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Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter®of Mars



47. "TANGLED TURMOIL" -- Oct. 25, '42
(read novelization

P1: Before John Carter could rise, the grazoon had hopped back and forth overhead, depositing several strands of sticky web upon him. 

P2: The creature was puzzled by its new victim's size, for its usual fare consisted of small cavern bats. 

P3: Yet having no intention of relinquishing a morsel so large, it bound its victim well. 

P4: So speedily had the mighty insect moved that Carter's sword could not cope fast enough with the heavy sticky strands. 

P5: Thus the Martian insect wove its tight web of death over the Earthman's body. 

P6: Now it moved stealthily toward Carter, the great pincer jaws opening and closing nervously in anticipation of the kill. 


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Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst

Before John Carter could raise his one free arm above his head, the grazoon had cast several long strands of gummy webbing over his face and shoulders. This precision ejection of raw silk the creature carried out from the far side of its entrapment network. Captain Carter, practically imprisoned in the creature's mesh, awaited his end with stoic fortitude. He only hoped that the spider-like quadruped's venom would act quickly, for he knew that with but one hand left free he could neither kill the thing nor cut his way free from its trap. However, at that point of ultimate peril, a mad scheme came to him and his steel gray eyes flashed with implacable animation. 

"I still live!" he reminded himself. 

Sola's negative answer left the Odwar of Eo with nothing more to say. He bowed his head in imitation of human Barsoomian custom and asked the young green woman how he might be of service, since she was a guest on the Plateau of Eo by his request. 

"When you brought me to this place we walked for a long time through a great forest. From what little I could see, I suppose the jungle covers the entire mountain top. Tell me, is it a natural thing or is it also a creation of Vovo?" 

"I tell you truly, Sola, that it was no creation of Vovo's, although the mechano-men now tend the foliage and give it the water our dying world can no longer supply from its thin atmosphere. The forest was here before ever an intelligent being drew a breath on Barsoom. Forests like this one were the birthplace of your own race, and when the green men had disappeared from all the face of our world, their sole remnant survived here." 

"It is an unwritten history, my friend. It is a story that no living being today knows, save for myself. I know it well, for I saw much of it happen with my own eyes. Although your ancestors forgot the truth a hundred thousand years ago, the Isle of Eo with its pristine jungles was a special place for the green men of Barsoom. Now it is but a lost mountain in a god-forsaken desert. This place is your ancient homeland, Sola. You have more of a right to be here than any of the rest of us do." 

"If what you say is truthful, Oman, then I wish to walk for a while among the trees. I'll take Woola with me. I have never seen such a wonder before, nor has the calot. Grant us that request; I ask no more of you. Perhaps nothing can be done for my friends -- at least I do not expect you to try any harder to save them than you already have done. I thank you for your good intentions. Now I desire to be alone." 

With that the Thark maiden turned on her heel and walked out of the wizard's laboratory. 

"It smells too much of unnatural things here, Woola," she sighed to the watchdog. "Let us breathe the bounteous air green plants make, as our first ancestors did." 

The human half of the Odwar -- the part of him so long suppressed -- felt first sadness, and then acceptance. He had tried his best, but he knew now that the salvation of the dreamers was not in his hands. It never had been. 

The old grazoon watched its new victim from the other size of the web. The captured flesh would supply the fluids for many a meal and the grazoon could sleep even more often and for longer periods in the safety of its silken mesh. The big victim was several times the size of the creature's usual fare of small flying things. Yes, it was a good catch -- a very good catch. 

But then a tiny glimmer of intelligence was activated in the grazoon's slow-thinking brain. Such a large morsel would require more than one injection of venom. In its youth the four-legged monster might have killed the prey with a single sting. But now its death would require two or three administrations from the grazoon's poisonous pincers. 

Lazily the old bug twisted its head in a complete circle, and seeing nothing amiss, it sauntered across the web toward the Earthman. At the web's center the animal again stopped and looked about, then it moved stealthily toward Carter. The animal's great pincer jaws were opening and closing in anticipation of the kill. From both wicked-looking jaw tips a drop of paralyzing venom emerged and gleamed menacingly in the feeble light. 

"That's right," said John Carter. "Come closer -- just a little closer." 

Sola the daughter of Gozava and Tars Tarkas of Thark had never before seen so many trees. They came in all shapes and sizes and their leaves ranged in hue from sparkling emerald green to pale orange, streaked with olive. Of course the girl did not know what emeralds, oranges and olives were, but the green race has a keen sense of color and had Sola known more of Jasoom she would have made those same comparisons, as well as a thousand others. But on the Barsoom she knew, Sola had very little to compare the colors to, let alone the entire picture of trees, shrubbery, vines, insects, birds and all the million and one other strange sights surrounding her. 

"They are like the trees that grow along the red people's waterways, but larger and far more numerous. I wonder how old the oldest one is, Woola?" 

The watchdog gave no reply. Many of the plants had metal signs attached to them, but she could not read the characters. She supposed they were names. Playfully the green girl gave the plants her own set of names: "skeel, pimalia, man-flower, sorapus, usalob, mantalia, sompus" and "calot-tree." The last named specimen, she saw, had a high steel fence around it. However piles of bones around it showed that the carnivorous plant was not starving behind its barrier. 

"Don't go near that one," Sola cautioned the watchdog, " or you'll learn why it is named after your many-toothed breed!" 

Having probed as far as she wished, the green girl turned about at the fence and retraced her steps through the trees and the garden-like undergrowth. She loved the balance and tranquillity of the place -- so many different living things together. And although she did not yet know the word for the invisible gas, the maid of Mars loved filling her lungs with the rich, invigorating oxygen the forest's green vegetation poured into the air. 

Sola decided it would be best to spend the night on the plateau. It was already late in the day and the thoat she had left at the trail-head could look after itself until she returned. So the girl turned her face toward Eo's silver tower and resolved to tell Oman that she would stay a little longer. Along the way Sola stopped to look at the weird man-flowers. She sat in their midst for quite a while and it was there that a singular idea came to her.


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