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A Day At the Fair


by sois_sage

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Living with a house full of guys can be kind of hectic. All right, very hectic. And I can see how you might think I'm exaggerating if you've never been in the same situation yourself, but trust me, I'm not. Food is thrown as often as it is eaten, music is never played below an eardrum shattering decibel level, and if, in a friendly wrestling match, a couple pieces of furniture are broken (per week), no one bats an eye. Pretty much any day that I come home to find all of the walls still standing is a good one. So it is not without reason that when I arrived home to be met by silence, I was immediately suspicious.

     "Hello?" I called into the seemingly empty house. "Anybody here? You guys didn't all kill each other, did you?"

     Cautiously I made my way into the living room, which was surprisingly tidy, where Dakota the green Zafara was sprawled on the funky sofa, reading.

     "Where is everybody?" I asked him.

     He shrugged, not looking away from his book. "I think Clever and Kale are in the kitchen."

     Frowning, I went into the kitchen (also clean), to see my split Lenny standing at the stove, stirring a large pot of something. He turned as I came in.

     "Oh, hi, Sage! You're home early."

     Just then a crash came from the dining room. Clever went to the door, still holding a large wooden spoon.

     "Quit fooling around! Pick up the broken pieces and come get a new one. And the forks go on the other side."

     He returned to the stove, shaking his head. "Kids," he muttered in disapproval.

     Kale came in from the dining room to fetch a broom and another dish. "Do you think these plates are worth anything?" asked the shadow Kyrii as he took one down from the shelf.

     "Not if you keep breaking them," Clever replied as the younger pet left the room.

     By now I felt slightly lightheaded. "I think I need to sit down," I said as I made my way to a chair. "I could've sworn I just saw Kale setting the table."

     At that moment the side door opened, and Thiebos came in, his arms full of vegetables from the garden. He dumped them on the counter and turned to Clever. "Here's the stuff you wanted for the salad. Can I go now?"

     "No." The Lenny pointed to the sink. "Start washing them."

     The Blumaroo sighed heavily, but got to work all the same.

     I put a hand to my forehead. Surprisingly, it wasn't too warm.

     I should probably explain that Thiebos is the laziest creature I know, excepting perhaps his petpet, a Tenna named Almos. Getting him to do chores is like seeing the Turmaculus do flawless pirouettes to the beat of Sticks N Stones, while wearing a polka dot tutu and fuzzy blue slippers. Not physical impossible in the strictest sense, but not something you can believe until you see it. And even then it still seems pretty unlikely.

     "I must be delusional. Or dreaming," I muttered to myself. I pinched my arm just to be sure.

     "Ow!"

     Nope, not dreaming.

     "Okay, I want an explanation, and I want it now," I demanded, getting to my feet.

     "Dinner's ready," Clever announced. "And I think I just heard the others come in." He shoved a large, hot dish of orange chicken into my hands. "Take that into the dining room, will you?"

     Scowling, I took the bowl into the other room where the newly arrived Wanderer (a yellow Kougra), Stripes (a skunk Bori), and Des (a blue Jetsam) were taking their seats at the table, (which, I might add, was adorned with fresh flowers). Kale was already seated, utensils in hand, and looked impatient.

     Clever came in with the mushroom soup, Thiebos close behind, carrying the salad.

     "Eoere, get down here," Clever yelled up the stairs.

     Seconds later, a Tyrannian Blumaroo bounced into the room, and neatly into his chair.

     The next ten minutes or so were devoted to filling plates and taking the edge of the group's collective hunger, though I noticed they were more polite than usual. "Pleases" and "Thank yous" were uttered, and no one was belching. Once they had finished off their first helpings I cleared my throat.

     "Okay. Now explain. What's going on?"

     They exchanged glances.

     "What?" said Stripes. "So now we need a reason to be nice?"

     "Yes," I said, narrowing my eyes.

     "Well we were thinking that since we've been so good lately-"

     "You mean today."

     "- that you might want to reward us by taking us to the fair."

     "What fair?"

     "The one in the Haunted Woods."

     "The Deserted Fairground? With all the ghosts and monsters and other blood thirsty fiends?"

     "Uh... Yes?"

     "Are you guys nuts?"

     "Hey, it the closest thing Neopia's got to an amusement park, and we're bored out of our skulls here!"

     "So read a book!"

     "We've read all the books that you've bought, and you said we weren't getting any more until we could pay for them ourselves because they cost so much."

     "Oh."

     "And the fair is free."

     "No, it isn't. I think your life is a high price to pay for admission!"

     "So come with us. You can make sure nothing bad happens."

     "I happen to like my neck the way it is right now. Unpunctured!"

     "Aww, c'mon, Sage! We promise to be really careful," Eoere put in.

     "Yeah, you're always saying that we should find something amusing to do instead of just moping around the house all day," said Thiebos.

     "Yeah, and this is actually legal," added Kale.

     I glanced at him.

     "Err… Not that I've been doing anything that isn't legal," he said hastily.

     "Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease," they begged.

     I think you can guess what happened from there.

      * * *

           "Hey Sage, you wanna go on the Haunted House ride with me?" Eoere asked as our ferry pulled up to the Haunted Woods dock.

     "Uh… maybe," I said scanning the shore for a shop that sold garlic. (No luck. It's too bad; they'd probably have lots of business from customers who don't want to get eaten.)

     The six of us (Dakota and Des had to work, and Wanderer just didn't feel like going) got off the ferry and began to make our way through the Woods. Gnarled branches hung overhead, blotting out the afternoon sunlight, and the air grew cold. I pulled my jacket closer and tried to tell myself that it was just the lack of sunlight that made the temperature drop, but I knew it wasn't the truth. There was a presence in those woods, one that was downright creepy, for lack of a better word.

     We reached the gates of the Deserted Fairground, which looked rather, well… deserted.

     "I wonder where everybody is," said Thiebos, scratching his head.

     "This means one thing," Stripes said.

     "Yep, the park's closed, time to go," I said, turning to leave.

     "NO LINES!" yelled the Bori, running for the nearest booth.

     I sighed. That guy is incorrigible.

     "I want the rest of you back here in three hours, and not a second later," I said. "Five thirty, got it?"

     They all nodded, and went off to explore.

     "And tell Stripes if you see him!" I called after them.

           * * *

           By five fifteen I was more than ready to go. I spent most of my time looking over my shoulder to make sure I wasn't being followed, but I had taken a look at some of the park's "attractions", if you can call them that. I wasted at least 300 NP at the Test Your Strength game, but it was a challenge to pick up the mallet alone. After all that exertion I was feeling a bit peckish so I went over to check out the food cart. As I examined what was on the menu, I realized it was doing the same thing, and I lost my appetite. After I declined to buy a scratch card, Sssidney wouldn't quit ssstaring at me, which was unnerving. I skipped spinning the Wheel of Misfortune. With a name like that, you're just asking for trouble.

     I wandered over to the gates a bit early to wait for the others, but to my surprise, someone was already there.

     "What in Neopia happened to you?" I demanded as I approached Clever.

     The split Lenny's orange and purple paint job was almost completely covered by a thick layer of cream pie filling. A single pie tin was still on his head.

     "You know that game where you're supposed to shoot the Chia clowns before they shoot you?" he asked in a small voice.

     I nodded dumbly.

     "Well, apparently I'm not very good at it."

     "It could be worse," I said, trying to cheer him up.

     "Oh yeah? How?"

     But I was saved from having to come up with an answer to that question by Thiebos, who came storming over, looking furious.

     "Do you know what they're serving over at that Mootix infested popsicle stand they call a food cart?" he demanded.

     "Uh… more eyeballs?" I guessed.

     "No!" he yelled. "Oh, well, yeah those… but they're also selling Blumaroo steaks!"

     "See," I said, turning to Clever. "At least you aren't on the menu."

     "Yet," he muttered darkly.

     "You guys aren't taking this seriously," Thiebos said angrily. "That could be my second cousin once removed sitting on that plate over there!"

     "Well, would you prefer that he was served in a glass or something?" I asked. Not the right thing to say.

     "That's not funny!" he shouted at me. "Let's just get the others and get out of here! I have to report this to the Society for Protection of Blumaroos, and the sooner, the better."

     "Fine with me," I said. "Have you seen any of the others?"

     "I think I saw Stripes by the Cork Gun Gallery earlier," Clever said, so we went there first.

     Stripes was indeed at the Cork Gun Gallery, fishing deep in his pants pockets for something.

     "I know I have some more Neopoints in here somewhere," I heard him mutter as we got closer.

     "Out of money, hon?" asked the blue Aisha who worked the booth. "That's too bad." She put on a bit of a pouty look. "I wish you could stay and play some more."

     "No, no, I can stay! I have more money, I know I do!" Just then Stripes caught sight of me. "Sage! I need to borrow some Neopoints Do you have any on you?"

     "How much?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.

     "Only about three or four thousand."

     I snorted. "I don't think so. Have you even won once at this game?"

     "Not yet. And I never will if you don't lend me the money!" he beseeched me, glancing at the booth's owner.

     I looked at the Aisha, who just gave me a very crafty smile. I rolled my eyes. "You are not wasting any more money on this game," I told Stripes.

     "But, but, but-"

     "No buts. C'mon."

     "I'll be back," he shouted to the Aisha as Thiebos and I dragged him away. "I swear to you, I'll be back!"

     Eoeore rejoined us as we passed the Spooky Furniture shop and appeared to be rather pleased with himself.

     "Why do you look so happy?" Clever asked.

     "Oh, no reason," the Tyrannian Blumaroo answered.

     There wasn't time to ask any more questions because at that moment we spotted Kale running towards us at full pelt, followed by a very looking angry Halloween Scorchio waving an axe and yelling.

     "Run," Kale shouted as he got closer. We didn't need telling twice, and took off through the gates and down the path through the Haunted Woods.

     "What… did you… do?" I asked Kale as we ran. I noticed he clutched a small corked glass bottle of reddish liquid in his paws.

     "Err… We had a bit of a disagreement over the ownership of an item," he said, panting for breath.

     "When we get home, you are so grounded, mister!" I shouted as we turned on to the home stretch and raced for the ferry that was just about to pull away from the dock.

     "Wait for us!" Thiebos called to the pet steering the boat, but apparently she didn't hear him. The ferry began moving.

     We only had one way to get on that ferry and it wasn't going to be easy. The six of us sprinted down the dock, and leapt for the boat. By some stroke of luck, we all made it.

     "Let's not do that again any time soon," Stripes said, panting.

     Back on shore the furious Scorchio was waving his axe and shouting what sounded like a curse on us and all our future generations.

     "At least we got away with it," Kale said, still clutching the vial.

     Someone behind us cleared his throat. "Not quite."

     Slowly we turned around. An old Moehog in a skipper's uniform stood there, glaring at us. "May I see your tickets please?"

     I gulped. "We don't actually have any, sir. But, uh…" I looked around frantically for an idea. "… we were hoping you would accept this as payment for our passage." I grabbed the bottle out of Kale's paws and offered it to the Moehog.

     "Hey!" Kale protested, but I shot him the dirtiest look I could muster and he shut up.

     The skipper examined the bottle briefly, then took it with a curt nod and moved aside to let us pass.

     We went to the front of the boat and collapsed on some of the benches there.

     "My feathers will never be the same," moaned Clever as he held up a pie-covered wing.

     "At least no one tried to make you into an entrée," said Thiebos.

     "I thought it was more of a main course," commented Stripes.

     "Guys, can we please just be quiet until we get home?" I begged.

     Surprisingly enough, they all mumbled in agreement, and I was able to enjoy a peaceful ride the rest of the way.

     We arrived home soon after. Wanderer looked up from the book he was reading to greet us.

     "So," he said. "Did I miss anything good?"

           * * *

           The next morning I got up early to read the paper and enjoy the quiet before the guys woke up. As I was flipping through to the comics an article caught my eye. "Coconut Shy Quiggle Conked" it said. Interested, I kept reading the first line of the paragraph.

     "Deserted Fairground - The Coconut Shy booth, one of the Deserted Fairground's more popular attractions will remain closed today, while its proprietor takes a day to recover from a confrontation with an angry patron. The Tyrannian Blumaroo, whose identity remains a mystery, was apparently displeased with the way the game was run. 'He called me a cheat, he did,' said Bill Grubber, the booth's owner. 'And then he chucked one of me own coconuts right at me noggin. I tried to tell him everyone's a winner, 'cept for the ones who lose, but he wouldn't listen to reason!'"

     I closed the paper and shook my head. I can't take those guys anywhere.

The End

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to neomail me with any comments. I like getting feedback. =)

 
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