Fiction Friday: Dinosaur Ambulance, Part 2
My ears rang. Echoes roared in my head, and I sat up, or what I felt was up. I could feel the dirt grinding against my body, mixing with the rain that had started to fall in sheets. The mud coagulated against my skin. The cold balls of earth grabbed on, up and down my arms and legs, my stomach, everywhere I looked.
I pushed myself up, lifting my torso off the ground. My arms sank deeper into the mud.
Through the sheets of rain that kept pummeling me, I could see the large footprints, three feet wide, longer than my torso.
I scrambled to my feet and paused to look around. There was an edge of forest just a hundred feet or so away. I ran for it, sweat pouring down my cheeks despite the buckets of rain. My heart was thump, thump, thumping, and my breathing would not slow down.
The clearing that had been abuzz with injured men, women and children, guards and more was empty, filled only with the large rex prints and muted metallic red blood stains.
Leaves crunched nearby, and I slowed my breathing instinctively. I turned my body around toward the other way and saw a man’s head poking out behind another tree just a few yards away. He saw me and waved me over with his hand.
“Quick, come on.” His voice was a loud whisper. A rex must still be near.
I ran toward him, my feet flailing behind me as great gobs of mud locked on to my feet. I wiped them off against the trunk of the tree the man hid behind. He patted me on the back quickly. His enthusiasm was contagious.
“You’re the only one I’ve seen,” he said. “I don’t think anyone else survived that attack.”
My thoughts turned to Angie. She had been standing right next to me when we realized a rex was coming. I remember diving away from her, to my left. I had hit the ground hard and tried to roll toward some of the tree and shrubs close by. They would give me cover from the rex if it made its way here into the clearing.
I remember seeing one of the Jianchangosaurus kicking up a few rocks and watched as one soared straight toward me. After that, blackness.
“How long ago did the rex come through?” I said.
He smiled a bit at me. “Yesterday.”
Keith was leading the way through the jungle, tearing through branches and leaves and other vegetation dangling in his way. He had taken the lead on bringing me back to the larger group after he found me at the rex attack site. He had told me how the others had fled the site before the rex hit, how it was awash in chaos as people ran in all directions and a herd of Jianchangosaurus had stormed right through, leading the rex in.
Some of the others, he told me, had made their way through half of the jungle and found a small alcove to hide. Others had gone on to the hospital near Old Salem that I had sent the injured to. When they met up with the others at the alcove, they had told how the rex had gotten through the hospital defenses and laid waste to the building and much of the Old Salem village.
And others who were at the site before the rex attacked, well, they didn’t make it, Keith said. But the rex certainly was feeding her and her young ones well these days.
All I could think of as I scrambled after Keith was Angie, and whether she was safe or not. Keith had not seen her in the crowds of those who had made it to the alcove, which included some who were injured in the attack. Nor had anyone provided word about her.
It made me wonder whether I wanted to continue, whether I should just turn around and go back to the rex attack site and wait for it again. She had never shown an interest in me, that I know. But to live without her? To not even be able to see her anymore? I did not know how I could live that life, but I kept on after Keith.
And after what felt like hours, we turned a corner down a sharp hill, stepping on large boulders that lined the way down. Around the corner at the bottom was the alcove, alight with activity as men and women came to it, arms full of sticks and stones, berries and meat, and many other things. Overnight a village had sprung up here, as they are usually do after a rex attack.
I had told Keith that I was a doctor, but he had urged me to rest, to lay down, to attend to the bump on my head.
I reached up and felt it. It was a slight protrusion stick up from just above my right temple. Of course, the rock, I thought. Perhaps it was best I laid down if I did not have the faculties to figure out that I would be hurt by a flying rock.
I laid down on a makeshift cot next to an elderly man. He was groaning softly, his arms wrapped around his stomach. Soon his groans were softer. “He must be dying,” I thought.
But then I was dreaming instead.
When I woke up the small pop-up village was wash in activity. I reached for the top of my head and felt the bump. It had gone down a bit, but it was still quite apparent. I shoved myself up off the cot and stretched. My muscles ached, and I let out a yawn, curling my feet onto my tiptoes.
Keith entered the small area that was now the clinic and right toward me where I had slept on the cot.
He smiled. “Come with me,” he said. “I think you’re going to want to see this.”
Like he did in the jungle, Keith made his way through the swath of bodies gathered around the entrance of the alcove, where fires lit brightly against the dark night sky. A buzz was in the air, and the people we pushed past were murmuring. Electricity was in the air. Keith turned toward me as he led me on.
The only thing adorning his face was a bright smile, half in shadow as the fire played off of it.
He stepped through to the front wave of people and stepped aside.
And then there she was.
READ PART 3 ON FRIDAY, JUNE 27.