Takes A Little Longer

Sidey’s Weekend theme is “Impossible”….


Jim Phelps walked into the phone booth and shut the door. There was, as he expected, an envelope and a small tape-recorder. He opened the former and turned on the latter.

“Good morning, Jim,” said the voice that he had come to know so well. “The picture in front of you is of my son. He recently sat his exams at this (Jim instinctively turned to the next photo) school. I have spoken to him about his answers and he will not do well. He said that the longest river in the world was the River Dance, he listed the major muscles of the arm as biceps, triceps and forceps, and he said that the capital of Hungary is Turkey, since he reckoned that whenever people are hungry they eat turkey.

His mother has her heart set on him becoming a doctor and with the results he will get he will not make Med School. While this is good news for potential future patients I do not want to see my wife disappointed (aw, he loves his wife, thought Jim) because when she is she hits the gin and becomes a right bitch.

The papers have not been corrected yet, and are locked away in the headmaster’s office. The sheets in your envelope contain the correct answers which I put together and which my son has copied out in his handwriting.

Your mission, Jim, should you decide to except it, it to replace the original exam papers with these ones before the headmaster corrects them on Monday morning.

As usual, should you or any of your IM Force be caught or killed the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.”

“What does ‘disavow’ mean, exactly?” muttered Jim to himself.

“I don’t know either,” said the voice, startlingly. “Anyway, good luck, Jim. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.”

Jim watched as the tape slowly melted. Could be worse, he thought, I could have had to eat it.


That evening he sat assembling his team. He did this by staring at a photograph of each one before selecting the ones he always chose – the guy with the flat back to his head, the guy who looked like a vampire, the sultry woman, the token black. They met, they drove to the school and they went silently about their plan. What that was is unclear, none of them ever seemed to do anything apart from Jim.


Jim was in a harness, air-swimmimg towards the headmaster’s desk when a teacher walked in and across the room toward him, because of course they were in a school and therefore there were no touch-sensors in the floor. Luckily Jim was wearing a mask which was an exact replica of the headmaster’s face, a remarkable achievement when you consider that the best that Madame Tussaud’s can do is make President Kennedy look like Captain Scarlet.

“Hello, Mister, um..” said Jim.

“What are you doing, Headmaster?” asked the teacher, who fortunately was the German teacher, Helmut Uhm (an impossible co-incidence? Yes, this is why it’s called Mission Impossible).

“Er, this is my new exercise equipment, said Jim desperately.

“I see,” said Uhm. “Well, there’s a woman outside,  not saying anything, just looking sultry. Do you know anything about her?”

“Yes, she’s here for an interview for a teaching post in, er, mime,” said Jim.

“Very well,” said Uhm, and left.

Jim tore off the headmaster mask and breast-stroked, if that’s the phrase I’m looking for, his harness over to the desk. He got out of it, as he always had to, by unbuckling himself and dropping face-first to the floor.

He opened the desk-drawer, which was full of confiscated items including a catapult, a copy of Playboy and the plans to a secret US missile system. Still, these were not his problem. Underneath all of them he found the exam papers, flicked through them to the one he wanted and replaced it with the new set.

As he was putting the sheets back he happened to notice one of the answers. The longest river in the world was now the River Phoenix.

As Jim left he reflected that the voice on the tape would not be the voice on the tape if he’d been clever enough to be a doctor.

Jim could do many things, but combating inherited dumbness – well, that was impossible.


10 thoughts on “Takes A Little Longer

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