All Things Mysterious Volume Ninety-Four
Lieutenant Jones in: Why Is It So Cold? Part Two.
Boy, was it cold in Quaintsville! It just got colder and colder in defiance of the season and rumor had it that it was all the doing of Mayor Friggsson, who had blown into town on a chill wind. He’d saved the life of a child and parlayed that incident into a political career that catapulted him into the mayoralty. But why did it keep getting colder? Lieutenant Jones, time-travelling troubleshooter, and his Quaintsville companion, Flint, who seemed immune to the cold, were determined to get to the bottom of the mystery and had braved the arctic chill to get to the building where it was said the mayor had his headquarters and laboratory. It made sense that this was the source of the town’s deep freeze, for it got colder and colder as the two men entered the lair. Undeterred by the signs posted, saying KEEP OUT, THIS MEANS YOU, DO NOT ENTER, DANGER, NO PARKING, and SECRET LABORATORY THIS WAY ---------->>, they’d had the foresight to bundle up and even though it was slow going, made it at last to the locked door behind which was a low thrumming noise which grew ever louder the closer they got.
Lt. Jones tried the door but it was locked. Over the hum, he shouted to Flint, ‘I’m going to try to break it down!’
Flint shouted, WHAT?’
Lt. Jones shouted, ‘I’M GOING TO TRY TO BREAK IT DOWN!’
Flint shouted, ‘WHAT?’
The Lieutenant shrugged and pointed to the door. He gave it a good hard kick and nearly busted all his toes for his trouble. That clearly wasn’t going to work. Time for Plan B! He fished in his pocket as the hum grew unbearably loud. He slipped his picklock device into the doorknob and opened up as easy as you please. The two self-appointed investigators entered, not bothering to keep quiet, since they couldn’t hear themselves think anyway. The room was full of machines right out of a science fiction film, or maybe a horror picture, and there was a man standing in front of one of them looking for all the world like he’d stepped out of one of those selfsame pictures. Short he was, with a white lab coat, and frizzy Einstein hair sticking up wildly from either side of his head where bifocals were precariously perched. The hum of the machines had reached a screaming pitch and the ersatz Einstein waved his hands wildly in the air, as if he was conducting an orchestra. Lt. Jones and Flint watched in frozen fascination. Suddenly he whirled and confronted the two interlopers. The thrumming noise of the machinery abruptly ceased.
‘I AM FRIGIDO THE FIRST!’ he shouted, pronouncing ‘Frigido’ with a hard ‘g.’
‘Man’s a looney tune,’ muttered Flint. ‘Look, buster, what’s your game?’
‘My game? Game? There are no games, there are only actions and reactions! I am the reincarnation of Willis Carrier, who invented air conditioning in 1902!’
Hoo boy, thought the Lieutenant. It sure takes all kinds to fill the freeways.
He said, ‘Why are you trying to turn Quaintsville into the North Pole?’
‘North Pole? North Pole?’ shrieked Frigido the First. ‘I will make the South Pole look like a beach resort before I’m through!’
‘A reasonable question, my boy, a very reasonable question!’ Then the scientist stood silent.
Flint said, ‘So how’s about a reasonable answer? I haven’t got all day.’
‘I, Frigido the First, am the reincarnation of Willis Carrier!’
‘Yeah, you said that. So what?’
‘Neither he nor I ever got the credit for making the world more comfortable and now I will have my revenge! When everyone is too cold to move, I will take over the Earth!’
Flint was incredulous. ‘What do you want, a medal?’
Frigido pondered this for a moment. ‘Well, yes, a medal would be nice.’
‘Well, you ain’t getting one!’ shouted Flint.
‘Of course Carrier got the credit--he’s in the history books and the factory in Syracuse still bears his name,’ said the Lieutenant.
‘Fool! Do you think I’m so easily gulled by your lies? Never! I will be Frigido the First, the only man in history to dominate the entire world!’
‘Oh, brother, another one! Look, mac, why don’t we just sit down and talk it over over an ice-cold lemonade?’ asked Flint.
‘Bah! Don’t try to distract me with your heat! You can’t fool me!’
Heat? thought Flint. What the heck does that mean? He made one more attempt to reason with Frigido.
‘Listen, bud, what good is ruling over a big snowball? Why don’t you use your brains to help people? Anyway, who wants to rule this lousy planet? The trouble with this place is, it’s full of people.’
‘Don’t try to distract me! Frigido the First will be the ruler of Earth! And now, the final reckoning!’
The madman pulled levers and pushed switches on what appeared to be the main machine, and the mechanical hum returned, rising quickly to the previous screaming pitch.
Frigido shouted, ‘Today I triumph!’ Just then, the constant wailing of the machines began to lessen; in a moment it died out altogether.
‘What madness is this?’ cried Frigido. He frantically threw switches and flipped levers, to no avail. Already the room was a bit warmer. Then Lieutenant Jones appeared. ‘I’ve pulled the plug on your nefarious plan, you monster! There will be no deep freeze here in Quaintsville, or anywhere else!’
‘What have you done? What have you done? I am ruined! Ruined!’ shouted the ruffian. Incredibly, before the shocked eyes of Flint and the cool, jaded peepers of Lt. Jones, Frigido began shrinking right in front of them. Smaller and smaller he became, and the men realized that Frigido the First was melting! Soon he was nothing but a small puddle on the floor and the threat of the deep freeze was over! No more would Quaintsville be menaced by a madman. Forever after would Quaintsville be temperate.
The Lieutenant and Flint stood for a moment, reflecting on the end of the cold and the small puddle of what had once been a scientist.
Flint said, ‘Come to think of it, it is a bit chilly.’
To ward off the cold, take a look at some of these mysteries with Summer in the title:
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