"I wonder how hard it would be to outfit one of those Packards with my black-light rays," Sandra Knight led her friend through the crowd until they reached an empty space. The two women looked slightly out of place amongst all the men, dressed in their dresses and hats, Sandra's casual elegance offset by Dianne's quirky style.
"Shouldn't be too hard I should think," Dianne Grayton smoothed down her striped dress, positioning her hat closer over her strawberry blonde hair. "I imagine you could wire it somehow, so you can choose between traditional headlights and black lights. You wouldn't want to blind someone unintentionally." She frowned. "I was surprised you didn't want to see the science exhibits."
"Maybe later," Sandra admitted. "You didn't have to come with me, Dianne, I wouldn't have minded if you'd spent the rest of the day at the Fair without me."
"What fun would that be?" Dianne smiled. "You dragged me on this trip to Chicago so we could spend some time together, remember?”
"I've been a terrible traveling companion this trip, haven't I?" Sandra apologized. "Maybe I should give up being Phantom Lady. I started all this to help Dad. But it's not like I went looking for trouble."
"You can't quit now," Dianne exclaimed, "Think of all the people you've helped, lives you've saved." She added. "I was relieved when you mentioned this excursion. The World’s Fair has frankly bored me to tears so far."
Sandra frowned. "You didn’t enjoy the wild animal exhibit?"
"Oh, they were swell," Dianne scowled, "if you liked monkeys." She wrinkled her nose in disgust. “I learned more as a docent at the Natural History museum last summer. At least they had that new spider exhibit. No black widows, mind you, but some of what I learned was fascinating." Dianne's unusual ability to control black widow spiders had transformed her into the terrifying Spider Widow. To supplement her instinctive knowledge, Dianne started spending time at the local zoos and museums. "So why are we at the airport? Did your father decide to come after all?"
Sandra shook her head, "No, he couldn't get away from Washington. I feel guilty as it is being able to travel when so many others... can't." She continued swiftly. "The Graf Zeppelin is putting in an appearance at the World's Fair today. I just wanted a look at her up close."
"So we came all this way to see a silly old airship?" Dianne asked. "The Goodyear Blimp was on the fairgrounds. You could even take a ride on it."
"That's a blimp, not an airship."
"Still you can see them all the time going to land in Lakehurst. That's loads closer than Chicago."
"I have my reasons for being here," Sandra admitted, "Call it hedging my bets."
"Are you expecting problems?" Dianne asked. "Wasn't one lost earlier this year?" The USS Akron had encountered severe weather conditions off the coast of New Jersey, killing seventy-three men. "I don't really get the appeal of them. I'd sooner let Tony fly me in his biplane than trust one of those silver contraptions."
"You mean, when you're not outflying Tony yourself?" Sandra couldn't help teasing Dianne good-naturedly about her sometime boyfriend. Her competitiveness had driven away any number of would-be suitors, but Tony Grey stuck around, intrigued rather than intimidated. "The German ones are quite safe. My cousin couldn't stop raving when he flew from South America last season. No one has quite been able to duplicate their success."
"But safety isn't what has you worried, " Dianne stated.
Sandra bit her lip, frowning. "Not exactly." She checked her watch again. "The Graf should have landed by now. I wonder what is keeping her…"
"Maybe they're getting a late start from Akron," an elderly gentleman nearby offered. "I heard they didn't land until early morning."
"Do you know why?" Sandra turned towards the gentleman, surprised by this news. "Last I heard they were due much earlier."
"Heard there was a stowaway," one man said.
"Nah, 'twas a fussy wee bairn on board," another one countered.
"The nonsense you both say, the winds were just bad, so Eckener was being careful," his friend finished. "Don't you go fretting, miss, the Graf should be here soon. She'll be a grand sight to behold on a day like this." He doffed his hat to the two ladies before wandering away.
The murmuring crowd pointed towards the sky. Gleaming silver, the LZ-127 floated towards its mooring location, dropping water ballast to help it descend to the ground. The ropes dropped to the ground where Army soldiers waited to hold the Graf Zeppelin down for her short stay in Chicago before she returned to Akron for refueling for her journey back to Germany. Slowly but surely, the mighty airship descended to the ground. A mild gasp went through one of the onlookers, pointing to the prominent red, white and black insignia visible on the tailfins.
"So Dad was right," Sandra mused aloud. "I thought he'd been worrying over nothing. But if they're painting that..."
"I've been seeing it a lot lately, " Dianne lowered her voice."Some of my New York friends actually agree with what Hitler is saying."
"Dad's colleagues in Washington are skittish about the new regime, even worried about the Graf flying here. Accidents do happen, especially when they're filled with flammable hydrogen gas."
"You don't think someone would...?" Dianne's eyes widened, imagining the fiery destruction.
Sandra shook her head, "I don't know, but I knew I couldn't leave it to chance." She couldn't take her eyes off the silver airship. "I just wanted to be here in case someone was needed."
"Some dilettante you are," Dianne teased. "You keep on thinking you can quit anytime, Sandra Knight, but you're just as committed to crime fighting as I am." Dianne added. "We may not be needed today, but something tells me we will be in the future."
Both looked at the Graf with unease, sensing a storm coming.