CHARLIE CHAN (1865-1950)
The original Charlie Chan was a well known detective in San Francisco’s Chinatown . During the 1930's, a series of grade B movies were made showing his exploits. Of course Charlie Chan did not actually play his own part in the movies, a professional actor made up to look Chinese did. Since that time, the Number One son has always been named Charlie and has continued the family detective business. The present Charlie Chan is many generations removed from the original.
TRR ON BAT ISLAND
ENTER CHARLIE CHAN
“Charlie, it’s the Ambassador.”
“Hello. Charlie Chan here. What can I do for you.”
“Yes, yes. Of course......You say that your secret service has recommended me....Well it is a little out of my line.....Yes my uncle was involved in the rescue of the Island of Montserrat....I understand that it is urgent......You say that the island has been evacuated...that there is only a volunteer detachment under a Colonel Wu Tang left? Yes....No I won’t be able to leave immediately, first I will have to consult the family archives. There may be something there which would be of help to us....You say you have a ship from the Pan American Rocket Service waiting for me?...Fine. I will be at the San Francisco rocket port on Alcatraz Island early on the day after tomorrow.
The rocket ship rose vertically until it reached near orbit, at which point t leveled off. Charlie’s seat swivelled smoothly until it was also level, allowing a view of the blue Pacific below through the global window beside him..
It was a short half hour before the pilot’s voice announced they were at their destination. Once again, the rocket ship assumed a vertical position, Charlie’s seat followed smoothly, allowing a view of the island below. The rocket ship sat on its firey tail and gradually lost altitude until it reached its dock on the island.
It was a few more minutes until the dock became cool enough to walk on, and then the doors opened. A squad of soldiers presented arms as Charlie left the platform. A stunningly beautiful woman dressed in uniform came up to him and saluted.
“I am Colonel Marie Wu Tang, at your service. I have been placed in charge of the island, which has been evacuated except for a small volunteer group of soldiers. First of all, let me show you to your quarters, and then I will brief you on what our problem is and the things we have already done to try and solve it.”
Charlie’s quarters turned out to be on the Eastern part of the island, near Colonel Wu Tang and her volunteers. Here the land was relatively flat. It was felt that this would be the last to blow, giving them the bare possibility for escape. A squadron of helicopters was kept ready for this purpose at all times.
An excellent lunch was prepared for them by one of the volunteer soldiers. Charlie took this opportunity to study more carefully his lunch companion, Colonel Wu Tang. She looked amazingly good in her tailored military uniform, although he doubted that her high heels were an authorized part of it. It began to look like this job was going to be dangerous in more ways than one.
They started out on their first tour of the island immediately after lunch, traveling in the Jeepu which was assigned to Charlie. The East- West axis of the island was about forty miles long, while the North-South axis; more accurately, the North-East, South-West axis, was somewhat less. about twenty-five miles. Bat Mountain was situated about in the middle of the island, perhaps a bit farther to the West
On their journey, they passed several very attractive settlements, situated on the coast and graced by natural sandy beaches, all deserted now, and home to the birds. As they came to the main seaport, Charlie noticed a small fleet of disused looking and slightly rusted ships tied to the docks.
“What are those ships, and why were they not used in the evacuation?” asked Charlie.
“Those ships were once used in the bat guano trade, which flourished until fairly recently. The bat guano was used for fertilizer, and it was a very good one, but it did stink and the environmentalists kept agitating against it, until finally we couldn’t sell it any more. The ships are now mothballed until the government decides what to do with them.”
“I see that there still are bats circling around over that mountain, and I would like to see where they are coming from.”said Charlie.
“I thought you might like to take a look at the Bat Caves, so I had gas masks and protective clothing loaded in the back of the Jeepu.”
The road up the mountain was rough, and they soon had to stop and put on their protective gear. The island was a tropical one, and naturally hot, but as they went on the heat became truly oppressive.. The road ran along a pair of rusty rails that appeared to go all the way from the mouth of the cave, down to the seaport.
“Have you been monitoring the heat levels?? Charlie shouted through his gas mask.
“Yes answered Marie. The temperature inside the cave was 150 degrees this morning, two degrees hotter than yesterday.”
“The temperature is rising then. Are these bats harmless?”
“Do you mean, are they vampires? Marie answered. “No, they are harmless. Not only that, but they also confer benefits on us. We even named the island after them, so it’s disturbing to see them leaving. They keep circling and circling and every day more of them leave. They seem to be heading for the mainland.”
Back at Charlies quarters, he and Marie sat down to eat and to compare notes. As they finished their meal a tremor ran through the ground under them, leaving Marie’s face white.
“Because of the vibrations, we took a chance letting your rocket ship land here,”she said. “We have since impounded the ship and sent the crew to the mainland by boat. We have no idea how much time we have left, or if we will have any chance to escape.”
“Charlie remained silent for some time, uncertain of how to begin. Finally he said, “During the Nineteenth Century, an island in Indonesia named Krakatoa blew up with a force of 200 million tons of TNT. The explosion could be clearly heard 3,000 miles away. The shock reverberated around the world seven times, and 165 villages were destroyed. Years later skeletons floating on rafts of volcanic ash were washed up on the shores of Africa.
“There was a discussion in our family archives about this event, and a theory was developed to try and explain it. It was postulated that there had been a great carbuncle under the island of Krakatoa. Normally a carbuncle is not in the least dangerous, remaining a deep ruby red color. But when it becomes overheated, it turns into a firey red, and if the heat continues, an explosion becomes inevitable.
“I believe our problem centers around the bats. By the way, do you have the authority to order one or two naval ships to be on station halfway to the mainland?”
“Why yes, I believe I can do that. What for?”
“So the bats leaving the island will have a place to rest. It may be that we will have a use for them later on. My theory is that the bats are at the center of the problem- or more exactly, the bat guano. Like all forms of manure, I am sure that the guano generates heat, and I feel that the heat is what is driving the bats away. They are very reluctant to leave their home, so they keep circling around the mountain top. I suspect that when they have all left the island, we will have our blow up.”
“Charlie that’s terrible! What can we possibly do about it?”
“Perhaps nothing. It all depends on how closely the problem is related to the cessation of bat guano mining. I propose that we start up the mining again. Then if the temperature doesn’t go up any farther, we will be on the right track. If the temperature continues to go up, then it will be time for us to leave.
“Marie, can you send a detachment out this very night to check the abandoned mining equipment, maybe a little oil or grease might be needed. Early tomorrow morning we start up mining operations again.”
The detachment under the personnel supervision of Colonel Wu Tang worked all night, and when Charlie drove up in his Jeepu at dawn, everything was ready to go. Charlie brought breakfast for all, and they moved away from the cave entrance to eat and take a much needed break.
After a short rest, they donned their protective equipment and gas masks and attacked the huge pile of bat guano near the entrance to Bat Cave. =As they filled the hopper cars, they went down the cog railway to the old warehouses near the harbor where they were emptied and sent back up. This went on all day long, and by nightfall they were all exhausted and much in need of a rest.
After a cool shower with plenty of soap and water, and then food, Charlie and Marie sat down to compare notes. Marie checked the temperature in Bat Cave and found that it was still 150 degrees! For the first time in several weeks, the temperature had not gone up.
“That is an encouraging sign,” said Charlie. “As we go further into the cave we may find that the temperature actually goes down. If so it means that we have a good chance of saving the island.”
“But Charlie, one of the warehouses is already nearly full. Nobody wants the stuff. What will we do with it?”
“Marie, several times in the past, my family has had occasion to consult with a certain Professor Huang Tsu of Shang ‘Hai Technical University. Although he must be well along in years, he may be able to help us. The family Rolodex must still have his phone number. We will give him a call.”