[an error occurred while processing this directive] ZEPHYR Magazine

                              T H E
                           Z E P H Y R
                  __     M A G A Z I N E
                 Issue #29               10-10-86
            A weekly electronic magazine for users of 
                        THE ZEPHYR II BBS 
                    (Mesa, AZ - 602-894-6526)
                owned and operated by T. H. Smith
                    Editor - Gene B. Williams 
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                            (c) 1986

   Nuclear war is a horrifying prospect, no matter how you look 
at it. The dreariest studies indicate that it could wipe out 
every living thing on the planet. Even the most optomistic reports 
say that it's not unreasonable to expect that 90% of the earth's 
population will disappear - many of them slowly and painfully by 
radiation sickness, starvation and other such wonderful things.
   Back in the 1950s a whole stream of movies and stories were 
produced, based on the idea that radiation causes mutations. The 
usual premise was that either a war had taken place, or that at 
least a nuclear testing had taken place. The radiation caused 
incredible mutations of the lifeforms in the area. Giant ants or 
spiders might be the result, invading the cities and sewer systems
("IT'S THEM!!! THEM!!!")
   Well, anyone with intelligence realizes that such things are 
impossible. A 20' tarantulla would collapse under its own weight. 
And it's pretty difficult to believe that your geranium will 
start munching on your kneecap just because it got a dose of 
   Even so, the stories persist. And mutations DO happen.
   Imagine the scene a few hundred years after a major nuclear 
war. A few have survived. Not many, but a few. They've been almost 
literally thrown back to the stone age, and the little groups of 
survivors become totally separated. Almost tribal. No contact 
has been possible for generations.
   For this story, you've been born into that situation.

                  The Monsters of Terrance Peak

     Being fourteen in the twenty-third century was difficult 
enough. Being lost in the mountains sure didn't help Tom's 
feeling of well being. Already the sun was dropping from the sky.
     All Tom could think of were the tales of the mountains told 
in his village. Something strange and dangerous was up there. 
Those who went into the mountains never came back. His father had 
warned him to stay out of the mountains.
     "The mountains are prowling with strange and horrible 
beasts," the tales said. "Flesh eaters, and fierce, with huge 
fangs and tearing claws." The war hundreds of years ago was given 
as the cause. Mutations. 
     Although Tom had never actually seen one of the creatures, 
he had seen pictures of them. Drawings painted by the village 
elders who claimed to have had contact with them. The hideous 
memory of those paintings burned into his mind, and he wondered 
if he would ever see the warm comfort of the valley again.
     Looking over the edge he could just barely see the smoke 
rising into the air from the village. His family would be 
gathering now around that dinner fire, wondering why he was gone 
and when he'd come home.
     How he longed to be by that fire, smelling the delicious 
aroma of mother's hot stew and fresh baked bread. 
     He heard a voice, blown to him on the breeze. Turning, he 
could see nothing at all except the dark outlines of the brush 
and small trees. The shadows seemed to twist into horrible 
shapes, but he knew them to be nothing more than shadows. At 
least he hoped that they were nothing more.
     "Who are you?" it came again.
     Despite its softness, the voice sliced like an icy knife. He 
jumped and spun around with his fists clenched, expecting to see 
some monster about to leap on him.
     "What are you doing here?" the voice asked.
     Tom picked up a large stick and waved it threateningly in 
the air. "Where are you?" he shouted. Silence. "Show yourself!"
     A bush to his right moved slightly. He raised the stick over 
his head as if to strike the bush. "All right," he commanded, 
trying his best to sound brave and fierce, "come out of there!"
     "No," the voice whimpered. "You'll hurt me."
     Cautiously he lowered the stick, then sat down on a large 
rock, facing the bush. Somehow the voice seemed less frightening.
     "Come on out. I won't hurt you."
     "Throw away your stick first."
     He tossed the stick aside. Slowly the bush parted and a 
young girl came from behind it. Her pretty, young face was 
frightened. He looked sadly at Tom, as though expecting him to 
suddenly attack.
     "Don't hurt me," she pleaded.
     "Who are you?" he asked. "What are you doing up here? Are 
you lost, too?"
     "Lost? No, I live here. Just down the path. My name is Lisa. 
But I haven't seen you before."
     "I'm Tom," he said. "How can you live here? Haven't the 
monsters eaten you yet?"
     Her head spun around, back and forth, her eyes wide and 
searching. "Where? Have they climbed up? Daddy said they couldn't 
climb the mountain, and we'd be safe." She glared at Tom. "Did 
you bring them?" she accused.
     "No! They're here. They live here. I've seen them. Well, 
pictures of them anyway."
     The anger in her eyes changed to puzzlement. "There are no 
monsters in the mountains. Only people. The monsters live in the 
valley below, ready to eat anyone who goes down there."
     "There are none in the valley," he argued.
     ~Oh, yes! Yes, there are! Just last week two boys - two very 
foolish boys - went down into the valley. They never came back. 
They were eaten!"
     "If they were, they were eaten up here. Believe me, Lisa, 
there are no monsters in the valley. I should know. I live there. 
See those fires off that way?"
     She looked. "Yes. those are the fires of the monsters, used 
to cook people." Her voice cracked tearfully. "I bet those two 
boys are on those fires right now."
     "No, Lisa. No! Those are the fires of my village."
     Her eyes grew huge with astonishment, then fear. "Don't hurt 
me," she begged. "Please don't eat me. I'm not much anyway."
     "I'm no monster," Tom growled impatiently. "I'm a person, 
like you are."
     "But I live in the mountains. With people. You come from the 
valley. You must be a monster."
     "Well, I'm not. There are only people in the valley."
     "There are only people in the mountains."
     They looked at each other for several minutes in silence as 
it sunk in. It had been ages, since long before the Great War, 
that people had ventured very far from their homes. Could it be 
that there were no monsters anywhere? Could the stories be 
     The two "monsters" looked at each other as the sun slowly 

Until Next Time

   A few of the readers have taken to following my career as a 
   For those:
   I was sitting in my office one pleasant Saturday afternoon, 
working on a dreary and dull article. Through the window I 
could see the outline of the Superstitions in the distance. Quite 
a sight. I got to thinking about the source of the name for the 
small range. People have disappeared mysteriously for years now, 
and the number of legends concerning the mountains abounds.
   One thought leads to another. I got to thinking, "Hmmm, if a 
group of people had managed to make their way into a mountain 
range, they'd be relatively safe in the event of a nuclear war, 
but that war would pretty much wipe out the Valley. Some might 
survive, though. Then, in a couple hundred years . . . ."
   And MONSTERS OF TERRANCE PEAK was born. It sold first time out, 
and was later turned into a stage play. 

   As I've said so many times to the would-be writers among the 
readers, ideas are everywhere around you. Even for those who have 
no desire to be a writer as a career, letting your imagination 
run away now and then can be fun.
   Look at something common and ordinary, and ask yourself . . .
   "What if . . .?"

   Another plea:
   Among the downloads for the magazine is something called, 
"QUESTION." I'm presently doing a book on pregnancy and birth. 
This file is a questionaire for that book. A gathering of 
opinions and information. 
   Take a few minutes and download it. It doesn't matter if you're 
a parent or not. You probably will be one day. What do you *expect?*
You probably also know someone who is (your parents, for instance?), 
or who is about to be. Print it out and give the questionaires to 
anyone you can think of who might be able to fill it in.

Zephyr Magazine is © Gene Williams. All rights reserved.