Eddie Quiggle and the Case of the Missing Petpet: Part Four
Also by melbman
Chapter Four – The Ransom
I escorted Miss Aisha into my office and assisted her into a seat. I called for my assistant to pour Ava a cup of chamomile tea. I took the Neomail device out of the Aisha’s shaking hand and sat down to investigate it.
“Take a look at the latest Neomail, Detective. I received it last night,” Ava said weakly.
I opened the Neomail and slowly read it aloud. “Miss Aisha, I have your precious petpet. To get him back you need to bring 2.5 million neopoints to the Money Tree in Neopia Central at exactly 3:15pm NST tomorrow. If you ever want to see your darling Charlie ever again, you will follow my instructions. Do NOT think of alerting the Defenders of Neopia or the deal is off and Charlie will be fed to Turmaculus.”
Ava moaned uneasily at the mention of Turmy eating her Charlie. It almost made me squirm at the thought of that monster devouring an innocent petpet. However, one thing was for sure - At least I could figure out who wasn’t responsible for the snatching.
“Well, Miss Aisha, it is clear to me that the Petpet Protection League cannot be responsible for this pet snatching. No matter what problems they may have with you, I can guarantee there is absolutely no way that they would threaten to feed Charlie to Turmy.”
Ava averted her gaze and nodded sadly. I could sense her disappointment at the immediate exoneration of her foes. I continued, “That brings us back to the question of whodunit. I’m going to take your Neomail Device to the Neopets Headquarters to see if they can put a trace on this threat. Then I’ll give the yap responsible the shakedown and see if he or she will sing like a Pteri.”
I headed down to Neopets Headquarters to organise a trace on the Neomail. The robot Uni at reception pointed me towards a rather angry looking Mutant Chia. I moved across to his desk and requested that he trace the Neomail to Miss Aisha.
Without even looking up from his desk he shoved some forms towards me and responded in a gruff tone, “You need to fill in these forms in triplicate before I can process your request.”
I pulled out my Cobrall Pen from my top pocket and began to fill in a Neomail Report. Once I had finished I handed the forms back to the Chia. Without a word he took the Neomail device from me and proceeded to trace the message back to the sender. Minutes later he handed it back to me and gave me an address in the Haunted Woods. I pocketed the device and set off for the Haunted Woods on my Yellow Bike.
I pulled up out the front of a house on Spider Lane. There was a Ghost Ixi sitting on the front porch carving a pumpkin. I leaned my bike against the broken picket fence and made my way up the overgrown path.
“Excuse me, sir.” I got the Ixi’s attention and he looked up at me quizzically as I continued. “My name is Detective Eddie Quiggle. I am investigating the disappearance of a petpet and a ransom Neomail that was traced back to your house.” I could see the Ixi was thoroughly surprised when I mentioned the Neomail had originated from his place as he began to stammer,
“Neomail?” he said slowly. “I don’t know nothing about no Neomail.”
“Sure you do,” I replied. “You know the one. The one demanding two and a half million neopoints or the petpet suffers a most unfortunate fate.”
“B-Bu-But I didn’t send a Neomail; I wasn’t even home!” I looked the Ixi up and down. I could tell he wasn’t a rich Neopian and could definitely use two and a half million neopoints. Could the missing petpet be behind his very doors?
I stated matter of factly, “You could have sent a ransom note through your Portable Neomail Machine.” The Ixi looked puzzled.
“I-I honestly don’t know where that Neomail could have come from, sir. You see, I live here with my sister, and yesterday we were both up at Terror Mountain visiting with our friends. And we can’t afford no Pocket Neomail thingamajig that you take everywhere, we only have the one we plug into our wall.”
The Ixi stood up, and poked his head inside the door to call out to his sister. He turned back to me and spoke in his Haunted Woods drawl, “Elspeth can tell you where we was.”
When a skunk Gelert came to the front door, I held my breath and took a step back. When I felt I was at a safe distance, I exhaled to introduce myself and tell her why I was there. She confirmed her brother’s story about visiting friends up in Terror Mountain. A quick Neomail to their pals corroborated their story. I concluded that someone must have gained access to their home without their knowledge and sent the Neomail.
Looked like the Ixi was innocent after all.
“Sir, ma’am... it seems your property is not as secure as you believed it to be. It looks like someone has broken into your home and sent that Neomail while you were out. I suggest you take a thorough inventory of your belongings and make sure there hasn’t been a knockover. And while you are at it, I would also check your bank account, shop, and gallery if you have one. If there is anything missing go down to Defenders of Neopia Headquarters to make a report. You won’t get your stuff back, but at least they can try to clamp the yap behind this.”
The pair nodded quickly, I could tell they were mortified at this news by the way their eyes darted towards each other. As soon as I started heading back up the path towards my bike I heard the door slam shut behind me. I could only imagine the dread they felt as they checked over their belongings, once, twice, possibly three times to see if anything had been pinched.
I hoped for their sake nothing had.
When I reached Neopia Central, I paid a visit to Ava Aisha. I told her how my dropover to the Haunted Woods had been a bum steer. She seemed distressed when I suggested we try to bait the blackmailer and capture them ourselves.
“How do we know it isn’t just a hoax?” Ava asked. She wasn’t convinced that the Anonymous Neomailer was serious. But I was.
“I have a hunch we’re looking at the real deal. They’ve gone to enough trouble to break into a Neohome just to stay anonymous. Why take such big risks for a hoax?”
“But two and a half million? That’s over half of my fortune!”
It seemed like the downslide of the Kadoatie Brothers had taken its toll on Ava Aisha’s pockets. I had to reassure her.
“Don’t worry about the money. I have no intention of handing it over.” I explained to Ava that I needed her there as a decoy, to make certain the petnapper wasn’t alerted to my presence so I could nab him. Ava reluctantly agreed to my plan.
I had half an hour until the drop-off time for the ransom. I slipped into my office to put on a disguise. I opened my closet and pulled out my Travel Case. Unlocking and opening the case, I selected a Hairy Tash, Plain Black Sunglasses, and my Black Derby. I looked at my reflection in the Antique Full Length Mirror as I positioned the Tash underneath my nostrils. I slipped on the glasses and popped the Derby onto my head tipping the rim down to shield my eyes. I gave one last glance in the mirror and watched my reflection nod approvingly back at me, before turning to leave. I pulled a Grey Linen Cloak off the stand by the door and then I hurried down to the Money Tree in Central Park. When I reached the drop-off point, I made myself comfortable on a Leafy Bench, opened up a copy of the Neopian Times, and waited.
I casually glanced around the park to take in my surroundings. Nearby, there was a young rainbow Tonu and his split Grarrl companion throwing a bouncy Slorg ball back and forth. A small crowd of Neopians were gathered under the Money Tree, fighting over some Bottled Faeries that Balthazar had placed under the trees generous branches. A little further away, a Purple Elephante was taking a baby Mynci for a stroll. In the distance I could see a group of Rukis floating toy boats in the Rainbow Pool.
I watched the coming and goings of the park intently for the next 10 minutes, suspicious of everyone who came my way. I wondered who it could be, as each Neopian passed by without so much as a glance toward the stone picnic table that was the designated drop off point.
Miss Aisha arrived at ten minutes past three and nodded casually at me as she took her place by the picnic table.
At precisely 3.15 NST, a figure dressed in a Lord Kass Halloween Costume approached Ava. The character motioned for her to put the Neopoints into a sack. She gave me the signal and I stood up and began to approach them. When the Lord Kass impostor saw me, they turned to run.
I gave chase and we headed up and down the streets of Neopia Central. ‘Kass’ turned into an alley and lost their balance and fell to the ground. Before they could pick themselves up I pounced on them and had them pinned down.
When the Kass character finally gave up, overcome by my strength, I pulled off the mask to identify the swindler.
To be continued...
(Next week is the “Case Closed?”...)
Detectives Speak 101 - Lesson 4
- Whodunnit – “Who did it”
- Sing like a Pteri – Tell the truth.
- Knockover/Pinch – steal, rob.
- Yap – Petty Thief
- Nab - capture