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Pango Pango's Soup


by mygoodguild

--------

Jill waved to her mother from the front garden of her neohome. "Bye, mommy! I'm going out! I'll be back, in uh, an hour or so," Jill called, waving madly.

     Jill's mother dashed from the neohome toward her little Xweetok daughter. "Oh, Jill... I was hoping you'd stay and help cook supper. I need help finding or creating a new tasty recipe. Your father has invited some of the other Xweetoks he works with over to our neohome for supper tonight," Jill's mother explained.

     "Mother!" Jill groaned, shaking her head. "Please. You know how I like exploring. You know I'm not like you - I hate cooking and sewing and all of those motherly type things," Jill stated.

     "Fine, Jill," her mother said, sounding exasperated. "Like I'm ever going to get any help around here from you," she muttered. But as Jill began to scurry off, she called: "Be careful!"

     Jill didn't respond but continued to run off, taking nothing with her but the clothes on her back. At last Jill slowed to a walk, tired. "Where should I go today?" she asked herself, grinning. She was grinning because she thought of how she could always get away from her mother.

     Jill kept walking, but didn't pay attention to where she was going. She was thinking, talking to herself. But then Jill's head snapped up when she bumped into something. The little Island Xweetok fell backwards, stunned. She looked up at the immense green pot looming over her. It took Jill a few seconds to realize where she was. It was THE COOKING POT.

     Jill, a resident of Mystery Island, had paid little attention and taken no heed to her mother and her father's warnings about THE COOKING POT. No worries, right? It was just a cooking pot. A tiny little cooking pot. But now Jill wasn't so sure. It wasn't very tiny.

     She stepped up to the cooking pot and reached out to rub her paw along the side of it. Not smooth, rough and gritty. Whenever the cooking pot was painted, sand got mixed in with the paint. That was what it felt like. Jill was about to kneel and scoop up some of the sand that the cooking pot was placed on, but as she was bending over she heard a pop and a crackle. She jerked up.

     "Well, hello there, angel," a nice lady said. She was clad in island gear: a grassy hula skirt and a coconut shell top. She had clattery, jingly, loose jewelry hanging from her wrists and ankles and neck. Her wild brown hair had a pink flower nestled in it, making her frizzy tresses easier to the eye. She was holding a giant spoon. The pink wings on her back fluttered a couple of times. "I said hello. Wow, what an impolite child," she murmured.

     "Oh, hi," Jill croaked. "I was just thinking..."

     "Do you have anything for the almighty pot?" she asked, curtsying.

     "Not r-really," Jill stuttered, fear setting in. "I have t-to go."

     "Dear, dear. Why must you leave me so soon? Oh, oopsies, I haven't introduced myself! Maybe I'm the impolite one. My name is Jhuidah. I'm the Island Faerie, keeper of the cooking pot," she declared. "How may I be of your service?" She giggled.

     "What's the p-pot for?" Jill asked, feeling unsteady.

     "WHAT?! Oh, I suppose not all know of its power," Jhuidah said uncertainly. "This is my magical cooking pot. It contains wealth - and dangers alike..." She paused. "If you have any items at all you can sacrifice them to the pot, tossing them inside to the almighty Pango Pango. If you place the right items, you can be rewarded with a gift so spectacular you'll be knocked out of your shoes and-"

     "But I don't wear shoes," Jill interrupted.

     "SHH!! As I was saying... If your offerings don't please our wonderful Pango Pango he might cast his wrath out on you - don't be scared, the chance is worth taking!" Jhuidah said, seeing Jill's fear.

     "I don't think so. I didn't bring anything. You see... My mother is working on cooking supper. She needs me because she doesn't know what to cook," Jill explained, thinking of how she was forbidden from getting near this pot. Now she knew why. It was creepy. A skull was setting near the pot, and Pango Pango's wrath? Let's not go there. "I need to go."

     "Sweetheart! Pango Pango can be of great help," Jhuidah explained. "You must provide him with the right ingredients and he can provide you with a dashing soup for your mother!!"

     "I don't think so," Jill said again. "I need to be going." She thought a moment, biting her lip. "I was told not to go near this place by my mother and father," she confessed. "I have disobeyed them, which I wish to no longer do."

     "Honey, what do THEY know? They're only parent Xweetoks! They don't know much, sweets," Jhuidah said. "I bet they forbid you from here by rumors."

     "What do you mean?" Jill asked.

     "Rumors! People rumor our pot is dangerous. I suppose your parents heard those rumors. I suppose they haven't even been here themselves. I suppose... I suppose they want to keep you from the greatness of Pango Pango himself. How cruel of them! How dreadfully mean to deprive you of our Pango Pango!" Jhuidah fake-sobbed, throwing herself into the sand and dirt.

     "My mother and my father are smart. They know what they tell me about," Jill said uncertainly. "I'm LEAVING." She spun around and began to trudge off.

     "Pango Pango's wrath is getting ready to escape from the pot. He's very angry with you, little girl, for ignoring him so. I'd get back here if I was you," Jhuidah said, calling after Jill. "LITTLE GIRL!!"

     Jill broke into a run. She was frightened. Her hands were sweaty and clammy and she had butterflies in her stomach. Why was she so scared of these myths? It was only a cooking pot! But Jill didn't slow down. She was still scared, myth or not.

     "The wrath has escaped," Jhuidah yelled, her voice raspy.

     "No!" Jill screamed, spinning around. Sure enough, a fog was seeping slowly after her. She began to run some more, but no matter how fast she ran, the slow fog was always gaining on her. "No!"

     ****

     Jill yawned and her eyelids fluttered, opening slowly. "Where am I?" she asked herself, groggily. "Huh?" Jill sat up. Another yawn escaped her lips. "Does anyone know where I am?" she asked aloud. But there was no response. "Hello? Mommy?"

     "Hello, child," a voice said. A figure loomed over Jill now, creating a shadow over her face. "Pango Pango wants to see you."

     "It's all a dream," Jill moaned, rolling over. "No such thing. Silly myths. Only silly myths! No thing. No such thing," Jill murmured.

     "Don't keep him waiting," Jhuidah said, her voice growly and frustrated. "His fog of wrath already knocked you down once. It made you fall asleep. You don't want it happening again."

     "But that was a dream," Jill hissed, still groggy. "I'm going home." She stood up, unsteady and still tired. The sun was very low in the sky. The shadows were all getting short. "What time is it?"

     "Suppertime. Almost," Jhuidah said with a smirk.

     "Oh no," Jill groaned, slapping her forehead.

     "I have ingredients you can give Pango Pango. He'll make a soup for your mother's meal. All you have to do is believe in his power, his wonderful greatness and power."

     "Fine! I believe! Let's just go dump those ingredients in the pot and get some soup," Jill said, furrowing her eyebrows.

     "Here they are," Jhuidah said, leading Jill to the ingredients. "Good little girl. Now toss them into the pot, in the order of their importance: least important ingredient to most important one."

     "Which one is least important?" Jill asked, scratching her head.

     "That's your judgment. In the order you toss them in, it affects the taste of the soup," the faerie said.

     Jill picked up the cactus leaf, looking at it with questioning eyes. But she only tossed it in. It didn't look very important. She then picked up the little pile of baby tomatoes and threw them in all at the same time. The pot boiled and sizzled, hissing at Jill. But she only tossed in her next ingredient: a cup of water. She didn't throw in the cup. After a few more ingredients, the pot was seething wildly, bubbling. Jill was done.

     "There. All the ingredients are in. Now let's see how your soup looks." Jhuidah smiled. "I know it'll be good. Anything Pango Pango makes is good."

     There was a loud cracking noise and a few bowls of soup slid out of a slit in the pot. The soup was green and murky. It didn't look very tasty. It had specks and chunks of different yucky colors in it.

     "Wow. That looks good," the Island Faerie said, giving a thumbs up of approval. "I'd love to eat it." But then her face became serious. "Alter the soup in any way and it could become dangerous to eat. And if you don't eat it, Pango Pango's wrath will be out for your family. Eat every last drop."

     "Thank you," Jill said, deciding not to argue. She took up the bowls of soup and looked up into the darkening sky. She was sure her mother and father and the Xweetok employees were sitting at the big table, smiling, eating, and laughing. Her efforts would be pointless. "Bye."

     ****

     Jill quietly opened the door to her neohome. There was no noise. Only the kitchen light was on in the neohome. Jill crept into the kitchen, trying not to add any noise to the already-quiet atmosphere. She set the bowls of soup on the counter and then saw her mother. "Hey, mommy," she said, barely audible.

     "What? You only call me mommy when you're worried or scared." Jill's mother knelt down. "What's the matter?"

     "Didn't you miss me? Did you even notice I was gone?!" Jill cried, tears rolling down her cheeks. She sobbed. "I was out in Mystery Island, exploring, remember? And you wanted help with the soup!" Jill wailed, tossing herself into a chair that sat in the corner of the kitchen.

     Her mother glanced at the clock. "Why, but... Jill, you've only been gone for two and a half minutes. I still need the help for supper, though, if you'd like to wash up and help me. What's that you brought?"

     Jill's jaw dropped. She ignored her mother and ran, yanking open the front door of her neohome. She jumped outside. The noon sunlight fell down on her, making the top of her head feel warm and pleasant. It didn't make sense.

     It was another one of those weird time puzzles. Where you did something fearful, frightening, and all alone. You did a "great deed" and came back to show how you did it, how wonderful, and worried that everyone missed you. But no one notices you were gone because the clock was set back for everyone. Everyone else forgets you were gone, but you remember. It was magic. The magical cooking pot.

     "Oh, mother... I don't need to help you because I brought you some soup you could use for your supper if you wanted to," the little Xweetok said, looking around the kitchen. "Three big bowls of soup, sitting there on the counter. I made those. For your supper."

     "Oh, thanks, sweetie! That's help I really needed!" Jill's mother made her way towards the soup. "But... They're green. And brown. And... What's the matter with them?"

     The soup bowls, which had already looked disgusting, looked like they'd aged a hundred more years. "Oh. I think they ruin really quickly. Let's just toss them out and I'll help you make another meal," Jill said, taking up two of the soup bowls and dumping them into the garbage. Her mother dumped the other.

     ****

     That night everyone was eating some delicious foods: meaty treat pasties, vegetable deluxe, and creamy carrot soup. Everyone was smiling and laughing. Many cheerful words were exchanged. Jill's father and the Xweetoks he worked with talked about their boss and how annoying he was. It was all going nicely.

     Until...

     Jhuidah floated into the room, making her way to the table. She stood up on the center of it, not even being invited to stand on the table! She cleared her throat. "I want to say that the wrath of..." She giggled. "The wrath of..." She giggled again. "Oh, forget his wrath! Let's eat!" Jhuidah sat down, joining in the festivities.

     And so, Jill never forgot the night she made that soup at the forbidden cooking pot.

The End

Author's Note: Much thanks to the people who make the Neopian Times possible... The editors, the writers of all of the stories and the people who draw the comics, the people who code the Times and the ones who run the editorial... You're all great! Keep up the good work! I love to read the Neopian Times and I think it's looking wonderful.

 
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