Read Along: Paradise Palms: Chapter 36
Lin held Tiger Lily’s hand. They both gripped tightly as the sounds of Sam shooting something carried on. Lin dreaded her decision to come along. What could she possibly contribute, anyway? It was more out of curiosity that she pressured Sam to allow her and Tiger Lily to come along. Tiger Lily, whom Lin was certain didn’t like Sam for some reason, hadn’t pushed to go or to stay and just followed Lin. Now faced with reality, Lin wanted to be back in her trailer, away from all this.
Five minutes turned into ten before Sam finally emerged from the woods. He only had his rifle with him, but he looked all sweaty and tired. The four of them, Tiger Lily last of course, ran from the door and rushed to Sam.
Girlfriend was the first to reach him and she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him. Lin stopped running as did Myra and Tiger Lily. Best to let those two have their moment. Lin had never seen two people kiss like that. She looked away to the woods.
Once Girlfriend released Sam’s lips, he said. “We need to go and we need to go now. I don’t know what that was I shot, but it was big and it’s likely to be angry. I’m sure it’ll come back and I don’t think we want to be here.”
“I think we need to see if there’s anything else we might need in these other buildings first,” Lin said. She really wanted to see what kind of equipment they might have. Something might prove useful.
“I’m sorry. We can look when we come back. I didn’t find the officer. We need to leave.”
Myra chimed in, “Let me go get some of the books and journals from inside. Maybe there’s something in them that can help us understand what might be happening here.”
“Fine. Get the books and whatever. See if there’s more food. We’ll want all we can get together. I’m going to position myself on the car and if that thing comes back, I’ll have to ram it. Maybe that’ll scare it off. I don’t know.”
Tiger Lily looked like she wanted to make a snide remark, but kept her words to herself. Lin looked longingly at the other buildings and wondered what they might contain. There had to be a satellite link up in there. Doc had said he used her antenna because having his own would attract too much attention to what he was doing. He had said they’d have everything they needed inside the car, but that didn’t keep her curiosity down in the slightest.
The four women moved in and out of the cabin, carrying books and foodstuff as quickly as they could. Sam stood atop the car and watched and listened. Twice he aimed his rifle into the woods, but didn’t shoot. She wondered what he saw or heard. Maybe it was just something he felt.
When she was alone with Myra in the cabin, she asked her, “Do you really think that whatever Sam shot might come back?”
She shrugged. “Everything I’ve ever studied has been based on fossil records. To be perfectly honest, there’s no way to know for sure. We know that many dinosaurs had large, developed brains and must have been at least as smart as many animals today, and they survived for millions of years. Anything is possible. Even a dinosaur holding a grudge I guess. Kind of like if you kick a dog, it’ll avoid you, but if you tease it enough, it’ll eventually bite you.”
“I guess that makes sense. So we really won’t know anything until we know something.”
Myra laughed a nervous laugh. “That sounds about right, Lin. Help me grab these and I think that’s all the books I’ll need.”
“Can I help you look through these once we’re going?”
“Oh, sure. That’d help a lot.”
“I’m sure Girlfriend and Tiger Lily will want to help too.”
“Everyone is welcome to help. There’s a lot of research here. Doc Brenner’s son would have been here for a long time and he made a lot of notes. This might be the best defense we have.”
Lin took up a stack of the journals and followed Myra to the car. Tiger Lily stood at the bottom of the car’s ladder. “Is that the last of it?”
“Yup,” Myra said. She handed a few of the journals to Tiger Lily.
Girlfriend crouched at the top of the car and held her hands down. “Pass up some of those.”
“Thanks.” Lin handed up some of her load, and climbed the ladder after Myra. At the top, Sam stood aiming his rifle into the woods again.
“What is it?” Lin asked.
Sam, without shifting the aim of his rifle, looked down to the ground. “Is everyone up?”
“Good. I keep seeing these small dinosaurs.”
“Oh?” Myra said. She’d slung the binoculars around her neck and raised them up to where Sam aimed. “My! It’s a troodon! A living species. This is amazing. I never…”
“And we’ll never get underway if we keep gawking. You can set up some arrangement with Doc Brenner when this is all over and spend as much time as you like here. I don’t care. Right now we need to get out of here and find Clive. So if you would be so kind as to get in and buckle up. I’d like to get this over with as quickly as possible.”
Myra looked shocked that Sam would speak so bluntly to her, but followed his instructions. He motioned for Lin to go down next. She handed down the journals to Myra and climbed down inside.
“Why doesn’t this have doors in the sides?” Tiger Lily asked as she wiped sweat from her brow.
“Doc said it was because Clive didn’t want anything to be able to just walk inside. So the door is up a ladder making it more difficult for anything to get in.” Sam closed the top hatch and locked it. “Now if there are any more questions, please keep them to yourselves until we’re on our way.”
“Sam, did you bring up the GPS tracker? So we know which way to go?” Girlfriend asked.
Sam laughed. “I saw the path he tore into the woods just to the south. It’s pretty obvious he dug through there with the front loader. I’ll be able to get started. You go ahead and get the GPS system up and running and we’ll make sure we’re headed in the right direction.”
Girlfriend buckled up in the passenger seat next to Sam. The rest had to go to the back room and sit at a metal table. They all buckled into the padded seats. As Myra started to stow the journals in a locker, she handed one to Tiger Lily and one to Lin.
“I won’t lie to you two, everything I know about dinosaurs is based on bones. It’s all guesswork. I’m not going to give any credit to anything I know until we’ve read through these. Perhaps they’ll confirm what is thought to be correct, perhaps it’ll just fill in gaps, but then maybe we’ll find something totally unexpected. Don’t discount anything you read. These may save our lives.”
“Myra,” Tiger Lily said. “Do you think this is a safe thing to be doing?”
“What do you mean?”
“Do you think we’ll all come back alive?”
“As long as we all stick together and trust one another, yes. I don’t see any reason we shouldn’t. I mean, we just need to go out, pick up Clive, and come back. Right? Isn’t that what we’re doing?”
“Yes, but what if something happens? What if we’re outside this car or something happens like we get stuck and can’t get out and have to walk. What do you think our odds are?” Tiger Lily put her hand on Lin’s knee and squeezed as the car started to roll forward. That’s when Lin knew. Tiger Lily was scared.
“That’s why we’re going to read these. The more we know about the dinosaurs that are in this area, the better off we’ll be. Right? Knowledge is power.”
“But what good will knowledge do against a twenty ton monster charging us at top speed?” Tiger Lily looked away.
Myra put down the journal and grabbed Tiger Lily’s other hand. “It’ll be alright. Let’s not go getting all worked up before we even get going. It might be a couple of days before we even get to where we’re going.”
Nails dug into Lin’s leg. “Ow!” She clutched Tiger Lily’s hand and pried it off her leg. “Tiger Lily, it’s going to be alright.”
“How do you know? How can either of you know that?” Tears streamed down her face.
“Trust. I know because I trust you,” Lin said. She felt strange, like she should be the one scared and crying. Tiger Lily had been so confident, but ever since they got here, she seemed to be falling apart. Now that they were moving-
“I want to go back. I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to go. Get me off this thing.”
She reached for her buckle to free herself of the chair, but both Lin and Myra held her arms as the car bumped and jostled.
Myra said, “Don’t do it, Tiger Lily. You’ll fall and hurt yourself. Just stay seated.”
“Doc Brenner said he wasn’t going to check for us for three or four days anyway. It’s best if we all stay together.”
Tiger Lily struggled weakly, and finally gave up. The bumping lasted only for a short time. Through a small portal, Lin could see the trees clear and give way to the plains they’d seen. Except for an occasional bump or sideways lurch, the ride wasn’t so bad, but she wasn’t about to try standing up or walking around until she was far more certain of her footing.
Myra opened a medicine kit and handed something to Tiger Lily. “Take this. It’ll help you.”
Tiger Lily took the pills Myra had given her without a word and swallowed them. She had a drink from a bottle of water and put her head down on the table, one of her hands finding Lin’s leg once again. Lin scratched Tiger Lily’s back in an attempt to reassure her.
Myra nodded to Lin and smiled. Lin shrugged. Myra opened one of the journals and started reading.