Journey Under the Bed
Dedicated to every Neopian who still dreams of being a pirate. Or a Faerie.
Whichever they may prefer.
Elinor was bored. Elinor hated being bored. When she
was bored she felt dizzy and got a pain in her neck. Dizziness and neck-pains
are best avoided, so the spotted Xweetok was eager to find something to do.
"I'm bored," she announced downstairs. To her
dissatisfaction, no one took any notice except for her sister Adeline's Angelpuss,
who stretched himself out and rolled over, looking up at Elinor with a big grin,
clearly meaning to say, "Aren't I just so cute? Really? You don't think so?
You're lying, then."
"No, I'm not," said Elinor, who ordinarily thought
the Angelpuss was nearly as cute as Elinor's own Jinjah, Bake-Lightly, but the
pain in her neck was making her grumpy.
Her mother looked vaguely up from her copy of
the Neopian Times. "What did you say, dear?"
"I'm bored," Elinor repeated.
"Clean your room," suggested her mother.
"No, I said I'm bored," explained Elinor very
carefully. "I didn't say I was so overwhelmed by excitement that I needed to
do something boring to overcome it."
"Play with Bake-Slightly."
"Bake-Lightly," corrected Elinor. "He's become
a fitness trainer for other Petpets. His catchphrase 'Run-run-run-as-fast-as-you-can'
is excellent for increasing their stamina. Only it's not going too well, because
a lot of Petpets are somewhat lacking in the leg department."
"Have a look at all the junk on your desk, and
put it away."
"That sounds like a suspicious variation of 'clean
your room'," said Elinor.
"Look at all the stuff under your bed," said
her mother. "You might find something interesting."
"That sounds like a suspicious variation of 'have
a look at all the junk on your desk, and put it away'."
"Picky, aren't you?" said her mother, sounding
frustrated. "Well, I can't suggest anything else. Go to your room and leave
me in peace to read the Times."
Elinor sighed as she stomped up the stairs to
her room. "It's not even that messy, either," she grumbled as she looked around.
"I put most of the stuff that was cluttering up the space under my bed."
She stuck her hand under her bed and pulled out
a piece of paper. "Maybe I will look underneath anyway," she said as she turned
the paper over. It was a maths test. Her smile disappeared. A failed maths test,
to be precise.
"But why would I want to look at things that
I put under the bed because I didn't want to look at them?"
Because she was far too curious for her own good,
She stuck her hand underneath again and retrieved
a red sequined dancing shoe that she had thrown under the bed after discovering
that they no longer fit, and two different coloured socks.
After several more minutes of retrieving mysterious
items, Elinor had quite a pile of discarded junk in front of her, ranging from
the silver butterfly necklace that was missing a clasp to a Jazzmosis single
with a scratch on it.
Her older sister Adeline, a pink Xweetok, poked
her head in through the door suddenly. Like most older sisters, Adeline was
bossy and enjoyed sticking her nose in things. "What are you doing?"
"What are you doing?" mimicked Elinor, who was
busily concealing the scratched Jazzmosis record underneath an old picture book;
she had a strange feeling it might have been Adeline's to start with. "I thought
you didn't want to entertain me."
"You were so quiet I thought you must be up to
something," said Adeline with irritating supremacy. "What is all that stuff?"
"I'm trying to decide if any of it can be your
next birthday present, or if it's really too good to be wasted on you," said
Elinor, holding up something that might once have been a blue sock patterned
with pink Shoyrus, but was now covered with something green and slimy.
Adeline threw something at her, but it missed
and flew under the bed. "Very amusing, Elinor. That was actually a chocolate
chip cookie that I threw at you, but I guess you won't want to eat it now."
"Wrong! Ten second rule!" Elinor rolled under
the bed with surprising swiftness. "It had only been eight, so" - there was
a crunch - "so no ove goot" - there was a swallow - "now I've got my cookie
after all. Ha!"
There was no reply from Adeline. She had obviously
Elinor was about to roll out again (there was
rather a disdainful smell under there) when she decided, just for the fun of
it, to roll in the opposite direction and come out the other side. She remembered
that she and Adeline used to play Journey Under the Bed when they were younger,
and the other side was always an amazingly fascinating place. Adeline said it
was Faerieland, but Elinor said it was Krawk Island, and tried to chop off Adeline's
head with her cutlass.
"Arr!" shouted Elinor, and rolled out the other
side. "Avast, me hearties, and beware the wrath of me sword, for I be Cap'n
Elinora the--" She tried to decide whether to be 'Brave' or 'Dastardly', and
opened her eyes.
She gasped in surprise. Instead of her rather
dusty yellow ceiling, she was looking up at the sky, and instead of her dark
blue carpet, she was lying on a creaky wooden platform in the middle of -
"Aye! Land ahoy!"
- what was no doubt a pirate ship. It did, in
fact, look exactly like Elinor had imagined a pirate ship might look like. There
were pirates with Pawkeets on their shoulders, holding bottles of
("Yo ho ho and a bottle of grog!" shouted one
of them) and most of them had only one leg. There was the familiar skull-and-crossbones
flag wavering in the wind, but the skull appeared to be that of a Xweetok.
Elinor was astonished. In all their years of
playing Journey Under the Bed, it had never been so real as this.
"Aye, lass!" cried out someone behind her. "Cap'n
Elinora! Have ye decided where we shall set our course?"
A Wocky was standing behind her, resting on his
peg leg. "Rusty Joe's a-saying that the winds be in the direction of Mystery
Island today, an' the current's goin' north. What be your choice?"
Elinor considered this. She had never been to
Mystery Island. They went on a family vacation to Meridell each year, and Elinor
had never enjoyed it much. It had always been too peaceful for her liking.
"Let's go to Mystery Island," she decided. "We
can hoard gold from the natives." She threw her head back and bellowed, just
like she had done in her younger years of Journey Under the Bed, "MAKE WAY FOR
MYSTERY ISLAND! HOIST THE SAILS! START WORKING AND STOP SITTING AROUND ON YOUR
"Are's we making berth at the south side as usual,
Cap'n?" inquired the Wocky.
Elinor deemed it to be so, and threw her head
back again and hollered the news at her crew.
As the crew began to steer the pirate ship towards
Krawk Island, Cap'n Elinora explored her pirate ship. It was just the right
size, with a large room in the center filled with a globe of Neopia and lots
of maps. There was a large round table with a stack of cards and a box of dice,
so they could play Cheat and Bilge Dice, two of Elinor's favourite games. The
bunkrooms had canvas blinds, just as they always had in her years of Journey
Under the Bed.
The Wocky, she found out, was called Sonny Jim.
Everyone said it was because he remembered his parents calling him that when
he was younger, so it must have been his name. Elinor did not bother to point
out that Sonny Jim was not usually a name - just something silly that parents
often called younger male Neopets. It was like how her great-aunt always called
her 'young lady', even though the Xweetok would prefer to be called Cap'n Elinora
Rusty Joe, she discovered, was a toothy pirate
Draik with a wicked grin and a habit of playing practical jokes. Elinor immediately
sensed a kindred spirit. Her favourite thing to do was sneak up behind her sister
and tap her on the opposite shoulder, causing Adeline to look left instead of
right and say, "What? Who's there?"
She nearly always fell for it. That one was almost
as good as the old "spread chocolate coated peanut butter on sister's face
while asleep" trick, so that Adeline frequently woke up looking like she'd
dipped her face in the mud.
"AHOY!" bellowed Rusty Joe. "WE'RE A-COMING TO
TH' ISLAND! LOWER TH' ANCHOR!"
Elinor looked out to see azure sea and golden
sand. She could see the Island natives playing volleyball on the beach. It was
infinitely more attractive than Meridell, which had hit upon the happy habit
of raining absolutely every single day.
Something caught her eye in the direction of
the cliffs. They were mostly sharp, black and jagged, but there was a faint
hint of gold twinkling there, next to a bit of grass growing on the side.
"Sonny Jim!" she called to her right-hand pirate.
"D'you see that twinkle a' gold yonder?"
"Where, Cap'n?" asked the Wocky. "The ol' eyes
aren't what they used to be."
"Just up, north-east - that cave yonder."
Sonny Jim squinted. "Well, I'll be. Aye, y' right,
lass. We've bin past that cliff many a time and never seen it. Mebbe someone's
started usin' it as a hidey-hole."
"Let's go an' see," said Cap'n Elinora. "It could
be somethin' interesting, couldn't it?"
Jim nodded. "We'll go an' take a look."
Cap'n Elinora and her crew climbed down off the
ship and waded over to the cliff.
"Where'd you see th' gold, Cap'n?" asked Rusty
"Just over here." She sloshed through the warm
water over to where the grass was growing. "I saw it here." She scanned the
cliff, trying to see where the light might have come through.
Sonny Jim cocked his head left to right, trying
to catch the golden twinkle in his eye. "See that hole there, lass? You reckon
it might've been through there?"
The Xweetok put her eye to the tiny hole in the
cliff. She stumbled back, blinded. "It's real bright," she said. "I reckon it
might be treasure."
"TREASURE!" chorused the pirates happily.
"Scout the area, the lot o' you," the Wocky
ordered. "Make sure you don't miss anythin'."
"Aye!" chortled the pirates, and splashed their
way through the water.
It was a warm sunny day. Elinor was very happy.
The water wasn't very deep where she was standing, but she lay down on top of
the water, and paddled around in the shallows. Her crew was wading all around
As she breathed in the clear air and let the
water run through her toes, Elinor wondered what was happening back at her home
in Neopia Central. Would Adeline have realised she had disappeared? Or (she
liked this theory better) was there another Xweetok taking her place until she
got back, playing with Bake-Slightly and smearing chocolate-coated peanut butter
on Adeline's face?
The one thing she did not question was how she
had come to be here in the first place. Elinor was not the type to do that.
Rolling under the bed and coming out into one's own pirate ship might have shocked
some people, but Cap'n Elinora took it in her stride.
It was Old Kat the Bag Lady who found the entrance
to the cave. (Her name did not derive from the fact that she stood on street
corners with a bag asking for Neopoints, but that she stole both bag and Neopoints
from other Neopians. However, the old part was more or less accurate - the Pteri
was so old she couldn't remember her own age.)
"I've found a nentrance!" she squawked.
"A nentrance?" said Elinor, confused.
"An entrance," explained Rusty Joe.
"Just through 'ere!" Old Kat screeched. "I kin
see the gold! It's real pretty!"
The pirates splashed their way over to the cove.
Old Kat had found a jagged hole on the opposite side of the cliff. To the left
of the hole Elinor could see the golden twinkling that had captivated her crew.
"The cap'n goes first," ordered Sonny Jim. "In
you go, lass."
Elinor climbed through the gap and let a little
squeal of surprise as she sank down into deep water. Her feet could touch the
"Y' right, lass?" inquired Jim.
"It's deep!" the Xweetok called, and began to
swim towards the gold. One by one the pirates climbed through the gap, splashed
into deep water and followed her.
It was much colder and darker inside the cave
then out in the warm sunshine of the Island.
Elinor could not see much at all, except for
the ever-alluring golden twinkle. She could hear the rest of her crew splashing
along the passage in front of her.
"Slow down a little," she called out, and the
noise echoed down the passage. No one replied.
Elinor waved her hand in front of her face. She
couldn't see it at all.
"Hello?" she called out. "Anyone still there?"
The echo repeated it as if mocking her, all the way down the passage. Elinor
turned around in the cold water. She could not see which direction she had come
She shivered a little. She could not hear the
sound of her crew any more. The golden twinkle was no closer than it had been
from her pirate ship.
Elinor squinted in the darkness. If she swam
towards the side of the passage, she might be able to use that as a guide. The
passage had to come out somewhere. She hoped it would end in the wide open seas;
even the darkness and chill could not hide the claustrophobic surroundings,
and it was starting to affect her.
All of a sudden she heard the sound of water
coming towards her. "Sonny Jim?" she called out. "Is that you?"
However, it did not sound like anyone swimming.
The water sounded as if it was traveling from far down the passage, almost as
if a huge wave was coming towards her. It could easily be a huge wave coming
towards her. She tried to find her footing on the ground, and realised she could
no longer touch it.
Fear gripped her. Had it been low or high tide
when she had arrived on the beach? The water was definitely rising. And the
sound of that huge wave was growing louder every second. Elinor tried to let
out a scream, but the scream was drowned by the enormous body of water that
was engulfing her.
The spotted Xweetok could not breathe. She could
not see. She could have been upside down in the water for all she could tell.
It was freezing inside the cave, and the water was knocking her from side to
side. Yes, she was now quite sure it had been low tide when they had arrived
on the beach.
Elinor gasped and choked on the water. Her thoughts
travelled briefly to Sonny Jim, Rusty Joe, Old Kat and the rest. Perhaps they
were all safe. She hoped they were. Another minute under this water and it would
be too late... not only for them, but for her.
Then air and warmth burst into every one of her
senses. She breathed it in with relief and opened her eyes.
For the second time that day, she gasped in surprise.
(She had gasped other times, but that had been for air.) Instead of the sky,
she was looking up at her rather dusty yellow ceiling, and instead of a creaky
wooden platform, she was lying on her dark blue carpet in the middle of -
"Elinor, what on earth are you doing down there?"
- what was no doubt her old, boring bedroom,
with her older sister looking down at her.
Adeline reached down and picked up a pillow lying
next to Elinor's head. "What were you doing with this over your face? Surely
you couldn't breathe or see with this thing."
Elinor was still drinking in the beautiful, sweet
air. She sat up and stared at her older sister.
Cap'n Elinora would just have to wait.
"Oh, well," she said airily. "It was nice not
to have to look at you for a few minutes, but we can't have it all, can we?"
Adeline did not reply. Instead, she stared down
at the bed, and then looked on either side of it. A knowing smile crossed her
She reached out to help Elinor up.
"Next time," she said, "can I play, too?"