The Exhibit, a short story about animatronic dinosaurs and mortality

The state fair always had some of the best attractions, new rides at the causeway, a different type of fried something dipped into something else, and exhibits of art and science from across the state. This year the fair managed to score one of the countries most popular touring attractions, WALK WITH THE DINOSAURS.

In a giant pop up tent, outside of the building with the prize farm animals, a series of animatronic dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures stood on display for people to see. The dinosaurs stood on mounds of astroturf next to plastic ferns, and all of them doing something to make it clear to the visitors and gawkers that they were indeed a dinosaur. The Brontosaurus would dip their heads to “take a bite” of the astro turf grass, pulling their heads back up to chew it and look out over the crowds. There were two and they would take turns doing this, so that when one dipped its head to “eat” the grass the other’s head would rise up and look out over the visitors. Then they’d switch, then they switch back and etc.

In a corner there were two walls of bushes opposite each other. Every few seconds a few of the raptor robots would burst out from both sides of the bushes and run to the other while shrieking. It was back and forth and a screech, their legs pumping and their heads bobbing “Just like in Jurassic World!” as the exhibit visitors and children would exclaim at least 200 times a day. In another side was a Stegosaurus. Big, fun to look at, but not very impressive to most of the onlookers. All it did was look up, turn it’s head to you, blink, turn its head back, then bend down to eat some of the astroturf. It would then look up again do the same thing.

In the middle of the exhibit was the main attraction, the one that everyone always comes to see when there is a dinosaur exhibit, the most popular dinosaur for any seven year old, the Tyrannosaurus Rex. It stood at a height where its head could almost scrape the top of the tent. Its jaws would move slowly because of all the wiring and gears that weighed it down. “The real T-rex’s bite would actually come down with a much faster weight…” said the Dad’s who wanted to pretend they were smart to show off in front of their families.

The state fair always happened in the middle of summer, so the managers of the exhibit always had to keep things in the tent cool enough for the robots to function. The state fair prepped and planned for all likely weather contingency, even a light rain since the tent was practically leak proof. No one could have expected such a big storm in the middle of summer.

The clouds could be seen developing in the sky from miles away but there speed was something to be marveled. It was not long before the dark grayness hungover the city, a freak storm that came from practically nowhere. It took just a few hours for these drifting thunder clouds to build and consume the sky, swallowing the tri-county area into a bubble of wind and rain. The harsh 50 mph winds stung first, dragging the thunderheads in across the sky from what felt like all directions. The rain started immediately after the clouds settled over head with the wind still gusting and cutting through anyone or anything unlucky enough to be outside that day, such as the workers at the state fair. They did everything in their power to disconnect the rides from the electric generators, and to keep everything in the fairgrounds buttoned down to the ground. The Dinosaur exhibit was the first thing to be shut down, but they didn’t do anything about the lightning. Soon after the gusts and the downpour came rumbles of thunder, and then the lightning, then more thunder. Bursts from the sky hit some of the rides like the giant swing ride which got zapped and fried immediately since it stood so tall It was practically a giant lightning rod, as were the support poles that propped up the Dinosaur tent.

With another crack of thunder came yet another bolt from the clouds, this time hitting the tent dead center which crawled down and into exhibit like a web of an electric wave. It branched out to each pillar and the current flowed through the tent, working its way into each piece of the exhibits wires and gears.

Each Dinobot shook with a jolt when the pulse came through. In a flash the current was gone while the rain and thunder still crashed outside. No electricity was flowing to the tent anymore, but each dinosaur began to blink and twitch, they were moving with no electricity flowing to them.

The Brontosaurus gave out it’s deep groan of a call as it began to slowly march from its place. The T Rex roared as it’s stomped off of it’s platform. The raptors burst forth and spread out through the tent, pouncing on any piece of their new bounty of prey. Everyone began moving about the tent amongst the astroturf grass and ferns, everyone except the stegosaurus. The Stegosaurus just stood there, looking at everyone move, wondering.

“Where am I?” Thought the Stegosaurus, until an even more important question arose, “What am I?” The Stegosaurus was scared, up until now he had no memory, no thoughts. The only thing the stegosaurus could remember was standing in this exact spot, eating the grass in front of it. “How long have I been here? Is this where I was born? What is going on?” The Stegosaurus looked around to see the T-rex stomping around and roaring, to see the raptors jumping around and biting the hides of the herbivores and knocking them over to feast. They tore at the insides of the creatures, which of course were just wires and gears, but the Stegosaurus was convinced they were the innards of his fellow dinosaurs.

The Stegosaurus looked at the Brontosaurus as they stomped around and bayed, still taking turns to bend down and sample the grass. Since the Stegosaurus could remember doing nothing else it thought, “Oh, this must be something I’m supposed to do.” And it chomped down again on the grass in front of it, but it wondered why the grass had no flavor or taste.

“Is this actually grass?” Wondered the Stegosaurus. It tried to swallow the mouthful of grass but it was stuck in its mouth, it wouldn’t go down, it wouldn’t go anywhere, and all the Stegosaurus could think is “What is happening?”

The Stegosaurus had no memories but eating the grass in this one spot, and for some reason it could not even do that. It looked around at the chaos caused by the raptors and the T Rex and it wondered why it had been trapped in this one spot and for how long. The Stegosaurus was also confused because it wondered what this white thing hanging over all of them was. It looked from side to side and to see what it was and it could tell that it had walled all of them into this place together. The Stegosaurus knew there was something outside, beyond these walls, and it wanted to see.

It began to step off its patch of platform, and slowly started to make it’s way to the wall, only to suddenly fall forward and to the side, in agony. It had never known pain before, it had never known any sensation, now the Stegosaurus was debilitated. It turned into a heap on the ground and could not budge because of a sharp pain in its side underbelly. When it crashed to the ground it looked where the pain came from and it could see that one of the raptors had made its way over to them and taken a bite out of its side. The Stegosaurus saw its own wires and gears popping up from the plaster skin, thinking it had brutally been mutilated. The Stegosaurus could feel its energy being drained, leaving it, it’s eyes began to close and it’s whole body began to shut down, as it did it wondered, “What was the point of it all?”

Published by James J Jackson

I'm a poet from California.

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