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||You are on Week 599
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 Five Hundred Ninety Nine Ends Friday, March 29
|"There!" Henry declared, stepping back from his cupboards. "Fully stocked at last!"
"I don't understand what you're doing, Henry," his friend Greta said from her seat at the kitchen table. "There's no need to stock up on supplies like this."
"No need?" Henry laughed, his Bruce belly wobbling. "Haven't you been paying attention? Every one hundred weeks, without fail, something horribly epic and exciting happens, and you know how I hate epic and exciting adventures. Well, this week is the 99th since the last time, and I'll be a Mynci's uncle if it's going to happen again."
"You are a Mynci's uncle," Greta pointed out. "George lives three streets away."
"That's not the point," Henry told the Acara. "Next week, something important is going to happen, and I am going to avoid it completely. I'm not stepping outside of my front door -- I have all the food I need, and I have the week off work. I'm just going to stay inside and read. It will be wonderful."
"Wonderful," Greta echoed unconvincingly.
"Still, there's one good thing to come of all this," Henry considered. "Although the 100th week is always uncontrollably exciting, the 99th week is almost always quite tame in comparison. This week, absolutely nothing of importance is going to happen, I'm sure."
At that moment, there was a sharp knock at the door...
Date: Mar 25th
..."Don't open it!" Henry shouted as he scurried under the kitchen table.
Greta rolled her eyes. "It's probably just the mail, Henry. Let me get it."
"Nooo!" Henry wailed. He had covered his head with a protective saucepan and was holding the lid in front of him like a shield. "Don't you know anything about narrative structure? The first step of the Hero's Journey is the Call to Adventure, and what's more call-to-adventure-y than a knock at the door?" He scooted further back under the table. "Just ignore it, Greta."
The Acara huffed and knelt on the kitchen floor to peer at Henry. "For Fyora's sake, you're more of a scardey-Kadoatie than your Petpet. And she is a Kadoatie!"
"Oh, that reminds me! I need you to take care of Mrs. Snuffles for a while. It's very common for a protagonist to have an animal sidekick. Just bring her back the week after next, when the danger's gone."
"Aha, that's right!" Greta exclaimed with an air of superiority. "The dangerous week is next one; you said earlier that this week was going to be safe!"
The Bruce looked up at her with panicked eyes. "Narrative conventions are just that: conventions! The unexpected inversion or lampshading of archetypes can sometimes be the most effective and exciting method to tell a story. Now hand me some cushions from the couch! I'm barricading myself under this table."
Greta suddenly stood and began walking toward the door. "What are you doing?!?" Henry shouted. "Are you crazy? Do you want to get wrapped up in some story of epic scope, spanning continents, uniting unlikely allies in a fight against evil, and inevitably ending in the hero making some kind of sacrifice for the good of Neopia? Because I sure don't! I'll take the unexamined life, thank you very much! Now get back here!"
Greta ignored him and grabbed the doorknob. She turned it. Henry winced. The door opened to reveal... a pile of mail sitting on the front stoop. Greta chuckled. "You see, Henry?" she said as she picked up the bundle of letters, flyers, and bills. "Nothing to worry about. Now, get out from under the table and -- hey!"
With speed that was remarkable for a Bruce of his size, Henry darted out of his hiding place, grabbed the mail from Greta's hand, ran to a window, opened it, and threw it all outside. "Do you have any idea how dangerous that mail could have been?!" he shouted. "What if there had been a yellowed parchment telling me that I'd inherited a kingdom? A fancy invitation to a masked ball signed mysteriously with only an X? A package containing a faded book written in a strange language and a map? A sweepstakes that awarded me two tickets to Mystery Island -- where, coincidentally, Neopets have started disappearing and never returning?"
"Is that actually happening on Mystery Island?" Greta asked.
"I have no idea, and I certainly don't intend to find out! You came dangerously close to initiating some rising action, Greta. I think that maybe it would be best if you left and took Mrs. Snuffles with you. I can't afford any more close calls. See you in two weeks, Greta."
"Fine, fine." Greta shook her head and walked toward the door. "I'll see you in a f--"
"Don't call it a fortnight!" Henry shrieked. "No one calls two weeks a fortnight unless they're in a high fantasy story, or worse, a parody of a high fantasy story!"
Greta rolled her eyes yet again. "I was going to say, 'see you in a few days.' Maybe then you'll be back to normal. Well, as normal as you ever get..."
Before Greta reached the door, however, the two Neopets heard something else. Something even stranger and more ominous than a knock...
Date: Mar 25th
...a shrill scream.
Greta started. "What in Neopia was that?"
Henry's eyes were wide with horror. "Plot advancement," he breathed.
"Can you start making sense? You know what? No, I give up. Somebody could be in danger out there."
The Acara only took three steps before a flipper yanked her wrist back. "No!" he hissed. "That's exactly the problem! We'll go outside and find that somebody has left a Boochified Hubrid Nox on my doorstep for me to take care of, or that Fyora has been ousted by an evil light faerie leading a coup in Faerieland... or Squash Dancers! Neopia Central could be overrun with Squash Dancers!"
"Henry, I know you like your books, but this is over the top, even for you."
"Don't you get it? If mail has a chance of being the shoehorn into an adventure, a mysterious cry for help is almost guaranteed! Just think about it! Out there, somebody may have been kidnapped! Kass could have been resurrected! Lady Frostbite could be breaking into the National Neopian Bank! Dr. Sloth could be right outside that door, terrorizing Neopia Central, and I'm the only one who can stop him!"
"And what are you going to do if Dr. Sloth is outside, terrorizing Neopia Central, and you're the only one who can stop him?"
Henry looked at her as if she were crazy. "Stay inside, obviously. Embracing my destiny would lead to a quest for an ancient magical artifact, all of Neopia save for myself becoming incapacitated in some way, a crisis of self-confidence, and at least three lucid dream state scenes. At the very least, there'd be some Fetch quests!"
"What to do, what to do..." Henry started pacing. "I can either remain in here, having a full party setup of a main character, his best friend, and a plucky animal companion, or I can send you away and risk seeing what ghastly machinations are underfoot outside!" The Bruce's voice rose to a wail. "I don't need to be a protagonist to validate my existence!"
"Mew?" asked Mrs. Snuffles.
"No! Bad Snuffles!" The Bruce whirled to glare at his Petpet. "Chiming in on cue is a clear sign of authorial intervention or uncanny intelligence! Stop that right now, missy, and don't even think about suddenly revealing your hidden ability to speak Neopian unless you want to go without supper!"
"Mrrrrrowwww," the Kadoatie whined, flattening her ears in dismay.
So caught up in his own frantic attempts to prevent the plot from advancing any further, Henry did not notice his friend's grave betrayal as she inched toward the door.
He looked up in time to see Greta's paw on the doorknob. "No!" he shrieked.
"Henry, I don't know what's gotten into you, but life isn't a story!" Greta argued back, and before he could stop her, she yanked the door open...
Date: Mar 26th
..., revealing a group of Shoyrus that were flapping around in front of Henry's yard.
"It's just kids," Greta said over her shoulder. "I bet one of them just got too excited, kinda like you," she added. By now, the Bruce had hidden himself behind a small chair, the sturdiest thing within arm's reach in his moment of panic.
"Close the door, close the door!" Henry begged. "At any moment, the wind will pick up to terrifying speeds and whisk them off to Terror Mountain, and we'll be expected to journey forth and get them back!"
Greta considered Henry's words for a moment and then shook her head. "No way," she said. "You have to get over this fear; it's completely irrational."
Henry bounced up from behind the chair. "It is not!" he declared, then sat on it with a thump. “You may spend your days slugging it out in the Battledome and going on demanding quests, but me? I'm just a simple Bruce. I'd rather spin the Wheel of Monotony and take boat tours on Kiko Lake than do all that adventuring stuff you're so eager to jump into."
The Acara scoffed. "I'm not eager to jump into anything. I just know the difference between fantastic plotlines and reality." Henry watched as she walked over to his bookshelf and pulled off one of his many favorites. "Really, Nimmo of Doom?" She grabbed another. "Gelert On Treasure Island? Kiko's Darkside?" Greta shook her head and placed the short stack on the floor. "No wonder your ideas about reality are all messed up. All you read is stories that don't actually happen to actual Neopians. None of that stuff is real."
"Oh yeah?" the Bruce challenged. "What about Eliv Thade, or Count Von Roo? Just because they are written about in books intended to frighten readers, does that mean that they're not real, either?"
"Of course not," Greta said, "but normal Neopets like us won't ever meet up with them. That is the part that only happens in stories."
"So, who is it that faces the perils and fights for the good of Neopia, if not regular old Neopets?"
"Heroes, I guess."
"And where do heroes come from?"
She shrugged, then guessed, "Altador?"
"Wrong!" Henry declared, as if he'd just snagged a rare stamp. "Heroes start as 'normal Neopets like us,' and by braving a series of trials, they then emerge from their perilous quest as strong, competent heroes. Trials that I want nothing to do with!" Then, with an indignant humph, he turned his back and would not look at her.
Greta sighed and went to put the books back on the shelf. Henry took a quick glance over his shoulder, just to make sure she was doing it right, when he saw a movement out of the corner of his eye and remembered the Greta had never closed the door...
Date: Mar 26th
..."Uncle..." a voice growled.
"And the plot thickens..." Greta giggled as Henry's eyes grew wide.
"EEP! IT'S A GIANT MUTANT CYBUNNY!" Henry scampered from underneath the table and grabbed a chair for self-defense.
"I really scared you, didn't I? It's just me, George, Uncle Henry!" He removed his mutant Cybunny mask. "This is my costume for the Negg Festival! I didn't want to go as some cute fluffy bunny, so I had my mom make something terrifying! What do you think?"
"I like it!" Greta laughed as Henry continued to wave the chair over his head. "See? There's nothing to be afraid of Henry! Now, put that chair down and--"
"It's a RED HERRING! The real action is sure to ensue!"
"A red hair... ring?" George asked quizzically. "Uncle, you're not making any sense... I really just want to know what you think of my costume?"
"Yes, yes... it's very nice." Henry's attention turned to stacking sofa cushions around the table. "I'm quite busy at the moment... could you come back later? Say, in about two weeks. That would be quite excellent."
"Henry!" Greta shouted, glaring angrily. "Your nephew only wants you attention for a few moments!"
"But the super villain always captures a relative of the protagonist -- leading to a long, dangerous, and life-threatening adventure! For the sake of both George and myself, he should leave... NOW!"
Greta stared apologetically at the Mynci. "You should probably come back later."
George nodded and left.
"Don't forget to shut the door!" Henry called out.
The door slammed shut, but only a moment had passed before Henry heard, "UNCLE! HELP!"...
Date: Mar 27th
...Without a second thought, Henry flew out of his cushion fort and opened the door. Greta watched, mouth agape, as he did this. When he opened the door, he saw the Mynci on the ground, laughing.
"Wow, Uncle. You're so gullible! I can't believe you actually fell for that!"
Henry looked down at his nephew and crossed his flippers. "Well, I needed to be sure that my only nephew is okay. Why would you do that?"
"I just wanted to see if you'd come!" George was laughing so hard that he had to wipe a tear from his eye.
Greta walked over to the Bruce and put her arm around his shoulder. "Would you look at that? You've been going on and on about how you don't want an adventure, and you just flew to George's aid like that. Talk about a call to adventure."
Henry looked at Greta grudgingly and pushed her arm away. "No, no, no... I refuse to let either of you do this to me. In two weeks, both of you will see me again. For now, I need peace and quiet. No belly of the whale or apotheosis for me. I just want to be able to hide from the world and not have to worry. Now, good day!"
The Bruce turned around and shut the door with a loud slam.
The Acara looked at Henry's nephew. "He sure is paranoid, isn't he?"
The Mynci nodded.
Inside, the Bruce grabbed the cushions and started to put the fort back up. "No, sir. No grand adventure for me. How could I have opened the door? That could have been the Beast from Tyrannia swooping down, ready to carry me away to its lair as soon as I opened the door, or the Tooth Faerie coming to tell me that I'm the chosen one, and that I need to help her collect all of the teeth in Neopia, or an alien Aisha spaceship crash landing and coming to take me away to Kreludor." He took a deep breath from his rambling. "It's alright, Henry. As long as I keep the door locked, I'll be safe. No adventures. Just me, Mrs. Snuffles -- who has to stay with me now -- and my Hot Cup of Borovan."
The Kadoatie mewed and brushed up against Henry. He looked down and pet her, smiling. "I just need to relax."
Then there was the loud sound of glass shattering...
Date: Mar 27th
...followed by the sound of a lamp hitting the floor and then a startled scream... which belonged to Henry. Suddenly, Greta and George busted through Henry's front door. "Are you okay?" Greta asked quickly. "Wait, where did he go?" she said as she scanned the room for the Bruce.
"Is that him?" George asked, pointing to a pile of shaking cushions. Greta walked over to the pile and pulled away the cushions to reveal a very pale and shaky Bruce, who was hanging on to his Kadoatie for dear life.
"Oh for love of Fyora, Henry!" the Acara scorned as George tried to help his uncle up. Henry quickly came back to his senses and grabbed the nearest cushion and began to rebuild his fort. "NO! I don't know what in Neopia just happened, but I'm not about to find out!" Henry angrily shouted as he placed the last cushion safely over his head.
"Well, if you won't, then I will!" Greta said as she stormed over to the fallen lamp. "I'm getting sick and tired of all this nonsense!" She looked around the lamp and quickly found the source of the earlier commotion. "It's just one of the kids' toy Yooyuballs," she said as she was about to pick it up, when Henry suddenly jumped up out of his fort.
"WAIT! Don't touch that!" Henry practically screamed at the top of his lungs.
"Oh, now what?" Greta said, very annoyed.
"Is it glowing? Are you sure it's a toy?!?" the Bruce asked worriedly. "It could be some sort of ancient artifact containing unknown dark powers from Kreludor!" Henry was now shaking again.
"Uncle, really, it's just a toy. Greta and I saw the kids playing with it outside. In fact, I'm surprised they haven't come asking for it," George said as reassuringly as possible without sounding agitated.
"They're probably just afraid they'll get in trouble. Here, I'll go return it to them," Greta replied as she picked up the ball and headed toward the front door. As she opened the door and was about to step outside, she paused and said, "You may want to look for something with which to repair that hole; it looks like we might be in for some rain."
"Oh no," Henry said as the color drained from his face again. "Storms are always catalysts for evil entities! Quick, we have to hide!" Henry shouted as he quickly burrowed back into his fort of cushions.
George rolled his eyes and was just about to pull his uncle back out when suddenly...
Date: Mar 28th
...Greta appeared at the door, followed by one of the young Shoyrus.
Scowling at the creature, Henry jumped into his pillow fort.
The Acara sighed and turned toward the confused young lad. "Look," she started, "he's really a very nice Neopian. Just... anxious... around new people."
"That's a lie and you know it," Henry announced from inside his reality zone. "I just don't want to interact with the outside world for two weeks, a period of time in which some form of exciting and dangerous plotline will most definitely come into fruition."
The kid looked at the Acara with large and resentful eyes. "Look, I just came to say sorry. I wasn't anticipating all of this."
"Neither was I, kid," Greta said, crossing her arms. "Well... at least, I wouldn't have yesterday," she huffed.
Henry peeked his head out from under the cushions just slightly, to get a good look at this sudden turn in plot development.
"This is the kid who threw the ball--"
"You mean, more specifically, shattered my window, thereby creating the initiating incident for this particular story," Henry interrupted, "a tale that will invariably produce some form of rising action. Perhaps this little Shoyru you've let inside is some sort of supervillain? Perhaps he has decided to run away from home and seeks shelter? Perhaps, while in my living room, he'll flip some unknown lever that opens a secret passageway to a city of forgotten gold? Perhaps he's even my long lost son -- eventually reaching a climax in which I'll inevitably battle this Shoyru, or someone much more dastardly with this fellow as my sidekick, culminating in an advanced and sophisticated conclusion that ultimately leaves everyone involved, including some form of reader -- if, Fyora forbid, there is one -- feeling satisfied."
The Shoyru blinked. There were a few seconds of silence before the kid broke it, starting slowly. "Was I just, in a very roundabout way, insulted?"
Greta shrugged. "I have really no idea. Now..." she continued, regaining her grasp on reality and gently nudging the thrower, "er, what do you have to say to Henry?
"I'm sorry, Henry," the Shoyru said, feigning a genuine attitude. "I can pay for a new window if you'd like." He smiled out of self-satisfaction. "I even know how to install them! My uncle, a construction worker, has been giving me lessons."
"Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't you?" the Bruce asked with a tinge of fury.
Greta stared at her friend menacingly and tapped her foot indignantly.
Henry sighed. "Fine... go ahead, fix my window if you want." He pouted inside his fort. "I suppose this is still, technically, the 99th story."
"That's the spirit!" George interjected.
The Shoyru walked back outside; Greta and George soon followed, leaving Henry to mope and wallow in his fort of delusion.
The other Shoyrus crowded around him.
"Andrew," one girl asked. "Were you successful?"
"Yep," Andrew confirmed. "I'm in..."
Date: Mar 28th
...The other Shoyrus gave a synchronized giggle, followed immediately by loose chatter.
"Let's release a pack of hungry Raindorfs into his house!"
There was another round of giggles.
"Oh, this is brilliant," Andrew mused quietly, mostly to himself. "Getting a story into The Neopian Times will be a breeze if we write a story about My Neighbor Henry..."
Henry sat, legs pulled up to his chest, in the fort. Mrs. Snuffles had grown bored or hungry (or both), and had left a while ago, leaving Henry to wallow in his fort alone.
"Hey, uncle!" George's voice called out, sounding distant and muffled. "I thought you'd want some dinner!"
"Thanks," Henry said tiredly.
A small can of spinach was rolled through a gap between the pillows.
"Uh, George?" Henry asked as he grappled with the can, which refused to open even when he bit at it with his teeth. "What are the chances of you getting me a can opener?"
"Ready?" Andrew whispered, as the group of Shoyrus waited by the sidewalk.
"Yes!" the others chorused, in equal volume.
"Well, then," Andrew said. "Get ready for the last-minute plot twist..."
Date: Mar 29th
A series of clanks and clunks emerged from the direction of the kitchen. Henry shuddered at each of them.
"Uncle," George finally said in exasperation, "how did you manage to buy this many cans of food and no can opener?"
"Oh no," Henry moaned, burrowing deeper into his cushions.
"I don't know why you bothered buying food at all if you're afraid to go in the kitchen to get it," Greta said, lounging as well as she could in a cushionless armchair. "Do you really not own a can opener?"
"No," Henry said dismally, "and that's going to be the key to the whole thing. We're going to have to go on a quest."
And with that dire word, pandemonium broke out. The door burst open. A troop of Shoyrus streamed in, singing the Hikalaka's latest release, dancing the hula -- well, attempting to dance the hula -- and flinging beach balls back and forth at each other.
Greta sat up and goggled at them. George came in from the kitchen, so astonished that his tail uncurled.
So then, after about thirty seconds of this, Henry burst up from his fort, scattering cushions, and bellowed, "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!"
The singing Shoyrus halted and regarded him politely.
"Out," Henry said. "Out, out, out, out, out." He snatched the beach ball from Andrew's hands and flung it to the floor, which did not have quite the intended effect, as it promptly bounced up again and caromed off the ceiling.
George caught it before it could do any more damage. Andrew, grinning in delighted anticipation, whipped out a notebook and started scribbling.
"Enough, do you hear me? Enough!" Henry shouted at the ceiling. "This has been a ridiculous week already and it's barely started! I can't live this way! My nerves can't take it! I hate slapstick! I hate the theatre of the absurd! I would rather be the protagonist of an epic plot!"
Everyone fell silent. Even the scratching of Andrew's pencil stilled. It felt as if the universe was waiting. Listening. As if it had accepted the challenge.
The Bruce swallowed and then said, in a voice with new and despairing resonances, "Out."
The Shoyrus fled. They filed out in an orderly fashion, albeit with some giggling, and shut the door behind them (Andrew, in his heart of hearts, could see his gleaming Neopian Times trophy already and, even better, his byline...).
Henry sank back down into his cushions. "I'm doomed," he said. The universe had heard him. He was going to be caught up in a plot. If not this week, then the next. It would probably involve a can opener.
"Erhrk," George said.
"Oh, now you agree with m--" Henry's voice choked off in horror as he looked up.
There was a green-clad arm around George's neck. Most of the one it belonged to was hidden behind George or the doorframe, but the grip was tight enough that the young Mynci was on tiptoes. He dropped the beach ball to claw at the arm.
Oh, no no no no no. Henry sprang to his feet again, slipped on the pillows and landed on his tail, and then surged up again. His foolish pride! He'd let the universe and its absurd Shoyrus bully him into accepting the awful possibility of drama, and now his nephew was paying the price!
"P-put him down," he said shakily. That was the right thing to say, wasn't it? Maybe if he kept the villain's attention, Greta could sneak around and hit them over the head with the canned spinach. He sneaked a glance at the Acara, who unfortunately did not seem prepared for drama and was frozen in her uncomfortable seat.
"Shut it, Brucie," a hoarse voice said. The villain eased around the door, coming more into view. It was Usul-shaped, but covered in a pea-green bodysuit from ears to tail-tip.
"Uzarro?" he asked weakly. The infamous thief!
"One and the same," she replied in the same hoarse voice. "Relax, Brucie--"
"My name is Henry," he protested.
"Whatever. I don't want your Neopoints... this time."
"I don't care about the Neopoints!" He'd spent them all on canned food, anyway. "Let go of my nephew!"
"If you do what I say."
It was a terrible thing to promise, but Henry knew he wasn't really a hero. "Anything."
"Good!" Uzarro let go of George, who stumbled forward, wheezing, and then lunged for the cushions and dragged Henry down to his flippers and knees among them, eye to eye... well, eye to mask... with her.
"But what do you want?" Henry gasped.
"I need a place to hide out for a couple of weeks."
"F-from the Defenders of Neopia?" he asked, quavering.
"No." Uzarro leaned closer, masked nose to the end of his beak. "From what's coming. From the story."
Terror. Alarm. Drama.
And yet, also, a thrill of vindication.
Henry stood up, pulling away from the Usul thief, and pointed at Greta. "See," he said, "I'm not the only one!"
Date: Mar 29th
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