The Mysterious Bookshop


                                      Brand IS supra-man!

(See ATM volume Eighty-Seven for the first part of this tale)

The thing was, he wasn’t used to wearing a cape.  How did these superheroes move around without getting tangled up in them?  And what was the point anyway?  But White was waiting impatiently so Brand held his nose as if he was diving into the water and leapt boldly into space. Somehow he didn’t go plummeting to the sidewalk!  He sort of floated along aimlessly until he steered himself in a northerly direction just to see what would happen, and lo and behold, he went north!  What a sensation!  He was flying!  He found he could do loop-the-loops, and dives, and swoops and got pretty carried away until White shouted up, ‘Quit fooling around and let’s go!’  The car took off down the road and Brand, flying low, tried his best to follow.  He found the direction part of flying pretty easy; the hard part was keeping bugs out of his mouth and eyes--why didn’t he get some goggles?--and adjusting for altitude.  To prevent any untoward accidents he kept pretty low so he wouldn’t have to fall from a high altitude if he happened to fall. At first he was kind of apprehensive but he kept thinking of that twelve-fifty that he’d soon put in his pocket.

Whoops!  Better stop daydreaming, he almost took out a street light, or it almost took Brand out.  It was hard to concentrate; for one thing, what a view!  Look, there was the new high rise that was going up!  Just for the heck of it, Brand directed the suit up to the top of it.  Funny, his fear of heights seemed to have disappeared.  He fancied he could see all the way to China from up here, but his reverie was interrupted by the tiny figure of White below, who was yelling something and gesticulating wildly.  So Brand, for the second time that day, jumped off a building without parachute or net, and miraculously floated through the air with the greatest of ease.  He was getting the hang of it now, you just had to sort of nudge the suit with your body inside it to make it go.

He meandered along, vaguely following White in his car on the way to the air force base and taking in the sights along the way.  Waitaminute--was that Jeanine?  It was!  She looked even prettier from up here, and Brand thought she might enjoy a visit from on high so he swooped down and WHAM! went right into a parked car. To his amazement, the car rolled and rolled, coming to a stop upside down half a block away.  And he wasn’t even bruised!  He picked himself up off the ground to find that Jeanine had fled and that White had pulled up next to him and was shoving him into the car.  They took off, and White said sharply, ‘You’ve got to watch where you’re going!  That was the problem that other clown had!’  Brand was carefully checking himself  for cuts and bruises and, finding none, wasn't listening too closely.  But he perked up the next moment when White said, ‘All right, here we are.  Now let me do the talking!’

At the base they got out of the car and were surrounded by a number of officers and pilots who commenced firing questions about the suit at Brand.

‘How did it handle?’

‘Could you steer?’

‘How was maneuverability at higher altitudes?’

‘How long could you stay aloft?’

‘Why didn’t you wear goggles?’

He couldn’t answer one before the next one came, so he simply stood silently and let White do the talking which suited him fine.  Presently the audience wandered off and Brand and White were left with a general or some such self important figure.

Brand stood like a bump on a log while the general and White conferred quietly. Brand was feeling uneasy and wanted to take off the darn suit and go home, and said to White, ‘Can I have my money now?’

The general looked shocked, and White spluttered,  ‘Money?  You expect to be paid for doing service to your country?’

Taken aback, Brand replied, ‘But you promised me twelve hundred fifty dollars!’

The general turned on White. ‘Is this true?’

‘Certainly not, sir!’

‘What do you mean, certainly not? You did too!’

The general patted Brand’s shoulder.  ‘Now, son, you should be proud that you helped your air force develop a new weapon against the enemy.’

Unimpressed, Brand wailed, ‘I want my twelve fifty!’

Simultaneously the general and White cried, ‘NO!’

With a roar, Brand leapt up into the air, somehow resisting the urge to shout ‘UP, UP, and AWAY!’ as he heard someone do once.  He flew straight up and in his rage at being stiffed on his payment, smashed a few walls on the way. Seemed the suit provided super strength, for how else could he have flipped a car?  Was that an unintended side effect of the suit?  Suddenly he decided to power dive White and the general and went screaming directly towards them. To his vast amusement, both men screamed and hit the dirt as Brand swooped past.  That was sweet!  With all his powers, was there anything he couldn’t do?  He again flew straight up, towards the sun. Up, up, up, up, up, up. It was getting increasingly difficult to breathe. So there was at least one limitation, which was probably a good thing to know.  All at once he slammed into an invisible barrier and went reeling backwards, back toward the earth.  An altitude limit!  Down, down, down, down, down, down.  At length he righted himself so he was at least facing in the direction he was travelling.  A wonderful, awful idea came into his mind.  Who were these hubristic men who thought they could use flying suits to promote conflict?  Whatever happened to peaceful uses for swell new inventions? By golly, he’d show them!  So he flew straight down with as much speed as he could muster.  When he hit the ground dead center of the base, he created a crater that was fully a quarter mile across and nearly as deep.  The earth that he’d displaced formed a huge mound of dirt that the neighborhood kids, once the ground stopped shaking, began a huge game of king of the hill. Of the general and White there was no sign, and good riddance.  But what to do with the suit?

One of the boys playing king of the hill was nearly to the top of it but was thwarted at the last moment by the ‘king’ and came tumbling down, landing at the feet of Brand. Peeling the suit off and standing in his street clothes, Brand said, ‘Hey, kid.  You want a cool Halloween costume?’ 


Questions/Comments/A flapping cape that gets caught in doors?

Written by Ian Kern — April 06, 2017

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