Enter the Snowflake's lair... Circulation: 127,331,912 Issue: 258 | 22nd day of Gathering, Y8
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Not a Ghost: Part One

by moonshadow711


Hello. My name is Esci [ess-kee]. I'm a female blue Wocky. My owner makes me go to school, even though it doesn't exist yet. (Don't ask.) Anyway, what I'm writing about started last week at school. Well, technically it didn't start just then, but that's as good a place to begin as any.

      It was Friday, and the last period of the day too. Nobody was paying attention to the teacher. Everyone was just counting the minutes until school was over. Actually, they weren't. They were too busy creating pandemonium in the classroom. My science teacher was trying (and failing) to keep the class in some kind of order. I was trying to do my math homework while keeping my eyes on my textbook. Finally, our teacher decided that it was time to resort to the lowest of tricks.

      "If we don't finish the lesson," she said, "I'll have to assign it as homework." All at once everyone stopped what they were doing and paid attention to the teacher. Or at least pretended to pay attention. I, for one, did not actually listen to the lesson. I was too busy trying to finish my math homework to bother. There were much more important things to do with my time than homework. At least, in my opinion.

      After what seemed like hours, the teacher finished the lesson and assigned homework. Luckily, it wasn't much. I like to put things off until the last minute, and that last minute can get very crowded if a teacher assigns a lot of homework.

      When I got home, I was very tired. I don't live far from school, so I had to walk all the way home in the cold. I was also hungry. There wasn't anything in the school cafeteria that could be identified as food.

      As soon as I got home, I went to the fridge and got myself some ummagine yogurt. I ate it as quickly as I could. When I was done, I ran to my room and got out Eye-Sha. I had borrowed the book from the school library thirteen days ago. It was due tomorrow, and I didn't want to explain to my owner that I had to pay a fine for an overdue book. (Personally, I don't see the point of borrowing books. They disappear in a puff of smoke after you finish reading them.)

      My owner, whose username I cannot pronounce, came home soon and asked if I had any homework. I replied in the negative and went back to reading. (Ok, so I did have homework, but I lied for a good reason. No one in their right minds would rather read a textbook than Eye-Sha.) My owner reminded me that I wasn't allowed to do anything until I finished my homework. Somehow she always knows when I'm lying. Annoyed, I put my book down. She told me she had bought me a paint brush for my birthday. I walked past her. Then the full meaning of the words registered in my brain.

      "You bought a paint brush? What kind? How did you save up for it? How in Neopia can you tell it's my birthday when my age is recorded in hours?" I stopped bombarding her with questions when I realized I wasn't giving her a chance to answer.

      "It's a ghost paint brush, and I found the Neopoints in a random event box." Figures. But a ghost paint brush? I had wanted one of those since I was little! I loved ghost! I started up the questions again.

      "Can you paint me right now? Pleeeease? Do I have to do anything to earn it? Do I still have to brush my fur every morning after I'm painted? Is it really my birthday?" I waited expectantly for a response.

      My owner sighed. "Well, I'm a bit busy with a faerie quest at the moment. But, if you think you can be trusted with a paint brush, then you can run down to the Rainbow Pool and paint yourself. Put on your coat first!" she added quickly. But I was already long gone.

      I reached the Rainbow Pool in record time. Holding the paint brush, I stopped to stare at it. There wasn't even any paint on it... no, now that I looked closer, it was just plain blue like me... but no, it must have been a trick of the light. It was a normal ghost paint brush. My eyes felt sore, and I looked away.

      I dipped the paint brush in the waters expectantly. Nothing happened. I waved it in the air as though it were a magic wand. Nothing happened. Please don't make me have to jump into the water, I begged silently. My prayer did nothing. Already shivering slightly, I forced myself to jump into the icy pool.

      I felt the splash. And then... nothing. The magic of the paint brush must have protected me, I realized. Lightly jumping up onto the shore, I examined myself.

      Oh no.

      The paint brush hadn't worked. I was still a blue Wocky. And now the paint brush was gone.

     For a moment I stood there, frozen. How could the paint brush not work? I didn't know what to do. Numbly, I ran back to the road and almost crashed into a purple Shoyru. I apologized hastily. The Shoyru just walked on, as though they hadn't even noticed.

      I shrugged and started to walk away, feeling slightly relieved. Then I glanced back curiously. It seemed odd that they hadn't noticed, what with the speed I'd been running at... although come to think of it, I didn't remember a collision at all. Suddenly, I turned and ran after the Shoyru.

      "Excuse me," I told them, speaking slightly louder. They ignored me. I took a slow breath. "Hello?" I asked, practically yelling now as I struggled to keep up with the flying pet. "Excuse me, I... think you dropped something." Of course, this wasn't true - at this point I was trying anything I could to get their attention. But it didn't matter, because there was no answer...

      By now I was sure that something was wrong. Maybe I had missed part of the instructions for using a paint brush? I ran back towards the Rainbow Pool, where I remembered there was a billboard with paint brush information. Yes, there it was. I was about to run to it, when something in the water caught my eye...

      I ran up to see what it was. It was mostly submerged, but I could see bright blue fur poking through the surface in a few places. The only explanation I could think of was that another pet was painting itself today. But then why hadn't they already emerged? No one would go swimming in the middle of January...

      Without thinking, I jumped into the pool, bracing myself for the splash. But the water no longer seemed quite so cold. Actually, it didn't seem cold at all. Pretty weird, but that wasn't the most pressing matter on my mind at the moment. First thing was to find out what that pet was doing in the water.

      I swam much faster that I normally did, cutting through the water as though it wasn't there. Soon I had reached the person in the pool. I ducked my head underwater to see who it was. My vision underwater was much clearer than it usually was without goggles, but I didn't stop to puzzle over this. The water was dark, but I had a fairly clear view of the pet in the pool. A small blue Wocky, unusually long-haired. With a startling resemblance to myself...

      Of course, it couldn't be me... but then, how was it possible that someone looking just like me was painting herself on the same day? And a basic color at that... Putting off thinking about the strangeness of the situation, I grabbed her and started swimming to the surface. Or I tried to, anyway. She (or I?) slipped right through my paws. I tried again, with no better result. It occurred to me that I should probably go up to the surface and catch my breath. It took me a moment to realize that I didn't need to breathe. But then...

      I tried to clear my mind and think of what to do. It seemed that there was little I could do for the Wocky in the pool, for now anyway. The next thing, I thought, would be to go get help. Then I remembered the Shoyru, and my mind went blank again.

      I suddenly had an idea. Kauvara. She was supposed to know all about this sort of thing. Surely I could find some way to make her notice me. With this thought, I dashed away at top speed, realized I was running the wrong direction, and ran the opposite way, the dramatic exit spoiled.

      The truth is, I reached the magic shop faster than previously believed possible. If you can't trip or get tired, there isn't much limit to the speeds you can achieve. Still, it seemed like it took me forever to get there. Time flies when you're having fun, but the more important thing to remember is that the opposite is true.

      Usually it takes me a moment to adjust to the light in Kauvara's shop. My eyes were much stronger than before now, so it took me a moment to adjust to the fact that my eyes didn't need to adjust. Kauvara was behind the counter, finding a potion for a customer. I was glad that the store wasn't busy, although it didn't matter much when I could walk straight through people.

      I ran through the customers and the counter. I stopped in front of Kauvara and started talking at lightning speed, forgetting all thoughts of reason. After a moment, I realized that she wasn't listening. Or that she couldn't listen...

      Instinctively I swiped a paw at the potions on the shelf, as it was the first way that came to mind of attracting attention. Of course, it didn't do anything.

      I glanced in a mirror. Despite all the time I had been running through the snow, my fur was as light as ever, even around my paws. It occurred to me that maysbe it was a bit strange that I could be seen in the mirror. Well, it was a magic shop, after all. But if I could see myself... then maybe so could the customers! I immediately started tap dancing, screaming (most likely soundlessly), in short, doing whatever I could think of. And in fact, some of the customers were glancing at the mirror. I froze for a moment, trying to think of a way to communicate. Then Kauvara's voice ruined everything...

     "Don't mind the mirror," she said. "It only shows ghosts..." Most of the shoppers turned away at that. I tried to attract attention, but those who noticed did not seem to think it of utmost importance anymore. I heard Kauvara muttering, "Really, I've got to do something about that mirror..."

      This wasn't doing any good. Even I realized that, much as I hated to. I ran to the door, already trying to think if there was something else I could do for help. But I couldn't run as fast anymore... I glanced at myself, and was alarmed to see that my body had faded so that it could hardly be seen anymore. When had this happened? My legs were slipping through the air. I ran as fast as I could (I think I was going back to the Rainbow Pool), but I just stumbled. Panicked, I tried to run even faster, but couldn't. My vision blurred, and then, without warning, my legs gave way. I collapsed to the ground as I shimmered out of sight.

To be continued...

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