This trail was much darker than the previous one and the ground was muddier, as though it had been well trodden. In some places the muddy ground was worn so thin that queerly weathered rock was exposed -- rock that perhaps was shaped millennia ago during the Flood. My hunch was that it was an older trail, the darkness due to the regrowth of surrounding vegetation. It seemed to be heading downward, as if into a valley. Secure in my Faith, I plunged down into this valley of darkness, Johnny barely able to keep up. Finally, after rounding a bend, we found them. Below on the side of the trail was Stubbingwicke, hunched behind a branch with his rifle trained on something large further down in the darkness. Although I could see barely more than shadows, I knew what it was and what was happening. He was about to shoot the Apatosaurus!
"Put down that weapon! The power of Christ compels you!" I immediately commanded, the words flowing through me as if from Above. The power of my rebuke startled both him and the Apatosaurus, causing the former to turn toward me and issue a blasphemous curse while the latter disappeared down the trail. Before Stubbingwicke could notice that his prey was escaping, I ran to head him off. Now between him and the beast, I dropped my gear, rolled up my sleeves, put my fists up and issued a challenge: "If you want that dinosaur, you will have to get through me first!" Seeing that he had no choice but to deal with me, Stubbingwicke dropped his weapons, uttered some more blasphemies, and came at me with his fists. As I engaged him in fisticuffs, I called out to Johnny to take the camera and hurry down the path to get a photo, which the now-panicked guide nevertheless did.
Like most Atheists, Stubbingwicke was all tough talk, but deep inside he was weak since he did not have the Love of Christ to succor him and give him strength. His cynicism and disbelief proved no match for my Faith and I eventually had him on the defensive. As my fists found their mark as if by Divine guidance, he finally fell to the ground on all fours, too tired and beaten to give any more fight. I stayed my fists and stood over his pathetic, subdued form. More curious than angry, I asked him what he hoped to accomplish by killing the Apatosaurus. His reply, snarled from a bleeding cut lip, was as shocking as it was plausible, and I can still remember it verbatim:
"Do you seriously believe that we don't already know about these dinosaurs? Why do you think I agreed to come along on this little Christian adventure of yours? To make sure you don't get what you came for, that's why!"
Stubbingwicke was an Evolutionist! What's more, he was involved in a conspiracy to stymie our attempt to uncover evidence that would vindicate Creation Science. But who exactly was he working for? The NCSE? The Smithsonian? The American Atheists? The usual suspects fluttered through my mind like bitter, God-less butterflies as I reeled from this revelation. But I was soon brought back to the moment by a scream from down the trail. It was Johnny. Glancing between Stubbingwicke and the dark trail below, I realized I had to leave my foe there and go to Johnny's aid.
When I found Johnny he was lying, arms akimbo, on the ground near what looked to be the end of the trail. There was no sign of the Apatosaurus. There were some very dark breaks in the jungle around us, but none of them could charitably be called trails. If the dinosaur had went through one of them, he was lost to us for sure. There was somewhat more light here than back up the trail, and I could see that Johnny was badly bruised, but otherwise okay. I helped him to his feet, asking what had transpired during my battle. Johnny was very confused and agitated but I was able to gather that the Apatosaurus had charged at him -- no doubt feeling cornered in this dead end -- and had knocked him to the ground before disappearing. I pressed him about the camera, perhaps shaking him a bit more than was necessary. I had to know if he got a photo! He said that he managed to press the camera's button -- more on accident than purpose -- during the beast's attack, but was unsure if the photo would show anything of worth. There was still some hope.
With nothing more to be done there, I walked Johnny back up the trail. Unsurprisingly, Stubbingwicke was gone. When we reached the hub of trails, we rested until Escobar, Po, and VonStoffen returned and then told them of what had happened. We all agreed that looking for the dinosaur further would be futile and that it would be best to return to camp. We had hoped on the way back to gather some of the pungent physical evidence that we had previously encountered, but when we arrived at the spot all trace of it was gone (with the unfortunate exception of its stench). We suspected the work of Stubbingwicke. It took us a while to retrace our steps through the jungle, but we managed to lumber into the pygmy village just before sundown. The porters told us that Stubbingwicke had returned a couple of hours before we had, smelling horrendously. He had gathered his belongings in a hurry and left, taking one of the Land Rovers with him. We would never hear of him again.
The dinosaur expedition was over. Although the tantalizing knowledge that the Behemoths of the Book of Job were out there somewhere made us want to stay in the village and continue the search, our supplies and funding were at an end. We had to return to civilization. But there was still one last stop in Africa on our dinosaur expedition: the one hour photo developer at Kinshasha International Airport. There, the five of us waited with bated breath at the window in front of the print machine as the roll of film from my camera was processed. Would we have anything to show for all our trouble? Would we finally have the evidence that will break down the walls of unbelief and allow Truth into science? Slowly, the fateful frame came into view...
Johnny had come through for us! Here is the first ever photo of a living, breathing, charging dinosaur. Admittedly, it's not the clearest picture in the world, but it demands further investigation by even the staunchest skeptic. We bid Johnny farewell and returned to our homes triumphant.
But still, much more research needs to be done, not only into the ecology and distribution of extant dinosaurs but also into Stubbingwicke's revelation of conspiracy. I suspect that powerful forces are at work trying to stop us. But we have the Lord and Truth on our side, so our success is assured whatever trials may be in store for us. In the future, if we can secure the funding, we hope to continue our research in more-accessible Puerto Rico, where Dromaeosaur attacks on livestock are commonly reported. This time we will be more careful whom we invite along.
he he he
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