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||You are on Week 696
Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...
We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!
Story Six Hundred Ninety Six Ends Friday, July 31
It was a beautiful sunny day. Misty, a Cybunny gardener, took in a deep breath and shook out her snowy, white fur after a long, tough day of work. "I can't wait to have some of that yummy carrot cake at home!"
As she neared her doorstep, she noticed a basket covered by a pretty pink blanket sitting on the sidewalk.
"What is this?" Misty asked herself, "Maybe a gift from my boss?"
She gleefully opened the basket, but she was stunned when she saw what was inside. It was a baby Xweetox! Misty stared quizzically at the "surprise", trying to decide what she should do. "Someone has to have realized that they lost their child by now... maybe if I check the day care."
Misty ran to the day care and asked if anyone knew anything about a lost a baby, but to her surprise everyone who worked there said, "No," while giving Misty odd looks for asking.
Finally, Misty insisted that she talk to the day care manager. "Excuse me sir, but I found a baby on my door step after work today, and I really have no idea--," Misty was cut off.
"Sorry miss," the day care manager gave an insincere apology, "But if no one has reported a missing child, then it's not our problem."
"Fine," Misty said angrily as she stormed out, "Someone is probably heartbroken over this missing child, and you refuse to help. I'll figure this out myself!"
The next day Misty's concerned neighbor, who was named Cassie, came over.
"Why do I hear all this crying? Is something wrong?"
"No," Misty said quickly, "Well, actually, yes. You see I found this baby on my door step..."
"You're planning on finding the mother, right?" Cassie asked.
"Of course," Misty replied, "But, I have no idea where to begin, I'm stuck caring for a baby, and I have an emergency gardener meeting!"
"I can take her to the day care for you," Cassie said trying to calm the over-worked Misty down, "What have you named her until, you can locate the mother?"
"Lucia," Misty replied as she let out a sigh of relief and quickly ran out the door to her meeting.
"Misty! Misty!" Cassie called, "Look what I found stuck in a bush!"
It was a small piece of paper, which read, "Dear Misty, please take good care of my child. Unfortunately I don't have the means to care for her at the moment. I know you'll make a great caretaker."
Misty stood there for a moment absolutely stunned, "A baby? Why me?"
"But, I have awful news!" Cassie interrupted her train of thought, "I went to the day care to pick Lucia up, and they said someone had already claimed her. They let her go, since you were trying to find the parent yesterday."
Misty became uneasy, as her brain slowly made sense of Cassie's words, "Someone asked me to care for their child, and I lost her already..."
Date: Jul 27th
Cassie handed her the slip of writing, and Misty poured over it. "The means to care for her," she mused. Misty flipped the note over and over, searching for a scribble, a mark, any clue to who left it, but Cassie had read all there was to read.
"What about the basket?" Cassie suggested.
"Of course!" The Cybunny dashed inside, a fervor slowly working over her as she worked through the possibilities. Had Lucia been kidnapped? Was she being held for ransom? Who left a child on her porch to begin with?
Too many questions and not enough answers. Misty found the basket and carried it outside, sifting through the blanket as she went. "Still nothing." She sighed hopelessly. "I need to go to the day care."
Cassie accompanied her frantic friend, throwing looks of concern as the Cybunny nervously nibbled on her ear. She wanted to blame the day care manager for giving a child to a stranger, but how could he have known? This mysterious villian probably presented themselves as the frantic parent, with no idea how their child ended up at the day care but so thankful she had finally been found. Their poor Lucia!
"That's not even her real name," Misty reminded herself. They were tracking a baby Xweetok whose name they didn't know, left in secrecy on her doorstep, and taken away by a face they'd never seen. Then the day care came into view, and her worries multiplied tenfold.
The daycare was closed...
Date: Jul 28th
...Misty put her paws on the window, on either side of the 'closed' sign and hung her head. She felt like a fool, a dangerously irresponsible fool. Probably the most important thing that she had ever been tasked with, and she blew it because she had made the split-second decision to place a gardening meeting over the well-being of a child. "Stupid, stupid, stupid," she hissed, banging her fists against the glass.
The door suddenly swung inward from beneath her paws. Misty stumbled a bit before looking up and seeing Cassie grinning down at her. "We have a winner! 'Stupid, stupid, stupid' was the secret password of the day! Now come on inside and we'll see about finding your prize - namely, the records of child drop-offs and pick-ups."
Cassie grabbed Misty's paw and unceremoniously yanked her into the building before shutting the door. Thankfully, no one had been around to notice. "Cassie, how did you even get in here?" the Cybunny wondered.
"While you were wallowing in self-pity, I got in through the back entrance. Now come on, I walked by the offices on the way to the front. I'll take one set of filing cabinets, you take the other. Let's just hope they sort by date rather than by name," Cassie said.
"Why not by name? You told them her name was Lucia, right?" Misty asked.
"Yeah, but whoever picked her up probably didn't know that. They probably gave the manager a different name. And the manager probably re-filed Lucia based on that second name," her neighbor explained.
When the two girls reached the daycare's office, they split up. Cassie went to the filing cabinets at the back of the room and Misty began to sift through the cabinets in the front. Unfortunately, the children's names appeared to be sorted alphabetically as Cassie had feared. Misty sighed and resigned herself to carefully looking at each sheet and looking for a baby Xweetok dropped off and picked up that day.
She made it to the Bs before she heard Cassie behind her: "Misty, you're gonna want to come here and take a look at this," she said, holding up a slip of paper and biting her lip...
Date: Jul 28th
Misty grasped, it was a picture of the baby Xweetok! It was paper-clipped to a release form and it gave them to exact time as to when "Lucia" was taken.
"Cassie you are a genius!" said the Cybunny as she pawed at the form and investigated it further.
Cassie stood up straight, being very proud of herself at this moment.
"I told you that years ago, only now you finally believe me? Hmph." replied Cassie sarcastically.
Misty was too busy looking at the baby Xweetok's form to have even reply to Cassie but she nodded with a smile.
"So? What's it say?" asked Cassie as she tried to look over the Cybunny's shoulder.
"There's a faint signature at the bottom here. It's by the person who took her but it's messy and I can't quite make it out." Huffed Misty as she sat down at a nearby desk.
"Mind if I take a look again? said Cassie.
"By all means." Misty responded with a sigh in her voice.
Cassie took out her glasses and stared down at the signature.
"Wait, this can't be!" Cassie yelled out to herself.
"Huh? What, what?" the Cybunny's ears perked up with concern as she said it.
And just as Cassie was about to tell Misty what she noticed. They heard someone hurriedly walking into the building.
Date: Jul 29th
The two friends exchanged wide-eyed glances before shuffling behind a nearby desk and crouching closely together so as not be seen. Misty made sure her bushy tail wasn’t sticking out the edge, then strained her ears, wondering if they were about to be in serious trouble. Not only were they breaking and entering, they were accessing confidential files.
“Maybe this was a bad idea,” a deep voice said.
“Shh. Be quiet.”
Misty held up two fingers towards Cassie to indicate mutely that there were two others in the room. Cassie nodded, looking quite petrified. Misty listened closely to the footsteps and then the intruders spoke again.
“We should just go,” the deeper voice said.
“No,” the other hissed. “Otherwise she won’t stop crying. I can’t take the crying anymore. Baby Xweetoks have the highest, most annoying pitch I’ve ever heard!”
“There’s a hundred stuffed toys here. How do we know which one she wants?”
“Just keep looking.”
Baby Xweetok, Cassie mouthed, excitedly.
Without thinking too much about what she was about to do, Misty took a deep breath, and scrambled out from underneath the desk, preparing to confront the Neopets who took Lucia...
Date: Jul 29th
...Misty got a look at the two Neopets who were in the room. There was a red Hissi and a purple Shoyru who were looking around for a little before they noticed Misty standing in the middle of the room. They were both wearing similar outfits, involving dark shirts and pants with the Shoyru wearing a pair of black shoes. After they looked at Misty, she looked back at the desk to see that Cassie was still hiding behind it.
"Are you one of the day care workers?" the Shoyru asked. "If you are, can you help us? We're looking for a toy-"
"No, I am not one of the day care workers," Misty snapped. She stepped threateningly to the Shoyru. "I'm here to take back Lucia."
"Lucia?" the Hissi asked. He didn't seem intimidated at Misty's poor attempt to act tough. "Who's Lucia?"
"The baby Xweetok you took from this day care. Now I want you to give her back to me right now or else?"
"Or else what?" The Hissi laughed. "You know, maybe you could be of use to us, too."
Misty stepped back. She was getting a little worried about what the Hissi meant. At this moment, the Cybunny was scolding herself silently for not carefully thinking her actions.
"What do you mean?" Misty asked.
The Hissi didn't answer her. He just turned to the Shoyru and ordered, "Frank, grab her..."
Date: Jul 29th
The Shoyru didn’t hesitate before grabbing both of Misty’s arms; he threw something over her head, and her field of vision faded slowly to blackness.
Someone was shaking her when she woke up, almost fierce in his forcefulness. To her right, she spotted the purple of the Shoyru - Frank, his accomplice had called him - and a far-off patch of red, which she identified as the Hissi whom had ordered her abduction. They were in a small, dark, chamber, with unfinished walls of concrete, furnished only by a wooden desk in the corner and a few crude chairs.
“If you don’t let me go,” she stammered, “I’ll scream.”
“Don’t bother,” said the Hissi, as he glided over to her other side. “The walls here are soundproof. Let’s make this easy, shall we? My name is Marcus. Do you know who she is?”
He pointed, and for the first time, Misty noticed the playpen set up in the corner of the room, where a baby Xweetok sat and played with a plushie.
“Lucia?” Misty gasped.
“Interesting. How do you know her name?” Marcus asked.
“I named her,” said Misty.
“And how did you find her, exactly?”
“Someone left her in front of my house, with a note asking that I look after her…”
“Very interesting. Frank, are you getting this?”
Frank nodded eagerly, ran to the desk, and picked up a folded piece of paper. “It all fits the description—“
“Someone explain to me what’s going on here,” Misty said, now more confused than anything.
Frank, unfolding the piece of paper, said, “Let’s just say that you’re not the only one who failed to properly care for this child…”
“We’re detectives,” said Marcus. “Private eyes, if you will, and in the last few weeks, several Neopians have found a basket on their sidewalk—“
“With Lucia inside,” Frank added.
“And a note, asking them to look after her. Most of these Neopians have ended up dropping them off at daycare while they work, and by the time they return, someone has picked Lucia up. Problem is, we don’t know who’s doing this, and what their motivation is. It might be easier if we had the note or the basket, but as of now, you’re our only lead…”
Date: Jul 30th
"What do you mean?" Misty asked. The sudden tide of new information had left her head reeling. "I don't know anything!"
"You know more than you think," snapped Marcus. "Think back to the day you found her. Tell us about it."
"I already told you," Misty insisted. She shifted uncomfortably on the chair she sat, wondering if she could run to the door before the two 'detectives' caught up with her. But she'd have to grab Lucia, too. And the door was probably locked, anyway.
"Tell us in detail," demanded the Hissi. Lucia sniffled in the playpen.
Misty sighed in resignation and described the event again. Coming home from work, finding the basket with Lucia in it, taking her to daycare...
"Where was the note?" interrupted Frank.
Misty thought back. "It was Cassie," she said slowly. "She found it stuck to a bush or something like that..."
"My neighbour. I asked her to take Lucia to the daycare while I had a meeting. She found the note after that."
The two detectives cast knowing glances at each other.
"What?" Misty asked. "You think she has something to do with this?"
Frank shuffled the papers he was holding. Marcus glanced back and forth from Lucia to Misty. Finally, his gaze fixed on the Cybunny.
"I think it's possible..."
Date: Jul 30th
... That she's the one behind all this."
Misty wasn't sure what the two were talking about. She had known Cassie for years. They had exchanged recipes and everything! There was nothing about Cassie that she didn't know... at least that she thought she didn't know.
"Ma'am...Misty..." Frank said, "What exactly can you tell us about her.
"She's really gentle, and she's really good at baking pies..." Misty started to say not really sure what they wanted to know, "And she used to... be a teacher?"
"A teacher?" Marcus said, "What's her last name?"
"Cassie Webb." Misty said.
The two detectives looked at each other for a moment as Frank looked through his papers. After a tense minute of shuffling, he pulled out an old Neopian Times article and pushed it to Misty. Slowly, she took up the paper and started to look through it.
"Teacher's entire class goes missing."
As she looked through, she saw that the name of the instructor was Ms Cassie Webb.
"You don't think that..." Misty said to the two detectives.
"I think we're on the right track now." Marcus replied, "With your help, we can save Lucia. Just stick to our plan...."
Date: Jul 31st
She hadn’t been aware that there was a plan - the entire venture seemed fairly haphazard.
Frank drew from his stack of papers a stapled packet, saying, “Cassie Webb doesn’t know that we suspect her involvement here, and we’re going to keep it that way. If there’s any evidence, it’s going to be located—“
“—In her house,” Marcus finished. “Since you’re her neighbor, you probably know all the entrances.”
But something still didn’t seem right to Misty. If Cassie were really the one behind it, she wouldn’t have helped her get into the daycare; it would have made more sense for her to pretend that Lucia did not exist within the daycare’s files and let the whole thing die down…
“—And once you’ve disabled her alarms, we’re going to rush inside, grab Cassie, and look through her house. Got it, Misty?” Marcus was saying.
“Sorry, explain to me again what my part was?” said Misty, having missed the entirety of the explanation.
An hour later, she stood on Cassie’s front porch and rang the doorbell, still not quite believing that the pieces of the puzzle matched up. Cassie, as far as she knew, was a perfectly ordinary Neopian, who had quit her job teaching second graders to become a writer. And yet, as she waited, the ringing of the doorbell echoing in her ear, it seemed as if everything about her neighbor had been a lie.
Misty turned to find Cassie peeking out from one of the bushes growing by her mailbox. “What are you doing?”
“Are they gone? Is it safe to come out?”
Misty scrambled off the porch and down the cobblestoned path. “Cassie, what’s going—“
“I followed you, Misty. They put you under and then took you to this bunker-thing on the edges of Neopia Central. Are you alright?”
“Yeah, I’m fine, but—“
It was at that exact moment that Frank and Marcus appeared from behind the house, prompting Cassie to yelp and throw a brick in their general direction. Her aim, however, was slightly off, and it almost hit Misty instead.
“Grab her!” Marcus shouted.
“It’s them!” Cassie screamed.
Something was really not right here, thought Misty, caught between her neighbor and the detectives in a stand-off on Cassie’s lawn.
“We’ve got to report her to the Defenders of Neopia,” said Frank. “Don’t move.”
“Stop,” Misty said. “No one move. Frank, Marcus, I don’t think Cassie’s to blame here.”
“Then how do you explain her disappearing class?” Marcus snapped, whipping out the Neopian Times clipping with relish.
Cassie gave a loud, impatient, huff. “Is that still news? They figured that out ages ago. Didn’t you read the news the week after? We were on a field trip to the Rainbow Fountain, and accidentally got splashed with the water there. They didn’t disappear, they were invisible. Literally.”
“I really don’t think Cassie is the one behind this,” said Misty slowly. “Maybe this is just all a big misunderstanding.”
They were silent for a moment, until Marcus said, “If it wasn’t her, then who was it?”
With Lucia bundled up in her arms, Misty sat in one of the armchairs in the waiting room of the daycare. On one side of her was Cassie; on the other were Frank and Marcus.
“Misty Forrest?” The daycare manager appeared at the door.
“That’s me,” said Misty.
“I feel like I’ve seen you before,” the manager remarked, none too pleasantly.
“That’s because you have,” said Misty. “I was wondering if you could show me all your records of this baby Xweetok.”
They followed the manager into the office, where the cabinets of files now sat in broad daylight. Misty recalled the pain of rummaging through them when the daycare was closed.
“Here,” said manager, opening the file. “She was picked up by a purple Shoyru named Franklin Emory after being dropped off by a Cassie Webb yesterday.”
“That seems about right,” said Misty. The signature that had seemed faint and messy the day before was now distinguishable as that of Franklin Emory, though the handwriting was still notably messy. “Has she been dropped off here before?”
The manager frowned as he flipped through some of the pages. “In fact, she has. Various Neopians have dropped her off here, but it’s always an agent from the Neopian Pound that comes to pick her up.”
Realization flashed through the four of them all at the same time.
“She’s from the Neopian Pound,” said Cassie.
“Yes. Not an uncommon occurrence, actually. Spending your childhood in the Pound isn’t exactly a happy matter, so sometimes, they try to find homes for the younger Neopians. I suppose your Xweetok here is one of them.”
“I found her on my sidewalk yesterday morning,” said Misty. “I don’t really know if I’m ready to take on a baby right now, but I’d feel really bad if we just sent her back to the Pound.”
“Same,” said Cassie. “Someone has to take her.”
“Perhaps one of you, then,” said the manager, gesturing towards Marcus and Frank.
“But… we’re detectives,” said Marcus, for once, sounding confused and taken aback.
“I don’t know the first thing about being a parent,” added Frank.
Cassie smirked. “It’s not as if you guys know the first thing about being detectives, either, and that hasn’t stopped you.”
Frank and Marcus exchanged glances, and both looked down at Lucia.
“If you cared enough about her to go to all this trouble, then I think it’s worth a shot,” said Misty.
“Most parents don’t really know how to parent at first,” said the manager. “If you end up deciding to adopt her, you should probably go fill out the paperwork at the Pound.”
“Well, Frank,” said Marcus. “What do you think? Is it time to give up our days of solving crime and mystery?”
“I think we could manage it,” said Frank softly.
They exited the daycare building and headed for the pound, down the sidewalk and into the the warmth of the beautiful sunny day.
Date: Jul 31st
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