A wagon arrives in Talpa, covered in mystical symbols, and the owner Dr. Walter Trump bangs on a drum and calls everyone out. When the townspeople gather, Walter says that he brings them an important message to save them from the end of the world. He doesn't expect the sheriff to believe, but invites everyone else to come tonight to hear his message on how to save themselves from the world ending in flames at midnight. With that, Walter disappears in a puff of smoke.
Later that day, Hoby rides into Talpa. A man advises him to keep riding because the town will be destroyed at midnight. Hoby doesn't believe him and goes into the saloon to order a cup of coffee. The saloon girl, Dora McHenry, comes over and asks if he's staying long. Hoby asks why everyone is acting strangely, and Dora says that the world is going to end that night. She points out Walter, sitting in the back talking with the town sheriff, Chet Farrow. Hoby is understandably skeptical, and Xxx explains that Walter is going to give them the whole story that night.
Hoby comes over and tells Farrow that he's heading back to Porter. The Ranger brings up the subject of the end of the world, and Walter says that he's a Doctor of the Universe, Master of Cometry, and Student of Stellar Reaction. According to his calculations, the Earth will collide with a comet and the outcome will be disaster. Walter shows them a piece of iron ore that he claims is a meteorite, and warns that they will rain down on Earth. He says that he can stop them because they're drawn to Earth by gravity, and he has discovered how to repel that force with a device that he sells. Hoby asks Farrow when he's going to arrest Walter, saying that he's a conman, and Walter threatens to sue. Walter offers to go, and Farrow stops him and asks Hoby if he can prove Walter is wrong. Hoby admits that it will take some time, and Farrow orders him to move on.
Hoby goes to see the town judge, W.E. Clement. Clement figures that Hoby is there about Walter, and says that he can't do anything until he has proof. He warns that Walter isn't guilty of fraud, and says that a shower of meteorites is due. Clement tells Hoby that nothing will change the townspeople's mind, and someone trying to try might get hurt.
That night, Walter holds a meeting in the street and says that he can build a wall around Talpa. He shows them an umbrella inscribed with mystic symbols, and explains that the symbols bring up magnetic forces that repel the meteorites. Attached to the umbrella is a metal washer and Walter says that the metal was mined in the Andes Mountains. It was refined into "magnetium" and the washer will take care of the animals. Hoby arrives and says Walter is a liar, and Walter points up to the sky. The townspeople claim that they can see meteorites, but Hoby says that they're imagining things.
Walter takes out a metal rod and jams it into a barrel, and says that it's no longer under his protection. He claims that he was going to give it to them for free but now that there's a doubter, he will charge them: $50 a piece. When Hoby questions him, Walter raises the price and the townspeople tell Hoby to shut up. The barrel explodes into flames and the townspeople take out their money over Hoby's protests. When they don't have enough, they offer Walter their personal artifacts but he demands hard cash.
The people panic and break into the bank to get the money. Farrow buys his own repeller and figures that Talpa won't be standing in the morning. Hoby comes over with a shotgun and asks what Farrow plans to do about the mob. When Farrow says that he's no hero, Hoby tells him to take off his badge and then rips it off himself. Hoby then goes into the bank and fires a warning shot, and gives them ten seconds to get out. One man hits knocks him out with a rock, and the townspeople get the banker and force him to open the safe. Hoby wakes up and goes to the saloon.
At the saloon, Clement is pouring himself a drink. Hoby admits that he was bluffing, and Clement figures that Walter will get the credit when the town doesn't burn down. Meanwhile, Walter is packing up to leave on a fresh horse. Hoby decides to stop him and confirms that the con man isn't at his wagon. The Ranger finds Walter packing and puts him under arrest for grand theft and fraud. Walter offers him $1,250 to let him go, and then $2,500. Hoby refuses and Walter hands over the money, and Hoby says that Walter is going to go back and tell the townspeople that he's a fake.
As Hoby takes Walter out, Farrow orders them both at gunpoint to stop. Walter claims that he was on the way, but Farrow says that he doesn't need Walter alive anymore and orders Hoby to hand over the money. When Walter goes for them, Farrow shoots him and Hoby knocks Farrow down. Hoby figures that Farrow and Walter were in it together, and drags him back to Walter's wagon.
At the wagon, Farrow confesses that he was working with Walter. Hoby demonstrates how Walter used a piece of phosphorous to set the barrel on fire. The townspeople, holding their parasols still aren't convinced, and Hoby tosses his down. Finally the other townspeople drop theirs as well, and nothing happens. Clement and the townspeople take Farrow away, and Dora congratulates Hoby. She points out that if Hoby was wrong, she didn't have a parasol.
Written by Gadfly on Jan 8, 2017