Ben leads the boy to the pond where the dinosaur sleeps. The creaking of their bicycles is distinct amidst the silence of Mayne Street. Ben knows the pond isn't really a pond, that it's a crater left by the destruction of the Cooke residence. It's also the home of the hungry thing that lives below its surface.
The air here is heavy with rot. The taste of stale water hangs on the tongue, and lingers in the nostrils. The abandoned demolition site came to be known as Cooke's Crater. Until water filtering in from a source unknown began to fill it's depths. The gaping hole left by the Tudor's destruction became something new, something that the town of Sheridan now accepted as a pond, Cooke's Pond.
Before the water, the subterranean levels falling deep into the earth were clear to see. Astounded adults and curious children would gather at the site to count the layers beneath street level. Never getting close enough to peer into the crater and witness it's true depth.
Ben likes the pond, the black mirror surface and swampy smell of decay. He likes all things dark and strange. It's a boundless source of torment at the hands of others, his love for the weird. It makes him an easy target for bullies. Even his mom and dad talk to him in a cautionary, distant manner. But, he doesn't want to stop liking the things other kids called creepy. He only wants everyone to stop punishing him for it.
Ben likes the dinosaur most of all, the Spinosaurus. He knows the Spinosaurus is the largest known predator to ever to walk the earth, and spends most of its time in the water. He also knows that what's in the pond isn't really a dinosaur, but he just learned about the Spinosaurus in science class, and it's the only thing that he can compare it to.
He likes it because it eats bullies. Not all the bullies, some don't follow Ben's promise of protection money. But the greedy ones do, and they get what they deserve.
Michael Peckman got what he deserved. And even though Ben felt sorry for Michael's crying mother when they fished his foot out of Cooke's Pond, he was happy that he could feed the dinosaur and get stop a bully at the same time.
Ben didn't need to bribe his latest tormentor, Jimmy Vera. Jimmy, not content with Ben's daily beatings, feeling he deserved more, threatened to make the beatings worse unless he was paid $5.00 a day. Now, he's followed Ben to the hidden money, impatiently awaiting his first payment. The bright orange fence that surrounds the site gives it a dangerous appearance. But Ben never feels in danger. The dinosaur is his friend, sort of. Although, he does wonder what would happen if he stood too close to edge of the pond. But he had no need to, no matter how many bullies he led to the water, there were always more on the playground.
"So, where is it?" asked Jimmy. "You better not be lying to me you little shit."
"They put up a fence now," said Ben, getting off of his bike. "I had to hide it around back."
In the rear of the abandoned site, the fence has been cut and rolled back to give access to the pond. Thick willows line the perimeter of the water. This area is hidden from the street, and from the windows of the neighboring homes. Blackened tree limbs lay piled in a circle of stones. Aluminum cans and paper bags left behind from the beer parties, are strewn across the gravel between the wildflowers. But the creature stays below the surface, and never shows itself to anyone but Ben. He thinks it came here to help him, make the world stop pushing him around, and putting him down. It must have heard his prayers.
"It's at the edge of the pond," Ben tells Jimmy, "in an empty beer can."
The surface of the murky water begins to ripple, and then undulate as the older boy mills around, picking up cans, peering inside, then tossing them down.
Jimmy holds an empty can up to his eye and turns to let light break the dark inside.
"I think that's the one," Jimmy says, as he steps back, and his eyes watch the horror break the surface of the pond. Water cascades off the reptilian hulk as it ascends from the depths, its crocodilian eyes focused on its target.
Jimmy twists and bends, trying to catch the afternoon sun in the mouth of the can. The sound of something massive cutting the air makes Jimmy look up to see the open maw, and the rows of teeth. He turns his frightened eyes to Ben and emits a tiny squeak, before the snapping of jaws severs him at the waist. His torso-less legs wobble for a moment before the Spinosaurus lunges in for a second bite, finishing his meal.
But then, the creature does not disappear beneath the surface as it usually does. It stares at Ben, and a growl rumbles in its throat. Ben is scared, but also curious. It's as though it wants to come home with him. The boy takes a step back, and the dinosaur takes a step forward, out of the pond. Ben didn't think his friend would ever leave the pond. He knows now, the creature can help him. Maybe even rid Sheridan of all the bullies in one night, and then all the people who yell at him and call him a weirdo. Maybe he could even make his mom and dad love him.
Ben gets on his bike, and throws a look to his friend to follow, and as he makes his way home, thunder breaks the silence of Mayne street.