(This story was written as a present to one of my little sisters. Who knows, maybe one of you will like it too.)
It was a hot, muggy day in New York City. The streets were packed with cars, taxis, and buses. The sounds of construction equipment, honking horns and swearing drivers filled the air. Overlooking much of this was the towering Statue of Liberty, solid and undisturbed. However, this wouldn't be the case for much longer.
Far above the city, and above the Statue of Liberty, obscured by the clouds, there hovered a gigantic, red blimp. At the controls of the blimp was a tall, dark-haired woman, her body hidden in a red trench-coat, her face hidden by a large, red fedora. Behind her stood several large men in matching grey uniforms. Gesturing for one of them to take the controls, Carmen Sandiego turned to face the rest.
Carmen asked her henchmen "I'm sure you all remember what you're supposed to do." The henchmen nodded. In their hands were large hooks, each attached to the end of a rope, and they were wearing parachutes. Carmen nodded to the pilot, who reached over and pulled a switch. A huge door opened in the side of the cabin. One by one, the henchmen all jumped out of it and parachuted down towards the Statue of Liberty.
Far below, in the streets, a few pedestrians looked up and noticed the men as they landed on the shoulders of Lady Liberty. Soon more people were looking up and wondering what they were doing. A publicity stunt, perhaps? Some sort of airshow?
At the top of the Statue, the henchmen were securing their hooks around Lady Liberty's neck. When they were finished, they all climbed up on the top of the Statue's head. One of them looked toward the horizon and saw a police helicopter flying towards them. The henchman hurriedly waved a signal up to the pilot of the blimp. The pilot pressed a red button and flipped several switches.
As the people of the city below watched in horror, the blimp started to rise upward, and with a great CRACK, it broke the head, with the henchmen on top, right off the statue!
Several police jets and choppers flew toward the red blimp, but it zoomed away with a sonic boom before any of them could reach it. Clearly, it was no ordinary blimp. The police aircraft started to fly after it, but it was obvious to all the bystanders that it was long gone with the Statue's head. Everyone in the streets gaped with horror and shock.
…except for one man and two animals.
The man and one of the animals were too clueless to notice what everyone was gaping at. The other animal just didn't care.
Jon Arbuckle and his two pets, Odie the Dog and Garfield the Cat, walked along the streets of New York City. As they walked, Jon yammered on about New York. "Isn't this great, guys? We have lots of time to explore New York City on our vacation before my meeting with a client." Odie yipped happily beside him. Garfield rolled his eyes. Jon was especially annoying when he felt the need summarize why they were in New York. He thought "I'd trade New York City for some new York Peppermint Patties any day."
Odie, however, was just as idiotically happy as Jon was, but there was no surprise there. Garfield theorized that the place in his head where his brain should be was entirely taken by the rest of his extremely long tongue. Garfield hated being licked by Odie almost as much as he hated walking around a crowded city in the hot sun. However, he couldn't avoid either for very long living with Odie and Jon.
As they reached the harbor, Jon said "Hey, I wonder what everyone's looking at." He, Odie, and Garfield all looked up. Jon and Odie gaped in astonishment at the Statue of Liberty, while Garfield offhandedly quipped "I guess the strain of symbolizing freedom and justice was too much for Lady Liberty. The old gal's finally lost her head."
Jon asked a bystander "What happened?" the bystander replied "A gang of crooks stole the Statue of Liberty's head! It could only have been Carmen Sandiego!"
"Who's Carmen Sandiego?" asked Jon. Garfield thought "If she's not another name for Chef Boyardee, I'm not interested."
"Carmen Sandiego is an international thief," the bystander said. "She runs a group of criminals who call themselves V.I.L.E. They steal artifacts that you wouldn't think were possible to steal!" He gestured to the Statue. "Like Lady Liberty's head! Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go call the papers." He ran away. Jon remarked "How convenient that we met that guy who was able to tell us everything." Garfield rolled his eyes. "You're telling me." Then he glanced behind Jon and thought "Oh, look, two kids appearing out of a glowing portal. And just when I thought today couldn't get any weirder."
Jon turned around and goggled at what he saw. Two kids had indeed just stepped out of a portal that disappeared behind them. Odie yelped in alarm. One of them was a young woman, who looked around eighteen or nineteen, with striking red hair. The other was a slightly younger teenage boy with spiky blond hair. The girl turned to the boy and said "Zack, if you hadn't spent so much time getting your gadgets, we could have been here sooner!" Zack threw up his hands and said "Hey, Ivy, at least the C-5 got us right where we needed to be this time and not a block away… or in the ocean!"
Ivy looked away from him and toward the Statue of Liberty. "Only the Statue's head is gone!" "Brilliant, Holmes," quipped Garfield. Jon, meanwhile, was staring at Zack and Ivy and apparently practicing his vowels, stuttering "I-ee-uh-oh-ee-I-uh…"
Behind them, unnoticed by them or any of the dispersing civilians, a small object was lowered to the ground on a string, seemingly from nowhere. It appeared to be several miniscule buildings a round foundation. It was apparently a model of some sort.
Ivy was the first to notice. She pointed at it and said "Look!" to Zack. The others all turned and looked at it. "It's a Carmen Clue!" exclaimed Ivy, while Jon, who had gained the ability to speak again, looked up and wondered aloud "Where's that string coming from?" Zack took a closer look at it and said "It looks like… a model of Giza, Egypt! But-" he looked again. "Something's missing from it. I can't put my finger on it, though!"
Jon and Odie were intensely observing everything, but Garfield wasn't paying attention to anything that was being said. In fact, he wasn't paying attention to anything but the model. Garfield was extremely hungry (when wasn't he?), and he was willing to eat anything remotely resembling food. And the model, with its round base and little scattered buildings, looked vaguely like a small pizza…
"HE ATE IT!" exclaimed everyone. Except Odie, of course, who couldn't even think in words like Garfield, and merely barked in dismay. Garfield had just enough time to realize that eating whatever-that-was might have been a mistake before he was suddenly lifted into the air. "Oh no! GARFIIIEELD!" Jon cried in alarm. Garfield, his jaws clamped around the clue, was being hoisted through the sky by the string attached.
Garfield flew through the air, around buildings and trees, being pulled by the string back to whatever its source was. Despite being terrified out of his wits as he was whipped around the rooftops, he had just enough levelheadedness to think "This just like riding on the back of Jon's bike, except less dangerous!"
Finally, it stopped flinging Garfield around, and the string started to rapidly pull him up, up, up through the clouds. Once he got out of them, he looked up and saw that the string was hoisting him up into a giant jet plane. The jet was bright red, with the word "V.I.L.E." written across. "Subtle," Garfield observed as he was lifted into the plane through a hatch in the bottom.
Back on the ground, Jon and Odie were frantic. Odie was running around in circles yelping and Jon… was doing the same thing. Both were being extremely unhelpful.
Ivy looked off into a certain direction. Talking to apparently no one, she said "Player, get me an aerial view of Giza, Egypt!" Jon stopped running, took a few deep breaths, and observed "Hey, that's the same direction Garfield looks in when he breaks the fourth wall. I wonder if they're talking to the same person?"
Immediately, a floating screen appeared in the air. On it, a disembodied head appeared and said "Right-O! An aerial view of Giza, Egypt it is!" The screen changed to a map of Egypt. Zack snapped his fingers. "That's it! The sphinx was the only thing missing from the model! Do you think that's what she's going to steal next?" "It's our only lead, Little Bro." Ivy replied "Player, C-5 us to Giza!" A pink portal just like the one from earlier appeared in the air.
"Wait!" Jon called to Zack and Ivy. "Who are you?" Ivy answered "We're agents from A.C.M.E. Detective Agency. Our whole job is to try and stop Carmen Sandiego from stealing artifacts." "What about Garfield?" Jon asked "Is he in danger?" Ivy and Zack looked at each other. Zack said "Maybe not. Carmen usually doesn't hurt anything, people oranimals. Her henchman, on the other hand… Anyway, the only way we can get him back is by catching up with Carmen. Come on, Ivy!"
Zack and Ivy jumped through the portal. Jon turned to Odie "Come on, boy. Those two kids are our only chance of finding Garfield!" Odie and Jon jumped through the portal after the young detectives.
Inside the jet plane, Garfield had been hoisted through the hatch and was now inside a large room filed with men in grey uniforms. As the hatch closed beneath him, Garfield unclamped his jaws from around the clue and fell onto the floor. He got up, shook himself off, and looked around. The henchmen were all staring at him. "I don't think I'm in Kansas anymore, Toto," he thought dryly.
The room was filled with machinery, most of them having a distinctly weapon-ish look to them. The men in uniforms were rushing around, working with the various machines. At least, they had been before Garfield had come on the scene. Now, one of them stepped forward with an evil grin on his face. "Well, well, what have we here? Agent 377, go alert the boss. I imagine she'll want to see this." Another henchman ran off. Garfield gulped.
A few minutes later, Garfield was being escorted down a long hallway by two henchmen. As he walked, he tried desperately to reason with them. "Hey, fellas, let's talk about this. Don't I get a phone call? Or some manicotti?" They didn't answer. Probably because Garfield couldn't talk.
At the end of the hallway, they reached a steel door. One of the henchmen knocked. "Come in," said a smooth, feminine voice from the other side. The henchmen opened the door and dragged Garfield in.
The room on the other side contained a couch, a table, and several television screens on the walls. Each screen seemed to be showing a different landmark around the world. To Garfield's chagrin, no screens showed Luigi's Pizzeria.
Reclining on the couch, reading a book, was Carmen Sandiego, still dressed completely in red. She stood up and surveyed Garfield and her henchmen. "Well, well, what have we here?" Garfield chuckled nervously. "Hey, it's funny, earlier I heard a guy use those same exact words." A henchman said "We found him hanging onto the clue we reeled out to the detectives. We figured you might have a use for him." Carmen nodded. "Actually, his arrival couldn't be better timed." Garfield held up his paws. "Hey- I aim to please."
Carmen picked up a walkie-talkie and turned it on. She said into it "Sarah Bellum. Come in, Sarah Bellum. Report to my personal quarters. We have an opportunity to test out your new invention." Garfield chuckled nervously again. "Oh. Sarah Bellum. I get it. Ha ha ha."
A minute later, a tall, wiry woman walked in. She had a lab coat, goggles and wild, spiky hair to complete her mad scientist look. "Is this the subject?" she asked Carmen. "Do you see any other animals here?" Carmen replied. Sarah looked at one of the henchmen, who quickly uttered "Don't say anything."
"Restrain him," said Carmen. The two men grabbed Garfield's arms and legs. Garfield struggled in vain. Sarah stepped toward him, pulling a small collar out of her lab coat. Garfield recoiled and squirmed. "No! No! I'm too young to go!"
"Stop squirming," rebuked Sarah. "It won't hurt you." She slipped the collar around the writhing cat's neck. She attached it and stepped back. The henchmen let go of Garfield. He felt all over himself to see if anything was different. "I-I'm okay!"
"It works!" crowed Sarah. Garfield looked around, confused. "What?" he asked. Carmen smiled. "You, Cat, have just been given an animal thought translator. I have to confess, Sarah, I was a bit skeptical that it would work. Bat it would appear that it does. Excellent job. So, Cat…" Carmen knelt down to come face-to-face with Garfield. "…what do you have to say now?"
"Do you have any lasagna?"
Carmen stood up, momentarily confused. "What?"
"Or pizza? Pizza's good too."
Carmen apparently hadn't expected this. "Well… I don't…"
"Well, it's just that you look uncannily like a giant chili pepper, and it's making me even hungrier than I already am."
Carmen stuttered "What- I- excuse me- how dare- what?"
Garfield rolled his eyes. "Never mind. I'll find some myself." He walked out the door. Carmen did nothing for a minute. Then, she chuckled. The henchmen started to run after Garfield, but Carmen said "Stop. He's just a cat, he's not worth it. I should have guessed that it wouldn't be in his nature to cooperate. All that matters is that the invention's a success. Who knows, it might be handy to have him around."
"Or it might be harmful to have around." Sarah pointed out. Carmen chuckled softly. "No offense, Sarah, but what harm could a cat possibly do?" She chuckled some more. Sarah and the henchmen nodded uneasily.
The sun was high in the sky in Giza, Egypt. As far as the eye could see there was nothing but sand dunes, pyramids, and the great stone Sphinx towering over the landscape. The only living things were a few trees and the scorpions, cobras, and insects scavenging the desert.
A few of those desert animals scattered as a pink portal suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Out of it jumped Ivy and Zack, ready for action. They looked around wildly for anything that seemed out of place. Out of the portal after them stumbled Jon and Odie, ready to fall down from dizziness.
Jon sat down on the ground until the dizzy spell wore off. "That-that was quite a ride." Odie collapsed and whined pitifully.
Ivy turned around and glared at them. "Maybe we weren't clear back there. WE are specialized A.C.M.E. agents. YOU are civilians. As such, you're tagging along is endangering the mission! Do you think we-"
"Whoa, whoa, Ivy, calm down!" Zack cut in. "Carmen snagged their cat, after all. Show some sympathy. You never know, they might be able to help."
Ivy rolled her eyes. "Unlikely." But her expression softened just a little bit.
Jon looked around. "So… what happens now?"
Zack and Ivy looked around, puzzled. Ivy said "Well, usually, Carmen's in the middle of stealing something by the time we get there… but I guess we beat her to it this time. This is a first."
"Do you think we should contact the authorities?" Jon asked. Zack shook his head. "Nah, didn't you see what happened in New York? The police are never able to catch Carmen, no matter how much time they have to prepare. Our best bet is to wait and see what she does." Jon shrugged. "Okay, if you say so. You're the experts."
Zack and Ivy sat down. They all waited. And waited. Jon cleared his throat. "Uh… golly, it, uh, it sure is hot out here!" Zack and Ivy nodded. "Mm-hmm."
More waiting in silence.
Zack absentmindedly fiddled with a gadget from his pack.
Jon chucked a few rocks at nothing in particular.
Odie unsuccessfully tried to bite his own tail.
Ivy shifted uncomfortably against the rock she was leaning on.
After a few minutes, Jon broke the silence again.
"Um… tic-tac-toe, anyone?"
While all this riveting action was going on, Garfield was wandering around looking for some food back on Carmen's jet. So far all he'd found were labyrinthine steel corridors and V.I.L.E. agents who gave him nothing more than brief, curious stares, and he was getting awfully tired of it.
"Yeesh, endless metal corridors, people running around in uniforms, it's like the Death Star… or Aunt Ivy's house."
Finally, he found a door with a sign that said
Garfield thought "Well, that's more like it!" He pushed the door open and walked in. Inside, there was an assortment of freezers and cabinets.
Garfield eagerly rushed over to the cabinets and opened one. But to his great disappointment, all he found there were several packages of dry-looking lunchmeat. He opened another cabinet. Stale-looking bread. He opened one of the freezers, then all the others. What were those frozen brown cubes?
Garfield crossed his arms in disappointment and irritation. "You call this stuff food? Where's the lasagna? Where's the sirloin steak? Where are the cheeseburgers!?"
Garfield angrily walked out the door. "Fine! If there's no real food on this big crate, I'll just get us someplace where there is some!"
In the cockpit, Carmen Sandiego walked in and asked the pilot "How long until we get there, Agent 248?" The pilot responded "We're flying over Africa now. We should be at Giza in a matter of moments." Carmen nodded. "Excellent. Right on time."
She was just going over the plan in her head once again when she heard a voice behind her shout "Look! It's something you should look at!"
Carmen and the pilot both looked behind them at Garfield, who had snuck into the cockpit. He suddenly leaped past Carmen and into the unprepared pilot's lap.
"Hey! Get off!" cried Agent 248, but Garfield kicked and clawed him until he fell out of the chair. Garfield grabbed the controls and started fiddling around with them. "How do you work this thing? I'm taking us to Mexico for some tacos!"
As the plane veered around from Garfield's erratic steering, Carmen grabbed at Garfield. She tried to pry him off the controls, but Garfield held on with all of his might, protesting "You'll thank me once we get there! We'll find an all-you-can-eat buffet!"
Throughout the rest of the plane, the V.I.L.E. agents were suddenly flung against the walls as the jet zig-zagged in different directions across the sky. "What the HECK is going on!?" yelled one. "Maybe we're caught in a storm!" cried another.
In the cockpit, Carmen was still trying to wrestle the controls away from Garfield. Garfield stubbornly held on until a realizations truck him. He looked up at Carmen and said "Oh- I get it! I see what this is about! You don't like Mexican! I see!"
Carmen was so surprised at this that she let go for just a second. Then she, had an idea. She reached out and began to tickle Garfield, who was saying "That's okay, we can go to Italy instea- Hey! Ha ha STOP IT ha ha ha ha! Stop ha ha! Hoo hoo! Stop, stop!"
Garfield finally let go of the controls and fell out of the seat, and Carmen leaped in to take his place. She sharply pulled the plane up, which was a very good thing as they had been mere centimeters away from the face of a mountain.
After Carmen steadied the plane, and Garfield and Agent 248 had peeled themselves off the back wall, Carmen started bawling Garfield out. "Thanks to YOU, Cat, we went miles off-course and I am now late for a theft! I have NEVER been late for a theft!" She turned to Agent 248 and ordered "Lock him in Cell TVY7 where he can't cause any more trouble!" The agent nodded, grabbed Garfield by the collar, and dragged him out the door. Carmen turned her attention back to flying the plane, muttering to herself "That'll teach me to underestimate anything, even a cat!"
Agent 248 threw Garfield into a small, cold cell and locked the door. Anxious, he paced the floor and yelled to nobody "All I wanted was a taco! Just one taco! Or two. Or three. Or six."
In the cockpit, Agent 248 had returned. Carmen handed the controls back over to him, saying "Just a minor setback. That's all. In a second, we'll be in Egypt and the robbery will proceed as planned."
On the desert sands of Giza, Ivy, Jon, and Odie were watching Zack, who was standing up. Zack held up two fingers. "Two words," Jon said.
Zack nodded, and pantomimed like he was pushing something. "Thing… pusher?" Jon suggested.
Zack shook his head, then positioned himself like he was sitting in a chair, and vibrated his body slightly. "Lawnmower!" Jon yelled. "Yes!" Zack cried.
Jon looked confused. "Wait, I thought lawnmower counted as one word."
Zack was about to answer when Ivy pointed toward the horizon. "Look!" she shouted. Everyone looked where she was pointing.
A red dot had appeared in the distance, and it was growing ever closer. It's Carmen's jet!" Zack shouted. "And it's got company!"
As the jet got closer, they could see three other planes in hot pursuit.
Inside one of the planes, the pilot tried to radio the Carmen's jet. "Carmen Sandiego! We are A.C.M.E. elite pilots! We've almost caught you! Land now!" There was no answer.
As Zack, Ivy, Jon, and Odie watched the planes chase Carmen's jet away into the opposite direction, Odie barked urgently. Jon turned to look at him and asked "What is it, Boy?" Then he saw it.
"Uh... Zack, Ivy, you might want to see this!"
Zack and Ivy turned and looked in the direction he was facing, and stared in horror. Another red jet was coming toward them, unnoticed by the A.C.M.E. pilots.
As the new jet approached, Carmen Sandiego's voice boomed from loudspeakers.
"Greetings, detectives! If you're as smart as A.C.M.E. pays you to be, you've probably figured out that the other plane was a hologram. Sarah Bellum rigged up a few nifty little devices to affect the radar and such, in order to send those A.C.M.E. pilots on a wild goose chase. She's really outdone herself this time!"
Jon, Odie, and the teen detectives watch helplessly as Carmen's real jet stopped and hovered over the sphinx. The bottom opened, and out of it came a giant claw, like in claw machines in an arcade. Only, instead of grabbing toys, it was slowly reaching down to grab the head of the sphinx. "Isn't there something we can do?" Jon asked. Ivy shook her head. "No. There's nothing we can do."
Up in the jet's loading bay, V.I.L.E henchmen watched the claw slowly descend through the hatch in the floor and laughed triumphantly. One yelled "Ha! The head of the sphinx is ours and there's nothing those stupid detectives can do about it!" But then, all of the henchmen stopped and listened. From somewhere in the ship they could hear a faint, roar that was growing louder. "Is that… rushing water?" one asked.
In Cell TVY7, Garfield was having a full-on nervous breakdown. Curled in a fetal position on the floor, he was thinking over and over, "All I wanted was a taco. All I wanted was a taco. All I wanted was-" Then, he remembered something. He sat up and thought "Gee- I hope I remembered to close all those freezers."
Suddenly, gallons of melted water from the open freezers came rushing into the loading bay. The V.I.L.E. agents screamed in terror and anger as they were swept up in the flood. Some clung onto something, others were swept into the corridors. A few were flooded out of the hatch in the floor, and were only saved by grabbing onto the claw.
In her sealed-off private quarters, Carmen had switched her television screens to show what was happening inside the ship, and was observing what was happening in horror and confusion. Upon seeing the henchmen clinging to the claw, which was now probably too slippery to grab anything, Carmen seized her walkie-talkie and yelled "Group B! Group B! Retract the claw! I repeat, retract the claw!"
As the claw was pulled back into the plane, pulling the attached henchmen to safety, Carmen shook her head in bemusement. She said to herself "I don't know how, but somehow, that cat has gotten the best of me. Hmmm."
"What was that!?" Zack asked, as he and the others watched the giant claw quickly pulled back into the jet. "I don't know!" Ivy replied. The jet, with claw and attached henchmen safely inside, suddenly flared its rockets and zoomed away.
"Well, whatever it was, it stopped Carmen right in her tracks!" Zack exclaimed exuberantly. He and Ivy high-fived. Jon, however, was not quite as happy. "But… but we didn't get Garfield back!"
Jon sank to his knees and started to weep. "He was such a good pet! Sure, he could be a little demanding, and greedy, and spiteful, but he was still a good cat! Deep, deep, deep, DEEP down inside, he was a good cat!" Odie lay down at his side and whimpered.
Ivy, not quite sure what to say, looked up at the sky. "Hey, what's that?" she asked. Zack looked up and saw it too. Jon and Odie were too busy crying.
An object was slowly descending, becoming clearer as it dropped. Just as it was about to land, Zack and Ivy saw what it was:
Garfield, in a parachute, now without his animal thought translator, touched down on the hot desert sand! Zack and Ivy smiled. Odie looked up, saw him, barked joyously, and ran forward and gave him a great big slurp. Garfield wiped it off, but there was just the small hint of a smile on his face.
Jon was still sobbing, and hadn't noticed any of this. Garfield rolled his eyes and walked up to him. Jon still didn't notice. Garfield put his paw on Jon's shoulder. Jon brushed it off and said "Not now, Garfield! I'm busy missing you!"
Garfield counted off on his paws. "Three, two, one-"
"Garfield! You're back!"
Jon wrapped Garfield up in a bear hug. Garfield struggled and thought "Yeah, yeah, I'm back. And I'm also starving! Where's the nearest burger stand?"
Jon let Garfield go and helped him take off his parachute. As they did this, a floating screen appeared in the air. On it was the same disembodied head from before. "Fantastic job, Gumshoes!" the head exclaimed. "Later, we'll have a reconnaissance mission to get Lady Liberty's head back, but you two deserve a hearty congratulation for stopping her before she could get the sphinx's! How did you manage to do it?"
"Uh…" said Ivy. She and Zack looked at Garfield, who was smoothing down his fur. Zack said "Chief, uh, it actually wasn't us. I guess it was that cat. Somehow."
The chief's eyes popped out. "HUH? How-" Then, suddenly, the screen changed. Now it showed a stern-looking African-American woman. She started to say "Gumshoes, I just got the news that you-" The screen switched to the disembodied head again, who said "Uh, excuse me, I'm the Chief here!" in an annoyed tone.
The screen switched back to the woman, who yelled "I don't know what you're talking about! I'M the chief!"
The screen then started to flip back and forth between the two, who were both arguing over who was really the chief. Eventually, they both appeared on the screen, and said "We'll work this out later, detectives!" at the same time. The screen disappeared.
Zack and Ivy looked sheepishly at Garfield, Jon, and Odie. "Uh- Chief identity crisis… I guess." Zack muttered.
Jon put his head in his hands. "I don't even want to know. I just wanna go home and have a nice, quiet, normal dinner." "Hear hear!" thought Garfield. "Except, you and Odie won't actually get any of the dinner." He grinned mischievously.
Ivy laughed. "Well, I think we can help with that. Just come with us through the C-5 portal, and we'll take you back to New York City." The glowing pink portal appeared. Zack and Ivy ran into it.
Jon turned to Garfield and Odie. Come on guys, let's go back to New York then home!" Then he lowered his voice to a whisper. "Oh, and, Garfield? Brace yourself. You might not be so hungry when we're through that thing." "What's that supposed to mean?" Garfield asked.
Jon didn't answer. He just grabbed Garfield and Odie and dragged them into the portal for a wild ride.