This story has absolutely no basis in fact; it is completely ficticious and (except for the obvious parodies of President Wilson and Bucky Fuller, both dead) the characters and situations are imaginary and have no relation or reference to any person living or dead.
Although there is at least one Schenectady in the real world, the Schenectady in this story is completely imaginary and does not correspond to any city, town, or other inhabited center. The name Schenectady was chosen for its mellifluousness and nothing more.
A wild party. We see the living room of Joe Jerney's house. There are people everywhere - all adults in the age group 30-40, and tonight they are wild! Twisting, shaking, singing, shouting. People on the stairs, falling off the back of the couch, a couple shameless necking in an armchair, etc. There is a big table of food - some people are pigging out; two-handed eating. Everybody is having one fine time. The music is so loud it cracks the plaster.
The narrative (the stuff from the Bible) is in Gothic or otherwise holy-looking letters in a scroll that lays on top of the picture of the party.
- MY HEART SAYS GO GO HAVE A TIME
IT'S SATURDAY NIGHT YOU KNOW I FEEL FINE
- The reading tonight will be from the book of Numbers, chapter 16, verses 23-35:
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.
And Moses rose up and went unto Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel followed him.
And he spake unto the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins.
- TITLE: JERNEY'S TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH
The following narrative continues in the style of the first page: written on a scroll that unrolls over the drawings. Please note: the spelling "gat" is correct. Text follows the King James Version.PANEL 1
- So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children.
And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind.
If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me.
Late evening. View of what would usually be a quiet street in Schenectady. Joe Jerney's house to the left, a church to the right. Jerney's house is jumping with music. Jerney's house has a jockey statue on the front lawn. The church is one of those simple simple white buildings with a steeple in front. There is a sign outside with the name of the church: SEVENTH PENTECOSTAL BAPTIST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH and below that the title of the evening sermon in movable letters: DEPART FROM THE TENTS OF THE WICKED.PANEL 2
Music is booming from Jerney's house. A woman out walking has her hands over her ears. A man walking his dog has his hands over his ears, and even the dog has his head on the ground with his paws over his ears.
- GONNA ROCK IT UP
GONNA RIP IT UP
Inside the church. The young, short-haired preacher is reading the text - or trying to read the text (the words appear in the scroll narrative). Through the windows, which are all of plain glass, you can see Jerney's house, and a little boy is fascinated by the sight. The words of the music cut in front of the preacher's face. One man, sitting next to his wife, has his head down, thinking. One quite attractive woman - "the woman who hates Joe Jerney" - is sitting alone and looks very annoyed.PANEL 3
- MAN: (thinks)
- What are we doing here on a hot summer Saturday night? I ought to have my head examined. We should have gone to that party!
- WOMAN WHO HATES JOE JERNEY: (thinks)
- I hate Joe Jerney! I hate him! God forgive me, but I hate him!
- HAVE A BALL TONIGHT
The bedroom of a house across the street. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson are in bed and were asleep until the music from Jerney's party shot in through the window. The words have slid under Mr. Wilson's back and are lifting him out of bed. His face registers shock and fear. He bears a very strong resemblance to President Woodrow Wilson.PANEL 4
- TOOTEE FROOTEE AW ROOTEE
TOOTEE FROOTEE AW ROOTEE
Mr. Wilson's wild face at the window. He looks down at the Jerney house across the street. The electrical power line that runs from the telephone pole to the house is visible. A crow flies over Jerney's house.PANEL 5
- Joe Jerney! I should have known! I'm gonna kill him this time! I swear I'm going to kill him!
Wilson digging furiously through his closet. His wife, still in bed, is frightened of what her husband might do. She clutches the bedclothes to her chin and speaks in a mousey small voice.PANEL 6
- I'm gonna kill him, that's all. I'M GONNA KILL HIM! That's all I can say.
- MRS. W:
- GOTTA GAL NAMED DAISY
JUST ABOUT DRIVE ME CRAZY
Wilson strides toward the window, a rifle in his hand. Now he is smiling, happy. His wife is absolutely terrified.PANEL 7
- GOTTA GAA-HAA-HAL NAMED DAISY
- MRS. W:
- Woody! No!
- WILSON: (thinks)
- I could just shoot the electric line - that'll do it! Just knock out the power supply.
View from outside the window. Wilson crouches, sighting along the rifle. His terrified wife runs up behind him, about to clutch him, to stop him before he murders someone.PANEL 8
- WILSON: (thinks)
- Yeah, what a great idea! Just shoot the power line. That'll stop the music.
- JUST ABOUT DRIVE ME CRAZY
Mrs. Wilson grabs him from behind, jerking the rifle up, sending the shot who knows where.
The scrolling narrative continues as on pages one and two.PANEL 1
- But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.
And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them:
And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.
Wilson's wild shot strikes a crow. Another crow sees it and its beak drops open in astonishment.PANEL 2
The dead crow drops on one of the corners of Joe Jerney's roof.PANEL 3
The Wilson bedroom.PANEL 4
- What the hell are you doing? You grab my arm like that, there's no telling where the shot will end up.
- MRS. W:
- I don't want you killing somebody!
Wilson back at the window, aiming once again. Mrs. Wilson behind him, ready to jerk the gun once again.PANEL 5
- You'll be the one to kill somebody, jerking my arm like that!
Another crow is shot. Two others are flying nearby.PANEL 6
- VOICE OFF:
- Rosie! I told you not to jerk my arm!
The dead crow falls on another corner of the roof.PANEL 7
A split panel, showing two more crows getting hit.PANEL 8
The Wilson bedroom. Mrs. Wilson is nearly hysterical with fear. Mr. Wilson's hair is standing on end.
- MRS. W:
- Woody, Woody, please, please! Please put that gun away!
- I'm not gonna hurt anybody, for gosh sakes! I'm just gonna shoot the power line. It's a perfectly safe, sane, rational thing to do!
Jerney's house, seen from directly above. There is a dead bloody crow on each of the four corners of the roof. Music is still pounding out. The narrative is just normal lettering, not the Bible stuff. We don't see who it is that's thinking.PANEL 2
- A cosmic view...
- GOOD GOLLY MISS MOLLY
- Well, look at that! Someone remembered my birthday!
The Great Horned Buddha hovers in the air and gazes down on the Jerney house. He has a beatific smile and great legs. He looks like your ordinary or garden buddha except that he is slim, smiling, and has horns all over him. The horns are placed with great symmetry.PANEL 3
He has four great horns on his head: on his forehead, the back of his head, and on the sides above each ear (remember the symmetry). There are tiny horns on each cheek bone beneath each eye. There is a tiny one in the center of his chin and at the center of the flat part of his tongue.
There are a pair of horns the same size as the ones on his head coming from the center of his chest and the center of his back. There are medium-sized horns coming out of the side of each upper arm. There are smaller horns on the backs of the forearms and tiny ones on the backs of the hands.
There are medium-sized horns at the center of the thighs on the front, side and back, making six horns in all for the thighs.
There are smaller horns at the center of the calves at front, side and back, making six horns for the calves.
There are tiny horns on the top of each foot and at the back of each heel.
All the horns are curved, and all point up. And don't put a circle around the base of the horn; just make the horn.
Remember that Buddhas are androgynous and have no hair.
His unvarying pose is as follows: He floats in the air in a standing posture; the toes of his left foot point down like a ballerina's foot. The right leg is bent forward at the knee to bring the right foot even with the middle of the left calf. The toes of the right foot also point directly down. His body is very straight, graceful and relaxed. The left hand is cupped in front of the abdomen just below the navel with the palm up, as if he were holding a ball of water in that hand. The right arm is bent to bring the right hand even with the right shoulder. The right palm faces forward; index, ring and little finger point directly up; the thumb touches the tip of the middle finger. His only dress is a diaphanous cloth that falls from his right shoulder down across his abdomen, covering his genital region and trailing in the air off to the left of his hip and thigh. It falls in a similar way in back.
- The Great Horned Buddha gazes with delight at the unexpected honor.
- It's been a long time since somebody remembered my birthday. Who could it have been?
The Great Horned Buddha floats down toward the Wilson's house.PANEL 4
View from inside the Wilson bedroom. Mr. Wilson is holding the rifle with the barrel pointing up and it is still smoking. He is fairly calm, but Mrs. Wilson is nearly hysterical. We do not hear what they are saying. Outside the window hovers the Great Horned Buddha.PANEL 5
- There he is, my devotee, who thought to honor me on this holy day with the sacred symbol of the four holy birds on the four corners of the roof...
Behold the votive pipe yet smoking in his hand.
The face and right hand of the Great Horned Buddha. The hand is beginning to glow.PANEL 6
- I must honor this humble man for having remembered me on this most special day.
The Great Horned Buddha hovers high in the air. A bolt of lightning is snaking down from his right hand.PANEL 7
The Wilson bedroom. Mrs. Wilson is crying. Mr. Wilson has his mouth and arms wild open, talking to her. The rifle barrel is pointed at the window. The lightning is snaking toward the rifle barrel.PANEL 8
- Nobody would get hurt!
The lightning hits the rifle barrel and Mr. Wilson is electrified. His hair stands on end and his eyes bug out, just like anyone who's been electrified.
Wilson floats in the air, face up, back arched, toward the window. The electricity is still flowing in from the window. Mrs. Wilson has her mouth open in astonishment.PANEL 2
View from outside the Wilson bedroom window. Wilson, glowing, is hanging backward out the window, looking at the Great Horned Buddha in the sky.PANEL 3
The Great Horned Buddha glows. Wilson is stupified, eyes big and staring.PANEL 4
- Woodrow H. Wilson, today you alone of all mankind saw fit to honor me on this my sacred day.
- For this I grant you a boon. Name for me your any wish, and I will grant it unto thee.
- Holy cow.
Closeup of Wilson's face.PANEL 5
- GHB: (off)
- What is it you desire?
- I wish that Joe Jerney and his whole damn house would go straight to hell, without any detours.
The Great Horned Buddha looks thoughtful.PANEL 6
- GHB: (thinks)
- I promised him a boon, and yet...
The Great Horned Buddha looks over his shoulder at the church.PANEL 7
- I must hear the voice of another in this community of souls.
- WHEN YOU'RE ROCKIN' AND A-ROE-LAN
Inside the church. The preacher reads the last words of the biblical text; his words are in the holy lettering style. The Great Horned Buddha's face penetrates the wall; he is looking at the preacher. The music cuts into the scene.PANEL 8
- CAN YOU HEAR YOUR MAMA CALL
- They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.
And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also.
And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.
- It seems to be the general wish of the community.
The Great Horned Buddha in the air above Wilson.
- To take them right to Hell is asking a lot, but I'll do what I can.
Cross section of the earth's crust.PANEL 2
Undifferentiated geologic crud with rocks and strata here and there. Joe Jerney's house is at the top of the picture. The basement projects into the earth. A crack is running from the very bottom of the picture toward Joe's house.
- It's not hard to crack the earth's crust when you start from 60 miles down.
Inside Joe's living room: the party. Everyone having a good time.PANEL 3
Cross section as in panel 1. The crack has nearly reached Joe's basement floor.PANEL 4
Aerial view. Joe Jerney's house, with the four crows on the corners of the roof and an easily visible crack in the ground running from north to south. Light and music emanate from the house.PANEL 5
- OH MAYBELLINE WHY CAINT YOU BE TRUE
Same view, but the crack is now almighty wide. The house is suspended in the void. It is the moment before it is about to fall. The lights and music have stopped, because the power line broke when the earth opened. The little jockey statue is not over the crack; it's safe.PANEL 6
- Hey, what gives here?
Inside Joe's house. The people at the party are plastered against the ceiling by the change in gravitation forces occasioned by the fall. However, they are smiling and happy and exhilarated because they are drunk and think that somehow this is a part of the party.PANEL 7
- Joe and his friends are plastered to the ceiling.
- Aiiii! Whee! Holy Moly!
The house falling in the void.PANEL 8
- Hooo! Eeeeeee!
The house will be impaled on a very slim pointed rock - the rock is pointed like a pencil.PANEL 9
All we see is the sound effect.
The scene is Joe's living room, but a fairly close view of only a part of the room - the center of the room (where the rock has penetrated) is not visible. Room is lit by an eerie half-light. The party guests are lying here and there: on the stairs, on the railing of the stairs, across chairs, tables, all over the floor. All have been knocked unconscious by the fall, except one man who lies on the floor, his head the only part of his body that is still erect. His eyes are cockeyed.PANEL 2
- One lone testimony.
- That Joe Jerney sure knows how to throw a party!
The man's head crashes to the floor.PANEL 3
We see the house at the bottom of a chasm. The chasm is closing over the house.PANEL 4
- The chasm closes.
The chasm has shut over the house.PANEL 5
The street: view from Wilsons' window. The crack is just closing. There is no sign of the house at all; only the little jockey statue remains.PANEL 6
Same view. There is no sign of the crack. Where Joe's house once stood there is no only a smooth vacant lot and the jockey statue.PANEL 7
- Sweet peace for Joe Jerney's neighbors.
A small bathroom in Joe's house. Buckminster Flynn, a short, thin, bald man with round, wire-rim glasses, is sitting on the floor facing the sink. His back is against one wall, his feet against the other. His shirt pocket is full of pens. There is a window in the wall at the back of the picture. Bucky is looking at the window with the help of his penlight.PANEL 8
- Meanwhile, in a bathroom deep within the earth...
Bucky at the window. The window is open a crack, enough to let him stick his finger out, which is what he's doing. Outside the window there is only dirt.PANEL 9
- Dirt! Packed dirt!
View from outside the bathroom. Bucky is exiting the little room; has one hand on the doorknob, the other holds the penlight. He is near the top of the stairs. Bodies lie here and there.
- Strange... no power, no lights, no sounds from outside.
Bucky on the stairs, shining his light on a window in the wall next to him.PANEL 2
- More packed dirt! This is really quite singular!
Bucky at the foot of the stairs, stepping over an unconscious woman.PANEL 3
- I can't help but wonder whether the house has fallen into the depths of the earth!
Bucky approaches the doorway to the living room. An eerie half-light comes from the doorway.PANEL 4
- That strange light... Dear Lord! Could it be?
Closeup of Bucky's face, illuminated.PANEL 5
- IT IS!
View of the living room. It is one big mess. Bodies everywhere (no one is dead, by the way), food, drink, smashed furniture, etc. Joe Jerney is the only person on his feet, and he is struggling with one of the windows.PANEL 6
At the center of the room is the pencil-shaped rock. We see, bursting through the floor, the point of the thing, the conical, pointed tip. It does not reach the ceiling. It is studded with crystals and faintly but definitely glowing.
Closeup of Bucky's concerned face.PANEL 7
- Hey! Don't!
Jerney struggling to raise the window.PANEL 8
- BUCKY'S VOICE:
- Don't open that window! Hey!
The window zips open.
- SWIFF WOK
Dirt pours in through the open window.PANEL 2
The dirt stops. There is a good pile of it on the floor.PANEL 3
- JOE'S VOICE:
- Hey! It stopped!
- BUCKY'S VOICE:
- You were lucky, Jerney!
The two men stand by the open window, the pile of dirt between them. Bucky is angry, but Jerney doesn't seem at all interested in what Bucky has to say.PANEL 4
- That was a damn fool thing! You could have started an avalance and broke down the entire wall!
- It's my house, Bucky. I'll do what I like.
Bucky sticks his head out the window.PANEL 5
- You don't seem to realize the danger we're in.
Bucky's head. He is looking at the rocks outside.PANEL 6
- (thinks) Hmm. Porous! That means we have a chance!
- JOE'S VOICE:
- That crackpot Wilson hired a bulldozer and tried to bury us. It's plain as day. I'll sue the pants off him.
Bucky closing the window as he turns to face Joe.PANEL 7
- I'm afraid it's a bit more complicated than that.
Joe is lounging agaist the conical rock. He gestures to all the bodies lying around them.PANEL 8
- And I wouldn't lean against that thing if I were you.
- Well you're not me. How about that? Who do you think you are, coming into my house and telling me what to do?
This is the absolute BEST party I have ever thrown. Just look around. My house is completely ruined, a crazy neighbor tried to bury us alive, not a soul left standing except YOU...
Bucky points at the rock.
- Will you listen to me for a minute? We ARE buried alive. In fact, I'd say we're about sixty miles BENEATH THE SURFACE OF THE EARTH!
Where do you think THAT came from?
- Wilson slammed us into it with his mad bulldozer.
But I like it. I'm gonna keep it. I've never seen a rock like this before.
Joe is pressing his spine against the stone and lolling his head against it.PANEL 2
- It really gives you a weird feeling when you lean against it. It must give off some kind of energy. Do you know what kind of rock it is?
- I believe it's a LOBESTONE.
- A lodestone?
An office. A dark, well-groomed, bearded man in shirtsleeves sits at desk with his pen in hand. He was writing, but now looks up in astonishment as two grimy mine workers enter. They are carrying a stone about the size of a small TV - the same kind of stone that has appeared in Joe's living room.PANEL 3
- "No, Lobestone. It's named after the famous minerologist Vladimir Lobechevsky.
"He was in Sicily in the 1700s, supervising the exploration of an old Roman sulfur mine when the stone was discovered.
A mine. Workers gaze in awe as the same stone seen in the previous panel hovers in the air over a fissure in the mine floor. They all have picks or shovels and hardhats with lamps.PANEL 4
- "It was carried into the mine from sixty miles down by a Verne current." *
NOTE: * VERNE CURRENT: A jet of warm air that carries heavy objects toward the earth's surface.
Dr. Lobechevsky at his desk, gazes openmouthed as the stone dissolves into the air, emitting a bright white light.PANEL 5
- "Lobechevsky determined that rocks of this kind can only exist at such depths...
"In fact, his sample disintegrated without a trace after three days in the upper world."
Bucky and Joe.PANEL 6
- To the best of my knowledge, this is only the second time in human history that anyone has seen a Lobestone.
And like I said, I wouldn't lean against that thing if I were you. It gives off some kind of radiation.
- Oh, yeah? What's it do?
- According to records from Lobechevsky's era, he and the workers exposed to the rock turned into some kind of "monsters."
The local people killed the mine workers, but Lobechevsky escaped.
It's impossible to say what really happened, because the only witnesses were ignorant, superstitious countryfolk.
- Well, it looks like we'll get to see for ourselves.
The two look at each other in silence.PANEL 9
- Well, anyway, we've got to get organized. Set up a rationing program for food and water and start planning a way out.
- Forget about rationing! Come on to the basement, I'll show you something.
The Wilson bedroom. Mr. Wilson is still glowing and still hanging backwards out the window. Mrs. Wilson is on the phone. Wilson still has his gun in hand, and miraculously it is still smoking (it continues to smoke for the rest of the issue, and it never leaves his hand).PANEL 2
- Meanwhile, back on the surface...
- MRS. W.:
- Yes, could you please send an ambulance right away? My husband's been struck by lightning. Yes, tonight.
What? No, I don't care what you think; I saw it with my own eyes. Please come right away - he's glowing. What? Glowing. PLEASE COME RIGHT AWAY!
- Mutter mutter mutter...
Inside the church. Everybody is looking out the window in astonishment to where Joe's house used to be, but no one is more astonished than the preacher.PANEL 3
- GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY!
- What the-
Did you see that?
It's gone! It's just gone!
Outside the church. Everyone is running out the door, heading for the spot where the house used to be.PANEL 4
- It's incredible!
It's a miracle!
Did you see it? I mean, did you actually SEE it happen? What a sound!
Did you hear the screams? I did!
The church people have all arrived on the Jerney lot. They are standing around, gawking. The preacher looks utterly lost: he has one hand in his mouth and the other weakly gropes; his face shows confusion. He is coming apart.PANEL 5
Some of the church people are holding hands in a slight curve that would be a circle if the others all joined in (which they don't). One of the hand-holders, an old lady, is holding the left hand of the little jockey statue, which is all that is left of the Jerney property. She is the one who says the line about Amazing Grace.
- It's the Lord's doing!
Praise the Lord!
It's a miracle!
Why don't you say a few words, reverend?
The wicked have gone down to the pit.
- OLD WOMAN:
- I think we all ought to hold hands and sing "Amazing Grace."
Little boy looks through the incomplete ring of hand-holders and sees Mr. Wilson hanging from the window.PANEL 6
- LITTLE BOY:
- Hey, look at Mr. Wilson! He's glowing! He's glowing!
- Hush, Johnny!
View from Wilson's window - him hanging out backward, all the church people looking at him (except the old woman, who is still holding the jockey's hand).PANEL 7
- Hey, look! He IS glowing!
Wilson! Wilson! Are you alright?
What's going on up there?
Maybe that's a miracle, too!
- They want me to say something.
Wilson and the Great Horned Buddha (who hovers in the air).PANEL 8
- Do what thou wilt.
- I want to tell them who you are. What do you call yourself?
- I am the Great Horned Buddha.
Wilson, still hanging out backward, speaks.PANEL 9
- Listen to me: I want to tell you who's responsible for this!
- Tell it!
Listen to him!
It's the Lord!
- No, it's not the Lord! It was the Great Horned Buddha!
- Who? What?
What did he say?
What the hell is he talking about?
Did you hear him, reverend?
- WOMAN WHO HATES JOE JERNEY:
- Well anyway, somebody better call the gas, electric, water and telephone companies and shut off the utilities.
We could all get electrocuted or asphyxiated standing here!
Not that Joe Jerney would care!
Joe and Bucky in Joe's basement, looking at the shaft of the lobestone. It is enormous, and bursts through the concrete basement floor and goes on up through the wooden ceiling (which is the living room floor). This part of the stone is like a cylinder, and is likewise studded with crystals. Joe has his hand on it.PANEL 3
- Holy cow! Will you just look at that? I am going to sue that Woodenhead Wilson for every penny he's got!
But wow! Put you hand on the thing. It really gives you a tingle!
- I'm telling you not to touch it! I can feel it here, anyway, without touching it.
Bucky's face.PANEL 4
- Listen to me, Joe. You don't seem to comprehend the gravity of our situation. We are buried alive, 60 miles under the surface of the earth. Do you understand what I'm saying?
Joe has walked away from the stone and is opening a door. He could not care less about what Bucky is saying.PANEL 5
- Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get the picture. But you don't have to be a wet blanket. Jeez! You'd think the world was coming to end, to listen to you tell it.
And anyway, get a look at this.
They are inside a stockroom in which there seems to be an infinity of bottles, cans, and bags of food.PANEL 6
- Holy jumping jehosaphat!
- You said it, boy. I think we can hole up here for a year...
or a month or a day. It depends on how hard we party. You get me?
Joe's living room.PANEL 7
- People have started waking up.
- Whoo, what a headache! Am I still here?
- SECOND MAN:
- What time is it anyway? What time did the lights go out? Is it tomorrow already, or is it still today?
- THIRD MAN:
- Shut up, will ya?
- Oh, no! I got guacamole on my skirt! It'll never wash out!
A scene of general confusion. Everyone has a fuzzy, lost look.
- I have to get home - or I have to go work. But anyway, I think I better go. Can somebody give me a ride?
The living room. People getting up, holding their heads, confused. Joe enters with an unlit cigar in his mouth. On his head is the sort of hat that salesmen wear on their day off (not a golf cap). He keeps these two items for the rest of the issue.PANEL 2
Joe is followed by Bucky. The two are carrying bottles of wine and beer and bags of potato chips and other munchies. Joe is smiling and jovial. Bucky does not look very pleased.
- Courage, troops! Reinforcements have arrived!
Hey, what day is it?
What time is it?
Joe opens a bottle.PANEL 3
- Come on, everybody, loosen up! It's a holiday, it's an anniversary, it's an earthquake, a fire, or a national emergency!
There must be some reason for a party!
- Good old Joe!
Bucky, standing at the door, clears his throat. Joe looks back at Bucky, slightly startled.PANEL 4
- Harrumph! Hem Hem!
- Huh? Oh, yeah, yeah.
Joe, eyes half-closed, smiling, drink in one hand, cigar in the other.PANEL 5
- Say, listen, everybody. Could I have your attention please?
You know we've got a guest here tonight, a man who needs no introduction - I guess you all know who he is... Our own nutty professor, Buckminster Flynn!
Could we have a round of applause for Bucky?
Bucky, smiles weakly and waves.PANEL 6
- Come on, Bucky, give us a big smile!
- BUCKY: (thinks)
- How I hate this guy!
- CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP
Joe again, cigar in mouth. Hands up, palms facing his audience to disclaim the statement about 600 miles.PANEL 7
- Now we all know that he's kind of a crackpot...
- HA HA HA HA
- But he says he's got reason to believe that we've dropped underground. Six hundred miles past the center of the earth, if you can believe that!
- HA HA HA HA
- That's sixty miles, Joe, sixty!
Bucky stepping up to speak. One hand raised to his glasses; he is timid and uncertain.PANEL 8
- So try to give him your attention. I asked him not to talk too long. Professor, if you please.
- Well, hmm! Harrumph! Let's see - as to the figure of sixty miles, I would say, ah, the presence of anomalous rock formations, packed dirt - ah - the house's rate of fall and force of impact lead me to conclude -
- Could you speak a little louder?
What is he saying?
Can you follow this?
I can't understand a word he's saying.
Woman speaks to her husband. She has a very worried expression.
- Harvey, my face feels funny!
- Well it should - it looks funny! Haw haw haw!
As Bucky speaks, everyone begins feeling their face.PANEL 2
- Soon everybody's face feels funny.
- However, porous rock was observed outside one of the windows, and this in itself is a highly positive indication -
- Yeah, my face feels weird, too.
Oooh, what's happening?
Closeup of Bucky's face. It is becoming transparent, though he doesn't seem to notice.PANEL 3,4
- Look at your face!
Look at Bucky's face!
WHAT'S GOING ON HERE!
- ... and perhaps the staged excavation of the area above the house by creating a negative space in the anterior portion of the structure...
Bucky's face changes into a skull with ears and glasses.PANEL 5
- Blah blah blah blablah
Woman with skull face and long straight hair is sitting on the floor screaming. Everyone has a skull face now, but they still have their ears and hair and their bodies are otherwise normal.PANEL 6
- EEEEEEK! Look at Bucky - there's no skin on his face! He looks like a monster!
- So do you!
Two people with skull faces look at each other in terror.PANEL 7
- Help! Skeletons! Help!
- Monsters! Freaks! EEEEEE!
Pandemonium. People run all over the living room, falling over each other, tugging at the door (which opens out anyway), climbing up and falling down the stairs. Bucky is still talking. Joe has climbed onto the lobestone, holding the point in one hand and gesturing with the cigar in his other hand.
- Hey, listen, everybody! Will ya just calm down? Cut out the screaming and chasing - there's plenty of booze to go around.
If you don't quit, that crazy Wilson will be over here in his pajamas...
Hey, Bucky, could you pipe down a minute?
All right! I'm gonna count three and if you don't quiet down I'll ask Bucky to do his James Cagney imitation.
- ... a ten-hour walk - considering of course ideal conditions; quite the opposite of what we can expect...
View from Jerney's property. The church people are still loosely grouped there. All are looking at Wilson or gesturing at Wilson as they talk to each other EXCEPT for the old lady, who is holding the hand of the jockey statue. Wilson is still hanging backward out the window.PANEL 2
- Back on the surface, the crowd finds Wilson unconvincing...
- The Great Horned Buddha, I tell you!
- He's talking of the devil, isn't he, reverend? Rebuke him, rebuke Satan!
- OLD LADY:
- Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me
- ... if not downright crazy.
- WOMAN WHO HATES JOE JERNEY:
- He's nuts, that's all it is. He's just nuts.
Now we've got to call the gas and electric company, the telephone company, the water company, and then we have to call the funny farm to take care of Wilson! He's really jumped the rail this time!
Closeup of Wilson. He gestures with the still-smoking gun.PANEL 4
- He's here in the air above you! Can't you see him?
What is he talking about?
He's just nuts, I'm telling you!
Wilson and the Great Horned BuddhaPANEL 5
- They can't see me.
- Why not?
- Religious revelations always work this way.
The Great Horned Buddha's right hand begins to glow.PANEL 6
- But how can they believe? How can I tell them who you are and what you look like?
- I will leave you a sign.
Lightning snakes from GHB's hand and strikes the jockey statue. The statue glows, and so does the old lady. Her eyes, mouth, arms, legs snap open.
PANEL 7, 8, 9The statue gradually turns into an image of the Great Horned Buddha.
PAGE SIXTEENThe transformation of the statue is complete. It no longer glows; neither does the old lady, who is on her knees with her head down - we cannot see her face. She is letting go of the statue's hand. The church people are all astonished.PANEL 2
Wilson and the Great Horned Buddha.PANEL 3
- A statue! It's perfect! It looks just like you!
- Of course. It's a divine emanation.
- I better go down and move it before somebody runs off with it.
- The Great Horned Buddha is amused.
- No one can move it; it's solid brass. Besides being miraculous, it's impossibly heavy.
- Wow! You sure know how to do things right!
- What can I do to thank you for all that you've done?
- Teach others to honor me this day as you have done. Build me a temple where my people may come to burn incense, sing songs, dance holy dances. I will help you, so long as you follow me.
- You bet I will!
The Great Horned Buddha sails off into the sky.PANEL 6
- This is the best birthday I've ever had!
Well, at least for the last 400 years!
Back among the church people. The old woman's head is still down. Everyone is concerned.PANEL 7
- But what about the old lady?
- Mamie, are you all right?
She looks up. Her expression is slightly uncertain, but the shocking thing is that she is now young, very young, about 22 years old, and disturbingly attractive.PANEL 8
- Yes, I guess I'm okay...
Mamie stands up. She is still wearing the old lady clothes, but her body is nothing like it used to be. Now she is a knockout, and no one is more struck than the preacher, who stands with legs and arms spread wide, bent far forward at the waist, mouth hanging open, eyes wide.
- In fact, I feel pretty good.
- Mamie, you're BEAUTIFUL!
- ANOTHER OLD WOMAN:
- My gracious me!
NEXT ISSUE: RETURN FROM DOWN UNDER
[ 1 January 1998 ]