Article Index

Chapter 8

The Decision


Now all groups were ready. They left the space ship and hurried after the metallic giants. Of course Mona and Moyo were the fastest and reached one of the robots first. As he walked behind his comrades they luckily could not see what happened. Moyo jumped onto the knee of the monster and poured half a bottle of salt water over it. Slowly the liquid trickled down into the metal hinge. By now the two other groups had done the same to the two robots in front of this one. After a few minutes the salt water had its effect – the knees of the robots began to rust. Now it was the turn of the next three robots. After a while all robots had one rusty knee and they could only run in circles. Jauntily, Rosie ran between the lame giants, calling: “Catch the pig, you rusty big!”

Bertha shook her head, the others laughed. But Rosie became too wanton and one of the long metal legs kicked her bum. The poor pig howled and was hurtled away and after quite a flight she landed in the dunes. While Bertha looked after the wailing Rosie and blew the sand out of her trunk, their friends poured more salt water into the robots. Finally all those machines lay buzzing and clattering in the sand.

C-congratulations, you were g-great.” Professor Hasty was at their side. Out of fright for his little friends he could not longer have waited in the control room. When he saw the machines lying on the ground, he searched his pocket. He got out a screwdriver and started to examine one of the robots. 

Well, anything left of them?” Bernie stood beside him and smirked.

Oh, we only have to grease their hinges, then they can move again.”

Don’t, if you do not ask for trouble”, Bernie retorted.

How about”, Elfrida butt in, “reprogramming these silly robots so that they work for us?”

Excellent idea”, the professor cried, “that can be done. Just get me my kit from the space ship, will you?”

Merrily the friends set off. Only Rosie limped and had to be supported by Bertha. The two pigs had not walked half the distance when the others already came back with the tools. Then the professor started his work. Hour after hour he screwed and soldered, while the children made themselves comfortable in the space ship. By now it had grown dark again and after an ample meal they went to bed. Bertha bandaged Rosie and then it became quiet in the ship. When slowly the morning dawned, Rosie could no longer sleep. The bandage itched. She got up and went over to the window to look out. The sight shocked her so much that she let out one of her terrifying yells.

What is it now?” Bertha squinted and went over to Rosie.

Help! The monsters are coming!”

In a flash everyone was at the window. But whom did they see marching at the head of the robots? Prof. Hasty, waving to them merrily. He had succeeded in taming the metallic giants. Now only one enemy was left: the black monsters.

During a long breakfast they discussed what to do next. Bernie proposed to program the robots once more. They were to attack the black monsters. But Elfrida and Jenny objected. They wanted to use their brains to beat the monsters. Mona and Moyo wanted to be at peace with them because otherwise there always would be trouble. The others agreed. Then Elfrida developed a daredevil plan.

And if I hide in one of the robots? Together with the five others I’ll go back to the black monsters and bring them nourishment. They will come and search for the robots if they don’t return soon.”

And then?” Daisy asked excitedly.

I will eavesdrop. Perhaps I learn something helpful.

I’ll go, too!” Rosie cried and they turned round to her.

You?!” Bertha jeered. “We’d better fly home then because that would be a disaster.”

You’re mean! If I may not go, I’ll never talk to you again.” Rosie was close to tears and Elfrida rose to speak.

After all it will be better perhaps if one of us sits in each robot. 12 ears hear more than two.”

Bertha defiantly lifted her head. “Well, I will not scramble into these dirty machines. I’m claustrophobic.”

And Bernie has to stay here, I need him in the control room”, Prof. Hasty reminded them. “Moreover I need two of you to dig for water. There’s hardly any coolant left for the flight back.”

Susie and Mary looked at each other.

That’s our job”, Susie said. “We just love to dig in the sand.”

So they decided that Mona, Moyo, Elfrida, Jenny, Daisy, and Rosie scrambled into the robots to go back to the black monsters with them. All the day long they gathered grass as they could not use the duplicator for plants. They caught none of the quick lizards, but anyhow they would not have brought themselves to take along the animals as fodder. Late in the afternoon they stuffed the grass into the robots’ bags. Now it was good-bye to those who stayed at the space ship. The professor and Bernie controlled every step after the professor had mounted a camera into each of the robots. Everything could be watched on the monitor.

Slowly dusk fell, but our friends had chosen this time of the day with good reason. Certainly the monsters would not search for water any longer. If they were together – that was Elfrida’s idea – they would talk and something could be learned then. So on and on they proceeded in the planet’s desert. The metallic giants threw long shadows onto the sand and everything was quite spooky.

That rocking make me sick”, Rosie cried, “I think I’m going to vomit!”

Think of chocolate cake”, Elfrida cried, “or look out and concentrate on some distant point. Always look at the point, then you no longer notice the swaying.”

After that Rosie did not say any more and they all were relieved. They really did not need a vomiting pig on this dangerous mission.

I see a light ahead, that’s the monsters’ camp.”

Moyo had been the first to see it.

Well, let’s proceed like this”, Elfrida said. “We’ll go to the camp, let the robots empty the bags with the grass and keep out of the way with the robots. We’ll do nothing except listening. If there’s anything else we can do, we’ll see that when we’re there. I’ll tell you when to attack. Remember to be quiet. Did you listen, Rosie?”

Yes, yes, you’ll tell us if its our turn.”

Something like that”, Elfrida sighed.

The robots trudged over a dune, and there was the camp. Now our friends could see their dangerous enemy clearly. The monsters seemed to have no neck. An ugly head with an enormous mouth was sitting on a bulky body. The mouth had a row of teeth, lots of them missing, and the lips were large and bulging. There were much more monsters than they had expected. They numbered 22. Six children against 22 big black monsters, Elfrida thought, I wonder whether the others are as frightened as I am.

The monsters grunted loudly, when they saw the robots. One of them was bigger than the others. He seemed to be the leader because he walked toward the robots at once. Furiously, the monster looked at the robot in which Elfrida was hidden. He looked it up and down for some time. Elfrida could smell him. He smelled as if he never in his life had washed. His eyes glittered, when he shouted in a loud, guttural voice, which seemed to come deep out of the earth: “Where have you been that long, we are hungry!”

The friends winced. Could the robots speak? The professor had mentioned nothing about that. It seemed to be a long while until the leader spoke again.

Well, no matter, you stupid tin buckets are not able to answer!”

This took a load of Elfrida’s and her friends’ minds.

Now also the other monsters came running and quickly the bags were empty of grass. Loud smacking was to be heard everywhere and the leader bawled again: “None of the tasty sandrunners? Why only grass, you lazy lot?”

Obviously the monsters called the small lizards sandrunners, but it was a fitting name. Infuriated, the giant kicked the robot. It crashed to the ground. Luckily Elfrida had held fast, so that nothing happened to her but a small bruise at her shoulder.


Yes, Master”, a small monster answered. “What are the orders of the Big Moog?” I see, Elfrida thought, Moog is their boss.

Take these tin buckets apart und look why they brought no sandrunners, and repair them.”

The six friends were sick of fright. Was this their last hour? The professor and their friends were too far off and could not help them. Groff walked to the fallen robot, took something lengthy and applied it to the robot’s head. Elfrida already heard the scratching of the tool and closed her eyes. Now everything seemed to be lost.


Big Moog, may I propose something?” Groff asked.

What is it?”

It is too dark, it will be better to work in daylight.”

All right, we have to discuss something anyhow.”

If their hearing had been better, the relieved sighs of our friends would not have been lost to the monsters. Moog sat down in the middle of the camp, so that everybody could see and hear him.

As you all know, we did not succeed up to now. We still have to take a lot of water supplies to our home planet Trion. As you also know, the survival of our families depends on it.”

Surprised, the children in their hiding places heard that these black monsters had families, wives and children for whom they cared. Even Mona and Moyo heard this for the first time.

Everybody who thwarts us will be done in. We have chased away the two inhabitants of this planet, and if they fetch their friends, we are prepared. I hope you remember how last time they chased us away with fire and thunder!”

Bernie at his monitor smiled. He indeed remembered clearly how he had driven out the monsters with his firecrackers.

This time we have our battle drones”, Moog continued. “They are hidden behind the high dune and only wait to be launched! Tomorrow morning we’ll start them and all space ships approaching this planet or not belonging here will be destroyed by them. But we must start off only one at a time, otherwise they shoot down each other. Lork, you’ll keep watch, the others go to sleep.”

Lork, a stupid looking black beef-cake, nodded. Then his pals retreated to a corner of the camp and he stayed alone in its centre. Lork found a bit of grass and chewed it. By and by the others fell asleep and began to snore loudly. Lork again and again glimpsed at his pals. When he was certain that they all were asleep, he softly stood up and walked to the dune beside the camp. Elfrida was the first to scramble out of the robot. Contented, she saw Lork in the distance, picking grass. She crept to her friends cautiously and one after the other came out of his hiding place.

Good luck that the lad is so hoggish, too”, Moyo grinned.

What do you mean – too?” Rosie asked. “Are you looking for trouble?”

Be quiet!” Elfrida whispered. “We’ve got to find the battle drones Moog talked about and have to dispose of them.”

Lork was at the left side of the camp, so they took the way to the right. One behind the other they moved through the terrain. Again and again they looked at the sleeping monster gang, but they reached the area with the battle drones without accident. 6 rockets were there, obviously all equipped with sensors and bombs. Elfrida and Jenny examined the dangerous units.

I’ve no idea how to destroy them”, Elfrida said under her breath.

Me neither, but perhaps we can put sand into them so that somehow they don’t work any longer.” Jenny was not very convinced of her own idea.

Rosie had come closer now.

I’m sure this is the On-button”, she said with her coarse voice. “If you press it…”

Then they go off, he he!” Moog was standing behind them.

Terrified, the friends saw that they were surrounded.

We did not really count on you, but as you are here, we do welcome you. And where might your space ship be?”

The children were silent.

Well, well, no matter, I don’t need to know it, I’ll just shoot it.”

He laughed heartily and the other monsters joined in his ugly laughter. It sound like mockery to Elfrida’s ears, but she knew what to do.

Each of you to one rocket, on my sign we start them”, she whispered to the others.

Like a flash Elfrida, Jenny, Daisy, Mona, Moyo, and Rosie ran each to one of the battle drones and when they reached them, Elfrida shouted: “Fire the damned things off!”

Hell broke loose. With a loud hiss which even drowned the terrified cries of the monsters, the first rocket went off. It drew a mighty fire tail behind. Right over the camp it went and high up into the air. When it reached the highest point it started to circle in the air. Now the sensors took over and tried to locate the space ship of our friends. Then the second rocket went off. It raced over the camp likewise and followed the first one. A short time later the third followed, then the fourth, the fifth and finally the sixth. When the first drone had finished its sensor scan, it took up target and moved toward the second rocket, which still moved in circles.

The following explosion made the ground of the planet Zeta rock. A mighty fireball in the sky, so glaring that everybody had to close his eyes, showed that the first two rockets had exploded. But it was not over. The third battle drone found its would-be target and changed course. Like a gleaming line it was to be seen in the sky and then came the next explosion. Again a mighty fireball over the heads of the terrified onlookers. Then something unexpected happened and a catastrophe followed. The sixth battle drone did not go up into the sky but got out of control. Something seemed to be wrong with the drive for it circled low over the ground. Everybody shrieked in panic and dropped to the ground.

Then an explosion happened, louder and more glaring as the two previous ones: the steerless rocket crashed right into the two space ships of the monsters. A heat wave shot over the camp, and debris whirled through the air. A few minutes later it was deadly silent. Elfrida lifted her head, a tremendous headache was all she felt. The camp was laid waste, everywhere parts of the battle drone were scattered about and the monsters were lying on the ground dizzily. Some were a little singed at the back, but they seemed to have survived the catastrophe, same as Jenny and the others who now groaned at stood up.

He’s dying!” Lork stood beside Moog and terrified looked at the leader. Moog had been hit by one of the debris pieces. Green blood ran from his shoulder. Rosie shrieked and turned round.

We have to bandage him”, Elfrida said, “or he’ll bleed to death.”

Lork looked at her in bewilderment. “Bandage? What is that? We cannot help him any more.”

By now Jenny had come with her small medical kit. Together with Mona Elfrida tried to lift the shoulder of the black giant.

Do help us”, Mona called to the monsters. “We alone cannot lift him!”

Four of the monsters came und lifted the leader a little so that the girls could bandage them. When they were ready the bandage roll was almost finished.

That’s that”, Elfrida said to Lork. “Now he needs some rest and much to drink.”

You heard her?” Lork said to the onlooking monsters – it seemed he had the saying now. “Do what she said!”

The girls sat down, only Elfrida stayed where she was and looked up in the sky.

Now we have lost everything”, she said and wiped a tear from her face.

But why do you say so?” Rosie calmed her down. “I don’t understand. The monsters don’t have anything left.”

So haven’t we.”

Now the friends stood up and looked at Elfrida inquiringly. In a low voice she said:

The fifth rocket is still active…”

In the meantime there was much excitement in the space ship. Prof. Hasty and Bernie had watched everything via the cameras they had hidden in the robots. Only when the sixth rocket had gone out of control, the contact had been cut because also the robots had been damaged by the explosion.

Professor, we’ve got to rescue them!”

Bernie was very excited, like all the others.

Can’t we fly there with the ship and help them?”

No, Bernie”, the professor said and stood up. “C-can you count?”


Then you must realize that one battle drone is on its way to this spot.”

Bernie paled and the professor shouted that they all had to leave the space ship quickly and to take shelter in the desert. As fast as possible they packed the most necessary things and stormed to the exit – then Bernie had an idea.

Professor”, he said, “what about the power field generator?”

It’s in the s-space ship, why do you ask?”

What about erecting a power field around the space ship?”

The professor paused, thought a moment and ran back to the control room. He fetched the generator and hauled it out. Immediately he started to screw and to adjust, then pressed a few buttons and called out to the others to stay close to the space ship.

It starts in a few moments!” he cried.

Hearts beating, the professor, Mary, Susie, Bertha, and Bernie pressed to the cold, hard outer shell of the space ship. First only a shrill whistling was to be heard like a steam train passing in the distance. Then the shrill sound became louder and seemed to come from all directions. Panicly the kids saw a fireball approaching with unbelievable speed. An explosion followed like nobody ever heard before. They thought the whole planet would be torn apart. Then all was silent and there only was a smell of melting steel.

Are we dead?” Bertha whispered. “And who will clear away all this mess?”

We’ve made it!” Bernie cheered. “It worked, the power field held!”

But how about the others?” Daisy asked. “We have to go and help them as fast as possible. They are helplessly at the mercy of the black monsters!”

Take the duplicator and the power field generator, we will rescue them!” the professor said and immediately they sat out to pluck their friends from the jaws of the black monsters.

But how fared their friends in the camp of the black monsters? There everybody was quite at a loss.

We have to look after our friends in the space ship. Surely they need our help!”

Lork rose. “No, you’ll stay!”

But if the rocket…”, Elfrida wanted to explain but was interrupted.

Then your space ship is destroyed. You must not go. If you go, our leader will die.”

Nonsense, he needs quiet now. Moreover, one of us may stay here.”

You’ll all stay”, Lork said. “You can’t do anything for your friends.”

Elfrida looked at him sharply. Did she not see something like pity in his hard monster face? She wanted to know.

And how shall we fare now? Your ship is destroyed, probably our ship is also destroyed. We have lost everything.”

Lork looked at his feet. He did not seem to know what to do, it really did not look well. Even the robots are destroyed, he thought, how are we to find anything to eat?

At this moment Moog regained consciousness.


Groff came at once and brought him some water. Moog drank thirstily, then he sat up, looked about him and understood that he and his monsters would not win any war today. He felt his shoulder, made a face and asked:

Who repaired my shoulder?”

Lork pointed at Mona, Jenny, and Elfrida.

Why did you help me?” he asked in surprise. “We wanted to kill you.”

Elfrida winked at Mona and Moyo and both got the hint.

You were badly injured and we abandon nobody who needs our help”, Mona said in a soft voice.

Moog looked to the ground, then at his monsters inquiringly.

Without our robots we will starve. Only they could find grass and sandrunners.”

But we can show you how to plant grass, then there is nourishment enough. It grows fast if it is regularly watered”, Moyo proposed.

And if we build houses and streets, your strength will be much needed”, Elfrida added.

Moog got up, Mona and Moyo helped him. With shaky legs he walked to the middle of the camp and shouted:

The war is over. The first time we lost, but at last we’ve found friends.”

Elfrida noticed that some of the monsters had tears in their eyes, and while she herself had to fight down some tears, she heard a familiar voice.

If so, we can start cleaning up! Really, the way it looks here…”

Bertha, followed by Bernie, Susie, Mary, and the professor entered the camp. Cheerfully the friends hugged each other. When they had told everything, Mona pointed at the duplicator and said: “Now we’ll make something to eat for our new friends! Lork, have you anything left but grass?”

Sorry, we’ve eaten up everything.”

Pity”, Mona said. “Has anybody anything to eat?”

They all looked at Rosie. Rosie whistled and looked up to the sky.

I think we should turn her head over”, Bertha said.

Why always me?” Rosie asked.

Because you’re the greediest pig of the galaxy”, Bertha hissed. “Moreover your trouser pockets are bulged. That’s no sand, is it?”

The black monsters had never heard anything the like. They began to laugh and one after the other rolled on the ground, unable to calm down.

With a sigh Rosie emptied her pockets, a few sandwiches, two bars of chocolate and some lollies.

Lork was standing beside her and sniffed: “Smells gooood! Tasty! Lork hungry!”

Mona took the chocolate bars and carried them to the duplicator. Bewildered, the monsters watched how two bars became four, then eight, then sixteen and so on. When Moog took a bite from the first chocolate bar, Bertha cried angrily: “You first have to rip off the paper, Chief, it’s unbelievable!”

Moog spit out the paper and chewed on. He nodded merrily and the others tried as well.

You don’t throw the paper to the ground”, Bertha scolded. “That’s what garbage bins are for.”

Haven’t got any”, Lork replied, collected the paper about him and stuffed it into his big mouth. “Better?”

Bertha could not think of any answer. Her friends laughed and Rosie saw to it that she could save some chocolate bars for herself.

Now was the time for a party. All the night long our friends sat together with the monsters, talking and laughing. For a long time the professor sat with Moog and told him how the monsters could solve their problems.

They decided to take the monsters one after the other home with the last intact space ship. Also water should be taken along for the planet Trion, and the professor wanted to show them how to build water reservoirs and storages , while Mona and Moyo were going to teach them how to plant and harvest nourishment. Moog said that he would visit Mona and Moyo with his monsters as soon as they had new space ships. Then they could help to build houses and streets on the planet Zeta.

In the end Mona, Moyo, and the monsters had such a liking for each other that the farewell was really hard for them. Even some of the monsters wept. When everything was settled, also Rosie and Bertha were crying when they got on board of their space ship.

O, it’s so nice”, Rosie wailed.

Yes”, Bertha sobbed, “as nice as a clean room!”

Or like custard pie with sugar!”

Or a scrubbed loo!”

Or like two pigs shutting up!” Elfrida shouted and they all laughed.

Slowly the space ship mounted into the clear sky of the planet Zeta and they left the desert and their friends behind. On board they felt quite happy when passing the rings of Saturn. Then they flew on through the solar system, passing Jupiter. When they approached Mars with its red surface a homecoming feeling came up, for now the Earth was near. Soon the space ship dived into the atmosphere and they all were once again shaken through when the professor turned the ship and slowly touched down. For a long time they sat with the professor in his lighthouse and talked about their adventures before it was time to go home.

When Elfrida went to bed, quite worn out, Bobble came into her room.

Well, you took your friends back to South America?” he grinned.

South America? O yes, sure”, Elfrida replied. “No problem.”

Then it’s all right”, Bobble said. “Good night!”

Good night, Daddy.”

Elfrida took Dolly into her arms, placed Rudy at her feet and said to the toy dog: “Take good care, you’re on night watch. Should big black monsters enter, don’t be afraid. Let them come in and welcome them politely.”

Then she turned to the side and fell asleep at once.