TWO Space Cabbies!?!? It happened! And here’s the space low-down on how!
Our story opens as it often does, with Space Cabby bellyaching to Ippy, the Interplanetary Police.
(Looking at that Ippy guy, is it any wonder they’re all such jerks?)
Space Cabby, relieved that this space-criminal will soon wind up in the space-pokey, heads back out to his cab only to discover another driver shouting for fares in it. To his utter space-surprise:
And each one assumes he’s the original and the other a fake! To avoid confusion while they figure this out, one of them makes cards saying “A” and “B” and tucks them in their hats (with his own card being “A”, naturally!)
Space Cabby B figures out what must have happened. Earlier that morning, he picked up the guy who turned out to be a counterfeiter. But when he spotted identical serial numbers on the Martian bills, he didn’t go whining to Ippy, he took off after the crook. (Who had hired a space-cab to take him to his private space-car.) Space Cabby B follows the guy to an asteroid hideout, demonstrating once again that the asteroids are the absolute boondocks of the solar system. Since Space Cabby lets his fists do the talking, he pops the guy one.
Unlike similar models you’d pay more for, this Molecular Molder doesn’t make imperfect duplicates, but identical ones — which was its downfall! It gave all the Martian dollars the same serial number! The machine cranks out a few more giant coins and then the crook pushes them over at Space Cabby, knocking our hero down and using the distraction to make a getaway! Space Cabby blacks out and when he comes to, he’s somehow back on Mars, where our story began! (They figure that Space Cabby A drove the cab back with B passed out in the back undetected, and then B climbed in the driver’s seat while A was in Ippy HQ.) And if that wasn’t bad enough:
A taunting letter! This is getting serious, people!
Within moments, the full implications of the situation dawn on the Cabbies. When a fare asks to be taken somewhere, they spend so much time arguing about which one should do it that the betentacled fish-man goes off in somebody else’s cab. And after work, things aren’t any better!
Only then do they decide to head back to the counterfeiter’s asteroid to solve their problem. But when they get there, they find that the crook has pulled up stakes and moved! Fortunately, though, he left his “atom tank” behind, which they’re sure he’ll come back for. Sure enough he does, and they tail him to a different asteroid (even at only six pages long, this story is pretty well-padded) and again fists start flying.
The crook subdued, the two Cabbies stand before the “unscrambler ray” (luckily, the sign on it explains that it will only unscramble the duplicate, leaving the original unharmed), each prepared to annihilate the other. But their shared goal of punching that dude has brought them together at last!
At the last moment, B makes a realization and announces that he knows for sure A is the duplicate, a fact that is confirmed by A vanishing into the ether! Reader, did YOU spot what Space Cabby B spotted?
Yes, the A variant did everything with his left hand and not the correct right hand!
See, it’s only logical that the duplicate created by the Molecular Molder would be a mirror-image of the original, which explains why all the counterfeit money the guy created was useless to him, as the writing on it…you know, let’s just move on.
Next week: Interplanetary Parcel of Peril!
“Mystery of the Counterfeit Space-Cabby!”
Mystery in Space #26 (June-July 1955)
Writer: Otto Binder
Penciler: Gil Kane
Inker: Bernard Sachs
Editor: Julius Schwartz
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