11 | OPEN THE GATE

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"Just a little bit to the left," I said to Zach, jamming the screwdriver into the hatchet of the smashed golf buggy we'd stumbled across earlier. He grunted with frustration as he fumbled with the battery jammed under the hood of the vehicle. I snatched the screwdriver from him. "Let me get it out," I snapped.

I got to work with attempting to remove the buggy's battery, Gray observing us. "You really think, a twenty-year-old jeep is gonna work, with a battery from a golf buggy?" I stuck my hand underneath the box, trying to haul it up. "You got any better ideas?" he asked me. I went to have another go at him for being an ass, but then I remembered the hellish sauna we'd spent the past hour or so trekking through. "Fair point," I said.

A click came from under the hood of the buggy as I was able to lift the battery out. "Got it." I passed the heavy piece of plastic to Zach. "Take this back to Al-"

In the far distance, an unmistakable roar echoed through the jungle. All three of us froze. Even mellowed from distance, the sound began to carry the wildlife above us further into the jungle as they scurried away, screeching.

"You think it's out there?" asked Zach. My eyes immediately darted to Gray, eyes building out of his head once again. He gulped, taking a step back from his brother. Zach's expression softened when he noticed he'd scared him. "Well, I know for fact, it is definitely not out there," he confidently assured. He walked over to Gray with the battery. "Here, take this," he said, passing the battery to him with a small smile. "You're stronger than me."

All three of us walked back to the abandoned shed that Zach and Gray had stumbled across: one that had three, rusted jeeps stored inside. "What model did you say they were again?" I asked Gray, my fingers brushing over the faded Jurassic Park logo on the door of the car. "1992 Jeep Wrangler Sahara, sand beige," he said quietly.

Alex was busying himself with trying to fit the battery into the hood of the Jeep. I'd offered originally, but Alex insisted. "You sure you don't need a hand?" I asked. Alex lowered the battery into the car. "Nah," he said, a smug smile on his face. "I fix cars all the time when I go out into the field."

"You'll have to tell me about your study sometime," I told him, leaning against the car. His brown eyes flickered up at me as he continued to work a screwdriver into the car. "One of the only people in the world who can train velociraptors wants to see someone watch lions and hyenas in the wild?" he asked, grinning. I eyed the two boys exploring the shed. Gray giggled as his older brother shoved him out of the way to reach a pair of night vision goggles on a high shelf. "Well, I am one of the only people in the world who hasn't seen lion and hyenas," I pointed out. Alex pursed his lips. "I mean... if it makes you feel better, they're really ugly." I snorted, setting us both off into laughter. Alex wiped at the dimples on his cheeks from chuckling, slamming the hood of the car down.

"Alright," he said. "Turn it around."

Zach who was now seated in the driver's seat twisted the keys into the ignition. The engine roared to life, reducing to a humming. All four of us laughed with relief. "Alright," I said, gesturing for Zach to move back so I could drive. He looked at me with a look that read, I don't think so. "I've got it," he said, smirking. I glared at him. "You're sixteen," I pointed out. "With four working limbs," he replied, wiping the dirt from the review mirror.

With a hesitant look, I climbed into the passenger's seat, Alex and Gray piling in the back. "If we crash at any point, I'm throwing you out of the car," I warned. Zach snickered.

"I thought you failed your driver's test?" Gray piped up from the back. "Yeah well... only the driving part," Zach said, grinning at Gray in the review mirror and speeding off into the jungle before I could say anything.

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