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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 15th day of Sleeping, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 71 > New Series > Celebration Memories: Part One

Celebration Memories: Part One

by scriptfox

Hi. My name is blchocobo. Things have been winding down lately into the gray of winter. The other day I was doing the dishes and staring out into the back yard. MonoKeras had finally cleaned up the last of his mess out there and had stashed anything useful in the basement. (Actually, we didn't have a basement until he put stuff there, but that's another story.)

     I didn't realise how loud I'd sighed until Kallisari spoke up behind me. "Why so sad, blchocobo? This is a time of celebrating!"

     "That's what they say. But look at it! Cold, gray, dreary. The trees and everything are dead and brown and then everything gets sopping wet with rain."

     "Aw, we have some sunny days too."

     "Huh. Not for long. Come four thirty and it's dark again. And the sun never gets too high in the sky--you'd think it's four in the afternoon most of the day. Big help that is."

     "Well, but... still! There's lots of nice things to do. I mean, shopping for presents is always fun. How's yours coming?"

     "I... okay, I guess."

     "Well see? There you are then!"

     I kept quiet and let her think she'd proved her point. I didn't dare tell her that she'd just hit what was maybe the darkest spot in my foul mood. Presents cost money, and of four pets in the household, I was the one that had the most trouble with that. MonoKeras had his detective agency to produce income, and since he and Kallisari were married, they sort of pooled their finances, so she didn't have to worry either. Heilley always had gobs of Neopoints that she got from playing Cheat! at Spectre's casino. I, on the other paw, stayed home and did a lot of the housework- and you don't get paid for that.

     The wind whined out back, and a loud creaking sound came from above our heads. Kallisari looked upwards nervously. "When are we going to get that hole fixed? I keep hearing those awful moans from the house. It sounds like it's about to collapse."

     "It might be," our owner replied.

     I looked over my shoulder briefly as he came into the dining room. "That doesn't sound good."

     "You're right," he agreed. "It doesn't. I'd been hoping that MonoKeras would come up with ideas about fixing things, since it was his lab that was turned into a huge gaping hole. But he's busy laying plans for another, and doesn't seem at all interested that the place is about to come apart at the seams."

     "I'm sorry," Kallisari said contritely. "He gets that way sometimes."

     "Oh, no need for you to apologise. I'm probably the one that should be doing something about it anyway. And you're right about the sounds. I think I'll go get a crew in here as soon as possible."

     It was a good thing I'd gotten the dishes caught up that morning. The kitchen was filled with workmen and our owner the rest of the day, talking about how to fix the huge spot on the floor above that used to be MonoKeras' lab. It wasn't until the next morning that I was able to get something decent cooked again and get things cleaned up.

     MonoKeras leaned back in his breakfast chair and burped. "Now that's what I call a good breakfast. How do you manage these things, Kallie?"

     Kallisari gave him her wide-eyed innocent look. "With lots of help! Blchocobo does most of it, and I get to add the seasonings and stuff."

     "My compliments to the chef," MonoKeras said as he winked at me.

     "Indeed," our owner agreed. "But I think we need to get the chef and all the rest of you out of the house today. Those builders are going to be here all day today just starting on rebuilding the place. How does a trip to Terror Mountain sound?"

     "Yick!" MonoKeras gave a shiver. "Been there, done that, got the frozen nostrils to prove it."

     "For once, big brother, you're right." Heilley chimed in. "It's torture trying to get ice crystals out of your 'do."

     "It is?" Kallisari looked surprised. "I'd think they'd just melt out when you got inside."

     "Yeah, then leave you soaking wet, chilled to the bone, and with a totally blitzed hairdo. No thanks!"

     "I hadn't thought of that. I always worry more about my tail flukes freezing."

     Our owner laughed. "Okay, okay, I get the idea! We'll visit the Lost Desert today. Better?"

     "Yeah!"

     "Woohoo!"

     "That sounds neat!"

     "Fine with me."

     We stayed just long enough to make sure our construction crew arrived, then caught the neotube headed south. I bounced happily off the train, glad to feel the warm sun. It wasn't as hot as it got in the summertime, but it was still a lot more and a lot higher than I'd felt in way too long.

     Although we started out together, it didn't take long for us to go our own separate ways. Heilley never made it past the Sakhmet Solitaire tent - one look at a deck of cards and she was hooked. MonoKeras wound up browsing through the scrolls at Sutek's, and Kallisari was totally entranced with Peopatra's petpets. I wound up wandering around, simply enjoying the warm sun and the busy crowd of pets. It was nice not to feel so out of place. Being one of the few Desert painted pets is fine for being unique, but it gets lonely after a while.

     I was passing by the food stall when I saw the Shoyru. He was sitting glumly on a box of food, staring down at a broken crate of ummagines.

     "Something wrong?"

     He glanced at me. "Yeah. I broke another crate. A whole day's profit, scattered on the ground."

     "That's too bad."

     "Say, do you come from up north?"

     "Yeah, I guess you could say that, why?"

     He got a wistful look in his eyes. "Ever see snow?"

     I couldn't help but laugh a little. "Yes, of course."

     "I wish I could. All my life, and I just hear stories about it. Now I'm losing money because I'm so busy wishing for snow I'm not seeing where I'm going. Say, you wouldn't want to buy a ummagine, would you? Cheap?"

     "Er... I'm afraid not."

     He drooped again. "I thought not. No one wants one after it's been rolled in the sand."

     "Well... don't worry, I'm sure something will turn up."

     "Yeah. Sure."

     I walked off, trying not to feel guilty. I knew I didn't have any reason to, but I hated not helping him out. The fact that I didn't have any money to buy anything with just made me feel worse, not better. How was I supposed to get anything for Celebration Day if I couldn't even buy a piece of fruit, for pities' sake.

     We headed back home that evening, Kallisari still sighing about the cute little Wadjets and other critters. MonoKeras had his nose buried in a scroll, ferreting out some sort of obscure magical formula, or piece of history, I wasn't sure which. Heilley was grumbling about her bad luck at Sakhmet Solitaire.

     We came home to find the kitchen looking a lot different. The back wall, next to the hallway, had been torn open, and extra reinforcing beams were partly installed. All sorts of boards and tools littered the place, and I knew that I was out of the cooking business for another spell while things got fixed again.

     If there's anything worse than having troubles gnawing at you, it's having the ability to do anything productive taken away from you at the same time. All you can do then is sit and brood, and I was not looking forward to doing just that the next day.

     The next morning, I'd just gotten into a good deep sulk, convinced the world was against me, when our owner made his little announcement.

     "Blchocobo, you and I are taking a trip to Terror Mountain this morning."

     "Huh? Why me?"

     "Well, let's see. If I remember right, you're the only one that didn't immediately object to it yesterday. And you're also the only one around here that doesn't have somewhere else to be today, and nothing to do."

     What could I say? "Okay."

     We stepped off the ferry, and Terror Mountain was every bit as cold as I'd remembered it. Even colder! I trudged after my owner as we plowed through the snow, morbidly wondering if freezing my tail off would be enough to distract me from my other worries. He stopped before a building I'd never noticed before, and then led me inside. I looked around, wondering what the big deal was. The room was full of pets and their owners - any more, and it would've been so tight that no one could have moved. I just held onto my owner's hand as we moved towards a back wall.

     It was when I saw light coming from the wall that I realised something special was going on. We drew closer and my jaw dropped. There was a huge diorama spread out before us. The wall itself had a picture frame surrounding the huge opening. Pets and their owners were stepping up into the diorama one by one... and disappearing!

     I couldn't contain my questions. I tugged at my owner's hand and hissed up at him, "how do they do that?"

     "Holograms," he muttered back. "Hold on, our turn is coming up soon."

Holograms? Apparently it meant something to him. Me, I just waited and found out by experience what it was - and it was certainly something!

     "Right, come on, over you go!"

     I followed my owner over the frame and into the barnyard scene before us. As we stepped further into the image, I practically fell over myself trying to dodge a whinny... but my owner pulled me right on through! Before I could figure out what was going on, I collided "nose first" with the nodding Ixi at the back, and wound up lost in a fog. I started to yell for help, and then I felt something drop over my neck.

     I was almost ready to panic as we re-emerged back into the snow of Terror Mountain. I looked up frantically to find that my paw really was still being firmly held by my owner. "What was that?" I gasped.

     My owner grinned down at me. "Look in your paw there."

     "Huh?" I looked. "Hey! Neopoints?"

     "That's right. We can get a few hundred Neopoints a day here - plus neat prizes."

     "Prizes?" I started to ask him what he meant by that, but I stopped myself in time. A bag was hanging around my neck, and I opened it up to find what he meant. "Ohhhh! Candy!"

     "Yeah, and it's not limited to that. They call this place the Advent Calendar, and you get to come here once a day every day during the month of Celebrating."

     "Oh, okay... that's nice." I floundered as I tried to take in this new idea. I didn't get any time to sit around and think about it, because my owner immediately started leading me back to the ferry.

     We were almost there when he casually dropped the bombshell. "There's no need for you to tell the others about this. The way I figure it, you can use these prizes and money to get all the Celebration presents that you need."

     "What???"

     He looked down at me with a raised eyebrow. "I said..."

     "Never mind, I understand," I replied hastily. "It's just... wow... thanks."

     He nodded slightly. "Don't mention it."

     My eyes watered as I realised the full extent of what he'd just done. I felt rather guilty about my harsh thoughts earlier. Although you would have to practically use force to get him to say it, I've always found that our owner's actions tend to show his love more certainly than words ever could. I remembered again my repeated admonitions to MonoKeras and the girls about how you should never underestimate what our owner saw, even when he didn't say anything.

     The cold wind blew over the docks from the mountain behind us and I hastily dried my eyes before they froze shut. We boarded the ferry back for the trip to the mainland, and wound up on the top deck. At first, I was too busy with my own thoughts and tentative plans for a season that had suddenly become brighter, but then I became aware that my owner was quiet, too.

     He finally broke the silence. "Blchocobo, I think I'm going to need your help."

     "How so?"

     "Well, I've got some plans for a great Celebration Day gift or two, but things are a bit complicated and I need you to help cover for me..."

     He explained further. By the time he was finished, I'd managed to shut my mouth again and was nodding agreement. I was looking forward to getting back home now. This would be the best celebration season ever!

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

Celebration Memories: Part Two

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