The secret word is: "Brain"
Of all the mysteries in this world, the most vexing and perplexing has to be that which shrouds the enigmatic and intricate workings of the human mind. The subject of grey matter is a grey area when it comes to science . . . no one has truly comprehended all of the complexities of the cerebral cortex. But this was the furthest thing from my mind as I rode along the street on this fateful Friday morning.
It was a clear, cool day, and I was enjoying the pleasant weather as I approached the 927th Precinct on my Convert-a-Bike. While it does include a motor, this morning I felt like starting the day with some exercise and chose to pedal. Plus with the gas crises of recent years I always tried to conserve fuel whenever possible.
As I coasted the last few feet, I swung my leg over the seat to stand on the left pedal then jumped off as the bike came to a stop. Bugs was approaching the station at that moment and waited as I pulled up.
"Hey, P.T.," Bugs greeted.
"Morning, Bugs," I replied. "I guess Doomsday's not here yet?"
"He probably got sidetracked by all the donut shops between his house and the station," Bugs pointed out.
I glanced at my watch and sighed, "That's a lot. He could be a while."
"No, wait, here he comes now," Bugs pointed out.
Sure enough, the Big Bologna turned the corner and pulled up to the curb in front of the station. I wheeled the bike to the front of the vehicle as Doomsday stepped out. He was carrying a pink cardboard box.
"Hi, guys!" Doomsday greeted us. "Been waiting long?"
"No, we just got here," I answered.
"That's good," Doomsday said. "I was worried I'd be late. Those donut shops are hard to resist!"
"We'll have to work out a donut shop-free route for you one of these days," I suggested.
"Oh here, let me help you with that," Bugs offered, and he stepped to the front of the Big Bologna to help me lift the bike onto the rack. "You will save me a chocolate cake with sprinkles, right Doomsday?"
"Sure thing, Bugs," Doomsday promised as he pulled a glazed twist from the box and started eating it.
As Bugs and I worked to secure the bike to the front of the Big Bologna, a red Chevy Vega pulled up to the curb and parked. Doomsday watched as a young, dark-haired girl climbed out of the car and looked up at the station questioningly.
"Donut?" Doomsday offered her.
"Huh? Oh, no thank you," she replied.
"Are you looking for the police?" Doomsday asked.
"Not exactly," the girl answered. "Although I am looking for the station."
"This is it," Doomsday pointed behind him. "Are you sure you don't want a donut? Because they'll disappear once I take them inside."
"You work here?" the girl asked.
"So it's true what they say?" the girl smiled.
Doomsday looked confused.
"About policemen and donuts," the girl offered as an explanation.
"What do they say?" Doomsday asked with wide eyes. "And who are they?"
"It's totally true," Bugs chimed in, joining the conversation as he reached into the box to retrieve his chocolate donut. "As soon as they see the pink box, they'll put out an APB for anything with sprinkles. That's why I'm getting mine now!"
"I'm looking for somebody named Doc," the girl explained. "The people at the library said I might find him here."
"If he isn't at the library, chances are he's here," I assured her.
"So you know this Doc then?" she asked.
"He's part of our team," I confirmed.
The girl looked surprised. "Really? He's not too old?"
"Well, he doesn't mind hanging out with us 'kids' too much," I joked.
"And he's really smart?" she asked. "I mean, I was told he's the smartest man in town!"
"That's Doc," Bugs nodded. "He's so smart, I don't understand what he's saying half the time!"
The girl looked skeptical. "Are you sure that's not senility?"
Bugs looked offended and insisted sharply, "I'm not senile!"
"Not unless senile is another word for really strong," Doomsday added.
"Why don't you come with us and we'll introduce you?" I suggested.
"Thank you," she smiled, then said, "Just a moment." She opened her car's hatchback and pulled out a large case with a handle on it. Bugs hurried over to take the case from her and she motioned that it was okay, that she could manage on her own.
"I'm doing an experiment in measuring brain waves," she explained as she followed us into the station. "That's why I was looking for the smartest man in town."
"Oh, well that sounds like something Doc would find interesting," I said, opening the door to the C.A.P.E.R. room for her. Behind us I could see officers swarming into the front room from all directions, making a beeline for Doomsday, who stood patiently and let them flock around him grabbing donuts as calmly as if he were feeding pigeons in the park.
After a moment I realized she hadn't entered the room. She was giving me an impatient look which I didn't understand at first.
Finally she said sharply, "I can get the door myself."
"Oh, but see, I would be holding it open for Bugs if he were carrying the case for you," I explained. "I'm an equal opportunity door holder."
She seemed to accept this explanation and entered the room.
Doc was sitting on the corner of the desk, reading a book. He smiled when he saw us enter with the girl.
"Here he is," I announced, motioning to Doc. "Doc, this is . . . that's right, we don't know your name yet."
The girl stood, looking stunned. She pointed at Doc and stammered, "You mean . . . ?"
"Umeen," I repeated. "Umeen, this is Doc."
"Minerva," the girl corrected me.
"Umeen Minerva?" Bugs asked, confused.
"No, I mean just Minerva," she said.
"Imeen Just Minerva?" Doomsday asked, entering with the empty and rather worse-for-wear-looking pink box. "That's an interesting name!"
"Can we call you 'Just' for short?" I asked.
"Call me Minerva," the girl insisted, setting her case on the desk. She then asked incredulously, "This is Doc?"
We all nodded.
"But you said he was older!" Minerva pointed out.
"Well, he is almost twenty!" I noted.
"I was expecting someone along the lines of a septuagenarian," Minerva explained.
"Oh, sorry, but he is a Libra," Doomsday offered.
Doc stood up and offered his hand in greeting. "Minerva," he smiled, "The Roman goddess of wisdom, warriors and weaving."
"I don't know if I like the weaving part," Minerva protested, then just before she took Doc's hand she looked startled. "What's that sound?"
"Does it sound like church bells?" Bugs ventured.
"Yes, it does," Minerva replied. She finally took Doc's hand to shake and looked even more startled.
"Don't tell us," I said. "Now you're hearing what sounds like a thousand violins."
"Why . . . yes," Minerva gasped.
As Doc stared at her she became even more unnerved.
"And now you hear thundering hoofbeats," Doomsday stated.
"I don't understand," Minerva said, pulling her hand free from Doc's. "I've never . . . " She shook her head and became very serious. "I'm conducting research on the recording of brain waves. I was wondering if you would be interested in taking part in my study."
"Are you asking him does he mind?" Bugs asked.
"I don't think he would!" I added.
"It will give him some food for thought," Doomsday noted.
"Leave it to Doomsday to come up with something about food," Bugs cracked.
"It sounds intellectually stimulating," Doc said. "I'd be happy to participate in your study in any way I can."
"That's wonderful," Minerva said happily as she opened the case on the desk to reveal some kind of machine with wires and buttons. "Just give me a minute to get ready."
"After all, it is our duty to aid and assist the public any way we can," I added. "It's part of the C.A.P.E.R. code."
"C.A.P.E.R.?" Minerva asked.
We all stood at attention and recited, "The Civilian Authority for the Protection of Everybody, Regardless."
"Tadaa!" sang Doc.
"Tadaa!" sang Doomsday.
"Tadaa!" sang Bugs.
"Tadaa!" I concluded, adding a few bars of the Jeopardy think music for good measure.
"Hmmm . . . okay," Minerva said, eyeing us strangely.
"What would you like me to do?" Doc asked Minerva.
Minerva looked around. "Why don't you have a seat on the bench?"
Doc walked to the bench and sat down. Minerva carried the case over and set it down next to Doc. Doomsday, Bugs and I stood beside the desk and watched with interest as she worked to affix two electrodes to Doc's temples. The electrodes were attached to long wires which led to the machine.
"Are you going to zap Doc's brain with that machine?" Doomsday asked worriedly.
"No, I'm just going to take some measurements of his brain waves," Minerva explained.
"Can I get you a ruler?" Doomsday asked.
"That won't be necessary," Minerva assured him. "Thanks."
"You know, I remember this movie where these Martians came down and kidnaped people and then stuck a needle in the back of their necks to take over their minds!" Doomsday said dramatically.
"I saw that movie, too!" Bugs chimed in. "Yeah, they sucked people down into this big sand pit and then turned them into their zombie slaves, sending them out amongst an unsuspecting society to wreak havoc!"
"You guys have got to stop watching those late night horror films," I sighed.
"It would actually be helpful if Doc didn't have any distractions during the test," Minerva hinted impatiently.
"Oh, that's okay. Doc has pretty much learned to ignore us when he wants to," Bugs assured her. "So anyway, remember the little alien octopus guy in the fish bowl?"
Minerva shot a look at us and I got the message loud and clear. "Uh, fellas, I think she means we should leave."
"Why does Doc always get alone time with the girl?" Bugs protested as I herded him and Doomsday from the room.
"Just let us know if you need anything," I said to Minerva before exiting, closing the door behind me.
Minerva finished attaching the electrodes to Doc's head and sat down on the bench with the machine between them. "How does that feel?" she asked.
"It feels fine," Doc assured her. "Is this study part of a course for college or something?"
"It's an independent study my mother is conducting," Minerva explained. "Perhaps you've heard of her? Professor Athena Veda."
Doc shook his head, then stopped when Minerva indicated he shouldn't move. "No, I'm afraid I haven't."
A brief flash of frustration crossed Minerva's face, but it was quickly replaced by an apprehensive look as she adjusted some buttons on the machine and took a deep breath. "Okay," she sighed, "I'm ready to . . . "
"You can't do this," Doc warned her seriously.
Minerva was startled. "What do you mean?" she asked anxiously.
Doc pointed to the wires leading into the machine. "You have these plugged in the wrong place. See? You have them coming from the output jacks, not going into the input."
Minerva checked the wires and looked embarrassed. "That was a silly mistake!" she admitted as she corrected the wiring.
"What kind of a machine is this?" Doc asked, leaning over to study the box more carefully.
"It's an invention of my mother's," Minerva explained curtly, pushing Doc back so he was sitting up straight. "Try not to move, okay?" She sat back when the wires were in their proper places. "Are you ready?"
"Sure," Doc answered. "What would you like me to do?"
"Just close your eyes and relax," Minerva instructed as she switched on the machine. "Don't think about anything . . . just let your mind . . . "
"Don't think about anything?" Doc asked in disbelief.
Minerva nodded. "Just let your mind be calm."
"Well, I've never not thought about anything before, but okay," Doc sighed, closing his eyes.
"Breathe deeply," Minerva suggested as she flipped a switch on the machine, which hummed in response. "Relax your body . . . relax your mind . . . "
As Doc breathed deeply with his eyes closed, Minerva flipped open a cover on the machine to reveal the modified eight-track cassette recorder hidden beneath. She gave Doc a look of concern then pressed the play and record buttons. The needle inside the lighted recording level indicator immediately jumped to the highest level and wavered steadily back and forth.
"That's fine," Minerva sighed without enthusiasm, "Deep breaths."
Doc's expression slowly changed from one of relaxation to one of discomfort. His brows furrowed as if he were feeling pained.
"Just relax," Minerva urged him sadly, "It will be over soon."
Gradually over the next fifteen minutes Doc's expression eased and Minerva watched carefully as the machine continued to record. The level indicator was dropping off dramatically, wavering in the lower third of the meter. She found herself becoming more upset the lower the needle dropped.
Finally, unable to stand it, Minerva switched off the machine before the recording was completed. She stood up and removed the electrodes from Doc's temples. "Doc, can you hear me?" she asked.
Doc's eyes opened and he stared up at her with a blank expression. Minerva realized with sadness that when he stared at her, she no longer heard the sound of thundering hoofbeats.
"I'm sorry," she offered, closing the cover of the recorder as she fought back the tears which were coming to her eyes. "This wasn't what I expected."
Unable to look at Doc any longer, Minerva closed the case and hurried from the room.
Doomsday, Bugs and I were sitting on the front steps of the police station when Minerva hurried past us. She was clutching the case with both hands and looked upset.
"Oh, here . . . let me get that for you!" Bugs offered again as he hurried after her.
"No, I've got it!" Minerva sobbed as she swung her body to push Bugs away and opened the hatchback of her car to set the case inside.
"I know chivalry may be old-fashioned but I didn't mean to upset you," Bugs offered.
Minerva closed the hatchback and hurried to get into her car, trying not to look at us.
"Is everything okay?" I asked with concern as I approached her.
"Oh yes," Minerva assured me through her tears. "It's just . . . I was just overwhelmed by his enormous intellect, that's all."
Minerva jumped into the driver's seat of her car and sped away from the curb, leaving us stunned.
"I've seen Doc overwhelm women before, but never like that!" Doomsday observed.
"She must be very passionate about her work," I speculated as we walked back into the precinct.
Doc was still sitting on the bench when we entered the room. "So, how did it go?" I asked.
"I hope you didn't break her machine with your powerful mind," Bugs said. "She seemed really upset about something when she left."
When Doc didn't respond, I walked over to him. "Well, Doc? What happened?"
Doc looked up at me with a confused expression. And confusion is one expression you practically never see on Doc's face.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
"It's unusual for a girl to leave Doc speechless," Doomsday noted.
"No, something's wrong," I said. I reached over to take Doc's face in my hands and looked into his eyes. He seemed perfectly aware and conscious but lost and confused. "Doc, can you understand me?"
Doomsday and Bugs walked over, eyeing Doc with concern.
"Doc, listen to me," I urged. "What is 2,000 divided by four?"
I could see Doc trying to understand this question; his face showed his growing confusion and frustration. When I turned to look at the others, I realized Doomsday had the exact same puzzled look on his face.
"Oh no!" I gasped. "That girl! She stole Doc's brain!"
"You mean she was from Mars?" Doomsday asked in horror.
"Bugs, quick! Go see if you can catch up with her!" I said.
"Sure thing, P.T.!" Bugs saluted, and he raced out the door. He returned a moment later and asked, "What was she driving?"
"A 1973 Vega GT Hatchback Coupe," I answered.
"Right!" Bugs nodded, and he raced out the door again. A moment later he returned. "What color?"
"Red!" I cried. "With black striping! License plate GVW 738! With a small ding in the left front fender. And the head gasket is leaking oil onto the motor block!"
"Got it!" Bugs nodded, and once again he raced out the door. A moment later he walked back in and asked, "How on earth do you know it had oil leaking onto the motor block?"
"Because I caught the smell of burning oil when she drove up!" I explained with frustration. "Bugs, please! Hurry!"
"Okay! Okay!" Bugs said, and he raced from the room.
"We really need to go over the importance of observational skills again," I sighed.
"The car was red?" Doomsday asked with surprise.
"Doomsday, we were just sitting outside with the car in front of us for over twenty minutes!" I pointed out.
"Oh yeah," Doomsday realized.
I looked at Doc and realized the panic in my voice was upsetting him. His face was twisting in a way that indicated he was going to cry.
"Oh no! No, Doc, it's okay! Please, don't cry!" I begged.
That only seemed to upset him more and suddenly he burst out crying, shouting, "No! Bad!"
"At least he can talk," I realized with some relief.
Doomsday sat next to Doc and tried to comfort him. "There, there, don't cry, Doc! It's gonna be okay! We'll get your brain back somehow!"
"He's like a little kid," I realized. Then I had an idea. "Wait here with him, Doomsday! I'll be right back!"
Doomsday continued to talk comfortingly to Doc as I hurried from the room. But Doc continued to cry unabated.
After a few minutes I returned. "Here, here . . . " I offered, placing a policeman's hat on Doc's head and handing him a chocolate chip ice cream cone. "Don't cry. It'll be okay."
Doc stopped crying and studied the ice cream cone. After a moment he took a lick and giggled, then began eating the ice cream happily.
"Good thinking, P.T.!" Doomsday smiled.
"It's standard police procedure when dealing with upset toddlers," I explained.
"Where did you get the ice cream?" Doomsday asked.
"They keep it in the lunch room freezer for these situations," I answered.
"Was there any more?" Doomsday asked hopefully.
I looked at Doomsday, who now looked like he might start crying. "Oh, okay! Hang on!" I moaned, getting up and leaving the room.
When I returned with another ice cream cone and some napkins I found Doomsday pointing at Doc and saying in a clear voice, "Doc!"
"Dot!" Doc replied with a smile.
Doomsday pointed to himself and said, "Doomsday."
"Doody!" Doc giggled.
"That's the best he can do with names," Doomsday sighed as I handed him the ice cream cone. "Thanks, P.T." Doomdsay licked his ice cream then pointed at me and said, "P.T.! P.T.!"
"Petey!" Doc said happily, kicking his feet as he messily ate his ice cream.
"Very good," I praised as I wiped Doc's mouth with a napkin.
Bugs entered the C.A.P.E.R. room, panting from exhaustion. "I looked in every direction," he reported. "I couldn't find any sign of her."
"That's okay," I sighed. "Thanks for trying."
Bugs looked at Doomsday and Doc and cried, "Hey, they have ice cream! Don't I get any ice cream?"
"Bugs, you just had a donut a little while ago," I pointed out.
"Well, so did Doomsday!" Bugs reminded me. "And I just ran all over the neighborhood!"
I sighed, getting up and heading back to the lunch room.
Doomsday pointed at Bugs and said to Doc, "Bugs! Bugs!"
"Buzz!" Doc smiled.
"Not bad," Bugs smiled, kneeling down in front of Doc. "And do you know your name?"
"Dot!" Doc answered happily.
"Dot!" Bugs nodded. Bugs sat beside them on the bench and looked at Doomsday, sighing, "You know, I can't remember ever seeing Doc this happy before. It's kind of unnerving."
When I entered the C.A.P.E.R. room again with another ice cream cone I found Doc systematically pointing in turn, saying, "Buzz! Doody! Dot!" He then pointed at me and said, "Petey!"
"That's right," I nodded, handing Bugs his ice cream cone.
"Thanks, Petey," Bugs said.
Doomsday and Doc had finished their cones and Doomsday was cleaning Doc's fingers with a napkin when Doc leaned over to whisper something in Doomsday's ear.
"What?" Doomsday asked with confusion.
"Potty!" Doc shouted loudly.
"Oh!" Doomsday understood, taking Doc by the hand and leading him to the door. "I'm going to go show Dot where . . . " He lowered his voice to a whisper. " . . . where the potty is."
"Maybe Petey should show Dot where the potty is," Bugs commented. "Then he'll know where to do his doody."
"I'm getting confused," Doomsday sighed.
"Just show Dot where the little boys room is," I urged.
After they left the room I sat on the bench next to Bugs. "Thank goodness for that," I sighed.
"For what?" Bugs asked.
"For apparently being past the toilet training stage," I explained.
"Oh yeah," Bugs agreed, licking his ice cream cone. "What are we going to do?"
"We have to find Minerva and get Doc's brain back," I stated.
"But why do you think that she wanted to steal Doc's brain?" Bugs asked.
"Well, she was looking for the smartest man in town," I reminded him. "That just happened to be Doc. I think she was actually expecting him to be an old man."
"But what can she possible do with Doc's brain?" Bugs asked.
At that moment Sgt. Vinton entered the C.A.P.E.R. room looking upset. "Who's been eating all the chocolate chip ice cream?" he demanded to know.
Bugs quickly popped the rest of the ice cream into his mouth and hid the cone behind his back.
I stood up and approached Sgt. Vinton. "Do you think you could get us some information from a license plate number?" I asked.
"If it has to do with a crime, I suppose so," Sgt. Vinton answered, then he leaned over to look around me at Bugs. "What's with him?"
I looked around and saw Bugs was trying to swallow the huge amount of ice cream he'd shoved into his mouth. His eyes were rolling back in his head as he struggled to get it down.
"Did someone say 'that word' to him again?" Sgt. Vinton asked.
"Wwwtttt wwwwddd?" Bugs mumbled with his mouth full.
"No, nothing like that," I assured Sgt. Vinton. "Now, about tracing that license plate number . . . "
"Can't Doc look it up on his computer?" Sgt. Vinton asked. "It's probably faster than going through the Department of Motor Vehicle index cards. And he seems to be able to find just about anything on there."
Doc and Doomsday entered the room and Doc stopped when he spotted our fish tank water cooler. He walked over to it and stared at the fish swimming inside with fascination.
"Those are fish," Doomsday explained to Doc patiently.
"Unfortunately that's not an option because, well . . . Doc's not really himself today," I sighed.
"Why is he wearing my hat?" Sgt. Vinton asked.
"It's a long story," I sighed. "You see, someone stole his brain."
"Stole his brain!?" Sgt. Vinton exclaimed. He turned to Doc and asked, "Is that true?"
"Fish!" Doc shouted happily.
Sgt. Vinton turned back to me and gasped, "Someone stole his brain! But who? And how?"
"It was a girl," Doomsday offered.
"That doesn't surprise me," Sgt. Vinton sighed. "Many a man has lost his mind over a girl."
"As for how, she must have sucked it out with her machine," I explained.
"I don't think I want to know all the gruesome details," Sgt. Vinton said. "Does the license plate number have anything to do with this?"
"It's from the girl's car," I answered. "We need to find her to get Doc's brain back!"
"Okay, give me the information," Sgt. Vinton said.
I walked to the desk and wrote down the license number and make of the car for him. "The girl's name was Minerva," I explained as I tore the top sheet off the notepad off to give to him. "And that's about all we know."
"I'll see what I can find out," Sgt. Vinton promised, then he eyed Bugs again warily. "Are you sure she didn't steal his brain, too?"
Bugs was clutching his head painfully and stomping his feet.
"Positive," I assured Sgt. Vinton.
With a shake of his head Sgt. Vinton left the room. A moment later he stepped back in and took his hat off Doc's head before exiting again. Doc pouted and looked like he might start crying, so I stepped over and pointed to the fish to distract him. "Look at the pretty fish!"
"Fish!" Doc smiled.
"Oh!" Bugs cried out, getting to his feet and opening his empty mouth in pain. "Oh, what a brain freeze!"
"Oh no, now Bugs' brain is frozen?" Doomsday cried worriedly. "What do these Martians want with us?"
"There are no Martians," I assured Doomsday. "Hopefully Sgt. Vinton will be able to get us some information from the license plate number so we can find Minerva and recover Doc's brain!"
Minerva hurried into the inconspicuous industrial building at the edge of town and quickly locked the door behind her. Passing through the plain office in front she walked down a makeshift corridor comprised of temporary wall panels and passed a storage area to the left before entering the large laboratory hidden in the back.
"Did you get it?" the dark, mysterious woman who was waiting in the room asked anxiously.
"Yes, Mother," Minerva answered as she set the case down on a work table in the center of the room.
Professor Athena Veda stepped forward excitedly. "Good girl! I knew I could count on you!"
"But Mother, he wasn't an old man," Minerva reported. "He was young!"
"But you did get the smartest brain you could find?" Athena asked.
"Oh yes, everyone said he was the smartest man in town," Minerva assured her. "But . . . he was only about 20!"
"That's even better," Athena smiled. "All the intellect with none of the memory loss! Now, you know what to do."
Athena sat on a chair beside the table and started to connect the electrodes to her own temple.
"Yes, Mother," Minerva sighed as she switched the wires back to the output. "I recorded his brain just as you said, with the different components on the separate tracks; his intellect, scruples, reasoning . . . " She hesitated a moment. " . . . charm . . . "
"Huh!" Athena scoffed.
"He was charming, Mother," Minerva said. "I heard things when he looked at me."
"All the better that you left him a vegetable then," Athena smirked. "Don't forget what I've told you, Minerva. Men use their 'charm' to manipulate women."
"He seemed nice, though," Minerva sighed.
"Minerva!" Athena scolded sharply. "I'm surprised at you! I've taught you better than that! Men have oppressed women throughout the ages! And what do they use their supposedly superior brains for? To oppress women even more! To start wars! To cause chaos in the world! No, my dear, don't forget our purpose in all this. I can use this additional intellect to bring about positive change in the world!"
"Yes, I know, Mother," Minerva nodded. "You're right."
"Keep your eye on the big picture, my dear," Athena urged gently. "Now . . . transfer his intelligence to me."
"Mother, do you think this is a good idea?" Minerva asked. "I mean, we've never tried to transfer anything into a full mind already."
"It will be fine," Athena assured her.
"How can you be certain?" Minerva asked.
Athena placed a hand on Minerva's arm and insisted, "It will be fine. Now do as you're told."
"Yes, Mother," Minerva agreed, and she turned on the machine and cued up the correct track on the cassette.
Athena sat back in her chair and waited patiently for the transfer to begin. "I'll show them," she said under her breath, too quietly for Minerva to hear. "I'll show all of them!"
It was late afternoon and the Big Bologna was rolling down the street with Bugs at the wheel. I was sitting beside him in the passenger seat. Suddenly there was a loud wail from the back.
"What happened?" I asked, looking around.
"It's okay!" Doomsday assured us. "Mr. Featherstone just scared Dot is all."
Mr. Featherstone had popped up out of his tank, startling Doc, who was now crying.
"It's okay," Doomsday said gently. "Mr. Featherstone is nice. He's just a big fish."
"Fish?" Doc asked.
"Fish!" Doomsday nodded.
"Fish!" Doc said happily, reaching over and pulling on Mr. Featherstone's dorsal fin.
Mr. Featherstone babbled angrily, looking very much like he wanted to take a bite out of Doc's arm.
"No, Mr. Featherstone!" Doomsday scolded. "Don't bite! You have to be patient with Dot. He's like a little kid now."
Mr. Featherstone mumbled with frustration as Doc continued to pull on his fins.
"It should be this apartment building on the right," I said to Bugs.
Bugs pulled the Big Bologna to the curb and parked. We unfastened our seat belts and stood up.
"Doomsday, you stay here with Dot," I instructed. "Bugs and I are going to check on this address Sgt. Vinton found for us."
"Okay," Doomsday said.
Mr. Featherstone, tired of being yanked at, dove down under the water, splashing Doomsday and Doc as he retreated. Doc laughed, clapping his hands.
Bugs and I stepped out of the Big Bologna and walked to the apartment building.
"According to the DMV records, she lives in apartment 110," I said.
We located apartment 110 and I knocked on the door. When there was no answer I knocked again.
After a moment the door of apartment 108 opened and an older man looked out. "Can I help you, boys?" he asked.
"We were looking for Minerva Veda," I explained. "She lives here?"
The man shook his head. "Not for about six months now. She was attending Northeast Southweston University but she dropped out."
"Really?" I asked. "Any idea why?"
"No," the man said. "A shame. She was a bright student from what I could see. Pretty, too. Are you friends of hers?"
"Not exactly," Bugs admitted.
"I didn't think so," the man sighed sadly. "She never had any male callers. Pretty thing like that and no boyfriend . . . it's a shame, that's what it is. But she was just too independent. You know, what d'ya call 'em . . . a feminist. Yeah, a real shame."
"Do you have any idea where she may have gone?" I asked. "It's important that we find her."
"I'm sorry, boys, but I have no idea where she moved to," the man said.
"Well, thanks anyway," I sighed. Bugs and I turned to leave.
"Hold on," the man called after us. "There may be one more place you can try. Her mother worked over at the Krelvin Research Laboratories. Maybe she'd know where Minerva moved to. She was really close with her mother. Fiercely proud of her work. Said she was always being held back by 'The Boy's Club,' whatever that means."
"Thanks, that's very helpful!" I said. "Come on, Bugs."
"Gee," Bugs sighed sarcastically as we returned to the Big Bologna, "So Minerva's a feminist. I never would have guessed that!"
"Yeah, she hides that particular inclination pretty well," I agreed.
We climbed back into the Big Bologna and found Doomsday teaching Dot how to play Paddy Cake.
"Any luck?" Doomsday asked.
"She doesn't live here any more," I reported, buckling myself in, "But we have another lead. Her mother supposedly works over at the Krelvin Research Laboratories."
"Hopefully she's as close to her mother as the old man said," Bugs sighed, starting up the Big Bologna and pulling away from the curb.
Minerva removed the electrodes from her mother's temples and looked at her worriedly. "Mother? Are you okay?"
Athena's eyes were opened wide with wonder. "Such a wealth of knowledge!" she gasped in awe. "It's incredible! I had no idea . . . "
"It worked then?" Minerva asked hopefully.
"Yes," Athena smiled. "Oh yes! It's worked perfectly! If only I'd had this knowledge before! Those chauvinist pigs will be sorry they continually passed me over for recognition!"
"Now you can develop new medicines and make breakthroughs in technology that will better humanity!" Minerva said happily.
"Yes, yes," Athena said absent-mindedly. Her brows then furrowed in concentration. "Only . . . they're going to try to stop us."
"Who?" Minerva asked.
"Those other boys," Athena answered. "The ones from the police station. P.T., Doomsday and Bugs."
"I didn't mention them," Minerva pointed out with surprise. "How do you . . . ?"
"My dear, memories and intelligence are inseparable," Athena explained. "And I know they're going to try to find my brain. Or rather, Doc's brain."
"What can we do?" Minerva asked nervously.
Athena thought for a moment. "Call the television station," she ordered. "Get in touch with that reporter, Kurt Klinsinger. Arrange an interview with him for me tomorrow morning."
"But what will that . . . ?" Minerva began.
"My dear, trust me," Athena smiled wickedly.