Jeanette Ransom was an uncommonly smart young girl. Terence Ransom, her father, said so, and he should know, being an uncommonly smart sort of guy. She was also cute--not sufficiently so in her own estimation, but plenty so in her father’s.


It was a Saturday, and Saturdays were special even if Terence and Jeanette didn’t know quite what to do with this one. There was some removal of the week’s bad housekeeping decisions, mainly of the ‘it can wait’ variety. There was some dinner planning, which involved prolonged staring into the refrigerator, and narrative planning, which involved long staring at the bookshelves, without any definite conclusions being made. They had an agreed-upon early lunch, and were still unsure of how to waste the rest of the day together, when the doorbell rang.


Jeanette never slept in Dad’s bed, but she did so now. She may have done so before she could remember, but she had never ever shuffled her Pikachu onesie feet to the side of the bed and asked to be let in.


They survived the night, and around an early breakfast time, Jeanette was picking at a bowl of granola and stomping around in her big rain boots. They were meant to be worn over shoes (or other boots), and she was only in her socks, but she liked the loose loud impacts she made on the floor.


The monster was a little bigger than her, shorter than her father, round and hairy with a big nose. It had big teeth, but they weren’t fangs. Big dark eyes, and no tentacles or drippy things.


The monster clicked the remote, sat back and sighed a sigh that reduced his bulk by about twenty percent. “Well that was a disappointment. No cartoons about amiable bumbling capybaras making embarrassing decisions or trying to fix leaky faucets. None, I would say, of any kind.”


“Come along with you?” Said Terence. “I take it back: you’re completely mad. One: I am not, repeat not, what you think I am; Two: Even if I were, what possible use could I be on a journey like this; and Three: what in this world or any other could I do against your Exile or anything else out there?”


Terence opened the door.

“Dr. Ransom?”


“I’m glad you called us. The City Council passed an anti-rat ordinance last year, mandating a coordinated program co-ordinated by the municipal government. You may be instructed to hire a private firm to do the disposal, but for now, do we have your permission to do some investigating?”

“Of course. Come right in.”

“Thank you, sir.”


They were racing along a broad but cracked highway through a red desert. There were heaps of crushed concrete and twisted steel stretching out endlessly. They were rapidly approaching something like a city: bunched-together towering glass buildings, but half the glass was broken, and above a certain level, only steel skeletons reached up into the burning sky.

Jeanette was shouting “UNDO! CAN’T WE UNDO THIS THING? WHAT DO I DO TO UNDO?” She was splaying her fingers over the GPS touch screen.



The pteranodons were circling overhead. They were mottled black and red, and had long fangs at the back of their long mouths.

“Vampire pteranodons. That’s new,” Terence said.

The pile of stone and steel they were crouched behind offered nearly no protection from above.

“We have to attack!” Shouted the capybara.

“How? With what?” Terence’s voice cracked.

“You can do it! You have the gloves! Reach up and behind you!”

“What?” Terence nearly screamed.