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
BOOK XI by Bill Hillman
THE NORTHERN JEDDAK’S ODYSSEY
IN SEARCH OF EDGAR NYCE
A Picayune Picaresque of a Pickled, Plastered, Picaroon Pillager
CHAPTER 113: On Board JedSled X.1 -- The Spruce Moose
CHAPTER 114: Megadoka Motel Hell: Camp Disaster
CHAPTER 115: The Man From H.O.O.V.E.R.
CHAPTER 116: In the Minidoka Hills Where I Was Borne
Jeddak's OB Odyssey Log: Day 4 Pt. 1
CHAPTER 117: The Valley Dorm Plant People and the Amazing Secret of
Megadoka's Lost Empire of the Sun -- Jeddak's OB Odyssey Log:
Day 4 Pt. 2
CHAPTER 118: Ratnaza or Bust... The Latter Prevails
CHAPTER 119: The Confidential Journal of Edgar Nyce: The Early Years
CHAPTER 120: The Long-Lost Writing Notebook of Edgar Nyce
CHAPTER 121: The Jeddak Strikes Back... and Out
CHAPTER 122: Edgar Nyce Has Left the Building:
The Jeddak’s Odyssey Comes to an End?
CHAPTER 113: On Board JedSled X.1 --
The Spruce Moose --Bill Hillman
Famous Canadian Warlord of Words Feared Killed in Tragic Sled Mishap
There are unconfirmed reports today of a fatal accident involving the well-known, beloved, handsome and brilliant Jeddak of the North. Emergency rescue vehicles have been called to a Detroit suburb -- one of the few cities in the world which can claim to be north of Canada [check it out folks... I didn't draw the borders] -- to clear the wreckage resulting from the collision between a speeding Zamboni and what is believed to be the Jeddak's famous Spruce Moose RV JedSled.
"Yesss! The News Services bought it... it'll be in all the papers... ah... the wonders of modern communication. It's not every day ya can write your own Obit and have it sent around the world in a matter of minutes. This otta throw the Texan off track and give him a false sense of security."
The Jeddak glanced up from the slightly exaggerated report of his demise to stare into the wild wapiti eyes of Lawrence Elk who was loping alongside the JedSled. The elk had left his post as advance scout and was jabbering wildly through the portside porthole in the language of the creatures of the wild -- the very guttural `Moose Jaw'.
Are You Being Swerved?
"KREEG-AH ZU GUND! ZU WAPPI ETA-GO-GO TARMANGANI GUND!"
"RAK LARRYELK?" replied the Jeddak. "DANDO PANDA!"
"BPOELK UTOR ZU DAKO AT DAK RY GASH GUND PAMBO SUKS! TAND YO! ZU SORD PAMBO! DAN-DO! DAN-DO! ADU KOR GOM WALA! ELK BUNDOLO ZU PAMBO!" growled Lawrence.
Despite the fact that every Canadian raised in the northern wilds has some ability to talk to the animals, this city-bred Dr. "DoneLittle" needed some translation help. The Word Wizard reached for a well-worn pile of Edgar Nyce Dull comic books and after a period of rapid page flipping through Annuals and 52-pagers, he poked his head back through the larboard porthole and replied to his trusty horned scout:
"Yes. I believe I understand. You have recounted an encounter between our lead animal Cleaver Beaver and a stranger in a double-breasted suit, probably from Oregon, who used the feminine wiles of a female of the rodent species to lure away our faithful lead beaver ... and who then put a ringer in the traces to lead us off course? Gad! The nerve of them. This can only be more of Tangor's insidious work.
Neither Rain, Sleet, Snow, nor the Dark of Night...
The Jeddak lost no time in climbing through the top hatch and onto the observation deck. Once he regained his topside balance on the swaying, top-heavy Spruce Moose JedSled, he groped his way forward until he reached the large wicker navigation rocking chair stationed just over the prow of the sled. Once strapped in, he placed his size 12 Gucci mukluks firmly on the forward safety rail of the deck and had soon propelled the squeaking chair into a frantic rocking motion. When he had gained sufficient velocity he wet his a middle finger which he raised to the breeze to determine the sled speed and direction based on his unfailing meteorological instincts and knowledge of prevailing wind currents.
"Mmm... We are speeding in a SouthWesterly direction... straight for Ratnaza, California! Just as I thought... Tangor has huddled away in the safety of his Texas stronghold and has sent his henchmen to sabotage my mission. All right. I'll play their silly game. I shall have to postpone my little Texas sortie."
Harrod Hews and the Zen of Sled Maintenance
Now with nothing to do but wait, he lowered himself into the sled cabin and took time to admire the workmanship of his amazing JedSled -- the Spruce Moose. The huge multi-tiered, plywood sled was a one-of-a-kind prototype that he had obtained from the wood-crafting division of Al Frayd e'Numin's Harrods of London: the Harrod Hews Annex. Their designers had modeled the sled on the Allen J. St. Jacques' illustrations of airships in the Edgar Nyce Mars-Uranus books.
There apparently had been some trouble on its maiden slide. The top Frayd test pilot had pushed the vehicle to its limits in a test run along the Seine River in Paris, but the inebriated pilot had clipped a speeding Mercedes at the entrance to a busy underpass. Damage had been minimal to the sled - a broken stern light - but for some inexplicable reason, the Harrod Hews carpenters hurriedly repainted the craft and rushed it across the Atlantic where the Jeddak had taken early delivery.
The Canadian had actually welcomed a chance to take the sled on a long voyage because he had been harassed of late by a procession of strong-arms from far-away places... shifty looking characters with strange sounding names: Omar Kadaffi Duk - Sodam Hinsein - Solong Rushdie - Kareen Abdrul-Jabba-Hut - Nik Roksoff - Yessir Iarfat - Ringo. Not all of them were a hindrance, however... one of them, Benjamin Net'N'Yahoo, proved to be most useful in setting up an onboard Internet access system.
The Pride of Rube Goldberg
To take off some of the heat, the Jeddak had camouflaged the sled in his own inimitable style: the neighbourhood kids had scotch-taped a huge but somewhat moth-eaten moosehead figurehead to the prow, the pair of net-stockinged leg lamps that Mrs. Jeddak had never allowed into the house were mounted on either side of the moosehead to serve as headlights, and a multitude of treasures procured from neighbourhood yard sales finished off the custom job in the finest Rube Goldberg tradition.
The vehicle was so splendid that it was borrowed for a week by the world famous Canadian Snowboarding team. The Jeddak didn't have the heart to charge them for the use of the vehicle as their team was so underfunded that they couldn't even afford cigarettes -- many a time he saw them sharing and passing around the same roll-your-own butt.
Secret Agent Rat
"I wonder if I can get some dope on Tangor's beaver agent. Aha... I got it." The ever-resourceful Canuck reached for his powerful WWII vintage field glasses and focused on the waving flat tail of the bogus lead beaver. There in plain view was the ubiquitous Canadian Department of Natural Resources ID Number branded on the underside of the tail. This was all he needed. A few deft keystrokes on the computer keyboard accessed the privileged information the Jeddak sought:
Top Secret Dossier - For Your Eyes Only
CDNR ID# 123-123-123-dip
* Benjamin Kubelsky, AKA Benny the Steroid Beaver AKA Buck AKA Blue Eyes
*Born 39 years ago in Waukegan, Illinois
* Spent formative years as engineer in Northern Manitoba Boreal Forest
* Drafted and served a stint in US Navy SEALS
* Medical discharge: flat feet
* Drifted into a number of underworld mercenary activities in troublespots including Anaheim, Azusa, and Cucamonga, California.
* Services easily bribed by the highest bidder
"That's just the information I need. I'll soon have this fur ball in my pocket."
One for Ripley's Believe It or Not
The Jeddak then turned to a more immediate and insidious sabotage threat. Not too long into the journey he had become aware of mounds of sawdust appearing everywhere in the JedSled interior. Upon investigating, his worst fears were confirmed: there was an illegal alien on board!
Further research on the Internet identified the alien as a nasty Siberian Spruce Weevil - the rapacious Bores Rippenkoff AKA Evel the Weevil. He even managed to trace the weevil’s origins to a cargo of Siberian spruce, which the Harrod Hews Stores had imported for their factories in the Thames dockyards. Already there had been numerous onboard confrontations in which the harried warrior of words tested every weapon in his deadly aerosol arsenal -- so far, all efforts had failed and the apparently invincible alien still carried on with his incessant assault.
As the mission moved on tirelessly to the SW, the brave pilot was unaware that in its wake the H.M.C.S. Spruce Moose was leaving an ever-growing trail of sawdust.
CHAPTER 114: Megadoka Motel Hell:
Camp Disaster --Bill Hillman
The Two Pun Dope Flies South
Westerners are friendly people. Fellow travellers greeted the northern voyageur with a barrage of greetings and well wishes as he guided his powerful sled along the Idaho Interstate: a tumultuous honking of horns, celebratory shouts, and fists raised in victory salutes. Many of them even motioned their hands in half peace signs or perhaps they were just double checking highway speeds, as the Jeddak was wont to do, with middle fingers thrust boldly into the slip stream and air currents.
The Jeddak's gallant expedition had successfully avoided all radar traps along I-84 and was well into southern Idaho when it dawned on the adventurer that he was traversing familiar territory. Years of studying the Edgar Nyce biographies had etched a multitude of placenames into his consciousness. He realized that esteemed literary scholars and Nyce researchers such as Campbell Heinz, Bess Porges, Fenton Hardy, Captain Flint, and Dick Lopoff had done their jobs well as he recognized names such as the Lois and Clark Trail, River Wass, Sawptooth Mountains, Kamaphutra River Bed... and the biggest thrill of all -- the Freeway sign that proclaimed: "One Mile to Highway 937 - Minidoka and the Dangerous Old Abandoned No Access, No Trespassing, Edgar Nyce Deep Space Mine - Exit."
Yes, this was the area where the master storyteller had spent his formative years working at a gaggle of occupations: steer wrangler, houseboat captain, corset salesman, night watchman, gold digger and pencil sharpener. And it was here that he found the gold to fund an adventure-filled automobile trek, which eventually led him to even greater fame and fortune in Ratnaza, California. The Jeddak confirmed this information by referring to a series of maps and photos published in back issues of the Nyce fanzines EN-ania and ENCRAPA. The countryside reeked of history... and something else. He had to find a shower for his hard-working beasts of labour.
Keep on Trekkin’
He realized that Tangor's stooge beaver in trying to lead him off course had accidentally stumbled upon the Mecca of every OB fan. Rumour had it that even OB periodically returned here for inspiration. It was only when he noticed a billboard announcing the luxuries of the nearby Megadoka Motel that the Jeddak realized how tired he was and took the motel exit. After checking into the roadside oasis, his first thought was for the sled team animals.
The team was led by the elite K-9 Corps followed by the grunts -- the team's muscle: Laurence Elk, Roseanne Bear, Johnny Walrus, Adam Grizzly, Ma and Pa Cattle, and Sterling Moose. Sterling was particularly valuable to have along. Whenever the Jeddak felt they were behind schedule he turned the controls over to him - he was real daredevil behind the g-pole. He also proved his worth at feeding time when the team gathered around the junk food vending machine. A much younger Sterling had posed for the moose picture that the Canadian Mint uses on all Canadian quarters and as part of the recompense he was able to buy quarters wholesale from the Mint. As a result he always had a bag of quarters that he was willing to dole out for Twinkies and Nachos.
After the team was fed and showered everyone staked out a spot on the motel room floor while the Jeddak used his skill with the television remote to entertain the assemblage with lightning fast channel surfing. He was exceptionally fast this evening as there were only three available channels. The weather on the Weather Channel was particularly uneventful, the Shopping Channel was showing reruns of their best buys of 1989 and the Nostalgia Channel was featuring the Sci Fi epics Bambi Meets Godzilla and Hardware Wars. The media were strangely silent about the alien weather balloon invasion but there was a prominent countdown to midnight 2000 at the bottom right of the screen.
While surfing through the weather channel, the Jeddak noticed that weather seemed to end at the US-Canada border. As a “Manatorban” -- as locals pronounce it (actually Manitoba) -- the Canadian was always amazed that once he travelled south of 49 degrees latitude there ceased to be any mention or acknowledgement in America that anything lay Beyond 49. The entire media and populace of the country were convinced that the area consisted of only forbidden barren wilderness -- a no-man's land whose only claims to fame were the exportation of Battle Chess champions and cold fronts.
After having cried through Bambi Meets Godzilla everyone in the room was ready for something a little less depressing. They were about to turn off the Tele when the opening voice-over for an old re-run caught the Canadian's attention.
Mr. Dimwittie, the Misologist Proffered for Coronation
"Tonight our combined episode of `This is Your Life' and `Queen...’ ah er ... ‘King for a Day' honours that Texas man of many words and few readers: TANGOR. Welcome to our throne of honour Tang... may I call you Tang... ah... oh... I'm sorry -- Mr. Tan Gor."
As the team started to doze off, the Jeddak stayed awake long enough to see a parade of people from the Texan's formative years. Pretty boring stuff and it soon bogged down in saccharine treacle. Only a few words penetrated the hazy curtain of sleep: crazy inventions, vine swinging, highland and ballet lessons, garage bands, Bleatles, torrid affair with a female drill instructor, ukulele lessons, etch-a-sketch computer consultant, devoted and long-suffering Mrs. Tangor...
“Bah! Tangor... the ingrate! He was nothing until I propelled him to International stature. He’s been showered with fame and fortune thanks to our co-authoring work on the Ratnaz Files. It’s all gone to his head. He fudged the account books ... my last royalty cheque was for 46 cents... Canadian! And that Texas blowhard? He lives the good life: big fancy cars, new luxury house, multi-tiered computers, European vacations for Mrs. Tangor, luxury excursions to the Tennessee hills. Yes... a classic case of Hollywood studio style royalty manipulation!”
The Jeddak realized that he owed it to Lawrence and Sterling to let them have a good night's sleep so he let them share his bed. He soon came to rue the decision: Sterling snored -- Lawrence insisted on hanging onto his night-time-sleep-buddy doll, Rosemary's Barbie -- and both of them tossed and turned and fought for control of the Hudson Bay blanket. Despite the obstacles which lay between the northern traveller and the Land of Nod he soon realized he was drifting off...
CHAPTER 115: The Man from H.O.O.V.E.R.
Wilya Kurmyakin? --Bill Hillman
The Final Problem?
The Jeddak of the North stared disbelieving at the storefront in front of him and then back at the scrap of crumpled paper in his hand.
"Hmmm... 2222 Dolt Street, Houston, Texas. “Nutty Napoleon's Vacuum World -- Home of the Crazy Deals?!?” This can't be it. I thought Tangor was in some sort of a high tech computer business. Anyway, it won't hurt to ask inside."
He swung open the heavy aluminum and glass door but before he could enter, was almost trampled by a panic-stricken, screaming woman in a dirt-covered white dress. Behind her raced a stammering man brandishing a vacuum hose with huge carpet cleaning attachment in one hand and a half-empty pail of black soot in the other.
"But Madame... let me explain... it's only a demonstration... this deluxe model will restore your dress to its original sparkling white... wait... come back... O crud.... Another one."
"Pardon me. Is this 2222 Dolt Street? I'm looking for Mr. Tangor."
"Yes. Central Vac, Rainbow, Dust Buster, Dirt Devil, Hoover -- and are you in luck. We have a special this week on our top model Electrolux."
"Aaahh... You see I've come all the way from Canada to talk to him about the Ratnaz Fi...."
"RATNAZ! Why didn't you say so man? This way. Quickly."
The Jeddak was unceremoniously pulled behind the service counter where the Hoover man proceeded to engage a lever which forced a large Electrolux display panel to swing open, revealing a room brimming with computer equipment. As the panel closed behind them, the man threw off his Dirt Devil wedge cap and his official Hoover service apron and turned to accost the startled Jeddak.
"And you must be... HIM! What are you doing here? How did you find me? Who knows you're here?" asked the Texan in shaky hushed tones.
The two men stared at one another and gradually each regained his composure.
"Well... you must be starved and exhausted after your long journey -- we'll talk business later. Please sit down and I'll get you a drink. I'll ring Mrs. Tangor and have her bring you some of her famous meatloaf.”
"But I have something very important to discuss with you Mr. Tangor. It's about..."
"Later my good fellow -- in due time. Our business can wait until we attend to your needs. Ah, my dear... you've brought the meatloaf... prepared extra special for our friend from the north I hope."
Meatloaf Under the Display Board Lights
The Canadian visitor wheeled around in time to see a shadowy figure wisp her way back through a Dutch door leading to what he presumed to be a kitchen. Noticing that his host was busy preparing cocktails, the Jeddak took the opportunity to look around the room. Displayed on the giant 42 inch monitor above the multi-tiered computer keyboards was evidence of photos and personal files on scores of Edgar Nyce fans. This confirmed his suspicions that the man was extremely dangerous... and strengthened his resolve to stop the miscreant’s nefarious activities at all costs.
"Aha! You've noticed my little toys, have you? What do you think? Magnifique n'est pas, mon ami? Do you mind if we speak English my Canadian friend? Alas, my grasp of French is somewhat lacking. You do speak some English up there, do you not?"
Tangor's semi-rhetorical questions fell on deaf ears as the Jeddak was well into his second Ratnaz Special and had already wolfed down two helpings of Mrs. Tangor's famous meatloaf. Most people eat to live... the Jeddak lived to eat. After licking his plate for the second time, he rose to make his way over to the steaming pot for thirds, but a nauseating wooziness came over him. He stumbled to the centre of the room and squinted at Tangor through unfocused eyes.
"You! That cursed meatloaf... you tricked me... you scoundrel...."
Tangor eased over to the shelves which displayed his treasured Pat Boone video library. He skipped over the complete set of Pat’s MTV appearances, “Heavy Metal Unplugged,” and located his all-time favourite Pat Boone classic, "Journey to the Centre of the Earth." With a maniacal giggle, the tittering Texan pulled on the top of the cassette. The tape sleeve tilted halfway and a relay clicked.
The Jeddak was close to unconsciousness but he felt the floor open up under him and he realized he was falling to certain death in Tangor's infamous pit of doom.
CHAPTER 116: In the Minidoka Hills Where I Was
Borne -- Jeddak's OB Odyssey Log: Day 4 – Pt. 1
One Good Turn Gets...
I awoke in a cold sweat. Had I survived the fall into the pit of doom? My eyes opened onto a scene of complete carnage... there were bodies of beasts piled everywhere and a terrible fusion of hoofs and paws, fur and feathers, snouts and beaks, heads and tails.
Gradually my terror subsided as I realized that my meeting with the evil Tangor had been only a dream - a nightmare. I was still in the Megadoka Motel, surrounded by my faithful wheezing and snoring sled team. All night I had battled with my bedmates, Sterling and Lawrence, for possession of the elusive "Shroud of Turnin'" -- and lost -- they got the blanket and I got the floor.
The morning sun rejuvenated us all and it was good to be back in the traces. Last night I had slipped Benny the Beaver a bribe -- chips, thousands of surplus VIC-22 computer chips -- he has gone completely hi tech and doesn't touch birch bark chips any more. I realized that since we were in historic Edgar Nyce territory that I could use Benny's great knowledge of the wilds to lead us on the scenic route shortcut to Ratnaza, California and to retrace the important automobile trek taken by Nyce in his formative years.
The Old Apache War Chief Waits… and Waits…
Homing instinct and reference to my crudely drawn map led Benny off the Freeway in search of a shortcut to take us to the first stop on the retracing of OB's route. Within a few miles we came upon a decrepit sign: OLD ABANDONED DEEP SPACE MINE -- POISONOUS GASSES - KEEP OUT. Although the entrance was heavily boarded over, clouds of billowing putrid yellow-orange noxious gasses were being emitted through the cracks between the boards. The odour was reminiscent of the type usually found hovering over Taco Bull parking lots on Friday nights. Undaunted I left the Spruce Moose and climbed to the mine on foot. Suddenly a grey-haired Apache who appeared to materialize from out of nowhere barred my way.
"KEMO SABE CHIC ASAW WAC CAM AW IRO QUOIS SI OUX SUSQUE HANNA MISS IS AUGA KIC KAP POO CHOC TAW CHIP PEWA YAK IMAC REE SISSIP AHAW WICH ITA PAW NEE CHER OKEE APA CHE MO HAVE MAN DAN SHAW NEE COM ANCHE MI AMI CHEY ENNE APA LACHE MUSKO GEE TUT CHONE NAV AJO MISS OURI SHO SHONE ARA PAHO TO RON TO SASK ATOON SASK ATCHE WAN WIN NIP EG MINNE DOSA ASSI NI BOINE!!!"
"New to these parts are you stranger? I'll say it again: BEWARE!"
The old man stumbled off, muttering under his breath: "Jeez. He's not thinking of goin' in there is he! These white guys got no sense of smell. Gotta be somethin' dead in there. What a stench. Silly ass!"
Then he was gone almost as quickly as he had appeared.
What the Carrion Caves Revealed
I sensed from the urgency and fear in the man's voice that he was actually giving me a warning and was pleading with me to stay away from the mine. I fought back a sudden irrational chilling fear and pried off enough boards to allow entry. After successfully squeezing through the narrow cleft I found myself in a long tunnel with unusually smooth and glowing walls. As I progressed farther into the tunnel, the stench increased and the noise reached an almost unbearable decibel level.
Upon rounding a bend in the tunnel there was just enough light to discern the letters on an ancient advertising display board propped up against the tunnel wall: “Vacuum World's Special of the Month: Tangor's Pit of Doom -- North Annex Entrance.” It was fortunate that I had stopped to read the sign, for as I looked down I found myself teetering on the brink of a pit opening that barred my way. Arising from the abyss was a horrific pandemonium. My ears were assaulted with a cacophony of wailing and gnashing of teeth... and endless spiels, which sounded like multi-tracked, endless sales pitches of door-to-door vacuum salesmen.
I got up the nerve to take a running leap over the putrid opening to this abandonded stope shaft which apparently had been taken over by the devious Tangor. Another turn in the tunnel, however, brought me to a dead end. A giant, perfectly round boulder appeared to have been rolled in to block the tunnel exit as I could see daylight entering around its spherical mass. I paused for a moment to assess my situation. Looking around I noticed that the tunnel walls were covered with an abundance of graffiti.
"Gnu son of Ung Was Here" "Jonar loves Joon, My Princess" "Stayin' Alive"
"Waldo Loves Nadar" “Beware Tangor’s Club”
While perusing this puzzling, yet vaguely familiar graffiti, I stumbled over two bodies. In a typically Canadian reaction, driven by generations steeped in ingrained politeness, I exclaimed: "Oops! Pardon me, eh." My face was flooded with a strange blue light given off by an aura emanating from two motionless, prostrate embracing bodies: a near-naked woman, her voluptuous body decorated with bejeweled leather harness, and a handsome man in a Confederate Captain's uniform of American Civil War vintage. There was no sign of life in either of the bodies.
Stooping down for closer examination, my only thought was that this couple must have been relics from some crazy Science Fiction convention. Both glowing bodies were warm but there was no sign of a pulse. Nor was there any evidence of ID except for the name "Captain John R. Cash - Virginia" inscribed on the scabbard of the man's cavalry sword. The woman was of exceptional beauty and possessed strangely radiant copper-red complexion. Both the man and the woman appeared to be about thirty years old.
"Incredible! He looks just like Mother’s old pictures of my Uncle Jack!"
Further investigation revealed a nearby Apache Devil Chewing Tobacco tin containing a number of thick manuscripts. I opened one of the documents and thumbed through the pages. The colour and texture of the paper was like none I had ever seen. Upon thumbing through the pages I discovered that the frontispiece displayed the title:
"Dead Seas of Mars Scrolls: A Memoir by Jonar and Joon Carter"
"ON THE MEGADOKA HILLS: I am a very old man; I think maybe a couple hundred or more.... flip... my name is Captain Jack R. Cash of Virginia.... flip... we had tied one on the night before and I became so drowsy I threw myself to the floor of the mine... flip... delicious dreaminess overcame me and something snapped... flip... stretched out my arms toward the immensity of space and experienced extreme cold and utter darkness ... flip... MY ADVENT: I opened my eyes upon a strange and weird landscape surrounded by menacing green frogs – Brondildia? ... flip...incubator... flip-flip... GOOD NEWS / BAD NEWS: ... and I rescued my Princess from the Farks, was declared Warlord of Lampoon, and married the incomparable Joon Carter in the great Hall of Krypton... flip... going to be hard to explain this one to the guys back home but local tradition decrees that I must adopt my wife's surname. Anyway, I guess Jonar Carter's got a pretty good ring to it... flip... Ring of Fire... flip... the heat was incredible. Could I get to the thermostat in time? I reached for the switch and swooned."
"Looks like pretty far-fetched stuff," I mused as I tossed the manuscript into my back pack and reached for a second one written on more worldly paper -- yellowed business paper with the letterhead Chicago Pencil Company. A glance inside revealed the title to be: "The Personal Journal and Writing Notebook of Edgar Nyce." My excitement was unbounded but before I could examine this second manuscript, I was overcome by a feeling of nausea. I hastily threw my new-found treasures into my backpack and turned to look for an exit.
Unexpectedly, the large rock rolled away revealing sunlight and emitting fresh air. My only thought was to reach the safety offered by this new opening as I stumbled toward the light, woozy from vapours. A sense of delicious dreaminess overcame me, my muscles relaxed and this semi-euphoric state was followed by an instant of extreme and utter darkness. I opened my eyes on a strange and weird landscape and gulped in the fresh mountain air in startled amazement.
CHAPTER 117: Amazing Secrets Revealed:
The Valley Dorm Plant People and Megadoka's Lost Empire of the Sun
[Jeddak's OB Odyssey Log: Day 4 - Part 2 ] --Bill Hillman
The panorama which sprawled below had me half-convinced that the cave gases were playing tricks with my sanity. Stretching to the distant peaks was a lush, hidden mountain valley, teeming with life and artifacts of a day long past.
A high barbed wire barricade with abandoned lookout towers and searchlights enclosed an extensive area filled with dormitories and stores, and even a school, hospital, radio station, baseball diamond, theatre and Pachinko parlor. The Stars & Stripes, with 48 stars, flew from every building.
Past the fenced compound sprawled fields of garden crops and orchards that filled the valley floor and lower slopes.
My curiosity aroused, I raised and focused my field glasses for a closer look. A sign over the main gate read: Valley Dorm Relocation Internment Concentration Camp for Japanese Civilians – est. 1942. While down at ground level a softer more informal sign read: Welcome to Valley Dorm - Home of the Plant People.
In the Niche of Time
Walking the streets were men sporting wide-brimmed hats and draped double breasted suits, women in print dresses with short hemlines and padded shoulders, and youngsters wearing zoot suits, Sloppy Joe sweaters and penny loafers -- clothes which haven't been in fashion for over 50 years -- outside of Cleveland.
A symphony of sounds wafted up the slope to my perch at the tunnel mouth: happy carefree sounds reminiscent of simpler and more innocent times. The sound of radios from almost every window melded with the voices of people walking the tree-lined streets. "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men... Gangbusters!... He hunts the biggest of all game... ...another tale well calculated to keep you in Suspense!... the breakfast cereal shot from guns presents... Get outta here you big lug or I'll call the coppers... No, don't open that closet McGee... Aw shuddup… Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar... "
As I panned the binoculars across the valley floor I noticed for the first time that there was another cluster of buildings at the far end of the intermontane rift. I could just make out the letters on the sign over the entrance to this walled settlement: Achtung! Japanese Sweinhunt Verboten. All Others Welcome to Good Hope Hutterite Colony.
Panning back to the settlement immediately below I was fascinated by the strange dichotomy of the sign messages:
Outside the high barbed wire fence hung signs displaying slogans such as "STOP - AREA LIMITS - For Persons of Japanese Ancestry Residing in this Relocation Center -- A Jap's a Jap! - Beware of the Alien - Yellow Menace - Yellow Devils Go Home - Remember Pearl Harbor -- We'll take the Hit out of Hitler and our Joes will get Tojo.
Inside the fence, however, were signboards containing noticeably different types of messages: "I Am An American - Why are we 'forever at war?' – God Bless America - For a good time try Pennsylvania 6-5000 - Now playing at the Strand Theatre for a record breaking 2757 weeks: Lost Horizon... Today's game: Brooklyn Dodgers Megadoka Farm Team Intra-squad Game #11001 and 55th Annual Try-out... Join the River Wass Scavengers Canoe Club."
Rip Van Tojo
"You from the outside?"
I whirled around to confront the source of the heavily accented voice which accosted me from behind. Standing in the tunnel mouth was a man in a tattered and soiled World War II Japanese army uniform. I find it impossible to tell the age of Asians -- he could have been anywhere between 78 and 80.
"War over yet stranger? How's the President doing?" came a second query.
"Well he's keeping a step ahead of impeachment, but..."
"No, no, how's old FDR's health, still using that wheel chair? Or has that Dewey guy really taken over... seem to remember reading something about him in a headline on a newspaper that blew in a while back."
"What are you doing here... in that uniform... and the people in the valley down there... what place is this?"
"You got time for long story stranger? Well... my name is Colonel Itchikoo Gitchigumi of the Japanese Imperial Army, Secret Service Division. After Pearl Harbor I took a trip to California in one of our subs and..."
This seemed to ring true as I remembered seeing it all documented in the acclaimed Steve Spillberg documentary – “1941” - a while back.
"...somehow I got mixed up with all the local suspects they rounded up and sent to the Valley Dorm Relocation Internment Camp. Patriotic American fools... I was the only one in the whole camp who was true to our glorious homeland, Japan. Not one of the idiots would help me try to escape... so I did it myself... I dug... and I dug..."
"But why is the camp still here? Why weren't they released back in 1945? Who lives in the settlement at the other end of the valley? Why are you in that military uniform?"
"Why?... You mean the war is over? Well that explains it. A few years ago, musta bin 1945 or so, we woke up and the guards were all gone... and the gates were open. Fools were so damned patriotic they just kept on with the routine... every stupid one of them was willing to remain in that horrible self-sufficient camp until someone came to tell them the war was over. They've slaved in the fields for years and every day at sunset they dutifully march back to the compound and slam the gates. Not me. I escaped.
"The only white guys around here are those German fellers in that Hutterite Colony across the valley. They showed up around `44... seems their German lingo and commune living wasn't too popular 'out there'."
They Got Their Molejowerkin
The old soldier waved his rusted blade in a broad arc indicating the area beyond the valley. This seemed to signal the arrival of a band of furry people who filed out of the mine mouth. Each of the stooped, hairy creatures dragged some sort of archaic garden tool and a pushed shopping cart. There was something very familiar about their faces... maybe it was the great mole on the nose... I had seen these faces before... somewhere... then I remembered: the mysterious Cydonian face on Mars before it had been camouflaged for the benefit of the NASA Global Surveyor close-up probe. Yes... and the Sphinx... before carousing French soldiers had shot the mole and part of the nose off the face.
"Wha...? Who in heck are..."
"These are the Hidden World people... my good friends the Mole people. You see, I dug for a long time but never did dig all the way through to the homeland."
"Honourable Tojowerkin we have all assembled. We are ready for the night raid and will hide in the rocks and eat our veggie lunch, as usual, till dark," came the chirping, whining voice of the Mole leader.
"Night raid?" I asked.
"Yes, my faithful Mole people rescued me years ago when I became hopelessly lost in the myriad caverns of the Hidden World -- somewhere in the Moleholevicic layer between the Lithosphere and Mantle. In appreciation I led them to a perpetual source of free veggies. Every night we roam through the fields of the Japanese Plant People and German Communes and take what we like."
"Don't they realize what is going on?"
"Ha! That's the beauty of it. Each of the two settlements thinks the other is involved in the raids... and none of them come out at night. My foolish patriotic Japanese brothers dutifully return to the compound at sundown and close the gates as they used to do when the guards were still here. The God-fearing Hutterites have some sort of religious curfew. We go shopping almost every night. The surface idiots are in a perpetual state of war over this. Enough about us... what brings you here stranger?"
"Well, I started out for Texas to save the world but now I'm on a personal odyssey -- guess I'm a sort of "Wrong-Way Warlord of Words." I am retracing the route of the master of imaginative fantasy adventure and the FATHER of science-fiction Edgar Nyce... and..."
My words threw the Mole mass into an excited frenzy: "Edgar Nyce!... OB!... The Great One is your father!?! O mighty one! We bow to you. Long have we awaited the return of your father to the Hidden World. Welcome O Great One... O great son of OB. If only our noble leader Molejowerkin could return from his reconnaissance mission in time to meet you."
My protestations had no affect in correcting their misunderstanding of my words. However, this nauseating display of hero worship came to a sudden stop as a root-covered furry head popped up under a nearby sagebrush.
"Aha... he cometh now...he is back. Welcome honourable Molejowerkin... you are very fortunate... the son of the Great OB honours us a visit."
"OB-wan-in-Kanobe!!!" screamed the still half-buried Mole man. "The Great One is a traitor! He lied about us in the stories he wrote for the surface people. He is behind all the terrible disasters, which have befallen our people. He has brought death and destruction with his monstrous burrowing machine. He is a false god. Death to this evil son of OB-wan-in-Kanobe!"
Sensing that the Under World people were turning nasty, I dodged a barrage of half-eaten veggies and I beat a hasty retreat into the mine tunnel. My flight soon became more difficult as someone, or something, rolled the giant rock sphere into the tunnel, cutting off the light from outside. With the granite orb rumbling in close pursuit I cleared Tangor's pit and headed for the mine entrance. In one last desperate lunge I burst through the splintering boards and cleared the platform of the mine entrance ramp -- hurtling freefall off the mountainside!
CHAPTER 118: Ratnaza or Bust...
The Latter Prevails --Bill Hillman
The Bold Rush of the 49ers
The Jeddak of the North lives a charmed existence. His headlong leap off the old abandoned Deep Space Mine ramp was broken by a very startled Canadian elk. The jolt of the falling body kickstarted the lead animal of the JedSled power train into action and the expedition was again galloping en route to Ratnaza, California -- but this time with the Jeddak piloting from a vanguard position on the powerful back of Lawrence Elk.
It turned out to be a good day. The Spruce Moose travelled from Idaho to Northern California -- before lunch. Everywhere along the way were signs of inspiration for the famous Nyce novels: Beatrice's Moo Maid Dairy, Julie Samules' Vegas Stables, Red Hawk Jungle Campground, Barney Torn's Medieval Supper Club, The Mad Barbarian's Used Car Lot, Little War Chiefs' Cub Scout Club House... enough to make any Nyce fan's head spin.
Just after high noon, while passing through the mysterious towering Redwood Forest, the Jeddak guided his entourage under the shade of an Amtrak railway trestle – the Oskpalooka Bridge - and they pulled to a stop for a lunch break. It was only later that he noticed they had stopped close to a hobo jungle. After a quick snack, they were about to resume their journey when a guitar carrying hobo left the throng of misfits who remained huddled around an open fire and approached the JedSled. His rhyming song took everyone aback:
Jammin’ with Billy 'Byrde' Schmucker
"As I was hiking past the woods,
I saw your big glued sled of woods
I saw two things that changed my moods,
a fridge with booze and packs of foods
Out there somewhere we'll ride the range,
a-looking kinda weird and strange;
My feet are tired - I need some change.
Come on! It's up to you! Dudes."
“I take it you're lookin' to hitch a ride stranger,” was the Jeddak’s response. “Guess we got room if you don't have a lotta baggage... and if you don't keep layin' those godawful rhymes on us. What's your name anyway?”
"Ya can call me Billy Byrde... well really it's Billy 'Byrde' Schmucker. Bin everywhere... done everything... bin carousin', wrasslin', and piratin' all over the world. Just come back from a Mexican divorce, where I took some time off to lead a revolution. Lately I bin muckin' 'round, singin' songs and writin' poetry... but there's one thing left that I gotta do... gotta get down to LA and jam with them Blues Buoys. ‘Big Byrde’... that's what they'll call me then... ‘Big Byrde.’ Ya know I'm in line to inherit the Schmucker family fortune in jams and jellies, but I's gotta find meself first. Ole Stubby Tubbs the Two Ton Troubadour give me muh stage name - Billy Byrde he called me -- he knew that with a name like Schmucker I had to be just too good. Ole Stubby sure knows showbiz.
"O ... just about forgot ... got a couple of pals with me. Come over here gals.
"This here's the beautiful XaXa Gahor. [Whisper aside: Pssst… XaXa's an aging sex queen trying to get to Grimley Wave Salon for her weekly makeover.]
"And this here's Lashes La Rue [Whisper aside: Pssst… Lashes is an intern by day and a plaster caster blues band groupie by night. She collects nose casts of big time musicians.] Lashes and me is headed down to see the Blues Buoys at the Farris Big Wheel Club. She's kinda obsessed with a new mystery sax man in the band - that Big Bubba from the deep South."
H.M.C.S. Spruce Moose: California or Carpathia Bound?
As the Spruce Moose carried on southward, its passengers noticed signs of celebration and the wreckage of weather balloon-shaped alien spacecraft everywhere along the roadside. The Jeddak commented: "Hilary's plan must have been successful. There is evidence of New Year’s celebrations everywhere along our route. I'll bet they're decorating him right now at the White House. What a hero."
All the while, Bores Ripley AKA Evel the Weevil had been consuming the wooden parts of the Spruce Moose, leaving an ever-growing trail of sawdust on the road behind. Already large holes had appeared in various parts of the cabin.
"When I get back I'm going to send a formal complaint to the Harrod Hews Corporation. This thing's falling apart. Dang it... we've just lost another all-terrain training wheel. Now we're down to the skids. Uh O... What was that?… Now what? Whew, that feels better... losing that old moose figurehead from the front fuselage opened things up a little. We needed a little more fresh air in here."
To catch the latest news and to break the tedium of the afternoon's journey, the Jeddak turned on the JedSled radio:
The Band That Time Forgot
"...and remember, now that the invading force has been wiped out, you must turn your calendars back to Standard Time from Earth Saving Time. The news and weather have been brought to you by the Dino Oil Company who pump 100 per cent natural petroleum directly from nature's source to your tank. Remember ‘Let Dino Oil put a bone in your tank’.
"And now we take you out to the shores of the scenic Gaspak Tar Pits were we present the grand opening of Southern California's only Mom and Pop gas company: Dino Oil. With our stars: The Band That Time Forgot, THE BLUES BUOYS."
"Hey! Turn it up yuse guys... it's the Blues Buoys," shouted Billy Schmucker as he huddled close to the speaker.
The Boys opened with a couple of Bleatles oldies: “Take Her Back Riding” and “She's Got A Tick In Her Eye.” Their music had a noticeably harder edge since the addition of Big Bubba and his wailing sax.
The band's third number was The Cucaracha (The Cockroach) which Big Bruce and Big Bill sang in halting Spanish. The ditty was given an exhilaratingly authentic feel, however, by the furious background stomps, castanet clicks, whip cracks and exuberant shouts coming from Senorita Reno, the Flamenco dancer that Big Bubba had brought with him from back East.
Another novel twist was added by the band members who sang backup harmonies in what was apparently Spanish: "Daed si rognat ... daed si rognat... daed si daed si, daed si, daed..." over and over behind the Cucaracha verses. The band's cult following who obsessively claimed there were hidden messages in the Blues Buoys songs when played backward, would have a hard time picking anything controversial out of these clever Spanish lyrics.
The Blues Buoys then went straight into the singing commercial they had written especially for Dino Oil:
Gaspak Tar Bones.
"O well de Bo-lo connected to de Sto-lo,
De Sto-lo connected to de Band-lo,
Band-lo connected to de Kro-lo
We's gushin' out another Galoot
Dem bones, dem bones, dem tar bones,
Dem bones, dem bones, dem tar bones,
Dem bones, dem bones, dem tar bones,
We's gushin' out another Galoot"
"Well a great big howdy to ya folks. This is Big Bill speakin' at ya. How we doin' so far? While Big Lawrence and his accordion are on vacation somewhere up in Canada, we gotta whole new sound for ya. How about that Big Bubba, our new down-home mystery boy from Arkansas. Says he gave up his old Civil Service job with government... but he ain’t never givin’ up sax and playin' around -- ain't he somethin'! We've got one more song for you and then we're all heading over to the Farris Big Wheel club for our dinner show... all right... take it away Big..."
Evel’s Out There Somewhere
At that moment the weakened wood of the straining Spruce Moose totally collapsed leaving its passengers clinging to the metal chassis and runners. Evel the Weevil had done his job well.
It was this ragtag derelict that skidded into the Dino Oil parking lot about an hour later -- too late to participate in the opening festivities. As the team pulled up to the service bay, all that remained of the once mighty Spruce Moose gave a shudder and then completely collapsed into a heap of scrap metal.
Resigned to having to leave the sled behind, the crew struck out find their respective destinations. The Jeddak, although he didn't like to brag, did consider himself somewhat of an expert on Southern California. First he gave directions to the team animals who decided to visit relatives at the Gryf Park Zoo. Learning that the Blues Buoys had moved over to the Rodeo Drive location of the Ferris Club, he sent Billy and Lashes out in that direction. He felt obliged to warn them, however, that he believed Rodeo Drive to be a pretty run down part of town since he was pretty sure it was a cowboy chuckwagon racers’ hangout. XaXa, who was anxious to get to the Grimley Wave Salon, he put on a bus for downtown LA. He then turned his attention to Evel who was just finishing the last morsel of spruce attached to the sled runners. Earlier he had mentioned to the muncher that the bleacher seats and goal posts of that famous football stadium, the Hollywood Bowl, were made of wood. Now that the Jeddak realized his mistake it was too late to dissuade the ravenous alien weevil from visiting the beloved Los Angeles landmark.
"O well... can't do anything about it now," he muttered as he started out past the tar pits. Once past the pits his heart beat a little faster when he realized that he was walking on hallowed ground that had once been part of the famed Rancho Ratnaza. Soon he was making his way up the hill to the Ratnaza Mansion. He gave into an irresistible urge to whistle and hum a happy tune as he climbed the steep walkways: "It's a Nyce World after all... It's a..."
Behind the Big Door: The Jeddak Meets the Ratznjammer Kids
As the Jeddak approached the heavy carved oak door of the mansion, the first thing he noticed was a rough sign crudely written with crayons and fastened to the door by a railway spike that had splintered one of the decorative panels:
"Thes is thu howse of the Ratznjammer Kids thu killerz uf bad gyes. Do not herm thu thinggs who is owz. Keep Owt. Sined thu Billman Kids – Vanilli, Phillie and Willie"
Repeated knocks on door brought no response. He was about to go around to the back of the house when he heard a second story window slide open.
"Beware! Get away stranger... while you can. There is danger within!" babbled a terrified voice from a window above. "There are hooligans about. There is no defense! Flee this place!"
Before the Jeddak could locate the source of the warning, the massive oak door creaked open. Still there was no one in sight. Then came the assault. The courageous Jeddak was bombarded with suction cup arrows, silly putty strings, a lasso around the neck, a custard pie in the face, a club on the shins with an oversized plastic baseball bat, and a sack of bursting flour. Following this was a period of respite and complete silence… and still no sign of his attackers. Then again without warning, he was hit with a second onslaught. The blare of a toy trumpet stampeded a terrified, crudely shaven cat through his legs and before the surprised Canadian could regain his balance a blur of whirling dervishes were running circles around him, wrapping him in masses of video tape - mummy style.
"Children. Stop it now or I'll tell your father if he gets back!"
The Jeddak had been rescued in the nick of time by Mrs. Hilary Billman.
O you'll have to excuse them. The children are a such a handful but they love to play cowboys an... I mean cowpersons and indigenous people -- I keep forgetting that we're in PC correct southern California now. They seem to have inherited their father's skill with spears and truncheons," Cilli said apologetically as she pulled a suction cup spear from the Jeddak’s forehead.
"They certainly come by it honestly, they come from a long line of Billmans --and they miss their father ... he's not home very much these days."
(Editor's Note: Billman definition: a soldier armed with a bill which is a spear with a hook-shaped blade and a spike at the back.)
"Oh dear. I can't find Albert, the poor man, I don't believe he is feeling well. And you look weary... I'm sure Albert wouldn't mind if I showed you to the sitting room where your can await his arrival."
A short time later, the Jeddak sat in what had been Edgar Nyce's favourite smoking chair and relished the opportunity to finally examine the manuscripts and writer's notebook he had stashed in his backpack back at the Deep Space Mine. But he was not ready for the shock which awaited him as he opened the ancient documents...
CHAPTER 119: The Confidential Journal of Edgar Nyce: The Early Years --Bill Hillman
OB Entry 1: Finished my first novel today... Science Fiction stuff... why not... I've tried everything else... and it beats selling pencils on Chicago street corners. Can't decide which title to go with: MY FIRST ADVENTURE IN URANUS or UNDER THE MOONS OF URANUS. It's pretty crazy stuff... probably wise not to use the family name ... think I'll try a pen name: NORMAL BUTT
OB Entry 2: Sent my handwritten manuscript off to my favorite magazines: AMUZING, WIRED, BLUNDER STORIES, ANAL-LOG, PEEPOLE ENMIRER... even tried those rags AGROSSY ALL-GORY WEAKLY and WHIZZLE.
OB Entry 3: Can't understand it. Nothing but rejections. Not one of them was interested, but I'm not giving up -- I've only been writing for 35 years. Gotta keep track of stuff I put in these stories though, so I've put together a list of inventions I've created for Uranus -- so far: Camouflaged Billboards, Dehydrated Water, Helium Paperweights, Impact-Triggered Parachute, Inflatable Anchor, Non-toxic Chemical Weapons, Nuclear Powered Radiation Detector, Solar Powered Flashlight, Superconducting Insulator, World's Largest Microchip.
OB Entry 4: I've been busy on some Uranus sequels. Got none finished yet but have started: Into the Depths of Uranus, Escape from Uranus, Wizard of Uranus, Lost in Uranus, Rumble in Uranus, Hurtling Moons of Uranus, Rings Around Uranus, Gas Wars in Uranus, Mission to Uranus, Fighting Men in Uranus, and Deep Probe to Uranus.
OB Entry 5: Bad news. My old school "buddy" Brace Bozhart has stolen all my Uranus manuscripts and notes and is hiring a couple hacks - Otis AlaVator Klimb and Berper Werper -- to rewrite them. And Bozhart is publishing them.
OB Entry 6: Funny thing happened this week. For some reason the critics found the titles of my stolen Uranus stuff extremely funny and that crook Bozhart and his hacks are the laughing stocks of the publishing industry. Some hotshot even pointed out that the anagram for Uranus is UR `n USA ... not a very convincing locale for a far out space opera. Boz is going to lose his shirt on this one. Oh... and good ole Enna got back my stolen manuscripts and story outlines somehow... won't tell me how she did it... what a gem!
OB Entry 7: On a whim I changed the names of my Uranus series. Decided to use Mars, Venus, Luna and Jupiter instead of Uranus. Sent them around to those big-time publishers McGurgle and Grossetter & Burlap, and even to those cheaper outfits Carnal, Ase and Ballantwine Books. They all love `em. The money's rolling in. Enna's even talking about moving to California... she's been talking to that Klimb hack again.
OB Entry 8: Running out of ideas again. Time for my annual trip back to the Minidoka Deep Space Mine. Hoping that Jonar and Joon Carter got some more tales to tell.
OB Entry 9: Got back from Idaho... and "you know where" ... gotta bag of new tales... off on African safari next week. Enna is content to stay home... says she's got a good lead on a ranch property in California.
OB Entry 10: Good to be home. That was one crazy safari... never again. Smelly goats and cranky monkeys. Been working at odd moments on another of the `improbable' variety of tale. The story of this goat kid, Ratnaz, is probably too far-fetched for anyone to believe but I think I'll give it a whirl.
OB Entry 11: Just had a letter from Meatcow over at All-Gory Magazine. Accused me of writing racist stuff in the Ratnaz story. Says it will offend women, colored races, fat people, thin people, old people, kids, pet lovers, and overweight middle-aged pygmy women with red hair. The idiot wants me to change the setting to the Alps and write about Swiss yodellers in lederhosen to make everything neutral.
OB Entry 12: Interesting visitors today. Some guy called Georges Lucre and his buddy Little Stevie Wonderberg wanted to turn some of my books into movies. Said they'd pay me with a percentage of the profits... yeh, right! Sent them trundling in a hurry. I've worked out a much better TV deal with a newcomer, Wolf Leerson, Enna says she heard from O.A. Klimb that he's going to be big.
OB Entry 13: Been working on a movie deal for the Ratnaz kid with Touchwood Pictures. I had them agree to call him "RATnaz" in the movies... this leaves me control over the "Ratn'z" pronunciation in the books. I wasn't born yesterday.
OB Entry 14: The Ratnaz Kid is at it again. You'd think the mess he made of Jumbled Tales of Ratnaz would have convinced him that he doesn't know bananas about writing. His brainstorm this time was to give every monkey in the Gryf Park Zoo a typewriter and let them pound away on the keys for a year. Now the idiot thinks they have come up with some kinda masterpiece... something about a Giant on Mars... crap... and he wants me to release it under my name.
OB Entry 15: Sent a couple of bus tickets to those two moonie maids I let go a few months ago. Paid the hospital bills. Both babies were boys. Sent them as far away as possible... one to Canada.... one to Texas.
The startled Jeddak stared long and hard at the last entry in the dog-eared Journal of Edgar Nyce.
"Could it be? No! It's impossible. Yet..."
He remembered his mother's picture of Uncle Jack, the hushed tones whenever she mentioned her early days in Chicago, and she had never spoken of his father. There were too many coincidences. Why, this would mean that Tangor is... no... it was too horrible to think of... and RATNAZ would be... incredible. As startling and revolting as some of this knowledge was, the crushed Canadian had to read on. What other skeletons would fall from these pages?
CHAPTER 120: The Long-Lost Writing Notebook of Edgar Nyce --Bill Hillman
MY RATNAZ NOVELS -- A LOG
1. RATNAZ OF THE GATS
OB NOTE: I wrote this thing longhand -- 1609 pages -- started it on a roll of toilet tissue and didn't want to stop till I finished the roll. The cheapskates at All-Gory edited it down to 276 pages.
Deep in the jungles of darkest Africa a baby Lord Greatstroke, the only survivor of a plane crash is rescued by a fierce native tribe and is raised with their goat herd. He later spends time with the mighty ape King Dong from whom he learns the ways of the wild and earns the title Lord of the Leaves. He is eventually rescued and taken out to civilization by a safari led by the courageous author Edgar Nyce who uses the goat kid's real and fictional adventures as fodder for this story.
CHARACTERS: RATNAZ THE GOAT KID, THE APES: DONG, TUBFAT & KILLA, BILLY & NANNIE, GREATSTROKE, BROOMSTROKE, PROF. PORKER, JANE PORKER, LORD CECIL CRETIN, LADY ALUCE CRETIN, PHILANDERER, LT. D'AMIT, BLACK JACKO, CAPTAIN ANDY DIVINE OF THE CHARTER PLANE FULWADA, CAPTAIN BILLABONG OF GRINALDA, ROKSOFF
2. RERUN OF RATNAZ:
OB NOTE: Just a rewrite of the first novel. Sent the roll back to that Meatcow guy at All-Gory -- all the story tissues they rejected from the first book. I know when to milk a good thing -- it's just good business.
3. THE BEASTS OF RATNAZ
Ratnaz' goat friends are kidnapped and Ratnaz, Shita the panther and Agut the ape look everywhere for them. In the happy conclusion they all came home wagging their tails behind them.
4. THE SON OF RATNAZ
Ratnaz' adopted goat kid, Rokka, runs into jungle with Agut to answer a mating cry. He stays out all night with Agut and a girl goat. Ratnaz is furious.
5. RATNAZ AND THE MULES OF OPRA
Queen Opra's fanatical obsession to rid the world of mules results in the spread of mad mule disease through Ratnaz' beloved goat herd. Ratnaz faces danger many times at Opra's notorious sacrificial altar.
6. JUMBLED TALES OF RATNAZ
Ratnaz' first attempt to write in his own words results in a jumbled mishmash of story fragments. In this very personal tell-all the goat kid rattles on about his formative years in the jungle, his battles with halitosis, acne and jock itch, his first real puppy love, his introduction to the complete works of Dickens and Shakespeare, and his penchant for grub-in-a-leaf burgers.
7. RATNAZ AND THE TROUBLE WITH UNTAMED TRIBBLES
Ratnaz follows Jane through impenetrable marshes and back in time 60 million years where they are transformed into small furry prolific mammals in a prehistoric world of savage dinosaurs.
8-57. RATNAZ AND THE LOST CIVILIZATIONS: Parts 8-57.
O.B. NOTE: I kept the same plot I used in the first seven books and just plugged in different lost cities and civilizations. Seemed to work pretty well. Gave me lots of time to ride my horse.
These seemed like good ideas at the time...
Titles, Openings, Themes and Treatments. I never got around to finishing most of them.
In-law of Torn
OB NOTE: This is an embarrassing story about my wife's no-good brother that lay suppressed and dormant for years -- until the paparazzi caught wind of the caper.
The Mad Queen
"All Castro was in an uproar -- the Mad Queen had escaped through the closet. Knots of little excited men stood upon the street corners surging to and fro, listening to each latest rumor...."
The Cover Girl
"The dim shadow of the g-string was but a blur against the delicious dimpled curves of the mounds of flesh behind...."
The Mobster Man
"As he dropped the last grisly fragment of the dismembered and mutilated body into the massive vat of nitric acid that was to devour every trace of the horrid evidence which might easily send him to the gallows, Big Bruce sank weakly into his computer chair and throwing his body forward upon his great, teak computer desk, buried himself into his work, breaking into a rapid two-fingered assault on his keyboard...."
"Gnu, the son of Ung, his flabby muscles rolling beneath his wrinkled bleached skin, beat the last of the morning's wash between his battered battering head and the large soapstone outcrop on the shore of the jungle stream...."
"Billy Byrd was a product of the streets and alleys of Chicago. There was scarce a horse owner or nag whom Billy knew not by his first name -- and he was a veritable encyclopedia when it came to assessing the amount of life left in an animal... and the current rates paid by the nearest glue factory for the carcasses."
The C.C. Rider
"'I won't! Be back till fall!' The king tugged upon one end of a black sideburn, curled his lip and frowned over the monitor speakers...."
Beyond Thirty... They're All Man-Eaters
"Since earliest childhood I have been strangely fascinated by the mystery surrounding human intercourse with aging females. My interest is keenest, perhaps, not so much in relation to known facts, as to speculation of the mystery following termination... provided, of course, the intercourse had been terminated...."
The Deputy Sheriff from Farris County Meets the Bandit Girl from Hollywood Bend
"A lone rider drew rein at a fork in the road. He leaned from the saddle to study the condition of the two trails. Then he rode slowly along the dirt road that showed the less sign of travel... and that made all the difference...."
Single Girl from Hollywood and the Inefficiently Expert Evangelist
"`My lord, I may go no further,' said the Presbyterian Missionary as he nervously tucked at the tightening band of his shirt collar...."
The Oaktree Affair
"The house in the tree showed lights only upon the first floor in those more or less mysterious purlieus thereof from which emanated disagreeable odors. The Root-O-Rooter man was late again...."
Natrog the Barbarian from Beyond
"In this little world there were three scourges: Pestilence, Famine, and Natrog. He was about as civilized as a brown bear in rutting season...."
Chief of the Apache Devil Dancers
"Naked but for a G-string, sandals and a black French beret, Oo La La leaped down the runway to the demon beat of the house drummer...."
The Lady and the Loin
OB NOTE: X-rated
The Jeddak's trembling hands closed the worn tattered Writing Notebook of Edgar Nyce -- these amazing documents were a revelation to him. In his temporary euphoric state he was oblivious to his surroundings -- and to the opening of a nearby section of oak paneling through which he was being observed by two pairs of desperate eyes.
CHAPTER 121: The Jeddak Strikes Back...
and Out --Bill Hillman
The Warlord’s First Really Big Adventure in Ratnaza
The incomparable Dee Dee Morris, Princess of Bars and the hopelessly infatuated Dan Darter had successfully taken Ed's private elevator up from the rapidly flooding Jeriatric Park and had discovered the secret panel to the author’s former sitting room. Peering through the observation slit they were surprised to see that a handsome redheaded man wearing earmuffs, a heavy Canadian Armed Forces issue parka and Gucci mukluks occupied the large leather chair in the centre of the room. Realizing that there was no other way out, they took a chance and stepped into the room to confront the stranger.
At that moment, before introductions could be made, a woman's scream echoed from another room in the mansion. All three rushed out to find the source of the terrified shriek and their exploration led them to the large theatre room where ERB used to treat the locals to the latest Ratnaz films. The Billman Ratznjammer Kids were dragging a lifeless hideous head-shaped creature into the middle of the room, its trailing chelae leaving a trail of green slime leading to the French doors which opened onto the rolling greens of the mansion’s private golf course.
In a far corner of the room, poor Cilli was labouring under the dead weight of the unconscious Splay-Toe who appeared to have fainted in her arms.
"The sniveling coward. He stepped on my foot with those fleece-lined aviator clodhoppers. Somebody help get this jerk off me. Whew... does that hurt. And Phillie... take that thing back to where you found it... and wash your hands... It's filthy," snapped the disgusted Mrs. Billman.
After a short reunion and a show of warm greetings to the Canadian visitor, the group decided it was time to take their destinies into their own hands. All agreed they couldn't help their missing loved ones by waiting in the safety of Ratnaza: Dee Dee was anxious to find her father, Kojak Morris -- Splay-Toe was pining for Yellow Jacket -- Cilli and Kids were worried about their husband and father Hilary -- the Jeddak wanted to meet with Edgar Nyce to plan some way to thwart Tangor's and Bozhart's nefarious plans for world domination -- and Darter just wanted to be anywhere close to Dee Dee.
"I wanna ride the space ship... I wanna ride the space ship! We found one out on the golf course beside the Gheek head we brought you," squealed the kids as they bounded back into the room.
Suddenly Dee had an idea: "Why don't we use one of the alien weather balloon ships in our search? But who could fly it?"
"Well if I can shoot down one of them suckers I should be able to fly it. You forget that I specialized in UltraLites in the R.C.A.F. up in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan," retorted a somewhat piqued Dan Darter.
"But the computer systems are disabled... the internal clock in the main computer has been set to 2000 AD and everything is down," responded the Jeddak.
"It's a simple system... any 10 year old could reset it."
"Yeh, but where are we going to find a ten-year-old?"
"I wanna ride the space ship." "No, I wanna ride the space ship -- I saw it first."
"Hush children. The grownups are trying to talk. Little ones should be seen and not heard!" pleaded the little tykes' mother.
"Wait! I think I have an idea," interjected the ever-observant and resourceful Jeddak.
Lost in a Balloon
The alien craft handled like a charm. Dan Darter, once more behind the controls of a flying machine, was a new man. The cockpit was not made to accommodate such a large number of people but everyone eventually found a comfortable position and settled in for an exciting flight. And an exciting one it was to be. Soon after takeoff the controls froze and the ship set off on an eastward course following a preprogrammed flight path.
"What's wrong Dan... what's happening? Where are we going?" queried a suddenly concerned Dee Dee.
"I have a feeling some strange homing device has taken command of the ship's controls and we are headed for Butt Buttes, my dear. All we can do now is hang on and enjoy the ride."
Soon the passengers forgot about the possible dire consequences of their predicament and gathered around the viewing portals to marvel at the wonders unfolding below. The Jeddak got his first aerial view of Southern California and was very impressed. His first shock came as they passed over the Gryf Park Zoo. Running through the main gate and toward downtown LA was a huge menagerie of escaping animals, led by two large loping animals: a male and female moose. The Canadian muttered under his breath in embarrassed tones: "Damn that Sterling... up to his old tricks. He'll have us deported."
The recent fires, earthquakes, floods, storms, and alien attacks had devastated much of the Los Angeles area. In fact, as they flew over the renowned Hollywood Bowl, they saw it suddenly disintegrate into a pile of dust. But Rodentland appeared to be operating under full steam. And there was a long queue of music fans gathered outside Farris' Big Wheel Club... obviously the Blues Boys were in town again. Disturbingly though, there was an ambulance parked in the front and the attendants were carrying out a man on a stretcher who must have been one of the band, as he was still clutching his saxophone in one hand while trying desperately to tear off a large featureless mask which covered his face.
As they flew eastward they noticed a large number of yellow Camaros converging on Nick Miser's Touchwood Studios -- and far off in the north they could just make out a vintage maroon Ford sedan being pushed along the freeway by a group of husky men in baggy suits. Another crowd had gathered down at the Grimley Wave Salon where they seemed to be cheering on a middle-aged woman with gorgeous platinum blonde hair. The woman had one of LA’s finest pinned to the sidewalk and she was pummeling the burly cop with her handbag. Meanwhile, Dee Dee gasped in surprise as she noticed that a fleet of Touchwood Studio tanker trucks was filling up at her daddy's Helium Supply lot.
Mr. Bland Finds His Dream House
Soon the land below with its excitement and turmoil was replaced by the endless expanse of water which now covered the vast desert lands which had until recently been known as Tappan Range, Death Valley and Salton Sea. As they approached the east shore of this fledgling Arizona Sea, Dee Dee had occasion to gasp once more: "No'Mo's Naughty Ass!"
"Hush, Miss Dee Dee. There are children present," scolded Cilli.
"No! You don't understand. Look! I mean the sub moored to that rambling houseboat. Isn't that odd? There's a group of sunbathers gathered around a clarinet player... oh... and a bunch of sailors huddled around a television set... and..."
"Bryce! Bryce! It's Bry... I mean YJ... Yellow Jacket. He's alive! He's scrubbing the deck of that sub. I'd recognize that suit anywhere... I've gotta go to him. Take it down, Darter. Bryce! Up Here...." screamed the ecstatic Splay-Toe.
The Billman kids were suddenly uncharacteristically silent and seemed oblivious to the commotion generated by the Chinese wannabe as they stared intently at what at first glance appeared to be a piece of flotsam bobbing on the water just beyond the submarine. As they came closer, however, it soon became apparent that they were observing a small rowboat with a lone occupant wearing a long flowing gown and who was rowing furiously toward the submarine. A large fluttering American flag supported by an ornate flag standard protruded high above the bow of the boat.
Suddenly it was the Billman kids' turn to add to the commotion that was filling the cabin: "Mommy! Quick come see! I see Daddy! Look! See Daddy row! Row Daddy! Wave Daddy! Go Daddy go!"
Butt Buttes Beckon
The blue expanse of the Arizona Sea was soon behind them and they were once more travelling over dry land but the interior of the alien craft still reverberated with the emotional cries, sobs and shouts of the occupants.
Dan Darter, still seated at the frozen controls, felt compelled to take command of the situation: "Listen Up! I've had enough of your infernal caterwauling. We're approaching Butt Buttes... I've heard some pretty strange rumours about this place. Get ready for trouble."
All eyes were soon fixated on the unusual landform to which the alien craft appeared to be headed. If they had looked directly below, however, they would have seen the comical sight of a tweed-suited gentleman attempting to ride a burro sidesaddle while trying to goad his stubborn mount on to a faster walk.
The balloon-shaped craft hovered momentarily over the buttes and then plummeted earthward amid the shrieking cries of its terrified occupants.
CHAPTER 122: Edgar Nyce Has Left the Building:
The Jeddak’s Odyssey Comes to an End?
Calling Algor to the Rescue
Life had not been kind to Algor. He had been born with a physical deformity which he had carried with him into his adult life. He had spent most of his life in faithful service to the cantankerous and capricious Ras Putan. He had been with the skillful doctor throughout his rise to fame, watching him reach the exalted position of Mastermind of Stars, and he had even stuck by him when the slightly crazed doctor fell out of Hollywood favour and teamed up with those Grimley Wave characters. He had been at Putan’s side during his comeback and eventual rise to infamy in the cloning labs at the Phantom Empire.
Then – POOF! - the medical genius disappeared and Algor was left with nothing. It wasn't easy starting over at his age. The jobs for hunch-backed assistants to over-sexed, diabolical geniuses were few and he had to settle for a very mundane position as a freelance Sanitation Engineer.
His heart had raced a few hours ago when he received a mysterious call from the Secret Service in Washington. Feeling sure that his fortunes were on the upswing he sped his moped across the desert flats to the secret government facility at Butt Buttes. He should have known... the job was not quite what he had been expecting.
"Here's the broom, Bud. The mops and cleaning supplies are over there. We want this place cleaned up toot de sweet. Comprenday?" were the only instructions he was given.
All day his work had been hampered by a succession of government agents behaving in mysterious ways, but for the last hour he had been completely alone. Only then did the immensity of his task strike him.
Algor stood hunched in the middle of a cavernous hangar surrounded by the charred wreckage of what he could only perceive to be countless alien spacecraft. Over the years, he had been charged with cleaning up endless messes created by his former associate, Ras Putan, but never anything this horrendous.
The only unscathed vehicle in the complex was poised over a large bottomless crater in the floor -- it was a large, shiny, cylindrically shaped device with a gigantic corkscrew at one end. The jangled janitor was pondering the function of this machine when he was startled by a grinding noise from above.
Overhead, a section of the hangar roof was sliding open and falling toward him was a screaming weather balloon. In an act of self-preservation he fell to a fetal position on the concrete floor -- just as the landing struts of the strange craft settled around him.
The Ratznjammer Kids Unleash the Horrors of the Black Box
"Whew! What a ride. Let's do it again Mr. Darter. Wow. You sure can fly this thing!" shouted the Billman kids as they jumped out of the alien spacecraft. They were a good two metres off the floor but their fall was broken by a huddled figure lying just below the hatch. Seeing the fearless Billman offspring run across the floor of the gigantic hangar in which they had been deposited, the rest of the occupants exited in similar fashion.
It was only after they had leaped to the floor of the hangar that they noticed their fall had been broken by a moaning human cushion. Their attempts to revive the luckless janitor were interrupted by a jumble of loud excited voices emanating from the unusual machine with the corkscrew that they had seen the kids enter.
"Oh shit! We're breaking through! Look out! God, look at the lights. And cameras. And weather balloons. Looks like the Oval Office of the White House. Yes. There goes President Blimpton! No... It’s only a movie set. O crud... not again. It looks like the sister of that last weirdo who attacked us back at the shallow lake! Look out... this one's got a harpoon, too. Whew... It's OK... the interns got her... they're taking her away. Jeez.... Would ya look at that... those weather balloons are blowin' up... wow... ya'd think it was New Year's Eve or the Fourth of July or somethin'...
The Jeddak gallantly faced the unknown and followed the Billman kids into the daunting craft to find the reason for the screaming voices.
"Look Mr. Jedrak. We found a big black box with a tape recorder in it," Willie proudly proclaimed as he held out what must have been the cockpit's Burrowing Recorder.
The adults, relieved that the kids were unharmed, positioned themselves around the recorder to try to discover the identity of the speakers and to unravel the mystery of what had transpired before their arrival on the scene.
Dan Darter, the consummate pilot offered some background information to the group: "That explains the opening vulgarity we just heard. I know from experience that 'Oh shit' is the most common last words heard on flight recorders."
Meanwhile as the voices from the Burrowing Recorder continued their excited chatter, a deep, cultivated voice in a quasi-English accent was attempting to calm the occupants of the machine's cabin: "Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive."
"O Ratz. You are such a thinker since that butt on the head," answered a woman's admiring voice.
"Good grief!" exclaimed ever-observant Jeddak. "That must be Ratnaz!"
"Intelligence makes clear to us the interrelationship of means and ends. But mere thinking cannot give us a sense of the ultimate and fundamental ends. To make clear these fundamental ends and valuations and to set them fast in the emotional life of the individual, seems to me precisely the most important function which religion has to form in the social life of man. What is your assessment of the situation, OB?
"I think you've gone nuts... what a loony. Hey, Bertie see if you can straighten him out."
The listeners whispered in hushed awe: "OB!"... "It's Ed!... "Edgar Nyce!"... "He was here!"... "Dad?"...
"The more a man is imbued with the ordered regularity of all events the firmer becomes his conviction that there is no room left by the side of this ordered regularity for causes of a different nature. Do you not agree Bertie, my pet?"
"Oh Ratz!... What's happened to you? Speak to him Lord Greatstroke... you brought this on! Men! …and their stupid macho pride!"
"OB! OB! Look at this. Coming up through the crater we made. What the...?"
The Capture of OB-wan-in-Kanobe
"Control yourself Nappie. They’re friends of mine from the Under World. Hail! Molejo... Molejowerkin! Up here... Good to see you old friend. Hey... What the... What's got into you fellows? Take your hands off her you...”
The Jeddak stood helplessly while he listened in growing horror to the scenario playing out before his ears. The next voice was one he recognized from back at the Valley Dorm -- the whining voice of the leader of the Mole People.
"Seize the traitor. We will take the traitor OB-wan-in-Kanobe and his murderous followers back for trial in the Hidden World. Molejowerkin has spoken."
There were sounds of a skirmish, then silence.
"We came so close to meeting Edgar Nyce. It would have been such a fitting conclusion to my OB odyssey. But this... What can we do?" lamented the perplexed Jeddak of the North.
Possessed with the short attention span of the ‘90s generation, Willie had soon tired of the little audio-only drama coming from the recorder. While the others were listening in rapt attention, the youngster had crawled into the pilot’s seat in the cockpit and had started flipping switches on the complex instrument panel.
The Pellucifer Burrower sprang to life. The vibrations from the front auger threw the cabin occupants to the floor as its young pilot directed the machine back into the crater from whence it had come.
A battered Algor crawled to the smoking crater and looked down in utter bewilderment as the Pellucifer disappeared from sight into the very bowels of the earth.
…to be continued in the Ratnaz Files Book XII
If you're a glutton for punishment, there's more:
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