Writing Contest Entry: Drought (Gorgosaurus vs. Pachyrhinosaurus)
Here is my entry for the tyrannosaur vs. ceratopsian writing contest. Enjoy fellow readers!
Contest Entry: Drought (Gorgosaurus vs. Pachyrhinosaurus)
75 million years ago, Alberta, Canada…
Desperate times call for desperate measures. And during these desperate times, one can bear witness to extraordinary events.
One of these times was drought. Water was scarce, forests grew bare, and the ground grew hot as the blazing sun bared down on the Earth’s dreary life forms.
Some fish and amphibians could deal with the drought by coating themselves with a water tight seal around their bodies after burying themselves. Once the rains came back, they would awaken from their hibernation and continue feeding and breeding. But the terrestrial vertebrates didn’t have this ability. They had to travel far and wide for food and water. None were more affected than the large dinosaurs.
Being alone in the wasteland that was once called home is sometimes beneficial, but at other times dangerous. There were fewer mouths to feed, but it makes you more vulnerable in confrontation.
Fortunately for a young adult Gorgosaurus, his sense of smell was guiding his wasting body to a sustainable water source. The bachelor panted harshly to cool off. The dry heat was intense at best under the branches of the now-dead trees. The forest that once was used to teem with life. But now, it looked bleak. The shadows cast by the trees’ limbs resembled large claws, ready to strike down any creature who entered its vicinity.
He wasn’t used to drought. His family always migrated during times of scarcity, following the great herds of herbivores to fulfill their voracious appetites. He grew up under the guidance of strong parents, who went to great lengths to prepare him and his siblings for survival. But once he attained a certain size, he was ousted. He had proven he could fend for himself, just like his two older brothers, and they were sentenced to travel farther away from their parents’ territory. Then the drought came, worse than any before. The brothers eventually agreed to disband their little fraternity, going their own way in order to survive.
But doubt crept into his mind. Even if he could find water, he needed food. An actual round-bodied, plant-eating, walking platter of meat. He had not seen any animal of satisfactory size for weeks, and had to scrape by on small lizards and mammals, and sometimes a few unlucky pterosaurs. The male knew that if he didn’t find a large prey item soon, he will die soon enough, even though the water would delay it for now.
As he soldiered on through the grim-looking trees, the shallow remnants of the pond came into site. For a moment, the Gorgosaurus thought he was hallucinating, but his sniffer told him otherwise. There was indeed water close by. So he shook his doubts and starvation from his mind, and slowly made his way toward the beckoning oasis.
After making his way over the hot ground to the pond, he didn’t bother checking his surroundings, in case another dinosaur was already there. He gently waded into the water, which while hot, was much cooler than the ground, bringing relief to his toes. Then, the old boy sat down in the water under an over-hanging dead tree, further cooling his body. He sighed, for once feeling relaxed as his large head was lowered to the water. It felt wonderful to rehydrate, feeling the life-saving liquid drip from his muzzle as his tongue lapped up his fill of the precious water.
Once he had his fill, he lay his head down, so his throat felt the ripples of water created by his feathered body. He felt more relaxed than he had in a while, and wanted to savour it. Perhaps it will be alright if he closed his eyes for a little while…
He had no clue how long he lay in that little pond, but suddenly a deep grunt woke him up, making him leap back twenty feet. No less than fifty feet away stood a surprised Pachyrhinosaurus. He knew how dangerous these herbivores were. His family had always taken extra care when hunting these beasts. The big bosses on their noses were hard enough to break ribs if you were too slow to get out of their way, and they had nasty tempers when angered. All but the most experienced and fiercest of his kind hunted Pachyrhinosaurus alone, his parents being among the elite.
Fear gripped his mind, freezing him on the spot. He didn’t want to leave the pond, not knowing how long the Pachyrhinosaurus will stay and missing out on another drink, but he didn’t want to stay and tangle with a rampaging bull, risking serious injury. That would be the worst thing to happen to him in a drought.
Surprisingly, the Pachyrhinosaurus didn’t charge. They tended to jump right into fight mode when confronted with a threat if they didn’t run. But this bull just bore his gaze towards the predator opposite him. After staring down the Gorgosaurus for what seemed an eternity, the Pachyrhinosaurus slowly walked into the shallow pool and began to drink.
First, the carnivorous biped was confused, then curious. He cocked his head, trying to figure out what this ceratopsian was really up to. The musculature of his companion was impressive, though reduced from a lack of food and water. His frill bore decorative horns that were either still growing, or had broken off. His face and body bore some scars from past battles with predators and others of his kind. This was a specimen to behold, fear, and respect.
Despite his imposing physique, he saw how the drought sapped the grazer’s strength. He moved like he was on his last legs, and his eyes betrayed how weak and desperate he was for nourishment. In fact, he looked as desperate to quench his thirst as was the tyrannosaur a while ago. He reminded the Gorgosaurus of himself.
This was the first time the Gorgosaurus ever took the time to consider how those other than his kind were affected. He now had a better understanding of how the world was greater and more connected than he ever imagined. Drought and tragedy affected everyone, and only now did the Gorgosaurus comprehend its effects.
With the great ceratopsian’s head down, the predator walked to the edge of the slowly-diminishing water hole. He deemed it safe enough to get somewhat closer for a drink, and did just that. His mind was now spinning with perceiving the world in a new light. It used to be just hunt, eat, sleep, and repeat with him. Previously, survival and family were the only things he ever thought about in a kill or be killed world. He only saw prey as…food. But now, it seemed like everyone in the region, from the largest of dinosaurs to the smallest of animals could be in the same boat as him; starving, dehydrated, and probably alone.
“What was his life like?” thought the Gorgosaurus, staring at his own reflection while rehydrating. “Where is his herd? Does he have brothers? Sisters? His parents? Where did he live before? Does he have a family of his own?” Despite being an entirely different creature, right down to what they ate, he couldn’t help but see the lumbering beast as an equal, as if he had a soul like him.
The bull shifted his gaze to the tyrannosaur’s, and looked him dead in the eye, almost as if acknowledging his thoughts. The Gorgosaurus still couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that he was face-to-face with a natural rival and prey item, but they both had no desire to attack each other. Just two admirable creatures, brought together by drought, having a drink.
“No one would believe this,” thought the Gorgosaurus. “Prey and predator, side by side, silently bound to a truce.”
Some time passed, and the mighty meat eater meditated, only sensing the dry heat, the cool water, and his companion’s presence. He felt at peace, until the hunger reared its head inside his gut. He remembered how he needed to eat, and soon.
The peaceful sense of world unity started to leave him, as his instinct to hunt crept back into his psyche, and began to fight for supremacy.
The risk of getting hurt from hunting a fully grown Pachyrhinosaurus alone was very high, which could prove disastrous for the tyrannosaur’s chances of surviving long enough to see the drought’s end. And it was through this creature’s actions that the unthinkable had happened: predator and prey at peace when together at a watering hole. The drought brought them together, solidifying this rare truce between carnivore and herbivore.
But that same drought has the power to drive one to take every measure to survive to the next day. The late Cretaceous Period was only for the tough and fit. If you weren’t, there was a good chance you wouldn’t make it. If there was food in front of a starving animal, it would have to seize the opportunity to spare yourself from further deprivation.
“Your next meal is right in front of you. Go for it!” whispered the predator’s instinct within, as its host drank slowly.
“But what about the truce? Isn’t it better to leave the poor creature alone? He’s in survival mode as well, and hasn’t attacked you,” countered the altruistic and more cautious side.
“It doesn’t matter when you have to survive!”
“You can get hurt, maybe even killed! The risk is too great for injury.”
“It’s better than starving to death in this drought! At least there’s a chance you’ll be better off!”
As the altruism and survival instincts confronted each other in his head, the Gorgosaurus sensed a shift in his surroundings. Things seemed tenser and more still, even though everything looked the same.
Looking at the male ceratopsian in front of the Gorgosaurus gave him a clue. The Pachyrhinosaurus gave him a knowing look before drinking again. He knew that this brief peace was almost certainly going to end.
Almost in shame, he averted the Pachy’s brief gaze. He didn’t want to harm the plodding herbivore, but he needed to think of himself as well.
Finally he made his decision. He will fight to kill and eat, or die trying.
“You must be relentless. That is the trick to bringing down one of these thick-nosed prey.”
That was his parents’ advice when instructed how to kill different types of prey. There was no letting up with Pachyrhinosaurus, so that the fear of being attacked would prevent them from defending themselves as well. The problem with this advice now was the heat. If he couldn’t bring him down fast enough, he would overheat, and be even more vulnerable.
Slowly, the vivid memories and images of past hunts played in his mind’s eye as he closed his own. He kept rewinding the way how his parents attacked their victims, so he could do the same.
“Charge head-on, but keep your body alongside his head. Be more agile. Try to knock him off balance. Go for the frill or legs if you can’t reach the neck.”
For what seemed like a long moment, time stood still. No creatures stirred. No ripples disturbed the water’s surface. The breeze had completely died down. Not a sound was heard.
Then, like a bullet fired from a gun, the Gorgosaurus charged.
Within three strides, he rammed his body against the bull’s shoulder, growling ferociously. His jaws opened and closed, desperate to land any bite he could. Then, he was knocked aside by the Pachyrhinosaurus’ head. Now with some separation between the two roaring dinosaurs, the Pachyrhinosaurus charged, only to be met another body-check to the same place. This time, the Gorgosaurus started pushing the great herbivore up, hoping that his prey’s centre of mass would shift too far upward so he could flip him over.
Unfortunately, the battle was taking place in the pond’s shallow water, which became a mud wallow now. The tyrannosaur’s skinny toes couldn’t maintain a stable foot hold, and he slipped, falling in the murky water.
In an instant, he was on his feet, but not quick enough. The pachyrhinosaur had somehow turned his body around so quickly that he charged head-long into the tyrannosaur’s side, flipping him up into the air. The Gorgosaurus rolled over onto the shore, wincing in pain from the blunt impact. Fear had started to set in, but it was instantaneously replaced by hunger and rage.
Again, the Gorgosaurus got on his feet quickly, just in time to jump backwards from another frontal assault from the Pachyrhinosaurus. A brief lull in the fight set in, just long enough to let the cunning side of the Gorgosaurus initiate a new plan.
In order to draw the Pachyrhinosaurus away from the water and onto more solid ground, the Gorgosaurus started a series of mock charges, distracting his target with his strong jaws. The pachyrhinosaur kept putting up a defensive wall by moving farther forward, swinging his large head up and forward to keep his pursuer at bay.
Slowly but surely, the Pachyrhinosaurus was lured far enough away from the water that he couldn’t risk slipping, despite being close enough to be hit again by the ceratopsian’s large nose boss.
Once more, the Gorgosaurus lunged forward, but this time, he meant to land a solid blow. The Pachyrhinosaurus didn’t move far enough back to avoid the large teeth, and he let out a frightened grunt as sabres dug deep into his frill. The Gorgosaurus swung back and forth, hoping to knock the quadruped off his feet temporarily. This most recent attack did disorient the Pachyrhinosaurus, but it didn’t topple him over. All he did was lower his round body closer to the ground. This prevented the momentum of the attack from exposing the lower belly, but it did leave the vulnerable neck open.
Instinctively, the tyrannosaur’s jaws clamped down on his victim’s neck, causing the pachyrhinosaur’s legs to crumple beneath the body masses of both dinosaurs. The taste of blood made him see red, but somehow, the Gorgosaurus’ head was pushed aside again by the Pachyrhinosaurus’ skull, temporarily saving the herbivore from further harm.
But the pause was only brief, as the Gorgosaurus leapt forward and crunched down on the pachyrhinosaur’s boss, twisting his skull to the side. He tried to bite the neck again, but the Pachyrhinosaurus raised his head, draping the hungry tyrannosaur’s front half over his snout and frill. This caused the Pachyrhinosaurus to fall to the ground again, as the Gorgosaurus' small arms clawed at the eyes of his food in a frenzy.
Quickly the Gorgosaurus seized the opportunity. He shifted his body over, and after jamming his foot down between the Pachyrhinosaurus’ eyes, he bit his neck again. The Pachyrhinosaurus bellowed in pain, scared for his life. The Gorgosaurus clamped his jaws down tighter and tighter, rupturing more blood vessels. He was in a frenzy now, using his powerful neck to anchor his head as he shook his prey.
But as he tried to regain his footing from shaking the poor animal, the Gorgosaurus failed to notice he ventured too close to a mud patch, and he slipped slightly. This brief distraction loosened his grip, and the Pachyrhinosaurus bucked wildly. The Gorgosaurus was forced to let go, and try again. But within that instant, the Pachyrhinosaurus backed up and charged, now putting the Gorgosaurus on the defensive.
Underneath the force of the angry bull, the Gorgosaurus was pushed into the hot ground, with some of his ribs breaking under the pressure of the furious bull. The Pachyrhinosaurus backed off again for another head-butt, enabling his hungry adversary to get back up. But the carnivore was hit again, and again. After desperately trying to bite the Pachyrhinosaurus’ front leg out of instinct, the Gorgosaurus then realized that his face was in the way of the next swing. He reared up, but not fast enough. Fortunately, the blow didn’t fully hit his jaw, but it did clip him, sending stinging pain through his mandible. He backed off, trying to put some space between him and the pachyrhinosaur. His hunt was failing, and he wasn’t sure how long he could keep this up.
By now, the heat had started to affect both animals. In this brief pause from battle, predator and prey eyed each other warily. Both were breathing heavily, and the Gorgosaurus started to feel light-headed, due to the high temperatures and sudden adrenaline spike of the hunt. He shook his head, trying to rid this feeling of disorientation. He had to win; he had to survive.
“Push through this! Reject the fear! Kill or be killed!”
As the Pachyrhinosaurus bellowed a defiant warning, the Gorgosaurus leaped forward. He started this new attack just like the last one, by biting down on the nose boss. But this time, he didn’t just feel hard tissue; he tasted blood. He closed his mouth tighter, relishing the intoxicating fluid. His eyes rolled back into his head with the surprising pleasure. But again, his distraction enabled the Pachyrhinosaurus to push him off.
In what seemed like a long time, the Gorgosaurus caught site of where his teeth made their mark. The dark, thick blood seeped from wounds in front of the pachyrhinosaur’s eyes and on to the ground. Now, his prey looked like he had scars running along the sides of his face.
Now the blood lust took over. Any dizziness that remained vanished. There was only the hunt, the blood, the kill.
Screaming forward, the gorgosaur collided with the pachyrhinosaur, shoulder to shoulder. The Gorgosaurus’ renewed vigour scared his quarry, putting him back on the defensive, his head butts lacking the malicious intent to destroy.
Despite getting hit in the ribs again, the Gorgosaurus kept up his vicious assault to bring down his adversary. No matter how far he was pushed back, he kept coming. Bellowing like a predator deranged, he lunged his head forward, aiming to land any blow he could. No hit from the Pachyrhinosaurus would deter him from winning the day.
Now with enough space between the two, the Pachyrhinosaurus ran forward, head down, ready to land a harsher blow. But the Gorgosaurus, having been forced perpendicular to the Pacyrhinosaurus, saw a golden opportunity. He raced away from the incoming onslaught, around the charging dinosaur, and grabbed his hind leg.
The Pachyrhinosaurus threw his head back in surprise, wincing in pain. The Gorgosaurus couldn’t get a good grip, but his teeth left deep wounds. The pachyrhinosaur’s tendons in his knee were almost completely ruptured, leaving him unbalanced.
The momentum of the charge meant the Pachyrhinosaurus couldn’t turn around as quickly as he could have, which enabled the Gorgosaurus to dart for a completely exposed neck and back. But he came in too hard and fast. Before he knew it, he had climbed onto the Pachyrhinosaur’s back, almost cowboy-style, neck in mouth.
The Pachyrhinosaurus was so surprised, the sudden flood of adrenaline in his body completely numbed his damaged limb. He sped forward as fast as he could, dragging the draped tyrannosaur on his back. But the three-ton mass wouldn’t let him go very far, causing him to collapse on his wounded side.
The Gorgosaurus leapt off to avoid getting crushed, landing in the shallow water of the oasis’ shore. Before the Pachyrhinosaurus could try to get up, he turned around, and saw red. Like a missile, he threw himself at the exposed throat. His jaws closed down hard, and the wounded animal squealed in horror. Despite getting kicked in the face by his prey’s death throes, the Gorgosaurus remained undeterred. The thick blood filled his mouth, and the sickening-sweet smell of the life force blinded him in ecstasy as he thrashed his neck in every direction.
He wasn’t sure how long it took to return from that pleasurable dimension, but when he did, his prey was dead. Both dinosaurs lay in a pool of blood, and it turned the oasis’ water from a muddy brown to a dark red. It was finally over. This fight to survive was complete.
Soon though, the feeling of elation left the victor. The Gorgosaurus’ breathing became heavily laboured, and his vision had started to blur again. His head was spinning, and he began to see double. The heat was becoming unbearable, and he felt severely dehydrated.
As his body came down from the high of the adrenaline-fueled hunt, his mind came back down as well. His elation wasted into guilt. The world lost a part of itself, and he had a hand in it. His will to survive was of the utmost importance to him, but he felt terrible for completing his companion’s circle of life so shortly and violently after meeting him. There was a peace between them, and by extension between their respective species, but he ruined it.
Movement caught the Gorgosaurus’ eye. It looked like it was coming from the body of his victim, but he was too fatigued to react. He didn’t know if he was hallucinating or not, but the Pachyrhinosaurus lifted his head to lock eyes with him. He didn’t look upset, or sad. More like...he was content to accept his fate.
“It’s alright, friend. It’s over now,” whispered a voice. Then, ever so slowly, the Pachyrhinosaurus vanished.
That put the exhausted Gorgosaurus somewhat at ease. His hunt wasn’t in vain. His oasis companion really did understand the circumstances of their fight.
Or he had simply imagined the whole thing.
In order to quench his thirst, the Gorgosaurus stuck his tongue out to lick the blood away before it dried. It felt good to taste something wet on his tongue. Then, he slowly nibbled the tender flesh on his prey’s neck, careful not to indulge. He felt nauseous, and didn’t want to vomit and lose more fluid.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” he thought when reflecting on what transpired this day. “And we truly can bear witness to extraordinary events in these desperate times…”
*stands and takes a bow, to the roaring crowd's chants of "ALPHA, ALPHA, ALPHA, ALPHA!!!"*
Glad you enjoyed my entry @The Vengeful Spooder Rex!
ALPHADINO65 - This was an exceptionally neat and engaging piece! I very much enjoyed the internal monologue the Gorgosaurus experienced while undertaking his actions within the bounds of the story. There was a sense of understanding and resignation to the brutal nature of his life. Fantastic work! :)
Something Real - Thank you for your praise! I am very happy you enjoyed it, even though I had a gut feeling you would :)
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