IN SEARCH OF THE JABBERWOCK
By Steve Goldfinger
Natives paddle us up this barely charted river in New Guinea. Commissioned by the Lewis Carroll Foundation, this is the strangest expedition I have ever led. It is the first step toward reincarnating the horrendous Jabberwock, to restoring those jaws that bite, the claws that catch.
The clue that set things off was the report that there is a wabe up the river where slithy toves could be seen gyring and gimbling alongside a forest of borogroves. It was there that the frumious Bandersnatch slaughtered the Jabberwock by plunging his vorpal blade snicker-snack through the beast and then galumphed away with its head.
Our mission is to find that vorpal blade. If scientists back home can scrape off some Jabberwock DANN, they will have the starter code to create a live Jabberwock that can be caged and shown around the world.
We were told to look for a particular tumtum tree where the Bandersnatch had rested just before the kill. That spot may be dozens of miles upriver, but our paddlers are strong and committed.
Hark! That must be jubjub birdsong coming from a tumtum tree just ahead. I am guessing jubjub because the song is raucous–downright ugly, in fact. Could one expect anything else from a bird that must be shunned?
My team gathers its shovels and picks. The members include:
– Martha Addington, archaeologist
– Emil Gottschalk, eminent naturalist.
– Mike Sullivan, river guide and provision supplier.
Emil is eight feet away from me when I hear him shouting. He is digging furiously into the shallow pit he has created. And then he raises it—a mud-caked sword with thin roots hanging from it. He scrapes the mud away, and there it is—the vorpal blade!
Our victorious party is being paddled back down river. The sword is in full display, its blade still sharp, still menacing. I watch the trees slip by. Martha is smoking, as usual, and, as always, snacking. It’s a lazy journey back—until we suddenly freeze at the loud shrieking of what must be a dozen jubjub birds overhead. The paddlers lose control. The bow of our longboat snags against a fallen log at the shore. And there, glaring down on us, is an enormous figure—half naked, horny skinned, fanged, and reeking. The odor is absolutely vile. It is, unmistakably, the Bandersnatch itself. He looks into the boat and sees what he wants. It is Martha! With one leap and snatch, he lands her and scurries into the forest, pushing pie crumbs and a cigarette away from her mouth.
We find them within two minutes. He is pressing against poor Martha. He thrusts her into a bush. Her screams drown out the jubjub birds. Mike Sullivan approaches. He wields the vorpal-bladed sword. One stroke, and snicker-snack, the horny monster is headless.
Martha chews some gum as we float up to the dock. Now it is in the hands of the scientists to separate Jabberwock DNA from Bandersnatch DNA.
After a long career in medicine, Steve has been exploring his artistic side. At BOLLI, he has taken writing courses, been active in the Writers Guild, and even tried CAST (Creativity in Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre) where his imagination made him a singular player!