Read Along: Paradise Palms: Chapter 49
Girlfriend tried desperately to get her breathing under control. Her whole body shivered and she tried to grip herself for comfort, but nothing helped. Lin and Tiger Lily huddled together on the now upright bed; both had their eyes screwed shut tight.
Sam grunted and struggled to pull himself inside the car, carrying Myra’s backpack. Girlfriend reached out to help Sam, but recoiled when he tried to hand her the backpack. She couldn’t bring herself to touch it. He dropped it to the floor and pushed it aside and hefted himself in.
A loud crash from outside forced the car to lurch and Sam slid partially down the hatch. Girlfriend lashed out and took hold of him and started to pull him in. He howled in pain and squished his eyes shut, but she ignored his screams and pulled even harder. They’d just lost Myra, she wasn’t going to lose Sam. No. She wouldn’t lose him.
His body was impossibly heavy. She could barely pull him up, but she had to, needed to. They were getting out of here and getting out now. She shifted her grip and caught Sam under his armpit and his arms limply came up and took hold of her shoulders. With a mighty pull, she tugged Sam into the car and the flopped to the floor, both exhausted from the effort.
Again a crash sent the car lurching sideways. Through a tiny window the body of the T. rex flashed as it walked around the car looking for another victim. It wouldn’t find one. Not another one.
“Sam, we’ve got to get out of here. Sam!”
Sam’s head lolled to the side as he gripped his shoulder. Fresh blood oozed from the wound and stained the t-shirt bandage.
“Can’t. Tired. Need rest.” His words came in desperate gasps as he struggled to remain consciousness.
The girl winced as if she’d been hit.
“Lin! I need water for Sam. Hurry. I don’t want him to lose consciousness again. Tiger Lily! Get some of the Motrin to help him with the pain. Something that won’t put him to sleep. Go!”
Both of them got up, tears streaming down their faces. Girlfriend wiped away her own tears. Sam had been her rock, and now she, once again, needed to be his. She had a vague idea how to drive the car, but needed him to watch and give her instructions. The last thing they needed was to get into a crash they couldn’t recover from. She needed Sam for that.
The car continued to rotate toward the tree they’d tied the winch’s cable to. Girlfriend wondered what would happen when the car got to the tree. The cable had to have an automatic stop, didn’t it?
Lin and Tiger Lily returned with the water and Motrin. Girlfriend did her best to administer them to Sam. He swallowed water in gulps and in one of the gulps she dropped three of the pills into his mouth and he gulped those down as well.
“Are there any more shirts we can cut up? I need to change this bandage.”
“I-I think so,” Lin said shakily. She turned and ran to the storage room and returned a moment later with a shirt and handed it to Girlfriend.
Girlfriend made short work of getting the old bandage off and applying a new, tighter one. The flow of blood slowed dramatically once the new bandage was in place.
“Sam! Sam, are you alright? Sam? I need you to help me drive the car.”
“Yes, drive. We need to go.” His voice was weak and distant.
“Sam.” Girlfriend put an arm under him and propped him into a sitting position. “Sam, I need you to tell me what to do.
“Can you two hold him up while I get into the seat? Put him closer to the seat and hold him there so he can give me instructions.”
Girlfriend released control of Sam’s body to Lin and Tiger Lily and sat in the car’s control seat. She hit the ignition switch she’d seen Sam use and the motor turned over without incident.
“How’s the battery charge?” Sam asked, his voice strained.
Sam pointed to a gauge. Its needle pointed to just below the mid-way point.
“About halfway. Is that good?”
“That’s fine. It’ll charge faster now that the car it turned back over and the panels…the panels can get more light.” Sam’s head rolled back. Tiger Lily caught it and held his head upright.
“What next? Sam? I’ve got it started.”
The car came to an abrupt halt as it collided with the tree the winch had been pulling them toward. The T. rex howled outside.
“Sam, are we going to be able to move? We’re still tied to the tree.”
“Dunno. We’ll have to try.”
“So what do I do next?” Sam’s eyes had closed. “Sam! What next?”
His head popped up. “Two joysticks. One for each side of the car. Forward or backward. To turn, one goes forward, the other back. Easy.”
She sat back in the seat and looked at the two joysticks. She took one in each hand, but before she could so anything, the sound of groaning metal screamed from the top of the car.
A loud pop as something broke free and the sound of something cutting through the air ended in a sick thud followed by a loud screech. The cable had broken free from the top of the car and apparently it’d whipped around and hit the T. rex.
They were free from the tree! Girlfriend wouldn’t get many chances at this.
She pulled both joysticks backward hard and the car lurched back and stopped with another thud. They’d hit something. The T. rex? She pulled one back and the other forward and the car turned on the spot. Once she’d pointed them toward the water, she pushed both forward and the car splashed away into the water. She didn’t know if the dinosaur followed or not and didn’t care. They were away. It would tire long before the car would. They drove in the direction of the giant, setting moon; their path well lit. Girlfriend didn’t care where they were going, as long as it was away.
Lin and Tiger Lily, once they’d had time to recover from the initial bouncing and bumping of the ride, both picked up Sam as best they could and placed him into the bed and strapped him down. They’d also secured the floor hatch. Tiger Lily came to Girlfriend’s side as Lin tried to get Sam to take some more water.
“Girlfriend, where are we going?”
Tiger Lily thought for a moment. “We came here to rescue Doc Brenner’s son. Shouldn’t we be going there?” Tiger Lily pointed to a small screen with a dot that was getting father away from the center of the screen. “At best, he’s less than a day’s drive away.” Her voice had regained its cold, calculating composure, but Girlfriend didn’t want to listen to her. She wanted to go back to the camp and wait for Doc Brenner to take them all home. The last thing she wanted was to stay here any longer.
“No. We’re getting out of here. We’re not losing anyone else.”
“We all knew the risk in coming here…”
Girlfriend snapped and cut off Tiger Lily, “Myra didn’t. She was here because of Doc Brenner. She wasn’t here because she chose to be and now she’d dead. She’s dead, Casper is dead, and it’s all Doc Brenner and his son’s fault. Why should we go and save him now?”
Tiger Lily didn’t respond and when she did, her voice had a hint of condescension to it. “Doc sounded as if he truly felt bad for all that happened. We need to bring his son home. Letting another person die isn’t going to bring back Myra, or Casper, or even that officer that got lost here. It’s the right thing to do, and we need to go on.”
Girlfriend had forgotten about the officer. How could she have forgotten about a person who’d died out here? How could she just let another person die? But Clive was here by choice and he had to know what he was doing, didn’t he? He’d chosen to drive out into the prehistoric wilderness on his own; why shouldn’t they leave him to his fate? It was something he deserved. He and his father shouldn’t have been playing with time anyway.
“Ease back, Girlfriend. Slow down.”
Girlfriend eased back on the control joysticks and took several deep breaths. She knew Tiger Lily was right, but had trouble accepting it. Everyone had been beaten. Tiger Lily’s arm needed medical attention, Lin’s shoulder was still healing, and Sam. Sam was a mess. There was only one person who could get them all out of here and she wanted to do that, but after all that’d happened, how could they just give up and go home now?
“You’re right,” Girlfriend conceded. “Let’s go get Clive and then get home.”
“Just, check and make sure…” Girlfriend took a deep breath. “Check and make sure we’re not being followed.”
“I’ll do that.”