Chapter 3

"Am I Mr. E?" Professor Pericles asked. "That depends on your point of view. I'm not the original, but I plan to be the final one holding that role. There is more than one. You have acted as Mr. E yourself (and pretended to be his agent). I suspect two people working together are the original 'Mr. E'. My suspicions are as yet unproved."

"Who are they?" Ed asked.

"My two prime suspects are Angie Dinkley and Angel Dynamite. Look how the names match. The second is a stage name, chosen to fit with the first. A team of two avenging angels."

"Avenging?" asked Ed.

"Yes, because each lost a loved one from the original Mystery Incorporated," Professor Pericles said. "Dinkley is the sister of Brad Chiles. You need only look at her, and at old pictures of him, to see the family resemblance. The freckles, the dimpled chin, and the white streak in the hair. As for Dynamite, she is the younger sister of Cassidy Williams. A picture in the K-GHOUL radio station depicts their fantasy image of themselves as a hunting team. Dynamite is an Amazon with a battle-axe. Dinkley is a tiger, a reference to the stripe in her hair. The fools think highly of themselves, don't they?"

"All right," said Ed. "If I know who they are I can get them out of the way."

"Not so fast," Professor Pericles said. "They're both close to Mystery Incorporated and their premature removal would side-track the investigation."

"You hope they will lead you to the treasure?" Ed asked.

"Ah yes, the lost treasure. That is obviously what motivates you. And myself, though I have deeper long-term goals."

"So we want the same thing. But why do I need you?"

"I'm the smarter one. I plotted my way out of that asylum. You couldn't have done that."

"Some of that was luck. You couldn't have guessed a Fright Hound would come along and help you get out."

"Indeed? The whole Fright Hound business was my doing. I had Officer Johnson, an asylum guard, completely under my hypnotic sway. Every time he came in to feed me and clean my cage my control got deeper. Each time I made him forget I had ever spoken. I even tested my control not long ago by having him tape his taser to his hand without him noticing. I commanded him to investigate single women in town with a background in robotics, and to start dating one."

"Mrs. Wyatt?" Ed asked.

"Yes, and I induced him to bring her to the asylum to show her his work. Once there, I worked on her weaknesses. She was a single mother devoted to her son, angry that he was snubbed by a girl he had a crush on. I made her see how ideal it would be to frame the dog belonging to that girl's group of friends and have it imprisoned there. It lead to the escape opportunity I'd been seeking for years – a hole in the outer wall, coupled with my release from my cell by Officer Johnson," said Professor Pericles.

"That was pretty ingenious," Ed said.

"It was pure genius," said Professor Pericles. "I have more schemes like that in the works. But I will require your assistance, now that Officer Johnson is no more use to me."

"You'll be my sidekick, like you were in the old days with Mystery Inc.?" Ed asked.

Professor Pericles gave Ed's leg an angry swipe with his claw, drawing blood. "I'm nobody's sidekick! You'll be my sidekick and messenger boy."

"I don't see why I should go along with that!" said Ed.

"Don't you? I also helped Grandma Moonbeam with her cicada-control equipment, just in order to bring you to this place. Manipulation of minds, big and small, is my specialty. And that means..."

Professor Pericles lifted a small dial in one claw, and adjusted it with his beak. From outside in every direction came the whirring sound of cicada wings.

"No... no... please," said Ed Machine, dropping to his knees.

"All right then, you're my sidekick," said Professor Pericles. "Though I think I prefer the term... pet."

The End