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EXODUS

By Marc C.


Chapter 1

    Rick Marshall stepped into the pylon filled with hope. He and his nineteen year old son Will had discovered the pylon just the day before, and Rick was optimistic that he could somehow open the time doorway back to Earth. Rick, Will, and his thirteen year old daughter Holly had been stranded in this place for what seemed like an eternity. Rick thought back to that fateful day when he took his family on a routine rafting expedition on the Colorado River as part of his job as a forest ranger. Suddenly, an earthquake hit, sending the raft out of control and over a 1000 foot waterfall. Somehow, the Marshalls had escaped death, but they fell through a portal to another dimension, which they called the Land of the Lost.
    Rick recalled his family’s rude introduction to the Land of the Lost. Immediately after their raft came to a stop, the Marshalls awoke to find themselves staring directly at a tyrannosaurus rex. The beast, which Holly named Grumpy, chased them to a nearby cave, which the Marshalls found to be safe. Rick decided that until they found their way home, the cave, which they named High Bluff, would be their home base.
    Grumpy was not the only beast in the Land of the Lost, as the Marshalls encountered all types of dinosaurs. In addition, the land was filled with numerous unknowns and other dangers including a hostile species called the Sleestak. The Sleestak were green, lizard-like creatures, approximately seven feet tall, and lived in a place the Marshalls called the Lost City. The Marshalls would never go to the Lost City, except that it contained technology from an intelligent species called Altrusians, ancestors of the Sleestak that occupied the Land of the Lost centuries before the Marshalls arrived. Although the Altrusians were technologically advanced, and created many of the mysteries of the Land of the Lost, years of bottling up their emotions led to their destruction. The Marshalls obtained their information from Enik, a member of the Altrusian race who also fell through a doorway and was trapped in the Land of the Lost. Enik looked similar to the Sleestak, but was beige in color and shorter. When the Marshalls encountered Enik for the first time, they showed him the Lost City, and sadly, Enik learned that his civilization, which abandoned their emotions for the pursuit of science, was destroyed. He theorized that his race had hidden their emotions too long, and as a result, exploded in a cataclysmic war that ended in their destruction. The Sleestak were descendants of the Altrusians, but were de-evolved versions who were very hostile and violent, and retained none of the intelligence of their ancestors.
    In the Lost City, Enik showed the Marshalls that there was a time doorway, which, if properly set, could get the Marshalls home. Enik and the Marshalls all wanted to use the doorway. The Marshalls wanted to go home, and Enik wanted to return to his time to warn his people of the upcoming disaster. The problem was that neither Enik nor the Marshalls were able to open a doorway to their respective worlds. Enik stayed in the Lost City to concentrate on finding the proper coordinates, while the Marshalls returned to High Bluff to pursue other means of escaping the Land of the Lost. Once in awhile, the Marshalls would enter Enik’s cave to try to operate the doorway on their own, but the odds of them figuring out the proper coordinates to Earth were very slim. Still, they had to try, and as a result, they often visited the Lost City, and encountered the dangerous Sleestak.
    Rick recalled how during their time in the Land of the Lost, the Marshalls discovered an Altrusian mechanism called pylons. Pylons were tall, silver buildings which somehow controlled many of the functions of the Land of the Lost. As the Marshalls explored the Land of the Lost, they found more pylons, mapped them, and learned what they could do.
    Rick discovered that each pylon had its own function. Some pylons controlled the weather. Others controlled gravity. More important, some pylons could open time doorways. Most had a triangular key at the top of its door that would open the pylon when turned. Inside the pylon was a table with various colored crystals. These crystals seemed to be the cornerstone of Altrusian technology. When touching individual crystals of different colors, the Marshalls could make various events occur, from a blinding light, to a temporary force field. Somehow, crystals generated power, and they were a major tool for the Altrusians. The crystal table in a pylon controlled its inner workings. The Marshalls believed that there was a pylon capable of working similarly to the time doorway in the Lost City, and they were determined to find their way home.
    As he continued his work, Rick thought about the time he and Will could have once returned home via a pylon. Unlike other pylons, this one had no key. The only way to enter the pylon was when the three moons of the Land of the Lost lined up in a certain way. The Marshalls called this pylon the Pylon Express, because like a train, it moved from world to world, including Earth, stopping long enough to allow the passenger to get off. Rick and Will were in that pylon at the right time, but Holly was not with them, so although they could have exited at Earth, the Marshall men would not abandon Holly. So instead, Rick and Will returned to the Land of the Lost. Ironically, Holly had entered the pylon as well. But somehow, while Rick and Will were in the pylon, they could not see Holly, and vice versa. Like her father and brother, Holly did not exit at Earth when they had the chance. The Marshalls were extremely loyal to each other, so unless they could all get home together, they would remain in the Land of the Lost. After Holly exited the pylon, it closed, and the three moons that needed to align to would not do so again for several years. In the meantime, the Marshalls searched for another way home.
    Each time they discovered a new pylon, the Marshalls were hopeful it would be a pylon with a time doorway that could return them to Earth, and when Rick and Will found this new pylon, there was no exception. Rick always felt responsible for his family’s predicament because he was unable to prevent their raft from going over the waterfall. Though Rick’s training as a forest ranger made him a survival expert, and although he had trained his children well, he secretly never got over the guilt about the fate of his family. He would not stop working until he got his children home.
    So Rick, Will, and Holly experimented with the new pylon. By changing the order of the crystals on the table, they were hoping to open up a doorway to Earth. As they were working, Will and Holly stepped outside the pylon to grab a snack. Rick decided to work on the table a few more minutes before joining them.
    As Will and Holly were eating, Rick configured the table. Suddenly he looked up and right before his eyes was a doorway to Earth! Rick couldn’t believe it. Finally, after what he calculated as two years, he was going to get his children home.
    Then, disaster struck. With the doorway open, the earth began to shake. The quake threw Rick off balance. Will and Holly rushed into the pylon.
    "DAD!" Holly cried.
    "HOLD ON DAD!" shouted Will.
    But it was too late. The quake sent Rick straight for the doorway. Rick tried to move away, so he could get his children in first, but the force of the quake sent him on the path to Earth. He hoped Will and Holly could follow, but the last thing he heard was the a loud noise behind him and the cries of his children in horror.
    As he traveled through the doorway, Rick felt himself starting to spin. At first, he spun slowly, but as he fell further, he spun faster. Seconds passed, and he could no longer hear his children. Then, he stopped spinning.
    Disoriented, Rick looked up. He regained his balance and looked around. Instantly, he realized where he was. He was home. In fact, he was on a hill overlooking the same river in which he, Will, and Holly were traveling when they fell through the doorway to the Land of the Lost. His hopes that Will and Holly were right behind him were dashed immediately as they were nowhere to be seen.
    Suddenly, Rick saw that he was not alone. On the river, he could see a man in a raft similar to the one he and his family had ridden on that fateful day. The man was about Rick’s age and build, and Rick recognized him instantly. It was his brother Jack.
    "He must still be investigating what happened to us," Rick said to himself, wishing he never told Jack the route they were taking. Being so close to the waterfall endangered Jack, and Rick knew it.
    Rick’s thoughts turned to his children. "What must they be thinking now?" he thought, "They are probably just as worried as I am. They must be scared and feeling very alone. I have to get back to them."
    Rick felt his heart breaking. Leaving his children in the Land of the Lost was the last thing he wanted. Stranding them on another world was bad enough, but for him to make it home with his children still lost was a nightmare. If someone had to stay, it should have been him. Once again, he let Will and Holly down. Rick vowed to get back to his children and get them home, no matter how long it took.
    Suddenly, Rick remembered something Enik had once told him.
    The Land of the Lost is a closed universe. For some reason, in order for a human to escape to Earth, another human must enter. For three people to leave, three people had to enter. Rick thought about how he got home. He also wondered about the three people who escaped the Land of the Lost allowing his family to enter.
    Rick realized that there must be an open time doorway to the Land of the Lost. Since Rick left, another human had to enter, even if it was the same human. Rick needed to get back to his children, and decided that he would be that human. He had a sudden sense of déjà vu, though he paid it no attention. He wondered if the original doorway over the waterfall was open. Since the original trip was an accident and difficult to recreate, he decided to enlist Jack’s help. Rick and Jack always worked well together, and although he had a wife and two children of his own, Jack cared about Will and Holly like they were his son and daughter. Jack was a good engineer, and Rick hoped he could devise a way to access the time doorway without endangering any lives. Besides, if his brother was still searching after all this time, Rick knew his Jack would help. All he had to do was get Jack out of the water, and the two would formulate a plan.
    He was about to call to Jack when the earth began to shake once again. As Rick looked at the waterfall, he saw what he figured was an open time doorway. Rick regained his balance and watched in horror as he saw his brother go over the waterfall. He looked at the rocks below, and saw nothing.
    "He must have fallen through the portal," Rick said to himself, relieved that his brother was not lying dead at the bottom of the falls.
    Rick speculated that Jack probably fell to the Land of the Lost. One human left, one human entered. The portal that had enveloped Jack was closed. Rick would not be returning to the Land of the Lost anytime soon. Rick knew in his heart that Jack would find his children, and take care of them. Maybe the three of them would find a way home on their own. However, Rick would not simply wait and hope for the best. He couldn’t stand the thought of being away from his children. He knew Will and Holly were trained to survive, and he had faith that they would indeed remain alive, but somehow, he had to get them home. Again, he swore he’d never stop until he was reunited with his children, no matter how long it took. After all, Marshalls do not give up. Somehow, Rick knew he’d get back to the Land of the Lost. Somehow, he’d save his children and brother. But at that moment, Rick could only do one thing. He wept.

Chapter 2

As Jack Marshall’s yellow raft went over the waterfall, many thoughts quickly filled his head. Expecting to be dead in a matter of seconds, he prayed that his family would be alright. Suddenly, he wondered why he hadn’t hit the rocks at the bottom of the waterfalls. He felt strange, as if he was swallowed up, and was now floating through space. "I must be dead," he thought. But he wasn’t.
    Jack figured that he was suffering a fate similar to that of his brother’s family. He recalled that on the day when Rick, Will, and Holly disappeared, there was also an earthquake. He knew the route his brother’s family took, so he began his search near the waterfalls. Although the waterfall was not easily accessible from the river, Jack speculated that the quake may have sent the raft out of control, over the falls. But since he never found any bodies at the bottom of the waterfalls, he assumed they met some other fate. He decided that no matter how long it took, he would re-trace his missing relatives’ route, step-by-step, until he found what happened. Unfortunately for Jack, he was about to get his wish. The strange floating feeling began to wear off, and the next thing Jack knew, his raft came to rest at the edge of some sort of lagoon. Exhausted, Jack fell asleep.

* * * *

Will and Holly Marshall watched in horror as they saw their father disappear in the pylon. In the blink of an eye, they were alone in the Land of the Lost. Will saw that Holly was visibly upset, and tried to comfort her. He reminded her that their father knew where they were, and would never stop until they were safe at home. Holly saw Will’s point, and took comfort in the thought that her father was home, working on their rescue. Still, she missed him. Will and Holly decided to return to High Bluff to regroup.
    On their way back to the cave, Will and Holly encountered Chaka, a Neanderthal-like child who was a native of the Land of the Lost. The Marshalls had saved his life shortly after arriving in the Land, and he became one of the few friendly beings they encountered. Chaka was a member of species called the Pakuni. He taught the Marshalls some of his language, and the Marshalls in turn taught Chaka to speak English. In time, the Marshalls and Chaka became friends.
    The quake that sent Rick Marshall home was not very kind to Chaka either. Ta and Sa, two other Pakuni, disappeared as a result of the quake. Chaka found himself alone and upset, when he came in contact with Will and Holly.
    The Marshall children told Chaka that he could stay with them, which made Chaka very happy. So the Marshalls and Chaka returned to High Bluff to figure out their next move. Unfortunately, to Will’s and Holly’s dismay, the quake had also destroyed the cave, leaving them without a home, without their father, and without supplies.
    Once again, Holly cried, but her tears quickly turned to curiosity as she saw a yellow streak in the sky. Excited, Holly figured that Rick had returned to them. Will, Holly, and Chaka investigated, and made two interesting discoveries. First, they noticed a fire breathing, two headed, monster in the swamp. Holly named the monster Lulu. The trio observed that Lulu had difficulty seeing them. Will theorized that the monster’s vision was meant to be used underwater, and things were probably not as clear above the surface.
    Second, Will saw a raft. Excited, he told his sister that the raft was the same type that they had used when they arrived in the Land of the Lost. They ran toward the raft, and discovered their Uncle Jack, still asleep from his journey.
    Jack awoke and saw Holly and Will, and was happy that he had finally found his brother’s children. But his happiness quickly turned to concern when he realized his brother was not with his niece and nephew. As Will and Holly filled him in on where he was, and what had happened, all three Marshalls experienced mixed emotions. Jack was happy his brother made it home, but sad that he did not get the chance to see him. Will and Holly were sad that their uncle was stuck in the Land of the Lost, but happy that he was with them.
    The first order of business was to find a new home. Shortly before the quake that claimed their father, the Marshalls discovered a temple near the Lost City. They were unable to open the door to one building of the temple. In searching for a home, the Marshalls went to the temple. The quake had somehow loosened the door, so Jack was able to open it. Using his skills as an engineer, Jack was able to fix the door, so the Marshalls would have easy access. The Marshalls found a new home.
    Still, the home was not without its costs. Since the temple was located near the Lost City, the Sleestak were never far behind. In general, the Sleestak could not speak English. The Marshalls had encountered only three Sleestak with whom they could communicate. One was Enik. The second Sleestak who spoke English was S’latch. S’latch was a genetic throwback to Enik’s time, and he was born with the intelligence of his Altrusian ancestors. Rick Marshall encountered him one time when the Sleestak threw him into the Sleestak pit, a giant hole in the Lost City. Inside the pit was the Sleestak god, a creature whom none had seen, but is capable of devouring human sacrifices. The Sleestak had intended Rick to be one of those sacrifices, and because the other Sleestak feared his intelligence, S’latch was also thrown into the pit. After a brief conversation, Rick and S’latch worked together to escape. The Marshalls have not seen S’latch since.
    The third Sleestak that could speak was the Sleestak leader. He was able to communicate with the Marshalls, and gained advice in the Library of Skulls. The Library of Skulls was deep inside the Lost City, and contained numerous Altrusian skulls, which spoke and could answer the Sleestak leader’s questions. Unfortunately for the Marshalls, the skulls usually blamed the humans for the Sleestak’s problems, and that further increased hostilities.
    The Sleestak leader was not happy about the Marshalls arrival at the temple, and tried several times to evict them. He never succeeded.
    Once they had a home base, the Marshalls resumed their quest to return home. They learned that other humans existed in the Land of the Lost, from various periods in Earth history. Apparently people can come to the Land of the Lost from all different times. The Marshalls met people from the 1920s, the 1800s, and even a Viking. As Jack learned how things in the Land of the Lost worked, he figured that time doorways existed all over the Land, to various times in Earth history, and somehow, he’d find one. Even if the Marshalls arrived at Earth at a different time, at least they’d be away from the dangers of the Land of the Lost. Jack also had faint hopes that Rick would help, but he would not count on him. Somehow, the Marshalls would get home.

Chapter 3

    After Rick saw his brother’s accident, he was not sure what to do next. He decided to check on his California home, since it clearly had been abandoned during his time in the Land of the Lost. How long had it been since he sat on a normal chair, drove a car, or watched TV? Due to their resourcefulness, Rick and his children were able to construct various conveniences out of the bamboo and wood that was so abundant in the Land of the Lost, such as a cart with wheels, and even a system to bring fresh water directly to High Bluff. Still, thoughts of appreciation of being back in civilization filled Rick’s head as he made his way to his home.
    When Rick arrived home, he realized that he no longer had his keys. After all, his cave in the Land of the Lost did not exactly require a lock. But he jarred the door open, and to his delight, his home was just as he left it. "Jack’s family must have taken care of everything," he thought. He looked around and fondly remembered the times before the accident. The Marshall family had always been close, especially after the death of Rick’s wife when Holly was seven. He missed his wife terribly, though he always maintained a strong appearance for Will and Holly.
    Rick re-familiarized himself with his home. He smiled when he saw Will’s baseball and football trophies, and reminisced about a no-hitter Will had pitched in high school. He walked into Holly’s room and saw her favorite stuffed animals. "Amazing how much she’s grown," thought Rick, saddened at the thought of his daughter playing with baby brontosaurus’ instead of teddy bears and dolls.
    Rick saw a family picture hanging on the wall, reminding him of how his children always asked him to take them on his expeditions. Rick liked to have his children with him, and showed them various camping and survival techniques that come with being a forest ranger. Rick’s job required him once a week to patrol an area near along the Colorado River near where he worked. It was on one of those routine patrols that the earthquake hit that sent his family to the Land of the Lost.
    Rick decided it was time to see Jack’s family. If he was going to work out a plan to save Will and Holly, they were probably the only people who could help. After all, who would believe that he spent all this time in some place with three moons, dinosaurs, and giant lizard like humanoids? "They’ll lock me up," Rick thought. Thus, he resolved to tell the world that he had been away with Will and Holly in Europe, and while he came home, they stayed there to go to boarding school. The only people he could trust with the truth were Jack’s family.
    Rick went into his bedroom, found a spare wallet, and filled it with various pictures and money, thankful that everything was where he left it. Then, he began the trip to Jack’s house.

* * * *

    Jennifer Marshall was wondering what was taking her husband Jack so long to come home. She hated when he would come home late searching for Rick and his family, but she understood. She too secretly hoped that they were all still alive somewhere. But they had been gone for six months, and even she was starting to lose hope. The day’s earthquake added to her worry. She remembered that there was a big earthquake on the day Rick, Will, and Holly disappeared. The thought did not comfort her, as she felt that something was wrong.
    Outside the house, Bobby Marshall was washing his car. Bobby was a year older than Will, and occasionally went with his father to search for his uncle and cousins. He passed today, because he wanted to play in a pickup basketball game with his friends. Standing next to Bobby was his sister Kathy. Kathy was Holly’s age, and Bobby paid her a dollar to help wash his car, a beat-up 1969 Dodge Charger.
    "What time is Dad coming back?" asked Kathy.
    "He should be back soon. He said he’d be back by dinner," said Bobby.
    "What about the earthquake?"
    "Earthquake? You call that an earthquake? I barely noticed it. Are you sure you’re from California?" joked Bobby.
    "Bobby, I’m serious."
    "So am I. That earthquake was not bad. Dad knows what he’s doing. He’s fine."
    Kathy changed the subject. "Do you think he will ever find Uncle Rick, Will and Holly?"
    "Well, they’ve been gone for six months, so it seems unlikely."
    "You think they’re dead?"
    Bobby stopped what he was doing, and walked over to his sister. "Kathy, I hope not. I hope that there’s a good explanation for why they’re gone. But people just don’t disappear, especially Uncle Rick. They never found them, so they could be alive, but at this point, I wonder."
    Kathy was upset at her brother’s candid comments. She knew that he was probably right, but she still missed playing with Holly. Will and Holly were like siblings to Kathy and Bobby. She turned to Bobby and asked, "then why is Dad still looking for them?"
    "Dad cares about Uncle Rick, Will and Holly as much as we do. Until he knows exactly what happens, he won’t give up. Remember, Marshalls don’t quit."
    Bobby’s words made Kathy feel better, but she was still visibly sad. Bobby then said, "Hey. If anyone can be missing this long and survive, it’s Uncle Rick. And believe me, if he’s alive, you can bet so are Will and Holly. And don’t forget, if anyone can find them, it’s Dad." Kathy couldn’t help by smile. She continued to hope.
    As if on cue, Bobby got the shock of his life as his Uncle Rick came walking up the street.

Chapter 4

Once the initial surprise of seeing Rick Marshall walk through the door wore off, Jennifer, Bobby, and Kathy listened to his story. He told them of how the earthquake sent them over the waterfall, and into the Land of the Lost. He told them of the dinosaurs, the cave, the Lost City, and the Sleestak. He told them of the Pakuni, the crystals, and the pylons. Finally, he told them of the accident that sent him home, and what he believed to be Jack’s fate. As Jennifer Marshall listened to Rick tell his story, she was visibly upset. "Are we really supposed to believe that you were trapped in some other world, and that Jack took your place?"
    Rick looked at her and replied, "Jen, I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. Will and Holly are there right now, and I believe that Jack is there too." Jennifer did not look convinced, though Rick’s sudden return after six months certainly gave her a margin of hope. If Jack truly went where Rick was, and Rick returned, then Jack could come back as well.
    "Does that mean we’ll never see Daddy again?" Kathy asked.
    Rick turned to her. "Not if I can help it honey. Your father is there because he wouldn’t give up on me and my family. It’s my fault they are all there, and I won’t stop until they are all home where they belong." Rick’s confidence reassured Kathy.
    "Why can’t we just take a raft and go over the waterfall?" asked Bobby.
    "I don’t think that will work. Watching what happened to your father gave me a new perspective on what happened to Will, Holly, and I. Somehow, we went through some sort of portal. Just before the quake, there was no portal. The quake hit, the portal opened, Jack fell through, disappeared, and the portal closed. If we take a raft and go over the fall, we will probably be killed."
    "Then how can we help them?" asked Jennifer.
    "That’s the problem. I’m not sure. We know there’s a way in to the Land of the Lost. We also know that there’s a way out. I’m proof of that. Enik, the good Sleestak I told you about, told us that in order for three humans to go home, three have to come in. When I got out, Jack took my place."
    "We have to get them out." said Jennifer, visibly upset.
    "We will. It’s just a question of when. And how." Rick replied. "We also have to be concerned about a time factor."
    "What do you mean?" asked Jennifer.
    "That Land of the Lost is a strange place, where things that seem impossible, are possible. The laws of nature don’t seem to work the same there. I tried to keep track of how long we were gone, and I calculated about two years. Then, I got back home, and only six months had passed. This can mean one of two things: either time moves faster in the Land of the Lost, or the doorway that I opened simply placed me six months from when I left. I think it could be the latter of the two," said Rick. Jack’s family looked confused.
    "How can you be sure Uncle Rick?" Bobby asked.
    "At times, it seemed that Will, Holly, and I were the only people in the Land of the Lost. But Will was once experimenting with a pylon, and opened a doorway to Earth. As good as that sounded, the doorway was in the sky, and it brought a skydiver from our future into the Land of the Lost. We were there, and he was there, different people, from different times, in the same place. The doorway was opened over the Earth’s sky, so he couldn’t help us get home, but we got him to a mountain high enough to get to the doorway, and we believe he made it. But the point is, it’s possible for people from different times to end up in the Land of the Lost at the same time as people from our time. If that is possible, then it makes sense that people in the Land of the Lost can end up in different periods of Earth history.
    "This also explains how we also met a Confederate soldier. People have been falling through these time doorways for centuries. We even once found journals from a soldier in General Washington’s army." Rick saw the look on Kathy’s face, and turned to her. "Getting out is possible. If I can do it, they can do it."
    Jennifer asked Rick a question. "If people can return to Earth at different points in history, then how do we know that Jack, Will, and Holly haven’t already come home in another time? For all we know, they could be in the 19th century, or in the 23rd."
    "You’re right Jen, we don’t know," said Rick. "But I’m not willing to simply ignore the problem. Jack didn’t ignore me. Until I know that Will, Holly, and Jack are out of that world, I have to try to get back. I just need to figure out a way."
    Rick, Bobby, Jennifer, and Kathy continued to talk, and while they sat thinking of ways to help their relatives, they didn’t notice the woman watching them from the outside.

Chapter 5

Jack Marshall missed his family. To the best of his knowledge, about a decade had passed since he was first stranded in the Land of the Lost. By now, he thought, Kathy and Bobby would be grown, and Jennifer would have probably stopped wondering what had happened and moved on. The thought saddened him, though he knew that his family would be all right, and still hoped to return to them.
    Jack, Will, and Holly had tried for years to get home. They often visited Enik’s time doorway chamber in the Lost City, but had never been able to find the proper combination to Earth.
    They had come close a couple of times. Once, Will and Holly found a key to a pylon that controlled the flow of time in the Land of the Lost. Once inside that pylon, Jack had figured that they could travel back to the point where he first entered the Land of the Lost, and somehow go through the still open doorway home. However, just as Jack was about to step into the pylon, Torchy, a fire breathing beast, singed the key to the door, rendering the pylon useless.
    Will once told Jack that just before he arrived in the Land of the Lost, he and Rick found a cave that they thought might be instrumental in getting them home. One day, a transparent figure, that looked like Holly, came to the Marshalls for help. To speak to the Marshalls, she "possessed" Holly, and told Rick and Will that she needed them to help he father and brother. With the figure’s guidance, Holly was able to lead the Marshalls to their counterparts. The ‘other’ Holly had warned Rick and Will not to touch her father and brother, because for some reason, the touch would kill them. Rick theorized that these other Marshalls were probably from an antimatter universe. Once inside the cave, Rick and Will heard the sound of a car horn, which led them to believe that they were near a time doorway to Earth. They found duplicates of themselves trapped in a wall, barely able to move. Next to their duplicates, a crystal table with three missing crystals was suspended in the wall as well. Rick and Will placed the crystals in the table, and the alternate Marshalls were saved. Shortly thereafter, Rick was gone.
    Upon hearing the story, Jack disagreed with Rick’s assessment that these people were antimatter. Jack theorized that if they were antimatter, the ‘other’ Holly would not have been able to exist in their Land of the Lost. If matter and anti-matter touch, a big explosion would occur, and that did not happen. Additionally, Will told Jack that once in the cave, the ‘other’ Rick was holding one of the missing crystals, which Will took out of his hand to free the Marshall counterparts. Thus, Jack concluded that these people were not anti-matter, but rather, from some kind of mirror universe, where things were similar, but not identical.
    Jack, Will, and Holly once returned to that cave to investigate the potential to follow the ‘other’ Marshalls. They discovered that the quakes that shook the Land of the Lost during the time Jack arrived also damaged the cave. Still, they were able to enter and investigate. Unfortunately, they were unable to find a time doorway. The crystal table that Will and Rick used was still there, but as far as they could see, even if they found the right combination to Earth, there was no gateway. Jack thought perhaps it was behind a wall, damaged by the quakes.
    Even the Pylon Express was unavailable. Four years after Jack arrived, the moons were aligned properly so that the pylon that could lead them home would open. The Marshalls had every intention of being there, but once again, fate prevented their escape. The Sleestak Leader had consulted the Library of Skulls, which erroneously warned them that if the Marshalls were to enter the pylon, they would return with an invasion force of humans that would destroy the Sleestak. So the Sleestak attacked the Marshalls, and once again attempted to sacrifice them to their god in the pit. They captured both Will and Chaka, and Jack and Holly had to rescue them. By the time everyone was safe, the pylon was closed. Will was upset that Jack and Holly did not just go home, but Jack told him, "either all of us go, or none of us go."
    Time passed. Years passed. The moons aligned again, but unfortunately for the Marshalls, access to the Pylon Express was cut off. The Marshalls were separated from the pylon by a rock bridge. Their temple and the Lost City were on one side, and High Bluff and the Pylon Express were on the other side. For years, the Marshalls used that bridge to travel from place to place in the Land of the Lost. However, still fearing human invasion if the Marshalls were to return home, in between moon alignments, the Sleestak destroyed the bridge thereby preventing the Marshalls from getting to the Pylon Express. They simply didn’t have the tools to build a new bridge.
    So more time went by, and though they still searched for the way home, the Marshalls tried to make a life for themselves in the Land of the Lost. Will and Holly got older. Will did not change very much physically, but Holly did. She was now an adult, and she had long outgrown the red plaid shirt and brown pants she had been wearing when she entered the Land of the Lost. Luckily, she was resourceful, and was able to use some fabric Jack had brought to tailor her clothes.
    Jack thought it was amazing how well they had survived to date. Will and Holly had been in the Land of the Lost almost twelve years, and Jack ten, and despite the dangers of the Sleestak, the dinosaurs, and other mysteries that they faced, they were still alive and healthy. Not everyone they had encountered was so lucky. Malak, a Viking from the 11th century that they had encountered, fell victim to Grumpy. The Confederate soldier that Rick, Will, and Holly met shortly after arriving in the Land of the Lost was turned to stone by a Medusa. Medusas were creatures like those found in Greek mythology. If any animal looks at the Medusa, that animal is turned to stone. Jack had outsmarted the Medusa and tricked her into looking at herself in a mirror. She turned to stone, and the Marshalls never encountered another one. Jack always said that the fact that the Marshalls had survived so long said a lot about their fortitude, as well as Rick’s teachings.

* * * *

By his own estimates, Will Marshall figured he was about twenty nine years old. However, with all the stress of living in the Land of the Lost, he felt a lot older. Will missed his father, and thoughts of home rarely left his mind. He wondered what his father was doing and how he adjusted to returning to Earth. He felt bad that Rick had not returned. Will was not disappointed in Rick, because he knew in his heart his father would return if he could, but he felt anguish at the thought of his father living with the guilt of the Marshalls’ fate. He never blamed Rick, but he felt for him. Will worked constantly with his uncle and his now twenty three year old sister to get home. The problem was that lately, there were no new opportunities.
    In the twelve plus years Will had been in the Land of the Lost, he could kick himself over the blown chances. If only he could have had Enik explain to him the inner workings of the Lost City. Enik had disappeared several years earlier. Presumably, he returned to his own time, but the Marshalls would never know. To this day, Will was certain that the way home was through the Lost City. If only the Marshalls could figure out how to align the crystals on the table to open a doorway to Earth, and if only the Sleestak didn’t prevent so many attempts, things might be different.
    As he returned back to the temple from a routine food gathering, Will saw Holly and Chaka talking near the temple in which they lived. Both were children when the Marshalls’ adventure in the Land of the Lost began. But now, both were full grown. Chaka had been with them a long time, and as far as Jack, Will, and Holly were concerned, Chaka WAS a Marshall. Of course, should the opportunity arise, and should the Marshalls find a chance to go home, Will knew that Chaka would remain in the Land of the Lost. He would be as out of place on Earth as the Marshalls are in the Land of the Lost. Will could only imagine.
    Will went inside the temple to find his uncle preparing a special dessert. Today was Holly’s birthday. Will smiled at Jack, secretly happy that Holly wasn’t doing the cooking, the one thing that hasn’t improved with time, and the two of them walked outside to meet Chaka and Holly.
    "Happy Birthday Holly," Jack said as he presented a cake. In reality, the cake was made of oversized fruits and plants found in the Land of the Lost. Will looked at the cake and remembered the days when he took chocolate for granted.
    "That sure looks good," said Will. "But then again, anything’s better than Holly’s smilax cakes," he playfully jabbed at his sister.
    "Will Marshall, one more word out of you and you won’t be eating anything, if you know what I mean" Holly retorted, shaking a fist at her brother. Despite the many mysteries of the Land of the Lost, the one constant would be Will and Holly bickering at each other. It was all in fun, as the siblings were really close.
    Jack of course, couldn’t resist getting into the game. "Listen you two, one more crack, and this cake will be shared by Chaka and I."
    "Cake good," Chaka said.
    Will and Holly stopped bickering, and soon all were laughing. Holly smiled at her uncle, thanking him for the cake. She wasn’t sure if it really was her birthday, since they had no Earth calendar. However, several years earlier, her uncle and brother, for lack of a better guess, designated this day as her birthday. They had celebrated it ever since.
    Twelve years. Will could not believe how much his sister had grown. Holly was no longer a dependent child constantly clinging to her father. Will figured losing Rick changed Holly. Although she loved Uncle Jack, it just was not the same. She learned to be quite independent, and Will took solace in the fact that if anything ever happened to Will or Jack, she and Chaka would be able to survive.
    Jack had put primitive candles that he had made himself on the cake. "Well, I think it’s time you made a wish," he said.
    Holly blew out the candles. "Somehow I think you know what I wished for," she said.
    Will and Jack didn’t need to say a word. They knew. Holly had wished for the same thing for the last twelve years. Will and Jack had the same wish. The Marshalls wanted to go home.
    It was at that point, the ground began to shake.

Chapter 6

    "INTERFERENCE WITH THE NATURAL COURSE OF EVENTS IS FORBIDDEN. YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO ALTER THE COURSE OF HISTORY."
    The blonde woman recited these words to herself. She had heard them for years, and up until now, she had accepted them to a point. Her adventures had led her to understand the workings of the time doorways of the Land of the Lost, but the knowledge had not come without a price. She was robbed of her childhood, and had to endure the loss of her family. She had spent what felt like an eternity alone before being recruited by the Monitors, a group of beings that originated on Earth far in her future. At some point in Earth’s future, the doorways that led to the Land of the Lost were discovered. In time, the Monitors came to understand the technology, and soon mastered it. They had full knowledge of the workings of the time doorways, and had a full record of the historical events that led to the evolution of the Land of the Lost. Few knew of their existence, though in time, they expanded to intelligent races other than humans. Recruitment was very selective, as they only chose intelligent people with little or no future who had the capability of understanding what they did.
    Although they had the ability to alter the time line, the Monitors prohibited interference in the lives of living beings. Yet, like all rules, there were exceptions. On more than one occasion, the Monitors acted to prevent the total destruction of the Land of the Lost. However, they were not allowed to interfere with any of the creatures there. For example, they knew of the Marshalls, but they would not help them home, although they could. They feared that doing so might affect their existence, so the Marshalls, as well as any other human that entered the Land of the Lost, were on their own.
    Still, the Monitors were not without heart. They had watched the blonde woman grow up, and saw all the pain of her life. They looked into her future, and saw that in due time, she would succumb to the dangers of her environment. They realized that she could not affect the future, since she had none. So when they felt the timing was right, they recruited her.
    At first she was apprehensive. She was still depressed over the recent loss of her family, who disappeared and left her all alone. But in time, she realized that she finally had an opportunity to do something with her life. So she went with the Monitors. She figured that perhaps she could even change things. But for the time being, she kept that plan to herself.
    As time passed, she too became quite knowledgeable about the workings of the time doorways. She was able to travel to the past and present, on both Earth and the Land of the Lost. Every once in awhile, she took comfort in seeing her family, as they once were. In fact, she once confronted her past self, and gave the younger version the courage to save her brother’s life. And while that event comforted her somewhat, the knowledge of things to come bothered her. She never fully recovered from the sudden disappearance of her family, and for some reason, the Monitors always prevented her from learning exactly what happened to them. The only exception involved her father, whom she was allowed to observe from time to time.
    She stepped through the time doorway to Earth, just in time to see Rick Marshall discussing his adventures in the Land of the Lost with Jack’s family. Seeing Rick Marshall made the blonde woman smile. But then again, Rick always had that effect on Holly.

Chapter 7

    When she previously encountered her past self in the Land of the Lost, the elder Holly called herself Rani, a secret name she used as a child. She did not want to tell her younger self who she was, because her only goal was to give the child the courage to save Will, who at the time was trapped in the Sleestak pit. She figured that things would be less complicated if her identity remained secret. Besides, when she was a child, she remembered when the incident happened to her, and she wanted to make sure things turned out the same. The child eventually figured out who Rani was on her own, but elder Holly avoided being questioned by her father and brother. The thought of actually talking with her father brought back sad memories of his accident in the pylon. She knew he made it home, but she missed him, and the Monitors frowned upon the idea of direct contact.
    The elder Holly soon departed, but decided that if she ever was able to have a future encounter with her family, she would keep her identity secret. The name Rani would suffice.
    The Monitors were not happy with Rani’s interference in her past life. However, they knew that Holly was supposed to save Will, so history was not altered. Her biggest "crime" was giving the Marshalls three Monitor pendants. Each Marshall would wear a pendant. Each pendant picked up the heartbeats of all three Marshalls, and were able transmit signals to each other. The Marshalls could visibly track each other. Because of Rani’s actions, the Monitors forbade her from visiting her family again. However, at least one of the Monitors knew that she would not listen.
    At the time of her encounter with young Holly, the Monitors had only taught Rani how to work the doorways to the Land of the Lost. Although Rani told Holly that her presence meant that she had a chance to return to Earth, in truth, the Monitors had not given her access as of that time. But quite some time has passed since then, and Rani learned more about manipulating the technology. Although it had been a long time since she’d seen her family, Rani was still a Marshall, and at the first opportunity, she would help.
    The first time Rani found the time doorway unguarded, she set the controls for Earth, 1974, California. It was her first trip to Earth since she was a child, and she arrived shortly after Rick had returned home. She knew her father was a smart man, but he was dealing with an unknown. Somehow, she would show him the way back to the Land of the Lost. She had to be careful though. If Rick somehow returned and saved the Marshalls too soon, the time line could be changed, preventing the encounter with Rick, and thus, causing a paradox. Rani needed to save her family, without preventing the events that put her in the position to help. Thus, since time was her ally, she decided first to observe Rick’s actions at different time periods to determine the best point to confront him.

Chapter 8

    Two years had passed since Rick Marshall returned home. Although he wanted to rebuild his life, the thoughts of his family in the Land of the Lost haunted him. Although the circumstances that led to his return were not within his control, Rick still felt guilty that he was home while Will, Holly, and probably Jack remained in danger. At times, this guilt was unbearable. It was his idea to bring Will and Holly along on the original raft trip. Jack disappeared while searching for him. These thoughts fueled Rick in his quest to return to the Land of the Lost. Plus, he would never give up on his family. It was not in his nature.
    In the time since he returned home, Rick familiarized himself with every inch of the area of the waterfall. However, he never was able to find any evidence of the time doorway. Jack’s family helped when they could, but Jennifer did her best to make sure Bobby and Kathy each had as normal a life as possible. They told the world that Jack was off on some long term engineering project abroad. They wanted to believe in Rick. They wanted to believe that somehow, Jack survived, but all they had was Rick’s word.
    Rick never gave up, but he was growing more frustrated in his inability to trigger a doorway. As far as he knew, the only time the doorway opened was during an earthquake, and the area surrounding the waterfall had not seen so much as a tremor since Jack’s disappearance.
    Rick sat down on a log overlooking the waterfall, and put his head down.
    "You’ll never be able to help Will, Holly and Jack by sitting around."
    Rick looked up and saw a blonde woman talking to him. He had no clue how she got there. "Who are you?"
    "A friend. You can call me Rani."
    Somehow, Rani looked very familiar to Rick, a bit like his late wife. Ignoring the resemblance, Rick realized that this woman knew something about Will and Holly, and he was determined to find out what it was she knew. "What do you know about my children?" he asked.
    "And your brother Jack. I can tell you that they are still alive, and that I can help you."
    "How? Who are you?"
    "I told you. I am Rani. I am a Monitor." She smiled.
    "What the heck is a Monitor?" Rick asked.
    "Just as the name sounds, we monitor the cosmos. We have the capability to travel space and time, and we observe various historical events." Rani knew her father well enough to know that he would not merely take her at her word. Therefore, she took a device out of her pocket as proof. It was a pendant, with a long chain, and a ruby-like stone in the center. She showed it to Rick.
    "These are like the pendants Holly gave me," Rick said. "Somehow, by looking at the pendant Will, Holly, and I could see each other. Holly said a lady came out of the time doorway and gave them to her. Are you that lady?"
    Rani nodded.
    Something about this woman made Rick start to trust her. He still had trouble placing her, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that she was on his side. Rick said, "My pendant hasn’t worked since I returned home."
    "These pendants can pick up Will and Holly over distances, but not worlds. If you need further proof that I can help, look at the pendant now."
    Rick looked down, and was amazed at what he saw. Somehow, this pendant was displaying the original accident that sent Rick and his family into the Land of the Lost. "Can this pendant take me to Will, Holly, and Jack?"
    Rani smiled. "No. I’m just here to let you know they are all-right."
    "You mean you won’t help me?"
    "I am forbidden from interfering."
    "You sound like Enik." Rick complained.
    Rani betrayed nothing. But Rick was not about to accept her silence. He had numerous discussions with Enik on similar topics, and felt he knew how to deal with people like this Rani. He continued, "Don’t you realize that the mere fact that you are here is interference? You are here for a reason, and it’s not just to tell me my family is ok. Please. I need to get back to them."
    Rani hesitated, torn between her love for her father and her duty to the Monitors. She had the power to get her Will and Jack home, but doing so would violate the most fundamental of Monitor principles. Yet, she knew when she made contact with Rick, she would be put in this position, and in the back of her mind, welcomed it. She wanted to tell Rick everything, but if Rick knew her identity, he would know that if her younger self was returned home, it would create a paradox. Her existence would be terminated. Without Rani becoming a Monitor, she could not help Rick get back to the Land of the Lost, which means that the time line that created her would necessarily have to exist.
    Rani remembered how shortly after becoming a Monitor, she learned that she was already a part of a paradox. Although she had no direct memory of the event, apparently, when the Marshalls first entered the Land of the Lost, a problem occurred. Two events somehow played out. Her family fell onto the rocks below the waterfalls, and her family fell into the Land of the Lost. They were dead, and they were alive. As a result, the time doorway in the Lost City would only focus on the Marshalls’ entrance into the Land of the Lost. Similar to the current scenario, when Rick asked Enik to help, he replied that he couldn’t due to an Altrusian code that prevented Enik’s interference. But Rick did figure out a solution. He was able to get around a noninterference rule. As a result, Rick thought to create a situation where the Marshalls stepped through the time doorway, thinking they were going home, while an alternate Rick, Will, and Holly arrived in the Land of the Lost. However, in reality, Enik tricked them. When the Marshalls stepped through the time doorway, they merged with their counterparts, and relived everything that had happened to them up to that point, minus the paradox. Enik had justified the treachery to himself by deciding that it was the more logical solution than arranging events so that the Marshalls died, especially since Rick’s plan would not have worked. Rather than further walking the gray line of violating his people’s code, Enik opted for an alternate solution, which he implemented.
    Rani did not completely understand exactly how these temporal lines worked, though the story did explain the constant feelings of déjà vu that she and her family experienced during her first few months in the Land of the Lost. Still, the bottom line was that Rick had once figured out a way around a noninterference rule. If he could do so in this time line, not only would she help him, she would not trick him like Enik did. The key was to figure out a way to avoid a paradox. Then, to her delight, Rick asked the question she hoped he’d ask.
    "If you can’t interfere with the course of events, can you tell me what to do, so I can return to the Land of the Lost and save Will, Holly, and Jack?"
    Containing her smile, and implicating a plan she had thought of for years, she said, "Well done Da....I mean Rick. I suppose there is no rule that forbids me from giving you the means to return to the Land of the Lost, but there is a price."
    "What price?" Rick asked suspiciously, not noticing Rani’s near slip.
    "When the time comes, you’ll know, but in the mean time, I suggest you get what you need. You’re going back to the Land of the Lost."
    Rick hoped the price this woman spoke about was not too harsh, but he was willing to do anything to save his family, even give his life, if necessary. So Rick did what he had to do. His first thought was to get Bobby, Jennifer, and Kathy, but he decided not to risk putting them in danger. He felt he had done enough damage to his family, and since he knew they would object, he did not tell Jack’s family what happened. With any luck, he would have a nice surprise for them soon. So he went home, packed up a few survival supplies, met up with Rani, and proceeded on to his next adventure.

Chapter 9

    Rick quickly went home, and expertly packed a bag of supplies that he knew would come in handy in the Land of the Lost. "Amazing," Rick thought to himself, "here I am, about to return to the most dangerous place I have ever been, with only the amount of equipment I can carry, with a strong possibility of never returning, and I am actually looking forward to it." He was. Rick Marshall was about to see his family again.
    Rick returned wearing a backpack with various survival equipment. If Rick had his way, he’d bring a tank, but Rani had told him that he could only bring what he could carry. Rick arrived at the spot where he had last saw Rani. At first, Rick wondered if his conversation with her was a dream, but he was relieved when he saw her appear from what seemed like nowhere.
    "Ready?" she asked.
    "I’ve been ready for over two years."
    "Well, let me warn you that things may not exactly be what you expect. Remember, it’s been awhile since you’ve seen your children and brother."
    But Rick didn’t care. His desire to return to the Land of the Lost was an obsession. "As long as they’re alive, and I can get them home, a few changes are not that important."
    Rani looked at him, and said, "very well, here we go. I want you to look at your pendant, and concentrate on your destination."
    Rick did as told. He thought of nothing but Will and Holly. Rani then took out two crystals, a white one and a gold one. Rick had never seen a gold crystal before. Yellow yes, but gold, never. Suddenly Rick was surrounded by a mist, reminiscent of the time doorways in the Lost City. He felt himself spinning, and the next thing he knew, he was standing in a pylon, and the ground was shaking.
    The tremor soon stopped, and as Rick looked around inside the pylon, he noticed that the diamond shaped door was open. He instantly knew where he was. It was the exact same pylon that Rick was in when he was sent home. Somehow, Rani returned him to the same spot. He noticed that the crystal table had fallen, confirming the sound he heard just before he went through the portal, and figured that the fallen table was the reason Will and Holly had never followed him. He would have to find another way home. Still, the idea of being in the same spot made Rick think that perhaps he wasn’t gone that long in Land of the Lost time. After all, Rani was capable of moving through both time AND space, and perhaps she was able to turn back the clock. "I bet it’s only been a few moments since I’ve left Will and Holly," he said to himself.
    Rick then stepped outside the pylon hoping to find Will, Holly, and possibly Jack waiting for him. They were not there. He looked around to get his bearings.
    Rick figured that the best place to find his family was the cave. He smiled as he pictured the look on their faces upon his return. For the first time in a long time, Rick Marshall was excited.
    But the excitement soon turned to horror when Rick arrived at High Bluff. Somehow, the cave entrance was covered by a huge bolder. Thinking somehow his family was inside, Rick ran up to the cave and desperately started digging. Was this some sort of cruel joke by the people who ran the Land of the Lost? Was Rani all part of a plan to get him back here? Why? Rick was beginning to panic. He began to dig with a pickax he brought, but was making little progress. But he did make enough of a dent in the cave to see inside. He could see that the Marshalls’ equipment was covered in dust, but there were no bodies in there. The cave looked exactly as he remembered, except for the dust. Rick realized that whatever happened, it happened shortly after he left, but enough time had passed to cover the equipment with dust. There was no sign of human activity anywhere. Whatever happened, no one was around, and it happened a long time ago.
    Rick then thought of what Will and Holly might do finding themselves without a home and without him. Rick had always prepared them for his possible death. He was confident that Will could take care of his sister, but he never thought that the cave would be destroyed.
    As far as Rick was concerned, there was only one place Will and Holly would go --the Lost City. It was the ideal location. There was an enclosed building, and it was near the time doorway. Of course, it didn’t take Rick long to remember the Sleestak. Still, Rick would risk taking on 1000 Sleestak if it meant helping his family. But he figured that if Will and Holly moved there, it would be too dangerous. Suddenly he remembered the temple near the Lost City. Shortly before Rick went home, they found this mysterious temple. If somehow they managed to get inside again, it might make a perfect home. Rick realized that there could be other possible places to find his family, but he figured the area near the Lost City was the best place to start.
    So Rick began his trip toward the Lost City. As a forest ranger, Rick was very good at navigating his way through strange lands. Two years on Earth did not make him forget how to get to the Lost City. At this point, it was near nightfall. Rick looked up at the night sky, and instantly realized that some time had indeed passed. The triple moons of the Land of the Lost were lined up with the smallest moon in the middle. The sight of the moons reminded Rick about the Pylon Express. Since the moons only lined up once every few years, Rick realized that it had been at least two years since he left. That made sense to him, since two years had passed on Earth.
    Rick thought about the timing some more, and figured that Rani must have chosen this period so he could bring his family home through the pylon. He appreciated the thought, and silently chastised himself for ever thinking she was anything but a friend. The Pylon Express would be active once a day, for three days. All he had to do is catch one of those rides. If this happened, he could get his family home. If not, he would be stranded once again.
    There was only one way to the Lost City -- the stone bridge. To Rick’s dismay, he found that the bridge had collapsed. Somehow, he had to cross. Since the bridge was gone, a new one would have to be built. He prayed that Grumpy was not around. Luckily, he wasn’t.
    So Rick went back to the forest, and went to work. He spent the better part of the night building a wagon, and chopping down a tree big enough to cross the twenty foot crevice. In the end, the bridge was crude, but it worked. By early morning, Rick was able to cross the crevasse and resume his way to the Lost City. More importantly, he had a way back, so they could catch the Pylon Express. Rick figured that his family never built a bridge of their own because they lacked the equipment. Most of the Marshalls’ equipment was in the cave, and the files, saw, axe, and rope that Rick brought to build the bridge were probably not in Jack’s bag. Besides, such equipment would probably be better used elsewhere for them.
    The bridge was done, and would hold, so Rick resumed his journey to find his family.

Chapter 10

    Although dangerous, Will knew that whenever there was a quake in the Land of the Lost, something interesting usually followed. It was a quake that led him to the Land of the Lost in the first place. A quake once allowed communication with a parallel universe where Rick and Will helped their counterparts. A quake took his father and brought him Uncle Jack. It had been awhile since the earth last shook, and Will only wondered what would happen next. While dangerous, quakes tended to raise Will’s hopes for a chance to get home.
    Most of the Marshalls’ experiences with quakes happened before Jack’s arrival. As such, Jack’s main concern was fixing up the temple so to make it safe from Sleestak. So in the aftermath of the quake, while Jack stayed at the temple, Will went exploring. In the twelve years he spent in the Land of the Lost, Will had covered the area near the temple well, but perhaps the quake opened up a door to a new cave, or somehow opened an accessible time doorway. If his time in the Land of the Lost taught Will anything, it was that the land’s mysteries were endless.
    As for Holly, she and Chaka were given the task of gathering food and water, as the Marshalls’ supplies were destroyed in the quake. Will watched his sister go off into the jungle, and remembered back to when she was a kid. Despite all the bickering, there was a time when he never would have let her go anywhere by herself. But Holly was now quite capable of taking care of herself, and that made his life easier. She would always be his little sister, but she was a survivor.
    So Will looked around. He looked up at the sky and thought about how the three moons of the Land of the Lost were currently in alignment. It killed him that there was no way to access the Pylon Express. It used to be easy to get to that pylon, but the destruction of that bridge meant that the one sure way of getting home was inaccessible. So close, but yet so far. There had to be another way.
    One thing that never left Will was the Marshall spirit. He knew he would get home, and he would not give up looking, no matter how long it took.
    It was then that the earth shook again. Will suddenly lost his balance and fell to the ground. When the quake stopped, Will’s ankle was pinned under a rock. He was otherwise unhurt, and he remembered back to a similar incident when he first arrived in the Land of the Lost. He and Holly opened a pylon, and started touching the crystals on the table. By playing with something about which he had no knowledge, Will and Holly unknowingly caused severe weather problems. A wind as strong as a hurricane caused a tree to topple over right on top of Will, pinning him to the ground. His father helped him out, and the Marshalls fixed the problem in the pylon, and Will learned the valuable lesson of not touching that which he does not know. But this time was different. He was alone. "Great," he thought, "now all I need is a dinosaur."
    As if someone was reading his mind, Will heard the roar of Big Alice. Big Alice was an alosaurus that roamed near the Lost City. She was coming, and she was hungry. Jack and Holly were nowhere near him. Will struggled to free himself, but it was no use. Twelve years of eluding dinosaurs was about to catch up to him. As Big Alice came into visual range, Will closed his eyes, and prepared for the end. He thought of his family, but knew they would be all-right.
    Suddenly Will heard something he hadn’t heard in well over a decade. It was a gunshot! Will heard Alice scream in pain. Although not mortally wounded, the beast retreated. Safe for now, Will looked up. He couldn’t believe what he saw as a familiar face came into view. "Hello son," said Rick.

Chapter 11

    "DAD!" Will shouted in disbelief. "How?"
    "It’s a long story, Will. But I’m here, and ready to take you and your sister home."
    "How did you find me?"
    Rick took out his pendant, and pointed to Will’s, which after all these years, was still around his neck. In all the excitement, Rick had almost forgotten about the pendant, but he was glad he remembered he was wearing it when he crossed his homemade bridge. He turned to his son and smiled. "I saw you were in trouble, and I came to help." Rick then proceeded to free his son from the rock. As soon as Will could stand up, the two Marshall men hugged. Rick was overcome with emotion. Two years of waiting to see his son again, and finally that day has arrived. But Rick noticed that his son seemed to age more than two years. Concerned, he asked, "Will, just how long have I been gone?"
    "You disappeared in the pylon about 10 years ago. But we knew that if it were possible, you’d come back. I can’t wait to see the expression on Holly and Uncle Jack’s faces when they see you," said Will, smiling.
    Rick was relieved to find out that his family was alive. "So Jack is here. I’m glad to hear he’s ok. Son, this may be hard for you to take, but for me, only two years have passed since I fell through pylon."
    "But that’s impossible!" said Will, quickly reminding himself that nothing was impossible in the Land of the Lost.
    "The woman who helped me back said there would be some unexpected things going on, but I guess getting to you ten years after I left is better than not getting to you at all."
    "What woman? Just how did you get here?"
    Rick then proceeded to tell him the whole story about how a mysterious blonde woman named Rani suddenly appeared and helped him get back to the Land of the Lost. He told Will how Rani wouldn’t tell him how to get home, though he did have a plan. As father and son walked back to the temple, each excited to see the other, Rick told him of the bridge just in time to catch a ride on the Pylon Express.
    So Rick arrived at the temple. Holly and Chaka hadn’t yet returned, but Jack was thrilled to see his brother. "It took you long enough," said Jack, sarcastically.
    "Well, I was too busy enjoying your wife’s cooking. Besides, I wanted to see how much you would age, and you didn’t disappoint me," joked Rick. Will enjoyed seeing his father and uncle spar like he does with Holly.
    But their joy was short-lived. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the skies grew dark, wind started to blow, and thunder and lightening began to fill the sky. But this was no storm. The Marshall men heard what sounded like a pylon and doorway opening. Unlike the case with Rani, Rick had the feeling that what was coming was not friendly.

Chapter 12

    "RICK MARSHALL! YOU DO NOT BELONG! YOUR PRESENCE VIOLATES OUR NONINTERFERENCE RULE! YOU WILL RETURN TO EARTH NOW!" shouted a booming voice through the thunder and mist.
    "Like hell I will!" Rick defiantly replied. "I’m not going anywhere without my family!"
    "YOUR FAMILY WILL NOT LEAVE! YOU MUST LEAVE!"
    Jack then responded, "I don’t know who you think you are, but my family and I have been here for a long time. It’s been years since I saw my children, and the Marshalls are going home!"
    "INTERFERENCE IN THE NATURAL COURSE OF EVENTS IS PROHIBITED!"
    "Who are you people? Why would you stop us from going home?" Will asked.
    The voice answered, "WE ARE THE MONITORS! WE EXIST OUT OF TIME AND OBSERVE VARIOUS WORLDS. OUR PRIME RULE IS THAT WE CANNOT INTERFERE IN THE NATURAL COURSE OF EVENTS! ONE OF OUR HUMAN OPERATIVES VIOLATED THAT RULE! SHE WILL BE DEALT WITH."
    As if on cue, Rani appeared. "Why can’t you leave them alone? My family has been through enough!" She exclaimed almost with tears in her eyes.
    "Holly!" Will and Jack yelled at the same time.
    "Holly?" Rick asked. Surprised, he turned to his son. "This isn’t Holly, this is Rani, she helped me get back to the Land of the Lost."
    "Dad," Will said, "That’s Holly. I don’t know who this Rani is, but that’s Holly!"
    Ignoring the Monitor for a moment, Jack looked at Rani closely. "She looks like Holly, but older."
    Suddenly, everything was clear to Rick. He turned to his brother and son. "I can’t believe I didn’t see it before. It all makes sense now. To me, I was only gone two years. To you, I was gone ten. Somehow, in this Land, time does not run the same. Rani must be a future version of Holly. Last time I saw Holly, she was 13. I can’t even imagine her as an adult. I guess I let my obsession with returning get in the way of noticing my own daughter."
    Her identity revealed, Rani spoke up. "I think it’s time you started, Daddy."
    Rick still had trouble accepting this grown woman as his daughter, but couldn’t take his eyes off her, regretting her lost childhood, but proud of the person she became. She risked a lot to help her family, just like her old man.
    The elder Holly looked at her father. "I’m sorry I didn’t tell you the truth, but I figured I was in enough trouble already. I was taken by The Monitors when I was twenty three, not too long from now. At the time, Will and Uncle Jack had disappeared, and I was alone. First I lost you, then Will and Uncle Jack. The Monitors taught me how to work the time doorways, but told me I couldn’t change things. I wasn’t supposed to contact you, though I did once."
    "When?" Will asked.
    "Back when we where first fell into the Land of the Lost, I was the lady who gave my younger self those pendants. I knew I couldn’t help you get home, but I didn’t think there was harm in that little boost. The pain of losing you, Dad, and Uncle Jack never left me. I even remember telling my younger self to treasure the moments with her family, since they would not always be there. But when I returned, the Monitors forbade me from using the time doorways for a long time. Still, when the opportunity arose, I went to Earth, and helped Dad."
    Rick was still slightly in shock. "I should have recognized you, but when I think of my daughter, I think of my little girl. It hasn’t been that long, she…you, should still be a kid." Rick said. "You look so much like your mother. That must explain why I trusted you." Holly smiled.
    "ENOUGH! ALL MUST BE RESTORED!" yelled the voice of the Monitor, interrupting the family reunion.
    Jack spoke up, "You’re not going to make the Marshalls do anything without a fight!"
    Together for the first time in years, the four Marshalls, Rick, Will, Jack, and Holly, would not be denied.
    Rick turned toward the voice, "You said that interference is prohibited."
    "THAT IS CORRECT!"
    "If you force me to leave. You will be interfering with US." He pointed to his daughter. "When Holly contacted me, that was PART of the natural course of events. Who’s to say that when Will and Jack disappeared, they weren’t going with me?"
    It was Holly’s turn to speak, "Will and Uncle Jack disappeared without a trace. I always assumed they were dead, but they never let me find out what happened. I never even tried. It was too painful." She was near tears.
    Then, a new voice spoke up. It was the voice of a Monitor, but a different one. "YOU ALWAYS WERE A PERCEPTIVE MAN RICK MARSHALL. YOUR ASSESSMENTS MAY VERY WELL BE CORRECT."
    "Who are you? Are you a Monitor?" Rick asked.
    Suddenly, a familiar form appeared in front of Rick. The Marshalls instantly recognized him. It was Enik. He turned to Rick. "BASED ON PAST EXPERIENCE, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN ILLOGICAL TO EXPECT THAT YOU WOULD NOT RETURN. ALL MY ATTEMPTS AT RETURNING TO MY PAST FAILED. I WAS CONTACTED BY THE MONITORS, WHO REVEALED THAT THEY WERE BLOCKING MY EFFORTS. THEY SHOWED ME THAT IF I SUCCEEDED, A FAR WORSE FATE WOULD HAVE FALLEN OVER MY WORLD. I JOINED THE MONITORS AND IN TIME, BECAME THEIR LEADER. I POSSESS KNOWLEDGE THAT EVEN MY FELLOW MONITORS DO NOT HAVE. AND IT WAS I WHO SUGGESTED THAT HOLLY MARSHALL BE RECRUITED TO BECOME A MONITOR.
    TODAY IS THE DAY THAT WILL AND JACK WILL DISAPPEAR. THE CURRENT HOLLY WILL BE ALONE BY THE END OF THE DAY. BUT WE WILL NOT TELL YOU HOW THESE EVENTS OCCUR. EITHER YOU WILL RETURN HOME, OR YOU WILL DIE." He turned to Holly. "HOLLY MARSHALL. YOUR TIME WITH THE MONITORS IS COMPLETE. SOON, YOUR YOUNGER SELF WILL BE YOUR REPLACEMENT. ORDER WILL BE RESTORED. GO WITH YOUR FAMILY, AND MEET YOUR DESTINY. GINACTIK."
    As suddenly as Enik appeared, he was gone. So was the other Monitor. The storm that ravaged the Land of the Lost was replaced by an eerie calmness.
    The Marshalls were alone.

Chapter 13

    Will looked at his family. Rick and Jack were standing next to each other, talking about their next move. Will realized that his younger sister had just become his older sister, and she had experiences that he could only imagine. She had gone through the pain of losing her family, and was now going through the joy of getting them back. Will turned to his father. "Now what?"
    Rick pointed up at the sky. "Look son, the moons are in alignment. If we can make it to the Pylon Express, we can get home."
    "But Rick, the bridge is gone." Jack said.
    "I took care of that. Trust me."
    "So let’s go." Jack said.
    "But what about Holly?" Will asked, "We just can’t leave her!"
    "I’m right here Will," the elder Holly replied.
    "I know. But OUR Holly -- the Holly that I grew up with, is still out with Chaka. How can we just leave her?"
    Rick approached Will. "Son. I know it’s hard. It hurts me too. We always said that we all go together, or not at all. But you heard the Monitor leader. Holly will be alone today no matter what." He turned to his daughter. "Leaving the Holly of this time was the price you mentioned, wasn’t it?" She nodded, remembering the feeling of losing her uncle and brother. Rick turned back to Will. "Son, look at her. That IS your sister. We ARE going home together, just not at the same ages we started. The Holly of this time will be all right. She’s a survivor. She’s a Marshall. And in a few years, she’ll travel back in time and stand right here with us. If we don’t leave her here, the Monitors can’t pick her up in a month. She won’t learn what she needs to learn to get back here. It would create a paradox."
    Will turned to Holly. "I understand. I just hope you can forgive us for doing this."
    Holly looked at her brother. "Losing you was the most difficult thing I ever had to go through. But the recent events have shown why everything has happened. There’s nothing to forgive, Will."
    Jack looked up at the sky. "Time’s running out. We’d better get to that pylon." And with that, the Marshalls next journey began.

Chapter 14

    Just as the Marshalls crossed the bridge on the way from the Lost City, they heard a familiar growl. "GRUMPY!" Will shouted.
    "Will, Holly, Jack come on, move!" Rick yelled. The Marshalls ran for their lives, taking cover at a bush near the pylon. All that stood between the Marshalls and home was Grumpy. Time was running out.
    "DAD! The moons are lining up!" Will exclaimed.
    The Marshalls arrived at the door of the pylon just as it opened. If it closed, Rick knew it was over. Jack told him that the moons had lined up two days earlier, meaning that this was their last shot. Since Enik said they’d either get home or die, if they missed the door, their journey would end tragically.
    Grumpy roared as the Marshalls remained under cover. But Rick was not done yet. "Jack, do you have any crystals with you?" Rick asked.
    "I have a green one. That’s it."
    "Will?"
    "I have a yellow one."
    "Give them to me." Rick took the crystals, and with expert aim, through them down toward Grumpy. His timing perfect, the crystals hit just as Grumpy was looking at them. A bright light appeared, temporarily blinding Grumpy. The T-Rex stumbled around, and tripped, cutting his face on the top of the pylon.
    "That’ll leave a nasty scar." Will noted.
    "Come on, let’s move." The Marshalls ran for the pylon. Holly entered first, followed by Will, and Jack. Rick was last, took one last look behind him, and stepped into the pylon just as the door closed behind him.

Chapter 15

    The doorways moved from world to world. Finally, the doorway to Earth opened, and the Marshalls stepped out. They’d done it. The Marshalls were home.
    For the first time in many years, Will saw a newspaper. He looked at the date, and found out that they had returned just one day after Rick returned to the Land of the Lost. "Twelve years in the Land of the Lost, two and a half years gone on Earth, that’s not so bad," Will thought to himself.
    Will then remembered that the Land of the Lost was a closed universe. Four people left, four people must enter. Rick and the elder Holly made the trip both ways, canceling each other out. Will and Jack were gone, and the twenty-three year old Holly would soon be gone. That meant that three people would soon find themselves in the Land of the Lost. He hoped that they would have an easier time of things than his family, and he was thankful to be home.
    The first stop was Jack’s house, where an emotional reunion between Jack and his family took place. Jack, Will, and Holly were older than they should have been, and the family had to adjust to the new ages, but at least they were home.
    Rick placed his hand on his brother’s shoulder. "Words can’t even begin to express the gratitude. You never gave up on us. You took care of my children when I couldn’t. You lost years of your life. All that time with your family lost. I can never repay you."
    "Forget it Rick. You’d have done the same for me. Besides, you have repaid me with interest. You never quit either. Without you, we’d never have gotten home. It goes to show what I always say, if there’s one thing about Marshalls, they don’t give up." Jack replied.
    With that, the two brothers hugged, and Jack, Rick, Will, and Holly, resumed their lives.

EPILOGUE

    In the Land of the Lost, Holly was depressed. Her family was gone. All she had was Chaka. She’d spent a month looking for any sign of Jack or Will, but found nothing. It was as if the land swallowed them up. She blamed herself for not being there, thinking maybe she could have done something. She assumed the worst. All that time surviving, and now she was alone, with no future. Even if she somehow managed to get home, nothing would be there for her. She felt her life had no purpose. Then, suddenly the ground shook, lightning flashed, and she heard a mysterious voice call to her, a voice that would complete a circle, and offer her the opportunity of her lifetime . . .

* * * *

    On Earth, over a decade had passed since the Marshalls returned. Will and Holly both got married and had children of their own. Jack and Jennifer lived a happy life with their children. Rick went back to his old job as a forest ranger. The Marshalls had survived.
    But as the Marshalls adventure ended, another adventure was beginning. Another family, the Porter family, Tom Porter, his son Kevin, and his daughter Annie, were driving their truck on a camping trip when the Earth shook. The portal opened, and the Land of the Lost had claimed its three people.

Copyright 1998, by Marc C. All characters from the television shows Land of the Lost belong to Krofft Industries