The following is a story sketch I wrote for my daughter who loves dinosaurs. In the end, I felt that the story was too long and perhaps a little too dark for a four-year-old, but it was good story practice and good fun to write. I hope you get a kick out of it.
This is the story of why T-Rex’s arms were so short, and how he became the fearsome king of the dinosaurs.
A long time ago, before all the dinosaurs feared him, T-Rex was playing a new game called hide-and-seek with his good friends — Pterodactyl, Triceratops, and Brachiosaurus — and becoming more and more bored with it every minute.
“We’ve been playing this game for hours,” said T-Rex. “Isn’t there something else we can play?”
“Hide-and-seek is a perfectly good game,” said Pterodactyl, swooping down beside T-Rex. “And besides, it’s the only game we could all agree on.”
“Sure,” said Triceratops, shaking his huge horns and stomping the ground, “but that’s because we don’t know any other games. It was a good idea for a game, Pterodactyl, but let’s face it, it’s not very fair for the rest of us. We’re much bigger than you are.”
“And much taller,” Brachiosaurus said, lowering her long neck, dipping her head between the others. “If I can’t find a big hill or a low valley to hide in, I’m caught first every time! And I’m running out of hills and valleys…”
“Well then,” said T-Rex, “it just looks like we’re going to have to find a different game to play. One that is fair for all of us. After all, what good is playing with friends if we aren’t having fun?”
All the dinosaurs nodded their heads in agreement, except for Pterodactyl. He lifted the tip of his long beak in the air and folded his arms. “Fine. We’ll see how much better you three can do. But you’ll have a hard time finding a game as fun — and fair — as hide-and-seek. You mark my words.”
The dinosaurs thought in silence for a long time without any of them coming up with so much as a suggestion for a new game. This was very satisfying for Pterodactyl, until Brachiosaurus began stomping excitedly.
“I know!” said Brachiosaurus Let’s play a game where one of us spies something, and the others have to guess what it is!”
“Gerumph!” said Triceratops, turning over a large stone with his short horn. “And how are we going to guess what you see? Your head is is in the clouds! You can see for miles around. This is a game only you could win.” Triceratops lifted his head with a smile. “But here is a better one: I say we play a game of jousting. We can take turns charging at each other and trying to push the other one out of a circle!”
“And how would that be any more fair than Brachiosaurus’s spying game?” asked Pterodactyl. “You’re the only one with horns, and you are much heavier than I am. I wouldn’t even try to play that game. But if hide-and-seek does not suit any of you, What do you say to a game of racing? Yes, that’s the way! We can all line up and when someone says ‘go,’ we will all take off as fast as we can. The first one to reach the watering hole, wins! Now that sounds like good fun to me.”
“I don’t know,” said T-Rex, scratching his chin. “Would it be a foot race? And who would say ‘go’?”
“It doesn’t matter who says ‘go,’” said Pterodactyl, annoyed. “And it couldn’t be a foot race only — that would be silly! Just look at these feet, I can’t run well at all. The only fair way to play at racing would be for me to fly and you three to run.”
“But we wouldn’t have a chance. You can fly in a straight line through the air, over the trees and hills and valleys, while the three of us would be left far behind.”
“You three are impossible! Do you have any better ideas? If we can’t figure something out soon, we’ll just have to go back to hiding and seeking.”
T-Rex, Triceratops, and Brachiosaurus moaned loudly.
“Wait!” said T-Rex. “What if we had an eating contest? We could eat something we all like — like the fruit of the Gorba tree!”
“Yes!” said Brachiosaurus. “The Gorba tree has just dropped its fruit and there’s more than enough for us all to eat.”
“I love Gorba fruit,” said Triceratops, nodding. “Yes, I don’t see any problem with an eating contest.”
“You don’t, do you?” asked Pterodactyl, flying into the air and beginning to circle the others. “Well I see two big problems. You see, Triceratops, Brachiosaurus, and myself don’t have hands, but you, T-Rex, you have two hands with long arms and powerful hands.”
“So?” asked T-Rex.
“So, you could very easily out-eat all three of us with the help of those hands, while the three of us struggled to peel and eat the Gorba fruit with only our mouths. Fair indeed!”
“Oh no!” said Brachiosaurus, her long neck swaying this way and that. “Pterodactyl’s right. We can’t hope to match your eating with no hands!”
“I hate to say it,” said Triceratops, “but Pterodactyl’s right. It looks like an eating contest won’t work. And I was so in the mood for Gorba fruit, too.”
Pterodactyl landed, folded his arms again, a long, satisfied smile spreading across his toothy bill.
“No,” said T-Rex. “We can’t go back to playing hide-and-seek. I won’t. I would do anything to avoid playing that game for another minute. What if there were a way I could make the contest fair?”
“And how would you do that?” asked Pterodactyl. “What’s to stop you from using your hands while we three are busy with our faces in the dirt? And don’t say you will give us your word, because this is a serious matter — games are not to be fooled around with you know.”
T-Rex lowered his head and sighed. “I know. But it would be so much fun, and we would all get plenty of good food to eat. There has to be some way to make this fair for all of us.”
“Well,” said Pterodactyl, a sly smile spreading across his bill, “there might just be one way to get what you want.”
“Really?” asked T-Rex.
“Do you mean it?” asked Brachiosaurus.
“That would be great!” said Triceratops.
“But how could I make the game fair for all of us?” asked T-Rex.
“I know a very special place that just so happens to be quite near the Gorba tree,” said Pterodactyl, “a place where wishes come true — in, er, one form or another. I’m sure if you wish to make the contest fair at this special place, then it would be so.”
“Do you mean the wishing lake?” asked Triceratops, a chill rattling his boney bonnet. “But I heard that no wish made at the wishing lake turns out the way you want it to.”
“I’ve heard the same,” said Brachiosaurus. “Wishes are granted, sure, but the results are never quite what you expect.”
T-Rex looked down at his long, beautiful arms. He couldn’t stand to play hide-and-seek anymore, and he longed for the sweet Gorba fruit. “Do you really think it would work?”
“Oh, it will work,” said Pterodactyl. “And besides, it looks like it’s your only choice.”
“What do you think?” asked T-Rex, looking between Triceratops and Brachiosaurus.
“If there’s a way to make it fair,” said Triceratops, “I would be happy to have eating contest.”
“Me too,” said Brachiosaurus. “If you can make it fair, I say you do it.”
“Very well,” said T-Rex. “I’m willing to do what it takes to make this contest fair and fun for everyone.”
“Very well,” said Pterodactyl, rubbing his claws together. “Follow me.”
Pterodactyl led T-Rex, Triceratops, and Brachiosaurus deep into the forest to a clearing surrounded by tall trees that blocked out the sun, a place T-Rex had never been to before, a place where pools of black slime steamed and bubbled.
Pterodactyl pointed to the largest pit in the middle of the clearing. “That is the wishing lake,” he said. “That is where you make your wish.”
Triceratops and Brachiosaurus stayed close to the tree line as T-Rex made his way toward wishing lake. T-Rex crept close to the edge and stared down into the black ooze. It smelled awful, like rotten eggs and burnt roots. He could see his black reflection in the lake, a misshapen shadow of himself. He held out a long arm and touched a growing bubbled with the tip of his claw. POP! He turned his head back to look at his friends. Triceratops and Brachiosaurus seemed frightened, but gave him encouraging looks. Pterodactyl offered only an impatient stare.
“What are you waiting for?,” asked Pterodactyl, flapping his large wings. “That’s it. Now all you have to do is make your wish.”
T-Rex turned back to the lake and closed his eyes, partly because the steam stung them and partly because he was afraid. “I wish… I wish a contest of eating Gorba fruits could be fair for me and my friends.”
After T-Rex spoke, nothing happened for a long time. T-Rex slowly opened his eyes. Nothing had changed. The wishing lake simply bubbled and steamed as it had before. He turned to his friends, with sadness in his face, ready to submit himself to endless hours of hide-and-seek, ready to admit defeat to Pterodactyl, when he saw the looks of horror in his friends’ faces.
Triceratops eyes were open wide, and he looked pale. Brachiosaurus’s neck was pulled back and her mouth was twisted into a grimace. Only Pterodactyls face looked pleased.
“What is it?” asked T-Rex. “What’s wrong? Tell me, has something changed?”
“Oh yes,” said Pterodactyl. “Something has changed alright. I don’t think we’ll have any trouble believing you’ll keep your hands out of the eating contest now.”
“But why? I don’t see any—” T-Rex meant to look at his hands, but they were nowhere to be seen. He wiggled his fingers, bent his elbows. He could feel his arms, they were still there, but— “What’s happened? Where are my arms?”
“Your arms are where they’ve always been,” said Pterodactyl, “but you’ll have a hard time seeing them now, let alone using them for eating Gorba fruit.” Pterodactyl laughed, a shrill, skin crawling laugh that made Brachiosaurus and Triceratops shiver.
T-Rex turned back to the wishing lake and leaned over the reflective surface. There he saw his arms. They were no longer long and beautiful and strong, but short, and ugly, and shriveled. T-Rex let out a deafening roar, a roar so loud and so fierce that all feelings of horror and satisfaction instantly left the other dinosaurs.
T-Rex turned on his friends in a rage. “You!” he roared. “You tricked me into this! All of you!”
“No!” said Triceratops.
“We would never!” said Brachiosaurus.
“But I would,” said Pterodactyl. “I was tired of your complaining about my game of hide-and-seek — about everything. You are not the boss of us. There was nothing wrong with my game, but you had to ruin it. Now you will live with your wish. I hope it brings you more joy than my boring game.”
T-Rex’s eyes became dark and narrowed. Pterodactyl’s smug smile disappeared. “I will have joy,” said T-Rex. “I will enjoy ruining your life like you have ruined mine. That goes for all of you! For what you did to me, I will make it my duty and my tribe’s duty to rid the land of you, to eat you and your kind wherever we see you. There will be no place safe for you. From this day on, your kind is an enemy of mine, and you will have no games and no peace. I am not your friend anymore, I am not your boss — I am your terrible king!”
And with that, T-Rex charged at Pterodactyl and ate him up. Triceratops and Brachiosaurus did not stay to reason with T-Rex. They ran as fast as they could from their new enemy. And from that day until the end of the dinosaurs, the T-Rex and his kind were enemies of all other dinosaurs.