Velma almost lost her grip on the bookcase ladder as she reached for an older book that was just beyond the track of the ladder. Her hand held fast to the phone at her ear as she regained her balance and reached again.
"Like, are you alright Velma?" Shaggy called out through the speaker.
Velma grabbed the book with a gasp and then pulled back to the full safety of the ladder.
"Yeah Shaggy, I'm just trying to get that book I was telling you about," she looked over the cover and smiled, "and I think I found it, I knew I recognized the name of that town."
The book cover read: Peatmoss: A History Of The Wood Of Lost Souls.
Velma read the title out to Shaggy, and she could actually hear him take a deep gulp on the phone.
"Wood of lost souls? Like, what is that, some kind of creepy old legend?" Shaggy asked.
Velma got down from the ladder and brought the book to her counter.
It was a saturday afternoon and when Shaggy had called about Scooby's ghostly experience in the woods, she couldn't pass up an opportunity to do some research. Her recollection of the book was superb as the name had instantly set off alarms in her head.
A cloud of dust arose from the book as she opened the old cover and dusted away the pages. She skimmed through until she found what she was looking for.
"Here we go, The Legend of The Woods. It says here that hundreds of years ago, settlers in the area used to hear strange voices at night. Calling to them, almost like sirens, and like sirens, the voices would lead the unlucky listeners into a labyrinth of trees that they could never escape from again. Thats supposedly where the lost souls part comes in."
The other end of the line was dead silent and eventually Velma had to call out.
"Shaggy, are you still there?"
There was another gulp.
"Yeah Velm. Like, I was just locking all the doors in the cabin, I don't want those spooky sirens getting in here," Shaggy whimpered.
"Oh Shaggy, calm down," Velma laughed, "it's just an old legend. It says here that the reports of missing persons only dates back to the early days of the settlers. After that they built a road through the woods and anyone who got lost was able to find their way back using it."
"Like, you're right Velma, its just some crazy legend that happened hundreds of years ago, and no one remembers it anymore. Like, my Uncle Harry didn't even mention it to me when we came down."
Velma rubbed her chin.
"You know, it might be interesting to see those woods, I've thought about visiting them before just to take a look, but I never had a reason to go really before," she commented.
Shaggy piped up instantly at the thought of an old friend joining them.
"Well, like, now you do Velma. I'll even pay for your flight down here; Scooby's Snacks just signed, like a global agreement yesterday. Scooby and I are totally rich!" Shaggy said, excitedly.
"Thats great news Shaggy," Velma said, "and I appreciate you inviting me down; I'll head to the airport tomorrow and catch the next flight there, so you two knuckle heads had better be ready for me."
In the back ground she heard Scooby calling out in excitement and barking.
"Like Scooby and I will be there with bells and whistles, Velm," Shaggy said.
"Rea, rea! Rells an Rissles!" She heard Scooby call out.
Velma laughed and hung up the phone. She was excited to see her two best friends again, but there was something unnerving about those woods. Also, she had only told the guys that the disappearances had ended when the settlers built the road; but in actuality there was no comment of anytime that they had ended. This was definitely a mystery worth looking into, and without thinking twice Velma closed the book and brought it with her, locking the store and heading home to pack.
He wiped the sweat from his brow; it wasn't that hot, but Freddy was nervous. He had been put on a difficult case to track down some very valuable stolen items, and he was now hot on the trail of the theif.
He was hiding behind some dumpsters in a very narrow alleyway, in one of new york's many deserted suburbs. Down the alley a ways, a dark shadow drifted across the evening light. It was the guy Freddy had been following for the past twenty minutes, after the suspect had taken Freddy's bait a few blocks down, stealing the item and making off with it.
Freddy had chased him down a few alleys and through the deserted streets until the figure had led him to this run-down factory, where he seemed to be looking for the way in. Freddy fingered the gun in his holster.
He had never had to use a gun before, especially back on Mystery Inc, but desperate times called for desperate measures, and in these mean streets you could never be too sure. Freddy watched as the figure moved to an old rusty door and slipped inside.
Freddy wiped his brow once more and reluctantly followed, his nerves getting the better of him already. He was determined not to screw this case up. He was going to catch this guy in the act and haul him in; where the chief would be waiting to pat him on the back for a job well done.
He put his back against the brick wall and after a few seconds of listening to nothing but silence he slowly reached for the door. Suddenly though it began to open, and instantly without thinking Freddy reached for his gun and pointed it at the door. The figure slowly emerged looking the other way and began to walk down the alley.
"Freeze, put your hands in the air where I can see them," Freddy called out, in a very commanding tone.
The figure put his hands up slowly; he had a hood on so Freddy couldn't see his face.
"Now turn around so I can see you, slowly now," Freddy demanded, and the figure slowly turned towards him, "alright you're going in with me, you're going to do some hard time for this you meddling....kid?"
The face that looked at him was scowled but he couldn't have been older than fifteen.
"You're the one that stole all that stuff?" Freddy asked surprised.
The kid didn't say anything, but just nodded. Freddy waved his gun in the direction of the door.
"Alright, open the door and let's see what you've got stored in here kid," he commanded, once again feeling happy about wrapping this up.
It was actually starting to feel like the old days again. The door opened and the kid walked inside slowly, his hands still up, while Freddy followed closely behind.
"So where'd you stash the loot kid?" He asked.
The boy again, didn't say a word, but just motioned to a dark corner of the room. Freddy looked to his other side at the wall and found a light switch. Flicking it up, the room suddenly illuminated and in the dark corner stood an entire cache of shiny new bikes. Close to ten or more.
"Well gang, it looks like we solved the mystery of the missing bikes," Freddy proclaimed to the empty room.
The kid turned and gave him a weird look.
"Who are you talking to?" he asked, speaking for the first time.
Freddy suddenly realized what he had said and his face went red. He hollstered his gun and brought out his handcuffs.
"Just come with me, you're under arrest for theft, I'm taking you down to the station," he replied, glumly.
Down at the precinct Freddy dragged the kid in and sat him in a bench near the sign-in window.
"Now you just sit there and think about what you've done until your parents come pick you up," Freddy said, sternly, "And I'll be suggesting that they ground you for a very long time mister."
The kid rolled his eyes and stared out the window ignoring Freddy. Freddy turned away and walked into the office, entering a room of jangling telephones and desks filled with paperwork. Cops moved around drinking coffee and just generally chatting. Some of them shot him a few strange looks, and one or two snickered. Otherwise no one said anything, and they all went about their business ignoring him.
Freddy missed all of this, proud as he was, and strolled into the chief's office with his head held high.
"Well Sir, I caught the criminal who stole the bikes," Freddy proclaimed.
The chief, a hardened gruff man with a moustache to match the pockmarked face, looked up at him with annoyance.
"Yeah, thats great there, Jones, but in case you haven't noticed, I got about five murder victims pillin' up my desk here. So why don't you just go write your report and file it so we can all move on," the chief grunted.
He then turned back to his work and acted like Freddy was no longer in the room. Freddy cleared his throat, to get the man's attention again.
"Jones, did you not just hear what I said? I have a lot of work to do here, what is it you want?" The chief growled.
"Well Sir, I had talked to you before about taking that dectective's exam, I was hoping maybe we could discuss it some more," Freddy inquired hopefully.
The Chief spun around and looked at Freddy full in the eye. He was a hardened man but he had soft blue eyes that sometimes showed more emotion than he probably wanted to show.
"Yeah I remember Jones; look, you're a good officer, a good man, but I just don't think you're cut out for detective work. Its all very nasty stuff sometimes, and I'd hate to see a kid like you get messed up in a world like that," the chief explained.
Freddy wasn't satisfied with this.
"But chief I'm not a kid, I'm twenty-five years old. I know I can do this, I mean if you could just give me a chance?" Freddy pleaded.
The chief looked at him again and thought for a moment, his moustache periodically twitching; a tick he had picked up from the stress of the job over the years.
"Alright Jones look, I've got a case here that none of the other guys wanted, so if you wanna go ahead and take it, its yours. Then when you get back we can sit down and talk about this detective business, sound fair?" The chief was asking, but he had a look in his eyes that this was as fair as things were going to get.
Freddy nonetheless took the file and smiled happily.
"Yes Sir, thank you very much Sir, I will work this case to the best of my abilities."
With that Freddy saluted and walked out of the chief's office. The chief sighed and then looked back down at the photos he had been looking over before, taking a deep sip from his coffee.
Outside some of the boys had been watching Freddy and they were laughing. One of them finally got bold and called out:
"Hey Freddy, congrats on that bike job. Did you find the ghoulie that was haunting the kids garages?"
The whole office broke out in laughter, and Freddy's face went red, as he ignored the comment and walked out. He passed the kid, who had a smirk on his face now, and walked out into the street.
A storm had come overhead and small droplets of rain were beginning to hit the pavement. Freddy sat on the steps and opened the file the chief had handed him. He sighed and closed it again, feeling small drops hit his sad face. It was a report of a couple of missing grocery carts from the local grocers market.
Freddy looked up and watched the sky grow darker. When had life become such a joke, and when had he become the punchline? This was nothing like the days with Mystery Inc. Back then he'd been happy; now he was just a man with a job that didn't suit him and a life that didn't care about him.
A ringing broke through his thoughts, and he realized it was his cell phone. Taking it from his pocket he opened it; the screen said long distance, unkown caller. Freddy hit the talk button and brought the phone to his ear.
"Hello?" he said.
"Freddy, like guess who?" a voice on the other end called out.
"Shaggy, old buddy. How've you been?"
"Like, groovy Freddy! Scooby and I are in Peatmoss Virginia, spending some time with my old Uncle Harry. How're you man?"
Freddy fought the urge to just spill his entire terrible life story to Shaggy and instead he swallowed hard.
"Oh great, you know, taking that detective's course soon," he lied.
"Wow man, thats, like, totally cool. Listen Freddy, do you think you might be able to take some time off, and come visit here? Velma is coming down this weekend, and like Scooby and I thought it might be a groovy idea for you to come too!"
Freddy looked down at the discarded folder on the steps of the entrance. The carts could wait, he needed to see his friends again.
"What day did you have in mind?" he asked with a smile.