[I've long intended to write a series of books called 'Gizmo Jones, Boy Detective'. Well, tonight after dinner I started! Here's the first chapter of the first one, made up as I've been typing for the last hour or so. I have no idea where it's going, so tune in later for subsequent chapters!]
Gizmo Jones and the Great Train Robbery
Chapter One. A New Case
Gizmo Jones, Boy Detective, stared at his computer screen in amazement. 'It can't be!', he muttered with restrained excitement. He was reading an email from 'Sirens' O'Reilly, officially known as the newest detective on the Metro Police Force, but also Gizmo's closest friend and best source.
You'd better come down here as soon as you can.
I think I've got something for you.
There was no doubt in Gizmo's mind as to what Sirens wanted him for. There was only one story in the city that morning. He'd been reading about it as Sirens' email arrived. That morning the busiest commuter train had disappeared, full of passengers, between one station and the next. It had arrived at Downtown Station at 8.11am as scheduled - itself a small mystery - but had simply not turned up at Central Station three minutes later. An hour and a half later, it was still unaccounted for. Calls to passengers known to be on the train rang out. Satellite photos revealed nothing. Subsequent trains ran as per usual - they didn't disappear, they didn't see anything out of the ordinary, they didn't collide with a suddenly reappeared train.
Gizmo, like most of his fellow Metro citizens, was baffled more than scared. Unlike most of them, however, his mind quickly turned to the question of how he could work his way onto the case. For that's how he saw it: a case. Not a supernatural mystery or a reason to lock himself in his house and hope for the best, as he knew some people were already doing. No, this was a riddle, a puzzle and a challenge, and if Gizmo couldn't help solve it the official way, helping the police force, he'd work it out alone. Officially was better, though. Easier and less tiresome if someone else was doing the boring grunt work, leaving Gizmo to handle the case his own way. So he was especially glad to receive Sirens' email, and he hummed a happy tune to himself as he put on some shoes, grabbed his bag and went out to the garage to his bicycle. His parents were both out, so he left a note for whichever one came home first, since he suspected he'd be gone longer than either of them, and started cycling towards the police station.
There was another reason why he was happy this morning. 'At last - something to do!', he thought. He'd been bored since the Case of the Vulnerable Gymnast - only three weeks ago, he had to remind himself - and this looked like a particularly interesting problem to solve.
Detective Peter O'Reilly had met Gizmo Jones in most embarrassing circumstances. At that time a new recruit to the force, O'Reilly had suffered the humiliation of having his grandmother's home, which he was temporarily living in, burgled. Fearing that his new colleagues would never let him forget it, he tried to solve the case himself - starting by interviewing the young boy across the road. As it turned out, that ended up being the only thing he had to do. More accurately, O'Reilly didn't interview Gizmo so much as the boy had walked across the street and solved the case for him. The boy introduced himself as Gizmo, said he was nine years old, and that he could help. O'Reilly, despite his distress, humoured the boy by following him into his bedroom. Confusion, suspicion and relief intermingled as this strange boy showed him photos on his computer of the thieves in the act of leaving the house, and then handed him a piece of paper with an address written in an immature but clear script. 'Here's where they are', Gizmo said, 'but you should hurry. I don't think they'll stay there much longer'.
Without O'Reilly's really noticing it, Gizmo invited himself along, but O'Reilly had recovered enough by the time they got to the address, only a few blocks away, to tell him to stay in the car. Two men came out of the house just as O'Reilly pulled up, and obviously recognising him, elected to toss the bags they were carrying - which were full of O'Reilly's grandma's jewelry in the hope that he would call it even. He didn't, and chased them in a short and not-particularly-dramatic burst of excitement. He was thus able to show his new colleagues at the station his crime-solving chops, and thus started his rise through the ranks. Gizmo had been part of, but not the only reason for, this success. O'Reilly was an instinctive detective, more at home tracking important cases than with the less-glamorous aspects of modern policing.
He had, of course, asked his new friend how he solved the case, and the answer was stunning in its simplicity but spoke volumes of this nine year old's courage and detective skills. He saw two men enter the house, so while they were inside he attached one of his latest toys - a powerful tracking device - to the bottom of their car. When they exited, he took photos with his parents' camera and then returned to his bedroom to track their movements on his computer. He saw the car stop and stay in one position, and wrote down that address. 'Why didn't you call the police?' O'Reilly had asked.
'I knew you were a policeman', Gizmo said, 'and I thought if I helped you catch them, you might let me help you again'.
And thus had begun one of the most successful - if unofficial - detective partnerships in Metro's history.
Thinking back to that day as he waited for the Gizmo to arrive, O'Reilly couldn't help but wish that his young friend had possessed the foresight to have attached one of his helpful tracking devices to the train this morning. He'd never been this utterly confused by a case before, and he had no idea how it could be solved. At this point, he reflected ruefully, their best hope was that the train would just reappear as suddenly and inexplicably as it had disappeared. And O'Reilly knew that hoping for that was a sign of a case that was going to cause him trouble. The chief and their mayor had already held some long meetings with their young star detective - not the sort of meetings he had occasionally had with his bosses, where they either berated him for his lack of progress or congratulated him on solving a high-profile case. No, this time, they both seemed scared. Both expressed the wish that someone else would jump in and take control of the whole thing.
As it turned out, they were going to get that wish fulfilled. But not in the way they might have imagined. Neither of them realised that the case was about to be in the hands of one Gizmo Jones, Boy Detective.