With absolutely no warning, the dune thresher violently broke the surface, all three scavengers caught in his horrifying maw. There was a massive explosion of sand as the thresher dove back into the ground with its prize. The ropes immediately snapped taut, and I thought Burroughs would be pulled to his death. I didn’t understand how he thought he could reel in a monster that huge, but he wasn’t even trying â€“ just holding on.
After several tense seconds that stretched towards eternity, the rope began making weird jerking motions.
“Ah. The little buggers are doing their work.” He smiled a ghastly smile. “Shouldn’t be long now.”
A few more moments of this strangeness passed, and the thrashing of the ropes became less and less. Finally, he began to haul his catch in. When it was partially on the rocks, I could see what had happened. The thresher had swallowed the scavengers whole, and they, in turn, had begun eating their way out of the thresher’s stomach before the beast’s digestive juices had killed them. One scavenger still clung to life, but barely. It had actually dug itself halfway out of the thresher, clawing at the air as its skin was slowly eaten away. I vomited.
Burroughs, laughing at me once again as he cut off the beast’s triangular head, began lecturing me on the amazing dune thresher: the dynamics of its jutting, angular lower jaw, which cuts a path through the soil; the way this jaw design enables the thresher to swim effortlessly beneath the sand with unimaginable swiftness; and much more that I didn’t care to hear just then. I nodded my head weakly and wondered how long it would be before I could politely get myself home and crawl into bed.
One scavenger still clung to life, but barely. It had actually dug itself halfway out of the thresher, clawing at the air as its skin was slowly eaten away. I vomited.”