Doomsday was at the wheel of the Big Bologna and I was sitting in the front passenger seat as we headed for Perkle's Peak. Doc, Bugs and Sill were seated in the back.
"If our calculations are correct . . . " Doc began.
"And from the information we gathered they should be," Sill asserted.
" . . . then we should find what we're looking for at the top of Perkle's Peak," Doc finished.
"And you figured all this out just by using math?" Bugs asked in awe.
"Trigonometry," Sill corrected.
"Sylvia, you are so smart," Bugs sighed in awe. "I know Doc calls you Sill, but would you mind if I call you Via?"
"Why?" Sill asked.
"Because you've found the way to my heart," Bugs said earnestly.
Doc nodded, impressed, but Sill looked somewhat confused.
"When all this is over, would you like to go out with me?" Bugs asked hopefully.
Sill now realized Bugs was serious, and she blushed. "Oh well, Bugs . . . I'm flattered. But I'm afraid I don't really have a lot of time to date, what with all of my studies . . . " She could see the disappointment on his face and quickly added. "Don't get me wrong! You're one of the most interesting boys I've ever met! It's just that . . . "
"It's okay, you don't have to explain," Bugs assured her, and he leaned back in his chair to sulk.
Sill looked at Doc, who only shrugged at her.
We were now driving up Perkle's Peak and I was searching the mountaintop for any sign of anything strange. As we rounded a turn on the dirt road leading toward the summit I caught a flash of sunlight reflecting from something above, but it only lasted a second.
"There's something up there, all right," I announced.
Suddenly Mr. Featherstone started thrashing in his tank again. Doomsday turned his head around to look into the back. "Oh no, it's happening again!" he cried.
All at once a flash of light filled the windshield and there was a loud, cacophonous sound which exploded in the air. It sounded like the sharp strumming of a hundred out-of-tune guitars all at once. As soon as the light vanished I could see a huge hole had appeared in the road in front of us.
"Look out!" I cried, lunging for the steering wheel as Doomsday turned back around and saw the hole. Doomsday slammed on the brakes and we both turned the wheel as the Big Bologna spun out on the dirt road. We somehow managed to maintain control and keep the vehicle upright as it skidded to a stop with the back right wheel slipping into the hole.
For an anxious moment the Big Bologna started to tip backwards as if it might slip down into the hole. But Doc, Sill and Bugs quickly jumped up from their seats and ran to the front with us, righting the teetering vehicle.
"We're sitting ducks here," I pointed out. "Doomsday, quick, drive back down around the bend."
Doomsday started the Big Bologna and carefully pulled forward until the right wheel was out of the hole, then drove us back down the road and around the bend of the hill where the vehicle would be out of range from the menace above.
"Well, it appears whoever's behind this knows we're here," Doc observed.
"We have to sneak up there and put that thing out of commission," I urged. "We'll split up. Doc, Bugs and Sill, you go around to the east. Doomsday and I will sneak around to the west. Try to stay out of its direct line of fire as much as possible. Once we're close, anyone who can think of any way to stop it, do it. Okay?"
"Right," everyone agreed, and we split up.
Our separate groups began the anxious journey on foot up the mountain. Doomsday and I stayed low, sneaking around past the Big Bologna and making our way up the side of the mountain that followed the road.
Looking over the ridge, I could see the structure on top of the peak. It was a large metal tower with what looked like a huge satellite dish on top. The dish was occasionally turning, as if seeking out a target.
Doc, Bugs and Sill were carefully making their way towards the top from the other side. At one point they had to cross between an open area that would leave them in direct view of the tower. "We have no choice," Doc realized. "Come on, hurry."
As they raced across the area between two rocky outcroppings, the dish turned in their direction and fired. They were momentarily blinded by the light and the horrific sound, but they continued running. A hole appeared in the ground only inches from where Doc had just passed, but right in front of Sill and Bugs. Without hesitation, Bugs picked up Sill and leapt over the hole with her in his arms, catching up with Doc behind the safety of the rocks.
"Are you okay?" Bugs asked Sill worriedly.
"How . . . how did you do that?" Sill stammered in shock.
"No time to explain," Doc insisted. "We're almost there! If we can get below the tower, it won't be able to fire at us!"
As the machine was firing at the others, Doomsday and I were able to get much closer. We peered out from behind some rocks and looked up at the huge structure.
"I hope the others are okay," I sighed worriedly.
"How are we going to stop it?" Doomsday asked.
"I don't know," I admitted, watching as the gigantic dish began to turn back in our direction. It was then I saw Doc, Bugs and Sill creeping out from behind some rocks and approaching the base of the seventy foot tower.
"I sure hope Doc and Sill can figure out a way to shut it down," I sighed.
"And quickly," Doomsday added, "Because it's pointed right at us!"
I looked up and realized Doomsday was right. I also realized the rocks we were hiding behind were not that deep.
"Get back!" I shouted, and we both lunged back away from the rocks as the light blinded us and the raucous sound deafened us.
"It's shooting at P.T. and Doomsday!" Doc realized. "We have to stop it!"
When the light dimmed, I looked up to see the rocks sheltering us had been completely disintegrated, and Doomsday and I were now openly in the machine's line of fire. All it had to do was fire again and we were goners!
"Enough is enough!" Bugs cried, and he looked at his hands, summoning his super strength. Doc pulled Sill aside as Bugs lunged at the tower, pushing with all his might. The tower lurched and leaned and finally toppled over with a loud crash. The domed, mirrored dish cracked on impact and rolled away from the tower, now harmless.
Doomsday and I joined the others beside the fallen tower and breathed a sigh of relief.
"Good thinking, Bugs," I said.
"Yeah, but I hope you won't get seven years bad luck now," Doomsday noted worriedly.
"Well, at least it's over," Doc sighed.
"So, you think it's over and you've won, huh?" a man's voice suddenly echoed around us.
We looked around, startled, but no one was in sight.
"Who is that?" Sill asked.
"I don't know where he is, but I recognize that voice," I said. I then called, "It's no use, Mr. Profeta! You may as well give yourself up! Your little game has ended!"
"My little game may be ended, but my big game is just beginning!" Mr. Profeta's voice laughed.
Doc tapped my shoulder and motioned to several cameras positioned around the area on posts which also included microphones and loudspeakers. "He's got this place wired remotely," Doc explained. "He could be anywhere, even back in his office."
"That's how he was able to see us coming and fire at us," I realized.
"We've put your machine out of business!" Bugs called out. "You're finished!"
"On the contrary," Mr. Profeta's voice said. "I was planning on retiring that model of my laser soon anyway."
"Laser?" Doc asked with surprise.
"Yes, laser," Mr. Profeta confirmed.
"That's not a laser!" Doc argued.
"Yes, it is!" Mr. Profeta contradicted. "I invented it myself!"
"You didn't invent the laser!" Sill joined the argument.
"And that's not a laser, anyway!" Doc agreed.
"It is so!" Mr. Profeta insisted. "It's my Light and Sound Evaporation Ray! I invented it!"
"You can't use that acronym," Doc countered. "It's already been used!"
"L.A.S.E.R. stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation!" Sill explained. "Everyone knows that!"
"I didn't know that," Doomsday admitted.
"Nope, sorry, but I'm using that acronym for my machine and no one can stop me!" Mr. Profeta snarled. "You kids think you're so smart! You have no idea what you're up against!"
"It sounds like we're up against a real nutcase," Doc sighed.
"Okay, so you're using your 'laser' to damage the structures in Northeast Southweston to generate business," I summarized.
"And you practiced on vacant lots around town, thinking no one would find that too suspicious," Doc added.
"But you've knowingly endangered the lives of the citizens of our fair city!" I pointed out. "Your machine could have easily killed innocent bystanders! Not to mention all the chaos and panic you've caused!"
"You haven't seen anything yet, boys," Mr. Profeta promised. "If I may direct your attention to the large hill across the ravine directly to your north?"
We turned to look in the direction he indicated where we indeed saw a large hill across the ravine from us.
"I don't remember that hill being there before," I noted.
Before the others could respond, the hill started moving! Two large doors slid open and to our amazement and horror something began emerging, rising up from what was obviously a man-made enclosure which had been designed to look like a hill.
We stared in disbelief as the gigantic dish rose from the faux hill. It was at least ten times larger than the laser dish and tower we had already destroyed and when it finally reached its full height it stood looming ominously above us.
"You're insane!" I cried. "You can't possibly plan to use that on Northeast Southweston!"
"But I do," Mr. Profeta's voice assured us. "As soon as I'm done repairing all the damage and making my fortune, the whole sequence of events will begin again. Only this time there'll be even more damage and even more money!"
"A ray that size could disintegrate the entire Krelvin building in one shot!" Doc noted in horror.
"As well as the top of Perkle's Peak," Mr. Profeta added as the gigantic dish began to turn to take aim at us. "Sorry, boys, but at least know you won't die in vain. You're giving me the perfect excuse to test my new ultimate mega-laser."
"It's not a laser!" Doc and Sill shouted angrily.
"Laser or not, we're in big trouble!" I pointed out. "That thing is big enough to wipe out this entire mountaintop!"
"What are we going to do?" Doomsday cried.
"Well, at this point I think there is only one remotely viable solution left open to us," Doc noted.
"And that is?" I asked.
"Run!" Doc shouted.
We all turned and ran back down the slope, trying to get out of the ray's direct line of fire.
"We can't possibly outrun it!" I shouted as we scurried toward the lee side of the peak. "We're going to end up like the tips of Harvey Krelvin's loafers!"
Bugs suddenly stopped running. "Krelvin!" he gasped. He looked back up at the fallen tower and then down to us, making up his mind in an instant.
I stopped and turned when I realized Bugs was running back up the slope.
"Bugs!" I called out as the others took shelter behind an incline.
"Get down!" Bugs shouted back as he continued up the hill.
I was close to running after Bugs when Doc grabbed me and pulled me down behind the incline. Together we peered up over the edge to see Bugs using his super strength to lift the large cracked domed dish, bracing himself as he held it up between us and the much larger ray machine.
The next thing I knew we were surrounded by a painfully blinding light, much harsher than the one we'd witnessed before. The air was wrenched with an even more intense and horrifying sound that made me duck down and cover my head with my arms. We all cowered together behind the incline, breathing quickly and waiting for the end to come.
But the end didn't come. Slowly I lifted my head when I realized everything had grown quiet. I looked around to see the others laying beside me, slowly lifting their heads in the same state of confusion.
"Is it over?" Doomsday asked nervously.
I got to my feet and observed the unusual sight. On either side of us the earth dropped away suddenly. Both sides of the peak had been disintegrated. All of the posts which had held Mr. Profeta's video and sound equipment were gone. Even the lower half of the huge tower which Bugs had knocked over was gone. Only one area of the peak remained, and that was the portion stretching back from where Bugs had taken up his position with the dish. Only now I couldn't see any sign of either one. I immediately started running up the hill.
"What happened?" Sill asked in a daze.
"Bugs used the mirror on the dish to reflect the ray away from us," Doc explained. They looked up at the gigantic ray on the opposite hill and saw that a good portion of it was now gone . . . only the lower portion of its huge dish remained.
"He saved us," Sill realized. "And he also destroyed the larger ray!"
"But where is he?" Doomsday asked.
I scrambled to the top of the peak, calling out, "Bugs! Bugs!" When I reached the spot where the dish had been, my heart immediately dropped into my stomach. "Oh no," I gasped.
The mountaintop was strewn with both large and small pieces of the mirrored dish, which had apparently shattered under the stress of the intense ray. Laying motionless amongst the pieces was Bugs; his hat and glasses laying in the dirt nearby.
The others reached the scene as I dropped down next to Bugs and desperately tried to solicit some kind of response from him. "Bugs! Bugs, please!" I cried tearfully. "Come on, wake up!"
Sill gasped at the sight as Doc and Doomsday quickly joined me. Doomsday and I waited anxiously as Doc quickly looked Bugs over. Our blood ran cold as Doc looked at us and slowly shook his head, a look of complete helplessness in his eyes.
"No, Doc," I cried. "He can't . . . !"
"He saved our lives!" Doomsday sobbed.
We sat in stunned disbelief, trying to comprehend what was happening. Sill walked over to Doc and knelt beside him, putting her hands on his shoulders.
"What are we going to do without Bugs?" I asked quietly, unsuccessfully trying to fight back tears.
"He wasn't smart," Doc sighed.
"Or sweet," I added.
"But he was our Bugs," Doomsday sobbed. "And he was always there for us."
"I should have said yes when he asked me to go out," Sill cried. "I wanted to. It's just I'd never really dated before. I didn't know what to say. And now . . . "
We all nodded with understanding.
Sill breathed unsteadily and then sighed sadly, "I guess I'll never know what happens when he hears the word 'bananas.'"
There was an anxious moment as we all waited for the usual reaction. When there was none, it only seemed to drive the reality further into our aching hearts.
Then suddenly I thought I saw Bugs twitch. A moment later it happened again. "Look!" I said hopefully.
We watched as Bugs' head moved slightly, and he murmured ever so quietly, "Ba . . . na . . . " After a moment the movements became more pronounced and his body also twitched. " . . . na . . . na . . . "
Bugs suddenly sat up, jerking his head and neck slightly as he continued to utter, " . . . ba . . . ba . . . na . . . na . . . " Slowly he opened his eyes and looked up at us wearily, as if exhausted. "Wha . . . what's happening?" he asked quietly.
"Not much," Doc, Doomsday and I smiled through tears of relief.
"Oh Bugs!" Sill said, wrapping her arms around his neck. "Bugs you were so strong and so brave! Yes, I'll go out with you!"
"You will?" Bugs asked with surprise. "Right now?"
"Well, I think you'd better rest first," Doc suggested.
"I'm okay," Bugs assured us as he tried to get up, but it was clear he was still pretty unsteady.
"Just relax," I urged, handing Bugs his hat and glasses. "Mr. Profeta's machines are no longer a threat, thanks to you. But we still have to catch the man himself."
"How are we going to do that?" Doomsday asked.
"I'm going to contact Sgt. Vinton," I said, grabbing my C.A.P.E.R. band radio. "I think he'd be interested to hear about Mr. Profeta and his schemes."
Mr. Profeta smiled to himself as he locked up his office. He patted his breast pocket to assure himself that the envelope containing the cashier's check, which the Mayor had dropped off moments before, was indeed there. Satisfied, he began his walk to the bank.
As he walked, a small flash of concern crossed his mind. He wondered why the instrumentation on his larger ray had stopped responding after he'd fired the machine. Had something gone wrong? He knew the ray had worked . . . he expected to lose all visual and audio input from Perkle's Peak when the ray obliterated the mountaintop, which had indeed happened.
No, everything was fine, he assured himself. "I got rid of those pesky Kids for certain," he smiled to himself. The larger ray probably just needed some fine tuning. The smaller ray had been the same. He could drive up to the peak later and make sure the larger ray was hidden from view. Then he could easily make any necessary repairs. It would take months if not years to repair the damage he had already caused around town. Yes, the one thing he had plenty of now besides money . . . was time.
He entered his branch of the Northeast Southweston Bank and waited in line for the next available teller. Once called, he pulled the envelope containing the cashier's check from his pocket and handed it to the good-looking young man who greeted him.
"I would like to have this cashed," Mr. Profeta explained.
"Certainly, sir," the young man replied. "And how would you like your money? In tens? Twenties?"
"Tens and twenties," the next teller over suddenly said. "How about getting that in years, instead?"
Mr. Profeta looked over and realized I was the teller who had spoken. He looked at his teller and realized with surprise that it was Doc.
"You!" he gasped. "But how . . . ?" He leered angrily at us and growled, "But I disintegrated you brats!"
"Your plan apparently had a few holes in it," I countered. "And I think Sgt. Vinton has a couple of holes for you to slip your wrists into as well!"
Mr. Profeta turned to see Sgt. Vinton standing behind him holding up a pair of handcuffs. Behind the sergeant stood numerous officers, making any escape attempt impossible. Mr. Profeta looked daggers at Doc and I as the cuffs were placed on him and he was read his rights.
"I can't thank you enough, boys," Sgt. Vinton said as we exited the bank. "Not only can we charge him with racketeering, destruction of property and reckless endangerment but with his confession in there we should be able to nail him for attempted homicide. He should be going away for a long time."
"Too bad you can't slap him with a charge of 'reckless misuse of scientific terms,' as well," Doc sighed.
"This city owes you a great deal," Sgt. Vinton smiled.
"We can't take all the credit," I insisted. "Which reminds me, Doc and I have to get back over to the emergency room and see how Bugs is doing. Doomsday and Sill will be waiting for us."
"I sure hope everything will be all right," Sgt. Vinton said sympathetically. "Tell him to take it easy. That's an order!"
We climbed into the Big Bologna and headed over to Northeast Southweston General Hospital. We found Doomsday and Sill sitting in the waiting room, watching a Klinsinger report on the television.
" . . . and thus Mr. Profeta's 'holey' reign of terror comes to an end," Klinsinger was summarizing. "Next, we'll be investigating the burning question which has now swept our city . . . does Harvey Krelvin indeed wear Donny Osmond socks? Stay tuned!"
"Any word yet?" Doc asked.
"The doctor came out and talked to us a while ago," Doomsday reported. "He said Bugs will be fine, but that he should definitely rest for a few days. They'll be releasing him any time now."
"Thank goodness," I sighed with relief.
"Did you get everything?" Sill asked us.
"It's all ready to go," I assured her.
"Thanks," she smiled, and she walked out to the parking lot.
Fifteen minutes later Bugs walked out with the doctor. We all jumped up and greeted Bugs happily.
"He'll be fine," the doctor assured us. "Just keep this little dynamo from performing any more heroics for a few days, okay?"
"We'll make sure he takes it easy, doctor," I assured the man.
"Boy, I'm sure glad you're okay, Bugs," Doomsday said as we headed for the parking lot.
"Yeah, you gave us quite a scare," Doc agreed.
"You sure did," I agreed, patting Bugs' shoulder. "But . . . thanks for saving our lives."
"Aw, that's okay, guys," Bugs assured us. He looked around and asked, "Hey, where's Sill?"
"Well, I'm not sure where she is," I said. The others shook their heads, playing along.
"Oh," Bugs sighed with disappointment.
"Anything wrong?" Doc asked.
"I just thought . . . never mind," Bugs said.
We walked to the Big Bologna and I opened the door for Bugs to enter. He stepped up into the vehicle and was surprised to see Sill sitting at a small table covered with a checkered tablecloth which had been set up in the back. The round windows had been covered, and a candle centerpiece on the table created a welcoming glow. Two plates held pieces of pizza and Sill was opening a large bottle of cola.
Bugs stood with his mouth open, then looked back at me. "What's all this?" he asked.
I leaned in the door and smiled, answering with a wink, "I think this is your first date." I closed the door, giving them their privacy.
Bugs walked over to the table and sat down as Sill poured a glass of cola for him, then for herself. Mr. Featherstone watched for a moment, then mumbled something sentimental before slipping under the water.
They picked up their glasses and Sill smiled, saying, "Here's to getting to know you better, Bugs."
Bugs smiled as they clinked glasses and then took a drink. "Mmm . . . " Bugs hummed. "1976. A very good year."
Sill laughed, pointing at Bugs and remarking, "Now that was a joke! Right?"
"Right," Bugs nodded happily.