"The Ordeal of Bluebird 3" was a story printed in the fourth issue of The Twilight Zone comic published by Gold Key Comics.
When naval aviator Charles Andrews was forced into a crash landing while in flight over the Pacific, he had no idea where—or even if—he would wake up. He never expected that when he opened his eyes once more, that he would find himself safely transported into...the Twilight Zone.
Cast of characters
- mer-people (11)
- Neptune's aide
- Neptune's Court (10)
"Strange, unexplainable things happen in wartime. Some so strange, as you shall see, they could only occur where the combat zone meets the Twilight Zone! A flight of U.S. Navy planes heads back to its carrier after clobbering an air-strip on a Japanese-held Pacific atoll during World War II. But, one of the planes is in trouble. Lt. Charles Andrews makes an urgent distress call..."
Lieutenant Charles Andrews was piloting a United States Navy plane, Bluebird-3, over the Pacific Ocean when he ran into engine trouble. He radioed his flight leader in Bluebird-1 and was ordered to bail out before it was too late. He promised Andrews that his position was marked and they would return to rescue him after they get back to base. Andrews affirmed the order but when he tried to bail, he found that his canopy was jammed! He had no other choice but to ride out the crash. The impact was rough and the pilot blacked out.
When Lt. Andrews opened his eyes, he found himself in a cot in a drab gray block room with a throbbing headache. A blonde-haired woman in a turqoise simsuit enters the room with a large shell. She said he had been unconscious for a long time and she had brought him some kelp soup. Seeing the man was confused, she told him that her name was Trina and that she was a servant of King Neptune and he was now a guest in Neptune's palace. The pilot was even more confused. He went to the window and looked out. It looked like he was at the bottom of the sea! He was shocked when Trina affirmed that they were!
Trina went on to explain to the injured man that her people had witnessed his plane crash and brought him to the castle for help. She was a nurse and had bandaged his head wound. Trina then warns Andrews that he must not leave the room that they have provided him. It is the only room that is filled with air from the surface. When he asks how it is that she can breathe, she responds that she and the others at the palace have arrived there much as he had, from the outside world. They, however, had been converted by Neptune's physician to live underwater by giving them gills. She said that she had to leave, but would be back and to remember her warning or else drown.
Charles Andrews heeded Trina's warning and she kept her word. She did return and when she did, she brought with her a breathing helmet so that he might travel outside his room. King Neptune had requested his presence in his court. Andrews donned the helmet and he was escorted down the water-filled corridor to the palace court. She whispered a word of advice to the airman, "Whatever happens in there, don't anger the king!" and they entered.
The royal court was filled with sea creatures, people like Trina and others with fish tails instead of legs. At the center of the far wall sat King Neptune, legendary trident in hand, in a large golden throne made in the shape of a giant seashell. The powerful ruler spoke to Andrews, charging him with trespassing on royal property. By the law of the kingdom, his crime must be paid for with the trespasser's eternal servitude in the palace of Neptune. Lt. Andrews humbly stated that he had not intended to break any law and had arrived there completely by accident. He continued by informing the court that his country back on the surface was at war and needed his help and begged that he be allowed to return to it. The king respected his fighting spirit and offered him a choice: he could live with them peacefully forever or tale a chance at winning his freedom by running the gauntlet in the arena. With no hesitation, Andrew chose the gauntlet.
Trina pleaded with Charles to change his mind and stay there with her, but he kindly stuck to his decision. His allies above the sea needed him. Trina reluctantly conceded and bestowed him with a good luck charm to protect him in the dangerous trial, a necklance made of pearls and a starfish. He was then taken to the arena.
Neptune instructed him on what was expected of him. He would have to walk along the broken mast form a shipwreck without falling off once. This would not be as simple as it had first sounded. The first section of the mast was lined with gigantic clams and he was armed with only a small trident to defend himself. He began and it was not long before he slipped on the seaweed that had grown over the wood. Fortunately for him, he was able to use the trident to regain his balance before the huge clamshell closed around his ankle.
Moving on, Andrews was next assaulted by monsterous moray eels. His trident placed ahead of him, he slowly prodded through the cavern walls where the eels lived.
Ahead lay a truly treacherous challenge: an octopus three times his size! When the eight-limbed beast saw the man approaching, it let loose a blast of blinding ink at him! Andrews could no longer see the mast in front of him, but he kept moving in a straight line. Soon he had arrived at the octopus' arms and he stooped to a crawl and managed to pass under the creature's grasp. From there, he could see then end of the mast just ahead of him.
Charles Andrews was mere feet from the finish of the gauntlet. He could sense victory. Just then, a huge shark dove at him from above! Andrews managed to avoid the animal, but the current it left in his wake swept him upward and lifted him off the mast! The pilot slipped and fell to the rocks below, landing headfirst, losing his weapon and shattering his breathing helmet! His lungs begin to ache from lack of oxygen and he had lost the contest, but Charles was not ready to give in just yet. He grabbed a long shard of the broken glass from the helmet and lunged at the attacking shark as it passed over him! Then, the drowning man succumbed to his fate and lost consciousness.
Meanwhile, on the surface, a naval ship had been searching for the lost pilot. Suddenly, the lookout spots simething floating in the water nearby. As they near the object they realized that it they body of Lt. Charles Andrews, unconscious and wrapped in seaweed! As he is pulled into the boat, the sailors wonder how he could have kept afloat for so long out in the open ocean.
When the lieutenant awoke this time, he found himself aboard an American transport ship. The ship's officer stopped by to see his injured guest. He told Andrews that he should get some rest but there would be a lot of questions asked of him later, first among them being from whom he had received the seaweed bandage. Charles Andrews promised he would answer all the questions as best as he could with what he could remember. Then, clutching his good luck gift from his undersea nurse, he thought to himself, "Bless you, Trina. Your good luck charm really worked!"
"Bluebird-3, last seen crashing into the Pacific, is back from the dead. Now he's faced with a dilemma. Either he fakes amnesia to avoid questioning or he tells the truth and risks being labelled a madman. Who would believe his incredible ordeal in the Twilight Zone? Would you?"
Response and analysis
- Appearing in front of "King Neptune" is a long-held initiation ritual of many navies, coast guards, and merchant fleets. In the ritual, sailors that have never crossed the equator are summoned to appear in "King Neptune's Court," (which often includes Davy Jones as an assitant) as represented by the ship's highest ranking seasmen. Upon completing the rite of passage, which has often involved a degree of hazing and physical requirements, the initiates are dubbed Sons of Neptune.
Notes and annotations
- Neptune is the Roman god of the sea, water and horses, brother of Jupiter/Zeus and Pluto/Hades and analogous to Poseidon in Greek mythology. Like Poseidon, he is often depicted as the "King of the Seas," bearing a great trident.
- Originally published in color
- Printed on newsprint, 9 pages
- Reprinted in Mystery Comics Digest 03
Notes and references
- ↑ Wikipedia contributors. "Line-crossing ceremony." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Version: August 31, 2009. Retrieved: September 3, 2009.
- ↑ Wikipedia contributors. "Neptune (mythology)." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Version: August 26, 2009. Retrieved: September 3, 2009.
- Bob Klein and Mike Tiefenbacher. "The Twilight Zone no 4 (1962 series)." Grand Comics Database. Retrieved: July 26, 2009.