Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 127,331,912 Issue: 258 | 22nd day of Gathering, Y8
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Getting To Know Ghosts

by babbette19


*Knock, knock, knock!*

      Someone was knocking frantically on the door. "Open up! Open up!"

      Lantanasha was scared; her tail was between her legs, her ears alert, her eyes popping, and her mind - not so much at ease.

      "Hello? Please! Open up, please!" the voice frantically said again.

      Lantanasha was all alone, which made her even more scared, and she looked through the window to see if there was some kind of disturbance that the person could've fled from. There wasn't any in sight, so she moved toward the door, its knob shaking. Lantanasha peered through the little circular hole in the door to see who it was - a young, Grey Lupe.

      "Please! Is anyone in there? Please help!" The desperate Lupe tried once again, and was about to give up before Lantanasha opened up the door, which blasted in snow and freezing cold air.

      "Hello...?" Lantanasha half said, half asked.

      "Hi, sorry for being so rude, but do you have any parcels of food you could spare?" the Lupe asked.

      "Um, let's see... why don't you come in, and have a seat?" Lantanasha asked back gently.

      "Oh, that would be wonderful!" the Lupe exclaimed. "Come on, dear."

      The Grey Lupe was towing a little, baby Lupe. She smiled shyly, and ran behind her mother.

      "Oh, she's gorgeous!" Lantanasha said.

      "Lanta?" the Grey Lupe questioned. "Thank you."

      "Lanta?" Lantanasha asked. "How ironic!"

      "What's so funny about her name?" she asked defensively.

      "Oh, nothing!" Lantanasha laughed. "It's just that it's my name, too! Well, almost."

      "Really?" the sweet, little voice of Lanta came. "What's your name?"

      "Sweetheart, don't be rude," her mother scolded.

      "Oh, no, she's not being rude at all! My name's Lantanasha, but my friends and family calls me 'Lanty'."

      "That's pretty," Lanta complimented her.

      "Oh, but your name's beautiful!" Lantanasha said.

      "Okay, okay." Lanta's mother laughed. "My name is Tala."

      Lantanasha laughed again. "That's my brother's name, almost; his name's Talantasha, but we call him 'Taly'!"

      "How curious!" Tala said.

      "Well, you can come into the living room, and just sit down there, and I'll bring you out some things, okay?"

      "Okay," mother and daughter said simultaneously.

      "Do you like Neodrops?" Lanty asked Lanta.

      "Um, I've never tried them," she said, embarrassed.

      "It's okay, I'll bring some out for you," Lanty said, reaching for a cabinet.

      "Thank you," Lanta said politely.

      "You are welcome!" Lanty said in return.

      Lanta smiled. Their fur before had been a dull whitish color, and they were shivering. But now, their grey and blue colors returned, and they were sitting happily in front of the warm fire, their smiles never fading.

      "Here we go!" Lanty said, serving up some tomato soup. "Enjoy, and feel free to stay as long as you wish!"

      "Really?" Lanta asked, already liking the idea.

      "Lanta, we shouldn't bother them anymore than we have already," her mother said in a hushed tone.

      "Pardon me for budging in, but we have a spare, warm room if you'd like to stay; it'll be no trouble at all! We'll provide you meals," Lanty said, practically begging them to stay; it was like she met a new friend.

      "Well," Tala began.

      "Pleeease?" Lanta and Lanty begged at the same time, Lanta's high-pitched voice rising above Lantanasha's.

      "Okay, but only if Lanty's mother says it's alright!" Tala gave in, laughing like a little girl.

      "Oh, she will!" Lanty said, her big grin never fading.

      As the night slipped by, the three of them were all snuggled together, warmth spreading throughout them.


      In the morning, Babbette, Lanty's mother, slipped in through the back door, quietly creeping in as not to disturb her.

      As she rounded the corner, and almost screamed.

      "Lantanasha! I want an explanation for this!" Babbette screeched. "NOW!"

      "Uh, we better go," Tala muttered.

      "Yes, you should!" Babbette said.

      "Ma, no! Tala, Lanta, stay, please; hold on," and she led her mother into the back room to negotiate.

      "Mama, listen; they have no place to stay, they're really nice, too! They were all cold, and I don't want Tala or her little baby, Lanta, to freeze!" Lantanasha argued.

      "Sweetie, where will they stay?" Babbette said, thinking she outsmarted Lanty.

      "In here!" Lanty almost screamed, pointing to the huge, king-sized bed in the corner with the thick quilts on the end, neatly folded into rectangles.

      "Well." Her mother was dumbfounded. "Fine."

      "Yes!" Lanty curled her paw into a fist, moving it in up and down motions. "Alright!"

      "Sh, now go tell them... when are your siblings coming home?"

      "Um, they said they'd be back tomorrow," Lanty said, confused.

      "Okay...." Babbette said, and briskly walked into the kitchen.

      Lanty ran out, her soft, padded paws barely touching the surface. "You can stay!"

      "Yay!" Lanta screeched.

      "Oh, thank you!" Tala said to her mom, and then to Lanty.

      "No problem," Babbette said, faking a smile.

      "You'll be sleeping in the back room; there's a HUGE king-sized bed with three quilts, just in case it gets really cold. And then I'll bring you breakfast in bed, and then I'll show you around - give you the grand tour!" Lanty said, her humongous smile never fading.

      "Thank you so much!" Tala and Lanta rushed over to Babbette and Lanty to give them a hug.

      Babbette's eyes watered at the sight of the too-skinny Lanta coming over shyly to give Babbette a hug. She picked Lanta up gently, and gave her a small squeeze, afraid of breaking any bones. She didn't let go for a couple of minutes, breathing in the fresh, yet somehow dirty, smell of the Lupe's fur. Pulling back, she tried to hide the tears, and smiled, setting the little blue Lupe down.

      Wiping away a tear, she said, "You guys can stay here as long as you need to; it's no trouble at all - really."

      "Thank you," Tala said, her tears outlining her already damp eyes. "Thank you very, very much."

      Tala reached out for a hug, and Babbette picked up her and Lanta's fragile bodies, and carried them into the back room, setting them on the soft bed. She gently fluffed the pillows, and pulled two quilts over them. She shut the windows, closed the curtains, kissed them each on the forehead, and said softly, "Good night," and left.

      "'Night...." Lanta whispered, slipping into dreamland.

      "Excuse me, ma'am," Tala said, tired.

      "Yes?" Babbette sniffed.

      "Could you please read us a bedtime story... please?" Tala asked.

      "Sure, how about... 'My First Faerie'?" Babbette said, pulling out the blue book.

      "Okay... what's a faerie?" Tala asked, sleepily.

      "Well... it's like a human - me - with wings," Babbette tried to explain. "'Everything a young pet needs to know about their first encounter with faeries'," Babbette read.

      After she finished, both of them were sound asleep, and Babbette quietly slipped out of the room, creaking the door shut, and swiping the puff of smoke out of her face.

      'Hmm, I think I'll....' Babbette was thinking.

      "Mama, could you come here, please?" Lantanasha cried.

      Babbette made her way to her daughter's bedroom, where Lantanasha lay, crying very hard.

      "Mama, my head hurts - really bad!" Lantanasha screamed.

      "Shhh, baby, shh...." Babbette soothed, "What happened?"

      "I don't know!" Lantanasha cried out in pain.

      Babbette started to cry again. Her precious baby looked so stiff, and so pale; 'What am I supposed to do?' she thought frantically. 'I know, I'll go downtown to the hospital, and see what she's got.'


      Babbette made her way to the hospital, crunching through the old leaves that fell previously in autumn, the snow softening her step. She knocked on the frozen door to see if it was open. She heard a muffled 'hello'.

      Pushing open the door, she called out, "Hello?"

      "Hello, dear," a green Gelert said, leaning on the counter. "What may I do for you today?"

      "Well, my baby, Lantanasha, has some kind of disease, and her head hurts a lot, and she's all stiff and pale." Babbette explained. "I was wondering what it was."

      "Well," the Gelert said, pulling out a three-ringed binder and flipping through it. "Let me check my records."

      Babbette looked around the sullen place; there was a small, Island Kougra, slightly shaking her head, bags under her eyes. And there was a Spotted Gelert, looking scared, his eyes popping out of his head. But what really caught her was a frail-looking Baby Lupe. Her ribs were showing, and she was sitting next to a Grey Lupe, the skin and fur around her eye damp.

      "Excuse me," Babbette said, and wandered toward them.

      "Hey - excuse me, are you Tala and Lanta?" she asked, staring right at them.

      No answer.

      "Excuse me?" she said, more clearly.

      Again, no answer.

      "Ma'am, is your name Tala?" she shouted.

      Everyone turned toward her.

      "What?" she said, looking sternly at the Baby Lupe.

      Once more, no answer.

      "HELLO?" she screamed.

      No answer. Babbette picked up her hand, but someone held it tight. She turned around; it was a weary Grey Wocky.

      "What are you doing?" he asked Babbette, looking at her strangely.

      "They won't answer me; they're my friends - really, they are!" Babbette cried.

      The Wocky's Grey fist clenched tighter. "Them?" he said, pointing to the painting she was desperately trying to talk to a moment ago.

      "Uh." Babbette's cheeks turned red, and noticed how dumb she had been.

      "I remember them, too," the Wocky said, unclenching his paw. "They were my friends."

      "Why aren't they your friends anymore?" Babbette asked.

      "Don't you know?" A Maraquan Uni tried to move toward her, but it was hard dragging her tail.

      "Know what?" Babbette asked. "They live with me!"

      The Wocky and Uni looked at each other, shaking there heads.

      "She did that to us, too," they both said. "They're not real!"

      "What do you mean, 'they're not real'?" Babbette asked, looking at them with a crazed expression. "Of course they're real! I held them both!"

      "It seems like you held them," the Uni said, nodding her head, "but they are not real!"

      "It's true," the Wocky agreed.

      "What, about the painting?" a younger Split Buzz asked.

      "Yeah, Merty," the Wocky answered.

      "I 'saw' them once - pretty freaky. They came knocking on my door, looking for food one cold day - like this one, for instance." Merty buzzed. "I let her in, and said she could stay as long as she needed to. I know she's a ghost - you know how?"

      "No," Babbette said, freaked out.

      "After you give 'em food, look in the dish when they're done with it. It'll be as full as it was when you set it in front of them!" Merty said.

      "And," the Wocky said, "when you lay them in bed, the covers will lay flat against the bed."

      "My sister was sick for days!" another bystander - a golden Shoyru - said, joining in the conversation. "She called my mother up, crying. She said her head hurt really bad - and she couldn't move, she just lay there, helpless. My Mama got worried sick! She rushed down here, and asked the nice, green Gelert over there, but she didn't have any information on it. It's a ghost - it gets into your mind."

      Babbette was most frightened by now. She ran up to the counter, said to forget it, and threw a 'thank-you' over her shoulder as she pushed out the door.

      "We didn't tell her what she should do...." the golden Shoyru said.

      "She should know to kick Tala and her daughter out," the Wocky said.

      "Nah, she won't do that - first, she's gonna check for all the signs," Merty challenged.

      "I'll go after her," the Maraquan Uni said, flipping her tail into a wheeler.

      "I just hope they aren't brainwashed," the Island Kougra said.

      "Me, too," the other Spotted Gelert said. "It's scary! Did you ever look into their eyes? Nothing."


      Babbette burst through the door, rubbing her hands together to keep warmth in them.

      "Lanty!" Babbette cried. She heard a groan.

      "Baby, I'm coming!" She jogged up the stairs, and opened her daughter's door. "Are you alright, sweetie?"

      "Mmm...." Lanty mumbled, her mouth barely moving.

      "It's okay, shhh," Babbette soothed. "They have to leave, Lanty."

      She quietly closed the door behind her, and made her way to the back room.

      When she got there, they had gone. And all that was left was a little spotted scarf from Lanta.

The End

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