Cpl. Kit Thunder of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
returns in...

Secrets of the Forgotten Valley

A 10-Chapter Adventure of the Canadian Bush!

by "Drooling" D.K. Latta
About the author

******

Previously: Reuniting with the jungle girl, Kit realizes she really is Ilana Parding. In this valley where various time periods coexist, the adult Ilana can exist even as the seven year old Ilana does as well. Setting out with the adult Ilana to rescue the others, Kit surveys the camp before them...even as danger is moving closer in the form of a Tyrannosaurus Rex...
 
 

Episode 10 (conclusion): Showdown


CROUCHING BESIDE ILANA PARDING, Kit studied the camp before him as Chester P. Greenberg, the eccentric old prospector, was dragged forward, his hands bound. Kit felt Ilana shift nervously as the roar of the T Rex echoed through the night, clearly approaching nearer. They did not have much time.

The tallest of the kidnappers was a man Kit had not encountered when he and Kevin had been attacked by the others (back in chapter 3 ~ the ed.). He was a big man, and carried his size with a grace that bespoke a fighter. He put fists on hips and said, "Now that you've seen where we're going to bury you if you don't talk, are you feeling more communicative? I know there's gold around here. That geologist must think I'm a fool to buy his malarkey about fossils and the like."

"I a-reckon there're plenty o' other reasons to figger yer a fool, mister," said Chester. "Thet's the least of 'em."

The big man struck the old prospector across the face, and an angry muscle spasmed in Kit's jaw.

"No one would come all this way just to go looking for dinosaurs," insisted the big man. Kit frowned. Could it be he and his gang had not divined the nature of this valley, had not seen the creatures that dwelled here? Then Kit realized it was simpler than that. He meant it. A man driven by the lure of gold wealth could not recognize any other value, whether it be scientific, or what have you. He viewed the world a certain way, and could not comprehend any others. And his myopia was going to get someone killed.

The tragedy was that Kit had come upon cases like this before. Poverty-stricken old hermits who were found murdered in their remote cabins because local rumour had it that they were misers, hoarding a secret stash of wealth. But their wealth, like the gold, was a myth. Of course, Chester just fanned the criminals' enthusiasm, because he too believed there was gold in this valley -- he had spent nigh on thirty years searching for it, to no avail. Watching the criminal and the crazy prospector face each other, one protecting a secret that probably didn't exist, the other trying to wrest that secret from him...it would almost be comical if it wasn't so grim.

Putting his lips to Ilana's ear, Kit whispered his makeshift plan.

***

One of the kidnappers, his arm bound in a sling from when Kit had shot him, looked up from where he was tending the campfire. With a start, he leaped back as he saw a man in dark blue pants with yellow striping, and a torn and dirty white shirt, loom up before him, having emerged from nothing as silent as a ghost. His ivory pallor simply added to the illusion. But he was no ghost, he was a Mountie.

"M-mike," stammered the man, yanking forth his pistol as he lay sprawled on his backside.

The gang's leader looked over and exclaimed a curse as a .45 automatic leapt to his hand. Chester was momentarily forgotten as the hoodlum faced the embodiment of law and order in these parts. Even he was momentarily intimidated, not the least by Kit's casual demeanor.

"Heeyah," chortled Chester gleefully on seeing his friend.

As the four men closed warily about him, Chester was left alone, ignored, since he was bound and ostensibly helpless. Out of the corner of his eye, Kit glimpsed the flash of tanned, lithe limbs as Ilana emerged from the brush behind the old man, to work free his bonds. Kit kept his focus on the man called Mike, so as not to betray the woman. His voice cold and efficient, he said, "I'm Cpl. Kit Thunder, R.C.M.P. I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to drop your weapons and surrender. You're in a lot of trouble. Kidnapping, assault, attempted murder, interference with a police officer in the performance of his duties. Let's not make it any worse than it is."

The four men just stared, dumbfounded. Then, finally, Mike threw back his head and laughed. "Brother, you take the cake. Us? Surrender? We got you four to one." Kit did not flinch as he saw the last of Chester's bonds come free and the old man, having been instructed what to do by Ilana, crept stealthily toward the tent where the geologist and his little girl were being held. "What say we just put you in the same grave we're going to put that old coot in?" He started to look back at where Chester should be.

His heart skipping a beat, Kit said, "You aren't going to bury him there -- I've seen where he's buried."

That stopped Mike before he had a chance to note that the old man wasn't where he should be. He stared at Kit like he was insane. "Huh?"

"Tricky to explain. What isn't so tricky is that if we don't come to an understanding, we're all in trouble. Listen."

The cracking of branches, the groaning of trees too stubborn to break, but bending just a little to permit a great bulk to pass, rustled through the air.

One of the other men shifted nervously. "What's that?"

"That's a Tyrannosaurus Rex -- perhaps the fiercest predator God saw fit to put on this world. This camp isn't shielded properly, and you've been making enough noise to raise the dead. I think I can help you get out of here -- alive. But you'll have to do what I say. I've encountered one before."

A couple of the men looked ready to concede, their eyes wide and wet as the cracking of branches grew louder, and as the earth beneath their feet began shuddering, however slightly, in time with massive, unseen footsteps. Kit felt perspiration beading on his brow. He had hoped that they would be more reasonable than this. He did not dare look toward the tent with the captives, for fear of betraying his plan, but he hoped Chester had got them away by now. Whether he could truly save the men who wanted to kill him -- well, that would depend on them.

It was decided by one of them. "It's a trick!" screamed one, clearly trying to convince himself as much as anyone. His gun arm went rigid and lead spat with a thunderous bark at Kit. But Kit was already diving and rolling, his own gun leaping to hand and returning fire. The man snapped back, went rigid, then slumped to the sward as though a rag doll.

Then Kit was running and diving as three more guns opened fire, the men so consumed by their own greed and villainy that they chose to ignore their own senses. They did not want to believe in the approaching death, so they chose not to, prefering to be the predators rather than recognize that they were the prey. Kit fired off two more shots while in a mid-air leap -- an almost impossible shot. But he was rewarded by seeing another man go down.

Then suddenly that gargantuan head of bristling teeth exploded from the trees, moving with the lightning speed of a striking snake, and Kit had one less opponent. Kit winced, the sight of those savage jaws snapping about a human being something that was liable to haunt him till his dying day. The T Rex reared up, bellowing its triumph, even if the man was more a morsel than a full meal.

Mike looked up and screamed in stark terror.

"Don't move!" Kit said. "Its eyes are bad. Stay calm. It-" Then he saw the glistening flash of red that shimmered upon Mike's breast. Clearly a wild shot had nicked the man -- though whether it was from Kit's gun, or one of the others, he couldn't say. It was probably a minor wound, but he knew how the T Rex responded to red (see chapter six ~ the ed.). Still, there was a chance, if Mike didn't panic. But, of course, like all bullies and thugs, panic was what he did best. He fired a couple of wild shots up at the creature, which even if they connected would do no good whatsoever. Then he turned and, arms flailing, lungs screaming, ran. He didn't make it five feet before the T Rex once more lived up to its name -- king of the terrible lizards.

Terrible indeed.

Kit quietly slinked back into the comforting arms of the surrounding forest.

***

Kit found the trail Chester had blazed and, twenty minutes later, was greeted by a happy yapping as Kevin bounded up to him through the dense brush. Tail wagging, tongue lashing at his face, Kevin was clearly pleased to see his master. Laughing and patting the dog, Kit calmed him down, and he let the dog lead him to the others. In a slight clearing he found Chester and a young, regular-featured man with short, blonde hair, and a pretty little girl who he hugged close to his side.

"There y'are!" exclaimed Chester. "Durnit, I was figgerin' yew done got yerself eaten. I'm mighty glad thet ain't so. Mr. Parding, this here's Kit -- he's the one what saved us all."

Haltingly, the geologist extended a hand. "I'm very grateful, sir."

Kit took the hand. "Just doing my duty, sir." The little girl stared up at him, clearly fascinated by his pale albino skin and ruby eyes. He winked at her and could see an echo of the woman he knew as Ilana in her features. For the first time, he truly realized what he had been told was true.

"This is my daughter," said the geologist. "Ilana."

"I know. You might say, we've almost met." Then Kit looked up, and he stopped, his eyes settling on a beautiful woman, hidden in the branches of the trees. She smiled at him, and blew him a kiss. Then she slipped quietly away.

Chester leaned close to him and whispered, "She done figgered it was less confusing this way -- fer the prefesser and the little one."

Kit nodded, then looked at the old man with his crinkled little eyes twinkling. "You, uh, 'reckon' you can show us the way home, Chester?"

Chester grinned and slapped his thigh. "I figger I c'n."

"What's that?" Parding said, cocking his head. "Listen."

Kit turned, wondering what new crisis was presenting itself. He stiffened as he heard it too, a plaintive, whiney voice calling in the night. "Help! Help, is anyone there?" A gust of wind swayed a branch, momentarily giving Kit a glimpse of a distant tree and the tiny figure of a young man in its upper branches. "Who the devil?" Kit started forward, to offer assistance. A bony hand on his arm stopped him.

"Aw, don't pay 'im any nevermind," said Chester. "He'll be alright. Thet's jest me -- got treed by a sabre tooth tiger when I first arrived, if'n I recall correct. Dumb tenderfoot thet I was." He chuckled and sauntered off in the opposite direction.

Parding looked at Kit, but Kit could only shrug. "Don't ask."

***

Chester led them to the foot of the bluff that Kit had first descended from -- what seemed like ages ago but, he reaalized, was only earlier that same night. Chester put his hands on his hips. "Reckon you c'n find yer way from here."

"You won't come with us?" Kit asked.

"Nyah. I still haven't found my lucky strike yet. There's a gold vein with my name on it somewheres, an' I aim to be findin' it. Sides, I reckon this is my home now." He plucked at his wiry beard. "'Sides, I reckon there's somethin' comfortin' about knowin' where I'm-a gonna be buried. Not too many folks c'n say thet." Chester looked at him, then at Parding. "What about yew folks. What're you fixin' to do?"

Kit knew what he meant, and he nodded his understanding. "I don't know if there's much I can do. I don't suppose I could find my way back here, even if I wanted," he lied.

Parding smiled, wistfully. "I suppose there are too many people like those men who grabbed us. I guess this can be our little secret." He tussled his daughter's hair. "Isn't that right, darling?"

"Well then, thet's thet."

Kit smiled at the old man. "Well, good-"

Chester waved his hands dismissively and backed away. "I ain't sentimental like. Jest go if yer going'. I got work to do, an' nursemaidin' yew lot has certainly preoccupied me enuff." But Kit saw the way he wiped his nose, belying his indifference, and he could only watch, with an affectionate twist to his lips, as the old man wandered back into the forest.

Kit quirked his lips thoughtfully and thought of the little girl beside him. Obviously Ilana returned here, some years in the future, to make it her home. What he wondered was: would he ever return himself? He glanced at the dark, impossible forest, so vast and majestic. He supposed if, somewhere among the wild flora, there was a middle aged Ilana Parding, she would know the answer to that. For all he knew, she was even now watching him from the shadows and branches, remembering the albino mountie that had saved her life at two different ages.

Chuckling quietly, and with Kevin at his side, he led Henry and Ilana Parding back to the world that they knew.

The End.


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Secrets of the Forgotten Valley is copyright 2003 by D.K. Latta.  It may not be copied without permission of the author except for purposes of reviews.  (Though you can print it out to read it, natch.)