The Mysterious Bookshop

Lieutenant Jones in: Just How Many Chicagos Are There?

Continuing our interminable story from the last several weeks!

(The end is in sight, honest!)


‘Jones, we’re in trouble!’ gasped George Mandible, as Lt. Jones struggled against the tentacle that held him tight. Obviously, thought the Lieutenant.

‘Chin up, Mandible, we’ll get out of this yet!’

Valeria overheard their attempts at keeping a stiff upper lip and laughed.

‘You’ve no escape!  No one can stop me now!’

Interested, Lt. Jones asked, ‘Just what is your plan, Valeria!’

Valeria settled herself in front of the men, her tentacles loosening not at all. ‘Your experiments destroyed my people!  Atomic power is poison to us and I am the last survivor of your attempts to build a weapon to fight your petty battles!’

‘But that was years ago!  Why punish us now?’ cried Mandible.

‘You should be aware that time is in flux, it is never rigid and unyielding!’

‘I know that better than anyone!’ spoke the Lieutenant.  ‘But you are interfering in a functioning society for your own nefarious ends!’

Again Valeria laughed loud and long.  ‘Functioning!  This city, just in an eyeblink of moments, has seen two mayors assassinated and years of lawlessness following the ill-advised attempt to banish alcohol and its dubious benefits.’

Lt. Jones countered, ‘It was your attempts to change the future that led to at least some of these events!’

‘LIAR!’ cried Valeria.  ‘We generously gave you our self-sealing walls, our scanners, and our regeneration technology!’

‘So you could twist the future for your own odious ends!’


Meanwhile, Mandible had been working frantically to loosen the bonds of the tentacle imprisoning himself and the Lieutenant.  Suddenly it snapped, sending both men crashing to the floor.

Valeria screamed.  She began to dissolve into the same green flow that had heralded her arrival.  Twisting and wavy like an out of tune video picture, she disappeared from their view.

Mandible and Lt. Jones looked at each other. Their sense of relief was palpable but quickly followed by their indecision as to what to do next.

‘So we dodged that bullet, and what do we do now?  The future of Chicago is in our hands!’ said Mandible, melodramatically.

‘Well, I--’ the Lieutenant began, but that was as far as he got, for just then an orange void appeared in the wall behind the men. Incredibly, Valeria was back, in the humanoid flesh this time.

‘Thought you were rid of me, did you?  Well, think again!’ she cried.

Lt. Jones had had enough.  ‘I’m getting a little tired of these parlor tricks!  Just what is it you want, anyway?’

This question appeared to give Valeria pause, for she did not thunder her pronouncements as she usually did.  Instead she looked downright thoughtful.  ‘I want vengeance for my people!!’ said she.

‘And what good will that possibly do?  Sure, you might kill us, but would that bring back your people?  Your society?  Why not work for a better future for the city? There’s no reason for all this bluster?  Why try to trap us and punish us for something that’s buried in the past?  Why not work with the two of us and come to a modus vivendi, a way of life we can all live with?’ asked the Lieutenant.

For a moment, Lt. Jones and George Mandible were hopeful that the former’s words had gotten through to the alien woman, that she would see the wisdom in them.

But no!  She did not see the wisdom in them.  She raised both arms above her head and made a gesture the likes of which the men had not seen, a kind of cutting, savage whir, and all at once massive explosions rocked the room, sending all three of them into a darkening void. Seemingly spinning through space, the Lieutenant could see stars, literally, not the kind that one might see when one gets a bump on the noggin.  Were they headed through space?  Through time?  They were hurtling somewhere at the behest of the strange woman in whose thrall they were, and where they would land was anyone’s guess!

Where will the trio end up?  What new adventures await them?  Will this story ever end?  One way to find out!  Tune in next time!

Questions/Comments/A list of science fiction cliches?

Note new email address for y_r friendly blogger!

Note also that headed into the holidays, the ATM posting schedule may become a bit (more) erratic.

Written by Ian Kern — October 06, 2017

Specializing in Mystery Fiction and all its subgenres, including Detective, Crime, Hardboiled, Thrillers, Espionage, and Suspense.

Located at 58 Warren St in New York City, we are open Monday-Saturday from 11am-7pm.

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