Running Faster than Destiny: Part Four
“I think I know why Twitch wouldn’t be able to race again if he didn’t set things right,” Kari announced.
“And why’s that?” her grandfather asked her.
“Because he wouldn’t love racing anymore,” she answered, “and he would never know if he could have won on his own.”
“That’s exactly right,” Gar agreed.
“Now, Twitch is just eaten up with guilt because he feels sorry for Greysoon,” Kari added, “But how can he fix everything? Even if he admits the truth, won’t he still be under Onyx’s spell?”
“Those are excellent questions,” complimented Gar, “and at this point, Twitch was wondering the same thing...”
Twitch sat in his bedroom, staring at the golden trophy upon his desk. It glistened like the sun in the available light, and Twitch could see his image reflected in the shiny surface. ‘First Place’ the trophy proclaimed, but Twitch knew it was lie. He hadn’t truly won that race. In fact, he didn’t even deserve a second place ribbon. Everyone was calling him a winner, but right now he was the biggest loser in all of Neopia.
His parents had thrown him a big celebration with a huge chocolate cake, straight from the Chocolate Factory. So many times during the party, he had wanted to take his parents aside and tell them the truth, but he had never dredged up the courage. His own cowardice angered him, even though he had tried to rationalize his behavior. After all, it would be embarrassing if they knew the truth – but he knew that was just an excuse. This was his entire fault anyway. He had wanted to win the race, and that was exactly what he had done.
Sighing, he jumped to his feet and hurriedly left the room. Perhaps he didn’t have the courage to tell his parents right now, but there was someone that deserved the truth more than anyone and that was Greysoon. The Pteri would have won and he should know that he had been cheated. The Cybunny tried to steel his nerves and he walked downstairs and towards the front door. He knew he had to do this.
“Where are you going?” his mother asked, stepping out of the kitchen.
“I just have to do something right now,” he answered, hoping his vague answer would satisfy her.
“But it’s late,” the Poogle insisted. “I’m sure whatever it is can wait until tomorrow.”
“No, it can’t,” he responded, knowing that if he waited he would probably come up with at least a dozen reasons why Greysoon would never have to know. “I’m sorry,” he muttered, opening the door and disappearing into the twilight.
“Wait!” she cried after him, running to the doorjamb, but he never slowed. He knew that she could never catch up with him even if she tried. That was especially true right now.
Running faster than the approaching night, he hurried down paths and he hoped that he remembered where Greysoon had lived. He had only seen the neohome once a long time ago, but he usually had a good sense of direction. His luck held out because a few twists and turns later, he found the luxurious neohome where his former rival lived. It was a mansion, without question, constructed of white stone and marble, and Twitch felt a little out of place as he approached the lovely abode. Before he could change his mind, he knocked on the door and waited for someone to answer.
Soon, an elegant Faerie Lenny answered the door and curiously appraised him. “May I help you?” she asked softly.
“Is Greysoon here?” he asked nervously.
“Yes,” she answered. “Are you one of his friends? It’s a bit late for a visit, isn’t it? Still, it might do him good seeing as he’s not feeling well.”
“He’s not feeling well?” Twitch repeated, feeling his dread coil about in stomach like an angry Cobrall.
“I think he might be coming down with the neoflu,” she elaborated. “He started becoming ill just after the race earlier today. If you want to see him, that would be great. I’m sure he’ll like the company, but don’t stay too long. It is late and he really needs his rest.”
“I’ll do that,” he agreed. “Uh, which room is his?”
The Lenny smiled at his confusion. “Turn right at the top of the steps and it’s the fourth door on the left.”
“Thanks,” he said, as he approached the broadest staircase he had ever seen and made his way upstairs. He walked to the door he assumed was Greysoon and knocked softly.
“Come in,” called a weak voice from inside.
Taking a deep breath, he opened the door and stepped inside a room nearly as big as his entire neohome. The Pteri was lying on the bed, a sheet draped across his body. “I didn’t expect to see you,” he said, slowly. “Twitch, isn’t it?”
“That’s my nickname,” Twitch answered. “How are you feeling?”
“Not too good,” Greysoon replied. “I just feel really weak... and slow. I know that doesn’t make any sense, but I just feel like the faster I try to move – the slower I go.”
“Did it start during the race today?” Twitch asked, fearing he knew the answer.
“Yeah,” Greysoon said. “I was just fine until just after we started. Weird, isn’t it?”
“Really weird,” agreed Twitch tonelessly.
“Mom thinks it’s the neoflu,” the green Pteri continued, “but I’m not sure. The neoflu makes you feel weak and all, but this is different somehow. Have you talked to any of the other guys from the race today?”
Twitch shook his head, his fears and dread growing by the second.
“I talked to Terron, the desert Aisha who finished third, and he’s feeling the same way. It must be some new virus that’s going around.” Greysoon eyed him warily. “Are you feeling okay?”
“I feel a little sick to my stomach right now,” Twitch answered honestly.
“Well, you better be careful,” warned Greysoon, “because you might be coming down with whatever this is.”
“I will,” Twitch said, “In fact, I think I know what I need to do to make myself feel much better. I hope you’re okay soon!” Without given Greysoon a chance to comment on what he had said, Twitch left the room and rushed out of the neohome without even saying goodbye to the Lenny, who seemed confused by his behavior.
Finally, the Shoyru’s plan had come into the light, and Twitch was angry with himself for becoming a part of it. Onyx had cast a spell, a spell that Twitch had authorized, but it didn’t make the Cybunny run any faster. Instead, anyone he raced against would become slower. Twitch feared that they might even continually become slower until they couldn’t move at all, but he wasn’t going to let that happen. He would find Onyx now and somehow make him remove this horrible spell.
He ran deeper into the woods, following the ragged trail that Onyx had taken. Night was falling fast now as the last of the light slipped below the horizon, but Twitch continued with his search. He would find Onyx even in the darkest hours of the night.
Soon, he found the place where he knew the tent had been, but now the area was barren as if no one had ever stepped foot into this place. Twitch had too good of a sense of direction to doubt his instincts and he knew that this was place despite how it looked. Onyx had to be nearby.
“Onyx!” he screamed, his voice reverberating through the quiet of the forest, “Onyx! Show yourself!”
There was no answer as Twitch stood there, angrily peering into the night. It was as if the Shoyru sorcerer had never even existed. Frustrated and angry with himself, Twitch sat down in the clearing as he tried to figure out what to do next. It wasn’t just a matter of him never entering another race anymore. He had endangered the well-being of others by his own selfish wish and he had to do something.
As he sat there, the guilt and frustration weighed upon him heavily, and for the first time he felt exhaustion creeping up on him. He tried to keep his eyes open and watch for Onyx, but it was a losing battle. His body was demanding sleep and suddenly the soft ground of the clearing was very comfortable.
“I can’t go to sleep,” he mumbled, “I have to find Onyx and stop all this.” Yet, even his words were slurred with tiredness. “Think of poor Greysoon. Just because he was faster than me, he’s under a spell that will make him slow forever. That’s really not fair. I didn’t think it was fair before when he always won, but I didn’t want anything to happen to him – not like this.”
He continued talking to himself, but it was no use actually. He was still talking as he drifted into a deep sleep beneath the blanket of stars. For the moment, he was calm and peaceful.
Of course, that wouldn’t last.
To be continued...