Read Along: Paradise Palms: Chapter 44
Girlfriend slammed her hand into the glass again and again screaming Sam’s name at the top of her lungs. Why didn’t he move? Why didn’t he get out of there? He had to move. He just had to.
The wounds in his shoulder had reopened, the blood stain testified that. The bandage hung heavy on his arm, soaked with mud and blood. He looked drunk, like his mind had abandoned him to his fate.
The tyrannosaur bellowed deep and loud and charged. The muscles in its massive legs propelled the beast toward Sam at frightening speed. It covered the ground in three strides and lowered its head. Girlfriend’s heart stopped with each pounding footfall.
“No!” Girlfriend screamed. Lin, Tiger Lily, and Myra, all by her side, watched in horror as the beast plunged toward the still figure of Sam.
Sam dropped to the ground, and rolled toward the water at the very last second to avoid being swept up by the beast’s mouth or torn apart by its massive claws. For an instant she lost sight of him, between the tears in her eyes and the dinosaur in her way. She wiped the tears away from her face and tried to find him.
“Where is he?” Myra asked seriously.
“Sam! Sam!” Girlfriend cried loudly as she pounded her fist on the glass. She couldn’t see him anywhere. Had the thing gotten him? Was it eating him right now? That damn monster was going to die for killing her Sam. It was going to die! “Where are the guns?”
“Look!” Lin cried. “In the water. I saw something pop up.”
Girlfriend planted her forehead against the window. “Where?”
The tyrannosaur turned and slowly stalked back to where Sam had been. It sniffed the ground several times and rocked its head from side to side. It gave a cursory glace to the water and sneezed, but didn’t search more for Sam. Instead, it approached the car again.
“There! In the water. Just off that thing’s left leg. See? His nose!” Lin pointed frantically.
Girlfriend did see it. Sam’s nose and mouth poked up out of the water, he took a breath, and disappeared back under the water. Through the murky surface of the water she couldn’t see him, but he must be able to see out. He had successfully hidden from the monster. He’d done it. Sam was alive.
The tyrannosaur headed back toward the car. The girls all moved back away from the window.
Girlfriend said as she scooted back, “Sam’s bleeding. He can’t stay out there long and we don’t know what’s in that water. If something smells his blood, he’s done for. We need to find the guns and a way out of here to get that thing out of his way so he can get back in here.”
“There’s a hatch in the floor at the base of the ladder,” Tiger Lily pointed up to the floor. Girlfriend now saw the tiny ring to the trapdoor that must be hiding the bottom hatch.
“All we need is a gun, flare gun, something to distract it with so we can get Sam back in here. He’s hurt and he won’t last long in that water.”
The car rocked violently and something popped and hissed. The thing must be chewing on another of the tires, Girlfriend thought. If they didn’t do something, and fast, they might be stuck out here forever. The only thing they had going for them was that the sun finally started to come up and they’d have enough light to see if anything else was coming. Perhaps they’d be able to see deeper into the dark woods they were now stranded by.
Girlfriend rubbed her temple. Her head throbbed, but she had to ignore the pain. She didn’t know about the rest, but she needed to know she could count on someone and she couldn’t afford the mental power to think of which. She would have to go with her gut.
“Lin, I think there’s a flare gun in the control box next to the driver’s seat. Do you think you can get to it?”
Lin looked up to the driver’s seat. “Myra, can you kneel down. I think if I stand on your back, I can reach it.”
Without question, Myra got on all fours beneath the driver’s seat. Lin climbed up onto Myra’s back and reached for the console. Her fingers could only touch the handle. She jumped and flipped it open, but when she landed on Myra’s back, Myra screamed and fell to the floor. Lin tumbled down along with all the contents, including the flare gun case.
Girlfriend didn’t waste any time to see if they were alright; Tiger Lily would see to them. Instead she snatched up the case and flipped it open. She loaded the flare gun and stuck a second flare into her pocket. When she put the flare into the gun, she noticed just how badly her hands shook. Sam had to be alright. He had to be. She had to save him. She had to hurry. She didn’t have time for shaky hands. She didn’t.
The rungs to the ladder were rounded and made for easy going, up or down. She placed the gun under her neck and fumbled with the ring of the trapdoor. Once she’d gotten it open, she set to work twisting the ring for the hatch. Her arms ached from holding herself up on the ladder and trying to do everything at the same time. Damn! Why is this taking so long? Girlfriend finally got the hatch undone and pushed. It didn’t open.
She pushed harder and the seal creaked and groaned in protest, but didn’t crack. It was nice they’d made the bottom of the car waterproof, but now wasn’t the time to have to fight with a hatch. Perhaps they thought it’d never be needed and sealed it off completely.
Pulling the gun out from under her neck, Girlfriend stepped up and put her shoulders on the hatch and pushed with her entire body. Everything hurt. Everything ached. Her legs trembled against the strain, but the seal cracked and the hatch snapped open with an audible pop. She found her head sticking up from the hatch and looking into the face of the tyrannosaur.
Just like a puppy, it cocked its head to the side and sniffed her. More curious than deadly. Girlfriend didn’t want to make friends with it and most certainly didn’t want the damn thing as a pet. She raised the flare gun and prepared to fire. She hesitated. The thing leaned in closer and sniffed again. Girlfriend couldn’t move. That massive head staring at her, analyzing her. Why? Was it trying to figure out if she was edible or not?
Sure enough, it opened its mouth and pushed its head closer to her.
“Shoot! Shoot!” Lin shouted from below.
Girlfriend shut her eyes and fired into its mouth. The thing backed up and shook its head violently, howling as it did. It took a small step backward, but that wasn’t far enough. Girlfriend reloaded the flare gun and took aim once again. This time she fired at its face.
Again the beast howled in pain, but this time it moved away from the car. It leaned down and rubbed its face in the mud. Once its head disappeared, Girlfriend climbed up onto the bottom of the car and shouted down at the water.
“Sam! Sam! Come on, Sam!”
Nothing moved. Where was Sam? Why wasn’t he getting up? Girlfriend looked across the water and tried to find Sam, but nothing in the water moved. She couldn’t see below the surface and didn’t know where he lay.
“Sam!” She screamed.
The tyrannosaur continued to rub its head in the mud trying to ease the pain from the flare. Girlfriend took the chance to climb down off the car and look for Sam. He had to be there. Why wasn’t he getting up? She edged nearer the side of the car. A wary glance at the tyrannosaur and she shot down the ladder and ran for the water to where she thought Sam should be. Frantically she tried to part the water with her hands and find him. He had to be there. He had to.
Her foot nudged something thik and heavy. She reached into the water and pulled Sam’s head up. He didn’t move. He didn’t breathe.
She slapped his face. His body was still warm. He couldn’t be dead. He just couldn’t. Girlfriend tucked her hands under his armpits and pulled. Slowly his body moved. She didn’t have the strength to pull him out of the water. She fell backward and landed in the water causing Sam’s head to dip back under the water.
Lin appeared at Girlfriend’s side. “Come on. Let’s get him inside.”
Girlfriend wanted to smile. To say “thank you.” To do anything, but it took all her strength just to get to her feet and pull up Sam by one of his arms. Lin amazed Girlfriend by her strength and obvious fearlessness to come outside with that thing out here. She even had a small bit of blood running down her head where something had hit her.
Sam’s body came out of the water and as soon as he was on dry ground, Girlfriend dropped him to the ground. Lin also let go and his body hit the ground with a wet grunting gurgle. Water dribbled from his mouth.
She tipped his head to the side and ran a finger through his mouth, then checked for a pulse by putting two fingers on his neck.
“What are you doing?”
“There’s no time to pull him inside. We’ve got to revive him here. I’m getting a pulse.”
Lin’s eyes widened. “You’re going to do that here?”
“I have to.”
Girlfriend pulled Sam’s chin open with one hand and put her other hand on his forehead and took a deep breath. She blew as hard as she could into his open mouth.
Lin disappeared. Girlfriend couldn’t worry about that. She had maybe a minute to get Sam moving. If she could just get him revived enough to get onto his feet and moving, she could drag him into the woods and they could hide.
Again she blew.
Sam’s body hadn’t cooled significantly. He had to be alive. He just had to. She couldn’t let him go. Not here. Not like this. They were supposed to travel together, but not die the first time they’d gone somewhere. They were supposed to be happy, not afraid for their lives. She wanted to marry him. Have his children. She sounded so trite. His life was in danger and she could only think about herself and having kids.
“Come on, Sam. We don’t have time for this. You have to get up. We’ve got to get moving.”
Sam coughed and rolled onto his side. He was alive! She’d done it. Sam would live. If only she could get him out of there.
“Get up, Sam! We’ve got to get moving.”
“Get up!” She yelled again.
Sam struggled to his feet. Then Girlfriend saw where Lin had gone. She’d retrieved the gun from under the car and had the tyrannosaur in her sights. She obviously didn’t know how to fire a gun. If she shot like that, she’d dislocate her shoulder. Girlfriend raised her hand to tell Lin to stop, but it was too late.
The gun shot backward, but the bullet flew true. It crashed into the beast with a spurt of blood; a chunk of flesh dangled from where the bullet had done its damage. It howled in pain again.
Lin had crumpled to the ground, clutching her arm.
“Get into the car. Get into the car,” Sam said with a strained voice. “You two go first.”
“I just saved your ass. Get the fuck in that car and do it now!”
“You need to help Lin. I’m going to take another shot at it.”
Sam half walked, half stumbled over to the gun. Girlfriend wanted to argue. She’d just saved his life. She didn’t want to see him risk it again. He didn’t have to prove anything at this point. They weren’t helpless girls to be saved. What was he thinking?
She strode past him and took up the gun. “I’ll take the shot. You two are in no condition. Get inside.”
Lin lay on the ground crying as she gripped her shoulder, her arm limp. She’d really dislocated it. Sam did the best he could to help Lin to her feet and onto the ladder. He climbed the ladder right behind her to make sure she didn’t fall. Girlfriend was thankful that he wasn’t being pigheaded about the whole situation.
She raised the gun and took aim. The thing, just like a dog that’d been stung by a bee, licked and bit at the area where the first bullet had hit it. Where would Sam shoot it? The chest? Hoping for a clean shot to the heart? The head? Blow its brains out? Where?
The scope of the gun only confused where she wanted to shoot. Looking around it, she raised the butt to the crook of her shoulder and raised her elbow to make a tight fit and not allow the gun to jump and hurt her. Sam had spent a little time teaching her to shoot, she just never thought she’d be taking aim at something alive.
She took the first shot at the head, but could see that the bullet only bounced off. She should have known the skull would be too thick. She cocked the bolt and reloaded the chamber and took aim at the body. The beast took notice of her. Not something she wanted.
“Don’t shoot it!” Myra shouted from the top of the car. “Just get inside and leave it be. It’ll go away. I’m certain of it.”
It wasn’t going away. The thing charged at Girlfriend just as it’d charged Sam. Myra had distracted her long enough for the thing to charge. Girlfriend, gun in hand, ran around to the front of the car. If she was lucky, the thing would run by and –
Girlfriend put her back to the front of the car and closed her eyes. She didn’t want to see. She didn’t want to know. But deep down, when the scream stopped, she knew what had happened. She knew.