Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"The Golden Girl of Munan" by Harl Vincent, part 2

This is the second installment of "The Golden Girl of Munan", the first published story by pioneering science fiction writer Harl Vincent; the first installment can be found here. The story first appeared in the June 1928 issue of Amazing Stories magazine, and was republished in 2001 in the anthology Rainbow Fantasia, edited by Forrest J. Ackerman and Anne Hardin.

As we join our story, Roy Hamilton, an artist in New York City in the year 2406, receives a videophone call from a mysterious woman who warns him that a society of outcasts on an uncharted Pacific island called Munan are planning to wipe out the rest of the world. She tells Hamilton that he and his friend Professor Nilsson must travel to Munan to foil their plans. After the call ends, a shaken Hamilton prepares to meet with Nilsson to try to convince him to act . . .


By the time the professor arrived, Roy was in a much calmer mood, and was seriously going over the information he had jotted down. His friend rushed in, and when he looked at Roy he laughed aloud in relief.

“Well, you certainly look better. What happened to you, anyway?” was his greeting.

“Prof, when I tell you this story, you are going to be as hard hit as I was. Here; what do you make of this?” he said, handing over the paper on which his notations had been made.

“Why, Roy, this is the definite location of some place or other in terms of latitude and longitude. Also, I see the date February first, and the notation ‘two A.M. Washington time.’ Something about green beacons, too. Where did you get this and what does it mean?”

“That’s my own handwriting, and I’ll tell you in a minute how I came to write it. In the meantime, sit down and make yourself comfortable for a long talk.”

“Roy, have you an atlas around this old workshop of yours?” asked the professor. He seemed suddenly to take more interest in the paper. “I believe this location is out in the uncharted wastes of the ocean somewhere.”

“If it is, it will be pretty good proof of what I have to tell you,” was the retort.

Roy produced the atlas and the professor at once turned to a double-page map of the western hemisphere.

“Just as I thought,” he muttered. “Look here, Roy, are you spoofing me or what? There is not even an island within a thousand miles of this spot, and it is at least that far off any of the transoceanic aero lines.”

“Then it shows that I wasn’t dreaming. Sit tight and listen to this yarn,” said Roy, as they pulled their chairs close to the table.

With the golden voice softly whispering in his consciousness, Roy told his story. The professor listened intently; never interrupting, but occasionally starting in surprise, occasionally nodding as if in confirmation. Almost word for word, Roy repeated the plea of the girl as it had come to him, and when he had finished, the professor sat silent for several minutes, evidently deep in thought.

“Funny,” he finally said, “I have always thought there was something mysterious about the disappearance of the Gigantea. You know she was the last one of the old floating ocean liners. When the Powers got together away back there in the middle of the twentieth century, and formed the Terrestrial Government, with headquarters in Washington, there still remained a group of widely scattered radicals, who were against the consolidation. They did not believe that war was actually made impossible forever by the many irresistible weapons which science had developed. They fought disarmament and the consolidation bitterly, and stirred up much discord. Finally, in desperation, the Terrestrial Government rounded up the ring-leaders in various parts of the world, put them on the Gigantea and told them to go wherever they pleased, but to never appear near any inhabited coast on pain of destruction, by means of beam energy, of the ship and themselves. With the abolishment of all surface travel on land and sea, and the establishment of the beam lanes united all countries with innumerable areo connections, this seemed easy. The only logical course for the exiles was exactly that which was explained by your mysterious voice. I am inclined to believe the whole story.”

“I am, too,” said Roy, “and I also think that we ought to see this thing through.”

“Good for you, my boy. And I am with you to the end.” They gripped hands.

Reaching for the paper on which Roy had scribbled the instructions, the professor again scanned it closely. “What is this about two green beacons?” he asked.

“They voice said that we were to land between two such lights when we reach Munan,” answered Roy, “and that we could not possibly make a mistake about it, since all of the regular landing stages in Munan are lighted by white beacons at night. She said they would have the green ones especially prepared for our arrival, and in a safe place.”

“Strange that no one has discovered this hiding place in all these hundreds of years,” mused the professor. “But I suppose the fact that it is so far off the regular lanes of aero travel explains it. That, together with the fact that anyone who might by accident have reached it, never could have returned to tell the tale. Think, though, of how much spying on us they have been able to accomplish in all those ages. Quite naturally their civilization will be as far advanced as our own. They may have made even greater scientific advances than we, if that island has good natural resources. According to history, a number of eminent scientists were originally among them and the descendants of these would undoubtedly have obtained still further knowledge.”

“Well, how about getting some sleep?” said Roy, with a yawn. “I am all worn out and tomorrow is another day. Shall we start making our preparations at once?”

“We certainly shall, as we have only a little over two weeks in which to get ready. Your suggestion about the sleep is a good one, though, and I am going home. Good thing we are both bachelors and able to decide for ourselves. Well, good night, my boy. See you in the morning.”

The professor was gone and Roy betook him to bed.

(continue to part 3)

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