Pterrorshark vs. Sharkadactl
I had stopped, long ago, waiting for a movie to come out that could redefine the genre. It’s not done anymore. Studios are too interested in their precious international dollar to spend any money or take any chances because everybody already knows the formula to set off a blockbuster in Beijing or Bali. Film is a dead, the Yuan and the Rupee have killed it, and though we visit its grave every now and again when we re-watch films like Jaws or The African Queen, there’s always a melancholy attached because something inside tells you this is it. It was fun while it lasted but it’s over. Most times I sit in my theater seat expecting just another movie as I’ve abandoned hope of an actual cinematic experience. But I was wrong, and I’m glad to say I was because Pterrorshark vs Sharkadactl is a tour de force. Man vs nature vs shark vs nuclear power vs the digital age, the film combines this country’s post 911 anxiety with what’s left of our communal Cold War nuclear paranoia.
The Pterrorshark (the ‘P’ is silent) has two heads, and each head two mouths, all of which breath atomic fire. The right head is of a shark, which surprises no one, and the second head is a lion’s head, which surprises some because they don’t expect to see a lion head on something called a Pterrorshark, which also has three pairs of wings. A set of bat wings, dove wings, and what look to be the wings of a flying squirrel. It has the body of a shark and is the size of the empire state building. The giant beast exists as the result of radioactive genetic experimentation, is considered by the people who created it a danger to human existence, and is encased in lead under the Yucatan Peninsula by order of the president.
The Sharkodactyl is a shark with the wings and legs of a pterodactyl that is also the size of the Empire State Building. This ancient beast from the Jurassic era has been encased in a slightly larger than the Empire State Building sized glacier for the last two-hundred millennia, though when the movie begins, the ice has begun to melt and crack because of weapons testing in the Northern most mountains of Tibet.
The Sharkodactyl comes first. It thaws and flies over Chinese cities while people below crane their heads believing they truly live in interesting times and whispering prayers for protection under their breath. Sharkodactyl then flies high above the pacific to Canada, passing through several providences before ending up in New York where, attracted like a wasp to rotten fruit, it destroys the Empire State Building. The destruction is so horrific that while the mothers of Manhattan turn their children’s heads away from the horror, the mothers in the theater do the same.
This is when Pterrorshark is unleashed from its leaden cage in the Yucatan by order of a president who has very little choice as the combined military might of the Army, Navy, and Air Force have no noticeable effect. What follows is a long but beautiful dance as the ancient beast battles the modern marvel. Fire is breathed, buildings disintegrate, and the night sky’s as bright as Alaska in June. The Pterrorshark leads the Sharkodactyl away from Manhattan, and a good deal of The Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, and Queens is destroyed before they’re back in the city battling above the memorial and finally the teeth of the second mouth of the shark head of the Pterrorshark rips out the throat of Sharkodactyl, which with an antediluvian wail, drops to the ground, lifeless, at the foot of the Ground Zero Fountain. The Pterrorshark then dives into the ocean, disappearing, and everyone in the streets just stands, staring, trying to make sense of their place within the breath of devastation. Then there’s a strange silence, and it’s eerie because everything’s quiet, and no one knows if they should move or not because no one has yet, no one’s even breathing, not even me.
Which is why I’ve decided to rate this movie four full popcorn buckets.
That Day in the School Yard
Marcus lays flat on his back writhing in pain, whimpering. Janet levels her pistol at Dave.
“I have to do this,” says Janet. “Your snakes for arms are biting too many people.”
“I didn’t ask for these!” Screams Dave, tears streaming down his eyes. “I never asked to have snakes for arms!”
The snakes attached at Dave’s shoulders swim in the air like oceanic eels teaming up to stalk the elusive Janetfish.
Janet knows it must be done, but she doesn’t know if she can do it. She remembers a time, years ago, when she first came to this town. None of the kids in her new third grade class would talk to her, most wouldn’t even acknowledge that she even existed, even though she was wearing the brand new purple sweater that her mom let her pick out all by herself.
On the first day, she sat alone in the lunch room while she heard the other kids whispering and glancing in her direction while giggling. And it was later when she was sitting alone in the corner at recess too when Dave walked up.
“I like your sweater,” he said. And that’s all it took. Janet remembers that it was this single act of kindness that brought her back to believing in the goodness of people. Just she’d been on the brink of giving up on them.
“I like your snakes for arms,” said Janet, that day in the school yard. “I think they’re really cool.”
But the snakes were babies back then, docile, with small fangs and afraid of most things.
Now this was no longer the case. Marcus and a host of others was proof of that.
“Ahhhhhhh!” Marcus cries out in pain.
Janet stops looking at the snakes and looks Dave straight in the eye. “You know I have to do this,” says Janet. “You know it!”
Dave’s eyes are blood red and he turns his head away. “I never asked for these!” He shouts again, venom dripping from the fangs of his hands.
And Janet knows he never did. “I’m sorry,” whispers Janet, and she pulls the trigger.
Saul Lemerond is currently working on a PhD in creative writing at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. He has been published in the Sheepshead Journal of the Arts, Temenos, Waterhouse Review, Drabblecast, Dunsteef, and elsewhere. He was also a semifinalist for the Conium 2016 Innovative Short Fiction Contest.