In the darkest hour, an imaginary hero brings hope and courage.
This was written for the STSC Symposium, a monthly collaboration of artists around a set theme. The February 2023’s topic was “Dinosaurs”.
In a cold and lightless room, abandoned in mess, wherein sheets were nailed over the windows, in a square fortress under the large oak table, a lonely warrior held the last outpost against the Darkness while the world was wrecking.
—I'm so glad I found you, Dino, I was so scared here alone but together we can be brave, can't we? It's easier to be brave when you're not alone even in a fortress like this one that papa built for me before he left fighting monsters. Mama said these walls are magical and they will protect us but only if you and I sit here quiet, so, please, don't roar. Nobody would find us and nobody would touch us, no monsters or evil people, because, you know, I'm scared of monsters, they are vewy scawy like in horror fairy tales, especially those soldiers with pig faces and hooves and horns like goats have. I like animals but I don't like when they become monsters. The pig people have sharp tusks and make vewy scawy sounds similar to oink-oink but vewy vewy loud and vewy vewy harsh. Papa used to make this kind of sound when we were playing but they were not scawy because it was papa and he always was vewy kind and I knew he wasn't a monster at all so I only pretended I was scared when he did that. Are you scared, Dino? I know you're not. How can you be? You're a dinosaur! Arrrgh! Right? You have these teeth and claws and long and heavy tail. You're vewy dangerous but you are not a monster. You can beat any monster yourself even the pig soldier even if they have guns or swords because your skin is vewy solid like armour or even better than armour. Actually I think dinosaurs are scawy too but you're not scawy because I like you and you're a good dinosaur. You're my friend, right? Mama says I shouldn't be friends with scawy people, or dinosaurs, so I'm glad we can be friends, Dino. I was weally scared here alone and I cried a little bit after mama left to bring us food but with you it's much better here. When she comes back as she promised you can be friends with her too. I have dolls by the way but I left them back at our home with my other toys and books and other things and I was vewy upset at first but then I realised that it would be vewy scawy for my dolls here because dolls fear dark castles and can't fight monsters, can they? My favourite doll's name is Mary. I think you two could be fr
An explosion of enormous energy from afar shook the room slightly, the walls and the ceiling crackled and the plaster dusted the fortress from above. The warrior shuddered and hugged the dinosaur.
—Mama says these are fireworks and we should not fear them but I don't believe her because I’m not stupid and I saw fireworks myself and they were never loud like these bangs out there.
The warrior looked around to assure there are no spies working for mama watching her, and whispered to the dinosaur:
—I am sure these are bombs, Dino. I saw bombs on the telly when mama and papa were watching a vewy loud film and I know what sound they make. They are vewy fun to watch on the telly but I don't like when they are here. I think there should be no bombs because they are vewy scawy and they kill people and killing people is vewy vewy bad, everyone knows that. I asked mama if we should kill monsters because monsters are also people sometimes and she said that this is bad to kill anyone but then I asked why then papa went killing monsters if it is bad and then she said that papa is protecting us from the monsters and protecting from the monsters is good so I couldn't decide if killing monsters is good or bad and mama told me that I will understand it better when I grow up but I think she doesn't understand that herself even though she is vewy old and wise in her twenty-eight. All old people are sad even when they smile saying they are not sad, they always lie about it. My mama says she loves me even when she's sad and I always say I love her too. She has become more sad when the bad things and fireworks started and papa went protecting us from the monsters and she has begun saying that she loves me sometimes more than two times a day and one day she even said that five times. Do your parents love you, Dino? I think they do, you're vewy nice. I think they are two strong and beautiful dinosaurs just like you but bigger and more adult like my parents. We both will grow big as our parents are and become wise and smart and brave and maybe also a little sad like them too. Do you ever feel
Vicious pieces of metal whistled somewhere close, and the warrior leaned over, clumping her ears shut, and thus kept that position for a few minutes. When the shooting ceased, the warrior peeked from the fortress onto the window and saw that a few holes had appeared on the sheet, with the moonlight oozing into the room. The warrior invited the dinosaur to see them.
—Don't be scared. My mama says I should play with my imagination to scare away the fear. You see the window? Do you know the word constelwation? I love this word and the things it means. I think these white points on the window’s sheet could be stars, a beautiful constelwation, maybe a dinosaur constelwation. See, they look like you, don't they? I don't know if there's a dinosaur constelwation already but we can name this one after you, why not? I think it's vewy great to have your own stars even if you can never reach them because they are not shy and you can still see them almost every night and there are always there for you so you could enjoy their light. Papa said they are vewy old but I don’t think they are sad or maybe they are sad but you can never tell they are sad, that's how bright they are, you only see their shining and noth
The rumbling stomping of hooves sounded from the corridor, echoing into the room and making the floor shiver, and then something squealed:
That was a pig soldier, a bulky figure clad in dark armour and armed with a gun and an axe, its tusks covered in blood, its horns growing from under the helmet, its stench rapidly replacing the air in the room.
—Grheeee-ghree!—squealed the pig soldier again and began sniffing.
The warrior held her breath and embraced the silence inside her fortress. The pig soldier kept seeking prey, scraping the wooden floor with its hooves. Another explosion thundered outside, now closer, and the whole room shook earthquakingly. The pig soldier spotted the table covered with a blanket, sniffed once more, squealed and moved towards it. There, hidden inside the fortress, the warrior kept silent, her eyes and ears closed shut. Snarling and drooling, the monster flipped the table over in one blow throwing it aside, revealing the immobilised warrior to the Darkness, her senses still paused.
Drooling and screaming, and pig soldier prepared to end the warrior's life but then, from the darkness, the dinosaur, now a few feet tall feathered creature, leapt out, roared and plunged his sharp white teeth right into the monster's throat. Haemorrhaging, the monster shuddered and attempted to kick the dinosaur away, but Dino strengthened his grip, clenching his jaws tighter and tighter until the monster's neck’s spine crunched, its swollen arteries burst, and a fountain of warm dark-red blood fountained into the room. The pig soldier lost its head, and it slumped down onto the floor beside his flabby armoured body.
Silence took over the room, and the warrior, shaking and sobbing, opened her eyes. Before her, the dinosaur loomed over the dead monster's body, his teeth covered in blood, his reptile eyes flashing in the moonlight.
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This silly dinosaurs themed Symposium is gonna end up being our greatest achievement isn’t it?
Somehow even with the warrior telling me exactly what was coming, I still did not see that coming.