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The Extinct

Victor Methos

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.”

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