CIA #53

Jump to Episode Ten

Coconolte Investigation Agency

Casefile #53
The Spy Who Wasn't
July 1943 - March 1920 C.E.

“So your great-grandpop’s birthday isn’t quite as exciting as you thought it might be, eh, A.J.?”

“No, sir.”

“Hey, I’m your great-granduncle Philip, not ‘sir’. But you can call me Phil, okay?”

“Okay,.. Phil. Were you a detective with Gramps?”

“Sure was. Back in the good ol’ days. Twentieth century.  Seems like it was a hundred years ago.”

“It was a hundred years ago, Phil!”

“And you’ll never let me forget it, will you, Sam? What were we talking about, A.J.?”

“You were a detective a hundred years ago.”

“Yep. Did you ever hear about the time your Grampa and I, along with our kid brother, Sam, captured a Nazi spy ring, single handedly?”

“What’s a nahsty?”

“Well, I guess you haven’t. This is my favorite story. You’re gonna love it.”



Blood and Them

It was springtime. Sunshine, blue skies, cheerful birds in the trees. And Sam and I were enjoying a pleasant discussion in the office.

“Phil, you know that I’m not really interested in baseball, but even I can see that the Dodgers don’t stand a chance of getting into the series this year.”

“O, ye of little faith. I’m telling you, it’s in the bag.”

“Has Cousin Will been giving you tips about the future, again?”

“Of course not. That would take all the fun out…”

“Hey! Keep it down to a dull roar, will you?” Nick said as he came through the door. “We may have a client. If you two don’t scare him off.” He brought a plump gentleman with him into the agency office.

“Mr. Helstrom, for all they are, these are my brothers, Phil and Sam. This Mr. Erich Helstrom, boys. I met him over at Mollie’s. He was asking directions to our office. Please, Mr. Helstrom, have a seat.”

Nick settled Helstrom onto one of the old hardback chairs and sat himself down behind the old desk. “Now, what can we do for you?” he asked the potential client.

“I’d like to have someone’s background checked, if possible.”

“A business associate, or an acquaintance, perhaps?” Nick asked as he began making notes. “Have you questioned this person at all?”

“No, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

A look of concern appeared on Nick’s face. “Why might that be?”

“I’m the individual I want you to investigate.” Helstrom seem to look a little lost as he spoke.

“I don’t quite understand, Mr. Helstrom.” I’ve watched Nick interview and turn down a lot of clients, but, this man was… different. “Just what do you wish to know about yourself?” Nick asked gently.

“Everything… anything!” Helstrom was beginning to act agitated. Like soup in a pot about to boil over. “I’m not even sure about my own name.”

“What makes you think your name isn’t Helstrom?”

“That’s the name on the driver’s license in my pocket, and some papers in a briefcase that I found, but I just don’t feel comfortable with it. I can’t seem to remember anything prior to awakening in a hotel room several hours ago.”

“You believe you’ve lost your memory, is that correct?” A nod from the worried man is his only answer. “Can you recall anything at all before today?”

“Nothing whatsoever.”

“Do you have any injuries? Any pain anywhere?”

“No, physically, I feel just fine.”

“After waking, what did you do?”

“I remember opening my eye and looking at the ceiling. For some reason, it didn’t look right. I had a terrible headache. Almost like a hangover, but, I didn’t remember having anything to drink. Suddenly, I realized that I couldn’t remember anything at all! I sat bolt upright and looked around. I was so frightened that I didn’t really see anything in front of me for a moment or two. My heart was racing like a runaway steam engine…

“I closed my eyes and took several deep breaths. After a brief pause, my heart slowed down, and I felt somewhat calmer.

“I began to look at my surroundings more calmly. ‘A hotel room,’ I said to myself, ‘but what hotel and where?’ I then noticed that I was fully dressed, as I am now.

“I fumbled with the wallet in the coat I’m wearing, anxious to learn who I was. When I finally managed to get the wallet out and open, I found a driver’s license in the name of Erich Helstrom with a Boston address. The name means nothing to me, but Boston has a familiar feel to it, I’m not sure why.

“I got up from the bed and started looking around the room. I found a briefcase with several documents in it, a valise with clothing, and an overcoat in the closet. Nothing I found meant anything to me.

“I decided I had better seek help before I panicked. So I came looking for you.”

“If you can’t remember anything, why did you come looking for us, Mr. Helstrom?” I asked.

With a look of surprise, Helstrom said, “This agency is mentioned in the documents I found in the briefcase.”

“What!?” Bigger surprise from all three of us.

“I was hoping you would know me. That’s why I came here before going to the police.”

“Mr. Helstrom,” Nick said as gently as I’ve ever heard him, “we’ve never seen or heard of you before today.”

Crestfallen, Helstrom stood to leave. “Then perhaps, I should go to the police after all.”

“That’s entirely up to you, but I would like to know more about these ‘documents’ you’ve mentioned. And, we are quite willing to help you, as best we can.”

Sitting down again, Helstrom smiles. “Thank you. I hope I can pay you for your efforts.”

“Do you have any money at all?” Sam asked.

“I’m not sure. I found some notes in the briefcase, but I don’t know if it’s real money. When I hold them in my hand, it doesn’t look right. It seems… too small.”

“What do these notes look like?” I asked. Always concerned about finances, that’s me.

“I can show them to you,” Helstrom said as he took a wallet from an inner coat pocket and opened it. Withdrawing a bill, he handed it to me. “This is one of them. Do you recognize it?”

“Oh, yes. President Grant and I don’t often meet, but I’d know him anywhere.” I passed the crisp, new fifty dollar bill to Nick.

“Looks real enough to me,” he said as he examined it. “If it’s a phoney, Murph will spot it. May I hold onto this for a short time, Mr. Helstrom?”

“If it is actual currency, you may consider it a retainer.”

“Thank you. How many of these were in the briefcase?”

“I would estimate that each bundle contains one hundred notes each.”

“BUNDLES?” Nick said.

Sam was the least surprised. “That’s five thousand dollars, Mr. Helstrom.” Narrowing his eyes as he looked at Helstrom, he asked, “How many of these bundles are there?”

“There are forty bundles in a false bottom of the briefcase,” Helstrom said quite casually. He seemed very familiar with money.

In the ensuing silence, Nick, Sam, and I look from Helstrom to one another. Somewhere, two hundred thousand dollars (American) in crisp new fifties was just laying around.

After getting over this mild shock, Nick turned back to Helstrom. He needed two tries before making any sound. “Do you know the name of the hotel you woke up in?”

“Why, yes. It’s the Carleton Hotel.”

Nick gave a big sigh of relief. “Thank-“ He grabbed the phone and began dialing furiously.

“Is something wrong, Mr. Coconolte?”

“I don’t know, yet. Did you lock the room when you left the hotel?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Is the briefcase locked?”

“I couldn’t locate a key for it, but I did close it after replacing the documents and money in it. If I had been in a better frame of mind, I probably would have brought it with me. I’m sorry I didn’t.”

“Don’t bother yourself about it, you did fine—hello, may I speak to Mr. Wollenski, please? Thanks- hello, Murph? This is Nick- just fine I hope. Would you do something for me? Mr. Helstrom, what room were you in?”

Helstrom withdrew a key from his pocket and handed it to Nick.

Murph, would you go up to room 247 and look for a briefcase?” Nick looked at Helstrom again.

“Brown leather,” Helstrom whispered.

“Brown leather- yeah, the uh, owner is sitting here in front of me, right now. When you get it, take it straight to your office, lock your door, and call me immediately… no it’s not a bomb, at least not the kind that you’re thinking of. I can’t explain right now. Thanks, Murph, I owe you yet another one. Bye.”

“Have I don’t anything wrong?” Helstrom asked.

“Hopefully not. When Murph, Mr. Wollenski calls back, I’ll feel better. Right now, let’s talk about you.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“May I examine the contents of your wallet, Mr. Helstrom? Do you have anything else with you that might help?”

“Just the wallet. Oh, there a pocket watch in my vest, and…” Helstrom began searching the contents of his pockets, and found some loose change and a fountain pen. “I’m afraid that’s all. I hope something will help.”

Nick added the room key to the small pile. “It’s a start. I have to make something perfectly clear, right now, Mr. Helstrom. If we determine that you have that money in your possession unlawfully, we’ll have to turn it, and you, over to the authorities. Do you understand this fully?”

“Of course, I understand fully. I would prefer that to not knowing what happened to me.”

“Thank you. I’m glad you feel that way. Now, what do we have here?”

Nick started a detailed examination of the few objects gathered together on the desk. Opening the wallet, he removed the entire contents and spread them out. Everything seemed to be typical: driver’s license with a Boston address, photos of children and adults, business cards from real estate and insurance agents, railway ticket stubs, and a couple of the new fifty dollar bills.

“Have you looked at these photos closely, Mr. Helstrom?”

“No, should I?”

“It couldn’t hurt. Why don’t you look at them now?” Nick asked as he handed the pictures to Helstrom. Finding nothing hidden in the empty wallet, Nick turned his attention the pocket watch.

It was a large, hunter style watch, with a protective cover that opened when the winding stem was pressed. The engraved case and cover show an old world craftsmanship, probably European. Opening the cover revealed something engraved inside: ‘BLUT UND IHRE’.

Pointing out the old style lettering, Nick asked, “Does this mean anything you, Mr. Helstrom?”

“Not a thing. Do you know what it says?”

“No, I don’t. Either of you recognize this?” Nick handed the watch to me, and I passed it to Sam after glance.

“It’s German,” Sam said. “’Blood and Them’. A very odd motto, or slogan. The German version of the Boy Scouts have a similar motto: ‘Blood and Honor’.

“Mr. Helstrom, do you remember anything about a train?”

“No- I’m afraid not.”

“Anything in the pictures look familiar?”

“Nothing. Complete strangers to me.”

“May I look at those?” I asked.

“Of course.” Helstrom handed me the photos and turned back to Nick. “Do you think I should see a doctor?”

“After I speak with Mr. Wollenski about your luggage, I’m going to call a doctor that works with us on… special occasions. We’ll arrange for an examination.”

“Nick.” I was curious about one of the photos. “Look at this, it-“   I was interrupted when the bell of the phone started clamoring for attention.

“Coconolte Investigation Agency, Nick Coco- hello, Murph. Did you find it? Have you looked inside, no? Would you examine the contents real quick? I know what’s supposed to be in there, but I’d like your opinion- okay- really? I see, I think. Thanks, Murph. I’ll be over soon.” Nick put the receiver on its hook and looked directly at Helstrom. “Mr. Wollenski was very impressed with your traveling papers. At first. On closer examination, he was astounded.”

“What’s up?” I asked.

“Murph says that’s the best funny money he’s ever seen. It’s perfect except for one small detail.”

Sam had started looking closer at Helstrom’s fifty dollar bill when ‘funny money’ was mentioned. “What’s wrong with it? he asked.

“Look up near the top of Grant’s portrait, just to the left.”

“Yeah, so?

“What does it say?”

“’Series 1940’,” I said. I was standing on tiptoe looking over Sam’s shoulder.

“When a significant change is made to U.S. currency, like a new Treasurer’s signature, the year of the change is indicated on the bill. That date is used on all bills until another change occurs.”

“And so, since this is 1939, this fifty is a phoney, right?” Sam asked.

“There is one other possibility,” I said.

Nick looked at me a little reproachfully. “I’m considering that. After we get Mr. Helstrom to see the doctor, I’m going to speak to our scientific consultants.”

Sam and I grinned at one another. Somehow, I had a feeling our scienterrific cousins would get involved yet again in one of our cases.

When Nick lifted the phone and began dialing again, I remembered the photo in my hand. “Nick, I think you should look at this photo.”

“What am I looking for?”

It was a typical family grouping, next to a car parked in front of an apartment style building. Mom, Dad, the kids, other cars on the street.

“Look at the cars, Nick. They’re all foreign jobs. I don’t see a single American car at all.”

“So, maybe this picture is from out of town, way out of town- hello, Abby? This is Nick- I’m fine. I have a minor I hope, medical problem here- no, he’s okay, too. It’s our new client. Would you ring Dr. Lowell for me? Thanks.”

Nick looked over at our kid brother. “Sam, I think she’s finally noticed you- hi, Chris. It’s me- I’m alright- they’re okay, too. Our new client has a problem. He seems to be suffering from amnesia… there are no signs of injury that we can see, he complained of a severe headache earlier this morning, almost like a hangover. Do you have time to look at him? I’ll send him over with Phil and Sam right away. Thanks, Chris. I’ll talk to you later.”

He dropped the phone back on the hook and turned to Sam and me. “While you two escort Mr. Helstrom to County General, I’m going to drop in at the Carleton to pick up the briefcase and talk to Murphy.”

“We’re on our way,” I said. “Mr. Helstrom, if you would be so kind as to accompany my brother and myself, we’d like to introduce you to the finest doctor in town.”

“I would be glad to. You have no idea how much better I feel already.”

After Sam and I left with Mr. Helstrom in tow, Nick reached into his pocket for a bright, shiny, quite innocent looking cigarette lighter, but no cigarettes.

Raising the lighter as though to light a smoke, he spoke to it.

“Alleyway behind Carleton Hotel, current time.”

Nick gently disappeared from sight, leaving no sign of having been there at all.


Me? A hero? 
Don’t be absurd – I’m just a mad scientist.

 The lovely Doctor Lowell’s small office. Sam and I had arrived at County General with no delay. Helstrom was sitting on a chair while Chris was leaning over him, examining his eyes intently. I do wish someone would examine my eyes like that.

“You look just fine, Mr. Helstrom, although, it wouldn’t hurt you to lose a few pounds.”

A sigh. “I know. I have a weakness for….” Then a blank expression on his face.

“For what, Mr. Helstrom?” I asked, hoping something, anything, was coming back.

“I don’t know. For a moment, I almost remembered something. Then, it was gone.”

“Don’t try to force memories,” Chris said. “It’s better to let them sneak up on you.”

“I could almost taste it,” Helstrom said, wistfully. “Whatever it was.”

Sam smiled. “When we go back to the office, we’ll stop by the bakery.”

“Yeah, stir up his memory, and maybe pick up a Danish or twelve, right, Sam?” I knew I was in the ballpark when he smiled again.

“That might actually help. Right now, I think some tests would be in order.” Chris pressed a lever on her office intercom and spoke. “Bob, I have a gentleman in my office that needs testing. Would you come in here, please? Thanks you.” Releasing the intercom, she turned back to her latest patient. Lucky dog.

“Mr. Helstrom, I’d like to have some x-rays of your skull made. A blood test would be good, too. If you don’t mind.”

“By all means. Anything that will help.”

“Good.” A young man in hospital whites entered as Chris was speaking to Helstrom. Nodding at the young man, she introduced him. “This is Bob, my assistant. He’ll take charge of you for a short while, Mr. Helstrom. Bob, cranial x-rays and a complete blood series. Don’t worry, Mr. Helstrom, you’re in good hands. You won’t feel a thing,” she said with that warm smile. “Thanks, Bob,” she said as the assistant and Helstrom left the office.

After the door was closed, Chris began interrogating Sam and me.

“Where did he come from, and what happened to him?”

“Haven’t a clue,” I said. “And we need to find out quick. Apparently, he’s got a briefcase stuffed full of about two hundred thousand bucks worth of phoney cash, and some papers with the name of our agency all over ‘em.”

“What on earth is going on?”

“That’s what we’re trying to find out, and then help him recover his memory. If you can fix him, maybe we can find out why we’re supposed to be associated with the money.”

“I’ll do my best, but, in cases like this, it’s better to wait. I can’t promise immediate results. If the blood tests show something chemical as the cause, he may be fine in a day or two. If it’s physical or mental, it could take longer.”

“I don’t think we have longer. Can we leave him with you, for a couple of days, if needed?” Sam asked.

“Of course. He’ll be safe here. And a good deal more comfortable than in any of those places you guys usually hide your clients.”

“You’re probably right. We’ll join up with Nick and see if he’s learned anything.” Same pulled a shiny new light out of his pocket. “Hello, Nick? Can you talk?”

“Go ahead, Sam. Where are you?” Nick’s voice seemed to come from out of nowhere.

“We’re still at the doc’s office. Helstrom is going to stay here for a while. Where are you?”

“I’m at Orb and Will’s office, current time. Are you coming here?”

“Soon as we say goodbye to the doc.” Chris smiled at me and wiggled her fingers at Sam.

“Get here as soon as you can. I’ve got the briefcase and I want you two to see what’s in it.”

Sam reached over and grabbed my upper arm tightly, and then said, “We’re on our way. Location: O and W, current time, Geronimo.”

Dr. Lowell didn’t even flinch when we disappeared. She’s seen it happen before.


Sam and I reappeared in the private offices of our cousins, Orbille and Willver Coconolte, located with the Time-Zone Labs complex.

“Hello, boys. How’s life treating you?” Will asked.

“No major complaints. Yet. What’s in the bag?” I asked.

“Take a gander at this this,” Nick said as he handed me a stack of fifties, and Sam a handful of official looking papers.

“Gee, these sure are pretty.” I probably had a gleam in my eye. “Not worth the paper they’re printed on, are they?”

“Actually, the paper is worth quite a bit,” Orb told me, smiling.

“Really, how much?” That gleam got a bit brighter, I’m sure.

“A few years in a federal prison, at least.” As he explained, Orb retrieved the stack of phoney cash. “This is the same special rag paper used by the U.S. Treasury to produce American currency. Possession of this paper in any form other than genuine cash is illegal for U.S. citizens.”

“You mean, I could be arrested just for having blank paper?” I was a little shocked.

“Yes, however, this is neither blank, nor genuine currency.”

“Then, it’s not real money from the future?”

“Nope. The only American money you’ll ever see with a 1940 date will be coins,” Will said. “As soon as Nick gave us the briefcase for examination, we checked with the Historical Research Section of the Accounting Department. The United States will never issue a series 1940 fifty dollar bill. Even the Treasury boys would swear these were real, if they didn’t have that date.”

I glanced at the money in Orb’s hand and asked, “Where did all this stuff come from, and why?”

“Well. It’s certainly not the work of any gang or crime organization here in the states. This was made by someone with unlimited time and resources, not to mention money,” Orb said.

“I may have an idea where it came from,” Sam said, holding up the papers in his hand.

“What have you got?” I asked.

“Just some official German documents. I can only make out about one word in twenty, but it looks like a payoff list. For Nazi spies and saboteurs.”

“Very good, Sam. That’s exactly what it is. Our Linguistics Section has made a complete translation. Now,” Will showed Sam a page farther down in the stack, “look at this part of the list, here. Notice anything?”

“WHAT?! Phil! Look at this!”

I looked at the line Sam’s large finger was indicating and read aloud what I could. “’Coconolte Investigation Agency: Nicholas, Philip, und Samuel: 30,000$.’ Why is the dollar sign at the end? And does this unpronounceable part mean they want to bribe us or something?”

“Many Europeans place the money symbol at the end of the amount,” Nick said, and then frowned before continuing, “the rest of it says ‘for information and services rendered.’”

“I don’t understand.” I was more puzzled now than when Helstrom told us his story. “How can that be? Nick, if anyone were to see this, things could get very complicated for us.”

“I realize that. But we’re not the only ones. Look at some of the other names. There are some very important people listed there. And not just in this city. All of the major cities on the west coast are there.”

I looked back at the list. “The Governor of Idaho?! What the hell is going on? I was worried about the Treasury Department catching us with counterfeit cash, but this…” I took the papers from Sam and started waving them about, stating the obvious, “this makes us look like part of a big Nazi spy ring!”

Will grabbed the papers from me before they went flying. “That’s exactly what it’s meant to do.”

“Why? What did we, and all these other people, do to deserve this? If J. Edgar even suspected the existence of these papers, he’d have agents knocking down doors all along the coast before sunset.”

“Or sooner,” Nick said, trying to calm me down. “If the German Secret Service could tie up several American government agencies with a nice juicy, wild goose chase, think of what their real agents could accomplish in the meantime.”

Realization dawned on me brighter than any sunrise.

After a moment, when I could finally put my thoughts into coherent form, I spoke softly. “America is going to become involved in this next war, in a big way, right, Orb?”

“I’m afraid so. We’ve learned that the future is not guaranteed to happened the way we may experience it when we go exploring. Lots of little things have to happen just right. Right now, lots of big things are occurring that Will and I believe will overcome the little things that could prevent the next war. We can’t stop it, but we can stop this insidious plot.”

“How?” I asked.

My older brother had the answer ready. “First, we have to learn more about our new client. Specifically, is he part of it voluntarily, or is he a pawn, like us?” Nick turned to our cousins. “If Helstrom isn’t faking this amnesia thing, can we bring him here to try restoring his memory?”

“Here, yes, but now, no. Have Dr. Lowell take him to her office in the Labs’ Med Center. Tell her to take him to the year 2070. There are people and facilities that are better equipped then.”

“Thanks, Orb. This case has suddenly developed some very scary overtones. We can’t go to the authorities without looking suspicious, and I’m afraid Helstrom’s friends may start looking for him or us, pretty soon.”

“Don’t worry, Nick. If you can’t clear this up, Will and I can relocate the three of you where no one would ever think to look.”

“I hear Cleopatra is always on the lookout for personal bodyguards,” Will said, smiling brightly. “Pity, she’s only four foot tall and better than two hundred pounds.”

“I’ll definitely keep that in mind. I’ll talk to Chris.”

“Will and I shall head to Boston and research Helstrom for you.”

“Great. That will give us more time to look for Helstrom’s… uh, associates here. Please, Orb, don’t try anything heroic.”

“Me, a hero? Don’t be absurd. I’m just a mad scientist. Well, not really mad, but I’m pretty much ticked off by all this. Will, on the other hand, might try something foolish, especially if there are any unattached young ladies involved.” Will flashed his ‘Who, me?’ grin. “Go on, get out of here and get to work.”

So Nicholas, Philip, und Samuel commanded their temporal units, and disappeared.

The man who never was

    “There are traces of something in Mr. Helstrom’s blood, but we have no idea what it might be.” The lovely doctor (your lovely great-grandmother) was giving us the skinny on what little she had learned about our client’s medical condition. “Physically, there’s nothing wrong with him, aside from being a little overweight. No marks, bruises, not even a tender spot. Apparently, he’s been drugged. Unfortunately, I know of nothing that could cause memory loss of this severity.”

    “Do you think it will wear off?” Nick asked.

    “I hope so. I’m afraid that if he had received a larger dose of whatever is in his system, he might be comatose, or quite possibly dead, right now.”

    “I’ve heard that some of those Nazi types are a cold bunch of s.o.b.’s, but, I can’t believe any of ‘em, fanatic or not, would volunteer for something like this.” Sam was really disgusted by what we had learned.

    “I’d be very much surprised if Helstrom was given a chance to volunteer. After looking over the translation of that payoff list, I don’t think the goons that cooked up this little plan ever considered the welfare of any of the people that are to be involved.” I was still simmering about the whole thing, myself.

    “You may be on to something, Phil.” Nick had that thoughtful look that sometimes meant trouble for someone. Usually us. “What if Helstrom wasn’t supposed to wake up? Handing the briefcase over to us wouldn’t guarantee that the Feds would get it. If we were the greedy type, we might dump Helstrom, and pocket the cash, real or not. And, we’d have to be pretty dumb to let anyone else see our names on the list. I’m beginning to think that someone in the hotel was supposed to find Helstrom, and call the cops. Ten minutes later, the FBI is ringing doorbells. I also think Helstrom is just an innocent bystander, probably grabbed off the street in Boston. Hopefully, Orb and Will may find something there. Chris, they’ve given the okay for you to take Helstrom to your office at the Med Center in 2070. You’ll be able to do more for him there.”

    “I hope so. He seems like such a nice old guy. I really would like to help him.”

    “You will, with the right help. And just in case his real personality is different, I want you to take Sam with you. Right, Sam?"

    “I am on duty as you speak.”

    “Good. Phil, you and I are going to give room 247 the once over with Murph. It’s a good think he and I are old friends. Anyone else would probably have kept the briefcase, or turned it over to the cops.”

    “I wouldn’t have,” Chris said. She had a glow in her eyes whenever she looked at Nick in those days. Still has now.

    “That’s only because you were foolish enough to fall for Nick.” I know, I sounded envious. Still am.

    “Enough soap opera. We all have things to do. Let’s go, Phil.” Nick was a little mixed up about her then. Still is, but now he enjoys the feeling.

    Nick and I disappeared for the Carleton Hotel while your great-grandmom and your great-granduncle Sam went to work.

    Chris buzzed her assistant on the intercom and said, “Bob, would you bring Mr. Helstrom into my office?”

    “He may be asleep, doctor.”

    “You’ll have to wake him, gently, please. He’s as anxious to remember as we are to help him.”

    “I’m on my way, doctor.”

    “Thanks, Bob.” She looked up and said, “Okay, Sam, straight to 2070?”

    “That would probably be best. Tell him we’re going to a newer part of the hospital for further testing.”

    “Alright. I hope he doesn’t notice the difference in hospital uniforms and equipment.”

    “As concerned as he is with his own past, I doubt if he’ll even notice the future.”

    A light rap at the door signaled Bob’s arrival with Helstrom.

    “Come in, please.”

    The door opened and Helstrom entered wearing one a loose fitting robe over a pair of hospital issue pajamas, while Bob stood in the doorway.

    “Mr. Helstrom, please, sit down. Bob, we’re going to be in conference for a while. Would you see that we’re not disturbed?”

    “Yes, doctor.” Bob smiled and closed the door silently as he left.

    As Helstrom sat down before Chris’s desk, she opened the conversation with her brilliant smile.     “Mr. Helstrom, how are you feeling?”

    “Much better that I did this morning, thank you.”

    “Fine. You look more relaxed, too. Has anything come back to you?”

    “No, I’m afraid not. I did have a very strange dream while I was napping.”

    “Would you mind telling me about it while Sam…Mr. Coconolte is here?”

    “I don’t mind. Perhaps it will aid the investigation.”

    “Tell us as much as you can remember, then.”

    “Well, it wasn’t very clear. Rather disjointed, actually. I was lying down somewhere. On a bed, I believe. There were people bending over me, like they were examining me. Odd, now that I think about it, one of them seemed to be measuring me, somewhat like a tailor might. They were speaking amongst themselves all the while, as though I weren’t there.”

    “Do you remember what they were talking about?”

    “I couldn’t understand what they were saying. It was gibberish, very guttural. Nothing made much sense. Their actions, what they were saying, nothing. Then, everything just went black. And I felt as if I were enclosed in a small space.”

    “Is that when you woke up?

    “No, I thought the dream was over when I seemed to open my eyes and found myself looking up at a ceiling. It was different from what I could see in the first part of the dream. I could hear someone moving around, but I could not move my head to look around. I felt as though I was paralyzed. Everything looked hazy, like smoke drifting in the air. A man stepped into my field of vision and looked down at me. He said something I couldn’t understand. I wanted to tell him I didn’t know what he wanted, but I couldn’t event blink my eyes.

    “The man laughed. It was a…. menacing laugh. He turned and spoke again, and another man came into view. The second man leaned near and looked at my eyes closely, and I think he checked my pulse, but my arms felt like they were a million miles away.

    “This second man then took a slim case out of his coat pocket. He opened the case and took out a syringe. I could see that it contained something liquid. He leaned near again and the syringe moved out of my sight. I couldn’t see what he was doing, but, there was a sensation somewhere, and, everything went black again. Shortly after that, your assistant Bob, woke me, very gently.”

    There was a moment of silence, finally broken by Sam. “Was anything at all familiar? Faces, voices, clothes?”

    “Nothing. Wait! The ceiling differed from the ceiling in the earlier part of the dream, but it looked very much like what I remember of the ceiling in the hotel room this morning.”

    “Mr. Helstrom,” Chris said as he stood from her chair and circled around the desk, “I’d like for you to undergo another test. Would you mind that?”

    “Not at all.” Helstrom stood, shifting the ill-fitting hospital robe slightly.

    “We must find something more comfortable for you to wear. Please, come with me. Perhaps you should accompany us, Sam?”

    “Right behind you.”

    Dr. Lowell took Helstrom’s arm and led him to a door that is normally the entrance to a coat closet. However, for non-normal occasions, when she opens this door, there is no closet. On this occasion, there was a large, airy, well-lighted corridor of a very ultra-modern medical facility behind the door.

    “Right this way, Mr. Helstrom. I’m going to take you to a special examination room. First, however, we’ll stop and find a nicer robe for you,” Christ said as she guided him slowly along the corridor, Sam following a step or two behind, watching Helstrom closely. 


    Room 247 of the Carleton Hotel; Nick and I were carefully searching for…?

    “What are we looking for, Nick? Murphy Wollenski asked as he helped.

    “I haven’t the faintest idea, Murph. But if we don’t find it, the Coconolte Boys may have to take an extended vacation somewhere, far away.”

    “Level with me, Nick. How did you guys ever get involved with these Nazi goons?”

    “We didn’t. They got involved with us. Our theory is that they picked a bunch of random names to make up a phoney payoff list. False names would have been spotted right off. Real names would keep a lot of guys busy running around asking questions. I hate to admit, but it’s a great red herring to toss in front of the government bloodhounds.”

    “Why don’t you just destroy all the papers and funny money? I don’t like to suggest this, but you could leave your client somewhere and swear that you’ve never seen him before.”

    “We can’t do that to him. He may be as innocent in this as we are. Maybe more so,” I said. “And we can’t just burn everything. We have to find someone to hand over to the FBI with all the evidence. If we don’t nail them now, they may try again.”

    “Okay, but if it doesn’t work out, I’ll be happy to appear as a character witness for you guys.”

    “Thanks, Murph. I knew we could count on you. Well, what do we have here?” Nick said, as he found something under the mattress of the single bed.

    It was a slim box, like a cigar case. Wollenski and I crowded around Nick as he opened it to reveal a syringe containing a small amount of liquid. “I wonder what’s in this?” he muttered as he examined the unpleasant little device.

    “Dr. Lowell?” I asked.

    “Yes… I believe she would be most interested in this. It’s beginning to look like Mr. Helstrom is apparently a narcotic user of some sort. This would explain to the police why his body would have been found in your hotel, Murph.”

    “Do you mean, he was supposed to be found here… dead?” Wollenski asked, with a most incredulous look on his face.

    “’Fraid so. Luckily, he’s a little tougher than he looks.”

    “That’s enough for me, Nick. Whatever you need from me, you got it.”

    “Thanks, Murph. Can you make it look like he was never here?”

    “Who was never here? Helstrom? Can’t say as I’ve ever heard of him. Besides, this room hasn’t been used in a couple of weeks,” Wollenski said, grinning.

    “Great. Uh, find out if the man who never was, paid with a fifty dollar bill, would you?”

    “Right. You two clean out all of whatsis names luggage, and I’ll grab whatever the front desk has on him. Including any portraits of President Grant.”

    “Thanks, Murph. Package it all up and send over to the office with someone you trust. If no one’s there, leave it with Mollie across the street. I’ll cover the cash angle if any more of those bogus bills are still around.”

    “I’m on my way downstairs now.”

    As Wollenski started out the door, Nick called to him. “we haven’t seen each other since before this room was last rented, right?”

    “Right! Good luck, boys!”

    Nick and I began policing up the items left to give credence to Helstrom’s existence. Which didn’t take very long.

    “Are we going to sneak this stuff down the backstairs? I asked when we had finished packing everything we could find into the single suitcase.

    “Someone might see us. Let’s jump straight to the Labs from here. If this stuff has to disappear, Orb and Will can handle it better than anyone else can.”

    “I sure am glad we’re related to them. If they wanted to get rid of someone- zaah-looom!”

    Nick was digging out his special lighter as he commented. “How’d you like to testify in court to that? ‘Exactly how did they dispose of the body, Mr. Coconolte? Well, the carried it back in time about a zillion years and dropped it into a volcano.’ Right.” Holding his lighter, he spoke to it. “Hello, Orb, Will? Can you hear me?”

    “Go ahead, Nick.” Cousin Orb’s voice seemed to come from everywhere, and yet nowhere.

    “May we store some luggage in your office?”

    “Is it dangerous?”

    “Not in any physical sense.”

    “Fine by me. Just don’t dump it on Will’s desk. You may not see it again.”

    “I’ll have Phil drop it off. I have something to give Dr. Lowell. Where are you two?”

    We’re in Boston, current time. Looks like Helstrom’s address is a fake. There’s nothing about him as Helstrom, here. What should we do now?”

    “Come on back. You’ve probably got more important things to attend to here.”

    “Yes, we do. And we have all the time there is to do them. Does this ‘luggage’ belong to Helstrom?”

    “That’s how it’s supposed to look.”

    “We’ll give it a thorough going over. We might turn up a clue or a lead, or whatever.” Orb sounded like he was enjoying himself.

    “If you have time- forget I said that. I’ll be in touch.”

    “Junior Detectives Orb and Will signing off.”

    Nick looked at me and smiled. “Phil, wait at the office for word from Murph, after you deliver Helstrom’s luggage.”


    Nick and I made one last pass looking for anything we missed, then Nick left for 2070, and I jumped to the Labs, leaving no sign that anyone had been in room 247 of the Carleton Hotel for several days.
Are those for me, too?

    Nick finally located Dr. Lowell in an observation room of the Time-Zone Labs Medical Facility. The darkened room had one wall that was all glass, top to bottom, side to side. A one way mirror, apparently, as there were three people on the other side of the glass in a similar room. They seemed to be unaware of anyone watching them.

    With Dr. Lowell were two elderly men and a young man. The young man was wearing a very modern version of a hospital uniform, while the two elderly gentlemen wore lab coats over their street clothes. Nick recognized the latter two as our cousins of the year 2070. (“Hey, that’s this year! “That’s right, A.J., they’re over at the Labs right now working on this case with us.” “And here for Gramps birthday at the same time!” “Ain’t science amazing?”) The two cousins had to be at least up to their second century, but they both looked like a youthful eighty-five.
    As Nick entered the room, Dr. Lowell quickly crossed over to him and slipped into his arms for a moment, lucky guy.

    “Hello, stranger. I haven’t seen you in years,” she said quietly.

    “I’ve been around. What’s up?”
    “Your dear cousins in this time-frame have been very helpful. Their med lab has been able to identify the chemical in Mr. Helstrom’s blood.”

    “Chemical? Not a drug?”

    “Well, all drugs are chemical compounds, either natural or man-made, but this is something that has never been used as a drug. The compound we found was originally developed by the German rocket fuel program during World War two, while they were trying to make a synthetic fuel,” Dr. Lowell explained. “How and why it got into Mr. Helstrom’s blood, we may never know, but we’re sure that’s what cause his memory loss, and almost killed him.”

     “Hmmm, I wonder if this,” Nick said as he withdrew the slim syringe case from a pocket, “might have some of that same stuff in it?”

    “Where did you get this?” Dr. Lowell asked, with a look of surprise. “It looks like something Dr. Helstrom described from a dream he had.”

    “It was hidden under the mattress in his hotel room. I think it was planted, and meant to be found with his body.”

    The older cousins drifted over to Nick and Chris when they began to act more businesslike.

    “Do you know what’s in it?” Orb asked.

    “I was hoping to find out here.” Nick handed the slim case and syringe to Orb.

    Orb turned to the young med tech. “Stan, would you run this to the analysis lab and get a priority run made?”

    “Yes, Professor, right away.” Stan took the case gingerly and headed for the door.

    “Thanks, Stan,” Orb called to him, “and wait for the results, will you? I want them as soon as possible.” Turning back to Nick, he took an envelope from an outside pocket of his lab coat. The envelope was yellow with age. “This is for you, Nick.”

    “For me? What is it?”

    “You’re the investigator, investigate.”

    Nick ‘investigated’ the front of the yellowed envelope. A memo, scrawled in a familiar hand: ‘To be delivered to Nick Coconolte immediately upon his arrival in 2070 C.E. RE: The Helstrom Case’. “Immediately, huh? Why didn’t you hand it over as soon as I walked in?”

    “You were somewhat… occupied.”

    “I see you have other similar envelopes in that pocket. Are they for me, too?”

    “Some of them, but they’re not due for delivery, yet. You might call me a ‘Temporal Postman’.” Orb had that Cheshire cat smile of his.

    “I think I understand,” Nick said, trying to wink slyly. He opened the old envelope gently and unfolded the brittle note:

Hello, Nicholas! Read this quickly before it disintegrates. This is to bring you up to date (HA!) on Mr. Helstrom’s background in Boston: ZIP‼ Not even a birth certificate (of authenticity at least,) not for any Erich Helstrom.

As to the ‘luggage’ left in the office, nothing ‘funny’ or unusual in any of it. No secret compartments in the suitcase, nothing hidden in the linings of the overcoat or clothing.

The briefcase itself is a little different. We found the false bottom. It’s at least twenty years old, but shows absolutely no sign of wear or age. Like it was made only yesterday. 1939 yesterday, not yesterday where you are now. Will had Historic Research in the Purchasing Dept. check it out. The manufacturer discontinued that line of luggage in 1922. Will then had Product Testing look at it. That bag has made at least one temporal excursion. As soon as I seal up this note and drop it into my ‘To be delivered’ file, Will and I are jumping back to Boston. I’m sure we’ll find a temporal field disturbance somewhere. This is just the excuse Will’s been looking for to try out his newest detector/tracer unit. 

You’ll hear from us. Good luck with Helstrom. Orb-1939

    “Damn!” Nick muttered. “I hope they don’t do anything foolish and get into trouble. I’ll-“  He suddenly realized that the older versions of his cousins were smiling at him. “If you’re here to deliver this, I guess you didn’t have ny trouble,” he said, sheepishly.

    “Smooth as silk,” Will offered.

    “So, what did you find out?”

    “I have no intention of spoiling the fun our younger counterparts are going to have making their reports to you when you return to your normal time-frame,” Orb said.

    “Okay, Then I guess it’s time to crack Helstrom. What’s going on in there?” Nick asked, gesturing to the one-way glass wall.

    Behind the glass wall, in the room next door, Helstrom was reclining on a very comfortable looking couch. Next to the couch sat a young, redheaded woman in a white lab coat, on a chair. She had a small, barely discernible device in her ear. Over in a corner sat the ever vigilant Sam, keeping an eye on Helstrom.

    “Your cousins have suggested that we try a little holistic hypnotic regression to restore Mr. Helstrom’s memory,” Dr. Lowell said to Nick.

    “Who-sis hypnotic repression? I’m lost already. Hypnosis I’ve heard of, and seen in action, regrettably.”

    “Holistic hypnosis is slightly different in that it doesn’t focus the minds concentration in one direction or on one thought to induce a trance-like state. Rather, the holistic therapist guides the subject’s subconscious into a state of free-association, allowing-"

    “Hold on, Orb! I can’t even begin to understand any of this. All I need to know is: will it work?”

    “There’s only one way to find out.” Orb stepped over to a panel set flush into the wall, next to the one-way glass. There was a speaker in the panel, along with controls for communication and room lighting. He flipped one switch, and the voice of the young woman was heard as she spoke softly to Helstrom.

    Orb turned to Nick to explain. “We can communicate with Miss Harris through the receiver she’s wearing. She can hear us, but Helstrom won’t. We can give her our questions without disturbing him.” Turning to the panel, he spoke quietly. “How’s he doing, Miss Harris?”

    The young woman made a slight gesture with her hand, without looking towards the observers.

    “He’s ready, Nick. What shall we ask him?”

    Nick looked at Dr. Lowell. “Any suggestions, Chris?”

    “Has Miss Harris worked with amnesiacs before? She asked the elderly cousins.

    “Oh, my yes. She’s a consultant to us. She’s helped several of our historical researchers through some very traumatic events. Memory recovery is one of her specialties.”

    “Then I would suggest that we let her use her own judgement. If she’s successful, then we can give her specific questions for Mr. Helstrom. Or whomever he becomes.”

    “Very good.” Orb turned back to the com panel to relay the instructions. “Miss Harris, you may begin in your own way. When you are satisfied with his progress, we’ll have some questions for him.” He then adjusted the volume control to allow all in the observation room to hear any results clearly.

    Miss Harris nodded almost imperceptibly to indicate that she understood. “How do you feel?” she asked gently.

    “Very relaxed, almost like I’m floating on a fluffy cloud.” Helstrom’s eyes were closed and his hands were resting across his chest.

    “Are you ready to answer a few questions?”

    “Yes. Will they be difficult?”

    “That depends on what you can remember. Don’t think about the questions. I want you to tell me the first thing that comes to mind.”

    “Even if it has nothing whatever to do with the question?”

    “Yes, your first thoughts might be important in another way. Now what was your age on your last birthday?”

    “I was fifty-five last April.”

    “Where were you born?

    “Boston, Massachusetts.”

    “Where do you live, now?”

    “In Boston.”

    “Have you ever been outside of Boston?”

    “Yes, I’ve traveled to other cities, mostly for business purposes.”

    “Have you ever visited Europe?”

    “No. I’ve always wanted to, but after all the conflict there in the last few years, I suppose I’ll never get there, now.”

    “What sort of business are you in?”

    “I’m a banker. A bank president, actually.”

    (“How could a banker get involved with counterfeit cash and Nazi trash?” Nick whispered to his fellow observers.)

    “Do you have a family?”

    “Yes. I have a wife and two lovely children.”

    “What are their names?”

    “My wife’s name is Elizabeth, my daughter’s name is Mary Louise, and my son’s name is- is- I think my son is named after me, but it keeps slipping away.”

    “Relax. Let it come to you. How long have you been married?”

    “My wife and I have been very happily married for twenty-five years now.”

“When will your son celebrate his next birthday?”

    "She’s trying to sneak up on his son’s name from another direction. No wonder she’s the best,” Will said.

    “On the fourth of July. While he was still very young, Georgie thought all the fireworks were for him.”

    “Your son’s name is George?”

    “Why, yes. George Albert Kaplan, Junior. He’s a fine young man now.”

    “Bingo! I’ll initiate a records search on Mr. Kaplan, AKA Helstrom, as soon as she digs out his birthdate,” Will told the group.

    Kaplan was continuing. “His mother and I were so afraid he would be called up during the problems in Europe. We’re all so glad the fighting is over. The signing of the treaty will make a lot of people feel better.”

    Kaplan’s last remarks had raised a few eyebrows, but the real shocker was still waiting in the wings for its cue.

    “Mr. Kaplan?”


    “May I call you George?”

    “Please do. I feel like such an old man when a pretty young woman addresses me as ‘mister’.”

    “Tell me, George, when were you born?” Apparently, Miss Harris was tuned in to the observation room more so than expected.

    Kaplan signed before responding. A deep, sorrowful sigh. “I was born on a very sad day in American history.” Even with his eyes closed, his face reflected the sorrow he felt. “The day of my birth was the fourteenth of April, 1865. The very day President Lincoln was shot down by John Wilkes Booth.”

    There were four audible gasps in the observation room. Even Sam started. Miss Harris maintained her self-control, probably because of her experience with trauma patients.

    If Kaplan had actually been born in 1865, he would have been seventy-four years of age in 1939. Not the fifty-five he claimed while under hypnosis.

    Miss Harris was aware of the confusion amongst the observers when she spoke again to Kaplan. “George, I think this might be a good time to take a little break, don’t you?”

    “Yes. I would like to rest a bit.”

    “Go to sleep, then. I’ll wake you later.” At her suggestion, Kaplan was instantly asleep.

In the observation room, Orb turned to the control panel. “Miss Harris, would you join us for a short conference about Mr. Kaplan, please?”

    Nick whispered, “Sam.”

    “Ask Mr. Coconolte to come along also. Thank you.” Orb raised the room lights a bit and turned to Nick. “So, what do you think?”

    “I’m impressed. I’m going to start wearing a tag that reads: ‘If found wandering in an amnesic state, contact Miss Harris, care of Time-Zone Labs, immediately’.”

    Dr. Lowell ‘accidently’ poked Nick in the ribs with a petite elbow and said, “If you ever lose your memory, you can depend on me to help you recover, personally.” She was smiling very sweetly, all the while she spoke.

    Miss Harris and Sam entered then, and before anyone could speak, the med tech, Stan, appeared suddenly, in the center of the room. “I had the lab shoot me straight her, Professor, to save time. I realize interior jumps are against policy, but I was sure you’d want to see this ASAP.”

    Orb accepted the proffered analysis tab from the technician and scanned it. He showed it to Will, then handed it to Dr. Lowell. “Good work, Stan. Thank you. Would you go next door and stay with the patient for us? I’d rather he wasn’t disturbed for a while.”

    As Stan left, Miss Harris spoke up. “Don’t worry about disturbing him. He won’t awaken until I ask him to. It is a good idea not to leave him alone, though.”

    “What was in the syringe, Chris?” Nick asked the lovely doctor.

    “Heroin.” With a trace of the chemical we found in Helstrom’s- Kaplan’s blood,” she told him.

    “But no heroin in his blood?”

    “No. There was no trace of narcotic at all.”

    Nick had that thoughtful look he gets when he’s theorizing. You know, kinda like he can’t decide between apple pie or German chocolate cake at Mollie’s Diner.

    “They probably refiled the syringe just before leaving him in the hotel room to be found. His death would be written off with no real investigation, and the briefcase would become the center of attention.” He was talking more to himself than to the group.

    Before anyone else could add anything, Will managed to get their attention. “Why not kick this around over lunch? I’m starved.”

    This was looked upon by all as an excellent idea.
As they filed out of the observation room, Orb turned once more to the com panel. “Stan, we’re headed for the commissary for a bite to eat while we consider the patient’s problem. Shall I have them send you something? I believe today’s special is Beef Wellington.”

    “Thank you, Professor. That would be just fine.”

    “Good. We’ll be back shortly.” Orb dimmed the room lights and followed after the others.

I think not, Herr Kaplan.

    In a quiet corner of the huge Time-Zone Labs employee commissary, there was a table with a small sign standing in the center of the tabletop. It read: CONFERENCE IN SESSION.

    Seated around the table, A.J., were your great grandparents, Nick and Chris (not yet Dr. Lowell-Coconolte), our cousins Orb and Will of 2070, Miss Harris, and your other great-uncle, Sam.

    They had all just seated themselves and were about to begin devouring lunch when a shot rang out! Just kidding, A.J.  Actually, it was Nick’s temporal unit, demonstrating its secondary function. I was calling to report.

    “Hello, Nick, this is Phil.”
    Nick set the temporal on the tabletop in front of him. “Go ahead, Phil. We’re listening. Where are you?”

    “I’m in the office. A kid named Johnny from the Carleton just left an envelope with me. He said Murphy would strangle him if he didn’t deliver it, personally, to one of us.”

    “Johnny’s a good kid. What’s in the envelope?”

    “Not much. A registration card in the name of Erich Helstrom, a call slip for a ten a.m. wake up, receipt for payment in advance, one fifty dollar bill, and, a note from Murph.”

    “What’s Murphy got to say?” 

    “It says, and I quote: ‘You owe me fifty dollars U.S. and one of Mollie’s finest Sunday dinners’.”

    “Good old Murph. That should help screw up the Nazis for the moment,” Nick said, almost gleefully.

    “Hey, speaking of dinner,” I said from 1939, “do I have to sit around in the office all day, or can I go over to Mollie’s for lunch?”

    “Why don’t you join us, Phil? Orb asked. “We’re just sitting down to lunch in the commissary, now.”

    Walking up to the table with a tray covered with food, I replied, “Thanks, I’ll do just that.”

    “Glad to see you’re getting the hang of temporal convenience,” Will said to me as I sat down next to him.

    “I’m beginning to understand how Sam feels about having time for proper meals now. So, how’s Helstrom doing?”

    “Helstrom doesn’t exist,” Nick told me. “Our client’s real name is George Kaplan. He’s a banker from Boston.”

    “Okay, so he’s a banker from Boston sporting a phoney name,” I had raised my coffee for a healthy swig of that special T-ZL blend as I asked my next question. “Is he or isn’t he a Nazi spy?”

    “If he is,” Sam said, “he’s very well preserved for his age. Mr. George Albert Kaplan, Sr., AKA Erich Helstrom, was born the day Lincoln was shot in 1865.”

    Although I didn’t quite spray coffee over the entire table, I did manage to swallow considerably more that I had planned.

    Will was pounding me on the back as I was gasping for air and trying to speak at the same time. “HUCH! 18-huch! 1865?! You can stop now-ow! Will! I’m okay!”

    “Yes, 1865. Which makes him seventy-four in our time-frame.”

    “But he looks like he’s his fifties.”

    “Fifty-five is what he said under hypnosis, Mr. -?”

    I finally noticed the young woman sitting across the table from me. Probably the prettiest redhead I’d ever seen.

    After a pause I was able to make voluntary sounds again. “Uh, I’m Phil, the intelligent, good-looking brother of Nick and Sam,” I said, probably with a goofy smile. I was suddenly glad I had inhaled most of that coffee instead of exhaling it. A hot coffee shower does not a good impression make. “You remind me of someone I’ve never met, but always wanted to.” As soon as I said that, I realized how silly it sounded. But she smiled back!

    My name is Stephanie Harris. Sam told me that he’s the intelligent, good-looking brother, and Nick is the fatherly, always-there-to-help brother.”

    “I suppose he neglected to say anything at all about me, then?”

    “Well, yes,” she said, smiling shyly. “He said you were the dazzle-them-with-charm, wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing brother,” she said, glancing over at Sam.

    “Sam, did you really say that?”

    “No. I told her you were the promise-them-anything-but-don’t-get-caught-in-a-lie brother.”

    “I was trying to be polite, Mr. Coco- Phil.”

    “You two can discuss sibling rivalry later,” Will said with an impish grin. “Right now, Mr. Kaplan has priority.”

    “Yes, we must decide how to help him get back to his own life.” After looking at the expression on Nick’s face, Orb continued, “and we need more information about the perpetrators of this vile plot so our three favorite investigators can get on with their own lives, dull as that may be.”

    “It’s not just us,” Nick said. “A lot of headaches are in store for several people if this isn’t taken care of now, or should I say, back then.”

    “I suggest,” Will suggested, “that Miss Harris guide Mr. Kaplan’s memory up to the point of his abduction by these Nazty bastards. We’ll learn where, when, and how he fell into their clutches. Then, she can instruct him to ‘disremember’ anything that happened after the moment he was taken from his own time-frame. Once she’s satisfied that he’s fully recovered the memories of his own life, he can be returned to the point in time the event occurred.”

    “Why don’t’ we just go back and stop the whole thing at the beginning?” I asked.

    Before Orb or Will could say anything, Nick spoke up. “Maybe I can answer that. Follow my logic, would you, Orb? You’re always telling me that since the future hasn’t really happened yet, it’s not set in stone, until someone actually experiences it in normal space-time. We can visit the future, but we’d only be visiting one possible conclusion to a large set of variable parameters. Any of which can lead to a different outcome; maybe a major historical event, or nothing of any significance. Kaplan’s abduction is now a permanent part of his and our past. If we go back through time to change his past, we can spare him the ordeal he’s been through, but we’ll also change our past, and may not have any knowledge of the event at all. I don’t think we’d wind up in some sort of temporal ‘limbo,’ but I’m sure we wouldn’t prevent the Nazis from attempting the same thing somewhere else. We need to find out when and where they started from. If we don’t, we’ll be sitting around the office one day and there’ll be a knock at the door, followed by a dozen FBI agents.”

    Nick looked at me and smiled. “And Phil here would never have any reason, or time, to meet Miss Harris, right, Orb?”

    Orb had that smile he reserves only for his best pupils when they’ve shown that they can use the little gray cells correctly. “Nick, I think it’s time we get you enrolled in my “Temporal Philosophy’ course. Your reasoning is close enough for government work.”

    “I vote we go back and save Kaplan,” Sam said. “We’ll probably save Miss Harris from a lot of annoyance at the same time- OW! Is my shin in the way of your foot, Phil?”

    Ignoring his younger siblings; Sam and I; Nick tried to keep the strategy meeting going. “Orb, do you and Will have time to return Kaplan to his home-time?”

    “Nick, I keep telling you, we have all the time there is. It won’t be Will and I of this time-frame. It will be the us of your time-frame.”

    “Okay, then. Our job will be to track the guys responsible for leaving him at the hotel.”

    Miss Harris spoke up then. “He may be able to remember parts of that, even though he was unconscious at the time.” Although she was addressing the group, she was still looking at me. I know, wipe the smug look off my face.

    “There might be something useful there,” Nick said. “We know when he was checked into the hotel. If we jump back to the time that he arrived we can follow his… traveling companions.” Nick had that thoughtful look he gets when he’s trying to hold back a… belch. “Sam, you and Phil stake out the hotel the morning he was checked in. I’m going to watch Miss Harris work with Kaplan a bit longer, then I’ll join you.”


    Nick and the gang returned to the observation room, while Sam and I headed for the hotel the day Kaplan arrived.

    In the examination room, Mr. Kaplan looked quite peaceful as he slept. Stan, the med tech, was just finishing his lunch when Miss Harris entered.

    Looking up from his holographic thriller (Death Deals the Cards by Duke Kelton, Hearthstone Publishing, 92nd printing,) he greeted her. “Good afternoon, Miss Harris. Back to work again?”

    “Yes, Stan. Professor Coconolte has asked you remain here should I need assistance.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Stan moved to the chair previously occupied by Sam as Miss Harris sat down next to Mr. Kaplan. Turning towards the unseen observers, she said, “I’m ready.”

    In the dimly lit room next door, Orb told her to begin. “Bring him around. When you’re satisfied as to his state, we can continue the questioning.” He snapped the mike off and turned to the others. “This shouldn’t take long. What, exactly, do we wish to know?”

    “We need to know when, where, and how he was snatched from his time-frame,” Nick said. “After that, Miss Harris can finish her recovery work with him. What do you think, Chris?”

    “I don’t know much about chasing spies and saboteurs, but I think Mr. Kaplan should have the choice or remembering this horrific experience, or forgetting it completely. Can you really do that here?” she asked Orb.

    “Unfortunately, certain government agencies researched that sort of ‘treatment’ quite thoroughly in the latter half of the twentieth century. Now, it’s only used in extreme cases to help people.” Orb never really cared for tampering with someone’s free will. “If we give him the choice, and he accepts, we’ll do it. But I dislike the entire idea.”

    “At least,” Will interjected, “he won’t have ‘missing time’ or ‘implants’ to contend with.”

    “What’s ‘missing time’?” Nick asked.

    “Don’t worry about it. You’ll understand when you’re retired.”

     “Okay. But I don’t like the thought of Kaplan remembering anything about the future.”

    “Why not let him remember it all has a dream?” Will asked. “Then, if he does talk about it, no one will pay much attention to him.”

    “I like it. We should ask Miss Harris’ opinion,” Dr. Lowell said.

    “Speaking of Miss Harris, she’s signaling now,” Orb told them.

    Miss Harris was indeed making minute gestures to the group.

    “Miss Harris,” Orb directed to the com panel, “please ask him when and where he was kidnapped.”

    “George, do you remember being kidnapped?”

    “Why, yes, I do. I was just entering my office at the bank. It was 7:45, Monday morning.”

    “What was the date?”

    “It was the fifteenth of March, 1920.”

    “Please, tell me what happened.”

    “I had just said hello to Old Burt, the lobby guard. Good man, Burt, been with us for several years. As I was saying, I was unlocking my office door while chatting with Burt. I entered the office and closed the door. I then noticed a man sitting behind my desk. He looked at me and said, ‘Come in, Herr Kaplan. Setzen sie, bitte.’ I think that’s what he said. He gestured to a chair, like it was his office. I was flabbergasted.

    “How did you get in here?” I demanded. “I’m going to inform the police, immediately.” 

    He laughed. A particularly unpleasant laugh. I shan’t forget it. 

    ‘I think not, Herr Kaplan. You are going to do exactly what I want, alive or dead.’ His expression chilled my blood instantly.

    “What happened next, George?”

    “I asked him ‘What do you mean, alive or dead?’ and he gestured to something behind me.

    “When I turned to look, I was confronted by a tall, powerfully built, blond giant of a man, towering over me.

    “’What do you want? What are you going to do?’ I was suddenly more afraid that I had ever been in my entire life. My first thought when I saw the man behind my desk was robbery, but the sight of the huge blond man drove that entirely away.”

    “What did they do?”

    “The big man grabbed me by the throat with both hands and started choking me.

    “’Gently, Hermann. We don’t want any bruises,’ I heard the man at my desk say, as everything around me turned black.”

    “What happened when you regained consciousness, George?”

    “I don’t remember waking up at any time before I came to in the hotel room. I seemed to be asleep and dreaming for a long time. It was like being in a dream world, for days and days.” Kaplan was beginning to show signs of stress.

    “Are you uncomfortable, George?”

    “Some of the dreams bothered me. They still do.” He was perspiring lightly.

    “Why don’t you relax for a moment? Go to sleep. I’ll wake you in a few minutes.”

    “Thank you.” Kaplan was asleep in an instant.

    “Perhaps you should join us, Miss Harris.”


    The others were discussing what had just transpired as Miss Harris entered the room.

    “I’ve replayed Kaplan’s specifics to ourselves in Boston,” Will said. “They’re going to find out where his bank is in that time-frame.”

    “Good,” Nick said. “With that information, we can get him back to the moment he was taken,” he told Dr. Lowell.

    “Let us worry about that, Nick. It will give you more freedom to search for his abductors.”

    “That would be a big help, Will.” Turning to Miss Harris, Nick asked her, “Do you think they could have done something to Kaplan, physically, to cause those dreams?”

    “It’s possible, but he hasn’t complained of anything other than being throttled into unconsciousness.”

    “I couldn’t find any trace of abuse or mistreatment when I examined him earlier,” Dr. Lowell said.

    “Then it’s probable,” Miss Harris told the group, “that the chemical they used to affect his memory is also hallucinogenic. Not knowing where, or who, you are can be terribly frightening, and anything you see or hear but can’t understand will certainly make things worse, subconsciously.”

    Nick reflected on that for a moment, then said to Orb, “I hate just dumping him in your lap like this, but I have got to join Phil and Sam.”

    “Don’t worry about it. When he goes home, he’ll be good as new.”

    “Thanks, Orb. I’ve got to go.” Nick shook hands with his elder cousins, then Dr. Lowell stepped in for a quick hug. “I’ll see you later, or sooner. Tell Kaplan that this will all be over very shortly.”

    “I will. You be careful!”

    “I don’t need to be, I have the best guardian angels anyone could ask for.”

    After releasing the beautiful doctor, Nick spoke to Miss Harris. “Thank you for all you’ve done to help.”

    “I haven’t finished. There’s much to do yet.”

    “Uh… I can talk to Phil about not being a nuisance, if you like.”

    “I think I can handle him, if he comes back.”

    “He probably will. Basically, he’s a down to earth kinda guy.”

    “I’ve already figured that out. He’s a lot like his brothers and cousins. Now, go!”

    “Yes, ma’am.”

    And he fished out his temporal unit and got straight to the Agency office.

This could be the perfect way to tail someone

    Sam and I, however, weren’t in the office. We were waiting for Kaplan, AKA Helstrom, outside the Carleton Hotel, the day of his registration, to make an appearance, either alone, or accompanied by one or more companions. His visit to our office wasn’t to occur for several hours yet. The good guys were waiting for the bad guys to ride into town.
    “What time did the desk register show Helstrom checking in?” Sam asked me.

    “About five minutes from now,” I said, after glancing at my watch.    

    “I’ll be glad when this thing is over and done with. This whole spy bit has got me a little on edge.” Sam was leaning up against the building with his hat pulled down over his eyes.

    “You? On edge? Sam, you look like you’re practically asleep.”

    “Well, it has been a long day.”

    “Yeah. So far, about a hundred and thirty years long.”

    A large dark car pulled up in front of the hotel. The kind driven by gangsters in the movies.

    “Hey, Sam, this could be something.”

    Sam pushed his hat back on his head so he could take a peek.

    A tall distinguished looking gentleman stepped out of the car and walked up the steps into the hotel.

    “’s not him,” Sam muttered.

    After a few moments, the tall man reappeared at the hotel entrance and gestured to someone in the car.

    That someone got out from behind the steering wheel of the car and walked around to the passenger side. He was big. Big like your great-uncle Sam, only… bigger. Muscular. At least six foot eight, blond hair, cold stony expression. For some reason, I thought of icy blue eyes.

    The big man opened the rear passenger door and took out an old style valise and a briefcase, and set them on the sidewalk. The briefcase looked extremely familiar.

    He then helped another man out of the car. This man was short and plump and also familiar looking.

    “Sam, wake up. Time to go back to work. Helstrom has arrived.”

    But Sam was awake. Had been all through the little scene still unfolding before us. Now he was concentrating on watching the big guy help the little fat guy up the steps while balancing the valise and briefcase at the same time.

    “Helstrom looks a little drunk, don’t you think, Phil?”

    “Yeah. The first guy probably registered Kaplan, and they’re going to dump him up in room 247.”

    “Helstrom. We don’t know his name is Kaplan yet.”

    “Whatever. I’m going to call Nick.” I took my ‘sometimes’ cigarette lighter from a pocket and rang up Nick. “Hello, Nick, where are you?”

    “Go ahead, Phil. What’s up?”

    “The pigeon has gone to the roost.”

“What the hell are you talking about? Are you and Sam watching the hotel from the bar?”

    “No, of course not. We’re outside. Helstrom just arrived.”

    “Why didn’t you say so? Is he alone?”

    “No, there are two guys with him. Actually, he’s with two guys. One’s a tall, old geezer, acts like a bigshot. The other is younger, and big; bigger than Sam, blond hair and a muscular build.”

    “Probably one of those perfect Aryan soldiers I’ve heard about. Kaplan mentioned them under hypnosis. They’re the ones that snatched Kaplan from Boston. How did they arrive?”

    “Big black car. Like something out of a ‘B’ picture.”

    “Okay, I’ll jump to the room after they leave him.”

    “Are you going to try to wake him?”

    “No, I just want to check on him, make sure he’s still breathing. How are you going to follow the car?”

    Before I could react to Nick’s question, Sam barged into the conversation.

    “Got it covered, Nick. We’ll jump to the roof of the hotel to watch the car. When it leaves, we’ll jump to another roof about a block ahead in the direction it goes. We should be able to keep it in sight at all times that way.”

    “You’re really enjoying this, aren’t you? Get up to the roof and call me as soon as they drive off.”

    “Right, we’re on our way.”

    Sam and I casually wandered into the nearby alleyway and out of sight before using our temps to reposition ourselves up on the roof about five minutes in the past.

    Looking down at the street below, Sam pointed and said, “Hey, Phil. You have to see this.”

    “What? I asked, quite innocently. When I looked down, I suddenly felt dizzy. Not from the height, but from what I saw below: Sam and myself walking towards the alley. “This is spooky, Sam.”

    “That’s nothing. Take a look over there.”

    I turned to look in the new direction he was pointing, towards another building, about two blocks away.

    I could see two men standing on the roof, one tall, the other about average. I couldn’t see them clearly enough to recognize them, but they looked familiar. Suddenly the taller one began waving his hat in the air.

    “What’s he up to, Sam?”

    “I think he’s trying to get our attention. Now he’s pointing down, towards the front of this building.”

    I looked down just in time to see the big black car pull away from the curb and head in the direction of the building the gesturing man was standing on.

    “Uh, Sam, I think they’re leaving.”

    “Hello, Nick. They’ve left the hotel, and we’re following. Our for now. Let’s go, Phil.”

    “Where?” I asked.

    “That way,” Sam said, pointing in the direction of the building where the two men were standing. Or had been. He grabbed my arm and sent us hurtling through time and space to our next stop.


    We reappeared on the rooftop we have just been looking at. Looking back, I could see myself and Sam standing on the roof of the Carleton Hotel, just looking around and not down.

    Abruptly, Sam took off his hat and began waving it around.

    “What are you doing?” I asked.

    “Trying to tell those two to stop rubbernecking and watch the car.” When they were looking at us, Sam pointed down towards the street in front of the hotel. “Good, they got the message. Which way is the car going, Phil?”

    “It just turned north, in the direction of that building.”

    “Which building?” Sam asked, looking around.

    “The one with the two guys standing on the roof. See, the big one looks like he’s waving hello, and smiling.”

    Sam smiled at me and said, “Ya know, Phil, this could be the perfect way to tail someone.”

    “For you, maybe. I’m still confused.”

    “Don’t worry. Just let it take care of itself. The holistic way.”

    “The what?”

    “If you see Miss Harris again, I’m sure she’ll explain it to you. In complete detail. Come on,” Sam said, grabbing my arm again, “it’s time to be moving on.”


    Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Nick had silently appeared in the middle of room 247. He glanced about to make sure he was alone. Well, not totally alone; Kaplan was unconscious on the bed.

    Nick stepped over and gently touched the artery in Kaplan’s throat. The pulse was slow, but steady, and his breathing sounded regular. Satisfied that the unconscious man would awaken, he started a quick search of the room.

    “Damn. I wish I could dump all this stuff and give the hospital an anonymous tip.”

    When he was certain Kaplan would be safe, Nick slipped out of the room and headed for the stairs to the roof. Once on the roof, he looked about, trying to locate Sam and me. Unfortunately, we were out his sight and time.

    “Hello, Sam, Phil.” What are you up to?”

    “We’re still tracking the car. Where are you?”

    “I’m on the hotel roof. Where are you?”

    “About a mile north of you. Hold on a minute, we have to jump again.”

    Nick waited anxiously while a silent moment passed.

    “Okay, Nick. We’re on top of the Grace Brothers Department Store. The car is still going north on fourth. We’ll have to jump again in about two minutes. How’s Kaplan?”

    “He’s alive and safe. He should wake up okay, in time to visit the office.”

    “Good. If we can follow these two to their hideout, what do you want us to do?”

    “Don’t try to take them. Watch ‘em and call me.”

    “You got it. What are you going to do now?”

    “I’m going to try and find Orb and Will. They may have more information for us by now.”

    “Whoops! Phil’s getting excited again. They’ve turned down a side street. Gotta go, Nick.”

    “Good luck, guys. Be careful” There was no answer from us, so Nick gave the command to take him to Time-Zone Labs, and disappeared from the roof of the Carleton Hotel.

The Chessboard Theory of Time and Space

    “What do you see, Phil?”

    “They’ve just driven into a warehouse.” I was peeking over the low wall running around the top of the warehouse roof that Sam and I had ended our car chase on.

    Sam was sitting on the roof with his legs straight out in front of him, leaning back against the low wall. “What is it about warehouses? I heard him mutter.

    “How can we be sure they won’t go out some other door?”

    “We’ll just have to watch all four sides at once,” Sam said with that grin that occasionally foreshadowed an adventure.

    “And how do the two of us watch four sides of one building… you’re not going to bounce me around time and space some more, are you?”

    “No, no, no,” Sam sighed, as with a slow child, then struggled to his feet. “It’s very simple. You go to that corner of this building,” he said, pointing to one side. “You’ll be able to see two sides of the building they’re in from there. I’ll jump over to the building on the other side. From there I can watch the other sides, okay?”

    “Not bad, Einstein. How did you ever figure that out so quickly?”

    “I didn’t. I learned it the hard way doing guard duty in the corps. I’m going. I might stop for lunch on the way. Do you want anything?”    

    “We don’t have time for… forget I said that. If you stop, bring me a sandwich-” but he was gone before I finished.

    Only to reappear a block away on the other rooftop.


    After an eternity, or maybe just an hour of inactivity, Sam buzzed me over the temporal circuit.

    “Hey! Wake up over there!”

    “I’m awake. What do you want, Sam?”

    “I’m about ready to doze off over here. I need something to stay awake.”

    “Something such as…?”

    “I want to go exploring. I’m going in and look around, see what’s cookin’.”

    “Wait. Nick said not to try taking them alone.”
“I’m not going to try to surround them, I just want to make sure they’re still in there. Won’t take but a minute.”

    “Okay, but who’s going to watch your side?”

    “Now I’m going to play with time and space. Watch.”

    I watched as Sam disappeared and immediately reappeared on the roof of the warehouse the Germans had driven into. Less than a second later, another Sam appeared on the roof of the building the first Sam had just vacated.

    Sam (one) looked over at Sam (two). Sam (two) held up his hand, making an ‘O’ with thumb and forefinger.  Sam (one) waved at Sam (two) and turned towards me. I know I had been staring at all this with my mouth hanging open. Sam told me.

    “Hey, close your mouth. If I start waving over there, then something is up on my side.”

    “Why can’t he… you just call me?”

    “Because these little gizmos we’re using are sync’d to our present time-frame. The me over there is from my future. Once I’ve finished my look-see, I’ll be back in sync. I’m going inside now.”

“Be careful in there, Sam.”

    “Don’t worry. When I appeared over there with no holes, and all my extremities intact, I knew everything will be alright downstairs.” Sam had been struggling with the roof access while talking to me. “Finally, open. Here goes.” He started down the stairs.


    “Well, Nick, I’m afraid we don’t have much to report at this time, no pun intended, of course.”

    Nick was in the private offices of our cousins at Time-Zone Labs. Cousin Orb was making his report of the investigation in Boston.

    “George Kaplan is indeed a bank president in 1920 Boston. Family man, pillar of the community, etc. That all checks out. There’s no report of his disappearance at all from any time-frame.”

    “Sounds like he’s return safely and quietly. And no one will ever know he was gone.”

    “I think so, Nick. If you’d like, we can handle his return from 2070 when he’s fully recovered.”

    “You and Will have already talked me into it, uptime.”

    “Good. Now, as to what happened in Boston. Apparently, someone jumped to Kaplan’s office in 1920 from a later date, but not from a different place.”

    “Is that important?”

    “It could be very important. Will and I are working on the assumption that their temporal equipment can move through time, but not space. They are limited to the space associated with the portion of the temporal field surrounding it.”

    “He’s got that blank look again,” Will said. “Maybe he needs the ‘Chessboard Theory of Time and Space’ lecture.”

    “Excellent idea. Nick, think of time and space like a chessboard.”

    “Let’s make it a checkerboard. I’m still not too swift at chess.”

Orb chuckled and said, “Okay, a checkerboard. There are sixty-four individual spaces on the board. Each square occupies a different space than the others. They all exist in the same moment of time; if they didn’t, you wouldn’t be able to observe all sixty-four squares at one time, you would only see the one square that was in your time-frame. Now, surrounding this entire space of sixty-four squares is the temporal field.

    “This field is not a solid, nor is it a gas. It’s there, but it’s not. Confused yet?”

    “Completely. I know your temporal detectors can read this field for signs of unnatural motion through it, so I believe the field exists.”

    “Good. Up until the last century, many scientific minds believed that something called ether filled all of the space throughout the cosmos, and that this ether is what transported photons from their source, like the sun, through space endlessly, or until they were absorbed by something. When I say ‘ether’ I’m not talking about the anesthetic used by the medical profession. The ethereal field was also believed to be a conductor of electricity, and heat, and sound, but, now, I’m straying from the subject.

    “Will and I believe that the temporal field is what those scientists were trying to measure and quantify. As science progressed, the ether theories seemed sill and old-fashioned and were forgotten. Until Will and I started investigating temporal physics and mechanics. Back to our chess, uh, checkerboard.

    “If we were to submerge the board into a container of water, the water would represent the field, and the board would be the space. Still following me?”

    “Yes, but don’t shift into high just yet.”

    “Now, if we can take a sample of our field, the water, without disturbing it, from the area of one of the outer squares, and a sample from around an inner square, we could examine both samples very closely, and see that there are differences between the two. Somewhat like fingerprints.

    “So, a device that can move only from point to point in time is tuned only to the fingerprint of the temporal field associated with that particular point in space that the device occupies.

    “If our hypothetical temporal device is, say, a checker, sitting on a corner square, it could move to any point in time associated with that square, but it couldn’t move to any other square. It would have to ‘stop’ at one point in time before it could move, physically, to its target square. To reach its destination in time and space, it would have to make two separate trips. Do you understand?”

    “I think so. If my ‘checker’ can’t move through space under its own power, I have to load it on a train in, say, 1939 New York, and unload it in 1939 Boston, before I can move it to 1920 Boston, right?”

     “Very good, Nick.”

    “What about the motions of the planets and the universe, and all that?”

    “We’re still trying to back out the mechanics of the entire temporal field as a whole as it relates to local portions,” Will answered. “We don’t know how, or why, but time is somehow a permanent part of space and vice versa. I don’t believe that one can exist without the other. The old ether theories of yesteryear may apply.”

    “Don’t bring up physics, please. Just tell me, in simple terms, how your devices work. I know from practical experience they work very well in time and space,” Nick said.

    “Think of our gadgets as temporal radios. You can tune in any station you want, that’s the space, or locality, portion of the program, for any show you want to hear, the moment in time associated with that particular space,” Orb explained.

    “So, what you’re saying is, we’re looking for a radio-set that is capable of tuning in a station that’s practically within line of sight, and no others, right?”

    Orb smiled again. “Exactly. What do you think, Will? Can we make a mad scientist out of him?”

    “He’s definitely showing potential.”

    “Thanks, guys, but I’m perfectly happy as an investigator. Most of the time. I have one more question. What if I reached into the bucket and stirred up the water?”

    “Orb and I have knocked that one around quite a bit. We feel that’s what caused the Big Bang.”

    “The big what?” Nick asked with a puzzled look.

    “The BIG BANG, capitalized. The creation of the universe as we know it. What little we do know. Our research that far back is slow. It’s tough breaking through the Quantum Foam surrounding the event. Anyway, we’re afraid that if the people you’re looking for are just ‘bulldozing’ around through the temporal field, they might cause something similar to happen.”

    Shock on Nick’s face as he spoke. “Are you saying-?”

    “Yep. ‘Go directly to Hell, do not collect two hundred smackers’. All for this,” Will said, gesturing heavenwards, “could just go BOOM!, start all over again. And I’m not ready for it. I want to see the premier of ‘The Maltese Falcon’ with Bogart.”

    “So, what are we going to do?”

    “You,” Orb pointed at Nick, “are going to continue looking for the Nazi bastards that tried to kill Kaplan. We are going to keep tracking the temporal jumps they’ve made. I want to get back to their home space/time. If you find them first, we have the facilities that will allow us to ask questions that they won’t be able to avoid answering.”

    “You sound very concerned about this.”

    “With the fate of the known universe at stake, who wouldn’t be? We’ve saved the world a couple of times, but this is much bigger.” 

    “Well. Everything is okay in 2070. Doesn’t that mean we’ll get it right?”

    Will shrugged. “Maybe yes, maybe no. Your future and our past may not be permanent yet.”

    “Then I had better get back to work.” Nick pulled his temporal checker from his pocket and tuned into mine and Sam’s square.


    “Hey, Phil! I think we may have a small problem in here.”

    “What’s wrong, Sam?” I asked.

    “They’ve flown the coop.”

    “Great. Any signs as to where and when?”

    “Nope. The left the car, but it’s probably hot. I have to talk to myself for a minute.”

    I looked over at Sam (two) standing on the warehouse roof.  “What-?” I managed to squawk as I watched my kid brother slowly appear standing next to himself. I could see they were discussing something. One of them shook his head, and they both disappeared from sight.

    Almost before they were gone, Sam reappeared standing almost on top of me. 

    “Damn, Sam! Don’t do that!”

    “Sorry, didn’t mean to spook you.”

    “What the hell was all that about over there?” I asked, waving in the general direction of the other roof.

    “Well, when I jumped to the warehouse roof, and saw myself appear over there, I knew I would get out of the building okay. So, there I was, watching the building from the outside the same time I would looking around inside. That way they couldn’t sneak out while I was sneaking in. Savvy?”

    “Maybe. But why the conference with yourself?”

    “I wanted to make sure nothing happened outside while I was inside.”

    “Okay, but which one are you now? The first Sam or the second Sam?”

    “There are no firsts or seconds, Phil, in temporal displacement. There’s just me from right now. Both of the me’s- I’s? over there were from then, you see-”

    “Forget I asked, Sam. You can discuss this will Orb and Will. I’m still having trouble keeping track of which one I am.”

    Sam grinned and said, “We’d better get Nick on the phone and have him come take a look.” As he said it, Nick appeared a few steps away. “Well, speak the devil’s name, and Saint Nick himself steps in. And where have you been, if I may ask?”

    “Getting a grade ‘A’ scare from our cousins.”

    “When? 2070? Is Kaplan okay?”

    “He’s all right. I’ve been talking to our real time cousins.”

    “So, what’s their problem?” I asked.

    “If we don’t stop these Nazi goons quickly, we may be in for more trouble than we ever imagined.”

    “What,” I asked, “could possibly be worse than Federal prison for treason?”

    “How’s the end of our little agency, Time-Zone Labs, and the entire universe as we know it for starters? Not to mention, Mollie’s Diner.” Nick was quite serious.

    “What, again?” Sam asked. I, on the other hand, could hardly speak. “The universe and all that is just fine with me, but, I draw the line at losing Mollie. What sort of nonsense have two been feeding you, Nick? Remember that wild story about one little meteorite wiping out the dinosaurs?”

    Nick sighed, then spoke. “Orb and Will explained their checkerboard theory of time and space to me, and they’re afraid that if these guys are using unsafe equipment based on poor theory and design, they could screw up the relationship between physical reality and the temporal field. Something about bursting the Quantum Bubble.”

    “I know what you’re talking about. While I was in 2070, the elder Orb and Will gave me the short course, only they called it the chessboard theory,” Sam said.

    “Whatever. We have to find these guys, fast, shutdown their system, and hand them over to Orb and Will.”

    “What about the Feds?” I asked.

    “The Feds can have them as soon as they’ve had the nice tour at Time-Zone Labs. Are they still here?”

    “’fraid not. I went in for a peek, but they’ve skipped.”

    “Time jump?”

    “I think so. I’ve got a detector with me. Shall we go look?”

    “Yeah. Phil, you blast back to the office and grab some hardware out of the lockup, then home in on us.”

    “Gotcha. Where are you going?” I asked. Looked like we were going to hit the fan pretty soon.

    “Sam and I are going to start looking around in there. Orb doesn’t think they can move through space. Just through time. Sam and I will look for traces of a jump, and when you join us, we can try to follow them.”

    “Okay, on my way. Don’t start anything without me.”

    As I commanded my little gizmo for the office, Nick and Sam moved to the roof next door and entered the building.


We have to stop these clowns!

    Nick and Sam were moving slowly about the big black car parked in the empty warehouse.

    “What have you got, Sam?”

    “Nice strong trace in the field, very strong, right over these tracks in the dust.”

    Nick stepped over Sam and studied the dusty floor. “Do you think these tracks were left by their machine?”

    “If they were, Nick, it must be as big as a bathtub.”

    “Which tells us they can’t carry it around like a suitcase.”

    Sam smiled when he said, “More like a coffin, or an upright piano, I’d say. I wonder where they got it.”

    “Certainly not from our cousins, they want to ask that same question. Maybe we should invite those two along on this expedition.”

    “Nick, the three of us have had professional training and experience in this sort of thing. I’d hate for Orb and Will to get in the way if any shooting breaks out.”

    “Sam, I have a funny feeling that those temporal sorcerers have seem more shooting, individually, than the three of us standing on one another’s shoulders. You wait here for Phil, I’m going to talk to Orb and Will.”

    Nick commanded his temporal unit and faded from sight just as I made my appearance in the warehouse for the first, and only (I hoped) time.

    “Here, Sam,” I said as I handed him his worn, but deadly functional .45 and a couple of spare magazines. “Where’s Brother Nick?”

    “He’s off inviting friends to our little shindy.”

    “Who?” I asked with a frown. It wasn’t like Nick to involve others in affairs that might turn murderous.

    “Our scienterrific cousins, who else?”

    “Is that wise? I was concerned enough about my own safety, and now we might have others to worry about.

    “Maybe, maybe not, but you know what Will says…”

    “Yeah, always cover your-” I started to say.

    “No, no. The other one: ‘Never let reasoning stand in the way of instinct. Unless you’re outnumbered.’ You know, with them along, maybe the odds will be on our side.”

    I smiled at Sam. “I always thought they were a couple of odds to begin with.”

    “I hope that was meant in a complimentary way,” I heard someone behind me say.

    Sam and I spun to find Nick, Orb, and Will standing next to the big black car. Orb had a big smile and Will was about to bust a gut laughing.

    “C’mon, guys,” Nick said, “let’s get a game plan going.”

    “Yes, the sooner, the better,” Orb agreed. “Nick, are you open to suggestions?”

    “I’m all ears. What’s on your mind?”

    “After we track this disturbance to its end, we should look around for signs of our quarry arriving and then leaving the locality.”

    “I was hoping we could show up before they do, and nab them as they appear.”

    “If we find any indication of that having happened, then yes, we can ‘head ‘em off at the pass,’ so to speak. Otherwise, I don’t think we should try to change any event that has occurred, before it takes place.”

    “Don’t stir up that field?” Nick asked with eyebrow raised.

    “Exactly. If they’re gone when we arrive, we can back up and wait for them. They may lead us to someone, or something, of greater importance.”

    “Sounds good to me, but I want everybody ready when we arrive. Please don’t shoot anyone with a good reason.”

    “Nick, let me sync everyone’s temp to my tracer,” Will said. “We can all jump at the same moment. Plus, I can drop us somewhere besides the big middle of this wide open floor. Someplace out of sight, maybe.”    

    “Put us up there, Will.” Orb pointed to a platform suspended below the ceiling in one of the dark corners. “Looks rather private up there.”

    Will made the adjustments to his detector/tracer, and all of our units made a single, muffled beep.

“Okay, boys, where I go, you go. So… let’s go.”

    Nick, Sam, and I drew our sidearms. Orb was holding something that looked like a cigarette case. “Go,” he told Will, and all about us, everything turned black.


    “Do you see anything, Sam?” Nick asked hoarsely.

    “Looks pretty quiet down there.”

    The five Knights Temporal were standing on the small platform high above the warehouse floor. We were trying to be as quiet and unobtrusive as the dust our arrival had disturbed.

    Suddenly, the absolute silence was broken by a most horrendous noise. All eyes, except mine, swiveled in my direction. “Sorry, guys. Some of this dust worked its way up my nose,” I whispered, somewhat sheepishly.

    “Don’t worry about it, Phil. If anyone else is here, they’ll soon let us know,” Orb said with a smile. “Let’s get back down on the main floor.”

    Before my brothers and I could comply, we found ourselves standing in the same places we had been moments before in the future.

    “Sorry, Nick,” Will said. “I didn’t mean to startle you. I’ve still got everyone in sync with the master control.” He held up his temporal unit and continued, “I can operate your units individually, too. If anyone gets lost, I can retrieve or send one or all of you anywhen I want.”

    Sam smiled and said to Nick, “Now I’m glad he’s our cousin. I’d hate to get tucked away in the Dark Ages somewhere.”

    “The Dark Ages are okay, if you know where to stay. I remember a little village in-”

    “Run the travelogue for him later, Will. Well, Nick. What do you think?”

    “Looks like they loaded everything into another vehicle and left, Orb. What time-frame are we in?”

    “It’s ten a.m., July fourth, 1920,” Will answered, looking at his temporal unit.

    “George, Jr.’s birthday. We should pop in and say hello, don’t you think?”

    “That’s clear over on the other side of the country, Orb. Besides, we’d be just a bunch of gate crashing strangers,” Nick said in surprise.

    “I’m just trying to lighten the mood, Nick. Will, put us back up on the platform. We need to back up a bit and wait for our quarry’s arrival.”

    Flickering like images from some demented projector, we made very short hops backwards through time, seeking the moment of the two Germans’ arrival.

    When Will dropped us out of the temporal search, we saw an old delivery truck parked in the middle of the large empty floor below.

    The truck was old to us, but looked fairly new for our present 1920 time-frame.

    “Alright, boys, they should be here in about five seconds… three… two… oh my god!”

    Everyone was looking down at the old truck, anxiously awaiting the entrance of the villains.

Suddenly, in a silent, coruscating blaze of multicolored lights, a dim presence began to assume form.

    “Orb! We have to stop these clowns!” Will said in a stage whisper. “They’re twisting the temporal field with about one hundred times more force than they need! And their system is apparently unshielded, completely naked!” The look in his eyes was one of deep concern.

    “Radiation?” Orb asked, unconcerned.

    “Nothing hazardous to life, but if they try to make a jump more than twenty years in any direction, oh, mama!”

    “Well,” Orb mused, “we’d better do something about these two.”

    The light show below faded away, and silence reigned again. For about ten seconds.

    Below us, a low platform about the size and shape of an overturned cast iron bathtub had appeared. Standing upon it were two men. Sam leaned near to Nick and whispered that these two were the men we watched arrive at the Carleton Hotel, with Mr. George Kaplan, AKA Erick Helstrom, in tow.

    The two agents of doom, unaware of our presence, began preparations to leave the warehouse. The older man opened the back of the new/old delivery truck, as the younger, and much larger man operated some controls on the side of the platform, apparently shutting down the power circuits. When he was satisfied that all was correct, he began manhandling the device into an empty crate located inside the truck, assisted by his older comrade.

    Once the device was secreted in the crate, and the rear doors of the truck closed securely, the older man climbed into the cab while the younger moved to the front of the vehicle.

    At a command from his superior, the tall young Aryan began to hand-crank the motor of the truck. Once the motor started, the blond man opened the big double doors of the warehouse just enough to allow the truck to exit the building, and then reclosed them.

    “Well, how are we going to follow them? I asked. “These temporal gizmos can’t tail an old truck, can they? We should be as inconspicuous as possible while we’re at it, too.”

    “Wait here, I have an idea,” Cousin Orb said with a big smile, just before he vanished from sight.

    Suddenly, an old fashioned tour bus appeared on the floor of the warehouse below us. “ACME TOURS” was emblazoned on the side in fancy letters. There were at least a dozen men and women aboard, all dressed in the latest styles of the twenties, leaning out of the oversized windows, waving and smiling gaily.

    Cousin Orb was also leaning out of a window, and managed to attract our attention. “Get down here. The tour is already behind schedule. Do you want to miss the sights?”    

    Will touched a control on his temp unit and we were standing next to the bus. As we boarded, the driver, wearing the typical tour guide hate, said, “Exact fare only, gentlemen.”

    “Crash!” Will exclaimed. “What the hell are you doing here?”

    “Professor Orb said you and he needed help right away, so I, and all of the other standby Despatch Riders, volunteered.”

    Looking around at the other passengers, Will recognized all of them. “Ace! McSpeed! You, too?”

     “Hey, when our favorite mad scientists call, the whole outfit answers,” Crash Benson said, speaking for the whole busload.

    While Will was shaking hands and thanking everyone for responding, Nick and Orb were in a small confab. “They all came along, no questions asked. I truly believe they’d be willing to help Will and I take over the universe if we wanted it.”

    “Having all these people around worries me. If there’s any bad trouble, someone could get hurt,” Nick said.

    “These people are all trained couriers for Time-Zone Labs. They’ve all had the training necessary for coping with very serious… um… situations. This is the perfect cover for a tail job, and, more or less, a day off for them. Would you suspect a full bus of tourists following you?”

    “No, I probably wouldn’t.”

    “Good. Now our only problem is catching up with them.”

    Sam had been sitting in a seat nearby, next to a lovely young lady, of course, when he stood. “I can take care of that,” he said and popped out of sight.

    “Where the hell did he go to now?” Nick seemed a little irritated at things happening so suddenly.

    “He’s probably up on the roof, about five or six minutes behind us,” I said.

    “What’s he doing up there?”

    “That’s how we tracked those two here.”

    “Hello, Acme Tour Bus One, can you hear me?” We could hear Sam’s voice from at least two pockets, and Will’s master temp unit.

    “Go ahead, Sam,” Will answered.

    “I’m on the roof waiting for them to come out. I jumped five minutes back so I wouldn’t miss them.”

    Nick looked at me, so I arranged my face into smugness.

    “I hear the doors rolling open now. Here they come- they’re turning west on Hilldale.”

    Orb turned to the driver. “Crash, we’re five minutes behind them, but with Sam’s directions, we can keep up with them, out of their sight. You stay in touch, Sam.” He turned to the rest of the ‘tourists’ and said, remember, everyone, we’re a bunch pf rubbernecking out-of townies.”

    Before Crash started the bus, the man called McSpeed got off long enough to open and close the doors for our departure, then re-boarded.

    Everyone was in high spirits, except Nick. He was still concerned about the passengers and the bus.

    “Can we keep up with them, Orb? This old heap is carrying quite a load.”

    “This is no ordinary bus. This is one of a fleet of vehicles, kept and maintained by the Temporal Mechanics Department and Motor Pool, used for blending in with the locals during research, and the occasional rescue mission. Our Despatch Riders also use the fleet for deliveries to field researchers, so Crash is quite familiar with its operation. Outside, it looks like any other commercial vehicle of its period. Underneath, it’s not so ordinary. It can handle four times the normal load for a vehicle of this type. Plus, it’s had modifications to its propulsion system. It sounds, smells, smokes, and leaks just like the real thing without actually causing any pollution whatsoever. Requires no maintenance, fuel, or lubrication. Breakdowns and flats are impossible, unless needed for show. If it looks like we’re about to drive into trouble, Crash can bounce us straight back to the garage before you can blink an eye. Relax and enjoy the trip, Nick.”

    “Okay, you’ve sold me, I’ll take a dozen. I can’t relax in the middle of a car chase, but I’ll try.”

    “That’s the spirit! Crash! Where are we?”

    “We’re going to turn south on Second Street real soon. My guess is, they’re headed for the depot, Professor.”

    “What do you think, Nick?”

    “If they are headed east, the only way to transport their device would be by train. Probably Railroad Express it to Boston, then jump uptime from 1920 to ’39 or ’40 so they can hightail it back to Europe, or wherever they’re based.”

    “What makes you say ’39 or ’40?” Orb asked. 

    “I’m only guessing because of the phoney bills. Besides, from all you’ve told me about the next few years, I don’t see how they could travel freely between the U.S. and Europe after ’41.”

    “Hey, Professor Orb! Your cousin Sam says they’re pulling into the Railway Express Agency. What should I do?”

    “Nick, you called that one. It’s your show now.”

    “Crash, would you cruise past real slowly so we can look at them? Nick asked the pseudo tour guide.

    “Sure thing. I can pull up at the station next door, and everybody could act like they’re going to buy tickets. You know, like a bunch of tourists getting ready to go home,” Crash said.

    Nick looked back at Orb, who said, “We can watch and see where they want to go. Or, we might be able to grab them and hustle them back to the Labs. If we lose them between here and Boston, we may not be able to locate them again.”

    “These couriers are pretty good, huh?”

    “THE BEST, Nick. You’ll notice I can speak in capitals. Don’t worry about them. They’ve made deliveries to some very nasty places. Of course, they’ve never had to… escort… anyone against their will. I’m sure we can improvise something.”

    Nick took a deep breath, then, “Okay, let’s take ‘em. But I don’t want anyone to take any unnecessary chances.”

    “Let Will and me handle that. You and your brothers go after the crate they’re shipping. Crash, pull up to the station. Listen up, everyone. We’re going to abduct the two ‘gentlemen’ we’ve been following. They will be turned over to the authorities after we’ve interviewed them at the Labs. Before we leave the bus, we’ll watch them enter the station. Nick, you go ahead and intercept the device, take it straight to the Main Transit Stage. Will and I are most anxious to examine it.”

    “Okay, Good luck, Orb. Be careful. C’mon, Phil. Let’s go ask how much it will cost to express Aunt Agatha’s trunk to Hackensack.”
I’d love to stay and chat

    Over at the express office, the delivery truck was backed up in front of the large doors, ready for unloading. The two saboteurs had already entered the express office. 

    Nick and I strolled over, quite casually.

    “Hello, Sam. Where are you?” Nick asked.

     “I’m on the roof of the depot. Why?”

    “Phil and I are going to eavesdrop on our German friends. Can you get into the shipping area and look for their goods?”

    “No problem. What should I do if I find the dingus?”

    “Take it to the transit stage. While no one’s looking, naturally.”

    “Naturally. What are you going to do in the meantime?”

    “Phil and I are going to play detectives and try to find out where they plan on going. Then our cousins and their band of merry tourists will try to detour them from their journey.”

    “Is that wise?” Sam actually sounded concerned.

    “Who knows? Phil and I will stick around to help, if we’re needed. We’re entering the express office now. Good luck, Sam.”


    As we entered, we noticed the two Nazi agents standing at the long counter, the older one speaking to one of the agency employees. Nick and I stepped up tp the counter as near as we could without being impolite.

    “May I help you gentlemen?” a clerk said, appearing almost as mysteriously as our mad scientist relative do.

    “Yes,” I said, trying to act like a good nephew. “My brother and I have been asked to ship our aunt’s old steamer trunk to her. She’s planning a trip to Europe and unfortunately she left it with Mom after her last visit.”

    While I was keeping this clerk busy, Nick was casually examining a brochure of some sort. However, his attention was on the conversation going on next to him.

    “Yes, we must make a stop in Boston before continuing to New York. However, we shall not require our apparatus until we arrive in New York. It will be safe until we claim it?” The elder spy was speaking in clear, precise English, with a very European accent.

    “Oh, yes, sir. No need to worry about it at all. You, or your assistant, will be the only ones allowed to remove it from the New York Agency.”

    “Sehr gut! Ah, I am sorry, very good. Sometimes I am forgetful when I am pleased.” The older man turned to the tall blond man. “Hermann, when the apparatus is removed, would you return the vehicle, bitte?”

    “Yes, Herr Professor. I will do.” The tall younger man left the office as the professor turned back to the express clerk.

    “Is it permitted to make this shipment, hmmm, collect? Yes, collect on delivery?”

    “Yes, Professor Schneider. You can settle the account in New York. It will be awaiting you when you arrive.”

    “Gott sei dank. I cannot thank you fully. You have been most helpful. I must now go and make the train preparations.”

    “I hope you have a pleasant trip,” the clerk said as the gray-haired gentleman left the office.

    The clerk turned to Nick and said, “I wish all of our clients were that pleasant. That gentleman and his assistant were very polite.”

    “Yes, I happened to overhear some of your conversation. He reminded me of an uncle from Holland. Did he say something about an ‘apparatus’?” Nick asked, very guilelessly.

    “Oh, my, yes,” the clerk said, smiling. “Seems he’s invented an iceless icebox. It’s going to revolutionize food storage.” The express agent rolled his eyes slightly. “Can you just imagine, an icebox that doesn’t require ice? What on earth will the iceman do with all that ice? Oh well, at least he’s a friendly kind of guy. I do hope he isn’t’ too disappointed when he gets to New York.”

    “I’m sure he’ll find quite a surprise at the end of his journey.”

    At this point I turned to Nick and asked, “What do you think, should we ship her the empty trunk, or tell her to buy a new one? Either way will cost about the same.”

    “Let’s talk it over with Mom. You know how much her sister enjoys shopping before a big trip.”

    “Okay, Nick. Thank you, gentlemen. You’ve been very helpful,” I said to both of the express agents, and we headed for the station.


    Sam was standing behind a stack of boxes, watching his target as it was unloaded from the stolen truck. After the crate was off the truck, the tall blond German closed the rear doors and drove away.

    An express worker tagged the box and moved it to a waiting area with other eastbound items.

    Taking advantage of a quiet moment, Sam approached the crate and sat on it. He took his temp unit from his pocket. “Main Transit Stage, Time Zone-Labs, home time-frame,” he said, then set the pseudo-lighter on the crate. “Geronimo.”

    The coffin shaped container and Sam both disappeared from sight, less than a second before the foreman walked up.

    “Bob, where’s that new crate headed for New York?” he called to an unseen someone.

    “If it’s not there, George must have taken it over to the depot already,” Bob answered.

    “I hope so. We’ll catch hell if we lose another one. ‘Specially one that looks like somebody’s Uncle Charlie is travelling in,” the foreman said as he headed for the front office.


    Meanwhile, Nick and I were causally entering the main depot building. We noticed the busload of couriers were now inside, all acting like completely normal people, waiting for trains, speaking to the ticket clerks, examining schedules, and generally loitering in the large terminus. Slowly looking around, we saw also, the elderly German standing at a ticket window. He was talking to the clerk behind the grill and exchanging large, old, pre-1927, ‘horse-blanket’ bills for fresh train tickets.

    Turning his back to the spy, Nick whispered, “Well, he seems to have the correct currency for 1920. Do you suppose it’s genuine, Phil?”

    “Probably lifted it from Kaplan. Or his bank,” I said.

    “I see our cousins, over by the newsstand,” Nick announced as he waved at someone behind me. “Let’s go ‘bump into them’ so we can talk.”

    Walking over to the newsstand, we greeted our cousins in a happy glad-to-see-ya manner. After handshakes all around, the mood became more matter-of-fact.

    “Looks like they are headed for New York by way of Boston,” Nick said. “Sam’s going to try to snatch the ‘icebox’ before it can be loaded on the train.”

    “Icebox?” from both cousins.

    Nick smiled and outlined the gist of the conversation he had overheard.

    “He sure sounded like someone’s Dutch uncle. I personally, wouldn’t trust any advice he gave me. And I definitely don’t like the looks of his assistant, Hermann,” Nick finished.

    “Will and I have been discussing the scenario. We shouldn’t try to take them in here. There are too many bystanders about. We certainly don’t need to explain our actions to the local authorities. Our story about Nazi spies won’t mean much as the Nazi Party was founded only last year in 1919.”

    “You’re right, Orb. Maybe Phil and I can delay Hermann. Then Professor Schneider will come looking for him.”

    “Where did Hermann go?”

    “He’s returning the delivery truck. Which means he’ll probably park it in a nearby alley.”

    Orb smiled at Nick and me. “Let’s go out to the bus for a moment,” he said. “Crash and the gang can watch the Professor.”

    “What have you got on your devious little mind, now? Nick asked, also smiling. I believe he was beginning to enjoy working with the Mad Scientist type.

    “Oh, just the glimmerings of an idea.”

    As we exited the station, Orb spoke to Crash in passing. Crash didn’t look up from his newspaper, but the imperceptible movement of his head signaled complete comprehension.


    Boarding the old (looking) Acme Tours vehicle, we got comfortable in the leather seats.

    “Will are we still in sync with your temp unit?”

    “Do not attempt to adjust your set. We can control the horizontal. We can control the vertical,” Will said as he double checked the settings of his unit. “Where do we want to go this time?”

    “Take us back to a few moments before Hermann drives off in the truck.”

    “All aboard.” Will moved us back through time to the point that Hermann climbed up into the cab of the truck, outside the Railroad Express Agency. “Last stop, all off.”

    I shuddered when I looked over at the express office. Not only was Hermann driving away, but Nick and I were strolling over to the depot. “I still get the creeps watching myself in the past.”

    “You’ll get used to it. Just wait until you have a conference call with about five of yourselves,” Will chuckled.

    “Are we going to follow him?” Nick asked.

    “Yes,” Orb answered. “But, I want to take out a little insurance policy first. Will, can you drop Sam into the back of that truck?”

    “Sure. He should be sitting down before I move him.”

    “He will be,” Nick said, catching Orb’s train of thought. He fished his temp from a pocket and spoke. “Sam, where are you?”

    “Enjoying a little snack. Call back later. Maybe… three, four hours.”

    “If I wait, you’ll probably put the kitchen out of business. Find a spot and sit down on the floor.”

    “Are you okay, Nick?”

    “Just do it. Your brilliant, but insidious cousins are going to dump you in the back of the German’s truck.”

    “Why? I already snatched the dingus and delivered it to the Labs.”

    “And an excellent job you made of it, I’m sure. Now, we’re going to try to snatch Hermann.”


    “The big blond assistant to the old professor. Get ready. When he parks the truck, I want you to surprise him.”

    “Okay, I’m on the floor. My dignity is slightly-”

    Nick looked at Will and said, “Go ahead, send him.”


    Sam found himself in the cargo section of the old delivery truck. He had materialized just as the truck bumped to a stop.

    He crouched over to avoid banging his head against the roof. Facing the back doors, he took his old .45 from an inner pocket.

    Noticing two small suitcases in the back with him, he realized that Hermann would have to retrieve them before heading for the depot. So, he waited for Hermann to come to him.

    The driver’s door closed with a thud after the blond German got out. When he opened the rear doors he saw Brother Sam, bigger than life, and twice as wide, crouching in the truck. Pointing a large black pistol at him.

    “Hello, Hermann. Going somewhere?” Sam asked casually, never letting his .45 drift from the imaginary bullseye between Hermann’s eyes. 

    “Gott im himmel!” Hermann gasped, with some surprise, I would expect. But he wasn’t the type to freeze. He swung the left door as hard as he could against Sam and turned to flee.

    Sam kicked the door open and leaped from the truck. Looking around gave no indication of Hermann’s whereabouts. Where could he have gone?

    Looking up and down the alley, Sam decided that he must have headed in the direction of the depot. There were several doorways that Hermann could hide in. Was he down there? More importantly, was he armed?   

    Sam moved slowly around to the front of the old truck, listening for any sound at all.


    Meanwhile, Nick, Orb, Will, and I were approaching the alleyway from the street, after watching the German turn in. We stopped at the entrance, to look the situation over.

    “Phil,” Nick said, “I want you to get up on that roof and keep an eye on the truck.”

    Before I could move, Will said, “Allow me,” and I suddenly realized I was standing on the roof in question, with a clear view of the alley below. Looking down, I saw Sam examining the cab of the truck. I could also see Hermann, standing in a doorway about forty feet from Sam, pulling a foreign automatic out of his coat.

    “Sam! Get down!” I yelled at the top of my lungs.

    Hermann the German instantly looked up at me and raised his pistol in my general direction.

    Before I could realize that bullets were whistling past, I felt myself getting jerked from behind, clear of the deadly little slugs.

    I turned to thank my benefactor, expecting one of my cousins to be responsible for pulling my fat from the fire. Only, it wasn’t a cousin. Or a brother. Standing before me was… well, me! With gray hair! I blinked, trying to shake my thought processes back into order and say something, anything.

    I, the older I, smiled and said, “Sorry I’m late. In all the celebrating I had completely forgotten about this.”

    “You’re not late. You were just in time,” I finally managed to say.

    “Maybe, but I didn’t remember it until years after this case is closed. If we hadn’t been reminiscing about the old days at Nick’s seventy-fifth anniversary, I might not have thought about it. Then, where would you and I be, eh? I’d love to stay and chat, but I want to get before Nick’s grandkids carbonize my steak. Stay out of trouble, okay?” And the older me disappeared before I could thank him, and ask what he meant about anniversaries and grandkids.

    The sound of shot from the alley below brought me back to the present with a snap. “Sam! And the German!”


    At the entrance to the alleyway, Nick and our cousins were trying to see what was happening, without getting plugged, naturally.

    “Orb, they can probably hear this over at the depot. Schneider may bolt. Would you go and make sure he’s secure?”

    “On my way, Nick!”

    “Thanks. Will, when I give you the word, get Sam and Phil out of there immediately, please?”

    “You got it. I wish I could grab the German.”

    “Don’t worry, if Sam gets a chance, he’ll be got.”


    And Sam was waiting for that chance. He’d moved to put the truck between himself and Hermann, the German agent.

    Sam knew which doorway the German was in form watching him take of potshots at me. In addition, the German had put four holes in the windshield and radiator of the truck, but none in Sam, or me.

    “I don’t envy the owner of this vehicle,” Sam muttered to himself. He raised up enough to fire over the hood, trying to keep Hermann occupied. Nick wanted him alive. “That doesn’t mean I couldn’t shoot him in the foot, maybe accidentally.”

    The door Hermann was trying very hard to ooze through was solidly closed, or he’d have been gone. Whenever he tried to squeeze one off in Sam’s direction, I’d put one into the heavy wooden door from my position up on the roof, and if he tried again to pop me, Sam would let fly. Eventually, one or all of us would have to run out of bullets.

    Then, suddenly, I remember this so clearly, Hermann swung his gun in my direction, and squeezed off two shots. I saw his automatic lock open on an empty magazine, and at the same instant, I fell over backwards trying to get out of the of the little nine millimeter slugs.

    I managed to get up on my hands and knees and scuttle over to the parapet for a quick peek.

    I saw Hermann fumbling in a pocket for a loaded magazine. I started to take a bead on him, when Nick suddenly materialized in front of the German, and the sights of my pistol. I lowered the gun and waited.

    I heard Nick: “Okay, Hermann. The game is over.”

    Seemingly, without thinking, the German swung his pistol and struck Nick on the side of his head. Grabbing my stunned brother, he spun him around and jammed the muzzle of the ugly little automatic against Nick’s temple. I knew the gun as empty, but I couldn’t get a clear shot at him without endangering Nick.

    There was an ugly, little wicked smile on Hermann’s Aryan face as he started to step out of the doorway. Just as he lifted his foot, the heavy wooden door behind him opened silently, and fate stepped in, wearing the form of Professor Willver Coconolte.

    Will tapped him, far too gently I thought, on the back of his head with an old-fashioned, well worn, blackjack.

    Hermann release his hostage, quite involuntarily, and crumples to the pavement.

    I watched Will help Nick into a sitting position against the building. Nick’s eyes were squeezed tightly shut, and he was gently shaking his head. “What did you use on him?” Nick asked. “Some bizarre device from the future?”

    Will showed him the blackjack and said, “Just the old equalizer. Never leave home without it.”


    Nick and the German materialized out of nothing on the Main Transit Stage at Time-Zone Labs. Hermann was still unconscious, so Nick was holding him up, but just barely. After he released the saboteur to two awaiting T-ZL security types, Nick stumbled and let another security officer catch him, and aid him down the steps.    

    “Are you okay, Mr. Coconolte?”

    “Lead me to a chair, and I’ll be just fine, thank you.”

    “Professor Will gave me very specific instructions about you. You’re going straight to the infirmary.”

    “Is it far? I really need to sit for a moment.”

    “Not far at all, sir.” Enabling some sort of communication device, the security officer spoke rapidly. “Move me to Medical, immediately. Mr. Coconolte is in the building. Alive.”
Spy Smashers

    “I think we can handle the rest of it, Mr. Coconolte.”

    Special Agent Rogers of the FBI stood and shook hands with Nick as the two German agents were led, quite docilely, out of the Coconolte Investigation Agency office by two other G-Men. One was carrying the briefcase full of documents and counterfeit money, and Helstrom/Kaplan’s meager possessions.

    “We needn’t bother the gentleman they used as a dupe. If the doctor is sure that its better he get over this experience, then we can let him go back to his own life.”

    “Thank you, Agent Rogers. Will you have to bother the other people on that phoney payoff list? My brothers and I don’t believe that any of them have anything whatsoever to do with any of this.”

    “Neither does the FBI. We’re not going to contact any of them, but we may have to monitor the movements of a few for a short time, just to be sure. Our main concern is not letting the story get out. It could cause an extreme case of ‘war nerves’ and panic in some circles. Did you have someone look at that lump, Mr. Coconolte?”

    Nick reached up and gently probed the swollen spot. “Yes, the doctor in charge of the unfortunate victim just happens to be my personal physician. I’ll live,” he said with a smile.

    “With the statements made by our two German friends, I doubt if this will ever go to trial. I’m surprised at how easily they surrendered. What did you do to them?”

    “We merely… showed them the errors of their ways. Holistically.” A look of concern flashed on Nick’s face. “They won’t be sent home, will they?”

    “No, I think I can safely say, they’ll be spending a lot of time with us. They appear only too happy to talk about their jobs.”

    “Well, we are here if you need anything further from us. Good luck, Agent Rogers. Thanks for taking off of our hands.”

    “Thank you, Mr. Coconolte. The way things look in Europe right now, we may need more help from good Americans like you and your brothers in the future.”

    “If you only knew,” Nick murmured.

    From the doorway, Rogers turned and said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that.”

    “Nothing. I was just thinking about the future,” Nick replied with a mysterious smile.


    Nick stepped into the office of his cousins to give them the skinny on the transfer of the Nazi saboteurs to the FBI.

“Hi, Nick. How’d it go?” Will asked.

    “Piece ‘o cake. Not only were they thrilled to get our visitors, Agent Rogers practically promised that no one outside of our little group will ever learn about this case.” Nick relaxed in one of the comfy guest chairs. “So, where are my two brothers? The Spy Smashers.”

    “Well. Phil’s gone uptime to study the Holistic Method, and Sam is escorting Dr. Lowell over for a chat about Mr. Kaplan and his abductors,” Orb answered.

    “If Phil annoys Miss Harris, let me know, and I’ll speak to him.”

    “She’ll be fine. Look how well she handled our guests. I-”

    “Hello, everyone. Am I interrupting anything? I hope.” Chris entered the office, closely followed by Sam.

    “We were just talking about you, weren’t we, Nick?”

    “Yes, after a fashion. Hi, Chris,” Nick said, then turned back to Cousin Orb. “How did Mr. Kaplan’s trip back to Boston go?”

    “After Miss Harris and our favorite doctor finished patching up his memory, Will and I whisked him back to his office just seconds after Professor Schneider and his assistant Fleischer took him away. He never noticed anything out of the ordinary.”

    “Fleischer?” asked Chris.

    “Yes, Hermann Fleischer. Schneider isn’t really a professor, by the way, but he does have a very disciplined mind. Of course, that didn’t help when Crash and the other couriers surrounded him – he surrendered quite easily. Said something about not liking time travel,” Orb smiled and added, “Their names are somewhat ironic. Schneider and Fleischer. Translated from German, they mean ‘Tailor and Butcher.’ Schneider planned the whole thing, and Fleischer was along to handle the… ‘wet work’.”

    “Just what did you learn from them? And how did you make them talk?”

    “Miss Harris was our secret weapon there. Dr. Lowell,” Orb looked over at her as she nodded, “was concerned at first about what we had planned for them, but after discussing it with Miss Harris, she approved. Very ethical is the good doctor. Miss Harris was able to convince the Tailor and the Butcher that helping us would be their greatest contribution to mankind. They told us where the temporal device came from, and who created it. They now believe they are from this time-frame and have no memory of time travel or temporal devices.”

    “I missed out on some of this. I had one helluva headache for a while. Where did the dingus come from?”

    “Well, Nick, now I have to give you a geography lesson. Off the coast of Germany, in the Baltic Sea, is a small island. Herr Hitler has a research program going on there to develop large, deadly rockets. As far as anyone will ever know, rockets are the only thing that will ever be built there. However, in a small, isolated section, a group of scientists will be working on a device to make ships, aircraft, and rockets, invisible to radar.”

    “Whoa. What’s radar?

    “An electronic device for detecting objects at great distances. Very, very secret. We, America, and the British are building and using radar right now. In this time-frame. Germany is a little behind us. We’re using radar defensively right now. Germany wants to go offensive with it. After the coming war is over, vague rumors of this invisibility research will find their way into popular American myth. But that’s another story, for another time-frame. A story that Time-Zone Labs will, unfortunately, be involved in. Anyway, during the course of their research, the Germans will stumble into temporal displacement, much the same way Will and I did, building a semi-successful device. A device that someone in the high command will decide to put to use. Causing headaches for all of us. You, especially, Nick. After Will and I slipped Kaplan back into his normal life, we did something we’re not particularly proud of.”

    “What did you do, Orb?”
    “We censured technology, virtually. I certainly hope the end justifies the means in this case.”

    “What, exactly, did you do, Orb?”

    “When Schneider and Fleischer gave us everything they knew about the project, we went to the Baltic. We approached the scientists after the device had been delivered to Schneider and his intelligence unit. This was in July of ’43, about four years from now. Of the fourteen scientists in the radar group, only three were dedicated members of the Nazi Party. The rest were working under threat of death. The device they constructed was the only one, so we have no worry about another falling into the wrong hands.

    “We offered to… relocate them, if they would help us suppress all knowledge of their research. The eleven anti-fascist researchers leaped at the chance. They all had no surviving families to worry about, so they collected all their research materials for a jump to Time-Zone Labs in the twenty-first century. From there they’ve all gone on to different time-frames more to their own preferences.

    “To cover their disappearance, with a little advance notice from us, they rigged the research facility for complete destruction during a British bombing mission in August of 1943.”

    “And they all lived happily ever after, right?”

    “Some of them. Some are still living happily ever after as we speak. The rest of them went to time-frames yet to be. All are employees or consultants for T-ZL.”

    “What happened to the Nazi scientists?” Chris asked. “Aren’t you afraid they’ll continue the research?”

    “They could if they had survived.”

    “Orb!” Nick was shocked by what he just heard. “You didn’t kill them, did you?”

    “No, of course not. We also didn’t warn them of the upcoming bombing raid. We could have prevented their deaths. I still ask myself if we should have.”

    Chris suddenly had a thought. “Where did all that money come from?”

    “That was another secret Nazi plot, totally unconnected with this. The Nazis are busy counterfeiting the currency of several countries. Most of it will be in the form of British five pound notes. Now that the FBI has all those fifty dollar bills, I’m sure the U.S. Treasury will be concerned about the possibility of large sums of American cash in Hawaii, Alaska, and Europe, falling into evil hands. This case reminds me of a short story written by my favorite author, Raymond Chandler.”

    “All in all,” Nick smiled, “we done good.”

    “I think that sums it up fairly well.”

    “Case closed then. How about dinner at Mollie’s? My treat.”

    Orb and Will glanced at one another, then, Will spoke up. “I like the idea, but only if you and Chris reserve the private booth. Sam, Phil, Orb, and I will eat out front so our carousing won’t disturb your achy head.”

    “I fear another conspiracy in the making. But who am I to oppose fate? Let’s go.”


    “And that, A.J., is how we helped save the world for democracy.”

    “It’s a great story, Uncle Phil. You should publish it.”

    “I wanted to, but everyone says time travel stories are too corny.”

The Spy Who Wasn’t:

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