Be a Thunder, Release a Roar

(“Roar” by Rhiannon R-S)

Be a Thunder, Release a Roar

by Osahon Ize-Iyamu

It’s January 2028 and young Uwaila watches the TV, fixated at what’s right in front of her. The dinosaurs appear with a mighty boom, with feet that hit the earth like a rumble. They make everything look so small, all humans look so little, make everybody afraid. They hold a certain kind of power Uwaila needs, a roar and gentleness that makes them perfect to watch.

Everybody Uwaila knows has a powerful thing. Her mother has pepper spray, which she used on the annoying cash register man last week when he was being too handsy. Uwaila’s aunty has a big umbrella, one the woman uses when anybody says something offensive or inappropriate. These things become part of them, their signatures, their partners in crime. Uwaila can associate them all to their tools of power, so where is hers?

She asks her mother.

“It can be anything but a gun—or, well, any war weapon. Just nothing too dangerous. You know what I’m saying, right baby?”

Uwaila nods. She doesn’t know what her mother’s saying but she finds it easier to nod, to say nothing, to agree. Mummy fiddles around her room, looking for an exercise DVD, before looking back at Uwaila.

“Anyway, how’s school, baby?”

Uwaila finds it easier to nod, to say nothing, to say, “It is well.”

It is not.

Uwaila has a laboratory. She has a small room, dedicated for her time, for her projects, for her attention. She rubs her fingers and looks at the space in front of her, the room around her.

She won a government competition called Kid Genius last year and the grand prize was this—her own personal scientist space. Every time she needs something, she just writes a letter to the director asking for equipment. Sometimes they dispatch workers to help her. She won’t say she doesn’t like bossing people around.

So what’s she creating in the lab today?

At school—

School sucks being a young smart girl like her, small and reduced, small and insulted, despised, constantly being put in boxes. Boys keep trying to shrink her. Teachers keep asking her why she wants to be an engineer and not a doctor. Nobody wants to sit with her. Nobody likes her.

It’s not fair because she’s exactly like other girls who are smart and capable too, but she won Kid Genius and they didn’t, and now she’s ostracized. And now everywhere Uwaila goes a sea of hisses follow her, a crowd of malice overwhelms her.

Everywhere in Primary School, alone.

So what’s Uwaila going to do?

She sends the letter off to the Kid Genius director, waits patiently for his reply. She watches dinosaurs one more time—long necked, big teeth, up bodies, large size.

So what’s she going to do?

She keeps watching—large print of leg on the ground, face that fills up the screen, heads that shoot out, frames that stand out, big and not afraid. Stepping above all that’s small.

So what’s she going to do?

She’s gonna rise above.

As if on cue, the director hits her with a “got it!” and a smiley face projects from her email. It fills her heart.

Kid Genius will soon start again and Uwaila’s school has filled up with students at work—constantly twisting gears, not sleeping. Mummy always said that while this competition has good intentions, it is very messed up for little children to be in this game.

Uwaila’s starting to see the effect now.

She can see mothers feeding their sons energy drink after energy drink, leading the boys to run around the room, hyper, then crash to the ground. Uwaila can see mothers shouting at daughters, pointing in Uwaila’s direction, shouting at the girls to say, “Does she have two heads?”

She can see a problem starting to go on.

Uwaila gets her ordered parts on a Tuesday, in a nice little box. Following that box is a nice Itsekiri man named David, and a small Calabar man named Peace. They are both very friendly and sent from Kid Genius, and here to help.

She shows them her plans.

“You can’t be serious,” Peace says loudly.

She is.

“And Director allowed this?”

He did.

They get to work.

Uwaila steps into school and sees a girl, Fatima, crying, struggling with a robot. It looks thrown in pieces, scattered. It looks like it was destroyed in frustration. Fatima looks hopeless.

“I can help you,” Uwaila’s shouts, excited. “You just need to coordinate the—”

“No no no no no no,” Fatima’s Mother comes rushing into the scene, placing hands on her hips, angry, furious. “Fatima is very intelligent. She can do this by herself.”

Uwaila tries to say something, but doesn’t. She stays silent, she nods, she agrees.

She sits alone.

Two people walk up to her.

“We heard you wanted to do Kid Genius this year again?” The the two children say at the same time.

“No, I already won last—”

“We know you won last year, stop saying it! Pride comes before a fall, humble yourself, Uwaila. It could have been a fluke then.”

Uwaila doesn’t stay silent this time. “Oh, well maybe I’m running again.”

The two children burn with rage. “That’s selfishness! No wonder nobody likes you!”

And then they run away.

Uwaila works all night. She burns her rage into machines. She keeps on hammering, keeps on spinning, keeps on working. She’s more than just a one time thing.

What’s she gonna do now?

So picture this: the day of the performance, and Kid Genius comes to Bright Minds Grammar School, ready to evaluate. The grass is cut, the school looks good, freshly painted red, the thick coat dripping down the walls. Students stand by the playground area, ready to unveil their inventions.

And then they hear a sound.

A foot drops mightily down on earth and breaks the soil. A weight hits the ground, fills the place with panic. A loud roars comes through, primal and metallic, screeching and angry, painful and enraged.

Everyone looks up.

And it’s just Uwaila. It’s just her—she’s fitted herself with a roar, with a shield, with metal plates on her arms, shoulders, legs. Her body is like a puzzle, her mech joining together to form a dinosaur.

Uwaila is a dinosaur. A Tyrannosaurus rex, loud and roaring, metal interlocking plates fusing, and soon she doesn’t look herself, not to anyone. She activates a booster and propels spirals to lift her up, make her taller. She has everyone’s attention.

“This is what I can create, what I can make,” she tells the Kid Genius judges. “But as a winner of this competition, I can’t say this competition is right. Changes need to be made, and I am going to make sure the Director knows. Children are suffering just to be great. And it’s killing them. And it’s killing me. So even this school has to do better, because I’m not the enemy. I’m just a dinosaur.”

Uwaila walks away, roaring, stepping, weight in her throat gone. Everyone just looks at her, no words.

Uwaila wakes up the next morning to see a dozen emails projecting in front of her. Some are from parents insulting her, asking who she thinks she is, berating her. Some are news channels asking for a detailed story, wanting a narrative.

Most are conversations in the waiting, asking her on how to do better, on what to do next.

© Osahon Ize-Iyamu 2018
1,250 words
May 11th, 2018

Osahon Ize-Iyamu lives in Nigeria, where he writes speculative fiction. He has been published in Clarkesworld and The Dark and is a graduate of the 2017 Alpha Writers Workshop. You can find him online @osahon4545


A queer illustrator and writer, Rhiannon R-S works with juxtaposition and layering, especially comparing and contrasting humanity with elements of monstrosity and phantasm. Find their work at and @charibdys on Twitter.

Scene break illustrated dinosaurs are by Kelsey Liggett!

Five Functions of Your Bionosaur

(illustration by Rhiannon R-S)

Five Functions of Your Bionosaur

by Rachael K. Jones


Your parents first activate your bionosaur when they bring you home from the hospital. The bionosaur was a baby shower gift from your mom’s favorite aunt. They were nervous about its size, the stainless steel maw, the retractable razorclaws inside its stubby little arms, but the aunt had insisted. She’d programmed it herself, covered its titanium-alloy skeleton in top-grade synthskin featherscales, and pre-loaded it with educational apps.

When your bionosaur’s eyes first flare to life, it scans tiny, squalling you and reaches out a stubby claw to rock you. When it starts humming a jazzy rendition of the Batman theme, you quiet down and sleep.

Your bionosaur can differentiate between hunger-cries and dirty-diaper-cries. When your parents realize this, they call up the aunt and apologize for doubting. But your bionosaur just keeps singing, its glowing red eyes fixed upon you like you’re the center of all gravity, the origin of its universe.

One thing your great-aunt forgot to mention: bionosaurs imprint for life.


The bionosaur first uses its claws when you are six, and a speeding car swerves onto the sidewalk while you’re squatting down making chalk drawings. Your bionosaur darts out, faster than you’ve ever seen it move before, faster than you knew it could move, and rams the car’s passenger side in time to change its trajectory. It takes off your bionosaur’s thick left leg and swerves into the mailbox. You scream and scream. Your bionosaur tries to crawl to your side to comfort you, but pale fluid spews from its burst hydraulics system until it flops in desperate electric circles.

Mom and Dad send your bionosaur off for repairs. You don’t sleep that week. You’ve always known the weight of your bionosaur’s chin on your feet, the warmth of its battery pulsing through your blanket while it charges.

When your parents bring your bionosaur back from the repair shop, you’re shy around it. You’ve lived one whole week, and the bionosaur wasn’t there to share it with you. You never knew that could happen.

You wonder if it was scared, too.

When its chin rests on your feet that night, warm and comforting, you stroke the synthskin featherscales on its tail and wonder what it thought when that car roared around the corner, how it felt when the impact sheared off its leg, and where bionosaurs go when they die.


Dating is hard with a bionosaur. You have to keep explaining why you’re leaving it home alone while you go out with a stranger. Guys tend to freak when you’re making out and they spot your bionosaur looking on watchfully, its stainless steel teeth gleaming—even when you explain the teeth are just for show.

Eventually you figure out how to interface your bionosaur with your dating app. It learns to put on a pot of coffee when you’re on the way home. One or two mugs, depending.

As for you? You learn to stop apologizing for the bionosaur. Guys who take potshots at the poor old thing never stick around long anyway. It becomes your unofficial test. You can always tell whether someone really loves you by how easily they accept the deepest parts of you.


Your bionosaur has kept you awake for the third night in a row. Its battery isn’t holding a charge well, and it’s not auto-docking correctly, so the battery beeps every five seconds. You have to get out of bed to click the connection into the socket again and again. “Piece of trash,” you mutter. In the morning, you idly browse scrap websites and wonder what you might get for your bionosaur.

That night, you throw up on the way home from work. You puke again on the bathroom floor just short of the toilet. You crawl to the couch with a trash can, flu-ridden, and shiver beneath a pile of blankets, your stomach heaving up all the water you drink until it’s just heaving itself, a slick of bile following each time.

You wake up later when a warm, heavy weight rests on your feet. The puke has been cleaned from the trash can, and a tray perches on the coffee table with hot chamomile tea and some cheese crackers.

Your bionosaur’s battery beeps some more. It fetches you some orange juice—slowly, because it’s low on power. Together you fall asleep on the couch.

You don’t really notice the beeping after a while.


They don’t update your bionosaur anymore. It went obsolete years back. You comb bidding sites for the odd replacement part, an LCD, replacement gaskets. It’s only got the one eye now, and its stubby little arms click and squeal as it slowly shuffles around your kitchen, making you coffee. Its last remaining synthskin featherscales fall out one spring after it dashes through the rain to collect the mail.

Your spouse gently suggests it’s time to let it go, but you’re not ready for that.

The day comes when you bring home your own blanket-wrapped baby, place her in the crib, and introduce her to your—her—bionosaur.

Its single eye flares red. It reaches out a stuttering arm to rock her. It hums that jazzy Batman theme.

That’s when you know you won’t get rid of your bionosaur, that it will never be obsolete. Because you always believed in your heart of hearts those teeth weren’t just for show. Because you’ve got a whole notebook full of drawings of Bionosaur Heaven, and all of them include you. Because all it ever wanted was for you to need it.

Because bionosaurs aren’t the only ones that imprint for life.

© 2018 by Rachael K. Jones
952 words
May 4th, 2018

photo courtesy of Rachael JonesRachael K. Jones grew up in various cities across Europe and North America, picked up (and mostly forgot) six languages, and acquired several degrees in the arts and sciences. Now she writes speculative fiction in Portland, Oregon. Her debut novella, Every River Runs to Salt, will be out with Fireside Fiction in late 2018. Contrary to the rumors, she is probably not a secret android. Rachael is a World Fantasy Award nominee and Tiptree Award honoree. Her fiction has appeared in dozens of venues worldwide, including Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, and PodCastle. Follow her on Twitter @RachaelKJones.

A queer illustrator and writer, Rhiannon R-S works with juxtaposition and layering, especially comparing and contrasting humanity with elements of monstrosity and phantasm. Find their work at and @charibdys on Twitter.