"A DIZZY FLIGHT!"
Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst
For two hours Sola and the calot made their way across
the barren wastes of the no-man's-land which borders the dominions of the
Tharkian hordes on the east. She now had a fair idea where she was -- thousands
of haads south of the dead city of Korad and practically due east of Thark.
It was a region she had visited several times during her brief childhood
and now the green girl was certain she could pick out a route north, past
the green race's encampments and then west to the waterways of Helium.
If only John Carter and Dejah Thoris yet lived!
The three pinnacles rose up before her and far beyond
them, the line of high land on the distant horizon that betokened the forbidden
Plateau of Eo. Woola was already halfway to the pinnacles and when she
reached that same spot, Sola knew she would gaze upon fabled Go-La-Ra,
the city of the deadly mists. However, her scrutinizing of the northern
horizon was interrupted by an extraordinary sight, high in the sky, just
short of the three pointed rocks.
The durkoos flew high over the city, seeking to dislodge
the dragon clinging to its neck. John Carter clung desperately to the great
bird's leg with one hand, while in the other arm he held the Martian princess.
The two monsters continued their aerial battle, but it was plainly clear
that the bird was tiring. Its wings beat with a labored flapping that brought
it closer and closer to the ground with each passing second. Sooner or
later the fatigued durkoos would have to alight. The only question in John
Carter's thoughts was whether or not he could hold on long enough to witness
that conclusion. His fingers were growing stiff and cold -- and, like the
ashen body of the girl he held to his breast, they too were changing to
a dismal gray.
With all his strength the Earthman pulled himself
upward, until he managed to throw one leg over the giant bird's foot spur.
It was a precarious seat, but by holding on with his legs he could free
one hand long enough to carry out the mad plan that was developing in his
Her voice was so raspy and unnatural that he could
scarcely fathom what the two syllables were that Dejah Thoris had spoken.
But her thoughts played upon his and he knew he should look downward, to
the Marscape below. He saw the outer bounds of Go-La-Ra, the three pinnacles
and a wild thoat upon the mossy flatlands. Then John Carter looked more
carefully and he recognized the mount and its rider.
The green girl waved her sword in circles high above
her head. She projected her thoughts with all her might, upward at the
strange scene above her. But if her friends saw her they gave no indication
of it. A few scattered images of the giant bird and its unwanted passengers
played across her mind, but those came from steadfast Woola, not from the
minds of the two humans.
Sola looked at the empty rifle boot beside her in
anguish. If only they had fled Thark with a radium rifle, she might use
the weapon to some good effect now. But their lone rifle had been lost
with the runaway thoat at the courtyard of Tal Hajus and the Jasoomian's
pistol had been taken by her father. So Sola, the faithful green friend
of John Carter and Dejah Thoris, and Woola, the Earthman's loyal calot,
could only look on helplessly as events unfolded which were beyond their
power to influence in the slightest.
"I think there may be a way, Dejah Thoris!" Carter
shouted; but no reply came from the maiden.
There was nothing he could do but attempt the daring
plan that had formed in his head. Drawing his long-sword, he began slicing
away at the bird's flight feathers, each time the flapping left wing came
within reach. The durkoos had been losing altitude since it left the city
and now it flew erratically -- first one way then another. Finally the
feathered monster dipped far downward. John Carter's legs released their
hold and both man and girl dropped to the ground.
Relieved of the heavy burden, the fighting monsters
rose again. However the wing of the durkoos was so badly damaged that it
could not stay aloft for long. Both bird and dragon plunged into the long
abandoned quays of Go-La-Ra and perished in one of the smoking craters
that poured out the deadly purple vapors.
The couple had landed a few hundred paces from the
base of the pinnacles and John Carter recalled the cistern of yellow protective
oil. If he could just drag the rigid body of Dejah Thoris that far, perhaps
there was yet hope. Along the way he was overtaken by an overjoyed Woola,
but the Earthman could only offer a few words of welcome. He strained to
carry his princess the remaining distance.
His happy reunion with the green girl was short-lived,
for the princess' body, affected by the vapors of the city, had suddenly
turned totally rigid and stony. Sola dismounted and helped him carry the
frozen princess the short distance to the cistern. They lay the lifeless
form out upon her back and applied the singular oil all over her body,
but to no avail. She remained a statue, though her two friends watched
and waited for an hour or more.
John Carter insisted that they remove themselves
as far away as possible from the dead city and its accursed mists, so it
was late in the night before he and Sola stopped at a suitable spot on
the sea bottom to make their camp. Both of them were overcome with grief
at the girl's undeserved fate, but neither the Thark nor the Earthman could
find the words to express that common sorrow. They kept a silent vigil
over the body, until the exhausted and afflicted man at last fell asleep.
The daughter of Tars Tarkas and Gozava remained awake
all night, grieving over the loss of her one dear female friend on all
of warlike Barsoom. She had brought a flask of the yellow oil with her
and half of this she added to that coating already covering the girl's
body, but no good came of it. By a slip of her hand she knocked into the
rigid hair of Dejah Thoris and a curl fell away from her head as though
it were broken glass. Then Sola too cried.
While John Carter slept the green girl applied the
remaining oil to his naked body, cleaning his several bad cuts and scratches
in the process. His right arm was stony almost to the elbow, but on the
man's left side only three of the fingers had turned gray and they were
not entirely unbending. The Thark continued to massage the afflicted fingers,
rubbing in the lemon hued oil until it had well penetrated the skin. Then
she and the calot kept each other company until daybreak.
Sola prepared what little food was left in the saddle
bags and waited for the Earthman to awaken. She then inspected the sleeping
man's calcified fingers. They were no better, but at least they were no
worse. Then she knew not what else to do, but eventually most satisfactory
idea came to her.
"Why, of course!" she said aloud. "The Plateau of
Eo is but three days' walk from here. There we may yet find a remedy for
this terrible malady!