The building exploded, showering flaming debris and dinosaur parts onto the pedestrians below. Under normal circumstances this might have disturbed the populace, but the situation had become all too common recently.
"Another bloody building," grumbled an older man as he walked by, brushing dino guts off his new suit. "No respect for architecture."
"Well if you know of a better way to dispose of a stegosaurus, I'm all ears pal," said another man to himself, from [a] nearby park bench. He stood up, brushing a bit of charred tail off his new coat. The coat flapped open, offering a glimpse of a shotgun concealed within. A boy saw the weapon and stopped in his tracks, to the consternation of his mother who was holding his hand and obviously in a hurry.
"Unless you're a lizard you don't have to worry about him!" she snapped. "That's just..." **CUE THEME MUSIC!!!**
The boss was drumming his fingers impatiently as Nick Bronson, dinosaur hunter, walked through the door.
"I told you NOT to blow up that building!" he said angrily. "And can't you take a shower before you get here? You reek of dead dino!"
"'In order to know your enemy you must smell like your enemy.' That's Sun Tzu, Chief. Basic warfare," quipped Nick. "Or maybe you've been sitting so long behind a desk you've forgotten what it's like out on those streets! You've gone soft!"
"The only thing soft around here is your head, Bronson!" the boss shot back. "Your justifications of lousy hygiene don't interest me! What does interest me is why you decided to blow up the United Nations building after I specifically told you not to!"
"I've had enough of your rules," scoffed Nick. "I quit. Pensions are for jerks who plan on living forever anyway," he said as he left.
"If you quit," the boss called after him, "you lose the terroristic immunity that you get as a member of the Dinosaur Interrogation Neutralization Observation Subjugation And Universal Research group!" But it was too late; he was already gone.
The boss thought for a moment, then pressed a button on his intercom system. "Murphy? Get in here."
No sooner had he let go of the button than the sounds of crashing furniture and high pitched exuberance echoed through the office. "What the blazes was that?" demanded the boss to no one in particular.
Agent Murphy burst through the door to the office. Literally. Splinters flew everywhere. "Dammit, Murphy," yelled the boss, "how many times have I told you to turn the knob? That's the third door this week!"
"Whoa, sorry, Chief!" said Murphy. "I was just so excited to stop doing Nick's paperwork that I wasn't thinking about doorknobs!"
"You'll be doing your own paperwork from now on, Agent," the chief said, sighing. "Bronson just quit; you're being promoted."
"Wowee, promoted?! That's crazy!" Murphy paused for a second. "Wait, Nick quit? But I just submitted his last expense report!"
"Yes, I suspect you'll spend a bit less than 10 grand in shotgun shells a month. By the way, did you ever pass your firearms exam?"
"Firewhat? The only weapons I carry are my wit, charm, and cat-chucks!" Murphy exclaimed.
The Chief knew Murphy was delusional about the first two items, and wisely decided not to ask about the third.
It didn't matter. "See, somebody told me they couldn't swing a dead cat in here, and I wanted to see if they were right, so--"
"Murphy!" the boss interrupted. "I don't want to know about the damn cat-chucks! Never mention them again! Listen, we've had reports of reptilian activity at the abandoned shipyard. Grab a shotgun from the armory on the way out. Oh, and Murphy..."
"You're gonna need this." The chief opened his desk drawer and pulled out a D.I.N.O.S.A.U.R. Immunity Badge and tossed it at Murphy.
Murphy was confused. "Wait, why do I need another one of these?"
"It was in the lost and found box. For over a year. Now get out of my office!"
"Whoa!" Murphy scrambled to leave. In his haste he missed the door completely and went straight through the drywall next to the frame.
Nick unlocked the door to his tiny one-bedroom apartment. It was sparsely decorated, unless you counted the shotgun holes. Nick's answering machine light was blinking. He hit play. "Wow, Nick!" It was Murphy. "I got promoted to Dinosaur Hunter!" To Nick's horror, Murphy started to sing, to the tune of "Memory" from Cats: "Murrrrphyyyy...is a dinosaur hunnterrrrr...."
"Hey, no filking!" Nick could hear the boss in the background. "Waah!" Murphy yelled. The message ended there. A second message began, in a smooth English accent. "Mr. Bronson, it has come to our attention that you've just become a free agent. We have use for a man of your...talents. If you're interested, contact us at the Saurian Anarchic Undercover Reptile Intelligence Administration Network." The message ended.
Nick pulled a beer from the fridge but could not find a can opener. He grabbed his shotgun and blew off the cap. He took a quick swig from the pristine, opened bottle and smiled. Back at the academy he had earned the nickname "The Shotgun Sniper". SAURIAN, eh? he thought to himself. The British equivalent of DINOSAUR, except more tuxedos and casual drinking during work hours. A compelling offer indeed. Nick belched and scratched himself. Yep, an organization like SAURIAN would love a guy as sophisticated like me, he thought.
He was still thinking about SAURIAN's offer and absently scratching himself when a team of federal agents burst through his door.
"Nick Bronson! You're under arrest for 745 counts of domestic terrorism." yelled a slender agent, weapon drawn. "Funny you didn't show up in our computers until now," he said as an aside, "but who cares. This bust is going to make our careers!"
"What the hell are you talking about?" Nick demanded. "Don't you idiots know I have terroristic immunity?"
The phone rang. Nick let it go to the machine. "And don't forget Nick, now that you quit you no longer have terroristic immunity!"
"Dammit, Murphy, now you tell me," Nick grumbled. In less than a second, Nick lifted his shotgun and fired twice, knocking the guns from the agents' hands. The agents were rightfully baffled. Nick jumped head first out of the closed 2nd floor window. So much for the security deposit...
"That was...unexpected," one of the agents said. "I think it's time we reported back to base. This was the worst surprise party yet."
"Yeah," the other replied, "I keep telling Brian this 'abductions to parties' service is a bad idea."
On the street, Nick brushed some glass off his coat and looked up. It would take more than that to stop Nick Bronson, Dinosaur Hunter! Suddenly he realized he'd said that last part out loud. Slightly embarrassed, he started walking down the street.
Meanwhile, Murphy was on fire. No matter how many blackjack hands he played at the illegal shipyard casino, Murphy kept winning. This was NOT the plan...
A burly hand landed firmly on his shoulder. "Sir, can you come with me please?" Murphy smiled; maybe the plan was working after all...
The brute lead Murphy to the bathroom and shoved his head into the toilet. Murphy realized that his hair had actually been on fire. "Complimentary dousing service, reserved exclusively for high rollers here at the Nondescript Warehouse Casino! Anything else, sir?"
"Whoa, thanks!" Murphy said. "Yeah, can you bring me some Dino cookies? I love those things!"
"I...don't know what you're talking about," the bouncer replied. "You must have us confused with another Nondescript Warehouse Casino."
"Aww man!" said Murphy. "My informant said this was General Malaise's hideout! This sucks!"
The bouncer perked up and touched his hand to the side of his ear. After a few seconds, he said, "The boss wants to talk with you."
Murphy smiled to himself. If he had learned anything in the force, it was that revealing secret informants always got a reaction! Murphy was led into a dark room. "Wait here," said the bouncer before closing the door, leaving Murphy by himself.
"Hello?" Murphy called out. He became aware of a faint growling coming from somewhere in the room, and it wasn't just his stomach. "Dammit, Murphy," he said to himself, "think! What would Nick do?" Then Murphy realized his mistake. Nick wouldn't THINK, he would act WITHOUT thinking! Murphy screamed and threw himself at the door. The door gave way almost effortlessly, which did NOT work in Murphy's favor. Murphy looked up to find himself surrounded by unclothed dinosaurs engaged in what he fervently hoped was a gigantic wrestling contest.
It was a wrestling match. After 5 minutes of dodging gnashing teeth and sharp talons, Murphy wondered why he had wished that. He wasn't exactly sure how, but suddenly he emerged victorious, as dinosaurs lay unconscious around him. A slow clap could be heard.
"Amusing, agent. So very amusing. It seems my scouts were wrong about your, how did they put it...? 'Cartoonish incompetence'!"
In retrospect, Murphy wished he could have picked a different moment to have pooped his pants.
General Malaise raised an eyebrow at the sound emanating from the agent's bowels. Was he an idiot or a genius? Several seconds later the smell hit him, and he had his answer. "Your attempt at olfactory camouflage won't work, Agent! My trained dinosaur-rat hybrids already have your scent!" Soon the arena was swarming with tiny t-rexes with mouse faces. Adorable? Yes. Deadly? Murphy thought it best not to find out. He ran. "Run, Bronson!" the general called after him. "It won't do you any good!"
Murphy paused. Did he just say Bronson?
While his pause was useful for dramatic effect, it was not useful for escaping dino-rats. Soon they were on him, and he blacked out.
Meanwhile, Nick was attempting to acquire a one-ton explosive device from the back of a semi-truck parked on the side of the freeway. He wasn't having much luck. "Grr, the movies make this look so easy," he grumbled, maneuvering the backhoe around for another try. He finally got it one his fifth try, though there was an audible gas leak coming from the bomb at that point. "Crap. Oh well."
Nick was furious as he drove away. Explosives were always easy to get from DINOSAUR. Now he had just lost his deposit on the backhoe. And why did SAURIAN need a bomb anyway? Nick wondered. Didn't they have a bomb-making division like DINOSAUR? No time for such thoughts now, he told himself. Time for my greatest foe yet. Steeling himself, Nick entered the backhoe rental store.
"I changed my mind. Could I purchase that optional explosion insurance? $2.50 does seem like a good deal, now that I think about it!"
The young woman behind the counter looked at him disdainfully. "Sir, all insurance must be bought at time of rental." This was the exact type of situation that called for a threatening grimace and a shotgun. Unfortunately he only had the former. This wouldn't look good on his expense report. Why did SAURIAN make him keep one? DINOSAUR had never asked him to keep track... The threatening grimace wasn't working. He decided to try a different tack: time for that legendary Bronson charm. His father had given him the Bronson family charm on his 6th birthday. It looked pretty much like a full sized baseball bat.
Nick looked at the clerk, who was still looking disdainfully at him. "Do you like baseball?" he said to her.
"Why yes..." she said, taken aback. "And that's an Louisville Slugger autographed by Babe Ruth!"
Nick was not a sports fan, somehow he had missed the fact his father had passed down a priceless family heirloom. He almost regretted having used it to beat confessions out of over 200 criminals, miscreants and otherwise unreasonable people.
"Do you like dinosaurs?" Nick asked.
"No, I don't," the clerk said.
"Cool, neither do I," Nick replied. "Wanna head back to my place?"
Her reply was cut off when Agent Murphy crashed through the ceiling and landed on to of her, covered in feces and small dinosaur bites. "NICK! General Malaise is running an illegal fighting ring with illegal dinosaur hybrids in his illegal casino down by the docks!"
"MURPHY!!" snapped Nick, "Can't you see I'm trying to seduce my way out of a lost backhoe security deposit?!"
Interestingly, this was STILL not in the top ten list of the duo's most bizarre conversations.
The sound of 47 safeties disengaging reached their ears from outside. "Good work, Murphy!" yelled the boss via a megaphone. "Your inspired shenanigans led us right to that traitor Bronson!"
"Traitor?" said Bronson. "What's he talking about? The only traitor I see here is you, traitor."
"But Nick," Murphy began, but he was interrupted by the sound of 47 different safeties disengaging outside. "Good work, Bronson," announced a new voice. "SAURIAN is proud of the work you've done today! Except for the security deposit."
"Wait a minute..." Murphy said. "That new voice..." Murphy stood up from the pile of poo he was still sitting in. "I've never heard that voice before in my life!"
"But that means..." Nick began, but he was interrupted by the sound of 94 safeties disengaging. "Thank you, Agent Bronson, for leading both DINOSAUR and SAURIAN into our claws!" projected General Malaise triumphantly.
Nick didn't know how the standoff was going to end, but he did know that his presence wasn't required. He grabbed a nearby tow rope and bound himself to both Murphy and the backhoe rental girl. He aimed his grappling gun upwards. The trio were hauled skyward just as the first volley of shots rang out. Nick climbed upward toward the helicopter as it flew away.
It was something of a surprise therefore when a bullet shot through the ropes on the ladder, sending Nick hurtling to the ground. Dr Guggenheim cursed. He couldn't turn the chopper around for a second pass, the gunfire was too heavy. Nick was on his own this time.
As Nick was in free fall, he realized grappling onto a helicopter was a lazy solution anyway. It was time for some real action! Using all his training from watching National Geographic specials, Nick did his best flying squirrel impersonation into the fray.
The squirrel pose did not succeed in decelerating them; that was accomplished by the gigantic inflatable bouncy castle. To Nick, this conveniently located castle also seemed like an easy out, but he decided to be grateful rather than question his luck. Nick untied himself and joined battle. Since everyone wanted him dead, he was able to knock combatants unconscious indiscriminately. "Man, this is fun!" Nick yelled to Murphy. "Just like old times!" Murphy, covered in feces and only half conscious, had to concede on the second point at least.
A voice roared out of the crowd. "BRONSON!" cried General Malaise. Nick watched as the General stomped towards them and seized Murphy by the throat, raising him into the air.
"You'll die for this, Bronson," the general hissed.
Nick was confused. "Wait, why does he think you're Bronson?" Nick asked Murphy. Murphy was unable to answer, since he was being choked, but he didn't know the anyway.
General Malaise laughed. "He acts completely on instinct without regard to the safety of others! This is definitely Bronson!"
"Well if you're clearly not acquainted with me..." said Nick slyly, "maybe I'll introduce you to my fists!" Nick lunged; Malaise deftly moved aside. The general dropped Murphy, who took the opportunity to flail wildly and scream.
"You fight like a drunken Rock Gordon!" Malaise said with admiration.
"You take that back!" Nick replied. "Murphy, how did you even get back down here?" Nick asked between lunges. "Weren't you on the helicopter with Dr Guggenheim?"
Murphy was a bit confused himself and only managed a shrug. He needed to help Nick. He decided to stop thinking again and just act.
Murphy took the broken rope and formed a makeshift lasso. He began to swing it around his head. Distracted by a passing gorilla, Murphy didn't realize the lasso had been pulled into a nearby jet engine. Too late, he realized his mistake. His second mistake was tying the end of the rope around his wrist so he wouldn't drop it. With a sudden jerk, Murphy was sucked into the engine, which then caught fire and exploded.
Nick whirled around in shock, unable to comprehend that his - well, friend was too strong a word; his colleague? - was dead. Of course, Nick was just experiencing the five classic stages of grief. Next up: ANGER!
With lightning quick speed, Nick thrust his fist through Malaise's neck and pulled out his esophagus. It was really quite disgusting. Like a crazed Sean William Scott, Nick licked the blood off his hand. "It's like maple syrup," he thought to himself.
The fighting had stopped while Nick savagely killed one of the leaders, and no one seemed inclined to start it up again; not with a homicidal Stifler on the loose.
The chief of SAURIAN came up to Nick. "Good work, Nick. We might even forgive that fee on the backhoe 'cause of your sterling work."
Nick grabbed the corpse of General Malaise. "Come on," he said. "I'm having waffles tonight."
From the shadows, General Malaise watched them go. He smiled evilly; his plan was working perfectly.
Murphy woke up with a splitting headache. He knew from past experience that he must have been hit with a sock full of AA batteries. He was shackled to the wall and gagged. Most villains didn't find this necessary with Murphy, but Malaise wasn't taking any chances.
As Murphy gradually came to, he saw the form of Dr. Guggenheim across the room. Hmm, why wasn't he restrained as well...?
"...the musical 'Cats' 46 times last year. They banned him after he leapt onstage to sing 'Memory'! That is NOT Nick Bronson!"
"Of course it's Nick Bronson!" Malaise replied angrily. "Would I spend good time and money cloning some nameless oaf?!"
"Like it or not, that's what happened," Guggenheim replied. "Go on, see how he feels about cats. That'll prove it."
Malaise approached Murphy. "How do you feel about... cats?" he asked menacingly.
Murphy knew he had to be careful. "Um... they're OK?" he said.
"So if I said I had a box of adorably fluffy felines," hissed Malaise, "that would not send you into a frenzy?"
Murphy began to sweat. "No more than for any other adorable animal-filled box," he said.
"We shall see," hissed Malaise, turning away. "Bring out the box!!!" A dino-henchman brought out a small cardboard box that seemed as though it could contain only 3 kittens. But it did not. There were 7. Truly, no one could have withstood those kittens. But Murphy's reaction was so sudden and explosive that it took everyone by surprise. Murphy began to hyperventilate. His body stated trembling faster and faster, quivering in place. Then with a yell, Murphy disappeared.
General Malaise looked on in astonishment. Where seconds before he'd been looking at his henchman holding a box of kittens, now there was just half a henchman torso, and no box to be found. Finally, the General had to admit this was not Nick Bronson. No, this man was far more dangerous.
This was the opportunity the REAL Nick Bronson had been waiting for. He crashed through the skylight and onto Malaise. "Time for round 2," growled Nick, "except this time no clones or mistaken identities!"
Malaise was both physically and mentally stunned. "But how did you know you merely killed a clone?"
"Ha! Wouldn't you like to know?" Nick said dismissively.
"Yes, I would like to know! It seems the decent thing to do now that you have the upper hand!" said Malaise.
Nick considered acquiescing, but decided it would be easier to not explain that particular point at all. Meanwhile, Guggenheim nervously approached the twitching figure in the corner huddled over the box. "They're safe... They're safe..." Guggenheim heard him muttering to himself. Guggenheim pulled a blackjack out of his pocket and raised it above his head, ready to knock Murphy unconscious. But before the weapon could come down, Murphy had the doctor in a sleeper hold. In the meantime, the kittens began to escape the box. Guggenheim slumped to the ground. "Oh no! Pawpaw! Duchess Cuddlepuss? Where did you go?" whined Murphy.
"Murphy!" Nick called over to him. "Come here and help me beat this blackguard into submission!"
"Your secret weapon cannot save you now!" General Malaise crowed. "Not when I have my own! Face the might of... Sri Blanka!"
Nick was confused. "So, is he a large green Sri Lankan then? Because otherwise that seems like a weird name."
"Of course she's large and green," Malaise responded. "She's a dinosaur, what do you expect?"
While the name was confusing, Nick was slightly embarrassed he hadn't noticed the 20 foot tall T-Rex until now. Sri Blanka's roar reverberated through the whole complex. She seemed to be engulfed in a yellow lightning storm. Odd, but deadly! "And now she's curling up into a ball. Should I be concerned? I should probably be concerned," Nick said to himself. Thinking furiously, Nick came up with a plan. It was a crazy dumb plan, but it just might work.
"Hey Murph," Nick yelled, as lightning began to flash, "all this static electricity is making those cats really fuzzy!"
Nick's comment had the desired effect. Murphy perked up and started to gather all the cats out of the box to hug them simultaneously. As Murphy gathered static electricity from the cats, he began to spark as well. Soon, he had collected as much charge as Sri Blanka.
"And Murphy," yelled Nick, "that T-Rex loves cats too... for lunch! Especially the most adorable ones!"
"What?!" cried Murphy, sparks flying. "You monster!" He began to swing his arms around furiously. "Cats are people too!"
Not much is known about the chaos that ensued, except that is caused a blackout that covered 3 states... and that no cats were harmed. As the smoke cleared, all that remained was the hulking skeleton of Sri Blanka. Just another artifact for a museum, thought Nick. Murphy was nowhere to be seen. Nick did a half-assed search, but was fairly confident the annoying sidekick would turn up eventually.
*** THREE WEEKS LATER... ***
Nick clung to the zeppelin mast at the top of the Empire State Building, and cursed the SAURIAN mission that had brought him here. Damn, but he hated pterodactyls. "Come on, you bastard," he muttered, trying to coax the prehistoric bird over to him. "This should be Murphy's job," he said. But Murphy had been missing for three weeks, and he worked for DINOSAUR anyway.
Suddenly, the pterodactyl spread its wings and let out a piercing scream. It flew straight up into the glare of the sun. Nick knew it was coming back down, but was distracted by the nest, which contained a single, rustling egg. Two human fists popped through the egg shell. Nick was stunned to behold Murphy emerging, naked of course.
"Dang it Nick, I've been staking out this location for weeks and you ruined it!!"
"Murphy!" Nick cried. "But...how? When? Why? What?"
"Golly, Nick, don't you pay attention to anything? It's so obvious! You see-" Murphy broke off. "Quick, Nick! Duck!" With a great whoosh, the pterodactyl swooped down and grabbed Murphy in its talons. Nick watched helplessly as the pterodactyl flew out of sight. He'd lost his quarry AND Murphy. "I will find you both," he vowed. "Now, how do I get down from here?"
(title not final)
Story written between January 20 and November 7, 2014