Trembling like a treechnid leaf, the old Sadida waited on her doorstep, wrapped up in a shabby green bathrobe. Her head, dotted with multicolored curlers, made her look like a Kwismas Itzting. A string of brief but candid sighs betrayed her impatience

The carriage doors slammed open slightly too hard. It was a bit of fun that militia members would treat themselves to when arriving at the scene of a crime, even a minor offense.

"Mrs. Grineva? We're Chilapatu and Birochet of the Theft and Twelvicide Unit. Was it you who reported a break-in?

"Well, it's about time! I reckon folks die waiting for you to show up!"

"Please, ma'am, calm down… We came as fast as we could. What's the problem?" Chilapatu asked.

"The problem? Isn't it obvious…?"

Crossing her arms, the old woman motioned with her head toward the windowsill above the porch. There was debris, presumably the remains of an earthenware pot. On the ground: scattered soil and ruined flowers, carelessly trampled.

"Look at that! Those little monsters!"

"Who are you talking about, ma'am?" asked Birochet.

"Honestly… It's clear as day! Here, let me just show you… I just mopped the floor, so take your shoes off!"

The two inspectors shared a knowing glance. They were in for a long morning. And surely an exciting one… They removed their shoes without bothering to hide their annoyance. Birochet was wearing yellow socks with pink polka dots, which his partner promptly teased him about.

Inside, the decor was old-fashioned. Filled with porcelain knick-knacks and crocheted doilies, each room was strikingly tidy. It smelled like soap and vegetable broth. In the kitchen, a pot of sweet and sour gobball stew simmered on the stove. There was something warm and inviting about the place. Like a visit to Grandma's on a Sunday in Descendre…

The Sadida opened a cupboard, frowned, and groaned slightly, as if this was her first time discovering the offense.

"There it is! Look! A brand-new pack of cookies! Kwinkeez. What a coincidence… It has to be them!"

"Them? Who's this 'them'?" asked Birochet.

"Gosh, are you serious? The militia these days… It ain't what it used to be!"

The old woman asked the two Twelvians to follow her upstairs. While Birochet joined her, Chilapatu examined the pack of cookies more closely. The box had bite marks on it. A lovely row of teeth, so small it was barely visible.

"Hmm… That's odd…"

"Come on, Chilapatu! I don't want to spend all day here…" his partner whispered irritably.

The first floor was level with the ground floor. Sprinkled on the walls of the hallway leading to the different rooms were needlepoint pieces. A fine portrait of the old woman featured adorable bow wows all curled up in baskets, as well as homey words of wisdom: "A happy home is filled with laughter"; "Treat others as you wish to be treated"; and "It's not nice to be mean". She opened a door covered in a piece of fluffy pink fabric – it could have been a tapestry or a rug – which led to the bathroom. The porcelain knick-knacks were back, mostly bow meows, staring at them with some kind of dread in their eyes. Here too they had overrun the place, centered among countless bottles of perfume and various creams. The woman pulled back the shower curtain. There were tufts of fur all over, tarnishing the immaculate white ceramic.

"See! They even took a bath! They could've at least rinsed the bathtub after! Ugh! But those dummies left proof! I'd bet my life it was that gang of young Ouginaks that roam the neighborhood at night… It was them, I tell ya!"

Chilapatu opened a few drawers to get a pair of tweezers, and then used it to collect one of the tufts of fur. He examined it using the bit of light coming through the window, squinting in concentration.

"I think you're wrong about the culprits, Mrs. Grineva… Ouginaks have much thicker fur. Look. This one's fine. And it smells a lot worse…"

The militiaman held the tuft out for the old woman to smell it, and she quickly recoiled.

"Ahhh! Get that away from me – it must be infected!"

Chilapatu placed the clue in a sealed bag.

"Those Ouginak youngsters have terrible hygiene, you know…" added Mrs. Grineva.

"That may be… But their jaws are also much larger than what I've detected so far…"

Chilapatu pointed to the bar of soap on the edge of the bathtub. Little teeth marks, similar to those found on the pack of Kwinkeez, were pressed into the soap.

"These same marks are on the lump of gobbutter in your cold pantry, along the foot of the pedestal table in your foyer, in parts of the pink velvet fabric of your rocking armchair, on a few pages in your copy of '50 Shades of Green' and even…"

Chilapatu took the toothbrush resting in a glass on the edge of the sink and used it to remove a pair of panties from a clothes hook. Here too, the fabric was damaged. The old Sadida woman, her cheeks red with shame, snatched her underwear and glared at the two investigators.

"How dare you! Don't you think my privacy has been violated enough already?!"

"Please, calm down. My partner didn't mean any harm. We're here to help you,"  Birochet said soothingly.

"I'm sorry to have made you uncomfortable, Mrs. Grineva, but it looks like you're dealing with an infestation. Cute but deadly little rodents have obviously moved in with you. Can you blame them? Your home is so welcoming."  Chilapatu shot a mischievous wink at his partner.

"Rodents?? Ridiculous… My home is spotless. And even if a moumouse did get in, my kitty would've taken care of it!"

"Not mimice, ma'am. They're ger–"

A massive cracking sound followed by a deafening explosion startled the entire household, causing the perfume bottles to fall off the shelf.

The militiamen rushed down the stairs, ready to unsheathe their weapons, and bolted out the back door. The big tree overlooking Mrs. Grineva's yard was ablaze, as if it had been struck by lightning. But this couldn't be. The weather was certainly gloomy, but there was no storm on the horizon. Then a monstrous cry rang out, causing the ground to shake again, followed by an electrical noise. An enormous shadow was cast over the entire home, looming over the two men, who stood gawking at the sky. Chilapatu gulped audibly.

"Mama Gerbean doesn't look happy…"