Saturday, September 5, 2009

"The Golden Girl of Munan" by Harl Vincent, part 5

This is the fifth installment of "The Golden Girl of Munan", the first published story by pioneering science fiction writer Harl Vincent; the first four installments can be found here, here, here, and 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. Nilsson agrees to help Hamilton; he readies his newly-designed areo, the Pioneer, and the two take off for Munan, arriving in the dead of night . . .


With his pulses beating madly, Roy rushed to the manhole, which was the only exit, as well as entrance to the Pioneer. He desired to be the first to set foot on the soil of Munan, but the professor stopped him as he began to unfasten the clamping bolts.

“Not so fast,” warned the professor. “We are not sure whether we will be met by friend or foe. Possibly the enemy has learned of your friend’s plans and has only allowed us to land so as to make away with us before our world can be warned again. We had better go out armed. Better to die fighting, if we have to die. And if we are met by friends, it will do no harm.”

“Professor, you are always right,” admitted Roy, as the professor went to the locker where he had stored his weapons.

He returned at once with two small pistol-like contrivances, one of which he thrust into Roy’s hand.

“This,” he said, “is a very ancient weapon. In fact, this device is one of those which contributed in bringing about the conference of the Powers in 1950, resulting in the disarmament and consolidation of the various peoples of our world. This device projects the disintegration ray which immediately destroys entirely any animate object at which it is directed. Just press this little button and the ray shoots forth, but be sure you have it pointed in the right direction. I am sure that this is just as effective now as it ever was, but we do not know what sort of weapons we may have to combat here. But I suppose we are as well prepared as we can be, under the circumstances.”

The weapon was examined curiously by Roy, who had never seen one before, except in the museum.

Unbolting the manhole cover and swinging it open, the professor courteously allowed Roy to leave first, knowing that he was extremely anxious for this honor. They stepped forth into the darkness – even the green lights were now extinguished. Cautiously they left the Pioneer and advanced into a clearing which was dimly visible by the faint light from what few stars were out. Weapons in hand, they waited breathlessly.

Suddenly a voice spoke, clear, sweet, compelling. Roy’s heart seemed to leap and turn over in his body. It was the voice of his dreams, and very softly it spoke the words of welcome which he would never forget.

“Dear, brave strangers from The Outside. I was sure you would come. Roy, I have been sending my thoughts out to you for the better part of twelve hours. Several times we were almost en rapport, never quite. Professor, I know you will not fail in this great undertaking. I thank both of you with the deepest gratitude. Follow me to our hiding place, where we shall meet the rest of my group and find a haven for your aero, and rest for yourselves.”

While speaking, the girl of the golden voice approached the two until finally she stood beside them. By this time their eyes had become more accustomed to the darkness, and they made out the dim outlines of a small figure, evidently cloaked in some dark material. The features could not be discerned even when she stood directly before them, but the voice of their welcomer thrilled them both.

She grasped Roy’s hand, and at its touch his body tingled from head to foot as from an electric shock. Surely the possessor of this tiny and delicate, although firm, hand needed assistance and protection, he thought as they were led in silence towards the edge of the clearing, where the tree-tops were faintly visible against the almost black sky. As they neared these trees there was a slight rustle ahead of them, and a masculine voice spoke out in a very low tone:

“Is all well, Thelda?”

“All is well, Ramon. You may light your torch,” she replied, and with that there was a click and the beams of a hand light revealed the way ahead through the forest.

For a short way they traversed a heavily wooded space and soon, after emerging from the woods and climbing a slight grade in the open, approached the base of a sheer vertical cliff of stratified rock. Feeling along an entirely smooth and unmarked section of this wall, Ramon, their guide, soon found the depression for which he was searching. At his touch, a section of the solid stone swung back revealing the entrance to a long, unlighted passage. They entered and silently the stone door swung behind them. With the way lighted only by the beams from Ramon’s torch, they followed a winding passage for a considerable distance and finally reached a large circular cavern, which was so brilliantly lighted as to dazzle them temporarily.

Their guide led them directly to a large council table, around which were seated some thirty people, only about six of whom were men. As they reached the group, all eyes were focused on the strangers, but Roy’s eyes were only for the girl at his side. She threw off her cloak as she turned to the council table, and there stood revealed in her transcendent beauty. Even the professor gasped; Roy stood spellbound.

Although small in stature, her slimness and the erectness of her carriage gave her the appearance of greater height. Vibrant with life, her face was turned partly towards Roy, so that he was enabled to study the perfect profile intently. Fluffy red-gold hair seemed a fitting halo for the piquant oval of ivory creaminess which was her face. Large, golden brown eyes, wide set beneath perfectly arched brows, with their expression of sadness and innocent appeal, belied the firmness of the small chin, the sauciness of the very slightly upturned little nose, and the sweet promise of the rosy lips, now barely parted in excitement.

The words of her presentation of them to the assembly were unimportant to Roy’s ears; the voice and the girl herself held him in a trance. To him she became the “Golden Girl” at once. Her mellow voice; her golden coloring; the beautiful spirit reveal by her spoken thoughts; all contributed to this impression. Thelda, her name might be; but in Roy’s innermost thoughts she would always remain the “Golden Girl.” Then and there he resolved that, whatever the cost, he was going to win this girl for his wife and take her from this terrible island to his own home.

“People,” she spoke to the assembled listeners, “these are the two of whom we learned so much through the visit of Thandar to The Outside. This man,” turning to Roy, “is Roy Hamilton, to whom I made my plea on the night when we disrupted the videophone system of The Outside. This man,” nodding in the professor’s direction, “is Professor Nilsson, the famous scientist of The Outside, in whom we have placed our hopes. Both, as we all know, are brave, courageous men, and I am sure that our confidence has not been misplaced. May the Supreme Power, in which we few of all Munanese believe and trust, be their guide and protector.”

Thelda then sat at the head of the council table, and her glance met Roy’s. A slow flush heightened her beauty and told Roy that his feelings were at least partly returned. Frankly the eyes of each appraised the other.

A handsome and imposing man, who sat at Thelda’s right, arose and addressed the strangers:

“Gentlemen, I am Landon, Thelda’s chief advisor,” he spoke. “Our dear leader has brought about your coming to us. Like her, we cannot convey to you adequately our gratitude for your noble response to our appeal. We thank you in the name of mankind, which is ignorant of the fate with which it is threatened. For ourselves we care not. Many of those here may lose their lives in this undertaking. One lost his life tonight in contriving the power house accident which closed off the neutralizing wall for a half hour to permit your entrance. We have terrible powers to combat; but we feel sure that, with the help of you two, we shall succeed. After you have obtained the rest which you so badly require after your arduous journey, I shall again call the council together and our entire problem will be placed before you. Our workmen have, by this time, transported your aero to an adjoining cavern, and we believe that you will find yourselves more at home in your own quarters than in any we could provide. We shall now disband until tomorrow and allow you to return to your aero.”

With Landon’s conclusion, all members arose from the council table and crowded around the two strangers, introducing themselves, and overwhelming Roy and the professor with thanks and with wishes for a good night’s rest. These people were a remarkably striking looking lot; the men were physically very powerful and of classic and dignified features; the women, though slightly smaller in stature than those of the outside world, were far more beautiful, with a loveliness that was almost ethereal in character. None could compare with Thelda though; and, as he and the professor were led to another passage by Ramon, Roy kept his eyes on her until she was lost to his view.

They found the Pioneer reposing on the floor of another huge cavern similar to the first. Ramon explained that an opening to the outer atmosphere had been provided at the top of this cavern and that this was of sufficient size, though hidden by underbrush which grew at the top of the cliff, to permit of easy entrance and exit for their aero. How the Pioneer had been transported to this spot, he did not explain. This cavern was unlighted, and they were left at the manhole of the aero in darkness as Ramon departed with his torch.

Entering and flooding the Pioneer with its own light, they soon disrobed and, without further discussion, sank into the deep sleep of utter exhaustion.

(continue to part 6)

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