Editor's Note: Today we present the first of a two part pulp story written by Caine Dorr and featuring The Golden Age Hero - The Clock. Hope you enjoy it!
Chapter 1 - The Clock Strikes!
Mark Stash leaned against the guard station located in the lobby of the Brunswick Tower. Just finishing his nine o'clock rounds, and finding nothing out of the ordinary, he pulled out a bottle from his desk drawer and poured two fingers of bourbon into a glass.
"It's just you and me tonight Jimmy boy." Stash saluted the glass of amber liquid and took a large swig.
On the desk sat a clipboard with his rounds check sheet and notes from the clients that resided in the tower. While some evenings there would be building business to observe, like construction or moving, tonight he literally had nothing to do but walk around the building and talk to himself.
He hated his job and wished he liked reading a bit better - at least then he could bring a good book with him. Picking up his glass Stash finished the amber liquid inside and began to pour another when...
“VRANG, VRANG, VRANG”
...Stash fell out of his chair and smashed his head on the marble floor. Sitting up he could see, high up on the wall nearly to the ceiling, the huge clock mounted to the wall struck 09:10 and it was chiming! In all his time at Brunswick, it had never chimed before.
“What the hell?” Stash rubbed his head, grabbed his flashlight and dashed up the stairs trying to ignore the splitting ache that invaded the back of his skull.
Ordinary people off the street couldn't get up past the thick security door that laid in waiting at the top of the third stairwell. Access to the higher floors required use of the lift, which was of coursed manned by an operator every day.
Stash fumbled with the huge ring on his belt, sorting through the dozens of keys, as he frantically tried to get the elevator door open. Sparing a second for a quick glance up Stash noticed something. The big clock had stopped chiming just as suddenly as it had started.
“I aint putt'n this in my report.” Stash grumbled.
Turning around he headed back down the stairs to his bottle of Jim Beam when the very shadows seemed to move around him. From the other side of the landing, he heard a rumbling sound.
“The Clock strikes.” A rough voice cut through the air.
“Who's there”" Stash clicked on his flashlight and splashed light on the opposite wall.
Out of nowhere a thick arm flew out and a glove covered fist smashed Stash in the jaw. From the floor, with the flashlight rolling back and forth, Stash saw a menacing figure in a suit standing over him in the dancing light. It was a tall, broad shouldered man wearing a suit and fedora, with his face hidden by jet black veil.
During normal hours, Stash would have taken the man to be one of the many faceless businessmen who worked Brunswick Towers. Except that this man radiated strength and confidence in a way those men never could.
With the ease of picking up a babe The Clock lifted Stash by the lapel on his shirt and braced him against the wall just far enough away from the rolling light that it was torturously out of his reach in darkness.
“You’re out of time Stash.” The clock grumbled, the two men face to face in the dark.
“What!? What!?” Stash pleaded, his breath reeking.
"The amulet, the Onyx Amulet Stash, who did you tell about it?" The Clock tossed stash over a foot and a half and allowed him to drop to the floor in a frump. At the same time he produced a cane that clacked on the hard floor next to him.
"How did you know about that?" Stash asked in frustration.
The clock swept Stash’s legs out from under him with his cane, and jabbed hard at the floor mere inches from Stash's head.
“Tick, Tock.” The Clock bated.
“Ok, ok. Just let me get another drink will ya? I can't think straight with you toss'n me around up here!” Stash shouted and produced a small pistol from beneath his uniform. Rolling slightly Stash came up firing.
BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
With time on his side The Clock dodged out of the way. Spinning his cane he steadied it in his arms like a rifle and fired. The thick handle launched and struck Stash square in the face knocking the man out.
Ordinarily gun shots would be a problem but The Clock knew the Brunswick Towers only employed this one guard. Picking him up The Clock threw Stash over his shoulders and hauled the man back to the guard station.
Placing the unconscious guard in his chair behind the desk The Clock removed the lapel pen from his jacket and sprayed the man in the face with a custom gas he’d discovered while serving in the Navy. He laid Stash on the desk with his half full glass of Jim Beam. It would look to anyone else as if the man had drunk too much and passed out on the job.
Quickly, and with an intense focus, The Clock went through the guard’s station. In his daytime identity of Brian O’Brien, District Attorney, The Clock had discovered that Marcus Stash had been looking to sell security information regarding the Onyx Amulet which was currently only invitation on display upstairs. Rumor had it that someone had paid for the information and was planning on snatching the Amulet tonight.
The Clock found what he was looking for in the form of a dingy notepad with the corners folded in all directions. Taking a pencil from the drawer he scribbled over the notepad until he nearly covered its page with graphite, holding up to the light he saw the notes that had been last made on it.
He chuckled at what he found: Miss Terry - 10:00 PM. The note was underlined with dollar signs drawn around the words. Apparently, Stash was unaware of the concept of incriminating evidence.
Considering his options, The Clock began putting the elements of his trap into place on the fly. He moved to the front doors of the Brunswick Towers and unlocked them. It was unlikely that there would be a different intruder other than Miss Terry and The Clock didn't want her having any troubles getting into the building and finding her contact passed out drunk at his station.
Moving toward the stairs The Clock picked up the round bulbous end of his cane and reconnected it to the hollowed out tip. Entering the elevator he produced a key to activate it and allowed it to take him to the penthouse. While in the elevator car The Clock inserted a new gas chamber into the stock of the cane so that it was ready for use again and made a mental note to remove the wiring he'd added to the Brunswick Towers clock so that it would not chime at 9:10 tomorrow evening.
With only 20 minutes before the mystery guest was scheduled to arrive, he'd need to work fast.
To be continued