Authors: Alex Raymond
THE WITCH QUEEN OF MONGO
THE WITCH QUEEN OF MONGO
is the fifth in the series of fabulous novels inspired by the famous comic strip
, read daily and Sunday by millions of fans throughout the world.
Victimized by a psychic teenage prankster, Flash Gordon, Dale Arden, and Dr. Zarkov find themselves instantly transported to the planet Mongo, where Flash is captured and drugged by the ravishing witch Queen Azura and her evil cohort—none other than Ming the Merciless, Jr.! But Zarkov and Dale escape to Arboria, and enlist the aid of Prince Barin, who, by use of a brilliant ruse, sets in motion a series of violent encounters and hair's breadth escapes that place Flash's life in imminent peril.
OTHER FLASH GORDON ADVENTURES
from Avon Books
The Lion Men of Mongo
The Plague of Sound
The Space Circus
The Time Trap of Ming XIII
The Witch Queen of Mongo
The War of the Cybernauts
THE WITCH QUEEN OF MONGO is an original publication of Avon Books. This work has never before appeared in book form.
A division of The Hearst Corporation
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Copyright © 1974 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
Co-published by Avon Books and King Features Syndicate, Inc.
Cover art by George Wilson
All rights reserved, which includes the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Avon Books.
First Avon Printing, December 1974
Printed in U.S.A
THE WITCH QUEEN
eat lightning flashed beyond Black Hat Mountain, silhouetting the low-lying desert-ranch laboratory of Dr. Hans Zarkov in the distance. From twenty miles away in the flat empty desert, Flash Gordon saw the outlines of the buildings and turned to Dale Arden beside him in the seat of the X-905 WM Sport Car.
“We’re almost there, Dale,” he said with a smile. “I hope this puts an end to your worries about our safety.”
Flash was a strapping young man with curly blond hair, blue eyes, and an engaging smile. He was dressed in loose-fitting sports clothes with an open collar and trim slacks.
“Go on,” Dale said ruefully. “Tell me I’m just a silly girl. But I’ve been feeling very odd about this trip.”
She was a slender, dark-haired girl in her early twenties, slightly tall for a woman, but pleasantly feminine in an outdoorsy way. Dressed in a short skirt and blouse, she was a perfect specimen of the Earth female.
“Come on,” said Flash, trying to tease his companion out of her strange mood. “We’ll be there in a few minutes. Doc Zarkov will tell us why he invited us out on such short notice, and we can all sit back and have a good laugh at your fears.”
“I hope so,” said Dale between pinched lips. She glanced again out into the darkness of the desert, which stretched away into vast emptiness all around them. In the distance to the rear of them, she could see the vague glow of Megalopolis West, which they had left over two hours before.
Flash sighed. “All right. Out with it. What do you think is bothering you?”
“I think someone is watching us, Flash,” said Dale. “I can’t help it.”
Flash waved his arm vaguely toward the vast space about them. “Now who could be doing that? You can see for miles.”
“I know,” Dale said worriedly. “But I can’t get it out of my mind.”
The X-905 WM zoomed along the flat road that cut across the desert as straight as an arrow.
“If only Doc Zarkov wasn’t such a boor about his darned old lab,” she complained, snorting. “We could fly in with one of the aircars. But no—he’s got to have all that security nonsense—radar traps, anti-magnetic nets, the works.”
“You know Doc,” Flash said gently.
“He could have turned off all the scanners until we got down safely,” she said, grumbling. “But no, he makes us crawl to him in an ordinary terrestrial car!”
“I haven’t seen Doc for six months, Dale. I’ll be glad to see him. I don’t know what’s gotten into you.”
Dale shrugged. “I don’t either.” She looked about her again suspiciously. “There’s something out there, Flash.”
It was extremely dark in the desert where Flash was driving between Megalopolis West and Zarkov’s famous ZZZ Rancho in the middle of the Mojave Desert, USA, Earth. It was eleven-thirty at night. He had gotten the vidphone call from Zarkov at about nine and had then picked up Dale at the World Council Building, where they both now worked, and had driven across the valley and into the mountains in his X-905 Sport Car, the newest World Motors model for terrestrial driving.
“Did he give you any hint about what he wants to show us?” Dale asked.
Dale sat there rigidly, with her hands clasped in her lap. “I hope it’s not one of those bothersome practical jokes of his.”
Flash did not have time to respond. The transformation occurred so suddenly that he did not even see the change in the landscape or in the lighting. That is, there was no end to the night and the desert and no beginning to the brightly lighted, strange, indescribable terrain through which they were driving.
“Flash!” Dale gasped, her eyes wide.
Flash turned to her with a frown. “What happened?”
“I—I don’t know!”
Instinctively Flash slowed down the X-905 and stared out at the strange terrain. It did not resemble earth at all, or wilderness, or even a moonscape of mineral formations. It was indeed a most strange and unbelievable sight. It seemed to Flash, in his dazed mind, that they were driving through a giant mound of ice cream topped with chocolate sauce and a bright red maraschino cherry.
The car rolled to a stop.
Flash flipped the OFF switch.
He stared out the side of the car.
“I’d swear I was having an hallucination,” he said half to himself.
“Me, too,” said Dale. “It—it looks like—an—”
They both said it together: “An ice-cream sundae!”
Dale sat up straight. “It’s one of Zarkov’s little tricks, you can bet on that. Mass hypnotism, perhaps.”
Flash nodded. “I think you may be right.”
He glanced out once again, and the scene had not appreciably changed. The ice-cream terrain rose from the pavement upon which the car rested, sloping up into a rounded mound on each side of them. A huge layer of what seemed to be chocolate sauce extended to the top of the hills on both left and right.
Flash opened the car door. “I’m going to find out what this is all about,” he snapped.
Dale said nothing. She was staring out her window at the bizarre landscape.
There was a brightness in the air, but when Flash looked up there was no sun. The atmosphere seemed to be indirectly lighted all around, as if they were in some special world that needed no sun or moon.
“What’s this?” Flash muttered and looked down at his feet. He had stepped out of the car onto the pavement, which he had supposed to be the same macadam upon which they had been driving. But it had changed. Indeed it resembled a kind of licorice.
He bent down and touched it with his fingers. The material was slick and slightly pliant, and when he took away his fingers and held them to his nose he knew he had been right—he could smell the unmistakable odor of licorice.
He touched his tongue to his finger. “It’s licorice, Dale!”
“What are you saying?”
“The pavement—it’s licorice!”
“Licorice?” she repeated, suddenly realizing that she had not been imagining what he said.
She opened the door unbelievingly and stepped out, frowning in bewilderment. She, too, bent down to touch the licorice pavement.
“It’s mad!” she whispered.
Flash had turned to study the strange landscape formation stretching away from the licorice pavement. He walked over to it and touched it.
Then he turned around and stared at Dale. “You won’t believe me, but it’s vanilla ice cream, Dale.”
Dale’s face turned white. “I knew you were going to say that.”
Now Flash’s eyes discerned a break in the creamy surface of the terrain and he began walking along the pavement toward it.
Dale caught up with him. “What’s that shape?”
“I’m going to find out,” said Flash.
As they approached the formation, they could see that it resembled a kind of milky crystal. The shape of the material hinted at mineral formation, but as they got closer to it they saw that it was not rock at all, but something approximating rock.
They stood by the waist-high crag for a long moment before Flash had the nerve to put out his hand to touch it.
“Dale,” he whispered, “you know what this is?”
She shook her head, almost fearfully.
“Have you ever eaten rock candy?”
Dale blinked. “Yes. When I was a kid we used to have it once in a while. It’s just boiled sugar, isn’t it? Boiled sugar dried out on strings until it crystallizes?”
“That’s right,” said Flash. He touched the rocklike excrescence and then put his finger to his lips once again. “Rock candy, Dale.”
She moved past him and touched the rocklike formation too, tasting it.
They both stared at one another.
Then Flash said, “That’s it! That’s it!”
“We’re in it now. The Big Rock Candy Mountain!”
Dale stared at him as if he were bereft of his senses. “The Big Rock Candy Mountain? Are you crazy?”
“Maybe I am,” said Flash, half-laughing. “But that’s where we are. There was an old song: ‘The Big Rock Candy Mountain.’ It’s what every child imagines when he’s a kid. Going to a place where there are lollypops for trees, where there are streams of soda, lakes of chocolate sauce, and ice-cream houses.”
“But it’s only in someone’s imagination, Flash,” Dale said in a whisper.
Flash nodded. He turned and looked up along the curved slope of the ice-cream hill.
“But how did we get here?” he asked.
“And how do we get out?” Dale asked, shuddering to herself. “Why, it’s like being inside someone’s diseased mind!”