3. THE TUSKS OF TANTOR
A Sequel to "Tarzan®
"What do you think,
Professor Van Helsing?"
"Very strange," the learned man replied. "Except for these two
tusk marks in the neck area, there is no sign of violence on the body."
"Except for the tusk marks?" Tarzan almost broke into laughter.
"Professor, I would say that if Tantor gores Buto in that way, that's all
of the violence you need!"
"True," said Abraham Van Helsing, "but I would think a bull elephant
mad with must would have left many other marks, numerous tusk wounds, for
instance, as well as plenty of bruises from his giant feet."
"I agree, my friend," said Professor A.Q. Porter. "That's why
I asked you to come to Africa, Dr. Van Helsing. I think we need your opinion
in your particular area of expertise."
"And that is...." said Tarzan.
"Vampirism," said Van Helsing. "The undead. Those who suck the
blood of the living. Usually, when we think of vampires, we think of people.
But animal vampires have been known to exist, such as vampire bats. And,
of course, all meat-eaters enjoy, as part of their diet, the 'blood of
the kill.' "
"So you think," said Tarzan, "that this might be the work of
a parasitic pachyderm?"
"Very possibly," said Van Helsing. "Note that the body of the
rhinocerous appears to be slightly shrunk, as if fluid had been drained
"Fluid, like blood," said Professor Porter gravely.
"But how could an elephant become a vampire?" question Tarzan.
"I can't quite picture a vampire sidling up to Tantor to suck his blood.
I would think you would soon have one very destroyed vampire, even if with
a tusk rather than an aspen stake."
"Yes," said Professor Van Helsing. "A wooden stake is best, but
vampires can be killed in other ways. We killed Dracula with a hunting
knife, so it's feasible that such a creature could be killed with an elephant
tusk. Of course, Dracula came back to life later. That undead monster seems
to have a life of his own!"
"But still," asked Tarzan, "how could Tantor become a vampire
without being bitten by one?"
"Sometimes," said Van Helsing, "there are other ways. When the
vampire is killed, it disintegrates. But if those remains are mixed with
blood, the vampire may rise again. Or, if a dead creature's remains come
into contact with things the vampire intimately touched, that can result
in the creation of a new vampire in some cases."
"Things the vampire touched?" said Tarzan.
"Intimately," said Van Helsing.
"Shoot!" Tarzan cried, clapping his forehead with his hand.
"What?" said Professor Porter.
"The elephant's secret burial ground," said Tarzan. "That vampire
I killed. May have been Dracula himself. I took one of his extra boxes
of dirt and spread them around in the elephant graveyard!"
"You WHAT!" roared Van Helsing. "How could you be so stupid!"
Professor Porter leaned over to Van Helsing and whispered, "Uh,
careful there, Prof. That's Tarzan of the Apes you're talking to."
"Ah, yes," said Van Helsing, calming down. "Can you lead us to
the spot where you spread this dirt?"
"Only if you promise not to raid it of its ivory," said Tarzan.
"I can make that promise," said Van Helsing. "I never violate
the law.....for ivory."
Several days later, the three men came to the secret elephant
burial ground. Bones of all kinds, including huge, priceless, ivory tusks,
littered the place, which was enclosed in an almost impenetrable wall of
Lying over against the side of one rock wall, half-hidden in
a shallow cave, was a large bull elephant who appeared to be freshly dead.
"Looks like a new arrival," said Tarzan.
"I'm not so sure," said Van Helsing. He stooped to examine the
beast closely. It seemed to be breathing. A trickle of fresh blood was
dripping from the end of its trunk and from its mouth.
"This is very likely a vampire elephant, come back to life after
dirt from the vampire's grave was tossed onto its bones," said Van Helsing.
"Wow!" said Tarzan. "I had no idea. What do we do now?"
"You said you killed another vampire," said Van Helsing. "You
must kill this one as well."
"Tantor is my friend," said Tarzan. "Can't you do it?"
"I could," said Van Helsing. "But it works best if the fatal
blow is struck by one who loved it in life. That would be you, Tarzan."
"I've got my aspen wood stake blade on my Swiss Army Knife,"
said Tarzan. "But it hardly seems adequate for such a big guy."
"No, no," said Van Helsing. "You are right. Terribly inadequate.
Just use your wooden spear."
Tarzan gulped but advanced bravely. "Just a moment, old friend,
and you'll be out of your undead Hell," the apeman said. So saying, he
launched the spear and it lodged in the great behemoth's heart. The beast's
red-rimmed eyes suddenly shot open and it turned its head and looked at
Tarzan with nerve-splattering rage and let out a roar of pain and anger
that caused even Tarzan to cover his ears. Then, it slumped back and a
look of deep, eternal peace seemed to cross its features.
"You have released it," said Van Helsing, patting Tarzan's shoulder.
"The curse is almost gone."
"Almost?" said Tarzan.
"Well," said Van Helsing. "To be sure, it is best to cut off
"Now wait a
minute," said Tarzan. "I've got a blade with a serrated edge on my Swiss
knife, but I'm not about to try to saw through that thick neck with--"
Just then the three turned and looked as they heard a strange
noise, as of air being let out of a balloon. The elephant was collapsing
inward on itself. It's skin appeared to be drying up like a wilted peach.
They watched in fascination and horror as the skin and flesh wrinkled and
then crumbled more and more, until only a clean skeleton was left.
"Cut off the head, eh?" said Tarzan.
He stepped forward and gave the skull a kick and the now-brittle
bones easily separated at the neck, the head rolling to one side.
"How's that?" grinned Tarzan.
"It will do," said Van Helsing. "Yes, it will do nicely."