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Strange Days Indeed!

(A Land of the Lost round robin fan fiction story by members of The Lost e-mail forum)

 

Strange Days Indeed! Copyright 1999:
1. Robert Porter <sleestak2 - at - juno-com>
2. Matthew Brenner <mbrenner - at - hotmail-com>
3. John Speelman <jspeel - at - pangea-com>
4. Clayton Barr <enik1138 - at - linline-com>

 

Strange Days Indeed! Part I
By Robert Porter


Rick Marshall lifted the plastic water jugs and notated their near empty state. It was time for another trip to the fresh water spring. He silently presented them to his daughter, Holly, as she sat near her sleeping area sewing on her latest garment creation.
Noticing her father, Holly looked at the jugs and rolled her eyes.
"Oh, no," she cried. "Not again."
"I'm afraid so," Rick sympathized.
Suddenly Holly's expression changed from irritation to excitement.
"Oh, okay! I don't mind." She threw down her sewing, grabbed at the jugs and headed for the opening of the cave.
Holly's brother, Will, looked up from his whittling. "Wait a second! A second ago you were upset about going for water. Now you're all excited. What gives?"
Stopping at the cave mouth, Holly turned and smiled. "I'm gonna look for Dopey."
"Dopey? Well, you'd better watch out. First he ate all our strawberries, now he's gonna drink all of our water."
"Oh, you just don't like him. You say something mean about him every chance you get."
"Well, Dopey's so dopey."
Interceding with the warring siblings, Rick said, "Holly, if you're going to be going down by the swamp, I want you to be careful."
Holly smiled brightly at her father. "I will, Daddy"
"And Will, I want you to go with her."
Will looked horrified. "Aw, Dad!"
"No, I mean that Will. See if you can bring back some turnips and other vegetables for dinner tonight. And keep an eye on your sister."
"I can take care of myself!" Holly cried. Rick gave her a silent, withering stare and she backed down from her defiance. "Oh, all right."
"C'mon," Will commanded as he picked up a small bag to carry the vegatables and headed toward his sister at the cave opening. "Let's get this over with."
"You two be careful and watch out for Grumpy!" Rick called after them. Already halfway down the cliff face, Holly shouted back at him, "We will, Daddy!"

Down on the jungle floor, Will and Holly moved through the underbrush. Suddenly, Holly bolted off in a different direction. "Where are you going?" Will called to her and pointed in front of himself. "The fresh water spring is this way."
She stopped and turned to him. "I want to see Dopey. Remember?" Without further explanation, she turned and ran off.
Sighing, Will moved to follow. "Wait up!" he shouted. I don't want to lose sight of you!"
He was startled by a heavy hand on his shoulder, stopping him from following his sister. He turned and saw...



Strange Days Indeed! Part II
By Matthew Brenner


...his father standing in front of him. "Where's Holly? I thought I told you to--"
"But Dad, Holly ran off," Will protested. "Dad? What are you doing
here?"
"I came to give you this" his father said, extending his hand with the mirror in it. "If you would keep it around your neck, I wouldn't have to
remind you so often. C'mon, let's go after Holly. She couldnt have gotten very far. Which way did she go--Wait, let me guess. The swamp. Dopey." They both nodded. And headed off in the direction of the swamp together.
As they left, the bushes stirred and revealed the eyes of a little Pakuni who was hiding there. Chaka! He had been listening to the conversation the whole time, though admittedly he couldn't understand much of what was being said. Holly...Something to do with Holly. Was Holly in trouble? His curiosity peaked, Chaka scampered after them.
The mid-morning sun was already warm as the remnants of the third moon settled onto the horizon. It was going to be a hot one! Unfortunately, the local fauna knew it to, and were making provision by drinking extra water at the swamp. Spike was there, and on another bank Alice the Allosaurus lapped up the water and stood to burp. Why can't they be soft and cute and cuddly, like dopey, thought Holly. Okay, so Dopey wasn't soft, and he wasn't very cuddly either. One out of three aint' bad.
"Hi Dopey. Hi Dopey." Holly stood waving ten feet away from the baby Bront, hoping he would remember her clothes, or at least her scent.
Familiarity registered on Dopey's face. "Bwaaa--Bwaaaa" he bellowed. "How are you today?" Holly asked. "Bwaaaaaa." Dopey put his head down and shoved some dirt towards Holly. She thought this was extremely funny.
"What are doing?" she chuckled. "Want to play? You know you're my best friend in the Land of the Lost, don't you? And one day, when you're big and strong, we're gonna ride together outta this place. I'm taking you back to earth! And don't worry, I won't let them put you in a zoo, or do experiments on you. You'll be mine. And I'll get a house with a huge swamp in the back, and all the kids in the neighborhood will want to come over. And I'll let them."
By now Dopey had turned away to munch on some young leaves by the water's edge. Holly kept on talking, mostly to herself. "I'll have so many friends. All the kids on the block will come over. And we won't have to go
to school either, because we'll study dinosaurs. We'll all be dinosaur-ollo-ologists." She stumbled on this last word, and it made her laugh. Despite feeling her loneliness keenly, Holly had ways of making herself feel cheerful.
By now she wanted to sit down after the long walk, but she knew Will would be along soon. And those water bottles had to be filled.
The day was clear and warm, getting warmer. Nothing could go wrong on a day like this, Holly thought. Not a cloud in the sky, purple or any other color. It almost looked...normal. Maybe this would be the day they got to go home. Home. The word had an almost mystical quality to it by now, and it launched Holly on another day dream. This time she thought of her mother. Her thoughts were interrupted however, when the high reeds started to part, and standing there with his hair slightly matted and dirt on his face, was Chaka. "Chaka! Where have you been? We haven't seen you in," she thought for a moment, "days." Chaka smiled, exposing teeth that were badly in need of dentist.
Will and his father looked across the clearing at the mouth of the swamp. Sure enough, there they were, all three of them: Dopey, Chaka, and Holly. Unfortunately, Alice was there too. She had been moving closer toward them in the course of her morning drink. Will and Rick's shouts were drowned out by the sound of her roar...

 



Strange Days Indeed! Part III

By John Speelman

 
Holly might have laughed at the comical expression of surprise on Chaka's face if her heart weren't stuck in her throat. An instant later she cleared her throat with a piercing scream that sounded above Alice's bellow. She turned and ran full speed along the water's edge, looking for an entrance to the thick trees that she could elude Alice into. Chaka disappeared in another direction.
Dopey followed millions of years' worth of instinct: he turned and headed for deeper water, where his four feet would give him an advantage over Alice's two. His course angled from the shore, and Alice, bellowing in rage, pounded along the shoreline beside him. Directly in the same path Holly was running. Alice was more focused on Dopey - her small brain
remembering that tiny prey moves very fast and is hard to catch, but baby bronto's were just the right size for a decent meal, or two, or three. She pounded into the shallows now to intercept Dopey.
Holly suddenly found her path blocked by a thick tangle of undergrowth too dense to get through. Not daring to stand still, she dove into the water and struck out for deeper water.
Rick and Will, racing around the shoreline, were horrified to see that all of sudden the originally diverging courses of Holly and Dopey were now converging- with Alice hot on their heels. Her hugely muscled legs carried her ever closer to Dopey, but the water was starting to slow her down. Alice shrieked in triumph, anticipating a juicy kill. Her cry was cut short by a large pasty fruit that flew from the trees and plastered her eye, covering it in pulp and juice. Eye stinging, she whipped her head to
the side to find her attacker at the same time as her foot hit a depression in the soft lake bottom. She lurched to the side, trying to swing her tail for balance, but the water's drag slowed it just enough. Alice started to fall.
Rick and Will were about to leap into the water when they saw Alice start to fall. They froze in shock and horror. From their view, Alice's head would fall right on top of Holly, swimming for all her might!
Alice's head and upper torso struck the water with a huge splash. The wave it created swept Holly away, and under the water. The allosaur's thrashing churned the water to a boiling froth. Holly was now disoriented, panicking. She flailed around, and her arm hit a moving body...
Chaka's triumph at his fruit bomb was short-lived as Holy disappeared from view. He jumped down to join Rick and Will, and the three of them called out frantically to where Holly had vanished in the water.
"Where is she?" Will said aloud. "Why doesn't she come up?"
Rick had no answer. He stared hard at the water boiling around Alice, dreading the thought of maybe seeing it start to turn red...

 

Strange Days Indeed! Part IV

By Clayton Barr


Holly writhed about madly, losing her remaining oxygen in a burst of bubbles from her drowned scream, as something gripped her powerfully around the torso. Perhaps it was a morbid sense of curiosity about her own death that caused her to crane her head around to get a look at her attacker, expecting to see Alice's huge, yellow eye glaring in triumph. Instead she saw the red-multi-faceted eyes of the Altrusian called Enik. His was the moving body she'd hit while trying to swim frantically away from the toppling allosaur!
|
Just before she passed out, Holly felt Enik kicking powerfully, skillfully through the water, away from the dinosaur.
But the voracious carnosaur was unperturbed by her embarrassing spill, seeing now not one, but two tasty tidbits to be had. She stretched her prone body to its limit, mouth open wide and enveloped the fleeing quarry between her jaws. Enik, acutely aware of his danger, put on a burst of speed with a mighty kick of his legs and shot from Alice's grim, toothy jaws.
Almost.
As Alice at last righted herself and stood tall in the steaming swamp, Rick, Will and Cha-ka saw Enik dangling from the carnivore's mouth, clutching Holly to his chest. One of the Altrusian's humongous feet had been caught between the blades of two of Alice's teeth. Enik twisted about in a struggle to free himself...to no avail. Alice chomped down, severing Enik's foot from his leg and sending him and Holly plummeting back into the water. Swallowing the small bite, Alice snapped at the water where the two had fallen, but Enik allowed himself to sink into the cool depths, hitting the squishy bottom with his remaining foot and with one hand grabbed ahold of the stalk of a water weed to keep from floating back up, still clutching Holly with the other. But he knew that if she didn't get air immediately, she could die or suffer irreparable brain damage.
On the surface, the two humans and Paku watched in horror. Feeling guilty over his fouled up rescue, Cha-ka suddenly dashed forward, yelling and waving his arms at the towering allosaur. Attracting her attention, he ran towards a copse of trees as Alice gave chase.
Concern for his daughter overriding all else, Rick Marshall dashed ahead and dove into the swamp. Will, remembering the signal mirror his father had just given him, used it to flash sunlight into Alice's eye as she lunged after the Paku. The distraction afforded Cha-ka the opportunity to take refuge among some boulders. Irritated about the continually eluding dinner, Alice stomped off into the jungle, to return to the Lost City.
Will and Cha-ka ran back to the water's edge just in time to find Rick carrying a coughing, sputtering Holly to shore. Enik dragged himself through the sticky mud, his left leg trailing a darkish blood. Will helped him up and they stumbled to a reasonably secure patch of ground near the trees.
"Holly, are you all right?" her father asked, concern crawling across his features.
"I think so," she said between coughs. "Yeah."
Rick turned to see that his son had helped Enik to sit up against a boulder and was cleaning sand from the Altrusian's wound with water from his canteen. Rick knelt down and examined the wound while he spoke. "Enik, my daughter owes her life to you. Thank you..."
Enik said nothing, but nodded once.
"If there's anything I can ever do to repay you..."
"You could apply a dressing to my wound to stop the bleeding. That will be sufficient for now."
Rick pulled out a handkerchief and began to wrap the wound. "Will, give me yours, too." While he worked, he looked the Altrusian in the eye. "You lost a foot saving Holly. Nothing I do can ever repay you for that. I can't imagine the Sleestak being very caring of a disabled member."
"I will be all right. It will grow back."
Will looked up, shocked. "What?!"
"Actually, it makes a sort of sense," Rick said with relief. "Many reptiles on Earth are capable of regenerating lost limbs. Since the Sleestak or, in this case, an Altrusian, are, apparently, reptilian, it stands to reason that they have the ability as well."
"Thank you for saving my life," Holly said, her gaze fixed on the bloodied bandage of Enik's stump. "Does it hurt?"
"Well, of course it hurts, Holly!" Will responded for Enik in exasperation.
"With meditation, I will be able to bring the pain to a tolerable level. There is one more thing you can do for me."
"What's that?" Rick asked.
"Help me back to the Lost City. There I will be able to better care for the injury and expedite the healing and regrowth process."
"Of course." Rick helped him up while Will found a long, relatively straight branch the Altrusian could use as a sort of crutch.
As they began to hobble their way toward the Lost City, Rick asked, "Why is it you happened to be here in the swamp?"
Enik clearly hesitated before answering...

 

Strange Days Indeed! Part V

By Robert Porter

..."I do not know, Rick Marshall."
Will was rather incredulous. "You don't know? What? Did you just wake up and find yourself standing in the swamp?"
Enik stopped and fixed the teenager with a blank expression. "That is precisely what happened, Will Marshall. One moment I was in my cave, attempting to manipulate the time doorway to find the way home, and the next, I was standing near the swamp."
Holly, walking with Cha-ka slightly behind the other three, spoke up. "Well, however it happened, you saved my life. I'm sure glad you came along when you did."
Rick looked back and her and smiled. "Me too. But I'm not sure I fully understand," he continued, turning back to Enik as they started moving again. "Did you black out or something? What happened between the time you were in the cave and the time you were in the swamp?"
"I am most puzzled," Enik answered. "I do not think I blacked out. I simply was in the cave... then I was at the swamp. I do not recall anything happening between the two events. It was most disconcerting."
"It almost sounds like you went through a time doorway!" exclaimed Will.
"That is a good observation, Will Marshall. However, I clearly did not go through a time doorway, because I am still here in the Land of the Lost with you."
Will's face turned down at having his comment rebuffed.
"Wait a minute, Enik." Rick said. "Maybe he's right. Maybe you *did* go through a time doorway. Only you went a little bit into the past or the future. That's why we're still here with you and things don't look any different."
Enik considered his comments. They were logical. "Rick Marshall? We encountered each other just four days ago outside the lost temple. I was searching for a large blue crystal for my experiments and you were foraging for vines to make a sturdy rope. Do you remember?"
They were on to something and Rick got both excited and agitated. "No, Enik, I don't? The last time we met was two weeks ago, when I'd hurt myself by improperly using the crystals near the Lost City."
"That was not two weeks ago, Rick Marshall. For me, that was over two months ago. The mystery is solved. I *did* go through a dimensional doorway. I am from your future. If we go to my cave in the Lost City, we will encounter my previous self." Enik stopped walking as he considered the ramifications.
"Ooh, yuck!" Holly exclaimed. "You mean there's two Eniks running around here?"
"Only one of us is running, Holly Marshall." he answered and pointed to his bloody ankle.
"But how did it happen?" Rick asked. Why would you suddenly fall through a time doorway that only took you a few weeks into the past and into the swamp?"
"I do not know." Enik moved to sit on a large nearby boulder. "I must rest, Rick Marshall. This exertion is tiring me. It is making it difficult to concentrate." He pulled his leg up and examined the area where his foot used to be. Finding it to his satisfaction, he put it down and continued. "I believe the time doorway somehow malfuctioned. Maybe it was something I did in the cave that triggered it. Or maybe they are malfunctioning all over the Land of the Lost and I simply was
in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"If that's the case, then none of us are safe and we have to fix it."
"Indeed." Enik stared at him with nothing more to offer.
Turning to Cha-ka, Rick squatted close to him. "Cha-ka. It's not safe. You must return to your people."
Cha-ka simply looked at him with a dumbfounded expression. "Huh? Cha-ka no fa meni."
"Go, Cha-ka. Ku Ta and Sa. It's not safe. Tusa oganza."
The last statement, which translated to "bad magic", Cha-ka understood. He jumped up and down excitedly, then cowered from the unseen "bad magic".
"Ku Ta and Sa, Cha-ka," Holly told him. "It's not safe for you here." Cha-ka continued to cower and Holly gently pushed at him, trying to get him to go. "Goodbye, Cha-ka. Tobi no."
Finally, Cha-ka relaxed. At Holly's gentle urging, he stood tall and almost hugged her. "Tobi no, Ah-Ree." He started to turn to Rick when something caught his eye.
Suddenly his eyes grew very wide and he crouched and cowered again. "Tusa oganza!" he cried out. "Wi-ra Ku no! Tusa oganza! Tusa oganza!"
Rick and Holly looked up toward Enik. Will was gone. "Will!" Rick called out. But there was no answer. He had simply vanished.

***

 

One moment, Will had been watching his sister urging Cha-ka to leave. In the blink of an eye, the world shifted and he found himself in...

 

 

 

Strange Days Indeed! Part VI

By Matthew Brenner

 

...total darkness that seemed to envelop him.  Somewhere in the darkness he heard a voice.  It sounded like his own voice.  It was barely audible at first, then gradually it came in clear and the words repeated themselves in a low monotone:  "Time doorways have affinity for living beings.  Time doorways have affinity for living beings.  Living beings have affinity for time doorways.  Living beings are time."  The words reverberated inside of Will's--head?  Wait. Where am I?  Will spun around and the words stopped in time with his spinning.  He was standing right where he had been, only now he was alone. No Enik.  No Dad.  No Holly.  They must have gone ahead, to the Lost City, Will thought.  Why did they go on without me?  And then the events of the day slowly unraveled in Will's memory:  the chase with Alice, the rescue, the violent end to Enik's, er, foot.  Of course!  Enik was injured.  Oh no, Enik was hurt!  But why did they leave me here?
   Just in case his father and Holly had returned home to High Bluff, Will reached into his pants pocket for the mirror to signal them.  As he sighted a line through the trees to the distant cave beyond, Will made ready to catch the Sun's rays with his mirror.  He would flash a signal in the direction of home and if he received no reply, he would continue on to the Lost City.  Will angled the mirror deftly as he had done so many times before.  "The past is the future...The future the past."  The words floated through him like a subtle breeze.
   Will swallowed hard, but it didn't dislodge the lump in his throat. Impossible.  No, it couldn't be:  Impossible!  But he couldn't deny it.  It
was there, plain as day, plain as the sunlight glinting across...both mirrors:  the one he held in his hands was identical to another mirror which dangled from the cord around his neck.

   Back at the cave, Rick Marshall stood up to admire his work.  He stretched and let out a loud yawn.  Those kids left an hour ago, he thought.
  He was starting to worry, as he always did.  It never fails, he thought, send one of them for water and I fear for their safety; send both of them and they're liable to stumble into all manner of mischief, you can bet on it.  Couldn't there be just one, just one please God, normal day in the Land of the Lost?
   "Can you hear me God?"  Rick Marshall asked out loud.  "Or is this Godforsaken place lost to you as well?"  Rick remembered studying comparative religion as a college student in the late 50s.  One religion in particular--Hinduism--had made a deep impression on him.  Not deep enough to change his beliefs:  he was a Catholic and had tried to raise his children to be good Catholics.  But he couldn't deny that Hinduism held some attractive alternatives to the Bible.  Or at least some interesting ones: the idea, for example, that everything one could imagine, and even the stuff one couldn't imagine, was the home of God.  That left Rick with cool comfort as he mopped the sweat off his brow from the afternoon heat. Maybe God's plan included even us, and those Pakuni, and Enik and the other Sleestak, or Altrusians.  The thought offered him some consolation. Although if he ever got home he knew he could never tell his story to the congregation at St. Francis Church.  He wasn't sure whether they'd politely ask him to leave, or attempt an exorcism on the spot.  The thought made him chuckle.
   Rick had been working for more than a week on his daughter's small transistor radio.  Thank God (yes, him again!) that my father was a
dedicated ham radio operator, Rick thought.  Better still, he passed on his knowledge to me, knowledge that may yet come in handy.  He remembered the Sunday evenings spent together with his father in the basement of their brick house, broadcasting messages to the far corners of the earth and waiting patiently for a response, any response.  "This is Marshmallow One, Marshmallow One here, come in."  Static.  And then a reply, barely audible at first, but growing louder:  "Marshmallow?"  Crackle.  "Is that what you said?  Where'd ou get a name like that?  This is Avery, Avery 23, copy, coming at you from the sunny shores of Corpus Christi, Texas."  "Copy that, Avery, this is Ricky Marshall.  My friends call me Marshmallow, after my favorite food.  I'm reading you loud and clear.  How is everything in Texas?"  And on and on.  Once he'd talked to a sergeant in the Army who was stationed in Korea.  Rick was only 12 at the time.  The year was 1950.
   By Rick's calculations it was December 14, 1974 on Earth, give or take a day or two.  Though with three moons in the sky, who could be sure that a day here was the same duration as a day back home?
   Rick was trying to marshall the skills of his childhood in order to transform Holly's little radio into a low-powered transmitter.  For what is was worth, his suspicion was that the effort was futile.  He was certain, however, to remove the two AA batteries after each test of the device. Those two little alkaline power cells were all the juice he would ever have when the time came...for what?  What in truth could he expect to accomplish with a small transistor radio, which only covered a small band of the vast spectrum of available frequencies, and not the best ones for sending a distress call either.
   He knew he could rule out the FM frequencies right away.  No range.  And besides, their relatively longer waves would not penetrate solid objects or the atmosphere as well as the AM frequencies.  But who was he kidding?  If this was a "closed universe" then what was there to penetrate?  Maybe the Marshalls could entertain themselves by broadcasting their own radio show: "Good Morning Land of the Lost!  It's an especially purple day out there this morning, folks, so watch out for those wayward lightning bolts!  Today's dinosaur report:  Grumpy is, well, grumpy this morning, and Alice has wandered over to the crevasse to look for some dinosaur nip. Spike's whereabouts are unknown.  Any listeners with information on Spike's whereabouts should call this station.  Now let's check in with those roving reporters in the air, the Skylons!"
   Rick's little entertainment was interrupted by the appearance of Will at the cave door.  He appeared to be in a trance, his eyes fixed on his father yet also on some far away object.  Rick had the strangest sensation that his son was looking through him.
   "Son, what happened?  Where's Holly?"
   "Dad, you shouldn't be here, this is all wrong."
   "What are you talking about Will:  I shouldn't be here.  Where else would I be?"
   "Dad, something's happened, something to do with the time doorways.  Dad, there's more than one Enik.  There may be more than one of me.  Do you remember giving me this, this morning?"  Will held out the mirror for his father to see.  Plainly, his words made little or no sense to his father, who was about to speak when Will challenged him:  "Tell me one thing Dad, have you left the cave since Holly and I went for water this morning?"
   Seeing the mirror in Will's hand and a matching mirror around his neck sent a chill through Rick Marshall.  His voice was shaky as he let out the words:  "No.  I haven't been anywhere but here."
   Will's worst fears were confirmed.  "Dad, there's a dimensional doorway loose out there.  It picked me up and put me back, but I didn't seem to go anywhere, or any when, either.  But you, Dad, you're with Holly right now, and with Enik.  And Enik saved Holly from Alice, but he lost his foot.  And you, I mean, they, are going to the Lost City."
   Rick couldn't believe what he was hearing.  If what Will was saying were true, then there was a stray time doorway out there, roaming unchecked.  It could strike at any time, any place, leaving havoc in its path.  And then there was the question of meeting one's self from a short period into the future or the past.  Rick shuddered at the thought of a Land of the Lost where multiple versions of himself and his children had to compete for the limited resources of the wild...

 

 

 

Strange Days Indeed! Part VII
By John Speelman

 
"All right then," Rick dusted his kness as he arose. "If I'm still here, then this business with Enik getting injured hasn't happened yet." He frowned. "I think. Maybe if we hurry..."
Will broke in excitedly. "We can change what happened in the chase! Maybe we can save Enik's foot!"
They ran down the path towards where Will said the Big Alice chase had taken place.
"Look, I don't really understand this time -travel stuff any more than the next guy-"
"Well, yeah, Dad, I'm the next guy."
"Quit talking while I'm interrupting! I mean, oh, never mind. What I'm trying to say is that I'm not crazy about a future you meeting face-to-face with a past you. The whole idea feels wrong, so when we get
close, I want you to stay out of sight of yourself. Um, that is..."
"Yeah, I get it."
Leaping over a low branch, Rick's foot scraped the branch and he sprawled headlong.
"Dad, get up! We're almost there!"
Rick scrambled to his feet. "Okay. If we go around the other shore here, maybe we can draw Alice away from Holly and Chaka. If there's no chase, maybe Enik's foot stays attached and Holly doesn't age ten years from fright." 

        From where they ran along the shoreline they could see across the water to where Alice was starting to edge closer to Holly and Chaka. She'd begin her charge at any moment, Will knew. "So how do we distract Alice?"
"Perhaps I have a suggestion."
Rick and Will stopped short at the voice from behind them. Turning slowly, they saw a powerful reptilian visage regarding them from the bushes.  "Enik! What...?"
"No time. Alice is hunting now that she has drunk her fill. I suggest you try to frighten the long-neck there and create a distraction. If Alice gets confused, she is easily eluded." He stepped to the water's edge.
"I will be more effective in the water." Enik paused, then stretched a long arm towards Rick. "Here. I believe these are important to you." Rick held out his hand and Enik dropped a pair of AA batteries into his palm.
"Uh, thanks. I guess when I fell-" A splash cut his words short. Enik was in the water, swimming powerfully towards the other shore. Rick dropped the batteries into his pocket and turned to Will. "C'mon, let's get that long-neck moving."
Will stared at Enik in the water for another moment. I could have sworn that when he jumped in, he only had one foot, he thought. I didn't see it that clearly, but...
"Will! Now!"
Moments later, an annoyed long-neck was bellowing it's ire as it headed to deeper water. It was clearly not impressed at puny two legged creatures that pelted its head and neck with sharp stones and big sticks.
Big Alice cranked her head around at the new noise. A big long-neck was moving swiftly through the water towards her. Ah! A BIG meal! She leapt forward to the attack- or tried to. The water's drag held her prodigious leg strength at bay for a moment. Just long enough for the bow wave and the shoulder of a full grown, frightened, enraged brachiosaur to smash into her.
Poor Alice never had a chance. The impact bowled her over into the water, where she thrashed about in rage and confusion.
Rick and Will stared across the water to the commotion. Their counterparts hadn't noticed them, so they remained behind some huge palm-like fronds to watch. To Rick's eyes, Alice fell awfully close to where Holly was swimming, but he couldn't see more without leaving concealment. Blast! Did it work or not? He leaned forward with his elbows on his upper thighs and agonized. Holly survived the previous attack, Will says. But we've changed things. For better or worse? His elbows were digging something in his pockets into his legs, so he reached into his pockets to adjust their contents. He froze, then withdrew both hands to stare at what they were holding...
Will came to his decision. "Dad," he said. "When Enik dove into the water a moment ago," he turned to his father "I'm sure that he only-" his voice faltered as he "had just-" his voice faltered as he saw Rick staring in confusion at his hands "one... foot.." and stopped completely as he in turn stared at the TWO pairs of AA batteries his father held in his hands...

 

 

 

Strange Days Indeed! Part VIII

By Clayton Barr

 

"Holly!" Will heard his own voice yell as he looked up to see himself and Cha-ka running towards the swamp. Rick shoved the batteries back into his pocket. They would have to worry about them later.
    "Will, stay here out of sight of your other self," Rick said, charging off through the sand. He caught up his other son who started trying to explain what was happening, but Rick interrupted. "I know! Let's try to lure Alice out of the water!" The three proceeded to shout and throw rocks at the allosaur as she thrashed around in the swamp attempting to regain her footing. She rose up, but ignored the figures on the shore. Blood dripped from her jaws as she bit through and forced down her hard-earned meal. The three stood in shock at the tableau before them. Alice then turned and splashed back through the water towards them. They ran towards the rocks to hide but found that Alice, after a moment's indecision, was stalking off into the jungle, apparently satisfied with the food she'd already had and ready to return home.
The future Will watched in silent horror at what had just occurred. Almost sobbing, he whispered, "Holly..." wishing he could take back all the mean things he'd ever said to her. Foliage rustled behind him. He spun, only to find a dripping wet figure limping towards him. "Enik! What just happened out there?!"
The Altrusian actually appeared sympathetic as he rested a hand on the boy's shoulder while gesturing ahead with the other. "Do not mourn for your sister. Observe."
He looked and saw the other Will along with his father and Cha-ka running back to the water's edge as another Enik carried Holly to shore. It must have been some swamp dwelling creature that Big Alice had gulped down! Will immediately noticed that that Enik walked on both feet. He glanced down and saw that the Enik currently with him was, as he had thought, missing the foot he'd seen the Altrusian lose in another time.
At the water's edge, Enik set the girl down on the sand as Rick checked her over. "Is she all right, Dad?"
Holly started coughing up water and gasping for air. "I think she's going to be fine," he smiled.
"Enik, what are you doing here?"
"I happened to be in the right place at the right...time...to save your sister." He spoke to Rick. "I must speak to you alone."
Rick nodded and told Will to help Holly back to High Bluff. Perplexed at the seeming collusion between Enik and his father, Will nevertheless did as he was told.
"Do not tell your children of what you know of today's events. Go back to your cave and resume your life as normal. This timeline has now been restored to as close to the original events as can be managed. Return the two items you call batteries to me now."
"Why? Why forget? And why return the batteries? Why did you give them to me?"
"It was not I who gave them you. It was a version of me from an alternate future. He was given the batteries by a future version of you. It was necessary to make you quickly understand that that other Enik was from the future so you would do what was asked to not question his advice in saving your daughter. That is all I can say. The future is not meant to be known before its time. Not even an alternate future. So I ask you not to tell your children about what little you do know."
Rick was unsure, but after a few moments of trying to judge Enik's honesty he relented. "Well, all right," he said pulling two of the four batteries from his pocket and handing them to the Altrusian. "But how do you know about your other self?"
"He has been in telepathic communication with me, instructing me on what to do."
"Wait, what about the other version of Will? He's still hiding in the jungle!" Rick ran to the place he had left the other Will. No one was there.
"That version of Will Marshall was from the same alternate future as the other Enik. They have both returned there. They still have work to do. Now, I must go as well."
Rick turned back. "Wait, are you from the present time or anoth--"
    But Enik had vanished.
   
Rick spun in a slow circle looking through the cracks in the jungle for any sign of Enik...or anyone else. Was there another version of himself even now watching him? He could see no signs.
   
Rick jumped when a forgotten voice spoke beside him.
    "Cha-ka not understand."
   
Chuckling, Rick ruffled the fur atop the pakuni's head. "Join the club, Cha-ka. Join the club." He began to trudge off into the jungle towards High Bluff. "C'mon, I'll by you a cup of coffee."
   
"Caw-fee..?"

 

Strange Days Indeed! Part IX

by Robert Porter

Rick laughed lightly.  "I guess you don't have coffee in the Land of the Lost.  At least not the same coffee I'm used to."
  Cha-ka simply stared with a blank, confused look.
  "Nevermind, Cha-ka.  Let's go back to High Bluff and see if Will and Holly have returned yet."
  As they walked, Rick rolled over in his mind what had happened and what Enik had told him.  Apparently Will and Holly were supposed to be safe, but where were they?  And what had happened to Enik's foot?  And what was the business with the malfunctioning time doorways and the alternate versions of themselves?  The whole thing made him uneasy, but he could do nothing but trust what Enik had told him.  Right now, he wanted to be sure his family was safe.
  Then he remembered the batteries.  Reaching into his pocket--
  Something wasn't right.  He pulled out not two, but six small AA batteries.  "What the heck is going on here?" he said out loud.
  As if to answer the question, Cha-ka started babbling in Pakuni about things unknown.  He clearly was speaking to himself, so Rick ignored him and they continued to High Bluff.

***

  Walking into the clearing at High Bluff, Rick and Cha-ka looked around to be sure it was safe to walk in the open.  There was no Grumpy in sight, so they walked freely out.
  Anticipating someone being home, Rick called out "Will!  Holly!"
  Cha-ka imitated him.  "Wi-ra!  Ah-ry!"
  As they reached the first step, they began to climb up when a head looked over the cave lip at them.  Rick looked up in astonishment--at himself.
  "Thank God you're here!" the alternate Rick Marshall said.
  "What!?"  He paused in astonishment.  "I don't understand."
  "There's no time to explain.  Do you have the batteries."
  "Yes.  I have six of them.  But Enik said--"
  "Six?  That's not supposed to..." he paused in thought.
  The original Rick Marshall, the one who had just arrived at High Bluff, climbed the rest of the way up with Cha-ka close behind.  At the top, Cha-ka hugged his leg in fear.  "What's going on?" he asked his other self.
  Desperately, the alternate self talked quickly.  "We have to hurry. There's a time doorway wandering loose through the Land of the Lost. It's scooping people up and depositing them in other times and places within the Land of the Lost."
  "What's causing it?"
  "Enik says he thinks he knows.  He's in the Lost City right now trying to get it all sorted out."  The alternate Rick grabbed the original Rick by the arm and squeezed hard.  "He needs those batteries!"  He started pulling him into the cave.
  "Wait a minute!  You said he was in the Lost City!  Why are you taking me this way?"  Rick pointed to the cave interior.
  "Because Enik has a time doorway open for us.  He opened one up in the cave interior so I could come back and get more batteries.  C'mon! We must hurry before another time doorway scoops us up and sends one of us away again."
  Rick and Cha-ka followed the alternate Rick into the cave.  On the side of one wall was a smoky, shimmering time doorway.  Rick held back, unsure if he could trust what he was being told.  Then he realized that if he couldn't trust himself-- even an alternate self...
  The three of them stepped through-- stepped through-- stepped through-- stepped through-- through. through. through. through.
  After a few nauseating moments of disorientation, they were in Enik's cave.  Rick noted Enik's missing foot and a odd, prosthetic device in its place.
  "You have returned!" Enik told them.  "Quickly!  The batteries!"
  Rick removed the six-- make that eight-- batteries and handed them to Enik.  He took them and delicately placed them in rows on the matrix table.
  Astonished, Rick realized that there were probably three dozen of the little AA batteries laid neatly out on the table.  On one edge was Holly's little transistor radio, opened with wires and crystals arranged inside and somehow hooked up to the matrix table.
  Something was seriously happening here!  His fear for his children was foremost on his mind.  He turned to his alternate self.  "Where are Will and Holly?" he asked.
  His alternate self answered, "Will is off in the lower Sleestak caves collecting blue crystals.  Unfortunately, Holly...

 

Strange Days Indeed! Part X

by John Speelman

" ...has been snagged by the malfunctioning doorway. As near as we can tell, it's dropped her in some kind of self-sustaining loop. Because the door appeared close to some dormsnt "station" of some time, it triggered a sympathetic vibration in the crystals' dimensional matrix. She entered a passageway just as the rogue gate grabbed her. She continues to walk down the passage, and enters the gate again as it sweeps towards her. Then she enters the passage again, and gets grabbed by the gate, and over and over."
        The alternate looked at Rick. "At this point the rogue gate has moved again, but left her in this feedback loop. We know exactly which passage she's in, but can't get to her."
        "Yet, Rick Marshall," Enik replied as he worked on the contraption laid out before him. "I believe we can get to her by reversing the input signal of this, er, "tran-sister ray-dio device." He looked up at the
others, momentarily puzzled. "Why would such a device be named for a non-specific sibling rather than a specific inventor? Are there also tran-brother or uncle devices?"
        The two Ricks stared at him for a second or two, blinking slowly. The alternate Rick strangled something in his throat and turned away for a moment to regain composure. The other Rick gravely answered Enik. "A great deal of our science is based on the teachings of a great physicist, Albert Einstein, and his Theory of, well, Relativit, wherein he states that everything is, well, um, relative..."
        Enik blinked, nodded gravely, and returned to his work. He didn't see or hear the alternate Rick kick his counterpart in the ankle and threaten him with a big meaty fist.
        "It is my hope that this circuitry, when connected to a pylon, will enable us to set up a temporal harmonic vibration slightly out of phase with the one keeping Holly a prisoner. It will either collapse the sequence she is in and allow her to just walk out, or it will cause a catastrophic explosion or implosion and throw her out with some force. We have not much time to waste. I suggest that due to the nature of the loop starting her back at the beginning with no significant elapsed time, she could conceivably starve to death in the space of a few of our hours."
        "So how long before you can try it out?"
        "Soon. However, I would be grateful if one of you would go down that passage to my quarters and retrieve the pot of salve I made for my foot. "The reptilian eyes glanced up. "Mental discipline can block some of the pain, but I haven't been able to do anything about the fact that while this foot is regenerating, it itches. Badly. And it is very distracting. It's very difficult to scratch an itch on a foot that isn't there. The salve will temporarily deaden the nerve endings and give me some ease. I obviously don't wish to deaden the nerves more permanently while the healing process is continuing."
        Slightly shaken at his daughter's plight, Rick One nodded and set off down the passage.
        Enik paused to stretch slightly. Rick Two looked at the incomprehensible conglomeration of transistors and crystals and what-not. "Enik, is that part of the circuit board supposed to be glowing like that?"
        "Like what, Rick Marshall?" The reptilian eyes gazed down. "I see nothing."
        "I guess our eyes see in slightly different portions of the visiblle light spectrum. That portion, there." He pointed. "It's got a faint glow"
        Enik frowned. "That should only be active in the presence of a temporal harmonic field. But there aren't any in the area..." He broke off and turned to the passageway where Rick One had just gone down in search of the itch salve. His voice bellowed down the passage.
        "Rick Marshall! Stop! Come back!"

        Rick One was partly down the passage when he heard Enik's bellow behind him.
        "Rick Marsh-" The voice cut off. Uh-oh, he thought. Someone's been grabbed. But who? Me or them? He turned and retraced his route back to the cave where Enik and Rick Two were working on the circuit.
        There was no one there. "Hello! Enik? Rick? Hello!"
        "Hello!" the sound behind him made him jump. He turned to face the source of the unfamiliar voice. A stranger! And human! Medium height, with curly black hair and rugged hands.
        "What the heck is this place? Where the heck am I? One moment I'm picking fruit, the next moment something picked me, and I'm here. How do I get back to my kids?" He paused a moment, then shook his head. "I'm sorry. I'm a little confused" He stuck out a hand. "It's good to see a new face. My name's Porter. Tom Porter."

 

Strange Days Indeed! Part XI

by Matthew Brenner


     "I, I'm Rick Marshall.  Welcome to the Land of the Lost."
     "You're lost?  I thought *I* was lost.  This is great, just great.  The lost leading the lost..."
     "C'mon, we've gotta find a friend of mine, he'll know what to do," said Rick Marshall Number One.  He made ready to turn in the direction he believed Enik to be in, when his campanion put a hand on his shoulder. 
     "Wait a second," Tom said.  "I know where it is."  He pointed.  "It's this way."
     "But how do you--"
     "Don't ask me how, or why I know--I just know."  Wearily, Rick began to follow his new guide down a side tunnel, which he hadn't noticed before.  He could have sworn it wasn't even there a second ago.  But then, neither was Tom, or he for that matter.  He felt a strange sense of displacement, far more than he usually did.  As he watched his companion press ahead confidently he had a flash of deju vu.

      "Fat rats!"  I knew I shouldn't have run off this morning, Holly thought to herself as she trudged along.  She was walking down a featureless corridor.  She felt hungry, tired, and dejected.  I'm sure gonna get it from Dad, but he's probably too worried about me to punish me.  How did I get myself into this mess?  The day was perfect, the first truly "normal" day in the Land of the Lost.  At least it started out that way.  I played that trick on Will, gave him the slip.  I was talkin' to Dopey, and then Big Alice came.  If it wasn't for everyone on the shore I would've never gotten away.  I sure do owe them a lot.  They probably think I was eaten by big Alice!  But it was something else that swallowed me up.  If it wasn't Alice, what was it?  Whatever it was, I've been walking here for hours.  I can't turn back after going this far.  Besides, there's that light off in the distance.  The exit?
     Her stomach growled, and the gnawing feeling left her temporarily weak.
    "Fat rats!" she exclaimed.  "I'm so hungry I could just about eat a rat..!"

      Rick Marshall Number One followed behind his new companion as they traversed the winding tunnels of the Lost City.  They were in a completely new part of the City and he was feeling uneasy.  As if sensing it, Tom Porter stopped and said "let's rest for a moment."
      "O.K."
      "I've been meaning to ask you, how did you get here?  I mean, how did you wind up in the Land of the Lost--was it a cataclysmic event like an earthquake?"
      "Yes and no.  There was an earthquake, but we were rafting, and got in the rapids.  There was no escape, the current pulled us right down to the waterfall and I was sure we were dead.  I even saw my life flash before my eyes, the whole thing..."
      "I've been meaning to ask you," Tom Porter said, "how did you get here?  I mean, how did you wind up in the Land of the Lost--was it a cataclysmic event like an earthquake?"
      "Yes and no.  There was an earthquake--"  Rick stopped.  That's strange, he thought.  "...but we were rafting, and got into the rapids. There was no escaping it, the current pulled us right down the waterfall and I was sure we were dead.  I even saw my life flash before my eyes."  As he talked, he noticed that his companion's eyes barely registered anything--neither surprise nor boredom.  It was as if he was talking to a statue.  The statue spoke:
      "And Will and Holly, where are they now?"
      "Oh, well that's just it.  They--how do you know the names of my kids!" Rick demanded.
      SSSsssssssssssssssssssssss.  The Sleestak lunged at Rick, knocking him against the wall of the tunnel.  He tried to flee but the creature's claws had him in a vice-grip.  He blacked out.  The next thing he knew...


Strange Days Indeed! Part XII

by Clayton Barr

...an acrid smelling fog was rolling around him.  Rick shook his head to clear it.  Have I been asleep?  Unconscious?  His vision cleared enough for him to recognize that he was in the Sleestaks' Library of Skulls.  Or, rather a Library of Skulls...
   
As he took in the surroundings, he saw that while the general layout appeared similar, some of the skulls sitting atop the pedestals were not Sleestak but from a creature he did not recognize.  These skulls had much smaller eye sockets and short spines projecting out from protruding brows and on ridges on top of the head.  One of the skulls suddenly lifted up from its pedestal and floated in the air.
   
Two tall, green Sleestak approached him.  One was clearly the Sleestak leader, wearing the ceremonial pendant. The other figure was a typical Sleestak drone and wore an "I'm With Stupid" t-shirt.
   
I'm hallucinating again, just like the last time the Sleestak brought me here!  Could this entire strange day have been part of a drug-induced vision?  But then how did I get here?  The last thing I remember is walking down the corridor with another human!  Tom Porter, that was his name!  But then Tom had seemed to turn into a Sleestak.  So, it was a trick just like when they tricked Will and Holly into seeing their mother!
   
Rick's thoughts grew thick and his head felt heavy as his vision wavered and the drone Sleestak transformed into his beautiful wife.  The figure still wore that ridiculous t-shirt though on her it looked good.  "Sarah?" Rick mumbled through his dry, cottony mouth.
   
"Yes, Rick, it's me."
   
"Why are you here?"  This isn't real, Rick reminded himself, but maybe if I play along I can escape somehow...or at least learn something.
   
"I don't understand how I got here.  Enik tried to explain but it went over my head.  I know we have to rescue Holly and help Enik close the malfunctioning time doorways.  Then we can all go back to where we belong." She touched his face, her hand like like a warm spring breeze and Rick suddenly felt as if she were real.  But that couldn't be!  Could it?  Hard to tell how realistic a hallucination could be when actual reality in the Land of the Lost was warped enough as it is!
   
"W-where's Tom?"
   
"He should be with Will now, helping him to gather crystals."  She pointed him toward an exit in the stone wall. "Holly is wandering those corridors, lost.  Find her and bring her back here quickly.  It's almost time for Enik to complete his work and seal off the time-doorways. And be careful.  I have control of most of the Sleestak so they won't harm you right now, but there is an offshoot race...the ones that look like these strange skulls you see...and they are still independent of my will.  They're bigger, stronger, faster than the Sleestak you're familiar with and they'll kill any human they see."
   
She pushed him gently out the opening.  "Control the Sleestak?  How--"
   
But the stone had somehow sealed shut behind him.  She was nowhere in sight.  All just another illusion?  It was too hard to think straight.

******

A simple wave of her hand had sealed the door shut behind Rick.  Concentrating, her features changed subtly, her face grew just slightly thinner, her height just a bit shorter.  She wore now an emerald green gown.  The illusion was gone.
   
She pulled a small white crystal from a pocket in her gown and concentrating her will through it, an image of Rick appeared.
   
A portly gentleman walked up to her side pushing aside the Sleestak leader who stood unmoving.  "Can he possibly get everyone back where they belong in time...and space...and reverse the Sleestaks' meddling across the dimensions?"
   
The image of Rick began to walk steadily down the stone corridor.  "Holly!" he shouted.
   
"I know my dad, Blandings.  He'll get it accomplished," Rani replied.

 

Strange Days Indeed! Part XIII

by Robert Porter

Blandings bland expression blanched.  Under his breath, he said, "I'm not so sure I share your confidence."

***

  Rick Marshall Two pleaded to Enik.  "My other self has been picked up by another time doorway, hasn't he."  A frightened Cha-ka held on tight to his leg while Rick kept a protecting hand on his shoulder.
  Looking up from the matrix table, Enik said, "I believe so, Rick Marshall."
  "Is there any way we can help him?"
  "We do not know where or when he has gone.  It would be foolish to wander out of the protection of this cave and risk *you* being taken yet again."
  "What about the itching of your severed foot.  Don't you need the salve?"
  "We cannot take the risk.  I can use my superior Altrusian intellect to mask the itching distraction.  The disappearance of the other Rick Marshall so close to this cave is proof that the time doorway malfunction has gotten worse.  We must stay protected if we are to save your daughter.  We must remain here until Will Marshall returns with the necessary blue crystals.  Only then will I have a chance of completing my task."
  *Meanwhile, there's also the risk that Will can be taken by the runaway time doorway before he can get back with the crystals,* Rick thought.  He had to know zwhat was going on and couldn't stand the not knowing.  "Can we use the matrix table to see if Will is all right and if everything's okay."
  Staring at him for a moment, Enik finally replied.  "That is most logical.  It can be accomplished."  He bent over the strange contraption on the matrix table and began manipulating it.

***

  "Fat rats!" Holly exclaimed.  "I'm so hungry I could just about eat a rat...!"  She paused with yet another strange sense of deja vu.  Why did that keep happening?
  The light of the exit was just in front of her.  She headed toward it again, but stumbled.  She was getting weak, unsure if she could go on. The hunger gnawed at her.  She needed something to eat and soon. Struggling against the weakness, she righted herself and headed toward the tantilizing exit before her...

***

  "Is this what you're looking for?" Tom Porter asked as he pointed to a cluster of faintly glowing blue crystals nestled in a crook of the cave wall.
  Will Marshall backed up and looked at where Tom pointed.  "Yes!" he said excitedly.  He opened his bag and took his knife to the crystals, trying to free them from the wall.  "You only just got here and you seem to have better eyes that *I* do."
  "Well, I think it's just blind luck."  Tom backed out of the way to give Will the room to work.  "I want to get back to Annie and Kevin and make sure they're okay, so maybe that's my inspiration."
  "Whatever it is," Will grunted, "I sure am grateful because you just saved us a whole lot of time and trouble."
  Tom Porter had reason to be concerned.  He had been out in the jungle checking their fire-water retainers when he'd run into a very angry and agitated Scarface.  He had attempted to hide in the jungle, when he'd suddenly found himself engulfed in a smoky, blue time doorway and transported to this cave.  He wandered around trying to find the way out and back to his kids.
  While wandering, he encountered another person trapped in the Land of the Lost, named Will Marshall.  Will explained to him about his own family, so similar to his own, being trapped in the land and how an errant time doorway was running loose and unexpectedly transporting them to places and times all over the land.  This latter phenomenon explained how Tom Porter had gotten here.
  Will had said that a smart Sleestak, known as an Altrusian, knew how to fix the problem and they needed to gather the blue crystals to help him.  Not knowing what else to do, Tom helped him search for the crystals.  He was willing to do anything to get back to his kids.
  "So this Sleestak knows how to use these crystals to control the time doorways?" Tom asked his new companion.
  "Yeah, he has them arranged on a matrix table, like a computer and manipulates the time doorways."
  At this, Tom started getting excited.  "Hey!  Do you think he could open a time doorway to our world and we all could go home?"
  Satisfied with his collection of crystals, Will stepped back, closed the bag and looked symathetically at Tom.  "Well, it can be done, but it apparently involves some very complex calculations.  He hasn't been able to figure it out yet.  If it were that easy, don't you think we'd have gone home ourselves by now?"
  Tom's face fell.  "You have a point."
  Will slapped him on the shoulder and indicated that they head back. "C'mon, let's see if maybe Enik *can* do something about this runaway time doorway, save my sister, get you back to your kids and maybe, just maybe, get us all back home."
  They turned to find the way blocked by a huge creature.  It's hands and feet were huge claws, it's head large with spiked, bony ridges across the top and a row of needle-sharp teeth in its mouth.  And it wore thick, leathery, spiked body armor.  It growled menacingly at them and stepped forward.
  Tom jumped in alarm.  "Sleestak!" he yelled.  Grabbing at Will Marshall's arm, he pulled them the other way down the corridor.
  However, Will hesitated.  "Sleestak!?  That's like no Sleestak I've
ever seen!"
  The strange looking Sleestak hissed at them.  "You will not stop me, hu-mans!  Shung wants power!"
   Terrified, Tom and Will turned and ran.

***

  Staring transfixed into the misty doorway that Enik had opened, Rick could only see his son and another man he didn't recognize.  For unknown reasons, there was no sound being transmitted through with the image, but they were carrying a silent conversation while Will dug the needed blue crystals out of a niche in the cave wall.
  "Sa-ree-sa-ta-ka!  Sa-ree-sa-ta-ka!"  Cha-ka jumped excitedly and backed up against the wall.
  Rick turned to Cha-ka.  "Cha-ka!  What's the matter?  That's not a Sleestak, that's a human, like us."
  "No, Sa-ree-sa-ta-ka!  Meni me!  Ku!  Ku!"
  "Calm down, Cha-ka.  It's only--"  Suddenly Will and the other man froze, fear playing across their silent faces as they stared horrified at something that Rick and Enik couldn't see. 
  Enik adjusted the time doorway image to take in what they were seeing. It was a armored, bony, barrel-chested creature that moved menacingly toward the two humans.
  "What is *that*!?" Rick shouted as he pointed toward the image.
  "Sa-ree-sa-ta-ka!" Cha-ka shouted.
  Enik sighed.  "It is much worse than I feared, Rick Marshall..."

 

Strange Days Indeed! Part XIV

by Matt Brenner

    "Continue to watch," Enik said.  "But I warn you, what you will see will be unpleasant.  It may even be intolerable."  Before their eyes, the armored creature pierced Will's body with a opened claw.  Will crumpled to the floor, bleeding.  Tom didn't stand a chance.  He was slashed across the face by the creature, and fell helplessly to the ground.  Then the "thing" did something very strange indeed.  It simply sat down.  It sat down on top of Tom Porter's limp body, put it's head in it's hand, and assumed "The Thinker" position.
    Occasionally, it muttered:  "Got to get you into my heart--babe--got to get
you into my world--babe."  It hummed along, very poorly and out-of-tune.
    Enik broke the silence:  "My worst fears are consumed.  We Altrusians have a legend, of a sinister one called Sl'ive.  To you he is simply "The Singing Sleestak":  c'mon we must go.  Otherwise, he will continue to torture your friends and family.  Their last dying breaths will have to sustain the horribly out-of-tune ramblings of Sl'ive."
    "What do you propose we do?" said Rick Marshall number six.  "We don't even know where they are.  All we have as a reference is this rather fuzzy image."
    "Do not criticize the reception of my dimensional doorway, Rick Marshall," said Enik, rather angrily.  "Yes, it is true I bought it at Radio Shack and I'm powering it with those batteries you provided.  As you can see"  Enik
said, pointing to the image "those were not energizer batteries but were Dinosaur-blood batteries.  They make a poor substitute for fourth dimensional nodes."
    "Look Enik, this is no time for humor" said Rick, as Chaka gripped his leg ever tighter, continuing to jump up and down and saying "Sa-ree-sa-ta-ka! Sa-ree-sa-taka!!" over and over again.  Pretty soon Chaka had both arms and both legs wrapped around Rick's left leg.  It was all he could do to shake him off and calm him down, but it was rather too briskly for Chaka and he bit his lip.  "Fat-Rip  Fat-Rip!!" Chaka now exclaimed.

*****

    Holly had composed a poem about hunger, but she couldn't remember it just now.  She swore she'd always remember all of the starving children in every universe ever, just as long as she could eat something and go to sleep.  Sweet sleep.  Ahhhh.  The light grew blinding, and then *POOF!* Holly found herself lying in the tall grass by the edge of the swamp.
    Some clarinet music started to play, and then all of a sudden Dopey's head took a bite out of the grass by her head.  The next bite would have been her head!  "Dopey!" Holly exclaimed.  "You look good enough to eat," but your probably not kosher.  "Boy I'm sure glad to see you."  And with that, Holly raised herself and stretched in the mid-afternoon sun.  She didn't care where her brother was, or her father, or Chaka or anybody.  She just wanted to get home to the cave, eat a strawberry or two, and stretch out in that sleeping bag of hers.
    Perhaps if she did that, she reasoned, she'd wake up and all of it -- the whole thing -- would have been a dream.  And she'd go get water the next morning after being reprimanded by her Dad, and Will would tag along, and she'd ditch him.  And the whole thing started to play itself out in her head again.  It's a circle, she thought.  A closed universe!  That's it.  Not only is this physically a closed universe, but psychologically, and *gulp* historically, this was a closed circle of a place.  We were destined to have our adventures, to live our lives, to plan our escapes, to cheat disaster, and maybe get lucky.  But it was all going to repeat, eventually.  No matter how far we got, we were destined to live it again.
    The thought sent a wave a depression through Holly's normally sunny disposition.  We're trapped in more ways than one, Holly thought.
    And then along came a voice:  "Dopey, Dopey!!  It's me....Holly!"

Strange Days Indeed! Part XV

by John Speelman


        Oh no, Holly thought. Dad once said that he was afraid of what might happen if we met ourselves. She frantically looked around, then dove for concealment in a thick brush. Dopey, ever loyal (or maybe attracted to juicy greenery) plodded along to the bush and began to crop it.
        "No!" she whispered to him. "Stop it! Go away, you dopey thing!" She dared to reach out and smack him on the nose. Dopey's dim mind couldn't comprehend how or why a bush could smack him on the nose, and he retreated a step in surprise. That bush also smells funny. It smells sort of like the little two-legs that feeds me...
        "Dopey! There you are!" The little two-legs stepped out of the bush over there. Dopey's head swiveled around. How can she be there when I smelled her over...there... Over there is some some nice bushes, too, and
water. The dino trundled to the water's edge with the little two-legs following.
        Holly watched wide-eyed from her concealment as Dopey lumbered away, followed by herself. This is too freaky! she thought. Her face brightened. But if this is now early today, maybe I can help break the loop! She dashed out of cover and away from where Dopey and Holly Two were going. If I can catch up to Enik, maybe I can warn him about his foot! He's smart, he'll think of something...
 
************************************************************

        Tom regained consciousness slowly. Painfully. His limbs were like lead, he could hardly move, and he was having trouble breathing. He attempted to shift his position, and realized he was pinned down by something heavy. He opened his eyes and saw that he was face down on the ground, and out of the corner of his eye he saw what appeared to be a large Sleestak sitting on his back.  The sleestak was muttering something. Tom held what little breath he had and listened.
        "Strange words...music in my head... can't get it out..." The low gutterals changed slightly in pitch and tone. "And at three forty-five on a sunny Monday afternoon, we warn you that northbound Henderson Highway is
backed up from Redwood to Disraeli because of a stalled Miata at the lights. Better take Main to Redwood if you can, then north. Otherwise the freeway will get ya! Now comin' up is the fast rising hit from Justin Hayward and the Moody Blues, I know You're Out There Somewhere..."
        Porter groaned as the creature on his back rocked back and forth, moaning and singing off key. "I know you're out there somewhere, somewhere, somewhere. I know you're out there somewhere, and somehow I'll return again to you..."
        He waited until the beast rocked to his left, then quickly rolled his body to the left. The Sleestak slid off with a mild thump and didn't seem to notice him as he scrambled to his feet. Off to Tom's left was the crumpled form of the young lad -Will, was it? Yes, Will. He wasn't moving aside from minor twitching and shallow breathing. Tom staggered over to him,
and knelt next to the young man as a wave of dizziness washed over him. He put his head down for a moment, then shook Will's shoulder. "Will? Will, c'mon now son, wake up." He whispered. Will came to slowly.
        "Dad? No. Mr. Porter?"
        "Call me Tom, okay? Can you get up?"
        "I dunno. Dizzy-"
        "Yeah, you're bleeding a little where Maestro over there struck you."
        "Maestro? Oh, him. A singing lizard man? Hey, you're bleeding a little, too!  Are those things poisonous, you think?"
        "I don't know that Sleestaks are poisonous, at least Shung and his cronies didn't seem to be when we fought."
        "He's not like any Sleestak I've ever seen. Oh, man, will you listen to that awful noise he's making? Sounds like a chicken strangler at a bagpipe contest!"
        Tom laughed out loud. "Oh, that's good! Say, we ought to-"
        "Rraaaaaggghhhrrrr! You! Creatures! Your voices!" They turned to see the monstrous creature advancing on them, one hand held to it's head while the other pointed at them. "Your voices! Like the ones in my head! Make it stoooppp!" It lunged at them, claws outstretched! Tom and Will ducked under its arms. Tom snapped his leg out in a side thrust kick and caught the monster in the back of the knee. It stumbled, but so did Tom. The impact felt like he'd kicked a stone wall!
        "RRaaarrrrggghhh!" It spun to it's feet, facing them again, singing!  "Everybody was Kung-Fu fighting (Hoo! Hah!) Those fists were fast as lightning..."
        "This is ridiculous!" Will shouted. "He's insane! We can't fight him!"
        "And he smells just horrible!" Tom yelled as he ducked a wild swing.

        Enik and Rick watched in horror as the two humans in their viewer were forced to try to avoid the raging Sleestak. Chaka was still muttering in the corner about his "fat rip".
        "Rick" said Enik. "I fear we can do nothing. The creature's rage is all consuming, and its insanity is sustaining its strength."
        Rick pounded his clenched fists on the console in frustration. "We must be able to do something! I can't just watch my son get killed like this!" A wisp of smoke trailed up from beneath his fists where a thin
crystal had been pulverized. Bits of powdered crystal sifted over to other parts of the makeshift circuitry.
        "We have to do something!"
        The two humans in the screen looked up. "Dad?" Will called. "Is that you?"
        Tom Porter backed away from the raging Sleestak. Rick's voice came out of thin air! "Hey! Rick! Can you help us?"
        Enik grabbed Rick's hands away from the circuitry. "Fool! What have you done? You cannot deny the creature's feeding or its wrath will destroy
many of my people!"
        "That's my son! I won't stand idly by if I can help!" Rick turned back to the screen. "Will! Stay down out of sight! Tom, keep it chasing you, maybe you can wear it out!"
        The three combatants staggered and lurched around as if drunk, trying to hit or avoid each other without much success either way. Will ducked down behind the beast and Rick yelled over its horrid singing. "Tom!
Musical clue! C sharp!"
        Tom, perplexed for a moment, almost got his head ripped from his shoulders, and ducked just in time. C sharp? What?-oh. I C it. "Okay, Sleestak, improve the tune! Time" he sprang forward and planted his shoulder
in the thing's chest.
       "To" he continued as the Sleestak staggered back and tripped over Will's body. It crashed to the ground, slamming the back of its head to the stone floor with a horrendous KLONK!
        "B Flat!"
        The creature moaned once and lay still. Will scrambled back to his feet. "Is it over? Is he done? Yuck, he smells even worse now!"
        The creature lay on its back, muttering and gasping for breath. Tom held Will upright. "You know, listening to it earlier, I got the notion that somehow its mind  could pick up radio signals somehow, from Earth. The
foreign language and concepts probably drove it insane. Over the years, it probably became deathly ill and was outcast. Judging from its actions and weakened state, it probably won't survive much longer." He peered at the
body on the floor. "Look at it. Cancerous looking growths all over it. No wonder its in pain. Probably being eaten alive."
        Will and Tom knelt a little closer to listen to the creature's mumblings as its eyes stared off into space.
        "It smells even worse, now, and listen..."
        An almost-familiar tune drifted from the Sleestak, but the words were strange. "Mine isn't and is what know to got I've and. Time my done I've home comin' I'm"
        Tom thought for a moment, then his shoulders slumped. "Come on, Will, let's find a way out of here. This poor creature is done for and he knows it."
        "How can you tell? Why does it sound like he's singing backwards? "
        "That's how I know he knows he's dying. That and the smell." He led Will away from the body, little gasps stuttering out its last life.
        "He's de-composing."

 

Strange Days Indeed! Part XVI

by Robert Porter

 


      They stood and watched the morbid sight of the Sleestak as he died. In a strange sort of way, Tom felt compassion for it.
  "Will Marshall!" Enik's voice cried out from the air.  "We need those blue crystals.  Please hurry."
  Will looked around himself in confusion.  "Where are you?  I hear you, but I can't *see* you."
  "I have a temporal portal open such that I and your father can see you and have just witnessed your encounter with the singing Sleestak.  Thank you for ridding the valley of the threat, but the more immediate threat
is the runaway time doorway.  We need those crystals!"
  Will and Tom exchanged a worried glance.  "We're on our way." said Tom.  They turned and hurried away.

***

  "If we have the dimensional time doorway open to them," asked Rick of Enik, "how come they couldn't just step through and come directly here to your cave?"
  "Because, Rick Marshall," answered Enik in a slightly patronizing tone, "we witnessed your son and the other human through a temporal portal, which is *not* the same as a dimensional time doorway.  A temporal portal is less likely to disrupt the space/time continuum of the Land of the Lost.  The less disruption there is to the space/time continuum, the less likely that this errant time doorway is to do more damage to the Land of the Lost."
  "Right," said Rick, not really understanding at all.
  "Sa-ree-sa-ta-ka!" Cha-ka shouted, still frightened of the strange looking singing Sleestak.

***

  After a few moments of navigating the tunnels, Tom turned a corner in the cave and encountered something from a nightmare.  It was a tall, thin creature with green scales, clawed hands, crystaline eyes, a thin, wide mouth, and a single protruding horn.  It hissed menacingly at him.   "Sleestak!" Will shouted.  He turned and dragged Tom back the way they'd came.  Tom followed, horrified at the creature.
  After a few twists and turns, the Sleestak was obviously not following them and Will stopped at a small niche of the cave wall.  Catching his breath, Tom looked at him incredulously.  "Did you say Sleestak?"
  "Yeah, they live down in these caves of the lost city."
  Realization dawned on his face.  "Our Sleestak look *nothing* alike. The ones from my world look like the singing Sleestak back there.  Your Sleestak look like those."  Tom pointed a thumb in the direction of the green monstrosity.   "Really?" said Will.  "I wonder if they behave anything alike?  Maybe if we compare notes, we could get some insight into them."
  Tom was curious, but he was also aware that they were under a time crunch-- and he was anxious to locate his children and ensure they were safe.  "Maybe, but hopefully we'll have time to talk about that *after*
we've gotten these blue crystals back to your friend and fix whatever's wrong."
  "Agreed."  Will sighed and looked back the way they'd came.  "I think I might know another way to get there and avoid the Sleestak.  C'mon."

***

  As Holly dashed out to meet Enik in the swamp and try to stop this whole mess from starting in the first place, her father stepped out from amongst the nearby tall grass and intercepted her.  "Holly don't!" he cried in a half hushed voice.
  Holly ground to a halt and looked at her father quizically.  "I don't understand, Daddy.  Where'd you come from?"
  Rick pulled her into the grass to hide from view and explain.  "I know what's happening.  I understand it all now.  I'm from your future, Holly.  The events that happen here in the swamp, you being chased by Big Alice and Enik losing his foot, they *must* happen for everything to be set right.  We can't interfere anymore."
  "You're from the future!"
  "That's right, Holly."
  "Then where's *my* Daddy?"
  "I *am* your Daddy, Holly.  I'm from just a little bit in the future. I've had a chance to meet some interesting people and they've helped me figure out what's going on here.  We must get back to High Bluff and wait for Enik and the others to show up.  We have something they need.  Rick pulled a large clear crystal out of his pocket and showed it to her.  Inside the crystal could be seen what looked like a thousand dancing stars.
  Her eyes grew wide.  "Oh, it's beautiful.  I think I understand now."
  "Good."  Rick put the crystal back in his pocket.  "Let's get out of here and make sure they don't see us-- no matter what you hear."
  They walked silently away to the sound of a roaring Big Alice and the distant sound of the other Holly's cries for help.

***

  Will ducked his head inside Enik's cave and was relieve to find his father, Enik and Cha-ka still there.  He and Tom stepped inside.
  "Will!" his father shouted upon seeing him.
  "Will Marshall!" commanded Enik.  "The blue crystals!  Hurry!" 
  Will obediently handed over the crystals and turned to his father. "Dad.  This is Tom Porter.  We met in the lower Sleestak caves."
  Rick reached out to shake his hand.  "I saw what you did back there with that strange-looking, singing Sleestak.  I want to thank you for helping my son."
  With an expression of stunned dismay, Tom responded.  "Heh.  Well, I can't say I understand it all, but I'm glad to help."
  "Dad," Will interrupted, "Tom's from a world similar to ours.  He's from another Land of the Lost... like ours, but different."  While Enik worked at the matrix table, Will and Tom explained what they had learned about their respective worlds: the dinosaurs, the Pakuni, the Sleestak, the pylons, etc.
  Their full explanation was cut short by Enik.  "Something is wrong. The blue crystals should have equalized the matrix table.  Instead, it seems to still have a missing piece.  I cannot stop the runaway time doorway."
  Alarmed, Rick asked, "What do you need?  What is the missing piece?"
  Enik sighed.  "It *should* work as it is currently constructed.  I do not know what the problem is."

***

  On their way back to High Bluff, the future Rick and Holly heard a rustling in the brush.  Rick grabbed Holly and shoved her out of the way and they crouched to secretly watch what was making the noise.
  Abruptly, the Paku named Ta bolted out of the brush.  He had a wild look in his eye as he ran by them shouting in Pakuni gibberish.  No sooner had he appeared, then he vanished.
  Rick and Holly stood and looked after him.  "What do you supposed is wrong with him?" Holly asked.
  "We have no idea of knowing." Rick answered.
  They once again headed off to High Bluff.  After threading their was through the trees, they discovered what Ta was afraid of.  There across the clearing was the Land of the Lost's resident triceratops... and he looked angry and ready to charge.  Holly screamed.
  "Oh, no, it's Spike!" Rick lamented.


Strange Days Indeed! Part XVII

by Robert Porter


  Spike charged across the clearing at them.

  "C'mon, Holly!" shouted Rick.  "Let's go!"  He pulled Holly back into the brush.  The ground rumbled with Spike's massive steps as they wound there way away from the clearing and the protection of several bulky
trees.
  They both stopped and listened.  They could hear the dinosaur thrashing about amongst the ferns at the clearing's edge, but it stopped when he was apparently satisfied that they were gone.
  Holly breathed a sigh of relief.  "That was close."
  Rick looked toward the clearing.  "Spike sure doesn't like anybody else in his territory, does he?"
  "No, he doesn't.  If he's going to act like that everytime we want to walk by, he can have it!"
  Rick smiled at his daughter's reaction.  His expression turned serious when he put his hand in his pocket and fingered the mysterious crystal.  "We'll have to go around.  We need to get back to High Bluff as soon as possible."
  They took off for the cave, being sure to skirt Spike's territory.

***

  Enik and Rick fretted over the problem with Enik's attempt to stop the errant time doorway, while Tom and Will stood by helplessly.
  Then something, or someone, caught Tom's eye.  He squatted down and eyeballed Cha-ka.  "I see you have Pakuni in your world as well."
   Timid, but curious, Cha-ka stepped up to him and examined him back, while still keeping out of arms length.
  "That's right," Will told him.  "This is Cha-ka."  Will directed his next comment at the little Paku.  "Cha-ka.  This is Tom Porter.  He's a friend."
  Encouraged by Will's words, but still not fully trusting, Cha-ka inched forward.  "Fa-rend-a?" he asked.
  "Friend." Tom answered.  He extended his hand to show he wouldn't hurt him.
  "He's human." Will told him.  "Just like us.  He won't hurt you.  Go ahead and shake his hand."
  At that, Cha-ka seemed to easily accept Tom Porter.  He grabbed his extended hand and shook vigorously... a little *too* vigorously. "Cha-ka *like* shake!" he shouted excitedly.
  "Whoa!" Tom shouted, after finally recovering his hand.  "It's very nice to meet you, Cha-ka."
  Cha-ka answered him.  "Me dobi ra tusa tu.  Tusa tu roma Tom-a Pur-ter-a." 
  A look of confusion crossed Tom's face.  "Um... what?"  He looked at Will in confusion.
  "What's the matter?" Will asked.  "Don't the Pakuni on your world speak Paku?"
  "Well, it's not perfect, but they speak English... sort of a broken English.  We have a friend, much like Cha-ka, and he can at least carry a conversation.  Stink."
  Will sniffed.  The Paku had a certain odor, but they didn't really smell all that bad.  "Careful." Will told him.  "Cha-ka may not speak very good English, but he *can* understand some of it.  I wouldn't go insulting him in front of his face."
  "Huh?"  Tom wasn't sure what he meant by that, but after a second or two, realization dawned on him.  "Oh!  You thought I was saying that Cha-ka stinks.  Not at all.  That's the name of my Paku friend in my world. He--"  Tom stopped speaking and stood up as Rick Marshall approached.
  "It doesn't look good," Rick told them.  "Enik says he's still missing something from the matrix table.  The missing piece is throwing the calculations off."
  "What is it, Dad?" Will pleaded.  "What does he need?  Just let us know and we'll go find it."
  "What we *need* is a magetti.  Otherwise, we need something just as powerful to make up for it."
  "What about more crystals?" Tom asked.  "Would they work?"
  "And where can we find something as strong as the magetti?" Will continued.
  Then a voice from the cave entrance interrupted their thoughts.  "*I* know what we need.  And I know where to get it."  They all turned to see a duplicate Will Marshall standing at the cave's entrance.

***

  Holly and her father from the future approached the rocks leading up to High Bluff.  As they began their ascent, a sense of deja vu washed over Rick Marshall and he looked upwards, half expecting to see himself
already inside the cave.  He climbed the rest of the way up to meet his daughter and was somewhat relieved to find the cave empty.
  "Now what?" Holly asked expectantly.
  "We wait."
  "Wait for what?"
  "We wait for someone to meet us."  He pulled the star-filled crystal out of his pocket.  "And then we give them this."
  "How long will it take them to get here, Daddy?  And who are we waiting for?"
  Rick wished he had a good answer to give her, but he really wasn't sure he believed it himself.

***

  The duplicate Will Marshall looked haggard and tired as he stepped into Enik's cave and confronted them.  "I'm from your future," he said. He looked at his slightly younger self standing beside Tom Porter.  "I'm you.  I was standing right where you are and doing the same things you're doing just a few days ago, before that crazy, runaway time doorway picked me up and took me for a ride through time."
  "Are you all right, son?" asked Rick of his doppelganger son.
  "Yeah, Dad.  I'll be all right.  I was with you in another time and you had a crystal.  It was big and all sparkly, like it was full of a bunch of tiny lights.  *That's* what we need to fix this time doorway!"
  "But I don't have a crystal like that."
  "But you do, Dad.  Or you will.  Or... Oh!  There's another one of you in the Land of the Lost who has the crystal.  When we last met, you told me you were going to High Bluff, where it was safe.  I was to come here
and tell Enik to open a portal there so he could find you and get the crystal he needed to fix the problem with the runaway time doorway."
  Tom Porter interjected.  "Well how do we know this crystal will work?"
  Enik stepped up and answered him.  "Because he--" Enik pointed to the Will Marshall from the future-- "is him."  He turned his clawed hand and at the original Will Marshall who had arrived with Tom Porter.  "They
are the same person, but at different points in time."
  "That's right!" answered the future Will.  "I've already been here and seen myself come in here.  I've seen Enik put the crystal in the matrix table and stop the runaway time doorway."
  "In that case," said Rick, "let's get that crystal."  Enik and Rick turned away to hover over the hodge podge of crystals and batteries on the matrix table and attempt to find the Rick Marshall with the needed crystal.  The future Will Marshall noticed Enik's bandaged foot and wondered what had happened to him...

***

  It had only been a few minutes when the wall of the cave a High Bluff shimmered with smoke and distorted light.  Holly had been slicing some vegetables for dinner and was the first to notice it.  "Daddy!" she cried out.
  Rick looked up.  "That's it!  That's what we've been waiting for!"
  "What is it?"
  "It's a time doorway.  And it should lead to Enik's cave."
  "Enik's cave?  Why can't it lead home?"
  But Rick ignored the rhetorical question, grabbed Holly by the hand and stepped toward the doorway.  "Hello?" he called out.  There was no answer.  "Can you hear me?"
  The light distortion of the doorway diminished and they could see indistinct shapes on the other side, but the boiling smoke made it impossible to tell what was there.  "Maybe we should just step through."
He held Holly close to his side and they walked forward into the smoke. the smoke.  the smoke.  the smoke.  the smoke.  smoke.  smoke.  smoke. 
  The darkness of Enik's cave greeted them.
  "Rick Marshall!" Enik cried out before Rick was even able to gain his bearings from the transfer.  "The crystal!  I need it!"  Wordlessly, he fished it out of his pocket and passed it over.  Enik hungrily took it
and started arranging it on the matrix table.
  "Ah-ree?"  Cha-ka stepped up to them and looked quizzically at Holly.
  Holly smiled and hugged her Paku friend.  "Cha-ka!  I'm glad you're okay.  Boy, what an adventure *I've* had."
  The two Ricks gathered around Enik and watched him work.  "Enik, Will this solve the problem of the runaway time doorway?" one of them asked.
  "Yes, Rick Marshall.  The matrix table is already drawing the necessary power and I can now detect the disturbance in the dimensions of the Land of the Lost."  He tweeked and twisted some of the crystals. "I have located the runaway time doorway and am now slowing it's rate of travel through time.  As soon as I can stop it in one time and place..." He shifted more of the crystals.  "...I can deactivate it and all will be right in the Land of the Lost."
  Everyone stared transfixed on the smoky wall where the image from the time doorway slowly settled.  It eventually stopped in the middle of the jungle, where Spot could be seen digging at the ground, attempting to
locate an easy meal.  "I will now shut down this time doorway," Enik formally announced.  He touched the large crystal on the matrix table and turned it slightly...
  ZZZZZZAP!  And explosion of light and sound came from the matrix table, causing Enik to topple backward into the wall.  The image through the time doorway turned into a hazy blur as the doorway once again ran amok.
  "Enik!" Rick Marshall shouted as he ran after Enik and righted him once more.  "What happened?"
  "The time doorway did not stop," he answered.  "The crystal you have brought me, did not work."
  The future Will Marshall stepped up to him.  "I don't understand.  I was here just a day or so ago and saw all this happening.  I saw my past, the crystal stopped the time doorway just fine.  Why didn't it this
time?"
  Catching his breath, Enik patiently answered him.  "Time is malleable. What one experiences now, may not necessarily be so tomorrow.  Added to that, the existance of time in this land is in a state of constant flux. That is what caused the 'runaway' doorway in the first place.  There is no guarantee that events in the past will occur as you remember them."
  "I think what he's saying, Will, is that just because we've seen something happen once, it doesn't mean they can't be different if we re-experience them."
  "Well, then now what?" asked Will, clearly exasperated.  "We still have the runaway time doorway that's tearing this place apart!"
  Enik answered him gravely.  "I do not know."
  A dark, somber mood settled over them as they realized their world was literally falling apart.  Tom Porter felt the pain most of all, when he considered that he would never see his children again.  Would they be okay on their own?  They had Christa and Stink to help guide them.  And Kevin was smart enough to know how to take care of himself.  But they were still so young and so immature.  They surely did not know how to handle all that life could throw at them.  He wanted so much to return to them.  Why did the runaway time doorway have to pick *him* up, of all of them?
  Why indeed?
  "Hey guys," Tom said, breaking the silence.  "Why am I here?"
  The original Will who had met him looked up darkly.  "Because the time doorway picked you up."
  "No."  Tom was getting excited, thinking he was on to something. "Think about it.  This time doorway has been running around picking up people and things from different times and places and depositing them all over your world.  But that's just it.  It's been confined to just your world.  Why did it come into *my* world and pick *me* up?"
   They all stared at him dumbfounded.  "That is a good question," Enik stated flatly.
 "There must be something about *me* that your world needs to set things right-- to stop this runaway doorway."
  One of the Rick Marshall's looked at him sideways.  "Waitaminute.  I think you might be on to something."  He turned to Enik.  "Enik, is there something else you need for the matrix table that will help you stop the doorway?"
  Enik picked up the shattered remains of the crystal that Rick had brought to him from High Bluff.  "I need another crystal.  This one is damaged beyond repair."
  Rick turned back to Tom.  "Do you have a crystal from your world?"
  "No, but..."  Tom reached into his pocket and pulled out two large size "D" batteries.  "Will these do?"  A smile burst across his face.
  "YES!" shouted Enik.  He hungrily took the batteries from Tom, who quite willingly gave them up.  He cleared out room on the matrix table and arranged the crystals around the large batteries.
  The non-future Will moved protectively near his sister and Cha-ka and said, "I sure hope that battery still has enough power in it.  What kind is it?  I've never seen a brand like that."
  "It's an Energizer," Tom answered him.  "It should have plenty of power left as it's the kind that keeps going and going and going..."
  The distance sound of a steady drumbeat could be heard as Enik once again focused the time doorway.  The smoky image settled from a blur to colorful, moving panaramic view of the swamp and Emily before settling
on a baby brontosaurus munching on the plants there.
  "It's Dopey!" Holly shouted.
  They could see Holly walking into the scene, then Enik off on the edge of the swamp.  Suddenly Big Alice stomped into view and disturbed everything--
  The image vanished and was replaced by darkness.  "I have successfully stopped the runaway time doorway." Enik announced.  They all let out a collective sigh at the news.
  "Now what?" Tom asked.  "Can we locate my world and find my kids?"
  Enik stared at him, his gaze unreadable.  "That is possible.  However, I intend to use this device to find the way to *my* world.  I must warn my people."
  Confusion, then anger boiled up inside Tom.  "Now, wait just a darned minute!"
  "Yeah, Enik!" Will added in his defense.  "It was his battery that
fixed the time doorway.  He deserves first shot at getting back home!"
  "He does deserves nothing.  It was merely chance that the Land of the Lost found him in his world and brought him here to fix its problem. It was neither his nor my doing.  Therefore, logically, he has no
rights."
  Tom was outraged.  "I thought you said this guy was friendly!"
  "Well," Rick answered with a bitter edge in his voice, "when it comes to the Altrusians, 'friendly' is a subjective term."  Enik ignored the taunt and began manipulating the crystals and the battery.  "Enik is friendly only when it's in *his* best interest."
  Tom couldn't let this go on.  He *had* to get back to his children, no matter the consequences.  He charged forward to take the necessary battery from the matrix table.  Enik lifted a clawed hand at him before he even got close and pain pierced his skull.  The image of his dead wife's mangled, torn body-- the most horrifying moment of his life-- crystalized behind his eyes.  He toppled over in physical and emotional pain.  "You do not know the power of the Altrusian mind, human!  I can read your mind and know your intentions!  You *will not* stop me from returning to my people!"
  Holly cried out in fear at the angry Altrusian.  Both Ricks shouted at the top of their lungs, "Enik, STOP IT!"  One of them continued alone.
"The man just saved all our lives.  He just wants to get back to his children.  He wants to return to them as badly as you want to return to
your people."   Enik turned his attention to the Rick Marshall that had spoken to him. "The fate of him and his children are in danger.  What is that compared to the danger of an entire civilization-- my civilization?"  As he spoke to Rick, his attentions lessened on Tom, causing the pain to lessen. "It is not logical."
  "Maybe so, but that's no reason to torture the man."  Rick turned to help Tom to his feet.  "He just wants to go home."
  "You cannot persuade me Rick Marshall."  Enik turned to manipulate the matrix table's crystals.  "As I said, logic tell me that the needs of the many, outweigh the needs of--"  He stopped the crystal manipulation as the crystals began glowing brightly and the time doorway image began to settle once again.  He stepped away from the matrix table and folded his arms defiantly.
  In a quiet voice, Enik continued.  "I seem to have little choice in the matter.  Tom Porter.  It appears that the time doorway will not be manipulated until the Land of the Lost corrects an imbalance.  It is fixating on a specific time and place.  It is fixating on your world and will not let me do otherwise."
  Under his breath, Will Marshall stated, "even the Land of the Lost has a better sense of justice than the Altrusians."
  "Go, Tom Porter," Enik commanded.  "Return to your children and your lost world."
  Incredulous, but not looking a gift horse the mouth, Tom turned to Will Marshall-- both of them-- and thanked them for all they had done. He turned to Holly and Cha-ka.  "Holly?  I don't think we had a chance to actually meet.  I wished we could have gotten to talk more.  I have a daughter about your age and I'm sure she'd love to meet you... under better circumstances."
  "Thank you, Mr. Porter," she answered.  "Maybe some day we *can* meet each other."
  Tom turned to Cha-ka and extended his hand.  "Goodbye, Cha-ka."
  Cha-ka took his hand and shook vigorously.  "Cha-ka *like* shake!"
  Lastly, Tom turned to each of the Rick Marshalls and shook their hands and wished them luck getting home someday.  They smiled back and urged him to hurry home.
  "Go, Tom Porter!" Enik agreed.
  Tom turned and waved goodbye to them all before stepping through the doorway and back to his world.
  As soon as he was gone, the doorway collapsed and the matrix table glow ceased... and Holly screamed.  Will Marshall saw his father simply vanish before his eyes and shouted after him, "Daddy!"
  Rick Marshall, the original one, grabbed him by the arm.  He looked around the room.  "Wait a minute, Will," he reassured.  "I'm right here."  He looked around the room and took in the situation.  "It seems that when Tom went back to his world, the duplicates of ourselves were pulled back to where ever they came from."
  "And," said Enik sadly, "the items that were brought with them have vanished as well."  He pointed at the matrix table and only the original crystals and two AA batteries remained.  The other AA batteries, the D
batteries and the large broken crystal had vanished.  "I cannot return home with this device.  The Land of the Lost has corrected whatever error had occurred."  He began rearranging the scattered remains of his matrix table.  "Please leave, that I might continue my work I require solitude."
  Holly sighed.  "At least we're all safe now."
  Rick looked sideways at her and grinned mischieviously.  "Now this all started when you went for water..."

***

  After sending Cha-ka back to the Pakuni compound, the Marshall's returned to High Bluff, and settled down for the rest of the day.  After dinner, they considered the days events.
  "What I don't understand," said Will, "is the other Will Marshall.  If he was me, then how come I don't remember talking to you about the big crystal and coming into the cave?"
  Rick popped the last of his smilax cake into his mouth and thought for a moment before responding.  "Well, remember, the other Will said that the crystal *did* stop the runaway time doorway.  But for us, it
didn't."
  "Yeah, why is that, Daddy?" asked Holly.
  "I think it means that the other Will Marshall really wasn't the same Will Marshall as you.  He was someone else."
  Will was alarmed at this.  "Well then who is he?"
  "I don't know, son.  Maybe he was from an alternate universe, almost like ours, but different... like Tom Porter's.  Or maybe when Tom went back to his world, it set everything back to normal and the other Will and Rick went away, as if they'd never existed."
  "Ooh!" said Holly, a chill running down her spine.  "That's scary to think that there's a whole bunch of different 'me's running around out there.  Do you really think it's true, Daddy?"
  "We may never know, Holly."

FADE

END CREDIT