Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 183,344,781 Issue: 279 | 16th day of Awakening, Y9
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Petpet Adventures: Runaway - Part One


by rachelindea

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Folfeux snuck through a doorway, keeping to the shadows. Her small, lithe body glided across the floor noiselessly. If she could just make it outside before her pet woke up. As she took the next step, she tripped over the carpet, and fell into a messy heap on the ground, her bushy tail fluffed out.

     The large, overweight, green Gelert dozing on the couch sat up, and the couch creaked dangerously. The pet stared around the room as if seeing it for the first time, then spotted Folfeux lying on the ground in an undignified heap.

     “Hey you, get over ‘ere,” he grunted, reaching out with one grimy paw.

     Folfeux flinched at the harsh voice and scurried over. Folfeux was a Juma, a petpet, and right now she was trying to please her pet. Well, not exactly please, just stop him from yelling. She had almost made it out of the house without waking him and she whacked herself on the forehead for tripping.

     The Gelert bent over her and she could smell his horrible breath. She disliked her pet, but there was really nowhere else to go.

     “Get over ‘ere,” he grunted again.

     Most petpets would not have been able to understand the speech of pets, but it was no problem to Folfeux. She had mastered understanding it long ago – although she couldn’t yet speak it – due to complete and utter boredom. Her pet never played with her, and sometimes she wondered why he even brought her home. Thus she had raided his attic and found a heap of dusty books, obviously not read, because she highly doubted that her pet could read.

     Slowly she had taught herself to read pet, and now she could even understand what her pet was saying. Not that he ever said anything interesting. He wasn’t even in the house most of the time.

     The Gelert heaved her onto the couch next to her and stared intently at her face.

     “What am I going to do with you?” he asked. “You can’t even fetch, or track, or anythin’ that would be useful to me.”

     Folfeux shifted uncomfortably. She understood what he was saying, but why did she need to learn those things? Besides, it was very demeaning acting out tricks for pets unless she had good reason, or even remotely liked them. And she had no soft feelings for her pet.

     The Gelert’s brow furrowed. “Ah, you useless petpet. One day I’m gonna find a Juma that actually ‘as a brain.”

     He shoved her off the couch. Shaking herself off, Folfeux slunk towards the door. The insult didn’t sting her. After all, the Gelert probably had fewer brains than her. But he was still bigger and she didn’t want to be in his company for longer than necessary.

     The door hung open and she walked straight out, leaving the house behind. Not that there was anything wrong with the house. She turned and surveyed it. From the outside it looked like a perfectly acceptable Shenkuu home. It looked almost exactly like the houses around it, with wooden walls and a terracotta roof that sloped down on four sides. But the inside was so dirty Folfeux couldn’t walk inside for fear of being buried. And it was full of junk. The Juma had no idea where it all came from. Her pet just turned up with it.

     Now the garden was a completely different matter. Unlike the house, it looked nothing like the other gardens around it. Instead of lush shrubs and soft grass, there was a prickly lawn dotted with spiky bushes that did nothing to improve the state of her brown and orange coat. But it was better than the house, and even better when her pet wasn’t occupying it.

     Folfeux made her way to the softest patch of grass on the far corner of the garden and curled up into a ball. It was so peaceful. She shut her eyes and was about to fall asleep when the rustle of someone approaching reached her ears. She knew it wasn’t her pet; he had a heavier tread. She looked up.

     A Kazeriu stared at her from the other side of the wire mesh fence. She recognised it as her neighbour, Asmaral. Asmaral gripped the fence with two yellow tipped paws and her light blue tail floated behind her like a blue flame wavering in the breeze.

     “Hello, Folfeux,” she said airily. “Are you enjoying yourself?”

     The question sounded innocent, but both of them knew what it meant.

     The Juma smiled and uncurled her body. “Yes, I am,” she answered. “I woke my pet up, but I managed to escape in a couple of minutes.”

     Asmaral sighed. “You really don’t like him, do you?”

     Folfeux was paying attention to watching her friend. Asmaral was not aware of just how beautiful she was. She had entered more than a dozen petpet contests – and had won most of them – but she never boasted or seemed to notice at all.

     Asmaral waved a claw. “Hello, are you listening. If you don’t like him, you should find another pet.”

     Folfeux shook her head. “Sure, I’ll just walk off and hope another pet picks me up,” she said sarcastically. “If I did that it would be so demeaning, and you know I don’t do demeaning things.”

     Asmaral opened her mouth to say something, then stopped and peered past Folfeux’s shoulder.

     “Well, hello there, Folfeux. You don’t look at all pleased.” The voice drifted over from the other side of the fence and the Juma spun around.

     Through the wire fence peered a white head covered with the blue-black markings of a Sandan. She recognised him as an old friend who always popped in to visit when he was in the area. He was a stray, but he seemed to be living a much better life than her.

     “Archilles,” she exclaimed happily.

     The Sandan smiled through the fence, his fur mussed up as it always was. “Glad to see me?” he asked. Then he lowered his voice. “I’m not surprised. The way your pet treats you is not acceptable. You should leave.”

     Asmaral turned to him. “Exactly what I was saying.”

     Folfeux licked a paw. “Acceptable? Big word, isn’t it? I’m surprised you know what it means,” she teased.

     Archilles grinned at the joke and then turned serious. “I’m not joking. You should come with me. I know you’re always complaining about your pet, and if you run away, you’ll be free of him forever.”

     Folfeux was stunned, and from the look on Asmaral’s face, so was she. “I can’t just run away,” she objected, and pointed with one paw towards the fence. “That’s, like, three metres high. I can’t jump it.”

     Archilles sighed. “Well, climb it then,” he said.

     Folfeux shook her head. “I don’t know. Besides, Asmaral isn’t coming, and I don’t know how to look after myself.”

     “That’s why I’m here, silly,” Archilles said, grinning. “I know Shenkuu like the back of my paw. I can take you to all the places. And I know where to find the best food.” He winked.

     “You and your belly,” Asmaral sighed dramatically. The Sandan grinned at her.

     Folfeux was still doubtful. “How come you’ve never offered this before?” she asked.

     Archilles grinned. “Because now I know a lot more petpets. And they know me. I’m quite popular now.”

     “And you weren’t before?” Asmaral commented; a touch amused.

     “Well, no,” the Sandan admitted. “Come on, Folfeux. You and I both know you don’t want to stay here.”

     Folfeux could see that he was right. She looked dubiously at the fence. Finally uncertainty hardened into resolve and she lifted a paw.

     And suddenly a green paw fastened itself around her middle and lifted her up. It was her pet.

     “C’mere,” he told her. “I want you to come inside and start learnin’ some stuff. You’re no use if you can’t do any tricks.”

     “No use for what, ugly?” Folfeux growled in petpet. She was thankful that he couldn’t understand petpet.

     She saw Archilles wave at her frantically. “Tomorrow,” he shouted. I’ll meet you here tomorrow.”

     Folfeux tried to nod and was about to say something when her pet carried her inside the house. He dumped her on the floor and glared at her.

     “Look ‘ere,” he said. “I want you to pretend I’m an intruder. Now attack me.”

     Why on Neopia did he want her to attack him? Folfeux shrugged. If he wanted an attack, she’d give him one. She growled low in her throat and lunged forward.

     Her pet easily scooped her up. “Ah, you’re useless. I need a real petpet for the job, not you,” he spat.

     Without another word, he turned and stormed out of the room. Folfeux twirled to the door, only to find it closed and locked. Sighing, she resigned herself to being stuck in the house for the rest of the day.

     * * *

     Folfeux woke up and stretched. Today was the day she was going to run away. Of course, it could have been yesterday if her pet hadn’t barged in. She opened her eyes and glared at the door. But instead of seeing the door, she found herself looking into the face of another Juma.

     “Well, well, well. You’re finally awake,” he said nastily.

     Folfeux stopped glaring. He was half again her size, and his teeth looked incredibly dangerous. His voice had a slight hiss in it and his fur was ripped and torn.

     “What are you doing in my house?” Folfeux asked.

     She watched as the other Juma carelessly flicked his tail. “You mean our house. I live here now. Soon to be just mine.”

     Folfeux’s jaw dropped and the Juma continued, “I had no idea why I had suddenly moved here until I saw you. You look so incredibly weak; no wonder I was sent here to replace you.”

     “Replace me?” Folfeux growled, bending down.

     The Juma laughed nastily. “So you don’t know, do you?” he cackled. “Your owner just happens to be one of the greatest robbers in Shenkuu. And all great robbers need a petpet to help them. And a smart petpet.” He emphasized the word smart. “And you obviously aren’t smart.”

     Folfeux couldn’t help but laugh. “My pet, a great robber? He wouldn’t know the first thing about planning a robbery. He has no brains.”

     The Juma looked down at her haughtily. “Who said anything about him planning them,” he growled.

     “So who plans them then?” Folfeux snapped.

     “Me,” the Juma answered. “I have a lot of intelligence.”

     “I am smart,” she snarled, narrowing her eyes. “I can speak pet.”

     I was partly a lie, because she couldn’t actually speak it, she just knew it. But the Juma didn’t even look impressed.

     “So can I; the basic sentences anyway. What can you say? Hello?”

     Folfeux could understand a lot more than that, but she didn’t get a chance to speak before her pet barged into the room. He stared at the other Juma and smiled.

     “I see you found her, Malei. Now you can do your job,” he said, and although he spoke in pet, the Juma seemed to understand.

     He turned towards her and began advancing menacingly. Folfeux cringed. She had no idea what the job was, but she didn’t want to hang around and find out. Without hesitation, she pelted towards the door.

To be continued...

 
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