A Time to Reflect
Zorro was amazed at the resiliency of the
creature ahead of him, but wasn’t surprised.
He knew his aim had been true; that the ball had gone through the
lungs and most likely damaged the heart, but there was still enough life
in the animal to cause death to himself.
It was in a death frenzy of sorts, determined to reach its
tormenter before it died. Zorro
had seen it in other animals, but not with the same kid of ferocity as
in these carnosaurs. This was when he hoped that Doug Phillip’s story,
outlandish as it was, was indeed true.
Otherwise, the idea that there might be legions of these things
breeding in the hills was appalling.
It didn’t stop at the sight of Zorro’s
knife. Indeed, it totally
ignored the weapon, charging down on him as though he was some kind of
enraged bull enticed by the prickings of the picador’s lance.
And as a matador did when the bull was upon him, Zorro leaped
nimbly aside at the carnosaur’s approach, jabbing it as it rushed by. With another enraged cry, the creature quickly skidded to a
halt and pivoted around. Just
as quickly, Zorro dashed to a place that would give him best advantage
and waited for the carnosaur’s next charge.
It seemed to be slower this time, but there was
still life in the eyes. Blood
streamed from the wound in its side and trickled from its nose and
mouth. It was only a matter
of time, but Zorro must still be ready, be alert to whatever this beast
could do in the moments it had left.
It was still very, very dangerous.
The carnosaur charged, emitting a squalling roar that echoed
loudly in the cul de sac. Again,
Zorro leapt nimbly aside, having used his cape as a matador would;
fooling the creature into thinking he was larger than he really was.
As the carnosaur rushed by, Zorro stabbed it again, but this time
he wasn’t able to hang on to the knife.
It was jerked out of his hand and left quivering in the side of
the creature. This time it
seemed to feel the foreign and pain-dealing object and thrashed around
at the edge of the pond, biting and clawing at the offending weapon,
spraying water everywhere.
Finally it was able to snap the handle off,
leaving the blade deep in its flesh and that, too, seemed to enrage it.
It jerked around, still biting at its side and Zorro was
temporarily ignored. The
outlaw backed away, letting time deal with the dying animal.
It continued to thrash about near the edge of the pond, sending
water spraying through the air. The pond itself became tinged with pink as the carnosaur
continued to fight its own death, lifeblood flowing from its horrible
Suddenly it stopped, took a great shuddering
breath and looked around, the lidless yellow eyes gazing around. It spotted the man in black and squealed, bringing its
purpose back to killing its tormenter.
This time it charged erratically, tottering a bit as it waded out
of the water. Zorro decided
that the end was near and retreated behind a stand of rocks, climbing up
to the top, out of reach of the giant lizard.
The animal gazed up at him, the eyes baleful, then it coughed and
hissed, staggering. It
turned toward the pond, but before reaching the water, collapsed onto
the ground, its hissing ragged. Finally,
there was one last shuddering breath and then it was still.
Zorro waited a short while and then approached
the carnosaur. There was no
movement when he approached and he was assured that it was dead. He judged the animal to be a little larger than the other
one, but whether smaller or larger, Zorro hoped that this was the last.
What had Señor Doctor Phillips said?
There had been four that attacked when this tunnel had carried
them from the land of these beasts to this time and place.
So there could be two more.
It was imperative that they be found and destroyed before they
actually killed someone. He
needed to warn Sgt. Garcia, as well.
Of course, that would take a bit of doing—to somehow convince
the poor sergeant of the guard that such animals existed and that the
danger was very real. Personally,
Zorro wouldn’t blame him for not believing such a story.
He wouldn’t believe a tale about giant lizards, either, if he
hadn’t seen the animals with his own eyes.
Zorro walked back to where he had left Tornado
and found the stallion waiting impatiently, pawing the hard ground,
snorting. The horse
whinnied when he saw his master and Zorro smiled, reaching a gloved hand
toward the black stallion’s neck.
Tornado shied back and Zorro realized why.
There was blood on his gloves--the lizard’s blood.
Zorro pulled off his gauntlets and then stroked the stallion.
Tornado snorted and rubbed his chest with a soft, velvety nose.
Laughing, Zorro pulled the gauntlets back on and mounted.
The stallion picked up on his mood and whinnied softly, shaking
his head impatiently.
“Yes, my friend, it is time to look for that
other American. With at
least another of those beasts running loose, we need to find him and get
him to safety.” What was
left unsaid was the fact that if Doug Phillips’ friend showed up in
the pueblo, he would be subject to the comandante’s mercy.
Luvisto’s hatred of all foreigners was well known, exceeding
even the strict bounds of Spanish law.
Zorro guided the stallion up the path, ordering
him to wait just within sight of the dead carnosaur. Tornado was nervous, but did his master’s bidding.
Dismounting, Zorro pulled out a rope from a saddlebag and tied it
to the saddle, tying the other end to one leg of the dead creature.
He couldn’t leave it rotting in the pond.
Water was precious in this area and even one polluted stream or
pond could mean disaster to a landowner.
Again, Tornado showed his displeasure by snorting, but when Zorro
mounted and ordered him to pull the giant lizard, he did so, straining
against the rope. Slowly they were able to drag the animal down the path to a
point where the rotting flesh wouldn’t foul the stream. Most likely the scavengers would take care of the
carcass, but you could never be too sure with something as strange as
They had soon traversed the rest of the path
down from the spring and were galloping toward the area where Zorro had
assumed the other traveler might have . . . what? Arrived?
How would one arrive through time?
Shaking his head, the masked man simply could not comprehend such
a scene and finally decided to cast about between the Mission and the
Tony kicked the horse to greater effort, but he
knew that it was only a matter of time before this horse, which had not
appeared to be a really sturdy animal anyway, was totally spent. There had to be someplace where he could hide.
This area was filled with arroyos, rocky hills, small canyons.
To his left, Tony saw something that looked promising.
If he could reach the area before the soldiers pursuing him,
maybe he could let the poor horse go and hide in some cave or crevice
that the horsemen behind him couldn’t follow him into.
He had to take a chance. He
had become sick of being imprisoned.
It was bad enough that he was a prisoner in time, but that he was
spending so much of that ‘time’ locked in various jails, prisons and
dungeons had affected him more than he would like.
Pulling the reins ever so slightly, Tony felt the horse respond
and head toward the rocky outcroppings.
He stole a quick glance behind him and saw that
the soldiers continued to gain on him.
Soon they appeared to be almost in rifle range, but then Tony
remembered that in this era, rifles were muzzleloaders and not as
accurate as later repeating rifles.
The soldiers probably were content to just let him run his horse
into the ground and then capture him at their leisure.
After a while, Tony looked over his shoulder
again and noticed that the dust had drifted away from his pursuers.
There seemed to be fewer of them and they had slowed up.
Where were the others, or had he imagined that there were more?
Why were they slowing? Were
their horses as spent as his was?
Tony was confused, but he was still resolved to not be captured.
Ahead of him lay a network of large boulders, strewn up the side
of the hill, laced with small trees, brush and places where only a
person on foot could traverse. It was a perfect place to get lost in and then sneak away
Urging the wheezing horse on toward the rocky
hillside, Tony prepared to leap from it as they got closer.
Then he saw the reason for the soldiers in the posse seeming to
be fewer and why they had slowed down.
Ahead of him on a trail that paralleled the one he was riding
toward, came the commander and one of his men.
In despair, Tony realized that they knew this area and he
didn’t. They knew that there was another route, a shortcut, and they
had taken it.
Tony had no recourse but to continue his race
for the rocks and hope that he could at least find a place to make his
stand. Bending low over the
winded horse’s neck, Tony coaxed it on with his voice.
The horse was slick with sweat and its strides were getting
slower. Suddenly Tony heard
a sharp crack in the air above him and almost simultaneously, he felt a
sharp, fiery pain across his back.
His horse stopped short in fear and surprise.
Tony looked to the side and saw that the comandante had a long
bullwhip. In horror, and before he could do anything other than be
aware of it, Tony saw the end of the whip rise, snakelike and then fall,
wrapping itself around his neck. Then
he felt himself jerked from the saddle and he fell hard against the
ground. The wind was
knocked out of his body and Tony gasped for breath.
The whip/noose jerked him prone on the ground where he choked in
the dust, and then the whip loosened.
With that little respite, Tony sucked in a deep breath and pulled
the leather away from his neck. Still
gasping, he staggered to his feet just in time to hear a squalling, high
pitched hunting cry and for a moment he stood stock-still in horror.
It was the same hunting cry he had heard back in the Jurassic. It was the call of a carnosaur.
But here? In
California? Had the
creatures been transported here with him and Doug?
He looked up and saw one of the flesh-eating dinosaurs
standing on a boulder, its small eyes darting between him and the
soldier. It seemed to be
considering its options; which one of them would be the easiest prey.
Finally, the dinosaur launched itself from the
rocks. It landed between
him and Luvisto, hissing, then watched with cold fascination as the
commander’s horse bucked and squealed in terror.
It shook the rider from its back and bolted back down the path
from which it had come. Luvisto
got up shakily and stared in horror at the beast.
The other soldiers’ horses followed the lead of the first one
and bolted away in panic. One
soldier fell off awkwardly and lay motionless, while others hung on to
their retreating horses for dear life.
Soon there was only Tony, Luvisto and the carnosaur the size of a
hefty steer. It hissed
again and approached the Californian, slowly at first and then more
Luvisto seemed to shake out of his fear and he
grabbed his whip from the ground, popping it in the creature’s face. The carnosaur stopped short, squealing in pain and then it roared
its loud cry again. As much
as Tony disliked the way the man had treated him, he could not just
stand there and watch the commander be torn apart by something that was
here because of him. “Get
out of the way! Drop
down!” he shouted. The
unconscious soldier had a pistol strapped to his waist.
Tony rushed toward him, hoping the gun was ready to fire.
It should be; this was a soldier after all. The unconscious man was only twenty feet away, but the
distance seemed miles as he ran. Just
as he grabbed the pistol, Tony heard the squalling of the carnosaur
almost in his ears. Raising
the pistol even as he was pivoting toward it, he took quick aim.
The reptile had seen his motion and was now charging him.
The chest. Lungs. Aim for
the chest! Tony
held his hand steady, pulled back the hammer and then squeezed the
trigger. The pistol fired
with a roar and the ball hit the carnosaur in the chest.
It stopped, staggered and then screamed in anger and pain.
It charged again and Tony leaped to the side, feeling the
rough-skinned body pass so close that he could have reached out and
touched it had he been so inclined.
Now Tony ran toward the commander, having seen
something resembling a picador’s lance lying between the two men. If he could just reach it in time. He heard the sharp report of another pistol and then the
squealing of the carnosaur again. Something
slammed him to the ground just a few feet away from the lance and then
he felt sharp, horrible, debilitating pain running up and down his leg. Despite the pain, Tony rolled over and saw the carnosaur standing
above him, the claws pawing the air.
It cried out again, this time it seemed an angry cry and then the
eyes stared down at him, cold, viciously cold.
Tony scrambled backward, until he felt the
lance, but before he could do more than drag the weapon toward his body,
it was knocked out of his hand by the carnosaur.
Blood streamed from the two pistol shot wounds, but the creature
seemed to be ignoring them, only intent on destroying his tormenters.
It squalled angrily and lunged toward Tony, the innumerable,
sharp teeth ready to close on him. The only thought that he could hear rattling in his brain was
that now he would find that rest he had been longing for.
He felt the heat of its breath, along with the waves of pain that
matched the beating of his heart. Tony
waited for the inevitable.
Then the ground vibrated beneath his back and a
horseman galloped close by. The
carnosaur screamed a challenge, placing one forepaw on Tony’s chest to
pin him while shifting its attention to this additional annoyance. Tony wondered if Luvisto had gotten to his horse, but there
didn’t seem to have been enough time. Then he saw the horse flash by again and Tony saw that this was
someone else, someone who hadn’t been here before. The horse was large and coal black and the rider was wreathed in
black, including what seemed an enormous black cape. Like a professional picador, the man and his horse danced in and
out, pricking the dinosaur with what appeared to be a toothpick of a
sword, jumping away when the carnosaur snapped at them.
But what could he do with a sword? Tony thought
despairingly. Then he
remembered the doctor’s words—something about Zorro. Zorro? He
wasn’t joking. This was
Zorro! How in the….
“Tony!” Zorro called out.
Tony’s mind reeled, wondering remotely how
this man in black, no matter what the American’s boyhood books had
said about this Spanish American hero, could know his name.
“Tony, can you reach the lance?” Zorro
called again as he and his horse danced in and tormented the creature
again. “The lance to your
left. About three feet.” Again, Zorro danced in, pricked the carnosaur again,
but this time the creature had had enough. He lifted the foot that had been pinning Tony painfully to the
ground and reached out with both forelegs to slash at Zorro’s horse
that had nimbly danced back out of the way.
The dinosaur took several steps away from him trying to reach his
more capable tormenter. The
black horse reared just out of reach and Tony scrabbled in the dust for
the lance. Sweat rolled
into his eyes, making him blink, but finally his fingers touched the
wooden shaft, then curled around it. Despite the pain, he pulled himself to a sitting position and
then staggered to his feet, using the lance as balance.
Zorro grinned his approval and then called out
again, “Just throw it at me. I’ll
His horse danced to one side and Tony threw the
lance with the little bit of strength he could muster.
Tony fell heavily to the earth again, knocked down by the
carnosaur’s tail and he saw the air around him darken and dance out in
and out of focus. The
dinosaur had moved another step from him, but that was small consolation
to the American. He
couldn’t have gotten up again. The
pain radiated through his whole body.
He knew that he was losing blood, but he couldn’t even reach
down to close the wound with his hand. As
figures, light and motion came back into focus, he saw Zorro stab the
predator in the throat and then stab him in the upper chest.
The carnosaur squealed in its pain and anger and then snapped the
pole in two. It seemed to be finally feeling the affects of its wounds.
It staggered toward him and then toward Zorro and his horse.
“Move aside, Zorro!” another voice called
out and Tony saw the stallion back away.
A pistol shot sounded painfully close and the echoes of the blast
continued to reverberate back and forth among the rocks of the narrow
valley for what seemed forever.
The shot had been true and to the head.
The carnosaur wavered and then staggered again and finally
collapsed, just inches from where Tony lay.
Tony felt the ground shake with the impact.
Zorro was instantly off his horse and by his side, at the same
time, jerking off a sash that encircled his waist.
“You are bleeding badly.”
“How . . . how did you know my name?” Tony
asked shakily and then felt inane at such a question.
“We have a mutual friend,” Zorro said with a
grim smile as he tore the material into two lengths.
Tony gasped as the masked man drew the cloth
around his upper thigh and then tied it tight.
“Doug,” he finally breathed.
Zorro nodded, but didn’t say anything, only
continued working on the wounded man.
“Is Doug all right?” Tony asked, his voice
barely above a whisper.
Again, Zorro nodded. “I believe he will be all right.”
Then he smiled. “He
was worried about you.”
“I should arrest you, Señor Zorro,” came
the voice beyond Tony’s line of vision before he could respond to
“Perhaps after we tend to this man’s
wounds,” Zorro replied tersely. But
there was a hint of a smile on his face. “Capitán, could you render the loan of your banda for this
man, foreign though he is?”
Luvisto’s face swam into Tony’s wavering
vision and he saw the commander nod.
When Zorro tied the next piece of material around his leg, Tony
was unable to restrain himself.
He moaned in pain.
“You have bled a great deal, my friend, but it
seems that the beast did not pierce any large blood vessels,” Zorro
said as he continued wrapping Tony’s leg. His work was quick, but efficient. “But you will soon need the attention of Dr. Avila.” Zorro looked up at Luvisto.
“Will you permit this American the aide that he needs,
Comandante?” he asked gently.
Tony closed his eyes briefly, unable to hold the two men in his focus. Ironically, he heard the sound of a hawk or eagle crying out in the sky, the scuffing of a hoof against hard ground, but nothing else. Then everything seemed to fade away.