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A Good Guy With A Dinosaur
When it's a crime to own a murder dinosaur, only criminals will have murder dinosaurs.
It wasn’t long before everyone knew that dinosaurs were being released into the city. Nobody debated about that part—not at first.
Everyone agreed; dinosaurs were being released into the city.
It would have been a hard thing to deny. The screams were in everyone’s ears.
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You’d hear about it in the news, and you’d see the footage on social media, or, if you were unlucky, you’d see it yourself. Almost every day, sometimes more than once a day, one or more dinosaurs—about six feet tall, all corded muscle and metallic shiny feathers, talons like scimitars and beaks full of teeth, nightmarishly fast—would come dashing out of nowhere and grab people, landing on them with the full weight of a football linebacker, piercing their torsos with claws the size of steel plantains, tearing their human prey apart into chunks and gibbets in a horrifying instant. They’d do this again and again, until nobody remained in the area, then they’d return to their kill to eat. Some of the things were free-range, left over from previous releases, but clearly they were being released from vans and semi trucks and rented U-Hauls—there was often footage corroborating it, and usually there was a body. The people who released the dinosaurs were sometimes caught by authorities, but usually by the time the authorities arrived, the perpetrator had been (as one might expect) eaten by their own dinosaurs. Dying in the act of creating a massacre appeared to be a big part of the plan of the person releasing their dinosaurs. Almost every day, new dinosaurs were being released by somebody or other into some public place or another, to tear human beings apart until someone could be summoned to put the beasts down.
No public place in the city was immune from dinosaur attack: a church, a synagogue, a grocery, a dance club. Public schools were most popular.
The people who released dinosaurs into crowds really seemed to like targeting elementary schools—perhaps because of how distressing it was to most people.
It didn’t take long before the dinosaurs had become the primary cause of death of children in the city, because children, when cared for, tend not to experience natural causes of death, but dinosaurs were everywhere, not only in the occasionally unlucky school. They were in many of the children’s homes, for example, usually owned by the father, ironically enough as a safety precaution against potential dinosaur attack.
But still, day in and day out, dinosaurs definitely still also killed lots of adults. Every day, the dinosaurs killed people of all ages. It’s just that dinosaurs killed more children than any other killer of children.
This all created a real problem for the city’s leaders, who liked to use the safety of children as the pretext for a lot of the things they wanted to do, which often included shutting down public schools—and regular dinosaur attacks on public schools was a real boon to that effort in particular.
The problem this caused the city leaders was, they didn’t want to do anything about the dinosaur massacres, but they didn’t really want to say that.
Everyone agreed that it was tragic when the dinosaurs attacked, and that releasing apex predators into a public place was a despicable act that could only be the product of a deranged mind acting alone. The city leaders always looked grim and sad whenever the dinosaurs appeared and tore people apart, and all the people who had not been torn apart grieved and mourned, shaken to the core. And all the city leaders assured the people that they, too, grieved and mourned, that they, too, were shaken to the core.
So there was universal agreement—especially at first—that the dinosaur massacres were tragic. They were sad. Everyone knew that.
What the majority of the city’s people and the city leaders mostly disagreed about was whether or not dinosaur massacres were a problem. Specifically, the disagreement centered on whether or not the dinosaurs were the cause of the dinosaur massacres, and whether anything dinosaur-related should therefore be done to prevent dinosaur massacres.
The majority of the people of the city were very emotional, it should be noted, because it helps explain everything that came after. Whenever dinosaurs appeared with no warning and ripped a lot of people into hunks of meat, their reaction was predominantly an emotional one.
The city leaders were much more rational, which made them much more wise, allowing them to take a dispassionate long view of facts, and also to receive tens of millions of dollars each year from the dinosaur breeding industry, and all of this helped them understood things that the citizens of the city simply weren’t able to discern through their emotion-clouded judgment, things like: the fact that dinosaurs massacring citizens every day was just a normal and unavoidable part of city life; the fact that, as apex predators, dinosaurs were going to massacre some people most days; the fact that that this was just the price you paid for having a free land where people could own dinosaurs capable of massacring dozens of people in a matter of seconds.
But unfortunately, to most of the people of the city, it seemed fairly clear that the city was experiencing a serious dinosaur massacre problem, and that the solution would probably involve regulating dinosaur ownership, as well as the dinosaur breeding industry. These dinosaur breeding corporations had, at great expense and risk, perfected the genetic technology allowing science to bring extinct species back to live among us, and they had chosen to restore the most lethal of the dinosaurs, which was not a thing that the majority of the people wanted, but nevertheless it had to be admitted: these corporations had done it.
There was also a general understanding among the city’s people that it would be good to totally ban private ownership of the designer species masskilloraptor—boutique dinosaurs genetically selected in the lab for maximum predation and appetite and lethality, and hugely popular with the loud and angry minority of the city’s population that comprised the dinosaur industry’s primary clientele, and the favored tool by far of those owners who created massacre by releasing the dinosaurs into public spaces. The dinosaur industry’s loud and angry clientele were spending billions of dollars stocking pens and paddocks with dozens or hundreds or even thousands of masskilloraptors, keeping one or two of them in their basements, or six or seven chained up in their yards. And in fact whenever there was a dinosaur massacre, sales of dinosaurs in general and masskilloraptors in particular shot up. So it had to be admitted that whatever else one might say about dinosaur massacres, they were very good for business—specifically, the murder dinosaur business.
But this wild success also introduced problems. Clear sales data existed showing that before the dinosaur-breeding industry had been allowed to release masskilloraptors into the unrestricted private market, dinosaur massacres had been far less common. This had given the citizens of the city the emotional idea that dinosaur massacres were preventable, merely by regulating and restricting dinosaurs … and it was precisely this idea that created such a problem for the city’s leaders.
Because the people of the city expected something to change.
And the city’s leaders understood that the people of the city were wrong, you see.
The city leaders mostly stood with the dinosaur industry and its loud and angry clientele. They joined with the pro-dinosaur faction in insisting that game fowl ownership was a proud tradition in the city, a heritage passed from father to son, and a proud part of city identity, and that obviously masskilloraptors were a part of that tradition, because look—feathers.
They further insisted that technically no dinosaur had ever killed anybody, because dinosaurs, like all birds, were creatures of instinct, incapable of higher thought, and that the only thing that caused a dinosaur massacre was not a dinosaur, but a bad dinosaur owner deciding to release dinosaurs upon an unsuspecting population, which was something no good dinosaur owners would ever do. Dinosaurs didn’t kill people, they insisted: people killed people, using dinosaurs—but if a murderer couldn’t get a dinosaur, then they would just get something other murder weapon, like a hammer, so there was no point in restricting the sale and ownership of a creature specifically designed to be the most efficient killer the world had ever seen. These were the sorts of things that dinosaur owners would say at their dinosaur-owner conventions. which were hugely popular events put on by hugely wealthy captains of the dinosaur industry, events which were heavily attended by the city’s leaders, and to which no attendee was allowed to bring dinosaurs.
Additionally, the city leaders joined the dinosaur crowd’s insistence that the right to own dinosaurs represented a fundamental and protected right inscribed within the city’s founding charter, a vital (if not the most vital) component of freedom and liberty, and was in fact the only thing standing between a country’s citizenry and outright tyranny. “Tyranny” was a very important concept for dinosaur owners, and it meant “any imposition of any kind upon dinosaur owners,” and dinosaur owners let the city leaders know, that if the city’s leaders ever decided to ignore the demands of these liberty-loving people, then liberty-loving people would have no other option than to release their dinosaurs upon the unsuspecting city, in order to safeguard their property, their safety, and their liberty. And the city leaders agreed with the dinosaur owners, that, yes indeed, if they, as city leaders, ever stopped doing the bidding of the dinosaur owners, then it would only be reasonable, just, and righteous for them, as good dinosaur owners, to release their dinosaurs upon an unsuspecting city.
The city leaders’ alignment with all these beliefs perhaps explained why they had spent the recent decades appointing judges to repeal all rules and regulations providing oversight and restriction over dinosaur breeding and husbandry, and why they had obviated all the restrictions that would make it illegal to create dinosaur hybrids designed specifically for maximum lethality and predatory instinct, or to bring predatory dinosaurs into public places, or to keep dinosaurs concealed in a private residences. (Perhaps in addition to their shared ideology, the tens of millions of dollars in annual contributions from the dinosaur breeding industry had something to do with the city leaders’ alignment as well, but these sorts of politically biased speculations were generally understood to be unseemly.)
In any event, the city leaders were aligned ideologically with the dinosaur-rights faction, and in response to the troublesome expectation from the majority of the people of the city that something be done to stop the daily dinosaur massacres, the city leaders appealed to the patriotism and civic duty undergirding this ideology.
Distressingly, the majority of the city’s people didn’t love freedom and liberty as much as the dinosaur-rights faction. They still insisted that the answer to the dinosaur massacres must logically be centered on regulating dinosaurs. They remonstrated that when those same laws now being used to defend unrestricted ownership of masskilloraptors were first drafted, there existed no technology to restore dinosaurs from extinction, much less to create new species specifically designed to hunt and kill a lot of people in a breathtakingly short time; and furthermore, that the text of the law, if studied, revealed clauses clearly drafted as provisions allowing a city’s population to stay fed, with phrases dealing primarily with ownership of game fowl through well-regulated urban civilian chicken farms … and while dinosaurs technically were birds, they weren’t anything like the chickens the city’s founders would have been thinking of, so the law’s practice now seemed to have strayed far from its spirit … and in any case, there were murder dinosaurs loose in the city.
The city leaders then tried appealing to mathematics. They pointed out that the city was immense and densely populated, filled with millions upon millions of people, and while dinosaur attacks were scary and made splashy headlines, the truth was that each year the roving bands of masskilloraptors were only slicing between nine to seventeen hundred of that huge population of people into easily digestible chunks, which meant that from a purely statistical view of things, these dinosaur massacres weren’t really happening to anybody at all … but the people, who weren’t as sophisticated as the city leaders in matters of statistics, remained stubbornly unconvinced, and insisted that the main issue was that there were murder dinosaurs loose in the city.
The city leaders next tried appealing to logic. They pointed out that actually masskilloraptors were only responsible for a tiny fraction of the much larger number of dinosaur-related deaths each year, and that most of the thousands upon thousands of dinosaur-related deaths each year were not intentional acts of mayhem, but accidents that happened at home or crimes of passion. They pointed out that laws restricting dinosaurs would be unlikely to be obeyed by the sort of people who release masskilloraptors into crowds, so the only effect of any restriction would be less masskilloraptors owned by good law-abiding dinosaur owners in any area where masskilloraptors might start a mass killing. But strangely, this logical appeal did not help the people understand that dinosaurs were not a problem. Worse, it seemed to make the people believe that the dinosaur “problem” (as they insisted on calling it) was an even more far-reaching public health menace than the massacres alone made it seem. And they continued to point out that none of these arguments touched upon the fact that there were murder dinosaurs loose in the city.
The increasingly harried city leaders, unable to placate the growing number of increasingly unreasonable people who demanded answers to the “murder dinosaurs,” at last searched around in desperations for acceptable solutions, taking all the best ideas available from: (1) the dinosaur industry, (2) its increasingly infuriated clientele of dinosaur enthusiasts; (3) absolutely nobody else.
The leaders suggested that the answer to the daily dinosaur attacks might be making certain public spaces much more inhospitable in general, and therefore much harder places into which to release dinosaurs. The people of the city were unappeased. Their rather unreasonable point was that this would probably only mean that murder dinosaurs would be released in places that had not yet been made inhospitable. Taking a deep breath, the leaders suggested perhaps the answer was to make all public spaces inhospitable. Again, no; the city’s people said that making all public spaces inhospitable was an unacceptable price to pay just so that a relatively small number of people could own a larger and larger stable of murder dinosaurs.
Frustrated but undeterred, the leaders suggested that the answer might be giving elementary school teachers murder dinosaurs of their own, to keep in the classroom as protection in case a murder dinosaur ever infiltrated the classroom. The people of the city said that their children were already traumatized by the regular dinosaur attack drills they were compelled to engage in, due to the city leaders’ refusal to do anything about the murder dinosaurs, and if the city leaders’ proposal was to keep a murder dinosaur present at all times in the room, the people very unhelpfully suggested, then the city leaders should probably go to hell.
The city leaders suggested that maybe teachers alone shouldn’t have to carry this burden, that perhaps the answer was for everybody to have at least one dinosaur, and that the real problem was that there were too many places in the city that currently had no dinosaurs, which made them very attractive low-competition areas for dinosaurs. The people once again parroted their tired refrain, insisting that the problem of dinosaur massacres was that there were murder dinosaurs loose in the city.
It was clear to any reasonable observer, the city leaders concluded, that the majority of the city’s people simply weren’t interested in seeking solutions.
Having failed with patriotism, mathematics, logic, and reasonable solutions, the city’s leaders began to question the motives of the large majority of emotional fools who insisted that dinosaur massacres had something to do with dinosaurs.
So you’re against self-defense of the home and family? they asked.
Cars kill people, too, they said. Do you want to get rid of cars?
You can’t prevent this, they said. If somebody wants to release a dinosaur, they’re going to do it.
There are plenty of laws already on the books about dinosaurs, they said, and criminals don’t follow those. What makes you think these laws will be different?
What about all the dinosaurs in Chicago, they asked, getting more and more frustrated. You’re so concerned about dinosaurs here, but you never talk about all the dinosaur murders there. If you think they should be solved here, why not solve them there?
And they sighed in frustration as the mulish idiot people of the city pointed to their idiot charts and graphs based on ridiculous, provable, sourced data, that showed that as far as self-defense went, the person most likely to be eaten by a dinosaur is the owner of the dinosaur or the owner’s family; that as to Chicago, they also wanted to get dinosaurs out of Chicago and anyplace else infested by murder dinosaurs; that as to the inevitability, every other place that had imposed restrictions on dinosaurs didn’t have daily dinosaur attacks; that as to existing laws, the city’s leaders had already gotten rid of many existing laws, and sabotaged others, that the laws that remained had massive loopholes, and that the laws proposed would not criminalize owners but would seek to restrict manufacture and supply; and finally, as to automobiles, cars, unlike murder dinosaurs, were already regulated and restricted and registered in recognition of their potential lethality, and moreover provided a function beyond dinosaur murder.
At this the dinosaur owners themselves really lost their patience, having had it up to here with all this ignorant talk about “murder dinosaurs,” which wasn’t even a thing that existed. The masskilloraptor was not a murder dinosaur, they pointed out, but a “genetically recombined predation-optimized hybrid retroextinct apex predator,” and anyone too ignorant about the subject to learn the correct terminology shouldn’t be allowed to opine on the matter of daily dinosaur massacres.
Eventually the city leaders and the dinosaur enthusiasts, faced with a stubborn and ignorant majority that foolishly insisted on blaming dinosaurs for daily dinosaur massacres, were forced to take matters into their own hands.
That was when the dinosaur rights faction and their representatives in the city could no longer agree that dinosaur attacks were tragedies, or even that they were actually happening.
Eventually, the dinosaur owners were forced to begin subscribing to conspiracy theories that the children “killed” in school dinosaur massacres were actually crisis actors funded by shadowy Jewish oligarchs who were creating false narratives to make dinosaurs and their owners look bad. Eventually, to defend their reputations as good dinosaur owners, they began to systemically seek out and stalk and harass and intimidate the survivors of those attacks, and the loved ones of those who had died.
Eventually, the dinosaur owners began consuming propaganda that openly talked about the types of people who ought to have dinosaurs released upon them, and then when such dinosaur attacks occurred, expressed shock and outrage at any suggestion that the attacks had been motivated by them, or by anything, or were anything other than deranged lunatics acting alone.
And there were dinosaur shirts and bumper stickers offering increasingly direct threats of dinosaur attack.
All this made preventing dinosaur massacres a very polarizing topic, which helpfully allowed the city leaders to begin to sharply criticize as gross political opportunists anyone who, in the aftermath of a particularly horrific dinosaur attack, suggested that something should be done about all the murder dinosaurs loose in the city.
In time, the people began to lose track of the dinosaur massacres; there were so many every week, almost every day. They stopped being news items. They had become almost normal.
The city leaders were called upon less and less to look somber about it.
The city leaders told themselves that they hated to see it happen, but they had to agree that the embattled dinosaur industry and the now completely infuriated minority that comprised its clientele had been left with little option, faced with an unreasonable and tyrannical majority who clearly wanted to take away their god-given dinosaurs.
If the dinosaur-rights faction didn’t fight back against the radical anti-masskilloraptor agenda, after all, these elitist extremists in the majority with their data and facts might try to make a world with no dinosaur massacres.
And certainly nobody wanted that.
After all, they reasoned, in such a world, what would be the point of all these dinosaurs?
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A.R. Moxon is the author of The Revisionaries, which is available in most of the usual places, and some of the unusual places, and is co-writer of Sugar Maple, a musical fiction podcast from Osiris Media which goes in your ears. He’s a fast machine, he keeps his motor clean.