The Third Pig Detective Agency Part 3

Web Novel The Third Pig Detective Agency Part 3. If you are looking for The Third Pig Detective Agency Part 3 you are coming to the right place.
The Third Pig Detective Agency is a Webnovel created by Bob Burke.
This lightnovel is currently completed.

‘Yeah,’ he replied. ‘The entrance is just up ahead.’

‘Stop when you get there. We’ll come to meet you.’

‘Roger wilco. Over and out.’ He’d obviously been watching too many war films.

Guided by Aladdin and Gruff, I walked back through the maze that was the inside of the house and made my way outside. As I walked across the lawn, I heard Jack’s voice advising that he had reached the entrance to the tunnel. I told him to stick his head out and describe what he saw.

‘It’s a hole in the ground, surrounded by trees. I can hear cars so there must be a road nearby but I can’t see it from where I’m standing.’

And, by extension, no one could see the hole from the road either.

I turned to Aladdin.

‘From the signal, it looks as though the tunnel comes up just outside that wall there.’ I pointed to the high wall running along the side of his estate. ‘What’s on the other side?’

Aladdin thought for a minute, and then for a few more. It was obvious he hadn’t the faintest idea. He’d most likely never even noticed what was out there as he went in and out of his house every dayprobably in a large limo with tinted windows.

I turned to Gruff. As chief of security I imagined he should know.

‘It’s a small open area between this house and the next. It’s used occasionally by the local residents for walking their dogs, or at least those residents that, from time to time, actually venture out of their houses by means of their feet,’ he said, glancing meaningfully at his boss. ‘There are a few clumps of trees there. Most likely that’s where your minion will be.’

We made our way out the main gate and along by those very imposing walls around Aladdin’s house. It was easy to see why the thieves had gone under. The walls were very high with barbed wire on top and, as Gruff explained while we walked, equipped with more pressure sensors. If anything heavier than a sparrow landed on them, the alarms would go off. Even if an intruder was able to get over the walls without setting off the alarms (maybe he was a good pole-vaulter, I don’t know) the grounds were full of heat sensors and more cameras. If he managed to get past those minor inconveniences, Ogre ‘Not On Our Watch’ Security would probably have fun using him as a volleyball. Your common or garden thief didn’t stand a chance. It made me even more curious as to what type of thief I was dealing with.

We arrived at the open ground and could see Jack waving at us from a clump of trees about fifty feet from the wall.

‘Over here,’ he shouted.

When we got to him he was only too eager to show us where he had come out. We pushed through the trees with difficulty as they were very close together, and examined the tunnel. It looked like a very professional job: perfectly circular, level floor and smooth walls with supports to prevent accidental collapse. From its size, the diggers were also apparently quite small. I would have had problems had I been obliged to navigate it.

As I looked at the area around the tunnel entrance, something hanging off one of the branches caught my eye. Closer inspection revealed a bright green thread blowing gently in the wind. One of the thieves must have snagged an exceedingly loud item of clothing on the tree as he made his escape.

At this stage my brain, which, for obvious reasons, had understandably been functioning below par for most of the day, began to power itself up and began asking key questions (although not aloud). More to the point it also began to answer them. Perhaps my a.s.sailant wasn’t quite as mysterious as I had thought. Putting the information about the tunnel together with the thread and my strange encounter of the previous night, a pattern began to emerge. I needed to get an expert opinion about tunnels and the creatures that dug them. It was time for a trip to the enchanted forest.

I turned to my client.

‘Mr Aladdin,’ I said. ‘I believe, based on what we’ve just seen, that I am beginning to make some progress in the matter of your missing lamp. I need to make some calls and meet some people. I should have an update for you by tonight. May I contact you then?’

He whipped a card out of his inside pocket.

‘My direct number; I am always available. Is there anything you’d care to share now?’

Of course there wasn’t. All I had were a few ideas and a bizarre theory that was slowly taking shape but I wasn’t going to tell him that.

‘Not at this time. I will provide a full update later.’

He grunted, which I a.s.sumed was an acknowledgement, and we walked back to the house.

‘Until later, then,’ he said as Jack and I got into my car.

‘Later,’ I agreed and drove away. As the huge walls disappeared from view behind us, I told Jack where we were going.

‘Are we really going into the enchanted forest?’ he asked. ‘I’ve never been.’

It should be pointed out right here that no self-respecting fairy tale town like ours would be without an enchanted forest. It was the location of choice for any laboratory, workshop or secret lair for magicians, wizards, warlocks, witches, alchemists, thaumaturges, vampires and the obligatory mad scientist. There is usually at least one mountain smack in the middle guarded by a horrible monster (usually a dragon) and reputed to be the location of a h.o.a.rd of treasure.

If truth be known, however, most of the mountains were now just tourist attractions, the treasure having been plundered centuries before and the dragon killed in the process (and replaced by a very realistic animatronic duplicate to keep the punters happy). If you were looking for magic trees (of wood as opposed to those car air freshners that smell nice), cottages made of confectionery, any sword embedded in a stone, unofficial spell-casters, illegal potion sellers or two-headed birds, the enchanted forest was the place to go. Grimmtown’s forest had an additional attraction for me, however, one that might go a long way towards solving this case.

We made our way back down from the lofty plateau of Frog Prince Heights, drove across town and into the forest. Fortunately, our destination wasn’t too far in. There were far too many unpleasant things lying in wait deep in the forest for unsuspecting adventurers or unaccompanied tour parties and I had no urge to encounter any of them again (yes, I’ve been there before). After a short drive along a dark, tree-lined road, I pulled up to yet another large gate with yet another anonymous security system.

‘The Heigh Ho Diamond Mining Company,’ said Jack, reading the ornate sign over the gate. ‘Why are we coming here?’

‘Because if anyone can tell me anything about who built that tunnel,’ I said, leaning out of the car to activate the speaker beside the gate, ‘it’s the chaps who run this place.’

‘Name?’ crackled a voice from the speaker. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear it was the same voice as the one at Aladdin’s.

‘Just tell the lads it’s Harry and I’d appreciate a moment of their time.’

Almost as soon as I’d finished speaking, the gates swung opena lot slower and with a lot more gravitas than those at Aladdin’s. There was no drive up to the building though; the offices were right beside the gate. There were seven parking s.p.a.ces marked ‘Director’, all occupied by very fast, very sleek and very expensive cars. I was almost embarra.s.sed to park my heap of junk beside them. Almost, but not quiteI’m unusually thick-skinned for a pig. We got out of the car and entered the office. As I opened the door, I turned to Jack.

‘Not a word, kid,’ I warned. ‘Just let me do the talking. Some of these guys can be a bit difficult to deal with so stay shtum.’

‘Yes sir,’ said Jack, giving me a very official-looking salute that I hoped was tongue in cheek.

The reception area consisted of a few garish plastic chairs grouped around a battered coffee table, which was stacked with the inevitable dog-eared three-year-old magazines. Behind a desk and facing the entrance a sour-looking receptionist glowered at me, as if my arrival was a personal affront to him and had somehow ruined his day. Behind him, running the length of the wall, were seven portraitsone for each of the company’s directors.

‘Take a seat,’ he snapped. ‘One of the Seven will meet you shortly.’

‘Who are “the Seven”?’ whispered Jack, as we sat down. ‘Are they some kind of secret society with blood oaths, strange pa.s.swords and funny handshakes?’

‘Nah,’ I replied nonchalantly, picking up a well-thumbed copy of Miner’s Monthly. ‘Nothing so mysterious. They’re seven dwarves, all brothers, who set up a diamond mining company here years ago. It’s been very profitable. They’ve cornered the diamond market locally. If anyone knows about digging tunnels, these guys do; they’re experts in their chosen fieldor under their chosen field even.’

Fortunately we weren’t kept waiting too long. A door in the wall facing us opened and a large, red, bulbous nose appeared followedit seemed like hours laterby the rest of the dwarf. Unfortunately it was Grumpy, my least favourite.

‘Well Pigg, whaddya want?’ he growled. His interpersonal skills tended to leave a lot to be desiredmost noticeably anything remotely resembling good manners. As a rule his brothers tended not to let him do press conferences when they announced their yearly results.

I, of course, knew exactly which b.u.t.tons to press.

I’m looking for some a.s.sistance please, Mr…ah…it’s Dopey, isn’t it?’ I replied, knowing full well how much it would aggravate him.

His nose turned even redder and the flush spread to the rest of his face. He glowered at me. ‘It’s Grumpy,’ he said. ‘G-R-U-M-P-Y!’

‘By name and by nature,’ I said under my breath to Jack. He looked down and I could see his cheeks bulge as he tried not to laugh. It’s tough being a detective’s a.s.sistant; you must maintain a calm demeanour at all times, especially when confronted with stressful situations.

He took up the magazine I’d been reading and developed an intense interest in an article on new methods of extracting metals from abandoned mines.

‘Apologies, Mr Grumpy. I tend to confuse you and your brothers,’ I lied. ‘I’m looking for information about tunnels and those who dig them. As you have an undoubted expertise in this area, I figure that if anyone can help me it will be you.’

Flattery will obviously get you everywhere as Grumpy positively preened when he heard me compliment him. He puffed up his chest and strutted across the room. I could see his face gradually a.s.sume a less aggressive shade of red as he came towards me.

‘What kind of information?’ he asked.

I gave him the details of the tunnel I’d found without revealing where it had been dug or why. He considered what I’d said.

‘Definitely made by experts from the sound of it, which does narrow it down. The best in the business are little People. It’s almost genetic with us. We have an affinity with stone; we love being underground and have an innate skill in burrowing, digging and making holes.’

What kind of little People are we talking about?’ I asked.

‘Well, apart from my brothers and meand you know it isn’t us,’ he said, ‘you’ve got other dwarves, who usually dig in rock; Halflings, who are good with earth, and fairies, good for small and very basic holes only and purely for sleeping in.’

I wasn’t aware of any of these operating illegally in or around Grimmtown and neither was Mr Grumpy. As his company tended to employ all the expert diggers in the region, he would know of any newcomersparticularly as he would probably end up giving them a job, especially if they showed any kind of talent for tunnelling.

‘Anyone else?’ I asked.

‘There are a few others that have shown tunnelling tendencies in the past. Kobolds, leprechauns, gnomes, the occasional Orc and, on very rare occasions, elves, although they’ve got soft hands so they tend to lotion a lot afterwards.’

I could tell he didn’t hold elves in high esteem. I shared his opinion. They tended to stand around looking mysteriously into the middle distance declaiming loudly and pompously such phrases as ‘The saucer is broken; milk will be spilled this night.’ They never got invited to parties as they usually drank all the beer and, most annoyingly, never seemed to get drunkapart from a tingling sensation in their fingers.

I figured that this was about as much information as I was going to get. It wasn’t a lot but it did give me an inkling of where I should go next. I thanked Grumpy, dragged Jack away from his magazine and headed back to the car.

5.

If You Go Down to the Woods Today.

As I drove back through the forest I kept going over the events of the past two days. Things were starting to make a little sensealthough not much. As I mulled over the case Jack nudged me in the side with a very bony elbow.

‘Mr Pigg,’ he said, ‘don’t look now, but I think we’re being followed.’

‘What makes you say that?’ I asked.

‘Well, the car behind us doesn’t appear to have a driver and it’s been tailing us since we left the dwarves’ place.’

I looked in the mirror. He was right. Directly behind us was a very large, very black and very battered car with no driver obviously behind the wheel. As I looked it began to speed up. I could see the steering wheel rotate but it seemed to be doing so of its own accord. Maybe the Invisible Man was driving the car but, frankly, I doubted ithe had been advised to take taxis, as, every time he got behind the wheel, he tended to cause a small panic.

This was now getting beyond a joke and I wasn’t the one who was laughing. Suddenly, the car accelerated again and rammed us from behind. The impact jolted us forward. Fortunately, apart from being winded, we didn’t suffer any injuries, our seatbelts preventing any major harm.

‘Wheel’ shouted Jack. ‘This is just like a roller coaster. Does this always happen when you drive?’

‘No,’ I said, trying to keep one eye on the road ahead and one on the car behind (not an easy task). ‘Only on good days.’

Of course, car chases never take place on straight wide roads that run for miles with no sharp turns or oncoming traffic. Oh no, apparently convention dictates that they must take place through a busy metropolis with lots of hills, a narrow dirt track running along a sheer drop into the ocean or, as in my case, through a dark forest with a twisty road, lots of sharp bends and (being an enchanted forest) trees that might take exception to being woken up and take a swipe at whatever vehicle had done the waking. The bigger the tree, the more likely your car was to suddenly develop the art of flight when one of its branches made contact. Typically it wasn’t the flying that one needed to be worried about; usually it was the landingwhich tended to be uncontrolled, totally lacking in technique and, almost inevitably, resulted in your vehicle being embedded up to its rear doors in the ground. Most cars tended never to get back on the road after contact with one of our magic trees.

As I swerved to avoid hitting one of these trees and to try to ensure that my pursuer didn’t, I had another of my really bright ideas.

‘Hold tight,’ I roared at Jack as I pressed hard on the accelerator. ‘This could get scary.’

‘You mean it gets better?’ he shouted back, grinning from ear to ear. ‘This is the coolest ride I’ve ever been on. Go Harry!’ He stretched both arms up over his head, as people do just as they get their photograph taken on the scary part of a roller coaster ride, and yelled at the top of his voice. Truly this child had no fear.

The sudden burst of acceleration had, for a few seconds, taken me away from my pursuer. Rather than head towards the forest’s edge, however, I took one of the trails deeper into the trees. I had a very specific destination in mind and one that might, if my timing was right, get this particular pursuer permanently off our backs.

As we drove further into the forest, the trees grew closer together and, eventually, their branches became so entwined over the road they formed a natural tunnel, shutting out daylight completely. I flicked on the headlights and they gave just enough illumination to prevent me driving off the road. On either side, gnarled branches were trying to grab at the car as we pa.s.sed but I was going so fast they only sc.r.a.ped off the sides. They might be ruining the bodywork, but at least the bodies inside the car were undamagedfor now.

I recklessly navigated turn after turn (by the skin of my teeth in most cases), the road getting narrower and windier as we drove. I wasn’t particularly scared of the forest; being chased by an invisible maniac tended to force all other thoughts of being frightened from one’s mind. Our pursuer wasn’t quite as reckless though, preferring to drive fast enough to keep us in his sights but not so fast as to spin off the road. We would hardly have been that lucky but that wasn’t my main objective. It would, however, have made what I was about to do much less of a riskespecially to Jack and meif he’d managed to hit something other than us in the interim.

A fork in the road came up so fast that, even though I was expecting it, I still nearly ploughed straight into the tree that stood right where the road split in two. I swung the steering wheel in an effort to keep the car on track. It screeched around the right-hand turn, leaving a liberal helping of rubber on the road. I was hoping my pursuer might not be so lucky but as I looked in the mirror I saw him take the fork a little less dramatically than I had and continue his relentless pursuit. We were now driving in total darkness such was the tree cover all around us. Even the car’s headlamps didn’t do much to light the way.

I was now driving purely on instinct. Bends came and went in a blur and all the while I could see the lights of the other car behind us, never closing the gap but never losing any ground either. Well, if things went according to plan, there would soon be a fair, and somewhat unexpected, distance between us. I turned to Jack.

‘Hold on tight. Things might get a little b.u.mpier.’

His face lit up like a searchlight. ‘You mean it gets better?’

‘Oh yeah, much better,’ I replied grimly. ‘Just make sure you’re well strapped in.’

At last we were arriving at our destination. In front of us the road narrowed and curved around sharply to the left. Right on the bend stood a large and very old ash tree. Its gnarled branches hung down over the road, trailing long green strands of moss. As we approached they began to twitch as if antic.i.p.ating our imminent arrival. I stood on the brakes and the car stopped abruptly just in front of the tree, jerking both of us forward. Moss draped across the windscreen, obscuring our visibility, but I was only interested in what I could see out of my side window. Jack was looking over his shoulder to see where our pursuer was and was finally starting to panic.

‘Why have you stopped, Harry? He’s getting closer.’

‘I know. Just another few seconds.’ I began to rev up the car.

‘We don’t have a few seconds. He’s right on us.’ Jack was really panicking now.

There was a blurred movement of something grey and gnarled coming towards us from the side and I instantly accelerated. The car shot forward as if it had been fired from a cannon. Our pursuer, who had sped into the s.p.a.ce we’d just vacated, was suddenly swept sideways by a large and very fast moving branch. There was a loud wail from inside the car as it was catapulted across the road and smashed through the undergrowth on the opposite side, leaving a large and impressive vehicle-shaped hole in the bushes. Where the car had been on the road, a few leaves floated gently to the ground.

‘Now that’s what I call a flying car,’ I muttered with satisfaction. ‘James Bond, eat your heart out.’

Before I could take too much pleasure in the somewhat premature end to the chase, I had to drive my own car out of reach of the ash tree’s branches before it had a second swipe. Better safe than even more damaged, I always say.

‘Well, let’s take a look at the incredible flying car,’ I said, as I opened the door and got out. ‘From the noise that it made as it flew through the air with the greatest of ease, I very much doubt that it was driverless.’

As Jack joined me and we began to make our way across to where the other car had landed I turned to the ash tree. ‘Thanks Leslie,’ I said. ‘I can always depend on you to miss me.’

The tree shook its branches violently and sprayed moss in all directions.

‘Maybe next time, Pigg,’ it said in a voice that made Treebeard sound like a soprano. ‘You can’t be lucky forever.’

‘What’s his problem?’ asked Jack.

‘Some other time,’ I replied. ‘It’s a long story. Suffice to say that, ever since my last encounter with him, he’s had a deep longing to play baseball with meusing me as the ball.’

We made our way through the undergrowth. It wasn’t too difficult as the flying car had cleared a wide path for us. We found it in a tree, jammed into the junction of two large branches. On the driver’s side the door was open. Fortunately for me it was within climbing distance. Very carefully, I climbed up to the car and peered inside. Whoeveror whateverhad been driving had clearly done a runner, leaving nothing in the way of clues behind. Apart from the gla.s.s all over the floor, the inside of the car was spotlessly clean. I was now convinced that, despite initial appearances to the contrary, there had been a driver. Something had been screaming in terror as the car took flight and that same something had managed to open the door and disappear before we got there. All I had to do now was figure out what that something was, and if there’s one thing I’m good at (actually, there are lots of things I’m good at) it’s figuring things out. I hadn’t actually expected to find anything in the carthat was a long shot. I was more interested in what may have been on the front. I swung around to the remains of the hood. Steam hissed from the mangled engine but there was no obvious smell of gasoline so I figured I was safe. I ran my trotters carefully over the front grille and felt something jammed in.

‘Let’s see what we’ve got here,’ I muttered, pulling at the mysterious object.

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