It was February 14. The day after Peter's birthday, and more importantly, Valentine's Day. The one holiday Mr. Zero hated the most.
"All that love," he said, shuddering. "It's sickening."
"I know what you mean, master," one of his associates, Daniel, replied. "Valentine's Day is also when most people get married."
"And promise to love, honor, and obey," another associate, Winifred, groaned.
"I know," Mr. Zero replied. "I'm going to cancel Valentine's Day one of these days. But one major goal at a time. First, I must find a way to get rid of Nesmith so he won't have any chance to protect Tork and I can finally have his soul."
"Is there anything you need from us, mastah?" an English associate, Philip, asked.
"No," Mr. Zero said. "I can do this on my own. I will call you when I need your help."
All of Mr. Zero's associates bowed and left the room. Mr. Zero went over to his crystal ball (which he used to spy on his enemies and potential "clients"), and sat down. He snapped his fingers.
"Show me Nesmith," he ordered.
The ball glowed and gave Mr. Zero an image of Mike, strumming his guitar and singing to Phyllis. The two of them looked so much in love that Mr. Zero practically got sick to his stomach.
"Love is so overrated," he said. "Look at them. She wastes her time sitting there listening to Nesmith's love songs. Very few there are. She can't possibly love him. There must have been reasons why she married him. Money and power maybe. Yes, that has to be it. Nobody marries out of love anymore."
Mr. Zero kept watching Mike and Phyllis through the crystal ball. The longer he watched, the more he seemed to enjoy, more or less.
"What could she possibly see in Nesmith?" he asked himself. "It's got to be either his money or his power. He could give her anything she wished, with just a wave of his hand. I could do that. And she obviously can't love him for his looks. He hasn't got any. He's not, ahem, devilishly handsome like I am. And she can't love him for his personality. He hasn't got any of that, either."
Mr. Zero watched intently. Mike had just finished his song, and Phyllis was applauding. Mike put his guitar down and moved closer to his wife. He leaned against her and began kissing her neck lightly, which made her giggle. Mr. Zero merely scoffed.
"I can see that's what women are to you, Nesmith," he said. "Mere objects for your human nature of play. That's probably what love is to you. A chance to put your knowledge of sex into use."
Mr. Zero watched Mike wrap his arms around Phyllis's shoulders and he began nibbling on her ear.
"Not that I blame you," he said, with a devilish smile. "She's got the body for it. How I envy you there, Nesmith. I can't deny that fact. You don't know this about me, but I've wanted her. I've wanted to caress her perfect form, to run my fingers through that long, blonde hair, everything. All that you do to her, Nesmith. How I've wanted her. Every time I see her with you, the passion inside of me grows stronger. I can't hide it. Now it's not only because of Tork's soul do I want to destroy you, Nesmith, it's now come to the girl. I want her, I must have her!"
Mr. Zero turned off his crystal ball for a moment and sat back in his throne. He knew he was getting crazy watching the ball. But he couldn't help it. He had an obsession. It drove him crazy, but it was still there. And nothing would satisfy him more than destroying Mike and his "Monkee Magic," as he called it.
"I had come so close that last time," he mused. "The court, after all, did find you guilty. That should have worked. But noooo, that loud mouthed disc jockey just had to spoil everything for me, by finding that stupid loophole! Well, I'll fix him. I'll fix them all! I'll destroy Nesmith, make Tork and Nesmith's other friends my slave, and the girl shall be mine. But how? What can I do that Nesmith, or his friends, won't foul up?"
Mr. Zero went back to his crystal ball. He saw Davy run up to Mike and Phyllis with a letter.
"Sorry to break up this romantic moment," he said. "But I just got a lettah from me double."
"Ludlow?" Mike asked.
"Yep. There's gonna be an embassy ball Saturday night in the small kingdom of Pleasant Valley and we're invited."
"Just us Monkees?"
"And the Mallards and whoevah else. Ludlow said any friend of ours is a friend of 'is."
"Hey, that's cool. Groovy. Sure, I'm up for it."
"Great! We leave for Pleasant Valley tomorrow. I'll tell the othahs the news."
Davy ran off. Mr. Zero was smiling sneakily.
"Ah yes, Pleasant Valley," he said. "That pathetic little kingdom. Hah! I could take over that easily. Especially since Magnolia lives there. She'll arrange everything I need."
Magnolia was another one of Mr. Zero's associates. Nobody from Zero's Witch's Council knew why she had the name of a flower, since her heart was cold as ice. She was almost as mean as Mr. Zero himself! Pleasant Valley was a small kingdom and very easy to overthrow. The ruler was named Prince Jack and he was your basic jellyfish. He had an infatuation with Lady Mary, and nothing else seemed to be on his mind. Not that he didn't know how to fight back, he did. But he was always too scared to fight. Mr. Zero saw this as the perfect chance.
"This is all so perfect!" he shouted. "The whole kingdom will be mine! I won't have to hide out in this pawn shop. I'll be ready for Nesmith. And those infernal friends of his. When next they see me, they'll have a surprise coming!"
That evening, Mr. Zero and his minions (Daniel, Winifred, Sonia, Philip, and Agatha) headed for Pleasant Valley. Magnolia was waiting for them.
"Greetings master," she said. "What brings you to my humble area?"
"Business Magnolia," Mr. Zero said. "I want to take over this pathetic little kingdom."
"Good! This place needs a new ruler. Prince Jack isn't much of one, I'll tell you that! I'll take you into the castle through the secret passage."
"Excellent. Let's go."
Magnolia led Mr. Zero and the others down a long, dark hallway. She opened a door and looked around. The throne room was deserted.
"Coast is clear, master," she said. "It's all ready for you."
"Excellent," Mr. Zero said. "The first thing we do is blast the townspeople and everybody here, including the old spineless jellyfish Prince Jack. I'll put them all under a spell. They'll be my servants!"
Mr. Zero waved his hands around and lightning flashed and thunder crashed. His minions looked out the window and watched the townspeople turn into hideous creatures. Their backs became hunched, their fingers grew longer and they curled, the skin on their faces seemed to harden so much that they could no longer speak English. Not to mention their eyes turned cat shaped, and became a bright yellow. They also grew hair, like a werewolf. When the transformation was over, Mr. Zero had a fleet of trolls to work for him.
"Are you planning on doing that to Nesmith and his friends?" Daniel asked.
"No," Mr. Zero said. "I'll get a kick out of torturing Tork. Besides, I need some human slaves. All of you will bring Nesmith and his friends to me. Then I'll handle it from there."
The minions nodded, bowed, and left. Mr. Zero started laughing evilly. The next morning, the Monkees, the Mallards, and the usual group arrived in Pleasant Valley. But they were met with dead silence.
"This is weird," Davy said. "Where ah all the townspeople?"
"Yeah," Jerry said, looking around. "This place is like a ghost town."
"The entire kingdom's deserted," Camille said.
"And for it being called Pleasant Valley," Mike said, "it sure can be downright creepy."
"I'm getting bad vibes," Drake said.
Bad vibes or not, the group decided to head for the castle, thinking the townspeople might be hanging around there or something. They reached the draw bridge, and nobody was around there, either. Not to mention the bridge was up.
"I guess they're not so pleasant in Pleasant Valley," Sarah said with a shrug.
"I guess we'd better pack it in and leave," Jerry said, turning around. "Too bad. Let's go home."
"Hold it just a minute, buster!" Mike shouted, grabbing Jerry's arm. "What's with the sudden show of cowerism?"
"I don't want to be around when Drake gets bad vibes," Jerry said. "It could be dangerous."
"Have you forgotten that I can handle anythin'?"
"I'm not so sure you can handle Drake's bad vibes."
"Don't sweat it. I know what I'm doin'."
Jerry wasn't so sure about that, but he didn't say anything. The main thing was to figure out how in the world to get the drawbridge down and inside the castle.
"Maybe we could throw rocks at it," Peter said. "That could draw somebody's attention."
"Where are we gonna get the rocks?" Reggie asked. Peter shrugged.
"Forget it," Quackerjack said. "We're gonna have to swim across."
"We could," Davy said. "Or maybe Mike could snap 'is fingahs and bring it down."
Mike was about to do just that when the drawbridge suddenly started to come down.
"Finally we get some service around here," Camille said.
"It's coming down kinda fast, isn't it?" Davy asked.
"A little too fast for my taste," Phyllis said, and she started to back away.
"Let's high tail it outta here!" Mike shouted.
The group ran off, but not too far. The drawbridge crashed down as far as it would go.
"Wow!" Sarah shouted.
"We were almost flattened like pancakes!" Micky yelled.
"Now I know what a fly feels like near a fly swatter!" Jerry commented.
"Well, now that the drawbridge's down," Mike said, "we might as well go in and see what's goin' on around here."
Mike led the way into the castle. The others followed. They walked into the main hall. It was so dark, you couldn't see your hand in front of your face!
"I can't see me 'and in front of me face!" Davy shouted.
"The writer just said that, Davy-baby," Quackerjack replied.
Everybody looked around the castle. Nobody could see a thing.
"Anybody got a flashlight?" Jerry asked.
"Even a match would do," Camille said.
"How 'bout a cigarette lighter?" Mike suggested.
"That'll work," Camille replied.
Mike took his cigarette lighter out of his pocket and opened it up. The group managed to get some light, but it wasn't much. In fact, the dim light just made the room seem creepier.
"This is downright spooky!" Valerie shouted.
"Yeah," Camille said. She pulled her jacket closer around her. "It's like an old movie. What's missing is heavy breathing down my neck."
Well, her and her big mouth. At that moment, Camille heard and felt heavy breathing down her neck. She got a sick look on her face and turned around, hoping Reggie was standing right behind her and having an asthma attack because he was so freaked out. In the dim light, she could just make out a troll breathing down her neck and slobbering. It was disgusting. Not to mention creepy. And normally cool, calm, and collected Camille let out an ear piecing screech. That screech also scared everybody out of their wits, since it echoed through the hall. Mike jumped a mile and dropped his lighter. Things went pitch black again.
"Thanks a lot," he said, sarcastically.
"Don't do that!" Reggie and Micky shouted in unison.
"Yeah, you normally don't do things like that," Quackerjack said. "You normally don't freak out like that."
"Sorry but there was some sort of monster breathing down my neck!" Camille shouted, getting panicked again.
"Yeah, sure," Drake said. Then he groaned. "Argh. This is insane!"
"Yeah," Mike said. "Somebody find a light switch and turn on the lights!"
The lights came on suddenly. The group found themselves surrounded by the trolls. They were all growling and slobbering. And creepy looking. Mike got a panicked look to his face.
"Turn 'em back off! Please!" he shouted.
Everyone screamed at this point. A sinister laugh was heard from the front of the room. Mike turned around and found Mr. Zero walking through the trolls.
"Ooh, I wish I had my camera to get the look on your face, Nesmith!" he shouted.
"I should have known!" Mike groaned.
"I had a feeling my bad vibes pointed to him!" Drake said, slapping his hand to his forehead.
"I love getting a chance to scare all of you out of your wits," Mr. Zero said, turning toward Camille. "Especially those of you who are normally so calm and collected."
"Why you, I oughta . . ." Camille started walking toward Mr. Zero, fists in fighting position. Quackerjack stopped her before she went and did something she might regret.
"Down girl!" he shouted.
Mr. Zero laughed some more. He snapped his fingers and the trolls retreated. Then he circled the group.
"What are you doin' here, Zero?" Mike asked.
"Oh, you know," Mr. Zero said. "The usual hostile takeover. It's part of my world domination plan."
"Oh cut me a break!" Jerry shouted. "You can't take over a kingdom and then expect to take over the world!"
"I can do what I want, Blavat," Mr. Zero said. "You should know better than to meddle in my work."
Mr. Zero waved his hand in a circle, and Jerry was lassoed by his power, and lifted into the air. The Geator struggled to get loose, but he was having a hard time doing so.
"Now, you'll see what happens when people stick their noses where they don't belong!" Mr. Zero shouted.
"Wait a sec, Zero," Mike cut in. "Before you do my cohort in, tell me, what happened to all the townspeople?"
"I was hoping you'd ask that, Nesmith," Mr. Zero said with a sneaky smile. "Just watch Blavat."
Mr. Zero waved his arms and the magic lasso released Jerry, but now he was in some kind of a bubble. And brother, did he feel strange. He felt as if he was going through a transformation. He leaned forward, as if he was becoming somewhat of a hunchback. He looked down at his fingers and noticed they seemed to be getting long and boney. They also started to curl. He also felt the skin on his face harden and sink in. He tried to say something, but his voice was practically gone! All he could do was growl and snarl. His eyes began to reform as well. They turned yellow and began to glow. Mike raised his hands and zapped Mr. Zero's bubble. It dissolved, Jerry morphed back to normal and fell to the floor. Mr. Zero laughed.
"You sicko!" Micky yelled. "Bleccchh!"
"Never under estimate my powers, Dolenz," Mr. Zero said. "You could be next, you know."
"I don't know what you just did, but I can easily take you on!" Mike shouted.
"You could," Mr. Zero agreed. "But you won't. Magnolia! Agatha! Now!"
Magnolia and Agatha jumped from the stairs and tackled Mike to the ground. Mr. Zero smiled and walked over to Mike, snapping shackles onto his wrists. According to witch laws, if anything (other than a watch) is secured onto a witch's wrists, they can't use their magic. Mike was practically powerless now.
"Let's see you take me on now," Mr. Zero laughed. Mike knew he couldn't, and he gave Mr. Zero a dirty look. Magnolia and Agatha pulled him to his feet, and grasped his arms with iron grips.
"Take him to the dungeon," Mr. Zero said. "And make sure you chain him up good."
"Yes, master," Agatha said.
"Hey, you can't do that to him!" Jerry shouted, finally regaining his senses.
"Silence, Blavat!" Mr. Zero shouted. He gave Jerry a good zap and sent him flying into the wall, head first. "You are all my slaves, and there is nothing to stop me now!"
Mr. Zero began to cackling madly.
"Sheesh, he gets so carried away," Reggie muttered. Micky nodded.
Agatha and Sonia led Mike down a looooong set of stairs (aren't they always?)
"Man, why is it that these staircases in these old castles are so loooooong?" Mike asked.
"Don't ask us, we dunno," Agatha said.
"All we do know is that this set has come to an end," Magnolia said. "And here's the dungeon."
"Isn't much," Mike said. "But we could work wonders with just a few geraniums."
"Do you always crack jokes whenever you're about to get locked in a dungeon?" Agatha asked.
"No," Mike said. "Only when I enter a creepy place."
Agatha let the comment slide and she and Magnolia opened a cell door. They took Mike inside and chained his wrists to the wall, as well as his ankles.
"See if you can get out of that," Magnolia said. She and Agatha left.
Mike clicked his tongue against his teeth. He seemed licked. But he wasn't. All he had to do was figure out how to get out of the dungeon and stop Mr. Zero from taking over the world.
Mr. Zero was walking around the castle, cackling as he watched Mike's friends work their butts off. Reggie and Micky were scrubbing the floors as he walked by.
"Once you're finished cleaning those stones," he said. "You can clean under them."
"How do you expect us to do that?" Reggie asked.
"You're resourceful, Bushroot. You'll think of something."
Mr. Zero cackled and left. Reggie made a face.
"You're resourceful. You'll think of something," he mimicked. "Man, I'd like to give it to him right in the you know what."
"I know you do," Micky said. "I'd like to do the same thing!"
Reggie took a sponge and continued to scrub the floor. Mr. Zero snuck around the castle a little more. Jerry was washing the tapestries on the walls.
"Enjoying yourself, Blavat?" Mr. Zero said.
"I could do this forever," Jerry said, sarcastically.
"How interesting. Well, when you're done there, you can clean the bathrooms. All seventy of them."
"Okay, but I don't do windows."
Mr. Zero nodded and left. He walked into the kitchen where the rest of the girls were busy, preparing a fifteen course dinner, just like Mr. Zero had ordered. He took the lid off of a pot boiling on the stove, took a large wooden spoon, and sampled the soup. He nearly spit it out. Then he turned to Phyllis.
"That is the worst tasting soup I've ever tasted in my entire life!" he shouted. "What's in it?!"
"Your laundry," Phyllis said. "You ordered me to do your laundry, remember?"
"Yeah, she's boiling your clothes," Camille said. "Haven't you ever heard of steam cleaning?"
"Oh," Mr. Zero said, sort of blushing. "Steam cleaning. Very . . . . resourceful. For a mortal."
Camille rolled her eyes and continued chopping celery. She was pretending it was Mr. Zero's head. Phyllis and Valerie took his laundry off the stove and took it outside so it could dry on the line.
"Zero's getting smarter," Valerie said.
"I know," Phyllis replied. "And he sure knows how to hold a grudge."
Valerie nodded and hung the laundry. Once they were finished they went back inside to finish up with the dinner Mr. Zero had ordered. The girls had finished cooking all of it and all they had to do was serve it. And Zero was waiting. He thought the dinner could use a little work. Camille was ready to throttle him.
"You know, I think you have a shorter fuse than Mike," Quackerjack told her.
"No, Mike has a shorter fuse," Camille said. "But I have a pretty bad temper, you know."
"Yeah, I know."
The next day wasn't any better. Quackerjack and Drake were cleaning out the stables. It was a disgusting sight. Micky and Reggie were again scrubbing the floors. Mr. Zero was taking delight in torturing Peter and Jerry. He had ordered them to scrub the floor of the throne room with toothbrushes. And he especially loved scaring Peter out of his wits.
"Nesmith isn't here to protect you, Tork," he said. "Your soul will be mine."
"Not if I can help it," Jerry muttered through gritted teeth. He was planning a midnight mission. He was going to bust Mike out of the dungeon so he could give Mr. Zero exactly what he deserved.
Midnight rolled around. Jerry knew Mr. Zero wouldn't be around to stop him. He was holding a party of some sort upstairs in the ball room. Jerry didn't know what it was for and he really didn't care. He had more important things to do. But he might have wanted to know what Mr. Zero was planning that night. It would have given Mike an even better reason to kick Zero's butt. Mr. Zero had the girls stay up to clean up after the party. All the girls hated it, waiting in the kitchen. They couldn't take the long hours. A few minutes went by, and Mr. Zero waltzed into the kitchen. He turned to Phyllis.
"I want to see you outside," he said. "Now."
Phyllis shrugged and followed Mr. Zero out to the balcony. The others wondered what he was up to.
"Are you any good at dancing?" he asked.
"A little," Phyllis said. "Mike and I go dancing every now and then. He says I'm much better than he is, but . . ."
"Good. I need a dance partner to show up these goons."
"Uh, well, I'm not that good. If you want to show someone up when it comes to dancing, dance with Camille. She's an expert. She dances for a living."
"Yes, well, I would. But I need a partner who's prettier than everyone else's. It's the way my society works, you understand."
"More or less."
"I'll buy that. You are going to enjoy this. However, you're not dressed properly."
"Well, I didn't have a chance to pack any nicer clothes."
"I'll fix that."
Mr. Zero snapped his fingers. Phyllis was wearing a truly glamourous ball gown. It looked like it was made out of pure gold, as it shimmered in the moon light. The dress was had long sleeves, which were see-through, and her shoes were almost solid gold. A gold tiara was fixed in her hair. Some of it was up while the rest fell on her shoulders.
"Yes, this will do nicely," Mr. Zero said, taking Phyllis's hand. "Come, let us dance."
Phyllis followed Mr. Zero inside. She was worried Mike would hit the roof if he found out about this.
Meanwhile, Jerry snuck down to the dungeon. The trolls were guarding the door to Mike's cell. And they weren't about to move. Jerry sat down on the step and began to think about a plan. He was in mid-thought when a hand came down on his shoulder. He jumped and let out a yelp before a hand clapped over his mouth.
"Shhhh!" a familiar British voice hissed. "What ah you trying to do, get us caught?!"
"Oh, Davy, it's only you," Jerry said, once Davy removed his hand. "I thought you were Zero or somebody."
"Sorry to scare you, but I saw you sneak across the hallway," Davy said. "What ah you doing?"
"I'm trying to think of a way to get Mike out of that cell so he can kick Zero's butt."
"I've come to do the same thing. Zero's up there throwing some sort of party. I just looked in and I'll tell you, Mike is gonna 'it the roof."
"What's the matter?"
"Zero's up there and 'e's 'itting on Phyllis."
"Whoa. Mike is gonna hit the roof when you tell him that!"
Davy and Jerry stood in the shadows. Both of them started thinking of a plan to distract the trolls. Then Jerry remembered they had been breathing down Camille's neck and only her neck.
"You've known Camille longer than I have," he said. "Does she wear perfume?"
"I'll ask Quackerjack," Davy said. "'E knows 'er bettah than I do."
Davy and Jerry darted up the stairs and found Quackerjack and Camille mopping a floor.
"Great, we found both of you," Davy said. "Camille, do you wear perfume?"
"Sometimes," Camille said. "Especially when I have a hot date with Casanova over here."
Quackerjack stared at the ceiling and blushed scarlet.
"Why?" Camille continued.
"Were you wearing any of it yesterday?" Jerry asked.
"Yes. As a matter of fact, I was."
"Do you have the bottle with you?"
"Yeah, it's in my pocketbook."
"What do you need her perfume for anyway?" Quackerjack asked.
"We're busting Mike out of the slammer," Jerry said. "And those trolls are guarding the door. I remembered the trolls were breathing down your neck the other day and we figured they were attracted to your perfume."
"We wanted to know if we could borrow it," Davy said. "Just to lure the trolls away so we could break Mike out."
"Sure," Camille said. "Follow me. I'll get my pocketbook."
Camille led the boys to a room and grabbed the perfume bottle out of her bag. She handed it to Jerry. It wasn't the spray on kind, but it was strong. Any guy would run after a girl wearing a scent like that!
"That stuff is thirty dollars an ounce," she said. "But I figure it's worth it to see Zero's butt kicked."
"Great!" Davy shouted. "Thanks a lot, Camille!"
"We owe you one!" Jerry said.
"You both owe me sixty dollars," Camille said. "Each."
"No sweat," Davy said. "By the way, you and Quackerjack keep an eye on Zero. I think 'e's stahting to get a little fresh with Phyllis. Take notes."
"Mike's gonna hit the roof when he finds out about this!" she shouted. "And that alone will give him a great reason to kick Zero's butt. Go for it!"
Davy and Jerry raced down to the dungeon. Camille decided to go with them. After all, she had a nail file and she could pick the locks of Mike's chains.
"What's the plan?" she asked.
"Either Davy or I'll open the perfume bottle in front of the trolls. They'll smell it and run after one of us. Then you and the other will unlock the door and unlock the chains. Then we pour a little of the perfume on the floor and the trolls will run in here and slam! We'll lock the door on them."
"Brilliant!" Davy shouted.
"Which one of you is gonna do the honors?" Camille asked.
"Davy," Jerry said at the exact same time Davy said,
"It was your idea!" Davy shouted.
"You run faster than I do."
"Only by a couple of inches! I'm older, so I say you do it."
"Guys!" Camille shouted. "Why don't you settle it the way my sister and I settled our arguments. Rock, paper, scissors. The loser draws the trolls attention away. Agreed?"
"Agreed," Davy and Jerry said. They played a round of rock, paper, scissors. Davy threw paper, Jerry threw scissors.
"Sorry, Davy-baby," Jerry said. Camille shrugged and handed him the perfume bottle.
Davy sighed, opened the bottle and jumped out in front of the guards.
"Looky what I've got for you!" he said in a sing song voice. "If you can catch me, you can 'ave it!"
Davy began running. The trolls were hot on his heels. They wanted the sweet fragrance badly they were willing to desert their posts. Once they were out of sight, Camille and Jerry darted for the dungeon door. Camille took the nail file out of her pocketbook and started to pick the lock.
"I just remembered something," Jerry said suddenly. "Mike's hypoglycemic and his magic can't fix it so he won't be."
"So?" Camille asked as she jimmied the lock.
"So he'll probably be passed out in there."
"No sweat. Be prepared is my motto."
"I thought that was the Boy Scouts motto."
"I borrowed it from them."
Camille stopped jimmying the lock and dug into her pocketbook. She pulled out a package of Oreo cookies.
"You carry around cookies in your pocketbook," Jerry said, dumbfounded.
"Yep," Camille said.
"Might I ask why?"
"I get hungry on the road. I drive a lot and I travel a lot."
Jerry nodded and took the cookies. Camille finally was able to get the door open. She and Jerry ran inside and saw Mike, sort of kneeling on the floor, limp as a rag doll. It was obvious he had one of his fainting spells due to lack of food. Thank goodness Camille had the cookies. Jerry ripped open the package and began feeding them to Mike as Camille dug her nail file into the locks of the chains. Mike was back among the real world in about two minutes.
"What are you guys doin' here?" he asked.
"Getting you out of here, fearless leader," Jerry said as Camille unlocked the final chain. Mike stood up and grabbed a cookie from the package.
"Where'd you get the Oreos?" he asked.
"Ol' reliable," Camille said, indicating her pocketbook.
"Ah ha," Mike said. "Let's split."
"We have to wait for Davy," Jerry said. "He's distracting the trolls with Camille's perfume."
"We figured out that's why they were breathing down my neck when we first came in here," Camille said. "He should be coming in five, four, three, two . . ."
"I'm back," Davy said, breathlessly. "These guys move fast! They must really like this perfume!"
"Give it to me," Jerry said. He ran inside the cell and poured a few drops on the floor. The scent was still as strong as ever.
"'Ere come the trolls!" Davy shouted. Jerry darted out of the dungeon and out of the path of the trolls. They ran into the dungeon and began crawling over one another trying to find the source of the smell, grunting, growling, and slobbering. Mike shut the door and snapped his fingers to lock the door.
"Now let's split!" Jerry shouted. "Quickly before Zero finds out!"
The four of them darted up the stairs as Davy told Mike what had been going on for the past two days.
"When I last saw," he said. "'E wanted to see Phyllis out on the balcony. 'E began talking about 'ow 'e needed a dance partnah to show up the othahs. One who's prettiah and a bettah dancah than all the othah girls. I'm not sure, but I think 'e's flirting with 'er."
"He's WHAT?????!!!!" Mike shrieked.
Being a witch, he was going to show his anger physically then and there. He grinded his teeth together, moved his arms into the air and threw them down at his sides. Then he shot into the air like a sky rocket, smashing through the ceiling. We went directly to the top floor of the old castle. Debris fell around the other three. A chunk of ceiling fell on top of Davy's head.
"Ow!" he shouted, rubbing his head. Jerry hadn't expected a reaction like that. He looked scared to death. Camille looked ever so calm.
"Hmm, we were right," she said. "He did hit the roof!"
Davy, Camille, and Jerry ran up the rest of the stairs to the top floor. They were wiped out once they reached the floor.
"Don't do that," Davy said.
"Yeah, we can't take it," Jerry said.
"I'm gonna kill him!" Mike shouted. "I'll kill that dirty, rotten no good snake in the grass! That no good rotten dirty cheatin' sneaky son of a--"
"Hey, wait whoa!" Jerry shouted, slapping his hand over Mike's mouth. "That rotten dirty no good blank, blank, blank might hear you!"
"Yeah and then you'll be back in the dungeon," Davy replied.
"Well, I'm sorry, but this is all too much!" Mike hissed. "First of all I'm locked up in the dungeon with chains on my wrists and ankles and I can't get any magic out and now this! Zero's startin' to go too far!"
"So what are you gonna do?" Camille asked.
"I'm gonna march into that ball room and kick Zero's butt right now!"
Mike stormed out. Jerry got a sick look to his face. He, Davy, and Camille followed Mike, but they would stay well hidden. Mike didn't get very far on his rampage. Natasha was an expert shape shifter. She had been spying on Jerry ever since he entered the castle, due to Mr. Zero's orders. She was hiding in the rafters, as a tiny mouse, so she would go unnoticed. Then she scurried into the ballroom. She turned herself back into a human and walked toward Mr. Zero, who was still dancing with Phyllis.
"Nesmith is loose," she whispered to him. "Blavat, Jones, and a friend let him out."
"I knew I couldn't trust Blavat," Mr. Zero groaned. He cleared his throat and turned to Phyllis. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to cut this dance short. I hope you're not too disappointed. Business matters and all that."
"Oh no," Phyllis said. "Not disappointed at all. Go ahead."
Mr. Zero and Natasha left. Phyllis breathed of relief. Zero was a terrible ballroom dancer. Her feet would be sore for weeks! Natasha led Mr. Zero out of the ballroom just as Mike was about to go in. Result? Collision.
"I heard you got out," Mr. Zero said.
"I heard you were flirtin' with my wife," Mike said.
"Who'd you hear a thing like that from?"
"I never reveal my sources."
"Most likely Blavat. He's got a big mouth."
"I resent that!" Jerry shouted. Davy groaned and slapped his hand over the DJ's mouth before he said anything he'd regret.
"Can't you keep that mouth of yours shut long enough not to get Mike's bum fried?!" he hissed. Jerry just glared. He couldn't very well shoot an insult at Davy since his hand was over his mouth.
"No, it wasn't Jerry," Mike said. "As a matter of fact, it was Davy."
"Oh. Jones," Mr. Zero said. "My guess would have been Blavat, though."
"Do you deny the charge?"
"No. I don't deny that I was flirting with your wife. You have heard the saying while the cat's away, the mice will play, haven't you?"
"I have. But Phyllis ain't the kind of girl who would go messin' around with another guy (especially if he's a devil) while her husband's locked in a dungeon."
"Suit yourself, Nesmith. Oh by the way, she's an excellent dancer. I could dance with her forever."
Mike raised his hands over his head and sort of imitated Micky when he sicced his deep submerge on a person. But Mike hurled a blast of white magic at Mr. Zero. He flew directly into the wall of the ballroom. The music automatically stopped. So did all the dancers.
"I think you said the wrong thing, master," Winifred replied.
"I think I did, too," Mr. Zero said. "If I had known you had that short a fuse, I never would have said it, Nesmith."
"Man if you think that was bad," Mike said. "You haven't seen me when I get really mad!"
Mike began to shoot magic out right and left at Mr. Zero. This was the first time he had seen Mike explode. And it didn't amuse him. In fact, it practically scared him half to death. Finally Mike calmed down and stopped shooting his magic out at Mr. Zero.
"Are you quite through?" Zero asked.
"Yeah," Mike said, catching his breath. "I'm through."
"Just the words I've been waiting to hear."
Mr. Zero had a sneaky look on his face. He snapped his fingers and Mike found himself wrapped in chains.
"Oh shoot!" he shouted. "Why do I always let my guard down whenever I'm in a fight with Zero?"
"Because you're not as smart as you think you are, Nesmith," Mr. Zero said. "Natasha, take Nesmith to the tower instead of the dungeon this time. And make sure he doesn't escape. And make sure his friends are unable to help him escape."
"As you wish, master," Natasha said, leading Mike out of the ballroom. Jerry really wanted to punch Zero's lights out, but Davy stopped him.
"Not now," he said. "Besides, you can't throw a decent punch."
"So you're suggesting we sit here and do nothing," Jerry said.
"Do you 'ave any bettah ideas?"
"Yeah, go and kick Zero's butt right now!"
"We'll get fried and we'll get Mike into worse trouble if we do that!"
"That's better than sitting here doing nothing!"
"And that's bettah than going out and getting killed!"
"You have no sense of adventure!"
"I do too! I just don't want to show it in front of Zero!"
"Oooh, Davy, I swear I'm gonna . . . ."
"Hey, hey, hey, cool it!" Camille shouted, stepping between them. "Why do you two always have to fight with each other?"
"Not always," Davy said.
"Just most of the time," Jerry said.
"Listen, you guys," Camille continued. "We've got to regroup and figure out what to do now."
Davy and Jerry had to agree and they followed Camille down the hall, once the coast was clear. Daybreak came. Phyllis was sitting in the kitchen soaking her feet in hot water. Mr. Zero had stepped on them so much during the grand ball, they were immensely sore. Valerie walked inside, saw Phyllis soaking her feet, and whistled.
"Rough night at Zero's big party, huh?" she asked.
"Ha, you don't know the half of it!" Phyllis shouted. "He stepped on my feet all night long. There was this long pause after a few hours. I got out of there as fast as I could."
"So I guess you didn't see Mike."
"Camille, Davy, and Jerry busted him out. And there was a fight during the party, and Mike really gave it to Zero. But the tables turned and now Mike is locked up inside the tower. We're trying to think of a way to get him out."
"How did things get so complicated?"
"It all started when Peter visited that pawn shop."
Phyllis sighed. Mr. Zero suddenly appeared in the room. He turned to Valerie.
"Are we on a coffee break?" he asked. "Get back to work!"
Valerie stood up and walked out of the kitchen. She stifled the urge to throw a cooking pot on Zero's head and bang it with a wooden spoon. She'd let Mike do that later on. Mr. Zero let out a small groan.
"Good help is so hard to find these days," he said. Phyllis just shrugged. She lifted her foot out of the water and began to massage it with her hand.
"Sore from all the dancing, eh?" Mr. Zero asked.
"You might say that," Phyllis said.
"I gathered that. Tell me, why did you marry a man like Nesmith?"
"I have my reasons."
"I'd gather it was for his looks."
"No, not really. I mean, he wasn't really that good looking when I met him. Or married him."
"No. We were married before he became famous."
"Nope. We got married before he discovered he had these powers."
"Don't tell me you got married out of . . . . love."
"I guess that pretty much sums it up."
"You must be joking."
"Nope. We met, dated awhile, and I guess I fell in love with him. And poof!"
Mr. Zero glowered and left. He stormed up to the tower and threw the door open. Mike was shocked to see him, but he got over it quickly.
"Yes?" he asked.
"Tell me something Nesmith," Mr. Zero said. "And I want the truth. Did you honestly marry out of love?"
"Yes, I married out of love! What'd you think, I ask just any old girl to marry me on the first date and see what she'd say?! That's what normal people do when they get married!"
Mr. Zero began to work up some magic to hit Mike with. Instead, he had an idea. He wanted to get Mike really mad, and there wasn't anything Mike could do about it. He couldn't blast him with any magic, due to the chains.
"That is interesting," he said. "People nowadays marry out of looks, money, and power."
"Wrong on all counts, Zero," Mike said. "I looked like a geek when Phyllis and I got married, I wasn't famous so I didn't have any money, and I didn't know I had power until recently."
"Yes, so I've heard. Well then, in your case, it was out of pity!"
Mr. Zero took the liberty of saying that directly in Mike's face, popping the P. Mike managed to reach over and wipe the spit out of his eye.
"Don't do that," he said. "And you're wrong. Phyllis married me because she fell in love with me, not because she pitied me!"
"You may think that now, now that you have fame and fortune."
"You forgot looks."
"You don't have them."
Mike grinded his teeth. But he was determined not to blow a fuse. And knowing Mike, he would blow one, literally.
"You'll lose it all one day," Mr. Zero said. "And don't be surprised if she leaves you."
"I didn't have it all for those two years before the Monkees made it big!" Mike shouted. "And if I did lose it all, I know Phyllis would never leave me because of that!"
"Yes, you're probably right. She'll have even more pity on you than before, and will feel obligated to stay married to you, until she grows tired of you and then she'll leave you."
"She won't! I know she won't! You can ask her yourself!"
"I already have, Nesmith. She told me the exact same thing I told you!"
That did it. Mike sort of growled and screamed at the same time. He shot to his feet and tried to lunge at Zero, but he didn't get very far in the lunge. The chains held him back. What else could Mike do but start screaming bloody murder?
"You're a liar, Zero!" he shouted. "A liar!"
"Flattery will get you nowhere, Nesmith," Mr. Zero said, almost singing. He smiled sneakily and shut the tower door. Mike was writhing around, hoping that would loosen his chains or something, screaming at Mr. Zero.
"I know you too well Zero!" he yelled. "You never tell the truth! I know all you told me was a lie! Do you hear me Zero?! A lie!"
"Save your energy, Nesmith," Mr. Zero said, heading down the stairs. "All you're going to do is exhaust yourself."
Mike stopped writhing around. Mr. Zero did have a point. All Mike was doing was exhausting himself. He sighed and began to relax.
"I think he might be right on that one," he said. "But still I know Phyllis wouldn't just up and leave if I lost all my fame, fortune, and, ahem, good looks."
Mr. Zero laughed sneakily and walked down the stairs. Everybody was cleaning up a storm.
"Didn't we do this yesterday?" Micky asked.
"We did," Reggie said.
"It gets dirty a lot," Mr. Zero said. And then walked off. Jerry and Peter were mopping the hallway.
"Exceptional work, Blavat, but," Mr. Zero said, snapping his fingers. Mud covered the entire hallway. "You missed a spot."
Mr. Zero cracked up and walked away. He had business matters to tend to. Peter stopped Jerry from shoving the mop up Zero's you-know-what. Zero went into the kitchen. Phyllis, Camille, and Sarah were cutting up vegetables. Zero tapped Phyllis on the shoulder.
"Might I see you outside?" he asked.
"All right," Phyllis said. She put down the knife and went outside with Mr. Zero. Sarah picked up a tomato once he was out of earshot.
"This is Mr. Zero," she said to Camille. She picked up her knife. "This is Mr. Zero after Mike gets through with him."
Sarah slammed the knife down onto the tomato over and over until there was nothing left but tomato juice and seeds.
"Any questions?" she asked.
Camille stifled a smile and continued cutting the vegetables. Outside, meanwhile . . . .
"Tell me," Mr. Zero said. "What do you really think of Nesmith? Truthfully."
"Well, he does have his faults," Phyllis admitted.
"He drinks too much, he takes too many pills, and he smokes too much. Sometimes when I kiss him, I feel like I'm kissing an ashtray. Not to mention I could do without all that cursing he does."
"He takes things so literally lately, especially if he loses his temper. If someone says he'll hit the roof if he hears some news or something, he'll shoot into the air like a rocket and literally hit the roof."
"I see. How can you stand that?"
"I guess I'm just used to it."
"I don't see how anyone could stand all those dirty habits of Nesmith."
"Look who's talking."
Mr. Zero was a bit taken at Phyllis's comment. Although he wasn't a pill popper and didn't go overboard with the drinking, every time he popped in and out, smoke filled the room. Nobody knows which is worse: Mike's cigarettes or Mr. Zero's entrances. But as far as personality goes, Mike is an angel compared to Zero.
"Okay, this conversation isn't going as planned," Mr. Zero said finally. "No matter. I'll get right to the point."
"And what would that be?" Phyllis asked.
"Why do you think I've been asking you all these questions on why you would marry a man like Nesmith? He's nothing! I'm so much better than he is."
"What are you getting at, Zero?"
"I was hoping I'd announce this at my ball the other night, but I never got the chance thanks to Blavat and Jones. I had hoped the ball would serve well as an engagement party."
"What do you mean engagement party?"
"I'll make this simple for you. I want you to marry me."
"You heard me?"
"Why do you want to even marry me? That would drive Mike crazy with anger! Or did you know that already?"
"No, I've never thought about that, actually. It is an intriguing idea, however. But my real reason, well, let's just say I'm one of your admirers."
"You have got to be kidding."
"I never kid."
"But you said yourself love is overrated."
"Love the emotion is. Nobody loves things anymore. My definition of love is slightly different. You know what I mean?"
"Yeah, and all I've got to tell you is you're sick. You've got the sickest mind in the world. I won't go through with it, Zero. I'm a perfectly happy married woman."
"You can't refuse me that easily, you know."
"Maybe you didn't notice the ring on my finger, Zero! The answer is no way!"
Phyllis turned and headed for the door. Mr. Zero snapped his fingers and the doors closed and locked. Phyllis pushed on them with all her might, but they wouldn't budge. Mr. Zero advanced toward her.
"I'll put this another way," he growled. "Either you marry me or I'll personally destroy Nesmith!"
"You wouldn't!" Phyllis shouted. "You can't!"
"I would, I can, and I will. You have three minutes to decide the fate of Michael Nesmith."
Phyllis gulped. Three minutes wasn't nearly long enough to make a final decision. She didn't want to marry Zero, but she didn't want Mike to get killed, either. And if Mike found out about this, he'd really get mad. He'd probably kill Zero.
"Two minutes," Mr. Zero said.
Phyllis gulped again. This was probably going to be the hardest decision in her entire life. She thought about Mike. If she knew him, he'd rather die than see Zero force Phyllis to marry him. But she didn't want Zero to destroy him.
"One minute," Mr. Zero said.
Phyllis bit her lower lip. It definitely was a tough decision. Finally, she came to a conclusion.
"All right," she sighed. "You win. I'll marry you."
"I knew you'd see it my way," Mr. Zero said, smiling sneakily. He snapped his fingers and Phyllis's wedding ring disappeared. She was dismissed after that. Zero decided to go torture Mike. He walked up the tower steps and opened the door.
"What do you want this time, Zero?" Mike asked.
"Nothing much, Nesmith," Mr. Zero said. "Just a little something I like to call torture."
Mike was about to ask what Zero had in mind, but he was ahead of the Texan Monkee. The devil snapped his fingers, which caused Mike's wedding ring to melt, right on his hand. The molten gold caused Mike to scream in agony, as it was dripping down his hand.
"Hurts, doesn't it?" Mr. Zero asked, snickering.
"Yeah," Mike said, gnashing his teeth. "Why'd you melt my wedding ring, anyway?"
"I just annulled your marriage."
"You can't do that!"
"I can and I have already. Without those rings, you can't prove you're married."
"Okay, fine. But why have you annulled my marriage, might I ask?"
"So I can marry your wife, why else?"
"You're not serious!"
"I am. And don't sound so surprised. This whole concept was her idea."
"No, it's not true! That's just not true! Phyllis wouldn't come up with somethin' like that! She wouldn't!"
"You'd like to think that. Face it Nesmith, she doesn't love you anymore."
"Well, she certainly doesn't love you, either!"
"It's for all my power. And frankly, I don't mind that at all. Nobody loves anything anymore."
"You liar! You rotten no good liar!"
"And another thing she told me, Nesmith."
"She said she wanted me to make the rest of your days in my tower as painful as possible."
Mr. Zero smiled sneakily and snapped his fingers. Mike felt his wrists and ankles burning, like the shackles had been coated with acid. The burning was too much. Mike let out a blood curdling scream. Mr. Zero left the tower, smiling as sneakily as possible. Phyllis was telling the others about the predicament.
"You WHAT?!" everybody screamed.
"I told Zero that I'd agree to marry him," Phyllis said.
"As in the words of John Roderick Gage," Jerry said. "Oh man!"
"You didn't," Micky said with a sick look to his face.
"I did," Phyllis replied.
"I repeat," Jerry said. "Oh man!"
"Well, what did you guys expect me to do?!" Phyllis shouted. "Zero said if I didn't marry him, he'd kill Mike!"
"She's got a good point, there," Davy said. "I guess we can't expect you to do anything about this."
"What are we gonna do now?" Jerry asked. "We're in a jam and we need to buy some time until Mike can break out of the tower."
"He's got a good point," Peter said. "And we certainly can't give Zero a run for his money. Only Michael can do that."
"We need a good idea," Jerry said. "A really good idea."
"Yeah, but that's the one thing we don't have," Reggie said.
It looked hopeless. The preparations for the wedding were taking longer than Zero had anticipated. He hated everything his crew came up with. Everybody was thankful for that. It was a good stall until Mike was able to get free. But it was sheer aggravation to see Zero blow his top.
"If you want something done right, do it yourself!" he shouted. "YOU CALL YOUSELVES SERVANTS?! This is pathetic!"
"Well excuse me for living and breathing," Quackerjack said to Davy. "I thought he'd prefer dead roses for this thing since he thinks love is so overrated."
"Well," Davy said. "I guess we undahestimated 'im, mate."
Quackerjack just nodded.
The entire preparations were driving everyone out of their minds. Finally, Zero got everything into working order. The ceremony was to be held the next afternoon. Jerry hoped Mike would find a way out of the tower. All in all, things looked grim.
Mike wasn't doing to well in the meantime. He was dying to get out of the tower and kick Zero's butt, but he couldn't. Unless there was a miracle. As he was struggling to slip his hand out of the chains, the door opened. There was a hooded figure standing in the doorway.
"You're not who I think you are, are you?" Mike asked.
"No," the figure said, pulling off the hood. "I'm Lady Mary. I've come to help you. I brought the key to the chains."
"You are a life saver!" Mike shouted. "Tell me what's been goin' on."
"Zero's planning on getting married to your wife in less than an hour. You really have to stop him."
"I know I do. Because if I know Zero, after this stunt, he's gonna go for Peter's soul."
"I can't understand why he wants to get married anyway, since he says love is overrated."
"That sort of love is to him. He wants to marry her for the uhh, how do I put this? Love making."
"You mean he just wants to marry Phyllis so he can have sex with her?"
"Uhh, yeah, you basically got the right idea. Yeah."
"I'LL KILL HIM!"
"Shhhh! Take it easy, Mike. There's time to stop this whole thing."
"I know. I know. Let's get goin'."
"There. I've unlocked the chains. Let's go."
Mike and Mary ran down that old loooooong flight of stairs. They didn't have any time to spare. If he could transport himself, he and Mary would be at the alter in no time, but he didn't know exactly how that spell worked, so he didn't even try it. He'd probably take them to Timbuktu and then who knows what would happen. As Mike and Mary ran down the stairs, the wedding was about to begin. Winifred started to play "Here Comes the Bride" and Peter was bawling at the top of his lungs.
"Peter, you're spoiling the mood," Micky said.
"I can't help it," Peter replied. "I always cry at weddings."
"He's got a point," Reggie said. "Man, I just hope Mike shows up."
"I hope so too," Micky said.
Phyllis started marching down the aisle. Most brides are happy on their wedding day. Phyllis was truly down in the dumps. Mr. Zero took no notice. He was doing everything remotely possible to make Mike miserable, and this was definitely the biggest thing he could do. Daniel was doing the minister's job.
"If there's anyone who thinks these two shouldn't be wed, let them speak now," he said. Jerry was about to stand up and scream his objections at the top of his lungs.
"Anyone who does speak now will regret it for the rest of their lives, Blavat!" Mr. Zero said.
"Do you take Mr. Zero as your lawfully wedded husband blah, blah, blah?" Daniel asked.
"I . . . I . . ." Phyllis stammered. All eyes were on her. Mr. Zero was starting to gloat inwardly.
"Just say 'I do' and get on with it, blondie," Agatha muttered.
"I don't!" Phyllis shouted.
Everyone was certainly surprised to hear that! Phyllis's words seemed to echo through the room.
"What?" Mr. Zero asked, stunned.
"I said I don't!" Phyllis shouted. "I can't marry you, Zero. I don't love you! I love Mike! A marriage should be based on love, not looks, money, or power!"
"You . . . you can't do that! We had a deal!"
"Well I'm sorry, Zero, but I can't marry you and I won't! I said it before and I'll say it again. I love Mike!"
"That may be all well and good for you, my dear, but does Nesmith love you?"
"Darn right I do!" a Texan drawl shouted from the rafters. Mike jumped down to the floor. Jerry jumped out of his chair and let out a delighted scream.
"Yahoo!" he shouted.
"Cool your jets, Jerry," Mike said. "You're gonna pay for this entire thing, Zero."
"Oh, I'm so scared," Mr. Zero said, sarcastically. He stifled a yawn.
"You should be," Mike said in a low tone. It sent shivers up Peter's spine.
Mike thrust his hands forward and shot his magic at Zero. In return, Mr. Zero shot his magic back at Mike, but more powerfully. Mike ducked once, and then cracked his knuckles. He pointed his index finger and gave Zero a good blast.
"Resourceful, Nesmith," Mr. Zero said. "But not good enough!"
Mr. Zero created his own magic. Mike jumped out of the way and blocked Zero's beam with his own.
"Just how long can you hold out, Nesmith?" he asked. Mike didn't answer. He just saw that Phyllis was in the clear.
"Phyllis, run!" he shouted. "Get out of here now!"
Phyllis didn't ask any questions, she just ran. That diverted Mr. Zero's attention. His magic ceased, causing Mike to fall since he was bracing himself against the magic. He regained his composure and pointed his index finger.
"Here's magic in your eye!" he shouted. Magic shot out and again, Mr. Zero was clobbered.
"I don't have time for this!" he shouted. "Come to me, my minions! Attack that infernal Nesmith and his friends!"
The trolls jumped into the battle. Mike threw his best shots at them, but nothing was stopping them.
"We can't sit there and let Mike do all the fighting," Jerry said.
"'E's right," Davy said.
"Da-da-da-da-da-da!" Quackerjack shouted, imitating a trumpet.
"CHARGE!" Sarah shouted.
The others jumped into the battle, throwing punches, kicking, biting, anything they could do. Mike began toasting them with his magic, but it wasn't working very well. The trolls practically had everybody on the run.
"We can't hold them off much longer!" Micky shouted.
"Zero's magic is too strong!" Drake shouted.
"We're running out of options here," Jerry said.
"What are we going to do?" Valerie asked.
"I know exactly what to do!" Mike shouted.
Mike put his fingers to his temples and concentrated as hard as he could. He slowly spread his hands out, and clapped them together. Thunder and lightning were produced out of nowhere, and surrounded the trolls. That did it. The power Mike created let out so much force that the trolls were not only stunned, but destroyed. Bubbles formed around them and they slowly changed back to normal people. Everyone was unconscious.
"We'd bettah leave them like that," Davy said.
"They should be all right after a few hours," Mike said.
"You may have won the battle Nesmith," Mr. Zero said, running out of the room. "But the war is not over, yet!"
"After him!" Mike shouted.
Mike, Davy, and Jerry ran after Zero. It was obvious what he was going to do. He didn't take rejection that easily. He still was determined to marry Phyllis and make Mike's life miserable. Phyllis probably hadn't made it very far in her running. After all, she was wearing high heels, and they weren't that easy to run it. Mike hoped she paused to take them off.
"Where'd 'e go?" Davy asked.
"Don't look at me," Jerry said. "I'm not a psychic. Mike, this is your department."
Mike went down a corridor and hoped he got lucky. He did. The minute he, Davy, and Jerry ran into the doorway, he saw Phyllis climbing up the steps, trying to catch up with Phyllis, who was doing a pretty good job of running in high heels.
"Stop him!" Mike shouted.
Davy and Jerry jumped and they tackled Zero to the ground. But he was still in the battle. He grabbed Phyllis's ankle and held as tightly as he could. Phyllis tried to pull free but it didn't do her much good.
"Good try, Nesmith!" Mr. Zero said.
"On the contrary," Mike said. "Davy and Jerry have you right where I want you."
Mike waved one of his hands in a circle and produced a small, but powerful thundercloud. He snapped his fingers and lightning flashed down, right on Zero's hand, causing him to let go of Phyllis's ankle. Zero screamed and Mike ran over him to Phyllis.
"Come on," he said taking her hand. "We're gettin' out of here. Davy, Jerry, hold him down as long as you can."
"Check mate!" Davy shouted.
"Is that a chess joke?" Jerry asked.
"Oh shut up!"
Davy climbed onto Zero's back and threw himself down. Zero let out some sort of groan when he did. He started to stand up, but Jerry threw himself into Zero's back and sent him flying into the stairs. Zero wasn't going to take this. He snapped his fingers and Davy and Jerry were hoisted into the air.
"Uh oh," Davy said.
"Pleasant nightmares, boys," Mr. Zero said. He brought his hands together, causing Davy and Jerry to fly into each other, resulting in their heads smacking into one another.
"Ouch!" Davy shouted.
"Ahhh!" Jerry screamed. Mr. Zero brought them down hard.
Zero chuckled and ran up the stairs to follow Mike and Phyllis. Even though it wasn't the best of plans, it did give Mike and Phyllis a good lead. He followed them directly to the roof of the castle.
"Round two is over, Zero," Mike said. "You lost."
"Yes, but this is round three," Mr. Zero replied. "And you won't win this time.
Mike gave Mr. Zero the biggest dose of magic he could muster. Mr. Zero dodged and fought back. Everybody else tried to stay out of the way. Phyllis ran toward the others, as if they could provide a safety zone. But it wasn't safe enough. Zero's minions were sneaking up behind them. They were about to lunge when a frying pan smacked on their heads one by one.
"Hello," Mary said. "My name's Lady Mary, I'll be your protector tonight."
"Boy, I'm glad to see someone on our side!" Reggie shouted. Daniel recovered quickly and gave Mary a blast with his magic. She hit Davy and caused an entire domino effect.
"Take that, goody two shoes!" Daniel shouted.
"And you take this!" Sarah shouted, giving Daniel a karate chop to the shoulder. He went down almost immediately.
"Phyllis, you've got to get as far away from Zero and his henchmen as possible," Mary replied, regaining her senses. "Zero won't give you up without a fight."
"Neither will Mike, apparently," Sarah said. "But I agree with Mary. Get out of here!"
"Right!" Phyllis shouted.
Phyllis started to run, but she didn't get very far. Daniel grabbed her arms and held her with an iron grip.
"Mike!" she shouted. Right away she wished she hadn't done that. Mike diverted his attention, and Zero zapped him. Mike screamed and fell to the ground.
"The tables have turned, Nesmith," he said. He created a small, but powerful magic ball on his index finger. "Time to end it now."
Jerry couldn't take it any longer. He picked up a rock lying on the ground, swung it over his head, and threw it at Zero. It hit him on the back of his head, causing him to lose his deadly magic ball. That gave Mike a chance to rescue Phyllis from her captors.
"Yyyesss!" Jerry shouted. "Right in the back of the head! Nailed it!"
"You!" Zero shouted. He grabbed Jerry by the shirt collar. "You! That was the last straw, Blavat! I've had it with you always spoiling my best laid plans to destroy Nesmith!"
Mr. Zero threw Jerry against the wall, head first. He started shooting him with all the magic he had. Jerry tried his best to fight them off, but it didn't work too well. After awhile, Zero gave up on the magic and began fighting using brute force. He seemed to have the strength of a hundred men. He gave Jerry a left to the face and a right to the stomach. The fight was starting to get brutal after that. Zero went between a mix of fisticuffs and black magic. Either way, Jerry was getting a very severe beating. Zero did let up a bit after awhile. Jerry was a mess. He had two black eyes, bruises all over his arms, his shirt was torn, and there were small cuts all around his body.
"Time to end it, Blavat," Mr. Zero said. He snapped his fingers and produced a knife. He smiled wickedly and aimed for Jerry's throat.
"Hold it!" Mike shouted. "That does it, I've had enough!"
Mike snapped his fingers and a ball of magic appeared in his hands. He threw it at Mr. Zero. Zero dodged both attacks, picked up the knife, and threw it. Mike abut it scraped one side of his face. Then, like a boomerang, the knife came back, and scraped other side. Mike staggered backwards, tripped, and fell to the ground.
"Now for you, Blavat," he said. Mr. Zero snapped his fingers, and sent Jerry into the wall.
Once Jerry fell to the ground, Mr. Zero took his knife and raised it. If Mike hadn't stepped in then, Zero would have slit Jerry's throat for sure.
"Stop!" Mike yelled, tackling Zero. The tackle did move the knife away from Jerry's throat, but it hit him in the shoulder instead. Jerry let out the most blood curdling scream in the entire world, and then passed out. Mike gasped.
"You . . . you . . . you monster!" he shouted at Zero.
"Is that the best you can do, Nesmith?" he asked.
"It was the only thing I could think of you dirty son of a --"
"Please, no flattery. It will get you nowhere, Nesmith."
Mike lunged. Zero snapped his fingers, and Mike stopped cold in his tracks. He couldn't move.
"Temporary paralysis," Mr. Zero said. "Got to love it."
Mr. Zero laughed and walked around a bit. He looked over Jerry for a moment.
"You are a fool, Blavat," he said. "You shouldn't have meddled in affairs that weren't yours."
As a final blow, Mr. Zero created the ball of black magic on his finger, and zapped Jerry's other shoulder with it. It cut the skin, and blood appeared out of it. He laughed as he walked away. Quackerjack and Camille ran over to him. Quackerjack tore off a piece of his shirt and tied it around Jerry's arm. Finally, Zero reached his men. Mike wasn't able to do anything about Daniel or Natasha. They still held Phyllis.
"Excellent work," Mr. Zero said, taking Phyllis from them. "I think we overstayed our welcome. Let's leave."
All of Mr. Zero's minions gathered around their master as he snapped his fingers. They disappeared without a trace, with Phyllis. The temporary paralysis wore off and Mike nearly fell flat on his face.
"Now he's gone too far," he said, shaking his head. "Come on, you guys. Let's go inside and we'll think about our next move."
Micky and Reggie walked over and helped Mike and Davy get Jerry inside the old castle.
"We'd better get those cuts he's got bandaged," Mary said. "I don't think those strips of fabric will do much to keep him from losing blood."
Davy took off his shirt (Davy Devotees, start your droolers!) and tore it into strips. Mike snapped his fingers and a roll of bandages appeared in his hands.
"We won't need your shirt, Davy," he said.
"Well, then," Davy said. "Zap me up a bucket of cold watah, mate. I'll dip me shirt in it and put it ovah Jerry's face. In case you 'aven't noticed, he's got some bad bruises there, 'e does."
Mike nodded and snapped his fingers again. He gave Reggie the bandages and he got to work. When they were done, Jerry had bandages around his arms, legs, chest, and head. Davy tied a couple of pieces of his shirt together, folded them, and dipped them in the bucket of water Mike and conjured for him. Then he placed it over Jerry's eyes. Reggie began a routine examination.
"I can tell you now he's in bad shape," Reggie said. "But I'm no doctor. I just have a PH.D. He lost a lot of blood during the fight, bruises everywhere, heavy bleeding,a good dose of magical power, several blows to the head . . . ."
"Just what we needed to hear," Quackerjack said, sarcastically. "Is there anything you can do for him, Mike?"
"I'm gonna track down Zero, and I'm gonna fight him," Mike said. "He's not gonna get away with this! Maybe once I get rid of Zero, we'll be able to find a spell to help Jerry."
"Good luck, Mike," Drake said.
"Thanks, Drake," Mike said.
"You have to find Zero, Mike," Quackerjack said. "We're all counting on you."
"I won't let you or the others down, Quackerjack," Mike said, walking out of the room. "I'm sure somewhere, Phyllis is countin' on me to come rescue her from Zero. And I won't let her down, either. I'll be back. I promise."
Mike walked out of the room and up to the roof. He hoped he would find Mr. Zero and put an end to all of this. That was his goal. And he wasn't going to stop until it was completed. Mr. Zero, in the meantime, had zapped himself to his own private world. It wasn't down below. Zero had created his own private playground in an alternate universe.
"Nesmith can't help Blavat in any way possible," he said. "Magic can not heal wounds or cure the common cold or restore life. Even I can't restore life!"
Phyllis was in the room as well. She glared at Zero. His private world completely freaked her out. Zero's private castle looked like it hadn't been cleaned in years, since there were cobwebs in the corners and spiders crawling up the walls. She also wasn't thrilled with Zero.
"You're a creep," she said finally. "You know that don't you?"
"Thank you ever so much for noticing," Mr. Zero replied. "Now I know your opinion of me."
"That's not exactly my opinion of you. My opinion is something much worse that saying you're a creep. Much, much worse than that."
"I know what you mean. You think the same way about me as I do of Nesmith, is that it?"
"Yeah. That's about it."
Mr. Zero nodded. In the meantime, Mike was retracing his steps on the roof. If he could stand exactly where Zero was when he vanished into thin air, he could channel his powers to take him directly to Zero. He walked around, trying to get a vision of the fight that took place twenty minutes earlier. He closed his eyes and placed his fingers to his temples.
"Please show me a vision," he said. "Show me the fight twenty minutes ago."
A bubble of some sort appeared in front of Mike, showing him the fight. He saw Zero beat the living daylights out of Jerry and immediately grimaced.
"Please don't show me this part!" he shouted. The vision fast forward to Mike lunging at Zero and then stopping him with the temporary paralysis. Then came the part where Zero and his minions disappeared. Mike walked over to the exact same spot, and folded his arms across his chest so his hands touched his shoulders.
"This is gonna be my first teleportation," he said. "I just hope I do it right."
Mike sighed, swallowed hard, and closed his eyes. He got his fingers into a snapping position.
"Take me to Mr. Zero!" he shouted, snapping his fingers. In a puff of smoke, Mike disappeared, just as Mr. Zero did. He reappeared in the middle of Zero's throne room, sending smoke all over the place. Mr. Zero, Phyllis, and Mike coughed and waved it away.
"And you said I had to cut down on my smoking!" Zero shouted.
"Give me a break!" Mike yelled, between coughs. "It was my first teleportation! Natch it would get a little smokey in here!"
"Your first teleportation, huh? Well, too bad it's going to be your last!"
Mr. Zero aimed his finger and shot magic out at Mike. He ducked at that moment and threw some more magic at Zero.
"I'm gonna give it to you, Zero!" Mike shouted. "As if a hostile takeover wasn't bad enough. I was a little ticked off there. I really got ticked when I heard you were flirtin' with my wife. Then you went and said you were gonna marry her, and I got really steamed. And after what you did to Jerry . . . ."
"Blavat should have staid out of my business," Mr. Zero said. "He wasn't there when I purchased Peter's soul you know."
"But still . . . . and now, you're gonna pay for all of this!"
"Wrong, Nesmith. You're the one that is going to pay. You're going to pay for my defeat!"
Mr. Zero leaned back and got ready to throw his black magic at Mike. Mike ducked once more and shot his own magic out. Phyllis ran behind Zero's throne to stay out of the way of magic particles. She hoped Mike would come out of this alive, which was more than anybody could say for Jerry.
"As much as I hate to say it," Reggie said. "We'd better start to prepare for the worse."
"You can't," Quackerjack said.
"We have to. It's the only thing we can do. I don't think Jerry will last much longer."
"Especially not after the beating Zero gave him," Sarah replied.
That was all it took for Peter to start crying, again. The others weren't too surprised. Peter Tork was known for even crying at card tricks!
"I wonder how Mike's doing, anyway?" Drake asked.
Apparently, Mike and Zero hadn't left the throne room. The magic was being thrown right and left. Mike needed a good barrier. Being out in the open with Zero blasting at him didn't do much for his morale. However, Phyllis was getting ideas of her own. She saw Zero's crystal ball, picked it up, and threw it. It hit Zero on the head and smashed it to thousands of pieces.
"You!" Zero shouted. "How dare you!"
"You've got bigger problems than a broken crystal," Phyllis said. "Look behind you!"
Mike sent his magic at Zero. It hit him in the jaw and sent him flying into the wall. He was knocked out cold.
"Yee-haw!" Mike shouted, running to Phyllis. "What a great diversion!"
"I saw Jerry hurl that rock at Zero," Phyllis said. "That's where I got the idea."
"Come on. Let's head back to Pleasant Valley. Hold on tight, baby. I don't want to lose you in the transition."
Phyllis wrapped her arms around Mike's waist and held as tightly as she could. Mike cross his arms, closed his eyes, and prepared his fingers.
"Take us to Pleasant Valley!" he shouted. He snapped his fingers and in a puff of smoke, he and Phyllis returned to the roof.
"Now let's see how Jerry's doin'," Mike said.
"Easier said than done, Nesmith!" an all too familiar voice called out. Smoke filled the area and there stood Zero.
"But I thought I knocked you out cold!" Mike shouted, utterly shocked.
"You did," Mr. Zero said. "But you can't keep a good devil down."
"There's no such thing as a good devil."
Mr. Zero glared at his adversary, and snapped his finger. A sword appeared in his hands.
"This means war, Nesmith," he said.
"If that's the way you want to play it," Mike said, snapping his fingers. A sword appeared in his own hands. "En garde!"
The fight was on. Mr. Zero was pretty good at handling the sword. Mike had never used a sword in his life, but now was not the time to worry about it. Phyllis backed off from them. She didn't want to get in the line of fire, and Mike didn't want her in the line of fire, anyway.
"What's the matter, Nesmith?" Mr. Zero asked, as he clinked his sword against Mike's. "Am I too much for you?"
"Never!" Mike shouted. He did his best to block Zero's sword with his, but that alone was hard work.
Mr. Zero laughed wickedly. He snapped his fingers and knocked Mike's sword out of his hands. Then, he hit Mike with a beam of magic and Mike fell to the ground. The blast had knocked the wind out of him.
"Oh no!" Phyllis shouted. "Mike!"
"You should be concerned, my dear," Mr. Zero laughed. "This is the end of Nesmith as you know it!"
The only strength Mike had at the time was to catch his breath. He couldn't get up. And there was Zero, pointing the sword right at his back.
Back inside the castle, things weren't much better. There was absolutely nothing anyone could do now.
"I guess that's the end," Reggie said, dejectedly. "This is the end of civilization as we know it."
Davy heaved a sigh and walked over to Jerry. He looked at him for a long time and then finally sat down.
"Oh, Jerry," he said. "You can't do this to us. All of us. I know you and I nevah really got along, but that's all in the past. I mean, yeah, you and I are bound to 'ave our disagreements, but who doesn't? And we probably aren't going to get along, eithah, but you just can't go. You've got too much to live for, mate. It's like Mike always says, love is powah. And you possess that powah. It's in your music, Geatah. Like you always say, programmed from the 'eart, not a research chart. That's love of music. And you know what else? Mike said to Zero way back when if you love music, you can play music. That applied to Petah and 'is harp. But you show a different kind of love for the music. You play the music that you love, and that's definitely the powah of love I'm telling you. The powah of love Mike talks about. You 'ave that powah mate."
Davy put his hand Jerry's shoulder and squeezed it. Meanwhile, Mr. Zero came awfully close to stabbing the sword into Mike's back. But something came over him. He felt as if he had lost a lot of his power.
"What's happening?!" he shouted. "This can't happen to me!"
Mr. Zero dropped the sword onto the ground and tried to regain his senses. Mike had finally regained his and stood up.
"I don't know what happened," he said. "But I'm glad it did!"
Mike raised his hands, like Michelle when she was deep submerging somebody. Magic balled in his hands, and he tossed it at Mr. Zero. It hit him with such great force, he flew right through the wall.
"Yyeessss!" Mike shouted.
"Strike!" Phyllis laughed.
Back inside the castle, meanwhile, Davy stood up and leaned against the wall. Then the most miraculous thing happened. Jerry's eyes fluttered open and he looked around, vision sligtly fuzzy.
"Wh-what's going on?" he asked, a little dazedly.
"Jerry!" Davy shouted, surprised.
"You're alive!" Camille shouted.
"Thank goodness!" Peter shouted. He ran over to Jerry and hugged him.
"Would someone mind telling me what's going on?" Jerry asked, pushing Peter off of him.
"We'll explain the details later," Drake said. "We've got to help Mike!"
Sarah and Peter helped Jerry get up and they led him up the stairs. They made it to the roof to see Mr. Zero regain his senses and crawl out of the wall. He noticed the others coming through the door.
"Well, well," he said. "If it isn't the peanut gallery. I thought you'd all be inside weeping over Blavat's destruction."
"If I had destructed, they would be," Jerry said. "But I haven't."
"You're alive?! But how? Nobody could have survived what I did to you!"
"Hey, I've been near death all afternoon. Don't ask me to explain how I can be alive."
Mr. Zero grinded his teeth together and threw a magic beam at him. Luckily Davy and Sarah were still holding on to him. They ducked down, dragging Jerry with them. The beam sailed past them, fortunately.
"Very resourceful, guys," Jerry said, with a groan. "But I think you damaged me further."
"Sorry," Sarah said.
"I'll take care of you later, Blavat," Mr. Zero said. "I have bigger fish to fry."
Mike growled. And shot all the magic he could at Zero. It didn't do much. Zero just blocked it off with his own magic. The fight wasn't going well. Mike finally exhausted himself, which is just what Zero was waiting for. Mike stopped to catch his breath, and that was the moment Zero blasted his most powerful magic at Mike. The Texan flew into the wall and collapsed.
"Say goodbye, Nesmith!" Zero shouted. He blasted Mike with his power. Mike screamed out and then collapsed into a lifeless heap.
"No!" Phyllis cried, running to him. "Mike! Please, wake up! Please, Mike! Please!"
"It won't do you any good to beg," Mr. Zero replied. "He's gone."
"You killed him!" Sarah shouted.
"Yes. I'm quite pleased that I did," Mr. Zero gloated. "Now, there's no stopping me now!"
Jerry wanted to throttle Zero. The only problem with that was he couldn't exactly walk very well, due to what Zero did to him. Drake grinded his teeth together and walked over to Zero.
"You heartless beast!" he shouted.
"Flattery won't get you anywhere," Zero said. He started walking off.
"You've forgotten one thing Zero!" Phyllis shouted. Mr. Zero turned around and looked at her.
Phyllis picked Mike's torso up, leaned down, and gave him the biggest, most passionate kiss known to man. During the kiss, Mike's arms wrapped around Phyllis and he started kissing her. Once they let go, Mike stood up and looked at Zero.
"I said it once," he said. "And I'll say it again. Baby, in the final analysis, love is power!"
Mike then moved his hands in some fancy patterns and threw all sorts of magic at Zero. It was too much for him. Mike then threw Zero from the castle and opened a hole in the middle of the sky. Zero fell into it. The hole led down below, where Zero belonged.
"You haven't won yet, Nesmith!" he shouted, as the hole was sucking him down. "One of these days, I'll get you! You haven't seen the last of me! Tork's soul will be mine! And you, Blavat! You won't be so lucky the next time I tangle with you!"
With that, Mr. Zero was sucked into the hole and it closed. Everything became normal after that. The sun rose over Pleasant Valley and all the people Mr. Zero turned into trolls woke up and went out onto the roof.
"What happened?" one woman asked.
"Everything's a blur," a man replied.
"I'll explain everything, everybody," Mary replied. "Where's Jack?"
"Right here," Prince Jack replied. "Mary, what happened?"
"You have just been subject to a hostile takeover," Mary explained. "Luckily, Mike stopped Mr. Zero from it."
"It was no big deal," Mike said. "Zero and I just have this ongoin' fight that I'm tryin' to end."
"I guess we owe everything to you, Mike," Jack said. "We'd be honored if you and your friends would join us for a celebration."
"Thanks but no thanks, buddy. I'd really like to get Jerry home and into Rampart. Zero kind of took it a little hard on him."
"I understand. Maybe another time. I'll take a rain check."
Mike nodded and shook Jack's hand. Then everybody got on the next flight back to Los Angeles.
"You okay, Jerry?" Mike asked.
"I will be once Dr. Brackett gets a hold of me," Jerry said. "I tell ya, Mr. Zero's a one man firing squad!"
"One thing I'm never going to understand, Mike," Phyllis said. "Is how Zero lost his powers so suddenly."
"You didn't tell us that," Micky said.
"Yeah, he did," Mike said. "So suddenly, too. I'm wonderin' how it happened."
"Hey, Davy?" Drake asked. "Do you think it had to do with something you said to Jerry right before he woke up?"
"Could be," Davy said. "I told 'im that 'e possessed that powah of love through 'is music."
"You mean that?" Jerry asked.
"Yeah. I mean that."
Davy smiled and walked over to Jerry. He sat down next to him and gave him a swat on the shoulder.
"Ouch!" Jerry shouted. "Ah jeez! That hurt! Oooohhhh!"
"Sorry! Sorry!" Davy shouted, turning red. Everybody laughed.
"That's probably what happened," Mike said. "Davy said love is power, and poof! Zero lost his powers. Love over powers his powers. It's very understandable. Cause, baby, in the final analysis, love is power."
Everyone had to agree with Mike on that one. They made it back to LA in a matter of hours. Davy and Sarah took Jerry to Rampart. Everybody else went home.
"Do you honestly think love is power, Mike?" Phyllis asked, while she and Mike were on the way to their house.
"Sure I do," Mike said. "Man, when I heard what Zero was up to, I was determined to stop him. You wouldn't believe how angry I was."
"I think I can guess. I know it doesn't take much to make you really mad, Mike."
"I know. And when it comes to Zero, I get madder by the second. And when I get mad, my magic really begins to shoot up there."
"I'm glad it does."
Mike smiled and kissed Phyllis. In all that ever happened between him and Zero, one thing always staid the same. Mike believed love was power, and you needed love to love. And nothing was going to change his mind.