Read Along: Paradise Palms: Chapter 35
Girlfriend sat and stared out the window as Sam entered the foliage at the edge of the camp. He stepped slowly with his rifle held out in front of him. She’d seen him go off hunting and fishing before, but never had she even given it a second thought that he might be in danger. Myra sat on the bed while Lin and Tiger Lily sat at the small table. All were quiet and just waited. Girlfriend couldn’t stand the silence. She had to trust that Sam would be fine.
“Myra, are you sure you’re alright? Your car looks to be in really bad shape.”
Myra looked up, surprised that someone had said something. “Yes. Thank you. It wasn’t like I crashed into anything. Just that the front of my car disappeared and I was here, skidding to a stop. I thought I would feel something with time travel.” She laughed. “I’ve read so many books and it always sounded exciting. You know, the pull on your insides, the tingle on your skin. Things like that. It was quite anticlimactic. One moment I’m on a road in Minnesota, the next I’m here.”
Girlfriend sat on the bed next to Myra. “Any idea if that officer might still be out there?”
Myra shrugged. “I don’t know. I heard gunshots and screaming. I just don’t know. Sam’s right to go looking, I guess. I mean how will we know if he’s not still out there if someone doesn’t go and look?”
Lin leaned forward. “Do you think he’ll be alright out there? I mean, no one really knows what to expect.”
Myra smiled, “It’s just like anywhere else in the world. There’s always a chance of encountering something, but it’ll be a slim chance at best. It’s sort of like people who go on a safari to look at lions and elephants in the wild, and have to search for days before they find anything. I suspect this’ll be similar. Even though dinosaurs are bigger than an elephant, that doesn’t mean they’ll just appear when we want them too.”
“But, Girlfriend, do you think Sam can handle something that big?” Tiger Lily asked, her arms crossed over her chest as if she disapproved of the entire discussion. “I mean, sure he’s hunted deer and what not, but we’re talking about dealing with something far larger and more dangerous.”
Girlfriend didn’t want to think about that. She wanted to assume that Sam could handle anything that came his way, but Tiger Lily had a point. Sam had usually hunted something that would flee rather than fight back. Sure he’d gotten a few bear and had his trophies, but a dinosaur would be way out of his league, wouldn’t it? She didn’t want to give in to doubt. “Sam’s a hunter. I have every confidence in him to deal with any situation regarding animals. Size doesn’t matter.”
She laughed. They all laughed.
Tiger Lily said, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t say things like that. I’m just nervous and none of us have any idea what to expect in this place. I mean, are we really going to try and find Clive? He could be anywhere.”
“We’ve got the GPS device in the car. Finding him shouldn’t be difficult at all,” said Girlfriend.
“What do you mean, find Clive? Tell me again who Clive is?” Myra asked.
“It’s Doc Brenner’s son.” Girlfriend did her best to sum up their conversation with Doc and the time machine, and that Doc would only send them back if they would search for Clive and find out what’s happened to him. Myra nodded through most of it.
“So we’re going out there?” she asked, sounding a little excited. “I mean, really going out there to the field where the herds of hadrosaurs are?”
“If that’s the direction Clive took, then yes. That’s where we’ll be going.”
Myra got up and strode over to the window facing the plains. She put her hand up next to some of the writing. Girlfriend got up and stood next to her and read the words. “Herd #12: first affected” with an arrow pointing into the distance. She focused her eyes on the distant plains and the black spots out there.
“What is that?”
“As best as I can tell, it’s a herd of hadrosaurs.”
“It doesn’t look like any of them are moving. Kind of like cows that just stand around all day, huh?”
Myra shook her head. “I don’t think so. I think something is happening and that’s why Clive took off. He wanted to see first hand what is going on, or perhaps how far it extends.”
“You think they’re dying?”
“Could be. I hope not, but I think something, a disease perhaps, might be wiping out the herds.” Myra started crying.
Girlfriend put her arm around her. “But, isn’t this what was supposed to have happened to the dinosaurs? They all just died off?”
“Yes, but I had thought that coming back here, I’d be able to see them, close up. Research them. Look at them. Maybe even touch them. I don’t know. It’s like a girlhood dream gone wrong.”
Something crashed in the woods.
“What was that?” Tiger Lily said, and she jumped up and opened the front door.
“Close the door!” Girlfriend yelled. “We can see from the window.”
All four stood and stared out the window and waited. An unnatural stillness came over the woods. The first thing close to silence they’d had since arriving. Girlfriend stared and waited. Whatever had made that crash had to be huge. Was he alright? Was it even near Sam? What was it? Girlfriend rubbed her forehead.
“I guess I was wrong,” Myra said. “I guess there is something nearby. I wonder if this cabin has attracted something. Maybe the sound of that vehicle’s motors brought it here.”
“That’s it! Maybe we can make enough noise, so that whatever it is will ignore Sam. You know, if we bang on the windows or something.”
Girlfriend and Myra banged their hands on the window and shouted. Tiger Lily opened and slammed the door.
Lin paled. “Won’t that make it come up here? I mean, I don’t want whatever that is to go after Sam, but we don’t have any guns. Sam has a gun. At least he can protect himself. What have we got?”
They all froze. Girlfriend hadn’t thought it through that far. Lin was right. They needed to just remain quiet and hope for the best. Girlfriend stared out the window, and waited.
A gunshot rang out followed by a roar. Sam had struck the first blow, but why? Had it seen him? Was it after him? Another shot echoed through the strange wilderness.
Two more shots rang out. Girlfriend reached down and clutched Myra’s hand. She needed some sort of comfort. She might be squeezing the life out of Myra’s hand, but she didn’t care. She needed to know that Sam was alright.
Another shot rang out followed by a horrifying bellow so loud that the windows rattled. Once the roar died down, heavy footsteps stomped off into the distance. The silence didn’t last long and was replaced by the constant drone of bugs.
“What happened?” Lin asked. “Is that a good thing that it ran off? What happened to Sam?”
Tiger Lily shushed Lin. All four stood, staring out the window, and waited.