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Friday Fiction – Bruce Too

13 February 2015 3 Comments

I’m pleased to share a wee bit of Bruce Too, my contribution to Fossil Lake II: The Refossiling. Trust me, Lake Agassiz is such a welcoming place, and Bruce isn’t always hungry…

Bruce Too

Excerpted from Fossil Lake II: The Refossiling
© 2015 Jodi Lee & SableDrake Enterprises
All Rights Reserved

Aubry James was born ten years before the northern polar ice cap disappeared, covering a great deal of North America in what was re-dubbed Lake Agassiz. In fact, due to the melting of both caps, a lot of North America was either islands, peninsulas or rocky hills where mountains used to be.

She could remember the rolling grass hills of the prairies though, pastures and farmland as far as her little eyes could see. She’d seen these things often during trips with her parents, following paved roads in an old car. A distant memory, of course, but there nonetheless. Then things changed, and little by little the lands were flooded. Fresh water mingling with sea water decimated whatever fish and aquatic mammals weren’t able to adapt, and Aubry, with her quick mind and fierce drive, determined to save them. She enrolled in bio-engineering, with minors in marine and paleo biology.

The year after she received her Masters degree, and allowing time for her studies to achieve her doctorate, Aubry joined the team at PaleoGen. There she would be working under her professor, Dr. Brown, to retrieve or reconstruct DNA from fossilized remains of animals that had lived in the original Lake Agassiz. Animals like the mosasaur, pliosaur, and carcharodon. Dr. Brown hoped to be able to combine the DNA found with that of present-day species having difficulty adapting to their new world, in effect, saving two different species by making them one.

Aubry was put in charge of mosasaur research. At the end of her four year term and just before she presented her thesis to the board, she was offered a permanent position. Her thesis, a paper on the Hainosaurus pembinensis x megaptera novaeangliae, secured her doctorate, yes, but the research that went into it and the four foot long specimen in the tank at PaleoGen secured her job. She loved the little bugger, as much as any parent could love a child. With PaleoGen’s permission, she named him Bruce Too.

Bruce was a 43 foot tylosaur – part of the mosasaur family – found in a bentonite mine smack in the middle of the original Lake Agassiz. Aubry had been to see a replica in a museum as a very young child, and it had terrified her. Now, swimming in the tank with a juvenile Bruce Too, she didn’t understand what she’d been so afraid of. He was just a giant reptile, and like any other beast, he could be tamed.

Unfortunately, Nick didn’t think so.

She’d been with Nick for a few months, and early on knew he wasn’t right for her, but still… he was something to do after-hours. After a particularly nasty incident in the tank room, though, she told him she couldn’t see him anymore. Aubry knew workplace romances were usually trouble, but she didn’t realize exactly how bad it could get until she broke up with him.

First, her computer was shut down because of a virus threat, and IT couldn’t save most of her research. Thankfully she’d been smart enough to back everything up on a flash drive nightly, and stored it on an external hard drive at home. She turned the hard drive over to Dr. Brown, and continued on.

Next, six months of physical research was destroyed when the climate control in the DNA lab failed. IT found wires had been cut between the controls and the machines. Still, she didn’t put it together until Bruce Too stopped eating. Calling in a friend from university, a marine bio tech specialist, Aubry spent a week at the facility with Bruce Too, keeping everything under control and getting him back up to peak condition.

The smirk on Nick’s face when she returned to the office was enough. She went to Dr. Brown, but his hands were tied. Without specific proof, hard evidence, there was nothing he could do. What he could do, though, was order more security cameras, and hire guards to walk through the tank room regularly.

That put a stop to the hijinks for a while, at least at work. At home, Aubry suffered through prank calls, broken windows, burning feces at her door, and the occasional drug raid. Changing her phone number didn’t work; somehow Nick always managed to get it again. Finally, she began using throw-away cell phones, and completely got rid of her land line. Even so, she’d only have a week of silence before it all started over again.

Click the cover image above if you want to read more of my story, or one of the many other (and even better!) contributions to Fossil Lake… introduction by Brian Keene, edited by Christine Morgan.

Am I a lucky little writer, or what?