The Enchanted Duplicator

by Walter Willis and Bob Shaw

Chapter 8

In Which Jophan Meets Two Strange Neofen

In the days that followed, Jophan saw and heard many hordes of Typos blundering through the jungle, but, thanks to the Fairy's advice, he came to no harm. One day, however, he came across a small herd of them on the path in front of him, moving slowly in the same direction as he. He overtook them carefully, meaning to pass them unobserved, when to his horror he noticed that there was a Neofan in their midst. He was about to call out a warning when he perceived that the Neofan was sitting, apparently unharmed, on a crude hurdle which was actually being borne along by the typos. At this sight Jophan cried out in astonishment, upon which the Neofan turned round and greeted him cheerily.

"Good morning, friend," he said. "What is your name and whither are you bound?"

"My name is Jophan," said Jophan, "and I am on my way to Trufandom to obtain the Enchanted Duplicator and produce the Perfect Fanzine."

"I also," said the Neofan. "My name is Kerles. Would you care to ride with me?"

"No, thank you," replied Jophan without hesitation. "To tell the truth I should be afraid of those horrible creatures."

"Horrible?" laughed Kerles. "Everybody fights shy of me on account of these typos, but actually they are quite agreeable fellows. Look, they will even do tricks for me."

So saying, he stretched out his Shield of Umor, which was large and brilliantly polished, and gave a word of command. Instantly several of the typos jumped neatly over the shield, performing somersaults and such other odd antics that Jophan burst out laughing.

"See?" said Kerles. "Quite cheerful fellows, really. I don't understand why people dislike them so much."

Jophan was impressed, but he noticed that while Kerles was admittedly saving energy by this mode of travel, he was not proceeding very quickly. Moreover, every now and then the typos would wander off into the jungle, from which they were brought back with such difficulty that Kerles seemed in constant danger of losing his way altogether. Jophan felt it was impossible to press the beasts into any really useful service, and, reluctant to remain in the presence of the ugly creatures bade Kerles a friendly farewell.

He had not gone very far when he perceived another traveller on the path, and hurried to overtake him. By the speed with which he was able to do so he surmised that the other was standing still, but when he caught up with him he found that such was not the case. The Neofan was in fact moving forwards, but so slowly that quite a considerable time elapsed between steps. This time the Neofan seemed to spend in consulting various books from a pile which he carried under one arm, and in clearing away every tiny frond from the margin of the path before he ventured forward. On the Neofan's back was a huge rucksack which appeared to be crammed full with heavy objects, and a bundle of peculiarly-shaped swords, walking-sticks and umbrellas. Jophan's curiosity was aroused by this extraordinary mass of equipment and he addressed the Neofan politely.

"Good afternoon, friend," he said. "My name is Jophan, and I am on my way to obtain the Magic Mimeograph and publish the Perfect Fanzine. Could you please tell me what are those things you are carrying?"

"Good afternoon," said the Neofan. "These," he said proudly, pointing to the books, "are my guides. These swords and things are for cutting, shading, burnishing, and so on. A large number of all these are absolutely essential if one is to find one's way through this jungle safely. Although," he added mournfully, "I didn't want to come this way at all. I would have gone by the Letterpress Railroad if I had had enough money. My name is Perfexion, and I too --"

At this point there was a rustling noise in the undergrowth, and, panicstricken, the Neofan threw all his belongings to the ground. Rummaging in his rucksack he pulled out a peculiar-looking article made of wood and glass. Holding this to his eye, he peered intently into the jungle.

After some minutes he was apparently satisfied, and put the instrument back in his rucksack.

"What was that thing you were looking through?" asked Jophan curiously.

"That was my 'scope," said Perfexion. "I use it to watch out for those . . . animals."

"You mean the typos?" asked Jophan. The Neofan seemed terrified by the mere utterance of the word and stared hauntedly into the jungle.

"Yes," he whispered fearfully. "Those dreadful Things. Er . . . would you like to travel with me? It would be so much safer if we could both watch out for . . . Them."

Jophan was filled with pity for the timorous Neofan, but he realised he would make very slow progress in his company.

"Thank you," he said kindly, "but I'd rather just take my chances with the typos. I want to get on."

He shook hands with the Neofan and continued on his way. At the next bend in the path he turned round to give a friendly wave, but Perfexion was so busy with his equipment that he did not notice.

Jophan slept fitfully that night, his mind being occupied with the events of the day, and was up and on his way before daylight the next morning. So adept had he become at negotiating the jungle, and so dexterous at avoiding the typos, that he had covered a considerable distance before the sun rose above the horizon. When it did so Jophan saw to his delight that the jungle seemed to be coming to an end. The trees were further apart, the undergrowth less dense, and the path stretched invitingly in front of him, clear and well marked. Jophan broke into an eager run.

This version is from GHUTENBERG'S BHIBLE -- Section 7-b (Appendix B) -- Copyright © 1994 by Greg Hills. All rights reserved.

All rights to the original material is retained by the authors.