EXODUS-ULTIMATE EDITION

By Marc C.
CRAMBAM@aol.com

Chapter 1

Rick Marshall stepped into the pylon filled with hope.  He and his nineteen year old son Will had discovered the pylon just that morning, and Rick was optimistic that he could somehow open the time doorway back to Earth.  He, Will, and his thirteen-year old daughter Holly had been stranded in this place for what seemed like an eternity. 

Rick thought back to that fateful day when he took his family on a routine rafting expedition on the Colorado River as part of his job as a forest ranger.  Suddenly, an earthquake hit, sending the raft out of control and over a 1000-foot waterfall.  Miraculously, the family had escaped death, but they fell through a portal to another dimension, which they called the Land of the Lost. 

The family’s introduction to the Land of the Lost was a very rude one.  Immediately after their raft came to a stop, the Marshalls found themselves staring directly at a tyrannosaurus rex.  The beast, which Holly named Grumpy, chased them to a nearby cave.  Rick decided that until they found their way back to Earth, the cave, which they named High Bluff, would be their home base. 

Grumpy was not the only beast in the Land of the Lost.  The land was filled with all types of dinosaurs.  In addition, there were numerous unknowns and other dangers. Perhaps the biggest such danger was a hostile species called the Sleestak.  The Sleestak were green, lizard-like creatures, approximately seven feet tall, and lived in a place the Marshalls called the Lost City.

Despite common sense telling the family to stay away from the Lost City, they simply could not.  The city contained technology from an intelligent species called Altrusians, ancestors of the Sleestak that ruled the Land of the Lost centuries before the Marshalls arrived.  The Altrusians were technologically advanced and created many of the mysteries of the Land of the Lost.  Their culture succeeded in part due to abandoning their emotions for the pursuit of science.  Unfortunately, years of bottling up their emotions led to their destruction. 

The Marshalls learned about the Altrusians from Enik, a member of the race who also fell through a time doorway and who was trapped in the Land of the Lost.  He looked similar to the Sleestak, but was beige in color and shorter.  When the humans encountered Enik for the first time, they showed him the Lost City, and sadly, Enik learned of his civilization’s fate.  He theorized that his race hid their emotions for too long, and as a result, they engaged in a cataclysmic war that ended in their destruction.  The Sleestak were descendants of the Altrusians, but were de-evolved versions who were very hostile and violent, and they retained none of the intelligence of their ancestors. 

In the Lost City, Enik showed the Marshalls a time doorway, which, if properly set, could get them home.  Both Enik and the family wanted to use the doorway.  The Marshalls wanted to go home, and Enik wanted to return to his time to warn his people of the disaster.  The problem was that neither Enik nor the humans were able to open a doorway to their respective worlds.  Enik stayed in the Lost City to concentrate on finding the proper coordinates, while the family returned to High Bluff to pursue other means of escaping the Land of the Lost.  Once in awhile, the Marshalls would enter Enik’s cave to try to figure out the doorway, but they simply did not have the technical know-how to work the machine.  With millions of worlds and times from which to choose, the odds of them finding Earth were about the same as trying to figure out the combination to a lock with dozens of digits.  Still, they had to try, and as a result, they often visited the Lost City, and encountered the dangerous Sleestak.

Rick continued fiddling with the pylon, drawing from his prior experiences.  Pylons were Altrusian in design, and were about twelve feet tall.  These silver buildings somehow controlled many of the functions of the Land of the Lost.  Some pylons controlled the weather.  Others controlled gravity.  Most important, some pylons could open time doorways.  As the Marshalls explored the Land of the Lost, they found more pylons, mapped them, and learned what they could do.

A pylon usually had a triangular key at the top of its door that would allow entry when turned.  Inside each pylon was a table with various colored crystals.  These crystals seemed to be the cornerstone of Altrusian technology.  When touching individual crystals of different colors together, the Marshalls could make various events occur, from a blinding light, to a temporary force field.  Somehow, the crystals generated power, and were a major tool for the Altrusians.  A pylon’s crystal table controlled its inner workings.  The Marshalls believed that there was a pylon capable of working similarly to the time doorway in the Lost City, and they were determined to find it so they could get home.

Rick rearranged various crystals on the table, and remembered the time he and Will actually had a chance to return home via a pylon.  Unlike other pylons, this one had no key.  It only opened when the three moons of the Land of the Lost lined up in the sky in a certain way.  The Marshalls called this pylon the Pylon Express, because like a train, it moved from world to world, including Earth, stopping long enough to allow the passenger to get off at the world of choice.  Rick and Will were inside that pylon at the right time, but Holly was not with them.  When the doorway to Earth opened, the Marshall men refused to exit, because they would not abandon Holly.  Instead, Rick and Will returned to the Land of the Lost. 

Ironically, Holly had entered the pylon as well.  But somehow, while Rick and Will were in the pylon, they could not see Holly, and vice versa.  Rick theorized that the pylon was indeed operating like a train, and by entering the pylon at a different time, Holly essentially was on a different train making the same stops. 

Like her father and brother, Holly did not exit at Earth when she had the chance.  She too returned to the Land.  The Marshalls were extremely loyal to each other, so unless they could all return home together, they would remain in the Land of the Lost.  After Holly exited the pylon, it closed, and the three moons that needed to align to would not do so again for several years.  In the meantime, the family searched for another way home.

They discovered this new pylon while exploring just that morning.  Though past experience warned them to be careful, each time a new pylon was found, the family prayed that it would be a time doorway pylon.  Rick always felt responsible for his family’s predicament because he was unable to prevent their raft from going over the waterfall.  Though Rick’s training as a forest ranger made him a survival expert, and although he had trained his children well, he secretly never got over the guilt about the fate of his family.  He would not stop working until he got his children home.

So Rick, Will, and Holly spent most of the morning experimenting.  By changing the order of the crystals on the table, they hoped to open up a doorway to their home.  After about an hour, Will and Holly stepped outside the pylon to grab a snack.  Rick decided to work on the table a few more minutes before joining them. 

As Will and Holly ate, Rick configured the table.  Suddenly he looked up and right before his eyes was a doorway to Earth!  Rick couldn’t believe it.  Everything he had been hoping for was about to happen.  Finally, after what he calculated as two years, he was going to get his children home.

Then, disaster struck.  With the doorway open, the earth began to shake, throwing Rick off balance.  Will and Holly rushed into the pylon.

“DAD!”  Holly cried. 

“HOLD ON DAD!” shouted Will.

But it was too late.  The quake sent Rick straight for the portal.  He tried to move away, but the force of the quake was too strong and it sent him on the path to Earth.  He prayed Will and Holly could follow, but the last thing he heard was a loud noise behind him and the cries of his children in horror.

As he traveled through the time doorway, Rick’s whole body started to spin like it was a clock hand.  At first, he spun slowly, but as he fell further, he spun faster.  Yet for some strange reason, the spinning did not make him dizzy.  Seconds passed, and he could no longer hear his children.  Then, he stopped spinning.

Disoriented, Rick looked up.  He regained his balance and looked around.  Instantly, he realized where he was.  He was home.  In fact, he was on a hill overlooking the same river in which he, Will, and Holly were traveling when they fell through the doorway to the Land of the Lost.  His hopes that his children were right behind him were dashed immediately as they were nowhere to be seen.

Suddenly, Rick noticed that he was not alone.  On the river, he could see a man in a raft similar to the one he and his family had ridden on that fateful day.  The man was about Rick’s age and build, and Rick recognized him instantly.  It was his brother Jack.

“He must still be investigating what happened to us,” said Rick aloud.  He wished he never told his brother the route they were taking.  Being so close to the waterfall endangered Jack, and Rick knew it.  Luckily Jack was still within a safety margin to change course if necessary.

As he observed his brother, Rick’s focus turned to his children.  “What must they be thinking now?” he thought, “They’re probably just as worried as I am.  They must be scared.  I have to get back to them.”

Rick felt his heart breaking.  Leaving his children in the Land of the Lost was the last thing he wanted.  Stranding them on another world was bad enough, but for him to make it home with his children still lost was a nightmare.  If someone had to stay, it should have been him.  Once again, he let Will and Holly down.  Rick vowed to get back to his children and get them home, no matter how long it took. 

Suddenly, Rick remembered something Enik had once told him. 

The Land of the Lost is a closed universe.  For some reason, in order for a human to escape the Land, another human must enter.  For three people to leave, three people had to enter.  Rick thought about how he got home.  He also wondered about the three people who escaped the Land of the Lost allowing his family to enter.

He quickly realized that there must be an open time doorway to the Land of the Lost nearby.  He left, so another human had to enter, even if it was the same human.  The decision was a no-brainer.  He had a sudden sense of déjà vu, though he paid it no attention.  He wondered if the doorway at the waterfall was open.  The original trip was an accident and difficult to recreate, and getting to that portal wouldn’t be easy, so he decided to enlist Jack’s help.  Rick and Jack always worked well together, and although he had a wife and two children of his own, Jack cared about Will and Holly like they were his son and daughter.  Jack was a good engineer, and Rick hoped he could devise a way to access the time doorway without endangering any lives.  All he had to do was get Jack out of the water, and the two would formulate a plan.  Rick would be back in the Land of the Lost in no time.

He was about to call to his brother when the earth began to shake once again, sending Jack’s raft out of control and toward the rapids near the waterfall.  Rick looked ahead and spotted what had to be an open time doorway.  It was open in between the waterfall and the rocks below, and Jack was heading straight for it. 

The quake subsided, and Rick regained his balance long enough to see his brother plunge over the waterfall.  His angle prevented him from seeing everything, but when he looked at the bottom, he saw nothing.  Even the portal was gone.

“He must have fallen through the time doorway,” Rick said to himself, relieved. 

Rick figured that Jack probably fell into the Land of the Lost.  One human left, one human entered.  The portal that had enveloped Jack was closed.  Rick would not be returning to the Land of the Lost anytime soon.  He believed in his heart that Jack would find Will and Holly, and take care of them. 

Theoretically, the three of them would find a way home on their own.  But Rick would not simply wait and hope for the best.  He had to assume that his family needed his help and would be unable to get home without his help.  He couldn’t stand the thought of being away from his family.  He knew Will and Holly were trained to survive, and he had faith that they would indeed remain alive, but somehow, he had to get them home.  He swore he’d never stop until he was reunited with his children, no matter how long it took.  After all, Marshalls do not give up.  Somehow, Rick knew he’d get back to the Land of the Lost.  Somehow, he’d save his children and brother.  But at that moment, Rick could only do one thing.  He wept.

Chapter 2

As Jack Marshall’s yellow raft went over the waterfall, many thoughts quickly filled his head.  Expecting to be dead in a matter of seconds, he prayed for his family. Suddenly he wondered why he hadn’t hit the rocks at the bottom of the waterfall.  He felt strange, like he was swallowed up and was floating through space.  “I must be dead,” he thought.  But he wasn’t. 

Jack guessed that he was suffering a fate similar to that of his brother’s family.  He recalled that on the day they disappeared, there was also an earthquake.  He knew the route his brother’s family took, so he began his search near the waterfall.  Although the waterfall was not easily accessible from the river, Jack speculated that the quake could have sent the raft out of control, and over the falls.  But since he never found any bodies on the rocks at the bottom of the waterfall, he continued his search.  He decided that no matter how long it took, he would re-trace his missing relatives’ route, step-by-step, until he found out what happened.  Unfortunately for Jack, he was about to get his wish.  The strange floating feeling began to wear off, and the next thing he knew, his raft came to rest at the edge of some sort of lagoon.  Exhausted, Jack fell asleep.

*                      *                      *                      *

Will and Holly Marshall watched in horror as their father disappeared in the pylon.  With the crystal table lying on the floor, they could not follow him.  In the blink of an eye, they were alone in the Land of the Lost, and their lives were turned upside down.  Losing his father reminded Will of the saddest day of his life—when his mother died.  Even though he figured Rick made it home alive, they had no way of contacting or following him.  Will was unsure of what to do next.  The sadness overwhelmed him.  He was scared, but then he looked at his sister, who was crying and he knew he had to be strong for her.  Holly barely remembered her mother, and since the accident that sent the Marshalls to the Land of the Lost, she had relied heavily on Rick.  Rick was an anchor for her, and Will knew it.  Although they always talked about what to do if something horrible happened, it was a lot different when that moment actually came. 

In the seconds after Rick disappeared, Will made a decision.  Though he could never replace his father, he was now the man of the family.  Holly was now his responsibility.  Now was not the time for Will to grieve—his sister needed him.  He mustered up a weak smile, and reminded her that Rick knew where they were, and that he would never stop trying to help until they were safe at home.  Holly saw Will’s point, and took comfort in the thought that her father was on Earth, working on their rescue.  Still, she missed him.  With no reason to stay at the pylon, Will and Holly decided to return to High Bluff to regroup.

On their way back to the cave, Will and Holly encountered Chaka, a Neanderthal-like child who was a native of the Land of the Lost.  The Marshalls had saved his life shortly after they arrived in the Land, and he was one of the few friendly beings they encountered.  Chaka was a member of a species called the Pakuni.  He taught the Marshalls some of his language, and the Marshalls in turn taught Chaka to speak some English.  In time, the family and Chaka became good friends.

The quake that sent Rick Marshall home was not very kind to Chaka either.  Ta and Sa, the two Pakuni with whom Chaka lived, disappeared as a result of the quake.  Chaka found himself alone and upset, when he came in contact with Will and Holly.

The Marshall children told Chaka that he could stay with them, which made the paku very happy.  So the trio returned to High Bluff to figure out their next move.  Unfortunately, to their dismay, the quake had also destroyed the cave, leaving them without a home, without their father, and without supplies. 

Once again, Holly cried, but her sadness quickly turned to curiosity as she saw a yellow streak in the sky.  Excited, she figured that Rick had returned to them.  The trio investigated, and after an encounter with a beast they had never seen before, Will spotted a raft.  Intrigued, he told his sister that the raft was the same type that they rode into the Land of the Lost.  They ran toward the raft, and discovered their Uncle Jack, still asleep from his journey.

Jack awoke and saw Holly and Will, and was happy that he had finally found his brother’s children.  But his happiness quickly turned to concern when he realized his brother was not with his niece and nephew.  As Will and Holly filled him in on where he was, and what had happened, all three Marshalls experienced mixed emotions.  Jack was happy his brother made it home, but sad that he did not get the chance to see him.  Will and Holly were sad that their uncle was stuck in the Land of the Lost, but happy that he was with them.

The first order of business was to find a new home.  Shortly before the quake, the Marshalls discovered a temple near the Lost City.  The temple had two distinct buildings.  They were able to enter one of the temple’s buildings, but their experiences inside made them deem the structure unsuitable for a home.  The second building seemed harmless on the outside, but they were unable to open the door to be certain.  They decided to check the second building out again hoping that it could be a suitable place to live.  Luckily, the quake had somehow loosened the door, so Jack was able to open it.  A quick examination found the temple devoid of any harmful technology.  Using his skills as an engineer, Jack was able to fix the door, so the Marshalls would have easy access.  The family had found a new home, but they still needed to be careful.  Since the temple was located near the Lost City, the Sleestak were never far behind. 

In general, the Sleestak could not speak English.  The Marshalls had encountered very few with whom they could communicate.  One was Enik.  Another was the Sleestak leader.  When dealing with the Marshalls, the leader often consulted the Library of Skulls for advice.  The Library of Skulls was deep inside the Lost City, and contained numerous Altrusian skulls, which spoke and could answer the Sleestak leader’s questions.  Unfortunately for the Marshalls, the skulls usually blamed the humans for the Sleestak’s problems, and that further increased hostilities.

The Sleestak leader was not happy about the Marshalls arrival at the temple, and tried several times to evict them.  He never succeeded.

Once they had a new place to live, the family resumed their quest to return to Earth.  New lessons were learned, including the fact that other humans existed in the Land of the Lost, from various periods in Earth history.  Apparently people can come to the Land of the Lost from all different times.  The Marshalls met people from the 1920s, the 1800s, and even a Viking.  As Jack learned how things in the Land of the Lost worked, he figured that time doorways existed all over the Land, to various times in Earth history, and somehow, he’d find one.  Even if the Marshalls arrived at Earth at a different time, at least they’d be away from the dangers of the Land of the Lost.  Jack also had faint hopes that Rick would help, but he would not count on him.  But no matter what, Jack never stopped believing that the Marshalls would get home.

Chapter 3

After he watched his brother’s accident, Rick had no idea what to do next.  He decided to check on his California home, since it clearly had been abandoned during his time in the Land of the Lost.  How long had it been since he sat on a normal chair, drove a car, or watched TV?  Due to their resourcefulness, Rick and his children were able to construct various conveniences out of the bamboo and wood that was so abundant in the Land of the Lost, such as a cart with wheels, and even a system to bring fresh water directly to High Bluff.  Still, thoughts of appreciation of being back in civilization filled Rick’s head as he made his way to his home. 

When he arrived at his house, he realized that he no longer had his keys.  After all, his cave in the Land of the Lost did not exactly require a lock.  But he jarred the door open, and to his delight, his home was just as he left it.  “Jack’s family must have taken care of everything,” he thought.  He looked around and fondly remembered the times before the accident.  The Marshall family had always been close, especially after the death of Rick’s wife when Holly was seven.  Though he always maintained a strong appearance for Will and Holly, he missed his wife terribly.

Rick re-familiarized himself with his surroundings.  He smiled when he saw Will’s baseball and football trophies, and reminisced about a no-hitter Will had pitched in high school.  He walked into Holly’s room and saw her favorite stuffed animals.  “Amazing how much she’s grown,” thought Rick, saddened at the thought of his daughter playing with baby brontosaurus’ instead of teddy bears and dolls. 

He stared at a family picture hanging on the wall, which reminded him of how his children always asked to come along on his expeditions.  Rick liked to have them with him, and he showed them various camping and survival techniques that come with being a forest ranger.  The job required him once a week to patrol an area along the Colorado River near where he worked.  It was on one of those routine patrols that the earthquake hit that sent his family to the Land of the Lost. 

Rick decided it was time to see Jack’s family.  If he was going to work out a plan to save Will and Holly, they were probably the only people who could help.  After all, who would believe that he spent all this time in some place with three moons, dinosaurs, and giant lizard like humanoids?  “They’ll lock me up,” Rick thought.  Thus, he resolved to tell the world that he had been away with Will and Holly in Europe, and while he came home, they stayed there to go to boarding school.  The only people he could trust with the truth were Jack’s family.

Rick went into his bedroom, found a spare wallet, and filled it with various pictures and money, once again thankful that everything was where he left it.  Then, he began the trip to Jack’s house.

*                      *                      *                      *

Jennifer Marshall was wondering what was taking her husband so long to come home.  She hated when Jack was late, but she understood.  She too secretly hoped that they were all still alive somewhere.  But they had been gone for six months, and even she was losing hope.  The day’s quake added to her worry.  She remembered the big earthquake on the day Rick, Will, and Holly disappeared.  The thought did not comfort her, as she felt that something was wrong.

Outside the house, Jack’s son Bobby was washing his car.  Bobby was a year older than Will, and occasionally went with his father to search for his uncle and cousins.  He passed today, because he wanted to play in a pickup basketball game with his friends.  Standing next to Bobby was his sister Kathy.  Kathy was Holly’s age, and Bobby paid her a dollar to help wash his car, a beat-up 1969 Dodge Charger. 

“What time is Dad coming back?” asked Kathy.

“Any minute.  He said he’d be back by dinner,” said Bobby.

“What about the earthquake?”

“Earthquake?  You call that an earthquake?  I barely noticed it.  Are you sure you’re from California?” joked Bobby.  Though he didn’t show it, Bobby was concerned too.

“Bobby, I’m serious.”

“So am I.  That earthquake was not bad.  Dad knows what he’s doing.  Don’t worry.”

Kathy changed the subject.  “Do you think he’ll ever find Uncle Rick, Will and Holly?”

“Well, they’ve been gone for six months...”

“You think they’re dead?”

Bobby stopped what he was doing, and walked over to his sister.  “Kathy, I hope not.  I hope that there’s a good explanation for why they’re gone.  But people just don’t disappear, especially Uncle Rick.  But they never found them, so they could be alive.  I just don’t know."

Bobby’s comments didn’t exactly make Kathy feel better.  She still missed playing with Holly.  Will and Holly were like siblings to Kathy and Bobby.   She turned to Bobby and asked, “then why is Dad still looking for them?”

“Uncle Rick is Dad’s brother.  Uncle Rick, Will and Holly mean as much to him as they do to us.  Until Dad knows exactly what happened, he won’t give up on them.  Remember, Marshalls don’t quit.”

Bobby’s words made Kathy feel a little better, but she was still visibly sad.  Picking up on his sister’s mood, Bobby added, “Hey.  If anyone can be missing this long and survive, it’s Uncle Rick.  And believe me, if he’s alive, you can bet so are Will and Holly.  And don’t forget, if anyone can find them, it’s Dad.”  Kathy couldn’t help but smile.  She continued to hope.

As if on cue, Bobby got the shock of his life as his Uncle Rick came walking up the street.

Chapter 4

Once the initial surprise of seeing Rick Marshall wore off, Jennifer, Bobby, and Kathy listened to his story.  Rick told them everything he remembered, from the earthquake that started the nightmare, to the accident that sent him home.  He also explained what he believed to be Jack’s fate.  Rick’s story obviously upset Jennifer, who was skeptical.  “Come on Rick, are we really supposed to believe that you were trapped in some other world, and that Jack took your place?”

Rick looked at her and replied, “Jen, I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true.  Will and Holly are there right now, and I’m sure that Jack’s there too.  Enik told us that if one person leaves, another has to enter.  I left, and I saw Jack fall through an open portal.  We can’t be 100 percent sure, but that HAS to be what happened to Jack.” 

Jennifer still didn’t look convinced, but people don’t just disappear and reappear, and Rick did not have a crazy bone in his body.  He was always truthful with her, and would never make up a story like that.  Assuming Rick was telling the truth, his sudden return gave her hope for Jack, Will and Holly.  After all, if one Marshall could make it home, three would be no problem, and Jack was every bit the fighter Rick was. 

“Does that mean we’ll never see Daddy again?” Kathy asked, scared.

Rick turned to her.  “Not if I can help it honey.  Your father is trapped because he wouldn’t give up on your cousins and me.  It’s my fault they are all there, and I won’t stop until they are all home where they belong.”  Rick’s confidence reassured Kathy.

“Why can’t we just take a raft and go over the waterfall?” asked Bobby.

Rick shook his head.  “I don’t think that will work.  Watching what happened to your father gave me an idea about what happened to Will, Holly, and I.  It’s not that the Land of the Lost is at the bottom of a waterfall.  To get to there, we were thrown through some sort of portal – one of the time doorways I was telling you about.   The portal merely was open OVER a waterfall.  This morning, I landed on the side of the river just before the quake hit.  I definitely saw the open portal that took your dad.  But just after Jack and disappeared, the portal closed.  It’s not there anymore.  If we take a raft and go over the fall, we’d probably be killed.”

“Then how can we help them?” asked Jennifer.

“That’s the problem.  I’m not sure.  We know there’s a way in to the Land of the Lost.  We also know that there’s a way out.  I’m proof of that.  When I got out, Jack took my place.  I can’t live with that anymore than Jack could live without knowing what happened to the three of us.  There’s got to be a way to help them, and I promise to find it, no matter how long it takes.”

“We have to get them out,” said Jennifer, worried.

“We will.  It’s just a question of when.  And how.” Rick replied.  “We also have to be concerned about a time factor.”

“What do you mean?” asked Jennifer.

“The Land of the Lost is a strange place, where things that seem impossible, are possible.  The laws of nature don’t seem to work the same there.  I tried to keep track of how long we were gone, and I calculated about two years.  Then, I got back home, and only six months had passed.  This can mean one of two things: either time moves faster in the Land of the Lost, or the doorway that I opened simply placed me six months from when I left.  I think it could be the latter of the two,” said Rick.  Jack’s family looked confused.

“How can you be sure Uncle Rick?” Bobby asked.

“At first, we thought that Will, Holly, and I were the only people in the Land of the Lost.  But Will was once experimenting with a pylon, and opened a doorway to Earth.  Unfortunately the doorway was in the sky, so we couldn’t just jump through, but by accident, the doorway brought a skydiver from our future into the Land of the Lost.  We were there, and he was there, different people, from different times, in the same place.  Because the doorway was opened over the Earth’s sky, and since he was the only one with a parachute, he couldn’t help us get home.   We got him to a mountain high enough to get to the doorway, and we believe he made it.  But the point of this story is that it’s possible for people from different times to end up in the Land of the Lost at the same time as people from our time.  If that’s possible, then it makes sense that people could escape the Land of the Lost into different periods of Earth history. 

“This also explains how we also met a Confederate soldier.  People have been falling through these time doorways for centuries.  We even once found journals from a soldier in General Washington’s army.”  Rick saw the look on Kathy’s face, and faced her.  “Getting out is possible.  If I can do it, they can do it.”

Jennifer had a question.  “If people can return to Earth at different points in history, then how do we know that Jack, Will, and Holly haven’t already come home in another time?  For all we know, they could be in the 19th century, or in the 23rd.”

“You’re right,” said Rick.  “With all the possible places to end up, I consider myself very lucky to have opened the doorway to a period so close to when I left.  The kids and Jack could have escaped on their own, and could be living their lives in some other time on Earth.  But I’m not going to assume they got out and ignore them.  Jack didn’t ignore me.  Until I know that Will, Holly, and Jack are out of that world, I have to try to get back there.  I just need to figure out a way.”

Rick, Bobby, Jennifer, and Kathy continued to talk, and while they sat thinking of ways to help their relatives, they didn’t notice the woman watching them from the outside.

Chapter 5

Jack Marshall missed his family.  To the best of his knowledge, about a decade had passed since he was first stranded in the Land of the Lost.  By now, he thought, Kathy and Bobby would be grown, and Jennifer would have probably stopped wondering what had happened and moved on.  The thought saddened him, but he knew that his family would be all right, and he still planned to return to them.  He only wanted them to be happy.

The Marshalls tried for years to get home.  They often visited Enik’s time doorway chamber in the Lost City, but had never been able to find the proper combination to Earth.

Throughout the years, the family had come close to returning home several times.  Once, Will and Holly found a key to a pylon that controlled the flow of time in the Land of the Lost.  Jack had figured that they use that pylon to travel back in time to the point where he first entered the Land of the Lost, and somehow go through the still open doorway home.  However, just as Jack was about to step into the pylon, Torchy, a fire-breathing beast, singed the key to the door, rendering the pylon useless.

Not too long after that, the family returned to a cave that Will believed had a lot of potential to provide a route home.  Shortly before Jack’s arrival, the Marshalls were visited by a transparent figure from another universe.  The figure looked exactly like Holly, and came to her family’s counterparts for help.  To speak to the Marshalls, she “possessed” Holly, and told Rick and Will that she needed them to help her own father and brother.  With the alternate Holly’s guidance, Holly was able to lead the Marshalls to their counterparts.  The ‘other’ Holly had warned Rick and Will not to touch her father and brother, because for some reason, the touch would kill them.  Rick theorized that these other Marshalls were probably from an antimatter universe.  Once inside the cave, Rick and Will heard the sound of a car horn, which led them to believe that they were near a time doorway to Earth.  They found duplicates of themselves trapped in a wall, barely able to move.  A crystal table with three missing crystals was suspended in the wall as well.  Rick and Will placed the crystals in the table, and the alternate Marshalls were saved.  Shortly thereafter, Rick was gone.

Upon hearing the story, Jack disagreed with Rick’s assessment that these people were antimatter.  If they were antimatter, the ‘other’ Holly would not have been able to exist in their Land of the Lost.  When matter and anti-matter touch, a big explosion occurs, and that did not happen when the alternate Rick and Will were stuck in the walls.  Thus, Jack concluded that these people were not antimatter, but rather, from some kind of mirror universe, where things were similar, but not identical.

When Jack, Will, and Holly returned to that cave to investigate the potential to follow the ‘other’ Marshalls, they were unable to find a time doorway.  The crystal table that Will and Rick used was still there, but as far as they could see, even if they found the right combination to Earth, there was no gateway.  Jack thought perhaps it was behind a wall, damaged by the quakes.  Plus, there was always a fear they would end up on an alternate Earth where they could not physically survive.

More time passed, and the family simply had no luck getting home.  Even the Pylon Express, which Will and Holly were counting on as the sure way home, became unavailable.  Four years after Jack arrived, the moons were aligned properly so that the pylon that could lead them home would open.  The Marshalls had every intention of being there, but once again, fate prevented their escape.  The Sleestak Leader had consulted the Library of Skulls, which erroneously warned them that if the Marshalls were to enter the pylon, they would return with an invasion force of humans that would destroy the Sleestak.  So the Sleestak attacked the Marshalls, and once again attempted to sacrifice them to their god in the pit.  They captured both Will and Chaka, and Jack and Holly had to rescue them.  By the time everyone was safe, the pylon was closed.  Will was upset that Jack and Holly did not just go home, but Jack told him, “either all of us go, or none of us go.”  Will was not surprised, since in his first few months in the Land of the Lost, he had a similar opportunity to leave by himself and did not take it, choosing instead to stay and help his family.

Time passed.  Years passed.  The moons aligned again, but unfortunately, access to the Pylon Express was cut off.  The Marshalls were separated from the pylon by a rock bridge over a vast crevasse.  Their temple and the Lost City were on one side, and High Bluff and the Pylon Express were on the other side.  For years, the family used that bridge to travel from place to place in the Land of the Lost.  However, still fearing human invasion if the Marshalls were to return home, in between moon alignments, the Sleestak destroyed the bridge.  The humans simply did not have the tools to build a new one.

So more time went by, and though they still searched for the way home, the Marshalls tried to make a life for themselves in the Land of the Lost.  Will and Holly got older.  Will did not change very much physically, but Holly did.  She was now an adult, and she had long outgrown the red plaid shirt and brown pants she had been wearing when she entered the Land of the Lost.  Luckily, she was resourceful, and was able to use some fabric Jack had brought to tailor her clothes. 

Jack thought it was amazing how well they had survived to date.  Will and Holly had been in the Land of the Lost almost twelve years, and Jack ten, and despite the dangers of the Sleestak, the dinosaurs, and other mysteries that they faced, they were still alive and healthy.  Not everyone they had encountered was so lucky.  Malak, a Viking from the 11th century, fell victim to Grumpy.  The Confederate soldier that Rick, Will, and Holly met shortly after arriving in the Land of the Lost, was turned to stone by a Medusa.  Medusas were creatures like those found in Greek mythology.  Any animal that looks at the Medusa is instantly turned to stone. 

Jack had outsmarted the Medusa by tricking her into looking at herself in a mirror.  She turned to stone, and the Marshalls never encountered another one.  Jack always said that the fact that the family had survived so long said a lot about their fortitude, as well as Rick’s teachings.

*                      *                      *                      *

Will was out gathering food alone and was lost in thought.  By his own estimates, he figured he was about twenty-nine years old.  However, with all the stress of living in the Land of the Lost, he felt a lot older.  Thoughts of home had rarely left Will’s mind.  And whenever Will thought of home, he thought of his father.  Though he had long since adapted to life without Rick, Will still missed him.  He never stopped wondering what his father was doing and how he adjusted to returning to Earth. 

Will felt badly that Rick had never returned.  He was not bothered by Rick’s failure, because he knew in his heart his father would have returned if he could, but he felt anguish at the thought of his father living with the guilt of the Marshalls’ fate.  Will even remembered one of the first things he said to comfort his sister when Rick left.  He told her that no one would work harder than Rick to rescue the family.  Will still believed that.  Not only could he picture Rick trying every possible way to get back to the Land of the Lost, he could picture the task becoming an obsession.  But ten years had passed.  The idea that his father would be obsessing for such a long time really saddened Will.  In fact, one of his continuing motivations to get home was to see his father again.  He wanted to show his father that he and Holly survived.  He wanted his father to know that Jack had found them and that everyone was alive.  Thus, where many people would have simply given up trying to get home, Will kept going, if only to relieve Rick’s guilt. 

So Will worked constantly with his uncle and his now twenty three year old sister to get home.  The problem was that lately, there were no new opportunities.

In the twelve plus years Will had been in the Land of the Lost, he could kick himself over the blown chances.  If only he could have had Enik explain to him the inner workings of the Lost City.  But Enik had disappeared several years earlier.  Presumably, he returned to his own time, but the Marshalls would never know.  To this day, Will was certain that the way to Earth was through the Lost City.  If the humans could have figured out how to align the crystals on the table to open a doorway to Earth, and if the Sleestak did not prevent so many attempts, things might have been different.

As he returned to the temple, Will saw Holly and Chaka talking near the temple in which they lived.  Both were children when the adventure in the Land of the Lost began.  But now, both were fully-grown.   

Will went inside the temple to find his uncle preparing a special dessert.  Today was Holly’s birthday, which was the biggest reason Will figured he was thinking about their father.  Will smiled at Jack, secretly happy that Holly was not doing the cooking, the one thing that had not improved with time.  Jack returned the smile, and the two of them walked outside to meet Chaka and Holly.

“Happy Birthday Holly,” Jack said as he presented a cake.  In reality, the cake was made of oversized fruits and plants found in the Land of the Lost.  Will looked at the cake and remembered the days when he took chocolate for granted.  At this point, he did not even remember how chocolate tasted.  He just remembered he liked it. 

“That sure looks good,” said Will.  “But then again, anything’s better than Holly’s smilax cakes,” he playfully jabbed at his sister.

“Will Marshall, one more word out of you and you’ll be wearing this food, not eating it,” she retorted, shaking a fist at her brother.  Despite the many mysteries of the Land of the Lost, the one constant was Will and Holly bickering at each other.  Of course, at this point, it was all in fun, as the siblings were really close. 

Jack couldn’t resist getting into the game.  “Listen you two, one more crack, and I’ll take this delicious cake and divide it between Chaka and I.”

“Chaka like cake,” yelled the Paku, rubbing his stomach.

Will and Holly stopped bickering, and soon all were laughing.  Holly smiled at her uncle, thanking him for the cake.  Of course, she could not be sure that it really was her birthday, since they had no Earth calendar.  However, several years earlier, her uncle and brother, for lack of a better guess, designated this day as her birthday.  They had celebrated it ever since.

Twelve years.  Will still could not believe how much his sister had grown.  Holly was no longer a dependent child constantly clinging to her father.  Will figured losing Rick changed Holly.  Although she loved Uncle Jack, it just was not the same.  Like her brother, Holly would later come to understand that her feelings of loss for Rick probably did not compare to his feelings of guilt over leaving his children behind.  She learned to be quite independent, and Will took solace in the fact that if anything ever happened to he or Jack, she and Chaka would be able to survive.

Still, Will sometimes had trouble thinking of Holly as an adult.  But most important to him was that he kept the promise he made to himself the day their father disappeared.   He took care of his sister, and would continue to do so until the whole family was reunited. 

Jack had put primitive candles that he had made himself on the cake.  “Well, I think it’s time you made a wish,” he said.

Holly blew out the candles.  “Somehow I think you know what I wished for,” she said.

Will and Jack didn’t need to say a word.  They knew.  Holly had wished for the same thing for the last twelve years.  Will and Jack had the same wish.  The Marshalls wanted to go home. 

But the peacefulness of the birthday celebration quickly vanished as the ground suddenly began to shake.

Chapter 6

“INTERFERENCE WITH THE NATURAL COURSE OF EVENTS IS FORBIDDEN.  YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO ALTER THE COURSE OF HISTORY.”

The blonde woman recited these words to herself.  She had heard them for years, and up until now, she had pretty much accepted them.  As time passed, her adventures led her to understand the workings of the Land of the Lost’s time doorways, but that knowledge had not come without a price.  She was robbed of her childhood, and she endured the loss of her family.  She had spent what felt like an eternity alone before being recruited by the Builders, a group of beings that originated on Earth far in her future. 

At some point in Earth’s future, the doorways that led to the Land of the Lost were discovered.  In time, the Builders came to understand the technology, and soon mastered it.  Using that knowledge, they kept a complete record of the historical events that led to the evolution of the Land of the Lost.  In fact, they improved on many of the workings of the Land, and were even able to manipulate the evolution of its natural inhabitants.   For example, an encounter with Chaka left the paku with an enhanced ability to learn.  After meeting the Builders, Chaka’s knowledge of English improved to the point where it was rare to hear him speak in his native language.  Communication with the Marshalls was much easier.

Still, the Builders’ manipulation was only done under special circumstances, and only with a species is on the cusp of evolving on its own.  Their most stringent of rules prohibits using time travel to interfere with the lives of others.  Natural events could never be changed.  That was one of the first things the blonde woman was taught from the moment the Builders rescued her.

In addition, the Builders took it upon themselves to monitor the inner workings of the Land of the Lost in eras after the fall of the Altrusian civilization.  If something went wrong, a Builder was sent to repair it.  In fact, though they did not know it at the time, the Marshalls encountered one of those repairmen shortly after Jack arrived.

Eventually, the Builders came to believe that they were as much responsible for the way things worked in the Land of the Lost as the Altrusians.  Few knew of the Builder’s existence, though in time, they expanded their inner circle to include intelligent races other than humans.  Recruitment was very selective, as they only chose highly intelligent people with little or no future who had the capability of understanding what they did.  They would monitor their lives until they hit a crucial point, and then reveal themselves. 

On more than one occasion, the Builders acted to prevent the total destruction of the Land of the Lost.  However, they did not to interfere with any of the trapped humans there.  They knew of the Marshalls, but they would not help them home, although they could.  They feared that doing so might affect their existence, so the Marshalls, as well as any other human that entered the Land of the Lost, were on their own.

Still, the Builders were not without heart.  They had watched the blonde woman grow up, and saw all the pain of her life.  They looked into her future, and saw that in due time, she would succumb to the dangers of her environment.  They realized that she could not affect the future, since she had none.  She was highly intelligent, and highly motivated—and their mysterious leader deemed her the perfect candidate.  So when they felt the timing was right, they recruited her.

At first she was apprehensive.  She was still depressed over the recent loss of her family, who just a month earlier disappeared without a trace.  But soon enough, she realized that she finally had an opportunity to do something with her life.  Thus, she joined the Builders.  And while she knew the rules well, deep down she figured that perhaps she could change things.  Yet in the beginning, she kept that plan to herself.

As time passed, the Builders granted her request to learn about the time doorways.  She was able to travel to the past and present, on both Earth and the Land of the Lost.  In the beginning of her time with the Builders, she took comfort in seeing her family, as they once were.  In fact, she once confronted her past self, and gave the younger version the courage to save her brother’s life.  And while that event was bittersweet, the knowledge of things to come bothered her.  She never fully recovered from the sudden disappearance of her family, and for some reason, the Builders always prevented her from learning exactly what happened to them.  The only exception involved her father, whom she was allowed to observe from time to time.

She stepped through the time doorway to Earth, just in time to see Rick Marshall discussing his adventures in the Land of the Lost with Jack’s family.  Seeing Rick Marshall made the blonde woman smile.  But then again, Rick always had that effect on Holly.

Chapter 7

When she encountered her past self in the Land of the Lost, the elder Holly called herself Rani, a secret name she used as a child.  She did not reveal her identity, because her only goal was to give the child the courage to save Will, who at the time was trapped in the Sleestak pit.  She figured that things would be less complicated if her identity remained secret.  Besides, the elder Holly knew her younger self would eventually figure out who she was, since she remembered the incident in her childhood.  Keeping herself secret allowed the elder Holly to avoid being questioned by her father and brother.

At the time, the elder Holly did not want to talk to Rick at all.  She knew her father well enough to know he would probe her with too many questions, and she did not want to be tempted to reveal the future.  Besides, she had not spoken to Rick in over a dozen years, and would not know what to say.  Her goal was to complete the cycle as she remembered it, and to give her younger self the courage to help save Will’s life.  She knew she could not help her family get home, because doing so would create a dangerous paradox.  If she got home as a child, she would not have been rescued by the Builders, so she could not have gone back in time to help her family get home.  These issues always gave Holly a headache, but temporal paradoxes were one of the main reasons the Builders did not allow interference with the natural flow of events.  Holly understood, and even agreed with the logic.   She could do nothing for her family in that time period.

The elder Holly soon departed.  In the next few years, she fulfilled her duties admirably, learning as much as she could from the Builders, while formulating a detailed plan in her mind to help her family.  She also came to the conclusion that in any encounter with them, she would keep her identity secret.  Doing so would simply make her goals easier to accomplish.  She loved the name Rani, and decided that it would suffice. 

The Builders were not happy with Rani’s interference in her past life.  However, they knew that young Holly was supposed to save Will, so history was not altered.  Her biggest “crime” was giving the Marshalls three Builder pendants.  These pendants were highly advanced necklaces that picked up the heartbeats of each Marshall, who wore the respective pendant around his or her neck.  Through a crystal in the center of the pendant, the family could track each other. 

Because of Rani’s actions, the Builders forbade her from visiting her family again.  However, at least one of the Builders knew that she would not listen.

At the time of her encounter with young Holly, the Builders had only taught Rani how to work the doorways to the Land of the Lost.  Although Rani told Holly that her presence meant that she had a chance to return to Earth, in truth, the Builders had not given her access to her home as of that time.  But quite some time has passed since then, and Rani learned more about manipulating the technology, and had visited Earth several times.  She also was more emotionally prepared to make contact with someone other than a child version of herself.  Rani was still a Marshall, and eventually she worked out an exact plan to change the lives of her family for the better, in a way that would endanger no one.  All she needed was access to the time doorways in the Builders’ main chamber.  At the first opportunity, she would help.

The first time Rani found the time doorway unguarded, she set the controls for Earth, 1974, California.  It was her first trip to 20th century Earth since she was a child, and she arrived shortly after Rick had returned home.  She knew her father was a smart man, but he was dealing with an unknown.  Somehow, she would show him the way back to the Land of the Lost.  She had to be careful though, not wanting to cause a paradox.  The timeline could not be changed.  Even if Rani could do so without affecting too much, her respect for the Builders would not allow her to cause any damage to others.  The timing had to be perfect.  Rani needed to save her family without preventing the events that enabled her to help them in the first place.  She also needed to re-enter Rick’s life at a point where she could gain his trust.  Luckily, she was in a position to observe her father’s actions at different time periods to determine the best point to confront him.  Deciding that an instantaneous return to the Land of the Lost was not the best course for her father, Rani vanished to another era.

Chapter 8

Two years had passed since Rick Marshall returned home.  Rebuilding his life had proven to be an impossible task.  The thought of his family trapped in the Land of the Lost haunted him almost to a point of obsession.  Though returning to the Land was not within his control, Rick never overcame the guilt that he made it home while Will, Holly, and probably Jack remained in danger.  At times, this guilt was unbearable.  It was his idea to bring Will and Holly along on the original raft trip.  Jack disappeared while searching for him.  These thoughts fueled Rick in his quest to return to the Land of the Lost.  Plus, he would never give up on his family.  It was just not in his nature.

In the time since he returned home, Rick familiarized himself with every inch of the waterfall.  A portal had to be there, but he had no clue how to find it.  He never was able to find any evidence of the time doorway.  Jack’s family helped whenever they could, but Jennifer did her best to make sure her kids each had as normal a life as possible.  They told the world that Jack was off on some long-term engineering project abroad. 

Though Rick never quit, he was growing more frustrated at his inability to trigger a doorway.  As far as he knew, the only time a portal opened was during an earthquake, and the area surrounding the waterfall had not seen so much as a tremor since Jack’s disappearance.

Rick sat down on a log overlooking the waterfall, and put his head down.

“You’ll never be able to help your family by sitting around.”

Rick looked up and saw a blonde woman talking to him.  He had no clue how she got there.  “Who are you?” he asked.

“A friend.  You can call me Rani.”

Though he had never seen Rani before, she looked very familiar—a bit like his late wife.  But how could she possibly know about his missing relatives?  He figured it couldn’t hurt to probe her a bit.  After all, he had zero success on his own.  “What do you know about my children?” he asked.

“And your brother Jack,” she replied.  “I can tell you that they’re still alive, and that I can help you.”

Whoever this woman was, she knew that Jack was missing too.  No one outside the family knew that.  Rick was confused.  “How?  Who are you?”

 “I told you.  I am Rani.”  She smiled.  Rick noticed that she seemed a bit nervous, though he was unsure why.  It was almost like she was hiding something important.  “I am a Builder,” she added. 

“Builders…I’ve heard that before… Are you one of the people who built that temple near the Lost City?” Rick asked.

Rani nodded. “We long have had a presence in the region you call the Land of the Lost.  We have the capability to travel space and time, and we observe various historical events.” 

She sounded cold, almost too cold, and Rick was now sure there was more to her than she was revealing.  Yet she knew about the Land of the Lost.  But what if she were part of an elaborate scheme?  His doubts must have shown on his face.  He wanted to see some proof that she was legitimate.  Almost as if she could read his mind, she took a device out of her pocket.  It was a pendant, with a long chain and a ruby-like stone in the center.  She showed it to Rick who recognized it at once.

“These are like the pendants Holly gave Will and me,” he said.  Rick now believed that this woman was the key to finding his family.  Despite the cold attitude, she also seemed friendly.  At least, he wanted to believe that.  He needed to believe that.  For the first time in a long time, he felt hope.  Rick had never taken his pendant off since he returned home.  For whatever reason, it made him feel closer to his children and Jack.  He took out his pendant and looked at it with sadness.  But then he made a connection. “Somehow, Will, Holly, and I could see each other by looking at the pendant.  Holly said a lady came out of the time doorway and gave them to her, but she never really told me everything that happened.  Are you that lady?”

Rani nodded and smiled, increasing Rick’s hopes.  After all, this woman helped his family once.  Rick put aside his suspicions for now, instead concentrating on what this woman could do for him.  He still believed there was more to her story, but he could not shake the feeling that she was on his side.  He had many questions, but he controlled himself.  If this woman could help him get back to his family, he would solely focus on that.  He took his pendant off and said, “The pendant is the only thing from the Land of the Lost that I have.  But it hasn’t worked since I returned home.”

“The pendants can pick up Will and Holly over distances, but not worlds.  But with a little help from mine, your pendant does have other functions.  Look at it now,” replied Rani.

Rick complied, and was amazed at what he saw.  Somehow, the pendant was displaying the original accident that sent Rick and his family into the Land of the Lost.   Looking up he asked, “Can I use this to get to Will, Holly, and Jack?”

From Rani’s point of view, she felt her plan had hit a crucial stage.  Did she pick the right time in Rick’s life to encounter him?  If so, the next few minutes would tell.  She had to be very cool despite knowing that her father would likely get very emotional. In response to Rick’s question, she simply smiled.  “No.  I’m just here to let you know they are all-right.”

“You mean you won’t help me?”

“I did help you.  I gave you reason to believe your family is all-right.  I am forbidden from further interfering.”

“You sound like Enik.” Rick complained.

Rani said nothing.  But she knew Rick was not about to accept her silence.  He continued, “don’t you realize that the mere fact that you are here is interference?  You came for a reason, and it’s not just to tell me my family is ok.  Please.  I need to get back to them.”

Rani never saw her father in such a state.  She knew she reached a difficult part of her plan, but the look in her father’s eyes was tough for her to bear.  She hesitated, torn between her love for her father and her duty to the Builders.  She had the power to get her family home, but doing so directly would violate the most fundamental of Builder principles.  She had to be in a position to protect the Builder codes, and to be on the outside in case of unknown contingencies.  She also had to prevent a paradox—even at the expense of her family. 

The Builders had taught Rani about paradoxes very well.  Shortly after becoming a Builder, she learned that she was actually once part of a paradox that was averted thanks to the efforts of Enik.  Although she had no direct memory of the event, apparently, when the Marshalls first entered the Land of the Lost, a problem occurred.  Despite their presence in the Land, no time doorway opened when they went over the waterfall.  Two events somehow played out.  Her family fell onto the rocks below the waterfall, and her family fell into the Land of the Lost.  They were dead, and they were alive.  As a result, the time doorway in the Lost City could only focus on the Marshalls’ accident.  She later learned that had the problem gone uncorrected, there could have been devastating consequences to the whole universe.  She never forgot that lesson.

The Builders showed Rani the events as they played out—with technology so advanced she was able to learn the thought processes of those involved.  In fact, this part of her plan was inspired by what she saw that day.  Just like in the current scenario, Rick was with someone who could help.  Enik was in the time doorway chamber, clearly frustrated at the paradox, but unable to help the Marshalls directly due to an Altrusian code that prevented Enik’s interference.  But Rick did figure out a solution.  He was able to get around Enik’s noninterference rule, by asking a specific question – a question Rani was counting on Rick to ask again. 

Rick eventually suggested that Enik create a situation where the Marshalls could step through the time doorway to Earth, while an alternate Rick, Will, and Holly arrived in the Land of the Lost.  Enik allowed the humans to think Rick’s idea would work.  But, in reality, the Altrusian tricked them. 

Rani learned that Enik had two solutions to the dilemma, but Altrusian code only allowed him to employ one.  He knew that the paradox could be resolved if he would prevent the family from entering the Land.  But if he did that, the Marshalls would have died when they went over the waterfall.  The other solution, while simple, would spare the Marshalls, but it would also violate Altrusian law. 

Before he met Rick Marshall, Enik would have simply allowed the Marshalls to die without even feeling emotion.  But in their association, Rick taught him that compassion was one of the keys to saving his doomed race.  Enik felt that he could not even attempt to teach his people compassion without being able to exercise it himself.  So the Altrusian found himself torn.  The code required that if Enik was to act, the Marshalls must die.  But compassion required Enik save the family.  Enik decided to delay resolving the paradox until the Marshalls inevitably found their way to his cave. 

The time doorway appeared to be replaying the Marshalls’ accident.  But it was not so much a replaying, but more of a circular display of the events as they were happening.  The humans shown on the doorway were the same Marshalls that were in the Land of the Lost, watching their counterparts on the doorway.  They were just viewing the past.

Rani watched Enik tell Rick about the Law of Conservation of Temporal Momentum, which in part said that if three people entered the Land of the Lost, three people could leave.  Rick asked Enik if the three people being displayed in the doorways could serve as a replacement for them.  The theory was that if one set of Marshalls entered the Land of the Lost, the other set could go home.  The conversation led to Enik employing the second solution to the paradox, without violating Altrusian code. 

When the humans stepped through the time doorway, they did not go home.  In reality, they merged with their counterparts, and instantly relived everything that had happened to them up to that point, minus the paradox.  Enik had justified the treachery to himself by deciding that it was the more logical and compassionate approach.  Rick’s original idea would not have worked.  Rather than further walking the gray line of violating his people’s code, Enik opted for an alternate solution. 

Rani did not completely understand exactly how these temporal lines worked, though the story did explain the constant feelings of déjà vu that she and her family experienced during her first few months in the Land of the Lost.  Still, the bottom line was that Rick had once figured out a way around a noninterference rule.  Rani was banking on the thought that he could do so again in this timeline.  If he could, not only would she help him, she would not trick him like Enik did. 

Her fear was that Rick would not ask the right question.  Enik’s actions wiped out Rick’s experiences in the chamber, so he could not draw from them.  Her father would have to think the same way he did in the alternate timeline, or she would have to leave, and try again in another era.  Then, to her delight, Rick asked the question she hoped he’d ask.

“If you can’t interfere with the course of events, can you tell me what to do, so I can return to the Land of the Lost and save Will, Holly, and Jack?”

Containing her smile, she said, “Well done Da....I mean Rick, I suppose there is no rule that forbids me from giving you the means to return to the Land of the Lost, but there is a price.”

“What price?” Rick asked suspiciously, not noticing Rani’s near slip.

Rani sighed.  Her price was big indeed, but it was necessary to prevent the paradox.  However, she feared that Rick would not do what he had to if she revealed the price now.  “When the time comes, you’ll know,” she said, “but in the mean time, I suggest you get what you need.  You’re going back to the Land of the Lost.”

Rick hoped the price this woman spoke about was not too harsh, but he was willing to pay any price to save his family, even give his life, if necessary.  So Rick did what he had to do.  He considered getting Jack’s family involved, but instead decided not to risk putting them in danger.  He felt he had done enough damage to them.  Besides, he knew they would object to his running off on the word of a stranger, so he resolved to just leave them a detailed note telling them what was happening.  With any luck, he would have a nice surprise for them soon. 

Chapter 9

Rick quickly went home, and expertly packed a bag of supplies that he knew would come in handy in the Land of the Lost.  “Amazing,” he thought, “here I am, about to return to the most dangerous place I have ever been, with only the amount of equipment I can carry, with a strong possibility of never returning, and I am actually looking forward to it.” 

He would have brought a tank if he could, but Rani told him that he could only bring what he could carry.  “Packing is a lot different when you actually KNOW you are going to the Land of the Lost,” he thought.  Soon, he arrived at the spot where he had last seen Rani.  No one was there at first, and Rick wondered if his conversation with her was a dream, but he was relieved when he saw the woman appear from what seemed like out of nowhere.  She was carrying a box.

“Ready?” she asked.

“I’ve been ready for over two years.”

“Well, let me warn you that things may not exactly be what you expect.  Remember, it’s been awhile since you’ve last seen your children and brother.”

Rick didn’t care.  His desire to return to the Land of the Lost was an obsession.  “As long as they’re alive, and I can get them home, a few changes are not that important.”

“Very well,” said Rani.  She opened the box, and took out a pyramid shaped object, which was about 10 inches high, clear, and had a white jewel suspended in the middle.  “This is called a mageti.”

Rick nodded.  “I’ve seen one before, when I met Enik.”  He snapped his fingers.  “THAT’s how you can locate the doorways.  Enik said that the mageti is a divining rod of sorts.”

“Well, that’s a simple explanation, but that’s basically it.  The mageti is a very powerful instrument, and in the wrong hands, it could prove very dangerous,” Rani replied.

“I remember.  Enik also said that his people built in safety features to prevent that.  It feeds off of hostile emotions, and if it senses enough hostile thoughts, it would be destroyed.  My son accidentally destroyed Enik’s mageti.  But how does it work?”

“It takes years of training to learn how to operate the mageti,” answered Rani.

Rick interrupted.  “I don’t have years.  You said you can help me get back to Jack, Will and Holly.”

“Patience Mr. Marshall.  I told you I am here to help, and I will help you.  The mageti has many functions, and without training, even if you could find a time doorway, the odds of you ending up in the Land of the Lost are overwhelming.  So I programmed the mageti to find a portal that will lead you to where you need to go to rescue your family.”

Rick was a bit embarrassed at his outburst.  “You’ll have to excuse me.  I have been trying to help Will, Holly and Jack since I got out of that place, and I have had so much disappointment, I’m impatient.”

There was a compassionate tone in the woman’s response.  “I understand what it’s like to be separated from your family.  And I can understand how you must feel.”  She handed Rick the mageti, which he gladly took without another thought.

“As I said, this particular mageti has been preset to find a doorway to the Land of the Lost, so all you have to do is operate it.”

 “How?”

Rani opened the box again, and took out a gold jewel similar to the one Rick had seen Enik wear on his neck.  Clearly, she possessed a level of knowledge beyond anything Rick had ever encountered.   “This is a companion piece to the mageti.  I want you to focus all your mental energy on your family, the Land of the Lost, and think of a portal.  If you concentrate hard enough, the mageti will find the time doorway and attract it to you.”

So Rick did as Rani instructed.  He thought of nothing but Will, Holly, and returning to the Land of the Lost.   He focused so hard that he closed his eyes, not seeing the jewel in the center of the mageti begin to light up brightly.  Suddenly he was surrounded by a mist, which reminded him of the mist surrounding time doorways in the Lost City.  He felt himself spinning, and the next thing he knew, he was standing in a pylon, and the ground was shaking. 

The tremor soon stopped, and Rick regained his balance.  He quickly realized that Rani had not followed.  Whatever he had to do, he would have to figure it out on his own.  “Well,” he said to himself, “I guess the first thing I’d better get my bearings.” 

He looked around inside the pylon, and saw that the diamond shaped door was open.   He gazed outside and instantly knew where he was.  Rani had returned him to the exact same pylon that sent him to Earth two years earlier.  He turned around and noticed that the matrix table had fallen, confirming the sound he heard just before he went through the portal.  Clearly, the fallen table was the reason Will and Holly had never followed him.  After all, even if they replaced the crystals on the table, which they didn’t do, finding the exact same combination of crystals needed to follow Rick would have been next to impossible. 

Rick had no idea how he opened the doorway the last time.  It was just luck.  It could take years to find the right combination out of the millions of possibilities.  Clearly, he would have to find another way home. 

The fact that Rani sent Rick to the same location made him think that perhaps he wasn’t gone that long in ‘Land of the Lost’ time.  In fact, given that he ended up in the same pylon during an earthquake, he even thought that he might have ended up within moments of when he left.  Rani was capable of moving through both time AND space, so she obviously chose WHEN Rick returned.  Turning back the clock would be well within her means. 

Rick then stepped outside the pylon hoping to find his children, and possibly Jack, nearby.  But they were not there.  He looked around to reacquaint himself with his surroundings.  In the background, Grumpy’s distinctive roar could be heard. 

Not wasting any time, Rick figured that the best place to find his family was the cave.  He smiled as he pictured the look on their faces upon his return.  For the first time in a long time, Rick Marshall was excited.

But his excitement soon turned to horror when he arrived at High Bluff.  The cave entrance was covered by a huge bolder.  Fearing his family was trapped inside, Rick frantically ran up to the cave and desperately started digging.  Was this some sort of cruel joke by the people who ran the Land of the Lost?  Was Rani all part of a plan to get him back here?  Why?  He was beginning to panic.  He took a pickax out of his bag and began to dig, but made little progress.  However, he did make enough of a dent in the cave to see inside.  He could see that the Marshalls’ equipment was covered in dust, but there were no bodies in there.  Rick sighed in relief.  The cave looked exactly as he remembered, except for the dust. 

Rick realized that whatever happened, it happened shortly after he left, but a decent amount of time had passed.  There was no sign of human activity anywhere.  Luckily, when the cave was destroyed, no one was around.  He assumed that his family was alive, because he would not allow himself to think otherwise. 

Rick then decided to put himself in his children’s shoes.  A big quake hit, and Will and Holly suddenly found themselves without their father, and without a home.  Rick had always prepared them for his possible death.  When living in a place as dangerous as the Land of the Lost, death could occur at anytime, and Rick spent countless hours teaching his children everything he could about survival.  He was confident that Will could take care of his sister, but he never thought that the cave would be destroyed.

“Ok Marshall,” he said aloud, “Will and Holly just discovered the cave is destroyed.  Where do they go?”  Rick’s first thought was to go to the Lost City.  It was the ideal location.  It was an enclosed building, and it was near a time doorway.  Plus, they would be closer to Enik, the closest thing to an adult aside from him, assuming they never met up with Jack.

But Rick quickly decided that his children would never settle in the Lost City.  The Sleestak were too much of a threat.  Suddenly he remembered the temple near the Lost City.  Shortly before Rick went home, they found this mysterious temple.  Coincidentally, the temple belonged to the Builders.  When the family got inside, they found that the Builders had left behind technology that was far too dangerous for the Marshalls to make that building their home.

But there was a second building that had not been opened.  The family tried to get in, but the door was jarred shut.  If somehow Will and Holly managed to get inside, it might make a perfect home.  It was certainly worth a look.  Not wanting to waste anymore time, Rick decided that the areas near the Lost City were the best place to start.

As a forest ranger, Rick was very good at navigating his way through strange lands.  Two years on Earth did not make him forget the route to the Lost City.  At this point, it was near nightfall.  Rick looked up at the night sky, and instantly realized that Rani had not sent him to a point just after he left.  The triple moons of the Land of the Lost were lined up with the smallest moon in the middle.  That alignment meant that the Pylon Express was active.  Since the moons only lined up once every few years, Rick realized that it had been at least two years since he left.  That made sense to him, since two years had passed on Earth. 

Rick thought about the timing some more, and figured that Rani must have chosen this period so he could bring his family home through the pylon.  He appreciated the thought, and silently chastised himself for thinking she was anything but a friend.  The Pylon Express would be active once a day, for three days.  All he had to do is catch one of those rides.  If this happened, he could get his family home.  If not, he would be stranded once again.  “But why do they need me?” he thought, “Will, Holly and Jack could just go home on their own.”

His question was soon answered as he arrived at the crevasse.  The bridge was gone, and assuming they were near the Lost City, his family would have no way to get to the pylon.  In fact, the missing bridge reinforced Rick’s thought that his family did indeed settle near the Lost City.  Why else would Rani place him in this time period, at the other side of the bridge?  Rick also assumed that today was either the first or second day of the pylon’s window of opportunity.  After all, Rani would have known that it would take more than one day to fix the bridge.  Rick was now positive that his family was on the wrong side of the crevasse.  He prayed that Grumpy was not around so he could build a new bridge in peace.  Luckily, the coast was clear.

He returned to High Bluff to begin his work.  Wherever his family went, they had left behind a bulky wagon Rick had built shortly after arriving in the Land of the Lost.  After some minor repair, he took the wagon, and spent the better part of the night chopping down a tree big enough to cross the twenty-foot crevasse.  By the end of the night, he had successfully built a crude, but functional bridge.  Rick was able to resume his journey to the Lost City.  More importantly, he had a way for the group to catch the Pylon Express.  He figured that his family never built a bridge of their own because they lacked the equipment.  Most of the Marshalls’ supplies were in the cave, and Rick was only able to accomplish his task in so short a time because he brought the necessary tools with him.

With the bridge complete, Rick continued on to find his family.

Chapter 10

Although quakes were always dangerous, Will knew that whenever one occurred in the Land of the Lost, something interesting usually followed.  It was a quake that led him to the Land in the first place.  A quake once opened a doorway to a parallel universe where Rick and Will helped their counterparts.  A quake sent Rick home and brought in Uncle Jack.  A long time passed since the earth last shook, and Will only wondered what would happen next. 

Since most of the Marshalls’ experiences with quakes happened before Jack’s arrival, Jack’s main concern was to fix up the temple and to keep it safe from Sleestak.  So in the aftermath of the quake, Jack stayed behind, and inspected the area for damage while Will went exploring. 

In the twelve years he spent in the Land of the Lost, Will had covered the area near the temple well, but perhaps the quake opened up a door to a new cave, or somehow opened an accessible time doorway.  If the last dozen years had taught Will anything, it was that the Land’s mysteries were endless. 

Holly and Chaka were given the task of gathering food and water, as most of the supplies were destroyed in the quake.  Will watched his sister go off into the jungle, and remembered back to when she was a kid.  Holly now looked a lot like their mother, and she was all that Will had left of either of his parents.  Still very protective of her, he was uncomfortable letting her go off alone—especially after a quake.  But Holly was an adult, and Will understood that he had to balance between playing big brother and acknowledging that his sister was quite capable of taking care of herself.  She would always be his little sister, but she was a survivor.

Will continued to monitor the area.  He looked up at the sky and thought about how the three moons of the Land of the Lost were currently in alignment.  It killed him that there was no way to access the Pylon Express.  It used to be easy to get to that pylon, but the destruction of the bridge meant that the one sure way of getting home was inaccessible.  Home was so close, but yet so far.   “Typical,” he thought. 

For all his time in the Land of the Lost, Will was still very homesick.  His thoughts of the Pylon Express led him in the direction of the great crevasse.  He knew there was little point in going there, but still, he wanted to see it again.

Despite the constant failures, one thing that never left Will was the Marshall spirit.  He knew he would get home, and he would not give up looking, no matter how long it took.  He continued to walk, lost in his thoughts.

Suddenly, an aftershock hit.  Will lost his balance and fell to the ground.  When the quake stopped, his ankle was pinned under a rock.  He was otherwise unhurt, and he remembered back to a similar incident when he first arrived in the Land of the Lost.  He and Holly opened a pylon, and started touching the crystals on the table.  By playing with something about which he had no knowledge, Will and Holly unknowingly caused severe weather problems.  A wind as strong as a hurricane caused a tree to topple over right on top of Will, pinning him to the ground.  His father helped him out, and the family fixed the problem in the pylon, but Will learned the valuable lesson of being very careful with things he does not know.  Even acts that seem harmless can have giant repercussions in the Land of the Lost. 

But this time Will was alone.  Neither Jack nor Holly knew where to find him, and he had no way of contacting them.  He was stuck until the inevitable search party came or he could free himself.   “Great,” he thought, “now all I need is a dinosaur.”

As if she was reading his mind, Will heard the roar of Big Alice, an allosaurus that roamed near the Lost City.  She was coming, she sounded hungry, and Jack and Holly could not help him.  Will desperately struggled to jar his foot free, but it was no use.  Twelve years of eluding dinosaurs was about to catch up to him.  As Big Alice came into visual range, she quickly spotted him.  Will could see her sharp teeth as she looked right at him, letting out yet another roar.  Afraid, he closed his eyes, and prepared for the end. 

But as Alice’s head moved toward Will, he heard a sound he hadn’t heard in well over a decade.  It was a gunshot!  Alice screamed in pain.  She was not mortally wounded, but she was hurt enough to retreat and find another meal. 

Clearly, someone helped him.  The Marshalls did not have a gun at camp, so it could not have been Holly or Jack.  Then Will remembered the quake.  Perhaps someone else was trapped here from Earth.  The thought of another person stuck in this place saddened Will, but he did owe this person a great deal of gratitude.  Safe for now, Will looked up, and saw his instincts were correct.  He couldn’t believe what he saw.  It was like a dream come true.   “Hello son,” said Rick.

Chapter 11

“DAD!”  Will shouted in disbelief.  He had so much to say, but the words just did not come.  He tried to jump to his feet, but he was still pinned by the rock.  All he could muster was, “how?”

“It’s a long story, Will.  But I’m here, and ready to take you and your sister home.”

“How did you find me?”

Rick didn’t say a word.  Instead, took out his pendant, and pointed to Will’s.   Like his father, even after all these years, Will still wore it around his neck.  In all the excitement, Rick had almost forgotten about his pendant, but he was glad he remembered to check it when he crossed his homemade bridge.  He smiled at his son.  “I saw you were in trouble, and I came to help.” 

Rick moved the rock and the younger Marshall stood up and tested the ankle.  “Are you ok?” he asked.  Satisfied he was not hurt, Will told his father that he was fine.  The two men hugged. 

Rick was overcome with emotion.  It felt great to hug his son after two years.    But then Rick noticed that his son seemed older than 21.  Rick broke the silence and shared his thought. “Will, just how long have I been gone?”

“You disappeared in the pylon about 10 years ago.  But we knew that if it were possible, you’d come back.  I can’t wait to see the expression on Holly’s and Uncle Jack’s faces when they see you,” said Will, smiling.

Will’s answer confirmed Rick’s theory.  His son seemed so much older because he was so much older.  It was strange to think that Will had gained eight years on his father.  Rick also realized that Holly was an adult and wondered what she looked like.  He was saddened at the thought of Will and Holly losing their entire childhood to this place, and even sadder at missing out on raising them. 

Despite those thoughts, he was relieved to find out that his family was alive, and apparently still unharmed.  He was also glad that his suspicions concerning his brother’s fate were finally confirmed by someone he completely trusted.  Sure, Rick had seen Jack’s accident, and Rani told him that Jack was there, but hearing it from Will finally erased Rick’s lingering doubts.  Jack was alive, and his presence clearly helped Will and Holly.  If Rick could not raise his children, he was glad his brother was there to step in.  “So Jack is here.  I’m glad to hear you’re all ok.” 

Will was still smiling.  “We’re fine.  And clearly you haven’t changed a bit.”  As soon as he spoke the words, the smile on Will’s face faded.  Rick figured that the lack of change was eerie for his son.  After all, how could his father not age in over a decade?  Will stepped back.

Rick saw his son’s fear, and quickly read his mind.  In their first year in the Land of the Lost, the Sleestak were able to convince Will that he was seeing his mother.  Will, and later Holly, was placed in a trance.  The Sleestak extended the illusion to make them think their father AND mother wanted them to join them in the Lost City.  Rick was able to save the children, but it was an experience that haunted all of them.  “It’s no trick son, it’s really me.  Will, this may be hard for you to take, but for me, only two years have passed since I fell through pylon.”

“But that’s impossible!” said Will, quickly reminding himself that nothing was impossible in the Land of the Lost.

“Look, the woman who helped me get back here said there would be some unexpected things going on, but I guess getting to you ten years late is better than not getting to you at all.”

“What woman?  Just how did you get here?”

Rick then proceeded to tell him the whole story about how Rani suddenly appeared and helped him get back to the Land of the Lost.  He told Will how Rani wouldn’t tell him how to get home, but assured his son that he did have a plan.  He gave Will information about Jack’s family, and the two reminisced about things that no Sleestak could know.  Will soon believed that this man was indeed his father, and that everything he was saying was the truth.  As father and son walked back to the temple, each excited to see the other, they talked about the Pylon Express.  Will told Rick that they had one day left, and Rick told Will of the bridge he made.

So Rick arrived at the temple.  Holly and Chaka had not yet returned, but Jack was putting the finishing touches on his repair work.  Jack was clearly thrilled at the sight of Rick.  After the two men hugged, Jack patted Rick on the shoulder smiled and sarcastically said, “Well it sure took you long enough—what did you do, take the long way back?”

Never one to back away from his brother, Rick returned the smile and shot back, “well, I just wanted to see how much you would age, and you didn’t disappoint me.”  The smile on Will’s face showed he enjoyed seeing his father and uncle spar like he does with Holly.  Soon, all three men were laughing and enjoying the family reunion.

But their joyful reunion was short-lived.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, the skies grew dark, wind started to blow, and thunder and lightning began to fill the sky.  But this was no storm.  The Marshall men heard what sounded like a pylon and doorway opening.  Rick’s instincts told him that whatever was happening, it had something to do with Rani.  However, unlike the case with Rani, Rick had the feeling that what was coming was not friendly.

Chapter 12

“RICK MARSHALL!  YOU DO NOT BELONG!  THE NONINTERFERENCE RULE PROHIBITS YOUR PRESENCE IN THIS VALLEY!  YOU WILL RETURN TO EARTH NOW!” shouted a booming voice through the thunder and mist.

Clearly, whoever these people were, they were powerful.  But Rick had not gone through so much to return to simply leave.  “Like hell I will!” he replied defiantly.  “I’m not going anywhere without my family!”

A red humanoid figure emerged from the mist.  “YOUR FAMILY IS OF NO CONSEQUENCE.  BUT YOU MUST LEAVE!”

Jack then responded, “I don’t know who you think you are, but my family and I have been here for a long time.  It’s been years since I saw my children, and the Marshalls are going home!”

“INTERFERENCE IN THE NATURAL COURSE OF EVENTS IS PROHIBITED!” 

“Who are you people?  Why would you stop us from going home?”  Will asked.

The red figure answered, “YOU HAVE ENCOUNTERED US BEFORE WILL MARSHALL.  WE ARE THE BUILDERS!  WE EXIST OUT OF TIME AND OBSERVE VARIOUS WORLDS.  WE HAVE CONTROLLED THE LAND OF THE LOST SINCE THE FALL OF THE ALTRUSIANS.  OUR PRIME RULE IS THAT WE CANNOT INTERFERE IN THE NATURAL COURSE OF EVENTS!  ONE OF OUR HUMAN OPERATIVES VIOLATED THAT RULE!  SHE WILL BE DEALT WITH.” 

A new voice emerged.  “Why can’t you leave them alone?  My family has been through enough!” Will, Jack and Rick saw the blonde woman standing beside them with tears in her eyes.  It was Rani.

“Holly!”  Will and Jack yelled at the same time.

“Holly?”  Rick repeated.  Surprised, he turned to his son.  “This isn’t Holly, this is Rani—she’s the one that helped me get back to the Land of the Lost.”

“Dad,” Will said, “That’s Holly.  I don’t know who this Rani is, but that’s Holly!”

Ignoring the Builder for a moment, Jack looked at Rani closely.  “She looks like Holly, but older.”

Suddenly, everything was clear to Rick.  He addressed his brother and son.  “I can’t believe I didn’t see it before.  It all makes sense now.  To me, I was only gone two years.  To you, I was gone ten.  Somehow, in this Land, time does not run the same.  Rani must be a future version of Holly.  Last time I saw Holly, she was 13.  I guess I let my obsession with returning get in the way of noticing my own daughter.  I couldn’t even imagine her as an adult.”

With her identity revealed, Rani faced her father for the first time as his daughter in years.  “I think it’s time you started, Dad.”  She felt like a kid again.

All the pieces of the puzzle were falling into place.  Rani regretted her deception, but she had been working for this moment for a long time.  She lost her childhood to the Land of the Lost, and she gave most of her adult life to the Builders, but now she wanted to have a normal life on Earth.  She wanted her family to be part of that life.  The timing was perfect.  Her younger self was away, and she knew this was one of the most important days of her life.  That’s why she had chosen it.  Everything would come full circle today. 

Rick still had trouble accepting this grown woman as his daughter, and he couldn’t take his eyes off her.  Despite all that life had taken from her, he was proud of the person she became in spite of it.  She risked a lot to help her family, just like her old man.

The time had come for Holly to explain her actions to her father.  “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you the truth, but I figured I was in enough trouble already.  The Builders took me when I was twenty-three, not too long from now.  Will and Uncle Jack disappeared right after the quake on my birthday--today.  I was alone.  First I lost you, then Will and Uncle Jack.  The Builders taught me how to work the time doorways, but told me I couldn’t change things.  I wasn’t supposed to contact you, and only did that one time.

“I knew I couldn’t directly help get you home, but if YOU did the work, I hoped everyone could finally escape this place and return to Earth.  The pain of losing you, Will and Uncle Jack never left me.  I even remember telling my younger self to treasure the moments with her family, since they would not always be there.  But when I returned, the Builders forbade me from using the time doorways for a long time.”  She turned to address Will and Jack.  “But I couldn’t stay away forever.  I just waited patiently, trying to figure out when to save you, and when to contact Dad.  These were the periods I chose.  I picked two years for Dad because I felt that was the minimum time he could be on Earth and still trust me.  I had to let him exhaust all his ideas.  I could have waited another eight years to match the aging, but I couldn’t let Dad suffer for so long.  I brought him to this time because it was the end of our time in the Land of the Lost.  There would be less chance of a temporal paradox.  So when the opportunity arose, I went to Earth, and helped Dad.”

Rick was still slightly in shock.  “I should have recognized you, but when I think of my daughter, I think of my little girl.  It hasn’t been that long, she…you, should still be a kid.”  Rick said.  “You look so much like your mother.  That must explain why I trusted you.”  Holly couldn’t help smiling at the comparison.

“ENOUGH!  ALL MUST BE RESTORED!” yelled the voice of the Builder, interrupting the family reunion.

Though Jack loved Will and Holly like they were his own, he missed his wife and children, whom he now knew were still waiting on Earth.  Rick and this older Holly represented a way out, and Jack was going to take it.  Thinking of Jen, Bobby, and Kathy, he spoke up. “You’re not going to make the Marshalls do anything without a fight!”

Finally reunited, the four Marshalls—Rick, Will, Jack, and Holly, would not be denied. 

Rick knew the look in his brother’s eye and he feared for him.  Jack was obviously ready to do anything to get home, and he never was the type to be bullied.  But Rick realized—the Builders are not necessarily violent.  This is a group of people that once could have hurt his family and did not.  This same group took in his daughter, gave her a life, and saved her from spending a lifetime alone in this horrible place.  Perhaps logic would work and he could turn their rules against them.  He turned toward the voice, “You said that interference is prohibited.”

“THAT IS CORRECT!”

“If you force me to leave, YOU will be interfering with US.”  He pointed to his daughter.  “When Holly contacted me, that was PART of the natural course of events in my life.  Who’s to say that when Will and Jack disappeared, they weren’t going with me?” 

Holly picked up on her father’s argument.  “Will and Uncle Jack disappeared without a trace.  I always assumed they were dead, but they never let me find out what happened.  I never even tried.  It was too painful.  Maybe this was all supposed to happen.”  She was again in near tears. 

Another new voice spoke up, emerging from the mist.  He walked closer to the humans, past the first Builder, and spoke in a familiar tone.  The first Builder stepped back in deference, and the new figure said, “YOU ALWAYS WERE A PERCEPTIVE MAN RICK MARSHALL.  YOUR ASSESSMENTS MAY VERY WELL BE CORRECT.”

“Who are you?  Are you a Builder?”  Rick asked.

Suddenly, the mist dissipated, and a familiar form appeared in front of Rick.  The Marshalls instantly recognized him.  It was Enik.  He turned to Rick, and read his mind telepathically.  He spoke in a softer tone. “To answer your first question, all my attempts at returning to my past failed.  I was contacted by the Builders, and they revealed to me that they were blocking my efforts.  They showed me that if I succeeded, a far worse fate would have fallen over my world.  I soon joined the Builders and in time, became their leader.  For you, only a few years have passed since we last met.  But for me, several decades have gone by.  I possess knowledge that even my fellow Builders do not have.  And it was I who suggested that Holly Marshall be recruited to become a Builder.”

“But why?” asked Rick.

“Though I never will truly understand the ways of your people, I have never forgotten our initial encounter.  You once spoke about the presence of compassion being a necessary ingredient to save my people.  On numerous occasions I have based my actions on compassion.  Allowing Holly Marshall to restore you to this valley is one such example.  I will never return to my home time period again, but I have vowed to learn from the mistakes of the Altrusians. 

“Based on past experience, it would have been illogical to expect that you would not try to return here.  Logic also dictated that your life would be spent in misery had you remained on Earth.  I have prohibited Holly from learning her family’s fate because I knew that she would eventually make a rescue attempt and she had to formulate that plan without knowledge of her future.  In exercising compassion, I have allowed a window of opportunity for you to escape this land.  But we will not tell you how today’s events occur.  Our rules exist for a reason, and we have done more than we should have.  You have reached a crossroad.  Either you will return home, or you will die.  We will not reveal which path is yours.” 

He turned his attention to Holly.  “Holly Marshall.  Your time with the Builders is complete. Soon, your younger self will become your replacement and order will be restored.  Go with your family and meet your destiny.  Ginactik.”

As suddenly as Enik appeared, he was gone.  So was the other Builder.  The storm that ravaged the Land of the Lost was replaced by an eerie calmness.

The Marshalls were alone.

Chapter 13

Will stared at his family.  Rick and Jack were standing next to each other, and Holly was standing to the side.  Will realized that his younger sister had just become his older sister, and she had experiences that he could only imagine.  She had gone through the pain of losing her family, and was now going through the joy of getting them back.  He wondered how he would have fared in her position.  Would he have had the guts to defy beings as powerful as the Builders?  He hoped so, but was thankful he would never find out.  Will approached his father.  “Now what?”

Rick pointed up at the sky.  “Look son, the moons are in alignment.  If we can make it to the Pylon Express, we can get home.”

“But Rick, the bridge is gone.”  Jack said.

“I took care of that.  Trust me.”

“So let’s go.”  Jack said.

“But what about Holly?”  Will asked, “We just can’t leave her!”

“I’m right here Will,” the elder Holly replied.

“I know.  But OUR Holly--the Holly that I grew up with, is still out with Chaka.  How can we just leave her?  And what about Chaka?”

            Rick approached Will.  “Son, you know as well as I do Chaka can’t go with us to Earth.  He would be as out of place there as we are here.”

Will nodded.  The only bad part of leaving the Land of the Lost was that Chaka would have to remain behind.  As far as the humans were concerned, Chaka WAS a Marshall.  Will simply said, “All this time, and we can’t even say goodbye!”

Rick understood. “Believe me Will; I know how it feels to suddenly be without your family.  I wish we could say goodbye to Chaka too.  As for Holly, I know it’s hard.  It hurts me too.  We always said that we’d go home together, or not at all.  I hate the idea of putting her through that.” 

Will wasn’t satisfied.  “But if we wait a little bit, she’ll come back, and we’ll all go.”

Holly shook her head.  “That would cause a paradox.   We can’t give the younger me knowledge of what’s to come.  I don’t know if I would have done things the same if I had known you all left with an older version of me.  And if the younger version of me came with us, then I would never have joined the Builders, and would not be in a position to put today’s events in motion.  If my younger self or Chaka sees us now, all will be lost.”

Rick spoke up. “Leaving the Holly of this time was the price you mentioned, wasn’t it?”  She nodded, remembering the feeling of losing her uncle and brother.  Rick turned back to Will.  “Son, look at her.  That IS your sister.   We ARE going home together, just not at the same ages we started.  The Holly of this time will be fine.  She’s a survivor.  She’s a Marshall.  And in a few years, she’ll travel back in time and stand right here with us.  She’s right.  If we don’t leave her here, the Builders can’t pick her up in a month.  She won’t learn what she needs to learn to get back here.  And I’m sure Chaka will be fine.  Remember, the Land of the Lost is his home.  I wish we could say goodbye, but even if we could get him alone, there’s too much risk he would tell the younger Holly what happened.”

Will knew they were right, but he still felt horrible.  Chaka was part of his family, and the best friend he had in the Land of the Lost.  But Rick had a point.  He couldn’t pass up the chance to get home, even at this price.  He turned to his sister.  “I understand.  I just hope you can forgive us for doing this.”

Holly looked at her brother.  “Losing you was the most difficult thing I ever had to go through.  But the recent events have shown why everything has happened.  There’s nothing to forgive, Will.”

Jack looked up at the sky and pointed to the moons.  “Well, I hate to interrupt but time’s running out and we have an appointment with a pylon.  We’d better get going.”  And with that, the Marshalls next journey began.

Chapter 14

Just as the Marshalls crossed the bridge on the way from the Lost City, they heard a familiar growl.  “GRUMPY!”  Will shouted. 

“Will, Holly, Jack come on, move!” Rick yelled.  The Marshalls ran for their lives, taking cover at a bush near the pylon.  Grumpy stood between the Marshalls and the pylon. 

“DAD!  The moons are lining up!” Will exclaimed.

The Marshalls arrived at the door of the pylon just as it opened.  If it closed, Rick knew it was over.  Jack told him that the moons had lined up two days earlier, meaning that this was their last shot.  Since Enik said they’d either get home or die, if they missed the door, their journey would end tragically. 

Grumpy roared as the Marshalls remained under cover.  But Rick was not done yet.  “Jack, do you have any crystals with you?”  Rick asked.

“I have a green one.  That’s it.”

“Will?”

“I have a yellow one.”

“Give them to me.”  Rick took the crystals, and with expert aim, through them down toward Grumpy.  His timing perfect, the crystals hit just as Grumpy was looking at them.  A bright light appeared, and the dinosaur was temporarily blinded.  The T-Rex stumbled around, and tripped, cutting his face on the top of the pylon.  He retreated to the jungle.

“That’ll leave a nasty scar,” Will noted.

“Come on, let’s move.”  The Marshalls ran for the now open pylon.  Holly entered first, followed by Will, and Jack.  Rick was last.  He took one last look behind him and stepped into the pylon just as the door closed behind him.

Chapter 15

The doorways moved from world to world.  Finally, the doorway to Earth opened, and the Marshalls stepped out.  They’d done it.  The Marshalls were home.

For the first time in many years, Will saw a newspaper.  He looked at the date, and found out that they had returned just one day after Holly sent Rick back to the Land of the Lost. “Twelve years in the Land of the Lost, two and a half years gone on Earth, that’s not so bad,” Will thought to himself. 

Will then remembered that the Land of the Lost was a closed universe.  Four people left, four people must enter.  Rick and the elder Holly made the trip both ways, canceling each other out.  Will and Jack were gone, and the twenty-three year old Holly would soon be gone.  That meant that three people would soon find themselves in the Land of the Lost.  He hoped that they would have an easier time of things than his family, but he was thankful to be home.  The Marshalls had done their time.  It was time to move on with their lives.

The first stop was Jack’s house, where an emotional reunion between Jack and his family took place.  Jack, Will, and Holly were older than they should have been, and the family had to adjust to the new ages, but at least they were home. 

Rick placed his hand on his brother’s shoulder.  “Words can’t even begin to express the gratitude.  You never gave up on us.  You took care of my children when I couldn’t.  You lost years of your life.  All that time with your family—gone.  I can never repay you.”

Jack nodded.  “You’d have done the same for me.  Besides, you got me home.  You have repaid me with interest.  You never quit either.  It goes to show what I always say, if there’s one thing about Marshalls, they don’t give up.”  Jack replied.

With that, the two brothers hugged, and Jack, Rick, Will, and Holly, resumed their lives.

EPILOGUE

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

*                      *                      *                      *

On Earth, 15 years had passed since the Marshalls returned home.  Will and Holly each got married and had children of their own.  Jack and Jennifer lived a happy life with their children.  Rick went back to his old job as a forest ranger.  The Marshalls had survived.

But as the Marshalls adventure ended, another adventure was beginning.  Another family, the Porter family, Tom Porter, his son Kevin, and his daughter Annie, were riding in their truck on a camping trip when the Earth shook.  The portal opened, and the Land of the Lost had claimed its three people.

Copyright 1998, 2001, 2004 by Marc C.  All characters from the television shows Land of the Lost belong to Krofft Industries.  Note that parts of the first two chapters are a retelling of the episode AFTERSHOCK, written by Jon Kubichan and airing on September 11, 1976.  The story, and all original work, is copyrighted to Marc C.  This story is for entertainment purposes only and can not be redistributed without permission of the author. 

The End.

 
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