Chapter 12: The Attack
At first Anne didn’t bother glancing at the animal, for it had made the same noise many of them had been making since she first saw them. Instead, she looked down at the cube, heading down the wooden walkway to the dock over the shore.
When a number of the animals began squawking louder and more hurriedly, she did look. She was about halfway to the shore before she froze, staring at the opposite side of the lagoon where the animals were rising up from the ground and massing around the right side, splashing up water from the small conjoined rivers.
One woke up late, turning and viewing one of its own wading out into the lagoon, trying to cross it directly.
Its head barely stayed above water, even though it was at least twenty feet from the proximity of the center of the lagoon. It changed its mind, turning and plodding up back to shore.
The one that had woken up late stood up, beginning to trod off around the lagoon after the others, when it stopped. Its head raised upward, looking around. It turned, looking at the jungle, and squawked.
Anne tried to see what the animal was looking at, but she couldn’t. Her eyes skimmed several meters from the bottom of the trees, at where the animal would be looking at.
It was only when the animal turned, darting off as its pursuer broke out of the forest to chase that Anne realized she had been looking too low. The massive Tyrannosaurus had been observing its prey, luring the late sleeper close as it lured only feet away, seemingly invisible.
The rex had been upwind of the animals, but something must have alerted the other animals to its presence, causing them to wake the animals in sleep. The animal that had just started to run had been confused, upwind of its hunter and not acting quickly enough to spot the rex’s snout barely protruding from the trees above.
The rex had been motionless, which had helped hide it in the jungle, but now it burst from the trees, roaring as it closed in on the fleeing Gallimimus.
The rex intercepted the animal as it attempted to cut into the water near the one it had seen trying to do so moments before. That one had spun around, once again trying to make a break for the center as its comrade was smashed underneath the surface.
The rex’s head pushed it underwater, ripping it apart as it gnawed, submersed with it. Blood bubbled upward as the rex lifted the remains above water, flesh hanging down in rags.
It spotted the second animal, which was continuously fighting to keep its head above water as it strayed twenty feet out into the lagoon.
The rex charged forward with a cunning roar, its legs kicking up water as it trudged after its latest victim, dropping the carcass of the animal it had killed into the water with a sickening splash.
The animal gave one final squawk as its head disappeared underneath the surface, with the rex in tow behind it, the water rising up past its knees.
Watching as the next impending death of their stubborn own began, the herd had massed up on the opposite shoreline, and on the grass nearby. Anne hadn’t moved either, caught in viewing the carnage.
The rex shot its head underwater, fully submersing it and dropping its body to the surface as it caught its fleeing prey. The animal, unable to keep its footing, had bobbed up the surface once more, attempting to swim, but the rex had been too quick.
The animal was flung upward, spinning around grotesquely as it splayed water in every direction. The rex stood in the water, its body poised, and its head dripping water. The water that had erupted upward as the rex had burst its head up through the surface had not fully returned downward before the animal had once again been caught in the rex’s jaws.
It bit down with a loud, terrible crunch, withholding the dead carcass in its jaws as it began to return for the shore, the water slowly dropping from waist-deep to nothing in several moments as it lumbered out.
Several of the herd squawked as the rex returned into the jungle, its tail swinging from side-to-side before slipping away.
The herd lingers for a short period, several warily returning to the shore to get last-minute drinks. Anne occasionally glances at the opposite side of the lagoon, making sure the rex has gone.
After setting down the paddle on the dock, Anne gets on her knees at the ledge, peering down into the water. The dock hangs out over the surface for a good fifteen feet, and Anne gets near the end, where it is deeper.
Don’t want the raft getting torn on the shore by a rock…
She flips the cube over in her hands, inspecting it, and once again fingers the cord.
She tugs it, hearing a faint whistle. Soon the cube pops, beginning to inflate, looking more like a circle as the folds begin to flop open and apart.
Anne stands up as it continues to unfold on the edge of the dock.
Several moments pass, and the raft inflates to quarter size, yet still unfolding and releasing its aged wrinkles as it stretches.
Eventually it’s halfway done, and the animals are beginning to move back, once again massing to return to the valley.
When it reaches three-quarters, the disappearing herd breaks into a series of squawks and odd, distorted honks, followed by a loud crash.
Anne’s ears fill with a deafening, thunderous pounding. She turns around, as the end of the raft flops away to begin inflation.
The herd is stampeding.
But not back to the valley.
Anne curses, seeing the bellies of numerous animals racing back toward the lagoon in all directions: around the far end of the lagoon, toward the center, and in her direction, to make their way toward the river.
Behind them she hears the roar of the rex, followed by a distinct, seemingly merciful squawk.
The rex roars once more, and she sees it crashing after them. One of the first animals to draw close crashed into the water nearby, frantically trying to get around the dock.
She feels water splash against her clothes before another animal whips over the wooden walkway to the dock and across the grass lining the shore, making a line for the river.
Several more animals crash into the water around her, on both sides of the dock and they cut for the river, and two actually run up on the dock before leaping into the water, blocked by more of the animals.
The rex behind them is chasing several into the far end of the lagoon, persuading them deeper toward the center.
The raft finishes inflating, and Anne shoves it over, one side nearly missing the bouncing back of an animal streaking through the water.
She quickly tugs on the straps of her vest, before one of the animals streaks down the dock, racing toward her. Its feet pounded against the wood, and Anne yells as it nears.
She quickly picks up the paddle, preparing to jump out to the raft that is starting to pull away from the dock due to the swirling water.
The Gallimimus leaps only several feet from her, making her flinch before the two fall into the water. The animal splashes underwater only inches from the raft, causing it to spin.
Anne lands face-first in the water, prevented from tumbling underneath the surface by the support of the vest.
She holds the paddle above her head, clawing it out in front of her to reach the raft. The paddle presses against the inside rest, tugging it toward her.
She pushes the paddle inside as she heaves herself up, bending the raft down, causing it to fill with water.
She grunts, propelling herself up and rolls into the raft safely, sending some of the interior water to splash out.
The end of the herd is nearing, and she sits upright, nervous as a Gallimimus splashes across the shore and into the water, cutting next to the raft.
She frantically tries to turn the raft in the direction of the river, where the animals that have made their way there are running alongside either shoreline. Others that had survived making their way around the far side of the lagoon have once more joined their feeling comrades.
She paddles, still having to make a good distance across the lagoon to get to the river, not noticing a slick, almost crocodile-like figure snaking along the surface of the lagoon, cutting through the center, churning water as it swims.
The rex had killed off nearly half a dozen of the animals on the far side of the lagoon before it had decided to pursue another fleeing animal that had been caught between it and either shoreline.
The Gallimimus had instinctively turned to flee, breaking out into the lagoon, the surface rising up past its long neck as it pushed farther out.
The rex quickly caught up, the water level shortly above its knees as it strayed twenty feet out. It had lowered its head with a deadly jerk, knocking the Gallimimus forward, sending it into the depths.
The rex strayed out after its injured prey, with the water level soon short of its tiny arms as it neared thirty feet out.
The Gallimimus had surface, barely able to maintain itself as it tried to regain its balance in order to swim, but the rex took a quick bound forward, its foot causing a large undertow which sucked the Gallimimus under and back.
The rex dropped its head under the surface, tearing through its victim’s neck with terrifying ease.
The victorious hunter rose above the surface, roaring, and saw that the rest of the herd was at or attempting to reach the river. Several stragglers were still on either side of the lagoon, and, willing to take down another Gallimimus, the rex continued pushing into the lagoon.
Within several massive strides, the rex was forced to keep its head above water as long as it could, making its way toward the center of the lagoon before it was completely underneath.
Its body lifted up; the top of its head and back coursing the surface of the water as it kicked. Occasionally its tail briefly fanned the underside of the surface, sending light waves in every direction.
A surge of water from alongside the raft pulled it away from Anne’s main course. The raft began to spin, still tugged toward the center.
Anne glimpsed the crocodile-like backside of the rex swimming across the lagoon, its kicking legs being the cause of the raft’s sudden movement.
One of the last few Gallimimus that had not reached the river was struggling across through the water. It had been injured, barely able to stay in the water, but the sense of the rex coming near kept it from returning to the shore, instead intent on making a direct attempt at the river to ensure its survival.
Anne pushed the paddle through both sides of the water, using both hands forcefully to get some sort of gain.
A wave rolled at the raft, knocking it sideways, closer to the river. Anne took the opportunity, quickly swishing the paddle through the water to keep the raft from tipping over.
She passed the lagging Gallimimus, which was far behind the herd, all of which had passed away from the lagoon, following the river through the jungle and out of sight.
She was less than twenty-five feet from the river, and she had finally gotten the raft stable.
Anne looked back, ready to scream as the rex closed in, its body streaking through the water at the raft. The water rippled as the rex regained a small bit of footing, its head crashing up through the water in a torrent of water.
Its entire head, including several inches of neck stuck out from the surface, only feet away from the raft, which had once again been propelled away.
The river was near, and the rex roared. It continued moving toward Anne, but she kept quiet, paddling harder.
Only several feet from entering the river, Anne witnessed the rex stop, veering around to cut off the Gallimimus that had been swimming into its own impending doom, far from the safety of being with its herd.
Left behind to face its death.
The rex lowered its head back underwater, making a sweeping motion underneath the animal as it rocketed its snout upward.
The Gallimimus let out a shrill squawk as it lay precariously on its side, legs unmoving, resting atop the snout of the rex, whose head was raised up, toward the sky. The rex balanced the animal for only a split second before its jaws opened, sending the body of its prey rolling down into an enveloping darkness.
Almost as soon as the attack had started it had ended.
But in that window of chance, Anne had paddled the raft away, already heading downstream.
Behind her, the rex roared as it glanced down the river, its eyes registering the movement of the raft, before it began swimming back to shore.
Anne pulled the paddle out of the water, allowing the raft to drift in the gentle course of the river. The raft was fairly large; around eight feet long and four feet wide. The orange rubber coat was hard and durable, with several straps on the sides of the raft, attached to the exterior.
She loosened her vest, looking at her new surroundings. The river was nearly twenty feet wide, and, Anne thought, several feet deep in the center.
The shoreline met grass on both sides, running up to meet the jungle only feet away. As she looked ahead, the river curved off, still appearing as an endless trail through the island.
The herd had long gotten down the river, out of sight and sound, and she had been in quiet ever since she had coursed away from the lagoon.
The phone rings.
Sitting in her parents’ dining room, she gets up, listening to the screech of wood on tile as the chair is pushed back.
The phone rings again, but she cuts it off halfway.
A remote chill from the plastic exterior of the phone goes through her as she puts it to her ear. “Hello?”
“I’m calling for an Anne Jones. She hasn’t paid her taxes or given her old friend a nice call in awhile.”
“Hey, Jill.” She smiles, listening to her friend’s chuckles on the other end. “Sorry about that…”
“Nah, it’s okay…I understand you don’t want to talk to your best friend.” Both of them chuckle.
“Jill, I’m truly sorry. I’ve just been…You know…”
“I know Anne.” Her friend’s voice is serious.
“So, uh, how’ve you been doing?”
“I’m doing good…I went and saw a movie last night…It’s different without being able to come over and talk.”
“Well, for me it’s sure a lot quieter,” she teased.
Her friend laughed. “It’s been what, two weeks now since you moved out there?”
“Yeah, close to it…”
“When do you think you’re going to come back?”
“I don’t know…”
“How about a visit?”
“Maybe I can get out there for a week…Enjoy the rural life.”
“That would be nice.”
There was a silence, and her friend said, “Listen…I know it’s probably difficult…I can only imagine it all…Just promise me you can find a way to get over it…For yourself. It doesn’t have to be now, since I know it’s all still fresh, but…”
“Anne, you’re tough. You’ll get through it. After all, Indiana Anne laughs at the notion of fear.”
The two laugh, and Anne says, “Thanks Jill.”
“Ah, hell, after all, I can’t have you spending the rest of your days out there. Got to have you back here, hook you up again, for good times’ sake.”
She smiles, feeling a sadness beginning to sprout from inside. Her friend speaks one last time, “Remember…You can keep running from it until you know it’s time to send it away…When you know you’re ready.”
Anne laid back, looking up into the sky and listening to the current carrying her downstream.
She closed her eyes, as the raft continued to be slowly swept away, and enjoyed her newfound ease.