They were racing along a broad but cracked highway through a red desert. There were heaps of crushed concrete and twisted steel stretching out endlessly. They were rapidly approaching something like a city: bunched-together towering glass buildings, but half the glass was broken, and above a certain level, only steel skeletons reached up into the burning sky.
Jeanette was shouting “UNDO! CAN’T WE UNDO THIS THING? WHAT DO I DO TO UNDO?” She was splaying her fingers over the GPS touch screen.
She was addressing the capybara in the back seat, since it was he who had issued the warning, but the giant rodent just sat there.
It was her father, while trying to steer the bucking SUV over the broken pavement, who shouted “TRY HITTING THE HOME BUTTON!”
The cabin was jumping around, so that Jeanette couldn’t punch with any accuracy. She therefore couldn’t tell, when she finally his the area in the lower left, whether the HOME button had been greyed out before she’d touched it, or after. But in something that gave her hope, the Screen did change, now showing the notice ACQUIRING SATELLITES…
No no, no, she thought. Just take us back to Earth! What if this world has no satellites? Things just can’t suck this badly!
Something buzzed the SUV with a scream. Terence swerved to avoid it. Jeanette looked up and wished she hadn’t. There were big pteranodons--they couldn’t be anything else--circling the city towers. Lots more were perched in the girders, and some of them were launching as their car went into the shadowed canyons of the towers.
Another bat-winged monster swooped down at them. They weren’t huge, but half the size of the car was big enough. Here the pavement was smoother, and Terence was trying to find a place to turn or do anything but barrel on into the heart of the dead city, but all other streets or alleys were heaped high with concrete and steel ruins.
They found out why, as another barnstorming dinosaur dropped a chunk of masonry nearly on top of them. Terence saw it coming in enough time to swerve.
All of Jeanette’s hopes and anxieties were focussed on the touchscreen, and the thought that high buildings could block satellite signals tortured her. She had always hated progress bars and spinning beachballs as things that just shouldn’t exist, and to be killed by one filled her with rage.
Then the screen changed. The ACQUIRING SATELLITES notification vanished. Her heart leapt with joy--just in time to hear her father say “Oh no…”
The street up ahead had been closed off completely by a barrier composed of concrete and steel chunks. It occurred to him then that this was not just bad luck--this was an engineered trap by the pteranodons.
He did what he knew he should have done in the first place: turn around and get out of there. He started to, but the SUV’s turning circle was too large, and he was too inexpert, so he found himself heading for a building wall.
Another building-bomb fell. A K-turn was the height of stupidity, but it seemed to be the only option. He pulled the wheel and backed up.
That was when the capybara finally said something.
“Everyone out of the vehicle NOW!”
Jeanette tore away from the changing screen, grabbed her backpack and jumped out the door. She ran, following the rodent and her father, for a pile of rubble. They dove behind it and looked back.
A huge chunk of concrete stove in the top of the SUV only a microsecond before the car vanished in a burst of white light.
“And here they come,” the capybara said.
The sky was dark with wings.