PREVIOUSLY: Mariner and the others pursue the monstrous insect that has flown off with Mara. After a battle, the insect is killed and Mara rescued...but then Professor Huss makes another discovery as he pulls a glowing sphere from the river...
“Sweet Jesus,” gasped Mariner. “What is that thing?”
“It’s a meteorite,” replied Huss, excitedly. “The glow must be some sort of radiation, and if I’m not mistaken it’s the cause of the mutated creatures we’ve encountered. This stream must be contaminated with unknown elements from the rock, and any animal or insect that drinks from or breeds in the water absorbs the radioactivity, and is thus transformed. This would also account for the crimson aura that surrounds the beasts.”
Staggering ashore under the weight of the meteorite, he dropped it near Mara, and began an animated conversation with her in German, his eyes aglow with fanatical zeal as he thought of the use to which it could be put.
“Huss, are you crazy?” shouted Mariner. “Keep that thing away from the girls and yourself. It could be dangerous.”
“If it was dangerous it would have killed the animals, not evolved them into superior forms,” replied Huss, with a dismissive air. “Besides, the fact that we haven’t spotted a huge number of mutations indicates a lengthy exposure is required before hereditary changes occur. If this explanation doesn’t satisfy you, then go hide in the bushes.”
Mariner stifled a sharp reply, turned on his heel and left. He knew if he stayed a moment longer he’d explode and hit the German so hard the man probably wouldn’t get up. He was determined not to be provoked further by Huss’s rancid tongue, which goaded him to stain his hands with blood.
Sitting on a log with his back to the group, he breathed deeply, letting the anger drain out of his body, desperately thinking: “God, how am I going to protect the girls from Huss’s arrogant stupidity?”
Presently, Ma-Ku joined him.
“Captain,” she whispered as she glanced furtively over her shoulder, badly frightened, but feeling what she knew was more important than her own safety. “I must speak to you about Professor Huss.”
“Go on,” prompted Mariner, with a
|“I was educated at a mission school run by Germans, and understand the language far better than those two realize. The Professor is a Nazi sympathizer and plans to give the meteorite to Hitler’s scientists so they can use it to breed a race of supermen*. Oh, Captain, I’m so afraid. I’ve heard terrible things about these Nazis.”||*Footnote: Huss was probably referring to the Lebensborn (spring of life), a eugenics organization founded in Germany, 1935, for the purpose of breeding a ‘pure’ Aryan race.|
“So have I. Don’t worry, Ma-Ku,” he replied grimly, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder, bitterly realizing that even in this remote corner of the world, he could not escape the madness that Europe was breeding. “If that’s the case then I’ll make sure that rock never leaves this island. But what of Mara, how does she feel about her father’s plans?”
“She is in complete agreement with them,” answered a cool voice from behind. “I’ve got you covered, now slowly lower your rifle.”
Ma-Ku gasped and gripped Mariner’s arm. They both turned and saw Mara behind them, a Luger held in her unwavering hand. Mariner was not easily frightened, but it was the expression on her face, not the gun, that made him so. She seemed to have stepped outside the realm of humanity, and entered some dark fantasy that had seduced her from the brotherhood of Man.
“Well Captain, I’m glad to see you have enough sense to lower your weapon, but do you have enough sense to join our glorious enterprise? The Third Reich needs strong men such as you...as do I.”
“And Ma-Ku, what of her?” Asked Mariner, glancing at the Chinese girl, whose mind and body were paralysed by the rigid coils of fear.
“There is no place for the lesser races in our plans.”
“I see,” said Mariner, revulsion plainly evident in his voice. He continued, his anger making him foolishly honest: “Well, racists may claim to be members of a better breed, but I have found their words and deeds prove the very opposite. I’m afraid your Nazi ideology leaves me cold.”
“Look at what I’m offering you, you fool,” cried Mara, ripping open her jacket to reveal the pertness of her naked breasts. “Or can it be that you prefer that yellow bitch?”
Mariner looked away, disgusted not by the sight of bare flesh, but because her naked soul stood revealed in all its dark design. He wondered how he could have been so blind.
“My God, it's true,” cried Mara in disbelief as she grabbed Ma-Ku by the hair and hauled the sobbing girl erect. Holding the Luger to Ma-Ku’s head, she tore the girl’s shirt in a frenzy of rage, exposing her firm breasts, and then cruelly raked them with her nails.
Mariner leapt to his feet as Ma-Ku screamed. With a curse he lunged at the German girl, knocking the pistol from her hand, attempting to wrestle her into submission.
Mara fought back. Still remembering the wrestling moves of her elder brothers she had fought in tomboyish fashion, she grabbed Mariner’s arm, pulled him off balance, and threw him across her hip and to the ground with stunning force.
Ma-Ku, seeing that Mariner was in peril of his life, shook off her fear and leapt upon Mara as she lunged for the fallen pistol. Both girls went down in a tangled heap, biting and scratching one another like frenzied beasts.
Mariner struggled to rise, saw the Professor running towards them, a Luger in his hand. The Englishman gouged out a stone from the dirt, hurled it with desperate force at the German; was rewarded with the sight of his foe doubling over as the missile struck his belly.
Turning, he saw Mara crouching over
Ma-Ku like a wild thing, bereft of all humanity, rendered thus by
unbridled hate. The Chinese girl had been subdued, writhing in helpless
agony as Mara’s strong white teeth clamped down upon her nipple.
Mariner leapt to intervene, but before he could reach Ma-Ku the pistol
in Mara’s hand echoed her cry of vicious hate.
The bullet struck Mariner like an iron fist, felling him to the earth where oblivion’s black curtain descended upon him...
This story is copyright by Kirk Straughen. It may not be copied without permission of the author except for purposes of reviews. (Though you can print it out to read it, natch.)