By Marc C.
Somewhere, on another plane, exists a parallel universe. This universe is essentially the same as the known universe, with only slight variations. People who exist in the known universe have duplicates in the parallel universe, and while their lives tend to take similar roads, they are not completely identical. Very few beings in each universe even know that the other one exists, and the only passage from one universe to another is via a dimensional doorway. Most of these doorways only allow passage through space and time, but with the right technology, one can be opened to the other universe.
On Earth, in both universes, the Marshall family was involved in an accident involving a time doorway. In the known universe, Forest Ranger Rick Marshall, his 17 year old son Will, and his 11 year old daughter Holly, were on a routine raft patrol of the Colorado River when an earthquake hit, sending the family down a 1000 foot waterfall, through a portal, and to another world, which the Marshalls named the Land of the Lost. A similar incident happened to their counterparts, Rich, his son Bill, and his daughter Holly. Both families remained in their own universes, but trapped in a world far different from their own, with one goal in mindreturning home.
Both Lands of the Lost had similar dangers. The Land was filled with dinosaurs, to which the Marshalls had given names. For example, when they first arrived in the Land of the Lost, they were chased by a tyrannosaurus-rex into a cave, which became their home. They named the T-rex Grumpy, and the cave, High Bluff.
The Land also had intelligent life. The Marshalls befriended an ape-like creature named Chaka, a member of a species called the Pakuni. There were two other Pakuni, older than Chaka, named Ta and Sa. Ta was the leader of the small tribe, and not always a friend to the Marshalls, but in general, the two groups co-existed in peace.
But not all intelligent species in the Land of the Lost were friendly. Not too far from the their cave, the Marshalls found an area they named the Lost City. The Lost City is a structure containing remnants of a civilization called Altrusians, who once ruled the Land of the Lost. In the known universe, Altrusians were benevolent, lizard like in appearance, with big eyes, and beige in color. They were a highly advanced race, devoid of emotions. However, years of suppressing their emotions resulted in a cataclysmic disaster, destroying the Altrusian civilization forever. They de-evolved into a race of savages, known as the Sleestak, and they have roamed the Lost City for centuries. Sleestak looked like Altrusians, though they are about one foot taller, green, and generally cannot communicate with humans. The Sleestak consider the Marshalls to be intruders, and they attack them on contact, with the hope of sacrificing them to their god, a mysterious creature that lives in a pit in the Lost City.
Altrusian technology had developed to the point where they built structures called pylons that could control the day-to-day functions of the entire Land of the Lost, from the weather to the time doorways. Each pylon has a specific function.
Most Altrusian technology revolved around the use of crystals. Crystals varied in size, shape and color, but most were somewhere between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball. The Altrusians called the crystals "fourth dimensional nodes," and they are a natural resource in the Land of the Lost. They are also the only material that can survive in both universes. Crystals were strategically placed on tables in structures throughout the land called pylons. Generally, a pylon could only be entered when turning a key that was placed over a diamond shaped door. Through the crystal tables, pylons were able to perform their various functions. The crystal colors were combined precisely, to enable the pylon to perform its function. Touching the crystals, or removing them, could cause a malfunction.
Crystal tables were also the method by which the Altrusians were able to control the time doorways outside of the pylons. Whether in a pylon or in the Lost City, a time doorway crystal table could open up gates to different worlds and times, depending on how the crystals were arranged.
In both universes, the Marshalls constantly were trying to figure out the proper combination to their world. The problem was that with over 200 crystals on a table, the combinations seemed infinite. The only time doorway crystal table to which the Marshalls had consistent access was in the Lost City, which is why they would brave disturbing the Sleestak.
The Marshalls would have liked to co-exist with the Sleestak, but in the known universe, they had encountered few that could talk to them. One was SLatch, a Sleestak born with the intelligence of an Altrusian. He and Rick were once trapped in the Sleestak pit, and learned to trust each other and work together to escape. Rich had a similar adventure with SLatchs counterpart in the parallel universe. Although SLatch could not operate the doorways as of their meeting, and contact was limited, both Rick and Rich considered him a friend.
The Sleestak leader, who was no friend of the Marshalls, also had the ability to speak English. However, unlike SLatch, he did not possess the knowledge and wisdom of his ancestors. He was more primitive, and spent much of his time in the Library of Skulls, a place deep in the Lost City containing many of the old secrets of the ancient Altrusians. The leader tended to misinterpret his ancestors records in a way that was detrimental to the humans.
Finally there was Enik, an Altrusian, who like the Marshalls, was stranded in the Land due to an accident involving a time doorway. Unlike the Marshalls, Enik only traveled through time, not space. He originally thought the Land of the Lost was a part of his past, and was shocked when the humans showed him that the Land was really his worlds sad future. Eniks goal was to return home, to warn his people of the disasters that faced them. However, he is quite knowledgeable in the secrets of the Lost City, and on several occasions worked with the Marshalls as an ally.
* * * *
In the parallel universe, the Sleestak were also savages who de-evolved from the Altrusians. However, their origins varied. Whereas the Altrusians in the known universe were dedicated to science, control of emotions, and exploration of other times and worlds through their mastery of the time doorways, the Altrusians in the parallel universe were an empire dedicated to manipulating the time doorways in order to conquer other worlds. They looked similar to their counterparts, and were equally intelligent, though they were black in appearance rather than beige. These Altrusians were an arrogant and sarcastic race, who viewed all other intelligent life as inferior. But despite the differing philosophies, like their counterparts, the Altrusian Empire met with mass destruction.
Eniks counterpart was also trapped in his future. He too learned of his peoples fate in an encounter with the Marshalls. Despite his travels, the parallel Enik had never encountered humans before. They intrigued him. The Marshalls had shown him the Lost City, a city that he once ruled as a monarch. Enik could not believe that his empire could fall. He vowed to return to his past to undo the disaster that befell his people. However, he was angered that these humans would dare use the time doorways, even accidentally. Worse, the Marshalls had trespassed on his city. Enik grew tired of the Marshalls pestering attempts at using his knowledge to return to their pathetic home. Yet, realizing that the Marshalls were from an intelligent species, Enik did not want to simply destroy the Marshalls. He planned to gain their trust, learn about humanity, destroy the Marshalls, return home, and lead an invasion of Earth to make it part of the Altrusian Empire.
When Rich, Bill, and Holly encountered Enik, they had no idea of his history. They were happy to find someone from an intelligent species, especially one that might be able to help them get home. Over time, the black Sleestak did indeed gain the Marshalls trust. On several occasions, Enik had even helped the Marshalls. He rescued Bill and Holly from the Sleestak pit, barely escaping the Sleestak sacrifice ritual himself. He showed the Marshalls the way to repair a weather pylon, which had broken down and was causing disasters all over the Land of the Lost. With each act of kindness, the Marshalls believed in Eniks sincerity. Yet, Enik secretly planned his act of betrayal. The black Sleestak had a flare for the dramatic, and timing was everything. He figured that when the time was right, he would end the Marshalls pitiful existence in a way that would demonstrate his superiority.
In both universes, Enik was involved in saving the elder Marshalls life. In a virtually identical accident, Rick and Rich were experimenting with crystals, trying to figure out which color combinations perform which function. While placing a red, yellow, and blue crystal together, both men received a massive electric shock, which drained all their energy. In both universes, Holly managed to get her father back to the cave, while Will and Bill respectively went to the Lost City to find their Enik.
In both cases, at first, Enik was too self absorbed to help. But in both instances, the teen Marshall was able to get him to change his mind. In the known universe, Eniks Altrusian code of honor was challenged when, in the time doorway cave, Enik managed to open a doorway to Earth. Not willing to leave his father and sister, despite Eniks encouragement, Will refused to enter the doorway and go home. Embarrassed by Wills ability to sacrifice for his family, Enik was determined not to let a humans willpower be stronger than his own. So he followed Will back to the cave, and used Altrusian technology to help Rick.
In the parallel universe, the events unfolded slightly differently. When confronted by Bill, the black Sleestak also refused to help, pretending to be too self-absorbed in his work in the time doorway chamber. In reality, he was trying to test human reactions to stressful situations. He wanted to see just how far Bill would go to help his father. Knowing how humans react would be helpful information for his future plans. Plus, Enik figured that allowing Rich to die then and there would rob him in part of his final victory. Still, he refused to help at first.
To further his test of Bills character, Enik even showed Bill an Altrusian weapona crystal that could enable its holder to attack others telepathically.
"Bill Marshall. You will leave my chamber and go about your business, or I will have to use force to make you comply."
Frustrated, Bill made a quick lunge at Enik, to seize the weapon. Enik anticipated Bills move, but he purposefully let the teen take control of the crystal. However, what Bill did not know was that the black Sleestak had rendered the weapon harmless, to further see what Bill would do. Thus, this incident would provide valuable information.
Bill held the crystal, and glared at Enik with sheer intensity. "Help my father or so help me, Ill!!!"
"So, is that what humans do? They would use any means to get their way, even threats of violence?"
Despite his rage, Bill was not a killer, and he knew his threats were idle. To Eniks astonishment, the human put the crystal down, and asked for compassion. Enik decided his experiment was over, and said, "fear not Bill Marshall. I was merely following an Altrusian code to test if you were worthy of receiving my help. Though you were unaware, I was in no danger, and had you attempted to use my weapon, I would not have been destroyed. And your father would still be dying. You have shown some compassion and restraint, and in doing so you have earned the right to receive my help." Enik took pride in his ability to deceive the human so easily.
Bill was not sure what to think, but he was desperate, and happy that Enik helped him. Enik was pleased that Bill bought into his deception, and after saving Rich Marshalls life, he knew he almost had their trust completely.
* * * *
Shortly thereafter, the black Sleestak discovered the Marshalls of the known universe. One early morning, Rick and Will noticed that the three moons of the Land of the Lost were lined up in the sky, and the Pakuni were performing some sort of ritual near a pylon with no key. When the pylon opened, Rick and Will discovered a time doorway inside. They entered, and suddenly the pylon closed behind them. The pylon activated, and it reopened in another world. The process repeated itself. The Marshalls found themselves moving from world to world, even stopping on Earth. But Rick and Will did not step out on Earth because Holly was not with them.
Unbeknownst to Rick and Will, one of the stops during their journey was the alternate universe Land of the Lost. Rick and Will almost stepped out there, but Rick noticed that some of the trees were different, and correctly concluded that they were not in the right place. Finally the Pylon Express, as the Marshalls dubbed the special pylon, stopped in their Land of the Lost, and Rick and Will stepped out, ten minutes after they went in.
When they returned, the Marshalls noticed some strange occurrences. First, due to a time displacement, ten minutes inside the pylon actually translated to a day and a half in the Land of the Lost. During that day and a half, Holly entered the pylon as well. Due to the time displacement, Holly, Rick, and Will did not see each other. Also, during the day and a half that Holly was in the pylon, Rick learned that the pylon only opened when the three moons of the Land of the Lost were in alignment, an event that occurs only once every several years. Still, they had the knowledge that there was an avenue home, should another opportunity arise.
What Rick, Will and Holly did not know was that their short trip through time and space did not go unnoticed in the parallel universe. The black Sleestak saw the pylon open, and watched Rick and Will peek out. At the same time, Enik could hear Rich and Bill were nearby with Holly enjoying a swim. Enik wondered what was happening, and spent the next day in the Library of Skulls. Enik learned about the known universe, and the dangers of what would happen if matter from the two universes would touch. However, his new knowledge would make him more powerful than ever when he returned to his world. With the knowledge he obtained about humans, he could not only launch his invasion of his Marshalls Earth, but of the Earth in the other universe as well, assuming he could find a way to survive there.
Suddenly Enik thought of an amusing idea. Wouldnt it be great to send the Marshalls home, but to the wrong universe? They would be thrilled to be going home, but then they would die a gruesome death, just as they thought everything would be all right. Finally, Enik had a way to rid himself of the humans that he felt was worthy of his intelligence. To execute his plan, Enik told the Marshalls about the Pylon Express, and the Marshalls prepared to go home.
However, when the pylon opened, a strange creature hopped out, and to their shock an exact duplicate of Holly followed. The duplicate looked in shock at what she thought was her family, and suddenly blew up. The Marshalls could not believe what they saw, and asked Enik for an explanation. Enik tried to think of a good lie, but Rich was a smart man, and came to the conclusion on his own that this alternate Holly must be from another universe. He noticed that she was wearing a different shirt than that of his daughter. The shirt was from a bag of spare clothes that Rich kept separate from the Marshalls supplies, so that they would have something else to wear should their current clothes be torn beyond repair. That simple difference, combined with the explosion upon contact with the ground, led Rich to the conclusion that this other Holly came from a similar, but somehow different reality.
Cursing Richs intelligence, but filing it in the back of his brain for future reference, Enik realized that he would have to help the Marshalls help this alternate Holly. The black Sleestak knew that human compassion would control the Marshalls actions, and that they would not enter the pylon without doing something for the lost child. Enik would adapt his plan and send the Marshalls to the wrong Earth another way, but for now, he would help.
Thus, he told the humans about the known universe, and Rich accompanied him to the Library of Skulls. There, Rich learned not only about the existence of the known universe, but was given a vision about Rick, Will, and Holly, and how they were basically the same people, with only slight differences, like their names. The Library also offered Rich a solution.
Elsewhere in the parallel Land of the Lost, there was another pylon, also a time doorway, and also with no key. Although Rich would not be able to travel to other worlds, he could turn back time, and warn the other Holly somehow. The Library of Skulls showed him where the pylon key was, near an old abandoned temple outside the Lost City. Rich and Enik retrieved the key, while Bill stayed in the cave with his sister, who was upset over the whole incident.
Rich entered the pylon alone and traveled back in time to a point a few minutes before this other Holly was to exit the Pylon Express. The way the pylon worked, Rich essentially entered his own body, at the time period he chose, at the position he was in during the time period, only he retained his memories of the future. He quickly ran to the pylon and scribbled a message to his "daughter." In the dirt just outside the pylon, Rich wrote the words "HOLLY DONT" with his finger, and hid out of sight, so the other Holly would not step out toward him.
It worked. When the door opened, Holly peeked out of the door, looked down, and saw Richs note. As she hesitated, the box-like creature came out of the pylon, and exploded in front of Holly. Frightened, Holly stepped back, and the pylon closed. Holly was saved, and Rich hoped she made it back to her family.
* * * *
Not too long before the incident with the Pylon Express, in the known universe, Enik was puzzled. For some reason, the time doorway in the Lost City was fixated with the events that led to the Marshalls arrival in the Land of the Lost. The doorway displayed the Marshalls on their raft, the earthquake, and the plunge down the waterfall. When the family was halfway down the waterfall, the event abruptly stopped, and repeated from the beginning. Enik noticed a paradox. Despite the Marshalls presence, Enik did not see the Marshalls fall through a time doorway. Without an open portal, the Marshalls should have been killed. Yet, they were alive, in the Land of the Lost. Enik could not explain that contradiction, nor could he get the doorway function properly until the problem was solved.
At the same time, Will found a previously unexplored entrance to the Lost City. After a brief encounter with the Sleestak, he found himself in Eniks cave, staring at the events that led his family into the Land of the Lost. Shortly thereafter, Rick and Holly arrived, and all four individuals were faced with the puzzle. Eniks first solution was to simply prevent the Marshalls from entering the Land of the Lost, but naturally, the Marshalls protested vehemently, since that would mean they would crash into the rocks at the bottom of the waterfall, and die. The humans brainstormed as to how to solve the problem. Rick proposed throwing a rope through the doorway, and getting home that way, but Enik noted that when the cycle moved from end to beginning, the rope would be cut. Enik also revealed one of the more intriguing secrets of the Land of the Lost. In order for someone to leave the Land, another person must enter. Because the Land of the Lost is a closed universe, it constantly had to remain in balance. So the Marshalls were trapped unless three humans came in from Earth. Rick asked Enik if the images of the Marshalls in the loop could be used to replace his family. Enik replied that such an idea was theoretically possible, but it was against the Altrusian code for him to perform the task. But as Rick quickly found out, it was not against the code for Enik to provide the information.
However, Enik was not being entirely honest with the Marshalls. Ricks idea would not work, because simply put, the images were not real. The doorway was merely replaying the past. Yet, Rick had given Enik the solution, though he knew from his experiences with humans that Rick might not agree. Basically, Enik would set up a situation where a time doorway would open over the waterfall, just as the Marshalls in the replay were falling. While in limbo, the real Marshalls would enter the doorway. They would instantly be morphed into their counterparts, and relive all the events leading up to the current day. The only exception is that the events of the current day would not be relived, since there would be no paradox. Enik figured it was the logical solution, since it would solve his problem, and save the Marshalls lives. Plus, Enik would be practicing the art of compassion, something that Rick showed him to be an essential element to the survival of his people.
So Enik had Rick place a white crystal on the center of the crystal matrix, and his planned worked. The Marshalls stepped into the doorway thinking they were going home, and although thats not what happened, they were saved, and relived everything instantly, though they had no idea what Enik had done.
* * * *
The same events happened in the parallel universe, though not until after the Pylon Express incident. The black Sleestak decided that the paradox was the perfect way to fulfil his goal of sending the Marshalls to the known universe. Like his counterpart, Enik figured that the doorway could be fixed by integrating the Marshalls with their counterparts in the doorway. But he also noted that if he could send the Marshalls to the known universe, the end of their lives would also fix the time doorway.
The black Sleestak ventured to the Marshalls cave, explaining the problem. With their curiosity piqued, the family gladly followed Enik to the Lost City. The Altrusians of the parallel universe did not have the same codes as their counterparts, so Enik was only too glad to "help" the human family stop the loop. He would kill two birds with one stone. Not only with the time loop be solved, but the Marshalls would be blown to bits.
Eniks research into the known universe had provided him with plenty of useful information. Instructing the Marshalls to look at the doorway, Enik opened a portal to Earth the Earth of the known universe. The portal revealed a mountain, and Holly even jumped for joy as she also saw a road with cars on it. Enik felt a sense of satisfaction as his betrayal was near completion. The Marshalls were excited to be going home, and started toward the doorway.
But suddenly, Enik had a feeling of regret. As much as he enjoyed the irony of what he was doing, his human adversaries would never know what hit them. He wanted the humans to know what happened and why. Therefore, when the Marshalls were halfway through the portal, Enik put a stop to their journey. Suspended between worlds, the Marshalls looked in horror as Enik showed his true colors. He revealed everything, from his first deception, to his plans to go back in time to his empire, to his plans to attack Earth. The Marshalls could not believe what they were hearing. How could they have been fooled for so long? Now, without any chance of retribution, they were going to die. But fate intervened, and the earth shook, giving the Marshalls one last chance at survival.
When the quake hit, Enik disappeared from the Marshalls point of view, and they were trapped between worlds. Rich, Bill and Holly were in a state of limbo. Still conscious, Rich led his family toward the sound of the car horn. The family found themselves in a maze of tunnels, not unlike the Lost City. Rich figured that they were alive because the quake interfered with Eniks plans, or because of the fact that they were not only being sent between worlds, but between universes. Not sure of where they were, Rich simply hoped for the best, though he knew there was a good chance he had brought his family to its doom. "This way," Rich said, as he led his family toward a cave. Inside the cave he saw a crystal table. "Holly, wait here. Bill, come with me."
Rich and Bill walked into the cave and examined the table. "What do you think Dad?" Bill asked.
"Well, we are in a time doorway, and somehow trapped halfway through. If this table is here, then there must be a way to get out of this. If I can arrange the crystals in the right combination, I bet we can open a doorway back to our universe." Bill smiled at the thought, and watched his father attentively. Rich examined the table and noticed that there was a crystal missing. A green crystal was lying on the floor, next to the table. He placed the crystal in its spot, and a doorway opened. Clearly, Rich could see it was back to the Land of the Lost, or at least a Land of the Lost. Luckily, the doorway moved around to various areas in the Land, and when Rich saw the black Sleestak, he knew he was looking at his universe, not the other one. Richs experiences in the Library of Skulls taught him no black Altrusians existed in the other universe.
To the Marshalls, Enik appeared as if he were on television. Although they could see Enik, the black Sleestak could not see them. Rich cautioned his family to go through the portal only when it was safe. They would never trust the black Sleestak again. Finally, the family caught a break, as Enik walked out of the room. "Holly, come here," Rich said, as his daughter complied. Unfortunately, the Marshalls luck once again turned sour. Just as they were about to enter the doorway, the ground shook once again. "Daddy!" Holly screamed.
Rich was thrown off balance, but in a valiant effort, he shoved his daughter through the doorway, saving her just as the portal closed. But in the process, something strange happened to Rich and Bill. While the quake was still going on, another doorway somehow opened up, and Rich and Bill stumbled through it, head first. To make matters worse, the portal closed right behind them, suspending them between worlds. Their back half was still where the black Sleestak had trapped them, but their front end was somewhere else. They were still alive, but they did not know where. Rich looked to his right, and he could see yet another crystal table, on the wall. Bill was lodged just under and slightly to the left of the table, to Richs right. Rich knew that the way to freedom had something to do with that table. Unfortunately, the table was just out of their reach.
Bill struggled to free himself, and in the process, a loose button on his shirt fell off. When it hit the ground, it exploded. Rich then realized where he was the other universe, and based on the existence of the crystal table, he believed he was in the alternate Land of the Lost, complete with its own Marshalls. Rich did not understand why he and his son had not exploded themselves, but he theorized that their being alive had something to do with a residual effect of being in a time doorway. "Add that to the list of mysteries of the Land of the Lost," Rich thought to himself.
Rich was about to say something reassuring to his son, but before he could speak, another aftershock hit, and he saw three green crystals fall off the table. One fell toward him, and he was able to catch it, but the other two hit the floor. When the crystals hit the ground, he somehow found himself in a state of flux. He could no longer speak, and he could barely move. It was as if time slowed down for him dramatically. Judging by the lack of communication with his son, he assumed Bill was in the same predicament. Rich and Bill were helpless. For now, the lives of the Marshall men were in the hands of the only person who knew where they were Holly.
The quake had thrown Holly off balance. Rich had pushed her through the doorway, but to her horror, the Marshall men did not follow. Holly was back in the Eniks cave, and all alone. She figured Enik would return any second, so she had to regroup. Only one thought was in her head, "help Bill and Daddy." But the big question was how to help them. Normally, she would turn to Enik, but clearly, that was no longer an option. "The black Sleestak," she thought, "I cant trust him."
Fearing for her safety, and thinking Enik would return at any moment, Holly retreated back to the Marshalls cave to think. She was only 12 years old, and she was scared. She had no knowledge of the doorways, and had no clue what had happened to her family. "Halfway through," she said aloud. The thoughts flooded her mind until she finally thought of someone who could help SLatch. Aside from Enik, SLatch was the only Sleestak with intelligence. Plus, Rich had saved his life from the Sleestak god. SLatch did not appear to be evil, but then again, neither did Enik. Still, with nowhere else to turn, Holly decided to take the chance.
Finding SLatch was not too difficult. He had told the Marshalls he was heading toward a temple near the Lost City to learn more about his heritage and to study the pylons and time doorways. To her relief, Holly found SLatch right where he was supposed to be. "SLatch!" she shouted in excitement, "You gotta help Bill and Daddy!"
"Holly Marshall, to what are you referring?" SLatch asked.
Holly filled him in. "Interesting," SLatch said when she was done, "so it would seem that my ancestors were a deceptive race of people, bent on conquest. I was unaware of this aspect of my peoples history, though it does help explain their destruction."
"But can you help Bill and Daddy?" Holly asked.
"Let me examine the situation." SLatch proceeded to a crystal table he had set up, and touched a few crystals. Suddenly a window opened and Holly and SLatch could see Bill and Rich, trapped in a wall. "Can you help them?" Holly asked.
"Not directly," he explained. "Enik was quite correct in his assessment of this other universe. I have studied this universe as well. The quake released your father and brother from one trap, to another. They escaped Eniks trap in the portal, but became trapped halfway between universes. Half of their bodies are in the other universe, and half are in this universe. And to answer your next question, I do know how to restore your father and brother to our universe.
"Notice that the crystal table to the side of your father has three green crystals missing. To help your family, the green crystals must be returned to the crystal table next to your father. However, any attempt by you or I to enter that universe would result in our own destruction, doing your father and brother no good. It would seem that only crystals can exist in both universes."
"But theres gotta be a way to help them," Holly said.
"Like I said before, out of curiosity, I have been studying this universe. I have even tried to create a way to travel there and back safely, though I have never tested it."
"Then Ill test it." Holly volunteered.
"You are a brave child Holly Marshall, but even if you successfully make it to the other universe, you may not be able to help your father and brother. You will be disoriented. You will not even be in solid form. And most important, you will not be able to pick up the crystals by yourself."
"But if I cant get to the crystals, how can I help Bill and Daddy?" Holly asked.
"There is only one way. You must make contact with your counterpart. Unfortunately, the machine will not allow for direct communications. The Marshalls of that world will be able to see you, but you will not be able to talk to them directly. Only by getting inside your personal counterpart, will you be able to explain your ordeal. I have observed your familys counterparts, and I believe they will help."
"But how can I get inside her?"
"It is simple. To your counterpart, you will appear to be floating, like what you humans call a ghost. Simply float directly inside her body, and you will be able to communicate. But bewareyour disorientation will make it difficult to clearly convey your message. You must stay focused on the thought of helping your father and brother. Picture the location of the cave in which they are trapped and your thoughts will linger with your counterpart for a short time after you separate. She will be able to lead her family to the cave where your father and brother are trapped."
Holly concentrated on SLatchs words. She was scared, but knew her father and brother needed her. She briefly thought about Enik, and how she could not trust him. She thought about the cave and the image of her father and brother trapped. She thought of her time in the time doorway, and how she could see a road with cars on it. But one thought dominated Hollys mindhelp Bill and Daddy. She turned to SLatch. "Im ready."
SLatch motioned Holly toward the machine. "One more thing Holly Marshall. In the other universe, your brothers counterpart is called Will, not Bill, and your fathers counterpart is called Rick, not Rich. Perhaps it would be wise to refer to them by those names. It will be easier for you to convey your message."
Holly turned to SLatch as she stepped into the machine. "Right. Ill do anything to get them to help Will and Daddy."
With that, Holly focused her mind on what she had to do. Finally, SLatch activated his machine, sending Holly on the ride of her life.
In the known universe, Rick, Will, and Holly were sleeping as peacefully as possible when they were rudely awoken by an earthquake. Rick quickly rose out of his homemade bed and looked for his children. Thinking as fast as he could, he ordered his children to get under their beds. Will quickly ducked under his bed, while Rick shielded Holly with his body under hers. Filled with fear, Holly begged Rick to make the tremor stop, but Rick could do nothing, except comfort his daughter as best as he could.
When the quake ended, Rick nudged his children out of the cave before the aftershocks hit. The first aftershock came just as the family was heading outside, and they ducked for safety near a boulder at the base of the cave. When the tremor finally stopped, Rick helped Holly through some minor queasiness and the Marshalls began to clean up. Will was upset that a homemade pipe system he and Rick had worked on for the past two weeks was damaged. While Will speculated as to whether the quake was caused by a pylon, Rick checked the bamboo pipes, and assured his son that the damage was minor. Will agreed, and plotted out a strategy to fix the pipes, all while thinking to himself the day would be fairly uneventful, or at least as uneventful a day as possible in the Land of the Lost. However, his calm demeanor turned to concern as he saw a strange, fuzzy apparition in the bushes.
* * * *
In the parallel universe, after SLatch activated his machine, Holly felt disoriented. The only thought in her mind was to get her familys counterparts to help her father and brother. At first she thought nothing happened, because nothing seemed to change. But upon a further examination, she saw that SLatch was gone, and so was his machine. She also realized that she was floating.
Holly decided to head toward the cave. If this universe were truly identical, then the cave would be the first place to look for her double. She arrived expecting to find lookalikes of her family, but she was still startled by the amazing resemblance. She stared for a minute at Bills double, reminding herself that he was named Will. Will and Richs double were identical in every way, except they were wearing different clothes. Holly recognized the clothes as identical to those her family keeps in the spare bag. Holly continued to look for her double, but found that she was nowhere to be seen, but suddenly she noticed that Will was staring directly at her.
"Hey!" Will said, alarmed. Holly tried to smile, but she started to feel disoriented, and when Will turned to his father, she decided to continue searching for her counterpart.
Rick walked over to his son, to investigate. "Whats the matter, Will?" he asked, concerned, "are you all right?"
Will saw that the entity was gone, and assumed he was just seeing things.
"What are you seeing?" asked Rick.
"I thought I saw . . . a face, in the bush," Will replied.
"What did the face look like?"
Meanwhile, Richs Holly suddenly spotted her double, and began to float toward her. Will saw what was happening and Rick followed his sons eyes until he too saw the apparition floating toward his daughter. Ricks Holly was cleaning up, and did not notice what was happening. "HOLLY!" Rick warned.
Ricks Holly looked up and saw the floating object. She backed away in fear. The action also scared her double, so Richs Holly backed off. Ricks Holly quickly retreated to the cave to hide, while Rick and Will speculated about what they saw. But the conversation quickly ended as they heard Holly scream from the cave.
The Marshall men ran up to the cave to find a terrified Holly staring up at the apparition. "Daddy, make it go away," Holly begged, "make it go away Daddy!"
Richs Holly could see that her counterpart was scared. She would be scared too if the situation were reversed. But she felt the pull of her own universe, and was having trouble concentrating. The only way to communicate was through her counterpart, and although she did not want to scare Ricks Holly, time was running out, so she decided that with or without permission, she had to speak to Rick and Will. So as Ricks Holly moved toward her family, Richs Holly floated right inside her counterpart. The two Hollys spoke as one as Rick and Will looked on in amazement.
"Help me! Please! Help me," said the Hollys. At that moment, Holly from the parallel universe floated up and over the heads of the confused Marshalls.
Rick and Will rushed toward their Holly. Rick waved his hands and ordered the parallel Holly to move away. Will asked who made the comment, while Rick moved to see if his daughter was all right. Holly explained that the entity was inside her. Up until that point, Richs Holly had not appeared recognizable to Ricks family, but the contact somehow made her more visible. For the first time, the Marshalls could see Richs Holly clearly. Will suspected a Sleestak trick, but something about the link made his sister realize that the image was not bad. "Dad, she wants to get inside of me," said the 12 year old.
Rick addressed the floating Holly. "What do you want?" he demanded.
Unable to speak, Richs Holly pointed to her mouth. Rick was always an intelligent man, and immediately figured out that Richs Holly was trying to communicate. He convinced his daughter that the parallel Holly would not hurt her, and once again, the two Hollys merged.
With time short, Richs Holly wasted no time as she spoke. "Im weak, I cant hang on much longer," she said, as the Marshall men watched.
"Where are you?" asked Rick, "Where are you Holly? We cant see you very clearly. You must be someplace else. Where are you?"
With her concentration failing, Richs Holly struggled to continue. "Halfway through," she said, "were halfway through." As she relived the nightmare, she screamed, startling her audience. "Help Will and Daddy, help Will and Daddy, help Will and Daddy," Richs Holly pleaded, as she floated out of her double. Ricks Holly fell into her fathers arms.
When Richs Holly sensed her double was a little stronger, the two Hollys merged again and the visitor continued her story. "The black Sleestak," she said, "the black Sleestak, were going home. Dont trust him." Rick and Will did not understand, and Rick speculated that she was talking to someone else. Will noted that the Sleestak are not black, but Rick focused on his daughter, and asked the right question.
"Holly, where are you?"
Holly started at the beginning. "Im in the mountain. I can see the road down in the valley. I can see cars on the road."
Will was excited. "DAD! She can see some cars!" he repeated.
But Rick concentrated on the problem. "Help us find you Holly. Tell us, where are you? What can you see? Where is this mountain?"
But Richs Holly was having difficulty maintaining contact with her counterpart. "Oh help Will and Daddy, help Will and Daddy," was all she could say as she felt herself pulled out of Ricks Hollys body. With her last bit of energy, she said, "the green stonesI cant hang on anymore. Im slipping. Im slipping." Rick tried one more time to ask where she was, but Richs Holly floated away, leaving one final important message, "Dont touch them. Dont touch them. Dont touch them. Dont touch them."
Richs Holly knew that if these Marshalls were anything like her own family, they would help. She spent the last few seconds trying to communicate the location of Bill and Rich to her counterpart. Finally, she blacked out, and awoke to find herself back with SLatch.
Her efforts were not in vein. Ricks Holly did indeed get the message, and somehow, a temporary lingering link between the two Hollys enabled Ricks Holly to lead her father and brother to Rich and Bill. Realizing what they had to do, Rick and Will followed a dazed Holly as she led them on a quest to help their troubled counterparts.
Rich and Bill Marshall were in deep trouble. They were virtually immobile, and Rich had a feeling time was short. He could hear a grinding sound, and that made him think that whatever was suspending he and Bill between worlds would soon cease, likely killing them. He also heard a car horn, but considering his predicament, he was more concerned with his and Bills safety than with getting home. He thought about the crystal table to Bills left, and wished he could reach over and put the three green crystals back in the table. He had one in his hand, but the other two had fallen to the ground.
Suddenly Rich heard something strange. People were coming toward him. "Maybe were part of the way to Earth," he thought. But as the humans approached, Rich was surprised to see that the people approaching looked exactly like himself and Bill.
Ricks Holly had indeed been successful in leading her family to the cave where their counterparts were trapped. Unfortunately, the remnants of her link with her double severed completely, rendering her too emotionally distraught to enter the cave. Rick and Will realized that they had to go in, and explored until they came into a room with a green wall, astonished to see Rich and Bill stuck, about eight feet up.
Rich realized immediately that he was looking down at his counterparts. He was not sure how they knew what happened, but he was glad they were here. He only wished he could speak to them.
"Aw no," a stunned Will said softly. He turned to his father and asked, "Are theyWE, real?" Will started toward them only to be grabbed by Rick, who reminded Will not to touch the other Marshalls. Rich listened as Rick and Will discussed how he and Bill were almost identical, with subtle differences, such as wearing clothes from a bag they had lost when they went over the waterfall.
Although Rich was helpless, the sight of
his counterparts offered him a glimmer of hope. Though he still could
not speak, he was fascinated at Wills and Ricks conversation.
"DAD! They moved!" said Will.
Both Rich and Rick knew that time was of the essence. "Whatever were gonna do, were gonna have to do it now," Rick decided.
"But what?" asked Will. Then, to Richs delight, Rick saw the green crystals.
"Its got to be the green crystals," Rick decided. "Now theres two of them on the floor, and theres one up in his hand. And theres three empty spaces in the matrix table. Thats got to be it."
Rich could not believe it, but apparently, Rick and Will had figured out exactly what to do. His feelings of hope turned to excitement as Will picked up the two crystals on the ground, carefully got up on Ricks shoulders, and placed them in the table. The men heard a humming sound, indicating they were doing the right thing. But now, everyone was nervous as the hardest task was yet to come. Rick had to hoist Will on his shoulders, and the teen had to carefully take the last crystal out of Richs hand and place it onto the table. Rick warned his son not to touch Rich, theorizing that their counterparts were made of antimatter. Though Richs past experience with Ricks Holly in the Pylon Express had taught him that Rick was not exactly correct, he was just glad his counterpart knew that Wills touch would indeed be deadly.
Rich wished he could simply drop the crystal on the ground, but he was just unable to do so. Will was nervous, but Rick prodded him, and he carefully reached into Richs hand and successfully grabbed the crystal without making contact with Rich. Will placed it on the table, and suddenly a loud noise was heard.
Rick and Will looked up to see that the room had changed. Their trapped counterparts were gone, and the crystal table which was on the wall, was suddenly on the floor. Realizing they had done all they could, they returned to the cave.
* * * *
As soon as Will put the green crystal back in the table, Rich heard a booming noise, and felt as if he was being pulled through time and space. But when the feelings of disorientation ended, he opened his eyes and realized he was back in Eniks cave, though the black Sleestak was nowhere to be seen. "I can move," he said to himself. Rich noticed that Eniks time doorway was severely damaged, presumably by what had just happened with his family. Immediately, he checked on Bill, who like his father, was slowly getting up.
"Bill! Are you ok?" Rich asked, rushing to his sons side.
Bill slowly stood up. "Yeah. I feel like I just got hit by a truck, but Im not hurt. Dad, what do you think happened in there? Were those our doubles?"
"I cant say for sure son, but it looks that way."
"But, how did they know?" Bill wondered.
"Daddy!" a voice called from the distance. Suddenly Holly came bursting into the cave, and right into her fathers arms. She was crying.
"Its ok honey," Rich said.
"I thought I was alone." Holly said.
"You should consider yourself fortunate, Rich Marshall," SLatch said, as he entered the room.
Bill walked toward the Sleestak. "SLatch, do we have you to thank for this?"
"I believe that you owe most of the gratitude to your daughter," he replied.
Rich smiled at Holly. "It sounds like you have an interesting story to tell."
Holly answered. "Right now, I just want to go back to the cave."
"That sounds great to me," said Bill, "Ive had enough of the Lost City for awhile." With that, the Marshalls said goodbye to SLatch, and returned to High Bluff.
Back in the cave, Rich, Bill and Holly were finishing up dinner when they started to talk again about the incident with their counterparts.
"Dad," Bill asked, "do you think well ever see the other Marshalls again?"
"Your guess is as good as mine Bill," Rich answered.
"I still dont get why Enik turned out to be so bad," Bill commented.
"Yeah, Ill never trust that mean old black Sleestak again," said Holly.
"Well, we didnt know his true colors until it was too late, but thats a mistake we wont make again. But in a way, we have Enik to thank for our rescue." Rich added.
"What?" asked Holly and Bill, simultaneously.
Rich continued, smiling. "Well, a while back, we helped the other Marshalls out by saving their Holly from entering our universe. Had we not done that, she would have died, and our Holly would have had no double to communicate with, and we wouldnt have been able to escape from that wall. Eniks plan wouldve worked." Bill and Holly nodded, understanding.
"I just feel bad we didnt make it home," said Holly.
"Dont worry, honey. We were close this time. But that reminds me of something else I wanted to talk to you two about. Enik doesnt know we made it back here, and I say we should keep it that way. With the time doorway in the Lost City damaged, theres really no reason to go there anymore, so well have to find another way home. But thanks to the other Marshalls, we still have hope."
On that note, after the Marshalls spent a few more minutes talking, and soon went to bed.
Shortly after the incident with their counterparts, both sets of Marshalls experienced some major changes. In the known universe, Rick was experimenting with a newly discovered pylon when to his surprise he opened up a time doorway to Earth. At the time, Will and Holly were outside the pylon getting a snack, and before Rick could even call to his children, an earthquake struck. As his children watched in horror, Rick lost his balance and fell through the open portal. Before Will and Holly could follow, the crystal table which controlled the doorway fell over, spilling all the crystals on the pylon floor, and closing the doorway. With no idea how to repair the damage to the pylon, Will and Holly could not follow their father, and for the first time, they were completely alone.
Ricks accident also had implications on Earth. When Rick fell through the doorway, that Land of the Losts balance was interrupted, and it could only be restored if Rick returned, or if another human entered the Land.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, the Marshalls disappearance had not gone unnoticed. Ricks brother Jack had spent the last six months searching for his lost relatives, retracing Ricks route step by step. At about the same time Rick returned home, Jacks own raft was ravaged by an earthquake, and like his family before him, he plunged over the waterfall, through an open time doorway and into the Land of the Lost. The two brothers had just missed each other, with Jack taking Ricks place, restoring balance to the Land of the Lost.
Will and Holly soon found Jack, and reunited with their uncle, they took up residence in a temple near the Lost City, since the cave was destroyed in the quake that sent Rick home. As the years passed, they resumed their quest to return home.
* * * *
In the parallel universe, at virtually the same moment Rick returned to Earth, the Marshall family also became victim of a life-altering quake. While returning home from gathering supplies, Bill, Rich, and Holly were walking back to the cave when they heard the familiar roar of Grumpy. The dinosaur saw the humans, and started to charge. "Bill, Holly, move!" Rich ordered, and pushed them toward some rocks that were nearby and small enough to evade Grumpy.
As the humans ran for their lives, Grumpy charged. Holly tried to keep up with her father and brother, who were slowing down to allow her to do so, but she tripped. Rich and Bill screamed wildly to allow Holly a chance to escape while Grumpy chased the men. The plan worked as Grumpy followed Rich and Bill, who took cover under the nearby rocks. Grumpy looked confused, but that confusion turned to anger when saw Holly out in the open.
Luckily, there was a pylon nearby. "Holly! Run, get to the pylon!" shouted Rich, as his daughter hurriedly complied. As Grumpy chased, Holly ran to the pylon, turned the key, and stepped inside before the T-Rex could get to her. Grumpy bit the pylon, and received an electrical shock for his troubles. The beast walked away dazed, and Rich and Bill started toward the pylon, while Holly looked around. She had never been in this particular pylon before, and touched a few crystals on the table. To her amazement, she looked up, and found herself staring at a doorway to Earth. "Daddy! Bill! Come quick!" she shouted.
But just as in the known universe, before Bill and Rich could get into the pylon, a quake hit, and like Rick, Holly was thrown into the doorway toward Earth as the table fell. Rich and Bill were extremely upset at the loss of Holly, though they did see enough to know she made it home. Rich prayed Holly would find her Uncle John and his family, and stay with them until they could reunite. Rich swore that nothing would stop him from returning home with his son, and he knew in his heart that he would see Holly again.
With Hollys departure, the parallel universes Land of the Lost needed a human to replace Holly. Jacks counterpart, John Marshall, was also searching for his lost loved ones. Like Jack, John fell into the Land of the Lost during the quake. It was not long before he found Rich and Bill, and although they were happy to see each other, they were all sorry over where they were. In a departure from the events in the known universe, the quake that sent Holly home did not also destroy the Marshalls cave. Thus, the family continued to live in their cave, looking for away to escape the Land of the Lost.
* * * *
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the parallel universe, Enik was still fuming that the Marshalls of the known universe dared, even unknowingly, to meddle in his plan. He never learned the fate of the Marshalls from his universe, but he really did not care. His time doorway chamber was still damaged, and his efforts to fix it had proven futile. He blamed the humans for his fate.
Robbed of the chance to get home, he decided to focus on the next best thingconcentrating his efforts on revenge on the Marshalls in the known universe. As soon as he could formulate a proper plan, he would destroy those humans. The black Sleestak wanted his act of destruction to be clever enough to be worthy of his intelligence, so he formulated a plan that would require some ingenuity, special technology, and proper timing. Meanwhile, he kept a low profile while he worked out the details. Five years later, the timing was right.
It was an ordinary morning in the known universes Land of the Lost. The sun was rising, and three pterodactyls shrieked as they flew across the horizon. The sound of their cackle woke Will up for yet another day in this strange world. Jack awoke next and Holly and Chaka followed shortly thereafter.
"So whats on the agenda for today?" Jack asked, rubbing his hands together.
"How about we go exploring some of the caves north of the river?" Will suggested.
"I hate that place," said Holly. But the family had not completely charted that territory yet, and unexplored territories always meant potential chances to get home, which always interested Holly. Will gave her a look that playfully suggested she not complain, but smiled when she quickly added, "But who knows? Maybe well find something interesting."
"You never know," Jack said, joining in on the conversation.
"Yeah, when have we not found something interesting in this place?" Will added.
"Chaka want food," the Paku said.
Jack laughed. "Ok my friend. Well eat breakfast first." With that comment, the Marshalls shared a laugh, and prepared their meal.
* * * *
Meanwhile, in the Lost City, the Sleestak leader was in the Library of Skulls. "Skull of Prophecy, the Marshalls still occupy the Sleestak sacred temple. Is there anyway we can rid ourselves of them? Tell us what is in store for the future of the Sleestak."
The skulls eyes glowed a shade of red, and smoke rose up around the Sleestak leader as the skull began to speak. "Soon the Sleestak will receive a visitor from another universe. Like the Altrusian called Enik, with whom he shares a name, he is from the past, and of Altrusian descent. He will have a plan to destroy the Marshalls once and for all."
The Sleestak leader spread the word to his fellow Sleestak, and the waiting began.
* * * *
In the alternate universe, Enik was finally finishing his plan of revenge on the Marshalls. "Finally, those annoying humans will pay for what they did to me, with their lives," he said aloud. Enik continued his monologue while he worked. "It may have taken me five years, but soon, revenge will be mine. I was so brilliant before. I had the humans right where I wanted them. But their blasted counterparts dared interfere. I hold them all responsible for the destruction of my time doorway chamber. They will pay for that interference. These humans are no match for my Altrusian intellect, and at long last, my modifications to SLatchs primitive machine are complete. My transuniversal chamber will enable me to assume solid form, and move about freely in the other universe for twelve hours. Revenge will finally be mine." And with that, Enik stepped into his machine, set the controls for the Lost City, and vanished.
The black Sleestak emerged in the known universe near his cave, and found himself surrounded by green Sleestak. Just by looking at them, he decided that they were inferior, as they could only speak in a primitive Altrusian dialect. Enik decided that the best place to begin was in the Library of Skulls. He was intrigued that the Lost City was so much like his own, and found the Library with ease. Soon, he met face to face with the Sleestak leader.
"Are you the one the skull spoke of?" the leader asked, in English.
Enik was a bit surprised, and took solace in the fact that at least one of these primitives could speak in a more advanced language. "You know of me?" Enik asked.
"The skull spoke of a stranger from another universe would arrive with a plan to rid us of the humans."
Enik looked down upon this leader, but he was impressed with the skulls. Though he did not like the Sleestak, he felt that with a twelve-hour time limit, he should use them as allies. "I am Enik, and I do come from another universe. To explain more would be beyond your understanding, but know that I come to seek revenge on the Marshalls, who once interfered with my plans and caused the destruction of my means for returning home. You will assist me."
The Sleestak leader was only too willing to comply. "The Marshalls have been a threat to the Sleestak for too long. We will do anything to get rid of them."
Pleased, Enik responded. "Excellent. My plan is simple, but time is short. I require a Marshall. Capture one of them and bring the human to me."
"We will obey, Enik."
"On second thought, capture the human female. She is the one I prefer."
"It will be done."
The Sleestak leader then ordered several of his soldiers to attack the Marshalls.
* * * *
As the sun set on another day in the Land of the Lost, the Marshalls returned to the Temple to a rude greeting.
"SLEESTAK!" Holly cried out, as the too familiar hissing filled her ears.
"Chaka! Light some torches! Will! Give me a hand!" ordered Jack. Chaka ran into the temple to get the torches, and Will, Holly, and Jack tried to fight off the attackers. Finally, the Paku returned with three lit torches, and quickly gave two to Will and Jack.
After the Altrusian people destroyed themselves, they retreated to the Lost City and other caves. Due to the constant darkness, when they de-evolved into Sleestak, their eyes became very sensitive to light, which is also the reason they rarely left the Lost City during the day. Thus, the light of the torches were valuable weapons against a Sleestak attack. Jack and Will shined the torches near their attackers eyes, and the Sleestak retreated. But the damage was done. When the dust settled, Holly was gone.
"Let me go!" yelled Holly as she struggled in vein against her Sleestak captors.
"No Holly Marshall, I dont think well be doing that." Enik replied, as he stepped into view.
Holly looked up and was surprised to see a black Sleestak. The voice sounded exactly like Eniks, but clearly, this was not the Altrusian. "Who are you?" she asked.
"I am Enik, your superior."
"Youre not Enik." Holly replied, having a strange sense of dj vu.
"I am not that impostor that goes by that name in this universe," replied the black Sleestak.
"This universe?" asked Holly. Suddenly, she remembered her encounter with her counterpart. Although Holly did not really remember what her double had said to Rick and Will, her family filled the gaps in her memory as best as they could. The comment about the black Sleestak always stuck out in Hollys mind, due to the fact that no black Sleestak existed in her universe. Holly snapped her fingers. "Wait! The black Sleestak! Dont trust him," she said, repeating the eerie words from a few years ago.
"I see my reputation precedes me," said Enik. "I am pleased that you at least have the intellect to grasp my origins. You dont know how tiresome the hissing of the Sleestak can be. They are so primitive. Its really a shame I will have to destroy you."
"What do you want from me?" asked Holly.
"Revenge of course. You have already figured out that I come from the same universe as those Marshalls that came to you for help a long time ago. I sent them through the doorway, fooling them into believing they were going home. But I was really sending them to your world. I wanted the pleasure of seeing them die, just as they thought they were accomplishing their ultimate goal. You see, Holly Marshall, in my universe, instead of hiding their emotions, the Altrusian Empire used their technology to invade other worlds. But I was trapped in my infernal future like my counterpart. I met the Marshalls and gained their trust, so I could learn about humans, and lead a glorious invasion of their world upon my return to my own time. And as I conquered the time doorways, I decided to eliminate the Marshalls, my only threat, in a way I thoughtironic. But that cursed quake interfered with my plan when it was only half complete, and then you and your family set them free before I could finish what I started. Though I dont know what happened to the humans of your universe, I do know that your interference irreparably damaged my time doorway matrix, preventing me from returning home. And I blame you. Had you not meddled, the Marshalls would be dead, and I would be back in my own time, leading a glorious invasion of Earth. But now, I will have my vengeance."
Holly was astonished. "My uncle and brother will stop you, somehow."
Enik laughedan emotion Holly was unaccustomed to seeing from anyone in the Altrusian race. "Your uncle? No matter. Humans all look alike. And they are of no consequence. In fact, I am counting on their attempt to rescue you."
"What are you talking about?" said Holly, a bit frightened.
"Holly Marshall, we are going on a tripto my universe." Enik then pulled out a device shaped like a gun. "This weapon contains Altrusian crystal technology. Further explanation would be beyond your grasp. You will be able to survive twelve of your hours in my universe. I am keeping you alive as bait. Your family will be left instructions on how to save you. When they see you alive, they will come, but no one will tell them they are in the wrong universe. They will die just at the moment when they think they will succeed. What failed once before will succeed this time." Enik was enjoying himself, but suddenly realized that his twelve hours in Hollys universe were almost finished, so he needed to implement his plan immediately. "Time grows short. We will now depart for my universe." So he zapped Holly with his crystal weapon and as she fell into unconsciousness, he activated his recall mechanism, sending the two to the parallel universe.
But the black Sleestak did not notice that his counterpart had been silently listening to the majority of the conversation.
"Uncle Jack, they got Holly! We have to get her back!" Will shouted to his uncle. The Sleestak attack was not unusual for the Marshalls, but the humans never got used to it. The Sleestak hated the Marshalls, and the feeling was mutual.
"Chaka no like Sleestak," said the Pakuni.
"Well, well just have to follow standard rescue procedure," said Jack. "Will, gather some torches and crystals. Chaka, you stay here in case Holly escapes. Lets go."
"Not so fast Jack Marshall," bellowed a voice in the distance.
"ENIK!" exclaimed Will.
Jack continued to get some supplies, not looking at Enik. "Enik, wed love to stay and chat, but were a bit short on time. Your Sleestak friends took Holly, and we are going to get her back."
"To quote a human expression Jack Marshall, that is easier said than done," replied the Altrusian.
Jack stopped and made eye contact. "All right. Talk. What is it you are trying to tell us?"
"Holly Marshall is not in the Lost City."
Will moved next to Jack. "Then where is she?" he asked.
"Come on Enik, out with it," said Jack, "where have the Sleestak taken Holly?"
The Altrusian continued. "She has been taken to a parallel universe. You cannot retrieve her. I am afraid she will be dead in 11 hours, 30 minutes."
"What parallel universe? Who took her?" Will asked.
Enik explained what he knew about the parallel universe. As Jack and Will listened, he continued. "My people have known about this universe for some time. We have always been disturbed because our counterparts turned to conquest, while we chose logic. Ultimately, both our peoples destroyed themselves. Apparently, my counterpart was also trapped in his future. He kidnapped Holly Marshall and took her to his universe, in a fit of vengeance."
"Vengeance? What did we ever do to him?" asked Jack.
"The black Sleestak," Will said out loud, remembering the past. "Enik, is your counterpart black?"
"I see no relevance to that question Will Marshall, but yes."
Will turned to his uncle and snapped his
fingers. "Jack, remember I told you the story about those other
Marshalls that my dad and I helped get home?"
"It is conceivable that we are talking about the same parallel dimension," Enik replied.
"Last time," Will added, "Hollys counterpart somehow communicated to us and led us to her father and brother. She said if we touched them, we would kill them. Dad thought they were made of antimatter."
"But that wasnt quite right," Jack continued. "If they were antimatter, then they would have exploded when they made any contact with our universe, be it the air, the rocks, or people. Yet they were able to breathe our air and hold the same crystals we use."
"Logical deduction Jack Marshall," said Enik. "Crystals are the one substance able to exist in both universes. But I still do not see the logic in Will Marshalls initial question about a black Sleestak."
Will answered. "Enik, dont you see? Hollys counterpart mentioned a black Sleestak that could not be trusted. Your counterpart must be that Sleestak, bent on revenge on us for stopping him before!"
"That, is logical," said Enik.
Jack spoke up, "Enik, you said that Holly has 11 hours 30 minutes left. How do you know that?" Jack was almost afraid to hear the answer, since logically, Holly should be dead upon contact with the other universe.
Enik explained what he knew about the black Sleestaks weapon and continued. "Soon, the Sleestak will contact you, hoping to lure you unsuspecting to her. My counterpart wishes you to see Holly Marshall alive, so you will follow without question. The Sleestak will provide you with a portal to her, though they will not tell you about the danger of crossing into the other universe. They do not know that you are aware that Holly is in the other universe, and will expect you to follow blindly. Since you have not been properly prepared by my counterpart, you cannot survive in the other universe. You would die, and Holly will watch, and she would die herself when the twelve hours runs out."
"Why Holly?" asked Jack.
"Because the other Holly used our Holly to stop the black Sleestak the first time," answered Will. "Remember? Vengeance."
"That is correct Will Marshall," commented Enik.
"Well, well just have to put a stop to that," said Jack. "Enik, hit me with that gizmo of your counterparts. Ill go there and get Holly myself."
"It is not that simple Jack Marshall. I do
not have that technology."
"I wont accept that. There has to be a way to help her," said Jack.
"Any attempt to travel to the other universe would be impractical and illogical," said Enik. "There are too many variables. But perhaps"
"Spill it Enik," said Jack.
"My people vowed never to interfere with our repulsive counterparts, but I am honor bound to stop my counterpart from interfering in this universe. Altrusian Code requires me to help you. I may not have a machine as advanced as the one my counterpart used to survive in this dimension, but there is a machine, similar to the one used by Holly Marshalls counterpart to communicate with you, that you can use to communicate with your counterparts."
"But thats impossible," said Will. "Our counterparts made it home."
"No," replied Enik. "They did not. When you rescued them, you merely sent them back to this valley, though in their universe. Only their Holly Marshall ever made it home, several weeks later, at the same moment Rick Marshall exited in this universe."
The image of what Enik just said made Will
pause. "That means that in the other universe, I have a counterpart, and
my dads counterpart is still there. Does Uncle Jack have a counterpart
"Ok, then well have to get our counterparts to help," said Jack. "Enik, you said you have a machine that will let us communicate. Show me where it is, and Ill go."
"No," said Will, addressing his uncle. "Ill do it. Jack, it makes sense. I helped them out before. They owe me one." Jack could see he would not be able to talk Will out of going, and time was running short, so he agreed.
"Then it is settled," said Enik, "Will Marshall will come with me, and through his counterpart, shall attempt to help Holly. I will show you what to do, and tell you what to say."
Will agreed. "Lets go." He took a few steps and stopped. "Uncle Jack, what will you say when the Sleestak contact you?"
Jack responded. "I was thinking about that. If I refuse to go into the portal, the Sleestak will know something is up. So Chaka and I will be elsewhere when the Sleestak come. Theyll think were searching for Holly, and will look for us somewhere in the Lost City. But well be nowhere near there. Well meet up near the Medusa River when youre done with Enik. Ill try to think of a backup plan in the meantime."
Will nodded, and followed Enik to the Lost City. The Altrusian gave Will instructions on how to communicate with the other Marshalls. Will was also instructed to look for the humans at High Bluff, since the cave was not destroyed in the parallel universe. Only one thought went through Wills head as he stepped into the chamber that would take him to the other universehelp Holly. And with that thought, Will went through the looking glass.
Richs daughter was never far from his thoughts in the years since she went home. Part of him felt guilty that he was not able to raise his daughter, but at the same time, he was glad she made it out of the dangerous Land of the Lost. In his heart, he knew that the first thing Holly would do would be to find Johns family. She would live with them, and would be safe. But that knowledge did not make Rich miss his daughter any less.
Rich never stopped blaming himself for his familys presence in the Land of the Lost. His job led them to the Colorado River that day. And though Richs burden to get his children home had been cut in half, his guilt had not decreased in the slightest thanks to Johns presence. John was trapped in the Land of the Lost because he was searching for Richs family. Because of Rich, Johns family was without a father, as was Holly.
To his credit, John had adapted to the Land of the Lost well. Rich and Bill had been very helpful in educating him. John definitely had the Marshall spirit, and was a survivor. Like his brother and nephew, John would not rest until he found a way home.
For Rich, this day was as normal a day in the Land of the Lost as possible. Grumpys roar could be heard in the distance, and the triple moons were giving way to another sunny day.
"Penny for your thoughts," Bill said as he approached his father.
"Guess," Rich answered, and Bill knew. Rich was thinking about Holly.
"Dad, Im sure shes all right," said Bill, trying to comfort his father, yet again.
"I know she is, son, but that doesnt mean I cant miss her." Rich could not help but think of the irony of this conversation. When they first arrived in the Land of the Lost, Rich had been the pillar of strength for his children to rely on to combat the dangers. They had seen Rich outrun dinosaurs, and wrestle with Sleestaks. Yet since Hollys return home, the scales of strength balanced a bit. Rich had learned not to hide his own insecurities as much, and Bill had grown from a teenager to a man. Having John around also gave Rich someone near his age to talk to, which Rich had never realized how much he missed. Rich was as strong as he ever was, but he allowed himself to rely on his family a bit more.
Bill simply looked to his father and said, "I miss her too."
Thankful for his sons presence, Rich decided to lighten the mood. "Well, if Holly were here, I would let her know that the water jugs need filling, but since she isnt" Rich didnt have to finish. He simply walked over to the jugs, and handed them to his son.
"Great," said Bill, smiling, "thats what I get for opening my big mouth."
"RICH! BILL!" a shout could be heard in the distance. It was John. The father and son rushed over.
"What is it?" Rich asked.
"It was the strangest thing. It looked like Bill, but it wasnt. It was like some image of him."
"DAD! Do you think?" Bill asked, instantly thinking back to his familys betrayal by their Enik. The Marshalls had not even returned to the Lost City since that incident, preferring to take their chances with the pylons, and finding another way home until they could figure out how to neutralize Enik as a threat.
Rich did not need Bill to finish the
thought. "I dont know son. Its not impossible. We did it."
Rich continued, "Remember we told you about the black Sleestak?"
John understood. "Right. You were trapped, and Holly got these other Marshalls to help. That incident is the reason we never went in that Lost City you found. You think thisthing could be one of those Marshalls?"
"If theres one thing about this place Uncle John, anything is possible. If thats my counterpart, his name is Will." Bill said.
"There he is!" yelled Rich, spotting the image again.
Will stared down at his alternate family. He tried to speak, but was unable. He was taken aback by seeing his fathers counterpart and was once again reminded about just how much he missed Rick. But right now, he had a message to deliver. Before Will left, Enik mentioned that these people went by slightly different names. He was advised that when referring to himself or Uncle Jack, to use the names Bill and John. He had to concentrate. He felt himself drawn to his counterpart, and remembered that the only way he could communicate would be to somehow join with him.
Then, Rich helped Will out a bit. "Well, if that is Bills counterpart, then something is wrong, and he needs our help." He turned to his son, "Bill, remember how Holly said she communicated with our counterparts? If you stand still, hell be able to talk through you."
Bill looked at his father. "I cant say I like the idea of another person inside me, but I guess I owe him one." So Bill stepped away from his father, and allowed Will to float inside him.
"Not much time. Help Holly," said Will/Bill.
"Holly?" John asked.
"Twelve hourstimes running out," continued Will/Bill.
"Sure," Rich answered, "in their universe, Holly must not have gone home." He addressed the visitor, by his true name. "Will! Where is Holly? How can we help her?"
Somehow, Will understood Richs question. He found it very hard to concentrate, but he knew that these people would help. He tried to deliver his message, hoping that Rich was as intelligent as his father. "Lost City. Enik took Holly. Shes still alive Using her as bait for me . and..UncleJohn. Need your help. Has weapon. Times short. Crystals are universal."
"I think I get it," said Rich. "John, somehow, Enik, our Enik, made it to the other universe and took their Holly."
"Right," said John, "and if Im following correctly, somehow he has a way to allow her to survive here, but only temporarily, and their Bill, Rich, and John cant help her because just coming here would kill them."
"More like just Bill and John," said Rich. "If my theory is right, my counterpart either died or made it home, like Holly did here. Since Holly and Bill both have counterparts in the their Land of the Lost, the only explanation is either your counterpart never arrived, or mine went home."
"How do you figure that?" John asked.
"Because," Rich continued, "he mentioned you. Whatever this trap is, its for him and his uncle, not his father. Remember, this is a closed universe. If your counterpart came into their Land of the Lost, and Bills and Hollys counterparts are still in their Land of the Lost, then that means my counterpart left their Land of the Lost. Our lives have paralleled for the most part. If we lost a family member in a pylon, Ill bet anything that they did too. And besides, call it parent intuition, but he hasnt seen his father in a long time. I could just tell by the way he looked at me." Suddenly, Rich felt a deep sorrow for his counterpart. He had always dwelled over his loss of Holly. He could only imagine the guilt he would feel if it were he that escaped, leaving his children behind.
Will had listened at the brothers conversation, and was impressed the logic. Rich was like his father in more than just looks. But time was short, and he felt the pull of his own universe. "Help Holly. I cant hang on." Will then felt himself float above Bills body, and while Bill collapsed into his uncles arms, Will was pulled back to his own universe.
"Are you all right son?" Rich asked.
"It was an experience," Bill replied, "but not something I want to do everyday. What did I say? I meanwhat did Will say?"
"It seems that in their universe, Holly didnt go home. Our old friend Enik kidnapped her, and our counterparts need our help," said John.
"But how will we get her back to her universe?"
Rich spoke up. "Your counterpart gave us a hint a long time ago. Remember how I was holding that crystal when we were trapped in the wall? Will took that crystal out of my hand and put it in the table to release us. That means that whatever the crystals are made of can be held by people in both universes. If we can get a hold of Eniks weapon to open the portal, we can make her a path of crystals to walk on. She can walk on it through the portal, back to her universe."
"The question is, how to get to her?" asked John.
"I have an idea," said Rich. "I think its a safe bet that Enik is expecting a rescue from the other Marshalls. But we havent seen him in years. He is arrogant enough to think we wouldnt stop him. Perhaps we can use Eniks arrogance against him, and pay him back for almost killing us. Heres the plan: Bill, go get that bag with our other clothes. Weve got to make Enik think that you and John are your counterparts."
Rich explained the rest of his plan, and the Marshall men prepared to bring it to fruition.
Holly was scared. Eleven of the twelve hours had elapsed. Enik had just left her alone to think about his plans for her family. She was horrified that the black Sleestak wanted her alive, just to watch her uncle and brother die. As an insurance, Enik placed her in a special net, made out of the same material as the green crystals, so that if Will and Jack did not cross the universal barrier in time, Holly could still be used as bait. The net was very strong, and suspended above the pit that housed the Sleestak god. Once Will and Jack were dead, Enik would simply cut the net and watch Hollys body explode as it made contact with the ground.
Just as Holly was about to lose hope, she saw Will and Jack walking up a cave near her. She noticed they were wearing strange shoes, with crystals on the bottoms of the soles. Holly was proud that her family found a way to survive, and thought to herself that Enik may have underestimated them.
"Will! Uncle Jack!" she called to them, in as low a voice as she could while still being heard.
Bill and John heard the call and moved toward Holly. It had been awhile since Bill had heard his sisters voice, but even five years more mature, he would recognize it anywhere. As the two Marshalls moved toward her, Bill admitted to himself just how much he missed his sister. But sadly, he reminded himself that this was not his Holly.
Dressed like their counterparts, it was virtually impossible to tell the difference between Bill and Will, and John and Jack. The confusion was part of Richs plan to free Holly. Bill and John were to distract Enik, Chaka would free Holly, while Rich had a special mission of his own. But clearly, the plan did not call for deceiving the visiting Marshall.
"Shhh." Bill said, "were not who you think we are."
Holly knew instantly what he meant. These were the other Marshalls. "But how? Dad and Will helped you guys get home."
John spoke up, "they ended up back here. You saved their lives, but no one made it back to Earth."
Holly was curious. "Wheres my counterpart?" she asked.
Bill and John quickly explained the whole thing, and Holly was shocked. She wondered how she would have reacted under the same situation. She remembered that when she went in the Pylon Express, she could have gone home alone, but chose to return to her family. She felt bad for her counterpart. Yet, she also was anxious to see Rich. But time was running short. And none of the Marshalls noticed the black Sleestak walk into the cave.
"How I love family reunions," Enik said as he pointed a weapon at John and Bill.
While John and Bill were attempting to free Holly, Rich was working on getting her back to her family. But that task was beyond his abilities. So he turned to his longtime friend, SLatch, for help.
"What you pose is an interesting problem, Rich Marshall," said SLatch.
"Thats why I came to you. I figured if anyone can figure out how to cross universes, and stay there, you can."
"Like Enik, I too have improved my transuniversal chamber, but returning Holly to her universe will prove difficult. Unless done at the precise moment, she will die."
But Rich would not give up. He had not come so far to be stopped now. "There has to be a way to help her."
"The problem is, Holly is currently in sync with our universe. Although the effect of Eniks machine is temporary, if she returned to her universe before the machine wears off, she would die as quickly as if she had been transported to our universe unaltered."
"We have to be able to do something," said Rich. He would not fail Holly again, even if it was not his Holly.
"Humans are so impatient. I said the problem was difficult, not impossible." SLatch then gave him two devices. "Take these. The first will open a portal to Hollys dimension. The second will reverse the effects of Eniks machine allowing her to enter the portal. But be warned. The device may only be used one time. If you miss, you will not have another chance."
Rich took the devices, thanked SLatch, and headed toward the pit.
The black Sleestak was smugly gloating
over his captives. "You humans never fail to entertain me. I was
planning on your arrival, though not this soon. I must concede that I am
curious as to how you got here. Your Sleestak would not have contacted
you this soon. Tell me what you did."
"Must have been my counterpart. Only one with real intelligence could figure out how to travel through universes, which of course, rules out either of you. No matter."
Bill and John saw Chaka sneaking around to free Holly. John needed to allow Chaka the chance to undo the crystal net, so he had to keep Eniks attention on himself and Bill.
Enik continued his rant, noticing the humans shoes. "My counterpart is clever indeed. I see you have adapted your shoes to enable you to exist in our universe. You must have been very careful not to touch anything. Using green crystals as soles is quite brilliant, but no matter." He pointed his weapon at Bills feet.
Meanwhile, Holly started to feel queasy. Bill took his eyes off Enik, and saw his "sister" was glowing. Bill assumed the reversal of the effects of Eniks machine was complete. Meanwhile, Chaka sneaked around and loosened the crystal net, allowing Holly to escape. But despite the good intention, the Pakus timing could not have been worse. Holly was about to drop to the floor when Bill yelled, "HOLLY NO! HANG ON TO THE NET! THE MACHINE WORE OFF! DONT TOUCH THE FLOOR, YOULL DIE!" Trusting Bill, Holly hung onto the net for dear life. Even Bill was amazed on how much he could care about someone who just looked like his sister.
Enik continued to point his weapon at Bill, ignoring Holly for the moment. "One of the beauties of my little toy is that it can short out crystals." He turned toward Holly. "Holly Marshall, if you would be so kind as to not drop to the floor until I kill your brother, I will be with you in a minute. Now observe." He pointed the weapon at Bills feet and fired. Bill fell to the floor but to Eniks surprise, Bill did not die. He merely got up. "How is this possible?" asked Enik confused.
John spoke up, amused by Eniks confusion, "Didnt it ever occur to someone of your supreme intelligence that we might not be who you think we are?" He took a step toward Enik, who adjusted his weapons settings. John stopped.
"My weapon has just been set to kill. Do not move. But before I kill you, I must knowhow could the humans of this universe even know? I always assumed that you somehow escaped to their home world. I never dreamed you could be so cowardly that you could return here, and not try to get revenge on me. And why come out of hiding now?"
Bill answered firmly. "Enik, never, ever, underestimate what a human will do for his family, even if that family is from another universe."
"UNCLE JACK!" Holly yelled, not knowing what else to call him, "I cant hang on much longer!"
John had not forgotten about Holly, but he simply could not act.
"Holly, it seems your real family were cowards after all, and this trick only bought you a little bit of time. But no matter. You once interfered with my business, and now, at long last youre going to pay." He pointed his weapon at Holly. She closed her eyes, and thought of her family one last time, hoping they would be okay without her. Then she heard the weapon fire.
But somehow, she was still alive, and still clinging to what was left of that net, though barely. Holly opened her eyes to see her father wrestling with Enik, or at least, her fathers counterpart. The mere sight of her fathers double almost caused Holly to lose her grip, but she maintained.
Rich had arrived just as Enik was about to fire. The two struggled, and fighting with a determination fueled by years of guilt over letting his own daughter down, Rich threw the black Sleestak into the pit. Rich would not be denied this day.
The Sleestak God groaned as Enik screamed. Seeing Hollys predicament, and resisting the urge to grab her, Rich turned to his brother. "John, take off your shoes, open them up, and put them on the ground so Holly can slip into them. But put a few crystals inside the shoe. It wont be comfortable, but she wont die." John did as he was told, and Holly carefully slipped into Johns shoes. Luckily, Johns feet were fairly big, so she was able to put his shoes over hers. She was not even that uncomfortable. She let go of the net, and breathed a sigh of relief when she landed on the floor and was still alive. Now, she was face to face with a man who looked and acted just like her father.
"Thanks Da" she stopped. "You know, I
dont even know what to call you."
"Thanks, Dad," Holly said with a smile, turning to Bill and John, "thanks to all of you."
"I miss my daughter more than you can imagine," Rich blurted out.
"I know how you feel. It was my father who went home, and I miss him too," Holly responded.
Rich took out the devices SLatch gave him. "I guess we dont need this one," Rich said, putting the device that would restore Hollys ability to survive in her own universe in his pocket. "But," he stated, holding the other device, "we do need this one." Rich then explained the two devices to his family and Holly. Sadly, he knew the time had come to say goodbye.
"Well, your uncle and brother must be worried, so I think we should see if SLatchs portal works."
Holly smiled, as Rich pressed a button, and a portal did indeed open. Rich put the device on the ground and motioned for her to come toward it. "Take it. SLatch made it out of the same material as the crystals, so you can hold it. The green crystal opens the portal, the blue crystal closes it. Once inside the gateway, you will be in neutral territory, and you take off Johns shoes. When you get to the other side, close the portal."
"Thank you again," she said, picking up the device.
"Hey, were even," said Bill.
"OH NO YOU DONT!"
Rich, Bill, John, and Holly all turned to see a very angry Enik climbing out of the pit. "STOP RIGHT THERE!" He started toward the Marshalls.
"HOLLY, GO, NOW!" Rich shouted.
"I WONT LEAVE YOU!" Holly responded, and she meant it.
"THERES NOTHING YOU CAN DO! GO!" yelled Rich, as Enik and John started wrestling. Holly had the Marshall spirit in her, but she knew Rich was right. If Enik merely pushed her down on the ground, shed be dead. Regretfully, she stepped through the portal, knowing in her heart that her alternate family would be all right. Though even in danger, Holly paused to look back. Realizing that shoes were of short supply in the Land of the Lost, she kicked off Johns shoes and threw them back out of the portal, where they landed near Chaka. Then, she ran for her own family, and prayed Rich, Bill, and John would be all right.
Meanwhile, Enik and John were still wrestling. John noticed Holly made it through the doorway, and was pleased. Bill had joined Richs side, and was ready to help his uncle when Rich grabbed his arm. Rich shouted, "John! Get out of the way!" Heeding his brother, John gave Enik one final shove, and stepped back. Before the black Sleestak could get to his feet, he heard a strange sound. It seemed the humans had a weapon of their own, and he recognized the feeling.
Rich had fired the other device SLatch had given him. Judging by the feeling he had when he was in the other universe, Enik knew he had seconds before his body structure would be completely rearranged, and his only chance for survival was in the other universe. Quickly, Enik ran through the portal.
But he was not alone. SLatchs portal was not a typical doorway. It was more like a tunnel, and a traveler had to move through neutral territory from one end of the tunnel to another. Holly was about three-quarters through the tunnel when she saw Enik following. She realized Rich had altered the black Sleestak, and felt a sense of pride in her fathers counterpart. But she also knew what she must do, and she sped up through the portal. "HUMAN! STOP!" Enik cried out, as he began to sprint, running almost twice as fast as Holly.
Holly reached the end of the portal, and dove for it. She popped out of the portal, to see Will and Jack, standing with their Enik, in the Lost City. Enik and Will had met up with Jack and Chaka at the river, and brought them back to Eniks chamber, to wait. "HOLLY!" Will screamed.
"Will! Get out of the way!" she said, as her brother complied. The three humans and one Altrusian saw the black Sleestak charging toward them inside the portal. Holly pointed the device Rich had given her, and pressed the button.
"NOOOOOO!!!!" cried the black Sleestak as the portal closed. Holly had shut the doorway just in time. Enik was trapped between universes, with no escape. He was still alive, but the danger was over.
Finally reunited and relieved, the Marshalls thanked their Altrusian friend and returned to their temple.
Rich, Bill, and John returned from the Lost City profoundly affected by their adventure. Their longtime enemy was gone, presumably forever. SLatch had told Rich that there would be a delay before the weapon took effect, and Rich knew Enik would rush for the portal. He watched with pleasure as Holly trapped him from the other side as he knew in his heart she would. Despite all Enik had done to his family, Rich was no killer, though the idea of the black Sleestak stuck between universes seemed like a just sentence.
"Hey Dad," Bill said, "With Enik gone, you
think we can go back to his cave and experiment?"
"Yeah," Bill said, smiling, "and well get back to Holly."
Bill saw the expression on his fathers face turn serious at the mention of his sister, but this time, he looked a little brighter. "You okay, Dad?" he asked.
Rich looked at his son. The adventure with his daughters double softened his guilt. "Bill, ever since we fell down that waterfall, I felt responsible for getting you and your sister, and later your uncle, into this mess. And when your sister went home, I could not get over the thought of not being able to raise my little girl. I feel like I let you both down as a father."
Bill was about to speak up, since he never blamed his father for what happened, but Rich held up his hand and continued. "I still feel guilty, but seeing your sisters double made me realize a few things."
"Like what?" Bill asked.
Rich began to smile. "First, your sisters double was alive, well, and healthy. She was surviving, without her father, for years in a much worse environment than where our Holly is. Second, Ive been thinking a bit about MY double. What if I returned to Earth instead of Holly. I would be home, and you and Holly would be here. The guilt I feel is nothing compared to how I would feel if I left the two of you here. And the thought of John getting trapped here because he was searching for us would only make things worse. I guess I should thank my lucky stars that Holly is home, and worry more about joining her."
John walked toward his family. "Well, with all this talk about going home, why dont we pay SLatch a visit tomorrow?"
"That sounds like a great idea," Rich answered. And with that thought, the Marshall men sat back, and thought about the one thing that had kept them going for yearsthe hope of getting home.
* * * *
Holly told Jack, Will and Chaka the whole story, as they all sat, amazed.
"What was it like seeing Dad again?" Will asked.
"Well, it was weird. It was Dad, but it wasnt. But when the going got tough, he sure acted like Daddy." Holly felt like a kid again just talking about Rick.
"And why not? Hes a Marshall," Jack chimed in.
"Ill say this," Will added, "Im glad theyre on our side. I just wish I could thank them in person."
"Will, it sounds like these Marshalls are a lot like us. Believe me, they know darn well were grateful," said Jack.
"Will, how often do you think about Dad?" asked Holly.
"Pretty much every day. Im sure its killing him to be home with all of us still stuck here."
"I know. Dad must be knocking his brains out trying to help us," Holly speculated.
"Im sure of it," Will responded, himself taking comfort in the thought.
"Well, until that happens, were going to have to stick together and try to get home on our own," said Jack.
Will and Holly both nodded. Both were thinking of their father. Since Rick returned home, Holly had missed him terribly, but until this latest adventure, she had only thought of the situation from her own point of view. Meeting her fathers double, even briefly, gave her a glimpse of what Rick must be feeling after not seeing she and Will. The concern Rich showed her must have mirrored his concern for his Holly, who made it home. If Richs anguish was any indication, she could only imagine what Rick felt knowing his children were still here. But Richs passion also renewed her spirit that somehow, someday, Rick would figure out a way to come back and help them. While the Marshalls would hardly depend on Rick, and would still try to find a doorway themselves, they knew that Rick would never give up on them, and Holly found that thought very comforting. Despite practically growing up in the Land of the Lost, Holly had a renewed hope that somehow, someday, she would get home.
COPYRIGHT 2000, by Marc C. Land of the Lost is property of Krofft Industries. No infringement on that copyright is intended, and all original work may not be reproduced or used without the express consent of the author. Note that much of the dialogue in Chapters 3-4 of this story is taken directly from the Land of the Lost episode, SPLIT PERSONALITY, written by Larry Niven. All work to the extent not directly used on the television series is original work, and property of the author.