The Kacheek Club: Valentine Detectives Edition - Part One
Happy Valentine's Day!
"Forty-eight... forty-nine... C'mon, I just need one more..." muttered Bridgette the Faerie Kacheek to herself. She and her four best friends (Gwen the Island Kacheek, Xana the Disco Kacheek, and Sarina the Cloud Kacheek) were sitting in art class. Even though they were supposed to be painting portraits of the bowls of fruit placed in front of them, Bridgette had a hard time concentrating since she was too busy counting the number of valentines that were being placed in her Valentines goodie box. Every single year, each teacher in Neoschool was placed in charge of planning a Valentine's Day party for a specific class, and they also had to sacrifice some space in their classrooms for the students to place their Valentines goodie boxes. Mr. Lupid the Blue Lupe, the resident art teacher, was the one who had to plan the Valentine's Day party this year for the Kacheek Club's class.
Bridgette watched intently as Millie the Gold Draik slowly approached her Valentines box. The Draik took her sweet time as she slipped a pink glitter-covered card into one of the three card slots on the box. The Faerie Kacheek pumped her paw in the air and cheered, "Yes! That makes fifty!"
"Fifty what, Bridgette?" Gwen twisted around in her wooden stool and glanced at her friend curiously.
"Valentine cards," explained Bridgette, full of elation. She started painting the Lemoran in her fruit bowl as she continued. "I'm pretty sure I'm in the lead for the person who's getting the most Valentines this year. I've been keeping tabs on Kalandria's box, too, and it's not even near half as full as mine."
Gwen rolled her eyes impatiently. "Don't tell me you're obsessing over that Royal Kyrii. She's only been at this Neoschool for about two weeks; there's no way she could get more Valentines than you."
"I know, I know. But still..." Bridgette glanced over at Kalandria in the corner of her eye.
The Royalgirl Kyrii was busy with her fruit portrait. Her long curls were twisted up into an elaborate bun, and her golden tiara glinted in the sunlight that streamed through the classroom windows. Although Bridgette was fairly sure that her popularity wasn't in jeopardy, the Faerie Kacheek knew that it would be unwise not to keep her eyes on the Kyrii.
Xana looked up just in time to see a Faerie Kacheek zip past her in the hallway. An out-of-breath Gwen and a sweaty Sarina soon followed.
"What's going on?" asked Xana, raising her eyebrows.
"Bridgette... wants to... check her... Valentines box before... lunch," explained Sarina between breaths of air.
"It'll probably only take a few more seconds before she realizes that we're not following after her," said Gwen, fanning her face with her paw.
"I said to hurry, guys!" Bridgette suddenly passed the three Kacheeks in the hallway again, only this time she grabbed Xana's arm and pulled her along.
"Hey!" Xana wiggled out of Bridgette's grasp and raced back to her locker. Her Starry Folder and Pink Stars Notepad had been dropped in the wake of Bridgette's approach.
"Sorry." Bridgette dashed back and scooped up Xana's school supplies.
Xana looked at Bridgette quizzically as she tossed her things into her locker. "What gives, Bridgette? The last time I've seen you run this fast was during that seventy-five percent off sale at Uni's Clothing Shop."
"It's true. You don't even run in gym class," put in Gwen.
"I'm just excited about my Valentines goodie box, that's all." Bridgette tapped her foot impatiently as Xana closed her locker. "Can we go now?"
As the Kacheek Club made their way towards the art room, Sarina spoke up. "Can we make this quick? I wanna get to the cafeteria before they run out of Mystery Meat Sandwiches."
"Sarina, you do know that you're the only one who eats those, right?" asked Xana.
Sarina looked dumbfounded. "Hm, I guess that would explain why the tray is always full of them when I get to the cafeteria." She shrugged. "I always thought it was just because I was fast."
Bridgette suddenly gasped and pointed ahead of her. "There it is!" She jumped back into excitement mode and bolted towards the art room door. In her haste to open the door, she accidentally bumped into Earl the Snot Grundo, who had just exited from the art room. His Green Backpack fell to the floor, and an avalanche of pink, red, and white cards piled out of it.
"Oops, sorry, Earl." Bridgette bit her lip as she watched the Grundo bend down and shove the cards back into his backpack.
"I-it's okay, Bridgette," stuttered Earl. His eyes darted nervously around the hallway as he spoke.
"What were you doing in the art room?" Xana asked him.
"Me? I-I just, uh, forgot something in there, so I decided to stop by before I went down to lunch." Earl gulped and continued, "Well, um, bye." Before the Kacheek Club could say anything else, the Grundo headed off down the hallway in the wrong direction for the cafeteria.
"What was up with him?" Gwen said, still staring after Earl in confusion.
"He seemed kinda nervous, if you ask me," chimed Sarina.
Bridgette giggled. "It's nothing. Usually everyone is nervous when they talk to me. It's the effects of talking to someone who has the power of pretty." She smiled, obviously implying herself.
Gwen, Xana, and Sarina couldn't help feeling amused at their friend's overconfidence.
"So, let's get it done with, shall we?" Bridgette took a deep breath and pushed open the door of the art room. All four Kacheeks immediately raced towards their Valentines goodie boxes.
While Gwen, Xana, and Sarina hurriedly pried off the lids of their boxes, Bridgette took some time to examine her Valentines goodie box. It was painted white with her name written on it in pink nail polish. Instead of the standard one-card slot at the top of her box, Bridgette had decided to place three slots on it, so that more than one Valentines card could be put into her box at a time.
Xana's laugh broke the silence. "Ha, this is hilarious!" she squealed. In her paws was a Valentines card with various math symbols on it. "Okay, why was six afraid of seven?"
"Oh, I know this one! Because seven-" began Sarina, but Xana interrupted.
"Because seven ate nine! Get it?" Xana giggled hysterically until she noticed that Gwen, Bridgette, and Sarina weren't laughing with her.
"Wait, I thought it was because seven was actually Dr. Sloth in disguise," said Sarina, her face scrunched up in confusion.
Xana blinked at Sarina. "Okay, never mind then." She tossed the math card back into her box and continued digging through the rest of the contents.
"Aww! Someone put a Valentines Day T-Shirt into my goodie box!" Gwen unfolded a red-and-white T-shirt and immediately pulled it on over her Earth Faerie Dress. "Hm, it's too bad that they would actually think that I would wear T-shirts in public."
Xana looked over at Gwen and snickered when she saw that the T-shirt reached down to Gwen's ankles. "It's also too bad that they would think that you were a size extra-large," she muttered, still consumed with leftover nobody-laughed-at-the-math-joke bitterness.
"So, what did you get in your box, Bridgette?" Sarina asked, a Raspberry Jam Sandwich Cookie in her left paw and a Mint Swirl Cookie in her right paw.
"Let me see..." Bridgette grinned in anticipation as she pulled the lid off of her box. She gasped as she saw that where there were supposed to be glittery cards, gourmet chocolates, and baked cookies, there was nothing but... emptiness. The next thing Bridgette knew was the fact that her eyes were slowly shutting into darkness.
Sarina's irritable chewing noises pulled Bridgette back to the surface. "Ugh, how long was I out, guys?" Bridgette looked up to see Gwen, Xana, and Sarina all looking down at her with worry. Bits of the Chocolate Chomby Cookie that Sarina was chewing rained down onto Bridgette's face. Looking around at her surroundings, the Faerie Kacheek saw that she was lying flat on the cold linoleum floor of the art room.
Xana glanced down at her lavender wrist watch. "Only about five seconds," she replied as Bridgette got up from the floor.
"I can't believe that I didn't get any Valentines!" shrieked Bridgette, glaring at her own Valentines goodie box sitting so innocently on the table. "Something is wrong here! I know that I had a ton of them during art class!"
"Actually, you did get a Valentine. It's from Earl." Gwen pulled out one lone Valentine card from the box and handed it to Bridgette.
Bridgette's nose wrinkled as she looked at the cover of the card. Earl had cut out her yearbook picture from last year and plastered it onto the cover. Flipping it open, Bridgette read the words 'Happy Valentine's Day' written in pencil. "What's this gooey green stuff all over the card?" she muttered.
Sarina peered at the inside of the card. "It's probably snot," the Kacheek concluded. "Earl is a Snot Grundo, after all."
"Ew!" Bridgette grimaced and quickly tossed the snotty card back into the box. She sighed and said, "What happened to all the rest of my Valentines? I can't believe that I didn't even find one from you guys!"
"But we did give you cards, Bridgette!" insisted Xana. "We just don't know what happened to them."
"Maybe it was all a mistake," suggested Gwen. "What if you just assumed that you got a ton of Valentines, but in reality you got none?"
Bridgette laughed without humor. "Very funny, Gwen. Don't you guys see? Me not getting Valentines on Valentine's Day is like Dr. Sloth without hair gel! Lisha without her wand! Illusen without great hair! Neopia just doesn't function that way."
Sarina gasped. "Wait a sec! What if someone opened your box and stole your Valentines?"
Bridgette watched Sarina as the Cloud Kacheek popped a Grape Candy Rock into her mouth. "Normally I don't listen to pets who are able to consume five hundred calories at a time, but I think Sarina's got a point," Bridgette finally said.
"Yay!" Sarina golf-clapped for herself.
"That doesn't even make sense. If someone really did steal your Valentines, then why would they leave Earl's card behind?" Xana pursed her lips.
"Hello? His card was all snotty. Of course they would leave it behind." Bridgette waved Xana's statement away nonchalantly.
"True. If I were a Valentines thief, I would probably do the same thing," Gwen offered.
"Okay, fine. Let's say someone did steal Bridgette's cards," said Xana. She piled all of her cards back into her box and pressed the lid on top. "What do we do next?"
"We catch the culprit!" responded Bridgette. The dull hopelessness in her eyes was suddenly replaced by a burning fire. "Whoever stole my Valentines is so gonna pay for it!"
"We're gonna be, like, detectives." Sabrina's eyes sparkled with excitement.
"Oooh, I have an idea!" Gwen unzipped her Pink Kadoatie Backpack and pulled out a sheet of Scented Valentine Paper and a Fyora Faerie Pencil. "All we have to do is write Bridgette a Valentine card..." She quickly scribbled a few words onto the paper. "Then we toss it in her box..." Gwen deftly folded the paper in half and placed it into Bridgette's box. "And we'll come back tomorrow and see if the card is still here. If it's missing, we can start looking around for some clues and stuff."
"Brilliant!" Xana high-fived Gwen, who high-fived Bridgette, who high-fived Sarina.
"This is turning out to be the most mysterious Valentine's Day ever!" Sarina smiled and bit into a square of dark chocolate. Her nose wrinkled as she chewed it. "Gross, this is organic."
Bridgette sniffed. "At least you got chocolate in your Valentines box."
"I thought you didn't eat sweets," pointed out Xana.
"Well, I would if one of my admirers gave it to me!" huffed Bridgette.
To be continued...