It’s summertime, and everyone’s trying to beat the heat, including Space Cabby! He just dropped off a fare on Mercury and is now waiting for another and wishing he could get somewhere nice and cool.
His reverie is interrupted, however, by a strange clicking sound coming from inside his cab. Looking in the back seat he discovers a parcel, undoubtedly left there by one of his fares. And when he sees what’s written on it…
…he fills in the gaps as “DANGEROUS! KEEP COOL!” Brother, is he on the wrong planet! The box starts to click louder and faster, so SC takes off before anything tragic happens. Sure enough, the box settles down in “the cold of space”. With the air conditioner on and the windows rolled down, our hero buys some time to check the “space lost-and-found telecast”.
Space-raspberries, no luck there! And if that weren’t bad enough, he flips on the space-radio and hears a news flash about a space dragnet looking for a criminal with a time-bomb in a box! Two guesses on where that box might be! But every wanted criminal comes with a big reward, and Space Cabby decides he’s going to track down the crook and get that cash!
So he–yow! There’s that clicking again! It seems that our favorite cabbie wasn’t looking at what he was doing and he’s veered too close to the sun! Yipe! He steers back into the colder space lanes and checks his passenger log for the day to see who might have left the package. He only has three fares in the book: Jik Vun (Canalside, Mars), Yursl Mxx (Saturn Hotel), and Dan Crouse (Khip Vool). I guess the fare to Mercury that he dropped off at the beginning of the story, the last one in the cab and therefore the most likely suspect, isn’t in the book because…hey, maybe I’ll just move along.
Jik Vun turns out to be a dead end:
Yursl Mxx also doesn’t respond to Space Cabby’s snapping box (and on the way there’s a close shave with a red hot comet that starts the package clicking again), but as he gets ready to head for Khip Vool, someone gets in his cab wanting to go there! What luck! Except oh no, it’s this guy!
If you think SC won’t think of a way to keep the parcel cool with that dude in the cab, you haven’t been paying attention! He uses his emergency grappling hook to grab an ice-covered meteor and hold it under the cab until they get to the famed ice world of Khip Vool. Space Cabby, unfortunately, parks in the one place on the whole ice planet that can threaten him — next to a hot geyser! Meanwhile, Julius Schwartz falls asleep at the editing desk and for two panels Space Cabby forgets that (a) he wanted to go to Khip Vool and (b) he was already there.
Julie wakes up and we go visit the final passenger, Dan Crouse — an Earthman living on the ice world. Not only does he recognize the package, he’s thrilled to see it! Space Cabby starts going off on the guy when suddenly the package begins clicking loudly again. Dan tells SC to open it up and behold:
Dan Crouse collects exotic pets! And this one, Klikky, is a critter that sleeps when it’s cool, but wakes up when it gets hot and starts clicking for some food! It turns out the box actually said “DAN CROUSE — KHIP VOOL”. Are you kicking yourself for missing the approximately OVER NINE THOUSAND clues that were dropped?
But what about the space-dragnet? Well it turns out that this was a radio drama Space Cabby only heard a brief portion of. (He wasn’t the only one, and Space Orson Welles got a lot of phone calls that night.) “Ohhh! Is my face Mars!” Space Cabby says.
It wasn’t all for naught, though, because Dan gives SC a reward for returning Klikky! Our hero loves a resolution that involves some cash in his hand.
Later, in the epilogue, a fare hops in the space cab and, along with it, an ominous clicking sound. What can it be, but…
Haha! Oh, those crazy robots and their noisy atomic hearts!
Next week: Space-Flight to Danger!
“Interplanetary Parcel of Peril!”
Mystery in Space #27 (August-September 1955)
Writer: Otto Binder
Penciler: Gil Kane
Inker: Joe Giella
Editor: Julius Schwartz
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