THE RATNAZ FILES: BOOK X
Whizzle's Classic SF Stories
All-Gory Pulp Parodies
by Today's Authors In the Style of Yesterday's Giants
All Bill Hillman Contributions Copyright 1997-1999
by Bill and Sue-On Hillman, Inc.
Maple Grove Productions
The tribulations of a pulp author in the electronic age transcribed by
an unusual gang of idiots: Tangor and Bill Hillman
All Chapters by Tangor
Chapter 107: The Inner Sanctum
Chapter 108 : And just when you thought things made sense...
Chapter 109: "When the moon is in the seventh house..."
Chapter 110: "Your Love Keeps Lifting Me..."
Chapter 111: When the Naughtyass shook her booty
Chapter 112: Crisis in the Right House
Chapter 107: The Inner Sanctum --Tangor
"Come on in, old timer. The wife has dinner on the table. Expected you a little earlier."
Zany Grany put down both cat and dog to accept the handshake of the brilliant Texan author. "Got hung up. That flash flood was a little too realistic to suit me. If it weren't for this little girl," Grany reached back through the open door to hand in the blushing Bertha La Ropa, "I might have washed up in Kansas."
La Ropa, a vibrant young woman, perhaps twenty-five years old, cradled a pet rooster under one arm and a fat woman suit over the other. "May I set this down, Tangor? Those boys over at F/X used too much latex--this thing is heavy."
"You're a good kid, La Ropa. Here, I'll take that." Tangor draped the realistic body suit over the back of a chrome and leather arm chair. Guiding his guests through the immaculate living room the three traversed a carpeted hallway to the rear of the modest house. Mrs. Tangor, gracious as always, welcomed the visitors.
Viewing the sodden appearance of her husband's employees, Mrs. Tangor exclaimed, "You poor dears! A bath and dry clothes for you both. I can wait dinner until you are refreshed."
Tangor planted an affectionate kiss upon the lovely woman's cheek. "Thanks, darling. You're a brick."
Zany Grany as much as agreed when Tangor showed the couple the guest quarters. "Not a word of complaint. You're a lucky man, Tangor."
"A point of which she frequently reminds me," the Texican grinned.
La Ropa elected to shower first. The two men chatted over brandy and cigarettes while the young woman took advantage of the facilities.
Feeling invigorated by the heady brandy, Grany made his report. "So far, Tangor, your plan is working flawlessly. That poor Canadian hack just doesn't have a clue. Why, did you notice he's even mixed up on months now? The real world is April 1998 and he's telling everyone it is October--Halloween. I'd feel pity for him if that wasn't a wasted emotion on cantankerous Canucks."
"Do not be too harsh on Sh'nook of the North," Tangor smiled. "He means well."
"Gosh durn it, man, he's not even in my league much less yours! How can you be so magnanimous and cheerful? That fellow has done nothing but ride you from day one. You'd think he'd show some gratitude for allowing him to join you on this grand adventure."
"Tut, tut, my dear Grany. You are too uncharitable toward our northern friend. He cannot help hiswilderness upbringing or lack of public school talent. He has made a determined effort to overcome his natural shyness and we must recognize his courage for having done it."
Bertha appeared, freshly scrubbed and nicely filling out a knit blouse and pair of jeans from Mrs. Tangor's wardrobe. The spirited girl sighed. "Gee, that's better!" La Ropa started to kiss Grany's cheek, then drew back with a just-ate-a-bug face. "In the shower, you old galoot!"
Zany playfully goosed the young lady as he, his snifter, and a change of clothes went into the bath. Bertha waited until the shower was running before talking to her boss.
"All done," she winked.
"Good girl!" Tangor smiled. "There will be a token of my appreciation in your next paycheck."
"Not necessary," La Ropa replied. "Just part of the job. Besides, it was fun! I can't wait to see the expression on the Jeddak of the North's face when he finds out what's coming."
"It will be amusing," Tangor chuckled, "but let us not spoil it for the readers of All-Gory Weekly bydiscussing it now."
Bertha grinned and added a sly wink. "Gotcha, Boss!"
At the dinner table Zany, Bertha, Tangor and Mrs. Tangor enthusiastically consumed one of the latter's famous meatloafs complimented with baked potatoes and all the trimmings and beverages of choice. When the meal was concluded Mrs. Tangor shooed her husband and guests out of the kitchen, naysaying all offers to help with the dishes, whereupon they retired to Tangor's library for after dinner drinks and cigars.
(Editor's note: This is a fantasy, folks. Remember?)
Grany puffed contentedly upon a fragrant cheroot. "I'm so grateful you rescued me from the Canadian's inept handling. Okay, sure, he had one good idea inserting me in the story, and that Grimley Wave thing was kinda cute, but the fellow never did anything beyond that. He hasn't written a new thought in ages!"
Bertha agreed. "They say that imitation is the sincerest from of flattery, but face it, Boss, what Sh'nook of the North is turning out is not flattery, it's rip off and rehash. He's simply riding your coattails, reviving your old gags over and over. Why, this last time around he just couldn't keep up with you so he copied lists from his video collection and rehashed what's gone before."
Zany chuckled disparagingly. "Why, even his titles 'Warlord of Words' and 'Jeddak of the North' were bestowed by Tangor without even a thank you from the ungrateful twit."
"Now, now, Grany," Tangor gently admonished. "No name calling. We must make allowances for others--it is the charitable thing to do."
Bertha snickered impishly. "Is this the malevolent author the Canuck is so fond of describing?"
Tangor's amusement was plain.
The phone rang. Tangor picked up the instrument. "Hold on, Cam. I'll put you on the squawk box. Zany and Bertha are here."
The imperfect telephonic device could not mask the unmistakable voice of Cam Spaid. "We waited, Boss. Like you said, old Sh'nook of the North piled into his Model B dog sled and headed south. That lead beaver, however, got turned around. Last we saw the kit-and-caboodle was en route to Minnesota."
"Hmm," Tangor frowned. "That will make him late for Phase Two. Spaid, if I know my adversary--and I do--the tedium of his trip will force him to enter the cabin to watch ERBS news or to numb his mind with Blues Bouys tapes. Send Slammer to intercept. When the Warlord of Words enters the cabin, have him replace that brain-dead beaver with one of our own."
Spaid's chuckle was clearly audible. "I've got three homing beavers on line, Boss. Where do you want the putz to end up? Des Moines, Tupelo or Ratnaza?"
For a moment Tangor considered Tupelo as a destination of great discomfort for Sh'nook, but regretfully decided against it. Two chapters of the Jeddak's unpleasant adventures in that part of backwaters Americana might bore the All-Gory Weekly readership unnecessarily. "Ratnaza, Cam. It's time we get this show on the road."
"Roger," Spaid replied and rang off.
The imposing figure of the creative genius faced Zany Grany. "Recharged, old man?"
Grany stubbed out his cigar and rose. "Yes, sir, I am. Mighty fine dinner. I'll show myself out."
"One last thing, Grany..."
"Eh?" the old writer paused at the door.
"Hold the next installment of 'Query: Are Fairy Tales Real?'"
Though disappointed, Grany kept his voice under control. "Any reason, Boss?"
"The Canuck is expecting it. I want you to lay low with it until we're ready to kick off Phase Two." Satisfied, Grany nodded then exited the room, stage door right.
Tangor looked at Bertha La Ropa for a long moment. "How are you holding up, kid?"
"I was doing okay until the Sh'nook of the North got me addicted to those Ratnaz Specials. Damn, Boss, those things are Hell on the kidneys!"
"Well, that's past." Tangor checked his watch. "It's been long enough. Switch on the viewer, let us see how our little back-stabber is doing."
Bertha unfolded her lean, tan body from the comfortable overstuffed chair and went to the westwall of the library. She located Of Mice and Men and pulled on the top. The volume tilted halfway and a relay clicked. The center section of books separated on double doors which concealed a 42" monitor.
Tangor tapped a key on his wife's deceptively simple-looking computer and the screen activated. The view was that of the Texican's inner office. Bent over Tangor's multi-tiered computer keyboard the myopic. Captain Marble, aka Sherman, aka Tangor's Unknowing Stooge, pounded the keys at an astonishing rate of three words per minute.
Bertha tapped an attractive, red-polished fingernail of sensible length on the image of the ludicrous super hero. "He's cute, Boss. Can I have him when this is over?"
"Only if you promise to be gentle, dear. Poor Sherman is a victim of arrested physical development. Beneath that child-like exterior beats the heart of a 50 year old virgin who has never known the warmth of a woman's touch. You, my pet, would give him a heart attack."
Tangor keyed another set of commands and the monitor cleared to reveal a long list of responses that scrolled down the screen. "Brace was successful! The Canadian's attempt to reprogram the Brace scenarios was intercepted by our code firewall. Buzz Bozhart's klaatu command never left Butt Buttes. Even if it had, it only affected Sonny Bonos or Jane Pauleys, both of whom have already self-destructed."
"Didn't you tell me it wouldn't work because each Brace is a unique individual cloned directly from your cells, and therefore impervious to computer command?"
"You have a good memory, kid. I think I'll keep you around. As wonderful as technology has become, the machines still cannot control biological matter."
Bertha glanced at her sensible watch secured to her slim sun-browned wrist. "Almost time for me to get, Boss. Do I really have to wear that repulsive fat cow disguise?"
"Just a while longer. When the unsuspecting Canuck is in place and after Phase Two starts, we can drop that charade. Bertha," Tangor's voice warned as the woman rose, "do not under estimate the Canadian. For all his rough-edged humor and inept plotting, there lurks a wily mentality. So far his best efforts to tell a story have gone to naught; ever playing the buffoon and going for the quick laugh and gag. Yet, I suspect he may be up to something that could queer our adventure romance epic parody. Keep a sharp lookout, La Ropa. I'd hate to lose you."
Bertha turned pale, but so great was the girl's courage and strength of character that by no other expression did she reveal her reaction. "The Canuck is not given to killing of players, Tangor."
"The Canuck has never been in such desperate position before. Even a trapped Smurf will attack viciously. Just watch yourself."
Chapter 108 : And just when you thought
things made sense... --Tangor
"Where's the list?" Spaid asked Spillway.
"Huh? I thought you had it." Spillway patted the pockets of his pinstripe double-breasted to be sure. "I don't got it, Cam."
"Damn! We'll have to go back to HQ to get another."
Spaid suddenly laughed. "If that bull moose Canadian found it, he won't have a clue as to it's meaning."
Spillway grinned, exposing a gap where a belligerent bum had performed crude dental surgery. "Hell, he'll probably think it's a hit list or sumpin'."
The two detectives were still chuckling as they drove away in the borrowed 1949 maroon Ford sedan.
Meanwhile, several hundred miles to the south, Slammer was wrestling with a wild Canadian beaver. Sh'nook's Rudolph didn't have a red nose, but he did have awful big teeth and an unpleasant disposition--at least until he got a gander at the svelte lady beaver parked in the front seat of the 1934 Ford tudor. After that Slammer had no problems substituting Benny, the Steroid Beaver in the lead traces. One of the huskies tried to take a nip out of the new leader, but Benny thwacked him with an iron hard tail and that showed who was boss.
Slammer closed the door on the speeding car, glanced in the back where beaver love was in full bloom "Just like Muskrat Love," the big man sighed. He took the car off auto pilot and eased off the main road at the next intersection.
A mile further the old car--which was not old at all and was armored and equipped with goodies that would make even inventive "Q" jealous--pulled into an isolated private airfield. Slammer halted the vehicle next to an expensive private jet which sat with engines idling. A man opened the door for him and then took the car and the rutting beavers away. Another, standing at the airplane's hatch, motioned the detective forward. "He's waiting for you."
Without a word, Slammer entered the aircraft. Brace Bozhart glanced up, acknowledging the detective with a nod. He was on the phone listening intently. Slammer took a chair and accepted a hot toddy served by an attractive young woman dressed in a blue and red ski outfit.
"Thank you, ma'am," Slammer sighed, warming his hands and throat.
"Jane," she said. "Jane Porker-Bozhart."
"Whatever you say, ma'am." Slammer had a different opinion. The Jane Porker-Bozhart he knew was a blond. The two women looked alike, except this one was a brunette, but there was an accent in her voice that reminded him of those classy dames in Georgia.
She laughed lightly, sitting beside the big man. "I should say, 'Jane Five'. Today is my first birthday."
"You, a year old?"
"Absolutely. I am a very young and naive little girl. You could tell me to do things and I wouldn't know if they were bad or good. Would you tell me to do bad things, Mr. uh..."
"Slammer," he said, pulse pounding, as she searched for a name.
"Buckle up, Mr. Slammer. We will take off shortly." She patted his ham-sized fist with a delicate gesture that seemed to imply much more. Jane Five went forward, her delicious backside making exaggerated figure eights that affected Slammer in a most extraordinary manner.
Bozhart terminated his call and grinned at the detective. "Amazing creature, don't you think?"
"I-- I--" Slammer removed his narrow-brimmed hat and wiped his brow. "Yeah, you could say that!"
"There's a Jane in your future, Slammer, provided things go as expected."
"They will, Mr. Bozhart. My word on that."
Brace snorted with amusement. "I seem to recall you made the same statement to your pals Spaid and Spillway. Should they catch you in betrayal, they will only kill you. I will make you suffer for an eternity before oblivion brings you peace. If, on the other hand, you serve me well, you can have a Jane or two."
Slammer's palms grew sweaty thinking about the possibilities. "What do you want me to do?"
"You're not due back until tomorrow morning, so we'll spend a little time with Chaperone Clerk and his band of techno-idiots. You wouldn't have any objections to being the second smartest man in the world, would you, Slammer?"
"Depends. Who's the smartest?"
Slammer gulped self-consciously under the stern glare of the world's richest--and smartest--man. "Yes. I can see that. I'm you're man. Trying to take you down was a stupid move on Ed Nyce's part. The old fart suckered me into the game. Working for you is much more profitable."
Bozhart nodded agreeably. The jet was taxiing when Jane Five returned. Brace patted her round fanny and said, "Mr. Slammer's lap is cold. See if you can't warm it up for him. I'm going forward."
There was a moment of confusion as Brace and Jane Five danced in the isle, but soon the gazillionaire was past and the door to the cockpit shut. Jane Five looked down at Slammer with a sweet smile then very deliberately draped herself across his lap.
Smith and Jones removed their sunglasses. Jones waved a hand in front of Brace Bozhart's glazed eyes. "He's under. Let's get him back to base." Jones headed for the Ford POS.
"What?" Smith exclaimed. "You want me to haul this white boy all by myself?"
Jones grinned sardonically. "Who's got rank? You or me?"
"Damn," Smith scowled. "I keep forgetting about that." The black man put a shoulder into Brace's stomach and lifted the inert body. "Heavy dude. Hey, what about that kewl 1966 yeller Camero? We ain't gonna leave it here, are we? Somebody might steal it."
Jones produced another gizmo from a side pocket. He aimed it at the Chevy and pressed a button. A weird blue light bathed the machine, and in an instant it vanished. Smith's eyes bugged out. "What happened to it? Man, you didn't zap it to nothing, did you? Hell, if I know'd you wuz gonna do that, I'd a stole it myself."
Agent Jones shook his head. "Rookies." He walked over to where the car had been, then examined the ground. A few seconds later he bent down and picked up something the side of a walnut--but there aren't very many yellow walnuts. Holding out the palm of his hand, Jones showed Smith an incredibly detailed Hot Wheels.
"Only it is the real thing," Jones explained. "Miniaturization. One of the things we got from Tang-Gor before he disappeared."
Smith looked at the comatose Bozhart in the back seat. "And you made me carry that heavy son-of-a-bitch when you had that thingie all the time? You're cold, man. Real cold."
Jones held his patience with a tight grip. "It only works with inanimate objects, Smith. If we'd shrunk Mr. Bozhart it would have killed him--and made quite a mess in the process. Think of it this way, I saved you a cleaning bill."
Two yellow 1966 Cameros met on a lonely highway northeast of Ratnaza. The two drivers were alike in build and facial structure. They were more identical than identical twins.
"Hello, Brace. Did you find her?"
"The one with a gun."
"There's two. Be more specific."
"She's mine, too."
"Not THAT one, she's too surly. MY Jane, the sweetheart."
"A gun-totin' blond hussy with a bad attitude is a sweetheart? Have you had your amino acids checked
lately? You're not making sense, brother."
Instead of responding with anger, Brace posed a question which had been puzzling him since the Ratnaz caper began. "How can you be my brother when we share the exact same DNA? You aren't my father, you aren't my son, you aren't my brother...what are we?"
"That's a damn good question. I suppose Tangor, from whose cells we were cloned, would be the original, yet, since we are identical that would make us originals, too."
"But we aren't original. There's Tangor," Brace gestured to one side with a hand and then made an
opposite gesture with the other, "and there's me."
"You mean 'us', don't you?"
"No. You are me. Me are you."
"Wrong. That's 'or', don't you think?" There was a trace of uncertainty in Bozhart's reply.
The other Bozhart said, "When were you born? One of us is bound to be senior to the other. That is what will make us different."
"November 13, 1998, 21:03 hours."
"Damn! That's mine. Wait, what second were you born?"
"Why, that would be 21:03:07."
"Ha! That makes me the elder."
"By how much?" Brace inquired, unwilling to relinquish anything to his father/brother/son.
Brace lowered his eyes, the admission torn from him. "I was born 21:03:0659."
"Ha!" the other Brace exclaimed. "I am the superior being as I was born on an integer whole second!"
"This is getting us nowhere. Do you have the package?"
Brace got out of his vehicle and went around to the trunk. Opening it, he removed a bundle that waswrapped in cloth. It was about the size of a washtub, and similar in shape. Brace got out of his car and opened the trunk on his 1966 yellow Camero and Brace transferred the object. Both men looked at it for a moment, then Brace closed the truck lid and shook hands with Brace.
"I know it took a lot of guts to get that."
"You should know, same guts." Brace jabbed a friendly unch at his brother/son/father's hard waistline. "Take care of yourself, Brace."
"I will, Brace. Give my love to Jane."
Brace rolled his eyes. "Don't start that crap again!"
Laughing, the two Bozhart's roared off in opposite directions.
Nick Miser waited with bated breath. In just a few moments all his troubles would be over. Jane would kill Brace Bozhart and he'd finally be free!
As he waited, the President of Touchwood Pictures and other Randy Rodent enterprises, took another look at the vivacious, though deadly woman at the other side of his office. She was lean, yet voluptuous, delicate, but hard as nails. She was also auburn-haired, not blond. Though the Jane in the parking lot was no longer visible, he now realized that her hair color was more strawberry than auburn or blond. Something screwy was going on here.
Jane's grip on the .357 wavered not a millimeter. Her eyes were filled with hatred. Her whole being was centered on the moment yet to come, and she savored with full delight the thought of murdering her husband and his bimbo.
The door opened.
Brace Bozhart greeted the magnum with an arched eyebrow. "There you are, dear! I've been looking for you."
Jane Porker Bozhart tightened her finger on the chrome-plated trigger. "First the hussy, then you, you son of a-"
"Jane!" Bozhart's commanding voice barked. "There's a lady present."
Startled, Jane frowned. "You're not going to tell that tramp is a lady, you low-down, two-timing BillBlimpton!"
Miser sputtered, terrified and confused. "Please don't kill anyone in my office. I just had new carpet put in."
"Oh, shut up, Nick, or I'll plug you, too!"
Miser did not have to be warned twice.
Jane maintained her aim, but her curiosity was aroused. "Why'd you do it, Brace? Wasn't I womanenough for you?"
"You always have been, darling. There's been no other woman in my life since you chose me for that Nyce fellow."
"Stop it, Brace," Jane pleaded, the gun wavering. "You're giving me goose bumps." Indeed, the fine hairs on the shapely woman's forearms were standing erect.
"You do that to me, too," the powerful gazillionaire replied, "in spades."
"Then why did you clone me?" Jane wailed, heartbroken.
The other woman, who looked exactly like the weeping wife, spoke with a soft and sympathetic voice. "He didn't, my sister. Somebody ealse did, but it really wasn't cloning. It was-how'd you say it, Brace?"
"Astral division." Turning to his wife, the wife with the gun, handsome Brace Bozhart explained. "Ed Nyce, or someone working for him, did this to us. Yes, us. There's other Brace Bozharts out there, too. Whoever did the dirty deed botched the job. Doctor Ras Putan was working on a cure when he was mysterious murdered."
Janie with a gun let the heavy weapon fall to her side. "Ras Putan, dead? Cure?"
"Putan was attempting to reverse the process, to recombine our astral selves. I don't know if you'veweighed yourself recently, but you should be about one-seventh of your usual weight."
"I haven't," Jane said, "but if that's true, shouldn't I be one-seventh of my size as well?"
"You'd think," Brace shrugged. "Apparently Nyce intended to send us to Barsoom or Oz or whatever, but we ended up as copies of ourselves. That's why killing Jane here might result in killing yourself, and I wouldn't want that to happen to you, darling."
Jane and Jane sobbed-one with relief, the other with sisterly happiness. Both converged on Brace to hug and kiss the great man. What happened next left Nick Miser doubting his sanity.
An electrical charge abruptly filled the room and the two women brushed against each other. Inexplicably a tortured vortex of swirling vapors coalesced, punctuated by sharp crackling sounds and tinkling like glass bells in a breeze. An incandescent light formed, growing brighter by the heartbeat, until it was a blazing brilliance that threatened to burn the eyes. Then a small clap, like distant thunder was heard and the light disappeared.
"Where'd she go?" Miser demanded, looking at Brace and Jane. "Where's the other Jane?"
Jane hugged her husband with a sigh. Placing a small hand between her breasts, she said, "In here. Jane is here, where she belongs. Oh, Brace, if you are divided as I was, then you must feel as empty and alone as I did. We must find your other selves. We must!" Jane burst into tears of worry and concern.
Bozhart patted the woman's shoulder and motioned toward Miser's leather couch. "Dry your eyes, dear. I'll be with you in a moment. I just need a few words with Nicky."
Bozhart's broad shoulders turned toward Miser. He advanced with a smile--but a smile the cat mightdisplay to the mouse just before dinner. Putting a brawny arm about Miser's shoulder, Brace led the executive to the farthest corner, then shoved him into it none too gently. Blocking Miser with his imposing body, Bozhart leaned in with narrowed eyes.
"I hear you've been a naughty boy, Nicky."
"Me?" Miser shivered, quaking with fear. "Not a chance, Boz!"
"I hear Jane was here and she tells me different."
"What? What did she tell you? I'm innocent! She's lying!" At once Nick Miser realized the poor choice of words. "No... no... I meant, she didn't understand. She didn't know the whole story. You see..."
"Nick, Nick, Nick," Brace gripped Miser's shoulder. "You always think out loud. You also think with the wrong part of your anatomy. I didn't leave Judy Flanders with you for your perverted amusement. If anything has happened to that girl, I'll skin you alive, fry it up nice and crispy like pork skins, and then I'll make you eat it. Now, tell me what happened--and if you leave anything out, or tell me different, I'll know."
Miser was on his knees, hands clasped placatingly, by the time he finished wailing his story. "I swear to you, Boz, it was like there was two of them! And that one over there makes three!"
Bozhart grabbed Miser's collar and drew the distraught man erect. "Let's just say that I'm a lucky man and let it go at that. Where'd the first Jane go?"
"Oh, Lord!" Miser bawled. "We're back to square one!"
Brace packed his tools and kit into the boot of his 1966 yellow Camero. Butt Buttes towered above him. He checked his watch. All hell ought to be busting loose about now. Billman, Blimpton and the rest should be ass-deep in aliens and incompetents. For a brief instant the handsome man's face darkened as he wondered what had become of Tang-Gor, but the time table was too pressing to dwell overlong on that subject. All that was important was the entire Butt Buttes complex had been effectively isolated from the rest of the world.
Chapter 109: "When the moon is in the seventh
Herlock Cabyns and Dr. Datsun precisely applied the loose ends of their burros halters on the recalcitrant creatures' backsides. The determined prodding, however, failed to have the desired effect. Datsun's bogged and Cabyns' veered left, eventually bucking him off at the edge of the Arizona Sea.
Datsun abandoned his obnoxious mount and raced to Cabyns' aid. The world's most famous insultingdetective gingerly dusted his equally famous bum with an exasperated hand. "Devilish creature!" Cabyns cried.
"Are you well, sir? Are there any broken bones?" Datsun had the top of his doctor's bag wide open, eyes gleaming with anticipation.
"The only thing you have in that bag which will do me any good is a refill for my Pez dispenser. I shall allow no quack to administer to the great Herlock Cabyns."
"So!" Datsun exclaimed. "The truth comes out! Goodbye, Cabyns!"
Datsun immediately turned on his heel and stomped over the nearest sand dune. Considering the desolation of the area, the recent devastation by fire and storm and earthquake, the last thing Datsun expected to see was the Tappan Range Chicken Shack Vacation House moored on the shoreline below. It appeared the girls, dressed in their seductive parlor room finery, were about to cast off. Thinking of those women, and one in particular who had taken a shine to the good doctor during his previous visit, caused the rotund Englishman to speed down the dune.
He managed to jump aboard, to be caught by three lovely women, just as the floating card house began to leave shore. Gazing at the adoring girls, he sighed. "I'm coming!" Datsun ejaculated.
Herlock Cabyns almost regretted his words to Datsun. They had been together for nearly a century. He would miss the old fool, but perhaps it was best this way. In the past it had always been Cabyns and Datsun, much like Batman and Robin, or Yellowjacket and Splay-Toe, or Tarzan and Jane, or Micky and Minnie. It was time he struck out on his own, free at last of the ancient windbag's restraining influence. He, the great Herlock Cabyns, had no need of a sniveling yes man.
At that moment the floating Tappan Range Chicken Shack Vacation Shack passed the promontory. There, on the lower deck, the ancient windbag was availing himself of the charms of several enthusiastic young ladies.
"Damn," Cabyns thought to himself, "my timing is WAY off."
You remember the presence that stared at Bertha La Ropa from the darkness when she spied on Ed Nyce as he busted Rathmind, Tang-Gor and Captain Canuck? That deep-earth dwelling sentience which noted the goings on of weak humans? Do ya? (I could give ya the chapter number, but that's too easy. If you don't remember, then go back, start at the beginning, get up to speed, then continue.)
That entity had quietly retreated from the encounter, though for a while it had watched the fat woman with the rooster. She was a strange sight, weirdly garbed, and constantly muttering to herself about a secret. She had squatted to make water--and been flushed away by a raging torrent of water. Out of sight, she was out of mind, and more so because what was on the mind of the being was revenge and self-preservation.
The dark figure, lightly furred, scurried down twisting tunnels in utter darkness. The Stygian gloom meant nothing to a being born and bred beneath the planet's surface, a being who made its home in the bowels of the planet.
These upper crust creatures had brought death and destruction to their twilight eden. Monstrous machines boring through warrens and dens, great floods with bitter tasting water, and worse, fracturing the earth itself until the familiar was unfamiliar. For a million years this being and those like him had avoided the upper-crust and the frantic, violent life forms that existed there. Not even in the dark of night did they feel comfortable coming to the surface, but in all those years, very few of the surface people had ever come into their world. Now that had changed. If they did nothing, the under-dwellers would perish, but these were not beings of such timid character. They would fight to save their world, and they had at their disposal the internal energies of the planet itself.
At St. Helens a fire storm had been unleashed, at Pompeii, and Krakatoa. Hawaii was a constantreminder of their power and ability, and the natives of that island knew well the consequences. No, not all surface dwellers were enemies of the Mole People, the being thought. Not all. These newcomers from the land of California, however, were dangerous and to be despised. It was these people upon which Molejowerkin would lead his warriors. Before long the upper world would be as flooded with red human blood as the underworld was flooded by the bitter water.
Molejowerkin continued down into the cold, dark depths of the earth. In time he reached the shore of the underground ocean. There he witnessed additional flooding and did a small victory dance as the raging waters destroyed the underground complex of the Nyce man who wasn't nice.
Ed Nyce knew the mole people. He knew their primitive society and had written a series of stories
regarding a world inside a world--but he had lied. The world in his novels had surface humans instead of mole people. When Nyce visited the capitol city, he was known as the one called OB-wan-in-Kanobe. His hairless, wan, white skin reminded Molejowerkin and the other leaders of the Hidden World that there were basic differences between the humans and the mole people. For example: OB-wan-in-Kanobe was always in the dark and the only holes he could dig were financial predicaments he couldn't get out of.
Molejowerkin knew in his heart that Ed Nyce was at the bottom of all the terrible disasters which had befallen his people. Now was the time to once and for all put an end to the horrors of the surface world.
Chapter 110: Your Love Keeps Lifting Me..."
Kojak Morris felt like a traffic cop in a Max Sennett film. He directed Llana through the steady stream of falling entertainment icons while dragging the preoccupied Mars and La-La in his wake.
"Move it, Mars!" the elder man ordered. "It's not safe here!"
"Tangor won't let anything happen to us," Markus said, one brawny arm about the delectable La-La. "After all, he took a photo of us and called out 'So long, honeymooners!'"
Morris shook his head. "We've got to get your hearing checked."
The noble master of Helium Supply steered his companions around a rabbit in a top hat, a wacky old geezer with a teacup, a sour-faced Queen of Hearts and a Jack of Knaves. This group of characters had surrounded a severe-looking clergy man and a young girl and there was murderous intent upon their faces.
A woebegone old wolf cowered behind another little girl who wearing a red cape and glaring at three aggressive little pigs in sailor suits. The pigs were armed with bricks, pointy sticks and a handful of straw, near which a lit match was being held.
Llana of Baseball gripped her autographed Louisville Slugger and looked imploringly at Kojak. "A few wacks with this and we have pork chops. Do you realize we haven't eaten in about 100 chapters?"
"Leave the pigs alone, dear. I'm sure there's a Burger Prince or something on the road ahead. Mars!"
During the distraction with Llana, the fighting man of bars and La-La had disappeared into the vagueshrubbery in Tangor's basement. "Wait here," Kojak commanded. He hoped Llana would obey, though she still gazed hungrily at the three little pigs.
The deep shadows of the pit made it difficult to proceed. Where, in all the babbling of lost souls, could Mars Markus and the gorgeous La-La be?
Kojak tripped over a bean stalk vine and was cursed by a rude fellow whom some girl eating whey called Jack. Not two minutes later did Morris narrowly miss being knocked over by a boy, girl and a bucket tumbling down a hill.
A mangy, starving dog had an old woman backed up against a cupboard and it looked like curtains for her. Just beyond, flopping like a fish out of water, a little mermaid gasped for air while an old woman leading an impossibly long line of small children trudged toward a two-story shoe.
A cute little thing carrying a shepherd's crook stopped Kojak. "Have you been molesting my sheep? I cannot find them."
"Strictly a ladies man," Kojak replied and hurried on. In the near distance a nimble boy jumped over a flaming candle. By that flickering light Morris saw a rather large rodent running up a grandfather clock.
Despite the cacophony and press of strange characters, neither the burly Mars or the fabulous La-La could be found. For an instant the mighty Kojak felt a moment of panic. Why had their world had been reduced to Fairy Tale Hell in the malodorous Stygian darkness of the Texican's basement? He suspected it as the work of that other, lesser, writer involved in The Ratnaz Files.
"Mars," Kojak spoke under his breath, "you'll have to look out for yourself. I have to think of Dee Dee and Llana."
The surreal landscape was in constant motion, very like an animated Salvador Dali painting. Time seemed to have no constant. At least two days passed crossing ten feet, then merely a few seconds to traverse a mile. Morris side-stepped a battle royal between two chipmunks and a talking duck, only to slip and nearly fall as he passed through the droppings of eight swans, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a fruit-bearing tree.
"Drat that Mars," Kojak groused. "All those years running a peeler bar with all those gorgeous women, my daughter included-each eligible for instant induction into the Hooter's Hall of Fame-and he picks this time to be ruled by gonads rather than commonsense! If I were only a few years younger I'd thrash him to within an inch of his life!"
Upon further reflection, however, Morris of Helium Supply realized he would have done the same thing...and had in fact done the same thing. "Name your first born after me, old pal," the emperor of exotic gases chuckled, "and all will be forgiven."
Llana of Baseball was spotted a few minutes/hours later. The princess of the diamond stood not far from a small boy weeping inconsolably. When Llana spied her lover, she grinned hugely. "Hey, darling! Ready for lunch?"
The woman's face was smeared with the filling from a plum pie.
"Where'd you get that?" Kojak asked, wolfing down the portion Llana offered.
"That punk kid over there wouldn't share. Even after I asked nice he put in his thumb and said, 'What a good boy am I..'"
"Why is he bawling?"
Llana patted the worn hickory of her Mantle autographed bat. "I reminded him little boys shouldn'tplay with their food."
Morris was horrified. "You didn't hit him with that, did you?"
"Or course not, but I made him watch me swat four and twenty black birds hiding under that pie crust over there."
Dee Dee's father did not long gaze at the pile of bloody feathers. "You're going to have to stop doing that, dear. Save your aggressions for the diamond."
"As in 'Queen of'?" Llana asked. "Yeah, that damn gal cost me plenty in poker games over the years. Where's Mars and that Oo-la-la girl?"
"Only Tangor knows. At least I hope he does! Come, dear. It's time to move to the next chapter."
Chapter 111: When the Naughtyass
shook her booty -Tangor
Captain No'Mo's teeth gleamed stark white, a contract all the more apparent against his black skin. The smile was not friendly.
"You two!" the drenched submariner criminal roared. "I thought I was gonna nab that little weasel who stole my best XXX flicks!"
"You're just in time," Darter stepped aside to gesture to the hoard of racy video tapes. "I just ran the old fart off. Here's your stuff."
Dee Dee Morris was shocked by the man's prevarication. What had she ever seen in him? Darterhad turned out to be a kidnapper, a bully, a thief, impotent and, worst of all, a fibber! The menacing aspect of Captain No'Mo', however, kept Dee Dee's thoughts to herself. The last thing she wanted was to draw the villainous smuggler's attention.
"Yo, bitch. How'd you get outta my sub?"
"I swam." The princess of bars left it at that.
No'mo was not inclined to pursue the matter. Calling over his shoulder, the tall black man yelled, "Get yo asses in here, boys, and shake this booty."
Within minutes a stream of men, including Bland and that fellow known as the Yellowjacket, had gathered up the illicit hoard and departed. Mo'mo crudely played with a .357 magnum handgun.
"I ought to waste yo' skinny white ass, Darter, and yo' bitch, too, but I only got two bullets left. So, instead of wastin' them, I'll leave ya here to drown."
Darter started to protest, but Dee kicked him in the shin with a withering look. Darter backed up and said, "Uh, well, okay. See ya around."
No'Mo laughed. "No'Mo will see you no mo'!" Still chuckling, the black-hearted scoundrel exited the cave.
Dan Darter looked at the water creeping over the lover. Obviously the Pacific Ocean was still in theprocess of filling the vast caverns beneath the dry California deserts. "Dee," the ex-ultra light mercenary whined, "what did you do that for? I could have talked him into taking us along."
"Dan, you twit, your old pal would kill us at the drop of a hat. Now, you listen to mama and we'll get out of this alive. You do as I say, and maybe I'll see if my vocabulary contains any slutty remarks."
"Really?" Darter exclaimed, following Dee Dee into the bolt hole used by the crazy old coot. "Does that mean you've reconsidered?"
"I don't think so, but you can hope," the woman replied. "Give me a leg up." Dee Dee Morris exposed a long-length of nylon-clad leg scrambling up a steep incline. Darter was mesmerized as he tagged along.
Chastened the mighty Dan Darter made a stirrup with clasped hands and lifted the voluptuous woman to a high ledge. He managed to hoist himself up moments later, but Dee Dee was not waiting, she had immediately moved on, heading toward a lighted area.
The cavern ledge ended at a doorway set into the rock with concrete. Above the door was an exit sign, such as those found in movie theaters. The steel door was ajar, indicating recent use. Ms. Morris made an observation: "That hideous old man probably went through here. Check it out, my hero."
Darter was aware Dee Dee, princess of bars and mistress of Helium Supply, mocked him, but so deeply did he crave any notice from the woman who spurned him that he passed through the doorway without hesitation.
A long, well-lit corridor lay beyond the entrance. There were no doors or features for some distance. "All clear, dear. Keep to the rear and have no fear, Dauntless Dan Carter is here-ya hear?"
Dee refrained from commenting on Darter's ludicrous poetry She simply maintained a no-nonsense attitude and pace.
The corridor ended at an intersection with another. At one end was a door and at the other a pair of elevators. Darter looked both directions and shrugged. "Why way, my princess?"
Dan Darter, once again asserted his masculinity and took the commanding role. He marched down thehallway and, with grim determination, extended a sturdy, well-muscled finger to press the up button. After a lengthy wait, the doors creaked open and the couple entered.
Inside the dimly-lit conveyance was a control panel of simplistic design: there was only one button. Darter depressed the back-lit switch.
Having resumed control of his deflated male ego-endowed by Mother Nature purely to give the hairy types an illusion of worth-Darter darted his eyes over Dee Dee's attractive exterior. Hormones working overtime, Darter suddenly embraced the irritated princess of bars.
"You are the sun of my day, my moon at night," Darter mushed. "The sparkle in your eyes is starlight reflected on a woodland pond. Your sweet scent puts magnolias to shame and the gentle blush on your cheeks is more exquisite than the palest rose. The touch of your skin is more exciting than the most fabulous silk and-"
Petulant to an extreme, Dee Dee pushed the gushing masher away. "I think I liked you better as an arrogant asshole. You're so sweet I'm getting a toothache! Quit that!" she admonished when Dan reached for her again. "You're making me mad!" Dee Dee cried, raising her little foot to stamp it.
"Whoa!" the girl chided herself. "That usually gets me in trouble." To Darter she hissed, "What's with you? Damn, you've got more arms than an octopus!"
The struggle between man and woman continued as the elevator surged upwards.
Chapter 112: Crisis in the Right House --Tangor
Ed Nyce looked out the window of the Pellucifer Burrower and shook his head. "Would you look at that? President Blimpton's been caught with his pants down again."
Carmon Nappie, at the periscope, shouted, "That's not all. There's an alien invasion in full swing, laddies!"
Nyce negligently nodded upon receiving the information. "I suppose they've heard that Paul Jones,that co-complainant in the Tin Star investigation, was found not-guilty of contextual harassment in the American History Department where Bill Blimpton once held senior chair. Blimpton, accused of re-writing history for the better good of the politically correct, and to enhance his chances of election to the highest office in the United States, had better watch out. Tin Star and his colleagues at the University of Iwananoital have formed a panel of die-hard historians to make sure the truth, as history portrays it, is made known to the public at large."
Lord Greatstroke frowned. "Ed, what the hell does that have to do with things?"
The cigarette puffing author jutted his chin in a very Roosevelt fashion and glared at Devon McGuinness with a steady eye. "Damn little, if you must know. When I wrote all those Ratnaz stories my editors would not let me comment on Political Things, and by golly, I'm going to do it at least ONCE in this tale."
"But you aren't writing it. Besides, this is Tangor's chapter and he's about as apolitical as you can get. How'd you get this in without him knowing?"
"Ah, don't worry about Tangor. He sleeps more now that the doctors have scared the bejezzus out of him. This is the part Sherman wrote and I'll tell you this, in the vuglar vernacular of today's youth, it really sucks. We're in for a bumpy ride. If I could only get my hands on Tangor's multi-tiered computer keyboard, why I'd write the most fabulous-"
Ratnaz rolled on the floor of the Pellucifar Burrower and sat up with a groan. "What happened? Bertie? Bertie? Where are you?"
"I'm here, honey," the woman said soothingly. She knelt beside her legendary lover and threw her arms about his thick neck. "Oh, I'm so glad you weren't injured butting heads with an Englishman." Her voice took on an admonishing tone. "Really, Ratz, you should learn to control your temper. You're a grown man."
The Lord of the Leaves lowered his head, mumbling beneath his breath, "Only when Tangor, the Warlord of Words, or the general public allow it." Suddenly, with more spirit, the jungle lord grinned. "Well, that's all water under the bridge. I feel much improved after recent events, and mayhaps that physical contest with yon Englishman has done me good. My thought processes have increased measurably with every knock on the cranium. I wonder if it is medically possible that physical trauma visited upon the thought processing organ of the human body might actually result in higher intelligence?"
Edgar Nyce furrowed his brow. "Bertie, shut him up! We have work to do."
Meanwhile on stage, Hillie Billman in drag as Hilary Blimpton, charged into the mass of alien monsters brandishing an American flag standard like a harpoon. The vast grayish-white cigar-shaped alien ship suggested, to his demented mind, a long-imagined adversary. "I've got you now, you devil of the deep!"
Dodging the multitude of creepy-crawly aliens and their powerful flouresent silly string shooters, the West Virginian Canuck valiantly assaulted the metallic skin of the landing craft. Each thrust of his make-shift weapon removed side mirrors, running lights, aerials, mud-flaps and wheel covers. Within seconds a veritable junk yard was assembled at his stiletto pump clad feet--one of flesh and blood, the other the well-worn end of his spit-polished hickory peg leg. Repeatedly, while shouting whaling chanties at full roar, Hilary methodically disassembled the alien spaceship.
Of Blimpton and the other officials there was no sign. How they disappeared, or why, Sherman was not author enough to explain-and Tangor was too preoccupied with restoring some semblance of order to the chaotic and disjointed parody to try to sort it out. But Tang-Gor and his aliens were very much present (a concession made by the Texican since his Canadian literary opponent had obviously invested a great deal of mental effort in producing the absurd plot line). However, Tangor had other fish to fry, plotwise, therefore the Warlord of Words will have to extricate the aliens of Betatuna from the predicament which currently imperils them.
Tangor's authoritative voice startled the myopic Captain Marble. "Gulp!" that worthy uttered. "Curses, foiled again!"
"Listen son, if you're going to do parody, at least make it plausible." Tangor walked around the desktop littered with technology and gadgets rarely seen outside of experimental labs or government spook facilities. "Take that silly costume off. We've got work to do."
The phone rang.
"Get that, Sherman," Tangor said, settling into his chair and swiftly clearing his computers.
The freckle-faced toady answered the call. "It's Spaid. The Jeddak of the North is mushing through Utah now."
"Good. Tell Cam 'Phase Two begins now.'"
"Oh, and when you're done, get that Twain fellow on line. There's a few things I'd like to discuss with him."
"Sherman, you're an amazingly annoying little twit, but I have to admire your politeness. WEll--get on with it, son, time's a-wastin'!"
Basking in the glow of any recognition from the brilliant author, Sherman applied himself diligently to the tasks at hand.
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
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