Official Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute Weekly Webzine Site
Since 1996 ~ 15,000 Web Pages In Archive
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
The Kincaid is steaming out of the mouth of the Ugambi into the open sea, headed toward Jungle Island, the home of Sheeta, Akut and his great apes. Of course, in Paulvitch’s old cabin, a ticking time bomb is set to go off soon, but no one but Paulvitch knows when.
XIX: The Last of the “Kincaid”
Shortly after the break of day Tarzan was on deck noting the condition of the weather. The wind had abated. The sky was cloudless. Every condition seemed ideal for the commencement of the return voyage to Jungle Island, where the beasts were to be left. And then – home!In these days inflammable meant what flammable means todaiy – it can catch fire easily. People used to get so mixed up as to the meaning of inflammable that they began to think that it meant the opposite, and so many tanker cars changed the spelling so there would be no misunderstanding. After all, language evolves over time.
The ape-man aroused the mate and gave instructions that the Kincaid sail at the earliest possible moment. The remaining members of the crew, safe in Lord Greystoke’s assurance that they would not be prosecuted for their share in the villainies of the two Russians, hastened with cheerful alacrity to their several duties.
The beasts, liberated from the confinement of the hold, wandered about the deck, not a little to the discomfiture of the crew in whose minds there remained a still vivid picture of the savagery of the beasts in conflict with those who had gone to their deaths beneath the fangs and talons which even now seemed itching for the soft flesh of further prey.
Beneath the watchful eyes of Tarzan and Mugambi, however, Sheeta and the apes of Akut curbed their desires, so that the men worked about the deck amongst them in far greater security than they imagined.
At last the Kincaid slipped down the Ugambi and ran out upon the shimmering waters of the Atlantic. Tarzan and Jane Clayton watched the verdure-clad shore-line receding in the ship’s wake, and for once the ape-man left his native soil without one single pang of regret.
No ship that sailed the seven seas could have borne him away from Africa to resume his search for his lost boy with half the speed that the Englishman would have desired, and the slow-moving Kincaid seemed scarce to move at all to the impatient mind of the bereaved father.
Yet the vessel made progress even when she seemed to be standing still, and presently the low hills of Jungle Island became distinctly visible upon the western horizon ahead.
In the cabin of Alexander Paulvitch the thing within the black box ticked, ticked, ticked, with apparent unending monotony; but yet, second by second, a little arm which protruded from the periphery of one of its wheels came nearer and nearer to another little arm which projected from the hand which Paulvitch had set at a certain point upon the dial beside the clockwork. When those two arms touched one another the ticking of the mechanism would cease – for ever.
Jane and Tarzan stood upon the bridge looking out toward Jungle Island. Then men were forward, also watching the land grow upward out of the ocean. The beasts had sought the shade of the galley, where they were curled up in sleep. All was quiet and peace upon the ship, and upon the waters.
Suddenly, without warning, the cabin roof shot up into the air, a cloud of dense smoke puffed far above the Kincaid, there was a terrific explosion which shook the vessel from stern to stern.
Instantly pandemonium broke loose upon the deck. The apes of Akut, terrified by the sound, ran hither and thither, snarling and growling. Sheeta leaped here and there, screaming out his startled terror in hideous cries that sent the ice of fear straight to the hearts of the Kincaid’s crew.
Mugambi, too, was trembling. Only Tarzan of the Apes and wife retained their composure. Scarce had the debris settled than the ape-man was among the beasts, quieting their fears, talking to them in low, pacific tones, stroking their shaggy bodies, and assuring them, as only he could, that the immediate danger was over.
An examination of the wreckage showed that their greatest danger, now, lay in fire, for the flames were licking hungrily at the splintered wood of the wrecked cabin, and had already found a foothold upon the lower deck through a great jagged hole which the explosion had opened.
By a miracle no member of the ship’s company had been injured by the blast, the origin of which remained for ever a total mystery to all but one – the sailor who knew that Paulvitch had been aboard the Kincaid and in his cabin the previous night. He guessed the truth; but discretion sealed his lips. It would, doubtless, fare none too well for the man who had permitted the arch enemy of them all aboard the ship in the watches of the night, where later he might set an infernal machine to blow them all to kingdom-come. No, the man decided that he would keep this knowledge to himself.
As the flames gained headway it became apparent to Tarzan, that whatever had caused the explosion had scattered some highly inflammable substance upon the surrounding woodwork, for the water which they poured in from the pump seemed rather to spread than to extinguish the blaze.
I think the mystery of the fire is just that – still a mystery after all these hundreds of years, that is, the mystery of what is called “Greek fire.” Too bad the secret of this mystery was lost on such a sorry bastard as Paulvitch.Fifteen minutes after the explosion great, black clouds of smoke were rising from the hold of the doomed vessel. The flames had reached the engine-room, and the ship no longer moved toward the shore. Her fate was as certain as though the waters already had closed above her charred and smoking remains.Well, that is where this chapter ends. Since there is space I would like to share with you two brushes I have had in my life with the heart of darkness, to wit, both historical evil and spiritual evil. I don’t count my brush with Vietnam while in the Army because I never went there, but instead fled into the loving arms of the Canadian people. When I tell people that I survived on the charity of the Canadian people during my exile, I always get skeptical looks, but that is exactly what happened.
“It is useless to remain aboard her longer,” remarked the ape-man to the mate. “There is no telling but there may be other explosions, and as we cannot hope to save her, the safest thing which we can do is to take to the boats without further loss of time and make land.”
Nor was there other alternative. Only the sailors cold bring away any belongings, for the fire, which had not yet reached the forecastle, had consumed all in the vicinity of the cabin which the explosion had not destroyed.
Two boats were lowered, and as there was no sea the landing was made with infinite ease. Eager and anxious, the beasts of Tarzan sniffed the familiar air of their native island as the small boats drew in toward the beach, and scarce had their keels grated upon the sand than Sheeta and the apes of Akut were over the bows and racing swiftly toward the jungle.
A half-sad smile curved the lips of the ape-man as he watched them go.
“Good-bye, my friends,” he murmured. “You have been good and faithful allies, and I shall miss you.”
“They will return, will they not, dear?” asked Jane Clayton, at his side.
“They may and they may not,” replied the ape-man. “They have been ill at ease since they were forced to accept so many human beings into their confidence. Mugambi and I alone affected them less, for he and I are, at best, but half human. You, however, and the members of the crew are far too civilized for my beasts – it is you whom they are fleeing. Doubtless they feel that they cannot trust themselves in the close vicinity of so much perfectly good food without the danger that they may help themselves to a mouthful some time by mistake.”
Jane laughed. “I think they are just trying to escape you,” she retorted. “You are always making them stop something which they see no reason why they should not do. Like little children they are doubtless delighted at this opportunity to flee from the zone of parental discipline. If they come back, though, I hope they won’t come by night.”
“Or come hungry, eh?” laughed Tarzan.
For two hours after landing the little party stood watching the burning ship which they had abandoned. Then there came faintly to them from across the water the sound of second explosion. The Kincaid settled rapidly almost immediately thereafter, and sank within a few minutes.
The cause of the second explosion was less a mystery than that of the first, the mate attributing it to the bursting of the boilers when the flames had finally reached them; but what had caused the first explosion was a subject of considerable speculation among the stranded company.
Anyway, at the end of my Canadian sojourn – I believe it was December, 1975 – I landed a job as a janitor at the University of British Columbia. This was a well-paid union job with the only handicap that it was the graveyard shift. I started working at the end of March of that year, and progressed from cleaning the stacks in the library, to doing the floors in the strange science building – where the professors were horrified if someone cleaned their chalk boards – and finally to the arts building, which was run by an old man of German descent, who was on the verge of retiring.
I loved cleaning this building because the stairway up to the second story had a passage from the Lord of the Rings written on the base of each step, so that when you ascended the stairs, you ended up inadvertently reading the passage, which ended at the top step with the line, “In Lorien there was no stain;” or was it: “There was no stain in Lorien”? Oh well, anyway, in December I was notified that I qualified for President Ford’s earned amnesty program and gave two weeks notice. That’s when my German overseer decided it was time to make his confession. I found that often people I hardly know feel comfortable confiding in me their deepest secrets, and boy, did this German have a secret.
It seems he had been a pharmacist in Berlin at the time of the rise of the Third Reich and found the message of Nazism irresistable. In his words, the nation went from complete chaos to One People, One Party, and One Leader, and he joined the Nazi party. In other words I had an avowed ex-Nazi confessing his darkest secrets at a small table in the arts building break room.
For the sake of this story, I will call him Schultz. He fought for four years on the Eastern Front, especially in the battle for Moscow, and told me stories of depravity and desperation that were incredible and hard to stomach. Once when he was dying of thirst he collapsed in a puddle that contained several dead bodies and drank the blood stained water with glee. But his confession was mainly about an incident during the Battle of Moscow. They were advancing on the Moscow River on the outskirts of the city and were stopped by a well-fortified pillbox at the river’s edge.
They announced to the Russians in the pillbox that they would not be shot if they surrendered peacefully, but all they got was a negative response from the political officer in charge. After a few minutes of stalemate, they heard a shot and the Russians – except for the dead political officer – surrendered to Schultz’s unit. I imagined Schultz to be an officer – hell, I never asked, but he could have been in the S.S.
I got the impression that Schultz was an officer because he took charge of the prisoners until they could be interrogated by the S.S. – which is why I didn’t think of him as S.S. One of the prisoners was a true survivor – he had been the one who executed the political officer – and he begged Schultz to give him a ten second head start, after telling him how fearful he was of falling into the hands of the S.S.
Schultz kept assuring the prisoner that he could not give him a ten second head start, but the Russian thought he saw a glimmer of mercy in Schultz’ eyes, and begged again for a ten second head start. Schultz reluctantly shook his head, but the Russian read this as a sign and took off full speed for the river, like the hero in A Farewell to Arms. That’s when Schultz started to choke up. “I told him not to run – I told him many times – but when he ran I had no choice but to....” That’s when he started bawling like a baby. Obviously he had shot and killed the Russian.
When he recovered, he related how at the end of the war he was put in charge of a group of young officers with the mission to save as many of them as possible for a future Germany. Disguising himself as a corporal, they had commandeered a ship and were sailing around the cape of Denmark, into Allied waters in order to surrender to the British or Americans.
They were stopped but when an airplane buzzed them it accidentally crashed into the sea. Boy, that’s when Schultz thought that the party was over, but thankfully the Allies saw it as an accident and Schultz and his party were allowed to surrender. Later, after he was repatriated, he snuck across into Eastern Germany and rescued his wife and family and they all eventually emigrated to Canada.
I realized what a risk Schultz was taking in confessing this to me. I hate Nazis. Our janitorial services were run by ex-Canadian Army officers, some of whom had fought in World War II. Who knew what he thought about the Jews or world domination?
Some Nazi bastard machine-gunned by Dad in a Normandy apple orchard, and he almost lost his leg. Of course, Schultz never said anything about the Jewish people and otherwise one would never have guessed he had such a background. Anyway, he would never have been a good S.S. man because he obviously had a conscience and was full of remorse about killing the Russian.
Well, that’s the closest I ever came to historical evil. Schultz had abandoned the principles of Nazism and had become a student of the Russian writer, Ayn Rand. That’s progress for you.
My second brush with evil is of the spiritual sort. What I am about to relate to you will sound totally crazy, and that’s because it was. It also may sound like a typical Christian conversion story, but it’s not. But it’s why I believe in Jesus. If these kinds of stories bother you, then read no further – I’m not out to convert anyone because I don’t have to.
I arrived in Canada on February 18, 1970, after having gone AWOL from Artillery Officer Candidates School in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Our whole class was going to Vietnam as a relief force some time at the end of April, and I was having none of the imperialistic nonsense. As it turned out, we invaded Cambodia at the end of April and the whole world went crazy. After the massacre at Kent State, which happened on May 4th, a movement in Toronto called the May Fourth Movement arose to sow anarchy and chaos into the Canadian political scene.
On the day I arrived on the bus from Niagra Falls, I noticed several billboards announcing that it was the Year One of Peace; the billboard campaign had been set up by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who had just recently departed. I settled in with a Canadian couple from Edmonton, Alberta – Roy and Kay Richardson – in a cozy area of town and by the end of May, I had become a landed immigrant and was able to work. Of course, there was no work, especially for Americans. In June, I ended up in an American deserters’ half-way house with several other ex-Army guys. It turned out that over 10, 000 Americans had fled to Canada during the Vietnam war.
Anyway, I found out that I could get LSD at a free college called Rochdale and would hang out there some times because it was a cool place to hang out. There was a cafeteria at the ground level and all of the halls were covered in graffiti, most of it very poetic. Members of the May Fourtth Movement hung out there as well, and I soon learned that they were going to make a big protest at a rock concert to be held at the old stadium at the CNE exposition park. I had followed the enterprise since its origin, since Roy read the Financial Times – he was an accountant in one of the big Toronto firms in one of the fifty-story buildings downtown.
It all started when John Lennon and Yoko Ono tried to throw a free rock festival like Woodstock on some Ontaria farmland, but the locals would have none of it, and in the end John and Yoko abandoned the project. But that didn’t let Thor Eaton down. The son of a prominent Canadian family thought there was money to be made off the legend John and Yoko had created, so he conjured up something he called the “Festival Express,” a travelling rock concert that would cross Canada on their own special train.
It started out with mixed reviews in Montreal, then moved for a two day event in Toronto. On the first day, the May Fourth protestors were in full strength in their attempts to crash the gates and make it a free concert. Many police and protestors were injured. I got there early in the afternoon and was always just one moment away from getting into the gates before the police could stop us. It was organized in such a way that there would be an assault at one gate at one end, and when the police responded in strength, they would assault in force the gate on the other side. This went back and forth until Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead had a pow-wow with the Chief of Police and – damn Thor Eaton! who was opposed – it was agreed that several rock bands, after performing for money in the stadium, would put on a free concert in a designated area of the park as soon as they could set up the stage and speakers.
It was soon announced that the free concert would be in a place called Coronation Park, a small clearing in the trees with a baseball diamond. The stage was erected over home plate and we all gathered around to see who was going to kick it off. I managed to score some acid and two joints of marijuana and shared the pot with the spectators, who were largely consuming vast amounts of beer since there was a brewery across the street. I believe it was a Molson’s brewery.
People shared their beer with me and I shared my joints until it all started to get real weird as the acid started to hit me. A group of Crowleyites from Rochdale built a bonfire in front of the stage which burned brighter and brighter as the evening progressed. Then they formed a great circle around the well-buzzed audience – a collection was taken up in order to bail out protestors from jail and over two hundred dollars alone was raised by cashing in empty beer bottles – laying down string to not only form a circle but a pentagram as well. Then a satanic band from Ohio called January came onto the stage and I began to have paranoid-magical thinking that the band and the witches were in cahoots.
For background information, a week leading up to the concert someone from Rochdale college had been talking about raising a cone of power on the popular underground FM radio station, stating how they were going to raise it at the concert in order to break through another dimension and allow dark powers to enter the earth plane. He supported his story with all kinds of astrological lore, but I largely dismissed it as crazy talk.
I had also made the mistake of studying an art magazine that Kay subscribed to that had a picture essay on Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych called “The Garden of Earthly Delights” – with all of its horrifying grisly depictions. One that stood out especially in my mind was a depiction of Hell with a damned music leader being tortured with harp strings strung through his body. A few days later, after a downtown protest of the invasion of Cambodia that had led to a huge riot, I went home to Roy and Kay’s – they were out of town – smoked some good hashish, picked up Kay’s grandmother’s old leather bible and read the Book of Revelation for the first time.
I say these were mistakes because of the suggestions they hammered into my addled LSD-soaked brain. Anyway, as the band January started to play it was obvious they were one of the new satanic bands that were starting to gain notoriety – heavy, bass-laden, thump-thump music, with a heavy rock beat. As I sat near the front, very near the bonfire, I began to notice that some of the witches had formed a small circle around the fire and were doing some kind of ritualistic snake dance, with a dark-haired woman obviously the witch in charge. It seemed to me that she kept staring at me intensely.
That’s when I really started to feel the force of gravity crushing me to the earth. The woman seemed to be beckoning me to join the circle, but I resisted as best I could. I thought it was all getting very insane, and tried to calm myself by telling myself that it was just the acid coming on, that’s all. I tried to stand but it was very hard because of the gravity. Finally, feeling like I was standing on the surface of Jupiter, I got up and started looking for a free clinic where I could get some Thorazine to snap me out of it. That’s when I noticed the strong smell of brimstone in the air. It was a really sickening smell, full of sulfur and shit.
The heavy thumping music was driving me nuts, and as I passed the many Crowleyites moving around the outer circle, I heard them chanting, “We can do anything, we can do anything,” and on and on. Then I heard sirens in the sky and beams of searchlights strafed the crowd. It was like H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, and I recall distinctly thinking that this was compelling evidence that we were not at the top of the food chain in the universe after all.
I looked up and saw one of the most unbelievable sights I’d ever seen: a hole had opened in the sky and black suited people were descending and, choosing victims, were disappearing inside random people. The black suited males were descending on the women and the women were descending on the men.
They wore pitch black clinging body suits from the crown of their heads to their toes that left only their faces visible. Across their left breasts was emblazoned the letter “S” in a blood-red serpentine script. That’s when I decided to get the hell out of there and walk home to the half-way house – but as I tried to step outside of the circle, I encountered a force field. I know, that sounds really out there, but that is how I perceived it. I put my hands out and I actually felt the barrier. Oh no, I thought, I’m doomed. I felt the witches closing in on me and I put up my dukes for a last stand, then I fainted dead on the spot.
I recall seeing myself on the ground as I left my body, hovering above myself and the concert. I thought, so this is what it’s like being dead. Then I lost consciousness. When I came to I was in a parking lot being beaten by a gang of bikers. They were literally kicking the shit out of me, and a voice in my head kept saying, over and over, “Give in and the pain will stop!” I remember yelling, “Never, I’ll never give in – you can have my body but you’ll never have my soul!”
That didn’t go over very well because one of the gang members pushed my face into the hard gravely asphalt and then stomped on the top of my head. The parking lot splintered in my face like glass and I could really feel the pain, then I lost consciousness once again. The next time when I woke up, I was in a coffin with the witches in dark hooded robes surrounding me, burning black smelly candles. Again the voice commanded me to give in and again I refused. Then the witches set fire to my feet and as the fire burned upwards I remember the excruciating pain and the smell of burnt hair and singed flesh. I lost consciousness as the fire consumed me.
I woke up a third time on the stage. This scenario was so ridiculous I realized that I must be in Hell because something like this was totally impossible. The strings to an electric bass guitar were strung through both my hands and out both of my feet, so that when the guitar was played it was like I was being electrocuted. Recollections of the Hieromyus Bosch triptypch flashed in my brain. Again I had the back and forth with the voice and again I lost consciousness.
I remembered thinking, Oh God, isn’t Hell supposed to be eternal punishment and if it was, then this trip is never going to end. That’s when I found myself leaving the planet Earth and soaring into outer space, faster and faster, and the closer I approached to the speed of light the slower everything around me became. This is where it gets like almost all of the near death out of body experiences you should be familiar with.
As things almost came to a standstill I perceived a small point of light ahead of me, which appeared to be the point that all points in space converged upon. It got bigger and bigger and before I knew it I was entering it. Then I felt myself being turned inside-out and ripped apart and that’s when I cried out for God to save me.
Instantly I was back at the concert, waking up from my trance. People around me were startled, many believing that I had died of a drug overdose. I went looking for the clinic more desperately than ever. As I passed a young man sitting against the right front wheel of a VW bus playing a twelve-string guitar, and seeing me he said, “Hey, sit down and I”ll play you all of your favorite songs.”
He must have noticed the crazed look in my eyes. Since he was playing at the same time that January was, and since the music he was playing soothed the savage beast, I sat down and joined him. I can’t recall his name, but he was from San Jose, California. I wondered if he was Jesus in disguise. I asked him how he knew what my favorite songs were and he started playing “Hey, Joe,” which just happened to be one of my favorite songs. It reminded of a time when I had borrowed a friend’s .38 revolver in order to shoot one of my other friends that was annoying me in a harmful manner. Hearing the verse about Joe who killed his old lady with the gun in his hand, made me feel guilty and I grabbed the man from San Jose’s cowboy boots – as if he were Jesus Christ – and begged him for forgiveness.
Some more background is needed at this point. As I travelled on the bus between Toronto and Windsor so that I could get my landed immigrant status at the bridge crossing in Detroit – I had entered Detroit by the tunnel under the Detroit River – an evangelist on the bus kept bugging me about getting down on my knees and repenting of my sins and asking Jesus into my heart as my Lord and Savior. He told me stories about miracles and healing and in hopes he would leave me alone, I told him about my experience in Isla Vista where I had been contacted by an alien guardian of the galaxy and the paranormal experiences I had had at the time.
That seemed to give him something to consider and he left me alone after insisting that he buy me lunch. Anyway, this is what I was thinking as the young man played his guitar. That’s right, I thought, all I have to do is get on my knees and repent and then I’ll be okay and back to normal. But the harder I prayed the more I sensed evil increasing all around me. This feeling of pure evil was shattering, almost freezing me in horror.
Come on, Jesus, I prayed, save me from this evil! Nothing happened. In fact, instead of salvation, I had a vision of myself being tugged between heaven and earth, and the harder I tried to reach for heaven the harder the pull back to earth became. Finally a voice in my head said, “Just let go!” And I did. Immediately it was like I had an epileptic attack. I shook from head to toe, feeling like there was a demon inside of me struggling to keep his possession, but at last he was ripped out of me and came out of my mouth with a blood-curdling scream.
Then a fresh, clean wind entered my body and I was lost in a heavenly vision. I was still in Coronation Park, but there were only five or six people left. They were young men playing Frisbee over by the large white arched entrance gate to the park that had an angel blowing a trumpet on top. One of them – the leader? – saw me and they all ran up and patted me on the back, congratulating me for making it.
“Is this heaven?” I asked the leader, whom I totally believed was Jesus.
“Yes, it is,” he answered.
“Then how come it’s exactly like back on earth?” I pointed to the flashing Tip Top bill- board in the background.
“Exactly,” said the leader.
I spun around waving my arms. “Where did everybody go?” I asked.
Then he pointed and I saw everyone being led in a chain by the black suited people into a black tunnel of darkness. As they passed, the black suited creatures cursed me with so much venom and hatred, it was hard to take in. “Traitor!” many of them spat at me in passing.
Now, you have to consider where I believed I was at this point in time. I thought the world had come to an end in an alien invasion, like in the Book of Revelation, and I was talking to Jesus himself. “What if I go back in time and warn them?” I asked, seeing the last of the humans being marched into the tunnel of total darkness.
“Don’t you know what that would mean?” he answered, and I thought, yeah, it means I have to die again. I said, “Yes,” and suddenly there was a brick walled well in front of me. It seemed that to go back in time I had to jump head first into the well, which I did without hesitation.
And then I was rain falling from the sky to the fertile earth, and then I was the earth, then a tree, an orange tree, and then I was an orange, and a human picked and ate me, and finally I was a new born baby struggling to be born. There was a light up ahead, and I wondered if I were reincarnating and all my memories of my life would be erased, and then I was born.
I came out of my trance and jumped up and declared, “I”ve been born again!”
And then the Holy Spirit spoke to me in a very audible voice inside my head. Don’t ask me how I knew it was the Holy Spirit, I just did. He told me two things and never spoke to me audibly like that again – no, I don’t hear voices. He said, “Everything you need to know about what you have just experienced is in the Bible.” And, “You were not in Hell, but in Limbo.”
And that’s why I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins. But I believe he died for everyone’s sins, with no repentance necessary. I am one of the greatest heretics on the planet, I believe in what I consider to be the true good news, to wit, I believe in Antinomian Universalism.
I believe that everyone has been saved by Jesus forever. I don’t believe in neither the Trinity nor that Jesus Christ is God. I totally reject any belief that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, since it is mainly an evil book, and this is why I believe I was allowed to come back to warn people about – the evil that is in the Bible. And that sums up my brush with supernatural evil. I was never the same after that. See you next time.