Read Along: Paradise Palms: Chapter 53
Lin tore off what remained of Sam’s shirt and tore off a long strip. She looped it around Sam’s arm and tied it. Tight. She knotted the strip as best she could and started on another. The car rocked violently and she grabbed on to Sam to keep her from slipping. Unfortunately Sam also started to slide across the roof of the car. Looking around, she was near enough to the open hatch and reached out to grab for it. Sam’s body continued to slip. She gripped his body in a scissor lock and grabbed onto the hatch and pulled.
The car continued to rock violently. Her arms weren’t strong enough to pull both her and Sam up. She was having trouble just hanging on to keep herself from sliding off. She struggled to pull herself up and to the hatch, but she could barely move. The car continued to rock violently.
“Lin! Lin!” Tiger Lily’s face appeared from the tilted side of the car. “Lin! Grab my hand.”
“What’s going on?”
“Just grab my hand.”
“I can’t. If I let go, we’ll lose Sam. I’m not letting go.”
Tiger Lily kicked a leg over the edge and rolled onto her stomach. She lowered down to the hatch and climbed inside.
“Where did you go?”
“Hold on.” Tiger Lily’s voice came from far inside the car. Lin could only hope she would hurry up, whatever she was doing. Lin’s arms had started to burn. She’d never been good at working out and with all the movement from the car she didn’t think she’d be able to hold on much longer. She wanted to yell out for Tiger Lily again, but it was a struggle just to hang on.
Tiger Lily reappeared with a rope in her hands. One end had a loop.
“Don’t move. I’m going to try and loop Sam’s foot.”
The car lurched and they bumped heads. Tiger Lily took a second to rub her head. Lin’s hands slipped.
Lowering the rope, Tiger Lily watched carefully to make sure she could get Sam’s leg. The strain on Lin’s legs locked around Sam’s body began to hurt and she was certain cramps were to come next if they couldn’t do something. Lin tried to relax slightly, but even the slightest amount and she thought she could feel Sam’s body slipping. She strained to keep a grip on the hatch portal, but her fingers hurt and the struggle to hang on wasn’t one she could be certain she’d win.
“I’ve got him. Get in here.”
Lin didn’t want to let go. “No. We’ll lose him.”
“I need you in here helping me pull him up. I tied off the rope. Give me your hand.”
Inside she wanted to cry. Her body, so tense, refused to let go. She strained to pull herself up without letting Sam go.
“Lin! Let him go. I tied off the rope. Let me pull you in.”
She slowly allowed her legs to relax only to snap them together even tighter as Sam started to slip away. It took several times before she let go. Sam’s body swung down and dangled at the end of the rope. Tiger Lily helped Lin up to the hatch.
“I’m not going back! You can’t make me go back!” Blood trickled from Clive’s nose where Tiger Lily had punched him. He’d been unconscious, and given a little more time, they would have gotten him tied up and into the car. Unfortunately things had gone wrong.
Clive didn’t have any weapons, but what he did have was higher ground. He swatted and punched at both of them and it was all they could do to fend off his blows. Tiger Lily did most of the defending.
“Just grab his foot and pull!”
“I can’t do that, he’ll fall into the water. One way or another we’re bringing him back. Just get inside, I’ll deal with this.”
“But your shoulder. You’re hurt.” Lin didn’t want Tiger Lily to go after Clive alone.
“No! No. No. No. No. I’m not going!”
Clive stopped his assault and turned away. Tiger Lily reached out and grabbed his foot and pulled. He slammed down against the car. Lin realized that the car had stopped thrashing about.
“Tiger Lily! Where’s Girlfriend?”
“One person at a time.”
Tiger Lily pulled on Clive’s leg and started climbing up. Lin, forgetting her pain, climbed up with her. With all his thrashing about, it was difficult to get him under control, but Tiger Lily had him in a choke hold and quickly his thrashing subsided.
“Let’s get him inside. Then we’ll deal with Sam.”
“What about Girlfriend?”
“Lin! We need to deal with the people we can see first. We’ll find her in just a minute.”
“But what if she’s in danger?”
“We’re all in danger.”
“No, I mean she’s the only person who can drive the car.”
That stopped Tiger Lily cold. They both looked at Sam and Clive.
“Alright then. They’ll keep, but we need to be quick. I don’t want Sam to lose a foot as well.”
“Girlfriend!” Lin yelled and made her way to the edge of the car to look down into the water. She had hoped to find Girlfriend right away, instead she found a lot of empty water sloshing back and forth and quickly turning red. The legs of the tyrannosaur protruded from under the car. At least she knew why the car lay at such a severe tilt, but where was Girlfriend? Had she killed the beast?
Frantically she scanned the bloodied water trying to find a sign of Girlfriend’s survival. They’d lost Myra, Sam’s well-being was in question, they couldn’t lose Girlfriend too. She had to be down there. She just had to.
A splash of water and a gasp of breath caught her attention.
“Girlfriend?” Lin shouted.
Girlfriend swam toward the loader’s platform and started to climb up. Her clothes were soaked with water and blood and mud and unidentifiable grime that hung from her in clumps. Lin, forgetting her pain, jumped across to the platform and helped Girlfriend up. She pulled everything off that didn’t belong stuck to Girlfriend’s body, while holding her up. She even started to use Girlfriend’s trick at getting off leeches, as many had attached to her.
It took a minute, but Girlfriend finally regained her composure and asked, “Where’s Sam?”
Lin looked across to Tiger Lily who gave them a thumbs up. Apparently while Lin had attended to Girlfriend, Tiger Lily had moved Sam inside, as well as Clive. The woman was amazing.
Girlfriend covered her face and cried. After several sobs she sniffled. “He’s alive?” She asked though her hands.
“Let’s get over there and find out.”
Inside the tilted car, Clive had been tied up and secured to one of the beds. Sam’s severed arm was dressed and he was also secured to a bed. The three girls took time to drink some water and gather their wits, and deal with their own wounds.
Lin finally said, “What do we do now? We’re stuck.”
“Well, I guess we need to figure out how to get ourselves off the dinosaur and get back home,” Girlfriend said.
With Sam and Clive both secured, the three of them got back to the top of the car and one by one made their way across to the front loader. Doing a quick survey they found a locker filled with food, more medical supplies, and a large amount of water. As soon as they had the car freed, they agreed they would move as much as they could before leaving.
The driving controls of the front loader looked similar to the car and in no time Girlfriend had the machine under control. The body of the tyrannosaur had stopped both vehicles from continuing forward. As soon as they moved away from the car, the hadrosaurs started in with their honking, but stayed away from them.
“How do we work that bucket?” Lin asked.
“I think these are the controls, but I don’t think we can operate them without getting in Girlfriend’s way.”
Girlfriend steered away from the car and they took time to practice on the controls. It wasn’t easy, but for the most part the controls were all well labeled. After half an hour of practice they decided to give it a try. It would be best to dig under the T. rex body and allow it to fall into the hole, then just drive over it.
They dug in slow increments and each time the car would jostle into position, they would collectively hold their breath. Lin didn’t think she could take much more, but once the car had been lowered nearly to the ground, Girlfriend parked the loader as close as they could get it to the car. Lin and Tiger Lily both helped guide her in.
The food storage had shelving that the girls disassembled and laid across the span between the loader’s platform and the roof of the car. Lin wasn’t sure how long it took them to move everything. They didn’t talk as they completed their tasks. Instead they all moved like zombies, back and forth.
Before they had completed moving the supplies, Lin looked off into the distance. “Tiger Lily, Girlfriend. Look at that!”
Off in the distance and in the light of the setting sun, a small herd of long-necked dinosaurs slowly made their way through the swampy marsh. It wasn’t easy to make them out and Lin was certain they were quite far away, but they looked magnificent. Even the hadrosaurs had stopped and looked off in the distance to watch them pass.
“I think it’s time to go home,” Girlfriend said. She hugged Tiger Lily and pulled Lin into the hug as well.
“Let’s go home,” Tiger Lily said.