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Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter®of Mars



48. "JAWS OF DEATH" -- Nov. 1, '42
(read novelization

P1: As the grazoon crouched to spring upon the Earthman and suck the blood from his body -- 

P2: -- John Carter swung his sword and cut the anchor strand that held the insect's web in place. 

P3: Still fastened at two other points high in the cavern, the tangled net swung downward in a giant arc. 

P4: The heavy insect tumbled off, dragging down part of the web in which Carter was caught. 

P5: The Earthman fell toward the jagged floor of the cavern. 

P6: But the grazoon landed directly beneath him and the man dropped with a thud upon the creature's back. 


1. Compare 


Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst

The old spider-like thing loomed over the Earthman like a black thundercloud, ready to send forth its destruction without warning. John Carter's upper body was still coated with streaks of drying blood and gore from the dragon-fish and it appeared that the grazoon was intrigued by the powerful odor of these scraps of carnage. The creature hesitated, moved forward and then hesitated again. All the while Carter was busy with the dagger he held in his free hand. As the grazoon crouched to spring upon the Earthman and inject its lethal venom, John Carter cut the final anchor strand that held the insect-thing's web in place. 

Still fastened at several other points high in the cavern, the tangled net dipped downward at the free end. The heavy grazoon made its four-legged jump a heartbeat too late and went tumbling over the edge, dragging down the part of the web in which Carter was caught. As luck would have it the single silken strand holding the beast was within reach of the Virginian's knife. He furiously hacked at the line and in less time than the telling of it takes, the old grazoon was flat upon its back far below the entrapment mesh. With the sharp dagger Carter freed himself sufficiently so as to draw his long-sword; then the work of cutting away the imprisoning lines of spider silk went much faster. At last the Earthman severed the final sticky strand and moved from the mangled network to a precarious hold on the jagged cavern wall. 

Not far below him, but a few dozen feet away, the subtle cavern light was concentrated in a spot that offered the swordsman his only hope of finding a path to its tenuous source, and from there to the world outside the mountain's caverns. Cautiously John Carter made his way along the eroded rock toward that little patch of light. He looked down to see the grazoon beneath him, still on its back and flailing its four legs helplessly in the air. Carter turned his attention back on the precarious path to the light. Clinging to the rocks with his feet and a hand, he stretched out his free arm to grab a projection just above the sunlit area. He strained his muscles with a mighty effort and caught hold of the outcrop, then he swung his body downward to the inviting support of a long sturdy-looking stone ledge. As one toe touched the ledge, from out of nowhere a sticky strand of spider silk struck the extended foot. The ejected line of gooey stuff knocked John Carter from the cavern wall and pulled him violently downward. The dismayed swordsman dropped with a thud upon the overturned grazoon. 

"The anti-gravity modules will be in place shortly, then we can make the transfer," the metal odwar said. "The movement of the bodies will be done as smoothly and as quietly as is possible." 

"And their harnesses and trappings? Oh yes, and their weapons also?" Sola inquired. 

"Yes, my friend, everything is being taken to the spot in the forest you spoke of. But I see no way to dress the two without endangering them in the world of their dreams. Again I caution you that our disturbing their sleep might easily prove fatal to your friends, Sola." 

A squad of silent mechano-men attached the gravity inhibitors while Oman lowered the transparent enclosures and then covered the two glass cases with sturdy canvas. The twin ersite slabs floated eerily above the laboratory tables. Slowly and cautiously the robots maneuvered the queerly enveloped objects through the laboratory, out of the tower and into the streets of the little city. 

The green girl and the odwar walked along behind the floating objects with the troop of robots which guided them along the path into the forest. The strange procession reminded Sola of the time during her brief childhood when the old Jeddak of Thark died and Tal Hajus had his body carried through the capital city to the charnel house. She shook off that dismal recollection and tried to imagine a happier outcome. However, the daughter of Gozava was well aware that her untutored plan might bring Dejah Thoris and John Carter to death's door that very day. 

"From this point forward," explained the robot leader, "I can no longer monitor the dreamers nor guess what goes on in their fantasies. That troubles me." 

"And it troubles me, Oman, that you have so carefully monitored them. Vovo's dismal laboratory, with all its cold machinery and sensing devices is not the proper place for my dear friends. If they must die, at least let them pass from this world in the open air, surrounded by the beauty of nature. But since you speak of the sensors and the dials, what did they tell you of the sleepers' dream before the two fantasies went their separate ways?" 

"I only know that in their dream the princess and the Jasoomian insisted upon leaving Eo. Evidently my counterpart in their imaginations tried to convince them to stay and make proper preparations, but they went off looking for your own dream self, lost track of the calot and became separated." 

"You did not tell me that I was a part of their dreams." Sola replied dryly. 

"Nor can I be certain that they really dreamt of you, young woman; but from the instrument read-outs in the laboratory that was my conclusion. My fantasy counterpart told them you were not waiting at the base of the plateau, I think. And there the dream echoed reality, for I had gone to fetch you, here in the real world. Only after I returned with you did I discover the sensor read-outs telling that part of the story." 

"I would be quite happy never again to hear of sensor read-outs," she sighed. "But see ahead on the pathway, we approach the place where the ground and foliage are covered in flowers. I ask that your robots place the bodies on the verge of the shade cast by the skeel trees -- there on that slight rise in the forest floor." 

The Odwar of Eo gently managed the gravity inhibitors, so that the two naked bodies were laid out, side by side upon a silk draped bed of leaves, with each body under its own glass enclosure. Beside the dreamers Sola laid out their few possessions. Neither Dejah Thoris nor John Carter moved a muscle during the process, and now their silent repose among the trees and flowers gave no hint of life. Oman peered through the glass one last time, to be certain that they yet drew an occasional breath of air, then he backed away from the insensible figures. 

"I've opened the little vents on the glass cases," Oman said. "The sleepers will have sufficient air, but none of the creatures of this forest will disturb them. Nothing larger than a sorak haunts these woods. The two of them may lie thus for a day or for a century, and never be disturbed. However, without food and drink they will not live long." 

With that the odwar commanded his little troop to depart. He lingered long enough to touch Sola upon her upper shoulder -- an almost human gesture -- then Oman said his farewell and was gone. Sola and the Martian watchdog were left alone with the sleepers, surrounded by the quiet majesty of the leafy forest giants. 


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