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||You are on Week 412
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 Four Hundred Twelve Ends Friday, May 1
The corridor of Neopia Central's hospital rang with Suki's footsteps as she ran. The Cybunny's heart was pounding almost as loudly as her paws. How could this happen? she thought. Takagin is my best friend; what'll I do without him?
Suki skidded to a halt as a tall Lenny stepped into the hallway from one of the patients' rooms. "Ruey!" the Cybunny cried and ran toward the Lenny. "How is he? Is he going to be OK?"
The Lenny gave Suki a relieved smile and laid a wing across her shoulders. "Takagin's fine, Suki. He bumped his head pretty badly when he fell out of the Money Tree, but he's already up and talking. He's his usual irritating self." The fond smile on the Lenny's beak took the sting out of the word "irritating"; Suki knew that Ruey and Takagin were close friends even if Takagin had an uncanny ability to get under the Lenny's skin. She liked to think it was part of his charm.
The Cybunny swallowed back the tears that had been threatening to overflow and asked, "Can we go and see him now?"
"Sure," replied Ruey, opening the door to Takagin's room and leading Suki inside.
Takagin definitely looked fine -- the Lupe was sitting up in his hospital bed, his ears poking out of the white bandage wrapped around his head, and arguing playfully with Mimmi and Mat, the other two friends in their close-knit group. Suki noticed a shy-looking Acara she didn't recognise sitting in the corner, but at that moment, all she cared about was Takagin.
"Takagin! You're OK!" she cried, dashing over to the Lupe's bed and throwing her arms around him.
The Lupe didn't hug her back, though. "Hey, Ruey? Who is this Cybunny? Is she a friend of yours?"
Suki forced a laugh. "Stop playing jokes, Takagin! I was really worried about you."
Takagin smirked. "Well, it's nice of you to be worried about a complete stranger, but the hug is a little much."
The Cybunny stepped away, the tears battering at her eyelids again, and made herself smile. It had to be a joke. After all, he seemed to remember Ruey, Mimmi, and Mat just fine. "Come on, Takagin. You couldn't forget your best friend, no matter how many times you hit your head. Your skull is too thick for that."
The Lupe glared at her. "You're not my best friend. Now get out of here!..."
Author: Who Am I? Where Am I?|
Date: Apr 27th
"C'mon, Takagin -- I know you got knocked on the head but the doc says your brain's still in there," intervened Ruey, who saw the tears in Suki's eyes and felt for his friend. "I mean, I know your brain is small, but I don't think it, like, fell out of your ear or something. Dude.
"Dude yourself, dude. My brain is definitely still here -- and besides it's way too big to fall out of my ear -- and I don't remember this Cybunny," Takagin replied, staring at Suki.
And he stared at Suki some more.
Suddenly, a flash of recognition brightened his eyes.
"OH! I remember you now!"
"Finally," said Suki, relieved.
"Yeah yeah, it's all coming back to me -- you were a Squash Maiden at Meridell's annual pumpkin fest, weren't you? You did the whole --" here Takagin waved his arms slowly above his head "-- Festive Squash Approval Dance, like this."
"And then you participated in the Babaa shearing contest and I think you won second or something?"
"Don't worry about it -- I've totally placed you now. It just took me a minute there." Takagin leaned back on his pillows, looking absolutely satisfied and at peace with the world.
"'Wear wool,' as the shearers say," he added with a knowing wink in Suki's direction. "Yeah."
Throughout this conversation, it began to dawn upon the group of friends -- Suki, Mimmi, Mat, Ruey -- that their buddy was crazy. Selectively crazy, that is. Or perhaps crazy was the wrong word for what he was doing -- but they could find no other word that would adequately describe someone randomly fabricating memories following a fall from a tree.
"Maybe we should get the doctor," suggested Mimmi.
"Agreed," said Mat. "Unless Suki has something she isn't telling us..."
"Like maybe she's mild-mannered Suki by day, dancing Squash Maiden Babaa Shearer by night..."
"Mat!!" shouted Suki, who did not find the situation remotely funny, perhaps because she was actually a Squash Maiden, but we don't know that yet. "Quit it! Why don't you go get the doctor?"
"Keep your ears on, Suki," said Mat. "I was only joking. I'll go get the old sawbones..."
Mat and Mimmi scampered off while hypothesizing about the finer points of Squash Maiden dancing.
Now that the room had been cleared of its most voluble occupants, silence settled as Suki and Ruey sat on the end of Takagin's bed. Suki looked concerned, Takagin looked oblivious, and Ruey looked suspicious.
"Mysterious Acara is mysterious," Ruey said in the general direction of the room at large.
Suki and Takagin's heads swivelled to look at the mysterious, shy-looking Acara who was sitting in the corner.
"Who exactly are you? And what are you doing here?" asked Ruey, a little more harshly than he had intended. "I don't recognise you."
"Stop playing jokes, Ruey," said the Acara, looking saddened. "You couldn't forget one of your best friends..."
Date: Apr 27th
Ruey's double take would have been comical had the situation not seemed too strange. The Lenny raised a feathered limb to his beak, eyes widening like saucers as he gaped at the Acara, then glanced quizzically to Suki and Takagin. The Cybunny looked puzzled, the Lupe was humming and gazing at a spot on the wall with complete fascination. It took Takagin a few seconds to work out that all was not well in his hospital room, and he proceeded to give Ruey a rather strange look.
"What? You know Lottie."
Ruey looked to Suki, who looked to Lottie, the strange Acara who was gazing back at them. Had there been any more sideways glances cast around the place, eyestrain would have been a major concern.
"Do we know you?" Suki ventured the question faintly, not sure she wanted to know the response. Relief flooded through her when Lottie met the question with a broad grin.
"Duh. Of course."
Suki relaxed slowly.
"Well... I mean, I know Ruey. Not you, of course." The Acara hastened to offer an apologetic smile. "But to be fair, I've never been to one of those Meridell annual pumpkin festivals. Heard great things about them. Great things. Have to catch your act some day, huh?"
Tears of confusion sprang to Suki's eyes as she stared helplessly from Lottie to Takagin.
"But... I don't have an act."
Takagin nodded sagely and even Ruey looked relieved.
"That's true. The act really belongs to the entire troupe, Lottie. Those squash approval dancers are a team. The act doesn't just belong to one individual." Takagin beamed, turning to Suki. "Don't get me wrong. You were fantastic. I didn't even know the history of the squash before you and your friends mimed it out in interpretive dance. Top notch stuff!"
Suki gasped, tears softly cascading down her velvety fur, she gazing at Ruey helplessly as if he were the last bastion of sanity in what felt like a madhouse. How could her friend have forgotten her? Who was this strange Acara? Why did everyone seemed to think she lived a double life as a squash festival dancer?
Ruey shook his head slowly, giving the Cybunny a supportive pat on the arm and glancing suspiciously at Lottie.
"Do you happen to spend a lot of time in the hospital? Perhaps wandered in from another ward?"
Lottie laughed, shaking her head.
"Don't be silly, Ruey. We've all been friends for years. The whole gang! You, me, Takagin, Mat, and Mimmi!"
Ruey frowned slowly, looking as if he would prefer to be anywhere but in this strange situation in this odd moment. Perhaps he was considering abandoning the madness and taking up squash tribute dancing himself? It was certainly possible.
At that second, Mimmi and Mat burst back into the room with all the subtlety of fireworks, each grinning from ear to ear, Mat pushing his friend out of the way and throwing a few packets of crisps onto the bed.
Ruey groaned, still trying to comfort the sobbing Suki.
"You twits! You were supposed to be getting the doctor! Can't you see Suki is upset?"
Mimmi stared blankly at Ruey, tilting her head in utter confusion.
Date: Apr 28th
"Suki." When the Lenny was met with two blank stares, he groaned. "Don't tell me you can't remember her either?"
Mimmi and Mat exchanged a glance, confused frowns on their faces. Then, Mimmi's eyes suddenly lit up and she exclaimed, "Hey, I do remember you. You were at that pumpkin festival, doing the squash dance. You were brilliant."
Takagin smiled widely as the whole world fell into place again. He was surrounded by his friends, and one of them recognised the squash dancer as well. "See, that's what I told her, too."
Ruey hugged Suki tighter as her sobs grew louder. "If this is some kind of joke, it's not funny," he grumbled, rubbing his wing across Suki's back. "You know Suki, just like I do. We've been friends for years."
"No, sorry, dude," Mat said. "There's never been a Cybunny in our gang. Just Takagin, Lottie, Mimmi, you, and me. I've never even seen her before."
"Of course, you have," Suki protested, her voice muffled by Ruey's feather coat. "We've hung out together for many, many hours. Hey, you even saw me five minutes ago, before we sent you to get a doctor."
She could not see Mat's eyebrows knitting together in confusion. "But... no. There was no Cybunny in the room when we left, just the five of us. And we didn't go to see a doctor but to get some food. What should we need a doctor for? Takagin is obviously all right."
The Lupe did look all right as he sat on his bed, happily munching on a handful of crisps. "Well, we've got this cleared then, haven't we?"
Mimmi, Mat, and Lottie nodded in agreement, none of them realising that the situation was anything but clear for Ruey and Suki.
But before another discussion could begin about friendships and pumpkin festivals and who met whom, the door opened. A Gelert doctor in a white coat stepped inside.
"Sorry for interrupting, but we need that empty bed by the window. There has been an accident at the Meridell annual pumpkin festival."
He stepped aside and Ruey gasped. Standing behind the doctor was a nurse, and in the wheelchair she was pushing sat a Cybunny who looked exactly like Suki...
Date: Apr 28th
"Wow," said Ruey, and it wasn't the kind of wow that you use when, say, you've just been given an ice cream. It was the kind of wow that you use when you're about to be crushed by a large, impressive building -- when you can't help admiring the complex machinations of fate, but wish that fate would complexly machinate in a way that didn't involve you becoming Lenny pancake. "You look exactly like Suki!"
The Cybunny in the wheelchair looked like she was sleeping, and thus didn't respond. Which was good, because if Suki heard anyone else asking who Suki was, she'd go insane.
Takagin's brow crinkled. "Who's Suki?"
"Squash Maiden," Mimmi explained
Suki went insane. "No!" she shrieked. "Not right! I'm not a Squash Maiden! I don't even know what a 'squash' is!"
"Wow, that's totally awesome," Takagin said, giving her a thumbs-up. "You being a Squash Maiden without knowing what a squash is. Im-promp-tu, right?" He enunciated the word carefully, slowly, and with evident delight at getting it right. "Good for you! You were totally great."
"You got across, like, the essence of squash," Mat agreed. "Awesome."
"Totally," said Takagin. "Good Babaa shearer, too."
"Yeah," Mimmi said. "Babaa shearing is really hard."
Takagin grinned. "Hey, I just realised! 'Babaa' sounds like 'barber'! That's... ironic?" He glanced at Ruey for confirmation, but Ruey was still staring slack-jawed at the Cybunny in the wheelchair, who, while this had been going on, had been transferred from the wheelchair to the empty bed by the window. Takagin shrugged. "Ironic. Well? Aren't you meant to be laughing?" Mimmi, Mat and Lottie laughed dutifully.
Suki opened her mouth to say something derogatory on the subject of Babaas, but what was the point? They'd probably all forgotten who she was again. She glanced at the Cybunny on the bed, trying to figure out exactly what was going on. She would have settled for knowing inexactly what was going on, for that matter. Precision seemed a lot less important when your best friends had forgotten your name and the mysterious Acara who had taken your place was whispering in your double's ear.
Suki forced herself to stop angsting. She could always angst at another time. She was a teenager, after all. Right now she had to concentrate on slipping away to the non-empty bed by the window without anyone noticing her, which she did. (Of course, the odds of any of them noticing her were pretty slim to begin with.) This done, she lay under the bed and twitched her long, sensitive Cybunny ears. She could just about make out what Lottie was whispering to her sleeping double.
"I'm in your life," she whispered. "Stealing your friends."
Suki swallowed. This had just gotten a whole lot more serious, and even more ridiculously complicated.
She heard Takagin say, "Dude? Ruey? You okay, man?"
There wasn't a reply.
Mat said, "He's just staring at that Cybunny who just looks like that other Cybunny whose name I can't remember who was a Squash Maiden." Somehow, he managed to say that whole sentence without drawing a breath and without fainting. This was a minor miracle that Suki would applaud if she wasn't so busy feeling her life crumble around her. And she didn't even know inexactly what was going on!
"Dude," Takagin said, in tones of deep respect. "We broke Ruey."
Making Ruey freak out had always been a habit of Takagin's, something that all of them laughed about, and being excluded from this was somehow too much for Suki to bear. She curled up in a ball beneath the bed, and began to cry...
Date: Apr 29th
Poets through the ages have noted that in many ways, life is like a pumpkin. It is beautiful, but short-lived; it is nourishing and delightful; it is orange on the outside and squishy on the inside. But at that moment, Ruey was experiencing another way in which life is like a pumpkin: he was having trouble getting to the centre of it without the proper tools. The proper tools being, of course, a knife in the case of a pumpkin, and accurate accounts in the case of life.
"Let me see if I've got this straight," said Ruey to no one in particular. "Takagin hits his head and forgets about Suki, but then 'recognises' her as someone we've never met. Then, the same thing happens to Mat and Mimmi. A mysterious Acara shows up and claims to be one of our friends. Meanwhile, an actual Squash Maiden rears her head, which bears a surprising resemblance to Suki's head. Have I gotten all this right?"
"You forgot to mention what an excellent Squash Maiden Suki was," prompted Takagin. "She won the Gourd Award, you know."
"That's right," added Mat. "She also won the Plant Prize, and the award for the Squash with Panache." Mimmi nodded in assent.
Ruey suddenly snapped, shouting, "How can you be doing this? Treating things like a joke? This is our friend's life! This is serious business!"
All the occupants of the hospital room stared at him. Well, except for the actual Squash Maiden, but, seeing as she was unconscious, we can forgive her.
Suddenly, Takagin sat bolt upright in his bed. "I think I know how all of this can be explained!" he crowed. "It's really very simple!"
Ruey and the others leaned in close to hear.
"This other Cybunny is Suki's stunt double!" Takagin exclaimed, quite proud of himself. Ruey slapped his wing over his face. "That's why they look so similar; when the Squash Dance got dangerous, the two of them swapped out. That way, Suki could avoid serious injury during the part of the dance with the pumpkin-shaped hoops of fire. Congratulations, you two, the transition was seamless. Suki, I was especially impressed with how you -- Suki? Where did you go?"
But Suki was in a world of her own, listening to Lottie whispering quietly to her unconscious double.
"You have done well, my pawn," the Acara whispered. "You delivered the Lupe, exactly as promised. Now my plan can finally be completed; all the pieces are coming together. The forgetfulness spell hasn't taken effect on that idiotic Lenny yet, but as soon as it does... Suki will cease to exist. For what is existence but holding a place in the memories of others? And once she is out of the way, you and I can step in to fill the void, and use her friends for the most devious task of all: winning the Pumpkin Festival! Muahahaha! Muahahahaha!"
Lottie then looked up to find the other pets all staring at her curiously. She chuckled nervously. "Did I raise my voice for that last part?"
"Yeah," said Mimmi. "You were whispering, then we heard you say 'Pumpkin Festival' and do that whole evil laugh thing."
"That- that wasn't an evil laugh!" stammered Lottie nervously. "That was just my... my vocal warm-up exercise! I do them every day. I'm a singer, you know." And then she launched into an arpeggio: "Mua-ha-ha-HA-ha-ha-ha. See? I also do scales. Mua-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-"
But before she got the chance to reach "ti," Suki burst forth from under the anonymous Cybunny's bed and exclaimed...
Date: Apr 29th
"Shut up!" Suki leaped forward, throwing in all the indignation she could muster into those two words. Coming from a Cybunny her size, it would have been quite intimidating had she not banged her head precisely on the bars of the low-hung bed frame immediately afterward.
"Ow!" she squealed, collapsing back under the bed. Tears threatened to cascade once more.
There was a moment of silence, more out of surprise than compliance to Suki's shout. It was difficult to say whose eyebrows arched the highest, but nonetheless, this interruption succeeded beautifully in drawing the five Neopets' attention from Lottie's vocal warm-ups. Mat glanced at Mimmi, who looked at Lottie, who turned to Ruey, who stared at Takagin, who picked crisp crumbs from the bed. Once again, the unconscious Squash Maiden was left out of the scene of simultaneous staring.
The word that broke the hush was hardly unpredictable. "Dude," said Ruey. "Was that, like, part of the whole 'shut up' thing? The 'bang' really helped emphasise your point, you know. Nice one."
"Thanks," said Suki uncertainly after a moment's pause, rubbing her throbbing head with one paw and craning her neck to stare at him with a puzzled expression. (This alone deserved applause; there was not much more you could do with a bed frame sitting two inches above your head.) "But you must have heard wrong. I don't remember saying that."
The Lenny looked as though nothing in the world could surprise him anymore. "What?" he croaked, peering down wearily. "Suki, don't tell me you've..."
"...knocked your brain out as well," finished Mimmi.
Ruey glared at her. "That was my line. Dude."
"Don't be ridiculous," snapped Suki, ceasing her head-massaging and crawling out at last, careful to avoid the bars this time. "I don't even know how you know my name. Now, if you weirdos will excuse me, I have a Pumpkin Festival to attend, and I'm, like, totally late already."
Ruey didn't know what to feel. He was the only one who remembered Suki out of all their friends, but now, it seemed like Suki had forgotten them in turn, including him. But one thing was sure -- while pumpkin festivals were very important, of course, he could not let Suki's departure break apart the old gang without finding out what exactly had happened.
"Hey, wait!" he exclaimed, hurrying to block the doorway. He could have slapped himself immediately after. 'Hey, wait?' What kind of phrase is that?
"And you're not even supposed to know what squashes are, remember?" Mat interjected, turning to Mimmi with a nudge and a grin. "So she is a squash dancer, after all! I knew it!"
Takagin hummed on, oblivious as ever, though thankfully keeping his wild theories to himself. Lottie, on the other hand, was watching from the corner with a mildly interested expression, looking as though she was quite finished with her whispering and arpeggios and was now attempting to find a place to bring herself into the conversation.
Before Suki could take another step, however, a new voice stopped her in her tracks. A seventh voice. "Did someone say 'squash'? I'm hungry."
The Cybunny in the bed had woken in the meantime and was now staring at each one of the pets in the room, somewhat confused. Her ears twitched as she waited for a response.
"Dude," said Ruey for the third time. "She sounds exactly like you, Suki."
"No way," said Mimmi, astonishment written over her face.
"See," said Takagin triumphantly, pausing his humming, "I told you she was her stunt double! They even sound the same! What do you say to that, hmm?"
"Look what you've done," said Lottie, spotting a way in at last. She turned to glare at Mat, who widened his eyes in unconvincing innocence. "You've woken her up."
The Cybunny coughed, sounding surprisingly clear-headed for a pet who had been completely unconscious merely ten seconds ago. "I do have a name, you know," she said, glancing up at Lottie. "You can call me Georgia. Now, about that squash..."
If Suki had been puzzled after crawling out from under the bed, she was now utterly perplexed. Here she was in a hospital room, head throbbing, with five pets who seemed to know her and a Cybunny who was her exact replica. Her memory was blank.
As if there was any need for extra confusion, at that moment, the door abruptly swung open to reveal the Gelert doctor in the white coat, clutching a clipboard with a troubled frown...
Date: Apr 30th
Following is an internal monologue in the voice of the Gelert doctor which will serve as an addendum to a previous narratorial interjection in the same vein.
Life is like a pumpkin, mused the Gelert doctor pensively. It is like a pumpkin because you can't crack it using your teeth or your forehead, you must use specialised tools: incisive thought and trenchant logic.
Life is also like a pumpkin in that, once you have cracked it, what you have in front of you is a confused, pulpy mush, within which are hidden seeds of knowledge.
This seemed like a very profound observation, so the Gelert doctor wrote it down extremely anxiously on his clipboard.
The inhabitants of the room watched the Gelert doctor and hypothesized as to what exactly he was scribbling down so furiously.
Ruey (who was, incidentally, the only remotely sane one left), was thinking that the Gelert doctor had noticed everyone's peculiar symptoms and was about to fix everything in one fell swoop of his stethoscope.
Mimmi and Mat thought that the doctor was about to write an official medical release for that Suki Squash Maiden girl so she could get on with her life and leave the gang alone.
Takagin thought that the Gelert was writing him a nasty prescription for his aching head and also making note of a dietary injunction not to eat crisps.
Lottie thought that her nefarious plan had been discovered and that the Gelert was writing up an arrest warrant for attempted Pumpkin Festival sabotage.
Suki didn't know who the Gelert was, but she hoped he would move out of the way so she could make her exit because this room was full of freaks.
Georgia was looking at her identical double, Suki, and wondering if her ears were really that big from behind.
The Gelert doctor stopped writing.
"Life," he remarked gravely, "is like a pumpkin."
"That is the most beautiful thing I ever heard anyone say in my life," said Suki, after a respectful silence. "I can tell you are a Squash Maiden kindred spirit."
"Perhaps..." answered the doctor, looking up from his clipboard and doing a violent double take at the sight of... well... doubles. Suki and Georgia were looking at him with the exact same tilt of the head. The doctor felt that the discovery of a pumpkin seed of knowledge was imminent.
Suki was musing contentedly to herself about the doctor's life/pumpkin analogy. Then she brightened and addressed the Gelert: "I bet you would appreciate my entry for the Gourd Getter poetry contest!"
Before anyone had time to answer, Suki began to bop her head to an invisible beat. Then she began:
"Yo yo yo,
My gourd is my bro,
And my pumpkin
Is my next of kin.
Them carrots is lame,
And potatoes are a pain,
In the Neopian 'hood
There's only one food
For the right (for the real)
For the good (the good meal)
And that's my vegetable homies
From the genus Cucurbita:
The gourd and the squash,
And the cool yellow marrow,
So put your paws in the air
'Cause this pumpkin is PUMPIN'!"
"...indeed," said the doctor, and he patted his pockets in search of a thermometer. "That's very nice. Kindly do not leave this room."
"What? But I'm not sick, I need to get to dance practice!" answered Suki with a scandalised look on her face.
"That can wait," answered the doctor, "in the meantime, someone needs to explain to me how exactly there are two of you in this room."
"Ahem..." came Lottie's voice. "I can explain..."
Date: Apr 30th
The announcement achieved flawless synchronisation in the room, every head turned instantly to the Acara who stood rubbing her paws together in a manner that may have indicated she was plotting nefarious things or alternatively, as Suki suspected, that she had left her pumpkin scented hand moisturiser at home and was now regretting it.
“I... am a squash festival dancer… Well, an emergency one.”
There was a horrified gasp from everyone in the room.
“I worked so hard on my twirling and prancing. I even practised my leaps through the burning pumpkin rings… but I just singed my ears.”
The Acara sighed dramatically.
“But I was always on the sidelines. An emergency stand in, just in case somebody dropped a gourd on their foot, or stepped in one of the pumpkin pies. Like in the great pumpkin pie disaster last year.”
Mimmi and Mat nodded knowingly. The great pumpkin pie disaster had been so big it had made the thirty-second page of the Neopian Times!
“It didn’t matter how much I practised, how hard I worked. Two left feet meant I would never win the coveted Golden Gourd Award.” The Acara sighed dramatically, ignoring the sympathetic sounds from Mimmi and Mat and the frantic scribbling of the Gelert doctor.
Winning the Golden Gourd Award is a lot like eating a pumpkin. It takes a long time and you often get blisters trying to carve it open.
Tearing her gaze away from the doctor, Lottie continued.
“If I just had a chance though, I could achieve my life-long dream. But one thing stood in my way!”
“A lack of talent?” asked the doctor.
“A wall?” suggested Suki with a baffled smile.
“A really big pumpkin!” cried Mimmi.
“A talking squash!” squealed Takagin, who then proceeded to tug on his own ears vaguely.
Lottie groaned, ignoring all the responses.
“Georgia stood in my way. ‘Georgia the Graceful Gourd Girl’, they called her. The prized jewel of the squash festival dance troupe. If Georgia and her fancy twirls and prancing leaps were out of the way, I would be given a chance! I could win!”
Here, the Acara spluttered and coughed, trying to conceal another generic evil laugh before she continued.
“I had seen Suki a few weeks ago while shopping for potatoes in Meridell… But I knew it wasn’t Georgia, even if they looked alike. Georgia was in Faerieland that day, being awarded Queen Fyora’s Notable Neopian award in recognition for her dancing. That’s when I started to hatch my plan.”
Ruey widening his eyes, suddenly working out the plan that had brought them all here.
“To have everyone forget Suki, put Georgia in her place, and win the Golden Gourd!”
Lottie smirked, nodding.
“All it took was slipping memory potions to Georgia, to Mimmi and Mat, and being first at the hospital to slip one to Takagin as he woke up.”
“I don’t see any potion…”
Lottie glanced guiltily at the empty crisp packets on the bed, leaving Ruey to gasp in horror.
“The chips are the potion! You gave some to Georgia, some to Takagin… and Mat and Mimmi were BOUND to have gobbled a pack before entering the room…”
“Two packs.” Mat volunteered happily.
“You’ll never get away with it!” Ruey cried in his best superhero voice, as Lottie began to laugh evilly.
“Who is going to stop me, huh, Lenny?”
Ruey looked around the room helplessly, from the dazed Suki, to the sleepy Georgia, to the oblivious Takagin.
This statement never finished though, as the Gelert doctor cast away his clipboard dramatically and began to speak...
Date: May 1st
“Not so fast, Lottie! I knew about your nefarious plan this whole time. For you see, I am not actually a doctor.” Here the Gelert shed his white coat to reveal an orange jumpsuit and pulled off a pair of fake eyebrows. “I am really the lead dancer of the Pumpkin Festival!”
All the pets in the room gasped, even though half of them had no idea what was going on by now; it just seemed like the appropriate time to gasp.
“Antonio!” exclaimed Lottie. “Your clever disguise fooled me. I had no idea that under those false eyebrows and behind that clipboard, you were the one pet who could undermine my perfect plan! Foiled again!”
“But how did you know?” Ruey asked Antonio, the non-doctor.
“It was actually quite simple,” he replied with a haughty smirk. “I noticed Lottie paying particular attention to Georgia during and after our rehearsals. After all, I had the perfect vantage point from on top of the giant ceremonial papier-mâché squash. Then one night, I followed Lottie to her tent at the fairgrounds and listened in. You see, Lottie, like most villains, has the unfortunate weakness of plotting aloud. Once I had established that she intended Georgia harm, Georgia and I hatched our own plot.”
Here Georgia took over the narrative. “Antonio warned me not to accept anything from Lottie, so when she handed me that bag of crisps, I pretended to eat them, but secretly discarded them. Then, with the help of all the dancers, we faked my ‘accident.’ It was actually quite an involved piece of choreography. Didn’t it look realistic, Lottie?”
“It fooled me completely,” replied the Acara. “That part where the Zucchini Czar slipped over the Curate of Cucumbers looked totally authentic. Brilliant dancing, as always.” The pair exchanged smiles.
“But there’s still one thing I don’t understand,” said Mat.
“Just one?” asked Ruey dryly.
Mat continued. “If Georgia and the doctor – excuse me, Antonio – knew about this entire plot, why didn’t you just stop Lottie at the beginning of it all? Why drag us into it?”
Antonio lay a reassuring paw on Mat’s shoulder. “It was unfortunate, but necessary. You see, we still needed concrete proof of Lottie’s ill intent. Again, her soliloquizing was her downfall, and we have witnesses to back up the story.” He grinned around the room. “Now, Lottie, what do you have to say for yourself?”
Lottie pouted. “It was the perfect plan! And I would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for you meddling Squash Dancers!”
“Well,” said Antonio, “I guess we ‘squashed’ this evil plan!”
The room erupted in laughter. Even Lottie chimed in, singing another “Mua-ha-ha-HA-ha-ha-ha” arpeggio. It appeared to be a happy ending for all. Because, like a pumpkin, life –
“Wait a minute,” interjected Ruey, “Aren’t we forgetting something?” He thought for a moment, then gasped. “Where’s Suki?”
* * *
Elsewhere in the hospital, a lone Cybunny danced through the halls, waving her front paws slowly in the air above her and absentmindedly singing:
“Pumpkins, pumpkins, best of the gourds:
From the Lost Desert’s oases to Terror Mountain’s fjords.
You’re so delicious in a pastry or pie,
And that is why we dancers all cry:
‘A pumpkin is my pal and a squash is my friend.’
And that must mean that this is the end.”
Date: May 1st
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