“I can get out of the car on my own, thanks.” I tried not to sound too gruff as Gigi Brock steadied my wheelchair. She’s a nice girl, and aspires to be an agent one day, but it annoyed me that she’d been assigned as my aide because my stupid brother complained about me “gimping around” during our recent assignment in San Francisco. Did he resent me saving his bacon against that giant nautilus?
“I know you can, Agent Seven,” Gigi replied. “And I know your ankle will be healed up soon, and you won’t need crutches or a wheelchair. But until then, it’s my job to help you get around.” Her firm tone told me that I hadn’t entirely disguised my exasperation.
“If you lovely ladies are done reviewing job descriptions, I could use Agent Seven’s eyes over here,” Agent Four chided. He stared at the ruins of a small farmhouse in the hills, northeast of Blackwell, Pennsylvania. The six-hour drive up from DC hadn’t left any of us in a good mood.
I settled into my chair and let Gigi wheel me across the rocky driveway to where Four—who was leading this expedition—stood tapping his toe and finishing a cigarette.
“What do you think, Ruth?” he asked.
My brow furrowed. “Smashed. Like the two we just saw further up the valley, Alec.” The bureau had gotten an emergency call that several buildings had been mysteriously flattened recently. No witnesses, no apparent cause, no sign of survivors.
“Definitely not explosives,” Boom Boom agreed. Alec’s nickname came from his expertise at blowing things up. “So… What did this? Could it be giant ants?”
I frowned. “We haven’t had any ant reports east of the Rockies, but I guess it’s possible.”
“Maybe some kind of twister hit them,” Gigi suggested. “Like in The Wizard of OZ.”
“Three tornados on three consecutive nights… out of season… in October?” I shook my head. “Unlikely.”
“Nobody’s reported any storms,” Four observed, kneeling. “And the ground’s bone dry.” He sniffed the cool autumn air as I did the same. “Not a whiff of gas or any chemicals, either.”
I couldn’t argue with that. The aroma of fallen leaves and distant wood fires filled my nostrils. “I smell something though… Something vaguely… acid.”
Gigi wrinkled her nose. “Like rotting oranges.”
Four nodded. “Yeah. But I can’t place it. Too bad the sheriff went back to town after showing us around that first site. Maybe he spotted something he neglected to mention.”
“Him calming down the locals makes sense, though,” I noted. “Three buildings wiped out in three nights has to have stirred up fears.”
“It’s giving me goosebumps, too.” Gigi clutched her arms and shivered.
I shaded my eyes and peered further down the valley. “I see a barn ahead. There should be a farmhouse nearby. Maybe someone there saw or heard something.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Four agreed. “Let’s pack you into the Studebaker and check it out.”
My blood simmered at being treated like luggage, but complaining would just slow us down. The sun was already dipping behind the surrounding hills. If these disasters struck at night, we didn’t have long to wait. Gigi crammed me and my chair back into the car, and Four drove us down the valley toward the barn.
We’d barely gotten halfway there, when—out of nowhere—our Studebaker stalled.
Four cursed. “What the heck…?!”
“Maybe I can radio for help?” Gigi suggested, picking up the car’s handset.
Four tried the ignition repeatedly. “Nah. I’ll get this.”
She shook her head. “Radio’s not working anyway. It’s just static.”
“Look!” I shouted, pointing.
Ahead, the little barn shuddered and then burst into flinders, revealing a monstrous… glob.
The thing was translucent green—like toxic lime Jello—and at least four times the size of our auto. It jiggled and glowed faintly as it rolled, or perhaps loped on stumpy pseudopods, over a nearby ridge.
Gigi’s mouth gaped. “Oh… my… God!”
Four blinked in amazement. “What in blue blazes…?”
“It’s heading for town!” I deduced. “Alec, get this car going!”
“I’m trying…!” Fortunately, just then, the Studebaker’s engine roared to life. “Hang on, ladies! It’s gonna be a bumpy ride!”
Four pressed the pedal to the metal, and the four-door Champion shot down the valley and onto the winding road leading to the tiny village of Blackwell.
As we approached the town—basically a short strip of houses and shops on the hillside—we nearly ran into a mob fleeing in the opposite direction.
“It’s a monster! Run!” one pedestrian shouted as Four veered wildly to avoid a head-on collision with a battered Chevy pickup packed to overflowing with a dozen panicked citizens.
We’d barely reached the first building on the strip, when—with a thunderous crash—the glowing glob burst through a hillside residence. The home’s inhabitants—a man carrying a small child and a woman—fled screaming from the creature, just as the sheriff’s squad car sputtered to a stop in front of the advancing menace.
Agent Four skidded our Studebaker to a halt next to a tiny used car lot and filling station. “Gigi, take the wheel.”
As Gigi stammered, “M-me…?”
Four hopped out and flung open the Champion’s trunk. “Yes, you!”
Gigi slid into the driver’s seat.
He pressed a pistol into her hand and tossed me an M3 submachine gun. “Keep that monster busy.”
A shattering CRUNCH filled the air as the glob crushed the patrol car; the sheriff and his deputy barely scrambled out of the vehicle in time.
“W-what are you going to do?” Gigi asked as Four threw a sack of infernal equipment over his shoulder.
“He’s got a plan,” I assured her. “Now, get moving! Those men need our help.”
Gigi stomped on the accelerator, and the Champion rocketed down the narrow main street toward the conflict.
But it was already too late. The sheriff and his deputy reached for their weapons, but the glob’s rubbery pseudopods caught them. It didn’t so much crush them as absorb the men into its gelatinous mass.
Even the growl of our Studebaker’s eight cylinders couldn’t drown out their dying screams.
Gigi glanced back at me, her face pale and sweaty. “What are we…?”
“Just go, and whatever you do, stay out of its reach!”
I leaned out the window and let loose with my greaser. The rapid fire of the submachine gun sounded like popcorn popping, and I might as well have been throwing salty snacks at the thing for all the difference it made.
The slugs tore into the translucent invader, but its green, jellylike surface quickly reformed. Worse still, I’d attracted the glowing blob’s attention.
“U-turn, Gigi!” I ordered.
My young aide did the best she could on the narrow street, but she still had to execute a three-point turn to reverse direction. In the time that took, the glob closed on us.
For a moment, our Champion sputtered.
“Ruth… Do something!” Gigi pleaded. She hit the gas, and we roared off again.
I swiveled in my seat, ignoring the twinge in my ankle, and aimed behind us. “On it!”
My carefully aimed burst snapped an electrical line off at the pole, dropping the live wire directly on top of the rampaging slime.
“Got it!” Gigi cheered as sparks flew. Then her mouth dropped open. “But it’s not dying!”
Even worse, the monster glowed more brightly and increased its lumbering pace.
“Gigi… Drive faster!”
“I’m going as fast as I can!”
Not fast enough, though. The glob, now tall as a two story building, shrugged aside parked cars as it oozed after us, building speed.
“Roll up the windows! If it catches us, maybe we can hold it off.” I knew that would be futile; the thing crushed vehicles like a box of matches, but at least it might buy us some time. And where in heck was Agent Four?!
Just then, a Ford truck with a large propane tank strapped in the back streaked past, going in the opposite direction. Four hung off the driver’s side, steering through the window,
He must have rigged the accelerator somehow, because when he jumped off and rolled into a culvert, the truck still picked up speed.
The engine died as the vehicle neared the monster, but that didn’t matter, because momentum took the Ford the rest of the way.
“Boom Boom” lived up to his name as the jury-rigged bomb blew the glob into a million pieces.
The shock wave shattered our Studebaker’s rear window and nearly pushed us off the road, but Gigi managed to wrestle the car to a safe stop. We circled back to pick up Four. He lit a cigarette as he sauntered out of the ditch he’d sheltered in. The exploded blob rained down around us in a sickening green splatter.
“Grab some samples for the Teragons!” I called as we drove up.
“Samples of what?” he replied proudly. “What’s left of that sucker is disintegrating.”
He was right. Before we could even fetch a specimen jar, the tiny glowing pieces sizzled into foul-smelling ooze and then vanished.
“Just like the bugs,” Gigi mused.
That gave me a notion. “Do you think this atomic slime—or whatever it was—had something to do with the crashed UFO that Agents One and Three investigated a few towns over?”
Four took a long draw on his cig. “That’s out of my league. Ask The Teragons.”
“They’ll be frustrated we couldn’t obtain samples,” I remarked.
Gigi let out a relieved sigh. “I’m just glad we got out of this alive. It’s like we were in King Kong or something! I hope your ankle heels up quick, Agent Seven. I mean… I still want to become an agent, but after this, a few weeks of office work will seem like paradise!”
This episode of Atomic Tales is dedicated to the memory of Paul Curtis, who often modestly introduced himself as “Maggie Thompson’s brother”—but he was so much more than that. I learned of his sudden and unexpected death while writing this story. He was a kind and generous person and an expert on monster movies and serials, among many other things. I will miss you, my friend. The world was a better place with you in it. RIP.
About “Glob Amok”
This is another story I’ve wanted to tell for ages. It was not one of the first stories that sprang into my mind—like “Crash Site” and “Attack of the 50-Foot Femme Fatale”—but it arrived shortly thereafter, and then I had to wait a long while until the moment was right to fit it into the timeline.
Obviously, it is partly inspired by The Blob (1959). You’ve surely noticed by now that I’m trying to cram as many 1950s monster movie references/tributes/homages as I can into Atomic Tales.
The real trick, though, is to tie all these disparate menaces together into a cohesive story arc, as the USSB battles them.
You readers will be the ones to judge how well I’ve accomplished that in the end, but if you’ve been following the series, I hope by now that some of the connections are starting to link up for you.
And if they don’t, don’t worry. There’s still plenty of time left to figure it out. We’ve still got half the story left to go! Literally.
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