Ever found yourself annoyed by someone who just couldn’t take a hint? That’s the situation some crooks find themselves in for this story!
You know, the life of a Space Cabby isn’t all space-sunshine and space-lollipops. It seems that our hero is having trouble with his space cab. The metal case for his atomic battery has been “riddled with holes from cosmic rays” and needs replacing.
The shop keeper starts acting squirrelly and tries to tell Space Cabby that the battery he’s picked out isn’t for sale, but SC will have none of it! He knows the guy’s trying to jack him out of a bargain! He tosses twelve credits to the guy and takes off to go install his new atomic battery.
No sooner is he out in the vastness of space, though, when, improbably, he gets sideswiped by another vehicle. And not only that, the other space-car has its license painted over. Could one vehicle, with millions of miles to operate within, have run into another vehicle…on purpose?
He parks on a “wayside meteor” to fix up the resulting dent with his atomic torch, and in a matter of seconds a representative from the “Speedy Space-Towing Service” lands and offers to help him out. But this guy’s not counting on our protagonist’s thriftiness!
As the frustrated repair guy walks away he mutters, “Boss…angry…told me not to fail!”. Space Cabby makes a Perception roll of 7 against a DC of 5 and starts to suspect that maybe something fishy is going on here.
He’s a working stiff, though, and doesn’t have time for the heavy brainwork he needs to suss this one out. Instead he picks up a fare and heads for Jupiter, by way of the greatest thing in this entire story:
The Asteroid Throughway! You’re being kicked in the shins with genius, my friend.
Space Cabby’s trials aren’t over yet! Within moments a vehicle with a red flashing light is signaling him to pull over. “But officer,” he pleads, “I was only doing 58 miles per second and the throughway speed limit is 60!” The driver of the other vehicle has good news: he’s not a cop, he’s informing Space Cabby that the space cab is the millionth vehicle to use the Asteroid Throughway and therefore he’s won a hundred credits! The bad news? The fare in the cab is a doctor who must perform a vital operation on Jupiter in an hour! There’s no time for SC to claim his prize! Space Cabby zooms on, but “overhears” the prize offerer saying, “He didn’t fall for it! But we’ll get him yet!” Sure enough, this gets him suspicious!
That night, El Cheapo, too tight to pay for a space hotel, sets up his inflatable tent on an asteroid and prepares to catch some Zs. But something’s bothering him.
Hearing a noise outside, he rushes out of the tent to discover some ne’er-do-well has jimmied open the hood of the cab and is digging into it! Space Cabby, determined to get to the bottom of this, jumps at the guy and they tussle, but during the melee, calamity strikes!
He checks out his cab to see what these guys could possibly be after, but comes up with nothing. The next day, out by Saturn, he gets pulled over again by a guy saying that the new Saturn law requires a special vehicle inspection. Space Cabby, who didn’t just fall off a space-turnip truck, knows this is bogus because:
He read about it in the Space Times! He lets the guy rummage around under the hood anyway, and, as you probably guessed a few pages ago, the crook makes off with SC’s new atomic battery case! Lest you think our hero isn’t too bright, he then reveals two angles to his plan. First, he parked near a hydrant (reserved for “atomic fires”), which summoned the cops. Then, he tells them what’s up and points out that he let some “atomic oil” drip out of the cab, so all they have to do is follow the glowing footprints to wherever the thief went!
When they do, guess who the ringleader of this bunch is! Go one, you’ll never– oh. Yeah, it was the battery salesman. And why?
The space parts store was just a front, see? And SC happened to grab the ONE battery case that would cause him all this grief! But all’s well that ends well, and although the cops take the case as evidence, he also gets a thousand-credit check for capturing them! He’ll be sleeping in only the finest inflatable tent tonight!
Next week: The Robot Without a World!
“Space-Flight to Danger!”
Mystery in Space #28 (October-November 1955)
Writer: Otto Binder
Penciler: Gil Kane
Inker: Bernard Sachs
Editor: Julius Schwartz
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