Peas and Carrots: a Soupy Situation
“This pea soup is amazing!” Rain exclaimed, spooning it greedily into her drooling beak. The faerie Pteri was starving.
“Yeah, it is,” agreed Oscar, her best friend, who was a skunk Lupe. He reached for a second helping. “I wonder how your mom does it, Char!”
Char grinned, proud of his mother’s famous soup. It was a chilly, damp day, and this hot pea soup always warmed a hungry Neopet up.
The fire Wocky was always looking for an opportunity to impress his two closest friends. Oscar and Rain had known each other since they were very young, while Char had only moved here roughly a year ago. He felt like a bit of an outsider. To put it bluntly, he was jealous of the close relationship Oscar and Rain had.
Last summer had helped, though. The three friends had been playing tag when Phloosh, a villainous pea-colored Chia, had kidnapped Rain and almost turned her brain to mush—but Char had somehow managed to save her just in time. Ever since that day Char and Rain had become much closer friends.
But still, Char felt a bit out of place with the two. They were his closest friends, but they shared so many memories and experiences that Char felt it would be a long time before he was truly a best friend of both Oscar and Rain.
“All done!” Rain announced, clinking down her spoon. There were bits of pea soup all over her face and beak. Oscar and Char burst out in bouts of laugher. “What?” Rain asked, dumbfounded.
Meanwhile, a certain villainous Chia with a certain villainous laugh was stirring soup of his own in his secret laboratory. His Zebie, Zebie, sat off in the corner and chewed on some purple yarn.
“MWAHAHAHAHA!” cackled the devious Chia. “I have done it! I have found the evilest way to avenge the fall of the Zebinator and finally dominate Neopia!”
“‘Evilest’ is too a word, look it up!” Phloosh spat. “Now come here and observe the power of my concoction!”
The Zebie reluctantly swallowed his yarn and ambled over.
“Now look here, my pet,” Phloosh said, his eyes widening crazily.
Zebie, being almost as tall as his shrimpy owner, stepped up to the steaming cauldron and peered inside.
“I call it—” Phloosh paused for effect, then continued. “PEA SOUP!”
Zebie rolled his eyes and shook his head.
“What’s that? You say pea soup has already been invented? Silly, ignorant Zebie. You have no idea what you are talking about! MWAHAHAHAHA!”
The Zebie went back to his corner to finish his stringy snack.
“Now for the ultimate ingredient,” Phloosh announced, pulling out a tiny, Zebie-shaped beaker filled with an evil-looking red substance. The Chia popped out the stopper and dumped the entire contents into the bubbling pot. It hissed and frothed, causing steam to fly into Phloosh’s evil face in huge bouts.
“AAH! MY EYES! IT’S BURNING MY EYES OUT!” Phloosh cried, falling on his pea-shaped behind. He rolled around on the floor, clinging his face in pain.
Zebie took a huge bite of yarn.
“What do you mean, ‘steam is only water’? If it was water it wouldn’t sting so much, you little—” Phloosh stopped, pulled his fingers away from his eyes, and blinked. “Oh. Never mind.”
Phloosh stood up and grabbed his trusty wooden spoon (which was as tall as he was) and began to stir his brew furiously. It had stopped steaming so much (and besides, steam is only water) and had now become an evil, blood-red color. It no longer resembled pea soup in the slightest.
“Perfect!” Phloosh proclaimed, jabbing his fist in the air. “Those good-for-nothing children will never suspect a thing! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!”
The next day the troupe was again together.
“I’m bored,” Rain said bluntly, staring out the window at the rainy outside. The rain from the previous afternoon had not ceased, and the three friends found themselves stuck inside Char’s house again.
“Yeah,” agreed Oscar. “And hungry.”
“I’ll see if my mom can make her pea soup again, if you want,” Char suggested. Oscar and Rain nodded eagerly. Char walked off to find his mother, leaving his two friends alone in the living room.
“You know what that pea soup reminds me of?” Rain asked after several silent moments.
“What?” Oscar replied.
“That evil pea Chia guy... What was his name again?”
“I dunno. Swoosh or something.”
“Yeah... That guy. He didn’t seem right in the mind.”
“That’s for sure. From what you and Char have told me, he was a complete lunatic!”
“Yep. I wonder where he is now... Probably hiding, eh?”
“He’s right behind you,” came a voice from directly behind Rain.
“Oscar? Was that you?”
“No,” Oscar replied, a horrified look on his face. “It was Swoosh!”
Rain whipped around, and at first she didn’t see anyone, but then she looked down and spotted a tiny, round Chia glaring up at her. She gasped, but then was quite flabbergasted—was this the same villain who had terrorized her over the summer? It seemed impossible. He wasn’t frightening in the slightest.
“Why aren’t you running in terror?” Phloosh demanded angrily. “Is your brain too tiny and useless to comprehend my horrifying appearance?”
“Hey, I wouldn’t be talking about tiny if I were you,” spat Oscar, stepping toward the little man.
“MWAHAHAHAHA!” laughed Phloosh. “Are you trying to intimidate me, you useless fool?”
“Yeah, maybe I am!” Oscar replied, taking another step in the direction of the evil pea Chia.
“W-well, it’s—um...” Phloosh sputtered. He seemed to be losing his nerve and took a step backward. “Well, I don’t care!” he finally said, stamping his foot. “Because what’s done is done, and soon you will be bowing down to me, as your almighty ruler! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!”
“What’re you talking about?” piped in Rain.
“Oh nothing, nothing...” Phloosh replied, rubbing his miniscule hands together in glee. “Now why don’t you eat your pea soup?”
“Fresh-soup,” came a dull voice. Rain and Oscar whipped around to see Char walking into the living room with a tray in his hands. “Come-and-get-it.”
“What’s wrong with Char?” Oscar demanded, glaring at Phloosh. “What have you done?”
Phloosh cackled evilly.
“Liar!” Rain cried, extremely upset. “Change him back to normal!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Phloosh, apparently trying to look innocent (and failing miserably). “Well... Enjoy your soup! Ta-ta!”
And with that the tiny Chia smashed through the nearest window—although the front door happened to be much closer and more accessible—and sped away, “MWAHAHA-ing.”
“Eat-the-soup,” Char suddenly said, walking robotically toward Rain and Oscar, who were now terrified. “Eat-the-soup. Eat-the-soup.”
“What do we do?” Oscar cried over the irritating chanting. “Char’s obviously been brainwashed, unless this is a clone...”
“Look!” said Rain, pointing at Char’s wide eyes. They were oddly blank and... They now had no pupils. They were completely white. Char also seemed to be drooling.
“Char!” Oscar cried frantically. “Char, can you hear me?”
“Yes,” Char replied. “Now-eat-the-soup. Eat-the-soup. Eat-the...”
“Well this is getting us nowhere,” Rain mumbled. Then she gasped, staring at the pea soup—it was now blood-red and quite suspicious looking. “The soup! It’s the soup that brainwashed him!”
“Let’s find Char’s mom,” Oscar said, looking uneasy.
But Char’s mother was the same—oddly blank, no pupils, and chanting “eat-the-soup” robotically. Rain and Oscar locked Char and his mother in a closet and left the house.
“We need to find help,” Rain said.
They went to both the pharmacy and a hospital, hoping for a cure, but all the Neopets there shared the same symptoms as Char and his mother. The epidemic seemed to be rapidly spreading.
Everywhere Rain and Oscar went, these strange zombie-like people followed, if slowly. None of them ran; they all just hobbled along with bowls of soup in hand, forcing anyone within reach who wasn’t infected to eat it. It seemed Rain and Oscar had underestimated Phloosh.
Finally the two friends realized they were rapidly running out of options.
“Fyora?” Oscar suggested as he and Rain climbed a tree to be safe from the chanting zombies.
“No, she’s visiting Kreludor for three days; it was all over the Neopian Times,” Rain replied sadly. “But what about Sophie?”
“Sophie? You mean the Swamp Witch?” Oscar asked, surprised. “How could she help?”
“Well, she makes potions, so she must know how to make antidotes as well, right?”
“Let’s go!” Rain grabbed Oscar’s arm and took off from the tree into the air, hovering for a few seconds while Oscar dangled before landing lightly and letting go. “Does your sister still have that Meowclops?”
“Frisky? Yeah... Why?” Oscar said.
“We’ll need him. C’mon.”
Ten minutes later Rain, Oscar, and Frisky were approaching the dark and mysterious Haunted Woods.
“Rain? Do you know how to get there?” Oscar asked, his voice shaking.
“Uh... I know the general direction...” Rain replied, feeling very unsure of herself.
“Great,” Oscar muttered sarcastically under his breath.
After several moments of fearful silence the duo found a pathway that must lead to Sophie the Swamp Witch’s home.
Sure enough, they soon heard the annoying “meows” of dozens of Meowclops.
“Well,” Rain said, taking a deep breath. “Here we are.”
Oscar didn’t reply—he seemed too anxious to do so.
Rain went up the three rotting steps before the Swamp Witch’s front door and rapped her knuckles on the cracked wood.
“Who is it?!” barked an annoyed voice from inside.
“Erm—” Rain said, unsure of how to reply. “—My name is Rain and I’m with my friend Oscar—”
“What do you want?”
“We, er, need your help.”
Rain jumped as suddenly several bolts and locks from inside were vigorously undone with many whirrs and clicks. The door whipped open just enough for a green head to pop out.
“Do you know who I am?” the Zafara asked, narrowing her eyes at the trembling duo.
“Yes, of course we—”
“Then you should know how busy I am, and that I don’t help anyone!” The door slammed shut.
“Now what are we going to do?” said Oscar. “I’m sure the pea soup has spread all over Neopia by now... We’re doomed!”
“Oh, shush,” Rain said. “I thought this might happen. Give me Frisky.”
Oscar’s face displayed a horrified expression.
“You’re not going to—Rain!”
Rain snatched the Meowclops from his arms and knocked on the door again.
“Rain, that’s my sister’s Petpet! She adores him! You can’t just—”
“I thought I told you to leave!” Sophie the Swamp Witch screeched from inside.
“We have something to offer you,” Rain said calmly.
Sophie peeked out again. Her eyes widened when they fell upon Frisky.
“Why didn’t you say so?” she said, suddenly sweet. “Come in, come in.”
Rain and Oscar hastily explained their dire situation. Sophie listened intently, her eyes on the meowing Frisky the entire time.
“Well,” she said when she had heard everything. “I can try to brew up a cure, but I’ll need a sample of this pea soup stuff first.”
“Fine,” she said, standing up. “We’ll be back as soon as we can with it.” She picked up Frisky and headed to the door with Oscar at her side.
“You can just leave the Meowclops here!” called Sophie, but the door had already shut.
Rain and Oscar decided they should take the soup from the youngest zombie they could find, so it would be easy to fight back if it tried to force the cursed concoction into their mouths. The problem was finding a young zombie—they didn’t exactly have a lot of time to look, what with every zombie near the Haunted Woods chasing them and repeating that awful chant.
After ten minutes of hurried searching, Oscar began to get frustrated.
“It’s no use!” he cried, throwing his arms up in exasperation. The Lupe’s sanity was truly being tested, and he did not seem to be handling the situation well.
“Don’t worry, Oscar,” Rain replied, peeking her head out from behind the tree they were currently hiding behind. “We’ll find a kid-zombie, take the pea soup, and Sophie will find a cure. It’ll all work out!”
They continued to search for a while longer, and finally Oscar found an infected baby Pteri in an abandoned stroller.
“But how do you know it’s infected?” Rain asked. “It’s an egg. It can’t even talk.”
“But look,” Oscar said, pointing. “No pupils!”
“Oscar,” Rain said, running her wings down her face. “It doesn’t even have eyes!”
“Well... Look! It has a bowl of soup!”
Rain saw the steaming bowl and nodded. She also rolled her eyes—were baby Pteris even able to eat soup? Did they have mouths?
Oscar quickly snatched the pea soup from the wiggling egg.
“Okay,” he said, panting slightly. “That was easy. Let’s go back to Sophie’s house.”
“Come i-in,” came a strangely high, sing-song voice from within Sophie’s abode.
When Rain opened the door a strange sight met her eyes. There was a figure standing with its back to Rain and Oscar. It was green, like Sophie, and was wearing her oversized hat and patched dress, but... It was so unusually short!
“Uh... Sophie?” Oscar said shakily.
“Ye-es?” came that strange sing-song voice. Then the figure turned around, and Oscar fainted.
Standing before Rain and the fallen Oscar was--
“Phloosh!” Rain gasped, stumbling over Oscar. She felt a twinge of fear climb up her spine, but then a new feeling fought it down: complete and utter fury and hatred. The tiny Chia who was standing before the Pteri had caused her and her friends so much pain... Rain was now shaking with rage, and the villain seemed to notice and lose his nerve.
“Erm—yes. I am Phloosh. Mwahaha...?”
“You!” Rain cried, advancing on him. “You, after all the pain you’ve caused my friends and me —after your last stupid scheme to kill me and now this one to take over the world—you have the nerve to come in here and try to defeat us?! No! I will not let this happen again! You will pay for this, you runt! You dirty little—”
Suddenly Rain was emitting a stream of angry curses and words she hadn’t even realized she knew. With every syllable Phloosh seemed to sink lower and lower, until finally he was literally lying on the floor, blinking up at Rain.
“A-are you done yet?” he managed to squeak out, which only angered Rain more.
“No I am not done yet!” Rain screamed. “How dare you! I cannot believe that—”
The Pteri stopped and glanced behind her, where Oscar was sitting up. Her loud voice had seemed to arouse him.
“Stop for a second.” Oscar stood up and eyed Phloosh, who was still trembling on the floor. “Where is Sophie?” he asked politely.
Phloosh pointed a shaking finger to the closet behind him. He then pulled out a key and handed it to Oscar. Oscar unlocked the door and out tumbled Sophie the Swamp Witch with an ugly purple and orange rug wrapped around her body.
“Give me my clothes, you miniature twit!” she barked at Phloosh.
And so, despite the villain’s terrifying appearance, Phloosh crumbled under the rage of a teenager. He let Sophie create the antidote, and helped distribute it to all those infected, as long as he was protected from Rain’s sharp tongue, which clearly terrified him. Almost everyone had been infected by the soup, although it had never reached the very top of Terror Mountain or the bustling cities of the Lost Desert, luckily for them.
Phloosh was taken into questioning by the Defenders of Neopia, and, ironically, he was sentenced to community service at the Soup Kitchen for many years to come.
Rain, Oscar, and Char were reunited, and when Rain and Oscar told him how they had given him the antidote before anyone else, he realized he was no longer jealous of Rain and Oscar’s close friendship. It was clear they were all equally friends now.
“So what about that Zebie?” Char asked one day, months after the epidemic. “Is it doing community service, too?”
Oscar and Rain gasped in horror.
And many miles away, in some abandoned laboratory, a Zebie cackled evilly.
Author’s note: Thanks for reading! This is the second story in the “Peas and Carrots” series, and there will certainly be more to come! Neomails are welcome, but guild invites are not, although you may join MY awesome guild... ;)