A short extract from Blaggard's (Future Infamy Assured).
Fortunately, Milly had overheard Mrs Christie discussing the forthcoming inspection with Miss Ire, giving them plenty of time to spirit Gruffles away to Milly’s room, but Charlie was distracted and hadn’t cleared up properly.
Mrs Christie had only been in his room for a few seconds, with a handkerchief pressed against her nose to filter the odour of Prowling Panther, before she frowned and pointed at a large sack, leaning against the wall. The name ‘LEAP!’ was printed on its front in jostling letters, accompanied by pictures of energetic canines. It was unmistakably, undeniably dog food. Charlie could have kicked himself. He’d bought it the day before, so that Gruffles could have a good breakfast before starting his day’s haunting. And he’d forgotten to hide it.
“Is there something you’re not telling us, Mr Partridge? I trust you haven’t acquired a pet? That would place you in a very unpleasant world of trouble. It’s strictly against the rules, as you know.”
Hell’s bells I’m for it now. Come on, Charlie, use your brain. Milly’s not here to think for you. It’s up to you! He drew a deep breath: “Actually, Miss, they’re for me. I’ve got a dog at home – he loves this food. Eats it all the time. One day in the holidays I was really hungry and it was ages till dinner, and I’d been reading what it says on the bag. Here, look: ‘Builds strong bones and teeth, makes your pet bounce with vitality!’ And I thought, ‘I’d like strong bones and teeth’, and I was feeling a bit tired, so I tried one. It was delicious! So I’ve bought myself a bag. I keep it by me all the time and now, when I get the midnight munchies, I just help myself. My teeth feel a lot stronger now. Look!”
Charlie bared his teeth.
There was a long silence.
“In fact I think I’ll have one now. Fancy one?” He picked up the bag, gave it a good shake and offered it to her. She took one gingerly and held it at arms length, waiting for Charlie to pick one too. He made a show of turning over the brown nuggets before picking one with great deliberation. He closed his eyes and put it in his mouth. “Mmmm. Delicious. What do you think?”
Slowly, Mrs Christie inserted the dog biscuit into her mouth. Reluctantly, she began to chew. Her eyes bulged.
“Want another one?” enquired Charlie, helping himself.
“Urgh. No. Thank you. What a peculiar young man you are, Mr Partridge. I’ll just suggest that you acquire a less overwhelming deodorant as a matter of urgency, and say goodnight…” With a flash of her flowery overall, she was gone. Charlie let out a long, slow breath. Hey, maybe I’m learning to think for myself – that’s got to be a good thing. And it could have been worse. At least she didn’t spot that dusty, half gnawed bone sticking out from under the bed. Don’t think anything could’ve forced me to nibble on that!