LucasArts' Secret History #2: Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders A guided tour from the official hint book

Zak is a game rich in things to do and places to visit. The game has many, many interesting puzzles to solve. So many that we suspect without help it will take you over 50 hours to solve the game. If you want to enjoy Zak but feel like you might need some help, then this tour is for you. It will lead you through from beginning to end, showing you one of the many paths to victory. It doesn't always tell you everything, so you'll need to do some thinking. And it doesn't tell you all the things that you can do or might want to try. So don't be afraid to save the game at any point and do some exploring on your own. But if you do stray from the path, you may find you don't have enough money or the right objects to finish the game. If that happens, just go back to an earlier saved game and continue the tour.

OK. Start it up. Good luck, and have fun!

I hate my job.

My name is Zak McKracken. Well, actually, it's Francis Zachary McKracken. Junior. But you can call me Zak. Go right ahead; everybody else does.

I'm a journalist. Well, I'm an investigative reporter. OK, if the truth be known, I work for a sleazy, two-bit slime bucket of a newspaper called The National Inquisitor. I'm the guy that writes those idiotic headlines you sneer at when you're standing in line at the supermarket. I'm the guy that writes the captions for those Artist's Conceptions of Genuine UFOs Sighted in You-Name-It, Nova Scotia. I'm also the guy that gives you the in-depth, tells-all, no-holds-barred interviews, with two-headed squirrels.

That, by the way, is my latest assignment: interviewing some antisocial, probably rabid, two-headed squirrel reported to be residing in a cave near Mount Rainier. To add insult to injury, my boss (I call him Fathead; but not to his face) wants a retrospect on the first modern UFO sighting, which just happens to have occurred 50 years ago in the same general vicinity as the aforementioned two-headed squirrel. Terrific. If it's a good day, I'll only be homicidally assaulted by a rodent AND fall off a mountain. Did you know I'm psychic? Wait, let me concentrate... yes, I see it now... I see the Pulitzer Prize... gently receding into the distance...

Fathead gives me a one-way ticket to Seattle. This is his way of gently hinting that, if I don't get the stories, I might as well not come back. I have not come back from a lot of places in my career, but he always manages to track me down.

So, I take myself home to my tastefully appointed one bedroom, lousy view apartment for a light snack and a good night's sleep. It's going to be a L-O-N-G day tomorrow. Maybe this time I won't have that wacko dream.

No such luck. Long shot of Earth, circled by a glowing yellow energy field. Pan left as the screen fills with a shot of Mars. (Maybe I should've gone into screenwriting?) Now the cuts to that huge Face on Mars staring up into space, and the map in the Face. The big blue guy, and the six-foot ankh. So far, so good. Same old dream.

Whoa! Tonight we get the finale! I think she wants to meet me, "Hi, my name is Zachary..." Hey! Where'd she go? Story of my life. Meet a nice lady, and some bizarre contraption butts in and ruins the whole thing.

NOW what? A pair of nose glasses and a ten-gallon hat? Not BAD! Fathead would love it! Hey, this is my dream. I want to wake up now! Wake up! WAKE UP!

Whew. Even for a tabloid hack, I've got some imagination. How about, "Artist's Conception of Prehistoric Earth, story on page 84"? Now, about that map. First order of business, something to write on. Matchbook cover? Cocktail napkin? Ah, a scrap of wallpaper, just the thing to make my reputation with the guys in the layout department. Next, something to write with... with which to write... whatever.

Rummage in the desk; just my kazoo. Maybe that squirrel's a music lover. I'll take the kazoo anyway. Try the sock drawer in the dresser; an overdue phone bill. This is not my morning. Well, I'd better do something about it. If The Phone Company cuts me off again, Mom'll call in the National Guard when she can't get through. Turn on the answering machine, so Mom can fill up the tape, close those open drawers and... CashCard... CashCard... ah, under the desk, where I can always leave it.

OK, so I'm not manually dextrous. I still have a winning personality. Use the phone bill to scoop up the CashCard, and on to... whoops! I trip on the corner of my rug! That reminds me, I should fix those loose boards under there sometime or I might fall into who-knows-where!

Let's try this again, on to my immaculate living room. No loose change under the couch cushion, but at least I found the remote-control.

Replace the other cushion... well, this may explain why the TV wasn't working (NOTE: write a letter of apology to the cable company). Plug ‘er in, rev up the ol' remote control, and it's time for my morning dose of Lori Amore and the News... Wait! There's the woman from my dream! This may not be such a bad day, after all. I've gotta meet her! Maybe I'll drop by and introduce myself, after I've taken care of the Seattle business. Into the kitchen for some breakfast... I empty the refrigerator of its contents – a single uncooked egg. Well, I wasn't really hungry, anyway. In the cabinet, a box a crayons. Jot down the map while I still remember it... layout is going to be furious with me. Now, out to the street to face a new day.

Maybe I can pick up a croissant or something at the bakery. Persistence finally wins me: one stale loaf of bread, suitable for pounding nails. Like I said, I wasn't hungry anyway.

Now, to pay the phone bill. Hmm. Something familiar about this representative. Big nose, glasses, ten gallon hat. Do you think? Naw. Well, he doesn't look too clever; I'll just hang on to this bill for awhile.

Now, for Seattle. Seems like a shame to wake up that bus driver. Zachary McKracken, this would be a good time to check out that Annie person's place on 14[sup]th[/sup] Avenue. Ah, here it is, "The Society for Ancient Wisdom."

A drop slot, just as promised. Is a kazoo an artifact? Probably not. Maybe Lou's got a little something that would fit the bill.

Lou's a little short on artifacts this morning, but there's plenty of other stuff here that could come in handy. A top investigative reporter has to be prepared. Guitar, wet suit, gold club, tool kit crammed with useful items... shabby hat and a pair of nose glasses. Have I got a terrific idea!

Back to The Phone Company, nattily attired in nose glasses and hat. I could almost be the rep's twin brother! Does he object to a little free-lance keyboarding? Nope... and that takes care of my phone bill. I've always wondered what was behind that door behind the counter... and now I know. I don't know why Fathead sends me out of town; there's plenty of weird stories right here under my very own nose glasses!

Speaking of out of town, I'd better get going before somebody else gets an exclusive on that squirrel. The bus driver is still snoozing... a couple of sharp raps on the door with this nutritious loaf of bread and he's out of dreamland. My nifty disguise doesn't seem to impress this guy, though, so I pay the fare with my CashCard, and presto I'm at the airport.

Maybe if I buy this devotee's book, he'll leave me alone. $42 for a book? Well, now I've got something to read on the plane. I already have the ticket that Fathead gave me, so I head for the gate to the planes. I hope it's a breakfast flight.

Gee, what's bugging the stewardess? Ever since the airlines merged into one mega-airliner, all their employees seem to have an attitude problem. Peanuts? I don't even like peanuts! This is not my idea of a hearty breakfast. Maybe there's a bag lunch in one these bins.

She's awfully quick on her feet, isn't she? This stewardess needs a little something to keep her occupied while I snoop around. Back to the bathroom for the old stuff-the-toilet-paper-in-the-sink-and-flood-the-place ploy. Ring the bell, and hotfoot it forward while she's mopping up. That cushion she used in the demonstration should be straightened. Ah, somebody lost a lighter. I'll just hang onto it until I find the rightful owner. Open a few more bins and... here she comes again. Zak McKracken never says "no" to a challenge. I'll have to do something to distract her for a longer time. I know! I'll use the old blow-up-the-egg-in-the-microwave trick. First the bathroom-sink-flood routine, then race to the microwave oven. Whew! What a smell! Offhand, I'd guess she is NOT enjoying this flight.

Naturally, in the very last bin I check I hit pay dirt. Oxygen tanks are not edible, of course, but I'll take it anyway (I also have a fine collection of motel towels and ashtrays at the office). Finally I exit the plane.*

There's a newsstand in the lobby and I read the headlines as I walk by. I leave the airport and find myself at the foot of Mount Ranier. Ah! The two-headed squirrel! A few classic Zack McKracken penetrating questions, and I'll be on my way home.

This is one hostile squirrel! I suppose I could whomp him with this tree branch I grab, but that might limit the interview possibilities... we'll try the friendly approach, "NICE squirrel, GOOD squirrel... Squirrel want some peanuts? Squirrel want some peanuts?"

Yes, squirrel wants some peanuts. And squirrel does not want to talk to Zak McKracken. When Fathead told me he wanted me to dig up some dirt, I never dreamed he wanted me to dig up some dirt! The right tool for the right job; that's my motto; I knew this gold club would come in handy. Look at the size of my divot!

Oh, great. A pitch-dark cave. I am NOT having a good day. I feel around using the "What is" verb to find out what's in here. Knock down that bird's nest with the branch, assemble said nest and branch in nearby fire pit, and apply lighter.

Now to wrap up the squirrel exposé and make tracks for home.

Somebody ought to explain to this squirrel the importance of good press relations. No problem; I'll just make up the quotes myself, as usual. How much could a two-headed quirrel have to say about himself, anyway? Twice as much as a one-headed squirrel, I guess.

Why would anybody want to scrawl graffiti in a nice unspoiled cave like this? And why leave it half-finished? I'll fix that with my crayon...

...Aha! Exit graffiti. Enter doorway. And I guess I'd better. Enter the doorway, I mean.

Look at that! I think it's an artifact. And I want it. I see a sensor that looks just like the one on my TV. Now to test whether this really is a universal remote control... bingo! Blue crystal, you and I are going to meet a nice lady!

So what happened to the lights? I guess I just snatched the room's only light source.

Back in the airport, I use the reservations terminal to buy a ticket back to San Francisco. A short flight later and I'm back on 14[sup]th[/sup] Avenue. Into the drop slot you go, blue crystal. Now, lessee, shirt tucked in? Shoes tied? Is there time for a haircut? CLOSED PERMANENTLY. Very funny. Almost as funny as that giant bobby pin. Ah! Here she is! Nothing like finding out your very dreams are not your own to perk up a day. Who knows, maybe there's a story in this. Let's give this dream-sharing stuff a whirl. I'll start with one of the coeds on Mars. Leslie gets the message that things are all coming together. Time to do some exploring and figure out why she and Melissa were sent here.

Off to the left; a hostel, a messy pile of sand, a tram, and a monolith. Whoever built this place was thoughtful; all the signs have English translations. Hmm. The monolith sign says a token's a good for a one way trip. Into the hostel for a quick look-see. An air lock! These buttons ought to open and close the doors, but they don't seem to be working. There's probably some kind of master switch behind that panel. Time to bring Melissa into the act.

Melissa reconnoiters the area to the right; the Face. Experimentally, she pushes the lowest button, the only one she can reach. Apart from a nice mellow tone, nothing happens. This'll have to wait.

Back to the Shuttle Bug to pick up some supplies. The Digital Audio Tape plays back just fine in the boom box, but it's write-protected and can't be recorded on. Melissa takes the boom box, then opens the glove compartment and retrieves her own and Leslie's CashCards. With any luck, the builders were thoughtful enough to make provisions for CashCards in that monolith. After a moment's hesitation she removes the Shuttle Bug fuse, too. Can't be too careful; who'd want to come back and find out some Martian had swiped their only way home?

Unsurprisingly, CashCards DO work in the monolith. Mindful of my (Zak's) experiences with Fathead (this dream-sharing stuff is fun!), Melissa buys two tokens for herself, just to be on the safe side. Don't want to get stranded! She drops the token into the tram and it gets returned. Maybe the tram's out of order.

The token gives her another idea, and in the hostel air lock she confirms it... a token works fine as an emergency screwdriver and now the panel's open, revealing a burnt-out fuse. It's the work of a few moments to dispose of the old one and substitute the Shuttle Bug fuse; close the Mars door and open the inner door. She hands over Leslie's CashCard, and, now that the hostel is pressurized, takes off her helmet to conserve her suit's oxygen supply. She's looking forward to seeing what color Leslie's hair is this time.

Leslie doffs and dons her own helmet a few times, until she's satisfied with her hair color. Then she heads for the hostel proper. The first locker she checks holds nothing but a can of chain saw gas; the builder definitely had a weird sense of humor! She has to pull the vinyl tape off the second locker in order to open it; reward: one working flashlight. She has a feeling there'll be plenty of opportunities to use it. Off to the right is a ladder; now they can reach the other buttons Melissa found. Next, check out that mound of covers on the bunk.

After a few moments of perfectly understandable hysteria, Leslie cautiously approaches the dead alien. When it fails to make a threatening move, or any move at all for that matter, she forces herself to pick it up. Something has to be done about that pile of sand outside, after all, and these are special circumstances. Maybe later they can give it a decent burial. Or are dead broom aliens just supposed to be propped up in a closet somewhere?

Back to the air lock, to give the loot to Melissa. For some reason, Melissa doesn't care to handle the dead alien. Squeamish as usual. Close the inner door, put on the helmet, open the outer door, and...

Yow! Melissa, who'd been daydreaming about Fort Lauderdale again, didn't notice that Leslie was depressurizing the air lock. She is now definitely noticing... and distinctly uncomfortable. Quickly, she fumbles on her helmet and breaths a richly oxygenated sigh of relief. She reads her helmet for reassurance. Yep, plenty of oxygen left. Of course, if she were low on oxygen, she could just fill up again in the Shuttle Bug.

Leslie marches back outside and briskly wields the broom alien at the pile of sand. Deducing that the uncovered solar panels probably power the tram, she buys two tokens at the monolith and tries one of them in the tram. It works!

After an exhilarating, if somewhat less than breathtakingly scenic, tram ride, Leslie sets out to investigate the Mars pyramid. Terrific, another pile of sand. She uses the broom alien to sweep it away and...

WELL. That takes care of the decent burial problem.

Lessee here, one gigantic keyhole, and not a key in sight. Maybe Melissa can find something suitable, once she gets into the Face.

Melissa, fully recovered from her brush with suffocation, wends her way back to the Face door. By using the ladder on the door, she can reach all three of the buttons, but a few random pushes convince her that she's getting nowhere fast. It's time for the Earth contingent to get back into the act.

Me again. Zak. About time we got back to me! Let's take a closer look at that book I bought earlier; that guru in Nepal just might have some answers... and you better believe I have some questions! Now I wish I'd joined that frequent flyer program; I've got a feeling I'll be racking up quite a few miles before this is over.

Annie retrieves her CashCard from its hiding place under her desk blotter and meets me at the bus. Ever the gentlemen, I pay her fare to the airport. I hope she doesn't expect me to buy her airline tickets, too.

This is where a travel agent would come in handy; naturally, there are no direct flights to Nepal. Leaving Annie at the San Francisco airport, I try Miami.

Wrong, Zak. Elusive place, Nepal. Hey, would Fathead buy an article on the Bermuda Triangle? One thing at a time... a nice big international airport like London is bound to have lots of connections.

Exit Visa Code... check. You wouldn't believe how humiliating it is to get this wrong, even with five chances, and just don't ask how I know, OK?

What is it with me and people who hang out at airports? OK, bum, here's my CashCard.

He thinks HIS life has no meaning... he ought to try a Day in the Life of Zak McKracken! Here, try this book on for size... you look like a little enlightenment couldn't hurt you.

Nice, a bottle of Old Spitinureye. I hear they use this stuff to thin paint. Better get out of here before that dancing drives me to drink.

Hmmm... seems London is not the big-time hub I thought it was. No matter, at least I've finally got me a ticket to Katmandu.

As long as I'm in England, I might as well take a look around. It'd be a shame to say I only saw the inside of the airport.

One chilly sentry... and I do mean COLD. How about some paint thinner, fella? I'm not your type, eh? I know a woman you might like to meet; just wait right there! Annie skips the Miami leg, and flies straight to London. I slip her the booze, and within moment she and the sentry are pals. Sorry, Annie... it was in a good cause!

Off with the electrified fence, out with the wire cutters from the open tool kit, and now I finally get to see Stonehenge.

Spooky place. Not my style, at all. Annie'd probably like it, though.

I already have my ticket, so on to Katmandu...

Whew! I'm not looking forward to the ride back to the Katmandu airport. Yaks are not equipped with shock absorbers. Or reclining seats. And they are lousy conversationalists. All they do is chew, chew, chew.

We certainly got our money's worth out of that book. Wonder what the guard would think if he knew I only skimmed the Table of Contents?

Let's take a look at the bulletin board. Hm, so the guru has a golfing buddy in Africa, eh? I think I just figured out the next step in my itinerary.

Onward to meet the guru.

I'm not having much luck completing interviews these days... But I stick around until he finishes training me. Now I know what to do with the blue crystal! Zak, old buddy, let's just resist the temptation to try it out on the yak; he's already giving us dirty looks.

That bale of hay must be the yak's lunch... how come everybody gets to eat but me?

Now, what have we over here? A flagpole. A useful-looking flagpole. A flagpole just begging to be picked up and carried away by Zak McKracken.

Dumb move, Zak. Time to call in the reinforcements. Annie! Yoo hoo, Annie! HALP!

When she gets to Katmandu, Annie thoughtfully reads the sign to me. That part I think I figured out already. I smuggle the lighter to Annie and she torches the hay. So, maybe the yak won't get lunch after all. In the confusion, Annie gets me out of the jail cell and I take back my stuff. After all this, I'm not likely to leave the flagpole where it is, so I nab it again and we yak our way back to the airport.

Annie returns the lighter to me. I can see she wants to deliver a few choice words about the distastefulness of committing arson, but she restrains herself. I give her the flagpole for a souvenir.

Next stop, Kinshasa. I hope the guru's golfing buddy doesn't mind folks just dropping in unexpectedly.

I've heard the best way to get through a jungle is to just keep walking and never look back. Here's my chance to try it out.

Well, this guy sure is an avid golfer. Me, I prefer more sedentary sports, so I give him the golf club.

Wow, nice dance. Especially that last, bouncy part. "Unlock the door to the head," eh? Come back with the yellow crystal? What yellow crystal? I write down the part of the dance after the fire appears, recording the order in which the dancers squat. Then, putting two and two together, and coming up with "four" for a change, I dream-share back to Melissa.

Melissa receives my vision of the dance, duplicates the order of the dance finale on the buttons, and CRASH, the door finally opens. She picks up the ladder and enters the Face.

This place is BIG! Melissa names this room the Great Chamber and trudges over to investigate the nearest door. Odds are that crystal sphere has something to do with the door, so she uses the ladder to climb up and gives it a push. Whammo! Now we're getting somewhere. It seems that the sounds coming out of the crystal sphere caused the door to open. Melissa picks up the ladder, walks through the door... and finds herself in darkness.

Flashlight to the rescue. A maze; what fun!

Melissa walks through the first doorway she comes to, and notices it has a purple border. She walks all the way to the left and goes through the blue-bordered doorway. Next, she walks past the yellow doorway and goes through the purple one.

Oh no! Not so much fun! Leslie's the one with the iron nerves; she'd better check this out.

Melissa goes back into the corridor and continues to the left. She goes through the first doorway she comes to, the blue-bordered one. She walks to the right and steps through the doorway on the far right end wall. Hey! That's the map from the dream! And the Sphinx on Earth... obviously this is another place to be checked out. And some strange markings to read... there must be a connection there. Gotta remember that pattern!

Melissa's had enough maze-walking and sets out to find the exit. She walks left and through the purple doorway, left again past the green doorway and through the yellow doorway, left once more and through the door on the far left end wall. Ah, the Great Chamber again.

Time to see what's behind door number two! Uh oh, no crystal. Well, there may be a solution to that problem, assuming door number three is still intact.

And it is. Melissa carefully uses the vinyl tape on the Digital Audio Tape so she can record on it and loads it into the boom box. Ladder on pedestal number three, clamber up to the crystal, boom box on "record", push the crystal and whammo, another door is opened.

A methodical person, Melissa. She returns to door number two to check out her theory. Boom box on "play" and...whammo again... it works.

In through door number two... what, another maze? Nope, there's just the one door at the end. She picks up the ankh and heads back out to check door number three.

On the way to door number three, she finally notices some more strange markings on one of the huge statues, the one that looks kind of Mayan. She reads them carefully – another pattern to remember!

Behind door number three is another long walk to a single door. And there's a giant key; this is going to be a piece of cake!

Yowch. Force field. Nothing is EVER that easy. Ankh shape on the panel... ankh in the hand... well, maybe it isn't so difficult after all. Nice-looking machine; wonder what it does? Push the button and find out.

So, that's what this is all about. "Use these keys"? Easy for you to say, blue guy. Well, at least the golden key is still intact. Better handle it with care!

Back to door number one to wait for Leslie to brave that room with the switches.

Leslie trams back to the landing site. After stopping off at the monolith to buy a couple more tokens, she heads for the Great Chamber, borrows the flashlight back from Melissa, and enters the maze.

She traces Melissa's steps: purple, blue, purple...

Leslie reads the gauges. OK, when in doubt, push a few switches. Check the gauges again. Yup, that did it. Off with the helmet and back to the Great Chamber to give Melissa the good news. Right end doorway, right end doorway, left end doorway... Melissa's happy to remove her helmet too!

And now back to me. And me back to the airport for a ticket to... hmmm... Cairo, I think. They've got a Sphinx somewhere around Cairo, right?

Indeed they do. And, of course, if a Sphinx has two legs, it'll be the second leg that I check that shows any promise. This yellow crayon is proving to be the best friend any reporter ever had... Now, to duplicate the pattern Melissa saw in the Face Map Room... Result? Yet another secret entryway. How DID I guess?

Look, I have enough trouble reading English... you were expecting me to also know hieroglyphics?

Annie jets in front of Katmandu to the rescue. "Again?" she says. Me, I don't know what she's talking about. Anyway, since she knows how to read the signs in this place, I let her negotiate this maze. Woah! She says the first sign is a warning about a sleeping beast! OK, I'll stay here and guard the entrance. I know how much Annie would enjoy exploring this maze. She walks through doors that have a sun symbol over them and finally enters a room looked over by an enigmatic pair of eyes.

More hieroglyphics; Annie's extra credit classes are finally paying off. Press the buttons in the indicated order, and... hmm, a map of the Mars complex. And, what a surprise... more strange markings. She reads the markings and I memorize them – I'm sure I'll need them later.

Annie works her way back to me: through six right end doors, one left end door, and all the way to the left. Back to me safely and no beast in sight. Maybe the warning's just there to scare people. Or maybe...

As I ponder this, Annie borrows my scrap of wallpaper and crayon, and jots down the Mars info. After she returns my stuff, I head back into the desert, on my way to Cairo to plan my next flight.

Er, maybe I ought to check out that pyramid on the left, first? Sure, there's plenty of time. Well, I'm pretty sure there's plenty of time.

If this is another maze, I'm going to call in Annie again! On with the lighter and make with the feet. No problem; this is just like the ones on Mars... dark! Except all I have is a cigarette lighter that gets too hot after a short time. Ah, there's a torch; how convenient! Let's hope the rightful owner of this lighter doesn't turn up for awhile. This looks like another spooky spot that'll mean more to Annie. I hope she appreciates the trouble I took to light the torch for her.

Back to Cairo and another decision. Seems like a good time to cover the Bermuda Triangle; at worst, I'll come up with a few snappy captions. Out of Miami, wasn't it?

A biplane... and I thought the yak was bad. At least the yak didn't tell jokes... and where HAVE I heard the phrase "divine wind" before? I wish I'd stop having these brilliant ideas. Should I use this parachute he gave me or stay on for the ride? I think I'll stay...

So, this is what happens in the Bermuda Triangle. No, thanks, I'll take my chances here. I just remembered what "divine wind" translates to in Japanese! I stay to the right of the red line and watch the biplane leave in a flash. I wonder what happens when I press this button. A doorbell?

Oops. The King!

Who does this guy think he is, anyway? Hmm. I don't like the sounds of his threats. Maybe if I give him something. Now, what would someone who dresses like that want? How about this guitar? I've got no use for it!

I'd say he's got no use for it either. At least he's stopped making dire threats. Home? Sure, I'll go home, but not quite yet. I memorize the order of the button-presses and then check out that strange machine to the right of The King. A Lott-O-Dictor? Ho, I may make a profit on this gig after all. Gotta remember that number!

Back to the color squares... Now, this is the way to travel! A little noisy, mind you, but you can't beat the door-to-bedroom service! I wonder how he knew where I lived?

Off to Lou's to invest in a Lotto ticket. Gee, I hope I win!

Now what? I've got some time to kill before I collect on this Lotto ticket, and I don't want to bug Lou... As I recall, Melissa spotted some Mayan statues on Mars. And one can find Mayan types in Mexico. AND, there's a flight to Mexico City listed on the San Francisco terminal.

Another jungle. This is getting to be a habit.

A Mayan temple. Weren't they the ones that carved the living hearts out of people? Is all this REALLLY that important?

OK, OK, I'm going. My heart's in my mouth anyway; nobody'd find it in the usual place. I quickly walk up the steps to the door at the top of the temple.

I can't tell you how thrilled I am to learn that I finally get to go through a maze of my own. In the dark. Just call me Zak "Sacrificial Lamb" McKracken. Oh, torches. All right, maybe it isn't all that bad,

I walk through the second door from the right end wall, then through the first door to the right, and next through the door on the right end wall. Finally, I walk to the right and go through the first door I come to. Now this is something! A room that doesn't need torches. What do we have here? A familiar-looking Mayan statue and some more strange markings!

This crayon sure is getting a workout. Now I have two, count'em, two yellow crystal shards. And they seem to fit together perfectly. These shards must make up the yellow crystal the Shaman was talking about. Too bad they don't stay together! A little household cement would come in handy right about now. Hmm, how else could I fuse them together? Well, the Shaman said we needed words of power and places of power.

I consider this as I leave the temple: left one door, left one door, left one door, and then through the right end wall door.

Back to Mexico City. Do I want to visit Lima, as long as it's there on the terminal? NAW... oh, well, yeah. If I don't go now, I'll always wonder.

Jungles... why am I always stumbling through jungles?

Swell, a bird feeder. I'm glad I don't have any bread crumbs; I don't like birds. I like fish. You've met my pet, Sushi?

And over here by the stream, we find... an inaccessible carving. Inaccessible to anybody without wings, that is. I may be forced to overcome my revulsion for birds. OK, how to turn my stale bread into crumbs... I know!

Fortunately, there's a direct flight from Lima to San Francisco. Back in my very own kitchen, I adroitly ram that stale bread into the sink. Make sure the water's off or I'd get soggy crumbs! On with the garbage disposal, off with the garbage disposal.

So, where are the bread crumbs? Trapped in the pipe, of course. I wish out my trust monkey wrench and grab my bread crumbs.

While I'm home, I check for any important messages on my machine, then bread crumbs in hand, I speed back to Lima and my rendezvous with a carving and a (shudder) bird.

The bread crumbs in the bird feeder do the trick, and, after using the blue crystal on the bird, I'm airborne. Hey, this mind linking is not bad! In fact, it's downright FUN!

Back to business... that carving. Up close, those eyes look more like caves; let's try the left-hand one. A scroll! Umph... can't read it? Well, of course, a bird can't read it! Deliver this thing to the real me, and I'll take care of everything!

I/we hurry back to my humanoid form and I give me the scroll (weird!). But before I break the mindlink, I want to check out the other eye-cave. Well, it may be fun to fly, but birdhood does tend to limit one's strength. Forget about that candelabra; who's got time for formal dinner parties anyway?

I fly back to Zak, break the mindlink and read the scroll. I know, I know, I have enough trouble with English; I can't read the scroll either. But I bet any could read it... Hey, where'd HE come from? No! Don't take my artifacts!

I know this room! Locked in a cage with an awful noise! How do I get out of here! I'm getting dumber by the minute in here. I realize that's hard to believe, but... uh...

Whew! Free again! Now, what good's a reporter without any verbs? I suppose I could just wander around San Francisco for the rest of my life, a sad example to all who – ah, there's one back. With any luck, I'll be back to normal in no time.

I've gotta get my artifacts back. Well, I know one way in there. Is the rep so stupid that I could walk past with my disguise a second time? Better not chance it. I have a great idea. Into my bedroom and pull back the rug. According to my calculations, that secret room ought to be right below me. I select the right tool, in this case the monkey wrench, and pry up the loose boards. Fully realizing that I ought to use something more unusual, such as knotted-together sheets, I merely fasten the rope to the doorknob and lower myself into the hole. It worked! The cabinet's over here on the left and... yes, I'm back in the artifact business.

I've been thinking... much as I love Sushi, her fishbowl bears an uncanny resemblance to a spacesuit helmet. I haven't quit figured out how to con NASA into giving me a spaceship yet, but it never hurts to be prepared.

Besides, Sushi's probably looking forward to a change of scene from the bedroom to the kitchen sink. Probably.

Back up the rope to transfer Sushi to her new home. Over to Lou's to collect on my Lotto ticket. Wow! That should pay for my plane tickets for a while! To 14[sup]th[/sup] Avenue and there's that bobby pin sign again... wait! A giant lock pick for a giant lock... I'll just, er, liberate the sign with the appropriate tool.

Annie and I review the available flights and meet in London. After reading the scroll, Annie has a brilliant idea, so I surrender the crystal shards to her and agree to wait in the airport.

Annie walks over to Stonehenge and gently deposits the crystal shards on the altar. Then she steps back and intones the words on the scroll.

Wow! That came as a shock! Uncontrolled lightning is NOT what Annie had an mind, but maybe it's worth another try. This time, she props the flagpole in the altar, hoping it will serve as a lightning rod.

And it works... much to Annie's surprise (she says she always knew it would work, but I was dreamsharing with her, and I say she was surprised). Annie delivers the newly fused crystal to me back at the airport and excuses herself to check out the pyramid chamber I found in Cairo. Hope the torch is still lit for her...

I take the yellow crystal to the Shaman in Kinshasa (by way of Cairo), and he teaches me how to use it. Teleportation! Could have its advantages, though I doubt there's a good frequent teleporter plan around. I use the yellow crystal and choose a destination on the map – let's try, oh... the upper left-hand yellow dot.

Darkness. I might have known. There's a door over here, though... ah, I remember this cave. Now that I think of it, I saw a platform of some sort back in that chamber, just before the lights went out.

How about the next dot down? Darkness. So far, I'm 0 for 2. Try the door... heart still in place? Good. There was a platform back there, too, I think.

Next dot down. OHO! Here's my chance to grab that candelabra. And, I see, there's a platform here as well. I look out the window – I think I see that bird still pecking away at my bread crumbs! Lots more dots to hit; this one's for the dot in the middle. Atlantis?

Nothing. Things weren't precisely shipshape on Mars; maybe not all these platforms are working, either. OK, go for the one on the right.

Finally, some new scenery. I bet that base is where I'm supposed to build the Device I keep hearing about! I experimentally pull a few switches. The ones on the back wall don't stay up if I walk away; the one on the left triggers some hitherto hidden stairs.

"Intrepid Reporter Descends to Danger and Death."

Well, Intrepid Reporter Descends to Discover Annie. She was investigating the pyramid room when me and my new stairs appeared.

Annie goes upstairs to take a look around for herself; I resort to the yellow crystal. This time, I make for the Mars Pyramid.

Nothing again. If the next one doesn't work, it's back to cadging a ship from NASA. Come ON, Mars Face!

Whew. "Well, Zal, you're finally on Mars. How does it feel?" Boring. Zak. How do I get out of this room? "Try drawing a diagram on those markings, Zak!" "Thanks, Zak." You're welcome, "Zak."

That's the first interview I've finished since this whole thing started.

I step through the center door and enter the Face maze. This should be easy! I walk through the doorway in the right end wall, and then through the doorway in the left end wall... Melissa! Leslie! Glad to meet you!

Leslie and Melissa put their helmets back on and head for the tram. Confidently, I put on the wet suit, oxygen tank, and Sushi's fish bowl and follow them.

Somewhat less confidently, I immediately return to the Great Chamber.

It occurs to me that maybe I need to seal the space between my improvised helmet and my wet suit. I apply the duct tape to the fish bowl and venture back out onto the surface of Mars. Success! Maybe I could sell this spacesuit design to NASA?

Hmm, not much oxygen in my tank. Better keep a close check on it!

I buy a toke at the monolith, and the coeds and I all quickly pile onto the tram before it leaves. We walk to the pyramid door, and I deftly pick the lock with the bobby pin.

Leslie enters first, because she's got the flashlight. Also, because I pushed her. She finds another not-maze, wand walks through the single door at the far end. Melissa and I, reassured that the coast is clear, follow her.

Leslie's found out she can push the feet on the sarcophagus in and out. While she amuses herself, Melissa borrows the flashlight and explores the rest of the room. I stand around and wonder about the Martian half-life of duct tape.

Melissa discovers a set of stairs at the other end of the room, rhythmically appearing and disappearing. After we convince Leslie to just PUSH the feet, we walk up the stairs to the next room.

White crystal; just what I need to complete my set! A little dream-shared persuasion, and Leslie walks away from the feet so we can approach the crystal.

While I'm trying to pry the white crystal out of the containment device, Melissa unlocks the cabinet on the right, and, before I can warn her not to fool with things she doesn't understand, she pushes the button.

The machine opens. I grab the crystal. I teleport to the Mount Rainier cave, leaving Melissa to dreamshare to Leslie that, yes, once she wanted her to push the feet and then she wanted her to stop pushing them but now she wants her to push them again, please.

I'm missing just one item from the blue guy's contraption, and I've got a good idea where I might find it.

Cross-country flight, Seattle to Miami. I don't even notice whether it's a miserable flight; I'm that pleased with myself.

I'm still looking for a roundish sort of thing, about so big. I think it glows.

Back on the Bermuda Triangle biplane; waste no time waiting for another joke, just use the parachute and bail out.

This is more like it. Peaceful bobbing up and down, not a care in the world, just gazing at the vast expanse of water disturbed by nothing more than a cruising fin... a cruising FIN?

It's probably just a dolphin (it could be a shark)... maybe it's a dolphin (maybe it's a shark)... it could be a dolphin (it's probably a shark).

One way to find out... dolphins like music. Sharks eat people. I'll just play a little something on my kazoo, and if I get eaten, I'll know it wasn't a dolphin.

It wasn't a shark. Time to give the blue crystal another workout and see how the water half lives...

Atlantis! There's the broken teleport platform. Not much else but seaweed. Better hurry or I might get thrown back into that mindbending machine! I push all the seaweed clumps aside... nothing, nothing, something! A roundish sort of thing, about so big. It DOES glow.

Back to the real me, toting the glowing object. I give it to me and end the mindlink.

The real me back to the Cairo pyramid.

My dexterity must be improving; with only a little coaching from Annie, I manage to assemble the contraption, step back and way... absolutely nothing whatsoever.

Annie very quickly suggests that maybe I should throw one of the switches. I was just thinking the same thing.

I throw one of the switches.

Absolutely nothing whatsoever happens.

Annie throws the other switch.

And things start to happen. Wow, is Fathead going to get a great story this time!

*Once on the plane you can exit at any time by pressing the escape key.

No news post