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So we had another story in Creative Writing, this time having to do with a Murder Mystery. I wasn't sure why I decided to do what I did, but I really wanted to write about mice. I'm sure this has everything to do with my deep seeded love for Brian Jacques and the Redwall series, but I also took inspiration from Ratatouille as far as the setting goes. However, this isn't a kid's story, again, probably because of the Redwall influence.

I didn't go through and check for errors, and there are a couple things I want to bchange (like replacing Tombo with Ambrose, so that he can be there from the eginning and such.) I got really into it, though (I was up until 4:30 this morning. I'm insane.) and I kinda like. So yeah.

I realize it ends kind of abruptly. The page limit was max of 20, and this is 21 and two lines, and I didn't want to go much past that. When it comes time to revise our works for the final project, I'll give it a proper conclusion.

Anyway, hope you like it aaaand thanks for reading.

The Mysterious Murder of Edison Flaxtail, Followed by the Disappearance of an Object of Great Importance, a Supposed Kidnapping, and the Unexpected Outcoem of the Entire Ordeal

By Campbell Flugene
 
Our story begins on a cool autumn evening at Mrs. Matson’s farmhouse, where we mice live. A pleasant breeze was wafting through the air, and the trees had shed their green for far more solemn colors. The various plants and produce neatly arranged in Mrs. Matson’s garden were just ripe for harvesting. It was a rather perfect end to the day, but what made it even more perfect was the fact that there had been a large family dinner the night before, and the trash heap was full of leftover food.

Naturally, we mice were excited to begin collecting. After all, the winter season was fast approaching and we were behind on stocking up. Usually, we rely on Thanksgiving scraps to carry us through, but that year, the feast came early when some relative of Mrs. Matson had a child and they all decided to throw a party. Once everyone was full on smoked turkey and garden salad and garlic mashed potatoes and the like, what was left was dumped in the trash pile towards the back of the house, a convenient location just around the corner of the hole we use to get from the attic to the garden.

The day after the feast, with a score and a half of mice, we made our way to the trash heap to start collecting food. The group was larger than the usual fifteen, but so was the food supply. Even Rolf Christoph, the elder of our colony,insisted he come along, if only to oversee the events. He was the first I helped get on top of pile of food, but we weren't the first there.

“Begone, begone, you pesky beasts!” Rolf Christoph shouted, waving his paws in the air in an attempt to chase away the crows nipping at the scraps. They ruffled their feathers and hopped to the side, but quickly returned to their previous spots when they realized the elderly mouse wasn't much of a threat.

“I'll handle this, Mr. Christoph!” Tombo called out eagerly, rushing around Christoph and flinging himself at the birds, who scattered away at the sight of this much larger girth and energy.

“Be careful, Tombo,” I said, helping Betty up the edge. “Not all birds will have so kind of a response.”

“Sorry, Campbell. Go carried away, s'all. Never been so close to a bird in my life.”

“Get that close again and that may be the last bird you see,” an older mouse said, scolding Tombo, even as I was helping him up. I placed a paw on his shoulder.

“No need to be so hard on him, Ritz. You know how excited the young mice get on their first trip down here. Let him have his fun.”
“Fun, bah!” Ritz huffed, brushing my hand away. “Let's see how much he's havin' when he's screamin' at the top o' his lungs, clutched in the talons of some hawk who fancies him for a snack. Happened to my cousin, ya know.”

Betty, who'd been listening in on the conversation, let out a laugh. “Tombo'd scare off any hawk that tries to catch him.” Tombo gave her a smile for the support. Ritz grumbled for a bit longer while I helped more mice up.

With the group now all together on the trash heap, we set to work finding food that was in fair enough condition to bring back to the colony. Food that was deemed acceptable was tossed into a small doll's wagon one of the human children had left in the garden. We worked quickly, with the day light fading as night approached. No mouse wants to be left outside during the night hours.

Once the wagon was full, we made our way to the hole in the side of the house that led up to the attic. It usually wasn't too long a haul, but the wagon was filled almost triple our normal loot. With everyone assembled on the rope, we got ready to push and pull. Betty, however, had no plans to join in the work, and was hoping Tombo was just as reluctant. She walked up to him hovering over the rope. “Hey, Tombo,” she teased. “I bet you can't beat me back to the opening.”

Tombo's ears perked up at the challenge. “I doubt it!” he said, and abandoned the idea of helping with the wagon pulling. I took his place and watched as the pair took off.

“Be careful, kids!” Rolf Christoph called after them, just before they disappeared around the corner.

“Bah,” came the familiar sound of Ritz behind me. “Let Pascal catch 'em, it'd be their own fault!” he said, his voice rising at the end in hopes that they would hear.

The wagon moved slowly despite all our combined efforts, but we wouldn't be at it for long. Without warning, there came a high pitched scream from behind the house. The wagon came to a halt as we stood in stunned silence.

Then a whisper: “Pascal.”

At the sound of that name, we all scattered, abandoning the wagon and ducking behind any cover available. Whiskers quivered and hearts raced as we waited for something to happen, anticipating the worst, expecting a hair, pointy eared face to peer around the corner, searching for his next victim.

Instead, we saw Tombo's familiar form dashing around the corner. There was no sigh of relief from any of us though, due to the horrified expression on his face. “Help! Help!” he screamed.

I rushed from my hiding spot to confront Tombo. “What is it Tombo? What's wrong? Where's Betty?”

“It's Edison. Edison Flaxtail. He's...” Tombo's eyes were wide with fear. I turned to Ritz, who had emerged from hiding almost as quickly as I had. More mice had begun to stuck their heads out, a few making their way towards us, tails still shaking from the fright. “Everyone stay here,” I said, unaware of what was around the corner and not wanting to lead such a large group to whatever it was that awaited me.
The first thing I noticed was Betty, crouched on the ground, head buried in her paws. In front of her was a mass which I recognized as Edison only when I reached Betty. He lay sprawled on his back, head angled unnaturally upwards, tongue sticking out and his eyes rolled back. I placed my paw on Betty to comfort her, and she jumped up, not realizing I was there. She threw herself at me in agony, burying her face in my chest. “My grandpa! I-it killed my grandpa!”

“Who did? What did you see, Betty?” I asked, wiping away her tears, to no avail. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Rolf Christoph and several other Ritz coming around the corner.

Betty sniffed and sputtered a bit before answering. “It was a-a rat! I s-s-saw it running away!”

Rolf Christoph was now by our side, while Ritz observed the body. “But why would a at attack Edison?”

Ritz angrily shook his head. “Those rats are no good, none! We never should have let them stay in the basement. Should've chased them out.”

While Ritz continued his angry rant, and Rolf stood dumbfounded, comforting Betty, I called Ambrose over. He was, and still is, my closest friend, and the only mouse I would trust going into dangerous situations with. “She says the killer went that way,” I told him, pointing towards a patch of grass growing along the side of the house.

We ran over to the killer's supposed escape route, where there was a clear path of disturbed grass leading away from the scene. We followed it, hoping to catch up to the rat who did the deed.

“Wait!” Ambrose called out. I hadn't realized that he had stopped for a moment. “Look at this, Campbell.” He pointed to a piece of cube of cheese on the ground. “Whoever ran through here must have dropped this.”

“How can you tell?” I asked.

“See the bite marks? Still wet with saliva.”

“Alright, someone been through here, now let's keep going.” We moved on, the trail leading us to another, smaller hole further down from the one the mice used – the rat hole. Ambrose gave me a hesitant look, but I entered anyway, eager to catch the suspect. After a few moments of clinging to the walls blindly, as our eyes adjusted to the darkness. The air was musky and damp,smelling nothing like the fresh air of the garden outside. We had almost adjusted fully when a large figured blocked our path. “Whatchya mousefolk doin' down here? Speak, speak! What'dya want, what'dya want?”

Though my vision was not fully adapted to my dark surroundings, I stood tall. “We have reason to believe on of your kind has killed a member of our colony. We request a meeting with your leader and permission to survey your residents to look find the suspect.”

The rat let out a nasty laugh hat echoed down the long hall. He yelled out something in the harsh tongue of the rats, and another rat, smaller than him, appeared. She was hunched over, and in the dim light I could only make out her paws, gnarled and scarred, perhaps from a gnawing problem. The rat that blocked our path said something to her and her she backed away, showing her teeth. “Go way, Scabs did nothing, and saw nothing, ya? You mouseys type made me drop food. Go way, go way!”

Ambrose, who had been cowering behind me previously, now stepped away, confronting the rat who identified herself as Scabs. “So you killed Edison, and the cheese you dropped fleeing the scene is proof of that!”

“Keel? Scabs no keel! No keel! Go way, go way!”

“But we need to speak to your leader! This is a violation of our treaty -” I was interrupted by more snarls from Scabs. She began to rant in rat-tongue, and the other rat now stood tall above us, teeth bared. “You hear Scabs, leave now!”

Ambrose seemed ready to fight, but I held him back. “It's clear we're not getting anywhere with them. We'll have to go back and try this in a more official manner. Besides, Edison Flaxtail needs our attention right now.”

We left down the long hall back to the fresh air and now darkened sky of the garden.


The attic was busy with activity with mice eager for information regarding Edison Flaxtail's death and the rat who caused it, as well as mice transporting food from the collection to the icebox. (Even in death, a supply of food for the winter is always high priority.) Goldy was the first to meet us when Ambrose and I returned.

“Did you catch the fiend?” she asked.

“Not physically, no,” Ambrose replied. “But we have a confidence that it is a rat named Scabs.”

“Not so fast, Ambrose,” I said. “We can't be certain of anything yet. Goldy, take me to Rolf Christoph, I must discuss the situation with him.”

“Right” Goldy said, and we followed her through the crowd of mice gathering around, drowning out one another with questions of Edison's death, desperate for explanation. We entered the open chest that Rolf Christoph had converted into his home, which stood above the rest of the colony on a pile of suitcases so that he could overlook all activity below. Rolf Christoph was comforting Kashi Flaxtail, the wife of Edison Flaxtail. They spoke in hushed tones, heads bent down, tears running down Kashi's face and whiskers.

“That was supposed to be me...collecting today.” Kashi said quietly through sobs. “But I twisted my ankle and Edison took my place. Who would do this to him?”

“I promise you we will get to the bottom of this, Mrs. Flaxtail. Your husband's death will not go ignored.”

“Thank you Mr. Christoph. T-thank you. Thank you.” That was all Kashi could let out.

“Oh dear, it's the least I can do. And rest assured that we are still looking for your, ah, wedding acorn, so no needs to busy your mind over that.”

Kashi could only nod in response, taking another deep breath. Skippy, Goldy's sister, delicately took Kashi's paw and lad her out of the chest. Her sobs still echoed as Ambrose and I presented ourselves to Rolf Christoph.

“Ah, you returned unscathed, yet I see no rat in tow.”

“They didn't exactly comply with our wishes,” Ambrose replied.

“Regardless, it is one of them, correct?”

“I believe this case is more complicated than we believe,” I interjected. “I need to talk to Betty and Tombo and gather more information.”
Rolf Christoph looked at me, surprised. “What do you mean it's a complicated case, Campbell? Betty said she saw a rat do it.”

“She says she saw a rat, not that she saw her do it.”

“Her?”

“Yes, Scabs. She was the rat that Betty saw running from the scene.”

“Well there you go!” Rolf Christoph had begun pacing at this point, throwing his paws about as he had with the birds earlier. “The rat was clearly running away after killing Edison! Anyone would run away from that.”

“Or perhaps she was running away because she didn't want to be suspected,” I countered.

“Fat wad of good that did for her,” Ambrose mumbled under his breath. I shot him a look before continuing.

“Besides, what's the motive? What reason would Scabs have for killing Edison Flaxtail?”

Rolf Christoph rubbed his brow. “What reason would the rat have for coming out during the day, then? They're not allowed to.”

Goldy, who had been listening from the corner, piped up suddenly, “There are no rules stated in the treaty nor in rat law that prevents them from coming out during the day. She may have just been independently looking for something to eat at an odd hour of the day.”

Ambrose nodded. “She did drop some cheese she'd been eating while fleeing.”

“Not only that, but she claims to have seen the murder,” I said. “She says Edison was attacked by another mouse.”

Rolf Christoph was silent for several moments. His face contorted as he tried to understand the situation. “It's possible,” he sighed. “That things aren't as simple as we're making them out to be. Alright, Campbell. You may talk to Tombo and Betty and any other witnesses and see what you uncover. I promised Kashi that we would be thorough and I'm going to stay true to that promise.”

“Thank you, Rolf Christoph,” I said, nodding my head in an appreciative gesture. Rolph Christoph waved me away, and Ambrose and I exited. We didn't get far before we heard a set of pawsteps behind us.

“Campbell, Ambrose, wait a moment.” Goldy emerged from the chest and ran up to us. “Do you plan on going back to the rats?”

“Certainly, depending on what we gather from Betty and Tombo,” I said.

“I should come with you, then. As you know, I am ambassador to the rats. They know me, they respect me... kind of. And I can speak some of their language. You'd have a better chance of extracting information if I'm with you.”

“Thank you for the offer Goldy, if we need you, I'll be sure to-”

“Why don't you tag along now?” Ambrose interrupted. He ignored my disapproving stare, and continued. “You're not just good with rats, you're... well you're good with everyone! We could use a speaker like you!”

Goldy's eyes lit up. “Really? Oh, how exciting! I hope it's not a bother.”

“Oh, of course not, right Campbell?”

“Well,” I started, about to tell Goldy the real reasons Ambrose wanted her to come along, but she was already so excited for the opportunity. “Of course, it's no problem. Please, do join us, Goldy.”

Goldy thanked us once again, excited for the opportunity to do something new, outside of her job doing work for Rolf Christoph. Now a trio, we made our way to the Betty's nest, hoping to find her there. Instead, on the way, we ran into her mother, Mrs. Doyle, in absolute hysterics.
“Has anyone seen my baby?” she called out, looking around desperately, trying to get help from the other mice.

“Is something wrong, Mrs. Doyle?” Goldy asked, approaching Mrs. Doyle and trying to help her regain her composure.

“Oh, something's wrong, something is definitely wrong! I've been waiting for my Betty since they brought my father's body back, and she hasn't returned!”

I was shocked at the news. “Your daughter is missing?”

Mrs. Doyle nodded before letting out a long sob onto Goldy's shoulder. “I waited and waited but she's not back, and I'm growing worried. Ritz told me she made her way here first thing after the entire ordeal, but no one's seen her since.”

Ambrose gave her a comforting touch. “Don't worry, Mrs. Doyle. We're working hard to figure out this entire situation.”

After a few more minutes of attempting to calm Mrs. Doyle down, I began to realize that not only was this case far more complex than I imagined, but that it could be dangerous as well. “I'm sorry Mrs. Doyle,” I said, trying not to make our departure seem impersonal. “The sooner we leave, the sooner we find your daughter and your father's killer.”

Mrs. Doyle nodded. “I understand, and thank you. You're doing so much for us, and I just don't think I can thank you enough.”

We walked Mrs. Doyle back to her nest to rest and exited the attic, making our way down to the main level of the house.

On the way, I decided to reflect on what we knew. “Edison Flaxtail turns up dead in the garden, cause of death unknown, but signs point towards murder and suffocation. His body is found by Betty Doyle and Tombo Potter, and Betty claims to have seen a rat fleeing the scene. We found the rat, Scabs, who said she saw Edison get attacked by another mouse, but didn't provide any other description. Then Betty goes missing, even though Ritz said she was on her way back after finding the body of her grandfather.”

Ambrose tapped his tooth, gathering his thoughts. “So whoever committed the crime has Betty then.”

“I think that's safe to assume,” Goldy replied.

“But we can't be certain,” I said. “It's clear Betty isn't in the attic colony, so let's check with some of the wall families. Perhaps she's taken refuge with a relative there, which explains her disappearance. It may not be a kidnapping at all.”

“I make it a point to know everything about every mouse in the colony, wall families included, and I can tell you that Betty's only relative down step-aunt.”

Ambrose had a puzzled expression on his face. “Step-aunt?”

“It sounds a bit complicated, but don't forget that Edison Flaxtail is a widower. His previous wife was one of Pascal's victim some seasons ago, and he remarried Kashi. He already had a daughter, Cambridge, from his previous wife, but she moved away from the attic colony after the marriage, making herself a nest in the walls. Meanwhile, Kashi and Edison have a child, Mrs. Doyle, and then she gives birth to their granddaughter, Betty. All caught up now?”

Ambrose scratched his ear. “I... suppose. It sure is awfully confusing.”

We had made our way to down the kitchen area, where most of the wall family nests were clustered around, deep within the surrounding walls. It was a good location – away from the crowded attic and close to a near-constant supply of food. The risk was far greater though, thanks to the near constant presence of Pascal. He was growing old, and was a much heavier sleeper than when the mouse colony first began, but he was no less of a threat when he was awake and if you were spotted. Looking out into the kitchen, I could make out the large, furry mass of the creature previously mentioned tucked away in the corner, but little else. The room was dimly lit by the moonlight coming in from the windows. Late for a mouse to be up and about, but I had a mission to complete

“So what are we doing now?” Ambrose asked, warily eying Pascal for any signs of awakening.

“It's unlikely that Cambridge is at home, seeing as how her father recently passed,” Goldy noted.

“Let's visit the rats first, then,” I said.

Making our way as swiftly as possible, we dashed across the kitchen floor, taking the quickest path to a basement opening in the next room over. Pascal didn't even bat an eyelash.


“No no no, mouseys no welcomed here!” the rat guarding the entrance shouted, his head bobbing around in an odd manner. “You make leader very upset tellin' lies 'bout Scabs. He no talkin' to mouseys.”

Goldy stepped forward, trying to lower the twitchy rat's guard. “Please, understand that we're not here to accuse, er, say that Scabs did something wrong.” She then said something in rat-tongue, though it was clearly difficult for her to pick out the words from her memory.

This didn't quite please the rat guard, and he continued to snarl and bark his vulgar language. Goldy gave a rough translation. “Aside from the leader not wanting to see any 'mouseys', Scabs refuses to talk to anyone, rat or mouse. I can try again, but I'm not sure how much good it will do.”

At that moment, I saw a movement in the corner of my eye, and realized that arguing with this rat was pointless. “That's all right, Goldy. It's about time we call it day anyway. We'll come back tomorrow and start over fresh,” I said, keeping my true intentions hidden. “Please bid this lovely fellow good bye.”

Goldy tripped over her words a bit, surprised by the sudden change of plans. She said something to the rat, he hissed a reply, and we turned around to leave.

“Hey now, what was that about?” Ambrose declared. “We hardly got a word out of him, and we certainly didn't talk to no Scabs, neither.”

“That's because we don't need to go through any rat guards tonight,” I said, turning towards the shadows of the hall. “Isn't that right, Scabs?”

The rat revealed herself in the blue light coming in from the kitchen door way. She as nibbling nervously at her paw, wet with saliva and fresh blood. “Leader not let Scabs talk to mousey. Says treaty will be broken, and bad things will happen. But Scabs wants to help mousey. Tell mousey what Scabs saw.”

Goldy, Ambrose and I joined Scabs in the light. Goldy was the first to speak. “I promise you that there will be no violence, and if you can help us prove that the killer was not a rat, the treaty will not be violated.” She spoke a few more sentences in rat-tongue, as if to make sure the message really came across that the rat was not at fault.

She seemed to understand, and brought her paw away from her mouth. Scabs turned to me, looking into my eyes, massaging her freshly wounded hand. “Scabs sorry for being mean to mousey when mousey come after her. She was... fearing.”

“Ah, no harm done,” I said, hoping a smile would comfort her. “The circumstances were not ideal.”

Scabs stared at me, with uncertainty in her eyes, clearly not having understood a word I just said. She responded to my smile with her own nervous one and turned her focus to a spot on the ground.

“Now tell us what you saw, please,” I said.

All hopes of conversation ended though, with the sudden crash that emitted from the kitchen. We were all frozen in place for that moment, watching helplessly as Pascal suddenly jumped on his feet in response, and in a flash he was in front of the door way, though turned away from us.

I saw our opportunity for protection in a potted plant next to the doorway. “To the plant, quickly,” I said, quietly as my breath could possibly allow. I shot over to it, Goldy and Ambrose following behind when they realize they could still move. I helped lift them into the plant, and saw Pascal's head move to a profile. “Scabs, hurry!” I whispered, loudly.

But Scabs didn't move. She was truly paralyzed, eyes wide with fear. Ambrose and Goldy lifted me into the pot, and I tried again to get her attention. “Scabs!”

Her head shot in my direction, but it was too late – the sudden movement had caught the attention of Pascal. His eyes widened at the sight of prey. He took a few slow steps towards Scabs, when she suddenly broke from the spell and dashed towards my outstretched paw. She grabbed it, and as a team, the three of us began to bring her up to us. But we didn't move quickly enough. Pascal attacked, his claws digging deep into her back. Scabs let out a loud cry, and she almost slipped out of our grasp. With one last heave, we pulled her into the pot and behind the plant, though it was impossible to escape Pascal. He batted at the leaves and branches, nearly hitting us in the process. “What do we do?” Goldy yelled, dodging a blow.

I was too busy trying to determine the extent of Scabs's wounds to answer, so Ambrose decided to be the one to react. When Pascal's paw came down again, Ambrose jumped back and grabbed it, digging his teeth in as deep as possible. The cat let out a vicious cry of pain before backing off, slamming into the wall behind him. He arched his back, prepared to strike again, when the hall was filled with yellow light coming from the bed room of Mrs. Matson.

“Now what on earth is going on out here?” she exclaimed. “You darn cat, what are you doing attacking my fern? Come here, you are going outside.” Pascal was lifted from the ground by the tall, robbed figure, and the pair disappeared into the kitchen. After tossing Pascal outside, she commented on the kitchen: “What is this mess? I'm too old for this... I'll deal with it in the morning.”

I turned my attention to Scabs. She quivered in my arms, which were sticky and wet in her blood. I could see that her eyes were going out of focus. Goldy crouched across from me, not quite sure what to do with her paws, hovering them over Scab's body until finally resting them on her brow. Ambrose was coughing up cat hair, but between the wheezes, he managed to ask “Is she *cough* going to be *hack* okay?”

Goldy looked up at me, searching for good news on my face, but I had none to give. “The wounds are too severe,” I said.

Scabs looked around, eyes hazy and faint, but she managed to cock her head to face me. She made a rough sound that vaguely resembled words. “Don't try to talk,” I said, trying to let her pass the least amount of stress possible. She tried again.

“Lady... mousey...”

“What?”

“The mousey... killed by... lady mousey...” Scabs took a deep, quaking breath and tried to say more, but the words just came out as gurgles. She coughed up blood, let out a final sigh, and then became limp, eyes clouded over. Goldy stroked the rat's brow. Ambrose placed his paw on her shoulder, which Goldy touched back in response.

After a moment of silence, Ambrose cleared his throat. “Scabs was an honorable rat. I didn't know her very well, at all, really, but I'm sure she was one of the best rats of the basement colony, perhaps of all rats. She went against the will of her leader to deliver information to a group of mice, whom rats are hardly on good terms with. But those difference didn't stop her, and she felt just as strong a need for justice, even if it cost her her own life. That is true courage, I believe.”

Goldy sniffed, and even I got a little misty eyed. “That was quite nice, Ambrose,” she said, and I nodded in agreement.


With as much care as possible, Ambrose and I carried Scabs's body back to the basement hole while Goldy lead on. The rat guard was stunned, and began to shout vulgarities and curses at us. Goldy explained as best she could the circumstances of Scab's death and this time, the rat guard seemed to understand. He fetched their leader, a far larger rat who looked every bit the part of a rat king. Goldy told him the whole story. He picked up Scab's body in a respectful manner, cradling hear head carefully.

“You get who did this, ya?”

“Rest assured that whomever is responsible for the murder of our own mouse friend will also be punished for the death of dear Scabs,” I replied. “It saddens me that she got involved with this, and lost her life in the process. We will always remember her great deed, though.”
The rat leader nodded, and without another word, turned to by consumed by darkness.


We made our way back to the attic, crossing the kitchen floor with ease as there was no Pascal to worry about. I stopped just before we reached the all.

“You two go along without me. You could use the rest.”

“What about you?” Goldy asked.

“I've got something I need to check. Inform Rolf Christoph of tonight's events, and tell him to assemble everyone tomorrow morning, including the wall families”

Ambrose scratched his ear. “So you've figured it out, then, Campbell?”

“I'll see you two in the morning,” I replied, and walked away. I listened to Goldy and Ambrose's pawsteps as they walked away. “You know,  Ambrose,” I heard Goldy say. “That was really brave what you did to that cat.”

“Oh, it was nothing,” he replied. And then their pawsteps faded away.


The attic was even more animated than it had been the evening before, now that all the mice were gathered in a large group towards the middle of th attic. Everyone was abuzz, and I could tell they were trying to figure out what had transpired the night before. Separated and to the front of the group stood Rolf Christoph, Ritz, Tombo, Ambrose, Goldy, Mrs. Flaxtail and Mrs. Doyle. I signaled to Rolf Christoph that I was ready to present my findings, and he cleared his throat.

“Alright, everyone, please, calm down now, let's hear what Cambell has to say to us.” The volume of the crowd didn't change.
Rolf Christoph tried a second time. “Please, my friends, the sooner we get started, the sooner we figure this whole thing- oh dear, they aren't listening at all.”

Annoyed with the conduct of the entire group, Ritz took a deep breath and belted out loud and clear “SHUT YER TRAPS AN' TURN YOUR EYES FRONTWARDS NOW!” The crowd grew silent, and any lingering speakers were hushed by those around them.

“Thank you for that, Ritz,” I said, bowing my head In his direction. I then straightened my back and turned to face the crowd.

“By now, we all know the terrible events that transpired last evening during one of our collecting days. The body of Edison Flaxtail, suffocated to death, was found by his granddaughter, Betty Doyle, and Tombo Potter. Betty claimed that the assailant was a rat who was seen fleeing the scene. While many of us would like this fact to be true, simple because they consider that to be typical behavior for a rat, we'll soon find out that it's not so simple. In fact, that very rat, may she rest in peace, was the very key to solving this entire case. While Betty had seen the aftermath of a horrid crime, our friend Scabs had witnessed it in full.

“But the crimes do not end there, for soon after Mr. Flaxtail's body was brought to the attic, another crime occurred – after not showing up at her nest or at the mourning of her grandfather, Betty Doyle was presumed missing. It may seem like the case is, again, simple – Mr. Flaxtail's killer was also responsible for this kidnapping. However, again, we will soon realize that things are not so simple. But do not fret, for I have recovered our lost child.”

At my signal, Betty emerged from her hiding spot amongst the box of seldom-used Christmas decorations. The crowd gasped, and her mother let out a cry. Betty rushed to her arms and the two shared a loving embrace. “I'm so sorry,” she whispered into her mother's breast.
“As you can see, Ms. Doyle is doing just fine and no harm has fallen upon her. We had a nice long chat, in which I uncovered the secret behind her disappearance. Betty, had, in fact, seen the killer, enough so to be able to recognize said individual as being a mouse. But the problem was, the killer had also seen Betty. Afraid for her life, but not wanting to be any place where the killer could find her, Betty hid away one of the rare, unused parts of this attic. But please, to any mouse who think of doing this in the future, note that you are surrounded by a loving family here, and we will protect you from all dangers.

“Now then, that's one mystery solved, but what about the murderer? Well, once I realized that Betty had kidnapped herself, I then questioned why she pinned I on the rat fleeing the scene. There was no reason not to tell us that it was a mouse who did the deed. But Betty wanted to protect this mouse – she felt some connection to the killer, a bond that she did not want to break. That she was afraid to break. And this means that Betty could identify the murderer. I won't have her do it now, of course, but if my suspicions are correct, she can at least confirm, or deny.

“With the suspect in mind, I returned to the scene of another crime – the murder of Scabs. Indirect, yes, but not less unintentional than the case of Edison Flaxtail. You see, Scabs was killed, in the way so many mice and rats are, by Pascal, the vicious feline who make our paradise a dangerous place. While Pascal's actions are indeed cruel, it all could have been avoided if one deliberate action had not been performed – the breaking of a glass of water which fell from the counter to the floor which woke Pascal up from his deep slumber and alerted him to our presence. Had it not been for the brave actions of one Ambrose Filterwick, I probably wouldn't be here to tell you this tale to begin with. A million thanks to you, my friend. After the cat was dispatched, and before Scabs departed, she gave us one important clue that helped me determine who our killer is.

“After returning Scabs's body to the rat colony of the basement, I observed the scene where the entire event had occurred, and notice something peculiar – the glass had been tipped over onto the counter and rolled off the edge. It was clear from the way that the water had spilled onto the counter, going inwards. This was not some accident where the glass balanced on the tip of the counter with the treat of falling over at any random time – it had been placed on a firm surface. The murderer, seeing that Scabs was about to reveal her knowledge of the crime to us, decided that the best way to remedy the situation was through Pascal. I do not believe that the murderer intended for Pascal to claim a life, but perhaps the mouse in question will reveal all and prove me wrong.”

I scanned the crowd, and was met by a sea of wide eyes, all full of anticipation for the great reveal.

“This is your time, now, killer. Speak now, and the punishment will be less severe than if you try to hide it.”
No response.

I took a breath, then continued.

“Scabs had revealed to me that the gender of the mouse who murdered the victim was female. While trying to determine what female mouse would have a problem with Edison Flaxtail, I recalled an earlier conversation with my other companion on this venture, Goldy, that revealed some very interesting back story behind the Flaxtail line, and then it all became revealed to me.

“The murderer is none other than Ms. Cambridge Flaxtail!”

The crowd gasped, and all eyes shot to Cambridge. She stood defiantly, and walked up to the me, the crowd parting for her. “That's preposterous! Why would I kill my own father?”

“I'm not done quite yet, Ms. Flaxtail.” I turned to the crowd. “It all makes sense, doesn't it? Of course Betty didn't want to reveal her own step-aunt to be the murderer – Ms. Flaxtail is family.”

“But what about motive?” Cambridge interrupted. “I repeat, why would I kill my own father?”

“Mrs. Flaxtail,” I said, facing Mr. Flaxtail's wife. “Please tell me what it is that has been missing from your possession these past few days?”

“My wedding acorn,” she replied.

“Ms. Flaxtail, is it not true that you despised your father getting remarried after the tragic loss of your mother?”

“I certainly wasn't a fan of it.”

“So you decided to let that anger build up inside of you, fester within you until the day finally came when you decided to terminate it. Angry that your father had remarried so soon, while you were still grieving, even, you stole the very symbol of their marriage – their wedding acorn. But this wasn't enough – you wanted Mrs. Kashi Flaxtail out of the picture as well. So you told your step-mother to met you at the collecting, and she complied. But then, without your knowledge, your step-mother was injured, and unable to make it, so Edison went in her place, deciding to meet up with you as his wife would have. But you were in such a fit of raw anger that you didn't register that that was not Kashi standing, waiting for you near the entrance to the attic, but your own father, just wanting to spend an evening with this daughter.”

Cambridge's face was stone – no expression at all. Then a small smile broke out, which turned into a crooked grin. A deep laughter began to emerge from her, starting as a sinister chuckle, and transforming into a belly laugh that shook her entire body. “It's true, it's true, it's all true!” she shouted. The crowd gasped and began to create and uproar, but I could still hear Cambridge's manic ranting over all the noise they generated. “I wanted revenge on my step-mother, I wanted to punish my father! Aren't you proud of me, mother? Aren't you proud?” She lifted her paws to the ceiling in one last triumph, before being carried off for final judgment.
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einahsketch

April 2011

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