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The Dinosaur Keeper

By Tarquin MacPherson All Rights Reserved ©

Children / Fantasy

Blurb

If you were to ever ask Rex how he became the Dinosaur Keeper on Planet Chunk in the less fashionable side of the galaxy, which you wouldn’t as it is still too far away and has no sign posts due to a slight argument with the council, he couldn’t answer you.  Not that he wouldn’t or has some kind of false modesty, he literally can’t remember anything before his eighteenth birthday. Max, his leader and long term companion, is Rex’s very best friend and the other, well let’s just say that Rex would rather not talk about him, his razor sharp teeth, fondness for Rex’s other companion as a tasty dinnertime treat and the fact that Rex, at Max’s insistence, must catch him.  No the rogue creature that lurks in the darkened woods, is definitely not one of Rex’s favourite thoughts, concerns or occasional nightmares.  However as nearly seventeen years have passed since Rex appeared on the plains Max is getting somewhat, and suspiciously, keen on Rex to confront and capture said rogue creature. Why does Max think Rex can succeed where so many have obviously failed?  Join Rex in the first book of the Dinosaur Keeper saga and see if you can solve the riddle of the Dinosaur Keeper

Chapter 1

Chapter 1

There once was a man who knew nothing.

Not about books or cleverness or indeed the finer workings of a diplodocus, but rather about himself.

He knew he was and, much more importantly, where he was, but the why and the how were all a bit of a mystery.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves, and having only just commenced, this just wont do at all.

So to begin, Planet Chunk will of course mean absolutely nothing to you.

In a strange quirk of fate it‘s actual location isn‘t very far from where you presently sit.

Just at the edge of our solar system nestling quite happily between the odd meteorite and a bit of space debris.

Alas, in another twist of the very fate we have just mentioned, it is also in the exact opposite direction to which the astronauts always take off, and so has been missed by the scientists, astronomers and boffins that make it their business to know everything about everything.

Some would argue that it’s no great loss. There is nothing on Planet Chunk that we haven’t got, or previously had.

But Planet Chunk is vitally important, mainly to it’s occupants, which will be fully explained in due course.

However, it is imperative to note that the creation of Planet Chunk, something you will witness shortly, is a responsibility that only the great and wise Chunker can have.

But we have found ourselves racing forwards, backwards and wrongwards again, when all we need to do is simply let the tale unfold.

So, it’s best that you are introduced to the following people, inspiringly named Number 1 and Number 2.

Planet Modifiers by trade, here, or rather there, they are attempting to alter Planet Chunk’s conception, in order to have a world they think they deserve.

Unfortunately when any task is undertaken there is always some meddlesome individual poking their oar in when they should be leaving it out, convinced that their lack of any understanding will somehow help in matters they can’t even comprehend.

I’m sure you’ve all met somebody like this before.

Annoying aren’t they.

“Right I think we’re ready”, said Number 1, looking for a place to hang his hat and coat, then realising he didn’t have either.

“I invented thinking you know”, said Number 2, wondering why Number 1 was shuffling about so much.

“Did you really? That’s terribly exciting, how the devil did you come up with it”, said a genuinely impressed Number 1, finally coming to terms with the fact that he wasn’t actually there.

“Well I like to think that I thought of it, but of course that wouldn’t have been possible”, mused Number 2, questioning his own recollection of events before deciding it best not to push the matter any further.

“Yes, terribly confusing creation. Anyway I think,” paused Number 1, “I say, I am allowed to use that word aren’t I? You haven’t got the copyright on that have you” realising the gravity of Number 2’s conception,

“No, no, feel free”, said Number 2 bursting with pride and beaming from ear to ear before remembering that Number 1 couldn’t presently see him, and therefore this preening was useless,

“Very well”, continued Number 1 “I think we’re ready. Five, four, three, two, one”

And there it was.

Nothing.

Unfortunately it wasn’t quite the nothing they were after.

By and large they were there for the beginning, and although you can argue that at the beginning there is nothing, there has actually got to be something.

“Ah!” said Number 1

“Ah!” said a slightly ashen faced Number 2 “I’ll check the, um, I’ll check the fuses”, before realising that there would be nothing to check as, in principle at least, neither of them were there.

Which made the matter even more bewildering, when a fuse box suddenly appeared.

“Well?” demanded Number 1, perturbed simultaneously at the wait and the fact it was no time at all.

“Three amp!”

“Three amp, three amp! How many times have I told you creation can only be modified on fifteen amps! Honestly!”

“Sorry, “ trailed off Number 2, rummaging in a pocket he didn‘t have and producing a new fuse that shouldn‘t have been there, hastily putting it in place.

“Well now that’s sorted” said a not entirely convinced Number 1 “I’ll start at three, we haven’t got all… erm, what are we calling time on this one?”

“Day”

“Excellent, quite right! We haven’t got all day! Three, two, one, and press the button, for goodness sake put your goggles on, I mean come on! Health and Safety!”

Number 2 hastily grabbed at his goggles, holding them tightly with two imagined hands, whilst there was the start of a tremendous noise.

It was the kind of noise that’s starts as a murmur, builds up to a hum, selfishly promotes itself to an irritating ring, before taking full advantage of you and forcibly banging.

Only this time it was more of a, well, ….whimper.

So Planet Chunk started life with a sort of wet hiss.

“Is that it?”, asked Number 2

“’fraid so” , replied Number 1 “First time you’ve seen this isn’t it?”,

A solemn Number 2, nodded slowly, as Number 1 and his own body snapped into focus, materialising in front of the newly created world.

But now they were officially there, he really wanted to be anywhere else.

Besides Number 1 had appeared before him in a rather lurid beige and orange check smock.

“Never mind, they’re all different you know”, Number 1 assured.

“What now?”, said Number 2, noticing that he too had the same beige and orange ensemble. He also saw his feet for the first time, and thought it was all a bit of an anti-climax.

“Well, I tick the boxes here”, started Number 1 producing a clipboard from out of, well, from wherever people with clipboards produce them,

“I keep the top white copy, you get the middle blue, pink goes to admin, and the yellow, well nobody actually knows what happens to the yellow, but…”

The pen in Number 1’s shovel like hands was frantically ticking boxes, and he also seemed to be underlining several passages, as if everything hadn’t gone as well as he had told Number 2.

“No, no”, interrupted Number 2, finally being unconvinced of Number 1’s self-importance and deciding to press the point further, bored with the start of another rambling lecture,

“What happens with planet Chunk?”

“Well nothing really”, replied Number 1 “We leave it for a few billion years, and it sort of sorts itself out, you know evolution and all that, but hopefully we‘ve dabbled enough to get it right this time”

This was not the answer that Number 2 wanted at all.

He yearned for the reassurance that began ‘Well after all my years of experience…’ or ‘In precisely 1 million years we all live in perfect harmony’, not wire something up, put on your goggles, press the green button squarely in the middle and boom, hopefully the result you wanted.

Oh well, Number 2 mused, just a few more of these and then he’d be in charge, and by golly things would change. A lot!

More than a lot, immensely! He’d have one of those executive ball bashing toy things, that clanked importantly, whilst you thought about the very essence of life itself.

And there would be no more lurid smocks! Oh, no! I nice navy suit, maybe with a peaked cap with something emblazoned on it in gold and a lovely paisley tie.

With this, he realised Number 1 had caught him mid daydream, and seemed to be wanting a reply to something.

“Yes, well that sounds, erm, fine” said Number 2 eventually, not really remembering what he was replying to, changing his shoes for a more relaxing pair of slippers and hoping he had said something by way of a reply,

“Cup of tea?”, he continued.

“Splendid! Splendid! And a nice custard cream, I always get a bit peckish about this time of day”,

“Do you?,” enquired Number 2

“Don’t know, first day we’ve had!”

With that Number 1 and Number 2 laughed heartily, turned, and disappeared to where they had come from.

There, almost incidentally, stood Planet Chunk.

Blinking it’s way into existence it could only be described as a curious little planet.

Well not so curious as to be different to any other, for example it had the basic foundations of any kind of world; carbon, oxygen, a smidge of hydrogen, a pinch of calcium, a smattering of sulphur and just a tiny dollop of other, very ordinary elements that really wouldn’t take this story any further.

But Planet Chunk was curious, in so much as it was a perfect cube.

Rough around the edges, I’ll give you that, but a cube none the less.

The planet itself was regimented in design, modified to perfection, otherwise Number 1 and 2 would be for the high-jump. Which would be very unfortunate as the high-jump wasn’t due to be invented for another six hundred years, and nobody likes waiting around.

For five hundred million years after it’s initial conception, not a lot happened on Planet Chunk.

I say not a lot, but of course that depends on the kind of person you are. If you’re the type that gets up at noon, scratches themselves in places best not mentioned, breaks wind, fixes some cereal and then spends the rest of the day marvelling at the complexity of Australian soap opera’s, then quite a lot happened.

You’d have missed comets crashing into the planet, which were then filled with water from passing meteorites to form the Oceans. Great mountains carved thickly into the landscape topped with the iciest of cold snow and surrounded by the hottest of scorching deserts.

But more importantly you would have missed life itself stumbling nervously into realisation.

Of course there was the odd hiccup.

Nothing as significant as creation itself, goes by without the occasional mistake.

The great nose-farters of the far west of Planet Chunk, were one such disaster. Cursed with simultaneously being just one massive nose and, unfortunately for them, producing the most noxious gas you never wanted to smell, they were normally born only to promptly kill themselves by their own emissions.

Mind you, they only lasted a couple of hundred years, early on in Planet Chunk‘s life. But still, it was quite an achievement that they lasted longer than their first born, as they were basically born to kill themselves. Eventually most people would agree that they were probably just a fable, designed to stop children from doing something or other. What, we still aren’t sure.

Anyway we digress.

Chunk, and I think we know it well enough to drop its ‘Planet’ prefix now, as well as being a perfect cube, revolved around and around, albeit in a wobbly kind of a way, whilst being kept in place by a pole that ran all the way through it.

This pole protruded from the top and the bottom, making Chunk resemble a cheese and pineapple snack made popular at unimaginative party’s in the seventies.

These occasions were normally attended by people pretending to have a good time, whilst drinking too much and eventually leaving by themselves, feeling more unpopular and alone than they did when they first arrived.

That’s the 1970’s party, not Chunk.

Planet Earth had had a similar stick to help it spin in a more satisfactory manner, hence the names North and South Pole. Unfortunately both ends were snapped off in a fit of rage by an incensed Conceptual Artist having just had his plans for a redesigned Earth rejected.

Whilst he argued a good case and had many charts, graphs and figures, most people discarded his sketches on sight, mainly because they couldn’t help but feel that the design resembled a rather large fried egg.

Chunk orbited the Sun for many years, which meant that all its seasons and the oceans tide tables generally kept ticking over quite nicely, although January was slightly more chilly than most people prefer.

This was until, a Senior Planner took an instant disliking to the Sun, upon his introduction. He complained bitterly that the Sun had several flaws in its character, especially the way it assumed the world revolved around it, which of course it did.

Fortunately for Chunk, and common sense in general, none of this argument carried much weight.

That was until the unions got involved.

After several timely meetings, strikes being threatened and a lot of words like ‘comrades’ and ‘united’ were thrown about, everybody conceded that something should be done, mainly so the aforementioned Planner would shut the hell up, and they could go back to the important things in life like double yellow lines and working out their pension forecasts.

So eventually, after much humming and hahing, a little bit of deliberation and a lot of false starts, the Nus was created, meaning that Number 1 and Number 2 had to travel back to Chunk to ensure the modifications were in place before it evolved too much.

Now the Nus was as spectacular as it was completely inconspicuous, being the size of a beach ball, but decidedly less colourful. As light as an elephant encased in concrete who had recently taken to wearing chunky gold jewellery and paving slabs just for fun, it just sort of hummed and looked menacing.

It was the exact opposite side of Chunk, in terms of its relativity to the Sun, and blasted the planet with darkness, sucking the very essence of light from every nook and cranny.

It even made the evenings a bit too damp and cold, whilst simultaneously astounding anybody who happened to be passing, at its ability to look like it was doing nothing at all apart from quietly buzzing.

The Sun still continued to give off heat and light, a little more than it used to it had been noted, and generally contributed to photosynthesis and the pink skin of anything foolish enough to go out with less than factor twenty-five sun tan lotion.

Chunk still sustained it’s ability to revolve, but rather than orbit any other planet, it simply turned smack, bang in the middle of the Nus and the Sun. Meaning if the side you were on was closest to the Sun at that time, it would be hot and bright.

If you were nearest the Nus it would be cold, dark and rainy, the full blackout of night time.

The Sun was also slightly above Chunk, the Nus slightly below. Which meant the top of the planet was a little warmer and brighter than the rest of it, making it the kind of place you’d be likely to spend your summer holidays, crammed next to other people whilst you got sand in your ice cream and cursing because you only had factor eight sun cream. It would later become the more fashionable side, with lots of street side café’s, boutiques, and people drinking in a moderate manner.

The bottom of Chunk, conversely, was more gloomy and would be attractive to people who liked takeaways, counting on their fingers and leaving old sofas or fridge freezers in their gardens for months at a time. It was that kind of a place.

Of course the fact that Chunk no longer orbited the Sun messed up a few things, mainly the seasons and the tides of the oceans.

The season problem was simply solved, there weren’t any.

The planet was hot and dry in the day and cold and wet in the night. Except at Christmas, in the day time at least, where it was freezing and snowed on all sides of the planet.

This set the mood perfectly for celebrations, gift giving and over eating and drinking. But mainly happened because the Sun felt as everybody else was indulging in the frivolity of the season, it didn’t see why it should have to work.

The tides, having nothing to follow and being terrible at reading watches, or noticing the difference between night and day for that matter, momentarily gave up and lay completely stagnant.

This was addressed immediately and rushed to a carefully selective panel for instantaneous consideration and action.

Several centuries passed before it was determined that the tides would be activated by timers, similar to those that switch the washing machine on at night just as you’re trying to get some sleep.

This meant that the Seas of Chunk ran at alarming regularity, whooshing in and out at exactly the same time every night and day, and actually saved a bit of money between the hours of midnight and six in the morning.

So as the land, sea and general environment began to settle into some kind of equilibrium, so life of the more mobile and destructive variety began to form and populate the planet.

Life is really quite a simple process.

All you need is a flask of water, slightly tepid if possible, grab yourself another flask of various gasses, then proceed to put them together, shake them both up a bit, and add a bit of lightning. This, of course, pleased most religions, who all loved a bit of fire and brimstone, and general dramatic lighting and noises.

The upshot of it was, and it’s important not to belittle this, hey presto life!

People also like to throw God into the equation, or Chunker as he will later be known on planet Chunk, which is fair enough and in some cases a stroke of brilliance.

The best thing about Chunker, or any other divine being for that matter, was this.

If anything and indeed everything goes wrong, even after you’ve got marketing involved and gone for a nationwide launch, its nice to have something to blame.

At the very least it’s handy to have someone to shake your fist at and ask why they have forsaken you, rather than admitting your own failings.

Chunker is at his most important, like on nearly all planets, when his name is taken in vain.

Such colourful phrases as “for Chunker’s sake” and ,“for the love of Chunker”, being the best examples.

Life on Chunk began two and half billion years after Number 1 and 2‘s initial visit.

Or rather life of any interest.

Sure there was the odd one celled organism jumping about the oceans, and the aforementioned Nose-Farters, but who cares about them?

It’s not like they’re going to manage the space program or deliver a pizza within thirty minutes, is it?

So two and a half billion years later, which is a long or short amount of time depending on if you’re an early or late riser, dinosaurs became really rather interesting, and more importantly, became on Chunk.

Now we know that there are many hundreds of different type of dinosaurs, some that we didn’t even know existed until recently.

However on the more accessible fourth side of Chunk there were precisely five different types of dinosaur, as well as three sorts of mammals, and that was the way they liked it.

This was also great news for everybody involved, mainly because queues were always short and everybody got a spot on the beach.

Firstly there were the Velociraptors, twenty two of them to be exact, who spent most of their time darting off into empty spaces, before changing their minds and dashing back again. Nearly eight feet tall, they were cursed with a bobbing head which made them resemble a chicken, although the razor sharp teeth did mean you wouldn‘t hang around waiting for them to produce an egg for breakfast.

Signalling to each other with various codes and head gestures they had made up, they would always, always, keep an eye on the other dinosaurs, such as the Stegosaurus’, just in case one of them drifted from their herd and the situation could be taken advantage of.

The Stegosaurus’ of course never did stray from their own pack, being much slower than the Velociraptors. If they ever started edging away from the rest of the herd, even if they had lost concentration for fifteen minutes or so, they were never more than a few feet away. This meant they could simply trot back, as fast as an elephant sized, long necked, armour plated scaly creature can trot, to the middle of the group.

They didn’t much like the Velociraptors.

Well to be fair it wasn’t that they didn’t like them, its more they didn’t really understand them. All this rushing about, you see, means nothing to a Stegosaurus, as they spent most of their life on the vast plains of planet Chunk, eating and, well not to put to finer point on it, producing a lot of manure from their backsides.

Tons of the stuff would be dropped on the plains all day to the point where you’d think that somebody should really have a word with them and ask them if they wouldn’t mind tidying up after themselves, if they were going to be so dashed messy.

Well you would pose the above question, were it not that their dung being only a drop in the ocean, figuratively speaking of course, more of a mound on a field to be exact compared to the Diplodocus’.

The Diplodocus’, of which there were twelve, dropped the combined total of all the Stegosaurus’ poo, each. Every day!

Which was one big pile of poop.

They were as tall as several houses stacked perilously on top of each other, and as long as ten Double Decker Buses, if of course there were such things as buses on Chunk, which there weren‘t.

Their great necks, as thick as treacle soup, spent most of the time holding up their colossal heads, extracting all the leaves from a tree. This was repeated almost constantly all day, just so they could muster enough strength to carry on and strip another one completely bare. To prove how colossal they were, occasionally one would change direction, turning themselves around to face the exact opposite way and forcing the rest of the herd to do the same. This task took several minutes, if not hours, and was greeted with great moans and generally sighing from the rest of the herd.

The only problem for the Diplodocus‘, was that every now and again they would occasionally be struck on the head by a Pterodon.

The Pterodons were by far the most independent and contented of the dinosaurs, as they genuinely had no reason to be unhappy. Circling the great lands of Chunk, with almost twenty foot of wing span helping them feel great rushes of wind go past their long pointy beaks. They spent the day coating their brown leathery faces in the heat of the sun, or sleeping in the tallest of trees with their heads under a wing.

Of course I have mentioned four types of dinosaurs, and for the more observant this will be in complete contrast to my starting statement of the inhabitants of Chunk. However for the harder of learning, I will state again that there are five types of dinosaur on this particular part of the planet, however I will refrain from telling you of the last, but I will say this.

For all the animals, and discounting whether they actually liked each other, there was complete harmony in their little environment. Or rather there would be if it wasn’t for a certain rogue creature. But you do not need to know this now, mainly because it is best to address these things as and when they present themselves.

However, as well as the dinosaurs three mammals were also remarked upon, who shared this beautiful land.

The Dumdums were one of the three on side four of Chunk. Perhaps the most unfortunate creatures you were ever likely to come across if you happened to be on Chunk, which you probably wouldn’t be unless NASA start flying the other way.

Even if the occasional boffin said ‘I’m a bit bored of cape Canaveral can we take off somewhere else?’, you probably still wouldn’t find Chunk. Mainly because there have never been any signposts erected, due to difficulties with the local council.

Anyway, the Dumdums were about the size of a dog, not the ones that are really horses that people pretend are dogs, nor the ones that resemble strategically shaved rats on string, but the average cocker spaniel type of dog.

Of course if a Dumdum were to meet a regular size cocker spaniel, it would drop dead on the spot. Mainly because it would be overwhelmed by the superior intellect of the aforementioned animal.

Now bearing in mind that any cocker spaniel owner, no matter how much they love their pet, would readily admit that this particular breed of dog was especially stupid, the Dumdum can only be seen as one of the silliest creatures in the known universe.

As well as being the most dim-witted animal you were never likely to meet, the Dumdums were as uninteresting as they were unassuming. Being a slightly bluish grey, smooth skinned and having a swan like neck to support an overweight, bulbous head. Their legs were thick and long like an elephant’s and they indulged themselves too much in a stomach that drooped and brushed the undergrowth, whilst trotting along at a slightly jaunty angle.

But the most striking feature, of an otherwise dull creature, was its large green, doughy eyes which instantly seemed to say, ‘please don’t eat me’ to anybody who encountered them.

Obviously this was duly ignored, and the Dumdums became the staple diet of most of the other animals on Chunk.

Now this isn’t as harsh as you may think.

Nobody had actually killed a Dumdum in order to eat it.

However you may recall, unless you are in anyway related, however distantly to a Cocker Spaniel, that they are not the brightest of creatures.

Also, unfortunately for them, they have a rather regrettable habit which sealed their fate.

Even if they tried really, really hard and concentrated with all their might, a Dumdum was unable to pass a fire without falling straight into it and cooking themselves until perfectly tender, albeit slightly under-seasoned.

Upon lighting a fire checks would be made, diligently undertaken I hasten to add, but no matter what and despite the fact that a Dumdum entering a fire was never witnessed, nor a sound of pain ever heard, every morning there would be a pile of Dumdums as high as your eyes, ready to be eaten.

As much as you might think the poor unfortunate creatures deserved some kind of proper burial, there’s no point wasting good food.

Of the three, one of the other mammals was of slightly higher intelligence, being the lighter of the fire’s rather than the burns victim. But you would still have to marvel that out of the billions and billions of creatures that have been around in the universe, and that ninety nine and half percent of them are no longer with us, why on Chunk did we end up with a small human like species.

You may also wonder at the fact that, how come on the fourth side of the planet, we also ended up with the sum total of one human like being called Rex.

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