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: Escaping from a ravenous Tyrannosaurus Rex, Kit is reunited with the jungle girl claiming to be Ilana Parding. But before he can sift the truth from the lies of her story, they are attacked...
 
 

Episode 7: Lost and Found


FROM OUT OF THE TREES came raining a half-dozen thick, stocky bodies and Kit instantaneously identified them. They were the same type of prehistoric men that had attacked them earlier -- perhaps even the very same, though he couldn't be sure. What was clear was that they had triumphed over their fear that had sent them scattering in terror earlier. And without his red R.C.M.P. jacket that made him look to their primitive eyes as though he was wearing a skin of blood (shredded by a T Rex in our previous chapter ~ the ed.), Kit had only his ghostly white albino features with which to scare them. And that, clearly, was no longer enough.

The first caveman came at him, and Kit sailed into him, both fists flying, blooding a thick, large nose in the process. Then he kicked up into the beast- man's groin. Marquis of Queensbury Rules be damned, he thought. And given that the caveman had the better of him in muscle and, no doubt, primitive savagery, Kit sent him down with ease.

Which, of course, still left five.

Kit's dog Kevin yapped and snarled, lunging at one of their assailants, who yowled fearfully in a way that seemed little reminiscent of a human, and powerful muscles launched him into the lower branches, away from the battle- maddened wolf-dog. Frustrated by a forest full of mammoth beasts that regarded him as either inconsequential, or as lunch, Kevin was revelling in a return to his old power, and immediately wheeled about, leaping for another of the hairy men.

One of the cavemen leaped onto Kit, knocking him back. But as Kit hit the earth, he used the momentum to keep them rolling backward, so that the caveman on top was flipped over and landed heavily upon the ground himself, with Kit straddling his barrel chest. It was the shock of the unexpected move as much as the force of impact that left the primitive dazed and vulnerable to a couple of quick rabbit punches across his jutting jaw. Then Kit was leaping to his feet.

Maybe they would triumph after all. Then he remembered his gun, remembered how the noise of it scattered them before. He reached for it -- just as Ilana screamed.

He turned, seeing her struggling with one of the primitives as he attempted to haul her into the brush. At her feet was another caveman, unconscious. She had clearly given a good accounting of herself. But seeing her struggle was a distraction, one Kit could ill afford.

Something hit him from behind and pain shot forward into his eyes, colours exploded like Chinese fireworks, and Kit slumped forward.

* * *

It was the second time in a couple of days that Kit had been struck from behind. That was the bitter thought that helped drag him up out of the miasma of darkness in which he found himself swimming. Slowly, painfully, he roused himself to consciousness. He groaned and slowly raised himself up onto his hands and knees. Then he sat back on his heels and blinked his eyes open.

He gave a start at the sight that greeted him.

A gnarly little man with a bristly white beard sat across from him, chewing thoughtfully on a corncob pipe. There was a mischievious twinkle in the narrow little eyes squished between wrinkled folds of skin.

"You!" Kit exclaimed.

"I reckon yew figgered not to be seein' me again, huh?"

"You tried to kill me," Kit said, staggering to his feet. "You took a shot at me!" (chapter one, remember? ~ the ed.)

"Now let's not be gettin' yer knickers all in a bunch there," he said, sitting quietly. Kit glanced about and realized they were still in the wreck of the old camp. "Thet was just a misunderstandable-ing, thet's all it was. A plumb shame, I'm shore. Best to jest let them bygoneables be bygoned."

Kit frowned, tempted to pull his gun. But it was true that the old man wasn't making any hostile or threatening moves. Quiet the opposite. It was as if he was being especially careful not to do anything that could be perceived as provocative. Over to one side, Kevin lay, head on his crossed paws, watching them with his eyes, but otherwise unconcerned. Clearly Kevin had decided to forgive and forget.

Kit wasn't quite so sure. "And just how, exactly, does one have a misunderstanding that results in shooting at a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police?"

The old man chuckled. "I was jest lookin' to be protectin' thet nice geolographical fella and his little girl. Some people were lookin' around fer 'em, an' I figgered on checkin' out their cabin, makin' shore they're weren't any more of 'em sidewinders a comin'."

"You know Henry Parding?"

"Why, shore I do. I met 'em shortly after they come to this here little piece o' heaven. Nice fella. Talks yore ear off if'n ya let let 'im, though." He leaned forward, conspiratorially. "Yew might want to watch out fer thet."

"And just who the Devil are you," Kit demanded, deciding first things first.

"Chester P. Greenberg," he said proudly, offering a weather-beaten hand, "formerly of the Arizona part of them thar United States of America. I come up here to Canadar back when they said a man could practically pick the gold offa the streets of Klondike. Yessir."

"But the Klondike gold rush was over thirty years ago."

"You figger?" he asked, then breathed out in appreciation. "Well, shee-oot. Anyhoo, I been a prospectin' these parts ever since. I figger there's a mother lode with my name on it, if'n I just look hard enuff. I stumbled upon this here valley a long time ago, and kind of made it my home. It's a bit wild n' wooly at first, but yew get to like it after a while." Seeing that Kit still regarded him suspiciously, he said, "I done aplogized for shootin' at yew, but I figger I made amends. Once I seen yew was bein' chased by those calhoots, I figured yew was all right. An' yew didn't need my help then. But later, I helped scare offa them there cave men."

"That was you who fired those shots? (chapter five ~ the ed.) Why didn't you answer when I called?"

"Figgered yew might still be carryin' a grudge. Are ya?" he asked pointedly.

Slowly, hesitantingly, Kit took the proffered hand which the old man had never ceased to hold out. The old man shook with a firm, wiry grip.

"I'm Kit," Kit said.

"Pleased to be makin' yer acquaintance. If'n yew don't mind me observin', yer lookin' a mite peeked there son. Yew been eatin' all right?"

The albino Mountie chuckled -- then stopped. He looked around, realizing that blow to the head must have scrambled his brains more than he thought. "The girl!"

"What girl?"

"The girl who was with me. She called herself Ilana. Some prehistoric men - - cavemen -- attacked us and stole her.""

"Ilana? The geolographical feller's daughter?"

"No, no. An adult woman, about my age. She claimed to be Parding's daughter, but-"

"Oh, her," said Chester.

Kit turned on him. "You know who she is?"

"Why, shore. Told ya, didn't I? I bin here a mighty long while. Gets so yew know yer neighbours. Pretty thing, too." He rose easily for a man that looked so wizened and decrepit. "Can't be anything good if those low-browed heathens have snatched her. The way she tells me, they kinda been after her for a while. Somethin' about her blonde hair and some sort o' nutty sacrifice. Reckon we oughta go an' do somethin'."

Kit went to an area of the camp that had been torn up by the recent altercation, and he grabbed up a handful of dirt and grass. Then he went to Kevin, who rose to all fours eagerly, clearly sensing action was aborning. Kit held the handful of dirt before Kevin's nose, letting him smell the scent of the cavemen. "Find," he said.

Barking eagerly, Kevin wheeled about and shot off into the forest.

As Kit and the old man followed behind the tracking wolf-dog, in his mind Kit chewed over recent events. He really wasn't sure if this was the proper course of action. After all, he still had yet to make any contact with Henry Parding who was, after all, the reason he had come here. Granted, he had no reason to assume Parding and his daughter were in any immediate danger, whereas the other woman most certainly was. But her dishonesty, her secretiveness, made him question whether she was really an innocent in all of this.

As they raced out into a clearing, Kit said, "Who is she? What's her name?"

"Who?"

"The woman."

"I thought yew said she told ya."

"She told me her name was Ilana."

"Right. Thet's what she told me."

"But that's a lie. Parding's seven year old daughter is Ilana."

"Ain't yew never heard o' two people with the same name? Don't yew have kings and queens in Canadar or some such nonsensical thing? Richard the number four n' five an' the like?"

"She said she was Ilana Parding," Kit insisted, beginning to sense the old man was being intentionally obtuse. Perhaps he had been too quick to accept his offer of friendship. Did he know more than what he was telling? Suddenly Kit espied something standing out sharply in the field, limned by moonlight. Something that was both man made, and clearly not something to be erected by primitive cavemen.

It was a small cross.

"What's that?" Kit said, angling toward it. He raced up to it, and saw that his initial suspicions were confirmed. It was a little wooden cross at the head of a mound of earth. It was a grave. Kit's throat caught. Was it Parding? Had he already been murdered, and was Chester here involved in trying to cover it up. Then he knelt and, by the moonlight, studied the inscription carved into the cross. Slowly, his pale features blanched even more as the significance of the words slowly penetrated his brain.

The old man, panting hard, came up beside him. "What is it? What'd ya find? Whose is it?" Then he stopped, seeing the words himself.

The name on the grave marker was Chester P. Greenberg -- his own.

Kit whirled, staring in horror, thinking of how the old man just seemed to come and go like a will of the whisp. "What the hell's going on here? Who are you? Are you -- are you a ghost?"

Chester stared at him blankly for a moment, then slowly raised his bony arms. "Ooooh," he groaned. Then he started chuckling, clutching at his belly and doubling over. After a few moments, his attack of merriment waned. Wiping tears from his eyes he straightened and said, "'Course I'm no ghostly boogety man, yew dumb dumb. Shee-oot. If'n I was, I wouldn't be breathin' so hard, would I?"

"Then who's buried here?" Kit demanded.

"Why, I reckon it must be me -- least ways, that's what the sign says." He said this matter-of-factly, then pursed his lips, realizing that Kit was still bewildered. "Haven't yew gone done figgered it out? Don't yew know why this is called the Valley of the Many Moons?"

Kit stared, realizing he hadn't given it much thought. "Because -- because there are prehistoric creatures here, that lived many moons ago, as the Indians used to measure time."

Chester sighed. "Dagnabit son, jest look up."

Kit hesitated, unsure if this was a trick. Tilting his head so that he could still watch the old man out of the bottom of his eye, he looked up.

"What do you see?"

"The moon."

"Right." Chester pointed to another area of the sky. "An' what's thet?"

Kit followed where he pointed, and stared. There, in the sky, was a second moon. Slowly, he looked around, taking full advantage of the clearing, with no trees covering any portions of the sky. There was another moon, and another. And another.

The sky was full of moons...


Back to Episode 6: Tyrannosaurus Rex

On to Episode 8: The Mystery of the Many Moons


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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.)