The Sleeping King: Part Four
That night, with his full memory restored, Bluetail looked back over the last year. What had happened to him? He must have been mad. He looked back at how he had thought and behaved with disgust. However, it didn’t seem to matter now he had remembered; he was free. For the first time since the night he had arrived, Bluetail found himself unable to sleep. Nevertheless, this was a good thing, as it showed he was no longer under Turmaculus’s spell. In his head he set out what he must do. First thing in the morning, he must talk to Stripes, then Flutter. If he were to save Flutter from being another slave of ‘The King’, then he must talk to her repeatedly about her owner; it was the only way. Flutter, he realised, must be the newer pet of his previous owner. Really, Tonubakanari! He thought, smiling, you haven’t learnt anything since I got eaten!
It was also necessary, he decided, to see if anyone else could remember anything. If his memory had been triggered by his owner’s name, then what would stop Patch or anyone else’s memory being triggered off? If he could remind others of the past, and make others want to leave then maybe – just maybe – if they all worked together, there might be a way out of this horrible place. He hadn’t thought of escape for over a year, but suddenly, it seemed the most attractive possible thing to do.
He woke in the morning facing the ceiling, which he hadn’t done for ages. If felt strange, yet wonderful. With the smell of breakfast filling the air around him, he tiptoed across the beds and walked to the back of the cooking pot. It was here that he found Stripes. Stripes, who might have expected to see Flutter standing in front of him, but certainly no one else, was very, very, very surprised. So surprised in fact, that he fell off the ladder he’d been standing on and hit the ground loudly. Then he looked up, ignoring the fact that his body ached and cried,
“Impossible! You can’t be awake; you ought to be asleep.”
Bluetail smiled at the old Spyder’s shock. “Well as you can see, Stripes, old friend, I’m perfectly and wonderfully awake.” He held out a soft, plushie paw and helped Stripes to stand up again on his eight spindly legs.
“But how?” Stripes stared at him in wonder. Obviously this had never happened before.
So Bluetail explained how he had been talking to Flutter and how he had recognised Tonubakanari’s name. “I remember everything now,” he explained, “to tell you the truth; I’m quite ashamed of myself.” Here he paused. “Stripes, do you think that if I am no longer under Turmaculus’s entrancement, then others could be set free from it too?”
The corner of Stripes’s mouth twitched into a smile. “I think, Bluetail,” he said cheerfully, “that that might just work.”
Later, Bluetail explained the plan to Flutter, who seemed to understand perfectly. They met with Stripes during their free time to discuss what actions to take. Then, that very afternoon, they set into place their mission. They were going to convert the entire little village. By the time they had finished, if their plan worked, not a single petpet would still worship Turmaculus as they did now. It was going to be hard, but it was going to be worth it. They were going to escape. The plan might be slow, but he decided to work on his friends first.
“Patch,” he said to his friend that evening as they lay in bed, “I don’t suppose you remember the owner you had before you came here?”
Patch shrugged, staring at the ceiling. The lights hadn’t gone out yet, and everyone around them was talking. Flutter was questioning Teeth on exactly the same thing.
“Were they a boy or girl?”
“And what species?”
“Does it really matter?” Patch looked over at him, annoyed. “The King’s my owner now.”
“It’s just a thing to talk about, Patch; it’s not going to upset him.”
Patch shrugged. “You’ve gone weird lately. Every since that Flutter girl arrived.”
“Really?” said Bluetail, pretending that what Patch was suggesting was completely absurd. “I feel fine. Do you, though? You look a bit peaky.”
“I do?” Patch sat up straight and stared at Bluetail. “Do you think I’ve got a fever or something?”
Bluetail had only said it to get his attention; he hadn’t meant to cause any distress. “It’s probably nothing.”
“No, it might be something!” Patch sounded really worried. “I had neomites ages ago and it was horrible! So Souup had to patch me up and shove this thing into my skin and–”
Bluetail raised an eyebrow. “Who’s Souup?”
“Dunno,” said Patch, who seemed really bewildered. “It just kinda came out. I never met anyone called Souup before.”
“But you just said that you had neomites and that Souup had to cure you.” Souup must have been his owner, Bluetail decided, and the more times he said his name in front of him, the more he might remember.
Patch pondered for a little time, starching his back with his hide legs occasionally. “I do remember, somewhere, someone called Souup and lots of very itchy things and being injected but,” he shrugged, “the rest is blank.”
“Do you think that Souup is your owner?”
Patch gave him a look as if he were mad. “No silly, The King is my owner.”
Blue sighed, throwing himself backwards on his sleeping mat. It wasn’t enough; Patch was still a slave. He looked over at Flutter, who didn’t seem to be having any more luck with Teeth. Maybe if he made Patch remember something else...
“What species was Souup, Patch?”
Patch shrugged. “He was very small. And green, I think. He had trouble holding the injecting thingamabob. He had to get Toffel to do it instead!” Patch was laughing now, rolling about on his sleeping mat as if something was hilariously funny. He had obvious uncovered an interesting memory.
“Might he have been a pea Chia?” If this did not work, then Bluetail did not know what would. And yet it had to work. If he could convert Patch to his way of thinking, he could convert the rest too.
Patch stopped laughing and stood up, looking at Bluetail intently. “You know, Bluetail, I just think he might have been.” Patch looked down at the sleeping mat, his mind racing. “By Neopia,” he said, looking as if he had just realised that the world was going to end, “Was I complete insane? What are we doing here for? We should be escaping!”
Grinning widely, Bluetail lay back on his sleeping mat. Patch was converted. He looked over at Flutter, who winked at him and nodded. He nodded back, still grinning. Two down, ninety to go.
By the end of the week (for they now had a complete grasp of time), Bluetail and his friends had managed to give Flower, Droopy, Hugs and the rest of row 9 their memories back. With careful questioning they found themselves spilling out the lost memories and suddenly crying, “What the heck have I been doing here for the past few years without trying to escape?” Some were too eager and had to be restrained from escaping right away, but others wanted to plan everything out first. They held daily meetings with Stripes, thinking up different methods of escape. There were many suggestions, and by the end of the third week (by which time rows 6, 7 and 8 had also been converted into the ways of escape) they had come up with about four different plans. Their first was for one petpet to climb up Turmaculus’s throat and throw a rope down to them, but due to the fact it was impossible to climb up, this plan was decided against. Their next plan was to exit Turmaculus by going out the other way, but due to mess, this was quickly protested against and Hugs, who had come up with the idea, was forced to agree that another plan was needed. The third idea, which came from Bluetail himself, was to wait at the bottom of Turmaculus’s throat until another new petpet was swallowed and then to tell them to hold on and throw them a rope to help the rest of the petpets up. But as it might take months for another petpet to come, it was decided against. The fourth and final plan was come up with by a warf from row four. Having played ‘warf rescue’ millions of times before he arrived inside Turmaculus’s oversized stomach, he thought that if they made a tower of petpets, then the one on the top could scramble into Turmaculus’s throat and send a rope down for the others. With a little adjustments and a lot of work, it was decided that this would be their plan.
Rows 2 to 5 came as no problem, but row 1 was causing the problems. As superiors, they never really spoke to the other rows except to give orders, so getting to speak to them at all was hard enough, let alone trying to question them about their past owners. Worse of all, it was becoming impossible to hold meetings. Nine rows could hardly all disappear out into the back organs of ‘The King’ all at once without notice, so now, just the top ten escape squad attended the meetings, giving information to the others at every opportunity. The top ten consisted of Stripes, Bluetail, Flutter, Teeth, Patch, Hugs, Flower, Droopy, a ghost meepit called Redeye and the warf that had come up with the plan. Together, they tried to work out a way to convert row 1. They could not escape unless they all worked together.
“Our best bet is trying to go for Biscuit,” suggested Redeye. “After all, he’s the only one that talks to lower rows. If someone from row ten was to–”
But Bluetail shook his head. “Flutter and I have tried everything, but he won’t speak to us about it. We’ve done everything we can to try and persuade him to speak about his owner and we’re questioning him constantly, but he just goes on about Turmaculus being his owner now. We can’t seem to find a way to give him back his memory.”
“What about Angelina?” asked Droopy. “She might be possible.”
“Biscuit can be worked on yet.”
The nine of them turned to look at Stripes, who was looking back at them very thoughtfully. “The only reason why you can’t get Biscuit to remember his past is because he can already remember it.”
“What?” exclaimed the whole group in unison.
Stripes nodded. “He was the first after me and Turmaculus only got it going when the third, Angelina arrived. Biscuit serves him not because he is under some sort of spell, but because he wants to.”
“But why would anyone want to be a slave?” asked Flutter, just as confused as everybody else.
“Before he was swallowed, he had an owner that none of us would even like to imagine. A pirate Krawk that was more evil than imaginable. He treated him badly; he never played with him or spoke to him. He was always trying to take bites out of poor Biscuit,” (the whole group winced), “and now Biscuit hates all neopets. He would far rather serve a petpet like Turmaculus. And yet, if we could persuade him to want to escape and find a new, nicer owner, then he just might help us.”
The rest of the group nodded. “We’ll try our best.”
In the end, it was agreed that Flutter, being the newest, was to talk to Biscuit first. He had always looked after the younger and less-experienced of the group, so it seemed that he might be more likely to talk to her.
At dinner time, she lowered her voice and began to talk to Biscuit, hoping to get something out of him.
“You know,” she began, so that only him and Bluetail – who happened to be listening in to check it was working – could here, “I found a newspaper that The King had swallowed today.”
“Oh?” asked Biscuit between mouthfuls of stew.
“Yes, it had some rather interesting articles.”
“Can’t see why you’d be interested in anything else happening outside! We’ve got everything we need here!”
“Well, yes, but,” Flutter paused, being very careful about her words, “It did make a good read. You know, there was this article about cruel owners being horrible to their petpets. It was sick. It said that there was one neopet that had to be put down because he’d been trying to eat his petpet.”
Biscuit dropped his spoon, looked very scared for a moment, and then carried on eating. “Well, I’m not surprised at that; neopets are evil things.”
“Oh I don’t think so, though,” said Flutter sweetly, “because most of them are very kind to their pets. I remember my previous owner – before The King I mean – very well. He was lovely, never mean. Fed me all the time and talked to me and once, he even gave a petpetpet.”
Bluetail looked over at her suddenly, wondering if she was just saying that or if it was the truth. He never got me a petpetpet, he thought, annoyed.
“Your memory must be faulty,” said Biscuit, pretending to be perfectly calm. It was obvious that he didn’t like talked about owners, but didn’t want to upset Flutter.
“No, it’s not,” said Flutter thoughtfully. “I’m sure of it. I think that it’s just some owners that aren’t nice, because of the way their owners treat them. They’re not very many, though; most neopets are wonderful! For example,” she paused; the next thing she said might not go down so well with Biscuit, “the relationship I had with Tonubakanari was so different from the one we all have with The King. I mean, he was more of my friend than master, whereas with The King, we are nothing more than his servants.”
“That’s not true, Flutter; you shouldn’t say such things.”
“It is true! Listen to me, Biscuit. He never speaks to us or feeds us or helps us; we do everything ourselves! King Turmaculus is an evil fool who uses us, not an owner!”
“Stop saying that!” Biscuit shouted this time and his anger attracted the attention of everyone nearby. After a moment, everyone else settled down.
“Listen to me, Biscuit,” began Flutter in a hushed voice, “you and the rest of row 1 are the only people who still think that Turmaculus should be worshipped. Once row 1 is converted to our side, we are leaving this place once and for all. You are either with us or not; what do you say?”
He stared at her, open mouthed. “That’s mutiny!”
“No,” said Flutter, shaking her head, “It’s escape.”
Two weeks later, Bluetail found himself squashed underneath a pile of petpets. The had been trying to form a petpet tower in order to reach Turmaculus’s throat, but so far, it was not quite working.
Emerging from the pile of petpets, Bluetail wiped the sweat off his plushie brow and sighed.
“Come on, people, one more try!” called Biscuit, who seemed to be taking lead in this operation.
The largest petpets all crouched on the ground, forming the base. By now, they had given up on the idea of a tower, due to balance, and had come to the agreement that a pyramid would work best.
Once the first layer of petpets were standing steadily, the next layer clambered onto their backs. Then the next layer, then the next. And then, low and behold, ten layers up, they all fell down and Bluetail, who was in the sixth layer, got squashed again. It was a pity really, because they’d almost made it that time. 12 layers was all they needed.
On the millionth try – or at least what seemed like it – Biscuit shouted louder than ever and to everybody’s surprise, they reached layer eleven. Then, Tiny the Barbat climbed as carefully as possible to the top. Taking one step at a time and holding his breath as he did so, he made his way upwards. With one step left, he reached out and–
There was a loud cheer from every single petpet there; Tiny had made it, and they were going to be free. The rope was handed up from petpet to petpet until it reached the shivering Barbat that stood on the top. He looked up at the throat, wondering where to tie it.
“To his teeth!” cried somebody from inside the pyramid.
“To his gums!”
“To his insides!”
“Hold it yourself!”
And then, from in between the suggestions and recommendations came one sweet voice.
“Tie it to his tonsils!” cried Angelina, grinning her teeth in order to remain focused enough to keep up the petpet standing on top of her. Everybody cheered; it was the perfect idea.
Tiny looked up at Turmaculus’s tonsils, which seemed miles away to him. He was going to have to make a jump for it; he was going to have to take a risk. But he didn’t want to; he was scared. Would they force him?
“Jump!” cried someone from the pile, making his worst fears come true. Tiny looked around him one last time, and leapt.
He had kicked off hard in order to get the distance, and this made the entire pyramid collapse. There were lots of screams and in the end, Tiny, who was clinging onto Turmaculus’s tonsils for dear life, could see nothing but a sea of petpet squirming beneath him.
“Tie the rope!” screamed the sea, “Tie the rope.”
Tiny looked down at them with a terrified face. Yet there, in the middle of the sea was Bluetail, smiling up at him. Tiny thought he seemed a pleasant chap and therefore, was encouraged.
Taking the rope in-between his small wings, Tiny tied the rope to the tonsils, grabbed onto the rope as it unravelled. A moment later, stopped falling just a meters from the ground, the rope having run out. He’d done it; they were going to escape.
Amidst the cheering and sighs of relief, petpets began to climb up the rope in threes. Bluetail, Flutter and Patch went first, as they were the main reason that this escape was working in the first place. Bluetail climbed a foot up the rope before Flutter joined behind, and soon Patch was there too, all of three of them moving as one, placing one paw in front of the other as they edged slowly upwards. The rope was being held at the bottom by Biscuit and Stripes, but once Bluetail and his companions reached the top, they called down to be released, so that they could swing freely out of Turmaculus. But before they left this horrible place for good, Bluetail had to know one thing.
“Flutter, when we get out, what happens about Tonubakanari?”
“What do you mean?” asked Flutter from below him.
“Well, which one of him remains his pet?”
Flutter grinned wildly. “We’ll just have to share him!”
At the bottom, Biscuit let go of the rope and they began to swing. Clinging on to the rope, the first three escapees moved their weight from side to side, making their swings more ferocious. When they were near enough, the three of them let go, screaming in joy and they flew through the air.
In front of their flying bodies, they could see a light, coming ever closer. Bluetail stretched out his front paws, holding onto Flutter with on, and Patch with the other. They flew onwards, near and near to the light.
Inside a yellow domed petpet bed, in the top room of 62351 Training Square, on Mystery Island, a plushie puppyblew woke from his dreams. Poking his head out, he looked around the room. Next to his bed was another the same style, in which a faerie meepit lay, curled up and fast asleep. On the other side of the room were two bagatelle petpet bowls and two feepit petpet bath buckets. And in the middle of the room was a petpet pipe maze.
It was not a bad home for two petpets and it was large enough for all their friends. Patch, Teeth, Stripes, Hugs, Flower and even Biscuit were frequent visitors and came often with their owners. Biscuit’s new owner was a friendly JubJub who never tried to eat him, and all the others had returned to their previous masters. Patch was there with Souup almost every day, even though he had to travel all the way from Neopia Central.
Many years had passed since Bluetail emerged from Turmaculus, followed by the other 94 petpets who had been living there. Every single pet in the area had screamed in surprise and run around Meridell, panicking. The Defenders of Neopia had run to the scene to investigate, and after being told the story by Bluetail and the others, they had nailed a wooden sign into the ground and written on it, in big letters:
BEWARE OF KING TURMACULUS
HE JUST MIGHT EAT YOUR PETPET
Unfortunately, Turmaculus had woken up that very afternoon and eaten the sign. No one bothered to replace it and so his evil doings carry on.
As Bluetail went about his carefree life, he began to think more about his days in The King’s stomach. Why had Turmaculus done it? What had he wanted an army of petpets living in his insides for? Or had he wanted that after all? Was he perhaps just an innocent monster with a taste for petpets whose insides were splattered with magic forces? Did he belong in the Gallery of Evil with Dr Sloth and Count Von Roo? No matter how hard he thought, Bluetail could not work it out.
So let this be a warning to you, my friends, to not be deceived by the outlook of lazy, giant petpets. Beware! For inside the minds of the friendliest beings, lie secrets, magic and power. Let us always remember, throughout our happy Neopian lives, those poor petpets less fortunate than us. For example, the ones trapped inside the stomach of the Sleeping King.