A New Friend: Part One
We were caught. I heard the tap of Ruby’s hoof tapping on the floor. I turned around to see the red Uni staring angrily at me. Toby, my Puppyblew, was still munching away at the chocolates. We’d both found the chocolate box (which is the box where we keep all the chocolates in, duh!) and had started munching away at the chocolates. Now, we had been caught, in big trouble, and Toby was still munching away at the delicious treats, without a care in the world.
“Buster26889!” Ruby yelled. I held back a growl. I absolutely hated it when someone called me by my full name.
“What? Can’t you see we’re snacking?” I said, acting casual.
“More like having a meal! You know those chocolates were for when Lollypop comes over!”
I sighed. Lollypop was one of our closest neofriends. Well, our owner Caz’s closest neofriend. She has a blue Peophin called Sky, a blue Lupe called Max, and a blue Gelert called Lassie. Apparently, she has a new pet. We don’t know what type of Neopet, or what colour it is; we just know it’s an adopted pet.
“Now what are they going to have as snacks!?” Ruby yelled on.
I picked up a white chocolate Lupe with its head bitten off.
“Leftovers?” I said.
Ruby snorted angrily and pointed to the bathroom.
“Get cleaned up; you’ve got chocolate all over your face,” she said. Her eyes rolled over to Toby, who was still eating away. “Stop him from eating any more and the clean him up too. Go on. NOW!”
I picked the little Puppyblew up and took him to the bathroom. I washed all the chocolate off him, and then looked at myself, a red Lupe, in the mirror. There really was chocolate all over my face. I splashed some water onto my face when I heard Toby barking madly, which was a sign that somebody was knocking on the door.
“I’ll get it!” yelled my recently painted sister, a cloud Kougra called Bibi.
“I’m coming too! I want to see the new pet!” said Pouncer, my younger red Kougra brother.
I soon heard the door open, which was soon followed by the sound of Lollypop’s loud voice that echoed through the house. Then came the voice of Caz greeting her and her pets. Soon the front door seemed full of voices of my sisters and brother greeting everyone.
“Come on, Buster! You have got to see the new pet!” yelled Pouncer up the stairs.
“I’m coming!” I yelled back.
I grabbed a towel, wiped my face and walked out of the bathroom. As I reached the top of the stairs, I stopped and gasped. I’d expected the new pet to be a Xweetok or an Ixi, as Lollypop always seemed interested in them. But no, this pet was not what I was expecting. Chatting away to Bibi and Pouncer was a beautiful yellow Lupe, with an almost golden coat that shone in the light and a fluffy yellow tail that was wagging joyfully. Her yellow eyes twinkled without stopping.
Then I saw Bibi say something to her and then point in my direction. The Lupe turned around and froze the moment her eyes saw me. Her tail drooped and the twinkling in her eyes came to a pause. She stood there, staring at me with her mouth half open. It seemed like fear had grabbed her and left her in shock.
“Buster, this is Sunnydaze, Sunnydaze, this is Buster,” said Bibi, who hadn’t yet noticed that the Lupe was somewhat scared of me, even though we hadn’t ever met.
I shook my head and put a friendly smile on my face. I walked down the stairs, trying to make myself look friendly so that Sunnydaze could see that I was nothing to be afraid of. As I got closer to her, I saw three very faint scars running in line with each other from her left ear to the bottom of her left eye. It was hard to see, but was definitely there. It looked as if it hurt a lot when she had it. I looked closer at it. Definitely made by a pet. But what pet? A Bori, perhaps? Whatever it was, it was mean.
I suddenly noticed that I had been staring at Sunnydaze for a long time and she was beginning to look at me as if there was something not quite right with my brain. I shook my head and blinked several times to get me back to reality.
“Hi, I’m Buster,” I said, while putting a friendly smile on my face. Sunnydaze went back into fear.
All that night she seemed to try to dodge me, looking scared every time I went near her. I began wondering if this had something to do with her scar. If so, why? Did I somehow look like the pet that did it? No, I couldn’t; a Lupe could never make a scar as big and deep as that. It was quite amazing that it was so hard to see, because when I looked closely I could tell straight away that it was bad.
I just couldn’t understand. Sunnydaze was chatting away at my sisters and brother, happily making friends with them, while I sat at the other end of the living room, my thoughts giving me a headache. Later on, after three whole hours of me being ignored by that rude Lupe, they all left home. My family said goodbye to Lollypop’s, and as soon as the door closed I started to protest about Sunnydaze.
“Who does that Lupe think she is!?” I bellowed. “I mean, she could’ve at least smiled at me!”
“I don’t know. I think she might have a phobia of Lupes or something...” said Bibi.
“How could she have a phobia of Lupes? She’s a Lupe herself!”
“Maybe she’s afraid of herself as well,” Pouncer joined in.
I slapped my hand onto my forehead. I like Bibi and Pouncer, but sometimes they just never helped.
“Or maybe she’s a hygiene freak and saw a bit of chocolate on your mouth!” Bibi giggled.
“Yeah, that could work, Bibi. And then she thought that you liked having a dirty face and didn’t want to know you!” said Pouncer, wide-eyed and full of excitement.
“I think we just solved a mystery, bro!” said Bibi, giving Pouncer a high-five.
“What on earth are you two talking about? I doubt the reason that Sunny is afraid of Buster because he has a dirty face...” said Ruby as she walked into the lounge with us.
“First, I don’t think it’s possible to be so scared over a bit of chocolate. Second, that is the most insane reason that anyone could come up with, and third, you call her Sunny?” I asked.
“Well, her name is long, so she told us to call her Sunny,” said Pouncer.
I sighed. “Well, I’ll just call her Sunnydaze for now.”
“No need to sound so cold about her, Buster. She might have had something happen in the past, you can never know with adopted pets,” said Ruby.
Once she said that, I remembered the scar on Sunnydaze’s face. Maybe Ruby was right; maybe she’d been shaken by something or someone before she got adopted, and it had something to do with a Lupe. I was almost certain of that.
“Come on, you lot; you’d better be off to bed now. It’s getting late,” said Caz, and then she yawned. “I think I should get some shut eye as well!”
The next morning I woke up to Toby licking my face, anxious to get his breakfast. I yawned and gently pushed the little Puppyblew off my bed.
“Come on, boy, time to get some grub!” I yawned.
As we walked past Bibi and Pouncer’s room, I peeked my head through the door to see their beds empty. That meant that they were up before everyone else like normal and were most probably fighting over who got to fill their bowl with their neocrunch cereal first. As I reached the bottom of the stairs, I knew I was right. They really are the stupidest Kougras I ever come across, really.
“But you were first yesterday!” complained Bibi.
“But you got to be first the two mornings before then!” proclaimed Pouncer.
“But you were still first yesterday!” Bibi whined.
“If I fill it first today you can be first tomorrow morning and the morning after that, I promise.”
“But-” Bibi was interrupted by Toby bounding at her paws.
“Let me solve your problem,” I said, and snatched the box of neocrunch out of Pouncer’s hand and filled both of their bowls.
“There!” I said, grabbing a bowl myself and filling it.
“Awww, Buster! You ruined it now!” Bibi whined.
“Race you to the table,” said Pouncer, and they both ran over to the dining table, miraculously avoiding dropping their bowls.
That afternoon, Caz and Ruby went out to the NC Mall together, leaving me stuck in the house with Bibi and Pouncer playing about with each other. There was a sudden and unexpected knock at the door, soon followed by Toby’s barking. I had no idea who it would be; Caz hadn’t told me that we were having visitors. I went and opened the door to see Lassie and Sky holding Sunnydaze so that she couldn’t run. As soon as I opened the door the Lupe froze once again, but was woken up by Toby bounding up at her and licking her face.
“Uh... should I know something?” I asked.
“Actually, yes, there is,” said Lassie.
“Come inside and say, it’s freezing,” I said, opening the door wide enough to let them in.
“Sunny!” said Bibi at first glance of them.
“Hey, Bibi! Hi Pouncer!” Sunnydaze smiled as she bounded over to play with the Kougras.
“Sky, you stay with Sunny; Buster, into the kitchen,” commanded Lassie.
I followed her obediently into the kitchen. By now I knew that all this had to do with Sunnydaze.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Lassie started.
“How? Can you read minds?”
“Stop being so sarcastic, Buster. I know that you think that Sunny-”
“Sunnydaze!” I broke off.
“Whatever. I know that you think she’s rude, but it’s really not her fault. She acted the exact same with Max, but now she’s used to him, but we still can’t seem to squeeze the reason on why she’s so scared of Lupes out of her. So we thought, maybe you could try?”
“What? Why me? Why don’t you choose Bibi or Pouncer or Ruby to do it? At least she doesn’t ignore them,” I grunted.
“Well, I’ve noticed she likes to spend more time with friends than family, and, well, if you did it, then she might overcome her fear as she spends more time with other Lupes, other Lupes meaning you and Max.” Lassie looked desperate.
She was good. I shrugged as if I didn’t really care anymore.
“Okay, I’ll do it. But only for her sake,” I said.
I walked out of the kitchen to see Sunnydaze happily yapping away to Bibi and Pouncer. I thought that she’d be one of those pets that just endlessly talk and gossip, more to be Ruby’s friend than mine. I was dreading what I was about to do.
“Hey,” I said to her. She froze again, but a bit calmer this time.
“Uuuhh... we haven’t exactly spoken to each other before. I’m guessing you know that my name is Buster; I know yours is Sunnydaze...” I wasn’t too good at this. “Uhh, so, if you could be painted by any paintbrush, what would it be?”
“I wouldn’t get painted.” As soon as my sentence finished she suddenly unfroze and didn’t answer shyly as I’d expected, but quite loud and bold, as if it had insulted her. “I’m called Sunnydaze, and the main colour of the sun is yellow; you can’t get a royal or spotted sun now, can you?”
“Sorry, I just wondered; no need to annoy you. But I guess you make some sense, but still, wouldn’t it be nice to be painted?”
“No! I don’t see the use in wasting so many neopoints to just make your pet look better. Might as well wash its coat until it shines. It’ll be cheaper.”
“Well, sorry. I’d like to be painted Fire or something like that.”
“Think you’d be able to afford it?”
“Of course I would. Well, after a few months of saving neopoints, that is. Caz got enough neopoints to paint Bibi cloud, didn’t she?” I was getting a little frustrated with her. Who did she think she was?
“Hey, no need to get angry; it’s better to say the truth than lie,” she said.
Wow. This Lupe is weird, I thought.
“Call me Sunny,” she said as a wide smile grew on her face.
Before we could say anything else, Bibi suddenly interrupted us. “Can we go to the beach at Mystery Island?”
“Ooh! I love the beach there! Buster, you could leave a note somewhere for Caz and Ruby, in case they come back and notice you're not here,” said Sky.
Before I knew it, we were all sitting on the sand of Mystery Island’s beautiful beach. Sky instantly dipped into the sea, with Bibi and Pouncer following her, laughing and giggling, and Lassie went off to find a spot to sunbathe.
“Can you swim?” I asked. What a stupid question.
“What kind of question is that? I’ve never met a single Lupe that can’t swim in my life!” Then she paused. “I’m not saying that as an insult if you can’t.”
“Of course I can!”
“So why exactly are we standing here like lemons while the hyperactive Kougras and the water-mad Peophin have fun in the sea?”
That was all she needed to say. We were both running down to the sea together in an instant and soon enough soaking wet and splashing each other. Bibi and Pouncer leapt onto us then, and then we all decided to have a proper swim right out until the Kougras started to struggle, so in the end we just splashed about in the shallows.
Sunny and I became quite good friends after that. We saw each other almost every day. She was good company at school, too, as I normally wander alone there, Ruby playing with her best friend, Emerald, a green Uni, and Pouncer and Bibi stuck together. Even on our days off school we’d give each other a short visit, or Lollypop would take her family for a walk with mine. She wasn’t such bad company compared to when she’d freeze at the sight at me. One day we just lay on the grass on the top of a hill, watching the clouds slowly move across the blue sky when a question that I’d been longing to ask since the moment we met just randomly popped out of my mouth.
“When we first met, why did you get so scared?”
Sunny sat up and looked at me, then up at the sky. That moment I thought that she was just going to walk off, but she didn’t. Instead she let out a deep sigh.
“Well, it’s quite a long story, but I guess it’s got to be told to someone sometime,” she said, and looked at me. I nodded to urge her on.
“It all started with my first owner; I loved him and thought the world of him and all that. But then the real adventure begins when he sends me to the pound to be abandoned. He handed me over to that scary looking Techo who got a firm grip of my jewelled collar as I watched in horror as my owner walked through the doors, without a second glance at me. But I wasn’t going to give up that easily. As the Techo was about to drag me into the back room, where I could hear all the other poor pets crying and howling with depression, I lifted my head and snapped my jaws together near his hand. I didn’t actually bite him -I’m not that kind of pet– but it was close enough for him to let go and I was out through the doors like a shot. I ran for quite a long time then. I didn’t know where I was going; I just ran. I knew one thing for definite- I was not going back to my owner. If he didn’t want me, it would be a waste of time just escaping from the pound; he’d only take me back. No, I was going to be a wild Lupe. I tore my jewelled collar off, threw it to the floor, and left it there for some other pet to find.
“So from then on I was a wild Lupe. I definitely wasn’t the only one in Neopia. I met several other wild pets, and we were all quite friendly to each other, shouting a hello to each other from a distance, or just trotting over and have a quick chat to hear about how they cope. I coped easily. I’d go to the Giant Omelette every day, take a slice, have a good munch at it, and then do whatever I want to do for the rest of the day. If I was lucky, I’d sometimes find some neopoints on the floor and spend it on something cheap at the marketplace. I didn’t think life could get any better than as it was at that moment.
“Then, one day, that all changed. I’d accidentally collected a carrot and pea omelette, the only slice I don’t like. I’d searched every corner of Neopia for lost NP, but I couldn’t find anything. By sunset I was starving, and regretted throwing the omelette away. Then, while I was searching for NP behind some shop at the marketplace, I suddenly felt like I was being watched. I turned around to see this huge shadow Lupe. He was massive. Almost twice the size of a normal Lupe. There was something bad about him, something not quite right. He said hello, and that his name was Dark Shadow; he seemed quite nice. But there was still this one thing that made him different from the other Lupes, not only his size. He asked for my name, I told him it was Sunnydaze. That moment he told me that if I stayed with him, as a member of a two pet pack, I’d never go hungry like I was at that moment, and that together we’d be a good team and all our problems would disappear. My instincts screamed at me to run, but I didn’t. I knew that if I did he’d only catch me and who knows what he would’ve done to me then. I also wanted to refuse his offer, but there was something in his eyes that hurt me, as if they were burning my mind, bruising it, and that was what forced me to accept.
“Life with him wasn’t as bad as I’d have expected at the beginning. He looked after me, made sure I was happy. I almost got to the point when I was glad that I’d accepted, but it went downhill after that. I was walking alongside him one day when I saw one of my fellow wild Lupes. She was blue, and we’d often see each other scavenging around Neopia Central. I trotted over to her and just as we reached conversation distance, Dark Shadow bolted between us both, growling angrily at the blue Lupe. As I was behind him, I couldn’t see his face, but I’m glad I didn’t. The poor blue Lupe froze for a second or two, whimpering quietly, and then ran away in terror yelping in panic. The growling that Dark Shadow had made was enough to terrify me, and I also noticed that the fur on his back was standing up, which made him look much taller. Once he’d gone back to his natural self, I asked him why he’d scared that poor Lupe away.
‘Because,’ he said, ‘Lupes can be very dangerous creatures; you never know what they can do to you.’
I found this hard to believe, but knew it would be worthless to argue. Things went from bad to worse from then on. Dark Shadow seemed to get more and more aggressive each time we came across another Lupe, and soon any pet. Then he seemed to be angry to me all the time, snarling and barking at me for no real reason at all. This got me scared, and the angrier he got, the more fear I had of him. Soon I got to the point when I could hardly sleep at night, and when I did I’d have nightmares of him waking up and just attack me for no reason while he wasn’t asleep. This got so bad I was exhausted every day because of the lack of sleep, and one day decided to pluck up the courage to tell Dark Shadow that I was leaving and that I couldn’t stay with him much longer. So, I did. At first, he stood still and stared at me. I suddenly thought that he’d just let me go, but I was stupid to think that. He lifted his paw and gave me a good whack across the face.”
“Is that how you...?” I looked at the scar on her face.
“Yep, that’s how that got there,” she said.
“So, what did you do next?”
“I did what any sensible pet would do. Run. The force of the attack threw me to the ground, but when I came back to my senses I quickly scrabbled to my paws and ran as fast as I could over to the pound, far too scared to look back. When I arrived, the Uni stared at my face in horror; I’m guessing I must have looked pretty awful as Dark Shadow’s claws were been very sharp. The Uni quickly mopped me up with a wet cloth, the cold water soothing my wound. Then I went to hospital for about a week to wait for my wound to heal into a scar.”
“How a week? I mean, a night or two, but a week?” I asked.
“Well, I had no owner to look after me, and in those cages in the pound the cut could’ve easily gotten infected. Anyway, it healed quickly and nicely. Then, when it was fully healed, I was taken to the pound and up for adoption. Three days later Lollypop came and adopted me at first sight, as I didn’t whine like the rest of the pets in that pound did.”
“So, how were you so afraid of me again?”
“It wasn’t only you I was afraid about. It was every Lupe I saw. If I even looked at them they’d remind me of Dark Shadow, even if they were baby Lupes. And, well, after the experience he gave me, I was terrified that he’ll one day find me again, and that next time I won’t be so lucky.”
“What makes you think that there’ll be a next time?” I asked. I seemed to be full of questions.
Sunny looked at me, and then watched as the sun set. I hadn’t realised how long we’d been sitting there. I watched as its last rays loomed on top of the hill, and then vanish, leaving the sky a bright orange and start to slowly darken. Sunny sighed.
“I don’t know. It’s just that I still sometimes have those nightmares of him attacking me as I slept, not often, but I still have them. Anyway, no matter how much I try, I carry on thinking that he’s searching for me, and one day he will find me he’ll shred me into pieces,” she said, looking back at me.
“But why would he still be looking for you? He’s already attacked you once; why would he hurt you again? I still don’t know why he asked to look after you in the first place,” I said, confused.
“I already told you, I don’t know. It’s just that I have this feeling, okay?”
Her eyes looked half as if she was about to cry and half as if she wanted to rip a plushie into pieces. She must’ve felt terrible.
“Well, if he dares to come anywhere near you, I’ll beat him up,” I said, smiling. Sunny laughed.
“Really?” she said sarcastically.
“Yeah, I’m strong enough. I’ll kick him hard enough to send him flying from the Lost Desert to the Space Station!” I said, punching my fist into the air. Sunny grinned, and then frowned.
“You really think you could fight Dark Shadow?”
“Well, if it could scare him away from you, I would.”
Sunny smiled, and then looked up at the sky, which was now a blue-green colour, with the stars twinkling away. There was a long silence, soon to be broken by Sunny.
“Do you think I’m... weird?” she asked, not taking her gaze off the sky.
“What!? No! I would never-” Then I stopped, remembering my first thoughts of her in our first conversation. “Well, I don’t think you are, anyway.”
“I think that’s why my first owner got rid of me, because I’m weird and he wanted to get rid of me so that he could get a more normal pet.”
“Well, if that’s the case, your old owner was stupid, because you’re not weird, you’re more...” I thought of a word to describe her. “Unique.”
“I don’t know. I mean, I’m the only pet in Lollypop’s family that isn’t blue, which makes me different to them all for a start.”
“You’re not different! Before Bibi was painted cloud she was the only blue in the family, and yet she’s not counted as different!” I said, stunned.
“Thanks.” She smiled, but still had her gaze fixed to the stars.
We sat there for a long time, just watching the stars shine in silence. I got a bit startled when I felt something touch my paw. I looked down to see Sunny’s yellow paw on top of mine. I looked up at her and smiled. She kept her gaze on the sky. Then our tails slowly twisted together. Then, Sunny gently rested her head onto my shoulder. Then we just sat there, her paw on mine, tails curled together, her head on my shoulder, watching the world go by. I was happy at that moment, but I couldn’t help wondering. Would Dark Shadow ever return?
To be continued...