Gerald Allan Sohl – The Ultroom Error

HB73782. Ultroom error. Tendal 13. Arvid 6. Kanad transfer out of 1609 complete, intact, but too near limit of 1,000 days. Next Kanad transfer ready. 1951. Reginald, son of Mr. and Mrs. Martin Laughton, 3495 Orland Drive, Marionville, Illinois, U. S. A. Arrive his 378th day. TB73782. ancy Laughton sat on the blanket she had spread on the lawn in her front yard, knitting a pair of booties for the PTA bazaar.

Occasionally she glanced at her son in the play pen, who was getting his daily dose of sunshine. He was gurgling happily, examining a ball, a cheese grater and a linen baby book, all with perfunctory interest. When she looked up again she noticed a man walking by—except he turned up the walk and crossed the lawn to her. He was a little taller than her husband, had piercing blue eyes and a rather amused set to his lips. “Hello, Nancy,” he said. “Hello, Joe,” she answered. It was her brother who lived in Kankakee. “I’m going to take the baby for a while,” he said. “All right, Joe.” He reached into the pen, picked up the baby. As he did so the baby’s knees hit the side of the play pen and young Laughton let out a scream—half from hurt and half from sudden lack of confidence in his new handler. But this did not deter Joe. He started off with the child. Around the corner and after the man came a snarling mongrel dog, eyes bright, teeth glinting in the sunlight. The man did not turn as the dog threw himself at him, burying his teeth in his leg.

Surprised, the man dropped the screaming child on the lawn and turned to the dog. Joe seemed off balance and he backed up confusedly in the face of the snapping jaws. Then he suddenly turned and walked away, the dog at his heels. “I tell you, the man said he was my brother and he made me think he was,” Nancy told her husband for the tenth time. “I don’t even have a brother.” Martin Laughton sighed. “I can’t understand why you believed him. It’s just—just plain nuts, Nancy!” “Don’t you think I know it?” Nancy said tearfully. “I feel like I’m going crazy. I can’t say I dreamt it because there was Reggie with his bleeding knees, squalling for all he was worth on the grass—Oh, I don’t even want to think about it.” “We haven’t lost Reggie, Nancy, remember that. Now why don’t you try to get some rest?” “You—you don’t believe me at all, do you, Martin?” When her husband did not answer, her head sank to her arms on the table and she sobbed. “Nancy, for heaven’s sake, of course I believe you. I’m trying to think it out, that’s all. We should have called the police.

” Nancy shook her head in her arms. “They’d—never—believe me either,” she moaned. “I’d better go and make sure Reggie’s all right.” Martin got up out of his chair and went to the stairs. “I’m going with you,” Nancy said, hurriedly rising and coming over to him. “We’ll go up and look at him together.” They found Reggie peacefully asleep in his crib in his room upstairs. They checked the windows and tucked in the blankets. They paused in the room for a moment and then Martin stole his arm around his wife and led her to the door. “As I’ve said, sergeant, this fellow hypnotized my wife. He made her think he was her brother. She doesn’t even have a brother. Then he tried to get away with the baby.” Martin leaned down and patted T the dog. “It was Tiger here who scared him off.

” The police sergeant looked at the father, at Nancy and then at the dog. He scribbled notes in his book. “Are you a rich man, Mr. Laughton?” he asked. “Not at all. The bank still owns most of the house. I have a few hundred dollars, that’s all.” “What do you do?” “Office work, mostly. I’m a junior executive in an insurance company.” “Any enemies?” “No … Oh, I suppose I have a few people I don’t get along with, like anybody else. Nobody who’d do anything like this, though.” The sergeant flipped his notebook closed. “You’d better keep your dog inside and around the kid as much as possible. Keep your doors and windows locked. I’ll see that the prowl car keeps an eye on the house.

Call us if anything seems unusual or out of the way.” Nancy had taken a sedative and was asleep by the time Martin finished cleaning the .30-.30 rifle he used for deer hunting. He put it by the stairs, ready for use, fully loaded, leaning it against the wall next to the telephone stand. he front door bell rang. He answered it. It was Dr. Stuart and another man. “I came as soon as I could, Martin,” the young doctor said, stepping inside with the other man. “This is my new assistant, Dr. Tompkins.” Martin and Tompkins shook hands. “The baby—?” Dr. Stuart asked.

“Upstairs,” Martin said. “You’d better get him, Dr. Tompkins, if we’re to take him to the hospital. I’ll stay here with Mr. Laughton. How’ve you been, Martin?” “Fine.” “How’s everything at the office?” “Fine.” “And your wife?” “She’s fine, too.” “Glad to hear it, Martin. Mighty glad. Say, by the way, there’s that bill you owe me. I think it’s $32, isn’t that right?” “Yes, I’d almost forgotten about it.” “Why don’t you be a good fellow and write a check for it? It’s been over a year, you know.” “That’s right. I’ll get right at it.

” Martin went over to his desk, opened it and started looking for his checkbook. Dr. Stuart stood by him, making idle comment until Dr. Tompkins came down the stairs with the sleeping baby cuddled against his shoulder. “Never mind the check, now, Martin. I see we’re ready to go.” He went over to his assistant and took the baby. Together they walked out the front door. “Good-bye,” Martin said, going to the door. Then he was nearly bowled over by the discharge of the .30-.30. Dr. Stuart crumpled to the ground, the baby falling to the lawn. Dr.

Tompkins whirled and there was a second shot. Dr. Tompkins pitched forward on his face. The figure of a woman ran from the house, retrieved the now squalling infant and ran back into the house. Once inside, Nancy slammed the door, gave the baby to the stunned Martin and headed for the “I telephone. “One of them was the same man!” she cried. Martin gasped, sinking into a chair with the baby. “I believed them,” he said slowly and uncomprehendingly. “They made me believe them!” “Those bodies,” the sergeant said. “Would you mind pointing them out to me, please?”


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Updated: 5 December 2020 — 09:37

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