Judy Bolton Days

Judy Bolton Days
First annual in 1991!

Thursday, January 10, 2013



All chapters through chapter 12 are now available on this alternate site:THE QUEST OF THE GOLDEN DRAGON https://sites.google.com/site/rickbrantfanfiction/dragon

or The South Seas City of Death Mystery


"No, no ... they probably weren't all Americans," Jimmy said, his voice low and husky, as the boys stood there momentarily in frightened awe, gaping at the hundreds upon hundreds of skeletons. "Many of them were probably other Allied Troops, too - Australians, New Zealanders, British, even some innocent civilians."

"You're right," Rick hissed. "And they all died here, and were left here ... "

"Move on!" Scotty interrupted from behind, grabbing Butubu by the hand and surging forward. There were shouts and gunfire coming from the cavern behind them.

Butubu started crying out and holding back. He didn't want to go on past the all the remains of the dead men, but Scotty pulled him on resolutely. "Come on! We gotta get going! Those guys aren't far behind us!"

Rick jerked into action and grabbed Chtupa, who was frozen with fear, and half carried him forward.

"They won't hurt you," he gruffed, as if the boys could understand. He felt a pang in his breast and he gulped, gesturing toward the skeletons. "They're just dead men who sacrificed their lives so that we can live free. Oh man, God bless them! Tell the boys, Jimmy!"

Jimmy translated while they huddled hurriedly down a narrow path between the rows of hanging skeletons and the piles along the sides. In the lantern glow and with the flashlight beams darting here and there, it was a veritable chamber of horrors. Long leg bones knocked their shoulders as they tried to squeeze in between. The skeletons rattled. A few loosened and fell down, one right on top of Butubu, which caused the boy to scream in terror.

Rick pulled the skeleton off him, wondering who this dead man was, where he had come from, who he had left behind wherever his home may have been. He cast it aside as Scotty pulled the native boy along. Rick listened to the rattle of the skeleton's bones as it fell. His teeth gritted and he shuddered, overcome with emotion.

"A torture chamber!" Scotty rasped out. "Or ... worse!" He raised the lantern so they could see a huge pile of skulls.

Skulls with no bodies!

"Those guys! They beheaded them! "Jimmy huffed as they rushed by.

Rick, his hands full with Chtupa and the rifle and flashlight, nudged Scotty in the side. "I'm so totally glad you made it back home after the war, pal. I'd hate to think of you rotted away in some long lost and forgotten chamber like this on one of these crazy islands."

Scotty ducked to avoid the dangling feet of a skeleton. "And the worst part, Rick, these guys are all the guy next door, the average Joe. Just like me!"

Jimmy let out a strangled laugh at that. "Oho! Scotty, you are the farthest thing in this world from the average Joe. There ain't nobody nowhere who has a guy like you living next door!" He paused momentarily, then, "Except for Rick, that is."

Rick exploded in nervous laughter. "No, Jimmy, not next door. He lives in the same house. Oh, lucky me!"

Scotty had no time to fling out the retort that was on the tip of his tongue. The cave of horrors had come to an end and now led into a smaller narrow one. He caromed right into it pulling Butubu, then thrust the boy ahead to guide with the lantern. They began to run down the flat ash-like surface of the cave with the other boys behind them.

"Whew! That was gruesome!" Rick exhaled forcefully, just now realizing that he'd been holding his breath. He let Chtupa run up ahead with the other native boy to light up the way. "I wonder what's up ahead. We gotta get out of these caves and back to the jeep!"

"You're tellin' me?" Jimmy grunted from behind. "Those tong guys should be running into the skeletons about now. They're right behind us!"

Scotty suddenly let out a shout. "Ho! I think we made it!"

Then he and the native boys vanished around a turn with the lanterns, followed close behind by Rick and Jimmy who quickly saw it was an entrance to another cave, a big one, with a rail track running down its middle. Up ahead they could see an empty utility trolley car. Chtupa and Butubu had instantly started shouting up a verbal storm as they all ran over to the rail car.

"This is where the old Chinese man took them for a ride. Other caves must connect to this one too." Jimmy explained. He paused to take a breath, then, "The trolley goes with a little push and then there's a hill ahead that leads down to an old bunker that goes outside. They rode down the other day in another car."

"Fantastic!" Rick spoke crisply, steel in his voice. "Jimmy, throw those kids into that car and jump in yourself. Scotty and I will push till we get it going."

"Aye, aye, suh!"

They reached the lone car in seconds and Jimmy placed the guns and lights inside it and tossed the native boys in as if they were bags of potatoes. Rick and Scotty kept watch behind as Jimmy climbed in, then they shouldered the back of the car and pushed with all their might.

"Whoa!" Rick cried out, almost falling. The car had moved so easily he lost his balance. "This thing sure goes swell!"

"Jump in, Rick. I'll push," Scotty told him. "This thing is as well-oiled as the roller coaster at Palisades Park! The old madman must have used it regularly."

Rick heaved himself in, crowding the interior, and not a moment too soon. Shouts and gunfire erupted behind them as the men in pursuit of them ran out into the cave.

Scotty pushed the car on like a human bulldozer.

Ping! Ping! Ping!

The gunfire echoed in the cave and Rick pulled his rifle and shot back, aiming high, reminding the enemy that he and his friends were armed and dangerous too.

"Everybody duck!" he commanded. "Scotty, the car is starting to roll down the grade. Get in here!"

Ping! Ping! Ping!

Scotty ran behind the car, pushing with all his might. "Just around that bend up ahead!"

Rick's heart was knocking in his ears as he and Jimmy, too, let go a few more bullets.

"Get in here, man!" he shouted at Scotty. "They'll hit you!"

"Okay! Okay!"

Ping! Ping! Ping!

As the rail car swept around the bend, Scotty heaved himself in and landed with a thump on his head and shoulders, his feet sticking up in the air. The grade quickly grew steeper and the car roared down the tracks, the lanterns lighting up the tunnel in swift moving wavering spotlights along the rugged stone walls. Scotty twisted himself into an upright position and the others all had a good laugh at his expense as the car whizzed through the cave.

"You big klutz!" Jimmy gloated. "So that's how an American jumps into a moving car, eh?"

Scotty threatened him with a flashlight. "Don't start on me, Jimmy Tomato!"

"Tomato, potato, banana-ramma-damma," the New Guinea boy laughed. "You can call me anything you want, Mr. Scott. You just saved the day with that big running heave-ho and now those tong bazookas can't get us!"

They were all slapping Scotty on his back and pounding his shoulders as the car swerved around another bend, then roared down a bumpy straightaway. Butubu squinted his eyes to look forward, then let out a shout and pointed ahead.

The others looked in that direction and saw a square of daylight down the grade at the bunker entrance ahead, which had just come into view. It was the end of the tunnel and the rail car was quickly approaching it. A big concrete block sat there at the tracks' end threatening to greet them.

"The brake!" Rick shouted. "There's gotta be a brake!"

Chtupa jumped over and grabbed an iron bar in the car's front and began slamming himself into it as he cried out excited exclamations, all to no avail as the car did not slow down in the least.

"You'll never do it, pipsqueak!" Jimmy fretted, pushing the youngster aside and slamming his considerable bulk against the braking device.

The wheels began to lock and they screeched like wild jackals. Jimmy had to fight the brake to keep it engaged and working.

"Sure you don't need me to help?" Scotty asked smugly,

Jimmy made a face at him. "I'm sure it was you and you alone, Scotty, who stopped the entire Japanese empire here in the Pacific," he shouted as he struggled. "But I think I can manage to stop this trolley cart on my own!"

But even with all his strength bearing on the brake, the car banged into the concrete pier with a resounding thud, jarring the riders. It wasn't enough to daunt them in the least, however, and they grabbed the rifles and flashlights and lanterns and jumped out. They still had to hustle. The tong members were up the cave behind them a ways and they had no time to lose. They ran toward the daylight, out the bunker entrance into the suffocating heat and humidity and endless tangle of jungle foliage and vines.

Chtupa gesticulated wildly to their right and burst forth with a volley of clucking syllables.

"The cave with the jeep is right down there," Jimmy said, pointing in that same direction. He jerked his chin the other way. "But the boys have to run home in that direction, back around the mountain."

"Scoot! Scoot! Go home!" Rick told the young boys, gesturing with his hands. He gave them a big smile. "Me laikam dis fellas lots much!"

He thrust his hand into his pocket and pulled out some bills, change from the Chinese food purchase earlier, and gave them to the older of the two boys. "Thankee, thankee, kiddos! Lotsa moolah!"

The boys cackled and grinned and, the older one stuffing the bills into his pants pocket, they slapped Rick's hands in gestures of farewell. They did the same to Jimmy and Scotty, then threw a last glance at the bunker entrance and turned and fled into the jungle.

"You gave them almost ten American dollars," Jimmy said, as they began to run through the jungle growth laden down with the equipment. "That's pretty much a real fortune to these native mountain people."

"They deserve it. They really helped us out," Rick told him. "We would have never found our way to the old madman's cell on our own."

"Right," Scotty agreed. "But I bet they'll think twice about going back into those caves after this."

"Nah, probably not." Jimmy dodged some low swinging vines and pushed them aside for Rick. "They're just boys. They'll want to show off. Within a few days they'll be taking all the other village kids into that skeleton cave."

"Yeah, but you can be sure they'll stay out of that flying fox cave," Rick chuckled. "Hey, here we are already!"

They had quickly arrived at the cave in which they'd parked the jeep, and they rushed right into it. Scotty jumped in behind the wheel with Jimmy climbing in next to him in the shotgun seat. Rick climbed in the back, stashing all the equipment in a haphazard pile.

Scotty fired the motor and the jeep jolted out into the undergrowth with a roar and a jump. Rick had squirmed into a shooting position with one of the rifles, and not a moment too soon. As soon as the jeep was out of the cave, shouts and gunfire assailed them from the direction they'd just come.

Ping! Ping! Ping!

Scotty swerved in and out of the trees as Rick fired back at what appeared to be ten or twelve Oriental young men running toward them.

"Man, get us out of here!"

Rick threw the command at Scotty and then twisted back to fire once again. Gunfire rang back and forth and, after yet another exchange, the jungle fell back and the jeep roared out into the clearing on Coastwatchers Hill. Rick kept a wary eye on the edge of the bush and eager fingers on the trigger as the vehicle flew across the field overlooking the volcanoes and harbor.

They passed two old jeep-like vehicles and a beat-up military pickup truck parked near the anti-aircraft guns, obviously the means by which the tong members had come up the hill. A moment later, Scotty shot out onto the dirt road leading back down to Rabaul, just as the tong men rushed out of the jungle shouting and shooting.

Rick didn't bother to fire back. He could no longer see the men clearly. "You'd better make this old war horse fly," he shouted to Scotty. "They'll be in their jeeps and truck in a minute and on our tail!"

"Dis fella flyam jeep like Pocka flyam plane!" Scotty laughed back, expertly guiding the bouncing jeep down the bumpy road.

Jimmy guffawed. "Not bad Pidgin for a New Jersey boy!"

Scotty grunted. "Pretty soon I'm gonna start thinking in it!"

Rick extinguished the lanterns and tried to put some order to the tossed-in equipment as they roared down the hill. Scotty flew around the bends of the switchbacks, at times seemingly on two wheels. Rick held his breath on one such bend and pictured the jeep flipping over and tossing the three of them into Vulcan's smoking pit across the way.

It seemed they would never get down to the main road again! The tong members had to be right behind them, although Rick could see no sign of them. He sat on the edge of the seat, leaning between Scotty and Jimmy, the hot air rushing in their faces.

"This is taking forever!" he burst out.

Jimmy cast a glance behind them. "Just a couple more minutes. We'll make it. They can't catch up. Those vehicles they have didn't look any better than this one!"

He was right. They hadn't seen or heard a peep from the tong members by the time Scotty swerved wildly out onto the Kokopo road and headed west past the volcano, as Jimmy instructed. Here he really let the old jeep loose on the smoother road and gave it all it had as they sped on. They were soon a mile down the road past Vulcan and no one was visible behind them!

Rick turned back front from checking it out and pounded both his friends on the shoulders.

"All right! Looks like we made it, chums. Left those tong gooks in the dust again!"

"Dust is right," Scotty laughed. "I never saw so much of it like what's flying behind!"

"That's the ash from Vulcan's past eruptions," Jimmy told them, glancing back at the smoking mountain and the billowing cloud along their path on the road behind. "The top foot of this road is probably all ash. You know, Vulcan used to be an island, not a mountain. But during one of the eruptions years ago, the island blew its top, so much so that it became a mountain and a live volcano. And it still is!"

Rick regarded the smoking giant behind them with a smirk. Who ever would have thought he and Scotty would have such an intimate adventure with a volcano?

Soon they reached a fork in the road and Jimmy, who had been looking at the map, instructed Scotty to follow the right branch. Scotty slowed down to make the turn and the boys could see a signpost on the corner denoting the mileage to several locations.

"Storms End!" Rick shouted triumphantly, seeing the destination listed. "Eighty-seven miles! That's not bad. We ought to get there in a couple hours."

"If the tong guys don't catch up to us," Scotty muttered cautiously, as he floored the jeep ahead with all the strength in his powerful leg.

Jimmy kept his eye on the road behind as they roared on ahead. "I think we beat them out again. That's really cool. The Ching Tu Tong is a really tough bunch of hoodlums!"

"You're tellin' me?" Rick harrumphed, trying to sit back and enjoy the ride in the open air after the claustrophobic conditions of the caves. "And they may be holding my dad and Dr. Warren prisoner, and that Dr. Hyde-Morton from Australia too! We just gotta find them, fellas!"

And on that sobering thought, the boys settled down for the long ride ahead to Storms End. The road soon began to ascend sharply as the hills rose up into even higher country. Jungle foliage was thick all around them and in many places crowding out onto the road. Giant old trees rose high into the sky, festooned with vines of all sizes and thickness. At times they formed a canopy overhead, almost completely blocking out the hot sun. But the resulting shade didn't make it any cooler. It was sticky hot and humid in the jungle, sweltering, and the odor of damp decay was heavy in the air.

Scotty was continually downshifting into lower gears to climb the steep hills. then doing the same again to slow them on the way back down. Up and down they went on the road that grew continually bumpier and less maintained the farther they got from Rabaul. There was little traffic, just a truck here and there with a smiling native at the wheel and a gang of the same in the back on their way to one of the plantations. At times the jungle fell back on one side or the other as the jeep rode along ridges that offered views of rolling hills of jungle green under the clear blue South Pacific sky.

It was indeed beautiful, but Rick knew it was a deadly country in a myriad of ways. The heat and humidity, the insects and the jungle creatures, and the primitive native peoples all spelled danger to the naive and uninitiated. Not to mention the Ching Tu tong on their trail!

Presently they came to a high ridge that exposed a huge rolling valley surrounded by peaks that rose like fingers touching up to the blue. Scotty had to do some tricky shifting on the way down to keep the jeep from running away.

"This is the Bwantowalla Valley," Jimmy told them, then pointed vaguely at the surrounding peaks. "Those are the Finisterre Mountains. Means 'the end of the world'." He handed Rick the map pointing out the location. "We're getting into the gold country now and may soon be seeing some signs of the mining activity."

Scotty groaned at the mere thought of mining. Wiping his brow with the back of his hand, he said, "Who the heck would want to dig for gold in this country? It's too darn hot!"

Rick was checking out the map. The big valley covered a huge area in the mountains of this northern section of the eastern end of New Britain. Rabaul was to the east of it and not far north was the blue of water, the Bismarck Straits, with the small town of Storms End on the coast almost straight above them. There didn't seem to be any other towns nearby, but Rick knew there had to be native villages. They'd been hearing the sound of beating drums at times, even above the roar of the jeep.

The road flattened out on the valley floor and Rick soon realized they were riding through an absolute primeval paradise. The rocky cliffs of the tall peaks hovered above them with wispy, lacy waterfalls cascading down the heights in thin rushing plumes. The wide reaches now exposed all around them were festooned with swampy ponds and lower growth trees and shrubberies all laden with colorful flowers and blooms of all shapes and sizes. Multitudes of birds fluttered and swarmed from branch to pond and cried out in a cacophony of sound that mingled with the rush of waterfalls and the beating of the drums.

"This is like the Garden of Eden," Rick declared, watching a flock of red and green parrots ascend from a reed-filled pond and fly off in unison. Then he chuckled. "If only it was twenty degrees cooler, it'd be perfect!"

Jimmy rolled his eyes at Rick. "You guys are always complaining about the heat. I love it!"

"You're half kanaka," Rick pointed out. "You were made for this intense heat. Come visit us in New Jersey this coming winter and see how you like the cold and snow."

Scotty guffawed at that. "I don't think he'd like it one bit when it gets down in the teens and single digits!"

Jimmy struck a thoughtful pose. "You know, I can't imagine what it's like. I have never experienced cold. Even down in Australia it's always pretty warm. In this part of the world you have to go up to Korea to find cold weather."

Rick pointed out a rounded cliff high up ahead over which three slim plume-like waterfalls poured far down into the valley below. It looked like they'd meet and meld into one at the bottom, but he couldn't see because of the intervening foliage.

"Look at those," he marveled, standing up and holding onto the back of the front seat to view them better. 'Now talk about a shower-bath! We could sure have a good one under those waterfalls."

"Hey, great idea," Scotty agreed. "It'd sure be nice to clean up a little. Do you think it'd be safe, Jimmy?"

Jimmy looked at the landscape around them. "Should be. There doesn't seem to be anything going on around here." He cocked an ear and listened, then added, "Just those drums. But you hear that all over New Guinea in the tribal areas."

"Then let's do it," Rick decided, and he sat back down and began rummaging through his and Scotty's backpack for towels and soap.

A couple minutes later Scotty pulled off the road onto a gravelly shoulder near a path that led into the jungle. The waterfalls were high up above and the spot they cascaded down into was somewhere ahead beyond the dense jungle growth.

"Is it safe to leave the jeep here?" Rick asked of Jimmy.

"I suppose so. There doesn't seem to be anyone around. Just take the keys, Scotty. It should be okay."

Clutching bars of soap and with towels flung over their shoulders, the boys eagerly made their way down the path which followed a creek through the jungle. Because the valley was so swampy, the growth was not as high and thick and they were able to move along quickly toward the waterfalls. Everything around them was brilliant and dazzling in the relentless sun, but the breathless heat was stifling. Mosquitoes buzzed around them and reeds and high grasses tangled with the bush and vines. They had to be cautious not to step in dangerous mucky spots where they might sink in up to their ankles, or worse. Banks of mangroves grew along the creeks and ponds and Rick found himself searching amongst them with his eyes for any quick movement.

"Any crocodiles here?" he asked Jimmy uneasily.

"I don't know," was Jimmy's reply, along with a shrug of his shoulders. "We're in a valley but it's high up in the hills. The crocs may not come up to this high altitude." He smirked and went on. "But there are other dangers. Big snapping turtles, poisonous snakes, wild pigs, malarial mosquitoes, witch doctors, headhunters, cannibals ..."

"We get the drift!" Scotty interrupted with a grunt. "In other words, we're just plum crazy to be here in the first place?"

"You got it!" Jimmy laughed.

At length the boys reached the area where the three waterfalls cascaded down into an elevated pool that trickled down step-like terraces of rock into the swampy wetlands. It looked to Rick like a scene right out of the story of Adam and Eve, beautiful and primeval, the epitome of paradise. The three plumes of water did indeed meet at the bottom where they splashed into the pool in front of the rocky facade, and a fine spray mist spread out beyond the edges toward them.

"Yowza! Made to order!" Scotty enthused, plopping down on a flat rock to pull his shoes off. "Time to cool off!"

"Don't get your expectations up," Jimmy warned as he pulled off his shirt. "The water is probably warm."

Rick shrugged. "It sure looks inviting anyway, even if it's like a hot springs."

The boys stripped down and left their clothes on the large flat rocks bordering the pool. They climbed the terraced steps and felt the water trickling down underfoot. It was warm, as Jimmy had predicted, but did feel a little cooler than the air temperature. The pool was crystal clear down to its deep rocky bottom and, in a flash, all three boys dove in, the call of the water compelling after the intense heat of the day.

Rick swam down to the bottom and pushed himself back up from the rocky floor. He shot up out of the water right under the deluge of the waterfalls and their resulting spray. Cooler or not, it was exhilarating. He stayed there treading water and listening to the roar above and the splash all around, and he experienced a brief sensation of freedom from all the troubles that had been weighing on his mind since he had received the package from the mysterious schooner two nights ago.

Scotty plopped up beside Rick, letting the torrent pour down upon him as he shook his head vigorously trying to see.

"Ho, Rick! This is just what we needed. I'm lovin' it!"

"No kidding. If we had waterfalls and a pond like this on Spindrift Island, I'd never bathe in the house!"

Scotty guffawed and splashed at him, a useless gesture in the cascade from above.

"You would in the winter, bud," he tossed back at him. "It's a little too cold for doing this in New Jersey in January!"

Jimmy popped up between them and the boys cavorted and horsed around for a while, as boys do the world over in swimming holes, and then they got to work with the bars of soap to wash away the sweat and grime of their recent toil in the equatorial heat. Behind the falls was a wide ledge where they climbed up onto and were able to wash up and let the swirling mists shower the soap away.

Later, relaxed and refreshed,they lay on the big flat rocks in the hot sun to dry off. The tangled greenery of the swampy jungle surrounded them and the triple falls spilled down from above. Crowned pigeons with stately headdresses and colorful parrots fluttered around, dipping down to the pool at times for sips of water. Blue and gold delicate butterflies whirred above them to hover over the sparkling waters.

Rick gazed up to the top of the waterfalls. "How high do you guys think that cliff is?"

"About the length of a football field," Scotty conjectured. "Around three hundred feet or so."

"Some of these pools are sacred," Jimmy informed them. "The primitive natives believe that the water gods abide in them."

Scotty chuckled at that. "We've just been swimming with the gods. That sure is swell!"

"The people have mostly been converted by the missionaries," Jimmy went on. "Granny Sal worked with them for many years. But the old religions are still practiced in some tribal areas, mostly in secret but sometimes blatantly out in the open. And everything has a god or a spirit to it - a tree, a rock, an animal, a man - everything!"

"That's a lot of gods to remember," Rick reflected.

"It sure is," Jimmy agreed. "And they all must be appeased all the time. The witch doctor is always very busy making sure all the gods are happy."

"We could us a good witch doctor," Rick joked. "Maybe he could invoke those gods to come up with a solution to our mystery. What happened to the missing scientists and old Johnny Fang? And what the heck is the terrible secret of Palua Pae?"

The boys dried off quickly in the hot sun and pulled their clothes back on, refreshed and ready to move on. Rick draped a towel over his shoulder and gazed out at the jungle greenery and, suddenly, he stiffened and, with a bang, his heart stood still. He let out a grunt of surprise.

"What ...?" Scotty turned to look at him, but he too saw what had startled Rick, and his jaw dropped open.

Jimmy notched his belt closed and looked at them questioningly, and then his eyes followed theirs out toward the swamp, and he stepped back in shock.

"Oh cripes! The Wambutu!"

Along the edge of the foliage were twenty or so muscular native men wearing ratty short pants or breach cloths, necklaces of shells and small animal skulls, huge birdfeather headdresses on their woolly hair, and sporting painted faces straight from a nightmare. They carried spears, bows and arrows, rifles, and shoulder-slung strings of smoking human skulls and shrunken heads.

Because of the roar of the waterfalls, the boys had not heard them approach from the jungle. The three of them now looked at each other in dismay, not knowing what to expect.

One of the warriors stepped forward, shaking his spear at them. His face was painted white to look like a skull, frightfully effective on his black skin. His hair was woolly red and blue under the outlandish feather headdress. A string of six shrunken heads hanging from his shoulder completed the diabolical costume.

The Wambutu warrior shouted in a bitter voice of rage, "Dis fellas no savvy no swimswim washwash musakolai!"

Jimmy's face blanched and Rick and Scotty could see him struggle to gather his wits. Then he stepped forward boldly to face the man and sent him back a strong rebuke. He spoke crisply in the kanaka tongue, not Pidgin, and there was steel in his voice.

Rick and Scotty watched warily as the warrior stomped his unshod foot angrily in reply and again shook his spear at them. The others behind him moved in closer as the man spewed out another volley of words in the native tongue. Jimmy looked taken aback, and his fists clenched at his sides.

"What's wrong?" Rick hissed. "What's he saying?"

Jimmy kept his gaze on the warrior as he slowly answered. "They're angry because we swam in the pool of the water gods. They were out there watching us! I told them we just wanted to wash up and meant no harm to the gods - the musakolai. But they don't understand that. They never wash themselves. They think we were just playing in a sacred place!"

"And now," Jimmy paused for a moment, as if to nerve himself for the worst. Then, "He says we must go to the village with them to face the shaman, the witch doctor. We have offended the gods and there must be payback."

Rick could feel his skin begin to crawl. He heard Scotty grunt and say, "Huh? Payback? What kind of payback?"

Jimmy turned to look at them. His blue eyes had hardened to look like bits of flint.

"Look at those skulls and heads they carry," he hissed. "They're the real thing, boys. The Wambutu are angry because of the problems the gold seekers have been giving them. They've been on the warpath for a couple years over it. And now we've gone and offended their gods! And when they're angry and warring, the payback they want is ... death!"

Coming soon, Chapter 13 CANNIBALS AND HEADHUNTERS!