Night Terror! (An excerpt from “Time Crunch”)

Writing Time Crunch was an awesome experience for me. I’d just undergone shoulder surgery and couldn’t write things out freehand the way I usually do. And I wasn’t camping a lot either, which is where I do a lot of my work. So instead I wrote the entire book on my computer, and I never edited a single word until the entire first draft was finished. The surprising thing is that the book just flowed. Without wanting to sound too corny, there were a lot of times I felt like someone else was writing the book, and I was simply manning the keyboard. It went so well that I actually tried to do the same thing again with Time Jam and Time Break (except for the surgery), but those books really made me work!

Anyway, this is one of my favorite scenes from Time Crunch. It’s a scene I always return to when I need a good boost of energy. I hope you like it!Final Ebook Cover

 

RAPTORS.

Chase was dreaming of velociraptors, of being surrounded by dozens of deadly, snarling animals. But he felt like he was standing in glue—couldn’t move—couldn’t get away as the raptors swarmed him—

Look out!

Crack! Crack-ack! Brraaaaaaat!

Chase jerked awake as men began yelling, and shooting.

“There! In the trees!”

Brraaaaaaat! Brraaaaaaat! Brraaaaaaat!

There was a blood-curdling scream, followed by a horrifying bellow that sounded like a high-speed drill chewing through gravel. More shouts, yells, roars, gunfire—

Brraaaaaaat! Brraaaaaaat!

Chase ripped open his sleeping bag, grabbed for his pants and hauled them on in a single motion. He pulled on his shirt—not bothering with the buttons—and jerked on his boots—not bothering with the laces. He scrambled for the door, searching frantically for the zipper, but something abruptly crashed into the tent, rolling it over. A heavy body slammed Chase through the fabric, bowling him over backward. He landed hard on his back—

Oof!

—but was instantly tumbling again as the tent flipped up and over, again and again. He landed on his injured ribs—

Aaah!

—and then crumpled as the tent slammed into a tree or a rock. He pushed himself to his knees—pack, sleeping bag, flashlight, water bottle, and other supplies scattered about—and searched for the door, but the tent was no longer right-side up. He looked frantically about in the darkness—

A razor-sharp claw ripped through the top of the tent and a terrible head pushed inside, the silhouette clear and terrifying in the starlight. Gaping jaws snapped together, snatching the sleeping bag and pulling it out through the torn fabric. Chase could see the bag whipping violently back and forth as something tore it apart.

Chase scrambled through the slashed nylon, then dropped to the ground and skittering away on all fours.

All around him, men were running, screaming, shouting, large dark shapes darting in from the trees with amazing speed and power, the howls and roars almost indistinguishable from the shouts and yells. The bonfires were still blazing, but the bright light didn’t make things any easier to see. There was a constant barrage of gunfire—

Brraaaaaaat! Brraaa—brraaaaaaat! Crack! Crack! Brraaaaaaat!

Chase couldn’t tell exactly what was happening, knew only that the camp was under attack, everything confused and chaotic and out of control. He scrambled to the side of a supply box and crouched beside it, ducking as something huge and terrifying rushed past.

His heart was pounding hard and fast, his lungs wheezing as he fought for breath.

The trees! Gotta get to the trees!

Someone ran by shouting—

On your six! On your six!

—something else darting past an instant later in a different direction.

Chase looked directly at one of the blazing fires, the firelight instantly destroying his night vision. He couldn’t see anything more than a couple of feet away.

Still on all fours, he scrambled for the trees, dropping flat when he saw something running at him. He screwed his eyes shut, steeling himself to be snapped up by sharp yellow teeth, but the thing rushed over the top of him, a heavy foot stepping right on his butt and grinding him into the ground.

Chase couldn’t help crying out—

Aaaiigh!

—but then the thing was gone. Chase didn’t hesitate, began army-crawling through the ruined, mangled campsite. He put his hand into something wet and slimy—he recoiled in horror—but shook it off and continued crawling.

“Behind you—”

Crack-ack! Brraaaaaaat!

“Look out!”

Aaaiigh!

Chase could hear the voices, but couldn’t tell one from another, didn’t know who was doing the yelling or the screaming.

He scrambled between two fires and reached the first tree. He skittered around, getting behind it, keeping it between him and the raging fight, then heard a horrible shriek. He looked up just as a screeching nightmare raced toward him on two legs, forearms outstretched, ready to tear him to pieces. The thing leaped—

Brraaaaaaat! Brraaaaaaat! Brraaaaaaaaaaat!

—and exploded in midair, hot blood and foul dino juice spraying Chase like a fire hose.

Someone was yelling—

“Run for it, kid! Get out of—aaaiigh!”

Chase panicked and ran, bolting mindlessly through the woods. His boots were still untied, his shirt still open, flapping behind him as he tore through the brush and trees. He could still hear the fight raging behind him. The shouts were incomprehensible now, though the yells and roars and gunfire crackled furiously in the air.

He tripped on a bootlace, fell flat on his face, but was up and running again without remembering getting back to his feet.

He ran into a thicket too dense to get through and turned, running now in a different direction. He wasn’t sure, but the sounds of the fight seemed to be dying away. Whether because the terrifying dinosaurs had been driven off or the camp completely over-run, he didn’t know. But he kept running. Unlike the others, he didn’t have a weapon, nothing to fight with, no way to help.

He kept running.

After several minutes he realized he could no longer hear the sound of gunfire. He wasn’t sure if the team had stopped shooting or if he’d just run too far to hear it. But he didn’t waste time trying to figure it out. His legs were in full-flight mode and he was still running as hard as he could. He splashed through a small stream, then turned and ran along what seemed to be a trail, just visible in the starlight. He was slowly regaining his night vision, the stars providing just enough light to pick out trees and rocks and stumps blocking his way.

He came to a fallen log, the remains of an enormous pine, the rotting branches rising into the air like the ribs of an ancient monster. He turned away, running slower now but still as fast as he was able. He was chuffing for breath, wheezing like a kid with asthma, and could feel the blood pounding in his hands, and ears, and feet.

After several more minutes he stopped. He looked around, spotted a tall, sweeping pine, and dove beneath the branches. The springy boughs were bent under their own weight, providing a small hollow near the trunk. He curled up against the scaly bark, breathing hard. Something snapped in the trees and he jerked his head in that direction, but … nothing seemed to be there.

He stayed alert, looking back and forth, searching for threats, but nothing seemed to be moving. The forest was still, and quiet, as if the very bugs were worried about making noise. A soft breeze rustled the leaves and—farther away—a bird mourned in the darkness. Chase heard a distant hoot—

Sounds like an owl

—and then a cricket or two opened up. And then a few more. And more. And it wasn’t long before the forest was again ringing with the soothing, comforting chirrups of cricket song.

Like absolutely nothing’s wrong in the world and never will be.

Chase pulled his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them. He was breathing easier now, and he even felt his heartbeat begin to slow a little.

His mouth began to tremble, first just a little and then more sharply. Hot tears scalded his eyes. He fought them off for a moment, but then the horror, and fear, and terror of the night overcame him.

He lowered his face to his knees and bawled like a baby.

 

Wow! I just love reading that! When I sat down to write it, I didn’t know what was going to happen. (I was actually writing as fast as I could, just to find out!) If you like it, check it out on my Amazon page.

 

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