Urban Fantasy Coming of Age Fiction

Spotlights glared down, and a huge fan spun sluggishly on the ceiling. As two velociraptors fought around and around the fenced enclosure on the warehouse floor, spectators booed and cheered, though it was difficult to tell the calls apart. Cuss words were embedded in every shout.Β 

Sorely in need of money, but banishing the thought from his mind, Xavier stood silent amid the clamor, arms folded. For the first time since he’d come here, he wasn’t watching the behavior of the animals. He was looking at everything else.

The fight ended, and the crowd broke up. He roamed the building, forcing himself to walk slowly, strolling along like he always did. Like this was just a normal visit.

β€œHey, Judas.” Carl’s voice was soft, nothing to pay attention to, unless he was calling your name. β€œGonna make a bet?” The bookmaker had recently shaved his blond hair, and a tattooed snake coiled around an apple was visible on his pale scalp. Maybe it had always been there.Β 

Xavier gathered his thoughts; nothing could seem out of the ordinary. β€œYou know me. Nothing until I look.”

Carl nodded, and turned his attention to someone else.Β 

Xavier blew out a quiet breath. He was just doing one last thing, and then he could forget this place.

But for now, he needed to remember everything.

He was going to report this place to DCRL, today or tomorrow, as soon as he could. There would be a raid, and every animal here would be seized, and people would probably be arrested. At least, that was what Xavier hoped would happen. There was no way to know how quickly the organization would act on his tip, but he would write out the most accurate information he could. With new eyes, he looked, seeing everything he had refused to see before.

In a large dog crate against the wall, he recognized the velociraptor that had just lost the fight. Several men were stooped over it, scowling and arguing. One of them walked away, and came back with a plastic zip bag. Xavier ambled closer, trying to see what the bag was without being noticed. The man poured whatever was in the bag onto a piece of meat, and tossed it through the barred door of the kennel.Β 

Some women had joined the group, and they were all laughing. Xavier finally saw the label on the bag: rat poison.Β 

Immediately, hot anger flared up in him. The report wouldn’t help this animal. He wasn’t going to turn it in until later. By the time the authorities arrived, tomorrow or the next day, or some time after that, the raptor would be dead.Β 

He hadn’t wanted to come here again at all, but he’d felt an unnamable urge to do it, to come back one last time, for one last thing: gathering information. No more betting. Nothing else. And now, he felt an urge to do something for that raptor.Β 

No. That was stupid. There was nothing he could do.Β 

But there was something he could do. He could take it to Esther Crane.Β 

Those people are there, he argued within himself. There’s no way they’re going to just walk away.Β 

A cacophony sounded from one of the fighting rings, and the group headed that way, leaving the poisoned animal completely unattended.

Now, the urge said.Β 



Looking around, Xavier couldn’t see anyone watching him. He took one step, then another, toward the cage. Still no one noticed. He grabbed the handle on top of the kennel, and heaved it toward the closest door. Peeking out, he saw no guards or police officers. He sprinted towards his car, put the crate and its illegal occupant into the back seat, covered it with the blanket he always kept in the trunk, and drove just under the speed limit toward the exotic animal drop point.Β 

It was something he'd heard about from Esther Crane, a veterinarian who worked for Dinosaur Conservation & Rescue League. He'd seen her at a museum, when he sat with his younger sister Maria to hear the special talks.

Esther had talked about the drop point that night. There were no security cameras trained on it. You didn’t have to worry about being arrested for illegal possession of an exotic.Β Until that talk, he hadn't known such a place existed. He'd also learned about the fact that DCRL broke up fight rings.

Halfway there, he pulled into a gas station, found some paper and a pen in the glove box, and scrawled This animal was fed rat poison. Then he searched for some way to attach it to the crate. He didn’t have tape, and he didn’t chew gum. He’d just have to hope jamming it under the carrying handle would be enough.Β Β 

At the drop point, he got the kennel out of the car as quickly as he could, and left.Β 

Almost done, Xavier told himself. I just have to write that report, and then I never have to think about any of it ever again.Β 

As soon as he got home, he found a spiral-bound notebook and pen and started writing. He knew his report on the fighting haven would definitely take more than one draft. He had some time before the graveyard shift at the gas station started.Β 

The unnamable urge suddenly flowed over him again.Β 

Go to the DCRL office.

No. That was ridiculous. He’d never been there before, only heard about it in Esther’s talk. He had no reason to go there. He had to finish this report and turn it in.Β 

Go to the DCRL office. Β 

Fine, Xavier thought. I’ll go.

When he walked through the doors, everything seemed normal, other than the lack of a receptionist.Β 

He turned around when he heard something heavy being dragged into the entryway. It was Esther Crane and two other people, struggling with a large dog crate.Β 

With a jolt, he saw what was inside: the raptor. The one he’d left at the drop point. Everyone was looking at him now. With an effort to remain calm, he asked β€œDo you need help?”

Esther smiled. β€œSome help would be great, but be careful. Someone surrendered a velociraptor."

As he lifted it once more, Xavier realized that the note wasn’t on the crate.Β 

A memory flashed in his mind: stuffing the note into his pocket as he got out of the car. He suddenly felt the crumpled paper pressing into his thigh.

"Do you think there's anything wrong with it?"

"It's pretty beat up, but I think it'll be fine."

She didn't know. Of course she had no way of knowingβ€”how would she ever guess the truth hidden in his pocket, that the animal had been fed rat poison? But there was no way he could tell her what he knew.

"Can you take it through that door and put it next to the exam table?"

Xavier jogged ahead of the others, getting into the room with Esther on his heels.

Tell her.

No way.


Telling her would reveal everything. All he'd hidden from his father, from his mother, from his siblings: that he wasn't good enough. That he couldn't take care of his family without doing dirty things, and walking the tightrope of hidden half-truths. That he really was a Judas.

But he had to tell her or watch this animal die. The knowledge weighed on him like wet cement.


She looked up. It was just the two of them in the room.

"That raptor was fed rat poison within the last hour or so."

Her eyes narrowed. "How do you know that?"

"I saw them do it."

November 12, 2022 04:53

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Creed .
19:28 Dec 07, 2022

Hey, could you check out my most recent post?


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Aeris Walker
02:58 Dec 04, 2022

Oo, I don’t think I’ve ever read a story with raptor fighting before. Clever idea and interesting setting! I wonder how the story might read if Xavier’s inner thoughts were italicized? It all still made perfect sense and read smoothly, that just might help set his thoughts apart a bit. :)


Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, Aeris. I’m glad you found this engaging. And thank you for your italics suggestion. I did try italicizing Xavier’s thoughts, but decided not to because of the one line in which the urge is written in italics. I would have had to rewrite other things. If you’re interested in more like this, with dinosaurs in the modern world, this is the sequel to my earlier story What Price Judas Pays for His Silver. That one also involves raptor fighting in this setting.


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Tommy Goround
15:56 Nov 12, 2022

Good flow. Immersive


Tommy Goround
09:10 Dec 11, 2022

(I can't read your last name with the special type) Cool Bio. It reeks of beauty and love and faith.


I now have my name in a regular font at the top of my bio. Please excuse my ignorance, but will you please tell me what β€œLodi” means?


Tommy Goround
17:42 Jan 25, 2023

Lodi is a magical place in Northern California. It was named after the city in New Jersey that took their name from some Greek situation. In Lodi you can still be put to death for capital crimes but in New Jersey you cannot. A&w Root beer was invented in Lodi. It has a major university called lodi-shire where they teach people to be vintners. They prefer old growth vines that you can cut down and turn into table tops. Machines are never used to harvest their grapes. You can jump out of a plane in life for $100. The parachutes are about 82 ...


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Critiques are greatly appreciated. This story has now been approved, but I still welcome critiques. This is a sequel to my story What Price Judas Pays for His Silver. More stories that involve dinosaurs in our modern world are Tour Guide, New Arrival, and Nomenclature.


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