Fiction Friday: Dinosaur Ambulance, Part 3
Her amber hair and deep green eyes searched the crowd swelling around her. And then she landed on mine. I felt my face open up into a nice, wide smile. “Jim,” she said. The tension and relief flooded out of that single lonely word. It was the most incredible feeling I had ever felt. My heart swelled in size as she rushed toward me and swallowed me up in a big hug.
She was shaking.
I hugged her back.
I pulled her in tighter. I could feel my heart pounding against her body, pressed up against me. We unraveled, and she looked up into my eyes.
“I’m so glad you’re here, safe and sound,” she said. “When the rex came, I was sure we were all going to die. That was one pissed off momma.”
“I woke up after the attack and there was nothing. It was just me. I was so confused and disoriented. And then Keith stumbled upon me and pulled me in to this makeshift village.” I looked about, and the majority of the crowd had dispersed, just another person welcomed to their new, temporary town. But a few stayed, including Keith. He was talking with a bunch of elderly men and women, and another man in his 30s, all in a huddle, just a few yards away. I could see him peek over another person’s shoulder every minute or so and flash me a Keith smile.
“She was a mean old rex, and I think this town is actually close to her nest. I saw a couple of nests on the way here, and I think she’s going to come back.” Angie took my hands in her, a feverish look in her eyes. “We need to get out of here, Jim. It’s not safe here. Let’s head back to Old Salem. The village still has some structures intact, and we’ll be out of the way of the rex.”
I didn’t know what to say. It wasn’t like Angie to be so forceful, to put her idea forward and not want to hear any debate. And as I looked around the makeshift jungle village and saw huts and forts and other pop-up homes made of branches and leaves and other jungle debris, I couldn’t blame her. This was not a permanent home.
But my head still ached, the bump still throbbing dully, just background noise against the din of the village.
“Maybe we should stay here one more night before we head out. I don’t know if I’m in too good of condition to travel right now.”
She looked at me, pain flashing across her face. She hadn’t even noticed that I had been injured. Or maybe she had, and felt it wasn’t as big of a concern.
I frowned. “OK, how about this? Let me rest for another hour or two. During that time, you can pack up some stuff, anything you think we might need and they might let us have. Then you wake me up and we head on out.”
Angie smiled. It was the prettiest smile.
All I felt was someone shaking me, and then I was up again.
It was Angie. She had pain in her face. And then she said the four words I’ll never be able to unhear: “The rex is back.”
Terror filled the air as I jumped off the cot and was flooded in between waves of men, women, children and others, rushing by as everyone once again ran for safety.
A thunderous roar filled the village and nearly knocked me over. The rex. She was angry.
Angie was still by my side and we grabbed for each other and started to run. Although it was chaos everywhere, nearly everyone was running the same way, and Angie stopped.
“Do you …?” she started to ask me.
“Let’s go back the other way.”
We had made it a mile or so away from the pop-up village when we heard the ground shake beneath us, and we were thrown to the ground. Angie fell forward, tripping over a big tree route connecting a family of trees. I stopped and rushed to her side, and her face flashed with pain.
She reached for her ankle.
I wanted to pull her to safety, to lift her up, to carry her on my shoulders. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to.
And she knew it, too.
A roar thundered close by, shaking some leaves off of trees around us.
“Run!” She screamed it at me. It was not a plea. It was not a question.
It was a demand.
I ran, faster than I remember being able to, until I was a little bit away, but could still see her. I don’t know why, but I turned, and I saw her, laying in pain on the ground, hobbled by her ankle. The rex stood over her, salivating down on her, its short, skinny arms circling in terror just above her head.
And then I saw the rex, as easy as it had ever done anything, bend down toward Angie and feed.
I just sat there, unable to turn away, wondering why I had to rest so bad in the pop-up village.
I couldn’t even feel the throb of my head anymore.