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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 25th day of Relaxing, Yr 21
The Neopian Times Week 30 > Short Stories > Jhudora's Cloud

Jhudora's Cloud

by bubblegum166

"Hey, wait up!" I called after Jhudora's retreating back. She whipped around.

"Silence!" she snapped. I cringed, wondering if this was really such a good idea.

I was on Jhudora's cloud, alone. My owner, Rebbit, was at work selling Usukis. She thought I was buying Neodrops at the Chocolate Factory, but my friend Jared_211 had dared me to take on a quest from Jhudora. I had accepted. How hard could one quest be, after all? I thought.

My soft, padded Acara's feet shuffled down the stone tunnel behind her cloud that Jhudora was leading me down. I had never taken on a quest from Jhudora before, Rebbit being too chicken, so I had no way of knowing whether being led down this tunnel was a normal procedure.

Jhudora turned a into a corridor on my left, but I didn't notice and shuffled right on by. A rat ran in front of my paw, and I shuddered and shrank back.

Jhudora reappeared, and whisked me into the corridor I had missed. We walked in silence for about two minutes, and then Jhudora stopped in front of a damp wooden door.

I stopped too, and shifted from paw to paw uneasily while she unlocked the door with a rusty old key. Jhudora made me nervous, but I didn't quite know why. She thrust me inside the room behind the door, and I gasped in surprise. It was a factory!

There were poisonous lollipop molds, giant machines making grinding noises and some huge mixers, big enough for ten Grarrls to sit in comfortably at once. I looked at the 100 odd workers, and noted that they were all roughly my own age. I was looking at the shackles that they were bound to the machines with when I heard a key grate in the lock.

Jhudora was outside the door, looking through a metal grille near the top. She cackled, then said, "I'll be back later..." and she held up a pair of shackles.

I stared, panic beginning to set in. That was when I remembered that morning's headline in The Neopian Times :

"MISSING NEOPET TOLL REACHES 100 TODAY!"

***

Jared_211 was sitting on a bench in front of the fountain outside the Neolodge. He was swinging his furry Lupe's paws that didn't quite reach the ground up and down. Up and down. He sighed.

"I wish Sammy wasn't taking so long to get back. She's been with Jhudora for hours, and she still hasn't returned," he complained.

A News Chia holding a bundle of Neopian Times came into view, calling out:

"New lead on missing NeoPet case! Jhudora's Cloud to be searched today!"

Jared listened intently, then sank back onto the bench again. The missing pet case had nothing to do with him.

Then something clicked. Jhudora's Cloud?

"Sammy!" he cried, and loped off to catch the next Neopian Air Transit flight to Faerieland.

Meanwhile, Rebbit watched as the last happy Aisha left the store, clutching a Schoolgirl Usuki in it's crisp pink box under her arm. Rebbit put away her uniform and left the shop.

The sun was setting, and the crickets were just beginning to chirp. Rebbit set out on the road towards her house on Woodland Drive, where just Sammy and herself lived.

She assumed that Sammy would already have been home for a couple of hours, and she thought about maybe arriving home to the smell of sauce simmering gently on the stove, and Sammy saying " Hi, mom! Did you have a good day?"

Just as she was nearing the house, she saw the same News Chia that had been outside the Neolodge earlier cut across her lawn.

"Extra, extra," he called when he saw her approaching. "New lead on Missing Pet case!"

Rebbit nodded absent-mindedly, and the Chia walked away, looking disappointed.

Rebbit glanced up at the darkened windows of the house.

Strange, she thought, confused.

She unlocked the door and stepped into the dark, cold entrance hall. The heat wasn't on, and neither were the lights. There was no simmering sauce on the stove. There was no Sammy, for that matter.

"Sammy!" She called out. No answer. "I'm home, Sammy! Where are you?" she cried. Still no answer.

Rebbit began to get worried. She tried one more time.

"Sam-my!"

She sucked in her breath sharply. Missing Pets?

She ran back outside.

"Excuse me, sir!" she hollered after the News Chia.

He turned.

"Just what exactly did you say about missing pets?" she inquired urgently.

"There's a new lead! The Neopian Police are conducting a search of Jhudora's cloud in about... oh..." he checked his watch, "fifteen minutes! Would you like to buy a copy of the paper, miss?"

"Yes, please."

He handed over a copy, and Rebbit paid him ten NP.

Rebbit scanned the article, and hurried to catch the next Neopian Air Transit flight to Faerieland. It was a slim chance, but Rebbit thought that Sammy just might be on Jhudora's Cloud.

Meanwhile, at Jhudora's Cloud, the police search commences.

"Right this way, officers!" Jhudora said in her most oily tones. A discreet point of her finger concealed the entrance to the tunnel from view.

The officers exchanged glances, wondering whether to trust this faerie and follow where she lead or not. They were big, burly Lupes, named Gribaldi and Conifer. At an unspoken signal from Conifer, Gribaldi said :

"Okay, we're coming."

Jhudora smiled, though it looked a little strained. She led the officers towards the first of the three visible doors leading off her cloud.

Suddenly Jared_211 bounded up the steps onto the cloud.

"My friend's gone missing!" he cried. "Have you found her up here?" One glance at the officers and Jhudora assured him they had not. "Can I look around for her, then?" he asked.

"Now, just a minute, sonny..." began Conifer, but Gribaldi interrupted.

"It won't do any harm. Let him look with us," he said. Conifer nodded his consent. Jhudora shrugged and opened the first door.

It was a store room, full of the dark items that she gave away as prizes to quest takers. The officers and Jared were very thorough, but they found hide nor hair of any missing pets.

The second and third doors led into more store rooms, full of the items the quest takers bought for Jhudora.

The officers searched for two full hours, but found nothing.

Discouraged, they left. Jared lingered for a moment, however, unable to believe that Sammy was still missing, and that she was not on Jhudora's Cloud.

"Well? Aren't you going to leave now?" asked Jhudora.

Jared turned and walked slowly down the steps, deep in thought. Maybe Sammy still is up here somewhere. What if I hide and watch Jhudora for a while? It wouldn't do any harm! And maybe Jhudora will bring Sammy out into the open or something, and I can rescue her! he thought. He lay down flat on one of the cloud steps leading to Jhudora's Cloud, and poked his head up so that he could see right onto Jhudora's Cloud.

Sure that Jared was gone, Jhudora cackled and snapped her fingers. The tunnel reappeared, and, seizing a pair of shackles from underneath her desk, marched off down the tunnel, her feet slapping on the wet stone floor.

Jared rose from where he had been hiding, a grin on his face. Now he knew where Sammy was, and Jhudora hadn't hid the tunnel!

Jared raced down the cloud stairs, intent on finding Rebbit or one of the officers before Jhudora hid the tunnel from view again. He knew by now that something suspicious was going on, and there was a big chance that Sammy and the missing pets might just be it. He was also worried about the shackles. What if Jhudora was going to chain Sammy up somewhere? It was a disturbing thought.

His paws hit the last step, and his momentum carried him right smack into the uniformed back of Officer Gribaldi.

"Uh... sorry, sir," he stammered. Gribaldi seemed inclined to reply, but Jared didn't let him, knowing that time was of the essence.

"Jhudora..."

He caught sight of Rebbit standing just behind Officer Gribaldi.

"Rebbit!" he cried, "Sammy's up there, I know it! See, umm..." he twisted and squirmed before blurting out "I dared her to go and take on a quest, see... "

Rebbit raised an eyebrow, but decided to pursue it later.

"Anyway," he continued, "Jhudora has this secret tunnel that she didn't let you guys see, and she was going down it with a pair of shackles in her hands last time I saw her! She's not trustworthy! She's dangerous!" he said.

"Exactly what I was trying to explain, officer. I have a feeling that Sammy's up there. We simply HAVE to go and look again for Sammy and all those other poor pets!" she exclaimed.

"But ma'am, it could be dangerous up there, if what young... er," faltered Officer Gribaldi.

"Jared," said Jared.

" Young Jared says is true!"

"Think of the pets!" pleaded Rebbit.

"Well, it's all highly irregular, but it sounds suspicious and I suppose I must go and check it out," proclaimed Officer Gribaldi.

***

"There it is!" cried Jared, bounding up the cloud steps.

Jhudora was nowhere in sight and the tunnel was still in plain view when they got to her cloud.

The trio rushed to the tunnel and dashed inside, Officer Gribaldi in the lead.

They separated at the corridor that Sammy had missed. Officer Gribaldi forged straight ahead, while Jared and Rebbit took the corridor.

When Jared and Rebbit reached the damp wooden door, they looked first at the metal grille in the top, then at themselves. They could hear the grinding of machines from where they stood.

"I'll have a look," whispered Rebbit.

She stood on tiptoe and peered through the grille. She caught sight of the workers chained to the machines, and said out loud:

"I knew..." Jared clamped his paw over Rebbit's mouth, pointing out the obvious.

"Jhudora's only a couple feet away from the door! keep it down!" he hissed, gesturing at Jhudora's back. She was shackling a frightened looking Sammy to a machine that made poisonous lollipops.

Rebbit gasped when she saw this. Then she started to grind her fist into the palm of her hand.

"I'm going to get that..." she paused mid-hiss, unable to find words to describe Jhudora.

Jhudora heard Rebbit's hiss and turned around.

Jared and Rebbit ducked down just in the nick of time, and Jhudora turned suspiciously back to Sammy, who bit her hand.

"Ooowwwwww!" shrieked Jhudora.

"Way to go, Sammy!" whispered Rebbit, who had popped right back up to the grille when Jhudora once Jhudora had turned away.

"Come on! We've got to go find Officer Gribaldi before Jhudora locks this door and hides it, along with this whole tunnel so that Gribaldi can catch Jhudora in the act and arrest her!" muttered Jared.

They slunk out of the corridor, and found Officer Gribaldi just outside of it.

"We've found Sammy!" said Jared.

"And Jhudora!" said Rebbit.

"And about a hundred other pets!" added Jared.

"Where?" inquired Officer Gribaldi, nervously pulling out his gun.

"Over here, sir, hurry!" replied Rebbit, already racing down the corridor.

Once the trio were about two metres from the damp wooden door, Officer Gribaldi crept forward and peeked through the grille, motioning for Rebbit and Jared to fall into step behind him. Then he backed up and whispered:

"We've got to have the element of surprise on our..." Officer Gribaldi was cut short by the door opening and being slammed shut again.

Clapping eyes on the trio, Jhudora looked surprised, then nervous. She regained her senses fairly quickly, however, and made a dash past the trio standing gaping on the side of the tunnel.

"Uh... You there, stop, in the name of the law!" ordered Officer Gribaldi.

"Make me!" shot Jhudora, over her shoulder, rapidly disappearing.

Officer Gribaldi stood there, unsure of what his next move should be.

"Oh, this will never do!" cried Jared, and pelted up the tunnel. He tackled Jhudora from behind!

She went crashing down to the floor, and Jared seized the key to all the shackles from her fist, and tied her fingers together with a small piece of string he had tucked in his shoes, so that she could not snap her fingers and work any magic.

He tossed the key to Rebbit, who caught it and ran down the tunnel, and through the unlocked wooden door into the factory.

Officer Gribaldi had not wasted his time. He was by now standing over Jhudora, pointing his gun at a spot right between her eyes.

"Jhudora, you are under arrest," he intoned, "for petnapping numerous NeoPets, and doing heaven knows what else."

Jhudora glared, unable to use any of her magical powers as Officer Gribaldi called for reinforcements from his portable Nigel the Chia brand cell phone.

"I'm fine here. Jhudora can't do anything to me. You run along and see Sammy, Jared," said Officer Gribaldi.

Jared was gone in a flash.

Rebbit had unshackled most of the pets, including Sammy, and when I bounded in Sammy inquired: "So, does this count as my dare?"

I laughed. "Definitely!"

The End


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