“The name’s Spanner, Dick Spanner – Private Investigator.
A crime wave was washing over the Big Pear, but it was leaving law-abiding citizens high and dry. The police were baffled – someone obviously thought they’d been making too much noise. I had nothing brewing except a hot cup of oil, so I decided to take the case.
There’d been some rumblings in the criminal underground that a guy by the name of Jack Hammer was at the centre of it all. The gang were supposedly working out of the old Zippo Amusement Park on the East Side of the Wrong Side. It seemed like a good place to start.
The crooked and faded letters above the entrance read ‘Zippo Amusements – We put the “fun” in Perfunctory Attraction.’
I spotted the Ghost Train and decided to start there. I’m not easily spooked and thought it could be just the thing to get me on the right track.
The first room was filled with monstrous anthropomorphic chairs – sofa, so good, no sign of trouble.
The next room had two rows of mannequins covered with sheets moving back and forth, but they didn’t stand a ghost of a chance of putting me off the case. After several more chambers of horror and a close encounter with a hydraulic press, the train finished its circuit and I was left feeling flat.
I moved away to examine the rest of the crumbling old park. There were several long-deserted balloon stands with inflated prices, a log flume that had dried up (water shame) and some bumper cars that had definitely lost their spark.
I was starting to think the only one getting any amusement out of the place was Jack Hammer. Then I saw the roller coaster. The rusty frame of the towering structure dominated the park. Maybe things were looking up?
As I took a seat in the lead car, I didn’t notice a gloved hand closing around the control lever.
“You’re in for the ride of your life, Spanner!” came a voice from somewhere behind me.
Why do people love roller coasters so much? They always build you up for a big let-down, and I could see that my odds of surviving this particular drop were plummeting by the second.
Someone had removed a section of track ahead! Ride of my life? Could be more like my last ride!
The car reached the top of the hill and nose-dived down towards the gap. Not wanting to end up as a cover story for Junkheap Monthly, I took a chance and leapt from the car.
Somehow I leapt right over the gap and landed on my wheels on the other side. To this day, I still don’t know how the heck I did that.
But it was no time to wonder, things were speeding up again. I was rolling along the track on my own wheels faster than the darned car had been.
Then came the loop-the-loop. I didn’t want to hang around for it, but it didn’t give me any choice. It made me see things differently, that’s for sure.
One moment, I was right-side-up and the next I was upside-down – I was in a real spin!
And that’s when I saw him, the figure lurking in the shadows next to the station. But could I time my exit just right?
I flew out of the loop and my hand went to my pocket. I needed my Nev-R-Break mini-grappling gun.
But I didn’t get it. Instead, I pulled out a can of Bounce-O Super Springy Spray.
I was way off course, flying straight towards one of the coaster’s support beams. It might have been supporting the coaster, but it was going to be a real liability for yours personally if I hit it at speed.
I whipped out my arm and sprayed the contents of the Bounce-O can at the beam.
With a crash that left me with a few screws loose, I ricocheted off the springy stuff and pinged back towards the shadowy figure.
He was standing there with his mouth hanging open in surprise.
I started to yell, “Look out bel-”
“OW!” he cried as I landed on top of him.
I must have crushed his foot, because he was in no mood to try giving me the runaround after that.
He really lived up to his name as he hammered out a confession by the time O’Grady showed up.
The Lieutenant took one look at it, then another at me. I’d beaten him to the punch and I knew he wasn’t amused. Though with one glance at the dilapidated park around us, I couldn’t blame him.