ATOMIC TALES – Strange Invaders #28 – “Interview with the 50-Foot Femme”

The five-story-tall nude woman strode through the streets of Reno, upending cars and toppling structures as though they were made of building blocks.  Agent One and I expected to be flattened…

That had been three months ago, but the scene flooded back to me in vivid detail as we neared the home of Agent Eight, William “Wild Bill” Hayes and his now-freakishly tall wife, Donna.  Dr. Shannon “Doc” Teragon and my erstwhile assistant Gigi Brock glanced back at me, concerned, as we hiked up the dusty driveway toward Bill’s modern split-level in the hills east of the city.

“Are you sure you don’t want your wheelchair, Agent Seven?” Gigi asked.

“My ankle’s fine.  It’s been months since I busted it.”

“You’re limping,” Shannon Teragon noted.

I glared at the two of them.  “I agreed to let Gigi tag along and help, if needed, but I’m not going to have you two mother-henning me.  Besides, it’s not like we’re doing dangerous field work.”

Gigi swallowed hard.  “Just interviewing a giant.”

“Who happens to be married to a fellow agent.  So, cool your jets, both of you.”

Shannon raised an eyebrow.  “Oooh… ‘Ruthless’ Ruth Donlevy… back in charge.”

I blushed.  Shannon and her father outranked me and everybody else in the US Science Bureau.  “Sorry, Doc.”

She bobbed her head, not in a superior way, just acknowledging who was really running this three-ring circus.

Just then, Bill appeared in the home’s door.  He waved and loped out to meet us.

“Ruth… Gigi… Shannon… Great to see all of you.  To see anyone, really.”  We all shook hands; his grip was firm if a little sweaty.  “Your ankle okay, Ruth?”

“Fine.  How’s your leg?”  He’d been wounded by a giant rattlesnake about a month before I broke my ankle.

“It’s good,” he replied.  “I hardly feel it anymore.  Sorry to have you walk up the driveway.”  At Bill’s request, we’d left our agency Studebaker downhill and out of sight.  “But Donna’s pretty touchy nowadays.  Naturally, we haven’t seen many people since her… since whatever did this.  It’s taken me this long just to get her to talk to you.”

“Is she in that tent?”  Gigi pointed to a big-top-like structure behind the house.

“No.  She just sleeps there.  She’s lounging by the pool.”  Bill rubbed his arms.  “Good thing we’ve had a run of nice weather, though Donna doesn’t seem to feel the cold as much as she used to.”

With the afternoon in the high fifties, I wouldn’t have called the November air “cold,” but it wasn’t exactly swimwear weather, either.  We angled to cut around the house to Bill’s backyard.

“With so much mass compared to her surface area, she’d maintain a stable body temperature more easily than a regular-sized human,” Shannon mused.

“I guess,” Bill said. “But she’d eat us out of house and home if the bureau wasn’t picking up the tab.  I got her hairbrush from a zoo supply outfit, but it’s still like a toy to her.  And her clothes…!  Well, you’ll see.  She’s tried to fix something up, but that tent is really the only thing big enough to cover her.  Half the time, she just sits around in the all together.  I’m glad it’s only you ladies coming to visit.”

Gigi blushed, but Doc Teragon looked intensely curious.

“What other strange things have you noticed, aside from her size?” she asked.

We paused at the corner of the house and Bill let out a long sigh.  “What isn’t strange, Doc?  You have any idea how hard it is to maintain a normal, married life when your wife’s eight times your size?”

Now it was Shannon’s turn to redden.  “I can… imagine.”

“It’s the loneliness that’s hardest,” Bill admitted.

I nodded sympathetically.

Since there weren’t many homes on this tract, the USSB had bought out the nearby houses, to keep Donna secret.  It also allowed our people to maintain a furtive eye on her from the empty properties.

“And radio and TV don’t work up here,” Bill continued, “some kind of interference from the mountains, I guess.  We haven’t seen anybody but a few agency types since all this happened.  Though a reporter did come snooping around about a week back.”

“Reporter?”  My nerves jangled.  “Who?”

Bill thought a moment.  “Tori something…  I ran her off pretty quick.  Stuck to the story that Donna’s big tent is just a supply depot for my company, helping to rebuild the city.  Not sure she bought it, though.  Pretty nosy…  A real good looker, too.”

Shannon and I glanced at each other and blurted: “Tanya Ruhoff!”

“The Russian spy?” Gigi put in.

Bill’s eyes narrowed.  “Are you rattling my cage?”

We quickly filled him in about the bureau’s recent encounters with the elusive Soviet agent.  I don’t think any of us blamed Bill for falling behind in USSB briefings.

“Bill, who are you talking to?” a pleasant voice boomed.  Donna’s huge head poked up and gazed over the rooftop.

Gigi gasped.

Bill grinned.  “Hey… There’s my girl!  Honey, you remember that our friends from work were coming over today, right?  You agreed to let them interview you.”

Donna stood; their home’s roof didn’t even come up to her hips.  Her dark brown hair tumbled over her shoulders, and she wore a kind of rough-hewn canvas bikini.  Her piercing blue eyes started at us suspiciously.

“Hi, Donna!” I said, waving.

Shannon did the same.  “Thanks for seeing us, Mrs. Hayes.  I don’t think you’ve met Ruth’s assistant, Gigi.”

“Hi..!” Gigi added sheepishly.

Donna scowled at the phonograph-sized box Shannon had lugged from the car. “No testing.”

“Just questions,” Shannon promised.  “And something to help you relax.”

Donna’s eyes narrowed further.  “No needles.”

“No.  Just a spinning disk and some flashing lights.”

The giant nodded.  “Okay.”  She ducked down behind the house.

Bill clapped his hands.  “Great.  Everybody, come around back.”

We walked to the rear of the split-level, where Donna lay propped on one elbow, lounging next to the in-ground pool on a piece of circus tent that stood in as a beach towel.  The pool was only half as long as Donna but probably served okay as a bathtub.

While Shannon set up her hypnosis box gizmo, Donna brushed her wavy dark hair with what must have been a horse grooming tool.  The brush looked tiny in her enormous hands.

“Okay, we’re ready,” Shannon finally announced.  “Donna, I want you to look at this spinning disc, listen to my voice, and relax.”

The fifty-foot femme nodded and followed Doc’s instructions.

Gigi stood at my elbow, tense but interested, as Shannon went through a couple of minutes of standard hypnosis patter.

Bill edged close to us.  “Think this will work?”

I nodded.  “Don’t worry.”

Slowly, Donna’s eyelids drooped, and she settled gently onto the ground.

“Donna, can you still hear me?” Shannon asked.

“Yes,” Bill’s giant wife replied.

Shannon posed several standard questions to her subject, and then said:

“I want you to think back to early September… You had some… trouble in Reno.  Can you remember what happened that day?”

Donna’s brow knitted.  “Y-yes…”

“Where are you?  What are you doing?”

“I… I’m in the city, but… Why is everything so small?  I’m afraid!”

The titanic housewife flinched as though agitated.  Bill, Gigi, and I backed away a few steps.

“No need to be afraid, Donna,” Shannon reassured her. “That’s all in the past. You’re safe.  Everything is fine.”

Donna relaxed.

“I want you to remember the night before that… You’re in bed with your husband Bill…”

“I’m asleep…”

“Good.  I want you to tell me what happens next.  What do you remember?”

“I remember… Lights… Strange lights in the sky… And I get up, but I’m not really awake…”

“What do you do then, Donna?”

“I go outside… out back near the pool…  And then… Then I’m flying, and…”

“And what?”

“Then I’m… somewhere else…”

“Do you know where?”

“No.  But there are bright lights… and strange machinery…  And they’re doing something…  It hurts!  Please… make it stop!”

Donna twisted from side to side, and the cement patio shook.

“It doesn’t hurt now, Donna.  That’s all in the past.  What happens next?”

“I-I’m cold… And I’m in the city… And I’m frightened!  And everything’s so tiny…!”

“Don’t be afraid.  You’re asleep now… a deep sleep.  When you wake, you’ll be happy and fully rested.  Do you understand?”


“Don’t wake up until morning or until Bill says, ‘Wake up, honey.’  Understand?”

Donna nodded and then began gently snoring. Her breath kicked up tiny waves on the pool.

Shannon packed up her gizmo.

“Well, Doc?” Bill asked.  “What happened to her?”

Shannon pursed her lips.  “What do you think, Ruth?”

I frowned.  “It could be the Russians.  Or maybe some kind of dream her mind invented to explain her unprecedented growth.”

“How could the Russians do that?” Gigi scoffed.  “It’s like something out of a science fiction movie.  Hey… Maybe it was aliens!”

Shannon scowled at Gigi and then gazed sympathetically at Bill.  “Give us some time.  We’ll figure it out.  Feel free to let her sleep as long as you want.”

Bill rubbed his head, looking very weary.  “Thanks, Doc.”

She nodded.  “I need to get back to the office.  We’ll call when we know more.”

We shook hands again, and then Gigi, Shannon, and I hiked back to the car.

“Dammit!” Shannon cursed.  “I wish Bill had let us take some samples.”

I grinned.  “Like the hairs I grabbed from Donna’s brush while you were interrogating her?”  I pulled a glass bottle from my purse and held it out to my boss.

Shannon snatched the bottle from my hand.  “Ruthless!  I could kiss you!”

“Lemme see!”  Gigi crowded in. gaping.  “B-but… The bottle is empty.”

I nearly lost my footing.  “What?!”

Doc Teragon turned the bottle in every direction, but no trace of the hair sample I’d purloined remained.  “I’m afraid she’s right, Ruth.”

Now it was my turn to gawk.  “Did Bill steal it back somehow, or…?”

Shannon contemplated the late afternoon sky.  “I’ll have to consult my dad … But that missing hair sample may be our most important clue yet.”


This episode is dedicated to the memory of Ricou Browning, who passed away at age 93 in February 2023.  He was the last of the classic Universal Monsters, having played the submerged version of the Creature from the Black Lagoon.  In his long and remarkable life, he swam for the Creature, directed many underwater movie sequences—including the climactic battle in Thunderball—and co-created Flipper, the friendly dolphin in the films and TV series.  Thanks for everything, Ricou.  Swim on!

About “Interview with the 50-Foot Femme”

You didn’t think I’d leave Donna Hayes, the 50-Foot Woman, living quietly in Reno with her husband Bill for the rest of the series, did you?

Truthfully, I’ve been waiting for Donna’s return for a long time.  It’s all part of the plan; see?

Well, maybe you’re starting to glimpse the master plan I’ve had in place since deciding to make Atomic Tales a series.  And it’s possible that some of our characters are starting to see the light as well—and not just the mysterious lights Donna spoke of in this episode.

It was a blast having three of our USSB women together in this story (four, if you count Donna) and just one man.  It’s also fun having “Ruthless” Ruth—one of the series’ Big Brains—teamed up with Dr. Shannon Teragon, who along with her dad is at the top of the bureau’s intellectual pyramid.  While I, personally, might turn to Shannon for solving super science equations, it’s definitely Ruth I’d want at my side in any situation that requires both brains and toughness.

Gigi is always a joy to write—thanks in part to Gwen Ruhoff, the actress who brings her to life in the audios—even though our intrepid wanna-be agent is mostly a bystander and foil for the others in this tale.

Poor Bill!  With his wife too big to set foot inside their house, it seems like he’s been snakebit in more than one way recently.  And what is really going on with Donna?  Stay tuned to find out.

My in-laws lived in Reno for a while before the turn of the century (boy, it’s still kinda odd to write that phrase), and my mental image of where Bill and Donna live is based on visiting the “Biggest Little City in the World.”    (I’d originally put the Hayes home in Sparks, north of the city, but later decided it should be outside Reno proper, because that’s the area I knew best.)  I love the 1950s setting, and thankfully I finished all the research I had to do on the differences between now and back then when writing the previous 50-Foot Femme story.

I mentioned the influence of Bert I. Gordon’s films on my work in a tribute after the last installment, but the DNA of his movies is clearly present here, too.  After all you can’t have a titanic human rampaging through a gambling capital without remembering The Amazing Colossal Man and its sequel and imitators.

If you like, you can think of the swimming pool scene as a Ricou Browning tribute as well.  I learned to swim underwater by watching his Creature from the Black Lagoon, and I even have an autographed photo from him inviting me for a swim sometime.  (Sadly, that never happened.)

Thanks, guys!  You’ll be missed, but your work will always be remembered.

You can listen to this story produced by Christopher R. Mihm from!

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