Matt Mouser, Ala-Kat-Zam
When gigantic metal-rimmed wheels begin destroying buildings and even whole neighborhoods, Matt Mouser, alias the wizard hero Ala-Kat-Zam, steps in to find out why. But can he find the proof linking the destruction to the crime lord Fat Kat before the screaming wheels leave him in the dust?
It began with a small rumbling, and then a shaking. Then a huge metal tire roared down the street, careening against buildings and smashing through brick and concrete with ease. Then, like some giant phantom, it was gone.
Walking down the street the next day, Matt Mouser surveyed the damage with blood in his eye. “First Water Fowl, and now this,” he said. “I wonder if there’s a connection. There’s a lot of damage to the neighborhood in both cases. Maybe Ala-Kat-Zam and his magic wand should look into this.”
Matt started his search by asking around the neighborhoods about anything out of the ordinary. Every place he went, he heard a story about someone wanting to buy the land and buildings at cut-rate prices. It was a start, but he needed to know who was behind the realty company’s offer. It was time for a night time visit to the offices of Birdwell, Howell, and Terrier.
He spent the time until night on the look-out for trouble, and when Matt felt the time was right, he changed into his Ala-Kat-Zam costume and rode a flying skateboard to the roof of the office building. A tap of his magic wand opened the roof door, and the wizard entered. Matt took the stairs to the office he wanted and unlocked the door with another tap. Going to the office computers, he tapped them as well, and the information he wanted slid upward into view on the screen.
“Shazam!” Matt whispered when he saw the name.
Ala-Kat-Zam knew he had a connection between the destruction and a mastermind — all he had to do was prove it. But that would be a whole lot easier said than done. Matt left the office and rode his skateboard home. He had a lot of thinking to do if he wanted to stop all of this.
He changed out of his Ala-Kat-Zam costume for pajamas as he watched TV. A tiny picture in a corner gave a roving view of the surrounding area. Something as big as those wrecking machines would be clearly visible from the roof.
Matt had fallen asleep when a clamor shook his building. He tapped his wand to put him immediately in his costume and then tapped the TV to put himself on the scene swiftly.
Two massive metal wheels bore down on the neighborhood, intent on wrecking other homes. Pausing to consider how to handle the twin attack, Matt tapped the street to send a ribbon zipping along at the dual menaces.
The asphalt ribbon sprang one of the monster machines into the air. The other rolled out of the way and rammed into an apartment building. The whole brick edifice quivered before it came to pieces in a shower of bricks.
Matt felt anger in a black cloud above his feathered hat. It was time for Ala-Kat-Zam to do something more permanent to these yahoos.
The other wheel landed in a crunch and spun in place. It rolled to a stop on one side of Matt, while the other backed out to line up on the other side. They charged the swashbuckling sorcerer in a cloud of dust and smoke.
Matt waited until the last second and then tapped the road. It zipped him out of the way with a moment to spare. The wheels collided together and jammed helplessly in a great grinding of gears.
Ala-Kat-Zam tapped one monster wheel, then the other with his wand. He stepped back as bolts and rivets sproinged from their places in a small rain. He smiled as two piles of metal descended in a mad rush on the street.
The two pilots looked dumbfounded at the sudden change. They snarled when they saw Matt standing to one side, twirling his wand. They bounced to their feet to express their fury when a single tap wrapped them in a cage of disrupted metal.
“You’ll pay for this, meddler!” snarled one.
“The check is in the mail,” said Ala-Kat-Zam smugly. A roar filled the air then, and a shadow fell on Matt.
He leaped to one side as a wheel twice as big as the other two bore down on him in a cloud of smoke. The wheel smashed the makeshift cage open and then reversed to run the swashbuckling sorcerer down. It missed in a grinding of gears and a spray of asphalt.
The wizard hero tried to think quickly but felt blinded by panic as the giant wheel chased after him like a wuz-wolf. He tapped the pile of concrete, and it flew at the wheel in a barrage. The metal monster ground the masonry underfoot as it continued to charge. He was doomed.
Matt Mouser had always been a quick thinker, however. He knew exactly what he had to do as the monstrous wheel bore down on him, and he slammed his wand into the asphalt. The street bunched up into a ramp pointing straight up. That wasn’t the end of the spell, the pilot of the wheel discovered, as the whole metallic marauder vanished in a rainbow ribbon of light and the tones of a xylophone. Seconds later, the wheel crashed back into the pavement with a roar and a ka-blam.
Shaking the cloud of dust from his eyes, he couldn’t at first see as the lesser villains tried to flee in surprised realization that their chief lay defeated amidst a pile of ripped-up road and metal.
Ala-Kat-Zam tapped his surroundings and watched everything begin to repair itself. The wrecked wheels stacked up against a building with a cloud of zipping bricks and workings putting itself back together. The pilots ran off while Matt was directing the massive reconstruction like a orchestra conductor.
He let them go after tapping a pair of shoes he had found laying amidst the wreckage. The footwear took off at a run after the leader of the wrecking wheels. They would come back when the lizard had settled in some kind of hiding place. Then Matt would have to talk the demolitionist into trading his boss for freedom and stopping all of this vandalism. He knew it wouldn’t be easy, but there must be something in his bag of tricks to help justice along.
That was for later. Some square blocks of apartments needed to be repaired. Injuries needed to be tended. Being a hero was a lot harder than it looked from the outside. “Shazam! How does the Zoo Crew do this day in and day out?” he asked himself.
Matt Mouser walked from one end of the wreckage to the other. Everywhere he went, things righted themselves with a tap of his magical wand. After an hour, the work was done. The last few pieces floated back into place as he dusted his hands. Luckily, no one had been killed in the rampage. Matt didn’t want to find out if he could raise the dead the hard way.
The empty shoes returned and waited for Matt’s attention. He tapped a piece of metal from one of the wrecked wheels, and it formed into a floating disk to carry him to his destination. The phantom walker led the way.
Floating after the animated shoes, Matt felt tired from all of the energy he expended on repairing the buildings. The shoes led to an apartment building across the city, and he let his conveyance settle to the ground. He stepped into a nearby alley and took several deep breaths to calm his nerves.
This gave the wizard an idea. He tapped his mouth with the wand and took a deep breath, then felt slightly better. He continued until he was up to par again. Now to grab a flock of felons.
Ala-Kat-Zam walked into the building, looking for his animated footwear. He found the shoes waiting for him in front of a door on the fifth floor. Listening at the door, he heard some movement and low voices. It seemed the lizard leader was reporting to an upset boss. Time to upset him more, the wand wielder decided.
Matt tapped the door and smiled as it became transparent. He jumped through the suddenly porous door, and his sudden appearance frightened the drivers into momentary stillness. He pressed his advantage by jumping forward and tapping one of the hench hounds on the shoulder. The hound howled as his shirt wrapped around him tighter than a straitjacket.
The other henchman leaped forward with a squawk as the lizard’s eyes about popped out. Someone’s querulous voice demanding answers could be heard. Ala-Kat-Zam ducked his frightened foe and tapped him on the chest. The henchhawk’s overalls suddenly expanded like a ballon. He floated above the floor, kicking his limbs unsuccessfully. Matt held up a clawed hand.
“Don’t do it!” shouted the bird.
Matt brought his claws down and poked a hole in the inflated coveralls. The driver slammed into the wall with the sudden release of air. Little song notes floated around his head as Matt turned to deal with the last one, but he saw that the lizard had escaped.
Ala-Kat-Zam ran for the window, the only quick escape route other than the bedroom door. The lizard was dashing down the metal fire escape with a cloud of dust. The driver jumped the last twenty feet.
Matt grabbed the rail and tapped the metal. In an instant, he was hanging from a descending ladder. He dropped into the alley as the lizard ran out of the entrance. Matt ran after him.
A loud screeeeeech with ka-thumpa flew to the hero’s ears as he paused at the mouth of the alley. The lizard lay face down in the street. Matt could tell he was no longer alive, even from a distance.
Matt talked to the bystanders. The lizard had run out into the street in front of a delivery truck, and the driver couldn’t stop in time. The wizard picked a telephone receiver up over protests and inquiries of what was going on. He dialed 9-1-1 and gave the police the rundown on what happened in rhyming verse.
He walked away, leaving the hirelings trussed up for the policemen. He knew that the lizard was the only link, and it was gone with the scream of smoking wheels. He would have to find another way to bring Fat Kat to justice.