At the AstroVilla: Part Eight
Cypher jumped in shock and spun around, unaware of the fact
that anyone else was in the basement. She found herself face to face with an angry-looking
Kougra. A skunk Kougra.
"Luther, it's me!" Cypher said quickly, ripping
off the maid apron. "It's me! Cypher!"
Luther grabbed the mop from her cart and held
it horizontal to the floor, aiming the mop-less end at Cypher. "Exactly! Why
are you doing this?"
Cypher's mouth dropped open. "You actually believe
what people are saying? You think that I'm the kidnapper? I thought you were
on my side!"
Luther narrowed his eyes. "I just now thought
about it. They're right. Why else would you be so interested? You, after all,
were in Lenny's room that night. You could have staged it to make it look like
you were only curious. You were one of the first ones on the elevator the night
Lorraine was kidnapped. And now, you're down in the off-limits-to-guests basement,
where the third victim has been taken! Who knows how long you've been down here!"
Cypher couldn't believe what she was hearing.
Luther was actually turning on her! "No! It's not me!" she said, almost in tears.
"Luther, I promise you! What can I do to prove that I'm only trying to help
Luther eyed the Cybunny. "There's nothing you
can do, because it's obvious! All the clues point to you! You tried to sound
innocent by claiming that Aewa wanted you to solve the mystery... but that was
just a cover!"
Cypher opened her mouth to say something, when
a thought struck her. "Luther," she said, sternly, "if I'm the kidnapper that
you claim I am... why wouldn't I just take you right now? We're all alone in
a basement! Wouldn't this be the ideal time? So why am I not kidnapping you?"
An awkward moment of silence passed, as Luther
took a deep breath and lowered the mop. "Because you're not the kidnapper,"
Cypher sighed. "Are you back on my side? Or
am I once again a rich, snobby, snoopy guest?"
Luther smiled and dropped the mop back in the
cart. "As long as I'm not a rude and worthless kitchen-Kougra, I'm on your side.
But why are you down here anyway? Is that a staff key?"
Cypher nodded, grabbing the key at the end of
the necklace. "Dez let me borrow it. I found out about the attack and knew I
had to do something about it. But I know Griptor will throw me out if he catches
me... and the rest of the staff could come back down here any minute!"
Luther frowned. "Wait... it was you who made
them leave, wasn't it? You're clever, I'll admit it."
Cypher smiled. "I turned the lights off on the
entire fourteenth floor. It's pitch black... I knew I could pull off a few screams
and get all the workers to check it out. Except you..."
"I was halfway up the stairs when I realized
that we were leaving an attack site unattended. I guess you're lucky it was
me who came back!"
At that moment, there were yells from above
in the lobby. Cypher and Luther both jerked their heads up. "I think more are
coming now, though..." Cypher whispered.
Luther looked around. "Quick! To my room! It's
down the other hallway, I'll be there in a second!"
As Cypher ran through the basement halls, she
could hear that pets were on their way down the stairs. She heard yells of "Someone
turned off the power on the fourteenth floor!" and "It was a distraction! Hurry!"
Just as the Cybunny was passing the electricity
box, she heard Luther say, "Did you find anything up there?" in a fake casual
"No," another pet said, "the lights were cut
off! Dez said it was the Cybunny! She took his staff key and asked how dark
it got up there! But it was a distraction to get down here! Where is she?"
Cypher moaned as she ran. Dez thought it was
her now too! Could her stay here get any worse? After attempting to save the
hotel and the pets who worked there, she had become a major suspect in the crime!
This was the thanks she got for practically solving the mystery? After all,
the Chia Police hadn't been able to prove anything after their investigations.
"Nothing's happened down here since you left..."
Cypher heard Luther say far behind her. She kept running until she saw Luther's
door; it was the very last one. She inserted the staff key and pushed the door
open hurriedly, leaving it open a crack to listen to the conversation at the
other end of the basement.
"Listen, you guys," Luther said, "I stayed down
here to guard and I promise nothing has happened since you left."
"Aren't you in league with that Cybunny, though?"
"Yeah! You were with her a while ago! Are you
up to something too?"
"No, no, no!" Luther said. "Did it occur to
you guys that there's also an electricity box in the staff room on the seventeenth
Cypher listened intently, hoping that Luther
could manage to get the angry pets to search somewhere else. She took a deep
breath and stared at the brick wall right in front of her. She stared and listened.
"Alright, half of you go check the staff room
on the seventeenth floor!" a voice called out.
"Don't forget the other box on the twenty-seventh
floor, too!" Luther called out.
"How many boxes are there?"
"It doesn't matter, just go check out the twenty-seventh
"And," Luther said again, "there's one in the
"Everyone else, to the kitchens!"
As Cypher listened and stared glumly at the
wall, she realized what she was seeing. One solitary brick had moved just a
millimeter inward. It was almost as if it was creating a large rectangular hole
to look out from...
Cypher silently shut the door and listened as
the brick budged again. This time, she heard something else.
"I think I hear pets walking up the steps,"
a hushed voice said, "Kiko, go out there and check."
The sound of the brick scraping against the
other bricks could still be heard, until finally it had been pulled entirely
out. Cypher bent over and looked under the crack of the door. She caught a glimpse
of a bright red eye moving away, and then the grunts of someone trying to fit
through the area where the large brick had been.
"I think I'm getting too big for this," a strained
voice said. But Cypher didn't understand... there was no one there! She could
hear a small pet trying to get through, but all she saw beyond the hole was
"Good job, Kiko, now go see if anyone's there!
Hurry up, Marvo's getting kind of mad down there!"
Cypher's eyes widened at the sound of that.
Marvo? Marvo LeMaer?
Mr. Griptor stood angrily in the lobby, watching
his staff scamper to the elevators. They were headed to the locations of every
electricity box in the hotel, but Griptor had his doubts. He turned to the Acara
at the front desk.
"Has Cypher left the building? She would have
to have told you to be allowed out unattended."
Miss Laurel shook her head. "No, Miss Cypher
hasn't left the hotel since she checked in!"
At that moment, Torington appeared. "Mr. Griptor,"
he said, "Cypher's room has been checked. She's not there, nor is she in the
restaurant, coffee shop, bakery, pool, gift shop, or kitchens."
"Staff quarters?" Griptor asked. "I wouldn't
put it past her to break the rules and go down there!"
Invisible! The pet was invisible!
It dawned on Cypher as she was crouched on the
ground, looking through the crack beneath Luther's door. It had to be a small
pet - likely a Korbat - who could easily fit through the hole. She could hear
the wings fluttering away. The rest of the basement was silent... where had
"It's empty!" Kiko, the invisible Korbat, called
out. "You can come!" A ghost Poogle and a ghost Hissi came spookily through
the wall next. Cypher held her breath so she wouldn't gasp.
"Okay," a voice said through the hole, "you
two go scare a few guests in the lounge. Kiko, go ahead and start playing the
piano. Lenny and I are going to go back down to the lab."
Cypher's mouth dropped open at the sound of
the name Lenny. It sounded almost as if he was there... voluntarily...
Cypher could hear the two pets from behind the
wall. They were talking, and their voices seemed to slowly get farther away...
until Cypher could no longer hear them at all. She took a deep breath and opened
The brick had been replaced. It fit so perfectly,
that if Cypher hadn't seen it move, she never could have guessed that it was
really a secret window. Or passageway...
Passageway? That was it! Cypher smiled at herself
and cracked open Luther's door, peering hesitantly into the hallway. Who knew
if Kiko the Invisible Korbat was around, but Cypher was pretty sure he had gone
to freak out a few guests. She silently tiptoed across the hall and faced the
"Cypher!" a harsh whisper called out. "What
are you doing?"
Luther came skidding down the hallway, panting
for air. Cypher looked up at him, grabbed the brick and yanked with all her
might. It didn't budge. "Move, you stupid brick! Move!" she whispered to herself.
Luther came up next to her. "I had to act like
I was following so they wouldn't get suspicious!" he panted. "But I managed
to get back... why are you talking to the wall?"
Cypher sighed. "You won't believe this, but
an invisible pet, and two ghost pets just came through here! There were other
people on the other side of the wall, and someone mentioned Lenny! It was this
Luther gave the Cybunny a confused look. "You're
kidding, right? Why on Neopia would ghost pets be behind this wall?"
Cypher stopped tugging on the brick and stared
at it instead. "Maybe I need to push..." she said to herself, gently shoving
the brick inward. Sure enough, it slowly moved into the blackness and fell with
a loud thump on the other side.
Luther's eyes were the size of juppies. "You
have got to be kidding me..."
At that moment, the sound of pets coming down
the stairs could be heard. Torington's voice was distinct above others. "Griptor
ordered us to search the basement. We're looking for that meddling Cybunny.
Everyone suspects her."
"Luther!" Cypher whispered quickly, "I need
your help. Not only to save the hotel and everyone who works here, but to clear
Luther nodded. "Of course. These other bricks
must move too! Hurry!"
They began to push in bricks that surrounded
the first one until they had a large enough hole to fit through. Torington sped
down the hallway just as they fixed the last brick back in its place. But they
were on the other side...
... in complete blackness.
To be continued...