How to Save the World of Insurance in Six Easy Parts: Part Six
VI. Death Becomes Him
There was no response from the guests for a moment, and then Miss Tobik promptly fainted in an overly dramatic manner.
“Dead?” Lady Cambridge asked as Mr. Jennings attempted to revive the fallen Bruce. “He can’t be dead.”
“Do we have a doctor in the house?” Wadsworth the butler asked.
“I’m no doctor,” Mr. Jones volunteered. “But I do have considerable expertise in the area of death.”
The Skeith got up from the table and took the large Chomby’s pulse. Mr. Jones nodded after a moment.
“He is indeed gone, I should imagine from poison in the soup,” Jones explained.
“Poison!?” Walter Lavender gasped.
“It is no secret that Mr. Munroe has had an attempt made on his life; it appears that this time, his assailant was more successful,” Jones replied.
“What happens now?” Walter asked.
“Wadsworth, would you help me? I think we should move the body,” Jones asked the butler. “Then, please summon the cook.”
The Ogrin nodded and rushed forwards to help Jones carry Mr. Munroe’s body out of the room.
Oscar glanced back towards Gerald Munroe, and noticed the glimmer of a smile on his lips.
“I think, under the circumstances, we should retire to the drawing room,” Mr. Jennings suggested.
The other guests agreed, and filed out into the drawing room, Jones and Wadsworth followed a few minutes later with the cook, Mrs. White.
“Please tell everyone else what you told me,” Jones instructed the cook.
“I saw who did it,” the spotted Kau confessed. “It was a Kyrii, a red one with gold teeth. He snuck in the kitchen while I was making the soup and I thought I saw him add something to the master’s dish. I hit him over the head with a rolling pin, though.”
“Where is this cad now?” Henry Gilt the Tyrannian Draik asked.
“He was taken away from the kitchen by a green Grarrl who said he was here to protect Mr. Munroe,” the cook answered.
“No such bodyguard has been hired,” Wadsworth the butler added.
“The green Grarrl... didn’t you say you saw one attack the Kyrii in the docklands, Oscar?” Jones asked.
“Yes... I did...” Oscar admitted.
He glanced at Mr. Jennings. The Krawk winked at him.
“But I didn’t know the Grarrl’s identity,” Oscar lied.
“Hmm... I see, no matter,” Jones considered. “We know who did it; it was the Kyrii in the kitchen with the poison. However, we don’t know who that Kyrii was working for.”
“Working for?” Lady Cambridge asked.
“Undoubtedly he was a hired hand,” Jones answered. “And I believe his employer, the true murderer, is someone in this room.”
Gasps rang out across the various chairs.
“Almost everyone here has a motive,” Jones continued. “Mr. Jennings and Miss Tobik would gain complete control over Neopia Central Insurance if they were to purchase the late Mr. Munroe’s shares. Gerald Munroe will inherit the entire estate. Walter Lavender and Henry Gilt would see the demise of their major competitor.”
“And me?” Lady Cambridge snorted.
“Two months ago, the Women’s Institute attempted to cash in on a policy. We declined to pay out, due to certain lines of small print in the contract,” Jones explained.
“Is this the part where you come forward with your evidence?” Gerald Munroe scoffed.
Mr. Jones fell silent, his moment of sleuthing over.
“Well...” he trained off.
“The only person who knows who the Kyrii was working for is the Kyrii,” Mr. Jennings concluded. “And he has disappeared without a trace.”
Once again, the green Krawk gave Oscar a conspiratorial wink.
What was he doing? Surely if the Grarrl had the Kyrii, then Mr. Jennings knew who the murderer, or murderer in waiting, was already?
“So what do we do now?” Tobik asked, carefully eying the other guests.
“We await the Defenders of Neopia; I took the liberty of calling for them,” Jones explained. “Until then, no one leaves the mansion.”
The various guests slumped back in armchairs or against the walls.
“Well, this simply won’t do... poor Arthur!” Tobik sobbed. “What will happen to the company now, I wonder?”
Like a shot, Gerald was on his feet.
“Of course, Uncle Arthur left everything to me in his will,” he explained. “It will be difficult to fill his shoes – but the company must go on. Uncle Arthur would have wanted it that way.”
Oscar narrowed his eyes at the Chomby. He had the most to gain from his uncle’s death. In Oscar’s eyes, Gerald was the prime suspect.
“...and to think,” Tobik smiled bravely, “Arthur was holding this dinner to announce his retirement.”
“That isn’t strictly true,” Mr. Jones pointed out.
“Pardon?” Tobik questioned.
“Mr. Munroe called us here to make an announcement about his retirement, but not to announce his actual retirement,” Jones tried to explain.
“Then what was he going to announce?” Tobik asked.
At once, the doors to the drawing room were flung open loudly, revealing a figure standing in the hall. A napkin still hung about his collar, though his yellow skin seemed a touch greyer than usual.
“I will not be retiring!” Arthur Munroe announced as he strode purposefully into the room.
Gasps rang out from everyone, with the notable exception of Mr. Jones. Miss Tobik fainted once more.
“You!” Gerald gasped. “But, you died! Goldtooth poisoned you!”
Like a flash, Mr. Jennings was behind Gerald, a pleasant, but slightly menacing smile on his face.
“Who did?” he asked casually.
“Goldtooth! The Kyrii!” Gerald fumed.
Jennings’s smile widened and his arms seemed to move faster than Oscar could follow. Before Gerald had chance to react, he was pinned to the table.
“And how do you know his name?” the Krawk demanded.
The young Chomby snorted.
“It... it was a guess!” he protested.
Arthur let his heavy frame sag.
“Gerald... why? I’ve always supported you, given you more money than you could dream of. But to try and kill me!?” he said quietly.
“Fine, it was me, though Goldtooth clearly didn’t do his job very well!” he snapped with sudden contempt. “You’ve been sitting in that director’s chair for too long. It’s time some new blood took the reigns – it’s time that I got the power, and stepped out of your shadow!”
Mr. Jennings forced Gerald back up again with surprising strength.
“I’ll take Mr. Munroe Junior outside to wait for the Defenders of Neopia to turn up,” he said politely to the other guests.
“I see!” Walter the purple Lenny piped up. “It was all a clever ruse to draw Gerald out into the open! You weren’t poisoned at all!”
Mr. Munroe sat down at the reading table. Oscar noticed now that his skin was becoming paler by the second. He recognised the pigment; he looked like Mr. Jones had in the graveyard.
“No, I was poisoned, and I did die,” Munroe explained.
“But that would make you a...” Lady Cambridge chuckled to herself.
“Zombie, yes,” Munroe confirmed.
Eyes drifted across the room to Miss Tobik, expecting her to faint. Unfortunately, she was still unconscious from her last emotional experience.
“It was Mr. Jones’s idea,” Munroe continued. “You see, now that I’m dead, I don’t have to retire, and I can’t be killed either. I can control the company for the rest of my... death, I suppose.”
The old Chomby turned to Oscar and smiled broadly.
“The world of insurance, my boy, is well and truly saved,” he laughed.
Oscar checked his watch as he walked through the doors of Neopia Central Insurance, Inc.
He was exactly five seconds early for work.
Helga Ribbons the receptionist Tonu was stood behind the desk as usual with a grim look upon her face. An elderly blue Zafara was stood in front of the desk, her face red with rage.
“What do you mean, I’m not covered!?” the Zafara screamed.
“I’m sorry, madam, but the contract you signed expressly states that we will not pay out for house fires if you start them deliberately,” Helga snapped.
The Zafara woman floundered slightly, but made it clear that the matter was far from over.
“But what about my house!?” she yelled.
“Perhaps you should have thought of that before you set fire to it?” Helga suggested.
Oscar stamped his time card quietly next to the desk.
“Good morning, sir,” Helga said, positively beaming at him.
“Erm... good morning, Miss Ribbons,” Oscar replied in a state of confusion.
How many years had he worked for the company now? She hadn’t had a good word to say to him, but now she was being polite?
I guess that’s the power of a title, Oscar thought to himself.
He continued up the stairs with a spring in his step. As he passed the rows of office workers, unfamiliar faces smiled at him. Now he was someone important, he was someone with power.
Two new employees were still adjusting to their surroundings. They’d set up desks on opposite ends of the office, and spent most of the day staring steely eyed at each other. Oscar thought Imelda Briars and Jack Storm would fit in just fine.
Oscar came to a door and lifted his hand up to knock politely on it. He stopped, and smiled broadly, before turning the handle and walking straight in.
There was a plaque on the desk; it read ‘Oscar Mildew, Director of Operations’.
Oscar sat back in his leather chair and grinned to himself.
He had a cushy promotion, and he’d saved the world of insurance.
What more could he ask for?
There was a gentle knock at the door, and Mr. Jones let himself in.
He no longer wore the green face paint. When the director of the company was openly dead, there was no need to hide himself away.
“Mr. Munroe would like to see you in his office, sir,” Mr. Jones said happily.
“I’ll be along presently,” the little Kacheek replied.