The Mystery of the Missing Picnic
It all started on a warm, breezy day in Meridell.
It was around lunchtime. I had been up in my bedroom reading until now, and my rumbling stomach brought me downstairs and into the kitchen, where my older sister, Ophelia, was already eating.
“Want some lunch?” my owner, Vivian, asked me. “We have some Banana and Kiwi Pizza left over from last night.”
Looking at the mushy glob of dough, sauce, cheese and fruit that lay in a heap on my sister’s plate, I wrinkled my nose up and shook my head. “No, thanks.”
I peeked around in the cupboards, trying to find something I wanted to eat. Standing on tiptoe, I reached up and grabbed hold of the handle on the topmost cabinet.
“Selby, no!” Vivian warned me, but it was too late. I had already opened the cupboard, forgetting that it was our junk cabinet. Mounds of random bits and pieces avalanched onto my head, bouncing on the counter, rolling onto the floor.
“Ouch.” I rubbed the sore spot on my head where a certain Fire Faerie Snowglobe had decided to make its own personal landing pad.
Bending down to scoop up some of the stuff that had fallen out, I recognized our old wicker picnic basket.
“Hey!” I exclaimed, picking it up with my free hand. “We haven’t been on a picnic in a long time.”
“Don’t look at me,” Ophelia snapped. “I’m going to the NC Mall with Marielle today.”
I looked hopefully at Vivian.
“Sorry, hon,” she said with a frown. “I have to go grocery shopping.”
“Okay,” I said. “I’ll just go by myself.”
So I packed the picnic basket up with some goodies, folded our Red Picnic Blanket up into a neat square, and tucked my book into the corner of the basket. I was ready to go.
* * *
It didn’t take me long at all to find a good place to stop and eat my lunch. It was a nice, sunny little hill that was just perfect for picnics. It was far away enough from town so that it was quiet and peaceful, but not so far that I wouldn’t be able to easily find my way back. The sun was shining right down on it, but not in a glaring, obnoxious way. More like a soothing, sleepy way. There was an apple tree at the top of the hill that provided some lovely dappled shade and the grass was just right, soft and bright green. From the hill, I could see everything in the surrounding area. I took out my blanket and set it up underneath the tree, then poked around in my basket and examined the lunch I had packed.
It was a beautiful lunch. I looked forward to eating it very much. There were some Juppie Jam Sandwiches all wrapped up in purple paper; some Cherry Scones and Stuffed Figs; a jug of Purplum Iced Tea; a little bundle of Sesame Sticks and for dessert, Sniddberry Butter Cookies (my favorite). I spread the picnic blanket out in a neat, orderly square and then laid out all the food I had brought with me. I looked with pride upon my picnic. What a glorious picnic it would be!
Before I started eating, however, I wished to climb the apple tree and see the view from there. I absolutely love to climb trees. So I stood up and walked in a circle around the tree, trying to find a good place to begin my climb.
As I was walking, my toe got caught in something and I stumbled. Sharp pain shot through my ankle.
“What was that?” I wondered aloud, looking around on the ground and scratching my long orange Aisha ears quizzically.
Then I saw a small hole in the earth, about the size of my fist, surrounded by a pile of loose dirt. So that was the culprit.
Wincing as I hobbled back to my picnic blanket, I scanned the area in a desperate attempt to find some sort of cloth to wrap my ankle in. When my search turned up fruitless, I decided to climb the tree anyways. I wrapped my arms around a large branch and scrambled up onto it, taking care to be extra cautious with my twisted ankle. When I had reached the top, I found a convenient branch on which I could elevate my foot. After I had done so, I lay back and sighed contently. It was so comfortable up here, so peaceful and warm. And before I knew it, I had fallen asleep.
* * *
When my eyelids fluttered drowsily open, I stretched, yawned, and rubbed my eyes. Where was I again? Oh, yes, on top of the apple tree. Had I fallen asleep? For how long? Looking to the sky above me, I saw that the sun had scarcely moved from the position I had last seen it, which meant I had only been asleep for two or three minutes.
I leaned forward to examine my ankle. Much to my relief, the swelling had gone down and it was feeling much better.
Then, my stomach made a strange gurgling noise. I was famished! Starving! Hungry beyond belief! I remembered my lovely little lunch and my heart gave a happy little jump. I couldn’t wait to eat.
I made my way down through the branches of the apple tree and lowered myself down to the picnic blanket, only to find it completely empty! Not a crumb of food was to be found.
“How strange,” I murmured, trying to make sense of it all.
The picnic basket was still there, so I checked it to make sure I really hadn’t taken my food out of it yet, and that I hadn’t just dreamed that I had. No food. Not a bit.
Who could have taken it? My first instinct was to climb back up onto the tree and look around. I was glad that I had chosen my picnic spot here, because as I said earlier, I could see everything in the surrounding area. Since I had only been asleep for a few minutes, if someone had nipped by and swiped my lunch, I would be able to see them from here. There was no forest land or shrubbery to hide behind, just broad fields flooded in sunlight. When I reached the top of the tree, I scoured the land before me, hoping to catch a glimpse of the lunch-snatcher. I had no such luck. It was just as it had been before I fell asleep. So the culprit either found some ingenious hiding place or was an extremely fast runner, both of which I highly doubted. But perhaps the criminal was a flying pet? A Shoyru or an Eyrie could have easily swooped down and taken what they wanted. And now I would never know. You see, it wasn’t really the fact that I wouldn’t be able to eat my lovely lunch, but more because I just wanted to know, to give me a sense of closure. I’m a very curious pet, and finding out who had taken my lunch and how they had done it was more important to me than actually getting my food back. However, I was really very hungry and I probably wouldn’t have minded too much if I did get my lunch back as well as catch the thief. Dispiritedly, I climbed back down the tree, and momentarily forgetting my injured ankle, landed with most of my weight on it. Wincing, I clutched my throbbing ankle and limped back to my picnic blanket.
My mind flew back to the hole I had overlooked and stepped in, causing my twisted ankle. What had caused that, I wondered. What would make a hole like that?
All of the sudden, something clicked in my brain. Of course, I thought. How could I have not noticed it before? I almost laughed out loud.
I shuffled back to the small hole that I had tripped in earlier. Bending down and sitting on my heels, I made a soothing clucking sound and patted the grass near the hole. I leaned back in hopes of seeing farther down the hole.
After a few moments, a quivering black nose the size of a pea poked cautiously out of the hole, working like crazy. A few more moments passed and the rest of the creature’s tiny body began to slowly emerge: A round, brown head with a pointy snout and big, curious eyes, a squat little body with brown fur and, finally, two little clawed feet. A ring of some kind of sticky, purple substance framed its little mouth. Juppie Jam. In his paws he held the remnants of a Cherry Scone. I knew it!
It was kind of funny to think that a teeny-tiny little Symol, in the span of about three minutes, had snuck up here and eaten, or at least stored in his burrow, my entire lunch. It was so funny that I wasn’t even mad at him.
“Hey, little guy,” I said gently. The Symol’s ears perked up and he turned towards me, nose still twitching furiously. He looked like he was deciding whether or not I was safe to approach. Stepping hesitantly in my direction, the Symol made his cautious way over to where I was sitting. Dropping to all four legs, he looked up at me, his brown eyes wide.
“It’s alright,” I soothed him. “I won’t hurt you.” Ever so slowly, I reached out my hand and stroked his velvety head. Inching closer, the Symol nudged my leg and curled up in the grass. A wide grin spread across my face. He was so cute!
I remembered having read something about how Symols live in groups. But this one seemed to be all alone.
“Where’s your family?” I asked him, patting his head. He looked up at again, eyes sad, nose twitching as if trying to tell me about his past.
I felt sorry for the little guy, out here all on his own. Just then, my brain clicked once more as a perfect idea passed my mind.
“How would you like to come home with me and be my Petpet?” I asked him.
Little Guy made a happy little squealing noise and rolled over and over in the grass, his nose trembling faster than ever.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” I laughed, scooping Little Guy up and gathering up my picnic things.
So the mystery of the missing picnic was solved. But next time I go on a picnic, I thought, I’m going to have to bring an extra basket for Little Guy here.