Who Stole the Zmulobeast, Chapter 2, Scene 1

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Tune in every Tuesday and Thursday to see what happens next!

 

Chapter 2

So our assignment was to see if those prints really did look like they came from some kind of Bunnysaurus, right? You gotta love this job. All it took for me was one glance at those long, thin prints and I knew right away this thing had to be some kind of rabbit.

Judging by the size, I told Maria that this critter was about the size of a small horse, but a rabbit just the same. I figure Mother Nature is funny like that sometimes; you can’t always predict how she’s gonna do things. Sometimes it’s according to plan, but other times she goes and surprises you. She likes to let us know that we don’t know everything about the way things are out there, at least not yet.

Speaking of the way things are out there, it was kinda hard not to notice on the way over to the park the rather huge difference between the way things are out in front of Headquarters and the way things are the closer you get to that park. Man, it was like walking out of a crater on the moon straight into the Garden of Eden. The shock of it all was pretty hostile if you weren’t ready for it. I mean, that park was so clean you coulda seen yourself in it if it was a plate.

“So you’re telling me you believe Stool Pigeon that this is a giant rabbit?” Maria asked.

“Huh?”

My mind was still dealing with that weird imagery I’d just conjured up. Just how was I trying to  compare a beautiful forest with a clean dish? With me around, Shakespeare’s place in history remains secure. No problem there.

“I SAID…do you really believe that what we are dealing with here is a giant rabbit?”

“Oh, right. Well, take a look at those footprints, Maria; then you tell me what else it could be.”

Maria bent down and looked closely, rubbing her finger along the edges.  They were dry, deep, and starting to harden. Just by looking at how deep a mark they made, I knew this was one heavy little bunny. We’re talking about the kind of bunny that probably lifts weights. King-sized bunny. They can call it a Zmulo-whatever if they want to, but the tracks never lie. And those tracks said bunny.

But I will admit there was something else strange about this rabbit besides its being so hefty. When I first spotted it? Yeah, well, I thought I might be seein’ things. But it turned out to be a fact. There were tiny little green plants growing in between the footprints. No kidding. Just inside of the prints. Nowhere else. It was almost like those prints were made out of fertilizer or something. Almost like something about this critter’s body chemistry made the plants grow. Never seen anything like it…

So anyway, there I was sitting on my haunches wondering when the poor kid would finally decide to admit I had to be right about the Huge Hare theory. It was a decent day outside, and I was ready to chase a few balls around the park before heading back to Headquarters. Maybe even bury a few bones. I realize it’s not easy for a kid as smart as Maria to admit that she’s been outdone by a talking terrier with an attitude, but hey, that’s the way it goes sometimes. I can’t help it if I’m smarter than the average mutt.

See, Maria just can’t swallow the idea of the obvious. If it looks like a duck, she’s the only one in the room who figures it just might be a donkey with a great Halloween costume. Kid’s always been that way. She’s got that kind of brain where she’s got to keep questioning why something is the way it is – or isn’t. Actually, that’s what makes her such a good detective. A good detective always asks a lot of questions, always checks everything out, and never takes anything for granted. Usually, I’m glad she’s that way. But like I said, today is a nice day, and I’m a lot more in the mood for romping in the park than…

“Spike. Come look at this.”

Uh-oh. I know that tone of voice.

“Look at what? I don’t see anything.”

Here, Spike. Closer. You can’t se anything because you’re still sitting so far back – and because you’re afraid this might mean you’re not right anymore.”

I have to admit she’d gotten me on that one. I padded over to where she was and looked at where she was pointing. There, just a few feet away, stuck in the bushes, was a feather. But this wasn’t quite like any other feather I’d smelled. The scent was sweet, but not too strong, kind of like a cross between cinnamon and fresh mountain water.

“It’s gold, Spike.”

“Yes, Maria. And your point is…?”

“My point is that feathers aren’t gold. At least not any feather I’ve ever seen. So I do wish you would now answer a question for me.”

“And the question is?”

“Do rabbits fly?”

“You really don’t care about those shins, do you, Maria?”

All right, so maybe it’s not Super Rabbit. Then again, who’s to say the gold feather that Maria saw in the bushes, the same one she was now carrying in her purse on the way back to Headquarters, belonged to whatever made those prints? I mean, okay, they were both in the same area. But then, being the good detective dog that I am – and I am a very good detective dog – I have to ask myself this basic question: So what?

“Just because you’re in the same room as a cat doesn’t mean you purr all the time does it? Answer me that, Maria. Think about it for a minute. See, you’re assuming because you found this feather nest to these bunny prints…”

“They’re not bunny prints, Spike.”

“We don’t know that yet.”

“They’re Zmulobeast prints. Made by a stolen Zmulobeast.. We’re not out here looking for a rabbit, okay?”

“Whatever. Still, you’ve got to admit I’m making a good point here.”

“Which would be what, exactly?”

“That a gold feather and a big bunny-looking footprint found in the same general area don’t mean they belong to the same animal. There’s no woof. We need woof.”

“I think you mean ‘proof,’ Spike.”

“Say what?”

“Proof. Not woof. Proof.”

“Yeah. Fine. Whatever. But right now, all we know is that something out there has a foot the size of a giant rabbit and something out there lost a gold feather – that could have been painted.”

That’s when Maria stopped and gave me a pretty upset kind of look. It’s the kind of look that makes a dog nervous. The kind of look that says, “I’m going to drop you off at the nearest dog pound and leave you there if you don’t cut this out” kind of look. So I cut it out. Well, maybe not all of it.

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kaoblues
Writer and musician.

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