The Enchanted Duplicator

by Walter Willis and Bob Shaw

Chapter 7

In Which Jophan Encounters The Denizens Of The Jungle

On the next day Jophan observed a phenomenon which had hitherto escaped his notice. Here and there through the jungle were large swathes of flattened vegetation which bore the appearance of having been made by some huge monster which had smashed through the jungle and left a wake of uprooted vines and splintered trees. Alarmed by this ominous sight he warned his companions to keep together and to proceed with caution. But it was without avail, for as the day wore on first one of them and then another would grow impatient and stride on by himself. Others, again, would be unable to keep up the pace of the rest of the band and would fall discouraged and exhausted by the side of the path. From time to time Jophan tried to encourage these fainthearts, but he was amazed to notice that once they started to retrace their footsteps they seemed to disappear almost instantly from sight. He reflected that if the way into Fandom were as swift and comfortable as the way out, he would feel a great deal happier.

So it was that by the middle of the afternoon Jophan found himself alone on the path. He occasionally caught up with one of those who had rushed on ahead, but each of them had either fallen victim to one of the countless perils of the jungle or had collapsed in a state of complete exhaustion from their reckless expenditure of energy. Several of them he found crushed and bleeding in one of the swathes he had noticed before, and Jophan wondered with trepidation what sort of monster was this which could create such havoc with its mere passing. He kept an anxious watch on the path ahead but it was difficult to see far because of the swirling vapours that constantly rose from the dark vegetation. Jophan marvelled that in his first rapturous view of Fandom he had failed to perceive any sign of this dreadful jungle whose extent seemed to be almost boundless.

This thoughtful state of mind was rudely shattered by a dreadful crushing sound like that of the stampede of a hundred elephants, and the trees further down the path split asunder. Raising his Shield of Umor as bravely as he might, Jophan stared intently into the misty jungle.

A cold shadow of terror fell across him as he failed to see any cause for either the sound or the crushing of the trees. The Thing seemed to be invisible. As the mysterious trampling sound came nearer it took all of Jophan's courage to stand his ground. But then, as he peered ever more intently ahead, he suddenly perceived that it was not one great monster which was advancing on him, but a horde of smaller ones. His difficulty in seeing them at first was, he now realised, due to the fact that their markings and colourings resembled so closely those of their surroundings. They were, he could now see, hideous creatures resembling warthogs, but much heavier, and with dreadful spikes protruding all over their squat bodies.

As they drew nearer, Jophan's eye was caught by one of the Neofen who had earlier rushed on ahead and now lay by the side of the path recovering his strength. As Jophan watched, the Neofan got to his feet to resume the journey, and, unable to see the monsters, staggered abruptly onto the path without looking where he was going. Jophan shouted a warning, but the creatures had already seen their victim. Their little red eyes gleaming cruelly, they changed direction and bore down mercilessly on the unfortunate Neofan, brushing aside his shield of Umor and crushing his bleeding body into the ground.

When Jophan saw that the Shield of Umor was of no avail against the monsters he was overcome with fear and would have turned to flee had not a wondrous thing occurred. In the distance he heard the sound of golden trumpets, and beside him the voice of the beautiful Spirit of Fandom.

"Stay, Jophan!" she whispered. "Do not run! These beasts you see are called typos and their attention is attracted by sudden movement. If you proceed slowly and with care you will not be troubled by them."

Despite this assurance Jophan was wary of passing the monsters, which were now moving slowly along the side of the trail as if watching for more unsuspecting Neofen. "But," he protested, "what if one of their spikes should accidentally strike me? The trail lies very close to them and they are difficult to detect in the undergrowth."

"If you go carefully enough this will not happen," said the Fairy confidently. "However, to set your mind at rest, here is a bottle of a magic liquid called Correcting Fluid. A touch of this will instantly heal any wound made by a typo." At these words a tiny green bottle appeared in the air before Jophan. Clutching it in his hand, he walked carefully past the herd and resumed his journey. -

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.