"Do not attempt to adjust your television set. I am now in control." It was an early Saturday morning when across the entire nation television signals on all stations had been interrupted by a strange broadcast. The same image was broadcast on every channel in every home, showing just the close up of a single eye that would blink every few seconds.
"You mindless slaves to corrupt capitalist media, listen carefully because I hate to repeat myself." The image of the eye cut to a large warehouse with several pieces of heavy machinery lying around. In the middle of the warehouse stood a panda dressed in a black suit with white stripes, or it might have been a white suit with black stripes. He wore a fedora that was tilted down casting a shade over his eyes and a black bandanna was pulled up over his muzzle effectively hiding his entire face except for two ice cold blue eyes that stared out from under the hat. "I am Dr. Pandamonium, and today I come here offering you the chance to throw off the shackles of compliance and rise up against those that oppress you. Salvation just happens to come in the form of me blowing up buildings until I get paid a rather sizable ransom to stop. Basically I'm taking down the economy, or well, taking the economy. Because, that's what the world deserves!"
The panda retrieved a small remote with several small red buttons and flashing lights on it and held it where it was in clear view of the camera.
"This is a remote detonator that is currently tied to several bombs I have placed in key locations in major buildings across the nation. As a demonstration to prove this isn't a bluff- Dr. Pandamonium was cut off at this point as there was a loud crashing noise directly behind him as the back of the warehouse wall caved in releasing a large amount of dust and debris in the room as it did. "Strange, I didn't press the button yet, nor did I place any bombs in my own base, wait something's not right."
"It takes a sick mind to hijack a television broadcast during Saturday morning cartoons." A voice called out, and as the smoke cleared two figures were standing were standing in the now open wall at the back of the warehouse
The first one, was a gray wolf, probably just a few inches short of six feet. Aside from black pants and a white shirt, he wore a gray trench coat with a matching long brimmed hat and a black tie with matching black shoes. He had been the one that spoke. His companion was much shorter, appearing to be a red orange rust colored kitten who stood barely at knee height in comparison to the wolf. Unlike the wolf, the kitten wore no form of clothing and stood there only in his fur.
"Now I'll never know who the galactic crime lord behind the giant robot attack on Noreon IX is!" The kitten shouted.
"What?" Dr. Pandamonium blinked a few times genuinely dumbfounded by what had just happened.
"RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWR!" The kitten gave a shout, then charged the panda on all fours, in the process knocking pieces of machinery in his way to the left or right despite said machinery likely weighing several tons. He managed to tackle the panda, and both kitten and panda went flying out of the view of the camera while the detonator that the panda was holding lay on the ground. Even without them in view of the camera anyone watching could here several loud crashing noises coming from the direction the two had gone. After a few seconds, the panda could be seen slowly crawling across the ground, his suit now in tatters and himself covered in bruises and scratch marks. He reached out a hand for the detonator on the ground, trying to grab it, only to be grabbed around the ankle by an orange paw and dragged away from it.
While this was going on, the grey wolf whistled nonchalantly as he slowly walked over to where the detonator was and crushed it beneath his food ending the threat of the bombs going off. He continued to whistle for a bit, before fetching pair of handcuffs from within his coat, then started to count backwards to himself.
"Five. Four. Three. Two. One." Suddenly, the panda's body came flying back across the room landing in front of the wolf, who quickly cuffed one end of the handcuffs to the panda's wrist and the other end of them to one of the several ton pieces of machinery. "Right on time, I do love your consistency."
"Well, we do get lots of practice." The kitten replied happily as he walked back into view of the camera. "I guess I roughed him up a little too much, sorry. I lost my temper."
"It's understandable. What he did WAS unforgivable." The wolf nodded sagely.
"Who...." The panda was nearly in tears as he talked. "WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE!?" He cried out.
"We're the Ashcroft Investigations Agency." The wolf replied. "And you're under arrest."
It was a rundown building that sat in the corner of a back alley that bore the words Ashcroft Investigations Agency on the front window. Even on the brightest summer days the building was almost perpetually covered in shade, with only the back wall of the building ever being exposed to sunlight. Inside was a rather rundown office, there was a large desk with a book propped under one of the legs to keep it even. The table had a nametag on it that read Odin Ashcroft and one of the few things in the room that appeared to be in good condition was the rather nice office chair that sat behind it. In another corner of the room was a small cardboard box that had been placed upside down to resemble a desk, and it was placed near a window on the back wall to be the sole location in the entire office where sunbeams would on occasion managed to find a way to shine into the building. A paper nametag had been taped to the cardboard box that read 'Calex' and a small cat bed sat behind the desk in place of a chair.
The wolf and kitten entered through the door, each taking a seat at their own desk and sitting back propping their legs up on the desks.
"Well, that's another case closed." Odin mused while tipping his hat over his eyes. "And in record time too."
"Yeah, but the damage is done, we'll never see how our show ended now!" Calex whined.
"At least not until someone uploads it to the internet." Odin pointed out.
"Who knows when that will happen?" Calex asked.
"Well." Odin pulled out a laptop from the desk drawer and hit a few keys. "Looks like about 30 minutes ago."
"Wow, they're getting efficient!" Calex beamed with happiness at the thought that his childhood was not lost forever. "So anyway, how much did we make off that last job? Did we maybe get enough for new scratching post, please, maybe, yes?"
"Well, as much I want one, to save our poor office furniture." Odin started. "We were technically never hired to thwart Pandamonium."
"What?" Calex somehow found a way to fall out of his cat bed behind his desk before running across the floor and jumping up onto Odin's desk.
"Well, we went running off to stop him as soon as the TV broadcast was hijacked." Odin replied. "So we were never actually hired to go stop him, and therefore the government has no obligation to actually pay us."
"Oh." Calex looked sullen. "I guess next time we should let him blow up a building first so they actually call us in."
"Calex." Odin replied sternly. "We have a duty to protect people regardless of if we get paid or not, we can't recklessly endanger innocent lives and public property because no one offered us a check yet." It was at this point that a rafter chose to fall from the ceiling, and fall straight through the floor in front of Odin's desk leaving a hole. The two looked at it for a few moments before Odin broke the silence. "You're right, next time we wait for the call."
With that, the kitten went back to his own 'desk' while Odin produced a newspaper and started to turn between the pages seeing if there were any possible leads for new cases. He looked over the front page for a few minutes and then turned to an actual article in the paper.
"Crime Rates at an all time low." Odin read out loud. "Due to the continuing endeavors of everyone's favorite masked hero Super Cthulhu, crime rates are at an all time low across the entire planet. It's currently estimated that crime may be completely wiped out within the year."
"Well there's our problem right there." Calex replied sourly. "If that Super Cthulhu keeps face punching all the bad guys first how are we supposed to face punch all the bad guys!? Wiping out all crime, who wrote that article anyway?"
"Looks like." Odin squinted his eyes while examining the article. "By Mild Mannered Office Worker Cthulhu."
"Huh, never heard of him." Calex shrugged.
"I know we haven't had a lot of work lately." Odin replied. "But just relax a bit, and I'm sure something will turn up eventually." It was at this point that the phone immediately started to ring.
"Wow, that was faster than I thought!" Calex shouted happily.
"Hello?" Odin picked up the phone. "Uh huh. Uh huh. No, I wasn't aware Super Cthulhu got paid time off. Really, called thirty eight detective agencies. All of them busy? Tried the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts first? Even asked the PTA to do it. UH huh, uh huh, would rather hire a near sighted rabid jackal before us. You are aware my partner has had his shots, right? So no choice left, got it! We're on the case! Collateral damage? Who us? Of course we'll be completely professional, you need not worry at all! Okay, bye!" Odin hung up the phone.
"Best pack your bags Cal, and brace yourself for a tough journey." Odin looked to his young partner. "We're heading to the deepest darkest, most horrific despicable place in the entire planet where only monsters tread."
"Transylvania?" Calex asked.
"Even worse." Odin replied. "New Jersey."
It took six exactly six hours for the detective and junior detective's car pulled up to what appeared to be an old run down mansion that was built on the very edge of a rocky cliff while being surrounded by leafless trees. Though, in the afternoon sunlight it actually had a certain old world charm, and the way the sunlight shone on the ancient woodwork that made up the front porch and stairs made it a work of art that was almost breathtaking.
"Well then." Odin opened a car door and walked around to the other end of the car to release his smaller partner who had made the journey in a cat carrier in the passenger seat. "Looks like we're here." He spoke as he opened the carrier.
"Wait, this isn't right." Calex complained as he jumped out of the carrier and onto the ground outside the car.
"Well, I know it might not be the most comfortable way to travel, but it was a court ordered mandate after the whole fiasco with-" Odin started to explain.
"What the carrier?" The kitten looked at the wolf quizzically. "Nah that's fine, it's like having my own mobile bedroom, I mean I just got the surround sound system hooked up and I've been thinking about going with a faster internet connection for games and-"
"Wait, how.... Are you even setting all that up? Aside from questioning how you would fit a surround sound system in there, or anything else, it's a plastic carrier." The wolf explained a little exasperated. "There's no electric sockets to plug anything in because there's no electricity."
"No electricity in what?" Calex asked.
"In the carrier!" Odin explained.
"What about the carrier?" Calex asked.
"It!" Odin threw his hands up n the air deciding to just let this one go. "Never mind, so if it's not the carrier." Odin started to ask.
"Why are you so obsessed with the carrier all of a sudden?" Calex asked.
"I'm not!" Odin replied back hastily.
"Then why are we having this lengthy discussion about it?" The kitten asked.
"I've been trying to figure that out myself!" The wolf sighed. "Look just, forget the carrier, what's the problem, what isn't right?"
"Oh that's easy!" The kitten flashed a toothy smile. "It's daylight." He spoke those words as if it explained everything, a full minute passed before either one spoke again.
"And?" Odin asked.
"Well, you can't go explore a creepy rundown mansion on a cliff side in the middle of the day."The kitten explained. "There are procedures and protocols to this type of thing, when exploring a possibly haunted and or cursed structure that you will definitely meet big nasties in, it has to be done at night. Them's the rules."
"Calex." Odin stated flatly. "You are, absolutely right. We're wasting a perfectly good mansion by investigating it during the day. Get in the car, we'll come back in a couple hours after nightfall."
As he spoke kitten and wolf got back into the car as the car went into reverse and drove away from the mansion. Eventually day turned to night and as the sun set the mansion seemed to almost transform, shadows seemed to twist and move on their own in the pale moonlight and a dark shadow hung over the entire mansion. Only then did the car return and the wolf and kitten get out.
"There, that does look a lot better." Odin replied. "Alright then, I wasn't given too many details on the case, but from what I understand, spooky things, mansion, go solve, get paid." Odin explained as the two approached the front door. "Just remember, if you see a ghost, don't lick it."
"Oh come on; I did that once." Calex complained.
The wolf shrugged reached for the knocker at the door of the decrepit mansion. Each knock reverberated as a loud hollow clunk and after four the front doors slowly releasing a loud screech as the bottom of the doors dragged against the flooring. Despite the great force needed to push the doors open there was no one on the other side, just an empty hallway leading into the mansion.
"Huh, standard creepy open by itself them slam shut and lock you inside with no escape." Odin mused."Been meaning to get some of those for the kitchen, I think someone's been filching snacks at night."
"Pfft like I use doors." The kitten retorted as the two stepped into the hallway and indeed the door did slam shut behind then and immediately lock, and strangely enough didn't have to drag along the ground as it did.
The two followed the short hallway as it deposited them into a foyer in the mansion. From here they could see a grand staircase leading up to the second floor, a hall leading back to where the kitchen could be seen, and a few other hallways that led to rooms that couldn't be identified from within the foyer. Inside the foyer there were four people in the foyer many of them looking rather nervous, and one of them nearly letting out a nervous but short high pitched scream.
"You startled me. How did you get in here, I thought we were all stuck here?" The woman who had screamed was deer with dark brown fur who was likely in her late twenties or early thirties. She wore a long green dress that covered most of her body though her hooves were bare with the exception of golden gem encrusted anklets around then that had a matching set along her wrist. The deer wore much jewelry including necklaces, earrings, rings and even a jewel encrusted ribbon tied around her arm.
"Yes how did you get in here?" The second person to speak up was a balding human with white hair along the edges of his head and a crooked nose. He wore a plain black suit with black socks and black shoes. He eyed the two newcomers with suspicion as soon as they entered.
"Haunted door that opens by itself then slams shut and locks you in once you pass." Odin explained. "They come standard in most spooky manors."
"Ah yes of course." The human replied. "Makes perfect sense, am I to assume that you are here on some sort of business, we have a bit of a situation."
"We're the Ashcroft Investigation Agency." Odin beamed. "We've been hired to solve this case, and if necessary demolish this house to prevent its evil from spreading, probably."
"You will do no such thing!" The deer exclaimed. "The situation certainly is troubling, but this manor has been in my late husband's family for generations you will do nothing that risks damaging this fine building! And if you're the investigators what took you so long, we've been stuck in here since dinner yesterday!"
"Ah you must be the client, Mrs. Sotone." Odin spoke up. "A recent widower who just gained ownership of this manor after her husband's untimely death. Don't worry, -I- have absolutely no intention of doing any physical damage to your property or anything on it. Anyway, I do apologize for the long wait in us getting here but it's quite a long drive from-"
"Oh forget the excuses!" Mrs. Sotone complained. "Just tell me you can help."
"That's what we're here for." Odin nodded. "Now then, perhaps you'd like to explain what's going on."
"Yes... Well..." Mrs. Sotone looked down at the ground. "You seem to already know about my recently departed husband. Well, really, it was nothing worth talking about before it happened, just a small banquet among friends, this house can get so lonely at times, and after a recent outing, I had won this most lovely mirror at an auction, well a piece of a mirror, but it's an antique you see quite old even not whole very valuable, and I just felt the need to share this wonderful find with a few friends to show off this wonderfully rare one of a kind item, I mean I just wanted to share this treasure with them."
"More like rub it in." Cal muttered.
"Shush, no talky during the exposition." Odin chided.
"Anyway, the power went out during the dinner, and by the time we got the lights back on my precious valuable antique mirror piece was gone and we were all sealed inside, and then horrible monsters showed up, once by one they've dragged off my guests until only us four remain." Mrs. Sotone finished.
"Interesting." Odin interrupted. "Seems pretty cut and clear, the mirror is cursed and or magical and someone stole it. The mirror has some kind of link to another world of nightmarish horrors that monsters are now escaping from, which brings up the question did the thief accidentally release unspeakable horrors due to enragement over theft, or did he or she summon them on purpose. To be perfectly honest, I'm thinking summoned on purpose, because if these were raging demons out for revenge due to an insult I think they would have broken out the moment they were bought in an auction of all things to be used as a wall decoration."
"You mean to say someone has been releasing these things on purpose?" The human in the suit replied.
"I do indeed, and I suspect they're in this room." Odin replied. "After all, the monsters wouldn't come to claim them if they're in control, so someone still here must be the thief and the one behind this. I think, it's time everyone introduces themselves.
"Poppycock!" The man replied. "This is pointless conjecture, and even if someone here was controlling the monsters to what end, they're still trapped as well."
"Well, if we had all the answers you wouldn't need an investigator." Odin replied. "So, since you're so talkative, how about we start with who you are and what you've been doing tonight."
"Hmph!" The human man replied. "Very well, I am Geoffrey Evans. I am employed by Mrs. Sotone to manage this property and staff within, ensure meals are served on time and that the entire house is kept clean and orderly."
"Clean? Orderly?" Odin asked quizzically.
"Wait!" Calex shouted having been mostly silent during this conversation and just watching the adults talk. "So, you're basically her butler?"
"The term is not entirely incorrect." Geoffrey replied with obvious disdain. "But I prefer think of myself as her personal Manager of Affairs.
"Well, that makes things easy." Calex smiled. "Alright Odin, we've found our culprit! Arrest the butler!"
"Wh.... WHAT!?" Geoffrey shouted.
"It's so obvious I'm surprised you guys even hired us." Calex continued. "I mean, it's always the butler, I have no idea why anyone would actively employ one, unless she thought she was employing a Manager of Affairs, but the fact you'd use such a made up title rather than actually just advertise yourself as a butler is even more conclusive proof! Why try to hide the fact you're actually a butler if you weren't up to nefarious butler related schemes! The kitten pointed a paw at Geoffrey accusingly. "This case is solved, your evil is at an end!"
"Now Calex." Odin plucked the kitten up by the scruff of his neck before he could get any further in his accusations. "I think you might be jumping the gun just a little bit here. I think the whole 'the butler did it' thing is a little too overdone, even for us, you can't just jump to conclusions based on your own bias. Now then, Geoffrey, please tell us what you were up to tonight leading up to the dinner party and the disappearance of the mirror.
"Why, I was busy preparing for the dinner as well, and, well securing the mirror to be displayed in the dining hall." Geoffrey explained. "I mean really if really wanted to steal the thing, seems like it would have been a lot easier for me to just run off with the thing before the dinner party, it was after all entrusted to me by Mrs. Sotone. I locked the mirror behind a glass case in the dining hall and spent the rest of the night helping the kitchen staff prepare the dinner. It is my job as the Manager of Affairs."
"Butler." Calex corrected.
"I was of course at the dinner myself." Geoffrey continued trying to ignore the kitten. "It was my job to ensure that everything went smoothly and that all of Mrs. Sotone's guests felt at home and were not for want of fine beverages."
"So you were providing refills?" Calex asked.
"You, could say it like that." Geoffrey admitted.
"Because you're the butler." Calex finished.
"Manager of Affairs." Geoffrey insisted.
"Okay, I think it's time to move on." Odin kept a hold of the kitten by his scruff as he walked past Geoffrey to meet one of the other guests. The third member in the foyer was another woman, though this one slightly younger than Mrs. Sotone. Like the butler she was a human, though dressed in a fine black dress that matched her hair and wore ruby earrings that matched her lipstick in color. "Alright, and who are you?"
"Olivia Hart." The younger woman replied. "And I was invited as a guest to the dinner party before we were all sealed in here. I was invited by Mrs. Sotone herself, honestly I knew the affair was going to be dull but it's not as if I had anywhere else to be, though really this is a ghastly affair even by Mrs. Sotone's standards."
"You don't seem to like her much." Odin noted.
"Oh, I have no qualms with her at all. Sure I mean, she doesn't deserve this house or any of her fortunes, but any inadequacy she might feel is really her problem."
"Olivia is soar that my late husband chose an older woman over here. What she doesn't realize is some men like a lady with firm...." Mrs. Sotone paused for a moment. "Antlers."
"Yes, I can see where that would be a thing." Odin's eyes darted to the small stubs on top of Mrs. Sotone's head.
"She really never could live the whole affair down and thinks she should have had everything that's rightfully mine." Mrs. Sotone continued. "But to show her I bear no ill will I invite her to all the parties, really the past is past and she should move on."
"Oh I have, I have." Olivia spoke up. "Really, you're the one who seems to want to keep bringing it up, as if you can't forget it. Doesn't matter now. I showed up shortly before the dinner party yesterday, and then during the party the lights went out. I just assumed Mrs. Sotone had been so incompetent with her spending habits she had forgotten to pay her own utilities. Really, I didn't even notice the mirror piece had gone missing until it was pointed out. I mean, who displays a piece of a broken mirror, antique or not, that's just tactless."
"If that's the case why did you bid on it at the auction as well?" Mrs. Sotone asked.
"Merely playing games." Olivia answered. "I had no interest in winning the item; merely making you or whoever else who would buy the silly thing spend more so as make bidding on later items easier.
"Uh huh." Odin replied. "Well then that just leaves." He moved on to get a look at the fourth person in the foyer whom was a good deal taller than the wolf. He wore no clothes, but was an enormous creature covered in thick coarse brown hair, with hoofed feet and hands that ended in long claws. His head looked to be almost that like a horse but with long tusks on the end of it and horns coming out of the side. A large pair of bat-like leathery wings spread from his backside almost making him look twice as big as his already considerable size.
"Wow, how did we not notice him before?" Calex asked.
"And.... You are?" Odin asked having to look up at the hoofed creature but he got no reply. Instead the creature just looked down at him while breathing heavily. "An interesting perspective." Odin replied.
"That's just my landscaper: Jersey Devil." Mrs. Sotone explained. "He doesn't speak English. Not even sure why he was in the dining room, not like I have any work for him inside."
"Your landscaper." Odin started. "Is the Jersey Devil, and he was in the dining room at the time the mirror went missing and monsters started appearing."
"Yes, that is correct." Mrs. Sotone replied.
"Uh huh." Odin thought for a moment as he examined the Jersey Devil up and down. "Alright, I think I've worked things out a bit. After talking to each of you, it seems clear while many of you had possible motives and opportunity one of you stand out. To put it simply at least one of your stories doesn't seem to ring even remotely true, and once I realized this falsehood everything clicked into place. After all, with the Jersey Devil and a butler in the same room who would actually have suspected the truth was!" Odin took several steps back towards Olivia as he spoke ready to reveal what he had learned. He was cut off though at this point as an enormous gray tentacle covered in suction cups erupted from the floor between him and Olivia. The tentacle then swung around, wrapping around Olivia's body and pulled her to the ground.
"NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO OH NO NOT LIKE THIS!" Olivia shouted as she clawed at the floor trying to get a grip but it was no good as the tentacle dragged her through the hole it had made in the floor and soon both were gone.
"Huh." Odin looked down at the hole. "As I was saying, who would have suspected the truth was far more complicated that we could have anticipated and needed more investigating. You said the mirror had been displayed in the dining room? Right, Calex, let's go check that out. The rest of you, try not to get grabbed by giant tentacles until we get back."
A few minutes later in the dining room wolf and kitten stood in front of long table. The remains of the food from the dinner party were still on the table, though numerous dishes were knocked over and pilled and the table cloth had been ripped halfway off. Chairs around the table were knocked over n the ground and it was readily apparently people had been in a hurry to vacate. There was an empty glass case suspended from the wall with the lid still open.
"Alright, time to investigate the crime scene." Odin mused. "There are a lot of chairs here around this table, could easily fit at least 20 people. Makes sense, was a party, still there were only four when we got here, that's quite a few victims in just under two days. Hmmm this case?" Odin moved over to examine the opened glass case that overlooked the table. "No sign of it being forced open, whoever stole the mirror shard had a key."
"So, it was the butler!" Calex exclaimed happily. "Let's go back and arrest him!"
"Not necessarily." Odin explained. "It means they had a key. There are only three suspects left, the owner, the butler, and the landscaper. All three were either living or employed in this residence and had the possibility of picking up the key, so that extra bit of information doesn't eliminate any of our suspects."
"Wait, why would our client be suspect?" Calex asked. "Didn't she hire us to figure things out?"
"Well." Odin slowly closed the glass case while he spoke examining it hoping it might yield some more information. "We can't dismiss the possibility; she had a motive and a way to carry out the crime. As the mirror owner she would have been able to open the case, and if Olivia is anything to go by not everyone at this party was in her favor. An easy enough trap to set up to lure her enemies here if she wanted. Then, to throw off suspicion bring in a few investigators and play the victim, she just needs to make sure she hires someone too incompetent to figure out the truth so you no suspicion ever falls on her." Odin paused for a moment. "It's probably not her though."
"Uh huh." The kitten leaped through the air and landed on top of the wolf's head settling down perched on top of his hat. "So then have any idea WHO it is? Cause I still say it's the butler."
"Calex you can't just keep assuming it's the butler, you need to establish a motive and how the crime was committed." Odin scolded the kitten atop his hat. "You can't just jump at the first idea that pops into your head."
"But I know his mooooooootive." Calex whined. "And how he did it too!"
"I suppose we won't me moving on until you get this out of your system. Very well, you can explain." Odin crossed his arms while waiting for the kitten to give his theory.
"Okay!" The kitten replied happily. "The motive is quite simple if you think about it, cause Mr. Butler gets really really upset if you call him a butler, and keeps insisting on being called the Master of Affairs or something like that. Basically he's really uppity for a butler. Clearly, a life of servitude to our client and her husband before her has left a sour taste in his mouth. He wants to be thought of something better, not a mere butler. If he runs as much of this house as he claims to, then he probably does quite a bit of paperwork for our client as well. Notice, there's been no talk of or sign of kids, implying her husband left her childless. If Mrs. Sotone was gone, there would be no one left to inherit her estate normally it'd go to the state but...."
"Oh, I see." Odin blinked surprised. "That's actually a clever idea, if he does everything for her, he may very well have taken advantage of her lack of oversight to work his way into her will, or even talked her into willingly putting him on it. Still, that doesn't actually prove anything or how he did it."
"Ah, but!" Calex interrupted. "The dinner party was the perfect scene to put his plan in action. See, the only thing we know about the mirror right now is it summons monsters, who was handling it before it went into the case? The butler himself. He could have discovered its power purely on accident while securing it for Mrs. Sotone. Once he knew, the dinner party was the perfect trap, with so many possible suspects who might have reason to dislike our client and evil magical monsters not exactly leaving fingerprints of who summoned them, there's be no evidence to tie him to the deed. He gets away with murder and takes ownership of Mrs. Sotone's estate for himself."
"Huh." Odin rubbed his chin. "As far as evil plans go, it's not a bad one. However, you have the problem that your entire argument is based on conjecture, you picked a conclusion and based your argument around that without looking at the facts. Let's consider this, our three suspects, Mrs. Sotone, the Jersey Devil, and the butler were all in here at the time the mirror was stolen and monsters started appearing. Mrs. Sotone was hosting the party, the butler was managing the staff, and the Jersey Devil apparently doesn't speak English so we don't know why he's here. When you consider there's only one person who had no business being there whatsoever it's easy to see who the most likely suspect is, but once more it's not proof. Hmmmm."
Odin stepped away from the empty glass case with the kitten on his head and back towards the long table as he examined the rest of the room. The place was in disarray, aside from overturn chairs there were also broken dishes on the floor, scratch marks that looked as if someone had been dragged trying to claw at the floor to escape, and even holes and a few holes in the floor about the size of the same one left by the tentacle that had taken Olivia.
"There's not a lot we can learn from the crime scene." Odin broke the silence. "It brings to mind interesting ideas, but not proof. I believe, we're going to have to get our criminal to confess himself, could try making them all empty their pockets and bags, if one of them has the mirror shard they're our actual criminal, but if he has it stashed somewhere else that won't work. Hmmmmmm." Odin bent down and looked at one of the holes in the floor. "The monsters seem to attack from underneath the house." The wolf's muzzle formed into a grin. "Calex, how are you at extreme underground arm wrestling?"
"Ohhhh, sounds like you have a plan." Calex flashed his own toothy smile.
"Well, just thinking, there's nothing here we can see as proof, but they don't know that." The wolf continued to smile. "So, I'm thinking it's time to force their hand."
Not even a full two minutes later the wolf with kitten still on his hat came running back down the halls and into the foyer with a look of exasperation on his face as he came into sight of Mrs. Sotone, Geoffrey and the Jersey Devil.
"I think I've figured it out!" Odin shouted as he came to the room. "There was, well, I can't talk about it, but something of interest." He spoke with a hurried voice.
"Well don't just stand there out with it!" Shouted Geoffrey.
"Can't, not yet. Need to check one last thing." Odin explained. "But, I need to ask, is there a cellar or basement under the house?"
"Yes, of course there is." Mrs. Sotone replied. "You can get to it through the kitchen but why would you as that?"
"The monsters, they always come up through the floor, right?" Odin asked.
"OH!" Realization dawned on Mrs. Sotone's face.
"I would bet my hat the mirror is below us right now." Odin replied.
"NUH UH!" Calex shouted. "You can't bet your hat, bet something else, like your coat, or your house or something! But not the hat this is my perch!"
"It's an expression Cal!" Odin snapped. "But if I find the mirror, I can make a few comparisons with what I found in the case if I'm right, well, I'm going to go check it out."
"Wait, wait just a minute!" The butler interrupted. "You're going to the basement where the monsters are coming from, isn't that a little dangerous shouldn't we be more focused on finding a way out?"
"Look it's obvious once we deal with this mirror whatever magic is keeping the doors sealed is going to wear off, that's how it works." Odin explained. "So we have to do it. Yes, it is very dangerous to go down there, in fact so dangerous that you may never see us again, in fact this would be an opportunity where if some villain were to take advantage of this timing you three would never be the wiser because it is such a dangerous task there is no guarantee either of us will ever be seen again. I need to repeat that, once we go down there, we may never come back, ever, and you will never know why."
"Why are you being so instant on that?" Mrs. Sotone asked.
"Oh no reason." Odin replied. "Well okay you three stick together, and try not to get attacked, we're off to certain doom!
"Bye! Have a nice life in case we die horribly and are never seen again!" Calex waved as the wolf carried him off through the hall leading to the kitchen.
"Well." Mrs. Sotone stared as they left. "I think, I ought to maybe try the front door again."
"Indeed." Geoffrey spoke. "And I'll maybe see if any of the windows will open and let us out."
Both Geoffrey and Mrs. Sotone left the foyer in opposite directions leaving behind only the Jersey Devil who after a few minute shrugged and lumbered off himself.
Meanwhile Odin and Calex had reached the kitchen and opened the door leading to the basement. The wolf while holding the kitten descended wooden stairs that creaked with each step into a basement that was almost pitch black. The kitten looked around the room eagerly able to see fine though the wolf was having a bit more trouble.
"Hey, Calex see a light switch or anything?" The wolf asked.
"Well, I see a switch, but I don't think it's going to work. The actual light bulb attached to the ceiling lamp appears to be shattered into several pieces on the ground. Oh right, don't turn left when you reach the bottom of the stairs."
"Lovely." The wolf reached into one of the many pockets of his coat and produced a flashlight that he turned on and shined around the basement. To the left of the stairs he could see the glass remains of a light bulb Calex had warned him about, he slowly moved the flashlight around the rest of the basement. The area was one large open room, but there were several boxes and shelves making it impossible to walk in any direction. Many of the shelves were full of dusty old wine bottles from years long forgotten, while the boxes were left unidentified and just contained in cardboard crates. Odin slowly worked his way through the boxes being very careful to avoid stepping on anything.
"You know, for basement full of old junk that monsters are running around in, there is a surprisingly large lack of stuff being knocked over." Calex mused.
"I suspect." Odin continued to move slowly, peeking around the corner of a box before moving on. "Whoever is summoning the monster just has them strike straight upward to grab the target they're after. There wouldn't be much of a fight down here." Odin paused as his ears twitched and above his head the kitten's own ears twitched. It had been very soft, but both of them had heard the sound of movement.
Odin turned his flashlight off to and slowly crept along the side of the box he was next to feeling his way around it and trying to listen for the noise again while avoid giving away his own location. The kitten who could see much easier climbed down from his hat and onto the floor and looked up at the wolf. Odin didn't need to see the kitten or hear him to know what he was asking he gave a silent not.
Suddenly like a bolt of orange lightning the kitten took off across the ground on all fours. Boxes and shelves were knocked over, but he could easily see his target. The kitten jumped and pounced the third person within the basement. Odin could hear as the kitten collided with his target and both fell to the ground rolling and producing a loud thud as they hit the side of a wine rack which toppled over to the side breaking several bottles whose contents might have been described as priceless. Odin could hear both his assistant and the figure he had assaulted struggling and continuing to fight. After a few moments the noise died down and Odin finally turned his flashlight and pointed it in the direction the fight had taken place.
There among broken wine bottles on the ground lay the Jersey Devil flat on his back with a very satisfied looking kitten sitting on his chest and using his hands to pin the devil's wings to the ground and keep him restrained.
"I got him!" Calex cried happily. "I captured the criminal scum! It's the Jersey Devil! I knew it all along! After all he was the only one without any reason to be here!" Calex cried happily.
"Actually, he's not our criminal mastermind." Odin replied.
"Wait what?" Calex asked.
"He's quite right actually." The Jersey Devil spoke up in the dignified tone of a gentleman. "I had merely followed you two down here out of concern for your safety."
"Wait seriously; we're going to believe this? I mean he's obviously the culprit! He has to be!" Calex protested.
"Actually." Odin started to explain. "He's an undercover FBI agent who's been investigating our actual culprit for months now."
"Oh my?" the Jersey Devil Spoke up. "Was I that transparent? How long have you had that little bit of information figured out?"
"It wasn't hard once I realized who the actual culprit was." Odin explained. "And I'm guessing you already know who it is yourself, but haven't been able to get proof."
"Indubitably." The Jersey Devil replied with a sigh. "Months of investigation and I haven't gotten even the slightest hint of proof of foul play."
"Wait so if he's undercover and not the culprit, then that means." Calex took a few moments for his brain to catch up with his mouth. "Mrs. Sotone is our criminal scum!"
"Not quite." Odin explained. "In this case, our criminal is Mr. Geoffrey Evans!"
"So, you've finally figured it out." A fourth voice rang out in the basement; Odin immediately turned his flashlight towards it showing Geoffrey who was standing in the basement holding a broken piece of a mirror that was a jagged shard about four and a half inches long. "And at such an opportune time, everyone who suspects me puts themselves in one place for me to easily rid of you."
"Wait, so, it was the butler!?" Calex shouted in disbelief.
"Of course it's the butler!" Odin explained. "I can't believe you couldn't figure that out."
"Master of Affairs." Geoffrey tried to correct.
"But.... But I!" Calex started.
"I mean, think about it." Odin explained. "The way he calls himself the 'Master of Affairs' its clear he's dissatisfied with his role in life as a lowly butler. After Mrs. Sotone's husband passed away and she purchased the mirror he discovers its power to summon monsters and was going to use it to do away with her tired of living a servant's life. I bet he even had some scheme to seize control of her estate after she was out of the way."
"Huh, so you've figured me all out." Geoffrey slashed a smile that looked less than sane.
"But... but that was my-" Calex tried to interrupt.
"It was a simple matter to arrange, you had the key to the case it was kept in after all, and you were more than familiar with the mansion's layout including its fuse boxes. It was simple to arrange the black out and steal the mirror shard, once there you could start to exact your revenge in which you would miraculous survive and inherit Mrs. Sotone's estate. Of course, as the butler."
"Master of Affairs." Geoffrey interrupted.
"Butler." Odin continued. "You would be the prime suspect; it gave you another reason to insist on that ridiculous title to shift that suspicion. However, such a transparent attempt only cemented your guilt from the start. I've know that from the start."
"But it was me who! I mean I!" Calex started to talk.
"Calex, I know you were certain it was the Jersey Devil." Odin explained. "But you need to learn to look at all the clues and how they fit together; you can't just jump to one conclusion and be done. Remember, there was one person who had no business being at that dinner party, the Jersey Devil was there as part of his investigation, but Geoffrey had no reason to be there. He mentioned being in charge of a kitchen staff, they would have been handling the actual refills and serving. If he actually had the entire kitchen staff under his command he would have had people to serve refills in his place rather than have to be there in person. As someone who so loathes to play the role of butler there was no logical reason he'd be there."
"But... but... but..." Calex stammered. "ARRRRRRRRRRRGH!" The kitten slammed his head into a wall leaving a visible hole in it.
"Is he going to be okay?" The Jersey Devil asked in a concerned voice.
"He'll be fine." Odin finished. "Now, the problem was even if I knew your guilt, I couldn't prove it, but if you thought I could, you'd be forced to take drastic measures to be rid of me, and now you've confessed your guilt right in front of an FBI Agent no less! This crime is over butler!" Odin pointed at the butler directly.
"That's Master of Affairs!" Geoffrey shouted.
"Look, do you clean?" Odin asked.
"Well yes." Geoffrey replied.
"Answer the door?" Odin added.
"I well that is to say, yes." Geoffrey admitted.
"Refill drinks?" Odin replied.
"Okay yes." Geoffrey admitted to this one too.
"Devised a complicated roundabout scheme to kill off your employer and claim their riches for yourself?" Odin asked.
"Well obviously." Geoffrey replied.
"You're a butler." Odin stated. "Deal with it. Now then, you're under arrest! You have the right to remain silent, and some other few things, now are you going to come quietly, or is this going to get ugly?"
"Ha! Your foolishness makes me laugh." Geoffrey smirked. "Have you forgotten I still have the mirror and a hoard of monsters at my hand, I'll have them drag you inside this mirror to whatever nightmare realm they dragged everyone else off too!" Geoffrey held up his mirror shard in the air as it began to glow, as it did multiple gray tentacles erupted out of the mirror that grew in size as they manifested until each was as thick around as telephone pole. They threw aside boxes and shelves as if they weighed nothing. As the monster materialized completely the tentacles seemed to make up its entire body and as they wriggled and twisted it was impossible to tell at which point they all met.
"Calex, Monster. Monster, Calex." Odin spoke. "You two enjoy yourselves."
"RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWR!" Calex tore across the ground on all fours again this time ripping up pieces of the wooden flooring as ran and launched himself as a tentacle slamming into it with a headbutt.
"Wait for me!" The Jersey Devil cried. "I am a master of pugilism and fall to undercooked calamari!" The Jersey Devil lifted off the ground with his wings and flew in to join Calex with battling the tentacles.
"Well that should clear itself up pretty quickly." Odin mused while watching the two go at the tentacles then turned his attention to the butler. "So ready to go quietly?"
"Do you have any idea who you're talking too?" Geoffrey asked. "I am not some mere servant! I didn't discover this mirror's nature by chance. I follow an old order, far more than a mere insignificant insect like you could ever hope to understand! There are powers at work here you can't even begin to comprehend! This is only the beginning! Your pathetic attempt to bring me to justice will stop nothing in our grander scheme. You are no match for me or those who are coming. I have toiled and served for so long under these wretched creatures who waste their fortunes on petty squabbles! I herald something greater, and I will not be stopped today, you face a superior being you pathetic pile of-" Geoffrey was cut off at this point by Odin who had gotten tired of just waiting for him to finish and rushed up to the butler and swung a right hook. The wolf landed his first squarely in Geoffrey's jaw knocking him back into a wall as Geoffrey dropped his mirror shard and slumped over.
"Funny." Odin produced a pair of handcuffs from his coat and grabbed Geoffrey's arms and twisted them behind his back. "Always assumed a superior being would know to catch the heroes first, and then monologue."
While Odin had finished subduing the butler Calex and the Jersey Devil were engaged in a battle with the tentacle monsters he had summoned from another world. One tentacle had wrapped around Calex's waste and was suspending him in the air while the Jersey Devil was being crushed against the wall by another.
"I say old chap, this does not appear to be going well for us." The Jersey Devil spoke up. "Any clever ideas?"
"Try applying a direct force from the top in order to collapse them into the ground as their current mass in size suggest they may be from a universe with much more generous laws of gravity here if we can force them to slam into the ground with their level of mass gravity should do most of the work allowing us to easily crush them under their own weight leading to their defeat simply by being too large and massive to exist safely in our world." Calex rattled off in with one breath.
"What?" The Jersey Devil asked.
"Smash tentacles into ground!" Calex shouted. As the kitten yelled he brought his hind paws up near his chest, scraping the tentacle holding him with his hind claws until he managed to get a hold of it and push the tentacle away from him opening enough of a gap for him to slip out of its grasp and then jumped off the tentacle into the air. He rose a few feet then started to fall, the kitten twisted into the air adjusting into a dive towards the mass of tentacles as he curled his right hand into a fist. "LUNAR!" As Calex shouted his command for just a very brief moment it seemed the kitten's fist reflected light but it was only for a moment before he slammed his fist into the mass of tentacles. "IMPACT!" Upon striking the creature a shockwave was released from the impact knocking over every box and rack that was still standing within the basement as well as ripping a hole in the ceiling directly above Calex and a hole in the ceiling of the upper levels as well to the point the moon was visible in the sky. The monstrous mass of tentacles itself was sent slamming into the ground below it, then through the ground and kept going until it was well out of sight deep beneath the Earth. With the monster out of sight the kitten landed standing next to the hole in the basement floor he had just created.
"He makes it sound so easy." The Jersey Devil slumped against the wall he had been pinned against taking a moment to catch his breath. "Alright, I think, that's enough to settle this case. What do you say; we all take five, and then regroup upstairs to officially close this case?"
It was closer to fifteen minutes later when everyone had regrouped in the foyer. Geoffrey was still in handcuffs and was sitting down in a corner with a very sullen look on his face while Odin and the Jersey Monster were examining the mirror shard and Calex was being yelled at by their client.
"THERE IS A HOLE, IN MY HOUSE!" She was shouting.
"Only a little one." Calex whined. "And there was a monster, and tentacles, it was kinda that or let the entire thing come down!"
"You said you weren't going to break anything!" Mrs. Sotone protested.
"Technically, I never made such a promise." Calex replied.
"Well." The Jersey Devil was in the meantime talking to Odin. "Our culprit was using a fragment of an artifact to summon monsters from another dimension and drag its victims to another world. We've solved the case, but we still have no idea how to bring back the victims."
"Hmmmm, I can take the mirror back to the office and study it, see if I can find a way to use its summoning magic to just bring back the people dragged away instead of monsters." Odin mused. "Pretty certain I can construct some kind of machine that could manipulate this thing."
"It's worth a try." The Jersey Devil agreed. "I'd hate to leave everyone still trapped in there. "Now then, I suppose before-" The Jersey Devil was cut off as there was a loud crashing noise and an enormous creature that towered over the entire house landed in the foyer destroying all of the walls as well as the roof. He was a huge creature with large wings, and a face that kind of looked like he had a squid sticking out of his face. He wore a domino mask over his eyes and a cape on his back.
"Oh Super Cthulhu you're here thank goodness!" Mrs. Sotone gave a sigh of relief. "A real hero!"
"HEY!" Odin shouted. "We're the ones who solved this case!"
"There is no need to worry or fear young madam!" Super Cthulhu boasted. "I, Super Cthulhu am here fresh from my vacation to save the day." With that the eldritch super hero picked up the butler with one hand and grabbed the mirror shard out of Odin's hand with the other.
"Hey give that back!" Odin shouted.
"And once again, the day is saved!" Super Cthulhu shouted. "Thanks to Super Cthulhu! Don't worry, I'll make sure this vile criminal is put to justice, and will take this artifact back to my lair to undo the evils he has wrecked. Super Cthulhu awaaaaaaaaay!" With that the massive creature took off from the remains of what had once been a mansion and flew away into the night sky.
"Ah, that Super Cthulhu, always making time to help out." The Jersey Monster chirped happily. "And he even got us a way out of this house; he's a true American hero."
"But.... We... solved this case." Odin stammered. "He can't just come in at the last minute and take credit."
"Odin.... What just happened?" Calex asked confused.
"I think.... Everyone's favorite super hero is trying to exercise a monopoly and put us small business heroes out of business. Well, we'll see how he likes it when I.... Um, well I got nothing." Odin seemed to sink a little as he replied.
"But we're still getting paid, right?" Calex asked.
"Well." Odin looked to their client Mrs. Sotone as the very last piece of the mansion standing, one set of stairs suddenly collapsed.
"Get off my property." Was all Mrs. Sotone replied.
"I think it's time to go." Odin said.
"But, but." Calex stammered.
"Trust me on this one." Odin grabbed the kitten by the arm and dragged him off to the car.
"But what are we going to do for food, and money?" Calex whined.
"Well this may have been a bust." Odin rubbed his chin. "But if we stop and arrest every butler on the way back between here and home I'm sure we can raise enough money to cover this month's rent and groceries." Odin placed Calex in his cat carrier as he moved around to the driver side and got in.
"Ohhh, that's a smart idea!" Calex replied happily from inside his carrier. "I guess that's why you're the boss."
"Yes." Odin replied in a completely flat voice. "That's why." With that the wolf put the car in reverse and pulled out of the remains of the mansion's driveway and then started n the six hour drive back to home.
Case File Closed