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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 25th day of Running, Yr 21
The Neopian Times Week 139 > Short Stories > The Jelly Job

The Jelly Job

by buddy33774

Hawkins had been working at the Neopian Times for almost a week. Part of his duties at the ‘Times included sitting through many meetings. And through them all, he was always able to stay awake.

     Except for today.

     “Hanky!”

     Hawkins jerked awake, startled.

     Stupid! he thought. How could you fall asleep?! How?!

     His white Blumaroo of a boss leaned forward. “Well,” he said, as if waiting for something. “What do you think, Hanky?”

     “Hanky” glanced from side to side, employee to employee. Poor Kyrii, he was so lost. So, he came up with the only proper response.

     “Uhhh… Huh?”

     Mr. Brintle sighed, putting his face in his paw. “We’re all brainstorming ideas of how to make the newspaper better, Hanky. That was the assignment I gave you last night – to come up with some good ideas. Now, come on! Let’s hear yours!”

     Assignment?! What assignment?! I didn’t hear any assignment!

     Okay, maybe Hawkins wasn’t always able to stay awake…

     The stupefied Kyrii’s eyes darted across the room, desperately trying to come up with something to cheat his way through a response. A couple of the other employees seated around the table were munching on some food.

     Hmmm… food, newspaper. Food, newspaper. Food, newspaper…

     Of course, from this he came up with the only logical conclusion…

     “How about a jelly newspaper everyone can eat after reading it!”

     Oh no… I’m gonna get fired for sure…

     Brintle stood for a moment, chewing thoughtfully on the idea. Then, a smile spread across his face. “Hank, you’re a genius! That’s the best idea I’ve ever heard!” He turned to a Kiko sitting near him. “And you wanted to do something silly like ‘try and bring it out on time’. Psshh! I don’t even know what I pay you for!”

     Brintle turned to the rest of the staff. “I want you all to start working on a way to make our newspapers out of jelly!”

     A green Pteri raised his hand (err, wing). “But sir,” he questioned, “that may not even be physically possible!”

     The Blumaroo scowled, “You’re going to let a little something like physics get in our way?! What do I pay you pets for?!” With that, the assistant editor stomped out, leaving a room for of very confused employees, along with one very relieved Kyrii sighing deeply.

     Whew! I sure dodged a bullet there!

***

“One-twenty Five.”

     “No.”

     “One-Fifty.”

     “No.”

     “One-Seventy Five.”

     The young Usul sighed. “Sir, if you want to buy some Usul Scout Cookies, you’re going to have to pay the full price of two-hundred Neopoints. No exceptions.”

     Lennert merely rolled his eyes. “Fine.” He reached behind him from where he stood in the doorway to his apartment, and felt around on the nightstand beside the door until his wing grasped hold of ten, one hundred Neopoint coins.

     “I’ll take five boxes!”

     The young Usul scout handed over the five boxes, then walked off, muttering something about “Loony Lennies” as Lennert closed the door.

     Lennert munched contently on his new-bought peanut-butter cookies, trotting merrily to the other side of the apartment, when he caught sight of a black carrying-case, like a suitcase with a shoulder strap, laying on the floor against the wall.

     “Hawkins… what is this?”

     The Lenny’s roommate, who was sitting hunched over at a desk on the other side of the room, responded hastily, preoccupied. “It’s a black carrying-case, like a suitcase with a shoulder strap.”

     Lennert hesitated, looking, unconvinced, at the bag. “Hawkins… that’s a purse…”

     “Lennert, that most certainly is not a purse!”

     “Pal, I’m telling you, that looks like a purse. And I’ll admit – I’m a little worried that you’re carrying around a purse.”

     Hawkins kept his face towards the desk, trying to work. “Fine, whatever! It’s a purse! Happy?”

     Still munching on his snacks, the Lenny next moseyed his way over to where Hawkins was sitting. “Watcha doin’?”

     Hawkins looked up, agitated, and a bit twitchy. “Some idiot came up with the idea of making the ‘Times out of jelly to sell more, so I’ve been given the astounding task of coming up with different flavors for it.”

     “What idiot was this?”

     “Well… ummm, me…”

     “I figured so.”

     Lennert stood quietly for another moment, looking over his roommate’s shoulder at the list he’d already made. “How about dung flavor?”

     Hawkins looked up, disgusted and a little confused. “Who’s gonna buy something that tastes like dung?!”

     Lennert shrugged. “It’d taste the same way going in as it will coming out.”

     Hawkins cringed. “That’s a terrible idea!”

     Lennert stuck up his beak, offended. “If all you’re going to do is put down my ideas, than don’t even bother asking.”

     “I never did! You just came over here and started talking!”

     Lennert just gave another “Hmmph!” and stalked away.

***

The Neopian Times Printing Room was the final place for every article, story, series, and comic that was to be in that weeks issue. Though it was full of about ten machines (can you guess what they do?), the room was relatively quiet, with noise levels kept to just a loud hum. It was such a place that all of the ‘Times employees gathered, huddled around Brintle, who was standing on a large wooden crate, preparing to make a speech.

     “Now,” he began, “I would like to start by thanking everybody for their hard work this week in working on our new jelly-style newspaper…”

     “What are you talking about?” shouted a familiar green Pteri. “These new machines you bought do all the work for us! I haven’t done a thing all week! Heck, I don’t even know what I do here anymore!”

     “Be that as it may,” continued the white Blumaroo, “I think we all deserve a treat. So, I proudly present you all with the first prints of the first-ever jelly newspaper!” He motioned majestically to a buffet table set up in the back of the room, stacked with piles of jelly… or was it newspapers? Well, whatever it was, it was stacked on the table... in piles!

     While other pets sauntered on over to the table and began to dig in, Hawkins only looked on, not quite sure what to say. Brintle had actually gone forward with this cockamamie plan.

     Taking a closer look at the jelly, it really did look pretty good! Too bad Hawkins had had a big breakfast earlier that day. As others munched on their jelly newspapers, Hawkins took one and shoved it in his black carrying bag slung over his shoulder, which he used to carry papers to and from work. He’d eat his later.

***

“What were you thinking putting jelly in a bag? Don’t you know jelly melts?!”

     Hawkins just shook his head at the carry-case, disheartened. The inside of the bag was covered with the remnants of thick, melted, gooey jelly.

     “And why do you have this stupid thing, anyway?” Lennert continued, munching casually on some more of his peanut butter cookies. “It looks like a purse.”

     “Well, it doesn’t matter now,” sighed Hawkins, dropping the bag on the floor. “It’s ruined now. I’ll have to get another one tomorrow.” The two roommates turned and went to separate areas of the living room, Hawkins pulling up a seat at a desk, Lennert jumping over the back of the couch and flopping on the cushions, still munching gleefully on his cookies. “Hopefully, you’ll get something a bit more manly…” the Lenny commented.

     From behind him, Lennert heard Hawkins throw his paws up in the air and sigh loudly. “All my pencils are broken! But… I just sharpened them yesterday! How’d they break already?!”

     “Heh… well,” the Lenny replied, looking over the couch’s back at his roommate. “See, I woke up this morning and the door was locked! You’d taken the key and I wasn’t sure how to get it open, so I had to use your pencils to pick the lock…”

     “You do realize they make locks nowadays that unlock from the inside, right?...”

     “Yeah, well… you should get pens, anyway! They’re way more useful and don’t have to be sharpened all the time!”

     The green Kyrii just sighed again, reaching for his trench-coat. “Alright, I’m going down to see if I can get any from the office.”

     “Oh! Oh! Oh! I wanna come!” shouted Lennert, jumping to his feet. “I’ve always wanted to see where you work!”

     “Yeah,” came Hawkins’ sarcastic reply as he reached for the door handle, “maybe it’ll encourage you to get a job of your own someday.”

Later that night…

Lennert tapped his foot impatiently, munching, annoyed, on more peanut butter cookies from the box he’d brought along. He waited restlessly in the darkness as Hawkins, kneeled under the light that brightened the doorway to the Neopian Times HQ, fumbled in trying to get his key into the lock. “Seriously, how long does it take to unlock a door?”

     Hawkins looked up at the Lenny, catching sight of only half of his feathered face. The other half was in shadow cast by the light that hung overhead.

     “Hey, you just used my set of pencils to try to pick open our door from the inside. Do you really wanna talk about locks with me?”

     *click!*

     And with the turn of the key, they were inside. As the two wondered through the dark main lobby, their images barely being reflected off the marble floor by the moonlight, Hawkins glanced back at his friend. “Now, don’t go around touching stuff!”

     “Ooohh! Lookie!” The Lenny veered off to the right, over to a pile of jelly newspapers all tied together, ready to be picked up early the next morning and delivered to the residents of Neopia.

     “Come on,” mentioned Hawkins, tuning to head to his office. “Lets just get my pencils-”

     “Pens!”

     “Whatever! Let’s get them and get home!”

     “Maybe we can get the nighttime security to help us!” the Lenny suggested

     Hawkins turned back around to see Lennert with his beak pressed eagerly up against the window. “Lennert, what are you talking about?! There is no nighttime security!”

     “Really? But, then who are all those people outside?”

     Hawkins rushed up to the window, looked out, and gasped. Coming up the lawn, arms outstretched in a rather cliché zombie-type way, stumbled the staff of the Neopian Times.

     “Oh crud,” he muttered. “See, I knew something bad was gonna come out of this. I just knew it.”

     With an about-face, Hawkins rushed over to the wall and snatched up a jelly (get it? Instead of a “paper” made out of paper, it’s a “jelly” made out of – okay I’ll shut up). Unrolling it, the Kyrii hurriedly flipped to the back page, scanning it with his eyes until he came to a small box of text in the bottom right-hand corner – the ingredients list.

     “Jelly, Strawberry Extract, Mind Altering toxins… I should’ve known! Doesn’t anybody read the ingredients on these things before they eat them?!”

     “Hawkins!” shouted Lennert, whose head was now sticking out the front door, “they’re getting pretty close! Maybe we should do something!”

     “Hurry!” Hawkins shouted, refolding the jelly (or paper… or… whatever it was…). “Grab as many of these things as you can and follow me!”

     With armfuls of jelly newspapers, both Kyrii and Lenny dived behind the only cover they could find – the reception desk. Stocked with an “arsenal” of newspapers, the two “soldiers” prepared to make their stand against the jelly-induced zombies.

     You’ll never find a situation like this anywhere else.

     “Hawkins,” said Lenny, fear on his face, “if I don’t make it out of this, you can have all my stuff.”

     “Oh, well that’s real considerate of you, considering everything in the apartment is mine!”

     At just that moment, the mob of zombies broke through the doors and were in the lobby.

     “Yeeehawww!” Hawkins shouted, sticking his head out from behind the desk and heaving a paper at one of the zombies, hitting it squarely in the face. Hawkins was about to cheer, but held himself back when he saw whom he’d hit.

     “Oh, Mister Brintle! I’m so sorry! Please don’t fire me!”

     Lennert stuck his head up from behind the desk, his own paper ready to be thrown. “Die evil zombie fiends – ooh! Strawberry! My favorite!”

     “Lennert!” Hawkins grabbed the paper out of his partner’s wing before he could eat it. “That has mind-damaging chemicals in it!”

     “Hawkins, I think we both know that that can’t hurt me.”

     The Kyrii turned to heave the second paper at the mob, but stopped – the mob wasn’t coming towards the duo. Instead they were all kneeling on the floor, eating something…

     “My cookies!” shouted Lennert, reaching out for his lovelies. “No! You can’t eat those! I had to do some tough bargaining for them! Nooo!!!”

     But then, an almost semi-miraculous thing began to happen. The zombie employees began to revert back to normal! (Anticlimactic, eh?)

     “Oh man,” muttered a certain confused green Pteri, scratching his head. “I am so far from my house right now…”

     Brintle, back to normal and apparently without any idea that his white face was now covered in purple jelly, looked at Hawkins, rather confused. “Hoony, what’s going on here?”

     Hawkins had to cover himself – fast!

     “Ummm… nothing?...”

     The Assistant Editor shrugged. “Works for me. Lock up when you’re done.”

     Slowly, the rest of the staff made their way out of the building without any idea of how they’d gotten there, and apparently not caring all the same, until only Hawkins and Lennert were left. And then, they too left (and yet, Hawkins still didn’t have a pencil!).

     The two didn’t talk for almost a block. Then…

     “I don’t get it,” asked Hawkins aloud. “Why did they suddenly turn back to normal?”

     “Well,” explained Lennert, very matter-of-factly, “the jelly turned them into zombies, so it only makes sense that the peanut butter would turn them back to normal! Everybody knows that peanut butter is jelly’s natural enemy!”

     “But… that doesn’t make any sense…”

     “Yes, Hawkins, in a very twisted way, it does...”

     For another block Hawkins tried to digest the information. Then, he just gave up. What was the point? It didn’t make sense now, and it never would. He decided to just accept it as was – a really weird situation he would eventually blab to his therapist about (the Kyrii didn’t have a therapist, but he figured that after a few more escapades like tonight, he would have to find one).

     “You know what I could really go for?” Lennert announced aloud as they reached the stoop of their apartment building.

     “A peanut butter and jelly sandwich!”

The End


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