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||You are on Week 646
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 Six Hundred Forty Six Ends Friday, March 7
|AJ quietly sipped at his cup of coffee as he flipped through the pages of The Neopian Times. The finely roasted beans of his house blend billowing up his nose was always the best part of the Gelert's morning. Along with his coffee, he also had a small stack of pancakes and a few slices of fruit. It was a routine that he had developed for years, and he enjoyed it.
Today, though, something seemed off about his morning routine. He wasn't sure what it was, though. His coffee was fine, his breakfast was fine, and there wasn't anything drastic or world-shattering in The Neopian Times. Everything was fine. It just wasn't... well, interesting.
AJ slowly brought his coffee down back onto his dining room table. It had just struck him. It wasn't interesting at all. None of this was -- his food, his coffee, the news, his routine... his whole life. Nothing about it was interesting.
When it's all said and done, what have I done with myself? the Gelert thought to himself. How am I any different from any other Neopet? I need to do something to make my mark on the world, but what?
That was the hard part. What could he do? He had spent his entire working life as a stock market analyst. All he knew was how to read trends and signs and how they might impact other Neopian businesses, and AJ knew that wasn't interesting. The last time he had gone to a party and someone asked him about interesting moments in his job, he only spoke for a minute before he quickly found himself standing alone.
AJ sighed again and took another sip of his coffee. Maybe he just wasn't the type to lead an interesting life. He should just cancel that entire idea.
The Gelert's eyes gleamed suddenly at that word.
Cancelled... he thought. Cancelled due to lack of interest... but why? What could that be?
He flipped to the front page of The Neopian Times and saw the date. It was March 3rd, a holiday famous for not being a holiday.
That's it! he realized. I know what I can do! I'll find out what March 3rd was supposed to be before it was cancelled due to lack of interest! The story behind that must be interesting!...
Date: Mar 3rd
...He decided to skip work for the day and head to the library, which housed a Neopian Times archives section. There, he’d be able to scan older copies from previous March 3rd issues and hopefully find a clue. Feeling like he had a solid plan, he stood up.
AJ's decision made him feel more interesting already. His coworkers would surely wonder about his absence and would perhaps be sitting in their cubicles interested in his disappearance.
AJ went to wash out his coffee cup in the sink but found the action too incredibly boring, so he left it dirty on the table instead. That seemed like an interesting thing to do. After a bit more hesitation, he forced himself out the door and toward the large library building in Neopia Central.
The library had always been one of his favorite spots to relax. On weekends, he'd indulge himself by spending many lengthy hours stretched out on one of their comfy armchairs, losing himself in a good mystery plot.
The action seemed rather dull, now that he thought about it, but he smiled nonetheless when the smell of dusty volumes hit his nostrils.
He found his way over to the small alcove where there stood an information desk with a sign proclaiming this area to be the newspaper archives.
A blue Uni sat behind the desk, looking at himself in a small handheld mirror. He seemed awfully bored, but then again, AJ thought, no one really frequented the archives that often. When they did they were usually doing a research project, which sounded extremely mundane.
"Excuse me?" AJ asked. "Would it be possible for me to look through some old newspapers?"
The Uni perked up at the idea of something to do. "Sure! What dates do you need?"
"Just one date, actually. I'd like to look at the newspapers for March 3rd from the past decade or so."
AJ watched the Uni's smile slowly fade and was rather surprised when he said...
Date: Mar 3rd
..."I'm not sure that's possible, sir." The Uni's tone grew more hushed with each syllable and he tugged at his mane. "We do have all the March papers for the last six years, but..." he trailed off, darting a look behind him.
"But..." AJ pressed. There was no one else around.
The blue Neopet's eyes fixed on the floor. "The older March 3rd newspapers are... in the Special Collection." The emphasis he placed on the section name capitalised the words in AJ's mind. "As you might have guessed, you'll need special permission to access it and," he gulped, "that only comes from the head librarian herself, Ethel." Looking up, he said, "I can show you the six most recent here if you want, sir. It'd be no trouble."
AJ mulled over the idea of the Special Collection. His curiosity was ignited all the more for the Uni's obvious avoidance of the topic. There was nothing, the brown Gelert thought, more interesting than archives one needed express permission to browse. "Can you direct me to the head librarian?" AJ asked, locking gazes with the other 'pet. His question was firm with resolve.
The Uni's face fell. "Fine. Uh, follow me," he mumbled, sagging. He led AJ to a quiet nook that the Gelert had never noticed, or, at least, paid much attention to. It was easy to overlook. The adjoining hallway was narrow and dimly lit. Strange, dust-lined portraits stared down at AJ from the dark walls and AJ shivered as he walked. He was almost positive that the bespectacled faces were watching him -- though, endorsing him or judging him, he knew not. He lifted his chin a little higher and stared straight ahead. His thirst for knowledge was, he decided, surely befitting of scholarly approval.
At the end of the corridor was a large, oaken door. The closer they moved, the more AJ's Uni guide twitched. AJ couldn't say that he felt any less nervous. The mystery, though, spurred him on. Why was it that the newspapers more than six years old were housed in the Special Collection? What happened seven or more years ago?
The Uni smoothed away the wrinkles on his shirt as he traded a look with AJ. "Stay here," he told AJ. "Ethel doesn't always take kindly to visitors." He raised a hoof to tap on the door. "Ma'am? It's Kellen." One second passed. Two. The silence stretched out. AJ wasn't sure if anyone was really there. Cobwebbed and dusty as the corridor was, the space seemed neglected. Save for a pair of Spyders and themselves, there was no indication of recent use.
A low, quavery voice then called out. "Come in!"
Kellen did so promptly. AJ had no more than a second's glance inside. It was enough to tell him only that the room beyond was as weakly lit as the hallway. The brown Neopet could hear some conversation but it was muffled. Indistinct. The two words he could distinguish with any certainty was the date "March 3rd" and the only other sound a groan. Impatience caused AJ to fidget.
Finally, the door slid open...
Date: Mar 4th
...Kellen stood in the doorframe with a strange look upon his face. "Ethel has agreed to see you," he said, "but for only a few minutes. Keep it brief, and don't get your hopes up. You probably won't be given permission."
AJ nodded solemnly, but inside his heart was pounding with excitement. At the beginning of the seemingly ordinary day, he had never dreamed that things would have taken such an interesting turn.
The Uni stood there for another moment before stepping aside and allowing AJ to enter the dimly lit room. The door was shut behind him, and AJ stood there for a few minutes to allow his eyes to adjust.
"Well, are you going to just stand there, or are you going to step forward?" a dusty voice suddenly demanded.
"Sorry, ma'am," the Gelert quickly apologized as he stepped deeper into the room. Books were stacked about like teetering mountains that surrounded an ancient desk. Behind that desk sat a tiny elderly Aisha who peered at him from behind huge glasses. She held her mouth tightly as she watched him, as if she didn't dare relax those muscles for fear that she might crack a smile.
"Well?" she prompted.
AJ smiled as best he could. "I came here," he began, "because I wanted to get access to the Special Collection."
"No," came the swift and immediate answer.
The Gelert was stunned. "You don't understand," he said, "I just want to check out a particular date."
"I know exactly what you want to check out," Ethel stated, "and the answer is still no. Now, give up this silly quest of yours and go home."
"But," AJ began.
"No!" she shouted, her voice echoing off the narrow walls and surrounding books. She leaned forward slightly and, for the first time, AJ saw an odd light shimmering in her eyes and he came to a realization.
She was afraid.
"Give up your search," she said, dropping her voice to a whisper. "You must give it up."
"I don't understand why, though," AJ insisted.
Ethel sighed softly before answering...
Date: Mar 4th
..."My youngest son was exactly like you. Always inquisitive, poking his nose where it didn't necessarily belong. He, too, was curious about the reason behind the cancellation of March 3rd."
"So what happened? Did he ever find out?" AJ replied.
"His search also brought him to the Special Collection, and in a moment of weakness, I allowed him access. Something he read that day must have given him a lead to investigate. He left our home the next day, promising to let me know what he found, but that was the last time I saw him, " Ethel replied with a long face.
"He just disappeared? Did you ever find out what it was that he read?" AJ asked.
"I have never read anything in the Special Collection. My task is simply to guard its contents, " Ethel replied. "I figured that he must have run into the Neopets responsible for the cancellation of March 3rd, which is why I cannot let you access the Collection. It is simply too dangerous!"
"But--" AJ's protests were cut off by Kellen's reappearance.
"Ma'am, something has happened! Come quick!" the Uni exclaimed...
Date: Mar 5th
...The old Aisha extricated herself from her chair and hobbled over to the doorway. After a moment's hesitation, AJ got to his feet and helped her along.
Kellen ushered them down the hallway, back to the library main. "I've never seen anything like it," the Uni panted. "I don't -- I was just there five minutes ago and everything was fine. I don't know what happened."
"What is it?" AJ asked nervously. The Uni looked supremely frazzled -- a far cry from the bored archivist who had groomed himself in the mirror less than half an hour ago.
"You'll see for yourself," Kellen said, shooting Ethel a pleading look. "Can't you go any faster?"
"I'm moving as fast as these old legs will carry me," the Aisha snapped back.
At last, the trio reached the library main. AJ's eyes widened.
The shelves were completely and utterly empty. What had once been rows and rows of books was now nothing more than bare wood and a tangle of old Spyder webs.
The floor, however, was not so barren. In books, somebody had spelled out a message...
Date: Mar 5th
..."M-e-e-p," Kellen read aloud, his expression puzzled. The blue Uni glanced at AJ before returning his scrutiny to the books. "Meep," he repeated. "What does that mean?"
AJ's mouth had gone dry and he licked his lips to moisten them. "Uh," was his ingenious reply. Studying the arrangement, his eyes traced each giant line. The tomes definitely spelled out the letters m-e-e-p, but, while the message itself was clear, the meaning wasn't. The brown Gelert turned to Ethel. He should've been worried, yet, after the initial shock, all he felt was excitement. The day had truly taken an interesting turn.
Ethel hadn't uttered a word. Having clasped her paws over her mouth, only the Aisha's eyes were visible to AJ as she stared. Shimmering in their black depths was a light he recognised. The librarian was, once again, afraid. A sudden hunch prompted AJ to open his mouth. "Do you know what the message means?" he asked. Did it have anything to do with the holiday that wasn't?
The older Neopet dropped her paws slowly. With a grunt, she tore her gaze from the books to look from AJ to Kellen. "I..." she wavered. Her usual confidence was missing from her voice. "I think I might." She shook her head, regaining her composure. "Come with me," she decided. Ethel went to a section of the wall and AJ heard the sound of three knocks against the wooden panel. He might've wondered what she was doing if he hadn't also heard the sound of a creak. Floorboards lifted into the air to reveal a square opening in the middle of the room. Ethel was taking them to the Special Collection.
AJ's heart beat a staccato rhythm. He was really going to find out the truth about the cancelled holiday. The Gelert paused as he came to the foot of the trapdoor's makeshift ladder. He hadn't given thought to what he expected, but what met him certainly wasn't it. For all its grand title, the space they'd slipped into was small and cramped. Resting on the shelves before them were stacks of yellowed newspapers. AJ's nose confirmed what his eyes told him -- the papers were musty with age. Clearly they hadn't been touched in a while.
With a quick glance at Ethel, AJ pulled a paper from the nearest stack. "The third of March, year 8," AJ read. His eyes shifted to the headline. It reported a recent increase in questers for Illusen. The brown Neopet tapped his chin. Illusen had her own holiday on March 17th, a holiday that was still very much in place. It wasn't Illusen Day that had been cancelled on March 3rd. AJ leafed his way to the Editorial. His attention moved from entry to entry before fixing on one particular submission. "Look!" he told the others. AJ's eyes skimmed over the text too quickly for his tongue to follow. He could sense Kellen and Ethel leaning in.
"Nobody cares about Spyder Day," Kellen recited. "Very few Neopians actually have Spyders for Petpets." If AJ was right, then Spyder Day was the holiday that wasn't. Kellen raised an eyebrow at Ethel. "Spyder Day, ma'am?"
An odd smile twisted the Aisha's thin lips. "Yes, Spyder Day was what we celebrated, once, on March 3rd. It was a matter of, well, indifference for most and a matter of... contention for some. Folk believed that it was unfair that Spyders got their own holiday while other Petpets did not."
"Was that how Petpet Appreciation Day came about?" AJ speculated. Though glad to have found out the nature of the former holiday, he couldn't understand how it might have inspired fear in Ethel. "Was that the reason why it was cancelled?" Slight regret gripped his stomach and he recognised it as disappointment. Was that really it?
"Not the only reason," Ethel said, eyes pensive. There was something, AJ knew instinctively, that she wasn't telling them. Something that she, perhaps, wasn't sure about, but suspected.
Kellen lifted out another newspaper. "Meepits attack!" he read loudly. On the cover was a black-and-white image of several Meepits. They seemed to be brandishing sticks and a range of plastic utensils, teeth bared. "Meepit outrage over the lack of their own holiday peaked last night in a mass protest," he read on.
AJ shifted to look at the top right-hand corner. The date written there was March 3rd, Year 9. Seven years ago exactly. He looked to Ethel and, with him, looked Kellen. The Aisha hadn't so much as blinked. AJ had been right. Even if she'd never read anything in the Special Collection before, she'd known something of this. "What do you know?" His voice was soft. The message suddenly made sense. It had been a message from the Meepits, or someone who knew them...
Date: Mar 6th
...Ethel let out a slow breath. "I should have known this day had come," she said. Turning, she motioned with her paw. "Follow me and I'll tell you everything."
AJ and Kellen fell in behind the older Aisha as she led them out of Special Collections, through the Library Main, and finally to a tiny, nearly-hidden staircase that had been tucked away in a corner. "I never knew these were even here," AJ said.
"Neither did I," Kellen added as he sneezed from the swirling dust.
Ethel didn't acknowledge their comments as they continued to walk up the narrow staircase. Finally, they came to a door that she opened and stepped through.
The bright March sunshine greeted them as they stepped up onto the roof. Normally AJ would have taken a moment to admire the view, but now there were more interesting things on his mind. "Why did we come up here?" he asked.
Ethel stood a few feet away, staring out into the distance as a cool wind twisted about her frail form. Both AJ and Kellen stood looking at her, waiting for her to speak.
"I was up here on that day," she finally said in a distant voice. "This is where I saw the attack." Her shoulders dropped as she turned to look at them. "What I'm about to tell you, I've never shared with anyone before," she explained. "Not even my own sweet son. We all swore secrecy on that day so that we wouldn't anger him."
"Him?" AJ questioned.
"The Meepit Overlord," she replied and she trembled involuntarily.
The Gelert felt as if he couldn't breathe. He hadn't heard of the Meepit Overlord in a long time, and what he had heard had never been good. "What happened?" he managed to ask.
Ethel wrapped her thin arms about her body. "Like I said before, Spyder Day had been no big deal. You'd see a few sales in shops and specials for anyone with a Spyder, but that was really it. Still, some other Petpets were jealous, although no one had any idea exactly how jealous.
Strange messages began to be delivered all over Neopia -- indecipherable messages at the time. Each one said 'Meep' or 'Meep! Meep!' At first, everyone just assumed it was some sort of silly prank and no one took it seriously.
Then, one Spyder Day exactly seven years ago, we learned the meaning behind those messages. I used to work at the Check-Out desk back then. When it was time for my break, I came up here to the roof to read a book. I used to do that a lot. Anyway, I was sitting here reading when I heard the most horrible noise my ears have every heard. It was an evil noise... a symphony of Meeps! I looked up and saw this wave of angry Meepits rushing down the street like a wave. They attacked the stores and all the businesses and all Neopets in their path were tied and detained. It was a horrible sight." She paused to take a deep breath.
"Finally, the wave of Meepits parted and I saw the Meepit Overlord. He began squeaking some sort of instructions, and I was afraid that I was about to witness the end of Neopia. However, that was when I saw a hero step forward."
"What sort of hero?" AJ asked.
"Oh, he was a very brave little Petpet," Ethel answered fondly, "a single Feepit."...
Date: Mar 6th
...AJ's eyes widened. "Does that mean--"
"Yes," Ethel interrupted, a tinge of melancholy in her distant voice. "That game isn't just 'fun,' it's historically accurate. It's a scaled down version of the events of that fateful March 3rd..."
"So what exactly happened, then?" Kellen inquired, afraid.
"The Feepit, under the apprenticeship of the Petpet High Council -- the predecessor to the league -- mastered the art of advanced combat and weapons training, in the event such a threat to the lives of the Petpets, and to Neopians everywhere, would ever arise. Thanks to the espionage of a Slorg and Symol -- who then received their own special days following the ordeal -- it was discovered that the overlord was planning this massive attack in the midst of his own kin's protests; while we were distracted by the rioting Meepits, he would swoop in." Ethel paused. "Luckily, the Feepit was sent there in time."
"Why didn't the Feepit receive a special day?" AJ asked.
"As not to enrage the Meepits further."
"Just how do you know all of this?" the Gelert asked, eyeing her suspiciously.
She turned away and seemed to reflect on all that she had just said. "My son told me," she started, her back still facing them. "I lied before when I said I never saw him again. He reported this information to me, but by then was already on the lam, fleeing from the overlord. He told me never to tell another soul, never to get anyone involved -- he said he was endangering me by telling me, but he had to tell someone."
She paused. "The last thing he said was, 'And on March 3rd of Year 16, the Meepits will again plan their attack..."
Date: Mar 7th
..."It's happening," Kellen whispered. "It really is happening again."
"What?" AJ said, though his question was already being answered by the prickly feeling on his spine and by the ashen look on Ethel's face.
Kellen rotated his ears. "Listen," the Uni said in the same terrified whisper.
They all listened, and there it was... "meep," "meep" -- soft as a heartbeat and as cryptic as the "M-E-E-P" spelled out on the library floor. "Meep, meep, meep, meep." Growing stronger and stronger. Closer and closer.
Ethel began to wail.
AJ and Kellen looked where they dreaded to look: at the street down below. From their vantage point on the roof, the scene was exactly as Ethel had described, only more vivid. A wave of terrible cuteness rampaging down the street, chanting rhythmic "meeps" and flashing sharp teeth. Neopians were fleeing everywhere, screaming and tripping over the furry Meepits.
It was like the image in that old newspaper all over again.
"My son!" Ethel wailed. "Somebody save my son! My son, Eckliedoo!"
AJ saw a gigantic Meepit looming up on the horizon, complete with billowing pink fur and gleaming eyes. In its claws it held a small Aisha, who was holding a megaphone.
"MEEP," the Meepit Overlord ordered.
The Aisha in its claws seemed compelled by some magical force to translate. Everybody stopped screaming for a moment to turn and listen.
"The Meepits have lain in hiding for years," Eckliedoo spoke through the megaphone, monotonously. "They have been building up their power. This time they will not fail. This time they will stop at nothing to reclaim the holiday that is theirs. All hail the Meepit Overlord!"
AJ almost started to say "All hail" with the rest of the Neopets, but then something in his mind clicked... and he began to laugh!
All eyes turned in his direction.
"MEEP," said the Meepit Overlord.
"How dare you question the authority of the Meepit Overlord?" Eckliedoo translated monotonously.
"How dare you laugh at the plight of my son?!?" Ethel sobbed.
The Gelert was helpless, however. "I'm sorry," he said, wiping a tear. "It's just too cliche. It's like a bad horror movie. It's... it's not interesting."
"MEEP?!?" the Overlord cried.
"Boring?!?" Eckliedoo echoed.
All the Neopets in the street were staring with wide eyes.
"Yes," AJ said. "Look, I started this day feeling like nothing interesting was going on in my life. I felt like I just kept doing the same kind of stuff expected of me, day after day. You guys probably feel the same way, which is why you're wreaking all this havoc. Tell me, though, really: is the image of Meepits changing at all in Neopians' minds?"
"They're as ebil as ever?" Kellen ventured.
"Exactly," AJ said. "You don't need a Meepit Day. Everybody knows you're ebil. In fact, by celebrating Symol Day and Slorg Day, we're remembering the chaos you've caused."
The Meepit Overlord twitched its whiskers. All the Meepits in the street twitched their whiskers in unison. Then, they slowly began to nod. Then, without another sound, they scampered away -- into potholes, behind garbage bins, wherever it is that Meepits hang out.
Eckliedoo was left on the ground. He blinked, as if waking from a spell.
Ethel rushed to the staircase and, in a minute, was out in the street. "What did I tell you about poking your nose into things you're not supposed to poke your nose into?!?" AJ could hear her saying.
"But it was interesting," came the answer.
Interesting. AJ turned that word over in his mind. Somehow, it didn't hold the same power for him anymore.
He experienced a sudden desire for afternoon tea and cakes and remembered the coffee cup he'd left on his table. Suddenly, the prospect of going back to his uninteresting life seemed... appealing.
"Bye, Kellen," he said.
"Bye," the Uni replied, a glazed look coming back into his eyes also.
AJ whistled as he walked down the street. He felt almost smug, being able to predict exactly what tomorrow's headline would be.
Date: Mar 7th
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