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191. Owen Grady 15

~
“Hello?”
“Oh, dear God, you’re there!” a man almost shouted into the receiver.
“Dad? Where did you get my work number?” woman’s voice on the end of the line sounded weary, although it was becoming alert again.
“None of your business, missy. You forgot to call me – again.”
“Shit,” she muttered. “I’m so sorry, dad, but there’s been a bunch of work lately. The last storm got a little bit nasty, and although this place is still a mess, none of the animals got out – if that’s what you’re afraid of.”
He sighed in relief. After watching the news, he was impatiently checking his cell every five minutes or so –
“Hey, I know you don’t approve of me staying here –”
“The hell I don’t approve, Ann Karen Malcolm. The hell I don’t.”
He called her that only when he was seriously pissed off – and because it went the same way every single call for the last two years, she had heard hell full name often. Actually, the last time was six months ago when they had to transport her to the mainland hospital because of acute appendicitis. She went back to work after the surgery instead of taking some time to fully recover.
“Please, dad, I’ll be fine, I promise,” she whispered.
The man sighed again. “I hope you’re right.” Then he hung up.
Dr Ian Malcolm loved his children unconditionally, even though he divided most of his life between science and divorce courts. He supported both of his daughters; but Ann had been a rebel of sorts since the beginning. He told her stories from both Isla Nublar and Isla Sorna on almost daily basis, however, she graduated from zoology – which Ian was proud of; he didn’t agree with her quitting school before Ph.D., though. His blood froze the day his little girl came to him with a letter of acceptance to the Jurassic World –
All of his memories came up again. Later, when Masrani Corp. invited him to visit the newly open theme park, he turned the invitation down; even the last one, when Ann already worked there.
As a T-rex keeper.
- - -
“Ann? Is everything alright?” Claire Dearing, the park manager, came to her – at least her reflection appeared on five-layered bulletproof window facing the enclosure. She had to tug on her sleeve eventually to gain Ann’s attention.
“What? – Yeah, I think so,” but she didn’t sound convincing.
Claire wasn’t stupid. She knew that this would be the closest she could get to the famous chaotician – through his own daughter. Yet it wasn’t the reason she gave her job; that would be ridiculous. “Did your father call you again?” she asked a moment later.
“Same old story, nothing to bother with, really,” Ann shrugged.
A low rumbling echoed through the plexiglass. It was approaching the view station, and both women fell silent for a while. Maybe Claire held her breath, too.
“Sometimes, she comes here in the evening, you know; but I haven’t figured why yet.”
Eight tons of dinosaur mass appeared, still approaching them.
“She’s hungry maybe?” Claire suggested.
“That’s not it. She’s being fed regularly every two hours. Even tigers feed only once in three days…”
“But those are small rations, sure? Just to attract her to visitors.”
“Actually, she eats a lot. She’s gained weight since I first saw her,” Ann admitted. “Almost a ton and half since they recaptured her when InGen started building a new park.” She paused before saying: “She may search for the little one – we had to take it away before she tried to kill it. I told them that it was bad idea; that she immediately knew it wasn’t hers.”
T-rex was searching the ground, sniffing occasionally; her yellowish eye suddenly in front of Claire. “Can she see us?”
“I don’t know, I can’t say for sure.”
But the animal lost interest in whatever it was looking for, and went away, hitting the window with its tail. Claire expected the window to break, but nothing happened. There was not a single crack in it. “Unbelievable,” she breathed out at last.
“You know, one man once told me that Rexes are vicious animals. That they are solitary hunters, despite Sara Harding wrote a couple of papers on their ethology, although based on the only visit of the second island… They may live a solitary life, but they are not least bit ‘stupid overgrown lizards’ as someone may think. Rexy is intelligent. See? She started destroying the vegetation here again. I think she’s bored. But she’s one hell of a creature to do proper training with as Mr Grady does to his raptor pack – simply because she’s Alpha of her own.”
“There was no process of imprinting you when this one hatched.”
“Well, she’s older than me, that would be practically impossible,” Ann Malcolm chuckled. “However, I’m trying some basics with the young one – to ease her regular veterinary check-ups.”
“Any progress so far?”
“We’ll see, but personally, I don’t give it a chance. It tried to bite me, and now it’s as big as motorcycle.”
“We should cancel the training programme before someone gets hurt.”
“Try to explain that to InGen. But I’d like to discuss a bit different topic with you before I have to go; even though I probably shouldn’t talk about this with you.”
Now it was Claire’s time to shrug. “Please, continue,” she muttered.
“It may sound ridiculous, but I think Rexy is languishing here. We should keep her mind busy, you know – she had been roaming free for twenty years or so. And now she’s in paddock again, being fed with goats without need of catching the prey first. I mean, she needs game, Claire. Not the tiny pink piglets that raptors get, it must be bigger.”
“We could let the goats in without being chained,” the manager suggested at first, but she immediately regretted her words when she saw Ann’s face. It had to be a stupid idea.
“I’d say that young Parasaurolophus would be better prey, but we don’t want to invest millions of dollars into Rexy’s well-being, do we? They don’t allow the animals to reproduce freely, they control them; so every single one is an investment. I’m sorry for saying this – because I don’t fully understand the bureaucracy behind this megalomania – but we probably need more sponsors for the T-rex kingdom attraction.”
“Even if the corporation allowed raising funds for this, I must say that InGen will be strictly against it. Not a single dinosaur is being on dino diet in this park. And people want to see something new so the attendance won’t fall down; hence the funds flow the other way.”
“I get it,” Ann said more audibly. “But please, keep in mind, that if we don’t do something about it, she’ll start with destroying the paddock walls instead of plants inside them.” With that, she rose from the bench and went to the exit, leaving somehow stunned Claire in front of empty and darkening view outside.
- - -
It was always a pissing contest between the keepers; that much she was reminded of every day when they had briefings in conference room. Today would definitely be not different – not when Owen Grady stepped over the threshold. It was a general knowledge that Malcolm and Grady were competing with each other harder than other staff members. Was it because they were in charge of two apex predators present in the park? Or was it over money? Although the raptor enclosure was yet to be open to visitors, there still remained donations in question.
However, they weren’t such rivals for long. According to usual gossip, the tension between the two was triggered just after Grady invited the T-rex keeper out. Rumours had it they'd had a terrible argument somewhere in the start –
“Am I amusing you, Mr Grady?” their boss stopped midsentence during his usual presentation when he saw Owen’s attention drifting.
“No, sir.”
“Fine then. We’ve got a lot to do today. So… as I said earlier, Stevens and Wilkins, you’re in charge of finishing the cleaning of Mosasaurus aquarium. Jones, is Aviary done?”
“We’ve secured the major problems by now, sir. But we need more hands.”
“You’ll have them. What about Triceratops territory and Gallimimus valley?”
“Cleaned up. The veterinary unit is checking the last few animals that remained to be recaptured after the storm frightened them,” someone replied.
“The same is with Cretaceous cruise, only the eldest Baryonyx had to be attended to,” another person added.
The manager was regarding every person in the room. His eyes were travelling from one face to another, until they stopped on the only female carnivore keeper.
“We’re finishing repairs in T-rex paddock.”
“Good to hear, Malcolm. You and Grady remain in charge of both predator paddocks, so help each other.”
“Aye, sir, no problem,” Ann replied politely while giving a steady glare to Owen sitting just opposite.
“Hey, I don’t want to hear about any problems with carrying out my orders, Malcolm. Forget about your personal disputes for a minute and cooperate, that’s all I want.”
“We’ll manage not to kill each other in the process,” Owen Grady interrupted, rising from his chair.
- - -
“You’ve heard him, babe. Keep your claws off, would you?” he later whispered into her ear when they met in the corridor.
“I’m not responsible for your lack of sex life here, fucker,” Ann replied sweetly. That man had an incredible ego, she had to admit. Yet his natural dominance didn’t meet a submission in her personality – maybe which exactly was the core of their fight that occurred during her first – and last so far – visit in his bungalow.
“Speak for yourself, sweetie,” he chuckled, giving her his typical smirk.
“Oh, don’t count on that.”

- - -
“No shit, man,” Barry whistled when Owen returned to the raptor enclosure with news after the morning briefing. “You and that Malcolm girl? That’s going to be like –”
“Catastrophe?” he offered.
“You should’ve fucked her when you got the chance, there wouldn’t be so much of sexual tension between you two,” his fellow patted him on the back, laughing his ass off when he saw Owen’s almost painful expression.
“That’s not true!” Grady shot back for his own defence.
“Oh yes, it is,” the black man opposed. “And you know what? I like her. One must have balls to work with T-rex. And that girl? She definitely does have balls for that. She’s courageous. Her father is something like a legend –”
His friend interrupted him. “Everybody’s heard that story by now, Barry. That Dr Malcolm survived T-rex attack doesn’t mean his daughter has the right to act as an asshole.”
“She said the same about you, man – except for the father part.”
“What the hell?!’
“Dear Owen, I’m kidding!”
Owen glared at him. The urge to strangle his best friend was bordering with irresistibility. There was dark cloud of anger in his expression.
“You’re the Alpha of your pack, of course,” Barry just couldn’t stop laughing.
- - -
Too soon another storm came in the direction of Isla Nublar, although it was supposed not to be as strong as the previous one, the tropical storm named Jane. Maybe this one, Kirsten, would never reach the coast of Costa Rica due to her softness. Most of the animals were still recovering from the previous whimsy weather, and yet they were driven into shelters again.
Ann did as she was told. After securing the T-rex paddock, she drove to raptor enclosure to offer help.
Grady didn’t do what she expected from him; he didn’t reject her. Instead, she was given a whole bag of frozen rats – which were supposed to be treats for raptors – and they instructed her to lure the four animals into shelter. That was not easy; and the estimated intelligence level of velociraptors didn’t make it any easier. Besides, Blue, Charlie, Delta and Echo decided to be uncooperative today. And every unsuccessful attempt meant trouble for humans balancing above the enclosure. Furthermore, somewhere halfway through the job, first raindrops became pouring from the darkened sky, occasionally accompanied by growling of thunder.
Then, something happened.
The bag was almost empty, and only disobedient Echo remained outside in the paddock, when Ann’s radio buzzed. She immediately handed the rats to Barry standing next to her, taking the radio instead.
“This is Malcolm,” she shouted into the receiver to make herself heard over the now heavy rain.
“Hey, we’ve a problem ‘ere!” It was her assistant George. His voice was cracking with static electricity as he spoke again. “Tried to call ya six times already, where’s yer phone?”
“Dunno. What’s the problem?”
“The lil’ one. Gone berserk.”
She would swear her heart skipped a beat. Shit. “I’m on my way there, hold on!” she barked at last, hurrying to the ground level and straight to her quad-bike.
“Hey!” a man whistled behind her, and Ann stopped just to let him reach her. “You leaving unfinished job behind?” his tone was partly mocking.
“Bullshit, Grady!”
He watched her as she was fishing for the keys before he asked what was happening.
“I’ve just got the call that the young rex is raging. It could harm itself,” she breathed out. And she added: “Don’t worry, I can handle it.”
“Handle it, my ass,” Owen hissed, taking the keys from her hands. He mounted her vehicle, commanding her to get on, too.
Oh, how she hated the cocky bastard; but she held tightly to him nonetheless, setting their personal dispute aside for a while. Yes, there had been moments when she could not be able to resist his charms, but those were long gone – at least she thought so.
- - -
“Have you found her yet?” Ann took the steps by two to get upstairs into control faster. Now she needed to catch her breath.
“According to the signal, she’s wandering near the paddock borders,” the technician pointed at the red dot on display.
“Her heartbeat increases, so does her body temperature,” Ann hissed after quick check of dinosaur’s monitored life functions and infrared scans of quarantined enclosure. “At this rate, she’s going into shock in ten minutes maximum. Can she be injured?”
“Rather frightened,” Owen said. “Did this happen before?”
“Like during the previous storm?” the technician asked. “No way, she was with the other one –”
“Fuck!” Ann’s shout interrupted the two of them. “She’s running into the wall. She’ll kill herself!” She picked up her radio. “George?”
“Ma’am?”
“Bring me the gun. We have to sedate her,” she commanded.
“What? Are you crazy? You can’t go in there! I won’t let you!” Owen grabbed her arm in attempt to stop her from foolishness.
“Yes, you will, I’m not your brat. I won’t get fired by Masrani. And I won’t let the ACU to kill it.”
“It’ll be you who gets killed,” he protested.
Instead of giving him an immediate answer, she broke free from his grip, and stormed out of the room. It was just downstairs, when she was finally holding the tranquillizer gun; that she muttered just for him to hear: “You know, I wouldn’t mind killing it; but who would pay twenty million dollars back to InGen?”
Something dawned on Owen. “You signed that crap?” he asked at last.
“All keepers did. Unless they accepted the special offer; like you, for example. You are part of experimental training programme that’s partly financed by US Navy.” Ann frowned at him. “Hopefully, herbivores are somewhat easier to maintain, really. You don’t have to shoot them at sight in most cases, so their keepers don’t have nothing to fear. But carnivores? Those are extra case.”
“Wait, I’ve thought, that when you’re Malcolm’s –”
“That would be favouritism, wouldn’t it?” she smirked.
After the safety doors opened, it later went all blur in Ann’s memory. One minute the obviously disoriented T-rex threw itself against the windows of lower observatory station, the next it turned against new smell, even though it didn’t register its source yet. There was a badly looking laceration on its head, bleeding ceaselessly. Head wounds were always the worst; also the animal’s disorientation could be consequence of concussion.
Three people went into the enclosure, backed-up by the security with tasers; but only two got out without a scratch.
“Coming your way, Malcolm,” technician sent through the radio from safe place in control room.
“Copy that.”
The soil under their feet got muddy due to persistent rain. It suddenly became hard to aim at moving target. Maybe Ann didn’t pay attention enough to rapidly worsening ground condition, because next thing she remembered was slipping on the mud – which attracted the dinosaur. T-rex finally saw her, although he’d had to smell her earlier.
A single fire was heard.
Next thing there were teeth next to her bloodstained leg. Fortunately, T-rex whose jaws landed just inches – or did he land directly on her? – from her was motionless. And a dart with sedative cartridge stuck in massive skin on its neck.
“MALCOLM!” The radio lying aside went crazy a hundredth time or so.
“Yes?” she breathed out.
“YOU ‘KAY?!”
“Asset secured,” was all she could say before pain shot through her body.
- - -
“Hey, darling.”
“Oh, no,” Ann let out a breath. “Last time I heard that, they rejected my dissertation.”
“’Hi, dad. I’m so sorry I haven’t listened to you. How are you?’ ‘I’m fine, thanks. And you’re right, I should have spanked your ass when you were little, kiddo.’ ‘I know, dad, I’m sorry.’” Ian Malcolm imitated a dialogue before adding under his voice, “I, um, hate that I’m always right.”
“What are you doing in Costa Rica?” the woman lying on hospital bed was eyeing him suspiciously, while he slowly moved from door to her. “I thought you cannot interrupt your lecture tour…”
“Family is more, um, important,” Ian whispered to her ear, leaning over her bunk to kiss her forehead. “How are you feeling?”
“Better with painkillers, but I’ll manage to survive, dad.”
He finally found a chair to sit on. “So, while it’s your leg, too, there’s some coincidence, isn’t it?” Despite the reality, there was something almost funny about it.
“Tibia – complicated fracture, actually.”
“Lucky girl.”
“I suppose… And that was only four-week-old one.”
Ian Malcolm wanted to remind her of ‘Haven’t I told you that evolution separated dinosaur and man by sixty-five-million-year gap for a reason?’ but he knew she had heard it from him on multiple occasions throughout her childhood. Yet he didn’t want to ask her the burning question: “Are you coming back?”
“Of course I am, father,” she answered after a moment. “I’d like to finish my Ph.D.”

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