The Bite of the Raptor
As the tropical rain falls in the village of Bahìa Anasco on the west coast of Costa Rica, Roberta Carter sighs and watches from the clinic window. She came here to spend two months as a visiting physician and expected to find sun and some relaxation after spending two years in an emergency medicine residency at Chicago’s Michael Reese Hospital. Instead, it has rained every day of the three weeks she has been here.
Costa Rica has one of the most advanced medical systems in the world and the clinic is clean and well supplied. Manuel Aragòn, her paramedic, is intelligent and well trained, so the level of medicine she practices here is the same as in Chicago. They hear a helicopter hovering above the clinic, looking for a place to land. The chopper belongs to InGen, the construction company which is building a resort on an island more than a hundred miles offshore. Once it lands on the beach, two black crewmen carry a stretcher and a red-headed white man in a yellow raincoat and red Mets cap accompanies it. He introduces himself as Ed Regis and says the man on the stretcher is very sick. Carter suggests they fly another twenty minutes to San Jose, the capital city, but they cannot fly over the mountains because of the weather.
The patient is an eighteen-year-old-boy with a gaping slash on both his shoulder and his leg. He is unconscious, and Regis believes the boy will probably die. His wounds suggest that the boy was somehow mauled, as his shoulder and leg are both ripped open to the bone. When asked about it, Regis says he did not see the accident but was told a backhoe ran over the boy. Back in Chicago, Carter saw a child who had been attacked by a rottweiler and a circus performer who was attacked by a Bengal tiger. Animal attacks have a distinctive look, and that is what she sees in this boy’s wounds. When she says so, Regis is nervous and edgy, insisting it was a construction injury.
A closer examination reveals no dirt in the wounds, just an unusual froth which seems like saliva and a rotten stench, the smell of “death and decay.” Regis leaves and Aragòn refuses to help after the boy sits up and repeats the word raptor. The natives are superstitious about hupia, vampire-like ghosts who kill children at night.
The boy’s hands are covered with cuts and scratches, typical of defensive wounds, and Carter takes pictures. Suddenly the boy sits up, vomits blood several times, and goes into convulsions before dying. When Aragòn calls him, Regis quickly reenters the room. He says he is sure Carter did all she could and then takes the boy and leaves immediately in the helicopter. Later, Carter realizes her camera is gone and, curious, she looks up the word raptor. It is a bird of prey.
First Iteration: Almost Paradise Summary
In Dallas, thirty-year-old Ellen Bowman convinces her husband to take their daughter, eight-year-old Christina, to Costa Rica. Her husband Mike, a real estate developer, eventually agrees to go for a two-week vacation. Once they arrive, however, Ellen reveals her true motivation to come to the tropical nation: the cheap plastic surgery in luxurious private clinics. This deceit infuriates Mike; he refuses to comply with her wishes. The couple has a significant fight over the matter.
Mike drives a Land Rover through the Cabo Blanco Biological Reserve, admiring the gorgeous views of the Pacific from the road at the top of a cliff. It seems as if perhaps his vacation has finally begun. Both Ellen and Tina wonder if they are on the right road, but Mike assures them this is the way to the secluded beach they want to find, though they have not seen another vehicle in fifteen minutes.
As the Land Rover descends, a “small, black shape” flashes across the road and into the jungle. From the back seat, Tina shrieks and her mother wonders if it was perhaps a squirrel monkey, different from the howler monkeys that are common in the area. Tina wants to add it to the list of animals she has seen on her trip, but Mike is not certain...
(The entire section is 25,784 words.)