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Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual
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Enlarge: The Clockwork Book makes a hurried televideo call

It was getting hot in the Book's gearworks but Tallie, watching the spinning cogs and hearing their protests, just couldn't stop. Before long she was going to need to refill the oil can.

Captain Scarlet had gone to a hidden exit. She'd been instructed to wait for precisely fifteen minutes, go through a door, and then return when it 'seemed appropriate'. Meanwhile the Book had deployed its video screens and was talking rapidly to Mister Deering, the history teacher.

"This is unusual," Deering was saying, " don't want me to tell you a story? You just want me to... do something?"

"And in return I will tell you the story behind the resignation of Senator Huer. It will explain the diplomatic anomaly you have been trying to understand."

"But it's not like I can publish my paper ..." said Mister Deering. "I'd have to cite you as the source, and that's... well, I'm sorry, but it's just not possible."

The Book blinked. "Perhaps, I wonder... when you have tenure?"

Deering's eyes went misty. "Well... they couldn't fire me then, of course... oh, I'd love to see that old Dean's face... though where to publish...." His face contorted between hope and dread. "Yes! I'll do it! What do you need?"

"At precisely twelve minutes after five, you will need to be hovering over the laboratory of Cornelius Zappencackler. Your fuel cell should be so nearly depleted that your craft will fall within another minute and a half. In addition...."

Tallie ran for the big drum of oil. Whatever the Book was up to - and she was going to find out - it was nearly destroying itself in the proces

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