The Mystery of the Disappearing animals

By Flash The Fire Fox

Somewhere in a small part of New York City there was a rather unimpressive apartment, it wasn't very big but it wasn't small either. Inside this apartment an alarm clock went off, slowly with a groan a young man hit the snooze button. This man's name was Justin C. Johnson; he was twenty six years old with black hair and beep blue eyes. These eyes however couldn't see a thing without glasses. Though he was about to take a shower, Justin put on his glasses sleepily wanting to be able to see on his way to the bathroom. Justin never took very long showers. A good thing, because the young man had chores to do before he ate breakfast let alone went to work. Justin's first chore of the day was taking his dog out to the back of the apartment. In the back was a fenced in yard where all apartment owners were allowed to put their dogs while working.

After this Justin would go inside getting properly dressed because he usually took his dog out in his bath robe, once dressed he'd open the door to his roommate's room slightly before starting breakfast. Justin was a very caring young man but very shy and had very few friends, his roommate Norbert was one of the few he had. Norbert however was a heavy sleeper and though he didn't actually have to go to work until much later in the day it was up to Justin to make sure his friend got up. Opening Norbert's door while he cooked was the only thing that Justin had used so far that worked in getting him up.

He couldn't help but smile as he heard a sleepy groan from his friend's room. Though he knew he had to focus on the food so it wouldn't burn it brought him great joy to know that he could get Norbert up so easily.

"Smell's good Justin, what are you cooking?" Norbert asked as he rubbed his eyes lazily.

"What I always cook silly eggs and bacon, your favorite." Justin said rolling his eyes placing food onto his friend's plate.

"Well thanks man it's nice of you, anyway hope you have a good day at work and I hope Stonewell doesn't show up at the shelter today." Norbert said causing Justin to flinch.

Doctor Bart Stonewell was a grumpy forty year old man who owned the animal shelter Justin worked at, he was a very short rather plump man. He had greasy grey hair that was balding on the top of his head. Doctor Stonewell liked to complain about the people working for him and was very rude to them despite the fact they were all good workers. The doctor was especially rude to Justin because he was jealous of the fact that the shy young man got so many comments on his looks. Doctor Stonewell loved his animal shelter and owned a lot of animals of his at his house, his animals were the only "family" Dr. Stonewell had or that will live with him.

Justin didn't know why the doctor hated him but he knew something odd was going on, though the doctor loved his shelter he hated coming to the wing where Justin worked yet lately had been coming by more often.

"You and me both Norbert, the strangest part is whenever the doctor's around in my wing I lose track of an animal or two." Justin said finishing his breakfast before slipping out his coat ready to worry.

"You mean they just disappear or something?" Norbert asked curiously feeling more so when Justin nodded.

"Huh that's weird; anyway do you want me to meet you and your sister at the park today?" Norbert asked changing the subject completely.

"No I'm not taking her today, though I wouldn't mind if you'd want to walk with me somewhere." Justin said receiving a nod as he left to catch his bus.

Riding the bus to the shelter was the easiest way for Justin to get to the shelter, he didn't like driving but it was too far to walk to the shelter from his apartment. Riding the bus however was a bit boring. The best part of the whole ride was driving up to the big red bricked animal shelter. Of course knowing when you were approaching the building wasn't all that difficult, compared to the dull buildings that surrounded it the shelter was defiantly noticeable. Much to Justin's relief the bus stopped though he did have to walk before finally reaching the shelter.

"The exercise will do me well today; I'll be able to think more about the missing animal. Besides I really don't want to deal with the doctor right now so if I go in a little later than normal he might be somewhere else." Justin said to himself with a sad but hopeful sigh.

Unfortunately for Justin today really wasn't his day, though much to his coworker's surprise he did come later than normal it didn't prevent him from literally bumping into the doctor right as he was about to go to his station.

"Watch where you going you stupid little…oh it's you, wait what are you doing here now you're usually earlier Johnson." Dr. Stonewell said angrily spinning around to see who had bumped into him only looking angrier when seeing Justin.

"I wasn't feeling well sir so I…" Justin said being interrupted before he could finish.

"I don't really care about your health Jonson just get to your station and work!" Stonewell said looking around suspiciously for a minute then glaring at Justin.

"Yes Sir Dr. Stonewell I'll get right to it." Justin said politely.

"Good now get going before I fire you, luckily for you I'm in a good mood or I'd have done it already!" Stonewell said storming off still looking around suspiciously.

Not wanting to get himself in anymore trouble Justin decided to get to his section of the shelter as quickly as he could; still he was unable to deny that the doctor had been acting really strange when he bumped into him. Upon entering his section however he completely forgot this fact because everyone was staring at him as though he was an alien. He was usually first to the wing usually keeping to him self most of the time; he had been late before though admittedly he had never been this late.

"Hey Johnson you're awfully late today, something keeping you?" one of the workers asked as others stared at Justin making him uncomfortable.

"I w-wasn't feeling good so I came in late and then I met up with Stonewell, he was acting…" Justin tried to say looking around at all the suspicious glances he was getting.

"Look I'm sorry Justin but first you start acting more social around the people that work in the wing with you, then you show up late, and now there are even more missing animals than usual after you show up." The same man said as Justin received pitying but yet still suspicious glances from the others.

"Wait what are you getting at? Are you saying I have something to do with the missing animals?" Justin asked unable to believe what he was hearing.

Though true he had been more social than normal it was because he was actually starting to make friends with his coworkers because they'd been friendly, as for the missing animals he couldn't believe that he of all people was being accused.

"Everyone you all know me, you know I'd never…" Justin pleaded trying to defend himself but unable to because he was interrupted yet again.

"Actually we don't Justin, you've never really socialized with us until recently but we do know you really love these animals." The same man said giving Justin a sad look

"That doesn't mean that I…" Justin begged getting interrupted for a third time.

"Sorry Justin we don't really have a choice just go with these fine men and we'll go look for the missing animals." The man said placing a hand on the twenty six year olds shoulder until the police who had been standing in the corner of the room placed Justin's hands behind his back.

Knowing there was no point in trying to defend himself Justin allowed the police to place the handcuffs on his wrist, he tried looking at them all pleadingly hoping they'd realize how silly it was to suspect him but of course this didn't do him any good and he was taken away. Outside Justin was embarrassed to see the media all around and tried to hide his face as he was escorted to the police car, he was more mortified when out of the corner of his eye he saw Norbert taking his sister to her school close to the shelter.

Signaling as best he could Justin tried to get Norbert to take his sister away so she wouldn't have to see him being taken away; as he passed Norbert he saw the look of confusion on his friend's face.

"I'll explain later, I swear I didn't do it though." Justin mouthed as the police car sped off to the police center.

Eventually the squad car stopped at the station and the police escorted Justin inside to the nearest cell. Once safely inside the handcuffs were removed and the door to the cell was closed. A few hours into his imprisonment one officer, a man by the name of Michelson brought a chair over sitting down in front of Justin's cell to finally question him.

"Alright Mr. Johnson why don't you tell me a little about your self, only thing I have so far is that you're a pretty quiet guy who loves animals." Michelson said crossing one leg over the other looking at Justin in an odd way.

"I do love animals Sir but I'd never do this, the only thing that I can really say is that if you ask my roommate Norbert he'll be glad to tell you I'm right." Justin said pacing around his cell for something to keep his mind off of everything.

"What about your parents or your little sister would any of them tell me that you're just a shy young man who is the victim of a crime he didn't commit, or would they say you're a weirdo who's obsessed with having pets like your boss Stonewell did?" Michelson asked as Justin's eyes widened in both shock and anger.

"First of all please don't get my family involved in this and second Dr. Stonewell hates me so I'm not surprised he said that, if you want to talk to anyone it should be him considering he was acting strange when I saw him." Justin said angrily slamming his hand into the nearest wall.

"Calm down kid I'm just telling you what the Doc told me, anyway I don't really see you as the type who…" Michelson was about to say when suddenly Norbert burst into the holding area.

"He didn't do it officer and I can prove it, there were more disappearances while he was gone which means he couldn't be the culprit which of course I already knew." Norbert said in on long breath as Justin rolled his eyes at the last part looking worried about the rest.

"Well we still don't know if it is not him, for all we know he could have an accomplice or something" Michelson said trying to list all the possibilities though it was clear he didn't believe what he was saying either.

"You can't be serious man, I know Justin and he'd never…" Norbert started to say stopping when h Justin held up his hand for silence.

"Officer would it be okay if I try to prove my innocence, let me investigate the shelter and if I can't find any evidence I'll willingly go to jail." Justin said receiving a horrified look from his friend and a slightly skeptical on for Michelson.

"You can come with and observe, if I can't find out who did this by morning then you can tell everyone I did it." Justin added smiling slightly when Michelson nodded standing up and opening his cell door.

"Alright kid but don't do anything funny, oh and you come too whatever your name is you're a suspect too." Michelson said signaling to Norbert to come much to the young man's surprise.

"Norbert it is okay I'll take all the blame if we can't find the evidence we need, I don't think that'll happen though so try not to worry." Justin said receiving to his surprise a head shake from his friend as they headed outside.

"We're in this together man; if you go down I go down." Norbert said loyally making Justin smile as they got into the back of the police car.

"Well hopefully you two don't actually have to go "down" together, I would hate arresting two guys I know aren't guilty." Michelson said slipping in the driver's seat starting his squad car.

"So where do we go first Johnson?" Michelson added curiously as they started to drive.

"The best place to start is the animal shelter I guess, it will be strange though…going back to the shelter after what happened to me I mean." Justin said in a slightly hurt tone.

"If it makes you feel better after more animals disappeared all your coworkers' felt guilty for accusing you." Norbert said with an annoyed snort not noticing Justin's smile.

Driving away from the shelter in the squad car had been the most embarrassing thing Justin had ever done but driving back in the same squad car was also embarrassing, what was more embarrassing was when he actually went into the wing he worked in at the shelter though. Nearly everyone he worked with came up to him immediately starting to apologize. Though to their surprise he was happy to forgive them Justin was in a bit of a rush to get some evidence to prove his innocence. Much to his annoyance as he was heading to his specific area of the wing he literally ran into the one person he really didn't want to see at the moment, Dr. Stonewell.

"Sorry about that my fault, excuse me please I'm in a hurry." Dr. Stonewell said not noticing it was Justin he had bumped into as the young man stared at Norbert in shock once the doctor had left.

"Uh am I'm the only one who finds that strange, I mean you have to admit that is definitely not how he usually acts." Norbert said raising an eyebrow as Justin nodded too in shock to say anything about what had just happened.

"Hey do either of you know where he's going by chance, I admit I don't know the doctor I've heard of him and I must say he was acting strangely." Michelson said looking skeptical.

"He's probably heading home man, that's were he always goes when he's not… hey we should look at his house for evidence!" Norbert said seriously before jumping up excitedly.

"Even if we do we'd need a permit to go into his house and we…" Michelson started to say before getting interrupted by Norbert.

"Man we don't need to go in his house all we need to do is investigate around it for clues, come on let's go before it's to late!" Norbert said tugging at Michelson's sleeve receiving a sigh from the officer.

"Alright fine we'll go but I'm getting a permit if we find anything of interest." Michelson said with sigh for them to head back to the squad car.

To Norbert and Justin's horror as they drove over to where Stonewell's house was they discovered that he lived not that far from them, they were even more horrified at the condition of the house when they saw it. Stonewell's house a boring grey color and was falling apart in different places, as they got out of the squad car Justin couldn't help but wonder why anyone would want to live in it.

"Hey Justin do you hear that? I know that bark, you remember the weird dog Ms. Poppy adopted, that's her bark I swear and that dog vanished not that long ago." Norbert said once closer to the house.

"Ms. Poppy's dog was a favorite of the doctor's; he was really upset when she was adopted. The question is what is she doing here?" Justin asked leaning down toward a window leading to the basement once they were that close to the house.

"What in the world…Officer Michelson come look at this." Justin said backing away from the window allowing the officer to look.

"These must be the animals taken from the shelter but there are too many to be from just one shelter." Michelson said standing up in shock having seen cages full of animals in the basement.

"Well what are you waiting for, aren't you going to find a way to get in there so we can rescue the animals?" Norbert said gesturing toward the window as Michelson rushed over to his squad car.

"Hold on let me get a permit in case the Doc comes home, I'll be right back with that and back up so stay out here and wait!" Michelson said zooming away in his car before they could say anything.

Norbert and Justin watched as their escorted zipped away sitting for a while until Norbert suddenly smiled out of nowhere going over to the window leading to the basement.

"Norbert what are you doing?" Justin asked in confusion when his friend pulled a screwdriver from out of nowhere.

"I'm getting us in there that's what I'm doing." Norbert said with smirk before starting to picklock the window.

"Norbert you can't do that! Hey come on Officer Michelson told us to wait, what's he going to say if he comes back and sees you pick locking the window!" Justin asked in horror seeing Norbert roll his eyes as he continued on the window.

"We don't know how long he'll be gone man, besides it no trouble I've never had problems before." Norbert said finally getting the window open as Justin stared at him skeptically for minute.

"Mind explaining why you're so good at picking locks Norbert?" Justin asked looking at the window not sure whether he should be impressed or worried at his friend's handiwork.

"Not now man I'll explain later, look I have a camera now you're the only one skinny enough to slip through that window without making it obvious I picked it so get in there and take pictures for evidence!" Norbert said rolling his eye practically pushing Justin to the window.

"Fine but you will explain, anyway wish me luck." Justin said skeptically before sliding through the open window.

All Justin saw before getting into the basement was Norbert rolling his eyes but deciding to worry about that latter he started taking as many pictures of all the animals as he could, Justin was happy to see that the animals at least looked healthy as he took the pictures when suddenly he heard his cellphone ring.

"What in the world, Norbert why is Norbert calling me when he's right outside?" Justin asked himself out loud as he answered his phone.

"Justin is that you man?' Norbert's voice asked in almost a whisper confusing Justin.
"Of course it's me silly, why are you whispering Norbert?" Justin asked when suddenly he heard an odd noise outside.

"Dude you have to get out of there the doctor's… oh man Justin hide he's going inside!" Norbert said as Justin looked at his phone in confusion.

"Norbert what's going on why do I need to hide? Wait are you saying that Stonewell's…"Justin started when suddenly he felt something him hard at the back of the head causing him to pass out and his phone to tumble to the ground.
"Justin? Hey Justin you still there man…hey buddy seriously you need to…" Norbert said desperately from his hiding spot in the bushes where he'd been when the doc had pulled up when he hear a snapping noise.

"Justin! Oh man I got to get Michelson quick!" Norbert said running off as fast as he could knowing Justin was in trouble.

An hour or so later Justin awoke to a splitting headache finding himself tied up in a cage tied up and gagged, he tried struggling but his arms had been tightly tied to one of the bars behind him so it was no use. Beside Justin felt strange as though he'd been drugged or something and as the door to the basement then to the cage he was in opened it was hard to focus, what worried Justin most was how hard it was focus even as his chin was tilted up so he was looking straight at Stonewell.

"Amazing things tranquilizers Johnson can make a person so loopy they can't even think straight, course they don't really work on me anymore but their effect on you sure is amusing. Don't worry though once I've s-sold some animals for more I'll be able to leave this city for a quiet life whilst you on the other hand… well I doubt you'll be missed Johnson." Stonewell said with a psychotic laugh.

"Wait what does he mean by that, what's he going to me!" Justin thought dizzily to himself struggling as best he could trying to release himself from Stonewell's grip making the doctor chuckle.

"It's no use Johnson just relax, I'm going out for a minute or two but I'll be right back to fix your problem." Stonewell said chuckling psychotically again before letting go of Justin then leaving the twenty six year old alone with the animals as company.

Tears formed in Justin's eyes knowing what the doctor had meant and though he knew it was futile especially with the drugs in his system now he struggled as much as possible, finally after a minute or two when Justin heard the basement door open again he gave up with tears in his eyes. He did flinch slightly when he heard a gun being cocked but didn't try doing anything else, however when the barrel of the gun was pressed against his forehead Justin couldn't help but tear up and try to struggle away.

"Relax Johnson it'll be quick I promise, any last words?" Stonewell asked removing the gag as Justin squirmed.

"Please Doctor Stonewell you don't have to do this, we can get you help and all have to do is…" Justin tried begging before his gag was replaced and the gun was pressed harder to his forehead.

"Ha let you go that's funny Johnson, no one can know about this. You don't know how hard it is to sell my animals but I refuse any help, besides I've never liked you Johnson," Stonewell said placing his finger on the trigger as Justin closed his eyes thinking of anything beside his end.

Flashes of his parents, of the shelter, of Norbert, but especially of his sister filled his head as he prepared to die. Oddly though Justin was expecting to being hearing the gun fire instead he heard two familiar voices fill the room causing him to open his eyes in confusion.

"Michelson, Norbert? What are they doing here, wait they must be here to…" Justin thought to himself as tears of relief filled his eyes.

"Hands up Stonewell don't move, Norbert you go free Justin and we'll take care of him." Michelson said he and the backup he'd brought arresting Stonewell as Norbert ran over to Justin.

"Justin are you okay man? Dude you looked drugged, well don't worry I got you." Norbert said untying Justin who fell limply against the bars until being gently placed onto his friends back.

"I was drugged but don't worry I should be okay Norbert, what took you guys I was beginning to think Stonewell would actually finish me." Justin said laying his head against his friend's shoulder.

"I'm so sorry man it's my fault, you know how bad I am with directions well without you I couldn't remember where the courthouse is then I had to wait for old Judge Wilson to sign the permit before I could even tell Michelson, and then he had to get back up!" Norbert said frustratedly causing Justin laugh.

"It's okay I forgive you, you still need to explain the whole pick locking thing though." Justin said in teasing whisper causing both men to laugh before Justin fell asleep.

Time passed and Justin recovered from being drugged, Stonewell was sent to a rehab center but went insane. Justin earned a great deal of apologies and eventually became the owner of the shelter though he still lives with his roommate in his apartment occasionally going out on a date with his new girlfriend or taking his sister to the park. Michelson eventually became police chief and visits the two young men whose innocence he knew all along quite often. As for Norbert well…he never did explain his pick locking abilities.

The end