|The Story||The Authors|
Old Boar's eyes narrowed. He didn't take well to being made to look
foolish, even if the only witnesses were a ratty pair of Wikka birds
snacking on rancid giraffe entrails. He had a reputation to keep.
"Venegence will be mine!" he snorted to no one in particular but
in the general direction of the disinterested Wikka birds. "Ere this
day is out I'll be chewing on your insides!" Boar didn't really mean
it, but appearances needed to be upheld. Law of the jungle and all
With a little shake of his tail Boar proceeded to trot off in the opposite direction from Roger.
Roger, meawhile, trudging through the bush and sniggering to himself,
suddenly found himself in the midst of an unearthly quiet. He stopped.
The sun was getting high, and it was hot. All around him the
baobob trees writhed up from the ground like Rodin's damned fixed
in the postures of agony at the maw of Hell. No birds disturbed the
silence, not even the chatty parrots, and even the monkeys were silent.
He looked around himself. He became aware of an incredible radiance,
seeming to beat from the very center of things. The sun pulsed on
him, The air whirled in his lungs. His heartbeat raced and his breath
came in short, rapid gasps. He thought of Anita, then, back in gritty
Manhattan; What the hell is happening to me? he thought, seeing
varicolored TV snow dancing in the air around him. Am I going
to die here? In a strange land, friendless, surrounded by savages...?"
And it was then, strangely, as if in answer to Roger's unvoiced thought, that the voice boomed down (from whence, he was unable to identify):
"NO! You shall not die here, young man! We have other things planned for you!"
There was a small metallic whir from the gnarled trunk of a boabob
tree a dozen steps to Roger's left. A door popped open revealing
an apparent elevator with bright red shag carpeting floor to ceiling.
It appeared unoccupied.|
"Get in" boomed the disembodied voice.
|Roger step in and presses the number 13 The elevator rises|
|In fact the whole tree rose, leaving a scorched spot in the brush and scattering the lazy Wikka and Jub-jub birds lazily dozing on its branches.|
|Inside the trunk of the old tree it was so dark that Roger couldn't see a thing. He could certainly feel, though — sticky! Everywhere was slippery-gooey with a substance the consistency of vaseline petroleum jelly. Only the smell of it — sheesh! Hooo-eee!|
|Being trapped inside the tree, Roger couldn't escape the gooey matter and was soon covered head to toe with the stuff. Some of it got into his mouth and it tasted worse than it smelled. The tree finally came to a landing, Roger had no idea where, and the door in it's trunk opened. Roger stepped out of the trunk and immediately tripped on a tree root. He fell headlong into a great pile of goose feathers and down which stuck fast to the gooey stuff that coated the poor man. Behind him he could hear the tree close it's door and fly away.|
A cluster of feather stuck fast to the five-day growth of moustache
beneath his nose caused him to ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah — chooooooooooooooooo!
This was answered by a sinister, reverbed giggle from somewhere off to his left, and then a second giggle from his right.
"Show yourself!" he demanded, wiping curdily glutinous feather-pudding from his eyes.
Show yourself...ow yourself...elf...elf...elffffff came the echo. From the sound of it, he seemed to be in a large, cavernous interior.
Tee-hee-hee-hee-hee, came the giggle again, and Ti-hii-hii-hii-hii, came its response.
Roger was really getting angry, and a vitrioic tirade quivered at the tip of his tongue, when a great booming voice, the same one he'd heard outside the magic baobab tree, thundered through the room so thunderfully that before Roger knew it he was on the floor, cowering among the gooey shmeg and feathers.
SILENCE! SILENCE! Silence ye little fools, raritans, and nin-com-poops! Silence, I command you, or suffer my wrath! it boomed, as a great, glowing, disembodied face began to materilaize from out of the fog and goosedown.