Friday, September 12, 2008

Lost World of Time

Another of the pulp fiction stories from Planet Comics, transcribed from the original JPEG fiche scans to make them easier to read and reformat. The two pages that this came from are included at the bottom.

Lost World of Time
By Lin Davies from Planet Comics #7, July 1940.

Caught in a terrific time-warp, Capt. Dexter Ames ans his gallant space-ship crew turn their ray-rifles on the shaggy Hun-hordes of Attila.

Captain Dexter Ames, biting his lip, stood spraddle-legged in the control cabin of the space ship Discoverer, facing his chief engineer. Beside him, pale of face, the second in command of the Earth expedition, little Doctor Phillips ran a trembling hand over his brow.

"You are sure," Ames asked Engineer Morgan, "that our motors must be repaired before we can try to return Earth."

The Engineer nodded. "The pirate's blasting shells wrecked our batteries. We can reach a planet by careful use of the motors, and if the atmosphere is favorable we can soon make repairs."

Ames Nodded. "Give us what speed you can." Another nod dismissed the engineer, and Ames turned to Phillips. The little scientist was already poring over the stellar chart. He looked up suddenly.

"This is strange," he exclaimed. "The chart is vague about this corner of the heavens. But the asteroid lies yonder."

"Let us make for it then," Ames spoke though the tube, and heard Morgan's grunt. He gave the course to the helmsman, and the space ship swung, awkwardly, like a crippled thing, on her new course.

As it hurtled through space a strange feeling came over Ames. Halfway to Medona, he began to sense a mystery in their surroundings. He was pacing the deck when the lookout called out in alarm. "Planet ahead, sir!"

"Nonsense! snapped Ames. "Medona is--"

"It isn't Medona, sir," stammered the lookout, stupefied. It's Earth!"

"Earth!" repeated Ames. "Why, man, Earth is two million miles away!"

For answer the lookout stepped away from the great telescope, and Ames took his place. He took one look, gasped, and shouted to Morgan, "Reduce speed!"

Phillips ran up. Ames waved him to the telescope. The scientist squinted through the great quartzite lenses, and his jaw fell.

"Earth!" he muttered.

"Are we all drunk, Doctor?" asked Ames, smiling for the benefit of the terrified lookout. Panic would sweep the ship, he knew, if this evidence of some strange doom were to be followed by similar disclosures.

Phillips was blinking rapidly, thinking hard. "Ames," he said solemnly, "can you stand a shock?"

"Try me," grinned Ames. He winked at Phillips, indicating that the lookout should not hear.

Phillips lowered his voice, but the lowered tones could not hide his excitement. "It is Earth, Ames. but not the Earth of our time! It is Earth of some other day! We have slipped past a time-warp!"

Ames nodded slowly, his eyes widening. "So that's it!" He glanced ahead where the planet was still invisible to the naked eye. "What time period, then?"

"Ah, that we'll know when we land," countered Phillips. "If," he added hopefully, "we are to land."

They swept down to see a vast range of mountains, snow-peaked. The Alps, Phillips thought. They turned south, and found the land stretching away in a plain, cut by winding rivers. They swept lower, and could make out a vast army, moving southward.

"There are beasts, and men," murmured Phillips.

"An army," prompted Ames.

Phillips nodded.

"NO need to land among them," Ames declared. "We'll go farther south."

"But as they cruised, more armed columns appeared. Then they saw the first sign of pitched battle. The army streaming south was overwhelming the defenders of the land. They swept still further south, and Ames gave the order to land.

The Discoverer slid to a landing in a flat valley, where a bright sun gleamed on white walls. A fort lay on the far end of the valley, and scattered houses dotted the ground near them.

"Italy!" cried Phillips.

"The Roman Empire!" added Ames. He ordered a landing party to arm. the great doors rolled back, and he stepped forth from the hull of the Discoverer. Behind him came gunner Hatch and twenty Earth-men armed with ray-rifles. They moved to a well-paved road, and cautiously moved toward the town under the fort's walls.

Suddenly from a declivity in the land a javelin whistled. It struck Ames' helmet, and glanced off. The Earth-men raised their rifles.

"Don't fire!" Ames warned. He raised his voice, first in English, then in Latin, the tongue of the old Romans. "Ho! We come in friendship!"

"Instantly a head appeared above the stonework. Sun glinted on a bronze helmet of the sort that Ceaser's centurions wore. "Speak if you are a friend!" the strange officer growled.

Hatch muttered a warning. But Ames stepped forward alone. He saw the centurion was supported by a mere score of soldiers, all in the helmets and breastplates of the old Romans. Short swords and spears and shields were their armament.

"Who attacks you?" asked Ames.

The centurion growled, and his men muttered in astonishment. "All the world knows," cried the centurion, "that Atilla the Hun rides on Rome."

Then Ames knew. This was the time into which the Discoverer had flown!"

Let us aid you against Atilla," he urged.

The centurion looked doubtfully at the space ship. "You are demons?" he asked at last.

"Not we," Ames assures him. He made no effort to explain the magic of flight to this grizzled veteran of old Rome. "Where is the Hun advance guard?"

"Not more then a league away," responded the centurion. He pointed. They will march into sight in one turn of the hour-glass. We cannot hope to hold the valley but we must fight to the last."

"Then," decided Ames, "we shall help you." He wheeled and shouted orders to Morgan to begin repairs.

The Romans marveled as more men poured out of the great hull and began to bore into the motor compartment. In an hour the sounds of trumpets was heard. The centurion was looking askance at Ames, as if to remind him of his promise.

Ames pointed to his men. "Let us march ahead," he proposed. "We will meet Atilla's scouts."

The centurion nodded. "Let there be no treachery," he warned darkly.

Ames nodded, gave a command, and the twenty men of the Earth of the new day set out to battle for the Earth of an ancient century. They met Attila's advance in full view of the fort and town.

First came shaggy ponies, carrying bearded giants in helmets crowned with cow's horns. They spurred when they sighted the little party. The Earth-men waited, undismayed by marveling at the long swords high in air, and listening to the wild cries. The Huns charged.

The ray-pistols spoke. The Huns tumbled from their saddles, five, ten at a time. Twenty fell as if struck with one blow. The rear-most Huns pulled up. They retreated.

"By Jove!" cried the centurion as he ran up. "You fight like demons, whoever you may be!" He embraced Ames. "The Emperor will surely make you a prince. Look! -- the commander is coming to give thanks!"

Sure enough, a glittering procession was issuing from the fort. But at that moment Morgan came up. "Repairs are made, sir," he said simply.

So Ames turned with regret to the centurion. "We must go."

"How now? Go?" the centurion was offended.

"It is duty," Ames explained.

"Oho! That is another thing," the centurion admitted. And he stepped aside to permit Ames and his men to embark once again for Earth.


From the original fiche scans of Planet Comics #7 at Golden Age Comics, uploaded there by Rolster.

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