A short story about a lost pet.
|Flame, No Flame
Lynn, the librarian was beside herself. Her pet Ferret, Lady Flaming Hair, was missing. Usually her pet was found in its small cage in the children’s section where she entertained the children. It was on a late Tuesday night that Lynn discovered her loss. Usually when she “closed down” the basement floor she would put “Flame” as she called her on a small leash. However, this evening Flame was not in her cage. The cage door was ajar. Lynn assumed that one of the children had let Flame loose to play.
Lynn did a quick search of the basement and the main floor of the Library. She could not find Flame. Lynn figured she could do a complete search the next day. She left the cage door open, and refilled the water and food containers in the cage. The library was locked up and Lynn left for the night. The next day, after Lynn and the other librarians conducted a thorough search for Flame, a detective named George was hired to look for the missing pet. George interviewed all the library staff and a few of the regular patrons from the previous day. George also did a careful search of the library and nearby property. Nobody had seen Flame since around lunchtime the previous day.
The next night, one of the regular visitors to the library, Huckleberry, went out fishing. He was fishing on a small lake near the library. Around 7:15 PM the upstairs light in the office came on. Huckleberry noticed the light blinking on as he was making a cast. It cast a shimmering light on the lake. The light was out about 7:50 PM, when he looked that way again. Huckleberry told Lynn the next day. Lynn asked the staff at the library, but no one had been in the library on that evening. The library was closed. Lynn checked Flame’s cage. The food was there, but the water was gone. Lynn thought that maybe the neighbor’s cat had been drinking the water. She had seen the cat that morning in the library. The cat must not have eaten the ferret food because it was known to be a very finicky eater.
For the next two days the pattern repeated. The water was gone, but the food was still there. Lynn was getting very sad. She thought about getting a tame wolf as she liked unusual pets. One of the library board members raised domiciled wolfs as a hobby. Another interesting occurrence was that one of the next door neighbors to the library reported seeing the lights on for about 25 minutes on a different night than Huckleberry had reported. The next day at lunchtime Lynn was driving to lunch with Andrew the head librarian. Andrew asked Lynn if she had borrowed any of his Oreo cookies that he kept in the office. Lynn replied that she had never taken any Oreos. Andrew said he thought that maybe six to eight cookies were missing, but he wasn’t positive. Lynn and Andrew discussed the pros and cons of wolf ownership. Lynn was a bit concerned about the cost of food. Flame had been very easy to feed and take care of.
That afternoon, Lynn had to replace the water in Flame’s cage again. She had not seen the neighbor’s cat in that day. One of the patrons told Andrew they were surprised to see the lights on when they returned home in the evening the night before. They thought it was the office light. Andrew called in the local electrician to check the circuit breaker and light switches, but everything seemed to be in order. As Andrew chomped on an Oreo it seemed that he might have been missing a few more of them. Andrew was wondering if the library had been invaded by a ghost. It wouldn't help the library's reputation to be known as a haunted library he mused to himself.
Lynn came to work the next day with her best friend’s dog Bowser. She thought Bowser might be able to discover if Flame had a hiding place in the library. Lynn gave Bowser a piece of bedding from Flame’s bed at their home. Bowser seemed to get excited in the library but basically ran around from the cage to the office and back. Bowser was barking at everything! This provided a bit of commotion in the library and Bowser was sent home. Andrew told Lynn to stay after work. He said he would be right back and hurried home. In a few minutes he returned with his Irish setter named Prince. Prince covered the same route as Bowser had. However there was one difference. Prince went to a spot near the wall and pointed to a spot about four feet off the floor near an end stack. It took a bit of moving books around to find a small niche in the wall where Flame had built a small nest for her 7 babies. This niche also contained an old light switch for the office that had been covered by the stacks. The switch was positioned such that Flame would switch it as she passed in front of it in both directions. Flame was contentedly chewing on an Oreo cookie.