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: Pursued in the Lost Valley, Kit has become separated from the enigmatic jungle girl who claims she is the missing Ilana Parding...though Kit suspects she has been lying to him about that. Now alone, Kit stumbles upon the remnants of the Parding's camp...only to come face to face with the most fearsome predator ever to walk the earth...
 
 

Episode 6: Tyrannosaurus Rex


CORPORAL KIT THUNDER HAD ENCOUNTERED DANGEROUS adversaries while policing the boundless wilds that covered much of the upper portion of the land called Canada. He had encountered poachers and smugglers, murderers and kidnappers, he had encountered wild bears and wolves. And on more than one occasion he had encountered things the like of which men spoke of only in whispers -- if then. Northern Canada was a vast wilderness of secrets and mysteries that even the Indians and Eskimeux who called it home knew only a fraction of. It was an ancient land.

But he certainly never expected to face what he was now facing -- not in the 1930s.

Looming over him, occluding the very light of the moon with its gargantuan dimensions was a creature -- not out of myth -- but out of history. Pre- history to be precise.

Huge taloned feet rose up into powerful hind legs that hefted a massive body that, incongruously, narrowed as it rose, with everything diminishing into tiny forelimbs and a narrow chest, before blossoming out again into the kind of raison d'etre of the beast: its huge head and jutting snout and savage jaws from which bristled teeth big as any knife. The creature snorted, and the hot, foul smelling breath of a predator washed over Kit.

But he held his ground, staring up at the Tyrannosaurus Rex -- the aptly titled king of the terrible lizards, if he recalled his Latin schooling. It was the predator's predator, before which all subsequent fearsome beasts that had risen and fallen over the eons seemed to pale and diminish in comparison.

And Kit and his wolf-dog, Kevin, faced it with only his Enfield service revolver and Kevin's puny canines with which to beard it.

At least he seemed to have a plausible explanation for what had ravaged the missing geologist's camp -- though the absence of blood meant he was still fairly certain that the geologist and his daughter had escaped unharmed from the encounter. And if a geologist and a seven year old could do so, could not a member of the world reputed Royal Canadian Mounted Police (and his dog)? Kit certainly hoped so. The fact that the T-Rex had not yet struck was, in itself, a promising sign. But a sign of what? Was the beast not hungry, or did it betoken something else?

The huge terror cocked its massive head, as though trying to angle one of its piggy eyes at him. Was its vision poor? Kit wondered hopefully. He took a step to the side...and froze. The dinosaur's head followed him, as though keyed to respond to movement. And yet Kevin, who was barking and snarling at the great beast, leaping back and forth, and was largely ignored. Kit took another step, this time backward, and again the tiny eyes seemed to track the movement. So why was Kevin ignored, and he locked in the creature's sights?

Then he looked down at the bright red serge jacket he wore. Was that it? Was the creature's weak vision picking up on the bright colour -- the violent red that, perhaps, seemed to imply fresh blood? So, was Kit wearing the absolute worst colour he could possibly be wearing? If so, why had the beast not struck already? Unless... Kit considered. Unless it was because its eyes registered blood, but its nose did not. It was confused. But if so, the confusion wouldn't last. Even if it could not smell blood, it could smell flesh -- his.

Slowly, ever so slowly, Kit began to unbutton his uniform jacket. The T-Rex cocked its head again, rearing slightly back as though coming to a decision. Kit had only seconds. He fumbled awkwardly with the fastenings, tearing the buttons loose, and then tried sliding out of his jacket with a minimum of fuss, making sure the dinosaur always had a clear view of the garment, had it locked in its predatorial sights.

Then the T-Rex roared a deafening, nerve shattering scream, its decision reached. Simultaneously, Kit flung his jacket away from him, through the air, as though a creature in flight mode. Even Kit was stunned by the speed of the prehistoric beast as the massive body sprang forward and those huge, savage teeth clapped effortlessly about the empty jacket in mid-air. The creature reared back and shook its head back and forth, the massive teeth shredding his uniform in an instant. In a moment or two, the tiny brain would register the lack of substance, would recognize that the flesh it smelled was not in the blood-red sheath.

"C'mon, Kevin," Kit hissed, taking advantage of that moment or two. He raced past the huge clawed toes for the relative sanctuary of the brush. Kevin hesitated, still unconvinced that the giant wingless bird-thing had shown proper obeisance to him, wolf-dog, king of the forest. But seeing his fleeing master, he elected to allow such proprieties to slide, for the nonce. He leaped after Kit just as massive jaws snapped down, sundering air where, a moment before, dog had been. Yelping, Kevin barreled past his master as the two hurled themselves into the forest.

The tyrant king roared in frustration, the blast of air from its massive lungs, the very shockwave of the sound, literally shook leaves and even the smaller saplings. Kit glanced over his shoulder as trees cracked and flew aside as the great beast pursued them, wrenching its great body through the nocturnal forest. They had the advantage of smaller size, allowing them to slip between trees and branches with relative ease. But seeing the way the huge creature just barreled through, trampling anything in its way, it seemed as though the dense forest would provide little in the way of a hinderance for it.

Kit knew they were in trouble.

"Come on, boy," he said, and he turned and jumped into some deeper brush. The T-Rex, bellowing and trumpeting its rage, thundered along, the earth shaking with each massive, pounding step. Kit threw an arm over Kevin and watched as the T-Rex barreled past, its very momentum carrying it beyond them. Then it pulled up short and whirled about. This was the test, Kit realized. The moment when he learned whether he had gauged the creature's abilities correctly.

The massive head perched on the gargantuan triangle of predatorial muscle made little circles as the T-Rex peered into the brush where Kit and his dog had disappeared. They stared up at the dinosaur, seeing it clearly, but it was obviously having more difficulty. The beast seemed designed to lock onto obvious things -- such as his bright red jacket, or movement. Lying still on the ground, beneath a web of branches, Kit and Kevin had affected a kind of camouflage. Which stood to reason, Kit supposed. A big monster like the T-Rex presumably fed on other big monsters -- like that Triceratops he had encountered earlier. It didn't exactly need keen eyes to spot one of those.

The massive head swung above them, momentarily blinking out the moonlight, as the T-Rex scanned the thick, overgrown brush for them. It reared up and screamed again, its roar almost deafening, as though someone had slammed his fists into Kit's eardrums. He could feel Kevin, beneath the dog's thick fur, trembling at his side.

Then, with a snort of what could almost be interpreted as disgust, the Tyrannosaurus Rex wheeled about and lumbered away, the earth still shuddering under its footsteps, trees bending aside as it passed.

Slowly Kit rose to his haunches and he looked at his hands -- they were icy white, which was natural given that he was an albino, but they also trembled violently. He sucked in a few deep, even breaths of air, attempting to steady his nerves, to master his fear. Kevin, his heart racing faster than any human's, whimpered quietly and licked Kit's fingers affectionately. "It's okay, boy," Kit said, his voice cracking. "It's gone." He exhaled one final time, then rose to his feet. "Enough shillishallying," he said, trying to affect a firmness to his tone. "We've had a little excitement, sure. But let's not forget why we're here."

As Kit made his way back through the dense forest to the wreck of the geologist's camp, he was once more struck by how alone he felt. It was a strange feeling. After all, he was accustomed to trekking through the woods, alone, sometimes for weeks. And he knew he wasn't alone. After all, as vast as the valley seemed, it was only a valley, with clear demarcations marked by stout cliffs. And he knew there were other people about -- Henry Parding and his seven year old daughter, the young woman who claimed to be Parding's daughter, and a party of armed men. But somehow he felt completely cut off from them. People had a tendency to disappear fully into this dense forest, as though they had never been. Like Parding, Kit mused as he and Kit stopped at the perimeter of the man's camp.

He stopped, and stared. "Well, I'm not sure I expected to see you again," he said matter-of-factly.

In the middle of the camp stood the unearthly vision of the beautiful young woman who called herself Ilana Parding, still dressed scantily in her skin garments. "You told me to run -- so I ran. I've had the devil of the time finding you. Luckily you seemed to have riled that T-Rex, and he made enough racket to wake the dead, or I might have been wandering aimlessly still."

Kit gave a short, slightly hysterical chuckle. "Yeah. Lucky."

"Well, this is our camp. Or was. But they're not here now."

"They're?"

She looked at him. "Pardon?"

"You said: 'they're not here'. Don't you mean: 'he's not here'?" Kit said levelly. "After all, you said you were Ilana Parding, and you are here. So the only Parding unaccounted for is your father -- at least, according to what you've told me."

She stared at him for the longest time, an almost ethereal vision in the moonlight, the soft glow playing off her tawny skin. "It's complicated," she said at last. "I haven't been entirely forthcoming."

"That I've known almost from the moment I met you. Why don't you tell me who you are, and what you know about Henry Parding, his daughter -- his real daughter -- and those men who were chasing you."

She frowned. "Oh, I thought you might have figured it out by now. But I guess it is pretty, well, complicated," she repeated, as if finding comfort in the banal word.

It was then that the cavemen struck again...


Back to Episode 5: Men Who Are Not Men

On to Episode 7: Lost and Found


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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.)