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LAND OF THE LOST


BROTHERS

by
DarylR

 

A slight chill filled the cave at High Bluff as Rick Marshall put fresh wood on the fire.  He looked against the far wall where his two children slept quietly on a rock slab.   He smiled slightly as he returned to his work.

“Daddy?”  Holly Marshall asked weakly as her eyes struggled to open. 

“Yes, honey?”  Rick asked as he managed to get the fire burning more strongly.

“What time is it?”  She pulled herself up and yawned.

“Time for you and your brother to be up,” he told as he moved to start breakfast. 

Holly stood up and stumbled across the cave they called home.  “How long have you been up?”

“Oh, a little while now,” he answered as he cut up some vegetable to cook.  “Grumpy woke me up out in the jungle somewhere.”

“Grumpy?”

Rick nodded.  “Sounded like he was getting pretty worked up too.  I went outside but couldn’t see anything.”

“You mean we slept through all that?”  She asked.

“I’m afraid so,” he grinned at his daughter.

“What did we sleep through?”  Will Marshall asked as he woke up.

“Grumpy was attacking something out in the jungle,” Holly told her older brother.

“Really?”  Will jumped up quickly and rushed to the cave’s opening.

“Relax, son,” Rick told him.  “It was a while ago.  Everything’s quiet now.”

 “I wonder why Holly and I didn’t hear it,” Will said out loud.

“If we were back home I’d say it was because you were up too late watching TV,” Rick said with a smile.  “But you both went to bed pretty early last night.”

“Yeah, not much to keep us up around here,” Holly rolled her eyes.

“I’ve got something cooking for breakfast,” Rich told them as he picked up the empty white plastic containers on the bamboo table he and Will made.  “Why don’t you two go down to the water hole and get us some fresh water?”

“Do you think it’s safe, Dad?” Will asked.  “You said you heard Grumpy...”

“That’s been a while,” Rick told him.  “I haven’t heard anything in a while. Just be careful.  I’m sure you’ll both be fine.”

“Come on, Will,” Holly said, taking the containers from her father.  “You know we won’t get any breakfast until we do.”

Will moved to join her as they left the cave.  “All right.  All right.” 

Rick Marshall laughed as he checked on breakfast.

*****

A dinosaur cried somewhere in the jungle caused Will to slow up his pace for a split second until he was sure it was far enough away not cause them any problem.

“Will?”  Holly asked behind him.

“Huh?”

“I asked you what you wanted to do when we get home,” she reminded him.

“I want to sleep in a bed for a month,” he said with a wistful sigh.  “And I want to eat hamburgers and hot dogs.  And I want to watch TV.  What about you?”

“I want to ride Comanche,” she said.  “That is if he still remembers me.”

“He’ll remember you,” Will told her over his shoulder.

Holly followed him through the thick foliage for a moment before speaking again.  “Will?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you think we’ll really ever get home?”  She asked him as they entered the clearing to the watering hole.

“Sure, I do,” he told her.  “Dad says it’s just a matter of figuring out how to open one of the time portals back home.  I saw it once in Enik’s cave, remember?  We just have to find it again.”

She paced while he filled the water jugs.  “But there’s so many jewels on the matrix table.  What are the chances we’ll ever figure out how to find Earth again?”

“We’ll find it,” Will assured her.  “Dad and I have been going to Enik’s cave trying to figure it out.”

Something rustled in the jungle and Holly looked towards it.  “But what if you don’t?  If Enik can’t find his way home, how can we?  Will?”   Holly turned back to her brother.  “Will?”

Moving quickly, she raced back to the side of the water hole but her brother and the water jugs were gone.  “Will!  Will!”

Holly looked down, panic filling her eyes when she realized there were no footprints in the sand where her brother had been.  “Will!”

*****

Rick Marshall stood at the opening of the cave surveying the jungle spread out before him.  The kids should have been back from the water hole by now.  He hoped to see the familiar flashes of Will’s mirror telling in via Morse code that everything was okay.  He hoped they hadn’t run into trouble. 

He knew his kids had a knack for running into trouble when they went off alone but he knew he had to trust them to take care of themselves.  Will was resourceful and capable of handling problems and Holly was growing up before his eyes. 

Still, he was their father and worrying was part of the job.  More so in the Land of the Lost, he reminded himself.

He turned back for the cave but stopped when he heard something in the brush just outside the clearing of the bluff. 

A dinosaur?  “No,” he mumbled to himself.  He would have heard a dinosaur coming.  Even Dopey was loud enough to hear coming.  It was too small for that.  Maybe the kids were finally back, he thought, ignoring the fact the noise was coming from the wrong direction.

“Will!”  He called out.  “Holly!”

Rick Marshall’s eyes widened as a figure emerged from the jungle, stumbling disoriented towards the cave.   Leaping down the rocks along the bluff, he could scarcely breathe as he raced to meet the familiar figure.  “Dear God, Jack!”

“Rick!”  Jack Marshall stared at his brother.  “Is that you?”

“It’s me.”  Rick hugged his brother tightly.  “Is it really you?”

“I think so,” Jack managed to answered.  “What is this place?  How did I get here?”

“Come on back to the cave,” Rick told him.  “I’ll tell you everything.”

*****

“Holly!”  Will cried as loud as he could, careful not to attract too much attention from the neighboring dinosaurs.   He carefully placed the water jugs under a fall tree for safe keeping while he continued to look for his sister.

“Holly!”  He stopped and listened but heard nothing.  “I don’t like this.  She was right behind me.  Where would she have gone?”

She knew how dangerous this place was, he told himself.  She would never have gone off alone without saying something to him.    They were too far from the Lost City for the Sleestak to have gotten her.  The Pakuni?  No, Chaka would never hurt Holly and Ta and Sa never intimidated her.

“Holly!”   He yelled again.  He was going to have to go back to High Bluff and get their father.  Something had happened to her, he was sure of that much.

Will turned but stopped as something large emerged from the woods behind him.   The large reptile towered higher then he and its dark, shining eyes were locked in him, a small bit of spittle fell from its mouth.

“That’s not Grumpy.”  He muttered to himself.  For a split second, Will Marshall’s feet failed him as he stared at this new dinosaur.   As the huge beast let out an angry cry, Will turned and raced into the jungle.

*****

“Will!”  Holly looked out her unable to see much due to the high foliage.  “Come on, Will.  This isn’t funny.”

Somewhere in the distance she heard the Pteranodons cry and she shuddered.  She never liked the flying dinosaurs but they never bothered them much at High Bluff.  Suddenly she wished she were back at High Bluff almost as much as she wished she were back home.  At least there she felt somewhat safe.

“Will?”  She repeated, weaker this time.  Something told her calling her brother’s name wasn’t going to do her much good.   She would have liked to pretend he was playing one of his practical jokes on her but she knew better.  Even Will couldn’t make his footprints disappear that quickly.  Something had happened to her brother and it scared her.

“I’d better go get Daddy,” she said and turned only to find something she never thought she’d see in the Land of the Lost.  She looked at the two men standing behind her but paid more attention to the musket pointed at her.   “Who are you?”

“Tis the same question we could be asking of ye, little lady,” the taller one said through squinting eyes. 

 ”Aye,” the short, fatter one agreed, the gun waving in his hand.  “This jungle isn’t safe for two grown men such as ourselves let alone a little girl like you wandering about.”

“I’m Holly Marshall,” she answered weakly.  “I’m looking for my brother Will.”

“We didn’t know there were any other people about this place,” the tall one said.

“Sure,” she nodded. “There’s me and my brother and our father.”

“That’s the best thing we’ve heard since we found ourselves in this god-forsaken place,” the fat one said.  “Isn’t it, Peter?”

“That it is, Harry.”  Peter agreed.  “That it is.  We thought it was just us and those men lizard-looking fellows.”

“And the monkey men,” Harry reminded him, returning his gun to his holster.

“You’re Harry Potts,” Holly said.  “And you must be Peter Connick.”

“How do you know our names,” Harry asked skeptically, his fingers playing over the butt of the gun.

“You’re the one’s who wrote that warning about the Sleestak at the Lost City,” she explained.  “You named them after some commanding officer or something.”

“Major Joshua Sleestak,” Peter corrected.  “How do you know so much about us?”

Holly looked at him somewhat sheepishly.  “We read your journal.”

“My journal?”  Connick fumbled with his waistcoat until he pulled the small book from its inner pocket.  “How could you when I have the very thing in my hand?  I know this place is strange but this is too much.”

“Stranger than you know,” Holly told him.  “I was on my way back to our cave.  Why don’t you come with me?  I’m sure my father can explain everything.”

“I should very much like to hear that,” Peter Connick said.

“As would I,” Harry agreed.

*****

“Rick, you and the kids have been missing for two years.”

“Has it been two years?”  Rick paused and stared into space.  “It doesn’t seem that long, to tell you the truth.  But then time here doesn’t really have a lot of meaning, I guess.”

“The parks service searched for you for months before giving up the search,” Jack told his brother.  “I begged them not to stop but...”

“I understand,” Rick nodded.  “Believe me, no matter how hard they looked they were never going to find this place.  Which brings me to an important question of my own, Jack.  What are you doing here?”

Smiling at his brother, Jack shrugged.  “Just because the parks service stopped looking doesn’t mean I did.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” Rick told him. 

“And the kids?”  Jack asked.  “They’re all right?”

“They’re fine,’ Rick assured him.  “Ready to go home as soon as we can figure out a way.  Maybe now that you’re here, you can help me figure out the matrix table.”

“The what?”

“I’ll explain on the way,” Rick said as he turned for the mouth of the cave.

“On the way where?” 

“To the Lost City,” he answered.   “The kids went to the water hole.  We can catch up with them and all go together.  They’re going to be so thrilled to see you again.”

Jack Marshall stared at his brother for an uncertain moment before following him out of the cave and into the jungle.

*****

Will stared around him but didn’t believe his eyes.

“This is High Bluff,” he said as he turned in circles.  He was sure of that much.  He’d climbed that blasted rock facing too many times, knew ever foothold.   “So where is everything?”

His voice echoing inside the empty cave was the only answer he got.

He took a deep breath and struggled to figure out what it all meant.  Holly disappeared without so much as a sound and no sign of a struggle.   The sand along the edge of the water hole was undisturbed of any footprints but his.  Dinosaurs he’d never seen before chased him and nearly caught him, something even Grumpy hadn’t managed in all the time he’d been here.  And how Dad and everything they owned was gone.  As if it had never even been here.

Will went back to the cave opening and stared outside.   Something was wrong...with everything.   The whole Land of the Lost seemed...different some how.  Standing on the ledge, the jungle just beyond him looked very different.  

Maybe there was nothing wrong with the Land of the Lost, he told himself.  “Maybe there’s something wrong with me?  But if that’s true?  What?  What is it?”

There was only one place he could think of to find the answers.   He bounded down the rock facing to the ground below, determined to find his family again.  Even if that meant facing the Sleestak in the Lost City by himself.

*****

“It was the night before the battle,” Peter Connick said wistfully.  “I remember Harry couldn’t sleep.”

“Neither could you,” Harry Potts reminded him sharply.

“Neither could I,” Peter winked at Holly.  “So we slipped off into the woods to smoke some tobacco Harry’s wife sent to us.”

“There was thick fog,” Harry added. “Thickest fog you ever did see.”

“When we finally found out way out of it,” Peter looked around them, “we found ourselves here.”

“We’ve been trying to figure out our way back ever since,” Harry frowned.

“So you fought with General Washington?”  Holly asked as she led the two men through the jungle.

“Yes,” Peter answered.  “You know about the war?”

“Yeah, they make us study it in school,” she told him. 

“Study it?”  Harry asked. 

“Of course,” she turned to stare at him.  “The American Revolution?  The shot heard ‘round the world?  Oh, that’s right.  You two disappeared before the war was over, didn’t you?”

“The war’s over?”  Peter asked.

“For a long time,” she nodded.  “We won.”

“So the states for free?”  Harry beamed at Peter.  “Praise God.”

“Yeah, we’re the United States of America,” she explained.  “You two have been here for a while, haven’t you?”

“A few months,” Peter answered.  “Though it’s difficult to be sure here.   The three moons and the length of the days seem different.  And your family?  How long have been stranded here?”

“I’m not sure,” Holly frowned.  “A while, I think.”

“Strange we haven’t run into you before now,” Harry said.

“Not really,” Holly told him.  “You were here a long time before us.”

“What do you mean, little girl?”  Peter asked her.

“You two were here a long time before us,” Holly explained.  “We found your cave and your clothes.  That’s how we read your journal.”

“If that’s true,” Peter eyed her skeptically.  “What are you doing here now?”

“I’m not sure,” Holly admitted.  “Either you’re here with me or I’m there with you.  I think there’s something wrong with time.”

*****

Will Marshall stared in disbelief. 

After so long in the Land of the Lost, he thought he had seen everything that could confuse him but he was wrong.

He stood between the two great stone pillars and stared at the Lost City, lost no longer.

The stones were clean.  No errant vines wrapped around the temple pillars.  

“It looks so new,” he said moving across the concourse.  Then he stopped and stared as Sleestak emerged from the temple doorways.

“Those aren’t Sleestak,” he said.  They weren’t.  They were shorter.  Their reptilian skin almost golden.  They looked like... “Enik.  These are Enik’s people.”

Will rushed forward to greet the Altrusians who studied his rapid approach with guarded skepticism.

“Who are you?”  One of them demanded sharply, a wave of his hand stopping Will in his tracks.

“My name is Will Marshall,” he answered.  “I need your help.”

“How did you get to this place?”  Another said.  His voice sounded so similar to the other.  Will could scarcely tell them apart.

“That’s a long story,” Will explained.  “I was looking for Enik.”

“Enik?”  Red eyes looked around anxiously.  One by one the Altrusians fell away until only one remained with Will.

“Yes, he’s a friend,” Will insisted.  “I was hoping he could help me find my way back to my family.”

“Your family?”

“We got stranded here,” Will said.  “Now we seem to be separated in time.  Only Enik could find a portal to get me back to my father and sister.”

“It is my brother you seek,” the Altrusian told him.  “But he has been missing for some time now.”

“You’re Enik’s brother?”  Will studied him.

“I am Bakun,” the Altrusian told him.  “The others here consider Enik to be something of a trouble maker.  That is why they left when you mentioned his name.”

“Why?  He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met,” Will said.  “Next to my father.���

“My brother is very intelligent, yes,” Bakun said, “but foolhardy.  His experiments with the temporal doorways led to his death.”

“He’s not dead!”  Will insisted.  “He’s trying to get back here to help your people.  Maybe with your help we can open the time portal that will bring him home and send me back to my family.”

“I will help you, Will Marshall,” Bakun said.  “We must move quickly, however.  The rest of my people will not react as willingly to your plight.”

“Let’s go,” Will said, following the Altrusian inside the temple.

*****

“Rick?”  Jack Marshall put a hand on his brother’s shoulder.  “Are you okay?”

“Something’s wrong,” Rick answered.  The two crouched behind the Pylon and watched as a heard of Mastodon moved through the jungle.

Jack looked at his brother skeptically.  “We’re watching a heard of prehistoric mammals make their way toward the river.  What could be wrong with that?”

“That’s what wrong,” Rick said.  “The whole time we’ve been here we’ve never seen Mastodon.  How could a whole herd be here like this?  It doesn’t make sense.”

“From what you’ve told me,” Jack said, “very little here makes sense.”

“It does when you think about it,” Rick said.  “This place was built by the Sleestak.  We don’t know its purpose but it’s a closed universe, completely self-sustaining.  Finding a new breed of dinosaur here isn’t possible, Jack.  It’s like...”

“Finding me here?” 

Rick nodded.  “There’s stability to this place, Jack.  When that stability is changed...”

“Something bad happens?” Jack frowned.   “You think my being here has something to do with new dinosaurs?”

“I’m not sure how,” Rick said.  “But it’s all connected somehow.  We should have found the kids by now.  They’ve never been gone this long for water.”

Jack took a deep breath before following his brother into the brush.  “What do you think has happened to them?”

“I don’t want to think about it,” Rick answered.   “In this place, anything could have happened.  I just hope the kids are okay.”

*****

With a loud cry, Grumpy broke through the trees chasing his three prey until they reached the relative safety of High Bluff.

“He seems rather determined,” Peter Connick panted as they stepped away from the opening of the cave.

“That’s just Grumpy,” Holly Marshall told him.  “He can’t reach us in here, though he’d really like to.”

“How long will he wait out there?”  Harry Potts asked.

“A while,” she said.  “He’ll give up after a while.  If we were back in my time we could use the...”

Peter turned around as she stopped talking.  “Miss Marshall?”

“This is our cave,” Holly said, racing about looking at all their things scattered about the cave.  “This is our cave.”

“You told us that,” Harry said.

“No, that’s not what I mean,” Holly paused to think.  “This is our cave.  That means I’m not in your time.  You’re in our time.  That means we can still find Daddy and figure out what to do.”

“My dear young lady,” Peter said, “that creature out there doesn’t appear to be leaving any time soon so I fear finding your father will have to wait a while longer.”

“We can run him off,” she said picking up the large piece of wood on the floor. “Come on, help me with this.”

“Help you do what?”  Harry asked.

“This is the fly swatter,” she told him as they three picked it up.  “We’re going to ram it into Grumpy’s mouth. That’ll drive him away.”

Harry looked at Peter skeptically but followed Holly’s lead as they rushed the front of the cave.

*****

“This looks like...”  Will Marshall walked around the small chamber and stared at the matrix table in front of him.  “...this is Enik’s cave but it looks so different.  So new.”

“My brother worked out of this laboratory,” Bakun told him.

“He works in here in my time too,” Will said.  “He’s trying to find his way back home.”

“Perhaps with both of us trying to open the door way, Enik can find his way back,” Bakun said as he passed his hands over the glowing crystals in front of him. 

Will watched the portal with great interest as pale smoke billowed forth.  “If you both opened the time portal...on both sides of time...maybe...”

“What did you say, Will Marshall?”

Will turned and the chamber was different but more familiar.   He stared at the Altrusian standing at the matrix table. “Enik?  Is that you?”

“How did you get in here?”  Enik cocked his head to one side.

“I’m back in my time,” Will said.  “In our time.  Enik, what is going on?   I was in the past with your people.”

Enik lowered his head.  “I’m afraid I have made a grave miscalculation.”

“Miscalculation?  What are you talking about?”  Will moved closer to him.  “I was in the past.  Your past.  Your brother is looking for you.”

Enik startled “Bakun?  You met my brother?”

“Yes, he thought you were dead,” Will explained, “but I told him you were alive.  He was trying to open the time portal.  Then suddenly I was back here.  But I didn’t go through a portal, Enik.  What’s going on?”

“In my attempts to return to my people, I am afraid I have ruptured the time continuum.”

“Ruptured the time continuum?  What does that mean?”

Enik turned to the time portal and watched as a strange mist billowed forth.   “I was attempting to align the time portal but instead I have created a rip in time.  This entire valley is adrift in time.  If I cannot stabilize it soon, we could all cease to exist.”

*****

            “What is this place?”  Jack Marshall joined his brother behind the towering stone pillar.

            “The lost city,” Rick answered.  “A temple built by the Altrusians a very long time ago.”

            “What are we waiting for?”  Jack asked. 

            “Just making sure Big Alice isn’t anywhere around before we move.”

            “Big Alice?” 

            “An allosaur that guards the temple,” Rick explained.   As if on cue, the huge dinosaur lumbered into the grand plaza of the Lost City.

            “How you three have managed to survive in a crazy place like this is beyond me,” Jack said.

            “You get used to it,” Rick laughed.  “We can outrun her.  We just have to be careful.  We’re in more danger from the Sleestak.”

            “Sleestak?”

            “You’ll see,” Rick told him as he rushed across the plaza towards the opening of the temple.  “Just stay close to me.”

            Reluctantly Jack followed his brother as Big Alice raced after them.  The two huddled inside the opening as the big dinosaur cried angrily after them.   Jack took deep breaths as the thwarted allosaur lumbered away.   “You say that’s the least of our worries?”

            “The Sleestak live in the Lost City,” Rick said as he picked up a stray piece of wood to use as a torch.  “If we’re not careful we might be sacrificed to their god in the pit.”

            “This place sounds better and better,” Jack told him. 
            “The good news is they’re lousy shots,” Rick told him with a smile.  “Come on.  Let’s go find Enik.”

            Jack shook his head and followed his brother inside the ancient temple.

*****

            “Are you sure we should be out in the jungle this late?”  Harry Potts asked as the three of them moved through the brush.  “The sun is going down and that big lizard is still out here somewhere.”

“Grumpy is pretty dangerous but he’s not very smart,” Holly explained.

            “I should say not,” Peter Connick said.   “But after taking the log in the mouth, I should think he won’t be bothering us again.”

            “Not for a while,” Holly frowned.  “But I think we should go to the Lost City.  If something’s wrong with time, we need to talk to Enik.”

            Harry grabbed his partner’s arm.  “I don’t think we should be taking the advice of this child.  She could get us killed.”

            “I’m not going to get you killed,” Holly insisted.  “I’m trying to get us all back to the right time.  Come on.”

            “We’re not following you anywhere,” Peter said forcefully as he grabbed Holly by the arm.  “You no more know what’s going on around this horrible place than we do!”

            “But my daddy does,” Holly insisted, struggling to get free.  “You’ve got to listen to me.”

            “Peter,” Harry caught his friend’s arm.  “Maybe she can help us.  We haven’t been doing so well on our own so far.  What can it hurt to listen to the girl?”

******

            “I don’t understand, Enik,” Will said.  “What’s going on?”

            “I have been trying to increase the time portal’s power in order to return to my own time,” Enik explained.  “But I have unfortunately overloaded the portal’s power and unleashed its temporal energies on the whole valley.”

            “So Dad and Holly are lost in time?”  

            “No, Will Marshall,” Enik shook his head, “you are all existing in multiple times at once.  If I cannot succeed in stabilizing the temporal energies, the entire valley will implode on itself.”

            “Do something, Enik.  You have to stop it.”

            “I am trying,” the Altrusian assured him.  “Even in the best of circumstances it would be a challenging exercise.  The crystal combinations are extremely complex.  Temporal energies are difficult to control once they’ve been unleashed.”

            “Can’t you fix it?”

            Enik turned to Will.  “In my own time I might be able to reset the fields that contain the temporal energies.  Here...in this forgotten place...I can only try my best.”

            “Your best?”  Will grabbed Enik by the tunic.  “My father and my sister are there....lost in time.”

            “I am doing my best,” Enik snapped at him.  “Your constant interruptions will not help me set time right.”

            Will took a step back, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.  “I’m sorry.  I’m just worried about my family.”

            “I will do what I can,” Enik replied turning back to the crystal table.  His reptilian hand hovered over the multi-colored stones, causing each to glow brightly as he touched it.  “The combinations, however, are endless.  Finding the right one will not be easy...”

            “Enik!”  Will shouted as the lighting in the cave shimmered around him.  “What’s happening?”

*******

            “We’ve already checked this place out,” Harry Potts insisted as he and Peter Connick crouched behind the fallen pillar with Holly.   “There’s no point in going in this place.  It’s crawlin’ with them Sleestak fellas.”

            “We can get past them,” Holly assured them.  “My Dad, Will and I do it all the time.  Besides, Enik’s the only one who can fix what’s going on around here.”

            “Who is this Enik person you keep mentioning?”  Peter asked. 

            “He’s an Altrusian.”

            Both men stared at her.  “A what?”

            “An Altrusian,” Holly repeated.  “Kind of like the Sleestak but smarter.”

            “I don’t trust them Sleestaks,” Peter insisted.

            “Me either,” Holly agreed, “but Enik’s not like the others.  Follow me.”

            Peter Connick watched as Holly hurried across the vine covered plaza.  ��She’s not like a little girl from our time...that’s for sure.”

            Harry Potts nodded.  “I only hope she’s not going to get us killed.”

            As the two men rushed to catch up with the young girl, they startled at the arrival at the large dinosaur hurrying towards them, bellowing forth with a scream that made their blood turn cold.

******

            “Will!”  Rick Marshall rushed into Enik’s cave, taking his son into his arms. 

            “Dad!  You’re okay!”  Will hugged his father tightly.  “Something’s happening to the valley, Dad....Uncle Jack?   What are you doing here?”

            “Looking for you, kid,” Jack tousled his nephew’s hair.  “It’s good to see you again.”

            “Where’s your sister?”  Rick asked.

            “We got separated,” Will explained.  “Enik says the time stream in the valley is out of control.”

            “Your daughter is very much alive,” Enik assured him.

            “Where is she?”  Rick demanded.

            “Where is not the issue, Rick Marshall,” Enik answered.  “Your concern should be when she is.”

            “When she is?”  Jack shook his head.  “What are you talking about?  Where is my niece?”

            “She is on her way to this very cavern.”  Enik explained. 

            “Good.  She’ll be safe here,” Rick said.

            “I’m afraid I cannot guarantee that,” Enik said stiffly.

            “What do you mean?” Will pleaded.

            “I must correct the temporal distortions causing all this trouble,” Enik said.  “If not stabilized, the entire valley could be destroyed.  I must act quickly.”

            “What does that have to do with Holly?”  Jack asked.

            “If she does not reach this cavern in time,” Enik said, “she could find herself stranded in another time, separated from her family.”

            “You can’t let that happen,” Will said.

            “We can go find her,” Rick said.   “We can lead her here.”

            “You can try,” Enik said.  “But once outside this room, I cannot guarantee when any of you will find yourselves.”

            “Dad,” Will grabbed his father’s arm, “we have to try.”

            “We have to,” Rick agreed.  “Jack?  Are you coming with us?”

            “Of course.”

            As the Marshall men hurried from Enik’s cavern, the Altrusian returned to the stone table in front of him.   “Hurry, Rick Marshall.  We are all running out of time.”

******

            “Hurry!”  Holly watched helplessly as the two revolutionary era soldiers struggled to outrun the tottering allosaur close behind them.  Taking a deep breath, she rushed out into the sunlight.  “Hey!  Alice!  Over here!”

            Alice roared, momentarily distracted by Holly’s actions.   She turned and lumbered to the stone tablets where Holly headed.   Holly managed to hide behind one and spied Peter and Harry reaching the safety of the temple.   She sighed, relieved.  “Thank goodness.”

            As Alice struggled to find Holly in her hiding place, Holly gasped to see Sleestak emerge from the temple behind Harry and Peter.  “Look out behind you!  Run!”  But it was already too late; her hapless companions were already being manhandled into the dark recesses of the temple.  “Oh no.  Now what am I going to do?  What would Daddy do?”   Holly stood helpless for a moment before taking a deep breath.  “He’d rescue them from the Sleestak god.”

            Picking up a rock, she pitched it across the ground to draw Alice’s attention away from her as she ran across the plaza to the opening Harry and Peter disappeared into.  Pausing to catch her breath, she stared into the darkness, wary of Sleestak.  “I wish I had Daddy’s lighter.  I need some kind of torch.”

            A voice came from the shadows behind her.  “What have I told you about playing with fire?”

            “Daddy?”  Holly asked tentatively.  As her father stepped into the dim light, she rushed into his arms.  “Daddy, I thought I’d never see you again.”

            “I was beginning to think the same thing,” Holly admitted.

            “What are you doing coming to the temple by yourself?”  Rick asked.

            “I wasn’t,” she told him.  “I ran into those two guys we read about in that diary.  Harry Potts and Peter Connick.”

            “Holly, those two men have been dead for years,” Rick said.  “But if Enik is right, we’ve all been slipping in and out of time around here.  What happened to them, Holly?”

            “The Sleestak got them,” she said.  “We have to get to them before they wind up being dinner for that thing in the pit.”

            “Thing in the pit?”  Jack asked behind his brother.

            “Uncle Jack!”  Holly exclaimed.  “What are you doing here?”

            “No time to explain now, honey,” Rick said.  “If the Sleestak have your two friends, we need to get to them fast.”

            “Rick,” Jack caught his brother by the arm.  “Will’s disappeared.”

            Holly gasped.  “Disappeared?”

            “He was behind me as we left Enik’s cave,” Jack answered, “but as we were coming down the tunnels he just vanished.”

            “He probably slipped into another time stream too,” Rick said. “Come on.  We’d better hurry.”

*****

            “Enik!  Something’s wrong.”  Will rushed back into the Altrusian’s cave only to find it replaced with another chamber.  “Bakun?  I’m back in your time.”

            “I was attempting to bring my brother back into this time,” Bakun told him.  “I’m afraid I failed.”

            “I talked to Enik,” Will told him excitedly.  “Maybe between the two of you, we can correct things.”

            “What do you mean, Will Marshall?”

            “He said if he were here...in his time...he could fix the time energies that are out of whack back in the land of the lost,” Will explained.  “Maybe you can correct it from here.”

            Taking a deep breath, the other Altrusian turned to consider what the human had son.  “Both of us working to stabilize the temporal distortion together?  An unorthodox suggestion but one that may work.”

            “So you can help him?  Help us?”

            “I will try,” Bakun said, “but if I should fail...there is something you must tell Enik for me.”

            “What?”  Will asked. “Anything.”

            “The triple moons shine red on the fortnight.”

            Will stared at the Altrusian for a moment.  “What?  What does that mean?”

            “Remember those words, Will Marshall,” Bakun said.  “Remember them well.”

            Before Will could say anything, the whole room seemed to change before his eyes...the lights faded, steeping the entire cavern into the shadows.  “Enik?”

            “You are back, Will Marshall,” Enik said without turning around.  “Did you find your sister?”

            “No,” Will said.  “I was back in your time.  With your brother.”

            Enik paused in his calibration of the crystal table.  “Bakun?”

            “He gave me a message for you,” Will said.  “The triple moons shine red on the fortnight.  Does that mean anything to you?”

            “It just might, Will Marshall.  It just might.”

******

            “Now I know why we never came here before,” Peter Connick said as he tugged at the ropes holding him and his friend suspended over the smoke filled pit below them.

            “I don’t much like the sounds coming from down there,” Harry Potts said.

            “Can’t say I think too much of them either,” Peter frowned.  “I suspect them fellas over there are planning on dropping us down there to whatever that is.”

            “I always hoped we’d get back home eventually,” Harry said.  “I would have liked to seen Elizabeth one more time.”

            Peter nodded.  “I miss Celia and the boys more than anything.”

            “Peter, look,” Harry pointed to the opening where the three Sleestak guarding them hissed angrily.  “Someone’s coming.”

            “Stand back!”  Rick Marshall yelled as he entered the cavern, keeping the towering reptiles at bay with his torch.  “Jack, see if you can get these two free.”

            “Hurry, Uncle Jack,” Holly said, staying closer to her father.

            “That little girl brought us help,” Peter said.  “Harry, try to swing this cage closer to the ledge.”

            Jack reached out, catching the rope in his hand.  “Hold on,” he told the two men.  “I’ve got to cut this rope then you’ll be free.”

            “We’re much obliged to you,” Harry said.  “We thought were going to be eaten by the moaning thing down below.”

            “You may yet if you don’t stay still,” Jack warned.

            “Hurry!” Rick said.  “More will be on their way soon enough.”

            “We’ve got to get to Enik’s cave,” Holly said. 

            “Almost there,” Jack said. 

            “We can’t thank you enough,” Peter said as he climbed out of their net covered cage.

            “Thank us later,” Jack told him as they both helped the heavier Harry onto to solid ground again.  “Right now we’ve got to get out of here.”

            “Let’s go,” Rick said as he back out of the doorway. 

******

            “What Bakun said means something to you?”

            “To me, yes,” Enik said. “To you?  No.”

            “I don’t understand,” Will said.

            “Bakun wanted you to remind me of an Altrusian song we sang as children,” Enik said.  “It recounts the various phases of the moons that orbit out home planet.  Each verse is about a different color.”

            “The color scheme for the crystal table,” Will said.

            Enik nodded.  “It was the easiest way for my brother to help me rectify the situation we find ourselves.”

            “What about my father and uncle?  And Holly?”

            “We’re right here, son,” Rick said as they moved into Enik’s cave.  “Though we’re not alone”

            “Who are they?”  Will asked as Harry and Peter followed his family.

            “It’s a long story, Will,” Rick said.  “Enik, the Sleestak are close behind us.   We don’t have much time.”

            “I will keep them from bothering us,” Enik said and with a wave of his hand as strange mist covered the door behind them.

            “That’s going to stop those lizard men?”  Peter asked.

            “They will not dare disturb me here,” Enik said.  “Now, thanks to your son, Rick Marshall, I am able to prevent the time stream from disintegrating any further.”

            “That’s good news,” Rick said.  “What can we do to help?”

            “Be quiet and stay out of my way,” Enik said as he turned back to the stone tablet before him.  “The triple moons shine red...”

            The whole cave filled with a green glow as billowing smoke filled the room.

            “Enik?”  Rick asked.  “What’s going on?”

            “Time is returning to its rightful place,” Enik explained as the smoke dissipated.

            “Hey, they’re gone,” Holly said.  “Mr. Connick and Mr. Potts are gone.”

            “Back to their own time,” Enik said.

            “So they went home?”  Will asked.

            “They are still in the valley,” Enik shook his head, “but they are back in the time place they started from.”

            “What about Uncle Jack?”  Holly asked.  “He was never in the land of the lost.”

            “Your uncle is now back in his own time as well,” Enik explained. 

            “You weren’t able to send us all home,” Rick said, “but at least you were able to keep us all from disappearing forever.”

            “I did not do it alone, Rick Marshall,” Enik said.  “Your son and my brother did more to save us all than I did, I’m afraid.   Thank you, Will Marshall.”

******

            Rick Marshall stood on the ledge of High Bluff and watched the triple moons rise over the marshes.  The evening air was cool and the sounds of a million creatures seemed to echo in the jungle just behind their cave.

            “You must be thinking about Uncle Jack?”  Will asked as he came out of the cave.

            “He’s out there somewhere looking for us,” Rick told his son.  “Maybe even right now, he’s trying to figure out how to get us out of here.”

            “I wish he could have stayed with us,” Will said.

            “Me too,” Rick said.  “But this way, with him trying to get to us from that side and us trying to get to him from this side...our chances of going home are better than they were this morning.”

            “I hadn’t thought about it that way,” Will said.

            “He wouldn’t admit it but I’ll bet even Enik would agree.”

            Will smiled.  “I’m sure he would.”

            Holly emerged from the cave behind them.  “Are you two coming to eat?”

            “That depends,” Rick told his daughter.  “What are you cooking?”

            Babua root,” Holly told him.  “Cha-ka showed it to me.”

            Rick smiled.  “That sounds like the best thing I’ve heard all day.”

            “Me too,” Will agreed as he followed his sister inside.

            Pausing at the ledge, Rick looked out over the land of the lost and smiled.  “Good night, Jack.   See you again soon.”