“Pancakes on the streets of London! Pancakes on the streets of Birmingham!” the brassy anchorman roared. From her secret hideout on Bakersville Road, the sultry, shadowy spy known only as 99.9 snapped her TV set to the off position. It was only a matter of time now. As she sat sultrily in the shadows of her contrasty flat, her eyes narrowed, her nose flattened, her chin became intolerant. Her face was the face of beauty, her body the face of her body. Many a heart had been broken by 99.9, many a gall bladder burst. Many a lower intestine eviscerated, many a spleen spelunked. She was an equal opportunity organ destroyer. And she had never cried, except once, to prove to herself that she could. She was like a machine. A beautiful machine, like an attractive rock tumbler or an alluring soldering iron. Just as she anticipated, her bowl of porridge began ringing like a cow, if cows rang like porridge. She lifted the bowl of porridge to her ear, nodded and said, “I’m on it.” Then she hung up the porridge and sleekly exited the flat.

99.9 was well known in spy circles as a specialist in food-related espionage. Perhaps her most infamous case was when she thwarted the evil Clem Brulee; a villain nicknamed the Napoleon of Desserts. His attempts to whip the Pacific Ocean into a thick cream and then set it on fire were no match for 99.9’s wits and way with a dart gun. Ever since that triumph, she had been the go-to agent for any covert confectionary contrivances. Admittedly, all this food work was beginning to get a little stale, and she vowed this would be the last edible assignment she accepted. But this assignment was too delicious to pass up.

Comically oversized flapjacks flipped over metropolitan cityscapes? It could only be one culprit: the failed artist turned food terrorist Biz Quisto. Quisto was a mysterious character who snuck into highly populated cities and blanketed them in egantic pancakes. The motive was unknown, but even more unknowner was who Biz Quisto was and how he was able to place these pancakes in heavily populated areas undetected. He truly put the syrup in syrup-titious.

99.9 didn’t care about Biz Quisto’s motive. She accepted it as one of the great mysteries of the universe, like why dolphins lay eggs or why fire hydrants lay eggs. She wasn’t concerned with such piffle. The piffle she concerned herself with was how he did it, and who he was, and how was she going to stop him. Those were the three primary piffles. Only the infinity of the depths of a man’s mind could fathom the answer to the unanswerable. And then, there was the taste. It was bad enough the pancakes enveloped entire city blocks, but to add insult to injury they were bland and chewy. Clearly, Biz Quisto was a failed artist and failed pancake chef. Clearly, a madman. Clearly.

99.9 arrived via jetpack and alighted atop the toppest flapjack, face to face with the face of Big Ben. No casualties had been reported yet, aside from the casualties of the palate to those who tried to eat the pancakes. As she wobbled from to to fro and fro to to, 99.9 surveyed her breakfastial surroundings. Something seemed off about this particular batch of hotcakes, and it wasn’t just the aftertaste. Then, she heard it. The ticking. 99.9 had initially thought it was just Big Ben ticking off the seconds of the London day, but it was coming from inside the stack of cakes. But where? She knelt down, pressed her ear to the surface and heard the soothing waves of the ocean as one generally does when listening to pancakes. But when she listened closer, she heard what she feared. The ticking was still muffled, but getting clearer. And faster. Too late, 99.9 scrambled like an omelet toward the horizon of the pancake, catching the heels of her shoes in the cake. After a flapjack face plant, she rose, kicking off her shoes and trying to reach the ground before-



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