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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 4th day of Hiding, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 142 > Short Stories > Fun(less)draisers

Fun(less)draisers

by buddy33774

You might think that the Neopian Times would be a safe, disaster-free area place to work. Really, the biggest problem anyone there would have to worry about would be paper-cuts, right?

     Not so.

     “Don’t worry!” shouted Hawkins, a green Kyrii who was, understandably, nervous at the time. “I’m gonna get you out of there!”

     Before him was a huge glass tank full of ink. This was one of the many tanks where the printing machines drew their ink from. It was only supposed to be full of, well, ink; however, a certain unfortunate green Pteri had been unlucky enough to find himself inside. Stuck. Trapped, like a certain furry creature whose name I just can’t seem to remember…

     “Oh, no hurry,” he shouted back (though it came out muffled), sarcastically. “It’s no big deal… I mean, I’m only trapped in a tiny tank, half-full of ink – which I think may be getting fuller by the moment. Although I can’t help but wonder if it’s safe to be breathing in all these fumes… and I think there could be some mild health risks is swallowing ink… but hey! No worries, right?”

     “Haunters!”

     Hawkins turned around to see Brintle shouting at him from the Printing Room door. “Come with me! I’ve got something I need so discuss with you in my office! Now!”

     Hawkins turned back to the Pteri in the tank. “I’ll be back in one minute, okay?” he reassured quickly, before turning and rushing off to his boss, leaving a certain green Pteri alone… still stuck… still trapped, like a certain furry creature whose name I still can’t seem to remember…

     The Pteri sighed. “I’m going to have to see doctor after this, aren’t I?”

Brintle’s Office

Brintle closed his door, motioning for Hawkins to take a seat. Once he had, the Assistant Editor made his way to behind his desk and sat down himself.

     “Haunters,” he began, “I have a problem.”

     “Umm, before we begin, maybe I should correct you. You see, my name is-”

     “Haunters,” the Blumaroo cut off with a wave of his hand, “I know what your name is. But right now, that’s not important. I have a problem, and I think you can help.”

     Hawkins shook his head. This pet had problems, that’s for sure. Most of them of the mental variety.

     “Now, I’m sure that you remember a few weeks ago when we tried out the idea of making the ‘Times out of jelly, correct?”

     Remember?! Hawkins had spent the last three weeks trying to forget that terrible incident! He was still surprised Mister Brintle hadn’t held his new worker personally responsible for the whole mess.

     “Ummm, yes sir, I do…”

     “Well, in order to print the newspapers, I had to buy brand new machines. However, those cost a lot of money, money that we didn’t have. So, I did the only logical thing – I took out money from a loan shark.”

     “Oh,” muttered Hawkins, putting his face in his paws, “this can only be bad.”

     “Got that right,” continued Brintle. “Turns out, when you take out loans from these guys, you’re supposed to pay them back! Imagine that, huh? And now, this guy wants me dead! He’s going to kill me – and then eat me! He’s a cannibalistic loan shark!”

     The Blumaroo chuckled slightly. “Quite a pickle, huh? Anyway, I’m going to need your help!”

     Hawkins looked up. “I’m not going to have to do anything illegal, will I?”

     “Not yet. That’s plan B. My first plan, which I’m sure will work very well-”

     “Just like the idea with the loan shark?” Hawkins cut in.

     “Hopefully better!” replied Brintle, smiling. “My plan is for you and all the other employees here to go out and sell cookies to raise the money to pay off the bounty on my head!”

     “So, wait a minute,” stopped Hawkins, thinking. “In doing all this, doesn’t that mean I’m saving your life? Wouldn’t that make you… indebted to me?…”

     Brintle got up, pulled Hawkins out of his chair, and started pushing him towards the door. “Hawkins, it’s nothing like that at all! Now get out there and sell cookies!”

     With the slamming of the door, it was final. There was no way for the Kyrii to get out of it. He was going to have to sell cookies.

     Stupid fundraisers.

***

Lennert opened the door to his apartment – and stepped through into heaven!

     All around him, stacked in pillars that touched the roof, was a thick forest of cookie boxes. These “trees” were organized in neat stacks that reached the ceiling, almost as if they were the ones holding it up. Pathways between the boxes were narrow; it would’ve been so easy to knock one down and start a domino-effect.

     “I don’t know where I am,” the red Lenny muttered, “but I love it!”

     Then, from somewhere in the back, came a muffled sound. Curiosity peaked, Lennert began to wade his way through past the towers of treats until he came to a clearing. In the middle was a huge pile of boxes – not quite as neatly stacked as the rest of the “forests”, it looked like these boxes had just been dumped there, like a big pile of useless dirt - that rose up to the ceiling; a mountain in the middle of a forest.

     “Lennert!” came a muffled sound from the pile.

     The Lenny looked down, confused. “Umm, hello?...”

     “Lennert! Down here!”

     Lennert’s eyes opened wide. “Oh my goodness! The cookies – they’ve come alive! Oh, this is so cool!”

     “No, Lennert!” came the reply from the pile. “It’s Hawkins!”

     Lennert gasped. “Hawkins! You’ve been turned into a cookie! Oh man, what am I gonna do?! Don’t worry, I promise I’ll find a way to turn you back! And I’ll try real hard not to eat you… unless you’re peanut butter… you’re not peanut butter, are you? ‘Cause I am kinda hungry…”

     “No, you fool!” came the Kyrii-turned-cookie’s reply. “I’m not a cookie! I’m just trapped under a pile of them! Now get me out of here before I suffocate and die and come back to haunt you as a really angry ghost!”

     “Oh! Alright!” Making haste, Lennert dug through the pile of cookie boxes until he found his green-furred friend and could pull him out. Afterwards, the two roommates sat on top of the mound, looking out at the woodland of boxes that their apartment had had become.

     “Hawkins, how come we have all these cookie boxes?”

     A rather simple question…

     “Everyone at work has to have a fundraiser so our boss doesn’t get assassinated and eaten by a cannibal loan-shark.”

     …with a not so simple answer…

     “Oh,” came Lennert’s almost-patented reply. After a moment, he sat up straight, grinning. “Hey, I have an idea! How about I buy all the boxes from you? Wouldn’t that solve your problem?”

     Hawkins looked at him, befuddled. “Lennert, we’ve been through this. You don’t have any money.”

     Lennert sighed, looking at the ground sadly, then suddenly perked up again. “Hey Hawkins, can I borrow some money off of you to buy some cookies?”

     Hawkins groaned, flopping backwards on the pile. “I’m never gonna be able to sell all these boxes!”

     “Oh, don’t you worry about that!” Lennert comforted, grinning deviously. “I’ve got a plan!”

     “A plan?”

     “A plan! A grand plan! A plan that will work – I know it can! Man, if you and me work together on this grand plan, we’ll sell all these cookies, I just know we can! Just stick to the plan, and-”

     “Okay, I get it! Shut up!”

***

By midmorning the next day, Lennert’s “grand plan” wasn’t looking so “grand”. Because, you see, the next day saw Hawkins sitting behind a pitiful lemonade-type stand, boxes of cookies stacked up around him. The Kyrii’s head rested gloomy in his paws as he stared out at all the other pets that passed him on the sidewalk.

     “Hello,” greeted an approaching Krawk, painted with flames of fire. He examined the wooden, dilapidated stand, though his face made it hard to tell what he thought (undoubtedly, it wasn’t good). “Will all funds from these cookies go to help sick orphans?” he finally asked.

     Hawkins looked up at him, eyelids droopy, not bothering to lift his head from his paws. “If I say yes, will you buy my cookies?”

     The Krawk narrowed his eyes. “Is that a ‘no’?”

     Hawkins shrugged. “Will, it’ll go towards saving my boss’s life…”

     “So… no orphans?”

     Hawkins, who’d never bothered to remove head from paw, just shook his head.

     “I’ll be on my way, then.” And off he strode.

     Hawkins just shook his head, this time to himself. “This is so pointless…” The Kyrii, who just happened to glance to his left, did a quick double-take. As did just about everyone else on the street.

     Walking down the sidewalk was a giant chocolate chip cookie – with a red Lenny’s head sticking out a hole in the front! Hawkins watched, wide-eyed, mouth a-gape, as it proudly strut its way up to him, elbowing him in a buddy-buddy way.

     “See Hawkins! This was the key to my plan – a mascot! An image, a gimmick! That’s just what we needed! It’s a good thing I kept this costume from Halloween a few years back – you never know when you may need a chocolate chip cookie costume to help get you out of a jam!”

     “I… I…”

     “No! Don’t say anything yet! This isn’t all!”

     “It’s… not?!...”

     “Nope! I’ve got a song to go along with it! All great companies have songs, so now, we’ve got one, too!”

     “Oh, kill me now…”

     But that didn’t happen. Instead, the Lenny/cookie began to sing and dance:

     “My name is Cookie Man!

     I come from Cookie Land!

     I baked these cookies in cookie pans,

     And they won’t fit in cans!

     “My name is cookie man!

     I come from Cookie Land!

     Please buy our cookies, if you can!

     I promise this is not a scam!”

     *THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!* came the sound of Hawkins hitting his head against the bench of the stand. “Boy,” mentioned one passing-by Bruce. “This must take a big dent out of your dignity, huh?”

     Hawkins looked up, shrugging miserably. “Not really. Any dignity I might have had I lost a long time ago.”

     Another nearby mother ixi shook her head disapprovingly, covering her daughter’s eyes with a hoof. “This is not something children should see.”

     “My name is Cookie Man!

     I come from Cookie Land!

     This suit is pretty hot,

     I wish I had a fan!

     “My name is Cookie Man,

     I come from Cookie Land!

     I really need a – oh?”

     Lennert paused in mid-song (much to the surrounding crowd’s relief) to look down at what had interrupted him – a young Usul.

     “Hello!” she greeted brightly, giving a flutter of her eyelashes to match her sugar-sweet disposition. “I’m a member of the Usul Scouts! And I’ve gotten word that you’re selling cookies here! However, I think you should know that this is our territory, and we Usul Scouts don’t like it when others try to mussel their way into our cookie-selling area!”

     She flashed another quick, horribly-cute smile to the surrounding crowd.

     “Oohh! Ahhh!” Right on cue.

     Back to the Lenny. “So maybe you and your friend should pack up your stuff and move somewhere else! Or else, I’m afraid there’s gonna be trouble!”

     “Oh yeah?” retorted Lennert, placing his wings on his hips. “What if we don’t move! What are you gonna do about that, huh?!”

     Suddenly, the little Usul’s smile shifted to a ferocious snarl, as she leapt onto the Lenny’s face, clawing and scratching like an animal.

     “Ahhh!!!” Lennert shouted in pain. “You little brat! I knew you were evil when one of you tried to overcharge me for those stupid cookies of yours!”

     Falling to the ground, the two started to roll around – a Lenny in a cookie suit and a little Usul Scout.

     “I warned you, punk! You asked for it! Now, eat claws!”

     “I’d rather eat food!”

     As the two tussled, the crowd just stood by idly and watched, some cheering and being genuinely entertained, some slightly disturbed by what was going on, some just plain confused.

     “Daddy,” asked a young Chia, “why is the cookie man fighting a little girl?”

     “I don’t know, son. I just don’t know…”

     After a few minutes of rolling around on the ground in a brawl, Lennert finally managed to pry the Usul off his face and pinned her against the side of a building, her feet struggling in midair. “Finally!” he shouted triumphantly, pumping one wing in the year while keeping his enemy restrained. “I’ve finally proven that I’m strong enough to beat up a little girl!”

     But his victory was short lived. Glancing behind him, he saw an entire posse of 5 little Usuls approaching, many pounding clenched fists into their paws, all scowling unhappily.

     “Oh no!” shouted Lennert, backing away immediately, letting the Usul Scout he had pinned against the wall fall to the ground. “Hawkins, this is bad!”

     Hawkins, confused, looked from Lennert to the approaching posse. “Lennert, they’re just little girls…”

     “Hawkins you don’t get it!” shouted Lennert, quivering in his cookie costume, eyes filled with fear. “I can take one, maybe two Usul Scouts, but not six! Hawkins they have strength in numbers!”

     The first Usul Scout, the one Lennert had presumably “beat”, got up, shook herself off, and glared up at the two rivals. “Get them!!!”

     With a loud war screech, the Usuls chased after the two would-be cookie entrepreneurs, who took off, screeching their own cries of terror as they ran down the street all the way home.

     “LOOK WHAT YOU’VE GOTTEN US INTO THIS TIME, LENNERT! I’M GONNA KILL YOU, HEAR ME!?! I’M GONNA KILL YOU!”

     “YOU THINK THEY’D LET US GO IF I OFFERED THEM A COOKIE?!?”

***

“Ladies and gentleman, can I have you all gather around me for a second?”

     Brintle stood on a desk in the middle of the News Room, the main room of the ‘Times, where reporters pounded out their articles and lazy employees (made it looked like they) worked. As the writers, reporters, and slackers gathered around their Assistant Editor, he began:

     “Now, I know a lot of you have worked really hard this last week selling cookies. And for this, I’m thankful! However, I’m here to let you all know that this isn’t necessary anymore! You see, apparently, the loan shark I owed the debt to was killed off by a rival loan shark! So, as it would seem, I really no longer owe anything to anybody! Kind of a funny ending, huh?” Brintle gave a weak chuckle, failing to notice that nobody else was doing the same.

     “But wait,” shouted out Hawkins. “What are we supposed to do with all the unsold boxes of cookies? Donate them to charity? Orphans, maybe?”

     Brintle shook his head, looking back at Hawkins as if he was the crazy one. “Orphans?! Pssh! The heck you will! Just give them to me – I’ll deal with them!”

Hawkin’s Apartment

Hawkins relayed all this to Lennert later that night as they sat atop their huge mound of cookie boxes. The Lenny’s shoulder’s simply slumped, disheartened.

     “Man,” he muttered. “I really liked living in an apartment full of cookies… it’s been my dream since I was six…”

     “You know,” Hawkins realized, looking up as a strange thought occurred to him. “It feels like we’ve forgotten something…”

The Neopian Times Printing Room

A familiar green Pteri looked out, depressed, from where he was, still trapped in a tank of black ink.

     “Hello?! Is anyone out there?! I really could use some help in here… I’ve been trapped for nearly four days. This really can not be healthy for me… I don’t think I should be breathing all these fumes, and I’m starting to see spots! Plus I really have to go to the bathroom! Hello? Anyone?!”

     Things always work out… sort of…

The End


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