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Authors: Victor Appleton II

Tom Swift and His 3-D Telejector

BOOK: Tom Swift and His 3-D Telejector
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This unauthorized tribute is based upon the original TOM SWIFT JR. characters.

As of this printing, copyright to The New TOM SWIFT Jr. Adventures is owned by SIMON & SCHUSTER

This edition privately printed by RUNABOUT © 2011





"HOW would you girls like to visit a haunted house?" asked Tom Swift as Bud Barclay’s red convertible sped through the late evening darkness. Leaning forward from the back seat, his blue eyes sparkled with excitement.

Tom’s sister Sandra, a pretty blond girl, turned slightly to glance back suspiciously at her famous brother. "Are you kidding?"

"No. You’ve heard me speak of Dr. Grimsey?"

"That new scientist you mentioned, the one you and Daddy just hired at Enterprises?"

Tom nodded. "The house he rented came complete with a housemate from the Great Beyond! I’d like to drop in."

The dark-haired girl in the back seat next to Tom spoke up. "Grimsey—already, a creepish name. What is his field, Thomas? Exorcism?" asked Bashalli Prandit dryly.

"Parapsychology," Tom said in reply. "The scientific study of ESP and other ‘paranormal’ phenomena. Including ghosts and hauntings!"

Bud Barclay chuckled. "You should hear the stories he tells about that place! One night he beard boots clumping outside his room. He jumped out of bed and glimpsed the figure of a dead sea captain who used to own the house. Then it disappeared right before his eyes!"

"Oo-ooo!" Bash shivered—a mocking shiver. "Where is this sanctuary for spooks?"

"It’s the old Gullbracken House, up on the ridge overlooking Lake Carlopa," Tom said.

Sandy was unconvinced, but gave a tentative nod. "I know, that big gloomy old house you can see from Rickman Dunes. Remember, Bashi?" Bashalli nodded.

"Another night," Bud went on, "Dr. Grimsey was awakened by clammy fingers touching his face. There was Pegleg the Ghost bending over him! And it wasn’t fingers, it was seaweed hanging down from his head!"

it!" commanded Sandy. "You’ll scare Bashalli."

"What nonsense," retorted the Pakistani. "I am very comfortable with ‘ghosts,’ for I know they do not exist. All such things, just hoaxes and rumors, or tricks of the eye."

Tom shrugged. "Then I take it you wouldn’t be interested."

"I did not say that," she replied defensively.

"You’re giving us goose bumps!" Sandy declared with a frown of only
-disbelief. "But let’s go see the place, anyhow. Shouldn’t we call first, though?"

"The guy’s not home," Bud said, slowing to turn the car around away from Shopton, where they had wiled the evening that had now turned to starry, moonless night. "He’s been out of town for a few days—gave me the house keys and asked me to feed his birds. When he told me the story, he said he wouldn’t mind if I spent the night there to see for myself."

Bashalli asked, "And just what
the story? Who is this sailor-man supposed to be?"

"No one really knows," answered Tom soberly. "Dr. Grimsey did a little research, though, at the library. Supposedly he was an old sea captain, back in the early 19th century when Shopton was just a little crossroads village—a suspected slaver and latter-day pirate. Seems he kept people chained up in the attic, and killed anyone who threatened to talk. Then one day..." The youth paused. "One day he just disappeared. Never seen again."

"Except for one thing," added Bud. "On his bed was a black char-mark, the size and shape of a man!"

Tense silence followed, dark as the night but starless
moonless. Bash eyed Tom suspiciously, but kept her thoughts close.

Paralleling the lakeshore, the convertible presently turned off onto a dirt road which wound upward onto the low ridge that framed the lake road on the inland side. Soon a house loomed ahead against the night sky. It was an old frame building, two stories, with a high gabled roof. Slats of light shone through the shuttered windows of the ground floor, but the second story was only a silhouette, slightly paled by the reflection from Lake Carlopa. Bud parked and the four young people got out.

Unlocking the heavy wooden door, Bud led his friends into the parlor, switching on some additional lamps. Yet even in bright light the room seemed strange and half-hidden—to the girls at least, though Bud maintained his usual joking commentary. "Come on," urged the youthful San Franciscan, "I’ll show you the big aviary on the back porch."

Bashalli’s eyes narrowed. She glanced toward Sandy and said, "No doubt these bright boys have set up their spook show back there to thrill and chill us."

"We’ll wait here," pronounced Sandy smugly, giving Tom and Bud a dismissive wave.

"Okay, San. But..." The young inventor’s voice trailed off into a slight frown. "Stay here in the parlor. It might not be safe, wandering around in the dark."

"We shall be
fine," Bashalli declared, "even deprived of our brave protectors."

Left alone, the girls made a closer inspection of the room. The walls were covered with dark-patterned paper, and red-plush drapes hung at the windows. The lamps and fixtures were modern, but most of the furniture was massive and old fashioned.

"What a dreary place!" Sandy murmured. "It smells musty in here, doesn’t it? Like it’s all been closed up for a hundred years."

"Part of the effects.
do not say the scent reminds you of seaweed."

"Imagine being alone here on one of those ‘dark and stormy’ nights!"

Bashalli sniffed haughtily. "But Americans enjoy being frightened. Your movies are all about fear and danger."

"Uh-huh. And what are Pakistan movies about?"

"We watch American movies."

They could hear Tom and Bud talking at the back side of the house, and the occasional twitter of a bird.

Suddenly Bash looked up, toward the high ceiling. "What was—?"

"What?" Sandy gulped.

"A sound up above."

"Above in the—in the attic?"

"‘Above’ is where attics usually are, Sandra. —

Sandy had heard it too. A scraping sound and the creak of a single footfall. And then one more sound.
! Like a wooden peg-leg against a floor!

"T-Tom? Bud?" Sandy called out with false calm. "Are—er—
all right?"

"Sure, just feeding the birds," came a pair of voices from the porch—definitely
the attic.

A grandfather clock ticked loudly in the silence; but the silence seemed to be becoming louder than the sound. Suddenly Bashalli gave a stifled gasp and pointed with a quivering hand.

"Sandy! Look!"

The yawning mouth of the old fireplace, dark and empty a moment before, had taken on a faint, wavering phosphorescence. In a moment it had coalesced into the form of flames licking at the edges of the darkness—silent flames without a crackle and without heat.

"Obviously—just a gas log—don’t you think?" murmured Bash in the faintest of voices. "Surely on a timer."

Wide-eyed, Sandy could not answer. And then her eyes grew wider.

A weird shape, like a twist of smoke, had materialized in front of the fireplace! Expanding and growing more solid, it coalesced into the figure of a peg-legged man in a brass-buttoned coat with a sea captain’s hat pulled low over his eyes.
He was drenched and dripping, and seaweed clung to his clothes!
As he stepped forward, he stretched out a clawlike hand in the direction of the girls. His head seemed to become luminous, as if from an inner flame, revealing his skull as a black shadow around two glowing eyes!

The girls watched, frozen with terror.

"H-h-he’s dripping wet," Bash whispered, "but he’s not leaving any tracks on the carpet!"

Sandy summoned courage from somewhere. "He just
be a ghost!" she insisted. "This is just something Tom and Bud have rigged up." Yet even as she spoke she was well aware that she could still hear the boys talking and moving about half a house away.

Gathering all her nerve, Sandy got up and approached the specter, circling warily.

"Sandra, no!" protested Bashalli.

Sandy reached out to touch the otherworldly intruder—but
her hand went through his body!

Reduced to quaint stereotypes the girls screamed and flew into each other’s arms. They were clinging in panic as Tom and Bud came rushing into the parlor.

"What’s wrong?" Tom inquired. "What happened?"

"W-w-we just saw the ghost!" Bash quavered. "Sandy tried to touch—

Bud stared at them, then looked around. "Stop joking—there’s no one here but us."

The apparitions, ghostly fire and ghostly sailor, had vanished!

Sandy was about to speak when she saw smiles twitching at the boys’ lips. As her expression changed Tom and Bud burst into laughter.

"Of all the mean tricks!" Sandy exclaimed in disgust. "They’ve been playing a joke on us, Bashi!"

"But—but how? I
we saw it!" Bewildered, the pretty Pakistani turned to Tom Swift, eyes flashing. "I must say, for someone dead he was most lifelike. One of your silly robots, Thomas?"

The young scientist-inventor reddened. "Didn’t mean to scare you two all
much, Bash."

"It was pretty much my idea," Bud confessed.

Seeing the sheepish expressions on the boys’ faces, Sandy conceded a smile, good-naturedly. "Okay, whatever. Brother dear, you’ve had your fun. Now explain."

The young inventor was still chuckling. "What you’ve just seen," he announced, "is a demonstration of the new invention I’m working on—a three-dimensional television system."

"We might have known, Sandra," pronounced Bashalli. "Television is as good a source of anxiety as movies."

"Television?" Sandy wrinkled her forehead. "But the spook we saw wasn’t on a screen—it was walking right through the room!"

"Exactly, because my system doesn’t
a screen." Tom walked over and pulled aside some draperies. Concealed behind them was a boxlike device about four feet high, studded with tuning knobs and dials. A short latticework antenna on an adjustable base was mounted on the top of the chassis. "This telejector, as I call it, projects 3-D images right into the room. You were actually watching a digital video recording which I switched on by remote control from Dr. Grimsey’s porch." He added that he had similarly switched on a sound player set up in the room overhead to provide an eerie atmosphere.

"Then the ‘ghost’ we saw was really just—well, just
?" Bashalli asked in amazement.

"Not quite, although I hope to achieve that later," Tom said. "The images were formed from a chemical mist which Bud sprayed into the air earlier tonight, before he swung by to pick us up. The tiny globules are slightly buoyant and much too small and diffuse to be seen in dim light like this."

"An electronic field gimmick keeps them in place in the air," Bud noted. "Same sort of deal Tom uses on his skywriting machine."

Bash nodded. "Ah! That
atmospheric musty smell."

Tom continued, "When the phase-tuned microwave beams from the telejector strike the mist particles, it makes them glow at the point in the air where the energy load exceeds the absorption threshold of the particles."

Sandy nodded. "But it wasn’t like a TV image," she objected. "It was in 3-D—I walked partly around it."

"That’s the main idea," Tom replied. "The output beam paints a sort of glowing 3-D ‘shell’ in midair while dimming-down the background." He added that the phony "sea captain" was actually an Enterprises employee, Sam Barker, in a rented costume.

"We recorded him this morning, using another part of my new system."

"He’ll be glad to hear he has a future in acting," Bud gibed.

"I suppose this was a historic moment in science, even if
was almost scared out of her lovely blond hair," Bashalli commented. "Will your new 3-D system be used for home television, Tom?"

The young inventor smiled modestly. "It will eventually, I hope, but it’s not perfected yet. This version can handle individual objects that appear fairly close to the viewer, but not scenery, or images of varying distance. It’s hard to deal with parallax and perspective, you know."

"Isn’t it though."

Bud produced refreshments from the kitchen. The four sat on the sofas and chatted for a time. Then Sandy glanced across the room.

"Oh, good—I was going to ask you to show us the ghost again."

The hazy, glowing image stood indistinctly in a dark corner of the room, arms extended toward them.

Tom stood. "But—I switched off the machine." He turned toward Bud. "Flyboy, is this another one of your pranks? Like you did that time with the robot?"

Bud shook his head vigorously. "Don’t know anything about it. Maybe you accidentally bumped the remote."

"No," Tom stated, puzzled. "It’s still in the other room."

BOOK: Tom Swift and His 3-D Telejector
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