CHAPTER 91: MISTER Hilary Goes To Town. Cilli: Alone again, naturally!
CHAPTER 92: Atlas Shrugged. He Was Bored.
CHAPTER 93: Secrets Revealed. The Past Returns
CHAPTER 94: Raining: Datsun Clogs
CHAPTER 95: Stranger in a Strange Band
CHAPTER 96: Jane Jane bo fane ba na na na fo fame fee fi fo fein ane: Jane!
CHAPTER 97: The Door Into Summersville
to be continued...
CHAPTER 91: MISTER Hilary Goes To Town.
Cilli: Alone again, naturally!
Several times during their treacherous ascent from the flooded underworld Hillie Billman had to rescue Ward Cleaver. How that bumbling incompetent had managed to land a position as a superhero's sidekick was the $64,000,000 (inflation) question.
After one fall by the Cantonese wannabe, Cilli had leaned close to her husband's ear: "Can't we just leave him? He's frightened Vanilli."
"That child can take care of herself," Billman said. "All my girls know the Hindkick Maneuver. As for the nutty Chinese guy, we may need this lunkhead at some point."
The point was not far off. Billman located a crack in the rock which led them into a storm sewer. Splay-Toe worked well as a step-stool to reach the manhole cover over head. After lifting his family out, the Canuck West Virginian seriously considered sliding the manhole cover in place and leaving the irritating Cleaver in the dark. Then realized that condition was perpetual with the poor creature therefore the ever practical Hillie decided that if Splay-Toe had been handy once, he might be useful again.
As the grateful Splay-Toe clung to his peg leg, giving profuse thanks, Billman looked around. So much of Los Angeles had been destroyed! Hillie did not recognize where they were, but he did spy something that put a quick step to his leather and wood stride. Patting his pockets, Hillie cursed. "Anybody got a dime?"
No one, except Splay-Toe did. As Hillie shoved the coin into the pay phone, he was glad he had not abandoned the useless Cleaver.
"Hello? Hello-- Can you speak up? I've got a bad connection." Billman, standing at the skewed and blackened phone booth, tried to get the operator to understand. "I need a cab... Yes... a cab... What? Damn noise! No, they call me MISTER Hilary Bill..." Hillie suddenly pulled the phone away from his ear, puzzled by the excited buzzing from the handset.
"I don't get it, dear," he said to his patient wife, "I just mentioned my name and the operator went nuts!"
Before Cilli could respond, Billman, the children and the forlorn Splay-Toe were astounded by the abrupt appearance of two helicopters overhead. More astonishing, one landed in the street. Three men in dark suits with narrow black ties, narrow-brimmed hats and suspicious bulges under their left armpits quickly approached.
"MISTER Hilary?" the lead man inquired, looking at Cilli.
"That's me," Hillie spoke. "What's this all about?"
The man's expression did not change. "You're wanted home, MISTER Hilary."
"Home? It's been burned down!"
"Surely you jest. Have these people molested you, MISTER Hilary?"
"What? No. Not at all. Hey, where are you taking me?" Billman cried as two men gently, but firmly escorted the peg-legged Hillie to the waiting helicopter.
"To the White House," the leader responded with a respectful monotone. "Your husband can't decide if he should invade Guatemala or Quebec."
"Hillie!" Cilli Billman cried. "You come back right now!"
The distraught wife's plea went unheard as the helicopter's powerful engine revved. The aircraft took off, raising a cloud of ash and soot. Seconds later Cilli Billman, her children, and Splay-Toe were alone in the savage wastelands of deserted Los Angeles.
"Just like a man," Mrs. Billman scowled. "Making plans and not including the family! Well, Hilary Billman, I've just about had enough! Come, children!"
"Mrs. Billman!" Splay-Toe wailed--again without an authority figure upon which to heap his devotion. "What about me?"
Cecila was not as forgiving as her harpoon-carrying husband. "We do not need you, Splay-Toe. Go bother someone else."
Splay-Toe looked around, his hands held in helpless supplication. "Who? We're the only ones left."
Cilli glanced around, noticing the austere and barren landscape as if for the first time. It was as dry as the dead sea bottoms of Mars. The ersatz Chinaman's eyes produced the only moisture in sight. Vanilli leaned to her mother and said, "I can take care of myself."
With a heavy sigh Cilli nodded. "You can come, Splay-Toe, as long as you behave yourself."
"Yes, missy! Vely good, missy! You no solly humble Splay-Toe along!"
"Lead the way," Cilli said. "Just pick a direction and go!" she added when the creature looked askance.
Wending through the burned out shells of residences which might have been the Barrio or Beverly Hills for all they could tell, the small group hurried toward their unknown destination.
CHAPTER 92: Atlas Shrugged. He Was Bored.
After the terrible explosions which had rocked the submarine Naughtyass there had been screams and terror in the corridor outside Dee Dee Morris' prison. In a very short time silence followed, punctuated by occasional groans in the metal hull. The girl sensed by intuition rather than empirical proof that the vessel had been severely injured and was sinking into the abyss of the underground ocean.
Water seeped into the steel locker past the gasketed door with agonizing slowness. Dee Dee Morris cringed as the cold water crept up her curvaceous legs. At the hem of her skirt the poor girl began praying, something heroines do in Edgar Nyce stories, even if it was only lip service to further the plot.
"Oh Lord, don't you buy me a Mercedes Bentz. Who cares about Porches when life's about to end? I've worked hard all my lifetime, any means to that end. Oh Lord, don't you buy me a Mercedes Bentz."
Dee Dee was into her second chorus when the seal on the locker door began to fail. Water rushed in with appalling rapidity. Terrified, Dee Dee screamed, then changed her mind and filled her lungs with air. She wasn't going to drown stupidly, though she had no doubts of the eventual outcome.
The water completely filled the compartment. Perversely, the electric lights continued to work in the murky water. Dee almost screamed again as a fearsome apparition appeared in the now open doorway. For a moment she struggled against the creature as it tried to put a suction cup over her face--then realized it was the breathing mask attached to a scuba tank!
Drawing grateful breath, the princess of bars tried to make out the face of her rescuer. Her vision was hampered by the cloudy water, but it was a man who took her arm and pulled her out of the locker. Dee Dee offered no resistance to her savior as he towed her through the flooded submarine. The journey was a nightmare of confused images, a stairwell, a hatch, then another hatch and they were outside! As they rose to the surface Dee looked down to see the malevolent hulk of the Naughtyass sliding into the black depths.
They reached the surface moments later. Tearing the mask from her face, Dee Dee Morris gulped down lungfuls of air. "Thank you Lord!" she cried.
"Bland," the man beside said. "The name is Bland. Ned Bland."
"You!" Startled, the woman blurted her inner feelings without thinking. "You vile creature! You bastard! You defiler of women! Still, thank you for saving my life."
"Listen, you silly dame, I've been a captive on the Naughtyass since Captain No'mo fished me out of the Pacific after my little smuggler's boat broke up in a storm."
"A smuggler! Carrying drugs into America. How despicable!"
"Parrots," the man replied, turning surly. "I smuggled birds. I know it's illegal, but damn, girl, I'm no drug runner. Or at least I wasn't until I had to talk fast to keep No'mo from murdering me. I'm headed for that island over there. You can do whatever you like."
Chastened by the man's outburst, Dee Dee treaded water momentarily. Contrite, she soon followed. On shore Dee wrung water from her long hair and apologized. "I was out of line back there," she said. "I do thank you for saving my life."
"Aw... forget it. Let's get off this beach. I don't like the looks of things."
A hundred feet inland they found a clear water pool at the base of a high, black escarpment. The man and womanl lsise flkeu fs;les ;le;lp4e0-spelkjsefh lkdsfj elheleivl lsei-
Elske kls E! sllu spo e0-kl s! lks .. ??? lksj l???? Ahhhhhhhh hhh hh hhhhh! SSSSSSsssss tttttt iiiiil llllll ll LLLLLliiiii iii vvvvvvvvv eeeee!!!! Erk! Ugh! Phoop! Foom! Flash!
"So, Tangor, you thought Tang-Gor could be so easily disposed of? You foolish human! I have acquired powers of recuperation granted by the dense atmosphere of this barbaric planet you call Mama Urth! I have reformed, reintegrated, reappeared, and I am more powerful than ever because of that incredible substance Oregano which combined with my atoms while I was in a gaseous state! You cannot control me, now, puny creature! I am more puissant than even the mighty Monitor of Betatuna. I have taken control of your keyboard and soon I will take control of your insignificant brain. My thoughts will be your thoughts. My will shall be your will. And my will is that..."
Dee Dee looked on with horror as the two men fought. They were as jungle beasts in their violence. The growling sounds emanating from human throats terrified her. As they grappled each tried to sink teeth into the straining neck of the other. Thrashing about savagely, Ned Bland and the mad stranger clad in yellow tatters carried their fight across the clearing and into the jungle beyond. After what the dastardly Ned had attempted at the pool, the woman felt no remorse running in the opposite direction.
Wanting only to get far away from the titanic battle behind her, and continuously looking over her shoulder to see if there was any pursuit, Dee Dee failed to watch her fore trail carefully. She ran smack into a tall, wet body which immediately entrapped her in muscular arms. She was too tired to scream.
"I see you came running back to me, baby," Dan Darter grinned. "So good to see you again."
"Let me go."
"You'll just run away."
"No," she said with a weary sigh, "I won't."
Darter did, she was limp and heavy in his arms.
Dee kicked off her sensible black shoes which had somehow remained with her during the recent trials and tribulations. The stocking on her left leg was quickly removed, followed by the right. The hook to the waistband of the black skirt was undone, the short zipper unzipped. The wet fabric was pushed down over hourglass hips to fall at her feet. Dee stepped out and began removing her blouse. Next came the straining bra and French cut panties. Her well-formed body was naked to Darter's view. The woman's form was stupendous, no other woman on earth was more perfect in conformation.
"Take me, Dan."
"What?" Darter did a double take. "Have you taken leave of your senses?"
"Just get it over with," Dee Dee demanded. "I'm tired of all the crap and kidnapping and threats and leers and ogling. Have your way and be done with it. I'm too tired to care anymore."
Dan Darter, the woman of his dreams naked and consenting before him, could not believe the turn of events. A lecherous smile twisted his rugged features. He took an anticipatory step toward the woman. She did not flinch. She did not, in fact, show any emotion whatsoever. Darter's brow drew together.
At his touch she stood immobile. As he pressed her unresisting body to his, she said nothing. When he bent to place hot kisses on her ivory throat, Dee ignored it. Though his hands explored her smooth skin, no response was forthcoming.
Darter drew back, a trifle angry. "Hey."
"Hey what?" the forlorn girl replied.
"I could use a little help here, you know."
Dee Dee scowled. "You certainly didn't need any help before, you brute."
Darter lowered his eyes. "That's different. We've never gotten this far before."
"I've gotten nowhere," the woman responded. "Well? Isn't this what you wanted?"
"Sure. I mean, yes. I've wanted you all along, Dee Dee."
"You have me. Get it over with."
"But you don't understand."
Darter's face burned crimson as a confession was painfully made. "I--I need... well, I need a little help here."
"Huh?" For the first time in long moments, Dee Dee Morris looked directly at her recurring and obnoxious suitor. It was astonishing to hear the mighty Dan Darter stammer like a schoolboy!
"It's just a case of performance anxiety," Darter revealed. "I need you to talk to me. That's all."
"Talk? That's all I've been doing for years, Dan Darter. Talking--telling you 'no' with every other breath. I suppose you want sweet nothings whispered in your ear, or some slutty bedroom chatter to flatter your male ego."
"That would help!" Darter said hopefully.
"Forget it." Dee picked up her panties and stepped into them. The garter belt was next, then stockings, skirt, bra, blouse, and shoes. "You're pitiful, Dan Darter!" Dee cried. "Don't you ever, ever, EVER try anything with me again or I'll talk your ego into a hole so deep the only way you'll see daylight again is to keep digging for China! You hear me you miserable creep?"
Angry, Dee Dee Morris stamped her little foot.
The ground gave way beneath the two.
As she fell, Dee Dee Morris thought to herself: "I've got to quit doing that!"
CHAPTER 93: Secrets Revealed. The Past Returns
Bertie picked up the nearest thing, a manure shovel of ancient design, and stood over her unconscious man prepared to defend them both against the mysterious intruder. "Come near us and I'll brain you!" Ketchum cried.
"Put that away, Miss!" a commanding voice replied. "I mean you no harm." The massive figure stepped from the underbrush, which had given him a shaggy appearance. He was a powerful figure in a tight suit with a maple leaf on his chest. Inexplicably a wind from nowhere rose to flutter the cape on his shoulders. It was a chill wind that gave naked Bertie goosebumps.
"I am Captain Canuck here to rescue you and the mighty Ratnaz."
"You look like a fugitive from a Superman impostors convention."
"Alas," the heroic Canuck replied, "that is ever the response caped crusaders receive. Nonetheless, Ms Ketchum, I have been sent to offer aid and assistance by one who has only your best interests at heart."
"Who? I didn't know we had any friends left."
"I dunno," Bertie scowled. "Ed's been awful mean to Ratnaz recently."
"Most likely due to pressures resulting from Brace Bozhart's attempts to destroy Mr. Nyce. I suggest to you," the Canadian offered in tones usually found in higher quality comic books, "that Edgar Nyce is less enemy of Ratnaz than the villainous Bozhart."
"You got a point. Give me a minute." Bertie knelt beside the unconscious man and patted his cheek. "Ratz? Honey? Wake up, baby. Come on, now. That's a good boy!"
"What's going on?" Ratz rubbed his head. "Man, I need ta see a neurologist. Must have a tumor or sumthin'. Oh! Hey, Dilbert!"
Captain Canuck put a finger to his lips and went "Shhhh! I do not go by that name any longer."
"Really? Did they finally fire ya? Like the snazzy new threads! What, Bertie?"
The girl had been tugging at her panties, which were severely wedged between the Lord of the Leaves broad cheeks. "Oh, never mind," Bertie sighed, "they're stuck." She stepped into Ratnaz's discarded undies. "Okay, Captain Chuck, let's go."
"Whatever. Here, Ratz, hold my hand."
Dilbert--Captain Canuck--led the couple outside the broken down goat shed. A short walk through the trees brought them to a Jeep Wrangler. "In you go," the caped hero said.
A 40 minute drive, including a ferry off the island, brought them to the underground bunker which housed the Nyce headquarters. Bertie, Ratz and Dilbert entered the main room.
"I've had a hell of a time locating you," Nyce said by way of greeting. Instead of offering his hand, he offered a tall Ratnaz Special. "Hello, Bertie, long time no see, and what I see now I've never seen before. You're quite a looker."
"Pompous old fart," was Bertie's reply.
Nyce ignored the compliment. "Ratz, I want you and your girlfriend to have a shower, food, a little sleep if you need it. We have much work to do if we are going to destroy Bozhart before he destroys us."
Ratz, feeling more human after consuming half a Ratnaz Special, said, "That's all you ever do, Ed. Death, destruction. Worlds in jeopardy. Women in peril. Blood by the millions of gallons. Don't you believe in peace, prosperity and picket fences?"
"I expected a little resistance, old fellow," Nyce puffed furiously on his cigarette. "Here, read this again and tell me I'm wrong."
Nyce tossed the damning diary toward the Lord of the Leaves. The wild man's coordination was a bit off, considering his long hardships and the effects of the triple Ratnaz Special. The book fell to the floor. Ratz bent to pick it up, scowling, but as he came erect again, he saw a new fellow enter the room.
At that moment something snapped in the Lord of the Leaves' memory. That face, the aristocratic sneering visage of Devon McGuinness restored memories lost in an airplane crash which had left the young Ratnaz abandoned in the jungle.
"You!" Ratnaz dropped both book and glass. His powerful fingers curled into talons. "I remember you putting on a parachute. You jumped out of the plane, intending that I, the rightful heir of the Greatstroke fortune, would perish! I survived, at great hardship and embarrassment, but you, my cousin, will die the death that even pulp authors cannot negate!"
With that statement, the enraged Ratnaz launched himself at his old enemy.
CHAPTER 94: Raining: Datsun Clogs --Tangor
Herlock Cabyns noticed the gathering clouds above the new inland sea. "It appears a storm is brewing."
Zany Grany squinted into the sun before it was obscured. "Yep. Come on, gents. What with the fire, the earthquake and the flood, any rain we gets likely ta wash us out ta sea."
Grany led the Englishmen away from the quiet grass lined brook toward a distant house nestled under a thick canopy of trees. "I'll tell ya the next part of the story as we go," Grany said.
Query: Are Fairy Tales Real?
David Bruce Bozarth (Zany Pseudonym)
Zela looked at me, attentive, ready to respond to any demand I might wish of her. I grinned, stopping, my hands on her lovely shoulders. "Are we fairly safe from the Agavin right now?"
"Yes, I would say so," Zela said.
"Then we'll try a little of the old in and out, my dear. You are the most incredibly beautiful woman I have ever seen."
I took her in my arms and Zela responded eagerly. We joined in a frenzy of mutual desire and it was heavenly. I never had it so good. I couldn't seem to control myself. It was so wonderful, so intense, so constant. I felt I was being drained by her pulsating warmth. Zela clung to me, making little satisfied moans, apparently unable to get enough.
I became concerned when my body complained of the continuous drain. Concern turned to alarm as I noticed a strange lassitude, a weakness growing by the minute. I nearly had to fight free of Zela's clutching embrace and, when I pulled away from her delicious warmth and looked down at my limp member I was shocked to see a thin sheen of blood there--my blood!
"What the hell?" I shook with sudden apprehension, my body trembling with weakness caused, no doubt, by the abrupt blood loss. I looked to Zela, still lying on the ground with glazed eyes, and noted the high flush on her cheeks, the fullness of her body, the way her pink tongue licked her lips!
Her husky voice was a melody of desire. "No man has ever given so much to me before!" She sighed, replete and contented. She looked six pounds heavier. I could guess how she acquired it, which caused me too look upon Zela with horror. Her next words were filled with tender love. "Are all the men of your world so strong, so willing to give?"
"Once!" I cried, backing away. "We may be horny bastards, but we're not totally stupid. What did you do to me?"
"Sir Christopher," she sat up, more agile and alert than ever before. "I do not understand your question. You know what we did."
"I know what I thought we were going to do, but apparently the rules are a little different over here. Did you just relieve me of some blood?"
"About two and a half pints I would guess. Thank you so very much!"
Holy horrors! I would have run screaming in terror, but I lacked the strength. Zelandriakofornia was a vampire--a sex vampire. "Do you bite necks as well?"
"Why would I bite you?" her tone was quizzical, mystified.
"Nothing, Zela." I was suddenly very thirsty. I knew I'd also be hungry. Two and a half pints of blood was nothing to sneeze at. That's a hell of a lot of blood to lose in one session.
"Is this sort of thing going to happen every time we have sex, Zela?"
Confusion gave way to bewilderment. "It's the nature of life, Sir Christopher. In return for our total obedience, the man provides, though most would not provide so generously."
"You can be assured--" I started to tell her it would never happen again, then realized Zela was my only link back home. It might not be a good idea to piss her off. "My surprise is due to the innate differences between your world and mine, Zela. Do you--"
What a minute, I told myself. Don't throw gasoline on a burning fire because it's the only liquid you have. Remember what she said, "Total obedience, dear. Zela, we shall not have sex again until I say so. Understood?"
"Yes, Sir Christopher," she promised, a forlorn pout marring her lovely lips.
I had to amend my statement just to put a smile back on her face. "What I mean to say, Zela, is it takes some time for a man of my world to regain his desire. My generosity is due to the long periods of abstinence which my fellow men and I suffer between such wonderful copulation as we just enjoyed."
Her face brightened, the unhappiness vanished. She rolled across the grass and leaned against my chest, her massive breasts soft against my skin, her arms about my neck. "I will obey, Sir Christopher." She kissed me again and I lost the other pair of socks.
Zelandriakofornia might be a vampire of the most unusual sort, but she surely made blood donating a unique and sensual experience. I began to understand why her race managed to survive. Any man would take a chance on loosing a little blood just to repeat the mind-numbing experience. In fact, I felt an ominous (for me) twitch of renewed desire rising between my legs and I gently pushed Zela away before the gonads over-rode my normally impeccable common sense.
"You must obey me, Zela. Turn off the charm and give me a little breathing space..."
Though she was reluctant to move, Zela did so, once again displaying that unbelievable fact: women of this world cheerfully obeyed, the explicitly submissive servants of men. This was such a change from the manner of my life up until this moment that I couldn't dare hope there were no other surprises in store.
"Hungry, sir knight?" Zela asked. "Or are you not as other men and do not require immediate sustenance after sex?"
She was still licking her lips, damn it! "Food-yes," I said. After all, beer and bar nuts only go so far toward satisfying the inner man. I looked around the small clearing in the midst of the bristly bottle-brush trees. "What's edible?"
"A moment, Sir Christopher."
Zelandriakofornia rolled to her feet, rising in one fluid motion. She went to the base of one tree and knelt, digging into the soil with strong, conical shaped fingers. In a few moments she had unearthed a number of tuber-like roots, which she stacked by her knee.
I took one, eyeing it warily, as she sat down and commenced to gnaw another root with her beautiful teeth. "What is it?" I asked, sniffing the chalk white interior after snapping the root in half. There was no odor.
"'Tree root'," she replied. "It's quite tasteless and thoroughly disgusting, but it is high in nutritional value and," she added with an engaging grin, "there's nothing else available at the moment."
Zelandriakofornia's entrancing eyebrows knit together. I imagined that there were times she wondered if her white knight was playing with a full deck. "Do you not consume tree roots on your world, Sir Christopher?"
As I could not say yes or no to the question, personally never having gnawed on maples or elms myself, I chose not to respond by taking a bite out of the tree root. It was, as advertised, thoroughly bland and unappealing, but it did fill the emptiness in my middle and chomping on the fibrous material gave me time to come to terms with the various startling concepts I'd encountered since Zela's first kiss.
One, a nubile naked nymph dressed in a nimbus of blue light appears from nowhere and zaps me from one existence to another. Two, I experience the delights of body transformation, along with the accompanying terror of never being able to return to my original form. Three, I get more exercise in hours than I usually do in a month. Four, the delightful nymph proclaims complete obedience to my every whim. Five, her eager, erotic response to such a suggestion makes me a happy man. Six, discovery that such incredible pleasure has such an incredible price tag leaves me doubting my own sanity. And, lastly, I wondered if MacDonald's or Burger King would be considered four star restaurants if the average meal consisted of "tree roots".
Apparently, by some unguessable process, I was selected and recruited by the lovely little demon who sat opposite me. A rescue mission lay ahead and then--what? I put the question to Zelandriakofornia.
"Then we shall send you back to your own world, Sir Christopher."
"Oh, Rent-a-Knight, I guess. Tell me, Zela, what makes Princess Tee'an'a so special? I am curious, you see, considering that unusual side effect women of this world bring into the conjugal embrace."
"We are not all vampires, Sir Christopher--"
"Please, Zee, shorten it down to 'Chris'."
"As you command...Chris. As I was saying, not all women are vampires. There are a very few, usually of royal blood, without my particular biological needs. They are, of course, highly prized by men, though I cannot fathom why. It is common knowledge that masters or husbands say that making love to such women is like embracing cold fish; however, the men seem more than satisfied to accept such short-comings. Men are such eccentric creatures."
I started to tell Zelandriakofornia that death by pleasure wasn't quite as appealing as she might think, but my little vampirix was such a sweet kid, all things considered, that I kept that thought to myself. I switched subjects. "Tell me, Zela, can I get killed doing this little mission?"
"'Tis a near certainty, sir knight," she replied, the smile disappearing, replaced with a pensive frown. "T'would be a great shame for one so generous as yourself." She heaved a tremulous sigh, which caused her luscious breasts to jiggle enticingly.
I quickly diverted my attention back to her face where there was less danger in giving her the impression that I was "ready" for another close encounter simply because my gonads didn't have the sense given to gnats.
I looked up the sky, barely visible between the interlaced bristles of the bottle brush trees, and instantly regretted it. My stomach churned something terrible when I saw the pink swirls inter-mixed with fuchsia and magenta. "Is it always like this?" I jerked my thumb upwards, praying the tree root I'd eaten wouldn't come back to visit me. "What gives with the sky, Zela? It looks like a painter's palette--a mad painter's palette."
"'Tis nothing, Sir Chris. It only represents the imbalance in our world when great magic is in force, such as that which brought you here."
"Oh--usually blue skies and sunshine except when arcane incantations are used? Tell me, Zee, don't you think that's going to make my job a little more difficult? After all, dear, Lord Iwanit and Wizard Wewil Ewinkee ought to know about things like that."
"Most certainly they would, Sir--" she paused when I narrowed my eyes with displeasure "--Chris. Lord Iwanit is a magician of no mean talent himself."
"I have the sinking feeling that you mean that as 'cracker-jack' and not an indication of his emotional stability. Can you tell me a little more about how I'm expected to do what I'm supposed to do?"
Zelandriakofornia lowered her lovely violet eyes with a blush. "T'would not be fair, sir knight. T'would be against the rules of fair play amongst magicians."
"Oh--" I scowled. "It's okay for them to have rules as long as the pawns suffer? I don't think that's very fair, Zelandriakofornia."
"'Tis not supposed to be, Chris," Zela pouted, moving closer. "In all honesty, sir knight, I would gladly tell you if only I knew what powers you might face, but I am just a lowly serving girl who was selected by others to find you and bring you to a certain place near the Opal Tower where others would give you final instructions." Zelandriakofornia's lip quivered, afraid I was angry with her.
I was, but I couldn't stay that way. Against my better judgement I opened my arms and, with a girlish giggle, Zelandriakofornia snuggled her deliciously dangerous body against mine. Her pert bottom wiggled on my lap and I gently shook my finger in her face. "None of the you-know-what, Zee."
She nodded solemnly, then erotically sucked the end of my appendage. I felt an instant response in my groin and had to fight myself to keep from slapping her away. Zee didn't bite, nor did she pout when I pulled my finger from her pursed lips. I examined it in the shifting light, reflections of the convoluted sky above, and felt somewhat reassured when I discovered no damage or blood loss. Apparently women of this world actually did as they were told. (Dummy, I already knew that!) Hey! Maybe I could work that to my advantage!
"I want you to send me back where I came from and tender my apologies to Princess Tee'an'a, King Ulf Usal and extend my regrets to Lord Iwanit for being unable to participate in world events. That's an order---" I added with as much firmness as I could muster in the face of her gut-aching beauty.
"That's impossible, Chris," Zelandriakofornia moaned, fighting tears and fears. "I would gladly do as you command, but I have only a part of the spell. The rest will come after you have accomplished the task before you. Do you understand this, O Knight?"
I could see the poor girl was torn between the desire to obey and the impossibility of doing so. Understanding the truth behind her heart ache, I nodded regretfully. "So, when do we get started. There's a girl waiting for me back home..."
As soon as I said that, I realized I didn't care if Avon waited forever. Despite the dangers to health and sanity, I found myself completely intrigued with the warm bundle in my arms. I wondered if that flaw in judgement was part of the fascination that mice displayed when they viewed snakes before they were devoured. I certainly couldn't help myself regarding Zelandriakofornia.
Zela tried to answer my questions as best she could. It appeared she wasn't exactly all that well informed about the task, or the land, or the powers which decreed that we two were the last hope of the kidnapped princess.
"So," I said, summing up our conversation, "once we arrive in Igathat we go over the river and through the Woulds to Gran Mathers' house we go?" I asked her to spell Woulds and it was W-O-U-L-D-S. "And who is Gran Mathers?"
"I do not know, Chris."
"The Stairs. They are the last obstacle."
"The Stairs? How much trouble can a flight of stairs be?" Bad question, one that wouldn't be answered until we got there. By then, however, it was too late to run for cover. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Oh, by the way, since you are reading this first person manuscript, you've probably figured out that I survive this adventure, but I'm not going to spoil it by telling you how at this point.
At any rate Zee and me got going. The bottle brush trees marched up slope with us for a zillion yards or so, then started to be replaced with tightly packed copses of brush that looked like they were decorated in preparation for a Tupperware party. I swear some of the plants had leaves that looked like those little snap lids with the air freshness seal while others bore fruit that appeared to be an assortment of freezer-safe containers ranging from pint to one gallon sizes. They even felt like Tupperware.
"Only problem with these," I said to Zelandriakofornia as I tried to place a "lid" on a "container" I'd plucked while passing, "is they don't come with lids that fit."
"Of course not, Chris, those grow in the heights. Once a year the people come down from the mountains and trade with the people of the lowlands. It's a big annual bazaar where everyone comes and makes things whole and have a good time." She swiveled her hips suggestively, licking her full lips.
"Once a year?" I cleared my throat, suddenly understanding. "Is that how often you get some, Zela?" Her pout was so pretty I wanted to kiss it away, but I managed to keep control.
"Yes," she replied with a forlorn sigh.
"Then you've already had twice as much as usual, right?" She nodded again, head drooping between her shoulders as we walked through the Tupperware forest.
I tossed the useless bottom to one side and sent the lid spinning like a Frisbee. What good is a Tupperware bottom without a lid to keep in the freshness? Besides which, the only food I'd seen was tree root and that didn't need anything to keep it fresh.
I felt like a heel, though. Just because women here didn't have any freedom of choice didn't mean they weren't as horny as the girls back home. If anything, they were more so, and thoroughly honest about it, too. Back home I'd probably be taking a chance with any woman, who usually turned out to a man-eater, so why should it be any different here?
"Sorry," I apologized. "I didn't mean to make you feel bad."
"You could never do that," Zela confided. Her smile came back as she shivered with delicious memory. "You've made me happier than any woman since the beginning of time. You're very wonderful."
"Flattery might get you somewhere," I muttered under my breath, "but don't count on it." Louder, I said, "How much farther do we have to go? I'm getting tired."
"Long and long," Zelandriakofornia told me.
When she didn't elaborate, or stop, I sighed. "How long is 'long and long'?"
"As long as it takes, Chris." She looked into my eyes, her arm brushing against mine as we walked. "Do you wish to stop?"
"I think we're going to have to, Zela," I admitted, my eyes so heavy I felt I was going blind. Surprisingly I wasn't all that hungry though we'd walked perhaps twenty miles since coming ashore.
"There's a small valley up ahead," she told me. "We can sleep there. There's plenty of ash and rowan berries, and running water."
"So?" I asked as we turned our steps in that direction. "What's an expensive wood veneer, tiny berries, and potable liquid have to do with the shape of things to come?"
"Protection against magic, sir knight. We shall sleep undisturbed."
Oh--magic. Once again with the magic! "Does it ever get dark around here?"
"Oh, yes. If you'll look, you'll see the sky is less troubled." She gestured with a slim, sexy hand. "In a few hours all will be back to normal, until you leave that is, then we'll have kaleidoscope skies again."
"Okay--" I shrugged my shoulders. I gave up trying to understand something as foreign to me as chicken with teeth and racing snails. "I'll take your word for it."
Zelandriakofornia's smile was reassuring and, as promised, we came to the rim of a valley. It was actually a cut traversing the base of a geologic uplift, an escarpment, that formed a hem for a series of highlands rising into the far distance. How far it extended was impossible to tell, the purple mountain's majesty above the fruited plain was hidden by the purple and indigo bands making up the "night" sky.
Zee led the way down slope then we walked along the bank of a wide, placid stream. She rejected several spots that I considered suitable for a night camp, then clapped her hands with delight when we came upon a grass and bush topped island about the size of three king-size mattresses pushed together. The water came up to our waists as we waded across and, before stepping onto the island, we took time to bathe and drink our fill.
Zelandriakofornia displayed her woodcraft talents by assembling a warm, comfy bed out of grasses and leaves stripped from the bushes. I appreciated her efforts as I lay down, weary to the world. Zela made a bed for herself, though there wasn't as much material left to do so.
"Hey, Zee," I said.
"You can sleep with me."
Zee's face glowed with delight as she dropped the handful of grass and abandoned her bed making. She knelt down, a lovely vision of grace and beauty, then paused when I raised a warning finger.
"No hanky panky or I spanky," I said.
"Yes, Christopher," she beamed, snuggling close, her breasts warm against my side, her arm across my chest.
"I might be more comfortable if you let me pillow my head on your shoulder--"
"Oh--by all means! How thoughtless of me!"
Actually, after she settled down, I discovered I enjoyed the feel of her silken hair on my shoulder, the pleasant weight of her leg over mine, the innocence of her embrace. I looked down at her closed eyes, marveling at Zelandriakofornia's beauty. It was a damn shame she wasn't just your usual run of the mill ball-breaker. Having a good time with Zelandriakofornia was a slow form of pleasant suicide.
Caught with my thoughts hanging out again, I noticed it was night. There were stars in the sky and a lovely moon. They didn't look like anything I'd seen back home, but then again, I never expected they would. If this was a practical joke, it was too elaborate, too damn real.
"I'll figure it out in the morning," I sighed, closing my eyes.
Inside the comfortable southwestern style abode Zany Grany sent his burros to their bedroom which doubled as a barn. "Drink, gents? All that talkin' makes a man mighty dry."
"Port, if you have it," Cabyns replied, "a dry sherry if not. Datsun does not imbibe."
That worthy scowled at his friend. "I believe I'll have one of your American beers, sir."
Cabyns merely arched an expressive brow at the good doctor's unusual request.
Grany returned from the modern kitchen with a frozen beer stein for Datsun, a stem glass for Cabyns and an old fashioned for himself. Settling on the worn cowhide divan the old writer prospector kicked off dusty boots and propped religious (ie holey) sock-clad feet on a battered coffee table. "Been a long day fer you fellers, eh?"
Cabyns cautiously sat on a three-legged stool of dubious ancestry. "That is an understatement, sir." After sipping his port, Cabyns' opinion of the rough-edged westerner rose quite favorably. "What do you know about the various mysterious happenings as related to Edgar Nice, his burro, Rolph Rathmind, Brace Bozhart and several other fellows claiming to be Bozhart."
"Cabyns!" Datsun exclaimed. He had been looking through the 12" vinyl record collection of Zany Grany. "Music of the Germanic Mid-West! Look at that cover! The last time we saw wooden shoes was Amsterdam."
"Rotterdam and be damned, old friend. I am having a chat with the inestimable Mr. Grany. Do please contain yourself."
Red-faced, the rotund Dr. Datsun harrumphed and snorted.
Grany chuckled. "Don't ya mind yer intense friend, Datsun. Put that platter on if'n ya like. A little mood music might be appropriate."
Delighted, Datsun did that very thing and within seconds the room will filled with an energetic rendition that put toes to tapping and lightened spirits even as the sun disappeared completely. Rain began to hit the roof and dripped onto the dusty windows, momentarily obscuring them as the dust became mud.
Ignoring Datsun, Cabyns attempted to continue his conversation with Grany. "This tale you spin, I presume it is allegorical in some manner?"
"Yer durn tootin', sonny boy! Say, that weather sure looks bad out there. It's raining..."
"And Datsun clogs. Do you think the reader apprehended the pun more readily simply because it was used twice?"
"Whether they did or ain't ain't the issue," Grany replied, looking a little worried as the rainfall became a torrent. "That's my cat and dog out there in the rain on that broken old wagon. Hang onta this, sonny. I'll be rite back."
Cabyns held the old fashioned in one hand and the port in the other as he watched the old timer wade across the front yard. Grany picked up both animals and was halfway back when a flash flood swept the man and his pets away. The shocked Englishman could barely drop his jaw to call to Datsun when a fantastic vision of a bare-bottomed girl hanging ten on a red rooster-shaped surf board passed by on a high crest. He thought the woman shouted "Kowabonga!" before passing into the pines.
CHAPTER 95: Stranger in a Strange Band --Tangor
Brace Bozhart's yellow Camaro came to a screeching halt at the end of the driveway leading to the Tappan Range Chick Shack Vacation House. Or where it had been. As far as the eye could see, which was pretty far, the new inland sea covered the area which had once belonged to coyotes and jack rabbits as well as other indigenous rodents and small mammals, many of which had made the Federal Endangered Species Act and caused no end of heartache for residents and landowners when Uncle Sam's ecology bully boys came and dictated land use/protection of species.
"It's gone!" Brace sighed. "Jane will have a fit!"
As the man stood at the edge of the lapping waters, a Ford POS pulled in behind the lemon Chevy. Two men stepped out of the vehicle, both wearing identical black suits and wearing dark sunglasses. One was white the other black.
"Are you Brace Bozhart" the white man asked.
"Yes, I am."
The black man pursed his lips distastefully. "We hear you've been harboring an alien."
"Pardon? If you mean Miguel, he's already returned to Mexico."
"Not that alien," the white man said.
Brace regained his composure rapidly. "I'll need to seem some identification before I answer any more questions. Oh," he said when two badges were flashed. "M.I.B. And your names?"
Brace allowed a faint smile. "Alias Smith and Jones. How droll. Ask your questions then begone so I may get about my business."
The rapid-fire application, so useful for Jack Webb as Sergeant Friday, had no effect upon Bozhart, who was accustomed to dealing with bankers and politicians. "Unacquainted. What? Spicy. Anything else, gentlemen?"
"Yeah," the black guy said. "Look at this." Smith held up a silver thingamajig with a red crystal on one end.
Brace Bozhart left the catwalks above the cavernous warehouse where 20,000 artificial life forms patterned after his DNA encoding were reduced to so many slimy puddles. The old woman below had sighted him and the best he could do was to shout a warning: "Beware!"
Cabyns and Datsun had held up his part of the plan. Glancing at the non-reflecting face of his watch saw that he was well over 15 minutes late for his rendezvous with Jane Porker. "What else can go wrong?" he mused, hurrying through the dark warrens of the Bozhart underground enclave.
Brace floored the Camaro. Things were far too out of control. If only he could catch up to Jane! She had left the Chicken Shack only minutes ago, yet there was no sign of her in the road ahead.
After leaving their house, handsome Brace Bozhart made three stops. These were late night places Jane was known to habit when sleepless: a theater known for the quality of its foreign film offerings, especially sub-titled Canadian wilderness epics, a seedy, but fashionably patronized mahjongg den, and an all-night beauty salon featuring Grimley Waves in 2 hours, though she had little need of their services to make perfection any more perfect; but she was at none of these. After sun up he went to her office, but she had not been there, nor had she called in to pick up her messages. Bewildered, and becoming concerned, Bozhart turned the Camaro toward the temporary housing for the disaster stricken Los Angeles area--a Buddy Burger which had escaped the firestorm.
The policemen manning the newly fenced building recognized the world-renowned business man. Bozhart was granted immediate entrance. The mayor, the police chief, the fire chief, city controller, city attorneys 1, 2 and 3, as well as the usual gang of sycophants and yes men stopped what they were doing to hear the gazillionaire's impassioned plea: "My wife is missing. Find her or there's hell to pay."
Bozhart did not wait for a reply--he knew no stone would be unturned. The man returned to the Camaro and roared away toward his private airfield. "Damn that Billman," Brace muttered as he rousted pilot and crew for his Lear, "I suspect he's at the bottom of all this."
The lean, hard-bodied executive entered the jet. Moments later the engines began to whine. "Ready for take off, sir!" the pilot called.
Brace fastened his seat belt, scowled, then jabbed an extended index finger with a decisive forward motion. "Engage!"
CHAPTER 96: Jane Jane bo fane ba na na na
fo fame fee fi fo fein ane: Jane! --Tangor
"...Butt Buttes... Lieutenant Rykor ... stop the autopsy..."
Jane Porker-Bozhart jammed her Stetson over her aching head and marched across the road. "Are you Tuvan Tuyak?"
"Eh?" the pitiful creature in the green sequined evening grown looked up. "Yes, I am. I told you that when I pulled you out of the car. Do you see this? I am totally fascinated by physics. I mean, I do not understand a thing about it, but it is thrilling just the same. Why those equations and suppositions and predictions and theories and heresies and..."
Jane kicked sand into the babbling man's face. "What happened to you, Tuvane? You were such a barbarian when you were a bouncer at the Chicken Shack. Look at you, man, you're all skin and bones--and that hair, what is it, honey gold?"
Dusting himself off, and collecting his matching hand bag, Tuyak rose. "Things haven't been the same since your husband fired me on your orders. I sure which I knew what I did to make you do such a thing."
"I didn't can you, Tuvane. You were one of our best employees."
Scratching a chin in need of a depilatory creme, Tuvane Tuyak frowned. "Those were his words, ma'am. 'Jane told me to let you go,' Mr. Bozhart said. I asked why and he said, 'We do not question the lady, Tuyak. You must have pissed her off and that's good enough for me. Here's your severance pay.' It was generous, too. Put me through law school but I wasn't very good at litigation. Those briefs and pleadings were too boring. I'm more creative than that, but the judges didn't appreciate case facts filled with princes and princess and wildmen and buckets of blood and gore and ..."
"You're still Tuvane Tuyak!" Jane laughed sweetly. "Come here. I missed you." Mrs. Bozhart embraced the man affectionately. "Now that you're a lawyer, I might have need of your services."
"Oh, yes! Anytime!"
"Good. Attorney client relationship is in full force. I've just stolen two million dollars worth of pulp cover art."
"Get in the car, I'll tell you the rest."
Tuyak barely had time to buckle her seat belt before the powerful sports car spun into motion.
Jane Porker narrowly watched the woman in the car beside her. Judy Flanders was not who she appeared to be: a dumb blond bimbo starlet who relied on good looks to get ahead. The woman was good, but not good enough. She had not noticed when Jane had stopped issuing orders in the supposed native tongue and directed Flanders with English. She would bear watching, but in the meantime she might prove useful.
(Translated)"Be a dear, sweetie. In the back seat there's an outfit. Put it on. You're too bare for where we are going."
(Translated)"Where is that, my dear friend?"
(Translated)"We'll be there shortly. I'll explain after you change clothes."
The woman who called herself Judy Flanders used several contortionist tricks to accomplish the task, but a short time later she was wearing a black bodysuit. The material was an expensive spandex that felt as good as it looked.
(Translated)"I feel more naked in this than what I was wearing!"
(Translated)"Yeah. Drives men nuts. I wearing them quite frequently myself," Jane added, slowing to make a turn into one of the smaller towns north of LA which had escaped the fire storm. "All the convenience of being naked, yet demure, yet so revealing that men think with their crotch instead of their brains."
(Translated)"This monogram upon the breast, 'JPB', what does it mean?"
Jane neared a neon-lit biker bar which had a lot of bikes parked outside. She slowed to ten miles an hour. Suddenly reaching across the car, Jane opened the door and pushed the unsuspecting woman out. (Not Translated)"My initials, dear. And those fellows are expecting me to pay for some services rendered... but you'll do just as nicely since they are always so drunk they aren't likely to notice the substitution!"
Jane spun the tires, which closed the door, and honked the horn loudly. Speeding away, she glanced into the rear view mirror. The woman who called herself Judy Flanders, but who was someone else, was surrounded by a horde of large, beefy men in black leather. Laughing, she turned the corner just as they closed in on the hapless woman.
"Nick. Nick, wake up."
Jane Porker Bozhart slapped the trussed executive twice more before he opened bleary eyes. "You're a mess, Nick. What happened?"
Miser saw Jane and thought his life was over. "Dear Lord, woman, didn't you humiliate me enough last night?"
"Not me, Nick, though I agree with the sentiment entirely."
She pointed at his t-shirt. It was smeared with red. At first Miser thought he had been wounded, but upon closer examination he finally managed to make out: "Property of BB Inc." scrawled in red lipstick.
Pissed, Miser threw caution to the winds. "You better see a shrink, girlie. You've got multiple personality disorder or some such rot. You did this to me last night."
Faintly amused, Jane said, "Be nice, Nickie, and maybe I'll untie you."
"Don't you remember? I was..." whoops, that was a can of worms best left unopened! "I was in my office interviewing a lead for the Sleeza project when you came in with a nasty gun. You forced the woman to tie me up with my own clothes, then threatened to shoot me if I didn't tell you where Brace was. I didn't know then, I don't know now. Please untie me. I can't feel my hands."
"Only because you asked so nice."
Moments later Nick Miser used swollen hands to put on what was left of his trousers. One leg showed through. He walked toward his desk, but before the executive reached it, the woman's cold voice stopped him.
"Leave the panic button alone, Nick. I've got a gun. I will shoot you."
Nick slowly turned around. "Damn, you dames change guns like you change clothes. What is that? A thirty-eight?"
"No. It's a .357 magnum with a four inch barrel. I wasn't here last night, but I am here now. Where's Brace? What have you done with him?"
"Me? I'm the one who was tied up and threatened with murder by you twice, and you think I've done something to your hubby gone AWOL? Get a think, dear. Kill me now or leave me alone. Tangor would."
Jane narrowed her eyes. "It is an intriguing idea, Nick. You've certainly become superfluous to the plot."
"Yeah? Well, I know where Ed Nyce's burrow is. You find Nyce and you'll find Brace. Or one of the Braces and maybe one or more Janes. What do you guys do--run a cloning factory?"
"Not hardly, Nick. Willie J. and the Ponderous of the United States thinks that a bad idea. I do, too. I am presently the most beautiful woman in the world. If there were two of me, one of us would have to die. Get my drift?"
Miser, near the windows, happened to look into the parking lot. "You may just have to put your money where you mouth is. Take a look."
Jane Porker Bozhart edged closer to the window, keeping her silver-plated revolver pointed at the executive of Touchwood and other Rodent studios. In the parking lot were two yellow Cameros. Hers was parked nearest the building. The second disgorged a man and a woman. The man was Brace Bozhart. The woman was her twin.
"So, he did clone me. Nick, you get to see something that many on Earth would love to see. Brace Bozhart is going to get his--right after I kill his bitch clone whore!"
There is an old saying regarding women, rage and scorn--it seemed far too mild to describe the emotional state which consumed the beautiful woman who watched the door to Miser's inner office with a level, hate-filled gaze and a firm, steady grip on the deadly revolver.
CHAPTER 97: The Door Into Summersville --Tangor
Llana of Baseball spit into her hand then clapped them together to see which way the spittle spattered. "That's it, boys," she said, pointing to the last one on the right. Laying her Louisville Slugger over her right shoulder, Llana opened the door and stepped within.
Mars Marcus glanced at his old friend, Kojak Morris of Helium Supply. "I can't take much more of this," he said. "My brain's getting frazzled."
"That, too. Well, are we gonna let Llana have all the glory?"
Arm in arm, the two pals entered the doorway.
As expected, and as usual in a tale of inchaotic madness, it did not open into another room or corridor. The horizon to the front was a distant range of mountains, purple in hue. The sky above was a maddening swirl of color. Llana stood a few feet away, gawking at the strange forest of bottlebrush trees.
"Dang," she said, "if that isn't Tupperware, then I'm an old gray woman."
Mars rolled his eyes--for she was an old gray woman and it was Tupperware growing on trees. Grabbing both by the scruff of the neck, the mighty fighting man of bars yanked them back through the door. "Wrong world," he said, kicking the panel shut.
The next door was cracked for a peek. "Ragtime cowboy... talk about your cowboy... Ragtime Cowboy Jo..."
The next looked upon the deck of a rolling old-time canvas-sail ship. "Mister Christian, flog that man!"
"Wasn't that Brandough?" Llana asked as Morris quickly closed the door.
"Nel Gibson, dear," Kojak said. "One of the Sappho Production movie versions." He opened the next doorway.
"That's my dog! Don't kill Old Feller!" Morris closed the door quickly. "Been there. Done that. What's next, Mars?"
"I'm afraid to open it, sir."
Kojak Morris inched the door open. A rugged man with a six gun faced 10,000 Indians. A spectral voice said: "Use the Force, Duke." The six-shooter totin' cowboy replied: "I hear ya, Pilgrim."
Llana raced to the next door. A chorus of happy voices sang: "Jasper, the friendly host, the friendliest host we know. His girls know everyone in sight and collect nearly all of their dough. Jasper..."
"Ugh!" Llana frowned. "I hate perverts!"
Mars sighed. "We're getting nowhere fast. There's only one door left. This is it."
"...implants. Now, I'm not saying you should do this because there's contrary evidence to the safety of silicone implants, but if that is your desire... Hello! What's this?"
Mars entered the darkened room which was dominated by a complex and elaborate computer desk. The woman of indeterminate age, slightly pudgy in a red dress with hot iron curls, turned her two dimensional body toward the three adventurers. "Lulu?" the fighting man of bars breathed. "I thought I had lost you forever!"
The man behind at the computer keyboard was touched by the big man's soulful gaze. "You've been a good sport about all this, Mars," Tangor said. "Here's your reward." For a mad instant capable fingers tapped codes into the computer. The brilliant author then leaned back and deliberately pressed the Enter Key to execute the new program.
The girlish woman seated next to the desk expanded like a balloon, then popped into a svelte, slinky shape. The red dress and white sox were replaced by an exotic costume of jewels and little else. Her limbs were long and tan, her breasts young and firm, her hair a cascade of midnight black curls surrounding a face of heavenly beauty. A diadem of platinum graced the woman's high forehead, and upon her dainty feet were soft leather sandals encrusted with gold and precious gems.
The man at the computer smiled, satisfied with his work. With a gentle, caring voice, Tangor said, "If I may be permitted just one further intrusion? May I suggest that you assume the name La-la and that your past as the perky Lulu of childish pursuits be replaced with the smoldering desires and seductiveness of the mysterious priestess of the old Ed Nyce stories. Of course," he added with a wink, "you only have to be as Nyce as you feel."
Mars was stunned. The woman of his dreams had become a reality. He clasped a warm, vibrant hand in his and fell to his knees, kissing it. "I have always loved you for your mind, my darling! Your exuberance of life has been my heart's beacon-- but this miraculous transformation... damn, woman, you're a fine lookin' babe!"
The transmogrified woman embraced her stalwart lover with passionate intensity. "Thanks be to the gracious and sympathetic Tangor who has given me what I most desire, my beloved! A human form that may love you in reality as my heart has always loved you!"
"Isn't that sweet?" Tangor smiled beatifically. "What say you to a group hug? Come on, Kojak! You too, Llana! That's it. Hey! I want a picture of this!"
Tangor raised a high-tech camera to his eye, snapped a shot, then while they were all blinded, pressed a key on his multi-tiered keyboard. The floor dropped out. Down into the abyss fell the foursome, though Tangor decided he'd let La-la continue in her present form for the time being.
"So long, suckers!"
After the trap doors swung shut, the author brooded over his next move. The Canadian was a wily and crafty fellow, though given to bouts of insanity. The man must be contained.
A freckle-faced kid with glasses entered the inner sanctum. He stood trembling at the edge of the desk, just one pace away from the trick floor, an indication that he well knew the consequences of addressing Tangor from that position. Nervous, he cleared his throat, though his voice broke anyway. "Yes, Boss?"
"Tell Mr. Peabody to warm up the Way Back Machine."
"Uh, aren't you supposed to be making parodies out of all these things, Boss?"
"Hell, I'm tired. I haven't had my dinner. If they want to sue me, let 'em go for it. Where's that squirrel and the stupid moose?"
"Raking leaves in the back yard."
"Oh. Okay. Boris and Natasha?"
"On that assignment in Iraq. Operation Sadden Hussain. Remember?"
"Damn, too many irons in the fire. Yogi and Boo Boo?"
"Lunching on campers in Yellowstone. The rangers are mighty pissed."
"Good! Flintstone and Rubble still on the Man From U.N.C.L.E. pastiche?"
Sherman blushed. "You know, Boss, that's one of the few I wish you hadn't done. She's way too cute to be the whore of Calcutta."
"Can it, Sherman, or you're off to the bottomless pit."
"Yes, Sir! May I ask, what do you need done?"
"The Canuck must be made to suffer."
"And you need Mr. Peabody's Way Back Machine to do this?"
"Peabody I can't send, and while you are an amazingly stupid and annoying little twit, you're still useful to me here. I want someone to go back and bring Caligula and Vlad the Impaler here. I have in mind a comedy wherein Ratz and Bertie are the objects of their entertainment.Get that Seinfeld writer...you know the one I mean. I don't have time to do this myself. I expect 13 minutes of laugh track as they are slowly tortured. Fail me and..." Tangor tapped the white plastic motorized head of his paper shredder.
Sherman gulped. "That was 13 minutes? If we can't get Caligula, would it be alright if Jason Alexander plays the part? He's a fat tap dancing singer who might fill the bill."
"There may be hope for you yet, Sherman.I can see why Jay Ward kept you on the payroll. You're not as dumb as you look. Okay, Alexander if you can't get Caligula."
"Sir? Vlad the Impaler is otherwise occupied. He's in the midst of impaling 10,000 people."
"Hmm, hate to tear him away from that. Sounds like fun. Okay, what about that Rice character?"
"The vampires? Haven't you already used vampires elsewhere?"
Tangor sighed. "Yeah. That Zany Grany bull. Werewolves?"
"All wrapped up."
Sherman tapped his forehead, thinking hard. "Not in use, but that was some pretty lame horror film, don't you think?"
Tangor agreed. "Kruger?"
"Works for Veg-a-matic. As does Edward Scissorshand. They are making a bundle on the paid advertising circuit."
"Find out what they are making. Maybe we can afford to sweeten the pie. Damn it, Sherman, I need a villain!"
"Jason?" Sherman suggested.
"That argonaut fellow? Puhleezzee!"
"Mask. Blades. Campers, etc." Sherman explained.
"Oh, that. Done to death. Think, man!"
Sherman hesitated. He knew his life depended upon his answer. "You already have two, sir. There's no need to bewilder and mislead."
"You're trying my patience, son." Tangor's finger hovered over the deadly key. "I'll zap your ass, no matter where you stand."
"Yes, sir!" Sherman spoke at top speed. "Tang-Gor has returned from beyond the farthest whatever. He's ideal! Then there is..."
"Don't choke now, Sherman, I'm almost interested in your thought process."
"Well, Boss, there's Ratz himself. He's recovered his memory. He knows Devon tried to do him in. He'll soon figure that Nyce has played him for a wholesome chump all these years. The man's got urges just like everybody else, but they've been artificially dampened. Release Ratz from that formula and just let Tang-Gor do what comes naturally for a malevolent alien intelligence."
"Go on," Tangor said, his finger moving away from the delete key.
"Well, as I see it, the Canadian Hack is over reaching with the weather balloon invasion. I mean, it's corny as hell. Stutter's Mill? Give me a break!" Sherman's voice gained confidence as the master author leaned back into his chair.
"That Orcan Whales thing was pretty clever but," Sherman quickly added, "that Naughtyass sub thing was a topper. Still, this thing is supposed to be a roast of Ratnaz, Ed Nyce, that conglomerate of Bozharts and the mysterious Billman. The Canadian Hack is on the ropes. He's run out of ideas. I suggest we stick with the present status quo and force him to be original. Tang-Gor was his puppy until you transformed him. Let's see what he can do with that...which I know will be way too substandard for the current project. You've whupped his ass, only he doesn't know it."
"Like those old dinosaurs in the Ed Nyce Candyland That Time Forgot series?"
"Precisely!" Sherman exclaimed. To himself Sherman thought, Man, this butt kissing is hard work! "Let me take care of the details, Boss. Why don't you go have some dinner? Mrs. Tangor's made one of her famous meatloafs with baked potatoes and all the trimmings. Take a break, sir! You've laid a wonderful foundation. We can handle it from here."
"We?" Tangor frowned. His hand slowly edged toward the deadly key.
"YOU! Of course, you! I meant that me and Billy Breakspeare could handle things for a few hours. Take a pee break, if nothing else. If I fail you," Sherman gulped, "make confetti out of me."
Tangor crossed an arm across his ample expanse and stroked his three-day old beard with his free hand. "Maybe you're right. A home cooked meal, shower and shave might make a new man of me. Okay, Sherman, you've got the helm for a few hours."
The great author departed the inner sanctum.
Sherman looked at the closed door for several minutes before allowing a sly grin to cross his freckled features. Pulling a cellphone of advanced design from his shorts, Sherman keyed an unlisted number. "He bought it, Tang-Gor."
The tinny voice from the handset chortled with glee. "Dumb humans. We'll nail his ass to the wall shortly. Are the girls in place?"
"Wicked Witches East and West. We'll have a third as soon as Hansel and Gretel are done baking in the oven. I couldn't get the three Muses, but Medusa wants a piece of the action."
"Watch yourself," Tangor warned.
PHOOP! (cheap sound effects. If you can do better, have at it.)
"Give me that thing!" Tang-Gor said, snatching the cell phone from Sherman's hand. "Not that it makes a difference now since everybody's got one, I just hate to leave things undone."
Tang-Gor waved a small metallic device over the cellphone and it vanished. "The mighty Monitor of Betatuna will be surprised to receive that." Tang-Gor chuckled. "Okay, you get that Do-Right fellow on the move. He's got to be in place by 1300 tomorrow afternoon."
"At the edge of the Arizona Sea?"
"That's the place. Carney and Gleason?"
"Far side of the moon. They are coordinating the battle fleet disguised as weather balloons."
Tang-Gor would have smiled if his sphincter mouth could have produced the equivalency of the human facial gesture. "Gort?"
"Sorry. Couldn't get him. Klaatu has a gig in the Orion Sector."
"Damn shame. Robby?"
"Dismantled. Gee, Tang-Gor, get with the times. I thought you were smarter than that!"
"Wanna be a small cloud of disassociated atoms? Don't cross me, boy. You need me more than I need you. Capiche?"
Sherman lost some of his certainty. "Sorry about that. I guess we can't think of everything."
"We better," Tang-Gor admonished.
Sherman nodded. "Bury the hatchet, pal--between my shoulder blades if I forget what we are about."
"Never fear, I shall certainly do that and far worst if you cross me. Let's get on with it. Tonto?"
"Indian uprisings on demand. All settled."
"Courts tied up over the mask. That and the criminal cases will keep the authorities looking elsewhere."
"Gee, Tang-Gor, do we really have to..."
"The Old West is a defining part of American History. If we show it as a Hollywood fallacy, the humans will lose the will to fight."
"Okay, but we couldn't get pink tights for him...Madame Bovary had blue satin in stock."
"We'll call him 'Little Boy Blew,'" the raunchy alien announced. "Van Gogh?"
"Is that the fellow with the ear? We got the second. The bionic listening device has been installed."
"The only Jesus on the payroll is Jesus Enriquez. He does Tangor's landscaping."
"That other fellow. Human. Earth history."
"We don't want to go there," Sherman said. "Religion is a dangerous thing."
"We've got the Pope, don't we?"
"Only as far as Cuba is concerned. Seriously, Tang-Gor, forget it. Religion is off-limits for parody purposes."
"This isn't about parody, Sherman. It is about conquest and world domination."
"There's too many of them. Use the KISS method to world conquest."
"Unfamiliar term, Sherman. Explain."
"Keep It Simple, Stupid."
Where Sherman had stood, a small vapor cloud swirled. Tang-Gor, the revitalized and malevolent entity growled. "Stupid I ain't," the alien chuckled.
Sherman shook his head so recently reassembled. "That wasn't funny."
"I'll make it permanent if you really tick me off."
Sherman was not impressed. "You need me. I know all the ins and outs. You're just a slimy alien looking to get ahead. One thing before I have to go, what's gonna happen with La-la? She's a dish."
Tang-Gor accessed Tangor's computer. A moment later the alien replied. "They're on a Journey to the Bottom of the Ocean. Walter Pidgentoe and David Headofstone are commander and chief officer."
"That's not the character's names and it's a damn poor play on words for their real names."
"Nonetheless," the mighty Tang-Gor said, "That's where they are headed. And yes, even for a human, that La-la is some woman."
"Hey!" Sherman exclaimed, a penetrating thought having crossed his mind. "She's the kind of gal that could turn Ratnaz's head! Ooohhh, can you imagine the cat fight that would ensue if Bertie Ketchum and La-la fought over the Lord of the Leaves?"
Tang-Gor, still at Tangor's computer terminal, uttered a hideous laugh. "I don't have to imagine it, Sherman, because it is already keyed into the program!"
THE RATNAZ FILES
"Classic SF Stories by Today's Authors
In the Style of Yesterday's Giants"
The tribulations of a pulp author in the electronic age
as told to Tangor and Bill Hillman
Links to over 19,000 of our sites
Weekly Online Fanzine
To The Hillman ERB Cosmos
BILL HILLMAN .
Visit our thousands of other sites at:
BILL & SUE-ON HILLMAN ECLECTIC STUDIO
Some ERB Images and Tarzan© are Copyright ERB, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
All Original Work ©1996-2009 by Bill Hillman and/or Contributing Authors/Owners
No part of this web site may be reproduced without permission from the respective owners.