Summer's Stories: My First Mystery - Part Two
Lauren reached the hallway first, panting and carrying Elise, who was crying. Millie and Aaron entered the room at the same time, as if they were synchronized.
After catching her breath, Lauren looked at us with a worried expression on her face. “Did any of you get hurt?” she asked, to which we all shook our heads no.
“It didn’t seem to be coming from inside the house,” Aaron mumbled. Lauren groaned and ran outside. We followed.
Standing by the side of the house to the right of us were my new next-door neighbors, a girl with red hair and an Orange Elephante. They were standing by some shattered glass, crying and trying to comfort each other. I looked up to see a broken window. That would explain the glass on the ground.
Lauren ran up to the girl, shouting, “Mariah! What happened?” The girl looked up, tears still streaming down her face, shook her head, and gestured to her Elephante. Lauren turned to the Orange Neopet and asked, “What happened, Cynthia?”
Cynthia (I guess that was the Elephante’s name) stopped sniveling, pointed at me, and spat, “That... thing of yours broke into my room and stole my Grey Faerie Doll!”
“Really? I think it just wanted to leave you,” I retorted back, but instantly regretted it. I didn’t want to upset Lauren, and I hated seeing Millie‘s expression. It was like she was watching her favorite Neovison episode with a huge smile plastered onto her face.
“Summer would never do something like that,” Lauren said, her eyes filled with worry.
“How do you know?” Mariah, Cynthia’s owner, spoke. “You just got her today!” She glared at me, adding, “I thought you were a nice person, Lauren. I thought you would know better than to bring another filthy Pound pet into our neighborhood. It was bad enough with the first one.” She gestured towards Aaron. “Now, you brought a kleptomaniac!”
Here, Millie cut in. “That Uni at the pound did say that Summer was troublesome.” She smirked at me. I scowled back at her. I hated that Millie was right. But I also hated that I was being called a dirty thief.
Counting to ten to resist myself from challenging Mariah to a Battledome match, I said, “I am not a thief, nor do I carry any sort of Pound disease. If you do not believe me, I’ll prove it to you by finding the real culprit.”
In unison, everyone gasped. They had either expected me to confess the crime or deny the ordeal.
Lauren gave me a weak smile, then turned to face Mariah and Cynthia. “I’ll make sure that Summer cracks this case,” she said, ushering Millie, Aaron, Elise, and I back into the house.
Once we got inside, Millie spoke. “So, Summer, you’re becoming a private eye?”
Elise’s eyes widened. “Ooh, Summer’s gonna be a detective?”
“Yes, I am,” I answered, and walking up to Lauren, added, “Lauren, do you have a pencil and some paper?”
Apparently, Lauren had been waiting for me to ask this, because she giddily raced into my room, stuck her hand under the bed, and pulled out a Grey Notebook and a Dark Faerie Pencil. “Here you go,” she exclaimed, shoving the items into my paws.
“I’m stepping out for a bit,” I shouted, closing the front door. I was now fully equipped with everything an amateur detective needed: a brain, a good sense of hearing (four ears really do help), a writing utensil, and a place to use the writing utensil (otherwise known as a piece of paper). I strolled over to the Neohome next door and rang the doorbell. Mariah opened the door, glowering down at me.
“What do you want?” she spat.
“I would like to ask you some questions about the theft,” I replied in as professional a tone as I could manage. Mariah stepped away from the door, allowing me to come inside.
They had a nice, cozy living room in their Neohome. While I sat on the Nova Sofa with Mariah, I noticed that the living room was Nova-themed. Nova Rugs and Ultranova Rugs covered up the floor. Before us, a Nova Lamp sat on a Nova Table, spilling out light from every direction. In another area of the room, an Ultranova Lamp was set on an Ultranova Table. Chairs of Nova and Bean Bags of Nova were positioned around some more Nova Tables. Oddly enough, a Nova Bed was in the corner, looking neat and perfect. I could see my wide-eyed expression and Mariah’s irritated one in the Mirror of Nova. It was hard to imagine anything as gloomy as a Grey Faerie Doll had ever been inside this place.
Pulling out my notebook and pencil, I started to question Mariah. “At what time did this robbery happen, and what were you doing at that time?”
Mariah started to walk into the kitchen (with me following her) as she spoke. “Well, I was here in the kitchen, baking a Nova Sponge Cake in my Light Faerie Oven.” She gestured to the Nova-shaped cake atop the oven. All I could think was, A Light Faerie Oven? Does this place get any brighter? I nodded and jotted this down. She continued. “I was looking at the Pizza Wall Clock over there.” She pointed to the item on the wall. “I was going to take my cake out of the oven at 3:00. I was doing just that when I heard a crash and a scream. I set the cake down and went upstairs to Cynthia’s room. Cynthia was sobbing, and there were pieces of glass all over the floor. I didn’t see who the burglar was.”
I glanced at the clock. It was 3:21. “So, this only happened about... twenty minutes ago?” I asked Mariah. She answered me by nodding her head yes.
I was writing more notes down when I thought of something. “What about your other next-door neighbors?“ I inquired. “I mean, the ones on the other side of your house? I know our house is closer to Cynthia’s room, but they could have snuck around the back.”
“They’ve been at the Neolodge for the past few days,” Mariah said. “They won’t be back for a week or so.”
I wrote this information down, thanked Mariah, and asked her if I could speak with Cynthia. She led the way into the Elephante’s bedroom.
Cynthia was sitting on a Fire Faerie Canopy Bed, tears still welled up in her red eyes. She was blowing her nose (err, trunk) and sneezing. When she saw me come in, her sad expression turned into an angry one.
“What do you want, thief?” she snapped. “Here to steal more of my stuff?”
Despite my wish that her bed really was on fire, I calmly answered, “I’m here to ask you a few questions.” I took my pencil in my paw, ready to write. “Now, your owner said that the theft happened at around 3:00. What were you doing at that time?”
“I was in the bathroom, washing my paws,” Cynthia explained. “I have a really bad case of Pollenitus. I get icky snot on everything, so I have to wash my paws a lot. I was drying them off when I heard the shatter of glass. I ran to my room. I didn’t see you escape-”
“You mean, you didn’t see the thief escape?” I asked, annoyed that she thought that I was the culprit.
Cynthia sighed. “Fine. I didn’t see the thief escape. The only thing I saw was my Grey Faerie Doll as it was going out the window. The shattered glass is still there.”
I looked at the pile of jagged pieces of glass. There were a lot more shattered pieces up here than there was on the ground below. I jotted more notes down.
“So, the thief must have broken through the window on the left, took the doll, and escaped by crashing into the window on the right. That would explain where the pieces on the ground came from,” I muttered, mostly to myself.
I thanked Cynthia, went downstairs, and walked back to my house. I still had more Neopians to interview.
When I got inside my Neohome, the first potential suspect I saw was Lauren. She was baking something. I glanced at the Chocolate Chia Cookbook to her right and found that was making a batch of Chocolate Chia Brownies. I licked my lips.
“Lauren,” I said. “I’m making a sort of... suspect book about the robbery, and I really don’t think you stole the doll, but I have to ask you because you’re a suspect. I’m really sorry.” I nervously lowered my gaze to the floor.
Lauren chuckled. “I don’t mind. Ask me anything.”
I opened my notebook and gripped my pencil tight in my paw. “Okay. What were you doing at 3:00?”
“I was baking a batch of these brownies,” she replied, holding up a tray full of the chocolate treats. What is with owners and baking? I wondered, but I just let her continue.
“The brownies were just coming out of the oven when I heard the shattering of glass,” Lauren said. “I thought it might be Elise, because she broke a window once.” She paused to laugh at me. “Well, look at you scribbling away! What a good detective.” Lauren cleared her throat. “Elise was starting to cry, so I carried her into the hallway, and, well, you know the story after that...”
“Thank you, Lauren,” I said, hugging her quickly and running off to Elise’s room. It was amazing how close I felt to my new owner. I mean, she had just adopted me from the Pound today and already I felt like I’d known her for years!
Elise’s room was cute and soft, which definitely matched her. Various Baby books were stored neatly in Pink Aisha Bookshelves, while an assortment of toys, including Baby Dolls and Baby Bruce Squeaky Toys, were adjusted into a small pile, just like in my room. Elise was in the center of the room, constructing a tower with Baby Bruce Blocks. I knocked on the door. Elise looked up, saw me, squealed, and hurriedly crawled over to the door.
“Summer! Summer!” Elise happily shouted, giving me (well, more like my legs) a big hug.
When Elise let go of my legs, I noticed a bunch of furry patches of blue fur stuck to my skin. I wrote something down as I flicked off the heaps of hair on my body. I was so lucky I didn’t shed.
“Elise, I’m going to ask you some questions,” I said. “Can you answer them?”
Elise nodded her head excitedly.
“Okay. What were you doing at 3:00?” I asked. She just sat there, looking confused. I decided to try to word it another way. “Um, what were you doing after Millie kicked us out of her room?”
“I was playing with my toys,” Elise replied. I realized she had evidence to prove that as I looked at the fur-covered Baby Bruce Block that was in her paw. She continued. “Then, I heard a loud noise. It was scary!” She clutched my leg yet again, this time with her tiny eyes closed shut. Suddenly, she brightened. “But then, Lauren came, and I was all better.”
I recorded this into my notebook and bid Elise farewell (for the time being, anyway). I then proceeded to make my way into Millie’s room.
Millie was cleaning her perfectly pink room with a Buzzer Vacuum Cleaner. She was just sucking up a patch of pink fuzz (I feel bad for that poor vacuum. It probably has to suck up ten pounds of fur a day!) when she saw me come in. She immediately became agitated.
“Look,” she said, vacuuming the top of a dusty drawer. “I know you’re new here, but I have a few rules. One of them is that I don’t allow bandits in my room.”
I rolled my eyes. “I’m not a bandit. I’m just trying to stop a bandit. Now, I have a few questions that you have to answer.”
Millie scowled. “And if I don’t want to answer?”
I grinned evilly. “You’re already a suspect now. Do you want to be something worse?”
She frowned and muttered, “Fine.”
“Thank you for your cooperation. Where were you today at 3:00?” I inquired, to which Millie replied, “I was in my room, trying to decide what outfit to wear after you, Elise, and Aaron so rudely interrupted me. I heard the shattering of glass, and I knew something happened to Cynthia. She’s always dropping something. I just didn’t know that someone robbed her. Anyway, I ran out into the hall, and then we found out about the burglary.” She paused and heaved a sigh. “I feel so bad for her. She’s, like, my best friend.”
I made a note of this, thanked Millie, and stepped into the hall to visit Aaron, while Millie continued to clean. His door was closed, and, since he didn’t seem to like me very much, I decided knocking would be the best thing to do. I rap-tap-tapped on the wooden entrance.
Aaron answered the door and, upon seeing it was me standing before him, frowned. “Yes?” he asked in an annoyed tone of voice, fidgeting with the Ruki Hard Hat on his head. It matched his Ruki Work Shirt, Ruki Safety Vest, Ruki Work Trousers, and Ruki Construction Boots.
“Hi, Aaron!” I said, trying to be as cheerful as possible, which is very hard for a Darigan Aisha to do. “I just wanted to know if you could help me by answering a few questions.”
He just turned around and led the way into his room.
Aaron’s bedroom was very plain, compared to my room, or Millie’s room, or Elise’s room. A Wooden Chair sat by a Wooden Desk, while nearby, a Coffee Table held a Table Lamp. A Purple Wardrobe was located right next to a Fancy Wooden Mirror. A Peanut Bookcase and an Elegant Wooden Bookcase stood side-by-side, both jam-packed with books of all sorts. A plain and simple Wooden Bed was placed in the corner, its sheets all ruffled and messed. The room looked boring and out of place, as if Lauren acquired all its furniture from the Money Tree. It was pitiful how Aaron had to sleep in a mismatched room. I gave him a small smile, but stopped when he scowled at my empathetic expression.
“So, Aaron,” I said, preparing to question him. “Where were you and what were you doing today at 3:00?”
“I was in my room,” Aaron replied quietly.
“Doing what?” I pressed.
Aaron plopped down onto his bed and picked up a book. “I was reading this,” he said, shoving the hardcover novel into my paws. It was Ogrin Mountain Climber.
I examined the book. It wasn’t exactly something I would read, but at least it wasn’t covered in hairballs, because Rukis don’t shed.
“So, you like to go rock climbing, Aaron?” I inquired, scrawling down notes.
“Yeah,” he mumbled, staring down at his four feet. “I have equipment and stuff, but... it’s no big deal...”
“Cool,” I said, as if I cared about Neopets walking up mountains. I put my pencil and notebook away, and was just about to thank Aaron for his help when Lauren shouted, “Dinner’s ready!”
Aaron and I silently walked to the kitchen. Elise and Millie were already there, taking their seats as Lauren assembled plates and silverware on the table. Upon seeing me, Elise grinned and excitedly pointed to the chair next to her. I took my seat, wedged between Lauren and Elise.
My plate was piled high with gourmet foods, cuisine that was rather foreign to me, considering the omelettes and jellies I used to eat at the Pound. I gobbled it all down, trying not to look too greedy. I probably shouldn’t have felt bad about myself, though, for when I looked up, I got a taste of everyone else’s table manners.
Lauren was attempting to spoon-feed Elise some Caesar Salad, but Elise only ate in small bites, and occasionally threw down the lettuce or pelted the table with tomatoes, causing Lauren to be a bit agitated. Aaron picked at his Pickled Cauliflower, looking both bored and tired. Millie refused to eat her Meerca Bolognese, saying it gave her a horrible case of bad breath. When Lauren finally got her to taste it, she gagged and gulped down the last of her Haunted Milk. She then pushed her plate away, scowling and saying how she knew she wouldn’t like it. Lauren was about to say something back before I intercepted, telling Millie I would eat the rest of her Meerca Bolognese. Lauren gratefully smiled at me, while Millie just rolled her eyes.
After dinner, Lauren washed the dishes while Millie, Elise, Aaron, and I played a round of the Mynci Board Game. Even though I had never played, I was the one to move my piece through the jungle the fastest and win.
When it was time to go to sleep, I was happy that I had a plush bed to dream in, instead of that bumpy old cot back at the Pound. I dreamt of Lauren adopting me, and me dancing around with my new family.
It was too bad that, when I woke, I remembered something: I needed to solve a mystery and clear my name.
To be continued...