A Time to Reflect
Zorro stood up in his seat, as the space inside
the carriage was much too restrictive.
The weird sound came again from ahead of him and Tornado and the
mule pranced and snorted, but to the stallion’s credit, he didn’t
run away. Zorro’s hand
touched something. A
pistol. Bernardo had left a
pistol, just in case. Zorro picked it up and jumped from the carriage.
His eyes studied the pre-dawn dimness of the road ahead, and he
was barely able to see the form of a lizard-like animal about the size
of steer standing on its hind legs as though studying its surroundings.
It was silent as well as still for only a moment and then it
burst into action. Not
toward him but toward the mission fields.
It was soon out of sight, but Zorro could hear its cry as it
found its prey. A
high-pitched squeal and then the cry of a stricken calf sounded in his
Sitting back down in the carriage, Zorro struck
the reins to the hindquarters of the nervous mule and raced toward the
Mission entrance. The
strange creature would be busy with its kill and Zorro could get Manuel
into the Mission and Tornado and the mule to safety in the stables.
Just as he pulled in front of the Mission, the great door opened
and Father Felipe, his face wreathed with the bright light of a lantern,
appeared. A neophyte,
Pedro, stood behind his shoulder.
“Zorro!” the priest cried.
“I have a wounded man and you have a very
dangerous and strange predator,” Zorro said quickly, cutting off
anything else the priest might have been about to say.
Father Felipe nodded, handed his lantern to Pedro, and came over
to Zorro to help care for Manuel.
“Father, if you and Pedro can take Manuel, I will get the
horses to safety.”
“Yes, Señor Zorro, do that quickly and then
you must come in and tell me about this strange animal that dares to
kill so close to habitation and can awaken those deeply asleep with the
strength of its cry,” Father Felipe said, taking Manuel Villegro in
his arms and carrying him into the Mission.
Zorro quickly settled the animals into the
stable, listening for the sound of the large lizard.
After the rest of the cattle had stampeded away from the scene of
the killing, there had been nothing, no sounds, no indication that
anything was out of the ordinary. However,
Zorro didn’t let down his guard until he had barred the heavy wooden
gate of the stable behind him and he was inside the sanctuary of the
Mission. He found Father
Felipe in the infirmary tending to Manuel.
“You have taken very good care of young
Villegro, Zorro,” Father Felipe said.
“I have little else to do, except make him comfortable.”
He turned to the outlaw. “Did
you give him a sleeping draft?”
“Yes,” Zorro said with a slight smile.
“It made it much easier to care for him as well as to bring him
The priest nodded.
“Now about this creature.
Several of my neophytes wanted to go out and fight it, but at
this hour and as vicious and strange as it sounded, I felt it better to
let the beast have its meal in peace this time.
We will examine the area when there is more light.”
“That is wise,” Zorro replied. “I was attacked by one while I was rescuing Manuel.”
He paused and gazed directly into the cleric’s eyes.
“I considered myself very lucky to be alive after I had
“Then you killed one of these beasts?”
“Yes, with a great deal of difficulty,”
Zorro said tersely. He
pulled out a piece of paper where he had jotted down some of the
measurements of the dead animal. Included
was a quick sketch he had made. It
had much less detail than his initial drawing, but it still showed the
features of the giant lizard. “Here
is what it looked like. And
from what I saw this morning, it’s very fast, and not the least bit
afraid of man.”
Father Felipe held the paper closer to the
lantern and read aloud some of Zorro’s notes.
“Four and a half feet tall and almost six feet from the tip of
its snout to the end of its tail. Head
like a lizard with sharp canine teeth, horny crest on its head.
Three large claws on each foot with a sharp and pointed dew claw
on its front feet.” He
looked up at Zorro. “What
kind of animal is this? I
have never heard of such a creature before.
Where did it come from?”
There was a slight stirring from another bed and
Zorro whipped around. A
voice accompanied the noise. “From
the Jurassic period,” the voice said sleepily in stilted Spanish, as
though it wasn’t his native language.
“Jurassic?” Zorro and Father Felipe said
together. With the
lantern in his hand, the priest walked quickly to the side of another
bed and sat down in a chair near the speaker, Father Felipe’s other
patient. Zorro hadn’t
paid attention to the other occupant of the infirmary when he came in.
“How are you feeling?” Father Felipe asked.
“Tired,” the stranger said.
He looked around. Even
in his illness, there was curiosity in his eyes.
“You have a fever.
It seems to have gone down a bit, though,” the priest told him
after laying his hand on the sick man’s forehead.
“You had a wound that had become infected.” The stranger sighed but said nothing. “What is your name?”
“Doug,” he said and then seemed to realize
for the first time to whom he was speaking.
“You are a priest?”
Father Felipe nodded.
“Where am I, Father?” Doug asked.
Then he began speaking to himself, as though taking inventory of
his surroundings. His
eyes roved around the room, but he didn’t notice Zorro standing in the
shadows of the lightening room. “Spanish.
The clothes. Room.
Early nineteenth century. Spanish
“My son, you are in the Mission San Gabriel.
Near the pueblo.”
The man’s brow furrowed and he closed his
eyes. After a moment, Zorro
began to think Doug had fallen asleep.
Then the dark eyes opened again.
“I am sorry. I . .
. I am not trying to be rude.
My name is Dr. Douglas Phillips.”
“Doctor?” Father Felipe asked.
“A scientist, not a medical doctor,” Doug
answered. He continued to
scan his surroundings. “Mission
San Gabriel? That’s near
Los Angeles, right?”
“Yes, Doctor,” the priest answered.
“You are Americano?”
“Just Doug, please, Padre.
And yes, I am an American.”
“What did you mean by Jurassic?” Zorro
interjected, thinking that this man knew something about those lizard
Doug started, as though he was being reminded of
something he had done wrong. And
indeed he had done, he thought sluggishly.
He had given more information in this time frame than the people
were able to understand and while that seemed to have no other effect
than to make their sojourns into the various time frames more difficult
at times, he still didn’t like to divulge too much.
Doug had learned long ago that very little that
he or Tony did or tried to do seemed to alter the fabric of time.
In fact, he had begun to wonder if he and his partner were
actually part of that fabric; that what they did in the past was what
was supposed to happen to make the timelines flow toward the conclusions
that he knew in his time. There
was a slight pounding behind his eyes and Doug dropped that line of
thought. It was too
confusing to deal with in his present condition. He was just too tired.
He closed his eyes a moment and considered just staying that way;
sleeping as he really wanted to do.
But then he took a deep breath.
He had begun this thread; he needed to give them a bit more
information. Then perhaps
he could sleep. Remotely,
he wondered why Tony wasn’t fielding these questions. “The Jurassic is a period of time. A long time ago. Before
men came along.” Even
though he had a basic understanding of the Spanish language, he was
still glad of the language program chip that had been inserted behind
his ear by alien invaders during one of their transfers.
“God created men,” Father Felipe corrected
Doug with a slight frown. “He
created all the creatures we know of.”
“I really do not want to get into an argument
over religion and science, Father, but we really don’t know how long
the creative periods were—how long a day is for God as opposed to us. Nor do we know if there were creations that disappeared
before records were kept. The creatures you were talking about came from
the past.” He
remembered that someone other than the priest had asked the last
question, and he peered into the shadows where Zorro stood quietly.
When he was finally able to make out the masked man, he gasped.
“Zorro? You are
Zorro smiled and stepped forward into the light
of the lantern. The sun was
beginning to show outside the window and soon the lantern would be
would hope so.”
“No, you do not understand.
Uh, the stories . . . you are a myth.”
Doug stopped, confused. There
were many things that he had thought myth or legend that had turned out
to be real during this time he had spent traveling.
He smiled weakly. “But
I guess you are not.”
Zorro nodded, puzzled as to where this foreigner
could have heard about him. “I
am no myth. Where did
you hear of me?”
Doug was about to tell of the stories he had
read as a youth, the comics, the books and movies, but stopped himself.
He didn’t know just how long this man had been acting as the
masked seeker of justice. In
fact, he couldn’t know if everything of the legends of his childhood
were factual or if there was a little fact and a great deal more
fiction. For all he knew
this man in front of him could be an actual bandit.
But if that were so, then why would the priest be so comfortable
standing in the same room with the masked man.
The pounding in his head precluded more investigative thought.
“Someone told me about you, but I thought they had to be making
it up,” he finally said. He
felt so tired. Closing his
eyes, Doug began to drift off to sleep, then he remembered something.
He had wondered where Tony was and realized that he had not heard
his friend’s voice, nor had he seen him.
Could one of the creatures….?
No, it was not even a thought that he could finish.
“Tony?” Father Felipe asked.
“My partner!” Doug said, trying to sit
upright. “Where is
“You were discovered by my neophytes in the
cornfield just before dark and brought to me,” Father Felipe said. “There was no one else with you.
You appeared to have walked from the hills, but from which
direction I cannot guess.”
“But we always travel together,” Doug
protested. “Are you
The priest nodded.
“Your friend would have been brought to the Mission had he been
Doug was puzzled.
After the first transfer, they had always been sent through time
together. They were
temporally tied together, or at least that’s what Ray had told him
during one of their voice-to-voice communications.
Of course, there had been slight separations.
Several hundred feet to a quarter mile.
Maybe Tony had been transferred someplace close.
But if some of the carnosaurs had come with them, Tony could
be…. Again, he
didn’t want to even think about the possibilities.
“What are those creatures?” Zorro asked.
“You seem to know about them.”
“They are a species of dinosaur,” Doug said
cautiously, not wanting to say more than he had to.
Dinosaur bones and fossils had been found, but the science of
paleontology had not really begun until later. “Dinosaur means….”
“Terrible or fierce lizard,” Father Felipe
answered. “It is Greek. I am familiar with Greek,” he added with a wry smile.
“Although to your credit, many of my fellow Franciscans are
“Yes,” Doug replied, still feeling slightly
Zorro was startled.
He had concluded that these animals were somehow related to
lizards, but had no idea of the correctness of his conclusion. And terrible was an apt description. “How did they get here?” he asked. He noticed Doug’s reticence to answer and wondered what
other secrets this man held besides his knowledge of a strange and
“Too complicated,” Doug said tiredly.
“Now that it’s light, I will look for your
friend,” Zorro said, but there were other things he needed to know and
if this man, ill though he was, could supply the answers, he had to ask. “Do you know how many of these creatures there
are?” he asked. “How
did they get here?” he repeated.
Doug looked reticent, unable or unwilling to divulge anything.
“I think that if there is danger to the people
here, we need to know all we can in order to protect them,” Father
Felipe said, his voice quiet but determined.
He picked up a bottle of watered down wine and poured it in a mug
next to the bed stand. Then
he held it to Doug’s lips and let him drink some of it.
As the sick man swallowed, he added, his voice softly urgent,
“Please, help us. I heard
the death screams of one of the cattle less than an hour ago.
I do not wish to hear screams from one of the people here.”
Doug pushed away the mug and nodded.
“I understand your fear,” he said.
“I just have no idea how to tell you what you want to know.”
“Just tell us,” Zorro coaxed, wondering what
could be so difficult, so mysterious.
Doug stared at the far wall, now bathed in early
morning light. Another
priest entered the room. He
was younger than Father Felipe, but wore the same gray robes of a
Franciscan. His eyes took in Zorro, nodded to the masked man, but then
turned back to the older priest.
“Father Felipe, it is almost time to ring the
bell for the morning Mass,” the priest said.
“Father Marcos, please lead the Mass for me.
It is important that I attend to our patients,” Father Felipe
said. “And please have
all the worshippers come to the chapel in groups; not alone.”
The priest nodded, not asking anymore, and turned and left.
Father Felipe motioned Zorro to sit down in a nearby chair.
Then he turned back to Doug.
“Please, help us deal with these creatures.” When it came, the response was not in the least what he
“The carnosaurs are from the past. They got here by a tunnel through time,” Doug said softly.
“Just as my friend and I came here.”
He paused to let his bombshell sink in.
For a moment there was total silence, broken only by the peeling
of a large bell nearby.
“A tunnel through time?” Zorro asked,
incredulous. His mind
reeled, wondering how such an impossible thing could happen.
“Tony and I are from the future; probably
about a hundred and fifty or more years in the future.”
Doug motioned for more of the wine.
Father Felipe handed it to him.
Taking a drink, Doug gathered his chaotic thoughts, trying to
explain in a way that these people could understand.
He had no illusions that this Zorro, while probably very clever
and astute, was no ‘superhero’ like those he had enjoyed in the
comic books of his youth. He
was a man, as was the priest.
“It is still experimental and Tony and I have not been able to
return to our place of origin.”
“So you travel from one place to another
through this tunnel?” Zorro asked.
transfer from, not only one place to another, but one time to
another,” Doug explained. “Most
of the time, just Tony and I are transferred, but something must have
gone wrong with the tunnel and some of the carnosaurs came with us.”
He paused to take another drink.
He seemed to be insatiably thirsty.
“I have trouble remembering, but I think there were only a few,
four, I think in real close proximity to us when we left the Jurassic
“I killed one.
There was another outside the Mission this morning,” Zorro
mused. “Which means that
it could be the only one, or there might be another one or two.”
“Could you look for Tony for me?” Doug
asked, his eyes pleading.
“Yes, I will go now,” Zorro said. “I have a very fast horse and will search the area where
you were found and then work my way toward the hills from there.”
“Thank you,” Doug murmured, so tired now
that he literally couldn’t keep his eyes open.
Soon he was asleep, while the two men who had been listening to
the fantastic tale gazed at each other in open wonder.
“I think I had better go,” Zorro finally
said. “I will come back
and check on Manuel and Dr. Phillips later.
If I find his friend, I will bring him here as well.”
“Yes, I worry about this friend of his.
And not just because of the creatures that they inadvertently
brought here. We know how
the comandante feels about foreigners,” Father Felipe concurred.
Zorro started to turn away.
“Please let me leave you with a blessing, my son.
I think with all that has happened, you will need God’s help in
Zorro nodded and kneeled before the priest.