Oona Phlegming did not look down. Her super spy training at Hush Hush Intelligence Academy for Ladies had taught her how to defuse a time bomb with Snozzberry Smoke eyeliner, how to negotiate ductwork in a bridesmaid uniform and never to ever, ever look down when hanging from a great height.

While tailing Fred Herring’s flying cell phone kiosk over enemy waters, she had been fired upon and forced to eject from her flying pint container of New York style potato salad. Now she was tangled at the top of a tree in the jungles of Parmistan, open to any manner of attackers. Snipers. Vipers. Navy Seals. Navy Blazers. Green Berets. Raspberry Berets. Assassins, muggers, white collar criminals, pirates, Vikings, killer sharks, killer bees, killer Boris Karloffs, paparazzi, vampires, mosquitoes, really tall men with pointy, pointy sticks and the heartbreak of psoriasis.

Suddenly, a twig snapped. A bird chirped. A gorilla nodded knowingly. A frog pretended she was a lawyer. And a stargazer lily continued to smell good. Oona Phlegming, throwing caution to the wind like a dandelion being thrown to the quickly moving air, did something that ran counter to all of her training and all of her instincts. She looked down.

It turned out she was hanging barely three feet from the ground. And, crouching behind a nearby zebra was Fred Herring, grasping the elusive and dangerous Emoti-swoom bomb. The bomb itself was designed to release the mysterious and devastatingly depressing Serum Sincerum, said to saddlepate the brainpan of anyone unluckily exposed to it. The Serum Sincerum’s origins were unknown. Scientists had carbon-dated the satchel it had been found in to fifteen kazillion years into the future. The satchel had been snatchelled from its hidey hole in the Library of Kong-Rest, on Skull Island. Fred Herring had been photographed at the scene, and Oona Phlegming dispatched sparingly to retrieve the Serum.

The Serum Sincerum’s powers were not to be trifled, or truffled, but terrifyled. It was purported to be made of the milk of belittled goats, the juice of neglected grapes, the sap from emotionally scarred birch trees and the tears of unhappy musicians from Ireland and Omaha, Nebraska. One minor spill could cause an entire continent to curl up into a ball and weep uncontrollably for a century. But the Emoti-swoom bomb would release toxic levels of the Serum, bumming out the entire galaxy at once, like a simultaneous visit to Aunt Francine’s. Oona Phlegming could not let this happen. She reached for her turkey baster, which was a laser machine gun in disguise. But as she was about to unsheathe it from her ankle, it slipped from her fingers, hit the ground and fired, dislodging Oona from the branches.

Untangling herself from her parachute, Oona Phlegming could hear the nasal cackle of Fred Herring. “Hoist by your own potato salad,” he said. “It is to cackle.”

“Stuff your cackles, Herring, and hand over the Emoti-swoom bomb, by order of the Sylvanian Prime Meringuery!” Oona shouted, as she finally freed herself from herself. But Fred Herring was gone. The only thing remaining behind the zebra, besides the fine Parmistanian jungle, was the Emoti-swoom bomb. Too late, Oona Phlegming realized the bomb was counting down milliseconds until-



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