Nancy stood in her quaint living room, sifting quickly through her luggage to make sure she had everything she needed. It was just a three day trip, but all the years spent in Perfection had taught her to be careful. She had all of her clothes, toiletries, and other essentials so she sat down, satisfied.
"Finished packing for Arizona?" Jodi asked as she stepped inside the house.
Nancy nodded with a smile. "Yep, I've got everything I need."
Jodi returned the smile and flopped down on the couch. "Well, three down, three to go. Man, I can't believe everyone's leaving for the week."
"Don't worry," Nancy grinned. "Tyler will only be gone for about three days. But be careful, Casey and Roger are going to some college to give a seminar, too, so they'll be gone for a bit."
"All alone with mega-geek for three whole days…" Jodi sighed. "I kinda hope something does show up. Small and manageable, but enough to keep us busy so he doesn't drive me up the walls."
"Careful what you wish for," Nancy warned.
The store owner looked up from her folders to see someone racing up onto the porch and into the store. "Tyler? I thought you and Burt already left on your assignment."
"Not yet," he replied. "You still got those little gummy drink things?"
Jodi rolled her eyes. "Yes, I still have Jim's Juice, it's in the back."
When Tyler made his way back to the front of the store, Larry was quick to approach him. "I was wondering why you are coming back earlier than Burt," the younger man asked curiously. "Do you guys have different assignments?"
Tyler poked him out of the way with his drink. "No, but Burt has to meet some old friend of his in another state, so I'm hitchin' a ride back with Twitch when the job's done."
"In three days?" Jodi asked with a faint smile. "Little specific, don't you think."
"It's a guess," Tyler replied blatantly. "We've only got to take out one worm, easy job."
"How long'll Burt be gone?" Larry asked.
"Just a few more days," Tyler assured him. He waved to them as he left. "See ya!"
Jodi watched as Burt's truck passed by, stopping briefly for Tyler to clamber over the door before heading out of town.
Larry grinned, sitting at the counter. "Wow! That's everyone. Even Rosalita and Harlow are gone."
"Yup," Jodi agreed with a huff of breath.
Larry glanced over her shoulder, seemingly surprised by what he saw. "Hey, look at that. There's a hole in one of you cabinets."
"What?" Jodi whirled and stared at the offending cavity. "Where the hell did that come from, it wasn't there last night. And-" Suddenly her eyes flew open and she quickly yanked the cabinet door open, gasping at what she saw.
Larry leaned over the counter to get a look at what she saw. "What is it?" he asked.
Jodi reached in and pulled out several folders that looked as though they had been violated by mice. "Something ate through the tour records!" She pulled out another folder. "And the Survival School records!"
Larry winced. "Yikes. You think we might have mice here?"
"I do not have mice," Jodi snapped defensively. "Besides, look at this mess. There's hardly anything left of these papers, no way a few mice could do that overnight."
"What do you think did it, then?" Larry asked, inspecting the remains of the paper.
"What do I look like, a rodent specialist?"
Larry shrugged. "We should check your food to make sure... Whatever did this didn't get anything else."
"I check the store every morning, this is it," Jodi replied distractedly, rummaging through the ruined paper work. "Come on, don't tell me they ate the phone number."
"What number, Jodster?"
Jodi let out an exasperated sigh. "I got a call from some high dollar youth group in L.A. who wanted to come out and take the tour for a few days. It was large group and Tyler would've made enough money to pay off that car part he's been complaining about. Except they were looking at coming this week so I said I'd call them back once we had the exact day Tyler would get back."
"I could look up the number for the group on the Internet," Larry offered helpfully. "Most clubs like that have a website or something."
"Amish heritage," Jodi said, shaking her head. "Not hardcore, never-touch-even-a-pager or whatever, but they still don't believe in utilizing much of today's technology. Minus phones of course, but that's sort of a must these days. Heck, they only found out about us because of a newspaper." She sighed heavily. "Tyler's not gonna like this."
Larry frowned. "Geez, sorry to hear that. Maybe we should set up some traps or whatever to make sure whatever little animal did this won't ruin anything else that's important."
"I don't have any traps."
"You're such a pessimist," Larry teased.
"No, I mean I just don't have any traps," Jodi repeated. "But no, I'm not getting any that involve having dead mice my store. They stink."
"How about we get some Have-a-Heart traps?" Larry offered. "They don't kill the mice so we could just let them out into the desert."
Jodi thought a moment. "Do you know if my supplier has any?" she asked, referring to the company who supplied most of her merchandise. They had just about anything one could ask for.
"I don't see why not," he said with a grin. "I could check for you if you'd like."
"Just ask when you pick up today's delivery," Jodi replied, tossing him her truck keys.
About an hour or two later, Jodi was still alone in the store, waiting for Larry to return. Suddenly she heard a car pull up in front of the market. Out of the grey Chevy stepped a tall, pale man with straight black hair reaching his shoulders. A small feline jumped out of the vehicle behind him, twisting affectionately around his legs.
Jodi followed the strange man as he came into the store, the oddly familiar cat trotting behind him like a loyal hound. "Hi. Welcome to Perfection."
The man grinned. "Thank you, love," he said with a smooth British accent. "The name's Randall, Randall Lewis," he introduced himself with a nod.
"Uh- Jodi...Chang," the store owner replied, searching her brain for why that name sounded so familiar. "If you've come for a tour, I'm afraid it's cancelled for the week. The guide's out of town." An odd noise from the cat drew her attention to it again and she suddenly jumped backwards, eyes wide in fear.
"Why do you have a SnatDog?!"