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Authors: William Johnston

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Get Smart 5 - Missed It By That Much!

BOOK: Get Smart 5 - Missed It By That Much!
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MISSED IT
BY THAT MUCH!

KAOS and CONTROL match agents again in a struggle to find Dr. Livingstrom and his secret formula—a formula so putrid that whole populations have fled from their homes to escape its terrible odor.

Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 for CONTROL, and his beautiful, kooky side-kick, Agent 99 are put in charge of tracking down Dr. Livingstrom. Their first stop is Pahzayk, New Ghirzy—a tough water-front town in Africa where they run into the tricks and illusions of Whitestone, a magician turned KAOS agent. Mirages appear and disappear; objects and people are not what they seem. Max and Agent 99 are more confused than ever before as the crafty Whitestone leads them on a wild chase from Pahzayk to Paradise, deep in the somewhat less than heavenly jungles of Africa.

GET SMART
novels
by William Johnston

Get Smart!
Sorry Chief . . .
Get Smart Once Again!
Max Smart and the Perilous Pellets
Missed It By That Much!
And Loving it!
Max Smart - The Spy Who Went Out to the Cold
Max Smart Loses Control
Max Smart and the Ghastly Ghost Affair

© 1967 TALENT ASSOCIATES—PARAMOUNT LTD.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THE RIGHT
TO REPRODUCE IN WHOLE OR IN PART
IN ANY FORM

PUBLISHED SIMULTANEOUSLY IN CANADA

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOG CARD NUMBER
AC67-18858

A TEMPO BOOKS
Original

TEMPO BOOKS EDITION, 1967
FIRST PRINTING, April 1967

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

CONTENTS

MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH!

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MISSED IT
BY THAT MUCH!
1.

M
AX
S
MART
, known to Control, the secret organization for good, as Agent 86, marched briskly up to the secret entrance to Control Headquarters, entered, then strode snappily down a long corridor. Huge iron doors opened before him as he approached, then clanged closed behind him. At the end of the corridor he reached a telephone booth. Stepping into it, Max closed the folding door, then started to dial. At that exact moment, the telephone rang.

Max peered at the telephone puzzledly. “You’re a dummy telephone,” he said to the instrument. “You’re not supposed to ring.”

The telephone jangled again.

Max shrugged, then picked up the receiver.

Max:
Max Smart, Agent 86, here.

Voice (male):
Let me speak to Hazel, please.

Max:
You have the wrong number. There’s no Hazel here. And, besides that, this is a dummy telephone.

Voice:
Then let me talk to the dummy.

Max:
You don’t understand. This telephone doesn’t work. Actually, it isn’t a telephone at all. It’s a gadget that triggers a trap door. When I dial a certain number, the trap door opens and drops me into the basement.

Voice:
And you do it? Knowing the trap door is going to open and drop you into the basement? I guess that’s why it’s called a dummy telephone. Only a dummy would—

Max hung up.

He waited a moment, then took the receiver from the hook again and began dialing the secret number. He dialed one digit, then another, then another, then another, then placed the receiver back in the holder. The trap door sprang open. But, unfortunately, Max’s index finger was caught in one of the holes of the dial. He dangled over the opening.

Chagrined, Max sighed disgustedly. Then, still dangling by a finger, he reached down with his free hand and removed his shoe telephone from his foot. Holding the shoe in his teeth, he dialed a number, then put the shoe to his ear.

Chief:
Control Headquarters. The Chief speaking.

Max:
This is Max, Chief. I thought I’d better call. I’m going to be delayed a few minutes.

Chief (gruffly):
Max, this happens every time I call you in for an assignment. What’s the problem this time? Where are you?

Max:
If it’s all the same to you, Chief, I’d just as soon not say. Frankly, it’s a little embarrassing.

Operator:
He probably tied his shoelaces together again, Chief.

Max
(indignantly
): I did not! And I’ll thank you to stay out of this, Operator.

Chief (worried now):
Max, are you in trouble? Has KAOS taken you prisoner? Are you being tortured? Is that it?

Operator:
I’ll bet he was taking a shower and he got his big toe caught in the drain.

Max:
You’re both wrong. Chief, just give me a few minutes, will you? I
do
have a little problem. But I’m sure I can work it out. Start the meeting without me. I’ll be along in a while.

Chief:
Max, the purpose of the meeting is to assign you to a mission—how can I start
that
without you? If you’re in trouble, tell me where you are. I’ll send someone to help you.

Max:
Oh, all right, if it’s that urgent. I’m here in the building. In the telephone booth. At least, part of me is in the booth. The other part of me is in the basement. I got my finger caught in the dial, and I’m dangling.

Operator:
I knew it! What a knucklehead!

Chief:
Hold on, Max. I’m sending Agent 99 to get you down.

Operator:
Don’t do it, Chief. Let him dangle. If you get him down, he’ll just get in trouble again. You know what you need? A new agent. Now, my brother-in-law, Arnold—

Max hung up, silencing the operator.

Approximately a quarter of an hour later, Max entered the Chief’s office, followed by the beautiful, dark-haired Agent 99, who was carrying a ladder. The Chief was in conversation with someone on the telephone. He motioned for Max and 99 to be seated. Max settled in the chair that faced the Chief’s desk. And 99, after standing the ladder against a wall, perched on a corner of the desk.

“I’ll take your word for it, your brother-in-law, Arnold, probably
wouldn’t
ever get his finger caught in a telephone dial,” the Chief said into the receiver, “but it takes more than that to be a secret agent.”

“Right. It takes know-how,” Max nodded.

“No, I’m sure your brother-in-law, Arnold, hasn’t ever tied his shoelaces together, either,” the Chief said. “However . . . Well, look, do this: have your brother-in-law come in and fill out an application. I’ll give it every consideration.”

The Chief placed the receiver in the cradle.

“Chief, you’re not really thinking about replacing me with the operator’s brother-in-law, Arnold, are you?” Max said, hurt.

“Of course not, Max. There’s no time for it. This assignment I have for you is urgent.”

“No one could ever take your place, Max,” 99 said. “At least, not with me.”

Max leaned forward. “How about with you, Chief?” he said, a bit anxiously.

“Well, I will say this,” the Chief replied, “there has never been, and I’m sure there will never be, an agent like you, Max. Now, can we get down to business?”

“Yes, let’s,” 99 said. “What is the assignment, Chief?”

The Chief tipped back in his chair, looking solemn. “First, let me fill you in on the background,” he said. “A few weeks ago an incident occurred in a small English village that, at the time, seemed completely unimportant.”

“That sounds like it would be right down Arnold’s alley,” Max said, pouting.

“Max—will you forget about Arnold? Your job is safe. If I tried to fire you, I’d have your union on my neck. And I just don’t have time for that sort of thing. Now then, as I was saying—”

“Is that your reason? Because you don’t want trouble with the union?” Max interrupted, his lower lip trembling. “If it is, just say the word.”

“And you’ll do what, Max? Resign from the union?”

“No, I’ll pay up my back dues.”

“Chief, what was it that happened in that little English village that seemed completely unimportant?” 99 said.

“The town was suddenly permeated by a terrible odor,” the Chief replied. “The odor filled every nook and cranny in the village. It was everywhere. The people panicked. And within minutes the whole town was cleared. It looked like a ghost town.”

“And you call a thing like that unimportant?” Max said. “Those people are homeless, Chief. Doesn’t that mean anything to you? Or have you become so insensitive that the suffering and anguish of your nearest and dearest friend means absolutely nothing to you?”

The Chief stared at him, baffled. “My nearest and dearest friend? Max, I don’t know a soul in that village.”

“I’m talking about me,” Max replied. “This idea of yours to replace me with the operator’s brother-in-law, Arnold, has cut me deeply. How can you be so heartless?”

The Chief’s eyes rolled ceilingward. He groaned.

“Go on, Chief,” 99 urged. “Max didn’t mean it.”

“Well, in time,” the Chief went on, “the wind shifted and the terrible odor drifted away. The people returned to the village. And, when they traced the odor, it led them to the house of a Dr. Livingstrom, a scientist.”

“What caused the odor?” 99 said. “What did they find?”

“I’ll tell you what they found,” Max said. “They found a message scratched on the wall. It said: Arnold was here. There’s the explanation for your terrible odor.”

The Chief shook his head. “They did find a message, however—in a sense,” he said. “It was a scribbled notation. They found it in Dr. Livingstrom’s laboratory. It said: Brassica Oleracia—212°.”

99 looked at Max. Max looked at 99. Then they both turned back to the Chief.

“Brassica Oleracia—212°?” 99 said puzzledly. “What does it mean?”

“Nobody knows,” the Chief replied. “We think it may be a formula. But we’re not positive. It’s possible that it’s in code. Our cryptographers have been working on it, but, so far, they haven’t come up with anything.”

“I have an idea,” Max said.

“Yes, Max?”

“Let’s ask this Dr. Livingstrom what it means,” Max said. “After all, if it was found in his laboratory, he probably wrote it. And if he wrote it, it follows then that he knows what it means. You see, Chief? Every problem has a solution. I just wonder if you’ll get that kind of thinking from this Arnold fellow.”

BOOK: Get Smart 5 - Missed It By That Much!
12.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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