The Harris Conundrum
12:00pm Tues. 6/10 Faerieland Park
I was sitting on a bench one day, just minding my own business, trying to see if I could teach Pip a few tricks. The faeries here were already enamored with him, but I thought some tricks couldn't hurt his popularity. We might even make some extra money that way.
"Pip, sit up. Sit up. No, Pip. Sit up." I sighed. "I know you don't believe me, Pip, but I will eat this Peo treat if you don't sit up. I don't care if it wasn't made for Shoyrus. I've had it with your stubbornness."
Pip turned around and swished his tail. He even sniffed a passing Harris to pretend to ignore me. All of a sudden, a blue blur raced past us and scooped up the Harris.
"Bubba, I'm so glad to see you!" the young air faerie cried. Then she took a closer look. "Oh, no. You're not Bubba."
Glumly, she set down the Harris and let him walk off in a stupor, wondering why he'd suddenly been swept away.
The faerie wrung her hands a few moments before asking, "You haven't seen another Harris around here, have you?"
I shook my head. "Are you missing one?"
She sniffed, picked up Pip, and wiped her nose on him. Ew.
"Yes. Well, you see... My Bubba's gone!" she wailed and broke out into a round of tears.
"Your Bubba? I assume he's your Harris?"
She nodded and buried her tear stained face in Pip's scales.
"Perhaps I could be of assistance? I've been able to find a few lost petpets in the past. Yours should be no different."
"Could you? I'm so alone without Bubba. We go everywhere together. I even made him a spa appointment today."
For a minute, I wondered if Bubba would be better off on his own. Then I decided that he'd be crazy not to want a spa day, as long as they use the appropriate petpet friendly products. I promised I'd make sure of that after I found him.
"Of course. I'll be needing Pip's help though, so if you would please put him down, I'll begin." I paused for a moment, and sure enough, she put poor Pip down. He'd be needing a spa day too after that. "Thank you. Now, tell me, where did you last see your Bubba?"
12:15pm Tues. 6/10 Filla's Home
As I guessed, the last place Filla (that was the faerie's name) had seen Bubba was at her house. She showed me around his favorite hideouts, including his cage, underneath her bed, and out in the garden.
"I left him on the sofa, I think, so I could go shopping for Harris food. We were almost out, and I wanted to be sure he didn't get hungry. But when I came back, I poured some food into his empty bowl, and he didn't come! Bubba always comes when he hears food. I'm worried about him."
Hmm... I had to think for a moment. It was most likely that Filla's Harris had run away, but one had to consider all options besides jumping to conclusions. "Is it possible that you bought the wrong type of food? Petpet ears can be very sensitive, and perhaps your Harris didn't respond to the new sound."
Filla shook her head. "No, this is the type he always eats." She took me to the kitchen and showed me the new bag of good alongside an empty bag that she had saved. Pip inspected them, eating a few pellets along the way, and I concluded they were completely identical.
It was seeming more and more likely that Bubba had simply run away from home. I told Filla my next stop was the petpet supply store. If anyone had seen Bubba, the petpet supply store was likely the place they'd put up found posters, and I could double check that the bag of food Filla bought hadn't been mistakenly filled with the wrong brand.
She nodded and wiped away a tear. Pip and I hightailed it out of there before she could start wailing again.
12:30pm Tues. 6/10 Faerieland Petpet Supply Store
It wasn't hard to find the petpet supply store. It was a bright pink building with a giant Cirrus balloon on top. A sign hung off the window that read Petpet Adoptions Every Wednesday!
I opened the door, and the tinkling of a bell announced my presence. "One minute!" someone called from the back room. "Mandy, could you help that customer for me?"
"Just a moment, Ms. Oakson. These food bags are about to fall on me, but I got it!"
An earth faerie, who I assumed to be Ms. Oakson appeared from the back room and rolled her eyes. "I apologize for my assistant's lack of experience. She just started working yesterday."
"It's not a problem. I just have a few simple questions. Are you familiar with Filla? It seems that her Harris, Bubba has run away." As I said that, I regretted it. What if Filla just lost track of Bubba in her own house? I was only assuming things, and I could be getting this poor faerie all worried for nothing.
"Oh, no! Unfortunately, I haven't heard of any stray Harrises being spotted recently. Is there anything else you need?"
Before I could answer, Ms. Oakson's assistant, Mandy, came out from the back. By the frantic look in her eyes and the crookedness of her name tag, I could tell this job was a little much for her. "Sorry, Ms. Oakson. I can help our customer now."
"You better hope you can! You are not doing a good job at convincing me not to fire you. I'll be in the back if you realize you don't know what you're doing." Ms. Oakson huffed and stomped off to the back room.
I stepped back. "What did you do to make her so angry?"
"I may have done literally everything wrong yesterday. Sorry." Mandy forced a smile. "What can I help you with?"
"I'm looking for your Harris food. I have a sample I need to compare it with."
"Yes, of course. Are you comparing the quality?"
"More like consistency," I replied.
Mandy grunted and attempted to pull a heavy bag off the top shelf. I grabbed the other corner and lowered it down so she wouldn't be crushed.
Unfortunately, I'm not as strong as I'd like to think because we dropped the bag, and it rained tiny pellets everywhere. A few pieces even got stuck to poor little Pip where Filla had wiped her snot on him.
Mandy's head whipped to the back, presumably terrified by the possibility of seeing Ms. Oakson march out and fire her.
"I'm so sorry," I said. "I'll help pick this up. Are you worried she'll get angry?"
She returned her attention back to me. "Hmm? She... Oh gosh, Ms. Oakson would kill me! But no, those doors are supposedly sound proof."
We began to gather the pellets, and to my dismay, the food in the bag appeared identical to the food that Filla had bought. That didn't leave much of a lead to follow.
We hoisted the bag of Harris food back up on the shelf, all the while Mandy muttering, "Why does the Harris food have to be so heavy?"
I said goodbye and shook her hand. "Thanks for the help."
"Come back anytime. Ooh, sorry about all the hair." She brushed my hands and wiped some of the same stuff off her shirt. "Goodbye!"
I walked outside and stared at the balloon Cirrus. "What am I supposed to do now?"
12:45pm Tues. 6/10 I Solve the Case
I stared off into space, not knowing where to go. I literally had no leads anymore. Just when I was about to lose hope and head back to Filla's house, dreaming maybe Bubba would be there, my eyes fell on the petpet adoption sign.
"Petpet Adoptions Every Wednesday... Wait a second. Mandy was covered with fur. But it's Tuesday. I don't think they offer a grooming service, and even if they did, I would not trust Mandy with scissors. Pip, do you know what this means? Mandy must have Bubba! I'll bet she thought he would come running out when we spilled the food!"
I tried not to get too excited for myself, but I knew I was on to something. Sure enough, when I brought Pip back inside and set him next to the storage room, he began sniffing wildly.
I knocked. "Mandy, open the door."
"Uh... I can't," she said.
"Pip and I know what you've got in there, so you better open the door before I tell Ms. Oakson."
She opened the door a crack. "You wouldn't. Fine, come in."
Sure enough, the first thing I saw was a fat little Harris chowing down on a huge pile of pellets. "I was trying to move the Harris food around, and I may have dropped a bag. This little guy was outside, and he happened to hear, or smell, something, and he came running in, ready to eat. I didn't know what to do with all the spilled pellets, so I just let him eat them. He was so cute I couldn't turn him away, and I knew if I told Ms. Oakson about him, she'd get mad at me for spilling the Harris food. What are you going to do with him?"
"Well, I can't say I blame you for keeping him. He is adorable. But he already has an owner. Filla misses him a lot. Would you like to come return him with me? I promise I won't tell Ms. Oakson."
1:00pm Tues. 6/10 Filla's House
Filla was so overjoyed when she saw us walk in with Bubba that she began crying again. I quickly pushed Pip behind my back. Mandy explained what happened to her and apologized.
"Oh, no need to apologize. It looks like Bubba quite enjoyed his time with you," Filla laughed. "Feel free to stop by and play with him anytime you like."
Mandy thanked her and headed back to the petpet supply store in hopes that Ms. Oakson hadn't yet realized she was gone.
"And I think you deserve a reward for finding my Bubba!" She glanced at Pip. "In my opinion, you could both use a spa day after what you've been through. If we leave now, we can just make my appointment!"
I nodded. "Pip and I would love that."