The babies survived this time. Pecked out of their shells and toddled about, slick with scraps of membrane they hadn’t yet licked clean of their skin. All the appendages in the right places, pointing in the right directions.
Bambiraptor couldn’t believe they had come out of her body. Her body packaged all these units, and this time it had done the job perfectly. It wasn’t like before, with eggs that never hatched, eggs filled with sunset yolks that oozed over her claws when curiosity got the better of her.
The babies were so stupid at first. They didn’t know anything. Give them a lizard, even a dead one, and they were hopeless. One of the babies sat on it. Bambiraptor had to chew the little corpse up before the stupid babies realized it was food. But she kept at it, and the babies grew taller and stronger. She still didn’t quite believe they were real until one of them asked her why she was alone, and then they were real enough.
The babies learned to feed and run, to move as a pack. They learned to hate her. They couldn’t hurt her physically, not with their bitty teeth and soft, transparent claws. But they had decided that she should suffer.
“I don’t like you.”
“I don’t love you anymore.”
“Stop it, Mamma. Stop it.”
“You’ve corrected the mistakes of your own mother, only to commit worse ones.”
“You have failed to equip us to survive without you.”
“We are a reflection of you as you truly are.”
When she broke down, flat on the earth with her head in the bottom of the nest, they finally took pity. They curled into the crook of her forearm, the slope of her leg. They nuzzled her. Their teeth were grown now. Their claws were sharp. Tenderly, they began to feed.
Kelsie Hahn’s prose chapbook “Last Days of the Microsaurs”, which includes “Offspring” and other tiny dinosaur stories, is forthcoming from The Cupboard Pamphlet. Her chapbook “Responsibility” is available from Lit House Press, and other fiction has appeared in Passages North, Caketrain, Cartridge Lit, NANO Fiction, and others. She holds an MFA in fiction from New Mexico State University and lives near Seattle. More at kelsiehahn.com.
(Next: Watch by Ken Cormier)
(Previous: After the Fog Come the Hunters by Jad Josey)
Feel like submitting? Check out our submission guidelines
Image (derived from): Conty