Title: In the early Cretaceous
Challenge: The Gutter Plot Bunny With Chocolate Challenge.
Warnings: mud + water + womens’ clothes + perception; sauropod-sauropod dominance.
Characters: Claudia Brown, Helen Cutter, Ryan, Martha Jones.
Species: Homo sapien, Cetiosaurus sp., Pseudoxanthus deinobrontos.
Spoilers: Primeval season 1 eps 2,3,4,5; Doctor Who episode ‘smith and jones.’
Disclaimer: I own none of the canon characters.
Short Summary: The perils of biology in the early Cretaceous.
Author’s note: there is no connection or relation with the professionally-published story “in the late Cretaceous”.
Flying along at a breakneck speed, Claudia Brown didn’t care to recall how Nick had talked her into this particular part of the ‘lets get the animal back to the past’ plan this time. Next time I’m the deciding vote, she thought as the cetiosaurus cow “carried” her through the Anomaly to its home era in Britain’s epic history, I’ll grant Ryan carte blanche in whatever degree of lethality he feels the situation warrants!
A sound had reached her ears just before passing through to the – Jurassic? Cretaceous? Next time, I listen more closely to Connor’s babbles - and it had sounded rather like “Helen!” overlaid with “Catch her!”
Now that it was no longer enclosed within a woodland of any sort, the female cetiosaurus felt freer to try ridding herself of this awkward weight: her neck began to swing back and forth. Even before she started swinging (and thereby switching to oxygen-conservation mode for her brain, she didn’t know what to make of the thing that was gripping her neck like there was no tomorrow…after all, it wasn’t trying to cut into her, wasn’t biting or clawing or sucking from her – and that eliminated predators and parasites. So what was left? Flying things would take to the air if necks started swinging, and this thing was only tightening its grip.
Back and forth, back and forth. Even a few up-and-downs, literally. Claudia counted one upchuck, but wouldn’t discount the theory that she’d vomited more than the once.
And then, in the midst of a particularly violent swing to the left, something snagged her pants. As she struggled to pull her legs up and away from whatever it was, Claudia’s mind raced, trying to recall if Nick or Stephen or even Connor had mentioned any predatory creatures that coexisted with cetiosaurs.
Her legs remained tightly-gripped by – it wasn’t teeth, Claudia noted. Nor was it claws. So either there were pythons able to coil around human pendulums in the Cretaceous, or…
Claudia looked down. And there, she saw, was Helen Cutter –
The weight and the swinging was too much: Claudia couldn’t hold on, and both women went ‘flying’ through the air, landing with a very wet sound. It was rather appropriate and proper that it was a wet sound, given that it was a large sinkhole full of water into which they’d both landed. It was just a shame that “flying” was the best and most applicable word, since the English language – and just about every other human language – lacked a word for the movement of people through the air after losing their grip on a sauropod’s neck ten meters off the ground. A pity, that.
They both surfaced with gasps and sucking in air, their legs kicking in an effort to stay afloat. The two of them’d separated while still in mid-air.
Once they were both able to see – hair and insects wiped away from the eyes – Helen looked down and shook her head. “This is a problem,” as the water slowly grew increasingly cloudy.
“If you’re going to say you can only swim with Nick around…”
“Actually, I can only swim nude with Nick around,” Helen corrected.
“I appreciate the difference.”
“Good. Appreciate away from Nick.” The water was murky now. “As I was saying, this is not good.”
“What isn’t?” A horrid throught crossed her mind. “This is water, isn’t it?”
“Of course it is,” Helen said, her tone clearly saying that if she’d been so inclined, she would have fixed Claudia with a most insulting look.
“When how is it not good? Are…are there parasites in here?”
“Yes,” with a frankness that – even from Helen – was scary. “Just not for large-bodied mammals.”
“Then what?” as the water started to be muddy.
“Shark,” and slapped a knife handle into Claudia’s right hand before rolling in the muddy water and diving down.
“Either I’m supposed to hold this while she wrestles it,” Claudia mused, “or she expects me to help.” Neither option filled her with much in the way of optimism.
Helen surfaced just then, a deathly-still shark with another dagger having been shoved clean through its brainpan. “We have a problem,” dryly, not saying one word about how Claudia had been a distinct lack of helpfulness.
“We’re in the Age of Dinosaurs,” Claudia said, “in a pond full of parasites and a dead shark,” and I have no idea how many insects I’ve swallowed in the course of those screams which sheer speed tore the sound from. “Are you trying to tell me there’s something else wrong with this picture?”
“Yes,” Helen’s tone not changed.
“For pete’s… What now?”
Using the shark as a flotation device, Helen shoved off for shore; Claudia did likewise, feeling it was safer to follow her example, even if it did seem rather impulsive. “There’s more of them,” Helen said, “than I thought there’d be.”
“How many did you think there’d be?”
Helen grumbled something (very likely about parasites and Claudia’s nether regions), then they both heard, from someone running down a nearby hill – a slope which the cetiosaurus had pointedly avoided – “Oi, I’ll give you a hand, just gimme a second,” and reached the bottom of the hill, coming to a stop at the sparsely-branched dead conifer tree beside the pool.
Martha pulled the rope from off one broken branch, uncoiling it and throwing one end to the women in the water, while muttering to herself, “I just saw this rope in the TARDIS,” and wondered if these sorts of things happened often to those who traveled with the Doctor.
“Thank you,” Claudia said as she struck land, scrabbling til her whole body was on terra firma. Somehow ‘Where did you come from?’ didn’t seem like a polite thing to ask someone who has just saved your life.
“Pseudoxanthus deinobrontos,” Helen spat once she too was fully safely on land. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome. Sounds like a lovely name – compensation for its looks?”
“I would’ve given it a better name. And no,” before either other woman could say anything, “its no more a local than we are.” They lie in wait for prey to fall into their sinkholes, and then they make the water impossible to see in…then they attack.
“When?” Claudia asked.
“Shortly before our bat friend grew up.”
“’Bat’?” Martha asked.
Helen nodded. “Its best avoided.”
“Okay. Where’s it found, so I know where to avoid.”
“O-kay,” Martha said. “Can you be a little more specific?”
“No you can’t, or no you won’t?”
From over the hill came a reasonably impatiently-toned male voice calling, “Oh come on, it can’t take that long to take a leak.”
Martha sighed. “I’ll be right there!” she hollered back. I decided to take a stroll afterwards, alright? While I was doing that, I saw them here. To Helen and Claudia, “When’re you from?”
“Early twenty-first century AD,” Helen said.
“England,” Claudia clarified.
“Great. Maybe we’ll meet again…sans sharks,” and headed over the hill to where the TARDIS awaited.
“Time to head back then,” Helen said.
“You’re not worried about being arrested?” Claudia asked as the two of them started walking back towards the Anomaly. She didn’t mention that they were both heavily-slathered with mud on their fronts and sides, though there was no lack of mud on the back of them either (just not as much as covered the rest of them)
Helen considered replying ‘I said *head back,*’ not *head through.*’ Instead, “I’ve saved your life twice now. If that doesn’t count for anything, I’d be surprised if you said anything.”
“Here or once we return?”
Clever question. “Yes.”
As they walked along the path, Claudia noticed that the majority of the cetiosaurus herd was still here. It was particularly easy to notice the deepthroated ones, those with the gaudily-coloured dewlaps running the entire length of their necks. “Cock’o’the’rocks,” giving them a name similar to a tropical bird from their own era.
“Quite,” and shoved her down to a crouch in time for them both to avoid having their skulls be a cricket ball and knocked across the plain. Two massive tails sped past overhead, the owners of said tails shoving one another with their hips in a stuggle as old as their genus, if not older still.
“Males,” Claudia figured, seeing the long sewerpipe-thick organs between the legs pressing against one another. “If they can’t wave them and measure, they beat each other up.”
“The male cetiosaurs,” Helen said, “don’t have penes, hemi- or uni-” much like most other brachiosaurs, some therapods, and a number of bird species.
“You mean…?” a look of absolute horror.
That’s right: extendable cloacas. “If it helps any,” she offered, “after they’ve been sufficiently boiled, you can bake them, fry them, anything but poaching.”
Claudia looked a little green around the gills, and remained that way until they were several minutes past the sight of the herd (unless one looked behind them, which neither woman did).
“Here we are,” Helen said, stopping.
“This is where we came through.”
“You’re sure?” looking around, with no sparkling things catching her eye.
“I kept track of the distance.”
Disbelief was the first thing to cross Claudia’s mind. Then despair, on the chance Helen was telling the truth. “We’re too late,” Claudia moaned.
“Why would you say that?”
“Because its not here.”
Helen resisted the very strong urge to either roll her eyes or slap this woman. “In case you’ve forgotten, Anomalies move. This one’s in the cave right now.”
“Then let’s go.”
A pistolshot echoed out from the cave mouth, its sound magnifying what was taking place deep within.
“Do you still have my knife?” Helen asked.
Claudia stopped where she was. “No,” she admitted just before a roar came from the same place as the gun’s report.
As an uneasy silence settled over the place, Helen noted, “Remember when you thought that pool wasn’t water?”
“Yes,” unsure where this was going.
“If we’d landed in that cave, you’d have been right.”
There was no further sounds from the cave – neither mechanical or otherwise.
Rather hoping that whomever had fired that shot was now safely back home on the other side of the Anomaly, “How long would you say it’ll take to finish going through the cave?” Claudia asked.
“Another half hour at most,” Helen estimated, basing it on past experiences.
“Great,” plopping down on a chair-height boulder, a kjope that’d fallen over. Despite herself, she found herself looking out at the cetiosaurs, “Are they edible? Besides that part, I mean.”
“If you can avoid the tapeworms,” Helen said, by way of a Yes.
When Helen and Claudia stepped back into their own time, they found Connor and Ryan sitting up waiting for them, though the others were quick to wake up, a full Moon shining down on them and the closing Anomaly. Ryan looked like a drowned rat with the stink of ammonia lingering on even after he’d clearly had a change of clothes.
Claudia noted that Helen didn’t seem to notice how Connor’s jaw dropped on seeing the two mud-caked women returning and walking in his direction…though given how he was less than seven yards from the Anomaly, it would’ve been durned difficult to walk away from the Anomaly without walking towards him. Claudia rolled her eyes as Connor’s eyes seemed to glaze over. I don’t care to know what’s going through that fevered mind of his, and, seeing that a second pair of male eyes had the same look, Or his, even if it was Nick.
“I trust the two of you enjoyed yourselves?” Lester asked, walking up to each of them, a clean washtowel in each hand, holding one out to each woman.
“You should’ve been there,” Helen said.
Claudia would’ve groaned in pain at the entredes those two threw around, but Connor beat her to it – and his (quiet as it was) had a different tone than hers would have had.
“Perhaps next time.”