The Lord of the... whatever, Rare Manuscripts:

Steinlob's Lair

It may indeed have been daytime now, as Saddam said, but the hobbits could
see little difference to the right or to the left. It was all of
bleakness. They passed on, Saddam in front and the hobbits now side by
side, desperately seeking to remain in the middle of the road, up the long
ravine between piers and columns of stone, standing like huge poll takers
and spin doctors. There was no sound. Some way ahead, about 1.63
kilometres, perhaps, was a great grey wall, a last upthrusting mass of
consensus building. Deep shadow lay at its feet. Sam sniffed the air.

'Ugh! That smell!' he said. 'It's getting stronger and stronger.'

Presently they were under the shadow, and there in the midst of it they
saw a cave. 'This is the way in,' said Saddam softly. He did not speak its
name: Torch Ungallant, Steinlob's lair.  Out of it came a stench, as if
filth unnameable were piled and hoarded in the dark within.

'Is this the only way, Sméagol?' said Frodo.

'Yes, yes,' he answerred. 'Yes, we must go this way.'

Drawing a deep breath they passed inside. In a few steps they were in
utter and impenetrable dark. The air was still, stagnant, heavy with
ancient political speeches, and sound fell dead. They walked as if it were
a black vapour wrought of ancient cigarette-smoke-filled backrooms.

Saddam had gone in first and seemed to be only a few steps ahead. While
they were still able to give heed to such things, they could hear his
breath ahead, cackling as he skipped lightly on the stones. But after
speech after speech after speech, their senses became duller, both touch
and hearing seemed to grow numb, and they kept on groping, walking, on and
on, mainly by the force of their wills to finally reach the polling booth.

There were other passages to the right and left, some wider, some smaller.
But the middle of the road kept straight, and it did not turn, and still
went steadily up. But how long, how long could they endure against the
recital of heavy industry statistics? The breathlessness of the air was
growing as they climbed; and now they seemed often in the blind dark to
sense some resistance thicker than the foul words. As they thrust forward
they felt things brush against their groins, or against their wallets,
long diatribes against the patriarchial dominance of society.  And still
the stench grew. It grew, until almost it seemed to them that smell was
the only clear sense left to them, and that was their torment. One hour,
two hours, three hours: how many elections had they passed in this
lightless hole? Hours--days, weeks rather. Sam left the tunnel-side and
shrank towards Frodo, and their hands met and clasped, with a momentary

At length Frodo, groping on the left, came suddenly to a void. Almost he
fell sideways into intellectual emptiness. Here was some opening far
larger than they had yet passed; and out of it came a reek so foul, and a
sense of lurking matriarchy so intense, that Frodo reeled. Fighting off
both the sickness and the fear, Frodo gripped Sam's quivering body. 'Up!
Get it up!' he said in a hoarse breath without voice. 'It all comes from
here, the stench and peril. Now for it! Quick!'

Calling up his remaining strength and resolution, he dragged Sam to his
feet for a display of male dominance to quell the lurking feminity. One
inch, two inches, three inches--at last six inches. Maybe their intrinsic
weapons intimidated the darkness. Suddenly it was easier to move, as if
some hostile will for the moment had released them. They struggled on,
weapons still in hand. 

But almost at once they came to a new difficulty. The tunnel forked, or so
it seemed, and in the dark they could not tell which was the more popular
way, the Left, or the Right? 'Which way has Saddam gone?' panted Sam. 'And
why didn't he wait?' he added as a clue slowly wormed its way through his
thick skull. 

'Sméagol Dearest?' said Frodo, trying to call. 'No wire hangars!'

The clue finally lodged into in Sam's brain. 'Dag nabbit! We've been
suckered! Saddam! When your father gets home, you're going to get the
tanning you deserve!'

Presently, groping and fumbling they discovered the Left was blocked by a
heavy political ad blitz. 'This can't be the way,' observed Frodo with his
usual keen grasp of the obvious. 'The electorate has taken a definite turn
to the right.'

'And quick!' Sam panted. 'There's something worse down here! Well, gosh,
if we only had some kind of light to see the way.' Then as he stood,
darkness about him and a blackness of despair and anger in his heart, it
seemed to him that he saw a light: a light in his mind, almost unbearably
bright at first, as a sun-ray to the eyes of one long hidden in a
windowless pit. The blinding white light of stupidity shone on Sam's
visage. [Insert recap of Galadriel's gift to Frodo.]

The bubbling stream of invectives drew nearer, and there was a creaking as
of arthritic knees. A reek came with it, of one bereft or deliberately
avoiding feminine hygiene spray.  'Master! Master!' cried Sam. 'The Lady's
gift! A light to you in dark places she said it to be!'

'D'oh!' muttered Frodo.

Slowly his hand extracted the globe, and he held it aloft with a soft
yellow glow. The darkness receded from it, until it sputtered into

Frodo gazed at wonder at this marvellous gift whose batteries had untimely
died. Swiftly he switched them with another appliance. Be sure to insert
positive terminals in the correct direction he cried, and fumbled the

But other powerbases there are in Middle-earth, powers of the Left and
they are old and strong. And She walked in the darkness had heard the
Dwarves calculate interest rates in the depths of their vaults, and it did
not daunt her. Not far down the tunnel, between them and the opening
where they had reeled and stumbled, he was aware of two great lenses 
growing visible--the coming menace was unmasked at last. 

Frodo and Sam stared horror-stricken, and began slowly to back away. Then
Frodo remembered the halogen bulbs and screwed them into place. The fresh
light of open inquiry into the political process was too much for her.
Frodo and Sam advanced again, holding aloft subpoenas. It was more than
she could take. Whimpering no controlling legal authority she fled into
the dark.

'Master! Master!' cried Sam. 'Let's vamoose!' And so they ran away like
little girls, back to the fork in the road, first walking and then
running; for as they went the floor of the tunnel rose steeply, and with
every stride they climbed higher above the stench of political intrigue.
But still the hatred of the Feminist lurked behind them, blind for a
while, perhaps, but undefeated, still bent on a landslide election. And
now came a flow of air to meet them, cold and thin. The opening, the
tunnel's end, at last was before them. They flung themselves forward; and
then in amazement they staggered, tumbling back. The outlet was blocked
with some barrier, but not of stone: soft and a little yielding it
seemed, and yet strong and impervious.

Frodo examined it closely and saw the strands of a vast money making
apparatus, a web of intrigue weaving money laundering, political action
committees, soft money, and Buddhist temples. Sam tried cutting through it
to no avail. With Sam holding up the light, Frodo quickly scribbled a
political financing reform bill and held it to the barrier. The strands
snapped, broke free, albeit temporarily until they discovered yet another
loophole. But for a moment the web was broken.

'Come!' cried Frodo. 'On! On!' A wild joy at the possibility of a free and
fair election from the very mouth of machine politics suddenly filled his
mind. His head whirled as with a draught of potent wine. He sprang out,
shouting as he came.

It seemed light in that political arena to his eyes that had passed
through radical feminism. The great smoke signals had arisen and the last
hours of a somber election day were passing. Yet it seemed to Frodo that
he looked on a morning of the great white hope. Almost he had reached the
summit of the wall. Only a little higher now. The cleft, Cirith Ungallant,
was before him, a dim notch in the black ridge, and the horns of dilemma
darkling in the sky on either side. A short race, a snap election, and he
would be through!

'The electorate, Sam!' he cried, not heeding the shrillness of his voice.
Sam followed warily. Too little did he or his master know of the craft of
Steinlob. She had many magazines issuing from her lair.

There agelong she had dwelt, an evil thing in woman-form, even such as
once of old had lived in the Land of the New Yorkers in the East that
should be under the Sea, such as Bobby Riggs had fought in the Courts of
Terror, and so came to Billie Jean King at the net in the neonlight long
ago. How Steinlob came from there, flying from ruin first class, no tale
tells, for out of the Seventies few tales have come. But still she was
there, who was there before Sauron, and before the Feminist Studies
Courses; and she served none but herself, drinking the blood of
chauvinists and reactionaries, bloated and grown fat with endless brooding
on her feasts, weaving webs of political intrigue; for all voting things
were her food for thought, and her vomit access. Far and wide her lesser
broods, bastards of miserable mates, her own offspring, that she slew,
spread from sorority to sorority, from the Epaulets to the eastern hills
to Doldrums and the fastness of Ridgemont High. But none could rival her,
Steinlob the Great, last child of Abzugiant to trouble the unhappy world.

Already, years before, Saddam had beheld her, Sméagol who pried into all
the minority party platforms, and in past days he had bowed and worshipped
her. He had held his own sex in utter contempt, crawling before, promising
to get a sex change operation once he had enough money. But her lust was
not his lust. Little she knew of or cared for towers, or mountains, or
large upthrusting emblems of power and dominance, nor for the rings bound
tightly around them, that rigid foundation which held them. She only
desired only the return of the matriarchy with all the males regulated to
breeding farms or cleaning work.

But that desire was still far away, and long she had been hungry, lurking
in her den, while the power of Sauron grew, and no one would attend her
symposia. Only unhappy Orcs had come, pickled in beer and white
lightning, their lips stained with chewing tobacco. But Saddam came, and
promised two tasty tidbits.

'We'll see, we'll see,' he often said to himself, when the pink fluffy
bunny slippers were on him on the long road from Emyn Muil to the Morgul
Vale, 'we'll see.' And then he would stumble in a pot hole. 'She'll strip
them bare before reeducating them, she will. Oh, yess. And I will be the
property clerk. Trust me. Trust me to find the Ring. Yes, Precious, I will
have the Ring. And the girl. And a chicken in every driveway and a car in
every pot. Yes, Precious.'

So he thought in an inner chamber pot of his cunning, which he still hoped
to hide from her, even when he had come again and bowed low before her
while his companions slept.

And as for Sauron: he knew where she lurked. It pleased him that she
should dwell in impotent revolutionary fervor, a more sure watch upon that
ancient path into his land than any other that his skill could devise.
Morgoth had been greater and would have devised his own, but Sauron was
more effective, exploiting what was available rather than spending his
native strength. And Orcs, they were useful slaves, but he had them in
plenty. If now and again Shelob taught them counterrevolutionary tactics,
she was welcome: he could spare them. And sometimes as a man may cast a
dainty to his mother-in-law (his mother-in-law he calls her, but she
owns him not) Sauron would send prisoners that he had no better uses for:
he would have them driven to her hole, and reports brought back to him of
single act plays she produced.

So they both lived, delighting in their own sexual devices, and feared no
wrath, no investigatory committee, nor any grand jury. Never yet had any
conservative escaped from Steinlob's webs, and greater now was her rage
and hunger.

But nothing of bureacratic infighting which they had stirred up against
them did poor Sam know, except that a fear was growing on him, a menace
which he could not see; that campaign spending caps would soon be

Suddenly considering that perhaps Orcs might be in the vicinity of the
border, Sam muttered at Frodo's recklessness. 'Darn fool kid.' He hid
Galadriel's light and wrapped his cloak about him.

Hardly had Sam hid the light of public inquiry when she came. A little way
ahead and to his left he saw suddenly, issuing from a black hole of shadow
under the cliff, the most loathly shape that he had ever held. 'A
miniskirt? With those legs!?' If he had held up the light again, it was
quite possible that Steinlob would run away again. Instead Sam showed his
usual calm rationality and ran off at full tilt into a wall. Steinlob was
now quickly gaining on Frodo with Sam doing a remarkably good
impersonation of the third candidate in a three-party race.

Saddam slung a bucket of fresh mud in Sam's face. 'Sam iss a panssy,'
hissed Saddam. 'Sam wantss to register your gunss.' Sam staggered to his
knees. 'Liberal! Liberal! Pants on fire!' The virulence of Saddam's
mudslinging attack ads took Sam by surprise. He tried desperately to shrug
off the attacks, but the situation was hopeless and he dropped out of the
race. Once out of the glare of the cameras, Sam kneed Saddam in the
groin.  Saddam groaned and fell to the ground. Sam whipped around his
walking stick and hit Saddam again and again. But instead of crying in
pain, Saddam moaned in pleasure. 'Saddam is a bad boy. Spank, Saddam. Yes,
you must spank Saddam! Spank!'

It was difficult for Sam to maintain two coherent thoughts at once. As he
gave into long deferred sadistic desire to beat Saddam into pumpkin pie
pulp, he forgot Steinlob was probably doing the same to his Master.

Draft of Book IV, Chapter Eight / Table of Contents / Draft of Book IV, Chapter Ten
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