Atom town book 2 hands.., p.1
Atom Town Book 2: Hands of the Swamp!, p.1Jason Scott Nebel / Humor
OTHER BOOKS BY JASON SCOTT NEBEL
Book 1: IT CAME FROM 1958!
Book 2: THE HANDS OF THE SWAMP!
Book 3: SHREWANTULAS!
Book 4: EYE OF THE GOPHER PEOPLE!
THE HANDS OF THE SWAMP!
By Jason Scott Nebel
ATOM TOWN BOOKS
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Atom Town text and illustrations copyright c. 2015-2016 Atom Town Books.
Book Design, Chapter Headings and Cover Design by Jason Scott Nebel.
Published in 2016 by Atom Town Books.
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or any means, mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without written permission from the publisher.
Atom Town Books
For my Wife, Calli.
Showing me how to
Fend off Monsters with
Strength and Humor for
Almost 20 Years.
Table of Contents
2: Teacher’s Pest
4: Harmed Guards
5: Gating There is Half the Fun
6: Generally Disturbed
7: Tipping the Scales
8: A Living Room
9: Biting Farewell
10: Compact Car
11: Fare Play
12: Not Always What They Pier
13: Exhibiting Fear
14: Mounting an Attack
15: Dock, Doc, Goose
16: Up a Croc Without a Paddle
17: Tree Wishes
18: Water Epilogued
19: Pinned Down
20: Armed Assault
21: Bowl of Death
22: Hand to Hand to Hand Combat
23: Hand in a Can
Project Atom Town
A square of white exploded in the darkness. Sound and images whirred and rattled as worn and deteriorating stock footage adjusted on its film sprockets. Crocodiles began gnashing at each other on screen, battling over who had the most frightening dental work this side of the swamp.
"The crocodile!" shouted an unseen narrator. "A creature that predates man by billions of years, but is this prehistoric hand-me-down a menace, a monster, or a miracle of the modern age?!"
The images shifted to crisper footage of an office space where Doctor Adam Townsend was sitting on his desk and talking inaudibly to a baby crocodile. He paused, waiting for a response, seemingly oblivious to the fact that crocodiles don’t typically speak “Human”.
"Oh, hello. I'm Doctor Adam Townsend of Atom Labs," began Adam, presenting the baby animal for the camera. "This is Melvin, our long lost brother from a bygone age. Yes long before we crawled out of the oceans and went our separate ways, we too possessed the crocodile’s regenerative powers. Cut off their tail, it grows back, their limbs, likewise. The head…” Adam paused, reflecting on some disturbing personal experience. "Not so much. Trust me, not pretty."
A junior lab assistant in overalls and goggles stepped in, taking the reptile back to its cage.
“Thanks, Jimmy,” said Adam with a nod and a smile. He turned back to the audience and continued, the excitement raising in the power of his voice.
"Now if we could unlock this power, harness it, we could cure the common cold, eliminate cancer, and yes, even regenerate missing limbs! But how?"
Adam reached into a lead box on his desk and pulled out a glowing test tube.
"With this. An isotope!" smiled Adam holding the glowing tube up to his eyes, admiring its fluorescence.
"Gee whizz, Doctor Adam, aren't isotopes radioactive?" asked the lad, noticing the test tube sizzling into the Doctor's bare finger tips.
"Relax, Jimmy. That's why I wear this lab coat!" Adam assured him.
"Now, although this little fellow is red in coloring, it is not cherry flavored," said Adam, placing the isotope an arm's length away From the boy. "In fact, it’s quite horrid,” he further explained, licking the inside of his mouth and grimacing. “Almost as bad as broccoli,” he said, returning the tube to its box.
A lab assistant approached Adam and faced the camera. His left hand held a tray of syringes. His right hand held nothing, as it was completely gone. The rest of his right arm and sleeve had apparently joined the hand, wherever it had run off to, as they were gone as well.
"Thanks Steve!" said the Doctor to the assistant. Adam pulled a syringe from the offered tray and immediately shoved the needle into the assistant’s arm.
"Do you know what was in that needle, Jimmy?" asked Adam.
"Gosh no, Doctor Adam," said the boy as both looked at the syringe.
Adam’s brow furrowed, "Neither do I."
Adam switched to a different syringe on the tray.
"But this, this is Serum CX-17! Why, by pairing Melvin's DNA with atomic power, we may well be able to regrow an entire human arm!"
Adam, Jimmy and even Steve turned their attention to Steve's missing limb.
Suddenly Steve's good arm dropped from his body, sending the tray and his hand crashing to the floor below.
"Well, we still have a few bugs to work out," sighed the Doctor.
As he gave Steve a solid, Better-luck-next-time pat on the back, Steve's head rolled backwards and dropped to the floor with a loud THUD!
Jimmy took a step back as the head rolled his way, while Adam simply smiled back at the camera.
"But that's what these experiments are for! I'm Doctor Adam Townsend, and you're welcome!"
The screen went black. A couple of small hands began clapping together.
"No," instructed a woman's voice.
Fluorescent lights flickered to life, revealing Eve Adams at the switch. She was more than just a teacher not to be trifled with, she was a super, secret spy. A spy who was sent back in time to unravel the mystery of Atom Town, an anomaly in the desert, where everyone was stuck in the atomic age.
The year was 1958… Again. The faint chalk stains on the board at the front of the class indicated the year had been rewritten over and over again for close to a decade.
Eve felt like a prisoner, trapped in a town and a mission she wasn’t fond of. She would long for her previous life, but the agency had wiped her clean of any memories. It was supposed to give her singular focus for the mission, but all she could focus on was her cell of a classroom. Looking at the students in their wooden desks, it seemed she wasn’t the only one who was feeling imprisoned.
The film in the projector ran out, spinning and smacking its celluloid tail against the empty metal reel.
"This is what they have you watch for science?" she asked the class.
"Every Tuesday," beamed a young boy in overalls. He nodded to another boy who had been fidgeting with the leather fringe of his Roy Rogers-styled western coat.
The flapping film began to get on Eve's nerves, and with a sigh of disgust, she snapped the film reel off of the projector and dropped it in the garbage.
"Not anymore," she said, dusting her hands off for emphasis.
The boy in overalls gasped.
Eve paused, realizing the boy was the same as the younger version in the film. It was Jimmy.
"Gosh Miss Adams, now what'll we learn?" Said Jimmy, scratching the back of his neck.
"It's okay, kids!" shouted a voice from the hall. As he entered, the kids announced what Eve was already dreading.
"Doctor Adam!" they shouted.
Doctor Adam Townsend entered in his white lab coat, arms raised in the air, welcoming the children’s praise.
The Doctor shot Eve an 'Aren't you glad to see me?' smile.
Eve squinted hard, shooting him an ‘I wish I had a shovel to smack that smile with!’ glare.
"Miss me?" he asked Eve. But he didn't wait for the response that he was already presuming was a 'yes' and turned to Jimmy.
"Jimbo!" he smiled.
"Gosh, Doctor Adam," began Jimmy. "Miss Adams threw our science lesson in the trash!"
"No worries Jimmy," smiled Adam, pulling a metal film can from inside his lab coat. "I always carry a spare. Even brought next week's!" he said, pulling out a second metal circle.
A flashing light inside Eve's purse caught her attention. She quickly snatched the purse from under her chair to conceal the light and held it close.
"Adam, since you've already ruined science," said Eve, nodding to the film cans, "Why don't you go ahead and ruin math for them as well?"
"No problem," smiled Adam as he turned to the class. "Alright. Today's topic… Nines. I hate 'em. If we were meant to multiply by nines we wouldn't have been given ten fingers, am I right?"
Eve pretended not to hear and closed the door to the classroom.
As she stepped out into the hall. She backed against the wall of coat hooks and opened up her purse. She pulled out a makeup compact. A tiny white light was flashing from a clear glass gem on the back, and as she extended an antennae from the hinge, the mirror ignited with the image of a hard-faced, old man in black sunglasses. This was D, her boss. The man who sent her into Atom Town.
"Tell me you have something for me to investigate," said Eve, itching to have a reason to get out of the school and away from Doctor Adam Townsend.
“Ah, yes, Eve,” said D. “Desperately need you to look at something…"
"Oh good. A mission," smiled Eve.
"No, this…" said D, and he presented a painting with uneven brush lines and a pair of oblong shapes.
"Is that a fruit bowl?" asked Eve, trying to make sense of the jumbled shapes.
"No, it's Simmons," explained D.
"Right. Looks great. You have something for me or not?" begged Eve, hoping to get to the point as quickly as possible.
"Don't I always?"
"No," countered Eve.
"Simmons?" ordered D.
A small, withered man in a suit and thick, coke bottle glasses wheeled a large chalkboard into the room behind Agent D. Numbers and letters covered most of the board, but one corner had been erased poorly, leaving the blur of a long white chalk swipe.
"I need you to find me the rest of this equation,” explained D. “It's for a formula the Doctor was working on. CX-18. We believe it will look something like this…”
D held up a scribble of a stick figure with the artistic prowess of a dead rat. Nine fingers protruded from one hand, 2 more from a foot.
“You sure that’s accurate?” asked Eve, shaking her head that this was the man she sadly reported to.
“Why?” D asked, confused why his perfect drawing would be questioned. “You think I was too liberal with the fingers?”
“No, it’s great,” she lied. “So how exactly am I supposed to find that? He's not going to just walk up and hand me a formula."
Adam knocked on the narrow window in the classroom door behind her. As Eve turned, Adam smacked a chemical equation scribbled on a napkin up on the glass.
"Look what I made!" he smiled.
Eve looked over the formula on the napkin in front of her. She quickly slapped her compact shut and slid it back into her purse. Would it really be this simple?
She swung open the heavy door and dragged Adam into the hall, for the first time noticing the cast on his right arm that was protruding from under his sleeve. She closed the door behind them then pointed to his arm.
"What’s with the cast?"
"Oh yeah. I was injured, Eve," said Adam.
"Injured? Adam, your arm was completely gone!" Eve was right. The last time she’d seen Adam in person, his arm had been partially disintegrated, burned, crushed, moved of its own volition, then had been kicked into the desert.
"Don’t remind me Eve, the pain of that memory is more than I can bear!" Adam stared off into the middle distance.
"Good, I was afraid you were going to reminisce" said Eve, trying get a good look at the formula on the crumpled paper as he stuck it back in his pocket.
"Reminisce? About that fateful day? The first day I met you, and the day I lost my arm?" clarified Adam, seemingly rhetorical. He stopped and turned to Eve. "We are talking about that same day, right?" he asked, apparently no longer rhetorically.
"Yes" gritted Eve.
"I do indeed remember that day!" Adam stared off into the distance, his consciousness drifting off into the fluorescent track lighting of the long hallway.
The bulb above them flickered off.
Eve looked to the ceiling then back at Adam who remained motionless. Apparently his bulb had flickered off as well.
"Shh," hushed Adam. "I’m having a flashback."
"Great. Where are you?"
"Thursday," he said, still staring at the air as if his memories were being projected into the hall.
"It’s Tuesday," corrected Eve.
"Oh no, still in flashback mode! Eve help me!" exclaimed Adam, reaching out for her blindly.
Eve’s hand slapped hard across his face!
"How's that?" she asked.
"No Good… Stuck on Saturday!" cried Adam in a panicked tone.
This time, Eve punched him hard across the jaw. Adam shook off the blow and smiled.
"Oh, hi, Eve! When did you get here?" Adam clutched his temples then pointed to Eve’s left. "Why are there two of you? And who’s going to answer that phone?"
Clearly the only bell was inside Adam's head.
"Adam, I’m over here," said Eve, turning his face to see her.
"Right. You, come with me," said Adam, grabbing her hand, "And you, answer that phone," Adam instructed to Eve’s imaginary double.
"Can you please focus for a moment?" begged Eve, pulling her hand away.
"Sorry, Eve. You have my full, undivided attention"
With a loud THUD, Adam’s arm, cast and all, dropped off and fell to the ground.
"Well, maybe a little divided," admitted Adam.
Eve watched as Adam’s foot nudged the plaster encased arm on the ground.
"I thought you said you were almost healed?" she asked.
"Well, healing is a work in progress. A work I want to show you,” continued Adam, leaning closer. “Come with me, Eve, and by this afternoon, I will have a fully regenerated human arm! Can you imagine it?"
"No" said Eve.
"I can…" said Adam, losing himself somewhere in the distance again.
"Busy… Imagining," explained Adam. "Join me!"
"No," refused Eve.
"No Problem, I can sit here and imagine for the both of us. Hurts a little, but I’ll manage. All day if I have to."
Eve stared at Adam as he stared back into space, and then chuckled to himself at some imaginary event. She considered leaving him there. Then she considered using Adam's head for a door jam, perhaps a few seconds longer than anyone rightfully should consider using another person's head to wedge open a door.
She rolled her eyes and decided to change the subject to something useful.
"So is that what's on the paper?” asked Eve. “The formula for regenerating a human arm?" She hoped it was CX-18 and she could simply lift it from his pocket and call it a day.
This?" said Adam pulling out the crumpled piece of paper again. "This was just CX-17," he explained.
"No the real magic is in CX-18. I've got it back at the lab if you…" He paused, extending his hand. A smirk began to form as Adam sensed Eve's intrigue.
"Fine. Let's go," said Eve.
Adam immediately leaned back into the classroom.
"Field Trip!" he screamed.
All of the fourth graders screamed with joy!
Eve stepped in to squash it.
"No," she said, watching their little grins sink sullenly back into their seats. "Jimmy, start them off on lesson twelve. I'll send Mrs. Johnson in."
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