It is a very hot summer day, and Kickaha the foxyote feels ready to melt. Hopefully his good friend Calex will have some idea on how they can beat the heat.
“Every season comes with its own host of threats but there may be none more terrifying, more dire than the that season known as summer.”
“Ah come on Kickaha! Summer isn’t that bad! Winter’s the month you really have to worry about.”
“Oh Calex…” The foxyote known as Kickaha gave a weary sigh. “You really do have a lot to learn about respecting proper melodrama.” It was always vexing how a kitten could overreact to everything under the sun, and still not understand the concept of embellishment.
“But I mean! It’s nice and warm! And school is out!” The kitten was sitting on on the side of a park bench swinging his legs back and forth.
“It is hot, not warm.” Kickaha corrected. “And you don’t have a summer vacation because you don’t actually go to school!” The foxyote leaned back against the bench.
“Doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the concept!” Calex crossed his arms. “I mean for kids summer is the most magical time of the year! And we have to make the most of it!” Suddenly the kitten’s voice rose into a melody. “There are 104 days of summer vacation-”
“CALEX NO!” Kickaha grabbed the kitten by the muzzle and held it close. “You can’t sing that! Look! I know my antagonistic relationship with most mice might have given you the opposite idea… But there are some rodents that are not to be trifled with! Speak not of his works lest his all-seeing eye fall upon you.”
“… Kay.” Calex replied flatly.
“Look, it’s too hot for my brain to make sense of things right now.” Kickaha flopped down onto the bench on his stomach. “Can’t you think of some way to cool us off? Surely you have some ridiculous over-the-top way to address this problem.”
“Huh well…” Calex began to tap his chin with a paw as he considered. “A way to cool off. Aha! I might just have a way!”
“Well don’t leave me in the dark, what is it?” Kickaha’s ears stood up straight waiting for the response.
“We could go to the public pool!” Calex beamed proudly with his answer.
“What is something wrong?” The kitten’s ears started to lower.
“No that works just…” Kickaha sat up and tilted his head. “I’m just used to things being a bit more… How do you say… Delightfully absurd. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but you don’t have normal days.”
“What!” Calex stood up on the bench and had his tail bristle. “My days are perfectly normal! I get attacked by supervillains twice a week just like everyone else! How is that abnormal?”
“You don’t have a lot of human friends, huh?” Kickaha put a hand over his mouth to stifle a laugh.
“I know some people who used to be human!” The kitten grinned.
“Yeah, that makes sense.” Kickaha nodded. “Alright then, to the public pool! Lead the way, young Nekato!”
It was only about a twenty-minute walk from the park to the pool. It didn’t take long before grass and trees gave way to concrete and the scent of chlorine. A chain link fence surrounded the entire facility with a large white lifeguard chair sticking up. The two headed for the gate but were stopped by a large muscular six-foot-tall poodle wearing sunglasses.
“Sorry friends, but I’m afraid the pool is closed today.” The poodle spoke in an Austrian accent. “It’s on the lifeguard’s orders, and I should know! Because I am the lifeguard! Senior Lifeguard Bret Bretson! At your service.”
“What!? But… But… Why would you close the pool on a summer afternoon?” Calex’s eyes began to tear up at the news.
“Yes! How could you do such a cruel thing?” Kickaha asked. “Look into this little kitten’s eyes! See the pain you’re causing him? All he’s wanted his entire life is to see a foxyote cool off by hanging out in the pool all day! That’s THE ONLY THING HE NEEDS! And you’re just going to take that from him? Can you really break his itty bitty kitty heart like that?”
“Sorry, but it’s not my choice.” The lifeguard adjusted his sunglasses. “Trust me I’d love to let you in… But I’m afraid the pool has become the scene of a most heinous crime.”
“What… What kind of crime?” Kickaha asked.
“It’s the darndest thing…” Bret replied shaking his head. “But it would seem… Someone has stolen the pool water.”
“As in the water that was in the pool?” Kickaha arched an eyebrow.
“Yup. It’s all gone. Every last drop.” The lifeguard replied.
“So is there like a crack in the pool? Was it drained out?” Kickaha was trying to piece together how it was done.
“See, that’s what I thought too when I showed up to work today.” Bret crossed his arms and took on a solemn look. “But there’s no signs of damage to the pool, and the drains have been sealed all morning. Somehow all the water from the pool has simply vanished into thin air.”
“So what you’re saying is…” Suddenly the kitten’s ears perked up and his eyes grew bright. “We have a mystery on our hands!”
“I KNEW IT!” Kickaha slammed his fist into his other hand and wagged his tail happily.
“Eh?” The lifeguard looked confused.
“Oh sorry.” Kickaha smiled. “Just, I knew no matter how ordinary Calex’s plans for the day were they’d somehow twist itself into a bizarre and surreal experience.”
“I still have no idea what you’re talking about.” Calex gave the foxyote the most quizzical of looks. “This is honestly perfectly in line with normal day-to-day activities.”
“You see what I mean!?” Kickaha faced the lifeguard while gesturing at the kitten. “This is what I have to work with!”
“I um… I see…” The poodle clearly had no idea what to make of either the two small orange figures. “This is… Normal for you?”
“Of course!” Calex was practically glowing with anticipation. His forepaws shifted into hands for a moment as he pointed dramatically into the air. “For you see… I am a Junior Partner at the Ashcroft Investigation Agency! Mysteries are what we do!” He paused as if expecting a reaction to that statement. He got none.
“He means he’s a detective.” Kickaha explained.
“Aren’t you a little young to be a detective?” The poodle lowered his sunglasses.
“That’s the second one today…” Kickaha muttered. “You guys have no idea what forces you’re trifling with.”
“I’m a junior detective.” Calex replied. “Technically still in training! But I’m fully authorized to investigate any and all crime scenes even without paperwork! At least that’s what Odin tells people when we’re on the job.”
“Odin… As in the Norse god?” The poodle could feel his eyes glazing over.
“Same name, different person.” Kickaha explained. “That’s the owner of the agency he works at. Basically his boss.”
“Right!” Calex was almost buzzing he was so excited now. “So you’ve got to let us into the crime scene! I can’t walk away from a mystery! It’s the detective’s code!”
“Is that a thing?” The poodle asked.
“It is not.” Kickaha shook his head.
“The point is we can help and we have the proper qualifications!” Calex explained.
“I don’t know…” The poodle turned away from them for a moment. “Though… I suppose it couldn’t hurt. Not like a little guy like you could really break anything.” Kickaha began to laugh. “What’s so funny?”
“Nothing. Nothing at all.” Kickaha held his hands behind his back and looked as innocent as possible.
“But pretty sure I’ll get in trouble if I just let anyone in here. It is a crime scene.” The lifeguard fixed Kickaha with a stare. “Is he a certified detective too?”
“Well no…” Calex admitted. “But um! He is a responsible adult-”
“Ahem.” Kickaha interrupted.
“He is an adult who’s in charge of watching me-”
“Uhhhhh.” Kickaha shook his head.
“He is an adult who is in my general proximity but bears no legal liability for my actions?” Calex tried.
“There we go!” Kickaha grinned. “Remember to always stress that last point whenever we meet new people.”
“Well in that case I don’t think I can actually let him in…” The lifeguard crossed his arms. “He doesn’t have any legal jurisdiction if he’s not associated with an actual detective.”
“But… But…” Calex tried.
“Relax… I got this one.” Kickaha patted the kitten on the head. “Sir! I did not expect you would be so reckless?”
“I’m sorry what now?”
“Do you see this child?” Kickaha picked Calex up and held him in the air. “How old do you think he is?”
“I don’t know… Seven or eight?” The lifeguard tried.
“He’s six!” Kickaha responded. “You, sir, were about to send a six-year-old into a crime scene by himself! Do you know what the liability rules are for something like that? You’d lose your job! Your title! This whole place would be wrapped up in litigation that would prevent it from opening for years! Sending a minor to investigate a crime scene… ARE YOU MAD!?”
“But… I erm…” The lifeguard looked to the kitten for help who just shrugged. “You just spent the past several minutes convincing me to let him in!”
“Not unattended!” Kickaha threw up his arms. “Isn’t it a pool rule that all children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult?”
“Well yes-” The lifeguard tried.
“Then do your job and uphold the rules! He is a child, and must have an adult accompany him! And there’s only two of us here! As you just tried to send a child in there by himself, you’re clearly not qualified. So I guess I’ll just have to be the one to go in! Clearly no one else here cares about the rules and etiquette!”
“Uh but um erm…” The lifeguard stammered trying to reply. All he could do was stare as both foxyote and kitten walked through the gate and past him.
“So… Do you actually plan these things out when you talk like that?” Calex whispered as they moved past. “Or do you just kind of open your mouth and it just happens?”
“Calex, you should know I never plan.” Kickaha tsked. “If I knew what was coming it wouldn’t be as much fun.”
That was actually a bit of a fib. But Kickaha was always reluctant to admit to planning things. It just felt like cheating.
The community pool looked like just about any other of its kind. White pavement around the edges, signs posted listing the pool rules, a high dive and of course the pool itself which easily stretched 50 feet. The major difference, of course, was that this pool was completely empty. The blue tiles lining the pool weren’t even wet. There wasn’t a single drop of liquid to be found.
“Hmmmm.” Calex walked up to the pool and stuck his hand down in it and waved it around. “Well, the water’s not invisible. It’s really gone… So… We can conclude… A thing… Certainly happened. And if we look at the position of the sun and the fact that um… Erm… That the gate was closed we can conclude… It uh… Happened before we got here?”
“I don’t think the Sherlock Holmes analysis is working for you.” Kickaha ruffled the kitten’s head fur.
“S-sorry!” Calex looked embarrassed. “Truth is, Odin usually does most of the clue gathering! I usually just walk around, make snarky comments and then get to punch the bad guy at the end. It’s our system! It works!”
“Well I don’t see any bad guys to punch here…” Kickaha muttered. “So think you’re going to have to mix things up a bit. And preferably do so faster, I’m still melting in this heat.”
“That’s it!” Calex snapped his fingers. “The water must have melted! That’s why we can’t find it.”
“Calex… Calex no.” Kickaha rubbed his head. “Water is already a liquid. It can’t melt. I mean it could evaporate. But it’d take a lot of heat to do that, and I feel like other things around here WOULD have melted if that happened.”
“Eh? What do you mean?” Calex asked.
“Well just saying, heat isn’t exactly something that just stays in one place.” Kickaha shrugged. “So if you were to boil the pool at a hot enough temperature to evaporate all the water then it would have melted the tiles on the bottom of the pool. They’re all in perfect condition though. So it’s unlikely the water evaporated.”
“AHHHHH!” Calex suddenly pounced upon Kickaha and gave him a hug.
“WHAT!?” Kickaha looked around in confusion.
“You made a deduction!” Calex beamed. “A proper detectivey deduction! Now we’re one step closer to solving the mystery!”
“I just pointed out that one idea couldn’t work.” Kickaha responded.
“But don’t you see! Once you eliminate all the other ideas, the only one left no matter how far fetched must be the truth! Therefore, since we know the water didn’t melt… It must have unmelted!”
“I don’t think we’ve actually eliminated every other possibility..” Kickaha gave a weary sigh. “Also the term you’re looking for is froze. You think the water froze.”
“Right! The water was frozen!” Calex’s tail twitched as he latched onto this new idea. “They froze the entire pool water like a giant ice cube! And then just pried it out and took it with them! Mystery solved! Well mostly, still have to figure out who did that.”
“I think you’re jumping to conclusions…” Kickaha peered down at the pool tiles. “I suppose… Freezing the water was possible to do so without harming the tiles or rest of the pool… The water would expand, but since the pool has no lid it could have expanded upward.”
“So we know what happened!” The kitten gloated.
“Well no, just acknowledging it is in the realm of possibilities, especially once you consider we live in a world with magical tricksters and other-wordly kittens.” Kickaha replied. “We really have no actual evidence to prove one way or another.”
“But who would need a giant pool sized ice cube?” Calex asked. “There’s gotta be a motive for doing this. Come on Calex, who fits the profile… Think… Think… Who could use a giant ice cube?”
“I think you might be on the wrong track. No one needs an ice cube that big.” Kickaha shrugged. “Not unless they’re 50 feet tall or something.”
“That’s it! Kickaha you’re made another brilliant deduction!” Calex grinned. “I know who the culprit is!”
“Oh, this will be good.” Kickaha sat backwards as a chair poofed into existence for him. He then held out a hand as a bag of popcorn spawned in it. “Alright, go ahead.”
“Alright! So we know the water was unmelted and transformed into a giant ice cube, and then someone stole it. So we can conclude two things. One, the person who did this has the ability to unmelt things… And two they must be really, really big.” The kitten crossed his arms and looked as smug. “And these two facts… Will crack the case open!”
“Well, don’t let me stop you. Go on!” Kickaha tossed a piece of popcorn into his mouth.
“Then let me start from the beginning!” The kitten beamed. “First off, the culprit came here long before the pool opened! But the public pool opens early in the morning… Therefore the crime took place at night! And it was because of that cover of darkness that the culprit was able to move unseen! If he had come during the day everyone would have noticed something that big… Even at night he would have been hard to not see… Unless of course… HE HAD DARKLY COVERED SCALES! These would let him blend in against the night sky moving completely undetected! And it was with that cover he made his way to the pool.”
“Okay, so even if someone that big somehow snuck here, that doesn’t explain the how or why…” Kickaha conjured a soda that he began to sip.
“First let’s cover the how…” Calex nodded. “It becomes very simple once you understand who the culprit is… For you see they possessed a special ability that made the entire crime possible! The culprit froze the pool using their frost breath! Once the pool was frozen it was easy for someone as big as them to use their claws to pry the ice out and carry it away like a giant cube.”
“Even if that’s possible, that still doesn’t explain the why.” Kickaha pointed out.
“The why is simple! Once you know who the culprit is their motive becomes obvious.” Calex responded. “After all… For someone like this there aren’t a lot of role models… But the biggest one just released a brand new movie.”
“You’re just trying to tempt all the lawyers today, aren’t you?” Kickaha sighed.
“The culprit is a kaiju! Specifically, a juvenile kaiju! And the motive for the crime was they were planning to see the new movie! And you can’t enjoy a movie without popcorn and soda! But even the theater’s extra large special edition ultimate premium sized soda would be a tiny thing crushed beneath their claws! No… They’d have to get creative and make their own soda to take to the movie! But they’d need some giant ice cubes to keep a soda that big cold.”
“So… You think that they stole the pool to cool a soda… So they could go to the movies.” Kickaha recapped in sheer disbelief.
“But they didn’t stop there!” Calex grinned. “And there next move is what gave it all away… You see… This kaiju has two heads! One that breathes ice, and the other fire.”
“I would love to know how you’re reaching these conclusions.” Kickaha finished his own soda.
“It’s simple… Because the ice head was responsible for securing the soda! And the fire head the popcorn!” Calex pointed dramatically into the distance. “Meaning that his next stop would have been the closest cornfield! He would have used his fire breath to superheat all the corn and produce a mountain’s worth of popcorn! And then from there he’d head to the theater! If we head that way now, we’d find him waiting in line to go in.”
“Okay, I’m going to stop you right there…” Kickaha stood up from his chair. “That’s a really amusing story, but you kind of just made it all up. We should really get back to-”
“HEY YOU TWO!” Bret ran into the gated area waving his arms. “Hey there was another weird incident at the farm two miles down the road! Someone stole all the corn! And it looks like several of the other crops were damaged in a fire! You think it could be related?”
“What?” Kickaha stared at the lifeguard in disbelief and then looked down at Calex.
“Never doubt the kitten logic.” Calex puffed out his chest.
“Clearly…” Kickaha just stared eyes wide. “But… What now?”
“Well…” Calex considered. “He did commit a crime, so I could go find him and punch him… But…” He considered for a second. “He’s just a dumb kid who made a mistake because he was really excited to see his hero. If we go arrest him they’ll send him to Monster Island. That place will just turn him into a hardened building-smashing kaiju. Maybe… Maybe it’s better we let this one go and let his parents deal with it.”
“How surprisingly noble of you.” Kickaha sighed. “Well… I guess that’s that… But… I’m still hot! We haven’t addressed that issue yet.”
“I guess we haven’t…” Calex looked downtrodden for a moment then brightened up. “Hey! The movie theater always has the AC cranked way up! And they have cold sodas! Wanna go hang out there and check out that new monster movie?”
“Hmmm, you know…” Kickaha rubbed his chin. “That’s not a bad idea. Lead on little buddy.”
“Right! Onward to the next adventure!” Calex ran out through the pool’s gate on all fours with Kickaha shortly behind.
“G… Guys?” The lifeguard watched as they ran off. “What… What about my pool?” But the two were long gone.