THE RATNAZ FILES: BOOK VII
Whizzle's Classic SF Stories
All-Gory Pulp Parodies
by Today's Authors In the Style of Yesterday's Giants
All Bill Hillman Contributions Copyright 1997-1999
by Bill and Sue-On Hillman, Inc.
Maple Grove Productions
CHAPTER 76: The Alien Invasion --Tangor
CHAPTER 77: You Only Live Twice In Real Life --Tangor
CHAPTER 78: The Last Chapter Wasn't Funny --Tangor
CHAPTER 79: The Land of Delusions --Tangor
CHAPTER 80: Big Bertha --Tangor
CHAPTER 81: Dim Son and Big Moons --Bill Hillman
CHAPTER 82: Death Valley Daze -- From Sand to Shining Sea --Bill Hillman
CHAPTER 83: Something Wicked This Way Comes...They’re Here!
CHAPTER 84: Invasion of the Led Zeppelins (aka Panic at Stutter’s Mill)
CHAPTER 85: Big Bill & Big Bruce - The Blues Buoys with the Incredible
Waltz Kings - Live at Ferris’ Big Wheel Club Performing Their Hit:
“You’re Tuvane... you probably think this song is about you.” --Bill Hillman
CHAPTER 86: Das Boobs --Bill Hillman
CHAPTER 87: Watership Down --Bill Hillman
CHAPTER 88: The Return of the Living Dead --Bill Hillman
CHAPTER 89: The Jeddak of The North --Tangor
CHAPTER 90: Malice In Underland;
Wherein A Knowledge of Music History Is Essential --Tangor
CHAPTER 76: The Alien Invasion --Tangor
Tang-Gor, the disembodied (almost) intelligence from beyond the farthest star, dismounted the animated Bozhart mannikin before the drill on the strange burrowing machine whined to a halt. The devious alien scuttled across the rubble-strewn floor like a South Seas land crab, but twice as fast. Into a floor-level furnance vent, the grill having been removed previously for such need, the hideous creature hurried to a destination which only it knew about (and Tangor, of course).
Through a veritable maze of twisting channels and tunnel-like fiber-glass insulated vent tubing the unearthly monster scuttled. Left, then right, then up, down, left again, two rights followed by a wrong, sideways, downways, upways and thatways. The course was mind-boggling to both reader and author (though really smart readers will draw a map using the directions above, but only Tangor knows HOW FAR before each twist and turn that went left, then right, then...).
The strange creature eventually arrived at a tiny cubicle far beneath the planet's surface. The machines were of odd and unusual design, never fashioned by or meant to be used by human hands. Tang-Gor's strong chelae clicked and clacked as they moved purposefully over the bizarre display of dials, switches, flashing lights and knobs. Robby the Robot, first seen in that wonderful terrestrial SF flick "Forbidden Planet" then later relegated to a comedy relief role in the campy "Lost In Space" series, might have understood what the grotesque being labored to produce, but naught other on the small, spinning globe known as Mama Urth.
An unnerving and low-pitched tone permeated the tiny chamber. At that moment Tang-Gor ceased his restless activity and turned to face a holographic grid which materialized out of thin air. The image fizzled and sparked then slowly cleared to reveal the visage of a similar creature much larger and more imposing than Tang-Gor. In the background were two humans, a male and a female, who appeared to be tied to laterally-placed poles slowly rotating above heat cells embedded in the floor.
"This better be good, Tang-Gor," the authoritative alien's voice reverbrated in the scientifically cramped hollow. "Lex Lesion and Faithful Dromedary are nearly done." The chief glanced toward the dead actors sizzling over the high-tech hibachi.
"O Mighty Monitor of Betatuna," Tang-Gor reverently intoned, "all is going according to plan. The humans of this backward island planet have begun to destroy themselves through greed, hate and bad pulp writing."
The Monitor of Betatuna impatiently asked: "Did you send that delightful plant substance like I asked?"
Tang-Gor would have gulped had the creature an anatomical feature with which to gulp. "I have it here," the alien said, lifting a bottle containing ground dessicated leaves.
"Put it in the transporter," the powerful Monitor said.
An instant later the bottle of Macintosh Oregano disappeared. The image of Tang-Gor's boss shifted slightly, then the spice appeared in his mighty claw. Deftly opening the container the Monitor savored the pungent aroma with satisfaction. "By the way, Tang-Gor, did you retrieve your claw-held communications device yet?"
Tang-Gor cringed. He had made the mistake of relating his tale of woe to Edgar Nyce, who sold the idea as a marketing scheme to a cellular phone company who embarked on a rather successful advertising campaign with a bumbling purple claymation alien from another planet sent back to retrieve a lost communications device.
"O Mighty Monitor of Betatuna, it is my sad duty to report I have been unsuccessful--"
The deeply buried chamber, as well as all the other-worldly equipment, the hideous Tang-Gor and two reserve bottles of Oregano went up in flames. Before the holographic image faded forever we hear the Monitor of Betatuna say, "Idiot! We'll send the battle fleet instead of waiting for the humans to destroy themselves. I must have more Oregano!"
Meanwhile, far above in the underground chamber where the Pellucifar Burrower had burrowed, Captain Canuck sprang forth to do battle just as Rathmind screamed "You? Ed????"
That name, and the appearance of the man named emerging from the monstrous machine, took Captain Canuck by surprise. Breaking down into tears the heroic Canadian fell to his knees. "They made me do it, boss! I didn't want to! Honest! It's all Rolph's idea! Him and that creepy slimeball Tang-Gor! Forgive me, Mr. Nyce! Please?"
Edgar Nyce, revitalized by his exhilarating adventures with Lord Greatstrokes and Nappie, was inclined to be forgiving. He patted the downcast Canadian superhero's head in passing, heading straight to the bar where the decanter of Ratnaz Specials resided. Pouring a snootful the firey-eyed author turned to address the gathered group.
"We have reached the mid-point in our little narrative," Nyce began. "Long have I been the master of foreshadowing and convoluted plotting. Unbeknowst to you all, we have arrived at this present location through my masterful skill in diverting the reader from the obvious."
Greatstrokes had helped himself to a glass and sipped the Ratnaz Special with appreciation. "Do tell, Nyce. I suppose you fixed it so I would become desperate for funds to shore up my shattered golf holdings overseas, forced me to cross the Atlantic and to rent a house next door to you and to create the most intricate scheme of stealing billions from California banks via a fabulous underground mole--and that I wouldn't kill you when you interferred?"
Nyce merely smiled. "Precisely."
Carmon Nappie frowned. "I dinna think so. I'm me own man."
"Really?" Ed chuckled. "When were you born? Where were you born? Who's your mother?"
Nappie's forehead wrinkled with the extreme effort of thought then, failing, smoothed with startled surprise. Nyce grinned hugely, replenishing his empty glass.
"I employed a hack Canadian writer to create you and Greatstrokes," Nyce said. "I knew his simple methods would result in humourous though ineffective characters, characters I could mold to my will and purpose. I will soon reveal that purpose, my dear Nappie. Rathmind, a pickle for our puzzled engineer."
"Ed--" Rathmind scowled.
"Damn it, I suppose you're going to tell me that you knew what we were doing all along."
Edgar Nyce's furrowed brow remained so for an instant. "We have a third player," the author revealed. "A Texan of uncommon intelligence who has surprised me on occasion, but never fear, even he will fall before the craft and cunning of Edgar Nyce!"
Greatstrokes fished for the olive, not appearing to pay attention to the excited writer's revelations. In a cool, cultured, high society voice he asked: "And Brace Bozhart--what about him?"
Ed lit a cigarette and puffed furiously. "That bastard I will crush personally."
Captain Canuck shivvered under the baleful glare of Ed Nyce. "We'll help, boss. Won't we?"
Rathmind sighed, the serving tray craddled between his ancient and arthritic hands. "Do we have much choice?"
CHAPTER 77: You Only Live Twice In Real Life
Jane Porker-Bozhart looked down at the mechanical droid lying in the dust of Bertha La Ropa's chicken farm. "Thank goodness Brace told me to send in Body Double Oh Seven. He was absolutely correct that bitch would kill me if she had the chance. Well, I'm alive and she's gone. I can get about my business."
Jane stepped over the mangled form of the $200 million dollar cybernetic body double. The weather-beaten screen door, what was left of it, swung open to her touch. Inside the fowl house, she quickly began removing the pulp art from the walls, rolling the canvases tightly until she had a sizeable bundle. The lithe blond easily lifted the large package to her shoulder and hurried out to the yellow Camaro hidden behind a soot-covered hedge.
The voluptuous woman closed the trunk on the stolen paintings then entered the car. Reaching inside the skin-tight bodice of her black bodysuit, Jane retrieved a small notebook which had been secured by her underwire bra. Consulting the instructions her handsome husband had prepared the woman ticked off two items then turned the ignition key on the powerful vehicle. Moments later only a slowly drifting haze of dust wafted over the desolate chicken farm.
Jane glanced into the rear view mirror as Brace ran out of the Tappan Range Chicken Shack Vacation House. As she turned onto the narrow highway, that thug Marlin Brandough appeared. Pressing her dainty foot-- clad in sensible Western boots --against the responsive gas pedal the woman concentrated on steering as the meticulously maintained lemon Camaro accelerated to 100 miles per hour and beyond.
The beautiful woman handled the sports car with masterful authority. All her skills learned as Bumper Car Crash Queen at the Texas State Fairgrounds as a young beauty pagent contestant were needed if Cilli Billman and her charming children were to be helped.
The landscape passed in a blur, though most of it was already obscured by a pall of thick ash following the cataclysmic firestorm which had destroyed most of Los Angeles. As she drove Jane again contemplated the odd change in her husband's behavior. Brace had always been a gentle, caring, loving, generous person--or had been until that scoundrel Hillie Billman showed up. Since Hilary joined Brace's staff her husband had not been himself. He seemed preoccupied with business dealings and it was obvious that business had taken a nasty turn. Something was terribly wrong at BB Inc. and the determined woman hoped that helping Cilli Billman find her husband, who claimed to be from Canada but who actually came from West Virginia (according to Cam Spaid who'd run a background check at her request) would set things right. If Cilli could make Hillie take responsibility for his family it was Jane's fervent hope that the Brace she loved would resurface.
Jane slowed to make a sharp turn onto an unmarked and little used road. Heading east, into the mountains, Mrs. Porker-Bozhart maintained as high a speed as the twisting roadway allowed. She was aware of the series of S curves ahead, having come to the underground facilities of BB Inc. on several occasions. She was aware of the turns but was caught totally by surprise by the sudden appearance of a tawny-haired, past middle-age man staggering in the middle of the road. She barely caught a glimpse of the green-sequined evening dress fashionably draped over his too-thin body before she swerved to miss hitting him. Her last impression, as the car left the road to bounce over rough, uneven terrain, was the startled look on the man's face. Her forehead hit the windshield and Jane Porker-Bozhart lost consciousness.
Nick Miser was locked in a pleasant (for him) struggle with Judy Flanders. The blond babe with double D's didn't speak English but she had no trouble understanding the lecherous producer's intentions. Her cries to cease his unwanted advances where ignored by the panting Miser--that is until the door to his office slammed open and an avenging angel entered.
"Jane!" Miser stammered. He was shocked by her abrupt entrance. He was embarrassed to have been caught assaulting the weeping woman. But most of all he was terrified by the sight of a 9mm handgun pointed at his head.
"Leave 'em down," Jane barked as Miser reached to draw up his trousers. Jane kept the weapon steady on the perspiring executive of Rodent and Touchwood Productions. She offered her left hand to the distraught woman and gently pulled her up from the leather sofa.
Miser, trembling with fear, spoke placatingly. "It's not what it looks like, Jane. We were rehearsing a scene for the new Sleeza, Bimbo of the Jungle movie. Just ask her."
Jane did. The reply was melodic, desperate, but not English. Jane's eyes narrowed as the woman spoke. Looking at Miser, Jane's trigger finger stiffened. Mrs. Porker-Bozhart answered the mussed starlet in Ms. Flander's native tongue, at which point the foreigner's weeping subsided significantly.
Miser's shakes intensified as the conversation continued between the two women. He knew there would be no mercy from Jane, who had a reputation as being more hardened than her powerful husband. Brace Bozhart was so powerful that he could buy judges the way Miser bought peanuts. Should Jane murder him she would never see the inside of a jail.
"Okay, I was a horse's behind. Things got out of hand. I misunderstood her. Don't kill me, Jane."
The woman said nothing to Miser, though she spoke quickly to the red-eyed girl at her side. Judy Flanders suddenly grinned, nodding furiously.
"Lie down on the couch, Nick. Face down." Jane's muzzle remained centered on the terrified producer. "Keep still!" Jane commanded.
Miser felt a tugging at his feet, then felt his pants pulled off. His keys, some coins, and a fat money clip hit the floor. He couldn't see what was going on and that made it more frightening. He openly wept, pleading for his life.
"Don't kill me, Jane. Gosh! I've done everything Brace asked me to do. I think of him like a brother."
"Brother snakes," was the cold reply. "Make a move and I'll take off the back of your head with a bullet."
Flanders knelt on his back. She gripped his wrists and jerked Nick's hands behind him. He felt something wide being wrapped around his wrists and realized it was his belt. The sound of ripping cloth was heard, then his feet were tied together.
"Roll over, Nick."
It was difficult, bound hand and foot, but the pressure of a cold gun pressed against his neck provided sufficient desire to accomplish the task. Miser sat on the leather sofa in his Randy Rodent briefs, his shirt unbuttoned and his dignity vastly diminished.
"Where's Brace?" Jane asked. She had lowered the gun and pulled a chair over to the bound producer. "I know he was just here."
"I don't know," Miser said. "Honest, Jane. He showed up here with this lady and..." Miser clammed up. He wasn't about to reveal the conversation he had with Brace on the phone, nor the words they had exchanged in his office not fifteen minutes earlier.
Jane, straddling the chair, leaned forward to press the muzzle of her deadly pistol against the insignificant bulge fronting Miser's underwear. "Talk, Nick, or I'll make an alto out of you. Of course," she added with a sorrowful tone, "the kick this thing has might make you a soprano."
Five minutes later Jane had all her questions answered.
"Come along, Judy," Jane said. "I'm not wasting a bullet on this scumbag."
Jane glanced at the clock in the lobby as they passed into the night, 4:30am. "Where are you, Brace?" she muttered softly.
Both women entered the sleek Camaro. Speaking aloud, though she knew Judy Flanders did not understand a word she said, Jane Porker-Bozhart made a vow. "I never worry about Brace and floozies like you, dearie, but if he's mucking around with our fortune, I'll carve him like a Christmas turkey!"
CHAPTER 78: The Last Chapter Wasn't Funny
Dan Darter had carried the struggling woman some distance from the mesmerized group listening to the Canadian hack's spiel delivered by Jonny Wineswiller. Darter had had a rough time of it because Dee Dee's efforts to escape had marked him with more shin bruises, rib bruises and given him a bad case of lower back pain. Though the young woman was lithe and slim-waisted, hauling Dee Dee Morris' 115 pounds for a half-hour was no picnic.
The ex-mercenary turned bully boy had descended deeper into the cavern system, at times sliding on his rump down steep inclines with the woman across his shoulder. How far their descent had taken them was not known, but it was some considerable distance. Curiously, Darter's keen ears heard the sound of surf and his sensitive nostrils detected the scent of sea water. How this could be in this ill-lit underworld he did not know, but their current path seemed to take them toward the source of sound and scent.
The rock beneath the perspiring kidnapper's feet leveled out, it was no longer a rapid descent into the bowels of the earth. The tunnel seemed wide, though the patches of luminescent fungi were too few and far between to reveal the true extent of their surroundings.
After a particularly vicious kick by Dee Dee, Dan stopped, set the woman on her feet, then cocked a heavy fist back to his muscular shoulder. "Damn it, Dee, give me any more crap and I'll knock some out of you!"
His eyes were mean and threatening. Dee Dee chewed her lip, contemplating her answer. She wisely realized that any answer at all would send the desperate man over the edge.
Darter, satisfied, kept a cruel grip on the princess of bars' wrist and resumed his search for a way out of the caverns beneath destroyed Los Angeles. Moments later they both saw a brightness ahead and Darter did not have to tug exceptionally hard to get Dee Dee to hurry along; the daughter of Helium Supply's chief executive officer was equally eager to leave the dreary, forbidding confines of the dank tunnels. Rounding a damp wall the two stopped with stunned surprise as the fantastic scene beyond imprinted their brains.
A dozen men worked on a stone wharf alongside which lay a sleek and powerful submarine. Looking more like a great white shark grown to monstrous proportions rather than any work of man, the vessel was unlike any that Dan Darter, ex-military, had ever seen.
"Jumpin' Jiminy!" Darter softly exclaimed. "That's some work of art! Man, if I'd had that during the Coconut Island War there'd have been some serious damage done!"
Dee Dee frowned. She had not heard of the Coconut Island War. She knew something of Dan's checkered past as a mercenary, but this episode had never been mentioned.
Darter was not about to enlighten the woman as the "war" had simply been a tiff between two Pago Pago families over a grove of palm trees. He'd been hired to "wipe out the competition" but had ended up seduced by the rival competitor's number eight daughter. He still might have accomplished his mission if he had not contracted a particularly disagreeable social disease that required immediate attention at a Stateside hospital.
A slight movement by Dee Dee caused Darter to growl. "Make a sound and you're dead meat, kid."
Darter's erratic behavior impressed the princess of bars. She remained silent, though possible succor was only a dozen yards away, just beyond the mountains of crates and engine parts that lay between.
"They're getting ready to sail," Darter surmised. "Smell that? Seawater. Must be a subterranean entrance to the Pacific."
"Indeed there is," a booming voice announced.
The man and woman turned quickly. What they saw was even more startling than the fantastic vessel in the underground grotto. The man was nearly seven feet tall. He wore a satin dress uniform, plum in color with white ermine at tunic hem, cuffs and collar. A large stovepipe-like hat, only wider at the top and rather floppy, sat atop his tightly-curled black hair. His skin was black, his face handsome, his presence commanding.
"Pity you found dis place," the man said. Dee Dee and Darter listened attentively, the sawed off shotgun was a great attention getter. "Damn crackers always buttin' in a man's business. Who you with? DEA? Locals?"
Dee Dee's eyes widened slightly, though she revealed little else. Drug smugglers! Oh!
Darter relaxed, offering a smile. "I know you."
The shotgun elevated and turned toward Darter. "You do? Too bad, sucker!"
"Wait! You don't understand. You know me, too!"
The black man (and the three armed sailors at his back) leaned forward. After a long look, the leader shook his head. "Never seen you before. Prepare to die."
"Columbia. 1987. Two hundred keys. Ring a bell?"
"Dr. Livingston, I presume? Yeah! It is you! Damn, bro, what happened? Last time I saw yo' skinny white ass it was in green khaki!"
"Things change. I remember you as a bit less gaudy and well-armed."
The black man grinned, tossing his weapon to one of his men and moving forward to drape a friendly arm around Darter's shoulder. "Come aboard, man. Yo, Ned Bland, bring da bitch."
Dee Dee tried to avoid the sailor's rough grasp, but failed to elude him. He was a hard-looking, pasty-white, blonde haired man with bulging biceps. Darter and the purple uniformed leader entered the submarine and there was nothing she could do but follow where Ned Bland led her.
The rest of the men entered the ship, the hatch was sealed, and pressure was pumped into the hull. Dee Dee's ears popped, and for a few moments she was disoriented. When she was next aware of her surroundings Bland had folded her into a tuck-and-rolled seat which hugged one wall of a fairly large compartment. At one end a polyphonic Korg synthesizer dominated one wall, at the other an arms rack sufficient to conduct civil war in a small Central American country. The opposite wall was floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with CDs of gangsta rap, rap, home musak and, she blushed, at least fifty VHS pornographic film cassettes. Through the compartment's entrance she saw another large area, but it was stacked with dozens of large plastic-wrapped bales which could only be, she guessed, marijuana!
Darter and the ship's leader were laughing over a couple of beers. Dan grinned at Dee Dee and said, "Ain't life full of coincidences? Hell, babe, this character and I go way back. Old Jackson and I--"
"I don't use dat name no mo'," he said. "They call me Captain No'mo now cause I ain't takin' no mo' crap from anybody. We kick ass and take names, bro, and makes a few bucks at the same time."
"All right, Captain No'mo. I'm using Dan Darter now, but you can call me MISTER Darter."
For some reason both men began laughing. Dee Dee could not stand it. She had been mistreated and kidnapped and ignored. "What's so funny?"
"That old Orcan Whales movie," Darter grinned.
Captain No'mo interrupted. "Dat's 'In the Heat of the Light'. You're thinking of that one with Martin Blandau and Ed Asmear."
"No, I'm not! That's Rod Stickler. Bet you're thinking of 'Tactile-sense of Evil'."
Captain No'mo frowned, then downed his beer and popped the top on another. "Maybe you're right. Well, it's not important enough to get bent out of shape. I know we had some good trades together, but give me one good reason why I don't waste yo' ass for findin' my hideout and gettin' an eyeball on the old Naughtyass."
"How about twenty million reasons?"
The black man doffed his hat and sat next to Dee Dee. "You interest me, my man. Rap on."
"I know where you can get your hands on pure pharmaceuticals."
Captain No'mo's hand, which had been exploring the tight-stretched nylon over cringing Dee Dee's shapely knee, suddenly paused. "Where?"
Darter smiled. It was not a pleasant smile. "Bozhart Pharmecuticals."
"Brace Bozhart," Captain No'mo's eyes glazed slightly. "That's one bastard I'd like to pop! Count me in, bro. Yo, Bland! Take the Naughtyass out...and take dis bitch to the brig. We got us some business to do!"
Ned Bland leered with hideous promise as he dragged the unwilling princess of bars though the corridors of the submarine Naughtyass. Each villianous crewman they passed pinched her fanny or made rude remarks or gestures, but the imposing figure of Bland kept them from doing more.
The brig was a small storage chamber with a heavy door which could be locked. Bland looked down the corridor in both directions, saw they were alone, grinned and rudely goosed her, then shoved Dee Dee into the locker. "Hope you last longer than the last bitch we had on board." And with that dire promise hanging in the air, the metal door clanged shut on virginal Dee Dee's prison.
The furious young woman stamped her foot. "Dan Darter, I will kill you one of these days!" She stamped her foot a second time, but was totally unprepared for the result: the submarine, which had been proceeding on even keel, violently heeled over. Dee Dee was thrown against the steel bulkhead with bruising force. Outside her prison she heard the shouts of men--terrified men. What could it mean?
CHAPTER 79: The Land of Delusions --Tangor
Mars Markus blinked.
Kojak Morris and Llana of Baseball held onto each other.
They stood in the large room where the thousands of miniature Brace Bozharts had attacked them. All around them where thousands of slimy puddles, each giving off a nauseating vapor.
"Damn, Mars, did you cut one?" Morris scowled, holding his nose. "What is that smell?"
Llana, who seemed unpreturbed, said, "I can't smell anything. Haven't been able to sniff since Lousie 'Lefty' Sneider broke my nose with a sneaky fast ball. What's that?" she cried, pointing to the catwalks above.
A man in dark clothing, tall and well-built, moved from one ventilator to the next, switching the blowers on. With each activation, the fumes became less and the trio became more clear-headed. Markus ran toward the man. "Hey! Who are you? What's happening?"
"Beware!" the voice floated down. "Beware!" then he was gone.
Llana blinked. "Be where? Where are we supposed to be?"
Though he loved her, Kojak Morris was continually surprised by the workings of Llana's mind. "That's wasn't what he meant, dear."
Markus ignored the two lovers. "I don't think Tangor or that crazy Canuck know where we're supposed to be. Come on, let's find a way out of here. It gives me the creeps!"
His companions were in full agreement. Rapidly, but taking care to avoid stepping into the puddles, the three raced across the vast hall toward one of several exits.
The fighting man of bars skidded to a halt. "I hate choosing doors. Llana, you pick one."
Meanwhile, as the flood waters continued to rise, Hillie Billman frantically called for his missing daughter and the Yellowjacket. Splay-Toe sat on the ledge weeping shamelessly, for he had truly loved his patron. Cilli Billman gathered her children about her.
"Hillie--we can't stay here," she said. "We'll drown."
The West Virginian Canuck sadly turned away from the swirling foam-flecked waters. He picked up his youngest, then picked up Splay-Toe by the scruff of the neck. "Snap out of it."
Ward Cleaver stopped sniffling. He was a fellow of weak character, unable to make decisions of his own. Billman, the peg-legged harpoonist was not afflicted by such indecision, so it was only natural that the Cantonese wannabe transferred his allegiance upon the powerfully built fellow. Billman's wife, however, continued to shield her remaining daughter from the shifty-eyed cook-butler-sidekick.
With one last sorrowing look into the flooded cavern, Billman began the long climb to the surface.
Bryce Lee-Bozhart stuggled against the enveloping grip of an over-excited teenager in the throes of hormones gone mad. At the same time, he was determined not to drown as the floodwaters whisked them away from the cavern's walls. Good fortune (or attention to detail given in the chapters written by my writer-advessary) placed near the Yellowjacket's hand a yellow paddleboat, upside down, but floating.
Milli clung to his back, legs locked tightly about his lean waist, her young body pressed tighly against his hard muscles, her arms about his neck (nearly choking him) as her lips pressed fevered kisses to his neck and cheek.
"Let up, kid, I can't breathe!" the Yellowjacket ordered.
Gripping one side of the half-submerged hulk, Bryce Lee leaned his weight on the pontoon and, combined with that of the amorous teen, the water park vessel flipped over. Climbing into the righted paddleboat, the nearly exhausted Lee flopped down into the water-filled boat. Milli, meanwhile, quickly moved from behind to press herself atop the prostrate crime-fighter, her small hands trying to hold his head still long enough to kiss him.
Bryce Lee, restraining himself (from popping her a swift one in the chops) forcefully, though gently, pushed the lust-maddened girl away. "We don't have time for this, Milli," he said, drawing free breath for the first time in many long minutes. "We have to bail the water out."
"I'd rather you make savage, passionate love to me!" cried the distraught girl.
"Maybe later." The Yellowjacket's sharp mind was again clear, and he used it to good effect. "It wouldn't be any fun in water up to our necks, would it? I'll give you a kiss as soon as we get the water out of the boat. How's that sound?"
Milli's response was a frantic splashing of water over the side. Bryce helped, it was his life, too, but the majority of the work was accomplished by the feverish teenager. Before long the paddle boat rode high in the water.
Bryce Lee turned to examine the paddle mechanism, which seemed fouled. When he removed a branch which had jammed the propulsion unit, he turned about and was shocked by what he saw.
Milli Billman had removed her dress to use as a mop to soak up the last water from the bilge. She knelt on the deck, young, rounded (more rounded than the dress had originally revealed...and very attractively rounded!) sopping up water then wringing it over the side. She repeated the action several times as the breathless Yellowjacket looked on.
"There!" Milli announced with satisfaction and anticipation. "Done! I want my kiss!" She advanced upon the nervous Yellowjacket clad in pink bikini panties and a well-filled pale blue bra.
Bryce Lee-Bozhart, betrayed by his promise and his honor to keep all promises, thought rapidly. Into his nimble brain came the answer, and with thought was action.
Before the statuesque teen the crime fighter knelt. Across his breast he clasped both hands and in a voice as dramatic as Larry Oliver in Drekspeares' Omlet he said, "Thy beauty is beyond belief, fair princess! O, my eyes have been blessed by the sight of thy wondrous form, the goodness of thine heart. I pledge my life to thine safety and honor, and vow that until we are rescued that thou's will is my will, that thou's virtue is sancrosant! My kiss, humble and pure, is for thy sweet hand, the hand that has toiled mightily toward our salvation!" So saying, Bryce Lee-Bozhart took the child's hand into his and pressed his lips against her wet flesh.
Startled, Milli's brow furrowed. Before she knew it her rumpled dress had been wrung by the man's strong hands, shook out, and draped over her body. At his insistence she sat with the tiller in hand. The tall man sat at her side, his boots ready at the pedals of the paddle boat.
"Steer well, my princess!" exclaimed the Yellowjacket. His feet began pedaling. A rooster-tail of excited water appeared at the rear of the yellow vessel. "Steer with thine eyes and thine heart while I provide the motive force! Between us we shall escape this terrible event!"
Milli pouted. This wasn't working out like she planned.
CHAPTER 80: Big Bertha --Tangor
Bertha La Ropa nearly strangled Rex the Wonder Rooster to keep her fowl pal silent. The grinding, crashing, whining of the ugly machine had nearly set Rex off with his famous cock-a-doodle-do, which usually sounded like "any-cock'l-do" but Bertha knew her rooster was not bent in that direction, so it must be faulty hearing on her part, probably as a result of a life long addiction to Ratnaz Specials and having been bonked on the head too many times by falling props in pulp artists' studios.
Whispering to herself and the fowl, which had turned blue because of the heavy hand clenched about its throat, Bertha La Ropa turned rhuemy eyes toward the scene unfolding inside the underground chamber. "What they up to, my precious? Think they have secrets? Bertha has secrets, they have lies and subtrefuge. Listen to that OB go on. Thinks himself a god, he does. Well, in my pocket I have it. They don't have it. Crazy old coot! Who's that namby-pamby? Looks handsome fishing that olive. I could show him a thing or two but not my secret. Nosiree! Bertha La Ropa keeps her secrets, she does!"
Peering out of the deep shadows of the tunnel made by the Pellucifar Burrower, Bertha La Ropa fell silent, listening to all that transpired within.
Unknown to her or the inhabitants of Rathmind's hideaway another watched with cool eyes. The brain behind that gaze was brilliant and agile. Calculations were produced with startling rapidity and the faces and words were indelibly etched within that gigantic intellect. The listener watched with rapt attention until Edgar Nyce began repeating himself, as he had done through dozens of books; the same themes over and over, never varying, constantly resurfacing. When it was apparent nothing new was to be said, the watcher in the shadows withdrew.
Bertha La Ropa also withdrew, but for a different reason. The Ratnaz Specials consumed at breakfast were making themselves felt as an unpleasant pressure in her bladder. "Damn! Damn! Damn!" she muttered, backing away. "What a time to need to go!"
Still under the intoxicating effects of the too-strong Ratnaz Specials Bertha inadvertantly missed her turning. Into a crack in the tunnel wall, probably a result of the recent earthquakes, Bertha La Ropa entered. The path was downward but in her alcoholic daze the direction did not make an impression. Her whole being was concentrated on not thinking about the thing most pressing in her life, and pressing indeed was her need.
She became conscious of a dripping sound like that of the leaky faucet in her kitchen at home. It was an annoying sound, a sound that only made her present condition more unbearable. It was difficult to walk with knees clenched, nor did the gasping, gagging sounds of Rex the Wonder Rooster help. Bertha released her stranglehold on the poor foul-feathered friend and winched when the bird clamped angry talons into her shoulder.
"Drip, drip, drip!" Bertha cursed. "Drip, drip, drip! It's enough to make a person insane. How far to go, precious? How far to our porcelin bowl, our relief, our private retreat? How can one think with that drip, drip, drip!"
The tenor of that drip became more ominious in tone. It splashed. It spattered. It grew in volume. Desperate indeed was Bertha La Ropa, deep in the underground world where wet and damp and fluids and seepage and sewers and watertables all contrived to increase her misery. "Oh! Please make it quit!" she wailed. Her voice echoed throughout the tunnel and seemed to reply to her with a low rumbling sound.
"Now I hear creeks and streams and brooks and rivers and estuaries in full tide, I hear currents and flows and falls and flues and liquids rushing headlong. I can't hold it, precious. It is now or wet panties!"
Big Bertha hiked up her costume, dropped her drawers and squatted in the darkness. She crinkled her eyes with concentration and sighed as she released. She felt a flood of fluids slam into her ankles. "Ahh!" Bertha sighed. Then almost immediately shrieked as the flood roaring down the subterranean tunnel spanked her bare-bottom, rolled over her waist, and carried her head over heels down into the darkness!
Elsewhere, Tangor interviewed prospective spoofs in his dark and cramped office. The glare of the huge computer monitor shed a pale light upon those who entered.
"Next!" A fat man and a skinny sidekick entered. One looked like a bus driver, the other like an out of work bum. "You are?" Tangor's gravelly voice inquired.
"Gleason and Carney."
"What's your gag?"
"Honeymooners. You see," the fat man began, "we thought you might be interested in having Ratnaz and Bertie end up as dinner guests on our set. Alice and I have an argument as usual, but only this time, Ratz would really 'pow!' and send Alice to the moon."
"Yeah," Carney grinned. "And I could make a pass at Bertie and get knocked on my ass. What I wouldn't give to get smacked for smoochin' her!"
"Too droll," Tangor said and pressed a key on his multi-tiered keyboard. The floor opened and Gleason and Carney dropped out of sight.
Leisurely lighting a cigarette, Tangor wadded up the top resume and called out, "Next!"
A red-head, not too bad looking, and a Cuban carrying a conga entered. Before either had a chance to speak, the button was pressed. Tangor leaned over his desk and called as they disappeared: "We already have a red head."
Nervously, the next person entered. "My name is Jose Jimenez. I am an astronaut."
The imperious finger depressed the fatal key. "You are a naught, zero, zip. Next!"
A masked man on a white horse and an indian on a pinto rode in. Tangor's finger hovered over the key. "Tell me why I ought to consider you? That Canadian has already written in more cowboys than we need."
The indian spoke. "How about 'The Lonesome Stranger'? Lots of gag potential there!"
Tangor considered it for a moment. "Nah!" and pressed the button. "Next!"
Tangor's wife stuck her head inside. "Dinner's almost ready. Are you done pulling the Canadian's leg yet?"
"Just a few more minutes, honey. Who's left out there?"
"Seahunt, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Flipper, and Little Lulu."
Tangor's eyes lit up. "Kewl! Send Lulu in. Tell the rest to come back tomorrow. Oh, and dear," he softly added with a sly wink as Lulu demurely entered the master author's inner sanctum, "I don't want to be disturbed for a while."
Tangor's wife looked the black-haired two-dimensional female up one side and down the other with a critical eye. "You're such a pervert, sweetheart. I'll put your dinner in the oven. Don't hurt yourself," she admonished as she closed the door.
Little Lulu gulped as the leering Tangor approached her.
CHAPTER 81: Dim Son and Big Moons --Bill Hillman
Ratnaz pulled back from Tangor’s monitor to share his frustration with Bertie. More and more, his life was being manipulated by this hack writer of pulp parodies. In desperation he poked his head back through the computer screen and was relieved to see that the monitor had changed from a boring monochrome to a glorious widescreen, multicoloured display. He was also relieved to see that the author pounding the keys on the other side of this new, improved display was now the Texan’s rival - the much more sympathetic, and vastly more talented Canadian literary giant. And...a man infinitely more in tune with the apeman’s natural cravings.
“Jeeze...thatz uh releef...yuz back...pleeez boss...uh...uh...ay...ay...PLEEZ?” Encouraged by the Canuck’s crooked half smile, the love-starved Lord of the Leaves pulled back from the dimension beyond and turned to the object of his affections.
Bertie repeated her plea from behind a bamboo dressing screen in the corner of the goat cabin: “We do have to find a way to get you out of those briefs and into mine, Ratz!"
The woman’s hand appeared over the top of the screen and fetchingly dropped a pair of embroidered silk panties. A soft cooing voice accompanied the undergarment on its fluttering fall to the floor: “It’s your turn, Ratz honey. I love it when you wear silk.”
With a few deft moves the excited Ratnaz exchanged his improvised leopard skin loin cloth for Bertie’s garment which turned out to be little more than a g-string.
“Jeeze Tootz...I’z gotta fine me some pantz,” he stammered as he cowered knock-kneed with trembling hands covering exposed buttocks. It started to dawn on his passion-addled brain that perhaps his favourite Canadian writer wasn’t doing him any favours after all.
“Ratz honey, why are you so shy about your bottom?” Bertie pleaded as she watched her jungle lord back away in a classic Jerry Lewis splay-footed plod. The wretched soul’s ignominious retreat met an unforeseen end however, when he toppled over an ancient steamer trunk -- falling in a heap among its spilling contents. Instinctively he landed on all fours with his buttocks exposed to Bertie’s astonished gaze.
“Ratz! I had no idea. Why didn’t you tell me?”
But Ratnaz was suddenly oblivious to all entreaties -- he was lost in a flood of memories mustered by the jumble of clothes, books, toys and documents strewn about him.
“That Edgar Nyce! He thinkz of everythin’. It’z Mommy and Daddy’z ole trunk. He muzta brought it over from Africa with the bananaz and all that ztuff. He’z a ztickler fer detail, ain’t he. Look! It’z my ole baby zhoez...an’ my pet rock...an’ my whoopie cuzhion...an’ my Red Ryder pop gun...an my....”
Meanwhile Bertie uprighted the trunk revealing the “FullWada Air Charters Co.” sticker fastened across the lid. Curiosity led her to explore the pile of books and documents remaining in the bottom of the trunk. She was fascinated by a weathered volume which displayed a crest featuring two crossed tulips, a bag of golf clubs, a lightning bolt and a flag bearing the number “22”. A quick look at the last entry on a blood-stained page in what must have been a diary was a revelation: “My little son Sean Jr. is crying for goat milk...I can’t find a stool low enough...O Allie, Allie, what shall I do? Why? why? ... I must let the world know that the one responsible for our disasters is...” The ink marks trailed off the smudged page.
Bertie’s search led her to a Scottish passport made out to Sean McClayton, Lord Greatstrokes. The name meant nothing to her but the photo brought forth an involuntary gasp: “Ratz! It’s you... with a mustache! Do you ever look silly.” She stifled her chortle and continued her investigation. The description of identifying birthmarks on the document was just as intriguing: “Possesses the Greatstrokes family hereditary birthmark: Large red marks in the shape of two lips on the right buttock.”
“Ratz! That’s just like the mark you were trying to hide!You are a Greatstroker. You are the rightful heir to the Greatstrokes titles, estates and fortunes!”
Her outburst fell on deaf ears as Ratnaz had fallen into a comatose state -- his terrified eyes riveted on the ominous shaggy figure that had appeared in the window of the goat hut.
CHAPTER 82: Death Valley Daze --
From Sand to Shining Sea --Bill Hillman
Herlock Cabyns turned off his Walkman and ejected the Mega Speed Reading instruction cassette that had guided him as he had read through Zany’s lengthy manuscript. He then turned the manuscript over to a slightly impatient Datsun who promptly plopped it onto a stump, and eagerly pored over the tattered pages. Grasping his magnifying glass firmly in this left hand and using his right forefinger to expertly trace Zany’s chicken scratches, he resolutely mouthed the syllables:
“I... was...n’t...al...low...ed...to...be...moan... my... us...u...al... staaaaate.....”
With the good doctor mumbling in the background, Cabyns turned again to Zany Grany: “I say, my good man. I feel introductions are in order. My name is Cabyns, world renowned investigator and criminologist. The gentleman so engrossed in your story over there is my assistant Dr. Datsun. Now, to whom do we owe the pleasure of this hospitality.
“Grany, Zany Grany is mu name, writin’s mu game.”
The old galoot then reached back into his saddle bags and pulled forth another ragged manuscript, hand-scrawled on a pile of Chicago Pencil Sharpener Co. stationery.
“Har ya be yung feller...gotta ‘nuther...got this idee from some furriner who come down from way up in Canadee...wears one o’ them sissy Scotch dresses. Hard worker tho.... helped me work a claim a while back.”
Before turning to Zany’s second epic, Cabyns leaned back against a stump and took time to meditate and to try to assess which of the events of the last few hours had been real and which had been hallucinations brought on by Billman’s damnable drugged drinks. The three men and the grazing burros appeared to be in a deep mountain-fringed valley on the banks of a stream which fed into a vast lake or inland sea in the distance.
“What sea is this Mr. Zany?”
“By golly, ya got me. Warn’t thar when I started writin’. Must be that thar Salton Sea every body’s always yakkin’ ‘bout. Fer as I know we’re in good ole Death Valley -- should be Tappan Range out thar... shure lookin’ wet fer this time a year tho. By crackie, don’t that beat all.
Cabyns popped another soothing Pez, reinserted his speed reading instructional tape, and settled in for his second long read of the day:
COURSE OF CHAOS by Crafter (William Ja-On Campbell Hillman)
-- Zany Grany pseudonym
Cabyn’s eyes drifted up from the pages of the manuscript. Even his colossal powers of concentration could not hold up to the excited shouts and arm tugging from the wavy-haired old story teller.
“Looka there gents ...by jingo... look out there maties... ain’t she a beaut...”
“Damn it man...now I’ve lost my place,” cursed a frustrated and uncharacteristically peevish Datsun. Now I’ve got to start over: “I... was...n’t...al...low...ed...to...be...moan... my... us...u...al... staaaaate.....”
His train of thought also broken, the master sleuth succumbed to Zany’s excited pleadings and peered seaward.
Just off shore drifted the most unusual houseboat any of them had ever seen. The lower deck was lined with scantily dressed young ladies while the upper deck seemed to be reserved for two joggers - a man and a woman - who appeared to be in the middle of a strenuous workout. Attached to the craft was a large scarlet buoyancy tank - in the shape of a giant rooster!
Cabyns rubbed his eyes and reached again for his powered Pez dispenser. The old hallucinations were coming back. Painted across the bow of the odd-shaped craft were the words: “Chicken Ranch Vacation House” -- and it was floating out to sea.
CHAPTER 83: Something Wicked This Way Comes... ...They’re Here! --Bill Hillman
In the secret underground lab below Ratnaza Ranch, the scene around the Pellucifer Burrower had taken on a near carnival atmosphere. The Ratnaz specials flowed freely and Edgar Nyce was basking in his regained authority over his dominions.
“We’re with ya Ed baby.”
“Yeh, ole Boz the Bozo don’t know nothin’...he’s toast man.”
“Anybody see that creep Tang-Gor around lately?”
“Hey, you guys smell fried chicken?”
“Pass the gherkins, Rathy.”
“Got any more Specials, Rathy?”
“Where’s big Bertha...don’t she know it’s party time.”
“Turn on the box Rathy... Gotta get some music in here...Gotta boogie.”
“But I get to lead!”
“Turn it up Rathy.”
“Ah damn...it’s that bloody blow hard Orcan Whales.”
“Can’t ya tune in that Canadian dude Peter Lemmings?”
“Silence!” Ed commanded. “Let’s hear what he has to say.”
“...and so much for the weather, urban fire, and earthquake reports. We now take you to the Purple Stage room in Farris’ Big Wheel Club -- the only surviving club in downtown LA. Our show featuring the hippest of the hip -- down and dirty blues tunes sung by your favourite Blues Buoys: Big Bill and Big Bruce -- is in progress:
‘How much is that doggie in the window...Arf!...Arf!...the one with the waggely tail...’”
“Ladies and gentlemen. We interrupt our program of hurtin’ songs in three quarter time, to report that Professor Perry of Mt. Polomar Observatory has observed several explosions on the planet Mars over the last few days. He stresses that there is no cause for alarm and he insists that there can be absolutely no connection between these explosions and the meteorological and geological disasters we have experienced lately. We now take you back to our regularly scheduled program from the Big Wheel Club.”
Edgar Nyce rose from his lab stool and flung his empty glass at the radio. “What a load of crap. Turn that thing off Rathmind. Come on guys. We got work to do. Climb into the Burrower. Fire up the engines Nappie. I’ve got a plan.”
CHAPTER 84: Invasion of the Led Zeppelins
(aka Panic at Stutter’s Mill) --Bill Hillman
Jane Porker raced her yellow ‘66 Camaro down Ventura Boulevard hoping to get to Farris’ Big Wheel Club before the Blues Buoys and their incredible back-up band, the Waltz Kings, finished their morning performance.
“Oh damn. They’re already on the air,” she cursed -- angry with herself for forgetting to tune in her favourite show.
“How much is that doggie in the window...Arf! Arf!...I do hope that doggie’s for sale.”
“Whew! Those guys sing with soul...they sing from the heart...they musta lived to be able to sing like that,” she muttered admiringly, while tapping out the funky 3/4 beat on the steering wheel of her vintage Camaro.
“I must take a trip to California....[and uh...mmm...ah...mmm...a...good place for a solo Lawrence...take it away cat...pick that accordion, man]”
“Ladies and Gentlemen. We interrupt our program with the latest bulletin from the ERBS news wire. A large cluster of flaming meteorite-like objects falling from the sky are reported to have landed near Stutter’s Mill. Despite assurances from the Air Force that the objects are only weather balloons, our remote unit is on its way to provide live coverage of the phenomenon. We return you now to our Blues Buoys concert.”
“[ah...mmm a ...yeh that’s it...thanks Big Bruce]...and leave my poor sweetheart alone...If she has a doggie to protect her...”
“We take you now to Stutter’s Mill where our ERBS remote reporter is standing by:”
“This is Wolfen Blitzen. I have just joined a large crowd gathered around a smoking crater at Maple Grove Farm just outside of Stutter’s Mill. The crater appears to have been made by what can only be described as a lead weather balloon. The spectators are pressing in closer, obstructing my view. ...Wait...you...sir...could we ask you a few questions? What is your name sir?”
“Tttttterrible...It was ttttttterrible!...Ttttttterrible...She didn’t have a chance...uh....my what?...oh...it’s Ziffel...yup...Oliver Wendell Ziffel...It’s tttttterrible... the dadburned thing landed right on her... Porkie...my prize pig...she didn’t have a chance....tttttterrible...”
“Thank you Mr. Ziffel...Now...Oh...Can you hear that?....a curious humming sound...the top of the meteor thing is turning...it’s opening!....stand back everyone...back!....”
“Due to circumstances beyond our control we are unable to continue our broadcast from Stutter’s Mill.”
“We have report just in from the Air Force. They inform us that fleets of weather balloons have been tracked all over southern California. Colonel Snipes assures us that there is no reason to panic as these unusually large numbers are in direct response to the extraordinary weather disturbances we have experienced lately.
“What’s that?.........I have just received a cell phone report from the only survivor at the crater by Stutter’s Mill. At least 40 bodies...and a pig...have been burned beyond recognition by a heat ray projected from the meteorite. And clouds of spore-like material have been blown into the air from the object in the crater.”
“What a load of bull. That Orcan Whales is up to his old tricks again. Some people will believe anything. Come on...let’s bring back those Blues Buoys.” Jane Porker continued her race along Ventura -- unmindful of the sky full of weather balloons above her.
CHAPTER 85: Big Bill & Big Bruce - The Blues Buoys with the Incredible Waltz Kings - Live at Ferris’ Big Wheel Club Performing Their Hit: “You’re Tuvane... you probably think this song is about you.”
Jane Porker-Bozhart struggled to break away from the annoying dream she was experiencing... her awakening consciousness and senses were being bombarded by the sound of a wailing and barking dog, an incessant barbaric shaking, and a pungent, cloying -- almost nauseating odour, that she later identified as Big Stud Toilet Water. Gradually her returning faculties identified the sounds as coming from her car radio. The source of the shaking and odour was a tawny-haired person in heavy make-up which failed to hide a two-day-old stubble. A deep bass voice, totally out of character with the person’s female attire, rose above the din coming from the custom Mega stereo system of the Camaro.
“Madame!...Please wake up madame!...Thank heavens you’re OK... You went off the road.... Don’t you recognize me...It’s me!.... Tuvane Tuyak from the Vacation House!”
“All right, all right...give me a moment!” pleaded the still-confused Jane Porker as she gingerly dabbed at the small gash and rising bump on her forehead. The caterwauling from the car speakers continued unabated:
“Arf! Arf!... I do hope that doggie’s for sale...[That’s it Big Bill...get down...]...Arf! Arf!”
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we interrupt this program of funky waltz tunes by the Blues Buoys and the Incredible Waltz Kings to bring you a report from our man in the field.
“Orcan?...Orcan Whales?...Are you there?”
“Yes... Am I on... I’m standing at the edge of the La Gaspack Tar Pits where locals have reported the landing and sinking of a large lead weather balloon. Nothing appears to remain of the craft which has obviously sunk to the bottom of the pit. We do, however, have an eyewitness to the event -- a Mr. Hitchcock. Sir, what exactly did you see?”
“Well, I was just coming back from the supermarket on Master Bryce’s Harley... we have house guests you know... Can that fellow ever eat... I don’t know what Bryce is going to say when he sees the grocery bill... and his Harley... how am I going to explain that mess... I just took it down the street... Jeez, he coulda left me some car keys... but no...he’s got ta.....”
“Please Mr. Hitchcock... calm yourself... what exactly did you see?”
“Well, I was just coming back from ... uh?... ok?... well I heard this big whooshing noise... and then it just fell outa the sky... dang thing hit my shopping cart... you see I have this chain and I just tie it around the fender of the motor sickle and... uh? ...ok?... well it spilled all the groceries and knocked some crazy security guard into the tar pits... then the whole shootin’ match -- it even dragged in the Harley! -- plopped into the guck and just sunk outa sight. Dangdest thing tho... just after it sunk down, up bobs some of the ugliest fellows I’ve ever seen -- real gheekie guys. Right over there...out in the middle. Just saw their heads, mind you... looked like big pumpkins... and then they was gone.”
“Thank you Mr. Hitchcock...it’s back to you Peter Lemmings.”
“Thanks Orcan...we now take you to a live feed of a press conference with Air Force spokesman, Colonel Snipes...”
“We know now that in the latter years of the Twentieth Century, this third rock from the sun was being watched by some pretty smart aliens. These guys are bad news.
Citizens of the nation, we have a national emergency. An alien invasion of our mighty, glorious, upright, virtuous, noble, pure and beloved country is underway. We are calling up the National Guard and all military personnel have been put on red alert. We request all red-blooded Americans who wish to volunteer, to report to the nearest weather bureau. We must unite and drive this menace from our shores.
I must stress that we are not dealing with UFOs here...These are IDENTIFIED Flying Objects...they are WEATHER BALLOONS!
In the annals of our military there has been only one man who has successfully shot down a weather balloon. Citizens, that man is former American military aviator Dan Darter! We are sending out an urgent nation-wide appeal to anyone who knows of this gallant man’s whereabouts to contact the weather bureau headquarters. This frightful invasion must be stopped! Just remember... Tomorrow is Halloween! If we fail in our mission we’re going to have some pretty disappointed kids on our hands tomorrow night. Think about it!”
“Hogwash. How do they expect anyone to believe such far-fetched hooey. That Orcan Whales is not fooling anyone. Hey! Help me up... Turn off that silly radio!... Now then ... what are you doing out here in the middle of nowhere? How about helping me get my car back on the road!” Jane turned for a response but was surprised to see that the skinny figure in the green sequined dress had left the car and was sitting spread-legged and glassy-eyed by the roadside, using a heavily padded bra to scoop up and mold gravel into two butte-like piles.
“I gotta get there...you gotta take me... gotta get to Butt Buttes... gotta find Hangar 22... gotta get there... gotta stop the autopsy... gotta get to Lt. Rykor before it’s too late...”
In her shaken state, Jane Porker failed to notice the mass of plummeting weather balloons descending into the mountains to the east.
Meanwhile, not far away, Pancho Lane -- Bryce Lee’s gootchie, gootchie girl -- sat in the passenger seat of a yellow ‘66 Camaro -- wondering just how much she should reveal to the comely driver. After all, the woman had thought she was doing the right thing by thwarting Nick Miser’s lecherous plans -- how could she have known that she had ruined everything.
CHAPTER 86: Das Boobs --Bill Hillman
Fearless Hilary Billman led wife Cilli and their three surviving children ever upward in search of safety. Behind them trailed a dejected Splay-Toe -- mourning the tragic loss of his heroic, crime-fighting partner -- Yellow Jacket.
“What am I gonna do?” he lamented. “There ain’t no market for side kicks no more.”
Yes, sidekicks were a lost breed: Chop Chop, Gabby, Smiley, Pat, Tonto, Poncho, Kato, Little Beaver, Artemus, AlGor, Ed McMann...and a thousand more... gone...all gone.
“Jeeze! Why doncha watch where you’re goin’?” Hilary grabbed the hapless Chinese wanna-be just as he was about to plunge downward into a sinkhole which blocked their way and which connected to a tunnel far below.
“Quiet! Listen! What’s that noise?” Suddenly the tunnel below was flooded by a surging wall of water...and riding the crest of this giant wave was a bottomless, overly-chubby and buxom surf girl balanced on a red rooster-shaped surfboard.
“Yikes. Gettin’ kinda crowded down here,” Splay-Toe observed as the surfer was washed down the tunnel and the waters eventually subsided.
“Come. We have no time to waste. We are going back. I sense that Milli is still alive...and she needs me. Follow me,” ordered Billman as he again took command and led the party back down into the depths whence they had come.
At that very moment, the eldest daughter of the Billman family was adrift in a paddle boat, staring expectantly at Yellow Jacket who appeared to have had a change of heart. The yellow-caped crusader had removed his flowing cape and was slipping out of his stylish zoot suit jacket. Her hopes where raised even higher when her hero fumbled with his massive and multi-pocketed utility belt.
Alas, it was not to be. Milli’s hopes for a romantic interlude were dashed when the object of her desires selected a number of items from the belt’s pouches and turned his back upon her.
“Aha!...That should do it,” uttered the crafty crimefighter in a low voice.
When he turned around a few minutes later, it was with fishing rod in hand -- complete with line, hook and bait. “I sense that you must be famished, my lady. If there is anything alive in this strange sea, I shall capture it for you Princess.” With that, he cast the line and proceeded to overwhelm his youthful charge with his fly casting prowess. Fate was not bounteous on this day however, and he was about to admit defeat when a mighty pull on the line almost pulled him out of the boat.
“Lend a hand my lady...it’s a big one!” shouted the struggling masked angler.
Within seconds they were being towed across the waters at a frightening speed. They were at the mercy of a giant fish just visible below the surface - all that was visible above the surface was the creature’s strange pole-like fin which created a clearly visible wake on the otherwise placid waters.
“Y.J....it’s daddy’s whale! He was right! He’s not crazy after all! Catch it! Quick! Get it for daddy!”
The ever-resourceful crime fighter tied the line to one of the boat’s footpedals and rummaged again in his Buzz Belt -- this time producing a retractable harpoon gun and an assortment of Buzz Bombs and Buzz Depth Charges. The launch of the BuzzPoon disabled the above-surface fin and this was followed by unerring tosses of the Buzz Bombs which rocked the marine creature and appeared to draw blood -- a black gooey glob that floated on the surface.
The creature slowed and came to a halt, after which, it let out a series of terrifying “AAA00000GAHHH” screams, and plunged downward into the sanctity of its marine abode. The masked adventurer barely had time to release the line secured to their paddle boat before it was torn from his hands and disappeared into the murky depths below.
“It’s getting away YT...O please catch it....For daddy...Ahhh I miss my daddy...Take me home -- please?...”
Yellow Jacket looked at the pleading young girl who suddenly appeared very young and helpless, but before he could reach for the deadly percussive depth charges now rolling in the bottom of their yellow craft, the girl had taken possession of them. Like one possessed, and without thinking of the consequences, she tossed the explosive devices to the area she had last seen the crippled monster. The consequent explosions brought forth no giant whale, but a short time later a curious array of flotsam started to bob to the surface -- all of the items appearing to be man-made in origin. The significance of this incongruity was lost on the girl.
“O we must tell Daddy... He can rest easy now... The great white whale is dead... I have killed it. Now I understand. I want to go home now. I want my daddy.”
Feeling drained and totally exhausted by the day’s events, Yellow Jacket turned the boat in the direction of the nearest stretch of solid ground -- a large jungle-covered island.
CHAPTER 87: Watership Down --Bill Hillman
“Ah come on No’mo,” pleaded an excited Dan Darter. “Let me try on the top hat and look through the periscope thingee.”
“No way man...a top hat for a top man...but come on...get your white ass over here,” conceded the flamboyant Captain of the Naughtyass sub. “I’ll let ya look for Nazi U-boats just like in that Orcan Whales and Ray Razzberry science fiction movie: ‘Moby’s Dick.’”
“Nah...ya got it all wrong Jackso...ah...No’mo. You’re thinkin’ of that ‘Catch-22’ flick that ole Orcan did...that one where the Jap sub attacked California and they blew up that big old mansion with the rosebuds...and...ah... how do I look through this thing? All right, all right, I got it...Wow...Look at that...some dude in a faggy yellow suit... ah No’mo?... This don’t look good. Holy shit man... it’s coming right a us! Duck!”
As Darter moved back from the periscope, a clanging noise reverberated through the sub and the viewing instrument swung around wildly, knocking the surprised man to the deck. Before he could regain his feet the ship was shaken by a series of explosions.
“Dive!...Dive!” shouted No’mo as he sounded the alarm. “Execute evasive maneuvers! It must be the Coast Guard. Prepare for depth charges. Gotta get rid of the evidence. Load the dope into the torpedo tubes. Prepare to fire all tubes.”
The next series of explosions from the depth charges caught Darter off guard and all turned black as he was thrown violently against a bulkhead.
Meanwhile, Dee Dee Morris, Princess of Bars, fought to keep her head above the water that was rushing into the sub’s steel storage chamber where she found herself a helpless prisoner. She knew that only the nimble fingers of Tangor could write her out of this hopeless situation where she was about to meet her doom.Was he up to it? Could he rise to the challenge? Did he have time? Why had the Canuck failed her? Why, why, why Delilah? Had she paid the water bill? Where in heck had she left her car keys? Did Tangor still remember the Alamo? Her inquiring mind had to know.
CHAPTER 88: The Return of the Living Dead
Some distance away, another damsel in distress was struggling with her own set of problems. She hated it when she was forced into making decisions. Damn that Markus... and that crazy Texan. Nevertheless, Llana of Baseball surveyed the numerous exit doors which lay before her and chose the one which showed the most signs of wear. She led her two male companions through the portal into the great beyond behind the door. They soon found themselves in a cluttered and crowded living room done up in a western motif. The room was filled with people in various states of repose and aggravation.
“You here to see Tangor? You’ll have to get in line like the rest of us,” ordered a gruff voice from the far side of the room.
Kojak Morris searched out the least hostile face in the room and asked: “Where are we? What manner of place is this?”
“You don’t know? This is Tangor’s house,” came the reply. “We gave up trying to see him at the office... kept ducking out on us to play with that infernal computer machine of his. We’re the Living Dead! That nut has killed off everyone in this room ...present company excluded I assume... but you may be next! Watch your step. Beware!
“We’ve got nowhere to go. We gotta have a job. We gotta get a life. Heard he’s about to write a new story and we’re gonna keep showing up here until he puts us back to work. Why, even now he’s in the back room interviewing greenhorns for his notorious writing projects. I tell ya, you can’t trust the guy. Without warning he will kill you off with a few clever keystrokes. We ain’t gonna budge...are we gang!?!”
The crowded room shook from the response from the Living Dead as they vented outrage over their predicament by setting up a rhythmic chant: “Tan Gor, we’re sore -- We ain’t gonna take no more!”
Meanwhile, in the back room, Tangor reached over to his stereo system and turned up the latest Blues Buoys release in an attempt to drown out the uproar in the next room. He then leaned over his desk to resume the conversation with a young lady who was probably much older than she looked.
“Now, where were we, Miss Lulu?” he asked in a voice approaching shout volume. “Ah yes, and have you ever read any of the Edgar Nyce Mars stories? You would be a natural you know. Why, with new wardrobe, make-up, voice, caps, hair-do, silicone injections... and with a few acting lessons and a little dieting we could...”
Tangor’s audition with the girl went on for many hours... much to Mrs. Tangor’s dismay.
Elsewhere, Llana and her two male friends made a hasty retreat from the Tangor residence and retraced their steps back to the cavern where they were soon trying their luck at a different exit door.
CHAPTER 89: The Jeddak of The North --Tangor
There was a knock at the door. The large fellow bent over a new computer keyboard shouted, "Can you get that, dear?"
He paid no further attention, continuing to pound keys (his most favorite key was the period which he used quite frequently), totally engrossed in his bizarre thought process. Clickety, Clickety, Clickety, clack! Clackety, Clackety, Clackety, click! The small room resounded with the force of his blows, delivered with a grim writing smile etched upon his craggy face. At his side was a trusty rodent, a product co-manufactured by the Mickysoft and the Randy Rodent companies. The buttons on the rodent were shaped like the nether extremity of the Lord of the Leaves, left buttock to execute, right buttock to bring up a context-sensitive menu.
Occasional snorts and small guffaws accompanied the Warlord of Words' furious rate---never mind that he was easily amused-- it was a grim and earnest occupation for this man. Constantly muttering under his breath one might almost hear "I've got ya now!" or "Oh ho! That's a good one! Try to top that, you silly Texican!"
The Jeddak of the North gradually noticed a strange silence in the house. He did not hear his children, the princes and princesses of his frozen realm banging about with their usual youthful exuberance, nor did he hear his princess, the love of his life, puttering in her world famous kitchen. The hot keyboard quickly cooled as the Jeddak ceased his obsessive behavior. Hands poised above the keytops, his noble head turned to one side to listen intently.
Something was amiss!
Taking up the wine bottle near at hand (the empty one), the mighty warrior of the Canadian wilderness held it as a weapon. He moved cautiously from his computer into the main house. Still no sound of life.
Wait! What was that? The tiny sound was repeated again. It came from the kitchen!
Clutching his makeshift weapon and occasional source for story inspiration in one large hand, the Jeddak tiptoed toward the kitchen. Holding the bottle on high, he rushed into the room, prepared to do battle.
His wife, pouring tea into dainty cups, looked up. "Need a refill, honey?"
The Jeddak grinned sheepishly and lowered the bottle. There were three men in the room, each holding a tea cup in large hands that seemed as if they had never held such delicate things before. One wore a narrow-brimmed hat, the other wore a narrow-brimmed hat and a ratty trench coat, the third wore a narrow-brimmed hat, too.
"Sorry, didn't know we had company," the Jeddak said.
"These nice fellows are up from America," the wife replied. "They said you were expecting them."
The Jeddak, always wishing to appear in complete control in front of his family said, "Of course. Business. Have you all been served? Good. Thank you, dear." To the men he said, "Let us retire to my office."
As soon as the door was shut, the Canadian faced the three grim-visaged men and asked, "Who the hell are you? What are you doing in my house?"
"Your wife let us in," the tallest said.
"You've been a naughty boy," the second tallest said.
"And we're here to set you straight," the shortest said--only he wasn't all that short!
The Jeddak of the North scowled. "You'll have to state your business more clearly than that."
"You've made some threats, son. We're here to find out if you're a Dangerous Dan or just a kookie Canuck Crackpot."
"What? I haven't threatened anyone! Me? Nah, gentle as a pussy cat. Nice fellow. Salt of the earth and all that."
"Yea? What about this?"
Subject: Re: Unearthly quiet Date: Sat, 3 Jan 98 21:40:17 +0000 From: Bill & Sue-On Hillman To: email@example.com
>This strange silence from the cold north bodes ill >for author Tangor. Either that or that silly West >Virginia doesn't have a leg to stand on. >>Hope you had a nice new year! >TANGOR
You have good reason to tremble on your slurping feelers and chomping chelae O alien Tang-Gor. America is about to face an invasion like one never experienced.
A flotilla of ominous, odious chapters is about to be launched into Texas Cyberspace... you will not... repeat... will not... be able to survive this invasion...hope you had a nice new year... your last!
"There's many more like that," the man in the trench coat said, taking back the printout from the Jeddak's trembling hands. "This doesn't sound like 'salt of the earth' to us, boy."
The Jeddak turned pale, eyes shifting nervously from side to side. "Look, uh, well, uh--who are you guys? What's your stake in this?"
"You should know," the man with the narrow-brimmed hat and mustache said.
The Jeddak sat down, a little concerned by the rough demeanor of the men surrounding him. "I'm sorry," he said. "I haven't got a clue!"
One man looked at the other and winked. "That's exactly what Nyce said."
"Nyce? You know Edgar Nyce?"
A curt nod came in response. "We also know the fellow you sent this email to. Now there's a fellow who is really salt of the earth."
The Jeddak cringed. "Who are you guys?"
"Can he really be that slow?" the short man asked. Leaning close, his beak only inches from the Jeddak's, the man growled. "I'm Cam Spaid. He's Dickie Spillway and that's Ike Slammer."
"B-b-but you're dead! Tangor killed you in a California bank vault!"
"Listen, son, if you're going to be a hack writer you better learn a few tricks of the trade. Nobody stays dead in pulp fiction."
"You were ash and cinders! You were little more than embers! I remember! December!"
"It was November. Haven't you ever heard of special effects? Ratnaz had to believe we were dead. Bertie had to believe we were dead. You were tricked into believing we were dead. The reader was bamboozled into believing we were dead. But we ain't, see?"
"I see that!" the Jeddak said, not seeing a thing at all. "Okay, you're alive. Why are you here?"
"Simply put," Slammer grinned, "to make sure you're as harmless as we think you are. If you aren't, we'll be back."
Spillway clapped a heavy hand on the Jeddak's shoulder. "And if we come back, we'll work over your fingers a little while--with a pair of pliers and a hammer. Got it?"
"Well?" Cam Spaid barked? "Do you?"
"Yes! Yup! Right on! You bet! Without a doubt! Certainly!..."
The Jeddak of the North was still babbling as the three men silently let themselves out. A few long moments passed as the Canadian struggled to still the pounding of his heart, then, with near desperation lending great impetus, he turned to his computer, killed the story on the screen, and fired up his Internet connection. Opening his email program he began typing...
You old son-of-a-gun! How are you doing? I hope my little joke was appreciated. You know I think you're the salt of the earth...
CHAPTER 90: Malice In Underland;
Wherein A Knowledge of Music History Is Essential
Milli Billman had been startled by the huge creature hooked by the Yellowjacket's fishing rig. Some of her father's madness had possessed her, which led to the use of the crimefighter's horrible weapons. Suffering a Communication Breakdown, she was Dazed and Confused as she looked toward the Black Mountain Side of the jungle island with A Whole Lotta Love. The Ocean seemed filled with Moby Dick debris and it was a real Heartbreaker to Bring It On Home to daddy as a Livin' Lovin Maid. It was just Good Times, Bad Times Going To California with a Misty Mountain Hop seeming like A Stairway To Heaven. What Is And What Should Ever Be is Tangerine Over The Hills And Far Away Since I've Been Loving You. Friends never met at the Gallows Pole or sang an Immigrant Song though they might sing The Lemon Song or The Song Remains The Same on Dancing Days when people did The Grunge on Celebration Day. No Quarter had been asked and Four Sticks of Yellowjacket explosives had been used in the Battle Of Evermore which sank that Black Dog Out On The Tiles, Thank You. That's The Way D'yer Maker sent Hats Off To (Roy) Harper. Rather than have her thoughts Ramble On When The Levee Breaks, Milli turned to Bryce Lee and said:
"That's The Way: You Shook Me, baby. You Shook Me all night long. I Can't Quit You Baby, Your Time Is Gonna Come."
"Huh?" Bryce Lee-Bozhart frowned. "What's with you, child?"
Milli shook off the strange possession that had momentarily dulled her teenage hormones. "All my life daddy has been talking about that damn whale. You'd think he'd really lost his leg to a vicious marine animal rather than an inanimate but dangerous farm tool. Killing that thing has finally freed me of his sick influence."
She stepped close, no more child-like unless one thinks Lolita was a child! Yet, showing a maturing wisdom beyond her admittedly young years, Milli stopped short of coming too close. "I can't keep calling you silly names like Yellowjacket or YT. What is your name?"
Under the seductive spell of the suddenly transformed woman he replied without thought or reservation: "I am Bryce Lee, the illegitimate son of gazillionaire Buzz Bozhart and Junie Lampchop. I am your servant. Please be gentle with me!"
Milli chuckled, a merry sound, yet one that mocked the Yellowjacket. "Sir! You are much too old for me. Why, you must be at least five or six years older!"
He was ten years older but that no longer mattered to the awakened Bryce Lee. The girl's lighthearted rejection, however, ignited a smoldering passion which had been submerged within the crimefighter's dual personalities--and it threatened to consume him.
"Just moments ago you said you loved me," Bryce cried. "What's happened? What have I done to cause you to turn your face from me?"
Milli patted his outstretched hand. "Silly man, I still like you. It's just that daddy's madness must have had an effect on me all these years. Now I am me, Milli Billman, not daddy's little girl. You understand, don't you?"
Lee nodded yes though his brain was confused.
In the meantime the currents had carried the paddleboat close to the island. They soon landed on the ominous shore. Bryce helped Milli to the beach, keeping his distance, still struggling with his newly acquired feelings for the beautiful girl. "Jail bait, jail bait, jail bait" he chanted to himself.
As they neared the jungle at the base of the black mountain side Bryce suddenly swept the child-woman into his arms, smothering her face with kisses. "I love you!" he cried.
Milli calmly kneed the over ardent fellow in the groin. She stepped back as Bryce Lee-Bozhart slumped to the ground clutching his privates. Bending over, she shook a finger in his face and said: "I told you 'no' and I meant 'no'. Understood?"
"Because of Things We Said Today I thought I had a Ticket To Ride. You better Run For You Life Little Child because I've Got A Feeling Her Majesty and Every Little Thing in a Day In The Life won't Carry That Weight when I use Maxwell's Silver Hammer. Baby's In Black and dead as Cold Turkey, Dig It? You Don't Bother Me because I'll Get You, I Will. The Fool On The Hill can tell The Continuing Story Of Bungalo Bill For No One From A Window Eight Days A Week for all I care. No Day Tripper Please Please Me laughs If I Fell! Okay I'm Down now, and you think I'm A Loser If I Needed Someone. Well, Dear Prudence--that's you--live in a World Without Love. I Don't Want To Spoil The Party, but I Feel Fine. Think For Yourself and Things We Said Today for little Sexy Sadie should have Let It Be when I Saw Her Standing There. I've Just Seen A Face In My Life and I Call Your Name Here, There, And Everywhere. 'Hello, Little Girl!' Give Peace A Chance to say Good Day Sunshine, but you've been Bad To Me and that Can't Buy Me Love. Do You Want To Know A Secret? Dig A Pony fast or Drive My Car, but make an appointment with Dr. Robert for Fixing A Hole From Me To You. I Don't Want To See You Again. Like Dreamers Do, Lady Madonna, It's Only Love, It's For You--spurned and attacked! Mean Mr. Mustard I Want To Tell You is a Hey Bulldog, Honey Pie. Hold Me Tight, folks, Maggie Mae, or Martha, My Dear, or Julia, or Michelle or Oh! Darling, OO You, Polythene Pam She Said, She Said She's Leaving Home. Run to Strawberry Fields where Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey because I'm Looking Through You. The Word is You Can't Do That. It's too late for 'We Can Work It Out When I Get Home.' Yes It Is. Yer Blues that Yesterday One And One Is Two but Not A Second Time The Night Before. This Mother Nature's Son is in Misery and No Reply to this Nowhere Man will save you, Penny Lane. You Won't See Me--Your Mother Should Know You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)-- for Within You Without You this Paperback Writer is Helter Skelter. You will die, Milli. You will die very slowly you two-timin' Lovely Rita!"
Milli stared at the malevolent face of Bryce Lee-Bozhart with horror! Never had she seen such a transformation before--except when her daddy thought an inner tube floating in the neighbor's swimming pool was Moby Dick. He spent four days in County lockup for leaping the fence and terrorizing all with his harpoon--and had to pay damages to the inner tube.
"Oh, dear!" the girl cried."Such malice in underland!" She turned and ran screaming into the jungle. "HEEELLLLPPPP MMMMMEEEE!"
Bozhart got to his feet, unsteadily, and staggered in her path. At the edge of the jungle he bent down and lifted a heavy branch. He swung it experimentally and grinned with terrible promise as he crashed into the thick underbrush.
THE RATNAZ FILES
"Classic SF Stories by Today's Authors
In the Style of Yesterday's Giants"
The tribulations of a pulp author in the electronic age
as told to Tangor and Bill Hillman
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