“What?!” Ysabell yelled. You would destroy our homes and
lives, not to mention Sprag’s body.” A tear rolled down her
cheek. “There must be a better way!”
“I’m awfully sorry,” High-Tech Green Thing said with
genuine sympathy, “but it’s the only option I have.”
“But what about Sprag?”
“Unfortunately his body will have to be destroyed – there’s
no getting around that. But his brain will survive. My high-technology
equipment will ensure that.”
Ysabell still seemed unconvinced. “What about out village?”
She asked tearfully.
“Again, my technology will be your saviour.” High-Tech Green
Thing said proudly. “I can build you a new village, complete with
the modern conveniences I know you all dream of, in just a couple of weeks.
The next valley is very nice. I’m sure you’ll like it.”
The flying machine’s computer made an announcement. “THE SPRAG
LIFE FORM WILL SUFFER BRAIN DEATH IN SIX MINUTES.”
“No time left to waste.” High-Tech Green Thing said. “Everyone
must evacuate to the hills immediately. I must operate on Sprag now.”
The villagers panicked and began running in all directions.
Mayor Barrington Billshot wobbled his over-sized gut and took control.
“This way. Let’s all stick together. The hills to the south
will be the safest. Follow me.”
The villagers had great respect for their mayor, and followed without
High-Tech Green Thing waited until the villagers were out of sight. “How
long has Sprag got?”
“THREE MINUTES AND ONE SECOND.”
High-Tech Green Thing was about to close the opening in the cockpit canopy
when he noticed that Ysabell and Jock were waving outside. He shouted.
“You two should be running for the hills!”
“Jock wants to stay.” Ysabell said. “He wants to make
sure Sprag is OK.”
“Of course he’ll be OK.” High-Tech Green Thing said,
offended by the apeworm’s lack of confidence in his abilities. “My
high-technology will prevail. Now head for the hills!”
Jock spoke, his voice shaky. “I am totally responsible for Sprag’s
condition. I must stay.”
High-Tech Green Thing realised there was no time to continue this argument.
“Very well.” He operated some controls. “I’ve
lowered an entrance ramp at the rear. Get onboard. Hurry.”
Ysabell and Jock clambered up the ramp and into a very spacious and comfortable
cabin. Several red fur-lined seats were spread around the room, and large
potted plants in the cabin’s corners created a relaxing atmosphere.
Several paintings of ugly creatures adorned the walls.
High-Tech Green Thing monitored Ysabell and Jock on a video display in
the cockpit. Once they were inside he closed the ramp, and the opening
in the cockpit canopy. He operated the intercom. “I’m afraid
the seats are designed for bipeds. You may have a little trouble sitting
down Jock, being totally limbless.”
“I’ll manage.” Jock said over the speaker, sliding onto
“Strap yourselves in. This may be a rough ride.
Ysabell helped strap the apeworm to his seat, and the sat down herself.
She locked and tightened a restraining harness across her slim waist.
“There are no windows!” she complained. “I want to be
able to see what’s going on.”
High-Tech Green Thing spoke to the computer. “Open the view ports
and activate the display screens in the rear cabin. Create live news reports
to keep our guests informed as to what’s going on.”
High-Tech Green Thing spoke over the intercom once again. “How’s
On the video display Ysabell could clearly be seen peering out one of
the view ports. “That’ fine.” She said.
“Good. The impressively large display screens at the front of the
cabin will show you live news reports and high-clarity graphical data
– all produced and edited by this flying machine’s computer.”
Ysabell nodded, a little confused. She’d seen High-Tech Green Thing’s
flying machine many times, but had never been this close to its bewildering
array of technological marvels.
The computer spoke. “THE SPRAG LIFE FORM WILL SUFFER BRAIN DEATH
IN ONE MINUTE.”
“This is it!” High-Tech Green Thing announced melodramatically.
“Here we go.”
With a deep and throaty roar the flying machine lifted away from the village
square and positioned itself directly above the well.
High-Tech Green Thing prepared to perform a stunning operation. “How
long have we got?”
“Lower the medical drone.”
A small hatch opened on the underside of the flying machine. A small spherical
drone buzzed out and spiralled into the shaft of the well. The slime,
which was continuing to pour into the well, lashed out at the drone. The
drone swerved to avoid the attack, smashing into the shaft wall as it
did so. Sparks flew in all directions.
After a couple of seconds the medical drone reached Sprag. The camera’s
on the drone sent back chilling images. The level of the slime had reached
High-Tech Green Thing prepared to operate. He placed his gloved hands
over one of the control surfaces in the cockpit. “Actually, this
will be quite good fun!” He began to operate the controls.
A tiny hatch in the drone opened and a metal rod extended out. It unfolded
into a brutal-looking circular saw that immediately began spinning at
a frightening rate. The drone moved forwards and began to cut into Sprag’s
forehead. Blood and bone scattered in all directions. The drone did a
quick orbit of Sprag’s head, and within a couple of seconds his
skullcap had flipped off his head and into the slime below. Another rod
extended from the drone and expanded into a suction pad. It attached itself
to the top of Sprag’s exposed brain. The drone pulled up hard. After
a few seconds of straining, Sprag’s brain, complete with most of
his spinal column, snapped free of his body. The drone made a rapid ascent,
dodging several attacks from the enraged slime.
“How long?” High-Tech Green Thing asked.
The medical drone shot out of the well and into its hatch. The door closed
just as the slime hit. It splashed harmlessly off the flying machine’s
“THE BRAIN OF THE SPRAG LIFE FORM HAS BEEN PLACED IN A CRYOGENIC
CAPSULE. OPERATION SUCCESSFULL.”
High-Tech Green Thing laughed. “Excellent! How long did we have
left to spare?”
“ONE POINT ONE-FOUR-FIVE SECONDS.”
“Really? I needn’t have rushed quite so much then.”
Ysabell and Jock had watched the operation in grim high-resolution detail.
Both had been on the verge of vomiting. The two of them were suddenly
pressed hard into their seats. High-Tech Green Thing’s flying machine
was making a very rapid ascent. After a few seconds things calmed down.
High-Tech Green Thing’s voice sounded over the intercom. “Sorry
about this, but the slime was trying to grab hold of us. I had no choice
but to make a painfully fast climb.”
Ysabell sat up straight and took a moment to gather her senses. She leaned
over and looked out the view port. Her jaw dropped in shock. She had never
even seen the valley from the hilltops, never mind from the edge of the
atmosphere. Neither had Jock, but he was deeply unconscious and could
not care less. “Why are we so high?”
“Don’t you remember?” High-Tech Green Thing responded.
“I have to atomize the valley. If I did it from a lower altitude
we would be atomized too.”
“Oh, yes.” Ysabell said, sadly. “Of course.”
“I don’t want to do it, but as I said to you before, it’s
the only course of action open to me.”
Ysabell began sobbing.
High-Tech Green Thing switched off the intercom. There was nothing more
annoying than a weeping woman, except maybe a bawling baby.
The computer spoke. “THE MASS OF THE SLIME IS INCREASING AT A GEOMETRIC
RATE. IT IS FORMING A COLUMN TO REACH US. CURRENT HEIGHT IS ONE POINT
TWO KILOMETRES AND RISING.”
“Let’s work fast.” High-Tech Green Thing said with incredible
urgency. “Arm atomizer warhead one.”
“ATOMIZER WARHEAD ONE ARMING… GUIDANCE SYSTEM ACTIVE. TARGETING
SYSTEM ACTIVE. CURRENT HEIGHT OF THE SLIME COLUMN IS TWO POINT EIGHT KILOMETRES
“Lock on to the base of the slime column.”
“LOCK ACHIEVED. AWAITING LAUNCH COMMAND.”
High-Tech Green Thing paused. He had never used one of his atomizer weapons
before. He had run countless simulations deep in his cavernous hideout
and new exactly what to expect. But this real life situation was causing
him sudden and great concern. Doubt started to cloud his mind. He shook
his head and cleared his mind. “Scan the valley.” He ordered.
“Have all the villagers reached the hills?”
“SCANNING… ALL VILLAGERS ARE ON THE HILLTOPS. CURRENT HEIGHT
OF THE SLIME COLUMN IS EIGHT POINT ONE KILOMETRES AND RISING.”
A violent rumbling shook the whole flying machine.
“ATOMIZER WARHEAD ONE LAUNCHED. EIGHT SECONDS TO IMPACT. CURRENT
HEIGHT OF THE SLIME COLUMN IS FOURTEEN POINT THREE KILOMETRES AND RISING.”
High-Tech Green Thing reactivated the intercom. “Stay away from
the view port, Ysabell. I don’t want the detonation to damage those
beautiful blue eyes of yours.”
He watched the video display as Ysabell moved back to her chair.
“THREE SECONDS TO IMPACT. TWO SECONDS… ONE SECOND…”
A flash as bright as two hundred suns erupted across the valley of Omahl.
The incredible heat immediately vaporised the village and all of the plant
life in the valley. The heat had very little effect on the slime, but
the blast wave did. The column of slime – its base now split into
twelve-thousand pieces – collapsed into the cauldron of white heat
below, the two-thousand kilometre-per-hour winds shredding it into long
High-Tech Green Thing watched the havoc unfold through his helmet’s
protective visor. “Wonderfully effective!”
The brightness began to fade. The scorched earth of the once life-infested
valley was becoming clearer as the debris from the explosion split into
atoms and diffused away into the atmosphere.
High-Tech Green Thing operated the intercom. “You can look now.”
He watched as Ysabell moved over to the view port.
She spoke quietly. “It looks quite calm down there, considering.”
“Yes. These atomizer warheads burn out quite quickly.”
“I think we should fix Sprag now.”
“You’re right, my dear. There’s nothing more for us
to do up here.”
With great skill. High-Tech Green Thing turned the flying machine around
and headed down towards his secret caverns. It was time to construct a
cybernetic body for Sprag’s brain to live it.
A dark shape moved slowly behind a rock at the edge of the devastated
valley of Omahl. It slipped down a crack and disappeared below the surface.