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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 22nd day of Eating, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 33 > Short Stories > Al

Al

by al_the_chia

A Cold Winter Night in Lupe Forest…

Thornpaw stomped through the freezing cold snow, shivering as he wrapped his red scarf tighter around his face. The wind howled and moaned as he pushed forward against the elements, leaving a trail of paw-prints behind. In the territories he passed, the Lupes were trying desperately to survive the freezing cold. Stenchpaw didn't seem to notice the cold (as much as he didn't notice his own horrible smell.) The Dippaws were huddled together in their cave, snoozing by a large fire. Hollypaw had thrown on an extra coat, Peacepaw was writing a winter sonnet, and Warpaw was exercising, dreaming of battles against the Snowager. Things were as normal as they could be… except for one new Lupe who came in that cold, winter day…

Two flame-licked paws skipped on the ground. The snow melted wherever he stepped, revealing the dead grass and frozen ground. His paws swung at his sides, swatting at the snowflakes and melting them like butter on a frying pan. He hummed a hot, Mystery Island tune, barely noticing the freezing weather as he carried his suitcase into Lupe forest.

"Ah, the snow is lovely," he observed, his tail swishing back and forth, scorching the branches of the trees nearby. "I've never seen it before." He set down the suitcase and reached into his pocket, pulling out a set of keys. "Let's see..." The flaming-hot Lupe took in a deep breath, and exhaled, smoke coming from his mouth. "Where did that house go off to?"

The snow was so severe that it was hard to see your paw in front of your face. The Lupe smiled as he finally made out a doorway in the thick snow.

"Ah, there it is!" He walked down the snow-covered path, humming as he unlocked the door and threw it open. A nice, pine smell filled his nose as he sighed in remembrance. "Ah, Grandpaw's cabin. I haven't been here in years."

With another deep sigh, he sat down on a dusty old chair. "If he hadn't left it for me in his will, I probably would have never seen it again." He looked out the window at the neighbouring den, where Hollypaw was shoveling the walk and muttering complaints about the weather. "But Grandpaw said he never liked the neighbours. They were always so nosy and mean, and he never did anything to them. They always tried to invade his privacy, saying they were bringing him cookies when they really wanted to get at his million NP fortune." Hotpaw nodded up to the ceiling. "Grandpaw, wherever you are, I promise I will NOT let them into your house! EVER!"

The Next Morning...

Al the Chia, a Lupologist (pet who studies Lupes), shimmied up a tree nearby old Grandpaw's cabin. His glasses were slipping off his face and his long blue scarf kept trying to blow away with the wind, and he had to constantly push them back up before he could continue. Fluffy, his Cobrall, had attached himself to Al's leg, and was calmly carrying spying gear in his mouth for Al's use later. Al finally made it to a stable branch, and with a sigh, collapsed onto it.

"Whew!" Fluffy hopped off his leg and spread out the spy gear: Binoculars, camouflage potion, and a lovely lunch with enough tea for two. Al put the binoculars to his face and gazed into the house. "Hm... it appears that the old Grandpaw place has finally been inhabited once more. That's a surprise. It was supposed to be haunted, or had some kind of treasure in it or something. I can't quite see who or what it is in there, but it seems like they have a warm fire going."

Suddenly, there was some rustling on the ground nearby. Al whirled around, nearly falling off the tree, to see what was going on. "AH! It's the Lupe Forest Welcoming Committee!"

Peacepaw, Stenchpaw, and Thornpaw, along with a few other Lupes, stepped up to the door. Stenchpaw was carrying a huge fruit basket, Peacepaw several coupons, and Thornpaw a delicious looking jar of jelly.

Thornpaw knocked on the door, sighing. "How many Lupes move into this forest every year?"

Stenchpaw struggled to balance the fruit, nearly dropping a banana. "I do not know; I just moved here."

The door flew open to reveal a fire Lupe, clad in a pair of sunglasses and holding a cup of coffee.

"Hello!" Thornpaw nodded politely, and cleared his throat as he began to read off a card. "We're from the neighbourhood welcoming committee, and we'd like to..."

The door slammed shut into Thornpaw's face. Stenchpaw slipped on the icy ground and fell over, scattering the fruit into the snow. "AHH!" he yelped.

Thornpaw frowned. "Well, that wasn't very nice..."

"Maybe he just wants to be, like, left alone. After all, he just, like, moved here." Peacepaw suggested.

Thornpaw snorted, "How rude and inconsiderate when we brought him all this good food! It makes me feel like marching into that house and... and..."

Suddenly, Thornpaw's nose began to tingle. "Ahh... AHHH... AHHCHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!"

The entire gathering of Lupes flew into the air, yelping. Al was blown out of the tree along with Fluffy, screeching as they got a free flight to the ground. They landed with a thud into a bush. Al recuperated and popped out with a grin, furiously scribbling into his notebook. "Hmm... antisocial Lupe. Thornpaw is hostile. This is great stuff!!"

Thornpaw blinked. "Wha?" He rubbed his nose, trying to shake his sneeze off. "Hmmm…" Tightening his scarf to make sure that he would not sneeze again, he knocked on the door once more. It flew open.

"You again?" the Lupe sighed. "What do you want?"

Thornpaw thrust the jar into his hands. "Here!! Have some jelly!! I spent an hour or so making it! Just like everyone else spent time on the fruit basket!!"

The Lupe gave the jelly back, glaring at Thornpaw. "Thanks anyway. Bye!" He slammed the door again, leaving Thornpaw to fume on the steps.

"FOR THE LOVE OF FYORA!! Could you at least tell me who you are?!?!"

"HOTPAW!" a voice yelled from within the cabin.

Thornpaw turned around and headed back home, sneezing all the way...

At the Acara Burger…

"AHHHH CHOOOOO! AAAAAACHOOOOOO!!! YAAAAAAAAPHOOOOO!!! ACCCCHOOOO! ACHOOOOOOOO!!! YAAAAAAA HAA HAA HAAAAAAACHOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

The entire building shook as Thornpaw sneezed furiously, trying to eat his Double Deluxe Acara Burger without blowing it out of his hands. Al sat at the other side of the table, wearing a seat belt to hold himself down. Fluffy, however, was less fortunate, and was bouncing around the room like some kind of weird toy.

"Uh... Thornpaw..."

"What... ACHOOOOOOOOO... is it... YACHOOO... Al? YAAAAAPCHOOOO!"

"Is something bothering you ?"

"What? Of course not, Al. ACHOOO!!! Sniff... sniff."

"Is it the new Lupe? Hotpaw?"

"Why would I be... ACHHOOOOO... sneezing about a new Lupe?"

"Well, you did seem pretty mad."

"MAD?!?!?" Thornpaw sneezed so hard the table tipped over onto its side. The burger flew from his paws and landed neatly onto Whatever the Acara's head. Whatever sighed, picking the dripping burger off his face and throwing it in the trash nearby. "That jerk slammed the door on me twice!! He didn't even thank me for the food!! I swear, there's something funny about someone who doesn't appreciate Asparagus Jelly. He's just as mean as his old Grandpaw! I heard that the old bat never let anyone into his house, just because he was so selfish and rude!"

Al sighed, wiping off his fogged-up glasses. "Listen here, Thornpaw, I'll go over to his house and see what I can find out. When I come back, I'll tell you everything I heard. Got it?"

"Sure thing... AAAAAACHOOOOOOO... Al, thank you."

Hotpaw's House…

Al scuttled onto the roof of the ancient cabin, Fluffy following behind. He finally made it to the top of the roof, where he sat down, gasping. Fluffy slithered next to him, hissing. Al carefully tied a camera onto Fluffy's head. "All right Fluffy, remember the plan. I'll lower you down the chimney on a rope. You hide somewhere safe and find out what Hotpaw is doing. When you get enough info, tug on the rope three times and I'll pull you up." Fluffy hissed in response, nodding his head and shaking ice off his hood. "Good." Al tied a harness around his Cobrall, and watched as he leapt down the chimney. Fluffy slid down along the sooty walls, bumping around like a pinball, and crashed into the fireplace with a screech, sending a cloud of dust flying into Al's face. "Piffle," Al spluttered, jumping back and rubbing his glasses off furiously. Then, he sat down on the roof. And waited. And waited some more. It was silent down in the old cabin, except for the sound of the howling wind. Suddenly, Al heard a yell, followed by a screech.

"What the…???"

WOOOSH!! A burst of flame shot up from the chimney. "YEAAAH!!" Al fell backwards, nearly dropping the rope supporting Fluffy. There was a brief silence as Al struggled back onto his feet. Suddenly, there was a tug on the rope. Al smiled. "Fluffy's got it!!" He began pulling up the rope, humming happily. "Great job Fluffy! I was really worried, with that blast of fire and all, but I knew you could... pull... through…" Al stopped pulling abruptly. Hotpaw was at the bottom of the rope, holding a flame-broiled Cobrall with a melted camera on its head. He also had a very angry expression on his flame-decorated face. Al twitched as he climbed onto the roof, snarling.

"So, Thornpaw sent you here to spy on me, eh?"

"No, wait..."

Hotpaw's eyes were practically glowing with rage. "Well, I have a little message for my good neighbours then."

"No... let me explain… AIIIEEEEEEEEEEE!!!"

Thornpaw's den…

Ding dong! Thornpaw threw open his door. "Yes?"

Al stood at his stoop, charred and burned. He smiled, dazed and confused, his usually spotless coat covered with ash and burned to a crisp.

"Hello, I represent the Chia Scouts of Furgleton. Would you like to buy a box of cookies?" With that said, Al fell over... right onto a charred Fluffy. Thornpaw had had enough.

Hotpaw's Cabin…

"Hotpaw!! I know your in there!" Thornpaw banged on the door. "Come on out here!! Hurry up!!"

The door flew open to reveal a very upset Hotpaw. "What are you banging on my door for?"

"I've come to settle this once and for all! You're supposed to be good to your neighbours!"

"You were never a good neighbour to my Grandpaw!" Hotpaw snapped back. "Why should I be nice to you? Oh, and by the way… I HATE ASPARAGUS JELLY!!"

Thornpaw whipped out a paw, growling. "THAT'S IT! Prepare to battle!"

"You're on!"

And with that, a huge thumb war began. Sweat poured down Thornpaw's face as he twiddled his thumb, carefully avoiding the burning hot thumb on Hotpaw's hot paw. Hotpaw grinned. "Things sure are HEATING UP, aren't they?" Suddenly, his paw became searing hot.

Thornpaw yelped like he had just touched a hot stove. "YEEOOW!"

Hotpaw seized his chance, slamming Thornpaw's singed thumb onto his paw.

"HAHA!! I've got you now! One... two..." Suddenly, a bead of sweat fell into Thornpaw's nose. "...three, four..." Thornpaw's nose began to wriggle as his eyes widened. "...five, six..." He sniffled furiously, but to no avail. "...seven, eight, ni--"

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH...."

There was an ear-shattering explosion. Birds flew from the trees. Every Lupe in Lupe forest paused at the sound, then were blown over by a shockwave of icy wind. There was an earthquake in Tyrannia. A volcano erupted near Mystery Island. The Maraquan Whirlpool began whirling in the other direction. The Space Station began to spin around like it was an out of control top. The whole universe was turned upside down and back again as Thornpaw recovered from his latest sneeze. He blew his nose on his tail, gasping.

"Sorry about that," he said, sniffling.

"No problem, no problem at all," Hotpaw replied. His flames had been snuffed out by the sneeze, and he looked and sounded very pathetic without them. "Thornpaw, I'm sorry. I turned into my grandpaw for a second there. Could you ever forgive me?"

"Sure, I understand."

Hotpaw suddenly began to shiver. "Say, is it cold out here or is it me?"

Thornpaw shook his head. "Come on, maybe we can find a match somewhere."

They walked into the cabin like two old friends, chatting pleasantly as the snow began to fall, decorating the already beautiful Lupe Forest with cascades of white…

And so, a new Lupe joined the Lupe Forest family, and learned to love his neighbours. Hotpaw got his flames back with the help of several matches, and has been Thornpaw's best buddy since. Thornpaw is seriously considering getting his nose checked. Al and Fluffy are in the Neohospital's burn ward. They're recovering nicely, but Al has put off studying fire Lupes for a while....

The End

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