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´╗┐Title: Operation Earthworm
Author: Archibald, Joe, 1898-1989
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Operation Earthworm" ***

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    _Here he is again, the irrepressible Septimus Spink, in a tale as
    rollicking as an elder giant juggling the stars and the planets in
    his great, golden hands and laughing mirthfully as one tiny
    world--our own--goes spinning away from him into caverns measureless
    to man. With specifications drawn to scale, Joe Archibald, whose
    versatility with the quill never ceases to amaze us, has managed
    with slangy insouciance to achieve a rare triumph over space and
    time, and to aureole Spink in a resplendent sunburst of imperishable
    renown._


 operation
 earthworm

 _by ... Joe Archibald_


 Septimus Spink didn't need to read Jules Verne's "Journey to
 the Center of the Earth." He had more amazing ideas of his own.


_Interplanetary Press, Circa 2022--Septimus Spink, the first Earthman to
reach and return from New Mu in a flying saucer, threw a hydroactive
bombshell into the meeting of the leading cosmogonists at the University
of Cincinnatus today. The amazing Spink, uninvited, crashed this august
body of scientists and laughed at a statement made by Professor Apsox
Zalpha as to the origin of Earth and other planets._

_"That theory is older than the discovery of the antiquated zipper,"
Spink orated. "Ha, you big plexidomes still believe the Earth was
condensed from a filament, and was ejected by the sun under the
gravitational attraction of a big star passing close to the Earth's
surface. First it was a liquid drop and cooling solidified it after a
period of a few million years. You citizens still think it has a liquid
core. Some of you think it is pretty hot inside like they had atomic
furnaces all fired up. Ha, the exterior ain't so hot either what with
taxes we have to pay after seven wars."_

_Professor Yzylch Mgogylvy, of the University of Juno, took violent
exception to Septimus Spink's derisive attitude and stoutly defended the
theory of adiabatic expansion. It was at this juncture that Spink
practically disintegrated the meeting._

_"For the last seventy years," he orated, "all we have thought about was
outer space. All that we have been hepped up about is what is up in the
attic and have forgot the cellar. What proof has any knucklehelmet got
that nobody lives far under the coal mines and the oil pockets?
Something lives everywhere! Adam never believed anythin' lived in water
until he was bit by a crab. Gentlemen, I am announcin' for the benefit
of the press and everybody from here to Mars and Jupiter and back that I
intend to explore inner space! I have already got the project
underway."_

_A near panic ensued as representatives of the press made for the
audio-viso stellartypes. "You think volcanoes are caused by heat
generated far down inside the earth. They are only boils or carbuncles.
Awright, where do earthquakes come from?" Here Spink laughed once more.
"They are elastic waves sent out through the body of the Earth, huh?
Their observed times of transmission give a means of finding their
velocities of propagation at great depths. I read that in a book that
should be in the Terra-firmament Institute along with the Spirit of St.
Louis."_

_Septimus Spink walked out at this point, surrounded by Interplanetary
scribes, one of whom was Exmud R. Zmorro. Spink informed the Fourteenth
Estate that he would let them have a gander at the model of his inner
space machine in due time. He inferred that one of his financial backers
in the fabulous enterprise was Aquintax Djupont, and that the fact that
Djupont had recently been brain-washed at the Neuropsychiatorium in
Metropolita had no bearing on the case whatsoever._

       *       *       *       *       *

I am seeing and listening to that news item right now which has been
repeated a dozen times the last twenty-four hours as if nobody could
believe it. I am Septimus Spink, and descended from a long line of
Spinks that began somewhere back at the time they put up the pyramids.

All my ancestors was never satisfied with what progress they saw during
when they lived, and they are the reasons we have got where we are
today. And if there was no Spinks today the scientists would get away
with saying that the Earth was only a drop from the sun that got a crust
on it after millions of years. And they want to send me back to get
fitted for a duronylon strait jacket again.

An hour after I shut off the viso-screen, and while I am taking my
calves' liver and onion capsules, my friend and space-lanceman,
D'Ambrosia Zahooli comes in. He just qualifies as a spaceman as he
takes up very little and is not much easier to look at than a Nougatine.
Once D'Ambrosia applied for a plasticectomy but the surgeons at the
Muzayo clinic just laughed and told him there was a limit to science
even in the year 2022. But the citizen was at home when they divided the
brains. Of course that is only my opinion. He is to fly with me into
inner space.

"Greetin's and salutations, and as the Martians say, 'max nabiscum,'
Sep," Zahooli says. "I have been figuring that we won't have to go
deeper than about four thousand kilometers. All that is worryin' me is
gettin' back up. I still do not fully believe that we won't melt.
Supposin' Professor Zalpha is right and that we will dive down into a
core of live iron ore. You have seen them pour it out of the big dippers
in the mills, Sep."

"Columbus started off like us," I says. "Who knew what he would find or
where he ended up? Chris expected to fall right off the edge of the
world, but did that scare him? No!"

"Of course you can count on me," Zahooli says. "When do we start
building this mechanical mole?"

"In just two days," I says. "Our backers have purchased an extinct
spaceship factory not far from Commonwealth Seven. Yeah, we will call
our project 'Operation Earthworm,' pal."

D'Ambrosia sits down and starts looking chicken. "We wouldn't get no
astrogator in his right mind to go with us, Sep. How many times the
thrust will we need over what we would use if we was just cutting space?
We start out in about a foot of topsoil, then some hard rock and then
more hard rock. Can we harness enough energy to last through the
diggin'? Do you mind if I change my mind for a very good reason which is
that I'm an awful coward?"

"Of course not," I says. "It would be a coincidence if you quit though,
my dear old friend, and right after Coordinator One found out who was
sipping Jovian drambuie on a certain space bistro last Monday with his
Venutian wife."

"You have sold me," Zahooli says. "I wouldn't miss this trip for one of
those four-legged turkey farms up in Maine. It is kind of frustratin'
though, don't you think, Septimus? We are still not thirty and could
live another hundred years what with the new arteries they are making
out of Nucrolon and the new tickers they are replacing for the old
ones."

"Let us look over the model again," I says. "You are just moody today,
D'Ambrosia."

It still looks like it would work to me. It is just a rocket ship
pointed toward terra firma instead of the other way, and has an auger
fixed in place at the nose. It is about twenty feet long and four feet
wide and made out of the strongest metal known to modern science,
cryptoplutonite. It won't heat up or break off and it will start
spinning around as soon as we cut loose with the tail blasts.

"How much time do we need and how much energy for only four thousand
kilometers?" I asks Zahooli. "We got enough stored up to go seventy
million miles into space? We'll cross that bridge when we get to the
river."

"You mean the Styx?"

"That is one thing I will not believe," I sniff. "We will never find
Attila the Hun or Hitler down there. Or Beelzebub."

All at once we hear a big rumbling noise and the plexidomed house we are
in shakes and rattles and we are knocked out of our chairs and deposited
on the seats of our corylon rompers. The viso-screen blacks out, I get
to all fours and ask, "You think the Nougatines have gone to war again,
D'Ambrosia?"

"It was not mice," Zahooli gulps. "It is either a hydroradium plant
backfired or a good old-fashioned earthquake."

After a while we have the viso-screen working. The face of Coordinator
Five appears. He says the worst earthquake in five centuries has
happened. There is a crack in the real estate of Department X6 near the
Rockies that makes the Grand Canyon look like a kid just scraped a stick
through some mud. Infra-Red Cross units, he says, are rocketing to the
area.

"There might be somethin' goin' on inside this earth," I says. "If you
don't poke a hole in a baked potato its busts right open from heat
generated inside. Our project, D'Ambrosia, seems even more expedient
than ever."

"That is a new word for 'insane' I must look up," Zahooli says.

Professor Apsox Zalpha comes out with a statement the next morning. He
says the quake confirms his theory that the inside of the Earth is as
hot as a Venutian calypso number, and that gases are being generated by
the heat and that we haven't volcanoes enough on the surface to allow
them to escape.

Exmud R. Zmorro comes and asks me if I have an opinion.

"Ha," I laugh. "I have many on file in the Neuropsychiatorium. Just go
and take your pick. However, I will give you one ad lib and sub rosa.
There is more downstairs than Professor Zalpha dreams about. Who is he
to say there is no civilization in inner space as well as outer? How do
we know that there is not a globe inside a globe with some kind of space
or atmosphere in between?"

Exmud R. Zmorro says thanks and leaves in quite a hurry. I snap off the
gadget and head for my rocket jeep, and fifteen seconds later I am
walking into the factory where a hundred citizens are already at work on
the inner spaceship. It is listing a little to port from the quake but
the head mech says it will be all straightened out in a few hours. It
is just a skeleton ship at the moment with the auger already in place
and the point about three feet into the ground.

D'Ambrosia Zahooli comes in and says he has been to see Commander
Bizmuth Aquinox. "He will give just enough of the atom pile for seventy
million miles," he says. "And only enough superhydrogenerated radium to
push us twenty million miles, Sep. I think we should write to Number
One. I explained to the space brass that we have got to come up again
after going down and have to reverse the blast tubes. It is radium we
have to have to make the return trip. I says a half a pound would do it.
You know what I think? I bet they don't believe we'll ever git back. And
was their laughs dirty!"

"Skeptics have lived since the beginnin' of time," I scoff. "They
laughed at Leonardo da Vinci, Columbus, Edison, a guy named Durante.
Even the guy who first sat down at a pianer. We will take what we can
git, pal, and then come back and laugh at them."

"I wish you was more convincin'," D'Ambrosia says. "I have
claustrophobia and would hate to git stuck in an over-sized fountain pen
halfway to the middle of this earth."

"Hand me those plans," I says sharply. "And stop scarin' me."

Three months later we have it made. Technicians come from four planets
to look at the Magnificent Mole. The area is alive with members of the
Interplanetary Press, the Cosmic News Bureau, and the Universe Feature
Service. Two perspiring citizens arrive and tear up two insurance
policies right in front of my eyes. An old buddy of mine in the war
against the Nougatines says he wants to go with me. His name is Axitope
Wurpz. He has been flying cargo between Earth and Parsnipia and says he
is quite unable to explain certain expense items in his book. A
Parsnipian D.A. is trying to serve him a subpoena.

"You are in, Axie," I says. "A crew of three is enough as that is about
all the oxygen we can store up. Meet D'Ambrosia Zahooli."

"Why is he wearing a mask?" Wurpz quips.

"You are as funny as a plutonium crutch," Zahooli says.

"No hard feelin's," Wurpz says, and takes a small flask out of his
pocket. "We will drink to Operation Earthworm."

As might have been expected, we run into some snags. The Euthanasia
Society serve us with papers as they maintain nobody can commit suicide
in the year 2022 without permission from the Board. Gulflex and other
oil companies protest to Number One as they say we might open up a hole
that will spill all the petroleum out of the earth all at once, so fast
they couldn't refine it. A spark could ignite it and set the globe on
fire like it was a brandied Christmas pudding. But then another
earthquake shakes Earth from the rice fields of China to the llamas in
Peru just when it looks as if we were about to be tossed into an outer
space pokey.

The seismologists get together and agree that they can't possibly figure
out the depth of the focus and state that the long waves have to pass
through the epicenter or some such spot underground. Anyway, all the
brass agrees that something is going on in inner space not according to
Hoyle or Euclid or anybody else and that we three characters might just
hit on something of scientific value.

The Magnificent Mole is built mostly of titanium, a metal which is only
about half as heavy as steel and twice as rugged. It is not quite as big
in diameter as the auger, for if it was any Martian moron knows we would
scrape our sides away before we got down three miles. We store
concentrated chow to last six months and get the acceleration couches
ready. We are to blast down at eighteen point oh-four hours, Friday, May
26th, 2022. Today is Wednesday. The big space brass, the fourteenth
estate haunt the spot marked X.

We get it both barrels from the jokers carrying press cards. They call
it Operation Upside Down. At last three characters were really going to
dig a hole and pull it in after them. Three hours before Dig-day, Exmud
R. Zmorro interviews us. We are televised around the orbit.

"Laying all joking aside, Spink," the news analyst says dolefully, "you
don't expect this to work."

"Of courst!" I says emphatically. "You forget the first man to reach New
Mu was a Spink. A Spink helped Columbus wade ashore in the West Indies.
The first man to invent a road-map all citizens could unfold and
understand was a Spink."

Zmorro turns to Zahooli and Wurpz. "Don't ask us anythin'!" they yelp in
unison. "You would only git a silly answer."

"A world inside of a world you said once, Spink. Ha--"

"Is that impossible? You have seen those ancient sailing ships built
inside of a bottle, Mr. Zmorro," I says.

He paws at his dome and takes a hyperbenzadrine tablet. "Well, thank
you, Septimus Spink. And have a good trip."

It is Friday. We climb up the ladder and into the Magnificent Mole.
"Check everything," I says to Wurpz. "You are the sub-strata
astrogator."

"Rogeria. I hope this worm can turn," Wurpz says.

       *       *       *       *       *

Zahooli checks the instruments. We don't put on space suits, but have a
pressure chamber built in to insure against the bends. I wave good-bye
to the citizens outside and close the door.

"I have got to git out," D'Ambrosia Zahooli says and heads for the door.
"I forgot somethin'."

"Huh?"

"I forgot to resign," he says, and I pull a disintegrator Betsy on him
and tell him to hop back to the controls.

"Awright, we have computed the masses of fuel we need. Stand by for the
takeoff--er, takedown. Eight seconds. Seven--Six--Five--Four--"

"I know now my mother raised one idiot," Zahooli says.

"Three seconds--two seconds--one second!" I go on. "Awright, unload the
pile in one and three tubes! Then when we have gone about five hundred
miles, give us the radium push."

Whir-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-o-o-om! The Mole shudders like a citizen looking
at his income tax bite and then starts boring. There is a big bright
light all around us, changing color every second, then there is a sound
like all the pneumatomic drills in all the universe is biting through a
thousand four-inch layers of titanium plate. And with it is a rumble of
thunder from all the electric storms since the snake bit Cleopatra. In
less than five seconds we turn on the oxygen just in case, and I jump to
the instrument panel and look at the arrow on a dial.

"Hey," I yell, "we are makin' a thousand miles per hour through the
ground!"

"Don't look through the ports," Wurpz says. "In passin' I saw an
angleworm three times the size of a firehose, and a beetle big enough to
saddle."

"Git into the compression chamber quick," I says to him. "You are
gettin' hallucinations."

I turn on the air conditioning as it gets as humid in the Mole as in the
Amazon jungle during the dog days. The boring inner spaceship starts
screeching like a banshee.

I look at the instrument panel again and see we are close to being seven
thousand miles down, and all at once the gauges show we are out of
energy. I look out the port and see a fish staring in at me, and a crab
with eyes like two poached eggs swimming in ketchup.

Then we are going through dirt again and all of a sudden we come out of
it and I see a city below us all lit up and the buildings are made of
stuff that looks like jade run through with streaks of black.

The Mole drops down about a thousand more feet and then hits the floor
of the subterranean city and we land like a fountain pen with its point
slammed into the top of a lump of clay. Bo-o-o-o-i-ing! We twang like a
plucked harp string for nearly five minutes and I hit my noggin against
the pilot's seat.

When I pick up my marbles I look around for either an Elysium field or a
slag heap but instead a creep is staring down at me. He looks part human
and part beetle and has a face the color of the meat of an avocado. His
head is shaped like a pear standing on its stem and has two eyes spaced
about six inches apart and they are as friendly as those of a spitting
cobra irked by hives. He is about four feet tall and has two pairs of
arms. I guess I am still a little delirious or I would not have told
the thing he would make a swell paper hanger.

The subterranean creep throws a fit and belts me with four fists.
"Dummkopf!" it says, and then I really get scared as he has got a lop of
hair falling down over one eye and has a black mustache the size of a
Venutian four centra stamp over his mouth which is like that of a
pouting goldfish.

I get to my feet and grab for a railing, and I see Wurpz and Zahooli
held by two other monsters that look more like beetles than the one
standing beside me.

"Zo!" the creep with the mustache says. "It is a surprise I talk
Universa? We have radar and telepathometers that give us everything that
is said in the upper world."

I think back and try not to. In the hermetically sealed cylinder back
upstairs among my Americana Spink I have some photographs, Circa 1945.
One is of a citizen of old Nazi Germany who was supposed to have
cremated himself in a bunker. Papers there record that my forebear,
Cyril Spink, had his doubts at the time.

"I am the Neofeuhrer, Earthman," this creep says. "I will conquer the
universe."

"Look," I says, pawing beads of sweat as big as the creep's eyes from my
brow, "have you been testin' atom bombs and worse down here?"

"Jar."

"There, I knew Professor Zalpha was off the beam," I yelp at Wurpz.
"This is what is causin' the earthquakes."

"Come, schwine," the creep says. "I will show you something. The tomb of
my ancestor. Then to the museum to show you how he arrived in Subterro
in the year 1945. This is the city of Adolfus. Mach schnell! Heil
Hitler. I am Agrodyte Hitler, grandson of the Liberator."

The short hairs on the back of my neck start crawling down my spine. We
leave the Mole and walk along a big square paved with a mineral we never
saw upstairs. Thousands of inhabitants of Subterro hiss at us and click
their long black fingers. We walk up a long flight of steps and come to
a cadaver memorial and on the front there are big letters and numerals
in what looks like bloodstone that says: ADOLPH HITLER. 1981.

"Jar, Earthmen, mortal enemies of Subterro's hero, you thought he did
not escape, hah? Come, we go to the museum."

We do. In a glass case is an antique U-boat. "I can't believe it," I
says to Zahooli.

"Neither do I. We never took off. They have us locked up in the booby
hatch in Metropolita. We went nuts."

"He escaped in a submarine, bringing three of Nazi Germany's smartest
scientists with him. He brought plans showing us he could split the
atom. He brought working models." The creep laughs mockingly. "We have
certain elements down here also. Puranium, better than your uranium.
And pitchblende Plus Nine. It will power our fleet of submarines that
will conquer Earth. It is nearly der tag! We will leave through the
underground river that our benefactor found three miles below the
surface of the ocean near Brazil. It spirals down through this earth and
empties into Lake Schicklegruber eighty miles from here."

"And Hitler took one of those Subterro dames as a mate, huh," I says.
"It figures. He was not human himself."

I get another cuffing around but I am too punchy already to feel
anything. The next thing I know I am in the Subterro clink with Wurpz
and Zahooli. D'Ambrosia says maybe we will get released from the strait
jackets soon and get shock treatments and find ourselves back in
Metropolita in our favorite night spot.

"We have to be dreamin' this," I keep telling myself. The guard looks in
at us and he has little slanting eyes.

"How did Jap beetles get here?" I ask Wurpz. I shiver. I think of all
the Subterro subs pouring out of a hole under Brazil and sinking all
Earthian merchant marines, and shooting guided missiles that will land
all over the U.S. They could have rays that would reach up over a
million miles and wash up space traffic.

Then we get another jolt. They bring us our chow and say it is angleworm
and hellgrammite porridge as that is what the Subterro denizens live on
mostly. There is a salad made out of what looks like skunk cabbage
leaves. We found out later that Hitler's brain trust had made an
artificial sun for the Subterrors and they had been given greens for the
first time and increased in size over a hundred per cent.

"We have got to escape," I says to my pals.

"That is easy," Zahooli sniffs. "First we have to break through the
walls here, get to the Mole which can't never move again, and then fight
off maybe six million creeps. We would git reduced to cinders by ray
Betsys the minute we hit the street."

I sigh deeply and reach into my knapsack. I find some lamb stew and
tapioca pudding capsules and split them with Zahooli and Wurpz. Then I
come up with a little box and glance at the label. It says, URGOXA'S
INSECT POWDER--Contains Radiatol.

I get up nonchalantly and call the guard to the barred window.
Beetlehead sticks his face in close and asks what I want. I empty some
of the powder into the palm of my hand and then blow it into his face.
The Subterro sentry's eyes cross. His face turns as pale as milk and he
collapses like a camp stool.

"Eureka!" I yelp. "We are in business, pals."

I hide the box of bug powder when I hear two other creeps come running.
They start yakking in Universa and in bug language both. Agrodyte
Hitler appears and looks in at us.

"What happened, Great One?" I ask very politely.

"We will perform an autopsy," Hitler's grandson says, and turns to
another beetlehead. "Open the door," he says. "I am showing my guests
something before we exterminate them. Too bad about Voklogoo. Most
likely a coronary entomothrombosis. Achtung! Raus mitt!"

"It means get the lead out in old Germanic literature," I says to Wurpz
and Zahooli.

"It is curtains," D'Ambrosia gulps. "In about five minutes we will be
residue."

The Neofeuhrer is like all egomaniacs before him. He wants to brag. We
get into a Subterro Jetjeep and drive about twenty miles through the
underground countryside to the entrance to a cave guarded by some extra
tall Subterrors. Hitler the Third leads us into the spelunker's
nightmare and we finally come to a big metal door about eighty feet long
and twenty feet high.

Agrodyte pushes a button and the steel door lifts. Then we walk up a
flight of steps to the top of a dam and take a gander at a fleet of
submarines that makes Earthian pig-boats look like they belonged in
antique shops.

"We will take you for a ride in one," the dictator of Subterro says.
"After that I will turn you over to the executioner."

"We need lawyers," Wurpz says.

We cross a thin gangplank and enter the sub. The lights in it are
indirect and are purplish green. Hitler Number Three shows us the
telepathic machine, the radar, and the viso-screen that pictures
everything going on upstairs on Earth, and on Mars, Jupiter and all
other planets. There are four other beetleheads on the sub and they
carry disintegrators.

"These Subterro U-boats," our genial host brags, "can go as fast in
reverse as full speed ahead, as the situation warrants. They are alive
with guided missiles no larger than this flashlight I have here, but one
would blow up your Metropolita and leave hardly an ash."

He looks at me, and then goes on: "We will proceed to the lock that will
raise us to the underground river and cruise along its course for a few
hundred miles. It is the treat I should accord such distinguished
visitors from the outside of Earth, nein?"

The skipper of the Subterro sub pulls a switch and there is a noise like
three contented cats purring. The metal fish slides along the surface of
the underground lake and comes to a hole in a big rock ledge.

We see all this through a monitor which registers the scenery outside
the sub within a radius of three miles. The sub slides into the side of
the rock, and then is lifted up to the underground river that winds and
winds upward like a corkscrew to the outlet under Brazil. Every once in
a while a blast of air that smells like a dentist's office goes through
the sub from bow to stern and I ask why.

"There is such terrific potency to the power we use from our puranium,"
Hitler Number Three says, "that we purify the air every few seconds with
formula XYB and Three-fifth. The basis of the gas is galena."

I nudge Wurpz and Zahooli as the Neofeuhrer goes over to converse with
his crew. "It is our big chance," I whisper. "You watch how they run
this tub for the next few minutes. Then when I cough three times you be
ready. I do not know how much powder it will take to knock off the big
bug as he is half human. Once I blow this insect powder at the same time
as the purifying blast is to take place, you two be ready to jump
Agrodyte. I noticed that a small purple light flashes on over the
monitor just before that stuff turns loose. It is a warning so the
beetleheads can take deep breaths."

"Sep," D'Ambrosia Zahooli says. "I take back all the insults of the past
five hours. Shake."

"I am doin' that already," I says. "We have to work fast while we are in
the underground river."

We wait. The Neofeuhrer comes walking back to where we are sitting. The
purple light flashes on, and I count to three. Just as the blast of air
loaded with XYB plus cuts loose I throw all the bug powder left in the
box into the current. Hitler Number Three breathes in a big gob of it
and buckles a little at the knees.

"Grab him!" I screech. "Don't let him yank that disintegrator loose. Hit
him with anything you see, pals!"

I see the other beetleheads collapse like they had been hit with
bulldozers and I know now that insecticide is more dangerous in Subterro
than all the radioactivity harnessed up on six planets.

Agrodyte Hitler, however, has some moxey left in him as he has two of
his hands around Wurpz's throat, the third around Zahooli's leg and is
reaching for a ray Betsy with his fourth. He grabs the disintegrator
just as I belt him over his ugly noggin with a wrench about two feet
long and which was certainly not made of aluminum or balsa wood.

"Himmel!" the Neofeuhrer gulps. "Ach du lebensraum!" He has to be hit
once more which is enough and we tie him up with rope that looks like it
was made out of plutonium filaments.

"Well," I says. "We have a sub from Subterro. Wurpz, you just sit there
at the controls and make sure that needle on the big dial don't move as
I am sure this creep has it on robot so that this tub will automatically
follow the course of the river."

"We are sure takin' a powder," D'Ambrosia yelps. "Look at the monitor!"

We see fish gaping at us from the screen that even Earth citizens with
delirium tremens never saw, and I look quite anxiously at the instrument
panel.

"A thousand miles per and we are climbin'," I says. "I am glad this
Hitler used old Germanic on his subs, and that I majored in it once.
I--er--I am gettin' arthritis all at once! The bends! Uh--er--look, peel
them suits off the other creeps and fast, Zahooli, as I bet they can be
inflated and made into compression chambers. They have got connections
that plug into something."

We pull on the suits which were too big for the beetleheads and for a
good reason. More bends than there are in the Ohio River are with us
before we plug into the right socket. The suits bulge out until our feet
almost leave the floor. I grin through my helmet at Wurpz.

The sub keeps purring and purring. The altimeter registers four thousand
feet. It is a caution, an altimeter in a sub. Two hours later we shoot
out through a hole deep under the coast of Brazil and I know we are in
the ocean as the monitor shows some old wrecked ships about three miles
from us. We disconnect the Subterro anti-bends kimonos and peel them
off. Agrodyte Hitler is moving two of his arms when we climb toward the
surface.

"Hah, we will make a sucker out of history," I says to Wurpz. "And wait
until we show this creep to Professor Zalpha and Exmud R. Zmorro."

We come to the surface and contact an Earthian Franco-Austro atomic
luxury liner. The skipper's pan registers on the viso-screen. "This is
Septimus Spink," I says. "Commander of Inner Spaceship Magnificent Mole.
I have come from the center of Earth with a captured Subterro submarine
and Agrodyte Hitler, the Neofeuhrer. Over and out."

The universe goes into a cosmic dither when we slide into a berth in
Hampton Rhodus. Thousands of citizens hail us as we ride to Metropolita
in a Supercaddijet. Behind us in a truck trailer made mostly of
transparent duralucite is our captive, the descendant of Adolph Hitler
and three dead Subterro beetle people.

"Well, you won't give up so easy on a Spink from now on," I says to
Zahooli. "We are heroes and will get medals. First thing we have to do,
though," I says to Coordinator One sitting in the jet sedan with us, "is
to take care of the hole Earth has in its head. All we have to do is
drop that new bomb down the tunnel we made and it will wash up all those
subs that are left and most likely cause a flood that will inundate
Subterro. What do you think?"

The brass is still tongue-tied. "One thing I must do and that is see
that a certain insecticide manufacturer gets a plug on Interplanetary
TV," I continue. "Ha, we took the bugs out of this planet. It should
work quite smooth from now on."

"I still believe in reincarnation," D'Ambrosia Zahooli says. "I have the
darndest feeling I've been through almost as big nightmares with you
before, Sep."

       *       *       *       *       *

_Interplanetary Press, Circa 2022, Junius XXIV--Professor Apsox Zalpha,
eminent professor of cosmogony, and Exmud R. Zmorro, leading news
analyst of seven worlds, have entered the Metropolita Neuropsychiatorium
for a routine checkup. They emphatically denied that it was connected in
any way with a lecture given recently by Septimus Spink, first man to
explore inner space, at the Celestial Cow Palace in San Francisco. Both
men expect to remain for two weeks. "Of course there is nothing wrong
with either of us," Professor Zalpha told your correspondent. "But if
you see a beetle, please do not step on it. It could be somebody's
mother."_



Transcriber's Note:

    This etext was produced from _Fantastic Universe_ September 1955.
    Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
    copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and
    typographical errors have been corrected without note.





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