Achilles81 allowed his legs to slide out from under him, collapsing exhausted
on the hallway floor. "Oh, let's just give up MaxKanine. He'll come out eventually... when
he gets hungry."
"Achilles!" I admonished.
He gave me a long-suffering look and rolled over onto his back to stare helplessly
at the ceiling. "Well... he would."
I walked over to sit beside him with a sigh. To tell the truth, I was feeling
as frustrated as he was with our search. You see, Moeioe's bed time was approaching,
and Moeioe, being fully aware of this fact, had cleverly suggested a game of
hide and seek only a little while ago. It was the perfect plot, and I was more
than a little chagrined for having fallen for it, even as I was secretly proud
of the little Moehog for thinking it up.
For a while now, Moeioe had had a secret hiding spot somewhere in our NeoHome
and despite our best efforts, Achilles and I had not yet been able to figure
out just where it was. We're both ace trackers, but the fact that Moeioe, and
by extension his scent, had been all over our NeoHome, made that method of finding
him nearly worthless.
"Moeioe!" I called out. "You've got us beat Moeioe, now come on out!"
We both waited a few moments with our ears pricked, but there was no apparent
answer. Achilles sighed, "Nice try, Max."
"All right Moeioe," I called out again. "Since you're so good at hiding, I've
got a story for you about just that." And with that, I began, hoping that my
tale would draw our little brother out...
As Neopia's first summer continued on, the trees that had once been small
and bare now seemed to grow taller, leafier, and more full of delicious fruit
with each passing day. And each NeoPet quickly learned that the biggest and
juiciest fruits could only be found at the very tops of the trees, which were
now too high for any of the NeoPets to reach.
Many of them found ways to use the gifts and skills that they had already
been given to get to these special treats. Blumaroo's people used their springy
tails to bounce up and reach the high fruit. Moehog's tribe used their strong
tusks to shake the trees until the fruit fell to the ground. Mynci's tribe learned
to climb the trees, and Pteri and her people flew up to reach the highest branches.
The other tribes, however, could do nothing but watch enviously while they
themselves had to settle for eating the small, bitter fruits from the lower
branches. Chomby was perhaps the most jealous of all of the NeoPets who could
eat the high fruit. He had loved the high fruit the few times that he had managed
to scramble for a piece when one of Moehog's tribe shook it down. And with each
little taste he got, it became harder and harder to return to eating the fruit
from the lower branches.
Finally, one day when Chomby had gotten lucky enough to discover a big, juicy
piece of fruit that someone had not noticed lying in the tall grass, he found
that he couldn't stand it any more. Turning back to the tiny, bitter fruits
that he normally ate, he could hardly bear the idea of he and his tribe having
to eat them for the rest of their lives. "Oh," he sighed, "I wish that we could
reach the high fruits somehow!"
"Do you?" asked a melodious voice.
Chomby spun around in surprise to see who had spoken. Hovering there behind
him, casting out a warming glow as always, was the Faerie Queen. The Faerie
Queen--Chomby couldn't believe he had never thought of this before. "Yes!" he
cried excitedly, "I do, of course!"
"Very well," she answered, holding her sceptre over Chomby. "Now you shall
be able to reach any fruit you like." And with that, she disappeared once again.
Chomby looked around anxiously, wondering what gift he had been given. He didn't
seem to have wings, or tusks, or a springy tail. Suddenly, as he looked down
at his body, trying to figure out what was different, he realised something.
His feet looked a lot farther away than they normally did. Looking back up,
he saw that he was actually eye-level with the high branches of all the trees!
Without bothering to question how this was so, Chomby simply began munching
happily away at the delicious fruits that he could now reach with no effort
Suddenly, Chomby's excited eating was interrupted by the sound of raucous
laughter from behind him. Wondering what was so funny, Chomby turned around
and was surprised to see Pteri, giggling loudly from the high branches of a
tree and pointing straight at him. "What are you laughing at?" Chomby frowned.
Pteri held her sides and struggled to speak around her laughter. "Heehee,
y-you-your n-neck, hahaha! You l-look--haha--ridiculous!" No longer able to
contain herself, Pteri laughed so hard that she fell out of the tree. She never
stopped laughing even as she hit the ground with a thud. She just kept on chortling
uncontrollably as she rolled about in the grass.
Chomby didn't know what was wrong, but as Pteri's laughter attracted more
NeoPets and each of them began snickering along at the sight of him, he became
distinctly worried. He ran as fast as his four legs would carry him, trying
to ignore the NeoPets he passed along the way who stared and pointed, and finally
he reached the lake and gazed down with expectant horror at his new reflection.
He hadn't grown taller, only his neck had! As he observed the comical appearance
of his stretched-out neck, he understood what all the other NeoPets had been
"Hey, noodle-neck!" a taunt rang out from the other side of the lake and Chomby
looked up to see Meerca balancing on his tail and chuckling. "How can you stand
to stare at that ugly mug of yours for so long?!" As Meerca went into hysterics
over his own joke, Chomby ran away again, feeling tears of distress gathering
in his eyes. He couldn't go back to his den, couldn't face his tribe after cursing
them in this way. But he couldn't bare to stay out in the open, with everyone
laughing and pointing at him. He ran toward a place where he hoped he could
be alone--a mountain in the distance.
Finally Chomby reached the mountain and thankfully slowed his pace, realising
as he looked around that he did truly seem to be alone at last. But he couldn't
take the risk that someone would appear even here to mock him, so when he spotted
a small cave in the side of the mountain, he went towards it. As he entered
the cave, Chomby realised that it was actually deeper than he had at first thought.
Happy to get even further away from the other NeoPets, he crept slowly through
the darkness of the tunnel that led into the heart of the mountain.
Finally Chomby reached the end of the long tunnel, and he was surprised to
find that it opened up into a little cavern from which came a soft glow. Almost
expecting to meet the Faerie Queen again, Chomby continued into the cavern only
to find that he was not alone. Two other NeoPets, Cybunny and Poogle, huddled
dejectedly in the middle of the cave. They both looked up with as much shock
as Chomby himself was feeling as he walked into the light of the candle that
sat between them. "Chomby!" Poogle exclaimed. "What are you doing here? What
Chomby, relieved at least that they hadn't laughed at his appearance right
away like the other NeoPets had, sat down beside them and told them everything
that had happened to him that day, from his fateful wish to all the ridicule
of the other pets, and finally to his arrival here in search of some place that
he could escape their cruelty at his new appearance. "Why are you two here?"
he asked as his story concluded.
"I wished that my people would be able to hear better, in order to protect
ourselves," Cybunny spoke up, her voice quivering a little. "And the Faerie
Queen gave me these horrible, huge ears! They all laugh at me and my tribe too,
so I come here often to get away from their taunts."
"It's the same for me," Poogle said sadly. "I wished for my tribe to be able
to defend ourselves better. I thought the Faerie Queen would make us big and
strong and scary, but she just left us small and gave us these gigantic teeth
that look so silly! All the other NeoPets make fun and say our teeth are too
big for our heads." Chomby looked back and forth at Cybunny and Poogle. He had
never really noticed anything wrong with them before, but now that they pointed
their faults out to him, it was quite clear that they were in the same situation
that he was. They all sighed and hung their heads in hopelessness.
Finally, Chomby broke the silence. "If only we never had to go back and face
them all. If only we could just disappear forever, we'd never have to stand
being laughed at again." He looked up to see both Poogle and Cybunny looking
at him with awed expressions.
"That's it!" Poogle exclaimed. "We'll wish to disappear!"
"Then they won't be able to make fun of us any more!" Cybunny added. Chomby
nodded excitedly at the idea and called out for the Faerie Queen. She appeared
at the NeoPets' bidding as she always did.
"I know what you've called me here to ask me," she said, a strangely sad expression
covering her beautiful face. "Do you really want to disappear? Are you certain?"
"Yes!" all three chorused.
The Faerie Queen sighed, "Very well. I shall grant your wish. But I will not
allow you to make such an important wish on behalf of all of your people. You
must go to them and offer them the choice whether to follow you in this wish
So, the three NeoPets agreed. They waited until nightfall to leave the cave,
so that no one was likely to see them, and then they ventured back to the dens
of their respective tribes. They told their people about the wish they had made
and offered them the choice to make this same wish and disappear or to stay
behind and face the ridicule of the other NeoPets. Most chose to follow their
leaders. Only a few from each tribe decided that they would rather stay despite
the taunting that they would receive because of their appearance. They all went
to sleep in the safety of their dens that night, and when they woke the next
morning, Poogle, Cybunny, and Chomby, along with all who had agreed with their
wish, had simply disappeared, never to be seen again.
As for those that stayed behind, they endured the jokes and barbs, and bit
by bit the other NeoPets stopped making fun of them, until finally no one was
left who remembered what they had looked like before and did not see their current
appearance as simply normal. In fact, the descendants of those first Chombys,
Cybunnies, and Poogles who chose to stay rather than run away from their problems,
and whose numbers remain limited to this very day, are now quite respected and
admired among the other NeoPets, no matter what they look like.
As for those who disappeared, some say that they are still among us, but unable
to be seen or heard by any. Others say they were taken away to a faraway land
that no other NeoPet can ever reach. It matters not which theory you believe.
Either way, while their wish to disappear forever may have protected them from
being hurt by the other NeoPets, it would also forever shield them from finding
those who would not hurt them, from ever being able to discover true friendship...
As the story ended, Moeioe came trudging toward us from around the corner
at the end of the hall. His eyelids were drooping and it looked as though the
location of his secret hiding place would remain a mystery to us for another
day, but I decided to focus on small victories. Achilles was snoring on the
carpeted floor beside me, and as Moeioe sidled up and leaned against me tiredly
it looked as though I might actually be lucky enough to join him soon.
"That was a good story Maxi," Moeioe yawned, "But I wouldn't want to hide
from you guys forever."
"I'm glad, Moeioe." I smiled down at him as I led him upstairs toward his
bedroom. "I'm glad."
To be continued...