Molly - Back to The Box: Part Two
Bernard had a peaceful sleep that night, dreaming that he had convinced his customers to stop begging for more restocks. Every other shop keeper was jealous of him because he could open and close the shop at a reasonable hour without a single complaint. When he woke up the next morning, he lay in bed for a few minutes, trying to remember it. He smiled as he pictured the angry face of the food shop keeper and then sighed, getting out of bed and heading down stairs.
He didn't check Molly's room on the way down; she liked to sleep in and he did not want to wake her. Because of this, he did not notice anything was wrong until he reached the kitchen. The first thing he noticed (well, the only thing he noticed, really) was the mess in the kitchen. Things were everywhere; cutlery was on the floor, plates were broken, food was splattered on the walls and half the drawers were open or lying on the floor. He did not associate this with Molly, although he did wonder briefly whether Molly walked in her sleep. He decided against it though; a meowclops, clever though she might be, could not open a drawer and throw it on the ground.
After staring in shock for a moment, his brain registered that it must be a burglary. What had been stolen, he wasn't entirely sure of and would not be able to work out until after he had cleaned up. He decided to clean up after work; the mess was too large to be cleaned in the short time before he had to leave.
Searching around the kitchen, Bernard managed to find a few pieces of bread. The toaster was conveniently undamaged, so he made some toast which he ate off of the only plate that had not been smashed. He then went about the rest of his morning routine; having a shower, getting dressed (in shabby orange clothes again), cleaning his teeth, finding where he threw his shoes the night before and making sure his extremely old backpack was not about to fall apart before putting it on his back. He also managed to find Molly's food bowl amongst the mess in the kitchen, which he refilled with whatever food he could find. He didn't register the fact that for the first time ever Molly had not touched her food during the night.
'I suppose,' he thought to himself while surveying the kitchen. 'I will have to report this to the Defenders of Neopia when I get home – once I know what has been taken...'
With that thought he headed off to work, where he managed to forget about the break in for most of the day.
Molly spent the next day alone; the Pant Devil did not return and there was nothing besides a dusty broom in the cupboard to keep her company. Molly had tried pushing her weight against the cupboard door but the Pant Devil had been smart and locked the door behind him – something he always made a point of doing for the obvious reason of stopping anything from getting in or out of the cupboard. Even though the cupboard was old and the lock was rusty, Molly's weight was not strong enough to break it. She was forced to curl up all day, trying to think of a plan to escape.
Unfortunately, each plan was worse than the next and it was only at the end of the day when Molly was half asleep that a decent plan made itself present in her mind. 'That might just work...' she thought, shutting her eye and drifting off to sleep.
Meanwhile, Bernard had managed to get out of his shop in good time. In his opinion it was early, but he had still worked over the recommended daily work hours for a shopkeeper. He had used the attempted robbery last night as an excuse to get out, and he grumbled as he walked home, wishing he could use the excuse more often.
'Pity my customers have read enough of my books that they are smart enough to see through that excuse if I use it too often. Perhaps I should read more, then I would be smart enough to think of an excuse to get out early almost every day! Or... at least once a week,' he thought to himself as he walked home, for once having enough daylight to actually see his way.
When he arrived home, he found another note from the neomail man on the doorstep, along with another large pile of neomails. He unlocked the door, scrunched the note up, stepped through the door and then threw the note into the bin in the corner of the room. He then proceeded to spend the next hour cleaning up his kitchen. He had to throw almost every plate, bowl and cup in the bin and there was no food left in good condition, but otherwise everything was back to normal.
It was while he was cleaning that Bernard noticed Molly's bowl was untouched, which, naturally, he thought was a bit strange. There was no fresh food to fill it up with so he left the bowl how it was while he finished with the rest of the room.
'I suppose,' he thought while he worked, 'that Molly didn't come in to eat because she didn't want to cut her paws on the broken plates and stuff. How stupid of me not to put her bowl in the hall or something. I bet she is starving!'
When the room was tidy, Bernard decided to go call Molly, to tell her that the kitchen was clean if she wanted to come and eat. He called her name, but there was no reply.
“Molly!” he called, slightly louder. There was still no reply.
'She must be hiding,' he guessed. 'Perhaps the burglar last night scared her. Poor girl...'
“MOLLY!” he shouted. “THE KITCHEN IS FREE!” He paused, hoping to hear a scuffle or something to tell him that she was coming. He heard nothing, and began to worry.
'Perhaps she is sick!' Bernard thought to himself, rushing up the stairs two at a time. 'That might be why she hasn't been eating! Oh, what an awful owner I am, not even checking on her this morning to make sure she is okay.'
The short, few second trip to the top of the stairs and then to the door of Molly's small bedroom seemed to take forever to the panicking Bernard, but at last he got there. The door was half closed so he knocked, softly at first and then louder when there was no reply. The door swung open, its hinges faintly creaking. In one half of Bernard's mind he thought it was a bad sign, doors always creaked open in spooky stories. The logical half of his mind told him that the hinges were old and it had only opened because it hadn't been properly shut when he knocked. Bernard listened to the spooky story half of his mind, which seemed to be taking up closer to three quarters now.
“Molly...” he said quietly, taking a cautious step into the entrance of the room and looking around with his wide, orange eyes.
'Drama King!' said the quarter of his mind that was still being vaguely logical.
'This isn't a good sign, though...' said the other three quarters. 'Perhaps something bad has happened!'
'Stop trying to make this worse!' snapped the logical quarter. It almost appeared that Bernard had lost his mind, and that it had split up and started to argue. Fortunately it was still firmly inside his head, just not functioning too well.
'Oh shut up!' snapped the three quarters of his mind who had refused to listen to logic.
Bernard tried to block out the argument going on inside his head. There appeared to be a microscopic percentage of his brain that was working perfectly, refusing to argue and telling him to calm down and regain control of himself.
'Kiss up!' muttered the rest of his mind, most of which was converting to the less logical side.
“Molly, where are you?” asked Bernard out loud, temporarily silencing his complicated mind. Hearing his voice gave him a small amount of confidence, so he took a few more steps into the room and switched on the light.
“Molly?” Bernard asked again, his eyes sweeping round the room. She was not on her multi level scratching post, she was not in her basket full of fluffy purple cushions and she was not anywhere else that he could see either.
The small part of Bernard’s brain that still wanted to be logical had an idea; 'Perhaps she is sleeping somewhere else in the house. Or maybe she accidentally locked herself in a cupboard when she was exploring or something?' Some of the illogical part of his mind converted to the logical side, assuming it was going to win. Bernard seemed to be listening to it anyway, because he started to search the house.
Half an hour later Bernard had discovered two pairs of shoes he thought he had lost, an old smelly sock, fifty neopoints, a crayon, a pile of neofriend requests he had been trying to forget and a fork. There was no Molly, though, and he sat down on the couch heavily, a worried look appearing on his face again.
'Told you so,' said the illogical part of his mind.
To be continued...