The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Missing Miamouse - Part Four
Only a grocery store in Faerieland could have so many pastel colors, star-shaped foods, and lots of different edibles with wings. Nova Pops were displayed along the check-out lanes, exotic foods were stacked on the shelves and a row of delicious triple-layered cakes were to the right in the bakery.
I felt my jaw drop. Faeries ate stuff like this every day?
After walking a few paces, I began to notice not only the amazing foods, but also the fact that there were so many sweets. Sugary treats like cakes, pastries, sundaes, marshmallows, muffins, Nova Pops, other lollypops, and chocolates were everywhere. A young, faerie Nimmo was sucking on the top of a Nova Pop as his mother dragged him along to another aisle.
“No wonder why all the Faeries are so happy all of the time,” I said to Damien. “They load up on sugar!”
“Marlo,” hissed Luna. True, I had dropped my professionalism, but all this faerie stuff floored me. “This feels so stupid,” the Yurble added. “The four of us are just standing around like a bunch of morons trying to decide what our next move is in a Faerieland grocery store.”
Damien took advantage of the moment to intercede. “Then let’s go to customer service.”
“Wait, we don’t all need to go,” I said. Picturing our conspicuous group crowded around a small desk to ask a simple question didn’t seem logical. “You and Luna should go. Charlie and I will stay here and wait. Give us a signal if there’s no luck on the Miamouse.”
Luna nodded and Damien followed her over to the cream-colored desk. I watched them greet a faerie Grundo. Only a few moments later, Damien turned and shook his head, pointing to the far side of the store. There was no luck at the front desk; we needed to talk to an employee to gain a new perspective on the robberies. Charlie and I headed out.
I wasn’t sure what we were looking for exactly or who would be the best candidate to speak with, but I was in full mystery-mode. Part of trying to squeeze information out of a Neopian was to, first, find the right one, someone who would cooperate. Charlie and I wandered down the aisles. Even though I couldn’t see the pea Chia, I knew his eyes were peeled. Then I felt a tug on my ear.
“Try that guy!” Charlie whispered. A yellow Ogrin was sweeping the floor in a very monotonous motion near the frozen foods. His dark green apron was a dead giveaway that he was an employee.
When Charlie and I approached him, we saw that he was much younger than he looked from a distance. His golden mane was spiked in every which way and his fur was ruffled as if it had been brushed back. He had a few silver hoops dangling from both ears, and even though the apron covered most of it, I was able to discern a black Wock Til You Drop t-shirt that fit loosely.
“Wock Til You Drop?” I lowered my voice. “Come on, Charlie, this guy obviously doesn’t have good taste in Tyrannian bands.”
The Ogrin glanced up from his sweeping and acknowledged Charlie and me. “Can I help you with anything?” His voice was scratchy.
“That depends,” I said. “I’m Marlo, and this is Charlie. We’re detectives.”
“Chase,” he said, shaking my paw. “Is something wrong?”
I prepared myself to say the strangest words I had all week. “Yes, we believe a Miamouse was here on the 22nd of this month and she may have left the store with a different owner.”
“You mean stolen.”
“Yeah,” I said, somewhat surprised. By his tone, outfit, and wild fur, I wasn’t expecting him to catch on so quickly. “In fact, we’ve been recently informed of a string of robberies occurring here. Do you know anything about that?”
Chase looked down at the floor and then behind him. “Just that stuff’s been happening.”
“Can you specify?” I asked, leaning forward.
The Ogrin was starting to fidget. “Uhh... bad stuff...”
I could pretty much feel my eyes glazing over. “How long has this been going on?”
He scratched the back of his neck. “Uhh, like, a week or so.”
“How long have you been working here, Chase?”
“Two years,” he said. “I’m, like, here every day.”
“And you haven’t seen a petpet scurrying about or anyone carrying a Miamouse out of the store. They’re green, small. Pink noses.”
Chase paused, shifting his wait from foot to foot. His eyes shifted from the polished floor to my face. “No dude, I didn’t see anything.”
I nodded curtly, feeling it pointless to push him any further. He went back to his sweeping after I thanked him and Charlie and I started back towards the front of the store. I almost didn’t hear a small voice calling out behind me until I felt a tap at my side.
“I saw a Miamouse!” a faerie Chia with eyes as blue as Kiko Lake exclaimed. I pegged the kid to be around eight or so, a wide smile stretched across his face, cap twisted backwards. He must have been listening in from the next aisle.
“You saw a Miamouse here?” I confirmed. “When was this?”
“Are you a detective?” He asked. “Or Faerieland police? ‘Cause you don’t look like either to me.”
Oh, brilliant. “I’m a detective. My name’s Marlo,” I said, showing him the card in my paw.
“Where’s your trenchcoat?” the little Chia asked after plucking the card from me and skimming it. “And magnifying glass?”
“I guess I left them at home,” I said, an inevitable smile forming on my beak. “What’s your name, son?”
“Kit,” he said. “My dad’s the manager here.”
That could be something worth remembering. “And you say you saw a Miamouse in this store? Our client lives here in Faerie City and I know she’d appreciate it if we could find her petpet.”
Kit considered what I was saying. “Yeah, I saw one all right. It was scampering around the bakery. Tay got so mad she chased it away with a broom. She kept saying it would end up in one of the cakes or something.”
“Did you see where it went?” I pressed.
“Some guy in a coat picked it up.”
I knelt down to meet Kit’s eyes. “What guy?”
“I don’t know. In a coat.”
“Have you ever seen this guy before?”
Kit was silent for a moment. He cocked his head to the side, peering somewhere in the direction of the fruits and vegetables. “Yeah, I’ve seen him here before but he always wears the hood on his coat way up.”
“What color was the coat?”
“How tall was the guy?”
“Not as tall as you.”
“Do you know what time you saw him?”
“Umm,” said Kit. “It must have been around one-thirty because I had just finished lunch with Tay. I think. And that’s all I saw,” he added, sensing another hounding question. “I don’t know where he lives or anything.”
Feeling the conversation dwindle to a close, I pushed the card into Kit’s yellow paw. “The name of our hotel is on the back, along with the room number. If you see this guy again anywhere or discover something suspicious, please contact us immediately. We’ll be looking for the guy in the coat too, but it never hurts to have an extra pair of eyes. Can you do that for us, Kit?”
The young Chia’s eyes glowed. “Yeah, I can do that!”
“So...” Luna’s voice trailed off as she traced the swirly designs on the tabletop with her paw. “We’re looking for a guy. In a brown coat. Who is slightly shorter than you.”
“How old was the kid you got this from?” Damien asked reproachfully.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe eight, give or take.” Seeing Luna and Damien’s skeptical faces, I continued, “And his age means we can’t listen to what he says?”
Luna sighed. “No, it’s just... what Kit told you was really vague.”
“And how exactly are we supposed to continue with the case on such minimal information?” Charlie asked.
“Let’s go over what we know,” suggested Damien, from the table. The royal Aisha spread Luna’s notes in front of him. “Mika the Miamouse was suspected to be in the grocery store. We know that there have been several robberies at this same location.”
“Whoever took Mika from the store could have only done it because she was in Rowan’s bag or because they had something against either Taylor or Rowan,” said Charlie.
“Motives, people,” Luna said, massaging her forehead. “If we are running with the idea that this was a crime against someone, what’s the reason for committing the act?”
“Maybe someone lost to Rowan in a cookie-baking contest and wants revenge.” I smirked.
Damien agreed with what I was implying. “Rowan seems pretty harmless.”
“Then it is safe to assume that whoever took Mika did it to spite Taylor,” Charlie said.
“Unless it was Taylor himself,” Luna pointed out. “It would be immature to exclude the possibility that Rowan... however, umm, eccentric she is, could be correct.”
I nodded. “Right.”
“So what are tomorrow’s plans?”
Damien sat at the foot of his bed. “I have an idea. If Mika was taken from the grocery store from around 1-2pm, that would mean the other robberies generally happen at that time. If we are looking for a Neopian in a brown coat, maybe a couple of us should survey the store from a safe position during that time.”
“I don’t like those ‘if’s,” Luna said, crinkling her nose.
“If two of us sit out front by the grocery store, then it’s possible we could find who we’re looking for.”
The shadow Yurble tossed a pillow at me. “Oh, the cause-and-effect format makes it sound so much better.”
It was getting late and the tea I had been sipping was making me sleepy. Luna said goodnight and slipped down the hallway to her room. With new ideas fresh in our minds, Damien, Charlie, and I soon fell asleep in our yellow beds.
A pleasant evening breeze wafted in from the window, carrying with it the pleasant scent of Gardenias. The entire city was quiet, and, except for a lonely street light somewhere towards the front of the Iris Inn, it was dark as well. And to top off the placid evening, I happened to be having a wonderful dream of flying in the clouds and watching as they somehow melted into my white feathers...
The blue sky and fluffy clouds began to dissolve and I could feel the warm sunlight leaving my face. The dark hotel room faded in, and I jerked away from Damien, who was wearing his nightclothes and a peeved expression. Apparently, the royal Aisha discovered that it is indeed very difficult to wake an Eyrie.
“Wha...?” My voice was choked with sleep.
“Shh,” said Damien, holding a paw to my beak. “It’s only three am.”
I shook him away. “So what are you doing waking me up?”
Now that my eyes were beginning to adjust I could see that his blue face was shining with excitement. “I know where to find the brown coat!”
To be continued...