The Imperiled Actress
The dinosaur sneezed again and shook its head convulsively, then coiled in on itself like a cat about to pounce, its eyes locked on the pylon. But before it could crash through the stone structure, Jack Steele stepped forward from the rubble of a nearby building. He had recovered a submachine gun, which he used to drill a tight red pattern just below the tyrannosaur’s ribs.
The tyrannosaur turned and made ready to stomp Jack out of existence when Maia sprinted in from the opposite direction, rolled to her back almost at the dinosaur’s feet and fired her shotgun up into its pale underbelly.
The tyrannosaur yelped and its head swung around, its jaws open wide to snatch up this newest threat, but Maia was on her feet and running to keep behind in the dinosaur’s blind spot behind its tail.
As the dinosaur turned around in place, a chunk of masonry sailed through the air to strike it on the flank, followed almost immediately by another small boulder that splintered against the tyrannosaur’s knee. These had been hurled by a giant, bearded man who now rushed to Jack’s side, scooping up a chunk of granite on his way. As he approached, a flight of arrows peppering the dinosaur’s haunch, and Celeste saw that they had come from the bows of two women, one who looked like she was half panther, and the other tall and beautiful. The tall woman’s leg was bound in a crude splint that forced her to fire from a seated position, but this seemed to have little effect on her ability to launch arrows with great power and accuracy.
The Tyrannosaur wheeled and spun, uttering shortened roars and angry snaps of its teeth. It was doing something Celeste would not have guessed possible: it was backing down. It stepped away from the pylon slowly, eyeing its foes as it hissed like an angry cat.
Thelonius finally had the blunderbuss primed, and he handed it to Celeste. She aimed it down at the tyrannosaur but did not fire. She could see her allies below were also reloading, knocking their arrows, or searching for more stones. Yet they, too, held back as the tyrannosaur’s burning orange eyes flashed at each of them in turn.
For a moment, Celeste wondered if it was simply readying itself for another charge. It could kill any one of them it chose to—most easily her, simply by knocking into the pylon—but her friends were spread out and ready, and they might be able to gravely injure the beast. She prayed that somewhere in that tiny reptilian brain, the tyrannosaur was aware that discretion would be the better part of monstrousness.
The tyrannosaur roared again and took another step backwards, then two more. Seemingly satisfied that no one would pursue, it ducked its head quickly, like a bird pecking at seeds, and came up with the trampled body of a Nazi between its teeth. It eyed the living humans for another moment, probably to see if they would make a challenge for its kill, but none did. Apparently satisfied, the tyrannosaur turned and loped of towards the jungle, limping slightly.
Celeste dropped the blunderbuss and allowed herself to collapse to her knees in relief. Somewhere past the walls, she could hear the heavy tread of the tyrannosaur’s feet carrying it away into the jungle, and she thought she heard one last gargantuan sneeze.