Billy screamed at Alan to go, to get away before the other pteranodons spotted him. He knew it was too late for himself, twisting in mid-air as the pterandon tried to lift him like a rabbit hooked by an eagle. He landed hard, breath knocked out of him, the blow softened only by a shallow cushion of racing water. Sharp pain struck at him over and over and he threw up an arm even as he tried to suck life giving air into his abused lungs. Everything was muffled for a moment by the water closing over his head as the river ran deeper, the weight of the pteranodon on his back pushing him under. His lungs were burning and he fought the reflex to breathe even as he fought the scream of pain building at the back of his throat.
He surfaced momentarily, greedily dragging in a single deep breath before the water closed over him once more, hearing human voices raised in fear, every sense sharpened by acute stabbing pain along his shoulder, his ribs, his thigh; hearing Alan's voice fading as his tormentors harried him against the increasing flow of the river. They abandoned him with a screech as Billy slammed hard into something man-made and with the last of his reasoning, he understood the significance and took a gulp of air, diving into the raging depths and dragged under the perimeter fence by the force of the water.
Billy was never certain how long he tumbled within the current, towed under and then sent back up, dragging in precious air just when he thought he was drowning. The sudden free fall, stomach flipping, caught his abused body by surprise as he sailed through the water-misted air only to plunge deeply into a pool below.
He drifted for hours, arms wrapped around a fallen bough, barely listening to the chitter of the compies as they scented his blood, racing along the bank close by but finding no easy means of reaching the fresh meal drifting past. Instead he thought of Alan; of blue eyes sparkling with new discoveries, of weather beaten lines from days digging in the desert, of laughter lines and a careful, almost smug smile, of his dismay when modern technology scorned him. He thought of all the reasons why he had never told Alan that he loved him, wanting to avoid the cliche of teacher and student, wanting to complete his doctorate and meet Alan as an equal.
It all seemed so pointless now as he waited for some creature with no aversion to water to scent the blood in the water and attack, to finish off what the pteranodons had started. He jumped as something smacked into his face, fingers almost losing their hold on the bough as he scrabbled for the beaten hat; Alan's hat.
What if he was dead?
Billy sobbed as he crushed the hat against his body gulping down air and wondering how he could ever breathe without him.