Sunday, December 30, 2007


The garbage ship departed. For almost a week it plowed slowly through the ocean, toward Denmark, its final (and only) destination. As the ship neared Denmark, John became so anxious that he had trouble containing it, just as the ship could barely contain the trash it carried. It was an interesting parallel.

“You know Bill, the other day I was thinking about my father. He was a good king,” recollected John one morning. “Nobody subjugated like he subjugated. Oh, you should’ve seen the way he used to subjugate; he was the finest subjugator in the land! He’s the one that inspired me to become a mailman.”

“Really?” asked Bill.

“No,” replied John. “No, I was lying. You’re not worth telling the truth to. Hey Mischa! Get over here; we need to discuss strategy for when we arrive in Denmark. I have a feeling it might be rather difficult to assassinate the king, what with laws and security and all.”

“Good thinking, Comrade! I was just drawing up a battle plan,” said Mischa, holding up a piece of paper.

On it were scribbled a bunch of complicated diagrams that nobody could possibly understand. In crayon.

“I don’t know what these are supposed to be. They’re crap!” criticized John. “Besides, this mission will require far more than mere diagrams.”

As Mischa pondered what John had said thoughtfully, a siren suddenly began to wail. An announcement came over the ship’s intercom system, which was noteworthy, since the ship didn’t have an intercom system.

“Attention all passengers, we have just spotted a pirate ship. An update: it has apparently already begun to board us. You know, in retrospect, we probably should’ve posted a lookout or something, someone who could notify us about these things before it’s too late. Well, you know what they say: hindsight’s 20/20. Now we know better; this is a valuable lesson for all of us. That is all.”

“Crap! Pirates!” exclaimed John. “I had a feeling this would happen. All right guys, when I was in postman school, they taught us how to deal with pirates. Unfortunately, I cut class that day, because I doubted I’d ever need to deal with pirates. I guess we’re stuck.”

Mischa looked scared, but Bill, far from being frightened, was positively elated. Ever since the age of four, he’d wished daily that he were a pirate.

“Oh boy! I can’t believe I’m really gonna meet some –”

“Aarrrggg, matey!” came the gruff, guttural grunt of an unmistakable pirate. “We be in control of this vessel now! My name be Magentabeard, and I be the captain of The Pirate Ship, my pirate ship.”

“Your ship is called The Pirate Ship? That’s a little unimaginative, don’t you think?” asked John.

“I’ll be askin’ the questions here, matey!” rebuked Magentabeard. “Now, we have no use for a garbage ship, but we could sure as treasure use the three of you for slave labor! Come with me!”

John, Bill and Mischa followed Magentabeard off of the garbage ship and onto The Pirate Ship. John was a bit peeved, as he thought this would interfere with his journey to Denmark; Mischa was terrified, the pirates reminding him of Josiah; and Bill was, as I said before, very happy.

The ship was massive, far larger than the garbage vessel. It also seemed to be about three hundred years old. It was the perfect stereotype of a pirate ship: crow’s nest, pirate flag, the works. Bill nearly fainted with joy.

“Here’s the rest of me crew,” said the pirate. “That be Ron Goldstein, me first mate.”

“Hello everyone, it’s wonderful to meet you.”

“There’s Bjorn. We picked him up in Sweden,” continued Magentabeard.

“I’m a Viking!”

“Bjorn isn’t fitting in too well. And that guy over there be Plank Walkin’ Pete! Say hello to the men, Pete,” ordered Magentabeard.

“Uh, hi. I’m Pete,” said Pete.

“How’d you get the name Plank Walkin’ Pete?” asked John. “Do you walk planks often?”

“Oh no, I haven’t walked one yet. That’s just a joke between me and the guys. I’m sure I’ll never really have to walk one,” answered Pete.

“We’re makin’ him walk at noon. We’re havin’ pizza! So, now that ye know the crew, it’s time to get down to your slavery! Swab the decks!” commanded Magentabeard.

“No thanks, we’d rather eat,” said John, turning around and walking hungrily toward the galley.

“Okay, well, suit yourselves!”

Friday, December 28, 2007


John, Bill, and Mischa were at the docks, trying to find a ship that was going to Denmark. They didn’t expect their hunt to last long, as there were only two ships there. Both, incidentally, were going to Denmark.

Their logic for traveling by sea as opposed to flying, which was much quicker, was that Josiah probably had bribed and coerced most airlines into obeying his orders, and they didn’t want to deal with another Captain Arousing. So it's not a plot hole.

“Well, this free luxury cruise ship leaves in an hour, but I don’t feel like waiting that long. Let’s hitch a ride aboard that garbage vessel,” said John, as Bill and Mischa nodded.

The three gathered up their possessions (nobody had brought anything, so this didn’t take very long) and set off for the garbage ship, a good thirty second walk away. Twenty minutes later, they arrived.

Walking up the boarding ramp confidently, they attempted to gain entry into the ship but were stopped by a burly security guard, who told them that nobody but trained garbage men were permitted to enter.

“I’m a garbage man!” said Bill. “I’m Bill Williams.”

The security guard did a double take, spitting out his water in surprise which, in turn, greatly surprised John and Mischa, as he hadn’t been drinking any water.

“The Bill Williams? The famous Bill Williams? The Bill Williams who once crashed a garbage truck into the White House because he thought it was a giant ice cream truck for some reason? WOW! I never thought I’d meet you. This – this is the greatest thrill of my life! Welcome aboard!” he gushed, standing aside so Bill could walk in.

John and Mischa attempted to follow, but the guard moved back into position, blocking them.

“Sorry boys, Bill’s a garbage man – hell, he’s the garbage man! – but you gentlemen have to go back,” he ordered. “There are things on this ship you wouldn’t be able to handle. Mostly garbage.”

“I’ll have you know that I am a US postal worker!” argued John. “I’m more than qualified to board this vessel. If you let that idiot through, I demand you allow me to pass.”

“Yes, and I am a Russian immigrant, with low self-esteem!” added Mischa. “So…let me pass too!”

“No and no. I hate the postal service and I have an unnatural fear of Russians. Leave before I beat you,” commanded the guard, pushing John and Mischa back.

He let go of them when they were back on the dock. Then, turning around, he walked up the ramp, boarded the ship and sealed the entrance shut, welding it with his heat vision. John and Mischa were stuck.

“What do we do now, Comrade?” asked Mischa dejectedly.

“We’ll have to sneak in somehow,” said John. “But I don’t see how we…ah ha! I have an idea. Just follow my lead, Mischa.”

One minute later, John (dressed to perfection in his mailman uniform) and Mischa (who hadn’t changed anything) marched up the solid oak ramp and knocked on the door, which the same burly security guard answered.

“Yes?” he asked.

“I need to deliver a package,” said John. “And, uh, so does my assistant.”

“All right then, come on through,” said the guard, moving aside for them to pass.

“That was easy,” remarked John as he took off his hat and set it down on a nearby table. “Now we need to find Bill and prepare for what lies ahead.”

“And what would that be, Comrade?”


Wednesday, December 26, 2007


But Josiah Malum cared about John – very much so. And not in a good way either. No, he cared about John in a very bad way. Josiah wanted him dead, and he would stop at nothing to see that it happened.

The betrayal of Mischa was viewed by Josiah as merely another inconvenience. As little as Josiah liked Mischa, he trusted him even less; he’d secretly planted a microphone on him months ago to ensure that he was informed of everything that went on around his assistant.

When he found out about Mischa’s going apostate, Josiah was at first angry (“Nobody betrays Josiah Malum!”), then relieved (“I did hate him though”). After all, with Mischa gone, he could hold auditions for a new Deputy Secretary of Evil, a prospect which greatly excited him.

Unfortunately, they didn’t go quite as well as he’d planned. Even after Josiah put up flyers all over Washington, nobody showed up, leaving him cruelly and irrevocably alone, sitting in his cavernous Pentagon office sipping brandy.

“Josiah!” he yelled to himself, no one else being available, “you need to stop that mailman! And punish Mischa for betraying you! And finish off the NBA! And carry out the rest of your evil plan!”

“Don’t you tell me what to do, you rentsy little –”

“How dare you call me rentsy? I’m not rentsy; you’re rentsy!”

“You’re calling me rentsy, you rentsy piece of –”

“You don’t even know the definition of the word rentsy!”

After taking a break to look up the word rentsy (of, related to, or exhibiting flamboyant eccentricity), Josiah tried to resume his shouting match with himself. But realizing how pointlessly futile it was, he sighed in defeat, pouring himself another glass and lighting up a cigarette.

“It’s just not the same without Mischa,” he lamented. “Oh well, I’ll just have to do now what I did before: kidnap someone and force him to be my assistant.”

Marching happily into the streets of Washington, taser in hand, Josiah started looking for potential victims. Humming to himself, he savagely electrocuted the first man that crossed his path, who just so happened to be Sanchez.

“Only Josiah Malum’s taser has such a high voltage,” thought Sanchez as he hit the ground, then turned around to find Josiah standing above him triumphantly.

“You!” yelled Josiah, recognizing his foe and preparing to zap Sanchez again.

“Yes. Me,” said Sanchez as he picked himself up, shrugging off the next jolt as it if were nothing.

Astonished, Josiah dropped the taser, which Sanchez, moving forward threateningly, crushed beneath his foot. It was very intimidating.

“Josiah Malum, you have just witnessed my secret power: after I am electrocuted by a taser during the second week of March on a leap year, I cannot be harmed by any subsequent shocks,” he explained. “I do not know why. But now, I am afraid I must kill you.”

Josiah calmly reached into his pocket and withdrew a fresh pack of cigarettes. He showed no fear, despite the situation, slowly taking a cigarette out and lighting it.

“Not today, Mr. – whatever your last name is. Not today,” he said.

Josiah leapt into the air, right into a waiting helicopter that Sanchez had somehow failed to notice. Laughing maniacally and throwing his cigarette out the window, he flew away, beyond the reach of anyone confined to the ground.

But Sanchez was not confined to the ground. Switching on his jetpack, Sanchez rocketed into the air, flying speedily after Josiah’s helicopter.

“I will pursue this helicopter to the ends of the earth. Or until I run out of fuel. Hmm…the latter seems far more likely to happen, now that I think about it. I knew I should have put more than a dollar’s worth of gas in here,” said Sanchez as his jetpack gave a feeble sputter and died.

Seconds later, Sanchez met the same fate. Well, he didn’t really sputter...but he did die.

The NBA was now down to one.

Monday, December 24, 2007


Two weeks later, John, Bill and Mischa arrived back in the United States. Having swum from Antarctica, they were very tired and had all contracted rather nasty cases of hypothermia, so they were understandably looking forward to warm, comfy beds.

The first thing they did upon their arrival was to seek out a hotel. They found one relatively quickly in a nice little hamlet they spotted, though Bill did hold them up a bit, what with his insistence on talking to and singing for everyone they passed.

When they arrived at the hotel, they found that, tragically, they only had enough money to buy one room; and this one room had only two beds. You do the math. It’s pretty simple math. I mean, I could do it, if I wanted to. But I don’t.

“No, no, NO! There is absolutely no way I’m going to sleep in the same bed as Bill. I’d rather die,” protested John, not exaggerating at all.

“But Comrade, I must have a bed to myself! It is my tradition,” argued Mischa.

“Tradition? That’s the worst, most poorly thought out lie I’ve ever heard! Oh, fine, just forget it; I’ll sleep on the floor,” said John.

Bill, now jumping vigorously on the bed, said, “Are you sure John? It’s really big!”

“So is my brain, but you don’t see me sleeping in that with you,” retorted John. “Let’s just get through this night so we can fly back home tomorrow.”

“But we don’t have wings!” argued Bill.

“You’re an idiot.”

“Goodnight, Comrades!”

“Oh, shut up.”

Bill and Mischa woke up the following morning at 8:00 - but John was already up, because a strange, oddly familiar dream had kept him lying awake all night.

Against his best judgment, he decided that he would tell somebody at breakfast. Eating his bowl of gruel (this was a cheap hotel), John turned to Mischa.

“I had an interesting dream last night,” he said.

“Really? What happened?” asked Bill, to whom John clearly wasn’t talking.

Turning to Bill irritably, John said, “I was visited by a ghost.”

“Was it Flapjack?” asked Bill. “He comes to me all the time! Just yesterday he told me to –”

“No, Bill, not Flapjack! Flapjack isn’t real. There’s no such thing as ghosts. But yeah, this ghost I dreamt about? I think it was the real thing,” replied John. “Remember how I told you my father was the King of Denmark, but then he died mysteriously and my Uncle Claudius took over?”

“No,” said Bill.

“Yeah, well, he did. Anyway, the ghost that visited me last night was my father. He told me that Uncle Claudius is the one that killed him, and that I have to get revenge,” said John.

“Comrade, do you really think the ghost of your father actually came to you?” questioned Mischa. “I mean, you said yourself that it was a dream.”

“Indeed I did, Mischa, but if I know one thing (and I’m pretty sure I do), it’s that my dreams are always accurate. Well, there’s no evidence to support that, actually, but I’m sure it's true. Regardless, I think I should go to Denmark anyway just to check this situation out,” answered John. "If nothing else, it'll move the plot forward. You're welcome to come with me, Mischa.”

“What about me, John? Bill?”

“Is your name Mischa?”

“No, I’m Bill. Bill Williams! I’m a garbage –”

“I KNOW WHO YOU ARE! I was just feigning sardonic ignorance to emphasize the fact that you aren’t welcome to come with me,” yelled John.

“ –man,” finished Bill.

“Oh, fine, you can come too,” said John five minutes later, nobody having done or said anything since.

He stood up, dropping his spoon into the now empty gruel bowl. Mischa and Bill followed suit, both seemingly ready to follow John wherever he might go. Suddenly, Mischa had an epiphany.

“Wait, what about Josiah Malum?” he asked.

“Who?” asked John.

“Josiah Malum! Secretary of Evil! You know, the man whose plans we were trying to thwart?”

“Oh, I don’t care about him anymore. To Denmark!”

Saturday, December 22, 2007


They left the Blizzard’s compound (which, because of its owners death, had begun to melt for no good structural reason) and continued their search for the Red Herring. After having looked for so long, however, all three were prepared to acquiesce to the fact that they would probably never –

“Oh look, there it is,” said John, pointing to the Red Herring.

Yes, he had found the Red Herring. It was sitting atop a pile of snow, its deep crimson scales standing out sharply against the white homogeneity of the Antarctic. Indeed, it was a magnificent fish, at least twice as magnificent as the next most magnificent fish. The three were thrilled.

“Comrade! We have found it!” said Mischa, excitedly hurrying forward.

“Don’t touch it, Mischa. It might be dangerous,” cautioned John wisely, holding out his arm. “Bill, go grab it.”

“Okay!” said Bill, rushing forward, picking up the fish and holding it above his head victoriously.

“Well! It seems that we’ve finally found the Red Herring. I guess now the only question is, what do we do with it?” asked John.

“Do you think that it has special powers or something?” asked Mischa, looking skeptically at the now limp fish in Bill’s hand. “Because if it has special powers, that would be good.”

“Maybe…” said John. “I mean, no one really told us anything about it. I think I’m supposed to bring it to Sanchez or Shamus, but now that I think about it, how the hell am I supposed to do that? We’re stranded here, lost, without any way to get out!”

“Calm down, Comrade!” said Mischa. “I am sure that we will think of something. For now, we should get some rest; after all, no man can tell what tomorrow might bring.”

Nodding, John sat down in the snow, stretching his legs out and sighing. He looked around and let out a deep breath, unsure of the future but glad to have found the Red Herring.

“You’re right, Mischa. We’ll spend the night out here and try to figure out the mystery of this Red Herring tomorrow. Bill, put it down. BILL!”

John had noticed just a minute too late that Bill was eating the Red Herring. Neither John nor Mischa could move or speak; they were paralyzed with awe at Bill’s ineffable idiocy.

Bill, however, was very cheerful, finally having eaten a decent meal. The herring, as it turns out, was quite delicious, despite being raw and full of bones.

“Oh, sorry guys!” said Bill. “I should’ve shared. Mom says I should always share. She’s gonna be mad at me now. I should call her.”

Bill took out his cell phone and tried to call his mother, but the phone had been frozen for weeks and he obviously couldn’t get through. That didn’t deter him though; he just kept at it, giving John and Mischa time to talk.

“He ate it. HE ATE IT!” yelled a furious John, gripping Mischa’s shoulder roughly. “I knew it was a mistake to be nice to him! I knew it was a mistake to bring him here! I knew it was a mistake not to kill and eat him when we had the chance!”

“Take it easy, Comrade. He may have eaten the Red Herring, but at least that means Josiah will never get it,” said Mischa.

“You do have a point,” conceded John. “We may not have it, but neither does the enemy. I guess that means this Red Herring adventure has led to a zero sum situation; absolutely nothing of significance happened, and the whole thing was just an unnecessary digression from other, more crucial events, almost as if it were only a diversion, meant to throw us off the path.”

“Exactly!” exclaimed Mischa. “Now, Comrades, let us all get some sleep. Tomorrow we will try to figure out a way to get out of here.”

Thursday, December 20, 2007


“Oh wait, did I say herring?! I meant pasta!” said the Blizzard, much to the dismay of all present.

John, extremely dejected, replied, “Well, thanks for the offer, Mr. Blizzard, but – ”

The Blizzard!” corrected their host. “My name is The Blizzard, not Mr. Blizzard! My father was Mr. Blizzard! He was a great man! I am simply The Blizzard!”

“Yes, well, we’re going to have to decline, the Blizzard. Pasta’s not exactly at the top of our to-do list right now,” said John.

“It’s on top of mine!” contested Bill, holding up a to-do list which, sure enough, had pasta written right on top of it.

“Since when have you had a to-do list?” demanded John. “Moreover, since when have you known how to write?”

“I don’t know how to write,” said Bill.

“Then where did you get that list?” asked John, frustrated.

“What list?”

“I have had enough of you, Comrade!” said Mischa suddenly, taking out his trusty pistol and aiming it at Bill’s head. “I took a lot of abuse under Josiah – a LOT – but none of that can compare to the agony I have been forced to endure since meeting you. Prepare to die, you annoying, garbage-toting…man!”

“Hold on a minute, Mischa!” commanded John. “I hate Bill as much as you do, and normally I’d be first in line to kill him; but I owe Bill my life somehow, so I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you not to shoot him. As for you, Bill, one more word, gesture, or inexplicable phenomenon out of you and I’m taking away your crayons.”

Mischa reluctantly put his gun away, and Bill, stifling tears, was now completely silent.

“Oh, come on! You have to stay for dinner!” insisted the Blizzard, pretending not to have heard the last exchange. “My ice butler was up all night yesterday cooking penne pasta for everybody!”

“First of all, how could he have been cooking for us last night if we didn’t arrive until today? And second of all, never mind that, I don’t even care, we’re leaving,” said John.

The Blizzard, however, was not one to give up so easily, and he continued to persist. The two companions capable of deductive reasoning simply attributed his insistence to loneliness, because after all, how many visitors could he possibly have?

But unbeknownst to them, the Blizzard was actually a secret agent working for Josiah Malum (there were a lot of those, apparently). What he’d said about his ice butler was true – he had been up all night cooking pasta. What he had failed to mention, however, was that it was poison penne pasta - with pesto and parmesan - an alliterative dish of death!

“Well if you won’t stay for dinner, at least have a slice of cake!” bargained the Blizzard, who was making use of his doctorate in psychology and hoped to pressure them into acquiescing with reciprocal concessions.

“Chocolate cake?” asked Mischa.

“I’m allergic to chocolate! In fact, I’m so allergic that the very word causes me to keel over dead!” said the Blizzard.

And that was the end of him.

“Oh dear, it’s going to take me quite a while to clean up this mess!” said the ice butler, ice broom and ice dustbin in hand.

“I guess the Blizzard was really more of a LIZARD!” said Bill.

“That didn’t make any sense at all,” spat John.

“Or maybe it made too much,” countered Bill.

“’re the worst person ever.”

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Once they got used to the Blizzard’s curious habit of yelling absolutely everything, John, Bill and Mischa realized that he was actually quite a friendly host. Life in his palace offered them welcome respite from the life-threatening conditions of Antarctica.

After John agreed to reimburse him for the damaged floor (and offered – though was never asked – to murder Bill for additional compensation), the Blizzard and his ice butler took them on a tour of the palace. It took much longer than it should have, as Bill continuously made a point of yelling out in surprise that every room they entered was made of ice.

“This one’s the kitchen! My ice butler does all the cooking here!” said the Blizzard, leading them through the house.

“Indeed I do, sir,” replied the butler.

“Oh my God! This entire room is made of ice!” shouted Bill.

“Bill, if you do that one more time, I’m going to –”

“And here’s the bathroom, where I take my nightly ice bath! It’s cold, like my heart – because I’m THE BLIZZARD!” he declared proudly.

“I’m Bill! And oh my God! This entire room is made of ice!” shouted Bill.

As they walked, John and Mischa discussed their situation behind the Blizzard’s back, not wanting him to hear. They couldn’t quite decide what to make of him: on the one hand, he didn’t seem evil or malicious; but on the other, he was very loud and sort of obnoxious. They concluded that they might as well just see how things played out.

At last, after more walking than could possibly have been necessary, they came to the final room: the Ice Room.

“I don’t see what’s so special about it,” noted John, staring around at the now familiar walls of ice enveloping them. “I mean, every room’s an ice room, isn’t it?”

“Yes! But this one’s slightly icier!” replied the Blizzard.

“Ah, yes, of course, now I see. Very nice,” added John.

“Yes, it is truly a magnificent room,” concurred Mischa. “It reminds me of the ice palace I used to live in, when I was just a lad! Except I did not live in an ice palace when I was a lad.”

“You’re funny, Mischa. And wow! This entire room is made of ice!” noted Bill. “That’s unbelievable!”

The Blizzard sat down on a chair of ice, and his ice butler stood beside him motionless, waiting for orders. John, Bill and Mischa just stood there awkwardly, glancing around at each other and waiting for the Blizzard to speak. Finally, he did.

“So that’s the tour!” he shouted. “Any questions?!”

“I have one,” said John. “How and why did you build this ice castle in the middle of Antarctica? It’s nice and all, but it seems a bit pointless.”

“Very true!” answered the Blizzard. “Well, it’s a long story! It all began about three years ago, when I came to Antarctica looking for an ice butler, for reasons I’m reluctant to reveal! When I found one, he built me this palace! Hmm…I guess it really isn’t that long!”

Bill took out a yo-yo and started playing with it. John shook his head. Bill looked sad and put the yo-yo away. Then he took it out again. Mischa checked his watch.

“We should probably go…” began John, remembering their quest and realizing that the ice palace was more or less a huge waste of time.

“But aren’t you going to stay for dinner?!” demanded the Blizzard.

“Why, what are we having?” asked Mischa.

“Herring! Red Herring!”

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Bill, John and Mischa trudged through bone-chilling frost and biting winds. A week had passed since they’d joined forces, and they were no closer to finding the Red Herring than they’d been at the beginning. They’d also run out of food, which was really inconvenient.

“I’m beginning to think this whole Red Herring business was just a big, misleading clue,” said John bitterly.

“You can’t really mean that, Comrade!” scolded Mischa. “I am certain that we will find it. And then we will be able to thwart Josiah.”

Bill, much to the delight of his companions, hadn’t said anything for a few days, having foolishly licked an icicle and gotten his tongue stuck. He had no regrets.

They walked on, teetering right on the line separating optimism from pessimism, unable to decide which philosophy to adopt so choosing to adopt neither. Occasionally they found a stray penguin or two, but aside from that, they were having absolutely no luck with their quest. At length, Bill said (or at least tried to say – his tongue was still stuck) that he couldn’t go on, and he sat down on a patch of frigid snow. The wind howled around him.

Mischa would have been quite happy to leave him there, but John did owe the man his life, so grabbing Bill by the icicle still caught on his tongue, he started pulling the garbage man behind him. It slowed him down considerably – quite a feat, as they were already moving incredibly slowly.

After another hour or so, they stumbled across a sight that they could hardly believe: a castle made entirely of ice. Running toward it for some reason, they let out cries of joy at finally seeing something to break the harsh monotony of the Antarctic.

The tallest tower of the carved castle was at least a hundred feet above the ground. Magnificent ice sculptures surrounded the structure, each one carved with astounding detail but none of which resembled anything familiar. The castle brilliantly reflected the few rays of sunlight that had managed to penetrate the clouds, giving off the impression that it was made of diamonds, or tinfoil.

John, taking a deep breath and grinning, rang the doorbell (which was made of ice, like the rest of the castle, and was thus very hard to locate), and they waited. About a minute later, the door (also made of ice) opened to reveal what was unmistakably a butler. Made of ice.

“Good day, sirs,” he began, speaking with a remarkably poor British accent, “how may I be of service to you?”

“We’re very tired, very hungry, very sexy wanderers who just happened to come across this castle. We’d greatly appreciate it if you let us inside to talk to your – er – boss,” replied John as politely as he was able. “If you have one. I mean, I suppose you might be the boss, right? I have no way of knowing. Except my intuition. Which is always right. So never mind what I just said.”

“Very well,” said the butler, “follow me.”

They followed him into the ice castle, up an icy flight of stairs and through an icy archway which led into a room of ice. Sitting at an ice desk was a man draped in a flowing silver robe, almost like ice (but it wasn’t).

“Greetings!” he yelled about ten times as loudly as he needed to. “Welcome to my castle! I am THE BLIZZARD!”

No one said anything for a while. I mean, there’s really no good way to respond to that, is there?

No. There isn’t.

“Hi?” tried John.


The silence was finally broken when Bill tripped and fell, shattering the fragile floor and falling back down to the first level.

“You’re going to have to pay for that!” said the Blizzard, taking out his wallet.

John sighed.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Shamus Flanagan sat in the back room of Shamus Flanagan’s Mexican Munchies. It was dimly lit and only furnished with two wooden chairs. Shamus was in one of them, his head buried in his hands. He hadn’t spoken for a while, but he finally glanced up at the man in the other chair.

Across from him sat Sanchez, who had flown in from Mexico the previous morning on a private jet – property of the National Brotherhood of Altruism. Sanchez’s usually stoic face was now eloquent with worry, as Josiah Malum’s latest move had delivered a devastating blow to the NBA.

“This is perhaps the most devastating blow we’ve suffered all week,” said Sanchez glumly. “And we have suffered many devastating blows this week. Four, I believe.”

“Aye, ‘tis something I wouldn’t fancy repeating, that’s for sure,” replied Shamus, nodding.

“How can we recover?” asked Sanchez, only half expecting Shamus to be able to answer. “Can we recover?”

“’Twill be mighty difficult, make no mistake,” said Shamus. “Executin’ every member of the organization except the two of us certainly makes our jobs a mite harder. But I’m not too worried.”

“Why is that?” questioned Sanchez, curious.

“Why’s that? Don’t tell me you’ve already forgotten, Sanchez! Why, we have John! If he can’t find the Red Herring, nobody can,” explained Shamus.

“And Bill,” added Sanchez.

“Who?” asked Shamus.

“Bill. You know, that dumb guy who’s always with John?”

“Oh, right, him. Well he’s a mighty big idiot, but I’m sure John has his reasons for bringin’ him along. It’s all in his hands now, laddie. The only thing we can do is wait,” said Shamus.

The two sat there wordless for a while, contemplating whatever it was that the leaders of the NBA liked to contemplate.

“Want to catch a movie or something?”

“Sure, okay.”

The men left the restaurant, slightly more cheerful; but little did they know, that they were being watched. By ninjas.

Josiah Malum received a call from their leader, informing him that Sanchez and Shamus had left the building together. He gave the order for his assassins to move into the now vacant restaurant, and move in they did.

Three figures dressed all in black entered stealthily (although no stealth was required), each of them carrying a powerful bomb. Although one would have been more than sufficient to demolish the building, Josiah had both a thing for explosions and more government funding than he knew what to do with…so, three there were!

They placed the bombs at various strategic points, ensuring that the next man to enter the restaurant would trigger them the moment he stepped inside. Their task accomplished, the ninjas left, satisfied, already making plans for dinner.

“Oh crap, I forgot my wallet,” one said, opening the door.

The explosion could be heard miles away. It was seen from outer space. The building was completely obliterated, along with all three of the would-be assailants.

Josiah Malum, watching from a nearby (but not too nearby) helicopter, briefly wondered why all of his subordinates were so comically inept before he gave the pilot orders to fly away.

Lighting a cigarette, Josiah sighed, “Well, at least I have Mischa in Antarctica. He’s screwed me over so many times before that he’s bound to come through! Then, with the Red Herring in my possession and that infernal mailman out of the way, my evil plan will be able to move forward.”

Slightly more cheerful, he lit another cigarette, inhaling the taste of sweet, sweet victory.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


John and Bill had now been wandering around aimlessly for three days, and they were very lost. With each passing hour, they grew steadily more doubtful that they’d ever find the Red Herring. The fact that Captain Arousing was quite obviously following them – he didn’t seem to realize that merely ducking down wouldn’t hide him – only added to their problems.

“I’m hungry!” whined Bill, who in actuality wasn’t hungry at all but felt as though he should say something to break the awkward silence John insisted upon maintaining in order to avoid subjecting himself to the inane chatter of the garbage man.

“We just ate in that McDonalds over there!” said John, who figured Bill was gullible enough to believe him. “You ordered enough food for five people, and now I’m broke. Stop complaining.”

“But I’m hungry!” repeated Bill.

“Okay, fine. We’ll eat Captain Arousing,” conceded John.

They turned around to find a very shocked Captain Arousing quickly ducking down.

“Where’d he go?” asked Bill.

Too annoyed to respond, John just continued walking. Bill followed, forgetting all about his hunger when they saw a plane fly overhead, the first sign of non-Captain Arousing human contact they’d seen since arriving.

“I’ve never seen a plane fly this low before; I think it’s about to land!” said John, running over to where he thought the plane would touch down.

Unfortunately, his guess was a little too accurate, and the plane very nearly decapitated him as it descended. It was tremendous, far larger than any plane John had ever seen before; it seemed capable of carrying a small army. The plane also bore no insignia, which John took as another bad omen.

“Get ready, Bill. We don’t know who’s in there – it may be an enemy,” cautioned John.

It began to slow down, John’s tension increasing with each second; but when it stopped, only one man exited: Mischa Petrovitch. The plane took off again immediately, leaving the now-unemployed Deputy Secretary of Evil stranded in the frozen wasteland.

He saw John and Bill and instantly took out a pistol, which he clumsily dropped, then picked up, then dropped again, finally remembering his decision to betray Josiah.

Jogging over to the two, he raised his hand in a sign of greeting and smiled weakly. John, by nature a distrustful cynic; and Bill, conditioned always to do whatever John did, were quite suspicious, but they figured they’d let the man have his say.

“Greetings, comrades! I was sent here by Josiah Malum, but I am going to betray him, so let us find the Red Herring together!” he said.

“How do we know we can trust you?” asked John. “After all, the last time we met, you tried to shoot us. I don’t forget things like that easily.”

“No, that is actually incorrect. The last time we met was for but a brief instant, at the airport. The time where I shot at you was actually two meetings ago,” corrected Mischa.

“I think you’re missing the point,” said John.

“You must forgive me. I have the unfortunate habit of taking everything literally. For example, when you said that I was missing the point, for a moment I thought you meant that I had failed to notice your pointing at something. See?”

“This conversation is going nowhere. I’ll just come out and say it: I’m reluctant to take you at your word, but I’m willing to give you a chance. If you’re going to travel with us, you need to prove that you’re really trustworthy. Kill Captain Arousing!” demanded John. “Then we’ll know whose side you’re really on.”

“Having never met him before and therefore having absolutely no emotional attachment to him, I fail to see how that will prove anything. But okay!” said Mischa, picking up his pistol and shooting Captain Arousing in the face.

The good captain fell to the ground dead, and that was more than enough to satisfy John; so he, Bill and Mischa set off together, in search of the Red Herring. And some food.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Josiah Malum sat at his desk in his Pentagon office, speaking through his private phone line to Captain Arousing, with whom he’d been in frequent contact. Calls from Washington to Antarctica were very expensive, however, so Josiah had decided to deduct the price of long distance from Mischa’s salary. In addition to saving him money, this made him feel much better about himself.

Mischa, ever the loyal lackey, was in the room with Josiah, nervously awaiting his next orders as he stood over his boss’s shoulder with an ashtray.

“John Morgan and that idiot garbage man are there with you? They’re looking for the Red Herring too? Well you’d better find it before they do, Arousing! You’ve made too many errors already. Like what? Are you joking? Oh, you are? Well, good. Carry on then.”

Josiah hung up the phone and turned to Mischa, now smoking two cigarettes at once. Since Bill and John’s escape, he’d been in a very bad mood, so he had compensated by doubling both his tobacco intake and the frequency of his Mischa beatings.

“Mischa!” said Josiah suddenly, “I’ve decided on your next assignment. You’re going to go to Antarctica and help Captain Arousing find the Red Herring before those other fools do.”

“B-but I don’t tolerate the c-cold well, sir,” protested Mischa. “I have a v-very weak c-constitution!”

“And I don’t tolerate insubordination well, Mischa!” argued Josiah. “But look whom I put up with. No, there’s nobody else here; I’m talking about you. I have to put up with you. If you want to keep your job, you’ll go to Antarctica, and that’s final!”

A figurative light bulb suddenly went off in Mischa’s head. For the first time since becoming Josiah’s assistant, he finally saw a way out.

“Maybe I don’t want to keep my job!” he exclaimed. “Since the day you kidnapped me and brought me here, it’s been nothing but ‘Mischa, do this!’ and ‘Mischa, do that!’ and ‘Mischa, you’ve been playing long enough, it’s my turn!’ even when I’ve only been playing for like a minute, and you’d had it for hours before that! Well I’m sick of it! I quit!”

“You can’t quit! You’re fired!” said Josiah.

“R-really? I can leave?” asked Mischa, hardly daring to believe his change in fortune.

“Absolutely not. No, I’m just not going to pay you anymore. You still have to do everything I say,” answered Josiah.

“Is that l-legal?” asked Mischa.

“No! And I don’t care; for I am Josiah Malum, Secretary of Evil!” declared Josiah. “Now, off to Antarctica. And if you encounter John and that other guy…kill them.”

“Yes sir, Mr. Malum,” said Mischa bitterly, walking to the door.

Mischa left Josiah’s office, his boss’s mocking laughter following him the entire way. Through the corridors of the Pentagon he trudged, noticing no one and unnoticed by them as well. Reaching the exit, he sighed, cursing his bad luck.

“If only this could be the last time I had to walk through this door!” he lamented.

Mischa, slowly walking down the streets of Washington, pondered the events that had just taken place. He had finally seen a door out, only to have it slam mercilessly in his face. It just didn’t seem fair.

But as he approached the airport, Mischa realized that there was a solution to his problem. He stupidly blurted his conclusion aloud:

“I’m going to betray Josiah Malum!”

“I heard that, Mischa!” said Josiah, who had been following him the whole time. “So you’re planning to betray me, are you?”

“N-no, sir! I said…I said…I’m going to beat…Ray, Josiah Malum,” said Mischa.

“Who’s Ray?” demanded Josiah.

“M-my cousin. He is a terrible Ping-Pong player,” answered Mischa. “I am going to beat him at Ping-Pong!”

“Oh. Well good luck with that.”

Josiah left, placated, and a very relieved Mischa boarded the plane – on his way to Antarctica.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


Early the next morning, John and Bill found themselves in the middle of the vast, frigid continent known only as Antarctica.

“Hey John! How are we in Antarctica?” asked Bill.

“Isn’t it obvious?”

Dismissing Bill’s question as pointless and puerile, John started walking, and Bill followed. The two began frantically searching for the Red Herring, confident that they would find it quickly.
Of course, they had failed to take into account the fact that Antarctica is rather large; and having absolutely no idea where to look for the Herring, it was really very futile.

“On a futility scale from one to ten, this is at least a six!” complained John after three hours of fruitless searching, staring hopelessly at the barren desolation all around him.

Then something else dawned upon John – they were in the middle of Antarctica without any means of survival. If the climate didn’t finish them, starvation was nearly sure to. Zeal had turned to frustration, and in the place of frustration, fear was starting to set in.

Bill, on the other hand, was having the time of his life. His mother had never let him see snow before, locking him in the basement whenever the cool white powder began to fall (“it’ll give you bad ideas!” she had claimed); so he was understandably excited. They walked on.

Hours passed and turned into days. Neither of them had a watch, so time was rather difficult to keep track of. At least, until Bill stopped lying about the watch he had.

Early one morning, as Bill prepared to throw yet another snowball at John, something caught his attention. He saw a strange figure standing on top of a snow-covered hill. Pausing for a moment to consider this new development, he hurled the frozen projectile there instead.

Of course, Bill’s aim was terrible, so it still hit John.

“Dammit Bill, if you throw one more snowball at me, I’m going to slit your throat and use your blood to marinate my pork chops,” threatened John. “Oh, I could sure go for some pork chops right about now.”

“Look over there!” said Bill, pointing to the wrong hill.

John looked at the hill, seeing nothing; then out of habit looked at the hills around it, seeing the same figure Bill had. Surprised, he started running toward it, desperate for any clues that would help them find the elusive Red Herring.

“Hey you!” he called, clumsily plodding through the snow. “Who are you?”

As they approached the figure, it became all too clear who it was: Captain Arousing, now wearing a poncho of the finest violet silk, a rainbow bandana, and leather cowboy boots. It was quite remarkable that he hadn’t frozen to death.

“YOU!” John yelled, tackling him. “You deceived me, you arousing fool! Nobody deceives me; I’m John Morgan, the smartest person in the world! Do you have any idea what my IQ is?”

“Settle down there, John. Think straight. I may be a spy for Josiah Malum, but I also flew you to Mexico. We’re even!” said Captain Arousing, trying to free himself.

“He has a point, John!” said Bill.

“Quiet, you!” John demanded. “Arousing, I’ve had it out for you for…about a day now. There’s no way I’m going to forgive you so quickly; I’m not that capricious!”

For a moment nobody said anything. A bitter wind cut through the air, a wind which seemed to underscore the bitter enmity between the two combatants. Finally, John spoke again.

“Okay, I forgive you. Why are you here?” he asked.

“The same reason you are, John. I’m looking for the Red Herring,” answered Captain Arousing. “Why don’t we team up and look for it together?”

“We’re working against each other!” protested John. “You’re trying to find it for the very man I’m trying to ensure doesn’t get it! Teaming up doesn’t make any sense at all; in fact, it’s probably the worst idea ever though of by anyone.”

“Aww, come on now. Not everything needs to make sense,” insisted the captain who, for some disturbing reason, was no longer trying to free himself.

Releasing Captain Arousing as quickly as possible, John stood up and hurried over to Bill, whom he considered the lesser of two…disturbances.

“Very well, Captain! We won’t kill you now,” he began, “but if we encounter you again on this quest, you shall not walk away!”

“Right, because I have an airplane.”

John shook his head, “That’s not what I meant.”


Thursday, December 6, 2007


The following morning, John woke up to find Bill pushing a trash-filled wheelbarrow around the room in circles. Wondering briefly where the wheelbarrow had come from, John sat up with a start, realizing where he was and why he was there.

“Oh cool, you’re awake! Flapjack the Ghost says that as long as you’re here, I can stop pushing the wheelbarrow!” said Bill, coming to a stop.

John blinked, rubbed his eyes, and stood up, walking over to the door. Right as he prepared to knock on it, it swung open: Sanchez was there.

“Good morning, Mr. Morgan. We have much to discuss,” said Sanchez, dressed in the same outfit he’d worn the previous day. “Come into my office.”

“We’re already here,” replied John.

“So we are,” Sanchez replied, walking over to his desk and sitting down. “Now, as you know, Shamus chose to send you here for hiding. Due to some recent developments, this is unfortunately no longer possible. It turns out that Josiah already knows you are here, and soon his men will find you.”

“What?! How could we have been found so quickly?” John demanded.

“I do not know,” answered Sanchez. “He could have found out any number of ways; it would be useless to try to pinpoint any one.”

Suddenly, John had an idea. He quickly fumbled through his coat pockets until he found what he was looking for: Captain Arousing’s business card. Holding it up to the single light illuminating Sanchez’s office, he read it:

Captain Arousing

Pilot – Josiah Malum’s Spy – Exotic Dancer

“Damn!” he yelled. “I should’ve read this thing when I first got it! And then killed Captain Arousing! How could I have been so foolish? I’m the last person who should be foolish, what with my extraordinary intelligence!”

“What is done, is done. Dwelling on the past, on your regrets, will amount to nothing. The crucial matter at hand is that you are no longer safe here. You must leave,” said Sanchez, calm despite their situation.

“Where do we have to go?” asked Bill. “Cause Flapjack says I can’t –”

“To hell with Flapjack!” interrupted John, causing Bill to cry. “We’ll go anywhere you tell us, as long as we can help fight Josiah Malum.”

“Very well. You must travel to Antarctica. Buried somewhere there is a valuable treasure: the legendary Red Herring. Josiah Malum has been searching for it for years; we do not know why,” said Sanchez. “If you manage to find it before he does, we will no doubt hold the key to thwarting him.”

“We’ll do it,” said John, resolved to take vengeance on Josiah and his men in any way possible. “We’ll do whatever it takes.”

“Excellent. You will face many dangers on this quest, but I am certain that devoting all our attention to the Red Herring is the wisest possible decision,” said Sanchez.

“I ate herring once,” said Bill. “I ate so much I threw up all over Mom’s new shoes that I was smelling. I love the smell of new shoes! And whiteout. Mom doesn’t buy me whiteout anymore. She says I should just stop making mistakes. She says that she hasn’t made one since my conception, whatever that means.”

Then Bill started looking for his wheelbarrow, which he thought was missing but was really right behind him.

Sanchez and John both cast a condescending glance at Bill before returning to each other. John was visibly nervous, Sanchez calm. He was the first to speak.

“Then it is decided: you shall leave tomorrow. I’ll stay here and sleep in…maybe get a taco for lunch…go bowling or something…yes, that sounds good.”

John suddenly realized something. “But I don’t see how we could possibly get to Antarctica. We don’t have a plane or anything.”

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Several hours later their plane landed in the middle of an empty field in Mexico. Aside from Captain Arousing’s outburst and Bill’s two near-death experiences, the flight had been relatively uneventful.

“Odd, I would’ve expected to land in an airport or something,” John remarked as the plane slowly came to a stop.

Attention all passengers, this is your captain, Captain Arousing. We have to land in the middle of this field because I’ve forgotten where the airport is. That is all,” said Captain Arousing.

John and Bill left the plane and looked around at their barren surroundings.

“You wouldn’t happen to know where we are, would you Bill?” asked John. “Wait – don’t answer that. I don’t even know why I asked.”

The sky was clear, completely cloudless. The landscape was unusually flat, and there was no vegetation save the tumbleweeds, which intermittently passed by.

Bill, of course, thought they wanted to play, so he chased after them, but he always grew bored before he could catch up.

They walked for hours, the sun growing steadily hotter. John had a pair of sunglasses, but for Bill, the glare was hard to bear. Hey, that rhymed!

Around midday, John noticed that Captain Arousing was following them and, indeed, had been doing so the whole time.

“Can I help you?” he asked, suspicious.

“I just thought I’d give you my card, in case, you know, you wanna hang out or something,” replied the captain, handing John a pale lavender business card.

John hesitantly took the card and, without reading it, slipped it into his coat pocket, intending to discard it as soon as possible. He began walking a bit faster, and Bill – predictably – followed.

They walked for another hour or so before finally reaching a city, which neither John nor Bill could identify.

“I just realized something, Bill,” said John. “Shamus never told us who is contact was, or where to find him.”

Bill looked around for a minute and pointed at a tall, wiry man whose face was obscured by a large sombrero. He was leaning against a building and reading a newspaper.

“Maybe that’s him!” he suggested.

“Oh, don’t be ridiculous. Of all the people in this country, what are the odds that –”

“Hello,” said the man, walking up to John and Bill. “I am Sanchez, Shamus Flanagan’s contact. Welcome to Mexico."

John gaped open-mouthed at Sanchez, then shook his head, regaining his composure. He looked over at Bill, who was now happily pretending to be an airplane. Turning back to Sanchez, he noticed that the man’s eyes seemed to burn with a furious intensity. Clearly, this was not someone to be crossed.

“Uh, hi, Sanchez. I’m John Morgan,” said John, holding out his hand for Sanchez to shake.

“I know who you are, Mr. Morgan. And I know why you have come. I have much to explain. Follow me,” said Sanchez, ignoring John’s hand.

“I’m Bill!”

“Sanchez...does not care.”

John and Bill followed Sanchez through the busy streets of whichever city they were in (they never did bother to find out) for about an hour. They were very tired of walking. Sanchez didn’t come across as a physically powerful man, but as he walked through the crowd, people got out of his way.

They moved in silence, John and Bill being unsure of what to say to Sanchez and too worried about offending him to converse with each other.

At length they came to a nondescript brick building, into which Sanchez led them. They followed him into a plain room with little furniture. He locked the door and sat down behind a practical-looking desk.

“Before we begin, I must ask you something. Rest assured that whatever is said in this room shall remain in this room,” said Sanchez.

“Go on,” replied John.

“Do you find me attractive? I mean, in a platonic way,” asked Sanchez.

“Umm…sure,” answered John cautiously. “But only if that’s the answer you wanted.”

“Excellent. Now, we may proceed. As you are both aware, Josiah Malum is plotting to – well, you know what he’s plotting, so I won’t bother saying it; that would just be a waste of time. And we do not have time to waste. So, you are also aware that he is hunting you down with great vengeance and furious anger; and that, my friends, is why you have come to me.”

“Right,” said John. “But who are you?”

“I am a member of an ancient organization created to defeat evil whenever convenient: the Noble Brotherhood of Altruism – NBA for short,” said Sanchez.

“But isn’t there already a – ”

“Yes, our lawyers are still working on that. Anyway, I’m one of its leaders. So is Shamus. We are, in fact, the only two leaders. As you’ve probably inferred, we, the adversaries of evil, have been rather busy since Josiah Malum was appointed. It is getting late. I’ll explain more tomorrow. For now, you should get some sleep.”

“But there are no beds,” noticed John.

“I knew I was forgetting something. Goodnight.”

Sanchez left the room, locking the door behind him.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


John and Bill sat together on the plane, waiting for their flight to begin. John was still nervous about their predicament, but he was relieved, confident that the situation was – at least for the moment – under control. Bill wasn’t worried about anything in particular, but he was unreasonably excited, never having been allowed to ride an airplane before.

“I hear we get peanuts! Do we get peanuts?” asked Bill.

“Yes. Yes we do,” replied an already irritated John.

“Oh. I’m allergic to peanuts,” answered Bill.

John gave a dismissive grunt of annoyance and took out one of the complimentary flight magazines, which he started to read with great interest.

“So what’s this thing called again?” asked Bill.

“What the hell are you talking about?” questioned John.

“You know! The thing we’re in!” answered Bill.

“You mean…the airplane?” asked an incredulous John.

“Right! Right, the airplane. What’s an airplane?”

“Like a flying car.”


“Like a moving box.”

“I see. What’s a – ”

John took his complimentary pillow and shoved it violently into Bill’s face, transforming his annoying questions into muffled grunts. After a minute or two, Bill more or less stopped struggling, so John let go of the pillow and returned to his magazine.

“Now that is a quality flowerpot!” he said, something catching his eye.

There were no other passengers on the plane, since the flight left at 3:00 AM, a very inconvenient time for most people, especially taking into consideration the fact that the airline also offered a 6:00 AM flight to the same destination. Why there was a 3:00 AM flight at all remains a mystery to this day.

After the inevitable twenty minutes or so of sitting around waiting for something to happen, the plane slowly started to move. Around this time, Bill regained consciousness, much to John’s dismay.

As the aircraft rolled down the runway, steadily picking up speed, an announcement came over the loudspeaker. Hearing the disembodied voice, Bill thought it was God.

Attention all passengers: I’m Captain Arousing. I’ll be your captain on this flight. That is all,” said the captain.

“What a strange name,” mused John.

Instantaneously, the door to the cockpit burst open and a large, arousing man stormed out of it. He had a pair of unnecessary flight goggles strapped to his forehead and wore only a powder blue kimono. He looked as though he would make a fine stripper.

“Which one of you assholes was making fun of my name?” he demanded, looking menacingly from Bill to John with his fists raised.

“I was,” replied John.

“Oh, all right then,” said Captain Arousing.

He turned around and returned to the cockpit, whistling an erotic tune. John returned to his magazine, casting a disapproving glance at Bill, whose face was pressed up against the window. And John had the window seat.

“Do you mind?” asked John acidly.

“No, you can read. It’s all right with me!” said Bill.

The flight continued, and Bill was delighted, even though there was no in-flight movie, to which he’d been looking forward greatly.

About two hours in, John, realizing that Bill was almost certainly utterly clueless as to what was going on, decided to fill the man in on the circumstances of their situation.

“Now because I ripped up that letter, I’ve been marked as a target by the Department of Evil. Shamus Flanagan is working against them for some reason. We’re going to Mexico to hide and meet up with Shamus’s contact. Still with me?” asked John.

“I’m sitting right next to you, duh!” answered Bill.

Ignoring Bill completely, John continued, “It seems Josiah Malum is trying to go ahead with his plan despite my brilliant interference.”

“What is his plan, anyway?” asked Bill.

“I’ll tell you later. So although we’re going to Mexico to hide, I think we should also try to do everything in our power to stop him. I’m sure Shamus’s contact will help us out with that. Agreed?”

Bill, however, couldn’t answer, as he’d eaten a bag of peanuts and was slowly dying.

“God dammit Bill.”

Friday, November 30, 2007


Where they were going, John didn’t know, but thither he drove, ever mindful that Mischa Petrovitch may well have been after them. As it turned out, he wasn’t, but John didn’t know that either.

In fact, Mischa couldn’t possibly have been chasing them, since he’d had his license revoked the previous month, part of a settlement he’d been forced to sign after crashing his car into an arbophile’s special oak tree.

But he had connections.

Immediately after John and Bill escaped, Mischa called Josiah, who (after excoriating Mischa for calling collect) notified his contacts in the military. Within minutes, a pair of Apache helicopters were in hot pursuit of John’s purple Honda.

“Where are we going, John?” asked a curious Bill.

The needle on John’s speedometer had broken off miles ago; he’d never driven so quickly before.

“If you ask me that one more time, I’m ripping out your kidneys and selling them on the black market,” replied John, sharply turning left for no apparent reason.

After pondering that for a moment, Bill said, “My mom doesn’t let me in that store.”

“It’s not an actual store, you idiot; it’s just a blanket term applied to illicit businesses and transactions,” said John.

“My blanket’s made from goose feathers!” bragged Bill.

John sighed, then turned right. Suddenly, however, he heard the unmistakable sound of twin Apache helicopters, approaching far more quickly than he could ever hope to outrun them.

“Oh no!” he yelled. “That strange Russian man has sent the military after us. We’re doomed!”

“Don’t worry John, I’ll take care of them!” claimed Bill.

Bill stuck his head out the window, turned around, and started making machine gun noises while pointing his fingers at the helicopters. One of them exploded, but the other was closing in fast.

John continued driving, making another sharp right. Then he saw a road sign. Without realizing it, John had managed to bring them to within a very short distance of the local airport.

“If I can get us into the airport, we may be able to take a plane to safety!” he thought, pulling into the parking lot and hurriedly exiting the car. “Come on, Bill!”

John and Bill ran through the parking lot, unnecessarily leaping over speed bumps and savagely pushing aside dozens of innocent bystanders.

The two ran into the airport and made for the nearest terminal, but much to their dismay, no fewer than two dozen US Marines were already there on patrol, having been sent straight to the airport by Josiah, who was really, really good at planning ahead. John grabbed Bill and pulled him up against a wall, shielding them from the marines’ line of sight.

“Bill, don’t let them see you,” cautioned John, now speaking in a whisper. “They’ll shoot you on sight. And then they’d shoot me, which would be a bad thing.”

“I bet I can yell louder than you can!” boasted Bill, bellowing boisterously.

Before John could berate his foolish companion, the marines came running toward them, and John and Bill were again forced to run for their lives.

Through the airport they dashed, once again pushing aside bystanders (many of whom weren’t in their way) and jumping over speed bumps (which only Bill could see). They made it to the exit and burst through the door.

As soon as they did, however, they saw a pitch-black Escalade driving right toward them. It stopped abruptly, and out stepped Josiah Malum, along with Mischa and, for some reason, the driver. John and Bill, afraid, turned around again, only to see the marines filing out of the airport, guns ready.

“You’ve led us on quite a chase, Mr. Morgan; but I’m afraid it ends here,” said Josiah, taking out a pack of cigarettes as he slowly stepped forward. “Kill him.”

The marines started firing, but Josiah’s driver suddenly lunged forward, tackling John and Bill to the ground, saving them from the deadly volley of bullets. Before he landed, John had just enough time to catch a brief glimpse of the man’s emerald green tie – it was Shamus Flanagan!

“You’d best be leavin’ the fighting to me, laddies!” he said, rolling up his sleeves and walking confidently toward the marines.

Without waiting to be told, the marines charged at Shamus. Completely unafraid, Shamus proceeded to take down every marine there, using a unique combination of boxing, Muy Thai and Irish dance – an impressive sight to behold.

“Why aren’t they using their guns?” demanded Josiah. “Shoot him, you idiots! And what the hell happened to those helicopters?”

As soon as Shamus was finished dispatching his adversaries, he turned to the Secretary of Evil, who quickly hopped into his car and sped away, driving it himself (for the first time he could remember). Mischa, upon seeing his boss desert him, looked around nervously for other options, then started chasing after the Escalade.

Shamus, casually dusting himself off, walked over to John and Bill, a broad grin spreading across his face. He straightened his tie, took a four-leaf clover out of his pocket and kissed it.

“Well laddies, looks like I took care of ‘em!” said Shamus cheerfully, tucking the clover carefully back into his pocket.

“Who are you? What just happened?” asked John, clearly confused. “Don’t you own a restaurant?”

“No time to explain now, me lad. No, you’d best be goin’ off somewhere to hide for a while, till me and me boys straighten things out,” he suggested.

“Where?” asked John.

“I’ve got a fine friend in Mexico; he’ll look after ya for a while,” said Shamus. “Hurry up now, don’t tarry!”

Bill and John walked back into the airport and bought plane tickets for the next flight to Mexico, pushing aside many innocent bystanders as they stood in line.

“Well John, I –”

“Whatever it is, don’t say it.”

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Bill had inexplicably managed to convince John to attend the party, so the two met up in front of the Clark Bar (which they were no longer permitted to enter) and set off for 666 Death Row, a location John shoedly – sorry, shrewdly – found rather suspicious.

As they walked down the dark, narrow street, they noticed that there was nobody else outside. No lights were on in any buildings, and gusts of cold wind frequently made Bill shiver. John had had the foresight to bring a jacket, evidently being smart enough to have realized it was mid-December.

“I’m a little surprised that we haven’t even seen a car yet,” said John as they passed yet another seemingly unoccupied building.

“I know what you mean! I want to drive a racecar!” said Bill, agreeing to a statement nobody had made.

They arrived at their destination to find an imposing concrete building, somehow even darker than the others on the block. When John looked at it, his stomach lurched, more violently even than after a meal at Mexican Munchies. He shifted his gaze to the ground and started to shudder, but then he noticed that Bill was also shuddering, so he forced himself to stop, so as to look better by comparison.

Looking up at the building again, John could discern – although barely, what with all the darkness – a stone archway that surrounded a large wooden door, in the center of which was a door knocker crafted from what appeared to be a man’s skull but was actually a woman’s.

“I don’t know why, but I have a really bad feeling about this, Bill,” said John. “I think you should go in first. If you don’t die, I’ll know it’s safe.”

“Okay!” said a cheerful Bill, traipsing to the entranceway and knocking.

“Who’s there?” came an irritated voice from behind the door with a heavy Russian accent.

“I’m Bill!” said Bill.

“Did you intercept a letter addressed to the editor of Newsweek?” asked the Russian even more irritably.

“No, that was my friend John! John Morgan. He’s standing out here with me though, if you want to meet him,” replied Bill.

John, furious with but not at all surprised at Bill’s stupidity, impulsively ran up to Bill and smacked him across the head, right as the door swung open to reveal Mischa Petrovitch, Deputy Secretary of Evil of the United States of America.

“John Morgan, come in! It is time for your execution. I mean, party,” said Mischa, glancing around nervously, as if he expected Josiah to come belittle him any second.

John looked askance at Mischa, then at the room behind him. It reminded him strongly of a sepulchre, probably due to the multitude of corpses lying around the place, which aside from those corpses was actually quite elegant. A magnificent purple rug covered the floor, and the walls were painted gold. The expensive, ancient rug had belonged to Josiah’s parents, until he had them executed; now it lay on the floor of Josiah’s favorite ancillary building. With a bunch of corpses.

“It’s the ironic juxtaposition that makes it such an effective decoration, Mischa,” Josiah had said. “You wouldn’t understand it.”

But John did – he understood all too well.

“Bill! We need to get out of here,” said John, frequently glancing backward, already planning an escape route.

Bill, however, had failed to notice anything suspicious at all, and he was quite looking forward to a terrific party. He entered the building, waiting for John to follow.

“Aww, come on John – it’s just a party. What could possibly go wrong?” foreshadowed Bill, as Mischa picked up an assault rifle from a nearby table.

Firing his Kalashnikov indiscriminately, Mischa started spouting incomprehensible Russian obscenities. Bill had found a bowl of chips and was looking for dip.

John, however, had been prepared for such an unfortunate turn of events, and with his only exit being continuously pelted by bullets, he knew he had to stay and fight.

Not owning a gun, he’d been forced to bring the next best weapon he possessed: a small sack of marbles. Swinging it above his head to gain momentum, he hurled it at Mischa, missing and hitting Bill, who collapsed.

“Damn!” swore John, desperately searching for something else to use as a weapon.

Mischa, exuding a confidence he rarely had a chance to exude, boasted, “My boss, Josiah Malum, Secretary of Evil, will be very pleased! By killing you, I am fulfilling his orders. And – oh no…I sure hope I don’t trip on those marbles!”

Mischa tripped, though it was solely his fear of tripping that made him do so; no marbles were even near him.

John took the opportunity to run, forgetting Bill – unless he left him behind intentionally…which seems more and more plausible, actually, the more I consider it.

John hurried back to his car to find Bill sitting in the passenger seat, eating a slice of pizza. Where, why, and how he’d obtained it, nobody knows. Including Bill.

Having no time to marvel at the sheer impossibility of Bill’s miraculous escape, but pausing to snatch the remainder of his pizza, John drove quickly away with swift, rapid speed.

“Well, that was fun!” said Bill.

“I really, really hate you.”

Monday, November 26, 2007


– newly elected Pope, Keanu Reeves, is expected to begin his duties on Monday. In other news, if you came across a letter addressed to the editor of Newsweek and impeded its progress in any way, report to 666 Death Row for a…party. Yes, that’s it. A party. Speaking of parties, the Communist Party is at it again! A rally called ‘Heart for Bark’ was held in Mississippi earlier this week to grant local man Randy Bonaparte the right to wed his beloved oak tree, Missy…

Bill was sitting on his living room floor playing with some Pokemon cards when the message was broadcast on the evening news. He leaped up, slipping on the recently waxed hardwood floor and flying headfirst into the wall. Undeterred, he picked himself up and began addressing a nonexistent companion.

“John imposticulated a letter addressed to the head of Newsweek! And my dad left my mom for a tree named Missy! But going back to the first thing I said, wow! John got invited to a party. I wonder if he’ll take me!” wondered Bill excitedly.

Dashing out of the room, slipping once more and again crashing into a wall (but a different wall this time), Bill took out his cell phone, which he’d only recently obtained, his mother being quite loath to give him any tools with which to communicate with the outside world. Running upstairs, he tried to call John, but John had never told Bill his phone number, so Bill just called a random one. Fortuitously, it was, in fact, John’s.

“This had better be important; I was singing lullabies to my petunias,” said John.

“John, it’s me, Bill! Bill Williams,” replied Bill.

“Ah, yes, hello Bill,” said John, gently caressing his flowers.

“The garbage man,” continued Bill.

“Right, I know who you are,” answered John.

“We went to a bar the other day,” said Bill.

“Get to the point, you idiot,” commanded John. “After this, I need to take a bath with my water lilies. They’re filthy!”

Completely unfazed, Bill asked, “Can I have $50?”

“Why the hell do you need $50?” demanded John, pouring copious amounts of bubble bath into his floral-pattern tub. “Moreover, why would you ask me? I’m extremely greedy, and broke, at least until my counterfeiting business picks up.”

“To buy a suit,” answered Bill.

“Why do you need a suit?” asked John.

“For the secret surprise party I’m bringing you to!” responded Bill.

John sighed in exasperation. “Well first of all, it’s not a surprise anymore, thanks to your moronic inability to keep a secret. And second, who on earth would throw a party for me? It’s probably a trap!” retorted John.

John suddenly heard a series of excessively loud beeps, which forced him to tear the phone away from his head. Bill had just figured out how to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” with dial tones; he hadn’t been this amused in months.

Cursing Bill and pressing the phone back to his ear, John continued, “Are you sure this party is legitimate, Bill? I don’t want to find out this is somehow related to that letter I intercepted, because not only would that be dangerous; it’d also be trite and predictable.”

“Of course John! I’m really sued when it comes to things like this,” said Bill confidently.

John hesitated for a second.

“Do you mean shrewd?”

“Yeah, that’s it. Shoed.”

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Mischa sat in the back of Josiah Malum’s jet-black Escalade. Josiah was running an errand, the nature of which he refused to reveal, and he’d ordered Mischa to remain in the car. Mischa, insufferably bored, once tried talking to the driver, a large man with a tie as green as the emerald isles. There was no response.

Finally, the car door opened and Josiah entered the vehicle, smirking maliciously. He carried a nondescript brown bag, which he hurriedly shoved under his leather seat as he bade the driver start the car. As the Escalade began rolling down the busy road, Mischa remarkably mustered the courage to ask Josiah what he’d been doing.

“That’s none of your business, Mischa. We still need to discuss your most recent blunder,” retorted Josiah, his cold eyes flashing Mischa a look of sheer hatred.

“B-blunder, sir? W-what are you talking about?” asked Mischa.

“When I said to locate our target ‘by any means necessary,’ I mistakenly assumed you’d come up with something more efficacious than asking him to report for his own execution. Nobody would be stupid enough to do that, Mischa! Well, maybe you would, now that I think about it…” said Josiah.

“No, to lure him to his death will require subtlety and tact, of neither of which you seem to possess even the slightest amount.”

“W-what do you r-recommend, sir?” inquired Mischa.

“I’m going to find this man myself,” said Josiah, now picking up the plain brown bag and resting it on his lap.

Mischa again wondered what Josiah was keeping in the bag, but he restrained himself from asking, instead focusing on Josiah’s plans to capture their antagonist. He looked out the window to clear his head, seeing nothing, as the windows had been tinted from the inside, specifically to make sure that Mischa never got to look out of them. It was another way of crushing his spirits - one of Josiah's personal favorites.

“How, sir?” asked Mischa.

“Your idea of a newscast was poor at best, but I think I’ll use it anyway. There will be one key difference though: my newscast will work. Do you know why, Mischa?” questioned Josiah.

“No, sir. Why?”

“Because I’m better than you!” answered the secretary, his voice rife with vitriol.

Mischa hung his head in shame as the car continued on its way. It hit a pothole, and Mischa, who on Josiah’s orders wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, fell out of his seat.

Josiah chuckled as he took out his cellular phone and quickly dialed a number. Pressing the phone up against his ear, he delivered a sharp kick to Mischa’s ribs, partly to get his attention and partly due to good old fashioned sadism.

“My contacts in the media will have my newscast on every channel in America tonight, Mischa. Even if our would-be thwarter doesn’t see it, someone who knows him will, and he’ll be led right to us,” said Josiah. “He’ll be dead by the end of the week, and then I’ll be able to move forward with my evil plan!”

Mischa, back on the seat, sat as still as he was able, making a conscious effort to imbibe every word his boss spoke, which was fairly difficult thanks to the searing pain in his ribs. Before long, however, the mysterious bag once again piqued his interest.

“S-sir, if I might be so b-bold as to inq-quire…what’s in the bag?” asked Mischa.

“I already told you, I’m not telling you,” said Josiah, reaching into the bag, pulling out a cookie and taking a bite.

Mischa lowered his head, disappointed.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


First and foremost, happy Thanksgiving. Second and forermost, here's the eighthest chapter in The Ultimate Book:

John and Bill sat together in the Clark Bar. The Clark Bar was – wait for it – a bar, and it was owned by a man named Robert Clark. In his earlier days, Bob had been a successful poet, but a rare liver disease had forced him to retire to a quiet life of bartending and alcoholism.

There were many things that made the Clark Bar unique. For starters, the walls were adorned with scrolls featuring Bob’s best poetry, all of which were autographed. Twice. Then twice more on the back.

Bob, never having been professionally trained as a bartender, didn’t serve too many drinks; in fact, he only knew how to make one: beer. And he didn’t make it either; he just ordered it. But he never paid for his shipments. Some say the feds are still after him to this day.

John, in keeping with his policy of being slightly less cruel to Bill, had decided to invite his new friend for a few drinks. Unfortunately, it soon transpired that Bill had a very low tolerance for alcohol, and after half a beer, he was out cold, lying supine on the hard wood floor.

“I may owe him my life, but he’s really starting to piss me off,” said John to himself as he repeatedly hit Bill over the head with an empty mug.

Bill finally came to, very disoriented – even more so than usual. He spun around in circles for a few minutes, then sat down on the barstool and started chewing on autographed napkins.

“Are you all right, Bill?” asked John.

“All what?” asked Bill.


“Left! Hahaha, I win!”

John opened his mouth, then shut it, going back to his drink. He noticed that there was a TV in the corner of the room, but it was off.

“Barkeep!” yelled John. “Switch on that television; I want to watch the news.”

Bob, who was cleaning a pitcher with a very filthy, very autographed rag, stared directly into John’s eyes, a look of pure revulsion on his face.

“Who the HELL do you think you are, giving orders in my bar? If you want that TV turned on, then go on home right now – begone!” he rhymed, gesticulating at all the appropriate intervals.

Taken aback and unsure whether to be impressed or horrified, John apologized and, against all logic, decided to make another attempt to engage Bill in conversation. Bill, however, had passed out again, which was quite odd, as he hadn’t been drinking anything.

“Wake up, Bill! We’re leaving,” said John.

Bill woke up instantly and started reciting the alphabet – slowly and inaccurately. John waited impatiently for Bill to finish, but as he was doing so, he heard the unmistakable sound of a newscaster.

“You turned on the TV?” he asked Bob, wondering what could have convinced the barkeep to change his mind.

“I also like to watch the news; I watch it while I’m selling booze,” replied the bartender. “Let’s listen to the woman talk; I wish I could have sex with her.”

“That didn’t rhyme,” noticed John.

“I know it didn’t rhyme!”

By that time, Bill had only reached the letter d, so John, acquiescing to defeat, sat back down on his autographed barstool and began watching the news.

“ –death count is expected to be well into the millions. In other news, if you recently intercepted a letter addressed to the editor of Newsweek, please report to the office of Mischa Petrovitch for execution.”

John stood up abruptly, knocking his barstool to the ground. He grabbed Bill by the shoulder and shook him violently.

“BILL! Did you hear that?” he asked.

“No,” said Bill. “Why, was it funny? I like funny things. You’re funny, you know that John? I think you should be a comedian. Or a mailman. I wish I were a mailman. I remember a funny joke I heard –”

“This is no time for humor!” shouted John, who was now receiving hostile glares from every patron in the Clark Bar.

Bob, who was much more intelligent than he let on, had managed to put two and two together. He knew exactly what was happening. He set down the mug he was cleaning and turned to John, pointing at him authoritatively to get his attention.

“I’ve got no clue what’s happening here, but I think you’ve had too much beer. I’ll say this once, for I’m no mime: hurry up please, it’s time!”

“Actually, I think you’re right, barkeep. Come on Bill…we need to go,” said John quietly.

“Hurry up please, it’s time! Hurry up please, it’s time!” repeated Bob.

“Hahaha! He keeps saying it! Look John, I bet he’ll say it again!” said Bill, eagerly watching Bob.

But Bob, of course, was fully still; he started scowling right at Bill. As Bill was saddened by the glare, he followed John right out of there.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Josiah Malum was irate. Three weeks had passed since the day Mischa had sent the letter, but it had yet to appear in Newsweek – and it was now doubtful that it ever would. Josiah was not a very patient man. Deep in the Pentagon, in his private chamber, he sat across from his assistant and eyed him contemptuously.

“Mischa,” began Josiah menacingly, “we have a problem.”

“W-what’s the problem, sir?” asked Mischa, whom people now frequently mistook for having a severe case of Parkinson’s.

“When I asked you three weeks ago, you informed me that you had sent the letter to Newsweek. For 21 days, I have waited; but I refuse to wait any longer. I demand answers!
There are, as I see it, two possibilities: Either you lied to me, and you never mailed the letter at all; or it was intercepted. So which is it, Mischa?” demanded Josiah.

“S-sir, I assure you, I sent the l-letter!” pleaded Mischa.

“Very well. Then it was stopped,” concluded Josiah. “Somebody is interfering with our plans. This means we have yet another obstacle to overcome.”

“W-what obstacle is that, sir?” inquired a quaking Mischa.

Josiah was silent for a moment.

“You’re an idiot.”

He stood up, lighting a cigarette as he did. Slowly he began pacing around the table, stopping every few seconds and glancing upward, as if searching for some sort of inspiration (in reality he was making a note of all the light fixtures that needed replacing). Mischa never dared to look away from his boss, and his eyes followed Josiah across the room.

Suddenly Josiah looked directly at Mischa, who fearfully leaned back in his chair and fell crashing to the floor.

“Mischa! I have a new assignment for you. Whoever intercepted this letter obviously didn’t want it to be printed. It thus stands to reason that he must be prevented from interfering any further. Before I continue with my plan, I want this man killed,” stated Josiah. “And you’re paying for that chair. That’s the third one you’ve broken this week.”

“K-killed, sir? Isn’t that a bit…extreme?” asked Mischa, pretending not to have heard Josiah’s last comment as he lay immobile on the ground.

Josiah glared at Mischa. He didn’t speak, but his message was painfully clear. Mischa began to cry, and Josiah let out a sigh of frustration.

“God dammit, not again. Mischa! Stop crying!” he commanded. “I still can’t believe I hired him over that assassin who applied. What the hell was I thinking?”

Mischa, sniffling, regained what little composure he had. Wiping his eyes on his sleeve and picking himself up, he began nodding slowly and then tried to sit down on the chair he’d just broken, which he shortly remembered was…broken.

“I-I’ll do it, sir! B-but, how do I find him?” asked Mischa, now opting to stand.

Josiah, exhaling a cloud of smoke, flashed a mirthless smile and sat down. He folded his hands and leaned forward portentously.

“By any means necessary.”

Josiah’s laughter reverberated cacophonously throughout the room. Mischa nervously joined in, but Josiah interrupted him.

“Only I may laugh, Mischa.” he said. “You're not evil enough.”

“S-sorry sir.”

Saturday, November 17, 2007


It was now Thursday of the same week. John hadn’t talked to Bill since his foiled suicide attempt on Tuesday, and he was looking forward to seeing his new friend again, kind of.

John drove his mail truck toward the final house on his route, just as he’d done the previous Tuesday and just as he’d done on hundreds of days before. But this time, something was amiss.

“Something is amiss,” said John, bringing the truck to a premature stop.

He looked out his left window and saw Bill happily pushing his wheelbarrow toward some destination unfathomable to all rational human beings. Bill, noticing John, turned to his friend and started waving, dropping his wheelbarrow and spilling garbage everywhere; but John – as he had been wont to do in the past – ignored him.

“Something is definitely amiss,” John repeated, now looking down at the letter he was about to deliver.

It was unsealed, much as the last one had been. John, however, made no move to read it. Something held him back; there was something unsettling about that letter. Instead, John turned it over, looking at the return address with great interest.

“Mischa Petrovitch, Department of Evil,” read John aloud. “And it’s addressed to Newsweek. The man in that house is the editor of Newsweek? That’s odd. I should’ve known something like that; I’m supposed to know everything!”

John, caught up in his conceited contumely, grew steadily more determined; he resolved to read this letter, come hell or high water. Or Bill.

Bill came.

“Hey John! Didn’t you see me waving? What’s up? What are you doing? Delivering mail? I wish I could deliver mail, but I’m just a garbage man. I took the mailman test once, but I failed. My mom –”

“ – Took away your X-Box, I know. Not today, Bill. I’m about to transgress the boundaries that separate postman from postbeast. I’m about to read this letter!” said John.

Bill gasped, horrified. In reality, he had no qualms at all with what John was about to do, but he figured John would appreciate a powerful reaction.

John took the letter out of its envelope and began reading aloud: “Dear Editor, I am writing this to express my sincere displeasure with…GOOD GOD!”

“What is it, John?” asked Bill.

“It’s – I – I can’t say! It’s unspeakably evil!” said John, his expression slowly changing from horrified revulsion to steadfast resolve. “I know what I have to do. I can’t allow this letter to reach its destination. I must destroy it.”

“Cool! It’s just like Lord of the Rings! Are we going on a quest to a volcano? I’ll bring ice cubes so it doesn’t get too hot!” said Bill.

John quickly tore up the letter, then looked over at Bill and said, “I’m sorry, what? I was ripping up this letter; I couldn’t hear you.”

“Never mind,” replied Bill, clearly disappointed.

He cheered up instantly, however, as a passing butterfly caught his attention. Immediately he took off, in hot pursuit of the elusive insect.

“Well, that’s the end of that,” said John.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


But first I'm going to thank all the people who have thus far told me they like what they've seen (you're awesome), and excoriate all the people who haven't (I hate you). Seriously though, leave comments so I have something to read other than that hit counter I'm always compulsively checking.

And tell your friends. Or enemies. I don't care. I just need more free advertising.


With Josiah Malum’s threat looming constantly over his head, Mischa Petrovitch was extremely careful. He set to work on the task to which he’d been assigned, assiduously checking and double-checking every punctilio – even the slightest error could mean failure.

“This letter to the editor is perfect! Mr. Malum will be very pleased,” said Mischa to no one in particular as he hit the “save” key and printed out his letter.

Yes, Mischa’s assignment was a relatively simple one, at least for now. He had been ordered to send an indignant letter to the editor of Newsweek.

The contents of this letter – which, incidentally, give away the gist of Josiah’s plan, and subsequently the contrivances of the Department of Evil – I won’t reveal, but Josiah had continuously emphasized the importance of perfection, and Mischa was not one to question his superiors.

The letter finished printing and Mischa read it aloud, making sure it was indeed flawless. Once satisfied he placed it into an envelope, addressed it and strutted out of the Radio Shack where he’d been typing. He was much more confident without Josiah around.

“So sir, are you interested in buying that computer?” asked a helpful clerk as Mischa stood up.

“No. Sucker!” shouted Mischa, running for the exit.

The clerk (who hated being insulted) took out his handy handgun and fired a few shots in Mischa’s general direction; but never having used a gun before, he was a terrible marksman, and Mischa managed to escape, letter in hand.

“That was close. Now I understand what Mr. Malum meant when he told me of the high risk of failure!” thought Mischa as he ran through the mall toward a mailbox, of whose location he had only the faintest inkling.

A few security guards noticed his running and tried to stop him, but nothing could stop Mischa now, except maybe a wall. Inevitably, he soon ran into one, giving himself a painful lump on the forehead.

Now moving much more slowly, Mischa limped out of the mall and through the parking lot. At the other end was a sidewalk, and along this sidewalk was, most conveniently, a mailbox.

He slipped the letter inside, exhaled deeply, and sat down on the curb, exhausted but satisfied. A black Cadillac Escalade suddenly drove up beside him and stopped abruptly. Mischa looked up as the window rolled down.

It was Josiah.

“Mischa!” he yelled, quite unnecessarily.

Mischa, already completely aware of Josiah’s presence, nevertheless gave a startled jump, landing on his back. Groaning with renewed pain and now shaking with fear, he stood up, looking apprehensively at his cruel boss.

“W-what is it, sir?” he asked.

“Did you send the letter yet, Mischa?” asked Josiah, smoking another cigarette.

“Yes sir, I d-did, sir! I t-typed it up in R-radio Shack, and I mailed it just now!” said Mischa proudly. “It w-wasn’t easy though. The shopkeeper, he tried to sh-shoot me!”

Josiah stared at Mischa, hardly daring to believe what he’d just heard. A wave of indescribable fury began to boil up inside of him, but when he next spoke, it was with his usual coolness – Josiah Malum masked his emotions very well.

“You typed the letter on a public computer? You typed the letter in the middle of a crowded mall?” demanded Josiah.

“W-well, you see, sir, I had to s-sell my home computer to b-buy food after you c-c-cut my pay again, so I figured –”

“MISCHA!” yelled Josiah, finally abandoning his usual air of calmness, “That letter was the first and arguably most important part of a brilliantly evil and convoluted scheme! Typing it in public is quite possibly the stupidest thing you could have done! At least tell me you had the sense not to save it?”

“Umm…I don’t…think I did, sir,” lied Mischa, now shaking so severely it was a wonder he managed to stay on his feet.

Josiah shook his head, “For your sake, Mischa, I hope you didn’t. Because if you did, you’re going to get the spanking of a lifetime!”

Mischa Petrovitch fainted.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


John drove as fast as he could to Suicide Bridge (an eerily appropriate name) and parked a few feet away, not even bothering to lock his door. The bridge itself was constructed from now-weathered stone, and it was situated sixty feet above a lake.

Lake Suicide (this was a very uncreative town) was ridiculously shallow, littered with jagged rocks that pointed upward, as if a thousand stone fingers were flipping off the heavens. Rumor had it that the lake was also inhabited by man-eating monsters, though this claim was never proven, except once, when two men on a fishing trip were mysteriously eaten.

John got out of his car and walked slowly, deliberately to the center of the bridge, a look of grim determination now etched onto his perpetually scowling face. He stared down thoughtfully into the abyss below, black water pounding violently against the numerous rocks.

“I always knew my death would be the result of jumping off a bridge. That fortune cookie really nailed it,” he mused.

As he leaned over the edge and prepared to leap, a familiar voice interrupted his thinking.

“John! Hey John, what are you doing? Going swimming? Can I come too? I love swimming! As long as the water doesn’t go above my ankles, I mean. Then I get scared,” said Bill, cheerfully unaware of John’s intentions.

“No Bill, I’m not going swimming. I’m about to kill myself, and I’ll thank you to let me die in peace,” explained John.

“You’re gonna kill yourself?!” exclaimed Bill, alarmed. “You can’t do that! You’re the only person who’s ever been nice to me!”

“Nice to you? I haven’t been nice to you! I broke your nose last week!” argued John, perplexed and frustrated.

“But you also taught me to believe in myself,” said Bill.

“No I didn’t,” said John venemously.

“Oh, right. Well you still can’t kill yourself, John. It’s just like my mom used to say: ‘Life is like a box of exploding tissues. You can wipe your nose with them, but then they’ll explode, and you’ll be in pain, and it’ll be much worse than just having to wipe your nose, so you’re really better off not using them at all, since they do more harm than good,’” said Bill.

John stared blankly at Bill for a few seconds.

“I’m so confused I can’t do it anymore. Thanks Bill. You stopped me from making a big mistake. I’ve never known anyone who cared so much about me before,” said John. “But I have to ask: how did you get here so quickly? I was driving the whole time, and you didn’t have a car.”

Bill began loudly counting a flock of passing birds, and John decided to drop the subject. Abandoning his car for no reason at all, he and Bill walked home. Despite all their differences, there was no denying that John and Bill were now officially friends.

“Let’s get one thing straight, Bill: I may be walking home with you, but we’re only friends on a completely unofficial basis.”