Chapter Five: Lester Dent

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Chapter Five

Lester Dent…

(Derek’s Note: Lester Dent (October 12, 1904 – March 11, 1959) was an American pulp-fiction author, best known as the creator and main author of the series of novels about the scientist and adventurer Doc Savage. The 159 novels written over 16 years were credited to the house name Kenneth Robeson.)

Lester Dent – author of the famous pulp-fiction series Doc Savage – finished describing his famous character for his next installment in the series – The Submarine Mystery – and leaned back in his chair. “Good old Doc!” Lester thought. “But, I think you need to change. Just like I am growing old, my old friend. It’s time for you to grow older also. No longer will you be completely infallible. You need to become more human, same weaknesses, same propensities.” Lester leaned forward and reached out to the page with Doc’s description; …giant of a man. Trained from birth to be an expert in multiple disciplines. Deductive reasoning of his mind trained to a razor’s edge, body trained beyond Olympic standards. His bronze skin stretched over perfectly proportionate muscles, Doc stands closer to seven foot than six. Close napped hair a shade darker bronze than the skin framing golden flake eyes. An imposing awe inspiring giant of a man…

Lester began to pull the page from the typewriter. But, as his fingers touched the page the words began to vibrate and bounce upon the paper, bulging on the page pushing themselves off of the paper. With a definite popping sound they jumped into the air and ignited. Slowly the words began to swirl before Lester’s eyes, gradually picking up speed and scrambling themselves until the only thing visible to Lester was a miniature fiery multi-colored tornado. As the tornado began to pick up speed Lester stepped back in amazement not sure of what to do next. And, as the last syllable of his question disappeared from his mind, the tornado began to advance towards the bookshelf. Eventually, the tornado stopped before the bookshelf causing the books and knick-knacks to rattle and jump where they had been carefully placed by Lester’s wife Norma.

Lester stepped closer to the tornado to get a better view of what it was doing, and realized that the tornado was whistling. But, not just whistling, it sounded like Doc’s trademark trilling sound. Lester watched as the tornado began to pull books from the shelf and opening each one the words were “peeled” from the pages. Faster and faster the books began to fly from the shelf until volume after volume were suspended in the air while their words were stripped from the pages.

“Norma!” Lester called somewhat weakly. “Norma, come here please! I need you to see this! Please hurry!”

Lester could hear Norma walking quickly down the hall as one final book came off of the shelf, and he realized which books the tornado was pulling from the shelves. These were all the Doc Savage novels – his first editions – Lester could see that the words were gone. Each book was now empty! Every printed word of every first edition of his novels had been consumed and now were spinning in the ever expanding kaleidescope of a tornado right before his eyes.

Norma came around the corner from the kitchen almost at a run and almost ran right into the tornado, which startled her so much that she screamed at the top of her lungs and slipped on the throw rug in front of the book shelf. This caused the tornado to disappear, and sparked action on Lester’s part to keep his wife from falling on her derriere.

Lester dragged a struggling wife over to his typing chair, set her securely upon it, and turned to look at the heap of blank books on the floor before the shelf. A sense of incredulity set itself upon Lester and he whispered to himself. “My Books…”

 

 

 

Bass Reeves

Bass Reeves

Portrait of U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves | Courtesy of the National Park Service at Fort Smith

(Derek’s Note: Bass Reeves, U.S. Deputy Marshal


“Maybe the law ain’t perfect, but it’s the only one we got, and without it we got nuthin” – Bass Reeves


Born to slave parents in 1838 in Crawford County, Arkansas, Bass Reeves would become the first black U.S. Deputy Marshal west of the Mississippi River and one of the greatest frontier heroes in our nation’s history.)

 

Chapter Four

Bass Reeves

The Saloon door opened out stepped Cole Younger, Jesse James, and Belle Starr. Late Summer Sunday afternoon in Okmulgee Indian Territory cast a drowsy spell over the three after a successful day of gambling and drinking. The sun setting to the west burned through the dust raised by wagons leaving town. The dusty orange light casting long shadows across the doorways of the shops on Moore street. The young messenger boy skipped ahead to the west on Moore street. They shuffled along the sidewalk following the boy, sent to collect the three, towards the stables where their horses were being tended to. Supposedly, one of their horses had come up lame and the livery hand wanted to discuss what could be done for the horse.

Cole turned to Belle…who had his arm, “This is probably just an excuse to sell me a new one Belle. Most likely he had us marked as big spenders and this is just an excuse to make his pitch and sell off one of the nags left behind by someone unable to pay their bill.”

“Just keep this short Cole. I think Belle and I would like to get to dinner sooner rather than later.” Jesse complained.

Belle glanced back at Jesse, who was walking behind the pair and smiled. “I’m hungry too Cole. Just buy the horse so we can go eat.”

Cole looked back at Jesse. “Who says it’s my horse, friend?” Motioning towards the rapidly disappearing messenger boy. “That squirt didn’t say whose horse was lame. And, since you weigh more than I do, it’s probably your’s! And, if that’s the case, Jesse, you can pay for your own dang horse!”

The walk from the saloon to J.W. Griffin’s establishment took only a few minutes. Jesse walked through the doors of the stable and stood for a moment to allow his eyes to adjust to the gloom inside the building. As Cole and Belle followed through the door, the hairs on Jesse’s neck rose. “Somethings not right here…” Jesse thought as a stable hand stepped around the edge of one of the stalls and approached. Jesse glanced at Cole and noticed the look of concern on his friends face. The stable hand was tall and lanky. His shoulders formed a triangular block with the man’s hips, and as he stepped closer Jesse saw that the man was black. And, although his hat obscured the top part of his face Jesse instinctually understood the man he was facing was the legendary lawman Bass Reeves, and he was reaching for his Colt Peacemakers.

Jesse, Cole, and Belle began to draw their own pistols when the big lawman disappeared in a blink.

Bass Reeves, drew his Colt Peacemakers. Finally, months of preparation had come to fruition. The famous outlaws Jesse James and Cole Younger, and accompanying Younger was the cherry on top, Belle Star. Reeves was famous for the speed of his draw. Many times evil-doers had gotten the drop on him, only to find that was their last action on Earth. As the guns left their holsters the gloom of the stables disappeared and Bass found himself standing at the end of a busy city street in the bright sunlight.

Bass slowly took a deep breath. He was standing in the middle of an empty cobbled street bordered on both sides by shops and houses all attached to each other in a neat row. In front of the shops stood tall elm trees that filtered a warm but comfortable sunlight. Turning around Bass could see a large town down the road comfortably nestled by trees and ancient landscaping. Not a speck of dust anywhere to be seen.

Bass turned to look the other direction and came face to face with an automobile carrying two white males in the front and two young women; one perhaps a child, in the back. Their mouths open aghast at the giant black man holding two deadly looking Colt Peacemakers in the middle of the Oxford Street.

“Hells Bell’s good Lord Jesus! Something tells me I ain’t in Okmulgee anymore!” Bass exclaimed as he holstered his pistols.

 

 

 

 

Intrepid & Lieutenant Carter

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1937 Austin 10 Cambridge. Photo: Courtesy David Marsh, Victoria, Australia (Dave’s Austin 10 Web Site)

(Derek’s Note: William Stephenson was Winston Churchill’s choice to head up his global intelligence gathering operations. He was also the one that recommended William “Wild Bill” Donovan to head the OSS during WW II. He will be Knighted during the war for his efforts. His code name was Intrepid. He is also attributed as being the man Ian Fleming modeled 007 after. Margaret Peggy Carter is better known these days as “Agent Peggy Carter” Captain America’s sweetheart. Margaret Carter started out in the British Army assigned to Bletchley Park and eventually went to Special Operations Executive and thence to MI6. Here she is in transition between Bletchley and SOE and functioning as William Stephenson’s Adjutant.)

 

Chapter three

Intrepid and Lieutenant Carter

Between the families working knowledge of French and Joan’s ancient English dialect, dinner went reasonably well. Janie and Maureen set to making the Maid comfortable. But, bedtime came late into the night as Joan, Jack, Janie, and Maureen sat up listening to the story of how Joan came to be there. The initial shock of being transported to the future seemed to only momentarily disorient the teenager. Which to Jack seemed reasonable considering the things the young lady had gone through already in life. Here was a woman whom God had chosen to lead an army at the age of seventeen who no one would have ever imagined would do so.

“Typical teenager!” Jack thought to himself as he started down the hall to his room. “She no more looks to lead an army than I do! Tomorrow we will head to the college to see what this is all about. But, for now, I need some sleep…”

As the word sleep died in the consciousness, lights from a car swept across the drawn curtains in the unmistakable indication of a car parking in front of the house.

Jack shuffled to the study window and pulled the curtains aside to see who had arrived on his doorstep at 1:30 AM. As there was a full moon above, Jackie saw a woman dressed as a Second Lieutenant in the Army, followed closely behind by a distinguished looking gentleman wearing the kind of wool suit that would cost Jack a year’s wages on fleet street. “They must be lost…” He thought as he turned to greet the couple at the door.

“Hello, might I be of help? You must be desperately lost to be driving around at this time of the night.” Jack half asked and observed.

The young lady stepped up into the light that streamed from the front door and looked Jack in the eyes. “Yes, Mr. Lewis, you can be of immense help. Through some very extraordinary circumstances, we have been led to your doorstep.” The woman turned to allow the gentleman to step into the light. “My name is Margaret Carter, and this gentleman is William Stephenson special envoy to Winston Churchill. May we come in. I am afraid the circumstances require a level of urgency that has resulted in this unfortunate timing.”

Jack stepped aside and mumbled a quick, “Of course…” Jack led the pair into the study as Maureen appeared at the study door and offered them tea. Thoughts of why a member of Churchill’s inner circle would be in his study raising as much alarm in his mind as having a young Joan of Arc sleeping in the guest room. “Things are decidedly becoming more confusing, and less to my liking”, he thought as William Stephenson took his great coat off and settled into the overstuffed chair.

“Thank you, but as much as I would love to have tea, Mrs. Lewis, I am afraid I must decline, thank you though. Mr. Lewis, let me get right to the point of our being in your home at such a late hour. Late last night Mr. Churchill and I were in his quarters at Whitehall discussing…well…discussing important matters. We were in the process of sending Miss Carter here to the signals people with a package when the three of us had a very abrupt visitor…”

Jack smiled and interrupted, “Ah, Fred! That makes me happy that I have shared that unique opportunity with someone else. Especially, two gentlemen, and the lady, of such eminent reputations.”

“Yes, well…Fred…as he so effusively elaborated. Let us know that we had just become players in a situation where you, Mr. Lewis have been designated as the leader. Now you should understand. Both Winston and I are fans of your writing. I am quite fond of your recent book “Out of the Silent Planet”. So we were not altogether surprised by the Angel pointing at you as having the answer. Fred, however, led us to believe that something terrible is about to happen. However, Fred did not – in his abbreviated appearance – elucidate as to that terrible something might be. So, Winston being the man of action that he is decided that I and Miss Carter should come here to attempt to gain an understanding of just what the blazes is going on?” “What the blazes”, said with the force of a man accustomed to control and finding none in the current situation.

Jack looked at both of his guests and shrugged as he answered, “I wish I knew. Fred told me that I was to write the story. He didn’t say which story.” He turned to the typewriter and picked up the book. “He gave me this book. But, the story itself seems to magically appear as the story gets written. So I am afraid that the book itself will be useless as an answer to whatever kind of future it is that Fred has drawn us into.”

Jack stepped over to Mr. Stephenson and holding the book so that Miss Carter could also see. Pointed to the Character list. “So far, Mr. Stephenson, two of the characters have arrived.” Jackie pointed to Miss Carter whose jaw was now opening wide in surprise. “You Miss Carter, and – THE Joan of Arc. And, as you can see there are other characters on the list that – if I am inferring correctly – I have to say, will be nothing short of miraculous if somehow those names become real.”

Margaret Carter gave a short but audible gasp and turned to Stephenson, “Artur!? If that is the Arthur that is intended, then that has implications for current events!”

“Indeed Margaret.” Stephenson shook his head in agreement and looked up at C.S. Lewis. “He shall return at the hour of England’s greatest need! Sounds like something from one of your novels Mr. Lewis. No doubt exactly why Fred…and by extension…Fred’s boss chose you.”

Maureen – who had been standing quietly in the door – said, “We have an extra room for Miss Carter, Mr. Stephenson. If you don’t mind the couch…

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two: The Story Writes Itself…

Empty Pages of a book

(Derek’s Notes: This is the second chapter of The Lewis List. The characters begin to arrive.)

 

Chapter Two

The Story Writes Itself

Days passed and the book sat next to C.S. Lewis’s bed…undisturbed and actively ignored. Until one day returning from classes at Magdalen College. Lewis, on his way to change out of his formal clothes, noticed the book was balanced on top of the typewriter in the drawing room, and instead of continuing the path to the bedroom turned into the drawing room and picked the book up. It fell open to the front page and now had writing on the first few pages. The front page exhibited the bold words; TITLE! The next page – in the same font and bolding – CHARACTERS:.

“How do I know?” Lewis thought. But, then something seemed to impel him and he sat in the overstuffed reading chair with his pen in hand and settled the book on his lap. Sitting for a moment in the declining light of the early evening, listening to the sounds of Janie and Maureen preparing tea in the kitchen, raised his pen and then hesitated. “Title? What do I call a book I have no idea how to write? This is so preposterous in so many different ways God.” Jack turned the page and stared at the heading CHARACTERS.

The thought came in like a shot from the enemy trenches. “The savage doctor!”

Jack put pen to the page and wrote; The Savage Doctor. “Well then, right! That sounds correct. But, who ever heard of a savage doctor?”

The second thought followed the first with the same sharp dictation of certitude. “Mr. Holmes! And, his Challenger!”

No sooner the thought echoed on its way out of recognition, the words appeared on the pages of the book. Before, even the pen could contact the paper.

Next, “Tecumseh!”, “Mr. Reeves!”, “Shieldbearer Peggy Carter”, “Maid of Orleans!”,”Artur!”.

As each thought shot through Jack’s mind the words appeared on the page until the page was full.

Quietly put the pen back into his pocket and looked out the window. “The story is writing itself,” Jack whispered into the room. “So what do you need me for God if you are going to write the story for me? Am I a first-year student in need of instruction?” Jack chuckled to himself. “Actually, I suppose from your perspective I still have quite a distance to go to achieve first-year status. Who am I to complain? Here I sit grasping a book well beyond anything I could imagine a man could produce. Watching words appear upon the page as a disembodied voice speaks to my mind. I should be amazed. Instead, I sense a very healthy spirit of skepticism, tinged with an equally insistent curiosity.”

The words still hanging on his tongue, and still gazing out the window, he watched as a huge horse appeared on the street at full gallop with a small child on its back. It was pointed towards the garden and in a bound vaulted the hedges and came to a skidding stop in the midst of the Roses.

Jack pushed himself out of the chair and ran to the door in time to see the child dismounting from the Horse. It was a magnificent black stallion covered with the slather of having been ridden extremely hard. Its eyes were wide with excitement and nervously stomped back and forth in the garden barely resisting the urge to continue its flight. The child – barely standing to the horse’s chest – grabbed the reins and was attempting to quiet its nerves. It was now obvious the child was a female and wearing leather armor of an ancient pedigree. Her hair was cut roughly in the form of an unruly child…or perhaps if she were attempting to look like a man. Which became evidently the purpose as the face of the girl…woman…was pretty and petite. But, then she turned and looked at Jack standing there in his professor’s clothes(minus the robes).

She stepped to the side of the horse still holding the reins and then produced a short sword from her belt. “Qui es-tu?” She said with the force of one accustomed to being promptly answered.

“Mon nom est Jack!” Jack reflexively retreated from the sword and the aggressive approach of the diminutive little warrior. “ The thought erupted, “The Maid!” “Es-tu celui qu’ls appellent la Pucelle d’Orleans?” Jack asked.

“Oui!” Joan of Arc answered. Then sensing no danger, but an overwhelming curiosity, she began to look about the garden. And, now at the two wide-eyed women in aprons standing in the doorway of the house. “Ou’ suis-je?” Joan whispered.