"The Human Zero."
By Erle Stanley Gardner (1889-1970).
Illustration by Virgil Finlay (1914-71) (HERE).
First appearance: Argosy, December 19, 1931.
Reprinted in Fantastic, January 1962.
Reprints page (HERE).
Collected in The Human Zero: The Science Fiction Stories of Erle Stanley Gardner (1981; reviewed HERE).
Novelette (45 pages).
Online at Archive.org (HERE).
(Parental caution: Violence.)
". . . he leaped back, just as the panels of the door splintered under a hail of lead which came crashing from the muzzle of a sawed-off shotgun."
Caged mice are disappearing—too bad for them—but the same thing is happening to uncaged people, victims who leave behind only their empty clothes . . .
Chapter 1: "A Mysterious Kidnaping"
Chapter 2: "Who Is Albert Crome?"
Chapter 3: "Into Thin Air"
Chapter 4: "A Madman's Laboratory"
Chapter 5: "A Fantastic Secret"
Chapter 6: "Still They Vanish"
Chapter 7: "A Fiend Is Unmasked"
~ P. H. Dangerfield:
". . . a millionaire member of the stock exchange . . ."
~ Arthur L. Soloman:
". . . [had] a dry, husky voice that was as devoid of moisture as a dead leaf scuttling across a cement sidewalk on the wings of a March wind."
~ Bob Sands:
"What has the bank got to say about how much kidnapers demand?"
~ Sid Rodney:
"I may have a hunch that's worth while. Will you give me a break on it, captain, if it's a lead?"
~ Captain Harder:
". . . nodded wearily."
~ Ruby Orman:
"Scene one of greatest consternation. Men glanced at each other in an ecstasy of futility."
~ Charles Ealy:
"Dramatic scene enacted in office of Captain Harder at an early hour this morning."
~ Detective Sergeant Selby:
~ The servant:
"When I count three, sir, I shall shoot."
Typos: "strength of the mortal"; "that shoes"; "The officer was pined"; "termperature"; "I dont know"; and several lines were chopped up on page 39.
- If you're interested in absolute zero see Wikipedia's article (HERE).
|(Click on image to enlarge.)|
- We recently revisited uberpulpster Erle Stanley Gardner (HERE).