Take me back Home!

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S... Is for a Lot of Things

by

Amanda Haverstick

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(A Not so General Prologue)

            Maxwell Smart took a deep breath as the subway doors slammed shut behind him.  He glanced at his watch and discovered, to his relief, that he was right on schedule.  He had received a lead several minutes earlier about a bomb that was set to explode on the D.C. Metro –taking much of Capitol Hill with it. 

After a frenzied blur of running in and out of crowds and dodging human traffic, he had finally found the right car on the red line that the bomb was said to be on.  Only that 'right' car on that 'right' red line was rather empty.  Ignoring the unusual surroundings, Max went about his business and began to look for anything wiry strapped under a seat.  He stopped his routine only to regard an unfamiliar tap on his shoulder.

“Looking for this?”

Max spun around to face a man swathed in a black ski mask and black leather coat that had decided to accessorize by carrying a tidy six-pack of dynamite.  “Yeah… now hand it over!”

“Why?” asked the man.  “You’re not in a position to stop me.  You’re not even armed!”

Max felt around for his holster and then looked down at himself.  He was attired, much to his disgust, in a pair of light blue pajamas and a burgundy bathrobe with the number 86 embroidered on the front pocket.  This, he decided, was not only a bad battle tactic, but it was also darned inconvenient.

“Okay… this isn’t good.”

“No it’s not good,” nodded the man.  “It’s not good for you, for me, and everyone else involved.  Face it, Smart, you failed this one and now we’re all going to die!”

Max blinked at these words.  He could not speak for his bomb-carrying companion, but he was certainly not ready to go to the big Spyville in the sky.  In fact, he doubted it would happen.  According to his law of averages, it was about time he found an escape route.

“You’re blowing smoke,” frowned Max, reaching for the bundle of wires and dynamite.

The man, however, hoisted it just out of Max’s reach.  “According to my law of averages, Smart, it’s about time you flunked out.”

Max started to pace back and forth out of frustration and a lack of anything better to do.  There were several things about this situation that bothered him –namely the fact that he had shown up for a mission with no weapons or appropriate clothing.  What bothered him at that precise moment, though, was why the bomb-bearer was not executing a plan of escape.  Max knew full well that Kaos had too tight a budget to waste agents on suicide bombings.  He could not make sense of why his adversary was still hanging around. 

“I’m hanging around because you’re keeping me here,” explained the man.

“What are you?  Some sort of mumbo jumbo mind reader?” demanded Max, annoyed. Then he took a long look at the man and shook his head.  “On second thought… don’t answer that.”

“I am at the forefront of your thoughts,” said the man, tossing the bomb in the air and catching it as if it were a football.

“Then why don’t you leave my thoughts?” suggested Max.

“I can’t!  You won’t let me,” moaned the man.  “You’re trying to kill me –that’s what you’re trying to do!”

“Aroo?” asked Max.  “You’re the one with the bomb –not me!”

“That’s beside the point!” insisted the man, poking Max in the chest with every syllable.  “You are trying to kill me!  I know what I know!”

Max groaned and slapped his hand across his forehead.  “Why did I get called here to deal with you?  Out of all the cut-throats, I have to get one with some sort of paranoid complex!”

He sunk down into one of the seats and began to massage his temples.  He strongly wished that somehow this would be the precise second in time that 99 would bail him out.  For no reason he looked up just in time to see the masked assailant fly into the seat across the aisle from him.  Max then turned around to see 99 standing in front of him with the ticking bomb in her hand.

“99!” cried Max, jumping up.  “Don’t just stand there!  Disarm it!”

“Can’t,” shrugged 99, her crimson lips curving into a crooked smile.  “It’s going to explode whether you take it apart or not.”

Max felt sweat bead up around his brow.  “How much time?”

“Hard to say,” said 99, airily.  “Could be this moment or the next.  Today or tomorrow.  It really doesn’t matter when, Max.  All that matters is that it will explode.”

Max looked at 99 as if she had just reported seeing President Johnson walking around arm and arm with a Martian.  He noticed that she was dressed in a pair of black leather pants and a black leather jacket.  He shook his head and took in every inch of it again.  While she certainly cut a fine figure in leather, she did not belong in it –not his 99.

“99, don’t tell me there’s no way out,” moaned Max.  “I don’t buy—“

“There is no way out!  Even I can’t pull you out of this like I always do because it’s your  problem,” said 99, tossing the bomb in the air and catching it before Max could grab it away from her.  “Face it, 86 –you failed!”

With that said, 99 promptly exploded into a fit of giggles.  Blinking at her, Max walked over to 99, grabbed her by the shoulders, and gave her a good shake.  She ceased her giggles for a second or two only to look at Max and break out into rapid-fire laughter.

“99, this is serious!”

“How can it be?” gasped 99.  “You’re a joke –a farce!”

Not knowing how to respond to that verbal dart into his self-esteem, Max turned away from 99 and looked over at the ski-masked man.  He noticed that his nemesis was now curled up in the fetal position and was occupied with sucking his thumb.  Max walked over to the man and sighed.  He pulled the assailant’s thumb out and took a good long look into his dark eyes. 

“You really need to buck up, buddy,” urged Max.  “How are you ever going to be a successful spy at—“

“I’m not a successful spy,” retorted the man, turning to the window and pulling off his ski mask.

“How do you figure?” asked Max.  “I mean, if you’d just give yourself a chance –like doing something about the bomb.”

“I can’t.  It’s your bomb!” insisted the man, turning to face Max.

Max did a double take at the man sitting beside him.  The man had his -Max's- exact same face.  Everything, right down to each black hair on the man’s head, as well as the cut on the chin from his last shave, was the same as his.  Max decided that it was simply revolting to see his law abiding face on the head of crook.

“Who are you?” demanded Max, jumping away from him.  “I thought I got rid of my Kaos double!”

The man rolled his eyes and moaned.  “I’m your Inner Self.”

Max shook his head and looked over at 99 who was still laughing.  “This has to be a dream.”

“Actually, it’s your worst nightmare,” clarified Max’s Inner Self. 

“Alright,” nodded Max, a smile forming on his lips.  “I guess this means good-bye because I’ve decided to wake up now!”

“Sorry, Pal,” smirked Max’s Inner Self.  “I’m the part of your subconscious that’s having this dream, so you’re going to have to sit tight.”

Max scowled and pulled his Inner Self over to the far end of the car so that 99 could not hear them.  “You want me to be subjected to 99 ridiculing me and laughing at me?  What kind of an Inner Self are you?”

“You think I like that any better than you?  You’re the one that’s seeing her in this light --just the same way that you’re seeing me as a bad spy.  Maybe you should decide what you would rather she do!” snapped Max’s Inner Self.  “You’re problem is that you live with your own fear of 99 day after day whether you want to admit it or not.”

“Afraid of 99?” repeated Max, blinking in disbelief.  “That’s ridiculous!  99’s a fellow agent!  She’s a girl –what could she do to me?”

“You tell me!  You’re the one that keeps hiding me from her!” huffed Max’s Inner Self, craning his head to catch a glimpse of 99.  “You keep smothering me when she’s around.  She’s standing right over there and you won’t even let me talk to her!”

“You don’t understand,” said Max, glancing at 99 and then looking back at his Inner Self, “she’s not interested in you!  She proved that when she ran off with that Victor Royale.”

“Correction, Oh Smart One!” said Max’s Inner Self, smiling over at 99.  “That mess was all you –not me.  She’s never met me before, because you’ve never introduced us.  Now, why is that?  Maybe you’re not afraid of 99.  Maybe you’re afraid of the things I might do to her.  You’re afraid of yourself!”

“That is absolutely ridiculous!” cried Max.  “That’s a lie!  After all, I’m Maxwell Smart, idol of kids aged eight to eighty.”

“Max, listen to your Inner Self –he’s telling the truth,” said 99, walking up to them.

“99!” pouted Max.  “Don’t listen to him!”

“I have to –he’s the voice of reason,” smiled 99, tossing the bomb over to Max’s Inner Self.  “Your time’s running out 86.  I wonder what will happen if you continue to be afraid of yourself?”

“Easy, 99,” said Max’s Inner Self.  “He’ll explode –and he’ll take us with him.”

Max’s Inner Self then tossed the bundle of dynamite over to Max who very narrowly saved it from falling to the ground.  Max looked down at the bomb and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry –he had gotten what he had asked for, only now he was too late to do anything about it.  The second hand had just hit the last notch on the clock.  Seconds later a piercing, splitting sound filled Max’s head and deafened his thoughts and muffled his screams.  It continued to vibrate and ricochet off the walls of his brain until there was only the sound of nothing.

“Max?” asked a monotone voice in the midst of the nothing.  “Why are you screaming?”

Max opened his eyes and found himself staring at a face –a rather sideways face.  In fact, everything around him was looking as if it had been turned on its side.  Groggily he sat up and the face, along with everything else, promptly righted itself like a solder snapping to attention.  It was then that he realized he was no longer a prisoner of the subway, but was instead safe in his living room.

“What happened?” asked Max, looking at the piles of electrical manuals and wiring tools on the coffee table. 

“You fell asleep –you were trying to replace my battery and you discovered my “snoop” setting was too high,” said Hymie.

“Ah… yes!” exclaimed Max, snapping his fingers.  “Boy when those clowns from CAD drained your battery, they really screwed things up.”

“Did you have a dream, Max?” asked Hymie.  “Robots don’t have dreams.”

“I had a nightmare,” moaned Max, shuddering at the ordeal.  It was all too fresh and was still seeming all too real.  The only thing that did not seem real was the 99 doppelganger –at least he had always hoped that a situation like that would never become a reality. 

“Robots don’t have nightmares,” noted Hymie.  “What was it like?”

“Do robots have neurosis?”

“No, Max.”

“Then if I told you, it wouldn’t make sense.  You’d miss something in the translation.”

Updated 6-12-02

COPYRIGHT ©1999-2016 BY AMANDA HAVERSTICK.

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Part One

Will it be more nightmares and dreamscapes for our Mr. Smart?  Find out in Part One.

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