While I'm Alive

Chapter Twenty-One

Terror leapt at me as I swiftly took in the horror on his own face. I raced back towards the car, pulling the backdoors open. Zach and Gray looked surprised to see me, but quickly scrambled to my side to help pull me in. The Ingen guy was still shouting hoarsely as he lunged into the back after me. Only he didn't make it. The three of us erupted into our own yells of terror as one of the raptors clawed at him and ripped him back outside. I stumbled backwards, hitting the floor of the van hard.

"Go, Claire! Go!" Zach was screaming, pounding on the divider that led to the cab. I felt the engine roar to life.

I remembered the gun in my hand and raised it shakily. The raptor let out an ear piercing screech as it appeared at the back of the van again. I pulled the trigger but nothing happen. Terror swallowed me up as it tried to claw it's way into the van and Claire stepped on the gas.

The safety!

My fear suddenly made everything feel so much crisp and clear, all of my senses coming alive. I clicked the safety of the gun and pulled the trigger again. I felt the force of the bullet leave the gun and wedge itself into the thick hide of the raptor. It's teeth snapped as it roared in pain before tumbling from the back of the truck. It stumbled and staggered, dazed but alive. We left it in the distance.

Adrenaline hummed beneath my skin, rushing through me like an electric current. Both Gray and Zach were looking at me with wide eyes.

"Are you guys okay?" I asked, leaning back on my elbows as I tried to catch my breath. The back doors of the van swung on their hinges as we drove.

They both nodded just as Claire shouted at us through the tiny divider door that had been slid back open at some point. "Everyone okay?"

"We're fine!" Zach yelled back to his aunt. I carefully pulled myself to my feet, placing one hand on the side of the van as I reached for one of the doors in an attempt to close them. It was inches from my fingertips when, out of nowhere, I was sprawled on my back again. Claire had abruptly jerked the van hard to one side and I could hear her screaming from the cab. Zach scrambled to look in on her when Gray suddenly started pointing and yelling at the top of his tiny lungs.

"Rylan!"

Just as my name left his mouth, I spun around in time as a raptor launched itself towards the van from the pavement. It landed half in the van and half out, and there was an explosion of searing white hot pain coming from my thigh. I let out a scream of pain, kicking at it with my good leg as I felt around the floor for the gun. I felt the cool metal in my hand and aimed it at the raptor and pulled the trigger. It was empty.

"One bullet, Grady!?" I screeched in disbelief. I gritted my teeth through the pain and kicked at the raptor again, it's teeth glistening inches from my leg.

At that moment, Zach and Gray came to my rescue. Somewhere in the back of the van, they'd found a taser stick and were using it to shock the raptor. I managed to somehow push myself towards the back of the van, my head swimming from the pain. I gripped my thigh tightly in both hands, the gun on the floor next to me. Warm blood seeped in-between my fingers and I felt even more dizzy as I glanced down and saw the torn flesh underneath the hem of my shorts. I glanced up as the two brothers let out a loud cheer as the raptor finally fell and fumbled to the pavement and we left it in our dust.

"God damn it!" I grunted, the pain rolling off me in waves.

"Rylan's hurt, Aunt Claire!" Gray was stumbling past me to yell into the cab. I heard Claire's answering shout of 'tell her to hold on!' and wanted to yell back that her driving was making that pretty hard but the pain had dulled my witty comeback reaction time.

I wasn't a doctor by any means, but I knew the cut was deep. Maybe not deep enough to be life threatening, but deep enough to at least hurt like hell. I settled my back against the furthest wall. Zach was pulling open all the cabinets and drawers in the back of the van but came back to my side empty handed.

"There's not a first aid kit anywhere in here!" He said franticly. His dark eyes flickered to the cut and he paled.

"I need to wrap something around it...did you find anything sharp?" I asked him. Gray crouched down next to me and wrapped his arms around his knees. He was looking at me like he wanted to help but didn't know how. "I'm fine, Gray." I said, trying to give him a reassuring smile which quickly turned into a wince.

"I have a pocket knife!" Zach exclaimed, like he had just recently remembered. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a red pocket knife. He passed it to me and I slid open the blade before using it to tear off a narrow strand of fabric from the bottom of my shirt. I handed the knife back before wrapping the purple fabric tightly around my thigh.

"Are you sure you're just a bartender?" Zach asked, eyeing me warily.

I let out a surprised laugh. "Yeah, I just watch a lot of CSI shows." I joked. Both of them cracked tentative smiles.

The low drone of a motorcycle engine pricked at my ears. I pushed myself further up against the wall, peering out the open backdoors. Owen was gaining on us, a grim expression on his face as he pulled up towards the back of the truck.

"Owen!" Gray was shouting excitedly, jumping up and down. A smile tugged at my lips, glad he could at least jump for joy for me.

Relief crashed over me in waves as my eyes swept over Owen, suddenly feeling delirious with happiness that he was here and he was alive. Either that or it was the blood loss. Our eyes locked for a long moment, and a thousand unspoken emotions suddenly seemed to transfer between us. Then he was swerving out of sight, moving towards the driver's side where I could hear him shouting to Claire.

I closed my eyes, feeling the warmth of Gray sitting next to me as we bumped and rattled down the road. He linked his arm through mine, resting his head on my shoulder. I peeked down at him and felt a sudden swell of affection towards Claire's nephew, knowing that this was his way of trying to make me feel better.

When we finally halted to a stop, Zach and Gray both helped me to my feet as I limped towards the back doors. Owen was there in a heartbeat, blue eyes wild with concern as he reached for me, pulling me into his arms. I crushed myself against him, breathing in the strong scent of gasoline and sweat. I felt his warm breath against the crook of my neck as he buried his face in my shoulder.

"You're okay." I breathed, squeezing my eyes shut at the swell of emotion that sudden seemed to be enveloping us both.

His lips brushed the skin beneath my ear before he was pulling away and scanning the dark blood that covered my upper thigh. "Yeah, but you're not." He said gruffly. Before I could argue, he swept me up into his arms. I flinched as his hand brushed against the torn skin, any urge to protest that I could walk on my own dying on my tongue.

"Control room." Claire said as Owen turned to face her and the boys. She met my eyes before her gaze flickered to the cut on my thigh. She looked back at Owen fearfully. "There's a first aid kit there, hurry!"

I held on tight to Owen's neck as we raced up the concrete steps to the innovation center. Looking over his shoulder, I saw how much Jurassic World suddenly resembled an apocalyptic city with all the horror and damage that had taken place. I swallowed hard, tightening my grip on Owen, the solidness of him making me feel safe even though I knew in reality, none of us were.

Inside, the emptiness and quiet of the building was eerie. Our footsteps echoed throughout the high ceilinged room as we ran down the hallway pass the empty, abandoned labs. An evacuation had happened then, at some point or another. Up ahead, Claire slowed to a stop, looking towards the labs with a quizzical look on her face.

"What is it?" I asked in a hushed tone. Before she could answer, I heard it for myself, the sounds of glass breaking and things crashing around inside what I had thought were empty labs. Claire pushed her nephews behind her and stepped into the glaring whiteness of the Jurassic World labs. Owen followed with me still held tightly in his arms.

When I spotted Hoskins with his back to us, raged flared in me like the wick of a firework ready to go off. I struggled in Owen's arms, ignoring the searing pain in my leg. "Put me down now." I hissed. Grown man or not, Hoskins was part of the reason so many lives had been lost today, why Owen had been in danger, why I was bleeding, and why all five of us were still stuck here in the middle of everything. "You son of a-"

Hoskins whirled to face us, looking momentarily shocked.

Owen quickly set me down, pressing a finger to my lips. "Let me handle this." He urged, pushing me behind him with Claire and the boys as he turned to face Hoskins. Claire came to my side instantly, wrapping an arm around my shoulders so I could lean against her. I limped around Owen so I could get a better view of what was about to surely go down.

"What the hell are you doing, Hoskins?" Owen asked in a low voice, and I could almost feel him bristling with danger.

"What does it look like?" Hoskins answered, arching an eyebrow. His arms were full and it took me a minute to realize what he was stealing...the dinosaur embryos. "All of this technology and power at your disposal, and you waste it on a theme park?" He let out a dry, humorless laugh. Clearly pleased with himself.

"Where's Henry?" Claire asked.

Hoskins gave her an amused smile. "Henry Wu is now Ingen property. We need him."

"That doesn't look like a dinosaur." Gray suddenly chimed in, pointing at a slim computer monitor. On the screen was a digital image of the Indominus Rex.

"That's because it's not, kid. That's a weapon and that's the future of the military."

"You're insane." I spat at him. "People are dead because of you."

Hoskins wheeled on me and Owen tried to push me further behind him but I shrugged him off, bracing myself against his side. "That's exactly why you're a civilian. You don't understand the price of war. Of winning a war." His eyes narrowed maliciously at me, but after everything I'd faced already, the man did little to scare me.

Glass suddenly shattered all around us, like an explosion. I felt Owen's arm go around me as I turned into him to shield my face. When I looked back at Hoskins, my eyes went wide. One of Owen's raptors had catapulted through the glass and was staring him down viciously. If I hadn't been so terrified for myself and the others, I would've almost enjoyed the look of pure terror on Hoskins' face.

"Easy, boy. Easy." His voice trembled as he held out a hand. I held my breath, waiting for the inevitable. "We're on the same team, remember?"

Then, as if to prove how very wrong he was, the raptor launched himself at Hoskins. The last thing I saw before turning away was the redness of blood being spray across the white wall. Owen's hand was on my back, giving me a push towards the door. I limped towards the exit and started off towards the control room. More crashing glass sounded behind me and I whipped around to see the raptor had already lost interest in Hoskins and was now standing menacingly between me and Owen. I froze, breath hitching in my throat. Owen, Claire, Zach, and Gray looked at me with wide terrified eyes. The raptor turned towards me and I swore it wore a gleeful smile as it's claws tapped against the marble floors. I took a tentative step back, hands shaking at my sides.

"Charlie! Don't even think about it!" Owen suddenly shouted, catching the raptor's attention. Charlie swung her head around to face her former alpha, and I could almost picture the curious look in her yellow eyes as she assessed him. As soon as her back was to me, Owen mouthed one word: Run. I hesitated for a moment, the idea of being separated from yet again crushing me. His blue eyes hardened, though, and I knew he was giving me an order, not a request. So I ran.

I turned and limped down the hallway towards the control as fast as I could. My breath was ragged and heavy, from fear, pain, and exhilaration as I fought against the blazing pain radiating up and down my entire leg. I didn't look behind me, but could hear Owen and the others yelling. I kept waiting to hear the tap tap of claws against marbled floor, or warm, sickly breath as Charlie pounced at me, but it never came. Instead, I made it to the elevator alive and hit the button frantically.

"Come on, come on." I muttered and finally the doors slid open and I tumbled inside. I hit the close button before sinking to the floor. I fell back against the wall and let my eyes shut as I struggled to catch my breath. It felt wrong, though, that I was safe while everyone I cared about was still out there.


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