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by Lisa Marie Bell


Annie Porter kissed her Dad and promised him that she’d be careful while she was out gathering corn and  fruit for supper.  This was the first time since the family drove into this strange Land of the Lost that Dad had allowed Annie to go exploring without himself or her older brother Kevin with her, and the sense of freedom that she felt made Annie’s step light and brought her favorite pop song to her lips.  Annie stayed on the path that her family always followed through the jungle and listened alertly for dinosaurs.   No way was she going to take any chances and have Dad not allow her to go out by herself again!  She was eleven years old!  That was certainly old enough to gather supplies on her own.

After Annie collected some corn and put it in her mesh bag, she switched her battery-operated cassette-player on quietly, and the sound of Brittany Spears accompanied the little girl to the strawberry patch.  The berries were giant, so Annie only picked three.  Annie loved this strawberry patch.  There were many others, but this one was cool because it was right outside the side door of the tunnel building.  Right inside the entrance was a great pile of rocks which blocked an old doorway.  The family felt safe here, because, unlike the other two doors, the sleestak couldn’t come out here.  Dad said that there must have been a large cave here at one time, because there were so many rocks all over the ground.  He thought that most likely a violent earthquake had destroyed  this part of the tunnels. 

Today, though, Annie noticed something weird about the entrance.   She walked toward the tunnel entrance and she saw mist floating there.  She couldn’t see inside.  This was strange!  The little girl dropped her food net and walked through the mist and into the cave with the blocked doorway.  Only, the doorway wasn’t blocked!  It was surrounded by mist and Annie could see the tunnels beyond!

“What’s going on?”  she asked aloud.  Then, Annie felt her vision going black, and she started to get dizzy.  She cried out and sank to her knees, pressing her hand to her forehead.

“When I open my eyes, everything will be bright and normal again.”  She said out loud.  But when she opened her eyes, she was still in the foggy entrance and she couldn’t seem to remember which way to go.  So she stepped forward, into the tunnels.   She stepped into a room where the pastel-colored rocks set into the walls were glowing brightly.  Before her was a stone table with brightly shining crystals in it.  Annie started toward the table, but froze in terror when she heard a noise down the tunnel.

"Sleestak!" she breathed.  She gazed around, searching for somewhere to hide, and ducked behind a small rock way off in the corner.


“Holly, come on!”  Will Marshall scolded his little sister as she stopped yet again to pick a bright flower.  The kids were on their way to the waterhole to fill the family’s water jugs, and Will was anxious to arrive and to do a bit of fishing as well.   

“It’s such a beautiful day!  Why are you in such a rush?”  Holly asked.

“That’s why!  Because it’s beautiful and I want to try to catch some supper!  Now, would you hurry?”

Finally arriving at the water hole, Holly offered to fill the jugs and Will sat and stuck his line in the water.  He grinned happily.  Fishing was his favorite thing to do here.  With the sun shining warmly over everything, Will stretched his legs out and sat back to relax.  When the jugs were filled, Holly sat beside Will for a moment, lifting her face to the warm sun. 

“Ahh, this is nice.”  She said happily.  Will smiled in agreement.

Holly smelled her fragrant bouquet of flowers and noticed that they were already starting to wilt.

“Will, I’m going to find a gourd to use as a vase for my flowers.  They’re wilting.”

“Okay.  Keep your eyes open, though.  We’re in sleestak land.”  Will advised.

“I will.  But they’re not too likely to come out in this beautiful sunlight!”  Holly walked through the jungle and found a perfect, long gourd to use as a vase.  As she cut it open to gut it, she became aware of a strange, pulsing buzz.  Holly frowned and walked the short distance to the edge of  the jungle and the Lost City.  The strange sound came from the central entrance, the one that lead to Enik’s cave!  Enik must be trying to open the doorway!  Holly raced back to the waterhole.

“Will!  Will!”

Will jumped up and ran toward his sister.  “What is it?  What’s wrong?  Is Alice chasing you?”  he asked frantically.

“No!  There’s a buzzing noise coming from Enik’s cave!  He must be trying to open the doorway!”

“Oh boy!  Let’s head over!”  Will proposed excitedly.

“But, Will, what if Enik does open the doorway, and we’re there without Dad?  One of us should run home to get him!”

Will took Holly’s shoulders.  “You’re right.  You go back, and I’ll look for Enik.  I don’t want you in the Lost City alone.  Be careful, though, okay?  Watch out for Grumpy!”

“ I will.  You too, okay?”

Will smiled and patted Holly’s arm as he promised to be cautious and they went in separate directions, Holly carrying the half-full water jugs. 

Will crossed the plaza and entered the Lost City with no trouble.  Inside, he carefully followed the short tunnel to Enik’s cave, thankfully not encountering any sleestak!  But he did stub his toe on a small rock right outside the doorway chamber.  He grunted as the tender flesh yielded to the solid rock, and hopped on his other foot until the pain subsided.

 Enik’s  cave was empty when Will stepped in, but the time doorway was open!  The door was surrounded with mist and showed the jungle outside.

“Where’s Enik?”  Will wondered aloud.  “Why would he open the doorway and then leave?”  Will approached the matrix table, but pulled his hand back before he touched it.  “ No, I’ll wait for Dad.  This is too important to fool around with!”

As Will glanced around the cave, he suddenly found himself looking into the wide, frightened eyes of a little girl with long, dark hair and big, blue-framed glasses.

Will’s own eyes widened in surprise.  “Hey,” he said gently, “how did you get in here?  Who are you?”  He walked toward the girl and crouched down beside her.  “What’s your name?”  he smiled.

Annie smiled.  “Annie Porter.”  The young man had kind eyes and a gentle smile and she trusted him right away.

“Well, hi, Annie.  I’m Will Marshall.”  He held his hand out and helped Annie stand.  “You’re not alone, are you?”  he inquired.

“Well, I was picking strawberries and I noticed something weird going on in the tunnel door.  When I stepped through the fog, I think I almost fainted.  I couldn’t think clearly, and then when I tried to leave the tunnel, I found myself here.  But I’ve never seen this room before.”
“Were you just at your house?  Were you….how do I put this….were you on earth?”

“No.  My Dad and Kevin, that’s my brother,  and I were caught in an earthquake and our jeep slid into a crack in the ground.  We drove through a weird, bluish tunnel.  When we came out of the tunnel, we were lost and trapped in a place where there are dinosaurs and creepy reptilian humanoids called sleestaks.  Where are we?  Do you know?”

“Hah!”  Will breathed in amazement.  “Uh, we’re still in the same place, unfortunately!  Almost the same thing that happened to your family also happened to mine!  We were rafting in the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, when an earthquake struck.  We rafted through a crack in some gigantic rocks and then plunged over a thousand-foot waterfall!  That’s how my Dad and little sister and I got here.”

Annie frowned and bit her lip.  This was all so strange.

“Annie, what year was it when you left earth?”  Will questioned.

“1996.”  Annie told him.  “Why, was it a different year for you?”

“Yeah!  It was 1974!”  Will was amazed.

“Boy, I sure hope that twenty-two years haven’t passed since we’ve been here!  As I figure, we’ve been in the Land of the Lost for almost eight months!”  Will told Annie.

“That’s what we call it, too!”  Annie smiled.

Will smiled back and laid his hand on the girl’s arm.  “Well, why don’t you come with me?  We’ll find my Dad and see if we can figure out how to get you back to your family.”

“Do you think I’m in another time?  Maybe I could just step back through the doorway?”  Annie asked hopefully.

“It’s not open to anywhere right now,”  Will explained.  “See, we can’t see anything, it’s just black, like empty space.  But Dad’s pretty good at figuring things out.  He’ll know what to do.  It’s hard to say what amount of time you skipped when you stepped through the door.”

 Annie looked worried, so Will comforted her by putting his arm around her shoulders.  “Let’s go.  These caves aren’t the best place to hang around!”  Will lead Annie out of Enik’s chamber and quietly through the tunnels.  Annie gazed around fearfully and was extremely glad that Will was right behind her, guiding her along with his hands on her shoulders.

“I’m sure glad I found you, Will.  I’d  be terrified if I had to be in these tunnels alone!”  Annie whispered.

Will smiled.  “They  are very creepy!  Look, there’s the sun shining in, we’re almost out!” 

Annie  and Will quickly exited the Lost City and after a quick look for Big Alice, Will lead Annie across the plaza. They were almost to the jungle when the allosaurus charged for them from the right.  Annie gasped.  Will grabbed her hand and pulled her along with him as he raced for the jungle.

“Run, Annie!  We’ll find a place to hide in the foliage!”

The two kids plunged into the trees and soon dove behind a large boulder surrounded by ferns.  Will hugged Annie protectively to his side.

“Don’t move, don’t speak!” he whispered.  Annie nodded, her eyes as wide as saucers as they listened to the allosaur thrash through the jungle and winced at her deafening roars.  Luckily, she soon gave up and stomped off, roaring, in search of easier prey.  Will and Annie slumped in relief.

“Hey, are you okay?”  Will asked in concern.

“Yeah.”  Annie smiled weakly.

“Let’s get going!”  Will helped Annie up and they headed toward High Bluff, looking over their shoulders to be sure that Big Alice wasn’t going to spot them.

Very soon, they met Dad and Holly.

“Will!”  Holly called, and then she and Dad stopped in amazement.

“Dad, Holly, this is Annie!  She’s from another time in the Land of the Lost.  She stepped through the open time doorway!  But the door went black before we left!”  Will explained.

“Well, hello, Annie!”  Dad smiled and shook the little girl’s hand.

“Hi, Annie!”  Holly beamed.  “I’m Holly!  Boy, is it ever great to have another girl around!”

“Hi!”  Annie smiled at everyone.  “It sure is awesome to meet some people!”

“What’s that on your belt?”  Holly asked.

“This is my cassette walkman.”  Annie said.  “I love Brittany Spears!  Luckily, I brought lots of batteries!”

“Cassette walk man?  Rick asked.  None of the Marshalls had any idea what that was.  “Annie, what year was it when you entered this Land?”  Rick continued.

“Dad, Annie’s from 1996!”  Will exclaimed.  “She’s here with her Dad and older brother!”

“Wow, your family’s just like mine!”  Holly noted.  “That’s strange.”

“We’d better get back to the cave.”  Dad said.  “It’s starting to get dark.  We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to check out that doorway.  It’s just too dangerous right now.  We’d run into the sleestak for sure.”  He frowned, disappointed.

 Holly clasped Annie’s hand as everyone walked to High Bluff.  They were all full of questions about what earth was like in 1996, a full twenty-two years after the Marshalls knew it!

As the girls walked on ahead, chattering nonstop, Will and Rick followed, smiling as they watched how happy their girl was with her new friend. 

“Dad, knowing what year Annie’s from makes me wonder how much time we’ve been missing.  I mean, here it’s been about eight months, but, could it really be that long, over twenty years, on earth?”  Will questioned.

“Well, son, I suppose it could be.  But I think that people from all times and places get stuck here, and it doesn’t mean anything to our particular situation.”

Will nodded.  “I sure wish we could get home.”

Rick put his hand on his son’s shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze.  “Tomorrow we’ll all go back to the Lost City.  We’ll find Enik and ask him if he opened that doorway, but I’m pretty sure that he would never have done that and then left.  We’ll ask him to help us get Annie back to her time and then we’ll ask him to try to open the door to earth.”  Rick promised.

Will smiled in excitement.

“And maybe when we’re gone, the Land of the Lost will allow Enik to return to his time too, so that everything will be normal again.”  Rick added.

Then Will asked,  “Dad, if Enik didn’t open the door, then what happened?”

“I don’t know, son.”

“Maybe something is wrong with one of the pylons, or some of the crystals in the matrix table!”

“We’ll just have to see tomorrow, Will.  But it’s too dangerous right now with night coming.”

 Holly and Annie became the best of friends in a few short hours.  They talked and giggled endlessly as Will and Dad prepared supper.  Holly was ecstatic when Dopey dropped by for a visit and she was able to introduce him to Annie, who fell in love with the baby brontosaur right away.  Will laughed and said to his Dad,  “I can’t believe it!  Those two haven’t stopped talking since they met!”

Rick chuckled too.  “It’s wonderful to see Holly so happy.”

Supper was a giddy celebration that night.  Annie continued to fill the family in on all the interesting things that had happened since 1974, and listened with rapt interest to their reminiscences about their lives in the seventies.

The girls cleaned up after supper while Holly giggled and enjoyed listening to Annie’s walkman.  When Will and Dad returned from gathering strawberries and melons at a patch near the cave, the girls had finished the dishes and were dancing together and laughing.  When they spotted Dad and Will, Holly ran to her brother and grabbed his hand, pulling him over to dance with her and Annie.  Will laughed and shook his head, but joined the girls in their fun.

 “Come on, Daddy!”  Holly begged, but Dad shook his head as he placed the collected fruit in a large gourd.

“No thanks, honey, I’m having too much fun watching!”  he laughed.

After the kids  had exhausted themselves with dancing, they joined Rick around the cozy fire he had built.  Annie and Holly still hadn’t discussed everything that they wanted to discuss, so the talk moved from the seventies to the eighties and the nineties, and to clothes and shopping and friends and teachers and finally to their families and being stranded in the Land of the Lost, with the men joining in whenever they could squeeze a word in sideways!  Rick told Annie about the pylons and the doorways and finally about the pylon without a key that opened when the Land’s three moons lined up in the sky.  Annie told Rick that her family had tried those things also, but that they hadn’t known about the moons and had never seen a keyless pylon!

Eventually, everyone settled down to sleep for the night.  Rick lay in a light, pre-sleep, with thoughts of the time-doorway running through his head.  He was almost asleep when he heard a quiet noise.  He came awake and listened and there it was again.  A sniffle, and then another.  He sat up and then rose to his knees.  Another sniffle.  It was little Annie, crying softly.  Rick rose and went to the child.

“Honey?  What is it?  What’s wrong?”

Annie sniffed and wiped her eyes.

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to wake you.”  She apologized.

“That’s alright.”  Rick touched Annie’s arm to comfort her.  “What’s wrong?”  he asked gently.

“I miss my Dad.  I even miss my brother.”  Annie whispered so as not to wake Holly and Will, who were asleep right beside her.  Rick rubbed Annie’s arm, his hand going up and down  to calm the child.

“Don’t you worry, Annie.  We’ll all go back tomorrow and try to get the time doorway back to your time.”  Rick smiled kindly.  Annie sniffed and then sniffed again.

“Will you be okay now?”

Annie nodded and Rick pulled her blanket up snugly to her chin.  “Sleep well.  Tomorrow is a new day.”  He smiled.


Early the next morning, the Marshalls set out for the Lost City with Annie.  The sun shone brightly and a gentle breeze caressed their faces as they walked through the giant trees, ferns and palms.  A pair of pterodactyls soared high overhead.  They could hear Grumpy roaring in the distance.

“It seems like the Land of the Lost is having a quiet morning.”  Rick remarked contentedly.

“It sure is nice to just be able to walk through the jungle without having to dive for cover!”  Will agreed.  “I hope we can reach Enik’s time doorway chamber without any trouble!”

And the Marshalls’ luck held.  The Lost City plaza was quiet, and they crossed quickly and entered the tunnels.  They quietly walked through the damp, dark tunnels to Enik’s chamber.  He was nowhere to be found.  The time doorway, though, was still open!

"Dad!”  Holly said upon seeing the mist-shrouded, black portal.  “It’s still open!”

“I’ve never seen a door stay open for this long.  It has obviously opened itself.  Enik would never have done this.  Where can he be?”  Rick wondered.  “I wonder if he found his way home?”

Holly, Will and Annie looked at Rick.  If Enik was gone, maybe they could get home too!  But Enik was also the only one who knew a little bit about opening the time doorways. 

Will walked over to the matrix table and quickly called Dad over.

“Look!  The crystals are so much brighter than usual!”  he exclaimed.

“You’re right, son.  Something is definitely wrong here.”

“But what could it be, Daddy?”  Holly asked.

“I don’t know, honey.”

“Can you make the doorway work, Rick?”  Annie asked.  The little girl had been very quiet since they had entered the tunnels.

“Ahh, I’m not sure if that would be a good idea, Annie.  I think we should try to find Enik and see if he can help us.  If he’s here.  But somehow I have the feeling that he’s still here and that the door is just malfunctioning.  Maybe he’ll know why the crystals are glowing brighter and why this door opened.  Come on, kids.  Holly, Annie, stay close to  Will and I.”  Rick instructed.

Cautiously, the four walked down tunnel after tunnel and past the pit room, which was empty, but found no trace of their Altrusian friend.

“Where could Enik be, Dad?”  Will asked.  “He must not have been in his chamber since at least yesterday, when Annie and I were there, or he would have closed the door!”

“Well, maybe he has been there, Will, but just doesn’t know how to close the door.  There’s no way to know until we find him.”

“Or, like you said, maybe he’s gone.”  Will added soberly, but quietly, so the girls wouldn’t hear.

“I’m getting tired, Daddy.”  Holly complained.

“Honey, we have to keep looking for Enik.  He’s the only one who might know how to open the doorway, and we’ve got to help Annie.”

Holly nodded, and Annie took her hand as they resumed their search.

When they had walked for over twenty more minutes, Rick halted them.

“We can’t go on any further.  This is deeper into the caves than we’ve ever gone, and if we continue, we could get lost.”  He looked at each of the children.  “We’re going to have to go back to the doorway and try to open it ourselves.”

The Marshalls and Annie retraced their route, stopping and pressing themselves into a corner  or as far behind a boulder as they could get on several occasions when they thought they heard a noise.

 “I have a bad feeling, Dad.”  Will said, looking around warily.  “It was very quiet while we were coming in, and now that we’re leaving, I keep hearing strange noises, like the sleestak might be one the move.” He added softly.

“Just keep going, Will.”  Dad ordered.  “Keep your eyes and ears open.  And if we see any sleestak, I want you all to run to Enik’s cave as fast as you can!”

“I’m scared!”  Annie looked around nervously.

Will stepped behind the two girls and placed a hand on each of their shoulders.  “Come on.  Let’s go.  It’ll be alright.”  He comforted them.

They headed up two more tunnels, when suddenly they rounded a corner and there were four sleestak!

Holly and Annie screamed.  Dad and Will each pushed one of the sleestak, knocking the beasts backwards, then started wrestling with the other two.

“Will!  Run!  Take the girls and run!”  Dad ordered.

“No, Dad!”  Will resisted, shoving the sleestak he fought, but then being grabbed by yet another.

“Daddy, be careful!”  Holly cried.

“Oh, no, you don’t!”  Annie yelled and rushed to Rick and the sleestak who held his arms.  The girl kicked the green monster hard on his leg, causing him to let Rick go.  Rick rushed to Will and helped him to shove away the two sleestak who were struggling with him, while Annie fiercely kicked the other sleestak again on his other leg.

“Everybody, run!”  Rick yelled.  Dodging the remaining sleestak, who grabbed at Holly but was shoved aside by Will, the family bolted down the tunnel toward Enik’s time-doorway cave.

“Oh, that was too close!”  Holly panted as they ran.  “Annie, you were super!  The way you attacked that sleestak was so brave!”

“Holly’s right, Annie!  You’re a hero!”  Will grinned as the family slowed to a walk.

“I was terrified!”  She answered her friends.

Rick brushed Annie’s hair quickly with his hand.  “Thank you, honey.  You really saved us back there.”

Annie grinned at Holly, who smiled happily at her new best friend.

Rick and the kids arrived safely at the time-doorway chamber and were gratefully surprised to find Enik there!

“Enik!”  Rick said.  “Thank goodness you’re here!  The time doorway seems to have opened itself.  Unless you did it?”

“I did not open this doorway.  I thought perhaps that you had tampered with it.”  Enik stated.  He cocked his head at Annie.  “Rick Marshall, who is this?”  he asked.

“I’m Annie.  I’m from another time in the Land of the Lost.  I need to get back to my family!  Please, can you help me?”  Annie pleaded.

“Annie stepped through this time doorway from another time in the Land.”  Rick explained. 

Enik regarded the small human.  “Did you open the door yourself?”

“No!”  Annie answered.  “I was picking strawberries outside the tunnel entrance, when I saw some strange mist in the door.  I went in and then I got dizzy and confused.  Instead of walking back to my jungle, I stepped through the door and arrived here.”

“This is all most strange.”  Enik said.

“Enik, do you have any idea why the door opened?”  Rick asked.

“No.  I’m afraid that I know very little about the doorways.  As you know, I have had no luck in returning to my own time.”

“Enik, we must get this doorway to open on Annie’s time!  Her father and brother will be worried sick about her!  With the door still open, it shouldn’t be hard to find.  Can’t you touch the crystals to turn the doorway back to it’s last location?”

Enik shook his head.   “I am sorry that your weak human mind cannot understand even the simplest workings of the time doorway.  It is not that simple.  But, I will try.”

Holly and Annie looked at each other hopefully and clasped their hands together as Enik stepped toward the matrix table.

“Dad!  Enik!  Sleestak!”  Will hollered as their four attackers appeared in the tunnel opening.

Enik turned toward the tunnel door and waved his outstretched arm.  A mist appeared around the top and edges of the rock opening, and the four sleestak were trapped outside.

“An invisible barrier.”  Enik explained.  “They cannot come through.”

“Whew.”  Will breathed.

“That’s a handy trick, Enik.  Thank you.  That’s the second time you’ve saved us with it.”  Rick said with relief.

Enik nodded, and turned back to begin his work on the matrix table.  Rick and Will stepped up beside him, followed by the girls, who still held each other’s hands.  After Enik touched three combinations of crystals, everyone could see a view of the jungle appear in the doorway.  Will looked excitedly at Holly and Annie.

“You opened it to the jungle!”  Rick exclaimed.

“I wonder if it’s Annie’s time?”  Will asked.

“How will we know if….”  Holly  began, then fell silent as two men stepped into the cave through the door.
“Daddy!”  Annie ran to Tom Porter and he picked her up and hugged her as the Marshalls stood with their mouths open in shock.

“Oh, sweetie, oh, Annie, we’ve been crazy with worry for you!”

“Daddy, I was picking strawberries and there was some mist in the tunnel entrance and when I stepped through into the cave, I got dizzy and I didn’t know where to go and….”

“Shh.  I know.  It’s okay.”  Tom hugged Annie again and then set her down.  “When you didn’t come back, Kevin and I went looking for you.  We looked for hours, until I finally remembered that you probably went to the strawberry patch beside the tunnels.  When we arrived there, we saw the mist and felt all the same confusion and dizziness that you said you felt.  So we stepped forward through the door, hoping that we were doing the right thing to rescue you.  And thankfully we found you.”

Annie looked confused.  “But Daddy, I’ve been here for a whole day and night!”

“It seems as if you were caught in the time doorway for almost half a day!”  Rick hypothesized.

“Perhaps that is why the doorway has remained open for so long.”  Enik said.  “This is all most mystifying.”

“But when I stepped through the doorway, I arrived in this chamber right away!”  Annie said.  “At least, I think I did!  This is weird!”

“Well, if felt to me that we arrived here right away, too, Annie.  Who knows, in this place, what really happened?”  Tom said.

“Oh!  Dad, Kevin, this is Rick Marshall and his kids, Will and Holly!”  Annie explained.  “And this is Enik.  His people built a lot of the strange things here.”

Tom and Kevin shook hands with everyone, smiling and joyful to meet other people.  Then Kevin hugged Annie.  “You sure had us freaking out.  I even missed you!”  he joked.

Annie smiled as she returned the hug.  “I missed you and Dad so much!”

“I don’t want to interrupt your emotional meeting,”  Enik interrupted  “but I believe it would be best if the Porters returned through the time doorway while it’s still open.”

“You’re right.”  Tom agreed.  “Rick, Will, Holly, I can’t thank you enough for keeping my little girl safe for me.”  Tom shook Rick’s hand again.

“It was our pleasure.”  Rick replied.  “We wish you the best of luck in trying to return to earth.”

“We wish that for you, too.”  Tom turned to Kevin and Annie.  “Come on, kids, let’s go!”

Kevin and Will shook hands while Annie and Holly hugged.

“Holly, I’m going to miss you.  You’re my best friend!  I’ll never forget you.”  Annie said with a tear in her eye.

“You’re my best friend, too, Annie!  I’ve had the best time while you’ve been here!  And I’ll never forget you, either!”

Annie pulled her pink ribbon from her hair and passed it to Holly.  “Take this.  I want you to have it.  Every time you wear it, just sing our Brittany Spears song and know that we’ll be best friends forever!”

“Thanks!”  Holly smiled and the girls hugged one last time.

Annie went to stand in front of Rick and Will.  “Thank you for taking such good care of me.”  She said to them.  She hugged Rick and he gave her a gentle chuck on the chin. 

“It was nice to meet you.”  He smiled.

Then Annie smiled at Will and he wrapped her in a big bear hug.  “Take care, Annie!”  he smiled.

Then Annie joined her family at the doorway.  The Porters waved to the Marshalls and Enik as they stepped through the misty doorway and faded from sight.

“Are you alright, honey?”  Rick hugged Holly close.

“Yeah.”  Holly answered.  “I’m just happy that Annie and her family were reunited.”

“Dad?”  Will joined his father and Holly.  “I’ve been wondering….well, you know that Enik has told us that for three people to enter the Land of the Lost, that three people must exit.  So, when the three Porters  entered….” 

“Three people had to leave!”  Holly finished Will’s thought excitedly.  “Us!”

“Right!”  Will grinned, eyes wide with hope.

Rick put his arm around Will, so that he was hugging both of his kids.  “That sounds like pretty positive proof that we’re going to get out of here, doesn’t it?”  Rick agreed.

Will and Holly beamed at each other. 

“I just hope that they will escape from here, too.”  Rick added sadly.

“Rick Marshall, I will attempt to open the doorway unto our worlds.  I do not know if I will locate either one, but now is an optimum time to try.”  As the Marshalls stepped over to the crystal matrix, Enik began to touch crystal combinations with his large, three-fingered hands.

“Enik, if the doorway opens to your world, I don’t know if I’ll have enough knowledge to open it to earth!”  Rick pointed out to the Altrusian.

“I do not know what will happen.  The doorway is not reacting to my attempts to locate Altrusia as it usually does.  I have opened the door many times, but always there is something that is wrong and I cannot go through.”

Enik continued to concentrate on working the time doorway when suddenly the crystals in the matrix table went dark, the glowing rocks on the cave walls went dark, and the time doorway disappeared, fading into a solid wall of stone.

“What is this?”  Enik spoke aloud.

“Enik, what’s happening?”  Rick demanded.

“I do not know, Rick Marshall.  I am incapable of explaining what has been  happening with the time doorway.  It is extremely perplexing.”

“Daddy!  Do something!”  Holly whined.

Will shook his head and held up his hands in bewilderment.  “What do you think is happening, Dad?”

Rick frowned.  “I don’t know, son.  The Land of the Lost has demonstrated to us many times just how complex and unexplainable it is, and this seems to be just another mystery.”

Enik touched the stones in the matrix table, but to no avail.  The usually softly glowing crystals sat dark and unresponsive in their stone nest. 

The sleestak that had been waiting outside the chamber door had long since given up and gone, and Enik quietly waved his clawed limb.

“Go.  Depart.”  He instructed the Marshalls.  “There is nothing more to be done here.”  Enik’s usually unemotional voice sounded depressed and tired to the Marshalls, or perhaps it was just their own dampened hopes that made it seem that way.

“Come on Will, Holly, let’s get back to the cave.”  Rick put his hand on Holly’s shoulder and followed her out into the tunnels, with Will following quietly behind.  “Don’t worry, honey,”  he smiled  “we’ll find a way, we’ll get back home.”

Holly looked at her father and smiled.  “I know.  It’s just disappointing.  But I’m really glad that Annie got back to her Dad and Kevin.  As long as they’re together, they’ll be okay, just like us.”

The family walked together through the tunnels, on their way back to their cave home.