Agent Colson briefs the team on their mission: They must attempt to locate Edward Logan, the missing teenage son of wealthy industrialist Otis Logan, the owner and CEO of the Logan National Watch Company.
The factory itself is located in Buffalo, and is an important source of jobs and tax revenue for the city, so Hoover has acquiesced to Logan’s request that a special team be sent after the agents originally dispatched to the city came up empty-handed and concluded that the kid ran away.
Colson tells the team that there were a couple of rumors uncovered in relation to the case: the first is that the watch factory itself was haunted and/or cursed. The second is that there may be Communist involvement, as Logan worked with Soviet watch-makers during the war.
So the team heads up to Buffalo to investigate, though the Doctor is given permission to stay behind to complete a particularly delicate experiment. They pile into one of Lianna’s big sedans, with Walter driving, and make the day-long drive, arriving in late afternoon.
Eileen calls the Logan residence and speaks with the Logans’ maid Mary, who tells them that Logan has been expecting someone from the Bureau, and that they should be at the factory at 10:17 AM promptly for a meeting with Otis. Eileen tells her to expect ‘Miss Carlson’ and ‘Miss Amsel’.
They find lodging at a local hotel and head out to find some dinner. They arrive at a local diner where they eat dinner, but eventually engage a couple of the locals in conversation, Walt Kozlowski and Stan Bromowitcz. Walt is a steel worker, and Stan works at Logan. Walt chats up Lianna, who introduces herself as Anna, and Stan is a little flabbergasted to learn that Billie is a minor. After a pleasant enough conversation, Walter blurts out a question about the missing kid, causing Stan to panic and flee along with Walt. They let them go, and settle down for the night in the hotel.
The next morning, they set out for the factory and it turns out to be pretty huge, down by the lakeshore, with a number of entrances and a gargantuan four-faced clock that seems to tell perfect time. They park in the VIP parking spots and enter, still over an hour early.
Eileen has done some research into the local news sources: The Buffalo Evening News, the city’s right-leaning paper, has a crime reporter, Kenny Griffith, a grizzled veteran of the crime beat, and a young but cynical union reporter, Glenn McKinney. The left-leaning Buffalo Courier-Express employs a former NYC cop, Joe Syzmanski, as their crime reporter, and a disabled former factory worker named Mike Gendroznik as their Union reporter.
Eileen and Billy enter the factory to see that the place is immacualte, with large clocks on the walls keeping perfect time and a neatly-dressed receptionist on duty, Gladys Wilkins. Gladys has been with the company for over 25 years, and has the engraved punctuality award to show for it. She summons a tour guide for the Agents to help them pass the time, and a very polished and handsome executive named Don Haskins emerges form the elevator to show them around, but not before Eileen takes notice of the odd acoustics of the building, with the clocks all seeming to tick at exactly the same time…
Meanwhile, Walter and Lianna have walked around the corner to one of the local lunch counters that serves the factory. The Tic Toc Luncheonette proves to be a gathering place for retired factory workers. A group of them play cards in one of the back booths, and Walter managed to strike up a conversation with Old Stosh, the most talkative of the bunch. Lianna deeply ingratiates herself with the waitress, Gertrude, who slips her a drink and some local rumors.
Through conversation, Walter learns that ‘Old Man Logan’,as the men refer to Otis is very strict on the matter of punctuality, and that the factory shifts seem to begin and end at odd times. The rules for attendance are pretty draconian, but none of the workers seem to find this unusual or unfair, and agree it’s important to be on time, no excuses. All show off the fancy wristwatches they earned for many years of dedicated and punctual service.
There doesn’t seem to be a whistle or chime of any kind, but another waitress walks in and suits up just a few minutes before the workers who just got off-shift start to arrive at the luncheonette, and Haskins begins his tour of the factory…