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ERB 100-Word Drabbles
by Robert Allen Lupton
SHIPS PASSING IN THE NIGHT
Today is December 1 and on this date in 1942, Edgar Rice Burroughs accompanied Army artillery Captain Bird on a reconnaissance mission in Hawaii. Today's drabble, "Ships Passing In the Night." remembers the moment.
Tarzan, aka John Clayon of the RAF, met three of his Liberator bomber, The Lovely Lady, crew mates in Hawaii a week after Thanksgiving in 1942. He, Jerry Lucas, Bubnovitch, and "Shrimp" Rosetti, walked off a heavy breakfast along the shore.
A recon patrol stopped. An officer said, “Captain Bird, Oklahoma City. You men see anything suspicious.”
“Clayton, RAF. No, nothing.”
Tarzan asked, ‘Lucas, there was an old civilian in that jeep.”
“Famous writer turned war correspondent.”
“Really, what’s he written?”
“Man raised in the jungle. Green men on Mars. You know, fiction.”
“No, I don’t. Never cared for fiction.”
MELON OR MACHETE
Today is December 2 and on this day in 1916, All-Story Magazine released part three of "Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar." The drabble today is "Melon or Machete?"
Lieutenant Albert Werper killed his captain and deserted.
Achmet Zek, an Arab, found him in the jungle. “I trade in slaves and ivory. I need a white man to pose as a hunter. We go to steal the apeman’s wife. We’ll burn his home and enslave his people.”
“I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that.”
Zek sharpened his machete. “Eat and think about it.”
Werper wolfed down the food. He agreed and joined the Arabs.
“Life’s strange,” he thought. “I’ve become a slave trader for the price of a casaba melon and a bowl of stringy jungle meat with yams
WHAT MEANS TUR
December 3 and on this date in 1984, Shakeela Bano Bhopali, an actress who appeared in "Rocket Tarzan" and "Tarzan and Hercules" was poisoned during the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India. She later died from her injuries. On a lighter note, today's drabble is "What Means Tur." Burroughs used the name Tur in two books. Tur was a fake Barsoomian god and a prehistoric chief in "The Eternal Lover."
Nat-al and Nu, son of Nu, were separated during an earthquake. Nu was captured by Tur and his tribe, but escaped with the assistance of Tur’s mate, Gron and Nu.
The captive Nu said, “Why you dress in the skins of cows. Are you afraid to hunt lions and long-toothed cats?”
Tur’s mate, Gron, laughed and Tur beat her.
Nu sneered, “Fight me. Only cowards beat women.”
“Tur not coward. Tomorrow, Tur burn you at the stake.”
Nu replied, “And I’ll be dead, but you’ll still be a coward.”
“Tur no coward. Tur is Tur.”
“Only if Tur means coward.”
GO WITH THE FLOW
December 4, 2018 and on this date in 1915, All-Story Magazine published the first part of "Son Of Tarzan. In 1942, Hulbert Burroughs was promoted to First Lieutenant and spent the night with ERB in Hawaii.The drabble today is "Go With The Flow."
Tarzan and Korak watched the safari parade through the dense jungle. Natives cleared the way with machetes and others carried seemingly endless boxes of supplies.
Korak said, “You carry a knife and a rope. I have the same. They need so much and we need so little.”
“They plan for everything. They’re wrong. The jungle doesn’t care about their plans.”
“It doesn’t care about our plans either.”
“We don’t fight the jungle. We take what it gives us, good and bad. Better to be friends with the jungle, than to defy it. It never rests and it’s a harsh taskmaster.
UNDER THE MASK
It's December 5 and on this day in 1915, Edgar Rice Burroughs completed HRH, The Rider. In honor of that event, today's drabble is 'Under The Mask."
Prince Boris of Karlova captured the highwayman, The Rider, on his way to the disreputable tavern, Peter’s Inn. He took the captured thief to the Inn to impress his friends. The charming Rider regaled the tavern with tales of adventure and prowess.
“I’ll make a better highwayman than you.”
The Rider said, “Princes are born, but daring and skill make highwaymen.”
The two agreed to change places.
Boris said, “Anyone can pretend to be a masked man, but everyone knows my face.”
“Prince or thief – we’ll play our roles and your friends will judge our skill.”
“What could go wrong?” Under the Mask
OFF THE MENU
Today is December 6 and on this date in 1928, Edgar Rice Burroughs began writing "Tarzan At The Earth's Core." The drabble today is "Off The Menu." and is accompanied by J. Allen St. John artwork.
Mya, the Mahar queen, and her mate, Myo, waded into the feeding pool. The Sagoths held a female human while Myo captured her mind. The female fought mentally and Myo’s mind joined the battle. The woman broke their mental hold, screamed defiance, grabbed a long pole, and struggled forward.
“I’ll kill you both before I you eat me alive.”
A dozen Sagoth guards intercepted her. She struck Myo before the Sagoths killed her.”
Mya said, “That’s the third time this week. They’re stronger and more defiant. Could be outside agitators.”
“No, they just don’t like being eaten.”
“Bite your tongue.”
FIGHT FOR HIGH GROUND
Today is December 7 and on this date in 1941, John Carter of Mars illustrated by John Coleman Burroughs United Feature Syndicate was published in 1941, the same day that ERB and Hulbert are eyewitnesses to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Today's drabble is 'Fight From High Ground."
John Carter and Tars Tarkas peered at the Warhoons encamped in an abandoned city.
Tarkas said, “Let’s surround them and trap them here.”
Carter said, “No, they have food and a well. They’ll outlast us. They’ll eat and sleep well while we forage daily and sleep on cold desert sands.”
“They will starve.”
“No, we’ll starve first.”
“Then we attack now.”
“No, we fight when place and numbers are on our side.
“Are Virginians afraid of battle?”
“Nope, afraid of stupid. Battles are won with speed and planning, not by waiting for your enemy to starve or by suicidal attacks.”
SILENCE IS GOLDEN
Today is the 8th of December and on this date in 1913, Jane Ralston Burroughs was born. She posed for John Coleman (as Dejah Thoris) and co-wrote pulp adventures with her husband, John Coleman Burroughs, and her brother-in-law Hulbert. The drabble today is "Silence is Golden".
The German infantry squadron camped for the night across the Luthan border. The Luthan lieutenant who’d spotted the force reported to Barney Custer, AKA King of Lutha.
“There’s about three hundred. We can be ready to attack at sunrise.”
“What are they doing?”
“They made camp last night. They filled their canteens from a large pond. The water’s contaminated with dead bodies and runoff from a dairy farm. Not fit to drink.”
A captain said, “We should warn them.”
Custer said, “Not at all. This is war and when your enemy does himself harm, be silent and let him proceed.”
Today is December 9 and on this date in 1929, Universal Studios released Tarzan the Tiger. Today's drabble honors the film. Enjoy "Wardrobe Malfunction."
Frank Merrill said, “I hate this stupid fake leopard skin headband. It make me look like I’m wearing a diseased rat on my head.”
Director Henry McRae replied, “It’s part of your costume.”
“Not in the books and it keeps slipping over my eyes. I’ve fallen out of the trees three times. Jackie the lion tries to eat it.”
“I’ll tell wardrobe to tighten it.”
“Natalie doesn’t have to wear one.”
“Natalie’s prettier than you.”
“She pulls it over my eyes when I kiss her.”
“Don’t blame her. If she had a headband, Miss Kingston would cover her own eyes.
WHEN THE SLEEPERS AWAKE
Today is December 10 and Edgar Rice Burroughs spent this day in 1947 correcting the proofs for the first edition of Llana of Gathol. Today's drabble is "When the Sleepers Awake."
John Carter killed the old hypnotist, Lum Tar O, and Carter’s bespelled companion, Pan Dan Chee and thousands of sleeping Orovars awakened.
Carter’s granddaughter, Llana of Gathol, was among them. She asked, “How could these people sleep this long.”
Carter replied, “Time doesn’t treat everyone the same. I, myself, have never known my age.”
Pan Dan Chee said, “Life is meant to be lived, not dreamed away.”
“I imagine the differences between sleep and death are only discernible to those who are neither asleep nor dead.”
The ancient Orovars crumbled to dust. Llana said, “I discern that they’re dead now.”
December 11, 2018 and on this date in 1915, All-Story magazine published part Two of "The Son of Tarzan." The drabble today is "Don't Complain."
Constant Reader bought Edgar Rice Burroughs a drink in the Honolulu bar. “I didn’t read your books in order. I just finished “The Son of Tarzan. I’m confused.”
“Based upon the book’s timeline, he’d be too young to help Tarzan fight during World War 1.”
“You didn’t have a problem with Tarzan being raised by apes, killing lions with his bare hands, and teaching himself to read, but Jack’s birthday bothers you.”
“You make me sound silly.”
“Time is flexible in my books. Pellucidar has no time and Barsoomians live almost forever. Stop whining and buy me another drink.”
CARRY A BIG STICK
December 13: On this date in 1941, first of a series Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Laugh It Off" columns appeared in the Honolulu Advertiser and Star-Bulletin. Today's drabble is "Carry a Big Stick."
The native women beat the wheat with sticks to separate the grain from the chaff. Nkima found a stick of his own. He broke nuts open his stick. He used it to keep mosquitoes and flies away.
He chased away other monkeys with a sharp rap on the nose. He told Tarzan, ‘I’m king of the jungle.”
He crept up on a sleeping lion and hit him between the eyes. The lion roared, slapped the stick out of Nkima’s hand, and chased him up a tree.”
Tarzan laughed, “Some problems only get worse if you hit them with a stick.”
THE KING'S ENGLISH
December 14: On this date in 1914, All-Story Weekly published part one of H. R. H. The Rider. The drabble today is "The King's English." No offense to my friends and family in England.
Tarzan asked, “Jane, why people use initials instead of the words?”
“Whatever do you mean?”
They say HMS, not His or Her Majesty’s Ship. HRH means His Royal Highness and RAF means Royal Air Force.”
“They’re acronyms. The first letters of the words in the title.”
“Jane, I know, but don't know why. People don’t call my lion, JBDTGL.”
“I suppose it works for somethings, but not for others. No one really decides.”
“I’ll call a man who does so, BUMMI, Brit Using Many Meaningless Initials.”
“Oh Tarzan, I do wish you wouldn’t.”
“I considered Acronyms Sound Stupid, Extremely Stupid.”
THE KING'S ENGLISH, PART TWO
December 15: On this date in 1918, Collier's Magazine rejected Edgar Rice Burroughs' story, "The Little Door." The violent story was never published, but is available on ERBzine. Today's drabble is "The King's English, Part Two."
Tarzan admired the first edition of Beasts of Tarzan. “Jane, I really like the interior artwork. This St. John guy is a great artist.”
“It’s lovely. This is the American edition, but we’re in England and the British don’t say St. John, they say Sinjin.”
“Sin like bad behavior and gin like the drink?”
‘No, it’s a contraction of his name. Like the words, don’t, can’t, and wasn’t”
“You shouldn’t shorten a man’s name, it’s disrespectful. I don’t want people to call me Jayclay or any such nonsense.”
“They’d never do that. You’re a lord.”
“And J. Allen’s a saint.”
THE KING'S ENGLISH, PART THREE
Today is December 16 and on this date in 1916, All-Story Weekly published part five of Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar. Today's 100 word drabble is "The King's English Part Three."
Jane said, “I love grey horses. There were two in this race and I’m happy that one won.”
Tarzan asked, “Why’s “one” pronounced like “won”. I thought “one” should be pronounced like “bone,” but there’s no “W” there, either. Where’s the “W”?
“The “W” is silent, like the ‘H” in honour.”
“Letters shouldn’t waste their time hiding silently like a snake inside a word where they aren’t needed. The mangani speak every letter in every word. I think I know what happened to the “W” that belongs in “one”. They put in inside of “two,” where it isn’t even needed.”
Today is December 17 and on this date in 1962, the John Celardo Tarzan Daily comic strip, "Tarzan and the Captive Pilot" began. Today's drabble. "Captive Pilot," honors that event.
The general said, “Tarzan, a pilot is lost in the jungle. I don’t know if he’s alive. Help us."
‘Here’s where his plane was when we lost contact.”
“Cannibal territory, we should hurry. They don’t keep prisoners for long.”
During the search, Tarzan saved a pygmy before he located village holding the captive pilot.
The escape was in jeopardy when the pygmies intervened and saved the day.
The pilot asked, “Why did they help us.”
“Good things come in small packages. An eye for an eye and a life for a life is not always a bad motto."
PICK YOUR FIGHTS
December 18 and on this date in 1915, All-Story Magazine published part three of "The Son of Tarzan." Today's drabble, "Pick Your Fights," honors that event.
Akut and Korak followed the Dun-Dum drums and located a tribe of Mangani. Akut said to the king ape, “I’m Tarzan’s friend. This is his son. We would join your tribe.”
The King said, “No, Tarzan gone long time. I’m king.”
Korak, weary from rejection by native tribes and civilized people, attacked the king.
He injured the king, but other Mangani came to the King’s protection. Akut carried Korak away.
“Son of Tarzan, let not anger choose your battles. That way lies death. Today, they are many and you are few. Even the lion doesn’t attack a pack of hyenas.”
December 19 and on this date in 1936, ERB submitted an idea for a radio showing starring himself “I see by the Papers." Unfortunately, the show was never produced. The 100 word drabble of the day is "Future Foretold."
Edgar Rice Burroughs sent his idea for a radio show, “I See By The Papers,” to a radio station. “I’ll play a Tarzana Tribune columnist and discuss the news with celebrities.”
The station manager asked, “Have you ever been on the radio?”
“I’ve been interviewed a few times.”
“Have you ever done the interviews?”
“No, but it doesn’t seem that hard.”
“Said like someone who’s never done it. Have you ever been a columnist for a newspaper?”
“Mr. Burroughs, I believe we’ll pass.”
“Your loss. I haven’t been a columnist, but I’m confident I will be. I will be.”
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December 20 and on this date in 1931, the Hal Foster, George Carlin and R. W. Palmer Tarzan Sunday strip, “Hawk of the Desert” concluded. Today's drabble, "Fencing Lesson", honors that story'
The Mountain Chieftain captured D’Arnot, Lieutenant Carnot, and Tarzan. He told his men, “Sell these cowards to the slave traders.”
Tarzan said, “You speak bravely around bound captives. Free me and fight or live knowing your cowardice.”
“I’m not afraid.”
He ordered his men to free Tarzan and tossed him a saber. “Can you use this?”
“Never liked swords. Don’t like firearms either.”
The chief attacked with a fast overhead slash. Tarzan blocked the strike and disarmed his opponent.
“I thought you said that you didn’t like swords.”
“So I did, but I didn’t say that I couldn’t use one.”
SPLIT THE BOOTY
December 21, 2018 and the year draws to a close. On this date in 1918, All- Story Weekly published part two of H. R. H. The Rider. Today's drabble revisits Tarzan's Quest. It's called "Split the Booty."
“These pills will make us live forever,” asked Annette?
“At least until we run out of them,” said Jane.
“I’ll divide the supply equally. A share each for me, Jane, Brown, Annette, Tibbs, and Nkima.”
Brown complained, “That’s six shares. I only count five people.”
“Nkima, my monkey, gets a share.”
“That’s not fair,” said Tibbs.
“I know,” said Tarzan. “Nkima lives here and you’re just an uninvited visitor, but he and I talked it over and he said to give you a full share.”
“Best take what you get. If you complain too much, he’ll change his mind.”
Today is December 22 on on this date in 1951,the Bob Lubbers drawn and Dick Van Buren written Tarzan daily strip, “Tarzan and the Pirates" concluded after a run of 58 days. Today's 100 word drabble is "Playing Pirate."
Tarzan escaped the pirate ship, swam ashore, and encountered the local police. They asked, “You a pirate?”
“No, I just escaped from them.”
“We must stop them. They raid our village and steal our women. Their lair is in a cave protected by a well-guarded oceanic channel. Several men died trying.”
Tarzan watched the currents and the winds. “I have a plan."
Warriors hidden in wooded casks and others breathing through hollow weeds drifted with Tarzan into the cave on the tide. They ambushed and defeated the pirates.
Tarzan said, “Sometimes you have to be better pirates than the pirates.”
December 23 and on this date in 1922, Argosy All-Story Weekly published part three of Tarzan and the Golden Lion. Today's drabble is "Bearly Adequate." The spelling is intentional.
Shoz-Dijiji was separated from his war party. He was hungry and his prospects were grim. He fought and killed a bear. He gagged at the grisly prospect choking down the gristly flesh of the grizzly. It smelled gamey. He wiped away grit and grime and grimly took a bite.
He choked on the gristle, but his stomach thanked him. Bread would help, but he ran out of flour weeks ago and there wasn't a gristmill or grinding stone around. He told himself get a grip, don’t gripe. It’s better to eat the bear than to have the bear eat you.
Christmas Eve, December 24, and on this date in 1942, Edgar Rice Burroughs arrived in Sydney, Australia on a military plane. He was tired, wanted to rest, and wanted a haircut, but fans and the press wanted to talk with the famous author. Today's drabble is "Australia."
Edgar Rice Burroughs landed in Sydney, Australia and encountered a reporter immediately.
“Love your stories, Mr. Burroughs. None of them take place in Australia. Are you going to do research while you’re here? Any chance you’ll do a Tarzan in the Outback story?”
“Sorry, but I’m not here to write. I just want a haircut.”
“Australia’s got crocodiles, poisonous snakes, wild dingoes, and uncharted forests. I’m sure Tarzan would love an adventure down under.”
“No doubt, but I won’t write one. I tried before, but when I sit upside down the blood rushes to my head and makes me dizzy.”
ALL IS CALM
Merry Christmas, December 25, and on this date in 1911, Tarzan illustrator, Burne Hogarth, was born. Today's drabble is "All is Calm." and is sponsored by "The Donovan House."
Mary Donovan was traveling through the Texas panhandle on her way to Hendersville. They stopped and camped a day’s ride outside of Amarillo. The stars were bright and the moon was brighter. The wind was calm for the first time in a month.
Mary opened a trunk, removed tinsel and ribbons and decorated a mesquite tree.
The guide said, “What ya’ doing.”
“Maybe in Ireland, but Christmas don’t know Texas from fig pudding.”
"I brought Christmas with me. It’s Christmas where and when I say it’s Christmas. Start a fire. You’re gonna learn the words to “Silent Night.”
December 26, and on this date in 1976, the Russ Manning Sunday Page story line "Tarzan and the Farmers/White Settlers" concluded. I came within a heartbeat of not writing a drabble based on the story because the story mirrors a current political controversy. But then, I thought, Manning wrote this in 1976. So here's the drabble, which absolutely reflects the 1976 story line. Not taking sides, just saying . Here's "What Wall?"
Tarzan and the Waziri discovered a wall across Serai Gorge blocking the animal migrations. Boer farmers had squatted on Waziri land, built houses, plowed fields, and constructed a wall.
Tarzan said, “You can’t live here. The wall must be destroyed.”
“Savages don’t give me orders. We stay. So does our wall.”
Tarzan couldn't convince the farmer otherwise and he called Tantor.
Tantor trumpeted and hundreds of elephants attacked the Wall. It fell in seconds and water flooded the farming settlement.
Tarzan said, “Animals took your wall and the flood took your homes. A wise man never argues with the jungle.”
December 27, and on this date in 1931, Hal Foster and George Carlin Tarzan Sunday strip, “Tarzan’s First Christmas” one shot was published. The drabble today is "God Smack."
Dejah Thoris said, “John, we’ve killed most of our gods. Issus and Tur are dead. The Thern temples have fallen. Is it the same on your planet? When your gods grow troublesome, do good men kill them?”
“Not exactly, but many Jasoomians die in the name of some deity.”
“But do your Gods die?”
“They lose power. People forget them. The gods of Greece, Rome, and the Norsemen only exist as fairy tales.”
“But men didn’t kill them.”
“I don’t like that. I want my god where I can run a sword through him if he makes me mad.”
NOT AFRAID OF NO LION
December 28 and Albuquerque is buried under the heaviest snowfall in years, but on this date in 1935, the Rex Maxon-Don Garden daily Tarzan strip story . . .The Tarzan Twins concluded.
Strangely enough, the drabble today is "Not Afraid of No Lion."
Doc and Dick were lost in the jungle. Doc said, “Don’t worry.”
“I hear lions.”
“I’m not afraid of lions.”
“I hear crocodiles.”
“Stay with me, Dick. Don’t be afraid.”
Moments later, a lioness moved out of the foliage. She growled. The Tarzan Twins ran. The dodged around trees, jumped over streams, and followed animal trails. The lioness kept them in sight and waited for them to tire.
They found a tree with dangling vines and scampered to safety. Doc said, “I said don’t worry. I’m not afraid of no lion.”
“Then how come you beat me up the tree.”
DANCE FOR THE KING
December 29 and on this date in 1929, ERB completed The Dancing Girl of the Leper King (Jungle Girl). The drabble today is "Dance for The King."
Gordon killed a tiger and saved Fou-tan, a beautiful dancer for the Leper King.
“I owe you my life and should be grateful, but I was escaping the Leper King. Alive or dead, it didn’t matter.”
“What king is so evil that you would die to escape him?”
“The Leper King desires me. I’ll die before he touches me.
“Is the love of your king that frightening?”
“It is when dying from leprosy is the price.”
“I’ll help you.”
“You are a child in the jungle, but come along. If there’s another tiger, perhaps he’ll choose to eat you first.”
December 30th and on this date in 1922, Argosy All-Story Weekly published Tarzan and the Golden Lion Part 4. Honoring that event, today's drabble is "My Lion."
Tarzan, Jane, and Korak found an orphan lion cub. The male didn’t back down from the three humans.
Jane said, “He’s just skin and bones. We should feed him.”
Korak replied, “Brave, too."
“Feeding him once won’t help. I’ll take him with me and teach him to hunt and feed himself,” said Tarzan.
Jane asked, “Won’t that be dangerous. Look how big his feet are. He’ll be huge and he won’t be a house cat, he’ll always be a lion.”
Korak fed the lion some deer. “Right, he’ll always be a lion.”
Tarzan said, “Yes, but he’ll be my lion,"
THE MIGHTY FALLEN
2018.31 and we say goodbye to 2018. On this date in 1915, Street and Smith copyrighted "Beyond Thirty". Today's drabble "The Mighty Fallen," takes us to Grubitton.
Jefferson Turck and his men made landfall on the English coast. The cities were ravaged from old wars and the natives had regressed to primitive people fighting to survive by living off the land.
A war party captured Turck and his men. They called their homeland, Grubitton and had no memories of the Great Wars or their proud heritage.
Taylor, a seaman said, “They’re savages dressed in animal skins and carrying salvaged weapons.”
Turck said, “Without history and civilization, most people are but six meals away from anarchy. Let this be a lesson less we descend into the selfsame abyss.”
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