RUDOLPH'S AFRICAN ADVENTURE 1/6:
Chapter 1 -- Reining in Rudolph
Neither Mr. or Mrs. Claus, nor any of the elves, would
say anything about it, and Santa even went out of his way to speak highly
of the lead reindeer's abilities, but the truth was that Rudolph was no
Yes, he had been greatly needed that foggy Christmas
Eve so many years ago when, with his shiny nose -- so bright -- he had
guided Santa's sleigh on its rounds so children of the world would not
And, his glowing nose had led the way on many a
subsequent foggy night as well.
But technology had caught up to, and bypassed,
the red-nosed reindeer. Santa not only had his sleigh equipped with GPS,
but he also carried a laptop that was tied into various websites with maps
and directions. Then there was Santa's personal radar set, which was attuned
to tracking dishes around the world.
Nonetheless, Santa being a traditionalist and a
very nice man, kept Rudolph in the lead position of the reindeer team each
Dec. 24, and always had good things to say about the creature's abilities.
The other reindeer, though, were not fooled. They
knew that Rudolph's skills and, therefore, Rudolph himself, were no longer
needed., And they had begun to laugh among themselves and even called Rudolph
names, although, knowing that Santa's elves spied on them as well as the
children of the world, they tried to walk a line so that their taunts were
just barely passable.
And while Rudolph, technically, was still allowed
to play in reindeer games, he sensed the hostility of the others and, after
a time, began to absent himself voluntarily, usually pleading a headache.
Yes, Rudolph was no fool. He knew the score. And
it generated within him a deep sadness.
One day Rudolph could stand it no longer. He said
to his friend, Willy the Arctic Fox, "I don't want to stay where I'm no
longer appreciated. I'm leaving. I'm going as far away from here as I can.
I'm going to Africa."
And without another word, the little fellow turned
and leaped into the sky on a southward heading.
Willy, a tear in his eye, watched until the glowing
snout was out of sight.
Next: The Hunger of Histah
RUDOLPH'S AFRICAN ADVENTURE 2/6:
Chapter 2 -- The Hunger of Histah
Tarzan of the Apes was sitting in the fork of a large tree,
scratching his back on the rough bark, when he caught the unmistakable
scent of Bara the Deer, although there was something different, yet
familiar, about this smell. For some reason, it reminded him of Christmastime.
When the apeman thought of Christmas, he thought of all the delicious
foods Jane always prepared for that holiday. Even though Tarzan was
still an ape at heart, and he loved nothing better than insects and
raw meat, he had developed a taste over the years for the types of
special goodies that Jane concocted at Christmastime.
Now, feeling a bit of an appetite, Tarzan decided he might
like to have a little snack of Bara, and the one now coming into range
would do just fine.
But then a new scent tickled the ape-man's nose hairs;
it was the revolting smell of Histah the snake -- Histah the python,
in this particular case.
Below, on the forest floor, Bara the deer, in the
person of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, stood staring in fright
as the huge snake stared at him while slithering closer preparatory
to getting itself into position for the strike. Rudolph was unfamiliar
with snakes, as there were none at the North Pole, but he sensed
that this unusual-looking living creature was no friend. Just what,
exactly, it might do to him, he had no clue, and he didn't even have
sense enough to run. He just froze, like a deer in the proverbial
headlights, quivering in nameless dread.
Histah's heat sensors had homed in on the extra
bright red light of Rudolph's nose. In actuality, Rudolph as a whole
was nothing more than a bright red blob to Histah, signaling to his
poor snake eyesight that there was something which lived and breathed
and was, therefore, food. The little section of extra bright red
light meant nothing to the nearly brainless Histah, other than that
it had caught his attention and he was now focused on it.
Histah was now close enough and he began coiling up, then
cocked his head section back slightly, like a spring ready to be
Next: How Histah Became History
RUDOLPH'S AFRICAN ADVENTURE 3/6:
Chapter 3 -- How Histah Became History
To Tarzan of the apes, Bara the deer was prey.
But also, to Tarzan, Histah the snake was
a despicable enemy, good only for destroying.
As Histah was about a second away from opening
his slavering jaws and snapping his head forward to close on his
intended prey with hundreds of needle-like teeth, the huge snake suddenly
noticed a tightening around his neck area, the disappearance of the red
blob, and a sensation new to Histah, that of rising into the air.
Above, Tarzan hauled on his grass rope, with
which he had dropped a lasso about the head of the malevolent constrictor
and then, tightening the noose, had began drawing it up toward him.
With Histah's head finally about 10 feet
below him, Tarzan quit pulling the rope, but still holding a section
of it, began climbing further up the arboreal giant. At last he reached
a height where the branches were having difficulty supporting his weight.
Here, he hauled Histah up the rest of the way until he could look
directly into the dark eyes of the monster.
"Hi, Histah," said Tarzan.
"Bye, Histah," said Tarzan, cutting the rope
with the hunting knife of his long dead sire.
The snake began dropping to the ground, 200
feet below, crashing into limbs along the way. So unusual was this
treatment it was receiving that the snake did not even think -- if it thought
at all -- to attempt to slow its fall by snagging a passing limb
with its sinuous body.
At last the snake, bruised and beaten, crashed
through the final set of limbs and landed with an ominous thunk on the
hard ground. Though not quite dead, Histah had received enough damage
that he was dying. Already, giant jungle ants were coming out of
their holes and advancing toward the writhing creature.
So fast had all of this happened that Rudolph
had not had even given a thought to moving. Then, another whump sounded
as a tall man, naked but for a loin cloth, landed beside him. Here was
something Rudolph understood -- people. And all of the people Rudolph
had met, up until this time, were friendly.
The giant man reached down and scooped him
up and carried him through the upper terraces until at last the forest
dissolved into a clearing and bright lights beckoned from the windows of
a human habitation. For a moment, Rudolph thought he was back at the cozy
home of Santa, but he soon realized this place was different.
"Look what I found," said Tarzan. "A little
pet deer for you, Jane."
"Oh Tarzan," she said. "He's so cute.” She
reached out to pet him and then, unable to resist his doe-like eyes
and soft fur, cradled him in her arms and began kissing him.
"What shall we call him, dear?" she asked.
"I think he already has a name," said Tarzan.
"See, it's there on the tattoo he's got on his rear end."
Jane looked at the words and read: "Rudolph."
"Why Tarzan," said Jane. "This is the red-nosed
reindeer, the one who has gone down in history. What's he doing here?"
"That I don't know," said Tarzan. He turned
to Rudolph and the reindeer told his story, thanks to the magic of Santa,
which had enabled him to understand and speak some English, and to
the ape man’s uncanny ability to speak the languages of the wild
"Well, I'm sure Santa is missing you," said
Tarzan. "You're welcome to stay here as long as you want, but since
you have Santa's brand on your thigh, I do need to honor his right of ownership
and at least send him an email so he'll know you're here. I'm sure he and
Mrs. Claus are very worried about you."
Next: Jad-bal-ja on the Prowl
RUDOLPH'S AFRICAN ADVENTURE 4/6:
Chapter 4 -- Jad-bal-ja on the Prowl
Jad-bal-Ja, The Golden Lion, who was Tarzan's faithful companion,
was given a quarter of raw beef every day, so he didn't lack for sustenance.
But, like the Tyrannosaurus Rex in Jurassic Park, Jad-bal-ja didn't want
to be fed -- he wanted to hunt.
Jad-bal-ja was no young, inexperienced lion. He well knew
his way around the jungle, and knew the ways of the jungle as well. He
had been aware from the very first that Bara the Deer was now freely scampering
around the Greystoke Estate in British East Africa. But the mighty king
of the beasts knew better than to attack this Bara and drag him off into
the bushes, for he remembered the sharp raps on the nose he had gotten
from the haft of Tarzan's spear during his training, and did not wish to
relive the experience.
That The Golden Lion was eyeing him hungrily had not gone
unnoticed by Rudolph.
There were no cats at the North Pole. Mrs. Claus had begged
for a kitty but Santa wouldn't stand for one to be in the house. Among
other things, he had been worried about it wreaking havoc with the cute
Christmas mice, who sometimes assisted the elves.
But, from children's storybooks dished out by Santa, Rudolph
was well aware that such prowling creatures existed and he recognized
in Jad-bal-ja the cat of his nightmares.
So Rudolph tended to do his romping in daylight, when
Tarzan, Jane or the Waziri were around to keep Jad-bal-ja in check. But
he was loath to go out at night or when the estate was otherwise barren
of protective humans.
It seemed inevitable, though, that there would come a
day when Rudolph would not be on his guard, and when Jad-bal-ja's patience
would pay off.
Tarzan, meanwhile, was out in the jungle as usual, enjoying
a midnight swing through the trees. Suddenly his eye was caught by strange
activity in the distant sky. It was some kind of flying object, with running
lights, and it seemed to be headed toward the Greystoke ranch.
“It must be Santa," thought Tarzan, "coming to try to
talk Rudolph into going back to the North Pole.”
Tarzan turned and headed back home. He wanted to get there
in time to welcome the Jolly Old Elf.
Next: Horror from the Hollyhocks
RUDOLPH'S AFRICAN ADVENTURE 5/6:
Chapter 5 -- The Horror from the Hollyhocks
The great lion had been lying in Jane's bed of hollyhocks,
which were at the peak of their growth. He had been there a long time,
partly because, like all male lions, Jad-bal-ja had a touch of laziness,
and partly because Jad-bal-ja, having been trained by Tarzan, had learned
to be patient, very patient.
And now, he could hear the thumpity-thump of his potential
prey coming closer to the flowers, and he could see, through his surroundings
of leaves and stalks, the glow of that bright, shiny organ.
With the natural-born instinct of the great cats, he knew
the precise moment when the stars were aligned and it was just the right
time for an attack. Giving out a thundering roar to temporarily paralyze
his intended victim with fright, he leaped through the bushes and grabbed
the hapless creature, gave it a couple of rough shakes, and then greedily
When Tarzan got back to Greystoke Manor, Jane was frantic.
"I can't find Rudolph anywhere," she said, "and I know Jad's been watching
him like a hawk...I mean, like a ravenous kitty cat."
Tarzan had a tightness in his own gut as well, but tried
to hide it from Jane. "I'm sure he'll turn up," he said.
When Jane had gone back into the house, Tarzan did some
exploring of his own. His nose told him where fresh blood had been spilt
and he saw the matted grass and footprints around the Hollyhocks.
He called to Jad and, in a few moments, the mighty lion
made his way slowly through the bushes. Tarzan was not sure if he actually
saw an expression of guilt on Jad's face for just a moment, but he certainly
noticed the huge yawn, which male lions traditionally make before settling
down to sleep off a huge repast. And deep inside that cavernous throat
Tarzan could glimpse a red glow, throbbing off and on like a light at a
Tarzan folded his arms and glared down at the lion. "So,"
he said, "I save you from certain death, I train you, I feed you, I give
you the run of the place, and this is how you repay me?"
Now Jad did look guilty.
At that moment, Tarzan felt something warm poke him in
the back. Like lightning he turned and gave whatever it was a karate chop.
Then, he realized it was Rudolph as he saw the unconscious form of the
deer lying on the turf. He knelt and picked it up and gave it artificial
respiration and soon Rudolph was moving, opening his eyes, and looking
"Well, you're alive at least," said Tarzan.
But then he remembered Jad-bal-ja.
He turned and looked once again at his lion, who appeared
to actually be a little bit sick, as if he had consumed something which
had not quite agreed with him.
He could still see the pulsating red, now faintly visible
through the tawny hide of Jad's brawny side.
Then something several yards behind Jad caught Tarzan's
eye. He saw the crumpled wreckage of what was obviously a small alien
"What the heck's going on," thought Tarzan.
As if in answer, he heard a voice coming from out of the
lion's mouth -- not a lion sound at all, but a sound not quite human, and
yet with elements of humanity. The words it was saying over and over again
were understandable enough, though they were gradually decreasing in volume:
“Phone home.....phone home......”
Next: The Fat Man Again
RUDOLPH'S AFRICAN ADVENTURE 6/6:
Chapter 6 -- The Fat Man Again
Tarzan of the Apes was not like other men.
Others might have wasted time in futilely mourning the
demise of an innocent creature from outer space. But Tarzan knew
that there was not much point in doing that since it was over and
done. He was more concerned about Jad contracting some strange virus
from having consumed an inhabitant of unknown origin from a planet
with strange bacteria.
He was also concerned about Rudolph. He turned his attention
to the red-nosed reindeer. "We need to get you back up to the house,
little guy," he said gently. "Jane is worried sick about you. Besides,
Santa ought to be here soon."
Rudolph gulped. He was not all that anxious to be
confronted by Santa. Well, he remembered the sharp raps on his nose with
the haft of Santa's whip during his training time. Rudolph had been
born with a nose that was naturally red and shiny, but Santa's disciplinary
maneuvers had assured that it would stay that way.
Jane had a bowl of warm milk waiting for Rudolph and,
as he eagerly lapped it up, she sweetened it by dumping some Kellogg's
Frosted Flakes into the dish.
Then, in a twinkling, Rudolph heard on the roof the heavy
footsteps of eight aged and somewhat overweight reindeer. He knew it
would be only seconds before Santa would be coming down the chimney to
get him. What should he say to Santa? What could he possibly say to
apologize for running away and for all the trouble he had put Santa to
in making this special trip to retrieve him?
But a little time in the jungle amidst fierce predators
had made Rudolph forget a bit about what a kind, gentle soul Santa
could also be. A moment later, the big man himself was standing there,
running his fingers through his flowing beard in a foredoomed attempt
to remove flecks of chimney cinders. Jane knew she would be breaking
out the carpet sweeper after he left.
"Ho ho ho, Rudolph," exclaimed Santa. "I hope you're ready
to come back to the North Pole with me and lead the team again this
year. You know, that radar and GPS is nice, but a lot of times it
helps to have someone along who has eyes...and a nose. Ho Ho Ho."
Rudolph tried to look as if he were happy to see Santa.
"At least you're not always saying, 'recalculating,' "
"And don't worry about the other reindeer giving you a
bad time anymore," said Santa. "A few sharp raps on their noses from
the haft of my whip have made them adjust their attitudes."
Rudolph's face lit up in a broad grin.
"Well," Santa said, turning to Tarzan and Jane. "I guess
Rudolph and I better git back to the North Pole. Thanks for everything!"
Santa turned to go, but was halted by a firm had on his
shoulder. He stopped and turned around slowly to gaze into the grim
expression on the face of the Lord of the Jungle.
"Aren't you forgetting something Santa?" asked Tarzan.
"Oh, sorry," said Santa, fumbling for words. He reached
into his pocket. "I guess I do owe you something for room and board."
"No," said Tarzan. "I wouldn't think of charging you for
that. You just forgot our Christmas lists." Jane smiled and handed
her list to Tarzan, who handed both his and Jane's list to Santa.
The red-clad gent laughed loudly as he took the lists
and stuffed them into his pocket.
“Ho ho ho, no, I wouldn't want to forget those," he said.
Rudolph wagged his tail in farewell as he followed Santa
to the chimney.
Santa was probably, once again, just being a nice guy
by saying he really needed him to guide his sleigh, but Rudolph was
ready to go back. It would be nice to be, once again, in a place
where a bunch of meat-eaters weren't constantly stalking him for
their next meal.
And meanwhile, thousands of miles away, in the bitter
cold of the North Pole winter, Willy the Arctic fox contemplated
his shrunken belly and wished he could warm it with the blood of