Hello there, readers! I am happy to be back with another new chapter of The Keyhole! I had to take a little break to work on some of my other stories, like Found and my non-fanfics like The Thaumaturgist. Also, this chapter is a little shorter than usual, sorry about that. This chapter was proofread by Trismegistus Shandy, whose stories I absolutely recommend!
Anyways, I present to you chapter twenty! Feel free to let me know what you think!
The Keyhole (Chapter 20)
"So..." Cadet Jack Savage said while pacing back and forth in front of Walter. The human cadet chuckled inwardly at the sight of the hare strutting about confidently back and forth before him.
"So?" Walter queried, already having a good idea as to what Jack had pulled him aside to the barracks to talk to him about.
"So... next week is our graduation. Are ya nervous?" Jack looked up at Walter with a smirk.
"Why would I be nervous?" Walter asked.
"Well, as Valedictorian, you'll be expected to give a little speech. And since you're the very first of your species to become a police officer, naturally there's probably going to be a lot of press there. And all sorts of important mammals, probably the mayor as well. Not to mention the very first fox officer. And I'm pretty sure the very first bunny cop will be there too, and she was valedictorian as well." Jack said, continuing his strutting.
"I've never really had a problem with public speaking, Jack," Walter said, having by now become well-versed enough to read the hare. He had already figured that the discussion about their upcoming graduation was just a smokescreen so that Jack could work up the courage to bring up what he really wanted to talk about.
"Besides, I'd figured that you'd be more concerned about your date with a certain arctic vixen," the human said, watching the ever so slight quiver in the hare's perked-up ears.
"Concerned?" Jack gave a wave of his paw before puffing out his chest, fists on his hips. "What would I have to be concerned about? A date with an attractive female who practically swoons at my every passing?"
"Wait, are you talking about that time that she slipped on the wet tile in the halls while you were walking past?" Walter asked.
"I plan on taking her to a day spa," Jack went on, ignoring the question entirely, "just as the warm-up act. Then dinner at a fancy restaurant, followed by an evening stroll through the park."
"You're taking her out to a spa?" Walter asked, confused. "I have never heard of anyone going on a date at a spa before."
"That's what makes my plan so brilliant!" Jack said, in the blink of an eye standing next to where Walter was sitting on his bed. "And original. Everyone knows that females can't get enough of originality and creativity!"
"Uh-huh," Walter said, still sounding dubious. "And what kind of spa is it?"
"Well... it's a day spa... so... uh... eh, okay I'm not really sure on the details. But from what Dennis told me it sounds beautiful, relaxing, and scenic." Jack recalled the reindeer who, after hearing about the upcoming date, had been quick to volunteer the idea. Jack hadn't noticed a few other cadets holding back snickers upon hearing Dennis pitch him the idea.
"So it's actually his idea then, not yours?" Walter looked at Jack, who hopped down and casually leaned up to rest an elbow against one of the human's legs.
"Walter, Walter, Walter," Jack said, shaking his head with his usual smirk, "a great artist draws inspiration from their surroundings, and I am no different."
"So now you're an artist?"
"When it comes to the art of love, I am one of the greats." Jack puffed out his chest again. Walter rolled his eyes.
"Okay, and what's the spa called?"
"The Mystic Springs Oasis," Jack said with a wink, "that's right, I know how to pick 'em."
"I think that particular credit goes to Dennis."
"Just one step after another," Robbie said, gently encouraging the human using the parallel bars. Alex was holding onto a rail on either side of himself, helping to keep steady as he familiarized himself with walking with his prosthetic leg. He smiled, taking a second to look sideways at the beaver nurse with his one working eye, the second one underneath a bandage, blind.
I really hope that this isn't all just some fever dream or a hallucination, Alex thought as he reached the end.
"Great job, Alex," Robbie said, looking up and smiling.
Alex just gave a shrug to the smaller mammal, looking around the rehab room at all the other patients working with their physical therapists. "It's... different..."
"That's for sure, but you're coming along great!" Robbie said.
"I'm actually a little surprised that you actually were able to make me a prosthetic at all," Alex admitted as he went through the bars again.
Robbie shrugged with his usual smile. "We actually have a human who was a prosthetist back where you all came from; he appeared two months ago." Robbie frowned a little at the memory of first meeting the prosthetist, a large human male whose face had been badly burned on the left side.
"That sounds lucky," Alex said, still taking short even steps.
"I'll say." Robbie shook off the memory and shifted his focus back to Alex.
"And that's another five blueberry pies ordered, Sugar Tail," Sharla said with a wink at Gideon who was hard at work in the back of his shop. She giggled at the slight blush she saw inside his ears at her pet name for her mate.
"I'm on it, Darlin'," Gideon said, taking a moment to start gathering up supplies. Today had proven to be unusually busy for the shop, and the chubby fox had been grateful that Sharla's friend, Bobby Catmull, had volunteered to babysit Jeremy. He stood there for a brief moment and smiled. The human baby had been curious about the cougar, and had felt the need to tug on his whiskers and then his lips with his pudgy little hands. Gideon then got to work on the next set of pies, finishing them just in time to pull the most recent finished batch out of the oven and put the new ones in. He quickly boxed them and carried them to the front of the store where Sharla was taking some more orders. They then switched, Sharla standing up on her tip-hooves to give Gideon a quick peck on the side of his muzzle before heading into the back to start baking while he took his turn mammaling the register.
"Four lemon meringue pies, two key lime pies, and one dozen cookies," Gideon announced, handing the packaged baked goods off to the warthog female, who smiled and licked her lips. "Save it for the party, Sharon," Gideon heard her muttering to herself as she left. He was about to turn to the next customer in line, when he saw a series of bunnies running about frantically outside his shop door. Flashing the waiting moose an apologetic smile, Gideon made his way to the front door and poked his head out. He spotted two swarms of bunnies from the Hopps family, the adults, not the kerfluffle of little kits, packing all together into two separate trucks.
"Thanks for letting us borrow your trucks, Mrs. Leapington!" came the voice of one of Judy's littermates. He was a brown bunny whom Gideon always forgot the name of, and was presently sitting in the lead truck, speaking to an older female rabbit.
"It's no trouble on my part, Justin. I hope that you can help your sister find her kit," Mrs. Leapington said, wringing her paws worriedly.
"So do I," Justin said, looking grim. With a nod, he fired up the engine, the rear truck doing the same, and both bunny-laden vehicles pulled out in the direction of Zootopia, kicking up large clouds of dust.
Judy's kit's missin'? Gideon wondered, feeling a sudden pang of fear for his friend, as well as a sense of unease. The dust clouds were starting to disperse, and Gideon was considering calling up Bobby to make sure Jeremy was okay, when he spotted a wizened older bunny, walking along in the same direction as the trucks went. The fox recognized the oldest living Hopps relative, known only as Pop-pop, walking along with his cane thumping the ground.
"Gunna go and get that varmint. No one takes one of our kits and gets away with it." Pop-pop said, looking around and squinting before seeming to get turned around. He then shook his head, and started muttering darkly about what he would to the varmints in question when he caught them, but now he was heading in the opposite direction. Gideon saw Mrs. Leapington shake her head before going after the much older bunny. Certain that Pop-pop was going to be fine, Gideon quickly went to the back of the store.
"Sharla," Gideon said. His little black ewe looked over to him, her smile quickly fading as she took in the look on his face.
"Gid? What's wrong?" she asked, feeling a sense of unease.
He has my kit... he has my kit... HE HAS MY KIT! Judy choked back a panicked sob as she felt her mother's arms around her. They were standing off to the side of the entrance, with Stu on his phone having called Justin to gather up some more of the adults to come help with a search. Nick was also talking on his phone, worriedly looking at his mate. His normal cool and casual demeanor had evaporated instantly when he had learned that their kit had been abducted. He had just ended his call with a distraught Clawhauser and turned to try and console his mate, wanting nothing more than to find whoever took Eli and tear into them, when he spotted Thomas sprinting towards them.
"Uncle Nick, Aunt Judy!" Thomas looked disheveled as Nick looked over the teenage bunny who had quickly organized a search amongst the Hopps family. "We found the guy that attacked Eli!" There was a moment of pause when everyone froze in place, before Judy, with furious tears in her eyes, looked up at her nephew.
At that moment...
"Eli, please try to wake up," Mike pleaded, pulling open an eyelid on his unconscious human friend. The pre-teen mouse had lost the signal on his phone after describing some surroundings he had seen pass by in the back of the van, careful not to alert the crazed badger. He wasn't sure of where they were, thinking that maybe they were now in the rainforest district, due to the humidity. They were in a warehouse, Mike knew that much, as he had seen the badger hop out after pulling inside to close and lock the large doors. He continued to hide in Eli's pocket after she had returned to move the unconscious human child, which had been a little difficult considering how much larger than her Eli was, before finally dragging them inside a cage just large enough to hold Eli. Honey exited, making sure to lock the cage, scurrying away somewhere. Mike had waited, listening, before getting out and trying to rouse his friend.
"M-Mike?" Eli mumbled, slowly coming to, but his eyes were unfocused. "Where's my mom? Where's my dad?" he asked in a small voice.
"Th-they'll find us, buddy," Mike said, clamping down on his own fear. Taking a deep breath, Mike started to look around, taking in his surroundings.
And there you have it, readers! I hope that you enjoyed the new chapter, and please feel free to leave me a review!