tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 125: the testing of mort-el
by horace p sternwall
illustrated by danny delacroix and eddie el greco
editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo
mortimer felt something in the shadows behind the refrigerator in the corner of the diner….
cary grant threw his arm around mortimer's shoulder.
"come on, pal, let's get out of here. i know where the real action is."
suddenly mortimer was outside, back on the endless red sands of mars , with cary grant at his side.
they were both wearing only loincloths. mortimer had a short sword in one hand and a shield in the other.
cary grant carried a long trident and a net.
a city of glass towers glittered in the distance, silver and blue.
a wind sprang up and the swirling sand made a long tunnel they were walking through.
at the end of the tunnel mortimer could see one of the green moons which was also a throne….
on the towering emerald throne sat a queen. the two queens from the diner - jennifer goldberg from sixth grade and the reporter miss flanagan - had morphed into a single empress.
her skin shifted from spider black to rose red and back again, and her hair was flaming snow.
her eyes were twin universes devouring galaxies like snowflakes…
she looked mortimer straight in the eyes.
she spoke in the voice of mortimer's favorite actress, simone simon…
"what have we here," she intoned , "but the two greatest gladiators of the galaxy,
car-el and mort-el." she paused. "which, i wonder, shall be my champion?"
for the first time mortimer noticed two figures, one on each side of the empress.
on her left, in the dress of a roman centurion, with her pudgy arms folded belligerently across her chest, stood mrs mconigle, the principal from mortimer's old school, which he had said goodbye to after the sixth grade.
on the empress's right, in a high backed upholstered chair, slouched basil rathbone, or maybe it was john carradine, in the black suit and hat and string tie of an old west card sharp.
at a nod from the empress mrs mcgonigle threw back a purple curtain.
and there was the city… the moonlit city of blue and silver glass towers…