Janet and Jane: The Case of the Vanished: Part Two
"How on Neopia could someone who died five years ago still be alive?” James asked as we walked in the suburbs outside of Neopia Central.
“Their deaths might have been faked,” I answered. I looked at the house numbers while we were walking on the sidewalk. “Simple as that.”
Jane added in, “Still, we don't know why they would fake their own deaths. We knew them. They wouldn't do that without a good reason.”
“If you don't mind me asking,” Natia began. “How do you two know them?”
I didn't really want to answer that question. It was uncomfortable to talk about it to anyone other than Jane. She was uncomfortable talking about it to anyone but me. If you knew why, you would understand. It was just that... Nevermind. I'll explain it when I wrapped my head around this, “They might still be alive.” business.
Besides we reached Allison's house. It looked nice. That was good. I wondered if she was home. It was late afternoon. Most working Neopets were back at their houses at this time of day. If she was still working as a babysitter, though, she might not be there.
I walked to the front door and knocked on it. We waited a little bit. Nobody answered. Hmm, maybe she didn't hear us? I knocked again – louder this time. I heard a Dogelfox bark, but I didn't hear anyone coming to the door.
Then suddenly, the door opened. It wasn't Allison, though. It was a little purple Vandagyre – no older than six. She looked up at me with big eyes.
“Allison, there's a group of Neopets at the door!” she called.
“Mary, how many times do I have to tell you not to open the door?” a voice called from inside the house. “Let them in, tell them to wait for me, and don't cause any trouble.”
“Got it!” The little Vandagyre let us in. “Allison will be with you soon.”
“Thank you,” I said to her. I walked in first. Then Jane, then Natia, then James. I got a look at the living room. I wouldn't say it was huge, but it was a good size. There were some toys across the ground, though I assumed they were Mary's. There wasn't a lack of places to sit, so us four did that.
Mary hopped onto the couch and sat next to me. “Do you know Allison?”
I looked at Jane. She gave a slight nod. I told her, “Actually, my friend, Jane, and I do.”
“Hold on, you two know her?” Natia asked me. The alien Aisha looked at me with a confused look on her face. “How?”
“It's a long story, Natia.”
“Wow, that's your name?” Mary asked. Her eyes focused on Natia. “That's so pretty!”
“And what did I tell you about talking to strangers?” the same voice asked from the hallway. It certainly sounded like Allison. “How would your mother feel if she saw you do that?”
Mary huffed. “She would be mad.”
“Exactly.” A rainbow Xweetok entered the living room. Her hair was still at her shoulders and she still had those earrings in her ears. Even though she had aged a good eight years, Allison still looked like how I remembered her. “Now what are you guys–” She stopped and examined the four of us – mainly Jane and I. “No way, Janet and Jane?”
“I was hoping you'd remember us,” I informed. “Still babysitting, I see?”
“More of a nanny, actually. You met Mary, the kid I'm taking care of.”
Mary got all mad all of a sudden. “I am not a kid!” she pouted. “I'm almost four years old!” I couldn't help but laugh.
“So why are you two here? Wanted to visit your favorite babysitter?”
“I wish,” Jane said all happy. “We're actually here on business.”
“We're investigating–” Natia added with much enthusiasm. Thankfully, James had enough sense to cover her mouth before too much got out.
“Do you mind sending Mary out of the room?” James asked. “I'm not so sure if she should be hearing this sort of stuff.
Allison nodded. “I'll give her something to do in her room.” She got up and picked up the little Vandagyre. “I'll be back in a few minutes.” With that, she left the living room.
Natia was the first to speak. Her first words were, “She babysat you guys?”
I nodded. “Uh huh. Allison was our babysitter. Back when we were in elementary school.”
“I didn't know you two knew each other back then,” James commented. “I figured you two knew each other before you started this detective business, but I had no idea how long you two were friends.”
“We met in second grade,” Jane informed. “I've known Janet for almost twenty years.”
“Wow, that's a long time!” Natia cheered. “How on Neopia are you two still so close?”
I was going to answer why when Allison walked back in. She sat next to me and said, “I just gave her some blocks and told her to build me something nice. That'll keep her busy for the next half hour. So Janet, Jane, what are you two doing here? Who are your friends?”
“This is Natia and James,” Jane introduced, pointing at the corresponding Neopet as she said their names. “As for why we're here–”
“–we're investigating a case and it's very possible that you have some answers,” I finished.
Allison snickered. “You two actually became detectives? Wow, that's impressive.” She crossed her legs on the couch. “Anyway, ask away. Whatever you have to ask me, go right ahead.”
Jane pulled out her notebook and began with saying, “Let's start off with the big question.”
“Are Matthew and Lauren Treiger dead?”
Something told me that Allison wasn't prepared for that question. It was either from her face going pale when she heard that or the look on her face that gave me that impression. The Xweetok didn't respond right away. She had to think of something to say.
“Wh-why are you asking that question?” Allison asked. That was her nervous voice. She was nervous and she was not hiding it well.
“According to Janet and Jane, some new information has surfaced saying that they didn't die from some sickness,” James answered. The purple Bori looked at me. “Is that what you said?”
I nodded. “Correct,” I replied. I looked back at Allison. “It's a simple question, Allison. Are they alive or dead?”
She played with her hair – a nervous habit of her’s. After a few seconds of silence, she finally gave us an answer. “I don't know, actually. I can confirm they didn't get sick, but I don't have a clue whether or not they're alive now.”
“Hold on, alive now?” I crossed my arms. “What are they up to?”
“They refuse to tell me!” Now Allison was getting frustrated. Her words were running into each other. “They keep sending me letters giving me a basic explanation of what's going on in case something goes wrong and I need to do something in court. The last letter was sent three weeks ago saying that what they're doing exactly is supposed to be this big secret. They said they needed help, but how can I help if they don't tell me what they need help with?” She stopped for a few seconds. “Sorry. I got off track.”
“No no, it's fine,” Jane informed, scribbling away in her notebook. “Though I must ask, what are they doing? Tell us what you know.”
“Alright. They said something about a crime ring. Maybe stopping it?”
“Stopping a crime ring?” I commented. Hmm, I remembered the police chief saying something on trying to stop a crime ring. “Why on Neopia would they do that?”
“Oh, they never told you two. Matt and Lauren aren't business-Neopets. They're detectives like you two.”
Okay, pause, hold on, wait just a minute. They were detectives?! Jane and I didn't know that! We knew them better than most! How on Neopia did we not know? Ugh, and we were supposed to be detectives.
“They were?” James asked. I would have asked, but I was still in a little bit of shock from that. Jane was in shock, too.
“They are,” Allison corrected. “Janet, Janet, I'm surprised you didn't know. I thought that they would tell you. They knew you were planning on being detectives, after all.”
“That's why we're so surprised to hear this,” I snapped.
Jane recovered from the shock she received. “Why didn't they tell us?” she asked.
Allison tapped her fingers on her leg while she thought for a minute. “I really don't know. They're not so willing to let others know,” she answered. “Something about going around in secret and protecting those they care about.”
That made sense, actually. Jane and I actually did that. Other than our clients and Neopets we worked with, the only ones who really knew that we were detectives were Natia and James. Even though Natia wasn't really a detective and James became one recently.
“Do you still have those letters?” James asked. “If you could give them to us, it could really help.”
“Oh, sure, of course you can have them,” Allison answered. “Some aren't open, but you're free to open them. I'm not sure if I can help you guys out anymore than I have, though.”
“No, it's fine!” Natia said in that cheery voice. “James, do you want to come outside with me?”
The Bori looked confused at her statement. “Why do you want me to go outside with you?”
“Because Allison gave the look Janet gives me when she wants me to leave and I think she wants the same.”
The alien Aisha pulled him out of his seat and to the front door. At that point, James just knew it would be best to go with her. Ah, Natia. Both perky and a bit pushy.
Why would Allison want them to leave, though?
“How on Neopia do you know those two?” Allison asked once they were outside.
“Two very long stories,” I answered. “So Allison, where are those letters?”
“Before I get them, I want to talk to you two first.” Allison stood up. “I'm glad you two are sticking together, to begin. Matt and Lauren always wanted you two to stick together.”
Jane nodded. As she stood up, she said, “Well we're all we have left, in a sense.”
“Of course. Listen, you two. I didn't want to say this in front of them.” She crossed her arms – that meant she wanted to be taken seriously. “Be careful. You don't want to lose each other, do you? I have no clue what this crime ring is doing, but I know it's dangerous. You've lost enough family without something happening to either of you.” The rainbow Xweetok game a side smile. “Listen to your former babysitter, got it, you two?” Jane and I laughed a little and nodded. “Good. I'll get those letters for you.”
To be continued…