"A DIZZY FLIGHT!"
Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst
For two hours Sola and the calot made
their way across the barren wastes of the no-man's-land which borders the
dominions of the Tharkian hordes on the east. She now had a fair idea where
she was -- thousands of haads south of the dead city of Korad and practically
due east of Thark. It was a region she had visited several times during
her brief childhood and now the green girl was certain she could pick out
a route north, past the green race's encampments and then west to the waterways
of Helium. If only John Carter and Dejah Thoris yet lived!
The three pinnacles rose up before
her and far beyond them, the line of high land on the distant horizon that
betokened the forbidden Plateau of Eo. Woola was already halfway to the
pinnacles and when she reached that same spot, Sola knew she would gaze
upon fabled Go-La-Ra, the city of the deadly mists. However, her scrutinizing
of the northern horizon was interrupted by an extraordinary sight, high
in the sky, just short of the three pointed rocks.
The durkoos flew high over the city,
seeking to dislodge the dragon clinging to its neck. John Carter clung
desperately to the great bird's leg with one hand, while in the other arm
he held the Martian princess. The two monsters continued their aerial battle,
but it was plainly clear that the bird was tiring. Its wings beat with
a labored flapping that brought it closer and closer to the ground with
each passing second. Sooner or later the fatigued durkoos would have to
alight. The only question in John Carter's thoughts was whether or not
he could hold on long enough to witness that conclusion. His fingers were
growing stiff and cold -- and, like the ashen body of the girl he held
to his breast, they too were changing to a dismal gray.
With all his strength the Earthman
pulled himself upward, until he managed to throw one leg over the giant
bird's foot spur. It was a precarious seat, but by holding on with his
legs he could free one hand long enough to carry out the mad plan that
was developing in his brain.
Her voice was so raspy and unnatural
that he could scarcely fathom what the two syllables were that Dejah Thoris
had spoken. But her thoughts played upon his and he knew he should look
downward, to the Marscape below. He saw the outer bounds of Go-La-Ra, the
three pinnacles and a wild thoat upon the mossy flatlands. Then John Carter
looked more carefully and he recognized the mount and its rider.
The green girl waved her sword in circles
high above her head. She projected her thoughts with all her might, upward
at the strange scene above her. But if her friends saw her they gave no
indication of it. A few scattered images of the giant bird and its unwanted
passengers played across her mind, but those came from steadfast Woola,
not from the minds of the two humans.
Sola looked at the empty rifle boot
beside her in anguish. If only they had fled Thark with a radium rifle,
she might use the weapon to some good effect now. But their lone rifle
had been lost with the runaway thoat at the courtyard of Tal Hajus and
the Jasoomian's pistol had been taken by her father. So Sola, the faithful
green friend of John Carter and Dejah Thoris, and Woola, the Earthman's
loyal calot, could only look on helplessly as events unfolded which were
beyond their power to influence in the slightest.
"I think there may be a way, Dejah
Thoris!" Carter shouted; but no reply came from the maiden.
There was nothing he could do but attempt
the daring plan that had formed in his head. Drawing his long-sword, he
began slicing away at the bird's flight feathers, each time the flapping
left wing came within reach. The durkoos had been losing altitude since
it left the city and now it flew erratically -- first one way then another.
Finally the feathered monster dipped far downward. John Carter's legs released
their hold and both man and girl dropped to the ground.
Relieved of the heavy burden, the fighting
monsters rose again. However the wing of the durkoos was so badly damaged
that it could not stay aloft for long. Both bird and dragon plunged into
the long abandoned quays of Go-La-Ra and perished in one of the smoking
craters that poured out the deadly purple vapors.
The couple had landed a few hundred
paces from the base of the pinnacles and John Carter recalled the cistern
of yellow protective oil. If he could just drag the rigid body of Dejah
Thoris that far, perhaps there was yet hope. Along the way he was overtaken
by an overjoyed Woola, but the Earthman could only offer a few words of
welcome. He strained to carry his princess the remaining distance.
His happy reunion with the green girl
was short-lived, for the princess' body, affected by the vapors of the
city, had suddenly turned totally rigid and stony. Sola dismounted and
helped him carry the frozen princess the short distance to the cistern.
They lay the lifeless form out upon her back and applied the singular oil
all over her body, but to no avail. She remained a statue, though her two
friends watched and waited for an hour or more.
John Carter insisted that they remove
themselves as far away as possible from the dead city and its accursed
mists, so it was late in the night before he and Sola stopped at a suitable
spot on the sea bottom to make their camp. Both of them were overcome with
grief at the girl's undeserved fate, but neither the Thark nor the Earthman
could find the words to express that common sorrow. They kept a silent
vigil over the body, until the exhausted and afflicted man at last fell
The daughter of Tars Tarkas and Gozava
remained awake all night, grieving over the loss of her one dear female
friend on all of warlike Barsoom. She had brought a flask of the yellow
oil with her and half of this she added to that coating already covering
the girl's body, but no good came of it. By a slip of her hand she knocked
into the rigid hair of Dejah Thoris and a curl fell away from her head
as though it were broken glass. Then Sola too cried.
While John Carter slept the green girl
applied the remaining oil to his naked body, cleaning his several bad cuts
and scratches in the process. His right arm was stony almost to the elbow,
but on the man's left side only three of the fingers had turned gray and
they were not entirely unbending. The Thark continued to massage the afflicted
fingers, rubbing in the lemon hued oil until it had well penetrated the
skin. Then she and the calot kept each other company until daybreak.
Sola prepared what little food was
left in the saddle bags and waited for the Earthman to awaken. She then
inspected the sleeping man's calcified fingers. They were no better, but
at least they were no worse. Then she knew not what else to do, but eventually
most satisfactory idea came to her.
"Why, of course!" she said aloud. "The
Plateau of Eo is but three days' walk from here. There we may yet find
a remedy for this terrible malady!