Dalen's Duckling

Dalen's Duckling

A Story by Lukie LeDoux

A college student secretly creates a dinosaur from a bird embryo and befriends it.



Dalen watched the little embryo move in the Petri dish.  He told everyone in his Genetic Science class that he was growing a duckling but the animal’s true identity was becoming more apparent each day.  Although the thing’s features were still largely undefined, Dalen could just make out the elongated tail, a mouth full of tiny teeth, and big tomato-red lizard eyes.

            It was becoming painfully obvious that this was no duck.  It was at one time, Dalen knew, but no longer.  He exposed it to a virus in the zygote stage.  It modified the duck’s DNA, awakening the dormant prehistoric genes left over from its ancestors.  No, this was no duck.  Dalen was growing a dinosaur.

            The voice of professor Rogers caused Dalen’s eyes to snap away from the dish.  “Now apply the growth accelerant to your embryo,” he said.  Dalen did as he was told and put two drops of the blue growth accelerant into the Petri dish, and continued observing the dinosaur.  He highly regretted taking the virus from the Microbiology Department and making this . . . thing and now he desperately wanted to undo it.  The dinosaur embryo twitched and it caused Dalen to jump and let out a yelp of surprise.  All the eyes in the room were on him now, and in that moment he was struck by an idea.  It was perfect. 

            “Professor Rogers?” he called out.

            “Yes, Dalen?”

            Dalen put on a distraught face, careful not to overdo it.  “I think,” pause for effect, “I think my embryo died.”

            “Oh, I’m sorry, Dalen.  Sometimes they react adversely to the accelerant.  Put it in the biohazard bag and write your lab report on what you’ve observed thus far.”

            “Yes, sir,” Dalen said as he got up.  He looked down at the embryo as he picked it up.  Was it visibly growing?  Dalen shook the thought from his head.  It didn’t matter because it was about to be destroyed.  He held the dish over the disposal bag and prepared to scrape the creature off of it.  Just then, the dinosaur’s semi developed eyes turned in its tiny, transparent head.  Dalen’s heart twisted in a knot as he made eye contact with the animal and he realized he couldn’t destroy it.  How could he?  It was a dinosaur for crying out loud!

            Dalen covered the dish and gingerly placed it in his bag when he returned to his seat. That night in his apartment, he removed the dish from his bag.  Yes, the dinosaur was definitely growing.  Its skin was now translucent and its eyes were now a dark shade of brown.  Dalen rummaged around and found the old heating lamp he used to use for his pet snake and a cloudy plastic bowl.  He then put the embryo under the bowl and put them both under the lamp, creating a makeshift incubator.  He then climbed into bed and, after a lot of fitful tossing and turning, drifted off to sleep. . .          

            Thunk, thunk, thunk. Dalen’s eyes snapped open when he heard the noise.  Oh, God! It’s the police, thought Dalen.  They found out and they’re here to arrest me!  He heard the noise again, thunk, thunk, thunk.  Finally it dawned on Dalen that the sound wasn’t coming from outside his apartment, but from within.  “No,” he said aloud.  “It can’t be! It’s too soon!”  Dalen bolted out of his bedroom, into the kitchen, and watched the bowl tumble off of the snack bar.  All of a sudden an ear shattering squeal issued from the bowl.  Dalen dashed around the snack bar and found the source of the noise.  His dinosaur lay inside the bowl, now covered in downy feathers.  It struggled to escape, but its tiny claws scraped futilely against the slippery plastic.

            Dalen gently scooped up the baby dinosaur who continued to scream.  He heard Ms. Kershaw bang on their shared wall, “What the hell is that?” she yelled in her raspy, cigarette scarred voice, “Shut it up!”

            Then her annoying cockatoo, Johnny, joined in: “Squawk! What the hell is that? Shut it up! Squawk!

            Dalen hated his neighbor, and her stupid bird.  “Sorry, Ms. Kershaw, it’s just my. . .” he looked down at the screaming dinosaur and remembered the lie he told his class.  “It’s just my new duckling.”

            “Make it shut up!”

            I’m trying you stupid hag, Dalen thought but didn’t say.  “Alright!” he said.  Holding the fuzzy dinosaur in one arm, Dalen rifled through the contents of his freezer and found some frozen sausage patties.  He pulled a piece from one and stuck it in the dinosaur’s screaming mouth.  It immediately stopped crying and began gnawing at it contentedly, turning and maneuvering it with nimble forearms. 

            Dalen continued holding the dinosaur and he sat down in his chair.  He stroked the animal’s downy feathers as he watched it chew on the meat.  And it watched him too.  With those same big intelligent eyes that stared up at him from a Petri dish.  Dalen could  hardly believe it.

            Dalen chuckled quietly.  “Duckling,” he said out loud.  “Your name is Duckling.”  The little dinosaur continued eating and watching Dalen until they both fell asleep. . . 

            Dalen and Duckling lived together for several months.  Duckling grew bigger with each passing day until his nose reached Dalen’s waist.  His plumage changed colors, going from grayish white to a dark, woodsy brown, flecked with specks of shiny iridescent green.  Duckling also began learning very quickly.  By the time he was a week old, Dalen taught him to do his business on a mat, allowing Dalen to go the university without worrying about coming home to a mess.  Duckling was proving to be cleaner than most roommates.  Dalen soon found out why his dinosaur was so smart.  Duckling was a troodon, one of the smartest dinosaurs ever discovered.

            Then Dalen realized just how intelligent Duckling was.  One day he returned home to find his apartment door open.  He hurriedly searched the apartment, fearing someone may have broken in and hurt Duckling, but the troodon was nowhere to be found.  Then he heard something like old, dry air being forced violently out of dusty, broken bagpipes: Ms. Kershaw.  “Get away from Johnny you fiend!” she shouted.

            “Duckling!” Dalen yelled, running out of his apartment.  He felt the scratches on the door left behind from Duckling opening it.  He rounded the corner into Ms. Kershaw’s smoky apartment just in time to hear her scream in horror.  Just in time to see Duckling swallow that annoying cockatoo.

            “Duckling! Here, now!” Dalen commanded.  Duckling ran over to him.

            “That’s your pet?” Ms. Kershaw exclaimed.  “I’m calling animal control! That . . . Thing need to die!

            “No! You can’t!” Dalen shouted, but Ms. Kershaw already picked up her phone.  Dalen tapped Duckling twice on the shoulder, a signal he taught him that meant follow.

            Together they ran out of the apartment complex and into Dalen’s car.  Duckling was apprehensive at first, but then he understood Dalen’s urgency and hopped in.  Dalen drove Duckling to the woods at the edge of the city and got out.  Duckling did the same once Dalen opened the door for him.  His huge, brown eyes widened at the sight of the towering trees.  Dalen led the dinosaur to the tree line.  He could hear the sirens growing louder.  He had to say goodbye quickly.

            Dalen kneeled down in front of Duckling who nuzzled his warm nose into his neck.  Dalen’s heart twisted into knot, just like when the embryo looked up at him in the laboratory.  This was going to be hard.  Dalen sighed, a lump forming in his throat.  “Duckling, run into the woods.  Don’t let anyone find you.”

            Duckling stared at him with those big, brown, intelligent eyes, not understanding.  Dalen hugged the troodon’s neck, then stood up and pointed to the woods.  “Go!” he shouted, his heart falling to pieces.  The dinosaur took a step back.  Then he understood and ran into the trees.  A tear rolled down Dalen’s face as his best friend disappeared into the dense brush.

© 2013 Lukie LeDoux

Author's Note

Lukie LeDoux
This is my favorite pieces I've written. It's my baby. So please review, and help me make it the most it can be.

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Added on July 14, 2013
Last Updated on July 14, 2013
Tags: troodon, college student, college, genetic science, dinosaurs


Lukie LeDoux
Lukie LeDoux

Lake Charles, LA

I'm Lukie and I like to write about dinosaurs, monsters and the like. I'm fascinated by biology and science and sometimes my writing will explore the gray areas of those subjects. If any of the.. more..