Page:Weird Tales volume 28 number 02.djvu/44
MASK OF DEATH
Once more his deadly enemy had got away from him. He had failed.
Beatrice shook her head.
"Don't look like that. The fact that you're here alive is a miracle that makes up for his escape. If you could have seen yourself, and that girl, when the police brought you back from Chichester's house! As soon as they set you down in the doctor's rooms, you and the girl came together. You fought again for her purse, as you say you started to do in Chichester's house ten hours ago. But you moved with such horrible slowness! It was like watching a slow-motion picture. It took you hours to raise your arm, hours to take the purse from her hand. And your expression changed with equal slowness.... I can't tell you how dreadful it was!"
"All due, as I said, to this," Keane sighed.
He stared at the little metal cage he had taken from the purse.
"The latest product of Doctor Satan's warped genius. A time-diverter, I suppose you might call it."
"I didn't understand your explanation in Grays' rooms, after you'd brought those people out of their dreadful coma," said Beatrice.
"I'll try again."
Keane held up the geometric figure.
"Time has been likened to a river. We don't know precisely what it is, but it seems that the river simile must be apt. Very well, we and all around us float on this river at the same speed. If there were different currents in the same river, we might have the spectacle of seeing those nearby move with lightning rapidity or with snail-like slowness as their time-environment differed from ours. Normally there is no such difference, but with this fantastic thing Doctor Satan has succeeded in producing them artificially.
"He has succeeded in working out several sets of angles which, when opposed against each other as this geometric figure opposes them, can either speed up or slow down the time-stream of whatever it is pointed at. The final angle is formed by this movable bar in its relation to the whole. By its manipulation, time can be indefinitely retarded or hastened. He utilized the bizarre creation in this way:
"In New York he contacted a quite innocent party by the name of Sylvia Crane. He hypnotized her, and forced his spirit into her body while hers was held in abeyance. Then 'Madame Sin' registered here. She made acquaintance with Weems. On the roof garden, she pointed the infernal figure at him, with the little bar turned to retard time. The result was that Weems suddenly lived and moved at immensely retarded speed. It took about twenty-four hours for his arm to raise the champagne glass to his lips, though he thought it took a second. Our actions were so swift by comparison that they didn't register on his consciousness at all. He confessed after I'd brought him out of his odd time-state with the device, that he seemed to raise his glass while in the roof garden, and start to lower it when he found himself abruptly in Doctor Grays' bedroom. He didn't know how he got there or anything else. It was the same with the nine in the roulette room. They came back to normal speed only a second or two after being retarded in the roulette room. But it was hours to us, and meanwhile they seemed absolutely motionless."
"How on earth did you ever get a hint of such a thing as this?" said Beatrice."Weems' watch gave a pointer. It was all right, the jeweler said, but it wouldn't run. Well, it did run—but at a speed so slow that it could not be recorded. The roulette wheel was another. The ivory