Boye gasped. "Loop!" she cried at the sight of the stolen
book. "You stole a book from an old lady! And you didn't even pay for it!"
"She wouldn't let be buy it," Loop said, not
rueful at all. "Besides, can't you see? I've seen this thing before! I've seen
it somewhere and I need to find out when. Besides, she told me some wacky story
about how if I bought the book, there would be Neopian troubles or something
and a beast would awaken." He rolled his eyes and stuffed the book back into
the gunny sack.
"Still, it's not right," Boye pointed out. Loop
shrugged and the two started out for the coffee shop again.
As they were eating their snowberry delights
and drinking their tea, Loop began to think about what the old woman said. I've
had people buy it and trouble had been caused in Neopia. Then somehow, the book
wound it's way back to me! I remember the beast that awakened. Somebody drifted
it back to sleep, but once it slept again, the trouble and horror was erased
from everybody's mind. Everybody's mind but mine of course. The beast was awakened
six times and I am the only one in the whole of Neopia who knows where it sleeps.
He couldn't help but wonder who drifted this 'beast' back to sleep. But he soon
shrugged it off as they set off back home.
* * *
"Wow, you really cleaned this place up," Loop commented as he and Boye walked
into their Neohome. Loop hid the gunny sack from his mother because she would
soon know that they walked alone into a store at the market place when they
knew perfectly well that it was against the rules to go into a store at the
market place alone.
"Not me," Caroline said, shaking her head. "It
was the Chia police who saved the day. It was only fifteen minutes and when
I came back down, the kitchen was spotless. And I got to clean Kimmi up." She
laughed and pointed to the sullen Gelert that lay on the counter.
"It's not fair," Kimmi whined, rolling onto
his back and staring at the white ceiling. Loop chuckled at his younger brother's
whiny-ness. He cleared his throat and Caroline looked at him, surprised.
"Erm, I should get going upstairs," Loop exclaimed,
thinking up a fast lie. "You know, I wanna clean up my room a bit. I haven't
been able to clean it since I woke up with the mess and all." He laughed nervously,
but Caroline seemed to buy it because she nodded her head. Quickly, Loop dashed
up the stairs and ran up to his room, locking the door behind him.
Grinning to himself, Loop pulled out the book
of the gunny sack and pressed his spotted paws on the heavy, metal lock. As
he touched it, a funny feeling overtook him. He suddenly felt giddy and excited
for no apparent reason. And then a feeling like someone zapping you overtook
him. He yelped with pain, dropping the book and hearing the dusty novel crash
onto the floor.
"Loop, are you alright?" a voice called distantly.
Loop heard footsteps coming up the stairs. He began to feel frantic and pushed
the heavy book under his bed. "Loop?" his locked door opened and a worried Caroline
poked her head into the room.
"I'm fine," Loop said reassuringly. "I just
dropped my book onto the floor." He waved at the bought book from the shop.
Caroline frowned. "Loop, have you been going
around this morning while going to the coffee shop and buying books?" she asked
him. Loop shook his head quickly.
"No, no," he laughed nervously, telling the
first lie that came to his head. "I got it for free because I was the tenth
customer that day. Seriously, I think the coffee shop is desperate for customers."
He laughed again nervously and glanced at Caroline, who didn't seem convinced.
But if she wasn't, she didn't say so.
"Well okay then," she said with pursed lips.
"But I can't tell you enough, Loop, there are many people out there at the market
place who will just about do anything for you to buy their merchandise. That's
why whenever you need to go through the market place alone or with someone other
than a responsible adult, and by this I mean me or an owner, then I strongly
suggest you don't enter any of the shops there. Just look straight ahead of
you and put your mind to where you're focused on going. Okay?" Loop nodded his
head and Caroline smiled weakly. "Well we're leaving soon to get some school
supplies so I'll call you down later." Loop nodded again and with another long
glance at her pet, Caroline left, closing the door behind her.
When she finally did leave, Loop dropped onto
his hands and knees and took out the mystical book. The lock was oddly glowing,
but Loop reassured himself that there must've been special effects in the book.
He touched the lock lightly, but there was no sudden shock. "Oh well," he murmured
to himself, slipping it back into the gunny sack and pushing the sack under
his bed. "I'll look over it tonight."
Later, as Loop left with Caroline and his siblings,
the lock's eerie glow grew bigger. Seconds after, the lock burst open in the
sack. The book's pages began to whirl and flip wildly and suddenly, they stopped
in the middle of the book. There, on the right page, was a picture of an Usul;
half of it's side was black while the other side was rainbow, the colors flowing.
And suddenly, the picture began to come undone
from the book's page, as though it was alive. Soon, it floated out into the
middle of Loop's bedroom and popped open, into a real live body of a villain.
The Usul cackled loudly and bellowed, his voice deep and clear, "Neopia will
soon see the beast again!" And with another cackled, it flew straight out of
"Hello, I'm Jamie the Uni, bringing breaking news to your Neohome.
Today, I'm standing next to a stressed owner. Caroline's Neohome has just been
broken into while shopping. Caroline, how do you feel about this situation?"
A blue Uni with a microphone turned over to Caroline, who seemed to be right
in tears. Her hair was matted against her head and her eyes were weepy.
"I feel horrible!" Caroline cried into the microphone.
"Obviously the culprit broke into our house through my pet's bedroom window.
Nothing was stolen for that matter, but I'd really appreciate it if all you
Neopians would look out for a thief that is breaking and entering. Please, I
would greatly appreciate it." After she finished, she broke down into heavy
sobs and a Chia policeman guided her away from the camera.
"Well, there you have it," Jamie said, looking
completely and utterly bored with her job. "A poor Neopian in need. Like she
said, please do keep an eye on everyone in your neighbourhood, including yourself
because it could just happen to you or someone around you. I'm Jamie the Uni,
bringing breaking news to your Neohome. And…cut. Let's move over to the
window, I wanna get some footage of that."
Loop watched as Jamie and the crew maneuvered
around the yellow caution tape to his window. He had checked his room; nothing
was stolen. Except his book. The thief had broken the lock and flipped through
what seemed like all the pages. Yet the page it had been opened on had been
blank. He took the privilege while nobody was looking, and saw that all the
pages were blank too. He had stolen a blank book! Well, except one page. In
the middle of the book on the left hand side, it seemed unusual letters and
it seemed like a memo of some sort. But that was it.
"Loop?" a voice said quietly, snapping Loop
from his thoughts. He looked up and saw Boye, who looked like she had just finished
crying. "Loop, I'm real sorry about what happened to your window and your room.
You can sleep in mine if you want."
"That's okay," Loop said, smiling weakly. "Mom
told us we're going to have to bunk in her room tonight on the safe side. It
was Kimmi who actually started the idea. I think it's absurd, I can handle myself,
but whatever." He gave a small shrug and stretched out his legs from his cross
legged position on the lush grass.
"Did anything get stolen?" Boye asked with great
concern. Loop shook his head and began to explain to her about the blank book
and the lock being busted open. When he finished, Boye looked at him with wide
eyes. "Loop," she began, "you have to tell mom or the Chia police! They can
probably scan the finger prints and all and they might be able to find the thief!"
Loop's expression darkened. "No thank you," he
said coolly. "I don't want myself on the news with that Jamie twit. I can just
see it now. 'Spotted Zafara Steals From Little Old Lady! News at Eleven!'" He
glared at Boye, who seemed itching to go run and tell someone else about the
blank book. "Oh and did I mention you must swear on your life that you will
not tell anyone?" Boye looked at him like he was crazy.
"Loop! If you give that book to the Chia police
and tell them you bought it at the market place, then they might just be able
to track this person down!" Boye cried. "Please Loop! You can save the entire
whole of Neopia!"
But, of course, the spotted Zafara was too stubborn.
"No," he said firmly, getting up and looking down at his older sister. "If you
want to get me in trouble, go ahead. But remember, I'll be there to tell Caroline
that you were there too and we both walked in. And if Caroline gets frozen,
then so be it." He glowered at Boye and the Draik hung her head. She knew it
was a terrible thing to do; she would be hurting pretty much everyone around
her, not just Loop. With satisfaction, Loop trotted off into the house.
Just as he was about to start up the stairs
to his room, he heard low voices in the bathroom. He tiptoed quietly to the
bathroom door and pressed his ear against it. "Look Ernie, this looks like the
last thing we saw a couple years ago," a low voice whispered.
"Yup," the so called 'Ernie' replied. "Listen
Joe, whatever you do, don't inform anyone you know that the villain is out to
set the beast loose again. I just don't understand how this kid got hold of
this book! I mean, we burned it down when the beast settled back into sleep…
right?" Loop could tell Ernie's voice was unsure. But he was too busy listening
in on the conversation to pick out what mood the policemen were in.
"The beast is gonna awaken sooner or later Ern,"
Joe answered miserably. "And sooner or later we are gonna have to inform Neopia.
I couldn't stand to look at everyone hurt an' stuff while we knew about the
whole thing beforehand!"
"Joe, keep your voice down!" Ernie growled.
"And I'm gonna inform them, but not just yet. So keep low profile. We're gonna
catch this villain first before we warn Neopia. Okay?" Loop's eyes widened.
So that old lady was speaking the truth! He backed away slowly, his mind racing.
He had stolen the book that was to lead Neopia into terror! His heart, obviously
competing with his mind, was racing too. Without warning, he sped down the stairs
so fast, he knocked into another Chia policeman who was trying to get upstairs
to investigate. Forgetting his manners, Loop scrambled up quickly and ran out
of the Neohome, the door slamming behind him. He ran all the way to Boye, who
was spread out onto the grass, watching the clouds bypass.
"Boye!" Loop exclaimed, breathless from the
long run. Boye looked up at him, alarmed. "Boye, you'll never believe this!
The old lady was right! Her nutty story was true! The beast is going to awaken!"
To be continued…