"Disgusting." Franziska von Karma's words almost seemed to echo against the aged, chipped brick of the apartment building wall.
Normally, Miles Edgeworth would have lectured his adoptive sister on her rudeness, reminding her to show the proper respect for those who inhabited the place. However, standing outside the apartment complex—which bore a better resemblance a sleazy motel—he could not bring himself to vocally object.
"It is what it is, Franziska," he finally said, tightening his grip on the handle of his suitcase. "We will simply have to make the best of it." Though it turned his stomach to do so, he started taking steps toward the building.
Franziska fell in step behind him. "This is all your fault, you know. If you hadn't brought Scruffy's salary under review so many times..."
Edgeworth scoffed. "My fault? Who was it that deemed it appropriate to cut the detective's wages over a little spilled coffee?"
"It was appropriate because he spilled it on my finest blouse!"
"...He only spilled it because he lost his balance. And that only happened because you whipped him while he was getting you your coffee."
"...I did not care for the way he dumped that powdered creamer into the cup," Franziska said, finally lowering her voice. "Nor did I care for that styrofoam cup itself. It is nothing more than a receptacle for toxins. He should know all of that by now."
"That isn't the issue," Edgeworth scolded her. "You knew the judge was visiting Criminal Affairs that morning. There was no need to make a show of whipping the detective and then loudly announcing what you were going to do to his next paycheck." It took a great deal of strength to suppress the urge to roll his eyes. "Really, Franziska, did you honestly think the judge would not question your behavior?"
"Of course not," Franziska replied haughtily. "To the contrary. He was supposed to ask why Scruffy was getting another salary cut, to which I would have gladly replied something to the effect of 'lousy work performance.' But little did I know you had had the same conversation with both the judge and the chief of police mere days ago!"
"Yes, and now, thanks to your little 'coffee drama,' they both think we've acted rashly with Detective Gumshoe's salary, and on more than one occasion. But...I have to question the course of action they've chosen in disciplining us. Ordering us to spend a night in the detective's apartment while he spends the night in mine? I would have expected to pay a fine, or be instructed to recommend a raise for the detective..."
Franziska nodded. "Yes, this is strange. Though I do not care for this type of environment, I do not understand what is the point of making us stay here. It will certainly not improve Scruffy's performance in the least...nor will it change my opinion on the quality of his work."
"That's something we can agree on." Edgeworth finally stopped in front of one of the apartment doors. With his free hand, he dug around in his pants pocket, pulling out a key with a thick plastic tag. The number on the tag did indeed match the number on the door, or at least, he thought it did. The tag was yellowed and dingy, the print of the numbers somewhat faded. Plus, one of two screws was missing, adding a crooked look to the tag.
I suppose we'll know if this is the correct apartment shortly, Edgeworth thought, inserting the key into the lock above the knob. There was an obedient 'click' as he turned the key, and the door seemed to fall open by itself. Indeed.
Franziska was unable to hide her surprise. "What? How did the door open like that? All you did was turn the lock."
"I suspect that the latch gets stuck every now and then. This is probably one of those times." He turned around to face the young woman, and stepped off to the side. "After you, Franziska."
Franziska glared at him, her hand traveling to the whip holster on her hip. "Do not test my patience, Miles Edgeworth. If the conditions inside these apartments are anything like the outside, then you should be the proper gentleman and inspect the area first. There could be wild animals lurking inside."
Who likely ran off in fear of the 'wild animal' wielding the whip outside. "I very much doubt that. However, if it would put your mind at ease, I shall go in first." Edgeworth crossed the threshold, pulling his wine-red suitcase behind him. He stopped briefly to feel around for the light switch on the wall, though it was pointless at that moment. The sun still sat at about a fifty-five degree angle in the sky, providing enough light for the room.
Franziska followed him a moment later, uttering another groan as she laid eyes on what awaited her inside. "What a strange place to put a closet. Scruffy doesn't store much here, does he?"
Edgeworth knew it would horrify, but there was no getting around the truth. "This isn't a closet, Franziska. This is, in fact, Detective Gumshoe's living space. It's called a studio apartment."
And indeed, it did horrify. "Wh-what? But...my closet at home is twice as large as this room. How could anyone live here?"
"Believe it or not, Franziska, not everyone lives in a mansion or a penthouse, or even a luxury condominium. There are a number of people who can only afford to live in...far less spacious areas."
"He...he really lives here?" Franziska asked, still in a state of shock. "Well...I have to admit, I was confused to see the countertop and oven. But...there is barely a bed, and hardly any furniture. Where did he put them?"
Edgeworth didn't know what disturbed him more, the conditions of the place, or how easily he found himself answering the young woman's questions. "It's not a question of where, Franziska," he told her. "Detective Gumshoe simply doesn't make enough to afford a lot of furniture, or even a passable bed." He pointed at an area on the floor, which contained an old, dark sleeping bag, torn and patched in several places. It rested in a heap on a single, undressed mattress—one that was also showing its own signs of wear.
And just like that, the scorn returned. "Well, if he only bothered to do his job properly, he would be making double what he makes now...or...what he used to make before I brought up his last review."
Hearing Franziska speak, Edgeworth almost felt sorry for the man. But it isn't as though what she says is without truth. Perhaps...we truly take it too far at times. It is a wonder the detective is able to sleep here at all.
"Well, I suppose we should set up for tonight," Edgeworth said, rolling his luggage toward one end of the room. "Thankfully, we have inflatable mattresses."
Franziska's tone stiffened. "What?"
"The inflatable mattresses for the floor. Is something the matter?"
"I...I was not informed we had to bring any. I simply assumed...that something would be provided."
Yes, of course...who could forget all the servants working consistently around the clock to deliver the oft praised four-star treatment of the world-renowned Compton Castles? Edgeworth thought sarcastically. He held his tongue. "Well, you are more than welcome to share mine if-" That was all he got out before he heard a snap, quickly followed by the familiar sting of leather across his chest. "Gah!"
"Miles Edgewooorth!" Franziska fumed, cracking her whip. "You dare extend such a dishonorable invitation? It is wholly inappropriate for a von Karma to share bed space with a man with whom she is not romantically involved!"
"Arrgh!" Edgeworth would have at least attempted to step aside, but the room was so small, the young woman would have easily caught up with him. "I was trying to be a gentleman! Why must you take the slightest offense to common courtesy?"
As expected, Franziska was relentless, whipping the man several more times. "Foolish intentions of a foolishly foolish fool, trying to make a fool out of me! If you were a true gentleman, you would offer the whole mattress, not just the half!"
Edgeworth sometimes hated it when Franziska's arguments had a certain logic to it. She has a point there, but after that whipping episode, I won't be parting with my sleeping arrangements so easily. "All right, Franziska. You don't have to share with me. You could always bundle up on that old mattress down there."
"Oh, not to worry. If you get cold, there's always the detective's sleeping bag, which you can most assuredly have all to yourself."
Edgeworth almost took delight in seeing Franziska's face turn red in the ensuing silence. He knew how badly she wanted to subject him to another violent round of whipping, but she refrained.
"...Very well," she finally said through gritted teeth, returning her weapon to its holster. "When you put it that way, it is not so bad having to share that space with you. I do not believe I could last five minutes wrapped up in that filthy, disgusting, unwashed bag anyway."
"That 'filthy, disgusting, unwashed bag' is all the detective has to sleep in at the moment, Franziska. You would do well to remember that." The scolding did nothing for the man's mood; if anything, it added to the uneasiness he had in the pit of his stomach...a feeling that would only grow worse over the next several hours.
It did not take long to unpack. Then again, with the conditions of the apartment, neither Edgeworth nor Franziska cared to subject their belongings to the lack of furniture...or even to the existing furniture.
Around the room, there was one old couch with faded yellow leather, half as stained as the mattress and twice as torn as the sleeping bag. Facing the couch was a bulky thirteen-inch television set from the last century, resting upon a wobbly television dinner tray of a stand. Edgeworth briefly wondered if it even had a remote control. Not that it would matter if Gumshoe wasn't able to afford the cable bill.
Several novels were stuffed into the netted pocket of Edgeworth's suitcase, but he could not bring himself to pull them out to pass the time. He was entirely too distracted by every substandard feature of the room. Looking downward, he could see the floors were made of wood, though they lacked the luster of his floors at home. Not to mention, the lack of maintenance caused them to splinter in places. Translucent curtains did hang over the windows, but did little to conceal the bars that had been attached on the outside.
I have to wonder how safe this place is, Edgeworth thought. I suppose not many would have the gall to harass a police detective, but the same cannot be said for two prosecuting attorneys...unarmed ones, at that.
"Are you thinking about leaving?" Franziska's voice broke into his thoughts.
"That expression on your face...the last time you showed that was just before you had to question that highly talkative elderly woman. Should I be concerned?"
Edgeworth nearly shuddered at the mere mention of Wendy Oldbag, the woman who occasionally stalked him and caused him no shortage of trouble and grief, both inside and outside the courtroom. "No," he said. "I was just thinking about all the fragile items I have on display in my apartment. I suspect I'll be coming home to broken crystal and misplaced ceramic."
The wicked smile returned to Franziska's face. "Have I told you what a relief it is that they didn't choose my apartment to place Scruffy?"
"Well, they probably thought that my apartment would accommodate him better than a woman's apartment."
"That is true. He would have no use for makeup or a flatiron."
Among other feminine items, Edgeworth thought, though he knew better than to mention them. He turned his head, hoping to change the subject, only to find himself scoping out the rest of the room. The walls were covered in a dull coat of paint, but they did nothing to hide the damage caused by years of earthquakes and minimal repairs. Drywall was exposed in several places, and even part of a wood stud was showing through the cracks.
A shrill cry grabbed his attention, causing him to look toward the kitchen area. Franziska was over there, red-faced and holding up a cell phone that was dripping some kind of fluid. "What happened?"
"Such filth!" Franziska declared angrily. "I try to set my work files on the counter, and my phone falls into this—this—styrofoam feedbag!"
Edgeworth saw the stack of notebooks and manila folders Franziska had set down, and next to them, directly below the wet cell phone, was a white styrofoam cup with a pair of used chopsticks resting beside it. So she equates Detective Gumshoe's eating habits with those of a horse...ironic coming from the mouth of the wild mare herself. He started to smile at that, but as he focused more on the styrofoam cup, something played out in his memory—a conversation which took place between him and Gumshoe only yesterday morning.
"...and my alarm clock hasn't been working right, and—come on, Mr. Edgeworth, what's the rush? It's not like the judge is coming until after ten."
"You were supposed to be here at seven o'clock, Detective! It is already seven-thirty! This is an important conference, and it is imperative that we are fully prepared!"
"But...sir...I just started breakfast. Seriously, can't it wait a few more minutes? This is the first time in three weeks I could afford noodles that weren't off-brand, and-"
"No excuses, Detective! If you truly think you're entitled to leisure during work hours, then I'll be glad to bring it up...at your next salary review!"
Recalling the conversation now, Edgeworth was almost horrified. Whether it was because he was remembering it, or because being in the run-down apartment he could virtually see the conversation happening from Gumshoe's point of view, he did not know.
He truly was in the middle of breakfast when I called him, Edgeworth thought. And from the looks of it, he really was eating name brand instant ramen. It was pitiful enough that Gumshoe could only afford instant noodles for breakfast, but even more so that he considered the name brand version a luxury. And the fact that he was prevented from consuming what he could afford made it even worse. But despite this, Edgeworth could not feel pity for the man. No...a different feeling arose in the pit of his stomach. Was it anger at Gumshoe's living conditions, or genuine sadness for the detective himself?
Or...was it guilt for living a life of luxury when other men could only afford to live in substandard housing? I wonder...what was the judge's reason for ordering us to spend the night here? The more he thought about it, the more he longed to be in the comfort of his own apartment.
But as much as Edgeworth wanted to leave, he would not be able to. The device wrapped around his ankle reminded him of that. If I so much as step out of the vicinity of Compton Castles, the Chief of Police will know, and by tomorrow, my own salary will be under review, and I'll likely be thrown in jail. But compared with this place, I can honestly say jail isn't much worse. Franziska had a tracking device as well, and had spoke of forcefully removing it. Of course, both knew she would never seriously go through with it—any signs of tampering would automatically be reported to the police as well.
"So slovenly," Franziska grumbled, finally setting her phone down on some loose napkins. "Why does he leave his half-eaten meal on the countertop? Such a disgusting habit." She took the cup of ramen and walked around to the other side of the counter where the kitchen sink was, and dumped the contents directly down the drain. She then turned on the faucet to rinse out the cup, only to encounter something unexpected.
"Urrgh!" she cried out, immediately backing away and putting her free hand over her nose. "What is that ungodly smell? Did Scruffy's facilities break down as well?" She reached forward and shut off the faucet.
It was a rather foul, sulfuric smell, and even Edgeworth could tell from his position of several feet away. "Hydrogen sulfide gas. It could be the pipes, or the water heater. They're as old as this apartment complex, and haven't been disinfected properly. But if I recall, Detective Gumshoe mentioned that the smell goes away if you run the water for a while."
"It had better." Franziska braved the odoriferous faucet again and allowed the water to run. She then flipped the switch on the wall, sighing at the sound of the garbage disposal. "Well, at least that works," she said, shutting off both the water and appliance. "Now, where is the wastebasket?"
"It's beside the counter, over at the end there," Edgeworth replied, giving a nod in that direction.
The young woman cringed as she approached the plastic bin, which had no lining in it.
"What now?" Edgeworth asked her.
"A dead mouse," she replied, pointing downward to an area Edgeworth presumed was next to the wastebasket; it was hidden from his view. "Fortunately, the detective can afford mouse traps, it seems. Hopefully, we won't have to use any more tonight." She tossed the cup into the dirty wastebasket. "That little bucket of slop reminds me that it is close to suppertime. Miles! Go see if there is anything edible in the cupboards."
Is she seriously ordering me around? "...Franziska, considering the quality of the meal you found on the counter, do you honestly believe there will be anything remotely edible in this place? No. We order out tonight."
"A splendid idea. I haven't been to Il Tartufo Bianco in ages. It will be good to have wine-braised duck again."
"Then I suggest making reservations for tomorrow," Edgeworth told her, "because there's no way a five-star restaurant is going to come all the way down here to deliver in the middle of the ghetto. I highly doubt we could get any of our friends to do it, either. Thankfully, Detective Gumshoe mentioned some pizza places and Chinese restaurants in a strip mall not far from here. I suggest we try one of those."
"I don't care what you're thinking, Franziska," Edgeworth said sternly as he watched the young woman's hand travel to her whip. "Besides, even though it doesn't compare to fine dining, anything we order will still be worlds above anything Detective Gumshoe has in his cupboards."
"Hmph. Very well." Franziska's hand dropped to her side, and she went over to where her suitcase was. "While you are placing the order, I will go freshen up. Against my better judgment, I shall see if Scruffy's shower is functioning at the moment."
"...so thirty minutes. I see. Thank you." Edgeworth lowered the phone and pressed the 'end' button. Seventeen dollars for chicken fried rice, two wonton soups, a steamed mixed vegetable medley, and a lobster dish. I'd forgotten what it was like to have an inexpensive dinner. Not that Edgeworth was particularly concerned with the price. Hopefully Franziska won't throw such a fit that half of this dinner ends up on my jacket.
The sun was setting, Edgeworth noticed. Perhaps it is time to make those preparations. Even though the apartment's lights were indeed working, Edgeworth had heard enough of Gumshoe's stories to know that candles would be an eventual necessity. He started to search through the cabinets and kitchen drawers, finding one strange thing after another.
In the drawers at the end of the counter, there were some old, stained rags and a tool kit whose contents were somewhat rusted. In one of the drawers was an empty box of industrial trash can liners. Which sound suspiciously like the liners they use at the police station. Detective, have you truly tightened your purse strings that much? Edgeworth continued moving to the left, opening a cabinet door. Inside were some mouse droppings, as well as the carcass of a small cockroach. Nothing to see here. He then opened the doors directly below the sink. In there were several cans of bug spray, a hexagonal wrench, some dishwashing liquid, what looked like a broken piece of a broomstick. There was also another roach carcass, this time much bigger in size. Edgeworth reached forward and picked up two of the cans of bug spray, finding them quite full, to his relief. Well, at least Detective Gumshoe has prepared us for that much. He set the cans down and closed the cabinets, intending to go to the last one on the left. To his surprise, the door fell off its hinges upon opening, revealing empty space inside. Edgeworth shook his head and put the flaking piece of particle board aside, setting his sights upward.
The first cabinet section overhead contained only one thing-a giant bulk package of name brand ramen, freshly opened. Yes, well...moving along. The second cabinet, oddly, was full of items... all from the Magic Penny discount store. There were five boxes of Magic Cheesy Mac, three boxes of Scalloped Potato Magic, and various boxes of Magic Bran cereal and Magic Oats Oatmeal Variety Pack. There was even a box of something called Magic Milk, which Edgeworth guessed to be envelopes of powdered milk. I truly pity him if he has to mix it using that foul water.
Edgeworth moved on to the next cabinet overhead, discovering a decent collection of cheap candles, most of which had shown signs of use. There were also matchbooks from restaurants, or rather, restaurant—as shown by the words Très Bien, which were printed all over the books. Edgeworth took three candles and a matchbook, carrying them over to the counter. Of course, it was at that point he remembered having actually packed a portable lamp. Still, it is not a bad thing to be prepared for anything.
There was a creaking of a door, and then Franziska entered the room with a groan of disgust. She was wearing a long-sleeved buttoned pajama top made of light blue silk, and matching pants. The rubber soles of her cotton slippers squeaked lightly as she approached Edgeworth. "It is a good thing I packed much more than just my toiletries," she said, rubbing her wet hair with a luxurious towel. Edgeworth guessed the item had come from her own apartment. "I don't know what I would have done if I had to wash my hair with something called Magic 'Poo. Tell me, what company even gives that name to a shampoo?"
"One with a bizarre sense of humor, I suppose."
"Yes, well...almost everything in that bathroom is from that Magic Penny store by the precinct. It is a bathroom unfit for a human! And did you know that Scruffy uses the same bathroom tissue as the police station? I can imagine that fool picking up some of their habits, but honestly! There is no excuse for buying such cheap tissue!"
It looks like she hasn't caught on to the fact that Detective Gumshoe is too cheap to buy toilet paper at all, Edgeworth thought. Something tells me it is better to not mention this at all, or else she'll have another reason to cut his salary. "...Franziska, considering how low the man's paycheck is, it's a wonder he can afford anything at the Magic Penny at all. However, I must concur that there is no excuse for what Detective Gumshoe keeps beside his toilet." If for a much different reason.
"Hmph." Franziska lowered her towel and stepped over to her suitcase. "Well, it does not matter, anyway. So, how soon will this restaurant deliver our supper?"
"It should be about ten minutes, according to the microwave clock."
A pungent mix of garlic, oyster sauce, fresh meat and seafood permeated the studio apartment less than half an hour later. Several Chinese to-go containers lay open on a makeshift dining table, constructed from an upside-down shipping box and the broken kitchen cabinet door. Edgeworth and Franziska sat at opposite ends on the floor, on top of extra towels Edgeworth had packed.
"Well," Franziska said, plucking a snow pea pod from her plate with her chopsticks. "I suppose this meal is...adequate...for the economically disadvantaged." She had barely finished the sentence before depositing the legume in her mouth, and then gobbled up a glistening ear of baby corn, some cabbage, a mushroom, a piece of lobster, and a bunch of julienned carrots, one right after another.
Edgeworth had to smirk at seeing the young woman practically stuff her face. You're fooling no one, Franziska. Just admit you're enjoying the meal.
"And it is surprising the lobster even tastes as well as it does."
"Yes...this is one of those restaurants that gets their seafood from local fishermen. The quality of their prepared food has been often praised, and as a business, they are doing quite well."
"Hmph. If they are doing half as well as you claim they are, they would have moved away from this area long ago."
Edgeworth lowered his chopsticks with a sigh. "Franziska, believe it or not, some people stay where they are because of the clientele. And if I recall, this particular restaurant has customers all over the city. Considering the delivery service, a physical move may be pointless."
"Miles, if I may be frank...I don't really care," Franziska said through a mouthful of fried rice. "But...you say they provide customer service all over? Hmm. That will be a good piece of information to pass along...at the station...er, prosecutors' office...should we ever get stuck in a meeting after six o'clock...and...if for some unusual reason, nothing decent is open at that time."
Again, you're fooling no one, Franziska. "Well, I think I've had enough," Edgeworth said. "Are you finished with these containers? I'll put them in the refrigerator."
"Leave the foil pan with the lobster in it," she responded. "I'm...still deciding if I want more of that or not."
"All right." Edgeworth closed all of the paper to-go boxes, with the exception of the white rice, which he carefully emptied into the foil pan that contained the leftover mixed vegetables. He then fastened the plastic lid on top of the pan, and carried the items, two by two, to the refrigerator.
"Miles! Enough of that, already."
The scolding seemed to come out of nowhere, pulling Edgeworth out of the novel he was reading, disappointing him on more than one level. He had just gotten comfortable in both the story and the old couch he was sitting in. However, he knew that simply ignoring the woman wouldn't do him much good. In that apartment, her whip was never more than a few feet away. "Is something wrong, Franziska?"
Franziska scoffed at his response. She sat comfortably on top of his inflatable mattress with a book of her own, a portable lamp on the floor beside her. "'Is something wrong?'" she repeated mockingly. "Apparently, there is also something wrong with your hearing. That is the third time I have asked you to stop making that noise."
"That odd scratching noise! You-" She stopped as the very thing she had described made itself known. "There! There it is again! Must you keep at that?"
Edgeworth uttered a sigh, holding his hands up for her to see. "That isn't me, Franziska."
"Do you deny it? It certainly isn't me."
"It isn't either one of us. That sound is coming from the wall."
"Th...the wall?" Franziska said, looking uneasy. "Why...would it come from the wall?"
"Remember that dead mouse you found earlier? It probably has a companion living in the wall. That is likely the source of the scratching noise."
Franziska was horrified by these words. "Wh-what?" she exclaimed, dropping her book. "Are you serious? What are you doing, you fool? Set a trap, set a trap!"
"Franziska, relax!" Edgeworth said firmly. "The mouse is not going to hurt you. And besides, I looked earlier. That was the last mouse trap."
"Urrrgghhh." The young woman shivered, pulling back the sheets that dressed the mattress. "I don't know about this apartment. I can't believe there are mice living here..."
Among other types of vermin, Edgeworth thought. It might be best not to mention that, or she'll be wound up for the rest of the night. "Well, unfortunately, that's how it is in many lower income apartment complexes. The conditions quickly deteriorate, and no one has the money for repairs or even the proper maintenance."
"I still can't believe the chief is forcing us to sleep here. I don't understand it. Who could stand living here?"
A man who is consistently happy with what little he has, even when the higher-ups continue taking just a little bit more from him, Edgeworth thought. I think I understand now, Chief. I understand why you and the judge thought it crucial for both Franziska and me to spend one night here. The sacrifices the detective makes, his thirst for work regardless of how bad the situation gets...and his gratitude for every scrap he gets. Though we consider ourselves hardworking as well, it is far too easy to be short-tempered with some detective when he doesn't produce the results we desire, while conveniently overlooking all the things he ever did right.
I think it is time I had a long talk with Detective Gumshoe. It wasn't a conversation Edgeworth particularly looked forward to, but perhaps there was something he could do, or suggest, to help the man at least avoid a salary cut.
"On the bright side, Franziska," Edgeworth said, "we will only have to be here until the morning. Detective Gumshoe deals with these conditions every day and every night."
That seemed to calm her down somewhat. "Y-yes...when you put it that way, it is not...so bad..." She started to yawn, and then checked her watch. "Oh! It is eleven-thirty already. Shall we get ready for bed?"
Edgeworth could have stayed up reading for at least another hour, but then, he didn't want to sleep late and end up spending more time in the apartment than he needed to. "All right." He arose from the chair and walked over to the light switch, dropping his novel on top of his suitcase along the way. As he turned around, he saw Franziska settling into her half of the mattress. Edgeworth walked around and slid into the sheets on his half while Franziska turned off her lamp. The room was dark at first, but soon the moonlight from the outside crept inside. The scratching noise in the wall persisted, but Edgeworth ignored it, hoping Franziska was doing the same.
It wasn't until the lights were out that Edgeworth realized just how tired he really was. In addition to the scratching, he could hear, very lightly, a conversation going on in the next apartment. It was an almost lulling sound. Edgeworth lay back, welcoming the drowsy feeling now enveloping him. Before he shut his eyes, however, he swore he saw, just behind the translucent curtain, a tiny shadow zipping across the window.
No... he thought. It couldn't be...
Edgeworth's next thought arrived some time later, not entirely by his own will. Franziska was shaking him on the shoulder and whispering his name over and over.
"Nnnghhh...what is it, Franziska?"
"Miles...! Miles, there is something in this apartment..."
There was the unmistakable sound of a plastic bag rustling, followed by a dull buzz, then something resembling the bending of fragile plastic.
Alarmed, Edgeworth moved to a sitting position. "Franziska...did you put away the food you were eating?"
"Ah...um...I do not recall. Why? What is wrong?"
Damn it. "It seems we have one more dinner guest," he told her.
"Wh-what do you mean?" the young woman demanded.
As if in response to her question, the buzzing continued, and then, a small, dark object crossed their field of vision and headed straight for the window.
"Aaahhhh!" Franziska screamed, instinctively grabbing Edgeworth's arm and cowering. "Wh-what is that?"
"A flying cockroach, most likely. It seems it was after the food you left out."
"A flying what? It can fly? I-I demand you get rid of it at once!"
"Calm down, Franziska!" Edgeworth commanded over the young woman's shrill cries. "Considering the size of that insect, it probably came from outside. By itself. Not to worry, Detective Gumshoe keeps insecticide beneath the kitchen sink. I will go fetch some. Stay right here." He started to get up when Franziska stopped him.
"Miles, wait," she said, gripping his shoulder. "That wall over there...it wasn't moving earlier, was it?"
"What?" Edgeworth turned to look in the direction he thought Franziska was pointing, but it was easy enough to see. There was a space on the wall, just barely visible thanks to the moonlight passing through the window opposite said wall. And as Franziska said, it did appear to be moving. But Edgeworth knew better than to be content with what seemed like nothing more than an innocent optical illusion. After all, it is not the wall that is in motion, but rather, that which is crawling across the wall at this very moment.
"That is strange. Am I seeing things?" Franziska finally released Edgeworth, turning to the lamp by her side. "Oh, you were going to get the insecticide, yes?"
Edgeworth's eyes widened when he realized what she was about to do. "No, Franziska, wait!" he cried out, trying to grab her by the arm, but alas, it was too late.
"What, Miles?" Franziska asked impatiently, pulling her arm back. "What is the matter with y—" She stopped mid-sentence, her eyes finally turning to the horror right in front of her. "Ah...aaaa..."
Dozens upon dozens of dark, oval-shaped things skittered across the walls in various directions, none with yet a particular destination in mind. They were only half the size of the behemoth that had flown to the window earlier, but they were enough to cause great dread. Several reached the countertop, while others traversed the wood floors. But many had gathered around the cockroach Eden on the makeshift dining table, a lobster dish tray that was just as open as it had been hours earlier.
Franziska continued squealing in terror as she looked around the room, at the countless number of bugs surrounding her and Edgeworth. Even the ceiling bore several roaches, no doubt seeking a source of food. "Oh God, oh God..." Tears formed in her eyes as she brought her hand to her mouth.
The reality of Detective Gumshoe's living conditions must be sinking in, Edgeworth thought. But Franziska has made it much worse by not cleaning up after her meal. I do not know where to even begin approaching this insurmountable pest problem...
The light from the lamp began to flicker. Franziska turned with a gasp. "Oh no, not now..." She started to reach out for the lamp, but stopped, realizing that the bulb itself was not flickering at all. Two or three cockroaches had climbed their way up the lamp, occasionally obstructing the path of light. Franziska, still whimpering, shrunk away until her back was pushed up against Edgeworth.
"Franziska, please remain calm...!" Edgeworth told her, but it was futile. She was frightened beyond rational thought, and Edgeworth himself was starting to feel squeamish.
But alas, it would only get worse. In the following moments, the two finally took notice that their last line of defense had been broken. Little brown roaches had made their way on top of the blanket, some of which even appeared to be staring up at Franziska, wiggling their antennae as if to taunt her. The young woman lost it then, letting loose a loud shriek that probably awakened half the apartment complex.
Edgeworth cried out as he was then forcefully shoved off of the mattress. He picked himself off the floor as he heard Franziska wildly screaming and shaking the blanket free of insects. Enough. There is no avoiding it. It may not be enough to get rid of all of them, but I must get to that bug spray. Edgeworth headed toward the kitchen area, inadvertently crunching a couple of the cockroaches beneath his bare feet as he walked. Cringing, he paused briefly to look down, and noticed one roach crawling up the sleeve of his pajama top. "Nnngggooooohhh...!" He slapped it off promptly, and then, clenching his fists with resolve, made a beeline for the kitchen sink. Opening the cabinet doors, he snatched up as many cans as he could, and quickly returned to a chaotic scene filled with the sight of an impossible infestation, and the sound of Franziska's hysterical sobbing.
"...Yeah. Uh-huh. I'm only halfway done, but it's not like I have much to pack, anyway."
Detective Dick Gumshoe adjusted the cell phone pressed between his ear and shoulder, then picked up a sealed styrofoam cup. He then tore open the lid, setting the cup down on the kitchen countertop. "Mm-hmm. Well, I won't be moving too far, but my new apartment is better maintained, and there's even security. And to top it off, it's closer to you, Maggey! The only downside is that it costs almost twice as much as what I pay at Compton Castles, but with that thirty thousand dollar salary increase, it's no problem. Oh! Plus, Mr. Edgeworth offered to pay the security deposit and the first six months of rent! Can you believe it? I told him, 'You're a real pal, pal!'"
Gumshoe moved out of the kitchen area, weaving between a scattered luggage set and multiple open shipping boxes, all of which filled the small apartment space. "I never even dreamed so much would happen from that experiment the judge made us do! You know the one I told you about, where Mr. Edgeworth and Ms. von Karma traded places with me for the night. One thing I will miss is living like Mr. Edgeworth. Have you seen his apartment? Man, that place is posh!" He reached down to pick up a shirt which had fallen on the floor, and then tossed it into an open suitcase.
"But like I was saying, I think it was a good experiment. And Mr. Edgeworth and Ms. von Karma, they have such big hearts, those two. They were supposed to spend the whole night here, but they decided they couldn't wait until the morning to tell the judge how much of a raise I deserved. Yeah, I know! Well, actually, I'm told they said it more like, 'no person deserves a salary that holds them in this slum.' But I still think it was sweet of them to think of me like that. Not to mention, they had a bug guy clean out this place, free of charge. Which is kind of weird. I mean, I've had bugs, but I never had the infestation problem they were talking about. I wonder what happened when they were here?"
A steady whistling noise brought Gumshoe's attention back to the kitchen. He went over to the stove and picked up the tea kettle, waiting a moment before pouring the water into the open styrofoam cup. He then turned off the stove and set the kettle on the backburner. "...You think so? I guess it's possible. They did leave some Chinese take-out in the fridge. But enough of that. I'm living the high life now! Just think, Maggey. No more off-brand anything! I can afford to come to Très Bien three times a week! Not that I already don't, but now I'll actually be able to afford it, heh heh. I won't have to borrow trash bags or toilet paper from the police station when I'm running low. I can finally replace my hunk of junk car! I'll be able to take you someplace nice for once. Maybe we could go to that Eel Tartar Bongo place that Ms. von Karma is always talking about." Gumshoe brought his gaze over to the flower arrangement that was sitting on the far end of the counter.
"Oh, and speaking of Ms. von Karma, did you know she sent me flowers? Yeah, they're nice, actually. I think the flower delivery guy said they were orange blossoms and mums and...some other flower? Well, the card said something like 'best of luck' so I guess the flowers represent that or something. It was real nice of her. Uh-huh. Oh. Your break is over. Yeah, sorry, didn't mean to hold you up. I'll see you tonight, okay, Maggey? Thanks for checking up on me. All right. Bye."
The scruffy-faced police detective set down his phone with a contented sigh. He stood there for some time, reflecting on the events of the past two days. It was then he remembered the cup of noodles that had been stewing in scalding hot water. Gumshoe picked up the set of chopsticks he had set aside and broke them apart, setting them in his grip. He dipped them into the cup, giving the soup a stir before pulling out a heap of curled noodles. He had left them in there too long, he could see. Some of the noodles broke apart, and even the ones that remained were slowly disintegrating. Such a thing did not bother him in the least; he slurped up the noodles as he always had.
The hot meal burned his mouth, the broth was far too salty, and the noodles fell apart before he could even chew them, but the only thing Gumshoe experienced was the sweet taste of good fortune.
Author's note: Did you like that little Joe's Apartment redux there? Apologies if I made anyone toss their cookies. Hope you enjoyed.