Thursday, July 31, 2008

Slave of the Lizard-Men.

By Don Varick.

Ravaged by quakes and floods, Earth sends Captain Dexter Ames through outer space to discover the mysterious secret of Sun-control.

Captain Dexter Ames, guiding the spaceship Discoverer out of gloomy canyon walls for a survey of the mystery planet Alpha Astra, wheeled eagerly when Doctor Phillips, his second in command, sputtered in amazement as he stared groundward through the powerful, squat telescope in the wing of the control cabin.

"Well, Doc?"

"There! Down there -- among the Lizard-Men!" stuttered the little scientist, staring.

"What!" exclaimed Ames, "More of the scaly devils? Like the ones we fought off in the canyon?"

"Yes, yes," snapped the doctor. "But that's not all!" He fidgeted at the scope. There he is! A giant, Captain, a giant!"

"A what?"

The bald little doctor danced a jig about the scope. "See for yourself! An amazing fellow! He might be an Earth-man like us, but for his size."

"Sure the light hasn't fooled you?" asked Ames, stepping to the scope as Chief Gunner Hatch took over the controls.

"No! The Lizard-Men are all around him, rearing up to their six feet. You can judge his hight by them!"

It was so, Ames saw. Down on the level plain a horde of the scaly green Lizard-Men swarmed about a great platform. And chained to the middle of was the doctor's giant.

Ames eyes sparkled. "A giant!" he cried. "There's other life, than, on the oldest star of them all! A giant! Perhaps it's his people who know the secret of Sun-control -- his people who just now are touching off quakes and floods on Earth!"

"If we can rescue him," the doctor began, "and take him aboard --"

"We'll rescue him, all right," snapped Ames. "Our ray-guns can take care of those Lizard-Men. We proved that in the canyon."

The Discoverer was cruising slowly over the plain. Ames called to Hatch. "Turn her toward that platform, Gunner. Then give her to me, and call your gun-crew to battle stations!"

Hatch swung the ship dexterously, then relinquished the controls with a gleam in his eyes. "Are we landing, sir?"

"We are," Ames assured him. "More of those green targets Hatch!"

"The more the better, sir," Hatch grinned, and vanished.

Ames, peering down, saw the plain so thickly swarming with the half-human saurians as to appear green to his eyes, loom nearer as the ship glided down. The scene on the platform was clearer now.

"He's a prisoner of the Lizard-Men," he guessed. "We may have a hot fight, Doc. but we must have him! We'll cut him loose and give him a chance to help us find the ray-machine that's thrown the Sun out of gear. If he's hostile, your thought-transference magnet may read his mind enough to point us to his city, or cave, or whatever may be the base of that disastrous ray-work." He settled the space hood closer to his head, called through the speaking tube "Are you ready gunner?" and heard the clear answer, "Ready, sir!' Ames nodded significantly to Phillips, punched the decent lever and steered the ship to the ground beside that broad platform.

The Lizard-Men saw the ship all at once. The larger mass parted swiftly. Hundreds of the green creatures darted out of the ship's path, toward cave mouths. But other hundreds swarmed up and over the platform, as if they planned to thwart any attempt to rescue their captive.

"Gunner Hatch!" cried Ames "Fall in twenty men with ray-guns!" And he set the Discoverer down ten paces from the first low step that led to the platform floor.

"Take over the ship, Doc," grunted Ames. I'm going to open the starboard and clear the way to our giant." His eyes glowed. "I never could see those Lizard-Men playing the scientific role up here! The giant is the answer! If the lizard boys won't hand him over, they get theirs!" He moved to the right wing of the control cabin and through the corridor to the main gangway.

Hatch and his men waited, eager and expectant. "They may rush the doors," Ames warned them. "If they do, mow they down!" A score of voices murmured tensely, and Ames touched the buttons that swung the doors with a click into their sockets.

Instantly, a roar of hissing sounded through the ear-tubes in the Discoverer's crew space hoods. It was like the hissing thunder of a great cataract, yet Ames knew it was the venomous voice of the lizard people. A dozen scaly snouts thrust forward, wicked little eyes gleaming, long curved claws reaching for Earth-men's throats.

"Fire!" roared Ames.

The ray-guns spoke, and every rearing snout fell away. They were picked men, these twenty.

But their work was just begun. Now came the main rush of the spitting, leaping green devils. The very press of their rush threw several through the very doors. There they died, forming a barricade over which their followers tried to slither. But the ray-guns piled the dead in heaps. A high-pitched whine sounded in their rear, and they fell away, scurrying to the far caves. In ten minutes not a movement was to be seen in the wide space surrounding the platform.

"Now!" cried Ames. "To the platform!" Kicking a dead scaly one aside, he leaped for the platform. In three strides he was on the top, staring at the giant.

He was a monster of a man. A full ten feet tall, he strained at the massive chains that held him by wrists and ankles to the stone floor, while he stared with gleaming eyes under shaggy brows at Ames. Naked save for his leather loin-cloth, he was a powerful figure.

Ames halted beyond the reach of the convulsively closing hands. "We are friends!" he cried.

The giant seemed to understand. He relaxed, growling, and touched a manacled hand to his breast.

Doctor Phillips appeared at Ames' elbow. "Let me try the thought-detector," he begged.

Ames cast a worried glance backward. "Who's guarding the ship?" he asked in reprimand.

"Not a lizard in sight," the doctor assured him cheerily. He fiddled with a tube under his ear, and squinted his eyes. Instantly he cried out. "It's very clear! He's a prince of his people, betrayed into the lizard's hands by personal enemies."

Ames called for a blow-torch, and soon a man came running. The young captain applied the flame, and in a trice the chains fell away from the giant's limbs. He stared at the strange device, lifted his hands, then grinned in his wild beard.

"Okay, pal," Ames assured him. "Now how about a cruise with us?" He turned to lead the way to the ship.

It was then that the Lizard-Men rallied to the attack. Under cover of the ship, unguarded on the far side by reason of the little scientist's defection, the swarmed around bow and stern and barred the way to the Discoverer's doors. Screaming, spitting, clawing, they charged with a slithering, lumbering rush.

Hatch and his men formed a hollow square, with Ames, Phillips and the giant inside, and the ray-guns took toll until the light tubes glowed white-hot. But the lizards came on. Half of Hatch's men went down. Phillips vanished under a surge of green snouts.

Ames moved like lightning. He played his blow-torch, and a dozen green snouts turned away with cries of pain and fear. But a claw fastened on the captain's ankle, and he felt himself tottering. Fear gripped him -- not fear for himself, but a cold realization that he had failed in his mission to save the Earth.

He had forgotten the giant. With a roar that seemed to shake the green devils off their feet, he charged. Ugly snouts disintegrated under his swift triphammer blows. Ames felt the clutch on his ankle lessen. Then the big fellow caught up a Lizard-Man by the scaly tail and swung the creature like a club.

That was enough. Hatch and his men, bleeding but elated, rose and the ray-guns spoke again. In two minutes the party was at the space-ship's doors.

"Great work old scout!" Ames cried clapping the giant on the rump. "Come aboard!"

The big hairy one grinned and obediently stooped to enter, while the Earth-men formed a double line and cheered him to the echo.


Below are the original pages. The full scan is available at Golden Age Comics.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mist Men of Mercury

by Arnot Bissel. Originally published in Planet Comics #4, April 1940.

Would this terrible dizziness never cease? Would the projectile go on forever, whirling endlessly through space, taking its limitless orbit around the sun -- round and round forever in its deadly parabola adding its path to those of the comets -- a man-made comet carrying its helpless victim throughout eternity? Kirk shuddered as his frantic mind tried to grasp some reality in all this chaos.

And eternity it would be, too. Kirk knew this. For out here in space there was no time, no life, and no death. Was he destined to a living doom?

Perhaps it would have been better not to have left his home planet, Earth, so hastily. But it had been a question of death on Earth or a chance of life in the unknown. What man would have hesitated at such a choice?

The certain death that he had faced on Earth was at the hands of a vicious dictator who had imprisoned him in a concentration and who had ordered his execution for a crime he had never committed.

But there in the black cells of the torture camp, where most of the great minds of his country were being beaten into insanity and decay, Kirk met the brilliant scientist Hoffer, who told him of his secret work on rocket projectiles and space travel. He gave Kirk directions to his hidden workshop and aided him in every way till he miraculously escaped from the prison camp and fled like a hunted animal to the depths of the Black Forest where he found the rocket, almost complete and ready to be launched into space.

But the guns were barking in his ears as he dropped into the strange craft. He had no time to lose. Without further investigation, he followed the inventor's instructions that had been whispered to him nightly through damp walls.

The Brownshirted pursuers had reached the workshop just in time to hear the roaring zoom as the rocket was hurled from its catapult into the night and soon became a blazing, shooting star speeding through the heavens.

"And now I am condemned to worse than death --" Kirk moaned to himself, but even as he spoke the whirling lessened. The rocked seemed to be straightening out and slowing down. Gradually regaining his senses that had been thrown into utter confusion, Kirk crept to the small port that looked into the inky reaches of space. Suddenly, a brightness almost blinded him. He was nearing a brilliant star -- no, a planet.

"It must be very near the sun -- perhaps Mercury." Kirk watched the planet grow larger as its gravitational pull drew the rocket closer and closer.

Several hours later Kirk lay panting with the great heat on the floor of his rocket. He rolled over on his back and a grim smile crossed his face. "Looks like this time I really did land in the fire. Well, I took a long chance on my life, and I'm not through yet."

Weekly, he rose to his feet and stumbled out of ship. For a moment the heat sent him gasping back against the metal sides of the rocket, only to be scorched by the red-hot surface.

But as he swayed forward something mercifully cool brushed his sweat stained cheek. He looked about and found himself surrounded by mysterious vaporish bodies that wove about and embraced him in gentle coolness.

These mists were intelligent beings!

And more than that, Kirk felt with great thankfulness in his heart, after all that had happened to him on Earth these Mist men of Mercury were imbued with pity and kindness.

They led him gently to an opening in the burning soil and dropped down into a pit, holding Kirk among them so that he floated slowly toward the interior and into a large cavern filled with the strange Mercurians that floated about creating an intangible sea of mist.

It took several months for Kirk to understand the sign language of the Mist men. But when he finaly grasped their meaning he was astonished to learn that they had understood his language almost from the very first. Their intelligence was millions of years in advance of the Earth man's. They considered him a backward barbarian although their superhuman kindness would not allow them to show this. His tales of wars and misery on Earth only helped to confirm their theory.

But in that great sub-terrainian cavern on the planet Mercury, so near the sun, many plans were discussed that were to greatly influence the future history of Earth.

The man who had left Earth in an incomplete rocket ship was destined to lead the greatest attack on the forces of evil ever to be launched on the warring nations of Earth.

It was the year 1945, when half of Europe lay demolished under the tread of war and the firing still resounded over boundaries that changed hands many times, that the great Mist fell like a smothering blanket from the skies.

Frantically the Earth soldiers struggled against the strange phenomena. Orders came from startled rulers to keep firing under all conditions, but soon they realized that they were up against more than foggy weather conditions.

In vain the humans fought the elusive Mercurians. The built great fires that succeeded in destroying the Mist men for awhile, but soon they would vaporize again and descent in even heavier forces smothering the flames.

Within a week the guns were silent and all of humanity lay in a strange mist-blanketed stupor. There was no activity on Earth. Only the plants and animals grew and moved. But man was silent.

Then in the Spring of the year the great mist rose. Hundreds upon hundreds of Mercurians left the Earth and floated back to their planet. Men and women woke from their dreamless sleep and began to go about their daily work in peace.

The curious thing was that everyone had forgotten how to fight. The sight of guns meant nothing to the people anymore. They melted them down into useful tools and wondered what they had ever made them for. No one knew what had happened and everyone was content and working peacefully.

No one, that is, but one man who had gone back to a workshop in the Black Forest to work with his friend, the inventor, on more and greater ships to explore the outer reaches of space. Kirk never told of his strange experience or explained the coming of the Mist men to Earth for fear of awakening terrible memories that were hidden by the superior intelligence that the Mercurians had left on Earth.

The original scans are below.

Return to QuasarDragon Here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Lizard - Men of Alpha Astra

by Lin Davies. From Planet Comics #3, March 1940.

Piloted by Capt. Dexter Ames, 21,000 A.D. outward-space Columbus, the rocket-ship lands on the mystery-planet of Astra, only to be overwhelmed by the rodent-faced Lizard Men.

Captain Dexter Ames caught his breath. The swirling vapors, miles in depth, had blown clear, and through the magnifying transparent shield of the space ship's control room he could see the feared mystery planet straight ahead. He turned exultantly to the white-haired man beside him.

"There she is, Doctor! Just where the observatory plotted her!"

Doctor Phillips smiled wistfully. And you think we can succeed in finding the secret of Alpha Astra's control over the Sun?"

Ames clapped a hand affectionately on the old man's shoulder. "I hope so, for all our sakes." There was meaning in his voice, and unconsciously his gaze shifted to the slim figure of the girl who stood a few paces away, staring at the strange newly-discovered Alpha Astra, first of the stars.

"There may be great danger ahead -- dangers that we of Earth have never known," Dr. Phillips reminded the captain.

"We'll have to take our chances," said Ames soberly.

The doctor turned to join Ames in an avid survey of the great star whose form grew in size even though the space ship was coasting through the heavens. Now that they were getting close, young Captain Ames wished that Cara Phillips, the doctor's daughter, was back on Earth, for the landing on Alpha Astra bade fair to be a memorable one.

He sounded the alert. "Stations!" he called through the control tube. "Prepare to land!"

As he adjusted his ray pistol the girl moved to his side. "Good luck, Captain."

"And to you, Cara," Ames rejoined. "Stay with the ship."

She nodded, her eyes troubled. The Ames turned and took the controls himself for the landing. He shot the rocket ship into a narrow but straight canyon and set her down with hardly a jar.

The landing crew, led by engineer Sept Morgan and Gunner Hatch, waited tensely behind the triple doors. Morgan opened a valve, and held a mouse-cage up to the hissing vapor. The white mouse inside sniffed, but continued to cavort.

"Atmosphere looks safe, but keep the air hoods ready!" called Ames. "Follow me!" He stepped upon the soil of Alpha Astra.

The air was clean and pure. The canyon seemed sliced by a god's knife, and sloping ledges offered a way up to the top. He started up.

The ledge was wide, the slope was easy. As he led his party of explorers along the grey, vegetationless canyon, Ames began to plan a long search for the secret of the star -- the strange force that Earth's scientists argued could subdue or intensify the heat of the sun so as to lessen tropical heat and Arctic cold, and stop the series of earthquakes that were taking heavy toll of life on Earth. But at the top of the canyon, after one glance down at the ship, he gave up all plans of further exploration.

"Morgan! Hatch!" he yelled. The urgency in his voice made them run to the dizzy edge.

Far below, a strange horrible thing had happened. Even as the Earth-men watched, gliding shapes passed in and out of the space ship's doors.

"They've captured the ship!" cried Hatch.

"And look at them!" gasped Morgan. "What are they? Captain, what in heaven's name are they?"

Ames brushed his hand over his eyes, and stared. "They're saurians," he said huskily. "Lizards. But look -- they can walk upright! And -- ah! Look! They're dragging Cara Phillips off!" He leaped back, pulled his ray-pistol and dashed for the ledge. "Come on!" he cried.

Morgan and Hatch followed, and it was well for them. For behind them rose loud cries of terrible fear. Ames knew what had happened; some of his men had been seized by other bands of lizards.

But he dared not stop. His duty was to the ship. Like an avenging demon he hurtled down the slope and leveled his ray-gun. Point-blank, he fired at the nearest slinking lizard. It collapsed with a whimpering cry, and Ames shuddered in amazement as he saw its half-human face.

Then Morgan and Hatch opened up, and saurians fell in heaps. The doors yawned, and Ames burst in. He found a white-faced Doctor Phillips still in the control room.

"It was all so sudden!" whispered the ashy-faced doctor. I saw the take her -- that way --"

Morgan burst in, "Everybody safe but the girl!" he cried. "And the boys have captured a lizard-man!"

In a flash Ames adjusted the precious aura-cap, jealously guarded though-transference marvel of Earth-rulers and Earth-police. "Let's see him," he said grimly. "He may not talk, but it won't be necessary."

"The lizard was half-stunned, and crowded behind a welter of steel boxes and wedged bars. He whined when Ames spoke, cackling and muttering a weird gibberish. But Ames paid no heed. He adjusted the aura-cap to suck the thoughts of the scaly green head. Hardly was the aura-cap adjusted before he cried out in relief. "She's held prisoner, with the others! We can save them all!"


On the ground outside lay the still bodies of the lizard-men. Ames called for volunteers for the chase. For a moment they hung back. "Come on!" he cried. "A woman's life hangs in the balance!"

Quickly twenty men stepped forward. Ames laughed harshly. "Here we go! Doctor, guard that door. Now, let's give it to them!"

They caught the lizard-men in a great cave, seated on a circle, thousands of them, mumbling and grunting in a chorus, while green jaws gaped as a dozen guards held the struggling Cara Phillips and eleven of the space-ship's crew.

Ames fired. But no lizard-man fell. He tried again. His men began to lag. "Come on!" he cried savagely, and rushed at the screaming saurians. At ten paces he fired at the first attacking lizard, an this time the shot told. The beast writhed and fell. Behind him the crew took heart, and rushed the cave. Lizards dropped by twos and threes, and soon the girl and white-faced Earth-men were free.

The race back to the ship was touch and go, for the hoard of lizards slithered swiftly at their heels. But once safe behind those doors, Dexter Ames slipped an arm over Doctor Phillips' shoulders and another around the waist of a trembling girl, and said happily, "Well, we made it. And we haven't yet finished with the Lizard Men of Astra. Before we're finished we'll unbear the secret of their world."

The original pages from which this story was transcribed are below (via Golden Age Comics)

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Earth Queen's Last Refuge

By Don Varick Originally published in Planet Comics Feb. 1940

Fleeing from the Red Fleet of Betelgeux, the Space-Ship of War Defiance, bears the last remnants of the shattered Earth Race.

As magnificent and steady as Venus, in her orbit, the great, gray, battered space-ship of War Defiance III glided in amongst the corrugated peaks of the little-known planetoid of Blix. Cathoid and ray guns had dented and battered the giant space-ship's Z-plate hull, carried away part of her bridge, and riddled her landing fins, but commander Lothain brought her in amongst those towering, knife-edged crags just as easily as if he were bringing her into her own earth spacefield.

The tall war-officer turned his bright blue eyes toward the regal young woman standing in the pilot-turret beside him. He smiled, and suddenly his face was young again.

"They're not likely to find us on this lost, out-of-the-way planetoid. Perhaps here we shall have peace, my Queen."

The young woman turned her lovely, proud face and let her eyes dwell wistfully on the strong countenance of the Space-Ship o' War commander.

"I hope you're right, but I'm afraid," she said. "Those Betelgeuxians mean to leave not a single Earth creature alive in the entire universe."

"I know," said the tall commander as he swung over the lever that released the magnetic anchors, "but they'll have to catch us first."

Two minutes later they were standing looking curiously about this forgotten island in the endless universe, while a company of marines set up camp in the lea of the space-ship. This might be the last refuge for this handful of Earth people.

Suddenly Lais, the Queen, saw the young commander's face grow taut under the clear, thin velox-glass of his helmet.

"What is it?" she said.


He turned on his heel and his short ray pistol was in his hand. One leap brought him to the open port. The lithe queen was right behind him as he swung open the tubed-steel door of the wireless room. They were in time to see a red-faced, red-headed, scowling man swing around from the instrument.

"You, MaGloom! Traitor..."

The spit and hiss of the ray pistols in the hands of the commander and MaGloom filled the tight compartment with horrible static. For a moment Lais thought her eardrums had burst, in spite of her space helmet.

Then she saw the traitor MaGloom bend and wither like a leaf blown into a fire, and she swung fearfully to look at the commander.

He was pale, but he was standing unscathed and there was fire in his blue eyes.

"Are you alright?" she cried.

"I'm alright, but we've got to get out of here. MaGloom was C.Qing the Betelgeuxian fleet. I can always feel when anyone is using the spark. That silver plate they set in me during the early part of the war..."

He put out his strong brown hand and pressed the alarm switch. Three minutes later the Defiance was sweeping through space, reviving every ounce of power in her damaged engines.

In the television cabin aft, Lothain stood beside the tall queen. There was a grim set to his lean jaw.

"They're only forty-odd thousand miles behind us now," he said. "And at the rate they're going they'll overhaul us in no time. It looks as if the whole Betelgeuxian space-fleet is after us."

"What shall we do?" said Lais, and it was easy to see that all her trust was in this tall, lean man.

"I don't know. We'll show them our heels as long as we can. Then we'll fight. We'll go down fighting."

He roared into the engine-tube: "Give her all you've got!"

"Aye, aye, sir" came the reply, and the battered Defiance, living up to her name, gathered speed.

But it was all to no avail. Standing there in the television cabin, the tall, straight commander watched the swift red ships of the pursuers draw steadily nearer. There were no less than a thousand of them. He had been right when he said it looked like the whole Betelgeuxian air navy.

"They'll be trying to range us soon," Lothian said between tight lips. He had taken off his space-helmet. He would probably never need it again.

"Can't we hide from them?" Lais said desperately. "Can't we put in behind some planetoid and throw them off the trail?"

"I'm afraid not." The tall commander was looking at the universe chart spread on a great board before him. "It wouldn't throw them off long. Look," he said "now they're starting to shoot."

Great flashes like lightning seared the surrounding atmosphere. "Twenty thousand miles -- they're too far off yet to have much effect." He turned from his charts to face the young queen, and his face was very sad. "I'm afraid though, it's the end."

Lais' lips quivered but she managed to smile. She touched the young commander's pyro-cloth sleeve. "I'm ready."

He swung around and once more his eyes stabbed desperately at the universe chart. "Wait!"

"One chance," he cried. "One small chance!" He spoke again into the engine tube. "Give her every last bit of power you've got if it blows us to Saturn!"

Lais didn't ask what he meant to do. his desperate face was enough. Her eyes followed his to the opaque glass screen where the war fleet of Betelgeux loomed larger and more terrible.

Suddenly a strange noise filled the turret. A powerful roaring wracked Lais' ears. "What's that?" she cried.

Lothian gave a strange smile. "That," he said, "is life or death." He swung his television eye so it pointed straight upwards over their heads.

"We're in the path of Brorsen's comet," the young commander said calmly. "I remembered it passed through this zone every five and a half years. We may get by, just barely. We may get by, just barely. But it's as good a way to die as any."

They stood still, their breath held so tight it hurt, listening to this roaring, whirling molten mass approach. They could look up and see it with the naked eye. The Defiance shuddered and stood on its keel. The whole atmosphere burnt and burst and broke asunder. Lais and Lothian were thrown to [the] corner of the compartment. He seized her and screened her with his body as the Defiance careened like a chip in a fiery whirlpool. Then, without warning, everything quieted. A trail of fire still flashed by but the terrifying roar was softening.

"Whee...!" said Lothian with a grin. "What I call a close one."


Note on transcription:
Most spelling and grammar are unchanged but in one case "Bettlegurst"was regularized to "Betelgeux." The original scans (Via Golden Age Comics) are below.

Friday, July 18, 2008


(from Planet Comics, July 1947)

Doctor Paul Gregory, chief of the University Science Council, straightened slowly, uttered a long sigh as he glanced wearily at his assistant, Professor Danton. "I concede failure, Danton," his low voiced cracked. "There is no possible restoration of dead tissue back to life."

Danton's swift-darting eyes swept triumphantly over the wan, hawk-like visage of Gregory. "I told you that before you started your experiments. Even though this is the year 2432, resuscitation of dead bodies is utterly impossible!"

They were standing alongside the marble-topped experiment table in the Council's laboratory, upon which stood various micro-plates, test tubes filled with Zadox and a huge, well used atomoscope. Behind the men gigantic crystobulbs flickered monotonously with weird blue flashes as white-coated attendants flitted about in the eerie glow.

A clerk from the outer office padded swiftly up to Dr. Gregory and said: "Sir, there's a man outside who wishes to speak to you. He -- he acts strangely...!"

Professor Danton smiled knowingly, brows raised. "Another crackpot's impossible phantasy, who wishes his absurd testimony to be recorded in our scientific archives." He turned to the clerk. "Tell him we're not interested..."

"Wait!" Doctor Gregory interposed. "I will see him." He turned on his heel and strode rapidly into the office -- the smirking Danton following, reluctantly.

Gregory seated himself at the modernistic desk, told the clerk: "Show this strange gentleman in."

Danton waited at the far crystite window. Long had he craved Gregory's important position, and if Gregory kept listening -- on Council's time -- to these crackpot yarns ... the job would soon be his.

A quiet unassuming man entered the office then, and Doctor Gregory waved him to a seat alongside his desk. "You wanted to see me?"

"Y--yes ... but I--I hardly know where to begin..." the man started. Gregory noticed a queer sheen in tha man's deep-socketed eyes which reflected from the tubes of cold light above. He continued then: "I'd like this to be recorded in your scientific archives..."

Gregory smiled assuringly. "These whole proceedings are even now being recorded on the tele-viz."

By the window a smile played around Danton's mouth.

The man went on, "I only ask the courtesy of no interruptions..." an odd sounding laugh issued from his mouth and his eyes held the queer glow. "Time is short --"

He began:

My name is Bruce Hayward. Three years ago, my wife died. I had her entombed in the underground crypts, where the place the bodies under a huge crysto-bell -- which preserves them in natural state for eternity.

For a full year I visited my wife in those eerie crypts. Believe me, gentlemen, all of her natural attributes had been miraculously preserved. She was even more beautiful in death -- than in life!

But one evening I visited her bell ... It was near to closing time. There was a sinister air pervading the incense-filled hall that evening. I could feel it, hear it with every hollow beat of my footsteps on the marble floor slabs.

Standing before my wife's bell, I must have lost myself in reverie -- for just then I was rudely awakened by the loud slamming of the outer bronzite door and the loud babbling of strange, high-pitched voices. Instantly, there was a terrible Z-Z-A-A-A-P-P! and I knew one of the crypt guards had been put to death by a heat ray. There was another. Than another!

Quickly, fearfully, I slunk behind an ancient cremation slab; waited, silent in the clammy darkness. The cold light tubes above suddenly flickered out. But fingers of light splayed in from an open door somewhere, enabling me to catch the movement of swift-darting shadows.

The intruders brazenly entered the crypt where I was hiding. Four of them. The leader was motioning with his scaly hands, and his cruel, thin lips were bubbling with hurried orders. He wore a repulso helmet; his one ugly eye bulged grotesquely like a lizard's, and his long ugly fingers clutched a dis-gun. The other three cradled long dis-rifles in scale-glittering arms.

I stifled the urge to scream when I saw what they were about ... going to each bell, sliding out the bodies, and slinging them roughly into a small-wheeled car. The scream bubbled up to my lips when I saw them lift my wife's bell and sling her stiff form onto the already high-piled car. Viciously, I bit my tongue, stifled the scream, and clenched my hands into tight ball of hate and fury. What cursed evil was this?

I watched from my cramped hiding place as they went over the entire crypt, piling bodies onto the car. Soon they pushed the car down a long corridor -- one I'd never seen before. At the end, a panel slid up easily, and the ghouls shoved the loaded car through. Cautiously, I followed, and just as I got inside the door -- it slammed shut!

I was trapped!

They must have heard me enter, for immediately I could hear feet pounding back towards me. I whirled, scrambled for the door, clawed at the metal portal, flung myself at it headlong. It hurled me back. I slumped to the cold stone-flagged floor, sat there panting. The pounding of feet got closer ... closer! Terror struck in my swift-beating heart, paralyzed me; I couldn't move!

The ugly creatures thundered up. Dimly, I heard one of them issue a muffled order: "Blank him out!"

A ray gun cut the gloom with a knife-like beam. I felt the searing ray tingle through my body like a gentle electric shock. Then -- unconsciousness.

When I finally came to, I felt strange. A constant tingling from head to toe. My vision was a shimmery thing of dancing waves. Miasmatic effluvium swirled up to my nostrils. My head reeled sickeningly.

I was standing outside a queer looking laboratory. There were two doors, one at each end. Scaley creatures stood at one door and were pushing dead bodies into the lab. Inside, I could hear the low buzz of steady electric current. Then, with horror, I saw what was coming out the other door.

Dead bodies were walking out!

The hideous things seemed to float -- staring, sightless, dumb! I saw Lily, my wife emerge ... and her body brushed gently against me. My frantic fingers grasped her arm. "Lily! Lily!" I hissed. I held her tightly, lest she drift away. She didn't answer.

Voices were babbling inside the lab. "Quickly our time is short! Hah! what a surprise the Universe will get when we attack with our army of the dead! Our electro-energy ray is a success. Allow no one to reach that de-energizer ray on the balcony..."

The de-energizer ray, if that was what I thought it was--

Swiftly, I grabbed Lily's arm and dragged her floating body up a web-like ladder. On the balcony I ran to something resembling an ancient cannon. I located the switches, and pressed one. A long beam of white light lanced out below. the gruesome army of dead had assumed vast proportions by now. The evil stench was smothering. These scaly fiends must have been collecting dead bodies for many, many annos.

The one-eyed monsters came boiling out of the lab now. They'd spotted the beam ... and were pointing scaly fingers at me. "Get him!" they shrieked.

Quickly, I played the beam on the horrid, squirming bodies below. They were alive -- for they moved under their own power. Caught in the beam, they shrunk, decomposed right before my eyes!

The scaly things tried to scramble up the ladder, but I sprayed them viciously with the beam. They wilted like figures of wax ... all the energy sapped from their horrid, writhing bodies. And they died with long loud hisses.

When it was all over below, I turned sadly to Lily. I didn't want to do it, but I had to. Had to! Her eyes had opened, she stared at me blankly.

I twisted the beam, and it caught her as she was floating away. The thing trembled for an instant ... then slowly shrunk, and wasted to a rotting skeleton.

The story teller slumped, let out a sigh. "For two years I tried to get out of those crypts. Someone must hear this story ... before ... before ..." His voice ended in a hiss.

Gregory rose, gaunt faced. "You have proof?"

Danton padded over, exploded: "Of all the damnable lies! Surely ..."

"Quiet!" Gregory clipped. "LOOK! What in the name ..."

Both stumbled crazily over to the man's chair, stared horrified."

He was slumped, his skin dead yellow and shriveling before their eyes! Where his own eyes had been were now deep hollow pits of blackness. his mouth was distorted into a horrible gash, the lips rotted. Whitened finger-bones gripped the chair arms.

"Proof Danton!" Gregory croaked finally. "Those scaly things killed him, and put him under the energy ray!" his clear gray eyes swept triumphantly over Danton's crestfallen face, and he spaced his words carefully, deliberately. "This man has been DEAD FOR TWO YEARS!"


Return to QuasarDragon Here.

The original JPEGs that this text was transcribed from are below and are enlargeable. The full comic is available at Golden Age Comics.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Pod Test

PodCastle has released their latest weekly fantasy audio-story, "The Grand Cheat" by Hilary Moon Murphy, read by Rajan Khann.

My finest cheat started long ago, before India was even a country. Most of us were still under British rule, one way or another. I was apprenticed to Sri Ghare, one of the greatest negotiators in the princely states. I lived with him and his wife in a fine manor. Though I was from a poor family, he always treated me like I was his own son.

This fantasy story, originally published in Tales of the Unanticipated, this audio-story runs nearly 27 minutes and is available in MP3 Here.

(An enjoyable and very clever story. Well written, well read)

From Feedbooks, many more pulp, adventure stories from Conan creator Robert E. Howard and four more short stories from contemporary SF/fantasy author Richard Kadrey.

Robert E. Howard: "Circus Fists," "Fist and Fang," "General Ironfist," "Night of Battle," "Sluggers on the Beach," "Texas Fists," "The Bull Dog Breed," "The Slugger's Game," and "The Iron Man,"

Richard Kadrey: "Heat Island," "Herzog's Benediction," "A Cautionary Tale," and "The Enigma Event"