The People That Time Forgot HTML version

Chapter 2
I'll never forget my first impressions of Caspak as I circled in, high over the surrounding
cliffs. From the plane I looked down through a mist upon the blurred landscape beneath
me. The hot, humid atmosphere of Caspak condenses as it is fanned by the cold Antarctic
air-currents which sweep across the crater's top, sending a tenuous ribbon of vapor far out
across the Pacific. Through this the picture gave one the suggestion of a colossal
impressionistic canvas in greens and browns and scarlets and yellows surrounding the
deep blue of the inland sea--just blobs of color taking form through the tumbling mist.
I dived close to the cliffs and skirted them for several miles without finding the least
indication of a suitable landing-place; and then I swung back at a lower level, looking for
a clearing close to the bottom of the mighty escarpment; but I could find none of
sufficient area to insure safety. I was flying pretty low by this time, not only looking for
landing places but watching the myriad life beneath me. I was down pretty well toward
the south end of the island, where an arm of the lake reaches far inland, and I could see
the surface of the water literally black with creatures of some sort. I was too far up to
recognize individuals, but the general impression was of a vast army of amphibious
monsters. The land was almost equally alive with crawling, leaping, running, flying
things. It was one of the latter which nearly did for me while my attention was fixed upon
the weird scene below.
The first intimation I had of it was the sudden blotting out of the sunlight from above, and
as I glanced quickly up, I saw a most terrific creature swooping down upon me. It must
have been fully eighty feet long from the end of its long, hideous beak to the tip of its
thick, short tail, with an equal spread of wings. It was coming straight for me and hissing
frightfully-- I could hear it above the whir of the propeller. It was coming straight down
toward the muzzle of the machine-gun and I let it have it right in the breast; but still it
came for me, so that I had to dive and turn, though I was dangerously close to earth.
The thing didn't miss me by a dozen feet, and when I rose, it wheeled and followed me,
but only to the cooler air close to the level of the cliff-tops; there it turned again and
dropped. Something--man's natural love of battle and the chase, I presume-- impelled me
to pursue it, and so I too circled and dived. The moment I came down into the warm
atmosphere of Caspak, the creature came for me again, rising above me so that it might
swoop down upon me. Nothing could better have suited my armament, since my
machine-gun was pointed upward at an angle of about degrees and could not be either
depressed or elevated by the pilot. If I had brought someone along with me, we could
have raked the great reptile from almost any position, but as the creature's mode of attack
was always from above, he always found me ready with a hail of bullets. The battle must
have lasted a minute or more before the thing suddenly turned completely over in the air
and fell to the ground.
Bowen and I roomed together at college, and I learned a lot from him outside my regular
course. He was a pretty good scholar despite his love of fun, and his particular hobby was