Read The Wicked Cyborg Online

Authors: Ron Goulart

The Wicked Cyborg (9 page)

Tad hopped forward when an unexpected blaster barrel prodded him in the back. “We really have to find our robot, and we don’t have—”

“Move it,” urged Ugo in a husky voice.


“The publisher wants to talk to you two vigilantes.” Their captor, who was a thin catman of forty, returned to the tile-walled room he had deposited them in an hour earlier.

Tad indicated his face with both hands. “Look, we’re not lizards any longer. It was only a disguise to—”

“Makes no diff what your species, lad. We get rid of spies and vigilantes of all kinds and categories,” replied the catman. “Otherwise we couldn’t maintain the spirit of press freedom which is so essential to us.”

“My name is Tad Rhymer. You must have heard of Rhymer—”

“We have that, yes.” The catman’s yellow eyes slitted down. “Joshua Rhymer’s put a good deal of capital and effort into wiping us out. He claims
and our sister magazine,
Bilge, the Magazine of Depraved Lust,
must be squelched. We didn’t realize he was sending members of the clan directly against us.”

“His Cousin Joshua loathes him,” put in Jana. “That’s why we’re running, to get away from the old codger.”

The catman moved to the magazine rack which was the single piece of furniture in the white room. “You didn’t even look at any of our mags,” he said, disappointed. “We’ve got advance copies of
here and
Swill Forum, the Magazine of Disgusting Confessions.
You have to admit, even if you are fanatically opposed to free expression of sexual standards differing from your own, that this is a socko cover on
Swill Forum.
Am I right?”

“Socko,” said Jana. “Though it could have been a shade more disgusting.”

“You think so?” The catman plucked the magazine off the rack, held it at arm’s length, whiskers flickering. “No, I think this is one of the most completely disgusting covers we’ve ever done. If it were any more disgusting we’d cross the boundaries of good taste.” He rolled the magazine up, tapped against his thigh with it. “You see, despite our underground operations, we put a good deal of effort into market research. With this particular
Swill Forum
cover we did considerable testing. We smuggled advance proofs into the Home For The Sexually Goofy on Murdstone, the Retired Rapists Retreat on Malagra—and there, by the way, a single swift glance at the cover inspired three of the old boys to resume their careers. We even, and this is quite a coup, tracked down the notorious Bert the Slasher, better known as the Unspeakable Crimes Man, to his lair on Esmeralda and Bert gave us a rave reaction. You notice we feature a direct quote from him smack across the cover. ‘Aargh . . . lemme hold it . . . aiee . . . it does strange things to me . . . grrr . . . blood . . . lace pants . . . kill kill kill! (Signed) Berton “The Slasher” Plaut, AKA The Unspeakable Crimes Man.’ A true smasher of a cover.” He arranged the magazine back in its place in the rack. “Enough publishing gossip, let’s keep our appointment with the publisher.”

Outside the white room was a white corridor. This corridor led to another white corridor.

“Do you know who the publisher is?” Tad asked the girl.

“Nope, never heard of him.”

The catman said, “The publisher of all our magazines and books is Dr. Donald ‘Dirty Mind’ Denslow. I’d better caution you now that if you laugh at him when you first encounter him he’s likely to kill you on the spot.”

Chapter 18

They didn’t laugh, neither Tad nor Jana.

“Ironic,” said Dirty Mind Denslow. “No doubt that’s what you’re thinking. Go ahead, snicker, chortle and laugh.”

“We’d rather not,” said Tad, nodding at the blaster pistol in one of the publisher’s hands.

“It is ironic,” went on Denslow. “Something my many critics delight in twitting me about. Would you like to wash your hands?”

“No, thanks,” said Tad.

“Take your picture? Three poses for a buck.”

“Why,” inquired Jana, “have you assumed this . . . persona?”

“Fate,” replied the publisher. “Like a towel?” Another of his white metal arms rose, a fresh white towel waving from it. “Up until three years ago I was a perfectly normal, strikingly handsome purveyor of degrading filth. If you don’t need a towel, how about thrusting your hands under my hot air nozzle for a few seconds? It’s free.”

“We’ll pass,” Tad said.

“Three years ago I made the fatal mistake of attending a Swillcon,” said Denslow out of the voicebox in his white metal chest. “All around the known universe, on every habitable planet, there are fans of my publications. Do you have any notion, by the way, what a challenge that is? To have to arouse the lowest, most rotten sexual urges in everybody from the owlmen of Murdstone to the snakemen of Jupiter, Have you ever considered how difficult it is to come up with a pinup centerfold which will disgust a lizard man, a carman and a humanoid? Yes, and you still have to be artistic about it. Few besides your humble servant, Dirty Mind Denslow, have consistently achieved any measure of success.”

“How come you ended up as a washroom attendant robot?” asked Jana.

Behind them the carman gasped. “Thin ice,” he murmured.

“A very bright young woman,” said Denslow, chuckling inside his mechanical self. “Perhaps we can use you as a Degraded Sex Object of the Month before we exterminate you. Or possibly after. We’ll see.” He steepled the fingers of a few of his white hands. “As I was saying, I had been cajoled into appearing as a GOH at a Swillcon. That’s Guest of Honor, in case you weren’t aware. It was the big 10th Annual Swillcon on the planet Malagra, sometimes known as the pesthole of the universe. We have our biggest concentration of fans there. So I broke my cardinal rule and surfaced long enough to attend. Quite naturally all Swillcons are held on the sly. In spite of very efficient security measures a large faction of smut hunters got wind I was going to make the keynote speech at the Swillcon luncheon. When I rose to speak, following the traditional Unspeakably Vile Lingerie Fashion Show, I was rudely set upon by well over two dozen brutal anti-intellectuals armed with clubs.”

The catman guard was softly sobbing now, sniffling into his paw. “A sad day for publishing,” he said.

“Before my devoted admirers could pull off my attackers, dismember them and dice them into chunks, I was already cruelly damaged,” continued Denslow. “Most of my body was in ruined shape, all that was still functioning at all was my magnificent brain, the same brain which had conceived the entire Swill empire. Remind me to gift you with a pair of disgusting cufflinks, young man. For the young lady a Repuslive Sex Object locket and matching earrings. To continue. Fortunately for the cause of a free press, one of my most devoted fans at that luncheon happened to be the noted transplant whiz, Dr. John ‘Thumbs’ Fairfield. He leaped to my aid, as soon as he had pulled up his trousers and detached all the chains, leather thongs and barbed wire from about his person. A brilliant man, Thumbs assured me that, if we worked fast and were very lucky, he could transfer my brain into another body.”

“A miracle it was,” muttered the catman.

Denslow said, “Strangely enough there was a lack of volunteers. I must admit I was disappointed, since I’d made considerable effort and taken great risks to be their GOH. We almost got a young fellow who specialized in tattooing obscene pictures on his flesh to donate his body, such as it was, but his mother, a striking woman with a knee fetish, wouldn’t sign the necessary papers. Time was running out, my life was ebbing, my great brain drew ever closer to being stilled forever.”

“Tragic,” said the catman.

“Then Thumbs came up with the inspired suggestion that if we couldn’t rope in a human host, a robot would do. This didn’t initially appeal to me, being as I was a man much given to lewd fleshly pleasures and degrading and demeaning physical acts. However, I decided I owed it to myself and my myriad admirers to keep the most enlightened publishing mind in the universe going. Thus I agreed with my last conscious words to having my brain placed in the body of a robot.”

“Couldn’t you,” asked Jana, “have picked a better looking robot?”

“My thought exactly when I awoke to find Thumbs Fairfield had entrusted my brain to the skull of the robot washroom attendant from the convention hotel,” said Denslow. “Remind me to squirt you with perfume later. I contain three different scents. Apparently the hotel management, reluctant about the Swillcon to begin with and not put in a better mood by my near murder at the hands of crazed purity vigilantes, was quite uncooperative when Thumbs attempted to purchase one of their robot staff. If my fans hadn’t threatened to commit acts of incredible sexual malice on the entire human staff, the hotel wouldn’t even have parted with the washroom robot. It became a case of, as I’ve often told people since, any port in a storm.” He gestured with three of his hands. “Which is why you see me before you in this unfortunate state.”

“You have to admit it’s disgusting,” said Jana. “That ought to appeal to someone of your tastes, Mr. Denslow.”

“Yes, that is a modest benefit,” admitted the Swill publisher. “A few of the women I’ve had encounters with claim my new format is so repulsive they arrive at new and thrilling levels of sexual distaste when they’re with me. Now that I’ve concluded my little autobiographical interlude, we’ll proceed with the quest—”


The room’s white door came dancing off its hinges. It clanged into the wall, fell over and smacked the floor with a resounding whoosh.

“Good evening, all,” said Electro from the threshold. “I know I’m late, but I had to stun an endless stream of nitwits to get here.”

“What’s the big idea of . . . say, don’t I know you?” asked Denslow.

“You have the advantage of me, sir. I don’t recall ever having met a washroom—”

“You didn’t have that gray curly hair then, but—”

“Oops, I neglected to remove the last traces of an earlier disguise.” Electro whipped the Mother Zarzarkas wig off his skull.

“Electro!” cried Denslow.

The robot took a few steps toward the publisher. “From the way you shout my name I get the notion we were once—”

“I’m Denslow, Dirty Mind Denslow,” said Denslow forlornly. “Doomed to walk the earth in a robot body.”

“Oh, there are worse fates.”

Tad said, “How come you know him, Electro? Or do you?”

“Yes, Denslow is a friend of your Cousin Cosmo. He paid frequent furtive visits to Foghill in the days when—”

“This partially disguised mooncalf is kin of Cosmo Rhymer?”

“Exactly,” replied Electro.

“Well, then,” said Denslow, “I can’t very well shoot any of you.”

“For old time’s sake, you ought not to,” advised Electro.

Chapter 19

Dawn light came racing through the jungle, scattering mist and turning everything swiftly green. “The chap had never lifted a mechanism of my size and weight before,” Electro was explaining. “Prior to Bob Phantom’s teleporting of me the heaviest object he’d ever moved was a hefty aunt of his who—”

“I don’t think we should have accepted
hospitality,” said Tad as he followed the huge robot along the overgrown pathway. “Spending the night there was—”

“I never require rest myself,” said Electro. “You tots, however, were in need of a night’s repose.”

“We lost a lot of time,” Tad complained.

“Don’t let it unsettle you,” advised Jana, who was walking close beside him.

The robot said, “Once we reach this abandoned Underground Rapid Transit System I’m leading us to we’ll solve our transportation problems. Its very name implies speed and—”

“I didn’t like the furniture in the Swill setup,” said Tad. “That’s another reason I wasn’t too cheered by having to sleep there.”

“Granted,” said Electro, “few people have spent a night in a bed shaped like an intimate part of the female anatomy but—”

“Female?” said Jana. “Oh, then you fellows must have had different furniture in your room.”

“What was . . . no, never mind. I don’t want to hear about it.” Tad scowled.

“Speaking of
“ said the blonde girl, “you were going to explain how you came to arrive and rescue us when you did, Electro.”

“Since Tad heard most of my explanation last evening I hesitate—”

“Go ahead and tell her.”

“I’d very much like to hear the story,” added Jana.

“Your character has developed and broadened considerably since we first encountered you, young lady,” said the robot approvingly. “Now where was I? Ah, yes, on the deck of the showboat facing an audience singularly uninterested in marine ballads. Bob Phantom experienced no trouble in teleporting you two away from there and into the jungle. With me, however, he encountered some technical difficulties. Eventually, with a bit of advice from me, he was able to accomplish the necessary teleportation. Moderately distracted by the extra effort required as well as the attacking louts, Bob Phantom dropped me approximately a mile and a quarter south of where he sent you. As fate would have it I landed smack in the midst of a herd of shugs. Perhaps you aren’t aware that shug herders lead a rather isolated life, especially when it comes to companionship of the opposite sex. The expression ‘Horny as a shug herder’ grows out of this well-known situation. At any rate, I came thumping down in the middle of four hundred woolly shugs and six lonesome shug herders. Dressed as a lady, as I was at that moment, I produced quite an . . . . Trouble!” His head clicked back, eyes scanning the pale dawn sky above them.

Tad stared upward. “A skyvan.”

“That’s a Rhymer Industries ship,” added Jana. “I know that color scheme.”

The robot nodded. “They’re searching for us,” he announced. “My, that’s interesting. Seems they already have copies of your body emanation charts.” His head nodded three more times. “Efficient rascal, your Cousin J.”

“They’ll probably catch us, then,” said Tad. “RI has developed all kinds of detecting gear. The skyvan should be loaded with it.”

Slowly Electro rubbed his metal hands together. “Joshua’s major mistake is underestimating my abilities,” he said. “We’ll be undetectable for a few hours anyway. Enough time, let us trust, to get underground and out of range.”

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