Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 91,590,388 Issue: 174 | 21st day of Sleeping, Y7
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The Case of the Invisible Incident: Part One

by tambourine_chimp


From the case-files of Kojak_Hommes, Lupe Private Eye…

Have you ever heard a saying in the crime-solving business that in each case there's one underlying common denominator? Or, if you're about as bright as a wet match, that no matter what case you undertake, there'll always be something in common with all the other cases you've ever done, and all that you will do in the future?

     Well, for me that underlying common denominator was a little something known as déjà vu, and plenty of it. Déjà vu, for those that aren't known to the phrase, means something generally along the lines of "a thing that happens more than once, or keeps repeatedly happening." For me, my déjà vu was that…well, I'll wait and see if you can guess what it was by the end of this installment of my next "thrilling" (please note the sarcasm here, I was made to say this by my owner so that the story appealed to a wider audience, but he didn't say anything about believing in it) mystery.

     Where to start on this crime-caper…? Of course, at the beginning would be the most sensible idea, but I've always been one to go against the majority, so I'll start at the end.

     You see, it was really the -

     Actually, that would ruin six whole parts, and make this story totally useless. I mean, who would read a mystery on how I found out whodunit if I tell you straight of? You'd be reading my progressing exploits whilst muttering "Yes, yes, come on, get on with it!" through your gritted teeth. And I wouldn't want to be responsible for a group of toothless readers, now would I?

     So, in all honesty, and just to be on the safe side, I'll start where most great (not to say that this story will be great in the sense that it's the best story ever, but great in the sense that I'm following the footsteps of all the greats) stories do and go from the beginning…

     Unlike my previous case (here I'm of course referring to "Case of the Wand that Wasn't" and not "The Case of the Lying Letter" as that was more of an international adventure which I didn't get paid for), I had no idea my soon-to-be client was actually looking for me on the morning I was spending in the Lenny Library.

     For those of you that don't know where or what the Lenny Library looks like, let me describe it briefly. It's a great big bluey-green building in the shape of a large "L." Now, whether this "L" stands for Lenny or Library, I don't know…in fact, I doubt any of the Lenny Librarians working there even know. Anyways, inside this building is every single book in print in Neopia, as well as quite a few retired books. You could borrow most of the books freely (as long as you had a valid library card and no criminal record), but not the retired ones. These are closely guarded on the highest floor, where only those with the right attitude and intelligence could read them in the confines of the Library's given room.

     This is where I was, browsing through a rather tattered-looking tome called "The Booke of Ancient Neopian Civilizations and Their Lore," my newly-painted glowing fur helping illuminate the text in the dimly-lit room. Did you know that the Tyrannians used various series of cave paintings to create stories or comics, quite like we do today with the Neopian Times? Heck, they even managed to create humorous paintings (stick man under rock, rock fall down - splat! Har, har, har!) They may look like they all jumped on the bandwagon to Stupid Town, but they're more cultured then we think, you take my word.

     Anyway, I was halfway through reading a particularly interesting section on the Maraquan festivals when my acute Lupe ears picked up something outside the room. Even though there were about three bookshelves between me and the door, I still managed to pick-up the faint argument beyond it.

     "Sorry sir, you can't go in there…Neopets only, I'm afraid," announced a voice I distinctively recognize as the guard who had been on duty when I entered the room. I think the name badge pinned to his feathery chest said his name was Samuel or something along those lines.

     My neon-like green eyebrows furrowed at this; was a human really trying to get in? Whatever for? Everyone knows humans can't read Neopian books; they're strictly for us Neopets' need for learning.

     "I know I'm not supposed to go in, but I have to!" another voice, definitely a male boy's, shouted back in exasperation.

     "Well, you can't go in and that's final," Samuel grunted with seething anger, "and could I please remind you to keep your voice down? Where do you think you are, the Concert Hall?"

     "Sorry," the boy muttered urgently, "but there is someone in there I really must see this instant!"

     "Well, then if you give me his name, I'll call him out for you…"

     By this time I was already making my way towards the door as I was about the only person in the room, other than a bespectacled Kacheek, and he was fast asleep on a pile of Neopedias anyway. Unless the snoozing pet was the solution to this boy's problem, I doubted he wanted anyone but me, and as I neared the door my guess was affirmed as I heard my own name.

     "Hommes," the told the Lenny guard impatiently, "Mr. Kojak_Hommes…he's a green Lupe, I believe? I have a problem, and I was told he'd be able to help -"

     "Could this wait?" I asked, poking my head round the door, whiskers brushing against the flaking-paint of the doorframe, "You see, I'm just in the middle of something and it's - oh."

     This abrupt end to my sorry excuse came because I had suddenly looked into the boy's face…no, wait, let me expand that last sentence. I had suddenly looked into the boy's tear-streaked face as he stared sadly at me, a dim flicker of hope hiding behind them. I decided now was not the best time to pick him up on the fact that I was no longer green, as a correction such as this would probably have the same effect as a slap in the face.

     "What's the matter?" I asked, stepping-out into the corridor. But before the boy could answer, Samuel the Lenny guard stepped in between us, a grim scowl etched on his face. Looking down, I noticed I was still carrying the old book I had just been reading. Apologizing deeply, I stepped back into the room, where I left the book on a table for a Lenny librarian to put away in the right place.

     When the boy had managed to calm himself down, I took him over to a pair of plush chairs in one corner of the top floor, away from Samuel and anyone else who might have been within earshot. "Now," I muttered softly so as to avoid the librarians' attention by speaking too loud, "what is the problem you wanted to see me about? Is it a case you want me to handle?"

     Glumly, the boy just nodded in silence. Having waited a few minutes for further information and failing to receive any, I pressed-on.

     "What type of crime are you talking about here? Theft, kidnapping, missing-persons?"

     "Isn't that just the same as kidnapping?" the boy asked suddenly, shocking me out of my attempt to list all of the crimes possible.

     "Erm…sort of. You see, a kidnapping is different from a missing persons case in the sense that you know from the start the missing has been kidnapped. Whereas a missing person is just…er, well, missing." I finished rather pathetically, looking down at my paws in embarrassing silence. Hey, I'm just meant to know the difference, not explain it to everyone else, okay? "Why," I added after a while, "is someone you know missing?"

     "Oh, no," the boy answered with a lowered whisper, "he's not there, but I know that he is."

     "HUH?" I grunted a bit too loudly, causing a Lenny to raise her head above the nearest bookshelf, glaring in my direction. Lowering my head and my voice, I added, "What do you mean by that?"

     "Come with me," the boy said in answer, getting up from his chair and straightening himself, "and I'll explain it along the way…"

     As I followed him down the Library's many floors, the boy's "not there, but is" statement niggled at my mind something awful. It got so bad that as soon as we left the confines of the Library, I grabbed him by his shoulder, and turned him gently around to face me.

     "Whoa, wait a minute," I muttered, brow creased in thought, "what do you mean by "He's not there, but I know he is"? What's that supposed to mean?"

     "You're the super-smart detective," the boy muttered gruffly, evidently not happy with being yanked around by some canine that shone like a lit-up Christmas tree, "you figure it out."

     If there's one thing that makes my blood boil more than a snotty-nosed kid that looks down on us Neopets, it's a snotty-nosed kid that doubts my intelligence. Pausing for a moment, I decided to show him just how good I was…and then it came to me.

     "You have an invisible pet, don't you?" I asked slyly, watching the young boy's expression turn from aloof superiority to startled amazement (man, I love that affect I have on people) as he stopped to look at me. "That's what you meant by him not being there but knowing that he is, isn't it? He's not there in the sense that you can't actually see him, but you know he's there whenever he talks to you!"

     "I'm impressed," the boy said softly, a warm smile beginning to spread across his face. "I'll admit I was starting to doubt your abilities, but you passed my little riddle with flying colors…but that's where the actual problem lies, you see." He added, his smile turning into a frown faster than a flipping banana. "He, as he very well is, is an invisible Shoyru, and I think he's stealing things from me while I'm in the room. And of course I can't trace any of the robberies back to his room because -"

     "He doesn't leave any footprints," I finished grimly, shaking my head at the sheer nerve of the crimes in question. "Very well," I added, my face set in determination, "let's go and see what I can do to help…"

  To Be Continued…

Author's Note: Well, you all demanded another Kojak mystery, so you all got one! Hope you like it so far, more to come next week!

     By the way, Kojak's case of déjà vu here is that the crimes are being committed whilst something or someone else is in the room. Remember Growler the Doglefox in "Wand that Wasn't"…?

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