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.