Beware the ...?
I'm standing at a dilapidated visitors center. The building was condemned in 2008 when a monsoon came and tore off half of the roof. Steel sheets lean on the walls. They're rusted on the sides, an amber red that almost blends in with the painted interior which is peeling off its greying soft wood. Next to me is the rookie; Nez, short for Nezbit, strange name, 150 pounds, Irish face, five one, eyes level with the door knob, tired sun baked cheeks. His low angled gaze doesn't change when I tell him about the stick protocol. The Y stick I call it. I've got a lot of good times with the Y stick. I tell him of the pig like noise the beasts make when I give them a gentle nose press, less than gentle on other occasions. He smiles and nods. I'm not sure if he's lifted his gaze yet or just turned his head to another side of the room. That reddened face is towards the abandoned kiosk now. It was filled with scenic pamphlets before the incident, the mighty komodos in bout on the inside among other photos taken by the elusive C.B Wright. He (or she) always slipped new pictures in our mail slot in the back with contact information. The slot gave its signature two and a half dull creaks when new stuff came in, but I never witnessed the photos pour down from Wright. They always appeared without reason. Nez was spacing without reason. It was time for the reinforcements.
Now it was the front doors turn. It gave off one and three quarters squeaks instead of two and a half. Ahh the memories. It's Gary Walker whose opened it. He's got the youthful tan body and frosted tips of a Jersey Shore wannabe. Blood pools down his lower calf. I'm not sure if he has met Nez yet. The kid seems to notice him. His gaze no longer in half power, now full throttle, the eyes gyrating up and down between Gary's numb eyes and exposed muscle. My brother in arms is now hands and knees to the floor. He's doing a bear crawl that's more of a down dog. Every time his small bundle of pad lock keys falls out of his pocket, he does this awkward motive yoga pose. It's almost embarrassing when he does it. As far as I know he's thirty five and had no hip issues. I give out an alarmed yelp to reassert the shocking nature of the situation. No need it seems. Nez already understands.
I forgot to implore that I have a gun. It's cold handle is wrapped into my hand, a magnum ready for a fury of lead. The handle has ivory sides. I replaced them from wood ones last month. Lucky me. Gary rushes through the door. One of the beasts is behind him. It looks sunned out and lazy. Perhaps I shouldn't call it an it, it's a diminutive term for the majestic grey creature. With another one and a half creaks, the rotting door slams against its peeling frame.
"Ambulance! Ambulance!" yells Gary.
He's holding a frayed strip of fabric from his yellow Komodo Island shirt. It's really more of an orange brown, but my colorblindness sees it as yellow. They were dyed from the bright mud on the island and pressed with blue lettering and an artist rendered image of the iconic bout photo from none other than the mysterious Wright. The ink used is a little rough to the touch, but stays unflaked after many washes. I appreciate my good quality shirt unlike Gary, whose ripping out more strips of his thirty dollar uniform to make a tourniquet. I take the hand off of the gun and go to my knees to help him tie the strands. Nez joins me on the floor. His red face is now pale. The phone in his pocket slides into his hands. Fingers flick down the cracked screen. Wave of panic. I whack it out of his hand before the number is sent.
"What the hell!" he yelps.
"Don't call, it'll be a waste of their time," I said.
I'm on my knees, looking at Gary's gash. The skin surrounding the bite is rubbery, pale, plastic. While its bloody drippings are different, the general shape of it is the same; a deep gash about my hand's length, three peelings of skin an inch away from its bottom end, the entire surroundings of the wound is raised, a dead giveaway. A get a pair of blue nitrile gloves from the neglected first aid kit by the window.
"Let's see what we got here." I say this like Gary has a splinter up his ass.
When I look back over to Nez, his panicked demeanor hasn't changed. The poor kid hasn't caught on yet. I feel a bit sorry for what I'm about to do next, but it should bring him to reality. With a hard jerk of the hand, I stake my fingers into the wound. Gary shrieks. His blood smells of starch. I pull. A curved black claw comes out of the fleshy ether. It's dripping in my hand, something from the front limb of a velociraptor. Nez jerks back a bit on his hands and knees, more bewildered, confused. I open the door two inches ajar.
"Is this yours?" I ask to the beast outside.
I wave the large claw to it before tossing it out in a rage. With that I take out my gun. For a second, the smooth ivory on my fingers brings pleasure, but then I remember Nez is going to pass out.
"Have this you fat swine!" I take three shots. Their bangs bounce off the metal roofing. I don't know where they went, don't care. The beast has moved to the bushes, a little shocked by the noise and no holes in its hide, but Nez doesn't know that. He's still behind me inside with no proper visual of the event. I slam the door and rush back to Gary. He's still on the floor, groaning. Nez is about close to this point too. I feel a little bad for his state. It's time to complete the hazing.
"All right, lets get this over with," I said to Gary.
Coming back to my knees, I grab the raised area of the wound and pull, hard.
"What are you doing?" yells Nez. By the shaking of his hands and voice, I can tell he's at the near start of hysterics.
As expected the skin is smooth and rubbery. I keep pulling until the whole wound is peeling like a pale scab. Sinews of plastic sticky "flesh" is stretched out as I remove the entire bloody area. It stretches and snaps off into my hand, a bloody skin sticker. No gash is underneath, just a shiny residue. Nez stands there silent. I laugh. Soon the color returns, some of it anyways. I reopen the door and snatch the claw from outside. It's covered with grass clippings and drops of starch blood.
"Can you tell me what this is?" I said in a stern school teacher manner.
"A..a komodo claw?" said Nez.
"This is a dinosaur claw, not a Komodo's. What on earth makes you have that connection? You need some more training rookie. If this were a real scenario, that poor beast out there could've been framed," I scold back.
"Oh shut up!"
Nez is back on his feet. Without another word, he turns around and rushes out the back door. Gary and I are about ready the burst. The second he leaves we're back on the floor again, nearly choking with laughter. Nez will come around to it, we'll see.