Read Along: Paradise Palms: Chapter 52
Girlfriend splashed into the water feet first, despite her mid-air attempt to dive. Her feet plunged to the bottom of the murky water and sank into the thick mud at the bottom. At first she didn’t panic, figuring that Sam would be along to help pull her to safety, but that didn’t make any sense. He’d just sacrificed himself to save her. He might have ended up just like Myra.
She wanted to scream out and cry, but if she did, she’d cause Sam to have died in vain. She steeled herself and held her breath. Slowly, almost too slowly, she fought and worked her feet out of the muck. Both of her shoes came off in the process, but she didn’t care, she needed to reach the surface and gain purchase of the open air. As she struggled, a wave pushed her free from the mud as the front of the car splashed back down into the water.
She drew in a gasping breath as her head broke the surface. She splashed for just a moment, then quieted when she heard voices. Lin, Tiger Lily, and Clive were shouting, but she couldn’t make out what they were saying.
She had to do something. Anything. She swam to the front of the car. If she could make it around to the other side of the car she could climb up the side, but what would she do once she reached the top? She would have enough time to grab the gun and reload it before the thing would be upon her.
The winch caught her attention and an idea formed. It just might work, but it would have to work just right. She grabbed the end of the cable, the winch had automatically turned off once the cable wound all the way in, and unclipped the anchor that had broken free from the top of the car. She started pulling the cable free as quickly as she could.
She pulled until nearly the entire cable had been fed out then worked her way around between the car and the front loader with the cable in tow. As she started to mount the ladder, a shadow passed overhead. Someone yelled from the platform.
“I’ve got him! Get over here before it comes back.”
“I’m down here!” Girlfriend shouted.
Lin looked over the edge of the car. “Oh dear,” she said softly.
“Where is it?” Girlfriend asked.
“Hold on!” Lin shouted. “I need to put a tourniquet on his arm.”
Lin disappeared. Was Sam still alive? Had he survived? Perhaps with nothing more than a nasty cut on his arm. Girlfriend started climbing up the ladder. She had to make it to the top. She had to make sure he was alright. She had to.
The howl from the T. rex wasn’t pain, but anger. She could feel the anger in its shout. From the rear of the car and the loader, it saw her climbing and started to force its way between the two, heedless of its own safety. Girlfriend nearly froze in place, but pulled harder on the cable and climbed further up the ladder.
It continued forward and she had to hold on. In its anger, it wasn’t looking for her as much as it was just forcing its way between the two vehicles, causing the car to rock violently. She had to time everything perfectly. For all of them, she needed to do this. She was the only one in any condition to do anything like this. Sam had saved her and it was time for her to return the favor.
As soon as the head slid beneath her, Girlfriend hopped onto the back of the T. rex, making sure the cable slid around the beast’s neck. The thing writhed, trying to work its head around to snap her up, but she pushed off and swam under the water and under the T. rex, trailing the cable as she went.
From under the car, she found the other end of the cable, and clipped it to itself. She pulled the length of cable from the winch side and then swam under the car to the winch. She had to get to it. She had to turn it on. She had to hurry as the car thrashed up and down with each movement of the T. rex. It had continued to force its way to the front of the car and when its head broke the surface it also came out from between the two vehicles. She flipped the switch for the winch, took a deep breath, and swam back underneath the car.
The thing thrashed. It plunged its head under the water and gnashed violently, trying to snag her. It worked its head under the car, tipping it out of the water. She saw the hatch under the car and made her way to it. She pulled and tried to turn the handle, but Sam must’ve locked it from the inside. Instead she swam to the side and tried to get a hold of the ladder, but the monster continued to pursue her underneath the car, causing the car to rise higher out of the water. If it continued, it would flip the car over and they’d all be trapped.
She had to think fast. She had to save their transportation as well as save the rest of them. It was all up to her. Again she plunged under the water. She held her eyes open and they came to lock on the T. rex’s eyes. They blazed with fury. She had never thought she’d see any emotion in a dinosaur’s eyes. She’d seen so many reptiles in the zoo, and none of them had anything relating to emotion. This thing, though, didn’t just want to eat her. No, the look in this thing’s eyes went beyond that. This thing had murder in its eyes as it gnashed its teeth trying to get to her. It wanted tear her apart. Why?
Had this thing seen her kill the other T. rex? Had it been bothered by her when she fired the flare gun at it? Did this thing actually think, and want revenge on her for what she’d done, much in the way she was trying to avenge Myra and Sam?
She tried to shake those thoughts off, but suddenly felt sorry for the creature. It had just been living its life. Perhaps they’d killed its mate and driven it mad by doing so. Now it was acting out, trying to kill them. Trying to avenge the death of its loved one.
Girlfriend swam under the front loader and worked her way through to be underneath. The car and front loader had started to separate. The T. rex continued to thrash and gnash, trying to reach her. Several times it smashed its face against the tire and undercarriage of the loader. Blood started to fill the water, but its attacks started to draw back. The cable pulled it backward to the front of the car.
She swam along and watched as the beast realized it was no longer in control of its actions. Its eyes shifted from enraged to fearful. Its growls of anger became whimpers of fear. Still Girlfriend continued to swim along and watch, horrified at what she’d done.
The cable tightened against the skin of its neck, cutting into it. She wished it would just snap and the thing might run free, but the winch gave no sign of letting up. It continued to cut into the beast. It cocked its head to the side and gave a resigned look at Girlfriend as if pleading with her to make the pain stop. She reached out to it, but as she did, the cable did its work and severed its head.