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Reads: 207

Joshua lowered down to a couch, inspecting the ground in search of tracks. His eyes narrowed and sharp, like a predator stalking its prey. His movements were careful and thoughtful. As his orange eyes looked down, Jessica stood beside him. Seeing him with an expression of concentration was enough to make her heart flutter even on a bad day, but not this time. Today, it made her hold her breath in a combination of hope and despair.

Natasha had been missing without a trace for the last three days after she got separated from Jessie and Josh. The only thing they had were the bow, arrows, and quiver Tash carried before she got separated. And while the leather quiver survived being crushed under the foot of a two ton Ceratosaurus, all the arrows were broken and the bow snapped in half, connected only by the bow string. This meant that she was defenseless. Of course she had a hunting knife with a wicked sharp blade that could slash bleeding wounds into whatever Tash attempted to take down, but it was useless if used on larger animals. Plus, she'd need to be in close range, leaving her completely vulnerable to attack.

She had no way to protect herself.

The day following the attack, Jessie and Josh didn't waste any time; they packed their bags with supplies and began to search for her. They started out by heading to the place they saw her last time, when the dinosaur chased them. They followed the tracks until they came to the river. It was there when Jessie couldn't help but assume the worst had come to pass. However, as they continued downriver, they found the pack Tash had with her before the attack. The food was no longer edible, but it was a sure sign that she escaped into the water. Even so, it didn't prove whether Tash was still alive. Still, Josh wouldn't give up, neither did Jessica. They would not stop until the found Tash dead or alive.

They’ve been following the river since then, believing Tash was carried down the river to a different area. They were determined to find their lost friend, dead or alive.

It was hot in the forest, as usual this time of year, and the humidity didn't help make the prevention of sweating an easier; all the more reason to carry bags and fresh, clean water on the go. They were blanketed by the shadows of the treetops reaching out above them, the sun's rays peeking through tiny gaps among the leaves and branches. Thick bushes, sharp thorns, and tiny trees sprouted from the leaf litter on the ground around them. The scent of the air was strong and unpleasant, like some kind of swamp.

Jessie looked over Josh as he felt the ground with his hand. "You picked up anything yet?"

Josh sighed, putting his hand on his knee and looking up at her. "Nothing, sadly. No tracks, no blood, no signs of life except critter tracks. I think we need to continue downriver."

Jessie couldn't help but sigh. While the probability of Tash being washed up further down the river existed, she couldn't help but feel as if the more they look, the more it seems that they're no closer to finding their lost friend.

Josh seemed to notice her uneasiness straight away because he stood up, turned to face her, and slowly took her hand in his, lacing his fingers with her's. Jessie loved how his hands felt. Despite being rough from his constant hunts and trapping, they were gentle and warm. It was enough to help her relax. His orange eyes stared down at her, the bravest expression he could possibly summon on his face, but Jessie could still see the worry and fear in his eyes.

"It's gonna be okay, Jessie," he said, running a thumb across her hand. "Natasha is a true fighter. One that we have never known in our lives. If she's alive, she will survive long enough until we find her. Or until she finds us. I guess it's whatever happens first, I suppose."

Jessie found herself showing a small smile. Josh's words sent another feeling of hope through every fiber of her being. Worrying about Tash wasn't going to happen quicker if all they did was worry and think only about the worst. No; the only way was just to keep going, hope, and pray that Tash was alive, safe, and nearby.

"Plus, let's not forget about how we both first met her," Josh continued, twirling some of Jessie's pink hair around one of his fingers.

Jessie could never even attempt at losing the memory of her friend. Natasha had saved their lives that day and, believe it or not, it was during a time when Josh and Jessie could not stand being around each other.

 

It was spring, the late afternoon light filtering through the fresh greenery above. Jessica brushed her hair over her shoulder with the back of her hand, a haughty look on her face. She sat on a fallen log, watching Josh set up a tent. It was old, weathered, and had several holes that had been patched over. It was in a bad state, it didn't even look like a tent, more like a beaten up piece of cloth bunched up into an anamorphic shape. It was completely unfit for a lady like herself. But since it was the only one they had in possession at the moment, it would have to be enough to shelter them for the night. And of course Josh would be keeping the fire burning until morning to keep the predators that lurk in the night away. Jessie learned very quickly that night was as dangerous as day, especially since some of the dinosaurs were nocturnal.

As Josh worked, sweat built up on his bare arms and chest, his brows furrowed in concentration and frustration. He had been at this for a couple of hours, not including the times where the rods had slapped him and he clutched his face in agony. Dark bruises, one above his left eye and one on his right cheek, dotted his skin.

He looked at Jessie and frowned. "Hey, princess," he said, "I know you don't wanna get dirt on your fingers or get a hangnail, but could you at least be useful and help me out?"

"Hmph!" Jessie turned her nose up at him. "I told you already, I am tired and I am resting."

"Resting my ass. You've been sitting on that damn log ever since we'd make camp here. You're just watching me work."

Josh swung his hammer down, but instead of hitting the stake, he smashed his thumb. With a yell of pain, he dropped the hammer and clutched his thumb, rolling onto his back. "GODDAMN IT!" He cursed, his voice rippling with rage. "GODDAMN FUCKING ASSHOLE PIECE OF SHIT!!"

Jessie couldn't help but laugh at Josh. He looked totally ridiculous curled up and gripping his hand. "Precisely why I don't put up tents."

"Fuck you, Jessie!" He growled, quickly standing up and pointing an angry finger at her. "All you've done is being an annoying little bitch. I don't care how highly you think of yourself, I don't care if you think the world revolves all around you, you wouldn't last a day out here if I wasn't here. I've put up with this bullshit for five months, but this ends here and now. Either you help me from now on, or I'll leave you behind and let the dinosaurs decide what to do with you."

Jessie's laughter ground to a halt. In its place was rage. How dare he? The audacity! The nerve! He actually thought he had the gall to talk to her like that? No one ever speaks to her like that. Who does he think he is?

"Excuse me?" she said angrily. "You seriously think I need you?!"

"Oh?" Josh asked, folding his arms. "And I suppose you have all the basic survival techniques that'll keep you small white ass alive? You can't even bother with taking the time to make your own food or set up a tent. You're the most arrogant, stubborn, most unlady-like creature that I have ever met. I'd rather kiss a carnivore's tongue than deal with you!"

Jessie felt something in her head snap. Not the kind of violent feeling snap, but the I'm-incredibly-pissed-off kind of snap. And the power of that snap made her jolt up onto her feet, grab her lance, and shoulder her pack. "Is that so?" she said, venom dripping from her voice. "Well, if that's how you feel, then you won't ever have to see me again!"

"Fine by me! But don't come crying to me when you find out you can't survive on your own or the next time you have a predator chasing you, because I w--"

SNAP!!

The argument went completely silent and the two of them froze in place. In the midst of the unfolding chaos, the pair had no idea that they were being watched. And just as Jessie turned around, there was a huge commotion as large feet tramped on the ground with unbelievable speed. When Jessie's head faced the source of the noise, all she saw were jaws lined with sharp teeth coming straight at her.


Submitted: March 13, 2020

© Copyright 2022 Tyrannos Senpai. All rights reserved.

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