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Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)

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Week 194
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Week 196

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 One Hundred and Ninety-Five Ends September 17th

Shayla
"Ugh!" the speckled Shoyru groaned as she lifted the musty old box. "The dust in this attic is unbearable! Has anyone ever cleaned this place? Evan, could you give me a hand over here?"

Evan
Evan, a silver Poogle, had been rummaging through some things he'd found in an old shoebox when his big sister's request had disrupted him. "Uh... sure thing, sis." he responded, setting the shoebox aside to lend a hand.

Grabbing one end of the box, they carefully made their way down the steps before setting the carton of ornaments down in the hallway below.

"So uh, Shayla... do you know anything about the folks who used to own this place?" Evan asked as they set the box down.

"Not really," Shayla answered while brushing the dust from her blouse. "I mean, from what I've heard, they seemed like pretty standard folks..." she said while reaching for a dustcloth, which she then used to wipe the cobwebs and grime from the box of ornaments. "Why?"

"Because," Evan said with a hint of hesitation in his voice. "I think I've found something that you need to see..."

Author: Your Nosy Neighbour
Date: 13 September
...Her curiousity piqued, Shayla followed her little brother back up the creaky old attic steps. Evan rummaged his way through stacks of dusty old cardboard boxes, hat stands, and various pieces of furniture that had once been grand and stylish, but were now just mounds of moth-eaten cushions and broken springs.

"I saw this old shoebox and started looking through it," Evan began. He held up the shoebox and sifted through the items inside, which included a faded black-and-white picture, a tiny lock of amber hair, a satin ribbon, and..."I found this diary." Shayla gently lifted up the leatherbound book, with golden script monogrammed on the front cover. The Diary of Annie Hoogle, it read. Shayla leafed through the pages yellowed with age, careful not to rip the fragile paper.

"It's just a diary, Evan, nothing special," she told him, with a hint of annoyance. "Whoever Annie Hoogle was, she kept a diary like everyone else."

"But, sis," Evan protested, snatching away the diary with not quite as much care as his sister. "Did you actually read the entries? Look, this one right here.

9th Day of the Month of Gathering
'Dear Diary,
Something really strange is happening. Remember that crazy old Techo I told you about the other day? Well, strange as it may seem, I am actually starting to believe what he said. What if a curse really has been put on this house? See, today I was walking by the grandfather clock in the hallway, at noontime just before luncheon. The clock chimed twelve times exactly, just as it should. But then, the hands began spinning around and around, so fast I felt dizzy and sick like that time I went sailing with Father. The hands stopped again right at twelve, and then chimed twelve more times. And they spun around again, and then stopped one last time at twelve to chime twelve times. After that, the hands acted normal, so perhaps it was just my headache from the other day acting up again. I really don't know. Well, Mother is calling for lights out now, so good night to you. Annie.'"

"Evan, you read too many ghost stories," Shayla said, chiding her brother. "Curses just don't happen to normal people." She turned to leave the attic.

"But Shayla, the last entry, dated the 12th day of the month of Gathering, it ends right in mid-sentence. Listen:

'Dear Diary,
That curse must be true. The clock phenomenon, that was the first part. Three strikes come twelve. And then, when we had no moon directly after a full moon, that was the second part. Three strikes come twelve. Curse the blackness of a moonless night. Miss the full moon at its plight. That means, the last part shall happen today, Diary. The Techo said each part would come on its own day. Oh dear, the last part was--'

It just ended right there, Shayla. How do we know what that last part was? It doesn't say it in any other entry."

Shayla stared at her brother. "I think I know," she whispered, her voice trembling slightly...

Author: neoglitz5
Date: 13 September

...She stood up and walked towards the corner of the room where a pile of boxes was gathered. She pushed them out of the way, and with each box that moved, a loud ticking sound became evident.

Evan's eyes widened slightly as an old grandfather clock was revealed. "It can't be the same one she mentioned in her diary, right?"

Shayla nodded solemnly. "And look," she gestured at the small hand pointing to 4. "This says it is already afternoon. And I am fairly sure it is; after all we've been cleaning this place out since the morning already."

Evan frowned. "And what is so odd about that?"

"Evan," she said softly, gesturing at the tiny window, "It is still night!"

"Can't be!" Evan looked out the window only to find that his sister had been correct. It was pitch-black outside.

"I think," Shayla continued, "that the last part is that old Neopian saying, you know: 'There is never a day without a night.'"

Evan let the words sink in for a moment, then frowned. "But sis, who would want to erase day?"

Shayala sighed. "I don't know, Evan, I don't know..."

Author: friends4ever_4ever
Date: 14 September
...At this, the small Poogle sat down suddenly, looking quite pale, while Shayla started to pace back and forth across the attic.

From what the diary said, whatever was happening was obviously related to the grandfather clock in the corner somehow... but how? She walked over to it and examined the hands. It occurred to her then that the position of the hands could mean either morning or evening. The second thing she noticed was the strange markings on both hands. A picture of the sun was intricately carved into the hour hand, and the minute hand had a picture of the moon. This was shocking enough in itself; Kreludor had only been discovered recently.

The third thing Shayla noticed was how the big hand was positioned in front of the little hand. At twelve o'clock, the picture of the moon would be completely covering the picture of the sun. Shayla went to the window and peered out again. There was a very faint glow emanating from the east, only just light enough to cast a dark silhouette of the hills before it... just like it would be at about four in the morning.

A strange thought entered Shayla's head then, and she returned to the clock. She grabbed the big hand and pushed it about half an hour ahead. The sky outside grew distinctively lighter. Before she had a chance to think of anything else, Evan jumped up from the box he was sitting on.

"Wow!" he shouted. "Let me have a go!"

He scrambled up a chest of drawers near the clock, and before Shayla could protest, grabbed the big hand and spun it fully around twice. The sky went from grey to pink to red, and the sun shot up from behind the hills. As this happened, Kreludor shot forward across the sky towards the sun.

"How awesome is this?!" he cried. "A clock that can control the sun!"

Shayla, however, was overcome by a feeling of dread. She grabbed the hand again and tried to spin it backwards, only to be met with a creaking and groaning sound. The pendulum below was driving the hands forward, only much slower than they should have been. It seemed like every tick and tock was a struggle for the clock, and she doubted it would keep going past twelve, when Kreludor would be fully blocking the sun.

"Evan... if we don't find whoever has cursed this clock, we may never see the light of day again..."

Author: tedsgloong
Date: 15 September

..."Perhaps it has something to do with this photo," Evan suggested. In the excitement of finding the diary, they had forgotten about the other items inside the shoebox. Shayla dug up the photo and stared at it. The picture had been taken in a garden, which was probably outside this very house. The Poogle in the picture, a young girl in a pink dress and bow, seemed familiar somehow.

"Why do you think the diary entry just stopped mid-sentence?" Evan asked. "Do you think this has happened before?"

Yes, Shayla thought. Perhaps that was why they had put the grandfather clock in the attic in the first place. However, it must have been a very long time ago, long before we were ever born.

"Why would anyone curse a clock anyway?" Evan continued.

Shayla wasn't listening to him, though. She had the photo very close to her nose now, and then suddenly she said, "The old Techo!"

"Wha- what?"

"In Annie's diary, she mentions an old Techo. Look at this photo." She pointed out a shadowy shape in the top far-right corner of the picture. It looked like someone standing halfway hidden behind a hedge.

"It's a Techo, alright - couldn't mistake those squishy fingers for anything else," Evan said after a full minute of inspection.

Shayla's head was spinning with ideas. The only old Techo she knew had passed away last winter. He had been the gardener here at the Manor for years and years. Was it possible that he was the old Techo whom Annie had referred to in her diary? He had tried to warn her about the curse. Maybe he had known all about it. Could he have told others? There was his grandson Jed, the under-gardener.

"Come on!" Shayla cried to her little brother as she flew down the attic stairs.

"Where are we going?" Evan asked.

"To follow the only clue we have!"...

Author: credocola
Date: 15 September
...As the two Neopets raced through the house and burst out the door, they did not anticipate the events happening outside.

All of the house workers and a few neighbors were gathered outside, gazing up at the sky.

"Did you see that?" a Kacheek maid asked, turning to one of her companions.

"The sky, it... it changed!" a Techo whispered, mystified.

"It was like three days passed over in five seconds' time!"

More excited whispers could be heard from the crowd. Shayla and Evan glanced nervously at each other.

"Where's Jed?" Shayla asked her brother, looking around. Jed was sitting on a rock over by the shed, arranging a bouquet of flowers. He didn't even seem slightly curious about what was going on.

"He must know something," Evan said, rushing over to the gardener before Shayla could protest.

"Jed! Hey, Jed! We need to talk to you!" he yelled out, catching the young Techo's attention. Jed glanced up, wide-eyed with surprise, then hurried into the shed and slammed the door. Shayla caught up with Evan, and together, the two Neopets tried to persuade him to come out. However, Jed ignored them.

Shayla pounded on the door, creating a loud racket that the other Neopets couldn't help but notice. Soon, the crowd went to the shed, looking at Shayla as if she were crazy.

"What?" Shayla said, glaring at them. "Can you make him come out?"

They shook their heads, some of them looking at the Shoyru with disgust.

"Don't you know what happened last time?" the Kacheek maid said. "Last time the sky changed?"

Shayla shook her head, slightly intrigued. Did everyone in the household know what was going on?

The Kacheek sighed. "The last time the sky changed so quickly, Jed's grandfather disappeared..."

Author: ninaj26
Date: 16 September

...Shayla was so stunned that she didn't know what to say. The crowd did not expect her to say anything, and soon returned to wondering about what was going on. Shayla knew it would be painful, but she had to get Jed's help. The whole of Neopia could be in danger. She reached out her paw to knock on the door again, when a voice stopped her.

"That, young lady, shan't be needed. Spare a Neopet from any more pain, when his past suffering has already cut a wound deep within his heart."

She spun around and saw an old, pale Techo slouched against a wall. Evan followed his sister's gaze and soon noticed the stranger, too.

"Who are you?" Shayla asked, both surprised and suspicious.

"Mine name should not be any concern of thine, young lady, though rest assured that I am no Giant Ghostkerchief nor any such fiend," the Techo responded with a chuckle.

Evan cocked his head to the side. "Where do they teach people to talk like that, sis?" the Poogle asked Shayla without turning around.

The Techo blinked a few times, as if surprised. He then chuckled once more. "Yes, yes. It has been so long since Lady... I mean Miss Hoogle lived here. I have already forgotten the new way Neopets have with words - supposedly straight and to the point, but still so lacking in terms of..." the Techo's voice trailed off as he muttered under his nose.

"Wait! You have known Annie Hoogle?" Shayla was shocked, but her stare remained hard. "Who are you?" she asked, repeating her earlier question more forcefully.

"Oh well, let's just say I was the first one, a long time ago. Since then I've kept to myself, only sometimes emerging to help my descendants keep the position of gardener. Still, there are things that could help you understand my actions, even if you consider them unfair. I mean, who wouldn't want to help his family and..." The Techo slowly started mumbling again.

Evan jumped impatiently. "What about Annie Hoogle? What happened to her?" he nearly shouted.

The Techo immediately stopped talking and stiffened. His shoulders slumped, and his face darkened. "Annie Hoogle was a good but unlucky person. I realised that too late. That's why I'm here. That's why I'm going to help you beat it." The Techo's tone was deadly serious. The siblings backed a step away.

"Help us beat what?" they asked in unison.

A shadow of a smile appeared on the Techo's lips as he responded, "The evil of this house, but in some ways... even time itself."

As the Techo gesticulated, Shayla could swear that one of his hands had passed right through the other...

Author: xelzitrone
Date: 16 September
...Evan, who had not noticed what his sister had, jumped to the point. "Well, let's go then! What are we waiting for?"

Still wearing that strange half-smile, the Techo offered a shadow of a wink to Shayla, then whispered, "Meet me here when the clock strikes twelve midnight. Remember, midnight."

Before the siblings could even respond, he turned and melted into the bushes, which were now completely lit by the sun.

Shayla was the first to turn back to the house. Evan followed, glancing back at the bushes, which hadn't moved in the slightest when the Techo passed through them.

The siblings went straight up to the attic, resuming their cleaning job. Evan kept looking up at the clock, which was innocently ticking away the seconds until their next meeting with the strange gardener. Silently, he picked up the diary and leafed through its pages... only to find that every last one was blank. "Shayla! The diary! It's blank now; there's no writing!"

His sister hurried over, eyes wide. The paper itself seemed to have changed its state to something between liquid and solid, and it glinted in the beam of light shining from a hole in the roof. Shayla stared at the material. Tentatively, she said, "I'll try writing on it. Maybe it'll... come back or something..."

Taking a pen from her pocket, she wrote a single word: "Hello."

Nothing could have prepared them for what happened next.

The ink spread into the outline of a clock, whose hands spun and stopped at twelve. It then melted into three desperate words: "LET ME OUT!"...

Author: creamypeach507
Date: 17 September

...Shayla gasped as the book dropped from her hands.

"Who could be in the book?" Evan asked.

"I don't know..." his sister hesitantly answered. "We could try writing something else." Shayla picked the book up and wrote, "Who are you?"

The clock appeared a second time, then the ink formed into a name: "I'm ANNIE HOOGLE!"

Shayla looked at Evan with disbelief in her eyes. Could it really be Annie Hoogle, or was the curse tricking them?

"I guess we should just wait 'till tonight to find out," Evan suggested. Shayla nodded in agreement.

* * * * *

"Evan, do you have the diary?" Shayla whispered. Evan nodded as he showed it to her. They had to wait awhile, but at the stroke of midnight, the old Techo finally appeared.

"Why did you bring the diary?" he asked, confused.

"We think that Annie Hoogle is trapped in it," the two said in unison.

The Techo's eyes widened suddenly. "That is it!" he screamed, "You hold the evil in your very paws! DROP IT! NOW!!!"

"Are you sure it's still evil?" Evan asked, with a very disturbing grin on his face.

"Evan, what are you talking about?" However, as Shayla looked at her brother's face, she could tell that it was not him. "Who are you?!?" she screamed at the imposter.

The Poogle cackled mischievously. "Can't you tell??" he asked, then the Poogle that Shayla had believed to be her brother changed into a large red Poogle with demon-like eyes. "I'm Annie Hoogle!"

Shayla and the Techo froze, astounded by the size of the ghostly creature.

"Where is my brother?" Shayla asked, mustering all the courage she could to speak to this vile thing in front of her.

"Right here," Annie said, showing her the diary.

Shayla gasped. "How long have you been pretending to be Evan?"

"Oh, about five hours... while you were off doing other things, your foolish little brother was looking at this diary." She waved the diary in Shayla's face, but pulled it back before she could grasp it. "So, I switched places with him..." she said, cackling evilly.

"MISTRESS ANNIE!!" a voice screamed. The Poogle and Shoyru looked to see that the Techo had been the one who'd called out. "You ended my life as I locked you in that diary... you might've gotten me, but I will NOT let you harm these children!!!" he screamed. "Shayla... restrain Annie! She hasn't recovered her full power yet!" The Poogle obeyed, diving behind Annie and gripping the Poogle's arms behind her back.

Jed, who had heard something going on, finally came out of the shed and saw the ghostly form of... his grandfather, who seemed to be reciting some kind of spell at the restrained Poogle.

"Oh, that which is evil, come to me now!
For now, I shall seal thy vow!
Come to where secrets lie deed
And you shall enter the hidden sleep!!!

Everything went silent as the ghost concluded his incantation. Shayla looked at Annie Hoogle; terror was all over her face, and she began screaming as she was swallowed by a swirling vortex.

"You may have trapped me for now, but I swear upon it... I SHALL RETURN!!!!" The book fell to the ground, and Shayla gasped as the form of her brother appeared, groaning, on the ground.

* * * * *

"So, tell me again what happened..." Evan asked the next morning.

"Technically, you were kidnapped by the ghost of Annie Hoogle, but you're safe now... Jed and I burned the diary last night. The Poogle smiled at the Techo, who was sitting in a chair sipping coffee.

"My grandfather has finally been avenged," he whispered. "I would like to thank you, Shayla and Evan. If it weren't for you, who knows what havoc that ghost could have caused. Is there anything I can do for you in return?"

The siblings smiled. "We're just happy we could help," Shayla said.

"Of course," Evan added with a grin, "We could use some help finishing up with the attic."

The End

Author: niara4
Date: 17 September



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