Exploring the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Perhaps not the most monumental story I've ever written, but perhaps a bit amusing as a "What if".

There's anachronisms galore in this tale but that's kind of the idea, so I say "they work."

—Bridge

TIME TWIST: KORAK MEETS BOY

By John "Bridge" Martin

CHAPTER 1: THE TELEGRAM

Korak and Meriem, the hectic ordeal of their jungle adventures over at last, were enjoying the peace and serenity of Greystoke Estate when the telegram arrived.

As the delivery boy putted away on his Tote-Goat, Korak noticed Jane reading the telegram with tears in her eyes.

"Who's it from, Mom?" he asked. "Is it bad news?"

She turned, a smile on her trembling lips, which had turned slightly blue from the dampened mascara that was running down from her eyes. "No, it's wonderful news," she said. "Boy has finished college and his internship and is on his way back."

"Boy?" said Korak. "Who in the heck is 'Boy'?"

"Oh, we've been so busy since we were reunited with you again that we haven't had a chance to tell you. After you disappeared in London, we were overcome by the empty nest syndrome. We came back to Africa where we'd at least have baby jungle animals to nurture. Then, fortunately, this airplane crashed nearby and everyone on it was killed except for a little boy. We adopted him and it just seemed right to name him 'Boy.' "

"Adopted?" said Korak. "You mean you were parents of another kid besides me?"

"Well, yes," said Jane, a bit defensively. "After all, you did go your own way. And there was no sense in your toys going to waste."

"My toys?" said Korak. "You let him play with my toys?"

"What's going on here?" asked a new voice. Tarzan walked into the room, the corpse of Bara the deer slung over one of his naked shoulders.

"I was just telling Korak about Boy," said Jane.

"Ah, Boy!" smiled Tarzan. "Tarzan teach Boy many things. Tarzan teach Boy how hunt, how fish, how climb trees."

"Dad!" said Korak. "Why are you talking that way all of a sudden?"

"Oh that's the way he always talked to Boy," Jane explained. "When Boy was just a baby, we both talked baby talk to him. Your dad just never got out of the habit."

"News about Boy?" asked Tarzan.

"He's coming home. He'll be here this afternoon," said Jane.

"Where Boy stay?" asked Tarzan. "Korak and Meriem have Boy's room!"

"Well, we'll have to work that out," said Jane.

Meriem went over to Korak and began caressing his muscular left arm and leaned her head on his shoulder. "Well, we could move out to the travel trailer," she said. "We probably need a little more privacy anyway."

Tarzan rolled his eyes. "Tell me about it," he said. "You guys can be pretty noisy sometimes."

"John!" Jane gasped.

"Oh," said Tarzan. "Well I didn't mean... I mean... I was just talking about the noise from extra people in the house. I wasn't talking about—"

"JOHN!!!!" Jane interrupted.

"Oh, never mind," said Tarzan. "I've got to go skin this deer."

"Please," said Jane, "it's dripping blood all over the carpet."

"No problem," said Tarzan, "I'll let the hounds in for a few minutes and they'll have it cleaned right up."

"So how 'bout it?" asked Korak. "Can Meriem and I have the travel trailer?"

"Of course," said Jane. "I'll get you some clean blankets and some towels and Tarzan will start the generator so you'll have some power out there."

"Meriem and I will start moving our stuff out of Boy's room," said Korak.

CHAPTER 2: THE HOMECOMING

Boy was getting more excited as every mile passed.

He had his diploma from college safely tucked in the bottom of his quiver, and he had cast away his traveling duds and donned a loin cloth for his return home, just to get back into the "swing of things."

As he neared home territory, he heard a mocking chatter off to the side in some bushes and looked to see a chimpanzee folding up an easel and gathering up a carrying case of paints.

"Cheeta!" smiled Boy. "Man, it's great to see you again!"

Cheeta bared his teeth in a broad grin and began jumping up and down and clapping his hands, causing him to drop his painting equipment, which was then smashed by his stomping feet.

"Aw, you won't need that stuff anymore anyway," consoled Boy. "I'm back. And we're going to have some fun again, just like in the old days."

As he spoke, Boy grabbed a couple of bananas from a nearby tree. He tossed one to Cheeta and began peeling one for himself.

The chimpanzee carefully peeled his banana and then, just as carefully, placed the peel on the trail in a strategic spot, where some unwary white hunter would be sure to slip on it. Let the fun begin indeed, the little chimp reasoned.

"I think this is where the treehouse is supposed to be," said Boy, stopping, a puzzled expression on his face. "But it's not there anymore." He sniffed the air, trying to locate the pile of elephant dung that would accumulate in one spot while Tantor was hitched to the treehouse elevator, but he could smell nothing.

Cheeta began jumping up and down and running a few feet and looking back.

"Oh, you want me to follow you?" said Boy. "Okay, lead on."

They hadn't gone far when the jungle broke on a vast, cleared vista. To the right was the Waziri Village and to its left a large green lawn. In the distance, at the far left edge of the lawn, was a two-story bungalow made of hand-hewn logs.

"That must be their house now," said Boy, breaking into a jungle trot to cross the distance more quickly.

As he moved forward, his eyes took in everything. He saw the kennels, the flowers, the manicured decorator trees, the manmade, Olympic-size pond and the stone walk leading up to the home. Behind it he could see part of a travel trailer with a Jeep parked nearby. He also caught the scent of a chicken coop.

As he came near the house, the front door opened and four people stepped out. He easily recognized Tarzan and Jane but wasn't sure at first who the others were. He did notice the striking resemblance the tall, well-muscled youth had to Tarzan himself. The young girl standing beside him was a beauty.

"Jane! Tarzan!" cried Boy. "I'm home. Did you get my telegram?"

"Yes," said Tarzan. "We get telegram. Now, happy you home."

"Aw Dad," said Boy, "you don't have to talk to me that way anymore. I'm college educated now. I can understand real people talk."

"Excellent, Boy," said Tarzan. "We will look forward to having you here again and listening to your accounts of all the interesting things you have learned in the institution of higher learning as well as from your followup internship in the jungles of South America. We'll find out if we got our money's worth in Opar gold!"

But Boy was already looking past Tarzan and Jane at the other couple.

"Oh, forgive me," said Jane. "Boy, this is Korak, our son — the one we told you about who had run away. And this is his wife, the lovely Meriem."

"Wow!" said Boy to Korak. "They thought you were dead! I'm glad you're not. Nice to meet you. You too, Meriem!" he said.

Boy shook Meriem's hand and then took Korak's. For a moment, as both young men clasped hands, each applied enough pressure to send an average person to their knees writhing in pain. Neither betrayed the slightest discomfort from the other's firm grip, however, and at some instinctive point, both loosened their hands and dropped them simultaneously.

In spite of the shock of the revelation of the existence of Boy, Korak was impressed with the youth. Boy, likewise, found that he liked this Korak.

CHAPTER 3: A TIME FOR WAR

"So what was it like, growing up with Tarzan as your dad?" asked Korak. He and Boy were in the Greystoke den, Korak in the recliner chair and Boy sitting in a bamboo chair which he had pushed back so it was balanced on its rear two legs, his feet anchored on a zebra-skin footstool.

"It was lots of fun," said Boy. "But it was hairy at times. Mom and I were always getting captured by wicked natives and tied up to await some horrible fate, but Tarzan would always come in time with the elephants and rescue us.

"But Tarzan was always yelling at me for stuff, too," he admitted.

"What kind of stuff?" said Korak.

"Oh, being disobedient, being stupid, being careless. You know, kid stuff."

"Dad never got after me much," said Korak. "I left home before I was into much misbehavior. You might say I did my full quota of misbehavior all at once, by running away. By the time I got back with my parents, I was too old to scold and too big to spank.

"So, what did you study in college?" asked Korak.

"Oh, anything to do with animals," Boy said. "...biology, veterinary medicine, stuff like that. Then I spent a few years as an intern learning about animals in the jungles of South America.

"How 'bout you?" asked Boy. "What's next for you?"

"I'm going to join the British Army," said Korak. "War is coming. We're going to be in the thick of it before long. And I want to do my part to help my country."

"Good idea," said Boy. "The Nazis can be nasty. Some of them kidnapped me once."

"Nazis?" said Korak. "What are Nazis?"

"That's the party that took over Germany," said Boy.

"Never heard of the Nazis," said Korak, "but I've certainly heard of the Germans and their leader, the Kaiser."

"Well that was World War I," said Boy. "I learned about that in college. I'm talking about World War II."

"World War II?" said Korak. "World War I? Never heard of either of those. If we have a war, people are already talking about it as The Great War. One thing is for sure, if there is a war, it'll be the war to end all wars."

"Nope," said Boy. "There will always be war. And there were two big ones in the first half of this century."

"You talk as if you know the future," said Korak.

"Well, I know what I know and I know the past," said Boy. "Nobody knows the future. But I can prove I was captured by Nazis. We have a home movie of it. I know which one it is. It's on the videotape shelf over there and I wrote 'Tarzan Triumphs' on it."

"Oh yeah," said Korak. "I've seen those over there but I haven't watched any of them."

"We can watch it together," said Boy. "In the meantime, this conversation is kind of crazy. Like we're in a time warp or something. You're seeing some things in the future and I'm seeing those things in the past."

"Time warp," said Korak. "That probably explains it. It explains a lot of things, such as how I'm growing up so fast and a lot of other stuff.

"It's a crazy world," Korak added. "Let's just have some fun and not worry about it."

"Okay by me," said Boy, "do you want to go hunting, Jack?"

"Call me 'Korak'," came the reply.

"Call me 'Bomba'," said Boy.