SLEEPOVER AT OPAR
A Pastiche by Jess Terrell
This story is a loose followup to Jess's
"Evil Queens Anonymous" that was featured in ERBzine
This city was a legend come to life. To confirm what
his eyes saw he touched the wall finding it to be smooth, cool,
timeless, and real. “Why must people touch things to connect?”
he said to himself. Then mumbled “Maybe to accept the reality” to
answer his own question as he rubbed the wall.
Deserted by his guide some days ago while scaling the
cliffs, the valley looked desolate when he entered. Only a glint
of the golden dome, spires, turrets, and towers could be seen at ground
level through the thick jungle foliage.
For an archaeologist / explorer / treasure hunter who
had already encountered some of the most sought-after artifacts in history
this was yet another jewel in his crown albeit a large jewel.
“That’s an ironic thought,” he concluded half aloud, “to
consider jewels at a time like this, if the legends about this place are
true.” He removed his trademark felt brim hat to wipe the sweat while
absorbing the sight and sounds. The jungle was alive with its daily
business. A pair of macaws squawked from above. A bird dropping
landed near his feet. In another tree manu the monkey munched on
berries while he watched the strange tarmangani.
The archaeologist followed the wall east searching for
an entrance. He estimated the city stood about fifty feet high with
signs of decay but still formidable. There was no sign of activity
and no entrance. He felt the city was deserted.
Then the macaws went silent and with that all jungle noise
Frozen in step he scanned the area. Seeing no sign
of a predator or anything that would affect the routine jungle activity
he touched his weapons to assure himself that they were in reach.
Behind him a branch cracked sparking a dive to the ground
with pistol drawn. Straining his eyes he found something moving in
the distance. It was large, hairy, and beast-like but not quite a
knuckle dragger. However that creature was too far away to account
for the cracking noise. Hugging the ground he looked right and left
for something or anything that was out of place.
With his back to the wall it came straight at him.
It was a bulky and stocky human but like a cross between a gorilla and
a caveman. It’s arms were larger than its head. It charged
full force with upraised club chattering in an unfamiliar tongue.
As he had before, when the need arose, the archaeologist raised his pistol
to shoot over the head of his antagonist. But the warning shot was
not sufficient. The “man” raged forward like a bull powered
For a second time he aimed his pistol, this time on target.
But as he squeezed the trigger a club thrown from his right side knocked
the pistol into the surrounding bush. Fearing his hand broken he
ran, thinking that surely he must be faster than this brute. Quickly
two more joined the chase then a third and a fourth.
With his pistol lost in the bushes and the savages on
his heels the archaeologist ran thinking he could outdistance them.
Bludgeons, like horizontal hail stones, few past just missing his head.
The archaeologist stayed parallel to the wall hoping to
find an entrance to the city and a hiding spot yet fearing these assailants
lived in this lost city and were thus more familiar with it than he.
By the time he realized the loss of footing it was too
late. The ground dropped away into a hole. The hole became a tunnel.
Down plunged the imminent archaeologist through dirt, mud, and spider webs
Overhead, Manu the monkey scampered away.
Meanwhile, La, Queen of Opar was straightening her bedroom
while chatting with a rare house guest.
“Nemone, it was so good of you to stay the night, I always
hoped that someday Burroughs would write an adventure for us together.
We never get to talk.”
“Tell me about it. The “manu mail service” is antiquated
compared to the phone system in civilization and the dum-dum just doesn’t
work for a private chat.”
“Oh I know”, laughed La putting away her favorite black
negligee selecting pajamas instead. “My Opar priests spend half their
time chasing the she-bolgani and the rest of their time boasting on the
dum-dum. Then the male-mangani start bragging. You can hear
all of them beating their chest a mile away. It is a terrible racket that
keeps me awake. None of them tend to the garden and the whole city
needs a new coat of paint. It makes me want to drown myself
in a bucket of rocky road.”
Nemone sat on the bed to find a great depression in the
mattress then moved to a nearby chair somehow without spilling her drink.
La continued, “That sounds good. Ice cream?
Nemone gazed in to her tea as if looking for a tea leaf
to read. “No thanks.“
Nemone paused, sipped her hot black tea then leaned back,
crossed her legs, and took a stern expression. “I am so done with
men. Have you heard from Tarzan? The dum-dum said he’s been
gone from the estate for a long time. I feel sorry for Jane.
I bet she’s worried sick over Tarzan and he’s probably off with the mangani
looking for grubs and worms on the other side of Africa. Doesn’t
even think about calling.”
“That’s right!” La stamped her foot with hands on
hips. “His ape yell travels for miles. I have stood on the
palace patio here in Opar and heard his ‘cry of the bull ape’ all the way
from his estate. When he yells like that you know he’s okay and probably
just killed something.” La paused. “But I’ve not heard that
yell in a long time.”
Nemone remained silent because La seemed to have more
to say. “I’m worried about Tarzan,” La continued. “If Jane
doesn’t know where he is. Something is wrong.”
“I know you’re troubled.” Nemone placed a comforting
hand on La’s shoulder. “But Tarzan has always been able to take care
“Tarzan has been strong for everyone, even me.”
La wiped a tear.
Seeking to cheer up La, Nemone responded. “He may
be ‘Lord of the Apes’ but those mangani smell.”
“Oh my Gawd!” La stopped in her tracks using her
hand to suppress a wide open mouth. “Smell! At least your priests
don’t stink like mine here in Opar. I ordered some air freshener
“Hey!” Nemone settled into a cushion. “Is
Phaidor selling Avon now? Look how far she has fallen.”
La removed her crown and poured herself a glass of chocolate
milk. “Phaidor has the only Avon franchise on Barsoom. She
could make a fortune.”
Nemone frowned. “I doubt Phaidor will make enough
money to reclaim her kingdom. She’s too young to give up on men.”
“Well, Phaidor’s older than she looks.” La
sat down across from Nemone. “Do you know the lifespan of a
woman on Barsoom? They live for hundreds of years.”
“If Phaidor were selling Mary Kay she could get a pink
chariot.” Nemone gazed into the distance. “To be beautiful for centuries,
ruling your subjects, with men groveling at your feet.” Nemone sighed
then realized, “But on Barsoom they have to lay eggs.
How does that work?”
Looking dejected La shook her head. “Egg laying
on Barsoom is just something else for men to torture women with.”
“Yeah.” Nemone gazed in to the distance. “Dejection,
The pair of queens giggled like teenage girls. But
their laughter was interrupted with the door chime calling La to duty.
Quickly she retrieved her crown, adjusted it upon her head then stood proud,
once again as the Queen of Opar.
Both La and Nemone entered the antechamber to receive
“Enter”, La commanded.
“My Queen”, grumbled Cadj who always seemed to have a
secret plan in his micro-brain. “We have a visitor found just outside the
city walls. Our patrol is in pursuit. It is only a matter of
time.” Cadj scratched under his armpit to retrieve a beetle
which he immediately sent down the hatch.
La caught her breath and griped a nearby chair.
“Is it Tarzan?”
“No my Queen. This man is different than most.
But he is not the temptation that strayed you from the Flaming God.
We only know it is some other tarmangani. He is dressed as most from
the outside world. He has a made of Histah.” Cadj emphasized
the last syllable to stress the loathsome belly crawler.
“Alert me when he is captured. I wish to interview
him. This man may bring news.”
“Yes Queen La.” Cadj exited with a bow closing the
door behind him.
Nemone squirmed upon her cushion. “Do you trust
La gazed at the door. “Cadj? No I don’t trust
him at all. He has defied me before. Tarzan helped me regain
the throne. But Cadj has many friends among the priests and
mangani. Somehow Cadj has sensed that I doubt our religion. He could
someday use that against me.”
Nemone hesitated. “Cadj doesn’t seem very bright.”
“But he’s devious enough to stir trouble.” La added.
“La, wouldn’t Tarzan protect you? He did before.”
“If Tarzan were here he would protect me. But he
“I see why you are troubled.” Nemone stood and moved
“It is more than the fear for my own life. I’m very
“I know.” Nemone gave La a hug.
La stepped away with tears in her eyes. “What
is it men really want?”
Nemone shrugged. “Sometimes just to jump in your
With that came a crash from La’s bed chamber.
This artwork by Mike DeCarlo shows
Indiana Jones having just crashed through the ceiling into La's
On instinct La grabbed the sacrificial knife from its
resting place in the antechamber. She was followed by Nemone with
spear in hand taken from a nearby corner. Together they entered the
bedroom to find a newly formed hole in the ceiling right above La’s bed.
Stretched on the bed was a man (a tarmangani) clad in kaki wearing a felt
brim hat and shoulder pack. Attached to his belt was an empty holster,
cartridges, a hunting knife and a blacksnake whip. But no firearm
Stunned and groggy he raised his head to survey the pair
of Queens. “I’ve just had a wild ride.” He stood but
wavered back and forth. Nemone moved to steady him.
With eyes ablaze and her chest heaving with anger La
held the knife ready to strike at the intruder. “Who are you that
dare enter the private chambers of the Queen of Opar?”
The archaeologist leaned slightly on Nemone for support
then raised a hand in defense of La’s threat. “Hold on sweetheart.
I was just trying to save my skin.” He waved his hand back and forth.
“Give me a minute.” He sat back down on the bed
and rubbed his eyes to clear his vision.
“Get off my bed,” La shouted as a small piece of ceiling
fell striking the archaeologist in the head.
“Ow! That hurt!” he exclaimed.
La placed the knife directly under his nose then pushed
it upward forcing him to stand. “No sudden movements. Keep
your hands visible.”
As he stood erect Nemone looked the intruder over.
She saw he was somewhat muscular under the dingy clothes. Not a warrior
like Tarzan but easily better than anything she found in Opar and as good
as the warriors in Cathne. But the eyes were a mystery.
They were a mix of green-hazel-grey-sky-with-gold-flecks. No one
in Opar or Cathne had eyes like this man. Where Tarzan’s gaze
could melt a heart, this man could comfort a heart. “La he’s a man.”
But La kept the knife pressed against his nose.
“He’s an intruder.” La’s fists were clenched in full Queen mode.
“He has defiled the private quarters of the Queen of the Flaming God.”
“Flaming God?” The archaeologist risked a cut throat
as La pressed the knife deeper.
“Silence Horta! La continued to gouge Jones with
the sacrificial knife.
Nemone surveyed the intruder seeing that when erect he
stood just over six feet tall. He was lean but muscular with a face
that through streaks of mud and dirt had been handsome at one time.
Even though shaken he carried himself with confidence and purpose.
“Hey La,” Nemone again poked her friend. “That’s a real man.”
“Maybe,” La sized Jones up and down. “He looks like
a lion tamer. One of those despicables that come to Africa
to take animals for a circus. But he is still an intruder.”
The knife remained at Jones’ throat but Nemone could
see that La was taking in the view.
What is your name?” La commanded.
“Dr Jones.” His eyes did not waver from the
Nemone raised an eyebrow. "La he’s a doctor."
La kept the knife against the man’s throat. “You
are a healer?”
With eyes not moving from the knife at his throat, Jones
responded, "No not that kind of doctor.”
Not relaxing the knife, La asked, “So Dr Jones what are
you doing here?”
With eyes crossed and centered on the knife, he smiled.
“Just call me Indiana.”
La scuffed, "Sounds like a dog's name.”
Jones rolled his eyes, "Very funny."
La looked into his eyes realizing this intruder could
be a gift from Flaming god that she had lost faith in. Then the door
La dropped the knife. “That might be Cadj.
If he sees this intruder he will demand a sacrifice.”
Jones perked to life. “Sacrifice?”
Nemone responded, “Hide”
La echoed, “Hide.”
Jones became fully alert. “Hide me? Where?”
La pointed at the crumpled heap that was once her bed.
Hearing a second door chime, Jones exclaimed, “Are you
kidding? That’s the first place he'll look.”
Nemone pointed to the closet. “In here.”
La threw her hands in the air. “All my clothes are
in there!” Then pointing the knife at Jones, “Don’t get my chothes
dirty! And stay out of my bon-bons!”
“Nemone, quick on the floor like you’ve fainted.
I’ll let him in.” La hurried to the door as the chime was replaced
by banging and shouts of her name.
With knife still in hand La opened the door to admit Cadj,
the high priest, and two guards.
Cadj looked towards the bedroom, “Queen La, as I was coming
to report an intruder just outside the city wall I heard a loud crash from
“As you can see the intruder was here” La gestured towards
the damaged bed.
Cadj twisted his head back and forth looking for the cause
of the hole in the ceiling. “Where did he go?”
La pointed to the whip. “He climbed back up using
that strange rope. If he retraced his steps back out of the tunnel
he could escape!”
Cadj picked up the whip to examine it. “Strange
rope made of Histah.”
La urged him on. “Get busy, find him now.”
With whip in hand Cadj moved out of the room noticing
Nemone still lay “fainted” on the floor.
“Guards, stay here to assist and guard Queen La,” ordered
“NO!” La commanded a little too strong. “Take
them with you. You need the help. Find him now!” La stamped
her foot. “This indiscretion calls for a sacrifice. You must
“We will sacrifice him immediately my Queen.” Said
Cadj to test La’s commitment.
“Catch him then alert me. I will do the sacrificing
around here!” La shouted.
Perplexed Cadj and the guards exited.
Once La had locked the door, Nemone regained her feet.
“That was close.”
Jones stuck only his head out of closet. “Is the
“Is the what clear?” asked Nemone as she dusted herself
Jones pushed his hat back. “Is he gone?”
La, with hands on hips. “Yes, he’s out searching
“You sent him on a wild goose chase.” Jones stepped
out of the closet into the bedroom.
La gave Jones a curious look. "Goose? We have
no gooses in Opar?"
"Opar? Then this is Opar. And Opar was a part
of Atlantis? That is the language you're using."
“It was long ago before the great calamity.”
Jones looked around the room noticing the architecture.
"I found the lost city of Opar?"
La still perplexed. “Your language is strange. Opar
is not lost it is right here!"
Nemone, reminded everyone of the need for urgency, "We
must get him out of here before Cadj returns.
La "Where can he go?"
Nemone smiled at Jones. "We have plenty of room
Jones perked up "Cathne? The fabled city of Gold?
Was Cathne another outpost of Opar?"
Nemone replied with a bigger smile, "I will be happy to
show you around Cathne."
Jones looked suspicious. “You won’t sacrifice me.”
Nemone took him by the arm. “Oh no, you’ll be quite
comfortable. Your every wish granted.”
La shook her head. "Not so fast Nemone. Opar needs
a king. I've protected Tarzan. I can protect Indiana Dr Jones.”
Hearing a familiar name, Jones was taken aback.
"Tarzan! That's another fable of books and movies.”
La breaks into tears. "Movies! I never get
to go to the movies. Every night I sit at home all alone."
Nemone moved to comfort her friend. "There there
La, I will come to visit."
La "Oh you know what I mean, a girl likes to go
out. Nice dinner, dancing, a show, a moonlight ride in a chariot.
No hokey religion, no sacrifices, no beast men." La blew her nose.
Nemone eyed Jones with anticipation. "I know what
“I want a bon-bon,” said La on the way to the closet.
Jones fingered his whip and empty holster. "Ladies
I am overwhelmed but first things first. What's his name? Cadj?
He'll be back?"
La, returning from the closet, and Nemone grasping Jones
by the arm chorused, “Right!"
Jones dusted off his hat. "Do all the guys around
here look like him, this Cadj?"
La muttered a “Yes, they do."
Jones removed his hat to scratch his head. "That
is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard. No wonder you're horny."
"You beast!" La screamed as she slapped Jones on
the right cheek.
"That was uncalled for!" Nemone slapped Jones on
the left cheek.
"How dare you?" La slapped Jones again on the right
"Do you think we are all savages?" Nemone slapped Jones
again on the left cheek.
Jones rubbed his cheek. “I wouldn’t know a savage if it
hit me. You are both lovely.”
La’s temper flared. "I am High Priestess and Queen
of Opar. I hold the power of life and death over you."
Nemone was likewise irritated. "I am Queen of Cathne,
where you will be safe if we don't kill you first!”
Jones replied, with his hands protecting his face.
“Okay, I get it. I’m sorry. It has been a busy day."
“You men are all alike.” La scowled with hands on
hips and a look that could kill.
Seeking an exit, Jones looked around. "Where's
Nemone doubled her fist. "Still trying to start trouble?
I'll give you a whip."
La drew a breath. "No that's not what he means.
Cadj took the whip.”
Jones rolled his eyes towards the hole in the ceiling.
"How could you let him take my whip?"
La pleaded. "What was I supposed to do? He
walked out with it."
Jones twisted his head to the side biting his tongue.
"I've had that whip for years. I've lost my gun. I need my
“Okay,” growled La. “Stay put I will get it for you. Wait
here." La left her chambers to look for the whip.
Nemone, with Jones to herself. "So tell me Indiana
Dr Jones, what brings you to Opar?"
Jones admired the furnishings in La’s quarters, "Well
I've been accused of seeking fortune and glory."
Nemone felt she had discovered his truth. "Fortune?
You've come to rob the treasure vaults?"
“Treasure vaults?” Jones could not suppress his interest.
“Oh no it is not like that.”
Nemone pondered. "Perhaps you seek glory? With a
Queen at your side?"
“I don’t know any good queens.” Nemone swung for
a slap at Jones but he caught her arm. “I mean until now.” He looked
into her eyes as he moved in for a kiss.
Nemone sensing his move acted casual. “What do you
Jones with arm gently around Nemone’s waist "I study
human history by digging up old artifacts and things"
"Ever dig up a Queen who is a living, breathing, woman?"
Nemone placed her hand about his shoulder.
“And a beautiful Queen at that.” Jones felt this was an
easy conquest but Nemone slapped him instead.
“Not so fast Indiana Dr Jones. I am a Queen and
will be treated as such. You must earn me. And should you think
La is an easy conquest I’ll show you the altar of the
Flaming God with its blood stains.”
Jones pushed his hat back and shook his head. “It’s
hard work being an archaeologist,” he muttered.
Meanwhile La searched Cadj's quarters looking for Jones'
whip. She was startled to find Cadj watching from the door.
"Looking for something my Queen?"
"Cadj, did you catch the intruder?" She eyed Jones’
whip strung over Cadj's head and around his chest.
Cadj fidgeted. "No my Queen. Why are you here?"
The suspicion was thick in his voice.
La looked down her nose at the beastly man.
"Because I am the High Priestess and Queen of Opar and I doubt your ability
to find him."
Cadj pressed the issue, "You were looking for something?"
La raised her voice in full Queen mode, "You are supposed
to be looking for someone! That thing you are wearing belongs to
the intruder, it should be bait for a trap."
Cadj touched the whip hanging about his chest. "Yes
La stamped her foot. "If he is still in the city
he may want it. Set a trap with it as the bait. Must I do all
your thinking for you?" With that La wheeled to return to her quarters
leaving Cadj to fulfill her command.
When, after returning to her boudoir, La brought Nemone
and Jones up-to-date. Then it was Nemone with a flash of inspiration.
“I could distract him while you swipe the whip?”
La approved of the idea. “That could work.”
“Let’s do it. But be careful sweetheart.” Jones
agreed with a wink at Nemone. She smiled remembering his earlier
impertinence but looking directly into his eyes.
La looked around. “We’ll need a club or some weapon.”
Nemone pulled flowers from a vase. “Use this.”
Jones raised his eyebrows. “Oh no. I can’t!”
Jones took the vase to both protect it and examine it. “This
vase is clearly a piece from Atlantis. I recognize the style.”
La shrugged her shoulders. “Go ahead. We’ve
Jones shook his head holding the vase before him.
“Do you know how old this is?”
With indifference La nodded. “It’s been here all
“We are running out of time.” Nemone opened the
door and checked the hallway. “Take the vase let’s go.”
“I’m an archaeologist. I can’t break this vase.”
La threw her hands in the air. “Go ahead. I’ll find
something else and catch up.”
Nemone took the vase from Jones’ hands. “Let’s Go!”
With vase in hand Nemone left to find Cadj as Jones trailed her.
Together Jones and Nemone crept through the hallway.
They found Cadj concealed in the hallway near the altar room where the
whip was displayed in plain sight.
Nemone handed the vase to Jones gesturing what he was
supposed to do with it. Then with a deep breath and a moment
to compose herself Nemone approached Cadj. Setting aside her queen
persona Nemone reverted to a lonely woman. Jones watched, vase in
hand, from his hiding spot.
“Why Cadj, I was just thinking about you.”
Cadj stood from his squatting position in the shadows.
“Queen Nemone. It is dangerous to be out of your
quarters with the intruder on the loose.”
Touching Cadj on his cheek Nemone responded in a near
whisper. “I was all alone and afraid. I thought you could protect
Disregarding Nemone’s previous lack of interest Cadj touched
“I have wondered about you. La has rejected me many
times. I am mighty and smart.”
Nemone rubbed his shoulder then his arm. Her hand
was dwarfed by his flexed bicep. “You are so strong.”
Nemone moved to her left to put Cadj’s back to the concealed Dr. Jones.
Cadj stepped closer to pull Nemone down to his lips.
Then thud and Cadj crumbled to the floor.
Nemone breathed a sigh of relief. “What took you
so long, his breath smelled like dead hyena!”
Jones grabbed his whip then stooped to examine the broken
shards of vase.
“It’s a pity.” Still in the shadows Jones held a
shard in his hand and bent over to collect others.
Behind him Nemone could see movement in the darkened hallway
but before she could say anything she heard a “Thud!” and watched Indiana
Dr Jones crumple to the floor as La stood over him.
“Oh no!” La exclaimed, “I thought it was Cadj!”
Nemone rushed in. “Help me get him out of her.”
The pair of Queens tugged and pulled Jones back to La’s
quarters to find yet another visitor waiting for them.
“And who is this?” Tarzan stepped from behind a
curtain then gestured towards the unconscious Jones.
La was visibly relieved to see the ape-man. “Tarzan,
what are you doing here?”
Tarzan looked smug. “I heard on the manu-mail you
had a visitor. Thought I should investigate.”
Nemone replied to Tarzan’s question, "His name is Indiana
Tarzan examined the growing bump on Jone’s head. "Sounds
like a dog's name."
Nemone sat down herself feeling relieved.
"He is a archaeo-something."
"A treasure hunter.” Tarzan started to splash Jones
with water to revive him but thought better of it.
Nemone collected her thoughts. "We need to get him
out of here before he takes something.
“And before Cadj sacrifices him” added La.
“With the whack on the head he has he'll wake up with
Nemone looked worried. "Are you sure?"
Tarzan smiled, “Believe me I know."
Nemone felt more disappointment than she expected.
“So he’ll forget all about us?”
Tarzan kneeled next to Jones as he began to stir. “Maybe.
If not I’m sure Lord Greystoke can make a contribution to his museum.”
“Who?” Nemone did not recognize the name.
“Just a friend of mine in civilization.” Tarzan
watched Jones closely as he got his bearings.
La recovered from her shock. “Tarzan I heard you
“I’m okay. I found another lost city.” Tarzan helped
Jones to stand as he still seemed dazed.
La showed her doubt. “Do you think Jane will believe that?
Tarzan frowned at La’s accusation. “I’ll send you a copy
of the book when it comes out.”
Then turning his attention to the prostrate Jones.
“I should get him out of here before he recovers.” Without effort
Tarzan hoisted the unconscious Jones across his shoulders to head towards
“Wait,” came a faint cry from one of the queens. “Don’t
take him to civilization, he can stay with me.”
Tarzan turned to see which of the pair of queens had spoken.
*** THE END ***
[‘Sleepover at Opar" a pastiche by Jess Terrell with
artwork by Mike DeCarlo.]
[Copyright Jess Terrell 2018.]