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The Lost World

The Lost World

Chapter 14

Thorne held his breath. He was trying to think what to do, but he couldn't think of anything at all. The animals were methodical, the first one moving aside so the second could enter as well,

Suddenly, from along the side of the store, a half-dozen glaring lights shone out in bright beams. The lights moved, splashed on the dinosaurs' bodies. The beams began to move back and forth in slow, erratic patterns, like searchlights.

The dinosaurs were clearly visible, and they didn't like it. They growled and tried to step away from the lights, but the beams moved continuously, searching them out, crisscrossing over their bodies. As the lights passed over their torsos, the skin paled in response, reproducing the movement of the beams, after the lights had moved on. Their bodies streaking white, fading to dark, streaking white again.

The lights never stopped moving, except when they shone into the faces of the dinosaurs, and into their eyes. The big eyes blinked beneath their hooded wings; the animals twitched their heads and ducked away, as if annoyed by flies.

The dinosaurs became agitated. They turned, backing out of the shed, and bellowed loudly at the moving lights.

Still the lights moved, relentlessly swinging back and forth in the night. The pattern of movement was complex, confusing. The dinosaurs bellowed again, and took a menacing step toward the lights. But it was half-hearted. They clearly didn't like being around these moving sources. After a moment, they shuffled off, the lights following them, driving them away past the tennis courts.

Thorne moved forward.

He heard Harding say, "Doc? Better get out of there, before they decide to come back."

Thorne moved quickly toward the lights. He found himself standing beside Levine and Harding. They were swinging fistfuls of flashlights back and forth.

They all went back to the store.

Inside, Levine slammed the door shut, and sagged back against it. "I was never so frightened in my entire life."

"Richard," Harding said coldly. "Get a grip on yourself." She crossed the room, and placed the flashlights on the counter.

"Going out there was insane," Levine said, wiping his forehead. He was drenched in sweat, his shirt stained dark.

"Actually, it was a slam dunk," Harding said. She turned to Thorne. "You could see they had a refractory period for skin response. It's fast compared to, say, an octopus, but it's still there. My assumption was that those dinosaurs were like all animals that rely on camouflage. They're basically ambushers. They're not particularly fast or active. They stand motionless for hours in an unchanging environment, disappearing into the background, and they wait until some unsuspecting meal comes along. But if they have to keep adjusting to new light conditions, they know they can't hide. They get anxious. And if they get anxious enough, they finally just run away. Which is what happened."

Levine turned and glared angrily at Thorne. "This was all your fault. If you hadn't gone out there that way, just wandering off - "

"Richard," Harding said, cutting him off. "We need gas or we'll never get out of here. Don't you want to get out of here?"

Levine said nothing. He sulked.

"Well," Thorne said, "there wasn't any gas in the shed anyway."

"Hey, everybody," Sarah said. "Look who's here!"

Arby came forward, leaning on Kelly. He had changed into clothes from the store: a pair of swimming trunks and a tee shirt that said "InGen Bioengineering Labs" and beneath, "We Make The Future."

Arby had a black eye, a swollen cheekbone, and a cut that Harding had bandaged on his forehead. His arms and legs were badly bruised. But he was walking, and he managed a crooked smile.

Thorne said, "How do you feel, son?"

Arby said, "You know what I want more than anything, right now?"

"What?" Thorne said.

"Diet Coke," Arby said. "And a lot of aspirin."

Sarah bent over Malcolm. He was humming softly, staring upward. "How is Arby?" he asked.

"He'll be okay."

"Does he need any morphine?" Malcolm asked.

"No, I don't think so."

"Good," Malcolm said. He stretched out his arm, rolling up the sleeve.

Thorne cleaned the nest out of the microwave, and heated up some canned beef stew. He found a package of paper plates decorated in a Halloween motif - pumpkins and bats - and spooned the food onto the plates. The two kids ate hungrily.

He gave a plate to Sarah, then turned to Levine. "What about you?"

Levine was staring out the window. "No."

Thorne shrugged.

Arby came over, holding his plate. "Is there any more?"

"Sure," Thorne said. He gave him his own plate.

Levine went over and sat with Malcolm. Levine said, "Well, at least we were right about one thing. This island was a true lost world - a pristine, untouched ecology. We were right from the beginning."

Malcolm looked over, and raised his head. "Are you joking?" he said. "What about all the dead apatosaurs?"

"I've been thinking about that," Levine said. "The raptors killed them, obviously. And then the raptors - "

"Did what? Malcolm said. "Dragged them to their nest? Those animals weigh hundreds of tons, Richard. A hundred raptors couldn't drag them. No, no." He sighed. "The carcasses must have floated to a bend in the river, where they beached. The raptors made their nest at a source of convenient food supply - dead apatosaurs."

"Well, possibly..."

"But why so many dead apatosaurs, Richard? Why do none of the animals attain adulthood? And why are there so many predators on the island?"

"Well. We need more data, of course - " Levine began.

"No, we don't," Malcolm said. "Didn't you go through the lab? We already know the answer."

"What is it?" Levine said, irritably.

"Prions," Malcolm said, closing his eyes.

Levine frowned. "What're prions?"

Malcolm sighed.

"Ian," Levine said, "What are prions?"

"Go away," Malcolm said, waving his hand.

Arby was curled up in a cornet, near sleep. Thorne rolled up a tee shirt, and put it under the boy's head. Arby mumbled something, and smiled.

In a few moments, he began to snore.

Thorne got up and went over to Sarah, who was standing by the window. Outside, the sky was beginning to lighten above the trees, turning pale blue.

"How much time now?" she said.

Thorne looked at his watch. "Maybe an hour."

She started to pace. "We've got to get gas," she said. "If we have gas we can drive the Jeep to the helicopter site."

"But there's no gas," Thorne said.

"There must be some, somewhere." She continued to pace. "You tried the pumps...."

"Yes, They're dry."

"What about inside the lab?"

"I don't think so."

"Where else? What about the trailer?"

Thorne shook his head. "It's just a passive tow-trailer. The other unit has an auxiliary generator and some gas tanks. But it went over the cliff."

"Maybe the tanks didn't rupture when it fell. We still have the motorcycle. Maybe I can go out there and - "

"Sarah," he said.

"It's worth a try."

"Sarah - "

From the window, Levine said softly, "Heads up. We have visitors."

Good Mother

In the predawn light, the dinosaurs came out of the bushes and went directly toward the Jeep. There were six of them, big brown duckbills fifteen feet high, with curving snouts.

"Maiasaurs," Levine said, "I didn't know there were any here." "What are they doing?"

The huge animals clustered around the jeep, and immediately began to tear it apart. One ripped away the canvas top. Another poked at the roll bar, rocking the vehicle back and forth.

"I don't understand," Levine said. "They're hadrosaurs. Herbivores. This aggressiveness is quite uncharacteristic."

"Uh-huh," Thorne said. As they watched, the maiasaurs tipped the jeep over. The vehicle crashed over on its side. One of the adults reared up, and stood on the side panels. Its huge feet crushed the vehicle inward.

But when the Jeep fell over, two white Styrofoam cases tumbled out onto the ground. The maiasaurs seemed to be focused on these cases. They nipped at the Styrofoam, tossing chunks of white around the ground. They moved hurriedly, in a kind of frenzy.

"Something to eat?" Levine said. "Some kind of dinosaur catnip? What?"

Then the top of one case tore away, and they saw a cracked egg inside. Protruding from the egg was a wrinkled bit of flesh. The maiasaurs slowed. Their movements were now cautious, gentle. They honked and grunted. The big bodies of the animals blocked their view.

There was a squeaking sound.

"You're kidding," Levine said.

On the ground, a tiny animal moved about. Its body was pale brown, almost white. It tried to stand, but flopped down at once. It was barely a foot long, with wrinkled folds of flesh around its neck. In a moment, a second animal tumbled out beside it.

Harding sighed.

Slowly, one of the maiasaurs ducked its huge head down, and gently scooped the baby up in its broad bill. It kept its mouth open as it raised its head. The baby sat calmly on the adult's tongue, looking around with its tiny head as it rose high into the air.

The second baby was picked up. The adults milled around for a moment, as if unsure whether there was more to do, and then, honking loudly, they all moved off.

Leaving behind a crumpled, shattered vehicle.

Thorne said, "I guess gas is no longer a problem."

"I guess not," Sarah said.

Thorne stared at the wreckage of the Jeep, shaking his head. "It's worse than a head-on collision," he said. "It looks like it's been put in a compactor. Just wasn't built for those sorts of stresses."

Levine snorted. "Engineers in Detroit didn't expect a five-ton animal to stand on it."

"You know," Thorne said, "I would have liked to see how our own car stood up under that."

"You mean, because we beefed it up?"

"Yes," Thorne said. "We really built it to take fantastic stresses. Huge stresses. Ran it through computer programs, added those honeycomb panels, the whole - "

"Wait a minute," Harding said, turning away from the window. "What are you talking about?"

"The other car," Thorne said.

"What other car?"

"The car we brought," he said. "The Explorer."

"Of course!" she said, suddenly excited. "There's another car! I completely forgot! The Explorer!"

"Well, it's history now," Thorne said. "It shorted out last night, when I was coming back to the trailer. I ran it through a puddle and it shorted out."

"So? Maybe it still - "

"No," Thorne said, shaking his head. "A short like that'd blow the VR. It's an electric car. It's dead."

"I'm surprised you don't have circuit breakers for that."

"Well, we never used to put them in, although on this latest version...He trailed off. He shook his head. "I can't believe it."

"The car has circuit breakers?"

"Yes, Eddie put them in, last minute."

"So the car might still run?"

"Yes, it probably would, if you reset the breakers."

"Where is it?" she said. She was heading for the motorcycle.

"I left it on that side road that runs from the ridge road down to the hide. But Sarah - "

"It's our only chance," she said. She pulled on her radio headset, adjusted the microphone to her cheek, and rolled the motorcycle to the door. "Call me," she said. "I'm going to go find us a car."

They watched through the windows. In the early-morning light, she climbed onto the motorcycle, and roared off up the hill.

Levine watched her go. "What do you figure her odds are?"

Thorne just shook his head.

The radio crackled. "Doc."

Thorne picked it up. "Yes, Sarah."

"I'm coming up the hill now. I see...there's six of them."

"Raptors?"

"Yeah. They're, uh...Listen. I'm going to try another path. I see a - "

The radio crackled.

"Sarah?" She was breaking up.

" - sort of a game trail that - here - think I better - "

"Sarah," Thorne said. "You're breaking up."

" - do now. So just - ish me luck.."

Over the radio, they heard the hum of the bike. Then they heard another sound, which might have been an animal snarl, and might have been more static. Thorne bent forward, holding the radio close to his ear. Then, abruptly, the radio clicked and was silent. He said, "Sarah?"

There was no answer.

"Maybe she turned it off," Levine said.

Thorne shook his head. "Sarah?"

Nothing.

"Sarah? Are you there?"

They waited.

Nothing.

"Hell," Thorne said.

Time passed slowly, Levine stood by the window, staring out. Kelly was snoring in a corner. Arby lay next to Malcolm, fast asleep. And Malcolm was humming tunelessly.

Thorne sat on the floor in the center of the room, leaning back against the checkout Counter. Every so often, he'd pick up the radio and try to call Sarah, but there was never any answer. He tried all six channels. There was no answer on any of them.

Eventually he stopped trying.

The radio crackled. " - ate these damned things. Never work right." A grunt. "Can't figure out what - things - damn."

Across the room, Levine sat forward.

Thorne grabbed the radio. "Sarah? Sarah?"

"Finally," she said, her voice crackling. "Where the hell have you been, Doc?"

"Are you all right?"

"Of course I'm all right."

"There's something wrong with your radio. You're breaking up."

"Yeah? What should I do?"

"Try screwing down the cover on your battery pack. It's probably loose."

"No. I mean, what should I do about the car?"

Thorne said, "What?"

"I'm at the car, Doc, I'm there. What should I do?"

Levine glanced at his watch. "Twenty minutes until the helicopter arrives, " he said. "You know, she just might make it."

Dodgson

Dodgson awoke, aching and stiff, on the floor of the concrete utility shed. He got to his feet, and looked out the window. He saw streaks of red in a pale-blue sky. He opened the door to the utility shed, and went outside.

He was very thirsty, and his body was sore. He started walking beneath the canopy of trees. The 'tingle around him was silent in the early morning. He needed water. More than anything, he needed water. Somewhere off to his left, he heard the soft gurgle of a stream. He headed toward it, moving more quickly.

Through the trees, he could see the sky growing lighter. He knew that Malcolm and his party were still here. They must have some plan to get off the island. If they could get off, he could too.

He came over a low rise, and looked down at a gully and a flowing stream. It looked clear. He hurried down toward it, wondering if it was polluted. He decided he didn't care. Just before he reached the stream, he tripped over a vine and fell, swearing.

He got to his feet, and looked back. Then he saw it wasn't a vine he had tripped over.

It was the strap of a green backpack.

Dodgson tugged at the strap, and the whole backpack slid out of the foliage. The pack had been torn apart, and it was crusty with dried blood. As he pulled it, the contents clattered out among the ferns. Flies were buzzing everywhere. But he saw a camera, a metal case for food, and a plastic water bottle. He searched quickly through the surrounding ferns. But he didn't find much else, except some soggy candy bars.

Dodgson drank the water, and then realized he was very hungry. He popped open the metal case, hoping for some decent food. But the case didn't contain food. It was filled with foam packing.

And in the center of the packing was a radio.

He flicked it on. The battery light glowed strongly. He flicked from one channel to another, hearing static.

Then a man's voice. "Sarah? This is Thorne. Sarah."

After a moment, a woman's voice: "Doc. Did you hear me? I said, I'm at the car."

Dodgson listened, and smiled.

So there was a car.

In the store, Thorne held the radio close to his cheek. "Okay," he said.

Sarah? Listen carefully. Get in the car, and do exactly what I tell you."

"Okay fine," she said. "But tell me first. Is Levine there?"

"He's here."

The radio clicked. She said, "Ask him if there's any danger from a green dinosaur that's about six feet tall and has a domed forehead."

Levine nodded. "Tell her yes. They're called pachycephalosaurs."

"He says yes," Thorne said. "They're pachycephalo-somethings, and you should be careful. Why?"

"Because there's about fifty of them, all around the car."

Explorer

The Explorer was sitting in the middle of a shady section of the road, with overhanging trees above. The car had stopped just beyond a depression, where there had no doubt been a large puddle the night before. Now the puddle had become a mudhole, thanks to the dozen or so animals that sat in it, splashed in it, drank from it, and rolled at its edges. These were the green dome-headed dinosaurs that she had been watcing for the last few minutes, trying to decide what to do. Because not only were they near the mudhole, they were also located in front of the car, and around the sides of the car.

She had watched the pachycephalosaurs with uneasiness. Harding had spent a lot of time on the ground with wild animals, but usually animals she knew well. From long experience, she knew how closely she could approach, and under what circumstances. If this were a herd of wildebeest, she would walk right in without hesitation. If it were a herd of American buffalo, she would be cautious, but she'd still go in. And if it was a herd of African buffalo, she wouldn't go anywhere near them.

She pushed the microphone against her cheek and said, "How much time left?"

"Twenty minutes."

"Then I better get in there," she said. "Any ideas?"

There was a pause. The radio crackled.

"Levine says nobody knows anything about these animals, Sarah."

"Great."

"Levine says a complete skeleton has never been recovered. So nobody has even a guess about their behavior, except that they're probably aggressive.

"Great," she said.

She was looking at the situation of the car, and the overhanging trees. It was a shady area, peaceful and quiet in the early-morning light.

The radio crackled. "Levine says you might try walking slowly in, and see if the herd lets you through. But no quick movements, no sudden gestures."

She stared at the animals and thought: They have those domed heads for a reason.

"No thanks," she said. "I'm going to try something else."

"What?"

In the store, Levine said, "What'd she say?"

"She said she was going to try something else."

"Like what?" Levine said. He went to the window and looked out. The sky was growing lighter. He frowned. There was some consequence to that, he thought. Something he knew in the back of his mind, but wasn't thinking about.

Something about daylight...

And territory.

Territory.

Levine looked out at the sky again, trying to put it together. What difference did it make that daylight was coming? He shook his head, gave it up for the moment. "How long to reset the breakers?"

"Just a minute or two," Thorne said.

"Then there might still be time," Levine said.

There was static hiss from the radio, and they heard Harding say, "Okay, I'm above the car."

"You're where?"

"I'm above the car," she said. "In a tree."

Harding climbed out on the branch, moving farther from the trunk, feeling it bend under her weight. The branch seemed supple. She was now ten feet above the car, swinging lower. Few of the animals below had looked up at her, but the herd seemed to be restless. Animals sitting in the mud got up, and began to turn and mill. She saw their tails flicking back and forth anxiously.

She moved farther out, and the branch bent lower. It was slippery from the night's rain. She tried to gauge her position above the car. It looked pretty good, she thought.

Suddenly, one of the animals charged the trunk of the tree she was in, butting it hard. The impact was surprisingly forceful. The tree swayed, her branch swinging up and down, while she struggled to hold on.

Oh shit, she thought.

She rose up into the air, came down again, and then she lost her grip. Her hands slipped on wet leaves and wet bark, and she fell free. At the last moment, she saw that she would miss the car entirely. Then she hit the ground, landing hard in muddy earth.

Right beside the animals.

The radio crackled. "Sarah?" Thorne said.

There was no answer.

"What's she doing now?" Levine began to pace nervously. "I wish we could see what she's doing."

In the corner of the room, Kelly got up, rubbing her eyes. "Why don't you use the video?"

Thorne said, "What video?"

Kelly pointed to the cash register. "'That's a computer."

"It is?"

"Yeah. I think so."

Kelly yawned as she sat in the chair facing the cash register. It looked like a dumb terminal, which meant it probably didn't have access to much, but it was worth a try anyway. She turned it on. Nothing happened. She flicked the power switch back and forth. Nothing.

Idly, she swung her legs, and kicked a wire beneath the table. She bent over and saw that the terminal was unplugged. So she plugged it in.

The screen glowed, and a single word appeared:

LOGIN:

To proceed further, she knew she needed a password. Arby had a password. She glanced over and saw that he was still asleep. She didn't want to wake him up. She remembered that he had written it down on a piece of paper and stuck it in his pocket. Maybe it was still in his clothes she thought. She crossed the room, found the bundle of his wet, muddy clothes, and began going through the pockets. She found his wallet, the keys to his house, and some other stuff. Finally she found a piece of paper in his back pocket. It was damp, and streaked with mud. The ink had smeared, but she could still read his writing:

VIG/&*849/

Kelly took the paper and went back to the computer. She typed in all the characters carefully, and pressed the return key. The screen went blank, and then a new screen came up. She was surprised. It was different from the screen she had seen earlier, in the trailer.

She was in the system. But the whole thing looked different. Maybe because this wasn't the radionet, she thought. She must be logged into the actual laboratory system. It had more graphics because the terminal was hard-wired. Maybe they even ran optical pipe out here.

Across the room, Levine said, "Kelly? How about it?"

"I'm working on it," she said,

Cautiously, she began to type. Rows of icons appeared rapidly across the screen, one after another.

She knew she was looking at a graphic interface of some kind, but the meaning of the images wasn't obvious to her, and there were no explanations. The people who had used this system were probably trained to know what the images meant. But Kelly didn't know. She wanted to get into the video system, yet none of the pictures suggested anything to do with video. She moved the cursor around, wondering what to do.

She decided she'd have to guess. She picked the diamond-shaped icon on the lower left, and clicked on it.

"Uh-oh," she said, alarmed.

Levine looked over. "Something wrong?"

"No," she said. "It's fine." She quickly clicked on the header, and got back to the previous screen. This time she tried one of the triangularshaped icons.

The screen changed again:

That's it, she thought. Immediately the image popped off, and the actual video images began to flash up on the screen. On this little cash register monitor, the pictures were tiny, but now she was in familiar territory, and she moved around quickly, moving the cursor, manipulating the images.

"What are you looking for?" she said.

"The Explorer," Thorne said.

She clicked the screen. The image zoomed up. "Got it," she said.

Levine said, "You do?" He sounded surprised.

Kelly looked at him and said, "Yeah, I do."

The two men came and stared at the screen over her shoulder. They could see the Explorer, on a shaded road. They could see the pachycephalosaurs, lots of them, milling around the car. The animals were poking at the tires and the front fender.

But they didn't see Sarah anywhere. "Where is she?" Thorne said.

Sarah Harding was underneath the car, lying on her face in the mud.

She had crawled there after she fell - it was the only place to go - and now she was staring out at the animals' feet milling all around her. She said, "Doc. Are you there? Doc? Doc." But the damned radio wasn't working again. The pachys were stamping and snorting, trying to get at her tinder the car.

Then she remembered that Thorne had said something about screwing down the battery pack. She reached behind her back, and found the pack, and twisted the cover shut tight.

Immediately, her earpiece began to crackle with static.

"Doc," she said.

"Where are you?" Thorne said.

"I'm under the car."

"Why? Did you already try it?"

"Try what?"

"Try to start it. To start the car."

"No," she said, "I didn't try to start it, I fell."

"Well, as long as you're under there, you can check the breakers," Thorne said.

"The breakers are under the car?"

"Some of them. Look up by the front wheels."

She twisted her body, sliding in the mud. "Okay. I'm looking."

"There's a box right behind the front bumper. Over on the left."

"I see it."

"Can you open it?"

"I think so." She crawled forward, and pulled at the latch. The lid came down. She was staring at three black switches. "I see three switches and they are all pointing up."

"Up?"

"Toward the front of the car."

"Hmmm," Thorne said. "That doesn't make sense. Can you read the writing?"

"Yes. It says '15 VV' and then '02 R."'

"Okay," he said. "That explains it."

"What?"

"The box is in backward. Flip all the switches the other way. Are you dry?"

"No, Doc. I'm soaking wet, lying in the damn mud."

"Well then, use your shirtsleeve or something."

Harding pulled herself forward, approaching the bumper. The nearest pachys snorted and banged on the bumper. They leaned down and twisted their heads, trying to get to her. "They have very bad breath," she said.

"Say again?"

"Never mind." She flipped the switches, one after another. She heard a hum, from the car above her. "Okay. I did it. The car is making a noise.

"That's fine," Thorne said.

"What do I do now?"

"Nothing. You better wait."

She lay back in the mud, looking at the feet of the pachys. They were moving, tramping all around her.

"How much time left?" she said.

"About ten minutes."She said, "Well, I'm stuck under here, Doc."

"I know."

She looked at the animals. They were on all sides of the car. If anything, they seemed to be growing more active and excited. They stamped their feet and snuffled impatiently. Why were they so worked up? she wondered. And then, suddenly, they all thundered off. They ran toward the front of the car, and away, up the road. She twisted her body and watched them go.

There was silence.

"Doc?" she said.

"Yeah."

"Why'd they leave?"

"Stay under the car," Thorne said.

"Doc?"

"Don't talk." The radio clicked off.

She waited, not sure what was happening. She had heard the tension in Thorne's voice. She didn't know why. But now she heard a soft scuffling sound, and looking over, saw two feet standing by the driver's side of the car.

Two feet in muddy boots.

Men's boots.

Harding frowned. She recognized the boots. She recognized the khaki trousers, even though they were now caked with mud.

It was Dodgson.

The man's boots turned to face the door. She heard the door latch click. Dodgson was getting in the car.

Harding acted so swiftly, she was not aware of thinking. Grunting, she swung her body around sideways, reached out with her arms, grabbed both ankles, and pulled hard. Dodgson fell, giving a yell of surprise. He landed on his back, and turned, his face dark and angry.

He saw her and scowled. "No shit," he said. "I thought I finished you off on the boat."

Harding went red with rage, and started to crawl out from under the car. Dodgson scrambled to his knees as she was halfway out, but then she felt the ground begin to shake. And she immediately knew why. She saw Dodgson look over his shoulder, and flatten himself on the ground. Hurriedly, he started to crawl under the car beside her.

She turned in the mud, looking down along the length of the car. And she saw a tyrannosaurus coming up the road toward them. The ground vibrated with each step. Now Dodgson was crawling toward the center of the car, pushing himself close to her, but she ignored him. She watched the big feet with the splayed claws as they came alongside the car, and stopped. Each foot was three feet long. She heard the tyrannosaur growling.

She looked at Dodgson. His eyes were wide with terror. The tyrannosaur paused beside the car. The big feet shifted. She heard the animal somewhere above, sniffing. Then, growling again, the head came down. The lower jaw touched the ground. She could not see the eye, just the lower jaw. The tyrannosaur sniffed again, long and slow.

It could smell them.

Beside her, Dodgson was trembling uncontrollably. But Harding was strangely calm. She knew what she had to do. Quickly, she shifted her body, twisting around, moving so her head and shoulders were braced against the rear wheel of the car. Dodgson turned to look at her just as her boots began to push against his lower legs. Pushing them out from beneath the car.

Terrified, Dodgson struggled, trying to push back, but her position was much stronger. Inch by inch, his boots moved out into the cold morning light. Then his calves. She grunted as she pushed, concentrating every ounce of her energy. In a high-pitched voice, Dodgson said, "What the hell are you doing?"

She heard the tyrannosaur growling. She saw the big feet move.

Dodgson said, "Stop it! Are you crazy? Stop it!"

But Harding didn't stop. She got her boot on his shoulder, and pushed once more. For a while Dodgson struggled against her, and then suddenly his body moved easily, and she saw that the tyrannosaur had his legs in its jaws and was pulling Dodgson out from under the car.

Dodgson wrapped his hands around her boot, trying to hold on, trying to drag her with him. She put her other boot on his face and kicked hard. He let go. He slid away from her.

She saw his terrified face, ashen, month open. No words came out. She saw his fingers, digging into the mud, leaving deep gouges as he was pulled away. And then his body was dragged out. Everything was strangely quiet. She saw Dodgson spin around onto his back, and look upward. She saw the shadow of the tyrannosaur fall across him. She saw the big head come down, the jaws wide. And she heard Dodgson begin to scream as the jaws closed around his body, and he was lifted up.

Dodgson felt himself rise high into the air, twenty feet above the ground, and all the time he continued to scream. He knew at any moment the animal would snap its great jaws shut, and he would die. But the jaws never closed. Dodgson felt stabbing pain in his sides, but the jaws never closed.

Still screaming, Dodgson felt himself carried back into the jungle. High branches of trees lashed his face, The hot breath of the animal whooshed in snorts over his body. Saliva dripped onto his torso. He thought he would pass out from terror.

But the jaws never closed.

Inside the store, they stared at the tiny monitor as Dodgson was carried away in the jaws of the tyrannosaur. Over the radio, they heard his tinny distant screams.

"You see?" Malcolm said. "There is a God."

Levine was frowning. "The rex didn't kill him." He pointed to the screen. "Look, there, you can see his arms are still moving. Why didn't it kill him?"

Sarah Harding waited until the screams faded. She crawled out from beneath the car, standing up in the morning light. She opened the door and got behind the wheel. The key was in the ignition; she gripped it with muddy fingers. She twisted it.

There was a chugging sound, and then a soft whine. All the dashboard lights came on. Then silence. Was the car working? She turned the wheel and it moved easily. So the power steering was on.

"Doc."

"Yes, Sarah."

"The car's working. I'm coming back."

"Okay," he said. "Hurrv."

She put it in drive, and felt the transmission engage. The car was unusually quiet, almost silent. Which was why she was able to hear the faint thumping of a distant helicopter.

Daylight

She was driving beneath a thick canopy of trees, back toward the village. She heard the sound of the helicopter build in intensity. Then it roared overhead, unseen through the foliage above. She had the window down, and was listening. It seemed to move off to her right, toward the south.

The radio clicked. "Sarah."

"Yes, Doc."

"Listen: we can't communicate with the helicopter."

"Okay," she said. She understood what had to be done. "Where's the landing site?"

"South. About a mile. There's a clearing. Take the ridge road."

She was coming up to the fork. She saw the ridge road going off to the right. "Okay," she said. "I'm going."

"Tell them to wait for us," Thorne said. "Then come back and get us."

"Everybody okay?" she said.

"Everybody's fine," Thorne said.

She followed the road, hearing a change in the sound of the helicopter. She realized it must he landing. The rotors continued, a low whirr, which meant the pilot wasn't going to shut down.

The road curved off to the left. The sound of the helicopter was now a muted thumping. She accelerated, driving fast, careening around the corner. The road was still wet from the rains the night before. She wasn't raising a cloud of dust behind her. There was nothing to tell anyone that she was here.

"Doc. How long will they wait?"

"I don't know," Thorne said, over the radio. "Can you see it?"

"Not yet," she said.

Levine stared out the window. He looked at the lightening sky, through the trees. The streaks of red were gone. It was now a bright even blue. Daylight was definitely coming.

Daylight...

And then he put it together. He shivered as he realized. He went to the window on the opposite side, looked out toward the tennis court. He stared at the spot where the carnotauruses had been the night before. They were gone now.

Just as he feared.

"This is bad," he said.

"It's only just now eight," Thorne said, glancing at his watch. "How long will it take her?" Levine said.

"I don't know. Three or four minutes."

"And then to get back?" Levine said.

"Another five minutes."

"I hope we make it that long." He was frowning unhappily.

"Why?" Thorne said. "We're okay."

"In a few minutes," Levine said, "we'll have direct sun shining down outside."

"So what?" Thorne said.

The radio clicked. "Doc," Sarah said. "I see it. I see the helicopter."

Sarah came around a final curve and saw the landing site off to her left. The helicopter was there, blades spinning. She saw another junction in the road, with a narrow road leading left down a hill, into jungle, and then out to the clearing, She drove down it, descending a series of switchbacks, forcing her to go slow. She was now back in the jungle, beneath the canopy of trees. The ground leveled out, she splashed across a narrow stream, and accelerated forward.

Directly ahead there was a gap in the tree canopy, and sunlight on the clearing beyond. She saw the helicopter. Its rotors were beginning to spin faster - it was leaving! She saw the pilot behind the bubble, wearing dark glasses. The pilot checked his watch, shook his head to the copilot, and then began to lift off.

Sarah honked her horn, and drove madly forward. But she knew they could not hear her. Her car bounced and jolted. Thorne was saying, "What is it? Sarah! What's happening?"

She drove forward, leaning out the window, yelling "Wait! Wait!" But the helicopter was already rising into the air, lifting up out of her view. The sound began to fade. By the time her car burst out of the jungle into the clearing, she saw the helicopter heading away, disappearing over the rocky rim of the island.

And then it was gone.

Let's stay calm," Levine said, pacing the little store. "Tell her to get back right away. And let's stay calm." He seemed to be talking to himself. He walked from one wall to the next, pounding the wooden planks with his fist. He shook his head unhappily. "Just tell her to hurry. You think she can be back in five minutes?"

"Yes," Thorne said. "Why? What is it, Richard?"

Levine pointed out the window. "Daylight," he said. "We're trapped here in daylight."

"We were trapped here all night, too," Thorne said. "We made it okay."

"But daylight is different," Levine said.

"Why?"

"Because at night," he said, "this is carnotaurus territory. Other animals don't come in. We saw no other animals at all around here, last night. But once daylight comes, the carnotaurus can't hide any more. Not in open spaces, in direct sunlight. So they'll leave. And then this won't be their territory any more.

"Which means?"

Levine glanced at Kelly, over by the computer. He hesitated, then said, "Just take my word for it. We have to get out of here right away."

"And go where?"

Sitting at the computer, Kelly listened to Thorne talking to Dr. Levine. She fingered the piece of paper with Arby's password on it. She felt very nervous. The way Dr. Levine was talking was making her nervous. She wished Sarah was back by now. She would feel better when Sarah was here,

Kelly didn't like to think about their situation. She had been holding herself together, keeping up her spirits, until the helicopter came. But now the helicopter had come and gone. And she noticed neither of the men was talking about when it would come back. Maybe they knew something. Like it wasn't coming back.

Dr. Levine was saying they had to get out of the store. Thorne was asking Dr. Levine where he wanted to go. Levine said, "I'd prefer to get off this island, but I don't see how we can. So I suppose we should make our way back to the trailer. It's the safest place now."

Back to the trailer, she thought. Where she and Sarah had gone to get Malcolm. Kelly didn't want to go back to the trailer.

She wanted to go home.

Tensely, Kelly smoothed out the piece of damp paper, pressing it flat on the table beside her. Dr. Levine came over. "Stop fooling around," he said. "See if you can find Sarah."

"I want to go home," Kelly said.

Levine sighed. "I know, Kelly", he said. "We all want to go home." And he walked away again, moving quickly, tensely.

Kelly pushed the paper away, turning it over, and sliding it under the keyboard, in case she should need the password again. As she did so, her eye was caught by some writing on the other side.

She pulled the paper out again.

She saw:

SITE B LEGENDS

EAST WING   WEST WING   LOADING BAY

LABORATORYASSEMBLY BAYENTRANCE

OUTLYINGMAIN CORE   GEO TURBINE

CONVENIENCE STORE WORKER VILLAGE  GEO CORE

GAS STATION   POOL/TENNIS   PUTTING GREENS

MGRS HOUSEJOG PATHGAS LINES

SECURITY ONESECURITY TWOTHERMAL LINES

RIVER DOCKBOATHOUSE SOLAR ONE

SWAMP ROADRIVER ROADRIDGE ROAD

MTN VIEW ROAD   CLIFF ROAD  HOLDING PENS

She realized at once what it was: a screen shot from Levine's apartment. From the night when Arby had been recovering files from the computer. It seemed like a million years ago, another lifetime. But it had really been only...what? Two days ago.

She remembered how proud Arby had been when he had recovered the data. She remembered how they had all tried to make sense of this list. Now, of course, all these names had meaning. They were all real places: the laboratory, the worker village, the convenience store, the gas station....

She stared at the list.

You're kidding, she thought.

"Dr. Thorne," she said. "I think you better look at this."

Thorne stared as she pointed at the list. "You think so?" he said.

"That's what it says: a boathouse."

"Can you find it, Kelly?"

"You mean, find it on the video?" She shrugged. "I can try."

"Try," Thorne said. He glanced at Levine, who was across the room, pounding on the walls again. He picked up the radio.

"Sarah? It's Doc."

And the radio crackled. "Doc? I've had to stop for a minute"

"Why?" Thorne said.

Sarah Harding was stopped on the ridge road. Fifty yards ahead, she saw the tyrannosaur, going down the road away from her. She could see that he had Dodgson in his month. And somehow, Dodgson was still alive. His body was still moving. She thought she could hear him scream.

She was surprised to find she had no feeling about him at all. She watched dispassionately as the tyrannosaur left the road, and headed off down a slope, back into the jungle.

Sarah started the car, and drove cautiously forward.

At the computer console, Kelly flicked through video images, one after another, until finally she found it: a wooden dock, enclosed inside a shed or a boathouse, open to the air at the far end. The interior of the boathouse looked in pretty good shape; there weren't a lot of vines and ferns growing over things. She saw a powerboat tied up, rocking against the dock. She saw three oil drums to one side. And out the back of the boathouse there was open water, and sunlight- it looked like a river.

"What do you think?" she said to Thorne.

"I think it's worth a try," he said, looking over her shoulder. "But where is it? Can you find a map?"

"Maybe," she said. She flicked the keys and managed to get back to the main screen, with its perplexing icons.

Arby awoke, yawned, and came over to look at what she was doing. "Nice graphics. You logged on, huh?"

"Yeah," she said. "I did. But I'm having a little trouble figuring it out.

Levine was pacing, staring out the windows. "This is all well and good," he said, "but it is getting brighter out there by the minute. Don't you understand? We need a way out of here. This building is single-wall construction. It's fine for the tropics, but it's basically a shack."

"It'll do," Thorne said.

"For three minutes, maybe. I mean, look at this," Levine said. He walked to the door, rapped it with his knuckles. "This door is just - "

With a crash, the wood splintered around the lock, and the door swung open. Levine was thrown aside, landing hard on the floor.

A raptor stood hissing in the doorway.

A Way Out

Sitting at the console, Kelly was frozen in terror. She watched as Thorne ran forward from the side, throwing the full weight of his body against the door, slamming it hard against the raptor. Startled, the animal was knocked back. The door closed on its clawed hand. Thorne leaned against the door. On the other side, the animal snarled and pounded.

"Help me!" Thorne shouted. Levine scrambled to his feet and ran forward, adding his weight.

"I told you!" Levine shouted.

Suddenly there were raptors all around the store. Snarling, they threw themselves at the windows, denting the steel bars, pushing them in toward the glass. They slammed against the wooden walls, knocking down shelves, sending cans and bottles clattering to the floor. In several places, the wood began to splinter on the walls.

Levine looked back at her: "Find a way out of here!"

Kelly stared. The computer was forgotten.

"Come on, Kel," Arby said, "Concentrate."

She turned back to the screen, unsure what to do. She clicked on the cross in the left corner. Nothing happened. She clicked on the upper-left circle. Suddenly, icons began to print out rapidly, filling the screen.

"Don't worry, there must be a key to explain it, Arby said. "We just need to know what - "

But Kelly was not listening, she was pressing more buttons and moving the cursor, already trying to get something to happen, to get a help screen, something. Anvthing.

Suddenly, the whole screen began to twist, to distort.

"What did you do?" Arby said, in alarm.

Kelly was sweating. "I don't know," she said. She pulled her hands away from the keyboard.

It's worse," Arhy said. "You made it worse."

The screen continued to squeeze together, the icons shifting, distorting slowly as they watched.

"Come on, kids!" Levine shouted.

"We're trying!" Kelly said.

Arby said, "It's becoming a cube."

Thorne pushed the big glass-walled refrigerator in front of the door. The raptor slammed against the metal, rattling the cans inside.

"Where are the guns?" Levine said.

"Sarah has three in her car."

"Great." At the windows, some of the bars were now so deeply dented that they broke the glass. Along the right-hand wall, the wood was splintering, tearing open big gaps.

"We have to get out of here," Levine shouted at Kelly. "We have to find a way!" He ran to the rear of the store, to the bathrooms. But a moment later he returned. "They're back there, too!"

It was happening fast, all around them.

On the screen, she now saw a rotatlng cube, turning in space. Kelly didn't know how to stop it.

"Come on, Kel," Arby said, peering at her through swollen eyes. "You can do it. Concentrate. Come on."

Everyone in the room was shouting. Kelly stared at the cube on the screen, feeling hopeless and lost. She didn't know what she was doing any more. She didn't know why she was there. She didn't know what the point of anything was. Why wasn't Sarah here?

Standing beside her, Arby said, "Come on. Do the icons one at a time, Kel. You can do it. Come on. Stay with it. Focus."

But she couldn't focus. She couldn't click on the icons, they were rotating too fast on the screen. There must be parallel processors to handle all the graphics. She just stared at it. She found herself thinking of all sorts of things - thoughts that just came unbidden into her mind.

The cord under the desk.

Hard-wired.

Lots of graphics.

Sarah talking to her in the trailer.

"Come on, Kel. You have to do this now. Find a way out."

In the trailer, Sarah said: Most of what people tell you will be wrong"

It's important, Kel," Arby said. He was trembling as he stood beside her. She knew he concentrated on computers as a way to block things out. As a way to -

The wall splintered wide, an eight-inch plank cracking inward, and a raptor stuck his head through, snarling, snapping his jaws.

She kept thinking of the cord under the desk. The cord under the desk. Her legs had kicked the cord under the desk.

The cord under the desk.

Arby said, "It's important."

And then it hit her.

"No," she said to him, "It's not important," And she dropped off the seat, crawling down under the desk to look.

"What are you doing?" Arby screamed.

But already Kelly had her answer. She saw the cable from the computer going down into the floor, through a neat hole. She saw a seam in the wood. Her fingers scrabbled at the floor, pulling at it. And suddenly the panel came away in her hands. She looked down. Darkness.

Yes.

There was a crawlspace. No, more. A tunnel.

She shouted, "Here!"

The refrigerator fell forward. The raptors crashed through the front door. From the sides, other animals tore through the walls, knocking over the display cases. The raptors sprang into the room, snarling and ducking. They found the bundle of Arby's wet clothes and snapped at them, ripping them apart in fury.

They moved quickly, hunting.

But the people were gone.

Escape

Kelly was in the lead, holding a flashlight. They moved, single file, along damp concrete walls. They were in a tunnel four feet square, with flat metal racks of cables along the left side. Water and gas pipes ran near the ceiling. The tunnel smelled moldy. She heard the squeak of rats.

They came to a Y-junction. She looked both ways. To the right was a long straight passageway, going into darkness. It probably led to the laboratory, she thought. To the left was a much shorter section of tunnel, with stairs at the end.

She went left.

She crawled up through a narrow concrete shaft, and pushed open a wooden trapdoor at the top. She found herself in a small utility building, surrounded by cables and rusted pipes. Sunlight streamed in through broken windows. The others climbed up beside her.

She looked out the window, and saw Sarah Harding driving down the hill toward them.

Harding drove the Explorer along the edge of the river. Kelly was sitting beside her in the front seat. They saw a wooden sign for the boathouse up ahead.

"So it was the graphics that gave you the clue, Kelly?" Harding said, admiringly.

Kelly nodded. "I just suddenly realized, it didn't matter what was actually on the screen. What mattered was there was a lot of data being manipulated, millions of pixels spinning there, and that meant there had to be a cable. And if there was a cable there must be a space for it. And enough space that workmen could repair it, all of that."

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