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: Kit has encountered a young woman who claims to be Ilana Parding -- one of the people he is looking for. But Kit knows she's lying, because the real Ilana is only 7 years old. But what this Ilana's game is, he doesn't know. Fleeing with her through this mysterious valley, Kit has fought off armed thugs, and come face to face with a prehistoric dinosaur. Then the two find themselves being stalked by man-like shadows in the trees...
 
 

Episode 5: Men Who Are Not Men


THE WOMAN, DRESSED SCANDALOUSLY in a loin cloth and fur bra, stumbled just ahead of him. Kit caught her before she hit the sward, and the two of them kept running across the clearing. At their back, the clearing abruptly abutted on the dense, interwoven wall of the forest -- a forest from out of which they had just come sprinting. In the trees, someone -- or something -- had been pursuing them. And whatever or whoever it was, it had frightened the girl who called herself Ilana Parding (though Kit knew she was not).

Kevin, his wolf-dog racing at his side, started barking and Kit looked over his shoulder just as a spear came flying at him. Lurching into Ilana, knocking her clear of the deadly missile, Kit watched as it shot past them.

Kit stared, bewildered. Who used a spear in 1930s Canada? he wondered. Come to think of it, he wasn't even sure if spears even had a historical connection to this part of the world. He supposed the Eskimaux used harpoons, and he wasn't exactly an expert on Indian weapons pre-firearms anyway. But it still seemed...odd. Then he thought, running around with a half-naked woman through a sultry forest when it was the heart of winter outside this valley, while pre-historic dinosaurs roamed the night -- that was all pretty odd too. Spears were downright prosaic when he thought about it.

Another spear bit deep into the earth just a few feet from him.

Sparing another glance over his shoulder, he saw figures emerging from the wall of verdant forest into the wan light of the moon-swept clearing. He frowned. Stocky and bow-legged, they appeared to be dressed in nothing but crude rags about their loins -- not even the elaborately stitched and fitted buckskins that the forefathers of the local Indians might have worn. Then he caught his breath as the party of four -- no five -- loped after them in an easy, ground consuming gait. Out in the pale light of the moon, he could make them out more clearly. He could make out their matted, dirty hair. More, he could make out their thick, sloping brows, their large noses, their thick, jutting jaws. He had seen pictures of something like them in a magazine periodical once.

They weren't men. They were something that preceded men if the evolutionists were to be believed (though Kit had met a few travelling Bible- thumpers who would object to that theory). They were cro-magnon men, or Neanderthal, or something. More popularly, they were pre-historic cavemen.

"This is insane," Kit mumbled. Even he had some vague knowledge that cavemen and dinosaurs had never existed simultaneously. Though he supposed in this time lost valley, anything was possible.

"They're gaining," said Ilana.

Kit glanced at her, coming to a decision. She had been lying to him, he knew that, but he still wasn't sure what she had done, or how deep she was into whatever was going on. And she was clearly in danger. And as a police officer, he had a duty to serve and to protect. He shoved her on. "Go! Make for the next woods." He stopped and with stalwart Kevin at his side, he turned to face the on-coming cavemen.

They were heavier than he, though shorter -- not one of them reaching past his nose. But he had little doubt that any one of them was stronger than he. Still, he and Kevin stood their ground.

As the cavemen loped forward, they slowed, as though uncertain. They looked at each other, grunting incoherently, spears hefted but kept at their shoulders. It was as if they were frightened of him, Kit thought, incredulously. He was scared out of his wits: they out numbered him, out muscled him -- and yet they were scared? Then it dawned on him. In the dark forest, they probably had not got a good look at him. Here, in the vague light, his ghostly pale albino features, and his ruby eyes, must make him seem an unearthly sight to these primitive beings. Added to that was his red serge R.C.M.P. jacket which, when viewed through the perspective of creatures that knew nothing of fabric dyes, must make it look almost as though he wore a coat of blood. Kevin, too, must have seemed odd to beings that may not have yet begun to domesticate animals. What was this strange skull-faced, blood drenched figure who could command the loyalty of the beasts of the jungle? they must be asking themselves, Kit thought.

He raised his arms and the cavemen stepped back in start, spear arms cocking at their shoulders. Then Kit said: "Brrraaaah-ha-ha!"

Two of the primitives just bolted and ran without a word, their bow-legs propelling them rapidly back toward the safety of the forest's trees.

"Booga! Booga!" he said, thumbs in his ears, waving his hands at them.

Two more ran. This left only the fifth. But he clearly was not as easily frightened. Slowly, through his small, pre-human brain, he was working through the puzzle and was, no doubt, beginning to conclude that there was something less than supernatural about the white-faced man in red. But it was a slow, arduous calculation, as brain cells more used to deciding which berries were edible attempted to puzzle out the nature of his opponent.

Kit did the only thing he could. While the caveman struggled with his dilemma, Kit leaped forward and drove his fist into the caveman's jaw. It felt like hitting the side of a log house, but the blow was sure enough, and swift enough, that it sent the primitive reeling. Kit followed it up with a couple of body blows, and an uppercut. For a moment the caveman stared at him dumbly. Then he pitched back, landing stretched out on the clearing floor.

Kit was pleased to see he hadn't lost his touch since coming in third at the R.C.M.P. Academy's national boxing championship.

Suddenly, Kevin started snarling and Kit glanced at him, seeing his head hunched, his fur bristling. Kit looked up and saw the frightened cavemen re- emerging from the woods. They were still cautious, moving in mincing steps, but they were returning. Clearly they had seen him strike their compatriot, which left them equally confused. On one hand, he had felled him using techniques -- boxing -- that was about ten thousand years ahead of them. Just with his little fists, he had k-o'd a being who had the better of him by muscle poundage. That kept them nervous. But ghost and spirits didn't generally get into brawls, either. That emboldened them.

Kit stared, steely eyed. It was surprise and speed that had allowed him to best the one caveman. Against four opponents, the gentlemanly art would prove highly inadequate. But they were still scared. It would only take a little thing to send them running. But what? Another funny face? Another barrage of absurd sounds? He did not think so.

"Well, Kevin," he said out of the corner of his mouth, "it looks like we're sunk."

It would take a miracle. Something unexpected. Something startling.

The crack of a gunshot did the trick. In the stillness of the night it echoed like thunder under a cloudless sky. Kit almost ducked, but as the second shot reverberated, he realized no one was actually firing at him. In fact, the shooter didn't seem to be firing at anyone. And then Kit knew why. He could have kicked himself for having forgotten his own gun. Pulling it forth, he fired into the air, unwilling to shoot at creatures he so clearly out-gunned. But like the unseen rifleman in the woods had already realized, he didn't have to shoot anyone. The noise, the booming, thunderous noise, was enough.

The cavemen bolted again, this time a couple even dropping their spears. In seconds they had vanished back into the black embrace of the forest. And Kit suspected they would not be back. Not for a while.

Then he whirled, gun at the ready. Who had fired anyway? He tensed, ready for the shooter to draw a bead on him. But there was nothing, no follow up gun fire. He obviously was not the target. Indeed, the unseen shooter had clearly acted to save Kit's life. But who was it, then? Surely not those men who had been pursuing the false Ilana Parding? They had been trying to kill him themselves not so very long ago. But who was there left who had access to modern firearms in this lost valley?

"Professor Parding?" Kit called, his voice seeming to echo off the boles of the surrounding trees. "Henry Parding?!" he insisted, thinking it might be the very man he had come in search of. He looked around, squinting, trying to make out something in the encircling black mass that was this eerie forest. "I'm Corporal Thunder, R.C.M.P.! Please identify yourself! Professor Harding, is that you?!?"

But there was only silence. Absolute, smothering silence that seemed to fill in around him, like water filling a hollow on the shore. Even Kevin seemed to find the silence oppressive and made a soft whimpering sound as he pressed against Kit's leg.

Turning, Kit looked around for the woman calling herself Ilana. But she was gone.

They were now, utterly, alone.

***

With Kevin at his side, Kit made his way through the dark and still forest. Hopefully it would be dawn soon, he thought, which would make travelling a little easier. At least, he hoped it would. Though there was no telling what dangers and ferocious predators might accompany the coming of the sun.

He considered the possibility of making his way back to civilization and bringing reinforcements. Clearly this assignement was turning into something a little beyond his reckoning. But he vetoed that for a number of reasons. One, he wasn't at all sure he could find this valley again -- after all, as big and impressive as it was, it had not remained a myth, a "lost" valley, because it was easy to find. Nor was he sure if his superiors would believe him. He had had his share of bizarre adventures, and had seen the looks in his superiors' eyes when he filed his reports. But, finally, it just wasn't the way of the Mountie. He had been sent out on a mission, and he would complete that mission. In the vast wilderness of northern Canada, if a Mountie turned back to go for help every time the going got tough, nothing would be accomplished. The journey back to the nearest detachment would take days, just in and of itself.

No, he would find Henry Parding and his daughter, his real daughter, one way or the other.

As if acting on some cosmic cue, Kit stepped from the forest into a small clearing and espied the remains of a camp. Not a primitive camp, but one with a tent and other accoutrements of decidedly modern origins. He fell back on his heels, gun leaping to hand.

After a moment, he realized the camp was empty. In fact, it looked deserted. He realized the tent had been ravaged, as though by some wild beast, and tin pots had been scattered about. Holstering his Enfield revolver, he started rummaging about, looking for signs of what had transpired, dreading what he would find. After a moment, he heaved a sigh of some relief. He had yet to find any blood, which implied whatever beasts had scavenged this place, did so after the human inhabitants had left.

But what humans? Who? Parding...or his pursuers? Or the mysterious shooter who had saved his life? Or the false Ilana? For such a "lost" valley, he mused, there seemed to be an awful lot of people running about it.

Then he crouched down and lifted a small rag doll into the silver light. Parding, then, Kit decided, and the doll belonged to his seven year old daughter.

He dropped the doll and rose to his feet. But where were they? What happened here?

A gust of wind buffeted his back, and for a moment he thought a storm might be kicking up. But the wind was oddly fetid, smelling of rot and decay. And it came in curiously regular gusts. Kevin whirled about and his back arched and he bared his fangs ferociously, snarling warningly. Slowly Kit turned.

He looked up. He looked way up.

He did not need the woman who called herself Ilana to provide the nomenclature for the thing that was looming over him. Even he knew a Tyrannosaurus Rex when he saw one...


Back to Episode 4: Danger from the Treetops

On to Episode 6: Tyrannosaurus Rex


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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.)