The Journey of the

Vacuum Beetle


The planet was lonely and dark as it swung around on its path thru space. Lonely because it was the only offspring of a dark star, and dark because of the absence of light. High on a rocky ridge sat Gei-ga, one of the few remaining life forms on the planet. For many toks he had been trailing an odour emanating from a gaym. The gaym creatures were becoming scarcer and in consequence, so was the source of bul wiich Gei-ga's stomach craved. Well he remembered the days when he and his brethren would flock to the hunting grounds, pass thru a turnstile to the accompanying click-click of the Gei-ga counter, and then they would see the gaym. Those days were gone and it looked as though Gai-ga would follow them, unless a new source of bul appeared.

Then it happened. A roaring filled the air, there was a flash and as Gai-ga's eyes readjusted, he could see a huge spherical object settling to the ground. He fearlessly approached it in time to see a rectangle of light appear on the sphere, and out stepped four dumpy figures. Gei-ga's tendrils were bul, bags of bul, in fact! If only he could get aboard this craft, both he and the precious contents of his cranium would be saved.

Molton, skipper of the Vacuum Beetle, gazed around him as he stepped from the ship. Suddenly he saw Gei-ga. To Molton, he looked like a very large flower. Molton stepped forward, plucked the flower, only to find it needed no plucking. Instead of roots, it had coarset endrils, apparently a means of locomotion, possibly for movement as well. At the top, two finer tendrils appeared surmounted by a large ball. "What do you make of it, Juanita?" he asked. The Russian grunted "Harmless, let's put it in a jar in the Mess-room."

One hour later, a crew mamber was found smeared on the mess-room ceiling. A search for hiding places disclosed three more, all treated with the same smear technique. Gophnaw, the only Neckist on board, pronounced them dead and after X-raying their bodies with a multiple Singloscope, called the Skipper. "Molton, this is hot stuff, these men haven't a trace of brain matter left in their bodies. I have two deductions and an offer of advice. Either someone slipped up in Intelligence or our little Pansy has done it. I suggest we kill the thing." Molton scoffed and told Gophnaw that no crew member was expected to have any brains. The smearing was part of an undercover campaign to discredit his authority. Gophknaw immediately hypnotized the crew by means of a Vogt-o-meter and set out to catch Pansy. He found her picking the Captain's brains and quickly threw a bucket of weedkiller over Gei-ga. Gei-ga immediately planted a crnium cell in the skipper's remains, and attacked Gophknaw. He grabbed a Tommy-gun from a hook on the wall and fired at Gei-ga, yelling "You ain't a lady!" If Gei-ga had understood, he would have pointed out that it was the Neckist's one track mind always dwelling on Necking that led to the error. Not understanding, Gei-ga dodged the bullets, and chased Gopkhnaw down the corridor. The Neckist snatched a brick from his pocket and hurled it at Gei-ga with no effect. Passing thru the hydroponic garden, he scattered radioactive dust behind him. He next tried a hand grenade, a baseball bat, and a pair of the cook's socks. All to no avail: Gei-ga still came on. As a last resort, Gophknaw energised all the floors, ceilings, and walls, first putting on dry socks to avoid energising himself. Gei-ga copied him and continued to advance. Nearer and nearer he crept. Gphknaw pressed back against the wall, something stuck in his back, his hand grasped it and drew it into view. It was a FANZINE, illustrated by the infra-queer artist, SUNBURN PHIPPS. Gei-ga took one look, screamed and shrivelled wonder thought Gophknaw, as he fainted, fell to the floor, and bashed in his skull on the carpet. He never recovered----so the crew of the Beetle are still in a state of hypnosis...............

(Data entered by Judy Bemis)