It has been nearly two years since the Golden Jubjub Voice
was created. Ruby and Indigo are now in seventh grade, soon to graduate from Elementary
School. The Voice, however, has barely grown at all. It remains as unpopular as
it was two years ago. The seasons roll onward, autumn to winter to spring to summer
and eventually back to autumn again. The wheel of time turns, a shifting, changing
kaleidoscope. Now, as spring fades and summer blossoms, what is to be the fate
of the Voice?
* * *
"Budget cuts again," Principal Droning the blue Buzz leaned back in his office
chair and sighed. The faint gold rays of the morning sun touched upon his aged,
wearied features. The lines and wrinkles on his face from the constant stress
and demands of being an Elementary School Principal. "This one is big. We'll
have to let something go." "We could cut from the cafeteria," suggested Assistant
Principal Stevens the blue Chia.
Mr. Droning sighed again, "They've been cut
enough. They're barely getting by. What if we cut the music program?"
"They're barely getting by, too," said Mr. Stevens,
playing with a glass paperweight on his boss's desk. "We could cut the newspaper."
"But that newspaper is an educational experience
for the children!" objected Principal Droning.
Mr. Stevens nodded. "An educational experience
that no one is reading. At this age, they think newspapers are dorky. Mr. Droning,
sir… it's the only way."
Mr. Droning sighed a third time, grabbed his
paperweight out of Mr. Stevens's hands and started to turn it slightly so its
many facets would reflect the sunlight. Life was hard. "If it's the only way…
I'll do it. They have a meeting this afternoon. I'll announce it to the public
then. In the meantime, the editor should be the first to know. Call Indigo Musician
down to my office."
* * *
"Cut from the newspaper?" Indigo Musician the blue Gelert editor cried.
Mr. Droning flinched at the dismayed sound of
the young Gelert's voice. "No one is reading it, Indigo. It costs money to buy
the paper and ink to print these newspapers out. These are tough economic times
and, as principal, I have to make the best decision I can."
"What If I could persuade them to read?" Indigo
asked frantically. Anything to save the newspaper she had created so long ago.
"All I need is a little time, Principal Droning. Give me four weeks and I'll
blow the roof off this school!"
Principal Droning thought for a moment. "Four
weeks, Indigo. And not one day more."
"Oh thank you, thank you, thank you, thankyou!"
The Gelert sped out of the room like a shot, knees weak with relief.
* * *
That afternoon, at the newspaper club meeting, Indigo Musician let her reporters,
photographers and staff members know what was going on. "The people just aren't
interested in news anymore," she said. "We're finding more and more newspapers
in the recycling bin, untouched. If we keep this up, you're all getting pink
My name is RubyRainbow333 the rainbow Uni, the
star reporter of the school newspaper, The Golden Jubjub Voice. The Golden
Jubjub is the name of my school.
"We need to give them a reason to read!" Indigo
ranted. As the editor and founder of the paper, she loved it with a passion.
It was her brainchild, created in a time when the Golden Jubjub needed it most.
"We need something that will spark the people's interest. Like… a human interests
"Wouldn't it be a Neopets interest piece?" I
asked. "And isn't that just another name for a gossip column?"
But there was no stopping Indigo. "Neopets love
to read about what's going on around them. They want to find out what their
peers are up to! And you're the most trustworthy writer I have, Ruby."
"You want me to be a gossip columnist?"
"No, no, no! Not a gossip columnist! You're
still a reporter. You're just reporting on a different subject: the world around
you. I won't make you do anything dishonorable."
I paused. A mysterious feeling was bubbling
in the pit of my stomach, like a foul witch's brew foaming and eating away at
my insides. This is never going to work, said a voice inside of my head. Just
You'll help save the school newspaper! said
a different voice. You'll be helping your friend along the way. Why not go for
But what ever happened to untainted, honest
It'll still be honest. Perhaps even more
So many conflicting emotions. All I wanted was
for her inner battle to be over. "Okay, Indigo," she said. "I'll do it."
* * *
"Your first Neopet interest piece will be about Eliza Cottontail the green
Cybunny. Word around the school has it that she failed her last math test. Our
class treasurer failed a math test! This is big news, Ruby."
That feeling was eating away at my insides again,
but I quickly suppressed it. "So what do you want me to do?" I asked quietly.
"Ask her about it. And don't forget to record
every minute of the conversation with your trusty recorder," Indigo said, holding
up my portable tape recorder. The same tape recorder that had uncovered a grade
scandal when the Voice was founded. I hated for it to be sullied in such a manner.
For the cold, ruthless sort of journalism that could taint the Voice for the
rest of its short life. But what could I do? I had to save it.
"So Eliza, what's up?"
The Cybunny just sat, face expressionless. "Not
much, I guess."
"How'd your math test go?" I asked in an off-hand
sort of manner.
"Why do you care?" she snapped.
"No reason," I said casually. I'm pretty
good at lying, I thought to myself. "Why? Did it not go well?"
Suddenly, Eliza broke down in tears. "No! It
didn't go well! I got a 52%, Ruby! The class treasurer got a 52%! I'm a failure!
I'll probably be kicked off the student council! I'll… I'll…"
"You'll what?" I asked.
"Nothing." Eliza wiped her eyes with a white,
velvety paw. "Just forget you heard that, please."
I trotted off gratefully, the tape recorder
still going in my pocket.
* * *
"Good work, Ruby," Indigo said, gazing proudly at the latest issue of the
Golden Jubjub Voice. The headline: "STUDENT TREASURER FAILS MATH TEST".
Just looking at the article I wrote, the quotes I recorded made my stomach threaten
to revolt. I wanted to say something, anything to stop the dishonesty. Yet it
seemed my mouth was glued shut. Something in my mind said, She told you to
forget about it, RubyRainbow333. Why is it haunting you, then? Why can't you
seem to stop thinking about it?
I saw Eliza in science class that day. "How's
it going?" I asked in that same poisonously casual manner.
"Again, why do you care?" The look she gave
me was even more poisonous, as noxious as snake venom. After a pause, she said,
"If you really must know, I was kicked off of the student council. The people
impeached me. They said I was lying to them about their money, which is ridiculous.
I'd never lie." She didn't speak to me for the rest of the class. I didn't blame
her. I wanted to crawl in a corner, to hide from all of the horrible things
I had done. Yet there was no hiding from my inner guilt.
The Voice was going down, and taking
me down with it. I could feel it swirling like a whirlpool of triumph and defeat,
of truth and lies. Swirling, ever swirling in its mighty wrath. The Voice
was no longer the sweet melody Indigo had created it to be. Instead, it had
turned bitter and shadowy, hiding all honesty and veiling all truth. That Voice
sang, harsh as a crow's call in the dead of night. It sang a song of wickedness
and hatred. It spun downward, water lapping at my eyes and ears.
I knew that I had to fight it. If I didn't,
I would drown.
To be continued...