The Misadventures of a Red Hissi
Also by extreme_fj0rd
The doorbell rang at exactly half-past five.
"Coming!" Keller flittered towards the door on red Hissi wings. He twisted his tail around the doorknob and then backed away, letting the door swing open. "Hi, Hayden!"
The yellow Nimmo smiled. "Hi, Keller. Happy birthday!" He shoved a gift bag under the Hissi's nose, and Keller looked away automatically, even though tissue paper covered whatever was in it.
"You can put that on the table in the living room," Keller said. "Do you want to hang up your coat?"
"Come on. Half the people I know would kill for a look at their presents before it was time to open them," Hayden said, but he didn't push the issue. He set the bag down and took off his coat, hanging it up in the closet before the Hissi could offer to do it for him. Picking up the present again, the Nimmo followed Keller into the living room. "So who else is coming?"
“Sal, Ken, and Allan.”
“’Kay. Hey, can I show you a trick I learned?”
“Sure,” Keller said, gesturing for his friend to sit down. “What is it?”
“Hypnotism.” Hayden leaned forward. “A guy in my class at school taught it to me. Want to try being hypnotized?”
“Sounds like fun!” The Hissi settled on a beanbag chair. “Do I need to do anything?”
“Just watch the pendulum, and listen to my voice.” The yellow Nimmo pulled a weighted string out of his pocket and began to swing it in front of Keller.
“You are getting sleepy... Oh so very sleepy...”
The red Hissi’s head moved, swinging from side to side, following the movement of the weight. "This isn't--" working, Keller was going to say, but the next moment his face had gone slack and he was staring blankly at Hayden's weighted string.
Hayden kept swinging it gently so as to not break the trance. "You are... you are..." He faltered, trying to think of something funny Keller could do. The Hissi was so boring most of the time. Hayden wanted him to just be not afraid of looking ridiculous for a while, even if it meant hypnotism.
"You are..." The Nimmo glanced around for inspiration, and hit upon a day-old copy of the Neopian Times, opened to the comics section. "You are a Pink Lenny, Keller. You are a Pink Lenny. But somehow," Hayden continued, getting into it, "you have been put in the body of a red Hissi. You must find a way to get back into your proper form, Keller! You are a Pink Lenny!"
“What?” Keller’s face took on a look of indignation. “How could they do that?”
Quickly, before his experiment could get out of control, Hayden said, “When I snap my fingers three times, you will forget all about being hypnotized.” The Hissi’s head nodded, and Hayden stopped swinging the pendulum.
Keller blinked. Looking down at his body, no longer that of a handsome pink Lenny, but an ugly, snakelike Hissi, and, worst of all, red. It was an insult, not only to him, but to Lenny’s across Neopia. Looking up again, he saw Hayden sitting on a chair.
“Who did this?” he hissed, head rising up. The yellow Nimmo didn’t seem at all surprised or disconcerted at Keller’s form, unlike the Hissi.
“I don’t know,” Hayden said. “What happened?”
“What? You can’t see what happened to me? I’m a Hissi, dolt!”
“What’s wrong with that?”
Hayden, Keller decided, was completely missing the point. “I used to be a Lenny, in case you hadn’t noticed. And now I am a Hissi. An ugly snake that must slither on the ground,” Keller said, completely ignoring that fact that Hissi have wings.
"What happened to me?" Keller repeated.
Hayden just shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe the alien Aishas kidnapped you and turned you that way." He hid a smile. This was working even better than he had expected.
"Well, I certainly can't stay this way." The Hissi floated up out of his chair without even thinking about it, flapping his wings automatically. "Is the Rainbow Pool open? Where's Julia?" he added, naming his owner. "She must have a Lenny Morphing Potion around. And, and maybe she has a pink paint brush I can use. Julia!" he shouted. He glared at his friend, who was just sitting there. "Well, come on, you idiot, help me!"
Hayden scrambled up from his chair quickly. "Yes, Keller. How about I go ask Julia about the morphing potion and the paint brush? You just wait here," he said. "You must still be woozy after the alien Aishas kidnapped you like that."
"O... okay," Keller said, settling back down. Now that Hayden mentioned it, he did feel a little unbalanced.
Hayden left the room, hoping that Keller wouldn’t do anything too stupid while hypnotized. He left the house, deciding to wait a bit, and then head back in to check on Keller.
Keller, having settled down to try and dispel the wooziness, was thinking of ways to return to his normal form, and discarding them almost as quickly. Until... Maybe if I bleach myself, I’ll turn pink! He leapt up, as much as a Hissi can leap, and made his way to the closet where Julia would keep such things, cursing all the while his Hissi form.
The closet door loomed over him, the doorknob an irritant. He didn’t have the height he normally had, and neither did he have hands, or even wings high up enough to reach the doorknob. Oh, the indignity of it all, he thought, reaching up with his tail to open the door.
His tail slipped right off the doorknob, and Keller glared up at it.
"Stupid Hissi tail," he muttered, and tried again, fluttering up a little to get a better angle on it. He had to get back to being a Pink Lenny...
This time, it worked. The closet door creaked slowly open, displaying all of the things stored inside it. It was mostly tools. But back behind the screwdrivers, Keller could see the edge of the label of the bleach bottle. He pushed aside a few things with his tail and reached back for it, but it was too far back. Keller muttered under his breath and fluttered into the closet as far as he could go, poking his tail in over the shelves until it met the cool plastic of the bleach jar.
Meanwhile, Hayden was strolling over Keller's lawn, humming to himself. He paused as he reached the edge of the grass, and turned back. Maybe he should go check on Keller... Nah, he thought, and started strolling back the other way.
Wrapping his tail around the jar, Keller pulled it out, trying not to knock everything over in the process. He almost succeeded. Just as the bleach was clearing the last obstacle, a broom, his tail twitched, sending the jar banging in to the broom. Keller watched it begin to tilt, falling towards him.
He dodged it, almost dropping the jar of bleach in the process, but could do nothing about the loud crash that echoed through the house. Pulling the jar towards him, Keller stared at it in frustration. How was he supposed to open it without hands, or even feet?
Hayden was almost back to the door of Keller’s house when he heard the bang. Running to the door, he opened it, and raced to the living room, where he had left Keller. Entering the room, he stopped. It was empty.
"Keller! Keller?" Hayden raced through the house, flinging open doors as he went and peering into all spaces he thought might be big enough to hold a Hissi.
"Hayden?" Keller's owner glanced up from her copy of the Neopian Times as he ran past. "What's wrong?" She stood up.
"Oh." The Nimmo glanced one way, and then the other. He didn't like to admit he'd lost track of Keller, or that he'd hypnotized Julia's Hissi into thinking he was really a Lenny. But if he wanted not to lie, he'd have to. He took a deep breath. "I'm looking for him," he said. "Hide and seek. Except, um, I couldn't find him. So I figured if I ran through he might think there was an emergency and he'd come out of hiding."
"And do you think he's in danger?"
Hayden hesitated. "No," he said. "Nah. He must've just hid really well."
"Okay." Julia sat back down and opened her newspaper. "You could try the basement," she said, as an afterthought.
"Good idea." Hayden walked away, pretending calm, and then started running again. He threw open the door to Julia's room, then Keller's, and there was no one there. He flung wide the door to the bathroom--
"Keller!" The Hissi had somehow gotten a jar of bleach, and was trying to open it. At Hayden’s voice, he fluttered up a ways, and then relaxed. “Hayden! You’ve got to help me! Here, open this for me, please?”
Keller shoved the jar at Hayden, who took it reflexively. “Keller,” he began, but he was cut off.
“Please? Then I can go back to being pink, at least.”
Hayden set the bleach down, worried at how obsessed the Hissi had gotten. How was I going to get him to snap out of it? Oh yeah.
Hayden snapped his fingers. Once, twice, three times.
The Hissi’s posture changed, and he looked a little dizzy.
“Hayden? How’d I get here?”
The Nimmo smiled. “Doesn’t matter. Come on, everyone else will be here soon.”
There came a knock on the door, perfectly timed.
"Oh! I wonder who it is!" Keller fluttered out of the bathroom quickly. Hayden glanced at the bottle of bleach. He returned it to its shelf in the other room before going to see who had arrived.
It was all of the other guests, and their presents sat with Hayden's on the table. They were sitting in the living room. Ken, a red Elephante, was talking a mile a minute about something funny that had happened on the walk over. Hayden sat down across from Keller, watching him for any lingering signs of believing he was a Pink Lenny. There didn't seem to be any.
Ken finished his story, and they all laughed appreciatively. Then Keller fluttered up. "Let's have cake first," he said, "and then we can open presents." Everyone smiled at the mention of cake, and Hayden got the cake out. Each of the pets took turns placing candles in it, and then Keller tried to light them, giving up after several failed attempts.
“You light them, Sal,” he said, passing the matches to her.
The green Korbat lit the candles on her first try, and Keller blew them out in a single breath. Cutting the cake in to five pieces, the five friends began to eat the cake, not talking except to say how good the cake was. Ken, the first to be finished, talked excitedly about things they had done on past birthday parties until Keller, laughing, made him stop.
“We’ll never finish eating at this rate, Ken.”
“Okay, okay,” Ken said almost bouncing in excitement. “How about you open your presents while the others finish? You’re almost done, anyway.” They had brought the presents into the dining room with them. Keller grinned, looking at them.
"Well, okay." The Hissi looked around at them. "Which one should I open first?"
They all squabbled over whose present Keller could open first, but at last it was determined that Sal's would be opened first; then Allan's; then Ken's and Hayden's.
The Korbat's present turned out to be an uncommon, even rare, book Keller had wanted for ages; Allan, a blue Kacheek, gave him a codestone with a note that said he had the rest of a full set to give Keller--"because I know you've been talking about training for the Battledome," Allan explained. Keller thanked both of them and turned to Ken's present. It was wrapped in blue paper and tied up neatly with a ribbon. He pulled off the ribbon and let the paper fall back.
"Thanks, Ken," Keller said, uncertainly. The others stared at the present, not sure of what their reaction should be. Keller pulled over Hayden's present and rustled through the tissue paper to the present, finally pulling out an object.
"Thanks, Hayden." The Hissi tried to put the right amount of enthusiasm in his voice, but it still wavered. There was something strangely familiar about Hayden's present, and Ken's too. But what was it?
"Anyway," Keller said, putting it out of his mind, "my owner's setting up a treasure hunt for us in the rest of the house right now. She'll come and get us when it's done."
"Speaking of which," Julia said, coming into the dining room. "It's all finished," she told them. "Go ahead! Here's your first clue."
Keller took it and read it out loud to the others.
"Do you have bookcases? I bet the next clue is there," Allan said. "Let's go look!"
The pets ran off. Julia frowned at the mess of wrapping paper and began to clean it up, pulling it carefully out from around the presents: the book, the codestone, the Lenny morphing potion, and the pink paintbrush.