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Maxwell Smart, Public Enemy #1

                            Prologue

The man fell dead from a gunshot wound to his heart. Maxwell Smart stood over the body, making sure the criminal was absolutely dead before attempting to remove any piece of identification from him. He nudged the man with his left foot, and after seeing no response, Max carefully bent down and took the pack of papers tied with a string from the dead man's jacket pocket. These his slid into his own side pocket and put his gun back in the holster. That's when he let out the breath he'd been holding for what seemed like an eternity. This was the messy part of the job that he did not enjoy at all. Taking a life, even if that life belonged to an enemy, was wrong, and Max hated to do it. When it was all over it had to be done, but the actual killing made him sick to his stomach.

Looking at his victim once more and seeing the still warm blood gush out of the dead man's wound made Max's stomach lurch. He stumbled backwards, vomited into an empty barrel, got his bearings, and started to sneak out of the building. He'd completed his mission. He would get to go home to his family tonight while his victim never would. Max fought down the rising bile in his throat and concentrated on getting back to headquarters. A soft, rumbling laugh stopped him dead in his tracks. Max swiveled around with his gun bared, but he could not see the source. The laugh died away and a lone shadow of a man reflected on the ceiling.

“Hello, Mr. Smart.”

“Who's that?” Max shouted, trying hard to keep his voice from quavering.

“Are you palms sweating, Mr. Smart? Are your knees shaking? I can see you but you can't see me. Does that frighten you?”

“Who are you?” Max bellowed again, turning around slowly and scanning the dark room for any movement. “If you don't tell me who you are, I'll shoot!”

The slow, controlled laugh sounded again and the stranger continued in his velvety soft voice, “How interesting. Shooting at something you can't see. Hoping, aimlessly, that you will hit flesh and strike down my living being, for what? For your safety? Self preservation, Mr. Smart, is a fascinating thing, wouldn't you agree?”

“Look, I've had just about enough of this,” Max said in his best secret agent voice. “If you refuse to cooperate with me, I'll be forced to call for back-up!”

“With what? I see no communication device, Mr. Smart,” the voice continued in an eerily calm way.

“That's where you're wrong!” Max proclaimed proudly, feeling for his two way communicator cuff links, “You see, I--“ He stopped short when he felt only his cuffs and no links. He searched his pockets frantically for the precious links, but came up empty handed.

“Well, this is certainly interesting, isn't it? It seems you do not have your communicator. Ingenious, making them out of cuff links, but blatantly stupid wearing them in the dark heat of battle, where someone can so easily slip them off without you noticing.” Max heard two metal things hit the concrete floor, making a loud clanging sound that disturbed him. He stepped into the light and saw his cuff links, smashed and melted down. They were useless now. “I watched with much interest from my lofty perch. You are a warrior, Mr. Smart. I will give you that.”

“What do you want?” Max wailed, quite alarmed by this time and kneeling down to keep from fainting.

“Don't worry, Mr. Smart. I have no intention of harming you. Then again I have no intention of helping you,” the voice resonated fully in the large building. “I saw how you murdered this man.”

“I did not murder him! He was the enemy and I did my job,” Max explained dutifully. The voice laughed again, so softly that Max almost didn't hear him.

“Murder is all in the eye of the beholder. Everything is relative. That I have learned. I, too, have murdered and called it my job, but no one seemed to see it that way. Your job lets you take a life all in the name of good. Fascinating. I wish I could have been so lucky, but alas, lady luck seems to have it in for me. Mr. Smart, I offer you an agreement, one that can work to both of our benefits. Tomorrow you will be called into your chief's office where he will give you a new assignment…to find me. I have finally escaped, you see. But only because I felt I was ready. I could have done it any time I wished but only now do I feel I can restrain myself from my old habits.”

“And what habits might those be?” Max asked, not really wanting to hear the answer.

“Horrible, gruesome, violent, inhumane murders, Mr. Smart. Any of which will keep me locked in the dungeons of hell for all eternity. But I've learned now. If I want my freedom I cannot have my trademark hobby. You always have to give something up to gain something else. That is just the way the balance works. You cannot imagine the kind of life I have been leading for the past seventeen years. Locked in a small dark room, with only table scraps for food and only a hole for a toilet. These are your state institutions, Mr. Smart. Are you proud of your democracy now? They, more than anyone, have created what I am. I am entirely serious when I say I would sooner die that lose my freedom again. And I'm willing to keep that freedom at any price. Any price at all.”

“What are you getting at?” Max said, barely above a hoarse whisper.

“I have a proposition for you. You stay away from me and I will stay away from you. My murdering days are over as long as I am not convincingly hunted after. However, if you chose to come after me, you can expect more than a fight.”

“What are you gonna do? Murder me? My family?”

“No, no. That solves nothing.” Max almost breathed a sigh of relief until he heard the voice say, “I have a much worse punishment. The media, and large groups of people in particular, are exceedingly dangerous. I also happen to be good at most things. I can convince anyone of anything, and I don't even have to be present to do it. If, Mr. Smart, you lead a hunt against me, I will give you warnings. First time, I will release the incriminating pictures of you murdering the dead man before you.”

“But it's my duty!”

“It may be, but as I said, I can convince anyone of anything. One minute you will be a sly, cunning secret agent…the next, you will be a raving lunatic who takes advantage of his license to kill and murders anyone he sees fit. The second warning will be riots of people lead by ideas from yours truly. Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups, Mr. Smart. Stupid people who only believe what they see on television and what somebody tells them. These ignorant citizens threaten their congressman with not getting re-elected if he does not heed to their wants. And their wants will be to see Maxwell Smart in the electric chair for first degree murder. Simply killing you just wouldn't be fun, Mr. Smart. I want to see you humiliated and degraded, and for generations your family will have your grave misfortune on their heads. If I just murdered you, you would be regarded as a hero who was struck down in the line of duty. No, no. This is much more entertaining. The third and final part of my plan will be to have fake witnesses, fake photos, fake news footage, I have access to it all! That will seal your fate!”

“How can I avoid all this?” Max gulped.

“It's quite simple. Stay away from me!” the voice boomed with so much force it startled Max down to the floor. There was a deathly moment of silence after that, until the voice continued in a calm, soft, dangerous voice, “I want my freedom. I have earned it, even if my deeds speak otherwise. Refuse to take the case your chief gives you. If you don't…you shall be very sorry,” he finished off threateningly, his voice fading into the distance.

Max sat on the floor for minutes afterward, breathing hard and trying to decide whether what just happened was real or not. He swallowed hard and shakily made his way back to his car. On the way he thought if such a scam was possible; Control took care of their agents and stuck up for them when need be. In fact, they tried to keep most things secret, especially if it was something that could erupt the nation in turmoil. That was their job, anyway. Max smirked and cockily thought to himself that he could track down the psycho if he wanted to, no smooth talking invisible man was going to keep him from doing his job!

Something stuck under his car's windshield wiper flickered in the wind, catching Max's eye. He pulled it out for a closer looked and nearly gasped at what he saw. It was a picture of he and Fastblade Kinkaid, the man he'd just killed minutes before, only from the way the picture was taken it looked like Max was brutally murdering Fastblade. Fastblade was crouched on the ground without a weapon while Max, wielding the butt of his gun, appeared to be striking him ferociously in the head. At the bottom of the picture in perfect carsif print read, “The Beginning…” It didn't take a genius to see what this picture could erupt into if blown completely out of proportion by the press.

Max quickly took out his lighter and burned the picture until it was nothing but ashes. He felt better but still upset. Max got in his car and drove home.

1.

“I'm telling you, 99, it wasn't a dream!” Max exclaimed to his wife later on that evening at home. He was lying on the couch in the living room and had been for over an hour. “He was real! He saw me and was threatening me!” 99 put a damp washcloth on his forehead and sat down at the end of the couch.

“Max, I'm sure the stress from having to shoot Kinkaid was what made you hear someone,” she said softly. “It's not uncommon in our line of work.”

“I know what I heard,” he protested beneath his breath. “I wasn't imagining things! Why don't you believe me?”

“Oh honey, I do believe you. I believe you thought you heard someone blackmailing you, but face it Max, who would have known about your raid tonight? And you have to admit it, this case has had you worked up for weeks! It was the release of all that stress that made you believe you were talking to someone,” 99 explained for what seemed like the hundredth time that night.

“But I'm not cracking up, 99! He was real, the psycho was real!”

99 sighed quietly and rubbed her forehead. Agreeing would be easier than arguing when he was like this. “Ok, Max,” she said in sort of a yeah, right tone.

Max stood up defiantly and threw the washcloth back down on the couch. “I refuse to sleep in the same house with someone who doesn't believe my outrageous, far-fetched tale! I'm sleeping in the car!” He marched over to the door, threw it open, took one look at the fierce snowstorm that was going on, and turned back to his wife. “Ok, I'll sleep in the same house, but I won't like it!”

99 stood up and took the damp washcloth from the sofa, lest it leave a stain. “Why don't you get some rest, dear?” she suggested. “You'll feel better tomorrow.”

Although he didn't want to admit to being tired, Max was exhausted and fought back a yawn. “I might as well. I have a big day tomorrow, what with fending off a ferocious psycho killer blackmailer and all. Good night, 99.”

Once he was upstairs, 99 breathed a sigh of relief. Sometimes Max could be too much, even for her. His stories of mysterious encounters with even more mysterious people were tiring; she had learned just to let him believe the stories and move on. But tonight's story worried her somewhat…she had heard of agents “losing it” after one too many dangerous missions, but she never figured it could happen to someone like Max. She figured he just didn't have enough brain matter to lose any of it. The fact that he seemed so set on something that probably didn't happen made 99 wonder if a trip to the Control psychiatrist wasn't in order. She fought back the thought of Max becoming another mental case and instead tried to concentrate on the house chores she hadn't done yet.

Dishes were waiting to be put away in the kitchen. She couldn't keep her mind on the task, but mindlessly started putting the plates away. She went over the facts she knew; Fastblade and Max had been on good terms up until about two weeks ago, when Max found out that Fastblade was a double agent. Going after him and ultimately having to kill him probably upset Max more than he was leading on. A good friend in the agent business was hard to find. He had been a wreck all during the mission, often times not coming home until four or five in the morning and getting up to go to work at seven. He had been easy to set off in this time period but that was really nothing new. Anyone would be irritable if they knew they had to kill their own friend in order to save national security. But a nagging feeling in the back of 99's head told her this had been different. Maybe Max was getting to the point in his career where he'd seen one too many murders, had to pull one too many dangerous missions, or something else.

And now this. It was improbable what he was telling her; sure, she'd heard of agents getting death threats before (she'd gotten a couple herself), but someone threatening blackmail was unlikely. If someone wanted an agent dead they would just kill him or her, they wouldn't wait for the state to do it. She finally concluded that Max was tired and needed a vacation. That was it. Case closed.


2.

Maxwell Smart was the man of the hour. A successful mission was always cause for celebration, but bringing down a double agent was an even bigger deal. Max strolled confidently through the halls of Control on the way to the Chief's office the next morning. He had to admit he did feel better after the first good night's sleep he'd had in over two weeks. The encounter with the psycho faded more and more every minute until Max almost forgot about it completely. Until he got to Benjamin's office, that is.

“Good morning, 86!” Benjamin greeted Max enthusiastically like he always did. Max shook his hand politely and sat down the chair farthest away from Benjamin. Benjamin took his seat behind his desk and smiled widely. “Congratulations on the Kinkaid case, Max. It was a job well done.”

“Thanks, but I don't feel too much like celebrating. Fastblade was my pal. I hated having to shoot him, enemy agent or not. It felt horrible,” Max said. Benjamin nodded sympathetically.

“I, too, liked Kinkaid. He was a good man…but obviously not as good a man as we thought, if he was working for Kaos.”

“All part of the job description, I guess,” Max rationalized, putting his face in his hand.

Benjamin was silent a moment, then pulled a file out of his desk. “Max, have you ever heard of Dr. Malachi Von Malcolm?”

“No.”

Benjamin slid the folder over to Max, who opened it and found himself staring into the stony expression of a man with black hair and black eyes. It startled him somewhat until he realized it was only a photo, but even then he was shaken. “That's him. He was a psychology professor at Boston University. He was a genius to say the least, but he was always a bit…um, unstable. In 1967 three students in one of his classes failed the semester. He told them to stay after class, and when they were alone with him, he brutally murdered all of them. When the police found the bodies they were all sitting at their respective desks, with their textbooks open and pencils in their hand. Dr. Von Malcolm was found sitting calmly in his office, listening to Mozart, drinking tea and reading Dante. He explained to the police that if his students could not pass the class in life, maybe they would be able to in the afterlife. He was tested, and after being proclaimed legally insane, put in an asylum for 17 years. But his story doesn't end there. He was responsible for 14 more deaths inside the asylum, but he never left his cell.”

Max looked up and frowned. “How could he kill anyone without getting out of his cell first?”

“Dr. Von Malcolm was famous for his linguistic skills. He could convince anyone of anything. He was well versed and had a soothing, cool speaking voice.” Max froze. “He somehow convinced the other prisoners to commit suicide. How, they are still not sure, but he's killed his guard and escaped, and we have to find him.”

“Why us? We don't handle escapees. That's the FBI's job,” Max said weakly, unable to move.

Benjamin sighed. “Yeah, I know, but they're full up with jobs right now. Apparently some huge drug bust or something. But anyway, we've been asked by the President himself to find Von Malcolm. He's dangerous, very dangerous, and needs to be brought down using spy work. He cannot know we're after him. This job requires the utmost expertise and stealth.” Benjamin beamed. “That's why I'm giving it to you.”

Max's palms went clammy and his mouth went dry. “I…I don't think so. I'm not going to do it.”

Benjamin's face fell. “Why not?” he demanded.

Max gulped. “Something about it just doesn't feel right.”

“Max, you just said shooting your friend didn't feel right, but you did it. How is this any different?”

“It…it just is,” Max stuttered. He sighed. “Benjamin, I gotta admit to you, I don't like you too much. But I have to tell you something in complete confidence.”

Benjamin shifted in his seat, surprised at Max's openness. “Ok, Max. Go on.”

“Last night, after I shot Kinkaid, I was just about to leave when I heard someone laughing. I turned around and no one was there, but I saw the shadow of a man. He wouldn't tell me who he was but he said he had escaped from a state institution and he had murdered people. He said if I went after him he would make me public enemy number one! He had taken pictures of me, incriminating pictures taken from such an angle that it looked like I had murdered Kinkaid in cold blood! If I do this mission I'll end up in prison for abusing my license to kill!”

Benjamin eyed Max. “So where's the picture now?”

“I, uh, kinda burned it,” Max said, turning red. “But it was real! The whole thing was real!”

Benjamin sat back in his chair and thought about what Max had said. It was a highly unlikely story; it sounded like a fib that someone would make up if they didn't want to do something. It was true Benjamin had heard around the office that spy life was finally taking its toll on Maxwell Smart and that he was cracking up…maybe this is what they were talking about? Benjamin shook his head. “Max, I have to admit to you, I find myself not believing your story.”

“What?!” Max cried.

“I understand you not wanting to go after a criminal of this caliber, one that's so ruthless and violent. But it is your job, and I don't appreciate you making up stories to get out of it.”

“I'm not making this up! I know it sounds unbelievable but it's true! This is the guy who threatened to blackmail me!” Max said, waving the file in front of Benjamin.

“How do you know?”

“Put two and two together, Einstein. A psycho finds me and threatens me. The next day I get an assignment to track down a psycho. Call it a hunch.”

“Max, I really don't care what you call it. I'm assigning you to this case and that's an order.” Benjamin stood up. “You're dismissed.”

Max realized he didn't really have any choice and left Benjamin's office in a hurry.


3.

Max immediately went down to the criminal library with the intention of studying about Von Malcolm, but found himself instead weighing his options. If he decided to hunt after this criminal, he left himself open to a very dangerous situation. However, if he didn't go after this man, he could kill again.

He got up and wandered over to the periodical section to see if he could find any more information on his new mission. He found a Washington Post dated March 2nd, 1967 with a headline screaming PSYCHO PROFFESOR MURDERS THREE STUDENTS; FEELS NO REMOARSE. Max sat down and read the article.

“Washington DC
March 2nd, 1967

It is not often that we come upon a teacher who does not care for his students. However, it is even more uncommon when we run across one that feels so much hate that he is inclined to kill. But that is the case today as the nation mourns the brutal murder of three college students from Boston University, where they were found this morning. Their murderer was a psychology professor named Dr. Malachi Von Malcolm. From what we can gather, the professor was unstable in the mind. `Yeah, he was insane,' reports one of his students, Sarah Holden. `I remember one time this guy came in late, and Von Malcolm like, made him cry. He kept asking him questions that he couldn't answer and it drove the guy crazy or something.' That was the feeling of the campus this gray morning; a man too long ignored and only considered strange, never dangerous.

`Von Malcolm was born in New York City in 1932. From the very beginning of life he was a child prodigy. At the tender age of 6 he was playing Beethoven flawlessly on the family piano. By age 10 he had won numerous art awards and by age 12 he had entered high school. He carried straight A's throughout his entire schooling, which eventually took him to universities like Harvard and Yale. His interest in psychology was fueled by events in the media that ran to the bizarre. A family friend reports Von Malcolm's fascination with the Salem Witch Trials and the like. At age 25 he was an accredited medical doctor and psychologist, a first for one so young. At age 26 he became the youngest ever psychology professor at Boston University, while in his spare time he created beautiful works of art, poetry, and moving music compositions. Any of these are readily accessible and were rather popular. He was a certified genius and `…seemed to carry the air of a man who had lived for a thousand years and would for a thousand more' reported an acquaintance. When asked how he treated his students, the students answered, `He was a good guy. Maybe a little weird but we didn't think he'd kill anyone', said Henry Wiggin, a first year student. `He helped me a lot with my studies. He was a big inspiration…he could make you want to learn without feeling stupid', one Betsy Lomax reported. So what went wrong?

`When I found him, he was sitting in his office, not more than twenty feet away from the mangled bodies of his students. He was sitting behind his desk, drinking tea, listening to Mozart and reading Dante's The Inferno. I asked him what the hell had happened, and he said `They couldn't pass in this life. Better luck next time, huh?' Kent Hobbes, Chief of Police, stated on Wednesday.

A trial will be held today to decide the fate of this horrendous murderer. We want our readers to know that the Post will keep you informed as events warrant.”

Max looked up at the wall, wondering why of all the guys he had to track down, he had to track down an evil genius. He became lost in his thoughts and didn't notice a dark haired man slide into the aisle next to him.

“Good morning, Mr. Smart,” came the familiar cool voice on the other side of the bookcase. Max jumped. “Don't move. You don't want to draw attention to yourself, do you?”

“Von Malcolm!” Max whispered fiercely. “How did you know I was here?”

“Call it a wild guess. I just came to remind you of our agreement. Obviously you've read or at least been told of my history, and have a better idea of what you're dealing with, am I correct?”

“You're a monster, murdering your students like that. And the other patients at the asylum.”

“A bunch of nutcases. I merely put them out of their misery. As for the students, I also did them a favor. They had nothing to offer the world.”

The librarian looked over and was surprised to find Max seemingly talking to a bookcase with some intensity. Concerned for the other patron's safety, she dialed the DC Police.

“That's no excuse! And we have no agreement! It's my job to put you back where you belong--in the nuthouse!” Max shot at him.

“Oh, now, Mr. Smart, I thought we went over this. You'll have to kill me before you can put me in a straight jacket again. I'm much better than that.”

“Better than that? It's too good for you!”

“Mr. Smart, nobody believed you, did they? They all think you're going insane, just like what happened to me. They all think I'm insane. See? We're not so different.”

I've never killed anyone!”

“What about ol' Fastblade?”

“I told you, that was my duty!  I meant I never killed anyone I didn't have to!”

“Well Mr. Smart, this has been enthralling, but I'm afraid I must leave. But I did have to warn you again, because I always follow through on threats. Ta!”

Max waited a moment, then ran to the other side of the bookcase only to find nothing. He sighed in frustration, turned around, and met the gaze of a police officer.

“Will you come with me, sir?” the officer said. Max pulled back.

“Why?”

“We got a call from someone here saying that you've been talking to this bookcase. Are you feeling all right, sir?”

“Wha…? No, no, there was someone behind the bookcase that I was talking to. I wasn't talking to the bookcase.”

“Well sir, I don't see anyone now. Are you sure you're feeling all right?”

“Yes, I'm fine. I'm telling you, someone was here, he just left!”

“Why didn't you talk face to face?”

“Because he was a criminal! He would have killed me! He's the one I'm after and he's after me!”

“What?”

Max sighed. “Look, why doesn't this make sense to you? The murderer was behind the bookcase, so I was talking to him because he had been threatening me. Now I've got to go out and catch him.”

The officer raised an eyebrow. “Are you on any type of medication?”

“I'm not crazy. I'm sure if you knew the whole story it would make more sense.”

“Why don't you tell it to me while I drive you down to the station? In fact, there's some nice men in white who'd like to hear all about it,” the officer said calmly, trying to take Max by the arm. “Now, just come with me--“

“No! I'm not crazy, I'm not making this up!”

“Please don't get violent. If we do this calmly and quietly, no one will get hurt. Now, what is your occupation, sir?”

“I'm a secret agent.”

The officer tugged at his cap; why did he always get the weird ones? “A secret agent, huh? Well, why don't you come with me? We'll take a ride in the Batmobile and I'll take you out to lunch with James Bond. He's waiting for you outside.”

“Don't patronize me! I'm telling the truth! Here, I'll let you call my work, using my phone!” Max said, taking off his shoe and showing the officer. “See? Only secret agents have this type of thing!” He attempted to yank the sole off but it wouldn't budge. Max suddenly realized these were the wrong pair of shoes and smiled meekly. “I guess you'll be driving, huh?”


4.


“Oh Max! Thank goodness!” 99 cried in relief when she came down to the police station to release her husband. Max sat in a chair in the back of the room, scowling. He'd been there for an hour and a half and had retold his story about nine times to different people. 99 rushed to the officer behind the desk. “This is my husband,” she said, motioning to Max.

The officer took one look at Max, then looked back up at 99. “Then I'm sorry.” 99 rolled her eyes, having heard that more than once during her marriage.

“Look, can we leave now? He has a rather important task to complete,” she sniffed. The officer shrugged helplessly.

“Well, I suppose. We caught him in the public library talking to a bookcase. When we asked him what he was doing, he said he was talking to some murderer, and when we asked him what he did for a living he told us he was a secret agent.”

The second part made sense, but the first part baffled 99. She nodded slowly. “Ok, I'll look into it.”

“See that you do,” the officer said, rather firmly. “We've got enough psychos in this town…the last thing we need is some guy talking to bookcases. If I were you, lady, I'd get my husband to a psychiatrist. And fast.”

99 nodded again. “Ok, ok, I said I'd look into it. But we really have to be going,” she told him, grabbing Max. Max gave the officer sort of a so there! look and walked out with 99. As soon as they were in the parking lot Max breathed a sigh of relief.

“That was a close one. They all think I'm crazy!” Max laughed. 99 remained serious and opened the car door for Max.

“Max, get in. We're going to go see someone who can help you,” she said rather sadly. Max looked at her strangely.

“'Help me'?”

99 rested her hand on the roof of the car and looked Max in the eye. “Max, Benjamin has recommended that you go speak to the Control psychiatrist. I didn't want you too, but this--“ she gestured towards the police department “--told me otherwise.”

Max looked offended. “You mean you don't believe me? Not about anything? Not about Von Malcolm or the fact that he was in that library?” 99 shrugged carefully.

“I don't know what to believe, but I think…I think you've been working too hard, and Dr. Watterson can help you sort out these things that are making you believe something that's not real.”

“But it is real!”

“The fact that you keep believing in something that's so outrageous is not going to help you, Max! Just get in,” she urged. Max sighed softly and did as he was told. 99 started the car and began to drive back to headquarters. “It's really nothing new Max. I mean, an agent…losing touch with reality. We see so many things that other people would find unbelievable. We see murders, set-ups, raids, and worse. We endure torture and barbaric tactics just for the information we know. A person can only take so much of that before they…they…”

“Lose it?”

“Well…yes…lose it.”

“Do you think I've lost it?” Max looked mournfully over at his wife, who refused to look back at him. She didn't say anything for a moment.

“I just think…you need to talk to someone about it,” she said cautiously. Max didn't say anything but sat back in his seat, silently fuming. He didn't doubt his sanity for one second, and he didn't doubt his encounter with Von Malcolm, either. He had to admit that maybe it sounded a little far-fetched, but it was the truth, and certainly not the strangest thing that had ever happened to him.

They were silent for the rest of the drive. Once they reached headquarters, they both got out and went inside without a word. Max knew where the psychiatric office was from years of taking other agents to see Dr. Watterson. He regretted not believing any of their outrageous stories now that he had one of his own. The secretary, without a word, escorted them into Dr. Watterson's office.

Dr. Watterson was fairly new at Control, though he had been a psychiatrist for many years prior to that. He was in his early sixties and kept his office looking as a doctor's office should; lots of books and cherry wood bookshelves. He had handled hundreds of cases of Control agents seemingly going insane, which is why he was recommended for the job when an irate patient killed the old psychiatrist. As he looked over Maxwell Smart's file, he couldn't help but wonder why the man hadn't come to visit him before now.

“Mr. Smart, I presume?” Dr. Watterson said cheerfully to Max, shaking his hand. Max nodded but did not smile. He took a seat across from Watterson while 99 stood in the back of the room. “And this is your wife?” Watterson asked, pointing to 99. Max nodded weakly. Watterson sat down behind his desk and took a legal pad from one of the drawers. “Now Maxwell, I'd just like to ask you a few questions. What are you thinking right now?”

“You can call me Max. Everyone else does.”

“Hm, interesting. You're thinking about manners,” the doctor said, putting it down on his pad. “Now, let me be more specific, why do you think you're here?”

“Everyone thinks I'm crazy,” Max said miserably.

“Do you think your crazy?”

Max got an indignant look on his face. “No, I'm not. I know what I saw!”

“And what did you see?”

“Von Malcolm.”

“Ah, so your vision has a name. Interesting.”

“It wasn't a vision. It was real. He threatened me, right after I killed Fastblade.”

“Why did you kill Fastblade?”

“I had to. He would have killed me if I didn't kill him. Plus, he was a double agent working for Kaos. I really had no choice.”

“And how did you feel while killing Fastblade?”

“I felt awful. Fastblade and I were pals!”

“So having to kill him was very upsetting to you?”

“Yes, very.”

“And when did you see this… `Von Malcolm'?”

“Right after I shot Fastblade. I was leaving when I heard Von Malcolm laughing.”

“And he spoke to you? What did he say?”

“He said I shouldn't come after him.”

Watterson sighed and looked at Max. “Max, I'd like to ask you some more questions. Is that all right?”

“Sure.”

“How would you describe your marriage?”

“What?”

“Often times mental problems can stem from problems you may be having at home. Tell me, is your home life satisfying?”

“I guess.”

“What do you mean, `I guess'?”

“Well, it ain't exactly peace and quiet all the time. I mean I got two teenagers in the house.”

“So your children bother you?”

“No.”

“Do you like peace and quiet?”

“Sometimes.”

“Do your children make you angry?”

“Only when they do something wrong.”

“And what do they do when they do something wrong?”

“Avery rigged a firework to a gallon of red paint and it exploded in the boy's bathroom at school a week or so ago. Blew off three stall doors and melted the walls. You tell me if that wouldn't make you angry.”

Watterson remained serious. “What do you want to do when they do something wrong?”

Max shrugged. “Punish them, I guess.”

“And how do you punish them?”

“Grouding seems to work the best.”

“Do you feel powerful when you punish?”

“What kind of a question is that?” Max demanded, rising out of his seat. “Didn't you ever ground your kids?”

“Yes, but-“

“So how is that any different from me? Suddenly I'm crazy because I ground my kids?”

“Let's move on, shall we?” Watterson said, flipping through his notes. “How long have you been with Control, Max?”

“Nearly twenty years!” Max stated proudly.

“And in that time, you've probably seen some disturbing stuff, haven't you?”

“Sure, but all agents have.”

“How do gruesome things affect you?”

“It's part of my job. I put it behind me after work hours.”

“So you don't think about work after hours?”

“No. It'd drive me crazy.” Max clamped his hand over his mouth. “Don't make that into something it's not.”

Watterson put his pencil down. “Well Max, thank you for talking to me today. You can wait out in the lobby if you'd like. I want to speak to your wife.”

“Did I pass?” Max whispered to Watterson.

“Do you think you passed?”

“Hey, you know, I think you're the nut, asking me all these weird questions!” Max exclaimed. 99 tugged on his arm.

“Come on, Max. Go wait outside. I'll be there in a minute,” she whispered to him. Max, although hesitant, did as he was told and retreated to the lobby. Once he was out of the room, 99 sat down in the chair and looked hopefully at Watterson. “Well?”

“Neurotic. When he killed his friend something snapped inside of him and he became disturbed. The man he envisioned was actually his subconscious pleading with him not to do another case. When the `Von Malcolm' told him if Max tried to track him down he would do something horrible, it was Max's mind's way of telling him not to do any more work. Only by scaring him could it keep it from happening again. What tipped me off was the fact that the vision occurred right after Max killed his friend. All the years of this gory work has finally taken it's toll, Mrs. Smart, and I'm recommending he put dismissed from Control.”

99 gasped before she could stop herself. “I really don't think it's as bad as that, do you? I mean, couldn't he take some medicine or something?” She leaned across the desk and took the doctor's hand. “His job is his life. He'd be worse off if he lost his job than if he kept it. Please, please I'm begging you! Prescribe some medicine for Max, please don't take his job away!”

Seeing the pleading look in the lady's eye, Watterson consented. “All right. We'll see how it goes. There's a new medicine called Ambrosin. I'll give him a one month's supply and we'll see how it goes, ok?”

99 sighed in relief. “Thank you. Thank you,” she said, taking the prescription slip from the doctor.


5.


Max sat out on the back deck of his house alone and thinking for most of the evening. Even his wife thought he was insane which hurt his feelings pretty bad. He was trapped between a rock and a hard place. Going after Von Malcolm would mean humiliation from the press and possibly getting fired for abuse of power. Not taking the case would also get him into some trouble and further arouse suspicions that he had lost it. He moaned in frustration for what seemed like the thousandth time that night--no many how many times he went over it, it never got any easier.

But he had to make a decision tonight. The pill 99 had given him was helping him to think clearly, but unfortunately, this was one case that was hard to keep your mind focused on. There were so many nooks and crannies that had to be considered when thinking about a case like this. A quick, jabbing pain in his chest distracted him for a moment, but he ignored it and went back to the case. He tried to focus on where Von Malcolm might be. His conscience told him Von Malcolm had gone back home to Boston to tie up some loose ends and possibly get some money. Max nodded. That made sense. He should try there.

Or should he try at all? Perhaps those threats were idle and didn't mean anything. No, no, Dr. Von Malcolm didn't seem like the type of man who would make empty threats. How would Max deny those charges if they were brought against him? Those were serious actions and had even more serious consequences. Max sighed--why him?

After hours of deliberation, Max decided to take the case. He would risk whatever Von Malcolm had in store for him and instead do what he felt was right. Max stood up and walked into the house; here went nothing.

6.

The next morning Max was on a flight to Boston. He slept through most of it; Ambrosin made him dizzy in car rides or in flight. He kept having those little sharp pains in his chest but he attributed that to the stress he was under. The plane landed and Max was off to his first destination--Boston University.

He figured he'd talk to some people who knew Dr. Von Malcolm well enough to know if he would follow through with threats. This was the thought that was weighing most heavily on his mind and therefore needed to be relieved of it. Looking off a list of names he'd complied, Max came to room 708, home of Professor Caitlin Peterson.

He knocked on the side of the door and a middle aged lady looked up from her desk. “Oh, come in!” she called cheerfully. Max entered.

“Hi there, Professor Peterson, I'm Maxwell Smart, I just wanted to talk to you a little bit about Dr. Malachi Von Malcolm,” Max explained. Caitlin took her glasses off in shock.

“Dr. Von Malcolm? Why would you want to know about him?”

“Well, he's escaped from the asylum and I'm trying to find him. I just need to know a little more about him.”

“Come in, sit down,” Caitlin invited, getting up from her desk. Max walked across the huge room and sat down in a faded, old wooden chair. Caitlin did the same. “What do you want to know about Malachi?”

“You call him Malachi. Were you two on a first name basis?”

“Oh, yes. I was probably closer to him than anyone else here. We used to go to the opera and the symphony together. He did love the arts.”

“Did you have any idea about how dangerous he was?”

“He was dangerous, but never in the way that I thought he'd kill someone. He hated it when students didn't pay attention or they were late, but I never thought it would escalate into something like killing his students. For the most part he liked his students; young minds interested him.”

“And why's that?”

“A fresh outlook, I suppose. He didn't like adults for the most part.”

“Then why did he like you?”

“Because I don't particularly care for adults either. Misery loves company. He was a good man. He was civil and intelligent.”

“Did he ever make threats?”

“Um…not that I know of.”

“If he did, would he carry them out?”

“Probably. He was a man of his word,” Caitlin said dreamily. “I do wish he hadn't done a dumb thing like murdering those kids. I was getting rather fond of him.” Suddenly the phone on the desk rang. Caitlin jumped. “I'll get it. Hello?”

Another sharp pain glued Max to the seat. He pushed the pain back. Caitlin handed the phone to Max.

“It's for you…” she said in a confused tone. Max took the receiver.

“Hello?”

“Mr. Smart, so good to talk to you again,” came the unmistakable composed voice. “I see you've taken the liberty of visiting dear Caitlin.”

Max gulped but remained calm. “How did you know I was here?”

“Who is it?” Caitlin whispered. Max mouthed the words `Von Malcolm' and she gasped.

“She was always such a nice girl. And I think she liked me. That's always a plus. I suppose you're wondering why I called. Naughty, naughty, Mr. Smart. I warned you against trying to find me. Rather clever, looking in Boston, although I am much farther away. By the way…your wife says hello.”

Max shot up out of his seat. “99? What have you done with her? Where is she?”

“Why don't you come home and see? I'm sure there's a few reporters who are dying to talk to you about Mr. Fastblade.”

“You didn't…”

“I did. You should see the pictures, right here on the front page. So crisp and clear. Really, they came out nicely. Maybe I should have been a photographer, hmm?”

“You dirty, rotten, bast-“

“Now, now, temper, Mr. Smart. I did warn you, didn't I? Or have you tried to put it out of your mind so no one would think you insane? I'm afraid you and I are the only ones who know you are not…and somehow no one thinks I'm a good judge of what's insane and what's not.”

“Just wait until I get my hands on you…”

“Mmm…I'm saying the same thing to your wife,” Dr. Von Malcolm said in a cool, seductive tone. Max yelped.

“You stay away from her!” he screamed helplessly, knowing he was hundreds of miles away from being able to really do anything. Von Malcolm laughed softly.

“Would you put Caitlin on? I'd like to speak to the old girl.” Max, who was fuming and ready to get home anyway, shoved the receiver at Caitlin, who blushed like a schoolgirl.

“Hello?” she said meekly.

“Hello, Caitlin. Is it good to hear from me again? It's all right to admit so.”

“Yes, it is, Malachi,” she breathed. “Sometimes I miss you.”

“That's nice. Do you still think about the night you and I danced to Mendelssohn in the garden that smelt of lavender, and how I said that the gods watch over all living things to make sure their existence is free?”

“Yes, Malachi, I do,” Caitlin whispered breathlessly, beginning to feel the same lust she used to for this man. The way he spoke, that cool, soothing voice and the way his eyes could melt into yours drove her wild, and she was beginning to feel like she did that night when they almost…

“Well, I was mistaken. Ta.” With that, he hung up abruptly. Caitlin, who wasn't done remembering that wonderful night, hung up slowly to find Max had already left.

7.

It had been a struggle, but Dr. Von Malcolm had injected the solution into 99's bloodstream, rendering her unconscious for a few hours. He had many houses across America, and today he had brought 99 to one in Virginia. He had always thought this was a lovely state but he never got to spend much time there. Although everyone was after him and an unconscious Control agent was tied to the bed in the other room, he found himself out on the balcony, drinking some of his good red wine and enjoying the view.

Incarceration had been inconvenient for Dr. Von Malcolm. It was ironic to him that although he was a psychologist and had dealt with wackos before, when he actually was considered one his view was so much different. He had been brought up in a wealthy family by parents who loved him and had given him everything he wanted. Beautiful women were always around him, begging to be in his company. At age 26 he was making more money than he could ever use and was quite popular in the arts circle. But still, he did not seem truly satisfied until he stepped back from killing his three failing students and admired his work. Taking a human life was exhilarating.

He had been called a monster and maybe he was. Often times he wondered if he had to do all over again if he would still kill. The answer was usually yes. But tonight that was different.

It had all changed when he saw 99's face. Her beauty overwhelmed him, which rarely happened. He had never had much use for women, siting they were good for physical pleasure but not much else. When he came face to face with this goddess she was doing the dishes; he'd seen people do dishes before of course, but somehow this was different, and he did not use the rough capture tactics he had planned on. Instead he found himself talking gently to her as not to alarm her. He told her she would be fine if she would stay still long enough for him to inject the serum into her, and that it would only make her sleep. Carrying her out to the car had been an enjoyable experience; he found himself staring at her face the whole time and wondering what she saw in that oaf Maxwell. He could make her so much happier, if only she would let him.

Tonight he wished that he was a normal man again simply to be promised a chance with the lady in the bedroom. He felt he would live his entire lifetime over again just to have one single moment with her. The sweet wine in his mouth only heightened his want for her.

99 awoke with a start, seeming to realize something was awry. She tried to sit up but found her feet and hands were tied to the posts of the bed. She struggled but the knots were tight. A soft, cool breeze from the outside let her know that she was relatively safe, and when she got a better look around, she realized her surroundings were beautiful. The canopy bed looked to be at least two hundred years old, and the numerous large paintings that decorated the room were gorgeous. She caught a glimpse of someone out on the deck, and instantly recognized it as the man who had kidnapped her.

“You will never get away with this!” she cried to him. He turned around, and glad to see her up, re-entered the room.

“It's nice to see you again, Mrs. Smart. How are you feeling?”

“Just wait until my husband gets here!” she shouted at the doctor. He smiled.

“Yes, I will. I'm looking forward to seeing him. Unfortunately Mrs. Smart, he won't be here for a few hours. Possibly even a day or two.”

“What have you done to him?”

“Nothing, I assure you. I just talked to him not two hours ago. He was in Boston, apparently trying to track me down. I did warn him against that,” he tsked. 99 gasped.

“So you mean Max wasn't making that up?”

Dr. Von Malcolm laughed. “No, isn't that a scream? Everyone thought him to be completely nutty, and the whole time he was telling the honest truth.”

99's heard sank. “I didn't believe him, either. I sent him to a psychiatrist.”

“Well, then again, what could you think?” Dr. Von Malcolm said gently, sitting down on the bed. “I don't blame you, my dear, but it just goes to show you should never, never doubt what nobody is sure about.”

“I guess not…” 99 muttered, thinking of the heartbroken expression on Max's face when she told him she thought he was lying. “So I'm assuming you're Malachi Von Malcolm?”

“That would be me. Do you like Bach?” Dr. Von Malcolm asked, holding up a CD. 99 shrugged, surprised at the ease of the question. He put it in the player and began to conduct along with the first movement. “Isn't that beautiful, Mrs. Smart?” he said distantly over the music.  

“Where's my husband?”

He continued to conduct and look absorbed in the music, but answered her question. “I'm assuming he took the first flight back to Washington and is now fighting off the rabid reporters who are going to have all sorts of questions for him. That and the police.”

“Why?”

“Blackmail, Mrs. Smart, is a beautiful thing. Poor Max. I gave him plenty of warning. So he might come…” he looked down at 99, “…and he might not. Depends on how he plays his cards.”

“But…but what if he gets thrown in jail before he can come here?”

Dr. Von Malcolm shrugged. “Then that's just too bad. Would you like some wine? It's rather good.”

“But what about me? Are you going to keep me prisoner?”

“Hm? No, of course not. That's rather rude of me. If a guest doesn't want to stay then the host shouldn't force her too. If Max is thrown in jail you may leave,” he said, pouring himself another glass of wine.

“As if kidnapping me and tying me to a bed isn't rude enough!”

Dr. Von Malcolm, although surprised at her outburst, laughed heartily. “You do have a point there, Mrs. Smart. But if I were in a room with a man who has killed 18 people I would probably do as he says and enjoy his hospitality.” He sat back down on the bed again. “Really, I won't hurt you unless you force me too. I've grown rather fond of you,” he whispered, stroking her hair softly and gazing into her eyes. 99 found herself looking deeply into Dr. Von Malcolm's eyes and getting swept up in them. “Now, if I untie you and serve you some dinner, will you resist? I really do not want to have to keep you tied here…it must be uncomfortable.” 99 nodded. “However, if you cause me any trouble I will have no reservations about defending myself. The serum that I injected into you probably has not worn off completely, so both your balance and your strength will be off, so do be careful. All right?” 99 nodded again and watched as Dr. Von Malcolm quickly and efficiently untied her from the bed. She rubbed her wrists and sat up, noticing she still felt woozy. “Now, how are you feeling?”

“A little dizzy,” she admitted. He took her hand delicately.

“That's normal. You will feel that way for a few more hours. Come, I'll help you to the dinner table,” he said, guiding her carefully off the bed. She stumbled into him, but he did not budge and she righted herself a second later.

“Sorry,” she muttered.

“Don't apologize, mi amoire. Just keep hold of my hand and we'll go slow, all right?” he purred into her ear. She shivered from the controlled sound of the voice and nodded. They strolled slowly down the wide corridor; 99 took this opportunity to look around at the beautiful works of art. Rarely did she get to see such lovely things and her soul ate them up. The doctor noticed her interest and talked her through each of the works of art, carefully explaining each detail. 99 forgot she was in the clutches of a monster and found herself enjoying the tour.

“I just whipped up some filet mignon. I hope that's not too `down home' for you, but it's relatively easy to make and I didn't have much time to make it,” Dr. Von Malcolm said, tenderly helping 99 to ease into her chair. She shook her head.

“No, that sounds wonderful.”

“Good. Bon appetit.”

8.

Max arrived home to find throngs of reporters filling his driveway and front lawn. He shoved through them all and ignored the ridiculous questions coming from their mouths. He slammed the door behind him and sighed in relief.

“There you are!” Benjamin yelled, coming from the kitchen. “Where the hell have you been?”

“Boston.”

“Boston?!”

“I was following a lead, Benjamin, that's what you do when you're trying to find an escaped criminal!” Max said, his voice getting louder with each word.

“Can you explain this?” Benjamin fumed, throwing a newspaper at Max. Max opened it up and found himself staring at himself killing Fastblade, who was without a weapon.

“I told you Benjamin, Von Malcolm set this up! Didn't I tell you this would happen?”

“You're in deep shit, Max. I hope you know that,” Benjamin barked, crossing his arms in front of himself. Max, who was tired of explaining himself, simply sighed.

“Look Benny, I got more important things on my mind right now. I gotta murderer to catch and a soulmate to save.”

“Don't think so,” Benjamin said defiantly. “I'm suspending you.”

What?!” Max roared. Benjamin nodded with a satisfied smirk on his face.

“Sorry Max, but you failed you psychological examination. I gotta suspend you until we find out what the problem is and fix it.”

You're my problem, now get out of my way!!”

“You have been taken off the case, Smart. You are hereby stripped of your duties and if you disobey my orders you will go to prison.” He looked outside at the swarm of reporters and police officers. “Heck, maybe you'll go to prison anyway,” he said in a taunting voice.

This did it. Max packed all his frustration into his fist and punched Benjamin right in the nose. He fell to the ground, unconscious and bleeding. Max turned him on his side so he wouldn't die by choking on his own blood. Max's old Chief would have never done anything like this to him! He would have believed Max all the way! Suddenly Max felt very, very alone and irritated. Max groaned in aggravation and grabbed the case file of Dr. Malachi Von Malcolm. He flipped through it until he came to the page that listed Von Malcolm's many residences before his arrest. Something in his bones told him that the house on Maple Hurst Drive in Walkington, Virginia was the place he would find 99. He memorized the address, grabbed his car keys, and bolted out the back door to his car.

9.

“…so everyone thinks Max is crazy,” 99 said, finishing telling her story to Dr. Von Malcolm, or Malachi as she had been calling him. He nodded thoughtfully.

“It's odd that a human's first instinct is to disbelieve, isn't it? When they first introduced the idea of going to the moon undoubtedly everyone laughed at the proposition.” He thought for a moment. “What is wrong with Max's heart?”

“Max's heart? Well, he's got a heart murmur, but that's about it.”

“No, no. I mean, what's wrong with his heart that he can't find it within himself to forgive a man for what he's done?” Malachi asked, obviously thinking of himself.

99 shrugged. “That's just Max. He's all about justice. But Max's feelings are easily hurt, and--geez, why am I telling you all this?” she laughed. Malachi smiled.

“Because I wanted to hear you speak about anything, that's why,” he said kindly. “You're very interesting, Mrs. Smart.”

“You are too, Malachi,” she said softly and blushing. “I have to tell you, despite the situation, this isn't so bad.”

Malachi was thoughtful a moment before speaking. “Tonight out on the balcony, I began to think about something I often ask myself. I ask myself if I had it to do all over again, if I would have really hurt anybody. Up until now the answer has always been yes. I wouldn't have changed anything. But tonight when I asked myself that, I found myself thinking of you and how if I hadn't done what I have done, I might have…have been something to you,” he finished carefully. “Do you know what I'm saying?”

She nodded slowly, looking at her lap. “You'd live a lifetime just for me...”

“Yes,” he said breathlessly, surprised that someone actually understood his emotions when he himself did not. “That's exactly it.”

“I love Max,” 99 said confidently. “And nothing could have changed that. Even if you got to me before Max did.”

Malachi nodded. “I suppose that's fair. But…you're the first person I've met…that's….that's made me think twice about…about the things I've done, and that…maybe the things I've done were…were wrong,” he struggled, never having thought this feeling was possible. 99 looked taken aback.

“You mean you regret that you ever killed anyone?”

He looked at her straight on. “Only because you do,” he whispered gently.

“FREEZE!” someone yelled from behind both of them. Malachi calmly took a gun from his pocket and held it to 99's head.

“Nothing personal of course, but I do need you for a hostage right now,” he told her.

“Max!” 99 cried as soon as she saw her husband emerge from the shadows. He looked tired, tattered, and torn, and when you're holding a gun that's not the best frame of mind to be in. Malachi grabbed 99 and held her close to him as he backed away slowly.

“All right, Smart. Just get out of here and I won't shoot.”

“No! Let my wife go! You are coming with me!” Max held up his bottle of Amrosin. “See this? This is the only thing I'm running on right now, because the rest of me just wants to blow your head off!”

“What is it?” Dr. Von Malcolm asked curiously.

“Ambrosin, why?”

Dr. Von Malcolm stopped. “Ambrosin? Are you sure?” he asked suspiciously.

“Yeah, but it's no concern to you!” Max said, drawing ever closer to the capturer of his wife.

“Mr. Smart, your wife told me that you have a heart murmur, is that true?” the doctor demanded to know. Max shrugged.

“Look, this is neither the time nor the place to be talking about my medical history. Now let go of my wife!”

“But Ambrosin hasn't been tested.”

“How do you know?”

“I'm a medical doctor. The only thing they let me read in the asylum were medical journals. It's been reported that patients with heart murmurs have some rather nasty reactions to Ambrosin. Tell me, have you had pains in your chest?”

“You're not getting to me, Von Malcolm.”

“Mr. Smart, listen to me. If you have had chest pains, stop using the Ambrosin immediately! You're at very serious risk for a heart attack!”

Max stopped. “What is with you? First you try to ruin me, now you're trying to help me? No, I don't believe a word your saying. I've just been working very hard, that's why I've been having the pains.”

“Max, maybe you better listen to him! He's a doctor, you know!” 99 cried.

“I can't believe this! Here I am, trying to bring down a vicious murderer, and we're talking about my health!”

“I'm giving you sound medical advice, Mr. Smart. Ambrosin will kill you if you keep taking it, trust me.”

“'Trust you'? You released those fixed photos to the press so now I'm public enemy number one and I should trust you? You kidnapped my wife and I should trust you?”

“I have no intention of hurting either one of you if you will simply leave me alone. If you don't wish to heed my advice about the Ambrosin it's of no concern to me, just don't say I didn't warn you. Come now, Mrs. Smart. Let's go for a run, shall we?” Dr. Von Malcolm took off running down the corridor with 99 still locked in his grip. Max sprinted after them, bounding up flights of stairs and running through the halls. The house was surprisingly large and Von Malcolm was fast. Max didn't know how he would unlock his 99 from the monster's grip, but the sudden, sharp pain in his chest stopped all those thoughts.

He let out a loud groan that caught the attention of Von Malcolm. He turned around just in time to see Max collapse to the floor in a heap. 99 screamed and struggled to get away even harder than she had been before. Von Malcolm hesitated, let go of 99, and slid over to Max and started to perform CPR with some expertise. 99, who was entirely stupefied at the scene before her, could only hope as the doctor tried relentlessly to bring some life back into the body of Maxwell Smart.

All of her agent instincts were telling her to tackle him, while her heart told her to leave Von Malcolm alone so he could revive Max. He appeared to know what he was doing, performing the ritual with solid understanding and capability. Her knees gave out on her and she sat on the floor, silently praying that the monster could bring Max back.

After what seemed like an eternity, 99 heard Max gasp, cough and moan. She turned around to find Von Malcolm with a somewhat relieved expression on his face and Max sitting up and coughing. She wasted no time; in one leap she landed on Von Malcolm and cuffed him. He didn't looked surprised but Max did.

“What happened?” he managed to choke out.

“You had a heart attack, Mr. Smart. A mild one, from what I can see, but you'll need to rest for a few days. You're very lucky a doctor was present, and even luckier that the doctor cared enough to revive you,” Von Malcolm told him. It took a moment to register with Max, but all at once it hit him; Von Malcolm had saved his life.

“You…you mean…”

“The running after me was what caused the attack. I told you Ambrosin would give you one. I also told you that I would never hurt anyone again. I kept my word, Mr. Smart,” Von Malcolm said gently, looking Max in the eye. “Now please, keep yours.”

Max shook his head sadly and locked the cuffs. “I'm sorry, Malachi,” he said remorsefully. “But this is the way it has to be.”

Von Malcolm's face fell in disappointment and confusion. “Mr. Smart, I saved your life. Will you really deny me my freedom after this act of heroism on my part?”

“Don't flatter yourself. You're still a killer. You're going back from where you came from,” Max said, trying to keep his voice from wavering, but the truth was he felt like he was betraying a friend. The look on Von Malcolm's face was one of true sorrow and surprise. Max sighed forlornly. “I'm sorry, Malachi. I really, truly am.”

“Roman soldiers would have gladly killed and died for their glorious city. Perhaps the same is true of you and your institution,” Von Malcolm said, more trying to explain it to himself than to Max. “My deeds from earlier in my life have kept me from being who I truly wanted to be. But maybe that is how it was supposed to happen. I am what I am, and that is all that I am,” he said wistfully. He was silent a moment, then swiftly grabbed Max's gun from the holster and leapt up. “It seems I have no other option. Mr. Smart, I told you I would sooner die than go back to the asylum. And I am a man of my word.” Von Malcolm held the gun to his heart, fired once, and fell to the ground soundlessly. 99 rushed to the side of him, taking his bloody hand still trapped in the cuffs. Somehow the cuffs and the blow to the heart was horribly ironic. “Mi amoire,” Von Malcolm purred gently up at 99. “I'm afraid I'm barred from heaven so I shall never behold your beauty again. Think of me so that I may never truly die and learn from my fate,” he gasped, barely above a whisper. A single tear from 99's face fell on his quickly paling face, and a moment later, Dr. Malachi Von Malcolm was dead from a self inflicted gun shot wound to his heart.

99 smoothed his jet black hair back, leaned down, and gave him a delicate kiss on his forehead. She then rose quietly, excused herself outside, and bawled like a child for hours.

Epilogue

Taken from the Washington Post dated March 14th, 1984

PSYCHO PROFESSOR, MUDRDER OF 18, KILLS HIMSELF RATHER THAN FACING CAPTURE

Dr. Malachi Von Malcolm, famed psychology professor and notorious serial killer, committed suicide in his Virginia home on Thursday. Autopsy reports found that a bullet lodged in the heart was the cause. He was facing capture from two law enforcement officers when the incident occurred.

Oddly enough, one of the officers suffered a mild heart attack during the raid, and Dr. Von Malcolm was the one who saved him. “I had a reaction to some medicine I was taking,” reported the officer, who wishes to remain anonymous. “He was holding a prisoner, and he let her go to save me. Once I was revived, we cuffed him, then he took my gun and shot himself.”

Apparently Von Malcolm played a little trick on the officer. In order to fend off the officer, Von Malcolm took photos of him in action, only they were taken in such a way that it looked like the officer was being unnecessarily brutal. The officer's workplace had begun to think he had mental problems, and were thinking of firing him. Although that has all been straightened out now, a few days ago the life of the officer could only be described as hell.

“Von Malcolm was a man of his word,” says one former student named Henry Wiggin, now a psychologist. “He said once he escaped the asylum he would never kill another living being. And he kept that promise, even though he had countless opportunities to break it.”

A hero in disguise? “He was misunderstood,” the second officer told us. “I was held captive for about a day, but he couldn't have been better to me. He had no intention of harming anybody. He just wanted to be human again. He wanted his dignity and privacy. He just wanted his freedom back.” Hundreds of psychological profiles are being prepared on the killer professor from Boston. An auction scheduled for next week will auction off some of Von Malcolm's belongings. The bids are already coming in, and many have topped the hundred thousand dollar mark.

“It's a fascinating case,” George Meyer of California State University says. “I'm actually doing a study of the man's life. He was much deeper than just a psycho killer. I've gotten ahold of some of his pieces of art and music, and it's clear to me that he was a sophisticated genius. Much can be learned from a fate such as his.”

A new cult movement headed by the doctor's life is already beginning to form among college students. “He was a true Romantic,” says Kelsey Rivertile, a student at Indiana University. “His last words were actually telling the woman he loved to learn from his fate. It's just so ironic,” she went on to say. “I mean, you almost feel sorry for the guy, you know? He killed those he felt were in misery, then he escapes and saves some guy's life, and that guy ultimately makes Von Malcolm kill himself!”

A book of Von Malcolm's life is in the works.

His body was buried yesterday at Violet Cemetery. Only one woman, who would like to remain anonymous, attended the funeral.



THE END