Molly - Back to The Box: Part Six
“Excuse me, sir?” said Albert, trying to get the attention of the Test Your Strength owner. The Mynci ignored him, busy serving and insulting customers.
“EXCUSE ME, SIR?!” asked Albert, much louder. The Mynci eventually looked around, spotting Albert and Bernard.
“What?” he asked grumpily. “Would you like to have a go? That will be one hundred neopoints each! That is two hundred neopoints total if, like I suspect, you are incapable of adding correctly. If you can pick up the mallet and manage a great hit, you might win a special prize of a faerie meowclops!”
Albert rolled his eyes. “Yes, yes, we know all that. We can read the hundreds of signs you put around the Haunted Woods you know.”
“Well, would you like a go or not?” demanded the Mynci.
“Actually,” said Bernard. “We heard a story about you...”
“...Yeah, we heard you don't actually have a faerie meowclops and that you are lying just to get extra money!” continued Albert.
“That's not true!” snapped the Mynci. “Why would I lie to you? I can assure you, this game is not rigged!”
“Our information is from a reliable source,” said Bernard, trying to remember what he and Albert had planned to say.
“If it was from a reliable source it would be true. Funnily enough, it isn't!” said the Mynci, walking away to serve another customer.
Albert and Bernard looked at each other. This wasn't going as well as they had hoped.
“Perhaps,” called out Albert loudly after a moment's thought, “you would be willing to show everyone the meowclops just to prove you have it. You never know, it might be good for business!”
The Mynci scowled at them. “Look, if you aren't going to have a go, I suggest you clear off before I am forced to chase you with this mallet!”
Albert and Bernard watched as he picked up the mallet. Unfortunately for him, the recent extra weight he had put in the mallet meant that even he had trouble picking it up, and he dropped it on his foot. Customers gathered round, laughing.
“Well, I don't play!” he said defensively. “I am too busy getting your prizes to have the time! Why don't you give it a go?”
At that a few of the customers went away, still chuckling to themselves. The Mynci got up and hobbled away to get some ice to put on his foot and Albert and Bernard wandered off a little way to decide on a further plan.
Molly sat in one of the corners in the box, staring directly in front of her but not really seeing anything. She was deep in thought, trying to decide what to do. The Mynci probably wouldn't open the box again until the end of the week, so there was no chance of her bursting out again. Besides, he would be more careful now. She couldn't tear out of the box, because it was very thick and wrapped in layers and layers of tape. Even if she did manage that she would still be stuck in the cupboard, which probably wouldn't be any better for her.
'It might be a start, though...' she thought sleepily. 'I will give it a try once I have had some sleep.'
With that, she promptly fell asleep in her corner and curled up in a tight, fluffy ball of purple fur.
Later that day, or night, she wasn't sure which; Molly was awoken by a slight creaking sound followed by a soft whisper. She strained her ears in hopes of hearing more, because one of the voices sounded strangely familiar.
“No, you keep watch and I will search for her!” whispered one voice – the unfamiliar one.
“But I know her better, and she is mine. I would recognise her easier and she will less likely be frightened of me,” protested the another voice – the one that did sound familiar. Molly's mind worked frantically, trying to figure out where she had heard that voice before.
“But if you find her you will get excited and probably give the whole game away. And if you don’t she will!” snapped the unfamiliar voice impatiently.
“Don't be stupid, Albert,” came the familiar voice, just as Molly's mind clicked.
'Bernard!' she thought excitedly, trying to decide what to do. If she yowled to get his attention it would give him away, when by the sound of the whispering they clearly did not want to be found. But if she didn't make a noise Bernard would take longer to find her, or he might even be caught before he did. 'Perhaps if I scrabble a bit that would get his attention, but it wouldn't be loud enough to give anything away. The stupid Mynci would think it's a wandering meepit if he actually heard...'
The sound of Bernard walking softly around the room made itself heard, along with the sound of cupboards being opened, drawers being checked, boxes being torn open and then shut again, shelves being checked and any other place Bernard could think of being checked. When Bernard sounded close to the cupboard Molly was in, she started to scrabble softly. At first Bernard did not appear to hear, but when Molly made her scrabbling a bit louder she heard him step over to the cupboard.
“Molly?” he whispered.
Molly gave a faint reply, not daring to go any louder in case someone besides Bernard heard. Bernard himself only just managed to hear a faint squeak, but he decided to investigate anyway. Molly could hear him fumbling with something outside the cupboard door.
“Blast!” he muttered after a moment. “I can't find the key!”
Molly's heart sank. How could Bernard get her out of the cupboard without making a noise if there was no key?
On the outside of the cupboard, Bernard was asking himself the same thing. It was impossible to open the cupboard without making a loud noise of some description.
'I wonder if I would be quick enough to bask open the door, grab Molly if she is there and then run before someone else came..?' Bernard asked himself.
“Psst!” came Albert's voice from outside. Bernard was so deep in thought he didn't hear.
“PSSSSTT!” came Albert's voice again. This time Bernard did hear, and he jumped violently.
“What?” he whispered, probably a bit too loudly, after recovering from the shock.
“That grubby old Mynci is coming over here. You better get out! Oh never mind, too late! You will have to hide somewhere!”
Bernard barely had a chance to dive behind a pile of dusty old boxes before the Mynci stepped into the room. Bernard held his breath, hoping that he would not be discovered. That Mynci would not be pleased to see him hiding in his prize room. Luckily, he headed straight for the cupboard Molly was locked in, pulled a large key out of his pocket and unlocked the door. Reaching in with both hands he picked up a box and dumped it on the floor. He then proceeded to lock the cupboard, shove the key back in his pocket and take the box outside.
“Ladies and Gentlemen!” he shouted. Any noise that was coming from outside immediately stopped. “This is it! The prize you have all been waiting for!”
Bernard gasped. What if that box contained Molly? He slipped out of his hiding place and crept quietly up to the prize room door. The Mynci was standing in front of a very large crowd, holding the box as high as possible in the air. Considering his short arms, this was not very high.
“In half an hour’s time, the contest will end. Whoever has done the best hit this week will win this lovely faerie meowclops! So line up to Test Your Strength! Only half an hour left!”
Bernard waited until nobody was looking before he stepped quietly out of the prize room door, shutting it silently behind him. He looked around frantically for Albert and soon spotted him in the long line in front of the Test Your Strength machine.
“Bernard!” yelled Albert over the noisy crowd. “Come here, I have an idea!”
Bernard rushed over to Albert, ignoring a customer who was complaining about people pushing in. “What?” he demanded.
“I used to be really great at Test Your Strength before I moved to Kreludor. I might, just might, be able to win Molly back for you, if this is Molly in the box.”
“Great, I will have a go too... but I have never done it before, so I am relying on you! Otherwise I will have to buy her back from the new owner or something! And I don't think I have that much money!”
“Oh, so you have decided you want to play now, have you?” demanded the Mynci at that point, because they had reached the front of the line.
“Clearly, otherwise we wouldn't have lined up!” snapped Bernard, shoving two hundred neopoints into the Mynci's hand.
To be continued...