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Parks and Rec/Jurassic World fusion: Parks and Rex (2/3)

December 9th, 2015 (12:46 pm)
quixotic

feeling: quixotic

PART ONE
PART TWO
PART THREE



-o-

Many people might expect an evacuation of a popular tourist destination that just happened to be located on an island would be chaotic and difficult.

As far as Ann was concerned, however, those people had never met Leslie Knope.

With the meticulous protocols and backup processes laid out in excruciating detail, there was simply no way for it not to go smoothly. Guests were moved to secure buildings and then ushered out under security supervision in an orderly fashion to the docks. During this process, HR representatives were onsite to offer return vouches and to make sure that every tracker was checked and doublechecked. Then, as every guest boarded their boat, they were informed of when and where they could pick up any belongings that had been left in their hotel rooms or other storage facilities on the island.


People weren’t happy, of course, but as an added touch, everyone was treated with free beverages and whatever food could not be stored safely during a park closure. For the kids, Leslie even had a supply of discounted Jurassic World toys just because she was Leslie Knope. Ann was actually a little surprised that every guest didn’t receive a personalized note of apology or a come again soon mini-quilt.

Even Leslie had her limitations.

(Not that she hadn’t tried. One night, Ann had been talked into sitting down to cut quilt squares for just that purpose. She wasn’t sure what happened to their progress, but she suspected the quilts were actually assembled and saved for very special occasions.)

“Awesome, people!” Chris said, clapping his hands in approved. “This is, by and far, the best group of people I have ever worked with.

“We’re down to the last ten groups of guests,” Ann announced. “We’ve already started to get non essential personnel ready for departure.”

“And the Indominus?” Chris asked.

“ACU found the tracker in the woods -- which means we’re working kind of blind,” Ben said. “Except for the fact that it’s a giant dinosaur and we have aerial support monitoring its progress as best we can.”

Ann watched as another group of boats left, checking the monitors to see the next set fall in line.

“So we know where it is?” Chris asked.

“Not precisely or anything, but it’s still several miles out from the park,” Ben said.

“No additional casualties?” Chris pressed.

Ann brought up the ACU personnel profiles. “We lost several from the initial confrontation, but as per Leslie’s security protocol, their approach has been less aggressive and backed up with lethal measures,” she explained. “Except this one. We have one ACU tracker that doesn’t seem to be functional, but I can’t tell why.”

“Who is it?” Chris asked.

“April Ludgate,” Ann said. “But to be fair, she takes pleasure in disabling her tracker most of the time. Because she accuses me of simply wanting to spy on her in her sleep.”

Chris made a face. “That’s not how those work.”

“As I have explained to her, countless times,” Ann said. “But either way, it looks like the main part of the island will be cleared in case the Indominus should breech our exterior.”

“Which is still impossible, by the way,” Ben said. “Unless someone literally opened the door for this creature, I don’t see how it could get into the main part of the park.”

“Well maybe it’s a very polite dinosaur,” Chris said. “If it knocked nicely and used good manners.”

Ann made a face. “I’m not sure big claws and gigantic teeth can be interpreted as a dinosaur’s please.”

“That’s probably true,” Chris said. “But to be fair, we have to account for every possibility. That is our responsibility as the stewards of this spectacular, profitable and dangerous island.”

Ann raised her eyebrows. Chris was passionate, no doubt about it. That was why she’d agreed to go out with him several years ago. But passion could also be a polite way of saying insane, and Ann had to wonder if his positivity was actually sustainable.

Though, over the course of this crisis, he’d handled it remarkably well.

“And accounting for overly polite dinosaurs?” Ann pressed.

“The odds are infinitesimal,” he said. “But it’s also somewhat less important at this point, because we have minimized the absolute threat substantially by getting visitors and non-essential staff relocated. Which means, we can enact the next phase of the evacuation!”

He made it sound like it was actually fun. And, you know, not an evacuation of extreme proportions that could financially cripple and publically humiliate the park.

Still, he really did make it sound appealing. Plus, Ann already knew the next phase. And she liked the next phase because it involved not staying on an island with a dangerous predator on the loose. “Next phase is essential personnel.”

“Exactly,” Chris said, grinning at her. “Ann Perkins, your quick thinking in times of crisis is an absolute joy.”

“Uh, yeah,” Ann said, reaching for her purse. “You know I’m included in this next round, right?”

“Oh,” Chris said in a voice that clearly indicated that he had overlooked that fact. “Of course.”

Ann was on her feet, shifting awkwardly while other members of the tech team started to file out. No matter how much he clearly wished she would stay, Ann wasn’t insane. Or suicidal. She was only sort of okay working around deadly animals when they were in cages. When they weren’t, all bets were off. “I’m sure Leslie will get it under control,” she said. “She’s Leslie.”

“She is very good at what she does,” Chris said earnestly. “As are you. And everyone. But especially you.”

Ann didn’t know how to respond to that. How could someone who was so accommodating make things so hard? “Yeah,” she said, swallowing hard. “So…”

“So,” Chris said. He reached out, clapping his hands on both of her shoulders. “Ann Perkins.”

She forced a smile back, because this was awkward under the best of circumstances. When there was a dinosaur on the loose trying to eat people, it was noticeably more strange. “Chris Traeger.”

“Ann Perkins,” he said again.

Strange, yes.

But there was something else.

There was always something else, wasn’t there?

The way he looked at her.

The way she looked at him.

It wasn’t like she still had feelings for him, but Ann didn’t get out much. The dating pool on the island left something to be desired, and though she was a hot commodity on that market, she didn’t want to buy what everyone else was selling. There had been the petting zoo handler, who’d taught her how to feed the baby animals, and there had been the chef at the main grill who had taught her how to saute, but those weren’t people she actually wanted to be with.

She wanted someone kind and successful and compassionate. She wanted someone who was focused and driven and capable.

Damn it, she wanted someone like Chris Traeger.

She’d gotten over every other boyfriend, but she never quite got over him.

“You know,” Chris said, because of course he was thinking the exact same thing. “Maybe when this is over--”

“Yeah,” Ann said, way too quickly. Her cheeks started to turn red. “Maybe.”

“I’ll call you?” Chris asked.

“When there’s not a rampaging dinosaur loose on the island,” Ann agreed.

“Right,” Chris said with a hearty laugh. “Right.”

Ann nodded, chewing her lip for a moment. “Right.”

With that, he dropped his hands, and she turned to leave. At the elevator, she turned back with another glance. He smiled at her, and she smiled back, and they were still looking at each other when the doors closed.

Ann had every intention of leaving, but that didn’t mean she was walking away completely. She didn’t need to be sitting at a computer screen to do something that mattered.

And the island mattered. Not because Ann cared about Jurassic World, but because she cared about Leslie. She cared about Chris.

She even cared about Ben, who sat next to her and annoyed her. She cared about Tom, who did ridiculous things in the lab. She cared about Ron, and the gruff nature that hid the softer side he adamantly denied. She even cared about Andy and his psycho new girlfriend April.

She never intended to work here, much less for years. But this place was a part of her now, and these people -- well, they were family.

Dysfunctional, crazy and strange. Which was pretty much the best definition of family ever.

Ann could get on a boat away from the island to safety, but walking away would never be that easy.

She made that a promise to herself.

-o-

When the elevator closed with the last group of central command employees, Ben glanced back to his boss. Chris Traeger was a powerful and influential man; he was also a complete goofball sometimes. Over the years, Ben had been hand picked for several high level technology projects with Chris, who seemed to like the way Ben worked.

Really, he liked the way Ben could cut to the bottom line. Whereas Chris didn’t know how to be negative, Ben found it easy to tell low level programmers and unrealistic PR workers that their plans were terrible, impractical and destined to fail.

That was what made them a good team, according to Chris.

And Ben couldn’t lie.

It was pretty fun.

So when Chris looked at him again, Ben wasn’t surprised to see a fondness there. “Well,” Chris said with a sigh. “It looks like it’s time to shut down and accept total failure for once.”

“Total failure would have been if it ate someone,” Ben pointed out. “We can recover from this.”

Chris smiled. “That is wonderful optimism,” he said. “Highly unlikely, but wonderful optimism.”

“Well, I did learn from the best,” Ben said with a smile.

Chris positively beamed. “At least I know I can count on you to be by my side after this issue is resolved,” he said. “Speaking of which, looks like you’re the last to leave.”

Ben raised his eyebrows. “What about you?”

“I believe Leslie wanted me to evacuate with the first wave of people, which is smart advice,” he said. “It’s also advice I’m ignoring. This is my park; this is my responsibility.”

This didn’t surprise him. While it made sense to keep the owner of the operation safe and out of danger, that wasn’t like Chris Traeger. Chris Traeger didn’t just own a park -- he was part of the park. Drumming his fingers on the counter, Ben rocked back in his chair. “What about the equipment?”

“It can easily be powered down to minimal maintenance so all essential security systems remain operational while reducing the need for human intervention,” Chris said. “But you know that.”

“Yeah,” Ben said. “The thing is, we have a dinosaur on the loose.”

“Unfortunately, yes,” Chris agreed. “That is a bit of a thing.”

“So it seems like someone should be here to monitor it,” Ben ventured.

“Exactly why I intend on staying until this matter is fully and one hundred percent resolved,” Chris told him energetically.

“It’s not really a one-man job,” Ben said.

“You could do it,” Chris pointed out.

“Uh, yeah,” Ben said. “Because this is my job and I’m really good at it.”

“And I’ve had years to observe you,” Chris said. “I think I can figure it out.”

Ben was running out of viable reasons. He glanced at his console and his row of dinosaur toys. This was his dream job, yes. And more than that, this was a job he cared about. With people he cared about.

And dinosaurs.

He took a breath and looked at Chris again. “I’m staying,” he blurted.

Chris looked surprised.

“You’re not the only one here with a responsibility,” Ben said. “I’m part of this park, and someone with extensive technical expertise and an extreme love of dinosaurs should be here to the end.”

Chris nodded. “I have never been so moved,” he said. “Your integrity, your sacrifice -- this is literally the best moment of my personal and professional life.”

Ben grinned back.

Then checked his monitors. There was nothing there.

For good measure, he checked all the monitors. The park was vacant; all the rest of the animals were safely in their cages. Minimal ACU staff was still on hand throughout the park, and trackers for the search party and the two missing guests were still active but there was no new activity.

He ran a diagnostic.

Besides for a fencing malfunction by the gyroscopes, everything was working perfectly. He made a mild calibration, and then everything was working beyond perfectly.

Then he sat back in his chair.

And did nothing.

“I sort of thought there’d be more to do,” he admitted.

“Yeah,” Chris said. “It’s amazing how little there is to do in an abandoned theme park.”

“Huh,” Ben said. “I got to say, this makes the moment feel somewhat less heroic.”

“Very much less heroic,” Chris agreed.

Ben drummed his fingers again. “Are you hungry? My lunch is still in the freezer. I’d even share a calzone with you.”

-o-

“Like, how is this even an amusement park?” Mona Lisa Saperstein said, making a face as she stepped over a tree branch. “I am not amused, like, at all. There should be clowns or something.”

“Why would you want clowns?” Jean Ralphio Saperstein, her twin brother, replied.

“Um, because they’re funny,” Mona Lisa said. “And I kind of find face paint sexy.”

“You are weird,” Jean Ralphio said. “Because if anything, it’s the wigs, okay? I like the wigs.”

“So why aren’t there any clowns?” Mona Lisa asked, whining now.

“Well, there are dinosaurs,” Jean Ralphio pointed out.

“I don’t see any dinosaurs here,” Mona Lisa objected.

“Probably because we left the park,” Jean Ralphio said, almost sounding reasonable.

She huffed. “They left the door wide open!”


“We opened it, actually,” Jean Ralphio said.

“Because the door was right there and I was so bored!” Mona Lisa wailed. “If they didn’t want us to open it, then why did they only have five security measures that were so obvious.”

Jean Ralphio giggled. “Yeah, it only took us ten minutes of ramming the fence before you broke the security panel and opened it up,” he said. “That electric shock we got from the ramming, though--”

He shuddered.

“It was dope,” he concluded. “And so bad ass!”

“Your hair still looks crazy,” his sister returned.

“And I feel funny, too!” he enthused.

“Oh, I thought it was just me feeling hot for clowns,” Mona Lisa said. “That’s like, pain and suffering, though. We should sue.”

Jean Ralphio turned, clapping his hands. “Oh, multi million dollar settlement! Pain and suffering!”

“And false advertising,” Mona Lisa pouted. “Those stupid dinosaurs could at least wear face paint.”

“We’re going to be ri-ch,” Jean Ralphio sang. “Money, money, money.

They walked for several more paces.

“Why isn’t there even a trail to follow?” she moaned. “It’s too hot.”

“Those little rolly ball things were air conditioned,” Jean Ralphio pointed out.

“Which was fine until it stopped working,” Mona Lisa exclaimed.

“To be fair, we did ignore, like, fifty warnings to stay on course and return back to the start of the ride,” Jean Ralphio said as he swatted at a fly.

Mona Lisa snorted in absolute incredulity. “That’s ridiculous! If we’re VIPs, then the air conditioning should follow us wherever we want to go, and the trails should be built for us. Because we are--”

Jean Ralphio leaned in, and they dipped their heads together.

Special,” they sang together.

When they stumbled into a clearing, Mona Lisa grunted in displeasure. “It’s even hotter here,” she said.

“Oh, but hey!” Jean Ralphio said. “A dinosaur.”

Mona Lisa squinted as the dinosaur cleared the edge of the trees and came to full height. “That’s a stupid looking dinosaur.”

“Um,” Jean Ralphio said. “It looks like a hungry dinosaur.”

“Well, what does it think it’s going to eat?” Mona Lisa asked in accusation. “Because there isn’t a single snacks shop out here!”

The dinosaur roared.

“Us,” Jean Ralphio said, starting to run.

“Hey!” Mona Lisa shrieked, running after him. She grabbed his shirt, throwing him back a few paces so she could pass him.

“What the--” Jean Ralphio said. “Wait a second--”

He grabbed at her, and they tussled as they ran, stopping abruptly at the end of the cliff overlooking the water. The dinosaur -- white and hideous as it was -- started to charge after them.

“Look,” Mona Lisa said. “If you stay here and distract it, I’ll, like, do your chores for a month.”

“I’ll be dead!” Jean Ralphio insisted.

“But you’ll totally be dad’s favorite!”

“But you’ll get all his money!”

“Because you’d be stupid and dead!”

“Maybe you should be dead!”

“Oh, that’s nice!”

“You started it!”

Their verbal repartee turned to yelling, which turned to pushing.

Then, Mona Lisa pushed Jean Ralphio too hard and he stumbled at the edge, starting to fall.

As he fell, however, he reached out and grabbed his sister’s arm.

She screeched; he screamed.

The dinosaur roared, teeth cutting through the air where the Saperstein twins had just disappeared, crashing safely over the edge of the cliff into the crystal water below.

-o-

Tracking their wayward VIP guests was easy in the sense that they had trackers, and all they had to do was follow a blip on a screen and voila.

It was no easy in the sense that there were four of them in the Jeep, arguing to varying degrees of rationality what they should do when they found said wayward VIP guests.

Andy, for no apparent reason, wanted to inject them with tranquilizers and put them on the roof. Donna, being somewhat more practical, still questioned the need to go after them at all. Ron thought the entire conversation was pointless, and he had quite literally told Chris and every person in management position that this situation would happen and if they had just listened to him, none of them would be here right now.

Needless to say, Leslie was quite relieved when they closed in on the blip.

“Okay,” she said, putting the car in park. “We’re here. Tracking beacon is about....fifty yards in that direction.”

The group slowly got out of the car.

“Dude,” Andy said. “Where is here?”

Donna started forward. “Is this what I think it is?”

Leslie stepped ahead with a nod. “Yes,” she said, taking it in herself. She’d been here, of course, but it never failed to give her chills. “The original Jurassic Park.”

Andy’s eyes went wide. “You mean there’s another park?” he said. “No wonder you guys are so worried about the competition. This one’s even got a cool, rustic vibe.”

Rustic was one way of putting it.

Overgrown and reclaimed by the jungle was a bit more accurate.

When Leslie had first taken the job, she’d made it a point to learn every inch of the island. Upon her inspection of the original site, she’d wanted to make it a museum or at least erect some kind of monument, both to the lives lost and to the inherent goals that had started everything. John Hammond had made many mistakes, and Leslie had made a point to learn from each and every single one of them. It would be easy to make him the villain of the story, but Leslie knew that was too limited.

After all, Leslie knew how hard it was to operate this kind of park. Averting disaster was a matter of the right protocols, the right failsafes and the right people.

“No, this one is closed down, Andy,” Leslie said as patiently as she could, using the hand monitor to continue tracking the signal.

“Oh, so that’s good news for us!” he said, far too enthusiastically.

“You really didn’t know there was a first park?” Donna asked.

Andy shrugged. “Why would it matter?”

Ron huffed. “Because the first park was a total disaster that lost millions of dollars and the lives of three mostly innocent, if incredibly stupid, people.”

“In here,” Leslie said, ignoring them all. She walked toward the vine-covered door. “They went in here.”

-o-

“So, uh,” Andy said, squinting up at the disheveled room. “If this was their upkeep situation, or whatever, then no wonder it went down.”

He was trying to make conversation because 1. he liked to talk and 2. he didn’t like silence.

And 3. this was a fairly boring trip, which was pretty crappy since most of the time his job was pretty cool. He was here to train raptors, not going on hikes in the jungle.

Donna gave him a look. “You really didn’t hear about the first park? Jurassic Park?”

“Jurassic World,” Andy corrected with a knowing nod. “Have to pay attention there.”

Leslie was still moving them forward until she stopped with a very dramatic sigh.

Andy craned his head, hopeful for something interesting. Or food. He could go for some food right now. He tried to remember if he had any stored in his pockets -- sometimes he lost track; this vest did have a lot of pockets.

Instead, she bent over and stood up with what looked like watches. Her face was pinched when she turned back toward them. “The trackers,” she said. “They took off their trackers.”

This apparently was a big deal, given Leslie’s expression. Andy just hoped that meant they could get back to their park and do something a little less boring.

Ron came forward, picking one from Leslie’s grasp to examine it.

Leslie shook her head. “How did they get these off? Are they that smart?”

Ron turned it over in his hands. “Or that stupid,” he supplied. “These look like they’ve been bitten off.”

“But wouldn’t the electrical connection shock them?” Leslie asked.

“Very much so,” Ron said. “Apparently our VIP guests have little in the way of common sense.”

Andy rocked forward, trying to think of something worthwhile to say. “Well, maybe they didn’t bite them off,” he said. When everyone looked at him, he realized he needed a better theory. “Maybe the dinosaur did.”

Leslie blinked at him. “The Indominus Rex has teeth the size of your head,” she said.

“And really good hands,” Andy said with a wise nod. “I remember. I saw it.”

Leslie stared at him a minute longer. “I must be getting desperate because that almost made sense.”

Andy beamed, feeling very encouraged. “And you know,” he continued. “If you want to really find those two missing guests, you need better trackers than those things.” He paused for dramatic effect. “You need my raptors.”

“How could we possibly use your raptors?” Leslie asked.

“Because they’re smart; they’re fast; and they always find the pig,” Andy said proudly. “Like, always. And then, somehow, they always get back to their cages -- by themselves.

“We don’t want them to find a pig, though,” Leslie protested.

“And somehow I think that they might not come back to their cage if you set them free in the jungle,” Ron said.

“Uh, yeah,” Donna said. “Pretty sure your raptors would think of you as the pig the moment you open that gate.”

“No way,” Andy said. “I have a special relationship with those raptors. I’m their alpha. And their omega. The only hard part will be making the VIP guests smell like pigs. We may have to find them first.”

Leslie sighed, and Andy winced. So much for his genius plan.

Although, he made a mental note to himself: if he bought pig spray, he could spray down guests in advance for practice runs. It could totally work. Anything was possible for Owen Grady, Raptor Trainer.

“So we’ve got nothing,” Leslie said. “We’ve come all this way, and we still have no VIP guests and there’s still a dinosaur on the loose. This day is officially a disaster.”

Ron drew a terse breath. “No guests have been eaten; we have suffered minimal casualties and still have proper security protocols in place.”

“Yeah, Leslie,” Andy said. “It’s not so bad. Ron’s right.”

Ron harrumphed. “Actually, I was going to say that the day is still young. Give it some time before we declare an official disaster.”

Leslie smiled warmly at each of them. “Thanks, guys. I don’t know where I’d be without you.”

“Uh, hello,” Donna said. “I don’t know where you are with us.”

Leslie made a sad face. “Yeah,” she said. “That is unfortunately a really good point.”

“Duh,” Andy said with a goofy laugh. “We’re at the other dinosaur theme park we put out of business.”

Leslie nodded at him, lips drawn together. “Thank you, Andy.”

He grinned back at her. “You know me,” he said, adjusting his super cool vest and realizing he might have a Hershey bar stashed there after all. “Just doing my job.”

-o-

Today, as far as Donna was concerned, was dangerously close to actual work. Sure, Donna did her paperwork most of the time -- and she even bothered to do Andy’s, too, but it was all on her terms. In her time.

And, if possible, in air conditioning.

To think, she gave up her Mercedes to work on this island. It had to have perks for that kind of sacrifice.

Most of the time, it did.

Today, though?

What the hell was with today?

Dinosaurs getting out; guests going through security points. Didn’t people realize that all that extra effort just wasn’t worth it?

And now, after literally hiking through the jungle, they still weren’t able to find what they were after. As far as Donna was concerned, they should just cut their losses. If two idiots were going to go outside the perimeter, then they deserved to get eaten by dinosaurs. That was just plain common sense.

Leslie Knope, though, didn’t operate on plain common sense.

No, with Leslie there was principle and integrity. It was respectable and all, but sometimes it made her a real bitch to work with.

“So, if we can’t find these two, what are we going to do next?” she asked.

Leslie chewed her lip, stepping through the remnants of what had once been a gift shop. “We can create a grid pattern in the woods,” she said. “Between the four of us, it shouldn’t be so bad, right? We each cover, what -- four or five square miles?”

Donna actually laughed at that. “All with a fierce predator on the loose?”

“I admit, it’s not a great plan--”

“It’s not a remotely feasible plan at all,” Ron said gruffly.

“I still say the raptors,” Andy said from behind them.

“Our best bet is to head back to the main grounds,” Donna said. “There’s enough security feeds that we have to pick them up at some point.”

Leslie pressed on, passing through a hallway toward what looked like a garage. “Maybe they’re hiding here,” she suggested. “I mean, it’s shelter, so that makes it relatively safe, right? Or hey, look, they could have taken one of these cars.”

The cars in question were at least 20 years old. Donna wasn’t a mechanic, but she knew that the odds of one working was pretty slim.

Ron, on the other hand, was something of a mechanic. “These vehicles, assuming they have gas and oil, would still be non-operational.”

“I don’t know,” Leslie said. “Just change the battery, right?”

Ron stared at her. “That assumes that they would be smart enough to perform such a task,” he said. “Or that it would actually work. Which it wouldn’t.”

Leslie sighed again. “Fine, fine, okay,” she said. “We’ll go back.”

That was what Donna wanted to hear.

But as she turned back to learn, she heard something else. Something she didn’t want to hear.

She stopped, tilting her head. “Did you all hear that?”

“What?” Leslie asked.

Ron’s brow furrowed when Donna heard it again. “That,” he said gruffly.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Leslie said. “What are hearing? We’re not hearing that are we?”

“Hearing what exactly?” Andy asked.

Donna felt it now, a distant but strengthening tremor.

“Oh, no,” Leslie said, shaking her head now. “No, no, no, no, no, no.”

“It appears that we can’t track two guests,” Ron announced. “But the Indominus Rex probably has no problem tracking us.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Andy said. “We wouldn’t be able to hear it coming or anything.”

“It’s a massive dinosaur; bigger than the t-rex,” Donna said. “Do you really think it can sneak up on people without them realizing it?”

“So what do we do?” Leslie asked. “I don’t have any protocols for surviving an imminent attack. What do we do?”

The tremors were stronger now and the sound audible as it shook the walls and ceiling.

“Run,” Donna said. “Run like hell.

-o-

Donna’s advice had been appropriate and to the point. Moreover, given his current company, Ron had confidence that such advice would work in his favor. While Ron would not be responsible for the deaths, he begrudgingly had to admit he would still feel remiss if they occurred.

None of this was Leslie’s fault, even if she was part of a flawed paradigm that courted disaster. And Donna and Andy, while ineffective cogs in and bloated machine, were not, in and of themselves, guilty of anything in particular. They did honest work for an honest wage, and he could not hold them accountable for the greater sins of the corporation.

Which meant, quite simply, that if Ron had the means to save three lives, then it was his duty to offer superior advice and save said three lives.

And Ron had the means.

“Quick,” he ordered, taking a sharp turn down the corridor. “This way.”

Leslie made a sound of protest, but it was cut short by the sound of glass breaking and wood splintering. The Indominus Rex roared, ripping out the far wall with relative ease.

Leslie cursed before scuttling after Ron. “This way, this way, this way!”

Ron turned again, winding through the maintenance portion of the building. The roaring rattled the walls, which would have been unsettling enough, if the damn dinosaur hadn’t ripped the entire roof off next.

Leslie shrieked, and Donna skidded to the ground. Andy tripped over Donna, going head over heels into the rubble.

Ron rolled his eyes. “Not much farther!” he insisted, yanking Andy up and ushering Donna past him. He locked eyes with Leslie. “Trust me.”

She nodded at him, falling in step beside him as he took another hard turn and let a door slam shut behind him.

Before the Indominus ripped out that wall as well. Grunting, Ron picked up his pace, passing both Donna and Andy before identifying the critical door and pulling it open. “In here!” he ordered, pushing Donna and Andy inside. After Leslie went in, Ron spared one glance back at the dinosaur.

It raged at him, flexing its talons as it smashed through the rubble.

Ron smirked. “Close,” he said. “But not quite.”

With that, he pulled the door shut behind him, spinning the interior lock.

“A lock, Ron? I’m not sure a lock’s going to help,” Leslie said, wincing as the Indominus scraped loudly at the walls outside.

“This room is reinforced,” Ron announced, making his way toward the back.

The walls jittered again with an audible creak.

“Yeah, not sure that’s going to be enough,” Donna said.

“Nor is it intended to be,” Ron said, turning the spindle on the floor, ignoring the bits of ceiling that started to rain dust down on them. “Say what you will about John Hammond, but he did take security seriously. This entire park is underscored with a number of bunkers strong enough to survive a nuclear blast, stocked well enough to provide for the equivalent of a nuclear winter.”

He lifted the spindle, raising the floor hatch with it.

Feeling smug, he gestured down. “After you.”

-o-

This was a bad day.

It was just such a bad day.

To be fair, Jerry had a lot of bad days, but honestly, he didn’t let that get to him. Working at Jurassic World was nothing but a paycheck to him, and he was holding out for the generous retirement package so he could buy that new beach house for Gail. Then the girls would visit them with the grandkids and Jerry would have nothing to worry about but his woman and the sun that shines.

So, most of the time, Jerry didn’t care if he was bad at what he did. He didn’t care if he was the butt of every office joke around. He did enough to keep himself employed and bided his time until he got to do the things that really mattered.

All that said, this one might just get him fired.

He had lost two VIP guests. In truth, he hadn’t so much lost them as never had them, but somehow he doubted that would make anyone more sympathetic to his cause. Plus, his darn ID bracelet was malfunctioning and his tablet had stopped working after he spilled his burrito on it.

And that wasn’t it.

No, Jerry hadn’t just lost two guests.

He’d lost all of them.

He’d ducked into the bathroom (to deal with that burrito), and thirty minutes later, there had been no one left in sight.

Concerned, Jerry had checked meticulously and found everything locked and empty. Perplexed, he stopped by the Mosasaurus tank to get his bearings and figure out if he had enough energy to make it back to the command center while snacking on the bag of chips he’d had the foresight to purchase before all this happened.

There had to be someone in the command center to help him figure out what had gone so terribly wrong.

Standing there, though, he had to stop and think just how nice it was. Jurassic World was a world class theme park, and Jerry wasn’t particularly good at anything, but it was sort of nice to be a part of them. Like he was making a difference in the world, in his own small way.

He crunched on another chip with a surge of contentment, turning to head back.

Then, another terrible thing happened.

He dropped his chips.

Worse, a breeze picked up, taking the half empty bag and flitting it toward the safety rail. Jerry felt a twinge of grief when he saw a few chips skitter across the ground.

At the safety rail, he sighed.

This really was a bad day.

He glanced around.

No one was there.

It was a long walk back to the command center, and he was sure there were a few chips left in the bag. Chewing his lip, he bent over the rail.

Straining, he bent a little more.

A little farther, a little farther--

Finally, his fingers wrapped around the bag.

Just as the rest of his body came tumbling over the rail.

He hit the ground with an oomph, rolling with sudden momentum. Mindful to keep his grip on the bag, he hardly had time to brace himself when the ground disappeared and he fell.

It was a long drop -- long enough to take the breath out of him. It didn’t make any sense -- there were security measures to prevent just this sort of thing from happening -- but Jerry had that kind of luck.

As in, no luck at all.

Hitting the water was almost a relief since he was still alive. This might work out okay after all.

Then he felt the water move, and he looked down.

Just in time to see the Mosasaurus come up from beneath him with its jaws open wide to swallow him whole.

-o-

It was the curse of being perfect.

By the time he was ready with perfection, the rest of the world had missed their window of opportunity.

He had been told that it was the other way around, that he was simply too lost in his own headspace to take advantage of real opportunities, but Tom knew better.

Tom knew himself.

He was too good for this world.

Like all great people, he would suffer for it.

“What do you mean there’s no another ferry?” Tom wailed to Chris and Ben. “What about you two? How are you going to get out of here?”

“Well, we weren’t planning on leaving,” Ben said.

Tom was flabbergasted. “You two decided to stay willingly on the island with a massive predator on the loose? Are you insane?”

“Valid question,” Chris said. “With an obvious answer. I, for one, have a position of power that, by conscience, keeps me here. Ben is simply a dedicated worker, set on the greater good.”


Tom made a face. “You are both insane!”

“Well, you’re the one who missed the ferry,” Ben said. “What were you doing anyway?”

“Packing!” Tom said.

Chris looked pleased. “Your commitment to the integrity of your work inspires me.”

“What? No,” Tom said. “I wasn’t packing my work. I was packing my things.”

He gestured to his bejeweled luggage set.

“I needed to make sure my best lab coats were in there, and I got all of my ties, ascots and pocket squares for good measure,” he said, lifting his chin proudly. “Then I had to get my iPod, my iPad, my iPad mini, my iPhone and, of course, DJ Rumba.”

Ben raised his eyebrows. “It’s not like you were never coming back.”

“I refuse to take chances with the important things in life,” Tom explained. “These are my necessities. I left all my extra skins and even my belt collection behind.”

“And we’re insane?” Ben asked.

“I’m glad you’re able to see that at least,” Tom said. “So how about arranging for another ferry to come back and pick me up? I’d let you two tag along.”

He grinned, waggling his eyebrows.

Chris shook his head very seriously. “As thoughtful and selfish as that is, it’s a risk we can’t take,” he said. “We have to stick to the strict evacuation timeline.”

“No!” Tom said. “I have to get out of here!”

“Didn’t you help make the Indominus?” Ben asked. “Don’t you feel just a little bit guilty?”

“I made it, but I didn’t let it out,” Tom said. “I know the damage that thing can do, which is why I want to get out of here, yo.”

Chris smiled reassuringly. “The command center is built to endure hurricane conditions,” he said. “And if all else fails, there are emergency bunkers for the absolute worst case scenario. We’ll be fine.”

“Except we’re stuck here!” Tom wailed.

“It could even be fun,” Chris said, somehow managing to smile. “We can play spot the dinosaur on the monitors.”

“Fun and productive,” Ben said. “I approve.”

Chris sat excitedly down at one of the console. “I’ll take everything to the east!”

“I’ve got an active feed on the park and the areas just to the north.”

Tom groaned, slumping miserably to a seat. “I’ll take the command center,” he said. “That way I know when I’m about to get eaten.”

“There you go, Tom!” Chris said. “There’s the spirit!”

In response, Tom slumped even further down in his seat, wondering what he had done to ever deserve this.

-o-

The attack by the Indominus Rex had taken nearly ten minutes. In this regard, Leslie had to admire its persistence. She could respect anyone who didn’t like to leave a job unfinished.

But when the job was devouring her and her coworkers whole, giving up looked a whole lot more appealing. By the time the vigorous attacks finally died down, they stayed hunkered down for another five to ten minutes, just to be safe.

Although Ron had taken it upon himself to open the latch and clearly intended to go first, Leslie stepped in. True, as a corporate executive, she had the least experience in the field than everyone else in the room, but Leslie was in charge.

This was her responsibility.

If someone was going to get eaten, it was going to be her.

Although, she really, really didn’t want to get eaten.

Opening the hatch, she found the room above badly damaged. Two walls were buckled and the roof was torn open. She had to squint at the sunlight flooding in, and yelped in horror when she saw the unexpected flash of movement.

Except it wasn’t a dinosaur.

It was…

“Jean Ralphio and Mona Lisa Saperstein?” she asked.

“Word,” the boy said. “Saperstein’s my name; making love is my game. What do you think, babe?”

Leslie made a face, struggling out and getting to her feet.

“Ew, gross,” the girl said, swatting at the boy. “She’s like fifty. And not even a good clown.”

“I’m not fifty. I’m not even close to fifty,” Leslie said. “And for the record, I make an excellent clown.”

“Oooh, now that interests me,” the boy said. “My only question: is the position of the red nose optional?”

“What?” Leslie asked.

“It’s cool if it’s not.”

Leslie shook her head. “You two are the Sapersteins, right?”

“Uh, yeah,” the girl said.

Leslie sighed in relief. “I have been looking everywhere for you.”

“I could say the same thing to you,” Jean Ralphio said, sliding an arm around her.

Leslie pulled away. “No, really,” she said. “You’re not supposed to be out of the park. Especially when there’s a dinosaur on the loose. How did you get out anyway?”

“Oh, I think we took a few wrong turns,” Jean Ralphio said.

“And we totally cut through your fences,” Mona Lisa said. “I don’t believe in fences.”

“She doesn’t,” Jean Ralphio said. “To her, there are invitations for major felonies.”

“Wait,” Leslie said, starting to put things together. “You -- broke through the fence?”

“Kaboom!” Jean Ralphio said excitedly.

“But -- how?” she asked, her heart starting to race.

“It was surprisingly difficult,” Jean Ralphio told her. “I thought about quitting. A lot.”

“I took it as a personal challenge,” Mona Lisa said. Her face crumpled. “But now it’s so boring! Why is it so boring?”

“Because you’re not even in the park anymore!” Leslie said. “And you’re telling me the park’s perimeter is compromised.”

“Yeah? So?” Mona Lisa asked.

“So, there’s a deadly rampaging beast out here,” Leslie muttered, moving back to the bunker. “And you gave it access to the place we really don’t want it to destroy. Hey, everyone!”

Ron peeked out, Donna not far behind. Andy grinned, waving up at her.

“We have a serious problem,” Leslie announced.

“Crazy dinosaur; missing guests,” Donna said. “I think we still got it.”

“Well, we have the missing guests,” Leslie said, nodding to the siblings. “But they compromised the fence.”

“Oh, no,” Andy said. “That’s bad. Why is that bad?”

“Because,” Ron sighed. “Now the Indominus will be able to get inside.”

“And if it starts realizing there are other animals in enclosures,” Donna said.

“Then we’re screwed,” Leslie said with a matter of fact shrug. “We are so totally screwed.”

-o-

Despite Leslie’s melodrama, Donna actually thought the day had taken a turn for the better. With the two missing guests accounted for, they had no more reason to linger, and Donna was more than ready to be done with her so-called duty and get her ass back someplace safe and secure.

After all this mess, Donna was going to have to find time for an extended week to treat herself right.

It was a tight fit on the way back, and it was already late afternoon by the time they got back into the park. Leslie marched them straight up to the command center, going straight to Chris.

“This is bad,” she announced.

“I am aware that it’s bad,” Chris replied, looking a little fidgety. “We are literally losing money by the second.”

“No, I mean, the fence,” Leslie said, pointing to the monitors. “Aren’t you guys checking the fence?”

Ben dipped back in his chair. “It’s a minor malfunction,” he said. “I mean, there’s no other explanation that makes any sense, and I would have had a repair crew out there, but since everyone is gone--”

“It’s not a malfunction,” she said. “They opened the fence.”

Ben looked confused. “Wait, who--”

From the side, Jean Ralphio waved and Mona Lisa smacked her gum.

“And they are?” Ben asked.

“Our missing guests,” Leslie said.

“Oh, that’s great!” Chris said.

“But now the Indominus can get into the park,” Leslie said.

“Oh, that’s bad,” Chris said, brow starting to furrow.

Ben tapped a few keys, bringing up some new monitors. “It gets worse,” he announced.

It took a moment for the image to appear on screen. Donna stepped closer, next to Ron and Andy to look.

It was the plains, where the brachiosaurus were.

Rather, had been.

“It killed them?” Leslie asked, gaping.

“An animal that kills for sport,” Ron said.

“Wait, they’re all dead?” Andy asked.

Donna’s amusement faded -- and fast.

“So, what’s the big deal?” Tom asked, joining them. “A bunch of dead dinosaurs. Are we really worried about the cost now?

“Each of those dinosaurs is worth millions of dollars,” Chris said.

“And if we don’t have any dinosaurs alive, we can’t reopen,” Leslie said.

“And you all are forgetting the most important part,” Ron said. “It’s not what this monster has do, but what it can and will still do. I hate to say I told you so--”

“Then don’t,” Leslie said, chewing her lip and starting to pace. “We have to stop it, then, right? Before it can do anything else?”

“Stop it?” Tom asked. “But it’s massive!”

“We can still use the raptors,” Andy interjected.

Leslie shook her head.

“It’s suicide,” Ron announced.

“Maybe it is best to hunker down,” Chris said.

“No,” Leslie said, adamant now. “This is my park, and I’m responsible for every guest and every creature. I can’t let that thing keep going.”

“And how do you propose on stopping it?” Ron asked.

Leslie stopped, looking at him. She looked at all of them. “I don’t know,” she admitted. “But I know I have to try. And I can’t expect any of you to join me -- although I will probably die alone -- where’s Ann, by the way?”

“Uh, she left on the last boat,” Ben supplied.

“That beautiful, smart, gorgeous prehistoric daylily,” Leslie said. She gathered herself with a deep breath. “But I’m going back out there.”

There was an extended pause.

Finally Ron let out a breath of exasperation. “Then I will go with you,” he said. “Because you’re going to need all the firepower you can get.”

“Guns?” Andy asked. “Oh, can I get a gun, too?”

“Sure, why not,” Leslie said.

“I can stay here and track its progress,” Ben offered.

“I can come, too,” Chris offered.

“No, no,” Leslie said. “You need to coordinate with land support for more artillery if we need it. You’re the only one they’ll listen to.”

“Hey, don’t look at me,” Tom said. “I’m staying here.”

When everyone glared at him, Tom shrugged.

“If you want new animals for the park, you need me,” he said.

Leslie rolled her eyes. “Okay, then,” she said. “Ron, Andy, you’re with me--”

Donna sighed. “Wait a second,” she said.

Leslie stopped, surprised. “Donna?”

“Yeah, yeah,” she said.

“You’re...coming?” Leslie asked.

“You need someone who can understand and predict animal behavior, especially with an asocial monster like the Indominus,” Donna said. “You all are as good as dead without me.”

Leslie smiled at her fondly. “You are an amazing person.”

“Who expects a large bonus after all this,” Donna said.

“Well, we might be bankrupt after this,” Leslie said with a nod of commiseration. “But I’ll see what I can do.”

-o-

Andy really wasn’t sure what they were doing.

He was pretty sure they were tracking a dinosaur of some sort, but he wasn’t actually sure why. After all, a dinosaur had tried to eat him, like, twice today, so the whole notion of going back out to give it another chance seemed a little weird and all.

But he was Owen Grady, Raptor Trainer, so he would do what he had to do.

Plus, Leslie ordered him. She was basically his boss.

At least, he was pretty sure she was his boss.

It is pretty fun to walk around and look for clues. Donna and Ron are all over that, noting smudges on the ground and broken windows.

“Hey, look!” Andy said, picking up a bottle of soda. “A clue!”

Leslie hurried over. “Really?”

Andy turned, holding it out proudly.


Leslie looked expectant. “What’s it a clue for?”

“That...someone was thirsty,” Andy concluded.

“We’re looking for a dinosaur, Andy,” Leslie reminded him. “A big dinosaur.”

“That very well could have been thirsty enough to drink this,” Andy said. “And dinosaurs don’t know how to use trash cans, right? So that’s why it’s on the ground.”

Leslie stared at him, and Andy knew he probably had it wrong.

Dinosaur probably didn’t like soda anyway.

“Hey, y’all,” Donna called. “This way!”

Leslie headed after her, and Andy trotted behind, coming up a few steps from Donna and Ron, who were studying scratches on the ground.

Like that had anything to do with dinosaurs.

“There’s remarkably little damage to the major structures,” Ron said. “But it’s definitely been this way.”

“This thing isn’t stupid,” Donna said. “It’s on a seek and kill mission. Destroying buildings just isn’t part of its game plan.”

“So how do we find it?” Leslie asked.

“If we stay in the open long enough, I suspect it will find us,” Ron said.

Donna straightened. “He’s right,” she said. “This thing wants total annihilation. The asocial upbringing made it a sociopath.”

Andy did his best to look like he knew what they were talking about.

But, no, really, he was just trying to look like this wasn’t so boring. Crazy dinosaurs, right? Like the other ones were so not crazy.

He was about to comment on that, when he heard something.

Stopping, he tilted his head, expecting everyone else to hear it, too.

“Guys,” he started.

Leslie shook her head. “We need a plan--”

Andy heard it again. “No, really, guys--”

“One that doesn’t involve dying,” Donna added.

The sound got louder. “Guys!”

“Those two things may not be compatible goals,” Ron pointed out.

“Guys, seriously--” Andy started, because he wasn’t making this up for once. He turned, heart starting to pound, when he saw the flash of movement.

And the fire bright eyes coming straight at him.

-o-

April lowered her gun. “Andy?”

From where he was now cowering on the ground, Andy looked up between his fingers. “April?”

With a rush of adrenaline, April couldn’t even hide her relief. “Andy!”

He started to get back up, but she was on top of him too fast. Knocking him over, she slung her gun behind her, pressing her lips against his in desperate rejuvenation.

Andy was alive.

He was actually alive.

April didn’t like to show her emotions, and she hated to show the world that she cared about anything, but damn it, she cared about Andy.

Pulling back for air, she shook her head, grinning. “You’re so stupid,” she told him. “And I so love you.”

On the ground, he was breathless and confused. “Really?” he asked. “Awesomesauce!”

That wasn’t really the response she wanted after confessing her love, but what the hell ever. She loved Andy, and there wasn’t time to sit and pretend like this wasn’t going to be an actual thing between them.

Nearby, someone cleared their throat.

April looked up, making a face. Standing nearby, Leslie was glaring at her. Ron looked truly uncomfortable.

Donna looked pleased, though.

“What?” April asked, annoyed.

“As...relieved as we all are that you’re alive,” Leslie began, “we do sort of have a situation here.”

April scrunched up her nose.

“The dinosaur,” Leslie said. “Running around Jurassic World.”

“Well, we are a dinosaur park,” April replied.

Leslie drew a breath and waited.

April groaned, climbing back off Andy. “Fine!” she said, getting to her feet. “I’ll go find your stupid dinosaur and bring it to main street in thirty minutes. Make sure you have enough firepower to put this thing down once and for all.”

Leslie looked surprised. “You can...do that?”

“Uh, yeah,” April said. “But there won’t be a large margin of error. You’ll get one chance, and if you screw it up, I’m not sticking around to save your asses.”

She turned to Andy, who was on his feet now with wide eyes.

“Except for you,” she said, pointing at him. “I’ll save you because we’re going to have sex later. Understood.”

Andy saluted. He was so damn sexy that it annoyed her. “Understood,” he said.

She glared back at Leslie. “Thirty minutes,” she said. “Then this thing is going down.”

-o-

Chris Traeger was a positive person. He believed in the power of positive thinking. He had dedicated his entire life to it, embracing every day as an actual opportunity, and it had never failed him.

Until today.

Today wasn’t an opportunity.

Today wasn’t even a chance to learn.

Today was a disaster.

There was no silver lining. There was no bright side. Chris’s most expensive investment was dangerously close to imploding, costing people their lives and probably all of the company’s money.

And to make things even worse, there was literally nothing he could do about it.

Except sit.

Watch.

And wait.

It had been some consolation to be able to see his colleagues in action, and Ben kept the feed of Leslie and the others in the main monitor while tracking the Indominus as best he could on the other monitors. As an added bonus, April Ludgate was, improbably, alive, which meant their overall body count could be reduced by at least one.

But Chris could feel it, eating away at him. It pulled at the back of his mind, squeezing at his chest while his heart stuttered out beats. His stomach twisted, knotting itself up, and Chris didn’t just feel scared.

He felt old.

Failure was an inevitability. It was an eventuality. Things went wrong; things fell apart. Dinosaurs broke free, and parks went bankrupt.

And then, Chris Traeger would die, a sad, miserable man with nothing to show for his life at all.

“You okay?” Ben asked.

Chris startled, looking at his friend.

Tom made an overly dramatic noise. “We’re trapped on death island watching all of his money disappear,” he said. “Of course he’s not alright.”

Ben glared at Tom, but Chris forced a smile. “It’s actually not the money,” he said.

“How can it not be the money?” Tom asked, incredulous. “This is probably going to bankrupt the company and you. And all the kids you don’t even have yet.”

“Oh, yes,” Chris said. “This could quite probably ruin everything I have spent my life working so hard to build.”

Ben inclined his head knowingly. “Then what’s the problem?”

Chris sighed, looking forlornly at the monitors. “I never wanted to be rich or famous,” he said. “I set out to make a difference, to make the world better. I thought I could make dreams come true with Jurassic World. Instead, I created nightmares.”

There was a silence, sad and lingering.

Ben finally cleared his throat, scooting his chair forward. “I know all of this is bad--”

“It’s a total and epic failure,” Chris corrected him.

“But it’s not, though,” Ben said. He pointed to the screen. “It’s not just your dream anymore. It’s all of ours. And we’re still working to save it, any way we can. Yes, we’ll take a hit in the publicity. And yes, it’ll be an expensive mistake. But you said it yourself, you never set out to be rich and famous.”

Chris inhaled, feeling his eyes sting with tears. “That is the most beautiful sentiment I have ever heard,” he said. “Ben Wyatt, you are an inspiration.”

“Well, I did learn from the best,” Ben said with a smile.

Tom shook his head. “You’re both nuts,” he muttered. “We’re going to watch them die, and then we’re going to die. And I’m not even going to be dressed in my best lab coat when it happens!”

Disaster could have been an eventuality, and Chris wasn’t okay with that.

But, maybe -- just maybe -- with his friends at his side, Chris would survive it yet.

-o-

On the mainland, Ann was comfortable, cool and safe. Part of Leslie’s evacuation plan included putting all guests and workers in nearby accommodations. She had made special arrangements for Ann in these situations, ensuring that Ann had a suite all to herself, complete with a view of the water and room service.

It was the most ridiculous contingency Ann had ever heard of.

And she loved it.

She really did.

Leslie Knope was overwhelming to be friends with sometimes, but she was amazing. Which was sort of why she could be overwhelming. But still, so amazing.

There Ann was, then. Snug in her plush robe after enjoying a soak in her private jacuzzi tub. Now she was sipping wine and looking across the ocean having what would have to be one of the best vacations of her life.

And feeling really guilty.

Leslie was still back there.

Leslie and the rest of the team.

Ann knew that she didn’t have anything more she could have offered. Ann knew she had done everything by the book.

That was the thing, though.

Ann had done what was required of her.

Everyone else was going above and beyond.

Chewing her lip, Ann wiggled her toes. There had to be something.

Maybe she could call in military support? She had dated a guy in the marines, once. They might be motivated to help. And she’d had that fling with the Costa Rican naval officer.

Then again, sending bombs and guns to the island probably wouldn’t help Leslie do her job.

No, Ann needed to think bigger. She needed to think better.

She needed to think like Leslie.

Leslie didn’t need more negative attention drawn to the island.

She needed positive attention.

The news cycle was going to eat them alive in the morning, unless…

Ann sat up quickly, reaching for her phone.

Unless she gave them something better.

She scrolled through her contacts list until she came across the name she was looking for. Dialling, she put the phone to her ear. “Pick up, pick up, pick up,” she muttered.

“Hello?” the voice on the other end of the line answered.

“Hi,” Ann said, getting to her feet. “Shauna Mulway-Tweep?”

“Yeah….”

“This is Ann Perkins from Jurassic World.”

“Oh, hi--”

“Yeah, hi,” Ann said. “Look, I have a story for you that could make your career.”

“I know about the dinosaur getting loose,” Shauna answered. “Everyone does.”

“But not everyone has access to an exclusive source inside the control room,” Ann pointed out.

“I’m listening,” Shauna said.

“Good,” Ann said, starting to smile. “Can you meet me in my hotel room? And I promise, I’ll tell you everything.

Because a lot of people would try to tell the story of Jurassic World and miss the real point of it all.

Ann couldn’t do much, but she could make sure the real story -- Leslie’s story -- was told loud and clear.

-o-

Most of the good things in life could only be attributed to the grace of God.

At least, that was how Jerry liked to think about it.

That was how he’d met his beautiful wife. That was how he’d fathered three sweet girls. That was how he’d held a job with benefits at Jurassic Park for the last ten years. God’s grace.

Other people, on the other hand, tended to say it was blind, dumb luck.

Because he was Jerry, the walking punchline, and that was the thing about a joke: it always had a punchline. You laughed, rolled your eyes and it was over.

Over.

Maybe this was it. Maybe there were no more stupid mistakes. Maybe there was never another day in the office or dinner with his family. Maybe there was no retirement package and a pretty beach with Gayle for the rest of their lives.

Maybe this was how Jerry Gergich died: reaching for a bag of chips and falling into a Mosasaurus tank. The only human ever to die this way.

Then again, maybe it wasn’t.

Jerry was turned head over heels, half drowned and disoriented when he realized that he could breathe. There was a rush and a swirl and he realized that he was looking up at the sky.

Confused, he tried to right himself, watching at the Mosasaurus disappeared back into the depths of its tank. It wasn’t hungry, then.

Or maybe Jerry just didn’t taste all that good.

He could hear them now: Gosh, Jerry, you’re the only person that a dinosaur would spit back out.

Though, honestly, after this, Jerry might tell that one himself. Because he had just been half eaten by a mosasaurus and then spit back out. Blind, dumb luck indeed.

The grace of God.

With a pathetic doggy paddle, he propelled himself toward the wall. There were few access points, so he had to awkwardly swim the around toward the grandstand, where one of the few emergency ladders was located. All things considered, this process was far more cumbersome than the actual almost-eating. If it had been much farther away, there was a good chance he would have drowned from exhaustion.

As it was, pulling himself up the rungs was tedious with his sopping clothes weighing him down even more. He levered himself onto the platform, flopping heavily onto his back and focusing on his breathing.

For this, Jerry was not sure how long he laid there. He didn’t really care, for the simple fact that he was alive and that he was actually pretty sure that movement was impossible anyway. He was soaked and weary, and the only good thing about that was that with all the water, no one could tell if he’d peed himself or not.

Finally, Jerry sat up, pushing up to his feet and hobbling toward the exit. Everything was frustrating locked by the passcode, and no matter how many times Jerry tried, it refused to open. When Jerry was about to curl up on the ground and accept defeat, it miraculous beeped open.

“Oh, thank goodness,” he said, hurrying his way out. He let the doors lock shut behind him, passing through the visitor entrance and into the street with an absolute sigh of utter relief.

He’d survived another day.

Then he looked up.

At the biggest dinosaur he’d ever seen.

It tilted its head, bearing its fangs.

Jerry didn’t even bother to run.