Posted in Quotes

Hysteria

Elia Kazan.JPG

Whatever hysteria exists is inflamed by mystery, suspicion and secrecy. Hard and exact facts will cool it.    Elia Kazan

Elia Kazan (born Elias Kazantzoglou );  September 7, 1909 – September 28, 2003) was a Greek-American director, producer, writer and actor, described by The New York Times as “one of the most honored and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history”

Posted in A Miles Mitchell Story

The Case of the Missing Heir, A Miles Mitchell Mystery


See the source imageRain pounded against my window, but it would clear up in a minute then the humidity would be higher than Russian sauna.  I was on my second glass of whiskey and contemplating how long I could sleep at my office before the landlord got wise that my office was now a residence.  I could not make my apartment rent for the third month in row and there was a suspicious red envelop on my front door which I had avoided like a sinner avoiding church. That is when she walked thru my door. She was brunette with long legs and a face that would have would make John Smith question his love for the beautiful Disney Pocahontas.  My front door was open, and she sauntered in like she owned the place, and for an hour of staring into those big brown eyes I might have given her the keys.

“Are you Miles Mitchell the Private Investigator?” She asked in voice that could easily be confused for an angel but gave the hint of knowledge that would make a demon blush.

“That’s what it says on the door, but my friends just call me Mitch” She smiled with ruby red lips but not with her eyes. “Have a seat Mrs.?”

She sat down in the seat in front of my desk with the smooth motion of a ballet dancer. I envied the arms of the chair as she placed her dainty hands on them.

“It’s Miss Fowler. Miss Felicity Fowler. I understand you specialize in cases concerning people involved with Disney World.”

I chuckled. “Specialize might be too strong a word, but I have had some success in Walt’s back yard.”

She nodded thoughtfully.  “I want you to find someone, my younger sister, Fiona.”

I nodded and she continued. “She came down here for an Internship, but she had been talking about taking a job with Disney afterward.”

“And now?”

“The internship was over five weeks ago and she has not called or communicated with anyone in the family since.  It is very important that I contact her soon, our mother is a very sick woman and wants to see her.” Her voice had the telltale quiver that comes right before a crying jag, so I grabbed a box of tissues from my drawer walked around the desk and offered her one.  I did not return to my seat but leaned against the leading edge of my desk till she got herself under control.

“You say she has not communicated with anyone in your family, how about her friends, have they heard from her?”

Felicity looked up with a sad look on her face. “Fiona and I are not what you call close, she was away at school for the last four years and we have drifted even further apart, I don’t know any of her friends and she has not used any of her credit cards, I had our accountant check.”

I nodded knowingly. Not that I ever had an accountant, I had taken my tax returns to H&R Block last year and they felt such pity for me they took up a collection in their local office.

“The police, Orange County Sheriff’s Department?”  I asked but knowing the answer before she gave it.

She waved her finely manicured hand dismissively. “They said that since no foul play was suspected, and it was not a crime for a girl to not call her family it was not their concern.”

“Do you have her local address, where she was staying?”

Felicity pulled out a small notebook from her purse and handed it too me, I gently brushed up against her fingers when the exchange took place and her fingers were warm to the touch.  “Your hands are very cold Mitch.”  She said.

“Well you know what the say cold hands, warm heart.” I said smiling. I took a few minutes looking over the notebook, it was all laid out for me there, Fiona’s information, the accountants name and number, it even listed the kid’s shoe size, a narrow size five.  I was not sure how that would help but you never knew I looked up from the notebook. I quoted my billing price and my initial retainer, and she agreed to it without batting a pretty little eyelash taking five crisp one hundred dollars out of her purse.  She got up to leave and I saw her to the door of my meager little office. 

“I am staying at the Gaylord Hotel; do you know it?” 

I nodded. I knew it. I had been in there a couple of months ago simply to use the bathroom and I swear security followed me around like they knew I was up to no good. Which was true I was a looking for a boss who was stepping out with his secretary but the staff at that fancy hotel had no way of knowing that.  “Please if you have any questions or you make any progress, please do not hesitate to drop by.”

I informed her I would be by with regular updates.  She shook my hand it that fantastic ladylike way where I was unsure if I should shake her hand or kiss it.  I stuck with the shake and she turned walking away in that red dress making me glad I was a man.

After the elevator door was closed, I walked to the hallway window that looked out onto the parking lot just in time to see a large flunky shut the door to a black town car, undoubtedly with Miss Felicity Fowler in the back.

 

An hour later I was on the case, after a quick trip downstairs for some Indian food. The smell had been tantalizing me for a couple of days and having my office above it was torture when all I had was two lonely George Washingtons in my money clip. But now fortified with savory Mango Chicken Curry I dug into the case. I did the easy stuff first, phone calls and computer checks.  Miss Fowler was correct Fiona had not been active on social media in about four weeks though, that is when she stopped posting on twitter and Instagram. I made a few phones calls to the boys in blue, old friends whom I owed a thousand favors to, no cases involving her, no reports filed with her name in them either.  I thought about that, no reports, Felicity had said she talked to someone, usually they at least put the name in their database.  Maybe it was nothing, slow paperwork, lazy civil servants. 

Nothing I did was ever easy, and this case was not turning into the exception to the rule. I knew checking out her housing when she was a Disney Intern was pointless. That place had both tight security and high turnover, even if I was able to get in all they would tell me is she had moved out and I already knew that. So, I decided to head to a place I thought someone might have a personal relationship with her.

The Magic Kingdom, Walt’s bigger version of Disneyland copied and expanded in a Florida swamp. I had a lifetime pass, through no effort of my own, unless you call being born an accomplishment and where I was born was my mother’s call.  Mom as far as I can tell was always a bit strange, doing crazy things and not caring what anyone thought. She had been pregnant with me, her one an only child and she decided she wanted to give birth at the Happiest Place on Earth, so when her contractions started she hoped in her car and even though it was closing time she somehow snuck down into the tunnels till the park was empty of guests.  She then emerged and by the time maintenance heard her giving birth it was too late and I was born in Fantasyland right in the Teacups Ride.  Which teacup I am not sure of because she tells me a different color every time. 

My story might have just been an interesting side note in the history books, but Disney had a new CEO who was visiting the parks for the first time and he made a big deal of it and bequeathed to me a permanent lifetime pass. Not many people recalled the story any longer and for that I was grateful. There had only been on media reprisal of the story, and that is when I turned ten and there was a lavish birthday party at Pirates of the Caribbean, my favorite ride, with accompanying pictures. 

I can’t give it away and I sure as heck can’t sell it, so I use it when I am working, like today.  I arrived at the Ticketing and Transportation Center, parked my car in Hook and walked with the rest of the guests to the screening area.  I went thru the no bag line, did not see anyone in blues that I knew so I took the ferry across the Seven Seas Lagoon to the Happiest Place on Earth. 

I walked Main Street USA to the last place Ms. Fowler had worked. I surveilled the store for a while occasionally looking at the faces of the cast members. When she was active on social media Ms. Fowler had taken pictures and posted them online of her friends working in the Emporium.  It was then that I got a shock, there was Ms. Fiona Fowler, helping restock a display of stuffed animals.  I watched her for a bit, made a pass checking out her name tag.  The name tag read Chris from Orlando.  I chuckled, it was Cast joke, if you forgot your name tag managers had a bunch of spares in their desk drawer, all Chris, a nice non gender specific name, and everyone that worked here at Disney technically lived in the Orlando area. 

Despite the name tag I was sure that this was the younger Ms. Fowler, she matched the photographs perfectly right down to the costume she was wearing. 

I looked at my watch and hoped she would take her lunch soon or maybe she would get work so we could talk.

“Hi Ms. Fowler, you don’t know me but.”

In that split second I said her name I saw several looks cross her young face, the first shock, then anger, and finally resignation, as if she knew this was something unpleasant, she was going to have to deal with. She held up a hand to stop me. “My stepsister sent you, didn’t she?”

“Stepsister? Yes, she is worried about you?”

This was met with a quick snort, one that I am sure she had used before when talking about her sister. “No what dear stepsister Felicity,” She said the words stepsister like it was a curse word, “wants is my money and my approval for the sale of my father’s company.”

“She also said your mother is sick.”

Again, a quick snort. “What my stepmother is sick about is not taking the company jet to Paris but having to fly first class commercial. Do you want to see her protesting texts from her where she pled with me to be irresponsible with the company funds and use the jet for her personal travel?”  

I was about to ask her if we could talk somewhere when Fiona beat me to the punch. “I get off in thirty minutes, Gaston’s at two?” 

I agreed and killed the next thirty minutes navigating around the castle and crowds via Liberty Square, I avoided the Teacups whenever I could, not for the reason you would think though.  I was walking by the ride one time and a queasy teenager came off the ride and created a code V right on my shoes. The stain on my shoes showed he had been eating a lot of cotton candy.

I grabbed a very expensive Coke and took a booth in the back and waited. With ten minutes to spare the younger Ms. Fowler showed up, sans costume and in street clothes.  We talked for the next fifteen minutes, she told me of her father, his company, his 2nd marriage which came with a new stepsister, Felicity.  She explained that her control of both the company and the family fortune was not contested and she had no intention of turning control of the company over to either her gold-digging stepmother or her minion Felicity.  Fiona did not beg, she did not attempt to pay me off, she simply asked that I do not report my findings to her sister.  When I was non-committal about what I was going to do Fiona gave me a phone number to text and tell her my decision.  I promised her I would. 

I got back to my car via the ferry boat, walking to the top deck for the most air flow to clear my head.  By the time I got back to my 1996 Buick station wagon I had come to a decision, I had taken Felicity’s coin to do a job, I had done the job and she would get her information at least what I had gathered so far.

I navigated to the Gaylord Hotel and smirked at the on-duty security manager when he pointedly asked what my business was. When I mentioned my client was waiting for a report in a suite upstairs, he nodded curtly and with his eyes pointed towards the elevator.  I was not happy that the job was over so soon, but hey maybe something else would pop up to keep the wolves at bay. 

Knocking on the door I heard a bit of shuffling in the room and then the beautiful Ms. Fowler answered the door. I followed her into the room glad she was still wearing the red dress.  She sat in the living area of the suite and asked me to do the same. 

“I did not expect you so soon Mr. Mitchell.”

“Remember you can call me Mitch.”

“Of course, Mitch. I hope you have good news.” 

I looked into those beautiful brown eyes and realized that hopeful look she had in her eyes currently might be greed and wondered if they would be so beautiful when I told her I was dropping the case. “I found your stepsister.”  At the words stepsister the eyes opened a little wider, I was not sure if it was anger or surprise, but I continued.  “She is fine, she is now working full time for Disney in retail but.” That one word ‘but’ confirmed my earlier suspicion she it was greed. “she does not want to have any contact with you except thru her attorney’s.”  Felicity’s lips said a word that would never be said in a Disney movie and she stood.  I stood as well.

“I am taking it you no longer wish to work for me.” She said in hostile tone.

“No nothing more to report.” I was about to turn when I saw her eyes flick to something over my shoulder and that is when the lights went out.

If you have ever woken up after being knocked unconscious let me tell you I do not recommend it, but it is better than not waking up at all.  Luckily, I had some experience with it and wisely stayed very still and kept my eyes closed. There were two voices in the room with me.  The one was Felicity and the other was a man with a heavy New Jersey accent with the warmness of a gravel truck barreling down a mountain road with bad brakes. He sounded like the kind of a guy who would cold cock a guy from behind.

“That was stupid.’ Felicity.

“He knows where she is and now, and now she knows we are looking for her.” Gravel truck said.

“And how was clubbing him in the head going to fix our situation?”

“I can make him tell us what else he knows.” Gravel truck said and I heard his voice coming from somewhere over of me. I decided at that point to remain ‘unconscious’ because it was hard to question a sleeping person. 

“And when we get what we want from him?” 

“I get him out of the hotel, the security manager is one of my guys from back in the day and this private eye becomes gator food.” There was some movement around the room. “Time to wake this bum up.”

I thought quickly about my options and moaned when I had made my plan.

“I think he is coming around.”  Felicity said.

I risked opening my eyes knowing the pain it was going to cause. Sure enough, pain shot thru my eyes directly into my skull and I let out a moan, but I was rewarded with seeing the legs of the man coming towards me.  I know my next move would have to work otherwise I was going to end up in the belly of a gator, so I did what came naturally and something I had been suppressing since I came to.  I created my own code V all over the man’s shoes.

“Son of a.” 

“That is gross.” Felicity said from across the room.

I agreed with her my lunch of curry and now digestive juices was now all over this guy dress shoes.  Luckily this distracted him and I moved quickly but painfully, desperately kicking and knocking him down. I got extremely lucky and he fell, head hitting the edge of the coffee table.  I hoped he would get a concussion and a headache like the one I was going to be fighting.  I stood over him, waiting for him to get up, but he did not but he was breathing. Felicity was running out the door, I was in no shape to give chase but found my phone and dialed 911.

Six hours later I was back in my office with a bottle of aspirin and an ice pack. Felicity had gotten away and the cops were looking for her. It seems there was a warrant out her and Gravel truck up north, something about counterfeit Disney memorabilia. Gravel Truck was now sitting in the Orange County Jail but Felicity had gotten away.  There was talk of a reward, but I was not counting on it.

The phone began ringing and I began cursing the noise, but I picked it up anyways. 

“Hello Mr. Mitchell?”

“This is Miles.” 

“This is Fiona. I understand that my sister is on the run again?”

“Yeah but her partner was arrested.”

“I also heard you were injured was that because you did not tell them where I was?”

“Just a little but no big deal in the greater scheme of things.”

“Thank you anyways.”  There was a pause. “The real reason I called was I wanted to know if you were available to work for a friend of mine, they want to hire you to find something that was stolen from them are you available?”

My ears perked up. “A job, sure I am available.”  I smiled even though it hurt.  Maybe I would be able to afford another bag of ice. 

Posted in Outrageous Lies and Tales

Forty Feet Below

Image result for wooden block and tackle outside

Forty Feet Below

He had been both lucky and cursed the day of the crash.  The ship had buried itself so deep on this small remote island that none of the natives noticed it.  It had taken him a long time to dig his own way out from the wreckage, luck because he should have been dead.  Cursed because with each clump of dirt he moved the certainty that the ship would never leave this planet grew. His wonderful organic ship was dead but the prisoner it was transporting was not.  The prisoner he left exactly where it was, deep in the ground secure in the stasis chamber.

He looked toward the sky knowing that is where rescue should have come from, but after a hundred or so revolutions  around  this star he knew it would  not be coming.  He still had an oath to live up to and keeping the prisoner secure thus keeping this planet safe and by extension the rest of the galaxy from the monster’s rampage was how he would fulfill his oath.

This place was cold and strange and if he disliked it then the prisoner would hate it.  Of course the prisoner hated everything.  That hate had fueled  a wide swath of killing and destruction across the galaxy before he had been captured.  After it had been determined that the creature could not be reasoned with or changed a prison had been constructed for this prisoner, balanced on the event horizon of a collapsing star making escape impossible.  It was on the way to this specially constructed prison that the crash has happened.

He had worked hard to blend in with the new local population and bought supplies and materials with scavenged parts of his ship and with those crude tools he had further entombed the prisoner, even harnessing the ocean in this simple one person penal institution. He patted the bare earth one more time with his shovel, the prisoner was as secure as he could make it.  The monster was so deep now no sane creature would ever dig here without a good reason.  He had even harnessed the cold, salty ocean in a manner to keep the prisoner deep underground.

He looked up at the final tool that was to be removed to erase all evidence of his efforts here.  A primitive block and tackle that he had been using to place the final barriers in place, obstructing access to the vault he had constructed below.  He had to make one more trip back to the mainland to retrieve the beacon he would place high in the tree.  The last remnant of his ship, would be a safeguard to warn other travelers what was buried below, in addition it would send out a harmless tone that would make this weirdly uncomfortable to the local sentient life forms.  Once the organic beacon was in place he would take the pulley system down.  The beacon would be come part of the tree and eventually part of the island itself, giving a steady warning to stay away from this place.

 

“Did you hear about the accident in Chester?” Daniel McGinnis said pulling on the oars.

“You mean the one with that old man getting killed when that freight wagon broke loose.”

“Yeah they said he was crushed flat and there is not enough left to bury.”  Vaughn said jumping into the conversation.

“Didn’t he live out this way somewhere?”

“No one seemed to know much about him, he was crazy hermit.”  Smith added.

The three boys stopped their conversation as they landed on the shore and McGinnis lead them to what he wanted to show them.  He had convinced them to bring along the shovels but he had not told them why.  “There it is.”  He said pointing to the branch.

“Strange place for a block and tackle.”  Vaughn stated and Smith nodded in agreement.

“And look underneath it.” McGinnis said excitedly standing directly underneath the block and tackle.

Vaughn and Smith looked down to where their friend was standing.  The soil was soft as though the ground had recently been filled in.   “I think we have found Captain Kidd’s buried treasure.” McGinnis said pointing down with his shovel.

Smith and Vaughn looked around as if saying the pirate’s name would make him appear.

McGinnis looked at his friends.  “Can you think of another reason anyone would be out here digging on Oak Island.”

 

A story I wrote a couple of months ago and submitted to a writing contest.  Today I was notified it was not chosen, so I can release it to my dear readers.  

 

 

Posted in Quotes

Interests

vincent-vincent-price

A man who limits his interests, limits his life.   Vincent Price

Vincent Leonard Price, Jr. (May 27, 1911 – October 25, 1993) was an American actor, well known for his distinctive voice and performances in horror films. His career spanned other genres, including film noir, drama, mystery, thriller, and comedy. He appeared on stage, television, radio, and in over one hundred films. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: one for motion pictures, and one for television.

Price was also an art collector and consultant, with a degree in art history, and lectured and wrote books on the subject. He was the founder of the Vincent Price Art Museum in California.

vincent price_2

 

For the rest of October, until Halloween, I will be posting Quotes by people that have added to the Halloween spirit, but not necessarily about scary, macabre, or like minded subjects.  

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