Date Completed: December 23, 2018
Synopsis: A young parasaurolophus makes a discovery that will doom his world.
Given my love for apocalyptic sci-fi and my love for dinosaurs, a story combining the two was an inevitability. This was mostly inspired by a short film I saw a couple years back. It was a very simple depiction of a “grey goo” apocalypse, but it stuck with me. And, since the exact cause of dinosaur extinction is still up in the air, the gears started turning: what if the dinosaurs were killed in a “grey goo” scenario?There are probably some scientific inaccuracies. This was intended as
a creative writing exercise first and an accurate depiction of
prehistoric life second.
Trigger Warnings: animal death, destruction of Earth
65000000BCE; North America
The midday sun beats down on a perfectly average Cretaceous day. The temperature is a balmy 87º, and the skies are clear of clouds. A river lazily meanders its way across a thickly-forested valley, the trees occasionally interrupted by patches of open meadow. The thundering footsteps of a herd of sauropods can be heard in the far distance.
Along the bank of the river, a small family group of parasaurolophus are foraging. The hadrosaurs dip their snouts into the muddy stream, and raise them with beaks full of water plants. Though parasaurolophus usually browse on tough woody twigs, they sometimes indulge themselves on the softer, sweeter foliage surrounding the river. As an older female keeps a watchful eye on the tree-line, the rest of the herd seems content to ignore their surroundings as they gorge on the soft reeds.
Except for one. A teenage male has wandered away from the safety of the group and ventured deeper into the forest. He has grown bored with the lengthy meal and decided to go exploring by himself. He moves cautiously through the trees, watching every shadow with fear, anticipating a t-rex waiting to jump out at any second. However, he encounters no predators on his walk.
What he finds is so much worse.
After a few minutes, the parasaurolophus reaches a clearing. The first thing he notices is the noise level. He can still hear the sounds of the forest, but the clearing itself is almost completely silent. There are no birds, no pterosaurs, no other dinosaurs in the area. Were it not for the low carpet of ferns and grasses, there are no living things of any sort.
The second thing the young dinosaur notices is a mysterious puddle in the exact center of the clearing. Warily, he approaches the puddle. It is unlike anything he has ever seen. It looks almost like water, but it is a deep black color, and its surface is oddly shiny—the parasaurolophus can see his own perfect reflection in its surface. And it looks as though it is getting larger as he watches. Gingerly, he leans in and sniffs the mysterious substance. He does not recognize the scent. In a final attempt to identify the substance, he reaches out one of his forelimbs and touches the puddle.
Immediately, the “waters” of the puddle shoot up and engulf his arm. The black liquid flows upwards at an astonishing speed. He pulls back in shock, but it is too late. The black substance is covering his front leg up to the elbow, and is still spreading. To his absolute horror, the parasaurolophus watches as his arm dissolves, the black fluid sloughing off of his body to join the growing puddle on the ground. As the substance continues to cover his entire body, the dying hadrosaur gives off a last mournful howl before completely melting into a pool of black.
The puddle was a swarm of self-replicating nano-machines. Where they came from or how they got there was unknown—all that mattered was their mission. They were programmed to do one thing, and one thing only: make more of themselves. Every molecule of organic matter that they came into contact with was rearranged and repurposed into another machine, thus growing the swarm and spreading the infection. Up until now, they had spread slowly, consuming things like dirt and insects, whose small size limited the rate of replication. But, they had just eaten a 900 pound hadrosaur.
2 hours later, the swarm had completely consumed everything within two miles of its landing point.
After 12 hours, everything within one hundred miles.
36, all of North America.
72 hours after their initial discovery, the nano-machines had consumed every particle of organic matter on the planet Earth.