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Joshua swiftly pulled back against the shelves, his heart slamming in his chest. He had a hard time swallowing, feeling only fear.

Holy shit, he thought. Holy shit, holy shit. Not again.

Josh felt a tugging on his sleeve. He turned his head and saw Jessica with a handful of Josh’s shirt, her eyes full of fear. The gesture she was making had an obvious meaning: Is it back there?

Josh nodded. He watched as Jessie let go of his shirt and lower her head, squeezing her eyes shut, as if she were trying to wake up from a very bad dream but just couldn’t. Natasha looked the same way, only it looked as if she was holding back tears.

Josh could hear the dinosaur move through the aisle behind them, sniffing and growling. He knew it was hunting them. It could smell them. Josh wanted to grab his gun and shoot the goddamn thing, but the painful scene of his father’s violent death paralyzed him right where he was.

Then there was the sound of scales scraping against metal; of snorting breaths and soft growling. Josh didn’t have to peek: the dinosaur’s head was right behind him, separated only by the shelves. He smelled the creature’s breath; it was the scent of dried blood and rotten flesh.

Josh felt only terror and fear. His body screamed for him to move, to run. He could hear his own heart beating through his ears. Beads of sweat collected on his forehead.

Then the was a grunt and the scraping sound again, which was followed by the sound of the creature walking. Josh prepared for the worst, yet the creature didn’t appear. It took him a moment to realize that it was walking away. It was going in the direction it came from.

Oh, thank God…

Josh felt relief wash over him as he heard they creature stalk away, but he knew it wasn’t over yet; he and the girls still had to get out of there before they were spotted by the dinosaur. If they were to do this, they would have to be quick and silent. They would have to be careful to not draw attention to--

“Josh!!!” Natasha cried out.

Josh felt his heart freeze and his hair prick up his neck as he heard the snarl. He jerked his head to look over.

The dinosaur was right there at the end of the aisle, its teeth bared and its tail swinging. It opened its jaws and a thunderous roar ripped out of its throat. Josh could see saliva drip from its mouth.

Ceratosaurus!!” Jessie shrieked.

“Move!!” Josh shouted, struggling to his feet. “Move, move! RUN!!”

He and the girls got to their feet and bolted for it with Josh in the front. Behind them, the dinosaur--a Ceratosaurus, apparently--followed them in pursuit. They surged past tall shelves, cashier stands, and old pastry displays. Everything was a rushing blur. Josh could feel the bags on his back bumping his back as he ran. He could hear the girls sprinting behind him and dinosaur chasing them; he could heard it slam and knock down anything in its way as it chased after them. He didn’t dare look back.

Josh felt his fear intensify. This fear was just like the one he had felt the night his father died, raging in his heart like a tsunami. He still couldn’t find the strength to take out his Beretta and shoot the damn thing.

Out the corner of his eye, he saw the exit, the glass doors with metal framing letting the sunlight through. It led to a room where the carts were kept, right next to another set of glass doors. Then a thought occurred to him: it looked like a small space. Maybe, just maybe, the Ceratosaurus might not be able to get through. They could escape.

“This way!” Josh shouted. “Come on! To the doors!!”

He took a sharp turn, running between cashier stands, the girls close behind him. They seemed to understand what his intentions were.

Josh dared a glance over his shoulder. Jessie and Tash were close behind him, running as fast as they could, their faces the definition of fear. Meanwhile, the dinosaur kept coming for them. It attempted to turn to them, but its big feet slipped on the floor. It slid and skidded before crashing into one of the stands, falling down. It may have been funny if he and the girls weren’t running for their lives.

Josh watched as the dinosaur stumbled back onto its feet and roar fiercely.

“GOREROOOOOOWL!!!”

“Let’s move!” Josh shouted over the Ceratosaurus’ cry. He turned his head to look forward. They were just a few yards away from the doors, and with each stride they took, the closer they were home free.

Come on, Josh thought. Come on. Almost there.

Josh reached out his hand and flung the door open, holding it for Tash and Jessie. He heard the dinosaur huffing. He could see it bounding towards them, its eyes locked onto them. Ropes of spit dripped from its teeth.

“Go, go, go!” he barked. “GO NOW!”

The girls rushed past him without hesitation. Once they were out, Josh quickly slammed the door shut and ran towards the second pair of doors. He looked back, seeing the Ceratosaurus was still charging. It slammed the glass doors head first. The force of the collision made the glass crack like a spider web and the metal dent ever so slightly.

“Whew!” Jessie sighed. “That was way too close for comfort.”

“You said it,” Tash said. “Not me.”

The dinosaur shook its horned head, as if to shake off the pain. Its breath fogged the glass, its nostrils flaring. It roared loudly, mist forming on the glass, spit flying.

It’s not going to hold him, Josh sudden realized. The dinosaur would smash through the door and it would catch them.

“Let’s get out of here,” he said. “Those doors can only keep him away for so long.”

The Ceratosaurus snarled and rammed the door again.

“NOW!”

The three whirled around and fled once again. As they passed the second pair of doors, Josh heard glass shatter and metal clang, followed by a fierce bellow. The sound alone gave him the message that it had broken through.

There was no time to look back, no time to stop.

Josh and the girls changed direction, running past the buildings and heading back into the forest where they came from. As they were about to turn the corner that led to the hill, Josh could hear the glass doors break and shatter, metal banging against concrete, and the dinosaur’s roar.

Josh felt his heart raging inside his chest as if it were running a marathon. This dinosaur was relentless, determined to capture his prey.

The visions reappeared in Josh’s mind: the poor man who had been violently killed, Josh running for his life, his father’s screams as the dinosaur tore him apart, the raging fires that destroyed his home.

The sound of thousands of people dying and screaming.

Josh ran into the forest, running up the hill slope with both the girls close to him. As he ran higher up the hill, he felt a few branches and leaves hitting his face. He felt the summer heat glaring down on him, his face burning and sweat rolling down in beads from his forehead and face. His breath came in brief huffs. Yet he did not stop. He couldn’t.

The sound of the creature chasing them was more than enough motivation to make him and the girls keep running. It charged through the forest, rushing past the trees, snapping the branches and cracking fallen sticks on the ground under its feet.

“KEEP MOVING!!!” Josh cried out.

He heard the sound of the Ceratosaurus’ jaws snapping hard. Then the sound of a loud crashing sound. Josh looked back, looking downhill. He saw the girls just maybe a yard or so behind him. The large predator had apparently fallen while pursuing them, flailing wildly on its side and kicking its clawed feet, his tail thumping on the ground. Again, it may have been comical if they weren’t running for their lives.

Josh and the girls managed to get some more distance before the dinosaur rolled over and stood back up, stomping a foot on the leaf-covered ground, growling and baring his sharp teeth like a mad dog. Back on his feet, the monstrous creature continued his chase.

That goddamn thing is relentless! Josh thought, returning his gaze back ahead of him. He then realized that he and the girls had finally come over the top of the hill. They may have reached the top of the slope, but he had a feeling that things were--metaphorically and literally--about to go downhill. He didn’t know much about how fast carnivorous dinosaurs could run down hills (though Jessie did once tell him that T. rex pretty much suck at sprinting on uneven or crowded terrain, but, obviously, they never really did see any rexes before), but he had a feeling that the Ceratosaurus would have no trouble catching up to them once he reached that point.

He rushed down the hill, reaching the bottom briskly. Out the corner of his eye, he saw that Jessie was almost running beside him, but not Tash.

It was at that point the worst possible thing happened (well, maybe not the absolute worst, but it was pretty damn close): Josh heard a yelp and someone fall. He saw Jessie stop suddenly moments after the sound and turn around.

“Tash!!” he heard Jessie cry.

Josh halted and looked back and gasped.

Tash had tripped and fallen forward, her face on the ground. He couldn’t see her face, but he knew that she must’ve been hurt. He noticed that her quiver full of arrows had somehow slipped off of her and laid a few feet from her.

“Natasha!!” Josh hollered. He prepared to rush back to her and help her up, but he heard a growl. He darted his head up and saw the Ceratosaurus stand on top of the hill. His yellow eyes locked on them, lifted his draconic head, and roared ferally. Josh got a horrifying view of the dinosaur’s mouth and teeth. He must’ve had nearly fifty of those suckers, each of them were shaped like the blades of knives and biggest ones about three inches.

He prepared to charge down the hill when he then turned his huge head, looking straight at Tash. Behind the horns on his brow, the killers eyes almost seemed to gleam as if to say An easy target. He hissed, his tongue sluggishly moving in his jaws.

Josh saw movement below his eyesight and looked down. Tash had managed to sit up turn and around facing the large dinosaur. Josh could see her visibly shaking in fear.

Holy shit!!

The Ceratosaurus screamed and charged down the hill, heading straight for Tash like a heat seeking missile.

“RUN TASH!” Jessie screamed as Josh shouted, “GET OUTTA THERE!!”

Tash stumbled to her feet and rushed away--in the wrong direction, fleeing to her left and heading deeper into the forest. Josh stared in horror as the dinosaur veered in the direction Tash had run off to. He saw the great monster’s three-toed foot crush Tash’s quiver, flattening it and snapping all the arrows it carried. It disappeared through the trees, chasing Tash.

Josh looked at Jessie, her face mirroring his own horrified expression. “We have to help her, Josh.”

Despite Josh’s fear of the dinosaur, he need Jessie was right. Tash was too precious to them to leave behind. They had to get her. He nodded. “Right.”

The two of them rushed in the direction Tash and the dinosaur shot off.

 

Natasha felt fear she couldn’t measure as she ran. She heard the dinosaur crashing through behind her, roaring and growling. She felt blood drip from her nose from when she fell and sweat roll from her brow. Despite the dull pain she felt from when she crashed, she just kept running. Leaves and branches touched her face as she ran past them.

She regretted that she didn’t run back with Joshua and Jessica and that she didn’t grab her quiver. She was just to scared to think. She had to get out of there. And by doing so, she was a sitting duck.

She imagined that the Ceratosaurus was closing the distance. She believed that the dinosaur would soon be right on top of her and finish her off. And without Josh and Jessie to help her, she was doomed. She feared the very worst.

But if she died, she would be with Stefan once more.

The ground turned to stone and she came to a halting stop on the edge of a huge gray boulder. She looked down instinctively, and she saw a wide and fast waterfall and a wide body of water. On the other side, she could see the rocky shoreline and more trees.

Oh, Jesus! she thought.

She had reached the river. How could she have missed it? She was trapped.

Or was she...?

She looked back. The dinosaur was just a few meters from her, howling savagely.

She squeezed her eyes shut, turning away from the animal. It was either get eaten or risk the river.

What choice do I have?

She braced herself, held her breath, and jumped. She heard jaws snap shut on empty air just before she splashed down. She was embraced by the wet, warm, rushing water. She felt her arrow slip off of her as the river carried her away. She tried to grab it, but it was swept away.

Tash rose to the surface and gasped for air. On the rocks, the Ceratosaurus over the falls, roaring angrily as he watched his prey get taken away from him by the river. He lashed his thick tail and shook his head.

Well, that was one problem taken care of, but now Tash had to figure out a way to get control of her body so she could swim. The only issue was that the current was too strong.

Her body was shaken and rolled around wildly like a toy in an energetic dog’s mouth. Her vision saw blurs of green, blue, and white. Many time, she would be dragged under the surface. Her mouth and nostrils would fill up with water.

Still, she tried to fight the might of river. Desperately, she clashed the river, gasping and spitting out water. But the might of the river was like the wrath of a mythical god.

Tash felt a sharp and sudden pain in the back of her skull. She had hit something hard. Instantly, whatever fight she had was taken right out of her. Her body disobediently went limp. Her eyes were on the verge of shutting.

Josh and Jessie came into her mind, and she felt a pang of sadness.

The last thing she thought before she slipped into darkness was, I’m sorry guys. I guess I didn’t make it.


Submitted: March 30, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Tyrannos Senpai. All rights reserved.

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Sylvermyst

I hope that Natasha will be alright. . . at least she got away from the dinosaur.
Great chapter.

Thu, May 2nd, 2019 3:10am

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Thank you.

Sun, May 5th, 2019 1:14am

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