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Week 455
You are on Week 456
Week 457

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 Fifty Six Ends Friday, April 16th

Brel held his breath as he dug through the piles of rubbish, stirring up discarded Zeenana peels, rotten shoes, and empty Neocola cans. Rumour had it that Neopians had found priceless treasures among the filthy mounds of the Meridell Rubbish Dump, but after a few dedicated weeks of pawing around in the rubbish, Brel hadn't discovered anything except for the fact that he had a very strong gag reflex.

Not that the Kyrii had actually expected to have his fortune made by sorting through other Neopets' rubbish, but he couldn't help but feel it was his last hope of finding the Neopoints he so badly needed. With a sigh, he wiped his forehead with the back of his paw, leaving a brownish-green streak on his red fur.

"Well, maybe tomorrow," he murmured. The sun was inching up the Meridellian sky, and Brel knew better than to hang around the Rubbish Dump when the sun hit the endless piles of garbage.

The Kyrii wove his way among the mountains of trash, kicking rusted tins as he went. A lilting wind blew, which would've been refreshing if it hadn't stunk of mouldy cheese, and a ragged piece of paper drifted across Brel's path. He stooped to pick it up. Maybe it was a piece of some ancient lost scroll that he could sell to the Lenny at the Altadorian Archives.

"Who am I kidding?" he muttered. "It probably doesn't even have anything written on it."

But there was indeed writing scrawled across the paper, though it was far from the historic prose he'd expected. The Kyrii's eyes widened incredulously, and he almost forgot the stench of the rubbish as he read the page.

Brel, I know what you've been up to, and I'm telling you right now that you're in great danger... from me. Yeah, that's right. If you don't give me what I want, you might find yourself sunk as deep as the statue of the Darkest Faerie. Watch yourself, because if you cross me again, it'll be the last thing you ever do, I promise. Hatefully yours...

Editor's Note: This week's Storytelling beginning was written from an idea submitted by a Neopets user. Keep sending in your ideas for Storytelling beginnings, and they might just appear in an upcoming contest!

Author: All you are is a garbage picker...
Date: Apr 12th
...the Rubbish Dump.

Brel blinked in surprise. He almost rubbed his eyes to make sure he was reading the scrap correctly, but he quickly stopped himself from doing so. Given the filth on his hands, this was a very wise decision.

Yet no amount of blinking changed the contents of the paper. Now that Brel looked at it more closely, he noticed that it wasn't written in ink, but rather some sort of dark brown sludge, probably composed of rotten vegetable matter, sticky Neocola, and other waste products that it was probably better not to think about. Yes, if the Rubbish Dump were to write a note, this is probably how it would go about doing so.

Brel shook his head, partially to discourage the cloud of Petpetpets surrounding him from getting any closer, but mostly to dislodge the silly idea from his brain. Am I really considering this? That an inanimate patch of land could write? Or do anything other than just sit there, for that matter? I mean, it's not like this Dump could possibly possess any sentience. He paused for a moment to commend himself for using a big word like "sentience." No, it can't be. It's just a coincidence. And so Brel continued on his way out of the Dump.

Just then, another scrap of paper fluttered out of the air and landed in front of the Kyrii. I'm going to ignore it, thought Brel, and he kept walking. But a second breeze caught the paper, and the gust again deposited it at Brel's feet.

Brel was beginning to panic now and broke into a run. He tried to keep telling himself that he was being foolish, but suddenly the towers of refuse surrounding him seemed intimidating, almost malevolent.

Soon, Brel could make out the dump's exit in front of him. He quickened his run, eager to get out and write off the whole incident as a strange hallucination brought on by the noxious gases wafting from the garbage.

When he was almost out, though, one of the huge piles of garbage suddenly toppled down, blocking his path. The Kyrii skidded to a halt and looked around, panicked. This was an awful lot of coincidences. His only options now were to return the way he'd come and then look for another way out, or to climb through the deep pile of trash in front of him. The latter didn't seem very appealing or safe, and so he turned around, trying to keep his fear in check.

But as soon as he turned, the second scrap of paper blew directly into his face, blinding him. Brel shrieked and flapped his arms in panic for several moments before he figured out what had happened. Once he had calmed down, he removed the paper from his face and, against his better judgment, began to read it.

I won't let you get away that easily, Brel. You're going to pay for what you've done to me...

Author: rosabellk
Date: Apr 12th
"What did I do?" Brel shouted, his voice cutting through the early morning air and bouncing off the mountainous piles of trash. Silence answered his cry as the Kyrii stood there, his eyes desperately scanning the area. His heart thudded in his chest like an ancient drum, but there was no answer. The only sound to be heard was the distant chirping of a wild Weewoo -- so soft and comforting despite the desperate nature of the situation.

Brel took in several deep breaths, trying to ignore the foul scents that assaulted his sensitive nose as he closed his eyes. "No more going through the Rubbish Dump for me," he muttered to himself. "I'm so tired, I'm letting my imagination run wild." He laughed softly, trying to force a weak smile upon his face. Quietly, he tried to calm himself.

I just imagined those notes, he told himself. I'm just tired and letting my imagination run wild. I'm sure that's all that is. Finally, he opened his eyes. The pile of trash across his exit path was still there, but it no longer looked as threatening. It was simply a stinky, pile of rotten garbage that had fallen. Crossing over it still didn't appeal to him simply because he hated stepping in such filth, but he felt confident there was another way out of this place. Calmly, he turned and started down another path.

The wind picked up again, the foul scents whipping about and lashing at him. More scraps of paper flew in his face, and he was able to make out a few words.

You're not leaving.

Brel tried to cry out, but trash began raining down on him. It seemed to grab at him with wet, mouldering fingers and drag him down within its depths. I'm going to drown in trash, he thought desperately before a dark wave of unconsciousness washed over him.

***

The room stank horribly was the first thing that Brel became aware of as he slowly opened his eyes. "What's going on?" he mumbled, struggling to a sitting position. He scanned the dark room, but could only see a bit of a nearby wall, which appeared to made of trash.

"I see you're awake," a voice hissed nearby.

Brel jumped up, and spun around to search for the speaker...

Author: tj_wagner
Date: Apr 13th
At first all Brel could make out was a shadow amid darker shadows -- a long, serpentine shape silhouetted against a miscellany of the tightly packed garbage that formed the chamber's wall.

Then the figure's head turned to Brel and opened its eyes, two golden-yellow slits that chilled the Kyrii in their intensity. Brel stepped back with a gasp as, sinuous and powerful, the body of a green Hissi wound its way toward him.

"I am sorry I cannot extend a more cordial reception to you, my friend..." said the Hissi, the slightest sibilance marking her speech.

"F-friend?" asked Brel. "I don't know you --"

"Oh, but we have been in touch. Many times, in fact, you have even called my name."

"Your... name?"

"You say it often enough, and angrily enough, too -- 'Scrap'," spoke the Hissi, her face almost frighteningly impassive.

"...But that's when I'm referring to the worthless scraps of junk that are all over the --"

A violent twitch of the Hissi's tail silenced Brel.

"Over the past few weeks you have been wreaking a disrespectful havoc in my piles of treasure with your grubby, seeking paws."

Brel felt that the stench of the place must finally have been addling his brain, and his confusion turned to frustration.

"Treasure? This is place is full of trash -- useless, disgusting rubbish. I've been searching for weeks for anything valuable, and believe me when I tell you I've found nothing but rot."

Scrap stared at Brel with her wide golden eyes, the only beautiful thing in her dirt-caked features.

"You are wrong. You and everyone else who disdains of the Rubbish Dump."

"How can I be wrong about this?" retorted Brel, quite bravely, considering that he felt as though the Hissi could collapse the roof of this makeshift room with one sweep of her muscular tail.

"Decay is transformation."

"...what?"

"Follow."

And with that, the Hissi plunged head-first into the wall of garbage, pushing a path through it as easily as though it were water.

And Brel, preferring to attempt escape than risk being entombed into this vile rubbish-room, followed.

***

Brel followed Scrap's tail through the makeshift tunnel, holding his breath until he thought he would have to breathe the foul smell of garbage or faint -- until finally, they broke back out to the surface.

But this was not the surface that Brel was expecting, with endless heaps of refuse scattered everywhere, adding their foul smell to the air: they were in a breathtakingly beautiful garden, carefully immured on all sides by high, mossy walls.

Scrap turned to Brel with a half-smile on her soiled features. "Decay is transformation, because nothing truly ends."

"The apple cores, the Zeenana peels, the turnips, the broken chairs, the rotten shoes... under my care, they turn to mulch, to soil, and from there they spring to new growth. Lush grass, ivy, moss -- daffodils, Sponderolas, orchids, Whirlygigs -- I have an orchard, too..."

Scrap pushed aside some thick berry bushes to reveal a shaded copse of fruit trees, their limbs laden with exquisite fruit -- the product of the hundreds of half-eaten pears, Pleto Melons, and oranges, Tangellas, and Dewy Apples that were tossed carelessly at the dump.

Brel breathed in deeply to clear out the reek of the garbage that still ghosted in his nose, and Scrap shook her head.

"Decay is the smell of refuse, Brel. But not in that sense. Decay is the smell of life refusing to end."

"I think I understand," said Brel, staring hard at the garden and its towering walls as he listened to the Hissi speak.

He was realising slowly that the walls were mounds of garbage, covered in thick pads of beautifully healthy moss -- this place must be somewhere in the very heart of the Rubbish Dump, a place that had smelled so horribly bad that Brel had not been able to approach it from the outside.

Brel turned his gaze to the garden itself -- but what caught his eye was not the gorgeous flowers and the heavy fruit, but what he could see shining, here and there, amidst the plants' roots...

Gold was scattered carelessly about, as though everything good and pure in the dump had been drawn out of the decaying rubbish by the plants, these sparkling mineral riches included.

Brel cast a sidelong look at Scrap, who was absently tending to a small flower-bush nearby. Here was what Brel had come to the dump to find -- treasure beyond imagining. Now he had to decide whether or not he was going to take it as his own...

Author: larkspurlane
Date: Apr 13th
As Brel watched Scrap tend to a small clump of golden Kau Slips, lumps of gold winked teasingly at him from roots and leaves. His heart thudded painfully in his chest. The gold he'd been seeking for so long, the gold that he'd wanted so much... it was all here.

He let out a breath as he imagined what he could buy with all of it. Paint brushes, perhaps; he wouldn't mind looking fancy instead of scruffy for a change. Unconsciously, Brel took a step toward the riches, his hands itching to plunge into them and feel their lustre up close.

But then... he hesitated. Do you really want to steal from her? His conscience nagged at him painfully and he turned, guiltily, to look at Scrap. The Hissi, thankfully, hadn't noticed his blatant staring, and was still absorbed in her gardening. Brel gnawed his lip as he pondered the choices before him. I could always grab the gold, make a run for it and never return. Still.. he'd never actually stolen something before...

And this garden... it was something else. Something so pure and pristine, so beautiful, that he could hardly believe that it had been born from waste -- the dredge, the refuse that Neopians carelessly threw behind and never bothered to think about.

It was so beautiful.

Do I really want to take this away?

Great, now he was having conversations with himself in his head. Perhaps the noxious dump fumes had permanently damaged his brain. It's not stealing, idiot! The Rubbish Dump is public property, anyway. And besides, this Hissi -- this Scrap -- sent me threatening letters, remember? Why should I feel guilty for-- Wait. Threatening letters?

"Why did you send me those notes?" Brel asked abruptly, his voice harshly disrupting the tranquillity of the garden. Scrap paused from her minstrations and raised her eyes to his. "I mean, what did I do to you?" the Kyrii continued. "I mean, yeah, I've been messing up your rubbish piles and all, and I'm really sorry about that--" he paused for a moment, hoping that his sincerity showed -- "but I don't see why you're so..." He trailed off, trying to find a word that would fit.

"Angry? Strange?" Scrap offered silkily, slithering toward him. "Delusional? Obsessive? Insane?"

Brel hesitated. "I didn't mean..."

"I know exactly what you mean." The green Hissi flicked her powerful tail to and fro, her eyes gazing at him unblinkingly.

"It's just... weird. Why do you live in the Rubbish Dump? What do you want with me? Who are you? What... what is this place?" Brel had never felt so foolish as the questions spilled forth upon his tongue, faster than he could swallow them.

"Ah." Scrap exhaled, her eyes closing briefly as her tongue darted out to taste the air. Brel swallowed.

"They told me I was crazy," the Hissi said, her syllables sliding softly from her lips as she spoke. "They told me it would never work. Well, I proved them wrong. What you see today is proof of that."

Proof of what? Brel wondered. I wish she'd stop being so cryptic. Aloud he said, "I don't understand. What's insane? And who are you? What is your connection to the Rubbish Dump? Who--"

Scrap let out a lilting hiss that sounded vaguely like a laugh, her tail swishing behind her. "But don't you see? I am the Rubbish Dump..."

Author: autotune
Date: Apr 14th
Brel shook his head sadly and thought to himself, This Hissi said it herself -- she's delusional, insane. Probably from a lifetime of inhaling these toxic fumes, eating fruits grown in this tainted earth. Aloud he said, "I understand how you must feel, that you've been here for so long that you identify with the Rubbish Du--"

The Hissi cut him off with a sibilant exhortation, rising up on her tail, and causing her head to loom threateningly over the Kyrii. "I do not identify with the Rubbish Dump any more than you identify with that pathetically scruffy form you call your own body. I am the dump and it is me. I am the guardian and the treasure. The crucible and the fire." Scrap lowered her head until she was at eye-level with Brel and began to wind slow circles around him on the path.

"That can't be," Brel insisted, turning to maintain eye-contact with the odd Hissi, not wanting to turn his back on her. "The Rubbish Dump isn't alive."

"Do you not see life?" Scrap swept her tail in the direction of the gardens and the orchard, indicating their vibrant proof of life with one broad gesture.

"Okay, yes," Brel agreed, "but the Rubbish Dump isn't sentient." The Kyrii was pleased to be able to use the word that had struck him as appropriate earlier. He was so proud of himself that he crossed his arms over his chest and jutted his chin out challengingly.

Scrap moved to within a Mootix-length from Brel's nose and whispered, "Who told you the dump isn't sentient?" The Hissi squinted her eyes mischievously and drew out the word luxuriously, ending abruptly on the final consonant in a way that sent rivers of flesh crawling down the Kyrii's nape and back. He shuddered involuntarily and withdrew a few staggering steps.

"Well, I guess no one did, but I assumed..."

The Hissi continued, "As decay is simply the transformation of life to different states, so too does intelligence accumulate, hibernate, await its chance at renewal. Isn't that what you mean by sentience? Intelligence? Self-awareness? Am I not the proof that the dump possesses these traits?"

Now that Brel thought about it, he had never really wondered what the word "sentient" meant. I know that there's a difference between a Lupe and a turnip, he thought. But is intelligence the only difference?

Confused, Brel was forced to nod his agreement that Scrap did appear to be proof of sentience, but asked, "I don't understand how you are the dump and a Hissi, too."

"The how is not important," Scrap replied. "Soon, all of Neopia will see my form and know the wrath that I have harboured against all of you who would ill use me. I am nearly free."

The Kyrii was stunned to imagine this wild-eyed Hissi slithering out the gates of the Rubbish Dump and into Meridell and beyond. He scanned the garden in which he stood, looking for an escape route, and his eyes were drawn once more to the carelessly stacked piles of golden coins that lay about as though they were the refuse in this backward place.

"I see you are drawn to the gold," Scrap noted in a taunting lilt, appearing suddenly behind his right ear. "Say the word, and it is yours."

Brel snapped his head around to face the Hissi. How did I let her get behind me? he wondered. "What do you mean it could be mine?"

"Did you not come here seeking treasure?"

The Kyrii knew it would be pointless to deny the reason for his scavenging, so he shrugged noncommittally.

"And do you not think that all of this gold would make you happy?"

Again, Brel simply nodded carefully.

"And do you not remember the first note I sent to you? That I expect you to give me what I want?"

The Kyrii felt his stomach go suddenly cold and hard, as though he had swallowed an enormous frozen snowball, and he stumbled back into a Blackberry Bush, scrabbling at its thorny branches with frantic fingers. "What do you want from me?"

"I want my freedom. I have achieved what they said was impossible: I have assumed a living, breathing, sentient form. But to be truly free, I need one more thing from you." Scrap drew nearer, pinning the Kyrii to the prickly bushes, and added, "I need..."

Author: mamasimios
Date: Apr 14th
"...a true Neopian to declare my freedom."

Brel stared into the Hissi's flaming eyes for a few seconds before uttering, "Huh?"

"You see, the line between life and material is very thin, but a line no less," Scrap explained mysteriously. "I may have formed myself into a living body, but I need someone from the other side of existence to pull me into the living side."

"Slow down, this is confusing," said Brel angrily.

"I need someone to guide me out of the Rubbish Dump and into Neopia," Scrap barked as she loomed closer to the Kyrii. "Then I will finally exist."

"But... but why me?" asked the perplexed Kyrii.

"Because, Brel, of all the Neopets who have visited me, you have the strongest desire." She glanced toward the gold. "Set me free, and I'll give you as much gold as you want."

This sounded like a good deal to Brel. He did not have to do much, and he could have loads of treasure. Although, he recalled Scrap mentioning 'wrath' that was never good. The Kyrii may not have been too bright, but he could tell when he was being manipulated.

"What if I don't want to help you?" Brel stated boldly.

Scrap feigned being hurt and sighed. "You would really walk away from the treasure of your dreams?"

Before Brel could reply her voice became venomous. "If you decline my offer you will be buried here forever. I'm sure I'll be able to find another greedy Neopet willing to aid me."

Brel was getting nervous now. He could help the Hissi to leave the dump, but how would her existence affect Neopia? On the other hand, if he was crushed, then Scrap could still escape eventually and he would be helpless. He decided that he would rather stay alive and have a chance to find a solution.

"Okay, I'll lead you out," he sighed.

Scrap's eyes lit up and a malevolent grin spread across her face.

She hissed, "Excellent..."

Author: a_purplepossum
Date: Apr 15th
Brel's paws began to tremble violently as he swung himself around to find the exit. To his shock he found that he didn't remember which way he had come into the garden. He frantically looked in every direction, but the moss walls all looked the same to him.

"I'm sorry, I don't know the way out..." he whispered, his voice shaky.

"Neopians from the outside, they don't know a thing," Scrap murmured as she slithered in front of the Kyrii. "It's this way, but you must go first."

Brel's eyes followed the line of her outstretched wing until he spotted a hole among the moss-covered refuse. With a certain hesitance in his step he stepped forward, tiny beads a sweat beginning to form on his brow. The Kyrii feared being trapped here forever, despite the seemingly infinite treasure, but he also feared leading this Hissi to the lights of Neopia. She was obviously mentally fragile, convincing herself that she needed his guidance to get out, the fact she thought she was the Rubbish Dump in the first place... and if she really was the Rubbish Dump incarnate, well, that just complicated matters even further.

Brel took his first step into the sour-scented, rubbish-lined walls of the exit and immediately his gag reflex kicked in. The smells that surrounded him were even worse than he remembered, and as the Kyrii pushed his way out through empty boxes, broken toys, and the remnants of fruit he almost began to feel trapped.

"What's the matter?" hissed Scrap when Brel paused. "Don't you want that gold anymore?"

"No... well, I really do want that gold, but..."

"But what?" exclaimed the Hissi, her wings flapping in an intimidating matter. "You don't have a choice, Brel. Either way you're going to be trapped here... err... I mean, you better do as I say or I'll trap you in garbage forever!"

Brel's ears pricked up. Had he really just heard what he thought he had? The way out was close; slivers of sunlight broke through the walls of decomposed objects. As he continued forward, pretending to be contrite, Brel knew that the moment they broke through the cover would be his only chance to run. Of course, if Scrap really had been here her whole life, then she would easily be able to catch him up if he made even the tiniest mistake.

Suddenly Brel was blinded by the midday sun, and he flailed his arms in an attempt to block his eyes. It was now or never, but already he could feel Scrap's hot breath on the back of his neck...

Author: sadinei
Date: Apr 15th
As the Kyrii shifted his body ever so slightly to make a run for it, he felt the Hissi's strong tail lay on his shoulder in a surprisingly delicate manner.

"I would take much consideration into my next action if I were you, Brel."

As thick lump formed in his throat, Brel vainly tried to feign nonchalance. "I don't know what you're talking about. Just making our way out of the dump."

"You think I can't feel your every movement? Every step taken on my territory has a profound effect on me. I can sense your thoughts with every subtle change in body language, even the most subconscious thoughts. You want to run. You think you'll run, but you won't."

"Oh, I won't, won't I?" the Kyrii spat back with an unexpected burst of confidence. His head was spinning from the sly Scrap's mind games, and he was sick of her trying to manipulate him.

"No," she replied in a calm, liquid voice. For the first time since Brel had met her, the Hissi's golden eyes weren't clouded with malevolence. Instead, they almost seemed to dance with enthusiasm. "You won't run, because you know you can't get away. You won't run, because you know it would get you nowhere. Most of all, however, you won't run, because you want that gold."

Brel looked away for a moment, breaking the trance he seemed to have slipped into. If he were to ever make it out of this grotesque place, what would be waiting for him on the other side? After all, he had been reduced to spending all his time digging through other pets' garbage just to make ends meet. How terrible would it be to indulge himself for once?

"All right, just keep telling me where to go."

Scrap snickered and gestured with her head to the foul mound in front of them.

"Once we're over this hill, we'll be out."

Not taking a second to think, the Kyrii broke into a sprint, not even grimacing at the rotten pile he had to climb through. All he wanted in this moment was to be on clean earth again. Finally making it onto the other side to the beautiful, inviting green grass, he took a deep breath of fresh air. Feeling giddy and lightheaded, he let a laugh escape his lips for the first time in ages it seemed. He wasn't even frightened anymore as he turned around to ask Scrap, "So what am I supposed--"

But she was gone.

Brel staggered a bit, trying to wrap his head around everything that had happened. Was it really all just a dump-induced hallucination? The Kyrii's heart sank to the floor as he tried to remind himself that this was probably a positive thing. Sure, this meant that there was never any gold, but it also meant that there was no deranged garbage Hissi slithering around Neopia wreaking havoc in the innocent. As he started on his way back to his small, beat-up shack, Brel was certain that he had never desired a bath so badly in all his lifetime.

***

The next morning, as the Weewoos chirped, Brel had every intention of sleeping in. However, a shimmer of light kept encroaching on his closed eyes. Finally, with a sigh, the Kyrii gave up and managed to pull himself out of bed.

His eyes widened with surprise as he saw what was in his house.

There, glimmering in the morning sun, sat heaps of sparkling gold nuggets. As he tried to take in the sight, a dingy-looking scrap of paper flitted through his window onto the floor in front of him. With an incredulous expression, Brel bent to pick it up.

I told you that you would be rewarded. And now this is yours forever.

Leaping into the air, the Kyrii finally let himself enjoy the moment. His thoughts raced as he thought of all the luxurious items he could buy. First he was going to head to the Chocolate Factory, and then to Fine Furniture. Except before buying better furniture, he probably should buy a better Neohome first.

Brel tried to remind himself to take a deep breath and calm down before he started making all these plans. He glided toward one of the gold piles in almost a dream-like state. Reaching out, he picked up one single nugget in his paw. Taking a quick glance around to make sure no one was watching, he put the gold up to his face and rubbed in gently against his cheek.

Just then, a fetid smell filled the Kyrii's nostrils.

He pulled the paw away from his face to see that the golden nugget had crumbled into... into bits of decaying garbage. With a gasp, he dropped the stinky substance to the floor.

"No," he whispered as he took up another golden nugget, only to have it wither and crumble into refuse as well.

Suddenly the entire Neohome filled with the putrid smell. It was so strong that it burned his eyes and made him gag worse than he ever had in his nights, or even that bizarre day he had spent in the Rubbish Dump.

The Kyrii ran to escape his home, but when he reached to turn the doorknob, it crumbled in his paw just as easily as the gold had. "No!" he screamed, as he watched his door, his walls, his furniture all begin to transform into festering rubbish. With a defiant cry, the Kyrii pushed with all his might through what was once his door as his entire Neohome collapsed into a pile of garbage. Panting, Brel tried to hold back tears as he looked at what was left of his home.

Slowly, he pulled himself up off the ground. Dazed and not knowing what else to door, the Kyrii walked across the dirt road to his neighbour Mr. Wilson's home. As Brel lifted his paw to the door, the kind Krawk opened it before he even had a chance to knock. However, there was something different about him.

"Um, Mr. Wilson?"

Mr. Wilson merely stared over his head into space. After Brel gave the old Krawk a little shake, his golden eyes finally flicked downward to meet the Kyrii's.

His golden eyes? Brel thought. I always thought Mr. Wilson had lavender eyes...

As a wicked grin spread across the Krawk's face, Brel's fur all stood on end as he backed away slowly. Mr. Wilson didn't follow after him, he merely erupted into a fit of menacing laughter as the Kyrii turned to run in the other direction.

"What's going on?" Brel asked aloud, the consternation clear in his shaking voice.

Everything was spinning, and the poor Kyrii felt as though he may hyperventilate, or pass out, or both. Just then, Brel spotted his best friend, Shawna, walking down the road. Relief flooded over him as he dashed toward her.

"Shawna!"

The blue Bruce stopped and looked up. When Brel finally reached her, wariness took over yet again. He didn't want another experience like the one with Mr. Wilson.

"Shawna?" he asked cautiously.

Her big, blue eyes looked up at him. Her blue eyes! Just like she had always had! Brel flung his arms around her into a warm embrace.

"You have no idea how happy I am to see you! You won't believe what's been going on!" he cried as he pulled away from the hug. The Bruce simply stared. An eerie feeling crept over Brel once again as he looked into the blank eyes of his best friend.

"Is something wrong, Shawna?"

She said nothing as a slithery, Hissi-like tongue glided out of her beak. The Kyrii shrieked in terror as he stumbled back. Just as Mr. Wilson had, Shawna burst into cruel, threatening laughter as poor Brel scampered away in fear.

His heart pounding, his eyes leaking with the tears he finally let himself cry, the Kyrii kept running, and this time he knew exactly where he needed to go. He needed to go back to where this had all started: the Rubbish Dump.

However, when he finally arrived to where the dump should have been, terror seized his heart. The Rubbish Dump was nowhere to be seen, and in its place stood...

Author: favonianbreeze
Date: Apr 16th
...his once-Neohome.

He'd have known the messy tiles, the crooked fence, and the once-green plaster anywhere. It hadn't been much, but it'd been his.

There Scrap stood, wing placed gently but possessively on the dull doorknob. It did not turn to rubbish. Brel's house did not crumble for her, as it had done to him.

The Hissi spotted him and glided over with victorious care. As she neared, Brel immediately noticed the subtle changes -- her scales seemed to shine with newfound vitality, her eyes were clear, and she stood even taller than before.

"I wondered when you'd come," were her first words, rolling into a purr. "I have not you to thank, but your greed. You led me out of my cage, and in doing so, we have switched places. Your house, your friends, everything you had known. I am free, as I told you I would be... oh, how the light and wind-song give me joy!"

Brel had meant to demand an answer, but uncertainty made him stumble, and his voice trembled. "I -- I don't..."

She ignored him. "Do you know what it was like to feel nothing but rubbish around me, unable to break free, to taste the air just once more? Even the most beautiful of plants and all the gold in the world mattered little to the prisoner I was. Ah, but why do I ask -- soon you will know for yourself..."

The Kyrii jerked his paws away from himself, impulse taking over his clouded judgment. He felt a deep repulsion for himself that, until now, had only been reserved for the mounds and effluvium at the dump...

Of course. He was the dump now, as Scrap had once been, and as Scrap had once introduced herself.

Everything he touched would age. That was the curse of his ignorant, foolish greed. Everything would age, and in time, renew the life within them in a cycle of decay. He'd never feel the vigour of life again -- he'd live alone, surrounded by farmers' garbage and his own -- forever --

"So you see at last." The Hissi's eyes narrowed cruelly, a flame of amusement flickering in her eyes. "Farewell, Brel -- but even that name is yours no more. I will make much use of my new place in this world."

And then she turned arrogantly from him, and smoldering indignation sharply seized his senses...

Brel reached forward and grasped the Hissi's wing, as if he were holding to his very existence in doing so...

***

Scrap felt the poison.

Oh, how it pressed at her, a feeling so familiar like a lifelong nemesis -- the reek and very essence of the Rubbish Dump she had recently been one with...

She felt his touch on her wing, and as she resisted -- powerfully but eventually to be in vain -- the memories returned to haunt her.

How she'd once scoured the garbage mounds in a test of her luck, how greed had prodded her to believe that she only had to try harder; how she'd fallen in, ensnared by her own hunger to claim what wasn't hers...

The pull of the refuse dragging her back a hairsbreadth from the open gate.

No, things had never been fair.

The Hissi, at Brel's clasp, shrank from him the same as everything else he'd touched -- the wilting gold, the empty friend.

***

The Kyrii's first sensation was shock. He'd forgotten what his hands could do, and had only meant to pull her back...

He ran up to his Neohome, quite uncertainly -- and as he did so, his fingers brushed the tips of the long stalks in his garden, and they stayed green as before.

Brel pushed open the fence with the briefest of hesitation, and it opened.

It did not wilt.

***

Scrap allowed herself to be heaved back to the fate she'd so nearly escaped, if furiously and unwillingly after so nearly escaping -- back to what had been Brel's Neohome, now Meridell's Rubbish Dump...

She circled once and settled, waiting for the next pawn she knew would come eventually.

In the place where Brel's blighted touch had brought everything to a close, a patch of newly grown greens bloomed tentatively into the sunlight, a reminder that all things in due course find their next beginning.

The End

Author: _razcalz_
Date: Apr 16th



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