Here Today...

In which a mystery of long standing is solved, mewling writers and chirping critics battle for the last laugh, and one storyteller discovers that there are worse fates for satire and its practitioners than closing on Saturday night...


Here Today...

by (AJ) Eric

Mark Twain rather famously ordered violent consequences for anyone who found a moral in "Huckleberry Finn."  As a pacifist, I can't promise the same, but where this small tale is concerned, I think he had the right idea.  The only moral I'd offer from this one: If your Muse hands you something this lame, throw it back.

Readers are cautioned that the similarity of some of the critic characters' comments here to those seen on actual online stories is emphatically not intended to infer that the authors of those stories in any way resemble the saurians depicted below.  Or, as Samantha Michelle used to say in her story disclaimers, "if you see yourself, get a new mirror."

Seasons didn't make a whole lot of difference in this part of North America 65 million years ago.  The weather was warm; ferns, flowering plants and semi-tropical forests were abundant, and here on the western shores of the large inland sea that broke up the continent, local fauna could feed themselves without undue stress.  In fact, with midday so warm and conditions so pleasant, predator and prey found themselves interacting at the Gathering Place without a trace of rancor.

"Hey, Don.  I see you posted a new story online yesterday." Triceratops looked up from her laptop and greeted the larger, duck-billed creature lumbering up from the shore.

Trachodon (well, Edmontosaurus really, but he hadn't changed the name online -- he considered a familiar byline more important than correct nomenclature) finished swallowing the plants he'd wrestled out of the seashore.  "Yes, but I don't know why I bother any more, from the reaction I'm getting."

"What's the problem?  I haven't read it yet, but it looks good to me -- catchy header, plenty of reads for a story that hasn't been up even a full day yet, some favorable comments..."

"Yeah, Cera, but check out the one from that annoying character Shrew: 'It's really an effective story emotionally, but you've botched the chronology pretty badly: your main character goes from hatchling to young adult in just one year.'"

Ornithomimus craned her ostrichlike neck and got her head into conversational range.  "I think the natives are getting restless.  Did you see what Shark said about the one I posted last month?  'Solid story, but your take on the KGB Lizard is totally misguided.  Don't use a famous character if you're not going to make him behave the way he's supposed to.'  I mean, who does he think he is, Duckbill Hartrosaurus?"

"That's Hadrosaurus, Mimi," Triceratops countered.  "And I haven't seen him around here in ages."

Trachodon sighed.  "But what do you expect from Shark?  That's what he does.  And it sure beats his complaints about grammar and word usage.  At least he's keeping those private these days, where authors can ignore them and move along."

Ankylosaurus noisily abandoned his desk and the ancient iMac where he'd been working -- stealth isn't a strong suit for Sherman tank-sized saurians -- and joined the discussion. "How about that post from C. Turtle last Monday?  She's telling the world that I've traumatized my lead character to the point where there's no way she can escape from the trap the way she's supposed to in the next chapter."

"So prove her wrong," Triceratops offered.

"Is it really worth the trouble?  I've a mind just to leave things where they are until folks who think they know more about your characters than you do find something better to do than sit at their computer screens and bitch."

"But Anky, some of us really want to know how that story comes out," Triceratops whined as she turned her horned head slightly toward the oval-plated giant.  She couldn't turn it very far.

"Hey, Cera.  Are you on their side?" Ornithomimus asked.  "What about that lowlife who asked you if Saurian was your first language?"

"You mean that old fossil Coelecanth?  Nobody pays any attention to him -- certainly not me."

"Still, if we all demanded some respect by pulling our stories..."

"Why spoil things for the more appreciative readers just because there are some rotten figs on the proverbial tree?  Besides, I like having my stories out there.  Folks tell me they're among the best on the site."  Triceratops may have had something of an ego, but she couldn't, after all, help being big-headed.

And her point of view probably would have prevailed.  But you can't tell a late-Cretaceous dinosaur tale without Tyrannosaurus Rex forcing his way onto the scene.  And T-Rex wasn't happy.  His latest story had been out there for almost a week without a single comment, and if there's one thing a mover and (especially) shaker like that can't stand, it's being ignored.

"i'm leaving the site," he announced.  "And you're all going with me."

And since standing up to T-Rex is decidedly hazardous to one's good health and future, they accompanied him off the story site and out of the Gathering Place by the sea.  Their stories were removed, their computers turned off for good, and Cera, Mimi, Don, Anky and the others followed T-Rex on a march away from the waters and far away toward the western horizon.


"...and that's how the dinosaurs disappeared.  A pity to think that if they'd just paid attention to some good online advice they might still be with us today."

The trio stood by the diorama at the natural history museum.  "Oh, come on, Uncle Leo," said the towheaded seven-year old in the dark shorts and T-Rex T-shirt.  "Dinosaurs didn't have computers."

"True, Jimmy, we haven't discovered any."  Leo wasn't especially tall, though he certainly had a height advantage over his companions.  At middle age, his severely receding hair, mustache and goatee were still dark, and if he weighed a few -- or a few dozen -- more pounds than he should have, he nevertheless seemed to be in reasonably good physical shape.  "But that's not surprising.  Remember, it's been millions of years.  Metal and glass and plastic don't leave bones behind like these dinosaurs did -- they biodegrade and disintegrate into nothing but dust and sand."

Nine-year old Bobby had darker hair, jeans and a Science Camp sweatshirt.  "That doesn't make any sense.  Some dinosaurs had brains the size of a walnut.  There's no way they could write stories on a computer."

"I didn't say they were good stories."

"And how would they write them?  None of the dinosaurs I've seen have hands or fingers.  Only a few of them even have toes.  How are they supposed to use a keyboard -- or even a pencil?"

"Good questions," Leo told him approvingly.  "But remember that computers get faster and more sophisticated every couple of years.  So if you think back all those millions of years, computers would have been very slow back then -- so slow that if a dinosaur attached a giant keyboard -- about fifty feet long and ten feet wide -- and then put down its hoof on one letter at a time, you'd have the speed just about right.  Instead of words per minute, you'd count minutes per word."

The two boys looked at each other.  "None of that makes any sense, Uncle Leo."

Leo shook his head and said, almost wistfully, "Everyone's a critic."  And then with a barely audible "pop", he vanished.

berry berry good Eric..

I'm still laughing. ;-)

I needed that.

Watch out for meteors and an ice age or two...



This is very funny - huge scape for loads of epistemological challenges[which I'm sure you'll respond to]. And empathy for dinosaurs in a socialogical praxis is breaking out the tall tales label you've added, I reckon[but I suppose everyone's got a view...]. That's pretty's got me thinking; I'm actually seriously thinking about dinosaurs arguing about chronology, but obviously you're ultimately right - maybe they really did and we will never know.Did dinosaurs have their own historians? Loved the dinosaur computer theory, too! And Uncle Leo is scary!If I was a kid, that would scare the you know what out of me. But it's real funny...[maybe I need a mirror?]

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