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Volume 7473
John Martin

1 -- An Encore at Skor's
2 -- Color Amidst the Creeps
3 -- Into the Maw
4 -- Ties That Bind
5 -- All's Willy That Ends Willy

1 -- An Encore at Skor's

"Do you really think we should be going to a Halloween party at Skor's old castle?" asked Duare as she guided the Anotar over the orchid, heliotrope and violet forests of Noobol toward Morov. "You remember the things that happened last time we were there."

"Yes," said Carson. "I remember you taking off in the middle of the night and leaving me to fend for myself."

"Well," said Duare icily, "but what else could I do? I thought maybe I could get back to Vepaja and send someone to rescue you. But even if I had, you wouldn't have been there, since you ran off with that Nalte chick."

"All right. All right." said Carson. "We've been through that whole scenario a few dozen times and we each had our reasons for doing what we did. But it did work out, sweetie," he said, taking her chin in his right hand and planting a kiss on her lips.

"But I'm leery of going back to his castle in Morov, even though it's been renovated into an amusement park," she said.

"We've been over that, too," said Carson. "You know we were invited to be guests of honor at the annual Halloween banquet and Taman ordered me to go as an official diplomatic representative of Sanara.

"Anyway, there haven't been any problems since the park opened," said Carson, reassuring her. "After the Havatooans cleaned out Kormor, they sent a raiding party to the castle as well to sweep it of the rest of the zombies. Skor hasn't been heard from since and is presumed dead.

"The old castle and its grounds were sold to a private investment group which developed the Halloween theme park and it's entertained myriads of visitors since then."

"Yes, you and your Earth holidays," said Duare, rolling her eyes. "I don't know why you had to introduce your spooky candy and ghoul festival to this world. It's not as if there weren't enough death and destruction on Amtor already."

"Well, you have to admit, the idea caught on quickly," said Carson, smiling at what he had been able to accomplish since fate had deposited him on the Shepherd's Star.

The airstrip on the castle grounds came into view and Duare grabbed the yoke and put the Anotar on a direct course. "Coming in for a landing!" she chirped. Carson double-checked his seatbelt.

2 -- Color Amidst the Creeps

Resort employees in full zombie regalia
Occasioinally, one of the beasts would burst out from the webbing

Carson gritted his teeth and held his breath as Duare guided the Anotar in for a landing on the airstrip the resort owners had built for the Skor's Castle Halloween Park in Morov. She was actually an expert aviatrix and had proven her mettle on many occasions, but Carson still cringed at the thought of a woman plane driver.

Several resort employees, in full zombie regalia, greeted them, loaded their luggage onto a hearse and rolled the Anotar into a hangar. Carson and Duare walked up the winding pathway to the castle, admiring the grounds, which barely resembled the bleak, depressing landscape that had greeted them on their first visit. Still, it was not designed as a thing of beauty, since it had been repurposed as a great horror attraction, but at least it had some color -- various shades of orange benches and flowers, with light filtering through orange globes that were among the scary props in black and shades of grey, many trimmed in blood red.

They knew that the horrors here were manufactured for entertainment and not to do bodily harm to anyone. Actual tarel, from the giant Amtorian spiders, was spread cleverly along the path and occasionally one of the beasts which created such webbing-- animatronic, of course -- would burst out from the webbing and make as if to attack them.

From behind came a hoarse, wailing scream which almost froze them in their tracks. It was easily recognizable as the cry of the fierce kazars. They dared a glance behind them to see a pack of the slavering beasts on their tails. But then these, too, disappeared. Just another holographic illusion of the Halloween Park.

Zombie lookalikes were everywhere. "Hard to tell them from the real things," mused Carson, privately wondering what would happen if any real zombies tried to infiltrate the work force. He comforted himself with the thought that the genuine revenants did not have the brains to think of that idea and, even if they did, their body odor would probably give them away unless they had acquired some of the deodorant he had taught the Havatooans to manufacture.

Carson and Duare climbed the stone steps that led into Skor's Castle. At the entryway stood a man clad in a tuxedo who favored them with an evil grin and said, "Welcome to my house. Enter freely and of your own will."

3 -- Into the Maw

Duare shivered slightly as the gaunt, spectral vampiric-like doorkeeper bade them enter the castle.

“I know who Dracula is, since you told me the story," remarked Duare. "But most Amtorians can't really relate to it.”

“It doesn't matter," said Carson. "The character and greeting is creepy enough all by itself. Guests don't have to know the full story. However, the Havatooans are working on a translation of Stoker's original and it won't be long before they're printing copies on demand. You'll probably see some editions of it for sale in the castle souvenir shop next time we come. And it'll probably be available on amtorazon.kom.”

“If there is a next time," shuddered Duare. "I'm starting to get a bad feeling about this place.”

"You're just remembering what it was like before," said Carson, hoping his bravado would be contagious. However, he himself had begun to feel a cold chill creeping up his spine.
"Do you dare enter the Room of the Seven Doors?" came a taunting whisper from off to their right. The Kapdor torture chamber had been re-created for the Skor's Castle Halloween Park.

"Been there, done that," said Carson, urging Duare to hurry on toward the banquet room.

A maitre d' dressed as a Minuan fish man examined their banquet invitations and led them into the dining room where they were seated at the head of the table. "We honor the prince of Sanara and the janjong of Vepaja," he smiled, crudely wiping off flecks of algae from his mouth and smearing it onto his apron.

Carson and Duane sat down and smiled at the other guests. The costumes were amazing. There were some dressed as Brokolians;

"I hope they aren't so inconsiderate as to serve broccoli," Carson thought, chuckling to himself at his own little joke.

Kloonobargan and Klangan costumes were also in abundance, along with some get-ups of non-existent creatures dreamed up by various imaginative Amtorians, hoping to win first prize at the costume ball which was to follow the banquet.

Then Duare gasped as her head was yanked suddenly into the back of her chair.

4 -- Ties That Bind

Duare felt a tightening around her neck and the back of her noggin throbbed with pain. Panicking from the choking sensation, she started to reach up to the metal band that had clamped itself around her neck, but before she could react metal cuffs popped up and secured her wrists to the arms of her chair.

Before Carson realized what was happening to Duare, the same thing happened to him. Both of their upper bodies were immobilized by the restraints. They looked around in consternation and a growing apprehension as every other guest looked their way and began engaging in hideous laughter.

At that moment, a Skor lookalike, or what Carson at first thought was a lookalike, entered the room and glared in their direction.

'You thought you were finished with me after you escaped Kormor," he snarled. "But now that I'm fully recovered from the conk on the head, I have helped set up this elaborate amusement park to lure you and Duare here."

“Good night," said Carson, barely able to get the words out due to the pressure on his thorax. "That's no lookalike. That's Skor himself.”

“Oh, Carson," wailed Duare. "I'm so afraid.”

"You have good reason to be, my dear," sneered Skor. "For I shall now accomplish my nefarious scheme of making you, Duare, into my vadjong at last.

“And as for you, Carson, you will die a long, slow torturous death. We will start with your toes and work our way up, You will be able to experience the full range of excruciatingly painful tortures I have for you, and the medical practitioners on my payroll will be standing by to tend -- somewhat sloppily I might say -- to your wounds to keep them from being totally fatal...for awhile. Then, when you do die, your fetid corpse will be reanimated as one of my mindless zombies”

He broke into a rasping, haunting laugh which echoed around the room as the guests began to cry out, "Whoot! Whoot! Whoot!"

5 -- All's Willy That Ends Willy

Carson thought quickly. He had seldom used his mental powers to rescue himself from pickles on Amtor. The Earthling had an innate sense of fair play and preferred to pit his normal human wit and physical attributes against his Amtorian foes, who were not equipped with such extraordinary powers and abilities as his, which were far beyond those of Amtorian men.
But if there was ever a time to trot out his psychic abilities, now was the time.

"And which one of us are you going to start on first?" he asked defiantly.

Skor was startled to see a ring of Carson Napiers, swords in one hand and r-ray guns in the other, encircling the banquet room, weapons aimed at Skor and the others.

“Wha-- What's going on," cried Skor, suddenly sounding a lot less sure of himself. "What are all these Carsons? This cannot be!”

Duare caught on quickly and chimed in. "These are our children, you fool. We've had lots of babies over our long years of life on Amtor, and we were not stupid enough to come back to a place like this without a backup plan, resort or no resort."

Skor, coward at heart, turned and fled through the banquet room door. The other Amtorian misfits quickly scrambled after him.

The room was now empty except for Carson, Duare and the apparitions.

"Well, they sure got out of here fast," smiled Carson.

“Yes," said Duare, a new fear starting to show on her face as Carson allowed the ghostly figures to fade. "But those spirits can't undo these cuffs on our wrists and necks. What now?

“Uh....I don't know," admitted Carson. "Who knew they were going to come up with something like this?”

“Carson!" she cried in alarm. "Do something! Do something!”

"I'm thinking, Duare. I'm thinking," he said.

And that's when the room's ventilation shafts popped open and, apparently from the Room of the Seven Doors, the serpents started slithering in.

The End


Tarzan leaped from limb to limb, careful to avoid
Any branches on which deadly serpents were deployed
He caught the pungent scent of Numa, king of all the beasts,
And whiffed the smell of human stew from Obebe's latest feasts.
Fifty men of Opar roamed below him on the trail,
Their fifty cases of B.O. his nostrils did assail.
Slavers seeking ivory had come from northern sands
And added to their booty by attacking native lands.
Leopard Men in ambushes, their costumes stark and scary,
Awaited opportunities to murder the unwary.
Warriors riding elephants were trampling jungle trails,
And lion-powered chariots were crossing hills and dales.
A maniac bolgani who believed he was divine
Was forcing local subjects to bring offerings to his shrine,
Panthers sharpened claws to give a painful, bleeding belt
To anyone who tried to skin their hides to make a pelt.
Crocodiles lurked beneath the waters dank and green,
For clueless creatures who'd become their jungle-fresh cuisine.
Hyenas with a pack attack caused victims' blood to splatter --
For those in whom they sank their fangs it was no laughing matter.
English knights of olden days and Roman guards would slay
Strangers who haphazardly had wandered out their way.
Modern soldiers, armed and fierce, were set to loot and kill
Any non-combatants not familiar with the drill.
Spies and fraudsters femme fatales and brutes with flying fists
Were paddling up the rivers, camouflaged by morning mists,
Dirty crooks who came to steal the diamond of Ashair
Were showing up in droves and seemed to come from everywhere.
Tarzan'd seen it all before and here it came again,
The jungle was a drawing card for evil beasts and men.
"In Africa," smiled Tarzan, "there's no peaceful in-between,
"For each day in the jungle's just another Halloween."
--John Martin


"I don't feel like cooking a bird this year," said Jane. "Why don't we just eat out and let the Waziri fend for themselves."
"Well, I enjoy cold turkey sandwiches afterward," said Tarzan. "But that's okay. Let's try that new place in Nairobi."
"Yes," said Tarzan, "Kenya Fried Turkey. "I like their plaintain pudding."
"That's fine," said Jane. "As long as I don't have to cook. And Tarzan....."
"Yes dear?"
"I understand that you'll miss your cold turkey, but I've a surprise for you. There's a big Tom in the pen out back."

Tarzan smiled. "Raw turkey! Even better.
Tarzan caught the odor of wild turkey. "Ah," he thought. "That reminds me it's nearly Thanksgiving." He raced through the middle terraces. At last he alit on a branch and surveyed the scene in the clearing below, then jumped down.
"Hey, Bubba, who's that?" exclaimed one of the redneck white hunters sitting on an ice chest in front of his camouflage safari tent.
"I'm Tarzan of the Apes," the Jungle Lord announced. "I followed the spoor of your wild turkey."
"Well, why dontcha enjoy some southern hospitality," drawled the redneck, breaking the seal and unscrewing the lid of a new bottle. He reached for another glass.
“We're happy to share our Wild Turkey with you this Thanksgiving.”

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