The Hunters, by Bruce Corbett



Copyright  2010  Bruce Corbett


Smashwords Edition





Smashwords Edition, License Notes




The second millennium was quickly coming to an end and the pressures from an overwhelming counselling workload were building. There was only one rational solution. I escaped into a world of fantasy every chance I got. Instead of runaways and would-be suicides, I faced evil emperors and some of the most deadly dinosaurs that ever lived. In Man's First Enemy, I wrote of encounters between man and dinosaurs from the dinosaurs' point of view. In the interest of fairness, here is the other side of the story.





The air shimmered strangely, and then there was a rush of displaced molecules. Suddenly a huge globular contrivance materialized in the Cretaceous meadow. The ferns and primitive trees were crushed by the massive weight.

A portal irised, and five human shapes stepped down onto ground that had disappeared under a kilometre of water before, paradoxically, their first ancestors had stood upright. Three were dressed in the best tradition of African safaris, and the remaining two were dressed in blue working denim. All carried Kalashnikov AK 94s, but the two in denim also had an assortment of other objects strapped to their backs.

Safari Suit One, Lord Eaton-Jones by name, was tall, thin, and the haughty end-product of generations of selective British inbreeding. The lord carefully clicked off the safety of his weapon, and turned to Little Pete, the assistant guide.

"I say. Just why did you give us these rifles?"

"Mister, when you're 70 million years from home and you could be facing hundreds of tons of charging meat and teeth, you want a gun with a lot of stopping power, and one that won't jam up, no matter what. The army M23s, now, are nice guns, built to fine tolerances, but these babies were built to be dependable in Russian mud and winter. If they'll work there, they'll work anywhere, anytime. They may not be quite so accurate on single fire, but you just hold the trigger down for a while and watch what happens. Get a little dirt in it, and it just keeps on punching lead."

Jeff Killroy, the third client in the exclusive safari, was American. The portly multi-billionaire was considerably older than his two comrades, and bald. He held the weapon awkwardly, and spoke in a deep and resonant voice.

"Just how do we get away with using these things, anyway? I thought that it was TimeTrav's cardinal rule that we don't disturb the local fauna."

Big John, the professional guide and leader of the safari, responded. "Mr. Killroy, the rules say that you can use weapons only in self defence. Trust me, you see a Tyrannosaurus in full charge, you’re going to feel a sudden need to defend yourself. These animals are for real. They will eat you if they can catch you. They ain't got large brains, but their stomachs are generally empty, and their teeth are almighty big!"

Even as they spoke, a herd of mixed herbivores drifted gradually back into sight. Their primitive brains now accepted that the stationary globe was in no way making hostile moves toward them, and the five small creatures beside it were too far away and too puny to be worth any serious consideration.

The five stood idly watching the herd and admiring the sun-swept savannah, interspersed occasionally with copses of primitive trees and modern oaks and hickories. Finally, when the tourists had rubbernecked long enough, the two guides unloaded the two Hover-Jeeps, and, after turning on a force field that was capable of keeping their time machine safe even from a cranky Tyrannosaurus Rex, they loaded up the three safari suits and set off on their Cretaceous adventure.

Lucy Bauer, the lone female in the group, spoke up for the very first time when the guides stopped the vehicles at the top of a rise overlooking the otherwise flat savannah. The woman was only in her late twenties, and very shy, though obviously rich enough to pay for the incredibly expensive journey through time.

"Have any humans ever visited this exact time era before?"

Big John was a powerful looking man. He hooked his thumbs in his belt, looked deliberately at the rich client, and let his gaze run insolently from head to toes. Only when he finished his survey did he answer.

"Not exactly, Miss. Paleontologists and Biologists have made repeated trips to this era, but you're talking millions of years, and, anyways, the laws of Temporal Displacement don't allow anyone to come twice to within a hundred years of this specific time frame. Even that is considered a close call, and, to be safe, the regs say no second group can come within a thousand years. They hope, that way, to ensure that there is no possible permanent temporal disturbance caused by our visits."

"But then how do you know it's safe for us to be here?"

"Now, Miss. The scientists have bracketed the era by a million years on either side. And we've been on several safaris within this time frame, give or take a couple of million years. We have the best protective equipment available, and the force fields are invulnerable. You don't have to worry your pretty little head about a thing!"

Even as he spoke, a giant Alamosaurus lumbered from the swamp just visible to their left. The huge creature towered over the herd of mixed Triceratops, Duckbills, and Anklyosaurs, who were themselves giant by the standards of the human era. As the gigantic animal plodded toward a copse of trees, the very ground shook. The herbivores instinctively knew that this slow-moving giant was not a threat, but still sidled out of its direct path.

 Lucy grew excited. "Wow! That must be one of the biggest things that ever lived on the face of the earth! Can we get closer? I want to take some pictures!"

Big John, the leader, responded. "Yes, ma'am, we'll tour around the herds tomorrow. But you will have to stay in the vehicle, and we can't get too close to the animals. The Triceratops down there - the ones with three horns on their heads? They ain't too bright, but if they decide that you're a danger, they form a defensive ring, and several of the old bulls are likely to charge out at us. They can run faster than you think, and the Hover-Jeeps are little protection if they catch up to us."

Lucy spoke in a squeaky voice that reflected her anxiety. "Then how do we protect ourselves from them?"

"Simple, Miss. We don't bother them, and they don't bother us. They're not the ones you have to worry about, anyway.”

“So what do we do?”

“That's easy. We set up a force-field perimeter where we camp, just like we left around the time capsule, and,' he smiled, 'I always have ol' Betsy."

With that he dexterously unslung the tube that he had been carrying on his back, and unclipped it.

Jeff Killroy reacted. 'Holy shit! That's a LAW-2! Surely TimeTrav doesn't allow those things back in time?!"....................This story is available for purchase at, Apple eBook store, from Sony, Diesel, Barnes and Noble, and, soon, Amazon.