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The Pandanapper

By , Rocky River, OH
All was dark in the castle when I took the princess, Emily, from her room. Her mother, the High Panda Queen Genevieve, quietly slept as I crept across the castle grounds. All was going according to plan, but I wanted to make sure pandemonium ensued. I crept back to the castle after depositing a sleeping Emily into the cave I had picked out for this purpose.

I should probably take a moment to introduce myself – my name is Tchaikovsky, cat bandit for hire. The people I was working for had requested that I kidnap the princess and demand a heavy ransom, and I was only too happy to oblige.

The palace was in a state of utter confusion when I returned. The queen had called a state of high emergency throughout the entire country of Ftcdnwu (pronounced like “Johnson”). She had summoned the Wolf Pack, renowned throughout the country as being the best sniffers around. They were the most hardcore and intense police task force in the state. The two most successful members, Major Labrador and Lieutenant Lil’ Pup, had answered the queen’s call.

I slinked along the ceiling of the palace, as quiet as can be, to listen in to their conversation. I didn’t want the law to catch me here of all places!

“Mornin’, Your Majesty. Please describe the nature of your problem,” the major said in his most calming voice. He could tell that the queen was a bit anxious. My plan was working.

The queen screamed, “MY BABY IS GONE, THAT’S WHAT THE PROBLEM IS, YOU MANGY MUTT.” The queen was not swayed by the major’s calm manner. I felt comfortable leaving at that point; there was enough distress to cover my tracks. Only later did I learn what a terrible mistake I had made in ever going back.

As I left, I heard the major trying to comfort the queen, who had moved on to full hysterics. “Ma’am, we’re going to do all we can. Ma’am, do you see this? Lieutenant Lil’ Pup here may be small, but he has the best nose I’ve ever seen. He’ll find your daughter, ma’am. You calm down now, Your Majesty….” The major’s voice faded away as I stalked back to our little cave.

The dogs searched high and low for ten days. I watched them, making sure not to be seen, making sure that I stayed with the plan in all respects. Emily was good company; once I informed her of how things were to be done, she proved compliant and helpful. We grew close. I was sad on the fifteenth day when I dropped the ransom note off. It asked for a large sum of money in return for the safety of the princess. Little did they all know the real plan.

As I placed the note on the queen’s throne, I spied her chief of staff wandering about. The greatest koala in the land, Poppa Bear appeared small but was mightier than most. He could definitely tame this cat. His actions looked rather nefarious, so I kept watching, but was forced to leave for fear of being seen.

I later returned, to see what had happened when they found my note. I tried to look for Poppa Bear, but he was nowhere to be found. Strange, I thought to myself, this isn’t really supposed to be happening. I let this inconsistency slide as the two members of the Wolf Pack strode into the room.

Lieutenant Lil’ Pup opened his mouth to speak, and what he had to say horrified me. Instead of discussing ways to acquire the ransom, he held up a small bag. “Ladies, gentleman, Your Majesty especially,” he said with a smile, “I have in this bag the key to solving the mystery and finding your daughter. I found, at the scene of the crime and elsewhere, a few hairs – feline hairs. Hairs belonging to a cat bandit for hire named Tchaikovsky. These are the hairs of your daughter’s pandanapper.” He looked so confident. I, on the other hand, was the opposite. How could I have been so stupid to return to the palace during shedding season? I was scared out of my mind. Suddenly, a realization came to me. I needed to get back to Emily, fast.

I streaked across the throne room, not even caring that the police could see me. I only needed to outrun them to the cave. In fact, it would be better if they followed me there.

When I made it to the cave, I rushed inside. Thankfully, Emily was safe, but she looked afraid. I soon learned why: Poppa Bear dropped from the ceiling onto a bare spot of floor.

“We’re surrounded,” I told him, “there’s no use trying to get us out of here.”

“That was never in my plan,” he replied, and jumped at me. We struggled, but it gave me enough time to call for help. The Wolf Pack rushed in, handcuffed everyone, and told us this would be sorted out at the palace, once Emily was returned to her mother. I promised to tell my entire story there.

When we arrived at the castle, the Wolf Pack interrogated me in front of the queen and all the High Court. They asked me to name who had put me up to pandanapping the princess.

I simply pointed to the queen.

I then explained how the queen had approached me, had told me that she was bored and restless in palace life. She wanted to get away with her daughter and her love, Poppa Bear (this fact was greeted with many shocked looks; the queen remained stony faced throughout my tale). She had me stage a pandanapping. They would pay the ransom and then, when their daughter was not returned (still actually safe with me, of course), they would go away to grieve. They would use the ransom money I had collected as funds they would need to survive in their new life. The plan was that they would all live happily ever after.

“But,” I said, “that was not really the plan, was it, Genevieve?”

“No,” she replied. “I was worried, and so was Poppa Bear. Emily was becoming a threat to my power, and her panda politics would not be good for this country. I knew action had to be taken, but I didn’t want it tied to me. This was the perfect plan. After the ransom note was received, Poppa Bear would go to the rendezvous point and kill you both, securing my place as queen and ensuring a happy and good future for Ftcdnwu. If you hadn’t led the Wolf Pack right to your hiding spot, this would have all worked. I would be the queen!” With this she collapsed on the ground, sobbing, pleading for forgiveness.

Emily took her rightful seat on the throne as the queen and Poppa Bear were led away in handcuffs. The Wolf Pack apologized profusely to both Emily and myself. The new queen of Ftcdnwu began her reign – she would rule from the Bamboo Throne for years to come, and, unlike her mother’s predictions, her time as queen brought great peace and prosperity to the good animals of Ftcdnwu.





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