Synopsis of The Befuddlement of Flash Mahogany
We begin with a dark and gray morning at the New York City Gazette with Flash Mahogany, a self-absorbed reporter, waiting for news to come to him. He never could have imagined what was actually headed his way.
Flash is suddenly drawn into an adventure transcending time and space in which he is contacted by a Doctor Timothy Bison. Doctor Bison is the inventor of the Plasma Bolt Transporter which has inadvertently transported the Doctor and his wife, Kathleen, to an alternate reality.
Doctor Bison explains to Flash that time moves as a river and at times, choices are made or events occur which split realities like a branch in a river. The same water flows down the rivers but they have different courses to follow. In these branches, Flash, Doctor Bison and someone named Ogg Matterhorn, are indeed the same physical person just each on a separate course.
Somehow, through the plasma device, the three men have been linked to one another as have Kathleen and her counterparts, Elpis and Jane. The three women are linked as well but Jane Diggery is unaccounted for, thus, Flash must find her and explain why she must come with him to help build another plasma device.
Through deductive reasoning and hard work, (and an old wooden cigar box) all six of them end up in Flash’s office. Flash and Jane’s device is damaged and must be repaired.
Enter Draven Wormwood, Flash’s editor. He storms into the room and is recognized by all three men. To Flash, of course, he was Wormwood. To Doc Bison, he was Professor Niore and to Ogg, he was Commodore Helleborne. Wormwood was a nasty, evil man and all three knew it.
He steals the device and kidnaps Kathleen. Then finds his alter egos and they concoct a plan to rule the world in all three realities. They end up with all three women and the plasma device built in Ogg’s world where New York is called Upper Congo.
Flash and his counterparts must steal an airship, the fastest ship in the seven skies, rescue the ladies and retrieve the device before they are all stranded in this world forever. Along the way, Flash begins to see that there may actually be more to these other people than he ever imagined possible.
They are able to rescue the ladies but must still search for the device or build another one. Building another device turns out to be impossible so, once again, the search is on.
Flash begins to notice that he is having feelings for Elpis but she is from another reality. How can he be falling for someone he can never be with? But, isn’t that human, to want that which one cannot have?
When they find the device, the Wormwoods have already used it to move to Doc’s world where, New York is New London. They quickly follow and find that the device in this world had been stolen.
They chase the culprits through the countryside trying to find the device before it can be used again. Flash begins to have a newfound respect for his counterparts. He finds them to be far more amazing than he ever gave them credit for.
Alas they once again find it has been used and that the plan for domination involves New York and Edison’s burned out Pearl Street Power Station, the world’s first steam powered electrical generator.
Flash grabbed the cigar box which was now in all three realities and slid it into his long coat. They chased the villains through New York. Flash noticed the city changing before him. Things were getting confused between worlds or he was seeing things different than he ever had before.
The story culminates in the Pearl Street Station, when the villains threaten the ladies and Ogg pulls his pistol killing all three villains, however all three plasma devices from all three worlds are there and go off simultaneously while pointed at each other.
The machines continue to switch places and times until there is a swirling vortex of realities. Flash watches as Elpis, Kathleen and Jane are pulled into the darkness. He quickly finishes the journal of the events he has experienced, drops it into the cigar box and everything goes black and silent.
Time indeed flows like a river and has gone around an island in the stream returning unto itself. We all remember a collection of our memories from all three realities. We wouldn’t know that there were three different realities if not for the journal found in a cigar box, a chronicle of a doctor and his wife, a journalist, an explorer, a storyteller and a goddamn pirate.
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