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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 24th day of Awakening, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 100 > Short Stories > Pancake Panic

Pancake Panic

by terrabondayle

She stepped out onto the sturdy wooden stage, and the audience clapped enthusiastically. The sounds did not reach her, as she walked out into the lit part of the platform. The light adjusted so all could see her. She sat in front of the ebony piano and looked over her music. She raised her hooves to play the ivory-coloured keys, and…

     Blinding light seeped through her closed eyes. She groaned and covered her face with the bed covers but the sun still burned through. The sound of the curtains being opened made her slowly open her eyes and see who had woken her up. In front of her windows was her bond-brother Devlin, breathing in the fresh, spring air. He turned towards her, his golden eyes gleaming.

     "Good morning, Raigara! Did you have a good sleep?"

     Raigara glared. "Yes, until you woke me up."

     "I apologize. I didn't mean to wake you up from another of your egotistical dreams." He grinned fiendishly and ducked the pillow she threw at him.

     "Was it really necessary to wake me up so early, Devlin?" Raigara stifled a yawn.

     "Of course! Have you already forgotten what today is?"

     "Hmm…?" Raigara tried to clear her hazy mind. "Is it… the Pancake Culinary Contest?"

     "Indeed, and you would never forgive me if I let you miss that." Devlin eyes twinkled with excitement. "The first annual Pancake Culinary Contest," the Eyrie recited from his memory, "taking place today in Neopia Central. Oh, I can hardly contain myself. Let us hurry, Raigara. I'm sure _Moozart_ and Sil are busy preparing for this day as well."

***

"Now where did I put my glasses?" The spotted Kau paced back and forth around the living room, his face set in a frown.

     "Moo, you don't have glasses." His sister Black_Silhouette rolled her eyes. "Not real ones, anyway."

     "But how am I supposed to compose anything without my glasses?"

     Sil sighed. "Moo, have you already forgotten what day it is?"

     "Why, it's Tuesday!"

     "Actually, it's Saturday, but that wasn't the answer I was looking for. Today is the first annual Pancake Culinary Contest."

     "What an odd name to give to a pancake!"

     "It's not a pancake, silly. It's an event taking place in Neopia Central today. When you get there, you will be assigned a partner. One of you will cook pancakes while the other eats them. It's a race between which pair can cook and eat the biggest number of pancakes. Doesn't that sound fun?"

     "Yes, yes, what a wonderful idea! Let me go write this down. Sil, you and I will be the most famed pets in Neopian history! Oh, how clever!" He ran off in search of a pen and paper.

     The Halloween Kougra resisted the urge to slam her head on the table. At least he gave us both credit, she thought sullenly. _Moozart_ was quite an odd sibling to have, and he could be rather eccentric at times. However, friends and family members alike, were fond of him despite his somewhat strange character. It must be a trait born in most gifted composers. Moo may not always think straight, but his music is so rhythmically perfect, you would think he had a ruler in his head!

     The Kau returned a short while later, a pen in his mouth and a piece of paper in his hoof. The ink was still wet, and his writing looked somewhat rushed, as though he hurried to write down all his ideas before they got lost. His Narwhool Loopa was not far behind him.

     "Here Sil, I wrote down your idea! What do you think? It's absolute genius, isn't it?"

     Sil took the paper curiously and read what was written. It was a music staff with the notes to 'The Marriage of Figaro' scrawled on it.

     "Uh… great, Moo… but we don't need this right now. You just keep it safe for future reference." She handed the sheet back to him.

     "But Sil, I don't need this. I already know the music to The Marriage of Figaro. I'm a composer, not a plagiariser!"

     She blinked at her brother's sudden change in thought. "Er, yes, of course. I didn't mean to give you that kind of impression. At any rate, let's hurry with our preparations. I'm sure Devlin and Raigara will be arriving any minute now."

***

The square at Neopia Central was filled with delight and merriment as Neopets and owners joined the crowd. The brightly coloured banners flew in the air and some Neopians were blowing up balloons for the younger pets. The faint smell of cooking touched everyone's noses, as the chef inspectors examined the cookware. The hosts, a yellow Scorchio and a pink Lenny, stood on a high platform while making announcements in the microphone. In front of them stood rows of tables, each with a mini, portable stove. The judges' table was located adjacent to where they stood. From their appearance, it seemed that the Scorchio and Lenny were to be judges as well.

     The Scorchio, wearing a long tawny-brown coat stood up and spoke into the microphone. "Welcome, Neopians, to the first annual Pancake Culinary Contest!" Everyone erupted into cheers. "Would the registered contestants please line up in front of the judges table? Once everyone has been assigned a partner and number, we will begin. Petpets are not allowed in the contest. They may be dropped off in the marked sideline area where they can observe their owners."

     A line started to form around the judges' table once the Scorchio had finished speaking. Surprisingly, it was not that long. Devlin deduced that not many were eager to try their luck at the contests in its debuting year.

     "Hey Devlin, why don't you go drop off our petpets in the sidelines?" Sil suggested. "We'll save you a spot in the contestant line-up."

     Devlin nodded and gathered the petpets who followed him without complaints. He left them under the supervision of a familiar-looking cloud Elephante who looked at him oddly before accepting the petpets. He just knew he had seen her before…

     "Hurry, Devlin! It's almost our turn!"

     The Eyrie hurried back to where his friends were waiting in line. A skunk-coloured Buzz was busy jotting down names of pets that had been assigned partners. The pink Lenny, who seemed to be the co-host of the contest, sent them to their designated table.

     "Hmm… and your name is?"

     "Raigara Ranailez."

     The Buzz scanned down his sheet. "Hmm… how about you pair up with the Kougra here…"

     "Black_Silhouette." The Kougra had a hint of disdain in her voice.

     "Yes, Black_Silhouette." The two were gestured to a table by the pink Lenny. "And you, Eyrie, what is your name?"

     "DenorAiDevlin."

     "DenorAiDevlin… yes, you're on the list. Hmm… seems we are short some pets, but you'll be fine…hmm…" Devlin looked behind him. He and _Moozart_ were the last pets in line. Well, I guess I'm going to be partnered with Moo. It won't be so bad. I'll take care of the cooking, and he can eat. We still have a chance at this. He smiled, and turned back to wait for Moo's name to be called.

     "Well, DenorAiDevlin, your partner is going to be… Bilvar." Devlin turned around to tell the distracted Kau, when he froze.

     "W-wh-what? I beg your pardon. I must have heard wrong. Who did you say?"

     "Bilvar will be your partner today. He is the ghost Elephante over there in the petpet section. His mother called him for a word or two, but his name is on the list. He is one of the contestants."

     "B-b-Bilvar?!" Devlin turned to where the Buzz had pointed and almost fainted. It was indeed the same, food-for-thought, chubby Elephante from his math class. He was talking to his mother who was the cloud Elephante Devlin had recognized before. Bilvar seemed embarrassed by the way he hung his head and shuffled his feet. His mother looked concerned.

     The Eyrie turned around and remembered _Moozart_ who was absent-mindedly humming a tune - perhaps one of his symphonies in the works. A click sounded in Devlin's head.

     "What about _Moozart_? He needs a partner, doesn't he?"

     "Yes, well you see, that was the prob-"

     "Well it's no longer a problem! I'll be his partner, since we've known each other for a while, and we'd make a great team. Isn't that right, Moo?"

     The Kau stared at him for a moment. "Do you think the harpsichord or piano would sound better in bar 124?" He did not give Devlin a chance to answer, as he resumed humming.

     The Buzz blinked and then shrugged. "That's great, DenorAiDevlin, but you-"

     "You don't mean to leave him all by himself, do you?" The Eyrie was growing desperate. "You can't refuse this poor Kau a spot in the contest just because he was last in line! So what if he's a little on the odd side? He deserves the right to be in the first annual Pancake Culinary Contest!"

     "Now, now, slow down there. I never said your friend couldn't participate--"

     "So you'll make the two of us partners?" He tried to give his best grin.

     The Buzz stared him down. "No. You've been assigned to Bilvar, and that's who you'll be working with. I'm sure we can make an exception for _Moozart_, here."

     As if suddenly aware what was going on, the spotted Kau's eyes widened with worry. "You're going to let me participate, right? I don't want to miss such a grand event…"

     "Of course you won't! Err… let me consult with the judges." He left and headed towards a small group of pets seated at a black table.

     Devlin groaned and shoved his head in his talons. _Moozart_ patted his head like he would a child. "Don't feel too badly, Devlin. I'm sure we can be partners next year."

     "It's not just that, Moo, but I'm stuck with… with… Bilvar!"

     "Well, I'm sure he's a nice young Elephante. He looks like he can pack up a good meal or two. What's so bad about him, anyway?"

     The Eyrie opened his beak to let loose a long story, but he was interrupted by an all too familiar voice. "Devlin!" Devlin resisted the urge to cry. The ghost Elephante was headed in his direction with a relieved grin on his face. "I heard that we're going to be partners for the contest. This is going to be so great!"

     "Uhh… hi, Bilvar. Yeah, I'm sure this will be interesting…"

     "You don't know how relieved I am having someone I know for a partner - and someone cool, like you! I owe you one for helping me study for math, even if I didn't pass…" He choked but swallowed the lump in his throat. "My mom's really worried about me, because I'm sensitive, and all. Do you think you could make sure you cook the pancakes thoroughly? My mom says I have the chance of throwing up if I eat eggs that aren't fully cooked. They give me indigestion, and we definitely won't win the contest that way. Oh yeah, is it okay if I eat and you cook? The last time I cooked something over the stove, I burnt the pot, and my hand, too. I had to go to emergency and…"

     _Moozart_ leaned over from behind Devlin and whispered in his ear. "Good luck, my friend. You're going to need a whole lot of it."

***

"Attention Neopians! The Pancake Culinary Contest is now commencing. If you are not an assigned contestant, please stay out of the judging and cooking area."

     Devlin sulked in his seat, while Bilvar squirmed in excitement beside him. Did the Elephante ever stop shifting? The Eyrie looked around as he waited for the timer to start. On each table was a robot petpet responsible for counting how many pancakes were cooked and how many were eaten. The robots would sometimes emit a buzz or clicking sound, but they remained motionless on the tables.

     The Eyrie examined the pets around him. Sitting at the table to his left, was a burly looking Tonu who snorted and grunted every so often. Rhinopox, was what he had heard him be called, and his cooking partner was Outlast, a pirate Krawk whose wide grin could only mean trouble. The table to the right was the last one, where _Moozart_ sat with his petpet Loopa. The Buzz was unable to find a solution for the spotted Kau, but one of the judges decided to make an exception. Moo would not be able to win the contest like the other pets of course, but he was allowed to participate with his petpet.

     "You wait and see!" he had said to them. "Loopa may look small, but he has the appetite of a whale!" The judges eyed the Narwhool sceptically, but saw no harm in letting the Kau have his fun, even if he was a tad bizarre.

     A loud buzz sounded the start of the contest and the crowd cheered. Devlin hurriedly cracked eggs in a bowl and added the flour. Beside him, Bilvar fidgeted in anticipation.

     "Is there anything I can do, Devlin?" he asked tentatively.

     "No, I'm fine." His reply was almost a growl.

     "I'm sure we can get farther if the two of us work together…"

     "I said 'I'm fine'."

     Bilvar looked around at the other tables curiously. The Krawk had already started cooking and Rhinopox showed impatience by the way he glared at his plate. "Here, let me help you with the baking soda." The ghost Elephante grabbed the box and tried to measure it in a cup.

     "No, Bilvar! Don't touch that!" The Eyrie's warning was in vain, as his partner spilled the white powder all over the table. Devlin groaned.

     "Oh no! I'm sorry, I'll clean it up right away!"

     "Leave it!" Devlin barked. He grabbed the cup and hastily measured the spilled contents before pouring it into his mixing bowl. Bilvar looked back at the other table. Rhinopox had finished his first pancake and was starting his second.

     "D-d-devlin? Are you almost finished?"

     "I would be if you'd stop interrupting. Can't you wait for even a minute?" His burning eyes bore into the Elephante's skull.

     "Sorry…" he mumbled sheepishly. He turned around and observed _Moozart_. The Kau was inspecting his ingredients carefully as he mixed them in. He heard him whisper to his petpet, "you know what they'll put in these concoctions. Best to be careful."

     "But Moo, you're the one making the pancake!"

     "Exactly!"

     His petpet looked very confused.

     Bilvar snickered despite himself. "What are you laughing at?" Devlin's harsh voice stopped his laughter abruptly. "When I'm still preparing, you hurry me, but when I'm done you drag time." The Elephante looked at his plate. There sat a fully cooked, fluffy, golden pancake, still hot from the steam that rose from it.

     "Wow! Thanks Devlin!" Bilvar grabbed his fork hungrily and poured the sweet, honey-coloured syrup over it.

     "Yeah, whatever," he mumbled. "Just eat."

     Devlin looked about wearily. The robot petpet in front of him displayed '1' in the visor. The Eyrie turned to look at the other tables. Outlast's counter read '15'. Devlin scowled and slapped another pancake onto his partner's plate. He turned his gaze on his friend _Moozart_ and wondered how he was faring.

     The Spotted Kau had poured four drops of batter into his pan in attempt to make the pancakes easier for his petpet to make. Loopa was slapping his tail against the table excitedly.

     "Are they done yet? Are they done yet? Ooh, I can't wait!"

     Moo ignored his petpet's ecstatic questions and frowned in thought. "I think they're missing something…" He looked around the table hoping to see what he missed. On the corner of his table sat a cup of still steaming Borovan. Where it came from Moo could only wonder, but the wheels in his head were already turning.

     "Borovan-flavoured pancakes! Yes, that's what this recipe needs!" He grabbed the hot drink and began to pour it in the bowl of batter. He began to whistle a tune when he heard a screech from the table beside him.

     "AAARRG! BILVAR! What in the nine he-"

     "I'm sorry, Devlin! I really didn't mean for the syrup to go in that direction!"

     The skunk Eyrie growled and tried to wipe his syrup-covered paw with a napkin. "Where's that glass of water?"

     Bilvar shifted uneasily. "I… uh… that is to say…"

     "Oh, forget it," Devlin snapped, and whipped another pancake onto his plate.

     _Moozart_ shook his head in pity before continuing his cooking. Loopa was already devouring the first few pancakes and the pan was empty of batter. The Kau looked at his pan and suddenly got an idea. "If this is going to be the first Borovan-flavoured pancake made by yours truly, then I'm going to make it the biggest Borovan pancake ever!" He giggled almost maniacally and began to pour the batter into his pan. Loopa stopped in mid-mouthful and blinked in confusion.

     "Don't worry, my friend, you'll have a feast worth a thousand Narwhools!"

     If anything, Loopa looked frightened.

     Moozart flipped the pancake several times until it was finished. With one great heave, he tossed the pancake high into the air and waited expectantly for it to fall into his awaiting petpet's plate.

     A few seconds passed and there was no sign of it.

     A few more, and Moo began to wonder if he tossed it to high.

     When it seemed that a whole minute had passed, he began to worry. "Uh… well, I guess that didn't work as well as I had hoped. No matter, I'll just make another."

     At Devlin's table, the ghost Elephante was sitting nervously when seemingly out of nowhere, a large, browned pancake landed on his plate with a splat. Bilvar looked at Devlin and was about to ask him if he had given him the pancake, but thought twice when he saw the Eyrie was staring at the pirate Krawk's table, his eyes glaring angrily. Bilvar inspected the pancake carefully, but dug in despite its darker colour. It tasted oddly like coffee, but with a twist. Is stomach grumbled in protest, and Bilvar started to feel the familiar sensation of nausea.

     Devlin turned to put another pancake on his partner's plate when he noticed there was a half-eaten one still there. He looked at Bilvar, and his eyes widened. "Bilvar… are you okay? You look a little… green…"

     Bilvar groaned and dropped his fork. He stood up. "Uhhh… I think I'm going to be sick!" He turned and ran towards the garbage can beside the judges' table. The yellow Scorchio host turned on his microphone. "Uh… table number 8 is out of the contest due to… technical… problems. Thanks for participating, and better luck next year!"

     Devlin smacked himself with his paw, but regretted it instantly as he realized it still had syrup on it. He sighed but knew that the prospect of winning this year's contest was lost.

***

The timer came to a stop and a loud buzz rang out that signalled the end of the contest. At the sound, the robot petpets jumped off the table and headed towards the judges' table. There, the judges took note of the numbers and also considered the behaviour of the contestants during the contest. After several long minutes of discussion, the judges spoke their decision to the Scorchio host. He picked up his microphone and put on a smile.

     "And… the winner of Neopia's first annual Pancake Culinary Contest is… Outlast and Rhinopox! Congratulations!"

     A round of cheers and boos came from the crowd and contestants. The pirate Krawk rushed to the judges' table and picked up his shiny trophy. Photographers and journalists tried to interview and take pictures of the island Tonu, but he glared at them menacingly and they decided to try his partner instead. Beside Outlast, his Pepito, Triano was disgusted by the win.

     "This is absolutely ridiculous. Who's heard of a petpet ruler who's pet slave won a PANCAKE cooking contest? Bah! I refuse to accept your win. I'm sure it was a fluke of some sort. You bribed the judges, didn't you? You-"

     The Krawk put a lizard-y hand over his petpet's mouth and smiled. "Your Fishiness should be more respectful when there is media around."

     Raigara and Sil went to find their respective siblings and found Devlin sulking at the petpet drop-off.

     "How could you make my poor Bilvar ill? Don't you know he's allergic to Borovan?!" Bilvar's mother voice was close to a shriek. "Devlin, I thought you knew better than that! Oh, poor Bilvar, to lose a friend who he once thought was so kind…" She sighed and turned to see how her son was faring. Raigara took her place as soon as she was gone.

     "I don't think I need to ask what that was about. But how did you make that Borovan pancake?"

     "Doesn't anyone believe me when I say it wasn't me who made it?" Devlin said exasperatedly.

     "Nevertheless, Bilvar is the one who ate it."

     "Maybe the judges saw who it was," Sil suggested. "Either way, I guess it doesn't really matter, right?"

     "At least you've got Bilvar off your back, now," Raigara said slyly. Devlin brightened. "Yes, you're right! His mom probably won't let him talk to me after this whole incident." His smile crashed when he saw the Elephante heading towards him.

     "We'll give you two some time to sort things out," the island Uni whispered with a wink. But before the two could leave, Bilvar had caught up to them.

     "Devlin! My mom won't let you talk to me, and I shouldn't even be talking to you now, but I just had to tell you that I'm not angry and I don't think it's your fault. I'm just too sensitive to everything…"

     "Oh, it's okay, Bilvar." Devlin looked about desperately. "Look, you shouldn't be seen talking to me."

     "Yeah, but I just wanted to let you know. Thanks for understanding. I'll see you around."

     "Not if I can help it," Devlin muttered as Bilvar walked away. He wondered if he really could get away from the persistent ghost Elephante. It was worth a shot. He felt a reassuring hoof on his shoulder. He turned and saw that _Moozart_ had joined them.

     "It's too bad you were partnered with him," he said sympathetically and hummed his symphony again. "How about a cup of Borovan?"

The End

Author's Notes: If you are wondering, I really -was- listening to 'The Marriage of Figaro' by Mozart when I wrote this. Outlast the pirate Krawk, his petpet Triano, and Rhinopox stolen from KrimsonTears with permission, albeit reluctant permission. Feedback appreciated!


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