Read Along: Paradise Palms: Chapter 40
Girlfriend stood over Sam and tried to think of what to do next. Lin cowered on the bed next to unconscious Tiger Lily, and Myra was in the back rocking back and forth with a baby hadrosaur. With Sam incapacitated, that left only her to take care of the mess.
The medical kit was still out. “Lin, I need your help. Please.”
Lin, wide-eyed and scared, shook her head. Girlfriend wanted to slap her, but held back.
“Lin! I need your help. It took all three of us to stitch up Tiger Lily. I can’t help Sam alone. Please Lin!”
Lin looked up and swallowed hard. She nodded her head and unwound herself from Tiger Lily. “What can I do?”
Girlfriend didn’t answer. She didn’t know what to do first. Sam’s shoulder was bleeding badly, but his leg looked far worse. She ripped off Sam’s shirt and wrapped it around his shoulder as best she could and then pulled off his pants.
The deepest wound was on the outside of his leg. Girlfriend was glad it wasn’t on the inside where he could have bled out in a matter of seconds. They would have time.
“We need to move him. I can’t work on him with this thing underneath him.”
Sam had fallen on top of the troodon he’d killed. Killed with his bare hands. Girlfriend had known Sam to be an animal killer and knew it was all part of nature, but to see a man kill a dinosaur with his bare hands, now that was insane. Pieces of blood and brain still oozed down the wall.
Lin did her best to lift up Sam’s legs while Girlfriend lifted his shoulders. They dragged him to a flat area just under the ladder. Girlfriend looked up at the closed hatch and heard scraping. Another had gotten on top of the car. Why did Sam have to get injured? She just wanted to get out of there. They needed to get moving. What if something bigger came by? What if-
“Stop it,” she told herself.
“What?” Lin looked up, confusion on her face.
“I’m sorry. I’m just creeping myself out. Try and get his legs as straight as possible. We’re going to need to stitch that up. It looks so painful.”
“I don’t think I can do what Sam did with Tiger Lily. I mean, I can hold his leg as best I can, but he’ll hurt me if I can’t hold on.”
“See if you can find some rope. We’ll tie him down if we have to.”
Lin got up and started looking through the cabinets while Girlfriend cleaned Sam’s leg. He didn’t even flinch when she poured in the hydrogen peroxide or when she squeezed the deepest of the cuts together.
“Lin, I don’t think we’ll need it. Just come over here and sit on his legs. He’s out pretty good.”
Lin closed the cabinet she was looking in and returned to sit on Sam’s feet. She put her hands on his knees and leaned down with all her weight. “I hope this works.”
Girlfriend worked quickly to stitch up Sam’s leg. She had to wash out the wound several times as she went to make sure she stitched Sam as neatly as she could. It didn’t matter how careful she did the stitching – and stitching skin made her wince each time the needle went in and came back out – she knew Sam would have a brutal scar.
Once Sam’s leg was stitched and bandaged – he hadn’t moved during the entire process – they set to work on his shoulder. Girlfriend held the wound together and Lin applied butterfly bandages. Sam had started to stir and she didn’t want to risk performing stitches on his shoulder.
She sighed when it was complete. With Lin’s help, they rolled Sam gently into a sleeping bag and zipped him into it. She put a pillow under his head and laid down next to him. Lin curled up next to Tiger Lily and they all fell asleep.
Squawking, much like a bird, awoke Girlfriend. The inside of the car was all dark save the lights from the consoles.
“Is anyone awake?” She asked.
“Yeah, I’m up,” Lin answered. “Myra is sitting on the roof of the car.”
Girlfriend’s mind instantly snapped awake. She stood quickly, steadied herself as the blood drained from her brain, causing her to lose her vision momentarily, and as soon as she was steady enough, she climbed the ladder. Sitting with her feet dangled over the edge of the car, Myra rocked with the baby dinosaur.
“Myra? It’s not safe to be up here.”
“Look at them, Girlfriend.” Myra pointed to the sky. “Pteranodon. Most people call them pterodactyl, but that’s a common mistake. See how they join together in flight, fall, and separate?”
Girlfriend watched them for a minute in the bright moonlight. The moon sat huge in the sky, giving ample light. She didn’t answer Myra.
“I think they’re breeding. It’s so romantic.”
In a weird sort of way, Girlfriend could see where Myra was coming from. She really wanted to give her the chance to watch the dinosaurs she so obviously loved, but safety was the top concern.
“Myra, you need to come inside. You could be in danger.”
“No, I’m not in any danger, I assure you of that. I’ve been up here for over an hour now, I think. I’ve watched as the troodons raided the nests further away. They didn’t stay around long after they couldn’t find another way into the car. They’re very smart, but they’re hungry. I saw a couple of them trying to eat an adult hadrosaur, but the skin was too tough for their small teeth. They needed easier prey. Something like this little guy.”
Myra stroked the head of the baby as it slept in her arms. Girlfriend took a seat next to Myra. The drone of bugs filled the air along with growls, howls, and screeches from the distance.
“Is it everything you expected?” Girlfriend asked, scanning the ground to make sure nothing approached or swam through the water. The last thing they needed was to be surprised.
“No. This is everything I expected times a thousand.” Two pteranodons coupled, spiraled downward, and detached from one another, taking off in different directions with magnificent grace. “Isn’t that incredible? It’s almost as if I found a field research location that shouldn’t exist.”
“It shouldn’t, but it does, well, it did. I don’t know. I have mixed feelings about being here. It just doesn’t feel right, but I’m not about to leave Sam behind.”
“Is that the only reason you came?”
“No. I had to make sure you were alright. I mean, we’d only just met, but I couldn’t abandon you here.”
“I feel bad for Lin and Tiger Lily. Those two are out of their element. At least you’ve been with Sam and you have some idea of what the wilderness holds. Those two really have no idea.”
“Honestly, I don’t know what to expect out here. Frankly, I don’t think you do either. You may have studied all this, but honestly, how much of this is anything like what you studied?”
“Seriously? It’s only different with the behaviors of the animals. The climate, the dinosaurs, the insects, it’s all just like I imagined. I think the biggest surprise is that the moon is so big and bright. This means there’s a lot more nocturnal activity than I had expected.”
“Really?” Girlfriend hadn’t expected that answer. “So you mean all that study and everything has paid off?”
“Oh, I assure you there’s a lot I hadn’t expected. The abundance of vegetation I should have suspected, being that the hadrosaur are so populous, especially in Minnesota, but these fields of water and grasses go on forever, it looks like. This I hadn’t expected. The troodons swimming was a real surprise, but I guess I should have expected them to do something similar. They really didn’t swim as much as I think they ran across the shallow water with their heads low to avoid detection, much like Clive had noted a tyrannosaurus had done while sneaking up to attack a hadrosaur.”
“Oh, we’d hear one approaching. Don’t worry.”
“If one could sneak up on a hadrosaur without it noticing, I don’t think we’d stand much of a chance and I don’t think we need to be risking it by sitting out here. Besides, if that thing wakes up, it’ll make enough noise to attract every predator in the area.”
Myra smiled a weak, tired smile. “You’re right. I really should get some sleep. I’ll feed this little guy and get to bed.”
“You know that Sam isn’t very happy you brought that thing onto the car.”
“Oh, I know, but he’ll warm up to it.”
“Myra, seriously, he still hasn’t warmed up to you. I don’t think he’s going to warm up to that.”
Myra looked offended. “What do you want me to do? Just leave it here?”
Girlfriend shrugged. “I don’t know. I think I’m just tired too. I guess we’ll have to talk about it as a group and decide what to do with it. Let’s just get inside and get some rest. I think Sam will have to teach me how to drive this thing. He’s not going to be in much condition to drive for some time.”
“Maybe we should go back to the camp?”
Girlfriend hadn’t thought of that. They had come here to save Clive, but with two people severely injured, the question became, should they?
“Again, we’ll all have to discuss that as a group.”
Myra nodded and yawned. “It can wait until the morning.”
As Myra climbed down the ladder, Girlfriend looked back to the sky to the mating Pteranodons as they swooped and connected and separated. Such an awe-inspiring sight.
Girlfriend closed and locked the hatch once she was inside. She checked and changed both Sam’s and Tiger Lily’s bandages and massaged disinfectant onto the cuts. They both gave minor protest. They gave slightly more protest as she forced each of them to swallow an antibiotic she found in the case.
She wished she had the strength to lift Sam onto the bed, but she didn’t, and no amount of wishing would allow her to do so. She pulled up another sleeping bag, took up her place at his side, and fell back to sleep.