The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Missing Miamouse - Part Six
I was seated on the Nova Sofa back in Rowan and Taylor’s living room, resisting the urge to prop my feet on the coffee table. I always felt more relaxed when my feet were off the floor.
Someone’s lying. A Miamouse just can’t disappear out of thin air. Think.
Rowan came in, carrying a tray of the purple fizzy stuff I sampled the other day. I thanked her and took a glass.
“Anything new?” she asked. I had filled her in this morning about everything that was going on, from Mika being at the grocery store to Simon taking her to the service desk. How on Neopia could no one have seen what happened from there?
I shook my head quickly, jumping out of tangled thoughts. “No,” I said sheepishly, “nothing new. But Luna is going to the grocery store today and she says she’s not coming back until she finds out who picked up Mika.” I took a sip of my drink and it tasted oddly sour in my mouth.
The faerie Shoyru sighed. “At any rate, I just hope she’s safe.”
“Oh, I’m sure of it,” I said, although I wasn’t.
Rowan smiled and touched my arm. I returned the smile, trying to convey a look of reassurance, but something else was nagging me as well. Light will show you the way. I felt my jaw clench. What the heck is that supposed to mean?
All the way back to the Iris Inn, I kept my head down, consumed by the frustration and desperation for a lead.
“A neomail for you, sir,” said the faerie Kacheek behind the front desk. It was already slit open. I peered at him suspiciously as he handed me the envelope and resumed wiping the counter. Was this guy reading my mail?
I slid the yellow paper out and unfolded it.
Chase was working behind the front desk during the 1-5pm shift. I had to swipe the old schedule from my dad’s desk to find out! Hope it helps.
And under that was Luna’s familiar scrawl:
I’m on my way.
“Okay, I’ll say it again.”
Clustered in front of the shadow Yurble were a handful of employees from the Faerieland grocery store, some looking anxious, others annoyed. She had kept them there for over ten minutes now, waiting for someone to crack. Someone had to, she knew.
“We know a Miamouse was brought to the service desk, which means somebody here had to have taken it from the faerie Lupe. Think, people, a faerie Lupe with a Miamouse. Nobody saw them at all? And if someone doesn’t come forward in two seconds, I’m going to get a warrant from the Defenders of Neopia to search all of your hous--”
“Can we go back to work?” an elderly faerie Bruce asked, arms crossed. A Flotsam popped her chewing gum loudly.
Luna sighed exasperatedly. “Fine. But keep in mind, folks,” she called as the group began to shuffle away, “I will not rest until we get that Miamouse back.”
Before departing, a yellow Ogrin wearing a Sticks N Stones shirt stared at her. It wasn’t a cold or disdainful look, but emotionless.
“Hey,” Luna said. “You’re name’s Chase, right? You spoke to Marlo?”
The guy jumped, oblivious to the fact that he had been staring. Now he looked like he wanted to bolt. “Uhh, yeah, I talked to him a couple of days ago.”
“You have an earring missing.”
“Oh,” said the Ogrin, reaching up to feel where one of his silver hoops was gone. “Thanks, dude.”
As he stared to turn, Luna took a step forward. “Miamice like shiny objects, you know.”
Chase froze. “I, uhh, didn’t know that,” he mumbled, his back still turned.
“And you lingered for a beat just a little too long,” added Luna. When he didn’t answer, she put her hands on her hips lowering her tone. “Look, I know you were working at the service desk during the hours in which Mika would have been dropped off. Come on, Chase, tell me what happened.”
The Ogrin bit his lip. “It was a guy in a brown coat.”
A surge of irritation flooded through Luna’s veins. She laughed to keep herself from yelling. “We know that much. What we don’t know is who came to pick her up.”
“I just said it!” said Chase hotly. “A guy in a brown coat came like an hour later! I couldn’t see his face.”
Luna’s heart missed a beat. When she could finally register what Chase was saying, she managed to ask, “A Neopian in a brown coat dropped off the Miamouse and picked her up a mere hour later?” Chase nodded and he certainly looked like he was telling the truth this time. “Why didn’t you say something before?”
The Ogrin’s face went as red as the Fire Faerie Apples behind him. “I didn’t want to... I mean, I did want to, but... uhh, I just, uhh... I didn’t want to get involved.” He seemed uneasy.
The shadow Yurble was too grateful to care. “Thank you,” she said.
“Hey,” said Chase as she turned to leave. “If you knew it was me, why did you hold everyone else up back there?”
Luna smiled. “I just wanted to give you the chance to come forward on your own.”
But as she started away again, the innocent smile turned conniving. The shadow Yurble had a second plan brewing in her cauldron of schemes and she was fairly certain that this one had reached its boiling point...
I hounded Luna the moment she returned to the hotel until she told me every last detail. Damien and Charlie had already arrived back from Rowan’s. Since Taylor could rarely be seen around 1906 Water Faerie Way, we’d take turns keeping Rowan company for a few hours or so. It was my idea.
I mean, I felt bad. Taylor had basically deserted her for the past couple of days and her Miamouse was out there somewhere, still missing. But after what Luna had told us, this case was really starting to come together.
“If Simon dropped off the Miamouse in his brown coat,” said Damien, “then it would only make sense if Lindsey came back to pick it up.”
Charlie nodded. “Simon must have let her borrow the coat right after he returned from the grocery store. Lindsey went to his house to study, an hour or so later she left with his coat to pick up Mika. To Chase, they looked like the same person.”
“But where’s the motive?” I asked. “How can you have a kidnapping without it?”
“I don’t know, but we don’t have time to waste figuring that out,” said Luna. “Let’s head over to the Weapon Shop and see if we can catch her before she closes.”
But to our surprise, Lindsey was not at work when we arrived. A faerie Grarrl was seated behind the desk, polishing a blue orb.
“Taylor?” Luna asked.
“Hey,” he said, looking up for only a moment.
Judging by our reactions, the four of us nearly forgot he worked here.
“We haven’t seen you around,” I said lightly.
Taylor sighed heavily. “Well, to be honest, I’m moving to Kiko Lake in a couple of weeks. I’ve been in the process of finding a home and job down there.”
“Wow,” said Damien. “What’s the reason for going?”
Shaking his head, the Grarrl finally looked up at us. “I just can’t deal with it anymore. My mom and her stubborn attitude. I’m sick of being the one she turns to when something goes wrong. I’ve been at this job for too long without a raise, and oh, let’s not forget that our petpet is still missing. I need to get out of here.”
“That’s a pretty big decision,” commented Luna.
Taylor smiled wryly. “I welcome the change.”
“Have you talked to Rowan about this?” I asked. “I think she’s been worried about you.”
“I haven’t had a chance to tell her. Just got back from Kiko Lake this morning and went straight here. What about the case? Any new leads?”
“Listen, about that,” I said quickly. “We need to find Lindsey. Do you know where she lives?”
Taylor carefully put the orb he was shining back on the shelf. “Uhh, Lindsey did you say? I don’t know where she lives. Sorry. I told her I’d work these next few days since I’m leaving soon.” But then his tone lowered in both curiosity and anxiousness. “Why are you looking for Lindsey?”
“We have reason to believe that she is involved in Mika’s disappearance.”
Taylor’s face registered disbelief. “Lindsey?”
“Yes,” I said, completely aware that it didn’t make a heck of a lot of sense. However, it was all we had and crucial that we spoke with her soon. “Well, thanks for what you’ve told us. Have a nice evening.”
After flying the four of us back to the Iris Inn, I collapsed into a chair in our room that was almost comfortable, considering my size. I flexed my giant wings, glad for the physical break. My mind, however, had been spinning ever since we left the weapon shop.
“What are we going to do?” asked Luna, sounding frantic. “We’re unable to unlock a huge part of the case yet we can’t find our prime suspect.”
It was true, and I was incredibly frustrated. Damien paced the room slowly, head down.
“Stuck again,” said Charlie.
“And if Taylor’s going to be at the weapon shop for the next few days, we have no idea when Lindsey will be back,” I added, “so we’re going to continue being stuck.”
“Wait!” said Damien, as if on cue. “What about Simon?”
Luna jumped up. “You think he could be an accomplice?”
“No,” said the royal Aisha quickly. “Well, maybe. But if Lindsey’s been over to Simon’s house when they study for school, don’t you think Simon’s been to Lindsey’s?”
I was almost embarrassed that the answer hadn’t been obvious. “Let’s go, then.”
Once outside, I lowered my body to the ground and Luna, Damien, and Charlie climbed onto my back.
“You know,” Luna began, “it’s either we’re at a dead end or trapped in a maze with this case. I’m getting pretty tired of all this back-and-forth stuff.”
“You’re getting tired of it?” My shoulders, back, and wings ached in response. “Think of the Eyrie who has to carry you all around.”
And with a slight moan from the strain, we sprang into the air.
To be continued...