It had been a long, hard day. Felicia, aka, Snowflake was
exhausted. Her job as editor in The Neopian Times was not as glamorous as some
may imagine. There were so many stories to sort through! And those that did get
chosen to grace the illustrious pages of The Neopian Times had to be checked and
rechecked. Spelling errors needed to be fixed, html formatting added in, and proper
credit given to the author. She was just about to shut down the computer and call
it quits when a new message popped up in her inbox. She recognized the sender
and opened it out of sheer curiosity.
“Hi Felicia! Got a new story for you, wrote
it at about midnight last night, starring my Eyrie, Un-eairkagh. I think this
is the first time I’ve sent you anything with my usual pets in it…”
She nodded to herself and moved the e-mail to
her “read” pile. It could wait until the morning. She glanced at the clock.
A little after six o’clock. She was dead tired. She shut down her computer and
found her jacket, locking up her office behind her. Her staff was also shutting
down and getting ready to leave. She gave them all a cheery goodbye, even the
Nimmo who still insisted on wearing that dang donkey suit. Then she headed out
the door and to her car.
The last e-mail bothered her all the way home.
It was true, she’d never really encountered a story about this author’s usual
pets before. And that Eyrie. What a name!
“En – ear – ka…” she said out loud, wondering
if that was how it was pronounced, “Un – ey keg.”
She frowned in frustration at her efforts as
she pulled into the driveway of her large NeoHome. It was dark inside but a
couple switches quickly lightened the place up. She made herself a mug of hot
tea and absently searched around the kitchen for a quick dinner. Laying on the
counter were a stack of comics by karma_leafbarer so she carefully moved them
out of the way. How did that name go?
As the water heated up she found the phonebook
and flipped over to the c’s. It was going to drive her crazy until she figured
it out. She found the number she was looking for and dialed. A female voice
“Yes, this is Felicia. Is this Kiddo?”
“No, this is Terraile. I’m one of her pets.”
“Is she around?”
There was a long pause before Terraile answered.
“Well, kinda. See, she’s locked herself in her
room. Something about a book she has to finish by tomorrow. It’s got a weird
title, just a year and nothing more.”
“Oh. Well, I was just wanting to know…”
“Hang on a sec,” Terraile hastily interrupted.
She heard the pet take the phone away and yell
something in the background. Something that sounded like, “EAIR!! Put the duck
up before you break something!”
“Sorry bout that,” Terraile finally said a little
“No problem. Anyway, I was just calling to see
how to pronounce Ear... UN…”
“Yes! You get asked that a lot?”
“All the time. It’s Uun-ere-caa-gh.”
“Alright, thanks. That’s it.”
“No problem. ‘Night.”
She hung up the phone and hurried over to the
stove where the tea kettle was whistling merrily. A totally silly thing, but
at least it wouldn’t be bugging her anymore.
On the other side of Neopia Central, a completely
different scene was taking place. Mass chaos ruled as a striped Eyrie ran around
with a dark battle duck, squeaking it incessantly. An island Uni tried desperately
to restore order while a shadowed Shoyru channel surfed with the company of
a spotted Zafara. And shut up in an upstairs bedroom was a girl, with brown
hair, pouring over a small chapter book. She was oblivious to the carnage downstairs,
immersed in a world not her own, one she would be giving a report on in a couple
days… a world where totalitarianism ruled and he was always watching…
Felicia woke the next day to the sound of a
high-pitched voice yelling. She yawned and staggered out of bed, glancing around.
The room was a lot smaller it seemed. A lot more barren too. A TV screen was
set in one wall, doubling also as a camera watching her every move. ‘But,’ her
sleepy mind sluggishly thought, ‘hasn’t it always been like that?’ She staggered
over to what passed as her kitchen and scrounged up her breakfast. The infernal
voice followed her, bellowing out the morning news, the occasional wake-up call,
and plenty of propaganda. A small part of her mind noticed that they were pronouncing
their ruler’s name wrong. The cabinet was almost bare, due to the new rationing
restrictions that had been imposed. She made herself some gritty coffee and
toast. Then she changed into her plain gray uniform and headed out the door.
The apartments she lived in were fairly close to where she worked so the lack
of a car didn’t matter anymore. The pets that lived next door were playing in
the hall again. The purple Kau and Christmas Lupe raced past her, nearly knocking
her off balance, yelling something about catching a spy.
“Morning Felabba,” she said dully to their owner
who stood in the doorway.
“Morning Felicia,” she replied, watching her
pets with dead eyes.
She made small-talk with her neighbor for a
while, mostly about the new regulations their leader had imposed. Felicia idly
noted that Felabba pronounced his name wrong also. As she walked away, she felt
a twitch of sorrow for Felabba. Her pets were deeply ingrained in the propaganda
that was spewed out. One day Felabba would slip somehow and her pets would turn
her in. Happened all the time.
Felicia dismissed such thoughts as she walked
to her job. On every street corner was a screen where the usual announcements
and propaganda was shifted through the stale city air. As she waited on the
street corner the latest news broadcast proclaimed how close they were to catching
the rebellion leader. A quick picture of his face was shown, a scrawny spotted
Zafara with intense eyes. She shuddered and looked away. Something about him
She finally arrived at work, a bit early. Rishiy
was standing near the door, sipping the gritty coffee. He grimaced and threw
the rest of it away.
“Nasty stuff,” he commented absently.
“Yes,” she agreed, slowly walking towards her
“Say,” he said, his eyes darting back and forth,
“Would you happen to have any borovan, by chance?”
There was always a major shortage of something
or another. This month it was borovan.
“No,” she lied, thinking back to the small bit
tucked up in a corner of the pantry, “I’m all out.”
“Ah, too bad,” he said, and walked away.
Felicia settled into her small area, just a
little box-like area with a desk, chair and two stacks of paper. One was incoming,
the other outgoing. Her job was simple. The propaganda writers that worked upstairs
would churn out massive amounts of ads, flyers, television announcements each
day. The results would be sent down to her and her fellow editors. They checked
everything over for mistakes and in a rare instance, incorrect thinking. That
was what it was called. Anything that went against their ruler and his rules
was “incorrect thinking.” She rarely encountered such things, however.
Her first paper on the stack was nothing fancy.
Some announcement about the borovan shortage. Then there was a Battledome notification.
More Eyrie weapons released. Darn favoritism… She continued editing the papers
until lunch where she headed down to the cafeteria to sit with her friend Adoriblelapin.
“Anything interesting?” she asked cheerfully.
“No,” Felicia replied glumly, “Just the same
“I can’t imagine what it’d be like to be an
editor,” Lapin said with a delicate shudder, “I’d go insane if I did that.”
“It has it’s ups and downs,” she replied, “But
all for the good of Un-eairkagh.”
“Yes,” the girl replied around a mouthful of
tasteless food, “all for the good of Un-eairkagh.”
Felicia noted that Adoriblelapin pronounced
it wrong also. Out of the corner of her eye she could see one of the security
cameras trained on them. They were always watching. Always. Suddenly she lost
“I’m heading back to work,” she mumbled and
stood, gathering up her dishes.
Felicia made her way out of the cafeteria and
back to her work space. A new paper sat on her desk. She sat up and read it
carefully. Then she read it again. What it said made her blood run cold.
To be continued...