Believe it or not, there are days when Space Cabby doesn’t get mixed up with interplanetary crooks.
This is not one of those days. The crook’s plan is simple: Space Cabby will fly him out past Pluto, where Ippy (the Interplanetary Police) have no jurisdiction, and then the cab will continue on to Alpha Centauri…without the cab driver. Gulp!
Space Cabby too has a simple plan:
As he approaches the magnetic meteor, he exceeds the speed limit (“1000 miles a second”, as displayed on a nearby space-buoy) without having to gun his engine. And sure enough an Ippy ship shows up. But oh no! The Ippy blasts the meteor into pieces instead! Ippy, that’s a job for the Meteor Sweepers! (Though to be fair, they’re probably busy walking into doorframes elsewhere.)
Not to worry, though. Travel through the immense void of space is absurdly regulated in Space Cabby’s world, and before long another opportunity to attract the cosmic po-po comes along!
Surely the trigger-happy thief in the back seat won’t notice when the cab causes untold damage to property and lives with this wildly reckless maneuver! Unfortunately, just as Space Cabby prepares to endanger lives in a vain attempt to save his own…ding! It’s switch-over time, and the tunnel reverses which way is permitted! The fellows in the monitor booth happily wave him through!
Maybe the problem is that Space Cabby’s being too subtle. Would an unthinkable horrific loss of life in the space tunnel have attracted enough attention? It’s time to get a little more obvious in looking like he’s breaking the law. It’s time to hit
Now you’re talking! First they’re gonna try to warn him, but his radio’s turned off. Then come the shots from the guys in the towers with assault ray-beams as heavily armored attack ships fly to intercept the cab. The explosions, the screaming klaxons, the roaring engines, it’s all too much for the crook, who is overwhelmed! Can Space Cabby keep his cool under this pressure as–
Oh, it’s closed. Never mind.
You don’t think of interplanetary space as something you can run out of, but that’s exactly what’s happening to Space Cabby now. He’s just about at the limit of Pluto’s orbit, and thus the reach of the long arm of the law. If he’s going to get out of this, he’s going to have to think fast.
Luckily, his space cab is a rattling heap with all sorts of things wrong with it, and at this point SC remembers that his fuel gauge isn’t correct, showing him to be lower on atomic gas (gas that features atoms) than he really is. The crook allows him to stop at a filling station, but warns him not to try to tip off the attendant. Our hero has no plans to tip the attendant…or even pay him! He’s going to pump and run! Except…
When they’re back in space the criminal looks at the speedometer (I think he means “odometer”) and sees that they’re now at 3.6 billion miles, past Pluto and safe from Ippy. It’s time for Space Cabby to walk the proverbial plank!
As a last request he asks to at least see the loot, and the bad guy produces from a box “the biggest diamond ever found!” He plans to cut it into smaller gems and make a fortune. But first there’s this little matter of…throwing away the box. Yes, the crook asks Space Cabby to get rid of the box and our hero dumps it out into space through a chute used to drop off and receive packages.
WEEEE-OOOOO!!! WEEEE-OOOOO!!! What’s that?
A police cruiser comes out of freakin’ nowhere to grab the cab and put an end to this lawlessness. We take littering seriously in this solar system, Space Cabby. Very seriously. And breaking space law “Z-14, code X-9” is going to bring the full force of the law onto your head.
“I know my rights!” shouts the space crook. “You Ippy creeps can’t touch me, since we’re outside the solar system!” But Space Cabby drops a bomb on him: the speedometer (I think he means “odometer”) is broken as well, registering more miles than it should! They’re still well within Pluto’s orbit!
As they haul the villain to the space pokey, Ippy assures SC that they’re not going to ticket him for littering. However, he’s not getting off easily:
Boy, he’s really regretting that roasted space parrot meal now!
Next week: Trail of the Glowing Atoms!
“One-Way Ride to Eternity!”
Mystery in Space #37 (April-May 1957)
Writer: Otto Binder
Penciler: Gil Kane
Inker: Bernard Sachs
Editor: Julius Schwartz
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