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First episode taken from Adventure No. 1081 - May 22nd 1943.


He comes and goes and no one knows.


Within the basement room of a large modern building in the Downtown district of San Francisco twelve men sat at a big table, expectantly watching the door. They were all in civilian clothing and fully half of them had the Oriental cast of feature which marked them out as Japanese. Highly respected business men, or members of the professions, were these Japs, men whose records had passed the scrutiny of the United States G-men. There had been nothing in their past histories to justify them being interned after the outbreak of war between America and Japan. The rest, including the bulky figure at one end of the table, were all Germans who had escaped the net which had been flung out to capture Nazi spies. It was a meeting of spies, held under the chairmanship of Von Karling, the German Chief of Intelligence in California. Huge, gross, with pendulous jowls and sunken eyes, with a neck so thick that his head seemed sunken between his shoulders, Von Karling kept glancing impatiently at his watch. “He’s late!” he croaked. “Patience, pleas-s-s!” murmured San Nakano, a little Jap, one of the most influential bankers in the district. “Maybe he is-s delayed.” At the head of the table, nearest the door, was a vacant chair. It was obvious that one expected member of the party was still absent. Quite close to the empty chair, facing the door, was a thick-set man who spent the interval cleaning his nails with a silver file. His features were of the type found in the northern parts of Japan, his physique heavy and powerful. His eyes slanted so obliquely that they scarcely seemed open at all, yet he noticed everything that went on, every by-play between the various members of the organisation. Looking at him, one would have guessed him to be one of the most formidable characters of the party. His name was Shokaku. Suddenly the door-catch clicked as the handle began to turn, and the figures round the table stiffened. Even Shokaku stopped filing his nails, and stared. The door opened, swung back to the width of a man, but there was no man to be seen, then as quietly closed again. The key on the inside of the door was turned without visible means, making everyone jump with the sharpness of the sound it made. Just for an instant it seemed that a shadow had entered the room, then the illusion was dispelled when it was seen the floor was still empty. Ghostly footsteps, uncannily muffled, approached the table, and in spite of themselves some of the spies shrank back in their chairs as though afraid. There was a slight draught as though someone had entered, then the vacant chair was drawn back, rocked as though a leg had knocked against it, and slid forward to its old position. “Good evening, comrades!” came a voice from the chair. “I am sorry I was late, but two of these accursed city police were talking in the doorway upstairs. I had to wait until they moved on before entering.” The voice was well modulated, but there was just the slightest slurring of the sibilants which gave away the fact that the speaker was a Jap. Those around the table relaxed, and Von Karling leaned forward. “You did well to wait. We don’t want any attention directed to this building. As it is, we have to come in by different entrances.

I wish we could all be Yellow Ghosts!” From the vacant chair came the sound of vague movements then the mocking reply—“I’m afraid that’s impossible, Von Karling. In any case it would be harder to make you invisible than one my size.” There was a spluttering titter from some of the Japs, whereupon the Nazi went red to the collar, thumped the table, and growled—“To business! I’ve had the reports of all the other members on their week’s work. Now it is the turn of the Yellow Ghost.” Again all eyes turned to the vacant chair. Shokaku, sitting quite near, could hear quiet breathing. He was not surprised when with uncanny swiftness a large sealed envelope appeared on the table immediately before the unseen newcomer. It was a though it had been drawn from behind an invisible cloak. One moment it was not there, the next it was in full view, up-curled at one corner as though held by invisible fingers. “I think this is what you wanted,” murmured the Yellow Ghost, and the envelope was sent sliding swiftly along the table in the direction of Von Karling. The Nazi Chief of Intelligence snatched the bulky envelope and slit it open with a paper-knife. The others saw him draw out several closely typed sheets of paper, together with some drawings on thin but tough parchment. He opened these out, then shaped his cruel mouth in a silent whistle. “Phew! It’s the plans and specifications of the new Boeing 77 bomber which the U.S. Government is about to put into production!” “Exactly!” drawled the Yellow Ghost. “I flatter myself that was a good stroke on my part. The six agents you posted in the factory to try to steal those plans have all been arrested by G-men. It was somewhat of a test for me, but—there you are!” Admiration shone in the eyes of those who faced the invisible speaker. The Japs all hissed excitedly, whilst even the Germans muttered under their breath. Von Karling’s face broke in the nearest to a smile that one was likely to see on his grim features. “Excellent! Magnificent! We congratulate you. This will be of great value to us. I don’t know what we would do without your co-operation, my friend. “Well, I don’t know what Germany would do without her Eastern ally,” agreed the Yellow Ghost. “It seems to us you have many tanks and many planes, but not many brains.”

Again there was that giggling hiss of amusement with which all Japs betray their pleasure, and the scowls on the faces of the Nazis deepened. It was obvious there was no love lost between them and their little yellow allies out here in California. Von Karling opened his mouth as though to snarl something, then thought better of it. “Have you anything else to report, Yellow Ghost?” he demanded. “Only this,” came the mysterious voice. “To-morrow afternoon the British and American experts are making a test of the new M.6. mortar out at Grayling’s Fields. There is no need to send anyone else to cover that. I shall be there. Now I will bid you au revoir until next time. Good hunting, comrades!” The chair creaked as it went beck. There was a pause as though a stiff figure was bowing sharply, then the chair was swung aside by an invisible hand and footsteps could be heard making towards the door. Again the key clicked in the lock, again the door swung open, remained so a second or two, then closed softly. A number of sighs went round the room. The tension was relaxed. Men began to mutter. “Marvellous!” exploded Shokaku. “I’ve been sitting almost next to him and did not see a thing. I wonder how he does it.” “Never mind that, Shokaku,” came the rebuke from San Nakano at the lower end of the table. “It is sufficient that our comrade can do it, and that he places his invention at the disposal of the Emperor.” Shokaku hung his head sheepishly and mumbled apology for his excited outburst. Von Karling announced the meeting was closed, and that they would leave at intervals of two minutes, each as far as possible taking a different route to the others. The first man rose and went out through the doorway. He was a German, and paused just inside the room to give the Nazi salute to the picture of the Fuhrer. Every German who followed did the same thing, clicking their heels smartly together.


Shokaku was the tenth to leave. He gained the level of the busy roadway with swift, silent tread, and paused at the top of the steps to light a cigarette whilst he observed the crowded corridor to right and left. Numerous businesses were carried on in this building. There were fifty different concerns with offices on ten different floors. Shokaku strode to an elevator which was going up, and was speedily whirled to the seventh floor, where he visited a stockbroker named Simonds and arranged for the disposal of some oil shares. He still had one of the broker’s printed forms in his hand when later he was brought down to the main hall and followed a crowd out through a doorway on the left. The street outside was typical of that part of San Francisco, packed with workers hurrying to subways of buses in order to get home after their day’s toil. There were Nordic, Latin, and Oriental faces in that crowd. Many thousands of Japs lived in the city, most of them good American subjects. Another more or less attracted no attention. Shokaku melted into the crowd. At the corner he boarded a bus going uptown, and remained on this for more than ten minutes, descending at the busiest part of the city, drifting with the crowd down an immense subway which linked with a similar thoroughfare on the other side. When he had been disgorged from this subway, he climbed on to a bus going in the opposite direction, and remained on it until he was well in the outskirts of ‘Frisco. Somehow his mannerisms had changed. When he had been sitting with the others in that basement meeting room, he had looked ninety per cent Japanese and ten per cent American. Now he looked ninety per cent American and only ten per cent Japanese. His eyes were no longer oblique, but open and straight. He turned without hesitation into the garden entrance of a pleasant looking apartment house, and presently climbed the stairs to the second floor, where he rang the bell of apartment 7. A burly, smiling man with battered face admitted him and slapped him on the back. “How do, Commander! We were expecting you. I bet Lucas you’d be here within the next ten minutes.” He nodded to the lean figure reclining in a chair beside the electric fire. “Do you want to get that yellow muck off your face, or will you report first?” “I’d like to get rid of this stuff,” growled the newcomer, heading for an inner door which led to a small bathroom. “I shan’t be three minutes.” Actually he was four, but when he came out there was no sign of the Jap about him. He looked exactly what he was, a broad-shouldered, thick-set Briton, a man whose skin had been tanned by contact with wind and rain on many seas, a man whose feet had more often trodden a deck than a side-walk. Commander “Dumpy” Blyth of the Royal Navy, had not always been in the British Naval Intelligence Service. He had seen a good deal of duty on destroyers before a certain affair in Shanghai just before the war had proved him to have exceptional ability to take the part of a Jap. His knowledge of the language was perfect, and his rendering of their characteristics and mannerisms so life-like that no one had ever seen through the deception.

It was because of this that he had been drafted to San Francisco to help the G-men and their colleagues clean up the nests of Japanese spies which infested the Pacific Coast. The man who had admitted him was Robert Lewis O’Brien, a G-man with the rank of Captain. Lucas was an assistant district-attorney who had been put in charge of certain investigations in the city. They both looked at the Briton expectantly as he flung himself into a comfortable chair. “You won’t believe me when I tell you. I hardly believe it myself,” he said, “but they’ve got the Boeing 77 plans and specification in their hands, and plan to have someone present at the demonstration of the new mortar to-morrow.” Bob O’Brien leapt to his feet with a growl. There was a good deal of the bulldog about him when he looked like that. “Are they magicians?” he roared. “Almost, or at least one of them is. They have a man they call The Yellow Ghost, undoubtedly a Jap, who is their star turn for spying. The blighter is invisible.” “He’s what?” snapped Lucas, incredulously. “I said invisible—can’t be seen. It’s true. There’s no bunk or ballyhoo about it,” went on the Briton. “I sat at a table with him, no more than six feet away, for nearly ten minutes, and the chair where he was seemed to be empty. The only thing I did notice once or twice was a faint shadow cast by the overhead lights. That gave me the clue. I believe he wears a cloak dyed with such an intense black that no light at all is reflected to the eye. It’s literally impossible to see him. I mean it!” They were silent, and viewed him with suspicion. He rose to his feet, a short and powerful figure. “I’m not kidding. You know there are two theories about how invisibility can be obtained. One is by making something so transparent that all light passes through it and is not reflected to the human eye. The other is by coating something with such a perfect black that it likewise reflects no light. It’s the old story of the flash and the shadow. This Jap has got something near enough perfect along the line of the second method. He’s either coated himself black, or wears a hooded cloak dyed with the stuff. That’s only my theory, but what I saw and heard is definite enough.” He gave a businesslike report of everything that had happened since he had risked his life to enter the secret meeting place of Von Karling’s organisation. The others listened with growing bewilderment and anger. The news that the plans of the Boeing 77 were in enemy hands was bad enough, but it was terrifying to think that an invisible spy was going around who was capable of entering anywhere or stealing any other secret he coverted.

The next time that gang meets, we’ll surround the building and make a clean sweep of them,” declared O’Brien passionately. “Then you’d be crazy!” Commander Blyth told him. “You might get Von Karling, and most of the others, but you wouldn’t get The Yellow Ghost. He’s the one we want. The others can be roped in almost any time, now I’ve got on to their organisation. We’ve got to work to get the wily Jap who has learned how to make himself invisible.” They sat pondering on this while outside newsboys shouted about an American victory in the Solomons. Those three men knew that the Allied war effort would be seriously affected if this new form of spying was allowed to develop. Camouflage was a thing known to all warring nations, but real invisibility was something utterly new, something so fantastic that ordinary European Powers had never even investigated its possibilities. The little yellow men had evidently treated the matter seriously, and undertaken research which had resulted in success. Evidently the Japs had no intention of sharing their secret with their German allies. Blyth had gathered that much from the way they had behaved at the meeting. It was a purely Japanese invention which they intended to keep to themselves. The Germans were jealous of it. They hated being thought inferior to their yellow allies whom one of their leaders had once described as “yellow monkeys.” “maybe there’s a line in that—” broke in Blyth. “As long as I can remain a member of the organisation, and can fool them by taking in scraps of information to prove my genuineness, there’s a chance that I can stir up trouble between the Jap spies and the Nazis. Something may come out of that. Meantime here’s my suggestion for the mortar trials to-morrow. He began to speak, and for the next twenty minutes the three who were responsible for fighting the enemy spy movement on the Pacific Coast discussed how they might trap The Yellow Ghost out at Grayling’s Field. The new mortar was said to be something far in advance of anything else ever made. It was vitally important that enemy agents should not even see the results of the trials. More than a thousand U.S. troops were going to form a cordon round the spot on the morrow, but those three men in the apartment on the outskirts of ‘Frisco doubted whether even this army could keep out The Yellow Ghost.


In uniform, looking utterly unlike Shokaku the Jap, Commander Blyth accompanied several high officials in the car which drove them out to Grayling’s Field the following afternoon. All roads leading to the trial ground had been closed and all traffic diverted. Their passes were inspected six times within the mile, and finally they came to the barbed wire barrier which completely surrounded the area where the test was to take place. A cordon of troops stood outside this barrier. It seemed humanly impossible that any unauthorized person would get through. Grayling’s Field was not a flat meadow. In the centre were huge quarries of great depth, now worked out as regards limestone, but invaluable as a testing ground for guns and explosives. What went on down in those quarries could not be seen from outside the barbed wire barrier. It was impossible for anyone to sit on the roof of a distant house and study the tests as they took place. All that happened would be below eye-level. Another car laden with British and American experts had already assembled at the view-point. The mortar and its supply of shells had been brought in a closed army lorry under strong guard and was standing covered by a tarpaulin. Two sentries marched around it. It really looked as though nothing else could be done to prevent a leakage of information. General Carter, the senior American officer present, was frankly skeptical about The Yellow Ghost. He appeared to be of the opinion that Commander Blyth had been fooled by a clever conjuring trick. He did not interfere with precautions taken, but he did not help in any way. “When we are ready, the tests will begin,” he announced. “Would you like to walk over and view the targets, gentlemen?” Most of those present went with him, but Dumpy Blyth was one of those who remained behind. The tarpaulin-covered mortar appeared to fascinate him. The sentries circled it incessantly. It was not a very big object out there in the open.

Blyth watched it without once allowing his attention to be distracted. He felt in his bones that in spite of all their efforts. The Yellow Ghost was present. Something told him so. Minutes passed, and an officer strode over to speak to one of the sentries, who came rigidly to attention. It was at that moment Blyth saw the bottom edge of the tarpaulin move. It swayed outwards, as though blown out by the wind, then dropped in place again. The Commander at once wet his finger and held it up to test the wind. His mouth tightened grimly when he realised the wind was not strong enough to have moved the tarpaulin, and even if it had, it was blowing from the opposite direction! Yet the heavy tarpaulin had moved. He had seen this with his own eyes. No one had been near it at the time. What had moved it? The conviction grew on him that The Yellow Ghost was already there, lying on his stomach under the tarpaulin, getting a close-up view of the mortar whilst the sentries were unaware of his presence. Blyth edged round behind a clump of bushes which stood not far away, and pulled something from under his tunic. It was a service revolver, but it had been equipped with a silencer. Kneeling down, unseen by anyone, he aimed at the spot where the tarpaulin had moved, and deliberately pulled the trigger twice. Ping! Ping! The bullets struck the base of the mortar and went ricocheting away into the distance, one narrowly missing a sentry, who ducked and looked surprised. Although the revolver had made no sound beyond a hiss, the whine of the bullets had been heard by several of the high officers present. “Someone is shooting at us!” arose the indignant cry. “Who fired these shots?” Blyth took no notice. He was watching the tarpaulin, which dangled almost to the ground. No one else was looking that way at the moment. He saw the edge on the further side swing outwards, and as quick as sight fired again. This time he fancied he heard a faint cry, the tarpaulin bulged as though violently thrust away from an unseen form, then there was a brief glimpse of a shadow in the sunshine, and nothing more could be seen. Blyth thrust his revolver out of sight and ran forward. Almost did he expect to stumble over an unseen body, but his feet found no obstacle. He burst into the crowd of excited officers. “What’s this about firing, sir?” he asked a General. “Maybe the sentries fired at something and there was a ricochet.” He did not want anyone to know he was the culprit. Although looking at the officer he was addressing, his attention was elsewhere. He had seen a bush suddenly flattened about thirty yards to the right. There had been no apparent reason for this. He would have opened fire on the spot, but some soldiers came running across his line of vision a moment later. He dared not fire. Instead he raised a whistle to his lips and blew a loud blast. It was the signal he had arranged with Bob O’Brien and the others who were in the secret of the plans made overnight. Not even the highest officers there had known just what had been arranged. On the windward side of the field a score of hidden smoke-bombs were exploded, giving off a dense curtain of black smoke which rolled across the ground and into the quarries. Cries of astonishment came from General Carter and the others. “What is the meaning of this? Are we to be choked to death?” demanded the irate Carter. “Is this your doing, Commander?” “Partly, sir. I suggest you all stop here and put on your gas-masks. They will protect you against the smoke for a time at least. The Yellow Ghost is in the field, and all the exits are closed. The smoke will curtain everything and make it impossible for him to see his way out. We’ve an idea that might help us. We know exactly where everything is, and he doesn’t. Excuse me, sir!”

Before the astounded officers could reply, Commander Blyth had started to run his hardest towards the only exit. He was well ahead of the rolling smokescreen, which was getting thicker and thicker. He paused only once, and that was to look down at the grass near where a bush had been so mysteriously flattened. A grunt of satisfaction escaped him. He saw a few drops of fresh blood on the leaves. Not all his shots had gone wide. He had not wounded the ghost man severely, but he had at least nicked him. That blood trail might come in helpful later on. Reaching the entrance, which had been closed by many coils of barbed wire, and which was now blocked by a solid rank of soldiers with fixed bayonets, he gave them brief instructions, then whipped out his own gas-mask and put it over his head. The smoke was almost on them. In a few moments he and the soldiers would be hidden in it. The men followed his example with the mask, but not for a moment did they uncover the gateway. Outside waited O’Brien and his special squad of G-men. No loophole had been left for the trapped man. Blyth did not believe for a moment that The Yellow Ghost would have brought a gas-mask. There was no reason why he should have thought of such a thing. He would be helpless in that smoke, unable to see, and hardly able to breathe. He would be almost choked as he blundered about blindly. That was what Commander Blyth hoped. The smoke arrived. It passed over and around the guardians of the gate, shutting out everything. From the centre of the field came indignant protests from some of the officers, but they all had their gas-masks. There was no real reason why they should suffer. Blyth waited tensely. Somewhere to his right he heard wheezing and coughing, spluttering and sneezing. He grinned. Unless he was mistaken, that was The Yellow Ghost, already in difficulties. Then he heard someone mutter fiercely as a wire twanged. The Yellow Ghost had blundered into the cordon of wire. Even his invisibility would not enable him to pass through that. He would have to make for a gap, and all had been closed. Commander Blyth advanced silently towards the noises, but they ceased a few moments later. He wondered if The Yellow Ghost was holding his breath. It seemed impossible that any man could breathe midst such a fog of smoke. Arms outstretched, stepping first to the right and then to the left, Blyth tried to cover as much ground as possible. He longed to get to grips with the wily Jap. Once he got a hold on him, invisibility or otherwise, he meant to hold on and knock the fellow unconscious. The thought thrilled him. If he did that the invention of the cloak of invisibility would fall into Allied hands. It would be of inestimable value. It would— Sudden uproar and yelling from the centre of the field was followed by the sound of a shot, then the voice of someone bawling loudly—“Be careful! There’s a stranger in the field. Someone has stunned General Carter from behind and taken his gas-mask!” Commander Blyth groaned inside his own protective mask. He might have known The Yellow Ghost would not be choked while there were gas-masks to be obtained. The higher officers had talked so much that the invisible man had been able to guess exactly where they were. He could now defy the smoke in the General’s mask, but he was not yet out of the field.


The Yellow Ghost 14 episodes appeared in Adventure issues 1081 - 1094 (1943)

© D. C. Thomson & Co Ltd

Vic Whittle 2007