There was someone at the door. They had rung and knocked at the same time, making Nixie think that maybe her sister had accidentally locked herself out, or that her dad was carrying something big and couldn't turn the knob himself. Either way, the Cloud Poogle would have to open the door, so she quickly traipsed down the stairs and turned into the foyer. A glance to the left showed her sister reading quietly in the living room. Shrugging to herself, Nixie opened the door and glanced at whoever was outside.
A Blue and a Pink Aisha that Nixie had never seen before stood on the other side. The Blue Aisha said something to Nixie that she didn't understand as intelligible, then did a sort of odd bow to her. Then the strangers stared.
A glance at the front of the door reminded Nixie that there was a scroll from Shenkuu hanging in front of them. An odd way to greet someone, the Poogle thought, by assuming they spoke the language of a decoration, though if she did she might have still found it odd.
"Um, hi," she finally said to the strangers. The Blue Aisha spoke up.
"Hi, how are you? We're here today," he continued without waiting for a response, "to-"
And then he went into a slight garble of words that Nixie didn't understand. Apparently this Aisha had a thing for speaking too fast and for slurring most of what he said.
"Excuse me? Sorry," she said with an attempt at a friendly smile, "I didn't understand you."
The two strangers smiled, and the Blue Aisha repeated himself.
"What we're doing," he said as he handed her a sheet of paper holding the names of a few dozen magazines, "is trying to collect enough points to win a trip to Krawk Island. Have you ever been?"
"Um, no," Nixie replied, a bit puzzled, but trying to appear friendly instead of confused. The two strangers were, apparently, selling magazines, but they never actually said so. "No, I've never been to Krawk Island."
The Blue Aisha let out another few strings of slurred and unintelligible words, ending it with "we do need a dancer" as he held out his half of what he expected to become a high-five with Nixie. Though she didn't even understand the relevance of what she had heard as real words from the Aisha, she completed the high-five anyway.
"Awesome," he said with a smile. The Pink Aisha also smiled, though she seemed like the follower instead of the talker of the pair. "Now," he continued, "we just need you to help us out by picking one of those magazines there. You don't even have to keep them, you can cancel them immediately, and the cool thing is that we still get to keep half of the credit. We even got some really poor Neopians to help us out."
"Yeah," the Pink Aisha chimed in, "just a few streets over. They hardly had anything, but they helped us."
"Can I get your name?" asked the Blue Aisha. "Just to prove that I'm talking to you."
"I'm Nixie." Though she wasn't interested in the magazines, Nixie was always a friendly Poogle, and she appreciated that these two Aishas had been out all afternoon in the heat. She was starting to sweat from just standing at the door. The Blue Aisha pulled out a sheet of paper.
"Can we come into the house so I can have something to write this on?"
Nixie wasn't so sure about leading two strangers into the house, but she was standing next to quite a sturdy wall.
"Um, sure, I mean, you could just write against this wall."
"Oh, I could sit here," the Blue Aisha said as he and his friend stepped into the house and moved past the wall and towards a chair, "and just use my lap to write." He sat and scribbled on a small slip of paper and handed it to Nixie. "This is to put on your door to keep other people from our group from bothering you."
Nixie smiled. The paper said "Bug Off."
"After all, Nixie," the Blue Aisha continued, "I'm sure you didn't expect two cute Aishas to show up today."
"Oh, of course not," Nixie said with a smile, playing along, but the rest of what the Blue Aisha said was another blur of quickly spoken words, followed by a motion for a high-five. Nixie was starting to think that he really liked high-fives. Nixie looked at the list of magazines. "I can't really buy any of these," she said.
"Oh of course you can!" both of the Aishas said at once with a smile.
"You don't even have to keep them," said the Pink Aisha. "What happens is that they'll send over a Neomail to confirm if you really want to subscribe to the magazine, and you can just tell them no and then it's done with!"
"Um, I dunno, I just-"
"We talked to some people who weren't intelligent at all," the Blue Aisha cut in, "and we even had to help them write the IOUs." He held up a couple of the IOUs that they'd apparently gotten. Someone who had an account at the National Neopian could order IOU service, giving them special bank paper to write out how much they were paying someone. The recipient of the IOU would take it to the bank, and the tellers would give them that amount of money from the writer's account, if everything was verified.
"But I don't have IOUs to write," replied Nixie. She didn't. She'd never ordered the service because she never really needed it.
"Oh come on," said the Blue Aisha, "you don't have to lie to me: I'm not your parent."
Both Nixie and the Pink Aisha laughed at the joke.
"But seriously," Nixie said with another chuckle, "I don't have IOUs to write!"
"Oh whatever," said the Blue Aisha in a friendly tone, "if the poor Neopians living in the slums had checks to write, I'm sure it's not a problem."
"But it's not a matter of how many Neopoints you have," Nixie explained with a giggle, "it's whether or not you do IOUs, and I don't."
"Well, we can do Neopoints too." The Blue Aisha shrugged, still writing something on a paper. What it was, Nixie could only guess.
"Um, I don't have any Neopoints on me either." Nixie usually kept everything in the bank until she needed it.
"Then our conversation is over." The Blue Aisha's tone had suddenly changed. There was no more mirth or hidden smiles behind his words, and his expression was no longer friendly. He quickly stood from the chair and took the list of magazines from Nixie.
Nixie scrunched her brow in confusion over the abrupt change.
"Oh, and I'll need our tag back," said the Blue Aisha as he took the "Bug Off" tag from Nixie and headed out the door with the Pink Aisha following. She wouldn't make eye contact with Nixie anymore.
"Well, good luck, guys!" Nixie said as they stepped back out onto the porch.
They didn't reply, and the Pink Aisha closed the door behind her, leaving Nixie standing in her confusion and slight offense over the sudden rudeness.
"What was that?" Nixie's sister called from where she had sat reading. She had heard parts of the conversation, and it had been a pretty odd one. Nixie walked over to the Purple Poogle and recounted the story of the two magazine selling Aishas who turned so suddenly rude.
Nixie would never know that the two Aishas she met that day weren't selling magazines at all, that there would never have been a Neomail to confirm a subscription to a magazine that she could cancel. She would never know that what the Aishas really did was take a Neopian's money, never to be heard from in any form again. Nixie would never know that there was no real prize trip to Krawk Island, or that everything the Aishas said about the poor Neopians and the not-so-smart Neopians was an attempt to make Nixie feel that, since she was smart and since her family did well enough, that she should "help" the two Aishas.
As she sat and told the story that she knew to her sister, Nixie eyed the two rude Aishas across the street as sweet old Mrs. Mindel wrote them out an IOU.