Clean Up In Aisle 5
Last Saturday started out like any other. The sun was
shining, the Beekadoodles were chirping, and I had spent most of the afternoon
reading. Just another normal day in Neopia. Or so I thought. I was up in my
room, working out the finer points of my latest practical joke. Not many Wockies
are pranksters by nature, but I consider myself to be unique. It was a little
before 5:00 when I heard my owner come in the front door. I waited a few moments,
and then heard her call to me from downstairs.
"Come down here, would ya?"
Sighing, I put my blueprints away and got up
from my desk. I'd have to finish this later. Down the stairs I went, through
the hall and into the kitchen where my owner, Ace, was looking into our empty
cupboards. She turned as I came in.
"We're out of food," she said.
"Yeah, I kind of noticed," I replied dryly.
"Well, do you want to come to the store with
me? You could pick some stuff out."
"Sure," I said with a shrug. "I need to get some
more glue and another whoopee cushion anyway."
Ace raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms over
the front of her yellow Marbleman T-shirt. "Should I even ask?"
"Its probably best if you don't."
She sighed and ran a hand through her brown hair,
which was streaked with a shade of blue that matched her eyes. "As long as you
don't hurt anyone. Or glue me to my chair again."
"I won't," I promised.
She reached into a cookie jar, pulled out a bag
of Neopoints, and stuffed it into the pocket of her blue jeans. "Ready to go?"
I nodded, and went to the front door. My thick
red fur kept me warm, but I knew Ace got cold easily. "Wind is picking up,"
She grabbed her Sticks N Stones jacket off the
coat racket by the door and we left.
* * *
The ferry ride to reach Neopia Central didn't
take long. On the way to the main shops we passed a park where a petpet training
class was being held, led by a speckled Lenny with a well-trained spotted Harris
by her side. I paused for a moment to watch.
"Now," the Lenny said in a voice loud enough
for all fifteen or so pets to hear, "lets start out with the sit and stay commands
that we learned last week."
The words "sit" and "stay" were issued by all
the Neopets as they walked away from their petpets. Unfortunately, only a few
listened. The rest followed after their owners, and were lead back to their
starting places for another try.
"Chaos, hurry up!" my owner called from up ahead.
"I want to get there before the store closes!"
I tore my eyes away from a blue Poogle praising
his pet rock for a job well done, and jogged to catch up, sighing wistfully.
Ace was still a relative newbie, so we had to stay on a budget, which left enough
for food, a home, and a few luxuries, like the occasional concert. Not enough
for a petpet. 'Some day,' I told myself silently as I followed Ace into the
main shops plaza.
We went into the burger shaped Neopian Fresh
Foods, which is actually more like half shop, half fast food joint. See, it
does have food stocked on shelves like a regular grocery store, but there is
a grill behind the cash register counter, where you can order burgers and other
freshly made items. Ace checked her watch.
"Alright. We split up to get stuff and meet back
at the chocolate milk display in fifteen minutes, okay? We can get dinner at
I nodded and headed off to the produce section
for tomatoes. I picked out a few ripe tomatoes, a bunch of grapes, and three
bananas, and had picked up some sausages when I caught a glimpse of a dark blue
something out of the corner of my eye. When I turned around, there was nothing
there. Must've been my imagination, I thought, and went on to get some
coco Neocrunch. But as I reached the cereal aisle, once again I saw something,
a quick, darting something.
Frowning, I turned around, but for a second time
there was nothing to be seen. Now what… my thoughts were cut off by a
resounding CRASH from an aisle to my left. I hurried in the direction from which
the sound had come, and turned the corner to find my owner sprawled in the middle
of the aisle surrounded by numerous cans of Neocola, out cold. Dropping the
items I had been carrying, I ran over to her, my heart pounding in my chest.
"Ace! Speak to me!"
Moving her head slightly, she groaned. "Five
more minutes, mom! I don't wanna go to Economics!"
Only slightly relieved that she could at least
speak, I continued to shake her gently. "Ace, wake up. Come on, get up!"
Opening her eyes and wincing, she sat up gingerly.
"Oww. What happened?"
By now a crowd of humans and pets had gathered
around us. Most looked worried or sympathetic. Except for one. "I was hoping
that you could tell me," said a very sour looking yellow Chia in an apron embossed
with the words 'I *heart* food'. "Do you have any idea how long it takes to
make an exact replica of the faerie city out of cans?" he demanded. "My masterpiece
Glaring, Ace got to her feet. "Thanks for your
concern," she muttered.
"Are you okay?" I asked, still worried. "Did
the cans fall on you?"
"I think so. I heard them start to fall, and
when I turned around to look... But I'll be alright." She stretched her arm
and grimaced. "Eventually."
"So you didn't knock these over?" asked the Chia,
"No. My sense of humor doesn't extend to destroying
other people's property."
Scowling, the Chia went back to the front counter,
telling a stock clerk to take care of the mess on his way. "And someone will
have to pay for the damage!" he called over his shoulder. The crowd dispersed,
and Ace put a hand to her head. "I need to sit down. Think you can finish up
the shopping on your own?"
"Sure," I replied, looking at her the darkening
spot on her cheekbone. There would be a colorful bruise there tomorrow. My owner
turned and went out to sit at one of the tables in front of the store. Picking
up the things she had dropped, and mentally ran over a list of things I still
needed to get. 'Let's see… Fruit, water, coffee… So I need cereal and maybe
some lasagne. And a packet of cheese and onion crisps.' I was going back to
the cereal aisle when I caught another flash of dark blue zipping by on the
edge of my vision.
I stopped dead in my tracks. Something was definitely
following me. Slowly, I set down my basket of items and straightened up. I waited
a moment, not moving at all, then quickly turned around to find… nothing.
Frowning, I walked down the aisle, and turned
into the next, spying yet another gleam of blue. I jogged swiftly past the shelves,
and turned, back to my starting place. And there, smack dab in the middle of
the aisle, with his head in my basket, was an Anubis. Eating my sausages. Quietly,
I crept closer, trying not to scare him. The Anubis, however, took no notice
of me, and continued munching. As I gathered him in my arms, he wagged his tail,
and started to lick my face.
"Now where did you come from, little guy?" I
asked him softly.
"Ah - HA!" came a triumphant voice. "I knew
it!" The yellow Chia with the apron came marching up to me, his hands on his
hips. "The petpet shop reported a missing Anubis a few days ago, and ever since
we've been finding all sorts of things chewed up and knocked over." He glowered
at the Anubis, who was still wagging his tail happily in my arms. "Now we can
get rid of this pest. For good."
I didn't like the sound of that.
"Hold on. Maybe I can take him." And I walked
away, leaving the Chia no choice but to follow me.
I found Ace sitting on a bench in front of the
shop, watching the sun sink beneath the horizon. After I finished explaining,
she looked at me. "Let me get this straight. You want me to open our home to
the creature that nearly gave me a concussion?"
"Umm… Yeah, that's about the size of it." I gave
her a pleading look.
"Chaos, we don't have the money for this. Petpets
are expensive, and the shop will want compensation of some sort. We can't just
take him with out paying. That wouldn't be right."
Someone behind me cleared their throat. I jumped.
I had forgotten the shopkeeper was there. "If you take that thing away, and
promise to never bring near my store again, I'll pay for him."
"Really?" I asked, astonished that he would offer.
Maybe this guy wasn't so bad after all.
He looked slightly embarrassed as he nodded.
As I thanked him profusely, he started to turn red. "Better for me anyway. I
make more money when people aren't afraid they'll be knocked out by falling
soda cans or buy half eaten meats. And you still have to pay for those damaged
cans," he said gruffly.
I turned back to Ace. "So?" I asked hopefully.
She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. "Do
you have a name for him?"
Smiling, I looked at the petpet, asleep in my
arms. I guess causing so much trouble must have worn him out. "Pan," I said
"Short for Pandemonium."