One: The Unknown Fossil

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"This is going to be a long summer." The auburn-haired girl yawned in front of the desk computer.

Through the nearby broad windows, she watched as sea gulls glided in the overcast sky.

Aimee Jo Kipper appeared to most people like a teen barely out of high school, but she was a college student with one year remaining in her undergraduate study.

Instead of heading home for the summer, she opted to spend it working at a maritime museum helping Gina Burns, the Senior Archivist, log and prepare various artifacts for an upcoming exhibit.

Originally, she'd thought the museum was located near the shores of a large lake only to learn it sat beside a marshland several miles away.

In a way, she was thankful for this.

Behind her were several long tables covered by boxes and glass containers with tagged items.

"What are you studying?" The older woman asked as she picked up a piece of rock that contained a fossilized fish.

"History with an emphasis on Paleo-Indian Culture." Aimee answered.

"Mallotus villosus." Gina said, her dark blue eyes narrowed behind the round spectacles.

"Interesting that you've decided to work here instead of somewhere like the Six Nations Indian Museum or The Abenaki Historical Museum."

Aimee shrugged, her fingers sweeping over the keyboard. "Well, those were my first choices, but they had no openings so here I sit."

A tall woman with jet-black hair and golden bronze skin rushed into the room.

"How are things coming along?" She sniffed as her mahogany eyes surveyed the tables.

"G'morning Darcy." Gina said. "We're progressing nicely and should be done by the end of the day."

Darcy Smith was an accomplished Marine Biologist with an impressive list of unique findings from all over the world.

Aimee admired the woman's gut to dive in some of the deepest and darkest places on the planet.

Lake Champlain was no exception.

Granted, it wasn't an ocean or even one of the Great Lakes – albeit it briefly held that title a few decades earlier – its depth held many untold secrets.

Judging by what she saw on the tables, it looked like Darcy found a few of them.

"What's that?" Aimee pointed to a glass container that held a peculiar looking bony piece.

Darcy picked up the item with a blank tag.

"This one – "She mused as her lips curled into a smile. "Has me quite excited. As you both know, this area was once part of the Champlain Sea over 10,000 years ago. It teemed with marine life of all sorts including the Delphinapterus leucas – the white whale and Cephalopods aka squids."

She carefully cupped it in both hands and held it out for the other two to see.

"This beak belonged to a squid. It's unusual in that its razor-sharp teeth are larger than what you see in today's squids."

Aimee studied the beak.

It looked like it belonged to a gigantic parrot. The biggest difference were the rows of pointed triangular teeth.

She shuddered.

"It's almost like looking at a smaller version of shark's teeth." Aimee replied.

Darcy nodded. "Yes, I agree which is why I left this tag without a description because this squid is unlike anything I've ever seen before. It's quite possibly related to the Humboldt squid but I'm uncertain."

"Can you tell how big this one was?" Aimee asked.

"Well, judging by the size of this beak, I'd say it might have been as long as twenty feet."

Darcy turned her eyes to Aimee's freckled face.

"I was admiring remnants of what was once a watercraft used by the prehistoric local natives when I found this buried in silt only a yard away."

Aimee's eyes widened.

"The prehistoric natives are right up your alley, Aimes." Gina grinned.

"No kidding?" Darcy asked. "Do you dive?"

"Unfortunately, no." Aimee replied as she leaned back in the chair. "I can barely even swim."

Aimee knew that wasn't entirely true but decided against saying anything more.

"That's too bad." Darcy carefully returned the beak to the container. "I would have enjoyed showing you all the wonders that lay down there."

"What's that?" Gina suddenly asked.

Darcy and Aimee glanced at one another.

Darcy started to speak when Gina held a finger to her thin lips.

Aimee listened for a moment.

"Sounds like a freight train." She whispered.

"It does only there hasn't been a train in this area for over thirty years." Gina replied.

The soft roar steadily grew louder as if it was approaching the museum.

"Aw gade kaka!" Darcy exclaimed. "That's an earthquake! Hold on to something!"

Aimee lived in the region for three years while attending the local university. During that time, she experienced a few earthquakes.

They were small and barely moved anything within an office space or library.

The locals said these were normal occurrences.

But this was the first time she ever heard an earthquake before its arrival.

That can't be a good sign.

Aimee barely made it under her heavy oak desk when the floor began to move.

It felt like she was riding a wave that went on and on.

Every object on the wall and bookshelves rattled.

Then, an explosion shook the building shattering windows and tossing her body at will.

She reached for one of the legs of the desk, but her fingers missed as she was rocked across the floor, unable to stop herself.

Pieces of the building pummeled her as she tucked her body into a fetal position, her arms covered her head and face.

She heard Gina crying, and Darcy was cursing.

Something like how dare did it do this just when she was about to make her mark in the world.

Above the loud rumbling, several thunderous thuds reverberated through the area.

It sounded like enormous steel plates smashing down on each other as if they were being hurled from the sky.

Each blow radiated through her chest as the pressure on her lungs intensified.

Deafening sounds faded until there were only silence and darkness.

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