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Hidden in the Darkness


by lavendergoddess79

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Quietly, I creep through the deserted streets of Neopia Central. I make my way past the many shops, lingering in the dark shadows behind the buildings. Most people hate darkness, but I thrive in it. Here the only light comes from the dimly lit street lamps. The sun has gone down hours ago, and all the lights in the shops and neohomes are out. I stand behind the book store, looking to see if the coast is clear. No one is walking on the street. I quickly continue down the road until I get to the market place.

      I look down the street in front of me. At first, I see no one, but then I notice the dark corner up ahead of me where two buildings meet. Standing there is a shadow Lupe. She is looking away from me, gazing into the distance.

      I quietly creep up to her, not letting her see me. I know she knows I'm there. She doesn't speak to me for a moment, and even when she does she still won't look at me.

      "You're here," she says. Her voice is cold and chilling. "I've been waiting."

      "I know," I say, shivering a little. My black and brown fur is standing on end. I don't know why. As a spotted Aisha, I once felt out of place in this cold darkness, but now it is my home.

      "You're late, Melanie," she tells me, finally looking me in the eye.

      "I know," I say, "I'm sorry. There were a group of pets playing outside… I didn't want them to see me."

      "There are no excuses for being late," she says, "But it doesn't matter. We still have eight hours until the sun rises. That's plenty of time."

      "Where are the others, Dara?" I ask, looking around for the familiar faces that usually are here to greet me every night. I see no one besides the two of us standing in the faint glow of the street lamps above us. Dara looks around.

      "Everyone," she whispers, "She's here." As the sound of Dara's voice quietly echoes through the street, a group of dark figures creeps out of the shadows. I see the familiar faces of the different types of pets. Though they are of different species, they all are eerily identical. Maybe it is the mutant look of their faces, the darkness reflected in their eyes, or a combination of both- I can never tell.

      The pets look at Dara and me. The blank expressions on their faces remain unchanged. I join the pets as Dara begins to speak to us. Dara is our leader. Sometimes I wish I had a say in what we did, but that doesn't matter so much.

      "I assume you're wondering what task I have for you to do tonight," she says, looking around at us. She says this same thing every night. Usually the 'tasks' involve spying around Neopia, looking through the shops, trying to find out what goes on around here these days. From time to time they involve stealing, and scaring the pets that dare to come here. As a part of this secret group, we all hide during the day wherever we can. It is only at night that we can be seen- this is one of the rules Dara made for us. But we still try to find out what we are missing every day.

      Some of these pets can't even remember a time when they were a part of the lively crowds that chatted and shopped in this place during the days. It's not like that for me. I once had a caring owner. Things changed only about a month ago. That's when I met Dara. But I don't like to think about those days. Things are how they are now, and that's all that matters. The sunlight is only a distant memory to me, and I wouldn't want things any other way.

      "Tonight," Dara continues. My mind quickly comes back to reality as I listen carefully to what she says. "I have a different kind of thing for you to do. We've never really tried this before, and it should be interesting."

      An evil smile comes across her face. I shake a little, wondering what she has planned. Then there is a sound coming from down the street. We fall silent as we turn and look. The door to a small shop closes behind a figure that is stepping out into the road. Whoever it is is coming towards us.

      "Quick!" Dara hisses at us. "Hide!"

      We dart into the shadows of the building beside us in an instant as whoever it is gets closer. I can now tell that it is a yellow Acara. The color of her fur stands out in the darkness, reminding me somehow of the life I used to have.

      My best friend had been a yellow Kacheek. One night I left my neohome late to go shopping with her. When we left the shop it was dark, and I lost sight of my friend. I heard a noise, and assumed it was my friend. So I ran in the direction of the sound, bumping into a shadow Lupe. I was quick to apologize to her, asking if she had seen a yellow Kacheek.

      "No," she had said to me. The sound of her voice scared me then as much as it does now. "But I can help you." She had introduced me to her 'secret group.' Before I knew it, I was officially a part of this group. I never returned to my neohome after that day. Things are different now than the way they once were, but that's just fine.

      The Acara is getting closer. She looks around with wide, frightened eyes. She carries a small green book, which she clutches tightly as she walks down the street.

      "Here she comes," Dara whispers, "I wonder what that book is. Let's take it. But first, let's scare her." Personally, I think that this pet is scared enough without our help, but who am I to disagree with our leader?

      "So," Dara continues, "We'll just wait for her to get here, then I'll jump out at her. When I look at you, well, you know what to do."

      We all nod our heads. We've done this kind of thing a million times before. Some poor innocent pet comes along in the middle of the night, Dara jumps out and scares them, then the pet sees the rest of us. That's usually when they run away screaming.

      Dara stands beside us, waiting for the Acara to come closer. After a moment, the Lupe smiles at us, darting out of the shadows. She runs up to the Acara, who gasps. The Acara drops her book onto the ground, quickly leaning over to pick it up again. As she stands back up, she takes a good look at Dara. Her eyes widen as she begins to speak, shivering a little.

      "Dara?" the Acara asks, her voice quiet and shaking. Dara's mouth suddenly drops as a look of utter shock and horror fills her face. She steps backwards.

      "It's not you," Dara says, "It can't be."

      "Dara!" the Acara exclaims, her face lighting up. "Where were you for so long? We've missed you so much!"

      "Who are you?" Dara asks, though it's obvious even to me that she knows exactly who this pet is.

      "It's me," the Acara says. "Your sister."

      Dara's expression changes quickly to anger as she looks at the Acara. "I'm not your sister anymore!" She screams, "Why do you think I left? I never want to see you again!"

      The Acara looks hurt. There a long moment of cold silence haunts the air before she says anything else.

      "But Dara," she calmly begins, "I miss you." The Acara looks away from Dara as though she's trying to keep from crying. She may be crying already, but I can't tell from this distance. Dara is coming back towards us, now, and the Acara is running in the opposite direction.

      Dara glares at us as she approaches. "Let's go," she says, as if she owes us no explanation for what just happened. She keeps walking. The other pets begin to follow her, but all I can think about is my family. I can't help but wonder if my owner misses me. My owner. I try to remember her, but I realize that I don't even know her name anymore. If I passed her on the street, I might not even recognize her. Maybe I have seen her recently and didn't even know it. Would she have recognized me? If I came home, would she want me back? There is only one way to find out.

      "Melanie?" Dara asks. I notice that I am far behind the rest of the pets. "Are you coming?"

      I stand silently for a moment, feeling the wind blow my fur around. I watch Dara frown at me as I wonder why I've put up with her telling me what to do for so long.

      "No," I say, going against Dara for the first time. "I just realized that I have something more important to do."

      I hear Dara gasp with surprise as I turn my back on her, walking in the direction of my old neohome. It's a good thing I remember what my address was, because I am ready to start a new life, knowing I won't make the same mistake again. I'll have a perfect life and a perfect family, and I won't trade it for anything.

The End

 
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