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||You are on Week 399
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 Nine Ends Friday, January 16
The old house seemed nearly alive, its half-rotten walls almost appearing to breathe as the torchlight played across their surface. From deep in the halls of the house there came a loud, long groan, like the yawn of a monster coming out of hibernation.
"W-what was that?" Alvyn asked, trying to keep his voice from shaking too much. The Grarrl peered back toward the way they had come, his eyes wide in an attempt to see into the thick darkness at the end of the corridor.
"It's just the house settling," Elnore said firmly. "You know how old houses are. Come on, we're never going to find any ghosts if we just stand here all night."
The Poogle was about to set off down the hall once more when her friend Dru, a Buzz, spoke, "We're never going to find any ghosts if you write everything off as the house settling or the wind blowing either, Elnore."
"But no one will believe us if we jump at every creak!" Elnore protested. "The original Ghoul Catchers were Neopets of science -- doctors, professors. We have to follow their example if we want to be taken seriously."
"Hey, you guys, does it feel colder in here to you?" Alvyn stuttered. His breath made puffs of vapour in the air when he spoke. The other two ignored him, though.
"No one will take us seriously if we never collect any evidence, either!" Dru insisted.
"We can collect evidence... scientifically!" Elnore shot back.
Alvyn's teeth were chattering. "Dru, Elnore... I think you need to see this." The Grarrl's startled eyes were fixed on the wall where their shadows danced.
"What is it, Alvyn?" Elnore snapped, her voice exasperated.
The Grarrl raised a shaking claw to point at the wall. There, instead of their three wavering shadows, they saw...
Date: Jan 12th
...writhing, pulsing blobs.
After a moment's squirming, the leftmost one turned into a B.
"Elnore," Alvyn said, his voice unusually high, "if you tell me that's just the wind--!"
Elnore, who was always more snappish when she was frightened, said, "Don't be an idiot, Alvyn."
Dru huffed at both of them. "Do you think something's trying to... communicate with us?"
"No, I think there's a baby ghost playing with its alphabet blocks," Elnore snapped sarcastically.
The middle blob turned into an O.
"Bo?" Alvyn quavered.
As if the shadows had gotten the hang of this, the third blob converted itself quickly into another O.
For good measure, a stray plume at the end elongated and dropped off a little puff underneath, making an exclamation point.
The three would-be Ghoul Hunters stared.
Then there was a loud thud. Elnore and Dru both squeaked and turned around, only to find that it was Alvyn. He had sat down abruptly on the floor and was laughing, tears streaming from his eyes. "Boo!" he giggled. "The wall said 'Boo!'"
The Grarrl picked himself up, dusted off his tail, and patted the wall (a bit gingerly, in case of splinters). "Let's see what else we can find."
The other two Neopets gaped at him. "I thought you were scared!" Elnore said.
"I was," Alvyn admitted, striding forward. "But now I'm not wondering if we're going to see ghosts -- now I know there's something here. Anyway, how can you keep being scared of something that writes 'boo' on the wall?"
"I don't know," Dru said slowly, as the temperature dropped further, and they passed into a room where the curtains were swaying in the still air. "Sometimes--"
Whatever she was going to say was lost in a painfully loud creak. All three of them winced and covered their ears, as best they could with the torches.
"Just the house settling," Elnore muttered. At the look she got, she added irritably, "That time. It didn't even sound like a real scream!" She took another step forward. The floor creaked under her foot. "See?"
Alvyn came up beside her.
The floorboards bent...
Date: Jan 12th
...and suddenly a thunderous CRACK! plummeted them under the floor below.
"Elnore!" Alvyn cried.
Their monotonous fall came to an abrupt stop as they felt the cold, dirt-covered ground hit them from beneath. The trio scrambled to their feet and looked around.
Darkness... horrible, neverending darkness surrounded them. It made them feel as if the walls were closing in, the darkness getting closer to them. Soon, like a candle set upon by a quick gust of wind, all went dark.
Elnore braved her fears and came back to her senses to reach out and feel the dank wall of thick, black endlessness before her. Suddenly she hit upon something, and Alvyn let out a scream.
They jumped in their places and felt as if warm, moist air was blowing to their faces, making their trembling turn to panic. Elnore yelled out, "Whatever or whoever you are, we don't want to cause trouble!"
"Don't intimidate it, Elnore," Dru warned, grabbing her shoulder and hyperventilating between breaths.
"I'm not," she replied.
The response to this was another groan. They couldn't tell if this groan was louder than the one before, since echoes of the previous sound still rang in their hearts, spreading terror like butter through their wandering minds.
"WHOOOOO AAAAREEEE YOOOOUUUU?" the horrifying voice boomed, splashing dread into every corner of the seemingly endless chamber they were in.
"We have to find an exit NOW!" Alvyn implored.
Elnore thought for a moment, then responded by saying, "I thought you weren't scared!"
He then retorted, "That was when it was just 'Boo' written on the wall!" He then proceeded to quickly scan the frightening room.
BOOM! An intense pounding sound shot out.
"Alvyn? What was that?" Elnore screamed. "Don't worry, whatever it was, I hit it over the head!"
Elnore, relieved of the terror, leaned up against a wall and then found, pressing up against her arm, A LIGHT SWITCH!
"ALVYN!!!" she hollered. "A light switch!"
"Great! Wonderful! Astounding!" he proclaimed. "NOW we can see who this 'spectre' really is!"
Elnore panted, trying to get in touch with inner calmness, before finding the button again. She placed a finger on it, sweating, and pulled the switch.
Light then streamed throughout the corridor, rendering it wholly visible.
Alvyn and Elnore then gasped with surprise, for the mysterious figure was really....
Date: Jan 13th
...a well-beaten replica of Punchbag Bob.
"What? Then who..." Elnore's voice trailed off as she looked around the room for the source of the voice and noises that had frightened them a few scarce moments before. No other living creature was visible, though.
The room was full of various objects -- knicknacks and assorted junk... battered, tattered, and worn by age and use.
There was an old sofa with fluffy stuffing leaking from myriad tears, and there was a giant pencil with a broken tip and an almost nonexistent eraser. To the left was a trashcan painted a rather hideous shade of burnt orange with a pattern of lime green flowers on it. Upon closer inspection, even the light switch fit in with the general theme of the room -- it was adorned with a multicolored paper-mache cover.
"What is this place?" Dru asked.
"THIS IS MY TREASURE ROOM!" the voice boomed. "WHO ARE YOU THAT DARES TO INTRUDE?"
"Treasure? This stuff?" Alvyn asked, picking up a wheel-less unicycle.
"DO NOT TOUCH THE TREASURE!" cried the voice. "IT'S MINE! IT'S MINE! IT'S MINE..." The voice faded to a near-whimper at the end. "Mineminemine..."
"Oookay, then," Elnore said, motioning for Alvyn to put the unicycle down. "We won't touch your stuff, okay?"
"NOT STUFF. TREASURE!"
"Alright, alright! Your treasure. Fine. Just tell us: who are you?"...
Date: Jan 13th
There was a moment of silence, as if the voice was stalling.
"Well?" Elnore prompted. Seeing the room, she wasn't quite as terrified as before.
Suddenly there was a loud and gurgled sob, accompanied by an odd squelching noise and a tattered Cybunny plushie flying across the room. Alvyn jumped.
"Oh, err... I'm sorry," Dru said quickly. "We didn't mean to offend y--"
"I c-c-can't even p-p-pronounce my own n-name," the ghost blubbered loudly. "It's the d-d-dumbest n-name in N-N-Neopia and I was th-th-the one wh-who's stuck with it!"
Elnore blinked. This wasn't going in the direction she'd expected.
"I'm sure it isn't that bad..." Dru said cautiously.
"X-X-UNDERSCORE-X-S-P-G-A-4-UNDERSCORE-2-0-0-4!" the voice shrieked.
Then, before any of the ghoul catchers could react, with a pop a small, pale blue ghost Kacheek materialized in the middle of the room, insubstantial silvery tears streaming down its cheeks.
"I can't scare anyone," the ghost moaned. "I'm not scary to begin with, and I have a st-stupid name, and n-n-nobody ever comes here, and I'm the worst ghost EVER."
It broke off into sobs.
As confused as she was, Elnore found the words coming out of her mouth before she even knew she was talking.
"Well, maybe we can help you..."
Date: Jan 14th
"H-how could you help me?" sobbed xx_xpsga4_2004, the unfortunate ghost Kacheek whose name was comprised largely of punctuation, consonants, and a date indicator.
"Your name isn't that bad," Elnore said in an attempt to be kind.
She then tried to pronounce "xx_xpsga4_2004" and, in doing so, sprayed the room with spittle, which nobody particularly appreciated.
"I think we should figure out a suitable nickname," Alvyn suggested, much to the relief of Dru (who had been spittled upon) and also to the relief of Storytellers everywhere who did not want to keep typing xx_xpsga4_2004 out.
"How about 'Boo'?" asked Dru. "You know, since you're a ghost…"
The Kacheek brightened up.
"I… I guess I like that name," he said. "Especially since I already know how to spell it…"
"So it was you who wrote "Boo!" up on the wall before?" Alvyn asked. "You sure gave us a fright."
"Really?" asked xx_xpsga4_2004, hereafter known as Boo. "I really scared you?"
"Oh, we were terrified," Dru affirmed as she gave Elnore, who was looking rather skeptical, a firm nudge.
"Right! Absolutely terrified," Elnore added. "Yes. And the temperature shifting thing was amazing, not to mention the curtains blowing…"
"You're a very talented ghost," Alvyn added, further following in this encouraging vein.
Boo looked hopefully at them, his transparent tears drying on his incorporeal face. "Th-thanks guys... but the Ghoul Catchers themselves didn't find me scary at all. In fact, they gave me a rating of one out of ten on their fear scale, which I'll probably never live down…"
Elnore internally questioned the necessity of a ghost living anything down (because he wasn't of the realm of the living anymore, anyway) but did not share those particular thoughts.
"You've met the Ghoul Catchers?" Alvyn asked incredulously. "We're, like, their biggest fans! Did you get their autographs?"
"It was ages ago," said Boo. "I mean literally ages. I have been haunting here a long time… and not only did they not even sign my shirt, but as a result of their poor rating no one even knows about me, visits, or actually finds me scary -- well, except for you guys, so that means you three must be a bunch of wimps…"
"We could try to help you figure out a way of being even scarier," Elnore suggested as a means of interrupting Boo's ever-lengthening list of woes. She magnanimously ignored the insult.
"Yeah," Dru added. "For example, maybe we could come up with even scarier things for you to write on the wall?"
As the trio offered up a series of suggestions, each seemingly worse than the one before it, Boo began to look depressed once more, to the point that everyone was starting to wish that they'd nicknamed him Boohoo instead.
"Maybe you should just practice," Elnore finally suggested. "Go on; pull your scariest move on us, right now, and we'll see if the Ghoul Catchers' fear scale rating doesn't need to be updated…"
"O-okay," Boo said and then took a deep breath…
Date: Jan 14th
...and nothing happened. Dru, Alvyn, and Elnore waited a few moments, thinking that maybe Boo was just building up the tension. However, nothing continued to happen. It wasn't even a spooky nothing, just your ordinary, run-of-the-mill nothing. Finally, a small Spyder materialised a few inches above the floor with a small "pop!" and quickly scurried away. Elnore coughed. "Was that it?"
Boo looked at his feet in embarrassment. "Yup, that was it. Here, let me try again." Boo scrunched up his face, waved his arms, and began to hop up and down. His efforts were met with... another "pop!" and a slightly larger Spyder. This one half-heartedly waved two of its legs at Alvyn before it scuttled off to a dark corner. Needless to say, the would-be Ghoul Catchers were unimpressed. However, not wanting to hurt their new friend's feelings, they tried to muster up some encouragement.
"Wow, that was terrifying," said Dru, clearly lying through her teeth. "I'm not particularly afraid of Spyders, but if I was..." She let the uncompleted sentence hang lamely in the air.
Alvyn chimed in: "The way that second one wiggled its legs at me, wow! I was afraid for my life!"
But it was no use; Boo could clearly tell that these pets were no more impressed than the Ghoul Catchers had been years ago. He remembered with agonising clarity how Doctor Boolin had laughed in his face and how Brave Bren had dismissively muttered "one star" before all three pets had departed. Recalling this painful memory caused ghostly tears to well up in Boo's eyes. As each teardrop fell to the floor, it transformed into yet another tiny Spyder, which joined its companions in the corner.
Elnore's usually tough heart melted at the sight of the crying ghost Neopet with the unpronounceable name. "There there," she muttered, and walked over to Boo's side. She attempted to give Boo a reassuring pat on the shoulder, but her paw passed right through his incorporeal body, causing Boo to sob even harder.
"I'm simply terrible at being a ghost," Boo croaked out between sobs. "The Ghoul Catchers didn't think I was scary, and neither do you."
Elnore and Dru expressed sympathy, but Alvyn wasn't listening. Instead, he was looking at the corner of the room in genuine fear. There were about a dozen Spyders gathered there by now, and as he watched, they had begun to weave a sinister web. Normally Alvyn enjoyed watching Spyders spin their webs, but then, normal webs didn't say "HIDE. IT IS COMING..."
Date: Jan 15th
"Elnore... ELNORE!!" the Grarrl cried out in alarm, tapping his friend's shoulder frantically. "The web..."
Elnore sighed exasperatedly and turned to see what all the fuss was about, sure that Alvyn was overreacting again, but gasped at the sight of the silk-spun warning. She turned to Boo and asked urgently, "Do any other ghosts haunt this house?"
But Boo was gaping at the message, apparently unable to speak, looking more spooked himself than any self-respecting ghost had any right to look; Elnore took that as a 'no.'
Dru was panicking. "You heard the Spyders! We have to hide!" she squeaked, before diving behind the battered old sofa.
The Poogle took a few deep breaths to steel herself. "This is it!" she declared. "Isn't this what we came here for? To catch ghouls? I won't be cowering behind the furniture when 'it' comes. The original Ghoul Catchers would never- OOF!" She was harshly cut off mid-speech by Alvyn, who had picked her up and tossed her over his broad shoulder. "HEY!" she screeched indignantly as she pounded his back with her fists, but the tiny Poogle was no match for the Grarrl.
"We won't be able to catch any ghouls if we're... if we..." he spluttered, unable to voice the terrifying thought. "I'm not letting you get gobbled up by any ghouls!"
Alvyn made for the sofa to join Dru, but over his shoulder, Elnore caught sight of Boo; the little ghost Kacheek was still motionless, transfixed by the web. "Alvyn, wait, STOP," she yelled with much more force than before, and her friend paused. "Look at him... we can't just leave him..."
The Grarrl was very strong, but he also had a soft heart; he couldn't leave Boo behind any more than he could leave his other friends. He carefully set Elnore back on her feet, and she walked slowly toward the ghost.
The Poogle reflexively reached out a paw, though of course she couldn't touch Boo. She wasn't even sure what she was doing; if he didn't move himself out of harm's way, she couldn't exactly throw his intangible body over her shoulder the way Alvyn had done with her. "Boo, we have to hide," she coaxed. The room was impossibly still, as if time itself had stopped. The three living Neopets were all holding their breath, waiting for the ghost to move.
THUD... THUD... THUD... Slow, horrible footsteps rattled the floorboards somewhere up above. Elnore jumped in alarm, Alvyn emitted a high-pitched shriek, and Boo turned his head toward the ceiling. Elnore was terrified, but, encouraged by the sign of life from the ghost, followed his gaze. The Poogle almost started at the sight of the large, dark spot that spanned most of the room before she remembered where it had come from; she had almost forgotten the crash-landing they had made earlier.
But the dark hole was filling with an even darker silhouette, and ominously, the heavy footsteps stopped.
"XX_XPSGA_2004? IT'S TIME FOR YOUR QUARTERLY REVIEW..."
Date: Jan 15th
"It's them! They're here! I don't want another one star, I don't want..."
"Quiet," Dru shushed the little ghost. The four of them stepped far back from the hole where the Ghoul Catchers had fallen through and reached the old, crumbling sofa. They quickly crouched behind it, watching the shadow flicker with the sound of footsteps.
But Boo couldn't keep still. "They're here! They're here! The Ghoul Catchers, they're going to see that I'm still a bad ghost after all this time and..."
"The original Ghoul Catchers?" Alvyn perked up, but clammed up after Dru nudged him in the ribs. "I mean... you say the Ghoul Catchers are back?"
"XX_XPSGA4_2004! DID YOU HEAR ME? IT'S TIME FOR YOUR REVIEW! YOU CAN RUN, BUT YOU CAN NEVER HIDE!" The voice got louder, and they knew that whoever the owner of the voice was -- and they were sure the speaker was male -- he was getting closer.
"What now?" asked the Grarrl, staring at his friends.
Elnore and Dru traded a look that suggested that both of them were deep in thought.
"Well, we sure can't hide forever," Elnore admitted, shrugging. "I say we -- "
"Wait, wait!" Boo cried out before pursing his lips and realising how loud his voice had become. He waved his hands and shook his head.
Nothing prepared them for what he was going to say next.
"I don't think that's a Ghoul Catcher up there... I really don't..."
Date: Jan 16th
"Then who is it?" asked Dru, flicking the tips of her wings in a nervous tic.
"Well, the Ghoul Catchers aren't the only ones who review ghosts," Boo whispered quickly, cowering behind the sofa. "Every year, we elect the three scariest ghosts in Neopia, and they form the Ghastly Gang."
"WE ARE COMING, XX_XPSGA4_2004!" came another voice from upstairs. Boo winced and hurried along with his explanation.
"The Ghastly Gang's job is to rank the scariness of ghost Neopets, but they're far stricter than the Ghoul Catchers. And far scarier." Boo's already ashen face turned even paler. Dru, Alvyn, and Elnore shuddered to think of what would scare a ghost. Boo continued: "The last time the Ghastly Gang reviewed me, I was so nervous that I completely froze up: I couldn't even do the Spyder trick. They gave me a score of two."
"That's better than the Ghoul Catchers' rating!" Elnore said, trying to look on the bright side.
"A score of two out of one hundred," Boo said abashedly.
Before anyone could react to this, all four pets heard a third voice come from above. It spoke more quietly than the other two, barely above a whisper, yet held far more menace. "He's downstairs," it said simply, but those two words sent shivers up the spines of everyone present.
"Quick," said Alvyn, taking charge, "Follow me. I've got a plan..."
The Ghastly Gang stood in a line in front of Boo, radiating intimidation from every ethereal pore. They were indeed terrifying: on the left stood a Wocky, who held his severed head in his arms. On the right floated a wraithlike Peophin, her mane streaming as if caught in a frigid wind from beyond the grave. In the middle stood the shortest, but the most intimidating figure. He was a JubJub, and not a very scary-looking one at first glance. But one look in his eyes could leave any pet breathless. Those eyes somehow seemed to contain the suffering of a thousand souls, focused into two pinpoints of black. The Peophin spoke:
"YOU KEPT US WAITING, XX_XPSGA4_2004. THAT WAS NOT VERY POLITE."
"Sorry," Boo muttered, looking down at his feet.
"I SEE YOUR HOME IS STILL A MESS. REGARDLESS, THE EXAMINATION WILL BEGIN NOW," said the Wocky, his voice disconcertingly coming from his torso, where he held his head.
"Right," Boo stuttered. "Here we go..." The Kacheek squinched up his eyes and waved his arms, creating one of his trademark Spyders that appeared with the customary small "pop" and scurried off. Boo smiled.
The Wocky and Peophin laughed. "IS THAT IT?"
"WE MIGHT JUST HAVE TO BUMP YOU DOWN TO A ONE FOR THAT PATHETIC PERFORMANCE."
The JubJub turned to each of his companions, simply saying "Quiet." The two immediately fell silent. Then the JubJub turned and looked directly at Boo, his eyes boring holes into the poor Kacheek and causing what felt like a lead weight to drop into his stomach. "Continue."
Boo took a deep breath. Now was the moment that the entire plan hinged on.
Boo glared at the Peophin, then walked over to one of the doors in the hallway. "Allow me to show you a few of my victims." With this, he opened the door, revealing a small, dingy room that held Alvyn in the corner. The Grarrl was sitting on the floor, clutching his knees to his chest and rocking back and forth, muttering something under his breath.
Boo beamed proudly. "This was a pet who dared to enter my home. I slowly drove him insane over a period of weeks, until now all he can do is sit and gibber."
Alvyn looked up at Boo and surreptitiously winked at him. Boo returned the wink and shut the door, turning back to the Ghastly Gang. He was pleased to note that they looked slightly impressed.
"NOT BAD," said the Wocky (or rather, the Wocky's head).
"What else?" whispered the JubJub.
"If you'll follow me to this next door..." Boo opened it to reveal another small, cobweb-filled room. Elnore was sitting in this one. When she saw Boo, she slowly rose, arms stretched out in front of her.
"Braaaiiiinnnnsssss..." Elnore droned, almost giggling from the absurdity of her performance. But she was able to hold in her mirth, and began to slowly move toward the door, dragging her feet with every step.
"A ZOMBIE. IMPRESSIVE," intoned the ethereal Peophin, floating back a few inches. Although she technically had no physical brain, caution was important when dealing with zombies, even if you are a ghost. Boo shut the door with a grin.
"And?" murmured the JubJub with the haunting eyes.
"Well, in this room..." but Boo was cut off by a loud banging coming from the room that held Alvyn.
"WHAT'S HAPPENING?" asked the decapitated Wocky.
"Oh, my insane prisoner sometimes tries to escape. It shouldn't be a problem. Unless I forgot to lock the door, that is..." Boo inwardly smiled.
Just then, Alvyn burst from his "prison" with a flurry of activity. The Ghastly Gang stepped away from him in surprise. The Grarrl screeched and ran about the hallway, windmilling his small arms and ranting incoherently. Suddenly, his eyes locked on the second doorway.
"Not the zombie’s room!" Boo shouted in mock urgency. The plan was almost complete, just a few more elements...
With a loud cry, Alvyn ran to the door Elnore was behind and opened it. The Gastly Gang looked fairly nervous at this point, fearing for their afterlives. Elnore slowly paced toward them, moaning about brains all the while.
The Ghastly Gang was in disarray. "Stay calm..." the JubJub muttered, but he was ignored by his companions, who were eying Elnore in fright.
Boo could see that the time was right. "Now!" he shouted, and several things happened at once. Alvyn flipped the switch to turn out the lights; Elnore began to moan more loudly and continued to approach the Gang; glowing letters appeared on the ceiling, reading "GET OUT"; and Boo conjured an enormous Spyder with a deafening "pop," which hissed and menaced the triumvirate of ghosts. And, for the final touch, Dru, who had been hiding until now, crept up behind the Ghastly Gang, and shouted, with all her might, "BOO!!!"
All three ghouls jumped straight up, looks of pure terror on their faces. The Wocky dropped his head in surprise, and his body began to scramble around on hands and knees looking for it. The JubJub's black eyes now held nothing but fear. The Peophin yelped and spun in circles, her tail flapping wildly like a sheet caught in a strong wind. The Wocky finally grasped onto something round and fuzzy, so he picked it up and put it on the stump of his neck, only to discover that it was the JubJub. Both shrieked in surprise and fear. Boo could barely keep from laughing. Finally, the Wocky found his head, and all three members of the Ghastly Gang beat a hasty retreat. The JubJub was the last to leave. Boo could hear him screaming "One hundred! One hundred! One hundred..." until he receded from earshot.
Alvyn flicked on the lights. All four pets looked at each other, silent for a few moments, and then they broke into laughter all at once.
"Can you believe we pulled that off?"
"I was like, 'Braaaiiins!'"
"Way to go, Boo!"
The ghost Kacheek grinned, and looked around at his new friends. "I couldn't have done it without you three. Thank you."
All four pets tried to go in for a group hug, but, of course, Dru, Alvyn, and Elnore passed right through Boo, spurring them to once again collapse in laughter. As they rolled on the floor in mirth, the giant Spyder that Boo had conjured began to weave a web covering the hole the pets had previously fallen through. This one simply said: "The end."
Editor's Note: Due to a holiday on Monday, the next Storytelling Contest will begin on Tuesday, January 20.
Date: Jan 16th
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