A Waffle Paradise Circulation: 90,556,056 Issue: 163 | 22nd day of Collecting, Y6
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The Case of the Lying Letter: Part One


by playmobil_is_my_life

--------

Also by tambourine_chimp

A young Wocky named Cali was sitting on the edge of her bed, reading her favorite book Cloudy Wocky Days. Outside, the sky was gray and the wind was blowing hard, so she was stuck inside of her Neohome. She flipped the page with her fire-colored paw when her door burst open. Cali's eyes darted to the doorway and her sister, TigerWing, stepped in.

      "Ever heard of knocking?"

     "Sorry," said the purple Pteri, "but it's time for lunch."

     Cali reluctantly stood up and set the book on her desk. Waiting for her and TigerWing in the kitchen were two grilled cheese sandwiches. Cali had only taken one bite when she heard the click of Neomail being dropped through the slot on the door. She hurriedly went to fetch it, throwing it on the table as she sat back down. TigerWing sifted through it with her purple wingtips and exclaimed,

     "Look! This Neomail is from Wiseguy."

     TigerWing and Cali's brother, Wiseguy, was residing in the Neolodge for a couple of weeks to relax. TigerWing excitedly slit open the envelope and read the letter out loud,

     "Hello, Cali and TigerWing, how are you? Everything is fine here in the Neolodge. Loving every moment of it! Problem is, I don't think our owner told you where I was going...wish you could've come with me! I hope you're not having too much fun without me!

      Hey, I'm sure she'll take you in the future; you know how she likes to be fair to us. A moment ago two waiters crashed into each other, their trays flew everywhere! Very funny, I'm telling you. Every minute here is fun. Believe me, I wish you two had been here. Even if only for that! Enough of that, though, I've got to stop soon. Never mind, eh?

      Knackering. I can only describe the gyms here as knackering. Definitely knackering. No, more than that. Arduous. Probably even worse! Problem is, I can't stop myself from using them. Enough of this, too, I must stop now. Direct my regards and thanks to our kind owner, playmobil_is_my_life."

     Cali frowned. Neither she nor TigerWing said anything for a moment.

     "Well, that's nice that he's having fun," said TigerWing, folding up the letter and placing it across from her. When she glanced at Cali, she noticed that Cali looked confused, "What?"

     "Well…" Cali chose her next words carefully, because she knew that it was going to sound foolish, "it just doesn't sound like something Wiseguy would write."

     TigerWing cocked her head at Cali and picked up the letter again. As she began to read, her expression turned surprised. "Knackering?" She echoed, "I'm not even sure I know what that means."

     "I'm not sure that 'knackering' is even a word… maybe we should go check on Wiseguy," Cali suggested. "You know… make sure he's okay."

     "Cali, I think you're overreacting."

     "I don't know…" Cali said slowly, "but I'm going to the Neolodge. Will you come with me? Please? You know Sam won't let me go alone. And you know I'd never do this unless I was sure that something was wrong."

     Seeing how important this was to Cali, TigerWing nodded and said, "Okay, let's go."

     Their owner, Sam, (playmobil_is_my_life) came into the kitchen and asked, "Going somewhere?"

     "We're going to… visit Wiseguy," said TigerWing, taking the letter with her.

     "It looks like it might rain. If it does, come back soon, okay?"

     TigerWing couldn't guarantee that they would be back when it rained, so she said, "Cali and I are going to spend the day with him at the Neolodge... maybe longer. Wiseguy promised that he would show us around." Sam nodded as Cali sped out the door, taking off at full speed.

     "Cali!" TigerWing called. "Wait for me, it's so hard to fly in this wind!" Cali slowed her pace as TigerWing flew above her, her wings beating like crazy. Cali's heart was racing, but she didn't stop. She had this sinking feeling in her stomach that something bad had happened to Wiseguy.

     Cali and TigerWing raced off Wishing Well Drive and they spotted the familiar gray building ahead. Once they were inside, they paused to catch their breath.

     The light hurt TigerWing's eyes for a moment, the room was so bright compared to the gray outside. The floor was marble and an enormous golden chandelier was hanging above them. TigerWing could have stayed and admired the room, but Cali walked up to a Yurble sitting behind the front desk and said,

      "Excuse me, but I'm looking for my brother, Wiseguy. He is supposed to be staying here for a couple of weeks."

     "Wiseguy…Wiseguy…" repeated the Yurble, flipping through drawers of files, "yes. He lives at Wishing Well Drive?" Cali nodded. "He is staying on the second floor, in room F."

     "Thanks." Cali fled up the stairs, and TigerWing hurried after her.

     "See? That Yurble said that Wiseguy was here!" TigerWing called out, as Cali was busy looking at the room numbers.

     "Here's 2F," said Cali, ignoring TigerWing. She pounded on the door and took a step back. There was no answer. Cali pounded on the door again, this time more desperately. Then she tried to turn the knob, but it was locked.

     "Maybe he went to the bazaar," TigerWing suggested.

     "There was no one in the bazaar, it looked like it was going to rain, remember?" Cali tried to hide the fear from her voice.

     "Well…" TigerWing mused, "let's check downstairs. Maybe he's in the gym."

     But there was no trace of Wiseguy anywhere downstairs. TigerWing could see that Cali was freaked out by Wiseguy's mysterious disappearance. TigerWing was convinced that Wiseguy had just gone to the shops or something.

     "Excuse me," TigerWing said to the Yurble behind the front desk, "do you remember seeing a glowing Wocky pass by here?"

     "Glowing?" the Yurble thought. "I would have remembered seeing one. A glowing Draik came through a few times, and I'm sure I'd remember if there were any other glowing Neopets. Sorry."

     "No problem," TigerWing said slowly. She and Cali exited the Neolodge. TigerWing felt numb all over, and it wasn't because of the cold rain that was blowing in her face. She and Cali stood under the awning and TigerWing said, "Come on. Let's go to the Deep Catacombs for a cup of coffee and we'll discuss it there."

     ***

     The Coffee Shop in the Deep Catacombs was very empty. In fact, they were the only Neopets down there except for a green Lupe in a booth to himself. Cali and TigerWing took a booth behind the Lupe, next to the window.

     "Can I get you anything, dears?" A yellow Shoyru asked. TigerWing ordered a Tigersquash Cappuccino and Cali skipped right to dessert of a Zeenana Split.

     Cali looked like she was trying not to cry and TigerWing was getting upset herself. Their coffee and split was brought to them moments later and they said nothing while eating.

     "Look, I'm sure we'll find Wiseguy," TigerWing replied soothingly, trying to calm down her sister. "Though it's not like him to run off and leave behind false explanations!"

     "TigerWing, I'm so worried," Cali admitted. She had only taken a few bites of her Zeenana Split and it was quickly melting.

     "Everything is going to be okay," TigerWing repeated, "we can't jump to conclusions that he ran off, or disappeared without a trace."

      "Gone without a trace, you say?" a figure asked from behind the screen that separated the tables in the Coffee Shop. TigerWing and Cali jumped, turning to the voice. "Is someone missing?"

      TigerWing glanced at the figure, only to see that it was the green Lupe.

     "Of course someone is missing!" Cali cried shrilly, "If there wasn't someone missing, why would we be down here worrying our heads off? And what's it got to do with you anyway...?"

The green Lupe

      Whoever had just spoken to me was obviously upset and preferred to keep their grievances to themselves. I was aware that they were frightened for the missing Neopet. Something terrible was happening in their lives...but they didn't want any help; that much was clear.

      But then again, hadn't I only recently been bellyaching that I hadn't had a decent case to sink my fangs into for weeks? And suddenly there's a disappearance being discussed at the table right next to me. Coincidence? I think not.

      Getting up from my table, I padded over to where the two Neopets were seated. They both wore very solemn expressions and I could tell this wasn't just your ordinary missing pet case...this was serious stuff.

      "What can I do to help?"

      Great one, kojak_hommes, master of the subtle arts! Why not just say "Tell me what's wrong and leave it all to me?" Honestly, for all the brains you like to think you have, there's obviously not enough room left for politeness, huh?

      "And who are you?" the fire Wocky asked coldly. I could tell by the glare she gave me that she and the purple Pteri wished I would just walk out the door and out of their lives. Again, not going to happen. Uh-uh, not when I'm in full eager-for-a-case mode.

      "The name's hommes," I said as kindly as I could, given the circumstances. "Kojak_hommes, and I'm a Private Investigator..."

To be continued...

 
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