The Adventures of Vulpecula | Serial | Episode One: “The Grand Illusion” | 3 - Mishmashers Mishmashers

The Adventures of Vulpecula | Serial | Episode One: “The Grand Illusion” | 3

“Everybody was taken by surprise, you say, but what steps were taken after everybody came to realize Molly’s disappearance? The police officers were here before us, did they share any of their discoveries with you, and besides that, were there any witnesses, ones that might have seen anything suspicious?” Vulpecula walked up the steps leading to the stage and welcomed himself on eye-level with Eric Leon, but not actual eye-contact. Vulpecula’s eyes browsed merrily at the trapdoor with the utmost of curiosity.

“A man reported that, as he was walking out of the theater, he saw a gentleman running outside to a car as if he was trying to flee. The man was carrying a darkly-colored suitcase and appeared to be in a hurry. Alongside him appeared to be a female, and the man identified her as being Molly. He said the man clutched her hand fiercely, and that she seemed to appear anxious. Besides this, there hasn’t been a whole lot of anything leaning in any direction. I was hoping that you might be able to shed some light on the situation.” Eric Leon’s voice started to sound a little resentful and agitated near the end of his dialogue but regained his solemn disposition after seconds.

“What exactly did he see?”

“It’s that simple, as he opened the door to leave the theater, having seen one of the other shows that McKinley Halls had that evening, the older gentleman saw two people leaving the theater. To be as specific as possible, he said that the gentleman leading the way was a medium-build gentleman, perhaps taller than average, wearing a leather trench-coat and black top-hat. The female fit the build of Molly Louise and he claimed that she was wearing the same outfit as described on stage earlier in the show. The gent was described as aggressive, pulling her toward the vehicle while she was apprehensive and weary. He pulled her with his left-hand and held a suitcase with his right.”

“You believe this man abducted her against her will?” V inquired.

“I see no other explanation. I think I should offer a little insight into theater. The performing arts are a tough life, especially in a smaller city like Acera. There is a lot of competition, it’s all about image, and it’s easy to make enemies without even noticing it.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. Ah, well, then, if you may, please momentarily bid yourself adieu from me, I am up to task much more when I don’t have an audience. And thank you for your time; I hope that I will be able to bring you information soon.”

Eric Leon seemed disheartened by the request, but to his credit, he diligently obliged and left the trio to revel in their thoughts. Vulpecula didn’t say anything to Apus or Lacerta, and they said nothing to him. Apus and Lacerta stood quietly starry-eyed while Vulpecula attempted to unravel the situation. He saw no reason for objection against Eric Leon’s theorizing, but didn’t find much realism in the transgression. There were too many dramatics and too much risk. Everything seemed too perfect for an idea of such audacity. Vulpecula’s mind immediately thought to the idea of extortion or blackmail, but that didn’t explain why the kidnapper would want to have such theatrics.

He wanted there to be showmanship and to send a powerful message.

“Do you think it’s possible that Molly Louise was kidnapped?” Apus asked earnestly.

“Possible, certainly, but plausible, not quite,” Vulpecula immediately answered.

“I thought I saw you biting your tongue while Eric was talking,” Apus said sharply, a small smirk somehow visible from his beak.

He referred to the man that allegedly saw the kidnapper and Molly Louise leaving into a car as an older gentleman. I noticed immediately but chose not to investigate, and while we certainly can’t dismiss the witness, we might want to find the keenness of the man’s eyesight. If I recall correctly, there would have also been circumstances that might cloud up some of what he said.”

“What circumstances are you referring to?” Lacerta pondered aloud.

“He explained that it was two days ago in the afternoon when Molly Louise disappeared during their rendition of The Blood Lane Scarlet, and he told us that the witness saw them fleeing to a vehicle minutes later. Consider how dark it would be and think about how eccentric the weather has been recently. The witness would have had his view considerably obstructed by pouring rain, along with how dark it was and the off-chance possibility that he doesn’t have the best vision.” Vulpecula once more didn’t make eye-contact with Apus or Lacerta; he continued to find himself transfixed on the trapdoor.

Vulpecula would probably never be mistaken for a fox of the ‘theatuh,’ but was curious to how the trapdoor worked. Fortunately, he had always found it particularly easy to skim through everything said once before. These capabilities of the fox worked to his advantage.

He closed his eyes and looked through the innermost confines of his conscious thought, his imaginary chalkboard, filled with all the notes regarding the case.

All the movements that he made; every mannerism composed by Eric Leon during their conversation was completely accessible to him for a short-time. Afterward, of course, the heavily filled chalkboard would be erased, and replaced by a new case, but now, it operated under his complete leisure.

“Elaborate,” Vulpecula instructed plainly.

“While doing one of the scenes, she accidentally walked over one of the stages’ trapdoors and triggered it.”

The trapdoor was simple, unlike some other trapdoors that might have been lever-activated. This didn’t rule out that there wasn’t a kidnapper, however, because the latch to unlock the trapdoor was under the stage. Molly Louise could have certainly unlatched it before appearing on-stage, but she was the story’s protagonist, therefore, she likely wouldn’t have had the time alone to be given the chance. Then, there’s the risk it could have been triggered by somebody else.

“Did you hear me,” Lacerta called out before snapping his fingers in Vulpecula’s direction in-order to get his attention. “Did you hear what I said?” He asked once again with such uncertainty.

“Not a word,” V answered honestly.

Lacerta rubbed the temples of his forehead before repeating himself. “I said… do you believe that we should disregard the witness’ account since there’s a chance it is not authentic?”

Quite the contrary, the testimony’s relevance remains, but rather, I believe that we approach it with a grain of salt, not full-heartedly accepting, but not condemning either.”

What are your instincts telling you?”

They are telling me that the solution to our little conundrum is unlikely to be discovered anywhere inside of this theater, but still, we should look under the stage, if for no other reason than for me to attempt at recreating the scene.” Vulpecula answered.

Vulpecula looked around at the stage, appreciating the scenery; there were no backdrops and so, all the pulleys, sandbags, and props held a novelty to them. V headed uncomfortably one direction before turning to go the next, not entirely sure which side of the stage would take him to where he wanted to be. He eventually sought to stage right behind a white building prop with red hand-prints on the building meant to look like smeared blood. Apus and Lacerta followed him. While trying to find his way down the stairs, Vulpecula almost inadvertently tripped over one of the weighted sandbags but was able to keep his footing. Down the stairs, he beheld the spots dedicated to makeup. On the back-side, there was a row of spinning chairs each standing in-front of circular mirrors outlined by light-bulbs, as well as several cosmetic supplies that Vulpecula didn’t recognize. Beside all of them, there was a door leading to the lobby that Vulpecula chose not to investigate. On the side closest facing the theater, there were racks with clothing, out-of-place ladders, and pieces of plywood leaned against some of the walls.

Finally, Vulpecula found what he was looking for, a small, red push and pull plate door with a sign that spelled out the word “storage”. He pushed open the door and true to the words, there were plenty of boxes and props stored. It wasn’t cluttered though, and the second that Vulpecula walked in, he could see the cushion directly beneath the trapdoor. Vulpecula could tell that the area wasn’t finished as there were plenty of nails jutting out from some of the walls and wooden support beams placed sporadically throughout the area.

His eyes browsed the room frantically, not looking for anything, but merely looking for the sake of looking. He walked over to the cushion lying in the middle of the room. Fittingly, the cushion was a scarlet color and felt like nothing more than a large sponge wrapped in red clothe. Above him, he could see the bottom of the trapdoor as well as the latch that locked it from being triggered. There wasn’t going to be anything of use in this vicinity and that fact seemed strikingly obvious. Footprints and fallen fabric meant absolutely nothing; there were thousands of feet which had walked under this stage and plenty of items which carried no significance at all whatsoever.

There was only one thing left to do in the theater. He directed one of his companions to ready a ladder to unlatch the trapdoor before returning to the top of the stage. He imagined the emotions which might be carried by Molly Louise, there was a play going on before her, only one-hundred or so watching her perform, would she feel anxiety? This isn’t something that he could assume, after years and years on-stage, surely, she had been numb to some of the stage-fright. However, she could still be anxious, if Molly Louise anticipated the happening, she would be worried of being caught. If there were a second individual, perhaps the man witnessed leaving the theater with a woman described as congruent in size and shape to Louise, she might have been worried he wouldn’t unlatch the trapdoor on time. Maybe he’d even unlatch the trapdoor to be triggered by somebody else!

A lot of things to consider, especially if there wasn’t a second-person, she’d have to be swift but not obvious at keeping anybody else from triggering the trap. This is assuming, however, that this wasn’t a straightforward kidnapping. This is assuming that she knew, when in-reality, she might not have.

Her feet stand over the trapdoor, and she is feeling either one of two things. She is feeling relief that everything has gone according to plan. She is feeling astonishment, as well as confusion. This wasn’t in the script … Vulpecula waited what he believed was ample time for Lacerta or Apus to unlatch the trapdoor before stepping upon it. There was serenity to his fall, no swish or swipe at the air, before landing on the cushion. He arose to his feet, lending his eyes to neither of his friends. He looked around, what did she do afterward?

A witness puts her end as entering a vehicle which certainly seems plausible, but he also says that the man was forceful and aggressive. Vulpecula’s eyes looked around as he imagined a man grabbing at him. There was likely an anxiety at this moment, but it is uncertain what it could have been caused by. The witness describes the man as pulling her toward the car which implies that she was conscious. He did nothing to incapacitate her, if he did, he’d never be able to get her out without notice. Did she follow him for a reason, was this extortion or blackmail, a gun pointed at her? She could have screamed. In-fact, in this situation, silence would be essential. Vulpecula walked toward the door and opened it.

What would Molly Louise and the assumed kidnapper be seeing, outside of the storage area, it was dedicated mostly to makeup and cosmetics, would there be more witnesses? Likely, and so, why did nobody besides the man identify seeing her? A lot of the performers would be in the lobby, readying themselves to perform or stewing after their performance. There might not have been a lot in the room, but there would have been enough. They might have been distracted, but that doesn’t mean they’d risk it. Vulpecula went back into the storage area beneath the stage, Apus and Lacerta both looking at him in confusion.

Vulpecula didn’t feel the need to explain his behaviors to them; they knew the drill by now. There were boxes and boxes stacked upon one another, neither looked any more peculiar than the other. Vulpecula grabbed one of the boxes and pulled it with all his might, successfully moving it away from the wall exposing … nothing.