As the Clouds Clear: Part One
Note: This series is a sequel to the series When the Weather is Grey, published
in issues 217-219.
"And how does this make you feel? Do these events anger
Nilika sat with the same Green Gelert who had been
monitoring her progress since the island. She'd recently been undergoing some
counseling, and it was appearing to help some, even though Nili was fully sick
of being asked how she felt.
No one could understand why she always seemed so
upset now. They'd approach her and ask, "Why so sad?" without noticing her grey
coloring. Nili would try to convince them that, no, she wasn't feeling depressed,
and she was really quite happy. The response to that was almost always the same.
"Well... If you say so..." they'd say unconvincingly, and they'd walk away.
Frequently Nili wished that she could become shadow again, instead of the dreary
grey that she was covered in from head to foot, but her owner had already made
it quite clear to her that she just didn't have the neopoints for it now, and
she was saving up for it as fast as she possibly could.
Since her departure from the island, Nili had been
frantically trying to research information about its mysterious location, but
she had found nothing. Not that she was surprised by that either, but Nili figured
that it couldn't hurt to try. She had even already completed a short list of
what she did know about the island to help her research. So far, it read:
1. It's an island.
2. It never stops raining on this island.
3. Pets who stay on the island long enough turn grey.
Nili looked up from the list in her lap and sighed.
She hadn't been able to think of an item for number four. Three items- that
was all. Three pieces-no, three specks- of information to use to piece together
the puzzle! Nili's goal seemed impossible.
The Gelert was asking her more questions now, but
her mind was too occupied to answer. His voice simply mashed together into one
long droning noise. As she normally did when she was thinking, she turned to
stare out the window. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted something. It
was a Blue Tuskaninny, walking down the street! Completely forgetting that the
Gelert was there, she jumped up and bolted out the door and down the building's
"Hey! Hey you!" Nili shouted as she sprinted down
the street after the Tuskaninny. The pace of the pet seemed to quicken as she
shouted. Once the Tuskaninny was within reach, she took a strong leap off the
pavement, tackling the pet.
"Get off!" whined the voice of the startled but completely
"Oh, you're not-not him..." mumbled Nili as she inspected
the pet at a closer range. Disappointed, she stepped aside and let him go.
He ran off, yelling, "You crazy Wocky!"
"Nilika." There was a tense pause. "Nilika!" More
silence. Nili liked the silence. In fact, she was ignoring the doctor just to
create it. "Nilika," started the doctor a third time, "why did you go and chase
that poor Tuskaninny? What are you trying to find? Or who?" He slammed his paws
down onto the top of his wooden desk. He was certain by now that she wasn't
going to answer his questions. Suddenly, it dawned on him. He walked over to
Nili and placed both of his paws on her shoulders. "Oh, I know who you're looking
for! You're looking for the Blue Tuskaninny who helped you around on the island,
aren't you? You shouldn't be looking for him, Nilika!"
"Why?" Her voice, sharp and sudden, interrupted the
"Because, Nilika! You told me he didn't exist!
You told me he was a figment of your imagination!" He shook her shoulders,
trying to make his words settle in. "This is very disappointing to me, Nilika,"
said the doctor, releasing his grasp on her shoulders and walking over to a
large window in the opposite wall. "We were making so much progress, and now,
it seems that we're losing the foundation we worked on.
"The worst part is," continued the doctor, facing
away from Nili, "that you know what you're doing. You know-and I know-that the
Blue Tuskaninny never did and never has existed. I know because you told me
yourself! He approached you while you were on this island and told you he wasn't
real! It was all something your mind invented."
"It wasn't on the island," she said clearly.
"Where did it happen, then?"
"I...I-" She struggled to remember. "It didn't happen
on the island; it happened as I was leaving."
"Good. This is good," assured the doctor. "What else
do you know or remember about him?"
"He was in a painting in a village- the same village
that he saved me from."
"You mean the one you saved yourself from,"
he corrected. "If you don't mind," the doctor said, grabbing a pen and clipboard,
"describe this village to me."
Calmly, Nili answered the question. The doctor kept
a steady stream of questions going to Nili, but released her after a half hour
for a lunch break.
"How's her progress coming?" asked the doctor's assistant,
poking her head in the doorway.
"Well..." The doctor trailed off. "Let me just say
that some of her answers to questions I've asked her haven't exactly made sense.
"Like, for example," the doctor said, immediately
rambling on to explain. "I asked her what this 'island' looked like. You'll
never guess what she told me!"
"What did she tell you?"
"Her description matched that of Mystery Island exactly!
It's absolutely preposterous! I've never seen a case like this in my whole career!"
"How do you know she's not lying, though?"
The doctor stared at his assistant. "How many tribes
or strange, grey pets have you seen running around Mystery Island?"
"Well." The assistant shrugged. "I haven't seen any
tribes or any grey pets on Mystery Island, but I did see this other grey pet-a
Draik-on Terror Mountain just last week!"
"You what?!" shouted the doctor in disbelief. He
certainly hoped that his whole office wasn't starting to go nutty on him. "Did
you get his name? His address? Maybe we should get the two together, to help
work through some group counseling."
The assistant nodded. "Yes, I've got his name and
address. I'll go get them for you."
"Another grey pet?" Nili asked skeptically.
"Yes!" said the doctor, smiling broadly. "We'd like
you to meet him! He's supposed to be arriving here from Terror Mountain any
Almost as if on cue, there was a quiet knocking on
the door, and a sad-looking grey Draik strode into the room. "Is this the room
of Dr. Gelert?" asked the Draik.
"Yes, yes," the doctor said warmly. After a brief
pause of silence, the Gelert got up. "Well, I guess I'll just leave you two
alone for a few minutes to meet each other."
Silence still filled the room. The Draik shifted
his weight and quietly gazed around the room. "The island-were you on the island?"
Nili asked, finally breaking the everlasting silence.
Even as he answered, the Draik still didn't make
eye contact. "Yes," he said bitterly. "For longer than a sane pet should." He
turned his head to look at her. "My assumption is that you were there as well?"
"Unfortunately." Tension still hung in the air between
the two. In an attempt to break it, she introduced herself. "I'm Nili."
"Jake." Finally there was eye contact. "I was on
the island for six months, trapped there against my will. My memory of my life
before the island is almost completely gone from my mind. I've only come back
from the island recently."
"Same with me," she mumbled. "Well, at least part
of that. I was only stranded on the island for three days; I can't imagine being
there for six months. However, my past memories are also faded, and I've been
back from the island for no more than a month." She attempted to change the
subject, since Jake seemed to be slightly uncomfortable. "Any siblings?"
"Nah..." He shook his head. "I've always been an
only pet. My owner must have been a wreck without me when she noticed I was
gone. I'm almost surprised that she didn't just go and get a new pet to replace
me. Six months is a long time to go petless."
"Six months is a long time to do anything!" Even
though the topic of the island appeared to make him uncomfortable, Nili still
couldn't help but ask, "How recently have you come back from the island?"
Jake picked up a random book off a shelf and paged
through it. "I got back last weekend," he replied, avoiding Nili's gaze again.
Last weekend? Wouldn't that have meant that both
he and I were on the island at the same time? Nili wondered. She remembered
being around most of the island the first day, but she didn't remember seeing
him anywhere. She couldn't even recall seeing any Grey Draiks among the "others"
once she had been captured. "Where did you stay?"
"I stayed in this one cave... It was back in the
woods a little bit, but if you came out of the forest and walked down the beach,
you had a view of a cliff. On this cliff, every morning, they'd--"
"What?! That's impossible!" shouted Nili, interrupting
him. He had stayed in her cave? How was that possible? Did the island have two
identical sides, and Nili lived on one while Jake lived on the other?
Jake gave her a puzzled stare. "What? What's impossible?"
She opened her mouth to explain, but she could hear
the doctor's claws clicking against the tiles in the hallway just outside the
room. "I'll meet you later to explain," she promised as the doctor walked back
through the door with a cup of hot coffee in his paw.
To be continued...