The Claws of the Kitten

PART EIGHT - Nothing to Sneeze At

Author's notes: This is the final chapter of the story, so I would like to take the time to say "Many thanks" to all those who have read and commented on the story so far: CajunBear73, Captain Deadpool, Data Seeker, The Gandhara, Katsumara, Michael Howard, Muzzlehatch, NakedMoleDogg, screaming phoenix, Soth11 and Waveform.

I have three stories in development, so keep your eyes open for more stuff in the coming year.

Disclaimer: All characters, locations and situations drawn from the TV series Kim Possible are the property of Disney. All other stuff in this story, and the plot, belong to me.

The Possible Home, Middleton

As the Stoppables got out of their car in front of the Possible home, Ron felt again the twinge of pain he had felt each time he had visited Kim's parents since . . . It . . . had happened. With Rufus in his usual pocket, Ron followed Gene and Jeanne up the walk to the front door, wondering again about what it was that had made Kim's mother tell them to come over. All that she had said was that something very important had come up.

Ann Possible met them at the door, and led the Stoppables to the dining room. As he entered the room, Ron hardly noticed Tim, Jim, James, Slim and Nana sitting or standing around the table. His eyes immediately locked onto a slim, red-haired girl in her teens, wearing cargo pants and a black top, with her back turned to the door, standing beside the table. He froze in his tracks, and gulped, "Ku - KP?" Behind Ron, his mother gave an audible gasp of shock.

Rufus made a squeak of surprise, and said, "Kim?"

The girl turned to face them, and Ron's heart sank. It wasn't Kim; it was Kim's young cousin Joss, instead. Rufus slipped down into the pocket with a disappointed groan.

Ann quickly explained the situation. "Jean, Gene, this is Kim's cousin Joss, and her father. Joss, Slim, you've already met Kim's partner, Ronald. These are Ron's parents. You haven't met them before."

"Just call me 'Slim,' folks; everybody does." He shook hands with Gene and touched his hat to Jean.

Joss wore a rather serious expression as she greeted the Stoppables. "Kim's been my hero for years, and I'm gonna grow up to be just like her," Joss explained. "I aim to catch the varmint that rigged that submarine that killed her." There was a determination in the young girl's voice and manner that impressed Ron's parents deeply.

"Joss, if you find that 'varmint' before I do, save me a piece of him," said Ron. Rufus gave a growl of agreement. "And if I find him first, I'll do the same for you." They shook hands on it.

Ann introduced Nana to the Stoppables, and then had each person sit in a specific one of the thirteen chairs around the table. James, Slim, Joss, Tim and Jim sat in the chairs along one side of the table, while Ron, his parents and Nana sat along the other side. Ann took one of the two chairs at the foot of the table, with another empty chair at the side, between Ann and Nana. There was an empty chair by itself at the head of the table. Ron noted that this chair might have been where Kim would have been seated, if she had been present. It's like the riderless horse at a funeral in Arlington National Cemetery; he thought, and mentally flinched at the idea. Once Ron and his parents were seated, Ron called up Wade on the Kimunicator. Then he handed the device to Ann, who put it on a small rotatable base, facing herself, while Rufus hopped onto the table and sat beside it. Finally, Slim asked the question that was bothering them all.

"Annie, jest what's goin' on? First I get your telephone call to come a-runnin,' and then that Global Justice hoverjet lands in front of the house, sayin' they're supposed to bring me, Joss and Nana to Middleton."

"You must admit it was a thrilling trip, Slim," said Nana Possible, calmly.

"Just be patient, Slim, and in a few minutes you'll understand. Now, if I may have everyone's attention?" Ann Possible spoke in formal way. "I would like to introduce you all to someone." She took a small communicator from a pocket and spoke into it. "All right, Betty, come on in." Footsteps were immediately heard from Kim's loft room, and everyone turned to see who was coming down the stairs. Dr. Director came into the room, walked to the vacant chair beside Nana, and sat down.

Ann introduced her guest to the others, and then went on, "I want to share some very good news with all of you, and I'm sure you will all enjoy hearing it." She scanned the group, noted that she had everybody's attention, and then dropped her bombshell. "Kim is alive!"

Tim and Jim exchanged an 'Oh, oh!' look, as did Joss and Nana, and Mr. Stoppable and his wife, while Rufus traded a similar look with Wade in the Kimunicator. James, Slim and Ron all stared at Ann. Each one had the same thought in their mind: Ann Possible had gone over the edge, and her sanity was slipping away.

Slim pushed his hat back slightly on his head, and gave Kim's mother a serious look. "Annie, you ain't been hittin' the loco weed, have you?"

"I'm fine, Slim. And I can prove what I say is true." She shifted her gaze from Slim to the doorway behind the empty chair at the head of the table and turned the Kimunicator to face in the same direction. "Wouldn't you say so, Kimmie?"

"Well, I feel like I'm alive, Mom." Kim came through the door, walked to the head of the table, and stood behind the empty chair, while everyone else in the room (except Ann and Betty) stared at her in frozen shock.

Kim smiled a little nervously. "Hello Daddy, Ron . . . Uncle Slim, Joss, Tim, Jim . . . Nana, Hi, folks, Rufus . . . Hi, Wade!" There was a dead silence. If Rufus had sneezed it would have sounded like a cannon shot. Finally, Kim plaintively added, "Well, can't anybody say 'hello?'"

In the next three seconds, nine things happened simultaneously. Rufus squealed for joy, jumped two feet in the air and did a back-flip. Kim's father leaped to his feet, knocking over his chair, shouted, "Kimmie-cub!" and threw his arms around Kim, while Ron did the same, only shouting "KP!" instead. Slim and Joss shook the windows with a thunderous "YEEE-HAA!" Wade let out a yodel of joy on the Kimunicator. Tim and Jim exchanged a 'high five' and shouted, "All right!" Ron's father said a short prayer of thanks in perfect Hebrew. Ron's mother started to cry. Nana clasped her hands and said, "Thank the Lord!" Except for Nana, Betty and Ann, everybody then rushed to Kim and gave her a series of hugs and kisses. Rufus swarmed up and over the group and jumped to Kim's neck, hugging her as best he could.

Finally, Kim gasped, "Guys, I can't breathe this way."

Nana got up from her chair and snapped out, in a sharp 'voice of command,' "All of you, back off and let her get some air!"

Nana whacked several backs with her cane and everybody let go of Kim, except for Ron and James. Ron had Kim locked in his arms, and wore a blissful smile on his face. He seemed to be willing to just stand there, holding Kim, for a couple of years, at least. James stood slightly to one side with a hand on Kim's shoulder, while he wiped away his tears of joy with the other hand. James, Kim and Ron were all crying openly.

Kim managed to glance at Nana, grin through her tears and shrug a little. Nana then rapped Ron on the head with the cane. This finally got his attention, and he looked around to see what was happening.

"You've got your whole life to hug her, boy, and I can't wait that long," Nana said, not unkindly. Ron grinned sheepishly and stepped back, whereupon Kim threw her arms around her grandmother, who started to shed some tears of joy of her own.

"Oh, my dear, my dear, I kept hoping and praying . . . I just knew you had to be alive, somewhere, somehow."

"I wanted you all to know, Nana, but everything had to be kept secret." Kim shook some tears from her eyes. "Making you all think I was dead was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life."

"Well, as an old operator myself I can understand why it could be necessary," Nana nodded thoughtfully. "But please don't do it again, dear." She looked at James, still standing beside his 'Kimmie-cub,' with a look of astonishment, joy and relief on his face, and tears trickling down his cheeks. "It upsets your father."

"I won't," Kim answered, and then impishly added, "Frankly, Nana, I think being dead is really a pain."

Tim and Jim grinned. Ann, Nana and Ron started to chuckle. And in a moment everyone was shaking with the joyous laughter of relief.

Kim made a point of speaking directly to Tim and Jim. "I saw what you fellows made for me. I just wanted to say thanks." Kim went down on her knees and hugged her brothers. "I love you guys!"

Tim and Jim didn't wisecrack or pull away, but hugged Kim in return and said, "We're really glad . . . "

" . . . you're back, Sis."

"Kimberly Ann Possible, you'd better have a very good explanation for all of this!" At her husband's words, Ann Possible laughed and said, "Jinx! You owe me a dinner, James." James stared at his wife in bewilderment.

"I said exactly the same thing to Kim a week ago when I met her at Global Justice headquarters," Ann explained.

"WHAT? You - you knew?!" James Possible was stunned. "You knew our Kimmie-cub was alive, and you didn't tell me - "

Dr. Director spoke up. "The fact that Kim was alive had to remain a secret until the operation was over, in order to protect her life."

"Betty, you'd better tell them the whole sitch," said Kim.

"I will, Kim, but don't you have someone to introduce to your family and friends, first?" Dr. Director smiled as she spoke, and Kim slapped her own forehead as she remembered.

"Oh, yes!" Kim jumped up, went back to the door and called, "It's okay, come on in."

A moment later a slim, red-headed young woman in a Global Justice uniform walked in. Kim took her by the arm, led her to the table and said, "Everybody, this is Global Justice Agent Yolanda Renault, who is also known as La Chatonne."

For the second time that day the room was totally silent. Yolanda was the same height, build and appearance as Kim! Even her hair was the same auburn shade, of the same length. The only obvious difference was the more rounded cheeks on the GJ agent's face.

"I thought La Chatonne had a big scar on her forehead?" Wade asked from the Kimunicator screen.

"I wore a prosthetic scar whenever I was La Chatonne," Yolanda explained. "That way if I had to take off my mask there would be a visible difference between La Chatonne and myself." To everyone's surprise, except for a slight French accent, her voice was much like Kim's.

"I had a 'scar,' and special pads inside my cheeks to make my face look the same as Yolanda's," Kim added. "There were sleep-gas capsules concealed in the pads, too."

"You and Kim look like twins," said Jeanne Stoppable, in an amazed voice.

"Merci beaucoup! Thank you for the compliment," Yolanda replied, with a bow. "Actually, I'm three years older than Kimberly." She went to the foot of the table and sat down in the chair between Jim and Ann Possible.

"Now that everybody is present, Betty, you'd better fill in the details about this business, before some of us faint from sheer curiosity," said Ann, with a grin.

Dr. Director smiled in agreement, and began.

"Well, it all started about three years ago . . . " She went on, describing the whole series of events, as she had told Ann a week before. Everyone listened without interrupting, but when she mentioned that Al Trazz had planned to make an open offer of fifty thousand dollars to anyone who arranged for Kim's death, Slim broke into Betty's narrative.

"Hold on, there, Ma'am! You mean this hombre was gonna put a price on Kim's head?"

"Exactly," Dr. Director nodded. Slim turned to his brother, with a stern expression on his face.

"Jim, I reckon we'd better have ourselves a little 'talk' with this Al Trazz. Appears to me that he's gettin' a mite too big fer his britches."

"There's a deep-space probe going to Pluto that's scheduled for launch next week," Kim's father said grimly. "We can give Mr. Trazz a long vacation trip."

"That won't be necessary," Dr. Director remarked. "Mr. Trazz is already experiencing a much warmer climate." She went on, describing the Global Justice raid on Al Trazz's headquarters, his sudden demise, and the release of the seven villains who were about to be killed by 'The Mob.'

"Say, they helped Global Justice," mused Ron. "Won't that ruin their reputations as villains?"

"Oh, I think they'll live it down, Ron," Kim chuckled. "Unless they like being Good Guys for a change."

"Monkey Fist? Dementor? Never happen!" Ron replied. Rufus shook his head and squeaked, "Uh-uh!"

"But the Seniors, maybe . . . " Ron added thoughtfully. As he considered the idea of villains turning honest, even for a few days, Kim's Grandmother spoke up.

"Just what was it that Mr. Trazz was going to threaten to turn loose on the world?" Nana asked. "Or is that a secret?"

"It's not really a secret," said Ann, "but it's very scary. He was going to threaten to spread the 1918 influenza virus throughout the world."

"He was going to blackmail the world with . . . the flu?" Ron's voice held a mixture of amusement and astonishment. "But, people get that all the time. We have to get flu shots each fall." Except for Ann, Dr. Director, Yolanda, Nana and Kim, everyone else at the table looked amused or puzzled.

"Not for this kind of influenza, Ronald," said Ann. "The type of flu that struck the world in 1918 was the worst epidemic that has ever hit the human race." The serious way she spoke held everyone's attention.

"Ann, what about that plague that happened in the Middle Ages?" James asked. "The Black Death, wasn't it?"

"Yes, James, but the Black Death took years to spread from the Far East, across Asia, into Europe and Africa," she answered. "And it never got to North or South America, or Africa south of the Sahara. However, the 1918 influenza was world-wide less than six months after it first appeared, even though there was no air travel back then. What's more, the Black Death didn't kill as many people as the 1918 influenza epidemic did."

"Influenza is one of the most contagious of all diseases, and it can spread from one person to another before the first person knows they are sick," said Betty. "By spraying the influenza virus around in several major airports, Al Trazz's 'Mob' could spread the disease around the world in two or three days." She looked directly at Wade's image in the Kimunicator screen. "Could you run a calculation for me, Mr. Load?"

"Sure thing, Dr. Director. And, please, just call me 'Wade.' Everybody else does."

"Very well, Wade. Assume that just one person is infected with the influenza, and that person infects ten more people each day. Each infected person passes the disease on to ten more people on each day, starting the day after they catch the disease. This continues for each person, day after day. How many people would be infected by the end of two weeks?"

Wade nodded, "Okay, I see what you want . . . let's see here . . . " There was a brief clicking of keys, then Wade stopped and stared at his secondary screen. He shook his head, tapped a few more keys, and then looked up with a shocked expression.

"Dr. Director, I've got an answer, but it's hard to believe. After two weeks, over thirty-four and a half trillion people would be infected, which is lots more than the world's total population. I'd have to say that at the rate you described, everybody in the world would be sick after about ten days."

Being an actuary, Gene Stoppable was used to the sort of question that Betty had asked, so he had pulled out his pocket calculator and started crunching numbers as soon as Wade did. He now interrupted the conversation with his own comment.

"Excuse me? If you allow for the fact that not everybody could meet ten healthy people each day, because they were in a hospital or in a small, isolated community, and the fact that some people would die in a few day's time after getting sick," he paused and scratched his chin in thought. "And, allowing for places that were cut off from outside contact, such as research stations in the Arctic and the Antarctic, or really isolated villages, islands, and such, I make it that eighty-seven percent of humanity could be infected in just nine days."

Betty nodded. "The Global Justice medical section calculated that the worse case scenario would be a catastrophe on a global scale." She hesitated a moment. "Their estimate was that half a billion people might have died in about four months."

Joss raised a hand. "Ma'am, if this polecat spread this super-flu around, what would keep him an' his boys from catching it, too?"

"Along with the virus, Mr. Trazz was going to have a supply of vaccine made, so he could immunize himself and his 'Mob,'" Betty explained. "Once the news that this plague was possible got out, just imagine what people would pay to get vaccinated and be protected from it."

Slim gave a long whistle. "He could wind up ownin' the whole country, without ever usin' the stuff!"

"That was the idea," Kim remarked. "I heard one of 'The Mob' say that Big Al was going to demand the Hawaiian Islands as his personal estate, and have New Zealand as a private vacation resort for his men."

"That's why it was essential get an agent into Al Trazz's 'Mob' ASAP, to locate and destroy his stock of the 1918 influenza virus before he could release it. La Chatonne was our only real chance to do this," Dr. Director explained.

"And when I broke my leg on a totally routine operation," Yolanda remarked, "we had to find somebody to fill my place at once." Her face bore an expression that mixed sheepishness and annoyance.

"If La Chatonne had appeared with a leg in a cast, shortly after I was obviously hurt, Big Al would have spotted the connection and my chance of getting into 'The Mob' would have been gone."

"I immediately contacted Kim and asked her to take Yolanda's place, " said Betty. "I told her about the influenza virus, and why the mission was so important. She immediately volunteered to take over as La Chatonne." She gazed around the table before she went on. "Al's request for La Chatonne to kill Kim in order to become a member of 'The Mob' was totally unexpected. My only excuse for putting all of you through six weeks of pain is this: by doing it, over three hundred million people's lives have been saved."

James Possible frowned. "Even so, I think you could have let us know that Kim was alive, and working undercover. We could have kept quiet about it."

"But if anybody made a slip, and Al Trazz found out that La Chatonne was really Kim Possible, she'd have been dead in no time at all." At Betty's words James' face turned pale.

"Sometimes you have to take extreme measures on an operation, James," said Nana Possible. "I know that, and you should know it, too."

"James, all of us have been through an agonizing time, these past six weeks," Ann remarked, "no one more than you and I. But when I think of what could have happened to the world if that influenza virus had been released, I say, our pain was a very small price to pay, to prevent that plague." She looked directly down the table at her husband.

Kim put one hand on her father's shoulder, and took Ron's right hand in her own left hand. "Daddy . . . Ron . . . everybody," she began. "I hated every minute I had to make all of you think I was dead. When Betty asked me to fill in as La Chatonne I never thought I'd have to do something like that. I've thought about it for weeks, and I just can't think of anything else I could have done." She let her gaze pass over everyone else at the table, including Rufus and Wade's image on the Kimunicator screen.

"Will you . . . can you . . . forgive me for hurting you all?" Kim's voice sounded almost tearful. Ron took his hand away from Kim's, frowned in thought, and exchanged a look with Rufus, who wore an equally serious expression.

"KP, I think it will take a while before Rufus and I can forgive you." Kim's heart sank, and a stricken look flashed across her face. If she lost Ron's friendship, then the price for this mission was almost too great to bear.

Ron looked at his father's wristwatch for about ten seconds, still frowning in thought. Then he looked up at Rufus, and his face broke out in his usual goofy grin.

"Well, that's long enough, eh, Rufus?"

The mole rat grinned in reply, and said, "Yup! Yup!"

They both turned back to Kim. "Just one thing, KP: don't ever do anything like that again!" Rufus said "Uh-uh, no way," as an echo to Ron's statement. Everyone in the room chuckled and visibly relaxed, and then Kim's grandmother spoke up.

"By the way, how did Mr. Trazz get hold of this virus?" Nana asked.

"In 1995 a research expedition went to a deserted mining village in northern Canada, and recovered the bodies of several people who died of the flu in the winter of 1918-1919," Dr. Director explained. "Examples of the virus were recovered from one body, and delivered to the National Disease Control Commision for study. Eighteen months ago a routine check discovered that the virus samples at the NDCC had been replaced with a sterile solution, and Global Justice was called in to find them."

"But . . . you did find these viruses . . . you destroyed them, didn't you?" Gene Stoppable leaned forward as he spoke.

"We did, thanks to Kim," said Betty. "Everybody on earth owes you a great deal of thanks, Kimberly Ann. But it's very doubtful that you'll ever get any bit of credit for it, outside of this room, here today."

"Meh, no big," said Kim. "After all, Betty, saving the world . . . it's what I do."

"Even so," Betty replied, "Global Justice has certain discretionary funds available, and I'd like to give you this, as a token of appreciation for what you did. Rufus, will you please take this to Kim?" She beckoned to the mole rat, took an envelope from her folder, and handed it to him. Rufus then scurried down the table and passed the envelope to Kim.

Kim opened the envelope, pulled out a bank check, and gasped.

"A . . . million . . . dollars? Oh, Betty, I can't accept - "

"Please, Kimberly. Stopping Al Trazz meant I had to put you and everyone else in this room through six weeks of agony. I heard you cry yourself to sleep in my quarters more than once, these past six weeks," Dr. Director remarked. "You deserve ten times that amount, but I'm afraid this is the best that I can do."

"But, this really should go to everybody else." Kim gestured at the rest of those around the table as she spoke. "They're the ones who were hurt."

"KP, knowing you're alive is worth a million dollars to me."

"Kimmie-cub, let's put it in a trust fund until you're twenty-one," said James. "I'm sure you can find something to do with it by then."

Kim looked at her father, then at Ron, and then the others around the table. Her brothers, Nana and Joss were all nodding with a 'Go on, take it!' air. Finally Kim shrugged her acceptance. "All right, Daddy." She handed him the check. "When I turn twenty-one you'll have a millionaire in the family."

Joss leaned forward and caught Kim's attention. "Cousin Kim? How did you like being this La Chatonne?" she eagerly asked.

"Yeah, what was it like . . . "

" . . . being a crook?" the twins finished. All three wore delighted grins on their faces.

Kim seemed to consider the matter for almost a minute before answering.

"Well, it was sort of fun." Kim's expression shifted from 'thoughtful' to what could only be called 'wickedly impish.' She looked at Wade in the Kimunicator screen, then Ron and Rufus. "You know, guys, I think that if I tried, I could be a very successful cat burglar." They all smiled back at her, while Yolanda picked up the cue and spoke.

"Why not, Miss Possible? You have all the necessary skills and training."

"Everybody needs a second profession, KP," Ron calmly said.

"I could find you a lot of profitable targets, Kim," said Wade, tapping his keyboard as he went along with the gag. "There's an American 1918 airmail stamp called 'The Inverted Jenny,' worth eight hundred thousand dollars, in a collection in Los Angeles. And here's a gold Brasher Doubloon worth three million, in a coin museum, just asking to be taken!"

"I know of a statuette of Venus that would make an easy target," Yolanda remarked. "Once you got it, the owner would pay handsomely to get it back."

"How is it you know about this, my dear?" asked Nana, with a smile.

"My grandmother — 'La Chatte' — sold it to an art collector in 1959," she answered. "Supposedly it was made by Benvenuto Cellini, but one of my great-great-great grandfathers was really the man who carved it." Everyone gazed at Yolanda with renewed interest as she explained.

"He was a professional art forger in the 1890s, but always sold his work to private collectors who had more money than they knew what to do with. Grandmother sold the statuette 'under the counter,' after it was supposedly stolen from a private collection." She winked at Nana, who nodded and grinned in return.

"Actually, the statuette had been in my family since it was carved, and Grandfather only let it go because he needed the money."

"Did your grandfather collect insurance money for the 'theft' of this statue?" asked James, with a disapproving tone.

"Certainly not! To take insurance money in such a case would be a crime! Besides, the buyer offered a high price for it, even before it was 'stolen,'" Yolanda replied. "Twenty years ago the first buyer sold it for a large profit to another private collector, who keeps it locked away so he can gloat over it."

Kim nodded thoughtfully. "Just where is this statue located now?"

Joss, Jim and Tim all grinned, and chorused, "Yeah!" Rufus rubbed his front paws in anticipation, and traded an evil look with Ron.

"Now, see here, Kimberly Ann!" said James. "We Possibles have been law-abiding citizens for six generations, and you're not going to change that now!"

In an innocent manner, Tim and Jim asked, "Dad, didn't you tell us, once . . . "

" . . . that one of our ancestors was a pirate?"

"He was a privateer, boys," James Possible firmly replied. "There's a big difference."

Wade, Tim, Jim, Joss, Ron, Rufus and Kim all burst out laughing. "Daddy, we're joking!"

"James, I think your leg came off in Kim's hand, just then," Ann added, with a broad smile. Kim's father looked around the table and noted the grins on everyone's faces.

"Oh? Ah, yeah . . . " James grinned sheepishly at his brother. "I walked right into that one, didn't I, Slim?"

"I reckon you did, Squirt," he chuckled, "I reckon you did."

Middleton High School, First Day of the Fall Semester

The halls of the High School were filled with new, incoming freshmen, and the various sophomores, junior and seniors who had been here before. The seniors were mostly thrilled at starting their senior year, while a few were wondering if they could handle the load. In other words, as Vice Principal Steve Barkin observed, it was the same semi-organized madhouse it usually was. Between the first and second class periods Bonnie Rockwaller, Kim, Ron and Kim's best female friend Monique all happened to meet in the hall, and Bonnie started her senior year in the same fashion as she had started each of the three previous years. With a verbal attack on Kim Possible.

"Well, I'd heard that you were 'missing' in the Bahamas, K. I see somebody must have found you. Have an interesting summer vacation?"

"Pretty interesting, Bonnie," Kim made the name sound like an epithet, and smiled her 'hungry shark' smile in reply. "My family and Ron went to Nassau, but on the fourth day we were there I died in an exploding submarine."

"Oh, clev-er! You mean you're a ghost, now?" Bonnie sneered. "Really, Kim, you are so weird!"

"Well, sure, Kim got vaporized," said Ron, calmly, "but it wasn't really permanent."

"You know Kim," Monique added. "She just needed some time to pull herself together again."

"After all, Bonnie," Kim said in a sweet tone, "anything is possible . . . for a Possible!"

[End of Story]

Historical notes: In 1351, agents for Pope Clement VI calculated the number of dead in Christian Europe due to the Black Death at 23,840,000. With a preplague population of about 75 million, this casualty figure accounts for a mortality of 31 %.

At one period over 40 % of the people who got the 1918 influenza died of it. In October, 1918, the Surgeon General of the United States Army estimated that if the epidemic continued growing over the next weeks as it had grown in the previous weeks, then civilization could disappear from the face of the earth by 1919. Fortunately the epidemic began to burn itself out by November, 1918.

The "Inverted Jenny" stamp is a 24-cent U. S. airmail stamp issued in 1918. An error in the printing process had the Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" airplane shown on the stamp upside down. About 700 of the stamps were misprinted, but inspectors caught all except a single sheet of 100 stamps before any were sold. The single sheet that was sold was bought by stamp collector William Robey on May 14, 1918, at a Washington post office. The sheet was later broken up into small blocks and individual stamps. In December 2007, a single "Inverted Jenny" airmail stamp was sold at auction for the price of eight hundred and twenty-five thousand U. S. dollars.

The "Brasher Doubloon" is a privately minted gold coin created by Ephraim Brasher in 1787. Seven examples are known to exist. Its rarity, unique design, and purity of the gold in it make it the most highly valued of American gold coins.

Benvenuto Cellini was an Italian goldsmith and sculptor who lived from 1500 to 1571.