It was the middle of March when I woke up stranded on a desert island with nothing but a dinosaur for company. Nightmare? Alternate universe? Experiment gone horribly wrong? You decide. Either way, the experience has taken a toll on my sanity, because there are exactly two of us. Thank my lucky starfish, this desert island has trees and rocks and a little bit of underbrush, because the dinosaur would eat me in a few chomps otherwise.
Oh, you’re wondering what type of dinosaur it is? Wouldn’t it be great if it was a friendly little Compsognathus, small and dumb enough that I could wring its neck like a turkey? Or, heck, I’d even take a bulky T-rex that would make the entire island tremble with each step he took—and perhaps even make the island sink into the sea, taking the oversized lizard with it.
But no such luck.
I’m stuck on an island with a blasted Velociraptor. Not the kind you see on Jurassic Park, that’s a nice human size and has soft baby skin. A little closer to the historical monstrosity—or, bird—this thing has feathers, is half my height, but still possesses the sharpest teeth and talons imaginable.
Every day since I arrived, food falls from the sky (cue experiment theory). Every day I have to bolt to the pile of cooked steak before bird-brain makes her glorious appearance and decides to turn me into her dessert. Sometimes I arrive at the pile of food first and devour the feast before she shows up. Sometimes I have to hide in the brush—my stomach grumbling at me in disappointment while I watch Featherbrain dig in—hoping I’ll have better luck tomorrow.
But this ends today. Because today I worked my fingers to the bone creating a trap.
I crouch low in the brush, and wait for Featherbrain to appear. The food has arrived, a banquet that consists of not one, but two slices of steak. And they’ve even added a side of fries this time. My mouth waters, but I resist the urge to bolt and stuff the food down my throat like half-starved python. Because every day that both Featherbrain and I survive is another day we’re locked on this sweltering purgatory.
Every day that both Featherbrain and I survive is another day we’re locked on this sweltering purgatory.
Eventually, bright feathers appear on the other side of the circle. A taloned foot steps out, the claw tapping anxiously, like a nervous ballerina tiptoeing onto the stage. I laugh to myself. Little does Miss Bird-brain know how cunning her audience is. Finally, Featherbrain darts into the clearing like a roadrunner. Does that make me Coyote? And does that mean my trap is going to backfire?
Featherbrain sniffs the steak, then pins a slice to the ground with her talon and rips into the meat. The flesh-eating barbarian. My nose scrunches up in disgust. I wipe my slick palms on my jeans, then reach for the lever that will release the cage.
Featherbrain pauses, then looks in my direction. I freeze, but cloaked beneath large fronds, I remain invisible. She returns to her meal, and I stretch my fingers just a little farther to release the lever—when a snout peeks out from the brush by my hand.
Bright feathers. Eagle eyes. I glance at the clearing, where Featherbrain still eats. Then back at Eagle Eyes.
Well. Son of a Brachiosaurus. Featherbrain has an over-protective boyfriend. How have I lived on this island this long without knowing there were not one, but two Velociraptors? Eagle Eyes’s lipless mouth curves up into what appears to be a savage grin.
I look ahead at Featherbrain, but her attention has been averted from her dinner—to her dessert. My heart pounds. A bead of sweat rolls down my spine at the grim realization. Trapped by the one I intended to trap. It’s the classic turning of tables, the ultimate hunter-is-hunted tale.
My mouth is dry as the sand beneath my feet, but in the moment of utter horror I manage to whisper, “Clever girl,” before Featherbrain leaps into the air straight toward me.
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Meet the Author
Sara Baysinger grew up in the heart of the Andes Mountains in Ecuador where she spent her time exploring uncharted lands and reading all things magical. She now lives among the endless cornfields of Indiana with her husband and two young children. BLACK TIGER is her first novel.