Attack of the 50 Foot Grubor

copyright Andrew Nellis 1997

From: bs904@FreeNet.Carleton.CA (Andrew Nellis)
Subject: STORY: _Attack of the 50 Foot Grubor_
Date: 22 Jun 1997 01:50:02 -0400
Message-ID: <5oieea$>

                     _Attack of the 50 Foot Grubor_
                        copyright A. Nellis 1997

             Theme Song for _Attack of the 50 Foot Grubor_
          (to the music from _Attack of the Killer Tomatoes_)
                Attaaaack of the 50 Foot Grubor,
                It's the attaaaack of the 50 Foot Grubor,
                He's coming up to Canada to kick somebody's ass,
                Look oooout -- 'cause he'll pound you to gore, gore, gore,
                G-g-g-gore, gore, gore,
                G-g-g-gore, gore, gore...

                              *   *   *

"Good evening, doctor."

Dimitri Vulis eased himself into the leatherette booth and looked around for 
the waitress.  "Vodka," he said to no one in particular.  Nobody at the table 
was surprised by his eccentricity.  "And hello yourself, doctor."

A warm glow suffused Archimedes Plutonium, as always happened when someone 
used his honorific.  He had had another name once, a long time ago, before
his awakening to the radioactive glory of the element from which he had
chosen his new name.  Back in those days, lots of people had called him
doctor.  Plutonium sighed and stirred the swizzle stick around in his Pink
Lady.  People called him lots of things now, but doctor wasn't one of them.

At the back of the booth, Ricardo Gonzales lifted his head from the table,
knocking over several of the shot glasses which were scattered messily
around him.  "Talk to Boursy yet?" he slurred thickly with a tongue numbed
by Southern Comfort.

Vulis shook his head.  "I went up to his room and I knocked and knocked.  He
told me to go away."  He paused.  "All I could hear was giggling," he added.

"Goddam her anyway," said Gonzales, his bloodshot eyes roaming over the table
in search of some Southern Comfort he might have missed.

No one needed to be told who 'she' was.  Stephen Boursy had arrived for the 
annual convention of the Freedom Knights with Miss April in tow, and had 
spent the whole weekend, so far, barricaded with her in his hotel room.

"Well," said Plutonium, shrugging, "I guess everyone's here who's coming.  I
know Hayes said he couldn't make it.  Allisat's sulking, so he won't be here.
Anespy says the CIA is beaming signals into his brain again, so he's at home
wrapped in tin foil.  Kind of surprised John's not here, though."

"Maybe he went off his medication again," suggested Vulis.  "Remember what
happened last time."

Gonzales snickered and forced his eyes to focus.  "Remember the look on the
waiter's face?"

Plutonium frowned.  "We shouldn't be talking this way about the Good Doctor
Grubor.  Anyway, I'm sure the urine didn't stain, and the guy DID look a lot
like Chris Lewis."

"Lewis," grumbled Gonzales.  Vulis and Plutonium nodded morosely, knowing
exactly what he meant.  The three sat in silence for a while, nursing their
impotent hatred.

Eventually Plutonium looked up with a crafty look on his face.  "Hey, you
guys want to see something neat?"

"I'm not going to pull your finger again," growled Vulis.  "Fool me once..."

Plutonium reached into his pocket and pulled out a small stoppered vial
full of a green liquid that coruscated softly.

"Wow," said Gonzales, his face shaded sickly green in the radiance.  "What
makes it glow like that?  Is it dangerous?"

"Cerenkov radiation," said Plutonium, proudly.  "Not dangerous.  Hardly any
chance at all of a sustained reaction."

Vulis edged away in his seat and wondered if the hotel gift shop sold lead 
blankets.  "Very pretty," said Vulis nervously.  "Can you put it away, 
please.  I think I'm growing another arm.  What's it for, anyway?"

Plutonium slipped it back into his pocket and tittered.  "I have no idea.
Just something I whipped up in the lab.  I was kind of hoping to find a
human subject to test it on."

"Who," said Vulis, goggling at the scientist, "could possibly be stupid
enough to let you test some unknown radioactive chemical on them that you 
made for fun in that dungeon you call a laboratory?"

"Hi guys," said John Grubor.  "Did I miss anything?"

                              *  *  *

The table in the Don Ho Lounge of the Holiday Inn soon disappeared in a vast
morass of beer bottles, overturned shot glasses, overflowing ash trays, and
booze-soaked reams of print-out paper.  "Look here," said Grubor, thumping a 
page of print-out with the thick, yellowed nail of a nicotine-stained finger.  
"See?  Goddam content cancel.  Gonna kick his ass!"

Vulis nodded thoughtfully, studying the print-out like a general planning
an attack on an enemy stronghold.  "Lewis has gone too far this time.  All
you did was post twenty-seven identical off-topic messages.  This is clearly 
a case of censorship."

"We ought to call the FBI," said Plutonium righteously.

"Did that last time," mumbled Gonzales' boozy voice from somewhere behind a 
wall of shot glasses.

"Yeah?  What'd they do about it?" asked Plutonium.

"Nothing, same as always," said Vulis, sighing.  "We could call the RCMP  

"Naw," said Grubor, "those pinko Canadian bastards won't let me talk to
anyone except the janitor any more, and he don't even speak english.  You
heard back from the Department of Justice yet?"

"They said it wasn't really within the purview of their jurisdiction," said 
Vulis.  His eyes dropped and he slumped in his seat.  "Well, actually, I 
think what they said was closer to 'go bother the Secret Service.'"

"Any responses to the ad in Soldier of Fortune?" asked Plutonium.

"Just one," said Vulis.  "He says he's willing to do the hit on Lewis, but
he wants to be paid in cartons of cigarettes.  He sounds like a crackpot."

"Oh," said Grubor, looking sheepish.  "That was OUR ad?"

Vulis stared at Grubor and sighed.  "I guess that's that.  All our efforts
are a washout, unless Boursy had any luck with the anti-trust stuff."

"Ain't no government department he's getting lucky with," giggled Gonzales.

"She must have a bug-eyes fetish," muttered Vulis.

The waitress gritted her teeth and walked up to the table, holding her 
breath against the waves of smoke and other, less pleasant smells that 
washed out from the booth.  "Look, I keep telling you guys, you're in the 
non-smoking area.  You want to smoke, go sit in the smoking area.  We're 
getting complaints from the other customers."

Grubor puffed on his cigarette, and blew a cloud of smoke around her head,
making her eyes water.  "This is America, dollface.  I'm expressin' myself
with a cigarette, so go tell them censorous assholes at the other tables if
they don't like it, they can leave.  An' go get me another beer.  Hey, baby,
I invented the Internet, you know.  Wanna sit on my lap?"

"You don't have a lap," she growled and stalked off, clenching her fists.

Grubor jiggled his midsection with a big ham fist.  "Shows how much she
knows.  Broads dig big guys."

Vulis rolled his eyes.  "Yeah, you're a real lady-killer, John."

"Maybe," said Grubor, looking shifty-eyed, "but they'll never pin it on me."

Everyone was quiet for a while, fiddling idly with print-outs, or sipping
at a drink, or lying semi-comatose in a pool of spittle.

It was Plutonium who spoke at last.  "Hey John, you want to test a glowing,
green elixir I made from highly toxic radioactive isotopes?"

Grubor scratched at the bristles that covered his chins.  "What's it taste
like with beer?"

"I have no idea," said Plutonium.

"Well," said Grubor, grinding out his cigarette, "only one way to find out."

                              *  *  *

"Whoops," said Grubor, his voice booming like a fusillade of cannons.  He
ran his fingers through the tangles of his eyebrows, sending a rain of 
plaster and concrete fragments to the floor.  The lounge lay in shambles, 
the patrons scattered to the four winds.

The effect of the elixir had been almost instantaneous.  No sooner had Grubor
chased it back with a beer than he had begun to grow.  He had felt as if he 
had been riding in a very fast elevator going up, and in seconds the table 
had been overturned.  A few seconds after that his head had exploded through 
the ceiling like a piledriver.  By the time he had finally stopped growing,
Grubor's head had punched through the fourth floor of the hotel, fifty feet
from the ground.

Grubor took a couple of shuffling half-steps, not quite certain what to do,
but certain that he didn't want to stand around inside several floors of a 
Holiday Inn.  Eventually he looked down and realized a tiny Vulis, no higher 
than his ankle, was waving his arms madly.

"I don't feel so good, Dimitri," rumbled Grubor, crouching down amidst the
rubble.  "I sure hope Plutonium's got some way to fix this."

"That might be a problem, John," shouted Vulis through cupped hands.  He
pointed at one of Grubor's gigantic Hushpuppies, now six feet long.

Grubor stood and lifted his foot.  A pulpy red mess, roughly in the shape of
Archimedes Plutonium, peeled slowly from the bottom of his shoe and fell to
the floor with a wet plop.  "Whoops," said Grubor.

"God damn," said the waitress, climbing out from under a table.  "I guess
you really are the biggest asshole in the world now."

Grubor frowned.  Grunting and puffing, he managed to bend over.  As he
reached for the waitress she started to run, but his hand was faster,
snatching her up in his fist.  Instantly, his hot, sweaty palm drenched her
from shoulders to knees.  She struggled vainly, only her head and feet
visible above and below the fist that gripped her.

"What'd you say," thundered Grubor, holding his captive up to his face and
blasting her with gale-force halitosis.

The waitresses' teeth chattered with terror.  "I, uh, I said I guess you're
going to need a bigger life's goal now.  Did I ever tell you how much I like
fat, hairy men with sloping foreheads?  Very sexy, really."

Grubor's eyes became unfocused for a second, his lips slack.  Then he seemed
to snap back into focus, his eyes boring into his captive.  "Sure, you'd say
that now, wouldn't you... LIZZ."

"Uh, my name isn't Lizz," the waitress said nervously.  She didn't like the
crazed look on Grubor's face, or the way his fist had tightened painfully
around her.

"LIAR!" screamed Grubor, splashing her face with gallons of flying, tobacco-
scented spittle.  Windows throughout the hotel blew out with the force of his
shout.  His mouth opened like a chasm.  The waitress screamed.  Grubor shoved
her head inside his mouth and bit down.  There was a crunch as if someone had
bit into a giant stalk of celery.  The waitress's feet twitched violently and
then were still.

"Geez, John," said Vulis, in awe.  "You bit off her head."

Grubor chewed noisily and swallowed, licking the blood from his lips.  He
looked at the headless corpse he held in his hand, its neck still pumping
a thick stream of blood down his knuckles.  He shrugged and stuffed the
rest of the corpse into his mouth.

"You know what this means?" said Vulis, trying desperately to ignore the
nauseating crunching sounds coming from Grubor's mouth.

"Wuzzat," said Grubor around a mouthful of masticated flesh and bone.

Vulis grinned.  "It means we don't need the FBI any more."

Grubor swallowed and a grin the size of a queen-size bed spread slowly across 
his brutish face.  "Where's Ricardo?"

"Right here," said Gonzales, holding up two bottles of cognac behind what
remained of the bar.  "Gonna need some supplies."

Grubor reached down and grabbed both Vulis and Gonzales.  Despite their
protestations, he shoved both into his pants pocket, where they made
themselves as comfortable as possible among the huge toenail clippings and
dirty kleenexes.

"Boys," shouted Grubor, tensing himself, "next stop: Canada!"

Grubor lunged, and the whole side of the hotel exploded outward.  Half a
dozen cars were crushed in the debris, and another was flattened beneath one 
of Grubor's terrible heels.  As the hotel collapsed majestically behind him,
Grubor threw back his head and let out a roar that blew out all the windows
in a three block radius and could be heard for dozens of miles in all

Ignoring the panic and tumult around him, Grubor set off at a belly-bouncing
lope that shook the foundations of every building in sight.

The dust slowly settled on the ruins of the hotel.  Someone standing very
close might have heard faint voices from the rubble.

"Oh God, Speedbump, that was incredible.  Did the earth move for you too?"

"I love it when you call me Speedbump."

After that, there was only giggling.

                              *  *  *

Chris Lewis sat slumped in the cavernous depths of the enormous leather
wingback chair in his study.  His fingers were steepled before him, his
domed brow lined with thought.  The pine logs in the fireplace crackled 
fitfully and made his eyes lambent with reflected light.

The general cleared his throat, managing to catch Lewis' attention.  Since
arriving to tell Lewis of the news, General MacKenzie had stood uncomfort-
ably at the threshold of the study, watching Lewis' powerful mind at work.  
It had been nearly an hour, and Lewis had neither showed surprise at the 
news, nor spoken.  Once, MacKenzie thought he had heard Lewis mutter under 
his breath, something about spammers being a cowardly, superstitious lot.

"I'm sorry, General," said Lewis in a deep, powerful voice that impressed
MacKenzie with its note of stern command.  "I believe I am beginning to
see the full implications of this development, but I have much thought yet
to explore.  Please feel free to contact me as events warrant."

MacKenzie heard the implied 'dismissed' in Lewis' voice, and struggled with
his lifelong instincts to keep from saluting.  Turning smartly on his heel,
MacKenzie strode out of the study, retrieved his hat from the butler, and

Lewis waited until the general had passed through the brass-bound front 
doors before pressing an unobtrusive button on the control panel mounted 
on the arm of his chair.  A piece of walnut panelling slid aside to reveal 
a comprehensive and sophisticated communications centre, complete with 
microwave uplink.  Lewis stood and inserted the video tape the general had 
given him into the VCR, then sat once more in his chair.  "Play," he said.

The lights in the study dimmed automatically, and the wide screen television
screen hummed into life.  There was a moment of snow, and then the screen

" -- rolling?  We're on?  Ladies and gentlemen, this is a special emergency
report from WGBS.  Reports of a hairy, 50 foot madman are not a hoax!  We
have unconfirmed reports that the death toll has reached -- what?"

The camera jiggled, and the reporter covered the microphone he held, looking
around nervously at the squads of heavily-armed police around him.  It was
dark, and everything was lit a garish, flashing red from the swirling lights
atop the police cruisers.  The street lamps, apparently, were not working.

"I, I've just been told we could be in some danger," continued the reporter
at last.  "I don't see how.  I mean, half the police force is here around
me, and they look pretty -- do you hear that?  Fred, point the camera over

The camera swung around in several shuddering jerks.  For a moment there was
only darkness, but a police searchlight snapped on, lighting the side of an
apartment building a block away from the camera.  Faint regular thuds could
be heard in the background, along with stocatto bursts of gunfire.  As the
camera zoomed in, the thuds became hollow booms.  Suddenly, a gargantuan
form came striding into view from around the side of the building, its face
twisted into an expression of hatred and fury.  Madness glinted in eyes the
size of truck tires.

"Oh my God!" screamed the reporter.  "It's hideous!  It's some kind of foul,
hairy beast!  We -- it must be stopped.  Nothing so horrible should be
allowed to exist.  Yes, okay, the police have seen it, they --"

The reporter's voice was drowned out in the sudden hail of gunfire that
erupted around him as hundreds of shotguns and automatic rifles opened up
on the giant.  The giant took a half-step backwards, raising an arm to cover
its ape-like face.  Then it let out a bellowing shout: "LEWISSSS!  NONE OF

The giant took five huge steps and suddenly it was among the police.  It
raised its loafer-clad foot and brought it down with unimaginable force
again and again, crushing dozens.  The gunfire intensified briefly, and 
then began to cut off as the giant kicked wildly in all directions, sending 
mangled bodies and shattered police cars flying like toys.

The reporter's sobbing voice could be heard over the cacophony of the giant's
grunts and the screams of dying police.  " -- blood everywhere!  Oh God, the
humanity, the humanity!  He's killing them all!  I -- Fred!  He's coming
this way!  Run, for the love of God, run!"

The view jerked violently, and for a few seconds no sense could be made of
the picture.  Then the camera swung around, and the reporter's legs could
be seen thrashing desperately, protruding from the giant's blubbery lips.
The giant's head turned, appearing to stare straight at the camera.  One of 
the giant's bloody feet rose up into the air.  The view jerked again as the 
foot descended rapidly.  There was a brief fragment of a scream, and then 
the screen went dead.

"Screen off," said Lewis, deactivating the television.  He sat for a few
minutes, digesting what he had seen and what he had heard.  According to
General MacKenzie, Grubor was now travelling cross-country at speeds in
excess of a hundred miles per hour. Unless the American military could
stop him, he would cross the Canadian border in less than two days.

Lewis picked up the receiver of the red telephone on the reading table
beside his chair.  "Code: confibula," he enunciated clearly.  "Condition:
crimson."  There was a long pause.  "Hello, Tim.  It's Chris. Yes, I've
seen.  How soon can you arrange an Inner Circle council?  Good.  What?  Well 
tell Terri I don't care how much she offers, she can't tickle my feet."

                              *  *  *

The conference room was dark except for the faint glow from the telltales
on the control panel in front of Chris Lewis.  As the timer ticked off the
last seconds, Lewis touched a heat-sensitive button on the panel, and
several people flickered suddenly into existance around the table.

"Hail Cabal," said Lewis to the shimmering holograms of the members of the
shadowy Inner Circle.

"Hail Cabal," they all repeated in unison.  Only a faint hollowness in the 
voices betrayed the fact that the people were not physically present.

"I'm sure we've all by now heard the news," said Sir Howard.  "The question
is: what are we to do about it?"

The hologram of Rick Buchanan pursed his elegant lips.  "As you know, I am
the newest member of the Inner Circle, but I wish to the devil you had
followed my advice.  I have warned you for some time that Grubor ought to
have been... taken care of."

Lizz Braver frowned, marring the perfection of her face.  "We've told you,
Rick, we must always keep to the light, for the power we wield is mighty
and easily corrupted."

"Now, now," said Robert Braver, raising an imperious finger.  "Let us not
squabble amongst ourselves.  What's done is done.  The question remains, how
do we intend to meet this menace?"

"Surely," said Ed Falk, his pinched face grimacing sourly, "the army can
handle one Grubor, no matter what size he may be.  After all, he might be
a giant, but he remains quintessentially Grubor!"

"But can we rely on his ability to completely screw up everything he lays
his hand upon?" asked Andrew Gierth in his most aristocratic voice.  "I
know that I, for one, should not wish to risk my life upon it, and that is
what you are asking of Chris."

"This is getting us nowhere," snapped Tim Skirvin.  "Perhaps someone can
offer something practical?  I, for one, am offering the services of my
dungeon, should you manage to stop Grubor.  He may be big, but my Daemons
have practice at containing... difficult prisoners."

"I have little to offer beyond my sympathies," said Stan Kalisch III.  "As
you are aware, my forces are disbanded and I am in retirement for the most
part.  I sit on this council as merely a member emeritus."

"Well, my forces are currently engaged with Erosnet," said Robert, a trifle
peevishly.  "I can't withdraw them without suffering unacceptable levels of
casualties.  The same goes for Lizz."

"I could perhaps spare a division," said Buchanan.  "But I would be spreading
myself very thin.  Tom Bridges is proving a tougher nut to crack than I had
at first thought."

"Best I can do is some infrastructure and resupply," said Gierth.  "My boys
are over in Europe, and there's no way I could transport them in time to do
any good.  Besides, most of the lads are recon specialists.  Not really cut
out for the trenches."

Falk snorted to himself.  "Well you'll have to do without me.  I've got all
I can handle keeping Sexzilla and Porn4Porn in line."

Sir Howard shook his head sadly.  "If I'd known how stretched we were, I
wouldn't have committed the troops to a blitzkrieg on UUnet.  If I pull out
now, I'll lose half my forces.  I'm sorry Chris."

Lewis closed his eyes and mustered a half-smile.  "I had expected as much.
My intelligence showed that we were vastly overextended.  Thank you all for 
your assistance.  I hope and pray that the next time we call a council, 
there will not be a different person sitting in this chair."

"As do we all," said Lizz.  There was a general nodding of heads.  "Good
luck, Chris."

"Hail Cabal," said Lewis.

"Hail Cabal," the others replied, and their holograms winked out.  

"It was as you Expected," said a mysterious voice from the shadows at the
back of the room, where he had been watching, hidden.

"And so it falls upon you, my friend," said Lewis.  "Do you really feel 
it's necessary to call upon them?  I would prefer not to get involved 
with... their type."

"The feeling," said the voice, "is probably Mutual.  And I remind you that
there is no Guarantee that I can even Locate them.  The only Alternative I
can think of is to strap an Atomic Bomb to Joshua Kramer's back and tell
him Grubor plans to Retromoderate a Newsgroup."

"Joshua Kramer with an atomic bomb worries me more than a Grubor of ANY 
size," said Lewis, shuddering.  "Very well, we will try your plan.  Use the
Black Helicopter.  It's fueled and waiting to go.  Godspeed, Fluffy."

                              *  *  *

Grubor stumbled to a stop in a clearing in the forest; behind him lay a
trail of tipped and broken trees.  His face was a ruddy crimson, and his
breath came is asthmatic wheezes.  Groaning, he lowered himself to the

"Gotta stop smoking," gasped Grubor, as he pulled a gigantic, crumpled pack
of Camels from his shirt pocket and lit one up with a two-foot long lighter.
He sucked gratefully, and hawked a wad of phlegm a full foot across at the
ground.  "Never run so much in my goddam life," he growled.  "Well, 'cept
for when I ran off with that money, but that don't count."

Grubor's building-sized stomach rumbled.  "Where's a McDonald's when you
need it." he grumbled, patting the huge bulge of his midsection.  "I could
eat a damn horse.  Or the cop riding 'im," snickered Grubor.  He scratched
idly at his groin, and realized that he had forgotten about his two fellow
Freedom Knights in his pocket.

After a little fumbling, Grubor managed to drag Vulis and Gonzales from his
pocket.  He held them up to his face and saw they were a little the worse
for wear, but not otherwise injured.  It was a miracle that they had not
been perforated by the millions of rounds of ammunition fired at him.

"Hi John," said Vulis, nervously.  He nudged Gonzales, who waved.  Vulis
didn't like the look in Grubor's eye.

"Well boys," said Grubor, "time for you to make your contribution to the
war effort."

Vulis managed a sick smile.  "And, uh, what would that be, John?  Um, I
mean Doctor Grubor."

"Gotta keep my strength up," said Grubor, grinning.  He licked his lips.
Vulis and Gonzales began to scream, but not for very long.

                              *  *  *

Lewis inserted the video tape and sank into his chair.  The strain of the
last 24 hours had begun to tell on his face in lines that had no been there
before.  "Play," he said.

The logo in the corner of the screen indicated the recording had come from
WHAM-TV.  It was an aerial view, and from the sound in the background it
was evident that it was shot from a helicopter.

"You see anything?" asked a voice.

There was a burst of static.  "Negative," came a second voice, probably the
pilot.  "Wait.  Cancel that.  I have a visual contact at 0900.  Jesus, look
at the size of him.  Over."

The camera zoomed abruptly, framing a giant John Grubor shakily in the
picture.  "Hairy sucker, ain't he," said the first voice.  "And ugly as
sin.  Doesn't look too bright, either.  You see the line anywhere?"

"Just over that ridge," came the pilot's voice with a squawk.  "They're
gonna open up any second.  Damn, that's a thing to see.  I seen them 88s
in 'Nam.  Ain't no way Jolly Green down there gonna be standing after them
suckers chew him up."

Low, shuddering booms could be heard, followed by high-pitched whistling
sounds.  Grubor's titanic form vanished in a black pall of smoke inside of
which could be seen dozens of flashes of light.  A few seconds later, Grubor
emerged from the cloud, a sneer of anger on his face.

"No way, there just ain't no way!" shouted the pilot.  "Shee-it, what's that
boy made of?  Look over there, looks like they called in the flyboys.  Heh,
that's gotta piss the footsloggers off.  You keep watchin' them birds.  Looks
like it's mostly F-16s with a few Tomcats tossed in.  And right behind 'em,
you see that wedge?  Those're F-111.  They gonna bite his ass the way they
bit ol' Say-dam."

The fighters came screaming in low, just over the treetops.  The second wave
had lauched their missiles and pulled away before the first wave's missiles
impacted.  There were a dozen loud reports, and the screen showed only brief
flashes of ground and sky for a few seconds as the helicopter was buffeted
by the shockwaves.  When the camera was trained on Grubor again, he was
kneeling in the midst of a huge blast crater, shaking his head as if trying
to clear it.

"I do not beee-lieve what I am seeing," gasped the pilot.  "How the hell
could anything walk away from that?  Man, I'm startin' to wonder if anything
is gonna stop that boy."

The sleek bodies of the Starfighters began their run, and Grubor climbed
back to his feet.  Though his cheap polyester pants were shredded, he did
not appear injured in any way.  Snarling, he scrambled out of the crater
and tore a tree from the ground.  Hurling it like a spear, the tree passed
straight through the fuselages of two of the Starfighters without slowing.
The planes simply disintegrated into clouds of debris.  The other planes
peeled off and fled.  A second hurled tree clipped the back end off the
last Starfighter, and both pilots ejected.

"That's it," said the pilot, "I am out of here.  I don't get paid to dodge
no flyin' trees."

As the helicopter retreated, the last view from the camera showed Grubor 
charging down the slope of the ridge at the line of soldiers and artillery 
batteries, as men ran everywhere in complete rout.

"Screen off," said Lewis.  He stared at the blank screen for a long time.
Less than twelve hours until Grubor reached the border.

                              *  *  *

"He's crossed the border," said General MacKenzie grimly.  "He went through
a New York State National Guard regiment at the border crossing without
slowing.  Ate about half of them, I think."

Lewis nodded, his face impassive.  "And the nuclear strike?"

MacKenzie looked away, unable to meet Lewis' eyes.  "The President vetoed
it.  I'm sorry, Chris.  Our embassy brought all the pressure to bear that
we could.  We could, um, I mean there are some soldiers, volunteers; they
have offered to try and slow him down, give you some time to get away."

Lewis smiled.  "Tell your men that I appreciate their offer, but it wouldn't
help anyway.  What would Grubor do if he didn't find me here?  He'd just
keep looking until he found me.  And I don't think Canada would survive the

"You're a good man, Mister Lewis," said MacKenzie.  Solemnly he stood at
attention and saluted.  "The very best."

                              *  *  *

Chris Lewis stood in a field outside of Ottawa, dressed in brown safari
clothes and a pith helmet.  In his hands was the heavy bore hunting rifle
with which he had stalked elephants and rhinos in Kenya.  Beside him stood
General MacKenzie, dress uniform discarded for a green camouflage jumpsuit.
An M-16 was slung over his shoulder.

"You don't have to be here," said Lewis, scanning the treeline with high
power binoculars.

"I'll be damned if I'm going to let a countryman go alone to his death, at
the hands of some demented American with personal hygiene problems," growled 

"We both know it's not going to make the slightest difference," said Lewis,
turning to the general.  "But... thank you."

MacKenzie clapped Lewis on the shoulder.  "It's not over 'til the fat lady
sings," he said.  Then, growing more somber, he pressed something hard and
metallic into Lewis' hand.

"A grenade?" asked Lewis.

"The fuse has been removed.  Pull the pin and it will go off instantly.  You
won't feel a thing," said MacKenzie, looking Lewis in the eye.  "And it's a
far better way to go than being eaten.  I have one too."

Lewis nodded soberly.  "I understand.  And thank you.  Has there been any
word from Fluffy?"

MacKenzie spoke into his walky-talky.  A brief reply crackled back.  "No,
I'm sorry, Chris."

"That's it then," said Lewis, sighing.  Strangely, he felt as if a weight
had been lifted from his shoulders now that his fate was sealed.

Suddenly, a stand of trees fell over with great toppling noises, and the
colossal form of John Grubor bounded heavily into the field, less than a
mile from where the two men stood.  Grubor stopped and looked around, as if
getting his bearings.  He spotted the two men and his face turned purple
howl of fury.

Lewis and MacKenzie raised their rifles to their shoulders and sighted.  
They both heard the whirring blades of an approaching helicopter almost 
simultaneously.  "Who the devil is that," snapped MacKenzie.  "I told
everyone to keep well back."

Lewis chanced a quick glance over his shoulder, and his heart began to
pound.  It was the Black Helicopter!  It was screaming out of the sky in
their direction like a bat out of hell.  Grubor was only a hundred yards
away and closing fast when the helicopter arrived.  It touched down only
briefly, disgorging five strangely-dressed people.

"Buy us some time, Fluffy!" yelled one of the newcomers, pounding the side
of the helicopter twice.  The Black Helicopter roared into the sky like a
tornado suddenly unfettered.  Missile pods dropped pneumatically from its
undercarriage, and it began buzzing Grubor's head like a mosquito.  Missile
after missile stung its target, as Grubor grunted and growled, swinging his
huge hand around his head but unable to swat the swiftly-moving target.

MacKenzie's jaw dropped as he examined the new arrivals.  They all wore
sleek, futuristic-looking helmets, but their clothing was an eye-searing
rainbow of colours.  "Who the hell are you?" he said, stunned.

Lewis grinned.  "Please, allow me to do the honours.  General MacKenzie,
meet the Motor-Mouthin Power Sub-Genii!  Glad you could make it."

One of the figures stepped forward.  Over six feet tall, he had an impressive
build, and wore a fluorescent orange shirt with corduroy pants.  "Wouldn't
have missed this little shindig for all the warez on Usenet," he said, taking
off his helmet.  He wore strangely-shaped sunglasses, and his hair was a
vibrant shade of purple.  "Howdy, general!  I'm the Corduroy Sub-Genius, but
you can call me Doctor DynaSoar.  These are my team-mates, the Herringbone
Sub-Genius, the Plaid Sub-Genius, the Paisely Sub-Genius, and the lovely
young lady in the bathing suit is the Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka-
Dot Sub-Genius."

Each of the Sub-Genii nodded in turn, standing side by side with their hands
crossed over their chests.

"Well, that's all well and fine," said MacKenzie, "but what the hell can
you do against that?"  He pointed with the end of his rifle at Grubor, who
was thundering back and forth across the field in pursuit of the Black

"Watch and see," said DynaSoar, grinning fiercely.  "Ready, Sub-Genii?"

The Motor-Mouthin Power Sub-Genii nodded in unison.  "Then," said DynaSoar,
raising his fist, "GIVE 'EM SLACK!"

"GIVE 'EM SLACK!" repeated the Sub-Genii, raising their fists.  There was a
flash of light and a swirl of colour.  Where once the Motor-Mouthin Power
Sub-Genii had stood, now a gigantic form stood, its legs like the trunks of
trees and its head towering in the sky.

MacKenzie took a step back involuntarily.  "My God," he breathed, "it's, uh,
some kind of giant robot, I think."

Indeed, the thing had a mechanical appearance, but its feet were snugly
slippered, and it appeared to be dressed in a monstrously huge smoking
jacket.  Its face peered wholesomely out at the world, an enormous pipe
protruding from the compassionate curve of its lips.

"That's no robot," said Lewis, standing aside.  "That's the BOB-ot!"

Smiling benignly, the Bob-ot ambled sedately out into the field.  Grubor
swung a vicious back-hand at the darting Black Helicopter, catching it a
glancing blow across the rotors.  Trailing a thick streamer of smoke, the
Black Helicopter limped away, its engines screaming under the strain.

Grubor stood panting, and noticed the Bob-ot for the first time.  "Goddam
Sub-Genii," he muttered.  "Bunch of homosexuals!  Communists!  Dobbs is a

The Bob-ot closed with Grubor, its smoking jacket swishing against its
metallic legs.  With a snarl of rage, Grubor launched himself at the Bob-ot,
and both went down in a tangle of arms and legs, fists flying and the ground
shaking under the blows of the battling titans.

"We're too evenly matched!" thundered DynaSoar into his commlink.  "We have
no choice.  Fire the Jake Ray!"

Beams of pure Slack lanced from the Bob-ot's twinkling eyes, and struck
Grubor a glancing blow, throwing him fifty yards.  He scrambled to his
feet and once again the Jake Ray slammed him to earth.  Volley after
volley of Slackness pounded into Grubor as he was thrown bodily across
the field.  A great slippered foot lifted into the air, hovered a moment,
and then slammed down upon Grubor's senseless head.

Lewis took aim with his hunting rifle and fired at the weakened behemoth.
There was a huge explosion, and an outrushing of superheated atmosphere as
Grubor's flesh was punctured.  His mutated body collapsed in upon itself.  A 
minute later, only the tattered clothes and Grubor's hairy, pink, deflated 
skin remained.

Lewis and MacKenzie carefully approached Grubor's remains.  "Disgusting,"
said MacKenzie, prodding the miles of loose skin with the end of his rifle.

"Why," said Lewis, shaking his head, "am I not surprised to discover that
Grubor was full of hot air..."

                              *  *  *

In the rubble of the Holiday Inn, faint giggly voices could still be heard 
from somewhere in its smoking depths.

"So are mine better than Neutopia's, Speedbump?"

"You know it!  Ooh, call me Speedbump again.  It makes me hot."

"Say, where's that light coming from?"

"That?  Oh, just some weird drink Plutonium gave me.  Now come on, this
time you can be the nanny, and I can be the naughty little boy..."

                              THE END?
 +-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-+ ...........................................
 |  Andrew Nellis              | .   God save me from my friends. I can    .
 |  | .   protect myself from my enemies.       .
 +-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-+ ................Marshal de Villares........

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