Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #059: Dangerous Friends

Monday, August 17, 2020 at 8:00 am Comments Off on Dinosaur Hunter Diaries #059: Dangerous Friends

Turok: Son of Stone #33

Andar makes friends.

The jungle’s no place to be in a storm like this! The rivers are raging, the trees are toppling, and the beasts are bugging out, crushing anything that gets in their way. Our heroes take to the river in hopes of eventually finding shelter…

… and they soon find themselves in a marshy bog. They make camp on a strip of dry land and Andar gets some long-overdue sleep, while Turok fends off a big scaly nasty. Andar’s miffed he missed out on that action, but when Turok goes to show him the remains, the carcass has been picked clean!

The series has shown plenty of dead bodies and skeletons, but this is the first to show the grisly in-between, of tattered flesh still clinging to the bones, coloured in a sickly peachy hue. It’s way more unsettling than it intends to be, and only makes the imagination race on what could possibly have left such a mess. A terrifying carnivorous bog monster? Some kind of flesh-eating virus?

Nah, it’s just bog men. They’re not thrilled at having outsiders larking about, and have no intention of them staying or leaving — only dying! They goad our heroes into following them, who soon find themselves in a sticky situation; everywhere they go, there’s nothing but treacherous quicksand! In light of a big nasty honker appearing out of nowhere, Andar would sooner take his chances with the quicksand, though.

In doing so he makes a keen discovery: there’s an unseen system of log bridges submerged beneath the water, which the bog men must use to get about!

The natives aren’t thrilled at their secret being uncovered, or the prospect of these intruders escaping with that knowledge, but the pair manage to make it back to their raft in one piece. The bog men may have feared the prospect of being invaded or conquered… but who wants it? They can keep their nasty-ass swamp.

The text pages, formerly dedicated to short bits of prehistoric prose, have now been reinvented as educational pieces relating to the ancient history of mankind… probably in light of the fact Young Earth has since abandoned its educational leanings for kickass animal fights. I’m sure some kids are intrigued by the discovery of early tools and hunting techniques, but I was quite partial to the prose stories, even if I did little to spotlight them. As dopey as it sounds, they make for perfect bedtime stories.
Yes, on occasion I read them aloud to myself before going to bed.
Look, you’re reading this on Random Hoo Haas of all bloody places, not Cool Guy Central. You take what you can get, and in this case it’s an author with questionable personal habits.

Andar, for lack of any leisure centres in Lost Valley, is playing fetch with a croc. This goes about as well as you can expect — why fetch a crummy stick when there’s a meal in waiting on the river bank? Turok is forced to put it down before any harm comes to his companion…

… and he admits to himself he’s left Andar in a bit of a sorry state. In his persistence to keep them from falling in with the unpredictable cave men, he’s effectively forbid the boy from any meaningful social life. “I can never replace companions Andar’s own age!” Andar wanders off and witnesses a group of youths horsing about in the lake, but as much as he wants to join in, they rush off at the sight of him; his reputation precedes him.

He’d overheard the boys talking about swimming to an island in the lake, but the deep water made it too treacherous. Andar starts work on a raft and the others come crawling out of the woodwork, eager to lend a hand so they can all go together. The gang are intimidated at being so far from land, but with Andar at the helm, everyone’s got confidence in him. He even saves them from a croc attack! If irreparable trauma isn’t friendship building, I don’t know what is!

On the island they find a tree lush with red fruit, unlike any they’ve seen before — and darn sweet to boot! The gang stock up and return to the mainland, promising to make this a regular thing. Andar keeps mum to Turok on what he’s been up to, but the cave boys aren’t so coy, and the chief of their tribe, Lerf, soon begins thinking of ways to claim the stranger’s powers for himself. What’s he got in mind? Feigned friendship? Underhanded trickery?

Nah. Just dressing him in the garb of the “spiny honker clan” so they know which of them to clobber when they round a corner.

The boys aren’t thrilled at this deception and start tripping up the attackers, and Turok happens by to help drop a tree on them, having had a funny feeling over Andar’s good mood. The pair reunite and make their escape, eager to distance themselves from this neck of the woods. Andar’s glad his pals were there to help bail him out, but learns the hard way of the fine line between friendship and trust, sadly.

I’m forever a sucker for stories that address Andar’s adolescence, and it’s bittersweet to see the kid robbed of his childhood because of fate. He’s a good kid, trusting and adventurous and full of tricks to share with his pals, but having such forbidden knowledge makes him a valuable asset to any tribe chief aspiring to climb the social ladder. C’est la vie.

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