Wednesday, December 24, 2008

CAVERN OF THE DAMNED: Chapter 3

Chapter 3: The Secret Temple
Now we find Jimmy Christopher in his Carleton Victor mode at the secret rites of the Goddess Zaava in an undisclosed location. Most of the rites consist of robed devotees from the upper classes sitting around an idol of the Goddess chanting her name over and over again. Also, the air is filled with hashish-loaded incense. But at the climax of the rites, Christopher witnesses the reappearance of the woman he rescued in the first chapter. She's whipped into submission by the priest of the cult. Looks like Fred Davis wanted a little spice in the soup.
Jimmy Christopher finally puts his air filters in place and is able to overcome the narcotic elements of the incense the devotees are burning. But while trying to pinch a sample of the incense out of a burner, he's captured by several of the cultists and imprisoned in a room. To eliminate him, the cultists release "tiger ants" into the room. Operator 5 manages to break open the window and climb down a concealed rope to safety, ants in pursuit. One at the ground level, he's taken to a hospital by a sympathetic cab driver.
Zaava as an ancient Goddess of Tibet appears no where in the literature about that country, not even in the study of the Bon religion which proceeded the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet. Possibly, Davis just tossed some words together to create a variation on the Thug cult of India. Likewise, tiger ants do seem to exist, but army ants was what the author had in mind. They're not quite as deadly as the ones described in the novel. You can thank popular entertainment for all the killer ant stories.

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