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August 15, 2022

Mystery

By Mel Trent

Once upon a time, a terrible thing happened. Everyone went to bed in the dark of night. Well, not everyone. Owl, being nocturnal, didn't get up until it was dark. But when everyone else was getting up and Owl should have been going to bed, it was still dark.

Grandmother Mouse tried to lift the sun up, but it wouldn't come. "Something is just not right," she said to herself. "I wonder where Raven is." She shuffled off towards the Jubilee, where she hoped to find Raven because, of course, something like this had to be his fault.

She found herself not alone when she got there. Badger, Frog, Moose, Bear, Crow, Bull, Sparrow, Owl and everyone else had gone down to the Jubilee as well.

"Well, then," Grandmother Mouse said. "Where is he?"

There was a general murmuring among the crowd.

"I kicked him and Crow out late as usual," Badger said.

Crow rubbed his head and tried to remember what they did after Badger kicked them out of the bar. "Um," he said. "I went home after that. I don't know what Raven did."

Sparrow blushed. She tried to hide it, but it was no use. She was relieved when no one asked any questions. "I think I saw him go down to the sea," she said.

"Oh no!" Chicken shouted. "What if he got washed away and Creator is sad and that's why it's still dark?"

For a moment, everyone was silent. It sounded like a good explanation.

"It's just Raven," Bull said. "Who would miss him anyway?"

Sparrow shook her head. "He didn't get washed away," she said. "I'll go get him."

Sparrow took off towards the beach and found Raven sprawled out on his back on the floor of a little cave in a high cliff that loomed over the shore. She watched him for a moment. He was so beautiful when he was sleeping. She sighed, and then she nudged him with her toes.

That didn't wake him up, of course. Raven could sleep through anything. Sparrow kicked him a little harder. "Raven, wake up," she said.

She had to do that a few times before she got any results.

"Do I have to get up?" Raven asked. "It's still dark."

"Yes, you have to get up. It's not supposed to be dark, and everyone thinks it's your fault that it is."

"My fault? How could it be my fault?"

"It couldn't be."

"Did you tell them that?"

"No."

"Why not?"

Sparrow gave him a look.

"Oh. Right."

"We better get back now."

"I kinda like it being dark. I can sleep all the time now."

"Well, you can't sleep. We need to figure out what's going on."

"We? You mean I have to do something?"

"Or else they'll think this is your fault."

"Why's it always my fault?"

"Because it usually is."

"Oh. Right."

Blinking and rubbing his eyes and complaining about having to get up so early in the morning that it was still dark, Raven followed Sparrow back to the Jubilee. He was rather surprised by the crowd that had gathered there and wondered what was going on. He hadn't asked any questions on the way there, and Sparrow hadn't offered any information.

"What's going on?" he asked. He started to back towards the door just in case.

Bull stepped in front of the door and shook his head.

"What have you done with it?" Owl asked.

"With what?" "Stop fooling around and put it back," Crow said. "I mean, it's funny, sure, but we kinda need the sun."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Raven, please," Grandmother Mouse said. "We appreciate the trick. Put the sun back in the sky."

Raven blinked at Grandmother Mouse and said nothing. Somehow what she was saying wasn't sinking in. "Put the sun back?" he asked.

Badger slapped Raven on the back of the head. Not hard, just hard enough to get Raven's attention. "Stop acting innocent," Badger said. "The sun hasn't come up. There isn't anyone else who would or could do something like this. Put it back."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Raven said. "I didn't steal the sun. What would I do with it?"

"Sleep all day," Moose suggested.

"Well ... I didn't say it wouldn't be a useful thing to do. But I didn't do it. It was dark when I left the Jubilee last night. Hey. Wait a minute. How do I know you aren't trying to play a trick on me? It's still night time, isn't it? Ha! You can't fool me. The sun'll come up just like it always does. I'm going back to sleep."

Bull didn't move from his post in front of the door, and everyone else closed in just enough so that Raven really had nowhere to go unless he wanted to start a fight. Raven wasn't a violent bird by any means, but he didn't like being accused of something he didn't do. He liked being threatened even less than that. He curled his wings into fists and tried to look fierce. It didn't work.

Frog inched a little too close, his sticky tongue poking through his thin lips, ready to attack.

Sparrow stepped in and pushed Frog back. "Stop it," she said. "The sun is gone, but Raven didn't do it."

"How do you know?" Frog asked.

Sparrow blushed. "He was with me all night. I met him on the road just when he left here last night. We were together all night, and he was asleep when I left this morning. Well, it would have been morning if the sun wasn't missing."

The Jubilee was silent then. Sparrow waited for everyone to grasp the full meaning of what she was confessing, but no one did. She wasn't even sure that Raven did. Raven put his hands on her shoulders and cowered behind her. "Don't use me as a shield," she snapped.

"Oh. Sorry," he said.

Fortunately for them, everyone was more concerned about the missing sun than whatever might have been going on between Raven and Sparrow.

"Well, then, if Raven didn't steal the sun, who did?" Grandmother Mouse asked.

"And how do we get it back?" Blue Jay asked.

They were all quiet again, thinking about it. It wasn't every day that the sun was stolen from the sky, so they didn't really know how to go about finding out who took it or how to put it back.

"It seems to me," Owl said, "that only a trick could have gotten the sun out of the sky. So only a trick is going to get it back." He glared at Raven, his large yellow eyes hard and luminous. It was the same glare he gave to the tiny critters he ate just before he ate them.

Raven shrank behind Sparrow. It seemed to him that even if everyone believed that he had nothing to do with the sun's disappearance, they were going to blame him. Even if he found the sun and put it back, they would blame him. It was without a doubt the worst trick he had never pulled. He was starting to wish he had done it.

"Okay, fine," Raven said, stepping out from behind Sparrow. "I'll find the sun, and I'll put it back. Just so I can prove to you assholes that I didn't do it."

"That's not a very positive attitude, Raven," Grandmother Mouse said.

Raven shrugged.

Bull pushed the door open, and everyone spilled out onto the road.

Suddenly, Nightingale shrieked. She pointed up at the sky. "Look!" she said.

Everyone looked up.

"I don't see anything," Crow said.

"Me either," said Raven.

"Exactly! The moon's gone, too!" said Nightingale.

There was a very long pause, and then Raven said, "Shit."

* * *

These were the facts of the case. The sun was gone, and it looked as if the moon had run off with it. They vanished long after everyone had gone to bed, except for Owl. When everyone else woke up, it was still dark. Grandmother Mouse had done her usual stretching and coaxing but to no avail. Raven sat at the bar in the Jubilee, pondering these very strange facts and wondering what to do.

"You need to look for clues," Crow said.

"And question suspects," Mocking Bird said.

"I think the only suspect right now is me," Raven said.

"Well, question yourself. When was the last time you saw the sun?"

"Yesterday when it went down. A lot of people saw it."

"How 'bout the moon?"

Raven shrugged. "I don't know. I wasn't paying attention."

"And what did you do after that?"

"Why the hell are you asking me? I didn't do it."

"I'm just trying to help you by giving you an example of how to question a suspect. Honestly, I don't think you should be a suspect. Once you're asleep, you don't tend to wake up just to play tricks like this. Besides, I think Sparrow's a trustworthy bird. She gives you a pretty good alibi. Although, I wonder ..."

"What?"

Mocking Bird shook his head. "Nothing. It couldn't be that."

"But no one can be a suspect because everyone was asleep when it all happened."

"Except for Owl," Badger said.

"That's right! Thanks, Badger. I'll go question him right now."

Raven hopped off his stool and darted out the door towards Owl's place.

"I think I better go with him," Crow said, and he followed Raven.

Raven pounded on the door of Owl's place until Owl yanked open the door and glared down at him.

"Um ... hi, Owl. I, uh, think I need to ask you a few questions," Raven said.

Slowly, Owl folded his wings across his chest and tilted his head down even further. He was certain that he could, if he really wanted to, snatch Raven up and eat him before anyone could stop him. The only reason he didn't was that ... well, it wasn't that everyone liked Raven. No one really liked Raven. But all the same, it would be hard to imagine life without the annoying trickster.

Raven didn't flinch under Owl's admittedly terrifying gaze. If he was going to find anything out, he had to stand up to everyone. "You were the only one awake when the sun and moon were stolen," he said. "Did you see anything?"

"What exactly would I do with a stolen sun and moon?"

"I dunno. Play with them? They're very round and probably bounce well. You could make up all kinds of cool games. Ooh, I know! You could make up basketball. Put a little bucket or something up on a tree and try to throw the ball into it. You get points for each one you make, and then --"

Crow arrived just then and hearing Raven's game, cleared his throat.

Raven looked at him. "What?"

"That's not how you question a suspect," Crow said.

"How the hell does everyone know how to question a suspect but me? That's not fair."

"So, let me see if I understand correctly the reason for your visit," Owl said. "Because I'm nocturnal, you assume that I was awake when the theft occurred."

"Well, were you?"

"Yes, quite probably I was, as I am nocturnal, and that would be my nature."

"So ..."

"However, after eating, I spent my night here reading."

"Do you have a ... what's that thing Mocking Bird said I had?"

"An alibi," Crow said.

"Yeah, that."

"No," Owl said. "I was alone. However, you are more than welcome to search my home if you believe I have the sun and moon hidden somewhere. And remember, I'm not the only nocturnal creature that Creator has made. Perhaps you should be talking to Raccoon. He has a reputation of having rather sticky paws."

"Oh. Right. Hadn't thought of that. We'll have a look around anyway. Just to be sure. Come on, Crow."

Crow didn't think it was necessarily a good idea, but he thought it was a worse idea to let Raven go into Owl's place alone. He followed Raven inside, and they both jumped when Owl slammed the door behind them.

Slowly, Owl grinned at them.

"That'd be creepy if he had teeth," Raven said.

"It's creepy anyway," Crow said. "Let's make this quick, and then we'll go talk to Raccoon."

"Okay."

Crow turned in a circle where he was, looking at the walls and shelves and the ceiling. He didn't see the sun and moon. "He doesn't have them. Let's get out of here."

"That wasn't very thorough."

So Crow did the same thing, a little slower, while Raven started to poke his beak into every nook and cranny he could find.

Raven found a lot of neat things in Owl's place, but in one particular nook, he found a large round object on a wooden stand. The ball shaped thing was blue with large patches of brown and green and some white, and it spun on its base when he pushed it. "Hey, Crow, check this out," he said.

Crow went over to take a look. "What is it?" he asked.

"I don't know. Watch this." Raven gave the blue ball a push, and it rolled around. "Isn't that neat?"

"Wow. Do it again."

Raven pushed on the ball again as hard as he could, and it spun around and around, blurring all the colors together.

"That's really cool. Where can I get one?"

"Well, there's this one, of course," Owl said, stalking silently and slowly up behind the two birds. "But it was a lot of hard work to get that. I'm afraid that I can't let you have it, and as far as I know, there isn't anything else like it in all of Creation. At least not yet."

"What's it called?" Raven asked.

"It's called a globe."

With that, Owl reached out to snatch the two of them, but Raven just barely slipped out of his grasp. He had a good hold on Crow, but Crow flapped and squawked and kicked. It was hard to hang onto food that didn't want to be food.

Raven was halfway to the door when he realized that Owl had Crow. He zipped back to the corner and pecked Owl on the head until Owl let go of Crow. Crow and Raven flew out of Owl's place as quickly as they could and kept going until they were as far away as they could get. Owl wouldn't come after them. It wouldn't look right. They rested on the riverbank.

"That wasn't cool," Crow said.

"No, it really wasn't," Raven said.

"I don't think Owl did it."

"No, he really didn't."

"I can't believe he was gonna eat us."

"He's just cranky because he should be asleep right now, and he's not because there's no sun."

"So now what?"

"I guess we'll go talk to Raccoon."

To be continued ...

Article © Mel Trent. All rights reserved.
Published on 2008-04-28
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