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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 28th day of Gathering, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 61 > Short Stories > A Dreadful Birthday

A Dreadful Birthday

by yasashiiyukiko

"Hmmmmm, welcome you are! Your fortune of today here is: You will have unusual luck at the Bank," said Island Mystic to Sandy the yellow Poogle and Neko, her teenage owner.

     Sandy excitedly wagged her tail and jumped up and down demanding, "Oh, what kind of unusual luck? Good? Bad? Oh please tell us!"

     Mister Island Mystic gestured his index finger no, and replied, "I'm vely sorry miss, but that's as far as I cun spill tu yooh," in his tropical accent.

     As Sandy and Neko waved good bye to the Island Mystic in Mystery Island, they awkwardly leaped back to the big island where the huge palm trees were. Mystery Island had always been Sandy's favourite place to hang out, and whenever she and Neko weren't busy, they would never forget to take a trip to their favourite location in Neopia where the weather is warm, everybody's friendly tropical accent, and everything else there is.

     Neko bent down with her palms on her knees so she was the same height as Sandy. Neko asked, "Already 6 o' clock, time for dinner!" She loudly smacked her hands together as she finished her words.

     The Poogle searched around the island in case she had forgotten to attend any activities. After she was assured that she had participated in all of them, she looked into Neko's eyes and unwillingly muttered, "I guess."

     As Neko straightened up herself and Sandy turning her body to the direction of the harbour, they saw a tanned creature in the shape of Sandy dashed across the grass. The tanned creature had two yellow rings tightened around nearly the edge of her ears, stripes of whiteness on her face and body, a brown necklace chaining a piece of stone on her neck, and tropical island dress wrapped around her stomach. That creature giggled loud and happily as a young little boy with blond hair chased after her.

     "Wait up pup, wait up!" he called as he panted, running after that speedy Poogle as speedy as any other ones.

     "Wow, she looks so pretty!" yelled Sandy, her eyes chasing after that tanned creature also, "I wonder what colour is she."

     Neko heard her pet's question and went up to the boy and asked, "Hey there, my Poogle and I were just wondering, is that tropical looking Poogle yours? What colour is she?"

     The boy stopped his feet and replied Neko, "She's my Island Poogle, painted Mystery Island just a second ago. And look, now she's so excited she's out of control... it was a Mystery Paint Brush that did the job, anyway." He leaned over to see where his Poogle was up to. "Oh yeah, it cost me 200,000 Neopoints."

     Neko giggled, "Thanks, have fun chasing!"

     Neko's giggles softened as she turned back and told Sandy what she heard from that tanned Poogle's owner. Sandy's eyes were completely lost, reflecting the tail of that Island coloured one. Neko waved her hand in Sandy's face and said, "Earth to Sandy, where are you?"

     Sandy blinked, and stared into Neko's eyes. For a few seconds, her attention turned down to the grass of the island. Wouldn't it be great if I were painted island also? she thought to herself. Her eyes peered into Neko's worried pupils and that idea blinked away. How can she demand such a pricing item when Neko doesn't even have enough Neopoints to buy food?

     "Let's go home, Neko, I'm a bit hungry," she muttered with her head hanging.

     The two gals headed their way to Neopia Avenue where their NeoHome was. On their way, nobody had made a squeak. Both of them had different ideas spinning up in their heads. Neko knew the 12th day of Running would be Sandy's one year old birthday, and she hadn't had anything ready to give yet and it was only 10 more days away. She bit her lip and pondered hard what should her present for Sandy be since they had after all, been with each other since the day Sandy was born. Her mind flashed back to the few past minutes when Sandy couldn't resist but stare at that Island Poogle and admire her tropical outfit. Though that outfit would be a perfect gift, the price of the Mystery Island Paint Brush was very daunting to a poor Neopian like Neko who barely had enough money to buy Sandy any food to eat. And yet, Sandy had never once complained about anything. Neko felt a heavy weight of guilty raising up her chest.

     She took a look at Sandy and mumbled, "I have to buy it for her."

     Before both of them noticed, they had already reached the door of their NeoHome. Neko reached into her pocket for her keys and ran them through the keyhole. The door squeaked open and a foul smell approached. The family couldn't afford a refrigerator, so therefore the storage of omelette pieces were replaced using plastic bags.

     Sandy headed to her little corner and started to open to the page where she had last written, and started to jot down what she had done that day.

     "While you write about your Mystery Island tour today, I'll fry some delicious omelettes, okay Sandy?" asked Neko, who wasn't sure was Sandy paying attention or not.

     "All right Neko, you take your time and I'll take mine," the Poogle replied happily. She picked up her half used Bendy Yellow Pencil and shot into her diary.

     After a moment, Neko placed a plate with a fried Carrot and Pea Omelette on top of the dinner table. Sandy sniffed the omelette and walked up to the dinner table. She noticed only a single omelette and Neko sitting in a chair, with no signs of any attempts to cook another one.

     "Neko, aren't you going to cook something for yourself?" she asked in curiosity.

     Neko breathed heavily and patted Sandy's head. "Nah, not tonight, I'm not hungry," she answered in a warm smile and her eyes in honesty.

     "Aww, then I'm not hungry either," Sandy said, pushing the plate away from her. "You gotta eat to keep healthy you--"

     "WHO'S COOKING ROTTEN OMELETTES AGAIN? THEY'RE STINKING THE NEIGHBOURHOOD!" a scratched voice from the old Usul next door demanded. Rotten omelette cooking bad been the only dish Neko and Sandy had been eating for the past few weeks. Ever since they were robbed, they did not manage to earn enough Neopoints no matter how hard they both tried.

     "Oh, our grouchy neighbour again," said Neko, tagging a rather false giggle.

     Sandy's heart really crushed, seeing her owner trying so hard to keep her happy even when it meant to have her own emotions being stomped on. Left with no other choices, Sandy began to slice the omelette in her dish and gobbling up that omelette left at home for a few days already. Neko had saved up a bunch of omelettes scattered everywhere so she can make sure Sandy doesn't get hungry. They two could've went to the Soup Kitchen, but both felt ashamed and embarrassed to pay daily visits for the past few months. After the family dinner, both of them tucked themselves in their straw bed that both of them shared.

***

The next morning, which was the 3rd day of Running, Sandy woke up in the morning. But something was strange--there weren't any signs of Neko anywhere. Sandy climbed out of her bed and called Neko's name out loud a few times and searched their NeoHome which consisted 3 rooms anyway; one was their bedroom; one was the kitchen; the last was the dining room. Sandy caught no signs of Neko, so she sat around their table to think about what to do next. She then noticed a note next to a fried Plain Omelette that read, "Be back soon, Sandy! If you get hungry, just pay a visit to the Soup Faerie!" Sandy looked at the Plain Omelette that had a hard surface and rotten smell that soured up to the tip of her ears. She walked away from the table and headed out the NeoHome, to the Money Tree.

     She had found her way to the busy tree. There were so many Neopets and people surrounding the tree, all waiting to take something nice to bring home. Sandy stood at a spot in the back of everybody else, though she did hope to grab some food with her mighty Poogle speed. She was also keeping an eye out for a Mystery Island Paint Brush, although the chances are extremely slim that somebody would donate that brush, Sandy dared to hope big.

     A wealthy blue Chia dumped a tomato in the tree, Sandy darted over to it, competing with a shadow Shoyru who also wanted it. The shadow Shoyru shot himself to the tomato in a speed of light, flushing Sandy 5 feet away from where she was.

     "Ouch!" Sandy screamed, still feeling the heat on her side that the Shoyru's speed rubbed on.

     The Shoyru took a loud bite out of the tomato so Sandy could hear his enjoyment of something she saw first. He victoriously and teasingly taunted, "Never compete with another Neopet whose speed is what? 100 times higher than you? Hahaha!" And he flew away, dumping the leftovers on Sandy's head, "Here, lucky I pity pitiful pets, ha!"

     Sandy hung her head in hopelessness, and headed towards the Soup Kitchen.

***

Few days went by, and Neko came back home very late each day. Her spinning keys in the keyhole could only be heard at around midnight, when everybody in the neighbourhood was asleep. She would peep into the room, checking if anybody was looking and then close the door behind, making sure nobody saw her. She would drag her package of codestones, faeries, petpets, and many other goodies in her bag in the room. Then she would count them and laugh out loud mischievously, yet tried to keep the volume down so nobody would notice. Sandy had a few times caught her sneakily carrying mysterious packages home everyday, and whenever she sees them, she asked, "Neko, what's up with you and those things that rich people own?"

     Neko would stutterer the same words, "Oh, those? Uh, I visit the Mon--ey Tree and um... I was just a fortunate fellow that managed to um, get all those. I'm gonna sell them for good, now get to bed this instant!"

     Sandy ducked her head in her neck and dejectedly walked herself into the straw bed and closed her eyes. Although Sandy was only almost a year old, she was intelligent enough to tell that Neko's explanation about those unknown items was a total fib. She thought hard about the possible reasons for those items' existence, she had never thought of anything that convinced her Neko was innocent. Her spinning mind had finally spun herself to sleep. Too tired to think for tonight, too tired.

     The next day, a series of violent knocking vibrated onto her bed. She lazily rubbed her eyes and carried her little body to the door.

     "Is anybody home?" a deep voice of a man asked.

     "In a minute," replied the Poogle, still in suspicion for nobody had visited her home ever since everybody knew her home had been full of rotten omelettes.

     Sandy cautiously opened the door slowly, her body tucked behind the door while she stuck her head out to see who was it. A huge shadow shined on her and had covered her yellow body completely.

     "Terribly sorry, but this NeoHome shall be frozen," he announced.

     "What?! Why?!" Sandy exclaimed, her paws shaking while the rest of her body did as well.

     That man in a white T-shirt that said 'Neopets' stood still. He looked around the dull NeoHome and muttered, "Nothing much to take, I'll just stop the electric and water supply..." He jotted down what he said in his thick and dirty notepad.

     "Just because we aren't rich, it doesn't mean you can bully us like this!" the yellow Poogle growled.

     The man lifted his left eyebrow and chuckled, "For your information, little fellow, your owner had been lately building NeoHomes, taking freebies, playing games, creating a huge amount of Neopets with different identities just to earn Neopoints! We, the Neopets staff understand that being poor is very frustrating, but there's really no need to create multiple identities since it's not fair to the *honest* Neopians here." He pinched his nose after his justification, he had scented the awful omelette smell scattered in every corner in this home.

     Sandy thought back at those nights when Neko carried packages of faeries and codestones, which were possibly the prizes she won from Tombola, and those petpets that were likely won from the Fruit Machine. Her mind was about to explode, her anger mixed with fear. She bit her lip to hold back the tears in her eyes threatening to pour out of her eyes. She gently dragged her body and wrapped it around the man's legs.

     Sandy held a piece of the man's jean and gently flapped it for his attention, "Can you please, give my owner Neko another chance and leave this home alone? Oh please?"

     The man growled and kicked that food that Sandy wrapped her body around and shot her across the empty room. Sandy's hit the wall in the direction where her body was tossed. The man gave her a cold look and began, "Congratulations, your NeoHome will be frozen and you shall stay here until--until you get unfrozen. Your owner would never be able to gain access to this place ever again until she's declared innocent, which is impossible."

     Those words had completely stung Sandy's heart. Though she was terribly distressed, she decided to crawl over to the man while the pitch of her whimper got higher by the second. The man ignored that desperate pet, as he had seen more than millions of them already. He turned himself out the door and slammed it as he went out. Suddenly, the lights in the home was sizzling, and in a second, they burned out. Sandy lied down where she had stopped crawling and closed her eyes, despite the drastic change she had gone through today, she decided to give herself a rest and wake up after the nightmare.

     Sandy woke up in the chill a few hours later. She had remembered about the incident that happened earlier that day, at the 8th day of Running. She studied every corner of her home, actualising that nothing was missing, the only change done was that there was only a teeny shade of light and that her surroundings were much colder. She shook in fright, despite the changes and the fact that Neko could no longer come back. Making sure nobody was around to see, Sandy's tears showered upon her cheeks. She was entirely crushed from reality. She had remembered her birthday and her greed to be coloured island few days ago. Perhaps this was the punishment a pet has to suffer for being greedy, she thought to herself.

     For the next three days of her life, she had tasted the almost most acidic part of her life. Her day starts with battling with mice for crumbs of omelettes that she had taken for granted for the past times with her and Neko. The frozen home prickled her bones, so then she would bury herself in the warmest corner in her straw home. She would pull in her feet with her paws and huff air on herself to keep warm. (The electric supply stopped, leaving her with no technology such as lights and heat.) She would go on a scavenger hunt within her home for leftover bits of food when she finds her stomach grumbling. And her days ended with her calling Neko's name with her sobs, until she tears herself to sleep.

***

Then one day, she found herself at the 12th day of Running, 1-year-old her birthday. She again started out with sniffing with her nose on the floor so she could capture anything to eat--anything. Her body was sore and exhausted, and tears dribbled down to the floor as her despise began to approach.

     "Sandy? Are you there?" a loud whisper from a spot of the frozen NeoHome proceeded.

     Recognising that familiar voice that belonged to her dearest owner, Sandy began to charge up and excitedly replied, "Neko? Where are you?"

     "I'm right here, the window," Neko muttered back.

     Sandy searched her eye around the room and saw a girl's finger pressed against the glass window whose solemn face had almost lost Sandy's recognition. She walked up to the window and propped her dirty paws against the windows to meet her paws with Neko's hands.

     Sandy exclaimed with her tired voice, "I missed you Neko, I'm so glad you're here to bring me with you to wherever you're planning to settle next!"

     Neko paused, then she melted her grave expression to a slight smile. She took a deep breathe and said, "Happy Birthday Sandy, you're going to be one year old now."

     "Thank you Neko, you're the best owner I can ever ask for," Sandy with enthusiasm. She looked around everything inside and outside the cold area and started, "Neko, there was a mean guys who came here several days ago. He said that you were creating multiple identities to--"

     "I know," Neko interrupted.

     Sandy lightly gasped. She continued with her watery eyes, "You do? What happened, were you really being greedy and using different identities just so you can earn Neopoints? Neko, what's wrong with our life here right now? You're happy, I'm--"

     "Shut up, if it wasn't because of you, I would not have ended up like today!" Neko snapped, pointing her finger at her chest.

     For the next two minutes, Neko thrashed everything to Sandy--from that time they were at Mystery Island to noticing Sandy admiring the Island Poogle--from their trip home to how she planned to have a surprise paint brush for Sandy--from her beginning to create identities to snatching everything she can in the least amount of time she had just to get that Mystery Island brush so Sandy can have a satisfying smile on her face.

     "I cared for you, and I didn't know things like this would become the result," Neko said, her voice dropping.

     Tears from Sandy's eyes slipped as fast as waterfalls, she huffed in sorrow, "How can I do this to you Neko? Shameful me to claim an owner like you..."

     There was something pulling Neko's shirt. Sandy wasn't able to see what was down there that was trying to scramble between their conversation. She bent her head to see what was going on.

     Neko hesitantly said, "Oh, Sandy, I forgot to introduce you to Crisbiee." She bent down and when she stood straight again, she had a striped Cybunny with a snobby smirk across her face with spits of whiskers, in Neko's arm. Neko had wrapped her arms around Crisbiee's stomach, letting Crisbiee's arms go loose. Neko adjusted her head to an angle where Sandy's face can be seen. Sandy had a terrible feeling about this bratty looking bunny.

     "Crisbiee was a striped Cybunny that I had found in the pound two days ago. A ruthless owner had abandoned her, and I happened to be quick enough to rescue her. And now, we're getting along very well. Her former owner had equipped her with high priced weapons, so I sold them to make a living for both of us. Now we're very wealthy and living a happy life with each other," said Neko, with a teeny percentage of guilt in her eyes. "Sandy, we both need to move on our lives with each other--I mean, without each other."

     As soon as Neko finished, Crisbiee tossed a victorious grin to Sandy who froze in spite of the words that came of her owner, almost her mother's mouth.

     "Neko, can we go back to our NeoHome in Faerieland? I'm a bit cold out there, in Sandy's frozen place," asked Crisbiee, with massive intention.

     Sandy bit her lip and hoped Neko would notice it and dislike that Cybunny a bit. But instead, Neko straightened Crisbiee's fur on her ear and said, "Sure, dearie." Afterwards, she held Crisbiee by the back of her head and brought their heads together, against each other. Then Neko turned around, stilling playing with that new pet of hers in which she had only own for less than a week.

     Right after their shadows that escaped, Sandy was brought back to life. Her eyes were dry but there was an immense scream screaming inside of her. Incidentally, the rain began violently pouring down without any signs before. The rain was so fierce that it almost reflected how terrible Sandy's emotions were.

     Dejectedly, Sandy walked her tired body that had been through a whole year of omelettes, and the worse crumbs on the floor, the frozen home for three days without any physical and emotional warmth. She leisurely walked to a spot in the middle of the room of hers. She lied down, rested her head on her paws, and tucked her feet in. She closed her eyes while two heavy tears escaped her eyes, and said, "Goodbye Neko--and happy birthday, me."

The End

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