Issue XIX -- Tribute to the Pulps

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Read about some of the contributors to issue nineteen and see excerpts from each article or story.  

Issue XIX Contents

1000 Zeppelins Over Hollyland - Joe Murphy

The Seal of Gilgamesh - Terry Bramlett

It Rumbled - O'Neil de Noux

1000 Zeppelins Over Hollyland ©2005 - Joe Murphy

“When Ming the Merciless threatened the world ...” Ensign Blake Turner's voice dried to a croak. Crouched in the gondola’s hatch, he swallowed and sucked in a breath.

“Flash Gordon didn't fail!” Ensign Amelia Velton finished and slapped Blake’s knee. The predawn darkness left her golden curls, black flying helmet, and jacket little more than shadows. Yet Blake knew that faint sparkle in her blue eyes, illuminated only by the distant glow from a gunnery console, was for him alone.

Captain Degas squeezed down on one knee between them. His left hand clutched Amelia’s shoulder and his right gripped Blake’s arm. “Remember, you two. Steer clear of the Formies. We’ve beaten the other clans here. All we need now is the trophy.”

“We’ll get in, get the ray gun, and get out.” Amelia reached up and patted the captain’s cheek. “Count on it, Uncle Bill .”

Captain Degas leaned toward her, his lips slightly pursed until he noticed Blake’s smile. He pulled back, not quite managing a frown. “Save that for shore leave, Ensign.”

“Yes sir, uncle,” Amelia giggled.

Captain Degas rose as the gondola shifted. The attack zeppelin Zarkov's Reprisal vectored into the Santa Anna winds and slowed to hover.

Blake tensed just as Amelia kissed his cheek and plunged over the side. Quickly he followed, the rappelling line gripped tightly as he slid the longest hundred yards of his life.

His boots hit pavement, the impact jarring his ankles. Blake stuck to his training and rolled, dissipating the shock. He ended in a crouch, flame pistol drawn, beside Velton.

“So far so good,” Amelia whispered.

“So this is California .”

“Finally!” Amelia dropped down and kissed the dirty pavement. “The Hollyland at last!”

Hollyland, the heart and soul of every clan, home of fabled studios like MGM, Republic, and RKO. Here Buster Crabbe had taken up the heroic persona of Flash Gordon. Here he'd donned the majestic mantle of Buck Rogers. Blake fell to his knees and followed her example. Here no human had dared set foot for a hundred years.

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The Seal of Gilgamesh ©2005 - Terry Bramlett

Once I was a god; things have been downhill ever since.

I walked into my favorite pub in Northbrook, a little place called The Garden. The bar overflowed with patrons. I once saw the proprietor beat the crap out of a Norse god one wintry day a few years ago. Since then, the pub catered to locals and some not so local like myself. I guess I was a bit of both for the last few years. Besides, Wotan raved to everyone about Adam's chili.

Adam looked up from mixing a drink and nodded. I knew my order would be ready soon. Adam’s wife, named Eve by peculiar chance, set a beer on the bar as I settled on the stool. Adam insisted on naming his first son Cain, much to the boy’s and his mother’s chagrin. Their second child had been a girl, for which Eve breathed a sigh of relief. No need in repeating that bit of nastiness.

“Someone’s been asking for you, Gabriel” Eve said, smiling. “She’s beautiful.”

I grinned. Eve knew my predilection toward pretty women. “Can’t be as beautiful as you, Eve,” I said.

“Eve’s not on the menu,” Adam said as he walked up. He wasn’t smiling, but he knew I offered no competition. For some reason Eve really loved the squat, ugly little man. “She’s in the back booth. I thought you might like privacy.” Adam wiped his hands on his Apron.

“She say what she wanted,” I said as I craned my neck to look for her.

“She’s trouble,” Adam said. “She ain’t local, I can tell you. Could be a client, but more likely one of your kind.” He turned and plopped a ladleful of chili into a bowl and dropped it front of me. “Yell if you need me,” he said as he walked away. Eve grinned, and then followed him.

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It Rumbled ©2005 O'Neil de Noux

One of those pterodactyl things landed on a boulder above where we lay and whistled loudly.  Its whistle was answered immediately by others I couldn’t see.  My son twitched in his sleep and pressed his little body against me.  The pterodactyl spread its leathery wings and jumped off the boulder, flapped twice before folding its wings and diving over us down into the sea.  I could see it, in the dim dawn light, as it rose from the water, a large black crustacean in its beak.  It swooped to my right and disappeared from sight behind the high rocks.

I lay still as Vincent twitched again.  Curled in a fetal position, his arms tucked against his chest, his hands were drawn into little fists.  I looked at his face, at the tiny hairs along the side of his face where sideburns would grow when he grew up.  I brushed his straight, dark brown hair away from his eyes.  His mouth pursed, he looked so much like his mother.

I repositioned myself and closed my eyes.  I felt him twitch again, and then his young voice cried out, Icky, Icky, Daddy.  Icky!

I wrapped my arm around him and hugged him and said, Vincent, wake up.  Youre dreaming.

His wide, brown eyes batted at me and his lips quivered as he said, Daddy, I felt it.  The boat shaked.

I know son, but we're on land now.  It cant hurt us.

Vincent raised his head, blinked and then buried his face against my shoulder and snuggled with me.  The boat rumbled, Daddy.

I know, son.  But it was just a dream.  Go back to sleep.

I couldn't sleep.  No way.  That same dream woke me hours earlier.  Sure, we were safe now, a good fifty yards from the ichthyosaurs that cruised the Cobalt Sea with their lifeless black eyes and wide jaws and yellow saber teeth.  But we weren't safe from the dreams, from the memory of how the big creatures attacked our boat, how the boat shuddered as they rolled beneath it, tearing it apart, sending us into the sea.

Vincent tumbled into the water and I dove in after him.  I found him in the warm clear water, pulled him up as an Ichthyosaurus glided past, its green fin pushing us up to the surface.  The sharp, salt water burned my throat.  Vincent coughed and wrapped his arms around my neck and his legs around my waist and I swam and swam, the strong Octavion sun beating down on us, transforming the turquoise water into silver.  I felt the swell of water as an Icky closed in.  And I swam harder.

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