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Professor Challenger by William Meikle

Professor Challenger by William Meikle

Author:William Meikle [Meikle, William]
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
Publisher: Dark Regions Press
Published: 2013-06-04T07:00:00+00:00


“We’ll brief you, and your men if you wish, on the boat,” I said. “But only if you’ve got something to eat and drink. I could murder a cup of tea and a smoke.”

That got me a smile.

“A man after my own heart. Right this way. The tea will be ready in five minutes.”

He led us to a docked boat, which may even have been the very same one we traveled in on the previous trip. The squad spent some time loading supplies and munitions on deck, then, over the promised tea and a smoke Challenger and I told the Major as much as were we able, omitting only any mention of Roxton.

Of course he was completely incredulous at first, thinking we were pulling his leg. But Challenger’s obvious seriousness and his proclamations as to the possible scale of the problem soon won the Major over.

“Of course I recognize you now, Professor, and I well remember the papers telling of your adventures in the Amazon. But surely the beasts you encountered there were of enormous size? These ones you’re talking about now seem to be completely different. What in blazes are they?” the Major asked plaintively.

To my surprise Challenger had at least a partial answer.

“The ones we were shown on our visit seem quite unlike anything found so far in the fossil record,” he said. “But I have sent several telegrams on the matter to Barnum Brown in Canada, a man who has much experience in the field. He thinks they might be of the Dromaeosauridae, a family of bird-like theropods. Obviously they are carnivorous, and Brown believes them to have been a second-level predator in the Cretaceous Period. He was most pleased to discover they were pack hunters, as it is something he has long suspected.”

“And does this Brown chap know anything that will actually help us beyond the usage of long words?” the Major asked.

Challenger smiled.

“He doesn’t. But I may.”

He would not be drawn on the matter, but I started to hope that maybe the Professor knew what he was doing, and that we might have a chance, however slim, of resolving the situation on the island.

* * *

After the Major briefed his men we started to get more questions from the squad. One man in particular, Cameron, a blocky Scottish sergeant who fairly bristled with belligerence, seemed most interested.

“So these lizard boogers?” he asked as he brought us a fresh pot of tea some two hours in to the trip. “They’re like some kind of crocodiles are they? I killed two o’ them in India. We shouldnae have any problems with the likes o’ them.”

Both Challenger and I tried to explain that what waited on the island were faster, angrier and more dangerous than any crocodile ever could be, but the man seemed to have made up his mind, possibly as his own way of coping with the growing tension on deck.

“Boogering running crocodiles,” he said. “That’s all we need. But the lads here have seen worse. We’ll handle it just fine, you mark my words.



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