“Well, there’s something you don’t see every day,” Agent Seven remarked, as our Studebaker ground to a halt in the outskirts of Reno, Nevada. Ahead of us, sirens blared, and the sounds of crumbling masonry and twisting metal echoed through the dust storm. We’d been headed to Lake Tahoe on a routine investigation when we’d gotten the emergency recall signal. Radio interference had left us with no idea what kind of mess we were driving into.
“What is it?” I asked, hopping out, the swirling grit still obscuring my view.
As the billowing yellow clouds parted, Ruth pointed to the source of the disaster:
“A fifty-foot-tall naked woman wrecking a small U.S. city. That’s what!”
I stood stunned for a moment as a giant pin-up girl—bare as the day she was born—strode through Reno’s two and three-story suburbs, knocking structures over like they were made of a child’s building blocks. She had dark shoulder-length hair, spectacular curves, and legs that went all the way up—almost literally.
“Not what I expected,” I finally replied, trying not to ogle.
Reflexively, we drew our automatics and chambered a round, even though we hadn’t had much luck with small arms against giant creatures lately.
“Do me a favor, Ray…” Seven said as we watched the destruction.
“Let’s get through this assignment without a ton of body-based jokes.”
“I’ll do my bust… er… best, Ruth.”
“Ruthless” Ruth Donlevy, otherwise known as Agent Seven of the United States Science Bureau, smiled. “Okay, maybe just that one.”
Ahead of us, the amok model continued stomping the “Biggest Little City in the World,” growling and moaning unintelligibly as citizens fled screaming before her. She’d reached some larger buildings now, and neon casino signs burst into showers of sparks at her touch, filling the air with the reek of ozone and acrid electrical chemicals.
“The bureau is gonna have a heck of a time explaining this one away,” Seven observed.
“Right now, we have a bigger problem to solve. Any suggestions?”
“Call in an airstrike?”
The berserk beauty toppled the marquee of the Primadonna Casino; the five leggy showgirl sculptures on the sign barely came up past the towering brunette’s knees.
“Bombing seems a pretty drastic solution,” I replied. “She’s still a human being. At least, I assume she is—unless she’s some kind of a robot or something.”
“Never seen an android that big. Or that… lifelike.”
I hadn’t either. If they could make robots this good, Reno and Vegas wouldn’t need real showgirls. “So, let’s not blow up something… er… someone whom the Teragons might want to study. Besides,” I mused, “there’s something here that seems… familiar.”
“Because of the giant bugs we’ve been fighting the past few years?”
“That’s not it…” I said as the oversized bombshell splashed knee-deep through a hotel swimming pool. “It’s hard to tell from here, but I feel like I’ve seen that… figure before.”
“Too many nudist magazines?” Seven laughed as she pulled a pair of pump-action shotguns out of the Studebaker’s trunk. “Dammit. These won’t do much good against something that big, either. We should have the department equip every car with a bazooka from now on.”
“I’m not against that proposal, but right now, I’m counting on you to dope out some plan with the equipment we have handy.” Ruth was the agency’s field science expert.
She climbed into the car, laying one shotgun on the seat while keeping the other in hand. “Then get us closer, Ray. I’ll come up with something along the way.”
I hopped in, and we sped into the city proper, rocketing through the dusty haze, dodging the ruins that the fifty-foot femme fatale left in her wake.
“Any chance the local office will send reinforcements?” Seven asked.
I shook my head. “They’re still understaffed.”
“What about Wild Bill? He moved out here, didn’t he?”
“Yeah, he and…”
“Ray, look out!”
I swerved, just as a gigantic foot toppled a two-story brick building next to us. The edifice exploded into rubble as huge pink-painted toes came smashing down onto the street. Normally, I might have admired the shapely leg that foot was attached to, but right then, I was too busy trying to not get killed.
As the mammoth gal’s ground-shaking gams strode past, I managed to skid the Studebaker to a halt. Falling bricks had dented the Champion’s sleek black finish, but the car’s U.S.A. steel kept me and Ruth from injury.
She shook her head and laughed. “You and wrecked cars!”
“Hey, you blew one up yourself, last time,” I shot back.
“Never mind that,” Seven replied. “Our near collision has given me an idea. I think we should try to cut this titanic tootsie off at the knees.”
“By ramming her.”
“Will that work?” I asked.
“We won’t know unless we try. But if we can knock her on her backside, she should be easier to subdue.”
“Okay, here goes!” I hit the accelerator and gave chase once more.
Swerving to avoid rubble became my main occupation as I drove, though broken fire hydrants had made the roads slick as well.
When the lumbering lady turned onto East 4th Street—which runs straight through much of the city—I knew we could build up some serious impact speed.
“Want me to drop you off?” I asked Seven.
“Not on your life!” she replied.
“Hang on, then!” I said, pressing the accelerator to the floor. The Champion’s eight cylinders roared to life, and we rocketed down the pavement toward our oversized quarry’s hindquarters.
We braced for impact.
At the last moment, the 50-foot woman swept down one gigantic hand and swatted our speeding car away.
Seven and I screamed as the Studebaker spun, twisted, toppled, and finally skidded to a stop on its roof, up against the side of a ruined Five-and-Dime.
“You okay, Ruth?” I felt pretty shaken, but nothing seemed broken.
“It’s my—Ugh!—brother whose nickname is ‘Roughhouse,’” she replied, righting herself and kicking open the crumpled passenger-side door. “…Not… Me!”
The driver’s side door was jammed, so I crawled out after her.
“Scratch one more car,” I observed.
“And our shotguns, too,” Seven added, examining the weapons that had broken during our tumble.
“Lucky that wasn’t us.”
“Not, too lucky… Look!”
As Seven spoke, the gargantuan pin-up turned, as if noticing us for the first time. The fatal femme’s brunette locks billowed like a fright wig halo around her pretty face; her blue eyes blazed green with feral anger. Clearly, trying to ram her hadn’t put us on her Christmas Card list.
“Time for that air strike?” Seven suggested.
“If the car’s radio still works,” I agreed, reaching into the upside-down heap. “Hold her off, if you can.”
Seven took careful aim with her automatic as the giant stomped closer. “If I can drop one of those powerlines on her…”
Suddenly, a battered agency Studebaker screeched to a stop between us and the impending disaster, and Agent Eight—“Wild Bill” Hayes—stumbled out.
“Reinforcements!” I cried. “Nice timing, Bill!”
“I hope you brought a bazooka,” Seven added, still aiming for the nearby wires.
“Stop!” Eight shouted. “Stop! Don’t shoot!”
“What?! Why?” Seven replied.
Bill halted in front of us, panting as though he’d run a marathon. “Because that’s my wife.”
“What?!” Ruth and I blurted.
“How did that happen?” I asked.
Eight shook his head. “I don’t know. Something shook the house, and I woke up. Donna wasn’t in bed. I looked outside and…” He gestured toward the amok giant, stomping ever closer.
Then he turned and loped between us and the rampaging titan, waving his arms and calling: “Stop! Donna, stop! It’s me, Bill! It’s BILL!”
He looked like a doll before the monster who’d once been his wife.
I figured he was done for, and Seven must have, too, because she kept her aim trained on those powerlines.
But astonishingly, the 50-foot woman stopped. “B-Bill…?” she said, her booming voice shaking the dust from nearby buildings.
“Yes! It’s me! Bill! Your husband!”
“Bi-i-i-ill…!” the giant wailed. The earth quaked as she fell to her knees.
Bill, who’d been injured during a recent mission, limped over to where she knelt; titanic Donna picked him up tenderly.
“Oh, Babe! Donna… Baby! What happened to you?!”
She didn’t answer, but her river of tears seemed unlikely to drown him. The threat was over—for now.
“Well…” Seven commented with a wry smile. “You said you thought you recognized her.”
“We met a few times,” I remarked. “Though not in similar circumstances.”
Somehow, Bill managed to talk his enormous bride into returning to their home in the hills outside of Sparks, a small city nearby.
Seven and I drove Bill’s agency car to the place, while Donna carried her husband.
Some clever calls from our Reno office kept the National Guard from rolling out to destroy the “monster” before the four of us “escaped.”
The colossal woman spent most of her time sobbing before finally dozing off next to the home’s in-ground pool, which was now barely a bathtub to her.
Ruth and Bill found some tarps to preserve what was left of Donna’s modesty, while I got on the horn to HQ to help start a cover story to explain away the mess. Janice in our communications office was gonna have to cook up a doozy of a counter-narrative, this time.
“What now?” Bill asked as we all gathered poolside, serenaded by the gentle rumbling of his gigantic wife’s snores.
I shrugged. “Got any bright ideas, Ruth?”
Agent Seven chewed her lower lip. “Nope.”
“We’ll get in touch with the Teragons—figure it out,” I offered, trying to sound more confident than I felt. “Maybe they can come up with a cure or something.”
Agent Eight moaned. “Jeeze… I hope so! I mean, I like a full figure, but…!”
“One thing’s for sure, Bill,” I said. “Your home life is in for a big change.”
About “Attack of the 50-Foot Femme Fatale”
This story is one of the first that popped into my head when I decided to turn my original U.S. Science Bureau story, “A Sci-Ant-ific Problem,” into a series.
It might even have been the original “sequel” idea—because who doesn’t like stories about titanic people running amok, whether amazing colossal men or gigantic cheerleaders? With numerous cinema precedents (one of them even tributed in my title), how could I not do a story like this?
The real question became: How do I work it into my timeline in a way that makes sense in a series that, at the start, seems to be entirely about giant bugs?
Getting this tale into continuity proved tricky, and our 50-foot woman kept getting pushed back. Her story started in the first handful of tales, then moved to somewhere in the initial ten, and then finally settled into where it is now, the fifteenth episode of Atomic Tales: Strange Invaders.
This is one of those touchstone episodes that takes AT in a (hopefully) new and unexpected direction. Until now, the weird menaces our heroes have confronted have been “out there” in the desert or the mountains—distant places—but now the problem of the giant mutations has literally come home.
To get to this story, I had to introduce both Agent Eight, “Wild Bill” Hayes, and his wife Donna and keep them “in play” if not in the foreground of the series. Hopefully, y’all remembered who our unlucky couple were when we got to this story’s Big Reveal.
When I originally conceived this episode, it was Agent Three who joined Agent One in confronting the 50-Foot Femme. But I ended up using Three in the “Prophet from the Stars,” which featured Donna prominently. Because of that, I realized that Three ought to recognize Donna even when monstrously proportioned.
To fix that issue, the always awesome Agent Seven, “Ruthless” Ruth, stepped in for another appearance. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do.
This episode was a lot of B-movie fun to write, and isn’t that what Atomic Tales should always be?
And it was totally worth the wait… At least for me.
Plus, this storyline sets up a whole bunch of future developments.