Tom Swift in the Caves of Nuclear Fire

Tom Swift in the Caves of Nuclear Fire by Victor Appleton II Read Free Book Online

Book: Tom Swift in the Caves of Nuclear Fire by Victor Appleton II Read Free Book Online
Authors: Victor Appleton II
friend Bashalli and join the hunt as well.
    Mrs. Swift began a motherly protest: "Now Sandra, dear, there’s no point in—"
    "Mother, it’s not dangerous—we’re just going to drive around and see if we catch sight of him somewhere," Sandy interrupted. "And besides—I’m a Swift!"
    "You sure are!" nodded Sandy’s mother. "And so am I— which is why I’ll be joining you and Bashi in the car."
    "You can’t leave me out of this hunt," said Craig, starting after the others.
    "Wait!" Tom protested. "You’d better stay here, Craig."
    "Why?" asked the flier. "Doc Simpson told me I was all right."
    "I realize that," he replied, "but he also advised you not to exert yourself for another week. Do it as a favor, okay?"
    Craig, disappointed, watched the mob hurry from the house. It was decided that Mr. Swift would take the large family sedan, Bud and Tom would take Bud’s convertible, the women would use Tom’s own sports car, leaving Chow with his pickup truck.
    "And let’s maintain ‘radio silence’ on our cellphones, unless there’s a real emergency," Tom urged. "Hoplin probably has people listening in, and we don’t want to alert him." The several cars then worked out which areas of Shopton they would each cover.
    As Tom took the wheel of the scarlet convertible, Bud said, "Where do we start?"
    Tom surmised that all the surrounding areas, except the locale of the Swift home, which sat at the edge of a large suburban wooded area, would be avoided by Hoplin in order to stay clear of the Shopton police and out of the public eye. "We’ll let the others cover those places. Our best bet," he said, "would be to search right here, close to home."
    "Sure," Bud nodded. "I have an idea those men are watching every move we make. Let’s smoke ’em out!"
    They cruised around the tree-arched roads near the house, which of course were also in close proximity to Swift Enterprises. As the family had eaten an early supper it was still a bright twilight, and easy to see. Nothing suspicious was revealed. Minutes stretched into an hour, and the shadows lengthened. Soon the youths found themselves back in the vicinity of the house.
    "One more road," said Tom as he turned the car into a little-used rural lane. "We’ll drive through here," he announced. "If we don’t find anybody, I suggest we go back to the house and check to see if there’s any report from the police."
    "Getting dark now," Bud complained. "We could use night-vision goggles." Having strained his eyes, Bud slumped back for a moment to rest. Then, suddenly, he sat upright. "Tom!" he called. "Swing our lights around to nine o’clock low!"
    Tom spun the nose of the convertible to the left side of the lane and angled the narrow shafts of light in the direction indicated. The glare revealed a man loping across a small clearing. No longer hidden by the deepening night, he bolted toward a heavy cluster of trees and brush.
    "He looks like Hoplin!" Tom cried out.
    Killing the ignition, he leapt from the car, with Bud following. They lost sight of the suspect when he got out of range of the lights, but they could hear him crashing through the thickets just ahead.
    The boys whipped out flashlights and raced after the man. The woods became more dense the farther they went.
    "Whoop!" Bud tripped and tumbled down a shallow ravine. Stunned but unhurt, he scrambled to his feet. Tom stopped to make sure that his friend was all right.
    "Never mind me!" Bud shouted. "Keep after that guy!"
    But the slight delay had been costly. Now the flashlights no longer picked up the fugitive. The boys forged ahead for some distance, but Hoplin had disappeared.
    "It’s no use looking any more," Tom admitted in disgust. "I’m afraid that we lost this round, Bud. But it proves one thing. Hoplin is still in the neighborhood."
    Fatigued by the wild chase, he and Bud trudged out of the woods and back toward the car. But before they reached it, Tom grabbed his pal’s arm and whispered, "Look over

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