For the Adherent of Pop Culture
Adventures of Jack Burton ] Battlestar Galactica ] Buckaroo Banzai ] Cliffhangers! ] Earth 2 ] The Expendables ] Firefly/Serenity ] Galaxy Quest ] Jurassic Park ] Land of the Lost ] Lost in Space ] The Mummy/The Scorpion King ] The Prisoner ] Snake Plissken Chronicles ] Star Trek ] Terminator ] The Thing ] Total Recall ] Tron ] Twin Peaks ] UFO ] V the series ] Valley of the Dinosaurs ] PopApostle Home ] Links ] Privacy ]

Land of the Lost links:
Pylon Express | The Portal | Library of Skulls | Fan Fiction | LOTL Movie News

 

[This story takes place sometime after the episode, "The Longest Day" (LOTL 1st series, second season)]

LAND OF THE LOST


DOUBLEBACK

by
Clayton Barr


Emitting a high screech, a Pteranodon sailed lazily overhead as Will Marshall stepped out of his family's cave home and hopped down the natural stone steps to the ground. Glancing back up at the entrance to make sure no one was watching, he tossed the remains of his piece of the smilax cake his sister had baked into the thick bushes that grew throughout the jungle near High Bluff. Enough of Holly's cooking would kill a goat, he was sure, and he didn't intend to prove its effectiveness on his less pliant human stomach.
     The single sun had risen high enough in the sky to wash out most of the visibility of the triple moons with its light. It was later than Will had thought. He realized that his father had let them sleep in this morning, a luxury he rarely permitted.
     Will took a swig of water from his canteen to wash away the taste of breakfast, then set to work cutting a new wheel for the shopping cart, the large mobile platform of logs they had constructed shortly after their arrival in the Land of the Lost to haul food, wood and other necessities from the jungle. A couple of days previous, one of the wheels had jammed up against a rock and lost a chunk of itself, causing the cart to rise and fall at one corner while it was pushed along the ground.
     Rick Marshall soon made his way outside as well and was impressed with his son's progress on the wooden wheel. A half-minute later, Holly followed him out of the cave. She looked at him quizzically. "What'd you just throw into the bushes, Dad?"
    Rick jumped, startled. "Huh?! Oh, I didn't know you were there, honey. I, uh…it was just a rock I picked up."
    Holly smiled up at him and went off to tend the Marshall's small garden.
    "Will, let me have a drink from your canteen," Rick said. Will passed him the container and he took a drink, swishing the water around in his mouth before swallowing. "Thanks." He turned and headed towards the nearest clump of a particularly tenacious plant that thrived nearby. "Well, guess I better get to work weeding out the dinosaur-nip that keeps re-growing around here," he announced.
    "Rick Marshall! What have you done?"
    All three members of the Marshall family spun around to look at the source of the familiar voice. Enik, of the ancestral Altrusian race to the Sleestak, approached from out of the thick jungle swell, his shimmering red tunic and golden pendant catching the light of the sun, reflecting rays out from his body.
    "Enik!" Rick said in surprise; the Altrusian did not often venture away from the Lost City. "What is it?"
    "What is the meaning of your tricks, Rick Marshall?"
    "I don't understand. I'm not playing any tricks."
    Though his scaly face was seemingly incapable of expression, Enik still managed to project an air of effrontery. "Do you deny that you visited me in the time doorway chamber less than an hour ago and asked for help in repairing a malfunctioning pylon?"
    "Enik, I haven't left High Bluff all morning. And as far as I know all the pylons are working perfectly..for a change."
    If he knew even a little about human emotions, Rick Marshall and his two children seemed genuinely confused about his claims, Enik had to admit; he probed gently with his telepathic abilities and could find no evidence of duplicity. Enik looked briefly down at the ground and, in what passed for a sigh in the Altrusian, a quick hiss escaped from his mouth. "Perhaps I was misled." It was the closest he would ever come to an apology, Will knew. "Nevertheless," Enik continued, "someone I perceived to be you, Rick Marshall, came to me this morning claiming that my help was needed to repair a pylon. I agreed to help and was led across the bridge that spans the crevasse, whereupon you or, rather, the image of you, disappeared into the jungle. Thinking that, perhaps, I had been purposefully led away from the time doorway chamber, I attempted to re-cross the bridge, but was stopped."
    "Stopped? By what…who?" Will interjected.
    Enik raised his arms, pressing them forward in what on someone less stiff would have been a pantomime. "An invisible barrier. I was unable to penetrate it."
    "A force field? How could it have just sprung up like that?" Rick asked. "Maybe the force field itself is a symptom of a malfunctioning pylon somewhere. Are there any pylons with that ability?"
    Enik replied, "I do not know. The pylons were placed after I left my own time of 1,000 years ago. Although they seem to be of Altrusian technology, I am not personally familiar with their functions."
    Rick was surprised to hear Enik admit his ignorance on the subject; he was normally disinclined to reveal his knowledge, or lack of such, on nearly any matter. He must be very upset with the situation despite the outer calm he always exudes. Even given the potentially serious nature of the problem facing them, Rick could not resist the impulse to dig for more information during the Altrusian's uncommon moment of weakness. "If you didn't have pylons back in your own time, how was the weather 'created' in a closed universe such as this?"
    Enik's posture stiffened even straighter than usual; he looked like a child caught with a hand in the cookie jar. "I will not debate with you on matters that have no bearing on our current predicament."
   So much for that idea, Rick thought.
    "Let's go check it out, Dad," Will said. "Maybe we can help Enik shut it down."
    Holly stepped forward. "I don't know…maybe we should leave it just the way it is. It might keep the Sleestak away from us!"
    "No, that's not a good idea, Holly," her father said. "We'll never be able to use the time doorway again if that force field stays up forever. Besides, you don't want Enik to have to live here with us from now on do you?" Holly made a face and the humans shared a laugh at the Altrusian's expense.
    "Rest assured, the feeling is mutual," Enik stated as he marched into the jungle towards the crevasse.
    Will frowned, stunned. "Was that a joke?"
    "I don't think Enik has a sense of humor, son," Rick replied as they all followed the Altrusian into the thick growth of the primeval forest.

***

    The gentle tinkling sound of his slowly moving body reverberated slightly off the stone walls of the time doorway chamber as the alien empath known as Zarn gently touched a series of glowing crystals on the matrix table. Looking up at the jaggedly rectangular opening of the time doorway, Zarn watched as the mists swirled away to reveal…
    Nothing. Nothing but the cold, damp stone passage that led deeper into the Lost City. With a mental sigh, Zarn tried again, the matrix table humming with the alien's ministrations.

 ***

    The foursome emerged from the emerald jungle a short while later, at the cliff where a large stone slab acted as a bridge over the deep crevasse.
    "I don't see anything," Holly whined.
    "Enik said it was an invisible field," Will told her sardonically.
    "How should I know what an invisible force field looks like?"
    "Be quiet, you two!" their father snapped. With his arms outstretched, he stepped up onto the bridge and walked halfway across before his hands struck up against the barrier. Rick pushed with all his might and felt around the "surface" of the barrier, but could not find a weak spot in it.
    "It is as I told you," Enik stated.
    Rick nodded "All of you, spread out along the gorge and try to toss rocks over to the other side. See if they all bounce back."
    They all did as instructed, even Enik. When they came back together again, their reports seemed to indicate that the field stretched along the entire length of the gorge. Enik stated his belief that the barrier might very well divide the entire valley in half, from side-to-side and even top-to-bottom; he had witnessed a pterodactyl crash into the force field high in the sky and he also pointed out an accumulation of clouds seemingly piled up against the invisible barrier.
    "This could be worse than we thought," Rick commented, indicating the piling clouds. "This is bound to start affecting the weather soon."
    "Could the Sleestak have wanted to keep you away from the Lost City?" Holly asked Enik.
    Will looked surprised. "You know, she could be right. It's always seemed to me that they just barely tolerate your presence there. Maybe the Library of Skulls told them how to generate the force field."
    "That would be a logical possibility except for the fact that the Sleestak went into dormancy just days ago and will not revive again for at least a few weeks." Enik seemed about to say something more.
    "Do you have another idea?" Rick prodded.
    "Not long ago, after you repaired the clock pylon which had caused the 'endless day', you told me you suspected the dead crystal in the matrix table had blown due to the gravity storms on the previous day caused by an empathic alien called Zarn.1 You warned me to beware of the alien and you were correct. Shortly thereafter, I was approached by this Zarn and he demanded that I use the time-doorway to open a portal to his world. I told him I could not, that I had not yet even resolved how to open it to my own time. He then attempted to manipulate the matrix table on his own until I summoned the Sleestak to frighten him off with the emanations of their primitive emotions."
    "Right. Anger from others causes him pain."
    "I told him that I could not have him destroying my work with his own attempts to manipulate the doorway."
    "I understand. Just as you informed me after the incident when Holly met Rani2; that we could have our turn at the time doorway after you had succeeded."
    "Yes. And you have respected my wishes. I begin to fear, however, that Zarn has not."
    Rick paused for a moment, lost in thought. The others, even Enik, watched him expectantly knowing hat a new idea was coming to his mind. Finally, he pointed up at the clouds overhead. "We know the barrier stretches high into the sky from the accumulation of those clouds. But how about downward, into the ground?"
    Enik was again struck by the human's ingenuity. "Of course, Rick Marshall. The underwater tunnel you and your children found near the swamp that leads to the lowest, farthest reaches of tunnels of the Lost City."3 The memory brought to the Altrusian's mind the events of that day; after making their way through the newly discovered passage, the Marshalls had come to the time doorway chamber where he had been attempting to repair fluctuations in the time doorway and had tricked the humans into stepping through to set things right in the "closed-universe" of the Land of the Lost. The human family had been of much help since then; perhaps, one day, he would reveal to them what had really happened that fateful day, what they no longer remembered.
    Quickly, they all dashed back through the jungle, the humans deliberately slowing their pace so as not to lose the slower Altrusian. Will momentarily wondered how Enik managed to avoid being devoured by the large carnivores found here until he witnessed Enik use his telepathic powers to confuse Grumpy, the local tyrannosaur, into walking right past the group without noticing them at all.
    They soon reached the water hole where the Marshalls occasionally swam and, with little hesitation, Rick and Enik dove in and began the short but tiring swim through the underwater tunnel. Will and Holly stayed behind since their father didn't want to risk their lives should the barrier be found in the middle of the channel and where the return swim might cause them to lose their breath before they could resurface.
    Rick noted that the Altrusian was a much more graceful and powerful swimmer than one might have guessed. In fact, Enik pulled ahead of him and was already out of the water at the other end by the time Rick arrived. The tunnel burrowed downward for a length before slowly sloping back up towards the passages of the Lost City. They continued through the dank tunnel, illuminated only by tiny, glowing crystals in the walls and ceiling, at a rapid pace until WHAM! Rick rebounded against the invisible barrier.
    "It extends even this far down! We've got to be 500 feet below the surface or more!"
    Enik managed to look frustrated and, to Rick, even hopeless. Rick felt along the edges of the walls and floor in a token gesture of hope, but it was as he had feared. The barrier left not a single opening through which to pass.
    Enik observed. "Then it is hopeless. There is no way to reach the Lost City until whoever has raised this force field sees fit to lower it again or it is destroyed."
    Rick put a reassuring hand on Enik's shoulder, but the Altrusian quickly pulled away from it and stalked quietly back down the rocky corridor.
    By the time they had returned to Will and Holly, they had decided to attempt to blow a hole in the force field using the explosive power of some red and yellow power crystals. Their assault on the barrier failed.
    It began to seem there was no way to get past the barrier.

***

    It had been almost two days since Zarn had tricked the unsuspecting being called Enik into following the illusion of his human "friend", Rick Marshall, over the crevasse. In that time Zarn had attempted to decipher the workings of this mysterious contraption, the time doorway. Following various mathematical and computative formulas and patterns, Zarn had learned…well, surprisingly little. True, the doorway had been coaxed into opening to several very interesting places and/or times, and Zarn had been somewhat tempted to step into some of them (any place would probably be better than this primitive and atavistic world) but, none were the Zarnworld and, he decided, no other would do. No, better to stay where the power which had brought the lightship here could continue to be manipulated until a portal home was opened. The empath found that the matrix table which controlled the doorway was rather finicky and seemed to refuse to respond the same way twice to identical instructions. It was as if each manipulation built upon the previous, with no way to "erase" old entries and no way of learning what sort of complex pattern would be required to obtain one's desired results.
    Yet Zarn was confident of his ability to eventually master the intricacies of the time doorway, even if only through the effort of trial and error. Despite the time doorway's reluctance to give up its secrets, Zarn thought ironically, there was plenty of time. The de-evolved descendants of Altrusians, the primitive Sleestak, were currently in dormancy and could not reawaken without his knowledge; he had attuned a small portion of his mental faculties (just a fraction, really, but more than enough) to their thought processes. His telepathic abilities, and the weapon he carried (which he had acquired on another world during his many travels), would keep them confused and afraid and away from this chamber. And the force field generator he had devised from the scavenged remains of the lightship destroyed by the humans kept both the uncooperative Enik and the very troublesome humans trapped on the other side of the verdant valley.
    Zarn watched as a new image began to appear in the fog of the portal. Although he quickly realized it was not his own world which appeared there, he tried to 'fine tune' the picture for a clearer image. It was a very interesting setting he saw: a barren, surreal, desert landscape of rolling red dunes dotted with boulders and arches of rock over which large mechanical devices hovered, the death-ray projectors mounted on top of long metal stalks blasting out at anything living, even the dry brush that clung tenaciously to the land with long roots anchored deep into he crimson sand. A rather nightmarish sight, even to Zarn.
    The picture began to fade just as Enik and the Marshalls burst into the chamber from the hallway.
    Startled, Zarn almost dropped the electronic gun-like weapon for which he instinctively reached where he had left it perched on one corner of the matrix table. Recovering it before it could clatter to the floor, Zarn aimed it at the group of intruders and fired. The electric blast ricocheted away from the group to harmlessly strike the wall. He fired again with the same effect.
    "Drop the gun, Zarn!" Rick yelled. "We're generating a little force field of our own!" Zarn saw that Rick Marshall held together two power crystals, one blue and one green, which appeared to be the source of the field. "Your weapon's blast can't penetrate it, as you see." Now Rick just had to hope that the alien didn't know enough about the crystals to realize that they would soon expend their energy, leaving them all virtually defenseless.
    Zarn hesitated briefly but then came to the realization as to how they had managed to approach him undetected. He reconsidered any hostile action and set the weapon back down on the matrix table. Enik cautiously circled around and picked up the weapon. "I see, Altrusian, that you managed to hide not only your own mind from me but those chaotic human minds as well. You may be more powerful than I assumed."
    "I was prepared for you, this time," Enik replied. "As I shall now remain for as long as you reside on this world." Enik could feel Zarn trying to penetrate the mental barrier. "Do not waste your time and ours trying to breach the mental cloak I have cast over myself and the humans." The lighting of Zarn's body changed in defeat. "Tell me how you raised the force field dividing the valley and how to deactivate it."
    Zarn's colors altered once again, this time reflecting his puzzlement. "The barrier still stands? Then how did you manage to cross?"
    "It was Rick Marshall who came to the simple realization of how to circumvent your obstruction."
    "I used the knowledge I once tried to give to you, Zarn--that this valley is a universe unto itself, a closed universe. So we did a double-back; by walking in the opposite direction, that is, away from the force field you erected, we…completed a 'circuit' around the valley…and came around on the other side of the Lost City."
    "A circumstance I had not forseen," Zarn replied. A pause and another change of color. "Very well. I constructed a device out of the remains of my computer you humans so graciously left behind when you destroyed my lightship and my only other chance of escape."
    "We weren't trying to destroy your ship!"
    "My son is right," Rick added. "But we had to stop you from your attempt to fly out in it. In this closed universe you would have succeeded only in destroying yourself or this world. I couldn't let that happen. Zarn, you are not the only one here in this world who deserves continued life."
    "Of course. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one." Rick was unsure whether or not Zarn was being sarcastic. "I admit I may have been mistaken in taking such a rash action as I did then. However, I still would like to return home and, without my ship, this time/space mechanism is my only chance of doing so."
    Enik stepped forward, still holding the weapon on Zarn. "As I informed you during your previous visit, you, and the humans, will be free to make use of the time doorway after I have completed the necessary calculations and manipulations of the matrix time table to return myself to my proper time period. Until then, any other use disrupts my own attempts to return home." Zarn did not reply. "Now show us the force field device."
    Without a word, the alien empath led the four out of the Lost City to a small enclosure of rocks not far into the jungle. Nestled within was the generator, invisible itself except for the glowing of an outline of small lights. "I shall shut down the device," he said, reaching in.
    "That will not be necessary," Enik interrupted, sending an electric blast into the machine, destroying it, with the alien's weapon.
    Zarn flashed red with outrage. "The parts I used in the construction of that device were among the last salvageable from my lightship. They are irreplaceable!"
    Enik replied calmly, "I did not wish you to become inclined to use the device against us again. I will also keep this weapon. Do not attempt to retrieve it. I will not suffer another intrusion by you. Go." He pointed in the direction of Mist Marsh, where lay the wreckage of the Zarn's lightship.
    Before his colors could give him away any further, Zarn strode silently away.
    "Wow!" Holly commented. "Enik, remind me not to get you mad!"
    "Anger is not logical. I merely believed this to be the best way to prevent further unwanted intrusion by the Zarn."
    "Yeah, well, just the same…"
    "Good luck on your attempts with the time doorway," Rick said to Enik. "I hope Zarn didn't rearrange your matrix patterns to severely."
    "Thank you for your help, Rick Marshall. When I have managed to properly realign the time doorway, you will be the first to know."
    The Altrusian turned and headed back to the Lost City.
    Will watched Enik go, then said, "Dad, do you think any of us will ever make it out of here?"
    "I think it'll happen eventually, Will. But it would probably happen a lot faster if Zarn would be friendlier and pool his knowledge with Enik's."
    "Fat chance of that!"
    "Well, you never know. Maybe ol' Zarn'll realize he's got nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by helping."
    "I don't know," Holly said. "I don't think Enik would let him come near even if Zarn wanted to help!"
    "I don't know about Zarn, but I do know two kids of mine who have to help each other fix dinner…right about now! It's my night off! So, let's get moving, I'm starved!"
    "Oh, no…" Will and Holly moaned in unison.

***

    Embittered, Zarn returned to the remains of his derelict ship in Mist Marsh. Although he had not been able to zero in on his own world during his manipulations of the time doorway, he had learned some very interesting information while viewing one of the many other visions to appear. Zarn did not yet know when or how, but he would eventually make use of this knowledge.
    And Enik and the Marshalls would help him…willfully or not.

Footnotes

1 See "The Longest Day" and "Gravity Storm" episodes, respectively (LOTL, 1st TV series).
2 See "Elsewhen" episode (LOTL, 1st TV series).
3 See "Circle" episode (LOTL, 1st TV series).

Episode descriptions are linked from Nels P. Olsen's Land of the Lost Episode Guide.