Coyote, a universal and mischievous spirit, lived near Mount Shasta in what is now California. Coyote's village had little fish and no salmon. His neighboring village of Shasta Indians always had more than they could use.
Shasta Indians had built a dam that served as a trap for fish, especially the wonderful salmon. They ate it raw, baked it over hot coals, and dried large quantities for their winter food supply. Other tribes came to Shasta Village to trade for salmon, which created wealth and respect for the Shasta tribe.
One day Coyote was dreaming of a delicious meal of salmon. His mouth watered at the thought of a nice freshly cooked, juicy salmon.
"I am so terribly hungry," he said to himself upon waking. "If I visit the Shasteans, maybe I can have a salmon dinner."
Coyote washed and brushed himself to look neat and clean, then started for Shasta Village with visions of fresh salmon swimming behind his eyes. He found the Shasteans at the dam hauling in big catches of salmon. They welcomed him and said that he could have all the fish he could catch and carry.
Hunger and greed caused Coyote to take more fish than was good for him. Finally, he lifted his big load onto his back and began his homeward journey, after thanking the Shasta Indians for their generosity.
Because his load was extra heavy and he still had a long way to go Coyote soon tired.
"I think I had better rest for a while," he thought. "A short nap will do me good."
He stretched himself full length upon the ground, lying on his stomach, with his pack still on his back. While Coyote slept, swarms and swarms of Yellow Jackets dived down and scooped up his salmon. What was left were bare salmon bones.
Coyote waked very hungry. His first thought was how good a bite of salmon would taste at that moment. Still half-asleep, he turned his head and took a large bite. To his great surprise and anger, his mouth was full of fish bones! His salmon meat was gone. Coyote jumped up and down in a rage shouting, "Who has stolen my salmon? Who has stolen my salmon?"
Coyote searched the ground around him but could not locate any visible tracks. He decided to return to Shasta Village and ask his good friends there if he could have more salmon.
"Whatever happened to you?" they asked when they saw his pack of bare salmon bones.
"I was tired and decided to take a nap," replied Coyote. "While I slept, someone slightly stole all of the good salmon meat that you gave me. I feel very foolish to ask, but may I catch more fish at your dam?"
All of the friendly Shasteans invited him to spend the night and to fish with them in the morning. Again, Coyote caught salmon and made a second pack for his back and started homeward.
Strangely, Coyote tired at about the same place as he had on the day before. Again he stopped to rest, but he decided that he would not sleep today. With his eyes wide open, he saw swarms of hornets approaching. Because he never imagined they were the culprits who stole his salmon, he did nothing.
Quicker than he could blink his eyes, the Yellow Jackets again stripped the salmon meat from the bones and in a flash they disappeared!
Furious with himself, Coyote raged at the Yellow Jackets. Helpless, he ran back to Shasta Village, relating to his friends what he had seen with his own eyes. They listened to his story and they felt sorry for Coyote, losing his second batch of salmon.
"Please take a third pack of fish and go to the same place and rest. We will follow and hide in the bushes beside you and keep the Yellow Jackets from stealing your fish," responded the Shasta Indians.
Coyote departed carrying this third pack of salmon. The Shasteans followed and hid according to plan. While all were waiting, who should come along but Grandfather Turtle.
"Whoever asked you to come here?" said Coyote, annoyed at Grandfather Turtle's intrusion.
Turtle said nothing but just sat there by himself.
"Why did you come here to bother us," taunted Coyote. "We are waiting for the robber Yellow Jackets who stole two packs of salmon. We'll scare them away this time with all my Shasta friends surrounding this place. Why don't you go on your way?"
But Turtle was not bothered by Coyote; he continued to sit there and rest himself. Coyote again mocked Grandfather Turtle and became so involved with him that he was completely unaware when the Yellow Jackets returned. In a flash, they stripped the salmon bones of the delicious meat and flew away!
Coyote and the Shasta Indians were stunned for a moment. But in the next instant, they took off in hot pursuit of the Yellow Jackets. They ran and ran as fast as they could, soon exhausting themselves and dropping out of the race. Not Grandfather Turtle, who plodded steadily along, seeming to know exactly how and where to trail them.
Yellow Jackets, too, knew where they were going, as they flew in a straight line for the top of Mount Shasta. There they took the salmon into the center of the mountain through a hole in the top. Turtle saw where they went, and waited patiently for Coyote and the other stragglers to catch up to him. Finally, they all reached the top, where turtle showed them the hole through which the Yellow Jackets had disappeared.
Coyote directed all the good people to start a big fire on the top of Mount Shasta. They fanned the smoke into the top hole, thinking to smoke out the yellow jackets. But the culprits did not come out, because the smoke found other holes in the side of the mountain.
Frantically, Coyote and the Shasta Indians ran here, there, and everywhere, closing up the smaller smoke holes. They hoped to suffocate the Yellow Jackets within the mountain.
Furiously, they worked at their task while Grandfather Turtle crawled up to the very top of Mount Shasta. Gradually, he lifted himself onto the top hole and sat down, covering it completely with his massive shell, like a Mother Turtle sits on her nest. He succeeded in completely closing the top hole, so that no more smoke escaped.
Coyote and his friends closed all of the smaller holes.
"Surely the Yellow Jackets will soon be dead," said Coyote as he sat down to rest.
What is that rumbling noise, everyone questioned? Louder and louder the noise rumbled from deep within Mount Shasta. Closer and closer to the top came the rumble. Grandfather Turtle decided it was time for him to move from his hot seat.
Suddenly, a terrific explosion occurred within the mountain, spewing smoke, fire, and gravel everywhere!
Then to Coyote's delight, he saw his salmon miraculously pop out from the top hole of Mount Shasta--cooked and smoked, ready to eat!
Coyote, the Shasta Indians, and Grandfather Turtle sat down to a well- deserved meal of delicious salmon.
To this day, the Shasta Indian tribe likes to conclude this tale saying, "This is how volcanic eruptions began long, long ago on Mount Shasta."
Samuel was the first up, even though Robin and Smarn were usually the early ones up, he beat them by several hours.
A lot of the things he had seen and been shown since they had begun this journey had seemed a bit peculiar and off at times. He had let his Detective mind kind of tune out during all of it, but it had been hacking away in the background, tossing up bits and pieces from time to time for him to ponder. He didn't bother Jimbo with his doubts or his concerns, because he had his heart and hands full with Nanny, who was would've kept any honery Texan busy, even one as outrageous as Jimbo tended to be...all blustery, hands on, get dirty and kick their butts action kind of guy that he was.
But Samuel, while he wouldn't eschew action, usually preferred to figure things out before jumping into action. He had been pretty much corralled into action since he had met the Lady Marantha at the Denny's.
He wasn't angry with either Nanny or Jimbo. He wouldn't take back everything they'd done, even the scarier parts of it if he had a choice to do so. So it was with somewhat of a heavy heart for many various reasons that he climbed down from the tree house and headed along the criss crossing bridges of the lake to the highest islet.
It had caught his attention all along. Something about it bothered him, but he couldn't put it into words just yet.
He reached the middle of the lake and the highest islet and stopped at its base. It was the prettiest of them, topped by beautiful rows of flowers that cascaded down its sides with benches between the rows for visitors to enjoy their beauty and fragrance.
Daisies, petunias, marigolds, sunflowers, roses of every hue of the rainbow, azalea, orchids. Just about every kind of flower imaginable, all growing in one spot, all growing in the same conditions, which should, theorhetically, of course, been impossible.
He went up row by row, allowing the scent of the flowers to soothe his troubled soul. For troubled it was. He suspected there was a lot more going on than anyone had told him or Jimbo, and that there was much yet that remained hidden. When he had put his nose to the last violet colored rose...which had been divine...and reminded him of Hawaii and the beautiful orchids there...he reached the summit, where a single bench sat alone and uninhabited. A small fire burned next to it, fed by a channel of fuel that was piped from underground somewhere and fed it.
Yes, Robin's world was far more advanced than it seemed at first. Trees that could mold beds to your sleeping needs, flowers that didn't need special growing circumstances, psychic abilities in almost all the people he'd met...even the tiny elephants, which brought a smile to his face, who he just saw were now trailing him, the Mother Elephant sniffing the ground, then trumpeting to those in the rear to follow her.
They finally reached the islet he sat at the top of. The Mother Elephant raised her nose in greeting and he could swear that one of her eyes had just winked at him.
She turned around and her babies formed a line of defense about the islet, though what they might be defending it from he didn't know.
"Interruption, Sam." Al told him as he materialized on the bench next to Samuel.
Marilyn appeared next, dressed in a lovely all yellow summer dress and yellow shoes, with a yellow bow in her hair. She flashed him one of her usual dazzling smiles, and sat down next to Al on the grass next to him. She took out a half-darned sweater and began darning it as they spoke, her eyes on them and her work as well. She never missed a thing, even though she was usually the quieter of the two.
Anyone who mistook her for stupid or not so smart, had been so wrong, this woman was one of the sharpest cookies ever born. She had just been born too soon.
Sam eyed Al thoughtfully. "This is the moment, isn't it?"
Al nodded his head. "I'm sorry, Sam, but it had to be done this way, or you wouldn't have come this far."
"Far to do what?"
Albert Einstein, one of the greatest minds ever born on Earth, the ghost of him, the angel he had become frowned. "That which is right."
Samuel felt a chill go up his spine. It was reckoning time. Always was. There was some kind of lesson he was supposed to get from all of this that he had been missing because of all the diversions going on...the Nazi attacks, the monster in the snow...the past life regressions. He felt like a sponge that was full to bursting and he had to be squeezed or he would explode.
"None of this is real, is it?" Samuel finally asked.
"Oh, it's real all right." Al answered brightly, but just not as real as it seems at first.
Al didn't say anything.
Then Samuel began weaving through his mind all the events that led to this point in time. "The touch from Lady Marantha was the trigger, wasn't it?"
"Yes. And have you figured out who she is?" Al asked, his eyes watching Samuel for any sense of confusion or digression from the topic.
Samuel put his head in his hands.
"Yes." Albert answered, a tinge of sadness in his voice.
Samuel looked up, but Albert wasn't sad looking. He had a glance that was filled with pride and purpose. "Samuel, you've been hanging onto her since she crossed over. You know you can't do that. Your mission on Earth is too important to live in the past. You're still a young man. You have a whole world. A whole universe to explore yet. And it's so........vast."
Albert touched Samuel on his forehead. Not physically, but with a spiritual touch and Samuel felt a dazzling spiral of colors open up in front of him.
Lady Marantha stepped out of them and stood before him, smiling. Then as he stared hopefully, she began to transform into his mother as he remembered her. Tall, proud, smiling, her warmth like a minature sun shining in the day.
"I love you, Sammie." She told him.
He rose from the bench and reached to hug her. She backed off.
"I'm sorry, son, but I'm not really physical anymore."
"But you touched me before!" He pleaded to her.
"Yes. But that was God's touch not mine."
"I miss you so, so much." He said, his eyes watering with a flow of tears.
"And I am so, so proud of you, my son. So very, very proud. You have become everything a mother could ever have hoped for and so much more."
"But all of this..." He gestured to the world about him. "Why here? Why now?"
"Haven't you known all along?"
And yes he had. Nanny looked too much like someone he had loved with all his heart. It just hadn't occurred to him that it was his mother, because she had altered her appearance in so many ways.
"She's real, Sammie. She's your sister. From my first marriage. That is why you felt so close to her from the very beginning and why you've felt certain feelings so strongly as you get to know her."
"Your father and his first wife."
"All yours, Sammie." She laughed. "All yours. Why else do you think Jimbo loves you so much? He doesn't give a horse's tail for the spiritual side of your life. It's you he cares about, your lightheartedness, your dedication...your drive to do what is right. It brings out the best in him, it honors his own soul's determination to do what is right."
She smiled gently, then began to fade. "But there's more."
Samuel tried to stop her, but his hands passed right through her.
"I love you, Sammie. I always will. Listen to Albert. He's not half bad for an angel kind of guy."
Albert broke into laughter and gave her a wave. "And you're not so bad yourself, madam."
She smiled at him, then extended her hand out towards Samuel, who reached out to touch it. Their fingertips touched and a spark ignited.
Sherwood Forest was much thicker and taller than it looked once they rounded the edges of the lake, which as it turns out, is comprised of a surprisingly large amount of floating settlements, or islands as the villagers call them. They go by very different names too, like Kin Island, Brother Island, Franks Island, Island of Lazies, and so forth.
At first Samuel thought Smarn was just joking when he began pointing to various islets, or islands, and giving them the odd names, but once he began making our way around them, and he could see the connecting ramps between them, and little signs, sort of Hobbit like which were carved and enamaled with the simple, or quite outrageous names.
They made their way towards the end into a lesser aspect of the lake, where the islands thinned out, and a rather large hamlet, or stretch of land moved from the east side of the lake, which was called Marion's Hair. A name Robin's eye twinkles gave away its namer. On the far side of the hamlet were indeed some tree houses, but rather crude by modern day standards, but once Samuel had been in a few, he didn't think them so crude anymore.
That night they climbed into the largest of them. It was Robin and Smarn's home, and about dozen other men and women, who lived on the various levels of the home, which actually merged with the tree and went deep into its roots, where ice and food and extra clothing and weapons were stored.
At dinner that night the men brought out pipes and played dancing jigs, which the women would dance to and we would clap along with. Samuel had never had such a good time before as with these simple people. Not simple, that they were stupid or ignorant, just that they didn't make huge demands of life as most modern men and women might.
Samuel's first awakening to the more complex nature of his new friends, was when he was invited to sleep in Robin's room with Jimbo, while Nanny slept with some of Robin's women friends.
Smarn and Robin both slept in there as well, but there was plenty of room. The beds were carved out of the tree, and formed niches that were just deep and wide enough to along Samuel and Jimbo to stretch out comfortably.
The niches had a kind of hair growing from the walls, which Robin said were sensors of a sort, in that when anyone sleeping on the grass like mattresses got too cold or warm, then extra layers of blankets would grow over them, or away.
It was like being hugged by the tree all night long.
It was a fantasy in many ways. Dream like. And so far from Vegas and its harder style of living that Samuel almost regretted that one day they would have to return.
The four men sat at a small table in the center of the room and played a game called Tarts, which allowed each player to have four cards in each hand, with them playing one from each hand by separating them with their forefingers. This allowed them to view their cards, and then decide which to toss down first. Whoever tossed the most likely cards first...calling them high and getting the highest...won by accumulating points.
Smarn usually won. He didn't look smart, but the giant had a genius intellect. Samuel later found out when Smarn was poking around in the basement of the tree that Smarn had taught the tree to do all the things it did by singing to it.
Smarn sang to the tree in the basement and Samuel watched with fascination as a root sprang into view, then rose into the shape of a chair. When it was finished, it spread out a soft mat of leaves upon its surface for Smarn to sit upon.
"That's amazing!" Samuel told him.
Smarn nodded. "There's more. Watch."
He began whistling and a series of twigs, or what looked like twigs on the earthen floor began to dance with one another. As they did they began growing taller and taller, until they intertwined and formed a plant that resembled a person. Finished, it half bowed to Smarn and then stood at attention.
"Go to watchpost." Smarn told it.
The Leaf Person climbed the ladder from the basement, seeking its goal.
"Watchpost?" The first hint of danger.
Smarn shrugged. "Nothing for certain."
"I thought you were safe here."
"We are. But forest not. The sky men burn down forests."
Robin dropped from above and squatted. "I overhead your question."
Samuel looked at him.
"Methusaleh and the Ancients have tolerated their acts of cruelty for a long time, in the hope that their leader...whom you seem to know...might change and his peoples. We have actually recruited some of them. You may remember the Island of Whites?"
"It's what they call themselves." Robin explained. "The Whites. White power. But they no longer claim to rule the world inside or out. Only to be white, so their island name is both a designation and a self deprecation."
Samuel smiled. "It's good to know that they're not all evil."
"No." Smarn agreed. "Not. Just more now."
Smarn looked sad. "Must crush."
Samuel looked at Smarn. "Crush?"
Robin patted Smarn on his right knee. "It's all right,Smarn. They will be provided for."
Robin looked to Samuel. "Smarn still has some doubts about the after life."
"It seems that your partner and mine have some similarities." Samuel mused.
Jimbo, who had been sleeping, woke up stretched, yawned loudly, then interjected. "Someone has to preserve our sanity in the midst of all the crazy mumbo jumbo you guys do!"
Smarn laughed hard. "Like Jimbo!"
Jimbo preened beneath Smarn's laughter. "Ditto back at ya, big fellah!"
Robin stood up. "Dinner time!"
They climbed to the top of the tree where a great round table had been built. No roof overhead, just a kind of soft cloth, which they later found out was more of the tree's genetics woven into a soft cloth like covering.
Robin and his men served the women, who passed out dishes to everyone from where they sat.
"It's a tradition of equality." Robin explained as he sat down after passing out the last of the breads that had been recently baked in the third basement of the tree."
"We believe that all men and women are created equal in the eyes of God. We not only believe that, but we practice it as well. Something I fear you upper earthers are still working on."
Nanny, who had been silent to that point, lit up. "That just about sums it up."
Jimbo looked over at her. "We're not all that bad."
She gave him a dimpled smile and blinked her eyes at him. "No. You're not."
Robin tapped the table with his knife, then cupped his hands over his heart. He closed his eyes and prayed. Samuel and the others closed their eyes.
He and Jimbo listened as Robin spoke. "Dear One Light, the Center of all that we are, we thank and praise you for our abundance, for our lives and for our souls. Amen!"
Samuel opened his eyes a moment as the prayers were going on and he saw a nimbus of golden light dancing around Robin's body as he spoke. Behind Robin Al and M were smiling and waving. Having themselves a great time. Between them stood Methusaleh, beaming at Samuel and his friends.
Well. Well. Well. Thought Samuel.
Robin opened his eyes and then broke into laughter. "And after dinner, I will show you something that will truly amaze you."
Samuel saw Al and M and Methusaleh walk off into the air and vanish. "I already have."
The rest of their journey was relatively uneventful.
Mother Elephant recovered several days later with the tender care of Nanny, who it turned out was a quite capable nurse among her many other talents. She never left the Mother Elephant for a moment, making sure she was warm enough, sometimes even using her own body for extra heat, though the baby elephants usually closed in to add warmth as well.
It was quite a site to Samuel and Jimbo as they watched that last morning.
Robin and Smarn were off scouting for the best path back to their home, which was also where they wanted to go.
When Samuel told Robin about Lady Marantha his eyes lit up. "Oh her!"
Smarn smiled. "Smarn!"
Robin glowered at him. "You lovesick puppy!"
Robin eyed Jimbo, who had this look on his face. "Everyone loves her. They can't help it, she has a charm on her."
"Charm?" Jimbo demanded. "No one is charmed!"
"Little do you know, oh tall one." Robin replied, even though he was as tall as Jimbo.
Jimbo looked flustered a moment. "Tell me how then!"
"Do you not believe in the goodness of the One Light?"
Jimbo rolled his eyes. "There we go with all the hocus pocus, spiritual mumbo jumbo again."
Robin looked at Samuel. "Is he always like this?"
"Pretty much." Samuel agreed, winking at Jimbo, who gave him a disgusted look, then walked away, pretending to go looking for food.
"He's in love with the Mommy and the daughter, I take it." Robin commented, as he and Samuel watched Nanny hugging the Mother Elephant, who put her trunk around Nanny's neck and hugged her back.
"Aren't you?" Samuel asked, a hint of amusement in his eye.
"I suppose." Robin said, a touch of sadness in his voice and eyes. "There was one like her once I cared for quite deeply. We came here after the War of the Roses saw the defeat of good King Richard."
"I don't remember him thought of as a good king." Samuel remarked.
"You wouldn't. Those times were rife with the hand of the church, which rewrote history to whichever way it served it. Hence, I becoming a legend to your world, when I was quite real."
"You're that...Robin Hood!" Jimbo exclaimed, having come back with a handful of odd fruit.
"Exactly. And the love of my life was none other than..."
"Maid Marion." Jimbo jumped in with, looking excited for the first time in days.
"My heart and soul."
Robin touched his heart, then wiped at his eyes. The memories were burning his heart once more. Though he was not one to look back, but instead forward, these moments of remembrance were bringing up old pains. He would have to speak to Methusaleh about it, to see if there were something he could do to heal that wound, which it obviously still was, in his heart.
He took a deep breath, then looked up. "Ah, your young friend looks ready to take a journey!"
Nanny joined them. She took Robin's hand and squeezed it. "I wanted to thank you again for rescuing us."
"Oh, it didn't look to me so much like we were rescuing you as assisting you." Robin said with absolute humility. He gave her a half bow and kissed her hand, his eyes never leaving hers. "Though I must admit that I would not find it hard to imagine risking my life to rescue one so fair as..."
"Look at that!" Jimbo interrupted, pointing to the sky. "A flying whatzit!"
Robin jerked away from Nanny's hand and looked.
Samuel burst into laughter.
Nanny and Robin both looked at him.
"Jimbo, time to leave this place, I think."
So they had packed up what little supplies they had gathered, using giant leaves as backpacks, that they had sewn together with strips of bark from the nearby trees. For canteens they used hollow nut shells the size of footballs that had fallen from some of the trees.
Jimbo had come up with the idea when Robin had told him they made their canteens from pieces of wood wrapped with cloth.
Smarn was silent for the rest of the journey, except for the occasional laughter he would give off when the baby elephants ran between his legs as he walked, playing tag with each other. The Mother Elephant followed Nanny like a pet dog, always close to her, its eyes on her constantly.
Robin noticed. "I think even our elephant friend is in love with...what's her name again?"
"Nanny." Jimbo said.
"Nanette." Samuel answered.
Jimbo gave Samuel a searching look.
"She told me when you weren't listening. Out for one of your nature hikes."
"Oh. Yeah. I think she is too. Who wouldn't be? She's smart, pretty as a rose, sharp as a tack..."
"A tack?" Robin asked.
"It's like a nail, but smaller and used to pin paper to boards."
"Why would people waste paper like that?" Robin asked in confusion.
Jimbo winked. "You'd be surprised at some of the things people do upearth these days."
Robin eyed Nanny fiercely as he made his next remark. "I've been thinking a lot about doing just that lately."
"What?" Jimbo asked.
Jimbo caught where Robin was looking and grew fiercesome looking for a moment. Samuel was about to say something, when Jimbo laughed. "You just go on thinking that, feather boy!"
Robin gave Jimbo a scowl, but said nothing in return.
Jimbo had found something that got to Robin and wasn't letting go it.
"With that fancy hat and bow you'll be an instant hit upearth. Robin Hood. Your Medieval boyfriend available for romance."
Jimbo barked with laughter at his own mean spirited joke.
Smarn looked back and growled, revealing his teeth.
Jimbo stopped laughing.
Samuel laughed then. "Oh for the peace of my balcony back in Vegas again."
Robin turned to Samuel. "Tell me about this mythical place called...Vegas."
Jimbo responded instead. "You'd love it there. Thieves run the place and all the women in the shows there are half naked or more."
Robin gave Jimbo a horrorfied look. "That is indeed most foul! What maiden of honor would ever reveal herself in such ways?"
Jimbo was suddenly dumbfounded and speechless. He couldn't think of anything to reply that made sense.
Samuel saved him. "Look, I can see the lake again."
They all stopped on the rise they had just reached the top of and looked down at the people working in the fields. The hint of smoke came from the thick forests beyond the waters.
"You'll like it here in Sherwood Forest." Robin pointed out with pride.
"Sherwood Forest?" Nanny asked with surprise.
"Oh yes. When I first arrived here I immediately saw that it was the spitting image of the resplendent forests of Old England we had resided within."
Smarn shook his head, but Robin ignored him.
"We even have tree houses."
Smarn shook his head.
Robin gave him a scowl. "Well, some of us do."
Smarn didn't move.
The Shasta Caper
by John Pirillo
The Mother of the tiny elephants raised her trumpeting nose and blew hard. The tribe behind her did likewise and the corridor filled with the sound of tiny trumpet like sounds tearing through the air.
The Dragon Snake put on the brakes, catching itself between the walls, its eyes going wide with terror as the tiny swarm of elephants, still trumpeting charged it.
"This is ridiculous!" Nanny said. "They're all going to die!"
Samuel noticed the platform was still intact and hurried over to it.
He righted it, then turned it about so it was facing the Dragon Snake.
"Jimbo, feed the snake!"
"I beg your pardon!" Jimbo roared indignantly.
Then he saw what Samuel was planning.
"Sure thing, Boss." He snapped next, then he ran after the elephants, catching up to them, screaming at the top of his lungs.
"You two crazy!" Nanny screamed. "It's going to eat him for a snack and then come for us!"
Samuel smiled, then engaged the platform. It took him a few moments to master its controls, then he flung it forward.
The Dragon Snake overcame its fear of the tiny things charging it, and then it opened its moutn wide again. It slithered forward rapidly, frothing at the mouth.
Jimbo braked, then threw himself flat to the floor as he felt something approaching from behind.
Samuel flew overhead on the platform, gaining speed.
"Come on, baby!" Samuel urged the platform as it moved faster and faster.
The Dragon Snake's attention went to Samuel, just as he leaped from the platform and hit the floor rolling. But it was too late to close its jaws. The platform flew into his mouth and kept on going down into its throat.
The Dragon Snake made a horrible roar that ended in a choking sound, then it coiled upwards, banging its head against the ceiling, trying to dislodge the platform from its throat.
Smarn and Robin stepped in front of Nanny.
Robin raised his bow and fired first one arrow, then another rapidly.
One struck the snake in its throat and another in its other eye.
The Dragon Snake tried to roar again, but only succeeded in lodging the platform deeper in its throat, blocking its air passage. It struggled mightily to breathe, flailing about.
Samuel jumped to his feet and urged the tiny elephants to follow him. They stood their ground.
The Dragon Snake fell back down, almost smashing into the elephants, just inches shy of them, sending a cloud of dust into the air.
Samuel ran up to his friends.
The Mother elephant raised her trunk in triump and trumpeted. The others followed, then they all turned around and headed back to the humans.
"Well, that should do it for now." Robin said with a grin. "I suggest we make ourselves scarce before they figure out we're the reason for their pet's death."
They ran back through the side door that Robin and Smarn had come through, elephants and all, making a strange scene to the few soldiers who were heading down the side corridor to stop them.
This time the Mother elephant didn't stop. She rammed the nearest of the guards, goring him with her horns.
Before the other could do anything, Smarn smashed him into the air, sending him sailing backwards.
Robin bashed the gored guard in the head with the butt of his knife, dropping him like a stone.
Then they cut into a new corridor, dashed about twenty yards to the sound of new soldiers coming loudly behind them and entered a hanger, where numbers of flying vessels were anchored.
One was disgorging soldiers. They saw Robin and his friends and raised the alarm.
Robin fired arrow after arrow, dropping the men before they could fire.
When the last had fallen, Robin turned to Samuel. "Our ride awaits us."
They rushed into the ship, helping the tiny elephants mount the stairway until all were inside. They slammed the door shut, just as dozens of soldiers entered the hanger, firing their weapons. Energy beams splashed along the outer hall, but did no significant damage, as Robin and Smarn settled into the cockpit.
Robin looked over at Smarn. "Your turn, Little Smarn."
"Smarn!" Smarn replied, then delicately began manipulating the controls, until the air ship floated several feet above the ground, then turned on its axis, facing the other end of the hanger.
"Hold onto something!" Robin warned Samuel and his friends. "It might get a bit rough from here!"
Smarn jammed a control on the floor with his right foot and the air ship shot for the opening, amidst a volley of energy blasts behind them.
"We have to get to safety before they can follow us." Robin explained. "
They shout out the opening.
That was when Samuel and his friends realized they were inside the Floating City. The air ship spun to the left and they could see how small and insignificant the ship was next to the huge floating city.
"Smarn!" Smarn swore as the craft began to wobble uncertainly.
Robin looked at him. "Stabilize!"
"Not know how."
Robin swore. "Now you tell me! I thought you knew how to fly these things."
"Smarn never said he could fly it all the way. Just fly it part of the way."
Robin cursed, then looked at the others as the ship began loosing altitude and hurtling towards a vast range of mountains below, thickly forested. "Hold on, this is going to be a rough landing!"
Smarn looked at the controls and flipped a switch. The ship turned upside down and everyone tumbled to the ceiling.
Elephants and people screamed and trumpeted as they tried to get back on their feet, panic and fear gripping the cockpit.
Samuel looked over at Jimbo. "You all right?"
"Do I look all right?"
Jimbo gripped a chair, then put an arm about Nanny. She shoved him off. "I can handle this."
She gripped him with both arms.
She punched him and that was the last thing she did before the air ship crashed.
Samuel, Jimbo and Nanny tensed as the Dragon Snake, which it resembled with its vestigial wings and huge scaly snout with blood red eyes, and row after row of pointed scales that alone could kill or crush someone to death, suddenly came out of its trance.
It slithered closer, its snout lowering to get a closer look at them.
The Leader of the Damned raised his mike to his mouth again as more spotlights lit the area of the Tube Battlefield, spotlighting the Dragon Snake and each of the three humans below facing it. "Just look at this site, ladies and gentleman. Mein Fuehrer! They represent the culmination of human history in the Upper Earthers, and what do you see?"
The crowd roared, "DEATH!"
"Exactly. Death and destruction. They are nothing compared to our might and glory. The Aryan race is gloried in us! Now without further comment, I leave you to this brief spectacle of subspecies fighting subspecies!"
Jimbo raised a bone in his hand and shook it at the Leader of the Damned. "You're so damned tough, get your ass down here and fight me man to man!"
The chamber went deathly quiet.
Jimbo thought maybe it was really going to happen.
Then the Crowd roared with laughter.
They began clapping their hands together over and over. "Death. Death. Death!"
Jimbo snarled angrily and glared at the huge Dragon Snake. "It may eat me for a snack, but not before I take a piece of it with me."
Samuel tried to restrain his friend. "It's not over yet."
"You always say that before the proverbial poo hits the fan, Sammie! It's been nice knowing you. See you on the other side...if there is another side." Jimbo growled, then charged the Dragon Snake.
Before the Dragon Snake could react Jimbo leapt onto its back and ran lightly up its spine, then thrust his bone spur into its right eye. The Dragon Snake roared in pain and frustration, its gigantic tail lashing across the battlefield.
Samuel grabbed Nanny and threw them both to the left, as the tail swept through where they had just stood. A second longer and they would have been mashed to pieces by the sharp scales of the snake.
Jimbo looked up at the startled Leader of the Damned. "Who's so high and mighty now, you stupid cow dung!"
Jimbo gauged the distance between him and the Leader and leaped. He barely caught hold of the platform as it began to lift, urged on by the Leader, who realized he was in danger.
The crowd began jeering and booing.
The Leader of the Damned stiffened and turned around, just as Jimbo climbed onto the platform. He towered over the Leader, his eyes bloodshot and filled with anger.
"I think you had something to say to me!"
The Leader reacted quickly. He unholstered his weapon to fire at Jimbo, who kicked it from his hand, then slammed a fist into his jaw, sending him plummeting into the Tube Battlefield.
The Leader of the Damned lay there stunned, gathering his senses, his gun several feet away from his hand, when a shadow fell across him. He looked up.
The Dragon Snake was looking into his face, flicking its tongue hungrily.
He rolled to reach his weapon.
And just like that he was roadkill for the Dragon Snake as it lifted its head with the Leader of the Damned clenched between its jaws.
The Leader of the Damned look to his fellow comrades. "SAVE ME!" He begged.
He looked up. The entire crowd looked up.
Hitler rose slowly and with great effort, then raised a thumb in the air.
Even the Dragon Snake was caught up in the moment, its eyes catching the movement high above.
Hitler's thumb turned downwards.
The Dragon Snake tore the Leader of the Damned's body in two, sending sprays of blood and gore across the battlefield.
Nanny screamed in horror.
Samuel pulled her close. He felt the horror as well, knowing that they would be next.
The crowd roared with cheers, then began clapping again.
"Death! Death! Death!"
Jimbo looked at the controls of the platform he stood upon. A lever clearly marked up and one down, and two to the right and left. He played with them as the Dragon Snake upended its head, allowing the remains of the Leader of the Damned to slide down its throat into its stomach.
Then it eyed Samuel and Nanny and its tongue flicked across its snout hungrily.
Jimbo moved a lever left and almost threw himself off the platform.
He caught himself, then pulled it gently to the center again, stabilizing the platform.
"Gotcha now, baby!" He snarled with satisfaction.
Samuel and Nanny fell back as the Dragon Snake lowered its snout and slitered noisily across bones, snapping and crunching them as it neared.
The Crowd kept screaming, "Death!"
Hitler remained standing and watching the oncoming slaughter.
He was too far up for Samuel to get a clear view of him, but he could swear the man didn't look right in some way.
Samuel's attention snapped back to the Dragon Snake as it closed in on him and Nanny.
"Nanny, you have to listen to me." He told her.
She was shaking so violently, he thought she might be having a heart attack or a seizure.
"When I charge the snake you must run behind it and to the opening on the other side."
"I won't abandon you!" She said through gritted teeth.
"You must try!" He urged her desperately.
She looked into his face and saw his determination. "You and Jimbo are something else."
She swung her arms about his neck and gave him a quick kiss on the lips, then as he ran for the snake and shouted, "NOW!" She ran around its side for the exit.
Samuel was about to be engulfed by the Dragon Snake's huge mouth, when something from above swooped down and a powerful hand grabbed him by his right arm and swung him upwards, almost wrenching his arm out of its socket. He landed on his side on the platform that Jimbo had commandeered.
Samuel looked up and grinned. "My hero!"
"You bet your pretty...blank and blank...I am." He said with a grin.
"Hold on, buddy!" He ordered, and as Samuel gripped at the railing next to him, Jimbo swung the platform around and shot upwards, just as the Dragon Snake hurled itself at them.
It missed, but barely.
It caused Samuel to be flung off the platform. He caught the railing in the nick of time, but his feet and legs hung dangerously in reach of the Dragon Snake, which whirled around swiftly, its right eye still bleeding from Jimbo's thrust and launched itself again.
Jimbo urged the platform higher towards the nearer balconies.
The crowd cheered and clapped as the Snake barely missed them again.
This time Jimbo dropped lower, then caught the Dragon Snake's good eye. "Here kitty, kitty!"
"Hang on, Samuel!" He warned, then as the Dragon Snake coiled itself to strike, he raised the platform to the same level as the nearest balcony.
Some of the crowd there kept cheering, but others were starting to get nervous. No one was armed. They had never had anything go so horribly wrong before. Some realized what could happen and leaped from their privileged chairs to swarm towards the exits. Before they could reach it, the Dragon Snake shot upwards at the taunting Jimbo.
He shot the platform straight up.
The Dragon Snake landed in the first balcony.
The Shasta Caper
by John Pirillo
Robin and Smarn had a hard time hiding on the ground floor of the containment area where the prisoners were being held. The prisoners were so frightened that they were literally weeping to be freed, but Robin couldn't risk it. It would probably mean their immediate death if he freed them now. So with a finger to his lips for silence he climbed Smarn's shoulders and leaped to an overhanging cargo area. He reached his bow down and Smarn used it to swing himself up beside Robin. It was a routine they had practiced for years in the Hollow Lands as they were called by he and his peoples.
The Hollow Earth, most people think, is a land of Holy Ones, whose vibration is so pure that they can't tolerate or live with anyone else, when the reality was that the interior of the earth was so vast that those of the secretive and spiritual sort, like the so-called Holy Ones, tended to be safely secure in one of the areas usually remote to access and well hidden, such as the Higher Mountains which some called the underbelly of Mount Shasta and the Himalayas.
If one could draw a line marking the mountains inside it would form an almost perfect star, with the ranges crisscrossing each other below, even if above, they appeared in a totally different pattern.
Robin had spoken with Methusaleh once about the pattern and the nature of the hidden world below and he had laughed and said that God wasn't talking.
Robin had been confused at the time, for that was centuries ago now, but with time and age and experience he had learned much about the Inner World...or the Hollow Earth as it was named by the Upper Earthers, as they were called by those who lived beneath them.
Basically, the mountains were power storages. They held tremendous forces which if unleashed at the same time could shatter the planet, much as had been done to the ancient planet of Maldek when its citizens became so dark and evil that the Ancient Ones could no longer allow them to spread their vibrations across the universe.
Those planterary chunks left of the dark planet now orbited near Mars. The asteroid belt. A grim reminder of how the universe can correct itself when necessary to get rid of annoying dark spots in its matter areas.
Smarn smelled like corn cobs as Robin lay next to him. He only smelled that way when he was afraid, or nervous, or building up his courage for battle. He knew Smarn wasn't afraid and by the tension he felt in Smarn, he knew his tall friend was anything but nervous. He was getting ready to do what must be done to protect his neighbors below.
Many of the caught ones cuffed to the poles below had come from neighboring villages and thanks to that, Robin was able to convince them to be quiet, even though they knew that help might be very close for them. Their terror had to be great, as he and they knew what happened to those brought to the realm of the Dark Ones, as the germanic tribes were called. The Battle Tubes were known to be a fatal field of play for prisoners.
Robin remembered when that area of the world had been inhabited by peaceful Indians who had descended from the Shasta area above to escape the rampages of the white man, who plundered their lands for wealth and rape.
Robin shuddered when he thought of the anguish his beloved friends had been through. He had fought the savagery of a terrible king and they had to fight against the ravage of not only the white men above, but the Dark Ones below.
Robin with the help of Smarn and his giant friends had managed to secure the freedom and safety of most of their tribe, but many had fallen in the last battle that caused their fall and the capture of the lands by the Dark Ones.
It had happened almost a century ago now, sometime towards the end of the second war above. He frowned at that thought. Everyone below still shook in terror at the tests that had been constructed and carried through by both the Dark Ones and the Allied Nations who had fought the.
Atomic bombs they were called if he remembered correctly.
He swiped at his forehead where beads of sweat were forming. Must be some kind of heating grid overhead causing the rise of body temperature. He glanced aside at Smarn, and his noble face was glistening with sweat.
"Soon." He told Smarn.
Smarn nodded. He was short of words when none were needed, but long in action when that occurred.
Robin again thought of what had happened when the first atomic weapons had been detonated above. He had been exploring the Inner Lands with some of his friends when the first had gone off. The sky above had shaken terribly and darkened. Every single animal for miles around had fled in terror. The skies, which never had a dark cloud in them, suddenly filled with terrible storms that tore and ripped at the landscape, sweeping him and his men off their feet and tumbling them like rags about the land, until they could finally secure themselves safely.
It had been a terrible time and he remembered Methusaleh being angry for one of the first times he had ever none him. "This must not go on!" He had proclaimed!
Robin knew from the look on his face that it would not bode well for those above if they continued in the vanity of their destruction and self destructive ways.
But as the years rolled by and more and more of the devices were exploded on the surface Methusaleh calmed down. Robin had sat with him on the Great Stone one night as they looked out over the valleys below and asked him upfront. "Why?"
Methusaleh had sighed. "It is with great pain and effort that we deny the freewill of mankind."
"But these people above risk destroying us as well." Robin protested.
Methusaleh had given him a long and searching look. Robin had felt when he looked in those ancient eyes as if he were falling into an infinite ocean of kindness and calm.
"It will not be allowed!"
And that was the last time either had spoken of the weapons and soon thereafter the testing had stopped, even though some minor testing proceeded, which Robin assumed were done in stealth as none who descended from above brought word of them.
The sound of laughter brought Robin's attention back to the prisoners below. The soldiers were entering up the ramp. It closed and they dispersed themselves about the room, weapons held loosely, but at the ready in case any of their prisoners got any ideas.
Then the ship began to vibrate strongly.
The prisoners looked up at Robin, but he shook his head sternly. They all looked back down again, but their terror was absolute. He felt it. It caused the air in the large hold to stink as many gave off their odors of fear.
The vibrating stopped, then he felt a sense of motion. Gentle at first, then more urgent.
He glanced at Smarn. Smarn looked into his eyes. He only hoped that they would be able to rescue the strangers, as well as those below. His hand tensed on his bow and his blade. His eyes narrowed as he counted the soldiers below. Only two dozen.
The Shasta Caper
by John Pirillo
Robin motioned Smarn to drop lower beside him. The giant did so and peered the direction Robin was pointing. A gigantic air ship was loading cargo in the shade of gigantic trees and a large uprising of earth and boulders. Soldiers were carrying something into the back of the vessel. It took a moment, before Robin recognized what they were.
"Those bastards are loading people like freight!"
Smarn tried to jump to his feet, but Robin held him down. "We must do this right. It won't do any of them good if we are captured too, my friend."
"Methusaleh would be very mad if he could see this."
"Smarn, you underestimate our leader. He sees more than he lets on."
"But why would he allow this?"
"God only knows." Robin answered, feeling a bit of stickiness inside about it as well, but also knowing that Methusaleh never withheld his hand unless it was for a good reason.
Robin spotted an area of deep shade to their right that worked around the edges of the forest to the back of the ship.
The soldiers finished loading and wandered off, joking and chatting. They took a spot to the left of the ship and settled down to eat.
Smarn grinned at him.
"I'll distract them while you get into the back." Smarn said.
He kept hunched over and began working his way to the shadows with Robin in tow. Robin got several feet, then froze. He had heard something behind him. He spun around, an arrow to his bow, then relaxed.
He laughed. "Mother, Mother, Mother. What shall we do with you?"
Behind he and Smarn was the whole tribe of miniature elephants, led by the Mother. She raised her nose, but didn't trumpet.
Smarn looked back. "What?"
"I think you may be getting your answer, Smarn. And a little help as well!"
The Captain of the Soliders was leaning against the side of the ship in the midst of making a joke when he heard a series of trumpeting sounds. He and his men all jumped to their feet and drew weapons as the tribe of elephants came running into view. They came up to the soldiers and made begging noises.
"I think they want food, Captain." One of the men said, then tossed a piece of his sandwich, which several elephants swarmed after.
In a matter of seconds the soldiers had their attention totally absorbed in feeding the baby elephants, which sidled up to them and cuddled. The soldiers ate it up and laughed heartily, playing with the little guys, while also feeding them.
Robin and Smarn watched from near the back.
"See Smarn, even the evil men have some good in them."
"Then why do they do such evil things?"
"Men are not always reasonable when it comes to that." Robin replied, his eyes sparkling. "It takes a lot of experience for a man's soul to tell the difference sometimes. But enough of philosophy we have a job to do!"
They rushed into the back of the ship, vanishing from view.
The Mother who had been watching everything from the other side of the ship, trumpeted loudly and the tiny elephants began slipping away from the soldiers, one by one.
One soldier tried to hold onto one of the little guys, then thought better of it when the tiny elephant blew a chunk of slimy water from its nose into his face.
The soldiers all gathered around the poor fellow and laughed at him as he wiped at the mess desperate to get it off himself.
Robin and Smarn made their way into the interior of the ship. No one met them. No resistance crossed their path. Finally, they came to a large room with a window into it. Smarn looked in. "Here!"
Robin looked inside. All the people they had seen loaded onto the ship were inside, laid down like so much meat on their sides, unable to free themselves from the restraints and the poles that had been used to carry them inside.
Robin looked at Smarn. "How good are you at picking locks?"
Robin's answer came quickly after they entered. Smarn took the first lock of a captive who looked up at him in with wide eyes, then snapped it like a paper chain.
Robin grinned. "Keep up the good work, Little Smarn!"
Samuel held up a hand for everyone to slow behind him. They peered around him and saw a very strange looking cylindrical building set inside the corridor. It measured about twenty feet in diameter. It had a door inset into it and closed off the corridor.
A strange symbol marked its entrance.
"I wonder what that means?" Jimbo said, his eyes examining the area for any kind of trap.
"Kind of strange that no one has come after us yet."
Samuel looked at Nanny. "I don't like it either."
"Ask Al?" Jimbo suggested.
But Al was nowhere to be seen. Nor was Marilyn.
Samuel shrugged. "I think we're on our own with this one, guys."
They moved forward cautiously, then tried the door. It seemed to be operational. Jimbo gribbed its knob, while Samuel went to the other side to cover him if someone was waiting there.
Jimbo flung it open.
Samuel looked inside. It was just an empty space littered with white chunks all over the floor. Another door was set in the far war.
"Nothing!" Samuel said.
They entered the room cautiously. Jimbo shut the door behind them. As he finished it made a whining sound, then a loud click.
"Damn!" Jimbo whined. "Sucker punched!"
He tried the door until his face turned red. Nothing budged.
"Oh God!" Nanny cried out, as her foot slammed into something white on the floor with two holes in it.
Samuel spun around, ready to shoot, but stopped when he realized what had startled her. It was a skull. A human skull.
Then as he and his friends turned their attention more closely to the floor, which was dimly lit by some wall lights that flickered, creating deep shadows, they saw the floor was littered with the bones of people and heads.
"It's a graveyard!" Nanny hissed in fear.
Above them massive windows began to slide open and balconies push out into view. Hundreds of men and women with blonde hair and startling blue eyes stepped onto the balconies to look down at them.
"No." Samuel stated. "Not a graveyard at all."
Jimbo looked up at the massed humans above them. "It's a battle field!"
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