Hidden in the Darkness
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
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
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
"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
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.