a gift. That is why it's called the present.
Post: #137537
^ Paya, I love your story. It's pretty clear why you won xD
But yes, it would be nice if we could see them all...

I still can't believe I even made it to runner-up
Seriously, I just don't win things all that much...

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