Read Along: Paradise Palms: Chapter 48
The parade of tuba players, drummers, and elephants finally stopped causing such a racket inside of Sam’s head. Enough so that he felt comfortable opening his eyes. He was greeted by darkness. At first he thought he might be blind, but in fact he could make out silvery shapes in the indistinct moonlight that filtered through the windows at the bottom of the car. It took Sam a moment to register that the car had been overturned. Not only that, they’d killed a dinosaur. A Tyrannosaurus rex. They’d killed one of Earth’s mightiest hunters.
He gave a small laugh and coughed. He’d paid quite a price to keep everyone safe, and his body reminded him with every tiny movement he tried to make. Every inch of him screamed in pain as he coughed. He could barely lift his arms to his mouth. When he did, he could see blood spray from his lips into his hand. He was in bad shape.
How long had he been out of it? He had vague recollections of Girlfriend giving him medicine, but how much and how often eluded him. Could it only be the night? Perhaps the night after? He couldn’t know. How could he? He put his weight on his right arm, but his shoulder flared in pain so he quickly shifted his weight to his left arm. Once he was sitting, he felt the bandage on his shoulder. It wasn’t so much a bandage as just cloth. It felt like a t-shirt. Had they run out of bandages? Was someone else hurt that they ran out that quickly? Or had he actually been out so long that they’d used all the bandages on him?
He didn’t want to think about that. He needed to think of a way out of this situation. He looked up and saw the hatch of the car was open. No! As fast as his body would allow, he got to his feet and staggered to the ladder. He had to get the hatch closed. The last thing they needed, and likely wouldn’t survive, was to have another troodon get inside.
Sam struggled to get his arms to pull him up the ladder. He’d never felt so weak in all his life. His left leg was all but useless, but he fought to pull himself up. The hatch had to be closed. How could the girls have been so careless to leave the hatch open?
Once his head cleared the top of the hatch, Sam looked out onto the underside of the car. Four of the six tires were still inflated. If they could right the car, they could still make it back with no trouble. He had no intention, at this point, of making any more of an effort to save Clive. He would have to return on his own. They did their best, but Sam wasn’t going to risk anyone’s life to try to keep going.
Something moved and caught Sam’s attention. He suddenly wished he had the gun, but as soon as he saw two human shapes in the moonlight, he relaxed.
“Get-get back inside,” Sam strained to say.
One of the figures disentangled from the other and turned around. “Sam!” Lin said.
Lin rapidly crawled across the car to be near Sam. “You’re awake. How are you? What are you doing up here?”
“I’d ask you the same thing. You two should be inside. It’s not safe.”
“Sam’s right, Lin. Let’s go back inside. I don’t think Myra is coming back.”
“What?” Sam couldn’t believe what he’d just heard. “Where’s Myra?”
Lin put her hand on Sam’s quivering shoulder. The strain of holding himself up was more than he could bear. “Let’s go back inside and we’ll talk about what’s happened.”
“What do you mean?”
Sam slowly lowered himself into the car.. “How long?”
“Once you’re sitting back down. I don’t want you to fall.”
Sam staggered and tried to keep his footing.
“Sam!” Girlfriend gasped. She put her hands on his hips and steadied him as he finished climbing down the stairs. Her gentle touch hurt, but reassured him at the same time. How could every square inch of his body hurt so badly? As soon as he was at the foot of the stairs he just wanted to lie down again, his head reeling from the effort.
“Just sit down. There’s nothing in the way. We cleaned everything a couple days ago. You’ll be fine.”
“How long, Girlfriend? How long?”
“You’ve been out for about five days.”
“Five days? That can’t be! We need to get back before Doc activates the time thing. He’s going to be expecting us.”
“Sam, I still think we’ll have enough time to get out and find Clive and get back. He was moving very slowly, perhaps a mile or two an hour at best. We’ve covered over half the distance to him. Lin has the GPS locator up and running and linked to the satellite. He’s stopped moving. We just need to get the car turned over.”
Lin and Tiger Lily sat down next to Sam and Girlfriend. “We just need to find Myra.”
“Where is she? Why isn’t she inside the car?” Sam asked harshly.
“It’s been quiet since we killed the T. rex. Very quiet. Myra wanted to go out, I guess. She disappeared two days ago.”
“Outside? What was she thinking?”
“Perhaps she just thought she’d get a sample or something to bring back with her. I mean, that’s what she lives for. I guess I can’t blame her.”
“This is just like at the nest. I let her go out and everyone went with her and look at what happened. It nearly got us all killed.”
Girlfriend put her hand on Sam’s leg. “Sam, it’s okay. I’m sure she’ll be back.”
“After two days outside? Not likely.”
“Well, we’re not going anywhere.”
“Did you fire any flares? Maybe she’s lost and can’t find her way back. A flare would get her attention.”
“I found the flare gun, but I can’t reach the flares. They’re stuck up there next to the driver’s seat. Once we turn the car over, we can do that.”
“Well, the sooner the better. Are you three fit enough to do something? I can direct what to do, but I don’t think I’m in any condition to do the work.”
“The moon isn’t as full as it was, but I think we’ll have enough light to work by.”
“Then let’s do this.”
The four of them climbed out of the car. It took Sam far longer than he would have liked, but they’d wasted enough time. Five days. Doc would be summoning for them soon and Girlfriend still wanted to try to rescue Clive. Stupidity, but he didn’t have the strength to argue with her.
“Lin! Go to the winch on the front and pull the cable as far back as you can, then toss it down to Tiger Lily.”
Lin did as instructed.
“Now keep pulling the cable to give them slack. Girlfriend, Tiger Lily, pull the cable around and under the car then over the top, bottom, whatever, you know what I mean. We’re going to have to wrap the cable around the car in order to flip it over.”
Girlfriend caught on quickly to what Sam was directing and Lin kept feeding them slack to bring the cable around and finally over the car twice. She lowered the cable down.
“Now go around the biggest tree that you can and then bring it back and link it to one of the loops on the top of the car. Lin, get down from there.”
Sam looked at the control in his hand. Who’d have thought of creating a remote control for a winch? Didn’t matter, Sam was just thankful for Clive’s or Doc’s foresight. As soon as the three girls were by his side near the water, he activated the winch. It screamed and hollered in protest to the enormous weight, but the car moved. Slowly, but it moved. It started to twist around and they had to step to the side, but the cable tightened and finally started to lift the car’s side. The glass solar panels that had managed to survive the initial flip of the car cracked under the cable’s strain, but still the car lifted.
“No! Stop!” Sam looked to see who said that. It could only be one person, but where was she? Where had Myra come from?
The water near the dead T. rex exploded. Sam dropped the remote and looked in horror as another T. rex that had been hiding rose out of the water and charged.
It didn’t charge at them. Instead it charged toward the woods. Myra ran out as fast as she could to try and get to the safety of Sam and the rest, but he’d forgotten the gun and Myra was lugging a very full backpack. He had no safety to offer. How could he be so stupid to forget the gun? Even if he had it, he couldn’t do anything.
The flare gun! It was the only chance he had at saving Myra. He’d had Girlfriend put Lin on her shoulders and he’d gotten a flare and loaded the gun to signal Myra once the car had been flipped back over. Maybe he could scare the beast, or blind it, if only for a second. He struggled to get the gun out of his pocket and the T. rex gained ground quickly on Myra with each monstrous, pounding step. Had she been waiting, watching it? Why had she given up her cover? Why didn’t she run back into the woods to get away? Why was she bringing the thing to them? What was she thinking?
Girlfriend pushed Sam’s hands away and pulled the flare gun from his pocket. She aimed over Myra’s head and fired.
The flare, bright and brilliant, sailed over the T. rex. It stopped for only a moment to watch as it passed, but that moment was enough. The winch had continued to work and the car flipped back onto its wheels.
“Get under the car!” Sam shouted.
As quickly as he could move, Sam followed the girls under the car. Myra was only a couple steps away. She would make it. She had to make it on her own. There was nothing Sam could do to help her at this point with the T. rex thundering toward them.
Lin and Girlfriend grabbed Sam and pulled him painfully to the ground and under the car. The hatch was still open. They just needed to climb up and in.
The winch, still pulling the car, twisted it so the end closest to Myra moved away from her. Still, she dove with the backpack in front of her and slid under the car and started to wiggle her way under. Sam heard her breathe a sigh of relief as she clawed her way further, but the car continued to rotate. It moved faster than the winch was pulling. Myra’s eyed widened in fear as Sam reached to try and help her get away from the edge of the car. His hands grabbed the strap of the backpack and he tried with all his strength to pull.
Myra slid quickly out from under the car, her hand slipping off the backpack, leaving Sam staring in the now empty space she’d been in an instant before, holding her backpack. Her screams lasted for only a second and were followed by sick, wet crunching. Girlfriend screamed in horror. Lin and Tiger Lily could only stare where Myra had disappeared.
“We’ve got to get inside. It’s the only place that’s safe.”
Sam had to encourage them to keep moving. He was sickened by Myra’s death too, but he couldn’t let anyone stay outside and be next. They had to get inside and get moving and they had to do it now. Sam would have to get the gun and take some shots at the thing to slow it down. Girlfriend had seen him drive; she’d have to take over that duty while he took shots at the T. rex to deter it from chasing after them.
As soon as Sam got into the car, he found moving difficult. Every muscle was stiff and unresponsive. The girls were all quivering, uncooperative bodies. He couldn’t do it alone. He needed help. He would have to direct them. How was he going to keep the rest of them alive? How?