"Where is he going?" I asked as we continued to follow the Cheese Bug through the streets in the Big Bologna.
"It looks like he's pulling over up there," Doc noted. "Right in front of . . . "
"The police station!" we exclaimed with surprise.
"You don't suppose he's going to turn himself in?" I asked.
"That might be wishful thinking," Doc suggested.
As I pulled the Big Bologna over behind the Cheese Bug, we saw the costumed man run into the precinct. We quickly jumped out of our vehicle and hurried inside ourselves.
When we stepped into the front office we didn't see any sign of the man we'd been chasing. Sgt. Vinton was working at his desk, as were the other officers. None of them seemed to have noticed anything strange.
"Sgt. Vinton! Did you see a man in a yellow costume with an orange mask and cape run in here?" I asked.
"Yeah," Sgt. Vinton answered calmly. "He just went upstairs."
"You just let him run upstairs without stopping him?" Doc asked incredulously.
Sgt. Vinton looked at us strangely. "Sure, why not? He was here just a few days ago to fill the vending machines."
"The vending machines!" Doc and I gasped, and we hurried upstairs.
We reached the line of vending machines in the lunch room to find the costumed man waiting for us. "Ha ha!" he laughed. "You have finally uncovered my secret! You never would have guessed I'd hidden the trigger right here in the police station under your very noses. But you're too late to stop me!"
"What is it you plan to do, Captain Cheddar?" I asked.
The man looked startled and asked, "Captain Cheddar?"
"Hey, I kind of like that!" Doc said.
"It does have a nice ring to it, doesn't it?" I asked.
"Enough!" the man shouted. "I'm going to ruin the Expo! That's what I'm going to do!"
"But why?" I asked.
"Because they laughed at me!" the man cried.
"In that outfit, I'm not surprised," Doc commented.
"Fifteen years ago I attended the World Expo! The real World Expo! I was there to introduce the world to my fabulous new invention! I had created a way to store cheese inside cans to be easily dispensed on crackers and snacks!"
"You invented spray cheese?" Doc asked with surprise.
The man nodded. "It should have made me millions! I was at the vanguard of a whole new industry! But did they applaud me? Did they call me a genius and beg to buy into my idea for Cheese Worms?"
"Cheese Worms?" Doc and I asked in disgust.
"That's what I called it," the man explained. "You know . . . the cheese looks like little worms when it comes out."
"I'm beginning to see what went wrong," Doc noted.
"They laughed at me! They said Cheese Worms would never sell! That it was a stupid idea!" the man continued. "And then five years later, Nabisco comes out with the very same product, only they called it Snack Mate. And it's made them millions! That success should have been mine!"
"Wait a minute," Doc stopped him. "This all happened fifteen years ago. Why take your anger out on our Expo now?"
"Do you know how expensive it is to travel to a World Expo?" the man asked. "Cheese Worms ruined me! I don't have any money to make extravagant trips! So when I heard Northeast Southweston was hosting its very own Expo, I knew it was my chance to finally have my revenge!"
"While we sympathize with your situation, we can't let you take it out on innocent people," I pointed out.
"Too late!" the man said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a quarter.
Doc held up his hands and spoke calmly. "Just put the quarter down and no one will get hurt."
The man turned and dropped the quarter into the candy machine, then pulled one of the knobs. We watched anxiously as he retrieved a Sky Bar from the bottom compartment and held it up, laughing. "Ha ha! I'll show you! I'll show them all! All I have to do is take one bite, setting off the remote trigger, and the Expo will be subjected to such a flood of processed cheese raining down upon them it will bring the entire event to a sticky standstill!"
We cringed as he ripped open the candy bar and took a bite. After a moment, he looked confused. He started to look more closely at the chocolate bar, picking it apart with his fingers.
"It's not here!" the man cried. "The trigger is gone! But I know I placed it in the front slot of this machine!"
Doc and I immediately turned to each other and cried, "Doomsday!"
"He bought a Sky Bar earlier today!" Doc remembered.
"And he took it to the Expo with him," I added. "Doc . . . do you realize what this means?"
The costumed man suddenly rushed past us and headed down the stairs.
"It means he's getting away!" Doc pointed out.
"It means Fortuna's prediction was right," I corrected. "But Doomsday isn't going to destroy the world world. He's going to destroy the World Expo!"
"And Captain Cheddar is probably heading there right now to get to him before we do!" Doc added.
We both ran down the stairs and reached the front of the building as the Cheese Bug pulled away from the curb.
"We have to find Doomsday and the trigger before he does!" Doc said.
"And before Doomsday gets hungry," I added.
We both knew this meant we didn't have much time, so we scrambled into the Big Bologna and headed back to the Expo.
When we arrived, I quickly parked the Big Bologna and Doc and I ran to the Expo entrance. We had already spotted the Cheese Bug parked hurriedly near the entrance, so we quickly paid admission and hurried through the gates where we were surprised to find Kurt Klinsinger talking to several security guards.
"Mr. Klinsinger, have you seen Bugs or Doomsday?" I asked.
"No, I haven't," Klinsinger answered impatiently.
"Did you see a man in a yellow costume with an orange cape and mask run by?" Doc asked.
"No, I didn't," Klinsinger answered even more impatiently.
"You don't miss much as a reporter, do you?" I asked sarcastically.
"I don't have time for this nonsense," Klinsinger complained. "There's some crazy person running around the Expo causing havoc!"
"A crazy person in a yellow suit?" I ventured.
"No, they describe this crazy person as being short, wearing glasses and a sailor's cap," Klinsinger explained. "And I'm going to find out who it is and break the story!"
"You do that," I encouraged him. "Excuse us."
Doc and I hurried away from Klinsinger and the guards. "Why would Bugs be causing havoc?" I asked.
"Maybe somebody said 'bananas' to him," Doc suggested.
"We'd better find them and fast!" I sighed.
We hurried around the center globe statue and were heading to the pavilions when we spotted Bugs and Ida making their way around the corner of one building. Oddly enough, we also saw the man in the yellow costume disappearing around the other side of the building as they came into view.
"Where's Doomsday?" Doc asked as we approached them.
"We've been looking for him," Bugs explained. "He disappeared!"
"When?" I asked worriedly.
"About twenty minutes ago," Ida answered.
"We have to find him . . . " I urged.
"And how . . . " Bugs agreed.
" . . . before he can destroy the world," Bugs and I finished at the same time.
"Two more of her mother's predictions have come true!" Bugs explained.
"And another will come true if we don't find Doomsday," I added. "He doesn't know it, but he has the trigger to set off a volcanic cheesy disaster of massive proportions."
"Cheesy as in low budget?" Bugs asked.
"Cheesy as in processed cheese," I explained.
"Then fromage is cheese?" Bugs asked with surprise.
"Of course," Doc confirmed.
"Where have you searched?" I asked.
"Pretty much everywhere," Bugs answered. "There's just no sign of him."
"We could try paging him over the public address system," Ida suggested.
"That would be fine, except Captain Cheddar is looking for him, too," I pointed out.
"Captain Cheddar?" Bugs asked. "That guy didn't come up with that name himself, did he?"
"No, P.T. did," Doc said.
"I thought it sounded a bit too catchy to be one of his," Bugs noted.
"There has to be some way for us to find Doomsday," I thought aloud.
Doc turned to Ida and asked, "Have you inherited any of your mother's psychic abilities?"
"Why Doc!" Ida exclaimed with surprise. "What happened to Mr. Skeptic?"
"Hey, anything which might be able to help us would be appreciated about now," Doc said.
"Well, I do have a little touch of the gift, but nowhere near as good as Mama's," Ida answered.
"Do you think you could see where Doomsday is?" I asked hopefully.
"I can try," Ida said, and she closed her eyes and began to concentrate. We watched intently as her brows furrowed and she swayed slightly.
After a long moment Ida sighed and opened her eyes. "I'm afraid all I can tell you is that he's surrounded by future sweaters."
"What does that mean?" Doc asked.
"I don't know," Ida admitted. "I don't get clear visions like Mama yet."
"We're going about this all wrong," I said. "What does Doomsday love best?"
"Food," Bugs and Doc answered immediately.
"And what else does Doomsday love best?" I asked.
"Animals," Bugs and Doc again answered immediately.
"He has food, so chances are if there are any animals here, that's where he'll be," I suggested.
"I don't know if they have any animals here at the Expo," Bugs said.
"Well, there may be some alpacas," Ida offered.
"Alpacas?" Doc asked. "Really? From South America?"
Ida nodded. "I saw a display talking about how raising alpacas is the next big money-making venture of the future while we were in the Hall of Inventions."
"Don't they make sweaters out of alpaca wool?" I asked.
"Yes," Ida confirmed. "That's where the money-making part supposedly comes in, from harvesting their wool."
We suddenly realized at the same moment, "Future sweaters!"
"That's where Doomsday is, all right!" I said. "Come on, show us where this display is!"
We hurried into the Hall of Inventions and Ida led us to the booth she'd seen. They had pictures of alpacas all around and a man was extolling the value of raising the animals for their wool.
"Excuse me," I said. "Do you have any actual alpacas here at the Expo?"
"Why certainly," the man smiled. "They're behind the building. You go out the back exit there and follow the signs down to the pens. Just make sure you don't startle them. They do spit."
"Thanks," I said. "Come on."
Doc had wandered over to the stage where the scientist was crying over his now motionless perpetual motion machine. Doc looked over the contraption a moment, then shook his head. "I knew it wasn't possible," he commented.
The scientist burst into a fresh round of tears as Doc hurried to rejoin us.
Doomsday patted the head of the alpaca that was sympathetically nudging him and sighed. "Thanks for listening, Catunta. At least you understand. If I'm going to bring about the end of the world . . . well, I just couldn't endanger my friends."
Catunta made a sharp grunting sound.
"Oh, don't worry, I won't stay here long," Doomsday promised as he pulled a candy bar from his pocket. "I'm going to go somewhere far, far away where I can't hurt anyone. I just want to have a quick bite before I start on my long journey."
Doomsday unwrapped the chocolate bar and was about to take a bite when he heard us calling his name.
"Doomsday? Doomsday, where are you?"
"I can't let them find me!" Doomsday said, setting the candy bar on one of the fence rails and getting to his feet. "Quick, where can I hide?"
Seeing us approaching, Doomsday stood behind Catunta and bent down to remain hidden.
"I don't see him," he could hear Bugs saying.
"But he must be here somewhere," he heard Ida saying.
Doomsday remained bent over, hiding behind the alpaca. So he was startled when he suddenly realized I was standing beside him.
"Oh, P.T.!" Doomsday gasped. "How did you find me?"
"Alpacas don't have six legs." I pointed to Doomsday's feet, which were clearly visible under the animal. "And they don't wear sneakers."
"Doomsday!" Bugs exclaimed when he saw us. "Why did you run away?"
"I'm going to destroy the world," Doomsday explained sadly. "I didn't want anyone to get hurt."
"Oh, Doomsday," I sighed sympathetically. "It's okay. You're not going to destroy the world. It isn't you, it's the candy bar you bought that's dangerous."
"Oh, I was just about to eat it when I heard you calling me," Doomsday explained.
"Where is it?" Doc asked.
"I set it down right here." Doomsday turned to the fence rail where he'd set the candy bar down, only it wasn't there!
"Where did it go?" I asked.
We realized there were several alpacas close by and we immediately assumed the worst.
"One of these alpacas ate it!" Bugs deduced.
We ran to different alpacas, checking their mouths for signs of chocolate (which, believe me, was not a pleasant thing to do). But we couldn't see that any of them had eaten any.
"Looking for this?" a voice suddenly called from outside the pens.
We looked up to see Captain Cheddar holding up the candy bar smugly. He started laughing and then ran away.
"We've got to stop him!" I shouted, and we took chase.
The chase took us all around the Expo. We followed the laughing, costumed man as he ducked in and out of buildings, ran circles around the lamp posts and scurried past the startled security guards and Klinsinger, who had spotted Bugs and joined in the chase.
Finally we reached the large globe statue at the front of the Expo and the man stopped, turning to us and brandishing the candy bar in victory. We screeched to a halt and the security guards and Klinsinger screeched to a stop behind us.
"We've got you now, you little Expo wrecker!" one security guard exclaimed as two of the men grabbed Bugs.
"He's not the one who's going to ruin the Expo!" I pointed the costumed man out to them. "He is!"
"That's right!" Captain Cheddar shouted. "As soon as I bite this candy bar, two tons of processed cheese stored beneath these very streets will shoot up out of these strategically placed lamp posts throughout the Expo and cover everyone in my beautiful, wonderful Cheese Worms!"
We watched with horror as the man took a huge bite of the candy bar. After an anxious moment, we slowly realized that nothing was happening.
"Mmm," Captain Cheddar hummed as he chewed. "Wow, this candy bar is so light and airy. It's like it melts in your mouth!"
"Doomsday, which candy bar were you about to eat?" I asked.
"My Choco-Lite bar," Doomsday answered.
"What about the Sky Bar?" Doc asked.
"Oh, I was saving that for later," Doomsday replied, pulling it from his pocket.
"Stand back!" Doc shouted, and he gingerly took the Sky Bar from Doomsday.
I noticed that Captain Cheddar was about to make a run for it. "Hold that costumed man!" I shouted to the security guards, and two of them grabbed him before he could escape.
Doc carried the Sky Bar over to a bench and set it down carefully.
"Can you dismantle it?" I asked nervously.
"Of course I can," Doc promised. "I just need a knife."
One of the security guards pulled out a pocket knife and handed it to me, which I in turn handed to Doc.
Everyone watched anxiously as Doc concentrated on the task at hand. We flinched as he carefully opened the wrapper and peeled it back. He took the knife and contemplated his next move, sweat forming on his brow.
"Which one should I cut?" Doc wondered aloud, "Which one? The fudge or the peanut? The fudge or the peanut?"
You could have heard a pin drop as Doc made his decision and slowly cut into one of the chocolate compartments. We held our collective breaths until Doc finally exhaled with relief.
"It's safe," he announced.
"Does that mean I can eat it now?" Doomsday asked.
"What is going on around here?" Klinsinger cried, then he eyed Bugs being held by the security guards and his mouth fell open. "You! You're the one they've been looking for! You're the one causing all the havoc around here!"
"It wasn't his fault," Doomsday assured him. "He was just trying to decipher the clues that man left!"
"Who?" Klinsinger asked. "You mean that guy dressed like a ba . . . ?"
I clapped my hand over Klinsinger's mouth. "Don't say that word!" I cried.
Klinsinger pulled my hand away and asked, "What word?"
"That word you can never say around Bugs because it upsets him very much," I explained.
"What word?" Bugs asked.
"Oh, right!" Klinsinger remembered.
"What word?" Bugs asked.
"Never mind what word," Doc insisted.
"We'd better call the police and have them come sort all this out," one security guard said. "We'll hold both of these guys until we know what's what."
Bugs protested as the men started taking him and Captain Cheddar away.
"Come to think of it," Doomsday said to us, "why is that man dressed like a banana?"
"Doomsday!" we cried.
Doomsday clasped a hand over his mouth, realizing too late what he had done.
"Ba . . . na . . . NA . . . NA . . . NA!" Bugs screamed, throwing the security guards off of him. He started going crazy, looking for something to attack. The next thing we knew he ran to the base of the giant globe statue and began rocking it.
"No, Bugs!" we shouted.
Suddenly Bugs lifted the gigantic statue up over his head like some pint-sized Atlas. With one mighty heave he threw it over our heads. It bounced once on the pavement and then rolled down the main street. People screamed and darted out of the way as it passed, striking and knocking down the lines of lamp posts in it path. As the posts toppled and fell, huge quantities of processed cheese began squirting up out of the ground. People ran for cover as the sticky, gooey mess rained down on everything in sight.
We stood, helplessly, watching the globe continue its path of destruction. Finally it reached the end of the street and crashed into the Hall of Inventions, breaking into several pieces and collapsing to the ground.
Bugs snapped out of his rage and asked, "What's happening?"
"Not much," we answered as cheese continued to rain down on us.
Doc took Ida in his arms and tried to shield her from the cheesy rain. "Well, I guess Mama's prediction came true after all," he said, nodding towards the broken globe statue, "Doomsday destroyed the world."
"And the World Expo," I added, still watching the ensuing chaos. "Northeast Southweston's first . . . and probably its last."
Doomsday wiped some of the cheese from his face and took a taste. "Mmm!" he smiled. "This is good! Where can we buy some of this? It would go really good with capers!"