The day of the battle finally came. The participants had whittled away the weeks before it in various ways, occupying themselves however they could.
Mischa was at first a little upset because the clones he’d worked so hard to acquire had all died, but he got over it, sublimating his disappointment into determination. He began regularly practicing his proposal to Cyprus, whom he still thought he’d be able to marry. Of course, the odds of his winning were now ridiculously low, what with his no longer having an army.
Rupert, ever the good warrior, had been poring over strategy books, trying to find some masterful tactic that would allow him and Mischa to overcome John, 50 Danish soldiers and 50 zombies. After not finding anything at all, he just gave up, preparing to fight a losing battle, something he really hated the prospect of doing. But he would do it; he was going to stick things out till the end.
Bill, for the entire duration of their stay in Rome, waited outside the hotel. John was hoping he’d just wander off after a few days, but Bill remained glued firmly to the ground. And no, that’s not a metaphor; he was really glued to the ground. Someone had come up to him one night and put glue on his shoes. He struggled for a while but then, much as Rupert had, acquiesced to defeat, realizing it was futile to keep struggling.
Jeannine had been tagging along with John, following him wherever he went. Being very antisocial, however, John didn’t go many places, so it was rather boring for her. They ate dinner together once. Jeannine tried to seduce him; John tried to seduce their waitress. It later transpired that this waitress was actually male, so the resulting situation was very awkward for all of them.
Cyprus was working hard at Office Max. She hadn’t visited Josiah once in the year after Shamus put him into his coma; after all, she reasoned, he couldn’t very well pay her if he couldn’t move or talk. Regardless, she still kept her cell phone with her at all times – she knew that Josiah would awaken in a year, and she wanted to be there when he did. Or else she’d be fired.
Josiah was in a coma. He didn’t wake up until the day of the battle, which brings us right back to the beginning of this chapter.
“Where am I? Who are you?” demanded Josiah Malum, sitting up abruptly. “I’m too important to be in a hospital bed! What day is it?”
He was talking to a clock.
“A stubborn one, eh? Well, I’ll see to it that you spend the rest of your days in horrible agony, for I am Josiah Malum, Secretary of Evil!”
He then realized that the clock wasn’t being stubborn at all; in fact, it had the date on it – and yes, it was indeed the day of the battle.
Josiah stood up, dressed himself and walked to the nearest phone, where he dialed up Cyprus, whose number he still had memorized. He was a very intelligent man.
“Cyprus!” he shouted. “Get to the Coliseum. It’s time to watch some fools fight for you! Mwahahaha! Ah good, I’ve still got my evil laugh down. I was afraid it would atrophy, like my legs. Oh, we’re still talking, aren’t we? Well hang up, you idiot.”
Josiah got into his Escalade (which had been waiting outside the hospital the entire time; the driver had very nearly died from boredom) and drove to the airport, and thence, he took his private jet to Rome.
It felt good to evil laugh again.