Thursday, March 27, 2014

Part Ninety-Two, Envoi III-xviii-xix - The Ascension of Lombar Hisst

Though Crobe has finished curing Monte of his oral erotic dysfunction, the investigative reporter announces that his business isn't quite done, and he swivels a lamp to shine through the bars dividing the hut.  On the other side is a shadowy lump, gray-haired, deeply wrinkled, yellow-eyed, but blank-faced.  "LOMBAR HISST!"

"Oh, him," said Crobe.  "I gave him ninety-some years of psychoanalysis, but for the last five or so, he refuses to talk.  Actually, it is a psychiatric case and requires the expertise of a neurosurgeon.  You see, the frontal lobe has become too involved with the parietal lobe of the brain, causing the inevitable biofeedback predicted by the magnificent Earth scientist Snorbert Weener in his work, Stybernetics, based on his constant association with pigs at the Massachusetts Institute of Wrectology.  Believe me, it would cause Weener to absolutely squeal with rage and wiggle his tail if he knew his vital work was not being applied.  Ah well, the mighty are often forgotten. 

I have no idea.

Note, however, the use of italics - presumably Crobe is shifting into English for words like psychology or Massachusetts, which wouldn't exist in Voltarian vocabulary.  The fact that he has to do the same for frontal lobe indicates that Voltar doesn't have an equivalent term for that part of the brain, suggesting that they've never bothered to study it.  Presumably because there isn't much to work with.  Yet they can still devise and implant bugging devices that hijack electrical signals directly from the optic and aural nerves...

Crobe blathers on for another page, but the short version is that he knows from his studies at the "American Meddle Association" that all Lombar needs is a good lobotomy with an ice pick.  Then he tells a story about how a doctor at Bellevue once gave him a free demonstration, operating on over fifty people, "impoverished black people, charity cases," with a mere 70% mortality rate.  See, psychology is racist, not Hubbard.

Monte asks whether Crobe's years of psychoanalysis have made Lombar any saner, and Crobe insists that it has, his patient's just being obstinate - Lombar's a mute, motionless husk who doesn't even react when the prison staff come in to wash the excrement from his body.  Monte takes another shot of moonshine and feels confident enough to try interviewing Voltar's former dictator.  He also knocks over a jug of booze while saying goodbye to Crobe, spilling fuming hooch onto the cell floor.  This is actually a plot point.

Our current narrator has to step outside the hut so he can enter Lombar's side of it, and the guard warns that Hisst attacked an orderly some seventy years ago, then worries that Monte had some of the drink Crobe offered, and suggests he get his stomach pumped.  So obviously the prison staff knows about Crobe's bathtub gin, and how dangerous it is, but they can't do anything about it because of what the author intends to happen next.

Monte's admitted into Lombar's side of the hut, which is wrapped in shadows, though the fumes from the spilled moonshine are spreading to that side too.  When he approaches, the still-hulking Lombar suddenly moves to look Monte in the eye and, "in a perfectly normal voice," asks for a puffstick - either the one Monte lit two chapters ago is still in his mouth, or Lombar saw him offer one to Crobe.  Monte is polite enough to comply.

"Could I have a light?" he said.

I reached in my pocket again and found a firestick. 

Why are half the things in these books (function)sticks?

I squeezed its shaft.

It flamed.

I extended it close to the end of Hisst's puffstick.


The power was bone-crunching!

With his other hand he grabbed the shaft of the falling firestick.

With a roar quite like a lepertige he surged to his feet! 

And so we get a good two-page Hubbard Action Sequence.

You might think that years spent absolutely motionless might have atrophied Lombar's muscles or something, but it looks like Voltar's progressive asylum health program has left him just as strong as he was a hundred years ago.  Lombar is able to toss Monte against the far wall, then tears a blanket from his bed and uses the firestick to light it.

He swished the blanket as though it were a whip and rushed up to the bars!

He screamed as he flogged fire through the bars, "I'm sending you to HELL, you hear?  I'm sending you straight down to HELL NINE, DIRECT!"

He was hitting the bars with the flaming blanket!

Gouts of fire were flying off and spraying into Crobe's room.

"You and your psychoanalysis!" shrieked Hisst.  "I've waited decades just for this!"

Crobe had sprung up, clutching a jug of white mule to his bony breast.  He added his screeches to the din.  "Keep those blasted angels on your own side of the bars!"

You might be able to guess what happens next.  "Angels" of flame spurt from Lombar's blanket, igniting the spilled hooch on the hut's floor and creeping towards the still.  Monte, despite being inebriated and pretty damn stupid, has enough presence of mind to make a run for it, but unfortunately collides with the incoming prison guard on his way out, allowing Lombar to barely escape the flaming hut.  With his blanket.  That is still on fire.

Suddenly there was an awful roar!

The jugs of white mule had blown up!

The whole roof of the hut blew wide in a geyser of red and blue.

And there went Crobe sailing skyward!

Just as the roar of the explosion died, I heard Crobe's voice.  In tones of exultation the doctor cried, "Look, I'm flying! I'm flying!  I WAS AN ANGEL AFTER ALL!"

Abruptly, high in the air, carrying his white mule bomb, Crobe exploded with a tremendous BANG!

And so the twisted cellologist-turned-psychologist is ultimately ended by... beer.  Huh.  That's fairly unsatisfying.

Lombar, meanwhile, has decided to do his best Denethor impression.  And not the sympathetic character from the books, no, Lombar only saw the Lord of the Rings films and is trying to beat Movie!Denethor's goofy-ass death scene.

Lombar Hisst, wrapped in the burning blanket, was racing toward the far point of the cliff.

He reached the edge.  He was still running.  He tried to spring up in the air.


He went plunging, a blazing fireball, two thousand feet down toward the water, a spectacular arc.

He struck a piece of floating ice in a final gout of bursting flame!

He slid off to be crushed in the thundering surf against the cliff, a charred and roasted nothing, ground to pieces in the cold, green sea.

The remarkable thing is that Monte's still entangled with that prison guard and rolling downhill away from the hut, but he's nevertheless able to see over the edge of the cliffs and what's happening at sea level two thousand feet below.  For all of his many faults, Monte has very good vision.  

Crobe and Lombar Hisst were very, very dead.

And once again Hubbard tries to have it both ways.  Heller gets to be merciful and not have Crobe or Lombar rightfully executed, "merely" sentencing them to a hundred years of imprisonment and psychological torture, but the author is still able to write their hideous deaths, and since they were self-inflicted, Heller's hands remain clean.  Aside from the blood of five million Russians, of course.

The saddest thing is that these aren't the stupidest death scenes we've seen in these books.  Madison probably wins in terms of motive, while what's-his-name the hitman (editor's note from the future; GUNSALMO SILVA!) still has the least dignified death, having gotten his ass kicked by a housecat and then getting blown off the Empire State Building.

And that wraps it up for the bad guys.  Gris is still being held prisoner and punished with sex, while the rest killed themselves, or had the misfortune to be next to someone else who picked an explosive way to do so.  Hubbard has dispelled any ambiguity about their ultimate fates and replaced it with a farcical anticlimax.

Aren't you glad he wrote this "Envoi" to do so?

Back to Envoi III-xvi-xvii

1 comment:

  1. Reading between the lines, we can see some subtle hints that Hubbard has some kind of grudge against Norbert Wiener.

    I'm not sure what it was, though. Wiener was best-known as a mathematician. The closest he came to psychology was some research on neurons. Maybe Hubbard thinks it's evil to believe that neurons are a thing that exists?