Weird Science - Fantasy #25: "A Sound of Thunder"

Weird Science - Fantasy #25
"A Sound of Thunder"
September, 1954

Script: Albert B. Feldstein
Pencils: Al Williamson
Inks: Angelo Torres
Colors: Marie Severin
Adapted From The Story By Ray Bradbury

"Time Safari, Inc. 
Safaris To Any Year In The Past 
You Name The Animal
We Take You There
You Shoot It"

After reading the sign on the wall of the office, Mr. Eckles handed over
the ten thousand dollar fee to the man behind the desk...  When asked
about the guarantees, the man replies that nothing is guaranteed, except
for the dinosaurs.  He introduces Eckles to Mr. Travis, the safari guide
to the past.  Travis will tell him what to shoot and where to shoot.  If
the client does not follow instructions, he will suffer the
consequences...  Eckles looked over towards the assortment of wires,
golden containers, and bright lights... the time machine.  He tells the
others if the elections had gone differently, he might have come here to
escape the results.  Eckles is grateful that Keith won and is confident
that he'll be a fine President of the United States.  Travis nods and
agrees that if Lyman had won, they would have been in the worst of it.
Time Safari, Inc. had received calls from people asking to be sent to
1492 if this came to pass.  They are in the safari business, not escapes.
With Keith in office, all Eckles has to worry abut is shooting his
dinosaur.  Travis has him sign the release, absolving them of
responsibility should anything happen during the hunt.  The company does
not want someone who will panic at the first sight of the Tyrannosaurus
Rex.  They are to go back sixty million years for a real hunt.

When Travis asks if he wants the check back, Eckles stares at it for a
moment.  The men walk from the office with their weapons in hand, and
board the time machine.  A day, then a night, and then
day-night-day-night...a week...a month... a year... ten years... 2056
A.D., 2019 A.D., 1999, 1954, and the machine roared on...  Eckles sits
silently in his padded chair, along with four other men in the craft.
Travis the leader, Lesper the assistant, and two other clients named
Billings and Kramer.  The years passed between them, as time was running
backwards.  The sun and moon moved away from them.  The machine roared...
The time machine began to slow and the roar became muffled.  The craft
stopped, as did the sun in the sky.  The fog which had covered the
machine has dissipated, and they were all in a different time.  Travis
showed them the jungle of sixty-two million two thousand and fifty-five
years before the time of President Keith.  They are also shown the path,
made by Time Safari for their personal use.  It floats six inches above
the ground and is composed of an antigravity metal.  It's there to keep
the travelers from touching the world of the past in any way.  The safari
leader insists that they remain on the path at all times.  When Eckles
asks why, Travis tells him that their future must not be altered and that
they are intruders here.  Time travel is a tricky business and they may
inadvertently kill an important animal.  Eckles is still unclear on the

The safari leader explains... if they accidentally killed a rodent, all
of its future descendants would be gone, and millions of rodents would
disappear in the present.  The animals who hunt the rodents would starve
and die, and so would their predators.  One day some sixty million years
in the future, a caveman goes in search of food, but there are no longer
any saber-tooth tigers for him to hunt.  With the death of the caveman,
his descendants... an entire race... an entire people will no longer
exist.  History is changed with Rome never forming, Europe a dark jungle,
and perhaps not even a United States.  The jungle of the past encompassed
the entire world, with the sounds of pterodactyls flapping their batlike
wings overhead.  The client pauses to aim his gun in fun, but is
reprimanded by Travis.  Lesper checks his watch and knows that the
Tyrannosaurus is just up ahead.  In another minute, they will give the
word to open fire, and remain on the path at all times.  As the men move
forward, Eckles knows that Election Day has come and gone in the future.
While everyone is celebrating Keith's victory, they are in the past
hunting a dinosaur.  The safari leader tells them to make sure their
safety catches are off.  Eckles is to shoot first, then Billings, and
then Kramer.  Although he has hunted other wild animals, the client finds
himself growing more nervous by the moment.  The sounds of the jungle
stop suddenly... followed by silence.  Then, a sound of thunder...  Out
of the fog came the Tyrannosaurus Rex...

It came forth on well-oiled legs.  It stood twenty feet over the
surrounding trees, a giant, keeping its small clawed fingers close to its
scaly chest.  Each of the lower legs moved as smoothly as pistons, as
bone was well-protected by muscle, covered over by rock-hard skin.  The
thighs were solid as steel, and from the upper torso hung two arms, with
hands that crush a man.  Its head roared up towards the sky.  Its mouth
revealed teeth as sharp as knives.  Its eyes knew nothing but hunger.  In
its run, many trees were crushed and its feet cut the earth with its
deadly weight.  They could see the small insects trapped in the slime
covering the dinosaur... and Eckles was fast losing his nerve.  Travis
grabs ahold of his arm and orders him to return to the time machine.  The
client takes a few blind steps, but the safari leader sees that Eckles
has gone the wrong way.  The creature reacts to their presence, roaring,
and runs towards them.  The rifles open fire and the beast's breath
catches their attention with its scent of slime.  Eckles sees none of
this, as he falls off the path, with his rifle dangling in his arms, and
his feet sinking into the green moss...

The rifles fire again and again, but their sound is lost in the roar of
the thunder lizard.  The Tyrannosaurus Rex reaches out for the group, to
tear at them, to grab at them, and swallow them whole.  The men see
themselves reflected in the beast's eyes and fire at the iris...  The
monster falls like a stone avalanche to the ground, and pulls the trees
down in its wake.  Blood comes from its throat and the ghastly fluid
covers the safari in red...  The thunder is gone.  The jungle is quiet.
Tyrannosaurus Rex is dead.  They listen as each of the beast's organs
shut down for the last time and see the tree falling onto the creature
right on time.  Travis and Lesper knew that this was the original cause
for the T-Rex's demise.  Back at the time machine, they find Eckles in a
fetal position.  The safari leader tells him that they will strand him in
the past, with Lesper trying to calm Travis down.  Eckles had stepped off
the path and the evidence is on his shoes.  Not wanting to remain in the
past, he offers to pay anything for the chance to return to the future.
The safari leader throws the checkbook aside and aims his rifle at
Eckles.  He is to go out to the monster, put his arms up in its mouth,
and dig out the bullets.  If he does this, then he can come back with

Eckles heads out towards the hill of once-living flesh to complete his
task, then comes stumbling back along the path.  Five minute pass, and
his arms are now soaked with blood to the elbows.  Each of his hands hold
a number of steel bullets and the client passes out on the path.  The
time machine is activated and heads for home...  1492...1776...1812.
Travis continues to stare at Eckles on the floor.  The client insists
that all he got on his shoes was some mud.  The safari leader has got his
gun at the ready.  1954...2000... 2056.  The machine has reached its
destination.  The office was just as it was when they had left.  The same
man sat behind the same desk, but Travis eyed the surroundings

The safari leader relaxed a bit and tells the client to leave.  Eckles
does not move...  When Travis gets closer, he sees the sign on the wall
of the office... The same sign he had seen earlier when paying for the
trip, but now it was different...

"Tyme Sefari, Inc.
Sefaris Tu Any Yeer En The Past
Yu Naim The Animall
Wee Taek Yu Thair
Yu Shute Itt"

Eckles falls into a nearby chair and claws at the mud on his boots.  He
finds a glistening green, gold, and black thing there.  A butterfly...
very beautiful... and very dead...  It was a little thing, really.  The
kind of thing that could upset the delicate balance of time.  His mind
snapped.  The death of a butterfly couldn't be so important.  Could it?
When asked who won the Presidential election yesterday, the man behind
the desk smiles, and tells them that Lyman did.  They now have an iron
man in office, not a blasted weakling like Keith.  The man behind the
desk watches as Eckles begins to moan and reaches for the butterfly with
trembling fingers...  He wonders if they could return it to the past...
make it live again... and start over?  The last thing he sees is the fear
and anger in Travis' face.  The last thing he hears is a sound of

One of my favorite short stories.

In the E.C. Adaptation of the Ray Bradbury story, the man behind the desk
looks like Don Corleone from "The Godfather."  I guess Al Williamson took
a trip of his own to catch up on the movies.

Eckles looks like a younger version of my maternal grandfather.  Another
grandfather lookalike is Jax-Ur, who would have been great if played by
Fred Clark.

In the short story, Keith's opponent is named Deutscher, not Lyman.

Nth metal or anti-gravity metal is known to Hawkman.  Perhaps this world
has an arrangement with Thanagar on building paths?

As drawn by Al Williamson, Travis looks like James Dean.

If I remember correctly, Bob Rozakis said that he would read this story
to his class, complete with two signs for the before and after sequences.

It's interesting that Eckles brought along his checkbook on the trip, but
I hope he brought some clean underwear, too.

1492 was when Colombus discovered America.

1776 was the American Revolution.

1812 was the time of war.  What was the war of 1812?

Time floats like a butterfly, stings like a B-Movie.

In the short story, Travis shoots Eckles, but in the E.C. adaptation,
Travis just shakes his head.

Hope yu enjoyed this review.

Curious to see how Craig Shute will taek itt.

Steve Chung
"A Review of Thunder"