Thursday, January 31, 2008


Mischa and Rupert, as per the mountain’s prophesy, had been traveling east for weeks, but they hadn’t encountered anybody since their meeting with the purple mountain, nor had they seen anything other than vast, empty desert.

“You know, Comrade, I am beginning to think that maybe that mountain gave us some bad information,” said Mischa.

“I said that yesterday,” grumbled Rupert as he kicked a rock out of his way. “Why don’t you ever say anything original?”

There was absolutely nothing around them; they were in the middle of a barren, inhospitable wasteland. The only living things they could see were vultures, and even those were lying supine on the ground, motionless and dead. Now that I think about it, I don’t think they can be considered living.

Rupert, who despite working for Mischa was clearly leading the expedition, decided to stop walking around noon, because the sun was getting far too hot for either of them to endure. In reality though, it was only too hot for Mischa to endure, because Rupert was inured to such hot conditions, having once survived in the middle of the Sahara without food or water for a month, during the course of which he developed quite a taste for tumbleweed. But that’s a story for another day.

They constructed a makeshift shelter out of sand and heat and were getting ready to relax, when all of a sudden, Mischa spotted something that seemed quite out of place: a gigantic purple mountain.

Yes, it was the same mountain they’d seen earlier. The two men were flabbergasted; after all, there are few things odder than a talking purple mountain, but if anything is, it’s a talking purple mountain that can travel vast distances instantaneously.

“Comrade, do you see what I see?” asked Mischa.

“I think I do, Mischa. I think I do,” answered Rupert. “Unless you have visual problems, in which case you probably see something different from what I see. But I’ll just assume your eyesight is spite of the rest of you.”

The two (well, just Rupert again…Mischa’s not much of a leader) decided to approach the mountain and ask it two things: what it was doing, and how it got there. Before they were halfway to it, however, the mountain spoke.


And with that, the mountain vanished, leaving Mischa and Rupert feeling a mixture of extreme confusion and extreme annoyance. They ran up to it, nearly passing out from the exertion, searching every crevice, every crater, for some sign that the mountain had been there. They found nothing.

“Well, I guess we should start going west,” suggested Rupert, shaking his head as if to make sense of what had just occurred.

“Yes, that sounds good. Let us go!” agreed Mischa, and they set off once more…in the opposite direction.

Having traveled for so long, the next few weeks were spent retracing their earlier steps, and it was so boring that the men were almost driven to cannibalism just to break the monotony. Finally though, they reached the point where they’d first encountered the purple mountain, and sure enough, there it was, sitting alone (as mountains do) beside the valley.

“Hello Comrade,” called Mischa. “We have returned, just as you told us to!”


“How is that even possible?” wondered Rupert. “You clearly don’t have a TV, and even if you did, there’s no conceivable way you’d get cable. I have a sneaking suspicion you’re lying – like a Communist.”


“You came to us in the desert and told us to come west!” said Mischa. “So we backtracked, and now we are here again.”


Mischa and Rupert looked at each other, mouths hanging wide open, for a long while. The year was moving onward and they still needed to find 99 more soldiers.

Not only had they wasted many weeks going backward, but now it looked as though they’d have to waste even more time just to get back to where they’d already been.

“Let’s just clone ourselves 99 times,” suggested Rupert.

“Good idea, Comrade.”

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


John, Bill and Jeannine followed the man who had approached their vehicle into the now-ravaged palace. John was appalled by the sheer magnitude of the damage that had been done in so short a time, mostly because he didn’t think his insurance would cover it.
He demanded an explanation, but the man guiding them couldn’t talk; he just led them inexorably onward, toward what had previously been Claudius’s throne room.

Inside of it, a group of guards in tattered rags, with bent and broken weapons, stood miserably in a circle, talking to each other in low voices. When John entered the room, they stood at attention. He was, after all, their king.

The man who had led them there turned to John, inhaled deeply, and finally said, “Welcome to what remains of your kingdom, my King. I am Pompetus, a random vassal.”

“What happened here?!” shouted John. “What could have done this to my palace? It’s not like I was gone for long. Are you people that incompetent, that you can’t hold a kingdom together for two weeks?”

“A kingdom without a king is a kingdom most vulnerable, King John. Immediately after you departed, a savage fiend came to us in the night and slaughtered forty men,” said Pompetus.
“Well, you can’t spell slaughter without laughter!” offered Bill helpfully.

“We tried to fight him, but our weapons did no damage. Even our sharpest blades couldn’t pierce his wretched skin,” he continued.

“Why didn’t you use guns? We have plenty of them,” said John. “And why do you have swords at all? That’s just stupid.”

“Ah! AH! You see? This is why we need a king! We never would have thought of that,” said Pompetus. “Your majesty, now that you have finally arrived, you must purge your kingdom of this evil. Then you will truly be beloved.”

“What are you talking about? I’m already beloved! Brilliant, handsome, strong – who wouldn’t like me?” challenged John, taking great comfort in Jeannine’s vigorous nods of agreement.

“Well, you are a bit arrogant, my Lord,” said Pompetus cautiously.

“Insolent fool, I’m not arrogant; I’m just better than everyone. Oh, but I wouldn’t expect you to understand. After all, I’m like a god to you people,” said John. “All right, I’ll slay this monster. I’ll slay it dead. What is it, anyway? Dragon? Giant? Robot?”

“It is no ordinary beast. Indeed, you actually used to know this monster personally, my Lord,” explained Pompetus. “You see, he was once human: a great friend to our kingdom. He grew up here. He was your closest childhood companion, if I recall correctly. But alas, under Claudius’s reign he was stricken with acne, and poor eyesight; and he developed an unhappy addiction to tabletop role-playing games. Claudius banished him, and that was his end…or so we thought. This monster is the apotheosis of nerdy darkness: the foul creature Wendel.”

“WENDEL?” blurted out John. “Wendel Berenbaumstein, evil? You must be mad! I demand some sort of proof. If you can’t prove it, I don’t believe it.”

“Well, he’s eating that man over there, right behind you,” said Pompetus. “You’d see it if you’d turn your head a little bit.”

“That evidence is pretty hard to ignore, John,” said Jeannine.

“I’m sure it is, but I’m far too important to turn my head and look,” snapped John. “And Bill! What the hell are you – no, not on the floor, you – dammit, Bill!”

“Er…sorry to interrupt, Sir, but aren’t you going to stop him or something?” asked Pompetus.

“Stop Bill?” asked John. “No, I’ve found it’s a losing battle trying to control that moron. This one time, he –”

“No, my Lord, I’m talking about Wendel,” said the vassal.

“Oh, right. Fine, I’ll kill him – but only on one condition,” said John.

“What is it, my King?” asked Pompetus.

“Give me those potted daisies I saw in the courtyard,” commanded John.

Pompetus was perplexed, but he couldn’t find any harm in that request, so he agreed. Little did he realize that it would be the last thing he would ever agree to…

Because he was, by nature, extremely contentious and rarely agreed with anyone about anything. He doesn’t die, though, if that’s what you were thinking. It probably was, wasn’t it?

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Mischa and Rupert were travelling across Europe, trying to find more warriors for the impending battle. They had become very close friends – comrades, if you will – despite their vast, vast differences. For example, Mischa was a Communist whereas Rupert had sworn a blood oath to brutalize all Communists.

Nonetheless, they forged a friendship, probably due to Mischa’s strategy for not getting Rupert to kill him: lying. Mischa had been well trained in the art of lying, having been forced to agree with everything Josiah said, even when he thought differently.

So onward they walked, neither one having enough money for faster, more efficient means of transportation. One morning, they came upon a valley through which they had to pass in order to get to their (as of yet undecided) destination.

“Comrade!” shouted Mischa, “I do not think we will be able to get through this valley without walking along the base of this mountain. But look! There is something very strange about it!”

Indeed, it was a very strange mountain, probably the strangest one ever. The first thing they noticed about this flamboyantly eccentric mountain was that it was bright purple. Not many mountains are purple at all, and bright purple? Forget about it. Also, it had a face, and it was quite obviously breathing. That’s pretty strange too.

“WHO DARES DISTURB MY SLUMBER?” demanded the (evidently) living mountain. “I WAS DREAMING ABOUT PUPPIES.”

Mischa and Rupert were taken aback, clearly not having expected the mountain to start talking. They also vaguely wondered how they’d disturbed its slumber, still being at least a mile away and not having talked especially loudly.

“We m-mean you n-no harm, Comrade!” said Mischa, his voice regaining the tremulousness usually reserved for conversations with Josiah. “We j-just want to p-pass through the valley!”


“Wait, a what?” demanded Rupert.


It paused for a moment, then said, “WELL? GO AWAY.”

“Err…okay, Comrade. Thank you!” called Mischa, hurrying past the mountain with Rupert.

They walked for a few more miles, eager to put as much distance between themselves and the rentsy purple mountain as possible. At length they passed a felled tree, which they decided to sit on for a moment, to rest.

“Do you think we should listen to that mountain?” asked Rupert. “It seems to know what it’s talking about.”

“We might as well, Comrade. After all, why would a mountain lie?” responded Mischa. “Besides, we were going east anyway, so it’s not like it makes a difference.”

“You have a point there, Mischa,” said Rupert. “Like the point of this knife, which I’ve driven into the hearts of many a Communist!”

“That is a spoon, Comrade,” said Mischa.

“Oh. So it is. That certainly explains why they never die.”

“Indeed! Now, let us keep going,” urged Mischa.

And the two companions merrily skipped away.

Friday, January 25, 2008


John, Bill and Jeannine were driving back to Denmark in a truck they’d stolen. They had a year to find a hundred soldiers, and John figured that, what with his being the rightful king of Denmark, he’d have no trouble finding some there.

“Being the rightful king of Denmark, I’ll have no trouble getting soldiers to fight for me,” he explained to Bill, whose head was hanging out the window.

“But John,” said Jeannine, “in your absence, the people may have elected a new king. They’re very impatient, you know. I’d say there’s a decent chance that you’ll no longer have power there.”

“Nonsense, why would they do a silly thing like that? I’m the only leader Denmark will ever need,” asserted John. “Besides, they owe me for getting rid of Claudius. Even on the off chance they have a new king already, they’re bound to give me the men I need out of sheer gratitude for killing that horrible fiend.”

“I probably should have told you this before you killed him, but Claudius was the most beloved king Denmark ever had. Your father, on the other hand, regularly executed peasants for his own amusement,” said Jeannine.

“Are you saying Claudius was a better king than my father?” demanded John. “Because that’s sure what it sounds like. And I never misinterpret things.”

They drove into a pothole, causing Bill (who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt) to fly head-first out the window. John didn’t stop.

“No, no! Of course not! Well yes,” said Jeannine quickly.

Now John stopped the car, turning to stare threateningly at the woman so unreasonably infatuated with him. When he spoke, it was slowly and deliberately, with menacing emphasis placed on every syllable.

“I respectfully disagree.”

He drove on. After a few miles, John and Jeannine spotted Bill on the side of the road, waving to them.

“How the hell does he keep doing that?” wondered John as he stopped to let the garbage man enter.

“Hey guys! What’s up? Did you see that cloud that looked like a faucet? Wow, it was so cool! Just like me. My mom says I’m the coolest –”

John nodded to Jeannine, who put a large piece of duct tape over Bill’s mouth as John started up the truck once more. Unfortunately for them, Bill was immune to duct tape.

“Anyway, where were we?” John asked.

“You’d just asked me out,” replied Jeannine, figuring she might as well take the opportunity.

“No, that can’t be right. I’d never do that,” said John plainly.

“You know, you’re very unresponsive to my advances,” noted Jeannine with just a hint of bitterness in her voice.

“Yes, well, you’re very ugly,” said John.

They drove on in silence until they reached Denmark, that is, unless you count Bill’s rambling. John didn’t have time to listen, however; he drove straight to the palace, which he was later shocked to learn was not at all as he remembered it.

His castle was in ruins. Dead bodies littered the courtyard and the once magnificent tower was dented and crumbling. A dense fog surrounded the building, foreboding and cruel.

“What happened here?” asked John, aghast.

A man ran up to their truck, and John rolled down his window, awaiting some sort of explanation.

“King John!” he cried. “You must – a terrible – horrible – I can’t – follow me!”

“He can’t follow himself?” asked Bill. “That’s just stupid!”

“Not as stupid as you,” muttered John.


“You’re an idiot.”


Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Shamus Flanagan was patrolling the streets of Washington, but only halfheartedly. Since Sanchez had died while pursuing Josiah, Shamus was now the last remaining member of the NBA; and as John hadn’t contacted him in a very long time, he was certain Josiah had killed him too.

“I hate to admit it, but I’m fairly sure the laddie’s dead,” lamented Shamus, sighing. “I guess I’ll have to stop Josiah Malum by meself.”

Shamus continued walking until he passed an electronics store, with a TV in its window. Shamus stopped in his tracks when he saw what was on the screen: the unmistakable visage of Josiah Malum himself. He was making an announcement.

“Attention America. I am Josiah Malum, your Secretary of Evil, and I have called this press conference in order to inform you all that my evil plan is finally going to commence. It is by far the most evil plan ever contrived. I mean, I have come up with some pretty evil plans before, but this one is even more evil than those were. It’s really, really evil. If you want to get an idea of how evil it is, think of the most evil thing you can. Then multiply it by three. That’s about half as evil as my plan is. Rest assured, the evil will permeate every facet of your lives. There will be no escape from the merciless onslaught of evil about to be unleashed upon this fair country. God bless America.”

“Alas, my prediction was right!” exclaimed Shamus, falling to his knees. “If Josiah’s going on with his evil plan, John must be dead. Oh, ‘tis a terrible tragedy!”

Shamus, fighting back tears, looked directly into the cold, powerful eyes of Josiah Malum’s TV image. He knew what he had to do.

“I give up,” he said, picking himself up and walking away.

After a few more miles he reached his home. As it turns out, when Josiah’s ninjas had blown up his restaurant, they’d actually been doing him quite a favor, as it had been insured for a cool two million dollars. Shamus had taken the money and bought a mansion, mansion ownership having long been one of his lifelong dreams.

Shamus entered, threw his various weapons onto the counter, poured himself a drink and retired to his sitting room, prepared to live out the rest of his life in wealthy obscurity. But sitting down in his solid gold chair, drinking his solid gold wine, Shamus had a change of heart.

“No!” he said. “I need to stop Josiah, hopeless or not. It’s what John would’ve wanted, after all.”

He stood up and, stumbling (golden wine is very potent), walked to the door. When he opened it, however, he saw someone he really wasn’t expecting: Josiah Malum.

“Hello, Shamus,” said the Secretary. “I’ll bet you weren’t expecting me!”

“What? Who are you? Where am I?” asked a very drunk Shamus.

“Don’t play coy with me, you fool,” ordered Josiah. “You know who I am and you know why I’m here: to kill you. With you out of the way, my evil plan will be able to proceed unhindered, since I’ve brilliantly managed to keep John and Mischa preoccupied.”

Suddenly Shamus snapped back into cognizance. John wasn’t dead!

“Are you tellin’ me that Johnny boy ain’t dead, laddie?” he asked. “That’s great news!”

Shamus punched Josiah in the face, giving him a concussion.

“I’d kill ya, but that’d be a wee bit anti-climactic, wouldn’t it? No, I’m not that kind of person. But that floggin’ to your noggin should keep you out of it for…oh, about a year,” said Shamus.
“Now I’m gonna go find John! We got a fair amount of plannin’ to do, that’s for sure.”

Happily, Shamus leapt into the air and flew away.

Monday, January 21, 2008


The stage was set. John and Mischa each had one year to gather a hundred companions for battle. They would fight in the Coliseum for glory, honor, and the lovely Cyprus Papandrou.

This setup, however, caused quite a few problems. For one, John and Mischa were supposed to be on the same side; very little could be gained from their fighting each other. For another, they were playing right into the hands of Josiah Malum, their sworn nemesis, and both of them knew it. Thirdly, this left Bill and Jeannine very conflicted, as they didn’t know whom to follow.

“There is only one fair way to do this, Comrade. We will let them decide which of us they wish to travel with,” suggested Mischa.

“John,” said Bill and Jeannine in perfect unison.

“Oh…” said a subdued Mischa. “Because I was hoping that perhaps one of you would accompany me.”

“You would hope for something like that. Come on Bill, Jeannine. We have an army to raise!” said John, confidently strutting out of the Coliseum.

“I do feel kind of bad leaving Mischa with nobody like that,” said Jeannine. “After all, he isn’t a bad person.”

“Stop talking, Jeannine.”

“All right.”

Mischa watched them walk away for a long, long time, then turned to Josiah, dejected. And trembling, of course. He trembled a lot.

“S-sir?” he began. “Do you think that m-maybe you could provide someone to ac-company me?”

“No. Get out of here!” commanded Josiah. “I finally have time to carry out my evil plan, and I’m not going to waste it talking to you.”

“What w-was that plan again, Mr. Malum?” inquired Mischa.

“I’m not telling you; you betrayed me! Oh, but it’s so evil I almost want to reveal it to everyone. In fact, it’s probably grown even more evil since I last thought about it. That’s how evil is, Mischa – like wine. It gets finer with age!” explained Josiah. “Now leave before I shoot off your kneecaps.”

Mischa trudged out of the Coliseum. He could see John and Jeannine off in the distance, laughing at Bill’s ridiculous antics. He let out a sigh.

“Abused by my boss, then rejected by my friends. I will win this battle, no matter what the cost! That will show everyone,” he said determinedly. “Nobody will kick around Mischa Petrovitch anymore!”

He started running, though he didn’t know whither. After a few hours he stopped, realizing that he had absolutely no idea where he was. Looking left and right, he saw an extremely well-muscled man walking toward him. He carried a bowie knife in one hand and was dressed in military camouflage.

Mischa’s heart skipped a beat. Finally, a ray of hope had appeared, in the form of a scowling wanderer.

“Hey you!” called Mischa. “Would you like to be in my army?”

“Yeah, sure,” replied the man. “My name’s Rupert. I’m a mercenary soldier. I specialize in battles fought over a beautiful woman, and I work best in groups of about a hundred.”

“Wow! Who would have thought that the first person I encountered would be so suitable?” wondered Mischa aloud.

“Who are you talking to?” asked Rupert.

“I was just thinking out loud, Comrade,” replied Mischa.

“You’re not a Communist, are you? My father was killed by Communists back in the Cold War. At his funeral, I swore to myself that I’d kill any Commie I met,” said Rupert, baring his teeth menacingly.

“No, I come from America, Comrade,” said Mischa.

“Really? You don’t sound very American,” countered Rupert.

“But I assure you, I am as American as…apple pie, and borscht!” insisted Mischa.

“Well, I do love a big bowl of borscht. All right, I’ll help you with your battle,” said Rupert. “But I’ll need payment.”

“What do you require, Comrade?” asked Mischa.

“Your SOUL!”

“My – my soul?” asked Mischa cautiously.

“I didn’t say soul. I said $20. I need to buy myself a steak.”

“I am sorry, Comrade. I do not think I can afford that,” said Mischa, disappointed. “All I have on me is $4.25.”

Rupert stood contemplating that for a moment.

“I guess I’ll take it. God, I’m hungry. Come on, Mischa; let’s get going.”

“How do you know my name?”

“Lucky guess.”

Saturday, January 19, 2008


After departing from the Coliseum with Jeannine and Bill, John decided to rent a hotel room, where he could start formulating plans to woo that beautiful woman, despite not knowing her name.

“You know John, I really think you ought to focus on Josiah,” said Jeannine. “This woman is clearly just a distraction, like that Red Herring you told me about.”

“That was yummy!” interjected Bill.

“Jeannine, I’ll do my job and you do yours,” said John.

“But my job is to do your job. Your old job, anyway.”

“Right. Because I have a new job: winning over that woman!”

“You don’t even know her name, do you?” asked Jeannine.

“I’m sure I’ll figure it out!” retorted John. “I’ll hear no more of this. Bill, come on, let’s see what we can think up. On second thought, let’s see what I can think up, and whether you can stay quiet long enough for me not to pray for death.”


John and Bill retired to one corner of the room, leaving Jeannine alone. She set to work on her
anti-Josiah plans and didn’t stop until dawn, when she was startled by a ringing telephone. As it turned out, John was expected at the Coliseum at noon. It was a personal invitation from none other than Josiah Malum.

“This is highly suspicious,” said John, after Jeannine told him about the call. “That man has tried to kill me on numerous occasions. It would probably be in my best interest not to go, but really, where’s the fun in that?”

“Hey guys,” said Bill, crawling in through the window. “Boy, wait till I tell you about all the crazy adventures I had last night!”

“That’ll have to wait, Bill,” said John. “We’re going to the Coliseum! No, not you, Jeannine; that woman might be there, and I don’t want her to think I’m already in a relationship.”

Jeannine, glowering, sighed. Bill and John left the hotel, inexplicably opting to walk instead of taking some sort of vehicle.

“Why are we going to the Coliseum?” asked Bill.

“Because Josiah Malum asked me to,” replied John. “That’s our ostensible purpose. Really, I’m just going to see that woman again.”

“But why are we listening to Josiah Malum?” asked Bill.

“Oh, it’s quite simple, for someone whose intellect is as massive as mine. You see, upon receiving that message, I figured Josiah was trying to lead me into a trap. But I know he’s too smart for something that simple; he probably sent that message being fully aware that I’d suspect a trap. So he doesn’t actually expect me to show up – meaning not going is actually the trap he’s trying to lead me into. Therefore, by walking into the original trap, I’m actually avoiding the real one. Got that?”

Bill passed out from mental exhaustion, so John grabbed him by the arm and pulled him the rest of the way to the Coliseum.

When they arrived, they were led by a guard into the arena, where Josiah stood at a podium. Mischa was standing in chains to his left, and Cyprus stood beside him.

“Welcome, Mr. Morgan. I knew you’d know I didn’t think you’d come, so I was ready,” said Josiah.

“Damn! He was one step ahead,” cursed John. “Well, what do you want, Malum? I have flowers to water.”

“It’s quite simple. You are attracted to Miss Papandrou, aren’t you?” he asked. “Yes, of course you are. I don’t need to be a mind reader (which, apropos, Cyprus is) to know that. Oddly enough, Mischa is also in love with her. I propose a contest!”

“A contest? What kind of contest?” asked Bill, who had unfortunately regained consciousness.

“Battle,” replied Josiah. “John and Mischa are going to fight for Cyprus’s hand in marriage!"

“Marriage?! I never agreed to –”

“Silence! Anyway John, you and Mischa will each put together an army. Then you shall do battle, right here; and the winner will marry Cyprus,” explained Josiah.

“What’s in it for you?” asked John skeptically.

“Well obviously, in the time you spend putting together your team, I’ll be able to carry out that evil plan of mine you keep thwarting,” said Josiah.

“Fair enough. Very well, I agree to this contest,” said John.

“Excellent,” replied Josiah. “Then it is decided: you and Mischa shall each construct a team of one hundred men, and you’ll return here in one hundred years to fight!”

“A hundred years?” asked John.

“Oh, sorry, I read that wrong. One year,” said Josiah, correcting himself.

“Because a hundred would be too many.”


Thursday, January 17, 2008


Unfortunately for John, Josiah was not like Claudius. Instead of relying on an archaic “spy-behind-the-arras” system, he had placed surveillance cameras all around the city, and he monitored them constantly. As a result, he was aware within minutes of John’s new plan to kill him: having Jeannine do it instead.

Josiah knew that he obviously couldn’t allow anyone to kill him, so the plan had to be stopped; but he was reluctant to waste so much time foiling a single assassination attempt. Instead he set to work devising a scheme that would kill two birds with one stone. The other bird, of course, was Mischa.

“Maybe if I…no, that won’t work,” he thought to himself. “There has to be a simple way to punish Mischa for his apostasy while simultaneously killing John and his friends!”

Cyprus, beautiful as ever, entered the room and sat down next to her new boss. She had brought him hot cocoa, his favorite beverage.

Setting it down in front of him, she said, “Perhaps you should make two plans, Mr. Malum. It would certainly be easier.”

“How did you know what I was – oh, right, the telepathy. I’m very uncomfortable with that, you know,” said Josiah.

“Yes, I know,” replied Cyprus.

“But how could you – ah, yes, of course…how silly of me. Anyway, no, I can’t just make two plans. What kind of loser would make two plans? That’s the coward’s way out, Cyprus. And Josiah Malum is no coward!” he yelled, lighting a cigarette.

“Is that why you sleep with a night light?” asked Cyprus.

“I don’t have a night light because I’m afraid, you fool! I just don’t want to trip if I get up and have to go to the bathroom, or something,” explained Josiah. “That would be inconvenient, and Josiah Malum does not like inconvenience!”

“You’re lying. I can tell,” said Cyprus.

“Ha! How would you be able to know whether I’m telling the truth or lying?” demanded Josiah.
“Because I’m psychic?” said Cyprus impatiently.

“I can’t believe I forgot that again. Well, the point is, I need to find one plan that will accomplish both of my goals: stopping John, thereby clearing the way for my evil plan; and tormenting Mischa, thereby making me happy,” said Josiah. “And I’m having far more trouble than an evil genius of my caliber should.”

“Come with me,” said Cyprus. “I know just the thing to give you back your inspiration. And don’t bother asking how I know. I’m psychic.”

Josiah said nothing, instead choosing – for the first time in his life – to obey an underling. He followed Cyprus down to the dungeon, the very dungeon Mischa still inhabited.

“That’s perfect! Terrifying Mischa always gave me magnificent ideas. I like the way you think, Cyprus,” complimented Josiah.

“You’re such a simple man, Josiah,” replied Cyprus. “You’re not going to terrify Mischa; you can’t! If you do it, you’ll be defeating the whole purpose of this excursion.”


“You have two goals: punishing Mischa and stopping John. You want to accomplish both with one masterful plan, to kill two birds with one stone. If you need to torture Mischa for inspiration, you’ll be killing one of those two birds already,” said Cyprus.

“Then why are we here, if I’m not allowed to torture Mischa yet?” demanded Josiah.

“I am going to torture Mischa.”

Cyprus smirked and opened the dungeon door. Inside they could see Mischa sitting there alone, staring at the courtyard. He was waiting for Cyprus to come into view again and was thus wonderfully shocked to see her walking through the door.

His elation was stymied, however, because Josiah walked in right behind her, a look of anticipation on his face the likes of which Mischa had never seen before.

“MISCHA!” he yelled. “Oh, that felt good.”

“Mr. M-malum!” shouted Mischa, terrified. “W-why am I b-being kept here? Who is that beautiful woman?”

“Stop asking questions, Mischa! She’s here to torture you, and I’m here to watch!” said Josiah, causing Mischa to cower away, whimpering. “I could do it myself, but I’m not going to, for reasons you’re not good enough to hear. Take it away, Cyprus!”

“Mischa, Mischa, Mischa: have I got a torture for you,” began Cyprus.

She reached into a bag and pulled out a rectangular box. Mischa’s eyes widened in apprehension, Josiah’s in joy.

“Do you know what this is, Mischa? It’s the movie Elektra. You’re going to watch it, beginning to end!”

His screams were heard for miles.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


John, Bill, Mischa and Jeannine awoke the next morning, eager to continue their search for the whereabouts of Josiah Malum. Well, John was eager, anyway. Bill was too stupid to realize what was happening, Mischa would rather have died than been forced to see his boss again, and Jeannine was just hopelessly attracted to John. But John was eager – very eager.

They wandered around the city for a while before realizing that they had wandered around that precise area on the previous day. They also realized that they had absolutely no clue where to look or whom to ask. Defeated, they sat down on a park bench.

“This is hopeless, Comrades,” complained Mischa. “At this rate, we will never find Josiah. I think we should give up and stop looking for him and vow never to see him again!”

“No, that’s the loser’s way out, Mischa,” retorted John. “We’re going to keep looking and we’re going to find him.”

“Yeah! Whatever John just said!” agreed Bill.

Bill and Mischa began quarreling, giving John time to contemplate his next move. He decided to make use of the logic skills that only a US mailman would possess.

“If I were Josiah Malum, where would I – THE COLISEUM!” he yelled, suddenly standing up and running toward the immense stadium, which was conveniently mere inches away.

His three companions followed, and before long they stood at the entrance. As they walked through it, however, dozens of armed guards jumped out to block their path.

“We have been expecting you,” said one confidently. “You are all under arrest for conspiring against Josiah Malum. Please follow me to the dungeon.”

John decided to play along, and he gestured for the others to follow him.

“Comrade, are you sure that we should allow ourselves to be captured like this?” questioned Mischa.

“Yes, Mischa. I have a plan,” lied John.

The guards led them down to a small, dark dungeon, which only had one window. Through this window they could see a splendid, verdant courtyard, but not much else.

“Now the door here doesn’t lock, so you’re all on the honor system not to escape,” said the guard, leaving.

After a few hours of bickering and show tunes (the latter provided by Bill), Mischa noticed that someone was entering the courtyard. It was the most beautiful woman imaginable – Cyprus Papandrou.

She was sacrificing a live deer to one of her gods, and her ritualistic pagan dance was the loveliest thing Mischa could recall ever having seen. His heart began to race.

“Comrade! Look at that woman,” said Mischa, gesturing for John to look out the window.

“Wow, she’s really hot,” said John, to Jeannine’s great displeasure. “I’ve never seen someone drink blood so erotically!”

“She’s not that great,” said Jeannine bitterly. “Besides, it’s not like it really matters. We’re stuck here indefinitely, so neither of you will ever get a chance with her.”

“You have a point there,” said John dejectedly.

They stood there disappointed for a few more hours, at which point a guard came through the door holding a rolled piece of parchment in his hand. He unfurled it ostentatiously and read it.

“The boss says you’re all free. Except you,” he said, pointing at Mischa. “You have to stay here – FOREVER! And it says here that I’m supposed to laugh now, ‘for as long as necessary,’ but I’m gonna skip that part. I’m trying to get fired.”

The guard stood there for a moment, then turned around and left, and John, Bill and Jeannine followed him.

“Comrades!” called Mischa, “You are going to come back for me, right? Right, Comrades? Hello?”

When they were back aboveground, John turned to Jeannine. Bill had run off to chase after a car (he really liked the blue ones).

“Okay, here’s the new plan. I’m going to try to get that woman to go out with me, and you’re going to go kill Josiah for whatever reason we had. Got that?” he said.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t rather ask someone else out, John?” asked Jeannine, a prurient glint in her eye.

“Who? Bill? Are you insane?! Just stick to the plan, Jeannine!”

Sunday, January 13, 2008


The four arrived in Rome a week later; Jeannine insisted she needed the extra time to pack. Shortly after they got there, they began searching for Josiah, whom they had immense difficulty locating.

“We’ll never be able to stop him if we don’t know where he is,” said John. “We’ll keep looking tomorrow. I’m too tired tonight.”

“I wonder what he is doing here, Comrades,” pondered Mischa.

“All I know is what I already told you: he came to Rome in search of a new assistant. Whether he found one is anyone’s guess,” replied Jeannine. “I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.”

But you, lucky reader, are going to find out now. Having abandoned all hope of finding a competent assistant in America, Josiah had set up a base in the Coliseum, where he hoped to accomplish all of his remaining goals. The first was, as Jeannine had said, to find a new assistant.

“So why do you want to be my assistant, Mr. –”

“Graham. Doctor Graham.”

Josiah sat at an ancient, crumbling desk, across from a very pompous applicant, a man evidently named Doctor Graham. He was the first candidate to be interviewed.

“I’m a doctor,” continued the applicant.

“Yes, I was already aware of that, thank you,” replied Josiah.

“Well how could you possibly have known?” inquired the man.

“You introduced yourself as Doctor Graham!” said Josiah impatiently.

“Oh, no, no, no! Doctor is actually my first name. It’s purely coincidental that medicine also happens to be the occupational path I’ve chosen,” explained the doctor.

“So you’re Dr. Doctor Graham?” asked Josiah skeptically.


“Okay, well, I don’t think you’re quite what I’m looking for at this time. Get out of here before I have you murdered,” said Josiah abruptly. “Next!”

Doctor Graham sulked away bitterly and the next applicant sat down. This one was a woman, easily more beautiful than every other woman in the world combined and placed into a giant gem-encrusted swimming pool filled with gold and chocolate – GOOD chocolate, not the crap you’d get in a supermarket or whatever.

“Hello there, Mr. Malum. I’m Cyprus Papandrou,” she said.

Josiah, however, was too awed by Cyprus’s magnificent beauty to respond. He simply sat there staring, his mouth hanging open, his eyes nearly bulging out of their sockets.

But then Josiah’s inner evil began to work its magic, and he remembered the plan, remembered his mission: he pulled himself together. She was just another applicant, to be treated the same as any other.

“Welcome, Miss Papandrou. So, you wish to be Deputy Secretary of Evil. Do you have any past evil experience?” he asked.

“Oh yes,” replied Cyprus, “I used to slaughter puppies and eat their flesh. Oh, what am I saying, ‘used to’; I did it just this morning!”

“Wow! That’s really evil!” blurted out Josiah, again letting his obvious attraction get the best of him. “I mean…very impressive, Miss Papandrou; very impressive indeed. Well, you certainly appear qualified. I’ll get back to you.”

He nodded curtly, and Cyprus stood up, flashing Josiah a coy smile before exiting. He took out a cigarette and watched her intently as she left, accidentally lighting his finger.

“I think I’ve found myself a new assistant,” he said to himself. “Now I need to get back to my evil plotting. My hand hurts.”

Thus Josiah set to work on his plan, trying not to give in to his urge to call Cyprus. Before ten minutes had passed, however, Josiah realized the futility of his endeavor. He picked up the ancient Roman phone on his desk and dialed Cyprus’s number.

“You’ve got the job,” he said, not bothering to introduce himself.

“Yes, I already knew that,” she replied.

“How?” asked Josiah. “That’s impossible!”

“Not if you have psychic powers,” retorted Cyprus mysteriously. “Which I do, if you didn’t get that implication.”

“You can read minds?” asked Josiah, stunned.

“I certainly ca – oh…my…GOD!”


Friday, January 11, 2008


John stood opposite Claudius in the largest room of the castle: the dining room. They hadn’t cleared the table after dinner yet, so everyone was expecting the fight to be pretty awkward.

The plan John and Jeannine had concocted the previous evening had gone off so far without a hitch, mostly because Claudius’s spy had been killed (Claudius, incidentally, only vaguely wondered why Bob had never delivered a report. See, there’s that hubris Jeannine was talking about!)

The men looked at each other with intense loathing. Claudius had only loathed John for about an hour, however. Earlier that day, John had decided to trick some traveling actors into putting on a play exposing Claudius’s evil deeds, which left Claudius without any doubt regarding what John knew.

Wasting no time, Jeannine had come to him immediately after the play, convincing him that open combat with his nephew would be the best course of action.

“Think about it logically, sir.”

“Do you have to call me ‘sir’? We’re married!” said Claudius.

“Yes, I do. But really, now that John knows you murdered his father, he can’t be allowed to live,
can he?”

“No, of course not!”

“And what better way to kill him than to do it yourself? It will certainly win you the adulation of your subjects.”

“I do enjoy adulation…”

“Then it’s final. You’ll accept John’s challenge for open combat,” said Jeannine.

“What challenge?”

“Oh, he’ll be challenging you to open combat soon. I mean, probably. It’s not like I know or anything; I’m just guessing,” said Jeannine quickly.

The next part of the plan was left to Bill, who was to make a diversion. He had something
spectacular in mind.

Just as John and Claudius were about to begin their fight, all of the castle’s lights went out, and Bill entered the room, a white sheet draped over his head.

“Boo! I’m John’s father’s ghost! Everyone, look at me! Woooooo!” wailed Bill, who had forgotten to make eye holes and consequently bumped into a wall every few seconds.

“Hey everybody, look over there! A diversion!” yelled a guard.

Everyone in the room turned his attention to Bill’s charade, and Mischa took the opportunity to sneak up behind Claudius and stab him in the back.

“Arrggh!” yelled the bleeding king as he fell writhing to the ground.

The guards all rushed over to the aid of their dying monarch, mistakenly assuming they’d be able to cure him and thus neglecting to call a doctor. Jeannine stared down at him, her face eloquent with satisfaction. So did John.

“Before you die, Uncle, are there any murders you’d like to confess to?” asked John bitterly.

“It wasn’t my fault!” pleaded Claudius. “I’m not the man responsible for your father’s death! It was…him.”

“Who? Whom are you talking about? My father’s ghost told me that you murdered him as he slept, you evil…man!” shouted John.

“Yes, that is true, but, it was not my idea…” insisted Claudius. “I was only…following orders. The man…responsible…is…Josiah…Mal…”

Claudius died, never getting a chance to pronounce the final syllable. John, Bill, Mischa, Jeannine and all the guards stood in stunned silence for a while.

“So!” announced Bill. “I guess now we have to go after Josiah Mal! But who is he? I’ve never even heard of him before. I hope he’s nice.”

“Bill, why don’t you go man some garbage?” suggested John.

“Man some gar…oh, I get it! Man garbage! Garbage man! That’s hilarious! You’re really funny, John. I don’t know why –”

“Shut up, you idiot,” interrupted John. “and follow me. We’re going to go after Josiah Malum. It’s back to Washington!”

“Wait!” said Jeannine. “You will find that Josiah Malum is no longer in America. Desperate to find a new assistant and continue his plan, he has decided to search abroad.”

“FIRED?!” yelled John, Bill and Mischa simultaneously.

“What? Where’d you get that from? That’s not what I said at all,” said Jeannine. “Anyway, Josiah is currently looking in Rome. If you wish to find him, that is where you must go.”

“Well, all right then,” said John. “We’ll go to Rome!”

“May I come as well?” asked Jeannine hopefully.

“Can you cook?” stipulated John.

“No, but I really, really hate that Bill guy. I don’t know how you put up with him, honestly.”

“Welcome aboard!”

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Bill, as per John’s orders, went to find Mischa and brought him immediately to John’s room, where John sat waiting for their arrival. They were going to plan tomorrow’s assassination. After Bill and Mischa entered the room, John walked over to the door and made sure it was locked before sitting down again.

“I’ve had about three minutes to think, and throughout the course of these three minutes, I came up with precisely three plans. My original plan was to challenge Claudius to a sword fight, but I shortly realized that I’ve never even looked at a sword before. My next was to kill Bill, but that wouldn’t kill Claudius, so we’ll keep that as a backup. My new plan is a clever spin-off of my first: to challenge Claudius to a duel but have one of you stab him in the back when he’s not looking. And by one of you, I mean Mischa,” explained John.

“I will do it, Comrade! You needn’t worry, because my specialty is back stabbing,” assured Mischa. “But how am I to get into position without anybody noticing?”

“That’s the beauty of the plan. We’ll need a diversion – and nobody’s better at creating diversions than Bill,” said John, to Bill’s delight.

“Really? You think so? Wow! Thanks John! That’s the first nice thing you’ve ever said about me!” piped the garbageman.

“And I’m willing to bet it’ll be the last,” muttered John. “The only problem is that I don’t know how to get Claudius to agree to such a battle. Any suggestions?”

“I have one, John,” said Jeannine, walking through the door and entering the room.

“You! How did you get through the door?” demanded John.

“Well, you locked the door, but you apparently forgot to close it,” she said. “Anyway, as I was saying, I have an idea. You are worried that Claudius won’t fight you, correct?”

“Right,” said John.

“You needn’t worry. I can make him fight you easily. All I have to do is convince him that killing you in public would be the perfect way to gain the respect of his subjects. He is a very proud man. If he has one tragic flaw, it’s hubris,” said Jeannine.

“Very well,” responded John, “it’s settled. You’ll convince Claudius to fight me, Bill will distract all of his guards, and Mischa will stab him in the back, thereby putting my father’s spirit to rest. Don’t drink that, Bill; it’s ear poison.”

“Oh, whoops,” said Bill, putting down the bottle.

They all retired to their separate rooms, preparing for the next day, completely unaware that Bob Clark was, in fact, listening to the entire conversation, hidden behind a refulgent yellow arras, just one of dozens located throughout the castle. Reluctant to spend money on surveillance equipment, Claudius had instead opted to have his men hide behind arrases and listen in on conversations.

“The woman is a traitor, is she not? Then she shall die, although she’s very hot,” said Bob to himself. “I must inform the monarch of their plan. If not, his reign will end as it began!”

John, however, heard every word, as Bob had neither kept his voice down nor checked to see whether John was asleep yet.

“What have we here?” he yelled loudly. “A spy!”

John sprang out of bed and, picking up a sword, thrust it into the arras, slaying Bob.

“Ow! Now I’m dying. Thanks a lot, asshole.”

“You’re welcome,” said John, sneering. “And tomorrow, your king shall meet the same fate!”

Monday, January 7, 2008


John, Bill and Mischa had all been taken to different rooms for the night. They thought this was merely a gesture of generosity, perhaps to compensate for none of their having had any cake; but in reality, Claudius was using the classic divide and conquer method. He figured that by dividing his adversaries, he’d be able to conquer them. Pretty self-explanatory.

Little did he know, however, that in the minute or so of having known him Jeannine had grown infatuated with John, and she now contrived to save him. And, vicariously, Bill and Mischa, I guess, since they’re his companions and all.

She came to John in the night, sneaking stealthily past the sleeping guard posted outside his door and waking John with a light whisper in his ear. It was very romantic.

“You must leave this place,” she said urgently. “My husband is planning to kill you! Tonight an assassin will enter this room and murder you with ear poison!”

“I already knew that,” said John irritably, rubbing his eyes. “I mean, the bottle’s right over there.”

He pointed languidly to his gilded nightstand, upon which rested a gilded bottle labeled “Ear Poison: For Use on John.” Rather stupid for Claudius to have left it there, really.

Jeannine was stunned.

“But if you knew of my husband’s intentions, why on earth would you stay?” she demanded, hoping his answer might have something to do with her.

“Isn’t it obvious? I plan to outwit him!” yelled John. “Let him try to murder me; he’ll fail. I came here to kill Claudius, Jeannine. I intend to get revenge for his usurpation of my father’s crown.”

“Then I will help you,” said Jeannine resolutely.

“You’d betray your husband?” asked John.

“Of course I would! I can’t stand him! I only married him because he threatened to burn down my parents’ village if I refused. It was the least romantic proposal ever.”

“Sounds about right. Okay then, I’ll let you help me. But for now, you’d better leave. I want that assassin to think I’m sleeping when he comes, and it’ll be hard to convince him if I’m talking to you” said John.

“Very well…” said Jeannine, hesitating.

She kissed John on the forehead before hurrying out of the room, again sneaking past the remarkably inattentive guard with minimal effort.

Now it was John’s turn to be shocked. He’d never really had time for romance, what with the demanding schedule resultant from being a postman…and his raging misogyny. That innocuous little kiss was actually the furthest he’d ever been with a woman. For the next hour, John lay in wait for his would-be assassin, continuously replaying the kiss in his head.

When the man finally did enter the room, John was surprised to find that he recognized him. He was even more surprised to find that it was

“BILL! What the hell are you doing in here?!” John demanded, both disconcerted and angry.

“King Claudius told me he’d give me a cookie if I put some of that poison in your ear!” Bill explained. “Oh, don’t worry though, I was gonna split it with you!”

John was disgusted. Not at Bill – he knew Bill was stupid and easily manipulated – but at Claudius. He really thought the king would’ve been able to find a more competent assassin. I mean, wow. Bill?

Nonetheless, Claudius’s failed attempt on John’s life was very encouraging, inasmuch as it, well, failed. John now had no doubts as to the likelihood of his successfully assassinating the king.

“I have a feeling I’ll be getting vengeance a bit more easily than I thought I would. Bill, go get Mischa,” he instructed. “We’re going to kill the king tomorrow!”

“How?” asked Bill.

“How else? A sword fight!”

Bill rushed out of the room in search of Mischa, and John stood up, determined. He was lost in thought for a moment. Then he sat back down.

“Crap! I don’t know how to sword fight! I really should've thought that through before saying it. Oh well.”

Saturday, January 5, 2008


“Enjoy your stay at Denmark’s finest inn; to take you on a tour I’ll soon begin. But first I must inform you of the rules: to disobey them is the sport of fools . I joyfully invite you, stay a while! But if you come with malice, or with guile, please rest assured that soon you’ll meet your ends – untimely death, which nothing ever mends!” said Bob.

“I see you’ve switched to iambic pentameter,” noted John. “But formalistic analysis aside, I really have to ask, what the hell are you doing here? Don’t you own a bar in America?”

“Indeed I do, but here I also work. I need more money, since I am a jerk,” said Bob.

“Your mastery of poetic form is admirable, Comrade!” lauded Mischa. “But we really just need to see King Claudius.”

“Oh, he’s down the hall, three doors to the left,” said Bob.

“You stopped using –”

“I know I did! It’s called free verse. Assholes.”

Shaking his head, John led Bill and Mischa through the next hallway. He counted three doors down and stopped when he reached the one leading into the room where, according to Bob, King Claudius was. They could hear Bob’s muttering all the while.

“Now there’s a good chance we’ll be walking into a trap when we enter that room. We haven’t exactly tried to keep our intentions secret. I’ll bet everyone in Denmark knows we’re here to kill the king by now! So whatever happens in there, remember: our only target is the king.

Everything and everyone else – Bill, pay attention! – is completely inconsequential,” instructed John. “No Bill, I will not define inconsequential for you. You’ll just have to use that dictionary I bought you. With your money. Okay, on three, I open the door.”

“I’ll count!” offered Bill. “I’m real good at it. Let’s see now, one…two…umm. Oh man, I always forget what comes next! Maybe it’s…no, that’s not it.”

But John and Mischa had already opened the door, charging into the room with reckless abandon. Sure enough, King Claudius was there, along with a few attendants and a beautiful woman. The moment was here.

Unfortunately though, neither John nor Mischa had had the foresight to bring a weapon, so they would have to deviate from the plan a little. Instead of deposing the monarch by force, they would now resort to trickery.

“Uh, hi, Uncle Claudius! It’s me, John!” said John, feigning politeness. “And this is my pet Russian, Mischa.”

“Hello, Comrade!” said Mischa. “Wait a minute, I’m not –”

“John! Back in Denmark? Didn’t you leave in a drunken rage that night, claiming you’d become a US postal worker?” asked Claudius.

“Yes, but I came back here to kill…some time,” said John, catching himself not a moment too soon.

“Well that’s wonderful! Have you met my disproportionately young wife, Jeannine?” asked Claudius. “I married her three hours ago. It’s a shame you missed the ceremony. There was cake.”

“Welcome back to Denmark, John,” said Jeannine, quite a bit more seductively than necessary.

“Pleased to meet you. Now if you’ll excuse me, Mischa and I – and Bill, he’s the one gnawing on your wall, don’t ask why – need to go somewhere to, uh, talk,” said John, hurrying out of the room.

“Well, all right. Just follow my secretary, Bob,” instructed Claudius as he watched the three leave.

Waiting until he could no longer hear his guests, Claudius took out his cell phone and quickly dialed a number.

“Mr. Malum, the rooster has perched,” he said.

“Excellent! So tomorrow you won’t need that wakeup call,” said Josiah.

“Indeed. Oh, and my nephew John is here. I believe you wanted him dead?” asked Claudius.

“Right, kill him,” instructed Josiah. “But I want Mischa…alive.”

Both Josiah and Claudius broke into choruses of maniacal laughter. The silence that followed was so awkward that they hung up immediately.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


About a week later, Plank Walkin’ Pete spotted land from the crow’s nest (Magentabeard had decided to postpone his plank walking until the return journey).

“Hey guys! I think I found land!” he cried, nobody responding. “Why isn’t anybody listening to me? Oh..that's right. I suck.”

A few hours later, Magentabeard spotted the same land, berated Pete for having missed it and began making preparations to dock. John’s anxiety grew even greater: they were finally in Denmark.

Standing on the dock, the pirates bid adieu to their three captives, whom they now looked upon as companions instead, grateful for having had their company. The crew of The Pirate Ship, Ron informed John, was about to go on a plunder spree, thanks to Bjorn’s constantly insisting that they pillage a village (his Viking roots were hard to ignore).

“I’m sure we’ll be seein’ yer again, mateys!” called Magentabeard as the two groups went their separate ways.

Bill waved to the pirates, but John forced his hand down and pulled him along. Having been born and raised in Denmark, John knew precisely where the royal palace was; and thither he headed, not to be deterred by any amount of stupidity.

“We should be at the palace in a few hours,” John told Mischa. “I’d stop for lunch, but, you know.”

“Right you are, Comrade! We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted,” agreed Mischa. “In fact, I think we should go at a faster pace, to exact vengeance upon the usurper of your father’s throne even sooner!”

“I like they way you think, Mischa,” complimented John.

“Do you like the way I think?” asked Bill hopefully.

“Absolutely not,” John responded.

Not pausing to see how Bill would react, John pressed onward, intent on reaching the castle as quickly as possible. Despite this, he refused to call a cab or take a bus.

“Public transportation is for losers,” he maintained.

Nevertheless, before long, they arrived at the palace. It was a magnificent structure, larger even than the Blizzard’s inexplicable Antarctic ice palace. It was also made of stone, as opposed to ice, so it was considerably more durable. Many archers patrolled the walls with bows and arrows (guns just weren’t as cool), and two swordsmen guarded the door (they had guns).

“Greetings,” said John, waving to the guards, “my name is John Morgan, Prince of Denmark and US Postal Worker. I have come reclaim the throne that is rightfully mine by murdering the man who stole it!”

“Do you have an appointment?” asked the guard.

“Yes,” lied John, thinking quickly. “Yes I do.”

“Oh, well then come on in! Our tour guide will show you around,” said the guard, cheerfully standing aside and making enthusiastic gestures for the three to enter the palace.

They walked inside and through an elaborately ornate corridor. Fine pieces of art adorned the walls – though none could be identified – and the carpet upon which they were walking was absurdly plush. Crystal chandeliers were placed along the ceiling every few feet, casting dazzling light upon the three travelers.

At length they reached the end, and John pushed open a door to reveal a very large room containing hundreds of those crappy metal folding chairs. On the other side of the room, a man sat at an even shoddier desk, reading a newspaper. Walking past all the chairs, they approached him.

He looked up abruptly, revealing the countenance of a bespectacled, bitter old man. Bill and John got quite a shock: it was Bob Clark, owner of the Clark Bar!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Life aboard the pirate ship The Pirate Ship was surprisingly pleasant for the three captives. Despite his outward appearance as a course, harsh scalawag, Magentabeard was one of the most gracious hosts imaginable. He had no qualms about catering to the every whim of his newfound slaves and, indeed, seemed eager to do so. He was also extremely accommodating to his usual crew, with the obvious exception of Plank Walkin’ Pete, whom he (and everyone else) hated virulently.

“PETE! I thought I told you to clean up this ship!” yelled Magentabeard one foggy morning at sea.

“But I’ve been cleaning,” argued Pete.

Magentabeard picked up a nearby bucket of tar and turned it upside down, letting the viscous substance spill out all over the floor.

“Then why be there tar all over the deck? Huh?!” demanded Magentabeard.

“Oh. I guess I missed it. Sorry,” said Pete.

John watched the scene with great interest, figuring that he could use some tips on how to deal with Bill, who since arriving on The Pirate Ship had, if anything, become even more annoying.

“Look at me John!” requested Bill. “I’m a pirate! Yarrgh! Hahaha, wasn’t that great? I’m so cool. Mom would be proud. She always used to say, ‘Bill! I’ll be proud of you if you become a mailman or a pirate, but nothing else.’ And now I’m a pirate! I failed the mailman test when I took it. Mom took away my X-Box.”

“That damn X-Box…” muttered John. “I really hope we get to Denmark soon. I can’t stand all this fresh air and water; it’s sickening. I feel nauseated.”

“I too am nauseous, Comrade!” concurred Mischa.

“That’s incorrect usage, Mischa,” corrected John. “Nauseous means inspiring nausea, whereas nauseated refers to the resulting nausea caused by something nauseous. Moron.”

As you may have noticed at the time but have probably forgotten by now, what with John’s pedantic grammatical lecture, it had transpired (quite luckily) that The Pirate Ship was also going to Denmark. Magentabeard refused to tell John why, but John didn’t especially care. He passed the time talking to Mischa and the non-Pete crew members, whom he found very tolerable.

“So you quit Rabbi school to become a pirate? Why?” asked John one day, enjoying a pleasant chat with Ron Goldstein.

“Eh,” shrugged Ron.


Mischa was developing a rather close friendship with Bjorn. Since they were both foreigners and neither one fit into his respective group, they got along very well. Each also found the other’s accent hilarious.

“Ja ja, they be making fun of me all the time, ja?” said Bjorn. “I don’t know whether it’s my accent or the hat.”

“I understand you completely, Comrade. It is difficult not to fit in,” concurred Mischa. “Say, when we get to Denmark, would you like to come with us to assassinate the king and help my comrade John regain his rightful throne?”

“No no, I could not do it, Mr. Petrovitch,” said Bjorn. “My place is here, whether they make fun of me or not. Being a pirate’s a lot more fun than being just a simple Viking, ja?”

Bill didn’t really talk to anyone, instead opting to spend all his time practicing pirate phrases, all of which he butchered horribly, incurring the ire of Magentabeard on more than one occasion.

“Yarrrgh, if you don’t cut that out, you’ll be walkin’ the plank with Pete tomorrow!” cautioned Magentabeard.

“What?” asked Pete.

“Nothing! Get back to cleaning,” ordered Magentabeard.

“Oh, okay…sorry.”

“I’d get to walk the plank? Like a real pirate? Wow!” exclaimed Bill, running toward the very plank with which he’d just been threatened.

Magentabeard let out a sigh of defeat, and The Pirate Ship sailed onward.