The Heat Death of the planet from an overdose of global warming isn't funny, nor is the occult, but the story as Gill and Steve try Isaac Brainridge's invention to explore the future telepathically. Rel occult as Gill, Steve and Brainridge clash with his powerful but unscrupulous neice Athena. Gill's quick wits save her (and Steve) but Brainridge and planet earth may not be so lucky!
Isaac Brainridge looked 'odd'. That was the first reaction of the police constable, as Brainridge answered the door. The man before him was a little above average height and no more than average build, but he had a pointed beard and was otherwise completely bald. He was dressed entirely in black - shirt, tie, trousers, shoes.
'Probably black underwear as well,' Constable Stewart thought irrelevantly.
Brainridge had odd eyes - they were different colours from each other: one violet blue, one quite green with flecks of amber brown. When, incidentally, one describes him as 'bald' that is strictly accurate and no exaggeration. Apart from his beard, there was no hair on his head at all - no eyebrows, no trace of hair around the sides of his head and no hair even in his ears. The caller thought that the man looked rather like one's idea of a dungeon master in a game of dungeons and dragons, not that he actually played that particular game himself. The bald man smiled at the constable.
"Good afternoon," said Brainridge. "Can I help you officer?"
The policeman shook himself out of his surprise. While being odd might have been cause for a charge of witchcraft in medieval times, it is not a crime in itself - which is just as well, since many of us are in some way 'odd'. Moreover there did not appear to have been a crime and Brainridge was anyway a witness to the accident, if that is what it was, not a principal in it.
"I believe you saw the dog attack ... " Constable Stewart paused and consulted his notebook, " ... Anthony Simmonds. Over there in the park this morning."
` Brainridge nodded. "From a distance," he said.
"I'd like to ask a few questions and possibly get a statement."
"You'd better come in." Brainridge held the door open and stepped aside, closing the wrought iron grid in front of the door and then the door itself behind the police officer.
The living room was unusual rather than odd. It was unusual only in that there was no TV or music centre or telephone - just books, books and more books, some of them ancient leather bound tomes.
On the floor beside the settee was an interesting looking collection of wires, terminals and circuitry. It looked to the constable rather like a video game of some sort Brainridge had been building or repairing. He thought it might be a game, because there were headphones and what could have been a mask, rather like one of those 'virtual reality' game terminals, which vary the image you see as you look around. There were also, he noticed, a couple of terminals that could be stuck to the skin, like monitors on an electroencephalograph. Perhaps the object was not a game after all, but something to do with psychology.
The woman sitting in the other armchair did not look odd or unusual, though she was certainly striking. She was young enough for the policeman to conclude that she almost certainly wasn't Brainridge's wife.