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At the AstroVilla: Part Four


by kemppotatoe

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At midnight on the twenty-fourth floor, a shriek pierced the sleeping hotel.

     Cypher jerked awake, listening to the echoes of the scream and breathing hard. What had just happened two stories below?

     On all floors, pets began to awaken, them being just as confused. Cypher hopped out bed, grabbed her key, and ran to the door. As she opened it, other residents of level twenty-six popped their heads out of their rooms, looking around and whispering to each other.

     "Did you hear that scream?"

     "Of course I did! It woke everyone up!"

     "Maybe someone just had a really bad dream."

     "By the sounds of that shriek... it had to be one freakishly terrible nightmare..."

     Cypher ran past the talking guests, towards the elevator. Appalling thoughts ran through her head, and she only hoped it was just a coincidence...

     Several other residents of the twenty-sixth floor also piled into the elevator, pushing and shoving until the doors opened on the twenty-fifth floor.

      Guests were standing in the hallway, talking quietly. A few of them made their way into the elevator as well, informing the residents of the floor above that the shriek had sounded like it was just one story beneath them.

      As the doors rolled open on the twenty-fourth floor, a hotel bellboy appeared, blocking their way out. "We can not let you out here at this time," he said. "Please make your way back to your floors and remain in the halls."

      "We have the right to know what the scream was about!" a pet in the back of the elevator said loudly, preceding several calls of agreement.

      Mr. Griptor appeared at the elevator doors. "You will be informed soon enough."

      "We want to know NOW!" the same angry pet called.

      Mr. Griptor sighed and mopped his sweaty brow. "I don't know if you've ever heard of a certain legend of this hotel. But," he said, taking a deep breath, "to put it bluntly... at this point, it's more factual than legendary."

      Cypher was the only one in the elevator who gasped. Everyone turned and looked at her, giving Mr. Griptor the opportunity to reach in and press the button to send them back to their floors.

      "What do you know about this?" someone asked Cypher.

      "I just know of the legend," Cypher replied quickly, "that the creator of the AstroVilla has an unpaid debt to something or someone. And now they're haunting the hotel for revenge!"

      The pets in the elevator stared at her. "You think we believe in ghost stories, little girl?" one said, loudly.

      Cypher's jaw dropped as the elevator doors slid open. "I'm not lying!" she said, as people filed out, "I heard it from the old maid, Aewa!"

      "And you can trust that come wacky maid knows everything, can you?"

      Cypher was left standing alone in the elevator. "I'm not kidding! This is for real!"

      ***

      After three long hours standing in the hallway, and after each room in the hotel was checked, Cypher was allowed back in her suite. It had been announced that the pet who screamed and why he or she did it, was confidential, and no one but staff knew.

      That wasn't going to stop Cypher.

      The next morning, as guests reverted back to their usual schedule without giving a thought to the strange happenings of the night, Cypher skipped her typical stop at the coffee shop and made her way straight to the restaurant, luckily unnoticed by the seating hostess. As she walked through the kitchens, she saw that she received many more stares than when she had been wearing the chef outfit.

      At long last, Cypher spotted the back of a skunk Kougra's head. Taking the deepest breath her lungs would allow, she put her hands on her hips and went forward.

      "Luther, I want to apologize!"

      The Kougra dropped the plate he was washing with a clatter. Slowly, he turned around and stared at Cypher.

      "You want to apologize... to me?" he asked, his paws still soapy.

      Cypher nodded firmly. "Yes, I do."

      "I don't believe this..." he muttered to himself, grabbing the nearest dish rag and wiping himself off. "One day you're evil and rich and the next you're apologetic and... still rich?"

      Cypher rolled her eyes and sighed. "I'm not really evil. I'm not some snobby brat! I only pretended to be because that's all you saw when you found out I was rich."

      Luther stared at her, frowning. "So... you're blaming me for all the yelling we've done at each other?"

      "Are you just looking for an excuse to make me start yelling again?" Cypher said with a laugh. "Look, I know you're not some rude servant. I shouldn't have called you that."

      "But you're not apologizing for calling me a moron, jerk, or a lousy Kougra who works in a kitchen instead of going out and doing something with his life?" Luther raised his eyebrows with a smirk.

      Cypher narrowed her eyes at him, smiling. "I'm only here because I want some help."

      "Ah," Luther said, throwing the dish rag into the soapy sink, "and I believe I know what service I can be of to you."

      "Do you?" Cypher said, eyebrows raised. "Then I assume you will know what your payment is?" Seeing Luther's confused face, she added, "Of course someone with your talent must have a payment?"

      Luther laughed. "Nope. There's no payment. But I will help. You want to know about the legend and the happenings of last night, right?"

      Cypher smiled. "I guess you do know my intentions. Welcome to the gang of super detectives."

      "But tell me," Luther said, "why do you want to solve this mystery so much? It can't be for money..."

      Cypher, who was halfway turned around to leave, tilted her head to the side. "If this continues, the AstroVilla could be shut down for good. Then, where will all the pathetic kitchen-Kougras go?"

      With a smile, Cypher shrugged and walked away.

      ***

     "Griptor doesn't want the Neopian Times to find out about this! That's why we're telling the guests that it was a simple accident... no big deal."

      Luther sat on Cypher's bed in her large suite, as Cypher bustled about the kitchen making hot chocolate. "That's obvious enough," she said, bringing two steaming mugs to the bed, "but surely he's told the staff the truth."

      "Of course," Luther replied, accepting the mugs and leaning back on the pillows, "and let me tell you, it wasn't a happy talk we had."

      Cypher frowned. "What do you mean?"

      Luther sighed. "He called everyone together and told us what was happening... that the old legend was real and happening. I, of course, know all about this legend. Strange things happen. At random times, staff and guests disappear. Unfortunately, there's no way of knowing when the attack will happen."

      "That's it?" Cypher asked, "That's all anyone knows?"

      Luther laughed. "That's the basics. It scratches the surface."

      "Well, then," Cypher said, "tell me everything you know."

      "This all started after the AstroVilla had been running for about a month. The first sign of strangeness occurred when a guest's suitcase flew across the room. That night, the piano in the lounge began to play on its own. Two days later, the first victim was taken."

      "Taken where?" Cypher asked, terrified.

      "No one knows," Luther continued, "but the first victim was Marvo LeMaer himself. From that day on, a weird thing would occur every once in a while, like a flying suitcase or a piece of furniture that completely disappeared. The piano still plays at midnight every few days. But no one has been taken for a long time."

      "Until last night, right?" Cypher said. "They were pet-napped, weren't they?"

      Luther nodded. "An Aisha by the name of Lorraine. An incredibly rich worker in the Altadorian Archives. She's here alone, meaning no witnesses."

      Cypher sighed. "Then where do we start?"

      Luther bit his bottom lip. "The staff quarters are in the basement. Sometimes, at night, I hear strange things. Like pets talking to each other in a friendly way. Just whisperings... but I can never tell where they're coming from."

      "Ghosts?" Cypher suggested, shrugging.

      "I don't know," Luther said, sighing. "That could explain some things, but not others. Where do the missing items and pets go? The whole hotel has been searched numerous times. It's like they disappeared from Neopia..."

      "... unwillingly."

      ***

      Cypher had been at the AstroVilla for only five days. It was around one in the morning on a stormy night. Cypher, unable to sleep, was in her kitchen drinking a glass of milk. Thoughts swirled around in her head, refusing to make sense. She tried to organize her mind, but it persistently confused her.

      Cypher laid out the facts in front of her: a wealthy Aisha was kidnapped at midnight. There were no witnesses. All the proof they had was a shrill scream and the fact that she was nowhere to be found. In the past, luggage had flown, items had disappeared, and other pets, some famous, had also been kidnapped.

      Cypher sighed and struggled to think of what the next step in getting to the bottom of this was. She wanted to solve this mystery... she needed to!

      But how do you solve a mystery with no clues?

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» At the AstroVilla: Part One
» At the AstroVilla: Part Two
» At the AstroVilla: Part Three
» At the AstroVilla: Part Five
» At the AstroVilla: Part Six
» At the AstroVilla: Part Seven
» At the AstroVilla: Part Eight
» At the AstroVilla: Part Nine



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