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A Time to Reflect

 

 

 

                                                      

                 Diego de la Vega                                          Doug Phillips & Tony Newman

 

 

A Zorro/ Time Tunnel Crossover

 

The Setting:  Spanish California, 1820, near the pueblo Los Angeles.  

The complex below the Arizona desert, code-named Red Lion, the home of the Time Tunnel.

The Characters:  Diego de la Vega, a rich young colonial aristocrat, whose secret identity could cost him his life.   

Drs. Doug Phillips and Tony Newman, scientists involved in one of the most secret projects ever developed-- The Time Tunnel.  They are trapped in the capricious whims of a device that has not been fully perfected, jostled in time from one era to another, at times, one step from death. Their only hope is their wits and the dedication of those in the complex who are desperately trying to bring them home.

Diego de la Vega/Zorro, Bernardo, Sgt. Garcia, Tornado, Dr. Avila and Fr. Felipe belong to Zorro Productions/Walt Disney and are used with great gratitude and no expectations of monetary gain.   Tony and Doug, Ann, Ray, Gen. Kirk, Jerry and the Time Tunnel itself belong to Irwin Allen Productions/20th Century Fox and are also gratefully used.  All other characters are my creation.   

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

"TWO AMERICAN SCIENTISTS ARE LOST IN THE SWIRLING MAZE OF PAST AND FUTURE AGES DURING THE FIRST EXPERIMENTS ON AMERICA'S GREATEST AND MOST SECRET PROJECT ‘THE TIME TUNNEL’. TONY NEWMAN AND DOUG PHILLIPS NOW TUMBLE HELPLESSLY TOWARD A NEW FANTASTIC ADVENTURE SOMEWHERE ALONG THE INFINITE CORRIDORS OF TIME...."

 

 

 

The acrid air seemed more electric, more intense, if that was possible, than it had been during the entirety of their way too long day in what they had guessed was an early Jurassic period of time.  Time! the traveler smirked mentally.  The thoughts grew slightly bitter, then he reigned in his emotions.  He had chosen to enter the tunnel; it had been his decision.  Looking over at his friend, still on his feet, but panting heavily next to the stream they had just crossed, the traveler felt a slight stab of guilt that it had not been his partner’s choice.   Doug had followed trying to save his sorry hide from the icy waters of the north Atlantic when the unsinkable Titanic had struck an iceberg.   Now Tony laughed out loud, wiping the sweat that slicked his face and ran into his eyes.   What he wouldn’t give for a dip in those cold waters now. 

Then he sighed, feeling a tingle that seemed to intensify, not in the air, but around and then in his body.  A change was coming.  He could feel it.  Dr. Anthony Newman looked at his partner, Dr. Douglas Philips again, but Doug didn’t seem to notice anything different.  Although he had shed his early twentieth-century tweed jacket and tie and had unbuttoned his shirt, Doug still looked like he had just spent the past two days in a sauna.  If not for the insects, Tony would have shed his dark green turtleneck a long time ago.  He was sure that he looked exactly as miserable as his friend did. 

Tony jerked his head up, listening.  He heard something.  This time it was not just a feeling of impending transfer, but something in the jungle nearby.  Was it those damned carnosaurs?    They had eluded them before when the beasts had come across an injured herbivore, but now it seemed that they were finished with their appetizer and were ready for the main course….  them.   “Doug,” he said softly.   Doug didn’t answer, only stayed slumped over on the boulder he had sat on after they had forded the stream.   His friend was still panting.   “Doug.”   Tony reached over and grabbed Doug’s shoulder.   “I think our friends are on the prowl again.”

Doug looked up wearily, his eyes showing the intensity of his fatigue and something else.  Was he sick?   Doug muttered something unrepeatable and then slowly getting to his feet.  He wavered and Tony held on to his arm to steady him. 

“You okay?”  Worry gripped his insides.  Their last transfer had been from a place that had been equally heinous.  Rome at the time of the Visigoth invasion hadn’t been particularly safe either.  Doug had been slightly injured during a fight against a group of invaders, a cut along his arm.  It was nothing that would have been very worrisome except for the fact that the conditions in Rome as well as here were far from clean.  “Let me look at your arm.” 

“No, not now.  I’m okay, just a bit of dizziness,” Doug responded lethargically.   Tony looked at him dubiously, but Doug just shrugged him off with a comment about needing a full night’s sleep and then he looked in the direction from which they had come.   He gazed at the stream, turned and looked into the forest ahead of them. 

“Do you think we could lose them if we continued down the stream?” Tony asked, figuring out his friend’s thoughts. 

“I doubt it, Tony,” Doug drawled, as though even talking was a drain.  He took a deep breath and then muttered.  “The air is so thick that they could probably pick up our scent that way.”

“I think the tunnel is trying for a transfer, but we can’t just wait around, hoping for Ray and Ann to pick us up before these beasts get here,” Tony said. 

“I know,” Doug replied, then he peered into Tony’s dark eyes.  “How do you know that they’re trying to pull us out of here?”  He stepped back into the warm, turgid water and began sloshing downstream. 

Tony followed.  “Uh, I’ve been kind of feeling vibes before the last few transfers.”

“Vibes?”

“Well, don’t know what to call it, really, but it’s like the tingle you feel during an electric storm,” Tony tried to explain as they slogged along.  His boots quickly filled with water, even though they were still in excellent condition, not much the worse for wear as when he had entered the gaping maw of the Time Tunnel.   Despite their attempts to change and fit into the local times and places, the tunnel always retrieved them in their original clothing, just as it was at the time of the first transfer.  He smiled softly.  At times that was just as well.  He didn’t think that showing up in Victorian England in a Greek toga would make a good impression on the locals.  To be or not to be….  That is the question, Tony thought wryly.  Um, wrong time frame.  It was Shakespeare, but it was set in Denmark.  No togas.  Et tu, Brutus? Er, sorry, madame, just rehearsing.  Could you tell me where the Globe Theater is?  He remembered how unimpressed Joshua, the son of Nun had been with their outlandish clothing.

Tony shook his head, feeling stupid.   Such inattentiveness could be deadly.  He had to bring himself back to the present.   The present? Again that mental, derisive irony.   It seemed harder and harder of late to know just what the present was.   And lately, the transfers had become harder and harder physically as well as mentally, as though the rejuvenation effects on both their apparel and their bodies was harder and harder for the tunnel to maintain.  What the tunnel gave them with each transfer-- exhaustion, exertion, stress and sometimes malnourishment took away. 

“Well, I wish Kirk would hurry up,” Doug muttered and they continued along the stream.  The noise of the vicious carnosaurs was getting closer, they must be getting hungry enough to chase them all out.  

“I know what I want for Christmas,” Tony snapped as his foot slipped on a loose rock, threatening to spill him in the deepening waterway.

“Christmas?  What the hell brought that on?”  Doug staggered and Tony put up his hand to keep his friend from stumbling back into him.

“I don’t know.  Just remember when I thought getting socks for Christmas was a fate almost as bad as getting coal,” Tony replied with a short laugh.  “But now I would kill for a new set of clothes.”  He paused.  “And some hiking boots,” he added. 

“Why limit yourself, Tony?” Doug chuckled.  “Why not wish for a transfer home?”

“Too much to ask for.”  They continued to trudge along.  “You remember when I first went into the tunnel?”

“Yeah,” Doug panted from ahead.

“I wonder how long we’ve actually been away?  What date is it back home?  Seems like we’ve been gone at least eighteen months.  It would be getting close to Christmas again, wouldn’t it?”

“That’s a good one, considering we’ve been going forward, backwards and probably sideways for what seems like eternity,” Doug said, jerking out of the mud that seemed to have taken place of the slippery rocks.  “I couldn’t begin to figure how much real time we’ve spent away from the complex.”  He looked ahead.  “For that matter, which time is real, anyway?  At least from our standpoint.”  He climbed out of the stream and began to walk along it.  The sounds of screaming predators came closer.  “We have to travel along the stream.  I think some of that is quicksand, or something close to it.”

Tony only nodded, wondering why he even thought of Christmas at all.  Christmas was just a time when he thought of the absence of his father.  It had been that way since he had lost his father in Pearl all those years ago.  He had been quite young, seven, but it had been right before Christmas and despite the kindness of his aunt and uncle, the holiday had lost its appeal since that time.  At least now, he knew what had really happened to his father.  He had died a hero.  Tony had been there when he died.  His father had recognized him, even though he was all grown up.  But for all those years before he and Doug had been time-transferred to Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941….

“If they are going to transfer us, I wish they’d do it soon,” Doug puffed, breaking into as much of a run as he could with all the vegetation in their way. 

Tony listened as they ran.  The carnosaurs were getting closer.  He could hear their high-pitched squeals of triumph.  Soon he and Doug would be pulled down and stripped just as that dead herbivore had been.  He reached up and jerked a dead branch from a nearby tree.  The beasts might have their first taste of homo sapiens in a few minutes, but they would have to work for it, he thought grimly. 

A crashing of brush told him that they were about to have company.  Then the ravenous reptiles burst upon them, the foremost creature, brown and amber striped about the size of a young steer, already leaping for his throat.  Tony swung his branch and felt it connect.

 

                @@@@@@@

 

“Ray, you have to get them out of there!” Ann McGregor, her green eyes showing terror at the scene before them, cried.  

“For some reason, I can’t separate the carnosaurs from them!” Ray Swain, an older, balding man blurted, then he muttered under his breath.  “I would have to separate all of the entities from each another.”

“Then do it!” the military man standing next to the command console ordered.  Kirk’s face was lined with the exhaustion of too many days of futile efforts to bring back the two scientists that were presently millions of years in the past.

“General, if I did that those beasts might end up in the middle of nineteenth century New York City!”

“If you don’t, Tony and Doug will be dead!” General Kirk retorted.  “Can’t you split them all up?  At least if you do that those vicious beasts won’t kill them before they complete the transfer.”

“I’ll try to and then do a reverse retrieval on the creatures,” Swain said.   He made adjustments into the computer and then gave the coordinates to Ann, who was watching closely.   “Do it, Ann.”  She nodded and then flipped a couple of switches.  The tunnel flashed its blue and yellow pyrotechnics and the two scientists, millions of years in the past were temporarily lost from view.   A high-pitched whistling and loud series of popping noises indicated that some kind of transfer had taken place.  But to where . . . and when?

 

               @@@@@@@@@@

 

Zorro rode through the dark night, smiling at his latest victory over the hapless sergeant of the guards of the pueblo of Los Angeles.  Not that he enjoyed tricking poor Sergeant Garcia, but the newest comandante, Capitán Juan Luvisto had jailed young Manuel Villegro for disorderly conduct after giving him a severe lashing at the whipping post.  Now the half-conscious man was slumped forward in front of him, but he was free.  Sergeant Garcia had been left holding his pants up with one hand while shouting to the lancers to saddle up and chase after the escaped prisoner.   Zorro had already taken care of that issue, however, having hidden the horses’ bridles where the lancers couldn’t immediately find them.  They might be able to follow bareback, but without bridles for control, the less than stellar mounts would most likely run in any direction they wished. 

Under normal circumstances, a night or two in jail would have probably been just what young Villegro needed.  The peon had definitely been disorderly, having thrown rocks through the open gate of the cuartel and shouting bawdy songs about the new comandante, but Zorro took exception to the added punishment, the dozen lashes that had not been light in their administration.  Added to that was the fact that this was the Christmas season, one in which the caballero firmly believed that mercy was more in order than harshly strict penalties of the law.  Not only that, but Manuel’s father had promised to pay the fine with labor and kind, and there was no finer leather worker in the pueblo than Manuel’s father.  When he was sober, the young man was a hard worker, too, but of late he had been extremely disdainful of the capitán. 

It was no wonder, thought Zorro, since Comandante Luvisto was critical of everything around him.  Only the cruel emissary, Basilio had been more scornful of the California province.  It seemed that there was nothing here in Los Angeles that suited Luvisto, even the fine California wines, the comandante said, couldn’t come close to those from Spain.  Even the vintage from Mexico was to be preferred to that of Los Angeles. 

Zorro wondered why the capitán had even come here.  But he was here and if Luvisto’s disposition couldn’t be tempered, he would ruin the holiday spirit of more than one person in the pueblo.  It was the near the time of the Christmas celebrations.  The first of the posadas would be in four days and Zorro hoped that what had happened today would not dampen the festivities.

The masked man held the ex-prisoner closer to his body as they rode through a rocky arroyo and Zorro shook his head at the sticky wetness that soaked through his shirt.  He only hoped that Bernardo could treat these wounds before infection set in.  Villegro had lay in his cell all day before Zorro was able to affect a rescue.  

As the path became rougher, Zorro ordered Tornado to a walk.  Even though there was no moonlight, and Tornado strode easily along paths that had become familiar with use, the masked man wanted to take no chances with the injured man in front of him.  Manuel moaned softly and raised his hands weakly.  “You are safe, Manuel,” Zorro reassured him. 

“Zorro?” the young man asked weakly.  “I seem to remember you at the cuartel.”

“Yes.”  Zorro felt something that caused the hair on the back of his neck to rise.  Something was out there.  A high-pitched squall, unlike anything he had ever heard before pierced the dark night and Tornado stopped short, snorting in fear.  “Easy, my friend,” Zorro murmured, but he, too, felt that slight nudging of fear that sent the adrenalin pumping through his body.   The squalling was closer, and was punctuated by a hissing and scrabbling sound as something came over the rocks at the top of the arroyo toward him. 

“Tornado!  Run!”  If it was a mountain cat, he would be able to outrun it, but if he stopped to face it here in the near pitch darkness of the small canyon, there would be little he could do to save any of them. 

The black stallion shot forward, his hooves digging into the hard packed soil of the trail.  He didn’t stop as something that smelled dank and musky flew past his shoulder.  Zorro felt a claw tear through his cape and he urged Tornado to even greater speed.  Soon the path led to the other end of the small canyon and they were in the open.  The creature behind them made a hissing cry and Tornado didn’t need any further urging.  He continued his ground-eating gallop and finally left the beast behind him.  

Zorro couldn’t help but wonder what this creature was; its odor reminded him of a den of snakes, but its speed was more like that of a mountain cat.  Faster, actually, he corrected himself.   Right now, though, he had to take care of the semi-conscious man in front of him.  He sped toward the secret hiding place near his home and was soon standing in the safety of the cave that served as a stable for Tornado and safe haven for himself.  Tornado stood shivering, his hide slick with sweat.  Whatever the creature had been, it wasn’t like anything he had ever encountered before.  Carefully, Zorro dismounted and then slowly lowered Manuel from the horse.  Soft footfalls told him that his mute servant, Bernardo, was behind him. 

He turned and saw Bernardo motioning for him to lay Manuel in a bed of clean straw near the tiny spring next to Tornado’s stall.  With the servant’s help, Zorro did so and Bernardo checked over the young man’s wounds.  “I am going back out.  Something attacked us on the way in and I don’t want to take the chance that it followed us here.” Bernardo motioned his concern.   “I will be careful,” Zorro reassured him, “but this is an animal that seems to be at least as powerful and cunning as a mountain lion.  And much less shy.”  He turned and walked toward the entrance, unsheathing his sword. 

Bernardo followed him and tapped on his shoulder.  He pointed toward Tornado, and then he made a slight sign for Zorro to wait, while he rummaged through a small trunk that held a variety of weapons and other equipment.  He stood up, holding a pistol in one hand and a knife in the other.  Walking back to Zorro, he thrust both weapons in the masked man’s hands. 

“It’s too dark, Bernardo.  I wouldn’t be able to see to shoot anyway.”

Bernardo pointed toward his ears and then made more signs.

“You make a valid point,” Zorro murmured.  “A shot directed toward a sound would definitely be more effective than a small sword thrust in the dark.”  He transferred the sword to his left hand and put the pistol and knife in his sash.  Then he pulled the branches and vines away from the entrance of the cave.   Once he was outside, Zorro stood still, listening intently.  At first he could only hear the sound of a few insects, and then he realized that there was too little of the normal night sounds.  There should be more rustling of small wild creature like the mice and rabbits, frogs and night birds, but there was almost total silence.   He continued listening, waiting; straining his ears.   Finally, when he thought that he might have been imagining danger, Zorro heard the same high-pitched squall that he had heard before and he pulled the pistol from his sash.  He heard the scrabbling of claws on rocks and gravel and turned to the sound, dropping the sword and pulling out the razor sharp knife with his left hand.  A hissing sounded close, then a short noise that was like a crossing of a pig’s squeal and a dog’s bark.  His eyes had adjusted to the darkness and he saw the vague outline of something that stood upright on two powerful hind legs.

Zorro cocked the hammer and pointed the pistol toward the sound.  The indistinct, shadowy creature dropped to all four and started toward him.  Then the beast was lost among the darkness cast by the boulders and brush.   As the noise of claws got closer and closer, Zorro squeezed the trigger.  The ball exploded from the weapon just as a large body slammed him to the ground.  The creature screamed in agony and Zorro stabbed it with the knife, feeling the blade slide into a body covered with rough, scaly hide.  Fetid breath almost made him gag, but he pushed the animal away even as it continued trying to kill him with claws that he didn’t doubt could disembowel him.  Again he stabbed it, but it seemed possessed of an almost demonic fury and didn’t seem to be effected by the weapon.   He scrambled back and jerked loose the cord holding his cape around his shoulders, throwing it over the vicious beast’s head.  With another sharp hiss of anger, it clawed his cape and tore it to shreds.  If he could only see it better!  But he couldn’t.  Zorro could only stab at the noise of its presence and pray that he finally hit a vital spot.

 

 

 

Gen. Kirk, Ann McGregor and Ray Swain

(Whit Bissell, Lee Merriwether and John Zaremba)

 

 

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