St. Paul Mavrides
Excerpts from the Novel-in Progress

Chapter Fifteen

Tevis Stang sipped at her last bit of Coke and wondered if she'd ever see Dallas again. The dusty, flat wind was starting to blow up from the hot nyika, the sun would soon be setting over the Samburu Plain, night would bring out the large predators and there was still no sign of Paul.

At least he could have left her with a flashlight or some matches. And now, who knew where Paul had gone to? It was starting to get dark. Some vacation!

Matches, flashlight, Dallas -- everything gone! No, not gone. Still in the future actually. The far future. She was now the proud possessor of The Only Coke Can In The World. The only bit of processed aluminum. The only drop of refined sugar. there wasn't going to be anything like that until millions of years later. She really couldn't blame Paul though. She could blame Dobbs. Dobbs and that whole damn bunch of lunatics that Paul and her father had been involved with for the last twenty years. She had thought it was a joke, when Paul had started babbling in Nairobi, back at the hotel, about "the real reason" why he had come on the trip with her. Talking about "time-webs" and "pipe traps." What garbage! She had begun to regret not taking off with Connie.

How was she to have known it was all too horribly true?

Now she was probably the only woman on Earth, as far as that went, unless she was going to count "Lucy."

Philo hadn't been kidding. There was no warning at all when the Xist Time Sphere had dropped into the center of their safari camp near Isiolo and, with a burst of pink light and a muscle-cramping jerk, had whisked them both off to the distant past--now her uncertain present. Back to paleolithic Africa and a galactic-invasion force that she and Paul were supposed to stop somehow.

Every time she started to think about it she got madder and madder. Stuck in a cheap science-fiction plot, indeed! She'd show "Bob!" She'd show that entire gang of over-grown adolescents what fooling with Tevis meant! Of course, she'd also have to wait until gunpowder was invented.

It must have been around noon when the Xist scientists deposited them on a small ridge on the edge of a immense lake, surrounded by miles of prehistoric grasslands. A voice in their heads had told them to "WAIT" and so they had, sharing half a Coke and some dates that had been in the day pack. There hadn't been much to say to each other. Paul had tried to make the best of it.

Traveling with Paul certainly was interesting. They spent the afternoon trying to identify the amazing types of animals that inhabited the green banks of the water. And waited. And waited. Waited for what? Once the voice spoke, they had been unable to do more than sit up and move their arms.

At last, a full six or seven hours later, the voice had spoken again. It said, "I think we'll start with you," and Paul had vanished, just like that. Nothing but the thin sound of air rushing in to the space he had occupied. Now she sat, "waiting" all by herself.

The sun was going down.

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