Judgment of the Dark Hunter

Chapter 7
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9

She looked to the cave wall. Marguerite did not noticed it last night. It was dark and she had had other things on her mind. She moved closer, her own body’s shadow slightly obscuring what she was reaching for, and touched the dead vine. It had once traveled the expanse of the wall, branching out, and was so striking. She pulled back slightly and followed it with her eyes, looking down to the root, which had been pulled free from the moist ground. It was now dangling, inactive against the wall.

“How sad.” Marguerite thought aloud, hands resting on her hips as she stared. Slowly, she moved forward to again, touching a dry leaf which was once green and vibrant. What had happened to it? She nearly remembered something but her recall pulled back. She could see this vine when it was alive and well … alive. In her mind’s eye she could see it moving … but she also saw herself. Or no.

She felt frustration. The vine had reached out and touched her …“No.” Marguerite reconsidered yet again. It held her and prevented her from moving. “A wall vine?” Marguerite sighed. “What is wrong with me?” She was still mixing things up. Had to be.

Slowly, Marguerite turned from the wall. Why … why was it she felt sorry for it? It was just a plant!

Taking a breath and straightening her shoulders, Marguerite looked to the cave opening and came to a decision.


From the Personal Journal of Marguerite Krux.

How strange to have recollections of something some would considered insignificant.

But it had suffered. It had fallen in love and, for awhile, was treated well. Then a rival appeared. She had taken its place in its master’s heart. It tried to hold on the best way it knew how, do as its master commanded, imprisoning a woman in the cave as commanded, professing its love in a silent but meaningful manner. What a sad, pitiful creature.

But when it sensed it was getting ready to lose him altogether for a flesh and blood human female who wanted nothing more than to escape, trying to get back to where she belong, it panicked. As all lonely, living creatures may when there is nothing left to live for … It stepped over the line.

And then, by that same master, it was killed. Smothered. Uprooted. The Dark Hunter had judged the vine past its usefulness.

If I had been in my right mind I would have found that a very frightening notion.

As George Challenger had once said, without his higher faculties, this dark Roxton was a kill or be killed hunter. But, as I write this, I can’t help thinking that Hunter was trying. He was a brute but he wanted humanity; wanted me to show him the way, even if he wasn’t certain what stepping over that line entailed. I sincerely believe this.

However, he was what he was. Dark. Controlling. Unpredictable.Some have said the same about me.


He had been working on the spears even before he brought the female to the cave. Now he fine tuned his effort. Tall and sharp. Deadly. He balanced a spear in his hand, measuring its weight and width. He could kill a raptor with one; in the eye or any other vulnerable spot.

Soon his woman too would learn such skills. Hunting without benefit of firearms. He would teach her. The knives. Instinctively, Hunter reached down to touch the stone hewn dagger hanging from a loop on his loin cloth’s gathering cord. He had made three similar knives from a lighter hard-wood, now laying on the damp ground, wrapped in a rabbit skin. The handles were polished and splinter free for an easy grip. Light and easy to throw. Impressive. Something a female could carry without being weighed down. They needed weapons in this inhospitable land for more than hunting. Protection and survival were paramount. That was fine by him. Hunter thrived on danger.

He looked up, considering his future, how he would live and who he would be with, feeling the warmth of the afternoon sun. Good weather was a hunter’s ally.

“Good morning.”

Quickly, Hunter twisted about. She had come up from behind and he hadn’t heard her. Stealth. It would serve the female well. Then he thought again. Roxton’s memories intruded. It had served her well.

He ogled her up and down for a moment, his facial expression initially expressionless, then a very slight upturn of the mouth indicated satisfaction.

“Like it?” she asked, modeling her jungle-outfit for him. “Incredibly immodest, I know. But somehow, Roxton, I didn’t think you would mind. Maybe later, with better material I can make something a little nicer.” She then looked at he and his loin cloth, “For both of us, I think.” she added. ‘But not too soon.’ she silently added with a hidden grin. A very small portion of Marguerite’s mind told her there was something wrong with this scenario but she pushed it away, content to see her mate’s fascination.

Hunter blinked. She looked better, the dark mark on her head appearing to have faded ever so slightly, and the female appeared in good spirits. He liked what he saw but it also set off a warning flag. The woman was strong and would eventually recover. Hunter’s inexperienced mind could not be certain if the amnesia would remain. He would have to be careful.

Wary, he looked to where her eyes had strayed. His other clothes, the pants and shirt, were laying to his right, on the grass. He noted her frown, as if recalling something, then the expression altered.

“I’ll have to mend those. You ripped the pant leg.” she said.


They followed Jarl and Assai’s party to where they had last seen Marguerite and the other Roxton.

They had awakened at dawn and she was the first to see the note. “I swear that man is trying to get himself killed!” Veronica fumed, marching with quick but heavy strides as they hiked down to the river. “He’s always the first to tell us when we’re not behaving sensibly, not doing what a trained huntsman would do, but the minute we leave him alone - untied because we trust him - he’s off …” she continued.

Challenger trailed the group, watching their rear for potential trouble. What Veronica said was partly true, her anger disguising a deep worry, but Challenger had actually expected Roxton to rush off before the rest of them. What surprised him was his destination. He thought Roxton would recklessly attempt to find Marguerite first but, no, it was to the dinosaur graveyard he fled. It made logical sense. No point in going on a search he could not possibly complete. Much better to go to a place that held the prospect of a cure. “Proud of you, old boy.” Challenger almost smiled. It is what he would have done.

“When Malone finds Roxton I hope he shakes some sense into him …” Veronica continued her tirade, not truly caring if anyone was listening to her.

Again, Challenger hid a smile. It was almost like having Marguerite in their group. But that thought, the fear for Marguerite’s safety, caused Challenger to remember their adversary and he frowned once again. She was alive, as Roxton had told them, had believed from the very beginning, but what if they were too late now. Challenger had been outwardly positive for Roxton’s sake and he hadn’t lied when he told them the darker portion of Roxton would attempt to keep Marguerite from harm, simply because he had worked so hard to make her his. But the jungle was a dangerous place and Assai could not be certain she and Roxton’s double had survived the rapids.

“Here!” a Zanga warrior called. He lifted what looked like a muddy version of Roxton’s rifle.

Further down they would find Marguerite’s pistol and a portion of wooden log which slid to the bank. Then, even beyond this, they would see the river’s apron, disturbed by two human bodies, and footprints that moved from land to grass and afar. The trail would not be easy. Even Veronica and the warriors would be baffled a time or two but, eventually, they would find what they were looking for.

However, the reunion would not be quite what they were expecting.


“I did not expect to see you return, Lord Roxton.” came her voice.

“I had little choice.”

“Alone? Where are your faithful human friends?”

“Attempting to capture your monster.” Then he thought better of it. “Our monster. If they can they’ll bring him back here.”

“It will be difficult.”

Roxton had managed to walk, holstering a lone pistol and dragging a backpack on the ground with him until he reached the smoky, leaf deprived woods just outside of the Inland Sea. He was so close to the dinosaur graveyard, no more than a half mile away, but he could take the pain no longer. Feeling the blood gush from his wounded side, his ribcage aching so horribly he could barely breath without suffering a stabbing pain, Roxton fell into a crouch and forcibly willed the nausea not to come. He crawled on his hands and knees the rest of the way, still dragging his pack. He did not know how long he would be forced to stay in the graveyard and the pack contained life sustaining necessities. Not that he had that much life left in him. Really, when he thought about it, the backpack was more of an anchor. Hope.

This was it. Do or die. If Oseena refused to help him he would not return to the treehouse. There was no more time. He felt his body closing down. He had, at the most, a half day left to live. Here, or perhaps the outside the woods, would be where his friends buried him. He could only pray he had time to save Marguerite before it was too late.

“You resilience surprises me.” Oseena’s voice remained neutral as the cloud which formed her being faded. She stood at the altar where the up-righted mammoth tusks framed her figure. She stepped out and watched Roxton sit up, his back leaning against the tall dried rib bone of a long gone T-Rex. “This may surprise you but I would like to see the return of your double as well. He left without my consent.” Oseena looked beyond the woods then returned her attention to Roxton, curious. “And what did you hope to accomplish by coming here without your companions?”

“A time saver … and I want you to answers to some questions.” Perspiration beaded Roxton’s forehead and upper lip. His eyes were half closed with fatigue and a deep throbbing. “Why did you recreate him?”

“I didn’t. It was you. A very small particle of your dark side remained here from our last encounter and it took your mortal presence to bring him back to life.” Then she added, “He inherited your stubbornness as well.”

“My blood …” Roxton nodded, aware.

“… and your weapon.” Oseena mimed to his lone pistol, as it rested in its holster. “They come in a pairs, don’t they?”

Roxton nodded. He saw the white handled firearm was missing when he went to retrieve his shoulder holster last night but could not ask anyone what had happened to it.

“He has Marguerite Krux. Did you know that?” Roxton asked, hoping the kidnapping of another woman might soften Oseena’s seemingly dispassionate disposition, “Who knows what he’s doing to her. Can you call him back? Will you help me rescue her?”

“I tried. He isn’t listening to me.” Then, “It is every creatures wish to have a mate, someone to depend on, to free them from loneliness, to help them and love them. To couple. From the lowliest human to the majesty of a tyrannosaurus, it is nature. Even the dark half of you has that need, Lord Roxton.”

“And does the fact he could kill her, because she will not cooperate with what he needs, mean nothing to you?”

“I …” Oseena swiveled away from Roxton and hesitated, “I appreciate life. All life. But you are living humans and have no significance in my realm. I am a guardian of the dead. Giving peace for the dying is what I provide.”

“He is a creature from your realm. He’s your responsibility.”

“He is you. As much as you hate to admit it … he is you.”

“A part of me.”

“Perhaps the better part of you. He does not put on airs. He takes what he wants when he wants it. No deception …”

“No restraint?” Roxton questioned and noted her hesitation, “And … when he kills her - when I die because of your creature - what you’ve done here - is that how you’re going to ease your guilty conscience, Oseena? It was in your power to stop him and you know it. It was also in your power to prevent my injury in the first place. Why did you think it fitting that I be gored? You knew Malone and I meant no harm.”

“It was a miscalculation. At first, I did not recognize you …”

“An error in judgment. How human of you.” Roxton felt a twinge of triumph when her eyes raised to look at him. Touché. Roxton might have found it difficult to believe Dark Hunter was a part of him but Oseena, it seemed, was bent on denying her own human side. A retort was lost on her lips. “And what about now? Why are you here with me? Is it to give me peace, Oseena?”

She looked directly at Roxton. “I am here out of courtesy and curiosity. I bring peace only to those I serve. Dinosaurs, Lord Roxton. Not human beings. But …“ she conceded, “ …I am not without sympathy. I believe you learned your lesson long ago; not to kill out of anger and despair. I am … sorry … this happened.”

“And now? Will you help me?”

Oseena did not speak for a long period of time. Then, coming to a decision she had actually been mulling over ever since Dark Hunter had walked from the graveyard, she said: “If it is possible for me to do so … yes. I will help you.”


Marguerite practiced for over an hour on her throwing, the knives hitting their target more often than not. She had used a chalky stone to make a bull’s-eye on the trunk of a wide tree then started to throw. She took pointers from Hunter, allowing him to show her positioning and watching his focus, but it was up to her own talents to make the mark. She was quick learner.

Hunter watched Marguerite as he sought more wood, for both weapons and their evening fire. Her arms and legs were well toned and she had the figure of a fine huntress. But even more than that, she had dexterity and an ambition to learn. Hunter was proud of her. He would take her on his next pursuit, a search for food or other valuable living necessities. By then she would know her way around a spear and as a team they would be unstoppable. He knew he had picked the right female.

“Damn it!” Marguerite cursed when one of her daggers missed its target entirely and landed several feet away from their practice area. “Why am I doing this anyway?” she barked in frustration, “Tossing knives at a tree is sheer idiocy! What am I? A savage?”

She then glanced at Hunter who stood tall, after picking up a tree branch, and stared at her with something akin to concern.

“I’m sorry, Roxton.” she said, strangely contrite. “I don’t know what made me say that.”

He dropped his bundle of wood and walked to her, standing in front of Marguerite. He then lifted a hand to touch her hair and cheek.

Marguerite, a little startled, expecting a quip rather than this token action, looked up at her lover as he caressed her. He was gentle but, for some reason she could not fathom, his touch made her feel uneasy. Roxton had stroked her like this before, she was certain, but why did such a loving gesture seem so wrong? She could see it in her mind’s eye

“Don’t be afraid. Touch my cheek … feel my hair …”

He walked forward … reaching out … his touch too rough … She was leaning beside a bone, her hands behind her … She needed to escape …“Roxton …” Marguerite began, voicing a fear.

A loud roar announced an intruder.

Marguerite turned from Hunter, looking out at the woods beyond their clearing. Both of them backed up as the T-Rex moved from its hiding place, towering high above them, and stepped into the field.

The beast eyed them and if a dinosaur could smile in anticipation of a good meal this one was doing just that.

With slow, careful motions the couple continued to back up. The spears were further away than what was comfortable.

The mighty dinosaur suddenly charged.


“Of all the lame-brained things you could have done, Roxton!” Ned Malone, stooping beside his friend and tipping forward, his knees digging deeply into the sand, helped Roxton off with his shirt. “Why couldn’t you wait for me?” he asked, exasperated but careful.

“I needed to get information. I didn’t think Oseena would show and talk if you were with me.”

“And did you talk with her?” Malone pulled clean, rolled bandages out of his pack.



“She’s going to help us.”

“That’s something.” Malone accepted warily but did not look convinced. If Oseena really wanted to help Roxton she would use whatever powers she had to cure him. Slowly, Malone aided Roxton in peeling out of his sweat soaked undershirt. A large section of the white fabric, near his ribcage, had been matted with infection and revealed a slimy-green ooze, which was seeping from Roxton’s wound.

“God.” Malone could not help showing his distastes and fear. It was worse than before and now, he noted with a tightening spasm in his belly, Roxton’s skin color was easing towards yellow. He was feverish and his eyes were less than clear. There had been hope before, when he was resting in bed, but now -- he truly was dying. If they didn’t get Roxton put together before nightfall he was finished.

“That bad?” Roxton asked, observing Malone, a lazy smile somehow easing onto his pale features. He continued to lean against the large dinosaur bone. It was the only thing keeping him sitting upright.

“I’ve seen worse.” Malone lied. He seized his canteen and a clean cloth. Cautiously, doing his best to prevent further injury, Malone cleansed the wound then gave the canteen to Roxton, “Drink.” he commanded, no nonsense.

Roxton, brought the canteen to his lips and paused, again looking at the journalist. He, like all of them, had grown a great deal since coming to the plateau. “Malone, I want you to promise me something.” Roxton said, “If something happens and I don’t live through …”

“Roxton ...”

“Listen.” He pressed, his free hand lifting to grasp Malone’s arm. “Just in case something happens, Neddy-boy, I want you to … That is, I know Marguerite can be a trial. She behaves as if she really doesn’t need anyone … but she’s been hurt. She can be vulnerable and I’m not sure how she’ll react if I …”

… if I don’t make it through this one. Malone gulped, averting his eyes at the unspoken statement.

“Promise me you’ll be patient with her, even more than before, and continue to treat her like family. You need to make everyone else see the anguish and hurt; the warmth behind that defensive mask. She needs people.”

Unable to think of anything to say, feeling the fingers gripping his arm ease, Malone gulped slightly and fought remorse and tears. He nodded. “I promise. Marguerite will never be alone. She will always have family.”

Roxton rested a bit easier and allowed Malone to continue wrapping his wound. It might have been a lot to ask of the boy but he trusted Malone and knew he would do everything in his power to carry out the wishes of a dying man, especially if that man was like a brother to him.

“By the way,” Roxton cleared his throat, deciding a change of subject might be in order, “how does Challenger plan to subdue my evil twin? Finding him is one thing but bringing him here is going to be something altogether different. Believe me, I know.”

Winding the gauze around Roxton’s body, firmly binding the area near his ribs, Malone simply stated, “Challenger has something up his sleeve.”


The beast’s roar was deafening as it attacked, it’s large, gray tail swishing back and forth, knocking over the table which held the handmade spears.

Marguerite managed to tumble out of the way and was fortunate to have a spear roll in her general direction. Hunter, however, was in a bad situation. He had no weapon and the dinosaur had its sight set directly on him. Although, from what Marguerite could see, one would never know he was in trouble. Hunter’s hands were raised as if urging the tyrannosaurus forward.

The monster’s head ducked to snap at him and the small (by comparison) man, leaping with great agility, was able to dodge the threat of its enormous, sharp teeth.

Moving smoothly to her feet, Marguerite called to Hunter and propelled her spear in his direction. She beam with pride as he caught the weapon, acknowledging her, and aimed its deadly tip at the belly of his towering opponent. This felt, somehow, so normal to her and Marguerite, despite the danger, was pleased with the familiarity.

She took advantage of being ignored by the creature. Running to the bulls-eye she had made earlier, Marguerite pulled her knives free and turned to approach the dinosaur’s blind side. The knives would do little good, certainly not killing it, but one good stab into its tough hide could reroute its attention long enough for her companion to benefit, piercing the T-Rex in its exposed belly.

Scarcely had these thoughts come to Marguerite when the shot of a rifle was heard. She saw people emerge at a gallop from the lush jungle on the opposite end of their clearing. There were two women and several men. At least three of these people were native warriors and they quickly, without having been asked, took up a battle stance. They drew their own weapons - spears and knives - and, like her hunter, faced off with the tyrannosaurus, drawing its attention away from … her?

Marguerite looked closer. Veronica? Challenger? She knew them. Her friends. Her family. Finally, they had come home and not a moment too soon. How good to see them and how wonderful to remember the friendship they shared. She looked over to Roxton and smiled but he, still battling the dinosaur, did not acknowledge her relief. As a matter of fact, he seemed to have grown more tense.

“Marguerite!” Veronica rushed up and grasped her arms, displaying a profound relief and inexplicable apprehension, “Are you all right?”

Looking away from the blond jungle princess, distracted by the scene of the men fighting the monster, Marguerite half-grinned and nodded, “Yes, I’m fine. I’m so glad you’ve come back though, Veronica. I’m not sure what Roxton and I would have done if …”

Roxton?” Veronica glanced at the warriors, Jarl and Roxton’s double fighting the T-Rex then quickly back to Marguerite.

Assai had positioned herself on the other side of the woman and, like Veronica, noted Marguerite’s new jungle attire -- and the fact she appeared unharmed and somewhat oblivious.

Unsure why the two women were staring so strangely at her, Marguerite looked from her own clothes to Veronica’s outfit and suddenly thought she understood her friend’s confusion. “Oh. My own were damaged, I think. I had an accident.” Then she nearly laughed in a peculiar way that made both women blanch, “I’m not imitating you, Veronica, honestly. I just wasn’t sure what else I could do. You see, I hit my head …”

Startled, Marguerite felt the darker native girl’s (‘Oh, what is her name?’) gentle fingers brush back her dark curls, looking carefully at the discoloration on her temple.

“It looks worse than it is … I’m fine.” Marguerite laughed nervously again. Their attention was making her feel uneasy. What were Veronica and … Assai … looking for? “Roxton rescued me, you know. That’s something he does so often. I remember that.”

She had seen him do it. His hand reached out, almost like God from Heaven, and pulled her from the water of the rushing river. Or no, he had placed her on the raft that carried her to … Again, Marguerite found herself baffled. Two totally different pictures were forming in her head. One Roxton had placed her on the drifting wood and the other pulled her to shore. It was the same man …of course it was.

Challenger fired his rifle once again, tagging the monster underneath its right arm, and the tyrannosaurus - having had enough - turned about and, heavy footed, headed once again into the jungle. There, it would nurse its wounds and find meals elsewhere.

Now the Zanga warriors, adrenalin rushing, set their attention on the being that stood as a man, backing away from him. Challenger, his rifle hoisted, backed up as well until he and the others were standing in front of the women.

Dark Hunter stood before them, his spear aimed, ready to launch at anyone who dared to attack. Not surprising, most of his attention was on Challenger, the only human holding a weapon that was a true threat to him. However, his eyes also scanned the group for Marguerite. She was his and no one better take her away …

“Shoot him.” Jarl said, close by Challenger’s side.

“I can’t. We have no idea what it would do to Roxton.”

Marguerite stepped away from the group, her eyes wide. “What’s wrong with you people? What are you doing?”

“Get back, Marguerite.” Challenger warned, “Roxton’s waiting for us. We have to get him,” Challenger motioned with the rifle, “to the graveyard as soon as possible. The infection is much worse than when you last saw him.”

“Have you gone mad?” Marguerite’s expression was one of incredulity, “He is Roxton!”

It dawned on Challenger, “Delusions … Amnesia.” he announced.

“No he’s not, Marguerite.” Again Veronica moved in front of her, her hands clasping Marguerite’s upper arm, her eyes once again taking in the woman’s discolored head abrasion. “Think.” she urged, “Remember. Roxton was wounded. We were all worried sick. His clothes were missing, Marguerite!”

“By the river …” Marguerite’s eyes grew wide as the data very slowly began to emerge, “I … I had to get the blood stains out …” she said and looked over a distance and down at the ground, to where the work table had been over turned. She spotted the small pile of men’s clothes. ‘He ripped the pant leg …’

Dark Hunter, hearing what was being said, understanding he was nearly on the verge of losing everything he had worked so hard to obtain over the last couple of weeks, made a motion to attack. His spear was used as a staff and he slammed it against the back of the warrior closest to him, the Zanga tipping over onto Jarl and the other warrior, unsteadying them, causing them to collapse.

Veronica leapt forward and high kicked Hunter, connecting with his chest, only to have him roughly push her, like a rag doll, out of the way and onto the ground. Assai ran to her, fearing injury.

Unwavering, Dark Hunter approached Challenger and his lifted weapon. He wanted that rifle. It was compensation if nothing else. The scientist would not fire as long as Hunter’s originator, what the others considered the true Roxton, depended on him for his pitiful life. He stepped slowly forward, determination on the usually passive face, every pace a threat to do the older man unimaginable harm.

“Roxton, no! Stop!” Marguerite shouted, still bewildered. This was impossible! She rushed to him, grabbing for his arm, and was propelled backward. Undaunted, Marguerite launched herself at Hunter once again, “Roxton, what are you doing!? It’s Challenger!”

This time Dark Hunter, acting entirely on instinct, used more force and pushed Marguerite to the ground. She cried out, frustrated and baffled, and momentarily sidetracked him. Hunter looked down at her as she stared up at him, seeing the genuine regret in his expression, the upheaval which equaled her own.

Challenger, taking the opportunity presented, flexed his right arm. From the end of his sleeve came a small, dark bag -- a pouch which contained a complicated chemical combination. He threw it hard on the ground before Dark Hunter then aimed his rifle where the pouch had fallen. He discharged the weapon, a bullet penetrating the middle of the pouch, and stepped back as it exploded. A yellow cloud of acrid chemicals escaped.

Dark Hunter, who could not avoid breathing in the fumes, became suddenly very light headed and rocked back and forth on his fur covered feet. Slowly but with a finality that was stunning for his kind, he collapsed and lay unconscious on the grass.

When the smoke cleared, Marguerite crawled unsteadily over to him. Sitting, she stared at the man - or whatever he was - as the others approached and formed a circle around them. “John?” she whispered so low no one could hear. Tentatively, she reached nervous fingers to touch his forehead. Marguerite was still having trouble separating falsehood from what she was learning as the truth.

If the moment had called for it a proud Challenger might have bellowed ‘Eureka!’ but even he understood where to hold the line. “I knew my explosive sedative would come in handy. I found the formula in one of your father’s medical books, Veronica,” Challenger enthused, “but added a few touched of my own. This could prove to be a wonderful anesthesia one of these days and …”

“Professor Challenger, please forgive us but we really must be going.” Jarl interrupted, appearing uncomfortable. “I wish we could help you further but ….”

Assai said, “The dinosaur graveyard is taboo to Zanga. The woods which surround it are cursed.”

Challenger noted how uneasy the warriors were. As strong and brave as the Zanga were it was amazing how superstition drew the child from each of them. “Of course.” Challenger accepted although he was finding it difficult not to look disappointed. “We appreciate all the help you have given us.” He shook Jarl’s hand.

Veronica spoke gently, “Thank you, Assai.”

“Goodbye, my friend.” Assai kissed Veronica on the cheek then quickly reached down to touch Marguerite reassuringly on the shoulder, “Good luck to you.” she said.

Watching their backs as they walked in the direction of the path that would take them back to the Zanga village, Challenger stated: “We could have really used their help getting him to the graveyard.”

Veronica could understand Challenger‘s regret but she was far more wary of Marguerite‘s odd behavior. She watched at the darker woman touched Roxton’s double’s hair, brushing it away from his face, a look of empathy evident.

“She’ll sort it all out once we get everything put back to right.” the scientist said to the jungle girl. He then kneeled beside Marguerite and drew her attention to him, “Marguerite, we have to get him to the dinosaur graveyard. Do you understand?”

Slowly, she nodded, remembering something. A nightmare. “If we don’t get him to the graveyard he will die.” Marguerite murmured. Roxton will melt away.

“I guess we’ll have to drag him. We don’t have time to build a stretcher.” Veronica commented and bent down to attempt what she suggested.

“Wait.” Marguerite recalled, “I know what we can use.”

She led her friends to a large woven pad supported by two sturdy tree limbs. It was the same homemade stretcher Hunter had used to bring her to the cave. Quickly they secured him in the same manner Dark Hunter had bound Marguerite.


“Drink more water, Roxton.” Malone urged, pushing the canteen to him, watching his friend perspire and slowly sink deeper and deeper into a state where, if he wasn‘t careful, Roxton might not ever return.

“I’m alright, Ned.” Roxton assured, his eyes close, his head leaning back to touch the large bone he was resting against. “Just thinking about a time when I was a boy, riding my pony near Avebury…” his voice faded slightly, “… and I saw a pretty dark haired girl, hiding behind the standing stones …” He smiled ever so slightly at the long suppressed memory.

Malone knew delirium when he saw it. Roxton was bottoming out. “Challenger. Veronica. Marguerite …” he whispered and looked out into the dead trees which surrounded them. “Hurry before it’s too late.”