Cover design by Wesley Allison
Cover Image Copyright © Neoblues | Dreamstime.com
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For Tom Swift Jr.
In July 1971, I found a box in my grandparent’s basement. It was filled with books that had belonged to my uncle, killed in action three years before in Viet Nam. Chief among the books in that box were thirteen Tom Swift Jr. books. I read them all that summer, and ordered more in the series through the local bookstore. Tom Swift would be followed by John Carter, Tarzan of the Apes, Perry Rhodan, and many others, but Tom, Bud, Chow, and Tom Sr. will always have a special place in my heart.
Mike Smith first noticed the bright blue sign on his sixth circuit around the indoor jogging track. It was Thursday and he came every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning to jog twenty-five laps. Twenty-five laps equaled two miles. The sign was in somebody’s yard. That’s why he noticed it. It wasn’t an advertisement like the ones on businesses you could see from the other side of the track. It was bright blue and it had yellow writing and some kind of picture. The seventh lap around, he tried to make out the three large words at the top. It looked like they said “stop the perverts.” The next lap, he looked again. Now he was sure that it said “stop the perverts,” but what did it say below that? He strained his eyes but after three more laps, he couldn’t make out the smaller words below.