Read Along: Paradise Palms: Chapter 45
The mighty, terrible lizard. The king of all dinosaurs. A pure predator that combined all the killing strength and eating power that no other animal had ever possessed, and from this time period, none that ever would. It reigned on high with no predators of its own. It fed on the healthy just as much as it would feed on the weak and the lame.
Never would it wait in line for a meal. Other dinosaurs would make way for the Tyrannosaurus rex. Nothing got in its way. Nothing bothered it. Nothing was its better.
And Myra was standing nose to nose with it. It still twitched from the pain of the gun shots and flares, but Myra didn’t want to see the beast die. She didn’t have a death wish and now wondered what she was doing standing on the bottom of the car keeping Girlfriend from shooting it. What had she been thinking? She’d only gone up there to help Lin and Sam. She hadn’t intended to prevent Girlfriend from killing the monster. She certainly didn’t want to put Girlfriend at risk.
Instead, she’d screamed and put herself at risk. Here the thing stood and watched her with curious intent. Was it going to eat her? Would it pass by and go back to look for Girlfriend? No! It couldn’t go and look for Girlfriend. Myra blamed herself for not letting Girlfriend shoot it and therefore get back into the car and to safety. She certainly couldn’t let the thing go after her.
Did that mean she’d need to sacrifice her life in order that Girlfriend live? Would Girlfriend even survive? She was trapped outside with that thing still walking around. She had a gun though. Perhaps Myra should hide from this thing, and let it go and find Girlfriend and get a bullet in its head.
But its skull had bone nearly two inches think. The bullets couldn’t go through that, could they?
“Kneel down slowly,” Sam said from behind her. “And plug your ears.”
The T. rex shifted its gaze from her to Sam. Its expression changed. It actually had facial expressions. It opened its mouth and bellowed so loud that Myra thought her eardrums would burst. Even with her hands over her ears, the sound was so loud it was painful.
A shot rang out, but not from behind her. From down below. That shot had to have come from Girlfriend. A second shot rang out, this time from behind her. And another, and another, and another. Each time the beast roared and shook its mighty head as if it could just shake off the pain inflicted by the bullets.
Sam’s gun clicked. He was out of ammo, but the beast had stopped roaring. She felt Sam’s hand grip the back of her collar, weakly, but he grabbed her all the same. He pulled softly, and Myra got to her feet.
“You’d better get inside, now. That thing is going to fall.”
“What about Girlfriend?”
Myra made no further protests. She scrambled for the open hatch and dropped inside, not bothering with the ladder. She didn’t know if Sam was concerned about her life, mad at her for putting Girlfriend at risk, or just plain mad.
She had watched as Girlfriend gave him mouth-to-mouth and had never actually seen anyone use it before. The fact that it actually worked surprised her, but Sam had to feel like crap. He’d been dead, or as close to dead as a person can get. Now he was up and walking around and shooting a gun.
Tiger Lily did her best to help Myra get to her feet. “Are you alright?”
“I’m okay. A little scared and bruised, but I’ll be fine.”
“What’s going on up there?” Tiger Lily asked as she moved from Myra, who was fine, to Lin, who wasn’t so fine.
“I think they’re trying to kill it, but I’m not sure if they’ll have enough ammunition.”
The beast crashed to the ground with a massive thud that shook the car. Sam must’ve braced himself for the impact, for Myra didn’t hear him fall.
“Girlfriend!” Sam called out. “Girlfriend!” His voice sounded pained and weak.
All Myra could think was that without Sam, they’d all more than likely die. But with the car overturned, they would all die anyway. They had no way to get back. What were they going to do? She didn’t want to die out here. Well, she did, but not until she was old and gray. She didn’t want to die like this. Or be eaten. She wanted to study these creatures, not be killed by them.
She wanted to get up, but found herself hyperventilating. She cupped her hands over her mouth and put her head as far between her knees as she could.
She couldn’t focus on dying. She couldn’t. Everything would work out. They were all still alive. A little bit shaken, and a little injured, but everyone would live. They would all make it out of here. She just knew they would.
Myra closed her eyes and allowed her mind to drift away. A calm river by a cool field of green grass far away from any dinosaurs. Gentle mist cooling her body. Butterflies floating by on a mild breeze.
Myra sat up, her breathing and thoughts back under control. She watched as Tiger Lily, her own arm bandaged, tried to put a sling on Lin’s arm as Lin cried in protest. When Sam and Girlfriend started down the ladder, she stood to help them. Girlfriend didn’t appear to want any help, and Myra couldn’t blame her. She tried to say she was sorry, but now wasn’t the time.
Sam, on the other hand, had some choice words for her. “I should kill you, but that’s not going to help anyone. Get something to help Lin with her shoulder.”
Girlfriend added, “No, get something to help Sam. We’ve got to change his dressings and clean out his wounds. Where’s that medical kit?”
Sam took a deep breath, and fell to the floor. He didn’t pass out, per se, but he looked quite pale. All the action had finally caught up to him.
Myra made herself as useful as she could. She knew a little first aid, but mostly helped Girlfriend by handing her whatever she asked for. Girlfriend washed and restitched Sam’s shoulder and checked his leg. Girlfriend then moved to Lin. She made the girl sit with one shoulder against the wall while she lifted and pushed her arm back into its socket. Myra winced at the popping noise it made and Lin passed out. Tiger Lily hugged the unconscious girl.
“Get blankets for those two. They need to be covered so they don’t go into shock.” Girlfriend’s tone bore a serious and urgent tone. Myra did as she was told and even went as far as to wrap up Sam as much as she could in the blankets. A thought hit her.
“Girlfriend, we might want to check Sam for leeches.”
“Well, most insects were fully developed by this time period, but they had an exoskeleton. We don’t know about leeches. They don’t have a skeleton or anything. It’s possible the water out there could contain them.”
Girlfriend looked more annoyed at this announcement, but nonetheless set to work removing the blanket and Sam’s shirt. Sure enough, a large leech clung to the middle of his chest.
“Help me get his pants off. We need to see if there are any more,” Girlfriend ordered.
“If he’s got leeches on him, we’ve got to get them off of him. Now isn’t the time to be embarrassed.”
Myra, reluctantly, helped Girlfriend pull off Sam’s pants. She did her best to keep her eyes averted, but knew that she’d have to look if they were to find any more leeches.
They found a total of six on his body; only one in his crotch. The rest were easy to get to.
“I’ll get the salt,” Myra said as she started to get up.
“The salt. That’ll make them drop off.”
Girlfriend looked shocked. “Have you ever had a leech?”
“Well.” Myra shrugged. She’d always been afraid of swimming in lakes for just that reason.
“Just get me a jar or something to put them into.”
Myra rummaged around and found a small container with a lid. “Will this do?”
Girlfriend gripped the first leech by the body and ran her fingernail under the sucker, pulling gently as she did. In no time, the leech detached and she dumped it into the container as Myra watched with her mouth wide open.
“You might want to close that.”
Myra shut her mouth.
“I mean the container. They’ll crawl out of there.”
“Oh.” Myra felt stupid. She closed the lid and watched as Girlfriend removed all the leeches the same way. Sam had several small spots of blood that Girlfriend cleaned and covered with small band-aids.
“Let’s get him wrapped up. He can put on dry clothes when he wakes up.”
Myra helped Girlfriend wrap up Sam, then got him a pillow to put under his head. She was amazed at the beating he’d taken and yet still breathed and lived. That was all well and fine, but would he be able to lead them out of here and back home? Myra didn’t even know where they were or how close they were to rescuing Clive.
She shook her head. She couldn’t start to think about that again. Instead, she sat quietly with her back against the wall. Tiger Lily sat against the opposite wall, hugging Lin. They both slept.
Girlfriend sat down next to Myra. Myra cringed.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
Girlfriend shook her head. “Don’t be. I think I understand why you didn’t want me to shoot it. I’m just glad it didn’t get you.”
“Sam is a great shot. You too. Did he teach you to shoot like that?”
“He did. I don’t like to shoot at anything living, but he’s taught me to shoot a lot of different guns at targets. I figure, if I’m going to be part of his life, I may as well be a part of all aspects of his life, you know?”
Myra nodded, but couldn’t relate. Her life was her work. Always had been. She couldn’t imagine giving up anything just for a man.
“Still, I didn’t mean for anyone to get hurt. I feel like the only reason anyone got hurt was because of me. I think that if Sam hadn’t stopped so I could see those eggs, none of this would have happened. We could have gone and found Clive and gotten back with no issue. This is all my fault. You should have left me at the cabin.”
Myra started crying. Girlfriend, surprisingly, hugged her. Myra hugged back and held Girlfriend tight, crying until she fell asleep.