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||You are on Week 449
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 Forty Nine Ends Friday, February 26th
"What are we supposed to do with it?" Johyun asked.
His friend Choy, a lanky Kougra, rolled his eyes. "It's a baby; we're supposed to take care of it while his family is off at a Lunar Festival party."
"I wish I could be at a Lunar Festival party," Kym, an Usul, muttered under her breath.
Choy pursed his lips as if irritated, but instead of saying anything, he walked over and gathered up the tiny baby Acara from its playpen. "Hi, Geun!" he cooed in a way that made Kym and Johyun cringe. "We're going to have fun tonight, aren't we?"
The baby Acara just stared at the Kougra with wide eyes, and after a long moment, the baby's lower lip started to tremble, and tears began running down his pale aqua cheeks. Choy carefully wiped Geun's tears away and tried to bounce the little Acara in his arms, but the baby kept on crying... much to the amusement of Kym and Johyun.
"If you think it's so funny, why don't you try to make him stop crying?" Choy asked angrily, thrusting Geun toward Johyun. The Scorchio danced out of the way, still laughing.
"I think you're supposed to shut them in their room and ignore them when they do that," he wheezed through his laughter.
The Kougra then tried handing the still-sobbing Acara to Dubew, a shy Ogrin, who also stepped out of the way, though he looked more scared than amused.
Kym sighed. "I have to do everything, don't I?" she said and took the baby from Choy. Geun instantly quieted down, and Kym smiled smugly. "See? He obviously has excellent taste for one so young."
The Usul gently set the Acara back in his playpen, and the four friends went back to squabbling over who was going to take care of the baby's various needs during the night.
"This was your idea, Choy, so you should be in charge," said Johyun.
"We should all have separate duties; it's only fair," insisted Choy.
"It doesn't seem like it's going to be a big deal anyway," Kym said. "He's being so quiet -- I obviously have the magic touch."
"Uh, guys?" Dubew said. The Ogrin was bent over the side of the playpen, tossing the baby blankets and toys within here and there frantically. "Geun's gone..."
Author: Adventures in Baby-Acara-sitting|
Date: Feb 16th
"What do you mean he's gone?" Choy screeched as the squabbling trio whipped their heads around simultaneously to stare wide-eyed at the horrified face of the Ogrin.
"I mean he's... GONE!" Dubew shrieked as he once again started sifting through the blankets.
"That's impossible. He's just a baby," Kym said, trying to sound nonchalant, though there was an edge to her usually calm voice. "Where did he go, Kreludor?"
The three rushed over to the playpen next to Dubew to see that the little, slobbering Acara was, in fact, gone. A panicked silence hung heavy in the air around the four pets gaping at an empty playpen.
"Okay, well, he couldn't have gone far. Don't panic yet," Kym finally said, though it was a bit too late for that. "Let's just start looking around."
"Right," squeaked Choy, who didn't hesitate to dive right into searching through the toy chest. He began throwing around various faerie dolls and bouncy balls through the air in a frenzy.
"I've got the living room!" Johyun called as he raced through the door on the room's left. He immediately began de-cushioning the family's Plushie Sofa and calling out "Geun! Geun!" in that undignified, high-pitched voice that he hated so much.
"Kitchen," Kym said before she slipped through the door on the nursery's right and began rummaging through a Checked Kitchen Cupboard.
Dubew was left standing in the nursery, not knowing what to do. Watching Choy fling an Air Faerie Doll over his shoulder, the Ogrin glanced back at the playpen. He was about to find a room of his own in which to search, when he thought he saw a blanket in the playpen move ever so slightly.
His heart raced with joy as he leapt into the playpen himself. Lifting up the blanket, his heart dropped again when the Ogrin was left facing only another blanket. Dubew just knew that he had seen something move...
Just then, right before his eyes the blanket moved again. As he had before, the Ogrin again starting desperately throwing the blankets to and fro, searching for the little rugmeepit. As he tossed them, many of the flying blankets ended up landing on his head until he was engulfed in a blanket fortress. "Fyora, how many blankets do you have, Geun?"
Just as Dubew mentioned the baby's name, he heard a tiny coo. The Ogrin gasped with joy as he lifted up the next blanket to be met with the large, violet eyes of an Acara.
"Geun!" he called, breathing a sigh of relief as he scooped the little one into his arms. "Guys, don't worry. I found him!"
Though he was under a thick layer of blankets, Dubew was surprised when he heard nothing but the baby's soft babbling. "Guys...?"
Johyun raced in from the living room panting. "He's nowhere in the living room!"
An Usul's head peeked through the kitchen door. "I can't find him in here, either!" Kym screeched, not even bothering with the facade of being calm.
"Here either," was the sad, hopeless moan that came from the toy chest. Choy lifted his head, which had a Blumaroo Sock Puppet suck on top of it, out of the chest to look at his worried friends.
"Uh, guys?" Kym said as she entered from the kitchen. "Where's Dubew?..."
Date: Feb 16th
"Leave it to Dubew," Kym started to say irritably, "to go missing when a baby is lost!" She crossed her arms as her eyes intensely scanned the now messy house.
"He can't be far either," reasoned Johyun. "Besides, he can take care of himself. Geun, on the other hand..." His voice trailed off, leaving a worried frown Scorchio's face.
Choy attempted to climb out of the toy box, but managed to get his foot stuck in a slinky and tumbled out of the chest. The lid slammed shut with a loud bang. Johyun and Kym had their backs turned, busy with their own searches, but quickly turned to around, surprised by the noise.
"Sheesh," the Kougra said, "it was just the..." Johyun raised his hand to interrupt.
"Did you guys see that?" Johyun said, pointing at a large pile of baby blankets. "Did you see something move there?"
Kym breathed a sigh of relief. "For once, Choy, I'm thankful for your clumsiness! Geun must be under those blankets; you scared him!" The Usul got on her knees and began to dig through the blankets, calling out the baby's name in a hushed voice.
She kept digging till her whole arm was burried; then her shoulders disappeared into the pile of fabric. Kym stuck her head in, her calls muffled in the cloth, crawling through till the two boys could only see her heels.
Then she was gone.
"Kym?" Choy said, startled. She didn't answer. "K-Kym...Kym?!" He scrambled to his feet and started to pull apart the pile.
"Wait, Choy! Wait!" cried Johyun, who took to the air. "Stop, what are you doing?!" He landed swiftly by the pile, just in time to catch the Kougra's tail. He held tight as the tail whipped around, dragging him behind Choy as the Kougra dug deeper into the dark tunnel of blankets...
Date: Feb 17th
"Where am I?" Dubew asked, looking around. The blankets had created a cavern around them, spacious and roomy. Tunnels branched out from the cave of blankets, leading off into nowhere, pitch-black voids.
"You are in my playroom," a voice said from behind him. Dubew turned around to see Geun's bright violet eyes staring back at him.
"Okay, who said that?" Dubew called out, though there was no one else in the room other than himself and the baby Acara.
"Who else could it be?" Geun asked rhetorically, his tiny lips forming complete words, let alone sentences.
"But... you... how... you can't speak!" Dubew stuttered out, utterly confused now.
"Oh, all of my toys can understand me." The Acara gestured to a pile of dolls that Dubew had neglected to notice. They were all Neopet dolls, ranging from the smallest pink Aisha to the largest disco Elephante. All of them stared in varying directions with black button eyes, shiny and unseeing, though they all looked quite lifelike...
"What do you mean, toys?" Dubew asked, more confused than ever. "I'm not one, and I can understand you fine."
"Have you looked at yourself?" Geun suggested, gesturing to the Ogrin now.
Dubew followed his gesture, looking down at himself, only to find that his once brilliant red fur had now turned to scarlet felt...
Date: Feb 17th
The blankets started to parachute into the air as the Kougra dug deeper, and as they descended again like a slowly advancing tide, Johyun panicked and let go of his friend's tail, scrabbling to get clear of the tangled, falling morass. As soon as the blankets lay in a still pile, the Scorchio advanced gingerly, not wanting to touch the soft cotton mountain.
"Choy," he called out in a quivering voice. "Choy, are you still in there?"
He looked around the room, and spying a hobbyuni, Johyun unscrewed the stuffed pink head from its stick body. Armed with this poking tool, he carefully jabbed at the blanket pile while calling in a voice that became ever more loud and shrill, "Choy! Dubew? Please, Kym, answer me! Geun, are you there?"
As he prodded and stirred the pile, he suddenly felt the stick dip as though it had fallen through a hole in the floor. Startled, Johyun withdrew the stick and used it to sweep the blankets off to one side... but there was no hole to be seen in the smooth hardwood floor of the nursery. The Scorchio took a step backward, dazed with bewilderment, and was soon jolted out of his stupor by a high-pitched scream from the yard outside the window.
Shaking his head to clear it of its lingering bemusement, Johyun quickly took wing and glided through the hallways of the house, bursting out the back door and into the yard. "Choy? Is that you?" Johyun called.
At first the Scorchio could not see who had screamed, but as his eyes adjusted to the growing darkness, he spotted a young Lenny who sat still and stunned in the yard next door. As Johyun quietly approached the fence, he could see that the Lenny's face was running with tears as she stared at a tangle of blankets that lay just at her feet in the grass.
Fearing he understood what had happened, Johyun asked, "Was that you who screamed?"
The Lenny barely moved her head as she replied with a mute nod.
"Was..." the Scorchio didn't know quite how to put his question delicately, but he made an attempt with, "Was there a baby in those blankets?"
As soon as the words left his lips, the Lenny began to howl with grief and her whole body heaved with sobs, the motion so violent that Johyun could just barely see that she was attempting to nod her head with a vigorous 'yes.'
Realising that he needed to be a bit gentler, Johyun asked softly, "And is the baby now missing?" The Lenny jumped to her feet to flee the question, and Johyun quickly added, "Just like my friends and the baby we were watching?"
At these words, the Lenny turned, her eyes wide with astonishment. She dragged a wing across her runny nose and hiccupped as she tried to take a deep breath. "Y... y... yes," she stammered. "It happened to you too?"
Johyun nodded and replied, "One minute we were watching the baby, and poof..."
"...he was gone," the Lenny completed.
"What do you think is happening?" Johyun asked, but before the Lenny could reply, the darkening sky was split by another fearful wail.
Choy continued to dig deeper into the blankets, oblivious to the fact that they were becoming a dark and narrowing channel all around him. At first he thought he had felt a tugging at his tail, but that sensation had soon passed, leaving only an insatiable desire to dig and burrow until he came out, at last... somewhere.
The Kougra purred deep in his throat as he saw a faint light appear and he twisted his body to dig in its direction. Using his draining strength, Choy made a leap toward the light and passed out of the blankets, falling roughly on his back. With a grunt, he raised himself off of the ground and shakily took to his feet.
A taunting laugh made the hackles rise on the back of his neck, and turning toward the voice, Choy was flabbergasted to see...
Date: Feb 18th
Kym. Her fur was all ruffled up, and her eyes glinted with malice and derangement. Her mouth opened and she let out another laugh.
"Kym?" Choy asked, at a loss for words. "What happened to you? Why is your fur messed up and..." He stopped to look around him. "Where are we?"
"My playroom." announced a voice. Geun crawled out from behind Kym's back.
"Did -- did you just talk?" Choy asked, amazed.
"What is with you and your friend?" the baby Acara spat, irritated. "Yes, I can talk. And I'm a whole lot more intelligent than you." Geun calmed himself and said, "This is my playroom. And you will be stuck here for all eternity."
"What's going on? Why is Kym acting strange, and how can you talk, and... and..." The Kougra just couldn't finish his sentence. Too much was going on.
"I can see you're troubled," said the Acara with mock concern. "Maybe your friend can help you." With that he produced a very familiar-looking doll.
"That's not my friend," Choy said, confused. "That's just a doll that looks a lot like..." He paused and tilted his head. Suddenly his paw flew up to his mouth. "Dubew!" he exclaimed, mortified. "What is going on here?"
"It's quite simple you see..."
Date: Feb 18th
"You're in my playroom," Geun repeated, this time gesturing at the blanketed walls. "Only my toys, others like me, and myself can enter."
"Others... like you?" Choy echoed. "What do you mean by that?"
"My, my! It seems you are even less intelligent than your friend! I think my statement made it quite obvious that others like me are simply that -- other babies."
Geun took a step closer to the Kougra, the plushie Dubew dangling from his small paws. From underneath his purple and white bib the Acara withdrew a pair of Plushie Acara Scissors. At first glance they appeared to be as soft as could be, but on closer inspection a sharp blade could be seen within the plush exterior. The baby Acara lifted the Dubew doll until his plush neck was in line with the scissor blades.
"Now," Geun said in a hushed whisper, just loud enough for Choy to hear. "You have to do something for me, or I cut off your friend's head!"
Choy gasped. He should've recognised it as an empty threat -- if Dubew was a doll, he could easily be sewn back together, but terror was clouding the Kougra's mind. In the background Kym continued her incoherent mumbling and laughing, wringing her paws together.
"I'll do whatever it is, just don't hurt Dubew! It's me who brought everyone into this mess!"
"Good," Geun replied evilly. "I need you to do something very important..."
"My poor Eggmond!" a Pteri sobbed, a bundle of purple blankets in her arms. "I just left him on his blankets to play and then..."
The Lenny placed a wing over her neighbour, her own tears mimicking that of the blue Pteri.
"My Jules is gone too; she just disappeared into this when I left her for a second..." She lifted a yellow blanket. "And this boy says the child he was babysitting along with his friends vanished into this!"
She pointed with her free wing to the pile of blue blankets Johyun had just brought outside. The Scorchio, Lenny, and Pteri stood around them in the yard of Geun's house, their eyes glittering in the light of the Flowery Paper Lanterns that lined the Lenny's fence.
"We must figure out where they've gone!" Johyun exclaimed, prodding the blankets with his feet. "One thing's for sure, though -- we can't get too close or we risk being sucked in ourselves."
The Pteri glanced at the purple bundle in her arms. "But I'm holding these, why aren't I disappearing?"
Johyun was perplexed by this truth. He had assumed that anyone who touched the blankets would be susceptible to entering the blanket world like he almost had, yet both these adults seemed immune to their effects.
"I'm... I'm not certain, but I think adults may not be affected," he stuttered.
"Poor Eggmond!" the Pteri began sobbing again. "How are we supposed to save them if we don't know where they are?"
Suddenly a thought hit Johyun like a lightning bolt.
"I've got an idea!" he exclaimed, glad he'd brought the hobbyuni handle outside along with Geun's blankets. "All we have to do is..."
Date: Feb 19th
"...go in there and find them ourselves."
"But how, if we'll get lost in there, just like the others?" the Lenny questioned, frowning.
"Ah, but we won't." Johyun held up the hobbyuni, showing it to them. He then stuck it into the soft earth, and it stood straight, strong and firm when Johyun pulled on it.
"Do you mind giving me those blankets?" he asked the Pteri. She handed them over, and being careful not to get lost in them, he tied them together, forming a chain. It was not long before the chain was quite long, almost long enough to go down the deepest hole in the woods of Meridell.
"I see what you mean," the Pteri said, grinning. Grabbing some more blankets, she continued to tie them together, the Lenny joining in. Soon they had a chain that could reach to the end of Neopia if it wanted to.
"Now, to tie it to the the hobbyuni..." Johyun wrapped it around the stick, making a tight knot. "And there! We can tie ourselves to it so we won't get lost." He turned to the Pteri. "Since you can't go down, it'll have to be her and me."
The Pteri nodded. "Of course, of course. And I'll keep a watch on the chain as well."
"Good." Johyun turned to the Lenny now. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
"Of course," the Lenny accepted. "Anything to have Jules safe and sound."
Johyun smiled and handed her one piece of the rope, as they had divided into two at one point so that both could go down. He began to wrap it around himself, and she followed suit.
After the blanket chain was tied around their waists, the faced the foreboding pile. "Are you ready?" Johyun asked, and the Lenny nodded. "Well, then, it's all or nothing."
With that, he crawled into the pile, the Lenny following close behind...
Date: Feb 19th
The Scorchio and the Lenny crawled deeper and deeper through the tunnel of never-ending blankets, using their wings to help propel them further under. With their own blankets still tied firmly around their waists, giving them the confidence to proceed, they neared the opening into the spacious playroom.
"What's this?" inquired Geun, looking predatorily at Choy. "Is that more guests I hear coming? You all really should have R.S.V.P.ed," the tiny, blue Acara mocked before letting out a shrill and piercing fit of laughter. Kym, who was now standing watchfully beside Geun, as if guarding him, laughed maniacally in unison.
It was a deranged choir of chuckles as Johyun toppled onto the room floor with a cushioned plop sound, followed by the Lenny girl. Johyun immediately turned to her and asked, "Are you okay?"
"Fine," she answered determinedly, although she was stretching out her left wing and slightly grimacing with pain.
"Johyun!" shouted Choy, who was so incredibly happy to see a familiar face that wasn't crazy or transformed into a plushie. But before the Scorchio could greet his friend with similar jubilation, Geun had dashed to a fluffy corner of the room and shouted, "As much as I'd love to stick around and have the whole 'Oh my goodness! Talking baby!' conversation again, your dear friend Choy and I have some business to attend to." And with that, the small, menacing Acara sunk swiftly into the playroom's blanketed floor, followed closely by Kym, who had an unrelenting hold on the poor Kougra and dragged him under with her.
Johyun dashed forward hopelessly to where the three sunk below the surface and caught a momentary glimpse of the frightened face of his friend Choy, before he was swallowed up entirely by the monstrous blankets...
Date: Feb 22nd
"Now, let me tell you what I want," said Guen with an evil cackle.
"Why?" asked Choy.
"Neopets these days! I told you do something for me or I cut your friend's head off!" screamed Guen, again menacing the Dubew plushie's neck with his scissors. "Now, I want you to join me, Choy. We will both rule all babies, even Boochi!" said Geun. "If you don't, you will never be allowed to return to your normal life and will remain here as my toy for as long as I choose. Your friends will be trapped here as well."
Choy had no other choice. He would either die in blankets or join Geun. He couldn't condemn his friends to that fate as well. "All right, I'll join you," Choy said.
By the time the others got in the blankets with the three , they saw Choy with Geun.
"Why, Choy, why?" Johyun asked.
"I have to do this, Johyun," said Choy. "To save you, and Dubew, and Kym."
"But... how do you know Geun isn't bluffing?" Johyun asked. "He's just a baby, after all; we should be able to outsmart him."
Geun's adorable little face crumpled with rage, and for a moment, it appeared that the baby Acara was on the verge of a tantrum. "You want me to prove that I'm not bluffing? Fine! Watch this..."
Date: Feb 22nd
With a sudden cry of defiance, Geun clamped the scissors around the plushie Dubew's neck and squeezed, but... nothing happened. It seemed that, being a baby, he wasn't strong enough to cut off the plushie's head.
"You're too weak to cut off Dubew's head!" Choy cried, surprise and relief evident in his feline features.
"I'm not weak!" Geun retorted, but Choy and Johyun could see the panic in his eyes. Geun tried squeezing the scissors together again, but he still couldn't cut through the thick cotton material of the plushie.
Choy started taunting Geun and, realising what his plan was, Johyun joined in, until the baby Acara became so angry that he threw the Dubew plushie against one of the walls.
"I've got it!" Johyun, who was closest to the wall that the plushie had been thrown against, cried. He dived toward the plushie, snatching it up off the floor and holding it up in the air in triumph.
"Now what're you going to do, Geun?"
"Yeah, you have nothing to threaten us with!" Choy added, advancing toward the baby Acara menacingly.
"Oh, yeah?" Geun snapped, standing his ground. "Attack Choy, Kym!"
Kym immediately lunged toward Choy, and unsuspecting of the sudden attack, Choy was tackled onto the floor.
"Choy!" Johyun cried, rushing to aid his friend.
Kym jerked her head around to face Johyun, staring at him with her wide, crazed eyes. But... it was still Kym. He knew that he wouldn't be able to hurt her.
Johyun slowed down, stopping a short distance away from where Kym had tackled Choy. "Now attack Johyun, Kym!" Geun screamed, seizing his opportunity...
Date: Feb 23rd
Kym lunged toward Johyun, her face a placid mask of indifference. As their gazes locked, the Scorchio thought he could still see his friend deep within her glassy eyes and was even more certain that he could never fight her, no matter what force was in control of her body. Bracing himself slightly for the impact, he allowed himself to be knocked to the ground by the flying Usul.
From his vantage point beneath Kym's restraining form, Johyun noted that Choy was not moving even though he was no longer pinned, and the Scorchio cried out his friend's name, "Choy!" Yet still the Kougra remained motionless.
Just as Johyun was about to scream again, a streak of red feathers passed through his line of vision, and Kym was knocked from off of him. Scrabbling to his feet, the Scrorchio saw that the Lenny was now on top of Kym, restraining her body with a wrestler's practised skill.
"I don't know why you two wouldn't fight this Usul," the Lenny said through panting breaths, "maybe because she's a girl, but I don't have a problem keeping her here while you figure out what's going on. I'll just use a little restraining move here I learned in my babysitting course."
"Babysitting," Johyun muttered pensively, "I almost forgot we were babysitting. What's going to happen when Geun's parents get home?"
"Exactly," answered the Lenny. "There's no way I'm going back up there without Jules. When the Lunar Festival is over and her parents get home..."
"The Lunar Festival!" Johyun cried. "Do you think this all has something to do with the Festival?" The Scorchio swept his arm to indicate the strange other playroom they were in. "Some magic, some thing is happening here that I don't understand. But there must be a logical explanation for everything."
From the corner of the playroom, a nasty chuckle interrupted the Scorchio's speech. "Logical explanation," Geun mocked. "It's always a logical explanation with you big kids, geez, you may as well be grownups. Don't you even remember what it was like to be a baby? To believe that your Mummy's face disappears and reappears during peek-a-boo? To know that there are monsters in your closet? Magic is standing up for the first time. And saying your first word? That's a leap of faith that cannot be explained with logic. Pfffft. You don't understand anything because you don't remember anything."
Johyun dismissively turned his back on the ranting baby and bent down to take Choy's head into his cupped hands. As he leaned in to stare at the Kougra's face, Choy's eyes blinked repeatedly until he sat up suddenly, rubbing the side of his head tenderly.
Choy growled deeply and tensed his body to spring when he saw the Lenny struggling with his friend, but Johyun placed a restraining hand on his friend's arm. "It's OK, Choy, I think that Kym needs to be stopped from hurting herself just now."
Suddenly, a slow and jerky music box melody began to ring nearly tunelessly throughout the playroom. When the two friends turned to find its source, they noted Geun straining with two hands to turn the crank of an enormous jack-in-the-box. Through grunts and groans, the Acara muttered, "You won't help me? Fine. You won't join me? Fine. You won't listen to me" Geun paused to wipe his brow and levelled a stare of intended malevolence toward the Kougra and Scorchio, but the effect was too adorable to be menacing. "Fine," he spat. "But I think I have someone here that you will be forced to listen to."
Geun refocused all of his strength on the turning of the handle, and Johyun and Choy watched with mild amusement. As the familiar nursery song plinked out its final few notes, the lid of the box sprung open and released from within was...
Date: Feb 23rd
...the disembodied and plushified, but still fearsome, head of the great Lord Kass. It bounced upon a lighter purple coil, but the snapping beak and roaming eyes revealed that not was all that it seemed. This plushie head of Kass was somehow alive!
Johyun and Choy's looks of amusement were wiped from their faces, Choy's replaced with terror and Johyun's covered by a look of complete and utter disgust. The two friends glanced at each other, sharing a brief nod as they did so.
We have to, it's the only way, thought Johyun, hoping his Kougra friend would somehow hear him.
Choy nodded and Johyun crossed his fingers. This could turn out one of two ways: either it would be a complete disaster that resulted in them stuck in this playroom of blankets forever, or it would be a not-so-complete disaster that resulted in them never being able to get a babysitting job again. In this situation, the latter was barely more favourable.
"Ready?" mouthed Choy silently.
Geun was cackling along with his Spring Kass in Box, the two looking at each other for a short moment, just long enough for the Scorchio and Kougra to bring their plan into action.
"Ready," mouthed Johyun in reply.
Choy began stalking toward Geun while Johyun, the plushie Dubew still in hand, approached Kym and the Lenny from the side.
"What do you think you're doing? Step back!" screeched the Spring Kass in a box as it swivelled around to spot Choy. "I may be a toy, but..."
The whole box leapt forward, Kass's beak snapping as it reached for Choy's legs. The Kougra took a shaky step backward. He hadn't anticipated how vicious a child's toy could be!
"Get off the Usul," mumbled Johyun to the Lenny on the other side of the room. "I'll deal with her now."
The Lenny had a questioning look on her face. "Are you sure you can do it? I saw you and your Kougra friend hesitate before."
Johyun nodded. "I can do it."
The Lenny hastily jumped up from her position, Kym flailing in her new-found freedom. Drool cascaded from one side of the Usul's mouth, her fur in wild clumps over her body. Johyun trembled as he prepared to evade his friend's attacks. Kym made the first move, her jaws gnashing at air as Johyun jumped to the side. This was going to be harder than he'd thought! Leaping back into the Usul's line of vision, Johyun closed his eyes and held out Dubew, hoping his plan would work...
Date: Feb 24th
Kym stared at the doll that was once Dubew. She was snarling madly. Then she took a good look at the doll. A look of realisation came across her face for a moment.
But then it was gone when Geun said, "Don't let him distract you!"
Kym started to stalk toward the terrified Scorchio.
"Kym! It's me! It's your friend! And so is he!" he said, pointing to the plushie Dubew. "Geun turned him like this! He will do the same to you if you don't snap out of it!" Johyun yelled at her.
She looked at the doll once more. Soon the look of recognition came back again. Before Guen could say anything she said something first.
"Johyun?" she asked. She had stopped snarling and gnashing and looked normal again. "What happened?" Kym asked, her voice confused.
"To make a long story short, Geun turned you into some monster, and he is trying to trap us in this little world or 'playpen' of his," the Scorchio explained hurriedly.
The Usul stared at him in disbelief. Then she looked at Geun, whose face was a picture of rage and frustration.
"It doesn't matter if you messed up one little plan. I can still trap you ALL here," Geun said with an evil smirk.
"Now I believe you," Kym said...
Date: Feb 25th
"I'm telling you," Johyun said with frustration, "nothing in this crazy-backwards-upside-down world makes any sense at all."
"Again with your logic!" Geun screamed, his voice dangerously close to tantrum level. "This is my world, and it follows the rules of my logic." The Acara began to stomp and jump, working himself into a pique of frenzy. "And in my world, a Spring Kass in the Box is one of the scariest things in the playroom. I mean, really! Who would think this is an appropriate baby toy?" Geun gestured toward the still-gnashing purple beak, being very careful to keep his paw well away from its chomping power. "And as the scariest thing in the playroom, I am sending it after you!"
As the Kougra, Scorchio, and Lenny started to retreat from the advancing attack of the monster in a box, Kym stepped in front and yelled, "Everyone, close your eyes!"
"What?!" the other three yelled in confused unison.
"No time to explain, just close your eyes, and to be safe, make sure the Dubew plushie's eyes are covered, too!"
Following Kym's lead, everyone closed their eyes tightly. Johyun turned the Dubew plushie and clutched its head protectively against his chest, cringing slightly as he heard the thumping booms that the Kass in the Box was making across the floor. Just as the chomping and thudding became unbearably close, the room was filled with silence.
The Scorchio was the first to hesitantly open his eyes, and seeing that the Kass in the Box had disappeared, he relaxed his grip on Dubew and asked, "What happened?"
"Object Permanence," Kym replied smugly.
The Lenny approached and with a smack of her wing against her forehead said, "Of course! We learned about that at the Babysitting Course." Turning to Johyun and Choy, she asked, "Didn't you boys even take the course?" When they shook their heads in the negative, she continued, "If we have to follow the rules of baby logic in this world then so do the other objects here. For instance -- Object Permanence. When a baby, like Geun here, closes his eyes or accidentally hides a toy under a blanket, he believes that the toy no longer exists. That's why babies laugh at peek-a-boo -- they are relieved and excited to see their Mummy reappear. When we wanted the Kass monster to go away, we simply needed to close our eyes." Turning to the Usul, she concluded, "That was brilliant!"
Kym began to blush and answered, "I don't know about brilliant but..." Her words were interrupted by a piercing wail coming from Geun's corner of the room. As the friends turned toward the sound, the wailing became a hiccupping-scream-crying-fussing that caused them to cover their ears with pained disgust.
"What do we do about this?" Choy asked, pivoting his gaze between the two girls.
"I'd say 'take a Babysitting Course,' but there's no time for that now," Kym replied, rolling her eyes toward the Lenny.
The Lenny began to giggle and said, "But maybe there's time for this." With a flourish of wing, she produced a Valentine Baby Dummy from the pocket of her dress. "A professional babysitter is always prepared."
The Usul and Lenny hooked arms and approached the baby Acara, now in full-blown tantrum mode, and with quick reflexes popped the soother into Geun's mouth. He began to slurp and gum at the dummy, and although his cheeks still ran with fat salty tears, his breathing began to calm down and his eyelids struggled to remain open.
Just as soon as the crying ceased, and everyone heaved sighs of relief, a new sound split the emergent silence: there was an explosion of bangs and whistles, slightly dulled as though heard through walls of soft blankets.
"The fireworks!" Kym said in a panicked voice. "The Lunar Festival must be over. The parents are going to start coming home, and we haven't even had a chance to look for the missing babies!"
"I just can't go back without Jules!" the Lenny exclaimed.
"I don't think you'll need to," Choy replied, it being his turn to look smug. "If we're playing with baby logic, then I have an idea." Grabbing onto Johyun's foot, and waving away the Scorchio's protest, he began to wiggle his friend's largest toe, saying, "This little Snorkle went to market." Moving on the next toe, and then the next in descending order of size, he continued, "This little Snorkle stayed home. This little Snorkle had Snowbeast. This little Snorkle had none. And this little Snorkle," the Kougra said, drawing out the final sound enticingly, "went 'wee wee wee,' all the way home!"
As soon as he finished, a half-dozen babies came crawling and tottering on unsteady legs from the recesses of the strange playpen, giggling and chortling, waving their own small feet and claws to be the next one to play.
The Lenny rushed forward and scooped up a baby Lutari, "Jules!" she exclaimed, tossing the tot high into the air and catching him again in a fit of giggles.
Johyun smiled broadly at the reunion, turned to Kym, and asked, "Okay, Miss Professional Babysitter. And how do we use baby logic to get these sprogs back home?" Waving the small plushie, he added, "And what about Dubew?"
The smile began to fade on the Usul's face. Just as she was about to admit she had no more plans, a rope ladder fell from the centre of the soft, cottony ceiling over their heads. Kym's smile broke out on her face once more as she pointed up, up to where a blue Pteri was descending the ropes, seeming to appear from thin air.
When the Pteri hopped down to the ground, she scanned the group of babies and surged toward a smooth white and orange egg that lay still in the middle of the group.
"Eggmond! My baby is safe!" She ran toward the egg and gently picked it up, rocking it smoothly in her wings.
"Mrs. Terfum?" Johyun asked. "I thought that only kids and babies could cross over into this world?"
"Boochied," the Pteri replied crossly. "Any other time I would have been livid to have been attacked by that little brat but..." She reached down and planted a soft kiss on the small egg. "But, this time I will forgive him. Quickly, let's get up the rope. It's getting late; Kreludor had almost passed through the night sky before I was zapped, and I have a feeling that this... this... strange magic has something to do with the Lunar Festival."
The group of friends didn't need to be encouraged further. With each taking one or two of the babies in their arms, they climbed the rope ladder up to where it disappeared into the ceiling and found themselves once more in the dark and claustrophobic tunnels of blankets. The babies started to fuss at the darkness, all except for Geun who lay still and softly snoring in Kym's embrace. At the sound of the crying, several panicky voices rang through the muffled walls of the tunnel. Following these sounds, the friends emerged back into Geun's proper bedroom, where the waiting parents of the wayward babies met them, scooping up their dear children in arms weakened by hours of panic.
No sooner had the group of parents and babies left, and Geun had been placed gently into his crib, than his own parents arrived back home from their evening out.
Entering the nursery, his mother, a festively dressed Uni, said, "Oh, how sweet that you all stayed in here with Geun while he slept." She leaned into his crib to give her son a kiss on the cheek and turned her head to ask, "I trust he didn't give you any trouble?"
Choy, Kym, and Johyun exchanged wary looks, and the Usul replied, "No, ma'am. No trouble."
Johyun increased the pressure on his grip around Dubew's still-transformed body, feeling guilty and shocked that there had been no magical restoration for his Ogrin friend. Not knowing how to explain, the Scorchio choked back tears and managed a smile, "No, ma'am. No trouble at all." Maybe... he thought to himself. Maybe at next year's Lunar Festival...
He left the thought unfinished as Geun's father entered with a gift for his infant son: a hideous-looking Meerca Gnome in the Box.
Date: Feb 26th
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