The invisible Man Murders
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by Richard Foster
Description: Hollywood always does things on a big scale, so when a murder was committed in the studios of Magna Pictures, it was nothing short of sensational. They were shooting the story of an invisible man. The Man From Nowhere, when the invisible man came to life, murdered Carlton Hughes. Hollywood's newest swoon man, and departed. There were a hundred witnesses yet not one of them saw the phantom make the bloody footprints across the floor of the studio. It was super-colossal and it took that colossal Tibetan detective, Chin Kwang Kham, to reduce it to simple murder and make the murderer visible to all.
eBook Publisher: Gate Way Publishers, 2011
eBookwise Release Date: April 2011
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [175 KB]
Reading time: 111-155 min.
The Man From Nowhere
A gentle breeze blew through the open window, ruffling the lace curtains and setting the leaves of a potted plant trembling. The curtains parted just enough to permit the passage of two straggling rays of sunshine across the luxurious white rug which covered the floor. The room was comfortably furnished with simple but expensive chairs, an unusually wide couch. The built-in bookcases were filled with well-worn volumes. It might have been a quiet view of a room in any expensively furnished home--but it wasn't. Instead, it was part of Stage 4 on the lot of Magna Pictures, Inc., in Hollywood, California.
The gentle breeze was caused by a large electric fan and even the sunshine was artificial. Hollywood was in the throes of a trend. Everyone was making "invisible man" and "invisible woman" pictures and Magna Pictures was contributing its bit with a picture called The Man From Nowhere.
The set was already a hive of activity, although they had not yet started turning the cameras. Electricians and costumers were rushing about. A make-up man was putting a few added touches to the face of Gloria DeVore, movieland's newest glamour girl. A script girl was checking over the script. The rest of the company, including Gregor Lopoff, the producer, was waiting for the director.
The stars were Carlton Hughes and Gloria DeVore, two of the highest paid stars in Hollywood. The director was Koutsonikolis. The costumer was Paro. In addition, Lopoff bad hired Theodor Harrin, one of America's outstanding magicians, to play the role of the magician-villain. And the script had been written by Curtiss James at fifteen hundred dollars per week. The cameraman was the great Walter Parker.
At last he arrived; a tall, gaunt man with a great shock of hair. Peter Koutsonikolis, known to all Hollywood as "The Wild Greek," was one of the best directors in the world. He admitted it himself. The fact that he was one of the best was just another Lopoff touch. Where other companies were content to make their "invisible" pictures on a small budget, Gregor Lopoff was spending a fortune on his--and would undoubtedly also make a fortune, as he usually did with his pictures.
Gregor Lopoff broke off talking to his script writer as the director stalked on the set.
"You're late," he said accusingly. "I won't have it. You've got to get here on time, even if it takes you all day."
Koutsonikolis grunted disdainfully in reply.
"Fifteen thousand dollars a minute it's costing me," Lopoff complained, "and he grunts. I should sue him for inflammation of character. He's biting the hand that picks the golden egg."
Koutsonikolis grunted again and crossed the set to glance at the script.
"Did you make that change?" he demanded of the writer.
"Yeah," Curtiss James said. Years in Hollywood had put a perpetual cynical grin on the face of the tall, lanky writer. Known as one of the big spenders of Hollywood, James seemed to spend most of his time at night clubs or gambling, yet unfailingly turned out good scripts.
The director turned to Carlton Hughes and Theodor Harrin, around whom the first scene was built.
"Have you read the changes?" he asked.
"All right, this is the way it goes," Koutsonikolis said, as though their answer had been in the negative. "Hughes, you are defying the Man From Nowhere. You are not going to pay the blackmail he demands. You grab up a gun from the bookcase and cover Harrin with it. You tell him that you are going to end his reign of crime. You are going to shoot him down as you would any mad dog.
"Harrin, you laugh at his threats. You tell him that he'll either pay or die, as the others did who resisted you. As you're talking, we'll fade you out until only a cigarette is visible. This you flip at him.
"Hughes, you're in a panic. You empty your gun, shooting wildly in the hope you'll hit him. But then you see a heavy candlestick rise from the end of the bookcase and start through the air toward you. That's the way the others were killed--with a heavy, blunt instrument. You can't see your enemy; only that candlestick floating through the air. There is a sinister laugh from the invisible figure and you hurl the gun toward it, only to see it knocked down by an invisible hand. You are frightened. You try to run, but you are trapped by the man you can't see."
"Boy, are you corny," Curtiss James said as the director stopped, apparently to catch his breath.
"You wrote the script," Koutsonikolis snapped. "Koutsonikolis can't do everything or we'd have better pictures."
"Boys, boys," Gregor Lopoff said. "No fighting, please. It's too expensive. Besides, if there's any fighting around here, I'll do it myself."
"With the Lopoff touch, no doubt," Curtiss James muttered.
Koutsonikolis shrugged his shoulders disdainfully and turned to Carlton Hughes and Theodor Harrin. "You got it now?" he asked.
They nodded again, not bothering to say that they had it before he'd started talking.
"Okay, we'll try the first take. Quiet, please."
"Quiet, please," echoed the assistant director.
The hum of conversation died out abruptly and it was quiet in the studio.
"All right," Koutsonikolis said, dropping into his chair. "Lights. Camera. Action."
Carlton Hughes and Theodor Harrin took their places on the set, the Kleig lights switched on and the cameras started grinding. Hughes was one of Hollywood's glamour boys, but he was also a good actor and all eyes were on him as he went into a realistic rage, grabbing up the prop gun from the bookcase.
Theodor Harrin reached up and plucked a burning cigarette from the air. Then he began reading his lines from a blackboard placed out of range of the cameras. Harrin was not an actor, but his performance was fair. He nipped the cigarette and crossed the room. Later, the film experts would fix it so that he faded slowly off the film and became invisible.
Carlton Hughes began firing the pistol wildly. Suddenly the look of fear on his face was replaced by one of amazement, then pain. The gun slipped from his hand and he slowly crumpled to the floor. A tiny trickle of red stained the white rug!
For a moment no one moved. This wasn't in the script! The cameras kept turning and everyone froze where he was standing. Then Gloria DeVore screamed.
"Look!" she cried. "Look! The Man From Nowhere!"
* * * *
The fascinated gaze of a score of people followed the direction of her pointing finger to the white rug that covered the floor of the set. What they saw paralyzed them with fear.
Moving away from the body, across the wide expanse of the white rug, footprints were appearing. They were dark brown in color, as though whoever was making them had stepped in the blood of the man on the floor. Steadily, the footprints advanced across the rug, one after another, staining the rug with the mark of Cain. Yet there was no one there to make them!
Cold, pure fear gripped the group of movie-makers. This was what the Man From Nowhere was supposed to be able to do. But everybody, including audiences, knew it was accomplished by Hollywood's technical wizards. There was no such thing as a real invisible man. But here was one! The script had come alive--leaving death in the wake of its bloody footprints.
Gloria DeVore was screaming again.
"Cut!" Koutsonikolis yelled, suddenly coming to life. The cameras stopped. "If this is somebody's moronic idea of a practical joke, I'll murder him!" The director glared around the set.
"Don't be a fool," snapped Curtiss James, kneeling beside the fallen body. "This man has been shot--dead!"