by Martin Maenza
“How could I forget we were this high up?” the Flash asked himself. “I underestimated the Fog.” He righted himself with a somersault in the air so that his feet were falling first. “Time to do something before I’m a mark on the pavement below.”
The Flash realized he had drifted too far away from the building, so he had no surface to run down. He would have to try another trick. The hero began to pump his legs up and down as if he were marching in place. Moving at blinding speed, the Flash was able to create a cushion of air to control his descent. “This worked before when I battled those cloud creatures, so it should work now.” (*) He soon was back on solid ground.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Invasion of the Cloud Creatures,” The Flash #111 (February-March, 1960).]
“Now to find the Fog!” The Flash then raced up the side of the building to return to the patio area, but his opponent was nowhere in sight. “He must have slipped away when I was saving myself. He could be anywhere right now.” The scarlet speedster noticed the people from the auction coming out to see what was going on, including Iris West.
“Don’t worry, folks,” the Flash said, trying to make his voice sound encouraging. “I’ll track down the criminal and get back your valuables.” The hero then began to race away to where he could change out of his costume safely. “But it might just have to be Barry Allen that continues to investigate this case.” After donning his tuxedo, he returned to the auction and his date.
Very early the next morning, Barry Allen was at Iris West’s door. “My, to what do I owe this visit?” she asked. “It’s barely past eight.”
“Have you developed those pictures from last night yet?” Barry asked.
“No, not yet,” Iris replied. “Why?”
“Could you do it now?” Barry insisted. “There might be a clue to the robbery at the auction last night in those pictures. I need to have a look at them before you turn them over to Picture News.”
Iris realized what her boyfriend was getting at, so the two adjourned to the makeshift developing studio that Iris had set up in her spare bathroom. About fifteen minutes later, the pictures were hanging to dry. Under the red light, one drew Barry’s attention. “Can I have a copy of this one, Iris?” he asked.
It was a picture of Barry standing next to another man near the bar. “Of course — take that one, and I’ll make another copy,” she said. “I was going to keep that one for myself, just cropping it some. It’s a very nice picture of you.”
Barry half-blushed. It was, in fact, the part of the picture that showed the other man’s face that he wanted. “Say, Iris, you see a lot of faces in your line of work. Does this guy ring any bells with you?”
The brown-haired reporter looked at the picture for a good, long time. “Hmm, he does look familiar,” she finally said. “I don’t think I’ve met him in person, so I don’t know his name. But I’m pretty sure I saw his photo in the Picture News within the last few months or so.”
Barry took the picture and gave Iris a quick peck on the cheek. “Thanks for the picture,” he said. “I have an idea on how to track this guy down. Maybe, just maybe, it might prove helpful to the police or the Flash in capturing this man.”
Barry Allen’s next stop was the Central City Library. Upon seeing his police identification, the head librarian let him into the building before it opened. “What can I help you with, Mr. Allen?” the young blonde woman asked.
“You keep copies of the local papers on microfiche, correct?” the police scientist asked. The woman nodded. “Excellent. I’d like to look through those, if I may.”
“Of course,” the young woman said. She brought him over to one of the microfiche viewers, then retrieved for him a number of boxes of tapes. “Take all the time you need.” She then left him to his work while she shelved some returned books.
Barry picked up the box labeled with the most recent Picture News issues. He threaded the machine with the tape and attached the wheels to their spindles. Pulling out the picture he had gotten from Iris, he placed that on the table in front of him.
He began to turn the wheel of the viewer, and the black and white photocopies of the newspaper pages began to pass before his eyes. Because of his unique abilities, he was able to go through the images at a faster-than-normal rate. He would periodically glance back and forth between the picture on the table and the images on the viewing screen, trying to find a match of the man. Within three minutes of high-speed reading, he had covered every page of every edition of the Picture News for the last six months.
Barry then stopped on one particular article. The headline from page twenty-two of this particular issue announced the arrival of a new psychology professor at the local university. The man’s picture in the paper matched that of the one on the table. His name was Thomas Will. “Bingo!” Barry said. “Looks like the Fog isn’t as elusive as he thought.”
Packing up the tapes quickly, he returned them all to the front desk. “Thank you,” Barry told the librarian as he headed for the door.
The woman looked at him, slightly perplexed as he left. “Done? So soon?” She shrugged her shoulders and went back to her work.
Professor Thomas Will walked out of one of the Central City University buildings and began to cross the grassy lawn. It was a bright, sunny morning, so many of the undergraduates were enjoying the nice weather. There were at least twenty-five students in the quad area.
“Not so fast, Professor,” a male voice called from behind him.
The dark-haired man turned quickly and saw who was standing against one of the trees with arms crossed. “Flash!” Will exclaimed.
The super-hero smiled. “Since when does the Fog come out on a sunny day?” he said jokingly. “The game is over, mister. I know all about you.”
“So, you figured out my true identity,” Will stated. “If you know who I am, you also know about my background in psychology. My doctorate work was on the subject of bad habits and how, with simple hypnosis, a person can be made to overcome them, forget them. With lots of study and practice, I found the perfect pitch and resonance within my own voice — which enabled me to plant hypnotic suggestions in a person’s mind with just a few simple words.”
The Flash nodded. “So, after helping so many people, you decided to help yourself,” the hero said. “You figured it would be quicker to get rich by robbing banks and rich socialites.”
The villain said, “Exactly! And I would have gotten away with it all, too, had you not been so persistent in trailing me. But I think I can rectify that situation right now.” He began to smile.
“Ah-ah-ahh,” the Scarlet Speedster said, wagging a finger at him. “Even if you play your forget-me-now trick on me, there are plenty of witnesses right here that can just refresh my memory.” The Flash gestured to the crowd of students that had started to form. “Whatever you try, it will only be a temporary measure. I’ll be back on your trail before you can make another move.”
Professor Will laughed. “Oh, you think so, Flash! Well, I have a solution to that situation as well.”
The villain hopped up onto one of the nearby cement benches, so that he would be visible to all those in the quad. “Attention, everyone who can hear my voice. Your attention, please.”
Students and even some passing by faculty stopped and turned their heads toward the voice.
The man glanced over at the Flash, who stood by rather unconcerned. The villain gritted his teeth, infuriated by the hero’s smug attitude. He would show the Flash who was the more cunning of the two.
“Everyone who can hear my voice,” Will stated, “you will have no choice but to forget everything you know about me. You will forget who I am and what I am able to do. The name the Fog will mean nothing to you.” The Professor turned back toward the tree, but there was no one leaning against it.
“Where did–?” the man started to ask but stopped in mid-sentence. He paused a moment, perplexed.
“What — what was I going to just say?” he said. The man looked down at his feet. “Why am I standing here on this concrete bench?”
Suddenly, a scarlet blur approached him. It was the Flash. “Here, Professor, let me help you down,” he offered.
As he escorted the man inside, the Flash couldn’t help but smile. I wasn’t sure if that would actually work, he thought to himself, but I was hoping I could trick the Fog into turning his own power on himself. Just before he could utter his hypnotic suggestion, I darted safely away and put plenty of distance between myself and the sound of his voice.
The hero looked at the bewildered Thomas Will and frowned. It almost doesn’t seem right to turn him over to the police, now that he no longer remembers who he is and what he’s capable of doing, the Flash thought. But I have to do that, anyway. Maybe I can help him recall enough of his past, leaving out the parts about his special abilities and his guise as the Fog. The scarlet speedster shook his head sadly. This one will just have to be the forgotten rogue.