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Volume 5116

And Baby Makes Three

A Sequel to 'A Gentleman of Mars'
Part II: Chapters 5-7
(Concluded from Part I: Chapters 1-4 in ERBzine 5115 )
By John "Bridge" Martin

Chapter 5 -- Gorilla My Nightmares

  When you find yourself unexpectedly holding the hand of a white ape, it's hard to find things for which you can be thankful. But I was, at least, happy that true Martian apes are not nearly the same size as the ones depicted in the Disney movie, "John Carter."

  And even though I stood there hand in hand with an ape several feet taller than me, and obviously one that was about to tear me into tiny pieces, I was thankful for something else. Since I had been a gentleman and taken Hanna by the hand before we made our attempt to go back to Barsoom, it was now the ape's hand that was in mine, so it was a simple matter for me to let go.

  And, thirdly, I was thankful that I was clearly back on Barsoom, and in the sphere of the lesser gravitational pull, so I quickly leaped as far away as I could and then kept leaping and leaping to put more and more distance between me and the angry, pursuing ape.

  The creature seemed to have plenty of energy but I knew there was a limit to mine. Even though it was easier for me to leap, and to leap far, I knew I would soon get winded, so I had to look for a more permanent source of succor.

  The chase continued for most of the day until finally, in the distance, I could see what appeared to be the wall and spires of a city and it was in that direction I went. As I got closer I could see people on the walls pointing in my direction and beyond me at my pursuer. The iron gate was raised, presumably to offer me entry, but I took the easy way and simply leaped over the wall.

  The ape, however, was glad of the open gate and dived for it. But, a quick-thinking red man ordered the gate dropped and it crushed the rib cage of the ungainly ape, sending it into agonizing death throes.

  The gate was quickly raised again and soldiers began hitching thoats to the carcass to drag it far onto the dead sea bottoms, where the stench of the soon-to-be rotting corpse would not be able to reach the city and to where its bloated body would serve as food for the various scavengers of Mars. They were loathsome, disgusting creatures but the delicate Barsoomian ecology did depend on them, to some extent.

  I wondered what kind of reception I would have in this city but it wasn't long before I found out. A contingent from the city's red Martian army was double-timing my direction and, as they approached, the officer stopped, pointed at me and ordered his men: "Seize him."


Chapter 6 -- The Gift of the Goddess

  I was led into the palace and through a hallway that looked as if it was made of an ivory-like substance, encrusted with gold. My guards were firm but treated me with a degree of respect, no doubt due to the prowess I had shown in staying ahead of the great ape and leaping their wall.

  At last we reached the throne room, where a princely man -- obviously the city's Jeddak -- sat on a throne. I did a doubletake when I saw who was sitting there next to him. It was my Hanna. And between them, in an ornate incubator, was our egg!

  "Hanna" I cried. "How'd you get here so fast?"

  "Quiet, Thern," roared the Jeddak. "How dare you even speak to, let alone look, in the direction of our Jeddara?"

 "Whaddya mean, Jeddara," I protested. "She's my wife!"

  Some kind of junior officer stepped up to me, sword drawn. "He speaks blasphemies, my Jeddak. Shall I slay him now?"

  "Maybe later," said the Jeddak. "I want to question him first. What do you mean that she's your wife, stranger?" the Jeddak asked. "She is our gift from the Goddess."

  "The Goddess?" I said. "You mean Issus? Don't you know she was exposed as a fraud?"

  "Well, yeah, we know that," said the Jeddak. "But we thought maybe there was someone who took her place, like maybe even this lady here. She just popped onto the throneroom floor a few hours ago and she brought us this fresh egg."

  "I see you didn't waste any time getting it into an incubator," I said. "For that, I thank you. I'm the father of the child that's in that egg."

  The Jeddak guffawed. "You expect us to believe that?"

  "Think about it," I said. "She...and by the way, her name is Hanna...just appeared here magically, right? And how did I get here? By doing something no Barsoom-born man can do, leaping higher, farther and faster than anyone on your planet."

  "You're forgetting about John Carter," sneered the Jeddak.

  "You're forgetting that John Carter is from Earth, like me," I retorted.

  "Aha, so you're from that other planet. Then you're not really a god."

  "You ever been to Earth?" I asked. "We have a planet full of gods. Ever hear of Zeus, Hera, and a bunch of others? And we have some movie starlets whom the press refers to as godesses. We have people all over the place in Washington, D.C., who act like gods and goddesses."

  "Hmmmmmm," said the Jeddak. "I guess I'd better bone up a little on Earth. But then again, you might be lying. If you're a god, you'll know that we have to be careful of impostors and take precautions. We'll lock you in a cell. But don't worry. Since you say you're a god, it'll be a padded cell."

  Hanna spoke up for the first time. "My Jeddak," she interrupted. "He speaks the truth. I tell you, as your goddess, that he is indeed a true god from the planet Earth and you risk great misfortune if you so treat him as a common pretender."

  All right, all right," said the Jeddak. "I guess we'll have to treat him a bit nicer. All right, Mr. god -- and by the way, what's your name?"

  "Fred Hornquist," I replied.

  The Jeddak was taken aback. "There is no such name on Barsoom," he said to Hanna. "He may speak the truth. Only a god could have a name that sounds that exotic."


Chapter 7 -- A Speedy Eggs-It

  "Fred Hornquist" is a common-enough sounding name on the planet Earth, but it is not typical at all of Barsoomian names. So, when I told the Jeddak that was my name he was astonished that there could be such a name and, as a result, believed that I was some kind of a "god."

  Whatever the case, it worked in my favor. He looked at me with a bit of awe and said, "You have the freedom to move about in our great city of Pah-look-ah. But be warned: If you are not really a god, we have plenty of panthans who can run you through in a moment's notice if you step out of line."

  I straightened up and gave the Jeddak a steady, serious gaze. Then, keeping my eyes on him, I made a series of hand movements and gestures that were completely meaningless and nonsensical. And no, I didn't include any of Earth's off-color finger gestures because, after all, I am a gentleman. I thought that my mannerisms would mystify him, and I was right. In fact, I could see that he was a little concerned. "What means these gestures?" he demanded.

  "These are blessings," I replied. "I have conferred upon you the most holy order of the Spidey and the Green Goblin."

  The Jeddak brightened. "Why thank you," he said. "......I think."

  "Now, if you don't mind, the goddess and I need to perform a brief ritual with the egg."

  "Okay, go ahead," said the Jeddak. "But we'll be watching, so don't try anything funny."

  I took Hanna by the hand and together we opened the incubator and removed the egg. Since we had somehow become separated when we went through space, I didn't know for sure what was going to happen this time. But we had to get out of there. I could see that Hanna understood. We uttered the incantation while facing north. Since we didn't know where we were in relation to Helium, one direction was as good as another.

  There was a moment of bright light and the smell of moss. Then, we were standing on a dead sea bottom, still holding our egg. There were no cities in sight, no advancing hordes of green men, and -- most important -- no white apes ready to tear us limb from limb.

  "With this mode of travel," I smiled at Hanna. "You and I can be quite a pair on Barsoom and -- hey -- what are you doing?

  "I'm calling John Carter," said Hanna, holding her cell phone up to her ear.

  "Where'd you get that?" I asked.

  "I've had it all the time," she said. "All John Carter's friends carry them, as you should know from your earlier visit here. You just never saw me using it. I had it in my ditty bag when I came to Earth and since then I've kept it in the baby alligator purse I got on our trip to Florida. Since the phone didn't work on Earth, there was never any reason to mention it to you. I got my purse out of the jail's evidence locker when I got the egg."

  "You are quite a girl," I said. She held up her hand to silence me. "My Warlord?" she said into the phone. "It's Hanna and Fred. We're back on Barsoom and we need a ride back to Helium... okay... see you soon."

  She flipped the phone shut and stuck it back in her purse. "He said he'd need to triangulate to get our location and then he'd be here shortly," she said.

 "In the meantime, we need to keep this egg warm."

  She placed the egg between us, put her arms around me, and began a long, long kiss.

  That egg was warm as toast by the time John Carter and Dejah Thoris arrived in a four-seat flier.

The End

A Gentleman of Mars by John "Bridge" Martin
with Sequel: "And Baby Makes Three"
ERBzine Volumes 5113-5116
Part I
Chapters 1-4
Part II
Chapters 5-7
Sequel Pt I
Chapters 1-4
Sequel Pt. II
Chapters 5-7


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