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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 7th day of Running, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 72 > Short Stories > The Case of the Pant-Santa

The Case of the Pant-Santa

by leb388

Leb388's Note: This story comes after "The Case of the Missing Funny", and there will be many more stories afterwards about Li, Conspicit, and their almost-dectective adventures. I've added a new character to the group, so read on....

"Happy birthday to Sloth, happy birthday to Sloth, happy birthday dear Slothie, happy birthday to Sloth!" sang a chorus of voices.

     Sloth tapped his fingers on the table, with a party hat tied to his head with an elastic band, and a green-frosted cake with the candles still burning laid out on the table in front of him. He an annoyed look and mumbled, "Your mortal attempts to please me have failed."

     "Ah, Frankie, get wiff da holiday spirit, yo," encouraged the Ghost Lupe. "It be yo birthday!"

     "Yeah, it isn't your birthday every day," the Pant Devil agreed. "Here, I'll blow out the candles for you," he continued, doing so.

     It was the annual Sloth Birthday Party on December 26th, funded by the Evil Guild of Neopia. Sloth was not particularly thrilled, and neither was anyone else, but they pasted on their best smiles and played along.

     "Where's Jhudy?" Sloth moaned. "Isn't she here yet?"

     "Oh...she's coming," Balthazar replied. "She'll be here in time for you to open your presents."

     "Well, I want to open them now. Summon Jhudy immediately!" Sloth ordered to a Mutant Grundo. "And you, fetch me my presents from under my mutated tree."

     The Mutant Grundos ran to fulfill Sloth's request, but when the second went to the next room for the tree, he was shocked and stood dumbfounded for a moment. "Hey...where's the presents?"

     Balthazar poked his head in. "What's taking you so long? Hey...where's the tree?"

     The Ghost Lupe came in. "What be up yo, Balthy? Where be the presents and tree? And dude...where'd Panty go?"

Meanwhile...

     "I'm dreaming of a green Christmas--" Leb388 opened her eyes and looked out the window as she sat on the couch of her NeoHome. "Darn, it's still snowing!"

     "Are they here yet?" Pegasusmon3 asked impatiently. Pegasus is a short-tempered White Tonu, and also my oldest sister.

     "Not yet," my owner, leb388, replied. She scanned the street with her eyes for a few seconds. "Wait--here they come!"

     "About time!" I sighed. I jumped onto our Neocouch and peered out the window. Being an Island Poogle, I'm sort of small, but I managed to reach the window and catch a glimpse of my aunt and cousins.

     "Hi!" lynn_chan3 exclaimed, walking up the sidewalk leading to our NeoHome. As my owner's sister, she had been invited to my owner's Post-Christmas Party and with her she had her four Neopets--Pikashoy3, a Tyrannian Shoyru, Keira160 (Keira), a Baby Poogle, Flowermon3, a Christmas Aisha, and Little_rose_02, a Red Kau.

     "Glad you could come!" leb388 greeted, opening the door. "We've all been so anxious to see Keira."

     "Yep," Lynn_chan3 replied, gesturing towards her Baby Poogle. "Isn't she cute? Jamez gave me the paintbrush, by the way."

     "Where is Jamez, anyway?" I asked, meaning jamezbfod.

     "Somewhere," leb388 muttered, looking out into the snowy afternoon.

     "Hi, Auntie leb388. Hi, Unky Conspicit. Hi, Cousin Pegasus," Keira giggled.

     "Hi, Keira," my owner replied.

     "Um...hi, but I'm not your uncle," I said to Keira.

     She laughed. "Okay, Unky Conspicit."

     "That's...um...well--I'll go get Li and Lebmon!" I exclaimed, running out of the room.

     While leb388 and Pegasus oohed and aahed over Keira, and chatted with Lynn_chan3 and Keira's sisters, I went to my Desert Aisha sister, Li, and my youngest sister, Lebmon--a Striped Pteri.

     "Li, the relatives are here!" I shouted. "Lebmon!"

     "Coming, coming," Lebmon muttered, walking to the living room.

     I went into Li's room to see what she was doing. "Hey, Li, c'mon."

     "Oh! Okay!" She jumped off her bed, leaving behind a pencil and notebook. "I was writing a story," she explained.

     "Ah. Well, leb388's sister and her pets are here, and Jamez is coming."

     "I bet Pegasus will be happy to see Six," she laughed.

     We entered the living room, and sure enough, Jamezbfod (leb388's older brother) and his four pets were there. His oldest pet, Six75 (who was at the time a Blue Shoyru), and Pegasus were obviously not getting along. They've been rivals for as long as I can remember, even though nobody--not even they, I believe--remembers why.

     "I got you some Neocoal," Pegasus said icily, handing Six the present.

     "What?" Six gasped. "But I sold my fireplace to get your present!"

     "You would," Pegasus muttered. "So what'd you get me?"

     "A spoon," he replied, handing her the utensil.

     "Wow, thanks a lot." Pegasus rolled her eyes. "What's a spoon?"

     And so it continued, with everyone unwrapping and exchanging presents. We had to wait until after Christmas to celebrate the holiday because of what leb388 called "random relative appearances." I had neither the desire nor a reason to question this, so I happily participated with everyone in our present exchange, and some of our presents were saved for a later, leb388-family-only, party. Eventually, we all sat down at leb388's Neotable and ate our post-holiday food.

     "So, Conspicit," Li said casually, "find anything new or unusual for the Neopian Explorers and Mystery Solvers?"

     "Not yet," I replied with a sigh.

     "Your last story was interesting," Jamez said, glaring at us.

     "We told it like it was," Li replied, popping a Gingerbread Mynci Cookie into her mouth.

     Eventually we ran out of conversation and food, and everyone started to leave--everyone except for Keira, who stayed behind because she was asleep on the Neocouch.

     "I'll bring Keira over when she wakes up," leb388 assured her sister, Lynn_chan3. "You don't have to wake her up."

     I walked over to the cute, sleeping Poogle on the Neocouch and looked at the tree beside it with presents underneath it. Wait a minute...where were the presents?

     "Li!" I exclaimed.

     Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!

     "Just a minute, Conspicit!" Li shouted, answering the Neophone. "Hello? Who is this? You're kidding. Uh huh. Well, why should I care? Listen, a plague was lame the first time you threatened me with it. A swarm of Teasquitos? I can sell those as petpets for a profit. No, I already have enough exploding Neomails, thank you!"

     I heard the click of Li hanging up the phone and walked into the kitchen. "What's wrong? Neotelemarketers?"

     "Meh, it was just a Mutant Grundo who called desperately asking if we knew where Sloth's presents were, as they 'disappeared.' It said that it heard about us from my last NEMS story for The Neopian Times, but I said we didn't associate with Sloth."

     "Um...Li? You might be interested in the fact that our presents are missing, too."

     She rolled her eyes. "Maybe Jamez just ran off with them or something."

     "Nope. I distinctly saw the presents under the tree when everyone left," I replied. "They're gone without a trace, and no one has since left or entered the NeoHome."

     "Unky Conspicit?" came a cute voice. Keira appeared, sleepy-eyed, from the living room. "Unky, where's Lynn_chan3?"

     "She had to leave early, but leb388 will take you home. Leb388's upstairs with Lebmon and Pegasus."

     Li ignored me and saw this as an opportunity. "Keira, did you happen to hear or see anything while you were on the Neocouch? Maybe just when you were half-asleep or something?"

     "Well," she said proudly, "I did see Santy Paws."

     Li's eyes widened and she exchanged glances with me. "What did he look like?" she inquired.

     "Well, Cousin Li," Keira began, "He looked like a blue ghostie thing and had a Santy hat. He took the presents but said he'd return them."

     I gasped. "Li, porch!"

     We ran outside and slammed the door shut. Sitting on the porch, we worriedly talked about what Keira had said.

     "The Pant Devil took them, I know it!" I yelled, enraged.

     "Cool it, Conspicit. I know he did, but how can we prove it? It's not like Panty to go running around stealing more than one present from a user without the user knowing it. And if he stole from Sloth--"

     "That might be something entirely different. For all we know, that was a trick."

     "But what it boils down to is that we need to find the Pant Devil," Li pointed out. "Think, Conspicit. If you were an annoying little blue ghoul with access to anything, where would you hide?"

     "If I had known, I'd have gone out after him long ago!"

     Li ignored me. "He'd want to be someplace secluded, where no one would expect to look. And he'd seek an area where he could store tons of items. Where would that be?"

     "Store items?" I asked. "No way! If you had a bunch of items, wouldn't you sell them for a profit at a shop? Probably some type of shop that has a specialty in holiday or wintry items, since this is the month of Celebrating, plus other junk."

     "Of course!" Li exclaimed. "It's so simple! Follow me!" She darted off the porch, when suddenly the door opened.

     "Unky Conspicit, Li, can I come with you?" Keira asked innocently, stepping onto the porch.

     "Keira, this is really dangerous. You should stay here, where it's safe," I told her anxiously.

     "But--but Unky Conspicit!" she exclaimed, starting to cry. "But I wanna go!"

     I looked at Li helplessly, and she only gave an "It's-your-call" shrug. "All right, you can come," I mumbled. "But be careful, and stay with us."

     "Yay!" she exclaimed. "Wait! I'll be right back!"

     I sighed as she went back into the house to retrieve a toy--a Yellow Poogle Plushie.

     "I had to bring Susie," she said, clutching her toy. "Is that all right, Unky Conspicit?"

     "Sure, whatever, we're wasting time!" I said, starting to walk. "So, Li, what's your idea?"

     "What else? Mika and Carassa's Garage Sale."

     "Of course!" I exclaimed. "No one would suspect it, it's a great hiding place, and with Mika and Carassa being the sellers, the Pant Devil can make a hefty profit."

     Li nodded, and we waited for a minute for Keira to catch up.

     "Get your Neopian Times!" exclaimed a Chia delivery boy, holding a stack of the latest Neopian Times issue. He handed one to Li, and she flipped to the Articles page.

     "Look at these, Conspicit!" she marveled. "'Missing Presents From NeoHome' is one title of an article."

     "Let me see," I said, leaning over to look at the paper. Sure enough, there was a whole list of titles about missing something-or-others.

     "What's that, Unky Conspicit?" Keira asked, putting her thumb in her mouth. "I'm tired."

     "It's nothing for you to worry about, Keira. And we don't have much farther to go."

     Keira ended up riding on my back, and in about twenty minutes we had made it to Terror Mountain. We climbed to the summit, and finally we saw the Garage Sale.

     We walked in casually, and the Chia shopkeeper unpacking items, who I guessed was Mika, told us they were out of stock.

     "Just a quick question," I said smoothly, "but are you in any way, shape, or form associated with the Pant Devil?"

     "Of course not!" Mika scoffed, not looking up. "Why would we be? Carassa!"

     "Yeah?" asked another Chia, walking in.

     "Help me unload some more stuff from the attic," Mika replied.

     "Um, where do you get all your items?" Li asked.

     Mika and Carassa laughed. "We've amassed a huge collection over the years, dearie," Carassa said.

     "Don't 'dearie' me," Li snapped back. "So, you had maybe a thousand items, and you can sell over a hundred every eight minutes and still have enough to keep your shop open?"

     "We have a lot of items!" Mika replied, looking annoyed.

     "Li! I've found the attic!" I called. I had been searching for a stairway while Li kept the Chias distracted, and I found one leading up.

     "Great job!" she exclaimed, running. "Come on, Keira!"

     "No! Wait!" Carassa yelled, chasing after us with Mika.

     We quickly reached the top of the stairs. I opened the door, and sure enough, there was the Pant Devil counting a pile of items.

     "Ahh!" he exclaimed, suddenly looking at us. "I mean, ah-ha, I've tricked you, Mika and Carassa! I will steal an item!"

     Mika and Carassa sighed, each let out a fake "Oh, no," and left.

     "You don't look like you're stealing! You look like you're collecting," Li pointed out.

     "We've got a witness who saw you take our stuff. Give it back!" I yelled.

     The Pant Devil looked at us gleefully. "Caught on, eh? Well, I may consider your request...but first you must give me that Yellow Poogle Plushie!" He pointed to Keira.

     "No!" she gasped, hugging her prized toy.

     "Hehehe, too late!" he exclaimed, grabbing the plushie.

     "Noooooooooooo!" Keira sobbed. "Susie!"

     Instinctively, I leapt up and pounced on the Pant Devil. "Give back Keira's plushie!"

     "Never!" the Pant Devil hissed. "No items taken will ever be returned!"

     A little Island Poogle probably didn't look very ferocious, so Li stepped up to help. She grabbed the Pant Devil's left arm--the one without the plushie. "You will return my cousin's plushie."

     "Never!"

     Li started to twist his arm. He couldn't squirm away, since I was still very much on top of him. "All right then. Now, return my cousin's plushie and apologise."

     By now, Keira was crying uncontrollably in that emergency-shriek only cute babies can pull off.

     "I'll never give it up!" the Pant Devil said, his voice faltering. "Your pitiful Baby Poogle is a weakling!"

     I'll admit, we didn't really hurt the Pant Devil much, since he's a ghost, but we did our best. He was sent to the Neohospital, and I returned Keira's plushie. All of the presents disappeared, and after the three of us went back home, we saw that all the gifts had reverted back to their original places.

     Li sighed and slumping onto a chair in the kitchen as I made Keira a bottle. "You know," Li said, "It looks like we finally beat the Pant Dev--"

     Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!

     Li answered the phone. "Hello? Mysteriously returned, eh? Well...you're welcome, I suppose. OK, bye." Li hung up the phone and turned to me. "Sloth's gifts were returned."

     "I suppose everyone's were, then."

     "You know, with all the commotion, I forgot to log this in our notebooks as a case or something," she replied.

     "Ah, well, it wasn't that big of a case. Besides, it'll be better if no one ever finds out about this whole mess."

     "Well, I'm glad this whole present thing was solved, too," came a voice. It was leb388. "But, really, the spirit of the holidays is giving, not getting."

     "Right...sure, leb388," I sighed.

     Suddenly, a Neomail slid through the mail slot of the back door in the kitchen. "Neomail?" Li asked. "I should get leb388--wait, it says 'To Li and Conspicit.'"

     "Read it," I said, giving the bottle to Keira.

     "'Dear Li and Conspicit,'" she read. "'You may have overpowered me once, but I will return.' After that, it's a lot of gibberish threatening us and whatnot."

     "Just burn it," I replied.

     Li gladly walked into the living room and tossed it on the Fireplace. "Say, leb388, is Keira going home?"

     "Not exactly," I heard leb388 say. "You see, my sister's going to leave Neopia for awhile, and all her other pets are in the Neolodge, but Keira was so small that I volunteered to take care of her for two months."

     They told me later that I had fainted. Of course I didn't know that at the time, but I awoke to find an intensely cute Baby Poogle poking me.

     "Pokey, pokey--oh! Unky Conspicit?" Keira asked, her frightened eyes widening to an ultimate amount of cuteness.

     "Eh, I'm okay," I mumbled.

     "Yay! Unky Conspicit!" Keira exclaimed. "You're all right!"

     "You had us worried for a minute, dude," Li replied. "I mean, I could've forgot you were lying on the floor there and tripped over you."

     I rolled my eyes at her and turned to Keira. "Keira, we need to talk. I'm not your uncle; I'm your cousin. You can call me Cousin Conspicit or something if you want, but please not 'unky.'"

     She crawled over and curled up in my arms. "Okay, Cousin Conspicit," she said softly, putting her thumb in her mouth. "That good?"

     "Yes. Exactly."

     "Conspicit." She sighed and snuggled up against me. "Cousin Conspicit, you're a great unky."

The End

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