Revisited: Part Four
“There’s no way I’m going in there!” protested the Aisha, backing away from the other six. “Who knows what could lurking in there!” She shuddered.
“Ok. Suit yourself,” said Jenny as they all entered the hallway. The Aisha whimpered but stayed put.
In hushed voices, the pets of the group, minus the Gnorbu mime, of course, tried to guess how long the Aisha would stay behind. None of them would have ever guessed that she would last more than thirty seconds, so they were all surprised when, a minute later, she still hadn’t come bounding after them. The group finally reached the door on the other end of the hallway and paused. As they were about to enter, they heard a scream coming from the bedroom - a scream that sounded like it came from the Aisha. For a split second, everyone froze and looked at each other before suddenly leaping toward the door, trying to put as much distance between them and the room as possible.
Thunder rumbled as the group, now comprised of only six neopets, tumbled into the room, which appeared to be a parlor. The center of the room was occupied by a fancy pool table, and there were couches and chairs everywhere in the small room. There were three doors leading to other rooms, and the Xweetok, with a sneaky smile, suggested that they break up into pairs to explore all three.
“No way!” protested the Usul and Jenny in unison.
“They’re right,” agreed the Kyrii. “What would be the use? If one of the pairs would find an exit, there’d be no way for us all to communicate with each other. Besides, splitting up only gives a greater chance of some of us being caught by the house owners.”
“BUT!” interjected the Xweetok, “that means that if we would get caught, not all of us would get caught at once... the rest would have a chance to escape.”
The other five pets looked doubtful, so Jenny finally put an end to the idea by saying that there was no way they should split into pairs. Just as suddenly as the other times, Jenny was plunged into yet another dream.
This time, the dream involved the young male Lupe. He wasn’t as dressed up as he had been in the ballroom, and this time, it was afternoon. The Lupe grasped a pool stick in one hand and appeared to be having a conversation with a plump Bruce sitting on one of the couches while the Lupe played pool with himself.
“So,” said the Lupe, “this Blumaroo had the nerve to come up to me and demand that I sell the house to him! Of course, I said no.” He said this with a slight accent - nothing strong - but it was enough to alert those hearing him that this pet was a member of the upper class.
“Well, of course!” responded the Bruce in a similar accent, examining a pool ball accented with gold. “Everyone knows that you’re not going to sell this grand house to just anyone.”
The Lupe stopped and turned to stare at him. “Who said I was planning to sell this house at all?”
“You didn’t, exactly... but you did mention that you and the missus had talked about finding a newer, grander house.”
“Exactly. It was no more than mentioned in a short conversation of ours. You see, this house was my father’s. Before that, it was his father’s, and before that, it was his father’s. This house has been in my family for generations! It was built all the way back in Year 2, when this house was of an extent greater than that of any other house in the whole country of Neopia! The only other house that even came remotely close to it was in the Haunted Woods, but let me tell you something about that house in the Haunted Woods,” the Lupe said, starting to get rather intense about his story and laying down his pool stick on the table. “That house didn’t last more than six months. Apparently, there was some huge storm in the Haunted Woods; some lightning hit the house. The house was primarily made of wood, so it never even had a chance. Burned down in only ten hours or so. This house, though... this house...” He looked around the room, inspecting it. “This house is much stronger than the house in the Haunted Woods, and still, after all this time, it is still very nearly the best in the country! It’s gone through remodeling, sure. The kitchen has been redone nearly on a yearly basis, and lights had to be installed a couple of years ago. The house still has its old charm though.” He sighed and picked up his pool stick, aiming to knock a ball into the corner pocket.
The Bruce, overwhelmed by the Lupe’s sudden change of countenance, blinked in response.
Outside Jenny’s dream, the Usul was asking them all which door they should go through. “The center one,” the Kyrii answered immediately.
“The center one? Are you sure?” asked Jenny.
“Does it really matter, though?” he said, sounding as if he was about to start a psychological conversation. “We don’t know where any of these doors lead, so it’s hard to guess which is the best to go through. However, the door on the right most likely leads to the hallway again, where we’ll be seen more easily, and the door on the left, if my guess is correct, leads to a closet. That leaves the center door.” The other pets shrugged and followed him through the door.
Before this narrator could even start to describe this next room, a soft “Meep!” was heard coming from the parlor.
“What was that?!” asked Jenny, whipping around.
“I’m not sure, but - hey! Where’s the Gnorbu?” Sure enough, there were now only five of them. The Usul dared to poke her head back into the parlor, but even through the dark, she could tell that there wasn’t anyone there. As impossible as it seemed, the Gnorbu had disappeared without a trace. And it wasn’t even until several minutes later...
“Wait a minute! Did that mime... make NOISE?!”
“I... I think he did!” Jenny replied, gasping.
The shock vanished as several minutes went by, and they all decided to explore the next room. The door through which they had come had led them into an art studio. Jenny, having once wanted to be a painter when she grew up, was fascinated with the room. Unlike most of the other rooms they had been through, however, this one looked like it hadn’t been used in years. A layer of dust at least an inch thick coated the floor, as well as everything else in the room. Next to the two large, although barred, windows was a low, wooden, and paint speckled counter covered with old, dusty painting supplies. Mostly it was just containers of paints and brushes that rested there, but at the end of the counter, there were also several other objects, such as a bowl of fruit and some seashells. Most likely they had once been used to practice realistic drawing. Jenny wandered over to the counter, her hooves leaving footprints in the thick dust. She opened one of the containers of paint, and it was clear that none of the paint her would be helpful in the least to any painter! All of it was dried solid inside the container, and it was clear that it had been that way for some time. Unfortunately, the fate of uselessness appeared to be the same for the brushes; they seemed to be decomposing and falling apart from lack of use and the effect of time.
All around the room several easels of varying sizes had been set up. Some of them were covered with graying sheets, but a larger one that faced the windows was uncovered. Painted on the canvas was a half-finished portrait of a family of familiar-looking Lupes. Jenny recognized the two older Lupes immediately; they were the same ones she had seen in her daydreams! Was it possible that the things she had seen in her daydreams had... actually happened?
“Yes,” the older male Lupe, who was standing in the back of the picture behind his wife and two younger Lupes, seemed to say. “It is possible.” One would only assume from the painting that the two younger Lupes were the children of the other two Lupes in the picture. The youngest, a female, was still but a toddler, but the older one looked to be of about teenage age. One was blue, like their mother, and the other, a boy, resembled their father and was green. Although the parents of the two children by no means looked old in the picture, it did appear that some time had passed between the times of Jenny’s daydreams and the commencement of the painting of this portrait. And, for some reason, the painting had never been finished. Why?
To be continued...