February 12

Darwin Day


The black Lava rocks on the beach are frequented by large (2–3 ft) most disgusting, clumsy Lizards. They are as black as the porous rocks over which they crawl & seek their prey from the Sea. — Somebody calls them “imps of darkness”. — Charles Darwin’s Beagle Diary, cited @ darwin-online.org.uk


Louder than the lizard’s footfall is the drag and slither of its clumsy belly.

From blocks away, the Chaser hears the rumble.  Pieces of pavement and small trees drag along with the scaled body.  Frames of parked cars grind noisily beneath the lazy weight.

And the shouts and screams of people trying to avoid the lizard’s lumbering path.

The Chaser notes the large blip on his dashboard radar, but the locating-equipment is no longer necessary.  He can see the trail of destruction ahead:  the lizard has followed the path of least resistance, down the two lanes of High Street.

In former days, the Chaser had followed extreme weather events, with an active tornado as the elusive prize.  He’d reached the site of two funnel clouds, and had forwarded ground data to weather authorities, but the primary goal was dramatic video footage.  And the thrill.

A tornado produced a similar rumble — wind and roar, crash and crunch of surrounding property.  Dark clouds compounded the menace, as the atmosphere literally crackled with danger.  Hurricanes received a human name; tornados, unpredictable, were often described as if they were living things.

But a Lizard actually was a living thing.  To get close to it, look into the actual eye of this giant, lumbering creature, was a more dangerous, fulfilling mission.

The Chaser drove his jeep within sight of the Lizard’s tail.

The tail extended for two city blocks.  It was gray, thick as a cement pipeline.

Further ahead, the Lizard’s body expanded into the space between two office buildings.

It was stuck.

No room to drive past on either side, so the Chaser grabbed his camcorder and exited the jeep to continue on foot.

The giant tail lifted into the air and smacked down on the asphalt, jolting the road beneath the Chaser’s feet.  Clawed legs scratched aimlessly at the ground and the air, as the huge torso wriggled from side to side.

Pieces of the Mutual Trust Building began to crumble and fall.  On the other side of the street, the three top stories of InTact Communications began to shake over the finned, scaled, and warted body.

The Chaser aimed his camera, and the Lizard was crushed beneath the smoke and rubble of falling buildings.  The torso ceased expanding and contracting with the Lizard’s breaths.

Good footage, but he’d hoped the Lizard would have stayed alive a bit longer.

A crackle sounded on his Talkie.  “Another one downtown.”  The Chasers were often in competition for the best sightings and footage, but they still helped each other out by sharing information.  “A really big imp.  Maybe Category 4.”

They called them imps, after Darwin’s diary reference to “imps of darkness” — even though they’d grown too large for the imp label.  The Lizards had evolved, and crawled out of the darkness.

The Chaser headed back to his jeep, entered the coordinates for his next pursuit.