THE MILLION MONSTERS AFFAIR
by Robert Hart Davis
THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. MAGAZINE, January 1968
Mindless, without souls and without pity, they looted and killed, as Solo and Illya fought against time and THRUSH to find the dread weapon which transformed happy children into ravening monsters.
ACT I - THE WARNING
NAPOLEON SOLO - whistled softly. His companion, Illya Kuryakin, turned to see what interested his friend.
He saw a girl. And from her becomingly tousled blonde hair down along curves designed for a bikini to splendidly lithe legs, she was a marvel to behold.
Kuryakin’s Slavic features lighted up. He echoed Napoleon Solo’s soft whistle.
“Now that is the kind of girl who could change my woman-hating ways!” he said.
“I’m not a woman-hater,” Solo said with a grin, “but if I were, she could change my mind.”
“I guess you know it is impolite to stare,” Illya said.
“I know,” Solo replied, “but when the girl is that pretty it is stupid not to! It will be a long, long time before we see something as lovely as that.”
The girl turned toward them. Napoleon looked hastily away, but when the blonde leaned back in her seat and closed her eyes, he stared at her again. He wasn’t being rude. There was something about her that puzzled him.
The first time he looked at her he thought she was deathly afraid. The second time he thought she didn’t have a care in the world. Now, as she leaned back in the lobby chair in the Los Angeles International Airport waiting room of East-West Airlines, she seemed to take on a sudden pallor that made her look like a lovely corpse.
Solo bent his head over close to his companion.
“She looks familiar,” he said in a low voice. “Do you have any idea who she is?”
“She doesn’t look familiar to me,” Illya said.
“There’s something odd about her,” Napoleon insisted. “I can’t place it, Illya, but it bugs me.”
“It is not the odd things about her that is bugging you, friend. I -”
Kuryakin broke off, startled by an abrupt change in the girl’s face. Her pale skin suddenly flushed. Her madonna-like beauty receded. Her eyes snapped open and there was pure hell in them. Her face contorted in a mask that was viciously beautiful, but deadly as a murderess. Her lovely lips snarled back, exposing teeth that gleamed like a young Dracula.
Before the two startled men from U.N.C.L.E. could move, she jerked a tiny gun from her purse. She jumped up. Her face was now completely maniacal.
Both Kuryakin and Solo leaped for her as she insanely pointed the gun toward a group crowded about the ticket counter. Solo, who was a fraction of a second quicker, caught her arm just as she pulled the trigger.
The bullet flashed over the heads of the startled passengers. It struck the wall, glanced and smashed a huge plate glass window looking out on the mall.
She jerked back, pulling free of Solo’s grasp. She leveled the gun in his face. He lunged at her, but his knee hit the arm of the chair she had quitted.
Solo sprawled flat. The girl jumped back, leveling the gun at him again.
Kuryakin tried to grab her. She dodged, but the movement spoiled her aim. Her bullet slammed into the floor, inches from Napoleon Solo’s head.
Napoleon didn’t try to get up. He jerked his body around, throwing himself at her legs. He caught her and pulled her down. It was like throwing his arms about a tornado. She twisted violently. Her knee rammed up in his stomach. He doubled up in pain, but managed to keep his grip on her wrist.
Her strength was superhuman, astounding in one of her slender build. Solo could never have held her had not Kuryakin sprang to his assistance.
Together they forced her back in the seat, but even then they almost couldn’t hold her.
Two uniformed policemen came running across the lobby. With their help, she was brought under restraint. Solo touched a hidden catch on the side of his massive black star sapphire ring. A tiny needle protruded. He forced it into the girl’s arm.
She shuddered and closed her eyes but her face was still a contorted demon’s mask.
But still she kept struggling. Solo looked at her in amazement. Her eyes were closed. Her mouth was half parted. She was breathing deeply, like one asleep.
Kuryakin noted her strange reaction to the knockout drug in the U.N.C.L.E. ring.
“She’s asleep!” he gasped, his own breath short from the exertion of trying to hold her down. “She’s asleep, but why is she still fighting us like mad?”
One of the policemen got his handcuffs about the girl’s ankles. Then they forced the struggling sleeper’s arms behind her back and put the other policeman’s bracelets on her.
She still tried to break away. It took both police to hold her after Kuryakin and Solo stepped back.
Kuryakin touched his own U.N.C.L.E. ring.
“Shall I give her another jolt?” he asked Solo.
Solo shook his head. A slight frown creased his handsome face.
“If that last didn’t put her out, nothing short of death will,” he said slowly. “There is something very strange going on here, Illya.”
The two police were kept busy controlling the girl’s wild motions despite the two sets of handcuffs on her ankles and wrists. This went on until the arrival of a police car. Even after the berserk girl was crushed into a strait jacket, she continued to struggle.
“That sort of strength just isn’t human,” Illya observed. “She should have exhausted herself a long time ago.”
“I keep thinking I know her,” he said.
He turned to one of the policemen, who had stepped back, breathing hard, after helping force the crazed girl into the police car.
“Who is she?” Solo asked curiously.
The policeman was one who arrived in the car. He had not seen Illya’s and Napoleon’s participation in preventing the girl from committing murder. He gave Napoleon a suspicious look.
“Who -” he began.
His companion broke in. “Durham, this is Napoleon Solo, from U.N.C.L.E. I worked on a case with him last year.”
“And this is my partner, Illya Kuryakin,” Napoleon said. “He is also a member of the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.”
“Is Marsha involved in a case you’re working on?” the policeman asked.
“Marsha? Is that her name?” Solo asked.
“Yeah, Marsha Mallon. She’s the daughter of Fred B. Mallon, the movie producer.”
“That explains why she looked so familiar,” Kuryakin said. “Her mother was the famous star, Roberta Romaine.”
“Is this something she does all the time?” Napoleon asked.
Durham shook his head. “She always had a reputation of being a quiet person. She shunned the usual Hollywood hippie crowd and was supposed to be something of an intellectual.”
“According to one of the columnists,” his companion said, “she was trying to make a career for herself as a research scientist.”
“I wonder -” Napoleon began, but Illya interrupted him.
“Come on, Napoleon. They’re calling our plane.”
“We’ve got an urgent appointment in New York,” Solo told the policeman. “But if you need our testimony in any way, we can arrange to come back later.”
“I don’t think this will ever come to trial,” Durham said. “It is the first trouble she has been in. And her father has the money to hire that bigtime Hollywood lawyer all the stars get.”
After bidding good-by to the police crew, Illya and Napoleon hurried to board their plane. As they took their seats, Kuryakin said thoughtfully, “I’d like very much to know what kept that girl fighting like crazy after she obviously was put to sleep by your knockout drops.”
Napoleon nodded soberly. “Did you get the impression that her own mind wasn’t directing her body?”
“Yes,” Kuryakin said positively. “It was almost as if some evil spirit had moved into her unconscious body and was animating it.”