Guest Art Courtesy of Mogodore J. Bivouac
Chapter One: "The Boys (And Girls) Are Back In Town"
The old man patiently waited in his office just down the street from the White House in Washington, DC, nervously pacing from the door to the window, with an excellent view of Pennsylvania Avenue. He was a man of action who had little patience, especially when time was a factor.
His pacing stopped as he heard footsteps down the hall get closer. “Dr. Jones, it’s good to see you on such short notice. I hope my telegram conveyed the urgency of this meeting.”
Fred grinned. “Actually, General Donovan, you rescued me from a rather tedious speech and conference. So what’s this meeting about?”
Donovan began to open his mouth, but was interrupted by another presence. “Daphne Blake,” he said in a slightly sardonic tone. “At least you’re showing up to this secret meeting with an invitation.”
“General ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan, head of the OSS,” replied Daphne. “I should have known you were behind the cryptic messenger at my newspaper’s office. You always had a flair for the cloak and dagger.”
Donovan bit his lip, annoyed with the reporter’s comments. “And who are you supposed to be in that outfit – Brenda Starr?”
Fred tried to offer a sympathetic smile for Daphne, but it was harder to tell who was getting the icy stare from the redhead’s gaze. Guess she’s still mad about what happened in Mexico, Fred gulped.
“Are we going to have some kind of meeting or trade insults all afternoon?” Daphne said in an exasperated voice. “You wouldn’t have called us down here if you didn’t need us for something.”
“Shouldn’t we wait for the others?” Fred offered. It did little to soften Daphne’s rising temper.
Donovan waved his hands in frustration. “My sources tell me that Velma’s in Shanghai and Norbert is in Katmandu with that dog of his. Sgt. Payne will fill you in on the details on your way out about where to find them specifically. You’ll pick them up and meet me in Cairo at this British airbase in a week. I assume the little rich girl here got a new plane from her daddy to make up for the Lockheed Vega she lost in Mexico…”
“It was blown up by Nazis, if you’ll remember….”
Fred shook his head as the two snapped at each other. It was hard to tell which was stronger, Donovan’s dislike of journalists or Daphne’s dislike of the American spymaster.
“…as a matter of fact, I can fly my S-42 all by myself!”
“You’ll take Dr. Jones and that’s…”
“…an order? I’m not in your army!”
“Maybe not now, but everyone can see that the United States is going to join this war, whether you like it or not. I might decide to draft you and stick you in Alaska where you can be a real life ice princess!”
Daphne bit her lip and gave her most withering stare, but held her tongue. She spun on her heel and stormed out the door. She cocked her head back as she reached the hallway and said “Well, Dr. Jones, are you coming or not?”
Donovan chuckled and slapped Fred on the back. “Wow, what happened down in Mexico?” he asked in a hushed tone. “Here I thought she fancied you.”
“Uh…long story” said Fred. He took the opportunity to follow Daphne out the door. She gave no indication that he was nearby, and continued to walk quickly down the hall. Donovan picked up his rapidly cooling coffee brought by his secretary before the meeting and wondered what Fred had done to earn the wrath of the reporter.
* * *
The S-42 Flying Clipper seaplane lumbered off the San Francisco runway, bound for Shanghai by way of Honolulu and Manila. The silence which had characterized their trip since leaving Washington, DC had been too much for Fred to bear. Something had to break the ice. He opened the cabin door to the cockpit and saw Daphne busily managing the controls. She pretended to ignore him.
“Uh, Daphne, can we, uh….”
She turned toward him with a sharp glare that nearly sent him back to his seat in the cabin. “What do you want, Dr. Jones? I’m a little busy flying the plane.”
Fred steeled his courage and stood his ground. “I know that, but I figure that, since we have to work together, we should clear the air.”
“What’s to clear?” the reporter/pilot said, turning back to her controls. “You left me tied up with a lecherous Frenchman and those Nazi goons just so you could find the Mayan artifact first.”
Guest Art Courtesy of Mlle. Dinkley
Fred scratched his chin. “I admit that if I had a second chance, I’d do it differently next time, but I was thinking about the mission and the safety of the world.”
“What about my safety?”
“Did they….do anything to you?” Fred asked nervously, hoping they didn’t do anything.
“Well, apart from keeping me bound and gagged for hours, no,” Daphne slowly replied, a little unsure of herself. “But they did scare the daylights out of me!”
Fred resisted the urge to chide the redhead over being a little frightened, when nothing really appeared to happen to her. But he needed her as a partner more than he needed to win the argument. “Listen, I’m really sorry. Can’t we just call a truce so we can work together on this mission?”
Daphne considered his offer. “An armistice, perhaps, just for this mission…” Noting Fred’s smile, she hastily added “…but don’t consider this any sort of permanent peace treaty, though.” Fred dropped his smile. At least he might have her cooperation on this mission. He made a small bow, and returned to the cabin.
* * *
Fred winced as he and Daphne made their way through the streets of Shanghai. Donovan’s information that Sgt. Payne gave them in Washington, DC was all wrong. Velma wasn’t at the Shanghai hotel where he thought she’d be. The streets were filled with Japanese soldiers. They had been searching the surrounding streets for hours without much chance at success.
“Any idea where Velma might be?” asked Fred.
“I don’t know. Maybe somebody kidnapped her or something.”
Always thinking about kidnapping, Fred thought. “Who?”
“Just guessing, okay,” Daphne said in her hot retort. “How should I know? Hey, let’s take a break from looking and duck in here for a drink.”
Fred nodded in agreement, handed a few coins to the bouncer outside the nightclub, and led Daphne inside. A loud Broadway-like production was going on with dozens of Chinese girls with tux tops, fishnet stockings waved red scarves around.
“Classy,” muttered Daphne, frowning at the skimpy dancer outfits.
As the paired off and tugged at the scarves, they formed some sort of canopy. A singer emerged from the stage and moved down the runway. She wore a slinky evening gown, which looked odd when matched with a pair of thick glasses. Fred dropped his drink and Daphne gasped. “No!”
Guest Art Courtesy of Jreb
Velma began singing:
“The world has gone mad today
And good's bad today,
And black's white today,
And day's night today,
When most guys today
That women prize today
Are just silly gigolos
And though I'm not a great romancer
I know that I'm bound to answer
When you propose,
“Did you know she could sing?” inquired Fred, mouth still agape.
“Uh, no!” said Daphne. “But we better get her off the stage. Look!”
Several Japanese soldiers, having seen who was doing the singing, started moving toward her.
“But we’re not at war with Japan!” said Fred, sounding perplexed.
“That doesn’t mean we haven’t imposed an oil embargo on them,” said Daphne.
“And though I'm not a great romancer
I know that I'm bound to answer
When you propose,
Daphne ran up to Velma as the girl reached the end of the runway. “Hey Velma, come with us! You gotta’ get out of here!”
Velma’s eyes widened, but she recovered quickly and jumped from the runway. Fred held the door open for them as the Japanese soldiers wheeled around. A hulking bouncer moved to grab Fred, but a right cross from the archaeologist laid the man out on the bar floor.
The two girls scampered out the door and Fred fired a shot in the air. Most of the Japanese soldiers dove for cover and fumbled for their guns, while a chunk of plaster fell from the ceiling and hit their officer in the head as he drew his sidearm. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Fred ducked out the door and dashed down the street.
Daphne had already flagged down a cab. She held the door open for Velma, who dove inside. Fred ran around the back of the ancient looking sedan and jumped into the shotgun position. But where was the driver?
“Oh my G…it’s just a kid!” Daphne screeched.
“Flim Flam’s the name and driving is my game. Whereya’ goin’?”
“To the airport” Fred stammered, hardly believing that he was telling this to a little kid who could barely see above the steering wheel. But he had to give the kid credit – his shoes had long blocks that enabled him to reach the pedals.
A shot hit the back of the windshield and Fred realized he didn’t have time to argue. The taxi sped away while he fired a parting shot back at the soldiers milling outside the nightclub. He only hoped a little kid with a name like “Flim Flam” wouldn’t cheat him on the fare.
* * *
Knowing the S-42 would never make it to Nepal, the S-42 took a detour around Southeast Asia to Bombay, where Daphne sweet-talked a British officer into the loan of a DH89, capable of making it to the mountainous country. As their new plane hurtled across China towards Nepal, Velma occupied the co-pilot seat while Fred stood behind them, gazing at the impressive snow-capped mountains below them and the clouds that hovered just above.
Guest Art Courtesy of Gillian B
“So what were you doing singing in that nightclub?” Daphne asked, taking a break from reading her gauges.
“Well…” Velma began, trying to avoid Fred’s eyes, “…I got a letter… I mean Fred got a letter from the AAAA, inviting him to hunt for a Chinese tomb. I figured he wouldn’t be interested in it, given his busy schedule. I took the enclosed ticket, but when I got to Shanghai, some thief stole my purse. I was singing a little just to get enough money to stay in a hotel and get some food.”
Fred resisted the urge to berate his colleague over taking his ticket and grant. He instead contented himself with the memory of Velma as a nightclub singer. Too bad he didn’t have a camera.
“What about all those classes back at Hanna College?” Fred asked.
Velma bit her lip, resentful that her colleague would bring this up, when his work was dumped on her lap, so her response was filled with a touch of anger. “I’m not some absent-minded professor. I made arrangements with Professor Hyde-White before I left. The museum curator, Dr. Wickles, is going to cover for us again. And I graded all of your tests and papers in addition to doing all of my coursework. You’re welcome.”
Fred nervously shifted his stance. “Uh, thanks Velma.” Now he had two women who were miffed at him. This trip wasn’t starting off so hot.
Daphne pounced on the lull in the conversation to update Velma on their travel plans. “We’re headed for Katmandu to pick up Shaggy and Scooby…”
Velma whacked her forehead. “Don’t tell me Shaggy chose to do the Yeti for his dissertation research! I told him the Yeti don’t exist! There is no Abominable Snowman! Bigfoot is just a myth! Ahhhh….now he’ll be writing this thing for years. As his advisor…”
Fred took the opportunity to jump into the conversation. “Actually, before I went to the AAAA meeting, I saw Shaggy packing up his research tools. He told me about a hot tip he got from a Tibetan man named Fu Lin Chi about a Snow Ghost that chased him…”
“I don’t care what this man says,” Velma defiantly interrupted. “There’s no such thing as ghosts!”
* * *
The red line indicating their presence threaded its way through the Himalayas between China and India, until it came to rest in Katmandu. Sgt. Payne’s information had been good in this case. The hotel clerk gave them directions to a bar on the edge of town. Fred, Velma and Daphne exchanged nervous glances as they entered the dingy dive. The air was pungent with smoke and the bar was packed. Most were Nepalese or Tibetans, but a few were of mixed nationalities.
“Are you sure we’re in the right place?” Velma began, her nose twitching from the acrid amount of smoke in the air.
“Sure…there’s Shaggy sitting at that table,” Fred observed. “And Scooby is right next to him.”
Shaggy sat at the sturdy wooden table in the center of the bar in a flimsy wooden chair. Across the table sat an Australian with a ruddy complexion and muscles that made him look more like an ox than a man. Fred was lucky to have spotted Shaggy, given that he and the Aussie were surrounded by many of the bar patrons. Several small discarded shot glasses lay between the two, while a fresh one was set before each of the sitting men.
“It’s worse than I thought,” gasped Velma. “Not only is Shaggy chasing a fairytale for his research, but he’s drinking!”
“He’s drinking alright,” Daphne mused. “But I don’t think he’ll get drunk on that. Look!”
Sure enough, Shaggy raised a bottle and poured it into some of it into a shot glass. As the three edged their way towards their friend, Fred read the label out loud “Five Skull Fire Sauce!”
Velma whacked her head. “He’s doing hot sauce shots? I fail to see how this is any better.”
Shaggy nervously eyed the shot glass, then, with one fell swoop, he gulped down the hot sauce. He coughed loudly several times and money began to change hands between the Nepalese, but Shaggy quelled their actions by turning the shot glass upside down and banged it on the table. Several Nepalese, including an old woman, burst into cheers.
The Australian’s eyes widened. He glanced around at all of the discarded shot glasses, then reached for the Five Skull Fire Sauce. After pouring himself a modest amount into his last remaining glass, he raised it up and swallowed it. Beads of sweat began to race down his face. His mouth began to quiver. Then, he exploded into a loud bellow, jumping out of his chair and knocking several thin Nepalese aside like bowling pins. The Aussie didn’t stop until he reached a large pitcher of beer at the bar. But rather than take a hefty swig, he buried his whole head into the giant pitcher. The Nepalese roared with laughter, as the Aussie’s head resembled a giant fish in a bowl. Shaggy picked up a large pile of money while the old woman, having just picked up a few piece of paper currency from a scowling mustachioed man, planted a wet kiss on the gangly graduate student’s cheek.
Shaggy’s grin faded as Velma stood before him, sputtering. “Of all the….I can’t believe my eyes…drinking, gambling, and worst of
all…doing a dissertation on an old fable!”
Shaggy and Scooby slunk their heads. “We had a hot tip from a Tibetan guy about a Snow Ghost that can fly. We were just raising a little money for our research.”
Fred intervened. “No time for arguments, gang. We have a mission to…”
His words stopped in mid-sentence. The door burst open. A burly bearded man burst through the door holding a club, followed by a thin Nepalese man with a long mustache. He held a small pistol. The pair split apart and a man with a trenchcoat and fedora stepped between them. He pointed a machine gun at them. “Herr Jones, you and the women will accompany me and my associates. A plane is waiting to taking you to Berlin where you will stand trial for the murders of Colonel Helmut von Tramp and several members of the Nazi Wehrmacht.”
Daphne whispered “How did they know we’d be here?”
Velma joined their quiet conversation. “Somebody must’ve have tipped them off!”
Fred didn’t know how they found him, but he wasn’t going to leave without a fight. He thought about reaching for his pistol, but the machine gun would probably cut him in half before he could draw it.
Daphne burst into tears. “No, no, no!” she wailed. “I’m too young to die!” She reached into her purse for a handkerchief. As she dabbed her eyes, she winked at Fred, then flung a bottle of Five Skull Fire Sauce at the Nazi. The German roared as the sauce hit his eyes. He repeatedly fired bursts, but his blindness caused him to merely shred the roof with bullets. The crowd screamed and chaos ensued as people rushed for cover behind the bar or stampeded toward the door. Fred drew his gun and fired, hitting the German man in the chest. The Nazi fell on his back and the machine gun ceased to fire.
The Nepalese man overcame his shock at the sight of his leader being gunned down. He fired his pistol at Fred. The bullet missed the blond archaeologist, but knocked the gun from his hand.
The Nepalese man prepared to fire again, but was blocked by his burly companion, who pounced on Fred. The archaeologist struggled, but the giant was too strong for him.
Daphne strode up, balled her fist, and swung with all of her might at the huge man’s face. “Ow!” she yelped, clutching her hand. It was like punching a rock. She caught sight of the remaining bottle of Five Skull Fire Sauce on the table. With her good hand, she picked it up, pausing to frown at Shaggy and Scooby who were hiding under the table. As she returned to the fighting men, she saw the small Nepalese man waiting to get a shot in, while his bigger companion had Fred in a sleeper hold. Dr. Jones began turning purple, gasping for breath. She splashed the contents of the hot sauce bottle into the big man’s face.
He roared in pain and clawed at his eyes, causing him to release his headlock on Fred.
That was all that the famed archaeologist needed. He elbowed the large man in the gut, producing an audible grunt from his foe. Then Fred picked up a nearby chair and crashed it over the giant’s head. The burly bearded man collapsed in a heap on the floor, and did not move.
Fred’s triumph was short lived however. The smaller Nepalese man pointed his pistol at Fred’s chest. A gunshot rang out in the bar. Daphne shrieked. Fred looked down at his chest, but felt no pain and saw no bloodstain on his chest. What had happened? Had the Nepalese man missed? But then the man lowered his gun, staggered toward Fred, then fell forward on his face. A stunned Velma stood there, clutching Fred’s pistol, her mouth wide open.
||Fred stepped over the body of the Nepalese gunman and hugged Velma, who stood still, gaping in shock. “I’ve…I’ve never killed anyone before…”
“Well you picked a good time to start!” chirped Daphne. She returned to the table, grabbed Shaggy’s sweater neckband and Scooby’s collar. “C’mon chickens, let’s get out of here!”
“Well, I guess we’re even for Shanghai” Velma said in a weak voice as Fred edged her to the door.
Guest Art Courtesy of Mogodore J. Bivouac, Mlle. Dinkley,
Jreb, and Gillian B.