When they came across the body, they approached it cautiously. Nathan’s mind raced with possible causes for the man’s death. Rustling in the bushes nearby only heightened his apprehension. Inuk knelt down next to the body while Nathan kept an eye on the bushes.
“This does not look like the marks of any animals from the island,” Inuk said in his native tongue.
Responding in the same language, which Nathan had mostly picked up over the time he’d been there, he said, “Does it look like it was done with a…” Nathan couldn’t think of the word he needed. He held up his dagger.
Inuk shook his head. “It looks animal. Just not an animal I’m familiar with.”
Nathan relaxed a little. That actually made him feel a little better.
He gestured toward the bush, and Inuk nodded his understanding. Nathan walked forward slowly and noiselessly. When he reached the edge of the brush from which he’d heard the movement, he used his free hand to slowly push aside the foliage.
There, close to the ground, was a large, shiny, green dome. He couldn’t tell what he was seeing at first. He tried to move more greenery aside to see the edges of the dome.
Then he saw two yellow eyes looking back at him. It startled him enough that he dropped the foliage he was holding back and quickly backed out of the bushes.
“What is it?” Inuk asked.
Before Nathan could respond, a large creature charged out of the bush. Nathan jumped backward and almost tripped over the creature’s previous victim.
Inuk unsheathed his sword and swung it at the unfamiliar animal. It glanced off the shell that protected it. The creature lowered its head, which was sticking out of the shell, and rushed at Inuk.
Nathan could see legs under the shell, and knew that the creature must be vulnerable under that dome. He lunged forward with his dagger and caught the creature in one of its hind legs. It continued forward and knocked Inuk down.
Still, it was clearly wounded, and turned its attention to Nathan. He noted its sharp beak and knew that he should avoid that. He held his dagger out in front of him and was glad to realize that the animal wasn’t moving toward him as quickly as it had Inuk. He must have injured it enough to slow it down.
While he tried to decide his next course of action, he watched Inuk get up off the ground and jump on the back of the creature. It fell to the ground and pulled its head inside its shell. Thinking fast, Nathan thrust his dagger into the hole that the head had gone into. He felt it connect, and felt a sticky substance on his hand.
Pulling it back out, he saw blood and other unidentifiable substances. The animal didn’t move.
Inuk stayed on top of the shell for a moment until they agreed that it was probably safe.
“I don’t understand what this is,” Nathan said. “It looks like a…” In his normal language, he finished with, “turtle.”
“Tur-tle?” Inuk questioned.
Nathan nodded. He knew it wasn’t an animal that lived on this island, so it made sense that the man wouldn’t have heard of one before.
“They live in Pithea,” Nathan explained. “But they’re normally this big.” He put his hands together to indicate something of less than a foot in length.
They took both the man’s and the animal’s body back to the village and gave the man a proper ceremony. By the next time Brian and Winnie visited Nathan at the village, two more of these giant turtles had been spotted around the village. One had been killed, while the other had eluded the hunters.
“Winnie, Brian, I’m so glad to see you!” Nathan greeted them when they arrived. After hugging them both, Nathan grew solemn.
“Is something wrong?” Winnie asked.
“Silla was killed last week,” Nathan explained.
“How?” Brian asked.
“He was killed by some kind of giant turtle,” Nathan said.
“A turtle?” Winnie asked with a look that said she didn’t believe him.
“Yes, basically. We’ve already buried the bodies of the two we encountered so far, but trust me. They’re just like turtles, but bigger, and they seem to be invading the island. They’re huge and aggressive.”
“This is not good,” Brian said.
“That’s an understatement. It’s not like the villagers here can’t handle a predator, but this is much more dangerous than what they’re used to dealing with.”
Winnie watched Brian carefully. “You know something, don’t you?”
“Maybe. I have heard about a Madness run on the island not far from here. It’s uninhabited, at least by humans, and our union does check it now and then. But they found evidence that the Madness had cropped up there and sent some people to deal with it. There have been rumors that there is more than just a normal outbreak. But I never thought about the possibility of whatever is going on there spreading here.”
“Well, apparently it has,” Nathan said.
Prompt used: A scientist created a new animal today.