May the Hyperborean


Chapter Two

May saw a gleam of green. Two glowing orbs peered through the foliage, but they were too large and luminous to be the eyes of her watchful dog. Then it burst forth from the bush: a metal-skinned mechanical monster, a crude nuts-and-bolts machine on two lumbering legs, with six metal tentacles sweeping the air, clutching at May. She spun on her heels and sped down the trail. The robot pursued.

Far ahead of the metallic thing, May tripped over something and fell on the ground hard, rattling every bone in her body. She looked back and saw a small monkey hiding behind a stump. A freakishly long tail was stretched across the trail and wrapped around a sapling. The monkey gave a malicious screech, then scurried away.

"Who are you?" The voice rang like steel, and May looked up at the woman in the path. Ebony hair poured over her black dress, her fingernails were grotesquely long and twisted, and the left side of her face was cast in metal! May figured she was some kind of witch.

"Well?" demanded the witch.

May rose to her feet. "I Yam who I Yam," she answered, and she stooped to pick up the spear, not taking her eyes off the bizarre figure.

"All right, savage," said the witch in disgust, "but you're trespassing in my yard." It was then May noticed a creepy little house behind the witch, much of it covered in vines, and weeping willows hung over the roof.

"I was just passing through, Metal-face."

"Don't try to get on my good side," snapped the witch. "My good side is bad and the other half is worse!" She let out a sinister, metallic laugh, like the peal of a bell.

May's ears were ringing and she was losing her temper. "You won’t be laughing when the thing that’s chasing me gets here!"

"Won’t I?" The witch grinned as six metal tentacles coiled around May's torso and limbs from behind. She was held in thrall and could hardly move. The robot, too, became immobile. "Hee, hee, hee! Struggle, fool! You can’t escape this piece of junk. Now that I have you, what do I do with you? I could sacrifice you in one of my conjuring rituals..."

May swore at the witch and struggled in the robot’s grip. "What makes you think I'm gonna lay down and die for you?”

"You will, or you’ll rot until the robot rusts!"

"When I'm through with you I’ll be using your face for a paperweight!"

May's insolence angered the witch. The right side of her face went red, and on the metal side one could have fried an egg. She raised a black wooden staff, steeped in antiquity, the pommel of which was carved with the image of a panther, and with this she made arcane gestures in the air and told May, "I'm going to disintegrate you. So!" But other than a splash of purple sparks nothing happened. May was confused, but every one of her atoms was where it should have been.

The witch cursed in a dozen languages! "The friggin' thing won't work!" She threw the scepter at the ground. "And to think that priests used to entertain Pharaohs with this stick! I've got just the thing for you. Wait here!"

The witch turned away and stormed into the house. She came back out with one hand behind her back. What's more, she bore a less meaner demeanor. "Say, you must be awful hungry. How about a bite to eat?" She revealed an apple.

"It's poison!" May exclaimed.

"It's just an apple," the witch remarked, and she rolled it in her fingers and gazed at it like a Gypsy gazes into a crystal ball. "Robot!" she barked, and the metal monster released May's left hand. With its mechanical fingers, the robot held May's mouth open by force. The witch pondered a moment and said, "No. I can see the difficulty in trying to feed you an apple. I know! Wait here!" She ran into the house, and poor May was stuck with her mouth held open.

May tried to speak, enunciating her words as best she could: "Hey, robot, are you awake in there? I don't like this. What's the witch going to do?"

May heard the motion of circuitry in action. "She’s going to make you eat."

"Eat what?"


"Applesauce? Couldn't I just have a burger and fries? Who is she anyway?"

"She's a witch. Her name is Fee. She has a twister. Her name is Fie, also a witch."

"What's a twister?"

"A twin sister."

"Is there any way I can escape?"

"I am programmed to prevent your escape. You will have to consult Fee."

May became agitated. "But she's trying to kill me!"

"Not quite. She is going to feed you applesauce drugged with a potion that will leave you mesmerized. The result: you will be her zombie slave. The effect: your brain will be applesauce."

The witch returned with a bowl and spoon. "I thought you might like some applesauce instead. Now, if you promise to be civilised I'll let your mouth go." She waited for an answer.

"I'm cool," said May. The witch made a gesture to the robot and it released May's mouth. She did a few facial exercises to get her jaw and lips in working order. "My lips are stuck. Perhaps if I blow on my whistle?" With her free hand, May brought the whistle to her lips and blew several times, but no apparent sound issued forth.

"So you can't blow a whistle," said the witch, losing her patience. "Just as long as you can fill your face with this slop I'll be happy. Here!" She handed the spoon to May, and to the robot she held out the bowl and said, "Hold this for her, dummy!"

May scooped up a spoonful of applesauce and looked at it. Just then Digger came running to her side, barking and growling at the robot. May pointed to the witch: "Sick her, boy!"

Digger attacked Fee with ferocious fangs and May moved with amazing speed: her free hand ripped the dagger from its sheath and suddenly the blade was in the robot's "eye" and sparks were spitting and motors went mad. The metal monster released May and went reeling away, its coiled tentacles thrashing wildly, as if in the throes of death. May called off her dog and they ran past the house and into the woods without even a backward glance.

Wounded by Digger, Fee staggered to her feet and was killed instantly by the robot’s out-of-control tentacles just before it ran into a tree and lost power utterly.

Inside the house, Fee's sister Fie had her iron face buried in a book of magic, poring over the occult contents of its decaying pages, whispering the weird words to herself. The monkey who tripped May leaped in through a window held open by a book. He scurried onto a desk and began pounding away at the keys of a typewriter. Fie became furious.

"Chockula! I told you a million times to stay away from that typewriter!" She threw a shoe to chase him away. Then she noticed what he had typed on the page: FEED.

"Feed? You want me to feed you?" And then it occurred to Fie that Chockula hadn’t completed the message: "Fee dead!" In anger, she raked the metal side of her face with those long fingernails and it screeched like a blackboard.

"Fee is dead! Someone has killed her! I see it all now and know what I must do. But first I must restore Fee to life, for as long as one of us yet lives, the other cannot die."

Fie stepped outside and, taking a small knife from her pocket, stabbed her finger and let drops of blood fall in the grass. She uttered these words:

"A drop of blood shed

shall raise the mighty dead!"

And where the blood stained the grass, another Fee began to grow!


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