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||You are on Week 391
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 Three Hundred Ninety One Ends Friday, November 7
"Nyl, Lorari, put that candy away right now and go to bed! I can hear you in there munching on it!"
Nyl rolled his eyes at the sound of his big sister's voice coming from down the hall. "It's the day after Halloween," the young Ruki said to his younger sister, Lorari. "What else would we be eating?"
The little Wocky grinned at him around a mouthful of Halloween Candy Necklace. The two of them had been eating candy almost constantly since getting home after trick-or-treating. They'd even made a pact to eat less at meals to save room for more treats. Their older sister, Cedri, had warned them that they'd get horrible stomach aches from all the sugar, but they figured she was just trying to scare them in the hope that they'd share some of their candy haul with her.
Just then, Cedri stormed into the room. "This is the last time I'm going to warn you. Take one last piece of candy each and then put it away before I take it away."
Grumbling to themselves, Nyl and Lorari both chose a piece of candy -- an Almost Gummy Rat for him and a Chocolate Chia Candy for her -- and put their bags away.
"Good," said Cedri. "Now don't forget to brush your teeth. Good night."
"She's just jealous that she couldn't go trick-or-treating," said Lorari.
Nyl, his mouth full of Almost Gummy Rat, just nodded. He finished chewing and swallowed, but before he could take another bite, his claw started to shake so much that the rat fell out of his hand and landed on the carpet. "Whoa," he murmured. "Maybe Cedri was right about eating too much sugar."
Lorari didn't answer him, but not because her mouth was full of candy. When Nyl looked up, he found that his sister was gone. The bedroom was completely dark and quiet. The Ruki brushed a claw across his forehead and found that he was drenched with sweat.
"What's going on?" he asked. Nyl got to his feet to head for his bedroom door, but before he could walk one step, he slipped on something. Picking up his foot, the Ruki found an Almost Gummy Rat stuck to the bottom of it, only instead of being fresh, the candy was old, half-melted, and covered in dust...
Author: On a Sugar Low|
Date: Nov 3rd
Rukis are, as a species, noted for two things, besides their Lost Desert habitat. One, they have the ability to tolerate extremities of heat by virtue of their thick outer armour, and two, their endurance capability is absolutely first-class: they can travel great distances without tiring, which comes in very handy when they need to travel across the Lost Desert's vast sands.
Nyl, however, utterly redefined 'great distances,' because the Lost Desert's vast sands don't even begin to compare with the infinitely vaster sands of time...
That there was something wrong was obvious to Nyl in the moment that he picked up the desiccated, dried-up piece of Almost Gummy Rat which had been, seconds previously, a juicy treat. Now the Almost Gummy Rat was a Very Gummy Rat, and an unappetising one at that. Nyl slipped the dusty purple piece into his pocket with a frown on his delicately green Ruki features.
"Lorari? Cedri? Where are you?" called Nyl.
His only answer was an oppressive silence. Nyl shuddered and looked around at the familiar shadowy outlines of his room, only to notice that all of his furniture was thickly coated in dust, and the Jazzmosis posters that he had proudly taped to his walls were yellowed and curling at the edges, and everything looked very, very old.
Nyl tasted the dusty air on his tongue, smelt the mustiness of the room, and felt, somewhere deep below his thick Ruki armour, that he was miserably, horribly out of place.
"Or out of time, rather..." Nyl remarked in vague bewilderment to himself as he stepped toward the window. He pulled aside his curtains (whose Eliv Thade print had faded almost past recognition) and with a quick movement of his claw, cleared away a circular patch of dust, and looked out --
And what he saw there shocked him to stillness, save for the terrified trembling which set his antennae quivering on his head...
Date: Nov 3rd
There was nothing left. Nothing. Nyl knew what he should have seen, and he knew that the desolate landscape he saw before him now was definitely not it.
Everything was... flat. That was the only word for it that Nyl could come up with -- that, and wrong. He'd grown up in the Haunted Woods, surrounded by dark shadows and monsters and, well, trees.
There were no trees here. Or if there had been, once upon a time, then they had long since been leveled and blown away as dust on the wind. It was a whole different place, certainly not the Haunted Woods. And yet this was still his house, and Nyl saw no way how the whole building could have moved. He stared out the window, at the flat desert that reached into the distance, shaking his head, his throat catching. Scared.
"I don't... I don't understand," he whispered. He wished Cedri was here, so then maybe she could explain it to him. She was the smart one, after all. "I don't get it."
"Nothing to be ashamed of," a brightly chipper voice said. "No one understands their first time. Time travel is a bit more complicated than that."
The Ruki shrieked in surprise, hitting notes that would have made any soprano envious.
"Oh, come on. I'm not that scary looking."
Something rustled in Nyl's pocket, something was moving. He opened his mouth to scream again.
"I'll thank you to save my ears," the Almost Gummy Rat grumbled as it clambered out of the pocket. "Well, no, technically my ear, since you took a bite out of the other one."
Nyl could only blink in surprise.
"Ah, they sent me a young'un this time," the piece of candy said. "Good. You kids learn faster than the others."
Others? What others?
"Who knows?" the Almost Gummy Rat continued, half to itself. "We might even manage to save Neopia this time around..."
Date: Nov 4th
"Who... what are you?" Nyl asked as the Almost Gummy Rat jumped onto his wrist and scurried up his arm.
Chuckling softly, the Almost Gummy Rat replied, "That's the question, isn't it? Technically, I'm not really here, but then, technically neither are you. I am the Temporal Guide, the link between the eternity of time and the finite lifespan allotted to all living creatures. Without me, no one would experience their lives as a straight progression of events; everyone would be jumping forward and backward all of the time. But more importantly, I am a projection this link in your subconscious mind."
"I... I don't understand. You're a talking Almost Gummy Rat. And this," Nyl swept his right arm to indicate the dystopian view outside his window and strained his neck to look at the being now sitting on his left shoulder. "This is where the Haunted Woods used to be. Where my home used to be. Who are you and where are we?" The Ruki's voice rose in pitch and volume until it ended in a shrill squeak.
"Listen, kid," the Almost Gummy Rat replied gently, "I am a talking Almost Gummy Rat because that is the form that your subconscious created. Can you imagine if I had approached you as a Sludge Monster? Or as a Rainbow Uni Faerie Plushie?" Nyl winced at the thought of having a conversation with either of those. "We're in a place where words like 'who' and 'where' don't really have any meaning. We are currently outside of time and space, in the void before infinite possibility. I am sent to you -- but more properly it can be said that you summoned me -- to guide you through the process of time travel. You have inadvertently opened the portal, and now you must take responsibility for it."
"Time travel? I can go anywhere I want?" Nyl narrowed his eyes as he began to imagine the possibilities.
The Almost Gummy Rat chuckled and replied, "Well, yes, you can go just about anywhere, and anywhen, but remember I said you have responsibilities." As Nyl began to protest, the Almost Gummy Rat interrupted, "When you opened the portal, you didn't just affect yourself. You have affected all of Neopia. More important to you, perhaps, is the fact that you have trapped your sisters in the abyss." Nyl's emerging excitement deflated into trepidation and remorse. "Aha, I thought that might interest you."
"But what do I do?" Nyl asked resignedly.
"You must reopen the portal."
"But... how? I don't know how to do that."
"Well, you may not know how in your conscious mind, but remember, I come from somewhere... deeper. Until you learn to control the process, you simply need to do again what you were doing when it happened the first time."
Nyl tried to remember what he had been doing, and looking down at the Almost Gummy Rat, it suddenly dawned on him.
"That's right," said the Almost Gummy Rat brightly. "Now, would you prefer the other ear? Or would you like to go for the tail?"
Nyl grasped the Almost Gummy Rat in his claws, and closing his eyes, he took a tentative nibble at its remaining ear. Just as before, Nyl began to shake uncontrollably...
Date: Nov 4th
When he opened his eyes, he was standing in a grassy field. The sky was a beautiful blue, with puffy white clouds chasing each other, pushed about by a pleasant breeze.
It was a pleasant change of scenery from the void outside of time and space.
"Good work, kid. You did it," said the Almost Gummy Rat, who now had a sizable chunk taken out of the ear Nyl had nibbled.
"Where... I mean when are we now?" Nyl asked.
"We're in the Haunted Woods, of course," said the Almost Gummy Rat. "Of course, it hasn't grown yet. It's still... oh, I don't know..." the Almost Gummy Rat tilted his head to the side. "...probably a few thousand years, give or take a century, until the forest even starts to sprout."
"Oh," said Nyl. "Why are we here?"
"You tell me. You're the one who brought us here."
"Well, I... you know I can't control my ability yet!"
"Look, I'm trying to help you learn how to do it. Now, what were you thinking about when you took a bite out of my ear?"
"Well, I just wanted to go back home."
"And home you went. You left your house behind, though. A bit clumsy of you, but you're still a beginner. You're still thinking in terms of place, though. You need to understand that you're not just travelling in your average three dimensions any more -- you've got a fourth to worry about. Now, try again." The Almost Gummy Rat proffered his tail. "Don't just focus on the place -- focus on the time. What was it like? How was the weather? How tall were the trees? What phase was the moon in? All of these things are what time-travellers call 'markers.' It's a bit more accurate than just going by feel. Now, try it out."
Nyl hadn't measured the trees around his house lately, but he did know that the moon had been full, and the night had been crisp and cool. The Ruki closed his eyes and took a bite off the tip of the Almost Gummy Rat's tail.
Once more, he began to shake uncontrollably, and then he was back home, standing in a spot of bare ground where his house should have been. But he could tell that he was in the right time.
"Nice work. Now, we need to get your sisters out of the abyss, and then we'll have to get to the real business of saving Neopia."
"Where and when is the abyss?"
"Good question. I see you're starting to get the picture of time-travelling, but unfortunately there's no real answer to your question. See, you remember how I said the void was the place before infinite possibilities?"
Nyl nodded. The Almost Gummy Rat continued: "Well, the abyss is after."
"The abyss is what everything will become, after all the stars have gone out and all the worlds have grown cold."
"It's... the end?"
"Well, in a manner of speaking. You might also say it's the beginning... but I'm getting off-topic here. It's not the sort of place you can get to by thinking about a time and a location. It's a bit more complicated than that."
"Then how am I supposed to save my sisters?"
"I'm getting there. The abyss has no real features. Even the void, where we were, had a ground. The abyss doesn't even have that! There are no features you can focus on, and no markers you can use. You've got to use something else to get there."
"Tell me -- what's the one thing you know that's in the abyss? Or the two things, I should say."
"My sisters... so you're saying I need to focus on going where and when they are?"
"Precisely. Here, go for the tail again, would you?"
Nyl nodded, closed his eyes, and focused on thinking about his sisters. Then, slowly, he took a bite...
Date: Nov 5th
Once again the uncontrollable shaking took hold of Nyl's limbs, and once again it subsided -- and Nyl knew the moment that he opened his eyes that he was looking upon the abyss. It was a dim, immeasurably large expanse, a primeval infinite beyond Nyl's limited powers of conception so vast that it pained him to look at it.
Nyl felt also the real meaning of his Almost Gummy Rat's real title, the Temporal Guide: the sticky rat was drawing him through the half-light of the abyss by some irresistible force, a pull that was keeping the particles that formed Nyl together in this space outside of time and outside of place.
Nyl felt alternately as though he were plunging to a horrific depth and as though he were swooping upward to incalculable heights as he and the Almost Gummy Rat traversed the abyss toward the two things anchoring Nyl's thoughts: his sisters.
Finally there appeared in the distance two specks, specks which enlarged at speed as Nyl thought harder and harder about Lorari and Cedri.
Cedri's fluffy Wocky form and Lorari's extravagant Usul tail finally sharpened into view, and before he knew it, Nyl had floated to a halt in front of them.
His sisters were floating in a peaceful semblance of sleep, something which prompted Nyl shout at them, then push them, then shove them -- but all of his efforts to elicit a reaction were in vain.
"Nope," said the Almost Gummy Rat. "That won't work, kid."
"What do you mean?" Nyl asked, fighting the rising panic that threatened to push him over the edge of reason as the absurdity this situation pressed upon his mind. "What's the matter with them? What do I have to do?"
"There's nothing the matter with them, as far as I can tell," said the Almost Gummy Rat after a concerned pause. "Only the same thing that's the matter with everyone else in Neopia, now that you've been dabbling with chronological progression..."
Nyl looked at the Rat sitting in the palm of his hand. It was curling one of its gummy whiskers as it considered their next move.
"They don't pay me enough for this," the Almost Gummy Rat finally concluded. "Sheesh.
"Okay, kid. Grab your sisters -- hold them tightly, now, and think back to your house. You know the drill. Get us out of here."
Nyl obediently grasped the nerveless paws of each of his sisters and took a bite out of the Almost Gummy Rat's underbelly.
The shaking began again, and it lasted, from what Nyl could tell as his brain was rattling around in his skull, far longer than usual -- and when the shaking receded, the Almost Gummy Rat laid limp and unmoving in Nyl's hand.
"Are you all right?" Nyl asked in consternation.
"M'okay. The abyss really takes it out of a guy," replied the Temporal Guide, and he made a determined effort to seat himself in Nyl's palm. "But look, we made it."
Nyl looked and found that he was once again in his room as it had been when he had taken his first bite out of the Almost Gummy Rat -- except that his sisters were lying in a heap on the floor, apparently in profound slumber.
"Don't worry about them, they'll be fine," said the Almost Gummy Rat as Nyl looked sadly upon his motionless sisters.
The Rat gave Nyl a gentle prod. "You remember when we first met, I mentioned saving Neopia?"
"Yes..." said Nyl.
"Well, we're about to get started. Take another bite, kid, we're off to yesterday."
Nyl brought the Almost Gummy Rat to his mouth and nibbled another piece.
"Aw," said the Almost Gummy Rat, "that was my favourite foot, too..."
And the shaking began again...
Date: Nov 5th
The familiar objects in his room zoomed past Nyl at the speed of light, stretching out infinitely toward a fixed point on the horizon, and then receding back into their appropriate shapes like a rubber band stretched and snapped. As he watched, like a ghost unseen by the participants, the events leading up to the unlocking of the Time Portal replayed themselves: trick-or-treating with Lorari; sneaking his candy stash into his room; feeding his dinner of Eyrie Meatloaf to his yellow Donksaur to save more room for candy; sneaking more candy after dinner; refusing to brush his teeth before bed; sneaking even more candy; and then popping the final Almost Gummy Rat into his mouth. At that point, the scene went blurry, like the static of an untuned Neovision video.
"There," said the Almost Gummy Rat. "Did you see what happened?"
"Yes," replied the Ruki. "I think so. I ate the first magic Almost Gummy Rat and..."
"Magic? No, no, no. This isn't magic, kid, it's science. That was an ordinary Almost Gummy Rat, and I am a projection of your own mind, like... like a metaphor."
"So, you're not real?"
"Oh, I am real, even if this form is not. I am within you and outside you, and within everyone you have ever met, everywhere and everywhen. Let's replay this again, and maybe this time you'll see what I wanted you to see."
With a wave of his little purple paw, the Almost Gummy Rat stretched and snapped the temporal reality, rewinding the scene to right before Nyl ate the actual Almost Gummy Rat. "Pay attention," he instructed. "Right... there!"
Nyl couldn't believe what he was seeing. At the exact moment that he popped that grapey treat into his mouth, a huge, circular metal door, like a door in the vaults of the National Neopian Bank, appeared for a fraction of a fraction of a second behind Lorari and then it disappeared, taking his sister with it.
"What was that?" he asked incredulously.
"Why don't you take a closer look? You're the time traveller. Here, a whisker should do it."
Nyl took a small bite of the Almost Gummy Rat's whisker and concentrated on the mysterious metal door. The scene flipped like the pages of a book until he was standing in front of the door, running his claws over the strange symbols covering its face, what he took to be writing in an unfamiliar language. As he examined these markings, they began to glow yellow and orange, and twelve arrowheads of red light appeared around the perimeter of the door, like the face of an alien clock. At that moment, the door flung open with a whoosh of air, sucking Lorari into the abyss and setting the Nyl of yesterday into convulsions. And then it disappeared into the nothingness from which it came, leaving the static of nothingness behind.
Nyl raised the Almost Gummy Rat to eye-level and asked in a trembling voice, "If that wasn't magic, what was it?"
"Science!" replied the Almost Gummy Rat triumphantly. "And who is the mad scientist behind this plot?" Nyl stared blankly, so the Almost Gummy Rat sighed and continued, "I really don't get paid enough for this. Scientist? Creator of the Time Tunnel? Bent on world domination?"
Nyl barely breathed his startled response, "Sloth."
"Right you are, kid. His research led him to the conclusion that to master time, and all of Neopia through it, he needed to collect disobedience. Every one of your defiant actions yesterday, every act of willful disobedience, was an agent or a reagent in his formula. Science!"
"So... I really did cause all of this? I helped Sloth by not listening to Cedri? By misbehaving?"
"You're not the first, kid, and certainly not the worst. Sloth has been at this for a very long time, and since he is in control of time, this is replaying itself everywhere and everywhen all over Neopia. But, the fact that you are outside of the plot gives us a chance to stop him."
"What do I do?"
"Well, it's pretty simple really," said the Almost Gummy Rat with an encouraging smile. "You need to activate the Portal again, and keeping your sisters in the back of your mind as temporal and spatial anchors, you enter the Time Tunnel and destroy it once and for all. Then you hope you have enough control over the abyss to re-enter your life at the right point."
Nyl swallowed, hard, and managed to squeak out, "Simple?"
The Almost Gummy Rat wagged the stump of his tail at the terrified Ruki and said, "This is going to take a big bite, probably half of what's left of me, and if I were you I'd leave my front half to get you back home again."
Nyl closed his eyes and took half of the Almost Gummy Rat between his chattering teeth. As he chewed, he watched the familiar scene rewind to the appropriate point, and readied himself to jump...
Date: Nov 6th
...the vibrant colours streaming past him seemed to shake, each scene lingering in his eyes. Only moments later, the door appeared.
"Jump!" yelled the remaining half of the Almost Gummy Rat.
And Nyl took a leap. A leap of faith, of science, of hope. A leap for his sisters, and for all of Neopia.
The door quickly approached, causing the Ruki to realise something in fear.
"How am I supposed to open it?" he asked the Almost Gummy Rat frantically, but he received no reply. The scared Neopet flew toward the closed door, watching the ring of triangles zoom toward him.
The closed door quickly approached Nyl, taunting him with its impermeability.
"No," he said determinedly. "The door is nothing. It can't stop me, not here or whenever we are."
But his focused thoughts did nothing. The door stayed there, as thick and strong as ever. Nyl closed his eyes, waiting for the impact that would jar him back into reality.
But there was none.
When Nyl opened his eyes again, there was no door in front of him...
Date: Nov 6th
There was only a dizzying swirl of colour, on and on, a tunnel without end. The Time Tunnel. It led in all directions, it led to everywhen. Landscapes flicked past, voices faded, shadows curled away into infinity. Doors appeared and disappeared. There were infinite possibilities here, but Nyl wanted only one...
"Cedri, Lorari," he whispered. "I'm doing this for you. I'll free you."
And with that one focal point in his mind, everything seemed to crystallise. He moved forward, the sticky remnant of the Almost Gummy Rat clutched tightly in his claw.
"How do I destroy the tunnel?" he asked the Rat. "Where's... the switch?"
A dial came rushing into view, a metal ring, silently glowing. Time floated around that formidable machine, waiting for his touch.
"There is no simple switch, kid," sighed the Rat. "You'll have to use your willpower. With the same strength that you once resisted Cedri and reached for the candy, you'll have to face this problem and solve it."
The symbols burned into Nyl's vision and grew blurry.
"Oh come on, you can't afford to cry. You have the whole of Neopia to save!"
Nyl blinked hard, reached forward, and started working on the dial. He lined up the first set of coloured symbols. Nothing.
The rat wriggled impatiently. "Not quite that easy," he prodded. "You didn't follow Cedri's advice, now did you? Your will was entirely a different colour from hers."
"That's right," whispered Nyl, thinking.
He lined up colour after colour. Purple, for the Almost Gummy Rat, the symbol of his own disobedience and the powers he had accidentally let loose. Yellow, for the warmth of Cedri's sunny personality, even when he and Lorari were so hard to handle... and white, the innocence of his little sister, whom he had led astray.
Two more colorus. Green, for Neopia, his home and his place in spacetime. And finally yellow again, for hope.
"There you go," said the Almost Gummy Rat with a sigh of relief, as the machine started to click and whirl. "Now my work here is complete, and we can say goodbye. Eat the rest of me, but think carefully -- make sure you return to the proper place in your life."
Nyl nodded. "Thanks for all your help," he said.
But as he raised the rat to his mouth, he felt an overwhelming surge of fear. From now on he would be alone. If he didn't do it right, he might end up lost...
"Hurry, kid, the Tunnel is dissolving."
Squeezing his eyes tightly shut, Nyl crammed the rest of the rat into his mouth, and felt the world swerve...
Date: Nov 7th
Nyl groaned softly, keeping his eyes screwed tight shut. The process had never taken so long before, but he could still feel himself being thrown around the collapsing Time Tunnel, and the sensation, along with the sticky remains of grape-flavoured Almost-Gummy Rat pasted like glue over the roof of his mouth, was starting to make him nauseous.
"When will it stop?" he moaned out loud as his body was jerked upward again.
"Right now, if you know what's good for you! I told you two to stop eating candy and get ready for bed!" Cedri's voice cut into Nyl's consciousness, and he blinked his eyes open, startled by how close and how normal it sounded.
He was back in his room. Cedri, awake and healthy, was standing in the doorway and tutting in annoyance as she watched Lorari jump up and down on Nyl's bed. His littlest sister was giggling madly, while each bounce threw Nyl's body up into the air. She clutched the melting leftovers of a Chocolate Chia Candy in one white fluffy paw, but that didn't stop Nyl from sitting up and grabbing her in a sudden tight hug.
They were okay. His sisters, and the whole of Neopia, were safe and happy.
"And what did I say about too much candy being bad for you? You're getting overexcited, Lorari, and Nyl's looking even greener than usual. Are you all right, Nyl? Although it would serve you right if you really had made yourself sick."
Well, Cedri wasn't all that happy. Nyl didn't care if she was mad at him, even though he'd just saved the world. He still leapt up to give her a hug, too. It was clear no one else remembered a thing, but he knew he had to put right what he'd done wrong. It felt good to know he was in control of his own mind, now that Sloth's evil machinations had been completely and utterly thwarted. Nyl smiled up at his sister. "You were right, Cedri. Everything would have been better if we'd only done what you said all along. In fact, I'm going to brush my teeth right now!"
Nyl bolted out of the room toward the bathroom, leaving his two sisters baffled by the sudden bout of good behaviour. He meant to keep it up, this time. In the bathroom, Nyl squeezed a line of Pea Flavoured Toothpaste onto his brush and stared into the mirror.
"I do think I'll miss that Gummy Rat, though."
As he watched, the mirror turned a hazy shade of purple. "I'll still be around, kid, if you need me again. Just try not to make it too soon."
Nyl smiled and nodded. "I promise." Then he slowly set about brushing the last traces of sugar from his teeth.
Date: Nov 7th
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