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The metallic hit of a baseball bat against a baseball sent a shiver down Kyane’s spine. The ball arced up and deep into the outfield. Kyane lost it in the orange glow of the setting sun. The pitcher threw another ball, Harry, Desmond’s teammate, knocked it out of the park. “Good hit, man,” Desmond said. He stood by the bleachers near Kyane and Jamie. He swung his weighted bat to warm up. Kyane couldn’t look away from his muscles when he swung away, but she tried her best. Especially when he looked at her.
“Was that a good hit?” Jamie asked. He had his laptop out with the claw he and Desmond picked up the night before in the same plastic bag.
“Yeah, it’s pretty good,” Kyane said.
“He’s the second-best,” Desmond said. “With me being the best of course.”
“Yeah, sure,” Kyane said. She stuffed her hands in her leather jacket pockets. It was spring, but early spring so nights got cold, and Kyane was oddly chilled. She turned to Jamie. “So, tell me again what you found and happened to you.”
“If you read your texts you’d have known,” Desmond remarked. He knocked the dirt out of his cleats.
“I told you: grounded. That means the phone is taken away!” She felt her phone weighing her left jacket pocket down. She’s glad he didn’t notice. Kyane did not look away from Jamie, she just pointed her finger at Desmond. “So, please, tell me what happened.”
“Well,” Jamie began. He then went into an overly detailed explanation of him coming early, doing some preliminary investigation work, Desmond coming, getting her a frozen coffee, waiting for her to arrive, then finding the nail and the creature who lost it. The creature then tried to attack them, but they were saved by some robot superhero.
“Right,” Kyane said. She turned to Desmond. “Is this true?” The sun dipped below the horizon. The stadium lights clicked on.
“He dropped a truth bomb,” Desmond said. “It is wild, I know, but it is the truth I swear.” He held his hand up. His coach called him over to hit next. “Gotta go homies. Wait up though so we can go over what to write.” He jogged up to the plate. The pitcher hurled a ball at him. He knocked it down the foul line, and out of the park.
Desmond stepped up to the plate, took a couple extra swings before the pitcher threw him a fastball. Desmond knocked it out of bounds. “How’s it going with them?” Harry asked. He was leaning along the visiting dugout.
“They’re pretty cool.” Desmond hit another one down the line.
“Pretty and cool?”
“Yes, I mean no, but like yes. At least for one of them. Jamie’s like a good dude too. We vibe.”
“That should be what you and Kyane are doing.”
“I’m working on it.”
“I can see that.” Harry looked over and waved at the two onlookers. “You should be working on that swing though. You’re way off.”
“Yeah, but I like them,” Desmond said. He hit a ball out of the park. He heard it against flesh. They looked at the horizon and froze.
“I hate his smug face,” Kyane mumbled. Kyane picked up the bagged claw. “Do you mind?”
“N-n-no,” Jamie said. He slid it across his keyboard to her. She picked it up and examined the claw. “I tried to look up what kind of claw it was, and how it could pierce brickwork.”
“No idea,” Kyane said half-listening. She could tell it was the same claws Dieous’s armor was able to block last night. If it could break through brickwork, then whatever Dieous was made up of must have been way stronger. But she had the evidence, now it was time to move on to the next step. “Can I take this home tonight?”
“Wh-why?” Jamie said. “We need it for our extra credit.”
“You’ll get it back tomorrow, don’t worry.” She pocketed the claw. “My parents are scientists for, like, a living. You know? Maybe they could figure out what this thing is, or what creature it came from.”
“I mean we kind of know the creature,” Jamie said. He typed on his keyboard. He turned it to Kyane. “I said it was a dinosaur-like creature, so I looked up the face I remembered and got that it was a velociraptor. Only it was much bigger and could speak. It is too weird. Right? Then, I’m not supposed to tell you this, but a superhero named Dieous showed up and saved us. Weird and like something out of a movie or a show, but it totally happened.”
“Yeah, yeah, totally,” Kyane said with fainting interest. “Anyway, what should we write?” Kyane realized that she hadn’t heard the whacking of baseballs against bats for a minute or two, or Desmond’s voice. Until…
“Ah, guys!” Desmond called from across the field. Kyane and Jamie stood up. Even from across the field they heard the all too familiar, and oddly ominous clicks of the raptor claws against concrete.
Outside of the practice stadium the 10 raptors with Eorapst in front marched toward the group of huddled players. Their clicking feet marched in unison, a full fighting force. Three of the players, including Desmond, raised their bats to face the raptor monsters. Kyane wanted to yell, but she couldn’t blow her cover. Three of the raptors took off ahead, leaped over to the fence, and swung their claws down. Two of the players got hit and fell onto the clay. Desmond blocked two of the swipes. Sparks rained off the bat as the aluminum met claw. Desmond pushed back and swung again. He knocked his raptor in the arm. The raptor fell onto the grass. Desmond marched over to finish, one of the other raptors darted over and rammed Desmond in the back. Desmond fell to the ground.
“We gotta get outta here,” Kyane said. She stood up, grabbed Jamie by the hand. Jamie shut his laptop and they ran to the edge of the bleachers. Their feet made thonking sounds on the metal chairs. They jumped to the ground and took off.
“Wait… I… Can’t… Run…” Jamie wheezed out.
Kyane swiveled her head back. “We don’t hav-.” It was in that second, she heard it, two sets of raptor claws click in front of her. She swiveled her head back. Two raptor creatures stood in front of her. She knew she had to fight them, get back to her house, get Dieous, come back, and fight off these other guys. It was her fault. She felt it in her stomach. If she hadn’t let him go, or maybe didn’t do as much, or maybe… Wait, she didn’t have time for thinking.
Kyane let go of Jamie’s hand and jabbed her right fist at the raptor. She saw it in slow motion. The raptor curled his tail around his body, wrapped it around her wrist, then tore it away from him. A stinging pain ran up her body. She then saw her vision flip and felt a slam onto her back. Her lungs felt like they were just popped.
Jamie was holding his laptop in both hands. He raised the laptop and arms high. “I give up, please don’t hurt me.” The two raptors cocked their heads at each other. They pointed to the center of the field. Jamie walked over to the pitcher’s mound with his hands still way above his head. The raptor with Kyane’s hand around his tail, and three other raptors dragged the knocked-out players to the pitcher’s mound. The rest of the couch’s and players followed Jamie’s lead and walked over willingly.
Eorapst walked to the diamond. He pointed to the home-team dugout. “Place the four prisoners in there for now. We’ll get to them later.”
The raptors dragged them over. Kyane put her free hand in her pocket. She felt around for the unlock button and clicked it. She searched for the message button. Her parents were the last people she messaged. She knew she only had a limited amount of time to get a message to them as soon as possible. She tapped out the letters “DN” without looking and sent it. She had messaged and typed on her phone enough to be able to do it without needing to see it. She hoped that her parents could figure out what she meant and come over to help her get out of this situation.
The raptor released Kyane from his grip with a whip of his tail. She was tossed onto the ground of the dugout. The floor consisted of gum, gum wrappers, used water bottles, old granola bars, and a used condom wrapper. Kyane felt sick. She braced herself with both hands and tried to stand. She felt the same sting in her arm again. It shook, and she fell to the ground again. She crawled to the wall and used it to stand and see the 12 raptors force the players, couches, and Jamie into a circle around the pitching mound.