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Authors: Victor Methos

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The Extinct

BOOK: The Extinct
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THE EXTINCT

a novel

Victor Methos

 

Copyright 2011 Victor Methos

 

 

Kindle Edition

 

 

License Statement

 

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. Please note that this is a work of fiction. Any similarity to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

As flies to wanton boys are we to the Gods;

they kill us for their sport

 

 

-William Shakespeare

 

 

 

 

The sun shines on the wicked also

 

-Seneca

 

 

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

As soon as the rain had stopped and the sun began to shine they knew they were being watched.

The group of megatherium sat in the shade of trees near what would one day become the La Brea Tar Pits. Weighing more than five tons and larger than an Indian elephant, megatherium giant sloths were one of the largest animals that ever lived. They had been feeding all morning on rotting fruit and leaves, glancing behind them at the tall grass. Armed with eighteen inch claws, they were ready to fight at the first sign of an attack; though there were few predators courageous enough to attempt an assault.

Tucked low in the grass, feline eyes waited patiently for the sloths’ apprehensiveness to ease. Smilodon, a fearsome solitary carnivore, licked its foot-long canines. Commonly known as the saber-toothed tiger, smilodon weighed as much as a small car and had the ferocity of a wolverine.

Saliva slopped from the saber-tooth’s mouth, its muscles ready to pounce at the first sign of sickness or old age among the megatherium. One lay down on its side, dozing off in the hot sun.

With a thunderous roar the cat ripped through the grass, its fourteen hundred pounds accelerating to a speed of thirty miles an hour.

The megatherium froze; this was one of the only predators they refused to fight. They turned and attempted to flee, all except one.

The lone megatherium awoke to the warning calls of the others. It saw the predator closing in, canines spread apart for a kill bite to the throat or midsection. Unable to get away quickly enough, the megatherium stood upright on its hind legs, revealing its full eighteen feet of girth.

Adrenaline coursed through smilodon; megatherium’s size and massive claws didn’t intimidate him.

The megatherium backed against a tree, urinating on itself out of fear, and waited.

But smilodon was not the only predator that had been hunting them this morning. Bellowing laughter came from the grass. Hyaenodon Gigas, the largest and most vicious mammalian predator the earth has ever seen, sprinted toward its prey. Snout to tail it was the size of a semi truck, with jaws that ate every part of a meal, including teeth and bones. With its acute senses it smelled the urine of the terrified megatherium and the saliva of the smilodon as it raced in for a kill shot.

The megatherium groaned in fear and anguish as the clan of hyaenodon darted for it, only their backs visible in the tall grass. Suddenly, the clan changed course.

The saber-tooth was focused on its prey as it leapt into the air, mouth wide, and his claws dug into the sloth’s hide. The sloth writhed in pain and slammed into the ground, the claws on its forelegs useless against the fangs that dug into its neck.

And then, as quickly as the attack had occurred, it stopped. The megatherium was released. It stood and dashed for the safety of its numbers.

Smilodon rose from the ground, its head spinning. It had tasted blood and expected to see the corpse of its prey lying before it. Instead, it saw blood gushing from a deep wound on its hind leg.

Then it saw the movement. Tightening circles; four massive bodies blocking every direction from escape. The smilodon growled and roared, feeling the tug of fear in its belly for the first time in its adult life.

There was the familiar call that sounded like maniacal laughter and panting as the hyaenodon positioned themselves.

One sprinted from behind and bit into smilodon’s hindquarters, causing the cat to turn and swipe with its giant paw. As it turned back, a large mass raced for him, the assailant’s mouth widening as it aimed for the face, clamping down and snapping one of the cat’s gigantic canines in half. Smilodon was lifted into the air by its head and smashed back into the earth; its skull crushed as another beast tore into its belly, biting through organ and muscle and bone.

There were no other predators to challenge hyaenodon for its kill except for other clans. An apex, adaptable predator, hyaenodon survived cataclysm after cataclysm for millions of years by cunning and ferocity. Hyaenodon lived on nearly every continent and ate everything that could provide nutrition. Believed to be extinct, hyaenodon would survive, in some of the most remote regions on earth . . .

 

 

 

CHAPTER

1

 

Dr. Namdi Said sat in the Ministry of Medical Services swatting flies with a plastic swatter. At this time of year Hyderabad was hot and muggy, the air a thick wall of heat making any type of physical exertion laborious.

Namdi sat with his feet up on the desk. The office he’d been given was small and dirty but there was a window facing out to the busy street. There were no stop signs or traffic signals on this block and every few hours the metallic crash of a car accident could be heard.

“Dr. Said,” Phillip Reynolds said as he walked in and sat down across from him. He pushed his glasses up onto his forehead and rubbed the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. “Sorry I’m late. I’m new here. Still haven’t figured my way around. I thought Andhra Pradesh was mostly a more civilized part of India but it’s as wild as anything else I suppose.”

“What can I do for you, Mr. Reynolds?”
He pulled out a package of cigarettes and lit one. “Do you mind?”
“Yes, actually.”

“Oh,” he said as he took a large drag and then put the cigarette out on his shoe, stuffing the butt back into the pack. “I’m here about an American citizen that went missing couple months back; Davis Larson. His wife’s been bugging me damn near every day.”

“If you’re missing a person you should be talking to the police. There are gangs in the city that kidnap tourists for ransom and—”

“No, it’s not a gang,” he said, twirling the cigarette package in his hand.
“How do you know?”
“They weren’t in the city; they were out in the plains near the Eastern Ghats. I think you should talk to her.”
“Mr. Phillips, I’m a doctor for—”
“I know, not your specialty. But I was told you have another specialty in animal attacks.”
Namdi stared at him. “Who told you that?”
“Not important.”
“It’s a hobby; I have no official position or even training, other than treating victims of attacks.”

“Understood. But I promised this lady I’d have her talk with an expert and you’re the nearest thing to an expert I could find that speaks English. Myself, and the U.S. State Department, would consider it a personal favor if you could talk to her. Don’t have to do anything, just hear her out.”

He slammed his swatter down on the table, smashing a large fly and causing Reynolds to jump. Namdi smiled at his reaction and said, “Very well, I’ll speak with her.”

 

 

CHAPTER

2

 

 

Looking down from 45,000 feet over New Hampshire reminded Eric Holden of a jigsaw puzzle. Green and yellow squares with small blips for the buildings and homes. At nineteen he’d already completed more than twenty jumps, all with his father James who stood in front of him now, letting him peek over his shoulder at the ground below.

“This is the highest we’ve ever jumped, Pops,” Eric yelled over the noise of engines and wind.
“With the wing-suits we should have four minutes of freefall. You ready?”
“Yeah.”

James nodded and pulled down his goggles. Eric playfully gave him a push out before James had a chance to jump. He watched his father flip backward and then even out into the traditional spread pose, his wing-suit catching the air and making him appear like some mutant bird slowly drifting down to earth.

Eric gave the pilot a nod and then vaulted from the plane.

The air was icy and stung the unprotected skin on his cheeks like needles. He spread his arms and thighs, allowing the fabric of the wing-suit to stretch and double his drag. He could see Strawberry River from here, winding through lush hillsides like a coiled snake. He remembered a fight that’d broken out on the riverbank between him and someone that claimed to be the boyfriend of the woman he’d taken camping with him. It only lasted three punches; the guy landed one squarely on Eric’s neck and Eric bashed two hooks into his jaw, knocking him unconscious. Then he helped him into a tent and waited until he came to. The guy didn’t remember what had happened and Eric didn’t have the heart to tell him. Instead, he said that he’d passed out, probably from the heat and dehydration. He bought it, or at least pretended he did.

15,000 feet. Eric decides to free-fly. He points his head downward turning his body vertical, tightens his wing-suit, and shoots toward his father. Adrenaline courses through him, his face turning white and the blood rushing to his organs and away from his extremities. The wind is screaming in his ears and crawls its way down his neck, freezing his chest and making him shiver. He races past his father who doesn’t notice him. Upon passing, Eric grabs the ripcord and pulls his father’s chute.

The parachute expands, causing a surprised James Holden to curse and instinctively reach for the cord to his emergency chute. Eric gives him a thumbs-up from below as his father slows and begins a gentle descent.

The landing is on soft grass and Eric unbuckles from the chute and waits for his father to descend; lying down on the grass with his hands behind his head. James lands fifteen feet away and unbuckles, a grin across his face as he shakes his head.

“That’s dangerous.”

“You did it first, old man. My first jump. Scared the shit outta me.”

Some aides began gathering up the chutes and James collapsed next to Eric. The sun warmed their faces and a light breeze was blowing cotton strands through the air.

“You still dating that porn star?” James said.
“She’s not a porn star, Dad. Jesus. She was in a swimsuit ad.”
James chuckled. “What was her name?”
“Wendy.”
“How’s old Wendy?”
“Good. You with anyone?”

“Nah, here and there. Nothing serious. I wanted to ask you something though; I’m going to India for a few weeks. Want to come with?”

“When?”
“A week from today. Hunting elephant.”
Eric laughed. “What the hell do you know about hunting elephants?”
“Nothing. That’s why I’ve hired a guide. It’s not exactly legal over there. You in?”
“Can’t. I’ve got finals coming up.”
“Well, next time then.”

 

 

CHAPTER

3

 

Though Andhra Pradesh is India’s fifth largest state by population, it has the longest coastline along the Bay of Bengal and dense jungles filled with insect species and plant life that has yet to be catalogued. Farther from the coast, the jungle recedes into the vast open plains of the Deccan Plateau that stretch for hundreds of miles. Rolling green hills and jagged mountains are split open from powerful rivers and the climate, though, bearable, makes many middle class and wealthier Indians likely to find their homes in the densely populated cities rather than the smaller, agrarian villages dotting the countryside.

The café in downtown Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh’s capital city, was crowded with tourists. Many were from Europe and even more from the Middle East who found the proximity and low cost of a trip to Andhra Pradesh appealing.

Dr. Said sat at a table in the corner, sipping Turkish coffee. Some Australian businessmen were sitting at the booth next to him. They were telling jokes about women. Namdi would bet they were cowards at home, bending to the will of wives they despised.

A tall blond walked in to the café and asked a waiter something. The waiter pointed to Namdi and the woman came over. Her eyes were rimmed red, from allergies or recent crying, and she wore no make-up, her hair pulled back and held in place with a rubberband.

BOOK: The Extinct
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