Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 135,120,765 Issue: 267 | 22nd day of Storing, Y8
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The Freeloader


by lavamitten

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"La, la, la, la, la, la, la! Cleaning is so fun!" The voice broke into my dreams and stole them away like an Aisha thief would steal Neopoints at the bank. I moaned and felt around for a pillow before stuffing it over my ears. There went my brother, Jakalo1, again. It was like this every morning on the weekends. Typically, he leads a very sad life. Or at least I think so. But how could it not be sad when his idea of fun is cleaning?!

      "Rise and shine, dear sister of mine!" Jakalo tore the pillow off my head and dragged me out of my bed by my striped tail. With an irritated yowl, I tumbled out onto the floor as he proceeded to make my bed. "Come on, you lazy Kougra! Get up!" He was in a very good mood that Saturday morning. However, that usually meant I was in a bad one.

      "Jak!" I hissed at my older brother. "Must you do this to me every morning?! Can't I sleep in just once?!" My tail lashed in irritation as he placed a new pillowcase on my pillow.

      "You're as bad as Lavamitten sleeping in like that! I'm just trying to get some work done!" Jakalo said indignantly, turning to me with his hands on his hips.

      "Well, you aren't getting anything done waking me up at four in the morning!" I shot back.

      "And neither are you! You never do any work! I'm surprised Lava doesn't throw you out for not earning your keep, Zhilshe!" he countered, winding up my clockwork Wocky while he dusted off my bed with a feather duster grasped in his whip-like Gelert tail.

      "I do plenty to earn my keep! I-I..." I searched my head desperately for a chore I had completed in the past couple of days. "Well, yesterday, I folded laundry!" I crossed my arms and smirked cheekily at him.

      Jakalo turned around. "Right. I just got done making breakfast, cleaning the bathtub and toilet, washing the windows, doing the dishes, taking down the Christmas decorations, buying groceries, feeding and walking the Petpets, and cleaning out the gutters. And what did you do? You folded laundry." Compared to all the things he had done, folding laundry didn't seem like such a big deal anymore.

      "Well... I--" I broke off. How could I respond to that?

      He shook his head in disapproval. "Honestly, Zhilshe. You never do any work around here. You're just being a freeloader. Lava feeds you and buys you stuff, but you don't do anything in return. I really don't know why she hasn't thrown you out yet." He let out a sigh and headed for another room to clean obsessively.

      I stood there looking quite crestfallen. I hated to admit it... but he was right. And I was wrong. No! I couldn't be wrong! I was never wrong! I'd just go out into town and do some work! I'd bring home oodles and oodles of Neopoints, and then we'd see who the freeloader really was!

     ***

      I glanced at my reflection in one of the windows of our Neohome before I actually went off into town. Over my cat-like figure I had worn some work clothes. They were brown and ragged, but I was doing work and did not intend to work in the clothes I had purchased in Faerieland and the like. I ran a large Kougra paw through the orangey-red hair that I had tied back in a bun. Yes, I had been painted purple a while back, and my fur was mottled with orange stripes and spots.

      After double-checking that I looked decent enough to head out into Meri Acres, I began to walk down our driveway with determination. I don't know what had motivated Lava to move into Meridell, and Meri Acres at that, but it was mostly a nice quiet place when it wasn't under attack.

      Soon enough, I had gotten a job to record guesses at the 'Guess the Weight' game. Pets from all over Neopia come just to guess the weight of some overgrown crop. Silly, I know. Nevertheless, I could get paid for recording guesses and finding out whom the first ten people were to guess it correctly so they could be given a prize. It seemed easy enough, so I gave it a whirl.

      The first few times I had recorded guesses and checked how precise they were to the actual weight of the marrow, I told myself I was doing fine. That's when a few snobs from Faerieland came strutting up with their noses all in the air.

      "'Guess the weight of the marrow', eh? Hmm... My, isn't it huge?" a faerie Ixi asked her Lupe companion beside her.

      "Indeed," the Lupe agreed.

      "Could you please get on with it? There are people waiting in line behind you," I growled, tapping a pad of paper I clutched in my paw with a pencil.

      "Oh, of course. I bet that big marrow is about your weight, darling," the Ixi jeered. My eye twitched, and I felt a vein bulge in my forehead. Throwing down my pad and paper, I hissed and flung myself at the Ixi. I will have you know that I don't weigh as much as that marrow does in Meri Acres. That little snot-nosed goat just wanted to pick a fight, and so she had one coming.

      Soon I had pinned her to the ground, about ready to play tic-tac-toe on her face with my claws before a hand grabbed the collar of my shirt and plucked me up. I hissed and looked over my shoulder at the orange Wocky who ran the joint and had hired me.

      "Zhilshe! Why are you attacking our customers? We'll lose business that way! I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to let you go," he said, releasing me. I fell to the ground and glared at the two snobs as they laughed. Well, so much for that job.

          ***

      Not discouraged yet, I headed for the garden at the 'Pick your Own' game. I was to follow around those who had gone to pick berries to make sure they only picked six berries and visited only twenty areas. The farmer who owned the berry garden told me that not only would he pay me in Neopoints but he would also throw in some berries. Of course, I took the job.

      One customer, in particular, was a Grarrl. So I followed him quietly, leaping into bushes and trees to conceal myself. No one liked to be watched, after all. I monitored the number of berries in the Grarrl's basket... It wasn't long before he had found six items, and he was reaching for a seventh one...

      I leapt out of a tree in front of him.

      "Not so fast! You can only have six!" I shouted triumphantly. He continued to reach for a berry, however, and it irritated me that he had ignored me. "Hey! Only six!" I repeated, stamping my foot.

      He turned to me and smirked. "You're going to stop me from getting more than six? Don't make me laugh! You're puny, after all. What rules can you enforce?" He laughed and shoved the berry into his fat mouth. With my blood boiling, I leapt at his basket and knocked it away with a large paw. With a baffled look, he watched his berries scatter. Bellowing in anger, he turned to me and tried to stomp me. I dodged his foot and leapt at his face with claws outstretched.

      It wasn't long before the farmer heard the ruckus and peeled us apart. I was fired once again, and with a heavy heart, I trailed off into Meri Acres once again.

     ***

      I was sitting down next to a big sign that welcome visitors into our home. 'Meri Acres- Where the Fun Never Stops!' That's what the sign said. Whoever made that sign needed to be dropped off of the Virtupets Station. Jakalo was right--I was a freeloader. I couldn't even get a job to bring home some Neopoints to Lava. I deserved to be thrown out into the streets...

      "Wow, look how high up we are!" I heard a young voice call from atop the Rubbish Dump. I had been ignoring the rancid smell as I sat there, but the voice drew me back to reality, and I recoiled at the rotten stench. Glancing up at the tip of the Rubbish Dump, I saw two young Neopets tottering around and squealing in delight. As I examined the situation more, I realized something. They were pretty high up. The Rubbish Dump pile had gotten considerably high.

      "Oh! You two get down here this instant!" I heard an older voice say. I saw an Acara glaring up at the two younger pets, a Gelert and Kougra, as they hopped from one part of the pile to the other. I looked on with disinterest until the two began bouncing up and down considerably close to the edge. I slowly got to my feet. The part they were bouncing on was breaking away from the rest of the pile. "OH! Get down!" the Acara fretted. Soon the pile crumbled, and the two pets fell down from the huge junk pile with shocked squeals.

      I acted impulsively once again, but this time, it was for the good of others. I pounced at the two young pets and managed to grab the Gelert by the scruff of his neck in my jaws and the Kougra in one paw. Soon I had descended upon the ground, panting as the two young pets wailed.

      "Oh! They're safe! They're safe!" The older Acara knelt down beside them, stroking them as they sobbed out of fright. "...And it's all thanks to you. You deserve something..." The Acara trailed off.

      "...I deserve something?" I echoed.

      "Anything! Anything you want!" she added. What I wanted to say was 'some Neopoints might be nice' or 'can you afford any expensive paintbrushes'? But... somehow, that didn't seem right. I mean, I really wanted to show Lavamitten how great I really was and rub Jakalo's big fat snout in it... But I couldn't take her money. I just couldn't.

      I finally just shook my head. "No, that's okay. I'm just glad these two are safe," I said, giving the two young pets to the Acara. "Saving them was rewarding as it was," I added.

     ***

      Evening fell as I followed the dirt road home, smiling to myself as I went. So I had nothing to show for what I had done? So Jakalo could accuse me of running off to avoid my chores? Let him accuse me. Let him tell me I was lying. I had done something better than he had done all day long.

      While he was at home cleaning, I had prevented two pets from taking a trip to the hospital. And I felt wonderful. In fact, I might have to try this 'working' thing more often... maybe when Pet Rocks fly, though.

The End

Author's note: In case you were wondering, this story was not about Jakalo like 'Of Bluff Cake' was. This story was about Zhilshe, my Kougra, and I'm happy to say that she will be helping others out a lot more often due to this story... I think. ^^;

 
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