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Til The End Of Time
(R - Mild Language)
Before you start I want to warn you - I kill off the twins in this story.
just going to have to imagine Seigfried with his German accent)
Agent 99, or Mrs. Maxwell Smart, slipped the key into the lock of the apartment. And into the lock. And into the lock. Finally, reaching the last lock, she swung the door open.
The apartment was unusually dark and quiet. 99 frowned in concern. She shut the door and relocked the locks. She tossed her suitcases on the floor and reached for the lamp. Instead it being in its usual spot beside the sofa, it was on its side on the floor. She sat it up and turned it on. The apartment was a shambles, as if a fight had taken place.
MAX? She yelled in alarm, starting up the stairs.
Than she saw him. He was laying at the top of the stairs, one leg dangling through the railing.
Max! She cried, running to him.
She knelt down beside him, running her hands over his body, checking for injuries before she moved him. He was bruised and battered, but didnt seem to have any broken bones. She gently pulled his leg from between the bars and turned him over. He was bleeding from a deep laceration above his left eye. The eye itself was swollen shut, a rainbow of black and blue.
99 rushed to the bathroom and got a wet towel. At the same time, she put in an emergency call to Control on her watch phone. She pressed the cool, damp cloth against Maxs forehead and eye.
Max. Max. Please, wake up.
He stirred slightly, then suddenly awoke. He sat up, swinging his arms as if fighting an enemy. 99 barely managed to dodge one of the punches.
MAX! Its me.
99? He focused on her. His eyes went wide and he started screaming. 99! 99! THEY GOT THEM! He shouted.
KAOS GOT THEM!
The documents? 99 was referring to a cardboard box full of documents from their last mission. They had slipped into Kaos headquarters in Wichita, Kansas and stolen vital documents relating to the theft of several priceless paintings from museums around the United States.
The Chiefs boss wanted Max and 99 to hide the documents in their kitchen. While they were gone, Control had come in, pulled up several floorboards and installed a safe in the floor. Max and 99 objected vehemently . . . they didnt want the twins exposed to the danger. The Chief agreed.
They were ultimately defeated by 99s own words: Chief, you know Max and I are Control agents first, last and always . . . Having no recourse, they reluctantly agreed.
99. They got the documents, but, but . . . Max voice rose to a shriek. He put his hands on 99s shoulders and shook her violently. THEY KIDNAPPED THE TWINS!!
99 was quiet and tearful. Max was in such a state that the Control doctors had to give him a sedative just to check him over and treat, stitch and bandage the wound on his eye.
The drug didnt last long and as soon as they were in the Chiefs office, Max became hysterical. He blubbered out the story of how two hooded Kaos agents cut a hole in the window near the bar and silently entered the apartment. For all the extra security devices in the apartment, they had still managed to find the documents in their hiding place and get upstairs to the twins room before Max discovered them. He fought them with every ounce of strength he had and, at one point, it appeared he had the fight won. But one of the Kaos agents grabbed a poker from the fireplace and hit him across the forehead, rendering him semi-conscious and unable to move. When he recovered enough to move, he had crawled to the twins bedroom. They were gone. He found a simple, typewritten note attached to the door . . .
Mr. & Mrs. Smart: We have your children. Which means we now have YOU.
That was it. Max had stumbled backwards, his head throbbing. His vision went blurry and he passed out cold. He remained at the top of the stairs until 99 found him.
The note had been thoroughly examined and, except for Maxs fingerprints, no others had been found.
What are we gonna do?! Max asked anxiously.
Max . . . 99 said.
I know, I know, you think its my fault, Max interrupted.
I DO NOT!! 99 yelled.
Yes, you do and you have every reason. I couldnt protect our babies. What kind of a father does that make me?
You were badly beaten trying to protect them, 99 snapped. Why would I blame you?
Because I blame myself . . . He said softly, sitting on the Chiefs sofa.
Oh, Max . . . She said, sitting beside him. She gathered him into her arms. Maxs arms went around her. They held each other, and wept.
99 looked up at the Chief. You tell that idiot over you that we were we right. Not only did Kaos get the papers back, but they stole our kids!!!
The Chief lowered his head. He had been holding a check on his emotions. 99 was right. He should have argued the point more strongly. He loved the twins and was deeply troubled. He looked up at Max and 99 and decided it was a good time to check on the other evidence found at the Smarts apartment. In addition to the typewritten note, two plaster casts had been made of footprints found in the dirt outside the window. Apparently the kidnappers had climbed the side of the building by rope because muddy prints had been found on the side of the building and on the window sill.
Im going to the lab, The Chief said nasally.
99 watched him leave. I think I know a good place to start, She said, talking through her teeth.
You think hes behind this?
I dont know. I say we pay a visit to Mr. Count Seigfried.
Lets go . . . Max said, leaping up. He swayed slightly.
Max! Are you all right? 99 asked, jumping up and putting an arm around his waist. You want to go home?
Whats the matter? Dont you trust me? Dont you want me to go with you?
Of course I do! But if youre not feeling well . . .
Im fine! He yelled. He put a hand to his head and rubbed his eyes. Its just a headache, He said quietly. Ill be fine. Ill take some aspirin.
99 placed a calming hand on his cheek. Can I make a suggestion?
Max nodded tiredly. Sure.
Stop yelling. Its only making your headache worse . . . and giving me one.
Sorry about that, 99.
Max and 99 tiptoed up the stairs of Seigfrieds apartment complex. Starker lived next door, so they tried to be exceptionally silent. Any number of times a mission had nearly been thwarted by Starkers uncanny ability to stumble across them at the worst possible moment.
Max deftly picked the lock and they entered the apartment. Seigfried had fallen asleep on the sofa in front of the TV. Max hauled the sleeping Kaos agent to his feet.
It took Seigfried a moment to regain his senses. What . . . he began. He was cut off as 99 grabbed him from Max and slammed him against the wall.
What is going on, Schmart? Seigfried asked, his eyes moving from Max to the clearly infuriated 99.
99 pulled a 45 automatic from her waist band and pressed it hard against Seigfrieds temple. I want you to tell me where our kids are. And I want you to tell me now! She said.
Starker suddenly burst through a door connecting the two apartments. Max leveled his gun at him.
Dont move, Starker, or hes a dead man, 99 said. Shut the door.
Starker complied and Max motioned for him to sit on the sofa.
Seigfried finally found his voice. What the hell is going on?
Where are the twins? 99 snapped.
I dont know!
99 pushed the gun harder against Seigfrieds head and said calmly. Dont play games with me. If you dont tell me where they are, Ill blow your brains all over this apartment.
Seigfried had never seen 99 so angry. His eyes shifted to Max.
Two Kaos agents broke into our apartment. They beat me . . . He cleared his throat, intentionally leaving out part about the stolen documents. . . . and took the twins. They left a note - 86 & 99: We have your children. Which means we now have YOU. Seigfried, you better have some answers, because 99 is just itchin to use that gun.
I cant give you any answers because I dont know anything.
99 pushed the pistol closer and out of the corner of his eye, Seigfried saw her put slight pressure on the trigger.
I swear! I dont know anything! Starker?
Starker shrugged. Ive been asleep.
Youve always been asleep, Max said nastily.
Neither of us have the faintest idea what youre talking about, Starker said.
Max watched Seigfried for a reaction.
99, put the gun down, He said.
Sweetheart, he doesnt know anything.
99 didnt move.
99, look at him.
99 eyes met Seigfrieds. She slowly relaxed and pulled the gun away from his head, but kept it trained on him.
Seigfried pulled himself together. Talk about uninvited guests!
Im in no mood for silly jokes! 99 raged.
Seigfried held up his hands. Okay, Okay.
Seigfried went over to a stack of papers on his desk and picked them up.
These are copies of every case that Kaos headquarters has handed down in the last two days, He said, shuffling through them. He looked up. I dont see anything.
You expect us to believe that? Max asked. Let me look.
Seigfried shrugged and handed him the papers. Max motioned to 99 and together they searched through them. From what they could see, Seigfried was telling the truth. 99 lowered her head, tears running down her cheeks. Max put an arm around her.
Tell you what, let me make some calls, Seigfried said. Go home or back to headquarters. Ill call you on your shoe-phone.
Sure you will, 99 said.
I dont believe you.
Then take Starker with you. If I dont call, hes your prisoner.
Thanks a lot, Starker said.
All right, Seigfried, 99 said. Well take him. But you better call.
I promise Ill call.
How much is your promise worth? After all, how many times have you tried to kill us? Max asked.
Seigfried gave Starker a look, then turned back to Max and 99. When Starker and I found out 99 was pregnant, we decided that we would never hurt your children.
99s expression changed. Why?
Because neither of us had the nerve to kidnap or kill your children. Dont you think its odd that you havent seen much of us lately? We saw you, 99, and that Quigley guy at the North Pole . . .
And you tried to kill us, 99 interrupted, crossing her arms across her chest.
You stole our dogs and left us there to die.
And left all your provisions and your means of calling Control.
This, 99 knew, was true.
All right, Max said. Starker, youre coming with us. Seigfried, youve got two hours. After that, hes ours.
Seigfried nodded and Max and 99 left, with the semi-angry Starker in tow.
Seigfried sat down at the desk and shook his head in confusion. He had no idea who had taken the Smarts children. He picked up the papers to go through the them again when his special hot line rang. He picked up the phone, but before he could say anything, a male voice broke in . . .
Yes . . . Seigfried recognized the voice as one of Kaos top agents.
Have you heard the news?
What news? Seigfried asked.
The Smart twins have been kidnapped.
Really? Seigfried tried to sound surprised.
Yes, The voice continued with a laugh. Max even got a few licks by the men sent in. He fought back pretty well, considering. Theres more to it, though. Remember those papers that were stolen from the Wichita site? It was 86 and 99.
So thats who did it!
We knew they hid the papers in the floor of their kitchen, so we went in to get them back. Kidnapping the twins at the same time was a stroke of genius.
Whos behind this one?
You may have heard about them, but most likely not. They were captured several years ago after Smart and 99 foiled their plan to blow up the Pentagon.
I think I know who youre talking about. Wasnt his name Rex Savage?
Still is. His partners name is Mondo. They escaped about six weeks ago. Theyve been sneaking into art museums in different cities stealing small, but valuable paintings. They compiled a dossier on every paintings they stole and hid the papers at our Wichita headquarters. But somehow Smart and his lovely wife found out where those documents were. They slid in and stole them with relative ease, unfortunately. Anyway, after Kaos found out who did it, we tailed them for several days. They went out to eat one night, The waiter was one of our men and heard then whispering about the safe in the kitchen floor and how they didnt want it there because of the twins. Savage went in with Mondo to get the papers . . . and kidnap the twins.
Whats he going to do with the kids?
He hasnt said. But thats up to him. Hes so angry at them for fouling up his plans for a second time, theres no telling what hell do. Hes got the kids stashed at his place in Virginia.
Ill bet Schmart and 99 are frantic.
The man laughed. I hope so. If they come your way you know nothing.
Talk to you later.
Seigfried rubbed his eyes. Even though he knew who the caller was, he had been surprised to hear from him and wondered what his role was in this. He also knew more about Savage than he had let on. Savage had called him right after his capture years ago. When he escaped, he said, he was going to get Max and 99. When Seigfried had asked how, Savage had replied, In a way that will hurt each of them to the core of their soul. I swear. Seigfried knew Savage well enough to know that the twins were in mortal danger. Savage was no slouch, he had been planning to blow up the Pentagon with everyone in it, so there was no doubt in Seigfrieds mind what the man had in store for the Smarts children. He was going to kill them . . .
Why didnt you tell us Rex Savage escaped? Max fired out to the Chief. He had finished talking with Seigfried about a fifteen minutes ago and, after releasing Starker as promised, stormed into the Chiefs office.
I dont know, I didnt think it was important. Kaos agents escape all the time. He was just another prisoner.
What do you mean Kaos agents escape all the time? If thats true, thats some swell security system we have.
I didnt mean it that way. All I meant was, agents sometimes escape. You and 99 have done it on numerous occasions.
It isnt as if he escaped a few days after he was captured, hes been in jail for six years and now he escapes? No matter what you say, were going after the twins, Max said staunchly. Dont try to stop us.
I wouldnt even attempt to. Wheres 99?
Shes in the lab. Well keep in touch, Max replied, heading toward the door.
Max, wait, The Chief came up to him and put a hand on his shoulder. Call for help if you need it. Please.
We will. His shoulders drooped. Im sorry, Chief. We know how much you love the twins and . . . He gave the Chief a quick hug. We love you.
Using the directions Seigfried had given them, Max and 99 drove to a secluded area near Willoughby, VA. They rented a room in a cheap hotel, called the Chief to tell him where they were, then began to formulate their plans. Seigfried had given them complete information, so they knew where Savage was. 99 was still uncertain of Seigfrieds motives, but Control had checked the information and found that Savage indeed owned a home close to Charlottesville, and had owned it before he was arrested for his explosive painting scheme.
Max and 99 had just decided to take a walk to familiarize themselves with the area when The Chief called.
Whats up, Chief? Max asked.
Uhh, Max, we got a call from Mondo.
Did he say where the twins were?
He gave us . . . information. Its right near you.
Well go right now.
Go six miles south. Youll see an old dirt road. Make a right. You cant miss it. Ill be waiting there.
You . . . Max glanced at 99. All right . . . He hung up. He turned to 99, fear plainly written on his face.
99s heart skipped a beat. What? She asked, grabbing his arm.
The Chief wants us to meet him. Hes just six miles south of here.
I dont like this, 99, I dont like this at all.
What did he say? Why is he here? 99 asked.
He said Mondo called with information . . .
What kind of information? 99 asked slowly, suspiciously.
Max put a hand on 99s shoulder. I guess we better go find out.
Okay, She said softly. Then, Max?
What if . . . She struggled with the words. What if he . . . She stopped, unable to continue.
She didnt have to. Max knew what she was trying to say. He pulled her close. We cant think that way, 99, we just cant.
The Chief was taking into a walkie-talkie and pacing. When he saw Max and 99 pull up he quickly ended the conversation.
Chief? 99 asked.
We found a burned out car . . . He drew a deep breath. Were checking it now.
Checking it for what? Max asked.
99 tugged on his arm and he gave her a look.
He needs to tell us whats going on! Max snapped.
I know, I know . . . 99 whispered. Wait, Love.
A tow-truck appeared, pulling the remains of a burned out late model Chevy. The truck stopped beside them and Larabee got out. He addressed Max and 99, instead of the Chief.
This is all we found, He said, handing them a envelope with slightly charred edges. It was attached to the antenna.
Max ripped open the envelope. It contained another note, typed on the same typewriter as the note left in the Smarts apartment.
Mr. & Mrs. Smart: Strike one! Go to the local Post Office. Theres a key to a post office box waiting for you. Read the enclosed instructions carefully. Good luck.
Max put his hands over his face and rubbed his eyes. Oh, God, hes playing games with us.
99 took the note from Maxs fingers and read it. Ill kill him, She said slowly and softly. I swear, when we find him, Im going to KILL the son-of-a-bitch!
Max leaned back against the Chiefs car, his hands still covering his face. A profound feeling of dread filled him. He was terrified . . . more afraid than he had ever been in his life. More afraid than any of the times he and 99 had been captured, injured or threatened with death. He knew, and he didnt know how he knew, that the chances of finding their beloved twins alive were growing slimmer and slimmer. If only he had been able to hold off those two Kaos agents. If only he had been a little stronger. Tears filled his eyes and rolled down his cheeks.
99 had been reading and rereading the note, so she didnt notice Maxs reaction until she looked up.
Come on, Love, lets . . . She stopped when she saw him crying. Her response was immediate, she put her arms around him and started to cry. They slid to the ground, holding each other tightly.
The Chief motioned to the tow-truck driver and he drove away. He had been ordered to take the car back to Washington for a complete going over.
Larabee, visibly upset, got into to The Chiefs car and slammed the door. The sound roused Max and 99 and they helped each other to their feet.
Come on, Max, 99 said, wiping her eyes. Lets get to the post office. I want to see that message.
Max only nodded.
The Chief and Larabee followed them. At the post office, they obtained the key and opened the box. The note inside said:
Mr. & Mrs. Smart: Send your Chief and his flunky away NOW. I deal only with the two of you.
Max handed the note to The Chief.
You need to go, Max said as they walked outside. Were going to have to take care of this ourselves.
The Chief was reluctant to leave Max and 99 to deal with Savage alone, but he conceded to Maxs wishes. All right, but please be careful. Call me when you can.
The phone in the Chiefs car rang. Larabee talked for a few minutes, then motioned to the Chief. The Chief went to the car, talked to someone for a few minutes, then came back to where Max and 99 stood.
Max, I hate to give you more bad news, but . . .
Of course I remember him.
Hes escaped too.
WHAT? Whats going on with our security system?
I dont know, but Im going to look into it.
You better. Three escapes are a bit much, Max said sarcastically.
Max . . . The Chief warned.
Will you please go? 99 whispered suddenly, sternly. Hes obviously watching.
The Chief nodded sadly. He got into the car and, with a half wave, he and Larabee drove away, back to Washington. He hoped and prayed they were doing the right thing.
Frustrated and weary, Max and 99 headed back to their motel room. They werent hungry, but they did stop and get some snack foods and Cokes at a gas station.
As they pulled up to their room, their eyes picked up the envelope taped to the door at the same time. 99 got there first. She tore it off the door and opened it up.
Mr. & Mrs. Smart: Do you like to swim? Theres a great swimming hole about three miles east. Turn left and go two miles. I suggest you check it out!
99 looked at Max in dismay.
Lets go, Max said, heading back towards the car.
They followed the directions on the note. They turned left onto a dirt road and, following the gradually narrowing road through the dense forest, they finally arrived at the pond, which was completely surrounded by trees. As the occasional fish jumped out of the water, the sun, shining through the trees, sparkled off its scales.
I dont see anything, Max said. I guess we better check the bottom. Let me change.
No, Max, Im a stronger swimmer.
Max agreed apprehensively. Tie this rope around your waist. If you get into trouble, give a good hard tug on the line and Ill pull you in.
99 opened the trunk and together they pulled out the diving gear. After 99 put on the suit, Max checked the equipment. When 99 nodded that she was getting the proper amount of air, Max tied the rope firmly around her waist.
She took a step forward, but Max pulled her back towards him with the rope. He put his hands on either side of the face-mask and looked into her eyes. Reading his thoughts, she tapped him lightly against the forehead with the mask and nodded.
She took several more breaths to make sure, nodded to Max, then slipped under the water.
The pond was dark and murky, so she turned on the flashlight tied to her wrist. She continued down until she reached the bottom. The light played out over the bottom of the pond, which was covered with a fine layer of silt. She swam around for ten minutes and, finding nothing, was about to surface to take a breather when she saw a brand-spanking new refrigerator mired in the muck. She swam toward it, then around it, looking for booby-traps. She took hold of the door and, floating behind it, yanked it open. The interior was empty, except for a quart jar. As it floated out, she grabbed it. She turned it around in her hand, examining it with the flashlight. Inside she saw another envelope, their names on the front. Letting go with a few underwater expletives, she kicked the door shut, put the jar in the mesh bag at her waist, and headed towards the surface.
Max helped her out of the water and looked at her quizzically as she pulled off her mask.
Another one! she said. Water streaming down her face, she pulled the jar from the bag, and handed it to Max. He opened the jar, ripped open the envelope and read:
Mr. & Mrs. Smart: Strike two!! Theres a great little museum on this end of town. Its called Til The End Of Time. It encompasses a little bit of everything. They open at 9:00 and close at 3:00. I suggest you take the tour tomorrow when they open. Youll find it quite interesting.
DAMN HIM!! 99 screamed, her voice echoing across the water. Enraged, she threw the jar as far as she could. It crashed against a large rock jutting out of the water, sending a shower of glass into the pond.
Max crumpled the note and stuffed it in his pocket.
99, he said despairingly. Lets go back to our room. Theres nothing we can do tonight.
We can break into that museum and see whats going on.
Max put his hands on her shoulders and shook his head. What if theres nothing there and we get caught? This could be a trap to get us thrown in jail. That would leave him free to take the twins anywhere.
99 nodded in agreement and they headed back to their hotel room.
Max was sitting up in bed, reading the newspaper. After much tossing and turning, 99 had finally fallen into a uneasy sleep. When she moved slightly, Max looked over. She shook her head several times, as if acting in response to something. She turned on her side, facing away form Max. He tossed the newspaper on the floor and snapped of the light. He snuggled next to her and put an arm around her waist, pulling her close. She took his hand and squeezed it.
I thought you were sleeping, Max murmured in her ear.
Sorry about that. Did I wake you?
No, I wasnt that asleep. What are we gonna do, Max? She asked, turning to face him.
Were gonna check out that museum tomorrow.
I know, but thats not what I meant. Max . . . she hesitated, then continued, her voice wavering. What if we never find them? What if theyre . . .
Max put two fingers on 99s lips. Dont even say it, He said.
Max and 99 arrived at Til The end Of Time around 10:00. They had purposely waited until the museum had been opened for a while so they wouldnt be the only ones there.
There were glass cases filled with artifacts from the citys early years and tableaus were used to depict life in Willoughby through the 19th century and the decades leading up to the 1960s. They took their time and, examined everything, hoping to find something, anything that would lead them to the twins.
They stopped in front of a tableau that showed an early baseball game between Willoughby High and nearby Woolen Hills High School. As Max read an account of the game, 99 studied the scene, looking at the figures sitting on the old time wooden bleachers.
Suddenly she grabbed Maxs arm in a vise-like grip. NOOOOOOO!!!! She screamed. She lost her hold on his arm and slid to her knees.
Max bent down beside her and put an arm around her shoulders. 99? 99, what . . .?
She threw her arms around him. Max. Oh, God, Max . . . She could do no more than point.
Max looked where she was pointing. In the bleachers sat a young couple, their children seated in their laps, cheering on the home team. What he saw turned his blood to ice. On the front of both of the childrens shirts was inscribed . . .
Final score - 99 to 86. Strike three . . . Youre out!!!
They had found their beloved twins . . .
The Chief, Larabee and Carlson arrived mere hours after Max had called them, screaming hysterically into the phone. The Chief had called the Willoughby Chief of Police and ordered him to close off the museum, citing a national security matter. Max and 99 had been taken to the local hospital where they were heavily sedated. Carlson took the twins from the museum to the coroners office and conducted an autopsy. What he discovered surprised and astounded him. The twins had been turned into mannequins . . .
®® ® ®
Carlsons mind went back several years. He remembered an assignment Max had been on involving Richelieu and smuggling secret plans to Beirut. Max had been contacted by a model named Mildred Spencer, who, after a brief conversation with Max, suddenly disappeared. Control had raided the place and found nothing . . . Until Max discovered a mannequin that looked just like the model, whom Richelieu said had been called away on a family emergency. Everyone thought Max was insane and he had been pulled from active duty. 99 had been sent to pick up his equipment, but instead she convinced Max she could get a job at the dress shop through a man who supplied the models. Max agreed. When 99 discovered some vital information, Max disguised himself and took the place of a mannequin in a display. However, Richelieus crony discovered 99 trying to get into a locked room and sprayed her with a plastic solution. She would be dead in fifteen minutes. Max had dragged 99 and every mannequin he could find to a mans steam bath. There he had melted 99 down, much to the surprise of the Chief and the owner of the steam bath, who kept pointing out the fact that 99 was a lady. Max and 99 had been bawled out by the Chief, but since they did such an outstanding job of capturing Richelieu and his gang, nothing much happened.
® ® ®®
You fool! Rex Savage stormed as he paced the room. Didnt I tell you to wait?
Yeah, but it worked out so well this way, Richelieu replied with a chuckle.
How did they know to come here? Good deductions are not Maxwell Smarts strong point. Did you talk to anyone about it?
Richelieu shrugged. Seigfried. I called him the night the twins were kidnapped.
What did you tell him?
YOU IDIOT!! I told you not to tell anyone.
Seigfried isnt just anyone, hes one of Kaos top executives. Hes been after Smart and 99 for years. Whats the problem?
Savage paced the room. I still dont understand how they knew. I had plans in the works to get them here, but they showed up almost immediately . . . He stopped and gave Richelieu a look. Seigfried? Seigfried! Of course! It had to be! He told them. He knows the location of every Kaos agent in the United States!
Why would he tell them?
Savage waved him off. Seigfrieds always had a soft spot for Smart and 99. He considers it a challenge to try to outwit them.
I dont think Seigfried, or that goofy partner of his, told them anything.
Then you did.
You told them, didnt you? You knew I wanted to paint the twins but, instead, without my permission, you sprayed them with your silly solution.
My solution is no sillier than your exploding paint. And I didnt say a word to the Smarts.
Then how did they get here so quickly? I didnt even have a chance to send a message.
Richelieu shrugged again. They were already snooping about so I continued with your idea and put those notes all over the place to taunt them. But since you were moving so damn slow with everything, I decided I to go ahead and spray the kids.
Savage frowned and studied Richelieu with suspicion. You told Seigfried and the very next day the Smarts show up. He must have told them. For whatever reason, he told them.
Its also your fault. I wanted them to find the twins in an isolated area, so they couldnt find out where I was.
But you were the one who told me you wanted them to know who did it.
I wanted them to know I did it, but I certainly dont want them to find me. You told Seigfried everything, including where I live?
Yes. So what? He could have easily found out anyway.
Savage pulled a gun.
What do you plan to do with that?
Im going to kill the Smarts, then Im going after Seigfried. Im convinced he told them. And he wouldnt have known what to tell them if you hadnt opened your big mouth.
Without warning, Savage shot Richelieu in the chest. Richelieu went down, flat on his back, his arms outstretched.
Savage stared down at him.
Fool . . . He picked him up and carried him to the basement. He cleaned him up, changed the color of his hair and dressed him in 1880s garb. Then he sprayed him with the silly mannequin solution.
Im going to put you in one of those tableaus at that stupid museum. No one will ever recognize you. You can . . . Savage laughed out loud, . . . spend eternity giving joy to hundreds of people.
99 sat on the bed at the hotel, thinking.
She was still in shock. Her mind just couldnt take in what happened, but when The Chief came to the hospital and told them, she accepted the truth. The Chief told them Larabee and Carlson had taken the twins back to Control headquarters.
Max, in a deep depression, had said absolutely nothing. But he had grasped 99s hand tightly and his eyes met hers, so she knew he was thinking, even if he wasnt talking.
The Chief was stunned to learn that they had decided to stay in Willoughby instead of going back to Washington. But as he drove them back to their motel, he tried to change their minds, to let him send in a few agents to take Savage into custody.
Im not leaving until I find Savage. Im going to find him and kill him, Max had said.
We are, 99 interjected.
The Chief knew 99 would never leave Max, so he pleaded with them to be careful and to call if they needed help. He gave them both a hug and left, still protesting their decision.
Max came out of the bathroom, where he had been taking a shower. As he rubbed his hair dry, he walked over to 99.
Whats our first move, Love? 99 asked, not looking up.
Max talked as he dressed. Ive been wondering about that. What do you think?
I think we should go back to the museum. Maybe we can find something we overlooked.
All right, He looked at the clock. They dont open for an hour. 99, we havent eaten a thing since yesterday. We need to get something to eat.
Im not hungry.
Im not either, but we have to eat.
Im not hungry, 99 repeated.
Max sat down beside her. He took her chin in his hand and turned her face towards his.
99, please, listen to me, He cupped her face in his hands. We have to be strong, both emotionally and physically. If we dont eat, were not going to be able to function properly. And were going to have to be on our toes if we want to catch Savage.
99 nodded. Good thinking, Max.
Come on, He said, pulling her to her feet. Lets try that diner down the road. I bet theyve got a great breakfast.
After a breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon and coffee, Max and 99 made their way back to the museum. The owner let them in for free and told them to take as long as they liked. If they found anything, they had his permission to check on it.
The tableau where the twins had been found was hidden from view by a large drape. As they passed, 99 clutched Maxs arm, but said nothing.
They came to a street scene from the early 1880s. It was by far the largest tableau in the museum and had been put together by students from the high school. People were wandering down Willoughbys main street, looking into windows, carrying packages and holding silent conversations with each other.
99 . . . Max said. 99, look at that guy.
The blond one leaning against the light post.
He sure does look familiar, 99 said.
He sure does, Max replied. He studied the face of the mannequin for several minutes.
99, He said. You know who it looks like?
99 sighed. Max, Richelieu has dark hair.
But . . . Never mind, Im going to get a closer look.
Max climbed into the tableau and went up to the mannequin. 99, come up here. Youve got to look at this.
99 joined Max and studied the mannequin closely for several moments. She reached out and tapped the face, it was solid.
She shrugged. It does look like him, but . . . She turned to leave, but something caught her eye. She bent down and examined the mannequins left hand. The first joint on the pinkie finger was missing.
Max, look at this. The first joints missing on his left hand. When she had first started the job at Richelieus, 99 had noticed this deformity. It had been entered in his arrest record when he was captured.
Then it is him. He finally got sprayed.
We better call the Chief, 99 said.
Because, I dont want Control agents crawling all over the place. Lets keep this a secret for a while. I want us to find Savage. The less anyone knows about this the better.
So were just going to leave him there?
Max shrugged. Sure, why not?
Because its so . . so . . . grotesque.
Max, thats a body under there.
Max pulled 99 off the tableau and into a corner.
That asshole is partially responsible for the twins death.
But Savage kidnapped the twins and . . . 99 faltered to a stop.
But did he . . . Tears formed in Maxs eyes. He wiped his eyes and continued. Richelieu had to have been involved because of the mannequin solution. I bet they were in it together. Richelieu got impatient for some reason and . . . Max swallowed hard. . . . murdered the twins. Savage got mad and killed him.
Max gave a deep sigh and ran his fingers through his hair. Richelieu overstepped his bounds? Maybe he wasnt supposed to . . . Oh, hell, I dont know. Leave him there. Well get to him later. I want to find Savage.
So do I. Lets just go to his house and rip his spine out.
99 started towards the door, but was pulled up short when Max grabbed her.
Whoa, wait. We cant just knock on the door and announce, Hey, Savage, were here to rip your spine out. We have to take him unaware.
Well take care of him.
Max looked at her. We sure aint gonna call Control, the Chief of Police or anyone else. Theyll take him to jail, say that hes innocent until proven guilty and is entitled to a fair trial.
A fair trial?!
A fair trial.
99 made a fist, then stuck her finger out so it looked like a gun. Heres MY fair trial. She put her finger against Maxs head. POW! She said, pulling an imaginary trigger.
Thats him, not me, right? Max asked in jest.
99s face softened and the first time, she gave him a hint of a smile. Oh, Max, I love you so much.
He hugged her. I love you too, 99.
Max and 99 studied a map of the area surrounding Savages isolated home. Then they went to the only sporting goods shop in town and stocked up. They bought backpacks, food, military type khakis and a canoe. Their studies had revealed the easiest and most secretive way to Savages was to travel by water.
They started out early the next morning before the sun came up. They were silent as they rowed upriver, occasionally catching a glimpse of a deer or beaver coming to the river to take a drink.
Approximately an hour after they started, Maxs watch-phone rang. Because they were wearing boots, he had forsaken his beloved shoe-phone and had his calls forwarded to his watch.
Max frowned at 99 as he answered.
99 gave him a startled look.
What do YOU want? Max asked angrily.
I want to warn you about Savage.
Seriously, Schmart, watch yourself around him. Hes a ruthless killer.
REALLY??? I WOULDNT HAVE KNOWN THAT! Max yelled into the phone.
99 frowned and shook her head fearfully.
I know, I heard, Seigfried said softly. Im sorry.
Max was silent.
Youre going after him arent you?
You think Id tell you? Look, Seigfried, we appreciate the information you gave us, but . . . Good-bye.
Schmart . . . Seigfrieds voice was cut off as Max hung up.
What did he want? 99 asked.
He wanted us to watch ourselves around Savage because hes a ruthless killer.
Well thats a bit of news, 99 said scornfully.
Yeah . . .
When they came to a fork in the river, they headed east and continued on for another two miles. Where the river narrowed, they came to another fork. It was there that they pulled the canoe ashore.
The gathered their gear and hid the canoe in the underbrush. Max studied the map one more time to get their bearings, then knelt down to pick up his pack.
Max? 99 knelt down beside him.
She put her arms around him and pulled him close. Im scared.
Max hugged her. Me, too.
Lets go get him, 99 said heatedly.
Max nodded. He pulled out a machete, swinging it in the air and then jabbing it several times, giving 99 an evil grin. They their packs on and started out, following a hastily drawn map and using a compass. Slowly, they threaded their way through the thick woods. With no path to follow, the going was extremely difficult and several times they had to stop so Max could hack down a limb or cut his way through the thick, tangled brambles.
About an hour later, they stopped for a drink. As they relaxed sitting against a tree, 99 suddenly put a hand on Maxs arm and pointed. Only a hundred yards in front of them was a house, painted a camouflage green color to conceal it from prying eyes. The trees that surrounded the house were pack in so tightly that it appeared as if they were growing into it.
Max, She pointed. Look.
99, Max said quietly. Weve found him.
Then lets go get him.
Hiding their packs in the brush, and concealing their knives and guns in their pockets, Max and 99 crawled towards the house. There were two guards on duty, but one was asleep and the other was listening to the radio, his body turned away from them.
They came upon a basement window and Max, after a quick look through the window with a small flashlight, pried it open with his knife. They slid easily in the cellar.
Max used the flashlight to look over their surroundings. The room was small and musty, but clean and had a cement floor. Numerous large boxes and containers lined the walls. His light picked up a flight of stairs. He turned the light towards the floor and turned to 99.
Well, this is it, He said. You know we might not make it out of here alive.
I know, 99 said. But we owe it to the kids. Weve got to go.
I was thinking . . . Max began.
99 grabbed his neck and pulled his face close to hers. NO. Im not going back, Im going with you. Period. End of discussion. We stick together.
Max pressed his forehead against hers. Okay. We stick together, And they started up the stairs . . .
Max slowly opened the door leading into the upper floor of the house. The door opened into the kitchen, which was empty. The kitchen door was open and they crept silently towards it. Max put out a hand, signaling 99 to stop. He peered through the door, then nodded. They moved into the room, crouching low, their eyes moving quickly from side to side, trying to take in every detail they could of the darkened room.
May I help you? A voice asked. At the same time, the lights came on.
Savage stood next to the light switch, a machine pistol in his hand. Before anyone had a chance to say a word, 99 charged him. She tackled him to the floor and they wrestled violently, 99 getting in many a good punch and scraping his face deeply with her fingernails.
Max grabbed Savage from behind, pulling him off of 99. But Savage elbowed him in the stomach with his elbow. Max went down and Savage grabbed 99, pulling her to her feet, a knife against her throat.
Get up, Smart.
Max pulled himself a bit unsteadily to his feet.
Now is this a nice way to come calling? Savage asked.
99 struggled to get away.
Dont move! He warned, pressing the knife harder against her throat.
Max pulled out a 45 caliber pistol and pointed it at Savage. Let her go.
Savage nonchalantly pulled 99 in front of him and drew the knife across 99s throat, drawing a thin line of blood.
Drop the gun or Ill slit her throat.
Max didnt move. He kept the gun pointed at Savage.
If you dont drop it, Ill slice her head off. You can shoot me after shes dead, but what good will that do? You wont have your precious twins or your beloved Agent 99. Youll live the rest of your life alone.
For a moment, Max didnt move, but he knew was beaten. He knew he could no more live without 99 than he could breath under water. His arm slowly dropped to his side, the pistol fell from his fingertips.
Savage shoved 99 at him. Max caught her and pulled her close.
Now, Savage continued. Im going to kill you both. And my revenge will be complete.
99 glared at him. Even if you wanted to get us, how could you kill two innocent children?
Savage shrugged. I didnt. I was going to, but Richelieu decided to take things into his own hands. So, I had to dispose of him too. He raised the gun and aimed it at them. Any last requests?
Max and 99 looked at each other.
Im sorry its turned out this way, 99. I wish . . .
99 put her fingers against his lips. Max, I wouldnt have change a thing.
I guess well be in a better place soon, a place with no worries. I love you, 99.
I love you, Max.
They kissed softly, tenderly, and held each other close as they heard Savage ready the gun.
They held each other as tightly as they could, trying to draw themselves into each other.
The gun went off. Max and 99 flinched. Terrified, they stood there, clinging to each other, unmoving, waiting for the bullets to hit.
But nothing happened.
Schmart! A voice shouted, pulling on his arm. Get out of here. Hurry, before the guards come.
Max opened his eyes and was shocked to see Seigfried standing next to him . . . and Savage lying on the floor. The bullet had torn the back of his head off.
GO!! HURRY!! Seigfried said, now yanking on 99s arm.
Seigfried? What . . . 99 began.
Get out of here now! And shoot me, Seigfried said, holding out Maxs gun. But please dont kill me.
WHAT?! Max was stunned by this turn of events.
99 quickly recovered and grabbed the gun. She took a couple of steps back and shot Seigfried in the calf. He went down, clutching the wound.
Come on, Max! 99 said, dragging him towards the door.
Starker suddenly appeared in the doorway. He and 99 stared at each other for several seconds. Max grabbed the gun from her hand and shot him in the upper arm . . . And they ran.
They scooped up their hidden gear and ran towards the river, the brambles and branches tearing at their clothing. Reaching the canoe, they shoved it into the water and rowed for their lives.
After fifteen minutes of furious rowing, they finally felt safe and slowed to a stop.
Max rummaged around and produced a first aide kit.
Let me take a look at your neck.
Max, its not that bad.
But Max insisted. He examined the wound and breathed a sigh of relief. Youre right. Its no more than a scratch. But let me clean it up and put a bandage on it anyway.
All right, Max.
Max cleaned the wound with peroxide, then applied a light bandage.
Lets get going, Max, its really getting dark.
They rowed until they could no longer see where they were going. Max turned on the flashlight and scanned the shoreline.
What are you looking for, Max?
Somewhere to tie this good ship off.
Like that tree? 99 asked, pointing.
That will work, Max said.
They rowed over to a tree that had become uprooted and fallen into the river. Most of it still stuck out of the water, its branches floating. While 99 held on to one of the branches, Max tied the canoe off securely with rope.
This isnt going to be very comfortable, Max said. But I dont think we should go any further in the dark. Lets see if we can set something up so we can get some sleep.
They pulled two sleeping bags from under the seats and sat looking at them tiredly.
How are we gonna do this? 99 asked
Well . . . Max studied the problem for a minute, then shrugged. Lets just throw em down and get some sleep.
They threw the one bag on top of the other in the bottom of the canoe and made themselves as comfortable ads possible . . . their heads under one seat and their feet under the other. It was a tight squeeze, but they cuddled together and made the best of it.
You know whats going to happened, dont you? Max asked.
Were gonna bump out heads when we get up?
Max said nothing, just held her tighter.
Max, what the heck was Seigfried doing? Why did he kill one of his fellow agents? Why did he allow us to shoot him and Starker? Why did he let us go?
I dont know, it doesnt make any sense.
Well have to ask him later. You think he and Starker will be okay?
I think so.
They fell silent. They listened to the sounds of the night and soon they were both asleep . . .
They arrived back at the motel early the next morning. They took showers, stuffed all their things in the trunk and headed home.
Except for the radio, which was tuned to a classical music station, the trip hope was fairly quiet.
They arrived at the apartment and slowly made their way up the stairs.
Max . . . 99 said with a frown. Someones cleaned up.
They both looked at the door to the twins room at the same time. Taped to the door was a piece of paper, folded in half. Taking a deep breath, 99 took the piece of paper from the door and unfolded it.
Max and 99,
I didnt know what to say or do when I heard the news, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I thought it would be better if you didnt have to come home and do this yourself, so I took the liberty of cleaning out the twins room. I havent throw anything away - its all in Controls basement storage room. I made the room into an office.
I am so sorry. If I overstepped out bounds, please tell me and Ill return everything and put it back as it was.
If there is anything I can do, please dont hesitate to call.
I love you . . . Hymie
Oh, Max . . . 99 said softly, opening the door. The room was as it was before the twins were born. A picture of the twins, taken only a few weeks before their deaths, was sitting in a beautiful silver frame on the desk.
99 turned to look at Max, but found he had disappeared. She stepped into the hall and found him sitting at the top of the stairs, his head buried in his hands. 99 reached out and pulled him to his feet.
Lets go to bed, Max, She said softly.
Max put an arm around her and nodded in agreement . . .
Max and 99 spent a restless night, then made their way to headquarters. They talked to the Chief and Larabee about the funeral arrangements, telling them that they wanted a the coffins closed - they wanted to say their goodbyes in their own way, in private. Then they found Hymie and thanked him.
At last they had made their way to Controls morgue. They entered and now stood at the door to the viewing room, unmoving. Neither wanted to make the first move. Finally 99 opened the door and entered the room. Max followed close behind her, clutching her hand.
The twins were laying next to each other on a table, dressed in their favorite clothes. Zach in jeans and his prized Washington Redskins sweatshirt, Maxine in her jeans and her Baltimore Colts sweatshirt. 99 stopped dead in her tracks. Max, however, continued. He reached the table and stood there, tears running down his face, his hands stuffed in his pockets, looking at his beloved children. His mind drifted back a moment . . . Never, never in a million years had he ever thought he would have a family. No one ever really cared about him. Then 99 had come along. He knew she cared, but had never imagined the depth of her love for him. So he had tried to keep her at arms length, tried to convince her, without telling her to her face, that she would be better off without him. But she had stuck by him, through thick and thin, and he found himself doing the same, found that he loved her to the bottom of his soul. Finally, his heart churning in his chest, tears burning behind his eyes, he professed his love for her. To his utter astonishment, she told him she had always loved him. He had instantly pulled her into his arms and kissed her. Really kissed her, for the first time. And she responded . . .
A scant four months after they were married, 99 told him she was pregnant. They had discussed this before they got married and had decided to wait at least a year before starting a family. But it hadnt mattered . . . Max and 99 were ecstatic. When the twins were born, Max became the perfect father, even getting up in the middle of the night to change diapers.
As the twins grew, Max, 99, Maxine and Zach became the ideal family. When their work started to keep them from each other, and the twins, Max and 99 made the decision to only take assignments that kept them in the country. Secretly, Max was afraid that something would happen to him and 99 would be left to raise the kids alone. As it was, however, the reality turned out to be far worse . . .
Max reached out . . . Oh, God, Im so sorry, He said, touching each of their faces. He almost drew his hand back when he felt the cool skin. But instead, he ran his fingers over the contours of both faces, searing them into his memory.
99 finally came up behind him. She had been watching, and was now weeping as hard as Max was. She too reached out and touched her babies. As they both ran their fingers over the still faces, their hands touched. Max grasped 99s hand in his and they drew back from the table.
They walked over to a small sofa against the wall and sat down, their arms around each other.
Oh, God, Sweetheart, what are we gonna do?? Max asked.
Well have to go on. We have to. If we dont, their lives will be meaningless. We had them for a while. We loved them. They loved us. Theyll always live, Max . . . in our hearts.
I now, 99, I know . . .
They sat for a while. When they got up, they gave their children one last kiss, and left to face the future . . .
Six Months Later . . .
The 1965 Shepard Express Cruiser roared at top speed down the Potomac River. Max slowed the boat and eased it over to the tree lined shore. Control had presented Max and 99 with the boat four weeks after the twins funeral, for services above and beyond the call of duty.
Hey, Max, whyd you stop?
You want to go some more?
GO! She shouted.
Max turned the boat and, after making sure the way was clear, roared back out into the middle of the river. They practically flew for several miles, then Max threw the boat into a wide turn . . . Knocking 99 down and killing the engine.
Sorry about that, Max said, reaching down to help her up.
Instead, 99 grabbed his arm and pulled him down on top of her.
Ive got some news for you, She said.
Seigfried called. He and Starker are okay. Thats all he said.
Thats good to know. Im glad.
Ive got more news.
What? Max asked, pulling them both into a sitting position.
Max stared at her and smiled. Really?
Really. Are you okay with it?
99 sighed and looked deeply into Maxs eyes. Well always remember and love Zach and Maxine, she said, patting her chest. Yes, I feel great. I love you.
Max nodded in agreement. I love you, too.
He pulled her into a kiss and was about to go all the way when suddenly there was the loud blaring of the Shore Patrols horn.
Ahoy, there! A voice came across the water. Cease and desist. And move that boat!!
99s face turned beet red.
Sorry about that, 99, Max said.
Jodi Goldfinger 9/03
® ®® ® Things that happened in the past.
99 says to Max, Lets just go to his house and rip his spine out. The idea for this comment comes from the movie Speed (1994). Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) says this to Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper) after he finds out Payne has killed his best friend.
The 1965 Shepard Express Cruiser was a real boat. I dont know much about it, I just wanted to give Max and 99 a mid-60s boat.
Willoughby and Woolen Hills are actual towns in Virginia. Actually, I just looked at a Virginia map and picked Willoughby because its close to the mountains. If youre a Twilight Zone fan, you will also recognize Willoughby as the title of a classic episode.
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