Posted in The Disinclined Purveyor of Sequential Art

The Disinclined Purveyor of Sequential Art – Chapter 23

the escapistxmen

Chapter 1 (The Beginning)

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

The three looked at the lamp in the middle of the room. Gary was the first one to break the silence. “Okay we need to replace that bulb.”

“Why?” Andrew asked.

Sharon spoke up now. “We need to recreate whatever it was they were doing in this room, even if it does not make sense.” She had added this last part when Andrew got a confused look on his face.

“Well I got that part covered, this does not make any sense.” Andrew replied.

Gary laughed. “Well this stuff is not really supposed to make sense, this Disruption Field Generator does that, make things that don’t make sense become reality.” Gary stopped and scratched his head for a minute. Then he walked over to the lamp and unscrewed the burnt out light bulb. “Okay I need you too to go to a hardware store or any kind of store and find this exact same light bulb, except no substitutions.”

Sharon grabbed the bulb and examined it, then took out a notepad from her bag and made some notes after quickly looking over the base and top of the bulb. Then she grabbed a bandanna from her bag and wrapped the bulb up while still holding it in her hand. “Don’t want to take any chances.”

“Okay we can find the bulb, I know all the hardware stores in town, in fact I know the owner of the one right around the corner, but where are you going?”

“Back to the comic book store, I have to do some research.”

Sharon nodded her head. Andrew again looked confused. “What type of research?”

“I need to figure out what Gary was thinking about on the day the two of them disappeared.”

The search for the bulb took longer than they thought, first off the hardware store was closed, so they had to convince Andrew friend that it was an emergency for the bulb to be replaced that night. Then the bulb was not on the shelf and they had to go looking through the back room for the exact light bulb. After a hour away from the lab they returned but did not find Gary inside, they waited a half an hour and Sharon was about to call Gary when he came through the door with a box of comic books and DVDs.

“What is in the box?” Andrew asked.

Sharon spoke up from across the room. “I am guessing it is stuff from older Gary’s room, am I right.”

Gary put the box down on one of the cabinet’s in the inner lab. “Yes, yes it is. From what I could tell this was the stuff he was watching or reading when he went missing.”

Andrew pawed through the box. “Yeah Sliders I remember him talking about this show.” He said pulling out several DVD cases.

“And this is what I found on his beside.” Gary held up a trade paperback, ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths”

Sharon spoke up. “Yeah that is about alternate realities of Earth.”

“A similar premise to Sliders, same world different outcomes from same events.” Gary said.

“What about these books?”

“Found these in his bathroom in the magazine rack. ‘Time Scout’ some sort of accident causes doorways to open into the past, and a travel industry grows up around it, Ancient Rome, Victorian England, all can be traveled too.”

The three of them were silent for a few minutes as each of them looked at the items in the box. Then Sharon broke the silence. “So this is what Gary must have been daydreaming about when your Dad was doing his experiment.”

“Yeah I am sure watching water boil was not senior Gary’s idea of a good time.” Andrew said.

“But that does not explain the splitter or the use of two light bulbs.” Sharon said and revealed the replacement light bulb to Gary.

“Ah good you got it.” Gary said.

“Oh yeah by the way you owe me $50.00 Gary.” Andrew said nonchalantly.

“$50.00 dollars, what do you guys have to have it specially made.”

“No the light bulb was only $6.50, but my buddy was very irate about me making him open his dad’s hardware store on a Sunday night, so he made buy $43.50 on a hammer, screw driver and a box of nails.”

Gary was perturbed for a minute, but then he thought about it. “Okay, but I want the hammer and screw driver, you can keep the nails.”

Andrew simply gave him thumbs up sign.

Gary continued. “I am betting, that Gary was playing a joke on my Dad, Dad was probably doing something that distracted him, like putting notes into a notebook, or went out to fill or empty a beaker of water and Gary decided to drive Dad crazy thus the splitter and the two light bulbs.” While he was talking Gar took the bulb gently from Sharon. “Okay here is the plan.” Gary was carefully taking the bulb out of the package and slowly screwed it into the empty socket. After a few twists the bulb light up.

Something changed in the air immediately, it was not something anyone could put their finger on, no noise, no vibration, nothing noticeable, but something did change.

“Okay I don’t know what just happened but let’s go with it.” Gary said. “I will continue doing my father’s experiment, and since you too are more in touch with the fiction in the box, infinite worlds and such, you too start thinking about parallel worlds and wormholes and the like, rifle through the box and get your imagination on.

The two nodded and starting looking at the items in the box. Sharon the Time Scout novels and Andrew started to read the back of the Sliders DVD box set. Gary looked at the chart and placed a beaker of water on one of the hot plates and turned it on. Andrew was the first to notice the change.

“Hey guys look directly over the light.”

Sharon and Gary stopped what they were doing and looked up. There on the ceiling directly over the light a spot of blue light was growing. It shimmered and sparkled, dimmed and brightened, but was growing bigger with each passing second, then after a full minute when the blue light almost filled the ceiling, it seemed to collapse inward. It did not get smaller it just got deeper, that is when the noticed a slight breeze coming from the ceiling as though someone had opened a window.

“What is going on?” Andrew asked in a soft voice.

“I am thinking we are seeing what happened to Gary and my Dad.” Gary looked over towards Sharon who was reaching into her bag. She grabbed something and turned around. Gary saw that she had a spool of rope or twine and was tying an end to a table leg.

Gary was about to ask her what she was doing when he noticed the breeze coming from the vortex was getting stronger, he looked up and saw, that the light was starting to swirl around in a clockwise direction.

Sharon came over to him and made a loop with the string and placed it around the belt loop of his jeans, Gary looked at her confused. She spoke up. “It is military grade 550 cord, able to hold about 550 pounds, so if something starts to suck us up instead of blow down, we are anchored. Gary looked at her with a bit of suspicion. “Remember I said my Dad was an electrician among other things.” Gary mutely nodded his head and Sharon finished her knot. “Well the other thing was and Adventurer specializing in Alternate Dimensions and other weird and crazy stuff.”

Gary just shrugged and looked back up at the ceiling than back at Sharon. “Okay.”

Sharon smiled while quickly walking to spool away from Gary and over towards Andrew where she performed the same knotting of the belt loop.

By this time the spinning of, Gary guessed he could call it a vortex was moving faster than a blender set to puree, it made him dizzy so he looked down, this helped but he could still see it spinning in his peripheral vision. He noticed the wind, it could be called a wind now and not a breeze was coming down mostly along the edges, he inched closer to the lamp in the center of the room and noticed the strength decreasing. Almost like the eye of a hurricane he thought. “Hey guys move closer to the center, the wind is less intense here.”

As his two friends moved closer to the table something hit Gary firmly on top of his head. “Ow.” He said more out of surprise than pain.

Andrew reached down and picked something off the floor. “Hey a wallet, this wallet just fell out of that thing.” He said motioning up with his left while holding the wallet with his right.

It was right then that Sharon pulled open a Velcro closed compartment of her bag and pulled out a short sword.”

“Hey what are you doing with a gladius? Andrew asked. “And can I get one.”

“Ah honey, what are you doing with that sword?”

“It is called a gladius; it was the sword of the ancient Roman soldiers.” Andrew added the geek it him coming out.

Sharon put the sword down and was tying up her long blonde hair into a ponytail. “Just being prepared dear, you never know what may come out of an inter-dimensional wormhole thingy.” She motioned above her head.

“Yes, like this wallet.” Andrew said interrupting.

Sharon continued. “It is good to be ready for just about anything.”

“After this is over we are going to have a long talk.”

“Okay.” Sharon said smiling.

“Hey Gary, I think this is your father’s wallet.” Andrew said with the wallet open, he handed it over to Gary.

Sure enough it was his father’s wallet, his driver license, two credit cards, and a several pictures of Gary, going from kindergarten to high school. Gary looked up and Sharon and Andrew were looking at him. “It is his, we are on the right track guys.” It was just as he said the last part a pair of shoes came falling out of the vortex. Gary picked them up, a pair of red Chuck Taylor high tops, tied together.

“Those are Gary’s, older Gary’s I mean.” Andrew said picking them up.

Sharon looked over the shoes. “Did he usually tie them with rawhide strings?”

Andrew looked over the strings. “Ah no, just normal white strings…”

Gary did not hear what the rest of his statement was, because they were drenched with what must have been hundreds of gallons of water. Sharon was knocked over and Gary was hit with somethings that were definitely harder than water. Gary helped Sharon back to her feet, and she was licking her lips. “Salt water.” She stated.

“What kind of fish are these?” Andrew said holding up a fish and just as quickly dropped it when it squirmed out of his hands.

Gary looked at the fish, they were a bright orange, not orange like a gold fish more like the color of a brand new construction cone but it was like nothing he had ever seen before.

“The wind is picking up even more.” Sharon shouted.

The things falling out had distracted him and now he looked around and saw the wind was blowing enough to make the three be buffeted around, even in the center of the room. It was then that the lightning started, it was like the vortex, blue and restricted itself to the vortex, somewhere past the roof line.

“Hey no thunder.” Sharon shouted.

Gary nodded and looked straight up into the vortex. He saw a black spot, getting bigger and bigger. “I think something else is coming in guys.” He pointed up.

Sharon and Andrew looked up. Gary followed the spot, and it continued to get bigger and bigger. The spot did not go in circles as he had guessed it would, but seemed to jink back and forth far up inside the vortex, and it was definitely getting closer. All three gasped at the same time.

“It’s a person.”

The speed at which the person was coming was closing faster and faster but due to the bright blue light of the vortex all they could make out was a figure who seemed to be straddling something.

“Guys we should step back.” This was Sharon who started pulling the other two back toward the door to the lab.

Gary fought her. “That could be my Dad.” He said struggling with her.

“Yeah it could but I am sure he does not want to fall on you, I mean his wallet already did.”

“She is right dude.” Andrew said helping Sharon pull on Gary’s arm.

Gary had kept his eyes on the figure coming down from the interior of the vortex, he yelled. “Dad, Dad I am here.”

Behind his back Sharon and Andrew looked at each other with the message between them hoping it was Gary’s father, but Sharon carefully released the locking mechanism on the sheath of the short sword so she could quickly react.

The figure was close now and Gary shouted again. “Dad, Dad down here.”

At that point the figure turned and looked down. It was then the figure did some sort of twist and then came rapidly down. Unfortunately he misjudged and landed with a heavy thud on the table in the middle of the lab, right on top of the lamp and the momentum carried him off the table. In a split second everything stopped, the wind cut off, the vortex disappeared and the ceiling of the room reappeared solid and whole. The figure seemed to be struggling with something on the far side of the table. Sharon held onto Gary as he was about to rush into the room, but after a half second Gary caught himself. The person stood up behind the table, and hefted what could only be described as a huge saddle onto the table, the figure was in a dark green cloak, shirt and pants he was also wearing a pair of dark goggles and a cloth wrapped around his head. He looked around the room then he saw the door and the three of them standing in it. “Gary?”

“Dad?”

The figure unwrapped his scarf from around his head and removed his goggles.

“Dad.” Gary screamed and ran into the room that is when he reached the end of the tether Sharon had tied, he stopped and almost fell. Sharon without being told unsheathed the gladius and cut the cord holding the three of them together.

By this point Gary’s father had come around the table and the two of them hugged.

“So your name is Sharon?”

“Yes sir.”

“I am so glad to meet you, you seem pretty quick with that sword, you seem to be prepared more than most.”

“Family trait, family training.” Sharon said modestly.

“Andrew I am glad to see you to, I am glad you came back from your Army training safe and sound.”

“Yes, sir a couple of weeks now and I am glad to see you and all but I don’t need to be nosy, but where is Gary, older Gary I mean.”

The room got silent as the other three sets of eyes looked intently at Mr. Donnelly, he paused and he took a breath. “We got separated a couple of weeks back, I am not sure exactly where he is now but I do know he is alive.”

“How Mr. Donnelly?” Andrew asked quickly and he saw he had beaten the other two to the punch.

Mr. Donnelly held up a his left wrist and showed them a silver bracelet handcrafted with three glowing stones set into the bracelet. “During our travels a craftsman made these for us, it shows the wearer that the other people in his traveling group are healthy and alive.”

“So who are the other two stones for?”

“That is a very long story son and there will be time later for it, but right now where is that lamp.” The four saw the lamp, crushed and broken lying on the floor. “That is a problem.” Mr. Donnelly said.

Well folks that is the end of the story. But due to some feedback I left it open for a continuation. I have written this by a chapter every week for the past 22 weeks (the second posting I placed two chapters in one week) and I have been just hitting the self imposed Saturday deadline by forcing myself to write. This would not have been so hard if I had an outline completed before I started the story, but it just kind of developed as I went. Hope you all liked it, any feedback would be greatly appreciated. I would have done things a little differently but with releasing a chapter a week, you cannot go back and change things otherwise your readers might be confused, heck I am the writer and sometimes I am confused. It is far from perfect and looking back I would go back and edit it, but all in all I am proud of myself for sticking with it and putting out a chapter a week on time and consistently.

I received inspiration for this story from Comic Book Men on AMC, and I thought what if a guy worked in a comic book store who did not want to, but was forced to.

Again feedback would be greatly appreciated, particularly if I was to get someone to do a cover for this book what cover art would you suggest.

What next, stay tuned.

Your friend out here on the web A.A.

Posted in The Disinclined Purveyor of Sequential Art

The Disinclined Purveyor of Sequential Art – Chapter 22

GreenHornet3its-a-wonderful-life-graphic-novel Referred to a part played by Kevin Smith this week so I threw up one of his comic books, and also stole a line from Jimmy Stewart’s character.

Chapter 1

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

The door slide open to the right, quickly, and a bright white light shown out of the room.

“You first.” Stuckey said motioning with a little nod towards the open door.
Gary took a step holding up his hand to shield his eyes from the light, he took another step and looked down towards the floor. He could feel a few degrees of heat difference from the exterior lab to the interior lab. His eyes slowly adjusted and he started to make out shapes in the room, a couple of tables around the walls, and slowly he noted there was a table in the middle of the room where all the light was coming from. There was the lamp. The one his uncle had had and had most likely allowed the peculiar experiment that had allowed his father to create a woman when he was in high school. It stood in the middle of the center table in the room with not one light bulb in it as his uncle had described but now it had a splitter device which allowed two bulbs to be operating but now the fluorescent bulb was burnt out.

Gary looked around the room now, no bodies. No piles of dust, powder or scattering of ashes on the floor; no puddles of goo, sludge, slush or goop that might have been his father at one time. No evidence that his father was in the room at all.

“They are not here.” Stuckey said from the doorway.

“Nope does not look like it.” Gary said happily.

Stuckey motioned and a second later his goon Jack Gable entered the room, he like Gary shaded his eyes at first.

Gary scanned the room quickly trying to decide if there was anything he could get a look at before Gable’s eyes could adjust to the light in the room. Nothing, no computer, no hard drives, not even a printer or scanner. He did note a several large white boards in the room with his father’s precise writing on it, a couple of rows and columns on each with the same numbers repeated over and over again. By now Gable had more or less become accustomed to the light and was looking around as well. Stuckey was still standing in the door way for some reason he was unwilling to come into the lab, Gary wondered why that was.

“Nothing in here Mr. Stuckey, just this lamp, three hot plates, a bunch of beakers of water and a big white board.”

“I can see all that you dummy, I am looking for a computer, a hard drive something that this idiot’s father was using to create me an artificial woman.”

“Nothing like that Mr. Stuckey.”

“You two get in there.” Stuckey’s voice commanded.

Gary watched as Stuckey moved away from the door and Sharon and Andrew entered the room, again with the shading of the eyes, looking down at the floor until their eyes grew accustomed to the un-shaded light coming from the middle of the room.

Stuckey’s voice commanded from the exterior. “Look in those boxes on the table, to your right.”

Gary had not noted the small boxes but Gable was closer to them and started examining them. “Just a bunch of light bulbs boss.”

Gary heard Stuckey swear.

“This is it, heck I was expecting bubbling test tubes, and electric Jacob ladders, and a little guy with bad posture yelling ‘Master, Master’.” Andrew stated with his hands on his hip.

“Gary’s dad is a computer geek not a mad scientist.” Sharon said as she came around the room to where Gary was.

“Well in that case I how about something like the set up from the bridge of the Enterprise or at least something like the Warlock’s Command Center at least.” Andrew said picking up a thermometer that was lying on the table.

Stuckey spoke from the doorway. “As was I Mr. Harlan, but it seems that the elder Mr. Donnelly had his secrets as well, this place” and he motioned around the room “is not what I was expecting, no he and his friend somehow skipped out of town and took the research with them.”

“I thought you said my father could not have possibly left town.” Gary said from across the room. “I thought your investigators stated he was still here?”

“Obviously your father was smart enough not to leave a trail. But I will find him, I am motivated, I have a lot of money and when I get your father’s invention I will be making a lot more. But for now, I will leave traveling wherever I need to go to track him down.”

Gary leaned against a wall now and waved. “Well, see you later you warped frustrated old man.”

“Warped and frustrated huh. Well that may be true, but at least I am not stuck running a crappy little comic book store in a crappy little town.”

“Hey, Montana is not a crappy little town.” Andrew blurted out defending his home.

“Ahh such a witty comeback.” Stuckey said waving his hand dismissively, he turned to Gable. “Let us go, call the hotel and have them check me out I do not want to spend another night in this backwater town.” With that Stuckey left without another word.

Sharon turned and smiled at Gary. “Did you just quote ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’?”

Gary smiled and reached out for her pulled her close and kissed.

Andrew spoke up. “Hate to ruin the moment you two but do you really think he is gone, all that work, all those threats and he just walks away?”

Sharon spoke up. “Well this place is a dead end as far as he knows; he knows we don’t know anything more than what he knows, as far as he knows, so yeah he is gone.”

“You know I think she may be right you know.” Gary said teasing her.

Sharon punched him on the arm. “Don’t make fun of me.” Sharon kissed gave him a quick kiss and stepped back. “What do you think your father was doing in here?”

“I don’t know, give me a minute,” he saw Andrew about to touch the lamp on the center table. “Don’t touch that, let’s just leave everything alone for a minute and look around.

Andrew pulled his hand away from the pull cord. “Sorry, but this thing is awful bright, and really not necessary, the overhead lights in here should provide enough light.”

It was then that Gary noted the ceiling lights, one row of fluorescent lights around the exterior walls of the room, each of them lite. Andrew was right; they would provide more than enough light even in this enclosed space. The walls were painted white as well, so even without the center light off it there would be plenty of light.

Sharon was turned and facing the white board now, and spoke up. “Whatever your father was doing he did not label his work.”

Gary turned and looked at the board.

The first row, read, 40, 60, 75, 100, 75, 150, 200. The second and fourth and sixth rows were all 2.5. The third row read 2,11,18,20, 23, 26, 42, and 68. The fifth row was 6, 6.5, 7, 9.5, 10, 12, and 17. The last row only had two of the spaces filled in though not going all the way down just two spaces filled in.

Sharon had been looking at the numbers as well but then saw something under the center table and bent to retrieve it. “Hey guys look a red dry marker.”

“Just like the color on the board.” Gary stated then looked around. The other two markers were on the tray on the white board. “Hmm, my father is usually very neat I wonder why that was there.”

It was then that Andrew spoke up. “Hey guys, something is wrong with this light.” Gary turned and looked at him, he was not touching the lamp but his hands were close to the exposed bulbs. “No heat, this thing has been plugged in for what a couple of months, heck we know it has been on for the last fifteen minutes at least, but no heat.” Andrew pulled his hands away and backed away from the center table.

Gary walked to the center of the room and carefully reached out his hand, no heat at all.

“Weird right?”

“Yeah weird covers it, that one large spotlight bulb should be putting off all kinds of heat.” Gary said motioning to the one bulb.

Sharon was looking at the white board then around the room finally she walked to the boxes, and looked at the light bulbs. “I know what some of the numbers mean.”

Both Andrew and Gary responded. “What.”

Sharon laughed. “The rows with different numbers refer to the different watts of light bulbs.”

Gary came over and looked sure enough there was a bulb labeled with watts corresponding to the written numbers. He examined the bulbs further. “Yep, three rows, incandescent, fluorescent and L.E.D. bulbs.”

“But what do the other numbers mean?” Andrew asked, referring to the 2.5 columns.

Sharon spoke up now she was looking at the hot plates. “I think he was seeing if,” and she plugged in a hot plate and put a beaker of water on the plate. “the wattage of the bulb had any change on the boiling time of the water.” She said while looking at her watch.

“Why?” Andrew asked.

Gary was leaning against the table watching the water in the beaker. “I think he was seeing if the different wattages would affect the basic laws of physics, to see if it warped how long it took this water came to a boil, with the wattage of the bulb being the only variable in this room.”

“Well it looked like it failed, no change.” Andrew said motioning to all the 2.5 numbers alongside all the different wattages.

“So how come he did not finish?” Sharon said, pointing to the five empty spaces.

“My father would have finished the experiment even if he was convinced the results would not change, he would have gotten all the data he could.”

Sharon got a strange look on her face. “Then why is that splitter in the lamp, it’s an adapter, your father was only testing one bulb at a time.”

Gary scratched his chin. The room got quite for a bit, then their eyes were drawn to the water in the beaker, it was boiling. Sharon looked at her watch. “Two and a half minutes almost exactly.”

“Did anyone see a notebook?” Gary asked. The other two looked around and shook their heads and looked around the lab some more. “My father would have had a plan, I am sure this was his first test, something incredibly basic, something easy to set up. But he would have had further plans laid out, advancing in complexity, trying to figure this thing out.” Gary said pointing towards the lamp.

Sharon walked over closer to the lamp, and felt the cord following it along, till she came to a turn switch in the cord, she stopped and looked at it then back at the lamp, paying very close attention to the adapter. “Guys there is something wrong here.”

“What?” Gary said and both he and Andrew came around to Sharon’s side.

“Well this lamp is turned on by this switch,” Picking up the cord and showing them. “also that is not only an on/off cord that is a rheostat pull cord on that adapter.” Blank looks from the guys, Sharon remembered they did not come from a family of electricians. “It means that bulb may not be on its highest setting right now, or it may be on its highest with the possibility of the bulbs being dimmer.”

“So, it could be brighter or dimmer, dimmer would be nice.” Andrew said reaching for the cord. Sharon grabbed his hand. “Not yet, let us think about this for a minute.

“Let us sum up what we know for sure,” Gary said walking over to the blank white board, he had the red marker in his hand.

“Gary and my Dad are missing.” He wrote this on the board.

“The last place we are certain my father was, was here doing this experiment.” The other two nodded, Gary wrote ‘Last place here.’, on the board.

Sharon spoke up now. “Experiment unfinished.” Gary nodded and wrote this on the board.

Andrew spoke up. “No heat from the lamp.” Gary wrote ‘no heat’.

Gary wrote something, ‘Two bulbs now, one burnt out.’ The other two nodded. Gary was about to cap the pen. “Anything else we know for sure?” The room got quiet for a minute, everyone looking at the board then around the room, Sharon and Andrew shook their heads, so Gary capped the pen.

“Wait a minute,” Andrew said as he snapped his fingers. “we know the last place your father was, was here, but we don’t know if this is the place older Gary was, would he have been here as well.”
“Maybe, my father might have brought him along, or maybe Gary could have joined him here.”

Sharon spoke up now. “You once said Gary, your god-father was the one with all the crazy ideas right?”

“Yeah, all the stories I have ever heard the start out with ‘Gary had this idea..’.” Gary answered her.

“Well all these weird and crazy things happened when people were trying to invent things right, scientists in labs, inventors in their garages right.”

“Yeah that sums up all the incidents in the files, someone trying something out, discovering something or creating something, weather it was time travel, or that goo that defied entropy, or downloading a computer into a person’s head.” Gary answered.

Sharon was excited now. “Would you say your father was an inventor, a dreamer, or the creative type.”

Gary was trying to think where she was going. “No, he just made existing products better, he really did not have much of an imagination, sure he was smart and scientific but not a dreamer more of a tinkerer.”

Sharon turned towards Andrew. “You knew older Gary, was he a dreamer, did he have a big imagination.”

“Yeah I would say so, he loved getting into crazy conversations at the comic book store, always asking ‘what if’ type scenarios, then coming up with three of four of them on his own.” Andrew said, but stopped when Sharon held up her hand.

“Do you guys see what happened here?” Sharon said as if it was the plainest thing imaginable. Gary looked at Andrew, Andrew looked back both of them puzzled and then looked at Sharon.

“Every time something weird happened it was to someone with a deep knowledge of science and also the imagination to invent something fantastic. But with your father and Gary, it took two of them together to create their ‘real woman’. Your father with the science and Gary with the imagination, the two of them had to be together to get the Disruption Field to activate.”

“Okay say that is true, it takes imagination and scientific knowledge to make this thing work, that does not answer the question of where they are.”

The three of them turned and toward the lamp sitting on the table.

[Comment by A.A.: Sorry about the descriptions of the white board, WordPress was being difficult with the spacing so I could not get it laid out properly when I published it, so I had to make due with the paragraph describing the rows and columns of numbers. Also I had to change one light bulb to be burnt out for reasons of the story which will be revealed later.]

Chapter 23

Posted in The Disinclined Purveyor of Sequential Art

The Disinclined Purveyor of Sequential Art – Chapter 21.

Tried a new way of posting the image.

Chapter 1

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

“How long have I been asleep?”

“About two hours.” Gary said holding up a cup of coffee from the kitchen.

Sharon shook her head. “Too much caffeine last night, I will get a shower, some clean clothes and I will be ready for the day.”

“Good we got three more places to check out.”

“Three, I thought there was five places to check out?” She said stretching and yawning.

“Andrew checked out two on his way back from dropping off Jimmy, Clark and Bruce.” Andrew responded, yawning now. He called this next part towards her back as she started to walk down the hall. “Oh and I finally got a hold of my uncle.”

“You did?” Sharon said turning quickly and coming back to the kitchen.

“Yep, and I think I know something about the Disruption Field.”

“You do,” Sharon was almost jumping up and down. “Tell me already.”

“Well my uncle responded to a letter that my father wrote him. My uncle was surly and rude, but he told me all about it. My father asked him all about things that he might have had or given away and or gotten when my father was in high school.”

“And?”

“He knew exactly what it was, and it matches up perfectly with the invention.”

“Well what is it?” Sharon said excitedly.

“It’s a lamp.”

“A lamp, like a pull the string the light comes on.”

“Yeah but it was made out a world war two one mortar shell.”

This stopped Sharon cold. “A mortar shell?”

“Yeah one of those homemade jobs, something like you would make in shop class, wood base, mount the shell, run a cord thru it and put a socket on it and you got yourself a lamp.”

“Did you uncle make it?”

“No he said he won it in a poker game from some guy that came from Hill Valley”

“What, you mean the place with the time machine report.” Sharon asked referring to the The Enigmatic Findings Group report.

“Yeah.” Gary said shaking his head.

“Then what happened to the lamp?”

“My uncle lost in a bet to a guy going back to college, something about smashing beer cans with his head, full ones.”

Sharon laughed. “Now I know why you uncle is the prop master for professional wrestlers.”

Gary just shook his head.

“So your father was looking for this lamp made out of a mortar shell.”

“Yeah looks that way, I wonder if he found it, but more importantly I wonder if it will be in his lab?” Sharon shrugged her shoulders in response, then kissed Gary quick and headed off to the bathroom.

The three of them climbed back into Gary’s truck, only two places left to look for the lab, this one had turned out to be a bust, nothing but an empty building with lots of trash strewn about.

“I got a good feeling about this next place.” Andrew said motioning for Gary to take a right up ahead.

“That is what you said about the last place.” Gary responded.

“Well yeah but I like the name of this owner ‘Szigeti Mate Limited’ what do you think are they a dating service?”

“Well they could help you out.” Sharon said laughing.

“What is that supposed to mean, I’ll have you know Bobbie sent me a text last night, I think we might try and reconcile.”

Sharon was about to protest when Gary slammed his hand onto the dashboard. “Szigeti, Sziegti was the name of one of Nikola Tesla’s best friends. My Dad was crazy about Tesla.”

“See I told you I had a good feeling about this next place.”

Sharon rolled her eyes and looked over the map. “Okay boys if you really think this is the place we should really be careful, I am betting Gable is going to be hanging around the place, waiting to see if we find this place on our own.”

“That is a little far-fetched don’t you think. I mean Stuckey said we had till seven p.m. tonight.”

Gary spoke up. “He stated he has a lot of money tied up in this project, I am betting he is hedging his bets.”

Fifteen minutes later they arrived at the address. They had walked the last block looking for Jack Gable’s dark mini-van was nowhere to be seen. After walking past the address once on the far side of the street they crossed and came back to the old brick building which sat alone, no windows, and only two doors, one in the front and the other along a gravel driveway on the side of the building.

“I know what this place used to be.” Andrew stated.

They were a few doors down and walking towards it. “What?”

“It used to be an old telephone switching building.”

Sharon looked at him. “How do you know that?”

“I did a report on changing technology when I was in high school. This building used to be full of mechanical switches that was how they connect one phone to another. But with the advent of the computer, all the mechanical switches were done away with, so these buildings required less and less space, what used to take a building this size now fits in a simple table top computer.”

“Wow, I am impressed.” Gary said as they arrived at the door. He had pulled out the keys and was looking at them, it took two tries from the five keys on the ring to find the right one, they opened the door and peered in. There were lights on, and Gary took a deep breath and entered the building.

It was a bit like he expected from Stuckey’s description, big room, cement floor and walls, lite with fluorescent lights surrounding a smaller room made out of concrete blocks and painted white. The three of them walked around the perimeter of the smaller building carefully, and when they got to the back side opposite the front of the building they found door. It was a metal sliding door recessed into the wall, with no other openings, along the wall where the door was a row of work benches mounted along the exterior wall.

Sharon started going thru the boxes containing files. While Gary and Andrew looked closer at the door.

“EFG files.” Sharon announced after looking into a couple.

“Old computer,” Gary announced. “I wonder if this is the same model my father had when he was a kid.”

Andrew nodded. “Maybe, that is why he used it, he knew it very well, and any new hacker would first have to figure out the antiquated operating system before he could even begin to hack it.”

Sharon came over and joined the boys around the computer. Gary was looking at a laminated card that was flipped over the screen. “Here is the warning Stuckey said was here,” he continued to read it, flipped it over and noted the opposite side was blank. He flipped it over and laid it on top of the old computer monitor.

“Green on black computer screen, I have not seen one of these since elementary school dude.” Andrew said as he brushed some dust off the monitor.

Gary read the screen out loud. “Enter with each question with one key stoke only, Y, N, O, F or 1, 2,3,4,5, 6. The only person that should know all answers is my son Gary. Hit the number 1 if you are Gary.”

Gary looked around at his two companions. “Are we ready to start guys?”

Gary looked at Sharon first; she nodded her head and smiled. Andrew put his hand on his shoulder and nodded. “Go for it bud.”

Gary took out his hand and hit the 1 key.

A half an hour later the computer showed they were on the last question, it had been relatively straight forward, in fact it had been easy, all the puzzles, all the clues left behind for Gary had been the answers in the computer. The first question had read like this. “Was the puzzle box made of wood?” The simple answer expected by the computer ‘Y’. The next was just as easy. “There were four comic books listed in the smaller envelope left with Andrew’s pull list? Y or N.” The answer of course was N. The computer list went on like this for thirty questions, it even got into the resistor, tap code problem, asking if such and such letter matched what color bands on the resistors, working the problem backwards.

“Okay last question guys.” Gary announced and the other two leaned in closer to the screen and he read the words in green lettering. “Do you have the key? Y or N.”

Gary turned to Sharon before he hit the key. Sharon was already digging around in her bag, and a few seconds later held the key up for everyone to see.

“Hey what key is that?” Andrew asked.

That is when they heard the sneering nasally voice of Mr. Stuckey. “Ah, the key we have been looking for.”

The three of them turned. Mr. Stuckey was flanked by a very large man holding a shotgun and Jack Gable. The shotgun was not pointing at them currently but was held down at the big man’s side.

“How did you know we found the place?” Gary asked as the three came closer.

“Oh I had some video and audio surveillance going, Jack has been waiting in his van for you kids to find it, and when you did he called, I came and brought Jerry here as insurance policy.” He said motioning towards the guy on his right with the shotgun.

Gary thought about running for it, but was unsure if Stuckey or the man with the gun was bluffing.

“You two” He said motioning towards Sharon and Andrew. “Over here where Jerry can keep an eye on you, but first Miss Towner give Gary the key.”

Sharon handed Gary the key, she winked at him as she handed him the key and then walked with Andrew towards the corner Stuckey had pointed out. Gary did not know what the wink meant but he figured Sharon had something planned. Stuckey came over and looked at the screen. “Well are you going to push Y or shall I?”

Holding onto the key with his left hand he hit the ‘Y’ button. That is when the computer started a countdown, from twenty. Gary read the words at the bottom of the screen. “Insert key and turn when the countdown reaches zero.”

“Ah a sort of dead man’s switch, please place the key in the lock Gary.”

Gary looked at his friends who were watching as well, then back at the numbers on the screen.

“While we are still young, young Gary.”

Gary inserted the key and waited for the numbers to reach zero. When he did he turned the key and nothing happened for ten whole seconds. Then he saw a recessed panel next to the door slide back and reveal six differently colored keys, all lite from behind. Gary looked back at the screen. It had gone black.

“That screen has not gone blank in three months; I had a camera pointed at it all this time.” Stuckey said pointing to a corner of the room. Gary saw the lens now up in the rafters. “Boy I hope you know the right keys.”

Gary turned and looked at the keys; he stared at them for a good minute. Nothing came to him. “Guys, I got six buttons here, red, orange, yellow, blue, a darker blue, and purple, any clue.”

Sharon shook her head as did Andrew.

“Is there anything we did not answer yet, something we might have left out?”

Sharon shook her head. Andrew snapped his fingers. “Yea, at the end of the resistor code, once we figured out the words and numbers, which lead us to the library, wasn’t there something else?”

Gary smacked his own forehead. “Yeah there were three colors.”

Stuckey leaned in close to Gary. “Well what were they young man?”

Gary closed his eyes and thought fast. “What happens when I tell you? You going to let us go?”

Stuckey looked at him. “Once this door is open, and I have what I want, then yes you and your friends can go.”

“Okay here goes everything.” Gary reached out and hit the buttons: Red then blue then blue again.

Chapter 22

Posted in The Disinclined Purveyor of Sequential Art

The Disinclined Purveyor of Sequential Art – Chapter 20

crunchingnumbersNumber-Crunchers-1-Cover
A little hint about a minor character introduced this chapter.

Chapter One

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter 20

“There is no need to be rude Gary.”

“I am sorry, but.”

“I would have answered all your questions in time.”

“Yes Mrs. Eastman I realize that but I don’t know if you are aware that a man named Mr. Stuckey is in town.”

Mrs. Eastman held up her hand. “I am very much aware of Mr. Stuckey, he has been using EFG in a search to make money, to obtain one of the inventions or discoveries uncovered by EFG to make him a great deal of money.”

“Yes, I know this obviously my father was in his employment, trying to duplicate what he did in high school.”

“Yes, that is partially true but when I contacted your father, I informed him he was missing a key element in his pursuit.”

Sharon gasped. “You mean you wanted Gary’s father to succeed in making a woman.”

Mrs. Eastman got a disgusted look on her face. “Of course not young lady, and I assure you Mr. Donnelly did not want to succeed either, he stated that chapter in his life was finished, but he was trying to understand the process, your father was a first rate scientist.” She paused for breath. “Your father told me that he was sending Mr. Stuckey somewhat misleading reports.” Mrs. Eastman coughed and motioned for her butler, the man in grey to bring her a glass of water. Once she had taken a sip or two she placed the glass on a coaster and continued. “I informed Mr. Donnelly that there was a missing element, a variable he had not taken into account in his quest to understand his original process. The variable that only someone with a complete understanding of The Enigmatic Findings Group’s entire files could see. Do you understand the classic scientific method?”

Gary nodded his head. “My father taught me all about the scientific method. Define a question, gather information and resources form a hypothesis test the hypothesis controlling as many variables as possible, analyze the data and interpret the data. So what variable from his experiment was he missing? I am sure he was very though, he always was.”
Mrs. Eastman looked over the young man, he had been holding the girl’s hand the entire time except when he was talking, then he would find her hand again without looking for it, he just knew it was going to be there. She smiled; it had been the same with her first husband when they were young. “Your father was not looking, at least not at first, at the entire picture; he was only looking at his one experience. But down thru the years there was something else going on, something that had the laws of physics, biology and computer science bend.”

“You were leading up to this yesterday weren’t you?” Sharon asked, grasping the concept.

Mrs. Eastman just nodded.

“My father believed this as well, that something was bending the rules.” Gary stated.

“Yes, but only after a weekend of reading all the files I gave you he began to believe it.” Mrs. Eastman nodded gravely.

“So what is this thing; that is able to bend the laws of science?”

“That is what your father started to look for right before he disappeared, your father called it several things, but to simplify it he called it a Disruption Field. He realized that if all the events were true, invisibility, time travel, defiance of the laws of entropy, then something had to be disrupting the normal scientific laws in an area.” Sharon and Gary were both leaning forward at this point, and Mrs. Eastman continued. “Your father concluded that the device or item or whatever created the Disruption Field only worked on or around persons with a logical or scientific mindset or thought process otherwise all kinds of strange things would be observed all the time.”

“The two had to work in concert.” Sharon said in questioning tone.

“Well we weren’t really sure, of all the cases we knew about no one had ever mentioned any outside force or motivation, your father did not know of any outside force during his event.”

“So did my father start looking for this Disruption Field Generator?”

“Yes, a week before he disappeared he stated that he had a lead, now your father did not notify me on a regular basis, so when a month passed and no word came from him I was not worried, but at two months, I began to be concerned, but by then you had come to town and I decided to wait and see what would happened, your father stated that he had left some ways for you to contact me.”

Gary was on the edge of his seat. “Do you know where his lab was?”

For the first time Mrs. Eastman looked uncomfortable. “Ah no, your father was very secretive about it, I am sure the only person who knew where the lab was, was Gary your god father.”

“Then how does Stuckey know where it is?”

Sharon answered. “He was looking for it, he was paying the bills, I am sure no matter how through your father he had to order equipment, take deliveries and such, Stuckey was paying the bills, I am sure he figured it out.”

Gary sat back on the couch, and he closed his eyes and rubbed his temples and he looked at Mrs. Eastman with his brow lowered. “Do you think he is dead in the lab?” His voice almost cracked at the end but he took a deep breath and looked at the elderly lady.

Mrs. Eastman pursed her lips, and Gary could tell she was thinking. “Maybe, I am not sure,” she answered slowly. “But if he is, you should find the lab first, and Stuckey should not get your father’s research.”

Gary sat up slowly, holding hands again with Sharon. “Is there anything you can remember maybe a general direction, street name or something that he let slip that could help us find the lab.”
Again the thoughtful pause. “No nothing, I am sorry.”

The room was silent for a few minutes; Mrs. Eastman was the first to break the silence. “He did say something that last time we met though that was a little strange.” Sharon and Gary leaned in again. “He stated he had just received a letter from his brother.”

Gary and Sharon walked to his pickup truck, parked in front of the house now, knowing they did not need to hide the fact that Stuckey knew about their relationship with Mrs. Eastman. Gary came around and opened the door for Sharon; she smiled at him and slid into the truck. A few minutes later Sharon interrupted Gary’s thoughts as they drove back to the shop. “Was it strange for you Uncle and Dad to communicate?”

Gary snorted. “My Father was a geek, a nerd, the only thing he did not have was a pocket protector, whereas my uncle is,” Gary snorted again. “a nut case, his favorite color is camouflage, he got tossed out of the Marine Corp for being too gung ho, I never saw him go more than a half hour without, belching, farting, spitting, or giving someone a painful reminder that he was bigger and stronger than them.” Then Gary’s face softened. “But he was always there for me; he taught me how to ride a bike, even though I ended up in the hospital with a broken arm the first time.” Gary pointed to a place on his left arm just above the wrist.”

“Poor baby.” Sharon said teasing.

Gary laughed. “But he would not let me quit, the next time he came over, and my mom was not around he had the bike back out and made me learn to ride that bike.”

“Harsh.” Sharon stated.

“Yeah, but he was there.”

“So back to the point, your father and uncle, their relationship was strained.”

“More like non-existent, when my father was due to come to town my uncle wasn’t around. I asked my mother about it once, and all she said was it was something I would have to ask them about, I never did.”

They rode in silence for a few minutes. “So are we going to call your uncle when we get back to the store?”

“Oh yeah. I just hope he is somewhere he can take a call, we will have to wait till after midnight due to his job.”

“Why what is his job?”

Gary looked a little embarrassed. “Well, he is kind of in the entertainment industry.”

“Oh so he works at a theater or a concert hall.”

“Something like that.”

Sharon slide over to her boyfriend. “Okay what does he do?”

Gary sighed. “He is the prop master for the International Fighting Federation.”

Sharon laughed, and then tried to suppress herself. “Professional Wrestling, you mean he is the one who hands the stuff to the guys who wrestle on TV, like chairs and garbage cans.”

“Yeah,” Gary said hesitantly. “He is the one who makes the break away tables.”

“You must be so proud; I am surprised you didn’t tell me that the first time we met.” The car ride was quiet for a few minutes, and then Gary snorted while trying to suppress a laugh, the rest of the way back they laughed until they were crying, each egging the other one with a snide comment about wrestling.

The two of them got back to the shop, laughing as they came thru the door. They had noticed all the shades were pulled but all the lights were on. They were surprised when they came through the door. Standing over the table, was Andrew, with about twenty people gathered sitting around the table, all of their heads down either typing on laptops, or talking on their cell phones.

“What is going on?” Gary said. He looked at Andrew.

“Oh well this was Sharon’s idea. Geeks of the world unite to find a geek.”

Gary turned to her, and she nodded. “Well I cannot take all the credit Andrew made sense of my idea.”

Gary turned back towards Andrew, who answered back. “She said we would need an Army of people to find the lab without another clue to its whereabouts, so I started making calls, and these guys came.”

By now Gary had noticed that he knew most of the people, Jimmy, Clark, and all the other regulars.

“Susan and Betty are going thru your father’s schedule for this past summer, Joe is going thru your Dads’ finances for last summer to see if he can see any patterns, don’t worry he is a C.P.A.” Andrew said this last part in a stage whisper. “Well actually he is testing to be a C.P.A. third times a charm right Joe.” Joe motioned from across the table with a thumbs up.

Gary noted the guy who always wore a suit when he came into the store and bought Conan and Thor comic books.

“Clark and Jimmy and the guys with the laptops are going thru public records to determine ownership of buildings in town, correlating and cross checking building permits and tax records to see if they can shake anything loose about where the lab is.”

Gary noted the six guys sitting behind the laptops, occasionally one of them would write something down on a paper and hand it off to a little kid, who could not have been more than ten years old, then after collecting papers he ran over to Andrew. Andrew took the slip of papers and rubbed the kid’s hair in an affectionate manner. “This is Bruce, Clark’s younger brother, he brings me the eliminated areas and I cross off unlikely locations on the map.”

Gary now noted the huge paper maps covering the table. “Wow.” Was all he could say he was shocked and in awe of the work these almost total strangers were doing for him. Sharon hugged him and he hugged her back. He looked around the room and was deeply touched. Then the pragmatist came to the surface and he looked at his watch, and then said in a loud voice. “Brucey, take drink orders and ask everyone what they want on their pizza, my treat.” There was a loud cheer around the table.

Several hours later, and copious and probably dangerous amounts of energy drinks later they had their search location narrowed down to five buildings. Sharon and Gary had been busy all night, feeding their room full of research nerds and occasionally running out to check on a likely building. Their list was down to the final five, having eliminated four other buildings by actually going out and seeing the locations. The trouble was not with the methodology of the search, but the records themselves, not being updated. Some of the buildings had actually been torn down, some were evidently in use by a legitimate and on-going business. One that looked promising at first had upon closer examination from another angle had been actually been turned into apartments, this was discovered when Gary had peeked in through a window and found a Chinese family of four watching and episode of Sanford and Son. By the time they got back to the comic book shop the sun was coming up and Andrew was gathering up all the maps and papers.

“Five locations to check out guys, and I have a good feeling about these ones.”

Gary yawned and stretched, as he looked around the room. Jimmy, Clark and Bruce where still there. Bruce was asleep on the floor. Jimmy and Clark were poking at the leftover pizza. “Do you guys need a ride home?”

Andrew spoke up. “I will take them home in a minute, I need to get out and get some air.” Andrew picked up little Bruce and motioned for the other teenagers to come along. Gary shook their hands and said thanks as they left, each boy said no problem and indicated it had been kind of fun, in fact Clark said it had been cool.

Sharon had gone upstairs and Gary joined her a few minutes later after shutting off the lights. Sharon was asleep in the lazy boy recliner Gary threw a blanket over her and Gary cleaned up the few dishes that were sitting around more to calm down then anything else, then after tidying up for a few minutes he sat down on the couch. Gary been trying to call his uncle all night and he decided to try one more time. The phone was ringing when Andrew came up the stairs, just as he was about to give up he heard a gruff voice say “This had better be important knucklehead.”

Chapter 21

Posted in The Disinclined Purveyor of Sequential Art

The Disinclined Purveyor of Sequential Art – Chapter 19

Green_Goblin_Vol_1_2Green-Arrow-New-52-Comic-Book-Cover Decided to go Green this week, to protect the Earth and all that jazz. (Okay so sue me, it is a lame theme) Typical disclaimer, art work has nothing to do blah, blah blah.

Chapter 1

Last Week’s Chapter

Chapter 19

It was several hours later before Sharon would talk to him again. First she had gone to her room, and then he saw her briefly when she had walked past him to get a shower. Then Sharon had grabbed a muffin from the plastic container filled by Andrew’s mother the previous day, grabbed a file and went back to her room and closed the door. After an hour she came out fully dressed, Gary noted it had coincided with Andrew announcing loudly he was taking a shower. It was then Sharon came out to the living room. Gary put down the file as she approached and she came and sat in his lap without asking, he put his arm around her waist and she positioned her arms around his neck.

“I am sorry I got mad earlier.”

Gary looked her in the eyes. “Why were you mad?”

Sharon sighed. “I guess I was thinking ahead, trying to solve the whole mystery of all this I sometimes forget that the only reason you are searching for answers is to find your father, you don’t really care about the rest of this stuff.” She said motioning to the files spread around.

Gary shrugged. “You are right there; all I care about is finding my father, not about what he got involved with.”

“Well I was mad that you let gave information away,” Sharon stopped and paused, Gary was about to say something when he just nodded. “but you are emotionally involved, deeply, me I never met your father and I was given a glimpse at this great mystery and I want to get to the bottom of all this, to see what is causing all these fantastic things.”

“So you believe all this?”

Sharon gave a half nod. “Yeah I do, you see my father was not just an electrician he was also sort of an adventurer.”

“An adventurer, does that pay well?” Gary said sarcastically.

Sharon frowned and he could feel her stiffen. “Your sarcasm is one of the most unattractive things about you.”

“Sorry.”

“That is okay,” He felt her relax. “I just get defensive, I really love my family, and my father is a really great guy I cannot wait for you meet him.”

Gary did not know how to react to that, so he just nodded.

Sharon realized what she said and tried to cover it up. “I mean if he ever comes up here to pick me up, you know if you happen to be around when he comes around.”

“Of course.” Gary said quickly.

“So what do you think we should try and get out of this Mr. Stuckey.”

“Who is Mr. Stuckey?” Andrew said entering the room.

“Why are you wearing my godfather’s robe dude.”

“That is nothing bud, I plan on wearing opening a sealed package of new underwear I found in his closet and wear them later. So who is Mr. Stuckey?”

It was five minutes till twelve and the three of them were sitting in the comic book store. Sharon had a notepad in front of her, along with a couple of pencils. Andrew was behind the counter and Gary was sitting next to Sharon playing with the reassembled wooden puzzle box where the key had been found.

They saw a limousine pull up in front of the store. No chauffer got out but the back door opened and first out was Jack Gable, sometime since this morning he had evidently showered and put on an ill-fitting suit, he held the door and out of the back seat a smaller man, bald, a little rotund got out of the back of the limousine.

“I am guessing that is Mr. Stuckey.” Andrew stated.

“Do you think he really needs that cane?” Sharon commented, not really expecting an answer.

Gary shrugged. “I don’t care, I just want to know if he knows anything about my father.”

“Big picture baby, if we get some of those details filled in it can’t help but help us find your Dad.” Sharon said reaching over and holding his hand. They had discussed this after Andrew had gone to get dressed, and had agreed that when Mr. Stuckey showed up any details gained would be useful.

“Right you are.”

By now the two men had gotten to the door and Andrew had walked over to unlock the door. They followed him across the shop and Sharon and Gary stood.

“Quaint little shop you have here.” Mr. Stuckey said when he was across the table from the two of them.

Gary nodded. Andrew had joined them on the far side of the table. “Please sit down.” Gary said motioning towards the chairs.

“Of course.” Stuckey sat first with Jack Gable stood behind the older man and slightly towards his left. “Of course you know me as Mr. Stuckey, and you know my employee, Jack, and you are Gary Donnelly son of Wyatt, this lovely lady is Sharon Towner, and this fine man here is Andrew Harlan.”

Gary tried to keep his eyes on Mr. Stuckey but he was distracted by Jack Gable who was staring intently at Sharon, doing the creepy lip licking thing.

“We’ll let me start by first saying that I am a huge admirer of your father, some of the early work he did on his game controller was amazing, too bad Nakatomi corporation did not see it that way and let him go.”

“Ancient history really.”

“Yes of course,” Mr. Stuckey said continuing. “But what is it your father was working on lately, something truly revolutionary I bet.”

“Is that why you are here, Mr. Stuckey to invest in my father’s invention?”

“Well partially, you see several years ago I was an investor, some might have called me a corporate pirate really, go in buy a company and then strip it’s assets, sell if off for parts, making a lot of money in the progress.” Gary could tell this man liked talking about himself. “But alas my business partner and I had a falling out over a pretty woman.” He paused here. Gary watched him play with his cane head which was a silver eagle. “I had some reversal of my fortunes, but coming back from it, I decided to start looking at the creation of true wealth, what if a person could get in on the ground floor of such things as Edison’s light bulb, or Bill Gate’s DOS, why the sky could be the limit.”

“Sure I get that.” Gary said hoping the man would continue.

Stuckey looked at Gary now with eagerness. “But the more I studied the invention process, the more I realized that small inventors that I would be able to get on the ground floor with were few and far between and mostly they worked on small things, bettering the light bulb, making things faster. But then I found a group called The Enigmatic Findings Group founded by Dr. Riley.”

Gary tried not to show any emotion, but this was the same group Mrs. Eastman had said was founded by her first husband. Heck every report had the EFG letterhead.

“I see you have heard of it.” Stuckey said chuckling to himself. “Yes, I know all about Mrs. Eastman’s first husband, in fact using his guidelines and structure I have increased the size of the EFG quite sustainably and I know all about your father and his creation.”

“So where is my father now?” Gary said.

“Oh I don’t know exactly where he is right now, but I do not where his lab is.”

Gary looked at Sharon, then at Andrew.

“You are wondering how I know where his lab is, aren’t you, something Mrs. Eastman does not even know.” Behind Stuckey Jack Gable seemed to be chuckling silently.

“Where is it?” Gary said getting excited now.

“Not yet youngster,” the portly man said shaking his finger, “you see your father was working for me, well not for me, but for a EFG, he has never actually met me, but I have signed all the checks for his work. You see I wanted him to re-create his experiment that brought that virtual reality creature to life back when your dear old dad was in high school.”

“So what happened, where he is.”

Stuckey looked at him sideways now. “That is what I want to know, he stopped sending reports in 6 months ago, all attempts to contact him went unanswered, and all attempts to enter his lab have met with negative results.” The man paused there as if intentionally.

Gary looked at him and slowly asked the question the man had set him up for. “Okay, all attempts to enter his lab, what does that mean?”

Stuckey smiled a rather reptilian smile. “Well it seems your father set up an elaborate security system. If anyone enters, according to the system, without permission, all the data inside will be wiped from the computers and several incendiary devices will destroy the contents of the lab as well.”

“How do you know this?”

Stuckey smiled again. “Well you see the lab is set up inside a building, actually a building within a building. Gaining entrance to the first level is easy enough, just some simple locks, I even have the keys which I will give you.” He looked over his shoulder and motioned for Gable to give Gary the keys. Gable reached into his pocket and slide the keys across the table. Gary did not reach for them he just let them sit there. “But there is only one door to the interior area, and that is wired to computer. On the computer screen is very precise directions for opening the door. First the door must be unlocked with the key, secondarily the questions on the computer must be answered correctly and precisely before another panel opens, in which I imagine will contain the controls to open the door and disable the destruction device.”

Gary leaned back in his chair, his hands reached out and played with the wooden puzzle box.

Andrew spoke up. “I assume you have not tried to hack the computer?”

Stuckey leaned back. “No actually we did try. Gary’s father was quite adept at his programming, and he kept it very simple but complex at the same time. The computer has triple backups for the power, it is wired directly into the power system, no plug to pull and restart the computer, along with some battery backups, trust me young man, I hired some very proficient people to hack that computer and not one of them could even begin to make headway, it is a closed system, with only one way to enter the door that is to put the proper answers in after the key is placed in the lock.”

Sharon spoke now. “So you want Gary to open the door.”

Stuckey smiled. “Precisely.”

“Why do you think Gary can open the door?” Sharon asked.

Stuckey smiled again. “Because the computer has told us only he has the answers to the questions.”

The five of them all looked at Gary now, the room was silent for a few minutes with the only sound coming for Gary turning over the puzzle box several times on the table. Finally without saying another word Gary stood up and placed both hands on the table, taking the keys and placing them in his pocket. “I will let you know in 48 hours if I will open the lab.”

Stuckey looked at him, at first shocked, then gave a little smirk. “You are going to see Mrs. Eastman to see if what I told you is true.” He said it in such a way that it was not a question.

“Yes, I will be seeing her. But I am not sure how your problem with the lab really concern me,” Gary paused for effect. “The only thing I care about is finding my father and his friend, so unless their itinerary for a South American vacation is in the lab I don’t really care about his work for you.”

Stuckey chuckled at this and stood up still chuckling, then he smiled back but a flash of anger crossed his face but regained control. “You father did not leave the country, in fact I know your father never left this town. I had a lot of motivated investigators looking for your father; you know what each one told me, totally independent of each other. Your father never left this town, he is still here somewhere, I personally think he and your namesake had an accident in the lab and when we finally open that door we will find two corpses. But the choice is yours. Come to my hotel tomorrow at 7 pm with the proper answer, if not,” He left that hang in the air as he turned and walked towards the door. “I will open that door and your father’s corpse is going to be a little crispy when it goes to the funeral.”

Gable opened the door for his boss, then turned and looked towards Sharon again; he did the creepy thing with his lips and then followed his boss back to the limousine.

The three friends looked at each other and realized that had not gone anything like they had thought. Gary was the first to speak. “We are going to see Mrs. Eastman tonight.”

The day had passed uneventfully, before they opened the doors at one they had briefly discussed their plans; talk to Mrs. Eastman, try and discover where the lab was and after that figure out if they could get in without Stuckey knowing about it. Gary kept turning over the problem of the computer lock in his head, he wondered what if what Stuckey had said was true, was his Dad really dead in a lab somewhere close by, if so why all the puzzles, why not just send Gary a letter telling him where the lab was, especially if they were doing something dangerous. His Dad was not a risk taker, but his god father was, had Gary finally done something to get them both killed.

As Gary was lost in thought most of the afternoon he did not notice Andrew and Sharon having short intense conversations with some of the regular customers, he also did not notice the
phone kept constantly busy, with either customers using it, or Sharon and Andrew answering it.

An hour before closing Sharon approached Gary. “Lot on your mind boss.”

“Yeah,” He paused. “You don’t think they are dead in that lab do you?”

Sharon took his hands in her and looked at him directly in the eyes. “If your Dad is as half as smart as you are, no way.”

Gary smiled back at her, then kissed her on the lips very softly. “That was exactly what I needed to hear.”

Sharon almost blushed and then got serious for a second. “Hey I have to run and errand, and Andrew is going to run to his house for some clothes as he thinks we should not really split up until we find your father, so he was going to pack a bag for tonight. So we were going to combine the trip.” She took a breath. “You okay to lock up the place by yourself?”

He glanced around. “I think I can handle it. Try and get back here before too long, I want to get to Mrs. Eastman’s tonight before it gets too late.” They kissed again and then Sharon and Andrew grabbed their coats and went out the door.

Chapter 20

Posted in The Disinclined Purveyor of Sequential Art

The Disinclined Purveyor of Sequential Art – Chapter 18

fantastic_novels_Bmadscientistjpg Again, no real tie in to the story. Just some old covers I dug up.

Back to the beginning Chapter 1

Back to last week. Chapter 17

Chapter 18

They stood in line at the in front of the old theatre shuffling from one foot to the other trying to defeat the bitter cold. The crowd was not that large but the theater was not open yet even though all the people in line had their tickets already. The movie theatre was an old fashioned a one screen movie house and Gary had initially looked at it skeptically but Andrew had said trust him, this was the best place to see a big action flick and this Justice League movie was just that.

As they stood in line Sharon leaned in close to him, they had spent the entire afternoon in the apartment, keeping the shop closed. They had initially systematically tried to go thru the files, but when Gary had wanted to concentrate exclusively on the file about his father and Sharon had wanted to work thru the files chronologically and Andrew had started following along with Sharon chronologically but then had gone off on a tangent with a report of time travel, it was not long before the apartment was strewn with files laying on top of any flat surface that could hold one.

Gary was the one who had surprisingly called a halt to the file reading and declared they had to leave if they were going to join the customers from the comic book store at the movies. They had just made it in time for the box office to open and then for them to stand around talking to the kids and young adults from the store. Sharon as was the norm was the big hit with the much nerdier customers and some of them were still gathering around her even though Gary and her were holding hands the entire time. Clark and Jimmy were in a deep conversation with Andrew and he had to keep reminding them about spoilers because he had not seen the movie yet. By the time the doors opened and the proceeded thru the lobby they had not been able to have any deep discussion about that they had read in Mrs. Eastman’s files.

Like Andrew had attested, Gary was hugely impressed with the theater, it seems that some time ago a student from the college had come into a large sum of money from a settlement and being a film buff had blown it all entering into a partnership with the old theater owner, they had totally torn out all of the interior and updated the shell with a state of the art projection screen and sound system. The old seats from the 1930’s had been torn out and replaced with fabulously cushioned reclining seats, each positioned perfectly with plenty of leg room. Thus on the outside the movie theater had the classic marquee and art deco design with the flashing lights and neon tubes.

Gary was glad for the distraction of the movie, and Sharon and Andrew were nicely distracted so that he could actually think without seeming to be rude and not answering their questions. He thought that Sharon might have sensed this because she had given him one of her very deep looks that meant many things when he had been the one that broke up the research huddle in the apartment.

Gary had bought Sharon popcorn and somehow Andrew had steered the two of them into one of the many two person seats in the theater and then situated himself and the other customers in rows not close by. As they sat their sharing a large popcorn and a sprite with two straws Sharon whispered to him. “I am not going to ask what you are thinking yet, because I know you have not processed everything yet.”

Gary responded. “Thank you,” then he paused, “So what you said earlier you meant it?”

Sharon tried to bide some time, which was not like her, but stuffing more popcorn in her mouth. “What I said earlier?” She mumbled around the popcorn.

“At Mrs. Eastman’s, you said the you believed her and had seen some strange things yourself.”

Sharon now took a sip of the soda and then answered. “Well not me exactly, I did stretch the truth a little there.” Another sip of soda. “My father, he has seen some strange things in his time and always told us kids to never discount something because it could not be proven.”

“Hmmm.” Was Gary’s response.

They snuggled together in the seat and the previews began. Although out the movie Gary’s mind turned over the details of all that he had learned, and he came to a conclusion, more of a question. ‘What would help him find his father?’ If he decided to disbelieve all that he had been presented, the invisibility, the time travel, even the fantastic story about his father’s crazy creation of a woman, then it would hinder him in finding his father. The entries in his father’s file were sparse. It seemed the investigators automatically dismissed the statements of those who initiated the claim of fantastic scientific discovery’s or breakthroughs as those persons having too much a stake in the claim. The only entries directly attributed to his father were from Mrs. Eastman’s butler, the man in grey, who had placed a single sheet of typewritten page into the file. In it was basic questions, answered with a simple yes or no or true of false answer. The questions were simple and direct. Did you participate in an activity that to the best of your knowledge resulted in a women being formed from you and your friend Gary’s imagination. Answer: Yes. The rest of the statements were pretty straightforward: Did the government assist you in this activity; answer no.

So Gary know had a choice, believe for the purpose of finding his father or decide he did not believe and stop looking for his father because his father had gone down this route of believing these things and that had somehow lead him to disappearing.

It was halfway thru the movie that he decided to at least until his father was found to take all these extraordinary events at face value and temporarily suspend his disbelief and act as though all these implausible things had happened and that was the reason his father was missing. Now that he had that settled in his mind he decided to enjoy the movie, so far from what he could glean from it, it was pretty good with the Super Friends fighting some really nasty guy named Darkside and his cohorts.

Once he was fully engaged in the movie it went by quickly and before he knew it he was back outside with his friends shivering in the cold. They walked briskly back to the comic book store/apartment but not before ensuring that all the “kids” that met them at the movie theater were picked up by a parent or had a ride home. Andrew was the one that made them stop and guarantee this was settled before he would even think about leaving the vicinity of the cinema.

Once back in the apartment the three indulged in some hot drinks and found themselves sitting around the kitchen table where a large amount of research was still lying about.

“Well what is our next step in searching for the Castaways.” Andrew said referring to the Jules Verne book from earlier in the day.

Gary yawned and said fighting another yawn. “I guess finish reading this stuff tomorrow and then back to Mrs. Eastman’s.”

Sharon now yawned. “Ah not tomorrow my dear dear boy, after your stomped off in a huff, Mrs. Eastman told us to come back on Sunday at noon for lunch and she would have more information for us at that time.” Sharon added a stretch and a yawn to punctuate the conversation even further.

After that it was Andrew making a phone call to his mother telling her he would be staying at Gary’s another night and wishing her a Happy New Year. It was then that the three friends looked at each other and began to laugh, here it was New Year’s Eve and the three of them had not the slightest desire but to go to bed before 11:30 after the long day they had had.

The next day Gary was the first one awake and had gone down and changed the sign on the door to say closed until 1:00 pm. Gary figured he would not miss much business last night being New Year’s Eve and all. Then he climbed the stairs from the shop to the apartment and made some tea and toast and was about to sit down and start reading the files when a violent knocking on the apartment door made him almost spill his tea. He muttered to himself and got up as the pounding continued.

He walked to the top of the stairs and was halfway down when Sharon called his name. He turned around and there she was in a very over sized college sweatshirt that was down to mid-thigh. Her hair was a bit tussled but it made her look even more incredible. Gary just stopped dead in his tracts and could not believe this girl, this fantastically beautiful girl liked him and was spending time with him. Then the pounding which had stopped continued. Sharon asked who it was and Gary still incapable of speech just shrugged and forced himself to turn away from the vision at the top of the stairs and deal with the idiot pounding on his door.

Reaching the bottom of stairs he looked thru the peephole and saw no one but the pounding continued. He yelled “Who is it?” In a voice that surely conveyed that he was ticked off.

Then the unmistakable voice of the weird guy from a few days ago came thru the door. “It is Jack Gable; I came into your store the other day and bought a book about Superman.”

Gary decided the pull the guy’s chain for a moment. “Sorry, all sales are final and returns can only be done with a receipt and only for store credit.” Gary looked up at Sharon who was laughing silently and Gary got a chuckle out of that as well.

“It is not about the book it is about finding your father.” The voice of Mr. Jack Gable said coming thru the door.

Gary was interested at this point. “What do you know about my father?” He said with his hand on the door knob about to open it and confront this guy.

“My employer would like to talk to you about finding him and his discovery.”
Gary at this point decided to open the door. Standing there in seemingly the same clothes he had been wearing last time he had seen him, in fact looking at the guys receding hairline it did not look like he had washed his hair since the last time he had seen him.

“Who is your employer and what does he know about my father?” Gary said without as much as a good morning.

“Ah all will be revealed, can you meet my employer at one o’clock at the restaurant of the Double Tree hotel on Elm Street.

Gary decided to play it safe. “No, I open my shops at 1 pm today, tell your boss if he wants to talk come here at twelve o’clock and we will meet in the comic book store.”

Jack Gable shook his head. “Mr. Stuckey will not like that, usually most people who need something come to him.”

“Did I say I needed anything from Mr. Stuckey?” Gary said trying to sound defiant. “Noon, my shop, and I will hear what your boss has to say.”

Sharon by now had come to the bottom of the stairs and was listening to what Gary was saying, unfortunately the smaller man had spotted her and was staring at her doing the creepy licking of his lips again.

Gary caught sight of this and stepped between the two blocking the smaller man’s view of his girlfriend. “Noon Jack Gable, I am sure Mrs. Eastman has plenty of information about my father and that will lead me to finding him without your Mr. Stuckey’s help.” And with that Gary closed the door.

Sharon was frowning now.

“What did I do something wrong?”

Sharon replied with a huff. “Well first off I came down to distract him so that maybe we could get some more information from him, secondly why did you tell him about Mrs. Eastman maybe he did not know about her, and even if he did, now he knows we know about her.” With that she turned and walked barefooted up the stairs.

Gary was torn between watching her go up the stair and enjoying the view and shock in that she had just gotten angry with him about something.

Chapter 19

Posted in The Disinclined Purveyor of Sequential Art

The Disinclined Purveyor of Sequential Art – Chapter 17

archie summer camplittlelulu I will be leaving for summer camp tomorrow, but don’t worry campers, I have already written next weeks installment and it will be posted next Saturday, so just enjoy the lazy days of summer, knowing that I have been sweating and pounding away at the keyboard to get two chapters completed in one week.

Chapter 1

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

“So the question is what does or did my father have to do with her, I mean why direct us to come here?” Gary whispered to the other two.

Sharon nodded and answered in a similar whisper. “Did your Dad need money for his research?”

Andrew leaned in so he could hear Gary’s answer. Gary whispered back. “My father worked on video game controllers, not video games, no video game systems, he worked on hand held controls, you know push the red button, shoot the gun, push the green button make the character jump that type of thing. As far as I know when he left the private industry he stopped doing research. I looked through his books and papers and all he did was teach basic electrical engineering and computer courses.”

Sharon and Gary had talked about this before, but never in great detail. She just knew that he had stopped doing research.

“So why did your father contact Mrs. Eastman?” Andrew asked.

“Gary’s father did not contact me; I am the one that initiated the relationship.”

The voice came from the entrance to the room. There stood Mrs. Eastman, flanked by the man in grey who stood a half a step behind the older woman. She was short and thin, but not frail looking, she was using a cane but Sharon would have guessed that she used it more to make people underestimate her than as a true walking stick. She was dressed in a simple floral print dress that Sharon was sure cost more than the comic book store deposited in a week.

All three of them stood as the older lady entered the room and came around and shook each of their hands then took her seat across from them in a straight back chair with a decorative floral print pillow.

When they were all seated again, and Mrs. Eastman had instructed the man in grey to bring them tea and he had left the room she surveyed them all quietly with her hands resting on the ornate cane positioned to her left. After a detailed study of each of them she spoke. “The answer to your first question Gary is I don’t know. I do not currently know where your father or god father are. The next question you may ask.”

“You said currently, does that mean you know when the might be coming back?”

“Not exactly, although I do know when they will be coming back, but I do know they most likely will be coming back.”

Gary was getting frustrated. “Okay do you know where they were going before the disappeared?”

Mrs. Eastman could see the young man was getting upset but she knew of no short way to answer his questions. “I don’t know exactly where they were going but I do know the mechanism by which they left”

Gary was growing tired of the funny answers. “The mechanism, what exactly is that supposed to mean?”

The older lady let out a sigh and continued. “I am sorry, but there is no way to tell you except to tell you the complete story, and I fear that I might not have enough time to tell you the entire thing properly.”

Sharon chimed in now. “I understand some of the details are very important madam but we have been looking for a way to find Gary’s father for a few months now, any thing you can do to explain it quickly and today would put all of are minds at ease.”

Mrs. Eastman looked at Sharon and smiled then turned her attention back towards Gary. “I will explain as best I can in a short time frame but without all the details, I do not think you will believe me.” It was then that the man in grey came back into the room, and began to serve tea. Once they all had their tea in fine china cups situated she continued. “It all started for me back in college, my boyfriend who would later become my first husband got involved with some very crazy things, things that should not have been possible. Things that almost but not quite broke the laws of physics, biology and mathematics. I cannot go into details right now let us just say that these incredible scientific breakthroughs were not only unsustainable but were never able to be duplicated again.” She looked up at the young people and did not see the disbelief that normally accompanied her stories, maybe because she had left out so many incredible details in an effort to be brief. “Several years later, while my husband worked hard as a biologist he started to document other strange events. Usually taking place around persons with a scientific background but not seeming to obey the normal established logic or cause and effect, similar to what happened to him while he was in college.”

It was then that Gary had enough. “Excuse me Mrs. Eastman, you keep saying strange things, but what kind of strange things are you talking about?”

Mrs. Eastman looked a little embarrassed. “You are not going to believe me, but here goes, a spray on invisibility formula that wears off with water, a super strength formula that is only good for a couple of hours, downloading computer information into a human’s brain. These are some of the things I saw. There are other things like time travel, creating living breathing people using computer, a substance that defies the laws of entropy.” When she made this statements she looked at Gary with hopeful eyes.

Gary looked around at Sharon and Andrew, who were both looking at him and back at Mrs. Eastman. Finally the silence in the room was broken. “Lady you are crazy.”

Sharon looked at Gary and he was about the stand up when she leaned over and whispered something in his ear. He turned and looked at her and she nodded, and then looked at her again as if seeing her for the first time. She then leaned over and whispered into his ear again. He looked at her and she grabbed his hand. Then Gary nodded and looked back towards Mrs. Eastman. “And you said you approached my father, why?”

“Well after my first husband died a put all his papers away, secured, but away. I moved on with my life I married Mr. Eastman and moved here. We had a wonderful life together, but two years ago he died. After a year of mourning I was looking for something to give my life meaning, and while getting rid of a great deal of clutter in my life I came upon Dexter’s research.”

Andrew interrupted at this point, even though he had been silent all this time. “Dexter was your first husband, the one in college who strange things kept happening around.”

Mrs. Eastman nodded and continued. “Dexter’s research was far greater than I ever imagined, in fact he started a research group which is still operating to this day, initially a mail in program, but later updated and moved on-line. Dexter funded it and left the group in place, but every year a report would be generated, well researched and thoroughly investigated stories, that were just on the verge of being impossible but had more than two credible eyewitness that could not be shaken.” Mrs. Eastman stopped to cough at this moment and the man in grey was at her side in a moment, she waved him off when the coughing stopped, but she took the glass of water he offered her.

Gary spoke up as the man in grey took the empty glass away. “You stated earlier all these events took place around people with scientific backgrounds, how did my father figure into all this?”

Mrs. Eastman looked at him. “One of those events occurred when your father was in high school. Did you know your father was a finalist in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search.”

“Yes, and he would have won if his best friend Gary had not destroyed his entry when he accidentally let the trailer containing the entry drift into traffic and get smashed by and eighteen wheeler.”

Andrew and Sharon both grimaced at this, they had heard a lot of stories about the older Gary screwing up, but that was pretty horrific.

“So what was the incident that occurred when my father was in high school?” Gary asked with a even tone, having heard the story many times it really was just that to him now a story.
“One time when your grand parents were not home, Gary had a crazy idea to a make simulated woman, your father took this idea and ran with it and in some bizarre way they created from all reports a living, breathing, totally interactive, flesh and blood woman.”

Gary looked at the Mrs. Eastman with that look of total disbelief again. Sharon again reached out and held his hand, but Gary did not even notice and stood up looking over the old woman. “You are nuts.” He looked at Sharon who was shocked at his outburst. He looked over at Andrew who was just staring at the old woman as well. “I am out of here.” Gary got around them and stomped out of the room. He was about to walk out the front door and realized he did not have his coat, he walked over to the hidden closet and grabbed his coat and walked out the door leaving his two friends behind.

“Well that went better than I thought it would.” Mrs. Eastman said as she looked towards the two remaining young people.

It was about fifteen minutes later that Andrew and Sharon caught up to Gary walking down Main Street.

Andrew slowed the car and Sharon rolled down her window. “Do you want to walk all the way back or do you want a ride now.”

Gary continued to walk.

“You had better not be mad at me; all I said was let’s hear her out.”

Gary stopped and slid on an icy patch of unshoveled snow almost falling, he then turned towards the car. He was about to say she had said more than that but was caught off guard when he saw that her face was red from crying. “I am sorry,” and he walked over towards the car. He hugged her as best as he could through the open car window. “no I am not mad at you.”

Andrew’s voice came from inside the car. “You are not mad a me are you, I mean I am just the driver?”

Gary laughed. “No I am not mad at you either.”

“Well then get in the car. We have got to get back to the shop.”

“Why what is the big rush?”

“Well if we want to go to the JLA movie tonight at 9 we got a lot of reading to do beforehand.”

Gary responded quickly. “For the last time I am not going to read your ‘list of the twenty comics you should read before seeing the JLA Movie’.

Sharon laughed. “No dummy,” Sharon responded. “Mrs. Eastman provided us copies of her files, and the biggest one is about your father.”

“A file about my father?”

“Not just a file, a big box with interviews, police reports, all kinds of stuff.” Andrew responded and pointed towards the trunk.

“Move over sweetie.” Gary said opening the car door smiling now. “We’se gots some reading to do.”

Chapter 18