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THE LAST JOURNEY

by Lisa Marie Bell

    The beautiful sunrise turned the temple walls and patio a peaceful pink-gold as Will Marshall stepped through the stone door and stretched, turning his face up to the warm breeze. Holly, Uncle Jack and Cha-Ka were all still asleep, and Will wanted to surprise them with giant strawberries and peaches for breakfast. As he walked with the fruit basket through the jungle, Will thought again of his Dad. It had been almost a year since the earthquake that shook Dad through the time doorway, and he missed him everyday. He knew Holly did too. The kids had been keeping a calendar on the cave wall, and now on the temple wall, keeping track of when the three moons would again line up, and they could go home in the Moongiver Pylon. The time was close now, the moon alignment should happen within the week, and all four of them were anxious and excited, on edge and ever watchful. As Will walked back with his fruit and dreamed of home, he heard Grumpy roar and ducked quickly behind a thick fern. As he watched, Spot raced by with the tyrannosaurus-rex in closing pursuit. Will breathed a sigh of relief and started quickly for the temple.

    Later that morning, as Holly and Will were collecting crystals in the west jungle, they were discussing going home.
    "What do you think itíll be like, Will? I mean, living back on earth again, feeling safe going outside and not having to run from dinosaurs and sleestack?"
    "Ah, itíll be awesome. Weíll see other people, eat at restaurants, watch TV again, and change clothes everyday! And, weíll go out at night and not be afraid!"
    "Yeah!" Holly paused. "Will?"
    "Yeah?"
    "Do you think Dad will be there? Do you think heís at home?"
    Will reached over and put his arm on Hollyís shoulders. "Yeah, Iím sure he will be. Thatís all Iím hoping for." He smiled. "Come on, letís get back to the temple. I bet Uncle Jack and Cha-Ka have lunch all ready!"
    "We sure have a lot of crystals collected." Holly commented as the two walked back through the jungle to their temple home.
    "Uncle Jack wants to be prepared for anything when the moons are aligned. It will be dark, so weíll need to have them to light or explode against any sleestack or dinosaurs we meet. And he wants to have extras forÖÖ.Holly! Get down!" Will grabbed Holly and pushed her down in the sand. "Itís Spike!"
    "Did he see us?" Holly asked. She knew well how dangerous the triceratops could be when his territory was being trespassed upon.
    "I think so! Shh!" Will leaned left to see around the huge tree trunk that hid him and his sister and then stood bolt upright, half carrying Holly with him. "Run! Holly, run! Heís charging us!"
    Will and Holly stumbled and ran, holding onto each other for dear life as the triceratops charged after them, trumpeting his rage at being interrupted at his lunch.
    "Head for the thick bushes! He canít follow us too far into the thicker trees! Quick, Holly, run!"
    "I am! Ow! These branches are really thick here, I think we can stop!" Holly panted. "Has Spike stopped?"
    "Yeah, yeah, heís not followingÖ.anymoreÖ.whoaÖ.that was too close!"
    "Are you alright, Will?"
    "YeahÖ.you?"
    "Letís get back to the temple! If I never see Spike again, itíll be too soon!"

    After supper that evening, the family sat outside and carefully watched the moons. Every night the smallest one, Speedy, came closer and closer to stopping in line with the other two. And when that happened, the keyless Pylon would open and they would go home!
    "Weíre all ready to go." Uncle Jack said. "We have a good supply of all the colors of crystals, rope and all the urgent supplies we can take in our packs. Now all we do is wait." He smiled at Will and reached over to touch Hollyís hair.
    Holly beamed. "I think Iím going to burst! I just wish we could go right now!"
    "Well, honey, by the looks of it, Speedy should be in line tomorrow night." Uncle Jack guessed.
    Will and Holly exchanged excited smiles. Holly asked, "Are you excited Cha-Ka? Tomorrow night we go home! Weíll get to see Daddy!"
    "Cha-Ka very excited! Miss Rickah!"
    "Donít you worry about anything, Cha-Ka. Weíll take good care of you." Uncle Jack promised. "There arenít any Pakuni in our home, but youíll be safe and happy."
    "No Pakuni?" Cha-Ka looked at the kids. "Why?"
    "Pakuni are only found here, Cha-Ka." Will explained. "Thatís just the way it is. And since that bad earthquake, I think youíre the only one here."
    Cha-Ka looked sad, so Holly went and hugged him. "Donít be sad, Cha-Ka. Youíre one of us!"
    "Well, everyone," Jack said, adding more wood to the fires " weíve got a long day coming tomorrow, so what do you say we get to bed?"
    Outside the temple where the family lay safe in their beds, Grumpy roared in the distance and two coelophyses screeched and screamed at each other over a midnight kill, while the moons and the stars glowed softly over all.

****

    The next morning dawned clear and hot.
    "Holly, Will and I are going to the Lost City to tell Enik that weíre going into the pylon tonight, and to ask him to help us by keeping the sleestack away from the pylon area tonight. Iím sure heíll be glad enough to help. Heíll see it in his interest to have us out of here!"
    "Okay, Uncle Jack. Here, be sure to take this pendant. I only have two since Daddy got out of the Land of the Lost while he was wearing the third one, but as long as you and Will are together, Iíll be able to know where you are. We donít want anything to happen to ruin tonight!"
    "Alright, honey. You and Cha-Ka stay close to home. Weíll be back soon."

    In the Lost City, Jack and Will found Enik in the time doorway chamber and told him their plan. Enik agreed to telepathically suggest to the sleestack that the area near the pylon was particularly dangerous this night, and that their hunting should be done close to the Lost City for safety.
    "I wish you luck on your journey, Jack and Will Marshall. Iím quite certain that your presence here in the Land of the Lost has been disruptive to the time portals, and Iím hoping that with the Land back to normalcy, that I may complete my journey back to my own time also."
    "Well, we wish you luck, too, Enik. I wouldnít wish upon anyone to be trapped here." Jack stated.
    Will walked over to Enik. "Good luck, Enik."
    "Ginaktik, Will Marshall." Will looked at Enik questioningly, not knowing the Altrusian word. "It means, good luck, good life and good health." Enik explained.
    Will smiled. "Thanks."
    "Thank you for your help tonight, Enik." Jack continued. "No offense, but I hope to never see you again!"
    Will and Jack carefully left the sleestack tunnels and emerged into the warm sunlight of the Lost City plaza. As they were halfway to the jungle, Big Alice the allosaurus appeared before them.
    "Jack! Weíve got to split up! Alice has us blocked!"
    "You go into the temple ruins, Will! Iíll head the other way! Meet back at our temple!"
    "Okay! Run! Be careful!" Will shouted.    
    Alice stood bellowing and confused as the men split up, finally lunging after Jack as he raced for the far left entrance of the Lost City. Will, upon reaching the old temple ruins, turned and screamed at his uncle.
    "Jack! Run! Run!"
    Just as Will thought that Big Alice would catch Jack for sure, he saw his uncle hurl himself through the Lost City entrance. Will breathed a sigh of relief, and then saw that Uncle Jack must have tossed a rock at the dinosaur to make her back up, because something dropped from her huge jaw. Will drank in some deep breaths, and then quickly started for home while Alice was far away. He would have preferred meeting Jack and heading together, but having agreed to separate, he figured it was best to stick with the plan. Jack had given him the pendant to wear, so there was no way to know exactly where Jack was.

    Just inside the Lost City, Jack gingerly touched his broken foot. The rock that Will had thought that he saw was actually Jackís boot, which Big Alice had snagged with a five inch tooth and yanked off Jackís foot, breaking the bones and slashing a long cut into the outside of it. Jack wished he had said to meet Will in the jungle outside the plaza rather than at their temple home, because now he was trapped and helpless. He ripped some material off of the bottom of his shirt, and groaned with the pain as he tied it around his foot to stop the bleeding. He inhaled deep breaths as he fought the pain from squeezing the broken bones with the bandage, then he crawled to the entrance of the Lost City tunnel to look for Will.
    "Will? Will? Are you there? Will?" he shouted. No answer. Big Alice suddenly roared and looked into the tunnel entrance from where she had been standing and mauling the unappetizing boot. Jack backed up as fast as he could into the tunnel as Alice roared again. He sighed. Great. Now what? "Iíll just have to wait here for Alice to leave and hope that Will can get back. Ahh, why today?" Jack groaned.

    Holly and Will and Cha-Ka waited anxiously at the temple as the afternoon wore on. " Thatís it, Holly! Something is wrong! Maybe Uncle Jack was captured by the sleestack!"
    "Letís go, Will! Iím scared! Weíre going to have to go to the far entrance to the Lost City and start looking! And if we canít find Uncle Jack, weíll have to ask Enik for help! Weíve go to leave tonight, weíve just got to!"
    "I know!" Will said and knelt beside Cha-Ka. "You stay here, Cha-Ka. Keep the fires going, and if Jack comes back, tell him weíve gone to the Lost City to find him. Tell him that if we canít find him, weíre going to ask Enik for help. Tell him not to leave if he gets here, okay, buddy?"
    "Okay. Wira and Ah-ree find Uncle Jack?"
    "Yes, weíll find him. Now, donít you leave, poo?"
    "Cha-Ka poo. Cha-Ka stay here."
    "Good boy! Come on, sis!" Will grabbed Hollyís arm and they headed out through the jungle, keeping a sharp ear out for dinosaurs.
    When they were more than halfway to the Lost City, Will quickly pulled his sister down behind a huge boulder when they spotted Grumpy feeding on a carcass in the clearing ahead of them.
    "Oh, fat rats!" Holly whispered. "Now weíre going to have to circle around!"
    "Yeah, and be quiet about it, too! Come on," Will said, pulling Holly up to a standing crouch "letís go. Carefully!"
    Will and Holly carefully made their way around the tyrannosaur, walking through the jungle and leaving a good distance between themselves and Grumpy. Unfortunately, avoiding Grumpy forced them farther in the jungle and before they could reach the Lost City plaza, they came straight into view of Torchy, the fire-breathing Dimetrodon.
    "Will!" Holly cried.
    "I know! Stay still, he may not see us!" Will put his arm around Holly, ready to run and drag his sister with him. "Between Grumpy, Big Alice and now Torchy, I canít go ten steps today without running into a dinosaur! This is ridiculous! What is it, is there a convention in town?"
    "Will, heís going to charge! Run, run!" Holly screamed as she and Will raced through the trees, running for the Lost City as Torchy charged toward them. "We canít make it! Will!"
    "Keep running, Holly! Torchy canít run very far!" Will kept his arm around his sister, holding her with him and pulling her along.
    "Will! Wait, thereís a water hole off to our right! Letís head there and dive in!" Holly gasped.
    The kids could feel the heat of the dimetrodonís flame as they ran, branches slapping against their heads and the sounds of Torchy snapping small trees and crushing bushes right behind them.
    "There! Holly! The water hole! Run, Holly, run!" Will cried.
    Out of the jungle and into the clear the kids raced and dove into the water, submerging and rising to the top to fearfully look for Torchy. He stood with his feet at the edge of the water and bellowed and shot his flame at them, but turned and bellowed and started away then, giving up on the chase and heading for a yummy group of carbon rocks he could smell nearby. Holly and Will slumped in the neck-high water and caught their breath.
    "Holly, are you alright?"
    "YÖyeah. Just beat. You?"
    "Yeah. Boy, I wasnít sure if we were going to make it, or if weíd end up as two pieces of toast!"
    "I know. Whatís wrong today, Will? It seems like the dinosaurs are wild!"
    "I donít know, but youíre right. Itís not safe anywhere. Maybe it has something to do with the moons."
    "Will?"
    "Yes?"
    "Uncle Jack. You donít think anything badÖÖ."
    "Donít think anything, sis. Thatís what Dad always said. Come on, letís try to get to the Lost City without any more trouble!" Will helped Holly to the shore and boosted her up onto the sand, then climbed out himself as Holly grabbed his arm to help him out. "Okay, come on."
    Walking quickly across the Lost City plaza, Will and Holly kept their eyes open for Big Alice the allosaurus. She was nowhere in sight.
    "Thank goodness! I donít think I can stand another dinosaur threat until at least after supper!" Holly looked left and right as she spoke.
    "Kids! Boy, am I glad to see you!"
    "Uncle Jack!" Will and Holly ran the last few steps into the tunnel where their Uncle sat.
    "Jack! What happened! Your footís bleeding!" Will and Holly knelt beside their Uncle in the bright sunlight just inside the tunnel entrance. "What happened?"
    "Big Alice caught my boot with one of those steak-knife teeth of hers. Pulled the boot right off and Iíve got broken bones and a big slash on the side of my foot."
    "I never should have left you! Never! As soon as I saw that you werenít running to me and home I should have gone looking!"
    "No, Will, you did the right thing! A plan must be followed once itís made, and if youíd come in these tunnels, I could have slipped out one way and you could have gotten lost or captured. Now, letís get out of here before some sleestack come along! That sun is getting pretty low in the sky."
    "Can you walk if you lean on me?" Will asked as he and Holly pulled their Uncle up to a standing position.
    "Yes, with you on one side and Holly on the other, weíll be home in no time."
    One of the kids stood on either side of Jack and supported him and as quickly as possible he hopped with the kidsí help into the relative safety of the jungle.
    "Be very quiet, keep your eyes open and hide if you see anything!" Will instructed softly. "Jack canít run, and all I want is to get to the temple in one piece!"
    "Yeah," Holly chimed in "Iím so nervous that Iím sweating! All I want is to jump into that pylon and to go home!"
    "Alright, kids, letís get on with it." Uncle Jack looked quite pale with the pain, but he hopped along as quickly as Holly and Will could walk. Finally back at the temple, the Marshalls collapsed on the steps and just sat still, catching their breath and silently uttering prayers of thanks for their safe arrival. Will got up and bent to examine Jackís foot. It was a swollen, purple mess. "Holly, boil some water would you? Weíll clean Uncle Jackís foot and put on a fresh bandage." Holly went to work and shortly returned with the hot water for Will to start his first aid.
    "We should have a light supper and head over to the pylon." Jack said. "Weíll wait in the jungle right there and then go in as soon as Speedy aligns with the other two moons. As I figure, it should be between two and three hours from now."
    Will and Holly exchanged a nervous glance, then Will smiled as he finished up Jackís bandage.

****

    The Marshalls grabbed their packs, took a last look at their temple home and helped Uncle Jack through the jungle to the crevasse, across the stone bridge and back into the jungle on the other side.
    "Oh, Iím so nervous Iím almost shaking." Holly was on her Uncleís right side, while Will supported most of Jackís weight on the left.
    "Just keep your eyes open and stay very quiet. Do you hear those roars? Lucky for us, Grumpyís down by the swamp, probably harassing Emily." Will replied.
    "Thank goodness! This is one night we really donít need to meet that big bully!" Jack added.
    "Almost there?" Cha-Ka asked. "Cha-Ka tired."
    "I can see the pylon now, Cha-Ka. Just a bit farther." Will promised.
    At the pylon, the kids lowered Jack to the ground by a boulder and gratefully rested their arms and legs.
    "Itís pretty dark, Uncle Jack. Look! Thereís Speedy, heís starting up to meet his big brothers!" Hollyís eyes were wide with excitement. Will opened the packs which Cha-Ka had carried and checked their crystal supply. All the colors were ready and waiting if trouble came up. As they watched the moons and waited, the dusk passed and night fell. Holly snuggled up next to Uncle Jack and he slipped his arm around her shoulders.
    "It wonít be long now." Will said. "No more than ten or fifteen minutes, Iíd say."
    As they waited, there was a crash of thunder and pink lightning slashed the sky. They looked up and Cha-Ka grabbed Willís leg and clung to him in fear.
    "Holly, letís help Uncle Jack up and over to the pylon door. Cha-Ka, itís okay, itís just thunder." Will reassured the little Paku. "Here, Holly, get Jack by the arm and now lift!"
    Jack hopped between his nephew and niece and leaned on the pylon.
    "Will, during that clap of thunder, did you hear something else?" Holly asked, looking around worriedly.
    "No. What do youÖ.look! The pylon door! Itís opening!"
    "Oh no, itís Grumpy!" Holly yelled as they all saw the tyrannosaur lit up in another flash of pink lightning. He roared and roared again, and then started toward them.
    "Jack, Holly, Cha-Ka, quick, get into the pylon!" The kids helped their Uncle into the pylon and almost before Jack was in, Will reached into his pack and brought out some crystals and threw them at the approaching tyrannosaur, halting the beast and forcing it back a step.
    "Cha-Ka, hurry, into the pylon!" Will shouted and threw another handful of crystals at Grumpy, who roared and stepped back again, just as the thunder crashed loudly again.
    Instead of running into the pylon, thought, Cha-Ka screeched and turned in panic and raced into the jungle.
    "Cha-Ka!" Will yelled. "Cha-Ka, this way!"
    "Cha-Ka! No! Come back!" Holly screamed.
    "Will, get in her fast, the door is going to close!" Uncle Jack roared.
    "Oh, Will, hurry!" Holly was crying and stepped out of the pylon, grabbing her brotherís arm and pulling him backwards into the pylon. "Cha-Ka!" Holly cried again. "Cha-Ka!"
    Will fell back into the pylon as Uncle Jack grabbed Hollyís arms to steady her and the door materialized itself shut as Holly sobbed for her little Pakuni friend and Will and Jack stared in shock at the now sealed door. But there was no time right at that moment to mourn for their little friend.
    As before in the Moongiver pylon, a column of circling lights descended to surround the three Pylon Express riders as Will quickly pulled Holly close to stand between Jack and himself in a tight group. Then the lights circled up again. "Oh!" Holly breathed.
    "Holly, itís working." Will whispered.
    The pylon door opened and the three looked out into a snowy mountain range.
    "Just like before!" Holly said.
    "Yes," Will added "then the pylon made about three more stops and we saw earth!" The door closed when noone stepped out and again the small lights circled the family and ascended again.
    "This is just like what happened to you before?" Jack asked.
    "Yeah!" Will nodded.
    "So, weíll hopefully have that door open into earth and hop out then?" Jack questioned and rested his arm across Willís shoulders for support. "This is getting pretty exciting." Jack wore an excited but wary look on his face.
    The door opened again and the family looked out into a bright jungle world with bright blue sky and a searing hot sun.
    "Wrong stop." Jack stated the obvious.
    As the kids looked worriedly out, the pylon door closed and again the small lights circled the family in a descending column and rose again. After a few silent moments the door opened and everyone saw the Lost City, but in itís time of greatest success and richness. Thousands of Altrusians stood in the distance, dressed in robes like Enik wore, but in all the colors of the rainbow. Crystals dotted obelisks throughout the plaza and vines and greenery were displayed in eye-pleasing settings.
    "Enikís time!" Holly guessed as the family stared out until the pylon closed once again.
    "Boy, I almost didnít recognize the place." Jack said as he and Holly and Will watched the column of lights circle them once again.
    "Do you think earth might be next, Will?" Holly asked.
    "I hope so. Weíll know when we see it!"
    As the door opened once more, they all gazed out at a water world. Sparkling aquamarine water covered everything as far as the eye could see.
    "Itís beautiful!" Holly said. "Do you think itís earth?"
    "I hope not because we donít have a boat andÖ." Will began.
    "What in blazes is that?" Uncle Jack interrupted.
    A giant, snake-like head rose out of the water, followed by the top of a scaly, black body, and gigantic, orange eyes stared coldly at the strange, triangular pylon which floated before it on the water.
    Holly screamed. "This isnít home! Close, door, close!"
    Will reacted, grabbing his sister and pulling her to his side to protect her, but the door was already closing as the monster swam toward them. Holly slumped against Will and looked at her uncle with relief.
    "Hey, uh, lights," Uncle Jack addressed the column of lights as they surrounded them "could you maybe open into earth next stop? I think weíve all had all the surprises we can take for one day." He raised one eyebrow at the kids and shrugged. "Canít hurt to ask!" he explained.    
    With itís same, soft hum, the door opened and Will, Holly and Jack looked out at a grassy park surrounded by oak and palm trees. A couple strolled along hand in hand and a teenager threw a stick for her collie dog to fetch.
    "Home!" Will cried ecstatically.
    "WowÖ." Uncle Jack took a hop forward. "Kids, look, hurry, letís step out of here!"
    The Marshalls stepped out onto their own earth for the first time in years, supporting Uncle Jack on either side.
    "People! Ohmygosh! Real, normal people! Oh, itís so beautiful, itís the most beautiful thing Iíve ever seen! Look, Uncle Jack, noone is even looking at us! They must not be able to see the pylon like that dinosaur fish thing seemed to!" Holly turned around to make sure the pylon was still there and saw the door closing. "Look!" she cried.
    Will and Jack turned to see the pylon slowly fade into nothingness.
    "Wow!" Will breathed. He looked at Holly and grinned from ear to ear and Holly bobbed up and down and laughed.
    "I can hardly believe weíre home!" she laughed, but then her face fell. "Cha-Ka. Will, why did he run? Heís all alone. He must be so sad!"
    Will dropped his gaze sadly. "I donít know, Holly. He was so panicked by Grumpy and the thunder that he wasnít thinking straight, I guess. And we had to go, we had no choice."
    Jack squeezed his nieceís shoulders. "Iím sorry about Cha-Ka not making it with us, honey. But maybe itís for the best, you know, the Land of the Lost is Cha-Kaís home, and it would have been hard for Cha-Ka here. Plus, we did see Pakuni tracks after Ta and Sa disappeared. I bet Cha-Ka will find some of his people again."
    Holly nodded and wiped her tears away.
    "Hey, Holly, you know what? We can call Dad! All we have to do is find a phone and weíll be talking to Dad! As long as heís okay." Will added.
    Holly wiped a last tear away from her eye and smiled at Will and the three headed across the grass, the kids supporting their uncle. A middle-aged man approached them and asked, "Excuse me, but I notice you have a bad foot. Is there any way I can help?"
    Holly couldnít stop staring at the man, hardly believing that she was back home. The man noticed her happy stare and offered a kindly smile.
    "Could you point us to a telephone?" Will asked, also having trouble taking his eyes off the new face. He wanted to ask what city, what state, what country they were in, and what year was it, what month! He was so full of questions, but he managed to stay silent.
    "Of course, thereís a telephone right at the end of this path to our left. May I assist you? I see youíre foot is bleeding and you donít look too well." The kind man edged in beside Holly and took Jackís arm for her.
    "Youíre very kind." Jack thanked the man. "Iím sure Iíve broken some bones in the foot. Uh, this may seem like a strange question, but my family and I are just passing through. What city are we in?"
    "Well, youíre in Gold Hills. Itís very small, easy to miss the signs."
    "Thatís only about one hour from Haydn, isnít it?" Jack asked. Haydn was about six hours from where Rick lived, and closer to Jackís home.
    "Thatís right. Well, hereís the phone. I believe youíll be alright from here." The man smiled.
    "Thanks so much! It sure is good to meet you! You canít imagine how glad we are to meet a friendly face!" Holly beamed and reached to shake the manís hand.
    "Youíre very welcome."
    As the fellow walked off, Will took Hollyís hand. "Hey, come one, letís phone Dad!" The two ran the few steps to the phone. Will picked up the receiver, laughing to himself. "Oh, boy, this feels good!" He reached for the dial, but had to pause for a second.
    "What is it?" Holly questioned.
    Will smiled. "I had to think of the number for a second!" Will dialed the operator and asked her to connect him to their number. He and Holly waited, hardly daring to breathe.
    "Itís ringing!" Will said with an excited, nervous smile. Holly grabbed Willís arm with both hands and bit her lip.
    "Hello?" came the voice through the receiver.
    Will took a deep breath. "Dad? Dad, is it you?" He knew it was, but the moment seemed almost surreal.
    "Will? Son! Will!" Tears ran out of Willís eyes and down his cheeks as Holly pulled the receiver to her ear.
    "Daddy? Daddy?" Will put his arm around Holly and leaned down to the receiver to listen as she spoke.
    "Holly! Honey, whereÖ.howÖ.?"
    "Daddy, oh, Daddy!" Holly sobbed happily. "Daddy, we came home! We came home in the pylon when the moons lined up and Uncle Jack is with us!"
    "Oh, God, Holly, honey, IÖ.where are you, honey? Where are you?"    
    "Weíre in Gold Hills Dad!" Will told his Dad. "Weíre in a park in Gold Hills!"
    "I, I canít believe Iím talking to you both! Iíve never stopped searching for you, all these months Iíve been home. I was going to leave again in the morning! Iím going to get in the car now and Iíll be in Gold Hills inÖ.well, I guess four and a half to five hours!"
    "Oh, Daddy, Iíve missed you so much!" Holly was sobbing and laughing at the same time.
    "Dad, I canít wait until youíre here! We hoped and believed every day that youíd gotten home, but we couldnít be sure!" Will added.
    "Iíll see you as soon as I can kids. I love you both so much. You said Jack is with you?"
    "He came into the Land of the Lost the same day you left! That temporal regulation rule that Enik was always telling us about, I guess." Will explained.
    "Weíd better plan a place to meet. I want to see you as soon as I arrive!"
    "Well," Will said "Uncle Jackís foot was injured before we left in the pylon, so weíre going to need to get him to a hospital. We might as well meet there."
    "Okay, son. I justÖ.I canít wait to see you all!"
    "I love you, Daddy!" Holly called into the receiver which Will still held.
    "Iíll see you soon, honey."
    After Will hung up, Holly hugged him. "Heís okay, and weíll see him soon!"
    "Yeah!" Will said, hugging Holly back. "This is all so unreal! Iím so happy, it feels like a dream!"
    "Well, if it is, I donít want to wake up!" Holly announced.
    "I know what you mean!"
    The kids returned to Uncle Jack, who smiled at their shining, happy faces.
    "Itís time we found a doctor for you, Uncle Jack. I told him weíd meet him at the hospital. It will probably take about five hours for him to reach us."
    "Well, if you and Holly can help me through the park, we can probably get directions and a ride to the nearest hospital."
    As Jack hopped and the kids supported him and wore their backpacks, Jack started planning. "You know, kids, I think weíd better get a story lined up. I really donít think we can say what really happened. We might find ourselves in the psychiatric ward of that hospital rather than the emergency!"
    "I never really thought of it, but I guess youíre right. Well, what should we say?" Will asked.
    "Well, weíve got our packs, so letís stick as close to the truth as possible. We were camping in the Grand Canyon and got lost. Very lost."
    "For three years?" Holly asked doubtfully.
    "Letís just go one step at a time, Holly. When we see your Dad, weíll see what heís said, and go from there."
    When the family arrived at the edge of the park and saw the street busy with mid-morning traffic, the kids eyes were wide and they stared, drinking in the sights of the city. Uncle Jack was exhausted and they helped him to a stone plant holder where he sat to catch his breath.
    Will hailed a woman as she passed them and asked her where a hospital was.
    "She said the hospital is across town. We donít have any money for a cab." Will looked at Jack.
    "Thereís a lot of cars parked along the street. Maybe one of them will give us a ride. Especially if I ask and tell them Uncle Jackís foot is broken!" Holly volunteered.
    "I guess weíll have to try that, Holly. Here comes a young fellow now. Go ahead."
    Holly approached the man as Will and Jack looked on.
    "Excuse me?" The young man stopped. "My Uncle has a broken foot, and weíre on our way through town and donít have a car. Would it be possible for you to drop us off at the hospital?" Holly looked hopefully at the man, who seemed to be just a few years older than Will.
    "Iím sorry, Iím not driving today, none of these cars are mine, or Iíd certainly give you a lift." The young man explained.
    "Oh, well, thanks anyway!"
    "You could take the bus. The stop is right across the street." The young man suggested.
    "Well, we donít have any money." The man gave Holly a strange look. Holly quickly added "What I mean is, my Uncle only has travelers cheques."
    "Oh! Well, here. Hereís fifty cents. That should get you across town and a cup of hot chocolate to boot!" The stranger smiled as he handed the girl the coins.
    Holly beamed. "Thanks! Itís great to be meeting such a nice person! The nicest people live in Gold Hills!"
    Holly told her Uncle and brother what had happened as they crossed the street to the bus stop. Jack smiled. "Thereís no place like home!"
    Not many minutes after, the bus picked the three up. Holly giggled. "I canít believe all the people around us! I just want to shout out hooray and to ask them if they know how lucky they are that they donít have to run from tyrannosaurs and sleestacks!"
    Will laughed. "I know what you mean! See that kid over there with the hotdog? If he only knew how much I want to grab it out of his hands and wolf it down! My mouth is watering for some real food!"
    "Mine, too! But we donít have any money." Holly said, and made a wry face.
    "Donít worry, as soon as we meet Dad, weíll have a celebration supper! Burgers, fries, and chocolate malts!" Will patted his stomach just thinking about it.
    The bus dropped them off outside the emergency entrance of the hospital and they helped Jack in.
    "Weíre going to have to explain that Rick is bringing money, and that weíll stay here until he comes, and convince them to set my foot first, if thereís a problem." Jack told the kids. Will nodded.
    Inside the ER, a nurse escorted Jack and the kids into a room and told them a doctor would be right in.
    When the doctor arrived, he asked how Jack had injured his foot. "This is a nasty gash youíve got here."
    Jack glanced at Will and Holly. "I caught the foot in some rocks and a jagged edge got me when I was pulling it out."
    "Well, weíll have to x-ray this, but I can tell by the swelling that youíve got broken bones. Sit here and there will be a nurse along to wheel you to the x-ray department. Then weíll bring you back and set that foot." The doctor smiled.
    Holly and Will waited as Jack was wheeled up and then when he returned, they joined him again in his temporary hospital room. The doctor returned and bandaged Jackís cut and set his broken foot in a cast. As the doctor started out of the room, Jack said, "Ah, doc. Iím afraid that my brother is bringing me money, and he wonít be arriving for a few hours. You see, we were camping when this happened, andÖ."
    "Oh." The doctor paused. "I see. Well, this is a bit of a problem."
    "I assure you, Iím sticking around, because this is where I told him to meet us."
    The doctor smiled. "I trust you. Why donít you and the kids go on up to the cafeteria and have some lunch? It will help the time pass, and I noticed your daughterís tummy growling once." Holly turned red and Will laughed.
    "Ah," Uncle Jack began "we donítÖ."
    "Have any money? Not a problem. Just tell Mary at the register to put it on Dr. Schuylerís bill."
    "Thank you so much." Jack replied sincerely. "Since my niece and nephew and I arrived in Gold Hills weíve met the nicest people! It does the heart good."
    In the cafeteria, the Marshalls enjoyed their first earth meal in years. Will and Holly savored their dreamed of burgers, fries and chocolate milkshakes, while Jack luxuriated over his three cups of coffee and salisbury steak.
    "Umm," Will grinned "that was heaven! I donít think Iíve ever had a better meal in my life!"
    "When youíre right, youíre right, Will. Listen, why donít you kids go on out and tour around the city? I know youíre itching to see everything all at once, and your Dad wonít arrive for almost three hours."
    "Thatís a great idea!" Holly enthused. "I just canít see enough of home!"
    "Weíll be back in a couple of hours." Will promised. "Will you be alright?"
    "Oh, Iíll be fine. Iím going to make a phone call. Thereís a woman I was going around with before I got lost, and, well, I guess Iím wondering if she might still be thinking of me."
    Will nodded. "I saw a paper in the waiting room. Itís May, 1975. We left on our vacation in July of 1974. Only ten months has passed here, but we were in the Land of the Lost for almost three years!"
    Jack nodded. "And I wasnít there as long as you. To my friend, Iíve only been gone less than six months." He raised an eyebrow hopefully.
    Will smiled and patted Jackís shoulder. "Make that call. I bet your friend will be ecstatic!"

    Will and Holly walked around the city, reveling in the sights and sounds. They spoke to kids their own age in a park near the hospital, gazed in the bakery and clothing store windows and laughed at not having to be on constant alert for man-eating, prehistoric monsters.
    Holly said with a happy sigh, "I canít wait to have a long, hot bath, with bubbles! And change into new clothes!"
    Will picked up the thoughts next. "And sleep in a real bed, in our own house! Hey! Look, Holly, a TV store! Letís cross over and have a closer look!" Holly nodded and eagerly lead the way.
    "Will, itís your favourite show!" The kids watched the TV show until a salesman poked his head outside and smiled. The kids smiled back and continued on up the street.
    "We should head back, Holly. Dad should be here in just over an hour!" Will grinned.
    "I canít wait! Will?"
    "Yeah?"
    "I think it will be weird to see our friends and our neighbors again. I mean, everything has been so outrageous for us, being in another world, and dinosaursÖ."
    Will took Hollyís arm and they started up the street. "I know. Weíll see what Dad says, but Uncle Jack is probably right, we probably will just have to say we got lost in the desert."
    "Well, if we canít tell, Iím going to write a book about it someday! That way, I can tell the truth and pretend itís a story!" Holly grinned.
    Will laughed. "Yeah, and make a fortune from our adventures in the Land of the Lost!"

****

    A little over an hour later, as the family sat and discussed the kidsí exploration of the city, the front door of the hospital lobby opened and in strode Rick Marshall.
    "Daddy!" Holly cried, and jumped up and ran to her father, with Will right behind her.
    "Will! Holly!" Rickís face broke into an ear to ear smile and he started toward his children and wrapped h is arms around them as they both hugged him. Tears ran down their faces as they laughed and clung to each other. Rick caressed Hollyís hair and kissed her cheek, then gripped his sonís shoulder. "Iíve looked for you both every day since I was pulled through the time doorway. Iíve been up and down the Grand Canyon twenty times. I didnít know what to do, but I had to do something. Thank God youíre safe!" Rick looked to his brother then, and with his arms around the kids, he strode over to greet him. The brothers exchanged a heartfelt smile. "Jack, thank you. Thereís no way I can ever repay you for keeping my children safe." Rick clasped Jackís hand.
    "Itís been a wild ride, but I couldnít have had any better company. These are some pretty great kids." Jack said fondly.
    "Come on everybody. Letís go home." Rick smiled, at peace at last with his family safely returned to him.
    "Ah, brother," Jack started "Iím afraid thereís the matter of a bill for the doctor putting this cast on my foot, and, after these kids being without junkfood for three years, a rather large bill for the cafeteria!"
    Rick threw his head back and laughed and the others all joined him as they silently thanked God that their adventure was over and that they were all together.

 

Author: dlchevy@drewtek.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa is a Canadian and very much enjoys writing short stories. She currently has a poem published in a hardcopy edition of the book "Moments In Time", put out by the Poetry Guild. The poem is entitled "Poem of a Daughterís Love" and can be found on page 211. She is also waiting for word on a short story submitted to an Ontario book project about Inspirational Reflections.

Lisa would like to dedicate this and all her other writing projects to her family.

Lisa welcomes comments about her Land of the Lost fiction. (Nice ones, that is!)