May 22, 2012

The paleontologist who leapt through time

Dr. Cortés received a package from an anonymous sender. He opened it and found a time machine. He knew it was a time machine because it was written on the futuristic looking box that contained it; time machine, it read in capitals with big black glossy letters. Dr. Cortés was so incredibly excited, he had been a paleontologist for almost two decades and since he was a boy he dream with seeing dinosaurs alive. The time machine was a very simple machine indeed, it was a tablet the size of half an A4 sheet of paper, made of a transparent clear blue material, lighter than glass but heavier than plastic, a touch screen. The time machine activated with his touch. Stylish and shiny white letters appeared in the screen, input travel date, and below there was a numerical keyboard, there were also two buttons, one read to the past and the other to the future. Dr. Cortés did not give it too much thought and rapidly typed 67000000, he counted the ceros just to be sure, and pressed to the past, just two million years before the asteroid strike that marked the end of the Cretaceous. It all happened in an instant. First it came the panic, a panic like he had never known. Then, the sudden realization that he was on the seventh floor of a building in Bogotá, then it came the realization that Bogotá was 2600 meter above the sea level and that during the Cretaceous Colombia was still underneath the ocean. The universe around was a perfect blue, a darker one down below and a clearer one above, there was not a single cloud in the sky. This is it, he thought feeling the vertigo as he fell, this is how I die. Then he noticed the time machine was nowhere to be seen, probably he dropped it in the very first moment of panic. The sea got closer and closer, the waters were calm, gentle waves left a trail of white foam. A good day to die. He breathed deeply, closed his eyes, and dived into the water, feet first, like a bullet through polystyrene. He reopened his eyes despite sting and irritation, and forced himself to keep them that way. The playful reflections of the sun in the surface told him where was the way up. Then he saw a shadow in the distance, large, very very large, it looked like the silhouette of a crocodile, only thirty times bigger and fins instead of limbs. Mosasaur, he thought, this is not my lucky day. He tried to scream flailing arm and legs in desperation but salty water rushed into his lungs as if he just inhaled fire. It was darkness next, a row of three sharp teeth pierced through flesh and bone, taking Dr. Cortés' life in an instant, mercilessly. Only a purple cloud of blood and a foot with its shoe still laced tightly were left.


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