The Imperiled Actress
As the high altitude winds whipped into her face and eyes, Celeste ripped a strip of cloth from her borrowed grey uniform and used it to bind Thelonius’s wound.
“I’m all right,” he croaked unconvincingly.
As Celeste cinched the knot into place, she decided that he might be all right, but not right away.
She arose and looked around at the city below her. She could see to the west—what she guessed was the west, anyway—where a hundred slaves were gathered inside an open-roofed building. Moving through this crowd were two small figures who worked to break the chains with pickaxes. But what they could not see from the ground was that the Nazis were aware of this, and three groups of troopers were closing in on them from different directions while another squad relocated a heavy machinegun so that it might be brought to bear against the slaves.
A sick feeling crept up from Celeste’s stomach into her throat. Among the slaves were women and children, and even the most battle-eager young natives in their number were malnourished and unarmed. Against the coordinated fire of Nazi machineguns, it would not be a battle. It would be a slaughter.
Then the air around the pylon seemed alive with a buzzing cacophony that made her clap her hands over her ears. The biplane that had been carried into the Hollow Earth on the belly of the zeppelin swooped out of the misty clouds and rushed at her as if he meant to knock her over the side of the spire.
Celeste crouched over Thelonius, scooping him up in her arms to anchor herself against the winds while waving at the plane in hopes that the pilot would take mercy on her.
Despite her peril, the situation struck her as oddly funny. Here she was, a flaxen-haired actress trying to swat a biplane out of the sky while carrying an oversized monkey-man in her arms at the top of the tallest structure on the skyline. It seemed an oddly familiar image, if somehow reversed.
The plane’s machinegun blazed to life, and bullets exploded across the top of the platform, narrowly missing the two of them. Then the plane passed overhead, churning the air with prop wash that lifted them an inch off the platform and depositing perilously close to the edge. As the biplane swept out over the jungle and wheeled around for another pass, Celeste realized that she was screaming.
Her voice chased the drone of the airplane’s engines out past the walls of the city where it was answered by a thunderous roar from a mighty throat. An unrelenting thudding of titanic feet followed the roar, and a line of trees bent and broke to form a perfect line through the jungle towards the city. Suddenly a gigantic, coursing brown shape burst through the green tree line and hurtled, with the grace and power of a killer whale cresting the waves. It sailed over the walls of the ancient city to land with such an impact that Celeste felt the vibration all the way at the top of the hundred-foot spire.
Celeste gulped as she realized what it was that had come looking for her.
The Tyrannosaur had returned.