The Third Pig Detective Agency Part 2

Web Novel The Third Pig Detective Agency Part 2. If you are looking for The Third Pig Detective Agency Part 2 you are coming to the right place.
The Third Pig Detective Agency is a Webnovel created by Bob Burke.
This lightnovel is currently completed.

‘Thanks for the beauty tips,’ I replied. ‘Maybe you should take it up professionally. You’re obviously wasted in this job.’

‘Now, now, I’m only trying to help.’

‘Well, try harder.’ I headed for the door and walked down to where my car was parked. Sliding into the driver’s seat I gave myself a last once-over in the mirror.

‘Presentable,’ I murmured. ‘Not at my best, but I should pa.s.s muster. At least they won’t know that I spent the night sleeping in an alleyway.’

I started the car and drove uptown to see how the other half lived. Nestling in the foothills on the north side of town, Frog Prince Heightspossibly Grimmtown’s most exclusive residential areawas home to the richest, most famous and probably most downright crooked of our citizens. Most of the very large and tasteless mansions had their own security service and enough electronic surveillance to make even the most paranoid of residents comfortable in their beds at night. As was the case with all residential areas of this type, the higher up the hills you went, the bigger the estates got. To my total lack of surprise, my client’s home (if a word like home could do justice to the palace I drove up to) was right at the top of the hill overlooking the entire town.

‘Master of all he surveys, no doubt,’ I said, as I pulled up at the very large, very imposing and very closed gates that were embedded in even larger and more imposing walls. Just to the left of the gates was a small speaker underneath which was a bright red b.u.t.ton. Pressing the b.u.t.ton, I waited for a response. As I sat there, I imagined that very hidden, very small, very expensive and very-high-resolution cameras were even now trained on me, watching my every move. I didn’t have to wait too long.

‘Yes,’ crackled a voice from the speaker.

‘Harry Pigg. I have an appointment.’

‘Just one moment.’

A please would have been nice, but I imagined detectives were as high in the food chain of visitors to the mansion as the mailman and the garbage collector so I figured manners weren’t part of standard operating procedure.

The gates swung open very quietly and very quickly. I was a bit disappointed; I had imagined they’d be more imposing and ominous with lots of creaking and rattling.

The intercom crackled again. ‘Drive through,’ said the voice. ‘Follow the road around to the side. You’ll be met there.’

I followed the driveway up to the house, past lawns that looked as though they were manicured with nail scissors rather than mown. The house itself was a monument to bad taste or blind architects. Someone had clearly tried to incorporate my client’s eastern origins into a gothic pile. It was as if a giant (and we have plenty in the locality) had dropped the Taj Mahal on Dracula’s Castle and then cemented bits of Barad-dur on afterwards for effect. Minarets jostled for s.p.a.ce with paG.o.das, battlements and some downright ugly and bored-looking gargoyles. It hurt my eyes just to look at it, and I was wearing shades.

I drove around the side of this tasteless monstrosity to be greeted by another one. Waiting for me at what I presumed was the tradesman’s entrance was an ogre, proudly displaying his ‘Ogre SecurityNot On Our Watch’ badge. He was an imposing figureall muscle and boils. Slowly he checked my ID before letting me out of the car. I could see his lips move as he read the details. The fact that he could actually read impressed me no endmost ogres I knew preferred to eat books rather than read them. Good roughage, apparently.

‘So you weren’t watching the other night, then?’ I asked.

‘Huh?’ he replied.

I pointed to his badge.

‘The other night?’ I repeated. ‘On your watch? Did you guys take the night off when the lamp was stolen?’

‘What lamp?’

‘Your boss’s lamp. The one that…’ Seeing the blank look on his face it was obvious that Ogre Security provided the muscle to keep the grounds free of intruders but didn’t have too much input to the more sophisticated security inside the house. ‘Never mind. Can I go in now?’

He even held the door open for me as I entered the house. A polite security guard, whatever next?

Inside, my good friend Gruff was waiting for me and, by the look on his face, wasn’t relishing the job.

‘Ah Mr Gruff, so good of you to meet me. I recognised your foul stench as soon as I came aboard. Showers broken, eh?’

He looked at me and I could tell he was struggling to come back with a witty reply, or indeed any reply. I smiled at his discomfort.

‘Never mind,’ I said. ‘If you practise hard in front of a mirror maybe you’ll learn to string more than two words together for the next time we meet. Wouldn’t that be nice?’

He glowered as he led me through the house. It was just as tasteless on the inside as on the out. Furniture of various styles, shapes and sizes jostled for position with figurines, sculptures, a.s.sorted suits of exotic armour and a variety of plants. It looked like a storage depot for an antiques store run by a florist rather than a place someone actually lived in.

I was led through so many pa.s.sages and rooms that I soon lost my way and had to depend on my guide to stop me from getting lost.

Eventually we arrived at a steel door that dominated the end of yet another long corridor. It was the kind of door that was more suited to the front of a large castle to keep invading hordes at bay rather than guarding a rich man’s trinkets.

‘The study,’ said Gruff. ‘I’ll let you in once I’ve switched off the security system.’

He pressed some numbers on a keypad beside the door. There was a grinding noise and some sequential clunking as locks were deactivated. The door slowly slid into the wall. Lights in the room flickered on as we entered. If the rest of the house had been a monument to clutter, this room was a testament to minimalism. Apart from a large cylindrical black pedestal in the middle of the room, it was completely empty. There were no windows and the only door was the one we had just come through.

I walked towards the pedestal to have a look. It was a column of black marble that came up roughly to my chest. On top was a smaller display stand covered in black velvet, upon which, presumably, the lamp had stood. On closer inspection I could still see the imprint of the lamp’s base in the cloth.

‘So this is where the lamp was kept,’ I said.

‘Yes,’ said a familiar voice behind me. ‘Hi-tech security and surveillance systems and still it disappeared.’

Aladdin strode into the room and shook my trotter. ‘Glad you could make it.’

‘My pleasure. Exactly how hi-tech was the security here?’ I asked.

‘If you care to step back to the door, we can show you.’

We all walked back to the entrance and Aladdin turned to the goat.

‘Mr Gruff, if you would be so kind.’

Gruff punched some more numbers on the keypad and the lights in the room dimmed again.

‘Firstly,’ began my employer/landlord, ‘the floor is basically one giant pressure pad. Once the security system is switched on anything heavier than a spider running across the room will trigger the alarm. Observe.’ Taking a very clean, very expensive and very unused silk handkerchief from his jacket pocket he lobbed it gently into the room. It floated slowly downwards and had hardly touched the floor when strident alarms rang all over the house.

‘In addition,’ he continued, as Gruff frantically pressed b.u.t.tons to silence the ringing, ‘there is a laser grid in the room which will detect anyone that might, for example, try to suspend themselves from the ceiling and lower themselves down to the pedestal.’

Another flourish of the arm, some more b.u.t.ton-punching from Gruff and suddenly a bright red criss-cross of beams filled the room. It looked like a 3-D map of New York. A network of lasers covered every part of the s.p.a.ce, wall to wall and floor to ceiling. Anything that might possibly get into the room certainly wouldn’t get very far without breaking one of the beams. I didn’t need the alarm to be triggered again to tell me that.

‘Cameras?’ I enquired.

‘On the wall,’ came the reply and he pointed to a lens that tracked back and forth across the room. ‘It scans the room constantly and the output is monitored from our security centre, which you may visit shortly. The entire system is controlled via this keypad here.’ He pointed to the unit on the wall. ‘It is activated every night at ten and disabled again at seven each morning. All access is monitored and recorded. On the night of the…ah…disappearance none of the systems were deactivated, the cameras showed nothing else in the room and the lasers weren’t triggered. It is most intriguing.’

Intriguing wasn’t the word I’d have used; downright baffling was the phrase that came into my head, but I suspected Aladdin was trying to maintain an outward demeanour of cool in keeping with his image.

‘Has the camera footage been examined?’ I asked.

‘Yes,’ said Aladdin. ‘But it didn’t show anything. On one sweep the lamp was there, on the next it was gone.’

‘Well, just to be on the safe side, I’d like to have a look. Maybe something was missed.’

From the snort of indignation behind me, I a.s.sumed Gruff didn’t agree with my supposition. Good.

Aladdin led me to the security centre. The footage from the previous night was loaded by the guard on duty and the tape forwarded to when the lamp vanished. The camera scanned the room from left to right and the lamp was clearly on its pedestal. When it tracked back on its next sweep the lamp was just as clearly gone, as Aladdin had claimed.

‘See,’ said Gruff in a very superior tone, as if challenging me to find something he’d missed. ‘Now you see it; now you don’t. Any ideas?’

Not being one to refuse a challenge, I asked for the footage to be replayed and studied the screen carefully, trying to spot anything out of place. On the fifth or sixth repeat, I saw it.

‘Stop,’ I exclaimed and the security guard immediately paused the tape. ‘Look there, right at the base of the smaller pedestal. See?’ I pointed to a tiny flash of light that sparkled briefly and disappeared almost immediately afterwards. ‘Any chance of getting that enhanced?’

The guard worked his voodoo and magnified the picture.

‘What is it, Mr Pigg?’ Aladdin’s face was so close to the screen, he blocked everyone else’s view. ‘I can’t seem to make it out.’

I moved him gently aside and examined the camera footage carefully.

‘If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was a micro camera, the kind they use in hospitals to have a poke around people’s insides,’ I said when I had the opportunity for a closer look.

‘But what the h.e.l.l is it doing inside the display stand? It’s solid marble.’

I was obviously putting two and two together and getting four slightly faster than the othersalthough in Gruff’s case I suspected that he was only able to get to three with great difficulty and the help of crayons. It seemed to me that if the thieves couldn’t drop into the room or walk across it without setting off any alarms, there was only one other method of entry for any creative burglara method that demanded incredible technique and no small amount of nerve.

I looked at Aladdin. ‘I think I need to have a closer look at the room,’ I said.

‘But of course,’ replied Aladdin and we walked back to the study.

As Gruff deactivated the alarm system again I noticed something else.

‘Hold it,’ I said. ‘Turn it on again.’

As the red beams criss-crossed the room again, I pointed to the pedestal. ‘Notice how the beams don’t actually cross the area where the lamp was? If the lamp was taken, it wouldn’t set off the alarm.’

‘That’s a crock,’ sneered Gruff. ‘No one can actually get to the lamp without breaking a beam or standing on the floor. How do you think they entered the roomthey teleported in?’

‘Maybe they didn’t,’ I said. ‘Disable the lasers again so I can have another look.’

Once the alarm was off I walked towards the pedestal. A gla.s.s dome that didn’t look as if it had ever been touched, let alone lifted, covered the top of the pedestal and was firmly clamped to the base. I was obviously in top detecting mode today as, when I looked at the surface of the pedestal through the gla.s.s, I could see what looked like a few tiny grains of saltalmost invisible to the human eye; but then again, I’m not human.

‘Can you disable the clamps on the gla.s.s and turn the lights on full please?’ I asked.

More b.u.t.tons were pressed, and the clamps disengaged loudly. The lights came up to full strength as, very carefully, I lifted the gla.s.s dome off and put it gently on the floor. As I examined the pedestal Aladdin came up behind me.

‘What do you see?’ he asked.

‘I’m not sure,’ I replied, as I leaned in towards the pedestal for a more detailed examination. ‘It may be nothing but…’

I picked up some of the grains and put them on my tongue. They weren’t salt; they were tiny grains of sand. I looked more closely at the pedestal. Ever so gently I pushed the velvet stand. It slid easily to one side, revealing a gaping hole underneath.

‘What in the blazes is this?’ exclaimed Aladdin.

‘Clearly, when your thieves couldn’t access the room from above or through the walls, they went under. They used the micro camera to check when the surveillance system on the wall was sweeping the room and stole the lamp when it was off-camera.’

‘But who could have done this and where does the hole go?’

‘I don’t know who, but that’s what you’ve employed me to find out,’ I replied. ‘As to the where, I don’t know that yet, either, but I think I know someone who can help me work it out.’

4.

It’s Off to Work We Go!.

‘You mean you want me to climb down there to see where it goes? Cool.’

Jack Horner was clearly excited by his new Apprentice Gumshoe role as he gazed into the hole. As Tom Thumb was out of town on a small vacation (sorry!), he was my next and only other choice, seeing as the hole was too small to allow anyone else to climb into it. After a.s.suring an understandably concerned mother that he would come to no harm, she had reluctantly allowed him to come with me.

‘No heroics, Jack,’ I told him. ‘Just follow the tunnel until we can find out where it comes out.’ I pointed to the equipment he was wearing. ‘The rope is for safety, the torch will light your way and the little gadget on your belt is a tracker. We can follow you wherever you go. You can talk to us with this.’ I handed him a walkie-talkie.

‘Will there be monsters down there?’ he asked.

‘I doubt that very much,’ I said, as I checked the rope one more time and lifted him up onto the pedestal. He seemed disappointed at my response.

‘Ready?’ I asked. He nodded in reply.

‘OK then, here we go.’

He stood on the pedestal, looked into the hole again and prepared for his descent. Slowly, he made his way down until he was holding on to the edge by his fingertips. He glanced at me, nodded that he was ready and then let go. I took the strain and lowered him down carefully, as much to avoid any back injury on my part as for his own safety. It didn’t take long for him to reach the bottom.

‘There’s a pa.s.sage leading away but I don’t see any daylight.’ His voice came through clearly on my walkie-talkie. ‘I’m walking along it now.’

‘OK Jack,’ I said. ‘Follow it slowly but be careful.’

After a few minutes I could hear a strange noise on the walkie-talkie.

‘Jack? Are you OK?’

‘Yeah, why?’

‘I’m hearing some odd noises on the walkie-talkie.’

‘Oh, that’s just me singing,’ Jack replied. ‘I do it sometimes to pa.s.s the time when I’m walking.’

‘Uh, right.’ Was this kid afraid of anything?

‘I’ve come to a turn in the tunnel,’ he said after a few more minutes. ‘It bends to the left.’

From the signal on the tracker screen, he looked to be outside the house now.

‘OK Jack,’ I said. ‘Keep going. Can you see daylight now?’

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