Flash Gordon 2 - The Plague of Sound

BOOK: Flash Gordon 2 - The Plague of Sound
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THE PLAGUE OF SOUND

A SPACESHIP CAPTURED
in a magnetic field and pulled beneath the earth into an underground city,
FLASH GORDON
jumps to safety only to be caught in the web of a giant man-eating spider, then saved by a titian haired beauty.

Pan, a madman musician, seeks to rule a planet by the shattering effects of ultra-high frequency sound.

Romance, spine tingling adventure, the sciences of the future, all combine to make
THE PLAGUE OF SOUND
a book you won't put down.

OTHER FLASH GORDON ADVENTURES
from Avon Books

#1
The Lion Men of Mongo

#2
The Plague of Sound

#3
The Space Circus

#4
The Time Trap of Ming XIII

#5
The Witch Queen of Mongo

#6
The War of the Cybernauts

THE PLAGUE OF SOUND is an original publication of Avon Books. This work has never before appeared in book form.

AVON BOOKS
A division of The Hearst Corporation
959 Eighth Avenue
New York, New York 10019

Copyright © 1974 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
Co-published by Avon Books and King Features Syndicate, Inc.

ISBN: 0-380-00014-8
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, January 1974

Printed in U.S.A

THE PLAGUE
OF SOUND

CHAPTER
1

I
t was a clear black night and they were several million miles from home.

Their aircar came drifting down through the night sky to land at the edge of the vast mall in the center of the capital city of Estampa Territory. The two square miles of plaza were paved with squares of sea-green tile. Globes of orange light floated above the mall at varying heights—five, ten, fifteen feet—bobbing in the warm breeze.

Flash Gordon eased out of the landed aircar, then turned and held out his hand to Dale Arden. Flash was a tall, lithe, broad-shouldered man in his late twenties, blond, wearing a one-piece evening suit of the style currently popular in this part of the universe. Dale, a slim girl in her middle twenties with dark hair, wore a simple evening dress.

“I’ll wait here for you,” said a metallic voice from inside their car.

Dale laughed. “I still can’t get used to all the servomechs and gadgets here in Estampa,” she said as she took hold of Flash’s arm. “They’re more gadget-ridden than any place on Earth.”

“One of the blessings of democracy,” said Flash. They started across the mall.

Estampa Territory had, a little over two years ago, undergone a revolution. Now it was one of the few territories on the planet of Pandor which could boast of a true democracy. There were an elected president and vice president, a parliament, elected local governments, and a good deal more personal freedom than anywhere else on the planet. There was also considerably more technological progress. Too much, according to Dr. Zarkov. The three of them, Flash, Dale, and the bearded scientist, had come to Pandor three weeks ago. They had rented a large villa in the most fashionable part of the capital. The rent was amazingly low, mainly because the president and some of his cabinet were anxious to have a man of Zarkov’s abilities look over their country and advise them on the efficiency of the machines and processes they depended on. While the doctor did this, Flash and Dale explored the territory, its beaches and mountains. Tonight they were headed for a concert in the Municipal Hall.

“I have my doubts about this concert tonight,” said Dale.

A green-tinted man went by, recognized Flash, and nodded. “Saw your picture on my news wall,” he said. “Always been a great admirer of yours.” He walked on by.

Flash said, “Hanging around with Zarkov is turning me into a celebrity.”

“You’re much better known than he is.”

Flash changed the subject. “I’ve never seen an opticoncert before,” he said. “I’m curious.”

“I still prefer real musicians,” said the girl. “Just listening to tridimensional projections of musicians—well, that’s not my idea of music.”

“Even if you don’t enjoy the concert, you can give Doc a full report on the technical end of it.”

“Oh, he already knows all about how an opticoncert works,” Dale said, “without ever having seen one. He filled me in on it this afternoon, and also gave me some tips on how the whole process could be improved.”

They reached the steps leading to the level of the hall they wanted. The steps carried Flash and Dale smoothly upward. A shining silver-plated robot greeted them, took their tickets, and guided them to their floating seats. The robot had a flashlight built into the tip of his right forefinger. “The concert will begin in 8.7 minutes,” the robot told them in a sedate whisper.

The moment Dale sat down, a program popped out of a thin slot in the arm of her chair. She caught the rectangle of blue synthpaper and read it. “Looks like they’ve added Busino’s
Planet Suite
#3 to the program.”

Flash set his program on his knee, watching the circular stage some fifty feet below. It was completely empty, except for a small black metal ball which stood on three legs at the edge of the stage. “We heard it on Jupiter once,” he said. “Very catchy”

“I like Harrison’s
Incomplete Symphony
a good deal better, but they won’t be doing that until after the intermission.”

The dome-shaped hall, which seated twenty-thousand people, was illuminated by dozens of globes of floating light. Gradually now the globes began to dim. When there was more darkness than light in the hall, the black metal ball made a clacking sound. Tiny beams of light suddenly shot out of it and all at once a full orchestra seemed to be sitting on the round white stage. Green-tinted musicians, pink-tinted musicians, all in one-piece evening suits. They were tuning up.

The illusion impressed a good part of the large audience. There were thousands of appreciative inhalations of breath.

The conductor, who appeared to be completely real though he was only a projection, tapped his baton.

“All very convincing,” Dale said to Flash. “But I wonder if they can play.”

She never found out.

Instead of the light, opening strains of the
Planet Suite,
the hall was filled with a wave of dissonant sounds which smashed at the ears of the audience. The screeching, nerve-shattering noises apparently were coming from the musical instruments in the hands of the opticoncert musicians.

All across the hall people were standing up, some with hands over their ears, others screaming and shouting. The terrifying sounds went on and on for long seconds. The light globes began to pop, scattering fragments of tinted plastiglass down on the crowd.

“Flash,” cried Dale, “what is it?”

It was the beginning of the plague of sound.

CHAPTER
2

T
he technician was also wearing an evening suit. He was a heavyset green man, with a scowling face, bent over the small control panel. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong,” he repeated.

The small plastic control room was beneath the stage of the Municipal Hall. Five men were crowded in there with the technician. One of them was Flash, who had just entered. “You mean you don’t know what caused those sounds up there?”

Not looking at him, the technician replied, “I keep telling everybody I had nothing to do with it.”

A lean man with a shock of white hair turned toward Flash. “You’re Flash Gordon, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

“I’m Gilfocks, the assistant manager of the hall,” the white-haired man said. “There really doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with any of the opticoncert equipment. We had a matinee of this exact same concert this afternoon. It went perfectly.”

“The second violin was off,” said a plump green man with a thick red beard.

“Perhaps,” admitted Gilfocks. “Yet there was nothing like this assault on the ears which just occurred up there.”

A forlorn man against the wall said, “I’d best start to see about the refunds. Everyone will want his money back now, and we’re sure to be sued by half the audience. One old dowager told me those sound waves cracked her false eyeball.”

“Yes, yes,” said Gilfocks. “You get going. Try to get as many of them as possible to take rain checks.”

“No one’s going to want to take another chance on this opticoncert,” said the forlorn man as he went shuffling out.

Flash asked the assistant manager, “You didn’t expect anything like this?”

“Obviously not. What do you mean?”

“No threats? No blackmail attempts?”

“Oh, I sea what you’re getting at. But, no, there’s been nothing like that, Mr. Gordon,” answered Gilfocks. “Since the revolution, things have been relatively peaceful in Estampa.”

Nodding, Flash moved closer to the control panel.

The green-colored technician glanced up. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong,” he said once more.

After quickly cheeking the panel over, Flash had to agree with him.

Dale took a tighter grip on Flash’s arm. “Do you mind if we walk home?” she asked as they let the ramp of the hall carry them down to the mall. “I don’t want to be inside anything for a while.”

“We’ll walk,” said Flash. “You sure you’re all right?”

“Yes,” answered the girl. “But that music, or whatever it was, was painful. Not only that, there was something frightening about it.”

“I noticed quite a few of the people around us reacted that way,” said Flash. “It’s a lucky thing there wasn’t more of a panic.”

“If that music had gone on much longer, there would have been.” She looked up at his profile. “How did you feel, Flash?”

“I apparently wasn’t affected the way you were, Dale. I felt more or less uncomfortable, but not frightened, not in pain.”

They walked along a mosaic tile walkway. The night sky was turning slightly hazy but hundreds of stars still showed high above them. Somewhere, far beyond those stars, in another planet system entirely, was their home planet, Earth.

“Zarkov will be interested in hearing about this,” said Dale.

BOOK: Flash Gordon 2 - The Plague of Sound
10.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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