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Poison Doll


by micrody

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The yellow Aisha was startled awake from her mid-afternoon nap by the knocking at her door. Wearily, she slid off the chair that she was sitting on, setting her book upon the end table beside her small table lamp. Blinking herself awake, she rushed to the door and opened it.

     "Hello?" she asked, still blinking away her tiredness.

     "Neogram for Slaine," the blue Draik replied, holding a folded piece of paper.

     "That would be me," Slaine replied lightly, holding out her hand.

     "But isn't Slaine a bit of an... um, err... masculine name?" the Draik responded, unsure if the "Slaine" that the Neogram was addressed to was the woman before him.

     Slaine replied with a half-smile and whispered, "It's pronounced SLAW-na."

     The Draik turned red for a moment as he blushed in his embarrassment. Smiling weakly, he handed the yellow Aisha the folded piece of paper and said, "This would be yours then." He took a step back and stood patiently as Slaine unfolded the paper.

     My dear granddaughter,

     Please, do not be alarmed. I am currently residing at the hospital. The doctors believe it's just Neo Flu, but because of my age, they request that I spend a little time here. I know it is very much to ask, Slaine, but would you be able to take care of my dear Kadoatie, Arabella? I fear I might be staying here for a while, so I fear she may feel neglected with no one there. Slaine, if you could meet me later today, I can give you my Neohome key.

     With love,

     Grandmamma

     Slaine sighed. "Thank you," she said quietly to the Draik and reached into her pocket. She extracted from her pocket a gold-colored coin and paid the post-Draik his Neopoints. The Draik smiled and then happily flew away as she closed the door.

     She wandered blankly back to her chair and sat down with a huff. It had only been a few days since her Grandmamma had sent her a similar Neogram beginning with the same sentence, Please, do not be alarmed. She had sent the Neogram to Slaine, saying that Slaine's great-aunt Demona had fallen ill, the illness presumed to be Neo Flu then as well. Even so, she was still in the hospital, having grown sicker rather than any healthier.

     Slaine painfully reached for her book. Holding dearly onto it, she thought, I shall need to pack some clothing as well...

     * * *

     "Oh, Slaine," grandmamma Mala, a brown Kyrii with graying hair, wheezed from her sterile, white hospital bed at the Neopian hospital. "I am so happy to see you, Slaine."

     "Yes, I know," Slaine said, pained to see her grandmamma in such poor condition.

     "My key," grandmamma Mala said slowly, "is in my jacket's front pocket. I am sorry, dear, but I cannot reach it..."

     "Don't worry, Grandmamma," Slaine said with a cheerful laugh to cover her sadness as she walked over to the coat rack and slid her hand into the jacket's front pocket; hardly a second later, she had pulled a light-weight, golden key that shimmered in the salubrious air, aching to return home and unlock the single door that lead to its castle.

     "Does Arabella have any new habits I should be aware of, Grandmamma?"

     "No, none at all," Mala said, still wheezing slightly. "She'll remember you, dear... It has not been long since you visited last. Her Petpet food is in the cabinet by the pantry, dear."

     "Yes, I remember, Grandmamma," Slaine replied. "How is Aunt Demona?"

     Mala sighed. "She's been moved to critical care, dear. They don't think it is Neo Flu any longer. They are still hoping she'll recover, though, dear. So, please, do not worry."

     Slaine smiled, trying not to show her grandmother that she was, in fact, worrying. "I should be going now," she said quietly. "I shouldn't leave Arabella alone for so long. Please, Grandmamma, feel better. I'll be back tomorrow to visit, is that okay?" Mala nodded and Slaine smiled, but as she began inching towards the door, the wholesome hospital air suddenly seemed thicker with the new fear of the fate of her family.

     "Thank you, dear," her grandmother said quietly after her. "Please, take care of yourself."

     * * *

     By the time she reached her grandmother's house, it was already late-afternoon and the high sun over Neopia was beginning to set. Slaine still could not grasp the fact that it had only been a few hours since the blue Draik had awoken her from her mid-afternoon nap.

     After sliding the golden key into the placidly adorned doorknob, she twisted it two-and-a-quarter turns to the right and pushed the door inside. The scent of musty air drifted to her nostrils and Slaine sighed. In the absence of great-aunt Demona, grandmamma Mala had apparently been unable to keep up with the housecleaning and it had fallen by the wayside, forgotten to the world.

     Somewhat nervously, Slaine stepped into the darkened house and closed the door behind her. In the darkness, she fumbled around for a lamp--

     Slaine jumped back, her heart pounding as a furry shadow ran past her leg. "I'm sorry, Arabella," she called after the Kadoatie, feeling sorry that she had grabbed its tail in her search for a light. Without further complications, she found the lamp and flicked it on, illuminating the dense shadows.

     She walked through the house, turning on all the lamps as she passed them. She had never felt comfortable in very large, empty places, and this Neohome was enormous, three stories with over twenty-five rooms! It was even more terrifying at night.

     When all the lights had finally been turned on and she was satisfied, Slaine found a comfortable chair and leaned back in it. She sighed, knowing that it would soon be time to feed Arabella. Funny, she thought, I haven't even seen that Kadoatie since I came in here--and even then I hardly even saw it! She shook her head and laughed a bit to ease her growing discomfort and worry. It didn't work.

     As she opened her book, a brand-new copy of the latest Neopian Times bestseller, she couldn't help but feel that she would get little reading done. After a few minutes, when she realized that she had read the same sentence four times already, she closed the book and put it down. Sighing, she stood up and went into the kitchen. As she filled Arabella's bowl with the Fancy Petpet Food that she had found, she couldn't help but notice that the Kadoatie was still nowhere to be seen.

     She sighed once more and turned her eyes upon the dark stairs. As she ascended them, she kept an eye out for any lamp that she could find. Unfortunately, there appeared to be few upon the second floor. She walked through the hall, whispering Arabella's name, but then, she stopped.

     Slaine turned to her left. Upon an old wooden table sat a brand-new Earth Faerie Doll. There was something... strange about it, though. It looked like it was too big. It was shaped oddly. Its wings were bigger than they should have been. Its head looked oblong, very much unlike the traditional round heads of normal Faerie Dolls. Most notably, though, she had never seen it before. And she had visited quite recently, too! Only a few days before her great-aunt had gotten ill.

     "Arabella," Slaine said, her voice echoing. "Arabella!" She continued to walk through the house, the hall pitch-black. "Arabella!" Her heart was pounding in her chest. The blood pulsed through her veins. She felt terrified, ready for the Kadoatie to jump out at her--

     She gasped, bracing for the unthinkable. But nothing happened. She sighed. She had walked past a window and had seen her reflection, that was all. Stop doing this to yourself, Slaine. There is nothing to worry about. You've been here a thousand times. You know everything that is here! What is the matter?

     Her mind drifted back to the Earth Faerie Doll.

     "Arabella!" she yelled once more, louder this time.

     She closed her eyes and listened. She heard soft purring. She tiptoed through the house, following the trail of purring. "There you are," she sighed as she spotted the Kadoatie across the room that she had just entered. She picked Arabella up and began walking back downstairs. She anxiously longed for the light once more.

     When they walked past the wooden table, she unconsciously stopped once more. She lightly put Arabella down and shooed her towards the stairs. Tentatively, she reached for the Earth Faerie Doll and lifted it from the table.

     Its surface felt rougher than the other Faerie Dolls that she had held before. She lightly rubbed the pad of her paw over it... "What?" she wondered aloud as the green paint began to peel off its dress. "Paint? But Faerie Dolls aren't painted!" More quickly now, she began pulling off the flaking paint--she gasped in horror and dropped the doll. It landed with a soft thud upon the plush-carpet floor.

     Breathing in horrid breaths, she knelt down and picked up the Dark Faerie Doll. There was a sinister glare in its eyes. There was an air of darkness around it.

     Holding tightly onto the doll, Slaine ran down the stairs and pulled open the closet door. She pulled out her grandmother's basic shovel and ran into the kitchen, grabbing the first salt mote that she could see. Without hesitation, she ran out into the backyard.

     Running through the backyard, she entered the woods that surrounded Neopia Central and threw down the Dark Faerie Doll and the salt mote. She took up the shovel and began furiously digging. She had heard of these things before--cursed, poisoned dolls!

     Soon enough, she rested the shovel on a nearby tree and lowered the Dark Faerie Doll into the pit that she had dug. Gathering the salt mote, she scattered it all over the doll. Hardly half an hour later, Slaine was packing the dirt down over the hole, making sure that it was unseen. The last thing that she wanted was for someone to dig it up.

     Pleased with herself, but still startled, she grabbed the shovel and returned home.

     * * *

     "Hello, welcome to the Neopian Hospital," the receptionist, a pink Zafara with a pleasant smile, said to Slaine the next morning. "How may I help you?"

     "I'm looking for a patient named Mala. She was admitted yesterday."

     "Oh, you must be here to pick her up," the receptionist said happily.

     "Excuse me?" Slaine asked, a confused expression donning upon her face.

     "The only patient named Mala admitted yesterday is ready to leave. Overnight, she had the most astounding recovery. She's filling out her paperwork as we speak."

     "Thank you," Slaine said with a smile. A moment later, she asked, "Can you tell me the condition of a patient named Demona? Last I heard, she had been moved to critical care."

     The receptionist fumbled through a stack of paperwork before she answered. "You must be one lucky Aisha--she, too, had a miraculous recovery last night and is being released."

     Slaine smiled and answered, "Yes, I suppose I am a very lucky Aisha." She sighed, turning from the receptionist, and began walking towards a square gathering of chairs. As she sat down, she tasted a bitter taste in her mouth and was reminded of the night before.

The End

 
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