She supposed it was what they—or at least Sting of The Police—would have called synchronicity: that twangy guitar and soft-pedaled keyboard emanating so clearly from the RV’s speakers as she ascended the vehicle’s aluminum ladder. All she knew was that the song matched her mood perfectly, absurdly, as Karen Carpenter sang, Such a feeling’s comin’ over me / There is wonder in most everything I see …
She gained the RV’s roof and looked around: at the motor homes being corralled in the parking lot of Bluebeard’s Cove, at the velociraptors gathered like spectators outside the fence, at the brontosaurus mulling its cypress leaves nearby and the pterodactyls circling in the blood-red sky and the volcano spewing lava not thirty miles away. Not a cloud in the sky / Got the sun in my eyes / And I / Won’t be surprised if it’s a dream …
He hadn’t run far when he came across the first body, as well as the first raptor (the body laying slit open from throat to crotch while the raptor devoured its unspooled intestines), and Red squeezed off a round, blowing a hole in its head which shot a stream of dark blood no less than six feet before the beast dropped like a sandbag and Red circled around to find the others—but mostly to find Charlotte.
He heard her shout above the engine of one of the rides. “Red! I’m over here! The Scrambler!”
He scanned the amusements quickly and saw her long, brown hair blowing from one of the ride’s carriages: she had activated the thing and sought refuge on it, and was now being swung and whipped about dizzyingly even as a trio of cavern raptors tried to attack. He ran to the fence which encircled the attraction and quickly chambered a round, but found it difficult to target any animals as they scrambled to dodge the carriages, darting this way and that with frantic precision even as they persisted in the assault.
Corbin snatched the rifle off his shoulder in a flash and everyone ducked—but he was pointing it at the ceiling, not the Chairman. “Shhh,” he said, and cocked his head. “Just listen.”
Charlotte did so, her ears still ringing. Slowly it became manifest: the sound of cavern raptors barking amidst the catacombs, barking and seeming to answer themselves, and something else, which answered them all. The Cat. The smilodon. The saber-toothed tiger which bore little in common with any of its modern-day ancestors nor any of its prehistoric ones, for it was the size of a small bus. And beyond that … another. Something closer in tone to the raptors and yet altogether different. Something bigger, more robust. Something none of them had ever heard before.
“You all need to understand something,” he said finally, slowly re-slinging his gun, “and that is that before I found this place I was precinct commander of an entire police force dedicated to combating these … things. And if there’s one thing we learned …” He paused, smiling a little to himself. “‘We.’ He seemed to dismiss the thought. “If there’s one thing we learned before our unit was torn to pieces … one thing they learned, my men, before being bitten in half, beheaded, slit open by sickle-claws so that their intestines unspooled across the city streets like sausage links … is that these things are not animals.” He smiled to himself again as though reliving a lifetime’s worth of humbling nightmares. “No, an animal is something comprehensible, even relatable. An animal is something flesh and blood same as you or me, with the same needs, the same hunger, the same will to survive. But these things, these so-called dinosaurs and prehistoric cats, they’re not animals, not the way we understand them. They’re weapons. They have purpose. Intent. They’ve been infused with it somehow. Someone, something, has weaponized them against us.” He nodded slowly, distantly. “Those lights in the sky, I think. And I can promise you this … they will not go away.” The haunting smile returned as he shook his head. “They won’t give up, you understand. And they won’t stop until every man, woman, and child in this compound has been torn apart and devoured.”