CHAPTER 39: "DRINK OF DOOM"
Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst
Oman, at the head of his troop of mechanical men, looked
on helplessly as John Carter sought to swim clear of Woola's lapping tongue.
But all of the Jasoomian's struggles were in vain -- he was on death's
The giant princess had already become aware of this tragedy
in the making. Looking down from her great height upon the water's surface,
she could just make out the struggling figure that was John Carter. How
tiny he was; no wonder she had missed seeing him previously! Before the
man could be drawn into the calot's mouth, she quickly reached down grasped
him by one foot. Then, dangling him upside down through the air, she cautiously
placed the man in the palm of her other hand. It was only then that the
full horror of her own predicament dawned upon the giantess. In a moment
of distraction or carelessness she might easily crush the life out of the
one man on all of Barsoom that she truly loved!
"Have I hurt you by lifting you up so roughly?" she cried
But to John Carter her words were but a moist rush of
air, rumbling past his ears like a series of thunderclaps.
It was then that Oman interjected his instructions into
the one-sided conversation. Using Vovo's microphone he explained to the
girl that she must alter her manner of speaking and follow her words with
telepathic projections. By this means she might talk to the man and he
might soon learn how to understand her. Again Vovo assured the giantess
that the transformations wrought by Vovo's experiment would eventually
"Fear not, Dejah Thoris," he said. "When the effects of
Vovo's drugs and rays wear off, you will see your size and that of the
calot return to normal. What I say to you may not always seem to make much
sense, but believe me, I understand your situation far better than you
and the Jasoomian can. I cannot always see things as you may see them,
because I now stand apart from the web of delusion Vovo so carefully designed.
But you and he are together again and can help each other to overcome these
unfamiliar difficulties. Trust what I have just told you and there is hope
for you and Dotar Sojat!"
For the next several minutes the most unlikely conversation
imaginable took place, with Oman, Dejah Thoris and John Carter all trying
desperately to communicate with one another. The giantess soon learned
how to discern the Earthman's high-pitched words. So long as she held him
close to her head most of his speech was intelligible. But the girl had
much greater difficulty in making her speech understood by either of the
little beings. Oman's brain was so augmented by robotic circuitry that
he had totally lost the telepathic abilities that all Barsoomians are born
with and share, at least to a small degree. As for the Jasoomian, he could
receive her thoughts but he had little talent for putting them together
in a way that made any sense to him.
Slowly, after much trial and error, the frustrating process
became somewhat less difficult and the three persons began to exchange
words they could all understand. Even Woola joined in the odd interaction.
With a puzzled look upon his great ugly muzzle he scrutinized his old master
and after considerable sniffing and some inscrutable calot cogitation,
accepted him as the John Carter he had known under much different circumstances.
The giantess took Oman into her other hand and lifted
the him to the same level as John Carter. Then she asked both of the men
for their advice about what to do next.
Solemnly Oman spoke: "I was chosen and equipped to lead
the mechano-men long before Vovo was born. Now that he is gone I have resumed
my position as leader of this strange population. There is much work to
be done here. I hope to solve the mystery of what happened to the true
Wizards of Eo and I think I must redirect the robots from their age-old
dealings in the weapons of war. In the meanwhile I wish the two of you
to remain and accept the friendship and hospitality of the Odwar of Eo
and all the mechano-men, who are at your service. In time your minds and
bodies will be totally free of Vovo's pernicious manipulations. Then you
may take the path to Helium, northwestward from the Plateau of Eo across
the dead sea bottom. I can send tireless protectors with you and even guide
your way with the mechanical birds Vovo constructed. Once the flying thoat
has been rebuilt, perhaps you might even make use of it for speedy passage
to your destination."
Then John Carter offered his suggestion: "Oman's offer
is a generous one, but I wish to be gone from this place as soon as possible.
We left Thark in great haste, with little help and practically unarmed.
It is no great wonder that we have met with so many unexpected difficulties.
But now we have an opportunity to regroup, see to our needs, and complete
our journey to Helium in greater safety. Oman worries that we do not see
our present plight very clearly, but my feelings are that the sooner we
leave this place the more quickly our minds will be clear of its sorcery.
A being fifteen times my height can travel many times faster than we did
previously. With a monster like the giant Woola at our side I think we
shall be as safe as any travelers can hope to be on this savage planet.
I am for leaving now, despite all that Oman has offered."
Then Dejah Thoris made her decision. Not only did her
years of royal training induce her to take command, but her recent transformation
now made her the obvious leader.
"Dotar Sojat, you have risked life and limb to rescue
me more than once and I owe you a debt of gratitude that I can never fully
repay, no matter how long a life lies before us. I too wish to leave this
place. I was happy in the desert and I would be happy to return to that
uncertain life, were it not for the fact that the fleets of Helium are
now put at great risk in their continual searching for me. I am hopeful
that a being of my size will be seen and recognized by those engaged in
that massive search, ere we travel a single day in the direction of my
homeland. But you, John -- You are obviously exhausted. Have you eaten
anything since you journeyed to Go-La-Ra in search of me? Have you had
an hour's decent sleep since you left that terrible place to bring me here?
We shall rest here for a day and then begin our journey to Helium."
With that decision made, the giantess carried the Earthman
back to the city where the mechano-men provided for their comfort as best
they could. Oman, however, was nowhere to be seen for several hours. The
oddly matched couple assumed that he was tending to his duties as Odwar
of Eo and did not miss his presence.
"So, you have returned, metal man," remarked the wary
green girl. "But this time your master is not with you; neither is the
magical flying thoat. What has happened on your mountain, that you come
here covered in the dust of the trail? And where are Dejah Thoris and Dotar
Sojat? Tell me the truth -- this place reeks of lies and I will not be
"Vovo is dead." Oman replied. "And unless you do as I
ask, your two friends may suffer a similar fate. Now listen carefully to
what I have to tell you..."