The Last Days on the Planet of the Apes

Alan Maxwell

 

 

 

Chapter 1

A Strange Encounter

 

 

As the three travellers trekked through the ruins of a once-great city, different thoughts floated around in their minds.

 

Galen stared in awe, the sprawling concrete mess serving as a reminder of the past that only a handful of apes spoke of, or even knew about. The past in which apes were the oppressed species and man ruled over a world of machines and warfare. The ape winced at such a thought, trying hard to force it to the back of his mind. And yet part of him couldn't help but wonder if the world really was any better in simian hands. After being forced to run, along with his human companions, for well over a year and a half now, merely for uncovering the truth - Galen was beginning to grow weary of this planet of apes.

 

To the astronaut Alan Virdon, this was a painful reminder of home. A home, which Alan was beginning to doubt, he would ever see again. A home where he left a wife and son behind. Alan managed to hold back his tears. He had grown used to the pain that he associated with thoughts of family. But he could not vanquish it. Every time he came close, he was hit by the bitter realisation that his family were long since dead, and any home he once had no longer existed, buried under man-made rubble on a planet of apes.

 

Pete Burke viewed the ruins of the city as he had viewed all the other rubble that they had seen in the year and a half since landing here. He viewed it as a monument to the achievements of twentieth century man. Buildings burned to the ground by nuclear fire. Homes flattened. Grass areas once filled with the sound of children playing were now filled with the sound of the occasional human foraging in the dried dirt to try to find some trace of food or water. The empire of man had fallen, trampled into the radioactive ground by a planet of apes.

 

"What do you really expect to find here? " said Pete, "We've seen a hundred towns and cities like this, all dead. We're never going to see home again. Accept that, and perhaps we can settle down with another group of humans and just five a peaceful fife. I'm sure Urko and Zaius and the rest of those apes have stopped looking for us long ago."

 

"They may have, Pete. But you know I have to keep looking for some way - some special place. I wish I could accept it like you do Pete, I really do. But as long as I remember my wife and son, I have to keep going. You know that."

 

Pete had known Alan would say that. They had spoken the same words countless times before. Just as Alan would keep going, Pete would keep trying to persuade him.

 

Suddenly, the conversation was halted. All three fugitives looked ahead of them, where a human stood and watched them. A most unusual looking human. His clothes were totally white, and there was something very peculiar about him. And then Alan realised what it was. The human was completely clean looking. Not a speck of dirt on him, not even a tiny tear in his bright, clean clothes. And he was wearing something else, which both astronauts noticed at once. It had been a long time since they'd seen anyone wearing one of these, but it was unmistakable. The man was wearing a wristwatch.

 

The human looked back at them, and noticed them staring at his wrist He looked down and remembered the wristwatch he was wearing. As he pulled down his sleeve to try to hide it, Alan looked into his eyes. The human looked away from Alan and then saw Galen. He made eye contact very briefly, but the sight of the ape startled him Quickly, he turned around and fled. No sooner had he started moving than Alan was running after him, soon joined by his two companions.

 

Alan began to gain ground on the fleeing human, but then stranger turned into an alleyway. As Alan approached the alley, there was a sound of crashing metal. As soon as Alan entered the alley, he stopped. Ahead of him, about twenty feet away, was a dead end. He stared around at the walls. There were piles of rubble, but no windows or doors into the building.

 

As Alan puzzled over where the man could have possibly gone, he was joined by Pete, and then Galen.

 

"Where did he go?' exclaimed Galen.

 

Alan looked perplexed.  "I'm not sure," he said. Then his face lit up. At one side of the alley he noticed a large pile of rubble with some old bits of metal piping lying on it. Alan pushed the scrap metal out the way, and then climbed up onto the rubble. He looked down behind the rubble and there in front of him was a trapdoor in the ground. He pulled it up and peeked inside. It was dark, but he could make out a set of stairs leading down.

 

Alan looked toward Pete and Galen and smiled. Nothing needed to be said. Without further ado, they entered and began down the steps. If the three fugitives had waited a while to think about their decision to go down the steps, they might have realised that it was perhaps being a bit hasty.

 

They might also have noticed the armed gorilla soldier who had followed them.

 

 

Chapter 2

The History of the Planet of the Apes

 

 

As the tunnel wound its way further and further downwards, it began to get darker and darker, until the fugitives were feeling the walls with their hands to try and navigate. They all froze as they heard the sound of machinery whirring to life. There was a loud creaking noise, and they felt the steps tipping underneath them. There was nothing to hold onto. Before they knew what was happening, the three companions were tumbling down a very steep slope.

 

After about thirty seconds of this, a small speck of fight appeared. Gradually, the speck changed to a larger point of fight and quickly grew in size. Only a couple of seconds later, Alan dropped out of the tunnel and across some hard ground, closely followed by his two friends. They squinted and rubbed their eyes to get used to the light. When their vision fully returned, they found themselves in a huge underground cavern, surrounded by a group of several smartly dressed humans, each of who was carrying a gun. One of them, and old man with grey hair and a beard, stepped forward.

 

'My name is Arthur," he said. " I understand you two are Alan Virdon and Pete Burke. You and your ape friend had better follow me."

 

Before Alan had time to say anything, someone else dropped out of the tunnel exit from where they had just landed. A gorilla.

 

"Who are you?' Arthur said to the gorilla.

 

But there was no reply, other than the lifting of his gun. As soon as the gorilla began to take aim, Arthur shot him twice. "David, please dispose of him." Arthur commanded of one of the other humans. Arthur looked back towards the three new arrivals.

 

'I'm sorry if our treatment offends you," he said to them. "But we cannot allow intruders here. Especially not ape intruders." At this he glanced at Galen.

 

Alan saw the look on Arthur's face, and spoke.

 

"He's with us. His name's Galen. Now could you kindly answer me a few questions? Such as who you are, where we are, and how you know about us?"

 

"Of course. Come with me."

 

*****

 

'And you've been running ever since?" asked Arthur.

 

"Yes. Only we haven't actually seen Urko in about six months."

 

Galen and the astronauts gazed round in awe. They were sitting at a table in a large library. A library which they had been taken to in a small flying vehicle about the size of a car. Having just explained their story to Arthur, there was one question burning on their minds - a question which Pete was the first to put into words.

 

"So what's your story? And how did you know us?" he asked.

 

We know you from the history books. Two astronauts who went missing. And you were not the only ones, either."

 

"You mean George Taylor, and…"

 

"You shall see for yourself. Before you understand our story, it would probably be best if you were to familiarise yourself with the history of your planet. Funny. If you'd have stayed on Earth just a little bit longer, you'd have seen the arrival of Cornelius and - ah, but I'm getting ahead of myself It is all documented in here."

 

At this point, Arthur handed Alan and Pete a large book.

 

"Have a read of it, and I shall return soon."

 

Arthur stood up and left the room.

 

When he came back an hour later, Arthur sat down at the table and spoke.

 

"Makes for interesting reading, does it not?" he said.

 

Virdon and Galen were silent, still trying to come to terms with the history of the planet. Pete broke the silence.

 

"Well now we know what happened to Earth. But that doesn't explain you. Or the knowledge and technology you have here."

 

Arthur smiled and replied.

 

'Well you see, it's like this. Those of us like myself who saw the impending disaster decided to build ourselves a new home underground. To preserve not only the human species,but also the knowledge of our race."

 

"But wait a minute," added Galen, " you said those of you like yourself You mean you're a thousand years old? Your technology is that advanced?"

 

"Oh, no. I fear I have misled you. I mean people like myself who were scientists. We preserved what we could in books and machines and stored them in underground vaults."

 

'Like the one in Oakland?' asked Alan.

 

"You know about that?" replied Arthur.

 

'We found it. But it was destroyed by the apes."

 

"Ah, well, not to worry. With the advancements in technology we have made here, the information was probably mostly out of date anyway. But enough of that, I have an offer for you. We do not want to let you go, because that could compromise our security. But we would like to invite you to stay here. We can only learn so much from books - real live twentieth century men could tell us so much more. You'll have a comfortable life, of course. All this technology at your disposal. And I guess we let Galen stay with you as well."

 

"I'd like to," said Alan.

 

Pete was getting his hopes up that perhaps they were finally going to settle somewhere, until Alan continued.

 

"But I can't," he said. "As long as there's a possibility of returning home, I must go on. And you've given me hope. If a civilisation as advanced as yours can exist, there may be others. Others who can decipher this."

 

Alan played about with the metallic disk in his hand.

 

"Ah yes, your flight path recorder. Well to tell you the truth, I was keeping that idea as a last resort."

 

"What do you mean?" asked Alan.

 

"Well, 1 may have a solution which suits both our needs. We need not worry about the apes finding out about this place from you, and you would also be satisfied."

 

"So what's this solution then?" asked Pete.

 

"Simple, really," said Arthur. "We send you home."

 

 

Chapter 3

The Plan

 

 

As Arthur sat at the computer and operated it, the two astronauts leaned over him Galen stood slightly further back, bemused by everything that he had seen.

 

"You see," explained Arthur as he pointed to the screen, " this here is where you must have entered the loop or vortex or whatever sent you here. The readings from your flight recorder are pretty clear up until this point."

 

Then Alan pointed at some information on the screen and spoke. "So all this garbled mess here must be when we were in it. And then when it clears up over here, and looks pretty standard again, that must be where we left the distortion and came out here."

 

"Precisely." said Arthur. "Which means if we can reverse that last part, we should be able to plot you a course back to wherever you came out, and hopefully you'll get back."

 

Alan managed a half-smile and looked deep in thought. Pete however, remained cynical.

 

"Wait a minute," he said. "Even if you can do what you say, why would you? What's in it for you?"

 

'My good man," said Arthur. 'We wish simply to help you. In all our years here, we have preserved knowledge and made great technological advances, but for what purpose? We cannot go above ground to live again, for we would risk war with the apes. With our technology, it would be a war that we would surely win, but that is not the point. This planet has seen enough war. We do not wish to start another one. If I was to be totally honest, I sometimes wonder why we do this at all. After all, the Earth only has another thousand years of life left to it - you've seen the books. But now we finally have the chance to use our technology to help someone. Our only reward shall be knowing that you two shall be returned home to your families. And I hope that such an act would gain the trust of Galen, so that we may let him go and not worry about him mentioning our city down here. Perhaps he may even want to stay here with us?"

 

Galen didn't say anything. However, Pete was still curious.

 

"So what exactly do we do with this course you plot for us. Our ship was destroyed, and in case you haven't noticed, the spacecraft industry's in a bit of a recession this year."

 

"Peter, you've seen our technology. We can build you one."

 

This time it was Alan who replied. "So all we have to do is wait here for a year or two while you and your companions prepare a "

 

"A year or two?" said Arthur, almost offended. "With the technology we have here? I'd say we could have an operational spacecraft for you within a couple of weeks."

 

Pete still looked sceptical

 

'Peter," said Arthur. "Believe me, we can do it. We only want to help you. We ask nothing in return."

 

Alan, however, had an idea. "But we may be able to give you something though," he said. Alan continued to elaborate. "If we could take a couple of books or something like that from you, something that proves what happens to Earth, we could persuade the president to do something about it. Perhaps we could make sure that this history never happens."

 

'By killing Cornelius, Zira, and Milo, I presume?" enquired Arthur with a hint of displeasure in his voice.

 

"I don't know. Maybe if we could just - I don't know, if we could just do something to make sure this history doesn't happen."

 

"But why?"

 

"To stop the apes, of course."

 

"The apes were not the problem. Man's downfall was caused by man."

 

"But you've read the books. Caesar's conquest -"

 

"Caesar was merely a catalyst. Mankind destroyed the Earth through his own stupidity. You've seen the world above us, Alan. Are you so sure that mankind deserves a second chance'

 

"Maybe. I mean, if we can convince the world of what's going to happen, perhaps humans would start to make a real effort. If they know that apes are going to -"

 

"I just wish I could have as much faith in man as you do, Alan " said Arthur sadly.

 

Pete broke in at this point. "You do realise, of course, that all this talk could be totally irrelevant. We may not even make it as far as the time warp or whatever it was. And even if we do, who's to say we won't be catapulted through time the wrong way? We may end up even further in the future. I mean, another thousand years and we may even end up without an Earth to land on. And even if we get it right, we could be killed in a crash landing!"

 

"I realise all this Pete," said Alan, "but I'm willing to risk all that if I can see my family again. And maybe even avert the disaster that's going to all but wipe out mankind."

 

Galen and Pete were both silent, before Arthur confirmed Pete's fears.

 

"He's right, Alan. The chances of you making it back to the Earth of your time period are pretty slim indeed. We're willing to help you, but only if you are prepared to risk it."

 

"I certainly am."

 

*****

 

Meanwhile, a gorilla sergeant was having a very serious conversation with one of his minions.

 

"The old city? What was he doing there?"

 

"I think he was looking into reports of two humans and an ape that were seen there. Apparently they may have been the fugitives wanted by the Ape Council. Galen, the ape's name was. I forget the humans' names."

 

"Virdon and Burke," replied the superior officer. "This is interesting. OK, I'm dispatching you to go travel to Central City. Find Urko. Tell him of the missing soldier and his quarry. He'll probably bring his best troops. You'd better notify Zaius and the members of the science council as well. Especially since we'll be going into one of the forbidden cities."

 

"Right away sir," said the lower officer.

 

"Who knows," he continued, "maybe if you catch one of them you'll get to keep part of him to add to your trophy collection."

 

The sergeant smiled. "What a pleasant thought."

 

 

 

Chapter 4

Homeward Bound

 

 

"I admit the controls aren't exactly the same as the kind of spacecraft you would have flown in, but they're certainly not completely different. I've shown you most of the major differences."'

 

Nobody replied to Arthur. The two astronauts and their ape friend just stood and stared. Right in front of them in the middle of the huge cave was a spaceship. A full-sized, fully operational, one hundred per cent genuine spaceship. They were speechless.

 

"Since you've acquainted yourself with most of the controls, and the flight plan has already been finalised, I'd guess you'll be ready to leave within a week."

 

Arthur pointed skyward to the large hole, disguised under the remains of the city, where the spaceship was eventually to be launched through.

 

"With luck, you may see your family again."

 

Alan allowed himself a slight smile at this thought, although part of him was still a little unsure.

 

 

******

 

 

A few days later, above ground, a troop of gorillas stopped next to the body of a horse which lay motionless by a ruined building. It was still tied to the budding with a rope. One of the gorillas got off his own horse and examined the bags, which lay next to the corpse.

 

It's his," said the soldier. "He must be around here somewhere."

 

Scouring the nearby area for signs of the missing soldier, one of the gorillas shouted.

 

"Over here! Over here!"

 

The rest of the band of gorillas came running to the source of the shout, accompanied by the few orang-utans from Central City.

 

The ape soldier who had made the shout leaned over the trapdoor and pulled it open.

 

"Look, sir," he said. "A tunnel. This must be it, surely. He must be here. What do you want us to do?"

 

The large gorilla thought about the matter for no more than a couple of seconds and then growled the order.

 

"Load your weapons and follow me."

 

Zaius sighed and shook his head as Urko led the troops down the deep tunnel.

 

 

*******

 

Galen was caught up in another matter.

 

"To tell you the truth, Alan," he said, "I'm not sure that any option is truly good for me. If I stay here with Arthur, I'll be totally isolated from my own kind. If I go above ground, I'll be alone, a fugitive from those whom I wish to live with. And if I go with you and Pete, I might not even survive. Judging by what happened to the previous apes who landed in your time, I'd probably not even survive even if we did make it back to your home."

 

Arthur interrupted.

 

"It's your choice," he said, "but I really feel your best option is to stay with us. But whatever you decide, I'd advise you to choose quickly. Your two friends are almost ready to leave."

 

Alan was about to thank Arthur, when he was interrupted by a voice coming from a radio in Arthur’s pocket.

 

"Sir, we have another intruder alert. Load your weapon and come quick!"

 

Arthur shot Alan a worried look, and then turned about and ran.

 

Pete, Alan, and Galen remained sitting in the spacecraft.

 

******

 

Arthur stood in a line of humans, all with guns in hand, and waited.

 

The wait seemed unbearably long. Arthur could feel his hands sweating, and he felt a bead of sweat run from the back of his hand down to the handle of his weapon. And then he heard the noises - it sounded like there was an entire army entering the city. Before his very eyes, a troop of gorillas appeared from the same tunnel which had brought the last visitors. Both parties raised weapons towards each other. Barely a word was spoken before the huge underground city was alive with the echoing sound of gunshots.

 

Alan, Pete and Galen stopped what they were doing immediately and looked at each other. Pete was the first to get up and rush toward the door of the spacecraft. He looked around until some abrupt movement caught his eye. He could see fighting. A band of apes - orang-utans and gorillas - were engaged in combat with humans of the city. All around them were scattered dead bodies - ape and human alike. Some of the humans began to flee as more apes appeared.

 

"My God! Alan - it's the apes! There must be an entire garrison here - and they're coming this way!"

 

Alan rushed to where his friend stood and watched the bloodshed get closer to them. The hangar in which the spacecraft was currently sitting was rapidly filling up with apes. As the three fugitives watched, Arthur rushed unsteadily towards them. He had a cut head, and blood was pouring from wounds in one of his shoulders and his right leg.

 

"Go now!" he shouted.

 

Before he had a chance to shout anything else, he was gunned down.

 

Alan looked at the ape who had fired the shots - it was Urko.

 

'We have to get out of here - sorry, Galen, it looks like you're coming with us."

 

Galen looked worried, but was forced to comply when he saw the ape army marching over human corpses towards the ship. And at that moment he made eye contact with Urko. The gorilla soldier shouted immediately.

 

"That's the fugitive, Galen! Get those animals NOW'

 

Alan and Pete began shutting the door, but Galen moved quickly into the entrance. By this time, Urko and the other apes were almost directly beneath him, several feet below.

 

"Galen, move, we have to…" began Pete.

 

"Sorry Pete. You know I can't go with you. I hope you both find your way home. Goodbye."

 

Alan and Pete both stared in disbelief as Galen threw himself from the spacecraft and straight towards Urko. The chimp landed on the gorilla, knocking the rifle from his hands. Galen gathered all his rage and energy and with one mighty movement snapped Urko's neck. The gorilla's lifeless body had not even hit the ground before Galen was upon another soldier. No sooner had he killed this ape than he began trying to fight his way towards Zaius. He never made it.

 

Alan and Pete saw Galen being shot down. Shocked into action, they shut the spacecraft door the remainder of the way and activated the seal. Immediately they were at the controls and preparing for take-off

 

They looked upwards towards the huge hole in the cavern above them, which Arthur's companions had made about a week ago, disguising it in the ruins of the city above their heads. The gorillas began pounding on the spacecraft wall. Alan and Pete looked at each other briefly. Although no words were spoken, they were both in total agreement. Galen's sacrifice would not be for nothing.

 

As the spacecraft ascended towards the opening which would take them skyward, neither of them looked back. If they had, they would have seen Galen, Urko, Zaius, and the rest of the apes being incinerated by the rocket flames.

 

 

Chapter 5

Discovery in Space

 

 

The spacecraft drifted for days, but the two astronauts hardly said a word. They both thought the friend the had made, and lost, in Galen. And for the first time in months, they thought of Jones, their companion who had been killed when they first arrived.

 

However, the silence was eventually broken when, straight ahead of them, they saw a strange object. It had no fixed shape, and the colour seemed to fluctuate wildly.

 

"What is that? It isn't showing on radar," said Alan.

 

"I'm guessing that could be what we're looking for," answered Pete.

 

"Then let's get in there."

 

Alan pushed the craft even faster, determined to get to the vortex, or spacewarp or whatever it was, as soon as possible. He needed to look at it - could it be that this strange glowing area in space could actually send him home?

 

As they drew closer to the object, Pete alerted Alan to a problem.

 

"Alan," he said, 'we're getting pulled in - I've lost navigational control!"

 

"Then why fight it?'

 

At that, Alan fired the rockets at full power, sending their tiny craft hurtling into the centre of the vortex. The craft felt like it was being torn apart, and the two astronauts began to feel dizzy. Their vision blurred, and both men collapsed into unconsciousness.

 

Chapter 6

Absent Friends

 

 

When the two astronauts awoke, they saw three figures in front of them. The first was a man who appeared to be slightly older than either Alan or Pete. He was wearing an astronaut's uniform, similar to the ones that Alan and Pete were issued with. Upon closer inspection, it became obvious that all three were wearing them. They couldn't make out the name of this first man, but it was obvious from his uniform that he was of reasonably high rank. Next to him stood a blonde female. Alan looked closely at her uniform and could make out the name on it - Stewart.

 

He didn't need to see the name of the third man - he recognised him immediately.

 

"Jones?' asked Alan.

 

"That's right, Alan. How did you find us?"

 

"We had this ship made by other humans, and we - but wait a minute. Where are we? You're supposed to be dead. Am I dreaming? The last thing I remember, we were entering a kind of vortex "

 

"That's correct, Alan,"said Jones. "You're still in the vortex. And it's alive. You're inside a living creature."

 

"But how can - I mean - hell, I don't know what I mean."

 

"This is a living being, Alan. By our idea of linear time, we were actually the third group of people to enter it - after Taylor's team, and then the good Captain's team."

 

At this, Jones gestured towards the other man, whom Alan didn't recognise - although he now guessed he was captain of Brent's recovery mission. The other man just smiled and nodded. Alan spoke again.

 

'MY our idea of ..."

 

"Linear time," said Jones, "but it doesn't happen like that in here. Time as you or I know it has no meaning. This being exists in a completely different way. Inside the creature, time is one. Today, yesterday, a million years ago - it doesn't matter. We can see it all."

 

"You can see it all? What do you mean? How can you exist here? You're dead."

 

"I know that, Alan. I know that because this creature killed me. But it was a small price to pay for the way I now exist. You have no idea what it feels like, Alan - I don't know if there's an afterlife, but this sure feels close to heaven. I can't describe it."

 

"But why did the creature kill you? And how can you be dead if I'm speaking to you? Am I dead?"

 

'No, Alan, you're not dead. Let me explain."

 

"Please do," said Alan.

 

"Think of what happens when you fan ill. You have foreign bacteria in your body, bacteria which you have to fight off. One way or another, you get rid of them whether it be by vomiting, or through surgery, or whatever. But your body still has to fight the infection. And when it's over, you feel weak. That's because you've used a lot of energy trying to fight the germs which have invaded your body. But of course for us, that problem's got an easy solution we can replace our energy by eating, or drinking. But there's no way to do that in space."

 

I still don't follow you," said Alan.

 

"To this creature, we are the foreign bacteria. But there is no way for the creature to replace the energy it has lost getting rid of us. So it takes energy from us. Every time one of our spaceships has come through here, the creature loses energy trying to rid itself of this gem and replaces it by taking energy from one of the passengers - sucking the very life out of their body. So our energy, and our minds and spirits, now exist inside this creature."

 

"But if it's just energy the creature needs, why take a human? The ships rockets store far more energy - "

 

"But not compatible energy. This being needs energy that sustains life - the kind of energy gained from an organic being. Feeding of the spacecraft would be like a human drinking petrol."

 

"So the people who survive - they get thrown out of here. And because of the nature of time within this creature, the time period in which they land is completely random?"

 

"Correct. Hence they travel in time."

 

"But wait a minute," said Alan, " Shouldn't there be another passenger here? One from the ape's flight? According to history, all the apes survived. Or at least survived until they reached the Earth anyway. Unless you're telling me that Milo's death was somehow a delayed action from - "

 

"No, no, no. The apes all survived."

 

"But how? You said yourself that one of the passengers’s dies every time, to replace the creature's lost energy. Why didn't that happen in this case?"

 

"Because the creature didn't get a chance to do it before being killed."

 

"Killed? How can -"

 

"Take a look," said Jones, and waved his hand.

 

Suddenly, Alan found himself staring into space, staring at the planet Earth. And then before his very eyes, the planet exploded. There was a blinding flash of fight. Alan tried to shut his eyes to shield them from the fight. When he opened them again, he was back on board the spacecraft, once again talking to Jones.

 

"What was that?" he asked.

 

"That was the end of the world. And of the creature."

 

"So when the gorillas destroyed - or will destroy - the Earth, this creature was - or is - killed."

 

"Yes. But not before the ape-o-nauts had been thrown back in time."

 

At this point, Jones changed the subject. "You know, you two are very lucky. You're the only two people to have actually been conscious while in this creature. What a sight you must -"

 

Alan interrupted after having a horrible realisation.

 

"Hold it," he said. "If everything you said is true, then either Pete or I will have to be killed. One of us will be taken!"

 

"One of us already has, Alan," said Pete's voice.

 

Alan turned to face him. Pete's body was lying dead in the chair next to him. But beside the body, stood Pete's figure, surrounded by the same glowing aura that surrounded the others who lived in the vortex.

 

'Pete? It's taken you?"

 

"Yeah. And I'm glad, Alan. It feels great. It's home, Alan. I'm finally home. I'm happy."

 

Alan paused briefly before speaking again.

 

"So I'm on my own."

 

"Yes. Sorry Alan. This is the way it has to happen," said Jones.

 

"But if I'm going to be sent into some other time zone, is there any possibility you could perhaps -"

 

He didn't need to say anything else. The four humans all smiled at each other and then spoke simultaneously.

 

"We'll see what we can do."

 

 

 

Chapter 7

A Final Gesture

 

 

Alan's spacecraft hurtled through space at tremendous speed. He looked at the readings in front of him, but the speed was off the scale. And then he realised he was nearing his destination.

 

He began to slow the craft down.

 

There, ahead of him was Earth. But was it the correct time? He would soon see.

 

He piloted the craft towards Earth. As he did so, he looked at Pete's lifeless body beside him.

 

"Here we go, buddy."

 

He began to speed up again, pushing the craft onwards to the exact position he wanted.

 

The interior of the spacecraft began to get warmer as he entered Earth's atmosphere. Alan began to search the skies, looking for the sign that would tell him he was in the correct time period. And then he saw it. Another spacecraft was heading towards Earth.

 

"God forgive me," whispered Alan to himself as he accelerated towards the other shuttle.

 

*****

Milo looked at the screen in front of him. He might be wrong. He must be wrong. He hoped he was wrong.

 

He decided not to say anything to Comelius or Zira, just in case. He didn't want to panic them. Nevertheless, if Milo was reading the screen properly, and he was sure he was, then there appeared to be another object coming towards them. A big, fast object.

 

The two spacecraft were only a few hundred feet above the water when they collided. Alan's spacecraft smashed straight through the front of the other one. Milo was killed instantly. Zira screamed. Cornelius tried to hold her, but the craft was shaken so much, it was impossible.

 

The two spacecraft, now locked together, plummeted downwards. Alan, seriously wounded and losing blood rapidly, looked at Pete's body.

 

"I think we did it, old friend."

 

Those were the last words spoken by any of the passengers before both ships hit the beach and exploded.

 

 

*****

 

The army helicopter which was approaching stopped and hovered around, waiting for the flames to die down.

 

 

 

Epilogue

The End of the Planet of the Apes

 

 

The two officers saluted each other the senior officer looked round at the burned wreckage on the shore.

 

'"Report," he said.

 

"Two humans - they appear to be astronauts Virdon and Burke. There also appears to be three apes - two males and a pregnant female. All five of them are dead."