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The sun broke bright and early over the horizon of the first day of summer, shining down over the city of Danville, rousing the people to wake and face the new day.

None were more excited than the children of the city, though, at the prospect of an upcoming hundred-and-four days free of any sort of responsibility to do with the benches in school or homework or anything of the sort.

And none of the children could possibly have been more excited than the Doofenshmirtz siblings, both waking far earlier and more willingly than their mother had been able to wrangle out of them during all the long days of the school season. (Though Charlene herself would hardly be being if she tried to claim that she, too, wasn’t relieved at least a little bit have that little bit of work lifted off her shoulders for the upcoming season.)

“What do you want do today, sis?” Norm asked loudly, firmly pushing down the cardboard box-mask over his head, adjusting it til his view out of the holes he’d cut so carefully in it was… nearly unobscured. He wasn’t likely to get better than that anyway. “Today is going to be an excellent day!”

“You still going to wear that thing?” Vanessa said. “Doesn’t it get annoying?”

“Of course! I am a robot, you know.”

“Right.” Vanessa blinked, the sarcasm draining from her eyes. She couldn’t stay bothered at her brother for long, not now – not on the first day of summer. There was too much they could do, after all, and considering how last summer had gone…

Norm frowned behind his mask. “Come on – you know Mom is going to make us eat breakfast before we go out. We ought to hurry.”

“Right. Race you to the table, then, slowpoke!”

Though it was race purportedly to the breakfast table only, the effect was one much greater than even that. For after cereal was consumed, and dishes and tables cleaned to Charlene’s satisfaction, at last the children could ditch the house for good in favor the dawning inaugural day of summer.

(At least until they got hungry again, but such stretches of infinity seemed to lie between then and now that it was hardly a thought in either one’s mind.)

It wasn’t until Norm and Vanessa found themselves standing beneath the shade of the single spreading tree of their backyard that the flurry of excitement that had possessed them the greater part of the morning seemed to abate slightly.

“You know,” Vanessa said. “I would’ve thought that that theme park yesterday would’ve been really exciting, too, but I’ll bet that the stuff we’ll end up doing today will end up being… I don’t know, better?”

“It would not be difficult,” Norm agreed. “The rollercoaster they had was… sub-par.”

“It was pretty lame, yeah.” She shrugged. “I mean, I guess we might’ve gotten a little bigger than we were last year… but I don’t remember it being that lame.”

“Yes.” Norm leaned on the tree trunk. “I will hazard, however, that Uncle Heinz could do better than it.”

His sister smirked. “At that point it would hardly even be a-”

“I hope you’re about to say ‘no contest’, young lady!” a high, almost nasally sort of voice chorused over the backyard’s fence. In another moment the gate went unused, as the middle-aged man to whom it belonged vaulted easily over. “How are my favorite niece and nephew this fine summer day, hmm?”

“Uncle Heinz!” the children cheered simultaneously, forgetting about the tree and rushing over to him, to be scooped up in the singular massive group hug. Such a hug didn’t last for very long, the atmosphere having grown too warm, but it was certainly long enough. Heinz smiled his crooked smile, and after waving a more casual hello to his sister, who was observing the whole thing from safely within the air conditioning beyond the sliding-glass door, he returned his full attention to the children.

“Heard you two talking about me? Now what’s that all about? You can’t talk about me!” He paused for a moment, touching his chin contemplatively. “Unless you’re complimenting me – then I suppose I’ll give you a pass.”

“It wasn’t anything like that,” Vanessa protested, rolling her eyes. “We were just talking about this rollercoaster we rode on yesterday at the theme park.”

“Did you know we went to the theme park?” Norm interrupted. “After school. I wished you were there – and then we would’ve been like a real family. It was fun. Mostly fun.”

“-mostly fun, except for the rollercoaster they had,” Vanessa finished the thought, shooting a mildly irritated look at her brother again. “We waited in line for thirty whole minutes, and then the ride was… really, really bad. I mean, it wasn’t even so bad it was good. It was just boring?”

“Boring, you say?” Heinz responded. “Well, as I presume it wasn’t actually cutting holes through wood – pun totally tended, by the way – that does sound like quite a shame.” He winked. “But for all the tragedy that backstory might have in it, it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a little tinkering, is it?”

“I knew you were going to say that!” Norm announced, pride obvious in his voice.

“You’ve got me down!” Heinz fingergunned into the sky. “Norm, Vanessa, come with me – we’re going to that theme park to show them what a fun rollercoaster looks like. Can’t be having such letdowns on my watch!”

“Yes!” the two of them cheered, quickly looking at both each other and then back at their uncle again as he opened the fence for them all to head out.

“This is going to be excellent!” Norm crowed. “This makes me a happy robot!”

“It should,” Heinz agreed. “I’ve got pockets full of tools and an afternoon full of free time – and I know what we’re going to do… you know, with all that free time. I… huh, I thought I was going somewhere with that, but it totally just slipped my mind. Whatever.” He shrugged, looking around, his voice dropping a few notches until it was far too quiet for either of the children to hear, especially with the jubilant chatter between them as led the way from the backyard out onto the sidewalk. “I do wonder where Perry is right now.”

Perry was hardly in any condition to be asked after right then anyway, considering the way he was still struggling to find his cap. It was a tricky situation, for sure, considering he was wanted to report for duty within fifteen minutes, and the drive between his home and the police precinct downtown was already ten minutes by itself.

Still, he had to find his cap before he left, or his uniform wouldn’t be complete without it.

His sister helped him look, of course, as to not do so would simply be rude, though she was also on a schedule – at once a more demanding and unpredictable one. And sure enough, as she lifted the couch cushions, the watch on her wrist blinked with a soft blue light, letting out a high-pitched series of beeps.

Perry blinked, looking over at her from where he was trying his best to feel around underneath the refrigerator with an umbrella.

Candace had not even to look at the alert, though. She clapped her hand over it and grinned. “Welp, good luck with that hat, Perry. I gotta go, though. I am needed, uh… in the bathroom.” She nodded. “Yes. See you tonight.”

He nodded, and she spun about on her foot and darted through the small house into the bathroom, swiftly slamming the door behind her. Just as Perry suddenly discovered his hat where it’d fallen behind the stove somehow – with only minutes to spare –, she was pulling a certain bottle of medicine from the cabinet, one that whirred mechanically, and with a puff of steam and whiff of oil and grease, slid the entire vanity, mirror and all, behind a moving panel in the wall.

Wind whistled from the gaping tunnel left exposed, but she didn’t hesitate, even at what the potential to a be a very intimidating-looking drop. If Candace had had a theme song, it would probably have been playing right then, providing a catchy beat as she jumped feet-first into the chute, shooting downwards and to the left through the darkness.

Darkness that was instantly dissipated as she popped out the end of the tube into the brightly-lit and clinically clean space that made up her lair. And no sooner than had the echoes of her slamming into the chair ceased to be audible, the giant screen mounted to the wall flickered to life.

“Good morning, Agent C,” Major Garcia-Shapiro said briskly, her voice cool and professional. “We’ve received reports that Doctor Flynn has recently been purchasing obscene quantities of nursery-rhyme booklets – the entire stock of the entire Tri-State Area, even. We don’t know what he’s up to, but it’s surely no good. Get out there and put a stop to it!”

No salute was crisper than the one Candace snapped off, strapping on her jetpack in record time. A press of a button on the controls and the thrusters roared to life – and she took off like a shot through the air, squeaking just through the hole in the lair’s roof that had opened up and into the sky above Danville, leaving only a trail of smoke in her wake.

“Oh, Phineas…” the Major sighed. She leaned her head against one of her hands, staring into the picture that was stapled to the file lying open before her. Using her other hand, she traced the outline of his face on the photograph. “What are you up to?”

“Sir, you do realize the live feed is still on?”

“What?! Baljeet, shut it off! What do we pay you for, anyway?”

“You don’t pay me, sir.”

“That’s right! And with an attitude like that, we never will, either. Turn that feed off now!”

“Yes, sir.” Baljeet sighed. “Yes, sir.” Sometimes he did envy field agents, getting to… well, to get paid, mostly. Paychecks were nice, as stingy as he knew them to be.

For Candace it wasn’t it really about the money anyway – a good thing, considering she could have easily have made more money collecting discarded tin cans and selling them – but that didn’t mean that she, too, didn’t appreciate a paycheck every now and then. Which was about how often she got them anyway, and the last one had just bounced when she’d tried to cash it.

Her course through the sky across Danville took her low over the city’s main theme park, within mere feet of the rollercoaster that was, admittedly, quite lame indeed for a theme park rollercoaster. Or, at least, it had been at one time, because once the likes of Heinz Doofenshmirtz got through with it, it was going to be anything but lame.

There was but one way to fix a lame rollercoaster, he knew, and that would require a list of seemingly random items – but ones with very good uses anyway. Peanut butter, rubber snakes, and fireworks, among others.

Vanessa pointed out that the fireworks were technically illegal, and so they might have been, but… well, how else could you spice up a rollercoaster anyway? Twelve rolls of duct tape and a bundle of fireworks worked wonders for spicing up everything, from grocery shopping to lawn work to dates.

Heinz had personally tried the last one, but the woman had… not seemed to appreciate the gesture, for some reason. He didn’t quite… get people sometimes.

The work on the rollercoaster was going fantastically, at any rate, to the extent that none of them even noticed the woman and the jetpack that streaked through the sky mere yards above their heads, and since no one else in the theme park seemed interesting in stopping them, there were simply no limits on what they could do.

Taping firework rockets onto cars to act as boosters? Why not. Stopping to eat peanut butter right out of the jar and also fling it at each other? Sure. It was summer time, after all – this was the time you did these things, and everyone else seemed to understand that.

Everyone else except one old man, that was, who mumbled fiercely to himself from his perch in a nearby tree, spying on Heinz Doofenshmirtz through a pair of binoculars.

“You aren’t gonna get away this time!” he grumbled, spotting the fireworks and… what sort of looked vaguely like the engine out of a racecar or something. His fingers scrambled to his pocket, producing a phone, and he rapidly dialed a number, not even having to look at the keypad to do so.

“Nine-One-One,” the friendly voice over the phone’s speaker said. “What is your emergency?”

“Yes, hello!” he said exclaimed. “This is Francis Monogram and I’ve spotted this man named Heinz-”

“Francis, it’s you again?” the voice rejoined. “One moment, let me redirect you to the appropriate extension. We’ll dispatch an officer directly – where are you?”

“The City Central Theme Park!” he exclaimed. “Oh, oh, you have to hurry – we’ve gottem now!”

“Yes, sir. An officer will be there shortly.” The dispatcher pressed a button on her desk – one that been put there for just such reasons, because, honestly, the police commissioner had grown fed up with this a long time ago.

The button pressed sent a signal flashing out through the airwaves, one that zeroed in on one particular police officer’s two-way radio, the poor officer having been the one assigned to deal with Francis’ many repeated calls.

Honestly, Perry was about ready to arrest the old man himself, just to get him to stop for once… but he couldn’t actually do that for some complex bureaucratic reason that he’d never understood anyway. He wasn’t surprised, though, when the call came in, his radio crackling to life.

“Yeah, Perry, it’s that time of day again,” the dispatcher said, her voice more bored than a piece of wood with a hole punched through it. “At the City Central Theme Park this time.”

“I’m on it,” he replied briskly.

“Good luck.”

He nodded, punching the lights switch inside the patrol in response. Instantly the sirens whirred to life above his head, their wailing accentuated by the screeching of the car tires as he floored the gas pedal, sending the car lurching out of the speed trap and back into the flow of traffic.

The car screamed in and out of lanes, winding its way through the crowded roads towards the city center. Perry crouched low of the steering wheel, humming a song he’d once heard about a semi-aquatic, egg-laying mammal of action as he shot closer and closer to his goal, rounding turns as quickly as he could make his car take them, going as fast as the speedometer would physically allow.

It might be not be serious, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t take it seriously, after all.

If anyone was gonna keep the city safe, then this was the way they had to do it.

Of course, the bigger threat to the safety of the citizens of Danville right then wasn’t even being handled by any member of the police department at all – nor was it located out amongst the crowds of people in the theme park.

It was being handled, though – after a fashion, at least, as Candace crashed kicking-foot-first through a window and rolled to a stop in the middle of Doctor Flynn’s laboratory, fists raised, ready for a fight.

“Ah, there you are, Candace!” he exclaimed, spinning around, labcoat flailing about in the air. “I’ve got you now!” He pressed a button on the remote in his hand, and somewhere a spring was sprung, a trapdoor was triggered, and a machine was mechanized. Rope fell from the ceiling above where she stood, snagging her up and constricting tightly around her, within seconds trapping her arms by her sides and hoisting her feet up off the floor.

Somehow, in all the ruckus, her fedora didn’t fall off.

Phineas laughed. “That was great – you should’ve seen the look on your face, though.”

Candace stared.

“Okay, then. You don’t think that’s funny. Right.” He cleared his throat. “Moving on, then-” he grabbed ahold of a sheet covering some large object resting next to him, and with a single motion whisked it away “-Behold! The Wheels-On-The-Bus-Inator!” He grinned, looking back and forth between Candace and the machine, with all its giant nose cone and antenna and satellite dishes, the big green button on the control panel the only thing between him and wreaking much fun out of the city. “Now, I’m sure you’re wondering where this came from, hmm? Well, why don’t you hang around – get it? No? Because you’re… never mind, then. On with the story.”

Candace blinked once, impassively.

He grinned. “You see, back when I was yet a young boy in the country of… well, here, actually. I grew up here. Anyway. My mother was Lindana, you know? And she always had this music career thing going on, and she never had any time for reading me stories when I went to bed – never! And I wanted a story! And I never got one, either.” He gestured about wildly, finger raised in the air. “But that all changes – and it changes tonight! Or, well, today, even. Because I’m certainly not planning to wait until tonight to- oh, you know what? Never mind.”

Candace frowned. “You are gonna be in so much trouble for this. Today’s not going to be anything except your bust day.”

“I don’t know about that,” Phineas replied. “I mean, Bus Day isn’t till the end of August anyway – and more applicable, of course, is the fact that I am going to go use the -inator, right now – while you, my dearest nemesis-” he leaned in and gave a weak shove, sending her swaying back and forth through the air at the end of the rope “-are just hanging around! Get it? Get it? ‘cause you’re-” his shoulders drooped for a moment. “Alright, never mind then. Guess you’re just not in the mood for that either – no worries! Because the whole Tri-State Area’s gonna be mine soon! And everyone can hang – oh, I already used that one, didn’t I? Well, guess there’s no more reason to delay, then.” Grinning once again, he spun around, pacing quickly across the floor of the laboratory to the massive machine resting on the balcony outside. A flick of the giant red lever on it’s controls and the lights down the side of the barrel began flashing, the enormous barrel whining as the energy coursed through the wires.

“Lets take some wheels and spin ‘em round!” he crowed excitedly. He slammed his hand on the large central button of the panel, and with a roar, a brightly- colored beam of light blasted from the tip of the cone, down towards the cityscape stretching below. “This is going to be the best day ever!”

And although his definition of the term probably did not match most people’s, there were still plenty of people down in that cityscape that could relate to his ultimate goal nonetheless. People like Heinz, for instance, and his niece and nephew, who, despite it not even seeming like it would be logically possible in such a short period of time, managed to trick out the rollercoaster carts with enough duct tape and firecrackers and spray paint to bring down an entire building.

“Who wants to sit in front?” he asked, motioning between Norm and Vanessa and the coaster car resting on the track, all tricked out and ready to go.

“You know, I don’t see how this is going to work,” Vanessa said skeptically. “All these firework rockets surely can’t be strong enough to push this heavy cart like that, you know? And I know we had that engine… but I’m not sure if that’s how engines work, you know.”

“I want to sit in front!” Norm declared. “This is going to be great, I know, because Dad built it!”

“Aw, you know, I’m not actually your father,” Heinz pointed out. “Unless, of course, you want it – and you’re right that this is going to be great, yes. We’re gonna have a great time, aren’t we? Come on ‘nessa, let’s go!”

Vanessa crossed her arms and looked vaguely hesitant for a moment or two, but she couldn’t really be expected to actually turn down the opportunity, either, and relented after a second, climbing in the cart after her brother and uncle. “Okay, then – but don’t blame me if it doesn’t work, either.”

“Hey, have I ever disappointed you guys before?” Heinz dug into his pocket and produced a tiny metal box. “Just a flick from my Lighter-Inator on these fuses and we’ll be good to go, you know? You two ready for this?”

“Yes!”

“...yeah, I guess so.”

Heinz pulled the trigger on the lighter, and the fuses on the crackers started fizzling, eating up the black strings and disappearing into base of the rockets. Something fizzled; sparks flew; and flames lurched out their bottoms. The cart jerked into motion with a groan of metal against metal, rolling down the track at a steadily increasing pace.

“You know, this isn’t going as fast as I was hoping,” Heinz realized, having to shout the words to be audible over the rockets’ fizzling. As he was speaking, though, from behind the cart and out of sight of all it’s occupants, a green glowing beam streaked down from the clouds, striking directly into the cart. “And he’s probably gonna be here soon. Maybe I should-” the rest of his sentence was lost in a sudden rumbling from underfoot.

SHOOOM

Norm and Vanessa screamed, more sparks flew, Heinz almost screamed himself, as the cart took off like it was a rocket itself, the wheels spinning rapidly against the track with such force that a trail of smoke was left behind.

The track of coaster led up an incline, and the cart shot up to the top, not going down with the drop but launching like a car off a ramp, soaring through the air, slamming down onto the road outside the amusement park with a tremendous crash punctuated by the fizzling of the rockets taped to it’s sides. The wheels, suddenly finding asphalt to spin against, propelled the cart ever faster down the road. Wind whipped and whistled. The occupants of the cart held up their arms and all shouted together as it careened down a corner, launching off a speedbump in the road and sailing through a treetop or two before coming to a cacophonous landing once more, the next street over, skidding over concrete and dirt alike.

Sirens wailed behind them, and Heinz, used to their presence, turned around a gave a thumbs-up, waving dramatically though the clouds of sparks and smoke the runaway cart kicked up.

Perry frowned, trying to push the gas pedal even farther into the floorboards of the patrol car than it already it was. Windshield wipers, on, batting away flying pebbles and clearing the windows of the smoggy residue deposited by the smoke from the vehicle in front of him.

He was gonna get this guy sooner or later, he knew. Maybe today would be the day, even – this was his job, after all, and he was expected to fulfill it. Heinz was a unique case in a lot of ways, perhaps, but not even he could elude the consequences altogether. Try as that man might, one day Perry was determined to bring the full force of the Municipal Operating Motorcode down on his head for stunts like these.

The cart did not stop, rattling though it was, carving a wide track directly through downtown, corkscrewing across the Interstate, churning through sand and silt and even the watery depths of the M.O.A.T. like it was nobody’s business, and the sirens on the patrol car wailed, never faltering, as the chase wound all throughout the city, up and down the streets, through parks and the rock quarry and the shopping mall’s main concourse – past a grocery store and two gas stations and straight up the side of one particularly tall apartment building shaped vaguely like somebody's head.

Within that apartment building, completely unaware of the chase that had skimmed so close to the open-air balcony, there was a different sort of chase going on – that being Candace’s chase of the clock. Phineas had already fired the -inator once, and she couldn’t allow him that opportunity twice. Squirming about violently against the ropes, she extricated one arm – arm which promptly was used to reach beneath her fedora, where was stored a handy-dandy set of scissors just for circumstances such as these.

The scissors made quick work of the ropes, letting the useless strips fall to the floor, followed by Candace herself, as she severed the last knots keeping her suspended.

Phineas, hearing the impact of her feet on his floor, whirled about once more from where he’d been watching the -inator charge. “Ah! Candace! But you’re too late! I’ve already won!”

“Not on my watch, you haven’t – you just wait, and you’re gonna see what I’ve been doing.” She dropped into fighting stance, balling her fists.

“We’ll see about that!” He snatched up a nearby wrench, waving it threateningly through the air. “Come at me!”

“If you insist.” Candace ducked beneath the first swing, leaving a wide berth. Metal whistled harmlessly past through the air. Her hands shot up – she grabbed ahold of his outstretched arm, effortlessly twisting the weapon from his fingers. As it clanged to the floor, he balled his free hand swung wildly, missing by at least a foot. Outstretched, outmatched, and overextended, now – an opportunity his opponent didn’t let slide for an instant. A single well-placed blow to send him stumbling back, clearing enough space to jump into the air, spinning and depositing all the momentum from the motion into a hefty kick. Phineas’ arms’ flailed dramatically and he fell backwards into a shelf, away from the -inator.

“No!”

Candace smirked. “Yes.”

It was just a moment, and Phineas recovered, finding his footing, and diving to protect his machine – but smaller still was the moment in which she slammed her palm over the big red button, clearly labeled with it’s function.

Something popped within the machine. Candace sprinted to the edge of the balcony with Phineas hot on her heels. But at the edge, she leapt off, the pop-up hangglider unfolding with a snap, bearing her up on the wind as Phineas leaned as far over the railing as he could safely manage. “Curse-”

KRAKOOM

Shrapnel flew, smoke billowed, a shockwave of hot air blasted over the balcony, nearly knocking Phineas clean off his feet. He clung tightly to the railing, struggling to maintain his footing, as the reverberations thundered through floor, bits of broken -inator plummeting down around him. “-you, Candace! Candace the-” he paused for a moment, his voice dropping as he stared after the hangglider rapidly disappearing towards the horizon. “You know, I should probably figure what to say there. ‘the human’? I just feel like that’s a bit self-explanatory. It’s not like she doesn’t know already. Hmm – ooooh. What if – what if she didn’t know, though?” He grinned to himself. “I know what I’m doing tomorrow.” Then there was a sigh, as he surveyed the giant scorched spot on his balcony. “What I’m doing later tomorrow.”

The explosion of the machine had had more effect that the ruination of a few square feet of carpet, though – halfway across town and about thirty stories closer to the ground, a rollercoaster cart screaming down the road faster than most cars could keep up was starting to run out of steam.

The sparks died down, the smoke and the pebbles spewed from beneath the cart getting less and less until the only sound still heard was the fizzling from the firecrackers taped to the sides, the cart gradually grinding down to a halt.

“That was amazing!” Norm declared, his cardboard mask slightly askew. “Amazing!”

“Yeah – yeah it was way cool,” Vanessa agreed, smiling at her uncle.

Heinz held up his palms in satisfaction. “What did I tell you? What did I tell you? You guys need to set higher expectations for next time, lemme tell you.” He’d only just opened  his mouth to say something else, when a squeal of tires and a blare from a siren telegraphed the arrival of a yet another face that, to him, was nothing if not familiar.

Perry almost kicked the door of the car open, springing out and marching up to the coaster car, which was puttering only slowly now, under the power of the fireworks alone.

“Hi, Perry,” Norm greeted, hopping out of the cart, followed by his sister, and lastly by Heinz vaulting over the side.

Perry nodded briefly at the children, smiling faintly, and to Heinz, lowered his eyebrows considerably, letting out a guttural sound that could only be described as a growl of a sort.

“Ah, Perry the Platypus!” Heinz exclaimed, for he never tired of poking some fun at the officer after that one incident at the zoo, the one with the thing and the other thing, and (of course) all those platypi, too. “How unexpected – and by that, I mean completely expected, of course.”

Perry growled again, holding up a wrinkled yellow paper in fist, on which was clearly etched the letters  ‘M.O.M. Violation Ticket’, and gestured back at the coaster cart in frustration.

“What?” Heinz protested. “I mean, doesn’t there have to be evidence for a motorcode violation ticket, anyway?”

Perry frowned, glancing over his shoulder at the coaster cart again – scratch that, at where the cart was supposed to be. Where it had been just a minute ago. He looked around confusedly, only just managing to catch onto where it was as the rockets attached to it suddenly sputtered brightly in their last gasp, donating one last burst of speed to the cart. The cart rolled down a hill, hit a speedbump, and tumbled end-over-end into the air, trailing firecracker smoke all the way.

Both men watched in amazement as it struck the powerlines strung along the side of the road, bending the rubber-encased cables back like the band of a slingshot. A sudden snapping-back, and it was suddenly catapulted up into the air and-

-and proceeded to explode brilliantly into a series of beautiful fireworks, glittering all the colors of the rainbow in the daytime sky.

“They’re special fireworks designed for use during daytime,” Heinz said. “You like ‘em? Pretty cool, right? I figure with these, I could take over the entire Tri-State Area. The airspace, I mean, of course. For an awesome show, sun or no.”

Perry grit his teeth, but was still content. After all, things didn’t dissappear when they exploded, and there would be debris falling back to the ground any minute now – debris that was pretty easily visible even way up so high.

A bright red hangglider shot through the air from nowhere, just beneath the explosion, catching that debris like a net, sailing off into the sunset like a silent killer. Killer of Perry’s hopes, at least, as he stared, dumbfounded, as it vanished into the distant skyline of Danville.

Only the faintest traces of smoke lingered in the air.

Crumpling the ticket in his fist, he jammed it deep into his pocket, fixing a harsh glare on Heinz.

Heinz grinned boyishly. “What? You know you love me.” He turned and looked over at Norm and Vanessa standing nearby. “But I’ve got to take these two back to their Mom’s for snacks. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you tomorrow.” He waved as he walked away.

Perry trudged back to the patrol car and slumped inside, stared angrily out the windshield for a few minutes, contemplating how close he’d managed to come yet again.

His phone buzzed in his pocket, and because he really needed the distraction, he pulled it out and glanced at the texter ID. Upon seeing who it was, though, he quickly tapped out a response.

hey Perry howre you holdin up

There you are, Candace.  

yeah who else would it be lol how’s the day goin for you

Oh, you would not believe the day I have had so far. Trust me on that one.