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Volume 5863

by John "Bridge" Martin
1. Return of the Sussex Vampire
2. Two Vampires On Venus
3. Tarzan and the Jungle Treasure
4. An Appetite for Appetizers
5. One Day At A Tarzana Bank
6. A November in the Jungle
7. The Hairy Tiara of La
8. Tale Mate
9. On Day On A Class M Planet
10. An Encounter in the Desert
1. Return of the Sussex Vampire

Chapter 1 -- The Fate of the Forty-Nine

  John Clayton closed the book suddenly and tossed it onto the end table in the sitting room of Greystoke Castle.

  "Aren't you going to finish reading that?" asked Jane. "It looks like you only have a few chapters to go."

  "No need to read more," said Clayton. "I'm already familiar with the story of Dracula, and Chapter 20 gave me the specific information I needed."

  "And what's that, dear?" asked Jane.

  "That they didn't find all of Dracula's boxes of Transylvanian dirt," said the Englishman. "By the time they got to Carfax Abbey, they could find just 29. They had pretty much taken care of 20 others and they got No. 50, along with Dracula himself, on the road to his castle. Problem is, there are still another 20 unaccounted for!"

  "How do you know that, John?" asked Jane. "I've read Dracula, too, and it says there were 50 boxes of earth aboard the Demeter, not 70."

  "Aboard the Demeter. That's the key," said Clayton. "Dracula was something of a psycho, but he wasn't fool enough to put all of his eggs in one basket. Just as he thought he'd be safe with 50 makeshift coffins instead of just one, so he thought he'd be safer shipping them on two different ships rather than one, in case one shipwrecked which, of course, is exactly what happened to the Demeter."

  "Yes," said Jane. "But fortunately for Dracula, and unfortunately for poor Lucy, that shipwreck occurred close enough to shore that the boxes were still able to be unloaded and delivered."

  "The other ship," said Clayton, "was the Dementrix, captained by a skipper named Capt. Jack Ferguson. There were 20 boxes aboard that and they were also delivered to Carfax Abbey, meaning a total of 70 were there before Dracula started distributing them to various secure locations. When I visited the abbey as part of the House of Lords tour that the Count offered as a P.R. gesture, there were still 49 there."

  "I suppose that means you counted them," said Jane.

  "Yes," said Clayton. "And Korak was with me and he counted them too, so I know the number was accurate. Actually, Dracula seemed to get rather nervous when Korak opened what he thought was a bathroom door but it really showed off the basement, with all those boxes! The Count came up with what I thought at the time was a hasty explanation, saying they were boxes of Transylvanian earth he'd brought to grow herbs and spices that he needs for his peculiar diet."

  "Well," said Jane. "That was true in a sense, The count must have been a great punster. He did have a peculiar diet and he did need the boxes so he could rest on his native soil."
  "Yeah, he's a real card," said Clayton, "and, you'll note, card is Drac spelled backward." Jane rolled her eyes.

  "Anyway," said Clayton, Bram Stoker either was ignorant of the fact that there were 70 boxes originally or he knew it and just ignored it to keep the story simple. After all, Stoker reported that Dracula had been destroyed so, as far as he was concerned, the other 20 boxes were irrelevant anyway."

  Jane, her chin resting on a folded hand, asked, "How do you know all this?"

  "I got the story first from a drunken sailor and then checked it out from the diary of a man long dead," said Clayton. "Ol' Quincy was a brave heart and enduring soul, and he died nobly in the effort to kill off Dracula. He had written so many journals that Stoker couldn't include them all in the book. And also," he added, "I was able to inspect the records of the Colonial Shipping Office, which kept track of the comings and goings of foreign ships like the Russian Demeter and Dementrix."

  "But why worry about the 20 other caskets," said Jane. "Like you said, Dracula was killed and they are of no use to him or anyone else."

  "It would be great," said Clayton, "if they were simply sitting in someone's clammy basement with mushrooms sprouting inside them, but we have to make sure. Dracula has a way of becoming reactivated, and if any Gypsies or anyone else manages to get hold of any of his dust and dump blood on it, that might be enough to do it! Those boxes of earth must be found," Clayton added, "and destroyed so that his putrid body may never rest upon that tainted dirt again."

  "But my dear," said Jane. "Who is going to do it?"

  "I am," said John Clayton, Lord Greystoke.

Chapter 2 -- Business on Baker Street

    Mrs. Hudson fondled the banknotes which her peculiar tenant, a Mr. Sherlock Holmes, had lavished upon her to pay for his lodgings, her cooking, and her periodic housekeeping duties. Perhaps to compensate her somewhat for his eccentricities, as well as the oddball characters who regularly called upon him, he always paid her handsomely, even beyond what was normally required. So it might be said that not only was Sherlock Holmes the world's first consulting detective, but also the first consulting detective who tipped excessively.

  Mrs. Hudson finished counting her latest take and then pulled out the tin box beneath her bed, a place where burglars would never think to look. She removed a pin from her hair and picked the lock so she could add the new bills to her stash.

  Just as she finished, she heard a knock at the door. She wasn't aware that Mr. Holmes was expecting anyone at this late hour and neither was she, so she speculated as she headed to the door and opened it somewhat timidly. Standing without was a tall man clad in dark clothing. His face was grim.

  "Yes," said Mrs. Hudson timorously.

  "I would like to see Mr. Holmes," said the stranger with somewhat of an accent. "Will you, of your own free will, allow me to enter?"

  Mrs. Hudson had never been addressed in such a way but acquiesed, almost fearing that, should she attempt to keep the stranger out, he would merely put forth his hand and force the door open. So, she gestured for the man to step in and, as he did so, she noted with a chill in her heart that his footsteps made no sound upon the front hallway tile.

  Along with her fear, she sensed that she might be in the presence of royalty, perhaps a count or an earl of some sort. "And who shall I say is calling grace...?"

  "John Clayton, Lord Greystoke," said the stranger. "My card, ma'am."

  At the mention of the English name and title, Mrs. Hudson breathed a sigh of relief, happy that she was not an enemy of this man. "I'll tell him you're here, Mr. Clayton." She made her way up the stairs and a few moments later was back, indicating to the caller that he might ascend. "He is eager to see you."

  Sherlock Holmes had just finished shooting up and had taken off his tourniquet and was unrolling his shirtsleeve as Lord Greystoke entered. "Just taking a little hit for a pick-me-up," explained Holmes. "Sorry I didn't have enough to share. The Baker Street Irregulars haven't been coming through for me as much lately."

  "That's all right," said Greystoke. "I never stick sharp my own arm."

  "I have received your wire," said Holmes, "explaining the singular matter on which you wished to consult me, but I can tell you that I believe the idea of vampires is rubbish. It's literally lunacy to imagine that a dead creature can come to life unless pinned in his coffin by a wooden stake."

  "I understand that it is difficult to believe," said Greystoke. "And I can hardly believe it myself. Yet, you did investigate a case of supposed vampirism once in Sussex, and it is concerning that case with which I wish to consult you."

  "Ah yes," recalled Holmes, grateful that Clayton had used the magic word, "consult."  "The case ended in the restoration of marital bliss and we disproved that vampirism had been involved," he said.

  "Doctor. Watson here," said Greystoke, "has been kind enough over the years to keep me supplied with copies of his drafts, so I've had a look at the account he's going to send off to the Strand one of these days. There was the matter of the young man who was the true attacker of the little child. You had recommended that a year at sea might help him to cleanse his mind."

  "Yes, Jacky Ferguson," recalled Holmes. "I hear he really took to the sea and eventually rose to the rank of captain on some foreign shipping vessel."

  "Indeed," said Greystoke. "I think you have confirmed what I wanted to know. I was wondering if this young man was the same one who had come to be the skipper of the Russian ship Dementrix."

  "I believe you are correct," said Holmes. "I often peruse the shipping news to help solve my cases and I've seen his name listed several times. But I must ask, why are you interested in him?"

  "It's his violent past, with wanton disregard for the lives of innocents," said Greystoke. "He took it to a new level a few years ago in aiding a diabolical fiend to turn his evil loose on London."

  "Fiend, eh?" Holmes rasped. "Would that be the vampire of whom you speak?"

  "It just might be," Greystoke replied. "I will know better after I visit the old Ferguson home at Sussex. Perhaps the good doctor could supply me with directions."

  "Here you are, good fellow," said the physician. "I anticipated your request and have prepared this map."

  "Thank you," said Greystoke. Then, turning to Holmes, added, "Well, I won't trouble you further. Good day, sir."

  "Uh, aren't you forgetting something?" Holmes asked.

  "Oh, sorry," said Greystoke. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a few notes.

"Here's your consulting fee, sir."

Next: Showdown at Sussex

2. Two Vampires on Venus
  Carson and Duare, having been attacked by vampires, had become vampires themselves and were making their way across the Amtorian countryside in their long night's journey into night when, up ahead, Duare spotted a flashing neon sign.

  "Look, Carson," she said, pointing in the direction of the lights, "If I'm not mistaken, that's an all-night hamburger stand."

  "Right you are, Duare dear," Carson smiled. They arrived shortly and headed their covered wagon into the drive-through lane.

  "Welcome to Noobol Noodles & Burgers," came the voice from out of the squawk box. "Would you like to try our fresh Dingleberry Shakes."

  ", I don't think so," said Carson. "I'd like a hamburger, please. Raw, no bun. A little ketchup is fine."

  "I'll have the same," chirped Duare, bringing her fingernail file out of her purse to sharpen up her fangs.

  "And what kind of soda pop do you want with that?" inquired the voice.

  "We never drink...soda pop," said Carson.

  "I'll have your total for you at the window," the voice said. "Pull ahead."

  Carson called "Giddyup" to his Gantor and it hauled their wagon up to the window. Carson paid for the food, took the sacks, and they headed down a country lane a ways to where they could enjoy their snacks in peace.

  Duare opened her sack, hauled out her burger, still dripping with its fresh blood and ketchup, and took a big bite. "Oh no," she moaned. "We should have checked our sacks before we pulled away from the window."

  "Why, what's the matter?" asked Carson, opening his own sack and raising it to his nose to take a whiff.

  "I didn't know they were going to put Oyngans on this!" she wailed.

  Carson smiled. "Don't worry about your breath, Duare," he said. "They put Oyngan on mine, too."

3. Tarzan and the Jungle Treasure
  Tarzan of the Apes lifted his head and sniffed the evening breeze. He caught the unmistakable odor of his "guilty pleasure," the processed, tinned meat that had the zesty taste he loved so well. The odor made it clear the product was about 3 miles off, so Tarzan -- without a moment's hesitation -- leaped to an overhanging branch and began making his way through the middle terraces.

  At last he reached his destination, the camp of an American big game hunter. The moonlit camp was quiet but for a roaring fire, tended by a lone native in an effort to keep wild creatures away.

  Tarzan was a wild one, but fire did not deter him. Dropping to the ground behind a large supply tent, Tarzan yanked his long dead sire's hunting knife from its scabbard and sliced open the canvas. He pushed his body through the slit and easily located the treasure he sought, a full case of Swift Premium brand Spam. Tarzan grabbed the case and slipped back out of the tent, and no sound alerted anyone to his presence.

  He who had carried bars of Opar gold on his shoulders had no problem with a case of Spam, and he scampered through the trees with one hand holding the full cardboard box on his shoulder as easily as little Manu might move through the same space holding a banana in his hand.

  At last Tarzan came to the fork of a tree where he ripped open the box. He turned the first can over and found the little key he had learned to operate on previous occasions. Very clever, these Americans. The ape-man made short work of the contents and then opened and consumed the spam from a second, and then a third can. At last, he patted his belly and sat back for a few minutes. Then, he dropped to the ground with the spam and dug a hole with his knife and hands and buried the rest of the spam so he could come back for it later.

  Then, he turned to continue making his way through the jungle. But, something made him stop. He stood still a second or two, knowing that there was one other thing he must do before continuing on. Even Tarzan of the Apes had to wait upon nature from time to time. At last, the moment came. Tarzan lifted his head to the heavens, opened his mouth, and went:


  He then smiled, not only in relief but also because of the aftertaste of the half-digested spam that the belch had brought back to his taste buds.

  "Ahhhhhh," said Tarzan.

  He then continued his latest adventure, following the trail toward two lost cities he had heard about.

~ Bridge

4. An Appetite for Appetizers
  Tarzan dumped the poisoned arrows out of his quiver so he could reach down into the container and extract the lucsious treat within. He held the tiny can up for inspection, allowing a smile to play across his face while breathing a contented, "Ah."

  He grasped the ring on the poptop lid and, with mighty jungle-honed biceps, easily separated it from the can. He looked within and smiled again as he beheld the Vienna Sausages encased therein.

  Holding the can in his right hand, he slammed it into his left palm to give the weiners the oomph they needed to exit the can. But all that happened was that the precious  juice within all ejected out onto Tarzan's open hand, most of it running through his fingers and on to the forest floor several hundred feet below.

  "Shumba!" he cursed in his most vulgar Billingsgate. "I should have drank that juice." Nonetheless, he moved the miniature can to his lips and tried to enjoy a drink of the few droplets that remained. Then he poked his finger between a couple of the weiners, squashing them in the process, and. And using the nail on his right forefinger (which he kept sharp just for this purpose), he popped a weiner out of the can and into the air and caught it in his mouth the way he had taught Jad-bal-ja to do with the pesky squirrels the ape-man captured alive for him.

  Now that one weiner had been extracted, the rest were easy to get to, and Tarzan soon had both cheeks stuffed full and looked something like a squirrel himself as he mashed the molded meat with his molars.

  He had soon completed his repast but ran his finger around the inside of the can and licked it, to make sure he got the last morsel of goodness.

  Tarzan then crushed the can in one hand and tossed it from the tree, listening to the bump-bump sounds as it bounced from limb to limb on the way down.
  Since the can was made of metal, and metal was a natural element buried in the earth, Tarzan knew that the can would eventually recycle itself back into the soil.
  He grabbed his arrows from the branches on which they had fallen and stuffed them back into his quiver.

  "Time to go look for some real meat now," the ape-man said to no one in particular.

~ Bridge

5. One Day at a Tarzana Bank
Edgar Rice Burroughs smiled all the way to the bank
  "Good morning, Mr. Burroughs," chirped Maizy, the shapely blonde teller. "Another fat deposit today?"

  "You bet," said the world-famous author. He endorsed the check and began filling out the deposit slip. "Let's see," he said. "Today is...."

  "The 29th," she replied. "Monday, November 29, 1937."

  "I know what year it is," said ERB with a touch of snark. "Just forgot what day in November it was."

  He handed her the check and she glanced at the name at the top. "Hormel Spam," she clucked her tongue. "Isn't that the new meat product they just came out with? That is good stuff. And what a clever name, rhymes with ham and has pig meat in it."

  "Yes," said ERB, "a good name. If I do say so myself."

  "Eh?" said Maizy. "Why do you say that?"

  "Because," said ERB, "I made the name up myself, then sold it to Hormel for royalties if they ever actually used it. Finally, they have."

  "How did you ever come up with the name of 'Spam' and what possessed you to offer it to Hormel?" inquired the teller.

  "It was 1912," said ERB, "and my family and I were enduring hard times. I decided I would write a rotten story and sell it to one of those cheap pulp magazines to bring in a few bucks to help feed us."

  "Oh," she said, "that would be 'Tarzan of the Apes.' I was in the garage tossing out some magazines the other day and one of them in the pile was The All Story that had that that yarn in it. I don't need it anymore because I have a G&D in jacket."

  "Yes," said ERB. "No point in keeping stuff like that. The pulp paper will probably crumble to dust in a few more years anyway."

  "But back to the subject," said the teller. "How did you come up with the name Spam and what does it have to do with Tarzan."

  "Well," said ERB, "I was trying to think of a name for my character. I was planning to call him Tublat-Zan but then I remembered that this story would be read by unintelligent pulp readers and I thought a three-syllable word would be too much for them to handle. So I decided on Tarspam instead."

  "But you didn't use that, either," Maizy noted.

  "Well," said ERB,"I got to thinking that the presence of a 'p' in the middle of a word is hard to pronounce without shooting saliva out of your mouth, whereas a 'z' is much easier to get out. Also, 'z' is more fun to say than 'p.' You know, like in 'zoo,' 'lazy,' and 'crazy.'

   "And Maizy?" she asked, batting her heavily made-up eyelids.

  "Yes," ERB smiled. "And Maizy. Anyway, I realized that excess saliva was an aid to digestion and figured that if Hormel ever came up with a zesty (another 'z' there, heh heh) tinned meat, that Spam would be a dandy name for it. So I had my lawyers contact their lawyers and we worked out a deal."

  "Wow!" said Maizy. "You sure are smart, Mr. Burroughs."

  "Yes I am," he grinned, sticking the deposit receipt into his wallet. "And rich."

~ Bridge

6. A November Day in the Jungle
For what seemed like hours, Tarzan had leaped from limb to limb in the middle terrace on the type of mission he would undertake only at the whim of his beautiful wife, Jane. "We need some big leaves," she had told him, and no sooner had she spoken than he had leaped to the sill of the open window in the Greystoke bungalow and taken to the trees. He knew of only one tree in the jungle which sported the big leaves, the Large Liana Laden Lollapalooza Tree. Now, at last, he had reached the sheer escarpment where the trees grew and succeeded in plucking not one, but several, of the huge green things the size of elephant ears.

It was late in the evening when he returned, only to find a frowning Jane sitting in the bamboo chair, her arms folded, tapping her foot impatiently.

"Where have you been?" she demanded. "Our friends from the Waziri tribe got here right after you left and we couldn't wait so we went ahead and ate all the turkey and trimmings without you. I had to put one of our guests to work opening the closet and getting out those extra leaves for our Thanksgiving table."

7. The Hairy Tiara of La
  There was not much point in being the High Priestess and Queen Bee of Opar if there were not some perks to go along with the job, and La made sure she took full advantage of them.

  The sacrificial rite in which the denizens of Opar gathered in fanatical fury to slay and drink the blood of an unfortunate jungle traveler was an important facet of life in Opar, but even as the blood drained from the veins and arteries of the freshly slain victims, so the adrenalin drained from the bodies of the participants so that, once the "high" was over, La and the others generally experienced physical exhaustion.

  For most of the Oparians, that was a "goes with the territory" proposition and, in the admonition of Lady La, they had to just "deal with it." But for La herself, it meant a day or so of R&R, starting with a visit to the baths located above the steam plumes which vented the streams of molten lava that flowed beneath Opar from the underground core of distant Kilimanjaro.

  After that, it was a visit to the massage parlor where one of the grotesque but muscular priests would work over the stressed tendons in her lush body for about an hour or so.

  Then it was off to the Opar beauty shop, staffed by priestesses who had been schooled in the ancient secrets passed down by the founders of the lost civilization. When conducting her high priestess duties, La usually sported a look that had her long, dark, straight hair swept up into an ornate "do," which she referred to as the "DJ," La's abbreviation for "duju." At other times, La would have her attendants apply bleach to give her hair a blonde caste, known as the "Frazetta Flaxen,", or have it dyed red, known as the "Monroe Maggie's Drawers." No one in Opar knew the true color of La's hair as it was a secret she guarded fiercely. There was always an ambitious priestess who was after her job, so La believed it was good to keep her subjects guessing about everything she did.

  Tarzan himself had to guess, since he never knew which "La" he would have to deal with whenever his duties took him to or near Opar.

  Thus, over the years, he gave conflicting descriptions of La to various ERB artists who had visited him on occasion to try to pick his brain to get accurate ideas for illustrations for Tarzan books.

  The ape-man was not unaware of the confusion created in the minds of some fans as to just what the color or style of La's hair might be. In fact, he rather enjoyed giving out a new description to illustrators who nodded appreciatively and scribbled excitedly on their drawing pads as he gave them details about the wild yet winsome woman who stayed in Opar to avoid the public spotlight.

  He was also not above embellishing a detail or two and then grinning mischieviously as the latest Opar books were delivered to him by a drone from

  "I wonder what they would come up with," he smiled to himself one day, "if I told them she wore a purple Afro?"

~ Bridge

8. Tale Mate
  "Check!" Tarzan said, moving his queen knight pawn onto a square diagonal to the king of the dark side.

  Bruce Banner looked at the situation and seethed. The pawn was protected by a bishop and Tarzan's rook and a knight covered the other possible avenues of escape. There was only one square to which he could flee and that would be just a temporary respite as he could see that Tarzan's other rook was in a position to move in and achieve mate.

  He had seen it coming. One by one his major pieces had been captured and he had been forced again and again into defensive moves instead of the attack he had wanted so badly to make. All of his scientific knowledge seemed to be of no avail as the steely-eyed ape-man, a slight and annoying smile playing across his aristocratic lips, had move by move made him play like a chattering chimpanzee rather than the chess genius that he had been acclaimed to be.

  It had been decided fair and square that he would play the black pieces or, in this case, the green pieces, since Tarzan's chessmen were all of shaped gold, the ape-man's "white" glittering yellow in the sun that filtered through the bamboo curtain in the sitting room of Greystoke Manor, while Banner's dull pieces were covered with the green grime that was coming off on his fingers.

  But wait. Was it the grime that was discoloring the digits of his right hand, or something else? Casually, so as not to tip off his foe, Banner brought his left hand up from where it had been resting on his knee so he could take a quick glance down at it. Yes, it was turning green as well, and it had not touched a single chess piece.

  It was happening. Once again, the slowly building anger in him was taking over, causing the metamorphosis that would transform him into the humongous Hulk. It wasn't simply that the ape-man was beating him at chess, but the aggravating ease with which he seemed to be doing it and the enjoyment he was getting out of it.

  Banner did have a respect for Tarzan and all that the ape-man had accomplished. For, in the words of his love, Jane, "No man ever started with less." But the brute instinct that mostly lay dormant within his being was now taking over. Banner knew his eyes were turning white and instinctively brought up his left hand to shade them. Then he realized that it didn't matter, for both hands were now a bright green and were starting to puff up with knotted muscles. He heard the sounds of ripping fabric as his shirt split down the back and the seams on his trousers pulled apart.

  The ape-man had noticed it too, and glanced up at Banner with a bit of fire in his eyes.

But now it was no longer Banner. The Hulk had taken over and mild-mannered Bruce Banner was now the Holly Green Giant, his skin the dark green of the prickly plant, his fingernails like the pointy spikes on the leaves, and his veins bulging with blood the color of red berries.

  But for the first time in his life, The Hulk hesitated from launching into an immediate rampage of rage. The ape-man was undergoing a transformation as well. Tarzan's muscles were expanding to the size of a sumo wrestler. Hair was rapidly sprouting from all over his body. His face contorted like a Neanderthal, his nostrils seemed to flare to the size of the twin headlights on an Edsel, and his canine teeth, both top and bottom, grew to the size of some as-yet undiscovered wild, terrible jungle cat. Tarzan was now the ape-man in every aspect.

  Both mutated men stood staring, contemplating each other's strengths and potential vulnerabilities, gauging the timing for an all-out assault.

  At that moment, Jane came in bearing a tray with a steaming pot, cucumber sandwiches and warm scones with clotted cream and preserves. "Afternoon tea time, guys," she chirped. Then, beholding the state of the two behemoths before her, she added, "Oh you men! Well, it'll be sitting right here for you when you're done with your game."

  Shaking her head at the mysteries of machoism, she made her way back to the kitchen, smiling as she heard the snarls and snorts and the thuds of huge bodies crashing against the solidly-constructed walls of their jungle hideaway.

~ Bridge

9. One Day on a Class M Planet

"The pain! The pain!"

Spock himself seemed to be experiencing great pain even as he shouted out the message he had gotten from another while executing the Vulcan mind meld.

The loathsome creature on which he had placed his hands was called a horta, an animal which used its body to root up the Earth. The idea had formed in Captain Kirk's mind that perhaps its digging skills could be put to use helping miners, with whom it had previously been at war.

Spock removed his hands from the creature and wiped the sweat from his forehead. "It's in dreadful pain, Jim," he told the captain. "And has been taking out its aggression on the miners."

"What is causing the pain, Spock?" asked Kirk. "Are the miners breaking its eggs or something like that?"

"No, Captain," said Spock. "It's something far more dangerous. It's some guy in a tree who keeps shooting arrows at it or dropping on its back and stabbing it with a knife."

Just then, the two heard a blood-curdling cry as a savage-looking humanoid, naked but for a loin cloth, dropped from an overhanging branch onto the beast's back and began stabbing it repeatedly with a flashing blade.

"There!" said Spock. "That must be the cause of the pain!"

"We must protect horta at all costs," exclaimed Kirk, drawing his weapon and pointing it at the attacker. "Phasers on full stun."

~ Bridge

10. An Encounter in the Desert
  It had been a long time since Tarzan had attempted to cross a desert without so much as a canteen looped with a thong around the hilt of his father's hunting knife, and thus he was beginning to feel the physical effects of his long trek and, in addition, high in the sky was the circling form of Ska the buzzard.

  Well he remembered a previous occasion when he had lured Ska down, close enough for him to grab, kill and eat the scavenger, and survive. But the flesh of Ska was not desirable and Tarzan was not yet at such a point that he was ready to partake of it.

  At least he thought not.

  As the day pressed on, and the sun ascended higher into the sky, he began to feel woozy and in a way that fooled him into not realizing what was actually happening to him. In fact, he was feeling a kind of euphoria so that, even when he pitched forward and landed with a thunk in the soft sand, he did not fully comprehend what was occurring and, in his delirious and hallucinatory state, began to move his hands into the warm earth as though embracing the soft body of his mate.

  Tarzan was well on his way to becoming a clinical case of disorientation and was essentially, helpless. But he was saved from a visit from Ska merely due to the fact that he had been overcome late in the afternoon. And, before Ska felt it was safe enough to venture down, the beginning of the cool evening had lowered the temperature slightly, just enough to cause the ape-man to stir.

  His senses returned and soon he was once again his old self. He realized with chagrin that he had actually been asleep and at the mercy of desert denizens. However, Ska was nowhere in sight.

  Tarzan had no way of knowing it, but his swoon was not entirely the result of a hot sun and paucity of water. Rather, it was a combination of unusual phenomenon which had come together at this time, and in this place, to cause an anomaly in time and space, one that would have a significant effect on the life of the ape-man. He arose and looked at the darkening sky. It was different somehow. Tarzan of the Apes was no astronomer, but long familiarity with his environment had impressed a sense upon his mind of the way the night sky was supposed to look, just the same as you and I, while perhaps unable to name, let alone spot, every constellation, would none-the-less notice immediately if confronted with  a radically different arrangement of heavenly bodies.

  In the distance Tarzan could see a prominent string of rocky land which he did not recall having seen before. However, it might offer a spring of fresh water or other shelter, and so he began heading toward it at a trot which he could keep up for hours.

  As he jogged on he was not fully aware that he was on another world and that the steady beat of his steps upon the surface were calling, summoning a massive unearthly creature of which Tarzan knew nothing.

  But soon, it became obvious that something was heading his way. In the distance he could see sand mounds moving on their own and  and feel the quaking of the ground as something unseen was obviously moving toward him.

  Although Tarzan did not know what was threatening him, he did know he would have to fight it. Drawing the hunting knife of his long-dead sire from its scabbard, he stood still, facing the as-yet unseen menace. And then, as he watched, it emerged from beneath the surface and he could see the giant round opening in the behemoth's front, encircled with row upon row of menacing teeth-like objects.

  The ape-man smiled grimly and clutched his knife tighter. He waited as the creature, which resembled an impossibly giant Histah, advanced upon him. He stood there until, to an observer, it would seem he had tarried too long. But this was Tarzan, and he knew what he was doing. When the gargantuan destructive machine was within feet of him, the ape-man ran quickly to the side and then along the length of the monster, which seemed to stretch as long as a pair of back-to-back Nairobi freights. Noticing the bark-like hide of the creature, he spotted footholds and quickly scaled the cylindrical body to its topmost point. Then, locating a vulnerable-looking spot between sections of the thing's layered hide, he stabbed his knife again and again into the opening  while the creature writhed in surprise and agony.

  At last, it stopped moving and lay still.

  Tarzan stood atop the beast and, lifting his head to the strangely arranged heavens, gave forth the victory cry of the bull ape.

  Having vanquished the foe, Tarzan leaped from atop the carcass of the dead thing and landed lightly on his feet. To his surprise, he saw that a group of men had surrounded him. They wore dark clothing that appeared to be survival suits of some kind although their design was unfamiliar to the ape-man.

  "He has slain a big one, Muad'dib," spoke one.

  "Yes, Stilgar," replied the one whom he had addressed. "He shall pay dearly."

  "You make it sound as if I have committed a crime by defending myself," said Tarzan. "Who dares challenge Tarzan and what is that crime?"

  "Who we are is not important," said his adversary. "But as for your crime, you have upset the delicate ecological balance of Arrakis. Now, you shall die by my kris knife."

  The aggressor produced a wicked-looking blade. Tarzan smiled grimly, still holding in his hand the perfectly balanced hunting knife of his long-dead sire.

   The one called Muad'dib began moving toward him. "Soon we shall harvest your water," he said, "and the dried husk of your body will crumble to dust and mingle with the soil of Arrakis to replace what you have taken."

  "Well I'll be Duned if you do," said Tarzan, bringing his own blade to the ready.

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