After a four-year hiatus, Primeval Stories is back with a fresh look. Professor Cutter and his team are dealing with a series of losses but nevertheless have to crack on as new anomalies appear, alongside new recruit Sam Dunbar.
Hannah SpearrittLucy Brown
and Ben Miller
1: The Revival
9:50pm. Sam Dunbar was finishing off his training session with a young girl in the gym. Sam’s 28, tall and fit with dark hair. He was a personal trainer, something he’d wanted to be for a long time. Now he in his late twenties, more than qualified and he wasn’t sure the training lark was all it cracked up to be. His hours were generally in the evening, pretty unsociable because he started work whenever his friends finished. He was looking forward to getting home, putting his feet up and watching a movie on Netflix. Another boring night, before rinsing and repeating tomorrow.
Next door in the staff locker room, unbeknownst to Sam and his client, a white light opened, with what looked like shards of glass floating around it. Two feet stepped through, with three toes each and sharp, pointy claws for nails…
Tap tap tap. Jess Parker was busy finishing off some work at the Anomaly Research Centre (or ARC for short). It was pretty deserted at this time, most people had finished their shifts, but Jess had always been a hard worker. She sat at the anomaly detector in the centre of the main control room, taking pride of place at the heart of the ARC both literally and figuratively. The team, headed up by Professor Nick Cutter, had been through a lot in the past few years, losing a chunk of their team to budget cuts, while co-leader Danny Quinn was viciously killed in a future predator attack less than a year ago. Jess was the glue that held the team together throughout all this, from her smiles first thing in the morning to bringing the team cups of tea throughout the day. She was just about to sign off from the computer and go home, when an alarm sounds, ringing loudly through her eardrums – a total contrast to the peace and quiet she had in the deserted ARC beforehand.
“Of course this happens now” Jess laughed as she began furiously tapping. The sound was that of an anomaly being detected, the first one in over a week in fact. The issue now was that the team were all at home, so she had to summon them all to the nearby gym…
“Connor! Connor!” Abby Maitland repeated as she tried to wake Connor Temple up. He’d fallen asleep on the sofa in front of a movie, lying in her lap. Eventually Connor stirred and smiled at Abby, while she glared back.
“We’ve got an anomaly, let’s go” Abby informed him as she stood up, getting herself ready. Rex flew down and perched himself next to Abby, staring at Connor as if to say “hurry up!”
“I thought we were having an engagement celebration” Connor slurred, still half asleep.
“You obviously weren’t so interested, you fell asleep” Abby responded.
“You can blame Lester for that, he’s the one making me work unreasonable hours” Connor joked as he went in to kiss Abby.
9:57pm. Sam had just finished the training session with his client and was about to get ready to leave the gym, before closing time at 10pm. He approached the staff locker room door and noticed the metal handle rattling. Sam was confused, and a bit sceptical about opening the door. What was making it rattle? His hand touched the cold metal handle, pushed it down, and the door swung open. Right in front of him was the shining light, a couple of metres into the room, between two rows of lockers. Sam was awestruck, his eyes wide with shock. He didn’t know how to feel; nervous, scared and excited all at the same time. He stepped inside the room, one step at a time, and reached his hand out to the light.
A black car pulled up outside the gym, and out stepped Professor Nick Cutter and Jenny Lewis.
“We need this place evacuated” Cutter stated.
“I’ll get on it” Jenny replied. Cutter then took out his mobile phone to reach Jess.
“Hi Jess, we need the perimeter sealed off, all doors and windows need to be locked”
“Already on it, the gym’s closing in a minute anyway so it should be pretty deserted” Jess efficiently informed Cutter. “Mind you, this would be a bit easier with your black boxes, I could speak directly to you that way.”
“We didn’t have time to stop by the ARC, we could have a creature incursion already, there’s no time to waste. I better get going” Cutter ended the call just as Abby and Connor pulled up, followed by Sarah Page, the team’s archaeologist.
Sam continued to walk forward towards the light, when he heard a sound at the other end of the room. He stopped in his tracks, startled, hairs standing on end. The sound was like nothing he’d heard before, almost like a barking sound, but it certainly didn’t come from a dog.
“Hello?” he called out, in hope it was someone playing a trick. “Shane is that you? Come on, joke’s over” he continued, not sounding entirely convinced by his own words. Suddenly Sam heard an almighty crashing sound, he looked over and saw the rows of lockers were falling, one on top of the other, like a row of dominos that had been pushed over. Sam reacted quickly and jumped out of the room, heaving the door shut. It appeared to be just in the nick of time too, as something started banging on the door, letting out shrieking sounds that could not possibly have come from a human. Sam held the door shut with all the force he could, but his hands were shaking with fear and if whatever this was could knock down the lockers like that, he knew the door wouldn’t last much longer.
Cutter’s phone was beginning to feel like a hotline. He’d spoken to Jess on three occasions in the past five minutes, arranging someone to drop the tranquiliser guns, the black boxes and the anomaly locking device at the gym. Until they had this equipment, the team were basically helpless. They simply had to ensure the place was empty and nothing could get out. Furthermore, Jenny had been gone a while now. A few people had walked past Cutter on the way out but no word from Jenny, and he was starting to feel worried, especially as her phone went straight to voicemail.
“She’s been gone too long” he said.
“No time to waste, let’s go” Sarah replied. The others shared the sentiment, having lost enough team members in the past already.
“Can someone call Jess and let her know? I’m really starting to miss the black boxes…” Cutter requested.
“On it” Connor reacted promptly, whipping out his phone.
The door was starting to be torn apart now, and Sam was realising that holding the handle shut was becoming increasingly useless. In the spur of the moment, he decided to make a run for it. His legs had never moved faster, all he could think about was getting out alive, his plans for a quiet evening at home were now a distant memory. He heard the door being smashed down just seconds later, then looked behind, and saw the most terrifying creature. It was a mix of black and white in colour, stood on two legs, and covered in blue feathers that were stood on end. It noticed Sam running, widened its mouth as it eyed up its prey, and began running after him. Sam ran round the corner, not really looking where he was going because he couldn’t take his eyes off the creature chasing him. He ran into someone, almost knocking her over.
“Excuse me, you need to get out…” she started to tell Sam, but he cut her off.
“Listen to me, we need to run, NOW!” he shouted and took off again. The woman followed him, knowing full well what he might be running from.
“Name?” she asked while they ran, still managing to remain matter of fact in the situation.
“Jenny” she smiled.
The team stood in the lobby of the gym. There were two corridors leading past the reception area – one to the pool and one to the main gym area and staff locker room.
“We need to split up, Abby and Connor, you head upstairs, Sarah and I will check down here” Cutter ordered, and the team parted ways in order to find Jenny. Sarah and Cutter started walking towards the pool.
“You do think she’ll be OK, won’t she?” Sarah was worried for her friend. Jenny had been there for her in tough times in the past, she couldn’t bear the thought of losing her.
“Jenny’s a grown woman, she can take care of herself” Cutter calmly answered.
“True, I mean, she’s seen off enough terrible choices in men over the years to deal with a dinosaur” Sarah laughed.
Jenny and Sam were panting for breath while they ran. The creature was closing the gap rapidly. Sam spotted a fire extinguisher. He stopped running and picked it up and chucked it at the beast. THWACK! Right in the face. It stopped for a second but ultimately it just made it angrier.
“Come on!” Jenny yelled. The two of them ran into the main gym area and shut the door, barricading themselves in.
Sarah and Cutter were walking along the poolside, looking for any clues that might lead to them finding the anomaly and/or Jenny. For what felt like the eightieth time today, Cutter’s ringtone began playing.
“Got any updates Jess? Where’s the anomaly?” Cutter immediately asked.
“It’s on the ground floor, in the staff locker room. Any sign of Jenny?”
“Not yet, we’re working on it, are the tranquilisers on their way?”
“They left ten minutes ago, should be with you any second”
“Thanks Jess” Cutter smiled as he ended the call, genuinely appreciative of Jess’ efforts. “Let’s wait outside for the equipment.”
Abby and Connor were carefully investigating the upstairs area. There wasn’t much there, just a coffee shop and a couple of larger rooms to accommodate kids’ parties. Connor found a party popper on the floor and popped it, with Abby giving him a glare afterwards.
“What? Think of that as a practice run for the confetti at our wedding” he joked.
“Wasn’t your wedding to Mia a practice run?” Abby smiled.
“I guess the entire relationship was a practice run of sorts”
“Have you spoken to her since the divorce?” Abby asked, the tone becoming more serious.
“Nope, I think she’s found a new fella. Good on her” Connor was sincere in his words, his break-up with Mia had been a long-time coming by the time it happened just six months ago but he’d hoped to remain friends with her.
“Let’s hope she’s a bit less jealous this time, for her own sake” Abby was also sincere, recalling the days of when she and Mia used to fight. They had resurfaced in more recent times, as it became apparent that Abby had more of a connection with Connor than Mia ever had.
Their heart to heart was interrupted by the sound of a crash behind the coffee counter. The duo looked over and saw a mess across the counter, but nothing else. Abby started to walk over but Connor stopped her.
“It could be Jenny, she might be injured” Abby explained.
“Yeah… but what if it’s a dinosaur? How are we gonna deal with it? Party popper-it to death?” Connor worried.
“We’ll think of something, we normally do” Abby reassured him, and continued to move slowly towards the coffee counter. She spotted the top of a creature’s head side-on behind the counter, one eye looking directly at her. She stopped in her tracks, and looked over her shoulder, hoping Connor could offer some advice, but he was nowhere to be seen.
Sam and Jenny had locked themselves in the main gym area, with gym equipment lumped in front of the door. Finally they were able to catch their breath back, so they sat down on the floor.
“What was that thing?” Sam queried.
“Nothing for you to worry about” Jenny remained professional, remembering that her job within the team was public relations.
“But it was a creature… It almost killed me, don’t you think I have a right to know?” Sam pushed for an answer. Jenny sighed, realising he was in it too deep now. Sam continued, “I saw a light, in the locker room, a glowing white light”.
“An anomaly” Jenny gave in and explained, “it’s a portal in time, this creature, called a raptor, came through from a prehistoric time”.
“Do you think I’m stupid?” despite everything, Sam didn’t believe her.
“Believe what you want but I think the visual evidence is pretty hard to deny” Jenny retaliated. She took her phone out of her pocket. “Phone’s dead. Great.”
“How are we gonna get out of here?” the worry was taking over in Sam’s mind.
“I’ve got friends here, they’ll find us, don’t worry”
“Who actually are you though? Why do you know about all this?”
“Sam, just trust me, we’re gonna be fine” Jenny smiled. Sam felt strangely reassured despite not actually getting an answer to this question.
“Hold on, where’s the raptor gone?” Sam asked, only just realising that it wasn’t banging on the door.
Abby started to back away from the coffee counter. She took small steps, one at a time, knowing that any sudden movements would ensure the raptor sees her as a threat. Abby was focusing so much on being quiet that she wasn’t looking where she was going, and tripped over a chair leg that was sticking out. CRASH! Abby fell to the floor. The raptor noticed this instantly and jumped over the counter. It stood over her, its huge mouth getting closer to Abby. She was terrified and frantically thinking of her way out, when she heard a familiar voice from the other end of the room.
The raptor turned around and hissed. Abby looked over and saw Connor, holding some of the coloured balls from the kids’ ball pool round the corner. He pelted one right at the raptor, hitting it on the head. Abby stood up and noticed her phone ringing. She saw it was Cutter and answered it, while Connor continued to chuck the balls at the Raptor.
“Abby, the equipment just arrived, the anomaly’s in the staff locker room” Cutter explained. Connor was running out of balls to throw, so Abby ended the call, picked one up off the floor and threw it at the raptor again. It turned around to face her.
“Come on then” Abby said before she ran down the stairs. The raptor followed it in hot pursuit, with Connor trailing behind. Abby continued to run. She knew exactly where she was heading – the locker room. When she got there, she saw the door had already been basically destroyed, so she climbed through what was left of the door and hid at the other end of the room. The raptor followed her in and went straight through the anomaly, gone. Connor arrived seconds later.
“Where’s it gone?” he enquired.
“Back through. Let’s just hope it doesn’t turn back around and come running. Let’s get the anomaly locker from Cutter” Abby answered.
Sam and Jenny removed the barricades from the door and opened it a fraction. They both peeped out through the gap, and there was no sign of the raptor.
“Let’s go” Jenny added. They made a run for it towards the exit. This alerted the raptor, which was just hiding around the corner. Sam and Jenny made it out into the lobby area, just as Abby and Connor walked back to meet Cutter and Sarah.
“Run!” Jenny yelled at them, as they turned around to see an angry raptor approaching. They all sprinted for the entrance.
“That door is automatic, it won’t hold it in” Sam panted.
“No worries, we’ve got reinforcements” Jenny replied, just as Cutter came into view, holding a tranquiliser gun. BANG! He fired it at the raptor, but it missed. BANG! A second shot fired, but the raptor was moving too fast for the shot to be accurate. BANG! Once again, the dart missed, but the raptor was beginning to realise it was in danger, and turned around in a flash, running back towards the main gym area.
“Are you all OK?” Cutter asked.
“No broken bones” Connor replied. He then turned to Abby. “So the raptor came back through?”
“What do you mean?” Jenny was confused.
“It attacked us upstairs, I got it back through the anomaly but it obviously wandered straight back here again. No surprise, we couldn’t lock the anomaly after all” Abby added.
“No, that can’t be possible, it’s been on our scent the entire time” corrected Jenny.
“So there’s more than one?” Sarah was taking all of this in. Sam on the other hand was feeling a bit overwhelmed. He stood quietly, nobody really taking any notice of him.
“Must be. But why didn’t our one come back through? It seemed pretty hungry, raiding the coffee shop” Connor queried.
“No idea. We can investigate but we need to equip ourselves first. Everyone grab a black box and a tranq gun. Connor, you take the anomaly locker, we need to stop any further creatures coming through” Cutter showed his authority by giving directions to the others. As he did this, he noticed Sam stood there, on the verge of tears. “What’s your name?”
“Sam… Sam Dunbar. I work here” Sam stuttered on his words as he spoke.
“OK Sam, I’m gonna need you to stay here and keep quiet. You’ll be safe if you do this” Cutter tried to reassure him.
“I want to help” Sam replied, more defiant and sure of his words. “I looked that thing in the eye, I don’t want to sit back.”
Cutter reluctantly agreed, knowing he could do with all the help he could get. The team were about to start walking back into the gym to the anomaly when Jess started speaking to them via their black boxes.
“Hold on, the anomaly signal stopped about five minutes ago, must’ve been right after yours went through Abby” Jess explained, straight to the point. They ran to check it out, and sure enough, as they reached the locker room, there was just an empty space.
“So what do we do with the other one?” Connor worried.
“Catch it and keep it safe until a new anomaly opens to the Cretaceous. Although that would be too easy” Cutter smiled.
The team regrouped outside the gym, quickly learning their way around after the amount of times they’d been back and forth by this point. Sam sat on the floor next to the set of automatic doors. Jenny went and sat next to him.
“You tried to save my life in there. I should be grateful” she started.
“Should?” Sam questioned.
“Well you did risk your life when you stopped to throw the fire extinguisher. One false move and I’d be up to my eyes arranging a clean-up operation” Jenny joked.
“Sounds like I saved your life in more than one way” Sam was perking up.
After five minutes of discussion, Cutter had devised a plan.
“OK, we need to try and corner it. Raptors are incredibly fast and agile, and we’re gonna need to use the highest dose of tranquiliser we have. Equally, that means we really cannot miss if we fire” he explained.
“If we see it, where do we try and lure it?” Sarah asked.
“The staff locker room is the smallest room in the building, there’s less space for it to move around” Sam chipped in.
“Nice one, staff locker room it is” Cutter smiled, knowing Sam could prove to be an invaluable asset going forward. “Now we need to split up again, the same teams as last time would be great – Abby and Connor, you head back upstairs, Sarah and I will check out the pool, and Jenny and Sam, you can check out the gym. Jess, keep an eye on the CCTV and guide us.”
“Will do, although it’s hard to track when it moves this fast and the CCTV coverage in the gym is pretty weak” Jess replied via the black box communication system.
“Oh, they’ve been meaning to improve that for ages” Sam added, almost sounding apologetic.
“Right, let’s go” Cutter terminated the conversation and everyone moved into place.
It was starting to get late at this point. The clock was ticking past midnight, and Sam was getting tired. He was normally tucking himself into bed at this point, not chasing a prehistoric creature. He yawned, politely covering his mouth as he did so.
“I know how you feel” Jenny commented. They were hovering around the main gym area, and not much was happening. The raptor wasn’t anywhere to be seen.
“Do your family know what you do?” Sam questioned.
“My sister does. Well, I say sister, it’s complicated, but yes, she knows. She used to work with us, but she was asked to step in as a permanent emergency replacement at the Home Office. My other sister runs another ARC further north, so you could say it’s in the family” Jenny was opening up to Sam, for what felt like the first time she’d done so in ages.
“Do you worry about them? I mean, this has to be pretty dangerous” Sam interrogated further, keen to know more.
“All the time. You’re right, it’s very dangerous. That’s why you need to keep it a secret. We’re doing everyone else a favour by keeping them away from the anomalies and the creatures” Jenny was speaking both from PR and personal perspectives.
“I don’t really have many family anyway” Sam opened up too, “and I don’t see much of my friends, my job is quite all-consuming.”
“Perhaps we can find you a new job” Jenny smiled. Sam knew exactly what she was hinting at.
Sarah and Cutter were back at the poolside. They were walking along to the opposite end, where the changing rooms were located. The changing rooms led back through to the main lobby area. The lights remained off, and the only light came from the reflection of the moon onto the pool itself.
“Is it me or are swimming pools really eerie when they’re empty?” Sarah pondered aloud. She changed subject after a few seconds of silence. “What do you make of Sam?”
“I think he’s a bright young man, confident, and very determined” Cutter replied.
“We could certainly do with an extra pair of hands” hinted Sarah. Just as she finished that sentence, they heard a tip-tap along the cold tiled floor. They stopped in their tracks, slightly scared.
“Cutter, Sarah, the raptor just went the swimming pool” Jess informed them. Slowly, they both turned around, and the raptor was staring right at them.
“We need to take it through the changing rooms” Sarah whispered.
“Slowly move towards them, we need to get off the slippery floor” Cutter was wary, the floor was wet of course and if they slipped when the raptor was that close behind, it would be bad news. He then spoke into the comms, “we’ve found it Jess, tell the others to meet at the locker room.”
The duo slowly backed away, the changing rooms were a matter of metres away. The raptor moved slowly with them, not wanting to make the first sudden move. The second they got round the corner of the changing room, they picked up the pace. The raptor followed them and gave chase when it spotted them running. Past the showers, past the cubicles, and straight down to the front entrance. Sarah tried pushing on the door, but it wouldn’t shift. Cutter noticed there was a keycard pad next to the door.
“Jess, the door is locked, you need to open it for us” Cutter spoke quietly but firmly.
“Give me two seconds, I need to get past the system” Jess replied.
“As fast as you can” Cutter was starting to panic. Sarah was continuing to heave on the door but it wasn’t any use. The raptor was approaching the corner. Cutter looked it straight in the eye. It was hungry and approaching them more slowly now, eyeing up its prey. Just as it was within touching distance, the keypad flashed green and the door came loose. Sarah and Cutter ran straight out and towards the locker room, with the raptor just a couple of metres behind. When they arrived at the locker room, the others were already there.
“Get back!” yelled Cutter. The others stood away, and he alone ran into the locker room as bait to capture it. Once he was in, Connor chucked him a tranquiliser gun. Cutter caught it and got ready to fire. He was stood against the opposite wall, with the others watching, blocking the door and giving the raptor no room to escape. It was panicking a tad, in the confined space, and was moving around like crazy. Cutter was about to fire when THWACK! The raptor’s tail hit Jenny’s head as it flew around. She collapsed to the floor, knocked out. Sam dropped to his knees next to Jenny and checked her out.
“Get out, it’s panicking and I can’t shoot it when it’s this erratic” Cutter commanded to his team. Everyone evacuated the room apart from Sam, who was tending to Jenny. The raptor started to eye up Sam.
“Give it here” Sam confidently shouted to Cutter. Cutter understood and slid the tranquiliser across the floor. Sam picked it up in an instant and fired it at the approaching raptor. BANG! Straight in the mouth. The creature stopped in its tracks for a couple of seconds, unsure of what had happened, before collapsing on the floor. Cutter breathed a sigh of relief but Sam wasted no time before tending to Jenny.
“She’s alive but unconscious” Sam informed Cutter as he walked over to them.
“The tail was moving erratically, I should’ve seen it coming. I’ll call an ambulance” Cutter was calm and collected, the opposite of Sam who was shaking a tad.
“I’m first aid trained, l can save her” Sam spoke confidently but deep inside he was worried. He hadn’t had to use his first aid training before, and the training itself was several years ago. Nevertheless, he knew he had to help Jenny, and tried recalling the recovery position in his mind. Cutter stood back and made the call to the emergency services, the wheels ticking over in his mind as he did so…
Sam spent the next few days at home. The gym was closed while the clear-up operation took place, and Cutter told him that he had to be debriefed on the situation, so he was awaiting the details. Jenny was taken to hospital and spent the night there as a precaution, before returning to work two days after with nothing more than mild concussion. He’d spent the entire time pondering the whole situation and everything that happened, sometimes even questioning whether it even happened. Six days after the Sam got a text from Jenny. It was the de-brief details, ready for 11am the following day.
Jenny met Sam at the gates of her workplace the next day. She allowed him security clearance past the barriers and once he’d parked his car, she escorted him through the building.
“You saved my life again. You’re making a habit of this” Jenny joked as she walked.
“Why am I here?” Sam’s mind was in overdrive and wasn’t in the mood for small talk. They both stepped into an escalator and Jenny pressed a button.
“Like you were told, to be debriefed” Jenny wasn’t giving anything away. They remained silent until the lift stopped. Jenny walked out first, and Sam followed. His nerves and scepticism stopped as he walked out and saw the room he was now in. He saw a glass both for an office to his left, and straight ahead, down some about four steps, was an area bristling with scientists and researchers.
“This is the Anomaly Research Centre, or the ARC for short” Jenny explained.
“It’s...incredible” Sam was amazed. He looked all around, seeing the workplaces filled with research, and a super-computer of sorts at the tail end of the room. He smiled at Sarah, Abby and Connor who were positioned at the workplaces. He then noticed a young girl spin round in her chair at the computer and daintily run up to them both.
“Hi, you must be Sam! I’m Jess, nice to meet you” Jess smiled, being as friendly as possible. Sam tried to formulate a reply but was stopped dead in his tracks.
“Samuel Dunbar. 28 years old, personal trainer, average GCSE results” came a deep male voice from behind. Sam spun round and saw a man in his early 50s dressed in a smart suit holding a clipboard with a sheet of paper attached. He continued “I’m James Lester, head of the anomaly operation here at the ARC. I hear you saw everything that happened at the gym last week.”
“Yeah, I saw that creature right in front of me. W-when is this debrief happening?” Sam stumbled over his words.
“No need to be so worried. I’ve heard good things about you Sam, not least from Jenny. They’ve all been singing your praises for the past week” Lester explained further. Sam blushed as he looked at Jenny, and Cutter who had just arrived.
“We’d love to have you join our team here at the ARC” Cutter continued. Sam was speechless, he didn’t quite know how to reply.
“I must stress, pay is little above minimum wage and you’ll need the patience of a saint to be dealing with Connor on a daily basis” Lester chirped in. Cutter and Jenny smiled, while Connor remained oblivious at his workplace a few metres back.
“Will it always be this dangerous?” Sam asked.
“Yes” Cutter was firm and honest with his answer, “but with your first aid skills and courage, lives could be saved. Are you in?”
Sam took a couple of moments to think. Jess looked at him with a friendly smile, nudging him along.
“OK, I’m in” Sam finally answered.
“Excellent! I’ll show you to your workplace, and give you your ID card, and your computer login” Jess wasted no time in stealing Sam away and dragging him by his arm towards the anomaly detector.
“You realise we can barely afford another team member right now?” Lester spoke privately to Cutter and Jenny.
“It’s not about the money. He was excellent in the field and we need someone like him” Jenny explained.
“I trust you won’t let me down” Lester waltzed back off to his office at the top of the stairs.
Cutter and Jenny were left in the middle of the main operations room.
“Finally, it feels like we’re getting back to normal” Jenny commented.
“When are things ever normal around here?” Cutter laughed, before walking off. Jenny smiled to herself.