Zero Hour

“Zero Hour” from The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

It’s just a normal day for the Morris family. Mrs. Morris is taking care of the home and little Mink is playing with her friends. Except today Mink is grabbing all kinds of things and running around with her friends more excited than usual playing Invasion.

While they are playing, Mrs. Morris notices that the kids won’t let a 12 year old play with them as he is too old.

Hmm…

She hears how serious the kids are with Mink demanding and ordering about, organizing like a general. She runs out and about everywhere, as it is a “matter of life and death.”

Oh kids

They have to hurry as Drill needs them to finish the Invasion. Drill is from outer space and needs help to come to their dimension. Drill and his compatriots have been trying to invade Earth for years and couldn’t make it. Then they decided to use kids under nine and their imagination. They promise the kids they can get and do whatever they want when they arrive.

“Drill says I won’t have to take baths,’ said Mink.

‘Oh, he does, does he?’

‘He told all the kids that. No more baths. And we can stay up till ten o’clock and go to two televisor shows on Saturday ‘stead of one!’

‘Well, Mr. Drill better mind his p’s and q’s. I’ll call up his mother and —‘

Mink went to the door. ‘We’re having trouble with guys like Pete Britz and Dale Jerrick. They’re growing up. They make fun. They’re worse than parents. They just won’t believe in Drill. They’re so snooty, ‘cause they’re growing up. You’d think they’d know better. They were little only a coupla years ago. I hate them worst. We’ll kill them first.’

‘Your father and I last?’

‘Drill says you’re dangerous. Know why? ‘Cause you don’t believe in Martians! They’re going to let us run the world. Well, not just us, but the kids over in the next block, too. I might be queen.’ She opened the door.

Mrs. Morris calls her friend in New York and finds out that the kids there are playing the same thing. It seems that this game and “Drill” have spread all over the nation.

The day continues and Mink tells her mom it will be soon, Drill is stuck halfway but they are working on it. Five o’clock is zero hour. Mr. Morris returns home from work and Mrs. Morris is struck with how quiet the street is. What are the children up to?

Then an explosion happens and all Mrs. Morris’ fears explode with it. Sh grabs her husband and runs up to the attic hoping to hide out there and escape that night. Her husband thinks she is crazy, but Mrs. Morris doesn’t care.

Footsteps come into the house:

Heavy feet. Twenty, thirty, forty, fifty of them. Fifty persons crowding into the house. 295 The humming. The giggling of the children. ‘This way!’ cried Mink, below.

‘Who’s downstairs?’ roared Henry. ‘Who’s there!’

‘Hush. Oh, nononononono!’ said his wife weakly, holding him. ‘Please, be quiet. They might go away.’

‘Mom?’ called Mink. ‘Dad?’ A pause. ‘Where are you?’ Heavy footsteps, heavy, heavy, very heavy footsteps, came up the stairs. Mink leading them.

‘Mom?’ A hesitation. ‘Dad?’ A waiting, a silence.

Humming. Footsteps toward the attic. Mink’s first.

They trembled together in silence in the attic, Mr. and Mrs. Morris. For some reason the electric humming, the queer cold light suddenly visible under the door crack, the strange odor and the alien sound of eagerness in Mink’s voice finally got through to Henry Morris too. He stood, shivering, in the dark silence, his wife beside him.

‘Mom! Dad!’

Footsteps. A little humming sound. The attic-lock melted. The door opened. Mink peered inside, tall blue shadows behind her.

‘Peekaboo,’ said Mink.”

For more Ray Bradbury, go to Marionettes, Inc.

For more from The Illustrated Man, go to The Veldt

For more aliens, go to The Andromeda Strain

For more short stories, go to Stowaway

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The Andromeda Strain

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The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

Thoughts Before Reading:

I love Michael Crichton novels and have read almost every single one of his books. This was one of the few I hadn’t had a chance to and when I finally was ready to read it, I was so excited to add another one of his books to my collection.

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Plot Synopsis:

The United States has been shooting things into the atmosphere and a group of scientists come together with a plan. What to do if something should come into Earth from outer space? How could they prepare for it?

The plan is made, people chosen, and a facility picked; and then all forgotten. Years pass and then in a little town in Arizona, something falls out of the sky wrecking havoc.

The Thing from Another World (1951)

The people are called up and shipped out. When they examine the town only two survivors remain, a baby boy and a cancerous, alcoholic, chain smoker, eighty year old man.

WHAT!

What is this alien virus? Why didn’t these two contract it. Can the team stop it from spreading?

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Thoughts After Reading:

I thought this was okay, but not the best Michael Crichton novel.

I didn’t really like the end in which they leave it so open. I like his later work better.

For more not in a series mysteries, go to The Mystery of Jessica Benson

For more science fiction, go to The Veldt

For more mystery reviews, go to Innocent in Las Vegas

Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters

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Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters by Lida Sideris

After Corrie Locke’s father died, she decided to give up the private investigating business and get into something that is safe and secure; becoming a lawyer.

Everything will be fine.

Everything will be fine.

In fact, Corrie has just landed the job of her dreams, an associate lawyer at a big entertainment production house. Only problem is, this is far from what she dreamed as safe and secure.

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Instead Corrie has a crazy supervisor who changes his mind every second, her ex-boyfriend that was a huge mistake works there too, a gossipy Human Resources executive, a Vice President that doesn’t understand the word “no”, and much more.

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To make things even more complicated, Corrie finds herself donning her gumshoes when someone begs her to investigate a suicide, he believes is a cover for murder.

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Once word is out that Corrie is back in business, she gets two more cases: finding a famous basketball player’s lost lucky charm, his Siamese cat; and figuring out who is making a famous rapper believe he has been abducted by aliens.

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In between lawyering and investigating; Corrie has an old friend she’d always crushed on come back in her life; and a man she can’t stand but is attracted to. What’s a girl to do?

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Thoughts After Reading:

            Fans of Veronica Mars will enjoy reading about this teenage private investigator trying to leave the life, only to discover it is something in her blood.

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Corrie was a fun and likable character as you relate to her normalcy in an office full of strange temperamental people. Her partner in investigating, best friend, and secret crush; Michael, is not only adorable in his nerdy everyday personality, but just as lovable in his attempts to be like Colombo or other TV detective.

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This novel was very engaging and the three mysteries were fun, interesting and great to challenge any reader. The lost cat and rapper tales are minor, but still engaging, and the overall investigating arc of the suicide as murder; is intriguing as it takes a series of twists and turns in trying to find out is it really a murder? And if so who could be the killer?

FRIEND!!???

Who??

The only issues I had with the book was at times it seems to be a little bit disorganized, waiting until halfway in to give us the back-story the author is constantly hinting at.  I would have preferred if we were introduced to it earlier as it helps one understand the characters better. The other problem I had with the novel was the love triangle between Corrie, Michael, and the assistant district attorney. A lot of mysteries have been doing this lately, and I for one am tired of reading it.

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But as those are such minute issues, and on a whole the story was almost impossible to put

down,

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I would give this four and a half stars out of five.

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For more books on private investigators, go to Fool Moon

For more female private investigators, go to One for the Money

For more suspicious suicides, go to Knit, Purl, Die

For more not in a series mysteries, go to The Italian Wife