Gabriella Balcom

Gabriella Balcom lives in Texas with her family, works full-time in the mental health field, and has loved reading and writing her entire life. She writes fantasy, horror, sci-fi, romance, literary fiction, children’s stories, and more, and loves great stories, forests, mountains, and back roads. She has a weakness for lasagna, garlic bread, tacos, cheese, and chocolate, and adores Chinese, Italian, and Mexican food. Gabriella has had 375 works accepted for publication, and won the right to have a novel published by Clarendon House Publications when one of her short stories was voted best in an anthology. Her book, On the Wings of Ideas, came out afterward. She was nominated for the Washington Science Fiction Association’s Small Press Award, and won second place in JayZoMon/Dark Myth Company’s 2020 Open Contract Challenge (around one hundred authors competed for cash prizes and publishing contracts). Gabriella’s novelette, Worth Waiting For, was then released. She self-published a novelette, Free’s Tale: No Home at Christmas-time, and Black Hare Press published her sci-fi novella, The Return, in 2021. Dark Myth Publishing released her Down with the Sickness and Other Chilling Tales in November 2022. Others pend publication. This is her Facebook author page:

Who Comes Up with this Idiotic Stuff?

“You’ve got to be kidding.” Charisse scowled at the movie poster. “When you talked about a show, I thought you meant something good. Not this lame thing.”

“It isn’t lame,” Kurt protested.

“No, it’s ten times worse. Who comes up with this idiotic stuff anyway?” She read aloud from the poster, “‘The true master of land and sky… Pterogator is guaranteed to give you chills and thrills…’  Pterogator? I mean — really.” She snorted. “What is that supposed to be — some mutated kind of alligator?”

“I’ve seen the previews, but I’m not going to spoil the surprise for you. You can wait and find out.”

“Nothing you say could spoil it, because I have no intention of seeing the stupid thing. I’m outta here.”

“Come on, Honey,” Kurt cajoled. “Don’t leave. Give the movie a chance. It’ll be great. You’ll see.” He entwined his fingers through hers, tugging on her as he took a step toward the entrance.

“Quit it!” Charisse jerked her hand away, crossed her arms, and glared at him.

Please? I’ve been dying to see this since I saw the first preview. But I don’t want to by myself. I want my sweetheart here with me.”

She studied him, rolled her eyes when he whined like a mournful puppy, and finally sighed. “Oh, all right.”

“Sweetie, you’re the best! The most wonderful girlfriend ever. You’re…”

“Uh-huh,” she said, interrupting him. “You owe me big-time.”

“Agreed. I’ll do whatever you want. Go wherever you want. And, I won’t argue about it.”

“Let’s see if you sing the same tune next week. The theme for my class is ballet, and I want you to visit us wearing a tutu.”

He grimaced as if he’d tasted something nasty, then chuckled. “You’re just teasing me.”

Charisse shook her head. “No, I’m not.”

After pursing his lips, Kurt shrugged. “Ah, sure. You’re always supportive of me. I guess I can handle kids pointing at me and laughing. And I assume you want me in pink, huh?”

She giggled. “Not a bad idea, but no, it doesn’t have to be pink.”

“Thank goodness.”

They hugged, exchanging a kiss before entering the theater.

Thirty minutes later, he muttered, “Man, it’s smart! Imagine having that as a pet.”

Scientists in the movie had discovered a partial skeleton encased in amber, learning it was a pterodactyl after extracting DNA. They’d combined some with alligator DNA, and eventually managed to hatch a specimen. The small dinosaur had grown, though slower than expected, and stood around three feet high and four long. It caught onto things quickly.

“You know this is just a movie, right?” Charisse asked. “Make-believe.”


“Don’t ‘shhh’ me. I…”

Kurt gasped. “It’s missing,” he hissed, voice ringing with urgency, and he leaned forward in his seat. “Somehow it got out of its enclosure.”

Stop talking!” a man two rows down snapped, turning around to glare at them.

People ran this way and that on the screen, searching their compound, and going outside to search there. One went a different way than the rest, saw bushes growing by an outer wall, and discovered a hole underneath them. He got down on his hands and knees to examine it.

The woman seated to Charisse’s right stood, grasping the hand of the young boy behind her. “Excuse me,” she whispered, “My son and I need to get by.”

They squeezed by Charisse’s knees, going left, and the kid swayed, almost falling backward. She reached out to steady him, after which he kept walking.

Ow,” Kurt exclaimed only seconds later. “That was my foot.”

“Sorry.” The mother shot him an apologetic look. She and her son continued past the other people, reached the aisle, and vanished.

In the show, something appeared in the air a distance away from the kneeling man, and members of the audience gasped, including Charisse.

The unknown thing grew larger as it approached, landing maybe a hundred feet behind the scientist. It had the head, neck, and wings of a pterodactyl along with the long, pointed beak, but an alligator’s body and feet. Standing at least thirty feet tall with a wingspan of twenty-five feet, it bore a strong resemblance to the missing specimen from the lab, other than being much larger.

After pulling a pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket, the man by the bush stood and lit one. He turned, caught sight of the creature, and his eyes widened. He opened his mouth but only a squeak escaped. The pterogator surged forward, closing the distance between them in a flash, and impaled his chest with its beak.

Sounds of shock and surprise swept the audience, and everyone watched the dinosaur toss the man aside as if he were nothing. It uttered a low, gutteral coughing-barking sound.

Dense shrubbery several feet away shook, and the small dinosaur crawled out, scampering over to the larger one.

The movie flashed to the other researchers who were elsewhere, unaware anything had occurred, before focusing on the motionless, bleeding man again. Then the focus switched to the sky.

More pterogators soared toward the two on the ground, landed by them, and ripped the man’s body apart, eating it within seconds. Two of the predators sniffed the soil where the pooled blood had been, and began to scratch the ground with their front claws.

“They’re even smarter than the baby,” Kurt murmured. “I think they’re hiding all traces of the blood… Those things weren’t grown in a lab either.”

Charisse admitted, “This is more interesting than I thought it’d be.”

The mother and son who’d left returned as the dinosaurs moved closer together, making more  coughing-barking noises.

“Move your feet way back so that kid can’t tromp on them,” Kurt whispered in Charisse’s ear. “He’s sorta clumsy.”

Almost as if in response, the boy stumbled a few seats to their left, fell, and bumped his head on something. Blood trickled from a gash on his forehead when he stood, and his mother hurried him to his seat. There, she rummaged in her purse, pulling out a band-aid.

A pterogator extended its wings and flew straight toward the audience. It veered at the last moment, vanishing from sight. Others launched themselves into the air, too.

But one whipped its head to the left, right, then turned slowly to face the movie-goers, almost seeming to stare at them. Narrowing its eyes, it sniffed audibly, eyes intense, and uttered a rough, grinding cry. The other dinosaurs returned immediately, settling beside it. They all faced the watching people, and murmurs spread through the theater.

“If I didn’t know better,” Charisse whispered, “I’d think they could see us.”

“Or smell us,” Kurt replied, “Or that boy’s blood.”

Uttering a grinding cry, a pterogator lunged forward, claws extended, and tore the movie screen in half. Then it stuck its head into the theater.

People screamed and squealed. Some gaped or sat in stunned silence. A few leaped to their feet, trying to to flee, pushing and shoving others aside.

Charisse stared open-mouthed at the creature that shouldn’t have existed, much less been there in the theater. She started to rise, but Kurt grabbed her and pushed her to the floor.

“Stay down, where they can’t see you,” he cautioned.

They peeked through cracks between seats and watched a dinosaur grab a woman in its beak, biting her in half. More creatures crawled from the screen. One flew toward a man who was running, impaling him through his back. It bit off its victim’s head and ate it, while another started on the body. Others devoured people right and left.

When everyone who’d tried to run was dead, the predators looked around, sniffing.


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