One Hundred Years of Laughter
Exita really liked balloons. She liked them so much so that
as a child, when it was her birthday, she'd ask only for balloons, and would toss
aside any actual presents given to her in favor of those floating temporary friends.
She loved how they would bob around the room and, no matter how hard you hit them,
they always swung by their string like they were laughing at you and eventually
drifted back. When the helium was all gone and the bulbous Kikos, Aishas, and
Chias hit the floor, she quietly folded them up and tucked them away in a bottom
Exita was a Krawk who lived at the shores of
Krawk Island and who never really grew up. She was still in her teens, and she
still got a bit kick out of watching Food Club competitions without wagering
and pulling pranks on would-be Smuggler's Cove profiteers. No matter how many
times you did it and no matter what anybody said, putting Faerie Paint Brush
Plushies and broken Battledome equipment out was a really excellent joke. And
so it was in this way that Exita never went to neoschool and got a job cleaning
petpet cages at Krawk Island Nippers.
One day as she was making her way around the
Piraket cages she saw a lonely balloon out on the black shores beyond Little
Nippers. She ran out of the store and approached it.
She approached it. It hovered at eye-length somewhat
ominously, and by its markings she could tell that it was a Neopets Year Two
balloon (as in it had "YEAR 2" in big letters on it). It looked completely average
except that Neopia had celebrated its 2nd anniversary about five years ago and
most balloons only lasted a couple of weeks at most. Also, she was a world-renown
expert on balloons (in her own mind) and had never heard of an official YEAR
2 balloon even existing.
She took a step backwards and the balloon turned
to face her; that is, it pivoted slightly so that the YEAR 2 print was dead
center in front of her face. Her eyelids half-closed because, suddenly, she
realized clearly that it was a perfectly normal thing to find something that
shouldn't exist on so many levels. It was very special. She reached out to touch
Five years into the past was long before Exita's
time so she hid in the Haunted Woods like the mutant she currently was. Because
Krawk Island was not discovered until a couple of years later it did not yet
exist in the minds of anyone, so that when she let go of the balloon she was
on the shores of Neopia and did not know how to get back. Even worse, the new
balloon was gone. She slept in the Haunted Woods, unsure if that was even supposed
to exist. YEAR 2 was an eternity backwards to her. She decided to wait in the
woods until Krawk Island was found.
She spent one year in solitude in the middle
of the (not-so) Haunted Woods. But she was not very lonely because there were
now many, many balloons. She would hunt for food far away from Neopian eyes
and would run into a passing airborne Meerca. Another day it was a Kiko, and
another day, it was a Cybunny, so she felt like she got closer to the future.
She always reached out to the balloons and carried them around with her, hoping
they could take her forward, and when they fell to the ground she folded them
up and stacked them in a hollow tree trunk. The next year, she saw a red-and-blue
striped balloon with bold writing crouched between two bushes. She hurried over
to it and hoped it was a balloon from the future.
The balloon turned to face her. In the always-eerie
moonlight she could see YEAR ??? stamped across its smooth face. The shadows
of the twisted forest oaks made it look like it was grinning to her.
"A very rare misprinted balloon! This one is
an oddity without a number, a factory error!" She reached out for it.
For awhile time ran backwards. The fallen balloons
popped out of the tree trunk one by one; round shapes, ovals, stars, smiles,
Cybunnies, Kikos and Meercas. Then with a small pop they blinked out of existence
and she found herself floating... because before there could be balloons, there
was only helium. She was in the time before Neopia.
She hung in the air for years. Because food hadn't
been invented yet she didn't need it, and because Neopets didn't exist yet,
she didn't need water or air or any staple of the Neopian atmosphere. Sometimes,
in the distance she could see little round and oval shapes and once, she thought
she saw an Aisha; but she could never reach that far and she kept floating up
in the whiteness of space and time. She lived on laughter. It was very funny
that she could exist before her own time.
Many years later she was still laughing, and
she started to see animals up above (or rather, what she assumed to be above;
there was really no way to tell for sure). Buildings rose up from swirling clouds
and she had found Faerieland, which had existed as long as anyone could remember...
and she was the first to place it in her memory. Faeries didn't exist yet so
she sat on the clouds and laughed in a sea of faceless and shapeless balloons
while the dark side of Kreludor faced Neopia and the sea swirled below.
The balloons began to disappear below the clouds
and sank into the sea and land. From the shadows of the sky world came the air
faeries, and Exita took a Gold Balloon down to the sea. She giggled as many,
many balloons floated on the surface of Neopia's future ocean.
From then on she played. She clung to balloons
to fly wherever she wanted; she punched balloons on Kreludor until they made
craters; she popped balloons above the sea until the rubble made islands. She
took a balloon to Terror Mountain, and one back down, and tied two together
and swung back and forth and laughed. She tied balloons around each other to
make the shapes of animals of a time long ago and left them in the fields of
the mainland. She left the misshapen ones in the west in what would later be
her refuge in a time where she didn't belong, and she put her favorite shapes
somewhere far, far away on an island in the sea where they could live in peace
until civilization found them. When she was tired she slept in a clear balloon
at the bottom of the eastern sea and the last of the shapeless balloons crowded
around her until they made a world below the sea, so that Neopets could take
on many shapes and exist everywhere on the planet. Neopia was her interminable
playground, and she fed on laughter.
Because she had existed before her own time she
was now only a figment of her own imagination. In the times when she had floated
before time itself she had left her mind in YEAR 2, and when she found it again
she realized she didn't exist. So that in YEAR 7 on the day that would be her
day to leave her world she remembered the events of the past and her one hundred
years of laughter and came to wonder if she hadn't left time and existence behind
in YEAR 2, but had really only left her mind behind. When she finished cleaning
out the Piraket cages, she ran out to the beach and found a bunch of birthday
balloons all tied together. She reached out for them and smiled.