Janet and Jane: The Case of the Framed Detectives: Part Three
"So where are we going?" Corbin asked me.
"To Sunset Isle Mental Health Institution," I answered.
"But that's an insane asylum. Why on Neopia are we going there?"
"I have to interview someone there."
"Then why do I have to go with you? Can't you do it on your own?"
I let out a sigh. "I can interview him easily, but I need company for two reasons." I held up one finger. "Reason number one. If you didn't notice, I have a tendency to be rude, so I need someone to make sure that I don't go overboard. That happened two days ago and I have no information. When I get frustrated, I tend to get even more rude. At least that's what Jane says." I held up another finger. "Reason number two. The Neopet who we're going to interview doesn't like me. I want some backup if anything goes wrong."
"Will anything go wrong?"
The Ogrin was starting to bug me with all the questions. He needed to stop before I got really annoyed. I simply answered, "Hopefully, no."
I saw the building that we were heading to and unknowingly started to walk faster (I do that when I'm excited or want to get something out of the way? I don't know. Ask Jane when we find her). It was only when Corbin asked me to slow down that I realized how fast I was actually going (I guess I'm faster than him, too). I did slow down a little for him, but I still ended up leading the way for a little bit.
Sunset Isle was a clean and respected mental hospital. Good therapy for those who need it, good accomodations, good workers, it would be a good place for Neopets who need help. The ones who were in here were nice and rarely did something that could get anyone in trouble. Pretty good place.
I went up to the receptionist, who was a green Zafara with round glasses. She looked down at me and asked, "Why are you here today?"
"My friend, Corbin, and I are visiting a patient today," I said plainly. I gestured to Corbin when I said his name, though I doubted that it would matter.
"Oh." The Zafara looked down at her notebook. "What's the patient's name?"
"His name's Barry. Is it alright if we see him?"
Her finger traces the page she was at. "Green Acara or red Skeith?"
"Alright then." The Zafara gave Corbin and I visitor passes. "Room 115."
I smiled. This was the closest thing to progress we had in the case. "Thank you."
The Ogrin and I went down to a hallway. After ten minutes of walking around, it occurred to me that asking for a map or something wouldn't have been a bad idea. Now we were lost. Just how I was hoping to spend the afternoon.
"Room 145. Room 143. Room 141," I said as we passed by the doors. At least we were getting closer (I think we were). "139. 137."
"So who is this Barry we're going to talk to?" Corbin asked.
"He's just a guy who stole some stuff from the museum where we met Jonah." I brushed a tendril of hair behind my ear. "Not the nicest guy we ever met."
"Why's that? Why is he here?"
"We found this out after we arrested him. He has severe mood swings and is delusional." I went through my bag to get some information on what I was about to mention. Once I found it, I said, "He wanted to make 'real Masks of Dread', but in order to do that, he had to perform some ritual thingy, which he can't."
"Alright." Corbin rubbed his forehead. I guess he was thinking about something. "How come you know so much about that?"
"You with the questions," I sighed. "I did a little research after Jane and I figured the case out. Interesting topic, if I say so myself." I went back to looking at the door numbers. "Ah, room 115. Here we are."
I knocked on the door. Hmm, no answer. I knocked again and still no answer. Was he asleep? If he was, he needed to wake up. I didn't know if I would be able to return here to ask him some questions.
"Janet, you know he might not be there, right?" Corbin asked.
I was beginning to get irritated by all of his questions. "I know he might not be there. I just need to talk to him. What if we can't come back here?"
"I'm sure we can." Corbin sighed. The Ogrin started to walk away from me. "Come on, Janet. Don't waste your time."
I hate to admit it (and I mean I really hate to admit it), but Corbin was right. We could have been interviewing the bank manager, asking him what happened or finding clues on the route "Jane" took to escape. And I was wasting time trying to talk to someone who might not even know what happened.
"Fine," I muttered. "Let's go."
Corbin led me away from the door. I was reluctant to leave (since I rarely give up on things during a case), but I did go with him. It wasn't that late in the day. Maybe we could interview the bank manager. That could get us somewhere.
Before we got too far, the door opened. As soon as I heard it, I turned around. Peering out of room 115 was Barry. He didn't change at all. He had that scar over his left eye and his right horn was bent. His appearance didn't change, but I got a feel of a nice, intelligent Acara, other than the Neopet that tried to do the impossible. Then again, that was my first feeling of him, so I was going to remain cautious.
"Janet?" Barry asked innocently. "Janet, what are you doing here? And who is that with you?"
Looked like I would be getting to ask him some questions after all. "This is my friend, Corbin," I said, motioning to the blue Neopet. "If you don't mind, we want to ask you a few questions."
"Did I do something?"
"Not that we know of. If you don't want to answer some questions, that's fine, but-"
"No, it's fine. I don't mind answering a few questions. Come in."
Barry walked back into his room. Corbin followed. I was a little reluctant to walk in, but I just did it, anyway. There were two chairs and a bed in the room. Barry sat on his bed while Corbin and I sat in the chairs.
"Alright, so we're here to talk to you about something you seem to know a lot about. Real Masks of Dread," I said.
"You mean the project you, Jane, and Natia so rudely stopped?" Barry snapped.
Ah, there was the Barry I remembered. I quickly glanced over at Corbin, who was silent ever since he met the Acara. I didn't know if he believed me or not, but either way, he didn't want to find out what was the truth. It was a little strange that he wasn't talking, though. I was sure he had questions.
"Yes, that," I answered. "I- We were wondering if there was anyone who was interested in them."
"Hmm," Barry hummed to himself as he pondered the question. "Yes. It was a few years ago, but I remember a young Neopet coming up to me and asked for my work."
"Do you remember who or why?" Corbin asked. Ah, now he spoke.
"I don't remember who and he wouldn't tell me why," Barry answered. He looked at the Ogrin. "I would have shared with him if he would have told me, but he wouldn't share as if something bad would happen to him if he did that."
"Did he ever get your research?" I asked.
"Yes. Eventually, I did share my work with him," Barry answered. "Hey, why are you asking me about it, anyway?"
I sighed. I had a feeling that when I said why we were here, he would say he knew about it and then comment on it. That was how everyone was. Finally, I said, "Did you hear about what's going on with Jane?"
Barry scoffed, "Of course I know. It's all over Neopia. Why wouldn't I hear about that?"
"We're trying to prove her innocent," Corbin answered. "You've met Jane before. You know that she wouldn't do anything like that."
"I know she wouldn't," Barry stood up. "I never said she would. I just never thought that someone would get revenge on you three before I would."
Revenge? I never thought of that possibility. Jane and I did run into a lot of Neopets (and a Faerie, but that's a whole other story) that seemed like the revenge giving type. Personally, I hoped that wasn't the motive (I really didn't want to deal with them again), but at the moment, that was the closest thing I had that would lead to Jane's innocence. Maybe I could get Natia to check out some police files with me later to see if anybody was recently released or escaped. I was sure that I could do that.
"Hold on, someone giving revenge before you would?" I asked surprisingly. "You were planning revenge for us?"
"Barry I don't know the history between you and Janet, but I think revenge isn't necessary," Corbin added. "From what I heard, you did break a law. You did steal from the museum."
"I wasn't stealing. I was just doing research with the weapons on display," Barry corrected.
"Stealing is stealing," I argued. "Not to mention that you were impersonating a museum worker."
"Well how else was I supposed to get in? I'm still not sure how you, Jane, and Natia were able to get in for those few days."
"We had a little help with that." I smiled slyly.
"You did?" Barry got up. "Who helped you? Where can I talk to him?"
I shook my head and said, "I'm not telling you."
"Come on. Name your price." Barry took a step closer to me. "Money is no object here."
Alright, that was a little creepy. I knew he wanted answers, I've been in his shoes, but he was passing the line between persuasive and threatening. I got up out of my chair and walked to the door. "Okay, Corbin. We're leaving."
Corbin got up and walked to the door with me. I reached for the doorknob when suddenly Barry grabbed my wrist and pulled me back. I ended up yelping out of surprise.
"Come on. I don't see why you can't tell me," Barry said in a near growl.
I was beginning to cross the line between annoyed and afraid and it wasn't that long until I was far away from annoyed. This never happened when J2 dealt with Barry and his friends last time. I never found out what Barry was capable of (and I was happy about that). Looked like I would find out.
"Barry, she isn't going to tell you," Corbin said sternly. He grabbed Barry's wrist and pulled him away from me. A wave of relief rushed through me, but it didn't wash away the apprehension that I had. "Stop forcing her to."
The Acara glared at him. He growled, "Don't tell me what to do."
Barry pushed Corbin away from him. I had a feeling this wasn't going to end well if this didn't end soon. I grabbed Corbin's wrist and dragged him to the door. We both quickly got out of the room before Barry could do anything that could possibly harm any of us. It felt good to get away from him.
"Now do you see why we put him in here?" I asked.
Corbin didn't answer, but he didn't need to. I knew what he was a little surprised on how things here went. I felt the same way he did. He was more aggresive than I thought he was. I didn't want to see Barry ever again after that.
"Was he like that when you last saw him?" the Ogrin asked.
I shook my head and said, "He was a little crazy, but nothing like that. Believe it or not, Jane and I have ran into worse."
Corbin looked at me. I had the feeling that he didn't believe me. This was proven when he asked, "How have you run into worse?
"All of them are long stories. Sheree, Shadow, I'm sure you remember Malkus Vile." I look up at my friend. "You wouldn't believe me, anyway."
The two of us walked out of Sunset Isle. It wasn't that late in the day. Maybe Corbin and I could talk to the bank managing Skeith. He would know something. The streets were almost bare. Almost no Neopets were out. This was a little odd, since this is the busiest time of day. The few Neopets that were around seemed to be in a little bit of a frenzy. I sensed an overall uneasy vibe coming from everyone. Sheesh, I wondered what's going on.
"Do you have the feeling something's going on, or is it just me?" I asked.
Corbin shrugged, then said, "It's possible, but what could they be worried about?"
As if it was on cue, a store alarm went off in the distance. Even from where we were standing, it was still loud. Both of us had to cover our ears at first. About ten seconds after the alarm started to sound, many Neopets came running in the opposite direction. Most of those Neopets were screaming or shouting something.
"Possibly that," I said. "I'm checking it out." I began to run off, but Corbin quickly grabbed my wrist and walked in the other direction. "Hey, what are you doing?"
"Janet, I don't think going to check it out is a good idea," he answered.
"Come on. If we see who's really doing this stuff, we can prove Jane's innocent."
"Or we could just see Jane."
I knew he was joking, but I still didn't like that he implied that Jane was a thief. She isn't. "Then we could talk to her."
I slipped out of Corbin's grip and ran to the alarm. It took a second for the blue Ogrin to react. He ran after me and called my name, but I just kept running. Thank goodness I was faster than he was.
While I was running, someone ran full speed into me. This knocks us both back and to the ground. The one who ran into me was apparently holding something, because small items started to rain down. After a few seconds of being in a slight daze, I got a good look at who ran into me.
The Neopet looked exactly like me. The items that rained down were Neopoints and rare coins. Next to the Kacheek was a bag that looked a lot like mine with more coins spilling out. Oh, this wasn't good. If this Neopet looked like me and if she was the one who stole something, then... Yeah, I think you get it.
"Ah, Janet, Corbin, nice to see you," the strange shadow Kacheek said with a creepy grin. She even sounded like me. Creepy. "I wasn't planning on running into you, but I'm glad I did. Do you think you can take care of these police officers after me? Thank you."
Before either of us could do anything, the Kacheek ran off, leaving the coins and the bag on the ground. I heard her evilly chuckle before she was out of sight. Just like she said, some police officers came running in the direction she came in. Only now, they would be after Corbin and I.
I got off the ground and ran away from those angry police officers. I didn't know where Corbin went, but I saw him run off in another direction. I would have preferred if we stayed together, but as long as he didn't get caught, it would be fine. The police officers were mainly after me, anyway.
It took a while and a confusing chase through the woods to lose the angry mob behind me. Even when they were gone, I kept running just in case. The police and J2 never really got along (more like the police and I never got along, but Jane wasn't their biggest fan, either), so they would never believe me that it wasn't me who stole those Neopoints from wherever. Jane being accused of stealing the National Neopian Bank wasn't going to help my case, either.
At least I had a plan for the possibility that I would need a disguise. I usually carried white makeup so I could masquerade as a skunk Kacheek. This only happened one time before, but it worked. I stopped by a lake for a source of reflection and painted a white stripe on my forehead and down to my tail. Once I was done, I put away the makeup and admired my reflection. It was a good thing that I was good at this. I had the feeling that I would have to do this for a few days.
"What are you doing?"
The sudden question was enough for me to jump. I didn't recognize the voice, which was actually both good and bad. Bad, because I still didn't know where Corbin was, but good, since I knew it wasn't a police officer. Even with those in mind, I was still wary. I was sure some other Neopets saw the store being robbed.
I looked to who said that to see a red Kyrii. He looked at me with curious eyes. Did I say looked? I meant examined. Either he was really interested or really suspicious. I didn't know what I would prefer right now.
"Oh, I was just looking at myself," I said. Might as well be truthful. "It was a long day and I wanted to make sure I looked okay."
"Don't worry. You look fine," he replied. Both of us were silent for a while. "My name's Mason. Can you tell me yours?"
I didn't want to tell him my real name, so I said, "Talia." That was my alias in case I needed a disguise. Like I said, I only needed a disguise only once, but it worked. Hopefully this one would, too. "So what are you doing out here?"
"I was just taking a stroll through the woods. How about you?"
Ugh, I was not in the mood for questions. I already dealt with a few questions today. At least when Corbin was asking me, it was related to what we were doing. He didn't need to know this stuff about me.
"I just needed to get away. Lots of stress going on in my life," I answered. The only thing that I lied about was my name. A whole bunch of crazy stuff went down over the last couple days.
"I can relate." Mason began to walk away. "Well, I must get going. Maybe I'll run into you again."
"Yeah, maybe," I said, but he was already out of sight.
Alright, at least he didn't recognize me. That was good. Next thing on my to do list was to try and explain this to everyone back at base.
To be continued…