CHAPTER 61: "UNEQUAL STRUGGLE"
Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst
The giant bird-man screeched in terrible agony. With one
hand he pulled the long-sword from his ruptured blind eye. Then he slapped
and scraped at his neck and shoulder, over and over again, in a frantic
effort to discover and dislodge his tiny attacker. Gizank was moving wildly
about and screaming at the top of his lungs, but the stubborn brute refused
to relinquish his hold on the princess. Her red cheeks grew pale and her
eyes were thrown back in an unseeing gaze. Gizank's strong talons were
not only suffocating Dejah Thoris, his vice-like grip has about to break
the girl's neck.
John Carter hung onto the feathers behind one ear of the
gyrating monster, expecting that at any moment he might be thrown into
the air or crushed by Gizanck's free hand. But when he saw the princess'
body go totally limp in the grip of the bird-man's other hand, the Earthman
knew that he must take desperate measures at once. Ignoring the continual
blows of the half-blinded giant's free hand, he lunged forward and grasped
the blood-stained feathers just below the creature's injured eye. In a
blur of motion John Carter drew his short-sword and behind his renewed
assault Carter hurled the entire weight of his body. Shoulder deep he plunged
his arm and the weapon into the gore of Gizank's broken eyeball.
John Carter could not see the results of his daring attack
-- that the monster had at last loosened his stranglehold upon the imperiled
young woman -- but he knew that the bird-man was yet standing and shrieking
so loudly that other bird-men might soon be rushing to aid their injured
Again the Virginian drove his blade home and this time
he was certain its piont had passed beyond the bony walls of the monster's
eye-socket. With a shriek of anguish louder than all the others, the chicken-headed
warrior at last released his grip on the poor girl. The Earthman's sword
point had pierced a vital spot in Gizank's brain.
Dejah Thoris had fallen into the tall grass beside the
trail. With all her might she struggled to hold onto her senses. Her mind
drifted in and out of darkness, but with one supreme effort of her will
the princess rolled over and swung out an arm to seize the lurching bird-man.
In wrathful confusion the bird-like monster continued
to strike blindly at the excruciating pain. The strikes came so hard and
fast that John Carter could not dodge them all. A chance blow of Gizank's
huge hand struck Carter and sent him hurtling toward the ground.
Although he has never been a religious man, Captain Carter
has long been convinced that some unexplained hand of providence protects
him in the times of greatest peril. His confidence in that otherworldly
preservation was once again rewarded. Certain death would have come to
the falling swordsman had not Gizank's barbaric necklace swung over to
one side, just as he plunged backward from the bird-man's neck. His leg
caught upon the thing and Carter swung back and forth, upside down on Gizank's
Her second attempt to grab Gizank's foot was successful.
The Princess of Helium held onto the monstrous three-toed appendage and
the dying bird-man stumbled and fell upon his back, like a lightning smitten
tree. Gizank, the giant chicken-headed savage, lay dead in the silent forest.
Sola and the robot leader had been momentarily distracted
by their conversation and had not noticed the sleeping Jasoomian's increasing
restlessness. The dreamer had moved to one side of his silken mattress
and was entangled in the harness and weapons the green girl had placed
by his side.
"He awakens!" cried the Thark maiden.
The girl and the metal man rushed to John Carter's side,
but they soon saw he was not awake. Rather, he continued his restive motions
and was mumbling a broken stream of inarticulate groans and sighs.
"Quick, move these things," bade Oman. "I'll help him
back onto his bed."
Sola removed the Earthman's scant possession and then
turned to assist the robot. Woola also got into the activity, but the anxious
beast was potentially more harmful than helpful. Only after repeated scoldings
from the green maiden did the calot settle down and content himself with
closely observing the strange happenings from a distance.
John Carter's earthly muscles were strong, but Oman's
metal limbs were stronger still. Acting as carefully as he could not to
injure the unconscious man, the robot effectively restrained his legs and
one arm. Unbidden, Sola bent over John Carter, holding his other arm in
her lower hands and resting her upper hands near enough to his head to
hold it down also, if necessary.
"Is this the way you thought it would be, when they come
out of their trances?" Sola questioned the mechanical odwar.
"I had not idea what to expect," he answered. "But I've
always feared they would awaken insane -- if they came back to the world
of the living at all."
"His thoughts are coming into my mind," exclaimed Sola.
"Dotar Sojat still sleeps, but in his mind he is raving like a madman!"