People keep asking, “Is it done yet?” And for the past couple of weeks I’ve been saying, “Almost!” (Every time I finish a “final draft,” I think, Gotta go over it one more time …”)
I’m talking about “Time Crunch,” of course, which is the sequel to “Time Snap.” But I’m just about there. (The problem is that there are a lot more dinosaurs in this one, and I’m trying to keep everything accurate and factual. But if you’ve ever tried researching dinosaurs, you realize no one really knows what they’re talking about. Take T-rex, for instance. Every site you read will give you different facts regarding its size, weight, eating habits, and just when did they live? It’s hard knowing which numbers to go with.)
Anyway, I’m just double-checking a last few things, and we’ll be done. In the meantime, here’s the second part of the prologue. (If you haven’t read Part I, you might want to back up and take a look before reading on!)
PROLOGUE PART II
THE DINOSAUR stood perfectly still, but Zach could see its eyes moving, flicking back and forth like a bird’s as it searched the trees. Zach could see the animal’s nostrils, which were at the very end of the snout.
Just like a tyrannosaur’s …
Paleontologists once thought tyrannosaurs spent so much time in the water their nostrils must have been high on their heads, enabling them to breathe. But Zach knew from experience that a tyrannosaur’s nostrils were at the end of its snout, further evidence of its ability to sniff out prey.
So this thing might be able to do the same thing, he thought grimly. It does, and—
There was a sound like distant thunder, and Zach glanced up before realizing: That’s not thunder! That’s a growl! The thing’s growling! What—
There was a soft crunch behind his tree, the sound of something stepping on a dry stick.
Zach’s stomach dropped.
He kicked himself, realizing he’d been so focused upon the shoulder-slashed animal that he’d let the other one—the one he’d been running from—sneak up behind him.
Can’t believe I’m so stupid! he thought glumly. He scrunched even closer to the tree, trying to make himself as small as possible. There was a heavy chuff and—
I can hear it breathing! It’s so close I can actually hear it breathing! And—
—he became aware of a foul, sickly odor like rotting garbage.
Holy crap! I can actually smell it!
He tried easing beneath a heavy fern, praying the animals wouldn’t spot him, but knowing they didn’t actually have to see him. If they could smell even half as well as tyrannosaurs, he didn’t have a chance.
THE DINOSAUR WITH the slashed shoulder remained perfectly still, its eyes locked on a spot behind Zach. It was still growling—
But not in fear, Zach thought, breathing rapidly. But in warning …
There was a rustle of leaves … not from behind, but from the side. Zach tried to look without turning his head. There was a crack—and a crunch—and a third dinosaur stepped from the trees. The animal had a black nose and jagged, snaggled teeth.
Snaggle Tooth abruptly lowered its head and bellowed.
Zach cringed beneath the fern, clamping his hands over his ears. The first dinosaur—Slash—snapped around and roared in reply. A second later the unseen dinosaur roared, then stepped past the tree, an enormous red, three-toed foot crushing plants and ferns just inches from Zach’s hiding place.
Zach clenched his fists—fighting not to react—as he gawked through the leaves. Snaggle Tooth had taken another step, showing rows of crooked yellow teeth as it snapped its head back and forth. It roared defiantly, then abruptly raced forward. Zach felt the ground shake as the enormous dinosaur rushed through the brush toward him.
—unable to stop himself. It was pure reflex, but it didn’t matter. The red dinosaur roared, then charged forward. The animal was the color of dried blood, and Zach gaped, amazed at its speed.
The dinosaurs slammed together. Snaggle Tooth buckled under the impact and Big Red was instantly upon it. Red clamped down on Snaggle Tooth’s shoulder, sinking its teeth deep into the flesh. It shook its head, trying to rip through the tough muscle.
Snaggle Tooth roared in fury. It twisted away, lashing out with a clawed foot that ripped Red across the belly, shooting a spray of hot blood into the air—
There was a terrible roar—a shriek like a rusty saw biting into rocks—and Slash tore into the clash, snapping at Red’s neck, then slashing at Snaggle Tooth with a powerful clawed foot.
Zach was staggered by the violence of the fight, and he shrank back in the brush. The raging animals were just thirty feet away—a writhing mass of twisting, surging bodies—flinging broken branches, torn foliage, and uprooted shrubs into the air as they battled.
Zach began to wheeze, but couldn’t tear his eyes from the struggle; couldn’t believe animals could fight with such savagery.
Slash abruptly lost its footing and fell, but was instantly up again. It crouched, ready to leap back into the fight, but the other two were tangled together in a vicious tangle of snarling, slashing rage. In their fury they collided with the leaping dinosaur. Slash was thrown backward toward Zach, legs and forearms clawing at the air.
Zach curled into a ball, certain he was about to crushed, but the dinosaur caught itself and leaped back to its feet. It spun around, its powerful tail whipping through the brush and striking Zach across the shoulder.
It was like being hit by a speeding truck.
Zach flew through the brush—arms and legs flapping uselessly—and landed hard on the opposite shoulder. The impact drove the breath from his lungs in a painful whoosh. He rolled over, shook his head clear, then looked up just as another tail snapped toward him. He ducked, then rolled away as Red crashed onto its side, exactly where Zach had been a split-second earlier.
Zach began army-crawling like a four-legged centipede, but Snaggle Tooth and Slash were suddenly in front of him, a crazed, horrible ball of snapping jaws and slashing claws—
Zach spun around, but Red blocked the way as it again barreled into the clash. Zach screamed as a massive foot crunched down on his leg—
—mashing it hard into the dirt as the animal rushed past.
Zach screwed his eyes shut in agony, then wrenched them open again. Hot tears stung his eyes, from both the pain and the terror.
There was a rotting log just ahead, and Zach scudded toward it, dragging his injured leg. The dinosaurs seemed to be all around him—first over him, then to the left, then to the right—and there was nowhere to go. He flattened himself beside the log just as one of the animals crashed to the ground, the log keeping it from mashing Zach into jelly.
Zach struggled to breathe as the fight raged on. A heavy foot crashed over the log, a curved claw catching Zach across his injured leg, but was just as quickly gone again. Zach fought the urge to curl into a ball, forcing himself to lay flat alongside the log, knowing it was the only thing keeping him from being crushed. It was—
One of the dinosaurs abruptly slammed to the ground, directly on top of the log, smashing Zach’s face into the dirt.
Zach tried to breathe, but the dinosaur was crushing him, squashing his lungs. He could feel the animal’s hot, rough skin against his arms and neck, felt something wet soaking into his shirt.
There was a horrendous roar as the dinosaur twisted—
—grinding Zach even deeper into the dirt. The dinosaur lurched—
—and was back on its feet. With a terrible shriek it charged the others, kicking Zach’s log as it leaped.
Zach gasped for breath. Crushed by the weight of the dinosaur, his ribs burned like fire, hurt so bad he was certain one or more of them was broken.
He coughed—thought he tasted blood—then gathered his strength and crawled through the crushed, mangled ferns toward a nearby tree. He hurt everywhere, certain he was suffering injuries worse than strains, sprains, and bruises.
He dragged himself behind the tree, breathing hard. His shirt was wet, and sticky, and when he touched it his hand came away red with blood. He cringed, but thought: No, it’s not me … it’s from one of the dinosaurs!
The fight was still raging fiercely in the trees, just feet away. The animals were roaring, bellowing, screeching, snorting—
Zach had never heard such horrible sounds, prayed that he never would again. He glanced back around the tree just as Red bit down on the back of Slash’s neck, then buckled as Snaggle Tooth rammed in from the side, folding the crimson dinosaur like a soggy taco.
Zach turned back for the forest, away from the fight. He took another breath, then staggered away, keeping the tree between him and the raging dinosaurs.
Finally, when he was well out of sight, he tried hobbling a little faster. He was beaten up, banged up, bruised, battered, torn, and crushed, feeling like he’d been run over by a freight train.
Man, he thought as he dragged his injured leg through the brush. This isn’t fun anymore …
So there you go! I hope you’re as excited as I am! Watch for “Time Crunch” around the end of May, 2019!