CHAPTER 63: "MEMORIES OF VOVO"
Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst
"How did Woola get here? -- and how did he return to this
size? -- and Dejah Thoris --" the dazed Virginian questioned.
"Woola left me and came here after Vovo enchanted you!"
said Sola. "Your faithful hound knew something was wrong and he tried to
rescue you and the princess."
"Indeed that is true, Dotar Sojat," the robot added. "The
calot killed the wizard before he could inflict the fullness of his intended
perversions. Perhaps you understood that much, even in your sleep? I believe
both you and Dejah Thoris sensed its presence. But neither the animal nor
the princess were actually enlarged. Both have remained here at Eo these
past three days, their sizes completely unchanged."
The man rose to his feet and stood over the placid figure.
His heart beat with emotion, while his mind pictured what perils she yet
faced in the wizard's evil delusions. Ignoring Oman's warning, he knelt
down and touched her gently. The girl moved slightly but did not otherwise
"So she yet dreams -- the same illusion that I once believed.
Does she then still dream that she is a giant and that the bird-men will
come again to harm her?" he asked Oman incredulously.
"If that is how you left her when you awakened, then yes,
that is probably what she now experiences in her dream. But we cannot simply
bring her back to this world by rousing her from her sleep. Vovo did not
expand her body but he did change the way her mind functions. I think she
needs to understand that fact before she can rejoin our reality. If she
is not brought out of the delusion carefully, both her sanity and her life
may be in grave danger."
"And how do you propose to bring her out of it?" demanded
"I have no idea, Dotar Sojat. It was Sola's idea to bring
you into the forest and remove the glass enclosure from your bed. I had
not thought of that, but I think it helped you. Perhaps the princess also
needs the mild stimulation of familiar things and well-known voices."
Sola interrupted: "When you first woke up, you appeared
to drift back and forth between your dream and our world. Why can't you
go back to sleep beside her and rejoin her in the fantasy? If you could,
then perhaps you could also tell my friend that Sola is waiting here to
see her again!"
Their conversation continued along these lines, until
John Carter agreed that it would be worthwhile to at least try and contact
the sleeping princess in her slumber. Oman's mechano-men brought several
different mind altering medications from the pharmaceutical workshops,
and from them the metal odwar selected a compound that induced drowsiness
and mental suggestiveness, without rendering its user fully incapacitated
"I'll take your potion," the Earthman said, "but it had
better work the way you promise. These nightmares have gone on far too
long and I'm ready to take the sleeping girl and leave Eo, if she does
not begin to recover soon."
The Virginian downed the concoction and stretched himself
out beside beautiful sleeper. Soon his eyes grew heavy and his mind drifted
far from the little forest glade where Sola and Oman watched and waited.
Clouds were all that he could see. They rolled over the
observer, carrying him into the green fog. The verdant mist thickened into
all sorts of fantastic shapes, then flowed down into balls of yellow and
orange. Above the clouds turned brilliant blue and below they shattered
into fragments of red, brown, black and gray. Then the fragments joined
together to become a single image.
John Carter was standing in a flower speckled meadow.
On every side sparse clumps of small, white trunked trees merged into more
distant stands of forest giants. At no great distance, across the meadow,
be saw a slender red figure, topped by a mass of flowing raven tresses.
In a single leap he was at her side. She turned and smiled. To Carter's
amazement he had instantly found Dejah Thoris, her height miraculously
reduced to normal!
"John, where did you come from?" she stammered. "I looked
everywhere. I even searched the body -- but where has the bird-man gone?
And why are you my size now, Dotar Sojat?"
"So many questions, my princess!" he replied. Then taking
her in his arms, he said something else, "Is anything more important than
our being together again? Can we just enjoy that for a moment -- without
so many words?"
The girl's silence betokened her assent, but her thoughts
flooded into his and Captain Carter knew that her many questions were troubling
the girl greatly. Before long she broke the silence.
"John, I feel as though I've fallen from some great height,
but I can't remember the fall. My thoughts had found solutions to so many
problems, my chieftain. I wanted so badly to share that knowledge with
others -- it was so beautiful. And now it is slipping through my fingers
like water. I fear I am losing my mind!"
The Earthman's own mind was not entirely clear. He knew
that he had sought the girl to tell her important things, but he was having
difficulty recalling what it was he needed to say.
"Yes, Dejah Thoris," he began, "we are again the same
size. Vovo's awful curse is lifting. Our perceptions are not so befogged
by his drugs and his tricks as they previously were. Soon we can resume
our journey and find your home. Can you think of Helium, my princess --
and of all the people there who await your safe return?"
The man's reappearance and his sympathetic words were
at first soothing and pleasant, but at the mention of her homeland, the
girl suddenly felt very small and helpless. The last threads of her giant's
strength and assurance melted away and she could barely recall her own
"Helium?" She pondered the word aloud. "Helium is something
-- it is something far away -- far away, beyond the trees, beyond the clouds..."
Dejah Thoris suddenly realized the immensity of the weird
forest around her. She felt as though it were endless and Helium were some
unseen star in the interminable heavens. Before she had seen the woods
from above, but now she could only see them from below. They were so vast
and she was so small and insignificant. A great fear came upon her -- the
fear of falling for eternity.
She pulled back from the man's bare skin and the close
embrace of his sheltering arms.
"Jump, mother! -- grandfather's flyer is plunging into