II. Purple Dude Finds the Missing Kids

As Purple Dude, Jason Q. Finch has the ability to race around the world, fighting the forces of evil as they creep forth from the shadowy recesses of the Web.

But just as the Internet can be used by the bad guys to do dirty deeds in the real world, it can also be used to fight real-world evil.

“Please, Mr. Oafel, take us back home now,” Tina Gulten said, squirming in the back seat, tied to her brother, Tim.

“Quiet back there, I’m driving,” Morty Oafel snapped, to the kids in the back of the old VW.

“Watch out!” Tim hollered, but it was too late. The VW’s fender clipped the edge of the stone pillar at the end of the long and winding driveway.

Morty Oafel, the Gulten twins’ hapless chauffeur, over-corrected and flattened the rhododendron bush just outside the mansion’s gate.

“Aaargh!” Oafel said, as he got the wobbly-wheeled VW back on the road to the cabin he planned to use as a kidnapper’s hideout.

Jason was at summer camp deep in the Appalachian wilderness, but he wasn’t out of touch, thanks to the satellite uplink he rigged for his laptop computer.

“Morty, please,” he heard Xavier Gulten say, via CNN.com. “The money doesn’t matter to us. All we want is Tim and Tina’s safe return.”

Jason clicked on the story link and read how Morton Oafel lost his job as a chauffeur after crumpling too many of the software tycoon’s expensive cars.

Xavier Gulten was in charge of mighty Gultensoft Enterprises. Now Oafel had the Gulten kids with him, and he was demanding $10 million in ransom.

“Hey, Chief, I found something,” Deputy Fred said, eyeing the freshly-broken headlight fragments from Oafel’s old VW beetle.

The policemen found more rusty VW parts as they followed Oafel’s route: a hubcap, a crumpled fender, a muffler—even Oafel’s front license plate.

Just when they thought the trail couldn’t get any easier, however, the clues ran dry.

“We know he’s holed up somewhere in the Appalachian wilderness along the border between Virginia and West Virginia,” the FBI spokesman told CNN.

Jason realized the hideout was probably less than 10 miles from his science camp.

It looked like the FBI were at a dead end. But Jason had an idea. He logged into the server for PurpleDude.com.

“Just as I thought,” Jason said. The log files showed Xavier Gulten to be a registered user of Purple Dude Internet Watch .

Purple Dude Internet Watch is a program that helps parents supervise kids online and keep an eye on which Web sites they visit.

Jason emailed Xavier Gulten and the FBI, and it didn’t take long for investigators to determine that Oafel had used one of the Gulten’s computers to scout out his kidnapping plan.

“Here it is!” Xavier Gulten said, of the online map page Oafel had been studying, which zoomed in on a rugged logging road stretching from Hardscrabble to Possum Trot.

In just three hours, the happy news was all over the Internet. The Gulten twins had been found unharmed.

As for Morty Oafel, he’ll soon have new lodgings—a federal penitentiary located just one mile from his wooded hideaway.

Knowing the Gulten twins were safe, Jason could turn off his laptop and satellite uplink. He joined the other campers with silly songs, scary stories, star-gazing, and some sweet and gooey S’mores.